What Dating Taught Me in 2016

I spent the majority of 2016 getting to know and then dating a strapping young man, and we broke up in early October. So when I reflect on the year–that relationship is a major part of the things that shaped it. Though breakups suck, I am thankful for the experience of dating this year, and have complied a few “takeaways” from the relationship (I blogged about the takeaways from the break up here!).

In no particular order, and this list is certainly not exhaustive, but dating in 2016 taught me:

  1. That sometimes two awesome people, are not awesome together.
  2. That dating someone super disciplined in being in the Word and in prayer, makes it a whole lot easier to listen to their leadership.
  3. That becoming too physically affectionate stunts emotional & relational growth (it’s super easy to cuddle the night away, and it’s laborious to know one another–be willing to labor).
  4. That if their definition of best friend is very different from your picture of a best friend-you’re probably going to struggle to be best friends.
  5. That there is a beautiful, gospel centered way to respond to sin–and it brings freedom and a sense of safety.
  6. That purity is SOOOOO WORTH IT. OH MY WORD. ESPECIALLY POST BREAK UP–THE HEALING PROCESS IS SO MUCH EASIER WHEN THAT INTIMACY ISN’T BURDENING YOUR MEMORY BANKS OR WEDGING ITSELF BETWEEN YOU AND GOD.
  7. That I’m less trusting/more insecure than I thought I was.
  8. That I love big and I love quickly-I need to slow down my heart–and pray for discernment.
  9. That learning is a love language of mine.
  10. That “thy will be done” is a prayer always answered perfectly ❤

One of my favorite quotes of all time is by A.W. Tozer, and says, “When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.” So when I think about getting to know, dating, and breaking up this year–I know it’s purpose in my life is to make me look more like Christ, and that is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Oh, and here’s a little diddy I wrote when processing post-break up thoughts!

Guess we’re a Square Peg in a Round Hole,
It’s not you or me,
It’s us.

Yes we’re a square peg in a round hole.
It’s not you or me,
It’s us.

I get blinded by my own heart,
Love too big that I can’t see.
I get blinded by my own joy.
I’m not for you, you’re not for me.

I know I tend to try, try, try, to be all I long to be.
I get in my mind,
convince myself it’s fine.
Love can be so blind.

Though there was so much that was so good,
we long for and offer different things.
Though there was so much that was so good,
It’s best to wait for what God brings.

Because we’re a square peg in a round hole.
It’s not you or me-
It’s us.

 

Incest, Homosexuality, & God’s Ideal

I love my job.

Last Monday night, at a teen girl’s Bible study on the book of Ruth, we read this from chapter one:

But Naomi replied, “Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters!”

I could see the look of terror & confusion on the faces of the 6 girls sitting around me. I tried to explain the value of family/name/inheritances/etc. in that time period and the devaluing of women-especially widows.

But before I could drone on for too long, one of the girl’s said, much to the delight of some other girls in the room, “Oh, so incest is okay, but the gays aren’t?”

Good question!

[SIDE NOTE: It makes me VERY HAPPY that the girls are comfortable enough to say/ask these sort of things. That is a legitimate and completely understandable point!]

I didn’t address the comment too much right then. Partly because I was a little thrown off by it, and partly because I don’t want to make that the focus of the study. But this week when I meet with them, I want to talk about it-because it’s an excellent point, and I want the girls to understand what Christians believe and what we don’t believe. They are hearing a lot of WRONG things about Christianity (from Christians and non-Christians alike!) and I want to help them see where I (and the Factory) stand! And so here’s sort of what I want to say:

God, as the creator of all things, made things for certain purposes. And He LOVES what He made. One of the brilliant parts of His plan was to design male and female to compliment and complete each other-both in body and in self. He made them different, and He made them for each other. Then He established the union of marriage, so that these two people would be committed to each other for life. In so doing, they would have the security of having ONE person who loves them, knows them, serves them-for a lifetime! It would take all that time to grow in understanding of the other person, and a lifetime to grow deeper in love with that one person. He decided to give humankind that long term love so that they could experience a depth of love that one could never experience with just short flings. Love planted in the security of a lifelong commitment, growing through the soils of perseverance, produce the most beautiful and precious flower of being fully known and fully loved.

God could have created just that. Man and woman who compliment each other-are different and help each other with their corresponding strengths and weaknesses, and give them the mandate to be loyal for life-so that their joy is ENORMOUS and their hearts are secure. BUT He did even more than that. He took it a step farther and created sex.

Knowing that a lifetime of commitment would be difficult in many ways, due to people’s own selfishness and the stresses of life-He created sex. The way He designed it is MIRACULOUS. Yes, it is to procreate-but it is so much more than that! It is for UNITY and it is for PLEASURE! In God’s brilliance He decided to give the couple that enters the challenging, rewarding lifetime commitment to one another the gift of intercourse. This gift would bring so much joy, it would bring a closeness and a oneness that is unlike anything else. It would cause the man and woman to love, know, cherish, and protect one another’s bodies. God infused chemical reactions into the process that binds the couple together in an even DEEPER unity and an even DEEPER adoration. It would tie them to each other. Such a unifying act with that one person strengthens their bonds of commitment. The deep intimacy, care, and dependency on one another’s strengths and differences brings about the most wonderful, delightful, glorious union.

THAT is God’s plan for marriage. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Isn’t that #goals? THAT brings US the most joy. And OUR utmost joy, brings HIM JOY.

