Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Prayer of One Gently Reminded Soul

I’ll be honest. Life is a struggle.

And a beautiful one at that.

I’ve been reading through Joshua Harris’ book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and have been moved by a few scriptural points he’s made on the whole topic of purity. It is something we all struggle with. He uses a dream he once had to paint quite the picture of the sacrifice Jesus paid and what it does to our own lives…a story he’s called “The Room” and for your own reading, it can be found here.

Being optimistic by nature, I tend to see the humor and positive things in everyday situations, trials, etc….but when it comes to dealing with my own “junk” and the lack of purity in my own life, I tend to be my own worst critic. Doing so puts me in the worst funk until I let God break through the murkiness of my own making and watch the light of His grace illuminate everything. I slowly begin to realize that it’s all been covered and am reminded again that I don’t have to keep punishing myself for my past, that the guilt is of Satan’s making and I do have the choice to trust that everything is covered.

By His blood.

By His life.

By His sacrifice.

By His unconditional love for a wretch like me.

How humbling.

In the study guide that comes with the book, the author wrote out a prayer that I would like to share with you:

Father..
I went to The Room again today.
There’s part of me that doesn’t like to visit.
There are so many moments, so many careless words,
so many selfish actions I want to forget.
But it’s no longer a place of horror.
I went to be reminded of all that You’ve done for me.
I don’t ever want to forget the crushing weight of bearing my own sin, of having my name on each of those cards.
I don’t ever want to forget what it’s like to be lost
so that I’ll never cease to be grateful for being found.

Forgive me, Jesus, but sometimes I grow
so familiar with Your grace that I take it for granted.

Standing before those files with my every sin recorded, I see what a wretch I am, and Your grace is once again amazing.
I learned something today, too.
I realized that Your grace not only covers my sin but it also makes possible my obedience.
I pulled out a few card files of things I’ve done right: “Encouragement I’ve Given,” “Times I Served Others,” and “Temptations Resisted.”
I saw Your name written on those, too.
I think I half expected to see my own name.
What a fool I am! It suddenly hit me that everything
good I’ve been able to do has been by Your grace.
I couldn’t serve, I couldn’t love, I couldn’t be patient
without Your grace upholding me
and Your Spirit guiding me.

I stood there and cried again. They were happy tears.
I stood there aware that I had nothing to brag
about except Your work in my life.
Your servant Paul said, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14).
I see what he meant now.
Everything I have, You’ve given me.
You made possible the forgiveness of my sins.
You give me the power to obey.
I have nothing to boast in — no achievement, no righteousness,
no merit — except for Your finished work.
Thank you!

**Bolded emphasis mine.

How many times do we each take His grace for granted? How many times must our stubborn hearts refuse to believe this truth? How many? I’m humbled and reminded again today of all He’s done for me.

I’m covered.

I’m made pure.

I’m free.

And so are you.

Article: 5 Things Single People Wish Married People Knew

I was browsing through my email this morning when I stumbled across this article published in Relevant magazine. Honestly, I couldn’t agree more. Yes…there are times when I will feel like a third or fifth wheel, but that is my own doing. (Granted, some actions/situations do not help, but don’t think about it. Just be.) No one else can make me feel inferior…I choose what I feel. That’s the beauty of it.

So, please, married friends, siblings and distant relatives, make note of this – not just for me, but for all of your single friends and make the choice to bless rather than exclude.

The article, if you’d like to read more, can be found here.

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“As I weathered Valentine’s Day this month (again) as a single woman, I’ve been thinking about some of the things I’d like to say to my married friends about what it’s like to be unmarried at 36 and living alone in a married person’s world.

First of all, I’m very happy when I see my friends enter into and build healthy, happy marriages. This is a beautiful thing, something to which, many of us as single individuals aspire to.

And I understand that it can be difficult to know what to say or how to treat those of us who have not yet gone to the chapel. So as I reflect on my station in life, especially as it relates to the empty fourth finger on my left hand and the desire I have for marriage, there’s a few things I’d like my married friends out there to know. Not to guilt you or chastise you, but to help you, like you help me, see life from a different point of view.

It’s up to me to decide if I’m going to feel like a third or fifth wheel, or enjoy the company.

1. Single people make good friends, too.

I can remember times when I first moved to a new town and I heard friends (all married) talk about the fun things that they had done together as couples. I remember wishing that for once, they would invite me to come along! It’s up to me to decide if I’m going to feel like a third or fifth wheel, or enjoy the company. Invite me along, even if I’m the only one without a date.

2. Please don’t assume you know how I feel.

As an unmarried person, I may or may not be struggling with my singleness at the moment, so if you want to know, ask me. Don’t assume that because we spoke once and I was really struggling in my singleness that I’m forever pining away for a husband. And don’t assume that because we once spoke about how I’m pretty content in my single status that I’m always going to be content. Instead of assuming, ask me.

3. Singleness looks different in your twenties than it does in your thirties.

Because you may have spent a period of time—long or short—being single does not mean that you understand what it is to see your peers and even your nieces and nephews get married before you. The experience of singleness does not remain the same over time.

4. Dispense your formula for finding a mate with care.

“It” may have worked for you and 10 of your friends, but from what I know about love, and especially finding and marrying—and staying married—isn’t formulaic. Chances are, I’ve “tried” your formula and it hasn’t “worked.” This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to hear your advice, I just hope that you’ll listen to me before you offer it.

5. There are days when singleness feels unbearable, and days when it feels empowering.

If you catch me on one of the bad days, offer to help me do yard work, buy me chocolate, take me out for dinner, or watch a chick-flick with me. Remind me that companionship doesn’t always come in the form of a romance.

Your friend may be single, but they don’t have to be alone.

