How to Pray for Singles

I am so grateful for the vibrate community God has blessed me with. I am surrounded by sisters and brothers in Christ who encourage me creatively, socially, but especially spiritually. God has gifted wise older women to speak truth and provide wisdom during my dark days. He has given me a family who show me grace and forbearance and love daily.

As such, there are many people who know I would like a spouse and who would also like for me to have a spouse. And I think we all know and love some singles that would love to be bringing someone home with them this Thanksgiving, but for many of us, that’s just not going to be the case.

So here is what I have to say on behalf of those just waiting to be asked the question over dinner on Thursday, “So, are you seeing anyone?”

When the answer is “no, not at the moment,” let your answer not be, “Well, I’ll pray that you will!” (And certainly don’t let it be, “Why not?” Seriously. Just don’t.)

Don’t only pray that the singles in your life find a spouse.

Pray that with or without one, they will pursue a relationship with God. Pray that they find encouragement in the word, Spirit, and people of God. Ask that there be fruit in their personal pursuit of holiness.

Pray that they will find a community that builds them up and encourages them to thrive where God has placed them. Pray against feelings of inadequacy, incompleteness, or loneliness in the body of Christ. Ask that they be surrounded not only by other singles pursuing godliness, but also believers in many different season that they may bless and be blessed by the beautiful diversity of the Church.

Ask that in their work, they may find purpose. Pray that in the moments they are discouraged by their job or feel that this is just a pitstop to what God may have next, that they remember there identity does not come from a job title, but from Christ. Pray that they take full advantage of the mission field where God has placed them—wherever their feet end up.

Lament that our church does not always know how to include the singles in their congregation. Pray for your own church in the singles there. Pray for sensitivity on how to welcome those who are not part of a nuclear family into the fray. Pray for leadership that looks to unify a diverse body.

Express gratitude that God does not make all of our journey’s the same! Pray that the singles in your life find contentment and beauty in this as well. Pray that they would seek God’s plan for their singleness. Pray that their longings are met in Christ before they are met in a spouse. Pray that they know they are significant with or without a significant other.

We covet your prayer just as any other brother or sister in Christ would. But I ask that those prayers be for full and missional lives over simply to be married.

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Sweating Like A Single in a Marriage Series

When my church announced they would be kicking off the fall with a sermon series on marriage, yes, I rolled my eyes.

Because “Don’t we talk about marriage enough?” and “Isn’t the Church idolizing marriage?” And perhaps the answer to these questions is yes, but I was opporating out of a blind spot in my judgment. And isn’t that always the case with our sin?

One of our pastors who has been a long suffering mentor of mine told me he would be using a recent blog post of mine in his first sermon in the series, which was touching and humbling and blah, blah, blah.

Yeah, I was more concerned that my writing was being shared for the sake of showing all those married people that we’re here too! Singleness is just as relevant! (Hear the bitter demand for retribution?)

We’re living in a very devisive landscape these days. You can’t get on any social media site without reading something that demands you pick a side (preferably their own).

We stand on our soapboxes trying to out-yell one another into submitting to our own brand of justice. The noise is so loud and our justification so blinding that we don’t see the man on the soapbox across from us as human any longer. We just see him as wrong.

But scripture (not Abraham Lincoln!) tells us that a house divided cannot stand.

Here I was last Sunday waiting to hear that I as a single was a valued and necessary part of my community and I was annoyed when there was no application that applied to me specifically. I was too caught up in the us-and-them mentality that permeates my weekdays that I brought that into Sunday. I was operating out of defensiveness after not getting my way rather than thinking of my neighbor.

Jesus’ ministry was about laying down his right for the sake of the other and that is what he calls us to. Yes, the Church may idolize marriage, but trying to swing the pendulum to singleness helps no one.

“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (If Paul was writing not to Galatia, but to the church in in America, I think he’d include “married or single, right or left”.)

Perhaps I need to get off my soapbox and interact with those I disagree with out of compassion rather than judgement. Perhaps I should seek unity and love before I seek being right only. This is the freedom my salvation bought.

We mourn division in the church, but what are we actually doing to heal it? Because if we think just screaming what we’re right about until those who disagree change their minds, that gap just continues to widen. What does it look like for us to climb down from being justified and give up my right in order to love my neighbor well?

Where is ‘Here’?

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After that last post, you may have walked away with a question:

“Uh, Lex? How is ‘being present’ a resolution?”

Great question!…I’m still figuring that out.

Aren’t we always trying to figure out where were at and how best to be there? Arrival is a lie, I’m learning. (Except not really, because I’m pretty sure I’m going to arrive at 42. That’s when I’m gonna get the ever-elusive “it”…I hope.)

