Prolonged Singleness: Some of Us Don’t Just Feel Unwanted, We Start To Feel Unwantable

It’s not just you, you’re not crazy. I remember how it felt. Not the feeling that nobody wants you — that took a backseat to something new a few years ago: the feeling that nobody could want you. Would ever want you. Something’s got to be wrong with you, and you’re simply unwantable.

Maybe you think you’re too messed up. Too far gone. Have too many issues. Who would want to hitch their wagon to you and all your baggage?

When your head’s on straight, you know it’s not true. Still, most days, you can’t shake the feeling that whatever used to be desirable about you is either gone, or just not enough.

Lady, I have BEEN. THERE.

Your married friends keep telling you what a great catch you are! It feels good for a few moments, and then it rings hollow. Especially their kind-hearted assurance that they “just know God has someone wonderful out there for you!” That’s sweet, but, they can’t know that. No one but God knows that. And God simply won’t tell you whether or not you’ll be single for the rest of your life.

This isn’t going to be a lecture on why such thinking is wrong. If you’re someone who knows the God of the Bible, you likely know it already. Nor is it going to be about all the reasons the right man, if God has marriage in your future, is going to want you. I just hope to commiserate, since I’ve been down that hole, and communicate that climbing out is hard, but possible.

By the way, it wasn’t meeting my spouse that somehow lifted me out. I had to find a rope and climb. The rope was the slow, consistent work of God to comfort me, and gently show me the idol of my heart. He comforted me with the truth that He had created me, without design flaws, for specific works He had prepared beforehand (Ephesians 1:10). He comforted me with the truth that He would never abandon the progress He was making in my sanctification (Philippians 1:6).

Owning up to the fact that my idol was being chosen by a good man, refocusing that worship to Christ, and finally grasping what true contentment is — those changes got me to a place of real joy two years before Aaron ever moved to Arkansas.

It wasn’t for me to be consumed with whether God’s plan for me included marriage. He had things for me to do, now. As a single. These were not, are not, wasted years.
Unless I waste them.

Regarding contentment; boy, there are a lot of articles out there right? But, I believe it can be boiled down to one sentence. The ones I usually hear/read are:
“Contentment is not wanting anything more that you want Christ.”
“Contentment is finding your satisfaction in God.”
Well, those are true, and I understood them, but I clearly still lacked something in the application. Then someone told me another single sentence, the most life-changing thing I’d ever heard since the Gospel, that finally drove it home in my heart:

“If you aren’t content without it, you’ll never be content with it.”

Turns out, what I needed to understand wasn’t the true nature of contentment, but the nature of discontentment.

Whatever it is we want so much — marriage, that different job, a baby, restored health, anything — getting it will not magically make us content. There will always be a next thing. The insidious little worm of discontentment will keep chewing holes through our hearts until we choose to make God’s current provision the joy we fill them with.

God is so full of grace for us as we learn this, especially in the midst of intense trial and grief. He knows that we are only dust (Psalm 103). He is patient.

All this doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to make good changes and pursue better options for work or what have you. It’s okay to want good things! But the test of our contentment lies in how our hearts respond when we don’t get them . . . or, often, during the long years that we still aren’t getting them.

Feeling unwantable? Take a deep breath. Meditate on verses about what God has done for your soul. Examine your heart. Ask for His help, and look around for what God is doing in your life, instead of staring at what He’s not doing.

One of the heaviest trials of my life came along while this understanding began take root in my heart. After the initial shock and grief, relentlessly looking for the good that God was accomplishing is what has gotten me through it. There has been so, so much good.

So look up, and turn your head. You might just find some of the greatest joys of your life.

 

Are You Trying to Run Someone Else’s Race?

The race metaphor for the Christian life seems to have endless applications. I keep thinking of more, or hearing friends make comparisons I hadn’t thought of. Most recently, it hit me that if I had tried to run those two marathons at someone else’s level of fitness and training, I would never have finished. There’s a lesson in that for my wretched little heart.

Both race days, a lot of people started one or three corrals ahead of me — the “elite” runners pawing the grown up front in corral A, and me way down the road, corral D, just ahead of the walkers. At a pace of 12-13 minutes per mile, there was no way I could have run a race like corral A runners. Nor even like the people in C! If I had pushed myself too hard and too fast, I wouldn’t even have made it to mile 5.

I had to run my own race.

Everyone else had to run theirs.

What did that mean for me? I had to stop and stretch when my body needed it, to eat what worked for me without upsetting my stomach, and most counter-intuitively, to walk for one minute every two minutes.