There are other days when singleness feels empowering. On those days, I feel pretty good about managing a home, a car, a job, my bank account and social situations flying solo. Please don’t talk to me about how my independence is intimidating to a man. That’s so 1950s.

It may seem that I’ve painted a pretty bleak picture for how you can approach your single friend when it relates to their single status in life. But the reality is that he or she may be single, but they don’t have to be alone. And for their sake, and for what they have to offer to you and the rest of the world, I hope they won’t be.

You can help them to know that they are a valued member of a community, and not just because they “have all that free time on their hands.” Cut them a little slack, and do them and yourself a favor by treating them like what they are: normal.”

 Written by Ashley Alley cc. February 22, 2013. Relevant Magazine.

Making the Most Singleness – Part I

This week has been filled with streaming chick-flicks, sales on romance novels and flowers with Valentines Day in the midst of it. While in Christian realms, the focus has been on both the concept of marriage and singleness. Anthem Lights (so thankful for this group of guys) released a new single titled “Hide Your Love Away” from their new album. Listen to it here  and check out the story behind the song here. What a great message!

Can I just say that I’m waiting? During this interim/season, I belong to Jesus. I’m His. Completely. Well, most days… I definitely have my moments. One would think that I would have learned by now that God has my best interest in mind, but I have a long way to go.

Recently, a friend of mine posted a link to an article from Relevant Magazine (found here) on how legalistic the topic/idea of dating in Christian circles has become. Mentioned in the article is Josh Harris’s book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which I’m currently reading through. First, it’s not just about kissing dating goodbye, per se…it’s more about living life to its fullest now.

There is no reason why I should have to wait to go dine out at a restaurant simply because I have no one to go with.

There is no reason why I shouldn’t use the crystal glasses I received as a gift years ago just because I don’t have a family or occasion to share them with.

There is no reason I shouldn’t make my apartment an inviting home because I I’m the only one who sees it.

There is no reason why I should wait until a movie comes out on DVD simply because I don’t have someone to see it in the theaters with.

The list goes on. Simply put, life started the day I was born. It’s not going to stop because our culture says life doesn’t start until you meet your soulmate. God created me for more than solely focusing on my issues with singleness and loneliness. That is no way to live a life.

Also mentioned in that article is a book by Renee Fisher (Not Another Dating Book), who fell into the legalistic trap of thinking that she couldn’t date. Period.  In the article, she shares her own discovery on what God has to say about this social issue: “It wasn’t about a formula. It wasn’t about dating or courting or whatever. It was like, ‘Go on the journey yourself with God, and He’ll show you what to do. It’s between you and God. What is it that works best for you?’…The Bible doesn’t really come out and say, ‘Thou shalt not date,’ or ‘Thou shalt only court,’…It does talk about how to…love others. It talks about boundaries and sexual purity….The Gospel makes it clear…Jesus really cares. He cares about my stupid dating life…”

And I couldn’t agree more. Singleness is something I’ve lived with, struggled through, and continue to live with. There are peaks and valleys with it, just as with any part of life, and the pressure that culture seems to put on this topic is intense. Let me be honest with you. It’s hard to focus on Christ when family, friends and co-workers seem to say that something is wrong with you as a person if you haven’t found someone to share your life yet; as if it’s a sin to be single. It’s not.

I have more time to dedicate to my Savior during this season in my life, however long it may be. I’m not pulled in a million different directions with the demands that life generally places on us when we become more involved with families, being mothers or being wives. I’m able to focus on God and allow Him to mold me into the woman I was meant to be. Personally, I think it’s a great thing.

I ended up skimming through a few excerpts from Fisher’s book. It’s a devotional and I ended up purchasing it through Barnes and Noble and would like to share a few ideas from that book (and possibly a few others that I have on hand). A few entries may be personal, but my only hope and desire is that you, my readers, will draw encouragement from them during your own struggles with this topic.

Crushed

You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it…you wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you?…If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and His way.” James 4.2,4 MSG

 

Just think about that for a minute.

If that’s not convicting, I don’t know what it. James really knows how to pack a punch in a loving way.

Fisher shares a story about a crush. Allow me to expound on that a little: I had one once upon a time…well, several throughout my entire pre-adolescent, teenage and college years. I was six when I experienced my first one and let me tell you, the time that one took…they weren’t kidding when they said the first one was always the hardest. We grew up together, making it difficult to move on when I determined that he wasn’t interested.

I used to hide behind objects when the boy was over to help my dad with random things around the farm. Or, I’d ignore him completely. When I had gotten older, he started flirting with me and I didn’t quite know how to react…the awkwardness of being a teenager.  I had longed to be pursued, like most girls do, and I couldn’t wait for a crush to like me back. Fisher put it well when she wrote , “I craved the distraction from reality that crush provided. I would fantasize about whichever boy I liked. There’s something about a crush that makes me feel alive and beautiful. When I’m in between…I start to feel lonely, as if singleness is entirely my fault…There have been times when I allowed a crush, [or the lack there-of (my words)] to distract me from the things God had for me instead of giving my longings to Him. I forced the crush. I rushed. Pushed harder. I wanted to initiate instead of waiting for the guy to pursue me…”

Been there. Done that.

“…our job is to trust God and wait on His timing. Instead of panicking when I don’t have a crush as a constant distraction, I choose to spend time with God and find my fulfillment in Him. A crush shouldn’t distract you from your relationship with God – it should bring you closer. In Romans 4, Paul says that Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. ‘In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God’ (Romans 4.20).”

Let me ask you the same question Fisher phrased to her readers, “Will you hold on to the promise too – even when He seems farthest away?”

His timing is always perfect.

Source: Fisher, Renee. Not Another Dating Book. Harvest House Publishers. 2012. pg. 17-18.