Dating is Messy

Photo credit: https://uprint.id/blog/en/sad-couple-2/

I wish there was a clear cut manual on how we should date. You meet someone and you wish it could be as straightforward, walking you from point A to B. But it never is. We are plagued with thousands of questions even before it starts:

Who should I date? Where do I meet the best men? Is it too soon to text/call her? What should I reply? Why hasn’t he called me yet? What does her reply mean? Does he like me? Where is this relationship going? Is he the one for me? Should I introduce her to my parents? How should I turn him down? Should we break up?

It doesn’t help that the bible is silent on dating. It has no mention of it. Dating is a modern concept. Men used to meet women and decide to marry her. Now, with the rise of technologies, graduate degrees and supermarket choices, what used to be a simple process of meeting someone, saying ‘I Do’ and sticking with it, we have moved to hashtag ‘It’s complicated’.

If you’re the lucky few who met their beau in high school, then good for you. But for most of us, there’s no promise that we’ll leave the dating scene unscathed. I myself wanted to avoid the tortuous murky waters of dating. So I guarded my heart and waited on courtship. But waiting and waiting, and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. So I turned that page and jumped into the water.

What no one tells you about dating

1. You will be confused.

There’s a ton of advice you’ll hear on dating. Some are practical (eg. Meet at a public place and go there separately for safety reasons.) Others are strategic (eg. Only accept dates three days in advance. Don’t reply so soon or you might seem too eager.) While others reflect our faith (eg. Don’t date unbelievers.)

I poured over books and articles on dating, relationships and marriage, hoping to escape the nasty burns of confusion. But it doesn’t get any easier or clearer. I’ve violated each one of the advice I’ve mentioned above. Each situation is different. There are principles that we can glean from the bible, ones that espouse the values of respect and loving our neighbors. But the specifics are what gets us (ie. who, what, when, how). And because it involves another human being who is likely as confused as we are, we get a hodge podge of emotions leaving us undone.

2. You will get hurt.

And thus we’re told by biblical wisdom, Guard your heart. Don’t immediately give your heart to someone you hardly know or who won’t hold up in water. You have to test his character and see if he is the real deal. Can she be trusted enough to let your guard down?

Sounds simple enough? How I wish. But when you feel that tug of infatuation, all those emotions threaten to leave us up in the cloud. As much as we wish to be guarded, there are portions of ourselves that we need to intentionally (or unintentionally) expose to the other person, for them to see us for who we are and decide whether they can accept us or not. C. S. Lewis puts it poignantly:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

We will reach a point in our dating relationship when we have to be vulnerable. That is the risk.

3. You will feel discouraged.

Perhaps months or years have gone by with no new date or prospect. Or maybe you’ve gone on many dates and still no sight of the right one for you. Or maybe you’re in a relationship, but you’re not sure if both of you are going in the same direction. It can get discouraging. Or you may feel tired of it all, losing faith in the process.

Give yourself time to grieve, yes. But also find people who will walk with you in this time. You may find yourself withdrawing from community, but don’t stay too long in the shadows. There is hope.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed.. (Romans 4:18)

Hope in the One who gave you the promise. Nothing is lost in the realm of God’s will. It’s in the uncertainty that our faith expands. You learn to trust in the confusion, witness healing in the pain, and step out with renewed hope. So go forth; date bravely.

 

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Why We Honor Our Parents in Dating

Photo credits: Huffington Post

Is it too soon to involve our parents while dating?

While popular culture tells us it’s no longer the norm to ask our parents’ permission, let alone inform them that we’re dating, or who we’re dating, there is wisdom in this age-old practice.

I haven’t always been an advocate of laying my heart out for my parents to see, especially not in my rebellious teen years, but ironically now in adulthood, I’ve seen the benefit of seeking after the thoughts and insights of my dad. The way we date may be different now, but the values, principles and truths of dating and relationships remain the same.

Let me give 3 real-life stories of how parents have played a role in their child’s dating life.

Case #1. I met a guy who piqued my interest and invited him to our family lunch to see how he would fare. Later on, I asked my dad about him, and from his strong disdained reaction, I knew it was a no.

