Check, Mate?

 

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Lately, I’ve had a lot on my mind, and my plate. As a teacher, a lot of times people approach me saying, “What are you doing with all your time off this summer?” And I don’t have a clue where to begin. Don’t get me wrong, nowhere in the explanation of things I do is there a complaint, because they’re all choices. BUT there’s a lot that come with them…. last week alone I taught 30 swim lessons. 30 hours in a chlorine tank… my poor hair. I returned two weeks ago from an absolutely fantastic family vacation. –Who knew the state of Oregon had so much to offer??– My best friend is coming home from Sweden and I could not be more pumped! My sweet friends here have a lot going on that I love supporting them in. For example, meeting Shelby at one of several fun locations for our 6am runs every day of the week that we are both in town to join in her preparation for college soccer. I think I’ve just about covered the tip of the iceberg, and I’d say you get the gist of my hectic nature.

But with all of this crazy, it has helped me to appreciate my devotional time that much more. My time alone, with God & my bible, for a break from the world.

When I have time to sit and be honest with myself, I begin to realize that throughout these events, while being so surrounded, I can sometimes find myself feeling quite lonely. Looking up on family vacation, surrounded by my married parents, aunts, and uncles. Seeing couples bringing in their adorable children to swim lessons or working out next to me in the fitness center. Wedding season…. yeah.

I’ve always had conflict reflecting on all of the life I’ve lived through, am still living, and have to live. Part of me loves my busy; With all of the pieces the Lord has provided to give me such a full life. Yet some days, when I haven’t taken the time to refill my cup, I have found a piece of myself feeling empty.

For the longest time I believed that missing piece was a significant other. A person in my life to share all of my days with. I would often find my eyes wondering to left hands when I would meet new people or be in new places, because women or men with a ring on their left hand felt like a whole world away.

Think about it…

“She is my whole world.”

“He completes me.”

“I can’t imagine going through this life without them.”

Doesn’t that seem to fill the missing? Make the bad better? Make even the happy happier?

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I run into people I haven’t seen in a while from time to time and they ask the generic, How are you? Where are you working now? Both of which I can answer… I’ve got plenty of life to talk about over here.

But then, many people ask about relationships.

It always gets interesting when people find out you’re 26 years old, and single.

Facial expressions at this point are a little hard to read. A nice mix of, “Okay, what is wrong with you”, and a little bit of, “That’s sad.”

But almost always I am “comforted” with,

“Oh, I’m sure the right one is about to come along before you know it”,

“God’s preparing an extra special one for you”,

or something encouraging to assure me that the right guy will pop into my life any day now.

I use to cling to this. I use to take their encouragement to heart and believe, “You know, they’re probably right, I’ll find that person.”

But what if I don’t.

What if God’s plan for me is a life that was meant to be lived in singleness; maybe just this chapter, or maybe every chapter. What if throughout the path I have taken, I started to believe that my desires equated my destiny through believing those desires had to come true… maybe even with reference of verses such as Psalm 37:4,

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Clearly, that just told me God couldn’t give me such a strong desire for something that was not meant to be? But then… did God give alcoholics the desire for alcohol? Did he give drug addicts the desire for drugs? Did he give thieves the desire to steal? Murderers the desire to kill? Toward the end of those questions my answers come out a little quicker… No, sin did that, not God.


Desires do not equal Destiny


 

In looking at the desires of our heart, that could be anything! I desire a puppy, I desire a BLT Sandwich, I desire a lawn that doesn’t require mowing. That doesn’t mean God is going to make those things appear in my life today, tomorrow, or ever.  Following verse 4, In Psalm 37:5 we read,

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”

This shows how the context of a verse is so valuable. The world we live in is far from perfect. Spiritual warfare is a real thing and worldly desires are plenty. Psalm 37:5 is telling us that when we focus our lives on the pursuit of Christ, the desires of our lives will be met, because our desires will be those of Christ, not our earthly home.

In Matthew 16:24-25 we read, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

I want to pursue Christ in the way that so many of us pursue relationships, a night out, or money. I want to die to my own agenda, my own desires, and the things of the world which I have believed were needs, in order to follow him and see the true fulfillment of my life.

All of us have fleshly desires. This could include alcohol, drugs, sex, gluttony, violence, greed… (context is important here, yet again).  Our world often supports these desires. I couldn’t even begin to count the times I have read, “If it makes you happy, do it.” on social media within the past week even… but you see, when we exist of the world, rather than with a focus on Christ, our desires may sway like the branches of a tree in the wind, and often its one of those skinny branches that’s flying all over the place. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

— Do me a favor y’all? —

Maybe the next time you are enjoying a conversation with a single individual, focus on what they are doing, their passions, their kingdom work. Support them as an individual who is valuable to the church even in their singleness. They may be single for a day, a month, or forever. They may desire a relationship, they may not. But they need you. They need you to be encouraging of what they already are, rather than encouragement of things that “may” come. Although singleness is my challenge/perspective, keep in mind this could be relevant far beyond just singles. We all have a personal battle, and every one of us needs love and support. Be that for others!

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 There’s a chess reference coming your way, so hopefully you’re a chess lover like me, as nerdy as that is.

Singles, or addicts, or people who just really really like cake, if you haven’t already, hand your battle to God. Pray for clarity. Pray that He would help you to pursue Him, rather than what your heart is currently longing for. Pursue serving others, spreading joy, and recognizing all of the opportunities you’re given in this chapter of your life to show as many people as you can the love of Jesus. When it comes to that desire you want, you can not continue to fill your soul with expectations that will crush you when they don’t work out. Sometimes when people, events, or instances pass through they’re meant to show us just how quickly things can change, how fast they can fall in to place, and the reassurance that we shouldn’t dwell when we seem to be in check. There’s clearly a way of recovery, you are NOT in check mate.

A queen can save the king , but so can the bishop (family), knight (friends), rook (coworkers, church family), or pawn (acquaintances, old friends, etc). And even sometimes, the King can save himself!

Surround yourself with people, activities, and things that remind you that your pursuit in life should not be focused fully on a career, a relationship, your next meal or drink… your pursuit should be after Jesus.

You are not alone.

 


Stop continually looking left and right for answers when all you have to do is look up.


 

Each day when I wake up, I make a choice. What am I filling my cup with today? Am I filling it with biblical encouragement, prayerful servanthood, and passion for my pursuit? Or instead, am I allowing others to fill my cup? Resulting in it holding loneliness, inadequacy, or maybe some shame, bitterness, or resentment.

I choose joy. 

With the occasional side of moodiness, because well, life.

But, JOY. That’s what I want, and so should you.

So go fill up your cup and start this beautiful day God has blessed us with.

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