Thursday, January 27, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Thoughts on singleness
Most of the time I do not enjoy being single. I have gone through seasons where I feel a lot of shame, bitterness, insecurity, or loneliness about it. I don’t notice it as much when I’m just in the zone with God, doing my thing, loving people. But I notice it when I am alone and have less to do. Here are some of things that God has taught me in being single.
- First- God’s timing does match our culture’s timing. The American culture would say I should have dated many people by now, had some serious relationships, probably had sex already, be engaged or maybe even married. But God’s timing does not work that way. He does not run by the world’s idea of when I should be married. I have to trust given how messed up our culture is when it comes to dating and marriage that God’s timing is monumentally better. I do not want to end up in a dating relationship or marriage like what I see on TV.
- Second-God’s timing for me is also not the same as God’s timing for my friends, family, or people I admire. When I was younger I wanted to get married when I was 23. I know it seems young but I wanted to have my first kid by 25. My sister got married when she was 23. I was 21 at the time and kind of knew that I was probably not going to get married in the next 2 years. So then I heard this beautiful woman who really loved God talk about how she didn’t date until she was 23. So then I thought, ok she’s really pretty, it’s that haven’t dated yet. Well 23 has come and gone now. I have to stop trying to plan a timeline and be ok with where I am right now. When I think about never getting married, it’s a very hard concept for me to swallow. So I think about it in smaller chunks. Can I be single for the next 3 months? Yes. God has been with me for 25 years of singleness he will be with me for 3 more months. Then at the end of those three months, I will think, ok can I be single for 3 more? Yes. This doesn’t seem so overwhelming and anxious about my time running out to get married.
- Third- God has not promised marriage to me. I can not live my life in waiting and hoping that a man will be around the corner. This is hard for me because I want to do that a lot of times. I feel like when I am married everything will be better. I won’t be so lonely, I’ll have someone who always cares about me and understands me. But those are lies. If I get married, he will be a very sinful man. He will hurt and disappoint me. Only God can heal me. So I have to move forward with my life and the plans that God has given me. If he ever decides to throws a man into the mix, then Hallelujah, but I can’t wait or expect that in making long term plans.
As I have been reflecting on my singleness this weekend God has been revealing to me more of the benefits of being single.
- You have a lot more freedom. In the day to day, I don’t have to check with someone else’s schedule if I want to make plans for the weekend or make time to talk on the phone. In long term decisions, I don’t have to consult a spouse to see how my passions will fit his. I free to go wherever the Lord is calling me without worrying if another person feels called to the same thing or how they will fit into my lifestyle. Yes I may eventually have to face that, but right now I don’t have to worry about it.
- The best benefit is that my heart is undivided toward God. Paul would actually argue that it’s better to be single so that you can fully devote yourself to God. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35. (This doesn’t mean I want to be single as Paul was). It is true in a sense. Relationships take a lot of work, time, energy, and love. I have more time and energy to devote fully to God. I feel like I already struggle with giving God my undivided attention, I am sure that a relationship would make it even harder. Again, not that I want to be single forever, but I can see the benefits it has for me right now in life.
Thoughts on dating
Here are my tid bits on relationships (I was recently told the correct phrase is snip bits, but in my family we say tid bits). They mainly have to do with entering into a relationship. (Disclaimer: I would give this advice for people in college; it may be slightly different for people in other stages of life).
Before entering into a relationship:
· Have dealt with ways that you are a jacked up person with God. Be in a continual process of finding healing about that, especially if you have a lot of hurt and pain from your family
· Be in a community that can support and challenge you in your relationship with God
· Have someone of the same gender that you can talk to about your relationship really opening and honestly on a regular basis
· Consider external factors that could affect your relationship. Just because you both like each other and get along well is not necessarily a good enough reason alone to enter into a relationship. Consider other things like, do you have the time to commit to this, will your relationship hurt other people around you, is this good timing in regard to other things going on in your life, are you both in a good place with God?
· Know what you want out of the relationship and be able to communicate that to the other person.
· Look for signs of co-dependency, meaning you are so dependent on each other that you get your identity from what that person thinks of you. Signs of this can be: you have no other friends besides your significant other, you don’t know what to do with yourself when you are not with them, if they criticize you it makes you really upset, you can’t make decisions without getting their input.
· Be able to hold the relationship loosely. If God asks you to give up that relationship for whatever reason, you should be able to let it go. I’m not saying that would be easy, but you must be willing to be more obedient to God than hold onto a relationship.
· This is not true all of the time, but if the people who know you best really don’t think it’s a good relationship, it’s probably not. They can see outside of your love bubble. Make sure they can tell you why it’s not good, but they know you best so they have good insight.
