“Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children.”
Today’s morning devotional led me to this scripture in Ephesians 5:1. The Holy Spirit suspended my heart within the words as he painted a picture of a young girl playing dress up in her mother’s closet. I still remember being a child, awkwardly stumbling around in my mother’s high heels trying to emanate her femininity. I never got farther than two or three steps without losing my balance and my feet spent more time outside of the pumps as my size fours struggled to remain grounded in a size I won’t mention. As I think back to those glorious days of exploration in my mom’s closet, I’m drawn to the absence of the one emotion that seems most befitting to the experience. Fear.
In a closet completely packed with things too big for me, I never once felt swallowed. The thought never crossed my mind that I should be afraid of putting on things that weren’t my size. Why? Well, there’s a few reasons.
One: my mother was my safe place. My trust in her far outweighed my own inabilities. If she wore these things, how could they be harmful to me? Two: more than anyone in the world, I wanted to be like my mother and the force of that drive blocked out any would be fears from stopping me. And finally three: running pretty concurrently with my previous reason, I simply wanted to be like my mom and in my childish head, the best way to do that was to imitate her.
God is ushering us to step into His closet: put on the patience you have to hold up as you trip over its length, slip into the selflessness that seems to slow your pace, and try on the kindness that overwhelms your own will. Christ has invited us to put on His attributes as our own and in that invitation lies trust, fearlessness and the grace to don the character of the savior. And hear this, you don’t have to feel capable of being like Christ in order to be like Christ. You just have to trust Christ and take Him at His word. You have been redeemed. There have been many times in my walk with God that I’ve wanted to throw in the towel because being patient, kind, and putting others before myself felt too difficult. That’s because I was trying to wear my own version of God’s character. I felt overtaken by my inability to mirror Christ. Yet, I never left His closet. I never stopped putting on His clothes, no matter how much they hung. I played dress up until the dress fit. I stayed, seeking God and drawing closer to Him as I matured into (some of ) the garments. Just as the little girl in her mother’s closet will one day walk confidently in the shoes she once stumbled in, so can we mature into the articles of Christ’s love.
A final note…
In order to be like someone, we have to know them. When actors take on roles where they have to portray real people, they delve deep into the life of that person. In preparation for biopics, actors will study the way a person speaks, their mannerisms, and they even try to get a grasp on the proclivities of their mind. If people trying to portray other people go to such great lengths for the sake of a believable work of art, how much more should we draw closer to our creator, so that we may imitate Him in all holiness, righteousness, truth, and love?
The year is 1850 and the town is Bucktown, Maryland. After escaping slavery and fleeing to Philadelphia one year earlier, Harriet Tubman returns to Dorchester County to guide her family through the same wilderness that led her to freedom. Both her life and liberty are at stake as she risks being discovered on her trek back into the place that had long imprisoned her freedom. Upon her arrival to Bucktown, Harriet is greeted by a grim reality: Her husband has remarried, is expecting a child, and has no desire to return to Philadelphia with her. In her anguish, Harriet questioned why God would allow her safe passage all the way to Maryland for a husband who no longer wanted her. Her plans shattered and heart bewildered, Harriet beseeched her savior:
Why, Lord, did you bring me all this way to rub mud in my face?
Have you ever ended up in a desert when you thought God was leading you to a promised land?
Desert: Any area in which few forms of life can exist because of lack of water, permanent frost, or absence of soil.
Believe it or not, there are many creatures who have adapted to the desert’s environment and are able to withstand its harsh conditions. According to San Diego Zoo, desert critters rest in burrows during the heat of the day and some creatures get the moisture they need from the foods they eat, so they don’t need to drink much water. How does all this desert mumbo jumbo apply to you and me, and what did it mean for Harriet Tubman at a time when her own plans had come to an abrupt standstill?
Let’s see if we can piece this together.
The total collapse of Harriet’s plans gave way to momentary stillness. It was an opportunity for God to interject and reveal to her his purpose, despite her plans; a way for Him to redirect her course. Sometimes, we become so headstrong in contriving our own paths, that the guidance of the Holy Spirit is muted by our desires. However, Romans 8:28 tells us that all things (even our missteps) work together for good to those who love God and to those who are called according to His purpose. God used the fuel of Harriet’s desires to reposition her onto the course He’d carved out for her. When her husband declined her invitation to return to Philadelphia with her, although heart broken, she instead gathered many other slaves and helped them escape to their freedom. This act (according to the movie, “Harriet.”) was her unofficial inauguration to the underground railroad. And thus, by way of the desert, the heartbreak, the struggle, and the devastation, Harriet stepped into the plan God had predestined for her all along.
