Savoring Singleness

The world preaches that singleness is a problem to be solved and the church, unfortunately, it riding this band wagon. As a majority, the Christian community has forgotten the truth of Paul’s words, “I wish that all of you were as I am” (1 Corinthians 7:7) and “an unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs, how he can please the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:32).

Shouldn’t that be our focus?

I am single by choice.

It’s not an easy choice, it’s one that I struggle with daily. It’s a choice that I believe God has asked me to make. To set myself, my relationship status, aside for Him.

It doesn’t make sense to many people at all. If I have an urge to be with someone, why not just see if it works? Even Christian friends try to encourage me to dive into the dating world. They’re not convinced that God has really asked me to live a single life.

But I view this part of my life as a sacrifice, a type of fasting, to God.

I know that it is for a season, not for the rest of my life. I do believe that God has a plan for my sexuality and relationship status that is beyond my happiness or momentary satisfaction.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if the single community, both pre-married and post-divorce, would view their single-status as a blessing, a time to focus on the Lord and a time to dedicate intentionality in growing close to God?

I really do believe that the divorcee community is an army of dry bones. One that God is waiting to breathe into, to awaken, to put flesh onto and to let loose into this troubled world. I believe this army will change our world completely and that they will set a fire in us for God that will be so effective, so consuming and passionate, it will surprise us all.

Think of it, divorce effects each and every one of us.

There isn’t a family that hasn’t been touched with divorce in some way. Whether it’s your mom and dad, your siblings, your friends, or extended family…divorce has permeated every single relationship.

And the after shocks of divorce are astounding.

It takes the average person 7 years to recover from their own divorce. Both financial recovery and emotional recovery.

Children have resounding residual effects from their parents divorce which extends into their own romantic relationships, their own children, their friendships, their jobs and their schooling.

Because of friends divorcing, your own marriage is effected.

The ripples of this division are all-encompassing and overwhelming and highly downplayed.

So if this is true, if a divorce is this effective at influencing so many years of a life, so many relationships around it…imagine what power a divorcee would have by taking control of their relationship status. By not allowing it to move them into other damaging, temporary unions but to instead devote their relationship status to growing deeper in the Lord, a divorcee could potentially change the tide completely.

By allowing God to breathe on the dry bones that divorce has shown to create, a person could allow themselves to be reworked into a new creature. A soldier of the Lord. A powerful force fueled by God’s power, focused intently on the Kingdom.

It’s here, in this singleness, this direction, that we can allow God to take the pen of our story and rewrite history and statistics. Instead of being a single, divorcee flowing with the tide of urges, the normalcy of the worlds expectations, a divorcee that embraces their singleness and lets God have control of their relationship status will see changes in themselves and their environment that they didn’t think was possible.

By embracing our singleness in this season of our life and pursuing God, I passionately believe that divorcees could literally change the world.

 

A special thank-you to Shelley Black of Savoring Single for including the KJS Online blog in their Blog Tour! Check out her great blog and Instagram feed for more encouragement in your single walk as well as her new book

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Single-For-Now

Being called to a single-for-now life has it’s struggles. Obviously. Have you ever tried living against the flow of culture?? Everywhere you go, there are messages telling you that where you’re at isn’t good enough.

You need him.

You need her.

You should feel like that.

You should do this.

Dress like that.

Flirt like this.

Sex. It. Up.

There’s magazine covers, posters, TV shows, movies, social media…even taxes tell you that if you are with someone, they’ll go easier on you. The world shouts that there is more benefits to being attached than there are to being an individual.

The world, and unfortunately a lot of the Christian community, tells the single person that they won’t be happy until they’re with someone (“we need to find you someone”). And then when they’re finally dating, they need to get married (“has he proposssssed yet?!”). And then when they’re married, they need to have kids (“so like, are you guys trying??”).

We’re told as singles that we will be more fulfilled when we have a partner.

But what about those that God is calling to be single, even if it is just for a season?

I am convinced that this is a stage I am in. I have my reasons, God breathed reasons (I’d change them if I could, trust me), but still, when I tell people this they have a worried look in their eyes. They still subtly hint at matching me with one of their friends. Or tell me that “*shrug* maybe you just need to heal”. Girl, it’s been seven years of working through healing, I’m pretty sure there’s more to this season than getting over past hurt.

I do believe that this is a stage. A, God willing, temporary stage. But if God continued to lead me to be single for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Often I wonder who would be the right fit to stand beside me in this journey God has given me.

