Friday, January 29, 2010

singleness [part 4]: the fight...

continued from the post... singleness [part 3]: the deep rooted fears...

after i realized my deep rooted fears, i confessed them to the lord and to a couple close friends. i had never openly and with such rawness confessed my fears.  i actually never wanted to admit that i believed some of that. i was too busy trying to look like i have it together.  but the lord forced me to do it and once i did and i began processing,  i actually could truthfully admit that i would be okay being single for the rest of my life if that was the story the lord had written for me. and for the first time ever, i meant it and was actually at peace about it.  i believe that i can be single and not just get by in life, but that i can have life and have it abundantly.  abundant life is not dependent on marriage, contrary to what i have always thought.   if i end up being single for the rest of my life, i do not have to live a weird cat lady life and be miserable.  i still have the promise of abundant life in christ! 

and since i have begun to let go of my marriage idol, i have really begun to experience this abundant life. it is like a weight has been lifted.  i am not constantly analyzing things or having to worry about putting myself out there.  i don't have to worry about saying the exact right thing to get his attention.  i trust that if the lord has someone for me, he has written how it will come about and it does not depend on me doing everything right.  this has been a huge burden lifted!

so if i am content with being single, am i called to be single for the rest of my life?  maybe. but as i said in my first post on this matter, i have not discerned a direct call to be single from god for the rest of my life. he has not revealed that to me.   i still think guys are cute and would like to be married to one.  but through this journey, i have felt him calling me to be content with where he has me and quit lusting for something else. more than being content with being single, i have felt him calling me to be content with him. anything that i have to say "i love you lord, but i really need _______ to be happy and fulfilled," is an idol. be it marriage, money, kids, sex, a job, or whatever.  i have heard many women say that even once you are married, the lack of contentment does not go away, it just changes shape. it takes on the form of little humans or big houses.  so more than worrying about the semantics of being called to be single, i long to be content with my savior and my god. marriage, kids, a house, a job, etc none of them are the end all in life - MY LORD IS!

now, just because i have learned this, does not mean that being content in christ is not a fight. for me it is a daily fight. there are good days and bad days. i need people around me to point me to christ and to the truth. i cannot fight this battle alone.  i need people to remind me that christ and his glory are my end all in life and nothing else. in fact, i am going to need you to remind me when i am 38 and single or 48 and single that i have abundant life in christ and that i lack no good thing!  it is a fight to not try and find my contentment in anything here on earth. but the effort is worth the end, because everything else has left me wanting!
"oh, taste and see that the lord is good! blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! oh fear the lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! the young lions suffer want and hunger; but those tho seek the lord lack no good thing." psalm 34:8-10
 here are some of the practical things i do and boundaries i put in place to fight this discontentment:
  • i make an effort to focus on the lord, his character, his goodness, his power, his control, etc.  i need to constantly be reminded of who he is.  then enemy likes to pull the eve trick on me and get me doubt or question. i have discovered that the key to abstaining from sin is not discipline or will power (though i am good at those).  the key is to keep learning about my glorious god.  the more i know about him, the more i learn that he truly is more satisfying than anything else.
  • i spend a lot of time in the word, reading it and trying to memorize it. (well now that i admitted that, you can hold me accountable). everything here is fleeting and will pass away, but god's word will stand forever (1 peter).  the word is how god reveals himself to me so if i am trying to get to know him more, then i need to be in it. and it is very helpful to know it when the enemy comes lurking around.
  • in addition to focusing on the lord, it has been helpful for me to abstain from some things.  i am so careful as to what  TV and movies i watch. most dramas and chick flicks make me long for husband.  most of them also paint a VERY unrealistic of what a relationship should be like. so i stick to comedies and action movies.  
  • i also have to be careful to not let my thoughts wander. i am not sure if i am the only one, but i can look at a guy and in 5 seconds i have pictured our life together, wedding, house, kids and all. then i can dwell in that dream world forever and no one knows about.  i like to stay in that dream world, because it is what i want and it is seemingly better than the reality i live in.  but that is sin. that dream world is basically telling god, "what you have for me here is not good enough. i would rather be here." so i work hard to not let my mind wander.  if i catch it, i try to start praying or dwelling on scripture.  this is the hardest one to change because no one else knows when i am doing it.
  • i also try to limit my time wandering around on facebook, checking up on any potential guys and their pictures and their life.  this is again a complete waste of time and only add fuel to my desire to be married.
  • i also try and limit my conversations about guys. not because i want to be secretive, but because i do not need anyone's help to think about a guy. and when everyone starts talking about it or how cute he is, how much he loves jesus, etc. i am done.  i now justify my dream world by saying my friends think he is great too.
  • i do my best to get out of the waiting mindset. it is SO easy for me to just get caught up in waiting until i get married.  my life does not begin with marriage. the lord has things for me to do now.  i need to look around and be vested in where he has me and quit waiting for this possible future
 so ya, there is my heart on singleness.  please feel free to add comments about how you fight discontentment in whatever you struggle with.  also, feel free to ask me how i am doing or if you catch me distracted, please point me to christ! i am going to need it.  i would be a fool to think that this battle is over.

