Maybe Singleness Isn’t about Waiting for Marriage

So many young adults today endure singleness as a "season of waiting" for the good stuff: marriage. But what if marriage isn't really better than being single? Read more here!

Maybe it’s just me, but lately I’ve been seeing a lot of “marriage vs. singleness” discussions among Christian young adults.

The debate looks something like this: many young adults are still single, and some are married. The married people are on the “WOO marriage is so great and if you’re not married you’re missing out big time” side, while all the singles are either trying to deny their emotions (“I’m single and I will enjoy it/pretend I do”) or just open about their desperate desire to get married.

Disclaimer:

Maybe I have no right to even have an opinion on the matter, since I’m a married, twenty-one year old Christian woman who hasn’t experienced a real “season of singleness.”

I might not understand how hard it is to wait for God to bring someone into your life, or wonder if He ever will.

Maybe I can’t understand how hard it is to trust God, when being a wife and mother is the greatest desire of your heart.

What I have to say actually has nothing to do about the singleness versus marriage discussion. It’s more to do with how God’s will affects the quality of either season of life—whether that’s singleness or marriage.

Maybe it’s not about whether or not you’re married.

Why do so many singles feel that they are missing out if they’re not married? I think it’s a matter of understanding why marriage can be a blessing…and how it can also be quite the opposite.

My marriage is a wonderful blessing to me. My husband is a pretty amazing man. I have more respect and admiration for him than anyone else. But here’s the thing: my marriage isn’t a blessing because my husband and I have forever committed our lives to each other, or even because he’s such a great guy. It’s a blessing because it’s where God wants me.

There are also many unhappy marriages in the world, folks. I know couples who would probably say their marriage is not a blessing to them. Marriage itself isn’t the blessing here.

Likewise, singleness is a blessing for some and not for others. If you are single and you believe that’s where God has placed you for now (which has nothing to do with how you feel about the situation and all about God’s will for your life), you will be—and are—blessed.

We don’t miss out on the blessing because we’re either married or not. We miss out on the blessing when we refuse to stay where God has placed us.

When we look at marriage and singleness and say one is better than the other, we stand dangerously close to the edge. We tempt ourselves because when we believe one is better than the other, we often pursue it relentlessly, regardless of where God is guiding us. It’s so easy to just charge ahead with what we want and ignore the Lord’s leading.

The blessing happens when we choose to be where God wants us. Every step of my relationship with my husband was guided by God. I didn’t push for it. But what if I had believed that no matter what, being single would make me more “blessed”? If I hadn’t married, I wouldn’t be in God’s will and would be worse off.

For those who are married, marriage is a blessing not because it’s a marriage, but because God put those two people there. And for others, singleness is not a blessing because they’re single, but because they are walking in God’s path for them.

Next time you’re wondering which is better—marriage or singleness?—remember that it’s not the circumstance, but the reason you’re there.

It’s not about where you are, but whether you are willing to surrender here & now.

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The “Perfect Guy” List: Why You Should Tear It Up

We've all created the "Perfect Guy" list at some point. But does it really do us any good? Click here to find out why I got rid of my list and how I allowed God to work in my life!

A couple weeks ago, I was talking with two of my friends about “the list”. You know, the list almost every teenage/young adult girl makes about things her future husband needs to be—tall, a solid Christian, loves kids, nice teeth, humorous, will take her out for ice cream.

My one unmarried friend asked me and my other somewhat-recently-married friend about our lists—what they were like, if we married someone with those qualities, and if we thought they were a good idea.

My answer was simple. “If I can be honest here, I think you should take your list and literally tear it up.”

Did I have a list? Yep. I made it when I was fifteen, and guess what? It was completely useless in my relationship and eventual marriage.

Are lists all bad? No, but they can have several not-so-great effects on future relationships, our future husbands, and on our own hearts.

Reason to ditch the list no. 1: You set unrealistic expectations for your future spouse.

Say you have the idea of the “perfect spouse” in your head, on your list, wherever. You have all these amazing qualities you would love to have in a guy, whether that’s “loves to cook”, “spiritually on fire”, or “has blue eyes”. You’ve now said to your future boyfriend or spouse, “This is what I expect of you, and if you can’t keep up, I see you as a failure.” Of course, you’d never actually say that, but you’re saying that he’s not good enough as he is; that you have a high standard he needs to reach in order to have your respect.

