To The One Who Feels Burned Out

To The One Who Feels Burned Out

To The One Who Feels Burned Out,

Before I say anything, let’s take a deep breath together. Inhale, exhale.

Sometimes the best thing to do when we’re exhausted is to slow down and remember we are alive.

Now, the most important thing I want to say is that I get it. I know life is moving fast and sometimes it can feel like too much. I know the pressure can build up and the future can feel like it’s speeding at you quicker than you can blink. I’m feeling it too.

The tension of being so tired, so ready to be done but still having to sprint to get to the finish line can feel too hard at times. For me, it is college. Maybe for you, it’s the non-stop reality of being a parent or the long hours of a job you really want to quit.

No matter what, if you do feel burned out I want to encourage you today. Not because I have all the answers but because I am a reminder that you are not alone. And there is a really kind, really strong Father who offers us hope for relief.

So, stop what you are doing right now. Look up from your screen, shut the laptop for a second and just close your eyes. Inhale, exhale.

It seems silly or obvious, but I believe when we close our eyes and let His presence fill the space behind our eyelids it is a physical reminder of the life beating inside of our chests.

And when we lift our eyes from the exhausting circumstance that is staring us down and remember Who is carrying us through it all, we are able to catch our breath.

We say it all the time, “God is with us” but He really is.

When we choose to really believe it, it changes the way we see our life and the One who gave it to us- no matter how hard it might be in the moment.

He is in the breath that fills your lungs and the deep-belly laugh you were designed to have. He is in the ability to feel raindrops on your unique fingerprints and the vibrant colors that fill your eyes each day.

He is in your feet that carry you with each step you take and the journey that your taste buds take you on in every meal. He is in each heartbeat and the intricate brain inside your head.

He is everywhere, all the time, waiting to bring you the peace you need in the most desperate moments of burnout.

He is the presence that helps us stay present so we can experience the life we were created to live.

That’s what I am learning- God did not create us to live like burned out zombies. We were not born to live in the exhaustion and frustration that the world (and our own flesh) can pull us into so easily.

No, you and I were born to live in freedom. We are called to walk boldly into each new day, to live with love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We were created to be alive.

Now, I know that sounds great in theory…but it is a lot more difficult to really live like that. To believe it when life is knocking us down over and over again is where the real, raw faith comes in.

Again, I get it. It can be hard to just get back up again sometimes.

I’m not saying to not have hard times, I’m just saying that God is teaching me when I feel the burnout and want to give up He has the strength to get me through.

He is the One we can lean on and can have confidence in.

And when we choose to breathe, step back, be present and live in gratitude He helps us escape the bondage of burnout.

Be grateful for the simple, detailed beauties of life you do have right now. I promise there are more of them than you and I will ever really know or understand.

Choose to rest in Him and create space in your life so you can catch your breath physically, mentally and spiritually. It is important and valid, especially in the seasons of burnout. 

Most importantly, stop and breathe really, really deep. Just remember- you are not alone and He will get you through this. Keep your head up and watch how He brings life back into your soul. 

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” -Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23

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Hope For the Rest of 2018 (& Those Resolutions That Seem Too Far Gone)

Hope For the Rest of 2018 (& Those Resolutions That Seem Too Far Gone)

Well, we are already half-way into 2018! Wow. I know everyone always says, “I just can’t believe how fast the year is going by!” But y’all, I really can’t.

It seems like it was just yesterday that I was making all these New Year’s resolutions and writing on the blog about my word for 2018. But, at the same time, some of those exciting dreams I had in my heart on January 1 are a little fuzzy right now.

I planned on making so many exciting changes to my routine. Now it’s the end of June and I’m sitting here looking back on what I haven’t done and it feels too late to try to play catch-up.

If you have been around for awhile you know “rest” is the word God gave me for this year. Of course, I feel like I have been running around on empty, focused on my own strength, more times in 2018 than I have been resting in Him.

It’s really easy to see an area of your life that needs change, it’s not as easy to continue being intentional in that area when things get chaotic. And that’s just the reality of life. I am far from perfect and have definitely fallen back into old rhythms I was so gung-ho about leaving behind in 2017.

