When Sufficient Isn’t Enough

I will meet you in the longing

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

For the longest time, I have always believe that what Jesus said in this verse is true. His grace is sufficient for me. His death was sufficient for me. His resurrection and promise of eternal life and abundant blessings is sufficient for me. All that He is and all that He will be is sufficient for me to navigate through life. Jesus alone is enough.

Right now, I am in the midst of the Beth Moore Breaking Free bible study, along with some of my amazing women leaders. This is my second time doing this study so I was prepared for a fresh awaking of some new junk that I may have been dealing with. But then, one simple question made me come face to face with a reality I would have much rather had kept hidden.

“Is your soul, your spirit, your own inmost place, the real you entirely satisfied with Christ?”

No, it isn’t.

Life has a way of showing us that despite what the Bible said, despite what we know is true, sometimes, Jesus is not enough. He does not satisfy those areas of our hearts that are deep with longing. Yes, the thought of spending eternity with my Savior can spark an overflow of joy in my spirit. However, the reality of these empty spaces in my heart keep me from living in that overflow.

I never expected the Holy Spirit to remind me that those tender spots that were there before, are still there. Father wounds, the longing for marriage, emotional healing. These were the empty spaces that had yet to be filled by Jesus. I could freely surrender so may other parts of my life to Him with no hesitation. But those areas, I kept for myself, tucked away behind smiles, leadership positions and the excuse of being busy, in Jesus name.

It is hard to admit that I’m in this place where my soul is not entirely satisfied with Jesus. The words almost choked me as I confessed them out loud. I am the master of wearing brave faces so this level of vulnerability screamed to stay hidden. As the words stumbled out and I fought back tears, I knew that a stirring was happening in my heart. I knew that a level of grace was blanketing that moment. I knew that no matter how broken and undeserving I felt, Jesus would not leave me there.

“You will find Me in the longing.”

Words that He spoke to me so many months ago, finally made sense.

As I long to be married, to maybe have more children, to fully grasp the concept of God the Father, to see the beauty in intimacy, I ultimately long to be fully satisfied by and fully surrendered to Jesus. Despite the lies that tell me otherwise, He is enough. He is sufficient. His longing for me runs deeper than any longing I can ever feel for any person or thing on this Earth. My prayer is that I can one day soon say the same for my longing for Christ. I will find Him in the longing.

 

I Thought I Would Be ________ By Now

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Photo Credit: Chris Lui-Beers

So last year, I attempted (and failed) to complete The Single Woman 30 day blog challenge. I actually do plan to finish it, but at my own pace.  I honestly can’t see myself writing only about being single for a whole month. There are so many more dimensions to my life than my relationship status. :-)

I’m picking up at Day 7: Where You Are in Your Life vs. Where You Thought You Would Be. This topic resonates so much with me because the life that I had envisioned and my life now and not even close to the same.

If at 16, you had asked me where I saw my life 32, I would probably sound something like this:

I would have a fabulous career as a journalist/author who travels the world covering the most interesting news stories. I would have written a couple of books, published in a couple of magazines, maybe a couple of awards under my belt. I would have amazing jet setting friends who I vacationed with every year. Somewhere in the midst of my exciting career, I would have a handsome boyfriend to come home to and maybe a dog.

Boyfriend. Not husband. I don’t do long-term commitments. Kids? I am #3 of 5 siblings. I can do without kids for a while.

At 32, I can guarantee you my life is nowhere near as fabulous as I thought it would be at 16. My imagination then had the sky as the limits, yet as life began to happen, an invisible cap started to make it harder to reach the sky.

I do not have the fabulous journalist career. Vacations? What’s that? Published author? Does the occasional blog count? Jet setting friends and handsome boyfriend?

You get the picture.

For a long time, I looked at my life and where I thought it was supposed to be and I felt like the sun had gone down on a lot of those dreams. My mapped out plan never really took flight because by 17, I was  teenage mother so my decisions going forward were drastically altered. Even though I am not where I thought I would be at 32, I am right where I need to be. It is right where God planned it to be. Though I took many personal detours, I am right where I need to be, healed, loved and firmly rooted in my Savior. I let the sun set on my dreams because of circumstance but God did not. He just has them packaged differently. His plans for me FAR exceed any 5 or 10 year plan I had mapped out for myself.

