Love is [NOT] a choice

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“Love is a choice.” This message is preached throughout both the secular and Christian circles, consistently and constantly. It’s promoted as a good thing. Something that shows commitment. Dedication. Value. And I think what we are really wanting is for people to choose to stay committed to what they already made a choice on. It’s an easy line to go to when someone is trying to rationalize lost feelings, the desire to cheat, the desire to leave, the emptiness they may feel inside. While these may be good intentions, focused on making the best of decisions made prior, let’s get the terminology right:

Actions are a choice, but love is not

There will be times when you are annoyed or frustrated and you choose to act lovingly and nice. Other times, you may choose to act hateful or angry. These are the choices we are making. But who we are to the core has already been determined by the choices we made about the type of person we want to be. For Christians, it’s becoming born again and having God’s love fill us. For non-Christians, it’s having whatever god you choose to worship, to lead you. And sometimes that means we are our own gods. But these are the choices we make that impact the love we have to give. Whether it’s real love, self-love, true love, selfish love, or selfless love.

When we experience Christ’s love, His love becomes our default. It can’t go away. It’s not something you turn off or on. It’s who you are because it’s who He is and He is now inside you. This love can be scary, cause pain or hurt, but it’s never a constant choice or burden. While the repercussions of loving may be hard to deal with, love in and of itself is easy. You can’t help but to love, it’s who you are naturally now. Something just changes. It did for me, at least.

True love results in commitment, but commitment doesn’t always equate to true love

I think it’s easy to almost interchange these words. “Marry the one who stays” was a recent blog post I read. Again, I see the intent but something else is missing. Love is more than a commitment, more than a choice. It’s not the will and decisions that are our moral compass, it is our heart- and in turn, it’s our heart that results in actions. Not the other way around. Love is so much more than an act, a commitment, or a choice. It involves these motives deep down. And if we get honest with ourselves, we can see there are a lot of good acts out there rooted in selfish motives. That’s not what I’m looking for.

I’m not looking for a commitment. Commitment may keep a body there but it won’t fill my soul. When I’m weak and need someone strong that’ll have my best interest at the forefront of his mind, a commitment won’t give me peace. I don’t often hear what I desire preached. Not because it’s impossible, I just think it’s rare.

I hear this all the time-
“How did you know he or she was the one?”
“I decided.”
No, I’m not buying it. Because then you can decide they aren’t- or maybe you will decide they are for the rest of your lives. I don’t know. I just believe there is a stronger force there that supersedes our will and decision making abilities. I desire something so much more than a decision. I need something deeper, stronger, something greater than this world has to offer. I don’t want my future husband to choose to love me. Because I don’t think that is true love. I want him to simply love me because he can’t not love me.

My hope is that you’ll search your heart. You’ll seek love, true love with pure motives, from the source that is love. So you can see for yourself how love is so much more beautiful than a choice.

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Is singleness really a gift?

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I used to view singleness as a season, rather than a gift. When you view it as a season, you see it as a period of time to get through, perhaps enjoy, but a season that will definitely end nonetheless. We focus on the duration of the season, leading us to never realize what the gift of singleness actually means, what it really offers.

We get caught up on the superficial benefits of singleness that we unintentionally miss the spiritual growth awaiting us. We interchange singleness and independence quite often. For me, it’s been a time to focus on education, career, and being free and flexible to go wherever God calls, with little concern for another human being. But when married, you have to now consider your spouse, and once you have kids, them as well. Is this perhaps what Paul was referring to when he stated it is better to remain single in 1 Corinthians 7?

Can I say yes and no- what about maybe partially? It’s been hard for me to reconcile that would be all he meant- that you can’t do what you want fully because you have others to think about now. Because I’d argue with the right spouse, it would perhaps be easier to pursue your calling than it would if you were single. I have to believe it has more to do with our spiritual state and our relationship with God and less to do with our calling and what we are to accomplish here on Earth. I think he was referencing a level higher than we are accustomed to viewing.

As we focus on God, not just because we are supposed to but because we want to, things begin to change. This process has evolved for me. It’s like when you build a relationship with anyone; you enjoy getting to know that person and spending time with them- the more you learn, the more you know, the more in love you fall. I think I’ve just recently begun a process of experiencing God in a new light.

Not that my relationship with God in the past was bad, it just wasn’t as deep.

And when it’s not as deep, I think it’s easier for world to compete- for us to slide in and out of the world, for our priorities to become tangled, for our vision to become blurred. These were the times I struggled most with my singleness- the more my early 20’s grew into my late 20’s. The times I just knew marriage was in my cards because why would God keep anything good from me if He loved me? Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart, right?

My relationship with God very real at this time but perhaps more immature than I’d like to admit.

