Idols of the Heart

Golden Calf
The story of the Golden Calf is found in Exodus 32:1–6.

Recently, I re-read the story in the Bible when the children of Israel, after having seen the astounding power of God through several miraculous signs and miracles, fashion a golden calf and bow down and worship it. WHY?! Why, after seeing with their own eyes how God delivered them from the ten plagues (which only affected the Egyptians) and then experiencing the marvelous wonder that was the parting of the Red Sea, walking across dry land, and watching Pharaoh’s army drown beneath the waves? How could they turn their back on God and turn to a god of their own making?

Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, written by the finger of God. He was gone for 40 days. Meanwhile, the Israelites were lowkey freaking out because they thought that Moses had deserted them or maybe even died. They hadn’t seen the power of God in a while and maybe they thought God had left them, too. They began to worry what would happen to them without Moses leading them so in their anxiousness, they made a god they could see. That was comfortable for them and familiar to them since they were accustomed to having visual representations of gods when they were in bondage in Egypt for the last 200 years.

Idols of the Heart

We may not physically worship a golden idol in 2020, but how many of us have lost trust in God’s provision and committed the sin of worry just like the Israelites did? Right now, everyone is totally freaking out that they will starve to death or have nothing to wipe their bums because neither toilet paper, napkins, diaper wipes, nor tissues can be found in any store near or far. #CoronaVirus

There is another story in the Bible about a beautiful, elegant woman who gained favor wherever she went due to her extravagant beauty. Her beauty was her power and a man named Jacob fell in love with her at first sight.

Rachel Hides the Idols

The story of Rachel stealing the idols can be found in Genesis 31.

One day, Jacob told Rachel that they were leaving to a far off place. Rachel began to worry about what that might mean. She was moving away from where she grew up, leaving behind her family and everything she knew. She began to panic. What did she do? She went through a lot of trouble to secretly steal her father’s household idols. Then she lied about it and hid them. What does this reveal about Rachel’s heart? She didn’t trust Yahweh to protect and provide for her away from home. She felt she needed the comfort that her father’s idols brought.

Rachel longed with all her being to be a mother. Back then, women did not have much use except to give birth to sons. Rachel had been used to being the favorite her entire life, but now she saw that her sister Leah was gaining all the favor. She said to Jacob, “GIVE ME CHILDREN OR ELSE I’LL DIE!” (As if Jacob were the one in control of her womb.) Jacob’s response was, “What, am I God?” He knew that it was God and only God who opens and closes the womb. Rachel began to feel worthless and her barrenness was an ugliness she could not bear. She sank into deep depression and allowed her desire for motherhood to twist her thinking. She complained and pouted and felt, “Woah is me, it’s not fair.” But even in the midst of her unbelief, God graciously opened Rachel’s womb and gave her a son. Was Rachel thankful?

She named her son Joseph which means “May Jehovah increase.” She wanted MORE. She wasn’t satisfied. Isn’t that the root of idolatry? We aren’t content with what we have. We always want MORE MORE MORE. Rachel thought that having children would bring her the joy she so desperately craved, but once God ended her infertility, she still wasn’t happy.

What Rachel thought would bring her blessing and favor eventually ended up bringing her death. She did end up having another son, but she died in the process of childbirth. Right before she gave up she spirit, she named her son Benoni which means “Son of my Sorrow.” (Jacob ended up changing his name to Benjamin meaning “Son of my Right Hand.”)

rachelbirth

What idols are lurking in the dark corners of my heart? An idol is anything that my heart longs for in order to make my life seem meaningful and happy. An idol is anything I desire other than God that allows me to seem like I am doing alright and everything is going to be okay. An idol is anything I trust in outside of God to give me what I need. An idol is anything that I am willing to sin in order to obtain or anything I do as an act of pouting because I can’t have my way or anything that I seek to bring me which only God can supply. An idol is anything that absorbs my affections and imaginations more than God. An idol is anything I invest my identity in.  For Rachel, her identity was in having children, and she ultimately died for want of it.

“A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living.”

-Tim Keller

How often I find myself utterly frustrated because I haven’t found a job in months. I have experienced rejection after rejection and it’s so easy to apply those rejections to my self-worth and feel less than. I have believed that if I just keep working hard enough, applying to as many positions as I can, then eventually I will reap the benefits of my hard work and finally gain employment. That has not been the case. If I’m operating out of fear or believing that I have the power to manipulate outcomes, then I am not trusting in God alone to provide for my needs. I am making having a job an idol in my heart.