Though certain aspects of my life haven’t fallen into place like getting married and having a couple of books written, I love that I trust in God enough to know that those things will happen. When? Who knows. He doesn’t give me a glimpse of His time-table. So instead of me fixating on where I thought I would be by a certain time, I am enjoying the place where I am standing now.

My Inner Circle

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One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

-Luke 5:17-20 NIV

A few months ago, I was reading through the book of Luke and I came across the story of the paralyzed man whom Jesus healed. I am pretty sure I have read that passage dozens of times but this time, this story took a different turn for me and I have not been the same since.

The friends of the paralyzed man were desperate for him to be healed by Jesus. They truly believed that Jesus possessed the power to heal so they ventured to where Jesus was, carrying their dear friend on a mat the whole way. Despite the crowd of people who were there waiting to see Jesus, they refused to leave without having their chance to encounter the living Savior. They cut a hole through the roof and lowered their paralyzed friend down through the middle of the crowd, right to the feet of Jesus.

Jesus saw the faith of the paralyzed man’s faithful friends. He saw their desperation for a supernatural encounter with their Savior. He saw their willingness to seek Him in faith for help. He saw their determination to press through the crowd in order to place their ailing friend in front of the One who heals, the One who saves, the One who redeems. Jesus saw the lengths that these friends were willing to go through in order for the paralyzed man to be healed and He indeed healed the man.

I sat back in awe at the words coming alive on the page and the fresh perspective to this age old story. I had never thought about it from the perspective of the friends that brought the man to Jesus.  I had always viewed the story through the lens of yet another miracle Jesus performed. However, Jesus saw the friends and their faithfulness and healed the paralyzed man. The Holy Spirit decided to go one step further by asking me, “Who will lower you through the roof and sit you at the feet of Jesus when you are in need?”

Good question.

Since then, that passage and it’s message has been weighing heavy on me. I’ve taken a closer look at the people I call friend and realize I have been so careless with that term. Proverbs 18:24 says that a friend sticks closer to you than a brother, yet I know what when trouble strikes, there will be certain people who I call “friend” that I wouldn’t be able to trust would see me through. There are  some people who I know will not be willing to be inconvenienced for me if I am in need. I know there are some people who I would not be able to rely on to bring me back to the feet of Jesus should my faith get shaky. Yet, there are others who are there in a moments notice, no questions asked.

In hindsight, God was preparing my heart for the challenge of this new season I have been ushered into. I distinctly remember this whisper in my spirit as I read that passage that said, “Who is going to go with you during this new season in life. Who will you leave behind because they are standing still?”  He was well aware that there would be some who need to come along for the journey for support and encouragement and there are those who do not. I have long realized that everyone is not going to buy into the vision I have for my life. No matter how much I want everyone to be there to witness the crazy, miraculous things happening, everyone is not meant to be apart of what God is doing in my life.  It has been a tough pill to swallow, but it has been refreshing to see those who are meant to be in my close circle, still there cheering me on and pushing me closer to Christ.

In the Bible, Jesus had His 12 disciples but He allowed Peter, James, and John, His inner circle, to be with Him during poignant moments of His life. I am thankful for the people that Jesus has strategically placed in my life to be my community, to walk along side and to weather the storms of life with. Few things bring me more joy than to be in the company of people who truly love Jesus with their whole hearts and pursue Him passionately. I am thankful for my inner circle.

Chaotic Praise

dancing-in-the-rain-tumblrI must be honest. Over the last couple of months, my life can be summed up in one word: chaotic. Somewhere around the holidays, life just started moving in all different directions and it became kinda hard to stay focused and motivated. It has taken me a while to settle into this new rhythm of life and I feel like I am finally able to catch my breath…if only for a second.

With more responsibility added to my plate, more meetings in my planner, more parent teacher conferences for my boys, more people vying for my attention, I got lost in the chaos. My voice got quieter, my thoughts got a little more reserved.

