In the darkness of the road…

This time of year seems to make everyone reflective and nostalgic.  With Thanksgiving, everyone wants to list things they are thankful for. Christmas is always seemingly about family. And New Years is about new chapters in our lives. I find myself here tonight, on Black Friday, reflecting on a whole lot more than the turkey I ate or the family I spent time with. I didn’t go shopping- never have on Black Friday. Instead, holidays for me sort of create a different internal response. I don’t typically share this with most people, but I want to be vulnerable with you tonight.  For me, as much as I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, I find them to be increasingly harder with each year passing.

I struggle with my desires and wants and yet try to be content with what have. I am nearing 30 years old at this point and spending holidays with family and friends also just reminds me of the family I don’t have. There are usually people at some point who I don’t know at holiday events who will ask the inevitable question of who my husband is or what he does.  In finding out about my single-hood, people are quick to either remind me of the “you’ll meet him at the right time” encouragement or they’ll try to do a setup.  Neither of which are helpful or wanted.  I don’t get to share the holiday moments with a husband or kids. I don’t get to make memories and create traditions.  I love my family, don’t get me wrong, but I want more. I always have. I want to be married and have the inconvenience of choosing who to spend holidays with. I want the hassle of preparing my own house for the holidays. Holidays for me at some point remind me of my lack.

And yet, it doesn’t quite end there. While everyone talks of careers and time off, retirement and tenured, I struggle with debt that is suffocating and sucking the life out of me. I get frustrated with the holidays, especially Christmas, because in my heart I want to bless others and make people feel special, buy them what they need or want, yet wrestle with what I can actually do.  Between parties, gift exchanges, Christmas presents, meals to prepare, and even traveling, I fight with myself with what I can or should do, and yet wish I could do more. And of course, along with the question regarding my relationship status, I am also asked what I do for a living.  Well, I pretty much work my butt off for just above minimum wage so I can pay off debt that I got for two degrees yet am not getting hired by anyone to actually use. Its a frustrating, sometimes infuriating, place to be in when I don’t have an answer to that question. What I do have is the knowledge that I’ve been rejected by hundreds of jobs while working multiple/overlapping part-time jobs, not using my degrees, and yet still struggling to make ends meet. Struggling with needing and desperately wanting a job that is utterly fulfilling doing what I was born to do.

What I realized, and have been processing, over the past 24 hours, is that life is just really really hard sometimes and there isn’t always a solution or formula.  Sometimes, we just get knocked down over and again. For the past year especially I have felt like I can’t catch my breath. I looked up previous posts and saw that I wrote 3 other posts regarding car and financial issues in the past year, with this being part of the 4th. (Previous posts: Shattered Lights and Black Ice, Cracked Windshield, The Life I want)  You see, last night while driving home from dinner at my sister’s, my car decided to die rather rapidly in the middle of the unlit road as I was going 45mph. As my car died in the “suicide” lane, I sat in my car fighting tears and the desire to just yell as loud as possible. I sat, with my hazard lights flashing, in the darkness of the road just angry and lost. The moments before my car died, I was praying for breakthrough in areas of my life…those frustrations written just earlier in this post. I was praying specifically for God to grant favor financially for me. I feel like I’m busting my butt but not getting anywhere. I also was praying to God and telling him (rather honestly) how I am sick of being single (let’s be clear: I’m not desperate, I desire marriage- there is a BIG difference). I was telling God how lonely the holidays can be and how it’d be nice for that area of my life to change. I know that may sound stupid, but sometimes, we need to be honest with ourselves and with God about our wants and our needs.

Last night, I had wants, but definitely had needs.

