Encouragement, resources, and reality checks
as you press into your season of healing.
If you’re reading this, that likely means you are in a heart space of exploring what it looks like to pursue a season of intentional singleness. In this season, you are going to experience the good, the bad and the ugly of some of your deepest wounds. Ultimately, though, you will find life changing joy and growing intimacy that inevitably comes from trusting Jesus with your life and your healing. This season will set a strong standard for the rest of your life for all of your future endeavors, relationships, self respect, and beyond all, your faith journey.
What a wonderful, exciting place to be.
If I may, the fact you are here reveals one of the greatest characteristics of all: you seek Jesus’ face above all else. Take heart in that. Your desire to know Jesus despite the pain of healing will be honored by Him. Psalm 37:4 encourages us, “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” If you seek His face, He will reveal it. If you want a heart after Him, He will train you to find joy in Him alone; I am sure of it.
So - singleness.
A word that once brought intermittent pangs of fear, now brings portion to a deep sense of joy and peace. The intention and prayer of this article (specifically, part II) is that you might by the end of it reach a place where you have not only hope for this journey, but determination.
So breathe in; let’s press in. Time to go deep.
A Painted Picture: What Guys > God Looks Like
As we begin to look to romance instead of Jesus for self worth, our hearts become fickle, even more than ever before. With every cryptic text, with every place a man or woman falls short, with every expectation left unmet... Our hearts immediately question, “What is wrong with me?” ... “What’s wrong with them?”
To both questions, I must propose the answer: nothing and everything.
“What is wrong with me?!”
Nothing is wrong with you. You are a daughter of Eve, His final creation! God claimed Himself that it is not good for Adam to be alone, and you were the solution (Genesis 2:18)! You are beloved, beautiful beyond belief. Yes, you are funny. Yes, you are brave and strong and able. Yes, you are precisely what a man would be blessed to call his cherished love. And most of all, you are adored most ardently by God.
And yet, everything is wrong with you. You are a daughter of Eve, constantly doubting the goodness the Lord has in store for you. A sinful heart resides in your chest. You are jealous, constantly comparing to others’ happiness. You live in a world where darkness is waiting to jump behind every corner. Your pride is paramount, your love is fleeting and your decisions are, more often than not, ruled by selfish intent.
“What is wrong with him?!”
Nothing is wrong with him. He is a son of Adam, created in the image of God. He is strong and bold, yet sensitive. He is handsome, brave, humorous, and kind. He is stirred by beauty and holds his reputation and head high. He is ambitious, driven and has a heart to lead, own responsibilities and provide for others. He has depth and charisma and joy.
And yet, everything is wrong with him. He is a son of Adam, struggling with passivity and lust. His heart is distracted and his thoughts, untrustworthy. He is constantly fighting for reputation out of selfish ambition rather than glory to God. He is held to impossible expectations and lives more in fear than he’d like to ever admit. He has wounds he has been told as early as he can remember to cover up. He struggles to admit his true emotions to anyone, but especially to a beautiful, stirring woman like you.
We are beautiful human beings - God’s greatest creation! - yes. But like everything, we all have our cracks.
I hope you picked up immediately that the beautiful heart and battle of sin behind both male and female, while different in how they reveal themselves, are rooted similarly.
Lack of trust.
Childhood wounds seeping out.
Desperation to be fully known and loved.
Crippling fear of being fully known and loved.
And even still - after meditating on all of these truths of human nature that we would willingly acknowledge and agree upon when our minds are right and well - how is it that we all too often still live in expectation and hope for a partner to fulfill our deepest soul desires?
It is something I often wish I could go back and tell my teenage self...
We will fail.
We are imperfect.
We will be hurt by others.
We have things to learn from others.
We struggle to be as strong as we wish.
We desperately need grace - both from God and those around us.
God will not fail you.
God created us in His perfect image.
God will never allow struggle without providing the strength to get through.
God exhorts, condones, and encourages the sanctification found in marriage.
God uses strength of a woman to call upon the gifts of a man.
God is in the process of renewing all things, men and women alike.
And so, we find ourselves once again at a crossroads. Where is the balance between passionately desiring to love and receive love from a broken being, and yet not looking to such a person for a sense of fullness nor identity?
