Stress and the Single Life

stress2

Overeating.  Sleepless nights.  Too many drinks.  Sound familiar?

I am a Type A overachiever.  I want to reach every life goal set before me, and then crush it.  But when it came to finding a husband, no amount of effort on my part seemed to make a difference.

I created and updated several online profiles.  I joined co-ed meetup groups.  I purposefully joined a church with a large number of singles.  And yet the years passed without any sign of Mr. Right in sight.

As I watched Facebook friends get married, have kids, and post the many “Look at how successful I am!” photos, it became clear: I was falling behind.  I was not meeting my goals.  I was out of the life success race.

I just wanted to cry out to God: what am I doing wrong?  What else do you want me to do?  Why aren’t you answering my prayer?

I didn’t hear an answer—or at least, I didn’t hear the answer that I expected, in the form of a husband riding a white horse, a rose clenched between his teeth (just kidding – that would be weird).  And so I felt forgotten, overlooked, and left behind.

The physical effects on me were classic stress symptoms.  But that’s no way to live life.  As I looked at how I was handling the stress and the negative impact on my health, I realized I had to find rest.  Balance.  Peace.

It’s easier said than done, but the common mantras of “let go and let God” and “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” were on point.  I had to not just give lip service to, but actually accept, that there was nothing that I could do to change my circumstances and to trust that God had it in hand.  When it was the right time, He would bring the right person.

It wasn’t something that I could say just one time and boom!  Cured.  I had to remind myself over and over again.  After every bad date.  After every lonely night.  Dear Lord, I trust that you have my future in your hands.  I know that this time of waiting has nothing to do with me or my imperfections, but everything to do with your perfect plan.  I will not waste my time by stressing.  I will trust in you.

This message of trusting instead of stressing is just training for all of the circumstances in your life that don’t happy as quickly or easily as you want.  Right now, I am having to teach myself the same lesson in regard to waiting on a job.  Dear Lord, I will choose to trust in you rather than stress.  And it’s not easy.  My life feels chaotic, the path before me unknown.  I just want to do something to make a job happen.  I feel like I’ve waited long enough!  But it’s the same story – God has my life in His hands and I have to trust Him with my financial and professional future just as much as I had to trust Him with my romantic future.

And one day I will likely be having to teach myself again while waiting on a baby.  Dear Lord, I will choose to trust in you rather than stress.  There will unfortunately always be opportunities for the devil to use stress to bring us down, make us despair, and negatively impact our health.  It’s not a question of if, but when.  But we have the power in our own hands to defeat the devil, and it’s returning again and again to our faith in the Lord.

The waiting is never easy.  But it’s the lesson in how we wait that God truly wants us to learn.

Proverbs 29

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“The fear of man lays a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord is safe.”~Proverbs 29:25

How much pain would we spare ourselves if we simply trusted our Heavenly Father instead of fearing what people thought?

Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to explain that you’re single and nearing 30, in your 30’s, or even older. There are people who find singleness strange or even unacceptable, especially beyond a certain age. That attitude can cause us to feel pressure to get into relationships. When all those surrounding us seem to be dating, engaged, or married, we can also feel the pressure to get into a relationship.

The key question we need to ask in all of our decisions is this: Am I trusting the Lord wholeheartedly, or worried about what others think?

As Proverbs 29:25 reminds us, what other people think can deceive us in our decisions and thought processes. Here are a few of the “snares” that fear of men lay for us around relationships.

-That it’s time to settle once you turn the age of __ because it is unlikely to find someone after that

-The belief that being single equals being inferior

-The belief that if we were to lower some of our standards, it would be easier to find that special someone

-The belief that God’s laws about intimacy and marriage are outdated

These are only some of the snares that we must dodge! Doubtless, you have encountered other snares as you’ve undertaken your journey. These snares only keep us from living the abundant lives that the Lord is waiting to give us. They keep us trapped in doubt and negativity. Instead of being safe in God’s will, we open ourselves up to all sorts of heartbreaks, including premature or wrong relationships.

Trust in the Lord and His will for our life brings peace. Trying to fit our lives into society’s framework when God has another plan only brings unnecessary heartache. Following God’s will brings blessings (not always immediate) and peace.

I grew up in a very conservative area where it is the norm to get married in one’s early 20’s. God’s will for my life definitely did not follow that pattern. Have I had opportunities to jump into relationships or even be engaged by now? Yes—but the Lord revealed other paths, and I had no peace until I made the decision to obey Him.

If we trust in the Lord around our future marriage and in every area of our lives, we will be protected from much pain. Though trusting God and awaiting a husband for long years may open us up to criticism from people, the Lord will surely bless and protect us as we seek His heart above all.