We so often have these visions of what our lives are supposed to be in some distant yet not-so-distant future and we’re striving for “there.” But what about “here”? What about what’s in front of you right now?

I want to be rooted to here and to now and to invest in what has been placed before me. I’m just trying to figure out what that is.

Three weeks into a new job and new season, I’m still trying to figure out what life looks like, let alone how to dig into it deeper. Here is are a few things I do know:

I want to invest in people

For over a year, I have had a really deep longing and growing restlessness surrounding community. This is my second year of refraining from leading a high school girls small group. That’s a hard thing for me, but I knew when I stepped down that I was being obedient. I am feeling the tug to feel elsewhere, but that call is not quite clear yet.

I have more time in this new chapter and passions that have grown in ways I did not expect. I want to invest in young adult women who are trying to find their footing. I want to see singles thrive in the church, investing in their community in rich ways. I want to see women my age feel empowered to use their gifts to build the kingdom because God does not give us gifts he does not intend to be used, regardless of gender. I want to see women move through college, their job searches, their singleness, their friendships and relations with great purpose.

These are abstract and lofty wants. So how does that come to be?

I have many more shrugs than I do answers, honestly. But I do know that I have so many friends that are in this twenty-something stage of shrugs and I have been given two ears to listen with. I have a table to gather people around to enjoy a meal and each other’s company. I have a heart for books and discussions and love to host. These are just small things, but they are what I have to offer.

I trust fruit comes of our desires and our offerings.

I want to invest in my craft

I finished the first draft of my novel.

This is huge and I’m excited about this, but this is by no means the finish line.

I have taken January off from writing to rest a little, but that doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything. I have been reading like a crazy woman since New Year’s Day and I’m loving it. (Also, if you’re looking for recommendations, the top of my list are this, this, and this.)

Once this month is over, I’ll be printing off the manuscript and reading as a whole for the first time. I’ll start making my edits and preparing it for a string of first readers. I’m excited, but also nervous because this is farther in the process than I’ve ever been. This is further out in the gray reality than I’ve let myself get as an artist. It is risk and that is terrifying, but freeing all at once.

This is an investment in my craft that I am dedicating myself to this year and we’ll see how it goes.

I want to invest in the word

I’m learning there is nothing better I can do for those in my life than to be invest in the word.

The plan is to make regular time for silence and refocusing. To be grounded in God’s higher thoughts than reliant on my lower ones.

 

This is a year for growing up and giving out. I am so excited to see where it may lead.

What are you striving toward this year?

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Dear Church: A Letter from a Twenty-Something Young Professional

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Dear Church,

Thank you for noticing that there was a lack of programming for twenty-somethings in your (little ‘c’) church. Thank you for rising to the challenge and creating a group for post-college adults, or singles, or young professionals, or “emerge,” or whatever you’ve decided to call that thing.

I say that without an ounce of sarcasm.

But here’s where it gets tricky, because do you know what I want? What I’m really hungry for?

It’s not meeting in an abandoned warehouse you rented, or the basement of the coolest club, or some space in your building where you repurposed and installed Edison bulbs and hooked a record player up to the sound system. It’s not throwing the word “authentic” around as many times as grammar will allow in all its various forms. (Seriously, stop it.)

It’s people.

I want the people.

Do you know how easy it is for me to live my life day-in and day-out without anyone knowing how I’m doing? How I’m really doing?

And sometimes I don’t even know how long its been, because I’m so used to it.

I can sit down at some brewery where you host your pub theology event, but discussing what may be wrong in the church in light of politics doesn’t let me know where you’re at in your soul and it sure as hell doesn’t do anything for that ache in my chest to be known and accepted.

Because you want to know what millennials want?

It’s the same thing you want! Love, acceptance, understanding, knowing they are not out alone in the darkness, that there are people there to catch them when it feels like they might spin off in the oblivion.

We just want to know that what feels like the end of the world right now is not.

We want a place at the grown-up table and a stake in the conversation that Jesus started two thousand years ago.

We want you to know that we could care so much if you’d just give us permission to care!

It’s not about how your building looks or how up-to-the-minute your band is. It’s about what it’s always been about! Caring about people.

I’m really bad at this! I’ll be the first to admit it. It takes time and vulnerability and sometimes the people that are available to you aren’t the people you’d like to share your life with. But God put the people in front of us that he did for a reason.

And, maybe, Church, God has placed young adults in front of you for a reason. Not just so you could create an over-grown youth group for them, but so you could ask them how life is going and really listen. And maybe so they could ask you the same question and you could tell them honestly in return.

Because we just want to know that someone cares enough to be honest with us. We just want someone out there to know how we’re doing—how we’re really doing. And to not be afraid to share themselves in that way too.

