Adventure in My I.D.

This Saturday I spent 14 hours with over 200 middle school and high school girls for an event showing and teaching the girls all about where their value comes from and that they are important in a world that wants them to believe they are not. That they are loved. It’s an amazing thing.

First a crazy story.

For weeks leading up to What’s Your I.D.2012 women in the community were praying for and writing letters to the girls that would be there that Saturday. I volunteered late during the week of the event. The opportunity to fill in gaps where I was needed was calling to me. I arrived Saturday morning and was greeted with the opportunity to write letters to girls who had registered last minute or were registering as they arrived.

I prayed for the girls and began writing my letters. Many of my letters were reminding the girls not just that they are loved by God and the women around them, but that they are valuable. They aren’t just valuable; they are being used by God at this very moment. He is constantly shaping them. I went about my day, and filled in where I was needed.

Before dinner that night Leah shared the Gospel with the girls. She had asked anyone who felt comfortable praying with the girls who came forward after the Gospel was shared to go into the next room and pray with them. I went to the room as the girls left and was met with six girls. They shared their names with me, but were not very talkative. One girl only held up her name tag. I realized, as they told me their names, that these girls were almost all of the girls I wrote letters to that morning. I prayed over them knowing that every part of that moment was orchestrated by God’s plan.

At the after party the girls were singing karaoke. I learned at the party the girl who had only held up her name tag had not said anything to anyone all day. So when her name was called for karaoke I squealed! I couldn’t believe it. She went up to the stage and sang her song. Her voice could hardly be heard, and then it was almost lost entirely. Because moments later about 25 girls rushed the stage. They stood in front of the stage singing and screaming along with this shy little lamb. I saw the girl begin to smile for the first time all day as these girls showed her more support than they showed anyone else as she made such a bold move.

It was all just so wacky. These girls being built into and up by so many women in the community.

But then came the bad parts for me.

While I spent 14 hours with over 200 middle school and high school girls, I also spent the day with an unknown number of women. Women with opinions. Women who say one thing to the girls and another to each other. Women who, well…

On several occasions I found myself surrounded by conversations with different groups of women. On more than one of those occasions these groups of women began discussing a woman’s role. And then it happened. As it always happens. Just like the pastor who at a wedding said if you aren’t married you aren’t fulfilling God’s will for your life these women said that if you aren’t serving a man and tending to his needs you aren’t fulfilling God’s plan for all women. And not just in general if you aren’t serving. You have to be serving a man. And not just humanity. A woman’s role is to serve one man.

I can’t get over this mentality. One, because I know a good number of amazing women who have never married, and many who never will and are constantly serving God. One might say they’re doing more for the Kingdom because they aren’t married. They’re all very dedicated women. Dedicated to any cause. And while I’m sure they aren’t opposed to marriage, I know that at least a few of them would admit that would serve as a distraction from Kingdom thinking rather than a benefit to Kingdom thinking. Some of the most amazing women I’ve ever known have never been married. And they aren’t just amazing because of that or because they’re strong or any of that. It’s because they’re focus on Christ is so strong. They truly find their value in Christ.

The second reason I can’t get over it is because it hurts me. It made me physically ill a few times Saturday. Because THAT is the sort of thing Satan creeps into my mind. Many, if not most, of my friends are married, and often being around them makes me feel like a failure. Not because of them, but because of the lies we’re fed. And in steps Satan with words from other women. Women who are working toward the same end I am. Women telling me that not being married and serving a man means I’m not doing God’s work. And my brain screams they’re wrong, and there’s Satan whispering in the gasps for breath that they’re right. And I hear him. And it starts to sink in. And I get sick.

If you aren’t taking care of children, and if you don’t have children of your own to take care of for your man you aren’t fulfilling God’s will for your life. How is it all of these other people seem to know exactly what God’s will for my life is? How could they conceivably know that? I think what they mean to say is, “This is where I find my fulfillment, and I have to believe that if it’s true for me it’s true for everyone.” And I feel shame because now I’m two steps behind God’s will for my life.

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Adventure in shifting focus and the Christian relationship

I spent 17 years in Christian schools. Kindergarten through college. I would estimate that of the 58 other people with whom I graduated high school that 60 percent of them are now married. Another 20 percent would consider themselves to be in committed relationships. The other 20 percent, the rest of us, a generous guess with 20 percent, we remain unattached.

