That post on singleness.

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It was that question. Again.

“So….any new guys yet?”

The “yet” always gets me.

As if I’m doing something wrong because it’s taking so long.

It comes in various forms: “Dating anyone?” or “Why hasn’t any guy snatched you up yet?” (as if I’ve asked guys to not snatch me up–ya, I turned down Mr. Right because I JUST WASN’T FEELING LIKE MARRIAGE. Whhaaaa??)

I always vacillate between the most ridiculous range of emotions. From wanting to throw a fist to wanting to cry to wanting to scream to gathering every last ounce of self-control to calmly smile and say “nope, not yet:)” and then I usually proceed to say something about God’s timing and His sovereignty and how good He’s been to teach me what He’s taught me and I’d do all the heartbreak over in a second if it meant learning what I’ve learned.

And then they usually look disappointed with my answer.

So I keep smiling. Oh. The. Self. Control. That. Takes.

And while those words are true.

On the inside it looks more like this: A MAN DOES NOT DEFINE ME AND STOP ASKING ME THIS QUESTION AND IT’S CALLED WAITING ON THE LORD, AND WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S OK TO ASK ME THIS, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT IT DOES TO MY HEART AND STOP MAKING ME FEEL LIKE SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH ME OR MISSING FROM MY LIFE.

Yup.

That’s more the truth.

Let me tell you, if I had been planning my life, I would have probably done things differently. Scratch that. I would have.

But God, in His infinite wisdom, chose the most opposite course for my life than I chose. Thank goodness.

Key words: He chose.

Not me.

Has it been easy when everyone else is getting married and having babies? No.

Have I often felt left out and confused about God’s plan? Absolutely.

Have I suffered incredible heartbreak and loss? Ohmygoodnessyes.

But.

I have learned.

Boy have I ever learned.

Real, true, raw surrender of my life, my hopes, and my dreams. The kind where you lay down a huge dream, recognizing it may never happen, not for a week or two, but day after day for years and years. I’ve learned grace. Patience. What His sovereignty really means. What His goodness really means. Hope. Joy in trials. What the whole his glory and my good thing really means. Prayer. Trust. Listening to His voice. Major attitude adjustment.

Lessons with value beyond compare.

God has done some tremendous things in my life while single.

It has been real, raw, rare, precious time with just Him and I.

And then there’s this.

Because of my singleness I have had time to invest in things I never would have invested in. And by that I mean the good stuff–kingdom stuff.

I have had time to develop passions and relationships like I never would have been able to married, or probably even dating for that matter.

The time and freedom to discover the person my Savior created me to be has been a wild and beautiful adventure.

It’s taken me awhile, and it’s often been painful, but I see all of this as a privilege, as nothing more than sheer, abundant, unrelenting grace to learn what I’ve learned, most of which has come through the avenue of singleness.

But.

Because of all this wonderful, what frustrates me most when I’m asked that question is this: do you see what God is doing in my life NOW? Or do you only see what He hasn’t done?

Here’s the thing: my story is God’s story. And He chose to write it this way. And that’s ok. What He’s written thus far is far better than anything I could have ever written on my own. So I have complete confidence in whatever chapters He has yet to write.

I have made a concerted effort to focus on the now. To invest in the kingdom now. To love people now. To pursue passions now.

 

My life is wonderfully full.

So to ask if there is a guy in my life yet is a virtual slap in the face to all God is doing NOW. To all He is using me for NOW. To HIS plan.

I am complete in Jesus Christ now, and I am not waiting for any man to complete me.

So, instead of asking me what’s next, instead of focusing on what has not happened, ask me what God is doing now.

Ask me what He’s taught me.

Ask me what I’ve learned.

Ask me how He’s using me.

I’d love to share all He’s up to with this single heart. Because it’s tremendous.

And I’m honored to be walking HIS story.

 

Soaking up the blessings and the grace of now.

 

I count it all as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

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What Sherlock taught me about love.

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Seriously.

Who knew such biblical wisdom could come from Sherlock’s mouth?

I’m slightly kidding. But really, this quote from him deserves a moment:

“Bitterness is a paralytic, but love is the greatest motivator.” 

I thought about my own life, and the giant mess bitterness has created. The anger. The tears. The raging conversations in my head (I know I’m not the only one here:). The effects it had in my conversations with people, in my actions, in my heart.

Clinging. Desperately. For control. Because I. know. best.

I know the punishment deserved. And I know the very vengeance I will enact, in explicit detail, gosh darnit.

