Reading Time: 5 minutes
Earlier this week, a tweet started circulating in my circles of Twitter and it exploded. And it made me explode as well. I know people say that unfounded, dumb takes shouldn’t be shared, as it only gives them more views, and yes, while I agree with this - I’ll probably do it in hopes that maybe that person will see my words and gain a new way of thinking that maybe will make them pause and reconsider. Naive? Probably. Because the likelihood of that person caring is probably very slim.
But I do care what others reading their words think.
And so, I’ll share mine, in hopes of encouraging, not shaming. Here they are.
Reading your tweet that I should “just get going” on married life struck a nerve deep within me. Your response was in regards to another tweet that gave some stats on marriage. Particularly that in 1978, 59% of 18-34 year olds were married. And by 2020, 69% of 18-34 year olds had never been married. Now, here are some things single women in 2020 could do that single women in 1971 could not:
The list of what a woman could do on her own grew greatly in the 70s, so it makes sense that more younger women were married then. They needed a partner to do, what are now, basic things; and still, most jobs for women (those that had one outside the home) were to serve others or strictly the family they came to have.
This isn’t me bashing marriage…or men. But maybe it helps shed some light on why singles, women in particular, are waiting later to get married. Marriage isn’t needed as much as it was then…
And that leads me to my next thought. Marriage is not a requirement, or something that I must do. It is a gift. If you find yourself married, be blessed by it and of course enjoy it, but do not shame or guilt those of us who are unmarried. It’s your opinion that marriage “is the best thing in life” and that as a single, I’m “missing out”, but that’s all that it is. An opinion. Your words continue the narrative to singles that they are missing out on something they should be doing to have a fulfilling life.
Marriage is not the end all, be all of life. I’m not less than you, or less fulfilled, because I’m single. Not only do I think singles are waiting later to get married, because they don’t need it as much, but also, I think we are recognizing marriage is hard work. And we are doing what we need to now, on our own, in hopes that if marriage comes, it will be successful.
Marriage is not like me picking out an outfit in the morning. Too many want the wedding, the party, but don’t want to work for what comes after the recessional or sparkler exit - the actual marriage. There is a lot of work, in people as individuals first, that needs to happen before they “get going on nuptial life.” For some that’s working through trauma - of seeing ugly divorces in their family, domestic violence, or any of the other traumas that life throws at us. For others fear - that they won’t be enough for someone to stick around when the hard parts of life happen. Or that years pass and suddenly one day they find themselves abandoned, because they weren’t wanted anymore.
And society tells us that’s okay, to just quit, and move on to the next marriage. But it’s not. Marriage is so much more. It’s not something to “just get going on.” And this isn’t to shame those who have been divorced. For some, there are deep hurts and deep wounds. We all have our own guilt and shame we are working through for a myriad of reasons, we don’t need others to help pile that on. Me as a single, or you as a married.
Both marriage and divorce rates are falling - showing that some just don’t want to deal with it, whether that’s getting married or staying married. Society sees it as a disconnect from the idea of marriage, and maybe so. But marriage has become an idol. Perhaps that is why you stated it as being “the best thing in life.”
And I’ll end with this - if you truly believe that marriage is the best part of life and that I’m missing out, I know you are missing out on something as well. What marriage is a picture of - Christ and His church. It’s a beautiful gift, that should point you and others, back to Jesus. As a man and woman sacrifice for each other, Christ sacrificed for us in the ultimate way. He died for us. And as a woman is called to submit to her husband - we are to submit to Christ. And as a man is called to love his wife as much as he loves himself - we are to love Christ that much.
So, plot twist: I actually am a bride because I’m part of Christ’s Church.
And that may be cheesy. But what wedding doesn’t have some sort of cheese - both in puns and actual snack?
If Christ being my Groom and I His bride is cheesy, give me all the cheese. If it’s the only marriage I ever get to be a part of, it’ll be the longest nuptial ceremony you’ve ever been a part of. And I do hope you’ll be a part.
But not because it’s required of me, but because I’ve welcomed the gift after knowing I didn’t deserve it in the first place.
A single gal, learning to love and like herself (and others), and live fulfilled, outside of marriage.
Reading Time: 5 minutes
I have two companions in life. Loneliness and Jesus.
Both are with me, everyday. Both fight for my attention, everyday. One leads me closer to the other. One outshines the other.