What sort of man would be willing to accept that so much of my ministry revolves around my previous marriage?

No, it’s not fear of this that keeps me away from a relationship. But it’s a question that I often think about.

If the human life is created to have relationship with the Lord and to bring Glory to His name and an individual is doing this well without a romantic partner, why isn’t that our focus as a Church, instead of making sure they meet someone special?

Our focus as the Church body should be centered on relationship with our Saviour, not relationship between the sexes.

Are we living on fire for God’s word, striving towards obedience, communicating with Him and keeping our eyes on His prize?

Or are we frustrated with our relationship status, trying to rush a stage that isn’t there yet, or maybe forcing a single guy on a single girl because they both ‘need’ someone?

Singleness is a blessing! It’s a frustration in some ways, I understand that. Man, do I understand that!! It’s not easy when the entire world is telling you that your single status makes you incomplete. But it’s a blessing.

You are free to make choices for yourself. You have quiet time when you need it. Your issues are your issues. Life as a single person is simple. Your finances are your own, your time is your own, your body is your own, your bed is your own.

That’s not to say that I want it to stay this way for me my whole life, but if God lead me into that, I know that not only would He sustain me, but blessings would wait for me in that season too.

As a Christian community, let’s learn to support our singles where they are, not where we think they should be.

Let’s wrap our arms around them, encourage them, build them up, provide for their love languages, pray for them, pray with them, feed them, change the oil in their car, let them babysit (ok, seriously, are my friends getting these hints?!).

Let’s love on the singles in our community and encourage them in whatever stage they’re in. God has so much blessing in singleness, let’s not encourage them to rush through this part of the process. Their singleness may be where their breakthrough happens.

 

Bonding

“But it’s different for me,” I responded “I’m divorced.”

This conversation was between my sister and I, but I had talked about this with multiple people.

Waiting for a second marriage to have sex didn’t count for me, I told myself. I had been married before and so my body and mind had already experienced it. Not only that, but I was closing in on my 30’s. Realistically, I wasn’t going to wait until marriage to have sex again and neither were the guys I would be dating.

Not only had I already experienced sex but, in my mind, because I had experienced it, it wasn’t as big of deal to continue.

What I was saying, without being conscious of it, was that sexual interactions were no longer precious.

Isn’t that how the world views sexual interactions? It’s a physical deed with little importance. I mean, yes, it marks an important moment in a relationship, but other than that it’s for physical pleasure. Sex, the world says, is to an individual what air is to a human. It’s a need, a necessity, and one we quickly take for granted.

Even though, scientifically, we are bonded to another human by having sex or even a more simplistic orgasmic experience because of the release of chemicals, the world shouts that the bond doesn’t matter. Or they don’t acknowledge it. It doesn’t affect us, the world says. It’s the physical act of sex that is appreciated, not the connection it creates.

I have learned about the bonding agent of sexual experiences the hard way. It’s taken broken hearts, STI’s, and lengthened heart-attachments. Embarrassment, shame and one night stands. As much as I wish I could go back, change it all and learn the easy way, I know that my personality needed these difficult moments to truly teach me the importance of sexual connection.

I’ve learned that sex is a bonding agent between two people. Yes, it’s (usually) a special moment, but it’s actually even more than that. It ties two individuals together. It makes you feel connected on a deeper level, even if the foundation of that connection isn’t established. It makes your heart yearn for the person you’ve shared this experience with after they’re long gone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a committed relationship or a casual one.

If all of these things happen with the act of sex, why are we flippant with one night stands? Why do we rush the sexual moments? Why do we not consider the importance and depth of this experience?

A while ago I decided to get to know someone without adding sex to the mix. For several weeks we just got to know each other, went for walks and hikes, watched movies and had great chats. Although he wasn’t wanting the relationship to stay at that level, he did respect my wishes.

When we decided to go our separate ways, I noticed that I was able to mentally move on from that relationship so much faster than any other in the past. I didn’t feel a lengthened attachment to him. I felt like our relationship had a healthy break instead of a strained one.

In the past the relationships that had included sex took so much longer to break from. My heart ached for those connections longer and hurt deeper.

I think that we need to not only see the act of sex but also the connection that is built because of sex, as important and precious. We need to acknowledge it, preach it, believe it. It’s so easy to tell our kids, or even adults that aren’t married yet, that sex should be saved for marriage. But when we tell them about the depth of connection that happens, it’s more than just saving these moments for marriage. It’s saving these bonds for our spouses, these in-depth emotional connections and feelings for someone we want to spend the rest of our lives with.

