trust Him in the waiting.

God has seriously been checking my heart lately when it comes to dating. I am 32 years old. I have had one serious dating relationship, in which I was engaged to be married. I have not dated in three years. Constantly, I hear the same things. Why aren’t you dating anyone? Maybe you are just too picky. You’ve just got to put yourself out there. Want to go on a blind date, I have some single guy friends?!

While all the voices around me are constantly calling for me to date and “just put myself out there,” there is a much quieter voice that tells me to wait. As I listen to it, it becomes easier to hear it more clearly. It says, “Be still.” God is busy tugging at the door of my heart to focus on Him. I believe that in this season of my life, God is calling me to draw closer to Him and focus on my relationship with Him. One of the many things I love about our God is that He has purposes and plans for our lives.

God wants to focus on healing my heart from past hurts BEFORE I date, marry and have kids. He is enlisting me in a season of abandonment from all the distractions and reckless pursuit of His heart for me.

You see, so often, women put their hope in the opposite sex.  We need to get in the habit of checking our hearts. Are we putting our hopes in guys or the idea of dating, marrying or falling in love with a guy?

Personally, I love when God lovingly corrects me. Again and again, when I have gotten ahead of myself and started to fix my eyes on a guy, God corrects me. He lets me know that he wants my focus on Him. No man should come before Him. No man, not even my future husband. He wants my heart, every last part of it.

Wherever you fix your eyes, there your hope will be as well. When I would date a guy, get all those butterfly feelings and watch myself fall in love, what I was really doing was making a guy my hope.

But. No. More.

I believe God is calling us, his daughters, higher. He wants our hearts. He wants us to rest and find our hope in Him.  Friends, stop seeking men! Stop pursuing their hearts! Stop chasing after that guy!  You can rest in the Father’s arms. He has plans and purposes for your lives. He wants to show us them, but we must first learn to rest in Him. To fix our eyes on Him. And to pursue Him with reckless abandonment.

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giving God the pen.

 

From my own past struggles with singleness and with talking with many of my single friends lately, I have realized that the biggest fear that us single women deal with is that we believe that if we don’t take matters into our own hands, then we will miss every opportunity to be married. I know that might sound absurd- but it’s a real fear that we carry around with ourselves, believing it to be truth.

Today’s guys aren’t often times the most well-trained in the art of winning, pursuing, and cherishing the heart of a woman. But can we blame them? Look at all the modern movies where men are made to look weak, or the fact that women are taking the reins and being the ones to pursue the men. (It’s all very confusing). Continuously I hear women talk about how they feel that they’re playing a game “Survival of the Fittest”, in which the available men quickly get claimed by the most aggressive women, while the ones who guard their feminine mystery and focus on Christ alone get passed over. It truly breaks my heart to see and hear this!

And lets be honest, the modern voices and the urgent whisperings of the enemy don’t make this battle any easier. In the past I attempted to “give God a hand” in finding my spouse (not quite sure what I was thinking), but I was annoyed with the waiting process and believed that I could give God some assistance. Recently I have talked to many girlfriends who feel that EXACT same way; that they need to be strategic and assist God in finding their future husband.

So here is the hard truth…when we believe those things and feel as though the God of the universe who created ALL things needs our help, we are displaying how little faith we have in Him. We are taking the pen out of His hands and attempting to write our own story. But, and this is a big but, if and when the time comes for us to be married, God will orchestrate our love story.  And in the meantime, our focus should be on serving Him and pouring our life out for Him!!! It should not be wasted on desperately seeking a spouse.  Because ultimately, the timing is up to Him, not us.

Why am I so convinced that we are to remain fully dependent upon Christ in every area of our life, including this one?  Because throughout our lives, whether we are willing to acknowledge it or not, God has always been faithful. He sent Jesus to this earth to be a perfect example of living our lives with purpose, His purpose. Jesus did nothing of His own accord, but only did what God instructed Him to do, when God instructed Him to do it.

In John 5:19 Jesus said “most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” And it’s not that Jesus was actually helpless – rather, He deliberately chose to be completely dependent upon His Father for every word, every choice, and every action. What if our lives looked like that? How much different and more fulfilling our season of singleness would be, if we deliberately chose to be completely dependent on God with every word, every choice, and every action!!

Certainly there are steps we can take- I absolutely love praying for my future spouse, whomever it may be. And I’ve learned to focus daily on being obedient to God’s voice as He guides my steps in the process. In this season of singleness, our focus should be pursuing Christ and our relationship with Him.

