When We Feel Empty

It wasn’t even a full three days since I posted “Singleness is NOT a Punishment!” when my dear, sweet friend sent me this through Facebook message:

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If you have ever seen this or something like this, I want to just help erase any of the damage that it may have done to your heart.

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First of all, who else saw Xena the Warrior Princess when you first starting reading that? Ha! But I digress. Let’s respond to the letter from the anonymous internet person to the Princess Warrior. (Which is supposed to be a letter from God the Father to me, His beloved daughter.)

First of all, I look nothing like sexy Xena the Warrior Princess nor do I feel like her, even though I do know I am a daughter of the King and in His army.  Second of all, I would have to honestly say that, for the most part, I desire the approval of God alone. When I was young I sought the approval of my parents and my teachers and now that I’m an adult I seek the approval of my boss. There is a certain crush of mine who I highly admire and respect and from time to time I will find myself desiring his approval but it’s only because I hold him in such high regard. I don’t think validation should come from anywhere but from above as we are complete in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9-10) but I don’t think the desire to feel accepted and supported is wrong. In fact, that’s not only normal but God designed it that way. Allow me to explain:

The letter goes on to say, “I designed you to desire Me and Me alone.”

I challenge you to find a passage in the Bible that says that. You will be hard-pressed to find such a verse because I guarentee it is not there.

Have you ever been in a crowded room, yet felt completely isolated? It’s not a good feeling at all, is it? Loneliness has never been part of God’s plan for his children. After all, in the beginning when God created the Heavens, the earth, the water, trees, flowers, birds, fish, and animals, He looked over each day of creation and declared it to be good. However, upon creating man, God stopped and for the very first time declared something as “not good.” He said, “It is NOT GOOD that man should be alone.”

Adam had God by his side and yet God still said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Not until after God created Eve did God say, “…and it was VERY good.” All this is to say that we need each other and to deny that is to deny God’s design. Yes, we were designed to desire God, but He also designed us to yearn for a helpmate in life. We are sexual beings and our bodies are naturally created with a longing to be intimate and to be fruitful and multiply. Is it a sin that we desire these things? NO!

Some Christians might tell you that desiring sex is a sin but that is not biblical. The distinction comes from the OBJECT of our desire. If our desires are fixating on something evil (i.e. adultery, fornication, etc) then the desire itself is evil (Matthew 5:28, Matthew 15:19, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20). If our desire fixates on something good (i.e. marriage, companionship) then the desire itself is good (Proverbs 5:18-19, Song of Solomon 2:5-7, Proverbs 18:22, Ephesians 5:28). Sexual desire is wholesome, honorable, and right when it is enjoyed within the boundaries of holy matrimony.

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” -Philippians 4:8

We have become a generation with a distorted view of marriage.  When we try to convince singles that we shouldn’t desire sexual intimacy or that longing for marriage is somehow unholy then we are giving Satan the credit for God’s beautiful design.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Psalm 37:4 is NOT an equation.

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. -Psalm 37:4

If Psalm 37:4 were an equation, then I’m pretty sure I would have a husband and children by now. Don’t believe for one second that if you’re still waiting on the Lord for this blessing that you must not be doing something you’re supposed to be doing.  Though it certainly feels like a curse, singleness is very much a blessing.  I know that it hurts, especially when you’re lying awake at night in your empty bed with nothing but pillows to squeeze for comfort.

Now let’s take a look at another passage in the letter:

“When you choose to live for Me, you will never again be thirsty for attention…”

Is that really true? What kind of a message does that send to people who struggle with depression? With aching emptiness and longing? With grief and loss associated with divorce? Just because we’ve given our lives to Jesus and chosen to live for Him doesn’t mean that we don’t still struggle with the pain of an empty womb or the longing to share our lives with a companion by our side. Telling a woman that she’ll never thirst for attention if she chooses to live for God… Do you see how that could be detrimental to her spirit? “Oh, I am still thirsty for love and affection…” She thinks. “I must not be fully living for God.” 

In the wise words of one of my favorite authors Alyssa Joy Bethke: “God is good and everything that happens is for our good. Not necessarily for our happiness but for our holiness. God’s goal is to make us more like His son, and often that involves trials and pain. But those difficulties are opportunities to rely on our Savior, to run into His arms, to nestle ourselves in His embrace and to walk with Him.”