And I honestly don't know who I would be without each of them.
I don't think anyone ever wants to admit they are a lonely person. At least not to other people. It's never something I just come out and say when I meet people. "Hello, my name is Jess and I'm lonely." I play that out in my head and see everyone shaking my hand as they reply with a long, "Oookayyy." Completely unsure about what the heck just happened and if they want to even continue a conversation with me. Simply, it would throw people for a loop if I introduced myself that way.
I remember my counselor saying to me one day, "That seems lonely." It was the first time I heard someone else say out loud, what I had been feeling and experiencing. I couldn't even say the words myself, she had to say them for me. Sometimes we need help saying things.
Loneliness is the constant low hum of my life, like singleness, that seeks to make itself known in my life each day. But when I surrender over that low hum? There's Another that seeks to make Himself more known in my life.
Surrender involves opened hands, not fists clenched around things I think I want or that I think might fulfill me. Surrender means to give up or hand over. I'm emptying my hands, trusting Jesus with what I'm giving up, and standing in front of Him with now empty hands. I could stop there and think how maybe that feels lonely in itself. To have nothing in my hands, to still be without something. Because something is better than nothing right?
But when standing in front of Jesus, with open hands? The possibilities are endless to what He could now fill them with.
But, I've learned something. When I open my hands in surrender and find them empty, I must turn them back over towards the Father in a posture of praise. When I find my gaze fixed on Jesus, when I find myself in His presence, I not only find myself far from loneliness, but completely filled with the one thing needed: Him.
Psalm 27:4 says, "One thing I have asked of the Lord; this is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and seek Him in His temple."
To gaze on the beauty of the Lord. I think of Mary, sitting at Jesus' feet when I read this. As Martha scrambled around the house, Jesus told her that Mary had chosen the good portion, the one thing needed. To be in His presence. Mary looked for Jesus and she found Him.
Something else I think about when it comes to surrender. If I'm no longer holding it, that means someone else is. Jesus holds my loneliness for me.
Holding it for me is great, but why doesn't He crush it? Why doesn't He get rid of it completely? Why must this be something I carry? Well, that happens at the end of my story, and we aren't there yet. So He keeps holding it for me. And honestly, loneliness is what is at the center of my surrender. It's the one thing that keeps me coming back to Him.
If I've surrendered it once, why would I choose to take it back from Him? We all may have different reasons, but we do...we see Him holding it, but get afraid, so we grab it back, thinking that we must hold it to have control. To have stability. To have something, rather than nothing. Empty hands scare us. Complete surrender scares us.
Another definition of surrender? To abandon oneself entirely.
It could be easy for me to choose loneliness as my only companion. To surrender, abandon myself entirely to loneliness. I could shut myself off from the world, keep the blinds close, and watch the entire catalogue of Netflix while I play games on my phone. I could. And it would keep my hands busy. But they would also be too busy to stop and be filled with something much more.
So, what's the other choice? What could I simply choose to do instead? Abandon myself entirely to Jesus. And it starts with open hands.
Jesus said if we seek Him, we would find Him. There isn't just one roadmap of life that all of us must follow that will lead us to finding Him. Perfect grades, the right job, getting married, making money, building a house. All those things might be on our map, but they aren't what must be done to seek the Lord.
The good portion is found by sitting at His feet. And if we are sitting at His feet, surely we won't miss Him. But if we think we have, when we go to shift our weight or get up from our spot on the floor, may our hands hold us up and our gaze turn upwards. To see the One we were seeking. To know and realize He was there, waiting for our eyes to lock with His. Then may our hands move from the floor to our sides, as we lift them up and open to Him. In surrender and in praise. And may our desire not be in grabbing back what we surrendered, but in gazing at His beautiful face. Until everything else disappears, until all else fades, until only one companion remains.
Reading Time: 6 minutes
A few days ago I shared one of my favorite posts from the archives, The KitchenAid Mixer Dilemma: A Singleness Story. I was not prepared for the conversations I was to have with both my single and married friends. When I reposted it, I also asked two new questions.
Singles: what is something you haven't done because you feel it's something you can't do because you're single?
Marrieds: what is something you wish you would have done when single that you didn't and would encourage singles to do?