Case #2. A guy I was seeing for a little over a week asked for his parent’s approval before anything became serious between us. They disapproved because I was older than him.

Case #3. This story comes from a guy I dated. He was in a relationship with a girl for a year and a half, but all along, the girl’s parents did not know about it. When the parents found out, they told the girl to break it off as they did not like the guy for her. To save the relationship, the guy proposed marriage to the girl and asked her to choose. The girl made her choice and said no.

Time and feelings could be saved when we take into account our parent’s opinion early on, especially if we see the purpose of our dating as a means to discern the possibility of marriage. But why is it important to get their approval? Does it matter anyway when it’s my life?

 

Honoring Parents in Chinese Culture

Chinese culture is heavily laden in Confucian philosophy. One of its cornerstones is the virtue of Filial Piety, or respect for one’s parents. It is deeply ingrained in who we are that we listen to and obey our parents. Not as a form of blind loyalty, but as a guiding principle in life and devotion to society (I am Chinese-Filipino, by the way).

The Chinese espouse close-knit family values. Adult children do not leave their family home unless they get married. This is contrary to Western ideals of independence, with most teenagers leaving the nest once they enter into college. And so it follows that Chinese singles living at home would still consider the advice and instructions of their parents. It would be disrespectful not to do so. Twice I’ve heard from Chinese guys that they do so because their parents provided them their education. They see it as their duty to honor them.

 

Honoring Parents as a Biblical Commandment

God’s commands cover all areas of life, including the choice for a spouse. And one of the most important decisions we’ll make is who we marry. It will determine whether we will laugh at the days to come or squirm at the sight of that person. With such a significant decision to make, it would be wise to seek every available counsel, especially when infatuation sets in overly clouding our judgment. Our parents, who’ve seen us walk in diapers, fail our first subjects, and walk through several job interviews, can help us see what we don’t see in this area of dating. Why not get them involved in the process? Here’s what the bible tells us:

“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2-3

1. Honoring our parents holds a promise.

We gain hold of a good consequence when we honor our parents. One of which is that it will go well with us and we will enjoy long life. Marriage itself is hard enough. When you throw in having to referee between your spouse and your parents, it can get even more exhausting. Being family-oriented, I see myself spending significant time with both of our families. In the trying times, we will need the support and love of others, even of our parents. It would indeed be easier if the one you marry is approved by your parents.

2. Honoring our parents is obedience to God.

Parents are God-given authorities. They are appointed by God to guide us and help us make good decisions. Their life experiences can offer us insights on paths we’ve yet to walk through. They’ve heard stories, successes and failures that can guide us in making good choices. While not all parents are Christians, God can still use them and speak through them. He is sovereign and everything on earth is under His divine authority. Their ‘no’ could be God’s ‘no’. Some discernment may be required though on our part when sifting through advice that is not in line with God’s word. If that is the case, we can seek God to change our parent’s heart. But until then, we patiently wait on God.

It may be counter-cultural to seek our parent’s involvement in dating. But with the rate of unsuccessful marriages and ill-matched couples, perhaps going against the grain of modern culture is exactly what we need. So go ahead, ask your parents if you haven’t done so already. You may be surprised at what they have to say.

Familiar Love: The Love We Expect

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Each of us grew up with an idea of what love is. Primary of which is what we’ve received from our parents. How did they show us love (or lack of it)? Were they there for us most of the time? Were they nurturing? Did they shout at us? Any sort of abuse? Did they show themselves to be trustworthy?

As we grow older, that concept of love continues to evolve. We see it in the relationship of our parents. Are they still together or not? Have they grown closer or almost like strangers now? How is the dynamics at home or over dinner? While friends and media may teach us a thing or two about love, what we experience at home leaves us a deeper impression of how we expect to be loved.

Let me give a simple illustration.

I went out on a date with two guys. Guy 1 asked me what I wanted and went ahead to order for both of us, plus extras for the table. Guy 2 did not ask me my order; I had to ask him and he left me to order for both of us, individual plates with no sides.

Now this is not about the money spent (both paid for dinner, bless their hearts). This is about what I became accustomed to growing up. I am used to the man taking charge. That’s how I feel taken care of. And yeah, I come from a big family so extras on the side does matter.