Emptiness is that feeling left over after you give something your absolute all and it still doesn’t turn out the way you worked so hard for it to. You’re exhausted of energy, depleated of hope, and disappointed that it didn’t work out. Perhaps you have some unfulfilled dreams or a place in your heart that aches because your beloved didn’t return your love. Perhaps, like me, you fought hard to save your marriage and did everything possible to redeem it but it still fell apart in your hands.

God’s Word offers some promises to combat the emptiness and find fulfillment in Christ.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” – Psalm 81:10

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

“I ask God from the wealth of His glory to give you power through His Spirit to be strong in your inner selves,  and I pray that Christ will make His home in your hearts through faith as you open the door and invite Him in.  I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. Yes, may you come to know the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love—although it can never be fully known—and be so completely filled with the very nature of God.” -Ephesians 3:16-19

Just because we’ve completely given our lives to God doesn’t mean the longings He’s plsb10065339i-001aced there will completely go away. I believe they are from Him and they aren’t sinful. I mean, not all of us are called to be nuns!!! On the plane home from my sister’s wedding last weeekend I saw a nun. I immediately was drawn to her because of her calm, elegant beauty and of course the curiousity of what made her decide to live under the vows of poverty and chastity but especially the latter. Perhaps she doesn’t have those desires? I can’t imagine not having those desires. If she DOES have those desires then I applaud her for her strength and uncompromising commitment to purity.  She is SO KICK-BUTT! Wish I would have had the courage to ask her my questions. Again, I digress.

It’s healthy to recognize that sometimes the longings we feel aren’t for anything Earth can provide. Psalmist cries out to God, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1). Just like the Samaritan woman at the well who thirsted for Living Water, God put a longing in our heart that was intended to lead us back to Him. There is an emptiness that ONLY HE can fill. There is a deep thirst that ONLY HE can quench. If His love doesn’t fill you up, then nothing else will.

“Now let me ask you again, My beloved daughter: Whom do you seek?”

If you’re like me, you’re COMPLETELY honest with yourself and if your desires are the same as mine then you’re seeking a husband. The Bible says, But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” -Matthew 6:33. It never says it’s wrong to seek a husband, but make sure God is first in your heart.

As for me, I’m allowing God to use this loneliness and emptiness to teach me what it means to depend upon His strength and love every day. I know that having a husband won’t satisfy the craving that only God can fill. When you allow yourself to be controlled by Christ’s love you have the indwelling of God’s presence and are closer to unity and maturity. I don’t think we can ever experience the whole measure of the perfection that is found in Christ (Ephesians 4:13) this side of Heaven, but I do believe we can experience joy and fullness here on Earth. I pray this for us both, dear reader, that we would be filled with His love and be content in our single season.

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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)

The Prince

After four dates over the course of a month with a gentleman I will refer only to as The Prince, we ended our relationship last night. As heartbreaking as it was, I kind of expected it. Not because there was anything wrong with him (he was the best guy I’ve dated thus far) and not because I didn’t think I deserved him (I know I am worthy of such a man.) It was because we weren’t compatible.

“If you and I got married, it would be a good marriage… but it wouldn’t be a GREAT marriage.” -The Prince

I asked him why not and he said because I was very “sensuous” and that there wasn’t anything wrong with that but that he simply wasn’t and he didn’t feel that we fit together because of it.

True. In fact, I was concerned before we even went on a single date that this would happen just by looking at the answers to his questions on his online dating profile. However, I decided to be open to the possibility of him despite his shortcomings because he was a drop in the ocean… a one-of-a-kind gentleman that is extremely hard to find, maybe even less than 1% of the population. Someone I was beginning to lose hope still existed in the world… a unicorn if you will.

Sometimes the heart needs more time to accept what the mind already knows.

He self-proclaimed through his answers on the dating site that he didn’t care for art, music, poetry, cologne, fashion, or physical touch… which is pretty much everything I live for, especially the latter. I was worried it was doomed from the start seeing as how I am the type of person who always has music playing throughout the day and I’m often found singing or dancing to it. I have a collection of over 300 fragrances and I’m always burning candles or scented oils to keep my home smelling comforting and inviting. My book shelf has a solid section dedicated to poetry and I have several books filled with my own poetry.

“You need to be more picky…” -The Prince

That’s the third time I’ve heard a man say that to me in just six months.

