Goodness And Romance And The Lies In-between

Too often I separate romance from holiness.

That when I set out to “be holy, for [He] is holy”, that striving for holiness does not cover the categories of feelings for guys and the very womanly desire to know and be known. Fully, entirely, by a guy – an actual guy, one with eyes and feet and a nose and such.

And I’m not embarrassed to say it. That I desire that. Because I do.

Yet I’m learning how little I truly understand about it all. That romance can be one of the purest and most true forms of holiness – of being set apart for the Kingdom of God.

But it’s not the only form of holiness.

I feel as if I sat down with my freshman self today, if I were able to go back in time and watch as I began my college years, or even the 15 year-old version of me, with the concepts and ideas of what being 21 would be like, I feel like I would blow my own mind. Because, back then, I held tightly to my handwritten theology of how God views my love life. My own ideas of what He considers “good” in the romance department.

And how He has changed my heart and mind so completely. Not my emotions, no, but my mind.

There are a million voices that will speak into this topic, this eternal question of God and Romance and How The Heck Are We Supposed To Swim Through The Turbulent Waters Of Hormones And Feelings And Loneliness And What Even Are Standards And Boundaries As I Grow Older And Desires Grow Stronger And Is It Even Worth It To “Wait” For What Is Never Promised To Come In The First Place??

The world tells us romance is physical, purely entertainment. That giving yourself to a man – sexually, emotionally, without commitment and driven by desire is pretty much all we can expect from love. And that is has nothing to do with God.

Conservative circles (yes, even Christians) conveniently don’t talk about romance, like it doesn’t exist or something. Growing up in church, Sex Wednesday came around once a year in youth group, and that was pretty much it. Sex is bad – well, not bad, but not for you cause you’re 16, so sex is bad. And now we’re not gonna talk about it. And we were left to mosey around in our hormonal minds and pretend we never had thoughts we shouldn’t have had – about boys or ourselves.

At a Christian college, we throw the word “Contentment” around like confetti. The conversations are endless and frequent, and what do we mean by it? I am not here to bash contentment, for I believe that we can be kept in perfect peace when our minds are stayed on Christ,  but how often do we use it as a cop-out for our straying minds?

Too often contentment is used synonymously with “life of ease”. As if contentment means the struggle is gone.

Ladies, God did not create emotions to be un-felt. 

Please don’t expect the struggle for purity to fade. It won’t, but God can change us in the midst of the struggle.

And I don’t only mean physical purity. But emotional, mental. Spiritual.

A few weeks ago, I was encouraged by a text from my best friend. In the midst of a hard week, I came to her discouraged that I couldn’t just be happy already. I was tired of being upset about my circumstances, trapped in the lie that happiness equals holiness, that I’m only in God’s will if I feel like I am. She rebuked me in the best way:

“Love, it is always ok to feel the sadness. Don’t let anyone tell you to get over it, regardless of the whys. Learn to live with Sad Maddie. There’s nothing wrong with her. In fact she may have strengths that Confident Maddie doesn’t.”

I think we, as Christian women, try to walk around like we don’t have desires. I think we try to save-face when he doesn’t like us back or our best friend gets engaged and we feel like crying about it is weakness.

I think we think that three or four or five years of singleness will be enough to finally convince ourselves that we don’t need that intimacy anyways. That after so long we have no right to feel the way we do because we should have figured out how to be lonely by now.

I believe one of God’s most mind-blowing creations was love – Eros love – the combining of two people, the intimacy – physically and emotionally. It is why He calls us, the Church, His Bride, for in it lies the concept of being known fully. As we are all meant to be known.

 

And yet.

And yet I sit here single, as perhaps you do too. And I was sad, today, about being single. But I’m learning to not worry about the emotions, the beautiful emotions. The beautiful sadness, and the way that it changes me for the better. I’ll probably cry this week, and that’s ok too.

But there is a very worthy battle to fight. The battle of Truth.