The answer, to truly any question that seeks clarification to our identity, is Christ alone.
Light in the Cracks.
First of all, this is the whole reason we are in this journey in the first place. We desire fullness of joy from Jesus alone. Be still knowing that through this process, you will taste and see that this is possible.
It is here that we finally arrive at the illustration of an overflowing cup. You've heard this before, perhaps: the imagery of a cup being filled by an endless source of flowing water, so much so that it begins to pour out.
If you haven't, this is typically a metaphor often used to describe what our lives as Jesus followers begin to look like as we turn to God, rather than other humans or external circumstances to fulfill us - both in our deepest desires as well as our day to day joy.
When a cup is placed under a steady faucet and trusted source of water, it is only a matter of time before it begins to overflow. The water has no other choice but to follow the laws of gravity, as it finds itself pooling over the top brim and pouring into its surroundings.
If you have been walking with Christ for some time and are tempted to simply read past this portion of the "cup metaphor" because it seems repetitive to what you've heard in the past, I challenge you to really sit and contemplate this. I know... I confess it even feels somewhat lackluster to write about as I've heard this metaphor since I was 14 years old. But I always say that cliches are cliches for a reason... This is an inexplicably powerful metaphor.
Consider, when we turn to the true Source of water and receive fullness of joy from Jesus alone, who is - by definition - an endless supply of love and grace, we literally have no other choice but to follow the laws of nature and pour out this same love and grace to others.
It is not something I control.
It is not something you control.
It is written in the DNA of our beings....
That by spending time with Jesus, being in His Word, romanticizing Him, allowing Him to romanticize us, worshipping Him... We are filled with all things Christ represents: love, joy, patience, kindness, gratitude... and we begin to pour out these same things for others.
Consider this somewhat morbid, yet less cliche example:
When someone has been around cigarettes or smoking cigarettes and then proceeds to walk into a room shortly after, it does not take long for others to pinpoint which person has recently smoked. Because of his actions or the places he's chosen to spend time, he now carries that aroma as he walks throughout his day. Furthermore, his aroma has an effect on others around him.
The same is true for spending time with Jesus.
You can tell immediately when someone has spent time with Jesus. You can smell it on him, see it in his eyes, and feel it in the way he speaks to others, the way he speaks to you, and the patience in his actions. It's one of the first things you notice about him.
The more time you spend with Jesus - in His word, in worship, in prayer - the more your cup overflows,. You will begin to look like Him, carry His aroma, sort of speak. Inevitably, it will become natural to begin removing expectations on others or on romance to fill these empty or cobwebbed places in your heart.
Your cup will be much too full to even remember the places you once thought were empty.
Encouragement for You.
To leave you with a piece of encouragement as we step deeply into this season, I want to share this story:
A mere nine days following my decision to pursue an undefined season of self proclaimed and intentional singleness, a woman from my school received a vision over me at church.
I was holding the most bizarre tension-filled heart posture I had ever experienced.
On the one hand, I was the most peaceful I had been in years. I felt unhurried - no doubt a product of my decision to avoid setting a timeframe on the season. I knew I would not remain in the moment if I was merely X’ing out the days on a calendar.
Rather, I’d have to be attuned to the conviction of the Spirit of God in order to step out of it. Calm flooded my heart, as I rested in the fact that I’d be safe in the Father’s arms for the next however-many-odd months or years. I'd have freedom to heal.
On the other, I was terrified. Though I was eager for Jesus to show up, I was scared God would make this undefined season 10 years long. I was gut wrenched at the thought that He would call me to live a lifetime of celibacy with Him. “Sign me up for the nunnery and just rip the bandaid off already, God!”
I was even more terrified that He would make it only 6 months long - or that in a mere two weeks in, I’d meet my husband and that it would cause me to constantly look back and doubt if I had spent long enough sitting in this space.
I held onto the tension tightly - peace and chaos swarming around me. It was all I had as reality as I stepped into the unknown.
The woman in my church came to me after service, hope in her eyes, as she shared the imagery the Lord had given her that morning.
“I saw you on a hillside, clothed in white. You were the most beautiful bride.”
I scoffed under my breath (though probably not as quietly as I’d hoped) as my cynical mind thought, “Clearly God has no idea what was going on in my life… A bride? Far from it. Are you mocking me, Jesus?”
