Saying No to Mr. 90% Right

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Check out my latest published article, which is featured on SingleMatters.com, a blog/webzine for single Christians!

One week after Valentine’s Day, I put the final nail into the coffin of a relationship I knew wasn’t going to work: I made our relationship Facebook official.

I met Chris on Match.com. After two years of online dating, I had been on what felt like a million first dates. Mr. Wrong, Mr. Uncommitted, Mr. Finding-Himself – I had met them all. I had passed the 30th birthday mark and was starting to fear that marriage might not happen for me.

Read more here!

Stress and the Single Life

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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.

Make Forgiveness Your New Habit

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Here’s a little tidbit about me.  I’m not one of those people who typically makes new year’s resolutions.  I’m like Ebenezer Scrooge or the Grinch, but for December 31st instead of Christmas.  I’ve always been of the mind that resolutions make for temporary fixes to mask much deeper and more complicated problems.

But despite my feelings of antipathy towards committing to a lack of commitment for the new year, I realized that there truly was something to the old adage ‘new year, new me.’  And somehow that new me will include forgiveness.

So, yes I want to tone up and get at least a 2 pack this year.  But it has also been brought to my attention that in order for any other resolutions to fall into place, I have to make forgiveness a priority.  Bah humbug.

Now before you get all religious on me and stop reading because you feel you have no one to forgive, you’re probably wrong.  We all have that one person (or five) that you would rather walk over hot coals than honor any portion of their being.  We all harbor a little unforgiveness in us somewhere.  And here’s why: most humans will not engage in activities that don’t benefit our lives in some way.

Volunteering make us feel warm and tingly, worship make us feel connected, bungee jumping gives us a rush of adrenaline.  Forgiveness does not do that.  At least not at first.  But it is still necessary.

So in the spirit of the New Year Scrooge-ness, I’m going to list 5 reasons why forgiveness is annoying, but I am still resolving to make this a new habit in 2017:

1) Forgiveness is not what you think it is.  You’re going about your life, thinking that you’re spouting forgiveness out of your ears.  But most of us have a somewhat tainted perception of what forgiveness really is.  So imagine my shock when I learned that forgiveness is not repression.  Or indifference.  Or avoidance.  Or putting on a fake smile while inwardly plotting your revenge.  And I was so proud of myself because I had absolutely perfected the apathy-forgiveness move.  But real forgiveness doesn’t involve pride or feeling ‘better than’ someone else.  And it also does not end with shutting someone out of your life.  

2) You can’t pick and chose. All of us have a list of unforgiveables.  Things we would absolutely not forgive.  Like stealing, cheating, gossiping, or being a Dallas Cowboys fan.  But Jesus did not die on a cross to forgive just 86% of our sins. Yet many of us are holding onto that 14% of unforgiveness for others because we feel justified in doing so.  And I don’t know about you, but I’m so glad Jesus will forgive me having to pull out a calculator to determine that 100 minus 86 equals 14.

3) You can’t do it by yourself.  And this one is really hard because I absolutely adore doing things by myself.  I’m a diehard introvert who enjoys books, naps, and Netflix.  But forgiveness is not something you can tackle without a whole heap of help.  I’m talking Holy Spirit help.  In fact, you may want to go ahead and call in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit for this one.  Some of you have people in your life that will require the entire Triune to make forgiveness even a smidge of a possibility.

4) It can rob you of your blessings.  Whoops.  Struck a nerve there.  This one hit me the hardest.  Especially when I think about praying for my future husband.  What if I carried those same feelings of insecurity, brokenness, inability to trust, or false forgiveness (see #1 for reference) into my marriage?  All because I had not truly forgiven the men who came before?  Sure, I could possibly meet my spouse before truly forgiving those who have done me wrong.  But would you rather walk into a marriage because he has allowed you to experience grace, or because you are protected by his blessings?

5) It is everything you don’t want it to be. It is saying that person’s name without feeling like your skin might fall off.  It is someone telling you that person has fallen on hard times and you hit your knees in prayer rather than celebrate and cha-cha slide.  It is being as genuinely happy for them as you would be for a true friend if God decides to bless them.

Can you say that about everyone who has done you wrong?  And would God be most glorified if you sought revenge or if you chose to love, forgive, and honor that person? Then maybe you should add forgiveness to your list of resolutions for 2017.  And stick to it for life.

