Love them more

As a single person, sometimes my friendships with married people can feel a little uneven. My friends don’t have a lot of time/emotional energy left over after caring for spouse and kids. I, on the other hand, have time and FEELS in abundance that I’m only too eager to offer my friends. But when my efforts aren’t matched, that often leads to me feeling like I like them more than they like me, or that I need them more than they need me. That can hurt, and it’s … embarrassing somehow. In love or friendship, we don’t want to be the needier one in the relationship.

So my inclination is to pull back, to deliberately not love my friends as fully as I’m able, and to match what they bring to the friendship, all under the guise of “guarding my heart.” That way, I’m not the needier one, and I’m not expending my emotional energy on someone who can’t return it. Sounds sensible, until I consider a couple of uncomfortable truths:

  1. Jesus loves me freely and generously, even knowing I cannot love him back with the same intensity or to the same degree that he loves me (he will always love me more than I love him, because he is perfect, and I am not). Our Bridegroom is lavish in his love for his Bride.
  2. He commands us to love each other the way he loves us (John 13:34)—that is, to love each other “more,” without keeping score.

Marriage is not the only way to learn to love selflessly. Even in our awkward, one-sided (or what can feel like one-sided) friendships, God is calling us to holiness, to imitate Christ. He is working our singleness for our sanctification. He has freed us to love others lavishly and without reservation. And when you think about it, a lot of our relationships are “uneven.” Parents generally pour more love into their offspring than their children return. Dating couples may find that one person is a little more invested in the relationship than the other at different points. Even married couples may have seasons where one is more eager and ready to do the work of marriage than the other is. We should not be surprised, then, when married-single friendships follow this typical pattern.

Friendships, like anything else, endure seasons—times to pluck up, break down, mourn, refrain, lose, cast away, or keep silent (Ecclesiastes 3). Singles, we may not necessarily be called to “over-love” our married friends in every single season, and certainly some friendships and acquaintanceships require discretion and discernment in how much we give of ourselves. But by and large, fellow singles, take heart. Be like Jesus: give and love the most in your friendships, even knowing it won’t be returned “evenly.”

When life is not what you wanted

I didn’t write as much as I thought I would last year—I count exactly four posts in 2016—but a common theme among those and all the posts I didn’t write is loneliness. I wonder now if I was trying to prove something, like, see, Lord, I have learned All the Lessons, so please relieve me from this pain. Because we tend to do that, don’t we? We think God gives us trials and suffering and unwanted life circumstances to teach us lessons, and the sooner we learn them, the faster the pain will pass, and we’ll be rewarded for hanging in there.

But life is—God is—not so transactional. We are not characters in a video game—shoot enough poison flowers, get an extra life. Gather enough coins, get a new weapon. Defeat the Big Bad, free the princess. A good theology of suffering is not about what we do, or how well we bear it, but about what God is doing with it. Who can know exactly why he does what he does? The Sunday School answer, of course, is “for my good and his glory,” but why sickness for this person and health for another? Why singleness for this one and marriage for another? Why this, why that? I am tired of asking such questions, for they offer no answers, and possibly never will, because despite my best efforts, I’m actually not the one running the show here.

Ecclesiastes says that even wisdom and knowledge are ultimately meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I don’t think that means it’s wrong to be wise or to know facts, but that answers are not the goal. Job didn’t get any; why would we?

Sometimes I think, I did not sign up for this. This life feels arbitrary, or like I got gypped, or even like God has forgotten me. But a few things the Spirit keeps impressing upon me:

  1. God loves me the most—not that he loves me more than he loves others, but that he loves me more than any person ever could. So whatever he does must be borne out of that perfect love, and be good.
  2. He will bring us to a place of abundance. A few verses that I have meditated on over the last year, sometimes through tears, are from Psalm 66:
    For you, O God, have tested us;
        you have tried us as silver is tried.
    You brought us into the net;
        you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
    you let men ride over our heads;
        we went through fire and through water;
    yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance. (v. 10-12)
  3. Better this life, with all its aches and pains, came from God than from Satan, or from myself. Many words have been and will be spilled over God’s sovereignty, human responsibility, and Satan’s role in suffering. This isn’t the place to rehash all of it, but my hot take is that I am more at peace believing that my suffering comes from the hand of God himself, because he loves me and wounds to heal, not kill. If suffering came from Satan or my poor decisions apart from God’s direction, then God would merely be a paramedic who rushes in after the damage has been done, not a wise, trustworthy, in-charge Father.