Listen to me. You are not single because you are undesirable. You are not single because God doesn’t see and hear. You are not single because the girls around you are funnier or healthier or have a better nose or sense of style or are more socially competent. Satan will try, every day, to convince you of these things. Don’t let him. Never, ever let him. Take every thought captive for the cause of Christ.

I called my mom last night to vent about it because, honestly, sometimes it just really stinks. And I sat outside and asked her to remind me of the plans God has for me, and how not experiencing romance is a part of them. And when we hung up, I chose to believe it. And as I walked back to my dorm, I chose to uproot any thoughts that discount the blood of Jesus on the Cross, the value He gave me and the plans He wrote for me before time began.

Because they’re still valid. In fact, more so than ever. For every day I feel the singleness, the more God can comfort me. And every day I don’t get the flattery from men, I hear the resounding flattery from God, how He made me abundantly beautiful. And every day I give myself fully to the task in front of me, the more I realize that it’s good. It’s so good. Romance is good, but it’s not the only good. Discipleship is good. Friendship is good. Writing is good. Learning is good.

Being who God has called me to be, today, is good. It’s very good.

Even better than romance. For me today, it is better than romance. For to live in the perfect plan of Christ is the absolute best place that I can be.

 

It Was Never Meant To Be A Game

Every day, it seems, I am having a conversation about singleness and the mind-rattling frustration it brings countless beautiful girls who just can’t figure out what they’re “doing wrong”.

Sometimes these conversations happen over coffee, or in the middle of watching Netflix, or, well… too often with myself as I stare in the mirror in the morning. “What’s the point of curling my hair if no boys ever seem to take a second glance?” Of course, thinking like that is instrumentally detrimental and just down-right unhealthy, but sometimes I can’t help myself.

Singleness can be a weary reality indeed.

These thoughts and frustrations from myself and others have made me search for wisdom like hidden treasure. My mom always told me that choosing who I will marry will be the second most important decision in my life, second only to choosing to follow Jesus.

So you’d better believe I want to make that decision correctly, and I can’t help but know that it all begins in my single days.

In my Wisdom Search, I ran across a book full of articles by a woman named Elisabeth Elliot (many of you may know of her. I have taken to calling her my “new best friend” because her words tend to my heart in a way few have ever been able to.) She wrote one particular article on the topic of singleness- but more than that, prolonged singleness. Like me, she had had countless conversations with many jaw-dropping, loving girls who felt utterly trapped in a life of singleness.

She speaks of women who prayed for 20 years for a husband who never came. Of women with feelings that have no outlet. Of women who have given everything to following Jesus, trusting Him with every aspect of their lives, yet finding themselves humanly alone even though their hearts long to share their lives with someone.

 

Am I doing something wrong?

Should I go to more “singles barbeques”?

Should I just ask him out already? I’m allowed to do that, right? Right?

Why does this all feel like a big game?

 

A game. What a way to describe it.

Last night I stayed up late talking through life with a dear friend. Our conversation traveled from faith to family to… well, boys. (Hey, we’re 21. It happens.) We’re both single, but both all-too aware of the plethora of attractive and God-fearing men on our college campus. (Last time my parents visited campus, my mom remarked, “Maddie, there are so many cute guys on this campus!” Yes, mom. I know.)

Once we had covered the basics (who we like. how many encounters we had had with him in the past week), we let our laughter fade and fell silent. Why? Because, at the end of the day, we both have no idea what to do about these feelings we can’t seem to shoo away. We don’t know how to play the game. 

“Nobody does” remarks Elisabeth, “It’s chaos, frustration, confusion, and emotional devastation. It was never meant to be a game, so don’t try to play it. Leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you.”

There have been times in my life where I have been tempted to stop praying for my future husband. Often, conversations with other single girls end with “I’ve stopped praying for a husband because God doesn’t guarantee one. It will just end in frustration.” But then what do I do about verses like Philippians 4:6 that tell me to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything- by prayer and petition- present my requests to God”?

Now, if your singleness isn’t making you anxious, then maybe God isn’t stirring your heart in that direction right now. But, if you’re like me and your current relationship status has a tendency to keep you up at night, tossing and turning and making you want to cry out in frustration, “Oh, can’t I just ask HIM out??” then I urge you- PRAY ABOUT IT.