So here’s the application piece: Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart!! Are you attempting to give God a hand in finding a guy and getting married? Are you trying to create a relationship with someone who you know is not who God has for you? Do you really believe that Christ can fulfill you at the deepest levels of your soul? And are you willing to make Jesus your first love?

These are difficult questions to face. I came face to face with them a couple years ago. I learned that God cares so much more about this area of my life than even I did. He desperately wants to be first place in our hearts, so that He can bless us beyond all we could think or ask. Our God is a loving, faithful, and awesome God! And a heart that is focused on Christ is a doorway into an abundant life, into the most glorious relationship we could ever imagine. I encourage you in this season of singleness to pursue a daily romance with the One who loves you more than you can ever comprehend. He tenderly cares about each and every detail of your life- and yes, that includes who you marry.

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“The Lord Jesus acted at all times on the assumption that His Father was handling the situation, and Jesus simply took care to obey His Father’s instructions.  Even when He was being reviled and tortured, ‘He left His case in the hands of God’ (1 Peter 2:23) By this submission to His Father, Jesus ‘learned obedience’ (Heb 5:8) as a Man, and the obedience was total; ‘He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death – even the death of the Cross’ (Phil 2:8)  Now, as God, He asks the same of you and me.”  Ian Thomas

Waiting on the Lord (even if that means waiting twenty years)

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14)

Do you ever get tired of waiting on God to answer your prayers? I know I do. I can tend to be very impatient- especially when it comes to certain things in my life.

I have found that I get tired of saying the same old prayer day after day, month after month, year after year. Tired of telling God about the same old problems still going on. Tired of hearing myself pray about the same old issues, leading me to wonder if God is as tired of hearing my prayer requests as I am of praying them. I seriously feel like a broken record when it comes to certain areas and seasons in my life.

Recently I got on my knees and just admitted to God that I was simply tired of praying and waiting. I felt exhausted over waiting and felt so defeated.

In a heavy state of emotional exhaustion, I turned to my Bible. I was hoping a few verses would literally jump straight into my heart and give me patience to be content with circumstances in my life where I felt the Lord had me in waiting. I ended up reading about when Isaac’s wife Rebekah gave birth to twin sons. One sentence in particular caught my eye and God used it to speak hope into my soul.

Genesis 25:26 tells us that Isaac was sixty years old when his twins were born; a simple Bible fact, yet profoundly meaningful to me on that specific day.

You see, Isaac had waited patiently for the Lord to provide the perfect wife. He was forty years old when he married Rebekah. That means Isaac waited twenty years for Rebekah to bear children! He was clearly a man of great patience who waited on God. And eventually his patient faith was rewarded.

Isaac earnestly and strongly prayed about his desire. He did not ask God half-heartedly, he pleaded! He begged. He poured his heart out. Isaac trusted that God would provide and continued to pray the same desperate prayer, day after day, month after month, year after year. He never gave up hope that his Lord could make the impossible, possible. And after twenty years, God answered his prayers.

This story is so encouraging! (but also slightly stresses me out). I hope that I don’t have to wait twenty years for my prayers to be answered, but I know that if I do- it is because God as designated that season and time for my prayers to be answered. So yes, it may take twenty years for God to answer our prayers, or it may only take twenty minutes. But today, let’s find comfort in remembering Isaac’s patient faith and take hope in believing that God is not tired of hearing our prayers.

The One He Wants.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

At some point, I think most of us have felt scarred by disappointment, we wonder if anyone would ever choose us. With gaps that make us feel like candidates for rejection, we hope no one will notice our empty places. Sometimes, it seems the only way we’ll get chosen is if all the good ones are picked first. 1 Peter 2:9 reminds that through Christ we are chosen.

God sent His Son to light our darkness and fill the gaps in our hearts. He wants us to hear Him declaring with all His heart, “You are the one I want!”

I love knowing that through everything, God chose me! We have all been through situations that have scarred our hearts and made us feel inferior or inadequate. It has been nine years since I called off my engagement and it took me a long time to realize that my worth was still the same. For a long time I thought that my value decreased because of my circumstances, but they haven’t.

My circumstances actually made me stronger, just like each experience you go through can make you stronger. We often allow our situations to make us feel worthless, and to take away part of who we are. The situations become who we think we are, and we fear moving forward. Women tend to fear loneliness, and because of that, they feel inferior to others. I was at this point once before, but what is truly amazing is that when we are willing to surrender everything before God, He gives us that peace that transcends those unnecessary emotions.

