Saturday, November 29, 2014

125: comparison

When my life-long friend got engaged, God gave me the grace to be happy for her. For the most part, I didn't struggle with pity parties of "but what about me?" Actually, I was more jealous that I was losing her to a husband than I was jealous that she got a husband!

When she got pregnant, that's when I began to struggle. It's the comparison problem. It isn't about her and her life. It's about me and what I have or have not.

Emotion clutches my heart. It points at me and then points to my friend. Then points to my friend and points back at me. It grabs my face and pulls me to look at her through the eyes of my own desires and lusts. It paints her happiness with the ugly and painful hues of comparison.

The emotion comes. It snatches my heart and twists, wanting me to either cry or harden my heart. I take the thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I am freed.

Someone posted a photo on Facebook of my friend's baby boy, held in the arms of his recently married 18 year old aunt. The caption read something like, "She wants her own baby now."

My immediate reaction was not, "Oh, that's so cute and sweet." No. It was "Oh, come on. Wait for a bit. You got married at 18. Let the rest of us in our 20s and 30s catch up to you before you go on and have children too!"

It's comparing, isn't it? It's coveting, isn't it? It's wicked, isn't it? And ugly and consuming and unprofitable and not based on truth.

What do I believe about marriage? I believe it's ordained of God and is good. What do I believe about children? I believe they are a gift from God and that part of the purpose of a godly marriage is to produce godly offspring.

But when my emotions grab me, what I believe and what I think separate.

No. Orthopraxy. Live what I believe.

Fortunately, I don't serve a God whose motto is "become your best self." I serve a God who acknowledges that I am a covetous, envious sinner who has been redeemed with the precious blood of the Lamb, and that it is NOT my power that overcomes my tears as I bang my fists into my pillow late at night crying "why not me?" but it is the power of the Holy Spirit, God of the Universe, the one who spoke light into existence, who can comfort my heart, turn my eyes off of myself, and teach me to walk in His ways.

The amazing thing about dealing with singleness is that it really applies to all areas of life where God is sovereign and I am not.

Friday, November 21, 2014

124: objectivity

I might have mentioned this before, because it is something that I really appreciate.

I really appreciate the objectivity of God.

I love that my God is both in my circumstances and above my circumstances.

I love that God puts objective beauty all around me whether I choose to gaze at it or not.

I love that God has a place called heaven prepared for me no matter what subjective chaos may or may not happen here.

I love that God sees and is present in my past, present, and future even if I forget how the past has molded me or have no idea where He's taking me.

I love that the cross is an unmoveable event in history and that its sufficiency to save me is unchangeable.

I love that God is with me when I change.

I love that God brings the thread of my childhood into my present and says, "I AM."

I love that God is.

And that's not dependent on me.

sorry, couldn't get rid of the red-eye

God has blessed me over and over these last several months. My cup overflows. Tomorrow everything could change. But I am very thankful for today and yesterday's and the day before's happiness, laughs, satisfaction, and peace. (Explanation: Yes, I blog about singleness and its craziness and my fluctuating emotions, but I don't blog about the rest of my life, which happens to be pretty great! Not that singleness isn't...oh, nevermind. :) Anyway, if I could I would be plastering every post with pix of my students! And if I was writing a teacher blog, I would be telling about all the cool stuff we've been getting to do! But that's not what this particular blog is about. :))

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

123: surprise! and a summary

When it comes to guys, I'm a list checker offer and a box fitter inner. I've never been good with the "you're marrying a person, not a list" counsel. But I've been working on it. I really have! I think I'm getting better at it too. And I think I'm finding it's more enjoyable this way. Imagine that!

I'm not very fond of surprises though. I worry when I'm getting to know a fellow that some unforeseen info about him will pop out, or the counselors in my life will discern something unhealthy, and without warning my image of who he is will crumple in upon itself and everything be ruined. That what I know of reality will be altered with a single word. That new information will tug me toward the black hole of bewilderment, despair, and, finally, dismissal of my fellow.

So, while I'm trying to be more gracious and think of prospects as holistic human beings instead of check boxes, I still fear what I will find out as I get to know them, ie. that he whom I'm emotionally invested in might not be who I thought he was.

Solution? Well, still working on that. But perhaps a solution would be thinking of a guy as a whole and ask myself whether incoming new info defines who he is or is just a deviance from the normal good will of his heart and upright character of his life.

That means I have to know a fellow and spend enough time with him in person to trust his heart. Which is why online dating and long distance relationships are not going to work for me. I need to see the 3D person in action, not black words on a white screen telling me who he thinks he is.

random picture from my school year

To summarize this series of fears, with God's help I'm working on overcoming the fear of what others might think of me, the fear that I'll turn fickle as soon as I get into a relationship, and the fear of finding out something horrible about the fellow in my life.