As a Christian I am in a race. As a sinner I often try to run it like people who aren’t me — usually those I envy in some way. But if it’s true that God sanctifies each of us in His own time, with a unique set of disciplines, trials, and gifts, why would I place on myself the expectation to be just like them?

Let me make an important distinction here: there is a difference between what I’m trying to describe and seeking to imitate those whose Christianity you admire. We are commanded to disciple one another, following the examples of more mature believers and being an example to others in turn.

The key is to look around and choose from those who are running ahead of you, and follow. However this doesn’t mean our experience of the race will be the same as theirs. Yes, we are to imitate Christ, and Jesus did say “Be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) But we don’t do that by expecting perfection of ourselves the first day of training. Or the 50th, or the 232nd day. We don’t do that by wishing we had the sames gifts as our best friend, or resenting the discipline and trials God has chosen for us and longing for someone else’s “easier” life.

If God has put us in the race, then He has also provided the body and the tools with which He wants us to run it. He commands us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us” (Hebrews 12:1b). Sometimes that weight is crippling perfectionism, sinful envy, or mistrust of God’s wisdom.

Distance racing has “pacers” — one person in each corral wearing a bright colored vest and a carrying a tall narrow sign with the time in which they will race. They’re chosen as pacers for being remarkably consistent, it’s amazing. Runners who wish to keep that pace make an effort to stick near them. This might represent those we desire to follow in our Christian race. Personally if I try to follow the 4 hour pacer, I’m dead meat in 20 minutes. I don’t have the gifts they have. I haven’t trained to that level. Yet. It’s a good goal! So, work toward it in training. But in the heat of the race, in the heat of trials, I have to give myself grace to run with what God has given me.

Okay, so it’s a limited metaphor after all. But I hope it’s clear enough what I’m getting at; in our God-pleasing efforts to be more holy, more obedient, more like those who are more like Christ, beware of perfectionism and envy.

Yes, we pursue excellence, we exercise the spiritual disciplines and work hard to make progress. God-willing someday we will be running at a whole new level! In training we do have goals. Just remember it takes time to get there. Time, patience, and attention to what God has given us to work with.

The rest of Hebrews 12:1 says “and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

I love that word, endurance. It assumes hardship. Jesus promised hardship. “In this life you will have trouble.” (John 16:33)

I can and must seek to run with as much endurance as those whose examples God wants me to follow, but I mustn’t forget He is working in each of us differently, to endure different things. We must run our own race, thanking Him for the perfect wisdom that decrees its path.

 

Number Nineteen

Everything’s in except the piano. Another move in the books. From a rented pool house in a friend’s backyard to a 2-bedroom apartment twenty minutes closer to town and five minutes from church. It’s my eighth move in the ten years I’ve lived in Arkansas, and it’s the third move in four years here for Aaron. The other day I counted up the number of places I’ve called “home” since being born. This is number nineteen. That seems like a lot for thirty-three years. Thankfully only a few of them involved an uprooting from one whole area or state to another. Two were international. I never could relate to friends who had all their memories in one house. Part of me envied that, but I loved my family’s adventures too. My mom excels at packing. Unfortunately I only partially inherited/absorbed this skill.

My husband has moved a fair bit for his age as well. His father was Army for 30 years. For my part, God made me a homebody who loves travel. I love seeing the world, and I even like a lot about the hectic excitement and apprehension of moving to a new area, but when I’m home I want to be home. Don’t need to find something to do downtown thank you, I’ll enjoy a book by the fire or on a blanket under a tree in the yard in Spring. Maybe a play or musical once in a while if a good one comes through town. So, for years now I’ve said that I figure God has one of two reasons for having nudged me all around the country and the world; 1) He has allowed the moving and travel (nine countries) so that if I never get to move or go anywhere again, I’ll have absolutely no excuse for complaint (not that there would be anyway), because just look at the places and people I’ve gotten to experience!

Or 2), He’s preparing me for more.

Well, now I’ve married into the military. So it’s looking like the latter. Aaron is Air Force. He wants so badly to see the world, to go fight the monsters. And I want him to be able to. He’s ready. I’ll miss him, but I want him to get that chance. They haven’t sent us anywhere yet but we can bet quite a few more moves lie ahead, especially considering his long term goals. But as you all know, here’s the thing about “home”: it’s where the people you love most are, regardless of the point on the globe. In that sense, a lot of us have several homes. We are blessed with people. I feel like I’ll always have homes in Minnesota, California, South Africa, and Arkansas. Despite all the times my family has picked up and left, God has given me wonderful people; family, church families, and friends that have defined home for me.