Twitter and Instagram began to buzz, with great discussion, and then to what color we have or would love to have. (Have you guys seen the hobnail one?? It's gorgeous.) And with great tips on how to not drop $300 for one, by using coupons and Kohl cash and then maybe you can snag one for $150 like one of my friends. This still amazes me.
Some were confused on how owning a mixer could be associated with being married. And that's exactly the point: it shouldn't be.
And we aren't exactly talking about owning a mixer here. The KitchenAid mixer is a mixer in my story, but it could be something else in yours. The "mixer" is whatever "it" is in your single life that you think you can't do because you are single. The goal? To do that thing, to "buy" the mixer.
I love movies. And one of my favorite things to do alone (when we aren't in quarantine) is to go to the movies. It's one thing as a single that I've never had a problem or second thought about doing. Eating out at a restaurant? That one took me a little longer, but now it's also something I enjoy every once in awhile. Traveling? Also took me a bit to get comfortable doing that solo, and I've yet to do a whole week or something longer than a weekend by myself. Yet, I heard from one of my friends who has traveled solo several times, but hasn't gone to the movies by herself! It's going to look different for all of us.
The number one thing that my married friends answered with on what they wish they would have done while still single? Travel solo. While you obviously can still do this once married (as with anything), traveling solo has so many perks. You aren't as limited in activities or places you can go. You are free to do or see whatever you desire. And if you're an introvert, it's one of the best ways to recharge. So to the singles who are thinking about that vacation? Take it. And to my married friends who still wish to solo travel? Do it. Carving out that time to still be by yourself is important and never a waste.
Other things my married friends suggested? Start the small business you've been dreaming about, go to the movies, buy a house, build good habits, invest in friends and families. No matter what it was, the sentiment was the same: don't wait, do it now. As one friend said: Buy the KitchenAid. Take the trips. Ignore the stupid rules.
And yes, that is the goal, but sometimes it's harder said than done. I think we first have to break free from the notion that life begins at marriage. It doesn't. You are alive and living now. While having a person to join in on those things may be enjoyable, once a second person is added, the dynamic changes. Today, if single, it's just you. And the only person truly telling you "no"? Is yourself. Everything else can be worked through.
Single friends say they didn't wait to upgrade their bed size (and I long for this day, because a big bed sounds heavenly) or to buy a house. Some literally got a KitchenAid mixer (or a Hamilton Beach if that's your brand). And many are traveling (seriously, take the trip). Celebrate graduating college, that first job, your first apartment. While marriage is a big milestone in life to be celebrated, if we only waited for that moment to be fun and throw confetti? Some of us may be waiting for awhile, or may never dance in it at all. Be brave, "buy" the mixer.
And married friends: Recognize when your single friends are silent, or when they say something that makes them feel something isn’t for them because they are single. Most likely that isn’t true and they can partake even if single. Listen and then affirm them to go for “it.” Whatever “it” may be.
And for both married and single friends, if you're able (and desire to), go to counseling. I'm so glad that one of my married friends added this! She began going once dating her now husband, but wishes she had gone years before while still single. What she shared with me is so true and I echo it, it's so helpful to know who you are as your own person before in a relationship. Some people don't need counseling for this, but I'm an advocate for anyone going if they can. After beginning my own journey two years ago, I can honestly say I know more of who I am now in these first couple years of my 30s, than I ever did in my 20s. Like high school, I was ready to kiss those years goodbye. And I know that I'm better prepared now, than I would have been then, if marriage had been something on the horizon.
Friends, there are a lot of "rules" we have to play to keep up with society, or who the culture thinks we need to be. Single people can adopt or have babies on their own now! We can land amazing jobs or move across the world! At the core of who we are, we are all beings made for community and relationships - and the thing we think we can't do because we are single? That could be the very thing where community is waiting for us.
Where will you find it? What will you be brave enough to "buy" during this time? If it's the copper KitchenAid mixer, get two please. I changed my mind, I don't want the retro blue one anymore.
Two book recommendations, for both those single and married:
+ If you're interested in solo traveling, check out Dream, Plan, and Go by Rachel McMillan! She's written "a travel guide to inspire your independent adventure"!
+ If you want some help in being brave, a little each day, check out 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs. You can start it anytime, but a collective group is beginning August 3rd (this coming Monday) and I'm joining in again! This will be my second time and would love to have some friends join in with me. It's not too late for you to join in - she'll post the first five days on her social media, while you wait for your copy. And it's about $10 on Amazon currently or buy at your favorite retailer!
