single women, part 2: guard your heart = what?

With this post I'm continuing a series I began on being single. The first two posts are listed below in case you want to catch up.  Feel free to just jump right in though!

I want to preface this next one with something I read on a post by my friend, Hannah (her blog and post can be found here). I am not looking down on or trying to lessen the joy and blessing of marriage with my thoughts on singleness. In fact, I hope to do the opposite. I have friends who are richly blessed in marriage, and then I have friends who are richly blessed in singleness. The grass is never greener on the other side; each gift has their own challenges and victories. My goal, really, is to talk about satisfaction and contentment in the Lord no matter what your status or station may be.  I am not waving the "singleness" flag with no thought for my married friends, and with careless regard to the fact that I may and probably will get married someday. "Singleness" is not an idea to rest in or be comforted by - Jesus is. This isn't a battle cry for independence and a false sense of freedom. These are Truths that have helped me remain content, and that I long to see others taking hold of and believing. Only through a relationship with Christ will peace be found.

Well that was longer than I had expected so let's just move along to a verse that is almost preached at young girls when they are nearing the age of relationships: Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."

This verse is not talking about dating relationships. I'm sorry, it's just not. A father is instructing his son to keep wisdom in his heart, to love and cling to understanding, and to heed his instruction.  This verse is talking about how important it is to guard what goes into our hearts, and to be careful what we train our hearts to love.  In that sense, it can be applied to dating, but how? "Guard your heart" is such an abstract idea.

Several of my guy friends wisely told me this: "Girls should not start liking a guy until he has made it clear that he is interested in pursuing them." Wow. I'll even back it up with scripture. Song of Solomon has this phrase in it three times! "Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires." That seems pretty clear to me. It's a command!

I'll say it again just so we can really think about this - girls should not start liking a guy until he has made it clear that he is interested in pursuing them.  Let's break this down, because let's be honest, we ladies are smart and we like to find loopholes.  What do you mean "liking a guy?"  Friendship? Encouraged! Admiration? Even more encouraged. Respect? Yes!  We should look at the men around us and see the good in them, admire the Lord in them, and respect their Godly decisions.  Affection? Hmm, maybe. I think that some relationships with friends can share affection in a brotherly/sisterly fashion with no harm done, but this is rare and you start walking a fine line.  Attention? Stop right there.

I think where we fall into a trap is when we start desiring their special attention. Or we start taking time to think about how we can be with them and capture their attention. And then we start daydreaming about consuming their attention.  The only thing that should consume our minds and hearts like that is the Lord and his wisdom, his instruction, and his leading.

Why do they call it "wooing?"  Because our hearts as women are secure and not freely given away.  Or they should be.  The man must pursue to get to know a heart, to win it over!  When we "like" a guy before he has done that, there is no pursuit, no "winning," no victory for him when he finally gets to his prize. And what a prize it is when he has labored for it! The victory is cheap when it is handed to him.

My last thought on this is that desiring someone's attention gives the devil a foothold in our lives.  Our hearts are consumed with this one thing and we no longer have the energy or the time to fight the sin battles that we are meant to fight. This time of undivided attention to the Lord is the perfect time to let Jesus refine us - show us our imperfections and then patiently work through them. Let's not let our attention be divided among suitors who haven't even knocked on our door yet.

This post is part of a series on being a single woman. Please post comments, thoughts, stories, questions, etc. Next post on "holy longings." Thanks for reading!


"I'm single because I was born that way." (Mae West)

August 26
"Dear Lord, please begin to prepare me for my future husband and prepare him for me that we might be perfect for each other when we meet."

September 7
"Lord please help me to be like Hosea. Help me to obey you without question. Help me to not try and figure out my husband at such an early age. Allow him to come to me when it is the right time."

These are excerpts from my journal that I wanted to share with you. Unbelievably enough, they were written in 1998. I was twelve years old when I started praying about getting married. I admire my intentions, however my mind was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Matthew 6 charges us to not worry about tomorrow, and here I was worrying about years down the road!

I share this with you only to stress the fact that this has been a struggle all of my life.  I used to daydream about adventures with my "prince" where we would ride off into the sunset. You only think I'm kidding.  Every extreme you can think of, I dreamt it up in my wild imagination and let it carry me into the clouds.  I write, today, as a changed woman, only by the grace of God, but changed wholeheartedly nonetheless.  The new perspective and wisdom that I now live by came with great heartache, more than just a little resentment, and much discipline.  The heartache was not necessary, and I could have definitely used without the resentment, but the practice was absolutely vital.  It takes great care to replace lies with Truth, and great perseverance.