I sat in my car stuck…and angry. I was angry even though my sister, brother-in-law, neighbor’s father, and my dad, showed up and towed my dead Jeep out of the darkness of the middle of the road. I sat angry at yet another financial thing that I knew I couldn’t pay. I sat angry that I just can’t seem to win. For a moment, I almost wished someone hit my car enough just so insurance could take of it. You see…desperation can make us crazy, but that desperation should still be towards Jesus. In all of my anger and frustration, my tears and my yelling (yes I was yelling at God rather angrily last night too), God was not offended nor was he absent. He created us with emotions- to feel things. But regardless of what we face in life, we need to turn to Jesus. He is not offended by our anger or our sadness, our bitterness or burdens, our brokenness or our weakness. He loves us tremendously and wants us to come to him as we are.

When I got home and into the silence of my bedroom, I broke down. Weeping. Angry. Upset. Broken. Frustrated. Lost. Everything all in one. I was mad at God for everything- my job situation, my finances, my job rejections, my singleness, and more.  I went into work this morning still frustrated and mad. Still broken and lost. But as I continued to silently pray, my attitude started to slowly shift.  My situation hasn’t really changed too much from last night. Yes, I got my car fixed and the finances of it were worked out. But I still have the same other things- the things I was praying about in the moments before my car died. And yet…I still serve the same God who has provided for me before, who has kept me from things not out of anger or overprotection, but because he understands the things I cannot see. I still serve the same God who has proven his love over and over again. I may be struggling and dealing with my own needs and wants, but my God is with me. I am human and these emotions and wants and needs won’t just disappear. But God is unwaveringly faithful. For that, I can and will thankful.  I serve a God who wants me to bring him my desires and wants, and trust him with them, even if my timing or outcome isn’t as I see fit. If I believe he is who he says he is, than my weariness can be lifted and my head held high on that simple fact.

Spiritually anorexic.

**disclaimer- I understand anorexia is a condition/disease and struggle for many people. This post is not to belittle it or take it lightly. It is a simple comparison of the result of starved faith. Please read with the understanding that my comparison is not an exact one**

A while back, my young adult group- a 20 somethings community that I was involved- was looking into personal disciplines for our relationships with the LORD.

And I realized how I kind of get angry about this subject.

For weeks we discussed in detail the specific disciplines of prayer,  study [the Bible, Christian books, etc.], meditation [not the kind done in yoga, et cetera but the idea of clearing the mind and infilling it with more of God while removing distractions], and fasting. Some of this disciplines I do regularly, the others I still do but can definitely improve on being more disciplined. The idea of going in depth into discussing these disciplines is to see how we can each grow in our relationship with God, and how in growing that relationship, it will inevitably affect the community around. Hence, inward to communal disciplines.

It has been great talking over these subjects, hearing from older pastors, people sharing their knowledge on specific disciplines…

…but tonight I got heated. I got mad actually. Not mad at anyone in particular but at the collective Church. I’m deeply sad for the Church. We waste so much time in programs and curriculums and trips, which yes are all great things, however they are not things that will likely bring the most personal change to each individual. Again, those things are good in context, but for the sake of what I am writing about tonight, some things get in the way. I got mad because I unsurprisingly hear so many pastors and church-goers complain about how they get nothing out of church, they are bored, they are struggling spiritually and don’t know why, or [fill in the blank of excuses].

Going over each of these disciplines taught me something pretty big yet so simple. Look at this way…

Let’s say you want to get in shape. At the new year, so many people set goals and “resolutions”, many often being about behavioral changes and weight loss. Great idea… but you’ll probably fail at it and this is why. You have a great idea but no game plan. The idea is great but you are lazy and say “I can do it later”. If you haven’t already started your New Years Resolution to lose weight… you probably won’t. And you won’t next year either. I don’t mean this to be harsh, but to make a point. If you want to lose, let’s say 40 pounds, a good first step is to 1) buy fitness programs or machines for home or 2) get a gym membership and 3) get accountability. Secondly, it might be good to buy gym clothes, sneakers, water bottles, weight gloves, etc. Spending money on gym equipment and accessories will be more of an incentive for you to actually do something about the problem you have or the goal you have desired. Heck, you can do all of that, but if you still only show up to the gym, and do nothing, you won’t get healthier. Period. It just won’t happen. Going to the gym won’t get you fit. You actually have to workout.