Elisabeth tells you to leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you. Let me ask you a question: Do you trust God with your love story? Do you really truly believe the Bible when it promises that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”?

When did we take earthly love out of the category of “all good things”?

God didn’t create romance to be a game. He created marriage to reflect His love for the church. He created it to be something His children thoughtfully trusted Him with.

It’s not meant to be a game, and thank goodness because I don’t know how to play it.

So instead, I will pray. I will cast my anxieties on the LORD and trust that He sees my heart and truly knows me. I will focus on being His Bride and prayerfully wait to see if He designed me to be anybody else’s.

“It was never meant to be a game, so don’t try to play it. Leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you.”

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

Lend Me Your Hope

I ran across a poem the other day that stopped me in my tracks.

Lend me your hope for a while,
I seem to have mislaid mine.
Lost and hopeless feelings accompany me daily,
pain and confusion are my companions.

I know not where to turn.
Looking ahead to future times
does not bring forth images of renewed hope.
I see troubled times,
pain-filled days,
and more tragedy.

Lend me your hope for a while,
I seem to have mislaid mine.
Hold my hand and hug me;
listen to all my ramblings,
recovery seems so far distant.
The road to healing
seems like a long and lonely one.

Lend me your hope for a while,
I seem to have mislaid mine.
Stand by me,
offer me your presence,
your heart and your love.
Acknowledge my pain,
it is so real and ever present.
I am overwhelmed
with sad and conflicting thoughts.

Lend me your hope for a while.
A time will come when I will heal,
and I will share my renewal,
hope and love with others.

Do those words resonate in your soul? They do mine.

We live in a broken world, one full of depression and death and blinding suffering. One of the greatest issues I have known and observed that accompanies times of suffering is the question, “Where do I go from here?” In the throws of the storm it seems impossible to function at any level of normalcy, and conversations with those hurting often land somewhere around the tearful wondering:

How?

How can I keep up with the life I once knew?

How do I even pretend to function like I once did?

How do I get out of bed?

How do I go to work, or school, or even church?

How do I live surrounded by people that appear to have it all together when my life is literally falling apart at the seams?

 

And those conversations usually end with a tear-stained face and puffy eyes, emotions overwhelming the sufferer to the point of collapse. Oh, how the wars Satan wages can rock us off of our feet! Whether it was a gradual collapse or an overnight crumbling, many of us at some point in our lives find ourselves weeping and running to the bottom of the rocking ship to wake Jesus and scream “Where have you been? Can’t you see I’m drowning??”

Many of us have, at some point, had a deficit of hope in our hearts. Maybe we know in our minds that light and hope has come into the world, but in the pits of the despair we are currently sinking into we cannot see anything but darkness.

This post is not really about the healing that comes through Jesus Christ, though I need to say that healing exists and is very, very real in His hands. Instead, however, this post is for those of us that need to know how to function today. Suffering is real, and many of us right now are waking up and staring at our bedroom ceiling thinking, “How am I going to get through today?”

The poem starts with “lend me your hope for a while, for I seem to have mislaid mine”. Oh, what an accurate description of what it feels like to be in the throws of a trial! Many of us wake up one day and realize that our hope somehow left without our permission, leaving us desperate for its return. This poem is a cry to those around us, the people in our lives that have perhaps been asking what they can do to help us through this difficult time. In my sufferings, I have grown accustomed to saying:

“Just lend me your hope.”

I don’t know about you, but there are mornings where I rely on the hope of those around me to get me moving. The concept of borrowing hope is, quite honestly, a hopeful one.

But that wasn’t even the line that stopped me in my tracks when I first this poem.

This past month, as I rode out a painful trial, my parents longed to know how to best help me, and my answer surprised me. I’m not an incredibly touchy person, but I realized that what I needed most in the days to come is somebody to hug me and hold my hand and be with me through what was undeniably going to be a torturous season of life.

Hold my hand and hug me;
listen to all my ramblings,
recovery seems so far distant.
The road to healing
seems like a long and lonely one.