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lianna-headshot Lianna

Hello! My name is Lianna. I am 27 years old and live in Cleveland, Ohio. I am a case manager for refugee mothers. My favorite things are traveling, learning other languages, singing, and journeying with others. I blog and hope to inspire others at sunflowersojourn.wordpress.com.

Proverbs 14

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Proverbs 14,30 : “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” NIV

As I’m approaching 30 (which is really scary that in less than a year my life would have spanned three decades), I can measure my life, and my single years, in decades. I started to do some inventory of my life. This included of course one of the most frustrating part of this season – lack of a ring on my finger. I must confess, I’m pretty contrary in my approach to this fact.

First, I would really (and I mean really really) like to be married. I have a problem with the fact I’m single and never dated and I have tons of insecurities about it. First and foremost – if nobody ever was interested in me in a romantic way then there is high probability that no one ever will. And that is depressing. “Whyever would you make me this way with this desire if me being this way is against fulfilling this desire?” I asked the Lord this question many times.

On the other hand, I feel really close to the Maker and His Son. I go to them with everything and I love to lay my tears at their laps. The combination of the two mindsets makes me a little weird, doesn’t it? 🙂 The first is surely based on envy in some part – you can see how it disrupts my relationship with the Lord.

Pinballing between my grief in being single, being constantly rejected and going to God with my sorrows I understood one day, that it is true – I MAY NEVER GET MARRIED. And you know what? It influenced my life in a profound way. Maybe there was really nothing to wait for. Maybe this was it – my single life may be all there is in the future.

Then came the decision – to live life fully now, without waiting for some grand event to start living. This meant revising my dreams and starting to realize them right now.

So I started writing and some other things. The thing is – our desire for marriage makes us discontented and envious of others that had what we long for. Also hateful towards the life we life now. As soon as I started to fight with that, my life regained colors.

Life is precious at any time. We were given life to live it. Love God, love other people to give them as much God’s love as we can. And to be happy as much as we can.

Don’t let your singleness be just a time of waiting and envy, that, as the Proverbs author reminds us. Let God help you find peace in the middle of your hard single reality – HE CAN. Then hold onto this peace, which will give you a chance to live this life to the fullest.

Join the conversation!  Can you empathize with the above or what struck you from Proverbs 14?

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anna Anna

Hello everyone! I am an almost 30yo single woman living in Europe. Professionally a civil engineer, off hours I live to write and sleep 😉 . After struggling a lot with my singleness I try to live the fullest live that God gives me. Medieval reenactment is also a part of my life so I consider my life filled by the Lord to the brim.

Proverbs 5

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“For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.” Proverbs 5:3-4

I stared at the screen in shock and horror. The man with whom I had been flirting for months at work – who had been flirting with me – already had a girlfriend.  He had never mentioned her to me, had given no indications.  I had only found out through some good old-fashioned Internet stalking.  And here I was, an adulteress.

The flirtation had started out innocently enough.  Just some traded jokes, the kind of sarcastic witticisms that were just the type to hook my interest.  It hadn’t felt like anything wrong.

But the comments had turned into phone calls and inside jokes and at some point, a light switched on inside me.  My breathing became shaky when I talked to him, and my heart pounded to the point I could barely pick up the phone.  Our communication was all under the veil of work, but to me it had taken on a greater significance.

What’s more, he knew and encouraged it.  I tried several times to break it off, even telling him that I didn’t think it was right to flirt at work.  And yet every time that I seemed to successfully halt the communication, he would email me with one of our inside jokes and back I would fall.

Finally, I simply told him that if he was interested in me, he should ask me out.  And he didn’t.  Crushed, I turned to the only tool at my disposal, trying to figure out answers – Facebook.  And there the real truth was.  Another woman.  More, I was the “other woman” in this triangle!

I never confronted him.  I doubt he saw what he did was wrong.  To him, they were just words. But I learned an important lesson: to not fall into the trap of flirtation without substance and truth behind it.

Men and women of Christ will not lead you astray but will pursue a real relationship.  Do not be distracted by others’ honeyed words and smooth speech.

Join the conversation!  Have you had a similar experience or what struck you from Proverbs 5?

Following the Lord’s Direction

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Are you following the Lord’s direction or just turning down whatever path appears?

In the Book of Numbers, the Scripture describes how the Israelites followed the Lord when they were in the desert: when the cloud of the Lord settled over the tabernacle, the people remained in camp and when it lifted, they moved to follow it.

Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.  (Numbers 9:22-23 NIV)

I think about how hard that must have been, when they were just waiting for the cloud to lift.  I am sure they had times when they wanted nothing more than to move on, but the cloud had not moved – or when they were content in the place they were, but the Lord kept moving them.  They did not have a choice; they had to follow the Lord.