You may have your own practices at home, things that you’re used to. And that’s okay. It’s a matter of what you’re willing to accept. This may be a small area – dining out. But it streams into bigger known areas of one’s background growing up.

Guy 1 comes from a close-knit family (much similar to mine), while Guy 2 comes from a broken family. It’s a simple dinner, but provides a peephole view into what the future may look like. Do I like what I’m seeing? Can I see myself living his life together with him?

In the end, we look for what is familiar. Because that is how we learned love. That is what we recognize. But not necessarily what is right or good for us.

 

God’s love: A different perspective

Love is something we need to learn. We weren’t born with an instinct to love; on the contrary, our parents had to teach us not to hurt others, not to steal our playmate’s toys, not to lie. They need to teach us how to behave, how to share, how to say ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’. We learn how to relate to others. And to love.

But we don’t have perfect parents. And they may fail us. How do we learn the right kind of love then?

God gives us the perfect example of what love is: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Christ died for us that we may be in a right standing relationship with God, that we may know the Father’s love.

We may not physically die for others, but we can die to our own selfishness and pride. God put first our need for a Savior, choosing to sacrifice His own Son. Do we know a love like that – love that is sacrificial and unconditional?

We need to be familiar with that kind of love. A love that we ourselves are able to put out and pour out into others. It’s a re-learning and re-familiarization of love. So that when the right one comes, we’ll be ready.

 

When God Closes A Door

Image courtesy of Pixteller.com

He proposed.

Not to me. But to her. The man I’ve been praying for for years is now someone else’s.

Can you relate? Is that a familiar song in your life? Perhaps you’ve been praying for someone you’d thought would make a good life partner. You thought the door was wide open, or even slightly ajar, only for it to be slammed shut. Or perhaps it’s a job or opportunity that you’ve been lifting up to God these past few months, or years.

We cannot twist God’s arm or bend Him to our will. But here are three lessons I’m learning from it.

1. It is God’s purpose.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I don’t see what God is doing behind the scenes. He brought this man into my life for a purpose. I can kick and wrestle, reasoning that God wouldn’t bring Him in if not to be my future spouse. But there are a thousand and one reasons for God to do so. I can only see within a finite and limited frame, but God sees all things. He can see ten, fifteen, twenty years from now and know what’s best for me.

When I met this man, I wasn’t a follower yet. I wanted to take my walk with Jesus seriously because I was following his example. I thought, this is the kind of woman he would be looking for. Indeed, but it’s not me. Nevertheless, God gripped me with an unsatiable thirst for Him, with or without this man. God used him to bring me closer to Him. And that is ten thousand better a reason than any temporal earthly relationship.

2. It is God’s protection.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? (Luke 11:11)

God hears my prayers. Or my rather lengthy list for a future spouse. This man, though on the outside is seemingly the perfect fit for me, may not be the best that God has in mind. God is the ultimate matchmaker. He’s not just thinking of what will give me joy now, but in the years to come as well. So much Kingdom time is lost on poorly made matches, says Gary Thomas in Sacred Search. In this case, God was sparing me.

The same is true for that dream job or perfect house or other closed doors. God knows us and our circumstances better than we know it. That glamorous job may be too stressful for you or it’s not really a good match of your skills and interests. Perhaps that rainbow-bright, white picket house may have a hidden leak or faulty foundation that years down the road would be a massive headache for you. We may not see how God is protecting us. But we can trust that He is.

3. It is God’s hope.

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? (Romans 8:24)

We are counting down the last few good single Christian men. Or are we? On one hand, I could, fist-in-air cry out, Lord, another one out the window! On the other, I could take it in stride and see that there are still men like him around. They are out there. I just need to be patient and wait.

There is hope. If not this one, then surely God is brewing something or someone out of the corner of heaven. He is raising up someone. He will speak that job into existence. Let’s not believe the lie that God is incapable of doing something right this very moment. Because He is. God wants that person to be a part of our life more than we do. Or for us to walk into His plan more than we seek for it. God is still in the business of answering our prayers.

But behind all this, there is one door that will never close for us. And that is Jesus. Through Him we have already gained everything. Let us continue to look to Him as our only source of purpose, protection and lasting hope.

