You Gave Your Life To God. Don’t Expect It Back.

You Gave Your Life To God. Don’t Expect It Back.

I never got a boyfriend in college. Or high school.

And I don’t say that to evoke some sort of pity from you. Really. It’s more of a fact, and one that I’ve found peace for.

But I do say it to be real, because even though I’ve never met the right guy, hardly a day goes by that I wish I will. You know… you turn a corner one day and see him and suddenly everything changes. (Maybe I’ve read too many pre-teen novels for my own good..)

Overly fantasized or not, the reality is that so many people find that person, and their lives are changed forever, and they get to live the rest of their lives with their very best friend. And for many people, this adventure happens in college, and I would be lying to say I didn’t hope it would also happen for me.

But it didn’t.

Not that I didn’t try, of course, and my close friends could tell you story after story of ridiculous things I did to try and make Boy A or Boy B notice me. (Don’t even ask about the unicorn onesie incident…) But after the first boy I liked married my roommate, and the second boy stuck me straight in the friend zone and asked me for advice on the girl he actually did like… things started to get a little discouraging.

I distinctly remember thinking that there was absolutely no way I would get through four years of a christian college without at least one guy falling in love with me. Right? I expected the world to at least give me that. (And maybe it did. But if so, I was painfully unaware.)

I would speak to juniors and seniors and learn that they were still single, and I would gawk at the romantic black hole I had walked in to. How were those people still single?! They were beautiful and wise and dedicated to the Lord. Who wouldn’t want that?

But I have learned that I put way too much stock into romance and dating and sappy Instagram posts. It embarrasses me to even think about it now, but I was indoctrinated by the culture that surrounded me. Even at a christian college, and a good one, far too much time and energy was spent on who liked who, and way too little time on the God who made us all.

 

It’s a little unsettling how much my mindset has changed since graduation a month ago. I think I was changing for years during college, but it’s like I never actually had a chance to see what it all meant for me. I was stuck – in a good way, at the time – in a decision I made as a 17 year old to attend the school I did. And I loved it, don’t get me wrong, but part of me now thinks I may have loved it too much.

Let me explain.

I was comfortable there. I cared about getting a boyfriend far more than bearing my cross. Following Jesus was a hobby for most of my college career – something I would do when I had free time but nothing worth giving my life up for. I would come for Him when I had something to gain, like comfort or proof for my beliefs.

And how sick is that? He died for me. A bloody, humiliating event. God turned away and He took it all.

I think, my whole life, I have been indirectly taught that you can have Jesus and everything else too. But can you? This post feels jumbled, but maybe that’s because I am. I feel like I just stepped off the Tilt-A-Whirl at the fair, like my head hurts and what I thought was gravity just dropped out from under me.

The reality is, I gave my life to Christ when I was 5 years old. And I had absolutely no way of knowing what that would mean for me, but God did. He took my little heart, and He began to mold it and form it and I will never forget the Saturday night my 7th grade year when I realized I wanted to live for God. I knew that night that my heart burned for Jesus, but I will admit I thought nothing of sacrifice.

I thought I could have it all and Jesus too.

And now I’m trying to figure out how I justified it all.

The rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked for life, for a place in His kingdom. And Jesus didn’t tell him to go to a comfortable christian school, marry a christian woman, have cute little christian kids and find a comfortable job to support it all. He tells him to “go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me”.

I want to be careful here. I am not, in any way, insulting those who met their spouse at a christian college, had kids, and now work to support the family they have built. That is incredible and beautiful. What I am questioning, however, is the word comfortable.

And I’m questioning it because I see it in myself. I never dreamed of sacrifice, and consequently didn’t partake in it much. I don’t spend my life loving orphans and widows, as scripture clearly commands. I can’t even remember the last time I told somebody about Jesus who had never heard. I am sickened, sickened by what I have considered important.

Why did I never consider that I didn’t find somebody to be with at college because Jesus didn’t plan for me to find someone there? I gave my life to Jesus long ago, why do I keep expecting it back? “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his soul?” (Mark 8:36).

I think back to all the heartache of the past year. I think it was me losing my soul. Vain desires were rotting me. Jesus took away – withheld – so that I would face sacrifice with a hungry knowledge that this world ain’t gonna cut it. Sacrifice is the only obvious choice if I am to gain Christ.

