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Huskies and Psalm 103 and asking God for more

Ordinarily, the last week of October and the first week of November are two of the best but hardest weeks of the year.

This year they were only the best.
The thing is that most often, when good things happen, there’s a chunk of my brain that reminds me of the fact that eventually more hard things will happen. It’s called foreboding joy. (Brene Brown taught me that)
So every year while I’m enjoying the MLB postseason and the last week of football practice and the whole day of the CIU Bowl and the fall colors that have finally sprung up, I’m also feeling frantic and sad about soon not getting to play a sport for another year, changing the clocks back and having to put twice the effort into finding time to run, cold weather coming, and five months without baseball.
Then a surprising number of good things happened the last week of October, more than the ones that were already planned, and I was(still am) too busy thanking God for all of them to even wonder when it will get hard again.

October felt like it lasted three months because I was so excitedly waiting to go to the beach at the end of it. This short trip was sandwiched between these two beautiful weeks, so Jesus and I had a lot to talk about.
That Sunday morning I woke up to watch the sunrise, and I walked about two miles counting how many of my favorite things he’d given me the week before and all the ones that were right in front of me…and then I said “Can I have more? I can’t seriously have more…” And then I looked up and there’s a HUSKY walking down the beach in front of me. An actual real live husky.
(Virtually everyone reading this knows I want a dog as badly as every other woman my age wants a baby. But huskies and German shepherds get me a whole other level of jumping and squealing)
I looked at the sky and laughed out loud. I mean I was already at the beach, in idyllic weather, wearing my Red Sox hoodie and bursting with joy over all of it. It was close enough to perfect. God had already given me so much and didn’t need to give me anything more; it was like he just wanted to show off how much he likes me and wants to give me good things. I said to him, “I feel like my favorite things are raining from the sky,” and then it literally started to pour down rain. Because rain is my favorite too. It was truly perfect and I’m still laughing about it now.

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After a bad bout of depression that lasted for most of August and all of September, I had set out on a mission to make October better. But I couldn’t have even tried to plan everything God did.

I think God is a good, good Father who loves to give us good things and he’s delighted to hear us trust him enough to ask him for more. My default reaction when he surprises me like this is to briefly thank him(mostly so he’ll see how good I am and that I deserve the good)and then turn to white-knuckling said gifts and wondering how long they’ll last and when I might get another one.
I want that to change. I want to respond to all his gifts(big or small, dire needs or little wants) like the husky on the beach in the rain. Praising him for the goodness that led him to give it to me, more than for the specific gift. Believing that there’s more coming. Asking for more.
Trusting him like this will take practice…I’m pretty deep in the habit of anxiously begging him for the bare minimum rather than joyfully asking him to bless me.

I’ve been soaking in these verses for a few months now and my heart is finally catching on to the truth.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
(Psalm 103:2-5)

He satisfies me with good. Not always the exact good that I may ask for(I can pretty confidently say that if I asked him for my own husky right now, I would not find one on my porch tomorrow), but always the best good.

So the smaller point is: Whatever your personal husky on a beach in the rain is…ask God for it today. He loves you and he’s fully capable of surprising you and he wants to give you good things.
And then…ask him for more. Because he always has more and he never stops wanting to give it.

And the big point is: God IS good. The best. Even if he says no to every other good thing you ask him for…and he’ll only say no if he has something better…you still get HIM. You have all you need in him. The Giver is bigger than the gift, and he’s never leaving or changing. Neither are those Psalm 103 gifts.

It’s all good.

…indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. (Psalm 16:6b)

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God actually gave me everything

The short story of how I ended up in my church family is that when I was in Cambodia, I got typhoid fever, and while I was lying in bed recovering, I was scrolling Twitter and saw that Brandon had recently posted that Midtown was planting a church in Lexington.

The long story starts my sophomore year of college and continues through the fall of 2015. That’s not what I’m writing about today.

Recently I pulled out all of my journals from the World Race and reread them from beginning to end, and found myself sobbing as I read my prayers from months 10 and 11 about what I hoped post-Race life held for me.

