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Married People are Insufferable

I am not here to complain.

I consider myself to be more of a truth-talker than anything.

I will tell it like it is. I don’t sugar-coat it.

Married people are insufferable.

Some of the married population never really knew what it was like to be single in the first place. I mean, come on. If you married your high school sweetheart, you have no idea what it’s like to be single because you have never had to do any part of what the kids these days call #adulting without someone else by your side. If you’ve never “#adulted independently of a romantic partner, you have never been single.

#SorryNotSorry

If you got married in college or before you had to start being responsible for your own finances, you probably don’t truly know what it’s like to be single either. College, for many people, is an extension of childhood during which a student still enjoys being on their parents’ insurance, Mom and Dad help figure out the finances and the car and some parents even do their college student’s laundry. I’m not saying this is bad or wrong. But if you fit in this category, you haven’t #adulted today. If you got married while you still had this level of support from your family, you don’t know what it’s like to be single.

People tend to forget what singleness is like the instant the engagement ring goes on the finger.

Some forget what it’s like to be single as soon as the relationship is defined as a bona fide relationship.

If the selective amnesia doesn’t kick in instantly, it does come eventually, most often by the time the wedding band slips into place. In some cases it lies dormant until the first big fight or until the monotony of having the same person waking up next to you morning after morning begins to set in.

It doesn’t much matter how long it takes. It comes eventually.

And it is insufferable.

They complain about how horrible it is to be married.

Or they sit with a single person and they chide said single person because they don’t love the “freedom” of being single.

A married person might listen to a single person, feigning great interest in their circumstances and when the single person stops talking, offer a condescending remark about how they need to get right with Jesus because they have a “horrible attitude” about their lives.

The previous example happened to me recently. Today, in fact.

Someone made the statement that the book Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers) is a wonderful book.

I contributed to the conversation by saying that it is a brilliantly written and excellent book, but it is extremely frustrating for single people who don’t love being single.

They told me that I didn’t understand the story.

I understand it completely. I have a degree in reading (in the words of my brother) and in the many, many literature classes I’ve taken, I learned to recognize symbolism and find meaning in places the average person wouldn’t find symbolism and meaning. I also know the Bible. I know it quite well. I am very familiar with the story of Hosea and how his life was a foretelling of the redeeming love of Jesus. I understand that both Hosea was and Jesus is a man who loves people regardless of what they have done. It is beautiful and I love the concept of redeeming love very, very much.

But the book is frustrating. It brings that story into a slightly more modern-day time period and presents the “love story” between a man who marries a prostitute because “God told him to” with the intention of having his love change her into a woman of grace and beauty.

It’s a lovely idea.

I’m going to let my inner cynical old hag out, for just a moment, and make the comment that in the time period and geographical area in which this story took place, there were many more men than women. If this were a true story, it wouldn’t have been so much about a man proving a point as it would have been about a man who desperately wanted to have legitimate sex and operated under the delusion that marrying a prostitute would both provide him with legitimate sex and with a godly wife who had no interest in other men, simply because he picked her. If I remember the details of the biblical story correctly, it didn’t work out that way for Hosea. It didn’t work out that way for Jesus. It probably wouldn’t work out that way for anyone else either.

The book frustrates me because I’ve followed all the Good Girl Formulas. Things like:

Go to Church + Don’t Kiss Boys = Wedded Bliss

Pray + Dress Modestly = All the Men Want to Date You

Don’t Have Sex + Behave Demurely = Engaged by Age 22

Read the Bible + Don’t Talk to Men = It’ll Happen Before You Have Time to Wonder What’s Taking So Long

All the formulas. All of them.

I’ve learned that they are all lies. There is no such thing as quid pro quo when it comes to these things. God doesn’t do “If you do this, then I’ll do that” when someone else’ free will is involved.

I’ve had Christian men refuse to date me because I was too innocent. Or too godly. Literally, if I had been a prostitute, I would have gotten somewhere with those (Christian) men.

As I read Redeeming Love, I thought to myself, “The formula is to become a prostitute. Being chaste doesn’t work. Being godly doesn’t work. No matter what I do, I’m not good enough. So I might as well try being a prostitute. It worked for Hosea’s wife. It worked for the prostitute in this book. Why wouldn’t it work for me?”

