Not Unredeemed

… living the beautiful tension between what is, and what will be …


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What’s Wrong with Me?

“Sarah will get married before you”.

What? I looked my grandfather in confusion. Sarah was 4.5-5 years my Jr. Surely, as the older sister I would get married first!

If I could call up Heaven and talked to Grandpa, I would love to ask him what he saw, or knew, that caused him to make that statement ten years ago. He was right you know although He didn’t live to see it. My younger sister Sarah gets married next week and I’ll be standing up with her as her maid of honor. Sarah is number four in the line of my twelve siblings. Six weeks after Sarah’s wedding, my brother Joel gets married. He’s number six in the line up, and goodness – I even changed his diapers!

As I contemplate how I pictured life being, it’s easy to start questioning a lot of things. As friend after friend, and sibling after sibling gets married, it’s hard not to wonder – why not me?

What’s wrong with me?

Is there something they have that I don’t?

Am I not good enough?

Am I too picky? Not picky enough?

Not thin enough?

Is it the way I look or dress?

I’m terrible at flirting, is that it?

I’m too much……

Not enough……

Maybe I smell!?

Friends, I can’t tell you whether or not something is wrong with you, but I can identify with the questions, fears and insecurities that singleness can bring. You are not alone in asking them. Two observations I’ve noticed reguarding this genre of questioning in our singleness:

  1. The questions denote a subtle worldview/perspective that marriage is something that is earned, or that we can be worthy of.
  2. There is an underlying fear that we have been or will be found lacking in someway.

Marriage is a gift from the Lord – like His other blessings. It’s not something we earn. Because of the way Christian culture promotes marriage it’s easy to buy into the idea that God owes us marriage. (I’m a huge fan of marriage don’t get me wrong.) But we just need to understand that He doesn’t owe us anything. He gives us His love – FREELY. We don’t deserve His love Ring Marksand yet He gives it to us, that’s the blessing and gift of grace. Undeserving people get married everyday. Deserving or worthiness has nothing to do with whether or not a ring marks our finger.

We will never be ready for marriage or worthy of it, but we can be more prepared*. And that leads us to the second observation – fear that we are lacking. If I told you that you were not lacking, would you believe me? Most likely not.

Why? Because in one way or another most of us are lacking in some areas, and we know it.We are redeemed saints learning to walk in Christ, but learning to walk means we stumble and fall at times and struggle until our muscles strengthen.The best way to deal with the fear of that we are lacking is to simply face it head on. Fear looses its power over us when we bring it into the light and pick it apart with truth. Force your fear to be specific so it’s small enough for you to address it. Addressing it with the Lord is the only way to go through it. We need His healing balm to heal the wound fear leaves.

For example I can fear that I am too much. Making it more specific, I often struggle with fearing that I am too intense, too passionate and too opinionated.These fears were addressed by asking a close friend to speak into my life and give me feedback on them and how I interacted with people. I also brought them before the Lord.

The Lord moves by either removing the fear and confirming to you have nothing to fear, or He will agree with you that there is a problem and address the heart issue behind it. In my experience the Lord usually does both. In the example above He confirmed to me that He made me passionate and to feel deeply the fiercely about things the way He does. In some areas, He asked me to be even more bold! (Imagine that – well really, if He hadn’t you wouldn’t be reading this series. I can assure you of that!) On  the other hand, the Lord refines what He creates. He molds the created clay. With that my passion should never be used by sinful or judgmental motivation.

*Wrapping it up with a note of caution:  In facing areas we do need to change in, desire to change and grow for the Lord’s glory, not just so that you have a better shot at getting married. He is worthy – let us worship Him and not His gifts.

Friend, the Lord is Sovereign and people choose. I do not know wherein the two entwine, but I do know this: the Lord loves you and is writing your unique story. I can’t compare my story to my sister’s for the Lord is writing two different scripts. We are both equally loved by Him.

Today's the Day: Being Single and Fully Alive “What’s Wrong with Me?” is a part of the “Today’s The Day: Being Single and Fully Alive” a 31 Days Series. To read more from this series please click here.

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A Different Kind of List

Yesterday I asked the question “If you lived as a single, with the same intentionality that you plan to live as a married person, how would you live differently?”  I’ve been encouraged many times to make a list of qualities I would want in a future spouse, but today its time to make a different kind of list. A list of what we would and could do differently to live fully alive today as a single person. (Or a married one!) Contentment and joy do not come with a specific season of life, they come with a specific choice of the heart to trust the One who is Always enough

always enough

always sufficient

always loving

always trustworthy

always faithful (even when we are not)

always gives good things (right now)

My journey to living my list began with several mental decisions, heart shifts, and counseling. It was messy. Painful. Hard. But beautiful. They resulted (are resulting!) in much more freedom, fulfillment and joy than I would have imagined.

