Two Great Articles to Read

Here’s an article that proposes five possible reasons for why you might still be single. It’s non-threatening even though it’s challenging stuff.

Here’s another article entitled “Dump Your Dream Girl” about letting go of your unattainable expectations for your future spouse.  Extremely well-written, thought-provoking, and also non-threatening.

There’s a lot of garbage out there that points fingers at you for being the reason you’re still single but I like the way these two authors dealt with heavy subjects with such grace.

 

Singleness is NOT a Punishment!

From time to time you may hear an oft repeated adage that “You need to let God fulfill the desires of your heart before He will bring someone into your life to love.” I wanted to encourage you lest you begin to believe that somehow you must not be loving God enough: being content in your circumstances and placing God first in your life doesn’t necessarily imply that God will bring you your future spouse; it’s not an equation. One does not inevitably follow the other in sequence. So please don’t worry that because you’re single that you must be doing something wrong. Believing this misinformation will only bring shame and feelings of inadequacy.

Well-meaning friends and family have all kinds of explanations and advice for why we are still single. I can hear the echoes in my head now: “Perhaps God is teaching you to rest in His promises and fully rely on His provision” or “Perhaps He is teaching you to completely surrender.” Perhaps those things are true but God isn’t punishing you by withholding a good thing because you aren’t yet “good enough” for the blessing.

Regardless of the reason I find myself alone, I know one thing is true: God is drawing me closer to Him and realigning my thinking about Him. One of things I’ve been learning is that I have been trying so hard to please Him when He is already well-pleased with me. Yes! If you have the blood of the Lamb covering your sins, God only sees absolute perfection when He gazes upon you, His beloved. In Hosea 2:19 He says to us, “I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.” Like the twitterpated, smitten Prince in a fairy tale sweeps in to win the heart of his beloved, we too are pursued by our Lord who desires us and cherishes us deeply.

A friend told me recently, “Stop trying to make God proud.” At first that didn’t make much sense to me but I have since come to understand what he meant. Since childhood, I’ve endeavored to make my life a fragrant aroma to my King. We are called to be a living sacrifice to God so biblically this isn’t a wrong mindset but how often are we striving to serve God with the things that we DO? Proverbs 19:21 reminds us that “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Instead of running to and fro doing this and that for the kingdom, what if we stopped and simply just enjoyed being WITH God in quiet stillness? Remember the story of Mary and Martha? Martha was busy scrambling around the house getting food prepared to serve Jesus while Mary was sprawled out comfortably at His feet soaking up His company.

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There’s nothing wrong with doing good things for God, as long as whatever you do, you do with all your heart as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). John 15:4 reminds us that we can’t bear fruit unless we are connected to the vine. All of our righteous deeds are useless unless they are done with the correct heart attitude. When we are abiding in Jesus Christ, all the hope, peace, joy, love, and guidance we need flows directly from Him.

So thank you, sweet reader, for joining me on this journey I find myself in. I know it can sometimes feel like it but singleness is not a punishment. In fact, I find it can be a blessing in many ways. The biggest blessing so far is more time to spend with God and serving others.

The Devil is a LIAR!

April 3rd marked four years of being single. I have been officially single as long as I’ve been married. To commemorate this occasion I had to write another blog entry.

So many of my posts lately have the theme of “love yourself,” like this one here for instance.

There is something I realized about self-esteem: it’s a positive thing in theory to have confidence in your own worth but the devil loves to distort good things because he’s in the business of deception.

I apologize for being part of the problem when our culture lies to us and tells us we need to “love ourselves.”

Don’t get me wrong, we do have inherent value but it’s not because we’ve bestowed it upon ourselves. It’s not even because we’ve reminded ourselves of our intrinsic worth in God’s eyes.

If we go purely based on what God says in His Word, we are extremely precious (Matthew 6:25-34, Luke 12:6-7) because we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-16)  in His image (Genesis 1:27) for a beautiful purpose (Ephesians 2:10, Jeremiah 29:11) and dearly loved by Him (Romans 5:8, Romans 8:32, John 3:16).

We can stand in the mirror all day and recite self affirmations, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” Doing this every day when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed might even give you a strong sense of being loved, but this is not the way to truly experience the fullness of God’s love.