So again, thank you for creating a space for us in your programming. But can we have a space in your life?

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Back on the grid

So I didn’t plan to leave the blog unattended that long…it just kind of got rolled in…

This week marks the end of a year long social media hiatus. This has been a great year to pause and think through intentionality and purpose. To be honest, I have not missed my social accounts in the slightest.

photo-1441448770220-76743f9e6af6The most common response I received from people asking about the hiatus was, “What about all the invites to things you’re missing?” My first thought was, “What invites? I haven’t gotten any.”…thankfully I had the restraint not to voice that. Fact of the matter is, I was usually asked this at some social function where the host had graciously extended me an invite via phone or email rather than over Facebook.

But really, I don’t feel like my social life suffered much. I certainly went to less functions because I felt obligated to go to the baby shower of the girl I shared a crayon with that one time in third grade…Instead, I spent moments with friends. Friends who I hadn’t made an actual effort with in a while because, well, it took actual effort. Friends who understood why I was doing what I was doing. I got to pursue relationships that meant more than just witty comments or clicking a heart on things they shared. I got to rediscover the beauty of an hour-long phone call, or driving to see a college roommate, or asking the real questions because I had time and the space for that.

I got to share actual life without feeling the pressure to prove I had been, had done, had seen, had heard. I just got to be. Can I tell you how freeing it is to stand through a concert without taking a video of your favorite song. To just listen and take in without being hindered by the screen between you and the artist. (I mean really, is there any point?)

This year has been nothing out of the ordinary, but I know it has been lived. If squandered, it was only done on watching Parks and Rec in a week. (Because Netflix wasn’t part of the hiatus but probably should have been…)

I’m excited to unpack with you what I’ve taken from this past year and unfold what God has in store for the year to come.

Here’s to a new journey.
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The Investment of Waiting

Last week I threw out the question of what it means to wait actively. I don’t think it’s really quite fair for me to ask you a question and not answer it myself.

So what is active waiting in my world?

After wrestling with the concept this week and some really great conversations over coffee, I came to this conclusion: Waiting is not the word. Waiting still seems to imply a sitting still, a holding of breath for something.

James 5 uses the metaphor of the farmer waiting for his crops. The Greek word used, ekdechomai, implies waiting with expectation. (That’s right, I whipped out the concordance on this one.) The farmer isn’t just waiting for whatever to happen. He is waiting for fruit. He does what it takes to ready the field and prepare for the harvest.

The farmer invests in his work.

So what does this mean for little ol’ me?

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with the purpose of my singleness and where the boundary lines have fallen for me. I’ve also recently been a part of some great conversations on the needs and future of ministry for single young adults. Great things that stir in me a passion and desire to see growth; a longing for God to awake hunger for Him in the hearts of people in this stage of life.

And what is one thing that singles are told time and time again? Especially single women?

Wait.

“Wait on God.” “Good things come to those who wait.” And then my personal favorite, “True love waits.”

But what does that mean? Are we supposed to sit around and do nothing while we wait for godly prince charming to stride in with his Toms-clad feet and Greek New Testament and whisk me away to a mission field in Asia?

Geeze, I certainly hope not.

I have observed a lot of women, who have been told for years to wait, grow frustrated, disillusioned, and bitter. What they have been told to sit and wait patiently for not come. I feel that tension myself,

So what do we do? Ya know, when there’s not much you can do.

We invest. We invest in where we are and what God is doing in us and in our communities. We seek out the input of older wiser counsel. We seek contentment while still pursuing growth. We serve.

So what does this mean for me personally? I want to start to build community with both women and men and provide context for thoughtful conversation. Essentially, I want to open my home for gatherings and encourage deeper discussion through thoughtful, others-focused questions.

I want to continue to study the word and become more firmly rooted in my identity through truth.

I want to explore the gifts I have been given further. I want to write like crazy and learn more about marketing.

I want growth. I want to see God bring it about in my life and want to watch it happen in the lives around me.

And, yes, this may be an idealistic rant of a hopeless romantic, but it is a rant I offer up to the father to do with whatever he sees fit.

We have been placed where we are in life for good reason, whether we see that or not.

So we can allow our discontentment to fester into bitterness. We can allow are hearts to harden as what we may want does not arrive in our timing. If that’s the case, we’re not really usable for God’s purpose.

Or we can enter into the adventure with God, wrestling with the tension of where we’ve been placed and where we wish we were. We can encounter him on a deeper level as we seek in invest in the stage he has intentionally placed us.

I would love to hear any more of your thoughts if you’ve been wrestling with the what it means to wait. Comment and join the discussion.

Everyone Needs a Paul, Everyone Needs a Timothy Part II

Last week, we started a discussion on mentoring. It’s important to be poured into by those further along life’s path. But what do you do once you’ve been filled?