And now, my husband. I look around this cozy apartment and I’m so grateful for God’s provision. For yet another place to call home. Until it changes once again.
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When The Mother’s Day Roses Turn Black

On May 25th, we learned for certain that I had miscarried our honeymoon-baby at 9 weeks. It was 10:30 in the morning. “Happy two months of marriage, babe.” We cried, but we smiled too. It really had been a wonderful two months.

Aaron and I were house-sitting at the time, and our own home is a rented pool-house in a friend’s backyard. Where would we bury our little one? So at first, my baby was in a small container in the fridge. That really messes with your head.

Friends and family brought meals, praying for and with us. But a few days later we had to face moving back home with that tiny Tupperware until a burial location could be found. We drove two vehicles, so I had to figure out where to put the baby while I drove. In my lap? Carefully on the front seat? It was all so wrong. Then when we got home…walk in, put him in our fridge. Oh how we wept.

We had been married only 7 weeks. (They count weeks from the first day of the woman’s last cycle, hence the apparent discrepancy.) But we had the comfort and love of God shown constantly through those who love us. And most precious, through one another.

Just the week before, Aaron had given me six beautiful red roses for my first Mother’s Day, and I had taken them along to house-sit. They sat on the coffee table all through those ten days, and after the miscarriage I couldn’t bear to throw them away. One day I noticed that, while usually the petals would begin to wilt and fall off by then, these had not done so. Six perfectly formed roses still looked up at me out of that vase; not a petal had fallen, but they had turned black. And yet, I couldn’t help but be grateful for how beautiful they still looked. Our baby was gone, but I’m still a mom. My dear young husband is still a dad.
The night we came home from the ER, Aaron was naturally struggling with the awful feeling of being unable to help. Sitting there on the floor I told him that the best way a father can help his children is to love their mother well, and because he was loving me so well he was already the best father he could possibly be.

We did bury our little one about two weeks later. We have grieved in our own way, tears coming at random sometimes or brought on by seeing pregnant friends. It’s been very important to me to make sure none of them think I don’t want to see them or share in their joy. I do!

Our hearts are still full of joy, truly. It was a difficult passage, but we are so thankful for each other and for God’s work in our lives through it. I definitely have a new level of compassion for all of you who have been through this, some of you many times. I am so very sorry for your losses.

Thank you all for praying for us during that time, and since. We truly lacked nothing.

God is good, all the time!

The Single Thing

Since getting married I’ve thought a lot about writing something to my single friends. I suppose every single-longer-than-she-wanted-to-be Christian wife has considered doing this, and I’m willing to bet that if you’re a single woman reading the blogs out there, you feel like ALL of them have done it . . . repeatedly.

Another one, really? Is it some kind of right of passage that you married people feel like you have to go through — write the blog to the still-single demographic that you were a part of, oh I dunno, five months ago?

I get it. I’ve had that thought. So how do I know that what I might have to say would be any good? Well, I don’t. But I do know that every time I pushed past those bitter feelings and read the words of women who had at last gotten their heart’s dearest wish, it helped.

Their disillusionment helped me keep perspective.

Their joy helped me remember that disillusionment doesn’t mean disappointment.

Their charges to be content in singleness — or I wouldn’t be content married either — helped me be obedient to God, and find all satisfaction in Him.

In 2013 I wrote my own blog on that last point, The Gift of a Gift Withheld.  It was probably the single most important thing I ever internalized. No pun intended.

So I will continue to consider what, if anything, I have to say to my still-single friends from a recently-married nothing-figured-out perspective that could possibly be of encouragement.

One thing I can say right now: God’s wisdom is trustworthy!

 

Snippets

Another attempt to revive this blog. I seem to leave it dormant for months at a time. Also, it recently struck me how much of my tone here is corrective; that’s not beneficial to anyone, and although my goal is usually to exhort, the result certainly reveals my pride. I aim to correct that. 

Ive been ruminating on a few post ideas, but have yet to make the time to write. In addition to matters that interest and concern me, I would also like to take a more light, every-day tone and share little happenings and photos from my life that are less likely to interest Facebook in general, but will be here for closer friends and family who wish to see them.

