Those Who Are Called

 

those who are called (1)

“Now to the unmarried and widows I say this:  It is good for them to remain unmarried as I am.”  1 Corinthians 7:8

Oh Paul, if only it were that easy.

Paul didn’t have to answer to his Great Aunt Bessie at every family wedding, who lamented over whether or not he would ever find the right girl and settle down.   Paul didn’t have a mother who kept hounding him about making her a grandmother.  Paul wasn’t playing house at preschool, didn’t receive Wedding Day Barbie for Christmas.  He wasn’t surrounded by Bridal Magazines on every check out shelf, nor was he feeling like he was “always the groomsman, never the groom”.  No, Paul’s greatest concern here was that if you were tempted to give into your passions… then you should marry, otherwise stay single.

It was the cultural norm to be married, have kids.  There are even denominations that encourage large families because the man who has a full quiver of sons is blessed (Psalm 127:5).   I want to think that Paul experienced the cultural pressure of marriage and family, but he seemed so very confident in his singleness.  I look to our own culture today, and I see there is still this unwritten rule about our timeline of life.  We are kids, go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, become grandparents, retire.

I’ve never pressed this on my children, and yet I remember my middle child being completely shocked when I told her she wasn’t required to get married.  I thought to myself, where did she even get the idea that it was a requirement in the first place?  It’s such a cultural norm, and marketed in television and movies, that I didn’t even need to talk to her about marriage for her to think it was an expectation of adulthood.  Women are building up Pinterest folders full of wedding ideas, bridal shower suggestions, and reception decor.  We are not just dreaming of our future wedding, we are already planning it… down to the very last detail.

There are those who are called to a season of singleness, and those who are called to a lifetime of it.  For those who are in a season of singleness… it can seem like a really long season (such as Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth experienced).  You may feel like you are floating in the ocean watching others catching all the fish, while you net comes up empty.  You may even wonder if there are as many fish in the ocean as people keep claiming.  But do not be discouraged!

  • Pray that the Lord would guide you through this time (Psalm 94:19).  That He would not only give you peace, but also guard the mouths of those around you to be encouragers.  Pray that He filters the words of those who would discourage you from your hearing.
  • Don’t worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34), but instead focus on what God has called you to do today.  Stand in obedience to that and know that whatever blessings He has in store for you will come at His perfect timing. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
  • Look for single mentors, those women who have been walking this road ahead of you. Along with other single women desiring to live virtuously for Christ. Seek their wisdom and comfort. (Proverbs 1:5) We Recommend Joining VirtuousBella’s Community of Single Women living Virtuously for Christ and The Purity Pledge.
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  • Turn to the Scriptures and let your desires be transformed into His desires (Matthew 6:33), you may find as you grow in this area that you become more confident about your singleness, like Paul was.

 

You’re Kind of Pretty

I was in high school, going through one of those phases where it seems like “everyone has a boyfriend but you”.  I was tired of being home alone when my friends went on dates.  I was over and done with being the third wheel on outings.  I didn’t understand why I was not on anyone’s radar.  Even to the point where none of my friend’s boyfriends were thinking of introducing me to their friend.  I didn’t get it.

One night, I was watching my friend finish up her hair and make up.  I was third wheeling it, once again.  I cried out in lament, “What is wrong with me?  Why can’t I get just ONE date?”; tossing myself on her bed in the most dramatic way possible.  My friend, of about 12 years at that point, said:

I really don’t know.  You’re kind of pretty.

Kind of.

Certainly not the encouragement one would hope for from her best friend.  Nor was it followed up with any sort of help either.  If she told me that I dressed like a hobo or needed to talk about something other than unicorn collectible figurines… that would be something.  But nothing.  End of sentence.  Back to hair styling and lipstick.

Kind of pretty.

I knew that in a sea of sun-kissed blondes, in S. Florida, I was an oddity.  Porcelain skin and fiery red hair sticks out like a sore thumb around these parts.  I had never considered that I wasn’t attractive at all, or not fun to be around.  I had loads of guys as friends.  But, my dance card remained empty.

In this time of being alone, I learned a few things.  I watched my friends navigating in and out of relationships.  I began to get a better idea of what I did and didn’t want out of a relationship.  I also learned something about my friends, as I watched each of them alter their personality to fit the interests of their new beaus.

He likes country music, she likes country music.  He is into deep sea fishing, she is into deep sea fishing.  He loves Mountain Dew… oh my gosh, so does she.  Music preferences changed by the month.  How the girls dressed and what fashion trends they followed created a mountain of clothes hiding in their closets and spilling out their drawers.  I also watched these same girls being ultra conservative with the guys they picked up at youth group, and then wearing next to nothing when it was the guy they met at the beach.  In order to stay in relationships and never be single, these girls were compromising their “true self”… all of the time.

I learned in my season of drought, that I needed to be true to myself.  I needed to really figure out who I was, what I wanted out of life, and where I was heading before I could even consider who would becoming along for the ride.  If I don’t really understand myself, how could I ever find my place in a relationship?  How could a relationship be built on honesty and commonality if I transformed myself at every flash of a cute smile or twinkling in a casual eye wink?