Hold my hand and hug me. Listen to all of my ramblings. Lend me your hope in the form of your presence, for the road out of suffering can be long and lonely and I need to know that I am not alone.

If you are reading this as someone striving to help a loved one through a trial, remember that what sufferers need most is companionship. They need to know that they are not alone. They don’t need you to solve their problems, they simply need you to hold their hand and let them cry for as many days as it takes. They need you to listen to their ramblings and love them through it all. Tell them that you love them and tell them that you are going to be by their side until the storm has passed.

And if you, dear friend, are the one in the midst of the storm, please please please remember that Jesus is not absent. In fact, he allows storms to happen so that we are able to see Him calm the waves that rock us. If you are suffering, remember that you are in the exact right place for your faith to be transformed. 1 Peter reminds us that “Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine.”

Genuine faith. That’s your prize after all of this is said and done. Don’t lose heart!

If you are blinded by darkness, know without a shadow of a doubt that the True Light has come into the world and, if you have allowed Him, into even your heart.

For one day, perhaps not too far down the road, you will be able to lend your hope to someone else. “Lend me your hope for a while. A time will come when I will heal,
and I will share my renewal, hope and love with others.” What a day that will be!

But today, friend, give yourself grace. Pray. Cry. Sleep. Find beauty. Go for a walk. Cry again. Read and paint and run. Do what fills your heart and balms your soul. And remember: Jesus is the Great Physician and He begins healing you the moment you ask Him to.

But in the meantime, borrow hope. Borrow it from friends, family, and from the Hope of the world Himself. For there is unquenchable Hope in this world, and it is yours for the taking.

 

Why God Wants Me To Almost Get What I Want.

Do you ever feel like your life is a constant stream of near-misses?

Like, from your eyes it seems like God has recently acquired a Heavenly Fishing Pole and His bait is what you want the most: your highest desire. And He sits up in His Heavenly Folding Chair in His Heavenly Galoshes and He throws His bait right in front of your face.

And so you start salivating like a dog.

And you grab for that bate. You grab for it because it is your highest desire. It’s what you’ve waited your whole life for. 

It’s that JOB.

Or that BOY.

Or that POSITION.

Or that POPULARITY.

Or that COMFORT.

And you claw and you grab and it must be yours because it’s right there in front of your eyes and you

need it.

At least, you feel like you need it. Or maybe you feel like you’re entitled to it. And you’ve waited for it, and you’ve hoped for it, and when you can finally see it, smell it, touch it, no part of you is able to resist doing whatever it takes to make it yours.

Because… because you deserve it, right? You’re a nice person. You help people. Maybe you even strive to follow God every day and you selflessly put others first. Maybe you spend your life in prayer and you talk to God all of the time and He seemingly creates these desires in your heart and you begin praying for these things.

For that relationship. Or that promotion. Or that family. Or that health.

And you know it must be on the horizon because God has great plans for you! And He loves you! And He wants what’s best for you! And then suddenly, that greatest-thing-ever is there! Right in front of your eyes!

And you think, “This is it.” Finally. Those prayers are answered and that desires is about to be fulfilled because you can see it. It’s right there.

But then you blink. And… it’s gone.

God grabbed His fishing pole and yanked that bate right back out of reach. And you find yourself empty and disappointed and crying by yourself on a Saturday night because you still don’t have what you think you desperately need. After you had seen and practically touched it, it’s still not yours. You just missed it.

Have you ever…been there?

Do you ever feel like your life is a constant stream of near-misses?

 

I haven’t written in a while. God’s been pretty active with that ole Heavenly Fishing Pole in my life, and it’s left my head pretty clouded and my heart pretty raw.

That very heart lead me to an academic building pretty early the other morning (much to the confusion of my roommate). Before the campus had woken up, I was sitting on a stiff couch and drinking lukewarm coffee and holding my Bible in my hand, feeling farther from God than I had in a while.

Sometimes, all I can do is hold my Bible in white-knuckled fists and pray that God says something. Anything.