As promised here is my list. The ways I started to live differently, and the ways I want to.

As you read this,my prayer is for you to be encouraged, but this isn’t a magic list for you. This is what the Lord led me to do. The Lord will prompt YOUR heart in the areas He wants love and free you in.

A different kind of list

1.Stop waiting for my life to be different and choose to make it different.

2. Stop waiting for a husband to do things I’ve always wanted to do like travel, shoot guns, cook gourmet foods (you are allowed to enjoy the food you cook for yourself. It’s not a sin I promise!)

3. Plan weddings. I may not get to plan my own, but man do I get to have fun as a wedding coordinator planning other people’s. I used to believe it was cruel irony that I was becoming a wedding planner and planning everyone else’s weddings but my own. Then the Lord whispered, He was giving me these opportunities not as a cruel joke, or a dangling carrot but because I loved to plan! He was blessing me with joy of planning not just one wedding as most people do, but with many.

4. Choose beauty. Even over practicality and what others think – like pale pink skinny jeans in a redneck town. Oh well I never really fit in anyway!

5. Take a dance class.

6. Pursue a lay counseling certificate

7. Clean out my Hope  Chest. This was a tough one, when I did it.  I wept not just because of deferred hope, but because I had waited to start living in so many ways. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great thing to save beautiful dishes till you get married. But my house is full of people now. Today. People I love and want to bless, and serve food to on beautiful dishes.

8. Stop living for the approval of others and the Lord. I’m already chosen and approved by Him.

9. Learn to have more fun. I can be much too serious at times.

For me, my list to live differently has been a process of letting go of what might be, to embrace what is. Ladies, Gents, a significant other does not bring beauty and joy into our lives, they add to what is already there. In direct answer to my own question: “If you lived as a single, with the same intentionality that you plan to live as a married person, how would you live differently?” My answer is: To stop waiting for a man. (That’s scary to say out loud!)

Because even more than I desire a family and a husband, I desire to live the life the Lord has blessed me with. To live it with gusto, to look at what He has created in me and for me, and agree with Him when He calls it good.

So what would be some of the things on your list to live fully today? I’d love to hear your ideas. And seriously, please share them! I want to learn from you 🙂

Today's the Day: Being Single and Fully Alive

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“A Different Kind of List” is a part of Today’s the Day: Being Single and Fully Alive, a 31 Days series. For more posts in this series please click here.


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Replaced

“The worst part is that I guess I just feel replaced…”

Replaced. Hmmmm. I zoned in as she continued “but I guess, man if I feel this way, you must feel so much worse, right?”

I had to think about that one for a minute before replying. We were chatting about some people close to us who had recently gotten engaged and then kind of fell off the planet if you know what I mean? They become  M.I.A. (missing in action) or in their own little world – I often quote the old Bambi movie and call this stage “Twitterpated” when I see it. (See the cute video below – email readers, try this link)


Ruth, this blog post is for you, as we arrived at our destination tonight before I could reply (and thanks for giving me a topic for today!). I can definitely relate to feeling replaced in close friendships! I don’t know that I feel worse than you do though. Yes, I’ve been ‘replaced’ many more times, but I also think that I learned a few skills which have helped me process it, so it’s actually gotten easier, and not harder for me. So don’t despair!

When your close friends or siblings start dating or get engaged and you are suddenly pushed out into a less central place in their heart and lives, here are a few tips that have helped me over the years (and that I still have to practice on a regular basis!)

 Emotions:

  • Have a good cry. Yes, this helps! In many ways you have been replaced and it’s ok to grieve your loss, even if you are happy for the other person’s gain.
  • Recognize that you can feel two emotions at once – joy for them, and pain for you. Know that it’s a good thing that your spot in their lives has been ‘replaced’. If they are getting married and you still held the closest spot in their heart next to the Lord, than it would be a very bad thing.
  • While your spot and role in their life was replaced, You as a person have not been replaced. They still need you, and you need them. How you interact in each other’s lives is just going to look different from now on.

