A Different Kind of Infertility

IMG_4411Blame it on the year that will make me turn 30. Blame it on the wave of adorable tiny humans clogging my social media feed. Or maybe it has something to do with the dream I had the other night about carrying my baby girl around and snuggling her sweetness. It was a surreal experience to wake up and actually feel the loss of something that wasn’t real. My seasons of struggle with singleness have so far been linked to a desire for companionship, but this new phase has taken an unexpected twist. In this novel chapter, I find my heart longing for motherhood.

I don’t think I’m alone. We tend to associate the pangs of unfulfilled desires for parenthood to childless couples, but singleness can offer its own version of infertility. For those of us with convictions about waiting for the ideal situation of child-rearing in the context of a marriage, the options of passing on our noses or tempers on to the next generation or participating in the beauty of adoption are at least for now, off the table. And lately, I’ve had several conversations with 20 somethings of both genders who have a longing to be parents, sometimes more unrelenting than their desires for marriage.

In our millennial age of authenticity, we hear more and more stories about couples who find themselves in the midst of figuring out how to become parents when the natural methods fail.   Go Fund Me pages request funds for adoption, surrogacy themes make for moving narratives, and articles debate the ethics of in-vitro fertilization. This variety of trial is starting to get much-needed attention due to people willing to be vulnerable about their stories, but what about those of us who feel option-less? As with all yet-unfulfilled desires, we get an opportunity to lean on Jesus through the ache. Time with Him is NEVER wasted. But are there other ways to at least temporarily calm our instinctive needs to parent?  I offer a list of 4 suggestions and mindsets that I have found extremely helpful for my own soul on this road of living, for the time being, childless.

#1 Hold all the babies

I realize this is a temporary fix, but I’ve found it to be incredibly therapeutic. About a year ago, I became a bit burnt out on ministry commitments. When I spoke with my church’s leaders about pulling back to serve in different ways, I requested to just hold babies on Sundays for a while. Not only did it offer a way to serve parents who need that break to focus on the sermon, but baby therapy is real. Want to at least temporarily soothe your need to hear contagious laughter of littles? Volunteer in your church’s nursery or babysit for a couple struggling to fit in a date night. The best part? After you are done snuggling roly-poly sweetness or improv-ing crazy bedtime stories, you get to give them back and enjoy the liberty of singleness a little longer.

#2 Sponser a child

Think it’s hard for us single millennials to pay the bills sometimes? Well, keeping littles happy, healthy, and educated is no financial walk in the park either. What if we gave up a few macchiatos and In-N-Out runs each month to practice the fiscal aspect of parenting? See if there are any needs in your local community. Save up and fund Christmas for a needy family in your area. See what kinds of financial needs there are for children in the foster care system.  Contact title 1 schools in your area to see how you can support before or after school programs. Additionally, you could consider different ways to support children overseas. Programs like Compassion International allow children around the globe to be nourished, pursue an education, and know God’s love.

#3 Read parenting books

On the topic of marriage, singles are advised to start preparing for marriage long before vows are exchanged. We are told to “attend marriage conferences, hang out with married couples who seem to have ‘till death do us part’ figured out, and read Biblically-sound books about Solomon’s blush-inducing song!” In the same way, parenting should be trained for long before the sleepless nights of newborn cries or the upgrade to a tricked-out minivan. I’m a firm believer that singleness is a crucial training ground for whatever future seasons hold. You want to be good at parenting one day? Gold medal parenting won’t happen overnight. Pick up a book on childrearing.  Ask parents at all stages what advice they would give to potential moms and dads. Whether you are blessed with biological or spiritual children one day, your quest for knowledge won’t be wasted…which brings me to point 4.

#4 Be a spiritual parent.

In the same way that marriage points to the greater reality of the Gospel, earthly parenthood points to the more permanent ties that we have as part of God’s family. In the New Covenant, we are not guaranteed that our biological kids will follow Christ. Since regeneration through faith is the new mode of kingdom-growing, let’s be disciple-makers! Let’s pour into the younger generation while our time isn’t allocated to a spouse and kids. In the grand scheme of things, we could end up with more spiritual kids than any of our married friends with a full quiver. If you dream even bigger, you could be a grandparent by the time you’re 30!

