Thursday, February 13, 2014

Looking for Love In All the Wrong Places

Valentine's Day.  A day for LOVE.  To celebrate that special someone in your life...

Card created by JulieAnnArt on ETSY.

BAH HUMBUG!!!  For many, February 14th is anything but special.  Single Awareness Day is a term I stole from a friend several years ago, and it's a phrase that many know very well.  It's the day that I used to dread.  While the rest of the world was out celebrating their meaningful relationships, I sat at home drowning my sorrows in a pint of gooey chocolate ice cream.  I found a card on Etsy that seems to echo my sentiments.  "Happy Singles Awareness Day.  Have fun watching 'The Notebook' with your cat."  Click here to see this fabulous card in all its glory.

Single Awareness Day was the perfect time for me to sit down each year and make a mental list of all the reasons I was still  single.  Ok, I know what you're thinking.  This is one of those sad blog posts that's going to plunge into the depths of despair in about 30 seconds.  Don't reach for the Ben & Jerry's gets better.

For so many years, I thought the only thing missing in my life was a husband.  There was this void in my heart that I KNEW would be filled as soon as Prince Charming came riding up on his white horse.  What I soon came to realize was that it was a relationship with the Lord that my life was missing.  After becoming a Christian in 2012, my outlook on life changed.  I believed I was still single because God wasn't ready for me to be married.  He needed to do some work in my spiritual life first.  THEN He would send me a husband.

Last summer I read a book that transformed my thoughts about love like no other.  A dear friend let me borrow her copy of A Confident Heart  by Renee Swope.  As Renee painted a picture of God's love for me, I realized that telling myself I needed the love of a husband to complete me was all wrong.  What I really  needed was to fully realize God's love for me.  I know some of you want to shake your head and roll your eyes a little.  But, this is something I had never been told.  I was journeying into uncharted waters with this whole notion of love.  "If you've ever doubted God's personal pursuit of you, let this truth sink in, my friend: wherever you are, He wants to meet you there.  He is waiting for you to stop, come up close, and turn your heart to listen to His.  You'd don't have to pretend things are fine when they aren't.  He knows what is going on in your thoughts.  Nothing could keep Him from wanting to be with you" (p. 37).

Once I understood God's love for me, my next step was to better understand my relationship with the Lord.  "We don't just know about  our God; our God wants us to know  Him.  We were created for that kind of relationship.  He wants us to find lasting soul-security in knowing we are valued and pursued by the One who knows and loves us--the One who created our inmost being and wove us together in our mother's womb (Psalm 139:13).  Have you let the gospel of God's grace move from your head to your heart, so that you know without a doubt you are known intimately and loved completely by God?" (p. 41)  These words prompted me to dive into God's Word and REALLY understand Him.  Daily I prayed for God to help me to learn a little more about Him and to love Him a little more. 

Although I understood God's love for me, something still seemed "off" in my heart.  I was still struggling to figure why I wanted more--even though I didn't know what I wanted more of. Then I read it.  "Until our hearts find complete security and significance in God's unconditional love, we will never be satisfied" (p. 52).  That sounds simple, right?  Well, I couldn't just trust some book to tell me God loves me.  I had to dig into God's Word even more. 

I can honestly tell you I was still a little doubtful.  While my heart
was filled with His love, would God's love be enough to fill every  empty place in my heart?  Or, would that only happen when Prince Charming showed up?  Well, Renee had the same doubts, and reassured me by saying, "You see, God put a longing for unfailing love in our hearts because He knew it would lead us back to Him.  Only God's unfailing love will fill and fulfill the desires of our hearts.  It is the deepest thirst of our souls.  Until God's love is enough, nothing else will be" (p. 55).  Oh.  THAT'S why God didn't send Prince Charming my way.  He knew that longing would lead me to Him.

I figured it was just me--that God needed to change my heart before I was ready for a husband.  But, a few chats with my spiritual mama helped me understand that God wasn't just preparing me for Prince Charming.  He was also preparing Prince Charming's heart at well.  This dear friend also told me I should start praying for my future husband now--not praying that God would bring him my way, but praying for Prince Charming's protection, his health, his integrity, and most importantly, his walk with God.  Wow.

Navigating through A Confident Heart  wasn't easy.  It forced me to peel back the layers I placed around my heart.  Those layers held onto anger, bitterness, and many scars from my past.  Once I learned to get rid of all that junk in my heart, my relationship with the Lord soared to new heights.  I also studied the Bible with my mentor, and the more I learned about God, the more I wanted to KEEP learning about Him.  I had this hunger and thirst that could only be satisfied by reading God's Word and through prayer.  "You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God.  He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat" (Matthew 5:16 MSG).  Yep, that pretty much explains my relationship with the Lord!

I've accepted the fact that I'm almost 34 years old and still single.  God has proven over and over that His timing is perfect, and my faith tells me He'll bring Prince Charming at just the right time.  While the days leading up to February 14th no longer require a vat of chocolate, I still wonder if this is the year I'll meet my future husband.  Yesterday as I was reading my Bible, and ended up in 1 Corinthians 7.  Check this out:

"I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.  But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided." (1 Corinthians 7:32-34)

The Lord definitely got my attention with this.  Then I read the footnotes for these verses.  "Some single people feel tremendous pressure to be married.  They think their lives can be complete only with a spouse.  But Paul underlines one advantage of being single--the potential of a greater focus on Christ and his work.  If you are unmarried, use your special opportunity to serve Christ wholeheartedly."

Don't you just love those moments when the Holy Spirit leads you to exactly the right place in the Bible?  I call those winks and hugs from God.  That was His gentle reminder to me that it's ok for me to be single still because it is His will for me right now. He has work for me to do, and I look forward to discovering how He will use me to build His Kingdom!

My prayer for those of you reading this post is that you too will truly understand how much God loves you.  If you are walking with the Lord but doubt that His love could ever be enough for you, I encourage you to find a mentor, a pastor, or even ask me to help you work through those layers you have around your heart.  If you haven't accepted Christ as your savior, I pray that you will find someone you trust to talk to more about what this means.  I promise it's the most important decision you will ever make, and your life will change for the better!

Want to read a little more?  Click here to read Renee Swope's blog post called "Letting God Fill My Empty Places."  Lysa TerKeurst offers "5 Ways to Survive Love Season" here.  While the author or "Single and Not Waiting" is 10 years younger than me, she speaks truths that are sure to spark a few "AMEN!!!" comments from people.  Click here for that blog post.

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