When God Speaks

When we are praying, how can we know a message is from God or just our own thoughts telling us what we want to hear? There’s an old joke: When you talk to God, we call it prayer, but when God talks to you, we call it schizophrenia.

The featured image for this post comes from the Bible story in Samuel 3 when Samuel’s name is repeatedly being called in the night and he finally answers the third time, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

I do not doubt that God speaks to us today as He spoke to Abraham, Moses, Job, and Samuel, I just think it’s a rare occurrence (even though according to to a Gallup poll, 23% of Americans reported hearing a voice or seeing a vision as a response to prayer.) I can only think of one time in my life that I believe a message was truly from God and it was when I was at rock bottom at 16, feeling like I didn’t want to live anymore and God whispered to me, “I have big plans for you.”

Recently my crush told me that God said “no” to dating me.

If God said “no” then God said “no” and so that’s the end of the story. God didn’t give a reason but as my crush so eloquently and firmly declared, “We have some serious problems if that’s not enough,” which was so damn sexy because SPIRITUAL LEADER PUTTING HIS FOOT DOWN. *RAWR.*

Once upon a time a man told me that God told him he would spend the rest of his life with me. I was speechless. Here was a man who I believed at the time to be a righteous and God-fearing follower of Christ. Surely if God told him he would marry me then never mind the fact that God didn’t give me the same message. Who am I to argue with God?

As it turns out, that man was wrong because if God had really meant for me to spend the rest of my life with him, he never would have abandoned me. Right? So forgive me if I’m a teeny bit skeptical of when people tell me God told them something, especially if it involves me.

I always ask this married couple at my church to tell me their love story because I love hearing it over and over. I can see God’s hand in every aspect of their relationship and one can almost be certain God meant for these two to be united as husband and wife. The husband was madly in love with an unbeliever. He kept asking God to take away his desire for her but every day he only loved her more. He couldn’t understand why he felt so strongly because women who smoked, cussed and were hardcore atheists were the most unattractive women to him and yet here was a woman he couldn’t stop daydreaming about. He had a nasty past before he became a believer and one day he was crying out to God and demanding to know why He wouldn’t save this woman. “You forgave my sins and they were even worse than hers. Why won’t you forgive hers?” Suddenly, in his mind’s eye, he kept seeing an image of himself pulling an index card out of a cup of Bible verses in the middle of the table and so he pulled one out. It was Isaiah 43:25 which says “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Except this verse was in Spanish and it could be read in the third person as “her” instead of “your.”) He fell to his knees and sobbed. Was it a coincidence that this exact verse was written by his mother on chalk board in the kitchen earlier that day? Eventually, his wife did realize her need for a Savior. She describes her conversation as an irresistible pull on her heart that made her see the love and grace of Jesus Christ and she couldn’t refuse. 

Another story involves my friend who recently had a dream where God revealed her future husband to her. Whenever she tells someone about the dream she had she says the Holy Spirit jumps inside her. She asked her pastor whether he believed the dream was from God and he confirmed that the man in question had been speaking fondly of her to him. I don’t know whether this dream came from God or was just a product of brain activity during a normal REM cycle, but I guess we’ll find out in time.

TIME. That really is the answer, isn’t it? True love requires committing time to really know a person. Two people have to feel comfortable enough to be openly honest with one another, vulnerable enough to expose themselves to one another, and after knowing all their dark and beautiful  idiosyncrasies, accepting them and choosing to love.

So I will just keep praying for peace about God’s decision and keep asking God to take away the feelings that shouldn’t be there because it isn’t God’s will. After all, I can’t move forward in any relationships with anyone else when my heart is all wrapped up in someone I can’t have.  Because of the nature of my work, I have very little free time to spend with others and so I need to be careful about which ones I give my time to. I’ve already eliminated many possibilities due to red flags such as a lack of respect for Hebrews 10:25 and Hebrews 13:4 and even a disagreement with “happy wife, happy life.” (Deuteronomy 24:5 supports that saying by the way!)

I guess since God is being silent about the matter the only thing I really have to go on at this point is feelings. I believe feelings are neither good nor bad, they are simply our response to information and personal experience. Feelings are legitimate and must be acknowledged and understood so that they can be expressed in healthy ways. While no one is ever wrong to feel a certain way, the information one is reacting to may not be accurate or their interpretation of information may be a misunderstanding. Therefore, before a feeling is shared with others, it must be balanced against the Truth of scripture and be in harmony with facts.

