Doubt Your Doubt

Not to go into unnecessary, dramatic details, but earlier this year I was driven back to a place I never thought I would go back to. I am a firm believer that people come and go in our lives for a specific purpose and to teach us a lesson, and apparently I have not learned this particular lesson yet because here I was going on attempt number three to get this drilled into my thick skull. This situation has shaken my trust and my security, which had already been shaken from the past hurt. While attempting to deal with my mind and get myself under control, I decided to read through one of my journals. The particular journal I picked up was one from college. I turned to a random page, and in the way that God so often does with my stubborn self, I read a couple sentences I had written during the same situation as I am in right now, which put me right back in my humble little place. And this is what I read: 

“Nevertheless, means trusting God’s handiwork even when you can’t see His face or understand the reason for your situation. My faith cannot be shaken even though I am shaken. Faith does not mean I don’t doubt, it just means I don’t doubt my faith.“ 

This time, or rather times, have shaken me in a way I never could have imagined. I can believe we have all experienced a time in our lives like this in some way or another. People who were the closest to you suddenly became strangers. People who you entrusted with your dreams and the personal aspects of your life, had now betrayed you. Your heart had been broken by someone who was supposed to hold it safe. Your trust was shattered in a seemingly irreparable manner. Due to pain and hurt, you distanced yourself from the world and put up a wall in order to keep yourself safe. Your emotions ran away with you. Your heart began beating uncontrollably from the anxiety. Now, you’ve backed yourself into an even lonelier and unhealthy situation.  

There are three verses in particular that I have found myself clinging to in times when it seems as if life is spinning out of control. 1 Peter 5:9 says to “Cast all your anxiety on Him for He cares for you.” Psalm 94:19 reminds us, “When my anxiety multiplies, your comforting calms me”. Luke 21:9 states, “By your patience possess your emotions”. These verses are hard to come to terms with. If we’re a control freak, we don’t like to feel as if we have lost control. When our emotions are out of control, we get impatient. We try to take it all into our own hands. Yet, here we are so blatantly told to do the exact opposite. 

God wants us to take everything in our lives and place into His safe and secure hands. This requires me to abandon my reliance on me and run toward the rest that can be found only when I fully rely on the power of God. I will never find peace within myself. I will never find the strength to carry on with all life throws at me.

I want to share with you a meditation I discovered a few years ago that I kept on my bathroom mirror throughout college as a daily reminder to keep peace within myself and God. 

Close your eyes 
And just breathe
Go to that place
You know, 
that one place where everything else just doesn’t exist or matter anymore; 
the traffic, 
the deadlines, 
all the hassles of doing life in a world like ours. 
Go to that quiet place, 
it doesn’t have to be for long. 
Just enough to breathe, 
to be. 
Give yourself the gift of time, 
of space, 
of solitude. 
Go there. 
Remember.  
Listen. 
Look. 
Listen some more. 
And in that still, small whisper, 
hear the Lord.
And know that your are loved.  
Loved by your Creator and Father.

Selfless Love

Love. 

A Christian’s primary response to God is love. There are numerous ways for us to respond to God; devotion, respect, reverence, honor, service, obedience, praise, thanksgiving, and oh so many more. Only one response is the source of all other responses; love. Everything flows forth from love. Every single thing we do is a result of love. There is no devotion to God without first a love of Him. Without a love for God there is no honor or respect for Him. The greatest commandment given to humanity is love. We see so many times throughout the Bible mentions of love. We are told and shown how to love through the examples of Christ during His time on Earth. 

 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 NIV

If we do not love God, we cannot love ourselves. If we do not love ourselves, we cannot love others. If we do not love others, we cannot fulfill the greatest commandment given to us. If we do not love others, we cannot fulfill the Great Commission. We best fulfill the call of God when we rightly respond to Him with love. When we love Him first and best, we are then able to love ourselves and the world.

When love is our primary response to God, everything else will then begin to fall into place. Our intimate time with Him will  fall into place. We will honor and praise Him rightly. We will respect and thank Him properly. Our outward expressions of the spiritual disciplines will come forth. Our love for ourselves will become real. Our love for the world will become evident and tangible. The fulfillment of our calling and the Great Commission will come to fruition. 

Responding to God in love is an exhibition of our unwavering and complete trust in Him and His work. A response of love has the ability tear down any fragment of doubt or fear that may creep into our minds. 1 John 4:18 tells us “there is no fear in love”. The beautiful song by Steffany Gretzinger, No Fear In Love, always rocks me to my core and perfectly sums up why a Christian’s primary response to God is love. 

