You, me and the dog

I heard a pastor once say that the best sermons are the ones that convict the speaker as much as the listener. So this blog post is as much for me as it is for you. Bear with me while I process out loud.

A few years ago, I asked God to remove the temptation away from me to date anyone other than my husband. This wasn’t a ploy to manipulate what I wanted from God or even protect myself from unnecessary heartbreak. This was a desperate attempt to rid myself of some awful sin in my heart that was destroying my relationship with God.

And He responded. I haven’t been asked out since. Oh, but I have pursued many a man. I have prayed over every man I have ever had an interest in. And with every freaking man, I thought God had told me this man was the one. I found signs everywhere I looked that confirmed this prophecy. Each time, my heart grew sick with waiting and analyzing and hoping and honestly, pretending I had given it to God when in reality, I was holding on to my logic and reasoning. Especially because my spiritual gift is prophecy, I was convinced God had told me who I would marry.

God was patient with me, right up until the third time, when in the middle of my obsession God firmly told me, This isn’t your job.  As a woman, it’s not my place to pursue and while I am a firm believer that a woman should make a move if she wants, God doesn’t want that for me. He just doesn’t. I’m a raging control freak and if I didn’t get it under control, I could never honor my husband in submission.

So I started to let go and experienced a lot of freedom. I prayed for my husband and myself. Most recently, I asked God to remove the desire of other people from both of us. I wanted freedom for myself but I also wanted to be safe with my husband. I don’t compete for a man, not anymore. The hardest thing about this prayer is watching my desire for someone I have wanted forever slowly go away. There’s still a part of me that wants that man but each day, it becomes a little less.

I’ve fought with God over this man probably more than anyone else. I’ve asked God why I can’t have my choice. I would choose him a million times over. Shouldn’t that matter? Shouldn’t my choice matter? But God has been very clear with me. The second I asked God to take away the temptation of other men was the moment I relinquished my choice. I surrendered that to God and He honored that sacrifice.

I have fought that and even at times, regretted it. I questioned how God could love me and let me leave the choice with him. But I realized I had already done that with my job.

Two years ago, I had been struggling to find employment. I had applied for job after job, getting close but not getting hired. There were jobs I interviewed for that I thought was my dream job. They were everything I thought I wanted and I grieved not getting those jobs. I got to this place where I asked God to bring the right job into my life. I was done searching, done looking. I clearly didn’t know what God wanted. And He brought the job into my lap. I didn’t even apply for it. I actually remember not wanting to interview for the job. It was in the same line of work I had done before, where I had gotten burned, and I was wary of going back. But I trusted God through this and I got the job. This job has blessed me more than I could have ever imagined and I’m ultimately grateful I left the choice with Him.

It has only been recently that I have begun to see the treasures in letting God take my choice from me. Not everyone would agree with me. Love is a choice and we honor God through that choice. But for me, I would rather choose God a million times over and have Him give me His best rather than be ordinary by either choosing my spouse on my own or by allowing my emotions to dictate how I make decisions about my spouse.

God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him – Jim Elliot

The best advice I could give you is to let go of how you think your life should go and let God direct your path. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Prayer in the darkness

Nobody taught me how to pray and it really wasn’t modeled for me at home. Prayer, for me, was this way of learning God’s heart. I would submit a desire to God and watch how He would either affirm or deny the desires of my heart by changing me from within.

I’ve learned this practice is uncommon among Christians. It is far more common to attempt to pray in a way that pleases God. But God and I have had an uncommon relationship. He is my best friend, no exaggeration, so I have always spoken to Him candidly. My prayers are neither long nor eloquent. I have often felt out of the ordinary in Christian circles because I don’t multiply my words.

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A lot has been on my mind lately. Last year, I watched several visions come true from seven years ago that, when I had these visions years ago, I immediately dismissed as false. Without drawing out specifics, the visions stated that I would marry someone I wasn’t particularly a fan of. Vision after vision came true in a matter of months, leading me to believe that ultimately, I would marry this man. A man I was not a fan of.

Despite my feelings against this man, I continually submitted to God. My gut spoke against this man, this was not a good match for me. I struggled to reconcile how my best friend could expect me to marry someone I didn’t like. But I chose God, so I waited for the fulfillment of the visions. Right up until the day he married someone else.

I was so certain that I had done everything right but as God so tactfully told me earlier this week, I had missed the point.

You can’t marry someone if you never actually choose them.

I had chosen God but I had never chosen the man.