So the reason He disapproves of homosexuality, is the same reason he disapproves of sleeping around, of having sex before you are married, the same reason He hates one night stands, and cheating spouses. It’s not his perfect plan. It robs us of the joy that we COULD be experiencing if we OBEYED him. That’s what God is all about-us loving him and finding joy and fulfillment in loving Him!

A couple of other things:

  1. I want to remind them of the kindness of this “marrying of relatives”, that incest is strictly forbidden in many parts of the Bible-but this is making sure family takes care of family, in a time where being a family-less widow was among one of the worst possible things could happen to a woman. Women couldn’t inherit anything, they had NO rights, and couldn’t get jobs to take care of themselves. For a widow without a family to take her in, the options were  pretty much just begging, prostitution, or starvation. Being a wife once again, would be protecting, providing, and honoring her. Weird and confusing, I know. But history is history!
  2. Homosexuality is not the unpardonable sin. God lists it among other sins like greed, pride, and stealing. I don’t want to elevate it to somewhere it shouldn’t be.
  3. I love the gays, JUST like I still love my friends who are sleeping with their boyfriends. I just think they are missing out on God’s BEST for them.
  4. God loves the gays. No one is going to hell because of their sexual preference. The only reason people spend an eternity apart from God is if they don’t love God –> meaning they don’t know him (@Jesus) –> meaning they don’t believe and trust Him –> meaning they don’t desire to obey Him.
  5. I don’t expect you  (as a non-Christian) to believe homosexuality is wrong-in fact, I expect you to believe it is FINE! If I were not a Christian, I would be fine with it too. Let’s be tolerate of each other’s views-and agree to disagree.
  6. Lastly, the Bible says that a marriage relationship (in it’s most perfect state) was given to be a picture of the relationship that God wants with humankind! God wants commitment, unity, delight, and teamwork with the Church! And that to me is really cool!

Writing this all out helps me process and prepare! Thanks for reading, and as always, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts!

marriage-2

 

Ask Them Questions

Question

Last night, I had the opportunity to go over to a couple’s house for dinner. I provided a “Mistake Cake” Dessert (what was supposed to be a bundt cake, that turned into a trifle) they provided a delicious dinner , and we just chatted about life.

The conversation was delightful-topics including marriage, exegetical preaching, current readings, and the like filled our evening. Before we sat down to eat, I asked the Mrs. about how she was feeling about life right now.  I asked what she found most difficult, how each member of her family is dealing/processing with the current situations, and just listened to her story.

I didn’t think it strange to ask her those questions, because I care about her! I want to know how she is doing! But later in the evening, her husband said something about how rare it is that someone ask how SHE is doing. They have been in ministry for many, many years, and she has mentored many people. They have found that most of the time, the conversations circle around how the other person is doing. Far too infrequently, he said, is her life and struggles addressed and talked about.

Honestly, I was surprised by that.

But then I thought, perhaps that is normal for people in ministry, or who have a counseling heart. Perhaps they listen SO often, and give advice SO frequently, that others simply forget to ask how THEY are. And they deeply need ministered too as well!

So I guess all this to say, that when you are sharing your life and burdens with others, do not forget to also care for their burdens. Remember that their shoulders that help bear your pain, through strong, could certainly use a friend to bear their pains as well. 

This quote has been steadfastly on my heart and mind these last few months:

Loving

Listen. Love. Ask. Care.

Thanks for reading 🙂

All I Need and Trust is the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

When my eyes are wearied by what I see around me–and by what I do not see, I realize that I am often looking in the wrong places. Instead of what I lack, or what pains me, I turn my eyes to the Founder and Perfecter of my faith, and find my once heavy heart now light and peaceful. 

Dear friend, pray for a heart that understands and delights in this precious love. His love changes everything!

VERSE 1
Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me
Underneath me, all around me
Is the current of Your love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To Your glorious rest above

CHORUS
Oh the deep, deep love
All I need and trust
Is the deep, deep love of Jesus

VERSE 2
Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Spread His praise from shore to shore
How He came to pay our ransom
Through the saving cross He bore
How He watches o’er His loved ones
Those He died to make His own
How for them He’s interceding
Pleading now before the throne

VERSE 3
Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Far surpassing all the rest
It’s an ocean full of blessing
In the midst of every test
Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Mighty Savior, precious Friend
You will bring us home to glory
Where Your love will never end

john piper quote:

When I Doubt His Love

When I doubt his love

When my Love seems far away

When his gentle touch I cannot feel

When my heart, alone it longs

For me his voice to hear

 

I look through our old photographs

Through fondly journaled memories

I meet with friends who love him too

And my heart is warmed

by the fire of our recollections.

 

In those pages, pictures, stories

I remember with a smile

And a sigh of relief

The days I knew He loved me so

Proofs of delight listed miles upon miles

Upon miles upon miles.

 

He has not changed.

 

We are one.

Have I forgotten?

He is closer than my own soul.

Question his love, commitment, intentions?

A more foolish doubt, I’ll never know.

 

What a sweet gift

This love that answers my fears with more Love.

A protective father’s love.

That answers my doubts with more Love.

A faithful king’s love.

That answers my pains with more Love.

A powerful Lord’s love.

 

He steadfastly pursues my affection

He never left my side.

He’s not done a single thing to earn this mistrust

Yet he patiently resides

in my insecure heart.

While I question and miss his presence,

A presence that is more real than my own.

In my once wicked-now perfected- heart that he chooses to call his little home.