Why are men in my town so darn picky? They want so much… they want their “ideal.” I don’t even think it exists. I’m being reasonable and logical. I know that the man in my head is a figment of my imagination. I know he probably isn’t out there but I know I can get pretty darn close and The Prince was as close as you could possibly get, minus the fact that he’s not touchy-feely. I just don’t think I’d be competely happy in a marriage with someone who didn’t scoop me up all the time and tackle me with kisses.  So he was probably right in letting me go, as sad as I am to say it outloud. I wish I weren’t so needy. I wish I didn’t have such high expectations. I wish the man for me wasn’t such a polar bear in a snow storm.

There were men in the past who were literally perfect but who struggled with porn addiction and that’s something on my non-negotiable checklist. The good news is that I’m getting warmer. The men in my life keep getting better and better, The Prince being the cream of the crop.

What I learned in this relationship is PATIENCE. He was definitely slow to warm up and it taught me complete reliance on God. Rest in Him and wait on Him while trusting in Him. I wanted things to move on my own timetable but I had to keep relaxing and being patient. I also learned the way I am supposed to be treated. I don’t think I’ve ever received such treatment from a man before. I was treated like a queen… never once did he make me feel uncomfortable. He intentionally pursued me, taking his time with me and was polite and kind and gentle and spoke God’s truth in love to me.

After this experience, I’m disappointed but not disenchanted. My heart is weary and wants to take a break but I know that I have to get myself back out there otherwise I’m never going to find my needle in a haystack.

What do you want to be true about your life a year from now, and what seeds do you need to be planting today in order to make that a reality?

I know that I want a man like The Prince… someone who is wise, hardworking, and intelligent. Someone who has hidden the Word of God in his heart, has a deep respect for His commandments and honors the Lord with his choices. I simply did not know there were still single men out there like this! The seeds I can be planting right now to harvest a better future are reading my Bible and praying for my future husband every day, and using the gifts and talents God gave me for His purpose. I need not squander my time but I still need to allow myself quiet rest with the Lord so He can reveal to me His calling.

Also, I need to stop being so hard on myself. I didn’t do anything wrong in my relationship with The Prince… he just wasn’t the one God has for me.

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Is This “the One?”

I read a Christian dating book called “Is This the One?” by Stephen Arterburn and it presented a challenge which I chose to accept called “Take-a-Break-Dating” in which you are to platonically date ten different men to expand your horizons and see what else it out there. 

So my rules were simple:

-Don’t seek out the date. Always let him ask you and no saying “no” to the date unless he gives off creepy vibes and you don’t feel safe.

-Make sure he knows it’s a platonic date right up front so you’re both on the same wavelength.

-No matter how badly you are tempted to, you must not kiss no matter how amazing the date went.

(Let me begin by saying that I use the word “date” very loosely. In the majority of these cases, our get together was very much like two friends enjoying one another’s company.)

That being said, I went above and beyond the challenge and went on 30 platonic dates. Many of the men were sweet, thoughtful, respectful, kindhearted, gentle, honest, intelligent, witty, affectionate, well-spoken communicators and great listeners. Many of them were handsome and a couple of them were drop dead gorgeous. A few of them spoiled me rotten and made me feel like a queen. However, a couple of the dates were a complete waste of time, unfortunately, and I came away having a hard time coming up with anything nice to say about the person no matter how hard I tried to think of something.

Out of the 30 dates, only a small handful I can honestly say were on the same page as me faith-wise. One of my favorite dates had this to say over dinner and I think it perfectly sums up my experience with most of the men:

“The only thing I don’t like about you is that you’re too good for me. You’re more faithful to God and more spiritual and that’s actually not a problem with you but a problem with me.”

I must be honest and admit that I didn’t follow ANY of my rules. I ended up breaking them all at some point. Please allow me to explain:

-Number 30 was someone who I absolutely could not resist asking on a date myself. I bent this rule for him only. I know that no one is perfect but to tell the truth I have yet to find a flaw in him. He is the only one out of all 30 men that I could see myself dating romantically when the time is right but he does not feel the same way about me. He has set the bar high for “the one.” He has ruined this whole game for me because after getting to know him, no one else can quite compare.

-I failed to mention on a couple dates that it was platonic. Maybe I was so excited I forgot to or maybe I was afraid of friend-zoning someone amazing that could one day blossom into something more.