It’s hard to know what you don’t know at this time, but I’ve always pressed forward knowing God has a plan and that He loves me. I’ve never doubted that. And I think that’s what’s helped me to remain faithful.

Choosing to live more by what I know to be true and less by what I understand at the time.

But I’m just now realizing what a gift singleness has been for me personally. I’m at a different point in my life right now- a new point- where things are just different. My desires have shifted drastically- marriage and family desires perhaps still there in the background but an overwhelming desire to experience God deeper- trumping everything else in my life.

I crave it.
Crave Him.
Talking to Him.
Seeing what He does throughout the day.
Watching what He does through me.
What He allows me to do.
How He allows me to experience Him.

My love for Him has been what’s fueled my desire to “do” for Him, that I’ve only recently began grasp how much more He desires simply to “be” with ME!

He yearns for me. Longs for me. Where I’ve known He loves me, this is so much more. It fills me in ways I can’t begin to describe. There are no words. I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to experience the spiritual growth I have been lately without this time. How would I know I love Him more than everything I thought I always wanted if He had already given it all to me? He’s changed my desires and longings away from the things the world offers and more for eternal things- more for Him.

It’s not that singleness is a gift for us to be selfish and do what we want; it’s that singleness is uninterrupted time in our lives to spend with our Savior. To spend time with Him. Grow in Him. And fall more in love with Him. And for me, I don’t really know what could be a better gift than that.

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Be the day date, not the late night text

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I would describe myself as a nosy person. Always watching, observing, putting myself into situations I probably shouldn’t be in. Eavesdropping at the table next to me, telling the person I’m with to be quiet. Quietly observing the couple across the room to see how their first date is going. And awkwardly walking way too close to individuals sometimes. In addition to these observations, I have spent numerous hours helping people try and navigate whether or not someone is interested in them. Within these contexts, you begin to discover certain trends, how people operate, and even start to follow their thought process. I think sometimes we want to believe someone likes us, even when we know better.

We call any attention, good attention. Get hopeful. Get excited. “At least I’m on their mind.” “At least I’m attractive.” “At least I have something to offer that they like.” We downplay our strengths and start to compromise in areas we shouldn’t. We become a pro at making excuses for how others treat us. For what we allow.

This is just the world we live in today.
If you aren’t giving it to him, someone else will.
I have to go after what I want.
I can win her over- I like a challenge.
They aren’t sure yet, but I’ll make them sure.
Once they get to know me more, they’ll like me.
No one is perfect.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the late night text reaches our inbox for a reason. Someone is looking to boost his or her ego. They want your validation when the person they really wanted didn’t value them at all. They took a hit and are now doing whatever they can to make sure it doesn’t knock them down. They are afraid to talk to the one they are really interested in because they fear rejection so they reach out to the one they know will respond instead.

So be honest with yourself-

Are they keeping their options open?
Are they pursuing you without wanting a label?
Where do you fall on their priority list?
Are you part of their plans or do you they stop by and see you after?
Are you compromising in your physical boundaries?
Do you just hear from them when they are lonely?

And probably, most importantly, how does that person make you feel?

Because I think if we are really honest with ourselves, we know when we are being treated poorly, when we aren’t really valued. And over time, that begins to take its toll on our own self-worth, on how much we even value ourselves. We will slowly forget, that we are worth more than a late night text, more than a meet-up only when it’s convenient, more than the bones they keep throwing at us. We forget that there are still people out there who desire to show us to the world. Ones that want to show us off. People not only willing to make the effort, but ones that want to. Someone that values our character more than our sex appeal. Someone that likes us for who we are, not just how we make them feel.

So be with someone that is vested, not lonely. Be with someone proud of you, not keeping you his or her best-kept secret. There is risk in that, commitment that shows intention, and a realness that makes you feel safe. And quite frankly, I don’t think you should settle for anything less.

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No Guys in 2018: Sixth month update

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First off- how the heck have I made it this long?! I was a serial dater. Not a serial committer, just a serial dater. Jumping from one guy to the next. Giving guys the benefit of the doubt with no real commitment. Actually, if I’m honest, emotional commitment without the relationship label. But is that really even better?

If I could use one word to sum up how I’m currently feeling, it would be seasons. I think this word gets tossed around a lot without fully appreciating what it means. It’s like we are always hoping for the next season to come without fully embracing the season we are in.

I want to date.
I want to get a job.
I want to go off to college.
I want to be married.
I want to have a different job.
I want to have a kid.
I want to have more kids.
I want the kids to leave.
I want to have grandkids.
I want to retire.