For years after calling off my engagement I was scared that the only option left for me was to wait until all the “good ones” were picked and then decide from there. But that thought could not be farther from the truth. When we can fully grasp that God is in control and loves us unconditionally, we are able to see our TRUE value.We are not created to wait and see what is left over. He created us with the most perfect plan in mind. We are not the extras in the movie of our lives, we are the lead! Yes, we sometimes allow ourselves to fall into the background because we feel we are too damaged. When we have that mindset, we are only selling ourselves short and decreasing our value in ourselves. God sees us as being a treasure; He would never want us to see ourselves as being worthless.

When Peter talks about God choosing us, he is reminding us that through it all, bad and good, God chose us! No situation is too much for Him to handle. And when we allow God to wrap His arms around us, that feeling of loneliness disappears.

We all struggle with fears, whether we are willing to recognize them or not. I have learned over the years that I cannot let those fears control my life. I had allowed fear to control me for so many years, so I can tell you that nothing good comes from being fearful. When we are willing to recognize what scares us and completely surrender that to the One who loves us, He is willing to comfort our hearts and remind us of our true value.

Our value cannot lie in our circumstances or who we ‘think’ we are- it needs to rest in God and who He created us to be. God loves us, values us, protects us, cherishes us, and guides us- we just need to be willing to listen to Him instead of our circumstances. When times get hard, and you are scared of what lies ahead, remember that you are the one that God wants. He will never make you feel inadequate.

People will judge your behaviors without even looking at what trials you have been through that make you who you are. In today’s world, people are too quick to judge and so often we allow those judgments to define who we are. But our identity is in Christ alone! This world has nothing to offer except jealousy, greed, pride, and loneliness. God is willing to show us unconditional love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. So compare the two…there is NO comparison. God is the only option if you want to be truly happy and content in who you are! The world may not choose us, but God does.

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when waiting patiently feels like an impossible task.

“The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.“ Lamentations 3:25-26 (NIV)

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I sat on the bed and unclenched my hands, trying to pray. From my perspective, the past season had gone painfully wrong and I was currently stuck in a season that was beginning to feel more and more like a desert.

My work was overwhelming, with deadlines that came too fast and too often. My relationship status was still ‘single’, which came with endless comments and questions from others. My weight loss journey plateaued, it was beginning to feel like an uphill battle with no results. And my finances came in just as quickly as they went out.

Externally, I was busier than I’d ever been, but on the inside, my soul was barely limping along. So I did what I always do — I tried to figure out how to fix everything. Maybe if I rearranged my work calendar, or worked out more or made more money or was more intentional— maybe then, things would get better. Easier. More hopeful.

But the more I tried to figure things out, the more overwhelmed I became. I started crying out to the Lord, asking the unanswerable question of why: Why were things so hard? Why was there such struggle? Why did I feel so stuck?

God answered me, but not in response to my whys.

As I sat and prayed, God reminded me that all the things I was so desperately trying to secure — life, health and provision — come from Him. I can’t heal myself. I can’t force friendships or relationships. I can’t do my job successfully apart from Him. I was quickly realizing that I can’t in fact run the world. God alone gives us what we need.

All I can do? Pray. And wait.

I pushed out a hard breath as the tears slowed. Waiting is a recurrent theme in my life, but it has never gotten easier. It’s always painful, because it forces me to remember — again — that I’m not in control. I can’t give myself what I need; I can only ask God to heal, renew and provide.

I sat and prayed that God would change our circumstances. Then I opened His Word and read verses that declared that I already have all that I need in Christ. Sitting on my bed, I came to terms with the fact that the Lord has never promised me marriage, He has never promised me a family of my own, or an easy life,  or a full bank account, or perfect health. But He has promised me more of Himself.

I may have to wait for everything else, but I never have to wait for God.

But why is waiting still so hard? Personally, I think it’s because waiting reveals our hearts and how much we want to have control. And in order to wait well, we have to give up that control and stop striving to fix things — and seek Him instead.

Our difficult circumstances may not change easily or quickly, but as we wait on God and put our hope in Him, rather than hoping in a change of situation, we’ll find that He Himself is more than enough for us.  In Christ, we have all that we need.

My Future Is In God’s Hands.

It can be so hard to trust God with my future because I have no idea what’s going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely trust God in so many OTHER areas, but when it comes to my future- I struggle. I don’t think I am alone in this. Anyway, the other day I was thinking about the fact that I would be turning 31 soon and was really struggling to trust God with my future, but more specifically my love life.