She continued, “The Lord told me that He wants to be your first love. He wants all of you.”
My heart stopped.
“Soon after this,” she pressed on, unaware of much her words had grasped my heart, “the Lord revealed an image of a dove carrying an olive branch. A symbol of purity and peace. And the time you’re in will be made known to come to an end when you feel peace, or perhaps see an image of a dove carrying an olive branch. Like Noah’s symbol that it was time to step out on dry ground, you will know when to step out when you are at peace. I don’t know when it will be, but it will be good.”
She smiled, as I sat in disarray.
“Does this resonate to you at all?”
I giggled at the question.
“Only a little bit,” I tried to joke as my eyes welled up.
A wave of calm came over my heart. He saw me. He saw I chose Him and wanted healing, and He was honoring that.
You are His first love. He won’t stop chasing you until He is yours. Let Him romance you this week. Let Him fill your cup.
What I request you to begin to ponder this week is what it would truly look like for God to romance you.
Begin with: what does Jesus look like? Is He kind? Do you believe He’s mad at you? (He’s not.)
What does romance from God taste like? Smell like? Sound like? What would it look like to you to fall in love with Jesus?
See what comes up.
Now go deeper.
What is romance to you?
Is that how the Bible says it is?
Do you trust it? Why or why not?
Do you believe you are worthy to be romanced by Him?
What has love looked like to you in the past? Was it true or a lie?
Why are you so afraid of singleness? Dive deep. Where is this rooted?
Do you believe that Jesus has the capacity to love you in the way you desire?
How do you find yourself reacting to love that you see and experience around you?
You know that Jesus knows everything about you already. But have you willing told Him everything? Why or why not?
What’s your vision for your heart? Where do you want to be in a year? What do you want your heart to look like?
What wounds do you carry and operate out of daily without even realizing? Why?
How does all of the above affect how you allow Jesus to love you, and how you love Him?
Ask all of these questions, and see what comes up in your mind. Talk about it with your sisters. Sit criss-cross-apple-sauce, palms up on the floor of your bedroom, and speak these questions into the air. Jesus, and His abounding grace, will surface and speak louder than you probably want to hear. It won’t be easy, but it will be good.
Only because I’m ALL about making a strong, practical game plan, I thought it would give you the most noteworthy resources I used in my journey that brought about sweet conviction and covered me in Biblical truths as I rewrote pathways. Also included are practical summaries of each. Do not be overwhelmed by this list. Remember, day by day, He will make you new. There is no rush. There is no timeline. Consider it all as gain to know Him more every day.
The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
This book explores the ins and outs of the Enneagram Personality Types (1-9). It is a relatively short read, witty and quick in its narrative, with very practical, to-the-point ways of understanding how to better approach all personality types. I believe it is a crucial piece in a healing process, as it sheds light on the motives behind the action of every personality type and explores the deep childhood wounds (as well as the grace-filled “healing messages”) that every person carries. This resource will inevitably conjure up uncomfortableness and you explore deep wounds and begin to challenge the natural way in which you operate. It will also bring humility as you sift through your past memories and realize the states of brokenness you constantly operate through. Most of all, it will equip you to better understand, have empathy toward, and love those around you or those in your past who you are still working to forgive (including yourself).
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Though overwhelming in its size, you’ll be surprised how quickly you will finish this novel. In her historical fiction phenomenon, author Francine Rivers depicts in beautiful detail a modern day version of the story of Hosea: a man who is commanded by God to marry a prostitute. This book teaches and answers the heart cries to any woman struggling with the gut wrenching questions: “how would any man ever love me? Am I too dirty for marriage? Can God really heal the broken? Will He really forgive my past?”
I offer this novel to any woman or man who has even once asked even a single question of the above, but especially women and men who have been victims or perpetrators of young sexual experiences and/or intercourse, rape, assault, abusive relationships of any kind, and/or human trafficking.
A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers
Francine Rivers’ A Lineage of Grace is broken down by five short story novellas, each illustrating a historical fiction take on five Biblical women who reside in the lineage of Jesus Christ and changed history through their faith, bravery, and unlikely deep rooted trust in God. The five novellas cover the stories of: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary (Jesus’ mother). I believe these stories are incredibly healing for all women - both for those who are natural leaders as well as those who are looking for Biblical clarity in establishing their dignity and strength as a woman of God.