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Do you feel like you were meant to be a mom or a dad? It’s quite possible that parenthood will be in your future. But how should we frame our thoughts and actions around our waiting? A close friend of mine and her husband battled through a 10 year journey of infertility and their story relays an abundance of literal pain and heartache. But they see now how God’s timing and pruning served His purposes to bring about a closer walk with Jesus and each other plus a plethora of other seen and yet unseen fruit from that dark time. If you are a child of God, each kind of waiting will serve its purpose. And until we see God’s plan unfold, let’s redeem the time by holding some babies, financially supporting little image-bearers, wising up in the ways of child-rearing, and seeking to live out the way parenthood fits into God’s bigger plan!

Love,

Rachelle

The Point in Disappointment

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“Hope deferred makes the heart sick” ~Proverbs 13:12a

            It sure does, doesn’t it? Proverbs speak to the human condition, and this one is no exception. We’re all familiar with disappointment. You don’t get invited, you don’t get the promotion, or the heartbreak of a break-up is hard to shake. Can I be real with you? Lately, it’s been tempting to view singleness itself as one long string of disappointments. In my 20’s, the single life has been an overall positive experience. The Lord has used my status in greater ways than I could imagine. Yet every once in a while, an event will unearth emotions that force me to put into practice everything I write about. Do I really believe that God is good? Does He truly have my best in mind?  Unreturned interest [again], loneliness when life is tough and I honestly just want to be held, and heart-shaped candy overrunning the grocery store can all serve as triggers for a sick heart.  So what will it look like to climb out of this rut? I believe the answer is found in the second part of the verse.

Part B of the proverb says that “a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” At first glance, this line doesn’t seem like it could be a comfort to those of us with sick hearts. We understand that our fulfilled desire would be awesome. That’s what makes deferment so tough! But I find it interesting how the picture chosen is a “tree of life.” That same symbol is used in the Garden of Eden as the promise of provision, in Jeremiah 17 to illustrate a man whose trust is in the Lord, and in Revelation 22, which describes another tree of life that bears fruit in the New Earth.  Yes, getting the good things we want this side of heaven would be great, but even those things can’t truly fulfill us.  The shrubs that sprout with a new relationship or a new job can indeed bring temporary satisfaction, but they pale in comparison to the ultimate gifts that the Sower has in store.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God has written eternity on our hearts. So what does disappointment point to? God fashioned us with a mechanism for hope. The temporary gifts He graciously gives us may use this design plan from time to time, but when it fails us in the short run, we need to understand that it won’t in the long run. Our hopes will ultimately find their restful bliss in Christ and His redemptive plan. He alone has the power to forever wipe away tears. He alone has the ability to satisfy the deepest longings of our souls. Only Jesus can heal our sick hearts. The beautiful part is that the deferment only adds to the bliss of fulfillment. It’s worth the wait.

So what do we do in the meantime? Should we hope for earthly things at all, or should we just build walls around our hearts and hope that Jesus returns soon? I see the temptation to start putting some bricks together. Even though I have this desire for marriage, the fear of rejection sometimes prevents me from putting myself out there. Nevertheless, I think God has more in store for our hurts and hopes than eventual eternity.

A symbol that comes to mind when I think of unfulfilled hopes is a wishing well. But, if you really think about it, the picture it paints isn’t all that hopeful. Just throw in your spare change and watch it fall to the bottom. It will join other dreams in a watery grave. No redemptive value or investment, just algae-collecting. Then, you go on with your life, longing for something that may or may not happen.

God’s kingdom operates very differently than a wishing well. In His detailed plan, deferred hopes do so much more than collect pond scum. Each rejection, every heartache, all the missed opportunities are invested. They are sown like seeds that will have their time to bring forth fruit. The fruit may be as simple as time spent with Jesus while you walked through a healing process. Perhaps it will look like a tender heart that is a comfort to others, having experienced loss. Or maybe it will be a thicker skin that’s ready to take on what life has in store. No ache will be wasted. It all has a purpose. If you feel like you’ve been hit with one disappointment after another, know this: God is going to cash all that in one day.

That being said, do we continue to hope for earthly events to take place? With some hesitation, my answer is yes. I hesitate because I know it will mean more heartache for a lot of us. I hesitate because I realize the struggle of finding ultimate hope in Jesus with other competing hopes in our hearts. But is heartache really the end of the world? Ache means growth if you are following Christ. Longing reminds Believers that ultimate satisfaction is waiting in what’s to come. So maybe we should continue to prayerfully, yet prudently hope for good desires, offering it up to God and trusting that He has a purpose for it, either in heartache or fulfillment.