Reading time: 7 minutes
Never Uttered Before
A well-known verse (that's actually about church discipline) brought me to a new realization about singleness this morning.
Matthew 18:20 says, "for where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them."
I mentioned this verse is actually about church discipline - and it is within the context of Scripture that it is found. Jesus is speaking with believers to tell them how to treat a fellow believer who sins and that as they are dealing with the issue of sin in another believer's life, He is there with them. It's another example of how Jesus provides strength and peace in a situation that may not be peaceful at all when we invite Him into it. He is affirming believers holding other believers accountable.
I've heard this verse quoted many times, particularly when talking about believers being together in community as the church, or when believers are collectively praying together about one thing. But it stuck in my head this morning, because the enemy tried to twist it - to try and get me to hear something else entirely. The scheme he used on Jesus, quoting Scripture to try and tempt Him, he tried on me this morning.
He wanted me to hear that if I wasn't with another, me being one and not two (with a spouse) or three (in a building with other believers), then I wasn't being seen or heard by God.
So I read the verse in it's context and then sent the enemy on his way with a simple statement that I don't think I've ever uttered before: Jesus has redeemed my singleness.
Mountains and Valleys
My singleness was never going to be redeemed by marriage. I was never going to be redeemed by marriage.
As a believer and follower of Christ, there is no way I would want to believe that marriage was the thing to save me. For what if it doesn't happen? I'm lost forever...literally. Yet, for certain seasons of my life, I've been buying into that lie.
Here's the thing with me and my singleness (and perhaps for other single folks if you ask them): it's been a series of mountains and valleys. For years, maybe more than half my life, marriage was something I never thought of, even through college. I was always surrounded by great friends who I had fun with and kept me laughing. Even when watching friends date, it was never something I felt like I needed. Wanted? Sure, but not needed. I loved my spot at the tables we pushed together in the dining halls, where we would sit and laugh for hours. Sometimes relationships circled around the tables, other times not, but it was never the core of who we truly were. Of who I was. Those times around the tables filled with friends, that was a mountaintop in my single life.
The valley of loneliness didn't catch up with me until after college. Graduation happened, I moved across the country, and for close to a year, I was still doing well. Looking back, I was slowly sliding down the side of the mountain (in one way literally, as I attempted to learn how to ski during this time and it did not go well) into a valley I hadn't quite found myself in before, as I was going to this time. My time in California came to an end and I remember as I was flying back to Alabama, thinking about driving to my apartment. Only, that wasn't where I was going because my apartment in Tuscaloosa, the city that had been my home for five years, wasn't mine anymore. If I had pulled up into that parking space in front of the patio on the left, I wouldn't have seen my things, but someone else's.
After California, I moved back home, rested a little and then started searching for a full-time job (which is a full-time job in and of itself but with no benefits and almost only rejection - another metaphor for singleness, but that would be a whole other post). I eventually found myself in my current home, Mobile, and started settling into a new life here. In a city that I knew I could enjoy, but only had a few people that I knew. My people, my college family, now at this time was spread throughout the state and around the country. Long dinners at long tables were no longer. And loneliness started etching its way into those now empty spots of my life.
Seeking the Summit
As time kept moving for me, a single, it did for my friends as well. Some single, some actively dating. My texts were full of conversations where friends and I talked about trying to find contentment in Christ alone and navigating adult life as a twenty-something. Then slowly, our conversations began to change. Friends were dating, they had a guy and it was serious, what are you doing on this date? The fridge become a collage of announcements and invitations. Weddings allowed reunions that got us all back around big tables again. After one wedding, I remember walking the streets of Tuscaloosa with friends and we talked about how we missed this life. Us together, laughter, let's all move back and be in one place together again. We jokingly, not so jokingly, agreed. Saying we were down for it, but knowing that even if we did, it wouldn't be the same as it had been before. Those small reunions were tiny mountains for me, or at least me walking up the incline from valley, trying to leave it below.
I never quite reached the top, and I never was going to, unless I changed what was at the summit waiting for me.