Yes, I do love myself, maybe even so much that one might say it borders on pride. (The negative kind.) My pride was brought down a peg or two when my good friend Jamie helped me to realize that I had been listening to the devil’s lies again. See, the devil likes to attack us where we are strong. I happen to have a lot of self confidence so the devil decided to twist this and use it against me.

After a series of dates with men who are not my spiritual equal I was beginning to feel a little puffed up. (I guess I felt like it was better than feeling chronically frustrated and disappointed.) I mean, it’s hard not have your ego stroked when a guy tells you, “You are an amazing person… I consider myself Christian and live Christian values but obviously I’m not at the same level you are with your devotion.” This has happened to me countless times that it’s starting to become a theme. I’m truly grateful that they notice this and tell me right away because I’m not really good with that whole thing… it sounds pretty judgemental to say “we’re not on the same level” doesn’t it?

One day I woke up and just started feeling sorry for myself. I heard the devil say, “You’re so unique, you’re not ever going to find anyone who is compatible with you. You’re a freak anomaly… even if you did find someone as weird and quirky as you, what are the chances you’d be like-minded? I sat on the pity pot all day and thought about why I’m alone and why I’ll probably always be alone.

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Then my best friend posted this on her Facebook wall and it gave me a swift kick in the pants. I realized my “woe is me” attitude problem was a serious pride problem, too.

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The Bible says no one really hates their own body but nourishes and cherishes it (Ephesians 5:29). We are deeply sensitive to our own needs and feelings and constantly aware of how other people affect us. The reason we are so easily hurt is because we want to be accepted and treated with respect and admiration. If we didn’t care about ourselves then we wouldn’t care if people rejected, neglected, and abused us. No, we do not need to love ourselves… that is an innate, natural thing to do. What we really need to do is DENY OURSELVES. 

Jesus said that “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). He also said if you are unwilling to do this then you are not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:28).

Our problem is not that we have poor self-image… it’s that we have a poor image of who God is. Our need is not to love ourselves more but to accept His incredible love for us. We need to give up any idea of what we think we’re here on Earth to do and submit to His plan for our lives. When we abide in His love then we stop focusing on ourselves and instead we begin to shower His love on others instinctively.

I believe it is our pride and selfishness that keeps us from having an intimate relationship with God. Jesus said these chilling words in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.'” 

I say these things because I feel compelled to. I know I won’t be Miss Popular for saying this but the Christian life is not easy. Many people choose the highway to Hell but the gateway to life is very narrow and only a few ever find it (Matthew 7:14).

“As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.” (Galatians 6:14)

My prayer for you all who have stuck it out and are still reading this blog entry (thank you, btw) is that you would know how truly, madly, deeply loved you are. Only with the correct view of God’s love will you ever begin to even scratch the surface in understanding how precious you are. I pray you will know that you are worthy of great love and that you wouldn’t be afraid to open your heart to receive it. No one is really afraid of love… people are afraid of rejection, betrayal, and abandonment. But in Christ there is only complete acceptance and faithfulness. I pray you would have confidence in God’s love. He will never let you down and He will never leave you. There is no want to those who trust Him and those who seek Him will lack no good thing. Taste and see that the LORD is good! (Psalm 34:8-10) Not only is He good, but He is ready to forgive and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Him. (Psalm 86:5)

“But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know Me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 9:24)

What’s in a Name?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…

but that which is embryonic and mercurial and yet undefined is intangible. Still sweet, but abstruse and therefore unnerving.

We need labels. They give us a sense of security. We cannot live comfortably in the realm of unknowing.

A name imbues meaning and significance. With words God breathed life and filled the emptiness of space with light, land, and sky.  Ann Voskamp reminds us that the first man’s first task was to identify the animals, “releasing the land from chaos, from the teeming, indefinable mass. Naming offers the gift of recognition. “

A definition imparts substance to that which has no essence. A name would manifest purpose, coalescing a real relationship into existance. Until then, it’s still a relationship, though I’m not sure what to call it.

Three gentlemen asked me just this week, “I’d like to take you out on a date. Are you seeing anyone?” My response: “Not really, kind of, sort of-ish, it’s hard to explain you see.”