Rolling into 2017, exactly zero things in my life look like I thought they would at this point. I can’t analyze the one I want into being, or learn the right lesson in order to move on to the next level. All that’s left to do is to just live my little life—the one I’ve been assigned, my portion.

Life is hard. God is good. Let’s roll.

Some things that are true

love Christmas. We’ve had the tree up at our house for a few days now.

My cube at work is decked out with Christmas lights and a two foot tall tree, and an almost matching computer wallpaper and snowy screensaver.

You might call this obsessed but I call it BUDDY THE ELF, WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE COLOR?

Holidays + off to a wedding tomorrow (or tonight, depending on when you read this) = Iwanttobemarried fever. I mean, it is like the flu… I am mostly okay with the whole being single thing but once a year or so, I come down with AllIwantforChristmasisahusbanditis, with a touch of IwishIhadsomeonetomakegooglyeyesatduringcrazyfamilygatherings (sorry I said that, family, but you know I speak the truth), followed by an epidemic of IneedchildrensoIhaveanexcusetowakeupearlyandopenpresents (did I mention I love Christmas?). BUT another thing that is true is that because of Jesus, I do not have to stake my joy in marriage and I can be confident that His grace is enough. Amen and amen.
I bought a pair of jeans the other day. They have an elastic band. And I like it. I am both amused and horrified by this. Next on the list is a pair of sensible shoes. Someone stop me before I get to the embroidered sweatshirts.
It is 33 degrees outside and I am sitting on the couch under three layers of blankets, shivering. I’m concerned that I won’t survive the actual winter. Am I really the same person who braved a blizzard for Cherry Coke earlier this year? 
This may or may not have been the highlight of my day today.

I just realized that picture looks like I murdered a pastry but it’s Cherry Cobbler Cake. My boss made it for our monthly Treat Day at work and I may or may not have had two slices. It’s what Buddy would do.

What are you doing for Christmas this year?

Lazy Saturday

You allllllllll. It is 4:01pm on Saturday afternoon, and I’m so happy to report that I’m still in my pajamas. Well, and a little embarrassed but mostly happy. Now I’m debating whether to continue watching season 1 of Psych or pay a visit to my good friend Ann Taylor Loft. I know, this is a riveting, ground-breaking decision but I’m just so happy about the pajama thing that I can’t think straight.

Speaking of Ann Taylor Loft, let’s talk about Pintrest (you might think they are unrelated but oh you just wait, my friend. you. just. wait.). Have you discovered the wonder that is Pintrest? It’s basically like a virtual bookmarks page for all your favorite things, so at first glance, it seems redundant. But without Pintrest, how would I find fabulous things like these:

or my new favorite:
(If you ever ask me where I live or where I am, I am totally going to reference that quote above)
So yah, Pintrest is amazingness. However, Pintrest is also dangerous. In addition to ideas for crafts and recipes and things that make me LOL, there are also a lot of “motivational” weight loss pins. Some are kind of helpful in putting things in perspective (“No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch”); others are downright mean (letters on the fridge spelling out, “Walk away, fatty!”). On top of that, I’ve seen a lot of pins with skinny women and the comments below them say something like, “My goal weight!” or “I wish I looked like her.” 
That, coupled with totes adorbs pins like these:
leave me hoping in outward appearances for my acceptance. 
Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely one of those people who could use some of that motivation to lose a few pounds myself. I get where these ladies are coming from and sometimes, when food is a big problem, maybe we need to be a little harder on ourselves in order to be more disciplined. But I also know that looking at pictures of skinny, air-brushed women and lamenting the fact that I don’t look or dress like them that tend to distort my perspective. I start attributing all of my problems to my waistline, like this: “Maybe if I lost more weight and wore more jewelry and had nicer clothes and a better haircut or wore more makeup or always had on nail polish… maybe I’d be married by now or people at work would take me more seriously or I would have more friends.” 
That part is whack, man. Yes, one should eat healthy and take care of one’s body and look clean and polished in professional settings and if you can’t even take care of some basic grooming habits or know how to dress yourself, well, things will be different for you is all I’m saying. But it’s a lie to say that my clothes or nails or hair should determine the quality of my relationships.
I’ve been reflecting on the truth of 1 Peter 3:3-4:
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear — but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.  
Scripture does not say that we should not dress up or work out. However, God does say that we shouldn’t find our hope in such things. So maybe while I’m shopping at Ann Taylor Loft, I should remember that my joy is not made complete in the cute cardigans or darling dresses, but in Christ alone. 
(If I have to tell you the caption for this picture, we can’t be friends).
If you need me, I’ll be at the corner of Awesome and Bombdiggity. Happy Saturday!