What if a guy had a list of criteria you had to meet in order for you to be marriage material? What if a guy turned you down based on the fact that you didn’t cook as good as his mom did? We’d probably call him a jerk and drop him like a hot potato. So why is it as girls we think it’s okay to do this to guys?

Even if he never finds out what you put on your list, or better yet, that you even had one, you’ve still set expectations in your own mind for what you think he should be, rather than respecting and loving him for the amazing, God-honouring guy he already is.

Reason no. 2: You limit yourself.

If you have a list, you run a very large risk of turning down a great guy because he doesn’t meet 3/17 items on your list. If you’re basing your decision on very physical attributes, you’re focusing on the wrong things. Just because a guy says that he’s not into kids now doesn’t mean that he’ll never want to start a family. And just because a guy doesn’t cook his family supper now doesn’t mean that he won’t learn and cook for you on occasion.

People grow and change. You shouldn’t drop a guy because of something he hasn’t accomplished yet or because of a skill he hasn’t become great at.

Reason no. 3: Your list actually represents your own insecurities.

If you’ve made a list, take a look at it. How many of those things are characteristics you wish you had, but don’t? I found that my list was actually a projection of what I saw lacking in my life. I had all these things I needed to fix in my own life and wanted them to be perfect in the guy I would marry.

While there isn’t anything wrong with wanting a guy to have strong character, we can come to a point where God is saying, “Hey, you need to deal with this,” and we instead turn it around and say “I need to find someone who has this figured out for the both of us.”

Go over your list and see if any of the things you’ve written down are things God is calling you to work out in your own life.

Reason no. 4: You limit God.

A little while after I wrote my first list, “What I Want in a Husband”, I wrote another list: “What God Wants for Me in a Husband.” They were a bit different. For one, God couldn’t care less if my husband had blonde hair, but He wanted to make sure he was forgiving. Another thing is that God didn’t care whether or not he was spiritually mature now, but He did want him to be growing. God’s and my opinions on my life differ from time to time…and I’ve learned that His are always right.

And to be truthful, there were so many things that God gave me in my husband that I didn’t even have a clue I needed. And, if you would have asked me, I probably would have said that I didn’t want some of those qualities—and yet, God knew I needed them, even if I didn’t want them. I am not a physically affectionate person by nature; in fact, no one in my family is. William’s love language is physical touch. Oh, boy. Turns out I’ve come to love that about him. Now, we’ll be walking to the car and it’s like, “Um, excuse me; why are you not holding my hand?” (Except I say it nicer.)

One last thing.

When I gave up my list, I was really giving my will over to God. He knows me better than I know myself; after all, He’s God. I got to a point where I didn’t want to pick my own husband—I’d probably really mess it up. When I stepped back and let God take the reins, He was able to work in my life and find a guy who’s not perfect, but who pushes me toward God and loving others.

When you trust God, He won’t fail you. He’s as interested in your love life as He is in your every-day life, work life, school life, home life. Will you trust Him in this area too?

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Seeking God when He Seems Far Away

We've all had those mountain-top experiences. But what about when God seems to be far from us? How do we seek Him in those times? Click here to find out!

I loved going to youth conferences in high school. The bus trip, hanging out with friends, staying up late, great worship, amazing speakers. I would leave the youth conference so on fire for God, eager to love Him unconditionally and serve Him every day.

But inevitably, within the week, the spiritual “high” I was on would fade, and I would come down from the mountain to the plateau of everyday life. I was left wondering where my eagerness went, and if I was a bad Christian for being less interested in God.

The reality is that the Christian life isn’t supposed to be fuelled by these mountaintop experiences. There are lots of times of our lives during which God seems far away. The question is, what do we do when He seems to be far from us?

Spiritual check-up.

Whenever I realize that I’ve been drifting from God, I stop and take a look at my life lately. Have I been spending time in the Word? Have I been praying regularly? Am I taking time to worship and seek the Lord? If I’m not making an effort on my part, my relationship with God won’t grow. Great friendships happen when both people put an effort in; it’s the same with God. Yes, He loves us unconditionally, but my relationship with Him won’t mature if I’m not putting any priority on it.

Re-prioritize spiritual disciplines.