 

 

 

How to Encourage Single Men in Church

Photo credits: www.intentionalworkplace.com
Photo credits: http://www.intentionalworkplace.com

As dinner wound to a close, I thanked the young man sitting across me for the evening – for fetching me, choosing a restaurant and paying for dinner. By any other definition, that would have constituted a “date”. But neither of us wanted to get ahead of the other.

These days, it takes courage as big as slaying a lion for Christian men to ask Christian women out on a “date”, namely for what it would imply (Are they dating? Courting? Has he prayed about it? Has he sought counsel from his pastor? Has he asked permission from her parents?) A simple coffee date can be blown out of proportion by well-meaning brothers and sisters in church. If he hasn’t analyzed this enough, then perhaps he isn’t ready to date.

The repercussion of which, we are seeing less and less single men taking that step in intentionally getting to know a girl. He waddles in between group activities because that is the only “safe space” to get to know someone. Meanwhile, Christian women are left wondering, “Where have all the single eligible men gone? Why aren’t they asking us out?”

 

The Problem of Single Men

It’s a crappy time to be a man. Expectations are off-the-roof – they are to lead, serve, provide, protect and pursue. These God-given responsibilities have not changed in an ever-changing world – absentee fathers, extended “adultoscence”, proliferation of pornography and other sexual outlets.

No one knows how to be a man anymore. Fathers are not present to teach, to guide, to exemplify manhood. If they are, they have received weak examples from their fathers before them – short temper, lack of communication, not treating women right. Hence, this is what they pass on to the younger generation.

Lacking that guidance growing up, young men are left to wander on their own and meander. And what better path to take than that one which allows them to play. Video games, endless hobbies, new toys and technologies. Boys will be boys. With that missing link of a strong father and strong vision of what’s on the other side, growth spurts into adulthood are delayed. What’s the rush? I’m happy where I am and I’ve got game night with the boys later.

But the biggest challenge for young men nowadays is that which attacks their purity. It’s everywhere! Pornography is anything which intends to cause sexual excitement. It has seeped into the fabric of what we consider “normal” and has invaded our daily routines. Videos shared on social media, magazine covers of scantily-clad women displayed on eye-level of kids in the supermarket, movies with sex scenes played on long-distance bus rides. It would take a gouging-out-of-eyes and cutting-off-of-hands to take stock of one’s thoughts and not spiral into that darker realm of sin. What once can only be viewed and enjoyed within the context of marriage is now mass-produced and sensationalized for easy public access. Why buy the cow when you can drink the milk for free, right?

 

Single Men, You Are Not Alone

While it takes a village to raise a child, it may equally be true for a village to raise up young men. With the overwhelming odds stacking up against them, it takes real community effort to surround them with godly values and solid examples of God’s design for each one of us.

1.Ladies, Act like Ladies

Then [older women] can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (Titus 2: 4-5)

While this verse speaks to young married women, we can glean out the traits set out for all young women alike – to be loving, kind, self-controlled, pure, busy and subject to God-given authority.

We show love and kindness to our brothers in Christ when we engage them in real friendship. No need to shy away in fear our actions may be misconstrued. But let us not overstep our boundaries either. Let us guard one another’s heart by being pure with our words and actions, and not mislead them or cause them to stumble. Ladies, this includes dressing modestly. We want men to lead so let’s give them the space to lead. Let’s restrain ourselves from wanting to do things our way because we think it’s better or they’re too slow. Compliment them and thank them when they step up, even in the little things. Gentlemen will rise up when they see the gap and recognize the need in an accepting and nurturing environment.

2. Older Men Teach the Younger Men

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned. (Titus 2:6-8a)

Young men need to see the example of older men. The wisdom of men is seasoned through years of experience, failures and triumphs. Ideally, this is passed on at home from father to son. But spiritual fathers can be sought out to counsel and mentor. While it is tempting for us women to be the ones to teach and lead, it may not be our place. They need to see other men do it. They need other men to speak truth into their life and hold them accountable.

This is what community is all about. We do what we can to help one another. We are not the ones to do things for them, rather we set the stage that would allow them to perform their God-given roles. Let us continue praying for our single young men to rise up and be the men God wants them to be.