Here’s the thing though, the year isn’t over yet.

Six months have gone by but there are still six whole months left. And those goals and dreams and “2018 words” are just as real today as they were on New Year’s Day.

So I really want to ask you, how does your life look right now? What was your word of the year? How have you been intentional in reaching the exciting goals you set out for yourself?

It’s okay if your real answer is that you don’t feel like you’ve made a ton of progress and can’t seem to remember those January goals. First of all, you are NOT alone. I think most of us feel that way.

If that’s you, just know that because you didn’t start then doesn’t mean you can’t start now. The enemy wants you to believe you are too far gone, that those goals will never be met. But that is a LIE because God is not done with you yet, never has been and never will be.

He doesn’t really care if you take that next step in January or June, all that matters is that you take it. My pastor always says, “It doesn’t matter how you start, all that matters is how you finish.”

Don’t feel like you’ve fallen behind and have to catch up, just make a move today so you can finish well later.

Pick up that Bible and read a chapter, put on your favorite sneakers and go for a walk, look that temptation in the face and choose to say “No.”

Whatever it is that you’ve been wanting to do, just do it (as Mr. Shia LaBeouf would say!) and watch how God redeems 2018 to be your best, most intentional year yet.

And if you do feel like you have stayed focused on your goals and are making progress towards where you want to be- THAT IS SO AWESOME! Take a moment and just appreciate what you and God have accomplished together. I am genuinely praying He continues to give you the energy and motivation to keep running strongly towards His best for your life.

Wherever you are, you are not alone and you are not too far gone. God is all about redemption stories, He is writing one every single day with your life.

It is not too late to get started on reaching those goals you set for 2018 and chasing the dreams God gave you. Maybe you need to pick up that journal you wrote all your “start-of-the-year” goals to remind yourself. Maybe you never really thought about your goals for the year until now.

Go remember, write them down again and trust that no matter what you have or haven’t done God has not given up on you, so don’t give up on yourself.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

-Hebrews 12:1-3

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Change Can Be Hard

Change Can Be Hard

Wow. What a month it has been! May has been jam-packed with so many exciting adventures and new challenges.

As I was thinking about this month’s post and what God has been doing in my life, the word “change” kept bubbling up in my mind. So, naturally, I thought that was what the focus was going to be. I was planning to do a mini update on all the changes that have happened and how they are new adventures full of sweetness and wonder. It was going to be great!

But, as I started to write this post I realized there is so much more going on inside of my heart. And I never created this blog to just write some pre-planned words so I could check a box off in my mind to feel accomplished. This is a part of my personal ministry, using the gift of writing God has given me to express what He is doing in my heart. This is real, I always want it to be real.

So, this post is no longer just a sweet recap of all the awesome, exciting things that have happened in the past month. It’s also going to be a snapshot of where my heart is right now as I trudge through the hard parts that come along with the change.

You may be wondering, what changes I’m talking about? Well, let me tell you.

This month brought new beginnings. I turned 21-years-old and got to celebrate with the amazing people who make my life such a blessing. I also finished my junior year which was easily my best year of college so far.

But, at the same time, this month brought bittersweet endings. The biggest one, in my heart, is my transition out of Wednesday HUB (which is my church’s youth ministry) where I have been serving for the past three years as a middle school girls leader.

This month has also been full of new, unexpected adventures! I ended up getting to go to Los Angeles for a week with my dad to celebrate my birthday and it was so much fun. I am very thankful for those special memories we got to create together.

But the biggest adventure that has “fallen” into my lap is probably why this month feels so crazy to me and is where those tough heart things are coming from- I started a “big girl” internship!

It’s a very long story that I’m going to do my best to keep short…basically, I have to do an internship to graduate. I’ve known this ever since I started studying journalism at UNT and I remember being very excited when I first realized it. Internships sounded so fun to pre-college me (they still do!) and I remember picturing myself in a cool office, working for a magazine in a city somewhere.