Your spiritual life is just like that. You can say you want to be a better Christian and, with all great intentions, still be a very lousy one. Until you actually create a lifestyle of discipline, you will not- I repeat- will not be a better Christ follower. Jesus Christ was incredibly disciplined. Whether you believe in him or not, it is undeniable that the story of Jesus is one dripping with love, discipline, and matching of lifestyle and beliefs. As a Christ follower, wanting to love him is not enough. Actions are proof of your love. Wanting to have a heart like Christ is not enough. You won’t suddenly love people one day. It just won’t happen. You won’t suddenly be knowledgable of the Bible. You won’t, unless by pure miracle sake, be free of an addiction like drugs or pornography. Your marriage will continue you to fail, your relationships will continue to crumble, your self-gratifying behaviors will still only satisfy temporarily. You’ll be nowhere.

Discipline, I believe, is one of the very things lacking in our churches today. We are an anorexic church because we are anorexic , starved believers that want to change but refuse to put in the work. We are believers that wonder why we are just as broken as people outside of Christ and the Church, because we only got saved and then did nothing else.  We are so spiritually starved because, rather than praying for change and believe He is able, we just settle and compromise and give up. We are spiritually slowly dying if we refuse to invite God to be a part of our marriages, our families, our churches, communities through prayer and study of His word. We want to be the kind of Christian that is a Billy Graham or some other big shot of the Christian faith, yet we wonder why we can’t get over our personal sin and struggles.

Discipline is the answer. Discipline is what makes you stronger. It is what gives you power, strength, diligence, resilience, perseverance, humility and courage to be the kind of Christ follower that actually looks like Christ. That means investing time without distraction in reading the Bible, in studying it-through commentaries, books, and other tools, in turning OFF the phones, computers, tablets, and just being in the silence of the heart and mind and talking and listening to God. It means investing in sacrifices like fasting…that may mean for you to fast food entirely, partially, or some other variation, or in the more common broader term, sacrificing something else [a desire, need or want] for the sake of pursuing God more [i.e. not going on Facebook or social media for extended amount of time]. We need to stop starving ourselves of the presence and Word of God and start hungering after Him. 

Why is that we can be so willing to watch Netflix for hours (guilty) yet we can’t study the Bible the same? Why is that we quickly remember lyrics and movie quotes without a second thought yet when it comes to recalling the Bible and what God’s Word truly says, we draw a blank? I see a big disconnect with us- the collective Church- and our pursuit of God. We are missing something and I believe it is discipline. If you want to grow in the LORD more you need to make the change. Stop being a lazy, compromising, or stubborn Christian and pursue God. Yes it takes work. Yes it is about discipling yourself, but just like working out and exercising to be healthy, the results are worth the effort. And you only get out of it what you put in. Instead of being spiritually anorexic, why not be spiritual fit and healthy? No more excuses. No more pity party. No more waiting. No more reasons why not. You can make the change starting now. This world has far too many hypocrites, Pharisees, and undisciplined, apathetic, lazy Christians. Be someone who wants to be an imitator of Paul, who imitated Jesus. Be someone who desires to bring the Gospel- the Great Commission- to the world, even if it that means for you just going across the street. Be someone who, in light of what is going on in this world, can reveal the redemptive love of Jesus Christ because He is who brings the transformation. Our job is to pursue Him and be holy as He is holy.

The slow change. 

