Where is God in our Relationships?

I’ve been trying to write about relationships, but I keep running into the same roadblock.  I try so hard to be optimistic about life, but for a few minutes, allow me to express my frustration. 

I love the parts of the Bible where God chooses the humblest of people to accomplish the greatest things.  He chose Moses, the guy with identity issues and a serious fear of public speaking to lead the Israelites back to their homeland.  And let’s not forget that when Jesus was born, it was announced to the poor shepherds before the great rulers.  The angel appeared to them and said “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  This savior came for the ones who are poor, who are oppressed, for the ones who society rejects.

The entire ministry of Jesus was much the same, from the time he went to eat with Zaccheus the short little tax collector to all the times he healed the blind and the sick and the lepers.  I love the stories when God lifts up the underdog, when he makes it known to the world that this person, the one you probably overlooked is the one I am going to work through.  This is the God I know and love—the one who said in the Sermon on the Mount “the last shall be first, and the first shall be last”

But most of the time, when we talk about how God is involved in our dating relationships, I don’t recognize him anymore.  Mostly, I see a God who gives a lot of bad dating advice. This is the God who says he will bring you the right person “in his perfect timing”, which is usually when we’re not looking.  And God’s timing is worth the wait, even if we’re waiting until we’re 85.

When I see the women who are getting married before I am, I can’t help but notice that most of them have straighter teeth and wear smaller pants.  And when I examine my own heart, I am just as guilty, knowing that I too have passed up a few guys who I’m just not attracted to.  While I know there are exceptions, nobody can deny that in general, the people who society views as more attractive are grabbed up sooner.  I know we could probably debate for days about the role of attraction in dating, we could go back and forth about personal responsibility vs. genetics when it comes to “taking care of yourself”, and we could swap stories about all the reasons we’ve loved someone other than their level of physical attraction.  But honestly, that’s not really my point. 

My point is this:  Knowing the character of God, can we really believe that God is perfectly orchestrating our relationships?  Because I feel like so many of my issues with God and with Christianity over the years have stemmed from the belief that he is playing favorites.  Even when it comes to basic provisions, I think we’re too quick to assume that it is God’s will for us to be eating Thanksgiving leftovers for a week and a half while we have neighbors who are waiting in line at the food bank.  Is this really the way that God works? 

I don’t know if there’s really an answer to this question, but I still feel like it’s worth asking.  I think it’s worth re-evaluating how much of a role God plays in the way we choose a husband or a wife.  We can either admit that we have more autonomy than we think when we choose to love people who society views as beautiful and desirable, or we have to admit that our choices aren’t always a good reflection of God’s true character. 

And so, I’m asking for your thoughts.  How big of a role do you think God plays in our dating relationships and the people who we choose to love?

A Spiritual Identity Crisis

I was that kid in high school.  

You know, the one who always took on leadership roles in youth group and memorized scripture in my spare time and brought my Bible to school and got into theological arguments at the lunch table over pizza slices and curly fries.  Needless to say, I wasn’t invited to many parties.  After graduation, I fell out of touch with most of my friends, and honestly, I don’t wonder why. Instead of inspiring me to love and accept others and form deeper relationships, my interpretation of Christianity pushed me away from authentic connection.

Later, I became angry.

I took issue with those Christians who see other humans simply as “outreach opportunities.”  I’ve distanced myself from the evangelism mentality to the point where I go out of my way not to bring up my beliefs in conversation.  Instead of singing “I once was lost, and now I’m found”, I sometimes joke that “I once was found, and now I’m lost.”

continue reading at the rising

What I’ve Learned Traveling Alone

This is coming from a girl who sometimes gets depressed staying in a hotel by myself when I’m traveling for an out-of-town wedding. For me, moving to another country was always on my after marriage list. But somehow, at the age of 25, I found myself getting on a plane, trying to overcome the tightness in my chest and fear of being stranded alone in Guatemala when I know exactly three phrases in Spanish.

DSC_1240

continue reading at single roots

Until the Son of God Appear

emmanuel

The season of Advent is one of my favorite times of the year, though for me it’s also one of the busiest. But it seems that all of the wishing and hoping and praying and waiting I do during the other eleven months of the year is more meaningful during this season. In more modern language, we could probably re-name this season as “The season of waiting”.