Never fully satisfied and constantly searching for more. Aside from a few relationships, I’ve been single my whole life. But I think this is the first time I’ve been able to fully enjoy the season of singleness. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved my single years in the past. But I fear I wasn’t experiencing the freedom I thought I had at the time. A relationship wasn’t consuming my life but guys still were. I have never, in all my years, fully realized how much of my time and emotional energy had been spent on guys. Guys feeding my ego, guys as potentials, going on dates just for the fun of it (which I’ve come to believe isn’t a real thing).

But this year feels so much freer. Like really free. What other word can I use to describe it? A control freak who has given up control. A planner open to new possibilities. A deeper trust allowing me to live my best life right now. And most importantly, a life so crazy and full of impossible moments, that only God can get the credit.

I’m surprised by how much I’ve done so far this year. But most importantly, I’m surprised by how much I’ve grown. It’s been a time for me to reset. To really prioritize and be intentional with my time. To push my limits. To say yes to scary moments. To figure out what I want most and what I don’t. To hear God, free of distractions. Knowing that whatever God has planned for me is far better than whatever I could ever hope or imagine. I know because it’s already happening.

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No guys in 2018: Finding Myself- Week One

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I didn’t realize how so much of my conversation centered around guys. It was almost as if my identity was wrapped up in who I was talking to next. I talk so much about guys and my drama that happens that I wasn’t really sure if I’d have anything “good” and “entertaining” to share with my friends. Everyone always liked hearing my stories so it just became part of who I was, I suppose. But how can I entertain others with my guy stories if they are no longer in the picture?!

It was a bit of an adjustment at first. But then I found myself engaging in different types of conversations. Goals, dreams, prayers, life…

I found myself doing different activities rather than random dates. Spending time with my family, cooking, reading, exercising…

And I found myself thinking about others more. This was probably the most fulfilling thing that happened. It’s hard to think of others when I’m so focused on trying to figure out whom I’m supposed to marry. But that’s what people seem to get stuck on. When you are 32 and single, it’s what most people want to know. When you are young and married, most people then want to know when you are having kids. Has contentment become a pastime?

I’m not even sure how I feel about the word contentment. I don’t think I’d use that word to describe my singleness. It sounds boring. And my life seems to be anything but that lately.

Why do I feel like I’m myself again now that there are no guy interests?

I’m still talking to guys. A few have reached out and I always seem to enjoy those conversations of the right combination of depth and quick banter. But I’ve just noticed already a difference in my mindset. And I like it.

There were a couple times I had to catch myself. I got a little excited about a guy until I realized he had a fiancé. Some guy found me on social media but I’m pretty sure he isn’t real. Overall, so far, so good. But hey, it’s only week one- we shall see! Below are some additional highlights since starting the challenge:

I’ve started back at work again. I made a budget. I spoke to a group of teens about the importance of giving back. Watched too many movies. Did family Bible studies. Cooked. Friend dates. Coffee shops. Family time. Family day trips. Wrote 40 new pages with 45 new resources. Editing 100 pages for my prospectus. A few council events and related meetings where I feel I’m making a difference. Better quiet times with God. Finished a book I had originally started over six months ago!

I feel as if I’m falling more in love with Jesus. With more clarity and direction for my life. My sense of urgency is quickly fading. It’s weird and I wish I could explain it.

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photo credit: jeronimoooooooo Arte Factus via photopin (license)

Pray & Finish: My 2018 Goals  

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I’ve spent several days, actually weeks pondering my thoughts for 2018. It’s going to be a big year for me for numerous reasons. Sometimes I look back at my life and am just in awe of what God has done in and through me. It’s just so exciting to see what He has planned next. I pray you find that same excitement, that same purpose and drive- the direction. God is such a light- as long as I’m looking toward that light. That’s the key.

So let’s talk goals. My two words for the year represent this season of life for me.

Pray.

I desire so badly to grow in this area of my life. Just to spend time with God more. Just in His presence. Enjoying Him. I also want to be intentional with writing out my prayers. I pray a lot but it seems very sporadic, which is fine, but I guess I don’t take full advantage of what God really offers. I suppose if I’m being really honest, I went through a period of time of thinking some of the things I wanted to ask God for or talk about seemed so trivial compared to other things. But I’ve learned that God cares about it all- He cares about me and every little thing that matters to me. And mostly, He is a big God so I know He can handle it all. Truthfully, I think God loves it when we talk about everything with Him and He loves to make us smile.

“When I’m not in prayer mode, I have good ideas. But when I’m in prayer mode, I have God ideas.” –Mark Batterson

Finish.

This word is important to me because there are a lot of things I plan to finish this year. The big one being able to finally GRADUATE with my PhD! This has been a long time coming. Additionally, I have several studies and books I’ve started but never finished so this will be a year of finishing for me. My goal is to really dive into certain books of the Bible and understand them more deeply, rather than saying I simply read the entire Bible again this year. The following is my plan for the year so let me know if you want to join me with any of it or have questions!

