Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Maybe the Bravest Thing I Will Do Is Be Single


 I've never associated bravery and courage with singleness before.

 Courage is for when I moved one thousand miles away from home.

 Bravery would be necessary if I ever developed cancer.

 But being brave about my singleness?

 Over the last six years, my singleness has been about surrendering my desires to God. It has been fighting for joy and contentment despite my circumstances. It has been trying to stop looking at myself and what I want, but rather how God could use me during this undistracted season in life. 

But maybe I need to be brave, too.

Maybe the bravest thing I will do is be single.

I imagined going through life with someone by my side. I thought when it was time to decide where to live, where to work, where to worship, what direction my life should take, I would have a husband to help make those hard decisions. 

I imagined a godly man who loved me with his heart despite my flaws, and someone I could love, too.

 I imagined a house with a few sweet children, writing novels during their naps. 

I imagined being less lonely. 

I imagined going through stages of life at the same pace as my friends and not being treated like a teenager or less of an adult because I have no husband. 

Not having that life I imagined scares me.

So maybe the bravest thing I will ever do is let God turn me in the opposite direction to a different life and a family that consists of just me, where I take one painful step after another. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Lesbian and Me


 Life is often funny. At least mine is. But the most helpful article I have read recently as far as my unwanted singleness goes was not about singleness at all, but about a Christian lesbian woman. 

 
The Lesbian

 I highly recommend reading the article. You can find the link here: I Never Became Straight. Perhaps That Was Never God's Goal

 Really. Please go read the article before continuing to read my words. 

 But let me clarify in case you don't. The article is from the perspective of a woman who at some point in her life realized she was attracted to women and not men. In college she became a believer and was later convicted of her homosexual lifestyle. 

 Convicted? Yes. 

 It felt right to not act on her homosexual desires? No. 

 She was attracted to women and not men. But God's word told her it was wrong despite what felt right and good to her. She had to learn to obey before she understood why, even though it went against every fiber of her being.

 Every fiber of her being.  


Me

 This is not a confession of an attraction to women. Quite the opposite. It is a confession of my attraction to men when God has not given me marriage.

 It makes no sense to me. I am attracted to men. I want to be married more than anything else. But I remain single. Singleness is the complete opposite of what every part of my body, soul, and mind wants.

 Yet here I am twenty-three years and eight months into my life still single.

 The lesbian Christian woman could not be lesbian because the Bible is clear that homosexuality is wrong. 

 Right now, God has made it painfully obvious that I am single and that is where He wants me.

 As the woman in the article says, my trust in God is being stretched. How much do I trust in Jesus? How much?

 We often have to obey even when we don't understand why.

 I don't understand why. 

 But I am here to say that my Savior knows best.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

When You Like a Guy


Recently, a reader asked me what she should do when she is interested in a guy. Before I dive into this subject, I want to be clear on something: I do not feel qualified to answer this question. This is something I tend to wonder about myself. I still struggle with liking guys and wondering what to do about it. I still do not handle my crushes well, leaping from different extremes on a daily basis. Because of that, my answers are purely based on my limited twenty-three years of experience, and mostly the wisdom I have received from my smart mother and multiple biblical books that have helped me navigate my singleness. 

 That being said, I have been here many times. I'm at school or church, or some event where there is a handsome guy and it's obvious he is a Christian. I may see him every Tuesday and Thursday in class, I may see him every Sunday at Church, or his face could keep popping up on Facebook. We could be friends, random students sitting next to each other in a boring class, or I could be admiring him from afar. Either way, it is hard to get him out of my head. 

 
So what do we do?

 Well, on a big picture level, nothing. 

 As a young woman who has liked many guys at times for years without them ever noticing me as more than that random classmate or friend, this is hard to write. I want to do something! I want to tell him how I feel. (Well, maybe not. I am afraid of rejection.) But I certainly don't want to just wait and see if he ever likes me. Frankly, I've done this many times, and it's hard. But I believe that the guy needs to initiate a relationship as a potential future husband and leader of his family.