And so I did, and I opened it’s pages and they fell to the book of Job. Taking a sip of my vanilla-flavored coffee, I closed my eyes and felt Him speaking to me, almost chuckling to myself at the horrendous irony.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the book of Job, it is about a man who basically had it all: family, property, wealth, status. And not only did he have everything, he was also well known for what he had. He was recognized. But none of those things kept him from seeing God and devoting his life to Him.

So… Job pretty much had it going on.

But then, the unthinkable happened. In one day, his income, his property, his health, even his family are all taken away from him. Tragedy after tragedy, leaving Job a broken man. The Bible says that he tore his clothes and he fell to the ground. This wasn’t just a near-miss. This was the biggest loss imaginable.

And I sat there, and I stared at the pages of this story, and I felt them seep into me, throwing my recent days into a mirror that stared at me.

Why?

Not because of Job’s loss, but because of what the Bible says he did after falling to the ground. After losing everything he could have possibly put his hope into, he tore his clothes and he fell to the ground and he…

worshiped.

He worshiped.

The Bible says that he worship God and he said

“THE LORD GAVE, AND THE LORD HAS TAKEN AWAY; BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD.”

Let that sink in for a minute.

“THE LORD GAVE, AND THE LORD HAS TAKEN AWAY; BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD.”

Oh, how easy it is to worship God when life looks good. But what about when it doesn’t? What about when you’re constantly finding yourself short of what you so desperately want? What about when you’re still single, or still battling that illness, or still unemployed.

What then?

That is what makes the story of Job so miraculous: not that he followed God in his prosperity, but that he worship God in his humility. It’s incredible because he said “blessed by the name of the Lord” not only because God gave,

but also because He had taken away.

There is a special kind of worship that comes in the face of difficulties, one that sees God not as a preference, but as life itself. Sometimes, I feel like God yanks His fishing pole out of our faces not to take from us, but to give us something we didn’t even know we needed.

The taste of true worship.

Do you ever feel like your life is a constant stream of near misses?

Yeah, me too.

Somehow, I think that’s the whole point.

A Letter To My Freshman Self

Dear Freshman Self,

 

I’ve been thinking about you a lot these days. Every time I walk past a group of freshman girls laughing and discovering this new place, I cannot help but see you. I remember so clearly what it was like to be you. Fresh out of high school, this whole college thing is both terrifying and intriguing- like standing on the edge of a bridge with a bungee cord tied around your legs. You know that you will be ok, and the cord will catch you. You know you will bounce back and be better for it.

But making the plunge, well… it’s scary.

And yet you did it.

You did it and you’re making friends and you’re starting to call this campus home.

And oh, there is so much I wish I could tell you.

I’m a junior now. I’ve lived 2 years in this town, 2 years on this campus. I have made friends and lost friends, made some good decisions and a lot of poor ones. I’ve regretted a few things. I’ve laughed more than ever before and cried enough to last a lifetime.

And I just… I really wish that I could write to you. I wish I could tell you all that I know now. I wish I could give you the advice that I so desperately needed as I began my college years. 

I wish I could convince you that your girlfriends are going to be some of the most precious gifts of your college life.

I wish I could warn you that you are going to struggle with idolatry… warn you that you are going to fall into the sin of putting boys before your Jesus. That it is going to take years of prayer for you to give God your future- night after night of tears about desiring a relationship and a marriage. You are so naive right now, friend, as you assume this whole “college dating” thing will be easy.

It is so, so hard.

You are going to be single much longer than you are planning, and it is going to be impossibly hard to have patience. Now, as you are living your first weeks in college, you feel as if you’re swimming in a “sea of boys”. You are about to become oh so distracted, and I really wish that I could save you from all of it.

Because we are ordered to put all idols at the foot of the cross. And you… well you are going to hold onto your idols for far too long, and I wish in all my power that you wouldn’t.

I wish that you would decide right now that Jesus is enough for you.

I wish that you would trust Him starting today. You don’t know this now, but you are about to go through some unbearably hard times in the years to come. God is going to ask more of you than you can even imagine, and you are going to struggle trusting Him. Listen to me… He is worth trusting. There are going to be days that it’s all you can do to get out of bed, days that the darkness seems like it is going to overwhelm you.

