doing single well.

I just turned 28 and I am still single.

This weekend that was made abundantly clear to me. Not by one individual pointing it out.

I just felt the loneliness in full swing this weekend. It started as I was browsing all my social media looking at picture after picture of someone I know’s baby, kids, family, wedding, baby/wedding shower, kid’s birthday party, kid’s sporting event, etc. Then there were posts about anniversaries and dates, and, well, you see what I’m saying.

I felt bombarded. Not one post did I read saying, “today’s my 1 year anniversary of being single! Let’s celebrate!”

And I just lost it as I was driving around doing things alone. Again. I cried and I told God how much the loneliness hurts sometimes. And here it is again; just typing that statement brought tears to my eyes.

That’s a really vulnerable statement for me to make. You see, for the most part, I try to hide the fact that I don’t like being single. I try to be strong and put on a happy face, because I have this idea that this is what I am supposed to do as a single Christian – I’m supposed to be joyful and cheery, and be okay just how my life is, because obviously this is what God has for me.

Right?

I don’t know that I think so anymore.

I have prayed and prayed that if God does not will for me to have a family or to be married, that he would remove that [strong] desire from my heart. I don’t want to want what he doesn’t want for me.

But here I am, and the desire seems just as strong as when I first prayed that many years ago.

And here I am still very single.

I have a confession: I haven’t been doing single well.

You may have ready my last post about online dating. So I’ve tried that. I have also dated a lot of people (okay by a lot I mean probably a handful. Whether or not that is a lot is a matter of opinion, I suppose) who really I knew I shouldn’t be dating. I spent money on frivolous things because I had the money to spend. I have been very selfish with my time, because, well, there is no one else I should be giving it to… right?

I think all of those ways I have been living my life were wrong.

I’m ready to doing single well. To do single with intentionality and purpose.

To give my time to those who need my time. To give my money to causes that could benefit from it well.

It’s not my time nor is it my money. If I claim my life belongs to God then why am acting as the God of my own life – dating or otherwise?

I’m still processing all of this. I’m figuring out what intentional and purposeful singleness looks like.

I’ll keep you updated.

related:

single – for those that are and those that aren’t (another post I wrote with some good links regarding singleness in the church)

elevation church – meant to be sermon series

Sunday Scripture [Matthew 16:24-25]

Today’s scripture was the passage we read in church this morning.

It hit me hard. The words, I have read them before.

The impact, it has never been so heavy.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 

Do you see that? I am supposed to DENY myself.

say what.

Oh yes, that means denying myself the extra cookie, the shirt that is on sale and oh-so-cute.

I should deny myself running an extra mile to make up for the extra cookie.

When the cute guy asks me on a date, but has no relationship with Jesus, I should deny my flesh and tell him “no thank you”.

I should even deny the chance to volunteer for something that seems to be a service for God, when my plate is already too full.

 

Denial.

We, as Americans, see this word as only a negative thing.

And when we do use it wisely, as in dieting, we do it for our own glory.

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Let me be honest. Denial is something I have very little practice in. I often find myself weak, especially in the food realm. I have struggled for years with my relationship with food. I don’t talk about it with too many people, because quite frankly it is something a lot of people don’t seem to understand. I am thin, I work out a lot, and I tend to eat pretty healthy. But food speaks to my loneliness, my borden, my dissatisfaction with myself. Food calls my name when everyone else is quiet, and I answer, and I am more unsatisfied. You see, I have made food an idol. I love to create with food, but it is something I am learning to deny. There is so much more to this story; so much more for another time.

 

Brother, sister – what are you needing to deny? What is good and pleasing, but not something necessary?

What is something that is bad, and unfruitful in your life?

Deny yourself dear friend. Deny yourself and search for Christ and you will gain life.

 

In my case, when I deny myself excess food (please know I never deny myself food unhealthily; I am denying the eating when I am not hungry or the second… or third bowl of ice cream), and ask for Jesus to strengthen me and be the bread of life to my unsatisfied soul, I find life just in the joy of overcoming. And while overcoming, I have turned to a much more satisfying source – one that brings life.

Bring it.

She Reads Truth is doing something new for Lent – every Friday the reader’s share their own thoughts on a certain passage of scripture. This is my response for the week. 

This week, we are reflecting on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:

You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified. I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else. (Message Version, emphasis mine)

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As for myself, brethren, when I came to you, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony and evidence or mystery and secret of God [concerning what He has done through Christ for the salvation of men] in lofty words of eloquence or human philosophyand wisdom;For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified. And I was in (passed into a state of) weakness and fear (dread) and great trembling [after I had come] among you. And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit and power [a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them], So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men (human philosophy), but in the power of God. (Amplified Version)

First impressions:

1. Paul wasn’t trying to impress the people of Corinth, he was just bringing the truth to them, plain and simple.

2. The message he had to bring came through, no matter how inadequate he felt, not matter how much he fumbled his words or screwed up in his own mind. God used him to bring the message that needed brought (I say that with the sass of a 13 year old cheerleader)!

