So You Heard Me Say Marriage Is Bad

It’s pretty common for readers to hear “marriage is bad” when I say “single is good.” Here’s something to clarify.

I think I know what happened because it's pretty common around here.

I SAID/WROTE something about singleness.  I said it is good or I love it or more people should consider it or it's amazing for my relationship with God.

But YOU HEARD/READ I hate marriage or I hate men or I think everyone should stay single or some other terrible thing.

So let's get this out here for the record, and for me to link toward for future misunderstandings.

I DON'T HATE MARRIAGE

Marriage was God's idea and I am super into God.  If it's His idea, then I don't hate it.  All of my closest friends are married and they have great marriages - marriages I would do anything to support.  Not wanting something is not the same as thinking it is bad.

For example, I visited a pool the other day with my son.  I did not feel like swimming, so I did not swim.  He swam, I didn't, and it was good. See? Not wanting something is not the same as thinking it is bad.

I DON'T HATE MEN

Quite the opposite actually.  I love men.  (Also, I am attracted to men - because some of you were wondering.) And as much as I love and cherish my female friendships, I prefer the company and conversation of men, generally speaking. 

I know and care about many great men.  I just don't want to be married to one.

I HAVE NOT SWORN OFF MARRIAGE

I prefer singleness right now.  The benefits are not something with which I'm willing to part.  But I won't speak for 40 year old me, or 50 year old me - how rude and presumptuous!  Plus, who knows what God has planned, and I certainly won't speak for him.  

Glad we got this cleared up.  

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to send a message or comment.  I want to hear All. Of. The. Thoughts. on this topic because I am compiling my scribbles on singleness into a fun little book.  Your engagement is fodder for my scribbles, so I appreciate every comment (even, and maybe ESPECIALLY the negative ones.)  

*This is an old picture. It's from just before I took a year to be intentionally single.  I've made some crap decisions in this life, but I look at this picture and I want to give this girl a slow clap because she's about to wise up and let God make the decisions. She's about to do something  a little differently. People are going to misunderstand her and think she's nuts and wonder what is wrong with her, but she's going to smile and lean into God and love this life He's leading. I love her.*

Waiting For Ai

Passing By The Thing You Want And Trusting God Has Something Better

When Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land and they were defeating the cities in the area - clearing out the neighborhood so that Israel wouldn't be corrupted by the inhabitants - they first went to Jericho. God specifically told them not to take ANYTHING from Jericho.   They were supposed to burn the whole place down and take nothing for themselves.

One man didn't listen.  He took silver and gold and a cloak, and Israel paid for his mistake. When they went against the next city, Ai, they were ran off and they lost 36 of their men.  When the sneaky man with the loot from Jericho was found out, his family paid - the whole family and everything that belonged to the man was destroyed.  Harsh.

Once he was gone, God led them to defeat Ai.

And then something weird happened.  God told them that they could take the livestock and the spoil of the city as plunder.

They were forbidden from taking from Jericho, but invited to take from Ai.

A bible scholar, or a historian, or maybe even someone who paid more attention while reading the story might be able to tell you what the difference was between the two cities.  They might understand why taking from Jericho was dangerous and taking from Ai was okay.

But really, it doesn't matter for me right now.  I needed to see this story in a new light.  I needed to see how sometimes God asks you to give something up - to pass by silver and gold and fancy clothes.  Sometimes He says "Give that up" or "Pass that by" or "Let that go" with no explanation - no promise of something specific He would give in return.  He doesn't say "Destroy everything in Jericho, I'll let you take what you want from Ai,"  He just says, "Destroy everything in Jericho."

Mrs. Bible scholar/Historian/Person who pays more attention might correct me, but I'm thinking the plunder from Ai was even better.  I bet that if they had known what they were about to receive, passing by Jericho would have been a breeze.   But they didn't know.  What they did know is this: God was taking pretty good care of them.  These are the people who ate manna in the desert and quail when they whined about the boring manna, they saw Joshua part the Jordan, they had JUST seen the walls of Jericho fall because they walked around it and made some noise.  They knew God is awesome.  They knew God can do anything.  But that one guy just could not trust that God had something better, so he slipped some trinkets and a jacket into his coat.