So, I need to keep working on killing my pride, having faith in God to get me through my scared emotions, depending on Him as my faithful Lord and Rock no matter how earthly reality might change, and having courage to move forward despite my worries!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

122: leading them on

Lord, keep me from dealing falsely.

I wrote this as a note on my phone earlier this week. It can be applied so many ways, but the most applicable way is how I deal with guys I like.

Without trying to and without doing so consciously, I have in the past toyed with the hearts of the guys pursuing me. I have strung them along, not willing to be all in, not wanting to let go. I've blamed my behavior on fickleness, on jumping ahead and ignoring the Lord's voice, on not wanting to cause hurt and not wanting to go through the pain of a breakup, on wanting to make things work. Whatever it is, I have dealt falsely with a couple guys and have felt the guilt.

Now I live with the fear that dealing falsely is what is in this wicked, deceptive heart (Jeremiah 17:9) and that that is what I will naturally do again.

I need God's supernatural power to do a work on my flesh so I will walk in the Spirit and not defraud my brothers.

I need to carefully walk with wisdom. Lord, search and know my heart so I don't jump where I will immediately falter upon landing. Help me be patient and even content with what You have blessed me with so that I don't rush and ruin the beauty You may be creating. Give me self-control so I don't start down a path, trying to make something work, when you haven't even told me to go that way. Show me Your way for me right now so I don't move forward based on my desires and earthly wisdom.

These are the kinds of prayers I need to burn upon my heart so that I will not deal falsely next time.

And then the equally vital prayer: Lord, grant me the courage to move forward and not be trapped or controlled by fear that I will deal falsely again. Because You are faithful, and that is more true than my fear.

It's fear-exposing time at my blog. To read about my fear of what others might think, click here.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

121: what if they think he's too...

In the spirit of overthinking, overanalyzing, etc., I've been examining my fears. There are many things I can talk myself through. But fears ain't one of them. Fears regarding relationships just seem so rational! How can I combat rational thought?

I wrote a little while back about wanting a trophy husband. I'm still wrestling back and forth with what kind of fellow I'd like. (Ok, I know what kind I'd like, but that doesn't mean it's God's best for me or that I'd be happier with it in the long run.) But in the meantime I read a quote that really blessed me.

See, at times I become interested in someone enough to the point of letting other people know (for the purpose of prayer, of course!). And then they want to see a picture, or they want to meet him, and all of a sudden I feel like I have to qualify the guy.

After about 8 months of having unorganized book shelves,
I couldn't take it any longer!
Organized bookshelves=happiness
And here's where I was going to give a bunch of examples of how I've qualified guys in the past/present, but someone might stumble across this post and trace the live examples back to the original people, so I think I'll refrain.

You know, I'll say, "yeah, he's not that good looking" or "but he has this annoying characteristic." Why? Because I don't want those whom I've informed about my crush to come back with a raised eyebrow after meeting him. I don't want them to be thinking secret negative thoughts about why I would like him without me preempting and predicting those thoughts beforehand.

I am sometimes judgmental. Looking at a FB wedding photo of college acquaintances, I'll think, "Oh, he's not good looking and I remember him as awkward. But she's really cute. Why did she end up with him?" (And then I see all their parenting pictures a year later and go, "Ohhh, they're such a cute family! He looks like such a loving husband and father!)

So I superimpose that judgmentalness on others, I suppose. Or I reveal my heart: I want to preserve my own self-importance by pointing out all my blessed fellow's flaws before those who are soon to see/meet him. Maybe I'm subconsciously thinking I'll taint my own perfection by admitting I like a guy without listing his imperfections in tandem.

But back to the quote that blessed me. Gini Andrews gave me--gave all of us--the freedom not to please everyone. This has nothing to do with asking for and listening to wise counsel. Rather, it's about the freedom to ditch the fear of what others will think about the inconsequential things that I'm afraid they're going to judge me for seeing past.

"Is your mind 'like concrete: all mixed up and firmly set?' What would you do if you met an attractive man but he was twenty-five years older than you? Or even ten years younger? Certainly there are problems, but if it should be God's man knocking at your door, you're going to miss out on a wonderful experience. Don't you even want to know what this man is like? Never mind the Ladies' Sewing Circle or the Missionary Guild! This is your life! You're never going to please everyone -- never. You are God's woman; His servant, yes, but also His princess. Ask Him what He wants you to do." 
--Gini Andrews, Your Half of the Apple: God & the Single Girl (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

120: holiday season

The good news.