Adding to the already overflowing plate, this winter has been one for the record books. Two winter storms that crippled my city confining me to house for almost two weeks, repeated car issues, parenting stress, strained friendships, that ever present reminder of my single status and zero motivation to write.  Instead of constantly living out of the overflow of love and joy that Christ brings, I have been living in survival mode. I’ve been barely keeping my head above water, hoping that the next wave doesn’t do me in.

As I drove to pick up my son from a weekend with his dad yesterday, I rode in silence and soaked in the first bit of warm, sunny weather I had seen in weeks. I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular yet I begin to feel a stirring in my heart. I felt  the desire to worship, for no reason at all except because God was worthy of what little praise I could muster. I was thankful for my few minutes of worship because I was later forced to deal with an uncomfortable and unexpected issue shortly there after. That issue could have rocked me to my core had my Lord not tendered my heart in those few minutes.

The storms and battles of life are inevitable. Chaos happens, rhythms get off beat, heartbreak happen, children stray from the path me lay before them, faith get shaky, emotions collide, prayers go unanswered. It’s so easy to get distracted by all the noise around us even though God wants us to quiet our hearts and minds before Him.

Despite it all, even if my heart doesn’t feel like it is in it, I will praise God in the chaos. I will still serve Him faithfully.  I will hold onto His promise to see me through the valleys. I will dance in the darkness and into His marvelous light. I will hold my arms outstretched even if I can’t feel His embrace. I will sing His praises and shout of His glory even if my voice shakes. Even when we are far from Him, He is never far from us. Even when we can’t hear Him, He hears every prayer we speak out loud

I Threw Away My Christmas Tree

ornament For as long as I can remember, I have not been a fan of the holiday season. For me, this is kinda strange because I loved Christmas time as a kid. I loved the lights, the gawdy yard decorations, the food and especially my family. Yet for some strange reason, my move to Georgia about 13 years ago sullied my love for the holidays.

I could never put my finger on what is was that kept me from fully enjoying all that came with the holidays. I was far from being a Grinch but I didn’t see myself enjoying it as much as other people did. Every year, I put up the tree, the kids and I would watch all the Christmas movies and cartoons we could find, and drive through neighborhoods to see all the lights. Even though the kids loved all the festivities, I just could not get my Christmas spirit up.

Until last year.

Why?

Because I threw away my beautiful Christmas tree and decorations.

Every year, I put my Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving (respect the turkey, people). A few days before D-Day (decoration day) I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea that I needed to throw away my Christmas tree. You see, the very Christmas tree I put every year was given to me YEARS ago by an ex boyfriend’s mom. Even the decorations I put up every year had been given to me by her. Now for a broke single mom, not having to go out and buy a tree and decorations was GREAT so I gladly accepted the beautiful artificial tree and decor.

It was right then in the middle of the night that I realized that every year since I started putting up that tree, I have not enjoyed the Christmas season. Don’t get me wrong, there have been so many beautiful memories made over the years. Yet, it was something about that having that tree in my house that just seemed to hinder my heart from being full of joy. I am far from pining over the end of that relationship but perhaps it was just the fact that the tree was a fixture from a period of my life when I was so far from God. I don’t hold on to mementos from old relationships but it didn’t dawn on me that this huge tree that I decorated every year was in deed a token from a chapter in my life that has ended.

The very next day, I bought new tree and all new decorations and put what was old on the curb. I had more joy decorating my little tree than I ever did laboring over the huge tree that was given to me. This year, I had to contain myself from putting my tree up in on November 1 because I am genuinely excited about this season. As off kilter as it sounds, I believe it was God who spoke to me late one night last year and instructed me to throw away my tree. Perhaps, He knew that in order for me to love this season again, I needed to get rid of somethings. I needed to make sure that my life was not being cluttered with the past so that there is ample room for what He has to bring in the future.  I am well aware that the Christmas season is not about trees, presents or decorations. It’s about celebrating the birth of my beloved Savior. Yet, I do believe that God cares about the little details in our lives and loves to see our hearts full of happiness and joy.  He adores me enough to long for me to recapture this small part of my life that once brought me such joy. My happiness ravishes His heart as it should any doting father. That’s the kind of relationship He and I have and I am thankful that He care enough about the little things like me falling in love with Christmas again.

