Tag Archives: trusting God

Confessions of a Single Life: Part 2

“You’ll find him when you stop looking for him.”

“God will grant the desires of your heart so just keep praying for him everyday.”

“When you are the woman God wants you to be, He’ll bring you the man you’re supposed to marry.”

And my personal favorite: “Jesus is your first love anyway. He’s the best boyfriend you’ll ever have so just focus on him.”

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While there may be hints of Scripture and some truth in each of these statements, they have typically been much more hurtful than helpful. Yes, I know people who met their spouse the minute they stopped stressing and simply started living. Yes, I believe in praying for your future spouse. Yes, I believe in focusing on becoming the fullness of what God designed me to be. Yes, Jesus’ sacrificial love for me is incomprehensible and complete. However, can I just let you know that although Jesus has given me more than anyone else ever has or ever will, he still has never sent me flowers on Valentine’s Day, he’s really hard to cuddle with, and people stare when they see you talking to an empty chair at restaurants.

These statements are hurtful because at the heart of many of them is an implication that a spouse would appear if only I did or said the right thing. There is a subtle message that if only I had more faith or prayed the right prayers or had the right posture towards life then everything would be working out like I want. I spent way too long believing that if I just prayed the right prayer or had the right amount of faith or lived my life in a certain way then God would FINALLY provide a husband. It’s just not true. There is a major theological problem with this – God cannot and will not be manipulated. He is not a puzzle to be solved, a genie in a bottle that will release 3 wishes with the right words, or a magician waiting for the right spell to be spoken.

And though Jesus’ love for me is complete, no, he is not my boyfriend. He is my Savior. He is my Lord. Two things a boyfriend or husband can never be. In fact, according to Courtney Reissig, “Marriage to Jesus while waiting for a husband can often trivialize our Savior in a way that makes him more like a sweet boyfriend who takes us out on dates, rather than the God-man who paid for our sin on the cross. Jesus did not accomplish redemption to marry us individually. He died for the church corporate, of which we are a part. His death accomplished something much greater than simply meeting our deep-seated desires for a significant other. That is what Paul is getting at in Ephesians 5:22-33 when he speaks of the mystery of marriage.”*

So, to all my single ladies (and gentlemen) who deeply long for a spouse, allow me to offer these words that I pray will give hope instead of cause hurt and maybe bring clarity instead of creating more confusion. First, yes keep praying for and about your future spouse. Make your requests known to God! Like any good parent, he does give good gifts (Matthew 7:11), does give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4), and does invite us to persist in prayer (Luke 18:1), However, sometimes what we want and ask for is not in line with God’s plan for our lives. And so like any good parent would, he says no, or not yet. Second, instead of trying to find the magic formula to get God to give you what you want, set your heart and mind on Him (Colossians 3:2), recognize that God’s ways are not your ways (Isaiah 55:8), and trust that God’s specific plan for your life is bigger and better than anything you can imagine and that he will faithfully carry it to completion (too many to cite). Trust. That’s ultimately what it comes down to. Either you trust God is good and His plan for you is better than your own plans, or you don’t. Third, remember that Jesus and many of those early apostles set an example of how to live as a single person. Jesus himself knows what you are going through! Finally, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in all aspects of your life, including your marital status!

And to the “paired up” friends wanting to be helpful, may I encourage you to listen, seek to understand, validate, and empathize with your single friends. May I kindly suggest you refrain from offering advice? (“Have you tried Christian Mingle?” is not a helpful thing to say!) It is also not helpful to tell your single friends about the ways marriage drives you nuts. It is REALLY not helpful to complain about your sex life (at least you have one). It IS helpful to pray with and for your single friends, but ask them specifically how you can pray. It IS helpful to grieve with them, to hope with them, and to go out to dinner with them so they don’t have to keep talking to an empty chair. And it MAY be helpful to introduce them to people you think might be good for them, but do so with their permission and only if they are open to being introduced to someone. If you have someone in mind for a single friend of yours, simply ask, “Are you open to meeting someone I know and think might be a good match for you?”

Married or single, we are all part of God’s beautifully diverse family. We all have a special role to play in advancing His kingdom, in spreading the Good News, and in loving others well in Jesus’ name.  Single or taken, we’re all awesome because we are made, adopted, and loved by an awesome God!

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I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share your experience! How can we honor, support and encourage one another regardless of our marital status? Does the church need to do anything differently to invite those who are single more fully into the church? Let me know what you think!

*”Why Jesus Isn’t Your Boyfriend: A Critique of Dating God.” Christianity Today, June 25, 2012 http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2012/june/why-jesus-isnt-your-boyfriend-critique-of-dating-god.html?start=2

Pruning: Trusting the Master Gardener to Make the Right Cuts

Pruning (v): The targeted removal of diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, structurally unsound, overgrown, or otherwise unwanted tissue of a plant, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth.

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Pruning is a difficult but necessary process and I’ve had to do some pruning recently. And though it was a painful process, once the branch had been snipped, I felt a tremendous amount of freedom and relief. The reality is that endings are as necessary as beginnings!

Pruning serves several purposes. It is necessary to improve or maintain health. Pruning increases the quantity or improves the quality of the fruit being produced. Finally, pruning improves the overall strength of the plant or tree so it can withstand nature’s storms. Here’s what is interesting about pruning: it isn’t always about cutting away that which is already dead, often it requires trimming away branches and buds that are very much alive.

We often have to cut away the good in our lives, maybe even some of the better things in our lives, in order to make room for the best things in life. It can be difficult to say no to the things that are not good in our life. It is even MORE difficult to say no to things that seem good! This is especially difficult to do when so much of our identity tends to come from the things we give our time and energy to. It is difficult to allow God to prune away those things that seem to define us and bring worth and value to our lives!

However, God is the master gardener and longs for us to reach our full potential, which takes pruning. In the gospel of John, Jesus says, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” (John 15:1-4) Look at verse two in the above passage, “He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”

God is not satisfied with our current production or our current growth. He loves us as we are but desires to make us better. As master gardener, He is constantly trimming and pruning our branches in order to improve our health, increase the fruit we produce, and make us stronger to withstand life’s storms. The process may be painful at times. We may have to let go of branches we’ve grown to love. We have to allow God to strip us of the familiar and we have to be willing to step out into the unknown. This takes trusting that God really does know what is best and believing that he knows exactly which branches to snip. And when we finally give up control and allow God to prune us, we find that the process, although painful, is also beautiful.

It is often said that all good things must come to an end, and allowing God to prune those things in His timing frees us up to move onto greater things. It is possible to end well. It is possible to give thanks for the purpose the branches and buds served at the time and to let them go when the time comes knowing that new buds and branches will replace them.

So, what areas of your life need pruning? Where is God longing to trim back some branches and create space for better fruit? Where is God longing to cut out dead branches so new growth can come forth? What branches feel weak and need to be removed so you can become stronger? Are you ready to release whatever God asks of you and trust that he is a good gardener and wants to replace the good with something great?

art of pruning