So… this happened.
Last week I spoke to about 200 women (#stress) at a summer women’s Bible study based on Psalm 51. I got a few requests to post my talk on the ol’ blog, so here it is! As difficult as it is to post (so much vulnerability, so many feels), I’m praying it encourages and blesses you!
What was going through your mind the last 30 seconds? Did you think or assume something was wrong? Did that conclusion lead to action? Maybe you looked around at those sitting near you or to the back for someone frantically rushing to the stage, realizing they had missed their cue? Remember those feelings, the conclusions you came to based on what you did, or didn’t, see.
The Lord is so funny y’all. I’ve known since agreeing to speak tonight that the Lord wanted me to share with you my struggle in singleness, how He is continually working out restoration in me and continually bringing me back to joy and hope found only in him, not in my circumstances. What I didn’t know was that a week before I would stand on this stage, I would go on three dates, with three different guys. I can’t even make that up. Let me let you in on how much I date. I don’t. Before last week, I considered one date per year, #winning. Not that the desire isn’t there, believe me it is, but the process, the pressure, the lack of single men that love Jesus… Let me tell you, it is stressful. So stressful that I wore the same outfit on all three dates. That’s the truth. The sheer thought of picking out multiple outfits was too much. But I must say, my hope for an end to my singleness came alive, especially on date number two. I got in the car to meet this guy and God Bless The Broken Road was playing on the radio… so that clearly means something. However, I stand before you fighting for joy in the midst of days that are hopeful, and days I’m pressed with doubt and disappointment – sometimes contingent on a single text message. So silly.
Easter marks two years. Two years ago, I met this guy. Let me quickly assure you, I loathe this guy. He is a terrible human being. Absolutely awful. He will hurt you and he will make you cry. And he will do it while running his mouth in a way that makes you want to punch him in the throat.
Oh who am I kidding… He’s one of my favorite people on the planet.
He says words like “huge-er-er” (yeah, not a word) and, “Hey Erica, where you stay at?” (Translation: “Where do you live?” Don’t worry, I had to ask too.) But don’t be fooled y’all, he is brilliant. Maybe not grammatically, but he is a brilliant trainer. He is evidence that God intends for our talents and our passions to collide, that God has gifted each of us uniquely and wants us to do that which He has called us to with great excellence. So this trainer, this fitness FREAK OF NATURE, this friend that I love to hate, he does what he does, what God has so clearly called and gifted him to do, and he does it well. In that sense, I am an admirer more that he probably knows.
Two years ago I attended a class he taught with much hesitation and even more self-doubt. Tonight, I write having finished one of his workouts that involved bleachers and 40s and crunches and yards-on-yards-on-yards of lunges. I am better and stronger than I ever thought I could be and, you might not be able to tell from the outside, but I’m a different girl than the one that walked into that class two years ago. And for that, I am grateful.
Here’s my point. Tonight, I had an epiphany. I realized, as I ran down a set of bleachers for what felt like the thousandth time, how deceived we are.
To a dear friend (and to countless others who need a spot holder).
First, let me paint this picture. Two singles girls, mid-twenties (just go with it), one dressed impeccably trendy with some mild hipster undertones, the other fresh from a workout in leggings and nikes (I’ll let you guess which was me), sitting at the edge of a bar at a reputable Texas steakhouse, eating steak and sweet potatoes, talking about faith and believing God for things we can’t yet see. I can only imagine what this looked like from the outside.
She’s my crazy friend. You will meet her one day and you’ll think I am normal. I can’t wait for that. But I love her crazy more than life. She’s Honest. Risky. Loyal. Passionate. She cries. She laughs. She prays for the impossible. Forget that I hadn’t seen her in seven months, it didn’t seem that way. Our conversation was scattered, like old friends with too much to say and simultaneously no words that seem adequate, and frequently interrupted while we made friends and conversation with the restaurant manager, who later picked up the tab (holla!). In the midst of our jumbled, halfway processed thoughts, my over analytical, more than likely separated at birth sister-friend, blurted out the most brilliant analogy. In the context of frustration and straining for faith, she said of a friend far from Jesus, “I feel like I am holding his place in line.”
So many posts about yoga pants.
Too many likes. Too many shares. Too many comments weighing in. My head… and my heart… are about to explode.
Yet here I am, about to add another. If you’re exhausted by it, you are in good company. But something gripped me differently today about the whole debacle. I was prompted to write and now to share. I know, I know. Give me grace.
(If you quit now, out of sheer exhaustion on the topic, I understand and take no offense. Feel the freedom to tap out.)
Today I read probably my tenth post on the dreaded subject of yoga pants, in a sea of thousands more. Allow me to set the scene. I had decided to take a second stab at yoga-lates (a mix between yoga and pilates, but I lovingly pronounce it “yoga-LATTES”… for obvious reasons including increased appeal and thus participation) and in an effort to kill time before class, came across said post, shared by an old friend. Y’all I read it and wept. In the middle of yoga-lattes (that was on purpose), wearing… dun dun dun… yoga pants.
First of all, you’re not supposed to cry in yoga. So let’s just throw that out there for laughs. No one else is crying in their down dog. Except me. Awesome.
My heart hurt for us. For me. For you.
I looked up (aka googled) the word obedience. Obedience means compliance. Compliance with a request, an order, a law or… an authority.
And there it is. I have an obedience issue, and as it turns out, an authority issue.
When we know Jesus, when we know, understand and accept who He is and trust Him for salvation, we fully come under His authority. It’s that authority that we submit to when we are obedient to His Word and to His Spirit at work within us, both in complete alignment to His will. We comply, or we should, because of who He is, because He is worthy of it. It’s not about our own inferiority, although we are, it’s about the goodness, the worthiness, of God. Obedience is hard, it’s something that we learn and something we choose. Learning means we don’t always get it right, and choosing means sometimes we choose wrong. The good news is that the grace of Jesus is bigger. He was fully obedient to the Father and His obedience counts as our own.
This love, this great switch that was made on our behalf, our obedience for His, motivates us to keep learning, keep choosing. The love of Christ truly compels us and motivates us toward God. In order to pursue Him, we throw off every weight that hinders and sin that entangles. And friends, disobedience is a weight and a sin. I can tell you that with full confidence. It keeps us from fellowship with the Father, from enjoying His presence, from experiencing His peace and from seeing glimpses of His power. Disobedience clouds our view of the Almighty, and being with Him is our souls deepest longing. Without Him, we’re off.
I’ve been off.
This post has been in my head for a few months. A few months, just stewing in my head. To me that is confirmation that this story and it’s implications are something to share. So here it goes.
A couple months ago a dear friend of mine made the hard decision to move from DFW back home to Arkansas. After the decision was made, the process began of either selling or packing every little thing she had to her name. Lucky for me, the sell list included some great couches, couches I had envied many nights sitting on them and chatting over life, our messy, complicated walks with Jesus and drinking cheap red wine. As soon as they were offered, I jumped at the opportunity to become their rightful, grateful owner.