On friendship

I’ve been thinking about friendship this week, particularly in the context of church relationships. Mark Driscoll, Jared C. Wilson and Kevin DeYoung have each written on the topic this week and have some good thoughts to share. I’d like to weave some sweet story or tasteful introduction to each series but it’s 99 degrees and words have failed me, so without further ado, here we go:

Mark Driscoll on The Pastor and His Wife Get to Pick Their Own Friends – Part 1 and Part 2.

Jared C. Wilson on what friendship is and isn’t: Thoughts on Friendship (Part 1) and Grace-Driven Friendship (Part 2).

Finally, Kevin DeYoung’s The Gift of Friendship and the Godliness of Good Friends is a longer series, but well worth the read. I appreciate his thorough examination of friendship, especially within the context of church relationships. You can read Part 1 here, Are You a Fake Friend (Part 2)?, Are You a Foul Friend (Part 3)?, and Are You a Faithful Friend (Part 4)?

What I appreciated about each of these posts is that they convicted me to search my own heart for specific ways that I may be failing as a friend, rather than encourage me to commiserate about how other people aren’t being good friends. I’ve read many “Christian” perspectives on friendship over the years that were often along the lines of something like, “God is close to the lonely,” or “Even when you feel like your friends have forsaken you, Jesus is the most faithful friend you’ll ever have.” Both are good and true sentiments (praise God for His compassion!) but also I’ve also found that they  inadvertently encouraged me to adopt a victim mentality and assume that if I was feeling lonely, then it was someone else’s fault.

Friendship goes both ways, though, and as someone who tends to look for the log before taking care of the speck, I’m grateful for these Gospel-centered posts that encourage me to examine myself first!

Rethinking singleness

Have you heard about this? The brouhaha about whether pastors should be single? I wasn’t going to give it much thought – I’m not a pastor, nor do I intend to be – but then I read this thoughtful post by Steve DeWitt. I encourage you to read the whole thing because he makes several good points, but I was edified by his paragraphs on being single well:

“… There are practicalities about marriage and ministry that advantage the married pastor in some categories. Every married pastor would affirm that a godly wife is a wonderful blessing both personally and pastorally. We should recognize and celebrate that a married pastor’s marriage is a tremendous asset in both his personal growth into holiness and the resources it generates for shepherding a flock.

But we must also recognize that a pastor’s singleness is equally valuable in different ways. Speaking from experience, singleness has its own anvil on which God shapes character and pastoral gravitas. In addition, single pastors have some tremendous gifts to share with their congregations. When I speak of my loneliness, how many hearts leap with hope identifying with my trial? When my voice quivers as I describe life lived with unmet and unfulfilled expectations, what heart can’t hear the echo? A normal red-blooded, sexual, single, Christian man battling all the normal desires yet pursing contentment in Christ is a living sermon that Jesus alone is sufficient. These strengths, combined with the greater energy and time that single pastors can pour into their churches, should lead us to conclude that singleness ought not be viewed as a negative. If Paul was serving on the search committee, I think he’d argue for it as a positive.”

I may not be a pastor, but I could resonate with the tension he describes. Being single is a blessing. I rejoice that I can be the flexible one and serve my friends by adjusting to their schedule and needs. I’m thrilled to have time to pursue the things that God has given me to love, like blogging, reading, the church and (other people’s) children. I’m relieved that none of my kitchen “experiments” are causing my family to starve – I’m grateful for this time to refine my culinary skills. 😉

However, I admit that it’s not without its pangs. I want to be married. Being single is lonely. I’m blessed by the friendships I have, but my friends and I don’t often have the opportunity to love each other by calling each other out on our sins. We encourage one another and lift each other up, but when we’re done sharing our meal, we go our separate ways. While it’s our natural state to be selfish creatures, I worry that being single makes me more selfish. I’m slower to be thoughtful of others simply because my daily life requires me to think only of myself. I’m finding it harder to be vulnerable because I’ve gotten used to taking care of myself. There’s no one to offer a hug or a listening ear at the end of a long day. I love to cook and I buy all this food only to eat it by myself. It’s weary. Marriage, on the other hand, is a beautiful picture of the Gospel – grace and love and faithfulness and hope in action. And that’s what I’m aching for – to be living out the Gospel.

