Bible College Spinster: Wringing This Season Dry

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A few months ago, I discussed the concept of living deliberately. I discovered that there was a fine line between living life to its fullest and just doing for the sake of doing.

In this haze of fatigue and frustration, I found myself longing for not only purpose in how I was spending my time, but some passion. There was a desire to discover and pursue my gifts, and urgency to do what I loved, but to also love what was right in front of me.

A week ago, I sat through a talk on sloth. Yeah. Sloth.

And I always thought sloth was just laziness, but that is so not the essence of that word. It’s closer to an apathy, a despair, a restlessness in the face of what one knows to be true and not acting upon it. Complacency.

I think one of the greatest temptations I think one can fall into in this season of almost-but-not-yet is complacency. I’ve seen it too often when I look at my peers, when I look at myself.

Here’s the thing: God has placed you where you are and has presented the opportunities in front of you that he has with great purpose.

Want to live life deliberately? Take a risk on something right in front of you. Don’t let fear keep you stationary.

As I wrote in my previous post, you can’t do everything. But you also can’t do nothing.

So how do you find that thing? Here are some questions I’ve had to answer in the last six months that have helped me make some important decisions and changes:

  • What do you love about your life as it is right now? List those things out. Remember, nothing is too small.
  • Where you you imagine yourself in five years? Think details! Think calling!
    • What about where you currently are is pointed in that direction?
    • What, in your life currently, do you need to change to move toward this calling?
  • In what areas in your life have you felt the most joy?
  • In what areas in your life have you felt the most purpose?

Wrestling through these questions, I had the help of some olders in my life, but also some great books. I recommend taking a look at Restless by Jennie Allen and Present Over Perfect by Shauna Neiquist.
I pray you move forward rather than staying still. I pray God meets you as you search for purpose and fullness in a season we’ve been told for so long is just a waiting game.
There’s no waiting here. There is only you and God and the adventure he’s prepared for you.

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The Spinster Abroad

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So I think it’s about time I gave you an Iceland post…

If you didn’t know, I went to Iceland a month ago. I realized a week before I left that I had not informed some key people in my world that I was even taking this trip—like my grand parents or even my best friend, which felt like a big relating fail and I’m realizing that I didn’t tell you either.

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Kirkjufell (Church Mountain) is one of the most photographed sights on the island. This beaut was situated across from our gorgeous little guesthouse.

So I went to Iceland! Sorry I didn’t tell you  before.

Never have I been to a place so saturated in beauty. I can wax eloquent forever, but I think I’ll just leave it at the thought that never have I felt so small in a place. Between the heft of cliffs and mountains and the never-ending collection of water falls, my eyes and heart were full and I’m forever grateful for the experience.

The true value of the trip came to me while journaling in the sunroom of one of our guest houses mid-trip. See, Iceland was maybe not the ideal location for little-prissy me. But I wanted wonder and I wanted inspiration and a chance to gain back some imaginative real estate. I’m not an avid hiker—I more like a lovely stroll with maybe a steep hill or two. I’m not a risk taker—at least if I am, I like to really think it all through. But this was so worth it and so valuable.

I was journaling in our little guest house across the bay from Kirkjufell after a rainy day of adventures and I was struck by the thought that I was going to be alright.

The Beach in Vik
The Beach in Vik

I mean, on the trip, yes, but also in life. See, I’ve written a lot about taking advantage of this season of singleness and finding contentment where God has placed you, but behind that has always been a fear.

What if this isn’t just a season? If I’m not content now, will I ever be? Is there something wrong with me?

That evening, journaling prayers, God was able to calm these tightly carried anxieties.

My friend and I planned the entire trip start to finish, just the two of us.  We were taking a calculated, but kind of crazy risk being in a remote country alone, but we were here and God was blessing so much of the journey. And we were alright. More than alright—we were having an amazing time.

And it was in that realization that the thought came:

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Chillin’ at Gullfoss

If this was going to be my life, it was going to be an alright one. If God’s plan is for it to be just me, myself, and I, the life He has given will not be bad. It will not be without love and relationship. It will not be without adventure or heartache. It will not be a life without purpose. It may be a quiet, small, and maybe nondescript one, but a fine one none the less.

For the first time—and maybe this is an embarrassing confession since I write about this a lot—I felt at peace with where God has placed me. This life isn’t about finding your person or your dream job or ideal body weight. He has so much more waiting for you. There is a life of depth and hope and beauty waiting to be lived when we’re willing to live in trust of His plan.

So, maybe this isn’t a post about Iceland, but rather about what I got to bring back with me.

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The Bible College Spinster: Greener Grasses

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I write this post in the bliss of everyone else’s wedded bliss. I spent this past weekend at helping at the wedding of my sweet college roommate and will get to watch one of my dearest friends walk down the aisle next weekend.  I have to say it: I am in love with love.