Because God answered every. single. one. All through this unbelievably close to perfect church.

In my re-entry packet I wrote that the most important thing was finding a church. “Community before a career” was what I told myself and anyone who asked what my “Month 12” plans were. I wanted both of course, but I knew that after eleven months of living and serving with people who loved Jesus and each other and the world, I couldn’t live without that. But I was so afraid that a community like F Squad could never exist in “real life”, that this was the best that life would get. I thought I’d peaked at 23.

It’ll be two years tomorrow, and these people are it. God outdid himself. Life finally got better.

Our sermon series right now is breaking down exactly what we mean when we call ourselves a “Jesus-centered family on mission.” Last Sunday it occurred to me that that’s also exactly what my World Race squad was. I told God I needed to find F Squad in America and he dropped them right into my lap.

Midtown loves everything I love. Living real life together. Ministering in small, ordinary ways. Loving the people around you in practical ways. Speaking the gospel everywhere. Equipping families to disciple their kids. Preaching hard truth about hard places in life. They even love orphans and foster care. Seriously. Everything.

Getting here was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I did it because God kept promising me that it would be the best thing…and it was still hard for two months but I kept going and when I finally broke and told my Lifegroup as fast as I could in one long breath “The thing is that I have severe social anxiety that borders on agoraphobia and I CANNOT come on Sunday mornings,” not one person asked why I’m this way or how they could change me. All of them all at once said things like “How can we help? Can we walk inside with you? Or drive you there?” And the first time they ever heard me say more than three words quickly became the first time they saw me cry, because how could these practical strangers hear how irreparably weird I was and still want so badly to have me around them that they’d do anything to make me not scared?
They did exactly what they offered; for months people would either pick me up from my house, or wait in the parking lot and walk me from my car into the big crowd of strangers, and then stand around me like the Secret Service men so nothing could get me. No one thought I was ridiculous or ever asked when I’d be ready to go in by myself or hinted that I was any kind of a burden. Even today if I have a rare and random relapse and can’t go inside, they’ll still jump to help like this is a totally normal issue.
It’s still not easy or natural to talk to people I’m not already friends with, but it’s easier and I can do it now, because I want to love everyone the way my original Lifegroup loved me and welcomed me.

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I still have no idea where life is going career wise, but that still matters less to me than my people. It does matter more than it did two years ago…but when I do get stressed out and sad about that, I’ve got people who care and want to see things get better.
A job that sounds adult-like at parties isn’t as important as friends who see me and know me and love me and want me, and pastors who love their church and are vulnerable and do real life with their people, and a place to serve that gets me excited to wake up on Sundays.

Most people hate Mondays because they don’t want to go back to work; I only hate Mondays because it’s the furthest day of the week from another Sunday.

I love you, Midtown Lexington. Happy 2 years going on 20.

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It has pockets

Yesterday I saw this picture.
pockets

And I laughed. Because I never realized that anyone but me did this. (Really though, how can you not point this out? It’s important. POCKETS. There are hardly ever pockets. When there are, they need to be celebrated)

Then I scrolled through the comments and found dozens of people also saying “I thought this was just me,” and I laughed even more.

Sometimes you don’t even realize you needed a “Me too” until you hear it.

I’m not the only one.
Neither are you.
We should all say so, because nobody should be left to believe they’re alone.

And yes, there was a point when this post stopped being about the pockets.

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Thoughts on forgiving and being loved

Recently I found this that I wrote in my journal a year ago: Jesus has felt a deeper shame than any of us ever will, because when he was on the cross holding all of our sin(the past, present, and future sins of the WHOLE WORLD), God LITERALLY turned his back on him. We just FEEL like God can’t look at us when we’ve sinned…but it’s not true. Because of Jesus. God looks us right in the eye and sees Jesus. Always. No matter how deep we’re buried in sin. Because of Jesus. None of it’s because of me.

A few weeks ago my Lifegroup was studying Psalm 103.
Most of us have heard verses 11-12 by themselves. This time verse 10 hit me.