So, what about you and me?
As the insect burrows itself beneath the ground during the heat of the day, has God not called His children to take refuge in the shade of His love and protection when our spirits are exhausted? Psalm 46:1 declares that God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. Likewise, John 4:14 tells us that he who drinks the water given by Christ will never thirst. The desert creature is not at all dependent upon the desert’s conditions for its water, for its thirst is met by the food it eats. As Christians, we must learn not to look to our circumstances to clothe, feed, or provide shelter to us. All that we need will come from the hand of our Father and His bounty is not dependent on our surroundings. In all seasons of life, have faith that God is working on something far more eternal than our temporary discomfort and pain. Even when it doesn’t feel like it.
In writing this post, I did some research on the desert and what benefits (if any) lie in its perceived wastelands. I can’t lie, it took me more than a few google searches to find the desert’s advantageous side, but I was able to gather a little somethin’ somethin’ for us. According to Science.com, “The dry condition of deserts helps promote the formation and concentration of important minerals.” Furthermore, “Minimal vegetation has also made it easier to extract important minerals from desert regions.”
Any particular Bible verse coming to mind?
Okay, there’s a few, but I’m going to go with Romans 5:3-4.
Ya’ll. There are jewels in the desert!!! My lowest moments have produced my greatest faith. My relationship with God has grown far more during my seasons of drought than when I am replete in all my needs. I’m telling you, it’s something about the trenches that extracts the gold. It’s the testing. It’s the stark realization that what we think we are capable of obtaining on our own, will be lost at our hands. It’s the straight up desperation. Stripped of a job, a home, a husband, a wife, or our health, we come to realize that what we are left with is all we need. Don’t worry, that sentence got stuck in my throat too. God, His will, and the fruits of His spirit are all we NEED to survive and receive the crown of a faithful servant. Everything else, and I mean everything else is gravy.
Let’s not circumvent the desert in order to swim in empty seas, because sometimes it’s the desert road we’ll have to take if it’s the promised land we wish to see. And really, an ocean is just a desert in disguise.
Gird your loins, and get to digging, for there are jewels in the desert!
Instead of attending church and licking the plate of a home cooked meal, I spent Easter Sunday in Rochester, New York, held up in a hotel room binge-watching the first season of “Gilmore Girls.” As usual, I’m late to the amazing television series party.
Relax. It’s not like I’ve never heard of the show. A few of my friends watch the reruns on Netflix. I’m a, “Law and Order: SVU” kinda girl myself, so the idea of romance and drama in a small town named Stars Hollow was never all that riveting to me in the first place.
Anyhow, I digress.
During a discussion with my two flying partners the day before, the topic of mother-daughter relationships came up and the less than perfect bond between Emily and Lorelai Gilmore was referenced. The flight attendant who had seen,”Gilmore Girls” raved about how great it was and assured me that it was “clean” and “You could watch it with a five year old.” A wholesome show at least in part about a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship? Now the Gilmores had my attention. I figured, what the heck? I’ve got thirty hours to kill in Rochester, why not give it a try. So I committed to watching at least one episode of, “Gilmore Girls” on my layover.
Then I watched eight.
In the days following my newfound obsession, I found myself being constantly lulled to sleep by the heart warming banter between Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. Night after night, I was peeling my body from the sofa and dragging myself to bed. One morning, after one of those nights, I commenced my quiet time with God. Propped up against the chaise at the end of my bed, I bowed my head and began with thanksgiving. As my prayers transitioned from one topic to the next, the Holy Spirit began to interrupt my thoughts. I stopped talking and listened. Then, I heard. Per the command of God, I had to stop watching, “Gilmore Girls.”