I decided to set out on a ‘Trusting God’ Mission. I wanted to trust God MORE and I wanted to completely surrender to Him my future (and my love life). I had no idea what this journey would look like, where it would take me, or the emotional roller coaster I was about to embark on, but I was excited. Excited to see what truths He would reveal to me. While trusting God with my future was one of the hardest things for me to do, I was tired. Tired of trying to do it all. Tired of thinking that my plan for my future was somehow better than God’s plan for my future.

When I began to think about my future, and why it was so hard for me to completely entrust it to God, my mind immediately started listing off all my “what if’s”.

“What if I never get married?”

“What if my best friend moves away?” 

“What if God calls me to do something I’m not good at?”

“What if…?”

“What if…?”

“What if…?”

Worrying about the “what if’s” can be the biggest enemy to our peace and our joy. I know this first hand and it’s definitely no fun. In fact, I have several “what if’s” in my life right now. Life is full of unknowns and unfortunately I don’t think that will ever change. But instead of fretting and worrying over my future, I’ve come to understand some amazing truths that have given me the confidence to totally trust God. (yes, even with my love life).

God brought me to the book of Genesis, and it was there that He encouraged my spirit. It was from an unlikely place in the Bible and from an unlikely man.  I came across a familiar story of a man who was facing a lot of “what if” questions, just like me. And you know what? This man was also struggling to trust God with His future. (God certainly has a sense of humor).

The story about about Abraham. At the age of 75 God told Abraham to pack up his stuff, move away from his family and friends, and live in a completely foreign land. Crazy, I know! But what is even more crazy to me than God asking him to do this, is that Abraham actually did a pretty good job at trusting God and obeying Him. The Bible says, “So Abram went, as the LORD had told him…” (Gen. 12:4a).

I think at this point it was easy for Abraham to trust God. Life seemed to be going exactly as planned. Plus, he was probably super excited about God’s promise: “I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great…” (Gen. 12:2). So off he went.

Not bad if you ask me!

Lets fast forward a little- it’s now that we begin to see Abraham struggling to trust God and His promise. He starts asking some “what if” questions about his future. Abraham is getting older and so is his wife. She’ s getting to the age where having children might be physically impossible for her. (this is not looking too good).

So what does Abraham do, he starts to question God. In Genesis 15, Abraham starts reminding God that he is still childless. (as if He didn’t know). I’m sure Abraham was like “Hello, God? Did you forget about me? Did you forget about Your promise? I kind of need a son if I’m going to have all those descendants you mentioned…”He was worried about his future. Let’s be real, I think most of us would have been. Abraham started losing faith in God. At this point, Abraham’s wife also began to lose faith in God. So they decide to take matters into their own hands. You know the story (Ishmael, lots of drama, etc.).

Now lets fast forward even more, at this point it’s been 24 years since God’s initial promise with Abraham, and guess what? Abraham still does not have his son. He is 99 years old- and I am sure he’s about to have a panic attack thinking about being a father at the age of 99. He is worried. He is old. His wife is old. But God sees the worry in Abraham’s heart and reminds him of the promise. Genesis 17:6 “I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you”.

Abraham was struggling to see the big picture. He couldn’t see down the road of his life and that worried him. He couldn’t imagine that nations and kings would come from him, considering the circumstances! He struggled with trust. Just like me and you often times do. Abraham had no idea how his future would pan out. The amazing thing is, God did.

What Abraham forgot – and what we too often forget – is that God sees the bigger picture. That He holds our future in His hands. God knew that nations and kings would come from Abraham. He just needed Abraham to trust Him. Just like He desires us to trust Him.

I love this story. It’s an amazing reminder to me to trust God with my future, no matter the circumstances. Life will be confusing, my circumstances will seem impossible at times, my future may continue to be unknown to me. But God is in complete control and regardless of how “uncertain” your future may seem, God is faithful.

We all have those “Abraham moments” in our lives, when we lose sight of God’s faithfulness. However, we can learn from Abraham’s life. We can learn the importance of trusting God with our future and yes, that even includes my love life.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

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And These Four Words, “Thy Will Be Done”.

I love country music. And I love worship music. So when Hillary Scott, the lead vocalist from one of my favorite country bands (Lady Antebellum), released the song ‘Thy Will’ from her album Love Remains, I immediately fell in love with it. As I listened to the words of that song I couldn’t help but be overcome with emotion. It felt like that song had been written for me and about me. Now of course it wasn’t, but it honestly felt like it had. Every word, every verse of that song resembled exactly what I was feeling when it came to a tough season in my life.