Although the process may not be entirely awesome, you must embrace the suck.  Because hanging onto that 14% just isn’t worth missing out on the 100% Christ gave for you.  No calculator needed.

“If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, GROW UP.  You’re kingdom subjects. Now life like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:46-48

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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.

Returning to a Dry Well

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Yesterday one of my best friends sent me a text that said that once more, her on-again/off-again boyfriend had decided not to pursue a relationship.

For the past three years, this man has appeared in her life.  The relationship fell victim to a common failing of long-distance relationships: at the beginning, the long weekend dates were romantic and exciting, yet once they started spending more time together, the differences and problems were more apparent.  Although she was the one who ended it, my friend was still crushed.   It was over.

Yet every few months, he contacts her.  This time, he was “just driving through Columbus and wondered if she wanted to get lunch.”  The year before, it was a Valentine’s day visit that became a full weekend.  It’s the random text that returns to weeks of communication.  The feelings of love and attraction stir up and it’s off to the races.

To give her tremendous credit, she has been strong and clear-headed.  Even as her hopes are raised, she has also kept in the front of her mind why they broke up – even more so with each successive time that he shows back up only to end in disappointment.

As her friend, though, I am angry on her behalf.  To me, it is like my friend is being lured back time and again with the promise of living water, only to find herself again at the same dry well.  The man in question knows that nothing has changed.  He has nothing new or different to give her.  It is only illusion that he offers.

I have also been trapped by a dry well.  Like the Israelites walking circles in the desert for 40 years, I seemed to always return.  Even when I knew it would go nowhere, even when I knew that I would be hurt, I STILL went back. It sometimes felt like I had lost control of my own actions.

The problem for me was that there was no one else.  I would go on dates, get discouraged, and in that moment of weakness, I would return to the person who would give me some emotion, even if it was a negative one.  It might not have been a good relationship, but it was A relationship.  That was better than the loneliness that I felt.

Like the proverbial woman at the well in the Bible, rather than seeking living waters, I returned to what I knew.  It never got better.  Instead, it just poisoned me.

What is more, with each time that I went back, it dug a deeper hook into me.  Although it seemed harmless at the time – like scratching an itch – it instead was causing deep damage that even today I feel its effects.  What should have been a momentary blip – a flirtation that passed and was soon forgotten – instead became a de facto major relationship in my life due to the sheer length of time, which I will always remember.

Similar to the woman at the well, we may not realize at first that we are at a dry well.  It seems good, it seems real.  But once we have had our own come to Jesus moment, we need to recognize the truth and turn away.  Not just that time, but permanently.

Do not return to that dry well.

Join the conversation!  What dry wells are you returning to?

The Truth about Singleness and Marriage

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I have been married only a couple of months.  So I don’t pretend to be an expert on marriage.  But for someone who spent her adult life up until this point without any longterm relationships, being married has been a tremendous learning curve.  So here’s what I’ve learned:

Being Single Long-term did not Ruin my Shot at a Good Marriage

I had read somewhere that people who wait longer to get married ruin their ability to be in a good marriage because they are so set in their own ways.  I have not found that at all.  My husband and I have yet to have had a single argument over household stuff.

Now, I am perhaps not the norm because I almost always had a roommate, so I never was out of the practice of living peaceably with another person.  But I think it is more about people’s personalities (neither of us are OCD) than being single.

Being Single Long-term did not Make Me Selfish

Related to the above, I had been worried that my years of singleness and always doing whatever I wanted had made me more selfish.  I wasn’t used to caring for someone all the time.  Maybe it would become grating.

Again, it’s only been a few months, but so far, nope!  In fact, I love taking care of my husband.  He’s a good man and I get a lot of joy in demonstrating my love for him on a daily basis.

Being Married does not make me Complete or Whole

We’ve all heard the Jerry McGuire phrase: “You complete me.”  You probably already knew this was crap.  I knew, but I think a part of me still believed.  I thought having someone with me all the time would cure my ____(fill in the blank).  What has instead struck me is that we were not magically transformed into one person once we took our vows.  He is still a stranger to me, just as I am to him.  I hope and expect that over the years we will grow together as we share experiences, conversations, and family.  But it’s going to be a process, not an immediate quick-fix to my own problems of loneliness, insecurity, and depression.

Being Married does not (necessarily) make you More Physically Intimate

While dating, my husband and I were joined at the hip when we were together.  I assumed, based on the trajectory, that this would only be magnified in marriage.  After all, we would be even more physical, not less, right?  We would just be wrapped around each other in one constant cuddle.