As Christmas is approaching this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about what Christmas is supposed to be. Every Christmas special and TV commercial you see shows happy families and smiling shoppers and romance and Christmas cheer. After all, Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time of year. But then I look at my own family that’s dealing with unemployment and sickness and broken relationships and a lot of other baggage. I go Christmas shopping and just see a bunch of stressed-out people pushing each other around to the tune of “All I Want for Christmas is You” playing over the loudspeakers at Sears. And trying to maintain friendships and other relationships during this incredibly busy time of year is just a losing battle.

It’s so easy to look at our lives and think that we’re missing something. The fact is: we’ve been missing something since the garden of Eden. Most of us are still waiting, hoping, wishing, dreaming, and praying, expecting that one of these days it will all get better. If you think about it, though, this is what Christmas is all about. Expectation. The hope of deliverance. A wish for something better. We hear it in wistful Christmas songs and hymns and advent prayers.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel.

This song has always been deeply meaningful for me during this time of year, because in the midst of our busyness and our troubles and our doubts, we are asking God to come and be with us. We are asking him to come and dwell with us, no longer in human form, but as a spirit inside of us.

For most people, the joy of Christmas doesn’t come from living lives that resemble a made-for-TV Christmas movie. For me at least, the most meaningful part of Christmas is the expectation of advent. It’s the hope that someday God will heal us in a very tangible way. Someday we won’t have to work so hard every day trying to change the world on our own. Someday our hearts will be made whole. Someday we will no longer mourn. Someday everything will be made right.

Until that day, I hope that I never lose the joy of expectation every day. I hope I never lose the wonder of every blessing I receive. Though I will probably listen to many more melancholy Christmas songs this year, I hope that I will never despair. Along with the rest of the world, I will be hoping for everything to be made right.

If you haven’t done this yet, I would recommend downloading Sleeping at Last’s 2014 Christmas Collection from Noisetrade!

Finding Joy in Right Now

My senior year of high school, I started a countdown on my wall. I tired of high school—tired of my friends, tired of my mediocre public school, tired of my $6/hour job scooping ice cream, tired of my life in the town where I had lived for the past seventeen and a half years. I dreamed about what kind of person I would be in college and somehow imagined myself being better looking, having a magnetic personality, dating attractive college guys, and going on lots of exciting adventures.

continue reading at single roots

The Great Experiment: Post for The Rising

A couple months ago, I watched a documentary about the Tiny House movement.

It featured several people who are simplifying their lives by building tiny houses.  In addition the many advantages of living in a tiny house, such as designing your own space and avoiding a costly mortgage, one tiny house owner talks about “treating life as an experiment, rather than a series of dead-end decisions.”  When I heard that, something clicked for me.

Over the past few years, I have run into plenty of dead-ends.  Dead-end jobs, dead-end ambitions, dead-end relationships.  As hard as I’ve tried to make wise decisions, I keep coming back to “What did I do wrong?”  I assumed if I was really following “God’s will for my life”, it would be working out better.

But what if I wasn’t wrong?  What if I was supposed to try and fail?  Continue Reading

To be Heard

This week, I am participating in the #Fireworkpeople blog tour.

We all want to have a voice. We want people to listen to what we have to say and tell us our words are important.  As a result, we have a celebrity-obsessed culture that judges your value based on how many people listen.  No matter what you are actually saying, if you have millions of twitter followers, you must be important.  [Read more…]

This week sounds like… the walls that divide

This week, I’m thinking of the walls that divide and the great distances that separate one person from another.  I’m thinking of the neighborhood lines in Chicago that cleanly divide one race from another.  I’m thinking of the disagreements between the Maasai and the Kikuyu tribe in Kenya.  I’m thinking about the cultural differences that separate the indigenous Mayans and Mestizos here in Guatemala.  I’m thinking about the ever-growing divide between progressive and fundamentalist Christians.  I’m thinking about the nationalists and unionists in Northern Ireland, who literally separate themselves with a wall in Belfast. 

Belfast peace wall [Read more…]

This week sounds like… looking for grace.

What are you looking for?  I’ve been asking myself this question this week.

Because I think we’re all looking for something.

  • I’m looking for people who accept me the way I am.
  • I’m looking for reassurance that my imperfections are okay.
  • I’m looking for rest.
  • I’m looking for hope that loneliness doesn’t last forever.
  • I’m looking for grace.

[Read more…]