Archive | March, 2012

Relationships and Airplanes

29 Mar

A few weeks ago my church family gathered on a Friday night for an evening of worship.  I arrived at the church to find the lights dimmed except for a few lights on the stage (guess the worship leaders need to see what they’re doing, huh?) and a few lit candles throughout the sanctuary.  There was a very clear message conveyed by such an atmosphere: this was NOT a rock concert or a social event; tonight was set aside as an evening to give Glory to our Maker and Savior.  This sanctuary was to be treated as a sacred place, not a coffee shop.

Unfortunately, there was also a secondary message being conveyed: “You’ll have to sit with new people, since it’s too dark to find your usual group of friends in here!!”  Oh…um…okay…

Now, I don’t want my church family to become one of those congregations where everyone sits with their “group” every week, like a middle school cafeteria.  On the other hand, I was NOT thrilled with the idea of sitting down in some dark spot and being surrounded by strangers, and then waiting awkwardly for the next 15 minutes until the worship team started. 

“This would be so much easier if I was married,” I thought to myself.  Sitting with people I didn’t know would be far less intimidating if I had a husband with me.  “I really, really hate being single right now,” I thought.

It was then (as I slipped into an empty row, and, thankfully, was joined by a few friendly peers a moment later) that a story I’d heard came back to me: A man was at the airport awaiting his connection, when he learned there had been problems and his flight would be delayed several hours.  Halfway through the long wait, he turned to another passanger and said, “I’d give anything just to get up in the air and be on my way right now!” 

“It sounds nice, doesn’t it?” replied the other passanger.  “But, I have to say, I’d rather be down here wishing I were up there, than up there wishing I were down here.” 

Well, I guess I need to be thankful- I’d rather be single and wishing I were married than married and wishing I were single!!

Why Do We Need to Guard Our Hearts?

27 Mar

As a teenager I heard all kinds of talks about saving ourselves for marriage, and I heard about all the devastating consequences that could come from going too far physically outside of marriage.  Sometimes, the speaker or author would say something about how we needed to “guard our hearts,” too, but I don’t think any of them ever explained what guarding our hearts looked like or why it was so important.  Unfortunately, by the time someone came along and explained it to me, it was too late for me- and experience is the most effective and most brutal of teachers.

I met Josh when I was a freshman in high school and he was a college student- our relationship was a semi-professional one where he was in a mentoring position over me.  The way he treated me was above and beyond his job description- he was unbelievably patient and encouraging, even in my clumsiest, most awkward moments.  Of course, he was also incredibly handsome and very intelligent- but, as a shy fourteen-year-old, I felt more overwhelmed in his presence than anything else.

When I was a senior (and Josh was in graduate school) he returned for a day to help out in his old position.  He immediately came over to me to ask if I was excited to be a senior, what my plans were for graduation, share a few tips about college life, and just offer me encouragement.  I was 17 and he was about 23; I know now that he had no intentions other than to be friendly.  However, in my teenage mind, it was all-too-easy to imagine that he was flirting with me…and to let my heart run wild.  To make matters worse, I found myself stranded at the end of the day (this was before cell phones were commonplace, so I couldn’t just call my parents to come pick me up) and Josh offered me a ride home.  Several of the other girls I worked with saw me get into his car, and for several weeks afterwards they bombarded me with teasing and friendly jealousy.

If I had known how to guard my heart, I might have shared a quick laugh with those other girls, but then I would have surrendered my imagination to God and asked Him to help me not become consumed with fantasies about Josh.  But, I didn’t know how to guard my heart, I only knew that Josh was smart, charming, handsome and made me feel like a princess.  I let my daydreams run wild.  I was convinced that Josh was the one for me and I couldn’t stand the thought of spending the rest of my life with anything or anyone but him.  I imagined what it would be like to date him, how he would propose to me, what our wedding would look like, what we would name our children…

Suppose I was wrong?  Suppose Josh wasn’t the one I was supposed to marry?  Well, it wasn’t as if I were making out with him- I was just entertaining (mostly) innocent fantasies about him.  If he and/or I married someone else, all I had to do was stop daydreaming about him.  I couldn’t find any verses in the Bible that said non-lustful fantasies where wrong, and it wasn’t as if we could have an unplanned child or get an STD from my thoughts about him, right?

