Resignation? Acceptance? Contentment? ☆

Resignation?  Acceptance?  Contentment?

These three words have been on my mind this week as I have wondered if they generally mean the same thing – particularly as they apply to the single life.  It’s obvious by now if you have followed this blog that I am a never-married single who chose early on to follow Scriptural principles in all areas of life, especially the single life.  However, let me say up front that I have never felt “called” to be single, and have dealt over and over with a deep desire for marriage which is based on mutual spiritual beliefs and intimacy – body, soul, and spirit  While facing the distinct possibility that marriage may never happen for me, I’ve traveled through the states of all three words with varying degrees of heartache.

Resignation:  submission to a feeling that the way things are cannot be changed; a deliberate giving up; unresisting acceptance of something as inescapable.

For many years I struggled with the “what” and “why” questions:

  •      *  What if I had made different decisions in my 20s?
  •      *  What if I missed someone significant because I was distracted by any number of life issues?
  •      *  Why is God ignoring my deepest heart cries?
  •      *  What am I doing wrong?
  •      *  And the biggest question of all:  What is wrong with me? ? ?

Keeping hope alive was a painful proposition.  Romans 5:1-5 gives a list of life experiences – mainly tough stuff – and includes the words, “hope does not disappoint.”  God heard from me a lot about that phrase because it seemed that there were brick walls directly behind what I perceived as open doors with great regularity.  I tried major online matchmaking sites.  I traveled to singles groups within a 50 mile radius.  I tried any number of suggestions from friends – including blind dates – to no avail.  The results were disappointing.  And so, somewhere over a period of years, I quietly slipped into the state of resignation.  Frankly, it was far less painful than trying to keep hope alive.

In a post early on in this blog, I wrote of the realization that:  “My quiet resignation was not confident acceptance of God’s good intent in my life.  It was belief that, for some reason, God was withholding the one earthly desire I wanted the most.  Being resigned did bring some emotional relief, and I was quite settled in it until the Holy Spirit gently peeled away layers of bitterness and distrust and showed me how dishonoring [my] resignation was to God.”  (Covenant is for Singles, too)

Acceptance:  receiving what is offered with satisfaction, acquiescence, approval

I believe that for me, resignation was a type of unwitting and unspoken vow over my life which made daily living feel less distressed, but which was keeping me from a significant relationship with the Heavenly Father Who made me – with desires intact for intimate relationship.  Moving from resignation to acceptance was hard – sort of like walking from a dark room into the sunshine.  Just as it takes the eyes time to adjust to seeing things clearly without pain, it took time to look at this acceptance as a covenant with God, partnering with Him in His faithfulness – with less heartache.

Psalm 73 was a camping out place for a long time.  The Psalmist affirms God’s goodness and his intent to follow God faithfully.  But, he contrasts his health and comfort with those who are not following after God.  He is sick, cold, hungry, and poor; they are well, warm, well-fed, and wealthy.  He laments in verse 13:  “surely in vain I have kept my heart pure.”  But then, he discovers that God is not so interested in his present comfort as He is in his present relationship with God.  He concludes that those human relationships are fraught with disappointment, but the ultimate satisfaction comes only with persistence, perseverance, and intentional following after God’s counsel and guidance.  He says in verse 26:  “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  (NIV)

Contentment:  rest or quietness of the mind in one’s present condition; satisfaction

It has taken a long time to get to a consistent place of contentment, but I can honestly say I am truly contented – most of the time.  I still talk to God about the desires of my heart – which still include a spouse to grow older with.  At the same time, there is a growing realization that I can be satisfied even with permanent singleness.  I learn more daily about enjoying the world around me, relishing time spent with folks who care about me, nurturing time in God’s word and prayer, taking time to grow in skill in a number of hobbies, keeping my fingers nimble at the piano – and indulging in Agatha Christie Miss Marple DVDs.

Well, those are the thoughts for this week.  How about you?  Where are you in all this?

The Definitive Answer to “Why?” ☆

why question mark“10 things to say to singles.”  “10 things not to say to singles.”  “14 principles for single living.” “5 things to do while single.”  “25 things to do to prepare for marriage while you are single.”  “35 things to be grateful for if you are single.”  “53 things to say to your spouse.”

OK.  We’ve all seen articles with titles like these, haven’t we.  Quite frankly, I seldom read them anymore.  They just don’t scratch the itch of onesomeness issues.

The Church tries to parcel out good advice to singles by saying, “Just don’t. . .”  Folks may talk about some of the negative consequences of “doing,” but rarely do they stress positives of “not doing.”  Of course, the title of this post is said tongue-in-cheek.  I’m still working on my definitive answer.