Another idol in my heart is the intense yearning to be a wife and mother. I know that this is supposed to be my sabbatical year, but I have often caught myself saying something like, “If I am never to be married, I hope that I die young, because this cruel life will be too much to bear without someone to love.” It’s all I’ve ever really wanted anyway. I never dreamed of a fancy career, that was always my sister, not me. I just wanted to be a stay-at-home mama and homeschool my kids. I have even turned down perfectly nice gentlemen because they didn’t want a wife who homeschooled.

How can I stop worrying that I’ll never get married? The scarcity of single Christian men is sometimes all I can think about. Worry is TOXIC. It just keeps you busy doing absolutely NOTHING. It blinds us to what God has done for us and how He is working and what He will do in the future… all because we are focusing on our problem and how we are going to solve it. Self-sufficiency disables trust. The Bible says to focus our thoughts above and to seek Him first. Whenever we dwell on a thought, the more we focus on it, and the more it takes over real estate in our brain. We have to replace negative thoughts with truth. Essentially, whatever I am worrying about today is an idol that I must tear down and confess.

Father God, expose the idols in my life that are lying to me and telling me what I need to feel secure and fulfilled. I renounce all covetousness and envy of what other people have. Cut down any idols in my life. Help me not to give my fears and concerns permission to discourage me. You are the Sovereign Lord in control of all things and you have given me every tool to fight against that which tries to steal my peace. I lay down all my burdens at Your feet and I ask You Lord to give me sweet rest. Forgive me for trying to handle things on my own and help me to see my life through Your perspective, not my own. Enable me to be content with the way things are… but I also pray You grant me the desires of my heart. I ask that you conform my desires to what You want for me in this moment. Help me to take this life day by day.  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Fertility Fears & More Sevens

I am reading through the Bible in one year. So far I have kept up faithfully and made up the daily reading the next day if I missed one. I came across something in Genesis that is very poignant as I turn 35 this year, the year doctors say women begin having complications with pregnancy (source).

I noticed that Abraham was 86 when he had Ishmael. He wasn’t worried at all that he wouldn’t be able to have children as this was an acceptable time back in his day to be able to bear children. When Sarah offered her handmaid Hagar at age 76 as a solution to her dilemma, notice that she didn’t say “I am old,” as the reason she couldn’t get pregnant. Instead, she said, “The Lord has prevented me from having children,” because before that she and her husband had been trying to conceive. However, 14 years must have made a huge difference in fertility because then at 100 and 90 years old, Abraham laughs at God telling him that he and Sarah would have a son come next year (Genesis 17:17).

If you read Genesis 11, you will see a long list of people with the age they were at the time of their first child being born and how long they lived after that. Adam had Seth at age 130 and Adam lived to 930. Noah had his first son at 500! Noah lived to 950. There were not that many generations between Noah and Abraham (who lived to 175) but their lifespans started to gradually shorten. My guess is that people noticed the trend of living shorter and shorter lives so they began having children younger and younger.

If you are interested, Noah’s son Shem wasn’t worried about old age because he didn’t have his first son Arpachshad until he was 100. He had many children after that and lived until he was 600 and then died. Arpachshad lived until 411 and had his first son at 35. I must be the biggest Bible dork (besides my friend Valerie who tops them ALL) but I made this chart to visualize the fact that people were increasingly worried about their fertility after the flood.

Name Years Lived Age upon having first child
Shem 600 100
Arpachshad 411 35
Shelah 406 30
Eber 463 34
Peleg 239 30
Reu 239 32
Serug 230 30
Nahor 148 29
Terah 275 70

Now, you can see Terah is living on the wild side and waits until he is 70 before he gives birth to what I can only understand from the text to be triplets: good old Father Abraham (who had many sons) and his two brothers Haran and Nahor (not to be confused with his grandpa Nahor.)

Anyway, all of this to say, that I was already freaking out about 2020 being so soon on the horizon and now it is here. I am still alone and I still have no prospects for marriage. It is probably time I start reconciling myself to never being able to smell the scent of my newborn baby’s skin snuggled against my breast. I want this with every fiber of my being and I cry out to the Lord to be able to experience this before it is too late.

Brianna Wilbur Photography

God bless all the well-meaning people of the world, but if one more person uses Sarah as an example of being able to have children in old age someone is gunna have a broken nose! (Not really but UGH!) She lived during a time when it was laughable that a 90 year old woman might have a baby, but it was still possible. Nowadays, it is possible to have a baby after 45 but very, very, very rare.

I am so incredibly conflicted by Gretchen Louise’s advice not to rush and my very real biological timeline that threatens to derail my future motherhood by my desire to wait for a desirable husband. I will repost her advice here for you.