My feelings tell me nothing right now except obey God and focus on being the best foster mother I can be.

Wednesday night Bible study is going to focus on God’s will and how we can know it so I’m pumped for next week!

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Embracing Singleness

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I finally gave up on my crush ever returning my feelings. Okay, I’ll admit there is still a little dash of hope lurking somewhere in the dark recesses of my heart. What can I say? I’m the most optimistic person I know.

Alas, I signed up for online dating. Why? Because seriously, how long do I have to wait for you, Honey, before a girl like me can move on?

Apparently more than five months… and I’d literally wait YEARS for him if he gave me even a tattered shred of threadbare hope.

“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without words

And never stops at all”

~Emily Dickinson~

But he is a godly gentleman and he doesn’t lead people on so he hasn’t and won’t ever give false hope. Now I’m just trying to find a man on his level of awesomeness.

 

Less than five minutes after I uploaded a picture to my online dating profile I had 147 messages in my mailbox.   I remember thinking to myself, “Self? Your time of singleness is over.” I was at first excited about this new adventure especially after seeing messages with pick-up lines such as the ones below:

  • “How does it feel to be the most beautiful girl on this site?”
  • “Seriously, how in the world are you not yoked with a man of God?! Are Tucson men just blind to how incredible you are?”
  • “You are GORGEOUS. You must have a million guys after you.”
  • “You are too good to be true. Are you real?”
  • “Your energy is contagious and your love for God shines.”

But I quickly became discouraged when none of the gentlemen in Tucson seemed to be what I was looking for.

Except my crush.

And of course the website flashed it in my face every day that were were 99% compatible and that he was online RIGHT NOW, probably talking to other girls, too.

So my rules were:

1.) No initiating conversation. Never be the first one to suggest exchanging phone numbers or meeting in person. Let the man lead.

2.) Don’t even bother to reply to messages if you’re not initially attracted to the person’s picture. There’s no need to get people’s hopes up if you’re just not attracted physically.

3.) If he doesn’t say God is the most important thing in his life or if his answers to the questions don’t reflect that, again, don’t bother replying.

4.) Don’t even waste your time with men who say “MIGHT want kids.” Our eggs is a-shrivelin’ up, Honey Chile!

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6.) Pray without ceasing. If it doesn’t feel right in your spirit, walk away. 

 7.) Remember that God desires to give me good things. He loves me and WILL provide in His perfect timing. Rest in Him. 

So the first guy I talked to seemed perfect on paper… but then when we talked on the phone he said that he was only just married last month… “but don’t worry about that,” he assured me. “I’ve grieved over the loss, my heart is healed, and I’m over her and ready to move on.” I nearly choked on my own tongue. “Thank you for being so honest,” I replied. “That’s honorable of you to mention up front. However, it’s a red flag to me that if you truly are done mourning the death of your marriage so soon after its demise. The only thing I could possibly be to you right now is a rebound. I’m sorry, but this cannot go any further.”

That was the end of that.

Then there was an amazing guy who was even more perfect for me on paper than the one above. He was gorgeous, shared many of my hobbies and interests including salsa dancing,  was intelligent, witty, musically gifted, and made me laugh.

He was very slow to meet me in person and I was growing impatient because everyone else I began talking to had already asked to meet me in person and he was the only one who hadn’t yet and also the only one I really wanted to meet anyway. I MIGHT have nudged him a little bit even though one of my rules was to let the man lead. Mistake number one. It worked though! And he asked me out the very next day.

We went on a date that I thought couldn’t have been more perfect… he actually sat there grilling me with questions and covered all the bases I could ever think of even right down to what my love language was, my communication style, how often I desired to be physically intimate after marriage, how many kids I wanted to have and when I wanted to start having them. It seemed we were compatible on absolutely everything because he kept saying, “Good! Me too,” and high-fiving me. Then at the end of the date when I said it was a pleasure to meet him he said, “Oh no, the pleasure is entirely mine. It was truly an honor to meet you.” I thought we were definitely going to make babies together–bahahahaha just kidding! (But like, maybe a little bit)

Unfortunately, I had to wait with bated breath for a text or email for what seemed like an eternity (which was really only about four days but in online-dating-time that just seems like a lifetime.) In his email he wrote that he could get lost in my “beautiful blue eyes all day long” but that he “didn’t feel God meant for us to be together.”  What a heartbreaking rejection. I wrote back that I respected his sincere honesty and for doing it sooner rather than later. I also asked if he felt comfortable sharing what made him feel that way about us but he never wrote back and so the reason for the death of our romance so quickly kindled and so swiftly doused may haunt my waking thoughts for the foreseeable future.

