July Challenge: Finding Space

sunset

In the midst of searching for a life partner, the last thing that we think we want is space.  We want togetherness, a shared life, part of a pair.  Space, after all, is what we think we already have.

But space is not just physical, but psychological.  How are you finding space from the expectations of the world?  How are you giving yourself both space and grace to be yourself as an individual?  Are you currently trapped in daily fears that you will never find the right one?  Do you run from relationship to relationship, always defining yourself by whoever you are dating?

Once you are in a marriage, psychological space becomes no less important. How do you keep your independence, your identity?  Who are you, separate from the relationship?

In the midst of a highly stressful job myself, I have been seeking space in the form of reading about simplicity, mindfulness, and contemplation.  I want to carve out a space for myself where I can find peace and calm, not bouncing from one stressful situation to the next.  I cannot control external circumstances, but I hope I can create an inner oasis and recognize the external for what it is – fleeting.

As we will see from the verses this month, Jesus too needed space, and God calls us to set ourselves apart from the world.  Space is a spiritual practice in many ways that allows room for God to move in us.

This month, we challenge you to create space in your life, whether physical, psychological, or spiritual.  Intentionally create that space and ask the Holy Spirit to fill it.  By the end of this month, hopefully we will all be more centered in our own selves, more connected to God, and more free of the stress of the world.  Best wishes for July!

 

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Boundaries Vs. Intimacy Finish!

boundary

My new favorite obsession is the show First Dates.  If you haven’t watched this yet and you are a single, dating person, you are totally missing out.  This show, portraying a series of blind dates, is a tutorial in human behavior and why dates work—and don’t work.

In the latest episode, a beautiful Nashville country singer shared in the pre-date interview that she waited for sex until her first marriage.  Now divorced, she stated that she wanted to wait again.  She is set up on a blind date with a slightly awkward, nerdy guy who tells her that he has never been kissed.  Never.  Not once.  The show cut to a commercial and I thought, well, that’s it.  She’s not going to find that attractive.  It’s one thing to wait for sex, it’s another to be an adult man who has never kissed anyone.

But when the show returned from commercial, the singer’s reaction was much different than I expected.  “That’s so endearing,” she said.  She later agreed to a second date and before the credits, it was revealed that they are dating.

In the series this month, we talked about boundaries – generally, boundaries on physical intimacy.  Such boundaries – even just the concept of them – are completely countercultural to today’s hookup society.  They make us seem like prudes, out of touch, and backwards.  Worse – like adult virgins, which is exactly what we are.

So we expect rejection.  I don’t want to be seen as a weirdo.  We put up walls, pretend falsehoods, refuse to show our true selves.  I would talk about relationships and sex with friends like I was just the same as them.  I can think of only two guys that I even brought up the topic of not having sex before marriage – one of them I married.

But in doing so, we shame and devalue the boundary in our own eyes.  Equally important, we lose the opportunity to be a witness that we might otherwise have had.  There are many ways to be a light to the world – one of them is simply to be brave enough to show our true selves to others.  

I can’t promise that it won’t come without a cost.  There may be lost dates, strange looks, and awkward conversations.

But that’s a small price to pay.  When you find the one – the right one – he or she will not judge you or mock you for the boundary.  Instead, he or she will value you and respect you all the more, hopefully because he or she shares the same boundary.  It will be one more signpost on the path to true love.

One Size

couple

I remember the day I decided to save myself for marriage. I was 11 and my health class had just started a segment about STDs.

I was absolutely terrified.

At that age, I hadn’t yet developed my own relationship with God to understand the biblical necessity of my commitment. But fear was a good starting point. No marriage = no sex. So simple even a 6th grader could do it.

But then it got confusing.

I was in college when I first heard about purity rings, bands of silver or gold wrapped around the ring finger as a physical reminder of a promise to abstinence.  Then, while hanging with some sorority sisters, I watched as they threaded colorful plastic pellets to create purity beads, cords long enough to tie around their waists. Only on their wedding night would the cord be cut by their husband.

During late night conversations in our dorm, as my friends planned to not kiss or hold hands with any guy until their wedding day, I listened with a growing sense of spiritual insecurity.

I know I’m not having sex until I get married but now I can’t even hold hands? I had no jewelry to signify my commitment to God. And I hadn’t even kissed a guy yet. But I wasn’t so sure I wanted to wait until my wedding day to do so. Does that mean I’m not a good Christian?

As I grew in Christ and with age, it became clear to me that, aside from abstaining from premarital sex, physical boundaries are not one size fits all. Some couples can peck affectionately without conviction. Others feel led to steer clear of all physical touch.  And both ​can ​work, as long as the couple is seeking to honor God.

When I met my husband, I was not quite 30, far removed from the health class horror but still firm in my commitment to the Lord. We talked openly about our convictions and established what would be our boundaries. As our relationship progressed and we became acutely aware of, ahem, this thing called desire, we talked, prayed, and redrew our lines together.

If you haven’t thought about your physical boundaries yet, do so. Write them down and pray about them.  As long as your boundaries ​fit and ​create a continuous path to God, you’re on the right​ ​track.

