Thursday, August 30, 2007

sex god

i’m reading sex god, by rob bell, and so far it’s a fantastic book. i feel very blessed and lucky because lately the books i’ve been reading are really speaking to me. it started with the book of hebrews, then this beautiful mess, by rick mckinley, which i’m almost finished with, and now sex god.

i’m about 80 pages into the book, and i’m having a hard time putting it down. when i pick it up in the evenings i find myself rereading what i read the night before then continuing on to new chapters. i want to make sure it all sinks in.

one thing i’ve been turning over in my mind is bell’s take on how we need to focus our energies. if we don’t, he says, they’ll come out in all kinds of not good places. either we focus them on good things, things that work toward order and goodness and godliness, or we’ll spend our energies on things that take us back toward void and chaos and sadness and all of those other things. rick mckinley might say that we need to be living for the kingdom; making choices that bring it to life and focusing our energies on revealing it to others.

so now i’m thinking a lot about what that means in light of my being single. as a single woman, what will i focus myself on? where will my passion go? how can i reveal the kingdom? what i can do right now that i couldn't if i were married?

in the past few years my passions have come out in all kinds of wrong ways. but just like the bible (and rob bell) is saying, those ways never lead to happiness. drinking too much, relationships with little to no physical boundaries, too many hours at a job that isn’t really me. i knew that most of those things were just ways to kill time, but i didn't think about how much harm i was doing to myself and my relationship with god. duh! no wonder i haven’t been as i happy as i know i could be. but i guess i had to live it a little while to really be sure i wasn’t missing out on anything. nope, i wasn’t.

so now what? i’m not 100% sure. i have a few ideas, and i’m praying one or two of them will come to life, and seeking out ways to pursue them.

but i am sure that my singleness has a role to play. i don’t know what it is. but i’m a little excited, i have to admit, for the first time in a while.

god, help me focus. i just feel like i’m on the edge of something, and i so want to see what it is! and i want others around me to see what i see and get beyond lust and these stupid false things that we always think will fill us. open our eyes, god.

Monday, August 27, 2007

and sometimes joy leads to revelation

i've been thinking a lot about the 'gift of singleness' and the 'marriage mandate' arguments lately. (as you might be able to tell from my posts). the bottom line for me has become that it's not about the gift, it's about the giver.

i have wanted the gift of marriage for soooo long. actually, i've been wanting a lot of different gifts for a long time. i just feel like i'm in the same place, with the same stuff. i have cried and begged and pleaded, as recently as saturday night even, for an end to singleness, a change in my job, something, anything. just a freaking gift!

but god has had something else in mind. he's been trying to give me more of him. for a long time, i didn't think i really wanted more of him. i'm fine how i am, god. just give me a husband! i don't need stronger character or a more intimate relationship with you. i don't really want to pursue you intensely or be obedient. i'll give you half-ass. and in return, i want quality! and maybe i'll think about growing and loving you more later.

it took me a long time to realize that the gifts without the giver are worthless and sickening. my attempts to fill my loneliness on my own terms just made me feel worse. nothing satisfies like god.

and i'm getting it now. i am so excited because i'm wanting god more than i have in a long time. i'm wanting on of those amazing, dynamic relationships with him that i've heard about. and i'm ready to put him first. words like obedience and sacrifice are coming more readily into my mind than they ever have before. i think that's how i can tell that things are changing. maybe i won't be married for a while yet; instead i'll be getting to know my god more and more intimately. wow!

i know the gifts will follow the giver. i don't see them yet, but that's ok; that's what faith is. i still trust.

so what do you want more? what are you focusing on more? i can tell you that focusing on the gifts doesn't bring much happiness. maybe it isn't about the gift of marriage or the gift of singleness or even how to get a date worth keeping (though that is definitely an important skill set to have!). maybe it's about pursuing the giver no matter what he has or hasn't given you, and trusting that the best is yet to come.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

joy indeed comes in the morning

last night (well, around 1 AM this morning) i just fell apart. hormones, exhaustion, and lack of faith all came into play. and i've decided that debbie maken's freaking book did, too.