This is very serious. And funny. And ridiculous. But hear me out…

Anyone who knows me well enough knows how I’ve talked trash about Country music. About the twangy annoyance that is the core of Country. The “something happened to my truck, my dog or my woman so-let-me-get-drunk-and-sing-about-it” music…ugh I hate it. But since I moved to Tennessee 3 months ago, and honestly even before I got here, I started listening to artists like Ben Rector, Andy Grammar and Taylor Swift. Mumford & Sons and Rascal Flats. And now Sam Hunt. Randomly on the radio here I’ll hear a song that catches my attention. And of course, its a Country song.  Slowly, but surely, my thoughts toward (some) country and folky styled music has changed. I don’t hate it all. I enjoy some of it…the poppy, the fun, the easy-to-dance to Country music, a lot of which is barely or not at all considered Country. I like line dancing. Actually, I love it. Always have. I’m the goofy person at weddings dancing to every line dance, country or not, heels or not.

What I realized today is that my enjoyment of some Country music didn’t come over night. It came as I embraced certain artists. It came as I have lived in the South longer (and actually again) and the fact that its a part of the culture here.  I live an hour away from the country capital of the world. What’d you expect? I have some friends who love it, therefore, I’ve had no choice but to listen to it when I’m with them. I’ve danced to Country. I’ve had those Sweet Home Alabama, Hope Floats, marry me charming- southern-country-cowboy ideas. When I was living New Jersey, I actually had a few friends tell me that they think I belong in the South because I look like a country girl (that’s still to be debated). Slowly, but very very surely, Country music  is growing on me.

What I actually realized is that this is exactly how we are with sin. It’s never overnight. Regardless of the type of sin, sin is a creeping, deceiving, and dangerous thing to have.  We compromise. The compromise may not happen fast. It may be years of slowly deciding something: to take glances at pornographic websites which eventually lead to an addiction; to flirt with that woman who is not your wife which leads to an affair; to cut corners at work which lead to fraud; the list could go seriously on. We surround ourselves with people who pull us down. We settle. And sure enough, one day, we find ourselves addicted porn, cheating on a spouse, lying on the job, committing a crime, etc. The people we put in our lives are so crucial. Our friends, our inner circles, our closest, most intimate people in our lives ultimately determine the direction. It may seem like nothing, but think about it for a minute. When you are deciding on asking a person out, who do you usually talk to first? When you are thinking about a new job, who do you ask for advice from? When things are rough, whose shoulder do you cry on?  When life happens, we usually have people alongside us. The problem that some of us find ourselves in, is that when life happens, we don’t have an actual solid support system. We have people who tell us mediocre or, dare I say, stupid advice. We trust the wisdom of other people who have no idea what they are doing, people who make poor decisions, etc. For me, I don’t get dating or guy advice from friends that have a track record of dating a guy for a short time then having things end. I don’t go to those friends, not because they aren’t friends, but because their advice won’t help, unless I want to learn the “what not to do”. What many of us do is surround ourselves with people that aren’t a support at all. I’m not saying everyone has to have all of life’s answers. What I am saying is that, the company we keep influence our direction for life. Scripture says a few times that “bad company corrupts good character”.  If you’re in AA and abstaining from alcohol, the wisest advice I can give you is to not be around alcohol or those that drink. How can the alcoholic get sober hanging around drinkers? How can student do well on all their exams when they only spend their time goofing off with their friends never studying, only to find out they failed? How can a Christian grow in their faith in a world where our faith is challenged, when that Christian doesn’t have a community of believers in their life or a sustainable prayer and devotional life?

Friends, look at those people in your life and the choices you make. Are you in good company? Are you a better person because of those friends? Or possibly, do some changes need to happen because of those relationships and negative changes?

Christian friends…I don’t go to friends, Christian or otherwise, about wisdom on scripture, life or current events from people who aren’t in the Word figuring out and discerning God’s will for our lives. Christians, when I struggle with areas of my life and sin, I can’t be surprised when I am in it deep, if I never had safeguards to protect me from getting there. It is the slow compromise of faith, of behaviors, of actions publicly and privately, of choosing something other God as a priority. It is the allowance of negative influencers in our lives. Christians, I challenge you, give people great access to your life- your dreams, your passions, what excites you, and what breaks you. But use wisdom with those people. Use wisdom in how you respond to things going on around you. Be in the Word, and don’t just read it. Let things in life change you and challenge you, but make sure they are things that are Godly, good and matter.