This song was written as an open prayer to God expressing her trust in Him despite the difficult situation she encountered. While I am certain that Hillary Scott and I didn’t face the same situation, the emotions she describes feeling (so beautifully I might add) matched perfectly the emotions I had felt and would sometimes still feel.

Let me break this song down for you, as I also allow you to see a glimpse of my journey.

(I am about to be extremely vulnerable with y’all, so bear with me)

Verse 1: “I’m so confused. I know I heard You loud and clear. So, I followed through, somehow I ended up here. I don’t wanna think. I may never understand, that my broken heart is a part of Your plan. When I try to pray, all I’ve got is hurt and these four words: Thy will be done…

Years ago I was engaged to be married. Some of you may know that about me, while others of you may not. After months of feeling doubt about my upcoming wedding, I decided to call it off. It was no easy decision, and no easy process getting to that decision. I knew after weeks of seeking the Lord in prayer that I was about to marry a man who was NOT who the Lord intended for me to marry. This wasn’t ‘cold feet’, I knew that marrying the man I was engaged to was not the Lords will. It was my own will for my life. I finally (very stubbornly I may add) chose to walk in obedience- so I called off the wedding, the engagement, and the relationship. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. This man was my best friend, my first love, and someone I cared for so deeply- so knowing I was going to break his heart broke mine. I was so tremendously confused. I knew that I had heard the Lord loud and clear. But my heart broke. I honestly couldn’t understand how all this pain and heartache could possibly be a part of the Lords plan. I cried out so many nights to God out of confusion, out of uncertainty, and out of pain. There were times I couldn’t even find the words to say, but I tried and if I couldn’t, I just sat at His feet in silence (minus all the sniffling from me crying). But through all the hurt I was feeling and all the pain I knew I caused, I also knew I was walking in obedience to the Lord and so my prayer continued to be “thy will be done”.

Verse 2: “I know You’re good, but this don’t feel good right now. And I know You think of things I could never think about. It’s hard to count it all joy, distracted by the noise, just trying to make sense of all Your promises. Sometimes I gotta stop, remember that You’re God and I am not. So, Thy will be done…Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is, Thy will be done…”

Wow! I couldn’t have said it any better, even if I tried (and I have tried, I am a blogger). Anyway. I absolutely love that verse of the song. Despite listening to the Lord, knowing that He is good, and trusting in His will for my life- it didn’t take away from the pain I was feeling. None of what happened felt good. My heart ached. Not only for what I was feeling emotionally, but for this man whose heart I just broke. It was so hard to find joy in that season of my life (and even sometimes now). I can get so distracted by the noise, by people asking me why I’m still single or when I plan to settle down. I try to make sense of my feelings. It’s so hard to be the first engaged out of my college group of friends, but somehow end up being the last one married. I had to stop and remind myself that God is God, and I am not. And let’s be real, I still have to remind myself of that on a regular basis.

Verse 3: “I know You see me. I know you hear me, Lord. Your plans are for me, goodness You have in store. I know You hear me. I know You see me, Lord. Your plans are for me, good news You have in store. So, thy will be done…”

In that season of heartache, of loneliness, and uncertainty- God had to remind me so many times that He saw me, that He heard me, and that He was with me. There were so many days where He had to calm my anxious heart and revealed to me that while I didn’t know the details of my future, I could trust what He had in store. Walking in obedience to Him wasn’t easy and it didn’t feel good. But it was in remembering His goodness that I found an indescribable peace throughout that season of my life. The Lord knew my heart, He knew my desires, and He knew my pain. And in all of my mess, He had a plan for me.

There are times when I still find myself clinging to that truth. There are still times when I question that season of my life and the decisions I made. The pain was real and the heartache was real, but so is what the Lord taught me. He taught me of His goodness, of what walking in obedience to Him looked like, and that He will use those difficult seasons in our lives to mold us into a beautiful masterpiece.

My prayer (for myself and for you) is that no matter what trial or difficult season we find ourselves in, that our prayer will be “Thy will be done”.

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We are not tossed and tattered by the will of some god who is distant or uncaring. When we face a difficult season in our lives, we don’t have to face it alone. We may wrestle with the will of God at times, I know I do. We may be confused by what we’re facing and what we’re feeling, but we can be sure of one thing- that God loves us and will bring us through whatever situation we find ourselves. Luke 22:42 “yet not my will, but Yours be done”.