Of course, that’s not the kind of person I am and I’m not actually going to become a prostitute — which makes it even more frustrating because the only thing I haven’t tried is something that I wouldn’t try. It really makes me feel like a victim of my circumstances. A girl can’t win no matter what she does because there are limits.

The other person responded by chiding me for making the story about sex trafficking (um…. the story is about sex trafficking) and told me I was being disrespectful to women who are trafficked (???) and the cherry on top was when she asked for permission to add me to her prayer list because she didn’t want to argue about it with me anymore.

Wow.

Just. Wow.

For the record, I wasn’t arguing. But you want to not argue? Just patronize me. Talk to me with a condescending tone. I wasn’t arguing. But now that you mention it…. Now I feel like arguing.

* * * * *

My response to the person’s preposterous statement was promptly deleted.

Further proof that married people are completely clueless about how truly difficult it is to be single, especially among married church people.

One might ask what my point is. Why make a ruckus about it?

I don’t talk about singleness every day. I don’t even think about it every day.

But having people shut me down as soon as I start talking about it gets old.

It says that my experience is not relevant or important. It says that my feelings don’t matter. It says that I don’t matter.

I’m sorry my experience is hard for you to hear about and watch. I’m truly sorry. But if you think it’s hard to listen to or watch and you feel the need to shut it down because it just doesn’t fit with your expectations as a Christian person…. you should really try living it.

You should try doing everything alone.

You should try coming home to an empty house day in and day out.

You should try having people pat you on the head and tell you you’re cute when you talk about it.

You should try listening to people tell you to get over it.

You should try talking about your places of woundedness and having people shut you down and tell you it doesn’t matter.

You should try having people getting in your business all the time because you’re just a little (single) girl and they don’t think you can do life without their input.

You should try to be an adult woman in a community that doesn’t recognize women as adults unless a man comes along and validates their existence by choosing to marry them.

You should try to function as a minister as a single person. Let me tell you — that does not go over very well in many circles.

You should try to live in a way that you understand to be godly and also try to date. (Hint: They either don’t want a godly woman or you’re not godly enough. There’s no winning on this one.)

You should try being not good enough and too good, both at the same time, depending on who you’re talking to, and rejected by everyone because of things that you can’t begin to comprehend.

You should try talking to people who have no concept of your circumstances and try to get them to understand.

They won’t understand. It is a truly frustrating situation to be in. You feel very isolated and alone and the harder you try to help people to understand, the more alone you feel because they don’t get it and they don’t care enough to try to understand.

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Posted by on April 21, 2018 in Current Events, Rants

 

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His Love Restores

Do you know how it is that I can find so much joy in caring for a child who doesn’t speak, walk or do anything for himself?

I believe in his ability. Maybe he doesn’t talk today. But maybe he understands what I am saying to him. Maybe tomorrow he will vocalize something. Every syllable he says, even if it’s not a real word, counts. Every sound matters. Maybe tomorrow he’ll put two letter sounds together. Maybe…. I believe in his strengths, I believe in his abilities and I believe that no one stays the same. Everyone, regardless of their ability, can grow. There is hope for everyone, even the child who cannot speak.

I also believe in God’s ability and willingness to restore us. I believe that the God who invented brains knows how to fix brains too. I believe that God knows every millimeter of brain matter in our heads and He knows exactly what to do in order to make a brain function exactly the way it is supposed to function.

Because of these two beliefs, I watch expectantly. I wait patiently. And I rejoice exceedingly at every little thing that happens that indicates growth and restoration. It can happen. Sooner or later, one way or another, whether it’s physical healing on this earth or we go to live with Jesus where all things are made new (and there’s cookies and ice cream and swings and bikes!), we will be restored.

There is hope for everyone. I watch. I wait. I play with him in ways that don’t makes sense to people who don’t believe in his abilities plus God’s ability to restore him. And every so often…. something happens….

And I have a mini heart attack. And then pick myself up off the floor as I wipe away tears….

And I pray that he does it again. And again. And again….

Because His love restores.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2018 in Current Events

 

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But, Don’t Ask Why

I don’t want to be a whiner.