Personally, I’m glad. Huntington University, as Dr. Ruthi has mentioned, cultivated in the campus this need to be in a relationship. This need to be married. It continues to cultivate that idea. I recently attended a wedding, two HU grads. The pastor said in his little sermon that if you aren’t married you aren’t fulfilling God’s will for your life. Well…damn.

Well, it’s all really started me thinking. Because until quite recently I did not have the typical onslaught of lady hormones most women have. It turns out that annoying thing in women that makes them boy crazy and absolute idiots about wanting to be in a relationship, that actually has a lot to do with chemistry. This has put in me that basic need, something I previously scoffed at. I’d watch my friends go nuts over some guy or any guy for that matter and just think, “Ladies, you’re just…this is why people think we’re dumb.”

I’d see kids my age, at the time 18 or even 22, getting married. As an 18-year-old I thought Wicked was the crowning glory of musical theatre. Relient K was the best of all music. Scarves counted as winter coats. Steak n Shake was a treat. I thought I never wanted to get married. I thought children were annoying. And I thought God was calling me to theatre.

As it turns out the world of musical theatre is not only for anyone, but me, but it also offers a bounty of shows outside of Wicked. (Thank God for Jason Robert Brown) Relient K, while awesome, is not the end all be all of music. Scarves, ok that one might still be true. Steak n Shake is midnight food only. I some day might actually like to get married, and some kids aren’t so bad.

My point is I didn’t know myself well enough to think I could know the kind of man I should marry. I hardly know myself now.

In discussions with Dr. Ruthi, a few current HU girls and an old friend from the university I think our biggest failing in this pursuit for relationships is our selfishness. Not in the relationship, but in wanting one. We pursue them and desire them for our own benefit.

I’m lonely. A boyfriend would be nice to have. I’m sad. A boyfriend would be nice to have. But we aren’t called into relationships exclusively for our benefit. Yes, God created Eve so Adam would not be alone, to make life easier. But it remains that we were created for God’s glory. The instant our focus becomes anything other than God things start to go to hell.

We get shaken by our loneliness and turn to people rather than the one we know is always there. Yes, people are physical. We can receive a hug and know they’re there. But perhaps that’s where we lose it. That’s where it becomes about us. Is a relationship benefiting the Kingdom? That’s the question I have to ask myself. How can we as a team better serve the Kingdom than we could apart?

My heart breaks as I watch these girls being hurt by gossip and their own stupidity. If you kiss a boy people will talk, especially if you aren’t in a committed relationship with him. Especially, if you’re on a small Christian campus. Kiss several boys, you just became the town trollop. And people are going to talk about it, because that’s what we do. It’s easier to hurt other people than to look at our own failings. BUT it’s also easier to be hurt by people than look at our own failings. Because, as it turns out, gossip can often be so hurtful because it has a tendency to be true. If people are using choice words like “whore” to describe you, maybe stop making out with every boy who’s nice to you. Shift your focus, because you’re using that boy aren’t you? To fulfill a need or desire in your.

We let our relationships define us. We all do. Don’t let the overwhelming desire for a relationship define you. In I Corinthians 7 Paul suggests it’s better to be single if you can handle yourself. However, if your sexual need becomes so great that you can’t control yourself then, yeah, get married.

Which brings up another interesting point. Because that then implies that a sexual drive becomes a higher focus and priority than the Kingdom. One would think if you can redirect your focus then it would be less of an issue. And yet that is the basis on which many young Christian marriages are formed. “We want to have sex. We currently love each other. We will be married.” I hold that there is still a lack of focus. And it’s sad, because it results in a lot of broken marriages for all the wrong reasons. (for those counting there aren’t that many biblically sound reasons for divorce) Because that focus is still not quite centered.

“Jesus. Yes, important. But look at my dress!” But how do you tell someone they’re getting married too young, to the wrong person or for the wrong reasons?

It raises another interesting question that infuriates a lot of people. Why date if you have no intention of marrying in the future at all or that particular person? “I’m bored.” “He’s convenient.” “He makes me feel good about myself.” Well, aren’t you really just hurting a relationship? Couldn’t you do more for the Kingdom as friends? So that later when that relationship falls apart, you aren’t just like the rest of the world. And you haven’t hurt each other and you have made for a hard situation in social circumstances. Think of how much better we could do carrying each other in community as brothers and sisters instead of boyfriend and girlfriend for the sake of it.