As with so many things in the Bible, what happens physically in the Old Testament becomes metaphorical in the New Testament.  Our choices may not be geographical, but we have plenty of other choices that confront us. Do I stay in this job or change jobs?  Do I date this person or that person?  Should I be focusing on getting married, or spending more time in volunteering?  I’ve often wished that I had such a clear sign from the Lord.

The reality, though, is that we do have clear signs from the Lord, if we wish to heed them.  We have the Scripture, the Church, and the Holy Spirit to direct us.  When those three things combine, we can know that we are moving in the right direction.

Next month, we are starting our study of Proverbs.  This is a book of wisdom, teachings from King Solomon to his people to instruct them in the right way to go.  As Scripture, it is God-breathed and meaningful for us today.  Being familiar with God’s word gives us a firm foundation so that we can confidently move in the way that he has already determined for us to go.

Are you facing a decision or a choice in your life?  Then I encourage you to come join us next month for our daily reading of Proverbs!  Trust me: I can guarantee that you will be the better for being more familiar with these teachings!

 

 

 

The Lord Already Knew It Would Rain

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“The Lord already knew it would rain today.”

Those were the words of my pastor on Sunday, looking out at some dismal weather on the day of the church’s “Get in the Game” outdoor extravaganza.  Emphasis on “outdoor.”  Ministry leaders had come from all over the city and even another state to share service opportunities with my church.  As the service continued, however, the rain steadily grew stronger.

I was already feeling anxious, but for another reason.  Sunday was also the day of my wedding shower.  After weeks of no rain, we had invited friends and family to bring their lawn chairs and outdoor games.  My bridesmaids and best friends had spent hours yesterday preparing.  It wasn’t looking good.

The pastor shared the weeks of planning that had gone into the event.  The coordinator had had nightmares as she watched the looming forecast.  But even though the worst had happened and indeed, the rain had come, my pastor’s faith and confidence were not shaken.

“The Lord already knew it would rain today.”

The words resonated in me.  While I was feeling disappointed, the Lord was not.

The Lord was not sitting in heaven, thwarted in His plan.  While we may have seen the poor weather as a defeat, God did not.  He was still going to accomplish what He set out to accomplish.  Rain, a temporary weather pattern, was not going to stop the Lord’s work.  Perhaps He even had a greater plan for the rain; maybe it would sort out the wheat from the chaff and those who were only attending the ministry event for the pancakes would stay away, leaving space for connections to be made for the truly interested.

For those of you reading, many of you already know that I am in a season of rain, as my job search has taken longer than I thought.  Where I had stepped confidently before, always assured of my abilities, now I am uncertain.  But the Lord already knew that I would have this season.  He already knew what was going to happen in my life.  And what’s more, maybe He has a plan for it.

For many of you, your season of rain is not a job search, but singleness.  The forecast is gloomy, no ray of sunshine in sight.  You don’t know how long the rain will last.

But God knows.

He already knew of your rainy season, had even foreordained it in many cases.  He knew when it would start and when it would end.  He knew of the rainbow that would follow – He had created it.

While it is not easy to wait out the rain, we know that it is not going to last forever.  We can have faith that God is still King of all our circumstances.  He is not surprised and He still has good plans in store for us.

The Lord already knew it would rain.

Never Had a Boyfriend

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“So…”

He let the word drag out of his mouth so it could collect every crumb of confusion and curiosity before he finally asked,

“You’ve never been in a relationship?”

I was 29 at the time and it was a first date. I remember shaking my head no while nervously sipping on my glass of water.

There was no second date.

This question is easier to deal with at 18. At that age, most of us are inexperienced in both love and life. But after, say 25, the Never Had A Boyfriend chorus begins to descend from a full-bodied mass choir to a few soloists left holding the microphones. And the mic feels heavier approaching and beyond 30.

As my inexperience with men became known, I received varying levels of reaction. Incredulity at the unicorn spotting of an adult woman who has never seriously dated. Admiration at my presumed spiritual zenith since romantic temptations and desires were apparently nonexistent. Suspicion for there was surely a hidden abnormality or flaw that hadn’t surfaced yet to account for the lack of suitors. When I began to try online dating, my absent relationship history perplexed men, and I wondered if they saw me as a project they didn’t want to take on.

The reactions of others ate at my faith and fed my fear. Especially since I had no answer for the inevitable follow-up question: Why?

To be single past a certain age hurt enough. But to be thoroughly single and never have experienced romantic love made me ache with embarrassment.

Until I realized that God’s plans for my life aren’t contingent on experience or what others say.

“The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” Proverbs 29:26 (MSG)

Shortly after the first date I mentioned in the beginning, I finally met my first boyfriend. He ended up becoming my husband.

If this is your story, I urge you to rest in this simplicity: There is nothing wrong with you.

God alone is ordering your steps and it is He alone who has the final say.

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Jennifer Jennifer Richardson

Hi, there! My name is Jennifer. I’m 31 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!