In those times, take heart! Jesus promises us that in this world we will have trouble, but that He has overcome the world.

Never, ever forget that. Cling to that promise every day.

I wish that forgiveness would be your first response, and that you would take God at His word. I wish that you would seek Heavenly things and not things of this Earth. I wish that starting today you would walk this campus with a heart of love and a mission from Heaven.

But… well, I know that you won’t.

Sure, you’ll have your moments, and you do love Jesus. But you have so much to learn.

The reality is, you will spend too many days without talking to your Savior, and you will hold grudges too long. You will obsess too much over that boy and too little about being a good friend. You will doubt God and will allow anxiety to be your guide. You will cry out selfish prayers and hold this Earth closer than gold.

You will do all of these things, and you will learn, and someday you will be me… writing a letter to yourself after it is all said and done.

And the more you’ll think about it, the more you’ll realize that maybe that’s the way it is supposed to be. You will make so many mistakes, but they will all shape you into who God wants you to be.

Every dark night will be your chance to see Jesus as your only light. Every grudge will only magnify the incredible forgiveness offered by your Savior. Every tear shed will only bring you closer to the God that counts them as they fall. Every day of singleness will be a new day for you to learn firsthand that Jesus is all that you need. These next 2 years for you will be hard and you will be broken too many times to count, but they are all for good.

So, Freshman Self, at the end of the day I won’t talk to you about boys or classes or roommates. I won’t give you advice on which professors to take or what girls to befriend. Those are all beautiful mysteries for you to live and learn.

Really, I only have one thing to say to you: Live your life with Heaven in mind, and never ever forget the sacrifice that Jesus made for you.

Because, really, it all comes back to Jesus. It all comes back to what He did for you on that cross. There will be times that you are tempted to forget that.

Don’t.

I’ll see you in 2 years.

Maddie

 

On Singleness and Self-Pity

I need to be real with you: I have been a really pathetic single girl this week.

You see, some weeks I’m like a Single-Girl Superhero, conquering every bit of insecurity and self-doubt with my super-single-girl-superpowers. Those are the best weeks- the weeks I am so thankful for the path that God has laid out for me. The weeks that I feel so incredibly blessed- even to the point of tears- to be living a life devoid of the heartbreak and distraction that dating can bring.

I have such an incredible amount of freedom to live spontaneously, dream freely, give myself fully to my relationships with friends and family. I have so much time to be involved and work and study. And some weeks, that’s exactly what I want.

And let me tell you, friends… Those are good weeks.

But some weeks… well, some weeks it’s harder. Some weeks I am reminded of my humanity, the one that yearns and hopes and desires. Some weeks, more than others, I want to share. Share my time and meals and favorite bench. Share my thoughts and future and Friday afternoons.

Today I sit outside, enjoying the first pleasant day of the school year. The life-sucking humidity of the last few weeks has disappeared, Friday classes are over. My favorite bench, the one surrounded by ivy-entangled trees, sits open and free for me to occupy for an hour or two. I sit writing, my favorite thing to do, belly full from a wonderful lunch with a friend and a slight smile on my face thinking of the three day weekend ahead of me.

And yet I’m frustrated. Why? Because I sit here, overwhelmed by the fullness of this life I live, and yet desperately feeling at loss.

And complaining to God that I’m single.

It just… feels so wrong to me. It feels so wrong to ask God for anything after He has given me everything, all the way to the point of the cross. To know I have things to do, but to be unable to get the same thoughts out of my mind.

 

Why am I still single?

How come that girl can date guy after guy when I can’t even get one to talk to me?

Why is every good guy taken??
Am I too forward?

Too indifferent?

Do I say the wrong things? Act the wrong way?

Why is it so impossible for me to grab a guy’s attention? Go on a date? Hold a conversation?