So now what?

What is God calling you to, to which you feel totally inadequate or scared to death?

Let Him work through you today, in all you do.

 

 

image is from my brother! Follow him @an_idiot_abroad on Instagram!

the idol you didn’t know you had [scripture]

Before I list some resources online for you regarding various idols and others’ suggestions of how to let them go, I just want to give you a list of scripture regarding idols.

Let God work in your heart through His word.

Ezekiel 6:8-9 “…How I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols. They will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices.”

2 Kings 17:40-41They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. Even while these people were worshipping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.”

Exodus 20:3-6 “’You shall have no other gods before me. ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.'”

Colossians 3:5 “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

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Galatians 5:19-21Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Jeremiah 1:16And I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands.”

 

the idol you didn’t know you had [identify them].

Read the introduction and my story, as part of this series first, if you wish.

consumed

As part of this series about idolatry, I want to do what I can to help you identify the idols in your life. I think Christians should really make this a regular process, because I think new idols will quickly take the place of old idols, and that as we change and go through life, our idols will change, too.

I am not an expert, and I still have lots to do in my own life regarding idolatry. But we can do this together.

First, I think we need to seek God’s help. I believe He wants to reveal our idols to us because He is a jealous God and wants our full worship. So start by praying that God would reveal to you the idols you’ve carried for years, or the idols plaguing your life currently. Seek His guidance. Seek His whispering regarding things in your life. Open your heart to what He wants to show you!

Tim Keller gives these suggestions for identifying idols (via Christianity Today):

One way requires that we look at our imagination. Archbishop William Temple once said, “Your religion is what you do with your solitude.” In other words, the true god of your heart is what your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else demanding your attention. What do you enjoy day-dreaming about? What is it that occupies your mind when you have nothing else to think about? Do you develop potential scenarios about career advancement? Or material goods such as a dream home? Or a relationship with a particular person? One or two day dreams do not indicate idolatry. Ask rather, what do you habitually think about to get joy and comfort in the privacy of your heart?

Another way to discern your heart’s true love is to look at how you spend your money. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there is your heart also.” (Matt 6:21) Your money flows most effortlessly toward your heart’s greatest love. In fact, the mark of an idol is that you spend too much money on it, and you must try to exercise self-control constantly. As St Paul has written, if God and his grace is the thing in the world you love most, you will give your money away to ministry, charity, and the poor in astonishing amounts (2 Cor 8:7-9). For most of us, however, we tend to over spend on clothing, or on our children, or on status symbols such as homes and cars. This reveals our idols.

A third way to discern idols works best for those who have professed a faith in God. You may regularly go to a place of worship where you are a member. You may have a full, devout set of doctrinal beliefs. You may be trying very hard to believe and obey God. However, what is your real, daily functional salvation? What are you really living for, what is your real—not just your professed—God? A good way to discern this is how you respond to unanswered prayers and frustrated hopes. If you ask for something that you don’t get, you may become sad and disappointed. Then you go on. Hey, life’s not over. Those are not your functional masters. But when you pray and work for something and you don’t get it and you respond with explosive anger or deep despair, then you may have found your real god. Like Jonah, you become angry enough to die.

A final test is for anyone to use. Look at your most uncontrollable emotions. Just as a fisherman looking for fish knows to go where the water is roiling, look for your idols at the bottom of painful emotions, especially those that never seem to lift and that drive you to do things you know are wrong. If you are angry, ask, “Is there something here too important to me, something I am telling myself I have to have at all costs?” Do the same thing about strong fear or despair and guilt. Ask yourself “Am I so scared, because something is being threatened, which I think is a necessity when it is not? Am I so down on myself because I have lost or failed at something which I think is a necessity when it is not?” If you are over-working, driving yourself into the ground with frantic activity, ask yourself, “Do I feel that I must have this thing to be fulfilled and significant?” When you ask questions like that, when you “pull your emotions up by the roots,” as it were, sometimes you will find your idols clinging to them.

Grace Online Library offers these suggestions for questions to ask yourself:

  1. What do I worry about most?
  2. What, if I failed or lost it, would cause me to feel that I did not even want to live?
  3. What do I use to comfort myself when things go bad or get difficult?
  4. What do I do to cope? What are my release valves? What do I do to feel better?
  5. What preoccupies me? What do I daydream about?
  6. What makes me feel the most self-worth? Of what am I the proudest? For what do I want to be known?
  7. What do I lead with in conversations?
  8. Early on what do I want to make sure that people know about me?
  9. What prayer, unanswered, would make me seriously think about turning away from God?
  10. What do I really want and expect out of life? What would really make me happy?
  11. What is my hope for the future?
  12. What do you blog, tweet or post the most about on social networks?