Then I “met” the most amazing man I may have ever met in my life. We talked on the phone for seven hours our first time speaking to one another and even though he’s from India, a culture so completely different from mine, I felt like we could have grown up together because we were so similar. (Being a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ plays a huge part in that.)  His grandfather is the founder of Hopegivers International, which is an organization that helps rescue orphans and at risk children from abuse, sex trafficking, and abandonment. They provide for all their needs, shower them in love, and introduce them to their heavenly Father. He owns some of the “Hope Homes” in his name and is truly one of the most caring and loving individuals I’ve ever met and I already told him that if it doesn’t work out with him romantically that I’m keeping him in my life forever and ever because he’s my beloved brother in Christ and I feel a deep spiritual connection to him.

I also met this sweet, adorable Asian guy who is incredibly easy to get along with and really fun to be around. I feel like we would have some amazing adventures together and I also feel like he would spoil me rotten if I ever became something more than a friend to him.

Okay so then the next guy I am meeting in less than an hour. I have seen him before a couple times at the gym I used to go to. He’s this super buff guy, 6’1″, green eyes… basically a head-turner. I never talked to him because A.) I just go to the gym to do my thang, I don’t really interact with people all that much and B.) I thought he was way out of my league. Plus C.) this was during the time I was still trying desperately to win my husband’s heart back. I know what you must be thinking, “WHY? He was so AWFUL to you, why would you want him back?” Well…

 

people always do crazy things when they’re in love.

The rest of the relationships I’m juggling are all long distance… there are no other ones in Tucson who have messaged me that I am interested in. I’m just keeping my options open at this point and keeping things really casual and nothing too serious unless the Lord whispers something to my heart.

WISH ME LUCK! *Gets purse*

………………………………………………………………..

I just got back from my date and let me tell you… it literally could not have gone any better. We seem to have all the same goals and priorities and we are attracted to one another. We have ridiculous amounts in common and whether or not this works out romantically I can definitely see him fitting into my friend group as he is someone I’d love to have as a friend for life.

He straight up told me I’m his dream woman and everything he wants. And he told me at the end of the date that he couldn’t wait to see me again. So this is either VERY GOOD if it’s God’s will to let him pursue me or VERY BAD because if it isn’t God’s will, He better tell me quick because I can see it headed in that direction unless God puts a road block in our path.

The number one thing I love about him is his genuineness. He’s extremely open and honest and puts everything out on the table. That is not only refreshing but also extremely attractive. He shared with me many of his flaws and strangely, I was not put off by them. I’m still going to keep my guard up and watch for red flags, but I’m already starting to trust him and feel very comfortable around him.

I’m relieved he didn’t try to kiss me at the end of the date. I was sort of worried he might but he probably did his homework by reading the questions in which I had answered  that I didn’t like to kiss until we were in an established, exclusive relationship. Or maybe he’s a lot like me in that mentality. 🙂

Anyway, I just wanted to encourage you that if you are still single and really want to find the love of your life, this verse may be of some comfort to you:

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” -1 Timothy 6:6

Contentment is peace and joy in your current circumstances. It is the freedom from worry, fear, anxiety, and greed. It is wholeness. It is accepting your situation and being satisfied with what God has given you. Maybe you desire more, but you’re truly happy with where you are in this time even if you don’t receive more.

As my sister told me before I started this online dating process: “Are you really trusting God to use the internet as a vehicle for bringing the one He has for you or are you trusting yourself for it to work out?

She reminded me that I have a tendency to be controlling because I like everything to go my way. I tend to plan things out and live in the future and get extremely disappointed when things don’t turn out as I had hoped. She told me to be extra careful because I wear my heart on my sleeve and get carried away by my emotions when I fall for someone.