but today i woke and spent time with god and feel so much better. and i realized what i hate about debbie's book! it's the negativity. and it's the fact that she does not speak to the fact that maybe some of us are right where we are supposed to be.

in my dark times, sure, i forget, or lose sight or whatever you want to call it. but most of the time i know: i am right here and single for a reason. i don't know what it is and that is frustrating, yes. but it's like i feel it in my bones; i am not going to meet anyone special in the near future. i don't know what it is, but god is leading me toward something. maybe it's a closer relationship with him. maybe it's some kind of specific ministry. i don't know.

but i do know very surely that i need to trust him and stop freaking out about this! last night one of my friends again reminded me that i just need to stop looking. and as trite as that piece of advice is, and as much as i hate to admit it, he's right. god wants my focus on him right now, i know that. it's like he's saying, please just trust me and seek me, THEN all the rest will be given unto you.

ok god. i get it. i'm sorry. sometimes i am so obstinate and want to just be satisfied and done. i'm sorry about those times. i'm sorry about my weak will. but i do really want you more than anything else. please don't give up on me yet! keep leading me toward you and the things you have for me.

as for maken and others who write on these things, sometimes it's not about which position is biblical or what is wrong with the church or single men or women. sometimes it's about having compassion on those of us who desperately want something and haven't gotten it yet. a little compassion goes a long way.

prayer, heavy on desperation

sometimes i'm ok. most of the time i am. and sometimes, it hurts so much. today it hurts a lot.

first of all, i picked up debbie maken's book again. (i plan to do a review at some point) i don't know why, but it wrecks me almost every time. her words leave me sad and frustrated and hopeless. i can't say exactly why, maybe i feel like a failure. it's almost like i read her book and feel like i'm powerless to change my singleness. i've internet dated, i've enlisted people i care about (agency), i've gone to therapy, i've cared, and i've not cared. and here i still am. i'm on my 3rd roommate and my 2nd or 3rd large group of friends (they keep getting married and moving).

i'm the age debbie was when she got sick of her situation, went to an indian christian matchmaker, and her life changed. and nothing that good is on my horizon. would an indian christian matchmaker take me? i've never really been all that attracted to indian guys.

on top of all those feelings of inadequacy you can add that i read my ex-boyfriend's blog where he mentions his new girlfriend. no, i don't want him back. yes, i wish him the best. i pray for him sometimes. we've been broken up and on great terms for over a year. but, not fair. here i am, still single. and there he is, enjoying new love again. his wounds don't stop him. do mine stop me? or are there just no solid available bachelors in this large mid western city? in my book, if this world were any kind of fair, he would have to stay single another 2 or 3 years.

what am i doing wrong? god, if you were to tell me what i need to do to change my situation, i would do it. i swear. i can't believe that more bad dates are the answer. i can't believe that dropping $30 a month to close out men on eharmony is the answer. i really think i am so great; why won't it translate to a relationship? what the he** else am i supposed to do?

i know this world is broken. i know that there are so many things that are just screwed up because of sin and satan. i guess one of them is that i get to be single and celibate for over ten years (counting since i was about 18). i guess i can't complain. i have some family who love me, i can walk, i dont' have MS or anything. but damn, how i would love to not have to deal with this anymore.

sometimes i am really, really good at being single. and other times i'm just really good at crying and asking god angry questions.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

i want a medal!

sometimes, i want a medal. i want recognition for being 28, a virgin, and relatively healthy and well-adjusted. and i want to give medals to a whole bunch of my friends. like andy, who's just shy of 40, one of the most godly and handsome men i know, and still single. and my friend lea, who's 32 and arty and fabulous and still single.

