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Archive for September, 2009

This is semi-hypothetical because I haven’t had this exact experience, but the question does come from something in real life.

Ladies: Let’s say you meet a guy, knowing that he’s on the lookout for his future life partner. Right out of the gate, he tells you he’s looking for a “Proverbs-31” woman, which he acknowledges is a lot to ask for, but he’s met two of them, so he knows they’re out there.

What would you think of that, and how would you react?

(Still not sure what to think and not wanting to influence anyone who might actually post a comment and answer this question, I will decline to post my two-cents for now.)

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As a perpetually single supporter of Health at Every Size and Fat Acceptance (which I’ve discussed before), I was thrilled to see this: The Museum of Fat Love. The pictures are cute, but be sure you read the stories, too. They’re all unique to the couples involved—they met each other through different means, planned or not, and at different ages and stages in life. It’s inspiring and validating and just lovely to see.

And lastly, because I neglected Friday Frivolity AGAIN, here’s a blog post that Bethany will not be happy with, but which cracked me up: 5 Reasons I HATE the Grocery Store.

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In general Christian circles, pretty much everyone knows about the Last Night of the Church Retreat—after you’ve been having fun and then the retreat speaker drops the Serious Bomb. You make a life-changing decision, or you come closer to God than ever before, or you see things clearly for the first time. Or—none of that happens and you’re disappointed that it didn’t. As something of a contrarian, I often roll my eyes at the idea … until guess what?

Yep, it happened to me.

I got back yesterday from a weekend church retreat, and although the whole deal fell short of what I would personally call “fun” (I am quite literally not a happy camper), I had an incredible spiritual experience that left me very, very glad that I had gone. I hesitated to share it on this blog because it is very personal. But I shared it on my private blog , and several people have already thanked me for doing so. One friend said that I had pointed out how something in the Old Testament is relevant today. Because of that, and because someone reading this may be struggling with the same thing, I decided to just suck it up and be vulnerable.

Quick rundown: The general theme of the retreat was High School. The general lesson was about Loving God More—so simple, yet so deep. The Saturday night message, the Serious Bomb, was about the backpacks we carry, full of sin. These aren’t the backpacks that tumble off when, like in Pilgrim’s Progress, we accept Christ and His forgiveness. These are backpacks that we choose to keep on our backs, as followers of Christ, even though He has forgiven everything we’re carrying in them.

During this talk, I thought about what was in my backpack. There was plenty, of course, but I was having difficulty grasping the idea that much of it was related to one single sin. Depression isn’t necessarily a sin. Shyness isn’t necessarily a sin. What was my sin?

Finally it came to me: Idolatry. What’s the idol? Exactly what I’ve been blogging about for months: a nonexistent boyfriend. That boyfriend that I have never had, that I have wanted since at least the age of 14—and quite possibly earlier.

That alone isn’t really idolatry. A desire for intimacy and human relationships isn’t sinful—in fact, it’s usually God-given. But I was serving these desires instead of God, doing things for the idol that should have been done for God, in an attempt to bring myself closer to that idol, or to appease that idol. I mean, the main reason I had even gone on the retreat was that I know someone who met his girlfriend there last year, and maybe this was my chance. I said that I felt God calling me to move to the DC area, when I mostly just wanted to move to a place that (so I heard) was singles-friendly. (That was before I realized I wanted to marry an anti-government radical with Midwestern values.)

And yet, despite taking up so much of my energy, my time, my thoughts, and even my prayer life for a decade or more, I’ve never actually had a boyfriend. Oh, I’ve had a couple of opportunities—but I turned them down because they did not fit the image that I had created in my head. They were not the Golden Calf that I had pictured.

On Saturday night, I finally realized why God never answered my prayers. I had been asking Him to give me an idol. No matter how many times I ask Him for it, God isn’t going to give me my idol. The Bible makes it clear that God will allow us to follow idols, if that’s what we choose. Numerous times in the Bible, God handed the Israelites over to the idols they had chosen to worship.

