Friday, August 5, 2011

All the single ladies!

One day at training we had the "Relationship Talk," which means... the married women went in one apartment and made cookies (which they shared with the whole hall afterward), the single ladies went in another apartment and found a theme song on Youtube, and the married guys went to another apartment to do... whatever it is that married guys do when they're together. And no, there were no single guys in this scenario, but that's a topic for another blog.

The Single group, I'm certain, was the most lively, and it was fun to be together and talk about this aspect of our lives on which we can uniquely relate to each other. It was pretty impressive, the number of ladies who declared that God had given us contentment in our singleness (Note: "Content" does not mean "no interest or desire to get married," it just means having peace, joy, and purpose in the midst of the Waiting). We agreed that God is the one who is in charge of our futures, which would be a wonderful thing for people to remember when they ask, "So when are you going to get married?" and being single is not a curse or tragedy as some seem to believe when they look at us sadly and say, "Don't worry, you still have time," (a phrase that tends to sound less confident, the older single women get).

Having established these points of bonding, we joked about pyromaniacally attracting firemen and how AAA is a good substitute for a husband... but in the end, some of us (maybe all of us, if we're honest?) still admitted we want to be married some day. We discussed the inner conflict of being content in singleness and desiring husbands, but we didn't really come to a solid conclusion about how that happens. It just seems like it's a constant emotional flux.

Sometimes married women tell single women that as great as married life is, it has its own challenges, and the benefit to singleness is the freedom we have to do what we want. I suppose this may be true for most people, but I don't see this as being a huge issue for me. Because of my disability, I can't do whatever I want whenever I want... I'm dependent on the help of other people, so I need to work my schedule with others', give them plenty of notice about what I need, and say no to things that are unreasonable to ask them to do.  Besides, I would hope that being married would be a positive change in my life, opening doors of opportunity and possibility that aren't available now. I know that I am complete and whole in Christ; but I've seen enough good and healthy marriages that I believe a partnership can be beautiful and incredible... an enhancement, rather than a completion. God's given me a life of great adventure, and I pray that the adventure will only get more exciting if I gain a partner with whome I can share it.

I don't write about singleness much, not because it isn't a big deal to me, but because I would rather focus my writing on the other blessings and gifts God's given me, and the many ways he is teaching me and shaping me into the person he wants me to be. He knows my heart and my desires, and he fills my life with love and purpose, and when I ask him to, he grants me grace and patience for each day and faith in him to take care of my future. And I guess maybe that's the conclusion I've come to as a single lady... that singleness really isn't as much about independence as people think - it's about full dependence and trust in the Lord to see and understand and provide just what I need day by day.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Submitting to God

Today is the first day of Ramadan in the Muslim culture. For one month, Muslims in my town and all across the world will fast and pray during the daylight hours. They do this as a discipline of submission to God. In fact, the word "Muslim" means "submitted to God."

During my time at training, we had an opportunity to visit a Mosque during Friday afternoon prayers. The ladies in our group respectfully wrapped our heads and covered our arms, and we sat in the back to observe. There was a sermon, given in English, but a strange thing happened... I could not understand it. I could hear the words and recognize them as English, but in a way that was like recognizing that words are French yet not comprehending their meaning. I strained to listen and focus and understand, but nothing stuck in my mind. I am not sure if that was the Holy Spirit or an evil spirit causing such confusion in me, but either way I do not remember a single thing in the sermon... it may as well have been in Arabic.

After the service, we had a woman who presented the pillars of Islam to us and had a question and answer session. During that time a few people referred to the sermon, and I picked up that it had been partially about preparing for Ramadan.

Christians do not celebrate Ramadan, but we are still called to submit to God:

"Submit yourselves, then, to God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Come near to God and he will come near to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners,
and purify your hearts, you double-minded...
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."
~ James 4:7-8, 10

What a beautiful promise... if we submit to God and come to Him, He comes near to us and lifts us up. He actively loves us and reaches out to us and restores us. It's like the father in the parable of the lost son... His forgiveness and mercy are forever, his compassions do not fail. He longs for relationship with us even more than we desire to know and be known by Him.

My prayer for this Ramadan season is that as my Muslim friends fast and pray and work towards true submission, that they will find the open arms of a loving and merciful Father waiting for them. I pray they will know Him, see Him, hear Him, experience Him personally and deeply... that they will find in Him all the peace and hope and freedom He has to offer.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


I saw Captain America last weekend. I loved the story... Steve Rogers is just this skinny, little guy with no physical strength or intimidation, but a lion heart of incredible power because he longs for justice for the oppressed. When he is transformed, he has this great scene in which he runs faster and further than he ever has before, jumps higher and punches harder than he ever could before. His heart is the same - he still longs for justice and fights for good to triumph - but now he is infused with this incredible power that gives action to passion. He's able to fight and defeat evil, rescue the prisoners, and fulfill the things that were in his heart.

In training, we talked one day about spiritual gifts, particularly the motivational gifts discussed in Romans 12. These are gifts that God gives us at birth, and we realized they are our superpowers. The thing is, we don't usually know the power we have right away. We have these hearts that long for things, long for different forms of greatness and power. When we give our lives to Jesus, He starts to direct those longings in ways that fall in line with his own desires. And as we walk with him, He begins to show us the powers He put in us, now hyper-injected with his Spirit. When we trust him, He gives us opportunities to try out our powers, flex our wings, stretch our muscles, and see just how fast we can run without growing weary, how far we can walk without growing faint.

We may say, "I'm only a teacher," or "All I do is serve behind the scenes," but when we have the Holy Spirit, we are so much more. We truly have superpowers that give action to the passion in our hearts. We are well-equipped to fight evil and bring victory and hope... and what greater superpower is there than that?

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Illustration by Andrew Chandler