i want there to be a big ceremony for me and my single friends at church. or maybe just a sunday where the sermon is all about how to be a good, god-loving single person. how to serve your friends and family, affirmations that you're doing a good job, and that god still loves you. and the pastor would talk about how tough it is; all the crap we have to deal with. all the things geared toward couples and families, the loneliness of coming home to your still-empty apartment or your roommate and her boyfriend watching a movie on the couch. he would tell humorous insightful stories about the single life, and force all the married, divorced and widowed people to listen to them. there'd probably be a story about when you get wedding invitations and you have to deal with that whole 'and guest' thing.

the ceremony/sermon thing would be 'for everybody' the same way all the sermons i've sat through about marriage or kids or in-laws are. but really it would be just for those of us who always have been and still are single. and just for a minute we would secretly feel all full of ourselves and smile at all the clueless faces around us.

(i promise i'm not as bitter as i sound, but, i did say i'd be honest...)

a very healthy attitude toward seeking a spouse

i read an article on solo femininity today which i think sums up what seems to me is the best attitude for a single person to have toward finding a spouse:

The emphasis here is on living a God-glorifying existence, married or single. The reason for this is that searching for a mate can easily slip into idolatry. But laziness and passivity also can easily hide under the guise of trusting God. One can be proactive to a proper degree about finding a spouse, but one always needs to vigilant about what's lurking in the heart if a spouse doesn't turn up in the time or manner expected (demanded?) of God. I liken this to the mix of human responsibility and divine sovereignty in the matter of evangelism. I believe Scripture's clear emphasis is on God's sovereignty in saving people, but the Bible also clearly teaches human responsibility in preaching the gospel. So though none of us can actually regenerate another human being, we get out there and share the gospel, we invite our neighbors to outreach events, we serve the poor and needy--and we trust God for the results.

that's from Carolyn McCulley's Blog, Solo Femininity. the post is entitled Raising the Stakes. And i think she's spot on with it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

the 'gift' of singleness?

wow! so i had no idea this was such a hot topic. yes, i've read all the books; debbie maken's, a bunch by elisabeth elliott, dr. cloud, etc. i've had a lot of internal struggle too. but i had no idea how hotly the (online) christian single community would debate the 'gift' of singleness vs. the 'marriage mandate.'

personally, i see some of both sides. i agree that marriage is god's design for most of us. and i agree that a lot of us are kidding ourselves when we expect service, friends, careers, etc to fill our desires for a husband/wife.

but i see a dangerous slope, which i'm sure others have discussed. as a single person, it's really easy for me to be so focused on my situation that i lose site of my god and the gifts he's given me. is singleness a gift he's given me? well, yes, for right now it certainly is. i very much want to be married (so much so... i'm sure future posts will go into more detail about the tears i've cried and the stupid things i've done out of that wanting). but, right now, i'm single. and it is obvious to me that this is where god wants me. am i happy about it? not always, but i want to be.

am i open to dates? yes (to some extent, but that's another post). am i constantly trying to grow to become the kind of mate i hope to have someday? yes! (dear god, i have read so many books, tried so many things! ha.) BUT, i am also asking god why he has me here. why have i been single for so long? why do i have this feeling in my heart that i'm in this unique place of prolonged singleness for a reason? to quote a recent sermon i heard, maybe 'my misery is my ministry.' we'll see. again, perhaps more on that later.

all of that to say that it's a combination. yes, we live in a fallen world where men and women are failing each other all of the time. and yes, satan is attacking through secular culture and other assorted ways. yes, i mourn the fact that i am 28, still a virgin, and my body is starting to age. some things just suck! but, i can't give up. i have to hold on to hope. i have to believe that he has a plan. that:

'Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior."