Well, it hit me this year that I am getting closer to graduation (I am one year away!) which means I am getting closer to needing that internship. I knew I wanted to do it during the summer so I could focus fully on interning and not worry about going to class. So, in the back of my mind this entire year I have thought about how I need to do an internship and pretty soon.

But there was something else in the back of my mind too. As some of you may recall, last summer I worked at a Christian camp called Camp WOW and I LOVED it. I didn’t write a ton about it because last year I didn’t keep up with the blog as well. But it challenged me and humbled me and rocked my world and gave me a second family and, basically, I love camp. So much. And this summer I wanted to go back to camp. So bad.

I could see the need for an internship but I could also feel my heart wanting to be back at camp. So, I decided I would just go back and figure out my internship situation next year. Simple.

I didn’t even ask God though and let me tell you, He had his own plan.

He started whispering, “Apply to your dream internship, just try.” And, even though it confused me, I did.

For me, the ideal internship would be at D Magazine. It’s a hugely successful magazine (which is where I want to work someday!) and it’s in Dallas.

So, I applied and told God that if He wanted me there He would have to make it happen, half-heartedly believing it would go anywhere.

And God responded! He opened the doors and gave me the internship. I needed a clear answer if I was going to choose this over camp and getting it was a very clear answer from Him to me, “I want you to spend your summer at home, doing this internship.”

I remember getting the email and being so surprised, excited and nervous all at the same time. This was unknown, this was not my plan. But I heard Him tell me, “I am with you wherever you go, just trust me.”

So as I write this, I am currently sitting in that cool office that’s on the 22nd floor of a big, shiny building I dreamed of getting to intern in as a newly graduated high schooler just a couple years ago. Officially, I am an editorial intern for Dallas Innovates through the D Magazine Partners internship program. WHAT?!? God is SO good. Part of me still can’t believe I’m here.

It’s been so cool for so many reasons, He has continued to give me signs that this is where He wants me. Getting to meet people who are passionate about the same things I am and learning from professionals in the world I hope to be apart of someday…it’s already been such a neat experience.

But, if I’m being honest, it’s also been a huge change for me which is where the “not-so-warm-and-fluffy” heart stuff comes into play right now.

The commute to Dallas, the long hours, learning how to communicate with new people, and the transition has been challenging in ways I didn’t expect.

And what I’m trying to remember is that’s okay, it’s normal. I have to keep reminding myself of that: the uncomfortable transition is part of the experience and learning how to adjust is part of the process.

Now, don’t get me wrong! There have been some really wonderful moments already and I have no doubt in my mind God has put me in this internship for a reason. I know it’s where I’m supposed to be and I am beyond grateful to get to go through the hard parts of this experience and soak up every ounce of this dream internship I didn’t ever think I would have. 

But, I want to be honest about all of the parts of this new season because sometimes it is just plain hard. And not talking about it would just discount how good God is in those overwhelming moments, so I’m going to talk about it!

What I’ve realized over the year is just because He calls us to something doesn’t mean it’s going to be any easier. I’m actually convinced it’s in those uncomfortable, exhausting moments where He speaks louder than ever.

I’m learning that He is there in the long commute and in the frustrating conversation and in the daily 3 p.m. mental crash. He is there.

I am weak but He is strong. He is there lifting me up and reminding me that He is in control.

Change is hard. Being an adult is hard. Life is hard. That’s why we need a Savior who makes our burdens light and gives us the courage to keep going, even when all we want to do is give up.

It’s the truth but if I’m even more honest, I usually forget this part. I get focused on the circumstances of life and my own shortcomings- and y’all, that will make anyone want to give up. But the good news is, even when I forget, He is with me.

And as I type that, with my puffy eyes tired from the almost 7 hours I have been sitting and staring at this screen writing assignments, I breathe a sigh of relief because I desperately need to know He is good and He is with me, trudging through the change.

That’s the biggest thing I want to say: if you are in a new season that has turned out to be less sunshine and roses and more of a sunburn and thorns, just know you are not alone. I get it, but most importantly, God is with you- YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

Even the moments that haven’t been so perfect and sweet have all happened on purpose and for a purpose. Through the change He is shaping us into who He has called us to be.