See? Pathetic. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

And sometimes the hardest part is knowing that it’s not wrong. It’s not wrong for me to desire a friendship, a relationship, a marriage. I know it’s not wrong, this desire that God has given me. But, honestly, that’s the most difficult part sometimes. I know it’s not wrong, but it’s also not real in my life right now. Sure, I can hope for a relationship all I want, but at the end of the day my life is the way it is.

So, the question stands: what do I do with that?

 

I’ve been stuck in Philippians for days now, my poor Bible underlined and highlighted to the point of becoming un-readable. I used to read my Bible out of obligation, checking my to-do box every day as I read a chapter or two.

But then, well, then life began. As I’ve grown older, I have known times of complete desperation, loneliness, loss. And in those times, the Bible has become vastly more to me than simple religion.

It has become my lifeboat.

More and more, I am finding myself on my knees, staring at this life and this Earth and crying out to God, “Please! Help me believe! I need to believe. I need everything you say to be true! Because if you’re not everything you say you are, God, then… then I am lost.”

If God’s not everything He says He is, if He’s not my Savior, the one who raised Himself from the dead 2,000 years ago after being crucified on a Roman cross. If He’s not everlasting, all creating, all loving, all forgiving, then I am nothing.

If God is not who He says He is, then I am going to live 80 years on this Earth and then die. That’s it. No purpose, no hope. If God’s not who He says He is, then I guess it’s just my job to have fun and let live and let go.

 

And if God’s not who He says He is, then… I guess my love life is pretty urgent because it’s all I have, my only worldly way to “true” happiness. Without God in the picture, I guess I should be sitting here freaking out about whether “he likes me” or not. 

 

And in light of that, I pray we consider another reality, the one where I don’t have to sit on the most beautiful bench on campus and ruin my day by feeling sorry for myself.

If God is who He says He is, what does that mean to me? If every Word in the Bible is true, then what does it mean for me, sitting on a bench in 80 degree weather on a Friday afternoon, wishing I wasn’t single?

Oh, friends, if only I could somehow put into words the incredible importance of this truth.

If God is all that He says He is, then He created the world, carefully designing every animal and tree, every hill and valley. Then He created me, knitting me together and loving every ounce of me, seeing me and planning my days on this Earth.

If He is all that He says He is, then God really became a human and was born in a barn to a teenage mother. He grew up as a carpenter and lived a humble life and made no complaint when He was nailed to a cross for something He didn’t do.

If He is everything He says He is, then He really laid in a grave for 3 days and then rose Himself to life.

If this is all true, then when He says that I am saved from the utter hopelessness of this world, that’s true too.

 

You may be wondering, “Ok, but what does this have to do with being single?”

I don’t know about you, friends, but when I look God in the face and see Him for who He is, it’s just…

Well, it’s impossible to feel at loss.

When I remind myself of who God is, of what He has done for me, it is absolute absurdity to be in want of anything.

The more I think about it, it is less about minimizing my desire for a relationship and more about remembering what is so much more that a relationship could ever be.

 

So, yes, this bench is occupying one person. But this occupant is seen and loved and saved by the one true God, and the only loss here is allowing myself to forget that. 

My Most Used And Abused Word Of The Year

I don’t know about you, but I can throw myself a darn good pity party when I want to.

You know what I mean. Things don’t go my way, and so I proclaim them “wrong”. Things don’t go my way, and I proclaim myself the victim. My life doesn’t follow the exact path I designed for it in 9th grade and suddenly I need to decide what’s wrong with it and complain often enough so that people know that my life isn’t going the exact way I planned it to go.

And the words.

The next thing I do is I find words that describe my life. Words that describe my state of existence. Some of them don’t last too long: “Ugh, that essay was awful. I’m so pathetic.” When, really, the next week I’m celebrating the A+ I received on my Psych test, all sense of my pathetic nature gone. Or “Someone come help me with this box! I’m so weak.” And the next minute I turn to my friend, “Hey, wanna go on a run tonight?”

But sometimes, my self-proclaimed prophesies last. Sometimes, those muttered words in times of frustration stick around and subconsciously become the standard for how I view my place on this Earth.

