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Friday, November 27, 2009

Being Content Under Pressure

In my last post, I mentioned the state of contentedness as an unexplored realm by most especially in today's culture. Being content is important in order to appreciate God's gift of singleness. It's also important to fuel ourselves into a state of contentedness by not falling into the world's beliefs concerning our state of singleness. Today's culture says that if you don't have a boyfriend or girlfriend by the time you're eighteen, something is wrong. If you're not married at a young age, something is wrong. The list goes on and on, I know. I've experienced the bombardment of culture. It happens often- always being asked if I've met that someone yet, when adults or friends try to be the ultimate matchmaker, people hinting that at my age they already had someone, etc. . . . It can be amusing or it can be hurtful. It's as if the only way others perceive that I can be happy is if I find the right one. The pull of the worldview that I should almost be married and the pull of God telling me to enjoy my singleness is tough to handle. Because of this pull, I couldn't decide what I really wanted in life- to be married at a young age or to wait and get married at an older age such as late twenties. I was pretty torn. I leaned towards being married at twenty-one. I know, pretty unrealistic, but that's the way I felt. I felt that if I absolutely had to get married at that age or I'd be considered an old maid. I felt life just wouldn't be fun if I couldn't be married soon. Little by little though, the Lord showed me the benefits of singleness, and how to be content in my estate. Marriage is a wonderful institution; it lasts until either of the partners dies. Marriage is a lifelong commitment, so is being a parent. Once you're a parent, you're a parent forever. Once married, life changes; suddenly life becomes intertwined with the duties of maintaining a marriage, a husband or wife, and eventually children. There isn't much time anymore for the friends that were you were once so close to before. You can't do a lot of things you did when you were younger due to new responsibilities. Looking at marriage in that light, I realized that singleness doesn't last until the end. The times spent with friends and your own original family don't last until the end either. Singleness is a transient state that should be enjoyed and cherished. As I considered these things, I realized what I really wanted. I want to get married some day and have a family, but not anytime in the near future. Those wonderful responsibilities can wait. There's nothing wrong with being married at twenty-five or any age older than that; it just means God gave you more time to spend with Him. I want to enjoy the time God has given me right now, to be devoted to Him alone, and be the best friend and daughter I can be. The state of singleness will be gone all too quickly, and I will just have to look back with sad memories that I wasted my life pining away because I had no one. I want to look back with fond memories of a time where singleness was a wonderful stage in my life. Singleness is a state to be enjoyed, and I want others to know that I'm content if the Lord waits to send me my mate or if He sends him some time soon.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Starting a Prayer Group

I recently finished reading a book, written by Candice Watters, called Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help It Happen. A friend lent it to me, in the hopes that it could help me as I was going through a difficult trial at the time. I finished it, and although I didn't agree with most of it, I came away with some powerful insights that I wanted to share with y'all.

I specifically wanted to speak to the singles out there that have felt like I have. All single people have gone or are going through that time in life when we experience the feelings of utter despair and loneliness, because we haven't met the right person yet. Most of us have gone or will go through this experience alone. I want to break that trend. There's no need to feel embarrassed because we want that right person to come into our lives. Those feelings are natural and come from God. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we should have the freedom to cast our cares upon each other in order to be encouraged and to encourage. With that thought, I'd like to encourage all the singles (married couples are very welcome to pray for us as well) to pray for one another, so that God would not only send our mates, but that He would prepare our hearts for marriage and give us an attitude of contentment during our state of singleness. Candice Watters started a prayer group just like the one I'm forming, and she had thirty young ladies sign-up for the prayer list. One year later, half of those ladies were either engaged, married, or in a serious relationship. The power of prayer is phenomenal! The prayer list is open, and I will actually post a group of names on this blog as people sign up. If you would like to sign up for the list and to be on the list, you may e-mail me or post a comment on this blog to be signed up.