When I left for college the following year, I deliberately tried to think about Josh a little bit less- there were other guys in college; I wanted to be open if someone came along.  Only then did I realize how much of an addiction those fantasies had become.  Whenever things got stressful (and I should have been leaning on God for strength) I found myself thinking that someday, I’d be married to Josh and everything would be fine.  When things were going great (and I should have been praising God for His blessings in my life) I was imagining how much fun it would be to share these experiences with Josh when he finally decided to become my boyfriend (thank goodness he and I were always several hours apart and rarely actually saw each other during this time- I hate to think what a fool I would have made of myself if he had still been a part of my daily life!).  By this point, I realized that my feelings for Josh were beyond “innocent” and had become idolatrous.  On top of that, who was I kidding about these fantasies being “innocent” in the first place?!- assuming that Josh was my future husband was a gateway for imagining what it would be like to be married to him, and that quickly came to include daydreams about the intimacy of marriage.  That was definitely against God’s commands in the Bible.  I needed to stop, but giving up my fantasies about Josh felt like giving up heroine!

An older girl that I’d met through a college ministry took me under her wing and shared a similar experience she had had when she was my age (my struggle is not uncommon among women!).  She was the one that lead me to the verse I posted in my last entry in Proverbs that tells us to guard our hearts above all else, because they were the wellspring of life.  She urged me to make a conscious effort to take my thoughts captive and to pray for Josh’s future wife when I was tempted to fantasize him.  (For the next several months, heaven was flooded with prayers for the future Mrs. Josh!)

The healing process dragged into my senior year of college- up to the day that Josh’s facebook status suddenly read: “Engaged to Jessica.”  I met Jessica briefly a month before their wedding- she was a beautiful, sweet-spirited woman whom Josh was clearly crazy about.

On Josh’s wedding day, my best friend, Elizabeth, called to see how I was doing.  “You know…I thought my feelings for Josh were behind me,” I told her, tearfully. 

“Pack your overnight bag, I’ll pick you up in ten minutes,” Elizabeth replied.  It was my own sin and naivety that had lead me to this moment; even so, God in His mercy had sent Elizabeth to offer me comfort.

After graduation from college, I moved back to my hometown (where Josh and Jessica live, along with their adorable son).  Jessica has actually become a close friend.  I haven’t had the courage to tell her about my past feelings for Josh, but she does know that I prayed for her before I met her- and now I know that she was facing one of the darkest points of her life and her walk with God during that time, and my prayers for her where felt.  God used my failure for His glory.

I wish I could say that we all lived happily ever after, but my experience didn’t end without some scarring.  Initially, after Josh and Jessica were married, I was horrified to realize I still hadn’t completely “turned off” my fantasies about Josh- I would catch myself playing “what if” and imagining what could have been, or (worse) wondering what would happen between Josh and me if something happened to Jessica (I DON’T want anything to happen to her!!).  I still find myself having to take those thoughts captive sometimes. 

Josh never physically touched me with more than a handshake, and he doesn’t have the slightest clue that I entertained so many romantic fantasies about him.  However, I feel as if I stole from Jessica, the same way I would have if I had been physically intimate with Josh or if I had broken his heart and created emotional baggage for him to carry into their marriage.  If I were to continue carelessly entertaining fantasies about Josh today, four years after his marriage, it would surely be sinful.  Why would it have been okay for me to entertain these daydreams years earlier?  All that time, Josh was Jessica’s future husband- would she have been okay with another woman lusting after the man she was going to marry?