singleness [part 3]: the deep rooted fears...

continued from the post... singleness [part 2]: the idol revealed...

as i have learned to trust the lord more, i finally became okay with examining why i was so afraid of being single.  there are two main fears that lie behind my inability to be content with singleness.

fear # 1: something is wrong with me
there has to be a reason i am not married, so something must be wrong with me.  perhaps i am just not ready or i am too independent. socially awkward. unattractive. too strong. you name it, it has crossed my mind.  this lie that something is wrong with me is self-imposed but fed quite regularly by the enemy and compounded with promised solutions in the world. some times it can be fed by those around me who treat me differently because i am not married and cannot understand their life.  sometimes, i feel like just a young kid waiting to grow up and be an adult.  my friends have all spun the wheel in the game of life successfully and i am still one pink peg in the station wagon waiting for my turn. to add even more doubt, there are others who love me but who feel sorry for me and want to know why i am not married.  i begin to ask that same question and my only answer is that something has got to be wrong with me. this of course is not true.

the correct answer to why i am not married is that god has not written this as part of my plan.  but that is too scary and out of my control because what if is never part of my story?????? so i will refuse to believe it and come up with tangible solutions that i can do something about.  but over the last few months the lord has been chipping away at this fear.  i had to admit it first and quit trying to fix it on my own.  he has shown me that in him, i lack no good thing!  that his spirit resides in me.  that though i have flaws and many things to work on, he is refining me.  that i am fully loved and accepted by him, not because he feels sorry for me, but because he has chosen me!  i am his beloved!!  and for the first time in my life, i found that more satisfying that the affirmation of another person. that i was normal, a sinner, but not some weird person beyond being loved. 

fear #2: i am missing something huge in life...
as i continued searching through my fears, i realized that i still held marriage as some magical end all in life.  that if i did not get married i was going to miss out on something so big that it would be detrimental to me and my life experience. that my desires would never be fulfilled and i would be in want for the rest of my single/miserable existence.  yes, of course i will miss out on certain experiences if i never get married (sex being number one on the list), but the lord has been faithful to show me that he will satisfy all of my desires, even physical desires.  i had heard this before, but i always thought the people that said it were weirdos. however, i have actually found it to be true.  when i trust in him, delight in him, and fear him, i will lack no good thing and he will indeed satisfy me.

the thing that makes this hard to believe is that he does not always satisfy my desires with what i want or in the way i want.  since things do not go down as i thought they would, i panic and fear that god will not come through and i will always be lacking something.  i forget the scriptures and the promises he has made to me in his word. i refuse to believe them because they are not coming true the way i want or in a way i can see.

so the root of this fear, is that i do not believe in my heart that the lord will take care of me and that he is indeed enough apart from his blessings. that he loves me, that he can satisfy my desires, etc. so rather than trusting, i hold onto this idea of marriage as the end all - half looking for god to satisfy my desires and half looking and hoping they will be satisfied in a man.  all of this is of course under the mask of delighting myself in the lord.

so how do i fight these fears?

to be continued...