Happily never after. The idol of a spouse.

About a month ago, I shared my heart a little bit with you all in my post Honest Words From A Single. In that post, I wanted to both encourage singles and the Church. Single-hood is valid. It is part of what helped launch the Early Church. But at the same time, marriage- Gospel centered marriage, is just as valid. When we begin to think one is greater than the other, we miss out on a large group of people that God has invited to be a part of his story. So today, I wanted to write another post, focused on spouses, whether you’re a single person in search of a spouse, or someone married who already has a spouse, this blog is for you.

For so many of us single people, we long for spouses. I can’t honestly speak for everyone, however, I know how I feel. I know that for as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be married. Maybe that came from the Disney fairytales…you know the ones about the princess or damsel in distress who captivates the heart of some prince charming. We have Ariel who charms the human and gives up life in the sea to be happily ever after. We have Belle who falls in love with a mysterious man… more like a case of Stockholm syndrome. We have Snow White, Mulan, Rapunzel. Aurora, and so many other Disney fairytales that share with young kids- primarily young girls- about falling in love (usually at first site and at creepy young ages) with some “prince” who will fulfill them, meet all their needs, rescue them, or give them a castle. I mean, on one side of it, who doesn’t want to be treated like royalty, live in a castle, and have a handsome man/beautiful maiden by their side? However, what these stories do, though cute and enjoyable, is show such an unrealistic expectation of a spouse: that a spouse can fulfill and complete you.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney and love the classics. But I want a real love story, not a fairytale. I don’t want a story that has me falling in love at 15 (I’m well past that!) and being taken away to a castle by some man I hardly know. I don’t want a story that has me relying on my worth and value and beauty through the opinion of someone else. I want a real love. A true love. A love that is for life.

It is a such a myth…or dare I say lie…that we will be fulfilled, completed and made whole by getting married. Marriage is not about being made whole at all. Single person reading this: if you’re searching for love- for a spouse- because you think your life will be made perfect, think again. If you think that person will complete you because it is “so right” or “perfect”, you might want to think about being single a little while longer. Without a doubt, if you go and ask married people if their spouse is still completing them after 15 years of marriage, 30 years of marriage, or to their deathbed, they would tell you that marriage is more than being with the right person, more than being completed and more than a fairytale. Marriage is hard. Those vows actually mean something. When a spouse gets diagnosed with cancer, its hard on both of them. When a spouse cheats, its hard on both of them. When a spouse has an addiction, becomes distant, or wants something new….I guarantee you that marriage is not about completing anyone at all.

Fairytales don’t exist. Covenant marriages do.

As Christians, when we live our lives to honor God, he becomes our priority. He becomes the thing that we should love most. He should be your priority and your number one. If he isn’t, something needs to change. In my years of being single, I have learned that when I place the idea of a husband on a pedestal- like a Prince Charming- that idea, that man, becomes an idol and starts to replace God. Instead of letting the Creator, my God, fulfill my life and heal my brokenness, instead of letting the redemption that I received through Christ be my priority in everything, I allow for a man, a person, another failed individual, to take the lead. And that, dear friends, is a dangerous place to find yourself. If you are single, be in a place where God fulfills you, where he heals your wounds, strengthens you in your weaknesses, and gives you passion. I am not saying don’t desire marriage or a spouse. I am just asking that you keep things in the right place of priority. God first, always. Anything that comes before God is an idol, and that definitely can include a spouse.

Married friends (and friends who want to be married), whether you’ve been married for a day or 60 years, keep God at the center. Keep Jesus as the thing your life fuels on. You will always blame your spouse for everything, whether right or wrong, when your life is solely centered on them instead of God. You’ll praise them for the good, and hate them for the bad. But when Christ becomes your center- your focus- where you both find fulfillment in and completion, then and only then, will your marriage be one that reflects a Gospel-Centered love. It is when you have this kind of completion and living out the Gospel in your marriage, that the world will want to see because it’ll be rare. Its hard, don’t get me wrong, but it is completely possible when Christ is the lead and center focus of your story.