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I learned early on in life to trust my gut. I’m rarely wrong. So when I met him at 19 and liked him right away, I trusted God to make the connection. I wasn’t sure if he liked me back but I distinctly remember his mom whispering to another woman, that woman pointing at me and then his mom calling me by name. When we had never met before. I made the educated guess that he had told his mom about me. He liked me. He had to.

So I waited for him to do something. He never did.

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Recently, I decided to pray that God would give me the man I did want to be with. I prayed every day for this man. I told no one what I was praying for. I was sure no one would understand what I was doing. I knew that God would either affirm or deny my desires and I needed answers. For seven years, I had had feelings for this man that was built on nothing more  than a gut instinct that this was a man worth my time and energy.

For the first time ever, God didn’t affirm or deny my desires. He gave me contentment in Christ, this deep thirst for Him. My desires had changed. I still wanted to be with this man but not as much as Jesus.

It was a miracle.

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Over the last year, I have had several false starts with guys. Honestly, I find myself attracted to men but my gut always says the same thing: this isn’t it. The chemistry fizzles, the flirting fades and I’m left with the eventual conclusion that it didn’t matter anyway.

I know people will argue with me on this but I want to know in my gut that it’s right. When you know, you know.

I may have not chosen the man I had visions about but I’d choose the man I’ve prayed for a million times over.

I just hope one day, he chooses me too.

You have more time

Two years ago, I always felt like I was running out of time.

Like the whole world would fall apart if I didn’t change immediately. I read scripture constantly, prayed continuously, read every Christian self-help book I could get my hands on and went to counseling. And I saw a tremendous amount of healing. But I still wrestled with anger and jealousy, regret and grief. But I kept going. That cadence in my relationship with God would surely change me.

Do I even have to tell you how badly this ended?

I ran, I fought. I was running out of time. Well, if I wasn’t different week-to-week, I must not be a daughter of God. Or at least, I must not be doing enough. I should take more notes in church. Maybe if I worship better, pray more. Serve somewhere. Then surely, God will change me. Because it’s how hard you pursue God that determines how quickly and consistently you change. Not God’s timing. Maybe if I had a boyfriend, finally committed to someone. That would show growth, right? That would show change.

Don’t get angry. Don’t sin. You must obviously not love God deeply enough if you commit the same sin over and over. Everyone knows that.

I don’t think I have to explain how badly I had to fall in order to learn the basic truth of grace. To learn that God determines the rate of change in our hearts. I can’t earn that.

You always have more time to change and grow, because God is the one writing your story. I only started to see real change in my sin when I said no to my efforts and yes to grace. It’s not about being lazy or being complacent. It’s that beautiful, wonderful moment when you acknowledge where you must end in order for God to begin. And turn away from anyone who tries to tell you differently. Don’t add salt to the gospel. It is perfect just the way it is.

Follow the wires

I’ve spent most of my life in the chaotic. I’ve never had a boring or steady year. My life has been plagued with suffering, illness and big leaps into the unknown.

For the first time in my adult life, the dust has settled. The calm has come.

I thought I knew what I wanted. Maybe it was peace. Maybe it was more. I had this dream of planting a church, digging deeper into the bride of Christ. I wanted to be like the famous Christian women I had followed since I first gave my life to Christ.

I’ve applied for more ministry jobs than I care to admit and been just as evenly rejected from them all. I’ve cried deeper and harder over my lost dreams than any rejection I’ve received from a boy.

I’m a career woman to my core.

I thought if you had a dream, particularly a worthy one like planting a church, God was already on board.

Sometimes, you’re wrong.

I started to learn that ministry is what you do with your life, not where you do things. I didn’t need to work within the four walls of a church to be a minister of reconciliation. Or use my gift of prophecy to speak into the lives of others. I didn’t need a job in ministry to advocate for people on the fringe.

I started to ask questions of God that scared me. Questions that rattled against all my dreams, dreams I had carried since I was eight and told my mom I wanted to build a church. I wanted ministry more than I wanted to listen to the call God had placed on my heart.

That call looks a whole lot like diving deeper into the secular world, using my sphere of influence to share the Gospel with people who might not hear it otherwise. Because I’m good at building bridges with people who want nothing to do with the church.

We live in a society that tells us to follow our dreams at whatever the cost. I’m beginning to understand that it’s more important to follow the wires that form you. Be the person you were created to be, even when it comes at odds of what you (think you) want for your life.

I may never plant that church. I’m beginning to see that I may not be wired to do so. But I was created to do something wholly unique for my life, carve a different path than what I anticipated.

And that’s okay.