Obedience & Frustration

I love telling my story, it’s a story of rebellion, a modern-day prodigal daughter story. A girl feels the love of her Father, knows that all of his goodness is at her fingertips but can’t quite believe that great love for her. So she tests the waters and runs towards a Rebel Life, spending two years doing whatever she wants. At the end of two years, she is more empty than before and she runs back to her fathers arms, begging for forgiveness.

Often, when I have told my story, it’s met with sympathetic looks and comments of “But you can’t beat yourself up about that”, or “You know you’re forgiven, right?”.

I really do believe that I need to embrace all aspects of my story, the good the bad and the ugly, in order to truly see God’s work in it. When I admit my faults, my terrible decisions, my flaws, I can show people who I used to be and how much God has changed me. I can be a reflection of God’s relentless love and overflowing grace. When I admit how bad my story really became, I show people the power of God’s transformation.

Tears are a part of my story but they’re not tears of shame. They’re tears of acknowledgement. Tears of wonder. Tears of gratitude. God rescued me from the pit and brought me into the light. He gently showed me what I had done wrong and how I could correct it. He led me through the steps it would take to return to myself. And he’s given me strength to deal with the consequences that came with my sin.

As much as it frustrates me sometimes to follow what God is asking, I need to do it. I need to keep my heart soft to his voice and to obey his requests. He is my true love. The only one that knows my heart and it’s desires. He is who my soul craves intimacy with. He sees what has been and what is to come. Even if his direction isn’t something I want for myself right now, I need to remember that there is more to life than what I can see. God knows me and his direction for me is because he sees what the next phase of life will bring and he is preparing me for it.

I see life with God and life without him like a comparison between casual sex and deep intimacy. Life without God is like sex. It can be pleasurable, but there’s very little connection with just that act and it leaves you feeling less-than. Life with God is like intimacy, there’s no comparison to the heart to heart, soul to soul connection you feel when you’re involved in that type of relationship.

God desires to be close to us and sometimes, often actually, this takes some sacrifice. It means we need to trust his direction and allow him to take the lead. It might not make sense right now, but one day it will, and we will be grateful we were obedient.

My biggest fear is to be outside of God’s plan for me. I have felt the sadness, the unsettling feeling that it brings to have built up walls between my God and I and that is a place I never want to go again.

 

 

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.

 

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.