I said in my last post:  “. . . the Church has said “don’t” for centuries.  But the question of ‘why’ has not been answered adequately in order to build a good enough reason into single hearts to comply, [especially in the area of sexual activity.]

Everyone loves a baby.  Their innocence and sweetness when they smile and coo just touches deep places in our hearts.  People acting inappropriately toward a baby or young child brings out the “mother bear” in most of us.  In particular, we teach our little ones about good and bad touch and we work hard to keep them out of harm’s way.  So, what happens when they begin to mature physically and hormones start to kick in with hyperactivity?  Are they stilll not precious and do they still not house a treasure in their bodies and souls?  Are there not still reasons to consider good and inappropriate touch, particularly to areas of the body we consider private?  Is there an age where these considerations automatically stop?  Why should something which obviously brings a great deal of pleasure be limited to marriage – especially when we feel like the bull in a rodeo which is penned into a small stall.  Every fiber of his being wants out – to be free – to express his intensity.

So, what is a good enough reason for Christian singles to wholeheartedly comply with spoken cautions about our actions?  For some, the possibility of surprise pregnancy is not enough to deter.  A variety of health issues is not enough to deter.  “Because Scripture says so” is not enough to deter.  Shame is not enough to deter.  Waiting for a more fulfilling physical and emotional life is not enough to deter.

I wholeheartedly agree with Paul’s words in I Corinthians 7:32-35 which speak of freedom from concerns, undivided devotion, and the opportunity for unhindered attention to the Lord’s affairs.  This is exactly God’s desire for us in singleness.  However, I also know from personal experience that these things are not automatically built-in when a single commits him/herself to moral faithfulness.  Personally, I often find myself living in the midst of a great many concerns, divided attentions, and a feeling of loss and dissatisfaction at not having an intimate human life companion.  I have even at times hollered at God, “I know You are sufficient – but I do not feel as if You are enough.”

So, what have I found which helps answer my “why?

  • * God loves me with everlasting love and draws me with unfailing kindness.  (Jeremiah 31:3)
  • * Celibacy has never been the cause of anyone’s death – no matter how it may feel at the time.
  • * God knows my desires and He also knows my frustrations when they are not fulfilled.
  • * Jesus was tempted in all things as I am, and because He never gave in to temptation, He provides for me a way out of my temptations – every time.  (Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 2:18; I Corinthians 10:13)
  • * Temptation’s strength is not determined by what I give in to – but by what I resist – and I can resist!
  • * The Holy Spirit gives me power to live with self-control, patience, and persistence.  (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • * I can utilize self-control in many things which are harmful to relationships.  Why would I not expect to use it in sexual areas in sight, hearing, thought, and action?
  • * I can use unfulfilled desires as a sort of “fast,” as a reason to help me deepen my relationship with Christ.

Above all, I thank God for those friends who have listened to me throughout the years – sharing my desires and frustrations, encouraging me, not trying to “fix me.”  Giving these things a voice is extremely helpful!

For more thoughts on these things, take a look at the first posts of this blog, “I Corinthians 7 – a fresh look.”

What in the world is a “Christian sexual atheist?” ☆

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The Christian Post ran an article in the Spring of 2014 called “Sexual Atheism: Christian Dating Reveals a Deeper Spiritual Malaise” which highlights an alarming reality in today’s single society.  It uses information from a 2014 survey done by christianmingle.com called State of Dating in America.  While this was not limited to those who claimed to be Christians, a significant number of Christians participated.  It is worth your while to look at all 81 pages of this report which includes dating etiquette, deal breakers, expectations, and a host of other information.

Out of 2,600 singles from 18 to 59 years of age, over 80% believe that engaging in any sort of sexual activity with someone outside of a committed relationship is considered as unfaithfulness.  This includes flirting and texting suggestive messages and pictures.  But, even though fidelity is given lip service, about 25% would consider marrying someone who has been unfaithful to them, with a slight % increase of those who admit to having been unfaithful in a relationship.  So, faithfulness is important, but not so important that it is a limiting boundary in many lives. In the scale of faithfulness and temptation to infidelity, the temptation often proves more appealing – of greater value – more important – irresistible.

The Christian Post article says that 63% of the Christians surveyed indicated that they would have sex before marriage.  This is not terribly surprising to us given the world we live in today.  Sexual messages smack us in the face in advertising, movies, and online opportunities.  We all know folks who choose to live together outside of the marriage commitment, and sometimes children are also in the picture.  And, we are not surprised.