Who’s Gift Are You Wearing?

“Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:38-40 ESV

David could not wear Saul’s armor, and you cannot operate in someone else’s gifts.

Our human nature can easily slip into one of comparison if we are not careful. Yet, that is not how God created us to operate. He created us each unique with unique gifts and callings. Just as the human body cannot operate with all hands, the Church Body cannot operate with all pastors. Each of us have been given gifts that are purposeful and important. Each of our unique gifts are designed to fill a unique void in the world. 

A wise, godly woman once told me, “You will never be able to do it all. You are not gifted to do everything. If you are trying to do everything, you are hindering someone else from using their God-given gifts and talents”. Now, as someone who loves to do every single thing I can get my hands on, this hit me in the heart. Hard. 

How selfish can I be to attempt to poorly do a task that another person is eloquently gifted in? 

Who am I to intrude upon another person’s calling? 

Who gave me the authority to reroute the gifts God gave someone else? 

If I am so distracted by another’s purpose, am I fulfilling my purpose?

Just as David had to stand firm in what the Lord called him to, so must we. Stand firm in what the Lord has gifted you in so that you may wholly fulfill His calling upon your life. You have been given a unique calling paired with unique gifts that are designed to fulfill a unique void in this world. 

Actively Hold On To Your Promise

Until now, this area of my life has been one of extreme privacy. Sharing this always makes me feel like the most cliche Christian Girl there is. But that is not the intention of my actions or saying the following. I, in no way, am sharing this in order to make myself sound incredibly holy. Please do not see it as that.

With that disclosed: happy reading, friends  

For as long as I can remember, I have been praying for the man I will one day marry. I pray for our future marriage. I pray for our future children. I pray for his parents. I pray for his current choices. I pray for his friends. I pray for whatever may pop into my head, or I feel the urge for.

In October 2008, some of my youth leaders challenged me to make a list of “My Perfect Guy”. A list to hold as a reminder of what I was looking for in my future spouse. A reminder of where I wanted to end up. An accountability tool to hold throughout the years ahead. I placed this list in my Bible in the Scripture that has served as God’s promise to me since He first made this particular promise.

I have kept that original list in the exact same spot ever since. However, I have added, removed, and prioritized certain items over the years as I have grown and better grasped what the Lord has placed in my heart. 

Over the years, I have often found myself thinking about what this future man of mine may be doing or going through, like every typical girl ever. 

All of these thoughts, and so many more, led me into praying for him and whatever situation/need came to mind. The endless prayers/words began to seem insufficient and fleeting over time. I wanted something tangible that I could pour into and keep over time. As someone who loves to write, I decided to begin writing to him.

Yes – I know. 

Writing to someone I don’t even know yet? 

How crazy can I be? 

I know how insane this may seem. Trust me, it seems crazy to me at times as well.

I began to write random notes. 

Some significant – Others quite random. 

Not always profound. 

Not always drawn out letters – Often quick musings. 

Starting this helped make him more of a real person, instead of an unfathomable being out there in space somewhere to begin existing only when we meet and marry. 

Writing and praying for him helps make him real. 

Writing and praying for him helps keep me focused. 

As someone to whom the Lord has given a very specific calling and promise, it is helpful for me to have this method of output that draws me back when I begin to wander. It gives me hope when I start to doubt and lose faith – renews my passion for the future – most importantly this reminds me of God’s faithfulness in my life. 

When I write to or pray for this man, I remember that there is someone out there somewhere who will someday become my lifelong partner and best friend – I want to be able to present myself to him without any regrets – I want to remember the days spent preparing and praying for him – I want to look back and see how it all worked together as a beautiful picture.  I want to be able to give him this box full of notes and letters that show him how much he has been loved for a very long time. Show him that even when he was not physically present, the Lord was placing him and his needs of my heart. I want to be able to look and remember how the Lord so beautifully orchestrated each and every aspect of our individual lives coming together as one.

Lord willing, one day I will give that wonderful man of mine a box which contains years of dedication, love, tears, and prayers expressed through notes and letters. I will give him a glimpse into my past – a glimpse into how my love for him carried me through some of the most difficult times – a glimpse into how he was in my heart long before I knew him – a glimpse into how God worked through us even before we were united. 

If you have a promise in your heart which you are waiting for, I encourage you to spend time in prayer and reflection to see what the Lord would have you do in this season to actively prepare for your promise. Whether it be the promise of a spouse, child, career, home, friend – whatever that promise is, take hold of it now and don’t let it go or sit idly by. The Lord places things within us which often take years to unfold, so do not give up hope and lose pursuit simply because His timeline is different than your own. 