I just passed by something.  I lingered beside it knowing God was saying no.  I attempted a negotiation - "I won't take the whole thing God, how about this little piece of gold, maybe the silver, and how about this coat - I'll never find another one like this - maybe just the coat Lord?"  But I had my marching orders - don't take anything.

So I didn't.

And that's pretty scary.  But I have my own stories of manna and quail and parting waters and thick walls falling.  He is trustworthy.  All of the time.  And if He says to leave the coat and Jewels in Jericho, I'm leaving them.

I'm leaving them, and I'm waiting for Ai.

What To Do When You're Being Scolded

HOW TO HAVE GRACE FOR YOUSELF

HOW TO HAVE GRACE FOR YOUSELF

It was worse than yelling - it was a mean whisper, spewed through clenched teeth. 

I knew it was bad as it left my tongue, but I couldn't reel it in so I watched helplessly as it struck him - as he hid his head behind his leg. 

I tried and botched an apology. 

"I did it because you . . .," is what I told him. 

"You deserved it," is what he heard. And his face stayed behind his leg. 

I am mean, I thought. I'm a bully, I thought. I'm the worst, I thought.

So I took a breath and I tried again.

"That was really mean - the way I said that. I bet it really hurt your feelings. It would hurt my feelings if someone talked to me that way." Pause. A nod from the backseat. "I'm so so sorry. Can you forgive me?"

He said he would, and he lifted his head, and he asked for his burrito. 

He seemed to be over it, because he is loving and forgiving and seven. But I wasn't over it.

I scolded myself, worse than yelling, mean whispers spewed at my own soul through clenched teeth. Until a quiet thought stopped me. 

"It's been a hard couple of days. Your feelings are hurt - anyone's feelings would be hurt. I'm so sorry. Can you forgive you? Can you let this go?"

I decided I could, and I lifted my head, and I reached for a taco. 

*Yes, know better. Yes, do better. Also, know you're not perfect. Also, have grace for your own mistakes. If it helps, picture yourself as a child before you scold and whisper and spew at you ♥*

I'm Done Burying My Talents

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I cringe every time I hear the parable of the talents.

Something weird happens in my stomach.

My face is all crinkly right now just thinking about it.

I'm the servant who buried the money.  I badly want to be the one who invested and multiplied the master's cash, but I'm not.  I took his talent, held it tightly in my fists, put my tail between my legs, and sprinted off to find a good hiding spot.

God gave me a great talent for rationalization (still waiting to see how that can be put to good Kingdom use).  I can convince myself - and probably you - that the very best thing to do right now is to put this coin deep in the dirt, where no harm will come to it, where it will be waiting for the master when He returns.  But the real reason for the digging and the hiding and the burying is FEAR.  Same as the guy in the parable.  He was afraid.  I am afraid.  He is me. I am him.

I have written since I was about six years old - I started with poems.  And I kept writing.  Poems, stories, songs.  A lot of them I keep - tucked away in a drawer or in a box or in a file (I recently ran across a floppy disc with writings from my junior high years - those may be lost forever - it's probably for the best).

I have twice now reached over 20,000 words trying to write the same novel, and twice I have let it dry up.

I made a blog, wrote on it for an entire year, and shared it only with my mom.

I have been afraid for a very long time.  But I'm doing life a little differently now.  I'm getting my hands dirty, I'm digging up talents and starting to invest.  It is scary.  And also a little exciting.  I kind of want to do it more.

Burying is easy and investing is hard.

Burying is the coward's way out.  Burying is not humble.  Burying is selfish.

Burying is listening to the evil little voice who wants to shut me up.  Investing is telling that voice to shut it.

But people don't want to hear what you have to say . . .

You're totally right, billions of people won't want to read what I write.  This is why I don't plan on tying the abstainers to chairs and clothes pinning their eyes open until they absorb my words.

But you really aren't that great of a writer . . .

So what?  Moses sucked at public speaking and Gideon only had 300 men.

Everything I have belongs to God.  This includes my words.  He gets the final say on what I write, where I write, and who sees those words - not me.  It is not humility to hide them in a drawer, it is pride.