The Lord has been trying to teach me true satisfaction in Him, but it wasn't until after I had let a boy break my heart for the nth time that I was finally ready to listen.  This was just this past year, actually, over Spring Break. I listened to two sermons that rocked my world...literally.  It was the perfect pairing of me being broken and ready for filling, and Truth being readily available. I challenge you to listen to them with an open mind and a soft heart.  It is a two part series called Single-Minded (Parts 1 & 2) from the Village Church in Dallas, focusing on who God says we are.

Since then, the Lord has been teaching me how He feels about singleness. He loves it! Paul says that singleness is a gift, and that marriage is a gift, and teaches us to be thankful and productive with our respective gifts - not to desire the other gift, and not to remain idle in any place. I'm tired of hearing "your time will come soon." What time? What if I don't have a "time?" Am I defective? And I didn't realize "time" came for only a certain set of people. Doesn't time just keep coming no matter what?

1 Corinthians 7 talks about how we should live, be it single or married. The gift of singleness is that we can serve the Lord with a single-mind. Our only concern is what the Lord wants. How beautiful is that! And yet as singles (most of us), we roll into church 30 minutes late, waste time sitting on our couch with TV dinners, use our independence and money to vacation more, play more, and consume more. We should be early to church - greeting, serving in the nursery, teaching Sunday school, etc. because we have time! We should stay late because we don't have kids to pick up, lunch to make for our family, and 4x the amount of laundry to do on Sunday afternoon.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31 says, "What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away." This world is not our home! Our kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, so why waste time and emotions wishing we were in another state on this earth? If we should wish for anything, it should be to dwell with our King! Psalm 16:6 says, "The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance."

Indeed, we are richly blessed as we are. A word of caution: do not become self-entitled or too independent as a result.  I think as women we fall into the trap of thinking that until we have a husband, we submit to no man.  That is wrong.  Our lives are a constant and daily discipline in submission to our Lord (more on the practical application of this in later posts).  We lose all perspective that we might have gained when we take our freedom and live for ourselves.  Sadly, this is the mindset that our world operates under.

I did not read or see "Eat, Pray, Love," but I don't think I'm going to.  It is a story of selfishness and self-entitlement that women fall prey to. The idea that we can make a future for ourselves is ridiculous!  Women, we have a beautiful inheritance, NOT a fortune to be made for ourselves.  Author and speaker Marian Jordan has a great response to this skewed mindset here on her blog for Redeemed Girl Ministries.

A question I often ask myself these days is this: If I never marry (and yes, I really mean never), will I live as a person truly satisfied in the Lord? My answer to this is difficult, but it is a quiet and firm "yes." Why? How could I say that when as a little girl, all I dreamed of was a husband? Look what my Savior has said! My status as a single woman is a gift. I have a delightful inheritance. It is better for me to remain single at this time, because the "world in its present form is passing away." Yes, I am lonely...often!  And yet He is always there in the midst of that loneliness, reminding me of my calling to serve as His daughter...
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'" (Isaiah 52:7)

Practice believing these Truths. Practice stepping out in trust, in joy, and in faith. Soon enough, you'll be doing it, and the satisfaction of being in God's will and seeing His blessings in your life far outweighs the earthly satisfactions of this world. The Lord may call you out of singleness, but that is His decision and all in His timing. Rest in His presence at the present hour, and love being there.

This post is part of a series on being a single woman. The introduction is found here - single women. Please post comments, thoughts, stories, questions, etc. Next post on guarding your heart and what that really means. Thanks for reading!


single women.

As the school semester winds down, I find myself already looking for something to devote time to. I have been lax with my writing (mostly due to busyness, but partially due to lack of discipline), and I want to remedy that. My solution - begin a series.

I have many friends who are happily married, and many friends who are still single, including myself. Sharing in their struggles to maintain joy and perspective has inspired much prayer and thought, and I would like to share some of the musings I have on the subject, as well as concrete Truths that the Lord has taught me. My sources will be cited and range from scripture, to sermons, to studies, to conversations with mentors. My hope is that this will be more than just posts that I write - I would love for this to be an interactive process, where you comment, add to, and question the things I say, as well as suggest a topic for the last post which is to be determined by the readers.

The first post will arrive Monday, December 20, and the rest will follow at about 1-week intervals. Let me know what you think, and invite others to join in the conversation! Guys, I'm not excluding you, and would love to hear your thoughts on what I have to say as well.

1. born single. what God says about being single.
2. guarding your heart. what that really means and looks like.
3. holy longings.
4. purpose, part one. what to do with your time.
5. purpose, part two. wasted time.
6. keeping joy. despite your circumstances, or others' circumstances around you.
7. _________. to be decided by you!