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.
Living with purpose isn’t about how much we do. It is NOT about making ourselves feel better or relevant. Living with purpose is about having a heart for others that compels us to serve our brothers and sisters. Purpose is the result of a changed heart that propels us into action, with little thought about what we get out of it. It is a heart that overflows with excitement to be there for another human—to share our love and our gifts that someone’s life too may be changed.
Jesus is the best example I know of someone who cared for the people around him with no concern for himself or how it might look to others. He didn’t wat until it was convenient to help someone, in many cases he actually went out of his way to talk to someone or to help them. He broke protocols to care for people on days when it was illegal. When his disciples said “it is too much,” he said: “come.” Jesus never brought shame on a person for their circumstances—he asked questions and spent time listening to them. He walked with them and told them it would be better with him. He willingly came to the mentally ill (demon possessed), the untouchables (the hemorrhaging woman and lepers), and the ones living in sin (the woman at the well, the tax collector).
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.
Have we missed the splendor of God’s earth?
Sunrise gongs the rush to work,
Wind in our hair; combs set to repair.
Rivers running to the sea: only bridges to destinations.
Pleasure distorted in success.
Day in; day out
Sunrise to sunset.
Patterns lived without living.
Missed delight for opportunity.
Forced annual enjoyment;
With minds distracted.
Beauty taken for granted.
Missed joy in being.
New this; new that
Propel us forward
The things we hold
While peace slips away.
Revolution of our days,
Turning over again and again.
Harbored misery and discontent
While calm eludes us.
Imagined peace realized.
Newfound reason for the day.
Old things pass away.
New growth made fresh.
New reason for being.
Found in God’s splendor this day.
(Inspired by Ecclesiastes Chapter One
Every now and then on our journey forward, we need to set the pause button and evaluate where we are going and what we have accomplished. I found myself in that position recently and decided I needed some time to look back at what I have been doing the past six months and how the process aligns with my long-term goals. What I found is a gap between where I am and where I want to be with no real roadmap to get across the bridge. So I set the pause button and began to look at my vision, my mission, and my plan.
Taking time to evaluate your strategy is a good thing; as long as you don’t totally derail the process. I came close to that. I haven’t written in ages. I still seem to wake up every day with a new title for an article or I am inspired with topics from my morning reading and meditation. I simply didn’t do anything with what I believe God was whispering in my ear. Talking with my spiritual director and coach I was reminded that by not writing I am not doing what God has called me to do—I am being disobedient and willful. And I know where that gets me in the end.
Life may also throw us curve balls as we build our bridge toward our goal. It is natural. Life doesn’t just travel on a smooth road. We have bumps and derailments along the way. And these bumps may cause us to question if we have what it takes or if we are doing the right thing. Rather than stop, I would prefer to think that I can learn from those experiences and use them to strengthen my determination. If every bump causes us to stop what we are doing, we will never lay all the planks to traverse the bridge to accomplishment.
So here I am today. Fingers to the keyboard and recommitted to daily writing, on the blog and on my book. I am still working to fine-tune my process; however, I am going to keep moving forward at the same time. To completely stop looks like a lot like quitting. I would rather implement a course correction while moving forward or at least remaining committed to the process. I am learning—about writing and about myself. These are good things. They indicate progress and I’m all for progress!!
I am standing at the corner of the street.
There is a path ahead which I know I am to travel.
There are benches where I sit and wait.
I see the arrows pointing forward, yet,
I stand at the corner, afraid to move.
I watch as others move down the pathway;
Their steps moving them forward–closer.
They advance, step by step, as I watch in envy.
Confidently they pursue their dream.
Yet I watch and wonder if ever I will move.
I look at the branches off this path;
Diversions from the journey.
The excuses that keep me from moving.
The fear of failure and criticism.
Frozen, I wait for divine assurance.
Like a drifting boat, rudderless on the path;
I reach for the horizon ahead.
I pray, I calculate, I question.
I must move; I must heed the call.
He is waiting…HE is waiting.
One small step on the path is all I need
One move from here.
Then another, and another to there.
Trust, belief, faith.
We can do this. HE and I.
Every year I get hooked on Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. I love the ones where the Christmas spirit changes a person’s heart and everyone lives happily ever after. Ok, I admit, I especially love the movies where the star says they will never love again because somewhere along the way their heart was broken. And yet, in a few brief days (TV hours) they meet the perfect person and find love again—and live happily ever after. Healing and moving forward happens quickly in these movies. Lives are fixed and tied up in a neat bow in record time.
Unfortunately, life isn’t a Hallmark movie. Healing our wounded hearts and souls usually requires more than a few nicely placed words of encouragement. For some of us, healing may take years of counseling and support from family and friends before we see a breakthrough. For others, full healing never really comes. For some of us it may be years after we were hurt that we are even willing to acknowledge our hurt. We hang on for dear life, put on a Sunday smile, and make believe that all is well. Before we can have a healthy relationship, we need to be healthy ourselves through that process we will better understand what we are looking for in a life-long relationship with another.