But….

Why?

Have you ever looked at your life and thought “Why does it have to be this way?”

Of course you have. Everyone has moments of wondering.

Or days.

Or years.

Some of us have had a lifetime of wondering.

Then I saw all that God has done.
No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun.
Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning.
Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it.
Ecclesiastes 8:17

People have questioned their circumstances for millennia. In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon writes that even though we search out the reasons and the meaning behind our circumstances, no one can truly know.

Perhaps there are better questions to be asking than simply asking “Why?”

For those questioning your circumstances, I offer several questions that might help you view your life a little differently than you have until now:

  • How can I live through these circumstances in a way that honors those around me and brings glory to God?
  • What does my life look like from God’s perspective?
  • What does God see when He looks at me in these circumstances? What emotion does He feel when He sees my struggle?
  • How could this situation actually be for my good?
  • Are there any steps I can take to change my circumstances? What are they? Do I need support to carry them out? Who can help me?

As long as we seek to understand the “why” of our circumstances, we will be in constant search for meaning. We can’t fully know why. But we can seek to understand God’s love for us. That changes everything.

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love.
Song of Solomon 8:6-7(a)

He loves us.
Oh, how He loves us!

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:33-36

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2018 in Profundities

 

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What is Your Calling?

Have you ever thought about the concept of your calling in life?

I was asked to ponder that question recently. What exactly does “calling” mean? What is my calling in life? What does it look like?

Calling and vocation are not the same thing. Everyone has a different vocation, but everyone who follows Jesus has the exact same calling.

Our calling, as followers of Christ, is to simply do everything we do with the same kind of love and compassion as Jesus. Our calling is to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Our calling is to meet people where they are and love them in that place in the same way that Jesus loves us.

This means two things. First, we are called to sacrifice of ourselves. Jesus gave up His very life for us. Most of us are not going to be asked to make that kind of a sacrifice, but we are asked to serve others at times when it’s not convenient. (Hint: it’s almost never convenient.) Most of what it means to sacrificially love people involves service. It might involve helping them pay a bill they don’t have money for. It could also involve easier things like taking the time to have coffee with them. Basically, it’s being mentally and emotionally present, even if it’s hard.

Secondly, we are called to extend grace. We are called to embrace people we don’t agree with and people who are difficult to love. Jesus did this so beautifully when He chose to extend grace to each of us.

We are called to be like Jesus.

Several years ago, I read the New Testament with the intention of taking note of the things Jesus did, why He did them and the attitude He did them with. He did things like hanging out with people that no one liked. You know — the tax collectors (thieves), the prostitutes, the disabled, the people with contagious diseases, the people possessed by demons and the people that no one wanted. Jesus chose those people. The ones who needed Him the most. The ones most lost. He picked them and then he provided for their needs. He healed them. He delivered them. He set them free. He talked with them and helped them see a better way. And he did it all with humble love and compassion. That is what we are called to do.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2018 in Current Events, Profundities

 

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Busy-ness

Even very good things can sometimes become very bad for you.

I’ve been thinking lately about how full my life is. And I’ve noticed a pattern.

I fill my life to the brim in an effort to not have to think about how my life is void of everything I’ve ever desired in life.

When I was growing up, I dared to dream of having a husband and children. I knew it wasn’t likely to happen, but I thought maybe, if I played the cards right, things could work out.

As much as I want the desire to go away, it just won’t.

So I try to drown the sorrow of disappointment in a flood of activity.

Volunteering for every opportunity to serve at church.

Taking on every friend’s sorrows and trials.

Picking up every open shift at work.

Pursuing degrees, certifications and other educational opportunities.

Studying voraciously any number of topics. Health. Natural wellness. Oils, oils, oils. Psychology.

Reading everything I can get my hands on. Books. Magazines. Textbooks. Fiction and non-fiction. Then giving up fiction because the fantasy world in many works of fiction hurts my heart.

This past holiday season, I worked tirelessly because I could. It was holiday pay and overtime and it made everyone else feel good about their situation so there I was. It wasn’t bad. I love my job and if I can’t do holidays with my family, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than at my job. It doesn’t feel too much like a job so it was ok. (For the record, I asked to work a lot because I couldn’t get enough time off to go anywhere. I figured that if my options were to sit at home alone or to be at work, I’d rather be at work where I’d at least have someone to talk to.)