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

And then verse 11 begins with “For…” which means it must connect with verse 10…

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; (12) as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

God doesn’t forgive us because we deserve it. Or because we apologized enough times or did enough good things to outweigh the wrong. He forgives us because he loves us.
If God, the perfect sinless God of the universe, can love us that much, horrible selfish sinful crazy humans, and love us enough to save us and forgive us…can’t we love other people that way too?

Of course we can. We should. We have to. If all of us who say we’ve been loved and forgiven like this would love and forgive everyone around us in the same way, think how much easier it would be for them to believe that God loves them even more than that?

That’s what it takes. That’s how the world will change. Not everyone has to turn their life upside down and move across the world, but all of us have to love whoever God’s put around us.

And that’s hard to do when you aren’t letting yourself receive love and grace from Jesus. If you’re striving for perfection and trying to earn the grace that Jesus already bought for you, if you’re spending all your energy proving that you’re worthy of love, people aren’t going to see Jesus in you. They’ll see the same frantic, imperfect version of love that the rest of the world has to offer.

Jesus didn’t die for us so that we could accept it and say, “Thank you, now watch me pay you back for it!” It’s a gift. He died so we could be free. (see Galatians 5:1, Ephesians 2:8-9, and probably several others)
This kind of love is something to rest in. We don’t have to strive for it or worry about losing it. When we’re loving people from a place like that, that’s when Jesus shines out of us.

I’m talking to me more than anyone else. I don’t do any of this perfectly, or very well at all. These are all places where I’ve been painfully convicted lately and where I’m praying for God to grow me now, and sometimes I think out loud in case I’m not the only one who needs it.

Your life is a thank you note. Not a payment plan. Jesus took care of the bill. You just pass on all the goodness he’s given you and show others how to get in on it.

He’s good. So good. The best.

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Oh happy October

I can’t remember exactly when I chose the Red Sox as my team(just sometime in elementary school), and I don’t remember at all why, but I know exactly when I fell in love with baseball.
I always liked the idea of it(I think I started claiming it as my favorite sport the first time I watched Daniel play t-ball, when I was three or four), but this is when it became my favorite thing.

It was October 2003 and it was the first time I’d ever watched the entire postseason. I was a kid and didn’t have my own TV, plus when you live in the south and don’t get cable you NEVER get a chance to watch baseball whether you want to or not. We didn’t have smartphones and apps that let you pull every game out of your pocket.
I’d been to minor league games before(because what’s now the Greenville Drive used to be the Capital City Bombers, and they used to be in the Mets’ farm system, not the Red Sox) and loved them. But this is when my dad really taught me how to watch the game, and I actually understood it and was so proud of myself. I still can’t understand any other sport; everything in baseball always makes sense.
And whatever reason I’d had for picking the Red Sox before, now I loved them because my dad insisted they couldn’t win and I believed they could. I was right…for a while. I threw a tantrum like a five year old when my mom made me go to bed before the end of ALCS game 7, and an even bigger one when she told me the next morning that the Red Sox lost. I chose the Cubs(I wasn’t allowed to like the Braves, because Dad said that Ted Turner didn’t like Christians. I didn’t want to like them either way because everyone in the south likes them)…and they lost their LCS too…but I couldn’t cheer for the Yankees in the World Series, so I grudgingly picked the Marlins, and watching the Yankees lose somewhat made up for not getting to see my team win.

And so I became addicted to October. Especially after the next October, when we won the most impossible series that had ever been won, the first win that Boston had seen in 86 years.
I like October better than Christmas. Me on the day after the World Series ends is like anyone else in America on December 26th.

When I came home from the World Race, all I had was Jesus and baseball. I was jet lagged and stayed up all night reading news and watching highlight videos and learning everything about every other team, and then I had PTSD and depression and threw all my feelings into games and it was one of the only things that made me feel alive. We ended the season in the basement of our division, but it didn’t matter; it was almost like a mirror of where I was at in life at the time.

It’s lonely being a baseball fan in the south. But I like what I like, and I can like it by myself…and I can also be happily surprised whenever I meet someone else like me.