On an even deeper level, I realized that the relationship I wanted to focus on most was between myself and God.  If I was going to conform to anyone, I wanted to conform to His image (Romans 8:29).  I needed to embrace the way He knit me in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), and the very hairs on my head that He knew the count of (Luke 12:7).  And so, I began to make new decisions.

I would stop dying my hair to hide the fiery locks that He chose for me.  No more bottles of various temporary tan lotions would scatter my bathroom.  The time to stop wallowing over boys was upon me.  I was going to choose to focus on all the wonderful things about being single.  From not having to share my popcorn and drink at the movies, nor having to worry about someone stealing fries off my plate.  I didn’t have to worry about what activities WE could afford to do, but what I could afford to do.  I learned to be brave and go places by myself.

I can assemble furniture, change the oil in my car, get a quote on home repairs, and so much more.  It wasn’t that I didn’t “need a man”, but rather that I became more comfortable with myself until the right man came along.  I was no longer on the hunt, but living life to the fullest.  I have great memories of that drought season, and that independence has served me well even in my marriage today.  I am great helper to my husband because he can count on me to do so many things in his absence.  I was exactly the kind of woman he needed in his life.

The season of drought allowed me to figure out who God wanted me to be, and to travel those roads.  I had no idea, that at the very same time, God was working on the heart of a guy who was among our circle of friends.  In this same time that I was figuring out my way, the Lord was changing him from a boy into a man.  One night, many years later, hanging out as a group like we had always done… something was different.  These two familiar faces were suddenly being seen in a new light.

Less than a year later we were married.  That was twenty years ago.

We tend to think of droughts as bad, negative forces.  However, for the wetlands, droughts are wonderful news.  It actually allows the land to rejuvenate itself, the old becomes new again.  Now when I feel like I am in a dry spell, I embrace it as a time to rejuvenate myself.  Whether the dry season is related to relationships (romantic or friendship), your career, or even your ministry calling… droughts allow us to focus on God and His purposes.  Lean in to Him, to be the living waters in a dry land.  Lean into Him, to cleanse the dust from your heart.  Allow Him to work IN you, rejuvenating you from the inside out.

Loving the Lonely

lovingthelonely

 

Confession time, ladies! Sometimes I feel the most alone when in the midst of the most people. (*Cue gasps and shocked faces*!)

I’m just being honest! You probably know how I feel. Like when the whole family is together (aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers-in-law, etc.), and you’re sitting awkwardly in the corner. A little nagging feeling starts somewhere near your heart and spreads out through the rest of your body. How is it fair that they all have someone to share this with and you’re just sitting there alone in a corner? A CORNER, for heaven’s sake!

You may think I’m being a little dramatic, and maybe I am, but it’s pretty close to the truth. The thing is, you and I aren’t the first ones to feel this way.

“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.”

Psalm 25:16-18

Okay, if even David felt alone from time to time, I think we’re in good company here. It’s human nature to want to share life with someone, and when everyone has a ‘someone’ and you don’t, it can get hard to take. Don’t get me started on grandparents and their constant questions about my relationship status!

Loneliness can feel all-consuming and even leave an empty feeling inside, but you don’t have to feel that way. You’re never really alone if you think about it. The Bible says the following about that:

“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20b

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

So, boom! Right there. You’ve got God right next to you the whole time. Your argument is invalid.

But I get it. You want someone you can see, feel, touch, and talk to. You want a physical human being. I get that, too. I’m the same way. We “waiters” tend to feel an acute sense of loss because we haven’t found our gain yet.

So here’s an idea, and one I use all the time if we’re being honest. (Which we are.) Write a letter.

Stop laughing, I’m serious! I have a whole collection of them so far. I’ve titled them “The Darcy Letters,” which is a story best told some other time when I have more time and word to say it. Basically, when I feel that lonely feeling, when I want someone to share something with me and don’t have them yet, I write a letter to my future husband.

Yes, I am aware I don’t know who he is yet, but that doesn’t stop me from sharing these moments with him via letters. I plan to one day give these to my fiance and allow him a look into my life before he came alone. Tip: Keep them upbeat and positive. We’re not trying to depress our fellas.

In review: everyone feels lonely sometimes. You’re really not alone in that. You CAN take control of your feelings, and you CAN do something about it. Don’t let loneliness define your life. Let love work it all back around to complete you.

I love all you lonely “waiters” out there! Don’t feel alone, be strong and stick together!

What Defines You?

what-defines-you

What defines your worth?

It’s a real question, isn’t it? One I’ve been asking myself lately, as I learn more and more about who I am in Christ. I’ve chewed on it and rolled it around in my brain until I thought I couldn’t think on it anymore.

It led me to a second question:

Why do I assume I’m not likable/attractive?

Yeah, I’ve dealt with those feelings for a long time now. What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I feel like anyone will ever find me pretty? You know what, that’s a great question! I puzzled over it again and again until God finally pulled up one specific memory. I’ll give you the basics.