I wonder if I will ever have “what if” thoughts about Josh after I’m married- when I’m in the midst of a disagreement with my future husband, will I let the enemy tell me that Josh would never be as big of a jerk as he’s being?  Will I ever believe that I “settled” for him because Josh didn’t want me?  I know I’ll have to tell him about this whole thing before we are married- if Josh and Jessica are still a part of my life, will he feel irrationally threatened by or jealous of Josh?  Time will tell, I guess.

I am thankful for God’s grace and mercy through this whole story.  But I just wish I had learned to guard my heart sooner- the entire wellspring of my life was affected when I gave it away carelessly.

 

The Most Annoying Question You Can Ask A Single Woman

26 Mar

“So, what’s up with you and that guy you were with?”

Let’s start out by laying something out here:  When a man and woman are together (sitting together at church, walking alongside each other across a college campus, seeing a movie or having a meal or coffee together) and are unmarried, these are the possible scenarios:

1. They are officially boyfriend and girlfriend, or at least they are dating

2. They are just friends with no desire to be romantic

3. They are just friends and she has no expectations of becoming romantic, but if (and only if) he were to express interest in her she would absolutely give him a chance.

4. They are just friends, but she is hoping for a commitment from him; however she believes that he needs to be the initiator so she is waiting patiently on him.

Now, if us single ladies could just give people one of these responses and leave it at that, this question wouldn’t be so annoying- but no one ever can “just leave it at that!!”  There is always teasing, speculation, and sometimes gossip that follows.

Something else I should explain: women might not be as likely to struggle with lust or sexual temptation as men (although we absolutely do struggle with it!), but what we do struggle with is guarding our hearts.  It can be easy for us to dream of a future with a man, and before we know it, we’ve given our hearts entirely to that man, whether it be through too-intimate conversations/experiences or even too-intimate daydreams that man has no idea about.  Why is this a bad thing if you aren’t physically involved?  Proverbs 4:23 commands us “Above all else, guard your hearts, because everything you do flows from it. (NIV, italics mine)”  The Bible doesn’t say, “You might want to guard your heart,” or “Just a suggestion, guard your heart.”  It says, “ABOVE ALL ELSE.”  There’s good reason for God to give this command- if we give away our hearts carelessly, we are asking to have them broken and eventually become callused and hardened – and our entire lives become broken as a result.  Maybe we won’t turn into crazy cat women because we gave our hearts away, but we will have heavy emotional baggage to carry into future relationships and possibly our marriages.

So, scenario 1, “Yes, we are boyfriend and girlfriend,” might not be so bad if the respondent isn’t bombarded with teasing about when the wedding will be (that’s NOT encouraging her to guard her heart, unless they are seriously talking about marriage!).

Scenario 2 (just friends, always will be friends and will never be anything more) wouldn’t be a big deal, either, if people would just accept the respondent’s answer and not start listing all the reasons she should be interested in “that guy,” accuse her of being too picky when she clarifies why she’s not interested in him romantically, (“Why do you care if he has so much credit card debt?  You have student loans, what’s the difference?!”), or start telling her that she “never knows” what might happen.

Scenario 3 is a nightmare because it traps us- the askers will undoubtedly want to know if “that guy” will ever be more than a friend, and, keep in mind the respondent is open to a relationship with this guy, but she is not hoping for or expecting one.  There is the (very high) chance that whatever answer she gives will somehow get back to “that guy,” and it will probably be twisted or exaggerated by the time it reaches him.  If she answers, “No,” he will probably end up hearing, “Oh, you were thinking about asking her out?  Don’t bother, she said she doesn’t ever want to be more than friends.”  If she answers, “Well, if he liked me I’d give him a chance,” he’ll probably end up hearing, “You need to ask that friend of yours out; she really wants something more from you!” 

Then there’s scenario 4.  I learned back in high school to never, never let it be known when I had a crush on a guy or even when I thought we might be moving towards a relationship- no matter who you confide in, word ALWAYS manages to get back to him – and, NO, we do not want him to know that we like him.  “Maybe he’s interested but doesn’t have the guts to ask you out.”  Well, he needs to man up.  “Maybe he’ll be interested once he knows you’re interested.” Um, hello?  Men aren’t women.  They want to the pursuer, not the one being pursued. 