 In "Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?", Carolyn McCulley writes, "When is a man interested? When he says so and his actions back up his words. Anything less is at best merely friendly and possibly even uncertain or inconsiderate. If he's a noble man who's made noble plans, one of his noble deeds is letting you know about it!" (90).  

 I confess that I was disappointed when I first read this. I'm not sure what I thought the author would say. Honestly, I would have preferred something more like, "Five Sure Signs Your Crush is Totally Into You", or "How To Get A Guy to Initiate A Relationship". Because really, that is the direction I want to go and it would involve me actively pursuing that goal.


  But in reality, McCulley's words provide the right answer. And the answer is no. In this situation, he doesn't like me because he hasn't told me he does. 

 That isn't to say that nothing will never happen in the future. I also think that as women we can always initiate friendships with men. But as far as my heart and romantic interest is concerned, I must proceed with my life facing the truth that he does not like me. 

 But of course, we don't sit in a corner of our room just waiting for Prince Charming! So in the small details of everyday life, this is what we do when there is a guy we like:

 
1. Pray, Pray, and Pray Some More

  I can't stress this enough. Jesus commanded us to pray, and it is such a privilege that we can come before our Heavenly Father. "...do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV).   We need to bring everything in our lives before God in prayer, and the guy we're currently crushing on is no exception. 

 There have been several guys I have prayed about in the past, and my prayers usually went something like this: God, there's this guy I really like. He seems like a great guy who loves you, who is active in his church, who has a great personality, and is good looking. God, I pray he will notice me and like me, too. But I pray that You will help me get to know him more, that You will show me whether or not this guy is for me someday. And I pray for Your will to be done.

 Looking back on my years in college, I can see the Lord's faithfulness to me and how he answered my prayers about the guys I liked. My freshman year I began to pray more boldly. I asked God to truly show me whether or not each guy I liked was for me. I asked for Him to change my heart and feelings toward the guy, or show me in a tangible way if the answer was yes or no. And God answered my prayers.

 My heart changed toward the first guy. One day he did something I thought was inappropriate. Though it wasn't a horrible sin or a deal breaker by any means, my heart changed. After that day, I no longer liked him. And God answered my prayer.

 The second guy I saw picking up a young lady for church literally a day after I began praying about him. A few weeks later, they started dating. And God answered my prayer.

 God did not provide a quick and easy answer for the last guy I liked in college. This guy was different because I thought that maybe he liked me back. But I didn't know for sure. He had said nothing to me. So I said nothing to him and just tried to get to know him casually and be his friend. And I prayed. But it seemed like God wasn't answering my prayer for Him to show me the answer. It took two years, but over time, after observing several things about this man, I realized that though he was a great guy and a strong believer, I couldn't respect him in several areas. And how could I even date a guy I couldn't fully respect? And God answered my prayer.

 Though each answer was painful, I learned so much about prayer and God's faithfulness and His timing.


2. Observe this man. 

 How is he with kids? What is he like angry? What is he like sad? What is he like when he's happy? How does he treat his mother? What kind of things does he like to do? Is he a hard worker? Is he willing to help out in any way that he can, or is he picky in how he serves? Do you get along with his family? What are his views on everything from the Trinity and salvation to how he feels about tattoos and alcohol?

 I'm not saying you have to know the answers to all of those questions before you potentially started dating, but they are still good to know, especially during this time when he's not necessarily trying to impress you and only show his good sides.


3. Pursue growth in yourself.

 This is where I start to fail. I forget that while I am looking around me for good, strong men who might make a good husband someday, that there are good, strong men looking for a wonderful potential wife. Would I make a good wife? In some areas, I would have to say no, from heart attitudes, my selfish nature, and not being super proficient in the kitchen. So these are areas that I work on.

 Even if I never get married someday, the skills and quality traits I am trying to grow in will never be wasted, either. For our ultimate purpose in life is to glorify God, and when we grow in the fruit of the spirit, we glorify Him.