These stories bring light to the truth many of us are already aware of: that all humans are broken and nonetheless, Jesus still chooses to work through and bring redemption to even the messiest of stories. Through these novellas, we get a closer glimpse at just how “dirty” or “broken” the past of faith filled women are - and yet - how sweet their relationship with Jesus regardless of it all. I would recommend this collection of books to any woman or man, but especially those who wrestle with questions such as, “What is my role as a woman of the church? How can I respect women of the Church more as a male leader? What is submission and what does that look like? How does the female mind work? Can God really use someone like me? How broken is too broken? Why would God choose me? How can I steward my gifts well as a member of the Church, despite my past?”
Rivers, in her absolute glory, also includes guided questions at the end of every novella for readers to utilize for the purpose of deeper understanding and soul-searching during the reading process. Take time with this one; it’s much too sweet to be rushed.
Ekko Church, Los Angeles: Pastor Bryan Kim
While this list may seem lengthy, the fruit, conviction and comfort that it will yield is tenfold. Pastor Bryan Kim is witty, hilarious and straight to the point about what it looks like to pursue a joyful singleness and a sanctifying marriage. He helps bring conviction while poking fun at how difficult it can be to walk in the way the Lord calls us. I promise, you will have a few LOL moments while listening to these sermons. Most of all though, Kim breaks down unhealthy expectations in dating relationships and marriage, and reminds us that relationships bring not only a deep satisfaction, but more often than not, a deep and sometimes painful process of sanctification. This humbling mini series contains the hard truth we don’t like to admit that we need to hear, but still holds a comforting lightness and laughter that reminds us to mind joy in the process and make light of your failures along the way towards becoming more like Him.
Ephesians Relationship Series https://ekkochurch.com/blog/category/sermons/ephesians/page/2
“Leave and Cleave”
“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”
“Am I What You’re Looking For?”
“We’re Dating, Now What? Part I”
“We’re Dating, Now What? Part II”
“Becoming and Staying One, Part I”
“Becoming and Staying One, Part II”
“Becoming and Staying One, Part III”
Watermark Community Church’s Young Adult Ministry: “The Porch”
The Porch is Watermark Church’s young adult ministry located in the heart of Dallas, TX. Every single sermon from this ministry is created and tailored specifically for young adults of today’s generation. Pastors “JP” Pokluda (now at Harris Creek Baptist in Waco, TX) and David Marvin explore a wide variety of topics many churches wouldn’t dare speak on when at the pulpit - all through a Biblical, grace filled, and extremely practical lens. These topics include: pornography, Biblical sex, dating, courtship, engagement, marriage, community groups and accountability, Instagram/social media, the LGBTQ community, Sabbath, modesty, gossip, and more. Don’t listen to these unless you want your world to be rocked and know more about what Scripture says in regards to living counter culturally.
Which podcasts, you ask? Literally all of them. I’m not kidding. But especially the most recent, “Rated R for Dating” Series. For quick truths, listen to “Views” by the Porch as well. You can find these resources on the podcast app on your smartphone.
Texas A&M’s “Breakaway Ministries”
Located in College Station, TX, this ministry mirrors The Porch as it focuses on bringing Biblical truths and light to college campuses, namely at Texas A&M. Pastor Ben Stuart is humble as he is in constant confession to his congregation of the ways he fell short in his past and continues to still today. He speaks with encouragement and truth over college-aged listeners to step into God’s original design for dating and marriage, and the practical steps to get there. Don’t be surprised when you learn more about yourself and how you want to alter this season of singleness in the process.
“It’s Complicated” Series.
“Why Does Marriage Exist?”
“Part 2: How to Date”
“Part 4: Biblical Sex”
“Part 5: Fighting Well”
“Part 6: Defending Against Divorce”
“Part 7: How to know when you’ve found love”
“Part 8: Becoming the man/woman you want to be”
All others that have to do with Biblical love, marriage, sex, and singleness (they will be made clear in the title). You can find this resource on the podcast app on your smartphone.