Yes, fully involved and several episodes into the second season, God said no. Completely crushed, I told God, Okay. I’ll give it up…next week. What I heard next was as clear as the cloudless blue sky currently hiding behind my living room curtains: “Delayed obedience is disobedience.” I knew then that I had to decide in that moment whether I was going to heed the voice of God or give in to my own desires. And so, my short lived affair with, “Gilmore Girls” came to an abrupt halt.
It may seem silly that God would ask me to give up something as seemingly harmless as a t.v. show, but it didn’t come as a complete surprise to me. My spirit had already been stirred by some of the minor themes in the show. I’d simply chosen to overlook them because they weren’t that bad. Two things in particular that bothered me about, “Gilmore Girls,” was the promotion of sex outside of marriage and promiscuity.
Because of it’s prevalence, fornication (among many other “little” sins) is sort of…expected these days. Not a big deal, even. Yet God is reminding me that we don’t answer to the culture or times, we answer to His word. And if there is anything we watch, read, listen to, participate in, or entertain that is not in line with His word, then we are out of line. Period, no exceptions. We as Christians should not be entertained by the same things as the non-believing world. We cry out for more of God as we continue to embed ourselves deeper into the heart of this world. Then we wonder why He feels so distant…
I believe that God is challenging his people. Calling our bluff, if you will. Are we really willing to lay it ALL out on the line to follow him? Are we willing to give up all the things that keep us grounded in this world? The answers to our prayers to forge a deeper relationship with God lie in our obedience to him. We fall into step with the spirit of God when we learn to trust and believe him the first time. In his time, not our own, for he is our commander in chief.
War movies are my favorite to watch because I love the art and organization of war and seeing how tactical skill and knowledge lead to victory…and sometimes defeat. One of the most vital rules of battle is to follow the orders of the commander. A Lieutenant/Colonel is not given rank over a group of soldiers, but rather, earns their title by proving that they are capable of leading in battle. They have more knowledge and insight than the majors they reside over, which makes it imperative that their subordinates heed their guidance.
If a Lieutenant/Colonel yells to his platoon, “Take Cover!” and one of his/her majors asks why, exclaiming, “I don’t see the enemy!” it’s likely that that individual will either lose his/her life or become severely injured.
Likewise, if God tells us to stop, go, yes or no, we need to be in a position to act immediately.Christians are taking unnecessary fire from enemy lines because we are disobedient to our commander, which is ultimately an indication that we don’t trust Him. If God tells us to move out of the line of fire today and we don’t move until tomorrow, we will have already been burnt. But grace. Even in our disobedience, He is a good God, for He allows us to get burned without being incinerated. Still, why waste time nursing wounds that can be been avoided through obedience. We can say all the prayers, read the Bible in every translation, go to church three times a week, and still not get any closer to God because we don’t listen.
Before God can transition us to the next level, He has to trust us to trust Him. We cannot sustain ourselves in the place He has purposed for us. Giving up, “Gilmore Girls” wasn’t easy at first, but I’m glad I did it. I’ve given up a lot of worldly pleasures (some things I’m still working on letting go) this year in obedience to God. And I’ll be honest, it’s hard and it hurts. It sometimes feels like I’m being stripped of everything that makes me, me. But I guess that’s the point. The Christian journey isn’t about becoming more ourselves, but becoming less like us and more like Jesus.
When I first started working on this post, I typed up some questions related to obedience to get my writing juices flowing. Feel free to answer them in the context of your own life and walk with God.Share or not, but ponder please.
Why is it important to obey the Holy Spirit at the time of prompting?
What are the consequences of being disobedient to the Holy Spirit?
Should God entrust us with inside information if we can’t follow His instructions?
Is it possible that we wait as long as we do for our desires because God is waiting on us to show that we are capable of being obedient?
Thumbelina is one of the most underrated animated films of my time. What with all the Disney movies hogging the limelight, I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Yet, even with the odds stacked against it, “Thumbelina” somehow failed to go unnoticed by my childhood. By the age of six or seven, I’d seen it more times than I could count. Today, I found myself absently singing one of the tunes from the film. Annoyingly enough, I only remembered one line from the song…”Dearie, marry the Mole.”
I mentally flipped through clips of the movie until I came to the scene this song accompanied— before I continue, let me give a brief synopsis of the movie for the losers who haven’t seen it or read the tale.