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Jennifer Jen

Hi, there! My name is Jennifer. I’m 32 and live in the D.C. area. I love Jesus, R & B music, and sugar in all its forms :-). In June 2016, I married my amazing husband, Calvin. I was completely single and waiting throughout my entire twenties. So I know the prayers, fears, and tears that come with prolonged singleness very well. I am excited to share my story and encourage single women who are waiting for God’s best!

Discerning True Intimacy

beauty

Have you ever seen those incredibly talented make up artists who can transform themselves into a totally different person with some bomb contouring and eye shadow?  Well, I am not that person.  I can barely color inside the lines with my lipstick.  And I didn’t even know contouring was a thing until I was in my 30’s.

Now regardless of your skill level or how you feel about make up in general, the stuff is basically magic.  I mean, I once saw a woman turn herself into Nicki Minaj.  And in case you’re wondering, she looked nothing like Nicki Minaj in real non-make up life.

On the other hand, there are also millions of YouTube videos for make up dummies like myself.  Tutorials to help you enhance your beauty without going overboard. Or how to create a date night look that doesn’t resemble a Crayola massacre on your face.

And if you really think about it, intimacy can be the same way. It can transform said relationship into something much different than its initial intentions. Or it can enhance what God has already created, but at the right time and in the right context.

For those of you who aren’t following, here’s an example.  You’ve been seeing this guy and you’re getting the hunch that he’s really a creep. But since there are no other prospects or even men looking your way, you decide to take things to the next level out of boredom and desperation. Whether that means kissing, sex, or the whole ‘everything but sex, technically still celibate’ category, you know you’ve crossed a line.

And once that line is crossed, this man’s character and attractiveness levels up from Gollum of Lord of the Rings to Great Gatsby Leo Dicaprio.

Without intimacy you could’ve seen the red flags and all the signs that this man was a waste of your time from the get go. But, since he’s a great kisser and makes you feel desired, you find yourself justifying the way he treats you to your friends. Or making excuses for his behavior towards his family. And worst of all, accepting less than what you God desires for you all for the sake of not being alone.

But let me tell you something honey. It is better to be alone the rest of your life than spend your days trying to make it work with the world’s okayest mate.

And I know that dating as a woman seeking purity before marriage can be hard.  Intimacy with boundaries is where the Netflix and Chill and ‘Just come over’ texts go to die.  And I LOVE Netflix and free dates.

But intimacy that outpaces the level of commitment is not worth having to retrace the ‘how did I get here’ of a relationship covered in Revlon.  Especially one that never should have happened to begin with.

So, ladies, let’s leave the eyeliner and contouring to the experts. And trust that God can enhance the intimacy of your relationship at just the right time if we allow Him to.

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roz Roz
Hey there!  My name is Roz.  I’m a full time working, single, homeschooling mother to the world’s funniest 5 year old on the planet.  I’m an introvert who is obsessed with bacon.  I like to play music extremely loudly in my car and will keep singing at full voice even when you turn to stare.  I also blog occasionally over at beautyfullyflawed.com where I write words about Jesus, homeschooling, and the beauty of imperfections.  I look forward to sharing my imperfections with you, as well.

The Best Investment

body

Hi!  My name is Roz and I have a budget.  There are line items for tithes and offerings, mortgage, utilities, student loans, contributing to my IRA, and all those amazing things that take your money as you get older. Adulting. Is. So. Much. Fun.

And as we grow up and learn the lessons of life, we keep track of where our money is going and where it’s coming from.  We listen to sermons and Dave Ramsey the heck out of being good stewards over our finances.  But rarely does anyone tell you the cost of not being a good steward over the one thing you came into this world with – your body.

God has put in eternal effort and endless time crafting bodies that are fearfully and wonderfully made, but we allow others to make withdrawals that they didn’t earn and can never repay.  Now to those of you reading this who have never crossed physical boundaries in relationships, do you think the breakdowns you’ve allowed in emotional and spiritual barriers are any less expensive?

No matter the line crossed, we’ve all been there.  Feeling as if pieces of us are missing after every break up or failed relationship.  It’s only natural to give of yourself when taking the risk of getting to know a significant (or insignificant) other.  And I’m not trying to make you feel hopeless or fear condemnation.  Because I serve a God who can replace all that’s been lost and repair what’s been broken.

But before you tether yourself to another, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, outside of marriage.  Ask yourself, what are you worth?  Are you willing to pay the price of regret, shame, and heartbreak?  Our minds, hearts, and bodies should be bound to Christ and his promises.  I’m not saying it’s easy or even easily attainable, but the price He paid has established this as the best investment you’ll ever make.

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roz Roz

Hey there!  My name is Roz.  I’m a full time working, single, homeschooling mother to the world’s funniest 5 year old on the planet.  I’m an introvert who is obsessed with bacon.  I like to play music extremely loudly in my car and will keep singing at full voice even when you turn to stare.  I also blog occasionally over at beautyfullyflawed.com where I write words about Jesus, homeschooling, and the beauty of imperfections.  I look forward to sharing my imperfections with you, as well.