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‘Tis better to err on the side of caution and be patient. Just respond and let him lead. This is what I must keep telling myself.  I long to feel something real but just as the nature of what we are is impalpable because it’s “too early to tell,” anything conceived predevelopment would be counterfeit.

Time will tell. Until then, I will enjoy that which is undefined.

Over Overthinking

If you’re anything like me, you tend to overanalyze every little detail, emotion, and possible connection.

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It’s exhausting and unnecessary, but it’s also a sin. Yup. Overthinking is just the polite, grown-up way of saying “worrying.”

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

Worrying keeps up from experiencing the full life of joy God has planned for us because we’re too busy overanalyzing all the minutiae.  Worrying just keeps us busy doing a lot of nothing. This distraction is a tool of the enemy to keep us from our God-given purpose.

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There’s nothing wrong with questioning the status quo but we need to remind ourselves of the truth, which will set us free.  If you feel anxious or upset due to racing thoughts, you know they are not from the Lord beause He is a God of peace.  There is no fear in love.

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Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)

You gave me feelings I never knew
And I don’t know why
What should I do?
What should I say?
Why’s this bothering me?

Mixed Signals 

He likes me. I think. I’m almost certain. There were all these SIGNS. 
Do you find yourself questioning your sanity as you play Sherlock Holmes piecing together all the clues that point to the ultimate conclusion that he does, in fact, like you? Yup. We’ve all done it. We want it SO BAD that our feelings blind us to the truth that he is just not that interested romantically.
You should hear what he says to me!
♥  When someone we greatly admire says certain words to us or performs kind gestures for us we twist it in our mind to mean more than it means.  
♥ It’s so easy to see what we want to see when we want to see it bad enough.
Oh, but he DOES like me!!! It’s so obvious. 
♥ Perhaps he does. But it’s not a romantic kind of love if he isn’t making his intentions clear. He might, indeed, be interested in you… as a friend.
He TOLD ME he likes me. Why won’t he commit? 
♥ Indecision is a decision. If he isn’t taking action, he’s still pondering his other possibilities or he’s simply not ready for a commitment.
♥ Romantic interest sprouts easily… maturity takes time to grow and blossom.
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Do you know why he likes you? Cuz you’re freaking awesome, that’s why. Who wouldn’t like you!? But if he isn’t mature enough to pursue you romantically, let him go. There’s no sense in wasting time wondering why he won’t commit. Don’t let it distract you from what you need to be doing. Keep on keeping on. You need to guard your heart and protect it from getting entangled with the wrong person. And yes, he IS the wrong person if he’s not willing to commit. Don’t deceive yourself by misinterpretting his signals. Protect your heart. If a man truly loves you, he will go after your heart with all that is within his being.
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Put your hope and trust in a man, and he will hurt you. But place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ and you can rest securely in His unfailing love. His love will never disappoint and never betray you.  When you find your worth in His love, you will gain a deeper knowledge of who you really are… you are His… beloved and cherished. Abiding in His love equips you to become who you truly are and to embrace that identity. 
Human love can bring joy and happiness but God’s love is the most fulfilling love in the world. Talk to God. Give Him your concerns and He’ll give you peace. 

You Can’t Hurry Love

The Supremes famously sang:

You can’t hurry love
No, you just have to wait
You gotta trust, give it time
No matter how long it takes

I have the most amazing friends in the world who patiently listen to my rants about online dating. They helped me to see that whenever I determined someone wasn’t a good fit for me, I immediately went back to my messages to see what other fine specimens were out there. I’ve become this type A go-getter that won’t seem to rest until I find my true love.

What a thrill to have a whole world of singles at your fingertips! What fun to meet a different handsome man every week! But I realized that I’ve been rushing furiously from one to the next without really doing much else inbetween.

I haven’t been lacking in dates but the truth is that there hasn’t been a solid match in the 99th percentile of compatibility in the local area in a few months. Maybe I’m just staving off loneliness rather than actually trying to find someone who is compatible with me? Why else do I agree to meet men who I am pretty sure aren’t right for me with the hopes that “Well, maybe I’m wrong, you gotta meet them to make sure?”