As birthdays passed and I found myself late into my twenties, I tried to find more ways to get out of the valley. Still thinking the only way out was a relationship and eventual marriage, like a good Christian millennial, I looked to church...and dating apps. Remember the looking for a full-time job analogy? No benefits and only rejection? Here again it applies all too well. Between friends "who only love you and want to see you happy" and apps where conversation lags and drags, the story became the same over and over. Interest, maybe-perhaps, no? Okay, never mind.
I still hadn't changed what was at the top of the mountain, so why did I think this cycle would be any different? There was only one way to finally get out of the valley and beyond the halfway point of the incline that I felt completely stuck on. To change what was waiting for me at the summit.
Single, Saved, Redeemed
So I did. I told friends who loved me (and I do know they love me) that I just wasn't feeling it, that I wasn't in a place ready to or wanting to date. And I deleted the apps.
I looked up the incline still ahead of me, but now eager to take it on and dig my heels in. Because at the top of the mountain now waiting for me? Jesus.
Have I reached it? No, but perhaps today I did reach the next basecamp closer to the summit. Because when I felt the enemy try to twist Jesus' words and use them against me, to make me feel alone, I rejected it and heard Jesus speak instead, "I have redeemed her singleness."
Jesus saved my life many years ago and ever since then He's been redeeming bits and pieces of my story. The empty spots of my life are being filled and not with loneliness or grief or fear or anger. But filled with the life-giving blood of Christ. Slowly, each empty, desolate place is being turned into an oasis of life. One that cannot be ignored or unseen.
My singleness was never going to be redeemed by marriage. I was never going to be redeemed by marriage.
But, praise God, I have been redeemed. May my single self say so.
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story -
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things."
Reading time: 3 minutes
The book of Hosea is well-known for its story of Hosea and Gomer, the prostitute who Hosea is told to go and marry. But, do you realize that after chapter 3, Gomer is not mentioned anymore within the book? Beyond the rocky love story of a prophet and a prostitute, this is a story about us today. Of how we, like the Israelites, have wandered away from God to other lovers.
I’ve been wanting to rest and sit in the idea of God pursuing me. And the more I sit in it, the more uncomfortable I get. Because I know, like Gomer and the Israelites, I’ve found myself attracted to other “lovers” that claim they can love me back in bigger, better, bolder ways.
So there I run, ignoring the promise of an eternal betrothal of righteousness and faithfulness from God (2:19-20). I choose disgraceful things over glorious ones (4:7) and forget that my stubbornness doesn’t allow me to be led to pastures (4:16).
I am doomed (5:4), when I’m running this way, forsaking Him who does not forsake me and hoping these other “lovers” will help cure the loneliness inside (5:13).
But they will not.
I must return to the One who truly loves me, with the eternal betrothal. The One who leads to wildernesses, we see.
And it seems like a trap at first! What good can be found in a wilderness?
“What good can come from Nazareth?” the apostle would later ask.
Don’t we unknowingly ask this question every time we step into a desert place? Nothing good is what our eyes see first, but then they begin to adjust. Blinking harder as we continue to walk, the ground around us changing before us.
But it can’t be! Water in the desert? And it’s coming from the ground!
The dusty dirt turns darker as the water rises and flows. Our eyes follow the swelling stream and we look ahead. It is pooling together. Now large enough for us to wash ourselves and our dirty feet. Now large enough for us to drink! We can make it, we begin to think.
And what is that pricking our heart? Hope.
This desert wilderness that once held us captive is now turning into an oasis. New life, not certain death.
And we were led here all along.
We must resist going back.
Gomer, it’s believed, finally stopped resisting. Her silence for the rest of the book of Hosea seen as a sign that she stayed and remained faithful to the husband who bought and brought her back lovingly.
I wish to be Gomer and get it right within three chapters, but like the Israelites, I take a bit longer. Israel repents in chapter 6, but it’s not a faithful repentance. Their love has no substance (6:4) and they continue to say all the right things, but don’t do them. Very reminiscent of me today, confusing obedience and sacrifice.
So I ask myself, does my love for God have substance?
There are roots there, but how are they doing? Are they planted strong by the water that pools together in the wilderness or are they rotted?
“As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:3) As surely as the sun rises...
Will my repentance be empty like the “lovers” I chase after, like that of the Israelites? Or will I see the way in the wilderness that springs forth hope and eternal betrothal and never look back?