Some who say they have given their lives to Jesus Christ and are committed to honor and glorify Him are ones who admit they are sexually active outside of marriage.

What has happened to disconnect these folks from honest and straight-forward teaching on moral conduct and holy living?  Is this just a reaction to strict and discompassionate lectures of the past?  Is it just a reaction to the common command, “No sex before marriage,” with no solid and honest help to deal with a normal strong desire built into us by the God Who created sex and everything else?

What has happened to honest exploration of Scriptures such as I Corinthians 6:12-19:

  •      * I can do anything – but everything is not beneficial.  I have choice!
  •      * God created me to glorify Him in what I choose to do.
  •      * Immorality – sexual practice outside of its intended parameters – is harmful to the body.
  •      * Therefore – choose not to harm your body – the temple of the Holy Spirit – in this way.

A much more pressing issue is, the Church has said “don’t” for centuries.  But the question of “why” has not been answered adequately in order to build a good enough reason into single hearts to comply.

Just as “because I say so” is not necessarily a convincing statement to a defiant child, “because God says so” is not necessarily convincing to a person whose hormones are screaming for release.

Consider this quote from The Christian Post article;

“. . . nearly nine out of 10 self-proclaimed single Christians are, in practice, sexual atheists.  In other words, God has nothing to say to them on that subject of any consequence or, at least anything meaningful enough to dissuade them from following their own course of conduct.  It is the ultimate oxymoron.  A person who at once believes in a wise, sovereign and loving God who created them and all things, can also believe simultaneously He should not, cannot or will not inform their thinking or living sexually.  It reminds me of those famous red letters in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?”  (Luke 6:46, NIV)  There is a disconnect between identity and activity.”

Well, my brain is off and running on this topic!  I hope this has spurred some new thinking for you.  Your comments most welcomed!

The Taaaaaaaaaaaaaaall Tree ☆

In another post I recounted my experience with Shenanigan, an irresistible cocker spaniel puppy which crawled its way out of the tall grass and immense trees in the Rockies as I spent nine days all by myself in a beautiful setting of mountains and fragrant pines.

One windy afternoon as I gazed down a mountainside, I noticed a curious thing.  As the wind roared its way down the slope the trees were thrown fro and to in total disarray.  Many of them bent nearly to the ground under the powerful gusts and I was amazed that they didn’t break off and take flight.  Indeed, I felt much like those gnarled trees.  I was struggling with crushed dreams and shattered hopes, and felt battered and bruised by life events.  The effect of the wind was relentless.

Then, my eyes fell on one very large, very tall pine tree which simply stood straight as the wind beat against it.  Its branches barely moved while the trees around it were doing backflips and jumping jacks.  The wind kept aiming its ferocious strength at this tree from every angle, but it simply stood strong and unshaken.

As in times past, God softly spoke to my heart.  “Let Me help you become like that tall tree with deep roots which sink deeply into the ground giving strength and refreshment to your soul.”  Ahhhhh, yes.  I wanted that!

It has taken a long time for me to realize that God is far more interested in the condition of my heart and my relationship with Him than He is in my present comfort.

(You might want to read that sentence again. . .)

  • .*  He does cause His good to work in every circumstance of our lives.  (Romans 8:28)
  •  *  He has good plans for us, regardless of how things look and feel.  (Jeremiah 29:11)
  •  *  He honors faithfulness to Him like a fruitful tree planted by a water source.  (Psalm 1:1-3)
  •  *  He rescues those who feel totally alone in their desire to follow Him.  (Psalm 73)
  •  *  He lifts our eyes above the shame society tries to heap on us for remaining faithful to Him.  (Romans 5:5)

And, just as it took years of slow growing for that tall pine tree to become strong and unflappable in the wind, it takes time to develop deep character.  Paul speaks of the progression from suffering to Godly hope in Romans 5:1-5.  This sort of suffering is not confined just to pain, but is a state of patient waiting for God to do His work in us.  This patient waiting leads to steady persistence, which leads to unique strength of character, which leads to Godly hope which does not put us to shame!

Society heaps its derision and scorn on those who choose to remain celibate in singleness because it would seem to be foolish to follow this Scriptural mandate.  Instant gratification continues to be the rule of the day.  BUT, fidelity in body, soul, and spirit continue to be God’s rule of the day from now into infinity!

While I was writing this post, I ran across a phrase which unfortunately describes too many singles who profess belief in Jesus Christ but who do not practice celibacy:  “sexual atheists.”

(Well, guess what the subject of the next post will be.)

 Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.  (Jeremiah 17:7-8 – NIV)

Stand firm, my friends.

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