Today at church this verse hit me hard:

“Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and striving after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:6)

Romans 12:3 tells me to “Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves” so I decided to do some serious soul-searching. I have been opressing myself by going through this rigmarole of date after date instead of trusting the Author of my love story. He does not put pressure on me to find my future husband myself but asks me to trudge my weary legs to Him and lay this burden at His feet.
img_2577I haven’t looked at my online dating app in several days and I’ve felt more tranquil than I have in weeks. If I trust God for my salvation then surely I can trust Him to provide a life companion.

My friend Jonathan told me something yesterday that has stuck with me:

“Passion without discipline will kill you.”
-Jonathan Bass

 

Men Don’t Know What They Want

This is what I wrote in my journal on January 7th:

What does my future husband want in a woman?

He wants someone strong, independent, comfortable in her own skin, who knows what she wants. Madly in love with Jesus, excited about this gift called life and passionate about her goals and dreams. She loves people and loves to have fun, singing, dancing, and joking around with a laugh that reverberates off the walls. She is refreshingly honest and won’t sugar coat the truth. She has a fiesty, larger than life personality but she’s also a good listener, an encourager, a faithful lover, a hopeless romantic who would do ANYTHING for the one she loves.

For some, I’m a little too much woman to handle. I need to find a man who wants this woman and I need to stop falling for men who want someone else. I vow to be myself, not apologize for being myself or wish I were someone else because the man who is looking for ME will only find me when I’m not hiding who I truly am.

Right after I wrote the above encouragement to myself, I went to a birthday party that very night in which I saw a man who I met back in October and saw one other time previously at a Christmas party.

Even though we had only met twice before this, we already had several inside jokes and were very comfortable around each other.

For the sake of anonymity, we’ll just call him Heathcliff Dudley Worthington III, because that’s the most pretentious name I can dream up even though he’s not very pretentious at all; he’s warm, welcoming, and unassuming.

I hadn’t even been at the party for ten minutes when a girl there told me to, and I quote, “Calm down.” I could have just toned it down a notch or two but instead, I declared to the whole room that my New Year’s Resolution was to be fearless and to be myself and so I wasn’t going to let her or anyone else crush my energetic spirit. I was happy and having a good time, dang it, and no one was going to put a damper on my enjoyment. I read a quote somewhere once that said, “Don’t let someone dim your light simply because you’re shining in their eyes.”

After my little speech Heathcliff whispered in my ear, “I admire that. I think that’s good.” I instantly respected him.

We were heavily flirting into the night to the point where he swept me up off my feet in front of all my friends, carried me across the room, and tossed me on the couch. This sort of euphoric glee permeated my being and in that moment I decided I liked him and wanted to get to know him better. (Some people might call that sexual harassment and it probably would have easily classified as such for it was certainly unsolicited, though not undesirable.)

One of my friends put on a movie and I grabbed a spot on the couch as Heathcliff laid by my feet on the floor. He put his hand up very close to where I was sitting and instinctively, I just grabbed it and we held hands for the rest of the night. I got butterflies in my stomach and had to keep telling myself to “calm down,” which is ironic because that’s what my friend told me to do much earlier in the night but I didn’t listen.

Since he has lived and worked on almost every continent, studied abroad, and speaks multiple languages, Heathcliff is cultured, articulate, and has developed refined taste and style. He’s the kind of classy, dapper gentleman who wears well-tailored suits, snug-fitting shirts with the first few buttons un-done, and a sexy fedora hat. Here are just a few of the things I love about him: His sense of humor is slightly roguish in a harmlessly mischievous way, I love how he playfully teases me,  he makes his own facial moisturizer and shaving cream… and it smells like coconut, and he wears the softest, most luxurious underwear made of Turkish cotton (I promise I did not see said underwear; I was only told about it and it sounded delightful.) Also, he has the most drop dead gorgeous smile and succulent lips. Oh, did I mention he spoils me? We went grocery shopping together after church and he paid for my food at the checkout. I couldn’t believe it. I love that he’s upbeat, fun, affectionate, and ridiculously open and honest. He makes me feel so comfortable that I can tell him anything. He washes the dishes every time after I cook us dinner and he gives good massages. He challenges me intellectually, can combat me in a battle of wits, and tackles my psyche in a way few men have ever been able to. This evening, I heard a knock on my door and it was him… he came to my house because he was worried about me when I didn’t answer his calls or texts and he wanted to check on me and make sure I was okay. That was just about the sweetest thing ever. (BTW my phone was dead, charging, and I forgot to turn it on as I was totally absorbed in writing this.) I could probably keep going here with all the reasons he’s wonderful, but I digress.