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Doubt and fear are a direct mistrust in God’s provision and goodness and faithfulness.  There is no fear in love. If you’re worrying about being single and not finding the one you want to spend the rest of your life loving, then you are not trusting God’s sovereignty and omnipotence. If you’re looking online for handsome men you feel a connection with but you’re not bathing every second of your interactions with prayer, then you’re trying to “fix your singleness” yourself apart from God and without God, nothing can go right.


Oh, and the disappointment? Yeah. There is going to be a lot of that if you are anything like me and get rejected by someone you start having feelings for. I assure you, though, God knows best and if someone is not the BEST life teammate for you then God is going to withhold that from you because He has someone even better in mind for you than you could ever imagine for yourself.

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…

“The heart dies a slow death, shedding each hope like leaves…”

I was re-reading “Memoirs of a Geisha” this morning on my day off. The first time I read it was about six years ago when I was engaged to my husband. Today, for the first time, I saw a little bit of myself in the character of Sayuri and also in her mentor Mameha as they must not allow themselves to truly open themselves up to love because the jealousy of the other women their danna was with would destroy them. I came across a quote by Mameha to her protégé as she tried to teach her not to dream too big. To be practical and detached. To keep her passion under control or it would control her. “Young girls hope all sorts of foolish things, Sayuri. Hopes are like hair ornaments. Girls want to wear too many of them. When they become old women they look silly wearing even one.” After reading this passage, I put the book down and felt hopelessness over my whole situation. I wondered if I’d ever be able to have the kind of teamwork that my sister and her husband have if I am to do my duty as a Christian wife and wait to reconcile with the prodigal husband. I was hopeful for a while there that I might have a biblical reason to divorce him and find someone who will truly love me as Christ loves the church. But now I just feel empty with despair at the thought of him coming back and having to live day after day in a divided house. Jesus said “a house divided cannot stand” (Luke 11:17). I felt so lazy the rest of the day like I couldn’t do anything.133067363960558541_Tu6eZOaB_f Have you ever been debilitated by your feelings? Sometimes I feel like I’m shackled ball and chain to my feelings, incapacitated by their burden, and completely at their mercy. I don’t think feelings are necessarily good or bad but the thoughts we harbor and choices we make based on them are what either honor God or dishonor Him. I love the saying, “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head but you can prevent it from building a nest in your hair.” In other words, if a feeling passes overhead, you can choose to let it fly by or allow it to take up permanent residence in your mind, giving it free reign over your actions. But it seems hopelessness likes to keep haunting me. My whole life has always been filled up with hopes and dreams. I was the one at birthday parties who, when everyone else was playing games like Spin the Bottle and Seven Minutes in Heaven, I was in another room of the house reading a book because my kisses were for my future husband. I wanted to give him and only him every part of me, including my first kiss.  Part of me wished to be included in the revelry and not feel left out but another part of me realized that this kind of intimacy with boys was cheap and superficial. I didn’t want to have insincere make-out sessions with boys who were meaningless to me. I wanted to be tenderly kissed by someone I deeply cared about who was as passionately devoted to me as I was to him. I saved that first kiss for years and years and gave it to my husband six months after we were engaged. I had hoped he would be not only my first kiss, but my last and my only. Is my destiny for my husband to return to me? If so, I must not ever love him too passionately or I will die a slow and painful death once more if he should choose to leave me again. If he did return, our relationship would never be the same again. It would take eons for my husband to gain back my trust.