Change is a part of His plan for us. It isn’t always fun and can be really hard, like “I-want-to-give-up-why-is-Dallas-traffic-this-terrible” kind of hard. But that’s the cool thing about God, He doesn’t abandon us when it gets tough. As a matter of fact, He gets even closer.

It’s in the hard moments of this world that His refreshing presence collides with the brutal reality of life, reminding us that He changes all things but He never changes. Thank goodness.  

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” -Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)

“Every gift God freely gives us is good and perfect, streaming down from the Father of lights, who shines from the heavens with no hidden shadow or darkness and is never subject to change.” -James 1:17 (TPT)

“He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” -Romans 8:27-28 (MSG)

Finding Peace in the Backseat

Finding Peace in the Backseat

Lately, my whole life has felt like one big decision. I guess it comes with the territory of being a 20-year-old (almost 21-year-old!) college student who is trying to figure out life and the future one step at a time while simultaneously having no idea what she’s doing…but I also feel like these life decisions will never go away, they will just change with time.

It’s a really sweet season of life (for so many reasons) but it can easily go from wonderful to overwhelming. Of course, I am so thankful to get the option to make decisions like going back to work at Camp WOW, exciting potential internships, stepping into a brand new ministry and even silly, fun decisions like my 21st birthday plans.

When I step back and look at all the possibilities that lie ahead through God’s eyes I am so blessed that I am alive and get to do these things for Him. But it’s in the moments my focus shifts from my Father who is in control to how many decisions I have to make that the enemy overwhelms my mind with uncertainty and sucks all the life out of, well, my life.

That’s the thing about decisions, I get anxious when I’m waiting in the “in-between” part. My flesh doesn’t like the decision part, the waiting because the world tries to tell me I need an answer before I get through the deciding part. And what God has been reminding me is that He is in the in-between, He’s in the waiting and, ultimately, He is the one in the driver’s seat.

It’s like my life is one big road trip and each destination is something brand new and exciting. I know I’m in good hands with God as the One behind the wheel but after awhile I start to ask when we’re getting there or, sometimes, where we’re even going. I can see He is driving and I know He will unfailingly get me where I need to be but the journey can be hard, dark and exhausting.

Even still, I know He is right there beside me on the journey and He can see the destination when all I feel is the waiting.

Now, just because I’ve realized that doesn’t mean it’s the perspective I have every single day. Most days I’m stressed and worried about making the “right” decision (If that even exists?) and trying to understand how everything will all work out. But the beautiful part is, no matter how bumpy the ride is, it does not change the fact that He is still driving.

Whether I think I’m in control or not, He is always taking me where He wants me to be and He always gets me there on time. I know this in my head, it’s my heart that needs the reminding the most because that’s where the true, gritty trust is.

Trusting is not easy but it is the key to unlocking a free, joyful heart that rests peacefully in the backseat.

But, can I be honest? I think worrying has become easier and more comfortable for me. It’s my default, it’s where my mind automatically goes. I already know I can worry and not be sure, it’s in the trusting that I have to give all of my fears to Him and believe He won’t take a wrong turn.

Worrying is easy, trusting is worth it.

So, that’s where my heart has been lately during this crazy season of April. It’s been a beautiful month of business as the final projects and big decisions have lurked closer and closer with each passing day?

There are so many things I can (and do) stress about- my future, my summer, graduating on time, my family, my friends, camp, leaving a comfortable ministry for the unknown, doing the right thing, being in the right place and the list goes on…

And when my mind goes to its default mode of stress, I’ve been praying that God would pull me out of myself long enough to be thankful for the season I am in now instead of worrying about the one I may be in later. I pray to have the boldness to trust Him when it seems like I’m driving off a cliff and I can’t see which way He’s taking me. I pray for a heart that trusts the One who holds my heart in the darkest, loneliest moments on this earth is the same good, good Father I sing praises to on Sunday morning.

To just trust, I know it’s easier to say than to do. It’s harder in the moments when every thought and worry comes crashing down and I’m brought to my knees in fear. But He never fails to remind my heart that He has me right where He wants me, even if where I am is in-between where I have been and where I want to be.