Reading time: 2 minutes
Something strange has happened the past couple of days. I have felt peace. Specifically, peace pertaining to my singleness. It's not like the "I-don't-care" attitude I had in college or the always "wondering-when-marriage-is-coming" obsessiveness that seemed to dominant my late twenties. But peace.
Yes, still mixed with some cynicism (it's hard to get rid of this) that maybe it's just easier to go this road alone for another 31 years. There is a question that still creeps into my mind every once in awhile, either asked by my counselor or just curious minds, "What is it that I want? What do I desire?" And for the first time in a long time, I can answer truthfully when saying, "Jesus."
He has known me always, but I've known Him the past 23 years. He has walked the path beside me - hills and valleys - every step of the way. And when I'm tempted to quote Green Day by declaring, "I walk a lonely road...but it's only me, and I walk alone...", I know I haven't. There were only some paths I walked where I never looked over for Jesus' face. I know if I had, that I would have been met with kind eyes. Now, when thinking about those times I rejected His invitations, and went ahead of Him on my own, I see a different picture. One of me standing behind Jesus as He looks at me walking ahead of Him, determined to make it by myself. And those kind eyes are filled with tears. Yet, by His grace and because of His love, He kept coming after me. Always with me wherever I went and always ready with an invitation.
I wish I could go back and tell myself to take Him up on all of His offers. To not be ridiculous and selfish, thinking I could do this life alone. But because I didn't accept those, it has made accepting the invitations of today so much sweeter. And I know, that whatever my next 31 years look like, I won't be walking alone.
Empty chairs at tables. A double bench on a patio. Thanksgiving and Christmas planning. Needing to pick up a bookshelf. A piece of cheese.
These things have nothing in common, except that they are all things that made my loneliness palpable within the last month. .
There are four chairs at my parent's dining table, we only occupy three. I dream of the third being filled one day. I sat on their patio while visiting one weekend for a quiet moment outside, longing for someone to be there with me as I sipped my coffee. We talked about Thanksgiving and Christmas plans. The holidays, the worst time of the year. A friend reminded me about a bookshelf that I'm getting from her and I thought of how it won't possibly fit in my two-door car, so how will I get it? Three pieces of cheese sat on the counter to top burgers. I wanted there to be four. This may be the most ridiculous one of all, as the man who may one day come could be allergic or, as tragic as this would be, despise the stuff.
"'Tell me I’m not going to stay here,' she breathes into the phone. 'Just tell me this won’t be my forever.'" Hannah Brencher shared in one of her Monday e-mails. She was talking to a friend who was over being single. "Been there," I found myself saying. Which also happened to be the title of that week's weekly email. A friend who also gets this dose of honesty in her inbox texted me while I was at work asking if I had read it yet. I hadn't and she told me to wait until lunch or something to read it. Basically forewarning me that I would be a hot mess after reading it. She wasn't wrong, but at the end of it, I came away with a whole new perspective on my singleness. An "aha!" epiphany moment and a slap in the face all at the same time.
Sunday I sat across the table from a friend while at lunch and I told her that August had sucked. It had. The end of July is when things really began to spiral and then just spilled over into all of August. It wasn’t fun. I don’t know that I’ve ever had quite a month like August was. She asked me what sparked it, what started the downwardness? I couldn’t tell her, because I’m honestly not sure.
July/August marks three months of counseling. Maybe it’s that I’m getting to those places where I desperately need to be, but don’t want to be. Those places where my emotions have been buried for so long, that I’ve never let anyone see them. They are starting to come out now. And that is scary.
See, I’m a peacemaker. A 9 on the enneagram and avoider of conflict. Something else that means? For me, I don’t do vulnerability. I can look at every single relationship I have — family, friends, guys — and see that there’s only a certain level that I go to. Eventually, we get to a wall and I don’t want to go over it. I’ve never had a thing for heights and apparently never a thing for depth when it comes to relationships.
I don’t let people see me cry, I stuff and bury emotions until they fester, and then I explode into anger.
Does’t seem like a peacemaker at all. Because there hasn’t been any peace.
Last week, my counselor handed me some fruit from a tree in her backyard. And I've been thinking about it all week long. I'm sure she plucked them from the tree and handed them to me only because I asked what they were out of curiosity. But, my mind has constantly gone back to those little green fruits that look like limes on the outside, but are like oranges on the inside. Whatever they may be, they are fruit. And when she placed them in my hand and told me to let her know what I thought about them, my mind was flooded with thoughts of how the Lord is growing fruit in my own life.
