I have been known (at least in my own heart) to have a chip on my shoulder criticizing how churches operate: Why do all the pastors sit together instead of spreading out in the sanctuary? Why aren’t the pastors mingling with strangers? Why don’t those worship leaders go hangout with a loner in the back? And so on. But at one-point years ago in my grumbling to God about church operations, He so kindly reminded me that though I am not paid to do so, I am a part of the body…so if my heart is so strong in reaching out to people, why am I not the one doing exactly what I think they should do?
Writing about singleness is certainly not my idea of a good time, but I suppose that is just the reason to do it. I have been single for 31 years, and while probably the first 21 or so I was praised for my focus and not being distracted by the opposite sex, I have now spent the last decade feeling the pressure. Thankfully (and one of the reasons I was encouraged to write this e-book) I have had the joy of experiencing a lot of healthy community over the last decade and, quite honestly, I have put in a lot of work along the way to receive that blessing with an open heart.
I’ve heard so many speakers designed to hype me up about who I am and how that should draw me close to God as a result. You’re a princess, they’ll say. You’re a queen; God made you perfect; He made you beautiful, and so on. That’s all well and good until suddenly…I’m faced with my own sin and struggles. Sure, God did make me beautiful. He did make me perfect…but then I was born into sin, and I let “ugly” things in (Psalm 51:5). So a clichéd phrase about my being flawless does not help me when I look in the mirror, or when I’ve disappointed a friend who comes to me with hurt feelings from an unhealthy moment I didn’t speak from a place of love.
I often feel like my relationship with God ends up getting treated the same way my hunger does. After being distracted with other things, I start to feel a little bit of a gurgle that perhaps I am not in tune with God, and so at my leisure, I pick up my Bible and read a verse and/or turn on one worship song. Then I feel all set until the next time I start to feel a little bit out of touch with God and so I’ll go and repeat the cycle, taking just enough time to feel full and move on with my day to day life. Being 100% transparent, this is a very common temptation for me. It’s a cycle I’m way more familiar with then I would prefer to admit.
I recently asked a couple of high school girls at my church what they'd most want women of all ages to understand about what their generation faces; they paused to think, and then they started talking. The list came...and it kept coming. The key takeaway was that no matter what others were encouraging them to do, it always came with some level of pressure.
"One day my prince will come,” the words of Snow White echo in the hearts of many as we daydream of the day when we’ll be swept off our feet. This idea has slowly infiltrated our culture and told us that one day we’ll find our soulmate, and largely that it ultimately does not matter what we do or don’t do, but they’ll be coming for us when the time is right.
It can be tempting to not go deeper. Oh believe me, it can be so tempting. Staying hollow, staying laid-back, it can seem so safe. But as women (though this trait often gets attributed to men) we're born for adventure. We're born to make an impact, and above all, we're born to live knowing we're loved by God. He designed us to soak in His strength each and every day.
In the church, we often talk about the sexual acts we should not commit. Some sign purity pledges, some get accountability, and some simply say it’s too hard to live in purity, so they compromise their theology. Really though, as with all sin, at the end of the day, it all comes down to being a heart issue. With sexual sin, lust is the root of the problem, and lust is 100% a heart issue. Lust starts in your heart before it makes its ways into your actions. So it’s time we get real about what our hearts desire and start thinking about what we're thinking about.
As I waited to cross the street to get to the restaurant in my shorter than usual dress, it happened. At that moment as I waited for the light to change, a group of men rolled down their car window and hooted and hollered at me. It was my first experience truly being catcalled.
Fear is so sneaky. It’s like a really talented, conniving salesman. It convinces us something is undeniably true. Yet once we’ve bought in, we look at what we’ve “purchased” and we can see we’ve been duped.