I am a parent, who like you has dreams that my child will find love and happiness in life. I may also be a parent like you whose child or grandchild is part of the LGBTQ community. My love for her and my joy for her hasn’t changed. I have taken this to the Lord for many days and nights and I am trusting that He is with her, as he has been all her life.
Have you ever had a vision and been overwhelmed by the thought of what it will take to reach your goal? This can happen when we aren’t sure how we will get from where we are to where we want to be. The gap may seem far too wide to overcome, especially if we focus too much on those final steps that will bring our dream to fruition. We may even feel as if we are sitting in the fog, full of ideas and yet uncertain how to implement a plan.
I am a planner. I like to lay out all the necessary steps I will execute to achieve my end-goal. This includes all the things I don’t know how to do or the things that are out of my control. If I look too far ahead I am likely to freeze in place because these things seem too insurmountable to me. For example, I am building a ministry for singles. I believe that God has given me a vision for this ministry; however, I have so many questions about the organizational structure, finances, and who will attend our gatherings that I find myself too overwhelmed to move ahead.
I am overwhelmed first by the vision and mission and secondly by the demands on me as the leader of something I have wanted to do for the last 30 years. Thankfully, I have wonderful spiritual advisors and partners who have counseled me to just start. I have stepped out in faith without worrying about what will happen on the journey and without answers to all of my questions. I am taking one step after another, prayerfully considering each step and in consultation with others who hold me accountable. We are getting closer to launching the ministry and with each day I am gaining more clarity about what to do next.
So what does this mean for you? If the answer to my first question is, “yes, I’m overwhelmed and I don’t know what to do,” I would suggest you write your vision and mission statement. Then consider where you are and where you want to be and write down some of the major milestones you need to accomplish to close the gap. Once you lay out your milestones, start at the first milestone and list the most important things you need to accomplish to reach that milestone. If you are able, go to the next milestone and describe the actions you need to complete for each subsequent milestone. Write them down even if you have no idea how you will complete them. By the time you have written down the milestones you need to achieve you will see that it is much easier to bridge the gap from here to there. Post your plan somewhere as a visual reminder of your first objective and to all that you have accomplished as you move closer and closer to the final result.
Take the first step now. Pray about the others. Trust that God will guide you and as you experience success in those first steps, build confidence that God will get you through the rest.
Be bold. Be fearless. Step forward!
These past few months I have been working to launch a new single’s ministry in our area. I have been writing about the challenges and the gift of singleness while preparing for a discernment meeting. In the midst of my planning another interest of mine sprung up and I have found myself pulled in two directions—doing what God is calling me to do and doing something I love to do. It is a rewarding and troubling place to walk, this enjoying all the things I have a passion to do.
My question though is: am I blessed with two things that are keeping me very busy or am I letting myself be distracted from my real mission and ministry? Am I hiding my insecurities about my ability to lead this new ministry by taking on something that is draining my time? Energy drainers are those things that we allow to interrupt our progress forward and I fear that this other adventure is indeed doing that.
I have interrupted my writing on this blog to write for another blog. I have spent time studying this other topic rather than the scriptures that will shore up this new ministry. I have found it easy to spend hours doing something that actually has little benefit to God or to my life, while putting his work on pause. As a result I feel an unease in my spirit because I have been disconnected from the spirt that guides me. I flit in-and-out of ministry and then wonder why I am nervous about our launch.
So today I shift the gears back. It is never too late to get back on the road forward. I will continue my other writing, but as a secondary interest to that which God asks of me. I have discovered during the time of diversion that there is a process I need to put in place for my writing—so all is not lost. God always makes something positive out of our journey, if we are willing to ask him to reveal the changes we need to make. So let the change begin!!
We’ve all been there. Friends ask us to join them for dinner along with another couple and there is that awkward moment when you both realize something is just off. Maybe you all walk into a restaurant and low and behold, most of the tables easily sit four but with five, well now we have to wait. Or we are invited to come over for a game night and there are only couples and you wonder how you will even out the sides since you are the extra person. Let’s face it, society, including our churches, is couples-focused and some days we feel as if we don’t have a place at the table.
I have lived through all the experiences above. I been around the edges when my friends are planning a weekend at the beach and they are hoping that I won’t overhear because they are only going with other couples. I know what it is like to walk into a gathering at church and look around for a seat only to see that there are two seats and someone is holding them for another couple. I try to search out another single or someone who came without their spouse so I can partner up and at least give the appearance that I didn’t come alone.
This yearning to belong and getting out there to become a part of a community can be difficult waters to wade into if we hold onto the thought that we don’t belong or fit in. You do. If God is nudging you into an area, go there. Trust that he will smooth the waters and that you will find your place. We can easily be our own worst enemy if we wait to fit into the couples’ world, because for the most part, we don’t. That isn’t a bad thing; it is a different thing.
Seek out other singles or individuals whose spouses may not be fully engaged in their lives and activities. Call the person who just lost a spouse and invite them to go with you. Ask the person whose partner is hospitalized or in nursing care to be your partner in an adventure. We singles are a strong community if we are willing to bond together and strengthen each other. So the next time you are going to an event, invite someone, even if you have to pay for them to go. Together you can walk into the room and take those last two seats. Together you can find the person standing alone and invite them to be your third person.