And I know at the end of the day, no matter where we are on the journey to the destination He is there with me and that is truly the only place I really want to be.

As long as He is in the driver’s seat He will get me there and His final destination is always the most perfect and on-time place that only He can get me to- that’s why the full life takes real trust.

He is good, He is faithful and He will come through- He always does.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”    Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:33-34 (MSG)

I Know How the Story Ends

I Know How the Story Ends

Can you imagine not knowing?

The darkness of the night must have been the only comfort, the only thing to block out the pain and fear. He was gone, He had died.

Light had left, hope had gone.

They must have wondered why He said He was the One? Why didn’t He save Himself? How did He perform the miracles and do the things He did?

Why did they believe Him?

He was it. They must have felt like the one escape they had from this fallen, broken world had just closed in on them. They must have felt like He died and just left them there to die too. It’s was just a matter of time.

How could they not feel hopeless? They had watched him just stand there, taking every word, every spit, every punch. He just took it, He didn’t even fight back.

He let them torture Him, He let them mock. He let them hurt Him, why did he have to give up?

Now it life was complete darkness. No hope. Total pain.

That was what they must have felt, absolute despair.

But can you imagine? The shiver that went down their spine as they saw Him, the One who had been rolled into a grace, breathing in life and walking in power with the holes in hands and feet. Alive.

They must have thought, “He is dead, there is no possible way.”

As their minds tried to come up with an explanation, Heaven showed them the proof-He was alive. He hadn’t given up at all, He had come back undefeated and brought forever life, hope and freedom with Him.

I can only imagine the unexplainable joy that crept into their hearts that had been weighed down with sorrow only moments before.

He was no longer dead, He never had been. He had only walked past death, on His way to unlocking everlasting life for all His brothers and sisters.

He is exactly who He said He was, He came to FREE. The stunned believers of that day didn’t have to wait anymore, they didn’t have to live in their old ways anymore. And neither do we. Everything He said is true, it was then and it is now.

Even when anxiety comes or people disappoint or life seems too much to bear. He is still who He says He is and He keeps His promise.

He is Jesus, the greatest comeback story of all time.

Tonight we don’t have to wonder, we don’t have to sit under the crushing weight of disappointment and sorrow.

We know Sunday morning is coming, we know the end of the story: Jesus wins.

It’s been the story since He walked out of the tomb the world thought He was going to stay in forever. It’s been the story since the beginning of time. And it’s still the story today and every day after.

Jesus wins. Death is defeated. He is alive.

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them,’Why do you look for the living among the dead?’ He is not here; he has risen!'” -Luke 24:1-6

Jesus Is Everything // Holy Week Thoughts

Jesus Is Everything // Holy Week Thoughts

My mind has been everywhere this past month, it’s been both restful and restless, chaotic and calm. Since a good chunk of this month was Spring Break, I’ve had a lot of time to do nothing…let me explain. While all my friends seemed to go on fun adventures during the break, I spent mine recovering from wisdom teeth surgery. I know, crazy! No seriously, it was a glamorous week of milkshakes, ice packs, and The Office.

Not that I’m complaining, it was a nice and much-needed break from the whirlwind of homework, deadlines, and commitments but it was also very difficult for me to do nothing (even though I physically had to!) The whole thing just reminded me one more time why God gave me the word “rest” for this new year.

Anyways, all this to say, I’ve had an interesting month of wanting to do both nothing at all and everything at once. It’s a weird place to be.

And since I’ve had necessary downtime, I’ve also thought a lot about what I want to write for this month. Some of my initial ideas came from the things I’ve been struggling with lately- anxiety, restlessness, feeling like I’m not living life fully…but today I realized that there’s only one topic I want to talk about.

Or, I guess I should say, there’s only one person I need to talk about- Jesus.

Maybe it’s because the Easter season has me more excited and aware of His sacrifice for us on the cross or maybe it’s because deep down I know He’s the only One I could write about that matters.