Nehemiah 9:26-28: But they were disobedient and rebelled against You; they put Your law behind their backs. They killed Your prophets, who had admonished them in order to turn them back to You; they committed awful blasphemies. So You handed them over to their enemies, who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed they cried out to You. From heaven You heard them, and in Your great compassion You gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.

Ezekiel 20:31: When you offer your gifts—the sacrifice of your sons in the fire—you continue to defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. Am I to let you inquire of Me, O house of Israel? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will not let you inquire of Me.

Isaiah 57:13: When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you! The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away. But the man who makes Me his refuge will inherit the land and possess My holy mountain.

God doesn’t supply the idols. He is not going to fulfill desires that will take us away from Him.

Exodus 34:14: Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

I Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

I finally realized that my identity had not been in Christ, but in the idol I was pursuing. It was like I had spent years running down a tunnel, chasing a distant light, until I collapsed under the weight of this “backpack.” And then God came up to me with a lantern, asking if I was ready to walk with Him, at the pace He would set. I finally said “Yes,” and meant it.

Saturday night’s lesson ended with a reexamination of the story of the Prodigal Son, which had never meant more to me than it did on that day. Things may not have gotten easier yet, but they’re better, and my outlook is more positive than it was. My Father is cooking that fatted calf to welcome back His prodigal.

So, this being a blog about singleness, for single women, I have to ask: might this be a problem for you, as well? I’m not saying that if you’re single and unhappy about it, you must be an idolater as I had been. But do consider examining and possibly rethinking 1. your motives, 2. your priorities, and 3. where you are finding your identity. Are you living your life secure in your identity as a servant, a lover, and a daughter of Christ? Or are you drawing your identity from something else?

What’s your golden calf?

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Can I please just take a moment to say how much I hate my work computer?

Thank you.

And now, your Friday Frivolity (which was skipped last week, alas). If this is the typical experience, not only am I glad that I decided I will elope to Vegas if the time ever comes for me, but I’m also thinking of changing this blog’s tagline to a simple, “Thank Goodness!” (Don’t tell Bethany.)

Wow. Such…joy?

Happy Friday!

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I have this thing about analogies: I love them. I can pull them out of the air like you wouldn’t believe. That’s probably a huge reason why I absolutely love Dr. House. Strictly speaking, of course, that would mean it’s the writers of House that I love. But that’s being picky. Anyway, Bethany and I are always laughing at the random analogies I come up with to illustrate life’s weirdnesses, and Tuesday was no exception.

To provide a bit of background for the analogy, here’s an abridged version of the Gchat conversation we were having when I had the brainwave:Bethany: It’s weird. I started making a list of an alternate projection of my life sans man.
Because yeah, I guess it’s totally possible that I’ll never get married.
And so I want to at least be able to look out at the future (which I am well aware I cannot project) and at least have a sort of interesting vista.

me: And what have you found?

Bethany: Well, among other things that God really means it when he says not to worry about tomorrow and to seek first the kingdom
So, that I should be doing things I can actually do
And change things I can actually change

me: Aha

Bethany: But I’ve also realized that to have a productive, happy single life, I’ll have to have more initiative than I would if I were married
But that’s probably not a bad thing. …
I really do think singleness, whether for a week or a lifetime, takes creativity
Because, marriage is sort of the — pre-planned life path.

me: Oh, that’s very true.
And probably why a lot of people consider it the boring, and/or “cop out” route.

Bethany: Probably so. It is definitely my “default”
Which isn’t bad, but if it doesn’t happen, I’m going to have a good life. Darn it.

me: Though the crew on the S.S. Boundless would argue otherwise, that marriage is a more exciting adventure than anything singleness could POSSIBLY offer.

Bethany: Haha
And I say, with you, HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF PAUL?

Anyway, so that’s how our conversation was going…So I thought…

You know what? Let’s say that marriage and singleness are both different meals that you can have.