I wanted to start this up, because I feel a lot us are going through the exact same stage of loneliness, but we're too afraid or embarrassed to speak about it. I'll have to admit that I was one of those people. I've had my fair share of sadness over the fact that I have no special person in my life. Sometimes I'd be downright depressed out of frustration as I saw others find their special mate. Those times were hard, especially when I had no one to turn to. It would've been nice if I wouldn't have been so embarrassed to divulge to one of my friends about my feelings, but I just couldn't tell them how I felt. The only thing I knew to do was pray. I kept praying to God during my time of singleness that I wouldn't be consumed with my estate, but that I would be consumed with Him, in seeking Him throughout this time. I would repeat to myself over and over "God is all I need. He is the only one who can satisfy me. I will love Him more than anything, and I will be content to be His alone for now as He sees fit." That was my consolation. It was so hard, because those words meant nothing to me. I didn't feel that God was all I needed, and I certainly didn't feel He could satisfy my loneliness of being single, yet I said those words in the hopes that God would hear my cry to be saved from despair. I didn't want to say in the end that I had wasted my single years being lonely, and I certainly didn't want to look back and say, "I wish I would've been satisfied in God and not have wasted my time wallowing in pity." As I continued to lift up those prayers to God, I eventually found the sweet peace that can only come from Him. I suddenly realized that He was all I needed. He was the one I loved better than anything. He did and still does satisfy. The bliss I felt after God took away all those unwanted emotions was incredible! I can now, with all honesty, say that I am content in Him. I have come to know the peace that only He can give. I am glad to wait on His timing, trusting that He will bring that right person in His time. Right now, my duty is to grow close to Him, and to prepare myself for marriage. As I endeavor on this wonderful path of singleness, I'd like all my other brothers and sisters in Christ to join me in praying for one another.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Breaking our ties from this world

I am currently reading another book, "Beloved Bride- The Letters of Stonewall Jackson to His Wife." Although the title may seem as if it has romantic connotations, I have found that in reading the letters, their conversation is always God-centered. One of the letters that struck me as very insightful, powerful, and discerning. Mrs. Jackson was writing to her husband concerning the sad tidings that had befallen her sister and her brother-in-law.  Mrs. Jackson was quite frank about her feelings and wrote

            I was not surprised that little MC was taken away, as I have long regarded his father's attachment
            to him as too strong; that is, so strong that he would be unwilling to give him up, though God should
            call for his own. I do not believe that an attachment ever is, or can be, absolutely too strong for any             object of our affections; but our love to God may not be strong enough. We may not love Him               so intensely as  to have no will but His. . . .

 Her letter on this subject made me really think. Could she be right? Perhaps her nephew was taken away, because God saw that an attachment was so great as to hinder Him from getting the glory. To think that someone would have an attachment to something so great on earth that they would even try to stop God from severing those ties! I thought about the one attachment that I have had for quite sometime, in which I had already made up my mind that I would act upon my will even if it were to go against God's will. For shame! How could I even do that!? Well, I had, just as Mrs.Jackson's brother-in-law had done. Not only did my actions show a lack of love for God, but an unwillingness to realize that God's will is always best no matter what. I know His will is best, but my stubborn-headed ways believe that my will will be even better.

What was my attachment? My attachment was my dream of going to grad school. I had already made up my mind that I was going to do it even if God said no, because I just couldn't bear to give up something I had been dreaming about for quite some time. When I read that letter though, I realized that in order to break our hard hearts and to mold us into His image, we have to be reproved for our own good and removed of our stubborn hearts. God loves us so much that He doesn't want us to go astray, so He reproves us so that we will go back to Him. How great a Father's love that He would seek us out when in sin! Did I really want the consequences of sin over God's will, which I undoubtedly know would be even better than going to grad school? I had come to realize that God's will had always been greater than my plans, when my plans were overruled. If that was the case, then I realized I'd rather be obedient to God rather than suffer heartache like Mrs.Jackson's sister and brother-in-law. That's when I decided that no, I wouldn't go to grad school, as I had felt God telling me no for quite a while, yet I still prayed about it, go figure. I realized that praying for God to change His mind wasn't appropriate either. God had said no for the time being; I needed to accept it, and when I felt I could pray about it again, then I would ask to see if God had changed His mind. As of now I have no plans to go to grad school, due to God's calling in my life which doesn't involve grad school at this moment. If He decides that it will be included in my life later on, then hooray for me; if not, I will bear it, knowing that He sees what's best for me. Do you have any ties you need to sever as well?