Don’t desire the fairytale, for it will only be a tale and not a truth. Desire a love that is so deep and so pure, that in spite of the failings and mistakes and heartaches that will come in a marriage, you can overcome. Desire a love that is made whole and redeemed through Jesus instead of each other. Desire a marriage that reflects the heart of the Creator, instead of Man. Find your wholeness, fulfillment, completion in a God who loves you more than your spouse ever possibly could. Isn’t that a story worth telling, far more than some child’s fairytale?

 

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“So as we stand here today and as God joins you together in marriage, there is something bigger going on. Its not just a special night but its a sacred night. And its a sacred night because its not just any ceremony- your heart, my heart, our hearts collectively is that the Lord Jesus Christ would be honored. And I can promise you this: that the world will marvel at what it looks like when two people live out a Gospel centered marriage. Its one of sacrifice, its one of love, its one of honor, its one of respect and its one that the world longs to know more about.”
[taken from a wedding video sermon I saw a few years ago]

Honest words from a Single…

I’m 27 and somewhere along the way, dating sort of missed me, or at least serious dating. I am not one of those twenty-somethings that enjoyed dating throughout college and early career. No bars. No clubs. No coffee shop dates. No wedding dates. A few pursuits, but that’s all.

And you know what…that’s perfectly okay.

But somewhere along the way, as a single, I have still somehow become that person people come to for advice and counseling regarding relationships, dating, and marriage.

What I have found in my many years of being single, is that, my singleness is not only valid, but I have some things to share with those of you who will listen. I hope you’re okay with my honesty and openness to things I will share in this post. I think we could all use some honesty and vulnerability and willingness to listen…and I’m preaching to the choir here. All I ask, is that you hear me out, and some of the things I have learned along the way in my near lifetime of singleness. Prepare yourself, because this blog is a bit lengthy.

I went to a Christian college. Everyone wanted to date and get married before graduating. And believe me, plenty of my peers did just that- date, get engaged, and married all within the 4 years of college. I learned quickly that so many (not all) of these couples were rushing the process because they had waited (sexually) until marriage, and now that they had found the one whom their heart loved, they would just get married. What we really had, in many of those cases, 20 year olds that couldn’t control their hormones anymore with the person they loved, yet at the same time, was terrified of having sex before marriage and being tainted goods. In other cases, there were friends that dated and didn’t rush. They took their time and they got to know the person. Some of those people got married before graduation and some did not quite get their “Mrs. Degree” (only you Christian college kids might get that reference). And still others, got married after graduation to someone they met along the journey of their life.  None of these paths were wrong. But none of these paths have been mine.

I dated one guy very briefly right before graduation of high school. That relationship didn’t last long…But what do you expect of silly high school relationships? In my early years of college, like really all college students, I had my crushes. Of course I had my hopes of falling in love and starting my married life by my early 20s. Also…not my story. I wasn’t even asked out in my entire 5 years of college and graduate studies. There was a chapter in the middle of my college years where I dated a childhood friend. It didn’t work out and that’s okay…he’s happily married now. That was six years ago, and I have remained single since.

I have a point in all of this commentary of my history. 

I have not been without near failures, indiscretions, and mistakes. Most people who know me, know there is a shadow of darkness upon my story. I was a porn addict for my years of high school.  I am human and have those natural desires like anyone else. Let’s be adult and not need an explanation. But the beauty of grace is that He redeemed me from that addiction my first year of college, and now, I get to counsel people with addiction, tell porn stars and strippers they matter, and show people that regardless of their story, Jesus can redeem them.  Somewhere in the midst of my desires for marriage, minimal dating life, my earlier years of addiction, and many years of singleness….I have found some wisdom to which I’d like to share with you.