October is TOMORROW! Cue the Green Day jokes…and the Christmas Eve level of excitement.

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Okay Jesus.

(Recently I realized how often I begin big and important prayers with this phrase, and how much it sounds like “Okay Google”. I laughed.)

The past three weeks haven’t been my favorites.
Sometimes when life is surprisingly wonderful for a while, I start to panic because I know it won’t last forever. This time I didn’t. I felt such a solid peace that I was hardly even aware of it.
And then suddenly everything got dark again. I was not at all prepared. (Depression is stupid. And unreasonable. I don’t like it.)

Wednesday night I started feeling better just as suddenly.
Ever since then, I’ve had this song stuck in my head.

Whatever you’re doing inside of me
It feels like chaos, but I believe
You’re up to something bigger than me
Larger than life, something heavenly.

Y’all. We’re terribly small.
That’s hard to remember.
And God is so big and so good.

Almost a year ago, when I had that complete mental collapse and my friends forced me to go to Recovery because they didn’t know how else to keep me alive, they would constantly tell me “We love you, and we’ll still love you even if you never get better.” Even if you never get better.

So, Friday morning I woke up, still feeling mostly better, still so confused as to how things got so bad so fast in these past weeks, and I was done. As in, done waiting to get better and stay better forever. Not done with life. Calm down.

“Okay Jesus. I trust you even if I never get better.”

In the past I’ve only ever thanked him for getting me out of another episode and then begged him to never let me fall in the hole again.
But I flipped the script because my brain is broken, and we live in a broken world, and I’m very possibly going to deal with this forever. I may have months or even years without a bit of anxiety or depression, and I may struggle every February, and I may actually be better for good this time. None of that is the point because it’s not where my hope comes from.
Hope isn’t found in never going through another dark season on earth; hope is knowing that Jesus already suffered worse than I ever will, so that someday I can spend an eternity with him where there’s no more pain. No matter how much pain or joy my tiny little life down here holds, none of it will touch what Jesus has stored up for me when it’s over.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.
It doesn’t say “In the absence of pain you may have peace.” He says “in me.” And he says we WILL have troubles. BUT it doesn’t matter because he’s already beaten it all for us. (read the whole chapter if you have a minute. It’s full of this stuff)
Your struggles don’t contradict God’s goodness.

I don’t know how to finish this because I don’t usually write from the middle. I wait til things are finished and sound good and look like a story that people want to read.
Being vulnerable is probably more helpful.

I also can’t write a post without using the word “I.” I’ll never be Ann Voskamp. This needs to be okay.

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My brain needed exercise.

What animal would be cutest if it was scaled down to the size of a cat?
An elephant. I love elephants the most even when they’re big but if it was cat-sized, I could realistically have one of my own.

What movie can you watch over and over without getting tired of?
Ocean’s Eleven. Hoodwinked. Mean Girls.
(It should be noted that none of these are in my top ten favorites. There can be too much of a good thing; my favorites are deeper and heavier and need to be savored only once in a while. The above three are a few of many that I love but can watch every single day for a long time)

What’s the spiciest thing you’ve ever eaten?
A terrible frozen meal in Thailand; we obviously couldn’t read Thai and our host(who was Filipino) looked it over in the market and thought it said mild. It was not.

What are you interested in that most people are not?
Baseball.

What movie quotes do you use on a regular basis?
I sing “okay byyyyyye” from Frozen every time I leave my house, and whenever someone else leaves either “Bye Buddy, hope you find your dad!” or “Have fun storming the castle!” and if you ever happen to eat mashed potatoes with my family, someone will say “These mashed potatoes are so creamy” in a Chicago accent.
I’ll wait for people to identify those last three movies.

What’s the most ironic thing you’ve ever seen happen?
A biker who got hit by a Dodge

What movie, picture or video makes you smile or laugh every time you see it?
Oh gosh always this…

What artist or band do you always recommend when someone asks you to suggest new music?
The Oh Hellos, or depending how well I know you, Mike Mains and the Branches. Never any of my absolute favorite bands unless we’re very very very good friends and don’t live together.