Even if it meant throwing away a Christmas tree.

Day 5: The Biggest Misconception You Think People Have About Single Life

Day-5**Disclaimer** Thanks to an almost 3 week network outage that left me with no Internet and just a busy schedule, I wasn’t able to post the daily blog challenge. Here’s to playing catch up!

One of the biggest misconceptions that I have personally found that people have when it comes to MY single life is that maybe I really don’t want to get married because I don’t act like it or talk about it often.  I’ve had plenty of people ask if I even want to get married because it’s hard to figure our where a guy would fit into my busy life. I’m not into online dating nor am I remotely interested in just “happening” to be in the presence of a crowd of men, hoping to be found.

A conversation with a friend yesterday left me wondering if perhaps I don’t talk or pray enough about marriage . Whenever people talk with me about relationships or marriage, my first reaction usually isn’t “aww tell me every detail of your love story.” It’s usually something like, “so what has God called you both to do?” It’s not the reaction that most people expect when telling me about the love of their life (or moment depending on who I am talking with). Sorry, but sugary details of romantic gestures don’t get me as excited as much as hearing how God has united two Jesus loving, purpose driven people that will advance the Kingdom of Heaven. Don’t get me wrong, I love romance and sweet stories as much as the next girl, but I have come to realize that relationships and marriages are much more than that.

Despite the misconceptions due to my lack of constant worrying or obsessing about becoming a wife, the desire is very much there. I have days where I wonder if God has forgotten about me, if I should change my appearance, or if I should be praying without ceasing and fasting about it.  Yet, those days are few and far between. My days are consumed with thoughts of ways to be more like Jesus and a better parent, how I can serve others and make disciples, how I can continue to do my part rescuing sex trafficking victims and encouraging women to love themselves as much as God does, how I can write in a way that draws people closer to Jesus while leaving a legacy for the next generation. For me, marriage has never been my end all be all. I will not have arrived at my destination when I say I do nor will that mark the end of the radical, God sized vision for my life. Obsessing and worrying about the who, when and how is not going to take one day off of God’s time table of me being single.

I’m content in knowing that not having my wedding already planned on a Pintrest board doesn’t make we want that perfect day any less. I’m content in knowing that God would much rather my heart break for those who don’t know Him than my single status. I’m content in knowing that God may intend for me to meet my future husband while rescuing trafficking victims in Thailand than at a church singles function. I’m content in knowing that if I never get married knowing that I loved as many people as I could into Heaven and gave my all to God until my last days will absolutely be worth it.

Day 4-My Biggest Fear As A Single Person

Day-4 Trying to figure out my biggest fear when it comes to being single is kind of a challenge. For the most part, I do my best to not let fear creep in because I can go from calm to drama queen in about 5 seconds. I can honestly say I enjoy my life. Sure there are areas that I wish I could change but I am grateful for the life that God has blessed me with. Just a moment ago, it seriously hit me that I have entered a season of life where God has literally placed me in a position to do the very thing that He has called me to do with my life! Who has time to worry about being single when I am literally walking the path that God ordained for me!?

Despite it all, I have to be honest with myself because I know that deep down, I sometimes question whether or not this level of contentment is all that realistic. I hear other people lament about being single and most days, I can’t relate to the woe is me feelings. The desire for marriage is there, but the constant thought and worry about it isn’t. That’s how is should be right? Yet, just a few days ago, I started to wonder if I should be lamenting a bit more about being single, praying about bit more for God to bring me a husband or put myself out there more like other women do. If I talk about how content I am with being single, maybe God will think that I really don’t desire it as much as the next woman…and leave me right where I am.  Content and single.

