Wednesday, December 27, 2017

For 2018: Pulling and Stretching

2017 has been one for the books.  In my record book, this year is listed as one of the most trying, taxing, draining years I've had in a LONG time...maybe in a lifetime. This year, I've been stretched in every possible way, in spirit, in finances, in patience, etc. I know everyone likes to hear prosperity gospel around the new year like, "I'm gonna be a completely new person when the clock strikes 12!" If you're looking for that type of post, then this one is not for you. I can't speak for anyone else, but MY 2017 was the type of year that would either make a person stop trusting God altogether or rely on Him COMPLETELY. As hard as it is, I'm choosing the second option because as much as I've been stretched this year, I also feel as though I'm being pulled...toward something different, something greater. I'm not sure what that "something" is, but Hillsong United's "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" has been on my heart for weeks now. If you've never heard of Hillsong, what rock have you been living under?! Their music will take you straight to the feet of Jesus (Warning: Don't play it while driving. It'll be hard to concentrate on the road while sobbing uncontrollably). Anyway, the poignant lyrics of "Oceans" are currently on repeat in my spirit:

Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my savior

Hillsong United - Zion (2013) / Amazon

As I listened to it, I felt led to pray this prayer. It might just be for me, but I felt like I should share it, in hopes that it blesses someone else:

Lord, I've been stretched thin this year, but now, I stretch my hands to You. I surrender. Guide me to my purpose and use me wherever and however You see fit. Where You lead, I'll follow. Tear down the borders of my trust so I can be led by You even when things don't make sense. Even if the waters You lead me into look troubled or murky, even though I can't swim, strengthen my faith and give me the courage to go anyway. Position me to move, and prepare me to go forward without hesitation. Thank You for what You've done, what You continue to do, and what You have yet to do in my life. I trust You no matter what, and I believe that every promise You've made to me will be fulfilled in Your perfect timing. In Jesus' name, amen.

I don't know about you, but I'm excited for 2018. I pray it will be a year filled with faith and new beginnings. Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Wait: The Unlisted List

In the last few posts, we've been talking a lot about Adam and Eve. We began the conversation with how "Adam" keeps his "Eden," and then segued into how every specific "Adam" is responsible for inviting a specific "Eve" into his garden. If the last two posts ruffled your feathers, you might want to buckle up for this one. Fasten your seatbelts and let's address the real elephant in the room: The List. Ladies, don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. Whether you've written it down or kept it to yourself, we all have a list of physical and character traits that we'd like our "perfect" "Adam" to have. We say, "He's gotta be this tall with this color eyes, this haircut, this job, and make this much money per year (because his money is our money and my money is my money...but that's a whole different can of worms 😂). Oh, and it would be nice if he could carry a tune, too." Then we have the audacity to put it in prayer form, complete with, "If it's not too much to ask..." and seal it with a fervent "Amen!" Sis, if you read the description above and subconsciously inserted extremely specific details, we've got work to do.

Transparency moment: Earlier this year, I was the girl who prayed that prayer, asking for a guy who was straight out of a fairytale that didn't exist. I even went as far as to list comparisons to other men I saw in the public eye. My list was like,

1) Loves God.

2 through 10) Height, looks, occupation, salary, etc.

11 through 42) Does [insert task] like [insert name here].

Then I saved the list in my phone. I left it there for a month or two, discussing it with people I trusted, and they told me that it was "solid" and "practical," but it wasn't sitting right in my spirit. First of all, I was thinking about it way too much, and secondly, honestly, some of it was shallow. So I did some soul searching. I asked myself if I'd check off most of the boxes on my own list. I checked off a few, but for some of those "boxes," the answer was a resounding NO. For others, it was more of, "I'm working on it." That evaluation taught me a few things. It taught me to separate standards--realistic, important things that could make or break a marriage--from things that weren't absolutely necessary, but would be nice to have in a partner. It also taught me that I shouldn't be so hard on myself, and showed me that the same grace I give myself (and more importantly, the same grace God gives me) is extended to the man that He has destined to be my husband. That's why I deleted that list--because God is God. He knows exactly what and who I need, and He has already created a mate for me...even if I haven't met him yet. I'll admit, I still have a list. You'll find it in my favorite scripture, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (NIV)

Whoever and wherever my husband is, I pray that he will have experienced this kind of love before he meets me, because this is the kind of love that only God can give. When you know for yourself that this kind of love exists, you won't settle for anything less. While I know my marriage will never be perfect, I pray that it will reflect the One who is.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Wait: The Eden Invitational

In last week's post, I ended by saying that after looking at the condition of a man's Eden and making sure his table was sturdy and had an extra chair, I could pull that chair out myself. I'd like to expand on that metaphor because after I posted it, I realized that statement could be read as emasculating. I didn't mean it that way at all. Yes, I am capable of pulling my own chair out, because (and I say this humbly) I know the value that I can bring to a man's table. There's a catch, though: Before I can even approach the table, I have to be invited to it.