singleness [part 2]: the idol revealed...

continued from the post ... singleness:how do i feel about it...

i have and serve a marriage idol.
i have held marriage as in idol in my life.  it is something that we are trained to want from the time we are young. i think it starts with disney. :) to be happy and to live a fulfilling life, you grow up and get married. this is how it works and this is the goal. for as long as i can remember, this has been on my radar. but as i have gotten older, rather than just hoping for it, i have found myself grasping for it.  questioning why the lord has not brought it to me yet and then rather than trusting him, i resort to my own solutions. "be more approachable." "dress this way." "be skinnier." "be funnier." "you are too picky." "put yourself out there more." etc. and when marriage didn't happen, i would just move on to the next solution becoming more and more enslaved to my idol.

now, because being discontent with god is a sin and because i wanted people to think i was fine, i would cover this idol with spiritual things and twist verses like:
"delight yourself in the lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." psalm 37:4

"to the unmarried and the widows i say that it is good for them to remain single as i am. but if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. for it is better to marry than to burn with passion."  1 corinthians 7:8-9
i would try to make god into my genie or force him into letting me marry.  of course,  i completely believe that these verses are true, and i believe that my god wants to give me good things and bless me, but he was also quick to show me what was wrong with my motives.  if i am completely honest, most of the time, i am not delighting in the lord and who he is (like i was proclaiming).  rather i am delighting myself in the idea of godly marriage and using him to get it. though i would never admit it, my desire to be married exceeded my desire for the lord and i held marriage as the end all.  i would be happier or more fulfilled if only i had that. and that, my friends, is called idolatry. and as far as that verse about burning with passion, well the lord basically told me that through his spirit i have self-control, so i needed to quit making excuses.

i have faked being content with singleness many times.  there have been some times in life where i have been close, but i have never been able to fully let go and believe that i was going to be okay, until recently.  so to fake this contentment, i have explained it away.  i have made excuses for the lord keeping me single for quite some time. i would say things like, "i am so glad the lord has me single right now so i can do this ministry or these things.  i would not be able to if i was married." this is completely true, but i was just using them to cover my greatest fear. i did not really believe them and i was for sure not able to rejoice in the gift of singleness.  occasionally, i even allowed myself to think i was somehow better because i was single. i had to endure more than those that were married. i basically was just making a martyr of myself.

this has helped hold me over and at times i actually meant it, but the truth is, i was far from content. i found comfort in these spiritual excuses. i needed something to make myself feel better as my friends and women i walked with or even discipled got married and and started having kids.  but clearly this was not the answer to my problem.  though i have used these techniques for years, i finally gave in and started examining this great fear of mine.  why was i so terrified?

to be continued...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

singleness: how do i feel about it...

"when thy blessings come i begin to idolize them, and set my affection on some beloved object." - a cry for deliverance from the valley of vision
so the more i talk about this adoption, the more i get the question, "so have you just resigned to be single?" or "so i guess you feel called to singleness?"  i have breezed over these questions with a quick "no" as if they are no big deal, but the real truth is that it has struck a chord with one of my greatest fears: being alone. the last few days i have actually taken time to write down and journal all of my thoughts and fears about this very subject.  and because i like to share what i learn, you as a blog world will get to read about it.  rather than one long post, i decided for the sake of your eyes to break it up into a series. 

called to singleness? or content with singleness?
i do not feel a specific call to singleness, at least not yet.  do i believe i would survive if i never got married? yes. do i desire to get married? oh yes! do i still analyze each guy i connect with to see if we could be a match?  yes (been doing this since like 6th grade).  i think i have always been afraid to admit that i was content being single or that i could be content being single.  there was this fear within me that as soon as i admitted that i was content or that i would be okay being single, god was going to say, "ah ha! finally i gotcha! single forever you shall remain and you will like it."  i know that this is not how god works, but i still had this fear.  if i was content, i mean really content, being single then he was going to make me stay single forever.