I think that we are all seeking purpose in our lives and most of us are hoping to share that purposeful life with another person. It doesn’t matter if we are young and seeking our first romance or trying to get over our first love. It doesn’t matter if we have lived long and divorced or lost a spouse to illness or an accident. It doesn’t matter if we have never had a true loving relationship and don’t know what that looks like. We as humans seek relationship with others and most of us are looking for that person who shares our passions and will support us in fulfilling our dreams.
So how do you have your Hallmark moment? I suggest you start by praying about what God wants for you today and in the future. Seek out a counselor, spiritual director, or life coach who can help you discern what that is for you. If there are hurts that need healing—seek healing first. Then build your life around your purpose. Be where like-minded people are likely to be. Volunteer where your gifts can be used and meet other people who are using their gifts in a similar way. Turn off the movie, get off the couch, and head out the door.
Will you find your life partner there? I don’t know. I can tell you that if you truly seek God’s call on your life and you put your energy into areas that support your life mission; you will find people with whom you can share your life. You see, it may not be about finding the perfect partner but about finding the best way to live your life and finding people who support you on that journey. And maybe, just maybe, you will cross paths with the person of your dreams and maybe, given time, you will find your Hallmark ending.
“Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live in the land and enjoy its food. Find your delight in the Lord. Then he will give you everything your heart really wants. Psalm 37:3-4
It isn’t easy to face the truth about ourselves and our behavior, yet failing to do so can cause our situation to grow from bad to worse. David, in Psalm 25, found that the more he resisted change the more his problems multiplied. He had to face the truth about his actions and behavior and be willing to seek God’s forgiveness if ever he were to move forward to live a life of purpose.
The more we sit with whatever negative behavior or thoughts we have; the more likely we are to continue to repeat our negative behavior. The more we stay where we are and refuse to “face the music” for our action, the more likely we are to add on in an attempt to cover up or to justify our conduct. Sooner or later these things will become unbearable. God will let us sit in our mess until we are ready to acknowledge our actions and the pain leads us to seek forgiveness and transformation. Forgiveness, however, is not enough unless we also commit to changing our lives.
I know on my journey out of the darkness it took reminders from people close to me that what I was doing was self-destructive. I needed friends to speak the truth into the situation, even when I did not want to hear what they had to say. Several bouts of broken hearts and depression finally led me to hear what they were saying and to seek professional help. As part of that professional help I found that God was walking with me and standing with open arms to accept me, to forgive me, and to transform my life. It took many years and much anguish, but today I can say that God has released the bonds that trapped me and I have been rescued from a devastating life style.
Have you found yourself stuck in a behavior or activity that is causing you anguish and keeping you from the things you should be doing with your life? It could be something as simple as using your credit cards to pay for things you want rather than paying off your bills and finding financial freedom. Maybe you are holding a grudge against someone and it colors not only your reaction to the person you think slighted you, but it also colors how you interact with other people. You may build walls to protect yourself and you may be missing a greater blessing. It could be as serious as needing to seek professional help with an addictive behavior—be it drugs, alcohol, food, or sex. Maybe you did something that was unethical and haven’t owned up to it yet, so you live in fear of being found out. Freedom comes with speaking truth and sharing.
Whatever is keeping you on the darker path, remember that God will not abandon us. He may let us suffer in our mess longer than we like, but when we reach out, he will be there. I learned for myself that the longer I stayed in destructive relationships, the sadder I became and the more I removed myself from relationships with my friends. Today I am humbled and blessed to be able to share with others just how God inspired me to change by letting me hurt so that I would ask for help. I hope today you will be motivated to seek help to change your life too.
“My problems go from bad to worse. Oh save me from them all! Feel my pain and see my trouble. Forgive all my sins.” Psalm 25: 17-18 New Living Translation
At church we have been talking a lot about sharing our faith and how best to do that. The thought of talking to someone we don’t know about Jesus can be pretty intimidating. This morning as I was reading my devotionals I remembered just how grateful I am for all the changes in my life that are the result of my faith in a power greater than myself. That is what inspires me to share so that others will know they too can have a different life, one that has new freedom and purpose.
I was, and still am, a slow learner. I can also be strong willed and self righteous about the way I live. Thankfully God is patient with me. For years he put me in the right place to hear what I needed to hear. He sent messengers and messages over and over, and waited and waited for me to take the wax out of my ears and respond. Little by little he took my “poor little me” attitude and changed it to an optimist who couldn’t believe the doors that opened for her. Ever so slowly he prepared me to let go of negative behaviors and to accept a better more peaceful life.
Be inspired today by the world and people around you. Watch to see where God is speaking to you; where he is showing you the possibilities for your life. Watch the person who is content and happy in their lives and ask them what inspires them. Take a minute to pick out an app with a devotional and let the words you read inspire you to transform your life. Do it today, don’t wait any longer.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling about me everywhere… Acts 1:8