 

Love,

Rachelle

Why Dating an Unbeliever is Bad for Them

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It’s the familiar “I met someone” starry-eyed glow. “He’s so good to me. He gets along so well with my family, and he respects me. I’m really happy, and it’s getting pretty serious.” It’s a conversation I’ve had a few times.  Different young women, same scenario. Being the listener and question-asker that I am, my probing eventually lands on the catch: “He’s not a Believer but…”    There’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there? He said he’ll go to church with me, he was burned by a church once, or he’s really open to spiritual things, so it’s only a matter of time, right? Our hearts so long for connection and intimacy with others that justification has to be employed at the expense of our better judgement.

I’m not here to dive into the meaning of “unequally yoked” or the greater risk of future heathen children. Us millennials like to roll our eyes at familiar speeches, anyways. I want to approach this topic from a different angle- one that I believe to be equally as Biblical. You see, these kinds of discussions can easily turn into an “us vs. them” refrain that neglects the spiritual well-being of everyone involved.  In other words, instead of painting the unbelieving partner as the evil scoffer that bids enlightened but weak spirits to sit and join in their wickedness, have we ever stopped to consider that they, like us, are souls in need of God’s grace? Is it likely that an unbelieving boyfriend or girlfriend will spiritually benefit from an unequally yoked relationship? I don’t think so, and here are three reasons why.

You can’t offer the future they want

Someone who has been bought by the blood of Jesus should have different goals than someone who hasn’t. As believers, our lives should be marked by our ultimate purpose of building God’s kingdom. This affects the way we treat our finances, the way we pursue purity, and the way we spend our time. Unbelievers don’t have the same definitive objective, and so their choices are affected by their earth-bound ties. On this topic, the negative pull on the believing boyfriend or girlfriend down slippery slopes is typically what gets highlighted in the argument against dating outside the faith. But have you ever thought about the unfairness of shackling an unbeliever to heavenly goals, when they may not be able to one day reap the heavenly rewards? In other words, if you are holding steadfast to boundaries that protect your purity and pastimes that honor the Lord, the unbeliever is being forced under the law when grace to follow God has not yet been granted to them. We have accepted God’s free gifts of love and mercy to end that kind of slavery, so why would we wish that kind of life on someone we care for? Simply put, it is unkind, and realistically, it will create hurtful tension.

They see the compromise

This next one might hurt a bit, but please, oh please, take it with a heaping spoonful of sisterly love. If your ultimate goal is to win your sweetheart over while dating them, you are unintentionally sending a subtle message. This memo communicates that you aren’t very serious about your relationship with God, at least not when it comes to relationships, because you are compromising on His will for you. And if your commitment to Jesus is lacking, you don’t give much incentive for anyone close to you to follow Him, too. At best, you set an example of Christianity that picks and chooses from godly prescriptions. We want the people we care about to find in us a model of godly courage that leads them to the same kind of zeal for living that Jesus has.  Sometimes that means skipping out on momentary happiness and potentially hurting feelings, understanding that God’s recommendations do not lead to disaster in the long run.

They need Jesus

Relationships tend to throw a smoky rave in your frontal cortex in a manner that clouds better judgment. Additionally, spiritual warfare is real, and if someone is truly a spiritual-seeker, a new relationship could be just the thing that the enemy uses to preoccupy their spirit. In C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, an elder demon makes the following statement in coaching a newbie.

“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”

Although it is a fictional story, Lewis provides insight into the spiritual realm. The movement of a human soul towards the eternal freedom found in Christ is a fragile process. It is difficult enough for Believers to keep their commitment to Christ central in a dating relationship, so imagine how much more arduous it can become for an unbeliever to prioritize spiritual progress in the same circumstances. If you truly hope for someone’s journey with Jesus to begin, the most loving thing you can do is allow and pray for them to have space to encounter God, free from the distraction of a dating relationship.