so i could never say that i was content with being single.  and in reality i don't think that until recently i have been.  being married is how i have always pictured my life. if i held the pen to write my life story, i would be 28, married and have at least one kid (preferably a little boy with blond curly hair named jakin)  not yet driving a mini van, but thinking about having a second kid.  however that is not my reality. my lord holds the pen to my story and in his plan and infinite wisdom, i am 28 and single, hoping to adopt on my own in the next year or so. and i think for the first time in my life, i am actually content with where i am. and i mean that.  how did i arrive at this place? the lord was tired of me kicking and screaming for something rather than him and so he began to show me what was in my heart.

to be continued...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

cowboys vs. eagles...

my dad scored 4 tickets to the cowboy game awhile back. we knew it was going to be fun because the eagles are a rival team, but we had no idea so much was going to be on the line. dad, jon, christina and i all headed to arlington for the big game! it was awesome to watch the cowboys dominate with 100,621 other people.  jerryworld is quite the experience itself!  that building is incredible!! and that jumbotron, well it is just freakin' huge. i was in awe! in fact at one point it went out, for whatever reason and the stadium got darker.

i only hope the cowboys can repeat this victory next week.

Monday, January 4, 2010

deuteronomy 1-11 [intro]...

so, once the lord let me rest physically and got my attention and pushed me to repentance, that is when the sweetest time began.  there were several days where i was able to spend time reflecting on this past year. it was such sweet worship!! i know i have said it before, but there is nothing like taking time to reflect on the lord's faithfulness in your life, especially when times are tough or you feel distant from him. many tears where shed as i reflected over this past year.

before you get to thinking that i did this reflection on my own because i am so spiritual, it did not.  in my bible reading plan, i just happened to be in deuteronomy 1-11.  the lord used moses' speeches here to teach me much, including the reminder to remember what he has done and to take care lest i forget.  this was also coupled with the kick in the pants i received from ronnie smith in his message on sunday.

i spent the rest of the week REAPing through these chapters and reflecting and repenting and giving thanks.  the next few blogs will be the result of this time.

too busy, too crazy, and i didn't even know it...

i have always been one who is prone to be busy, on-the-go, non-stop, always moving, going 100 miles an hour, saying, "i'll sleep when i am dead."  i know this is not good. and there are all kinds of reasons that i do it [savior complex, need for approval, working for the lord -but really working for my name, the need to control, poor time management, the inability to say no, etc]. i did not realize that i was in the midst of another martha spell until this break.

i knew something was up when the doc made a comment about my stress affecting my diabetes, but i didn't feel stressed.  then she said, "well maybe you just have been functioning at that level for so long that you don't even realize it is stressful."  i knew it was something worth looking into, but i had no time.

well, day two of my restful reflection time.  i sat down to open up the word and just felt the lord calling me to just pray for awhile. so i did. or should i say, i tried, but i could not focus or wind down.  so i picked up my trusty copy of the valley of vision and opened her up.  the first prayer i came to was about prayer and so i started to read it and immediately started weeping. i was in a section of prayers all about prayer so i kept reading one after another. 

i just heard the lord say loud and clear, "hey you are too busy! you are not connecting with me and you can't even sit and pray to me because your mind is in a million places. how can you run at this pace and do all of this without any thought of me, without relying on my wisdom, strength and protection?" so i put down the valley of vision and spent some time in quiet prayer and meditation, something i want to do more often, i need to do more often in 2010. it took me awhile to wind down, but it was sweet. then i felt the lord leading me to reread the practice of the presence of god.

when i read this book 6 months ago, i was super excited.  how far i have drifted from that!  i have been too tired and too busy to dwell on him and commune with him. rather than seeking every opportunity to be with him, i was almost intentionally tuning him out and ignoring him under the excuse of exhaustion and just needing to mentally check out. i have missed being still and knowing that he is god. meditating on his word and his greatness. claiming his truth and his promises. and just talking with him throughout my entire day.  i have forgotten that there is a battle going on and that there is another team seeking to destroy us.  i have not been fighting on my knees.  no wonder i have been tired!! no wonder i have had trouble trusting him, wanting to control things, and being frustrated with him.  i have missed him! i have only been doing enough to get by. 