 Choices:

  • A really important question to ask yourself is:“Is this relationship important enough to me to wait for them?” You have a choice, to close up and move on, or to stay and wait around till their core relationship is formed with their spouse or future spouse. I never yet had a couple NOT reappear after a few months or a few years (the time span varies on their personalities) needing friendship and support from their friends and family.     two way street                                                            Couples need bonding time. As a friend, one of the greatest gifts you can give them is this time to establish who they are as couple. It will be painful to you, and a big adjustment, but if the friendship and investment is worth the wait to you, the friendship on the other side will be all the sweeter and stronger for it. Love is a two way street, but it’s also the sacrifice of a one lane road while the other lane is under construction.
  • You also have the choice to talk to the friend in the relationship and express your needs in the friendship. This can be very tricky to do without coming across as needy or making the friend in the relationship feel guilty. While it can be helpful sometimes, I would approach it with caution and love.
  • Choose to include the person you are feeling replaced by. This can be a tough one, but looking into the future, if you want to continue a friendship with your friend, get to know the person they are in the relationship with. If you have had a close friendship for many years, the new person entering into the relationship with your friend could easily feel threatened. You have the opportunity to bless this couple by becoming friends with both of them. The dividends of this investment will be more than you can comprehend.

It’s so easy to become offended and upset when we feel we have been replaced! It’s ok to grieve the loss, but it’s not ok to let it destroy your relationship with your friend. (Please note the other person always has a choice too – but we are responsible for 31 DAYS OF Being Single our own choices and how we respond to them).

How do you think 1 Corinthians 13 applies when we have been replaced in a friendship? (Please read it slowly).

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

“Replaced” is a part of the “Today’s The Day: Being Single and Fully Alive” a 31 Days Series. To read the pervious post please click here.


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Today is the Day: Being Single and Fully Alive

I have a confession to make. I HATE writing about singleness! Than, why, might you ask, would I commit to writing for 31 Days about singleness? While I would love to answer you with a simple “because I’m crazy”, the real reason I’m joining the Nester’s blogging challenge to write for 31 Days through October, is because I’m choosing to live fully alive in the now. Singleness happens to describe a portion of my ‘now’.  I also realized recently that I would regret not writing about singleness when I was smack dab in the middle of it. We all make mistakes, but regrets are optional. By His grace, singleness will not be one of my regrets.

Posts in this series: (Please scroll down to continue to read more about the reason I’m writing these).

1. Today is the Day: Being Single and Fully Alive                      16. Truth is Truth 

2. Replaced                                                                                     17. Catch Up Day 

3. You’re Not Sick – You’re Single                                                18. Wedding Pictures

5. Single Vision                                                                              19.Nancy Reagan and Preparing for a Relationship

4. Gee, You are Strong For a Lady!                                              20. When You Say ‘I Do’ – You Get Me Too

6. A Different Kind of List                                                              21. Love Formulas     

7. Fully Alive {Explained}                                                              22. 7 Tips for Weddings

9. What’s Wrong with Me?                                                            23. Singleness and the Gospel                

10. Prioritize Grace                                                                        24.Teamwork 

11. Alive and Fully Engaged: Facing the Trials of Marriage from the Limbo of Engagement   25.What I love about Being Single

12. Changes                                                                                    26.Word Snacks and She Reads Truth 

 13. Why I Plan Bachelorette Parties                                           27. Single – Not Alone 

 14. 3 Books on Life that Every Single Should Read                28. Marriage – Not the Ultimate Purpose of Relationships 

15. Awkward                                                                                     29. 3 Foundational Books Every Single Should Read                           30 Invite Encourage, and Your Words.                                       31.Singleness and the Church

Last week as I took a rambling walk around my childhood home, I contemplated the unexpected turns my life has taken and one of them was still being single into my late 20’s. Growing up I assumed I would marry young, maybe even married shortly after high school like a lot of my friends. In the conservative circles, it’s what you were raised to do – get married and have a godly family. Although my life is not what I expected it to be, it’s pretty wonderful.

I’m also a stinker for asking myself tough questions. “Katie, although singleness is not as bad as you imagined it to be, are you living it in a way that you will have no regrets for how you spent your single years?” And it was in that moment ladies and gentleman that this series was born. My one regret would be not writing about singleness when I was in the middle of it.

31 DAYS OF Being Single I’m in the middle of it – the joy, the tears, the longing, the contentment. The peaks and valleys are the sound waves that produce the beautiful rhythms and music of life. We may not get to pick the notes, but we do get to choose how the tune is played.

Through my teenage years and early twenties, I didn’t see very good examples of what singleness could be. What I saw made me pray that the Lord would never let me become what I then deemed as an ‘old maid’. I hate writing about singleness because although it describes the season I’m in, it does not define me. In my perception it defined the singles I knew.