I am constantly reminding myself of this part of sex. It’s so easy to be brainwashed by the worlds definition of relationships and what should be part of dating. Sometimes it’s hard to remember why I’m trying to set myself apart in this way. But when I remember the hurt that I’ve been through before and how I felt linked to guys that I wanted to be separated from, it’s easier to hold back sexually.

Beyond that, when I think about the connection I want with my husband one day and the distance I want from men in my past, it’s easier to hold back sexually. Still a mental (and spiritual) process, but it’s easier to keep my sights on what is true.

Sex & God

I am totally fascinated by sexuality and the effects of sex on a human being. I’m taking a psychology course and I am completely enamoured with how the human mind works and specifically how sex changes us.

My goal with the course started with becoming a marriage and family counselor, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I need to focus more on the sexual aspect of relationships. It’s what fires me up, puts me on the edge of my seat, makes my eyes light up and my words come out really. really. fast. There’s an obvious passion built into me about this topic and I believe that God has written my story in a way that allows me help others in this area.

It’s interesting looking back on my life and seeing myself progress in the sexual intimacy department. I used to be (probably still am…) the friend that would crack the “that’s what she said” jokes and make innocent comments sexual (it’s amazing what raising your eyebrows can do). From my friends point of view, my marriage sex-life must have been passionate and the sex itself, frequent. If I was so open about sexuality in our friend-group, of course I would be just as open about it when my husband and I were alone.

Not the case.

We had a good sex life, the sex we did have was enjoyable and frequent, but it took some convincing for me to want to participate.

When I heard on Sexy Marriage Radio that sex is a form of communication, it really made me assess my sex life. Dr. Corey Allan and Shannon Ethridge mentioned that the way you live out this part of your life is often the way you live out your day-to-day life.

If this is true, what did it mean for me?

In my marital sex life, I was very distrusting and on edge.

It took everything in me to believe that my husband wasn’t just using me.

I had to be convinced to relax and be vulnerable.

Big sigh.

All of these things could be translated into my life in general.

In friendships I held emotional connection back, creating walls, until I saw that it was safe to let my heart participate. People around me may not have seen the hesitation, but inside, my mind was telling me I shouldn’t trust.

In my day-to-day, my first thought was that people were using me or going to hurt me, and it took a mental game to convince myself that they genuinely wanted a friendship.

I often had to be coerced to do something out of my comfort zone and even when I did participate it took a while for me to relax and enjoy myself. In the meantime a bad attitude and an edgy-ness was obvious (both defense mechanisms).

The way I lived out my marital sex life was absolutely a direct reflection of how I lived out my every day.

Now, what do I do with this knowledge?

Knowledge is power.

I consider how I have changed through the last few years, and how my sex-life has gone from one extreme to another only to settle into what I believe God has called me to. How does this reflect my life and how I communicate myself to others?

Is this even important? To consider how our sex lives are a reflection of other parts of us? I think it is. Sex was given to us by God, built into our humanity. It’s a drive for each of us. It’s important to acknowledge it and it gives us insight to other aspects of our lives.

Even if it’s just helping us see ourselves in a new light, that is important.

So looking at my current sex life (or lack thereof), I can see how I have changed. How I have matured. How God is working and molding me. Leading me in His direction and not my own.

I see the forgiveness I’ve received. The softness of my heart. The grace. The patience. When I look at my sexual journey, strange as it may seem, I see God and His work in my life.

 

 

 

Busyness

I’m a natural hermit. I love my quiet alone time, going for a hike with my dog, having a coffee in the early morning, reading in my bedroom…I could sit for hours by myself, in quiet, for days on end and it wouldn’t bother me.

It took me years to realize that I was an introvert running from my quiet-time. I would wonder why I was feeling exhausted, but the next thing you’d know, I’d be planning more events.

It wasn’t until God literally took my feet from under me that I had a chance to stop and consider what truly fed my personality and soul.

After having a knee injury I was forced into sitting on the couch and taking time off of work. Three months was a long time for me to do nothing, and it was only because of God that I was able to get through.

Instead of dealing with my issues by working more or going for a run to process, I was forced into relying on God to give me peace and to carry me through emotional turmoil.

Do you ever find that your most meaningful lessons are ones you’re forced into?

I have slowly learned to make boundaries around my quiet time. In order to still my mind in this busy world, I need to prioritize time to read, hike, be still and listen to nature. Often, enforcing these boundaries has been me with opposition. Many people don’t understand the need to be alone. But if I’m meant to be a healthy me, it’s a must.

