Lessons To My Younger Self-Part 4

LessonsPerson

Pursue Wholeness Not Formulas

(To read the first part of the series, go to Part 1Part 2, Part 3.)

Every couple has a different story.

  • Some people met their spouse while they were steeped in sin.
  • Others met “the one” when they became more active in church.
  • Some met their intended, one year after the date they wrote a prayer of surrender in their journal.

What am I trying to say?

You will find love when you are looking for it, but you may find it when you’re not.  You may find love when you are living at your best, but God may allow you to meet your spouse when you are at your worst.

There is no formula.

To clarify, I don’t think that people are trying to be glib when they give advice. In fact, most are trying to be helpful. However, I think people speak from their experiences or they speak phrases that they’ve heard others say and then try to apply those generalities to the single people in their lives.

So…what am I trying to say?

Be whole.  Be a whole person.

Pursue the Lord. Pursue your passions. Form friendships with people of the same sex and people of the opposite sex. Pursue friendships with people who are married and people who are single. And yes, if you don’t feel called to singleness (whether for a season or a lifetime), look for opportunities to increase activities where you can interact with like-minded people.

In all your ways acknowledge Him. Learn to believe in the goodness of God when times are good and when times are hard.  But in those times of hardship, know that God has compassion for you. And know that you are not meant to carry life’s burden by yourself. (Galatians 6:2)

Life is a journey, but regardless of your relationship status, learn to live daily for the glory of God.
And that, my friends, are the lessons that I would tell my younger self.

CS Woman

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Lessons To My Younger Self-Part 3

LessonsPerson

 

(To read the first part of the series, go to Part 1, Part 2.)

Serve Christ. Period.

Regardless of whether you are married or single, God may call you to church ministry, to volunteer, become a professional break dancer, etc. The possibilities are endless. 🙂

However, when it comes to singles, a number of us are encouraged to see this time as an opportunity for undistracted service to the Lord.  This idea is true and it’s biblical, but pointing out this truth may actually cause singles to focus on the wrong thing.

I am called to follow and serve Christ not because I am single.  I am called to serve Him because I am a Christ follower.  If my singleness allows me to serve in a different capacity than the married couples around me, that’s great, but my singleness should not be the motivation for my service.

Overall, I wish more people would have encouraged me to serve God. Period.

So that’s my challenge to you. Today, how is God asking you to serve?

To be continued…Part 4

Lessons To My Younger Self-Part 2

LessonsPerson

(To read the first part of the series, go to Part 1.)

Pursuing A Romantic Relationship And Pursuing Christ Are Not Mutually Exclusive

If you are an adult, there’s a pretty good chance that you have a sex drive. And there’s a pretty good chance that you have longed for a romantic relationship.

Your sex drive and your desire for romance are not inherently evil. They are not entities that need to be feared or feverishly suppressed in some way.  They are biological drives that are a part of God’s design.  For sure, we can choose to sin when it comes to our sex drives and our dating choices.  But our capacity for romance is not the problem.

Over the years, I’ve heard a number of Christian leaders say things that have implied that you can’t follow Christ and date at the same time. So instead, they’ve encouraged people to focus primarily on Christ during their single years.

But here’s the thing, I think we can fall into a trap when we start to treat dating and romance with a “one size fits all” mentality.  To paraphrase the designer Tom Ford- [One-size fits all, doesn’t fit anyone well].

For teenagers who are not of marrying age, it may make sense to encourage them to focus their energy away from serious relationships.  Because in the words of my former youth pastor, “You will either breakup or get married.” (Most 16 year-olds are not ready for marriage, for them, stirring up passionate desires may lead to sexual sin.)

However, it can be argued that for a person who is in their 20’s (and beyond), marriage may be a practical outlet for the sex drive and romantic desires.

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:6

Instead of telling adult singles blanket statements such as

  • Take a year off from dating.
  • Pursue Jesus, not romance.

Why not encourage us to acknowledge Him in all our ways?

What does this look like?

1. Spend time reading the Bible.

If I want to live a godly life, then I need to find out how God wants me to live my life. There’s no better way to do that than by spending consistent time reading the bible. (I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11) *If you’d like tips on how to study the Bible check out a recent post here.

2. Spend time in prayer.

Specifically when it comes to relationships, if there is someone that you are interested in, ask God for discernment.  But be willing to listen and obey-even if the answer is not what you want to hear.

3. Develop a community. 

Find people who will be honest with you.

Find people who are willing to encourage you when you make great decisions. And find people who are  also willing to tell you when you make lousy ones.

All that to say… if you acknowledge God in all your ways, you may come to the conclusion that you need to take a break from dating.

-Or-

You may come to the conclusion that God is leading you to pursue or accept a romantic relationship with the godly person you’ve been praying about.