The lack of trust. The lack of belief. Was utterly disgusting. Dripping with pride. Oozing with deceit and sin and darkness and hatred and ugliness.

And everything but love. 

Everything but the love displayed in total perfection and unmatched humility and beauty and selfless surrender and incredible sacrifice at the cross. 

And then there’s this verse.

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven– for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47 (emphasis mine)

You guys. This verse. It is humbling.

To recognize the massive outpouring of grace. To see oneself as nothing without that grace. As utterly dependent on that grace. The grace that was undeserved, and was granted on no account of our own.

And the result of that recognition?

Loving much. 

Because.

You have been forgiven much.

Yes. Bitterness and love are opposite.

Bitterness does not forgive.

Bitterness does not trust the judge. It acts as judge.

Bitterness is selfish and self-focused. Love is selfless and self-sacrificing.

Bitterness sees another’s flaws first. Love sees its own flaws first.

Bitterness controls for its own sake. Love releases for the sake of something greater.

Bitterness does not see itself in need of grace. Bitterness is blind to the massive grace and forgiveness it was bestowed.

Love is humbled by the grace and forgiveness it was granted.

In recognizing the enormity of our own forgiveness, we will learn to love much.

And that begins at the foot of the cross. With the recognition of the greatest and most undeserved gift ever granted.

Bitterness paralyzes. It paralyzes one to self. It entraps one in one’s world.

That. is. the. very. result. of. a. sin. cursed. world.

The uncanny ability to focus on self and only self.

But love. 

Love frees. Loves motivates. Love moves one beyond himself.

Love sees itself as wretched. Undeserved. The worst of sinners.

But then.

Love recognizes it was granted grace. That the wretched ugliness has been forgiven. And redeemed.

Through the greatest love act ever demonstrated. 

And then demonstrates that very same selfless love. Without hesitation. 

To a bitter and aching world.

That hope thing.

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Hope.

We all have it one way or another. The crazy kind. The very-next-moment kind. The far-down-the-road kind. The to-any-logical-thinking-person-that’ll-never-happen kind. The material kind. The soul-healing kind.

For goodness sake, I even just hope for a hot cup of coffee-goodness sometimes.

There’re big dreams out there. Believe me, mine included. (Not the coffee, but the other stuff.)

We’re built to hope. We’re built to dream. Because ultimately and innately we know there is something beyond this life. We’re made to know of Heaven and a world that will be redeemed.

And that’s hope. And that’s good.

But then sometimes, I’m always looking ahead and I get so wrapped up in all those hopes that I forget the grace.

The grace that has sustained me thus far. 

The grace that came in moments of desperation. The grace that carried me through the confusion.

The grace that turned the pain inside out, creating something so unexpectedly beautiful.

The grace that brought me to the end of myself. The grace that left me clinging to the cross.

And simply remembering that grace transforms the hope…into hope that’s more tangible, easier to cling to.

Because.

That hope is colored with vivid grace.

The hope is directly tied to the grace.

Because hope without grace isn’t hope at all.

And remembering the grace grounds the hope. 

Because when Paul begged for that thing to go away–just as I’ve done so many times, God responded with that very grace filled hope.

“My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.”

That He would make good of this pain. 

Hope that he would do just that. And grace that it would be good.

Can I be honest? I didn’t fully understand that verse until recently.

But when that thing I hoped would go away didn’t go away, it was His grace that carried me, bringing blessing after unexpected blessing. And then I saw him use it, and teach me, and make something huge of the mess.

A giant, unexpected load of grace.

That’s where hope lies.

In the One who can. The One who will. In the One who has.

And then I read this gem of a verse this morning:

“In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.” Psalm 5:3

I pray.

And then I eagerly watch. 

Because he will do something. Something good. Something wonderful.

He IS doing something.

Better than anything my finite mind could ever dream.

I know. Because I’ve seen.

I’ve seen the grace.

That’s real, downright, beautiful hope.

Hope.

Anchored by grace.

When the darkness is just so dark.

(**I wrote this awhile ago and never posted it, but I imagine almost everyone can relate to a dark night or two, so I decided to post it. So if you can relate, relish God’s goodness with me.)

I layed in bed, staring at the ceiling in the darkness.

The darkness seemed especially dark tonight. The pain ached. Deep deep down. And just wouldn’t quit.

God’s promises are real and true–I believe that with all my heart–and, believe me, I was clinging to each one as hard as I could.

But the very real and raw emotions that come right along with loss, rejection, and betrayal were unveiling their ugly presence. Part of being human I guess.