Thumbelina- a girl the size of a thumb- tries to find her place in a big world where she doesn’t quite fit in. On a whim of a night, her angelic singing lures a prince to her windowsill. They fall in love immediately. Typical. They set up a rendezvous for the next evening, but before their tryst can take place, Thumbelina is kidnapped. With the help of a new friend, she escapes. As she goes about trying to find her way home and ultimately her way back to Prince Cornelious, she gets sidetracked by various suitors who attempt to convince her that she should marry them instead. Despite pleas and insistence that she wed one of the available singles, Thumbelina never loses sight and hope of finding her true love.
Cringe-worthy, I know, but there’s a takeaway.
Back at the scene, an ostensibly well-intentioned mouse friend tries to convince Thumbelina to marry a rich, over the hill mole with an upbeat ditty. She uses a practical argument: stability (i.e. money) is paramount to love. And it almost works. Thumbelina prepares for the wedding ceremony, complete with a hideous coiffure and equally horrid dress. As she saunters down the aisle toward the biggest mistake of her life, visions of Prince Cornelius bring her back to her senses. “I’m sorry, but I can’t marry the Mole. I don’t love him!”
My fellow singles, I encourage you to take a page from Thumbelina’s story. Don’t settle for available just because your wait has become wearisome.
Your person is out there. Don’t give up on the partner God has purposed for you. They’re worth the wait and so are you. Besides, a partner isn’t all there is to life. While a spouse may be a part of your destiny, all that God has for you is not wrapped up in that one dream. Venture out and see what God would have you do in this season of your life.
Whatever you do, please refrain from entertaining your wait with pointless dating endeavors.
Sometimes it seems easier to take the reins of life into our hands, rather than wait around for God to deliver his promises. I’ve been there and I get it, but do your best to avoid falling into this temptation. Date with intention, not out of loneliness. If you’re yearning for companionship, draw closer to God. I know, no one wants to hear that, but a boyfriend (or husband for that matter) cannot fill a void in your life that is meant for God.
Remind yourself of Thumbelina. She was lost, and many times throughout her journey, confused about what was best for her. Nonetheless, she kept her eyes on the promise she would live happily ever after with her prince. Thumbelina held on to her hope. If you are God’s child and he is your hope, then I ask you, are you allowing His promises to guide your love life?
Stay focus. Know that God knows what you need more than you think you know what you want. Read that last sentence again. Don’t be afraid to reject who you know is not from God. People will tell you you’re too picky or that you have too many standards that are too high. Your spouse is God’s choice— not your mom’s, friend’s, aunty’s, or cousin’s—God’s choice. His choice, your decision.
If you get to a place where you’re tempted to enter into a relationship just to kill time, question yourself. Ask yourself why you feel the need to be in a relationship with someone who has no real potential of being your spouse. Take those answers to God in prayer and ask him to help you fill those voids with his love. But please, don’t foul things up out of impatience or loneliness.
Stay strong in your singleness. You have not been forgotten.
P.S. In doing research for this post, I found out that one of the reasons Thumbelina was going to marry the mole was because she was under the impression that Prince Cornelious had died. Still though, if you’re a believer, has not death lost its sting? Things not panning out the way you want or expect them to is still not a reason to settle for anything less than what God has for you.
I’ve heard the song a hundred times, listened to it sang at least five different ways, and yet have never been at all curious about the lyricist. “I Can Only Imagine” is the best selling Christian single of all time and arguably the song most beloved by followers of Christ. When I found out a movie was being made about the backstory of the song, I was immediately intrigued. I wondered What did someone have to go through to come up with the lyrics:
“Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for You, Jesus
Or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine.”
On its own, the song depicts perfectly our wonderment of what it will be like to experience the glory of God in heaven. Yet, the context of the movie unveils a less apparent perspective. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I do want to share my takeaway from the film.
The movie “I Can Only Imagine” broadens the character of the song. It puts the spotlight on the linchpin of Christianity. Faith. It’s easy to preach and pray about, but it’s not always easy to have. Pleadings to God can become tedious when we are forced to live in the now. Our situations don’t yield to our prayers in our timing, but in God’s. A hackneyed phrase, I know. God’s perfect timing can sometimes feel like an eternity.