Another two Cents:

I think one of the reasons that some people discourage singles from dating is because they have seen or experienced some very painful relationships. But my question would be, in those situations, did the two people involved seek to acknowledge God in all their ways? Were they seeking to glorify God in their actions and words or were they caught up in the thrill of romance?

And another thing- I truly believe that if we acknowledge Christ, He will guide us. In my experience, God has made it clear to me when a relationship was not in His will.

I’ve come to this realization…

  • because after getting to know the other person, I realized that we didn’t share the same values or life goals.
  • because my friends and family expressed concerns and reservations.
  • because I didn’t have a peace.

Real Life Example:

There was a time when I was dating a godly guy, but I kept feeling like I needed to end the relationship. The feeling became so strong that I ended up telling my boyfriend that I needed a week of separation.  During that time, I prayed about the relationship. After the week was over, I knew I needed to break things off. In hindsight, I know that decision was a good one, but at the time, it was hard to let that relationship go.

Again, I believe that God will direct us on how we should live our lives. The tricky part is will we listen?  Will we obey Christ when it is easy and when it’s hard?

To be continued…Part 3

Lessons To My Younger Self-Part 1

LessonsPerson

Every so often I reach out to friends and family to see if they will share their stories on my blog. When I do, I often ask them to share lessons of what they wish they had known in regards to relationships.

This time, I’m going to direct that question to myself.

Over the last few months, I’ve come to some realizations that I wished I had learned earlier in life.  If I had, perhaps I would not have struggled with my singleness so much when I was younger.

You Are Physically Attractive And Attraction Is Not Just About Sexual Desire

Sound familiar? These principles are from the recent blog posts- Laws of Attraction: Let’s Get Practical Part 1, Part 2.

I’m introspective, analytical, and I often draw conclusions based on the information/circumstances around me.  This analytical personality can be beneficial, but sometimes the conclusions that I’ve come to are based on false assumptions.

A false assumption that I’ve been holding onto for years is…

Men pursue attractive women. Therefore if a man is not pursuing me, I am not attractive.

I am not a “serial dater”. In fact my romantic calendar has been somewhat blank.  Although, I know that one’s worth is not found in a multitude of admirers. I would be lying to say that I don’t want male attention. And at times, the lack of Christian suitors has been a blow to my pride.

Side note:

And it doesn’t help that more often than not, the men who’ve been the most aggressive about their intentions, have been non-Christians.

(The whole issue of Christian-friendship-dating-ambiguity is another topic for another day…a future post. However, as a woman who’s been on the receiving end of said ambiguity, the experience can be frustrating.)

-But-

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that attraction is more than an equation of pleasing symmetry and harmonious parts…physical beauty. It’s a little more complicated than that.

I wished that I had realized that sooner.

I wished that I had realized that a man’s lack of interest wasn’t due to my lack of physical beauty, witty conversation, or whatever.  If I had realized that attraction is complex, I probably wouldn’t have taken “rejection” so personally.

So, if you find yourself in a circumstance of unrequited affection, try not to take it personally.  Just because someone is not pursuing you or isn’t romantically attracted to you, doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.

Contentment Is Not The Absence Of Desire

Single people come from a variety of backgrounds.

  • Some are young, old, have children, etc.
  • Some singles are very happy with their “relationship status”, but others struggle…

For those who struggle, we’re often told that we should be content in whatever state we find ourselves.  But what does that mean?

For many years I thought the following was true:

Being a content single means that you will no longer desire (or struggle with the desire) to be married and/or have children.

I no longer believe that this is what it means to be content.

I believe that being content means to believe in the sovereignty and the goodness of God no matter your circumstances. Sometimes those circumstances are pleasant and other times they are painful.  And singleness is sometimes painful.

Pain is not necessarily bad. In fact there will always be some measure of tension when we long for something we do not have.  And many times God uses that tension to refine us.

Consider, when it comes to music, sometimes the most beautiful moments in a musical piece is a moment of dissonance- a clashing or unresolved musical interval or chord merriam-webster . Just like in music, sometimes the most beautiful moments of life can be a season of- clashing or unresolved desires.

I’ve spent a lot of unnecessary energy trying to resolve or take away the dissonance of my singleness.  However, I’m not sure that God was asking me to resolve my dissonance. Instead, I’m learning how to live in and embrace the dissonance.

I’m learning how to surrender in the midst of an unresolved desire.

So, if you are a single person who struggles with your singleness, it’s okay that you struggle. Your mission is not to eradicate that sensation, but instead embrace the dissonance.  Let that struggle refine you.

That being said, if you find yourself becoming bitter and resentful, don’t struggle alone.  Find someone-a counselor, a mentor, friends, etc. to help  you walk to a place of wholeness.

And realize that this struggle is a journey. It’s not a fixed moment in time, a life altering decision. It’s a day to day decision to believe in the sovereignty and goodness of God whether you are in a state of pleasure or pain.

To be continued…Part 2

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