I don't talk that much about my singleness. Because I feel like it's stupid.
Okay, so I don't think being single is stupid. I really enjoy my freedom. I don't, as a general rule, think I'm stupid. But in a world where social media has turned everything into a platform, I'm certainly not going to aim to be the one who's STILL single and turn it into some sort of norm or non-norm. Because when you frame it that way, well, doesn't it make it seem more extreme? Like you're trying to prove something?
Anyways, I also don't always think to share my inner workings freely unless I sense that a story in my own journey might meet someone where they are in order to encourage, explain something I just said, or intentionally remember the great lengths from which I've come. I like personal settings. That's just me. So taking the time to write this with no one around except the laptop-a-teers at the coffee shop and no one particularly in mind, it's kind of weird.
But for some reason I've got a strong motivation - I'm convinced it's not my own idea - to share. Maybe it's one too many (well-intentioned) questions. Maybe its because I see a culture obsessed with romance, other halves 'completing' us, and happily ever afters not working out happily ever after. Maybe it's a personal declaration of faith, and choosing to share more publicly what I am personally trusting God to engineer in my life. And maybe it's to encourage someone feeling stuck or frustrated.
First, I've got NOTHING against romance. I dream of it just like most everyone else. I've got a high level of anticipation for when it does come! And I have so many friends who are so very grateful to be in fulfilling marriages. But I want to learn how to view it rightly, so that when my other romance comes along I'm not grievously disappointed by an expectation unfulfilled. And I hear from them that it's not always easy. (That first Romance btw = the Only One ever to come to the planet to so fiercely champion the fight to win my heart with kindness, honesty and extravagance.) Growing up in a culture that elevates romance as the climax of success, the ultimate of achievements, puts billions of dollars into the production of it, and probably that much in cleaning up the shards of broken hearts landing in divorce, counseling, addictions, you name it, I just don't really get on the bandwagon that it's the ultimate success in life. Call me crazy in a world that says differently, but I can't handle the thought of throwing my heart around like a basketball, shooting for hoop after hoop, just to get a delicate beating organ smashed against the backboard of disappointment time and time again, reclaiming something in need of dire medical care. My heart isn't a basketball. And neither is yours.
My story is probably pretty standard. Divorced parents. Splitting a life between well-intentioned parents. Always knowing something was off - broken - not the way it should be. Always looking around at my surroundings to know where I was and how to get home. I don't think I ever felt comfortable most anywhere, if I'm being truly honest. I was afraid to offend, break the rules, do anything that would send anyone over the edge (which did happen), have an opinion other than anyone else's, and trust was never easily earned. I just want to be clear. I'm not here to blame anyone for anything. I'm here to tell my story in honesty the best that I can in order to explain my journey. I carried huge amounts of shame for things like my appearance, the fact that we didn't have a lot, my inability to think quickly on my feet, my lack of charisma, my inability to be liked and wanted. I felt as though I was always coming in second when I wanted to come in first as someone else's pursuit. Right? That's what we all want? To be wanted? Knowingly or unknowingly I don't know, but early on I made a vow in my heart that I would never get a divorce. In my heart, my very young and impressionable heart, that was the pain of all pains. Because it couldn't be fixed. I would never have a normal life because of it. And I wouldn't put myself through that. Growing up I would watch all the romantic comedy movies, watch all the friends dating, and while deeply longing for it, disassociated my heart from believing that it could ever actually happen for me because of the risk. So my heart never developed a healthy belief system that would bring about the life that I truly desired.
I know I'm rounding a corner here, but this is necessary in telling my story. Something I realized several years back is that the beliefs in my heart - that deep, deep place where the triggers are, where the feelings come from, where the deep-seated, life-steering values lie - they needed to be seriously changed. I didn't realize it at the time, but all those years of watching Disney happy-ending-with-no-hard-work-in-developing-lasting-relationships movies, going back and forth between life with my mom and life with my dad and making silent vows in my heart, seeing girls get chased and won over by the boys I thought were cool, I waited for someone to come along and fix the problems, rescue me from the bad feelings and the insecurities. But I'm responsible for my heart. I'm the only one who houses it. No one else.
Here's a quote from my friend Krissy Miles this last week,
"Everything that you reap in your life starts as a seed that's been planted in your heart."
This is several years ago now, but a friend was explaining the process of identifying incorrect beliefs in her heart. She realized that very week that there was roadblock to her seeing the fulfillment of becoming a mother in what she really believed. She shared, "When I would daydream and imagine what it be like to finally become a mother and have my child in my home, in my heart I actually saw myself incapable of expressing any love or value to my child. And when I realized this, I took it immediately to the Lord and asked him to help me change this belief in my heart!" This is a person I NEVER would have imagined that coming from, but saw fully capable as expressing love and value to her own family. But it was a light-bulb example. It taught me that no matter what I may say I believe, there have been seeds planted in my heart that have been there for a long, long time. It helped me realize how to catch myself in moments when my mind would drift to places that exposed painful and negative beliefs from within my heart. Not that long after she shared that process, I realized that in my imaginings of my married future, I saw myself married but entirely DESPISED. Even as I was thinking about it, I felt not good enough, unloveable, unwanted. Utterly despised. Not divorced. But probably worse than that. I could go into more details about why I think that is, but that's not the point I'm trying to make. We won't be free of the crap until we're ready to walk out of it and just leave it there, not picking up the threads that connect to so many other sordid threads.