What’s the most pleasant sounding accent?
Wherever Jack Davenport’s from

What’s the funniest word in the English language?
Farctate. It’s an adjective meaning “full,” but it sounds like a verb or an expletive, so we use it as both in my house.

What’s the weirdest food combination that you like?
At Moe’s whenever I get a kid’s meal, I dip my cookie in my queso. (I’ve been doing it for ten years and was so happy when I started working there and found that our catering manager does the same thing)

What did you last Google?
“How to embed Youtube video in WordPress”

What’s the most annoying noise?
Snoring, closely followed by people chewing with their mouth open.

What odd smell do you really enjoy?
My soccer jerseys after a game.
And I guess clothes that I’ve worn at a campfire, but I don’t think that one’s odd. If they made campfire scented perfume I’d buy it in bulk.

What always cheers you up when you think of it?
Hippos and yellow birds

What two things are terrible when separate but great when you put them together?
Chocolate and milk

What’s your favorite holiday movie?
Die Hard

Just kidding. It’s a Wonderful Life. But Die Hard is absolutely a Christmas movie, and it’s in my top five.

What seemingly innocent question makes you think “It’s a trap!”
“What are you doing this weekend?”

What have you eaten so much of that you now hate it?
Nutella, except I don’t hate it, I’d just only eat it anymore if I had nothing else to eat.

What’s your “and then it got worse” story?
The time in that public restroom on the way to Thailand. But I only tell that story in person.

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26 goals for 26

I’ve been dreading my birthday since January.
25 is the last time that getting older gets you a reward(the ability to rent a car, and a whopping $9 off my car insurance).
26 just sounds old. 25 sounded perfect. Just old enough to be absolutely not young, but just young enough to not FEEL old. But 26? No. That’s older than any Camp La Vida staffer I’ve ever worked with and that’s not okay.

And I just don’t like the number 26; it’s Wade Boggs’ number and it shouldn’t have been retired, because he finished his career with the evil empire and that negates every good thing he ever did for us.

26 is the 20-something equivalent of turning 19. But my 19th birthday was the best birthday I’ve ever had, so it makes sense that 26 topped it.
The other day it struck me that since there are 26 letters in the alphabet, this gives me SO much potential for list making.

So if you’re still reading and wanted to continue, here’s the most important of several lists(don’t worry, I’ll only publish this one, and one more later).

26 Goals for 26-year-old Linda
Because a couple years ago I started making New Years resolutions on my birthday instead of on January 1st. [like this one] This year I couldn’t think of one big goal to work on, so I’m making 26 small ones. And I’m lettering them instead of numbering them, because this is the only year that I can.
(Also some of these are things I’ve done before, and many are things I want/need to start doing and do multiple times. If you’re thinking of a bucket list, this isn’t one)

A. Leave the country
B. See the Red Sox in two new ballparks(Rogers Centre for sure, and then either Nats Park or Citi Field; we play the NL East in 2018 so there are plenty of easily doable ones)
C. Read 35 books(if I can read 54 on the World Race, I can do this)
D. Read a whole Harry Potter book in Spanish(a better test of fluency than Duolingo)
E. Run a race longer than a 5k
F. Write something important
G. Find an offseason hobby(I’m a really boring person from November to March)
H. Run 100 miles(I made a resolution to run 365 miles in 2017; I’ve run 12. I’m being more realistic now)
I. Watch The Bucket List
J. Memorize the first 4 chapters of Mark(because I want to learn the whole book by my 30th birthday and there are 16 chapters)
K. Eat at Flight Deck(because how have I lived here for ten years and never been there?)
L. Go to a Blowfish game(because again, ten years and not once)
M. Watch a whole season of Friday Night Lights(I want to like it, I’ve tried so hard to)
N. Complete half of this list(because Jon Acuff always says to cut your goal in half)
O. Sell that bridesmaid dress I’ve been meaning to get rid of for two years
P. Make more of an effort to like football(it’s lonely being a baseball fan in the south; football opens up more conversations)
Q. Write to my Compassion child at least four times
R. Learn to cook something new(alfredo sauce and Linda Brownies aren’t enough to live off of)
S. Visit at least one new state
T. Go on a date
U. Write at least one blog post a month…preferably two or three, but again we’re going for realistic over ambitious.
V. Stop letting anxiety keep me from going to things; unless I know for a fact that zero friends will be there, I have to go and I will be all right. (Maybe I’ll tackle wading into a hoard of strangers with no life boats when I’m 27. Or 30. Or maybe never…I’m not Wonder Woman and I need to accept this)
W. Save more money
X. Spend more time reading books than reading my Facebook feed
Y. Go to the beach(it’s been way too long)
Z. Work out at 5am ONE time(so that Abby and Brittany can stop asking me to ;) )