4. Trust in God.

  Remember how my prayer ended in, "Thy will be done"? Well, that's the hardest thing to say, but the most important thing to say. I'm preaching to myself here. When I like a guy, I am convinced that he is the one for me and I can become obsessed. 

 But I need to trust the One who made me and who delivered me from my sin by dying on the cruel cross. If Jesus did that for me, can't I trust Him with my love life, or even lack of a love life? God may or may not have a husband in my future. It may or may not be my current crush. But either way I am spending eternity with Jesus! 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Review: Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot


Synopsis

 Elisabeth noticed Jim in college. She admired him from afar- his leadership, his strength of character, and most of all his passion for the Lord. And Jim liked Elisabeth. They hadn't known each other long when he told her how much he liked her. But there was a catch; he knew God was calling him to be a missionary in places and situations where he would need to be single. So they both continued their lives loving each other, but unsure if they could ever love each other as man and wife.

  In Passion and Purity, Elisabeth Elliot, through her own love story with her first husband, Jim, shows single men and women how to navigate their singleness. As her personal story unfolds, she weaves in her own biblical thoughts about romance and relationships, how to surrender all of our hopes and desires to God, and how to re-focus our hearts and thoughts on Jesus Christ, our ultimate and only love. 


What I Liked

Many books have been written about singleness, love, marriage, and relationships, but this one is my favorite, and I believe, may be the best. And this is why:

 1. From the beginning, Jim and Elisabeth Elliot put Jesus above themselves. It was always only ever about Jesus. They recognized that their feelings for each other were good and given by God, but also, that they could never be more important to each other than Jesus.

2. Elisabeth Elliot uses her own story and her own experiences. As I read, it felt like I was reading a suspenseful romance novel about two Christian people deeply in love with Christ and each other, but who did not know if they could ever marry. I learned without realizing I was learning, like I was learning with the young Elisabeth. Then occasionally, when Elisabeth came out of the story and into the present, it was more like listening to my grandmother share what God has taught her through all of her years on earth.  

 3. Elisabeth Elliot is always preaching, but never "preachy". She always shares the truth even if it is hard and does not avoid certain topics where people may struggle, but she always does so in love and at appropriate times. With the admonition is her own confessions of hardships, struggles, and areas that she herself failed.

4. When I read this book, I felt understood and loved as a single woman. Spoiler alert: Jim and Elisabeth Elliot do eventually get married. But as a single woman I never felt like it was another happy ending for everyone except me, because, even bigger spoiler alert, several years after they are married, Jim is killed. Elisabeth writes from the perspective of both joy and sorrow, singleness and marriage, loneliness and companionship, on the mission field and off the mission field. She truly understands both singleness and marriage, and I never felt she elevated one above the other or claimed one was easier than the other. 

 This is the second time I have read this book, and I learned so much each of those times. Except for the Bible, it is the non-fiction book I most recommend to both men and women.



  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sisters in Singleness // Kari's Story




   Occasionally I will be sharing the stories of other single women I know to encourage us with the truth that we are not alone in our singleness. Be sure to read Jennifer's Story if you missed it a few months ago. 


Kari's Story

 My name is Kari. I graduated from Cornerstone University in 2014 with a degree in ministry. I work at a local bookstore full-time, dog sit once in a while for friends, and serve in my church in the children's ministry and as a leader in the youth group.

Kari, can you share your story?
 I am 25 years old and I have been single all my life. I've never had a boyfriend, and the one date that I had was later in college. To some people that is absolutely shocking. In today's day and age, it's completely normal to have had multiple dates and a list of past boyfriends. Yet, for me, that's not a part of my story. I think there are a couple of reasons as to why that is the case.

