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?

Joy and the Shepherd

I accompanied a friend and her wonderful family to a wedding a couple weeks ago and had such a splendid time. Everything was so beautiful and the reception was such a blast. I love dancing like a weirdo with great friends. I had not seen many of her family members in a while, so there was plenty of catching up over dinner.

While describing to her mother where I am at in life, I found myself feeling like a cheese-ball. All I could talk about was even though this season was pretty ambiguous, things were actually really great and God had been so faithful. I kept repeating how great God was in this midst of the unknown. If I was hearing me talk, I would probably have rolled my eyes. (Inwardly, of course.)

Except that I was being totally honest.

¬†Which was a shock to me. I was happy. No, not happy–Joyful. God has been so wonderful in the midst of all my I -don’t-know-where-my-life-is-headed-this-is-so-confusing meltdowns. He has allowed me to be angry with him and to pray through that to a place of peace and trust.

I’m not going to lie, this has been one of the most difficult seasons. It has been–and continues to be–an inward struggle. What will I choose today? Contentment or worry? Trust or control? I don’t often choose correctly. But it’s a moment by moment choice. I am always welcomed to choose to turn.

The pastor at my church spoke this week, using his grandchildren as an illustration. Last year he challenged them all to memorize Psalm 23 and to reflect on the question ‘Who are you tempted to follow as your false shepherd?’ And this wasn’t just a question they had to answer once, but think on for the entire year.

I’ve been thinking on it for the past week as I meditate on the Psalm. Who am I tempted to follow as my false shepherd?

As God and I have been wrestling for the past couple weeks, it has become very apparent that I demand control. I want things my way and in my timing. If I cannot manipulate to make that happen, I fret about all the possible outcomes and dream up ways to compensate. I become consumed by what I cannot control or have or make yield to me.

I hold a death-grip over what is not mine.

But the Lord is my shepherd! I am just a sheep. It is the shepherd’s job to provide for his sheep. To lead them beside quiet waters, to make them rest in green pastures.

He is making me rest in green pastures in this stage of limbo. To slow down and rest in what he provides and nothing more. And it’s hard. I want to get up and go and make my way. But I am just a little sheep.

I must hand over my want for control and rest up. To take in God’s grace and the wisdom from his people and his word and prepare for the unknown next. So I have begun to open up my fists and let go of what I have wrongly grasped.

And what have I found in the handing over?

Joy.

I wish and pray for the same thing for you, my friend.

So what about you? Who are you tempted to follow as your false shepherd? I would love to hear in the comments or by email! Tell me your story!