Advice in the Season of Waiting

1. Don’t rush.

Marriage is not a place at which you will “arrive” but a season which will come in His time.

2. Don’t spend all your time wishing you were married.

Marriage is not the end goal of life.

3. Don’t sit around waiting for your man to come.

Marriage is not your highest calling.”

4. Don’t fall in love.

True love is a plant of slow growth which will be the sweeter for strong roots and a sure foundation.

5. Don’t marry for the sake of marriage alone.

‘Tis better to be single than to wish you were.

6. Don’t rush.

It takes time to prove the mettle of a man, and only time will reveal a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

7. You will marry a sinner.

Open your eyes wide to his faults and think long and hard about whether you want to spend the rest of your life living with those imperfections magnified one hundred-fold.

8. Listen to the counsel of those who know and love you both.

They can see red flags that are invisible from your perspective.

9. Marry a friend.

Most of married life is lived side by side, not face to face.

10. Don’t rush.

You will have the rest of your lives together.

Being married to your best friend is worth the wait.

I know I said I would let 2020 be sabbatical year and I meant it. Joshua had to walk around the city of Jericho 7 days to make those freaking walls come down. If he had given up on the 5th day or the 6th day because the French peas were jeering and taunting him singing “Keep walking, but you won’t knock down our wall. Keep walking, but she isn’t gonna fall! It’s plain to see your brains are very small to think walking will be knocking down our wall.” (Veggie Tales reference!)  I have to have faith that this year I will tear down that stupid wall blocking me from my dreams if I have faith in God and rest in His provision.

Noah was in the stinking ark smelling elephant poop for months. But in the 7th month on the 17th day, the ark finally rested on Mount Ararat. He waited and waited some more until the flood waters went down, wondering if he would be cooped up with crazy apes and complaining family members with cabin fever and claustrophobia forever. He sent out the dove but she came right back, not finding a place to rest. He waited 7 days and sent her out again and she returned with an olive branch in her beak. (Olive trees represent PEACE.) Then Noah waited 7 more days and sent the dove back out again, but this time, she did not return because she found a nice new home in a tree somewhere. I need to have PEACE in my heart that if I just keep waiting, the flood waters I feel I am drowning in will gradually diminish and I will eventually find the future home where I belong.

My Sabbatical Year

I got married on June 7th, 2009. 2020 marks seven years since my husband left me.

Seven is an important number to God and is the most frequent number mentioned in His Word. In fact, the Bible returns 483 results for seven, seventh, sevenfold, etc. (I just realized I am writing this on the seventh day of the month.)

seven

Seven is thought to represent “completion” as the Lord created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. I am thinking about this idea of completion and I am hoping that several things in my life will be completed. One thing that I hope will be completed is my anxiety over my singleness.

ANXIETY

For years I have fretted over the lack of single Christian men and the very real statistical probability that I will end up dying alone because of the sheer lack of marriageable Christian men in church. But what does God say about anxiety?

Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus.”

-Philippians 4:6-7

My anxiety stems from a lack of trust in God. If God wants to give me a husband then He will. He is a God who is not only able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20) but as our Father who loves us, He desires to give us good gifts (Matthew 7:11). I guess I’ve been struggling to really internalize this truth.

Another important instance where the number seven shows up in the Bible is when God tells the Israelites to fallow the fields every seven years. The land needs to rest and be left alone to rejuvenate itself. This is so that the fields can produce a better harvest and also so that the poor people would be provided for.


“But on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.”

-Exodus 23:11

The phrase “year you shall let it rest” is all one Hebrew word. The word is “shamat” and Blue Letter Bible tells me that the KJV translates it in several different ways including: release, throw down, discontinue, and let rest. I think 2020 is the year that I plow and harrow the soil of my heart, but do not sow seeds in it in order to restore the fertility. There has been so much exhausting toiling to find a husband: joining every dating site I can find online, participating in speed dating events, church hopping and joining Bible studies from different churches, and joining single Christian groups on Facebook. I am doing a lot of planting, but I am not harvesting anything except bitter disappointment and envy that others have what I long for. I hope this will be the year that all my striving ceases, I cast my cares on the Lord, and take up His yoke.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

-Matthew 11:30

DEBT

When my husband left me, I went into a tailspin of financial crisis. He left me with a mountain of debt that I couldn’t begin to pay off with my minimum wage job. I had to downsize to a smaller apartment that I could afford which was stressful because I had to let go of many of my belongings in order to fit into my cramped little home. I struggled living paycheck to paycheck for years and had to count pennies and live with a bare bones budget that did not allow for any entertainment whatsoever.