There is something so wonderful in watching someone you care so deeply about find their person. That person who treats them with kindness and respect. To watch their love story’s prologue end and the plot actually begin is such an honor.

I say this with no sarcasm.

See, somewhere along the line, culture decided that single women are angry and bitter and can’t stomach seeing someone enjoy being in love. But why?

I’m just angry and bitter about the fact that people assume I’m angry and bitter. Here’s the truth about being jealous:

It’s a waste of time.

As a fairy tale fanatic, I may have been fascinated with happily ever after for a little too long. But “I do” is not some magic shot to happiness and singleness is not a life-sentence to drudgery.

The grass is not greener in either camp—it’s just different. Married or single, you still have the same insecurities, same brokenness, same pet peeves, and hurt, and longings, and on and on it goes. Because you’re still you.

If you didn’t know how to handle your temper with anyone before, you certainly won’t with a spouse. If you struggled with your self worth on your own, it’s only going to be magnified in a committed relationship. If you didn’t know how to process tragedy in your single days, it will be no easier to weather the storm  bound to someone.

The escape from struggle is not marriage—and there is a temptation to look for it there. We’ve read the novels and watched the movies and listened to the songs that tells us that all we need  is to find that person that is going to make us feel strong and secure and without fault. And that that person is a human that just happens to be ridiculously good looking and wealthy to boot.

Here’s the real truth of it: a spouse was never intended to redeem you. That’s not fair pressure to put on any of your relationships and it’s not fair for that to be placed on you.

If that’s what you’re looking for in your relationship, then you are going to be sorely disappointed, my friend.

I am NOT saying that God needs to be your spouse first. (If you’re chasing after Jesus-is-my-boyfriend theology, then there is an even bigger discussion we need to be having.)

I am saying that before I can be jealous that someone gets to enter into marriage while I’m in a stage of singleness, I need to really swallow that neither camp is superior or inferior to the other. I also need to take account of what I’m looking to get out of a relationship.

Yes, I crave that intimacy and companionship. I also crave wholeness and redemption. Marriage can’t promise these things and I need to remember who can.

Married or not, you are loved by the giver of all good things. In this knowledge, anger and bitterness don’t stand a chance.

The Bible College Spinster: Living Deliberately

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The word “intentionally” gets thrown around a lot in the church today. “We’re loving intentionally,” “I’m pursuing this relationship intentionally,” “I’m intentionally praying that…”

We use it so much, it doesn’t have a lot of meaning. It just means there is purpose to something, right? So why are we using the word without purpose?

We all have purpose for doing things, especially things we have been convicted to do.

In this quest to pursue biblical personhood over biblical woman or wifehood, I’ve mentioned trying to wring this season dry. Part of that pursuit has been doing.

Just doing. Anything and everything, saying no to nothing.

This has lead to weekends in Chicago and Austin, three conferences in a month, an opportunity to produce a video, an agreement to be a plenary speaker at my favorite conference, a fantastic concert, 3 bridal showers, 2 bachelorettes, numerous nights out with friends from all over the state, and some wonderful conversations.

But fast-forward to now and you have one tired girl here.

I’m not saying the past two months have not been wonderful. I would not trade them for anything.

I will say that they have not been filled with the most intention.

It looks like a woman sleeping until noon after weeks and weeks of going, going, going. It looks like a writer who hasn’t written anything but blog posts in a month. It looks like a woman who hasn’t made space for silence and beginning to feel the effects of not spending time with the Father. It looks like an introvert with nothing left to give except the motions.

In my pursuit of intentionally living into my singleness, I somehow lost the meaning of that word. Somehow, the word mutated to mean, “do everything because you’re single.” The purpose was lost and the fatigue set in.

-In a time where the next big -next- is allusive and vague, I want to embrace where I am, but not as a frantic pursuit of anything that might be out there.Realizing this, I have been using a new word: deliberately.

I am deliberately trying to suss out a place and a purpose in this season. In a time where the next big “next” is allusive and vague, I want to embrace where I am, but not as a frantic pursuit of anything that might be out there.

Right now, deliberate looks like making time and physical space for quiet. It looks like moments scheduled to write. It looks like reaching out to voices of wisdom in my life regularly for accountability and insight.

It looks like slowing down and taking stock of what is important and what is here in the now.

Bible College Spinster: The Longing Thwarted

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I have been slightly suspicious that some people get engaged just to piss other people off.

Like that really socially awkward chick that creeped the crap our of you your freshman year? Yeah, Facebook just informed you that she’s engaged to that longhaired, greasy-faced goon that engaged in light-saber battles on the weekends when he wasn’t too busy staring for too long at the chests of other women.

And there is no way in hell you would trade places with her…frankly because you had a class with her fiance once and he always smelled vaguely of Cheetos and the air always felt a little moist around him and that was troubling…

But that gut-rot is still present. There is something in the moment of reading that post while taking a Netflix binge break in your sweatpants in your parents basement after berating yourself for polishing off the iced animal crackers only a couple hours after opening them that makes you feel jealous.