There have been so many times where I’ve felt distant from God, only to realize that I haven’t been in the Word for two weeks. Not spending time with God has an impact on our lives! When I make Jesus a priority again, He is able to reveal Himself to me and I’m able to grow closer to Him.

Spend time in prayer.

There have been times when I’ve found myself far from God because I’ve actually been walking away from Him. There are so many things that get between us + God—new relationships, school/work stress, pride, selfish desires, wrong choices. I have often wondered why I’m far from God only to realize that I’ve been making decisions based on my own wants, rather than His will from my life.

Ask God to show you areas in your life that you need to give back to Him. Before I can seek after the Lord, I need to come to Him with these things and confess them. When we make ourselves right with God (that is, accepting Jesus’ forgiveness and intervention for us before God), we are free to seek Him and grow in our relationship with Him.

Seek, and you will find.

James 4:8 says this:

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…

God does not withhold from us. When we pursue Him, He awaits us with open arms. He is waiting for us to return to Him, and He will meet us where we are. Next time you’re feeling far from the Lord, remember that He has not left. He loves His children and has promised us that He will never leave nor forsake us.

Join the conversation! How do you seek God when you feel far from Him?

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Bible Study Tools: My Top 5 Essentials for Quiet Time

Are you overwhelmed by the number of Bible study resources available, or simply looking for a good place to start digging into God's Word? On the blog, I share my top 5 favourite Bible study tools! You can click here to read more!

Whether you’re a brand-new Christian or you’ve been a Christian for several years, Bible study is so important. But it’s so easy to get overwhelmed with the number of resources and tools out there designed to help you study God’s Word. I’m a back-to-the-basics kinda girl, and I prefer studying the Word by itself to reading through a devotional. Reading books by Christian authors designed to help you grow in your faith is super valuable, but it still doesn’t replace time spent in God’s Word.

Today I’d like to share some of my favourite Bible study tools with you, as well as some tips to help you get more out of your quiet time!

1. My Bible.

I thought I’d start with the obvious: the actual Bible. Personally, I love my Thinline ESV Bible. I like the ESV version because it’s a word-for-word translation, rather than a phrase-for-phrase translation. The language they use is also great—it’s not too hard or too easy to understand.

Although it doesn’t matter what translation of Bible you use, it is important to use one you can understand and apply to your life. If you love the NKJV, stick with that! If you have an easier time understanding the NLT version, use it! Neither is wrong or right—as long as you’re understanding it, use whichever version you feel most comfortable with.

2. Coloured highlighters.

As I read through a Bible passage, I like to highlight. I use three different highlighters. I colour-code as I go to make it easier to find verses by topic. Yellow is basically anything that is important or spoke to me, pink is anything to do with God’s promises to me, and blue is for verses about God’s love for me (SO important to remember!). Although there are several different kinds of highlighters for Bibles, my favourite are these gel ones. 😊

If I want to make notes in the margins of my Bible, I use a pencil (I have commitment issues to using ink in my Bible…)

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3. A notebook.

I’m a journal-er. If I’m not writing down notes, verses that stuck out to me, or general thoughts, I feel like nothing I studied has really sunk in. Writing down what I’ve learned is a great way for me to reflect on the passage. In my notebook, I write down:

  • the date
  • what Scripture I’m studying
  • verses that stood out to me and why
  • prayer requests/notes
  • any other thoughts

Now, I do want to say this…journalling is not for everyone. Writing stuff down may not work for some people, and that’s okay! If having a prayer journal or notebook doesn’t help you retain God’s Word, don’t pressure yourself to do it. Bible study is about learning God’s Word and applying it to your life, not doing what everyone else seems to be doing.

4. Coloured pens.

Because I like to journal as I study the Word, I like to have pretty pens. I bought a package of multi-coloured Sharpie pens, and I love using them! I use different colours for headings, dates, and passages as I journal. Of course, plain ink works just as well. For a couple years I only used pencil, and the quality of my quiet time didn’t suffer at all. 😊

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5. My phone.

I know, I know…major distraction potential. But I can justify this. I promise.