Singleness As A Gift

Hello, beautiful people. Let me introduce myself. 

I am a 24 year old, single lady.

GASP

Better yet: I am a 24 year old, single, Christian lady with a heart for ministry.

MAJOR GASP

Are y’all still with me? Did I lose any of you yet due to the shocking revelations about myself?

Yes. I am fully aware that I am in the minority over here. I am at that stage in life where everyone is getting married off and having babies. Let’s face it, every time I turn around a friend is getting engaged, married, announcing a pregnancy, or having a baby. Also, how in the world am I, a single young woman, expecting to be in ministry without a man? How dare I, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah, take a puff of your inhaler and settle in for even more shocking news. 

All of that to say, I am constantly being made aware of my life taking a vastly different path than most people my age. I am also often “lovingly” reminded of how “strange” my life is from most people my age. The questions and comments mostly come out of love from people who genuinely know me. However, some comments are more poignant than others. 

For example: One of the most rememberable conversations I’ve had about this topic went like this: the other spiritual leader asked me if I had any plans of getting married and starting a family anytime soon, when I responded with my prepared “no, not at the moment” I received a very heavy sigh and “wow, that’s so sad for you” in response. Yes, this is a real response I regularly get. Understand though that after going to a “Ring by Spring” University, I am used to the questions and am always prepared with an answer. At this age and stage of my life, I’m used to the questions and brush them off with a laugh. However, the response I received to my answer this particular time hit me rather hard. I then festered on that response for the rest of the day. Okay, I lied… I festered on it for a few days… and maybe still get a little salty when I think about it. 

WHY is my life so sad to other people because the Lord has something unique in mind for my life?

HOW am I supposed to respond to those dejected responses from people that think I am so lonely?

WHAT has gotten us to this point in society that looks down upon a young woman for not going out and eternally attaching herself to the first thing that comes along?

WHO says I cant live a fulfilling life without a man by my side?

WHEN did we begin to think it was okay to blatantly put down people who are on paths different than our own?

I am fully aware that my life is not like most of my friends, or even most people my age. I am fully aware that my life has not gone according to the life plan 5-year old me concocted of how her life would pan out. My life plan has changed dramatically from the optimistic, organized, 17 year old me so boldly and ignorantly made. 

However, I am fully aware of what the Lord has called me to. I am fully aware of every promise He has made to me since age 5. I am fully aware that His timetable for my life is perfect and the story He is writing through and for me is perfectly written. I am fully aware that a lot of work needs to be done before He moves me into that next season of life.

This season the Lord currently has me in is one I will never get back once Mr. Man (yep, he’s already got a nickname) makes his grand entrance. This is such a beautiful season where I am fully and completely alone with God. The beauty of this time is something I do not want to take for granted and cast aside. There are things in this life that I can only accomplish during this season of singleness. This is a season where I am solely responsible for myself, no one else. There are plans the Lord has for me that can only be fulfilled in this season. I do not want to miss out on all that He has for me NOW because I am so wrapped up in what He has for me LATER. God has things that He wants to grow in me, instill in me, and fulfill in me before I am joined to another soul for the rest of my life. 

When we join our individual life with the individual life of another human, we become one. However, I believe we have twisted that into believing we are each a half until that person comes along. RED FLAG. No. No. No. I do not want the priest of my home and father of my children to be half of a man. No. I do not want to be half of a wife and half of a mother. No. I am a whole person with a whole calling on her life with a whole purpose to fulfill. I fully expect my future husband to be a whole person with a whole calling on his life with a whole purpose to fulfill. And once each of our whole selves comes together, we can become one whole together to fulfill the unique calling and purpose the Lord has for us together. 

Until that time, I do not intend to sit around moping and wallowing in self-pity because the Lord has selected me for a unique purpose. Now, I’m not saying I won’t still daydream and plan for the future, I am human after all. I am saying that I will not place those ideals as a priority in my life. 

So you can pity, sigh, gasp, and shake your head at the way my life is unfolding, but just know that I am doing the complete opposite. I am embracing every crazy, unexpected, insane, beautiful, and gracious thing He has in store for me every step of the way. I am actively and excitedly preparing for the day the Lord opens the door for me to walk into the next season of life by fully embracing the current season. This season is a gift I can never get back and I want to do everything I can before I lose it. 

Beware: If you ask me when I’m getting married and starting a family, just know you probably have a better chance asking God because I don’t have that answer yet.