I have found that as I have been so generously poured into, that I must pour into others.

Everyone needs a Paul. Everyone needs a Timothy.

We need to support and mentor and hold one-another accountable; encouraging one another toward the father, not shaming each other into isolation. This is community. We also need to serve those behind us on the path. We need to mentor as much as we need to be mentored.

So now the lies tend to sink in. I’m too young.  I have nothing of value to say. I’ve messed up too many times. No one should look to me as an example.

Please recognize these as lies, my friend. God has redeemed and forgiven you. He has been working in your life, growing and stretching you, revealing himself through your life.

My small group leader in high school recently gave a sermon about mentoring those further down the path from us. He says, “So often we feel that our failures disqualify us from any influence. You’re on your second marriage, you’ve been bankrupt, you can’t get a certain part of your life under-wraps, you’re still struggling with porn once a month. I say this: if you’re struggling once a month, what has God done in your life to whittle it down that far? Find somebody who’s struggling on a daily basis and go public; expose your own journey. It’s in the killing of the shame and secrecy and alienation that comes from sin that we can actually step into the discipleship process at a multi-generational level.”

He continues, saying that our failures have taught us some of the greatest lessons in life. And why not share that wisdom we have been gifted with through the pain and heartache and shame? Why not allow that to be used to build the kingdom?

The reason the women who have discipled me have had such an impact in my life is not because they are bible-thumping, church-goddess women. Not at all! It is because they are real. They have invited God into the struggle and are beginning to learn to do that well. It is because they are soft and willing to share what has been revealed to them.

This is the kind of woman I want to be. Soft, strengthened by the Father. This is the kind of woman he is shaping me into. And as such, I am not to keep silent about what he has been teaching me. I am to go out and speak. I am to pour into the lives of those behind me on the path out of what God as done in me.

The girls I mentor add a vibrance to my life. Their excitement and potential are encouraging. Watching them embark on their own relationships with Jesus has been a privilege.

Are you influencing someone’s life? Think about a young girl in your life who may want the input of a young adult woman in her life.

It’s a beautiful blessing to be poured into and turn to pour out into someone else.

So who is your Paul? Who is your Timothy?

Being Single is Not the Same as Being Alone

So I just made it through wedding season. It wasn’t as intense as the last two–the amount of parties stayed in the single digits.

There is something about this time of year that always stir up longing in me. I think it’s the filling out of the RSVP cards. That blank plus-one line taunts me. So often, I delay sending in the RSVP because, who knows, perhaps I’ll run into some Gene Kelly look alike who will fall madly in love with me and want to accompany me to a wedding! I think he’ll want the beef, but I’ll just leave the selection blank and let him choose for himself. And we’ll dance and have a wonderful night and leave dreaming about the wedding we’ll someday have together…

And then some point a couple days before the RSVP card is due, I return to reality and remember that that is not happening, check chicken, leave the plus-one line blank and call it good.

I could let that be discouraging. Heck, sometimes it is. Alright, most of the time it is.

Most of my friends are married, more becoming so each summer. It’s exciting, but it always comes with longing for my own turn one day.

And then that nasty little thought I hate the most seeps in to ruin my day:

What if I die alone?

It’s a lie. I know it’s a lie. Even if I die unwed, I will not die alone.

So far, I have lived a life filled with love. Not only from my heavenly father, but from my wonderful parents and awesome sister. From so many beautiful, talented, and gracious friends. From mentors, pastors, teachers, co-workers. I’ve been so gosh-darn blessed and so often I ignore it.

No, I have not experienced very much in way of romantic love. Yes, that can be sad to me.

But there is still great love in my life.

Being single is not the same as being alone.

I do not live in solitude. I live in community with many many wonderful people. I mean, really, filling out that RSVP card without a date to put on it does not mean I am not loved. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have a friend who fell in love and I gained a new friend in her husband. So now two of my friends are getting married and they loved being in relationship with me enough to invite me to celebrate with them. And at that party, I will enjoy the company of our mutual friends. We’ll laugh and dance and talk about the future lives of our newly-married friends.

If the longing for your significant other has become heavy in this season of summer romance and weddings, do not be discouraged. Recognize that God has you where you need to be on your journey. The loneliness may seem suffocating now, but realize that you are not alone here. For one, I’m here. I can also guarantee you have many friends and loved ones, married or not, who care about you and want to encourage you where you are.

You’re loved, my friend!

Revel in that.

If you would like more reading on singleness, I highly recommend this post from Shauna Niequist. I was greatly encouraged. I ran across it a couple days before I actually sat down to read this post and was excited that the two were going to be live around the same time. I hope her words are refreshing and encouraging!