True Love       

Perhaps in reading this, you find yourself lost in the exceptions. It’s nice to talk about better/best scenarios in theory, but what about the real-life dating relationships that do result in the unbeliever giving their life to Christ? To that I would say: give credit where credit is due. We serve a gracious and powerful God who is all about redeeming our mistakes for His glory. The genuine conversion that occurs in “missionary dating” is more likely in spite of the relationship, not because of it. Truly loving someone means caring about their soul more than anything else. Jesus didn’t promise us an easy life. But His yoke becomes easy and His burden becomes light when we look to Him for wisdom and guidance, when we lean on Him for strength to sort through the difficult choices in life, and when we see people how He sees them- with loving, eternal lenses.

So how should we tread the waters that lead us through the tension of having romantic feelings for someone who isn’t committed to Christ? Show them the right kind of compassion. Introduce them to your community. Intentionally seek out people who are more fitted to pour into them without the risk of an emotional attachment. And absolutely pray. When we align ourselves to God in prayer, our desires can begin match His. We will start to recognize our inability to support the future unbelievers want, our need to provide a courageous example of faith, and our commitment to see others first and foremost as souls in need of a Savior.

The Litmus Test of a Healthy Relationship

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My doors were opened, and dinner was paid for. Anecdote-prompted laughter, a dive into the Colorado River, and an accepted challenge to run the last bit of a hike back to the car are the other details that stand out. That night, I walked through my door on cloud nine, grateful for the full day and God’s gifts. The funny part is, it really sounds like I’m describing a date. Not exactly. The door-opener happens to be my best friend’s boyfriend, and before you think I’m a horrible person, I need to mention that she was there as well.

Me and my bestie have always wondered what it would look like for one of us to start dating someone. In a long season of singleness and God’s gentle and loving “No’s” for a status change, our friendship has been the one area of our lives where God hasn’t withheld ANYTHING. If I had the time, I could tell you about countless adventures where God clearly showed up, just showering us with good gifts. It’s this beautiful mixture of deep, Jesus-loving conversations as we sit on kitchen counters and spontaneous bouts of silliness that leave us with stomach aches from laughing so hard and people around us wondering if any illegal substances are involved. Nope, all natural. My parents adopted her into our family as their third daughter, and we get to work and live together. Free time, adventure, weekends, and humorous meme texts have been spent on each other for almost a decade, and so it seemed like a step towards marriage for either one of us might throw off the sisterhood we’ve been blessed to build.

About 6 months ago, she met someone, and I find myself in the midst of figuring out what it looks like to share her. As it turns out, It’s not as difficult as I thought it would be.  They actually invite me to hang out with them on dates and she’s really gracious to check up on me every once in a while, to ask if anything about their interaction makes me uncomfortable. More than just surviving this new era, I find myself actually enjoying it.  And it’s got me asking a question: What is the difference between the friendships that disappear with a new relationship and those that are actually enhanced?

I think of a friend from college whose spouse was quick to give me the title of friend. Since I mattered to her, I was going to matter to him, too.  Alternatively, I think of other scenarios where hanging out with an old friend and their boyfriend or spouse was just plain uncomfortable.  I’m sure we can all think of a time when an excess of “coupling” left you looking for an exit or conversation suffered a slow death because the counterpart you don’t know as well wasn’t as keen on getting to know you. Or maybe after a new relationship, a friend decides that they don’t have much in common with you anymore, and it’s time for them to start hanging out with other couples at the expense of your friendship. Here’s my next question: As Believer’s, should we allow the natural drift that tends to happen when people pair off? My opinion is no, but since I’m biased, I will explain, in detail, why you should pay attention to the third wheels in your life.  I intend to convince you that they are one of the best indicators of a healthy relationship.

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1. Relationships should help you serve better together than apart

I’m sure we’ve all heard this sentiment, but as a single person, this truth is something that I’ve had to hang onto for dear life at times. If God’s goal in rescuing us into His family is to build His kingdom, then the reason for my season of singleness must be that He knows I can serve Him better this way. Should He choose to throw an eligible bachelor into the equation, it can only mean that our union enhances how we serve others, helping them know and love Jesus more. Alternatively, if a couple behaves in a way that cuts them off from some of the people in their lives, they are potentially less fruitful than when they were single. A Kingdom-call-answering relationship should enhance the gifts of those involved in a way that blesses those around them.