But I was wrong.  Once we got married, it seemed like that was permission for everyone to go back to doing what they had been before.  We still hang out on the couch together and like being together, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not like we’re giving each other our full, undivided attention like we were before.

And yes, sex has been added to the equation, but if I added up the total amount of time that we spend locked in an embrace, I think it’s actually less in marriage.  At least right now.

I could add more and I am continuing to learn.  Marriage is a gift.  But so was singleness.  I am incredibly lucky to be married to an amazing, loving, kind, and generous man.  Marriage isn’t what I thought it would be exactly, but then that’s the case for most things that God is involved in, and He’s most definitely in the midst of marriage.

Join the conversation!  Does this speak to you?  What expectations have you had about marriage?

The Wall

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It’s hard to believe that we have reached the final month of 2016!

December, a time of festive events, sparkling lights, and warm magical feelings. And growing up, there was nothing more magical to me at Christmas time than a department store.

As soon as my mother’s fingers loosened on my wrist, I was off to explore this grand kingdom. The circular clothing racks would transform into miniature weeping willows. I’d part them to carefully settle into a hidden cave, a cozy and dark hideaway specially carved for me. My fantastical trek was always cut short when my mother’s voice reached through the colorful trees and beckoned me to the register.

Or as I’d call it, “The Wall.”

To a short 6-year-old, the register counter was a particularly annoying presence. Sullenly teasing me with its height, shrouding what was behind it in wallpapered mystery. Balancing on the tips of my Keds with ballerina concentration offered no real revelation. Just slivers. Flashes of dollar bills in metal drawers. Peeks of logoed paper bags. Views of glass merchandise on clear shelves.

I’d only catch drops of what was there before I crashed back on my heels,back into frustrating cluelessness.

For all the joy and beauty of this time of year, it can also bring crisp reflection. We replay the past 11 months and hope for or dread the next 12.

We wonder what’s around the corner. What’s going to happen next year? What awaits us in the next chapters of our lives? What. Is. Next?

But all remains hidden behind the wall of time and our limited understanding.

“I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord; I said, You are my God. My times are in Your hands. –Psalm 31:14-15a (AMP)

Our Heavenly Father cups our entire life in His great, good hands.

He sees and controls what lies behind and beyond the wall, beyond this month, beyond this year. He sees what we don’t. And we can trust Him.

What are you grateful for in 2016? What are you looking forward to in 2017?

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Jennifer Jennifer

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!

Practicing Compassion

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The elderly woman looked at me with a big grin.  “I no English,” she said.  She appeared Chinese, but I had no way of knowing.

“Okay,” I said.  “I’m Joanna.”  I pointed at myself.

She just grinned and nodded.  I inwardly readied myself for a challenge.  This wasn’t going to be easy.

We were standing in my local food pantry last night.  She was a patron and I was about to help her shop.  The only problem was it was a choice pantry.  Meaning that while I could point her in the right direction, she had to make the choices and I had to communicate how many choices she could make in each area.

As we walked around the pantry, moving from area to area, I thought about the issue of communication.  So much has happened in the past week.  So many people in our country clearly weren’t talking before the election because it was such a surprise.  So many people aren’t communicating now.  There’s just anger and fear.

Here, though, communication was more basic.  Beans, one.  Meat, two.  Canned vegetables, four.  I pointed and held up fingers.  At the end, she gave me another big grin and left with bags full of food.

How simple was that communication.  She had a need.  I met the need.  We were both happy.  I wish it were always that easy.

The issues that we face are complex, but they are not unsolvable.  So much of the fear in my country seems focused on immigrants.  Weren’t we all immigrants at one time, I want to ask.  Aren’t we as Christians all strangers to this world?  But the fear continues.

I have felt within myself a huge call to in some way confront that fear, but I’ve struggled to know how. I wanted to say to the woman in front of me, I welcome you.  I accept you.  I acknowledge that wherever you’re from, we’re both human.  But I didn’t have the gestures to say that in a language she would understand.  For me, this act of service would instead be the communication.

As much anger and fear is felt, then that much more compassion do I want to practice.  Jesus has taught us to respond to attacks and mockery with love.  So today, tomorrow, and hopefully for the coming years, I want to be the embodiment of that love, and to be the hands and feet of Jesus in service to my fellow man.

How are you practicing compassion to your fellow man?