And I must gain Christ. My soul needs Him. I don’t want to gain this world, for I die a little every time I do.

Jesus is so different than I imagined. He expects me to give it all up, everything He has given me. And yet I know – I know – that if I do, life will be there. He kept me from falling in love because He has love waiting for me – buckets and buckets of love.

But I must follow Him to find it.

 

 

It Was Never Meant To Be A Game

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

I Fell In Love With The Wrong Person

I Fell In Love With The Wrong Person

I fell in love this week.

To be more exact, I’ve slowly been falling in love for the last 21 years, and this week it escalated to something I couldn’t control. My heart, mind, motives, actions, and thoughts were centered around this person- consumed wholeheartedly and completely. I couldn’t stop thinking about this person- all I wanted to do was make them happy. My every waking thought was reserved for them: my thoughts and actions centered around them.

This week, I became blinded by my desire for this person, allowing that desire to shape my life, emotions and motives.

All of my hope was in them. Every ounce of my happiness laid in their hands.

And I lay in bed last night, emotionally stripped and hollow. Why? Because this person… they failed me. I woke this morning with a broken heart, shattered and worn and thirsty for hope. And I knew, without a doubt, that one thing was true…

I fell in love with the wrong person.

I put my every desire and hope in the hands of somebody that didn’t deserve it. I allowed myself to cling to the motives and strengths of somebody that was unworthy an incapable. At the end of every day, I chose to believe that this person had the ability to fulfill every part of me, satisfy my every fiber, make me whole.

And they couldn’t.

They couldn’t make me whole, content, and satisfied. They couldn’t be what I needed them to be. They couldn’t do any of these things, because…

Well, because this person was me. 

I had fallen in love with the wrong person.

 

 

Ever heard of a guy named Paul?

He lived around 2,000 years ago, and he fell in love too. He wrote a lot of letters about his love, encouraging others to know the same kind of love he did.

In one of his letters, he wrote the following to his love:

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing you. For your sake I have suffered many things and count them as trash in order that I may have you….”

Paul was in love, entirely and completely. In fact, he considered everything to be equal to trash compared to being with his love. Every ounce of himself was given to this person, and yet… His letters never found him brokenhearted. His hope in this person did not disappoint- not ever.

In another letter, he wrote:

“….and my hope is not put to shame, because your love has been poured into my heart.”

Paul was in love with God. 

Paul put every ounce of his heart, life and soul into the right hands. He fell in love, but that love never put him to shame.

After this week, my heart needs to be reminded where it belongs. I have lived in the sins of idolatry and pride for far too long. If I am honest with myself, I have never been able to repeat Paul’s words with true conviction.

“I consider it all trash that I may gain Christ….”

Consider what “trash”?

Everything.

God doesn’t ask me for part of my life- He asks me for  all of it. He asks me for my hope, for my relationships, for my future plans. He asks me to consider my desires- for marriage, for career, for status- to be seen as disposable in comparison to knowing Him.

Disposable. 

“But God… wanting a boyfriend isn’t bad…”

DESIRE ME MORE THAN THAT.”

But… Doesn’t my happiness matter?”

“DESIRE ME MORE THAN THAT.”

“God… what about my status? What about what people think about me?”

“I NEED TO BE MORE TO YOU THAN EVEN THAT.”

“OK, then.. what about when I fear loneliness? What about when I can’t see you? What if I want a job, or a position, or a person so badly that I can hardly think straight? How can I consider those things trash?”

In Jeremiah 29:13, God says that “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.”

Why have I gone so long without seeing God? Because I have not been seeking Him with all of my heart. Day after day I hold parts of my life from Him, not trusting Him with what I desire most. Not trusting Him with my love.

Friends, I don’t need you to tell me what you need to give to God today. I know what He asks of you- He asks for everything. I plead you to put your heart in the only hands that deserve it.

Don’t fall in love with the wrong person. Don’t love anything or anyone more than you love your God. No reality, no matter how lovely, can surpass the joy of Jesus Christ.

 

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ.”

Philippians 3:7-8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Singleness and Self-Pity

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.