I just know that Jesus is everything. And as we go through this Holy Week and walk through these few days leading up to Easter weekend with hearts weighed down by the heaviness of the crucifixion but expectant of His resurrection, I am desiring to truly be aware of His power and presence.

Even sitting here typing out these words, I realize I’m not even sure what that means, to be fully aware of His power and presence. Jesus is so much better than anything my tiny, human brain can conjure up. But I know my soul longs in ways it can’t express to get even just a glimpse of the glory of Jesus, of the true life He gave me when He gave up His on the cross.

I need that resurrection life. I need that hope. I need that overpowering light. I desperately need Jesus.

And the greatest thing is He desires to be with me too, with all of us. I think that is just insane. I mean, really thinking about it is just too much.

Jesus is everything, yet He wants me. He wants me, the one who forgets Him and what He’s done more than I remember. It’s in the brief moments of His glory when my heart overtakes my mind when I get a glimpse of how overwhelming His desire for me is, how real it is.

He is everything. And I want to be aware of how true that is, not just in the days leading up to Easter Sunday but every day of my life. I don’t want to miss Him, I want to be in awe of Him especially in the normal parts of life.

I want to be in awe of His grace when I wake up to a new day, even if I’m snoozing my alarm clock for the third time. I want to be in awe of His protection over my life when I pass hundreds of cars on I-35 to commute to school. I want to be in awe of His creation in every blade of grass and beam of light that stretches before me as I walk across campus.

He is everything and He is in everything.

I want to be in awe because to be alive, to have these in-between, beautiful moments where His love lives is awe-inspiring in itself.

But He doesn’t stop there. He gives us beauty and joy and hope and dreams, He gives us Himself- He gives us everything.

Even though we don’t deserve it, He gives. Even when we aren’t aware of Him, He gives. Even when we forget He is everything, He gives. It’s a no-strings-attached, genuine and pure kind of love. What a beautiful reality, the love of Jesus.

I am so grateful He picks me up every morning, looks at my heart, gives me a purpose and leads me by the hand into the life He died to give me. I am so thankful He went to the cross on the ultimate rescue mission for my soul, that’s my Jesus- my Savior, my Rescuer, my Everything.

It’s too much, to think about every detailed way He lavishes love on my heart every day just simply because He can and desires to. It makes all the struggles and hardships of this world melt away, knowing I am loved by Jesus, the One who conquered death and darkness forever.

I am loved by Love Himself and He is worthy of celebration. He is everything and He deserves everything we can offer.

Thank You, Jesus, we love You and remember who You are and what You did. You won.

“Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.” -Isaiah 53:4-5

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” -1 John 4:9

“And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” -Ephesians 5:2

“The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Forever He is glorified
Forever He is lifted high
Forever He is risen
He is alive, He is alive!” -Forever, Kari Jobe

To All the Single Ladies (& Gentlemen)

To All the Single Ladies (& Gentlemen)

Ahh, Valentine’s Day. It’s such a fun, weird day that causes all of us to become extra aware of our relationship status (or lack thereof…) For those in a relationship, it usually means buying candies and gifts at the last minute for that special someone. For single people, it can mean so many different things, even though at its core it is just a silly holiday meant to boost chocolate sales and love.

Today I found myself walking through the Valentine’s Day section at Walmart (word to the wise, don’t do this the day before Valentine’s Day or you will feel very scared and confused…) and I started thinking a lot about my own singleness.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve started to step into a season where I’m expected to be dating and it’s been difficult because it just hasn’t happened for me yet.

And I would just like to say, I do realize I’m only 20-years-old and that there are many people much older who have been single for longer. But, during my college years, I have felt the struggle, especially since college is said to be when you “find your soulmate.” And even though I am still young, I have quite a few friends my age who are in committed relationships or are already married.

All of these outside pressures have made me wonder if there’s something wrong with me or if I’m not putting myself out there enough since I haven’t dated at all in college. It’s been something I’ve really processed with God over the past year because I’ve felt a lot of insecurity and frustration about it.

Needless to say, this past year of asking God to give me peace and open my heart to singleness has been a really precious time of drawing closer to Him instead of trying to figure out the world’s idea of love.