oh when will i learn and quit repeating these patterns.  thank you lord for your grace and for waking me up out of this crazed stupor i have been living in! you are so good to me and i am ever grateful for you!

lack of trust = frustration [again] part 2...

this blog post is a prayer straight out of my journal.  after my encounter with the lord described in the previous blog, i re-read "reproofs" and "humiliation" from the valley of vision and this was my prayer. 

forgive me for just so flippantly coming before you. for being almost apathetic in my time with you, just wanting to get it done. lord forgive me for taking for granted the fact that you came to be with us and that i can approach the throne of grace with confidence. lord thank you for your grace, though i take it for granted all the time. thank you for speaking to me and revealing yourself to me. thank you for your word that is alive and active! thank you for delivering me from my sin and myself. forgive me for caring more about my name than yours, for trying to do it all on my own, for doing everything in my power to not look weak - all for my name. forgetting that i should be boasting in my weaknesses. i don't really like to do that. but in my weakness, you are strong! hiding or covering up my weakness does not give you glory - nor does it help me in any way - but just gives me a false sense of security.  when i conceal my weakness - it gives me and everyone else an inaccurate perception of who i am. people don't see and your character and grace and love and mercy. the see some religious crap that will only discourage them or turn them away. also, others cannot love on me like i need to be loved on or point me to christ because i am deceiving them. lord break me of this. help me boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses!  lord i need you!"

just a further glimpse into my heart.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

lack of trust = frustration [again]...

so i have been basically off for almost 2 weeks and let me tell you, it was just what i needed.  i only had to get things ready for sunday at church but other than that i have been off.  the first part of my break definitely involved physical rest. i was exhausted. sleeping in late each day, slowly becoming nocturnal (sleeping in then staying up late) but i could not seem to get enough sleep.  then once i finally slowed down and got some sleep, the lord began rest my soul.  this week, i have taken a good chunk of time to reflect, remember, pray and just be still.

day one, when i really took time to spend with the lord, i realized that i was irritated with him. i did not know this, but deep in my heart i was angry at him. as i spent time before him, i realized where it was stemming from.  first, i have had a few big expenses come up that when they are all finished, will have set me back about $3000.  i was angry because i wanted that $3000 to go to pay off my debt. rather than being able to see the lord's provision, i was angry that i did not get to spend the money the way i wanted. 

the lord then revealed that the reason i was unable to be grateful for his provision was because i have a timeline in my head for my adoption process and these expenses set me back.  i realized that i was worried about what others would think if it took longer for me to adopt because it took me longer to pay off debt.  there is that fear of man problem that i have.  i care more about my name and what people think about me than the lord and his glory. i want to prove that i can do it, forgetting that i am not doing it, he is! the lord was quick to remind me that this is his story not mine. that i do not get to hold the pen and write the story, not even the outline for it. my desire to be in control really did not like that either.

and then, he hit me with a zinger, the base of it is that i [again]do not trust him and think he is enough. i don't think he is going to come through.  that is why i like to control things and i like other people to like them because it affrims my plan. and with my plan, i know what is going on and feel better. oh lord! help my unbelief!!!

after i spent some time journalling about this and talking to a friend about it, i was actually thankful.  it was a good reminder that i still have much to learn.[me prideful? yet another reoccurring theme in my life]  the lord sweetly reminded me that if i think i need to trust him now and release control, that the need will only be a million times worse when i am a mom.  he used this to show me [remind me] that i need to be dependent on him and that he ALWAYS comes through to accomplish his story.  i began to cry as i realized this, broken and thankful all at the same time. 

i know the lord will accomplish his purposes, but it is still hard that my child is out there somewhere and i can't get this going because of my sin of poor finances.  i just have to remind myself that this idea to adopt was not mine, but his and he has a plan, i just don't know it yet.

shotgun, bang....

this weekend my dad, brother, brother's girlfriend and i all went out to a shooting range in dallas.  we shot skeet (or should i say, i shot at skeet, considering i did not hit very many). here are some pics.

after the skeet shooting course, jon and i went and shot dad's 9mm at some targets.  needless to say, i am a little better shooting a handgun at a stationary target.