If you’re reading this you probably already know about the man God has seen fit to bring into my life; naturally, he will be featured with growing prominence. 😋 He’s pretty easy on the eyes, if I may say so, but I’ll reign myself in at least a little. Were I to tell you a mere fraction of the funny and kind things he’s said and done, I’d break the internet.

So here are a few snippets from life lately!

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In the middle of October, Aaron’s parents and brother came to visit and we climbed Pinnacle Mountain. Beautiful weather!

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Sometimes I help cover the front desk at FamilyLife. You never know who will call — I’ve talked to Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes — or who’s going to walk in the door. One morning I looked up to see Paul David Tripp and his mustache two feet away from my face! I nearly jumped out of my skin. Never heard the doors open.

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Our pastor has been teaching through Matthew, so when we saw these huge bottles of lamp oil at Wal-Mart, well, we couldn’t resist!

In June we got to pop up to Niagara for a day in the middle of visiting family in Pennsylvania. Leslie Ann was able to meet us there and we had a grand time. There was also quad-riding with my Uncle David!

And a few weeks ago Aaron was awarded the service medal for his time in the Honor Guard last year. (Apologies for the sideways photo, I can’t get it to rotate.)

It’s been a wild, fantastic, hectic year!

 

Meet Miranda…

 

Flowers from the fella


 

Lincoln’s birthday plays a role in our story…

 

 

5 Staton men

 

 

That’s a 105 caliber shell casing.

 

Four trips to Texas, two to Oklahoma, and one to Pennsylvania and New York, I have spent a LOT of time in the car these last few months. Plus all the wonderful busyness of life in Little Rock. Like I said, it’s been a wild year. But a wonderful one! And tomorrow, our church singles group goes to Silver Dollar City for the day…

I Know Words Can Kill, ’cause Something’s Dead

“I Want to Say I’m Sorry” . . . I love this song. Andrew Peterson covers it all. This is how to apologize. Especially when we’ve sinned against one another with our words.

As someone with a history of a particularly sharp tongue, I have nothing to cling to for help but my hope in the Gospel! Because of the Gospel we can humbly seek each other’s forgiveness. Because of the Gospel we can all look forward, not only to the resurrection of what our sinful words have killed in a relationship, not only to the inner remaking that occurs in us as we are disciplined by our Father, but to the great Last Day when redeemed sinners will sit beside one another at the wedding feast. All forgiven, all spiritually and physically resurrected.

What is most lovely about these lyrics is his acknowledgment of original sin without removing personal responsibility, and the beauty of reconciliation and hope in that future Day when all tears will be wiped away.

(Lyrics and video below.)

I want to say I’m sorry but I don’t know how
But I’m sorry, I’m so sorry now
I said some words to you I wish I never said
I know words can kill ’cause something’s dead

And now my heart is like a catacomb
And I’m praying we can find a way to raise these bones
Again, oh, again

Well, I want to say I’m sorry but it’s not enough
To close the wounds I opened up
So now I’ve got this sorrow and you’ve got that hurt
And we can’t go back to who we were

Oh, but could that mean I’m someone new
Maybe I can love you better than I failed to do
Before the war

They’ll tell you everything was beautiful and pure
But there was poison in the well from years before
And now I’m cleaning up this wreckage on the shore
And I don’t want to fight with you no more

So I want to say I’m sorry that I drew the line
I built the wall, the fault is mine
And maybe now the only way to find some peace
Is just to give it time and trust in grace

So this is my communion hymn
I want to sit beside you at the feast, my friend
Again, again and again
And again

A Sword Between the Sexes

 

“There is, hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes, till an entire marriage reconciles them.” – C. S. Lewis

“The event of falling in love is of such a nature that we are right to reject as intolerable the idea that it should be transitory. In one high bound it has overleaped the massive of our selfhood; it has made appetite itself altruistic, tossed personal happiness aside as a triviality and planted the interests of another in the centre of our being. Spontaneously and without effort we have fulfilled the law (towards one person) by loving our neighbour as ourselves. It is an image, a foretaste, of what we must become to all if Love Himself rules in us without a rival. It is even (well used) a preparation for that.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

 

Apples of Gold

If Christians are to be known for hating anything, it should be nothing so much as our own sin.

Today I’m thankful for the patience and love of my Mom and sister. Most of us sin against our families more than anyone else and I’m no exception. I put mine through a lot. A sharp tongue and stubborn heart have been my greatest long-term spiritual battlegrounds at home; easier to control around the office, church, and friends . . . but with family? So difficult. Improvement has certainly occurred over time, but it’s been slow.