I never thought I would be fearful that God would one day decide that since I am enjoying where I am so much, He should probably leave me here. Faithfully serving and not complaining. I have to check myself when my mind starts wandering and coming up with worse case scenarios. Fear but a by-product of not trusting God. He has yet to fail me so why I entertain the idea of Him falling short of this particular promise is beyond me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been told it’s past time for me to have been married. People around me are shifting their prayers from “God use me to accomplish great things for the Kingdom” to “bring me my soul mate.” I don’t want to be that girl who idolizes getting married over serving God.  I guess it all boils down to finding and keeping that healthy balance between desires for marriage and desperation for God.

Day 3-When Being Single Is Awesome

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As much as I desire to be married, I know that there are lots of advantages to being single. I’m a slight control freak so as of now, I don’t have check in with someone else about what I want to do. I don’t have to “answer” to anyone and I am free to pretty much come and go as I please. Even though I am a mom, I still have my freedom to make decisions that work best for us without a second opinion. 

I am free to live my life to the fullest! I can go on missions trips, take vacations, change careers, move to another city or country, buy a house and serve God endlessly. I do not believe that I have to wait until I get married to do all the things that God has called me to do.  I have fewer restrictions to make those things happen without a husband to consider.

I think one of the best advantages of being single that God has been showing me is that I get to learn from the successes and failures of others NOW. I have the honor of knowing many married couples and just having the opportunity to talk with and observe these couples has shed light on a lot of the inner workings of marriage. Had I followed my own time line in life, I would be married right now (if not already divorced) and miserable beyond belief. Back then, I didn’t know of any happily married couples and would have entered into a marriage with truck loads of baggage in tow and no foundation to stand on.

What I have learned most is that marriage is HARD WORK. Yes, there are many beautiful days and memories created but it is still hard work. I get the opportunity to talk with my married girlfriends and learn about honoring a husband, submission, compromise, dying to myself, respect, building a legacy, parenting, serving God together and a host of other things. I am lucky enough to be able to get some wisdom on the front end instead of trying to figure it all out later. I am learning what areas I refuse to compromise in when it comes to the type of husband and marriage I want just by observing some of the marriages I see around me. Though no one is perfect and everyone is capable of changing if they want to, I do know that there are some foundational must-haves that I will not sacrifice for the sake of getting married like many people I know have. It saddens me to know that I know so many married couples who got married for all the wrong reasons, ignoring the red flags and are now regretting the decision.

As the days pass, I make the choice to see this single season as a season of wisdom and growth. Instead of complaining about not having a husband, I choose to use every opportunity I can to learning how to be a good wife, even before marriage. Marriage is a life long covenant, not a contract, and it is much more than a wedding day and sex.  A marriage rooted in Jesus Christ is what I desire and have been called to. I will enjoy this full life I have been blessed with and will keep being trained up to be a wife, a good thing, worth finding.

Day 2-When Being Single Sucks

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I am pretty sure I can recall PLENTY of days when being single sucked.

  • Being a third wheel when hanging out with couples/married friends.
  • When I want to go out and all my friends are busy.
  • When I have had a stressful day and no one is there to vent to.
  • When I get invited to weddings. (LOVE weddings but it does kinda suck when your single)

Nothing reminds me more of my single status than when I have car trouble. I cannot change a flat tire and my check engine light coming on WILL cause a panic attack. That light coming on may be something as simple as a loose gas cap but in my mind, it means my car is about to erupt into flames any minute now. And when it does, who will save me?

As dramatic as I sound, I have been pretty lucky with cars. I have never had any major issues with any car I have had. I have also always dated guys who knew a thing or two about cars. Now that I have been single for a few years, that sense of security isn’t there. If I wake up one morning and my car won’t start, there is no one there to pop the hood and fix it themselves. There is no one there to make sure the mechanic doesn’t rip me off. If my car doesn’t start, I’m on my own.

Being single isn’t a horrible thing but it does tend to highlight some mundane worries. I am more than capable of figuring out minor issues and I have road side rescue for the rest. However sometimes, it’s just nice to know that in a moment of distress, there is that one person that I can call who will come to my rescue.

#TheSW30 Blogging Challenge: Day 1-Why Are You Still Single?