Our school doesn't have the typical 1-2 week fall break. We have minimum days for parent-teacher conferences, Veteran's Day, and a few days off at Thanksgiving. So the fall tends to go on and on and the light at the end of the tunnel that is paved with crafts and program practices is Christmas break.

So the good news is that it's already November and although I do feel like I'm dragging, I feel completely confident that we will keep going strong until the Christmas reprieve.

The bad news.

I love autumn. I've always thought it the most romantic season, especially as it heads into the holidays. The last week has been the first time I felt I was able to breathe and take a look around and see the changing colors.

But the bad news is I can feel the romance bug biting me the same as it does every fall. Which means I'm more susceptible to thinking, then saying, things I'll regret in January when the leaves, er, scales, fall off my eyes and I can see again. It also means I'm starting to overthink, overanalyze, and just plain play boggle with my contented life.

It's a fun season.

Stick around for the festivities.

Monday, November 10, 2014

119: running from loneliness

the joy in my life right now: teaching 2nd and 3rd graders!
A few posts ago I said I was going to work for the quiet moments and embrace the loneliness.

I am here to say that in this specific season of my life that was a bad idea.

I wasted time. I stayed up way too late watching Princess Diaries 2. I felt the insatiable ache and had no control over bringing it to goodness. It hurt, with no redeeming quality.

On the other hand, not to speak for God, but it does seem like He has provided a way for me to live in contentment. For me it's called getting to bed on time (or close to it). It's called working hard (or even playing hard). It's called living, not letting the angst fester.

I am thankful I have a job that I can put my all into.

I'm thankful I have a job that keeps me busy and gives my life, oh, so much purpose.

I'm not saying that what I thought a few posts ago was wrong, but you have to know yourself. For me currently inviting loneliness would not be a spiritual act, not when I let myself be sucked into the middle of it and it feels like it's chasing me around, and since it's inside me I can't hide from it.

Know yourself. Know what season of life you're in. Listen to God's wisdom. Act accordingly.

Ok, off to prepare for bed. :)

P.S. If you are going to stay up late though, you should spend it watching the YouTube channel Blimey Cow. XD Especially Jordan's Messyges.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

118: pity party vs. truth

Yesterday I was switching my wet clothes into the dryer when my arm knocked over a nearly empty and very grimy jug of liquid detergent head first into the washer. I imagined the last flow of soap pouring onto my clothes and getting them soapy again, and if not that, then all that nasty dirt and lint and germs on the plastic jug shaking off onto my clean clothes and ruining my flow of laundry loads. Meanwhile a really nice blouse that needed to be line dried fell off onto the dirty garage floor. I flipped out. Fortunately, only my dad could hear my raised, panicked, frustrated, stressed out voice, and he didn't come running to see what was wrong. I headed into the house, my shoulder muscles tingling tensely, and washed my hands. (Fyi, my laundry was fine.)

It reminded me of Friday. Sometimes as a teacher you can either let students alone and throw the grades up in the air and see where they land, or you can work superbly hard to try to try to try to try to try (sound like a broken record yet?) to get a student to thiiiiiiiink and learrrrrrrn (insert my whining voice and whimpering). And some days at the end of a long week where one of our staff quits and unintentionally leaves the rest of us hanging, I hold my head in my hands and want to tell everyone to just please stop, just stop talking and raise your hand first please! (Ok, I think I actually did that.)

I'm learning a lot about myself via teaching. One of which is I don't know how I could be a homeschool parent. Or a mother. Like, I don't know how I could parent well and sanely and with patience and kindness because mothers don't have evenings and weekends off. And little people require a lot of calmness. And control. And patience. And not freaking out over dropped laundry and toppled detergent.

So yesterday evening I was driving down the road thinking about my singleness (snort) and after reviewing the last two days performance thought, "Well, maybe God is waiting until I can't have kids anymore to bring me a husband because He knows I wouldn't do well with kids."

Eeeerrrrrt! Stop! Reverse.

No. That is a pity party. That is not truth. The truth is I want kids. Always have. The falsehood is that God will not give that to me because I'm not good enough. The truth is that God's grace is sufficient, and if He chooses or does not choose to give me children of my own to raise then He will supernaturally give me the power to face every day in a way that glorifies Him regardless of my own ability.

I find pity parties sometimes come very slyly upon me. They come in the form of resigning myself to something that I don't need to resign myself to simply to erect a wall of identity behind which to hide and lick my wounds. "Yeah, I would probably make a mess of it anyway, so it's just as well." Translation? I want xyz, and I'm hurting right now, so I'm just going to say that I'm a horrible person (or not pretty enough or funny enough or too brash or too confusing anyway) and pretend that it's all okay when it's not.

Reversing the pity party can be painful, but I would rather live in the light of truth than behind a wall of excuses.