As I said, I am 27 years old and haven’t been on a date in over 6 years. I am actually one of those unicorns- you know…the ones who are waiting for marriage to have sex. As I have gotten older, my desire for marriage and intimacy has only grown stronger. And my struggle to remain pure has only gotten harder. Please listen to me when I say this: I understand a sense of waiting and patience that few really can understand. Myself, and those who are likewise waiting, can offer something tremendous to the Church and Body. We can show what waiting through desires, controlling our flesh, and loving Jesus more than an idol of a longing for a spouse can really look like. We can show you what it looks like to serve the Church and Jesus Christ utmost the way Paul encouraged, without distraction of a spouse or children. We can show what it looks like to serve those who are broken when we might also be broken.

I have invested so much time into the Gospel and serving others, like so many others, but I do it without the pleasure of having my spouse on the journey with me. For 4 years I was a youth pastor and, honestly, those were some of my loneliest years of my life. There’s something so lonely (sometimes) about doing ministry without getting to share joy, heartache, loss, excitement, passion, and vision with a spouse. I don’t get the privilege of going home after church or work and sharing my day with someone. I don’t get to plan a wedding (yet!). I don’t get to prepare for pregnancy. I don’t get to plan my kids’ birthday parties. I don’t get a lot of things that my married friends have been able to experience. What I do get, is an opportunity to find my strength in Jesus through my absolute greatest longing. To turn my longing toward Him instead of him. I don’t know if or when God will allow for me to be married. I do believe that God has a man out there in the world for me. I have believed that since as far as I can remember. But I also believe that God has me waiting, for whatever reason, for His timing.

So here’s my wisdom and words to you, whoever you are:

  • waiting is painful
  • serving Jesus has been the greatest joy in my entire life
  • Churches and pastors need to stop being so scared of talking about sex
  • God created sex and marriage and said it was good!
  • its okay to long to be married
  • its okay to be sad about being single
  • its okay to want certain things in life…but it can’t become an idol
  • even a desire for a spouse can become an idol
  • the more you give your heart away, the more broken or fragile it will be
  • for those of you in ministry…I get you and I’m here if you need a support system
  • whether you’re married or single, don’t forget to have adventures
  • porn is never good for you
  • honor your spouse now while you’re single
  • honor other people as they are not your spouse
  • avoid compromising situations
  • it is possible to wait for sex
  • it is worth it to wait for sex
  • if you’re single, work on your struggles and weaknesses now
  • let your patience in the waiting become a virtue, not a burden
  • let your self-control be an encouragement to others
  • being single doesn’t mean you’re broken
  • being single isn’t bad
  • if you’re married, invest in the singles around you and in your churches
  • if you’re single, find friends and invest in them
  • if you’re single, find married couples you can learn from
  • if you’re married, love your spouse in spite of their failings
  • if you’re single, love your spouse now- it doesn’t start at the altar
  • mistakes happen
  • redemption is possible
  • your story isn’t over until your last breath- don’t give up
  • love Jesus more than you could ever love your spouse, your kids, or anything else

I am sure there are plenty of other things I could share with you. I am sure I missed a few thoughts tonight. But I hope you understand that for people like me, the single (who doesn’t always feel so young anymore), that single-hood is both awesome and annoying, painful and beautiful.  A lot of the Early Church was advanced by single people dedicated to telling the world about Jesus Christ. A lot of people in the Early Church were married. The point: we all have a part in the bigger story that God has for us if we are willing to be obedient in the journey. Whatever your story- single or married- God loves you and He is not done with you yet.

Vengeance is not mine.