Well, maybe we decide that we can tell you the truth and trust you with it- but then, don’t start with all the unwanted advice.  No, we aren’t going to go against our personal convictions to make the first move.  No, we aren’t going to put on an act to try to get him to like us.  Yes, we will let you know if anything changes between us- you don’t need to ask every couple of days.

Of course, we probably don’t want to deal with all of this, so we are faced with either awkwardly dodging your question or lying to you and saying we’re just friends and nothing more. 

So, that being said, the best thing you can do for your single girlfriends is NOT ASK what is up with her and “that guy” you saw her with.  If you are a true friend that we can depend on, you will be among the first to know if our relationship status changes!

 

Fasting From Your Spouse…?

16 Mar

This Sunday, my dear friend Christine mentioned that she would be alone this week as her husband went to join his family for a vacation in the mountains.  I told Christine to give me a call if she got bored or lonely, but I knew that wouldn’t happen- she is an educator, and as the school year winds down, she is swamped with IEP meetings and whatnot.

Last night, I saw her at midweek Bible study- she rushed in looking like she hadn’t had a break since she began her work day at 7:30am!  “Good week for your husband to be gone, huh?” I joked with her.

“It’s actually been really good, and not just because I’ve been so swamped!” she told me.  “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I miss him like crazy and we skype or call every evening…but there have been some things that I missed from being single that I got back this week.”  Christine went on to explain that she often depended on her husband to let her unload after a long day or to be there when she was lonely.  “I used to depend on God for that.  This week, I’ve had that back,” she told me.

Christine isn’t the first Christian wife I’ve heard say that, after marriage, there is beautiful new intimacy with one’s spouse- but there is also a loss of intimacy with God that only singles can experience.

As the Apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 7 “32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.” (NIV)

Paul isn’t saying marriage is bad or that a married person shouldn’t be concerned about pleasing their spouse- he’s just saying, “This is a part of marriage.”  Humans are created with a need for intimacy- a healthy marriage brings us some of that intimacy, but a single person has no other place to find true intimacy but in God.

“It’s like you’re fasting from your husband!” I told Christine.

“Yeah…I guess I am!” she laughed.

For one week, Christine got to experience the intimacy that only singles can experience with God.  If she couldn’t fall asleep at night, she couldn’t roll over and talk to or cuddle with her husband, but she could pray and meditate.  If she was stressed out, she couldn’t come home and tell her husband what a rough day she had had, but she could offer it up to God. 

What Christine had for one week, I have until that day in God’s timing when I marry the man He has chosen for me.  Don’t let me forget that!!

The Dips in the Roller Coaster Part 2

13 Mar

Suddenly, I was very, very aware that I was the only one in our crowd left as a single woman.  And, I’ve heard what people say about that one single woman…”I don’t understand why she never married, she was a pretty girl.”  Then, someone else chimes in with, “Well, she could be difficult to live with, I’m sure.”  or “You think she was pretty?  She’s put on some weight since high school.”  “She wasted all that time going to a secular college; if she’d just gone to Bible college she would have met someone.”  Was that what people were saying about me?…and was it true of me?

Of course it wasn’t true.  I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant, but I am a model signed with multiple agencies; I have my feel-ugly days but overall I know I’m attractive.  I have only lived entirely alone for one summer and always got along fine with my family or roommates; I could handle living with a spouse!  And yes, I did go to a secular college (as did Gina, Hayley, and Sarah…and Carrie and Kristen both met their husbands outside of college), and I knew that that was where God wanted me.  I was very involved with church and on-campus ministries; there were plenty of places to meet Godly men.  I knew the truth, so what did I care what other people were saying about me?  My future was up to God.

Once the hubbub of Gina’s wedding was behind me, it was (somewhat) easier to focus on the truth.  I had actually decided to change churches after college, and my new church was full of young couples who treated me as equal even though I was the only single woman.  Sometimes I felt like a bit of an extra wheel, but I couldn’t complain about the friendships or the fellowship that I was blessed with.