Marriage is like a traditional Thanksgiving meal—you already have an idea of what’s coming, and what foods are involved: turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie. This meal, however, involves other people, working together to make sure the meal goes well, that it is attractive and nutritious and delicious and not boring, and that those in attendance do not drive each other crazy.

Singleness is like having a pile of different ingredients at your disposal, but you are putting together the meal by yourself, from scratch deciding what you want to get out of it, and which ones you combine to achieve that goal. Oh, and you don’t have a recipe.

If you are a lifelong single, you have to consume what you make … so it better be tasty, nutritious, and enjoyable, making good use of the ingredients and resources you have.

If you eventually get married, the same thing applies, but whatever you’ve made while you’re single (“food baggage,” if you will) is going to be brought to the “Thanksgiving dinner”—and someone else has to eat it with you. So, again, you better make it good.

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Do you ever listen to speakers, and they say something that sticks to you, even though it’s not wholly related to the topic and would normally get lost in the flow of words and ideas? That happened to me this past Sunday at church. The message was part two of two, discussing the church community. (Because of out-of-town travels, I missed part one.) It was a good message, but there was something that I heard that wasn’t a main point, but it got plugged into my head and stayed there.

The speaker (not our usual pastor) discussed service within the Christian church community, and briefly compared it to marriage. In a marriage, he said, instead of looking for the right person, what you should be focused on is being the right person. He went on to discuss other points, but that one sentence is what I remember most from the message.

There are two reasons, I think, that this stuck with me:

1. It’s true.

2. I have failed.

As my own worst critic, I struggled to avoid thinking, “I haven’t been doing this, therefore I’m a horrible person.” That’s another trap we must avoid. There’s a balance between liking oneself and recognizing one’s faults. Of course we should be humble, but not to the point where we fail to recognize our merits. Of course we should be aware of our faults, but not so much that we consider improvement to be impossible.

For those single ladies out there who don’t want to be single: Where is your focus? Are you constantly looking outward, at the world around you, keeping an eye out for that one person who will catch your attention, the one you’ve been waiting for? Do you have a long checklist that this person must meet, otherwise it’s no use? Are you only looking outward, instead of upward (to God) and inward (at yourself)?

Could you meet someone’s checklist? Oh, I’m not talking about “blue eyes” or “over 5’5″” or “athletic,” but qualities that a sane, genuine, emotionally healthy person wants in a spouse. While you’re searching for the right person, are you working on becoming the right person—that is, Christlike? Or are you rejecting people because they have specks in their eyes, when you have an entire plank that has been ignored?

Have you been cultivating a spirit of generosity, kindness, love, and honesty? Have you been forgiving when you are sinned against? Have you been apologetic for the sins you’ve committed against others? Have you been someone worthy of trust? Have you been growing in your walk with God, putting Him first in your time, resources, and decisions?

And if you haven’t … then why should you deserve someone who has?

This can be so frustrating, because it’s hard. Ultimately, yes, it is the Holy Spirit that changes hearts and minds and forms us into a more Christlike shape. But there is work for us to do, and sometimes—most of the time—we don’t feel like it. At least I don’t—I just want to be who I am, and have someone accept me that way.

But friends, that’s nothing but stagnation—and it literally stinks.

So what should we do? Take our cues from Micah 6:8: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

But also remember that we should be cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22-23 says it is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

But the reason it is the Fruit of the Spirit is because it is not our fruit—we can’t grow it ourselves. That’s why we need the Holy Spirit to initiate the change, while we perform the work God has for us.

I’m not saying, “Do these things and you will get a husband/boyfriend/significant other.”

I’m saying that these are the things that attract the right kind of people, and make us into the right kind of people. And it involves putting God first, which is always the first step

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[Insert usual apology for lack of posting]

So, let’s say that you’re not quite ready for marriage, and you’re not really in love yet. But is there a guy you’re interested in? Someone you’d like to get to know better? Is he hott?

But … what would you DO together?

[No, not that. This is a Christian blog, silly.]

Following the regressive theme of the past few FFs, check out this video for some advice:

Happy Friday!

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