My heart is saddened again tonight as I hear more of the brokenness and loss that happens in our world. Even more, I am angry. I do not even think angry is a sufficient word for how I am feeling. I could think of a hundred words to describe my feelings tonight and I still believe it would be lacking. I am angry because of entitlement. I am angry because of hate. I am infuriated by the self-righteous, bigoted, racist, hateful things I am witnessing in the news. Let’s get one thing clear right here, right now. I am white. I am blonde. I am female. I am a Christian. I am straight. Your skin color, hair color, gender, orientation, religion or anything else will not change my opinion of you. Your behavior and attitude will change my opinion of you. The opinions I form about others are based on character, integrity, and heart of the individual. Just because I disagree with you does not mean I hate you.

That being said, tonight, I am angry. I saw on the news about a shooting that took place in NYC in retaliation of those who bear the color blue- specifically the NYPD. Regardless of your opinion on what has taken place regarding the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, the death of Eric Garner in NYC, or anything else in relationship to these, I still maintain that the solution starts with me and you. I wrote just a few weeks ago on this subject and that still will be the bulk of my opinion. Read it here. In the meantime, I beg of you, for the love of God, to stop.

Stop the quick judgments.
Stop the hate.
Stop the racism.
Stop the unforgiveness.
Stop the vengeful attitude.

These things will not get you anywhere. The shooting of the NYC police is outright ridiculous. That is not justice. That is furthered hate. The looting in Ferguson and violent protesting are furthered hate. Not justice. Not peace. More hate. Revenge is something that will destroy. It does not bring wholeness. It is poison that will inevitably bring destruction. When injustice happens, we cannot take let an attitude of revenge be our fuel. Vengeance is not mine to bring. It is not yours. When we retaliate, we irrationally respond, when we violently act on our emotions, when we let the cancer of unforgiveness continue, we will bring our own destruction. Even more, we will further the problem.

If you really care about this race war, stop being a racist. Stop referring to people by ill-conceived judgments, the color of their skin or the history of their people. Don’t refer to Germans as Nazis. Don’t refer to Russians as Commies. Don’t refer to Middle Easterners [of any nation] as terrorists or Al Qaeda. If you really care about bringing unity to Mankind- to all people- than treat every person…as a person. Everyone matters. Again…black lives matter. So do white lives. So does every race in the world, regardless of skin color, religion, nationality, or lifestyle. People always matter.

If you really care about peace, then try to bring peace…in your home, in your job, in your family, in your marriage. Bring peace on earth by how you act in your everyday life. In your speech, let it reflect a heart of someone who wants to bring peace, not destruction.

“Sick to my stomach about the killing of these NYPD officers. More people dead, more families hurting, more division. A foolish act of vengeance is not Justice. This doesn’t help the cause of equality or unity. It drives a wedge of hatred deeper. All these deaths show very clearly we have work to do.” (Lecrae)
…We have all been hurt by someone. We have been betrayed. Beaten. Some killed. Some tortured. Some raped. Some molested. People are bullied and people are bullies. Murderers. Bad things happen and often there is someone to blame. But friend, it is not your job to bring your own form of justice on those who have harmed you. I urge you, from the depth of my being, to realize that justice is more than a quick or emotional response. It has to be more. It just has to be more. We have so much to work on…there just has to be more than vengeance. If we foolishly take vengeance and “justice” in our own hands…we only perpetuate the same crap we are trying to stop.

I posted something [read here] about a POW who survived a WWII Japanese imprisonment only to return to Japan 4 years after he was rescued all to show that restoration, forgiveness, and redemption are possible. If he, a man who endured more pain and suffering than I can imagine, can forgive those who hurt him the greatness and strive to bring restoration, why cannot we at least try? Why not try to love…I mean really really love your enemy? Why not try to forgive instead of plan your revenge? Justice will be served to each of us, I believe in eternity. There will be justice for you, for me, for them. Can’t we at least try to do something greater than our own sense of justice? Vengeance was never for us to bring. Vengeance is not justice. It only equates to more evil, more pain, more hate, and far less actual justice and peace.

This…this is how we should live.

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I AM the LORD.” Lev. 19:18


“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink…'” (Romans 12:17-20a)