Then, this winter, the big blow came.

I think every woman can remember that girl in high school or college that she would give anything to trade places with- the girl that was gorgeous even on her worst hair days, that achieved everything you wanted to achieve, and had everything you could ever hope to have?  For me, that was Jenna.  She and I came from similar families- our dads worked together, she had two older brothers and I had one, and her family also professed to be believers and attended a Bible-teaching church.  When I started high school, I had big goals and dreams- to be the captain of the tennis team, to have a lead role in the school musical and to sing a solo in our annual talent show, to be a valedictorian, to make honors ensemble my senior year (and maybe even my junior year), to be president of an important club, and to be homecoming queen and on prom court.  Well, I didn’t achieve any of those things, except being president of one club (Jenna was the vice president and all her friends looked to her rather than me as the leader), but Jenna was right behind me doing it all- she even got a job waitressing at a restaurant where I was hoping to get a job.  She and I were never close, but we were casual friends- but I secretly felt consumed by comparing myself to her.

I went off to the second most selective public university in our state, and Jenna went to the first the following year.  She spent her spring break on a tropical beach with her friends; I spent mine doing missions work in an inner city.  She lived in charming apartments with her girlfriends, I lived wherever was cheapest with whoever needed a roommate.  She had two glamorous jobs as a cocktail waitress and a tanning consultant, I went wherever I could find a job and had some really horrible employment experiences.  She studied abroad in some pretty exotic places, including Paris; I studied in a third world country (and wouldn’t trade my experience there for anything, but how could I look at the pictures of her in front of the eiffel tower and not feel envious?)

This might have been more bearable if Jenna had either not professed to be a Born-again Christian, or if she had had a close walk with Christ- but her social networking pictures and updates also included pictures of her drunk at parties, in bars before she was 21, and references to dirty jokes.  After college (when she began a successful career and I moved back in with my parents for a transitional period) a mutual friend told me she had moved in with her boyfriend and that he wasn’t religious at all.  This winter, she announced that they were engaged.

Okay, watching Gina or Carrie meet Godly men and marry was hard enough- why did Jenna get every single “blessing” I had hoped for when she wasn’t even living for the Lord?  Was God going to do something to get her attention and turn her back to Him, or was He just going to continue letting her enjoy everything this world had to offer AND blessing her with a successful social life, career, and marriage?

I kicked myself for thinking that.  I don’t follow Christ just to seek out blessings; I follow Him because He worthy of my praise and adoration (and so much more!).  The very fact that He has redeemed me and saved me from my sin is reason enough for me to surrender wholeheartedly to Him.  But still, the lie sinking into my head was, “Why do I bother following Christ when I have nothing to show for it, and Jenna has everything to show for her worldly pursuits?”

I remember the words God spoke to Job in chapter 38:

2 “Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?…

4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels[a]shouted for joy?

8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
9 when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?

12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
13 that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.
15 The wicked are denied their light,
and their upraised arm is broken.

16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.

19 “What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?
20 Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
21 Surely you know, for you were already born!
You have lived so many years!…”

In other words, WHO AM I TO QUESTION GOD?!  Who am I to obscure His plans or say, “I’m better than Jenna and she’s getting all the blessings!!!  Nofe-air!”  God said Himself that Job was righteous and there was none like him on the earth, and I’ll take singleness over what he went through any day!!

I know that what appear to be “blessings” in Jenna’s life might not be blessings at all, and I know that God loves her too much to let her be content to live without Him at the center of her life.  More importantly, though, I want to remember that I am NOT in a place to demand my way with God.  I want to know Him intimately and glorify Him with my entire being, and I want others to see Christ in me- not just seek His “blessings.”

At this point, God’s will for my life is for me to be single.  He is not an elementary teacher who has a reward system in place for me, Jenna, Gina, Hayley, or anyone else; He is GOD and His ways are far above my understanding.  Whatever He says will happen in my life: “Behold, the maidservant of the Lord.  Let it be to me as You have said.”

