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

9781973610595_pap.indd

 

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.

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.

 

Numb

Feeling numb is the natural reaction to having an unhealthy definition of what’s enough.

Mike Foster

It was a feeling of unfeeling. A complete numbness. I had checked out and was incapable of feeling anything at all. I didn’t feel the pain of leaving my husband or the hurt I was causing. I didn’t feel energy, happiness. I felt completely indifferent to everything around me.

Looking back, I wonder how on earth I allowed it to get this far. How had I allowed the world to influence me so much? Enough to get to the point of ending my marriage.

It wasn’t just the world, I know. There’s a powerful force out there, roaming around, scheming to lead us into situations and mentalities of destruction. I had allowed it to seep in, slowly poisoning my being. I was the frog in the pot of water, not having any idea I was slowly boiling to death.

Our marriage had started out well, or so I thought. We were two young, Christian people from good faith filled families. And we loved each other. Wasn’t it that simple? Two people who believe the same thing, feel chemistry…and then life just falls into place after that, doesn’t it?

Looking back, I believed it was this simple.

We loved each other and life would just happen and we would live through it and one day, after we just flowed through life, we would look at each other from our creaking rocking chairs and smile. Still happy. Still in love.

But life doesn’t happen that way. Life takes work, dedication, pushing through the hard things, holding on when it seems impossible. And it takes intention. Intentional steps of obedience. Intentional choices to do what we need to do, not always what we want to do. Intentional clinging to what is right even when our emotions are telling us to run.

I just didn’t realize marriage was going to be like this.

And so, after life flowed over me, pushing me this way and that, telling me I should do this, be this, go there, have that…and after I realized I was none of these things and fell so short of the worlds definition of success…I crumbled.

I was numb, shut off, depressed and I blamed my unhappiness and failure on my marriage and husband. I tried staying, hoping that without much effort, the feelings of emptiness would just disappear. But they didn’t, so I didn’t.

I ran as far as my little legs would carry me. I left a marriage, a good man, and family behind. I hurt many people and I became someone that was so far from my true self. I pursued a life that I thought would give me the happiness and success that I felt I needed.

When my list of Wants was all crossed off I realized I had nothing. I was just as empty as before but on top of that, I was alone.

Sometimes God gives you everything you want to show you it’s not at all what you need.

The remedy for a numb heart is focusing on Jesus. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Too simple. Maddeningly simple. But I promise you that this is the cure. When you start to dive into the Word, surround yourself with Christians, dedicate time to pray, listen to what God is telling you…when you do these things it redefines your definition of success.

When your focus is on God, everything else blurs on the sidelines. He is all that matters. His definition of success is the only true definition.

When you start to define things by how the Lord defines them, you can start to do what seems impossible…like save your marriage.