What boundaries have you learned to create for yourself?

 

 

I Know

Some of my biggest passions are sexual intimacy, helping the struggling marriage and the Christian walk after divorce. I often feel attacked in these areas, as though my divorced relational status should silence my opinion. But there’s nothing that will get me fired up faster or make my eyes come alive quicker than starting to talk about these life subjects.

It was six years ago when I was packing my belongings to leave my husband. On top of the confusion of my decision to leave one thing that he couldn’t understand was why God had so clearly told him to marry me. Why would God have done this if He knew it would end in divorce?

I don’t know the answer to this, but what I do know is that what Satan intends for evil, God turns into good.

I know that because of my marital struggles and how I gave up, I am now able to speak into other lives to encourage them to stay in their marriages when times get tough.

I know that I am now passionate about the marriage Covenant and the vows we make to our spouses.

I know that because of hitting rock bottom and having only God’s hand to grab hold of, I have seen miracles that I didn’t think were possible.

I know that because of God’s dramatic movement in my life it is possible for others as well.

I know the power of prayer and reality for complete heart-change that can come from it.

I know now the importance of spending time with God daily and the difference that can make in mental health.

Do I believe that God wanted my husband and I to go through divorce? No. I don’t believe that was in His ideal plan. I do believe, though, that God has taught me lessons through this process that have changed me for the better. I do believe that because of these lessons I can have more grace for those struggling around me. It’s because of these lessons that I can speak into their lives and help their marriage. And it’s because of these lessons that I have a deep and personal relationship with the Lord.

It’s because of this relationship with God and the heart-changes I’ve had throughout the divorce process that makes me so excited to see what God has next. If God can change me when it looked as though there was no hope, He can change anyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emotions vs. Obedience

Live according to your beliefs, not your emotions.

I wasn’t feeling happy.

I wasn’t feeling in love.

I didn’t feel the butterflies, I wasn’t sure if I ever had.

So I left. The world told me that if I didn’t feel happy, I shouldn’t be in my marriage. I wasn’t walking in my beliefs, I was walking in my emotions. I was letting them dictate my decisions.

Are you being obedient regardless of what your emotions are telling you, or are you allowing your emotions to dictate your obedience?

I tell ya, being obedient at that point of my life would have taken everything I had. I was depressed, laying on the couch crying about nothing and everything, I felt like I was drowning and didn’t know how to help myself. My husband would ask what he could do to help and I wouldn’t know what to tell him. I could barely feel anything, let alone happiness.

Being obedient, regardless of my emotions, would have taken every ounce of energy and brain-space I had. It would have felt like I was hiking uphill in waist high mud. But I know, now that I have gotten to the other side and seen what it took to cure me, that it wasn’t impossible. That it would have ended and my marriage would have been stronger for it.

Now, my emotions try to dictate my thoughts in an entirely different way.

Being single in a world that tells you your completeness will come when you’re married, is a tough one especially when God has told me to remain single. My loneliness seeps in, my desire for intimacy and connection, and it whispers to me along with the mantras of the world, that God wouldn’t really ask me to be single for this long. He wants us to be happy, he wants us to be dating, married, childbearing women.

When I allow myself to enter into a dating relationship, am I allowing my emotions to dictate my actions? Or am I stepping forward in obedience, regardless of my feelings?

Life is constantly changing. There’s ebbs and flows, ins and outs. I believe our God can hold us to something today and release us from it tomorrow. But His commands and Word stay the same throughout time. Are we allowing our emotions to change what He has told us or what the Bible commands…that is the question.

Obedience takes bravery. Sometimes the Lord asks us to do something that is counter-culture.

It’s staying in the marriage when it doesn’t make sense.

It’s remaining single when everyone just wishes we would date.

It’s guarding our virginity when everyone else has given theirs up.

It’s somtimes saying No to the cute guy that asks you out.

It’s saying Yes to committing to that missions trip.

It’s being ok with not taking the better paying job.

Obedience is an act of worship. It is a sacrifice we lay at God’s feet telling Him that He has control and we will surrender our plan to His will, regardless of our emotions.

God honors our worship, He sees our human struggles and knows the heart-hurt it can cause us. He desires to give us what our hearts need, which is often very different than what we want. What we want is usually a short-term fix to a long-term desire.

When we can lay aside our emotions, knowing that God will look after us even when it feels like He is distant, that is when we will see God and feel His presence and perhaps even see a miracle.