Sermon on the Mount- She Reads Truth
Book of Matthew
Sermon on the Mount sermon message
66 Love Letters book- Matthew

Lent Study- She Reads Truth
The Risen Christ- She Reads Truth

Book of Hosea
Redeeming Love book
Hosea- She Reads Truth
66 Love Letters book- Hosea

Women in the Word- She Reads Truth
Woman of the Word book- Jen Wilken

Book of Ruth
Book of Esther
Ruth & Esther study book
66 Love Letters book- Ruth
66 Love Letters book- Esther
Esther- She Reads Truth

Circle Maker book study with my brother

Book of Philippians
Book of Colossians
Book of Galatians
Book of Ephesians
Philippians- She Reads Truth
Colossians- She Reads Truth
Galatians- She Reads Truth
Ephesians- She Reads Truth
66 Love Letters book- Philippians
66 Love Letters book- Colossians
66 Love Letters book- Galatians
66 Love Letters book- Ephesians

Book of James
66 Love Letters book- James
Faith Workout book

Reformation study- Desiring God

In Everything Give Thanks- She Reads Truth

Advent study- A.W. Tozer or make my own:)

Additional Books:

Wholeheartedly Singles devotional
Love & Respect book
Authentic Love book
Essentialism book
Wild & Free book

Additional resources:

Soul sessions
Porch podcasts

Miscellaneous goals:

Thankful calendar
Fitness
Guitar
No clothing related purchases *insert shocked face*
Rememberlutions- write down cool things that happen throughout the year
Write down every TV show or movie I watch to make me feel bad about how much time I waste:p I’m hoping this list won’t be too long at the end of the year!

Lastly, I’m saying “see ya” to all the unhealthy relationships. As mentioned in my previous post, this is the No Guys in 2018 year. I won’t be pursuing guys anymore. No more entertaining guys “just in case” they really have a good heart, no more making excuses for them. I know what I’m looking for and I’m not willing to settle or compromise in even the dating realm anymore. I don’t care how old I am or the fact that everyone and their mother likes to tell me my eggs aren’t getting any younger. Life is short and I’m on a mission. I’ll be providing updates on my challenges, fears, and where my time and energy goes instead (see above haha). Should make for an interesting year;)

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No Guys in 2018 Challenge

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This time last year was completely different. I went into 2017 thinking I was dating someone I would eventually marry. So many hopes, so many expectations. But things happen, truths are revealed, and things don’t always go how you planned. I realized in the first half of the year I wasn’t with the best person for me. And that’s okay- that is what dating is for. The second half of the year was spent going on random dates, entertaining different guys. No real commitments, no real depth formed. Trying to make things work with guys I knew I shouldn’t be with in the first place. There was a lot of emotional time and a lot of thoughts spent on guys who never should have received that much energy. While there were certainly fun times, I wish I spent some of that emotional energy on other things…

More schoolwork

More family time

More hobbies

More time with God

So this year I plan to try something a little different.

A no guys in 2018 mindset.

What this is

I plan to blog more of what happens in my day-to-day life involving guy interactions, my struggles, my priorities, and what I do with my time. Instead of spending emotional time thinking about guys, figuring what they are thinking, or whether or not they like me, I plan to be more intentional about NOT doing those things. Not talking about guys. Not trying to figure them out (because who really can anyway:p) My blog focuses a lot on advice and stories but mostly past experiences. And I’ll still continue to post those, as well.

But this year, I wanted to do something to show my readers (aka YOU!) more of the real me, currently. Some days may be rough. And some days may be amazing. But I think that’s the beauty of blogging and being real with you. I mean, what does a 32-year-old virgin who’s chasing after God do anyway?

I feel girls, whether we want to admit it or not, spend so much time thinking about guys. What they think of us. Whether they like us. What we should do. What we should say. When we’ll get married.

I’ll be using the #noguysin2018 hashtag to document things I’ll be doing instead of this. I’ll be posting weekly updates of what’s happening in my life. I’ll also be writing little notes and putting then in a jar to celebrate small victories of focusing on what’s important and not entertaining guys I shouldn’t be entertaining. I think accountability is huge so I think this will help a lot.

What this isn’t

Contrary to what it may sound like, this isn’t technically a “no dating” year for me. That is too confined and restrictive, in my opinion. I will still go out. I will still talk to guys. But I will be more honest. With myself and with others. I’ll be direct. I’ll be intentional. My mindset will be focused on the dreams God has placed in my heart. If a guy happens to come into my life, so be it. But honestly, I just don’t want to spend the emotional energy on trying to figure this out anymore. I don’t want to talk to guys just for the sake of talking to guys. For attention. For validation. There is so much I want to do. So I’m ready for 2018, with so many hopes and so many expectations!

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