Imagining our prayers already answered is faith. The areas in our lives and in our world that we wish were different, can be. But praying isn’t enough if all we’re doing is speaking the words we’ve been taught to say. Belief is what anchors our prayers. I know it’s not always easy, but it is necessary. The next time you pray for something, question yourself. Do you actually believe- can you imagine- that what you’re praying for can be a reality?
I have a friend whose salvation I’ve been praying for for years. This friend once told me that Believing in God is like believing in Santa Claus. Talking to him about my faith is like trying to explain long division to a rock. A few months ago the holy spirit challenged me to change the narrative of my prayers: Instead of making requests for things you believe have the potential to happen, begin to picture everything you pray for as if it’s already happened. I started with my friend. Now when I pray for him, I imagine him kneeling at the altar of God, both hands raised to heaven, praising the Father. I do the same for all my prayers. Picturing my requests have made my prayers more fervent, more believable, more hopeful.
So just as the Holy Spirit challenged me, I challenge you: imagine. Paint a picture with your prayers and hang it up on the walls of your mind to create a reference point for your petitions. I will never forget the scene I created the first time I prayed for my friend’s salvation using my imagination. I pictured my prayer as if it were real and since then, for me, it has been. It’s simply a matter of waiting for it to come to pass. 1 Corinthians 13:4 tells us that Love suffers long… Don’t give up on your prayers. Imagine what you already know to be real by your faith in God.
As a child, one of my first lessons in morality was honesty. My mother put an unusual emphasis on telling the truth. I know it’s standard for any half-way decent parent to instill veracity in their children, but my mother really hammered it into her four kids. She’d tell us, “There’s nothing you could ever do that would make me stop loving you.” To further drive her point, she’d give us these insane scenarios in which her love would abide: “If you killed twenty people, you could tell me and I would still love you.”
So growing up (and even now) it was rare that I lied to my mother. When I did, the guilt would gnaw away at me until I ran to her confessing, “Mommy I’m sorry! It was me who drank your root beer!” Of course, swiping a soda was a minor offense, but I was always astonished by how easily she forgave me. My apologies usually ended with my mother enclosing me in her arms or gently grasping my face in her hands and looking into my tear filled eyes to remind me…nothing.
That seed of unmitigated love ingrained in me as a child was the blueprint I stumbled around trying to comprehend God’s infinite love for me. Even now, as a somewhat seasoned Christian, I still find myself tripping over God’s love. An ineffable love so overwhelming, that at times I flee from it. I feel guilty for being on the receiving end of such a limitless affection.
It seems like my relationship with God is constantly on the rocks. There’s always something to fix or improve. I hardly ever feel satisfied with my contribution to the union. When I take too many steps in the wrong direction I think Oh no, I’ve done it this time and hide my face in shame. There I stay for days, sometimes weeks or months, until God coaxes me out of my hiding place and back into his presence.
Recently, God placed a pause in my heart: anchored it in order that we might have a conversation about my distorted idea of his love.
God’s love for us far exceeds the potential of any human affection we could ever hope to receive. There’s no shame in his love and it abounds in grace and forgiveness. There’s nothing we can do, no sin we can commit that would diminish his love for us.
It’s much easier to read those words than to walk in them. When we give in to sin, it’s sometimes easier to stay there than to confess that we messed up- again. But it’s in those moments that we should be running into the arms of God, not from them. God knows our sinful nature and he knows that we are not capable of resisting on our own. He invites us into his arms when we feel burdened and overcome by sin. His hand is gentle and yearns to correct us with the love of a father.
There is no better feeling of relief than knowing that we can disclose all the messy, ugly, and sinful parts of ourselves to a God who will transform our faults into his glory. Trust him. Trust that God can paint our pain with his love. When we feel most vulnerable, most confused, most tempted, most carnal, God is inviting us to hide in him and let him fight our battles. Our hearts cannot be hidden from God and there’s no hope of refuge in running from him, only to him.
“Self–love. It’s a huge fad these days. We’ve all seen the posts and the blogs and the memes about how we can’t truly love others if we don’t love ourselves first. How if we want to be there for others, we need to put ourselves and our needs first. THEN we can help others, and help them more effectively.