I'd like to share a handful of beliefs I've realized I had along the journey and have taken time to bring to the Lord and ask for His help in changing them in my heart. Coming back quickly to the mention of phrases like, "You complete me." and "You're my better half." I think the intention of those things are sweet. I'm not here to rail against them. But I've come to the conclusion that If I really believe that I am a new creation, the kind referred to in second Corinthians, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" - if I really believe that I am IN CHRIST, then I am 100% complete. 100% whole. 100% healed. Going back the basics, I received a RIGHT spirit within me - His Spirit. But he didn't physically give me a new mind or body. Unfortunately, I'm not always IN Christ in my thinking. I've still got the old beliefs written on my heart. I'm always going to have to be aligning my mind and thoughts with His truth. That's a never-ending-on-this-planet process. I have feelings that get hurt. Triggers that, when pulled, hurl me into feelings of insufficiency, fear, pain and anger. We all do. But if I'm 100% whole, I don't need a half to complete me, right? Getting married to the man of my dreams won't make me complete. (But just to be clear, it WILL make me super excited! I've been praying for that guy for yeeeeeears.)
Heart Belief #2 : I was W A I T I N G to be married in order to have value. I also believed I had to W A I T to be married in order to start living the life I really wanted. It was evident in the way I saw myself, put so much value on the 'someday' and not this day. Today I'm really annoyed with this part. I'm a pretty patient person, in general, but I never thought my independent self would really believe that! This world is an amazing place with so much to do, explore and learn. But obviously in the deep places of my heart, my heart belief was that I couldn't start enjoying life or start fulfilling my God-purposed design fully until I was married. BULL! Right now I'm feeling a twinge of regret for catching this belief so late in the game. But better late than never! And it's a belief that I will continue to change to make me feel HIS truth -- living the fullest life is for TODAY:
"Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory." - Romans 5:1-2
Heart Belief #3 - I believed down in that heart place that I am not worth the investment of getting to know, and have nothing to offer anyone else. Well, if that's the case, how would that abiding feeling ever contribute to the success of any relationship? It wouldn't. I would have sabotaged that sucker to, oh, Antarctica. That's the honest truth! If I don't see myself as able to add value to another person, I will live up to that low, unfulfilling standard. And whatever gifts and abilities I've been given by the Creator, I disregard. Gratefully, this belief surfaces less and less after spending time bringing it to the light and replacing it with elevating the cost that Jesus spent to get me. Going through these is a great reminder of how important it is to address things immediately when they come up in me.
Okay, getting closer to the now, and still sharing...
Heart Belief #4 - I'm isolated. No one sees me. I've invisible. What I do doesn't matter. There's a lot here, I know. Ultimately, the belief here is that because I live where I live, what I do busying myself only within the same 'traffic patterns', because I don't travel the way I would like to, because I'm not always able to get out and meet new people because of current commitments, I will never meet anyone. No one will ever see me, find me, and connect with 'the plan'. What I'm realizing is that if my prayer has been, "God, you know where I am, and you know where he is, then just orchestrate this thing! I don't know how," then I need to lose the belief that no one sees me and that I'm improperly placed in the big picture.
The bigger picture ::
And about two years ago, I felt like the Lord very clearly placed something deep in my heart. I was frustrated with limits I felt I kept hitting in life. In the middle of that, He opened up what I would call a movie screen in my imagination, and this verse visually and emotionally came alive:
"Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!" - Deuteronomy 30:19
I saw myself taking stepping stones and setting them along a path into this green, dense forest. But I was the one laying down the way for this new path so that the 'descendants' could follow it into this new forest. If you've read through the beliefs I had, then it would make sense that I never really and truly saw myself as having a family - not a healthy one. But after seeing this verse as personal, I realized that my choices weren't just for me any longer. I could make choices for life that would impact generations to come. This all might seem super strange seeing as I'm still single, but anytime I 'choose life', it's a combo now. That choice is for me + the generations to come. And this is making my declaration, of sorts. I don't know that it's traditional, but I'm pretty untraditional anyways. I'm believing the Lord for something really 'mattering' here, and I make the commitment to partner with him in getting to know this yet-to-come Life Adventurer. But until then, my goal is to honor the finished work that Jesus accomplished on the cross and has forever changed and romanced me. Completing me isn't any guy's job. I can't put that kind of pressure on any dude. Except Jesus. I'm 100% complete and paradoxically always on the mission to align my thinking and beliefs with His truth. So while a marriage of value on this earth is something that I do and have prayed for years for, I don't make it my main objective.
Despite my best judgement and whatever suggestions or 'fixes' I might get on the other end of this, I really felt like this was something I needed to take the time to write and share. :-) My life isn't my own, and if I stay silent, no one will know His story in me.
finding His flight patterns for life,
P.S. If you're interested, I've been using a really great tool from Jim Richards called the Prayer of Transformation on a consistent basis for a few years now. When I start to feel those feelings that none of us like to feel, I pull this up on my phone or out at my desk and go through it. It only takes a few minutes, but for me personally, it's helped me re-focus on what matters SO many times!