Trust

My husband texted me yesterday that he misses me and that he was thinking of revoking the previous ultimatum that I need to give up my faith in Jesus Christ. His most recent correspondence was that maybe we can agree to disagree. I don’t like the idea of living with a man who doesn’t submit to the headship of our Savior because there are so many problems that come from a marriage where one member of the team yields to the leadership of Christ and the other does things his own way however he sees fit, ignoring the instructions from the Bible. I lived like this for three and a half years and I guess I could go back to it, but I know I’d be miserable. I could continue to try to “win my husband over with my chaste conduct” (1 Peter 3:1-2). This is what the church elders from my home church back in Connecticut advised me to do as they suppose my husband to be a believer. But what harmony can there be between us when I answer to my Father’s Word and my other half doesn’t? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15) It wasn’t working then so why would it work now? My most recent text from my husband says, “I can at least consider another go at it…” Consider. Getting back together is not definite but now, after a full year, he’s finally reevaluating his decision to leave me. If his decision had come months ago I would have been overjoyed but now I can’t help but feel a deep sense of loss for what I might have had with someone else: a godly man. I must not let myself feel so disappointed, but instead fulfill my obligation as a faithful wife and try to make the marriage work.  My pastor from Tucson thinks I should not rush back into a relationship with my husband (especially if he only wants to come back because he wants to use me a sex object.) He told me to wait for him to prove himself that he can hold down a job, stay clean, and not lay a finger on me. broken_rings I know I ought to respond with a renewed mind that aligns itself with God’s will. I can either accept these negative thoughts that come into my mind or I can refuse them. New thoughts come from new perspectives. If anything exalts itself against the knowledge of God I have to bring that thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I do not need to be helf hostage by negative, unbiblical thoughts but instead, capture those thoughts that go against God’s Word and bring them into submission to Him. I can’t control what happens to me anymore than I can control the weather but what I can control is how I respond to these feelings. I believe there is a potential good in every situation and when I choose to dwell on God’s Sovereignty rather than a seemingly hopeless situation, I choose to rest in His grip instead of losing my grip. God has called me out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). The devil wants me to live in futility of thinking, embracing the darkness and all of its attitudes, perceptions presuppositions, and expectations. But those who walk in darkness are separated from God with hardened hearts, living in all kinds of impurity with a continual lust for more sin. However, as believers, we are called to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1) and we are urged to live a life worthy of our calling (2 Thessalonians 1:11). Unbridled emotions can can be so powerful as to paralyze us with fear and rob us of peace and joy. Our thoughts directly affect our emotions but we ought not to let them manage our decisions. Feelings cannot be depended on and they don’t always tell the truth. We need to always compare our feelings with what God’s Word says. Train your feelings to serve you so you don’t become their slave.

Uncertainty

I always seem to be in a perpetual state of confusion and uncertainty. Questions plague my mind. Every choice seems huge and every decision feels wrong. What does my future hold? What does God want for my life? Will life ever stop being so stressful working three jobs just to make ends meet? Will I ever be loved and taken care of again someday? Will I make it through this difficult time in one piece? Will I mess up my testimony if I make the wrong decision? Will I always be this lonely?

DOUBTI’ve been praying a lot lately. It seems I’m in a constant state of prayer. Verses keep coming to my mind…

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” -Proverbs 3:5-6

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need.” Luke 12:29 -31

I think for now I will hold off on getting a better apartment and a car and just wait for six months to see where my financial situation is then. I am miserable with no hot water in my apartment and I’m tired of wasting hours upon hours waiting for the bus, riding it (it takes four times as long to get to any destination riding public transit) and being late for work if it’s behind schedule. But hot water and better transportation are luxuries, not really needs. I test-drove a Camaro this past Easter weekend and I imagined how much easier it would make my life to have it. (And of course how cool it would feel to be behind the wheel of one.) But coveting is a sin and letting my mind feast on this desire for a car is wasting precious time I could be thinking about other things of more importance like God’s goodness and His grace. I have brought my petitions to God and He will either bless me with a better job or He will tell me to wait longer. As it stands now, I can afford the car payments and insurance but I would have to finance the car and I’d rather save up and pay for it in cash so that I can avoid the interest.

As to the situation with my husband, the latest news is that he still wants to get back together with me but he wants me to give up the Bible which he claims “brainwashes” me. He says that until I start thinking along the same lines as he does, there is no possibility of us ever reconciling. Even though he lost his faith years ago, he was willing to dwell with me. I have absolutely no idea how unequally yoked couples do it! There were so many problems in our marriage because my husband did not want to submit to God. Untimately, it was our major differences in worldview that caused him to leave me. (This is the answer he gave when I asked him last night “WHY did you leave me!?” .) He said we are just too different and we have absolutely nothing in common because I follow Jesus and he doesn’t.

Some of you reading this may be asking yourselves if my telling you all of this really all that necessary? Maybe not, but I still think it’s important to share my testimony. I need to. I need someone to say, “I’ve been there,” or “I’m going through something similar,” or “I don’t know what you’re going through, but I’m praying for you and I’m here for you.”