stories about life and God · stories about Midtown

A weird and beautiful gift

This post has lived in my heart for a while, but I always thought I’d wait to really write it when I’m older and wiser and able to be taken seriously. (which used to be my way of saying “married”)

Yesterday I decided I need to write this now, because no single person takes any married person seriously when they say this. (Don’t tell me you’ve never rolled your eyes at a well-meaning friend who’s telling the truth but also has the gift of hindsight)

And, final sidebar before I actually start saying things: if I told you how much I love pizza, you wouldn’t assume I was saying “I never want to eat ANYTHING but pizza forever”, would you? Of course not, so bear that in mind.

Singleness is really and truly a gift.
(Remember what I said about pizza. Do not hear me say I want only pizza forever. I am not writing this to declare any plan or desire to live and die eating nothing but pizza. Also this is a metaphor, if that wasn’t hilariously obvious)

I didn’t always believe this. I obviously learned it the long and hard way, partly because this is a long and hard truth for almost anyone to grasp, but mostly because I learn everything the long and hard way.

I’ve wanted to get married since I was five. I remember regularly praying out loud to God at bedtime to please not let me die until I got married, and I remember a Sunday school teacher asking me once what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said “Somebody’s wife.”

Somehow in high school I was oddly wise and knew that there was no point in dating until I was grown up and knew where my life was going, which was my totally naïve term for “in college.”

Because in my sweet and innocent mind, I fully assumed that marriage was an obvious and guaranteed step in the not-terribly-far future. Until my sophomore year of college when I transferred to CIU and was suddenly surrounded by worthwhile guys…and, none of them wanted me. I was the girl that guys talked to about sports and occasionally borrowed a 3-hole puncher from(nobody else on campus had one; word spread quickly). Majoring in youth ministry and minoring in the friend zone.

From here God would very, very slowly mold and break and rebuild me and my ideas about life and marriage and where I found my joy and identity. In three stages, because again, I learn the hard way.

#1-Singleness as a burden and marriage as the reward for carrying it

Throughout college the thing I struggled with the most was that I wanted a good thing. Never in my whole life, even when I was young and unreasonable, had I seriously liked a guy who didn’t love Jesus or who made me feel bad about myself or who my brother didn’t like. And since I was asking for inherently good things, I couldn’t fathom why God wouldn’t give them to me right this minute.
Thankfully God loves me too much to give me everything I ask for.

Looking back I know that while I was waiting for God to send me a guy so I could feel whole and right and content with life, he was protecting my well-meaning but misguided heart by not letting any of those otherwise good guys pursue me, because I would have let go of a lot of other good things for what I thought was the best thing.

#2-Singleness as the station and marriage as the train that would take me places
Then I was a bridesmaid for one of my friends…where I cried through half the ceremony and most of my drive home, because I just wanted what Kristin was getting. I got home and crawled into bed, sobbing to God that I just needed to know WHY I still had to wait. And while he didn’t give me a bulleted schedule like I’d prefer, I remember that I’d never felt so sad while also feeling so loved and full, like crying with a friend who’s listened to my pain for years and completely understands what I want and wants it for me. I’d known since I was fourteen that I wanted whoever he wanted for me, but this was the first time I started to want my dreams whenever God wanted.