There is a quote, that I can't for the life of me remember right now. Something about holiness and something about hard places. But those two words have been repeating themselves over and over in my head this past week. Since the start of the year, I've been wanting to find my one word for the year. A word that could encapsulate the year and help me keep my focus throughout the year. I went over word after word, never feeling like it was quite the one.
About a week ago, I finished reading a book that is coming out in March, "Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot" by Mo Isom. I was on Mo's launch team for her first book, and while this one is quite different in content, I felt like I needed to apply to be on her team again. So, I did. And when I learned I was on the team, I thought to myself, "Now you actually have to read this book." I wasn't sure what to expect in between it's pages, but I was intrigued.
If anything, I thought it would be a great resource for later, when or if, I got married. But now, after finishing, my kindle version is highlighted up and down of truth that speaks so much new life into my singleness. That is one thing that I wasn't expecting. But it was something that I've been unknowingly praying for. Another prayer that I had forgotten I was praying. When all the chapters were read, a renewed singleness is what I found.
Honestly, I've been over it. Completely over being single and all that it offers...and doesn't offer. I've struggled through my singleness more times than surrendering it to God. But why? Why would I constantly want to tie myself to bitterness, anger, loneliness, and jealousy? Those things only inflict more of themselves. They lead me nowhere towards light and only deeper into darkness.
The crawl towards light seems to be a never-ending, all out fight most days. There is lots of kicking and screaming, much like a child. And while a lot of that has been directed to God in my anger, I also throw a lot back to myself. Because when you're the only one in the room, it's easy to make yourself the target. And words thrown at myself are easier to fix than holes in the wall. Or so I tell myself.
Words are powerful. They speak life and death. No matter if you are speaking them to others or yourself. And before reading Mo's book, one that I didn't know how much I would relate to or needed, I wasn't expecting to read words that gave me a new hope in my singleness. But that is what came.
And while I highlighted up and down, there are some thoughts that I wrote down from Mo that I have been clinging to in the week since I finished her book. Each day, I pray through one of them. Expectant that God will answer. That my daily surrender of my singleness will pull me closer to light than the darkness. That each day, my focus would not be my singleness, but of what God has for me that day. That each day would drive me closer and closer to His holiness. I've prayed that God would use every second of this time and for Him to encounter me. To equip me with strength. To teach me daily how to walk. And for His love to compel me.
I've realized over my prayer journey, that oftentimes I pray for the wrong things. Always masking my true agenda in words that seem right. Never quite praying in God's will or for the things He would have for me. But, the past week I have watched as He has answered my prayers, in ways that may seem small, but speak in such loud volumes, that I cannot ignore it. When I prayed for Him to encounter me, He met me in a quiet, morning moment of bright stars shining down into my backyard. When I prayed to be equipped with strength, He met me at a hard day at work. He is daily teaching me how to walk, how to give Him moments that matter. And when I asked for His love to compel me? He brought a college friend to my mind as I sat in church this morning and then again as I sat on my bed weeping, as that same friend posted that she had lost her earthly father.
I almost wanted to take back my morning prayer today. As sitting on my unmade bed crying wasn't what I expected when I asked for His love to compel me. But His love compelled me to call out to Him on my friend's behalf. To offer words, then tears when the words wouldn't come. Sometimes, my tears are the only offering I have to give to God.
And while I can't remember whatever that quote is, I'm learning that holiness is found in the hard places. That there in those moments, where the stars shine bright and where I'm left crying on my bed, in those hard moments, He is revealing Himself to me, showing Himself holy. When the prayer has left my lips, I then anticipate His answer. I wait with great expectation.
That word for the year? Expectant.
Expectant of what His answers will be. Expectant of what He will show me. Expectant of what hard times will inevitably come, but expectant that His holiness is always to be found if I ask Him to show it to me.
This year, Lord, with my heart renewed, I wait, expectant of all that You will do.
More Things From Mo
Click here to pre-order Mo Isom's new book, "Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot", available March 6th!
Click here to order Mo's first book, "Wreck My Life."
Follow Mo on Social Media (for words of wisdom and lots of laughter): @MoIsom
Click here to check out her website.
Affiliate links are present on this post. Meaning if you purchase, I also get a little something.
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