Singleness is a tough topic to write about as it’s easier  to address one extreme of the other – either the longing and the loneliness or to paint it as ‘all joy’. The reality is, singleness (as is the rest of life) contains both. My hope with this series is to show a more complete picture and example of what life lived being single and fully alive can look like. While some days there might be didactic teaching (this is me after all ☺), and thoughts on singleness, more often than not each day will be an open journal of a normal day in my life. Tears and laughter, travel and ministry come what may; I want authenticity to be the flavor of the day.

So friends will you join me on this journey? I’m writing this for me, but in a bigger way it’s for you. The reason I would regret not writing about singleness while I was still single is because I want my life to be an encouraging example to anyone who is observing. I don’t have this figured out, but I do know there is so much to be found in the process.

If you are single, I pray this is an encouragement to you and I welcome your feedback!

Married friends, please consider sending this series to a single friend? And I invite you to stick around for the series as well. One thing I’m learning is that life is life, the applications are often different, but the truths are the same. Married or single, we both experience pain and joy. It may just look differently and I’d love to have you on this journey too.

If you are new to Not Unredeemed or want to keep up with this series, please sign up to follow Not Unredeemed in the side bar.

Many thanks to Natasha Metzler for the graphic design! (She is doing a 31 Days Series too. “Word Snacks – Bite Sized Devotionals for Your Hungry Moments.” Check her out! Thanks also to Dianne and Amelia for helping me brainstorm on just the write title to capture what I want this series to express. Community is wonderful peeps!


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What Longing Is (Longing Part 4)

Before you read what Longing is, make sure you read what it isn’t too. Click here.

Longing is a mirror that we look into and see our true motives. Purified longing takes something that is good and makes it great. I long to be appreciated for what I do; not a bad desire, but the Lord sees the motive.  When I am not appreciated and don’t get what I want, longing holds up the mirror to reveal a selfish heart. Longing teaches me to love and serve with agape love – expecting nothing in return, serving out of love for the Lord, not the desire to be appreciated.

Longing is a chance to feel what Christ feels. The Spirit longs for His bride. We think we might have been waiting long, but what have we done to Christ? His bride dallies in her marriage preparations daily. We hurt him, grieve Him, and ask Him to wait to come back for us until we can do or experience certain things – until our desires are fulfilled. As we long, it’s a reminder that the Lord feels longings too – for us. How great is His love for us!  We are His bride whom He is separated from. (Revelation 21).  Longing is about realizing that our story is really about the cross.  It’s about becoming the bride of Christ. Christ is coming back for a body that is in portion to its head.  Are you ready for Him?

Longing is a reminder we are made for more.

“Heaven is not here. It’s there. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.” – Elisabeth Elliot – Keep A Quiet Heart

We aren’t made for this earth, friends. Longing keep us from getting comfortable and settling for the shadows of reality.

Longing understands. There is such comfort in knowing that the Lord understands our longings too. Isaiah 40:27 tells us that our ways are not hidden from Him, nor is our cause disregarded. He sees you friend! And He understands your pain.

O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. Psalm 38:9

We can also understand each other’s pain – pain and longing are what make us human, and we have the privilege of comforting each other (2 Cor 1).

Longing is perspective and focus. Without darkness we would never know what light was. The same applies to what we long for – with longing comes a unique perspective. In the absence of what our heart desires, there is room to love and appreciate what was passed over before. Within longing we see a side of the Father’s face that is only shown to those in holy anguish. The choice is always ours – to focus on what we do have, or what we don’t have.

Longing is leaving regrets behind. David Crowder’s song “Oh He Loves us” says: don't have timejpg

“I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way you love us”

While Crowder might have been writing about the regrets of sin, when I sing this song it also means the regrets that come from unmet desires. There is a lot of truth in that line. When we are focused on the Lord’s love for us right now, we can’t regret what He has not yet given us. Our hearts can dwell on only one thing at time, we can foster discontent by focusing on our longings, or we can set them aside and focus on His love for us. A love that motivates and drives us to the point that we are so caught up in it, that there is no room for regrets.*

There is a lot of things that longing is, and that it isn’t, but what do we do with it?

Next: Longing – What Now.

*Please note that not focusing on the longing does not mean it goes away – it won’t always, but it becomes manageable and no longer paralyzes us when our focus is on Christ’s love.

Also in this series:

What to do with Longings

What Longing Isn’t

Seeing Our Salvation in our Longings


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What Longing Isn’t (Longings, Part 2)

Longings come from a lot of different desires and dreams (most of them good!), but some things longing isn’t meant to be.