The Dips in the Roller Coaster Part 1

12 Mar

Doing the bachelorette thing is a roller coaster ride.

One day, I’m loving the freedom I have to do whatever I want with my life.  I can move overseas as a missionary, I can go to graduate school wherever I want.  I don’t need anyone’s consent to spend money on new shoes or a coffee date with a girlfriend, and I don’t have to put time and energy into making a marriage or a relationship work.

Then, there are days- sometimes several days in a row- where singleness is the black cloud hanging over my life.  This past year sometimes felt like one long, heavy black cloud.

First off, a bit of my history.  By the time I graduated high school, I had a group of girls at my church that I was close to- even though we were all headed in separate directions, we stayed in close touch throughout my college years.  There was Gina, who was my age and who I had known literally all my life (our parents attended that church before we were born).  Then, Kristen and Sarah came with their parents to the church when I was about 4- Kristen was a year younger and Sarah a year older.  Carrie and her family moved to the area when she and I were in fifth grade, and then Hayley joined when she was a freshman and Carrie, Gina, and myself were seniors in high school.  There was only one other freshman in the youth group and she and Hayley were on completely different planes maturity-wise, so Hayley gravitated towards us even though she was younger.

The summer between my junior and senior years of college, Hayley came over one night to keep me company while my parents were on vacation.  She had just graduated high school a few weeks before and was all excited to start classes at our local community college.  We went to grab some dinner, and she offered to drive- it seemed so weird to me that my little Hayley had a driver’s license and a high school diploma!  Well, that weird feeling was thrown to the waste side when, late that night, I casually asked Hayley if she thought she and her boyfriend, Scott, would get married someday.  Hayley said yes, and I asked her when she thought that might happen…after she finished at the community college?  Or would she wait until she had a bachelor’s degree?  Hayley hesitated, then said, “I should have told you a long time ago.  We’re getting married December 5th of this year.”  WHAAAAAAAT?

At first I thought she was just talking, but she told me her wedding dress was hanging in her closet, the reception hall was booked, and she and Scott were just waiting for her engagement ring to be resized.  Three weeks later, she came to church wearing the ring and announced her engagement, and a few months later I came home from college to attend her and Scott’s beautiful wedding ceremony.  (Scott is currently in the air force, and Hayley will graduate from college this May.  They have been married four years!)  I was the only one of our “group” that attended Hayley’s wedding (some of the other girls weren’t very accepting of her choice to marry at eighteen, even though her parents and pastor gave her a full blessing), but we all had to stand back and say, “Wow…she’s three years younger than us, and she was the first to marry!”

A year-and-a-half later, Kristen announced her engagement to a young man she had met while working at a Christian camp.  They were married another year later.  Gina, Carrie, Sarah, and myself joked that we seemed to be going from youngest to oldest, which would mean that Carrie would marry next, then myself, then Gina, and then Sarah.

Well, this past summer, I attended first Carrie’s wedding, then Sarah’s, and finally  Gina’s.  Gina didn’t make it down the aisle before she started crying, and I cried with her…well, I got everyone to believe that I was crying with her.  Throughout the entire ceremony, all I could think was, “God…REMEMBER ME?!”  I wanted to rejoice with my lifelong-friend on her special day, but the ache I felt inside was too real to ignore.

I knew God hadn’t forgotten me.  I know I’m only 25 and that God’s plan for my life doesn’t need to go along side my church peers.  But suddenly, I was very, very aware that I was the only one in our crowd left as a single woman.  And, I’ve heard what people say about that one single woman…”I don’t understand why she never married, she was a pretty girl.”  Then, someone else chimes in with, “Well, she could be difficult to live with, I’m sure.”  or “You think she was pretty?  She’s put on some weight since high school.”  “She wasted all that time going to a secular college; if she’d just gone to Bible college she would have met someone.”  Was that what people were saying about me?…and was it true of me?

(more to come tomorrow!)