2. Diverse Community Reinforces a Relationship

We typically think about the necessity of community in a new relationship because of the pitfalls that dating life bring about. But every season of life offers its own challenges that require community, and not the kind of community that segregates the church into teens, singles, young marrieds, married with kids, etc. I love the passage in 1 Corinthians 12 that compares the church to a body. Verse 18 says that “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose.” Verse 21 goes on to say “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” The natural separation that happens sometimes between single and married people can often sound like that. But this passage flies in the face of what is natural. Verse 13 says that “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, Jews or Greeks, slaves or free.” We need each other. We have all been given unique gifts and insight due to our unique callings by the same Spirit, and much like a limb being cut off from blood-flow, when we cut ourselves off from each other, we miss out and fall asleep.

3. The Gospel needs to be on display.

From Ephesians 5 and elsewhere, we understand that the main purpose of marriage, as God designed from the beginning, is to put the Gospel on display. In this image, the husband loves sacrificially like Christ loves the church and the bride responds in respect and service. They prefer and serve each other in a beautiful dance that puts Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to shame. We are all given lights that serve as a testimony of God’s love and work in our lives, but the combining of two lights in marriage should provide a much brighter light to their spheres of influence. An isolated couple might as well cover the light they’ve been entrusted with because no one can see it anyways.  I’m reminded of a song from my childhood. “Hide it under a bushel, no! I’m gonna let it shine.” (And now it’s in your head, isn’t it?) If you are a Christian and you are in a relationship, you have been entrusted with beautiful truths that are meant to shine bright for ALL to see, not just those who have lots in common with you.

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            You may recall from high school chemistry that a litmus test is performed to tell you how acidic or basic a solution is. In a similar way, a couple’s interaction with the plus nones in their lives will indicate the health of their relationship. The kind of dating or marriage relationship that encourages the single people in its sphere speaks to an understanding of its purpose, God-given community, and gospel-reflecting interaction.

For married and dating couples reading this, let me ask one more question. Have you checked in on your single friends lately? They might have some valuable insight to share on how inclusive and caring your relationship is towards outsiders. Ask them if they can see the Gospel up-close in the image you reflect. Don’t have any single friends, anymore? Well maybe you have some work to do. Much like the pins and needles sensation of a limb regaining feeling, it might not be easy. But it will be worth it. I so treasure the friendships of couples who allow me to live life with them and treat me like family.

 

All my heart,

Rachelle

A Christmas Message for the Time in Between

 

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When only God was listening, what did you ask for for Christmas? Perhaps it’s something more recently added to your waiting on Jesus list or maybe it seems like it’s been gathering dust for a decade. The Christmas season has a way of creating spaces to slow down and contemplate. For some of us, these reflections can threaten to cast shadows over our Christmas cheer if we dwell too long on what we don’t have in our seemingly endless holding pattern. This is where I found myself a couple days ago, and as Providence would have it, my reading plan brought me to this spot in Scripture:

“Let these words sink into your ears: the Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.”

~Luke 9:44

The passage stood out because when Jesus says “Let these words sink into your thick skull”, I feel like what He’s about to say might be important. It’s a passage that finds Jesus’ followers in their own “time in between.” They are waiting for Jesus to make His move and rescue Israel from its oppressors. They have a plan and expectations, and so this statement leaves them scratching their heads. To provide some context, the passage before describes a time when Jesus casts out a demon from a young boy. The response from those gathered at the scene is found in verse 43: “And all were astonished at the majesty of God.” The scene that unfolds after Jesus’ plan-foiling pronouncement offers a glimpse of the disciples’ pride in fighting over which among themselves was the greatest.

The manner in which Jesus’ statement is sandwiched in between two seemingly unrelated episodes offers a very realistic scale of two extremes that we teeter in our own “time in between.” I often find myself in awe of the good things God has brought about in my life. Life experience is routinely more sweet than sour if we were to make an honest list of pros and cons. I woke up this morning, that sunset over the beach is incomparable, and my mom’s advice is seriously the best…all acknowledged as gifts from God’s creative hand. And yet, at the drop of a hat, I can become extremely disgruntled when I start to think about my wonderful plans for my life that God doesn’t seem to be on board with. Yes, God, all these gifts are great, but have you even been listening to my prayers? Singleness, health issues, broken relationships, [fill in the blank] has never been on my Christmas list. Want to know the root of that attitude? Probably not, but I’ll say it anyhow. Pride. Ugly, icky, I know better than the King of the Universe pride.