How to Activate Your Faith

From "Altared", Claire & Eli
From “Altared”, Claire & Eli

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17 (NIV)

It’s easy to fall into that category of not doing anything. Of spitting out that catchphrase “I’m waiting on God.” Or that category of doing something crazy and saying, “I’m not waiting on God anymore.”

Perhaps you’re in the midst of a major life circumstance. Simple ones are easy – daily routine tasks that require no more than five seconds for us to decide. But there are the big ones that leave you staring into space, baffled on your next steps. These usually concern our career (or lack of), or relationships (or lack of), or family, or health, or finances. We’re more careful with these life challenges (or we should be) as the consequences could have a lasting impact on our life.

So how do you strike that balance between waiting and doing something? Of moving along with God and not moving behind him or before him? How do you navigate your way around these circumstances, from inaction to action?

1. Wait on God and be still.

Yes, this would still be the first step. Let me clarify this as this seems like the opposite of moving into action. Waiting and being still often conjures up images of not doing anything at all. Of just sitting around and waiting for an outside force to drop something good on our lap. But we’re also reactive people with a mix of hazy emotions and easily malleable by all the noise of people, things and influences around us. All of these easily confuse us and pushes us to do things that on hindsight were already veering us on the wrong track.

Thus, we need the silence. We need to re-focus our sights on what’s important and what’s real. And it’s in the silence and calmness that we can reconnect with our Creator to know His purposes for us.

Waiting on God is not simply sitting around. It means we need to pick up our bibles and align our life with His word. The psalmist recorded, “Be still and know that I am God.” All around him were troubles, of the earth giving way, of oceans roaring and mountains trembling. That’s a pretty scary sight. I would be anxious inside too. So it starts by calming ourselves and acknowledging that we have a BIG God out there.

2. Let wisdom guide your action.

After relating to us the connection between Faith and Action, James continues in the next chapter to tell us about Two Kinds of Wisdom. Our actions will stem from our perspectives and understanding. The wrong kind of wisdom is from our natural human inclinations. It is selfish and earthly, and only makes us do crazy things that mess us up even further.

The right kind of wisdom comes from God. It is “pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”.

Ask yourself, will this new job or venture make me into a better person? Will it develop my skills and character? Will starting or continuing in this relationship be what’s best for the other person? Am I doing this to honor God, or only for myself or the money?

3. Just do something.

We may fall into the trap of not doing anything, paralyzed in fear that we may do the wrong thing. Or we may be faced with two good choices (good for you!) and we don’t know which one aligns with God. But we also need to know that God is sovereign and even at this very moment, He is leading us. So just go out and do something.

And while we may make the wrong choices (and we will make a few of them), know that He is a merciful and gracious God, who can redeem those circumstances and veer us on the right track. After all, it’s in making bad decisions that we learn how to make the right ones, don’t we?

So be still before God, seek His wisdom and just do something!

Remember, Faith always moves us into action.

“But someone may say, “You have faith, and I have actions.” Show me your faith without any actions, and I will show you my faith by my actions.” James 2:18 (ISV)

My No ‘Poo Experience (7 months and counting..)

shampoos

It’s not for the faint of heart.

Too dramatic, I know. But I have heard both success stories and horror stories of those who tried going off commercial shampoo. Some (like me) have lived to tell the tale (and I’m still experimenting with it). While others, well.. are regretfully living with their gummy hair. You get the picture.

So why even do it? Here’s why.

My background story

If you’ve followed my skin story (or if not, here are the links: here, here and here), you’ve heard me mention about HORMONE DISRUPTORS. These are chemicals that mess with our bodies and produce harmful effects. In my case, it gave me acne. Now, again, it was a complete overhaul for me – from diet, to skin care products used to lifestyle changes. So I can’t say whether it’s one or the other that helped me get rid of acne. It could be one. It could be the other. Or it could be all.

So why get so drastic? Now that I’ve eliminated 90% of my acne (still a few that pop out every now and then, and on my back. Grr..), why still continue it?

The Philosophy

I do this because I believe in it.

These are harmful chemicals that we use on our bodies. Five hundred years ago, our ancestors did not have access to shampoos, conditioners, serums, dyes, leave-in masks and so on. And they did just fine. Call me backwards but the simple life does appeal to me.