The point of this whole story is that we had a conversation about where the relationship is going and it turns out it’s not going anywhere. As I’ve stated in previous blog entries, I’ve heard literally every excuse in the book as to why men passionately pursue me for about a week and then change their minds.

Me: “Why don’t you like me?”
Heathcliff: “I DO like you.”
Me: “I know that, but why don’t you want me?”
Heathcliff: “I DO want you.”
Me: “No, you want me SEXUALLY, but you haven’t taken the time to get to know my heart. I think you’re scared to get to know me because you’re scared of falling in love.”
He nodded. I had hit the nail on the head.

Men aren’t stupid. They take longer than women to decide if they want to commit but once they do, they are usually more faithful than women. If he’s in love, he will do anything to keep the woman he loves by his side and he won’t let her get away. Period.

You CAN’T GET to that level of love overnight though. Love, by definiton, takes work and it takes time because it requires deep knowledge of a person. I think it’s true for both men and women that we crave this intimacy but we think we’re going to feel it right away. No, that’s infatuation. True love can only happen after you’ve supported each other through trials, worked through disagreements, and bonded over time in shared activities and conversations.

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If you think you can make someone love you, you’re wrong. You could be the most beautiful, loving, intelligent, wonderful woman in the world but he still could be stuck in his head and not sure if you’re the right one. You know he’s not right for you if he makes you beg for attention, affection, or time. The right person is dying to spend time with you, won’t flake out on his promises and commitments, and will smother you in affection because he adores you.

Let’s say you have been on three dates with a man and you don’t know where it is going. If you DON’T ask him, you’ll potentially be wasting your time going nowhere with a philophobic but if you DO ask you might scare him away with talk of commitment so soon. So sometimes you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. But I believe it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Just be upfront because it’s better to be on the same page than wonder where you stand. No one wants to get their heart invested in something that’s not going anywhere.

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As a woman who wastes no time stating up front that marriage is my goal and I don’t date for funzies, men realize right away that I don’t mess around so they take their decision-making more seriously because they don’t want to lead me on or break my heart. Sometimes the selfish ones escape through the cracks because they love being around me and don’t want to stop seeing me but they aren’t interested in anything romantic long-term.

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You might be surprised how many men I’ve gone on a single date with who then discontinued their online dating account the very next day. When I texted them to find out why they replied, “You made me realize I’m not ready for a commitment yet.”(If you are reading this right now and find yourself to be such a man, please read this helpful article entitled: “10 Reasons Men Should Stop Avoiding Commitment.”)

In my personal experience, when men are faced with a beautiful woman who is wife material they realize one of three things fairly quickly:
A.) I’m not ready for a relationship right now, at least not a serious one
B.) This woman is AWESOME but she’s not the type I’m looking for
C.) This could be the woman of my dreams but I’m not sure what I’m looking for

I cannot stress this enough: You don’t need to change for a man. The right person will love you for exactly who you are.  Don’t allow yourself to be played. Be honest about what you want out of the relationship, set firm boundaries and adhere to them. Don’t let yourself get too attached to someone who’s just not that into you and don’t let yourself think you might be able to change his mind.

Here’s a little known secret about men: A lot of them have this fantasy woman in their mind that they hope to fall in love with one day. (This is very true of women, too, but for some reason I feel like men have way higher expectations that are pretty unrealistic in many cases.) Half the men I’ve met don’t know the qualities they’re supposed to be looking for. When I ask them what they’re hoping to find they assume they’ll know once they meet the “right woman” because they’ll get “feelings.”  Ugh. No, you need to figure out what you want BEFORE you meet because the right woman will walk right by you and you won’t even know because you weren’t aware of what you wanted.

Men don’t know what they want. You have to show them. Just keep being yourself!!!eaa3ed7d868e0294c6464974777d4c4e-1