Friends, this mentality is NOT biblical. This is a worldview that too many Christians have bandwagoned onto, and it’s growing at an alarming rate.“
Still dealing with the compunction of having signed up for something so ridiculous, I decided that my going to this “singles mixer” would be a covert venture. As January 13th drew closer, I became more and more uncertain. What am I doing? I contemplated not going, but I knew that in order to resolve my suspicions, I had to find out for myself if I was missing out after all.
After a few days, it became unbearable to keep quiet about the event. My thoughts had taken a turn for the dramatic and I was in desperate need of sound advice. I casually mentioned the event over phone conversations with a few of my best girls. Much to my surprise, they were on board with me going to this singles mixer. Their optimism gave me permission to be, at the very least, cautiously hopeful.
How didn’t I know about this place? I thought as the host led me to the back of the restaurant. We slipped through an obscure door that immediately exposed a narrow stairway. Two flights of stairs later, we arrived on the third floor. The host pointed out the restrooms and stretched his arm toward the back of the room. “They’re in the back,” he said plainly as he dismissed himself. I looked around, surprised at how big the space was. The dim lighting and classical decor made the room seem smaller, more intimate. As I headed back, I was grateful that I had chosen to wear flat boots, instead of heels. My entrance would be less noticed.
“Hi! Welcome! My name is Leah. The name tags at the bar have different colors. Pick one and write your name on it!” Leah was nice. Bubbly. The way I would’ve been had I not been brimming with apprehension. Aside from our lovely entertainer Leah and myself, there was one other woman and one man. The woman (shall we call her Tracy?) was lively and chatty. She didn’t seem nervous at all. I don’t remember exactly, but she made a joke that suggested that (let’s call him…) Brooks would be the only man to show up and all the women would have to fight over him. “Like the Bachelor,” she joked.I choked out a laugh and made a beeline to the bar to fill out my name tag.
Slowly (and late), others started to arrive. And when I say others, I do mean women. “More men were supposed to come,” Leah promised. Some of them had to cancel for work and others just didn’t show up. The final tally was twelve women and one man. I was a little letdown, but not at all surprised. I had predicted and mentally prepared for this turnout.
The event commenced with Leah giving each person five flashcards that matched the color of our name tags: it was Q and A time. The questions ranged from, What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? to What character in the Bible do you want your partner to be like and why? It was overwhelming. All the women were so focused on not being desperate that we sort of ignored Brooks and instead, got to know one another. Though, at some point, I checked out. The questions were too involved and some people spoke for twenty minutes straight. I ate my shrimp orecchiette in silence, while I faded in and out of the conversation. Although I was proud of how successful and independent this group of women was, I hadn’t known them long enough to care to delve into the intimate details of their wants and desires over lunch. It felt artificial. Forced. But the food was good.
I left just before the event was over because I had booked an early evening flight back to Newark. I gave my sincerest thanks and wished everyone well as I headed out. What should’ve been a disappointment, left me feeling revived. As I galloped down the stairs, I felt my happy, effervescent self returning. The cool air welcomed me as I walked out of the restaurant. The wind whipped my face as I ran across the street eager to seek refuge from the cold. As I approached the other side, I almost bumped into some man. I said sorry and proceeded to my car, but he stopped me. “Excuse me, your shoe is untied.” I bent down to tie it, but he beat me to it. “Let me get that for you.”
“You really don’t have to do that,” I blushed. “I can tie it.” But he insisted, so I stood there while he bent down and tied my shoe. After he finished, he walked away and told me to take care. I was completely taken aback by such a random act of kindness.
Then, it occurred to me. Remember that wink or nudge I told you guys I had been praying for God to give me in Part I? In the simplest, kindest, and most unexpected way, God had answered my prayer in a way he knew I’d understand. On my drive home, I kept hearing in my spirit, That’s how it will be- a beautiful surprise. I was reassured that when the time comes, my delight in what God has planned for me in a partner will far exceed anything I could’ve hoped or created for myself. My soul rested in this undeniable truth.
However naive or close-minded it may seem, I trust God with choosing someone for me. He’s never let me down before, so why start doubting his ability now? The desires of my heart were embedded in me by my creator and I fully believe that in the most impeccable timing, he will bless me with those desires.
So to answer my question: yes, I amdoing this right.