We aren’t so different from the disciples that traveled the dusty roads around the Middle Eastern countryside, following the unpredictable Messiah from town to town a couple millennia ago. And Jesus’ abrupt message is the same to us in our predicament, only (glory!) past tense: “Let these words sink into your ears: the Son of man was delivered into the hands of men”….then He died, taking on your sin and then conquered evil and death by rising 3 days later. He lived, He died at the hands of His creation, then He rose to live so that we can, too. No more simply being in awe- now we get to know Him in deep communion. And as for pride, we continually take it to the cross to remind ourselves of the beautiful work of humility that set us free. Our joy, especially at this time of year, rests on our fight to actively let these truths sink in, as our Blessed Redeemer commands.

Merry Christmas,

Rachelle

5 Reasons to Embrace Awkwardness

 

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I’m sure we can all think of cringe-worthy moments in our past that we would like to somehow forever forget or reach back in time to physically erase. Memories that don’t just relay the particulars of an event, but the kind that summon the flood of feelings you felt in a moment that revealed your lack of social skills. Perhaps it’s that time you had an uncomfortably-forced conversation with a crush to fill silence that resulted in you asking questions and then interrupting or making a mess of the English language with an onslaught of uncharacteristic grammar mistakes. Or maybe it was the time when you went to pray for an assigned prayer request in a large group and COMPLETELY forgot the name of the person you were supposed to be praying for- a woman who not only had a name very similar to yours, but one whom you had known for a couple years. Ugh…and now, just like that, all the feelings are flooding back. These memories feel “icky”, and so us millennials fear and avoid awkwardness like the plague. But have we ever stopped to consider the benefits of these less-than-ideal experiences? In this article, I will make a case for embracing that which is awkward.

  1. It makes for good stories

How often do we dislike something in the moment but grow to find the humor in it later on? Like that one time I volunteered at the Special Olympics and a young Olympian (probably around the age where puberty incapacitates better judgment) pulled up my shirt instead of going for my high-five. Extremely blush-worthy at the time, but it is now probably a top 3 funniest memory with my bestie, who witnessed the whole event. The wonderful medicine of laughter is often brought to us by awkward moments.

  1. It reminds us of our lack of control

It’s good to be reminded every once in a while that we don’t have it all together. When speech comes out in moron or a conversation dies with no hope of resurrection in the wake of awkward silence, the façade of autonomous control is shattered. It reminds us that we are so much more limited than we give ourselves credit for. In fact, I’m convinced that no one lets me down more than I do. And once we recognize our inability to truly control, we are primed to see God’s ultimate authority over the happenings in our daily lives.

  1. We become more approachable.

There’s a kind of camaraderie that is struck when we are vulnerable about our humanity. Perfectly confident people are intimidating. Us millennials value authenticity, and awkward moments have a way of forcing us to be truly authentic. When our actions admit our deficiencies, people tend to let their guard down because you’ve already broken the awkward ice, thus building community.

  1. Any kind of inner struggle offers a way to draw near to Christ.

In moments of anxiety over things we should or shouldn’t have said in an awkward moment, we have a couple of options. We could wallow and relive the uncomfortable seconds that sealed our social fate. Or we could give it to Jesus, several times if need be. And then we get to see the healer and redeemer that He truly is, even in the seemingly insignificant stuff that matters to us, working “all things” together for good. (Rom 8:28)

  1. It produces Humility

We all love to see the arrogant antagonist in a movie humbled by embarrassment. A chocolate shake spilled over their head, an embarrassing secret coming to light, or a climax where they don’t get the girl or the guy all make for entertaining, even satisfying endings to a film. But have you ever thought about how sometimes, maybe God allows awkward or embarrassing moments in our lives to point out our own pride? We don’t like to admit to admit arrogance, but sometimes falls are justified by our preceding pride. The difference, of course, is that God isn’t a laughing spectator, but is instead a loving Father who knows what we need to become who He has designed us to be. Sometimes, awkward moments are exactly what we need to refine our character.

So. The next time you start to kick yourself or dig an escape route, fight to see the bigger picture. Ask for Jesus’ help in the all-too familiar battle of truth over feelings, remembering that he lived our worst nightmare as a crowd mocked Him. All for love. All for redemption, so that all things could be redeemed. Yes, even our awkward moments.