But they gave me several days before New Year’s off.

I had a mini crisis during my time off because for the first time in months, I had time to think and I felt like I was losing it. I cried for like 4 days straight.

It was then that I realized that for the past (roughly) 15 years, I’d crammed my life so full of good things that it numbed the pain of disappointment. As long as I was doing something or going somewhere, I was ok because I didn’t have to face how empty my life was.

I don’t think busy-ness is bad or wrong. I think sometimes God works through us in our deepest pain. Sometimes we need the activity just to give us a reason to get out of bed and sometimes many beautiful and lovely things can come out of those places of sorrow. Sometimes, for short periods of time, keeping busy is necessary and good. It helps us and it helps our families and friends, our churches and schools. Sometimes, busy-ness is a good thing.

But when it goes on…. for 15…. years….

That is when it becomes unhealthy.

Well, maybe it becomes unhealthy many years sooner than that. My point is, if you have to be that busy for a long time (longer than a few weeks to a few months), something is wrong and you need to address it.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know what to tell anyone who might be struggling with this. I don’t even know how to help myself with this.

I’ve been thinking in the weeks since New Year’s about faith and how it pertains to the concept of busy-ness.

For many years, I was at church every time the door was open. I prayed. I read the Bible. I volunteered in ministries. I did everything I could. I did it to numb the pain and forget the sorrow. I found joy and laughter in it (sometimes) but it did nothing to heal the ache that no one saw.

I think it’s easy for us to think that if we’re focusing on God, we are doing good. It’s especially easy to think that by praying, serving and seeking God, we are moving in the direction of healing. Jesus is the healer, right? If we’re seeking Jesus, the Healer, we’re bound to find healing and restoration eventually, right?

Looking back on it, I can tell you that is not always the case. There have been times when I’ve used the words “I’ll pray about that” as a way to avoid making difficult decisions that would propel me into freedom. Sometimes I used church or ministry opportunities as an excuse to not do the things that would bring true restoration to my soul. Sometimes very good things — like prayer, ministry opportunities, church meetings and Bible studies — are the reason we stay stuck.

Don’t let good things come in the way of the best things.

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.
John 10:10

I’m not saying that everything a person does to keep busy is bad. I’m not saying that church and Christianity are bad. I’m saying that busy-ness can be the thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy. I’m saying that sometimes the thief (Satan) uses very good things to destroy us or to keep us in places of pain. Our job is to honestly assess the motives behind what we are doing and only do those things that will bring us abundant life.

If the Son sets you free, you are free, indeed!
John 8:36

Jesus has already set us free. We have only to figure out how to live free. We aren’t living free if we’re filling our lives to the brim with things that are designed to numb our pain.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2018 in Current Events, Profundities

 

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The Presence of God

I’ve been to a lot of church services. I’ve been to many different churches and many different kinds of churches. You know — there’s your typical evangelical church and the charismatic church. There’s the go-with-the-flow kind of church where whatever happens, happens and there really isn’t a preplanned way that things are supposed to be. There are churches that are more liturgical and planned out.

Some churches that I’ve been to focus a lot on getting “more of God.” The idea is that if you pray more, fast more, read the Bible more…. basically, work harder, be more devout and sort of prove your seriousness about it, God will grace you with His presence.

I have never been a fan of the concept of striving for God. I have never really agreed that God responds to the formulas that we create. In fact, when I’ve been presented with that doctrine in church settings, I’ve been the person who was sort of “civilly disobedient.” They would say “God will come if we shout.” (Or dance, sing, speak in tongues, evangelize, raise our hands, turn around in circles 3 times and say boo, or any number of other things.) Most of the time I would not do it. These things didn’t feel “right” to me.

I recently came across this quote from Richard Rohr:

We’re already in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness.

It’s true. God is omnipresent. That means that God is present everywhere at the same time. To say that you have to strive for God’s presence is to say that God left that place at some point and you have to do something to make Him come back.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there, your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say “surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
Even the darkness will not be dark to you;
The night will shine like the day,
For darkness is as light to you.
Psalm 139:7-12

He is present everywhere. We can’t get more of Him. We can only become more aware of Him. All the striving is useless. Awareness comes with stillness.

Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
Psalm 46:10

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2018 in Profundities

 

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A Moment of Epiphany (From 8 Years Ago)

Note: This is copied from something I wrote in 2010.

Yesterday, my head hurt so badly that I couldn’t think straight and everything looked funny because of pressure on my eyes. But, I needed to make an effort in spite of it all because my neighbor and her baby had stopped by. My neighbor was sweeping up the crumbs on the floor and I was getting ready to take the trash out. My neighbor is nice like that — she knew I didn’t feel good so she swept the floor so I wouldn’t have to worry about it.

I was gathering up the trash and having this inner monologue directed at God….

(Note from 8 years later: Please give me a little grace here — I’m not this childish and self-centered when I’m not sick — or else maybe I really did used to be this way and this incident really did have a profound impact. I don’t know. I don’t enjoy thinking about this portion of my life very much. All I know is I read this and shook my head at how self-centered this sounds.)

“You know, trash isn’t my thing. It’s cold and snowy and I’m a girl. I shouldn’t have to do this. Seriously…. I need a man here…. God, either You need to give me a man or You’ll need to do this for me cuz this is so not my thing.”

It was basically one of those “God, you have to do something” moments.

And He said, “Hold it right there, Missy.”

I knew it was God because everything — my brain, my eyes, my face — ached and I couldn’t put a philosophical thought together on my own if I had wanted to, which I didn’t want to. I just wanted to take the medicine my doctor prescribed and go to bed.

“Hold it right there, Missy,” He said. If you want my blessings, you have to submit to me and the things I put — or haven’t put — in your life.” Submission and passivity are not the same. Submission does not mean accepting things simply because you can’t change them. Submission is agreeing to not wallow in misery because your circumstances aren’t ideal.

*gulp*

“Submission is being open and honest enough to invite me into every area of your life,” He went on, “even the areas that hurt and don’t make sense and that you would give anything to be able to change.”

By this time, I had realized that what I had always thought submission to be — which was basically just sitting there and waiting for God to do something — was entirely wrong.

“Many people think they’ve submitted to me when they invite me into their lives. But I don’t make them submit. I prompt. ‘Hey, are you sure you really want to keep that part of your life in the dark away from the light of my love?’ The choice is yours. You can not experience me and my love completely until you allow me to permeate every area of your heart, mind and will. Even the broken and hurting parts.”

As far as I’m concerned, it’s so much easier to just let it lie and live the lie that everything is just fine. (I mean, except for the part where you lie in bed at night and think about how miserable you are because all that stuff is trapped inside and no one really understands because you’re afraid to even let God see it — as if He doesn’t already know, in spite of your amazing coping mechanisms.)

I guess God felt a little chatty, because He went on, “The key is in inviting. All of it — even the most hurtful and illogical parts — make sense to me. And as I walk through the pain and hardship and loneliness with you (after you invite me along on the journey), I will teach you the meaning and the purpose of it. I will teach you things you would never understand otherwise. As I walk through the valleys with you, joy will spring out of places of pain. I will draw you to myself, and as our hearts are cemented together, I will make you whole. This is what spiritual wholeness looks like.

“But, there’s a reason why that must happen. It’s easier to be emotionally whole when you’ve become spiritually whole first. It’s very hard to find emotional fulfillment — which is what you’re looking for when you ask for someone to take out the trash — if you’re not first spiritually fulfilled.”

That must be why Jesus said “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” I get it now.

And He concluded, “But it all starts with submission. It is a choice that involves being really honest. It’s praying stuff like ‘Lord, this is hard and I need You to walk with me or I just can’t do it. I can’t even walk without You holding my hand.’ It’s about asking me to be part of it, even though you hate it. There isn’t a valley in your life that is so dark that i don’t want to go there with you. If you invite me along, it will change and it will get better. I want to help.

With that, the garbage was bagged and ready to go and I felt like some of my internal garbage — some of the lies I had been believing about how dark and hopeless my life was — had been taken out too.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up. James 4:7-10

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2018 in Old News, Uncategorized

 

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