-Yes. I kissed a couple of them. Yes, I, Saving-My-First-Kiss-For-Marriage Dannielle, kissed a boy on a first date. I promise to be a good girl from now on and my next kiss will be someone super special that I’m in a committed relationship with.

Without further ado, here are some fun pie charts for those curious about the statistics of my dates.

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In order to be placed in the “Christian” category, date had to self-identify as Christian but failed to correctly answer an important question about salvation that I feel would justify him being a true Christian. The ones who fell into neither category are those who straight up told me they were either atheist or agnostic which were 5 men in total.

One of my 30 dates passed the faith test but when asked who he would like to marry, he answered, “As long as she loves me, it doesn’t matter if she’s not a Christian.” You can clearly see where his heart is when it comes to spiritual intimacy and oneness. I was REALLY disappointed by this one because up until that moment, he was someone I could have seen myself falling in love with.

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This one is totally for funzies because honestly I believe we are all one race… the human race. Conversation I had last night with a friend:

Him: You don’t like dark meat?
Me: Oh, I LOVE dark meat… just not on my plate!  😉

My pie chart is sadly lacking in the brown sugar department.

ageofdate Wow. This one actually blew my mind. I am surprised to visually see the break down of my date’s ages.

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Now this is just a heartbreaking pie graph. Notice how NOT ONE guy I dated was found in church. I supposed I could count ONE guy but I placed him in the mutual friend category instead because he was both. If you want to get technical, all the guys in the mall category were also work… I was working at the mall at the time when guys came up to me all the time and asked me for a date. But the true work category is actual co-workers. The “other” category includes fun places such as a Crisis Pregnancy Resource Center fund raiser and a storage unit, the former of which has become one of my best friends. The category where I’ve found the most amazing Christian men is salsa dancing. At this point, I have a better chance of meeting my future husband dancing than I do at church!

In conclusion, I learned a lot from my experience. The most valuable thing I learned was how to interact with the various different personality types. They are all so vastly different and communication styles that work for one will not work for another. Some personality types clash with mine such as those who are excessively sarcastic, those who don’t have a clear vision for their future, and those who don’t have an active lifestyle.

I learned that there are a lot of single “Christian” men who don’t go to church. Not ONE unmarried man over the age of 18 has set foot in my church in five years. This is a huge problem when trying to meet eligible, like-minded men with the same vision and same passion for Jesus Christ. I’d really like to know the reason for men’s spiritual lethargy.

I should caveat my next few paragraphs with the fact that I believe God desires good things for my life and is fully capable of delivering. If God wants me to get re-married, He’ll bring the right one into my life at the right time.

Now, let’s discuss the “meat market!” One report puts the number of “marriageable men” (that is, never having married, no children yet, & has gainful employment) at 152 marriageable men for every 100 marriageable women (source). According to this study, there are more than enough good men to go around. But the study doesn’t measure faith as a factor. If you go to any church, I guarantee you that most of the pews have butts in them that belong to single women. At my church, the majority of the people who attend are single women. There aren’t any single men at all… and even a couple married women members attend without their husbands. A recent study put the number at 25% of married women who attend church without their husbands in tow (source). This same source claims that a typical congregation in the U.S. is 61% female and only 39% male. The participants in activities during the middle of the week are attended by an overwhelming 70-80% of females. I have some friends in their early 40s who finally found each other and tied the knot. I have an uncle who tied the knot recently in his 40s as well… and he had to find my aunt online… and she lived in another state. Why is it taking this long for people to find their “helper suitable?”

If I keep doing what I’m doing (waiting for a guy to come along) I have a feeling I’m going to experience a lot of the same thing… waiting for a guy to come along. There are some things I could change about my lifestyle such as switching churches or joining a Bible study at another church but I REALLY LOVE my church and my schedule is kind of jam packed right now to add anything else to it. Besides, I wouldn’t want to join a Bible study with the intent to find a husband… I’d rather join to study the Bible with other believers.

The only thing I can think of doing right now is continue to pray for my future husband. Pray his faith grow and strengthen, pray for his well-being, and that he will find me soon. I also pray every day for Date #30 that if it’s God’s will, he’ll change his mind about friend zoning me 😉

It has been more than three years since my ex-husband left me and it will be one full year since we’ve been divorced on May 21st. That is when I plan to start dating romantically, should the Lord bring the right one into my life. However, I kind of promised myself I’d read through the entire Bible again before I started this journey. I better get cracking…