And, if you are going as the third wheel, be a tricycle that you propel forward! You are getting out there and doing what God is asking you to do. Be the strong thread in that threesome and bring the best you out for the occasion. Live and laugh and love every moment of being the single one because for this part of the journey, it is how God is shaping your life. Roll on into your purpose friends.
“If a man prevails against one who is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 World English Bible
So we are at the beginning of another week of school and we moms have begun to beat ourselves up for all we did and didn’t do or feel these past few days. Mom Guilt has raised its ugly head and we are claiming it ours!! Maybe you cried when the bus came or when you dropped off your child to their first day of pre-school or kindergarten. Maybe you sat in your car and wiped the tears as you dropped your child off to high school. Or even better, your child has gone off to college and you cried all the way home.
Mom Guilt. Who invented all this guilt anyway??
As I lay out my plans, I have found it helpful to have someone who will ask me the questions I don’t want anyone to ask me. I have a coach and a spiritual director who does a great job of seeing into my carefully concocted plan and finding the areas that I am avoiding because it might cause me to regroup and take new action. As much as I dread these questions, they get at the meat of what God intends for my plans and away from how I envision things. Some may call this an accountability partner, other wise counsel, or maybe just a concerned friend. Whatever title you give this person, make sure you have someone who will tell you what you don’t’ want to hear—and this applies especially to relationship building!
Jealousy, fear, and self-interest can get in the way of our celebrating the good fortune of someone close to us. Jealousy comes from the fear of losing something—someone is moving on without us or doesn’t care about us. Fear arrives with the unknown—what is going to happen once the person close to us moves up the ladder or marries or moves away. Often it is our own self-interest that we turn to when we hear news about change—what does this mean for me? However, if we truly love and care for one another the first response should be that of joy and celebration.
Singleness can be defined as simply “living without a spouse.” We are single for many different reason—some by choice and some through circumstances. One thing I have found to be true with many of the singles I have spoken with, is that single does not have to mean lonely or that we are living without purpose. Just because we do not have a spouse or partner does not mean that we have to be trolling the bars looking for love or sitting home alone with nothing to do.
We come to our singleness from many pathways. We are the young who have yet to meet that first true lasting love of our life. We are the never-marrieds who are desperately hoping that God will provide a mate for us. We are the divorced, weather by our choice or by someone else’s actions. We are the widowed who love our spouses and are content that we had that “one great love.” And some of us are single by choice—the ones who have dedicated their lives in service to others with no strings attached.
We live in a society that focuses on having the next best gadget, the newest car, the designer outfit, and all that the ‘rich and famous’ have in their lives. We go into debt to prove that we have successfully attained a certain life-style. Our hearts sink a little when a new cell phone comes out and it isn’t time to upgrade our plan yet. We enter beautiful homes and begin plotting how we can model our house after their home. Or, we look at others and think, “I don’t know why she wears that same outfit day in and day out. What a mess!” We have become the people of envy, greed, judgement, and hollow existence.
We have forgotten that it is living a life of giving and caring that matters far more than a life full of things that may disappear in an instance.
It can be hard to keep the faith and journey forward when life throws you a curve ball. I learned that I will soon be out of a job and am struggling to see God’s hand here. I know it is there, but when the sting is fresh, it is hard to believe life’s upsets are part of his plan. “Remain steadfast,” I tell myself when everything seems be unraveling before my eyes. “Persevere,” I see in my own writings. But: “how?” and “why?” and “what now?” cloud my thinking right now.
There is a verse in Proverbs 16:9 that says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” This goes with the old Yiddish saying: “Man plans and God laughs.” I was reminded by someone that God saw this coming even though I did not. It would be easy for me to become frantic about my finances and my grandiose plans for the coming months, but the truth is—those were my plans. There was a part of me that realized that I was riding on the edge again with some grand schemes I thought I could circumvent the process just a little to get what I want.
You see, this is what happens when you step on the God road forward. The road may have bumps in it. You may steer clear to avoid them only to land in the ditch. Once back on the path, the road may smooth out for a while, until the next pothole throws you out of alignment. Correction follows correction. Gripping hard to the steering wheel of self will is only likely to send you flying in the wrong direction. Loosening the grip and gradually steering down the road of change is more likely to get you where you need to be. Hold firm instead to God’s promises and live to see the solutions unfold.
“We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” Proverbs 16:33
These bumps today lead me back to where I can trust that God will provide for all my needs. Jesus tells us not to “worry about everyday life” and to be content that we have enough to cover our basic needs. There is nothing to be gained from worrying about tomorrow. If I allow those thoughts to dominate my thinking, I will most likely derail my progress by thinking that all has been lost. I would much rather stay hopeful and believe that all these pieces fit together for my good, as he would have it.
I am learning that I have to adjust my plans to better align with God’s plans. I have learned not to doubt that there is purpose in these bumps. If I can remain steadfast, I can also get through to the other side of pain and discomfort much faster. God has hit me with the two-by-four again and has closed the door. I prayed and he answered. I dug my heels in when he said: “go” and now I am gone! It will all be good. I will grow. I will be stronger. And I will be right where God wants me to be. Where I have needed to be all along.
How do you deal with life’s curve balls? How do you keep moving forward when your plans have been upset? I would love you hear what scriptures help you keep on the path when life knocked you off.