But enough about that. Here’s how it went on for me.

The Process

I first read a whole lot about it. Some suggest using baking soda (cleaning) + apple cider vinegar (conditioning). But some suggest against it. I read about the water only method and decided to go that route first.

Transition Phase

This is the scary part. This is the part where your hair will go through an identity crisis, not knowing whether it should continue producing oil or not. When we use traditional shampoo, we strip our hair of its natural oils so it produces even more. So while we wean off using shampoo, it continues to produce the same amount of oils, until it realizes, that hey, I no longer need to put out as much oil!

I slowly weaned off traditional shampoo, only shampooing every other day, then every 2 days until I could go on longer without it. Some days I would only wash with water. My hair was so oily and gummy, and thick and heavy (from all the oils) at this point. I would just tie it up. It just looked wet, which is good. But it didn’t smell good.

After about 2 weeks, I used shampoo bar and bought a boar bristle brush. Here’s what it looked like for me:

Day 1 – Wash with shampoo bar.

Day 2 – If I exercised and my hair’s all sweaty, wash with cold water only. Use boar bristle brush.

Day 3 – Wash with honey. Use boar bristle brush.

Day 4 – Wash with shampoo bar.

The problem was, my hair was still kind of oily on days 2 and 3 when I don’t use the shampoo bar. So I tried not washing it at all even if I get sweaty. And it worked out fine! It doesn’t oil anymore.

The Bad

I miss the shampoo scent! It doesn’t smell bad. It just doesn’t smell like anything at all. It just smells like hair. Also, there are days when my hair still feels gummy, like the residues were not completely washed off. Some days it can also feel flat.

Why it may not work for you

  1. It’s too much work. You don’t have the time or luxury to wait out for your hair to stop being oily.
  2. You can’t afford to be seen out with greasy gummy hair.
  3. You’ll miss working up a nice lather when you wash your hair.
  4. You’ll miss the sweet shampoo smell too much.

Yeah, I miss the scent too. That’s why I’m now trying to wash with castile soap and see if there’s any difference.

From my hair to yours.
From my hair to yours. Day 2 of no wash, using castile soap.

 

The experiment continues. Let me know your experience going no poo.

Jen x

Art Walks in Soho HongKong

If there is an off-the-beaten path in Hong Kong, this is it.

If you need a break in between shopping and eating your way through the city, then visit these streets for some Instagram-worthy photo ops.

hk-soho-art-walks
Start at Gage Street and end at Graham Street.

 

We begin at Gage Street, where you will find food market shops.

 

Continue on Gough Street and try the tasty ice cream sandwich at Elephant Ground.

img-20161108-wa0000

 

Take the stairs up to Hollywood Road, where you will find this cute cat graffiti.

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Walk straight on Hollywood Road and pause for some snazzy jazzy photo.

 

Finally, turn right to Graham Street for that colorful Hong Kong buildings wall.

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Enjoy your walks through the streets of Hong Kong!

Jen x

Impatient and Restless

http-www-pixteller-com-pdata-t-l-546469

It takes over in bouts and cycles. One minute, singleness is a season I’m thankful to be in – enjoying and embracing it like no other. But the next, I get restless. I think of the man I’m praying for and God’s perfect timing. Will he ever come? Is marriage a gift God will ever give to me?

I thought I had gained triumph and victory over this season. Being content and joyful in my present circumstances. And yet, random daily things reveal the impatience hiding in the inner recesses of my heart.

This is the yoke of singleness. 

It goes through peaks and valleys, through joys and struggles unique to it. Just like any other season. Just as in marriage. Just as in life.

 

Paul – The Single Man

Not even Paul was immune to it. In his letter to the church in Corinth, he talked of the hardships and sufferings he went through in preaching the Gospel. And this –

“Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin,and I do not inwardly burn?” (2 Corinthians 11:29)

This is as real as it gets for Paul in his single state. He struggled just as any of us do. He went through times of weakness, of loneliness, of burning inside.

But he pressed on.

Did he ever thought of giving up? Of leaving this for another life? Of coming home instead to a warm meal and soft bed, to a wife he can share his life with?