 First, I grew up having the mindset of not needing a boyfriend or a date. I watched my friends go in and out of relationships, constantly changing their minds about certain guys or girls and what they thought of them. I saw them get hurt and witnessed healthy friendships become broken. Yet I saw some good relationships as well- two people happy and enjoying life together. But for me, I decided that I didn't want to ruin the friendships that I had with the guys in my life. Yes, I had crushes and interests, but I didn't want to need a relationship with a guy just because it was the thing to do. All throughout junior high and high school I had some great friendships with lots of guys, and it was a relief to know that I didn't feel the pressure to date them or make into something more.

 Second, I felt like I was never really ready to commit to a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. I can remember a couple of guys reaching out and asking me about dating, but I always said, "No." It's not that they were bad guys or anything like that; I just didn't feel inclined to be dating at those times. Plus there were the feelings of not being ready AND feeling intimidated by the unknown; it's a little scary if you think about it. I possess little to no experience in the realm of relationships other than what I have observed from those around me.

 Ultimately, I would love to be in a relationship with a wonderful man who loves and serves the Lord. I would love to be married and have kids of my own someday. I have been told many times by many people that I would make a good wife and mother. But at the moment that isn't who I am. God has placed me where I am in life for His good plan and purpose. God has called me to living the life of a woman unattached to anyone else so that I can be attached to Him. Yes, there are days when the reality of singleness is hard to deal with, and I feel like I'm missing out on married life. However, I am constantly reminded of how much of a blessing it is, and that I need to be faithful where God has me right now.

 How has your singleness been a blessing in your life?
  Countless ways! I really could have a long list of how being single has been a blessing, but I think there is one word that I can summarize most of it- service. I have been able to serve in ways that I probably would not have been able to if I was married. I've traveled out of the country three times (two of which were missions trips), I dog-sit and babysit for friends and families on occasion, and I can be as involved in church ministries as I want. My schedule is flexible and open, which means that I am available for things like last minute changes and spontaneous outings. If I had a husband and kids to take care of, I doubt I would be able to do all of that and more since my priority would be to them instead of all these other things. Being able to serve is one of my greatest passions, whether it be a huge project or a mundane task. Being single has made the ability to serve a broad path to pursue. 

 What has been the hardest part of being single?
  I think the hardest part about being single is seeing other people in good relationships and marriages. I truly am happy and excited for them, yet I long for that, too. It's also difficult when people I know ask me, "So, is there a guy?" I know they care about me and that they have good intentions behind their prodding, but it often reminds me of the fact that I don't have a man in my life. It can be a quick and easy way to turn my heart toward idolizing marriage, turning my focus toward something that is not God's plan for me right now.


 Has there been a specific book (or maybe several books) that have helped you the most through your journey as a single woman?
  The most recent book I have started reading is "The Meaning of Marriage" by Tim Keller and his wife, Kathy. While the book itself is good as far as thinking about marriage, chapter seven is specifically directed toward singleness and what that looks like. Honestly, that one chapter has some of the best wisdom and thoughts about being single that I have ever read or heard. It has impacted my perspective on being single. If you are single and want to read something that encourages you in your singleness, read chapter seven in "The Meaning of Marriage". 


If you could go back in time, what words of advice or encouragement about singleness would you share with your younger self?
  What you have or don't have doesn't determine your worth. Even though you're not in a relationship, it doesn't mean that people don't like you or care about you. I know that deep down inside you feel lonely. But you're really not alone. You have so many people in your life who know you and love you for who you are, and you have a God who has unconditional love for YOU. Your worth and value and significance are found in Him.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Should You Pray for Your Future Husband?



Though many aspects of the Christian life are black and white, either right or wrong, I think this is an area that is more gray. I have read blog posts where people were convinced it was wrong to pray for your future husband. I have read many more articles encouraging women to pray everyday for their future husbands, sometimes even using Bible verses out of context to claim that if we ask God for a husband He will give us the desire of our hearts. 

 I could write several blog posts about how ludicrous and un-biblical that is, but I will save that for the future. Right now I want to focus on the question, "Should we pray for our future husbands?"