 

There is something in our deepest longing that rouses a passion in us. First the passion of fulfilling the longing at all costs, often followed by the passion of the longing thwarted.

If you ever want to feel like a longing has been thwarted, go to a wedding of a not close friend and bring a crappy attitude as your plus one.

Jealousy is not something we ever want to admit to, but it is that always lurking presence as a friend talks about a great first date, as you stand awkwardly waiting for the bride to throw the bouquet, as you buy diapers for your sister’s baby shower.

I think we’re too afraid to admit we’re jealous. It’s an unattractive and sinful thing—we’re all on the same page—but it’s still a reality. Jealousy is still something we need to own. To stuff it down is to let it fester and to let it fester is to let yourself become bitter.

We are to mourn for those who mourn and we rejoice with those who rejoice , it’s true. But what about when someone’s rejoicing brings our own mourning to light.

It can be painful to watch your girlfriends go down the aisle when you don’t even have a date at your side. Friend, I totally get this.

I also get (and had to get it the hard way) that ignoring the fact that it is painful can be harmful to you and your friendships. Please, as you start attending weddings and showers this spring, be honest with God and with yourself. Acknowledge the pain you may feel, but also don’t forget that this is a time to celebrate your friend.

Because here is another truth: The fact that your friend is getting married doesn’t mean you won’t. The fact that someone else feels joy in a season where you are experiencing mourning doesn’t mean you can’t rejoice with where they are at.

Acknowledge what you feel, yes please do! But also learn to maneuver the tension of joy and pain as they exist side-by-side.

I think Joy Eggerichs speaks into this really well. I’ve had a huge woman-crush on Joy for a while and have really appreciated the ministry Love and Respect Now.This ask Joy video addresses this topic really well. Watch to the end for some great sing-a-long fun.

Bible College Spinster

A couple weeks ago, I talked about how I’d like to start posting monthly writing samples. Blogging has always been practice of the craft for me and this week I’m stretching out a little. This is the start of what may be a blog series or may be a larger project. I’m not sure where this is headed, but I’m sharing it anyway. Enjoy!

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I knew pretty early on that I did not want to get married right out of college.

During jr. high youth group one night, they split the guys off from the girls and panel of women talked with us about purity. As part of the introduction, they each shared how they had met their husbands.

“We met in our biology class in college.”

“He lived on the floor below me in our dorm.”

“We were introduced the first day of our freshman year.”

I distinctly remember thinking, that is a boring love story. I want to meet someone in a cool way. After school. After backpacking through Europe.”

Backpacking through Europe was the epitome of adulthood in my thirteen year old mind. I had just read Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes and knew that was the goal after college. NOT getting married. I wanted to live a little first.

And that was that. Until I encountered the horror of a freshman girl’s dormitory.

I never had questioned my dating status, let along my marital status until my first night at college when the question was thrown out:

“Do any of you think you’ve met your husband here yet?”

I am not. Kidding. This was the first night.

And from there it just felt like so many women were in a scramble to find that perfect fit somewhere on campus. For the most part, it wasn’t a race. I have plenty of friends who found their person in a normal amount of care and time and their wedding celebrations were such a pleasure to be a part of.

But there were some couples that were slightly more concerning. Some of them resulted in rushed marriages and even more rushed divorces.

Looking around in the aftermath of those years, it’s been interesting to observe longings that have surfaced in my life as well as in the lives of my friends through the first years of marriage into the early parenting stage from some of them.

photo-1459876488407-12ece558ba10I never thought I would get to 24 and be one of my only friends left rowing in the single boat. And I’d be lying if there weren’t moments I look around and wonder if I missed something—took a wrong turn or acted on introvert impulse when I shouldn’t have.

But I’ve been here long enough to know that the grass just isn’t going to be as green as it is on Fixer Upper. I’m thankful for that.

Honestly, I’m still trying to get back to Europe, let alone get down the aisle.

So much “spiritual” reading I did outside of the Bible was concerned with being a good girlfriend, or wife, or even mother. But I’m not using that info. Not really. I’ve found in this season a yearning to just learn how to be a person.

As part of this writing experiment, I’m trying to find out how to wring this season dry. I made it through bible college without the husband and baby I was promised with my diploma and I want to live into that well.

I’ve felt for a while that the church in general is not sure what to do with a woman in her mid-twenties who is unwed without prospects…Maybe not the church in general. Maybe it’s the church in West Michigan.

And as much as I want to be comfortable in that, I feel like I’m kind of alone here.

So I write this for you. To let you know you’re not alone…. or maybe just to confirm if I am. So in these posts, I’ll be unpacking some observations and throw out some thoughts.

I don’t want to spend this season waiting for what is next. What is here is next. And I’m owning it—The life of a Bible College Spinster.