But God, in His grace, is always faithful. Even in my alone-ness, He is quick to lovingly convict me of sins I can’t (or won’t) always see. God never turns down my pleas for opportunities to serve. And I’m not trying to go all mystical on you, but there have been times, some particularly low times, when I can almost feel Someone holding my hand or enveloping me in love. I don’t understand it or know how it works, but I do not doubt that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”

I’m gaining, I hope, a keener insight into the truth that all things come from God. I cannot do anything to redeem myself or make myself content. I can’t force myself to be a thoughtful person, but I can pray that the Lord would stir my affections for others and have a genuine love for them. I am often unwilling to deal with my sin, so I pray for a teachable spirit that won’t ignore the Spirit’s conviction. And when I feel like my soul might shatter from the weight of being alone, I cry out to Jesus and He never fails to comfort. A godly husband, while wonderful, cannot make those claims.

This, I am learning by not being a wife.

Isn’t that the Gospel? That I can’t do it on my own and that Jesus is enough? Marriage tells a sweet story of grace – so does being single. I’m delighted and relieved and rejoicing in this – Christ is glorified in my singleness. It bears repeating:

“When I speak of my loneliness, how many hearts leap with hope identifying with my trial? When my voice quivers as I describe life lived with unmet and unfulfilled expectations, what heart can’t hear the echo? A normal red-blooded, sexual, single, Christian [wo]man battling all the normal desires yet pursing contentment in Christ is a living sermon that Jesus alone is sufficient.

Yes, only Jesus… only Jesus.

What former English majors do for fun

You guysssss. I just discovered Les Miserables. I know. I am like 20 years late to the party. I don’t know how I can love musicals so much and still managed to let this one slip through the cracks but I cannot stop watching this:

(Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks this Jean Valjean looks like Jesus?)

Or this:

(Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks this Enjolras looks like Patrick Warbuton?)

And just for funsies, this:

(No subtitles on this one – they are singing the song “Do You Hear the People Sing?” in different languages. Except at the end, they include: “Do you hear the people sing?/Say, do you hear the distant drums?/It is the future that they bring When tomorrow comes… Tomorrow comes!”)

I’m even working on the book. “Working” is an understatement here; I’m on page 32. Of 1,260. I am not making this up. Evidently, this is what former English majors do for fun. Tackle books longer than the Bible (I wish I was making that up) for no reason. Maybe my old professor would give me extra extra credit for it (and if you know Prof. N, you know this is probably not a far-fetched idea. I am pretty sure he would be delighted to assign me a 30 page paper, using no internet resources, on the study of socio-economic divides in the early 19th century France and how it relates to the bishop’s silver, our culture today and Nick Jonas.).

There are a lot of Gospel themes in the story. Agony. Sorrow. Forgiveness. Love. Oppression. Guilt. Passion. Death. Faith. War. Grace. Sin. Hope. Whew. My church is going through a sermon series on suffering right now, reflecting on pain and sacrifice and our hopeless state without the Lord. We need grace and redemption but it’s hard to fully grasp that unless we understand our own spiritual poverty. Les Miserables fits so well into that theme, bringing to the forefront something that is common to all of us – suffering and our need for redemption. It’s fascinating the way that different characters respond to grace. Most of them are scared of it. They’d rather work off their debt than accept forgiveness. Some of them would rather die. Why are we so afraid of grace? Why are we hesitant to be forgiven? What is it about being whole but vulnerable that is more frightening than staying broken and believing the lie that we’re in control?

The other thing about Les Miz (am I allowed to call it that? Is that what the cool kids say? Or do I have to read 1,260 pages first before I can be on a nickname basis?) is that it ends with a measure of hope. Jean Valjean taking in Cosette, Fantine sacrificing for her daughter, Enjolras leading the revolution, Eponine risking her life for Marius – it was all for the hope of something better up ahead. While the characters’ hopes are generally in more earthly things – better lives for their friends and families, absolution of sins or love for someone else – it is still a beautiful allusion to the hope we have in Christ.

One of the YouTube commentors (not that I was on YouTube last night, watching various performances for hours on end. Nope. Not me. Not at all. And I definitely didn’t watch them for so long that I’m now thinking in song. Not even a little bit.) put it well: Well, um, I have just been enlighten[ed] by musical awesomeness right now… Excuse me as I burn all that my childhood had me believe was a “musical.”

For. real. I don’t think I can look Julie Andrews in the eye anymore.

Do you like Les Miserables? What’s the longest book you’ve ever read?