Yet they love me enough to say the hard things I so need to hear. And I’d be a fool to ignore them. Thank the Lord, that is at least one aspect that’s beginning to improve more and more: a quickness to let their words in, and accept that they are true. That once again, my family’s right. It’s still a constant battle against pride, to not simply think them too critical, and remember that these are the people who know me best in the world, who see what my behavior is like when unchecked, and again, LOVE ME ENOUGH to say something. To recognize that this is God working through them.

May the Lord help us all to be humble, keep soft hearts, teachable spirits, prayerful attitudes, and take action to change.

Listen to those who love you. Be thankful that they are speaking up.

Mom, Becca, thank you for words fitly spoken.


A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold

In settings of silver.

Proverbs 25:11
(NKJV)
Apples of gold

 

Rated “R”

Today I’ve been thinking about the “R” words that describe what God does for our souls.

Redeems. Rescues. Regenerates. Restores. Renews. Refreshes.

Why? Why does my soul need all these things?

*Redemption*: I need it because I was subject to sin by nature and therefore “a child of wrath”, assigned to everlasting death. But instead of giving me what I deserve, He was merciful, even to the point of buying me back with His own blood. Has anyone else died for me? For you?

*Rescue*: I need it because in my sin I could not save myself! Think of any situation where a helpless person cries out, begging to be snatched away from danger. Once they realize their situation, there’s no pride or reluctance to ask. Just “please help me!” Do you see your need for rescue?

*Regeneration*: I need it because in sin my soul was dead. Like a dead physical heart, a dead spiritual heart can’t make decay begin to run backwards on its own. Nothing but supernatural power can regenerate it. God removed the dead stone of my heart and replaced it with flesh, quickening my soul for the battle against sin. He raised Jesus from the dead and said the same power that He used to raise Him is the power at work in our souls. We can’t even imagine that kind of power. Because Jesus is fully God, He essentially raised Himself from the dead. The most awe-inspiring words ever spoken, in my opinion, were Jesus’s when He said:  “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” (John 10:17-18a) That same power has regenerated my heart.  Do you know He offers to regenerate yours too?

*Restoration*: I need it because, well, with a dead spiritual heart, what do you think the rest my life was like? Unfit for service or function, like atrophied muscle or a rusted-out engine. He had to restore me, make me into something He can use. Did you know that no matter what you’ve done, He can restore and use you too?

*Renewal*: I needed to be turned into a new creation, from child of wrath to child of God. A relationship where there was once enmity. A new purpose, one that matters beyond our physical lives into eternity. Do you realize you can have a real reason to live?

*Refreshment*: I need it every day, because I am weak and weary in this battle against my sin. He provides His strength, His joy, His beauty. He provides respite when I spend time with Him, peace when I trust Him, joy when I seek and find Him. He refreshes my heart through His other children, my brothers and sisters who also love Christ, who also know what it is to be desperately in need of what we couldn’t provide for ourselves. Do you have a parched, tired spirit sometimes too?

So, there it is. I’ve been bought with a price. Redeemed and rescued! Dear friends, please forgive me when I don’t live like it. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. With God’s help I’m learning and changing, listening to instruction and accepting discipline when I disobey. You who aren’t Christians, that’s why you hear us talking about “growing” all the time.We don’t just mean growing as a person or somehow making ourselves better. We mean that God is raising us, His children. We need the difficulties and trials that make us more like Jesus, and the grace He gives us to endure and excel beyond them bring us out the other side full of even more trust that He knows what He’s doing.

From redeeming us back from His own judgement to refreshing our renewed hearts with His grace. That’s mercy folks. And He offers it to everyone! A gift. Though, there is another “R” word.

Repentance. Turning our backs on the way we used to live. Admit and reject all the selfishness, arrogance, all the ugly attitudes and actions that sin produces. That one takes humility too, and sometimes it’s so hard. But, remember that rescue I talked about? Would you let pride prevent you from letting someone pull you out of a fire, embarrassed because you started it yourself by some dumb mistake, or even maliciously? No. At that point your only thought is for your life.

I pray that you will come to that place for the life of your soul. To the critical moment where you see the desperateness of your plight without God’s intervention. He allowed Himself to be tortured, to endure the full wrath of the Father against our sin, and then to die — so that you and I wouldn’t have to endure eternal separation from Him. And the last “R” word? I mentioned it once already. He rose from the dead. He raised my soul, and He can raise yours.

Please don’t slap away the hand that reaches out to rescue you.