I use my phone for a couple different things when I have my quiet time. The very first thing I do is put my phone on silent/do not disturb, and I place it face-down. This means that I won’t even be tempted to check what my friend just texted me, or who just commented on my Instagram photo. When I can’t see or hear my phone going off, I can focus on God. Satan will use every distraction to pull us from time in the Word, and I try to prevent that as much as possible.

Then I use my phone for two things: worship and study. I play worship music (softly!) on my phone in the background as I have my quiet time. But I have to be a little careful with my music choices. I love music, and sometimes my favourite jams end up being more distracting. No, Emily, now is not the time for a private dance party. I made up a worship music playlist on my phone, packed full of Hillsong, Bethel, and Chris Tomlin.

I also use my phone for different Bible studies. Currently, I’m working through IF:Equip’s Joshua study. Sometimes I used She Reads Truth as well. I love both of these communities and the study resources they provide!

Part of following IF:Equip’s study is the journalling aspect of my quiet time as well. For each passage you study, they suggest you journal three questions: 1) What does this mean about God? 2) What does this mean about me? and 3) What does this mean about the world? These questions help me to take what I just learned and apply it to God, myself, and the world around me. I use these questions even when I’m not doing my scheduled Bible study; they apply to any passage, which I love!

If you’re not into journalling, I would still encourage you to check out IF:Equip! They also have brief video discussions for each study, as well as a question of the day and a comment/discussion forum.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a glimpse into my Bible study time!

How do you study the Bible? What’s your favourite way to learn God’s Word?

 

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Stress: Dealing with It in a God-Honouring Way

We all have stress in our lives. But how do we deal with it? And how do we deal with it in a way that honours God? Click here to read my top four ways to de-stress!

In today’s world, a lot is expected of teens and young adults. At a young age, we need to decide what kind of career we want, where we’ll go to college, where we’ll live, who we’ll marry…the list goes on and on. How is is possible to make all these decisions without some level of stress?!

The thing is, we millennials aren’t the only ones who are stressed. Stress doesn’t just go away once you turn 27. We’ll always have stressful things to deal with. The problem with stress is that it steals our joy. And stress is a dangerous mix of busyness + worry, which are both things God tells us not to entertain.

But how do we avoid stress? I mean, life happens. It’s pretty hard to avoid, unless you want to live your life hidden in a room (and I doubt many of us want that). Today, I’m going to share with you my top four ways of dealing with stress!

1. Tell God you’re not okay.

How many of us run to our phone and text our best friend when we find out that we failed a test for the first time? (Guilty!) The thing is, God should be the first one we go to when stuff happens. He created us, and He loves us. I can’t tell you the number of times (if I had to guess, it would probably be about a gazillion) that I’ve gone to God and said, “God, this really, really sucks. I don’t even know what to do or say.” God is with us in everything—and He’s never leaving. He created us, and He loves us. Why are we so hesitant to approach Him with our problems? I promise He’s big enough to handle it. And His grace is enough to get us through it. It’s been my experience that when I go to God with my issues + problems, He comforts me like no other. He knows my spirit like no other, and He knows exactly how to comfort me. I’m blown away by His love.

2. Have time to yourself.

I’m an introvert—very much so. This means that I need to be alone to recharge. I love people and being around my friends, but at some point my tank gets empty. And the only way to fill it back up is to spend some time by myself–whether that’s reading a book, working on a sewing project, or just doing my nails and listening to music. When I’m feeling stressed out, it always helps to have some me-time. Once I have more energy, it’s 10x easier to deal with whatever I’m facing!

3. Spend some time in the Word.

One of the things that helps me a LOT when I’m feeling overwhelmed is opening my Bible to the book of Psalms. Sometimes I find something that really speaks to my situation and God uses His Word to put me back into perspective. Other times, I’m just reminded of how great our God is and how He is so wonderfully in control.

4. Go for a hike.

Okay, so there aren’t that many places to hike in southwestern Ontario. It’s pretty flat down here. But going for a walk does wonders for a stressed soul. There’s something about doing something physically active and spending time in God’s creation that is a huge stress-reliever. When I walk around and take the time to see how incredible God is, I’m comforted that He can handle whatever it is I’m going through. Often, we drive by gorgeous autumn trees, new spring flowers, wide blue lakes, and towering mountains and we forget Who made them all. When I take the time to seek out and look at our Lord’s creation, I find myself wanting to praise Him all the more.

How do you deal with stress?

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