But as I’ve walked through being single with Jesus-goggles on, I feel like I’ve heard people try to encourage me more and more by saying, “Singleness is a gift.” And yes, it is a gift (Paul said so in 1 Corinthians 7!) but I feel like most of the time people say this almost out of pity. I don’t think they say it that way on purpose, but sometimes it feels like it’s being said because I need this assurance to go on with my life of singleness until I find the right guy and settle down.

And y’all know I’m always down for encouragement BUT if I’ve learned one thing this past year it’s that God didn’t call singleness a gift for me (or any other single peeps out there!) to feel better about themselves.

No, He called it a gift because that’s exactly what it is. It’s a beautiful, difficult and sweet season of life with new experiences and lessons that you can only learn while being on your own (by the world’s standards.)

It’s a gift because it’s a time when you are wholeheartedly focused and dependant on God and no one else.

Now, before I go any further, don’t get me wrong- I believe marriage is amazing and a beautiful picture of God. I definitely hope to be married someday! But God has been revealing that being married is not my purpose in life, it’s just a season I’m called to live in one day.

As followers of Christ, our true purpose is to worship God and glorify Him in everything. So, this idea that I’ve created in my mind that I have to wait to meet the right guy and get married for my life to really begin is just a total lie.

Of course, I can only imagine how sweet marriage is and I really am looking forward to it if it’s in God’s plans for me. But I don’t want to be so focused on a life I may get to have in the future that I miss out on living the life I have been given now. 

And to be single truly is a wonderful time of life- if we choose to let it be. I’ve been doing this awesome single devotional for women (check it out, ladies!) and in it, the writer talks about how we’re really great about focusing on the good parts of other people’s lives. So, for single people, we tend to look at all the awesome parts of marriage but forget that we have awesome parts as singles too.

Think about it this way, there’s value in being able to get up and go get coffee with a friend whenever and wherever you want to. There’s something so freeing about randomly drive across the country on a road trip just because you can. Honestly, it’s really nice not having to worry about planning with someone else or checking in on them all the time.

And there’s definitely something special in knowing that the only focus, priority, and love in your life is Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t an easy season to be in by any means. Sometimes all I want is to cuddle with someone who thinks I’m awesome and beautiful. And it hits super hard when I see my friends’ magical, love-filled social media posts who are in opposite seasons of dating and getting engaged.

And, honestly, I think it’s okay to feel that way. I don’t think God is over here like, “HA! You’re alone.” Actually, I feel like He is waiting patiently on the other side of the door with a huge bouquet of the prettiest roses in the world (that He created just for you!) because He wants to tell you He’s never left you and that He loves you more than anyone ever could.

As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true. I think in those moments of longing and frustration that singleness can bring, Jesus wants to tell us He gets how that feels and that He calls you fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s in seasons of singleness that we learn to trust and lean into the love of Jesus before anyone else.

His love is better than any romantic comedy plotline or perfectly staged Instagram post. It’s real. It’s true. It’s unconditional. And it’s offered to every single one of us right now.

So, if you’re single and are feeling down about it, can I just encourage you today?

First of all, I totally get it. Sometimes I just want the fairytale romance and the husband and the house and the kids because I’ve been told that’s when life gets really good. But God is showing me I don’t have to wait for my life to begin at marriage because He is with me now and only He can give me what I really desire. So, take heart because the love you are looking for is found in the One who is already holding your heart.

Second, you may feel “alone” in this world but the Creator of love is pursuing you with everything He has. Yes, you. He chooses you, every single day.

So, yes, being single is a gift. It may not be the Valentine’s Day gift you asked for but I can promise you Jesus is the greatest Gift Giver ever and He knows exactly what you need.

Singleness leaves space in your heart for God to fill so that you learn to fall completely and madly in love with the One who died to know you before you open your heart to anyone else. And, if you ask me, that’s greater than all the roses and chocolates and teddy bears in the world.

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” -Psalm 86:15

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” -1 John 4:9-10

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” -Zephaniah 3:17

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” -1 Corinthians 13: 4-7