Here’s what 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 says:
“Since God has so generously let us in on what He is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.” ((The Message))

Thoughts on Marital Separation & Big Decisions

I love this scene in the movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” when Andie discovers the wilting plant in Ben’s apartment. “Oh, no… our love fern; it’s dead! You let it die. Are you going to let us die?”  It’s a funny scene and makes a great point that relationships are like plants: if you don’t water them with care, they wilt and eventually die. Even old married couples must go on frequent dates to keep a relationship healthy. So too we ought to make dates with God. It’s important to always be aware of His presence at all times but especially when we need Him to soothe our aches. It’s so easy to worry when we aren’t focused on the fact that God is with us and in control. We need learn about who He is so that our heart can be sensitive to what He might be trying to tell us throughout the day.

I realize that, even though I’m praying daily, I’m not intimately conversing with God. I’m talking to Him, but I’m not really hearing His response nor trusting Him in the silence that follows my prayers. I cry out to Him daily but it seems I’ve found myself in a purgatory of sorts where God just wants me to make a decision instead of sitting in limbo and it doesn’t really matter which way I choose, just that I take a step forward on the path. I constantly wonder what it is He wants me to do. Does He want me to continue waiting for my husband to have a change of heart? Clearly, my husband has made up his mind and there is absolutely nothing I can do to change it. As my pastor and many close confidants have suggested, “Would you really want to be reconciled with someone who you’d be unequally yoked with? Maybe you should see this as a blessing in disguise.” My husband has actually called me a few times to chat because he misses my companionship, but he doesn’t want to be reunited as husband and wife. Three times he has asked me if he could borrow the money he needs for the divorce because he doesn’t have the funds for it. I refused each and every time because I still have a little sliver of hope that “until death do us part” will still happen. Some people are telling me I should just divorce him myself so that I can put it behind me, wipe the slate clean, and start over fresh. Well-meaning people have told me, “Why shouldn’t you be happy and have the family you always dreamed of? You can’t move on if you keep pining away after a man who has already divorced you in his heart.”

I would wait for years and years if I knew for sure he’d return to God and to me. But how long, Oh Lord? How long must I wait? At the mall where I work I see children giggling and swinging from the hands of their parents. There is a deep yearning within my soul for that connection between mother and child and to share my life with a partner in whom I would be his helpmeet. I hate to say “time is running out,” but it really is if you think about it. At my age, there are not many eligible bachelors left and even fewer are God-fearing men. I recently gave my cousin the book “When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy and now I’m thinking it may be time for me to re-read it. At the moment I am reading “Where is God When it Hurts? A Comforting, Healing Guide for Coping With Hard Times” by Philip Yancey.  So far it has been encouraging but I haven’t yet gotten to the part that tells me why God allowed this to happen.  I keep wanting answers! All I can rest in is the fact that Job was a righteous man who found favor in the sight of God and even he had to endure great suffering which was appointed to him for a purpose though Job, in his entire lifetime, never found out what that purpose was.

It bothers me that I still don’t know the specific plan God has for my life. (I know that everyone has the same purpose: to serve and obey Christ with sincerity of heart and serve others, especially “the least of these” (Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 25:34-45) and to share the gospel (1 Peter 2:9, 3:15-16, Mark 16:15). Maybe it doesn’t matter exactly what I do as long as I “work at it with all my heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23, Ephesians 6:7). When I was in college I believed I was called to be a teacher and minister to troubled youth. I wanted to help young people and give them hope so that they didn’t have to experience the same torment that I did at their age. Many young people are searching for answers: Who am I? Why am I here? If I can be there for them during those difficult questions and maybe lead them to discover for themselves the answers, I will feel as though I have made a difference in the world.  Five years ago I took failing the Praxis exam as a sign that the Lord didn’t want me to be a teacher but to be a stay-at-home wife and serve my husband faithfully by his side in whatever he needed me to do. I regret that decision today. (Not getting married, no, I shall never regret that. I regret not furthering my education.)