 I started my third semester of senior year and interviewed for the World Race, and when I was accepted, I had to commit to stay single from that day until the end of month 11. I was mostly fine with this; if I had a guy waiting for me back home I’d never survive. And also because, though I had no idea of this at the time, I believed deep down that this was my last hurdle as a single person and God would practically have my future husband waiting at the airport when I got back to the US.

Right before training camp, I was talking to one of those guy friends who’d always talked to me about sports and borrowed that 3-hole puncher once. And then we kept talking.

We talked now and then throughout the World Race, more and more as I got closer to coming home. Then one night in my eleventh and final month, he told me he liked me and I said me too, and half my heart checked out for the last two weeks of the richest year of my life.

I landed in the US, jet lagged and aimless and begging God for a plan, hoping it would involve this boy. He was supposed to take me on a date two days after I got home. Instead he canceled the night before, then passively rejected me and broke my heart.

Apparently, I thought I was strong and independent and only needed Jesus to approve of me…but I was wrong, because this flawed human boy still had the power to crush me. Which painfully proved that I still saw a relationship as the goal and Jesus as a temporary comfort.

#3-Singleness as a gift and marriage as a gift and Jesus as everything*
After five dark months and so much wrestling with God, I was somehow able to get connected to Midtown and got placed in a Lifegroup with all married people. Which at first I thought was a cruel joke on God’s part but I quickly found out that married friends are actually the best.(more on that here)

Fast forward another year and five months, to March of this year, on Midtown’s family vacation. I’d expected to feel out of place all weekend and spend most of the time wishing I had what all my friends had. But I never once felt different or weird, just loved and at home and more like myself than I’d felt in two years, and I decided that I’m in my favorite season.

As much as I love making more married friends, I always thank God for the rare and delightful opportunity to make a single friend(it’s like driving past a Lambo), so I’d ridden up that weekend with our Lifegroup’s babysitter who I’d had exactly one conversation with before. (This is important because new people normally terrify me; God needed me to meet her) On the drive home we were talking about not having families and how that gives us really unique ways to serve a church full of couples and kids, and how we get to learn so much from all of them, and Stephanie said she’s thankful to be single and I said “ME TOO”, so excited to have found someone else who felt that way…and then I laughed at myself because I hadn’t noticed when I started believing that. But I knew as I said it that I really, truly, finally had landed in that beautiful place of pure joy and contentment, and I knew I’d been sitting there for a while without even realizing it.

The best part is knowing what a good thing this is while I actually still have it. I’m not saying that singleness is better than marriage; I think they’re both equally awesome, but also really different, and most people(hopefully including me) get to experience both. I don’t want to waste one season wishing for the other because this is what Jesus has given me today and I’m going to thank him for it and squeeze every bit of joy out of it that I can. And I’ll do the same with whatever he gives me tomorrow because he only gives me good things.

For now I get all this extra time to watch all these good marriages around me and learn from them, and I get to spontaneously do things on weeknights because I have no one to rush home for, and I get to give date nights to my friends because I don’t have my own kids to hang out with so I’m always glad to borrow theirs, and I can serve in Kidtown all the time because I never need a break from kids…I could go on. Marriage will come with its own set of blessings, if it comes.

I still want the same things I’ve always wanted…but more than anything I want Jesus and I want to say yes to him, and I never want to slip back into believing that I need anything else to complete me because I’ve already wasted enough years on that ugly white lie.
If I end up married, I’ll thank him and praise him, and if I stay where I am forever, I’ll thank him and praise him. Because I still get HIM.

He’s enough for you too and he’s bigger than anything else you’ve wanted before. Don’t waste all your joy right now because you think marriage will give you even more. And even if you do get married eventually, it’ll still be Jesus who completes you; you never outgrow needing him, and until you stop running from that truth and start resting in it, you’ll never be fully content even if every other desire you have is fulfilled.
He is infinitely enough.

And in case you forgot…this is coming from a single person.