Love,

Rachelle

p.s. Thanks for reading!

 

 

To the Man who Takes my Place

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I knew from the moment my question went unanswered. Up until that point, what I had to say always claimed her audience above anybody else (you know, besides Jesus).  For the past nine years, we’ve been inseparable.  Nothing earthly knows her better than I do, but I’m starting to realize that won’t always be the case. And so, my words hung in the air as she caught your gaze from across the room and everything, including myself, faded into the background. I won’t lie- it stung in the moment, but can I blame her? You’ve been the perfect combination of Cary Grant and Walt Disney. I mean, your chivalry will be the cause of her forgetting how to open a car door, and your creative date-planning skills would turn the heart of the worst man-hater to mush!

….Accepting Change….

When a best friend dates and begins to date seriously, it’s natural for things to shift. Change is part of life, and this particular change has been prayed for by her and myself for most of our friendship. Now that those prayers have been answered, my moment of possessiveness sounds ironic. For the time being, that emotion was fleeting. But in all honesty, it will likely return. You know what a catch she is, and can at least somewhat understand how difficult it might be to surrender some parts of our sisterhood to make room for an outsider.

Even though I can’t compete with hammocks under the Mt. Charleston stars and fancy dinner date nights, I think I’m still MVP, at least for now. It’s a role I don’t take lightly. It’s a role that you shouldn’t take lightly, either. Here’s why: we are sisters. If I saw any red flags, she would consider them. If I had any reservations, I would have her full attention. It’s only fair to mention that so far, no concerns have surfaced. In fact, I’m convinced that besides the work of Jesus in her heart, you might be the best thing to ever happen to her. You seem to have figured out her quirks and broken down walls in record timing. The giggles and laughter that ensue whenever you call echo through our apartment. Sometimes, after coming home from a great date the night before, she’ll actually wake up cheerful, and she’s by no means a morning person. There’s a new level of exuberance in her countenance, and I can’t help but notice that the transformation began right around the time that the two of you started talking. Most important among your merits however, is that you claim to know Jesus. And the fruit of that claim seems to be evident in how you love and serve others, even complete strangers. But a bestie needs more assurance than that. A bestie needs to know that her sister will be well-taken care of, should you one day ask a question that will dress her in white. I’ve narrowed it down to the three things that I want you to have in order before you get down on one knee.

….The Requirements….

First of all, I need you to be fearful of loving her too much. That sentiment might fly in the face of everything our culture tells us about love, but let me explain. She might make a great girlfriend. She is, without a doubt, wifey material. If God blesses her with children, she’ll be a fantastic mother. The one role she’d be terrible at is taking the place of God in your life. She’s a wonderful human being, but her flawed humanity is unable to carry the weight of your cosmic expectations. So don’t ask her to. Fight hard to love Jesus more, and tremble at the thought of anything less so that my dear friend can be appropriately treasured, not idolized.

Secondly, cultivate godly male friendships. Allow older men in the church to speak into your life. Trials will come. Temptation will knock. And if you don’t have flesh and blood safeguards who can offer counsel or a straight up kick in the shin when needed, you risk steering your family off the narrow path and my friend into heartache.

Last but certainly not least, you need to understand that one day, you will find yourself in a similar position to the one I’m in- you will find your role partially diminished and taken over by a more capable man. I don’t mean to be morbid, but should you change my friend’s last name, death will eventually do you part. On that day, you will cease to be her husband and she will cease to be your wife. She will take on a more permanent state along with the rest of us who are eventually called to our eternal home with Jesus. You need to realize this now because she is only ever on loan to any of us.  How will this point make a difference? This mindset will aid you in points one and two. If you understand that she isn’t your forever, Jesus will keep his rightful place in both of your lives. If you understand that you will be surrendering her fully to Christ one day, you’ll step up your game in caring for her spiritually while she is yours. You’ll include those safeguards to make sure you don’t fail your Savior.

….Passing the Baton….

I honestly couldn’t care less about how big a house she sleeps in or how financially stable your budget is. Life gets tough, marriage is no piece of cake, and there’s too much kingdom work to bother with building too many earthly accomplishments. So before you pledge your earthly life to serving my friend and take my place as her closest companion, I need to know that her beautiful soul will be well-cared for in the days to come. I will accept nothing less because I love her that much.

Sincerely,

MVP