I was 11, maybe 12 (a very impressionable age), and not the prettiest flower in the meadow. My other friends were. Anyway, I was sitting in the church foyer during a wedding reception, talking to these two guys who were supposed to be my friends. (Keep in mind, these are junior high boys.)

Basically, the air had broken and in the middle of July, that’s not the best scenario. So I may have mentioned something about my being hot. Being juvenile boys, they took it and ran, insisting that I wasn’t. Meaning they didn’t think I was even remotely pretty.

It’s taken a lot for me to get over the hurt of this memory. For years, those three little words haunted me. “No, you’re not.” I let them stew inside my head, and I let them define what I thought other people would think of me. Because of those juvenile boys, who probably didn’t even realize the damage they were doing, told me I wasn’t pretty, I chose to believe it for almost ten long years.

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that they were being idiots, and I don’t need their confirmation of facts I already know. Neither do you.

Let me show me something.

“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had good plans for you…”

Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG)

If God knew you before you were even born, don’t you think His plans are perfect? Don’t you think He knew what you would look like, how you would sound, what your style would become? He put those things in you. He has good plans for you! And that’s not all.

“Oh, yes, You shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank You, High God-You’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration-what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body…”

Psalm 139:13-15 (MSG)

He knows you, inside and out. He made you! He knows every bone in your body. He knew what you would look like when He formed you, and God doesn’t make mistakes. He made you perfect!

I know you may not believe it now (even I have a hard time believing it sometimes), but to someone out there, some day, you will be the very thing they’ve been searching for all their life. To God, you’re already perfect. To that future someone, you’ll be perfect too! Everyone has different ideas about perfection, and despite the fact that you might sometimes feel like a failure, you’re not.

Don’t let the mean girls of this world define you. There will always be a voice trying to tell you that you’re not good enough. Don’t listen! The Voice above all other voices says “you’re perfect.” He leans down and whispers, “I made you, and I won’t leave you. I’m not going anywhere, and I’ll always look after you. You. Are. Mine.”

Why do we feel we need to go anywhere else to find our true worth? The One who created worth wants to hold you. Forever.

While I’m Waiting

While I wait

 

Waiting is hard. I know that you know that, we can all agree on that. No one wants to wait. In fact, we live in an “I want it now” society where they tell us we don’t have to wait. You want food fast? Plenty of restaurants are willing to accommodate you.  Do you want a relationship? Plenty of fish in the pond, boo!

Unfortunately, that’s where the world gets it wrong. Half the journey is experienced in the waiting. That’s why I’ve decided to explain to you, today, why I have chosen to wait instead of date.

Let me show you a few things I’ve been learning from scripture before we delve into that particular sore subject.

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength…”

Isaiah 40:31a

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the souls who seek Him.”

Lamentations 3:25

“Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Psalm 27:14

All these have come up in the past week during my regular devotional time with God. I’m a firm believer that the entire Bible is God’s word to me, and if He keeps bringing up the same thing over and over again, you’d better believe I’m going to stand up and listen to what He’s trying to tell me.

Did you know that in over half the scriptures that tell us to wait, or be patient, or let God’s timing prevail, that they tell us to “be brave and have courage”? Even God knows that waiting is hard.

So, with that in mind, let me show you a few more things that helped me decide to wait, not date. I hope they’ll help you make a decision one way or another, too.

First off, let me start by pointing out God’s original design for man and woman. Eve didn’t go searching for a man. God created her specifically for one man, and he brought her straight to him. Genesis says that God looked at Adam and said, “It is not good for man to be alone, I will make him a helper comparable to him.” He didn’t “try out” fifteen women before he landed on Eve. God brought them together, and they stayed that way.

Next, I’d like to introduce you to Proverbs 18:22

“But he who finds a WIFE finds a good thing, and receives favor from the Lord.”

(emphasis, my own)

First, let me point out that it isn’t the woman finding a man here. It’s the man finding a woman. And, yeah, that might seem like an outdated concept to you, but I firmly believe God is still in the business of bringing the right people together.

Secondly, I would like to point out that it doesn’t say “he who finds a girlfriend.” In fact, the Hebrew doesn’t even have a word for “girlfriend”. God’s original design for relationships was for them to last forever. “Casual dating” only teaches people that they can back out of a relationship if they have to work too hard.

So, yes, waiting is hard. The good stuff always is. Think about when you were a kid, and you had to wait for a batch of cookies. Didn’t they taste that much better because you waited?

Who cares if it’s not the norm? We left normal in the dust the instant we turned to Christ. Isn’t it better to wait and not have all that emotional baggage when you find THE ONE? (Or, rather, when he finds you?)

I still believe in true love. I still believe God will bring me the perfect mate. Yes, I am still waiting and yes, it is still so hard. I’m human. I have wants, desires, and urges that only get stronger as I get older.

Guys, I’m going, to be honest here. I’ve never even been kissed. I want so badly to know what that feels like. But I’m going to wait on God’s timing. I’m going to wait for that one guy that I will spend the rest of my life with. You know why?

Because…

“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Psalm 27:13-14