“Are You Putting Yourself Out There?” was almost the title of this post. Mainly because I’m tired of being asked that question. I’ve never understood how to answer it. And with the current dating trends, I’m not sure I want to be part of the putting myself out there gang.
It’s weird, other people seem to be more concerned with my singleness than I am. This wasn’t always true. Up until my early twenties, marriage was my mission. While friends and acquaintances worried over which I said yes photo to share on facebook, I panicked. I was falling behind. They were starting families and I’d never even had a boyfriend. I was beginning to wonder if there wasn’t something wrong with me.
It took time but I eventually moved past the stage of feeling like a defect. The truth is, I don’t mind being by myself. I’m more weary of the prying “why are you single?” questions I can never seem to adequately answer. Unintentionally, others try to convince me that the absence of a man in my life is an indication that something is wrong or that I’m abnormal, but I don’t feel that way anymore. I cherish dearly this opportunity of discovering who I am through my own eyes.
My desire for marriage has never been to fill an internal void. I recognize it as a gift from God meant to be an earthly expression of his unfailing love. A union that serves to magnify our understanding of the depth of that love. It’s not something I’m willing to forfeit for the sake of a warm body and sweet nothings. I’d much rather wait on God to send me someone of value than put myself through the horror that is- very loosely called– dating.
Although I’m pretty stable in my season of waiting, I still have moments when I need reassurance. A nudge or a wink, something to assure me that I’m on the right path. I find myself praying to God, I’m totally cool with waiting, but I just wanna make sure- Am I doing this right?
I had a bout of doubting debbie a few weeks ago. An impromptu girls night at my crashpad in Newark led to the overwrought topic of boys. The evening lasted well into the next morning as the other two girls gushed about their complicated love lives. I was exhausted just listening. One of them had been trying to figure out if she was actually in a relationship with some guy she’d been talking to, while the other spilled about how she’d rejected going back to her guy friend’s place after dinner in the city that night. Then there was me. Single as a dollar bill. No stories of one night stands or swiping left for love. As quickly as I could, I blurted out the riveting details of my love life- “I’ve never had a boyfriend. I’m a virgin. I’m trusting God to find someone for me.”I waited for their reactions.
Initially, they were all, “That’s great, there’s nothing wrong with that!” But as the conversation continued, I talked myself into a box. A close-minded Christian girl who’s just going to stand idly by and wait for God to send her someone. Those words were all but plastered across their foreheads. One of them in particular. She asked me, “Well, do you put yourself out there?” I rolled my eyes in exacerbation. When I told her, “not really” she returned the gesture. “I hate it when people think that trusting God to do something means sitting on your butt and doing nothing!” She was annoyed by my small thinking. I explained my perspective. If I was striving to be a lawyer, I wouldn’t pray to God to make my law degree appear while I sat on the sofa binge-watching Law and Order: SVU. There is a clear process in what must be done to attain a law degree. Relationships are different. Unless I missed it, there’s no certain equation that leads people to lasting love and marriage. I’d much rather let God do the weeding out. In the meantime, my focus is my relationship with God and learning to enjoy that journey.
I hadn’t wanted to admit it, but my roommate had gotten to me. Her words rang in my head for days and I began to question myself. Am I doing this right? Maybe I am too close-minded. Maybe I should try to find out what it means to put myself out there.
So I did.
Although I had no plans, I’d decided to take off from work for New Year’s Eve. For a change, I wanted to celebrate! I browsed the internet for Christian parties or anything remotely wholesome to attend. Nothing. I didn’t want to go to church because I’d gone that morning and I wanted to do something more festive. I didn’t want to watch fireworks downtown by myself because it seemed a bit pathetic- even for me. I opened my meetup app hoping to find some last minute get together. Nothing. Just as I had come to terms with having a quiet New Years Eve, I came across an event: New Years Single Mixer for Christians on January 13th.
Still hung up on girls night, the meetup event seemed fateful. Is this a sign? I bookmarked the event but didn’t register. It was at a nice restaurant and cost $23, which made me feel better. Yet, the idea of a “singles mixers,” made me nervous. I felt awkward and angsty at envisioning what it’d be like. And as if I’m not enough of a girl scout, I felt like I’d be doing something wrong by attending the mixer. I know, I’m ridiculous. But every time I chickened out, my roommate’s words reignited my insecurities. After a few days of teeter-tottering, I finally committed to the event.