The “weight” of glory

You’ve probably heard this joke. An elementary school class was having show-and-tell day and the students were told to bring something in that represented their faith. The Catholic kid brought in a rosary. The Jewish kid brought a yarmulke. And the Baptist kid? Oh, friends, the Baptist kid brought a casserole dish!


It’s funny because it’s true. Haven’t we Christians kind of established food – second only to Jesus – as the answer to everything? I’m pretty sure our secret mantra is, “How sweet the crunch of Cheezits tastes in a believer’s mouth.” Did someone just have a baby? Bring them a meal. Trying to get to know someone new at church? Go out for coffee. Need a “missional” activity? Host a Super Bowl party at church. Want to thank someone for bringing you a meal after having that baby? Make them cookies. Is it Sunday? Have a potluck. And there better be snacks at the next members’ meeting. And Lord? We’re not joking about that whole “give us our daily bread” thing.

So I was amused but not surprised to hear that church makes you fat (I’m taking some artistic license with the conclusion). Northwestern U. has good ‘n’ plenty data to back up their research:

The study, which tracked 2,433 men and women for 18 years, found normal weight young adults ages 20 to 32 years with a high frequency of religious participation were 50 percent more likely to be obese by middle age after adjusting for differences in age, race, sex, education, income and baseline body mass index. High frequency of religious participation was defined as attending a religious function at least once a week.

The proof is in the pudding! Now I know, I know. Bodies = temples. Gluttony is traditionally one of the seven deadly sins. Food can be and is, tragically, an idol for many. But I can’t help it. I cannot help snickering a little bit over here. I have so many questions. Are one’s mounds of love handles in direct proportion to their level of spirituality? Does this mean I’m not a little on the “more to love” side, I’m just super holy? Does your spare tire get you to Heaven faster? And, perhaps most importantly, can I just snarf down some Oreos for the sake of the Gospel? Pleasesayyes.

What do you think, peeps?

I’ve decided to give up housework for Lent

When I was in college, my classmates and I joked about giving up homework for Lent. I know God was impressed with our sacrifice. This year, I’ve decided that my dirty dishes and cluttered table are causing me to stumble, so it would be best for all involved if I just gave up housework for Lent. I am so holy like that.

For real though, did you grow up observing Lent? I didn’t, but I’ve learned a little more about it over the last few years. I think it’s good to be more intentional than usual in the weeks leading up to Easter. It’s so easy, even among the Reformed crowd, to toss the word “gospel” and “cross” and “Christ” and “sacrifice” around like buzz words. Even when we’re speaking truth to each other, we’ve said it so many times that apart from the grace of God, it’s easy for the words to lose their meaning. With that in mind, I’m thankful for a Lenten season that reminds me to be more intentional about reflecting on my sin, Christ’s redeeming sacrifice and His triumphal resurrection and second coming. While we should be more purposeful about pondering these things all of the time, the sad truth is that we aren’t. Having a defined space to do that feels like a reset button, a time to reorient myself and get my bearings back. To me, Lent is to the year what Sunday is to the week.

Also, there is something beautiful about knowing that fellow believers all over creation are in the same kind of season. It’s not difficult to let petty theological and denominational differences divide us, but knowing that brothers and sisters around the world have a similar focus during the Lenten season is cause for celebration because it honors the Lord. To be united in mind, heart and prayer must be a taste of what eternity will be like, a multitude praising Christ as one.

Lent is not as ingrained in our current culture as Easter and Christmas are. While some things, like Ash Wednesday services and fasting, are typical of the season, not everyone who observes Lent will take part in them. Lent is unique in its introspective nature, and so are the ways we observe it. Noel Piper is tweeting a series of Lenten traditions, submitted by her Twitter followers and blog readers. I’m looking forward to learning how other people prepare for this season and maybe adopting my own traditions.

However, I feel the need to be on guard against participating in Lent just for the sake of participating in Lent. I went to an Ash Wednesday service, like I have for the last two years. This time, though, felt different. I think Ash Wednesday services are wonderful and helpful in initiating the Lenten season, but as the evening wore on, I grew more and more aware that I was just there for appearances. I wanted people to think I was holy, basically. A better way for me to usher in the Lenten season this year would have been to stay home, spend some time in the Word and examine my heart instead of putting on a show. Will it be like this every year? I don’t know. Maybe some years, the Lord will use an Ash Wednesday service to touch my heart and being with other believers and receiving the ashes will be just what I need to prepare for Easter. Maybe other years will be better spent preparing in a different way.