Leviticus 25 not only talks about the sabbatical year of resting the dirt, but it also talks about the year of Jubilee which takes place in the 50th year (after seven times seven years). In the year of Jubilee, slaves are freed, debts are forgiven, and property that has been taken is restored to the rightful owner’s family. So this year, I pray that I will work hard to pay off all that I owe and be freed from that burden. This year, I hope, is the year my debt will be completed.

SLAVERY

I have been a slave to my emotions for years. I was finally done grieving the loss of my marriage and the future I imagined for us together after about two years, but I am still to this day grieving who I used to be before I got married and the future I could have had if I never married him. I left everything I loved behind when I moved to Arizona in a last ditch effort to save my crumbling marriage: my job, the masters degree I was working toward, my family and my church family I loved. I had to start all over in a new place with no support.

Whereas I never before struggled with lust, sexual temptation became a part of my daily struggles after my husband left me. Whereas I never used to be an envious person, I frequently find envy creeping into my heart when I see happy married couples, especially those with children. I felt angry at God for allowing me to be abused for so many years and I felt disconnected from Him for allowing me to get into that situation in the first place since He knew what would ultimately happen and could have prevented it. As each year that goes by and I am still alone, loneliness threatens to choke me to death. Fears that I will always be alone keep me up late at night crying into my pillow. Resentment at God for letting this happen and for not providing someone else I can be a “helper suitable” to loom over my head and make me feel guilty, but there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to stop these feelings from growing more and more out of control like pesky weeds.

Ruth got a kinsman redeemer (Ruth 4:13-14 ) and Job was given twice of what he had before (Job 42:10). The people of Israel were restored to them the years that the locusts had eaten (Joel 2:25). Maybe 2020 is the year that I let go of my impatience and anger and I am freed from the chains of resentment, self pity, bitterness, and depression. I need to count my blessings every day and hold on to hope that something beautiful is in my future.

The Seven Steps to Resolving Unbiblical Thoughts and Bad Feelings

1. Confess the sin as I recognize it

– 1 John 1:9

2. Commit to follow Jesus

– Luke 9:23-24

3. Judge myself biblically

– Matthew 7:1-5

4. Love God and love others

– Matthew 22:37-39

5. Practice forgiveness

– Ephesians 4:32

6. Count trials as joy

– James 1:2

7. Pray unceasingly

– Philippians 4:6-7

 

Kindred Spirit

At the begining of August I was being pursued by seven different men. I went on at least one date with each of them and began slowly eliminating them. In one week, I went on a date with a different man every day for five days in a row. Then the last two days of that week I went on a second date with two of them.

I honestly like all of them. They are all great guys and I really can’t say anything bad about any of them. One of them was my mailman who has been leaving me thoughtful presents and notes in my mailbox for about a year and a half. Another one was a man I met online who came all the way down from Colorado just to spend the weekend with me.

As amazing as all these men are, none of them felt like I had met “the one…” except one. From this point forward I shall refer to him as “Kindred Spirit.”

From the moment I met Kindred Spirit, I felt as though I had known him my whole life. We immediately clicked in a deep way as if I were getting together with an old childhood friend and reconnecting after not seeing one another for ten years or more.

It sounds so ridiculous writing it down and putting my thoughts out into the world, but I was already excited about him after one date. We stayed up until 2 in the morning talking in a parking lot. I wanted to kiss him. KISS HIM, people! I NEVER want to kiss someone I’ve just met. I was already kind of crazy about him. I couldn’t wait to see him again and thought about him constantly. Being my Kindred Spirit, I somehow knew him just as well as I know myself. I knew that if I texted him too much or came on too strong it would turn him off. He’s an old-fashioned hopeless romantic and he wants to be the one in control who does the pursuing… so I kept praying and being patient and reminding myself not to get too excited.

patience

I have the tendancy to be a bit clingy. It’s mind over matter at this point.

He told me a few days later that there was another girl in the picture who he was also dating. I was immediately disappointed, but it’s only fair to mention I also had two other guys I was still dating at that point.

But I called them last night and told them my affections were with someone else. It’s a risky shot in the dark at this point because of what he told me on our third date two nights ago.

Me: I’m probably sabotaging our relationship by asking you this instead of just having fun, enjoying your company, and making the most of this moment together… but I can’t stop thinking about the “other girl.” How are things going with her?
Kindred Spirit: Really good actually.
Me: Oh. Do you like her romantically?
Kindred Spirit: Yes, I think so, I don’t know.
Me: You don’t know what you want, do you? I feel like you should have a pretty good idea at this point of what you want.
Kindred Spirit: I’ve been praying about it but God’s not answering my prayers.