On Robin Hood & Freedom In Christ

Finding Freedom In Christ While Still Living In The World

I just finished watching Robin Hood, the three season BBC series, and I am genuinely, pathetically depressed there are no more episodes for me to indulge in.  

Over thinker that I am, I over-thought this today.  Why did I love the story so much?  Why was I so sad to see it end?  Why did I identify so deeply with a story set hundreds of years ago  and why did I (seriously, I know how pathetic this sounds) feel like an actual part of myself was missing when it ended?

I think it's because this is our story.  A kingdom wracked with injustice.  Starving people hanged for stealing bread.  Slave labor in deadly mines.  Livelihoods destroyed over failure to pay an unfair tax. War. Drought. Famine.  And amidst the injustice, character is revealed.

There are those who rebel openly and fight against it - Robin Hood and his men.  There are those who rebel secretly and fight injustice from the inside - Marian.  There are the young and the sick and the elderly who can do nothing - who are at the mercy of the cruel if there is no savior to step in and fight for them.  There are those who have money and title, but who do nothing.  They fear the consequences of helping the poor.  Or they rationalize - helping will not solve anything - sticking their own neck would be foolish.  They stick their heads in the sand.  They protect only themselves.

And there are the villains - the ones who want more and more and more.  More money.  More power - at any cost.  The Sheriff of Nottingham and Prince John and Sir Guy.

We have those characters.  Here in the 21st century we have heroes and rebels and villains.  We have weak and powerless people being crushed by greed and neglect.  We have heads buried deep in the sand.  We have gobs of injustice.

It is our story.  It has always been our story.  It is the result of sin.  It is why Jesus came - to bind up the brokenhearted, to set prisoners free from darkness.  To set us free.  To set everyone free.

We are free.  Right now, we are free

In the series, Robin Hood lost his land and title because he refused to oversee an unjust hanging.  He ran to Sherwood Forrest, no longer an Earl but an outlaw.  In a run-in with a group of outlaws in the forrest, one of them said something that stuck with me -"We are dead men."  They had lost their homes, families, a place in their country, a reason to live - they were simply surviving as men already dead.  Robin challenged them to stop living as dead men.  He gave them a purpose, something to fight for, something to fight against - something to live for.  And later, when he was handing himself over to the Sheriff to protect an innocent woman- when his men said that doing so meant certain death- he said, "at least I will not die a dead man."

He was living free.  Daily willing to lay his life down to protect the innocent.  Entirely devoted to combating the injustices in front of him - never letting an opportunity to right a wrong pass him.  Stripped of everything that his society valued - labeled an outlaw - walking with a price on his head.  But in a way, more free than he could have ever been sitting in his manor, observing the injustices outside his window, and doing nothing.

For 36 episodes, I felt free too.  Living vicariously through a fictional character, I felt lighter, as though my own chains were no longer holding me.  Chains of practicality, of pleasing others, of meeting expectations, of meeting properly set goals and following carefully laid plans.  Chains of achieving, of seeking wealth, of designing a comfortable and contented life.  For 36 episodes, I was with Robin - living as a nomad in the forrest with one set of clothes - eating whatever small animal my friend managed to catch and cook over a fire - facing death every day - stripped of the life I cling to and welcomed into a life of purpose.  A life devoid of so much that I value, but so full of the freedom I crave.

Isn't that what Jesus does?  He strips us of the life we cling to - if we let Him.  He welcomes us into a life of purpose - if we let Him.  I wish I could be like Robin Hood - letting go of the old life easily and bounding into the new one with endless passion and energy and faith.  But I am not like him.  Jesus strips and I cling.  He welcomes and I balk.

And sometimes, I sit in my pj's and lose myself in someone else's story instead of getting dressed and living my own.

I'm setting a new goal - to live free.  I'm laying out a new plan - screw my plans and follow Jesus.  I'll let you know how it goes.

*I wrote this piece about 4 years ago. I am grinning wide as I re-read the end because living free is still the goal, etched deep on my heart though I'd completely forgotten what started the initial spark.  I have spent the years since writing this moving closer, stumbling lots, toward a stripped down life, which I will write some about - eventually.*