(Habakkuk 3:17-18)

so that's what i think. care to comment?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

in a dark room with no door

a lot of times i feel like there are big chunks of the christian walk that are in the dark. or at least the details are. that whole 'trust god' thing. it's so frustrating sometimes.

being single for such a long time feels a lot like being in the dark. it's like i'm groping around inside a small, pitch black room looking for a light switch. i feel like i've been over every freaking inch of this room, but i can't find the stupid switch! or maybe the door handle; that might be a better metaphor. on some level, i know and believe that god will open the door when the time is right, but...

BUT. but sometimes it's so hard to trust! and what do i do in the meantime? like i said, i feel like i have been over every last inch of this room, and everything seems fine (except that i can't find the handle or the light switch!). sure it's dark, but from what i can feel, everything's kosher, ready for guests (or, a guest. of the male persuasion). i've racked my brain wondering what's wrong, what do i need to fix or change or learn to get the lights on and the door open? maybe nothing. maybe god just wants me to stop feeling around the room and freaking out and over-analyzing and just hang out with him for awhile. maybe he wants me to walk away from my questions and toward him.

i've spent a lot of time on questions and i've gone through some really bitter and frustrating times in the last 6 to 12 months. i focused on myself and on 'why me, lord?! what did i do to deserve this?! why am i still single?' i lost sight of god and his love for me, and i was miserable!

eventually i got sick of being bitter and cynical and miserable, and things started to change. maybe i'll post more on that process another time, but the shift started to happen when i admitted to god that i needed to trust him more. i admitted to him that, yeah, he knows better, and yeah he loves me very much, so why i am walking around thinking that i'm left out or forgotten or god wants to punish me?

once i shifted my focus back to him, the transforming of my heart started. i'm reading my bible more and spending more time with god. and i know it sounds so cliche, but the words are coming alive and i am wanting them imprinted on my heart. and i think this is exactly what my god wanted; me walking away from my question and toward him.

you're in the dark room with me, god. you have been all along. you called to me quietly while i tried every single thing and read every single book in my attempts to get out. you waited, sitting in the middle of the floor until i was so frustrated i gave up and came over and sat down next to you. and finally, i think i'm seeing that this is what i really want; to sit next to you in the dark with no other distractions. to just hang out and reconnect with you. to remember how much you love me and how fulfilling you are. and then, if the door opens and someone else comes in, great. if not, that's ok too. i trust you.

single/certain: me

i'm a christ follower in my late twenties. i'm female, taller than average, i like design, art, music videos, sparkling wines, and great jeans, among other things. i'm also single, and i have been for most of my adult life. when i say single, i mean, like, not in any kind of romantic relationship. i've had 2 relationships in my adult life; neither lasted more than about 3 or 4 months.

in spite of my singleness (well, probably because of my singleness) i've been a student of relationships since college. i've become the friend my other friends come to for advice, i'm the one recommending the latest relationship or christian psychology book, i'm the one suggesting that my married friends learn to fight fairly.

so that's a little bit of me.... but, why this blog? i've been yearning for a place for single people for a long time. a place where no one will tell us that we need to get married, or ask if we're seeing anyone. where our married friends won't try and set us up with anyone and everyone. where our friends won't secretly (or not so secretly) wonder what's wrong with us that we haven't found someone yet.

if you're single, i want you to know that you are ok just the way you are. that god loves you and has a plan for your life. you weren't forgotten, left out, or cosmically screwed over. there is a plan! maybe it involves meeting someone special soon, maybe not. maybe he wants to teach you things or prune things or give you something else special first. i don't know. but i do know that there is nothing wrong with you, and that you are not alone.

i'm not here to tell you exactly how to not be single anymore, or give you the formula for how to meet 'the one.' but i will share with you about my dating experiences, books i've read, my hopes and fears, and maybe even some of the really embarrassing stories about guys i've gone on dates with. (we'll see about that last one...)

i hope that by sharing my struggles and the things that god has been teaching me, it will help someone. i feel like i've learned a lot and learn more and more all the time. comment, ask questions, read away. shoot me emails, too, if you like. and know that i'm praying for you.