Other questions to ponder, as you try to identify what may be an idol in your life:

  • What do I worry about?
  • What consumes my thoughts?
  • What do I spend excessive money on?
  • What are the bad habits I can’t get rid of?
  • What produces strong emotions in me?
  • Where do I feel out of control in my life?

the idol you didn’t knew you had [my story].

madewithOver

I started this series (read the introduction here) on idolatry because I was convicted recently about my own idols.

I have been praying and considering sin in my life and really trying to seek God in the unseen sins of my life (by unseen I mean the sins I don’t even really realize ARE sins). I mean, I’m very aware of when I lie, or am jealous of someone, or when I say something I shouldn’t have. I’m aware of what I like to think of as the obvious sins. But, I wanted to go deeper. I decided to ask God to reveal to me what are my idols, what is taking the place of Him being the main focus of my life, etc. And one thing came to mind, and hit me hard, more than any of the others that He also made me aware of. Beyond revealing to me a number of things that I’ve idolized by desiring more than Himself, He pointed out to me a struggle I’ve had for awhile that is really disrupting my seeking Him and knowing Him as much as I am able. It is the curtain in the temple

This is open and honest, this is me confessing my biggest struggle.

Since I started college almost 10 years ago, I have struggled with an unhealthy relationship with food. This unhealthy relationship has led to a questionable relationship with fitness. My freshman year of college I went through a lot of major changes in my life and I turned to fitness for the first time. Somewhere along the past 10 years I guess I started turning to food, too. I don’t know how it happened, I don’t know when it happened. I do know the night before my parents came to see me for my 21st birthday I had the urge to purge. I never did, but I remember being alone in my dorm room wishing I could do something to get rid of the food I had eaten for dinner. It was a terrible feeling and I wasn’t even sure why I felt that way.

I have never purged of food nor have I really starved myself of food. What I have done, however, is work out a bit longer the day after eating too much or deciding to work out only because of the food I had eaten earlier in the day. What I’ve also done is think about food all. day. long. I mean, from the time I get up and think about what to eat breakfast to the time I go to bed and make myself brush my teeth so I won’t eat something else.

To keep the story short, it has been a battle since that time. For years. And it is something I have sought help with, but have yet to find any relief.

Until only recently.

What really started changing my motivation behind eating and behind working out was to check my motives. God starting hitting my heart quietly with His truth. The truth that I had been making food and my body an idol in my life.

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25-34)

That hit me hard – do not worry about what you eat. That means, do not think about it, do not plan excessively, do not dwell on it, do not use it to replace boredom. And likewise – do not worry about your body – whether it is too fat or to thin, whether it is gorgeous or not (because who really determines that, anyway?). No, do not worry, focus on today. Focus on the Word of the Lord. It’s tricky because we must eat and because physical exercise is good for you. But I had to check my motives. Why was I working out for 2 hours today? Why was I eating a fourth cookie at 2om when I had nothing else to do? I had been desiring food more than I had been desiring God, His Word, and food for my soul.

The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. (Psalm 19:9b-10)

I just wrote about Joshua 1:8, where Joshua was commanded:

” Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night…”

Notice the Lord does not say “meditate on food, your body, what you’re going to eat, what you’re not going to eat, when you will eat, who you will eat with, who will think you look good, who will think you’re too fat, day and night.”

So, to summarize: I was making food an idol not only by thinking about it all day, worrying about it and how it would make my body look, but by also then worrying what people would think of my body, finding my worth in the eyes of man.

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This is where I am. God has revealed to me that this is not just an annoying part of my life, it is an idol and it is a sin. It is currently the biggest hinderance to my relationship with Him.

I am excited about where my life will go from here. It has been a long journey, with this relationship with food, but I think I finally am walking down the long path towards redemption and freedom. It will continue to be a long journey, but now I have a different motivation – Jesus Christ.

 

the idol you didn’t know you had [introduction]

This is the start of a series I felt was really important. I think we have a problem in modern day Christianity and I want to address it. I have spent a lot of time thinking, reading, and praying about the topic, trying to figure out how best to approach it. So I’m going to be bold, I’m going to ask you to seek God, and I’m going to pray that our heart is softened to the whispers God is speaking to you.

I’m going to talk to you about idolatry.

I’m going to be very candid with you.

I recently had an idol revealed. I have been praying and considering sin in my life and really trying to seek God in the unseen sins of my life (by unseen I mean the sins I don’t even really realize ARE sins). There are things in my life that I KNOW are sins, things that are blatant and obvious. But then, there are parts of my life I feel uncomfortable about, things I wish I could change but struggle with, but things that may not look like sin to my neighbor.

So, I will share with you the idol God revealed to me in my life as just that, an idol.

Then, I will list some common idols in modern-day Christianity.

After we review what some idols are today, I want to explore what scripture says about idolatry.

Finally, I will do my best to provide resources for releasing your idols and working with God to remove them from your life.

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This is a journey that will be tough.

We can do it.

Today, pray for God to open your eyes and soften your heart. Then thank Him for His grace and mercy, and thank Him today for what He will reveal to you tomorrow.