 

*I debated on saying “singleness as chips and queso, and marriage as the meal,” because at Mexican restaurants I never notice how long it takes for my order to come as long as they don’t stop bringing me chips, and then I love my tacos just as much as the chips…different but equally great.

If you want more, because there are a lot of not even slightly helpful articles about singleness out there, here are a few great things that other people wrote over the years that helped me arrive at this point.
~My squad mentor from the World Race on being single in your late 20s; this one is at 29, but in there you’ll find links to 26, 27 and 28. She’s the dang best(and she is ENGAGED!)
~On never using the phrase “at least”
~On not waiting for marriage to make your life complete
~The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas is my favorite and most practical book I’ve ever read for single people.
~The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller
~And, as much as I joke about this book now, I have to credit I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Josh Harris for starting this ball rolling when I was fourteen. It’s a mildly extreme view, but it has very solid roots.

Uncategorized

My car is in park

This first small section was written on October 27th and it was originally called Standing Still Is Hard. Today when I started to write about super similar things, I remembered that I never finished it.
———-
Think of all the roads, think of all their crossings
Taking steps is easy, standing still is hard.
Remember all their faces, remember all their voices
Everything is different the second time around.
-Ever wise Regina Spektor.

I wonder if it’s a personality thing, because I know a few people who would much rather stand still than go places, but those words certainly tell a harsh truth to my ADD heart.

Today, I’ve been in the same place for a year. I have the exact same friends, I work the exact same job, and I live in the exact same house.

I don’t think I expected this. My brain isn’t trained for permanence. As an adult I’ve never stayed anywhere for this long. I never had the same roommate in college or lived on the same hall, so I’d spend nine months with one group of people, spend the summer with a new staff and each of those weeks with a new set of campers, then repeat. Then I graduated and went on the World Race, where I moved to a new country every month and lived with three different seven-person teams within my squad of forty-three.

Roots are a very foreign concept to me.
I thought about it all day at work and decided that I’d have an existential crisis if my parents ever sell our house. I can go anywhere I want as long as it’s possible to come back home.

Everything is different the second time around…
I think I like different. All I’ve ever wanted is for things to stay the same, but now that I got my wish, maybe I take it back. (As I have with almost everything I’ve ever gotten that I’ve ever claimed to want)
—————
Now it’s today. June 16th.
I tried to move after I wrote that. To Texas, Georgia, Greenville or Ecuador.
Yes. Actually filled out applications. Actually looked at plane tickets. Actually begged God to take me away to anywhere but here.

Going and doing are easy to say yes to. Staying and being are hard.

I’ve always liked for things to move fast. It’s all I’m used to. So it felt like something was wrong, for me to not be going anywhere new or meeting any new people after a year. It felt like I was finally putting down roots, and the deeper they grew, the more I knew it would hurt when they were pulled up, and I was doing everything I could to avoid that pain.

My life from the ages of 18-23 was nothing but God planting me, digging me up, and re-planting me, over and over and over.
Not long after my 24th birthday was when I ended up here, and I spent most of the first year bracing myself for the moment when God would dig me up again…but it hasn’t come yet.

The other day I was in the drive thru at McDonalds and it was taking forever. I kept wanting to put my car in park, but I knew as soon as I did, the cars in front of me would finally move.

That’s how 25 has felt; if I park my life here, how soon will God tell me to go somewhere new?

Not for a while this time. My hypothetical car isn’t just in park; I’ve cut the engine off and gotten out. I’m fully living my life with the people God’s given me, not just sitting in the car and talking through my safe windows, prepared to drive off at any second.
And I’m not even worried anymore about when he might tell me to get back in the car and drive again, because he’s never taken anything from me without giving me something better.

I’m at peace with the roots. Maybe when God’s the one who put them down, not me, it doesn’t hurt so much to have them pulled back up.
Or maybe(hopefully?), these are for real roots and I get to stay this time.

Now that I’ve actually typed that sentence I’m mildly terrified that God will send me across the world next week.
I think I need to stop writing and publish this quick before I stop trusting him.