Well, I just wanted to get back to enjoying our time together so we changed the subject and walked around the park again for a second time. Then we sat in my car and talked some more.

Kindred Spirit: Don’t look at me like that!
Me:
Like how?
Kindred Spirit: Longingly.
I immediately broke eye contact and became embarassed that my heart was dangling like that on my sleeve. He quickly pulled me in an embrace, I suppose out of compassion and empathy for my unrequited love. 
Me: There was a quote in chapter 8 of  “Boundaries in Dating” which I just read at the dentist office the other day which said, “Are you confusing longing for being in love? Remember, love satisfies. It does not leave you romantically pining.”

So that’s it. That’s all I have to say. We didn’t set another date and there might not ever be another date. My greatest fear came to fruition… that I would like him more than he likes me. My heart kind of hurts if I’m honest with you. My other greatest fear is that I won’t find anyone else like him. But at the same time, I completely trust God and I know that I can’t wreck up His beautiful plan for my life. I guess I dumped the other guys more for myself than for Kindred Spirit. It’s completely unfair to myself to have experienced a soul as beautiful as his and then settle for anything less than how I feel about him.

I would rather be single for the rest of my life than be stuck with someone I didn’t feel that with.

someday

I just feel absolutely blessed to even have met him. He raises the bar high for the next person who tries to pursue me.

My hands are open
Willing to receive
They are not resisting
or defending
My hands are open
Willing to give
No need to grab
or push or cling tightly
My hands are open
Ready to embrace
Ready to let go
Accepting

 

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:

princess_warrior

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.

warrior

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.

Beauty, Loneliness, & Eternity

I never feel more lonely than when I’m surrounded by absolute breathtaking beauty such as gazing at the sunset over the Sonoran Desert from the top Mount Lemmon. Beauty has a way of reminding us of the Eden that we have never known but somehow always knew we were meant for.

“Every experience of beauty points to eternity.”

-Hans Urs von Balthasar

I know it’s not as lovely as hearing it in person, but if you’ve never heard the haunting, melancholy wail of a loon, please listen to this video clip.

Laying awake at night in the cabin on Bear Lake in Waterford, Maine where I spent every summer with my family, I would be startled by this long, wistful howl that awakened a mournful longing within me. Sometimes the beauty was so great it stirred me to tears and made me feel desperately lonely.

A deep pang of painful yearning similar to my experience in Maine has been pulling on my heartstrings as of late. I could not name the empty place inside me until I picked up the book “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, a birthday present from my sister.

“Our fall was, has always been, and always will be that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”

-Ann Voskamp

Yes, this is exactly what I’ve been feeling. Instead of being thankful for all I’ve been blessed with, I start to believe the serpent’s hissing lie whispering in my ear that God must not love me enough because He’s withholding good things from me. I try to fill the emptiness by putting on my dancing shoes as often as possible, devouring poetry, and crafting pretty things but always, always I feel the ache.

It’s not really my fault though, is it? The gaping hole in my soul will always be there until I am restored to glory and present with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We were never meant for this dark, lonely world. We were created for a loving relationship with God.

Strangely enough, there is one person with whom I feel at peace. One person who makes the hole seem less cavernous. When I am in his presence, the hollowness melts away and I feel safe and able to rest. His company is inviting, nourishing, and comforting. I never want to say “good bye” but I am not allowed to be with him forever. It seems unfair that God would tease me with everything I’ve always wanted so close I could touch it but hold it just out of my grasp.

I think the grief I feel over this is natural and healthy. The sadness I feel because I am alone is due to living in a sinful, broken world where people don’t keep their vows and abandon their spouses. The sadness I feel because I am unwanted and rejected means I know my worth.

The wound of grief says, “This is not the way life is supposed to be. You were created to be dearly loved and cherished. You were never meant to be alone.” And the beauty in the world points me to hope. The loon’s cry sings, “There is still beauty in this lonely world.” It is an echo of what once was before sin spoiled its perfection. It is a mere shadow of the glorious beauty that will one day be revealed to us when Christ returns for His bride.

I am looking forward to that marvelous day.

La Douleur Exquise

“I can’t keep all your men straight,” you say as you withdraw your embrace

It is an honor to hold you as long as you let me

Don’t pull away…

The truth is, it’s always only ever been YOU

You who are the most beautiful person I know

I love you in every way a person can be loved

As much as a feeble human being is capable of

I ought to let go of of this incessant pining

But my hand is always reaching for yours

Even when you are not there

Because being close to you was never about the proximity

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