Last thought- The media feeds us all kinds of lies about relationships. I fall prey to them all the time. I LOVE chick flicks but most of them are lies and lead me into false hope. God is the only one who can fully complete me, give me value, love me unconditionally, and never leave me.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Today at church our pastor made a few comments on Martin Luther King Day. He first commented on how having a day off work does not really do anything to actually honor him and the work he did. He was a man who worked hard and probably didn’t take a lot of days off. I was reminded how I myself just let this holiday come and go. I was disappointed in myself because I actually have always admired MLKJ and he has always been somewhat of a hero of mine. He was a man founded in the Lord that brought about a huge movement of social change with integrity, nonviolence, and perseverance. I can not even imagine what it would be like for God to use me in a way that he used MLKJ. I decided that this year I should try to honor him in some way and so I went back and read his “I have a dream” speech. I haven’t read it since I was a kid. I was struck by really how powerful of a speaker he was and how beautiful his words were. My pastor also commented about MLKJ is most well known for his “I have a dream speech,” but really how it was Jesus’ dream first. We must not forget that we talk about him. I also noticed as I went back over his speech about how much I see Jesus’ message and vision weaved into his words.
Here are some lines from the speech that really grabbed me.
· “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.”
· “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” I don’t really think about how a quest for freedom is abused but it is true. It’s like the world sees freedom as not big enough for everyone so we have to fight over who gets to have it.
· “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Amos 5: 24 “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” This scripture has always been such a powerful image for me and it has shaped a lot of the way I see justice. I never knew that MLKJ used it in his speech.
· “Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.”What a hard message to hear, but how true it is about the Christian life. Unearned suffering will be redeemed. And he encourages us to not let the suffering paralyze us, but keep working with faith. I have not experienced suffering like African American have. The suffering I have experienced has made me want to keel over and crawl into a ball. Oh Lord, give me MLKJ’s attitude of perseverance through suffering.
· “I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.” Poetry, pure poetry. The images of the sweltering heat to an oasis, beautiful Martin, just beautiful.
· “This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.” I love how he acknowledges that it is only with faith that we can do anything.
Thank you MLKJ for your words of encouragement about God’s promises of redemption. His words are as much true today as they were when he gave them. We still need that message of reconciliation, justice, freedom. Yes, minorities absolutely need justice as racial prejudice is still overpowering in society and traps minorities in cycles of poverty. But we all need that God’s freedom in our lives and faith to persevere through suffering.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
This is a special edition because spent 2 weeks in Phoenix with my nephew, Connor James Zimmerman. It was very cool to be in the hospital when he was born and hold him just a few hours after.
Another aspect about my nephew has struck me as an analogy to how we often deal with God. My sister at times has had trouble getting him to breastfeed. He actually lost over 10% of his birth weight because he couldn’t latch on and get the milk he needed. When we are unable to depend on God for what we need, we start to deplete. He is the source that gives us nutrients and sustains us as my sister’s breast milk does for my nephew. Because he was losing so much weight they had to start giving him some formula to supplement the breast milk. To me this is God’s grace to us. He still takes care of us even when we reject him because he loves and cares for us. But formula is not as good as the breast milk’s nutrients. My nephew settles for less than what is best for him. My sister has said several times that he just wants that instant gratification. The bottle is much easier than the work it takes for him to get the breast milk. How indicative of our culture is this? We just want love, success, happiness the quick and easy way even if it’s not the best thing for us. Sometimes God’s way feels harder and takes longer to get the things we need, but God has better for us if we will accept it. And he is always willing to offer something better. My sister has not given up on breastfeeding because she knows her milk is better for him than formula. She has grace on him to give him the formula but she always tries what is better for him at first. That is how God treats us. No matter how addicted we may get to formula he is always there to offer something better if we will receive it.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I didn’t really spend that much time reflecting on 2010. I still feel like I live by a school calendar so 2010 is ½ in Irvine and ½ in LA making it hard to reflect on the whole year. I never make New Years’ resolutions because I always fail to keep them. But here are some things I am not resolving to do, but would hope would happen in 2011 (in no particular order)
-Aprendo mas espanol- Necesito para trabajos y en hablo con mis vecinos
-Get to know my neighbors- Hence why I need to know Spanish, but I need to find other ways to interact with them.
-Visit my nephew several times-He’s going to grow so fast.
-Date L- Depressing subject. A hope every year that never happens it seems.
-Get to know more people at the church I attend/get involved-maybe kid’s ministry, maybe go to Spanish service to work on Spanish and get to know more people in the community.
-Make fasting more of a routine in my life- Our church will be practicing this soon so I hope to continue with what I learn
-Continue to learn how to cook more-And have grace on myself when I fail
-See more plays- I need more theater buddies
-Learn more of how to care for the poor in LA- Oh Lord teach me, I don’t know what I am doing.