Genesis 2:21-22 reads:

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh.

Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. (NIV)

In the last post, I emphasized the man's Eden because Adam was already in Eden and Eve was given to him while he was asleep. She didn't have an Eden. The Eden was presented to her, and she was presented to Adam. That's why I said that as a woman, the table should already be prepared before I get there. The proverbial chair was already there too, and Eve just took her rightful place in it. In other words, ladies, it's the man's job to prepare your place at his table. It's not our job to go up to Adam and ask him if we can sit beside him. He has to see the placeholder with our name on it and invite us to sit with him.

That's the significance of Adam being asleep: God had to open his eyes so that he could see what was right in front of him. Even after Adam saw Eve, it was still up to him to take the initiative to invite her into his Eden. I think that's where we as women mess up. We shouldn't just settle for anything that looks good. Even if it looks like Eden, it might not be your specific Eden. What if every time it doesn't work out, it's not because of anything we did or anything that the guy did, it's just that we're in the wrong Eden? No two relationships are the same, so what would work "perfectly" (and I use that term loosely) for one couple may not work for another couple. Every Eden is different. Ladies, have you ever considered that maybe the reason all your previous relationships failed was because you were trying to be Eve to someone else's Adam? Fellas, every woman you see is not your Eve. Keep your eyes open, but be selective.

A word to the wise: Sisters, you are the Eve to a tailor-made Adam. Know your worth. Don't just run up to every table that looks good and try to sit in the first empty chair you see. Seek God and ask Him to make room for you at a table where you will be valued, respected, and loved. Brothers, prepare your tables accordingly, but know that every woman is not fit to sit beside you. Be intentional in the cultivation of your Eden, and trust God to send you the Eve you need. Together, your garden will flourish and your fruit will be ripe.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Wait: Suited or Booted? To Help and Be Helped

Source: Instagram - godlydating101

The first time I saw the picture above, I literally laughed out loud. It was funny at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how disturbingly profound it was. It's an example of why marriage is one of the most important decisions we will ever make. It's also an example of why fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. Single men, what kind of table are you preparing for your future wives? Single ladies, what are you bringing to that table? Let's ruffle some feathers.

Genesis 2:18 reads, "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'" (NIV).

In the King James version of the same verse, God says He will make a "help meet" for Adam. Ladies, if we desire marriage, then as wives-in-training, we need to learn how to be help meets so that when we meet "the one," we'll know how to adequately assist him--but first, he has to meet a standard and need help in his purpose. This means that he needs to discover his purpose before he is given someone to help him with it.

In our season of singleness as women, God prepares us to help our husbands by instilling in us how to help others in our everyday lives. Helping others helps us to discover our purpose, which is VERY important because in marriage, two people--and two purposes--become one. So, when I meet a potential spouse, I will automatically evaluate him to see if his purpose lines up with mine. If he's not sure of his purpose, then I can't be suitable for him, which means he needs to be booted out of my life. My husband has to have a purpose for me to work with in order for the marriage to work.

"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." - Genesis 2:15 (NIV) 

When I was younger, I paid attention to the things a man would want to accomplish in the now, thinking that would give me some insight into who he was as a person. As I've matured, I've realized that long-term goals are more important. Are his dreams and goals tangible? Are they God-ordained, or for personal gain? Where does he see God taking him, and most importantly, is he making realistic steps towards that? I see it like this: Before God presented Eve to Adam, He had already assigned him to the garden of Eden. According to Webster's dictionary, the word eden means "paradise," and in other sources, it is linked to words meaning "fruitful and well-watered." Ladies, when you meet a man, your focus shouldn't be on how much money he makes or the car he drives. Instead, look at the condition of his "Eden."

From now on, I don't want a man to just tell me what kind of plant he has planted. I want him to show me that he's watering that plant. If he's adequately watering it, then I can be the sunlight that's needed to help it grow even more. In order for me to help him, though, I need to see a crop that's already being cultivated so I know what and how much to add to it. I'm not saying the man I marry has to dot every "I" and cross every "T". I don't expect him to have it all together, because I'm still getting it together myself, but I do expect his table to be sturdy enough to stand on its own, and I expect to see an extra chair. I can pull the chair out myself. 😉