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It’s been about a month since my last blog post. As I transitioned from my summer of purification (whew), I decided to take some time and relax my roller coaster of emotions. Having God turn the spot light on some areas of my heart was a sobering experience. I am grateful for lessons learned and they have left me plenty of issues to surrender to Him because clearly I suck at DIY work.

One of the areas that God brought to the forefront was my single status…sigh. I am not that girl who sits around wondering when my knight in shining armour will come riding down the cul-de-sac. I have settled into the idea that when he and I are supposed to meet, we will.  So until that happens, I do my best to not to put my desire for marriage before my desire to please God. That doesn’t take away from the simple fact that it’s not easy being single in a world where it seems like everyone else is either in a relationship or married. I’ve learned that if I am seeking Christ and His Kingdom above all else, I don’t have time to sit and wallow in loneliness and anxiety about marriage. God corrected me over the summer and reminded that it is okay to feel, to be human and long for a husband and life long covenant of marriage. He just doesn’t want me camping out in the longing. It’s a desire He placed there (because I certainly didn’t) so it’s not something that I should cover up with my never-ending to do list.

So in God’s humorous way of helping me to face what I try to avoid thinking about (and at the suggestions of my dear friend Ginger), I have decided to stare “single” in the face for the next 30 days. I’m accepting the 30 day blog challenge presented by one of my new favorite blogger/author The Single Woman and spend some time getting real and honest about what it’s like to be single.

Pray for me. Here I go.

Day 1:  Why Are You Still Single?

This is probably the question every single woman dreads to hear. It’s not like we don’t take inventory of the things that we could probably be doing in order to shorten the span between today and “I Do.” My standard answer for why I am still single has evolved over the years.

  • If you asked me this question about 4  years ago, my answer would have been: “Because I am taking a break from dating because I’ve never known what it’s like to not be someone’s girlfriend. I need to learn how to crave God more than I crave a man.”
  • If you asked me this question about 2 years ago, my answer would have been: “I am too busy focusing on living for Christ to even think about a relationship. Where would a man fit among work, kids, friends, family, missions trips, and ministry?”

Around this time, my answers stopped being so honest and out of an overflow of this love relationship with Christ. I figured if I loved Jesus, served faithfully and patched up my wounds, my prize would be in the shape of an engagement ring and an amazing man of God to present it to me. Fear, doubt and insecurity about whether I would ever get married started to take up residence where truth once lived.

  • If you asked me this question about a year ago, my honest answer that I probably wouldn’t share would have been: “I don’t know. Maybe the whole single mom thing isn’t all that appealing to good men. Maybe I’m not pretty enough or accomplished enough to get married. Maybe if I fix those things, then maybe it will happen for me.”

I started to believe the lie that there was something wrong with me. I was starting to believe that maybe I wasn’t deserving of marriage; that my list of sins and transgressions was far to numerous for God to forgive. I was in my 30s with no prospects on the horizon so surely I was doing something wrong. I began to fixate on fixing me so that I could stand along side all of the other beautiful, put together people fit for marriage.

Luckily, I God didn’t allow me to stay in that season of doubt and fear for long. He confirmed many times over that I am more than worthy of what He has already promised. His timing is far superior than mine and He will not allow me to be single one day longer than He has planned. He doesn’t want me to love or desire anything more than Him and for that I appreciate how He nurtures and cares for my heart in a way that no man ever could. He is still working out some kinks in me so that I don’t place that burden on my future husband. As I wait on the appointed season for that phase of my life to begin, I am truly loving how God is using me to accomplish things for His Kingdom I would have never dreamed.

If you ask me ‘why are you still single’ today, my answer would be: “Because God has not brought my future husband and I together yet. Simple as that. I am not rushing Him or questioning His plans because I am truly grateful for the life I have in this moment. I do get lonely and anxious but I know that being single is not the end of the world, nor is being married the beginning of my life. I’ve been in enough relationships to know that settling for the sake of being 1/2 of a couple just isn’t worth it. God is the creator of the universe so surely He can handle the simple task of joining me with who He knows is His best for me.”