Longing isn’t an excuse for sin. Longing for something isn’t inherently wrong. It’s often actually good and God given, but it’s what we do with longing that makes it right or wrong. In regards to our desires and longings, they only become sin when we are willing to sin to have the longing fulfilled.

 “if you are willing to sin to obtain your goal or if you sin when you don’t get what you want, then your desire as has taken God’s place and you are functioning as an idolater.” –Elyse Fitzpatrick, Idols of the Heart

The place that longing holds in our hearts determines whether or not it is sin. Another way to think of it is to ask, “Are we controlled by this longing? Do we act out of the longing, or out of the Holy Spirit’s fruit (self control) and leading?Longings can be traced back to motives. While they often start out with a pure desire, longings can quickly get twisted in our hearts when we sin because we don’t get what we want. (Insert complaining, doubt, self focus, anger, pride… You name it; we all have a default reaction when we don’t get our way.) – Let’s get uncomfortable for a minute, what’s your default reaction? Mine, gulp, well mine is usually pride and doubt.

Longing isn’t a place for a pity party where the honored guests, “what if” or “I wish” get center stage:

 “There is a somewhat philosophical realization that actually I have lost nothing. We may imagine what it would be like to share a given event and feel loss at having to experience it alone. But let us not forget – that loss is imagined, not real. I imagine peaks of enjoyment when I think of doing things together, but let not the hoping for it dull the doing of it alone.  What is, is actual – what might be is simply not, and I must not therefore query God as though He robbed me – of things that are not. Further the things that belong to us, they are good, God given, and enriched. Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.” Jim Elliot in a letter to Elisabeth, Passion and Purity.

If we don’t have it, we don’t need it.  It’s a hard truth, but Peter tells us that we have been given ALL we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1) When we think we are “owed” something by the Lord, or by life, we open wide the door for sin (offense, bitterness, distrust, doubt). Accepting what we do have is the greatest risk we are asked to take, because in acceptance, we surrender our pride (I know what’s best for me) and have to trust the Lord that He is good, and that He is faithful.

Longing isn’t meant to rob us of the now. Longing is simply a battlefield between the now and the not yet. It’s where we fight our dragons of fear, insecurity and pride, as we wrestle though facing our Maker and ourselves.

A red light in our longing means the adventure is not yet finished where we are! There is more to be done here – will you be brave enough to accept what you have, and offer it to the Lord as a sacrifice for Him to use?

 “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God” Psalm 50:23

Thanking God for our longings can be one of the hardest things we do – that is why it is called a sacrifice, but in doing so – it opens the way for us to see the salvation of the Lord. (And when we see the salvation of God – is it really such a sacrifice then? It becomes a no-lose situation)

Longing doesn’t rob us of our “now’s” – perspective does. With our minds we can live in the land of “not yet”, or we can ask God to see His salvation where we are, and let Him create tools to fight our dragons, and live fully in the now. That doesn’t mean we don’t still long for things, it means longing takes its proper place in our hearts, and lets God have the throne.

Next: Seeing our Salvation within our longings.


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What to do with Longings

I looked down at the text message from my bestie and burst into tears. No, I silently answered through the tears, the hoped for, longed for, text had not come. It had been three years since I’d been in a relationship, and while there had been a few “almosts”, and “sort of’s”, I was still single and feeling passed over yet again. My heart wrestled with my head, arguing that the Lord knew best, and His timing would be perfect, but it didn’t diminish the pain and longing I felt in that moment.

“Why Lord?” My heart begged. I really liked this guy, like a lot. I was waiting, ready to love, and had been past by yet again. In the midst of my frustration and tears, the Holy Spirit began to whisper, “Katie, how many times have I stood by ready and waiting to love you and you passed Me by?

Ouch. Those selfish, pitiful, tears instantly turned into tears of repentance and thankfulness.

longings

The Lord started a new season in my heart that night, a season of learning what longing is, and what it isn’t. – Won’t you join me for a short series on longings? While the these posts are going to be classified under a larger umbrella of a series on singleness, the next few posts going to focus on longings and desires. At the heart of it, all longings feel the same; they just look differently in each persons life. My longings have ranged from marriage, to friends, healing, ministry, family and a mentor. Others I know long for children, jobs, relationships; you fill in the blank -most of us have longings. What do you long for?

Next: What Longing Isn’t.

Also in this series:

What Longing Isn’t

Seeing Our Salvation in our Longings

What Longing Is

Longings – What now?