 Honestly, I believe the answer depends on each woman. 

 I want to share with you two different seasons of my life in college to hopefully give some examples.


Scenario #1
   I honestly expected to have a boyfriend by my sophomore year. I was living on a campus with a bunch of Christian guys my age, so I thought for sure it was bound to happen, especially by my second year of college. But it didn't.  Instead, my roommate was planning her wedding, another good friend just started dating a guy, and everyone around me seemed to also be pairing up. And I was really struggling.

 But God used that struggle to challenge this idea I had of marriage. I thought I was going to get married someday just because I wanted to, because I thought I was entitled to have what I wanted. Clearly, that was wrong.

 Within that struggle, I recognized the fact that we can ask God for what we want. In the past I had prayed for a husband someday. But I also recognized that at least right now, my desire for a husband was a huge struggle and an idol in my life. I realized that I needed to focus on what God had given me and not what I felt like God should give me. Praying for my future husband at that time would have made my thoughts go places they shouldn't. So I didn't.


Scenario #2
  Both my junior and senior years of college, I liked this one guy. There were times when I was with him that it honestly seemed like to me and a few of my friends that he liked me too. And other times, he seemed to be hard core ignoring me. I couldn't figure him out.

 During that time I had also begun to pray for my future husband. I prayed that he existed. I prayed that God would mature him and grow him in love for Christ and in patience and love and peace and self control. I used a prayer guide, and I wrote out my prayers in my journal. As I wrote these prayers, it helped me to picture my future husband separately from this guy I liked. My future husband was exactly that: future. He was not in my life right now because I was not married.  This guy that I currently liked could maybe turn out to be my future husband, but right now he certainly wasn't. 

 Praying for my future husband during that season of my life forced me to not think of this guy that I liked as my potential future husband. It helped to put my emotions through a filter. Strangely enough, through prayer, observations of him, and I imagine my prayers for my future husband, the Lord showed me that though this guy was great in many ways, he probably wasn't the guy I should marry. There were qualities I wanted my future husband to have that he did not possess. 


 At different times in my life, I have found it helpful and unhelpful to pray for my future husband. I really believe it is something everyone needs to decide for themselves. Ultimately, it is more a question about your heart and what your attitude is when you pray or don't pray for your future husband. 

 It can be helpful to ask yourself questions to gauge whether or not you should be praying for your future husband, questions like...

 When you pray, are assuming this is something God should and will automatically give to you?

 When you don't pray, are you assuming this is something God will never give you?

 After you pray or don't pray for your future husband, how do you feel? Do you feel committed to the qualities your husband needs to have someday? Does it make you dwell too much on something that God has not given to you right now?

 Are you also praying that God will be growing you and molding you to be a wonderful wife someday?



What are your thoughts on praying for your future husband? Is it something you do or don't do? I would love to hear your stories!



     

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Single Woman I Want to Be


 I recently read an article about not being an average single woman (Not Your Average Single Girl), and it has inspired me to do something I have wanted to do for a long time: make a Singleness Bucket List.

  I have avoided writing it, I admit. I often don't want to post on this blog as it makes me more fully admit my singleness. In the same way, it can be depressing to come up with what I want to do with my singleness when I really just want it to go away.

 But as the article said, joy and contentment are more than telling myself the truth of all the ways God has blessed me. That is good and right, but it is also about living my life and choosing to be joyful and content each day. And one way I can do that is to make a list of things I want to be and do while I am single. 

 Some things will help me better prepare for being a wife and mother. Some things will be activities I can best do because of the freedom I currently have in my singleness. Some things are things I want to do no matter what my relationship status is. Everything on my list will be worth while whether or not I get married. 



The Single Woman I Want to Be

 I want to be constantly in the Word and on my knees in prayer.

 I want to always be reading books about theology, Christian living, poetry, and any good literature the world can offer. 

 I want to travel, both to proclaim the gospel through short term missions trips and to see as much as I can about this beautiful world God created. 