Fasting has felt “off” this year, too. I’ve felt compelled to give things up in the past. A couple of years ago, it was Facebook. I don’t remember what I did last year… I probably pretended I was giving up Cherry Coke for Lent, but really, I was just weaning myself off of a caffeine addiction anyway. But I think if I were to give something up this time, I’d be doing it for the wrong reasons again – for show, not for discipline. (Hm, I’m beginning to sense a theme here… I am constantly surprised at the depth of my people-pleasing sin!)

On the other hand, as I evaluate some of my sins and more subtle idols, I do see, as I mentioned in my last post, a tendency towards comparing myself to others and a desire to be liked, both of which rob me of my joy in Christ. For those reasons, I can see myself being more careful about how I spend my time online. I don’t feel burdened to completely give up Facebook, Twitter and blogging, but they can be breeding grounds for discontent when I’m constantly comparing my life to a steady stream of status updates. I am not sure what it will look like to manage my online time during this season, but I am excited for what the next 40ish days hold.

One of the things I am thankful I heard at the Ash Wednesday service was our pastor reading Romans 14:5-12:

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Our pastor encouraged us to do as we felt led, that whether we observe Lent traditionally or not at all, whether we received the imposition of the ashes or not, or fasted or not, to do it all as unto the Lord. He reminded us that there’s no passage in Scripture that says, “Thou shalt observe Lent.” It’s not a mandate or requirement. So with that freedom in mind, I’m eager for whatever the Lord will show me during this season of reflection.

How do you observe Lent, if at all?


Would you indulge me as I make a return to the blogging world, cold turkey, word vomit, say whatever’s been on my mind lately style?

Please and thank you.

1) On being content: When my birthday and Christmas roll around and various relatives ask what I want, I’m slow to respond. I don’t really know, I’ll answer. I don’t really need anything. I thought I was content. Happy with what I have. Not jealous for material things. A gold star for me dodging one of the seven deadly sins. But lately, I’ve been convicted of all the ways that I’m really not content. I’m constantly comparing my circumstances to everyone else’s. Oh, I have a tiny apartment and they’re buying a house. They’re more social than I am. She’s prettier. He’s smarter. They’re married. They’re pregnant… again. And the list goes on. And on. And onnnn… and I realize how very discontent I am. There are a lot of things I am learning, though the lessons aren’t fully fleshed out. The value of a grateful heart. Trusting in God’s sovereignty. Evaluating idols and becoming more and more aware that at the root of my discontentment is a longing to be liked. I’m more concerned about fitting in than about embracing the story God has written for my little earthly life. I’ve been mulling over a Tweet from he-whose-last-name-I-can’t-pronounce I read a while ago – “The gospel frees you from your addiction to being liked.”

2) On addictions: My church is going through a series on suffering. We only just started, but so far the theme has basically been along the lines of, “Even if you lost everything, Jesus would still be enough?” I always thought my answer would be yes. I thought I knew all about suffering. Hearing loss, while not on the same level as, I don’t know, starvation or cancer, has been lonely and I know the Lord has definitely used that in my life to bring me closer to Him. But when I think about really suffering, like being given over to the ravages of cancer or losing a child or having a hole in the ground for a bathroom, I’m less sure of my answer. I often think of the verses that say that discipleship means hating your family, means dropping what you’re doing and following Jesus. I’ll probably be going back to this sermon by Mark Driscoll (linked to a transcript, but you can also watch a subtitled video of the same sermon here.)

3) On emotions. A few posts ago, I lamented my propensity to be emotional, to let my feelings make decisions for me. Since then, it’s not that I’ve become less emotional, but more aware of a God who never changes despite my feelings to the contrary. You know what I am talking about. One day, you have the Jesus warm fuzzies and you’re delighted in the Savior and oh look, bunnies!!! The next day, you can’t stop growling and snapping at everything that crosses your path and you wonder if maybe the Holy Spirit has come down with a bad case of PMS. Or maybe that’s just me… anyway, my other natural tendency in those kinds of situations is to berate myself for letting my emotions get the better of me. “Silly girl, shame on you for not being more in control of your faculties. I mean, you are going to be 28 this year… grow up… manage yourself better, woman!” But that gets me nowhere. Instead, the Lord has been gracious in bringing to mind more of Him – how even when my feelings change, He does not. Our changing moods and emotions are really enslaving, so God being immutable is really freeing.

Okay, people, that was like three posts in one. I’m out. Leave comments. Please and thanks.