One word in particular has stuck around for far too long. This year has led me along paths I never knew I would take, and has made me leap into roles in ways I never thought I would. It has led me to new towns, unfamiliar houses, busy Saturday afternoon coffee shops. It has made me look into the mirror and create a person determined to stick it out. I have worked long hours in new places, driving unfamiliar streets and meeting strangers.

And one word has monopolized my vocabulary more than it ever should have.

“I am so…. alone.”

I began saying it one day, and it has taken me too long to stop.

If you read my blog, or know me at all, you know a bit of my story. Looking at my life, the world may approve my use of words and agree that I have reason to feel alone. I’m 20 years old, in that awkward place in life where I don’t live with my family I grew up with, and yet don’t have a family of my own. Though I desire a relationship, I have never been in one and don’t see any on the horizon. Living in a dorm, being an RA, I live in a hallway of girls I cannot wait to know better, yet nights can be quiet. Last summer, spending my 2 months in a new town, showing up without knowing a soul, it’s no surprise that quiet Saturday evenings had a knack for getting too quiet.

Sure, the World may agree. I have reason to feel alone.

But, friends, I urge you to be wary of the World’s opinion. I beseech you to look up for your reality.

There was a man who walked this Earth 2,000 years ago. His name was Jesus, and He did some pretty incredible things. He was born to a woman named Mary, grew up as a carpenter’s son, lived His life without turning a head. Until He was 30, that is. Then He began to do incredible things: healing diseases, restoring the sight of the blind, walking on water, calming storms. Of course, those around Him were baffled, astounded by this man who can do things no other person could ever do.

But not only that. He also began to claim things, things too incredible, things too great to believe. He claimed that He was life, He was love, He was light. He claimed that He was the Son of God who came to this Earth to save those of us who were pathetic, and weak, and alone.

He claimed that He came to save all of us.

As you would assume, only a few people believed Him. After all, He seemed only human. Who could possibly claim to be all that we would ever need and then live up to it?

No way, too good to be true.

And before too long, it didn’t seem to matter. Many people didn’t like the claims Jesus made about Himself, called it blaspheme, and reported Him to the authorities.

It didn’t take long. Jesus was arrested, flogged, publicly humiliated, beaten, and crucified on a cross. And then He died. On a Friday night, 2,000 years ago, Jesus died on a hillside in Jerusalem.

Jesus, the One who lived a spotless life, died a more gruesome death than most of us would ever dream of dying. And He went willingly, putting up no fight as they nailed His bloody hands and feet to a splintered up log and hung Him, naked, on a cross to suffocate as His body hang limp in front of a cheering audience.

In in that moment, as Jesus died, the Bible says that every sin of this world, every sin of mine, was placed on Him. In that moment, Jesus bore the weight of the world and received the wrath of God that all of us deserve.

In that moment, as He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”, Jesus was more alone than I could ever dream of being. He was more alone than anyone has ever been. In that moment, no one, not even God, was on His side.

And why? Why did He do it? He did it for you. He did it for me. He came to this Earth to live a perfect life and die the loneliest death in order to save me, in order to save you.

And He was put into a tomb, His body still. His body broken. Alone.

And why do I say all of this, friends? Why does it matter if this guy claimed things about Himself and then died? And what does it have to do with me, sitting in a coffee shop 2,000 years later, feeling alone?

That guy, Jesus… He didn’t stay dead. No other human in the history of the Earth has decided to ditch the grave and live a little longer.

But Jesus did. He did and He looked into the astonished eyes of His friends and said some of the most incredible words ever spoken. As they stared, wide-eyed at their once dead friend, finally believing that He was everything He ever claimed to be.

Life.

Love.

Freedom.

Salvation.

He looked at them and ordered them to go, and to not stay silent. To tell people, to write down what had happened. And then He looked into their frightened eyes and said the sentence that restores and upholds me today.

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

There is one word in my vocabulary that needs to leave. Every time I look at my life and claim to be alone I am spitting in the face of the God who gave His life to make it not so.

The God who has claimed to be with me. The God who is with me.

I am not alone. I am more loved than I could ever know.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you or forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6