 I want to continue to write and grow both of my blogs to encourage myself and other young women to continue be faithful to the Lord. 

 I want to share the gospel through writing many novels, a non-fictional book about emotional porn, and maybe a devotional for single women.

 I want to manage my home well, whether that home is one room of my own, an apartment, or a whole house. 

 I want to always open my home to others, again, whether that is one room or many rooms.

 I want to be able to cook healthy and delicious meals at a reasonable speed. 

 I want to care for children, whether that is the children in my church or my own.

 I want to make baby quilts and donate them to local Christian pregnancy centers, and if God blesses me with my own babies, I want to make a quilt for each of them.

 I want to minister to younger girls around me in some way, maybe by simply being their friend or older sister.

 I want to go on adventures big and small while I have the time and freedom.

 I want to live my life like I am a nomad on this earth, purposely living life to the glory of God, but knowing I am not home in heaven yet. 

 I want to live the single years of my life with joy, purposefulness, and intentionality. 


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Large and Small Deaths // Laying My Desire for Marriage on the Altar

 "He was leading her away from her hearts' desire altogether and gave no promise at all as to when he would bring her back."  
~ Hinds' Feet on High Places         


 Early last week I was pondering my singleness and this quote from the allegory by Hannah Hurrand (which I think every Christian should read- it was that good!). Not that I don't usually ponder my singleness, but last Monday and Tuesday it was particularly on my mind.  

Image result for hinds feet on high places In Hinds' Feet on High Places, the Shepherd leads Much Afraid on a long journey where he says he will make her feet like those of the hind and hart leaping among the mountains. It is a hard journey that Much Afraid takes, but the Shepherd helps her, gives her companions, and at the end, Much Afraid has been completely changed and finds the high places where her Shepherd lives better than she could have imagined, a beautiful picture of our lives as Christians on this earth and the hope we have in heaven. 

 But what struck me most in this story is how at almost every turn, every change, every hardship and every new path Much Afraid took, the Shepherd asked her to make an altar and lay down her fears and desires and give them to Him. 

 Throughout my life, I have had to lay down my singleness before God many times. I remember specifically doing this my junior year in college. At that point in time, it was clear that God was not going to let me get married right after my graduation like I wanted. I realized that I had been holding my desire to be married in a tight fist, clinging to it more tightly than Him, like God could only be good to me if He granted me that desire. At some point during my junior year the Lord broke me, pushing me literally to my knees before Him where I knew I must offer my desire to be married to Him. It has been one of the hardest things I have ever done, but what a sweet communion with my Lord it gave me.

 However, offering this desire is not just something I need to do every year or every few months. Just as Much Afraid had to continually make an altar, I need to continually give Jesus my hopes, desires, and fears- particularly my desire to be married. This must happen every day. Every morning I need to submit and surrender to His will. 

 Much Afraid laid on the altar big, hard things as well as small things. I've been realizing that my singleness is comprised of both of those things. Usually I see it as one big, hard thing, but it is also made up of many small, hard things. The difficulty of singleness is also seeing my friends and people I grew up with have boyfriends and get married. It is the realization that my younger sister may get married before me. It is the awkwardness of relationships with married friends changing. It is holding crushes and potential relationships with an open hand. It is being alone on Valentines' Day. It is no one asking me to dance. It is the realization that I may never have children. These are the little deaths that I forget I must also lay on the altar. 

 So right now, today, and yet again, I lay my desire to be married on the altar. I do not want to be single. I did not want to be single when I was six. This is hard. So hard. But I lay this desire at His feet for Him to take and do as He sees fit. And starting now, I will do this every day, because that is what my weak, selfish hearts needs.

 Lord, I pray that I will trust You with these large and small things. I pray that I will hold my hopes and desires with an open hand and that no matter what happens with my life I will say, 'You are good', because You are always good. 

Have you read "Hinds' Feet on High Places?" 
How did the book impact you? What large and 
small deaths are you having to give to God?