Perhaps. We don’t know.

But we do know that he continued to fight the good fight of faith. Perhaps he thought of these things, yes. But perhaps he also thought that none of these compared to the greatness of God’s mission for him. That what this life has to offer paled in comparison to seeing God’s glory in the midst of his suffering.

And just like Paul, I will fight the good fight of faith.

When my heart feels weak and restless, I will look to Jesus. It’s not a yoke of singleness or of marriage. There’s only one yoke that all of us share – the yoke of Christ. And He promised that His yoke is easy and His burden, light.

How can this be?

Because Jesus carries it for us. Let Him.

When God wants to give you MORE

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It amazes me how God takes His time, beautifully crafting replies and reframing our perspective according to what He really means.

As I’ve been drowning out heaven with prayers for a mate FOR YEARS, I thought that what He meant with “immeasurably more” is with the partner He’ll give me. That if I’m praying for ten things I want in a future husband, then He’ll give me 15 more! Now that’s immeasurably more, right?

But I’ve come to realize that maybe that’s not what He meant. He wants me to have an abundant life (John 10:10). He doesn’t want me to just have a husband. He wants me to have a full life.

Remember the story of the woman at the well? She has had five husbands and yet she was still not satisfied with her life. She said to Jesus: “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:15, NIV) Five husbands and still thirsty!

So perhaps it’s not just one part of the equation that He wants to give us. He wants to give us so much more.

 

How to experience God’s “immeasurably more”

1. Let God define what is “more”. 

“Now to HIM who is able to do..” It starts with God. And He is the one who is able to do this. I could be wrong in what I want. But God knows me better than I know myself. So let go of what “more” looks like to you. For me, “more” is getting a better husband than what’s on my list. But God redefined that for me by giving me much more – a full life.

A husband would only be one of many relationships that I will have (albeit the most important if there is). But life covers a wide spectrum of needs – social, spiritual, emotional, physical, occupational, intellectual, environmental (Seven Dimensions of Wellness). So what about the rest? And this is where God wanted to meet me first. He wants me to experience wellness – establish healthy relationships with family and friends (social), be at peace with where He has me and experience joy no matter what (emotional), enjoy work and pursue passions (occupational and intellectual), learn how to take care of my skin and body (physical), live an organic and natural lifestyle (environmental), and most importantly, build my relationship with My Creator (spiritual).

Whatever “more” looks like to you, just let it go. Let God be the one to define it for you.

2. Know God as a Loving Father

Verse 20 is preceded with Verses 18 and 19: “(that you) may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

What is a loving father like? Fathers who care deeply about their children will not withhold good things from them. He will provide for all their needs and much more – toys, chocolates, birthday parties. He will not do this reluctantly but it would be his joy to give these things to his child.

We need to know that kind of love – how wide and long and high and deep, and which surpasses knowledge. That is how much He loves us. To see Him as a stingy, reluctant, unloving Father would limit who He is and what He can do in our lives.

Your earthly father may be different. Don’t confuse the two.

3. Start living the full life

“..According to his power that is at work within us.” As children of God, His very Spirit is at work within us. That full life began the moment we received Christ into our lives. So what does a full life look like to you? Don’t just look at it from one angle. Remember the Seven Dimensions of Wellness. Consider your relationships, work, spiritual life. All these factor in how well you live your life. You have a role to play. That immeasurably more is within your grasp as you recognize that power at work within you.

I don’t just sit around waiting for God to drop a husband on my lap. I live my life the best way I know how. I work on my relationships, I meet new people, I try out new things. I continue to seek God, know more of His Love for me and tell other people about it. I enjoy life and this is immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine.

Had He given me a husband first then I may not be able to appreciate this gift – a gnawing feeling may seethe deep within me as other aspects of my life are not satisfied. But He wants to answer that prayer, even ones that I have not uttered to Him. And so He is making sure that I am whole and complete first, not lacking in anything – and that is the fullness of life.

I don’t know what you’re praying for. But when we dictate too much what we want, we limit God. He wants to give us more than what we ask for, but first, we have to let Him. Let go of any expectations you may have on how God will answer you. Only then will you be able to recognize how God is already giving you that immeasurably more in this life. Let Him.