I had something to prove. Although to whom, I still can’t be sure. I don’t know if I was more fixated on proving to my roommate or to myself that I don’t live in a box. Either way, for three hours on January 13th, I put myself out there.
To be continued…
Oh and by the way, if you’re wondering how I ended up spending my New Years Eve: I showered and went to sleep.
My attention is being lured by a rowdy leaf blower outside my hotel window. You guys should know by now to expect nothing more than my distracted writing. I should close the window, but the cool air slipping through is the perfect contrast to the 90-degree heat suffocating the room. Plus, it’s just enough noise to make me feel preoccupied.
Today was early. Disrespectfully early. I was out of bed by 2:30 a.m. for a 4 a.m. showtime at Newark. I’m convinced that early mornings need to be illegal: they’re non-functional. Despite my unwillingness to participate, I put on my best fake smile (and a face full of makeup) and headed out. No matter how bad the day may seem, an opportunity to turn it around will always present itself. And to be honest, it hasn’t been a bad day, 4 a.m. is just 4 a.m.
I ended up running into two strangers who made my day worthwhile. There wasn’t anything particularly special about these individuals, I just liked them. One was a female pilot (which is always a treat), but get this: she was pregnant! I don’t know why, but I found it both, intriguing and supremely precious. She’d just entered her third trimester and was positively beaming. She made me proud for many reasons, some I think I’ve yet to understand. Her glow was contagious and being around her made me cheery.
On the same flight, I served a 93-year-old woman at 2B. I’m terrible at guessing peoples age, but for sure she looked to be in her late 70’s. She stood patiently in my galley waiting to use the lavatory. Something in her demeanor told me she had grown use to waiting a long time ago. I busied myself putting away dishes and tidying up from the breakfast service, but the stale, wordless air seemed a bit awkward. Maybe because I’m a talker who wasn’t in the mood to talk. Nonetheless, I didn’t want to appear rude or standoffish. “Are you from Utah?” I inquired in a friendly tone. Of course she was hard of hearing. I repeated myself three times before the conversation took off. Once it did, I was glad I had asked. She has six children, eight grandchildren, and 25 great-grandchildren. I stood in shock. How amazing it must be to stand before three generations of one’s lineage. Her wrinkles turned upward with pride. I caught a glimpse of her eyes and wondered what tales were locked away in their depth. She told me– wait, can I give her a name? She obviously has one, but I didn’t think to look. Let’s call her Rose. Rose told me that she was originally from Utah. Her husband had fought in WWII and she moved to Boston with him right before he left. There, Rose resided with her love for 73 years. She didn’t say so, but I’m assuming her husband has since passed. “My son has been begging me for years to come back to Utah to live with him.” So there she was, headed to Salt Lake City to start a new chapter of her life at the very place it had begun.
The variety of life I’m exposed to is what I love most about my job. A question I was asked during the interview process for this position comes to mind.
“Why do you want to be a Flight Attendant?”
I knew I couldn’t say for the travel benefits, so I made something up. Or so I thought. My response was that a job as a Flight Attendant would provide me the opportunity to step outside of my own world and see life through the eyes of others. I told them that I thought it would make me less selfish and more selfless. Little did I know, that’s exactly what would happen. I’m learning to let go of myself: my ideas of how life should be. Exposure to the countless ways of doing life has inspired me to give myself to God a little more each day. It has taught me that I won’t ever be in full control and that things will not go as planned. And I’ve learned to be okay with that.
I wonder how many disappointments Rose has endured during her 93 years of living. How many times has her heart been broken? How many times she felt like dying? I wonder if she was ever someone like me, looking into the eyes of someone like her. I wonder if Sara, the pilot, dreamed of flying planes when she was a little girl. Did she ever suspect that baby number two would be gently pressed against the steering wheel of a plane hidden and protected perfectly in her mommy’s tummy? I wonder if she planned to be pregnant at 35 years old, or if she saw herself pregnant at all.
So much of life involves the unexpected. People like Sara and Rose remind me that no matter how beautiful or tragic life may seem at times, it is possible. Moreover, that each of our journeys involves discovering just exactly what itis.