Do you ever feel like you’re just waiting waiting waiting for your life to actually start? I have always felt that the Lord set me apart for a special work though I know not what. I have known this since the age of 16. 12 years ago I was going through an immense inward struggle as I fought an intense spiritual battle. I will not get into the specifics with what I was wrestling with, but one night it all came to a head and I didn’t want to live anymore. I was seriously contemplating suicide because I was ready to be in Heaven with the Lord where there would be no more tears or pain. As I sat selfishly on my bedroom floor with my head in my hands, trying to think of the least painful way to kill myself I could have sworn I heard God speaking clearly to me in my mind. He wasn’t yelling at me or telling me I was foolish for pondering such a thing. His voice was tender and gentle. He whispered, “I LOVE you! Your life is precious to Me. Don’t end it. I am the One who decides when you die. I will take care you. You can get through this; you can do it. I want you to do great things for Me. Just wait and see what I have in store for you… just wait! I have BIG PLANS for you!” Those two words “big plans” have never left my mind and I’ve always wondered when they would come to fruit or if they are already taking place as I type this. As God set apart prophets and leaders like Jeremiah and Moses for “special work,” I wonder if I, too, was called for a special work or if my special work is just living out a simple life without complaining, but being thankful and praising God in all things.

Sometimes I think, “What am I still doin in Tucson making a lousy $10 an hour? I should be in Connecticut living near my family and friends I grew up with working at a great job making a decent living.” (But many people tell me $10 is a lot more than most people make and I should be thankful that I make that much.) However, it never seems like it’s enough to live on. There’s so much I want to do! First of all, I want to be debt free and second I’d like to have my own mode of transportation. Last but not least, it is my dream to just save up a bunch of money and buy a big, beautiful house and open it and my heart up to a bus-load of orphans. The Bible commands us to help the orphans (James 1:27). It’s what everyone is supposed to do, not just certain people who are called. Someday I’m definitely going to adopt but until that time has come, I help provide financial grants to loving, Christian families who want to make a difference in the life of orphans with a percentage of the profits from my business Eskimo Kissesz. Of course I want to have my own biological children as well and be the kind of wife who rubs my husband’s feet when he comes home from a long day of work, take a hot bath with him, and then cuddle all night long after a wonderful home cooked meal. But I digress.

Newsflash to self: life is NOW. We are to be making the most of what we have in the moment. We cannot wait ‘til tomorrow because tomorrow may never come. Do the best with what you have and the rest will come later in God’s timing. If you keep waiting for some big “AH HAH moment,” it will probably never come. Sometimes you just have to choose to walk toward the door and open it yourself. Find your identity in Christ and you will never again wonder who you are. If you aren’t content with where He has placed you right now you will continually try to find fulfillment and satisfaction elsewhere- in things or in other people. For some reason the saying, “bloom where you are planted” just came into my mind.

Everyone says they’re proud of how strong I am for going through this without tearing down my husband or speaking ill against him. I confess I don’t feel very strong. I feel the pain is too much to bear sometimes, but I know I must stand firm and always remember that God will never give me more than I can handle (1 Corinthians 10:12-13). I also need to bear in mind that the Lord is taking care of me, and wants me to lean on Him. Whenever I start feeling totally hopeless it is good to remember that Christians all over the world have suffering even worse than I do… some are in prison and some are being tortured for their faith. My heart breaks for them. I pray that they will have some reprieve soon.

God has called me to eternal glory in Christ, and while He allows me to suffer on this earth, it is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to me on that WONDERFUL SOMEDAY! Oh, I simply cannot wait for the return of my KING!!! Eventually He will restore me and make me strong, firm and steadfast (1 Peter 5:10). It is so encouraging to know that one day my suffering will finally end. In the meantime, I need to watch my attitude and conduct, always being prepared in season and out of season to witness both with my lips and with my life. I’m so thankful for the many opportunities lately that I’ve been given to share my faith and encourage other believers going through hard times. The Devil is poised to pounce, and he would like nothing better than to catch me with my guard down so I have to be extra sober and vigilant now than ever before. I have fallen into darkness one too many times, but I am trying to remain on the illumined path and not stray into the thorny weeds that grow alongside. When I doubted the Bible was the absolute infallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God, it was the most depressing time in my entire life. I didn’t want to get out of bed or do anything. But praise the Lord! In Jesus Christ I have found eternal peace of mind, true, unconditional, everlasting love and joy. I have no limits in Christ and I have unlimited freedom in Christ. I have broken free from the chains of bondage and I have found security in the knowledge of His grace. Amen!