What I Believe…about God, about marriage, and about being single

11 Mar

These are just a few things I would like clarified for my readers.  This is where I stand, and if you are looking for a debate there are plenty of places where you can find one, but this blog is not one of them!  I am happy to answer sincere questions, but I will not use this blog as a place to debate my personal beliefs!  If you are offended by what I write, no one is forcing you to read it!  That being said, here are my non-negotiables:

About God:

  • I believe there is one God existing in three persons- The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  I believe that God has no beginning and no end, that He is all powerful, all knowing, all present, all good, and that there is none above Him or beside Him.  I believe that God is Holy, meaning that He is without sin and that sin cannot be in His presence anymore than cold can be in the presence of fire or darkness in the presence of light.
  • I believe that God is the Creator of the universe and the giver of life.  He created humanity in His own image so that He might enjoy an intimate relationship with it, but humanity fell into sin in the Garden of Eden, and since then all humans have been born with a sin nature.  Because of our sin, we cannot enter into God’s presence or do anything that pleases God.
  • I believe that God is Holy and Just, but is also Loving and Merciful.  Because of our sin against Him, we are deserving of eternal punishment in hell, but He has made a way for us to be redeemed unto Him.  God the Father sent God the Son to earth in the form of a human, Jesus Christ, who was born of the virgin Mary and lived a sinless life.  He was then crucified to take the punishment for our sins, buried, and rose again to life three days later, and 40 days later ascended into Heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father.
  • I believe that all who acknowledge their sin and receive Jesus as their Savior are saved from their sins and given the right to become children of God, and are supernaturally sealed with salvation.  At the moment of salvation, I believe that the Holy Spirit endwells those who believe and empowers them to glorify God.  After physical death or upon Christ’s return for His Church, those who believe will be taken into Heaven and into the presence of God, where they will praise Him for eternity.  Because we are dead in our sinful nature, I believe that we cannot acknowledge our sin or understand Christ’s sacrifice on our own; it is purely the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that enables us to come to a saving faith.
  • I believe that God has given us His truth, His whole truth, and nothing but His truth in His word, the Holy Bible.

About Marriage:

  • I believe that God Himself created marriage and performed the very first marriage of Adam and Eve.  Marriage was not the idea or invention of any human being or society, and therefore it is not open to changes according to the laws of humans or society.
  • I believe that marriage is the sacred union between one man and one woman, and that the two are joined together and become one flesh in the eyes of God.
  • I believe that marriage is a binding commitment that is broken only by death.  If one or both partners find in necessary to separate for their own physical, mental, or emotional safety, they are not free to enter into other relationships and should be actively seeking to reconcile their marriage.   In the case that one partner is unfaithful and unrepentant, I believe the other partner has the choice to be freed from his/her marital commitment but should first seek reconciliation.
  • I believe that physical and emotional intimacy were created by God for those who have entered into marriage to express their love and passion for one another.  To enter into a romantic, emotionally intimate relationship outside of marriage may damage our hearts, which are the wellsprings of our lives.  To enter into a physically/sexually intimate relationship outside of marriage is to sin against God and against our own bodies, which are the temples of the Holy Spirit.   As followers of Christ, our goals should be to keep ourselves pure for our future spouses.  Our question is not, “How far is too far?” but “How pure can I be?”

About Singleness:

  • I believe that marriage is not superior to singleness, nor vice versa.  Marriage and Singleness are BOTH gifts from God, and we should use whatever gift He has given us at any given time in our lives to glorify Him and futher His Kingdom.  To go from single to married, or married to single in circumstances beyond one’s control, is the act of exchanging one gift for another gift of equal value.
  • I believe there is no “spiritual gift” of celibacy just as there is no spiritual gift of marriage.  If a follower of Christ is single, he/she has the blessing of singleness; if one is married, he/she has the gift of marriage.  Some people may never experience the blessing of marriage and some may consciously choose to renounce marriage for the sake of God’s kingdom, but no one is created with the divine “ability” to never have romantic or sexual desires.