But then, in a way only He can, in the middle of that piercing darkness, He reminded me of one simple, yet very profound truth.

He’s been there.

He experienced excruciating loss, rejection, and betrayal. 

Sound cheesy? Hear me out. There is a certain unexplainable comfort that comes when someone just knows.

He gets it, on a much greater scale than mine, He just gets it.

He was rejected and betrayed by His very own, the very ones he was dying for. And He was separated from His Father–the most agonizing loss of all.

And on top of all that, He walked each step of His darkness, loss, rejection, and betrayal, with His focus on the glory of His father and the good of us, not once on himself.

I squeezed my eyes shut. Convicted. Ashamed.

I don’t know about you, but that is not how I typically deal with pain. It’s always all about me.

What would happen if we focused on His glory and His plan through our aching darkness? Knowing that His glory is divinely intertwined with our good?

I bet our darkness would be utterly transformed.

The story could stop here, and it would still be amazing.

But here’s the most incredible part, because of that very suffering, through our pain, we never have to experience separation from our Father. So we never have to walk through our darkness alone.

 He walks each step of that darkness with us.

Words that have eased darkness for me time and time again filled my mind.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night, even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You….” Psalm 139 11:12

That’s incredible. The profound darkness I sensed, wasn’t even dark to Him. He knows just where my story is going. He can see the end, the purpose, in the blinding light of day.

Actually, He planned it.

Just like the darkness that overcame the earth at the death of His Son, wasn’t darkness to Him. He knew exactly what the end was going to look like, even in the darkness.

Actually, He planned it.

But His beloved Son had to walk through that darkness in order to get to where He needed to go. Not because God didn’t love His Son. Not because He didn’t have a plan.

But because it was the plan. For our good and His glory.

And so often, He asks His children to do the same. Not because He doesn’t love you and has lost control.

Because He does love you and does have a plan and is in control. For your good and His glory.

So trust.

That when everything seems out of control, nothing is out of control.

And when you’re tempted to doubt, remember the story of your Savior.

And the unfathomable good that came from deep, painful darkness.

And the unfathomable good He has in store for you.

That He’s been there. And is here now.

And let THAT ease the ache of darkness. Like nothing else does or ever will.

And you’ll find beauty even in the darkest nights.

 

 

After All We’ve Been Through…

I was watching a silly little TV show the other day, killing some time.

As with everything by Hollywood, there is some sort of struggle between good and evil, and that was certainly the case in this show.

In this particular scene, the “queen” and one of her “subjects” encountered a potentially disastrous situation. The queen apparently had it under control, though it certainly didn’t appear that way.

When she could see her “subject” was terrified and doubtful of her direction, she calmly and matter-of-factly stated:

“After all we’ve been through, why do you doubt?”

My heart lurched a little.

As silly as this example is, it made me think.

Isn’t that how God so often responds to us?

In the middle of those confusing, dark, and often terribly long trials, God so calmly reminds us of His sovereignty, His control, His unmatched love for us. That He has it all under control, even when it looks disastrous. When it sure doesn’t look like He does.

After all we’ve been through, why do you doubt?

I thought about my own life. All the times I’ve struggled to keep walking in the dark, wondering where on earth I was going. And, in the end, the path He lead me down was so much better than what I thought I wanted, or where I was originally.

Part of learning to trust your Father is remembering all you’ve been through together, how He never left your side–and then when you neared the end, how you realized His plan far exceeded yours.

And that you should have just trusted Him all along.

To trust in past grace is to draw from it confidence in future grace.

This morning I was reading in Genesis about Abraham and Sarah, a story that reminded me of this concept. God graciously told Abraham that Sarah would have a child. And what did Sarah do?

She laughed. At God.

Ya, probably not the best decision. But, I can relate– so often that’s how I react. Not trusting my Father. Not trusting His plan. Laughing at His promises. Placing confidence in my flesh. Not trusting Him to bring me His best.

Doubtful and terrified of His direction.

Like a disobedient child.

But God simply responded to Sarah, just as He responds to us, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?”  

No, it’s not.

Why don’t I remember that?

Sometimes I wish I’d just trust. Trust the impossible. Trust in the dark. Trust in the confusion. Trust the God of the impossible.

That He has it all under control, even when it looks disastrous.

After all I’ve been through with My Father, why do I doubt?

I have no right, no grounds whatsoever to doubt, because nothing is too difficult for Him.

And He’s been nothing but faithful. 

What an amazing God we serve.