clank, bang, bang....
"what was that?" I looked over my shoulder from behind the counter to see a bald man and a fat woman struggling to pick up a The North Face sign that had fallen. "That was weird. How would that have fallen?" I thought.
"Can someone help us here?? He didn't do anything. This sign just got stuck on his pants and fell off" the fat woman spoken in a loud nervous pitch.
.... I should have known....
A while later. The fat woman and the bald man walk out of the store. I tell them bye.
Two skinny kids with black and white hoodie walk in with their hoods up.
...I should have known...
The fat woman and a man with a camo hat walk in. "what are they doing back here?" I thought.
"Can I get some water?" the fat woman asked. "My husband wants some too. Hey, honey, I'll just let you pay for it."
She runs off to the back while I ring up two waters at the register. He almost forgets to grab his wife's water as he hurried off to the back after her.
...I should have known...
....known that nice people aren't always so nice. And fat people aren't always so fat.
If I were to sit down and write all the things I wish to share, I'd just need to write a book. The journey of chapter 7 has been filled with blessings and difficulties, emotional ups and downs, and strengths and temptations. The last three years, for that matter, haven't been an easy ride, but I've matured a lot and learned many lessons I hope I can teach others about someday. Today, I just want to show you a glimpse of the lessons this particular road has laid out for me.
The entire road so far in my chapter 7 has been about the challenges of waiting. It's been about waiting for an answer from God in what direction my life should go next. Waiting for some blessing as a sign to make a sound decision. Waiting for a proposal, waiting for a job for Chase, waiting to see what's next in store for us. Little by little things are playing themselves out. But still, I've decided that this chapter is devoted to teach me to wait patiently on the Lord because things happen in His time. To me, six months seems so far away, but to God, six months may seem like a very short time to strengthen me and mold me into what He needs me to be as a wife. To me, six months may mean too many months to struggle with weaknesses, but to God, it may mean six months for me to actually get it right. Elizabeth Elliot once wrote "the only way to learn trust and obedience is to have things happen which you do not understand." One way to look at it is if you can't see where you're going, you just have to take God's hand and let Him lead you without quandary and question.
But in my own humanistic ways, I still question Him. So, I guess God gave me an answer in the form of a lesson in the book of Deuteronomy. The many accounts recorded that God reminds the Israelites to "keep His statues and His commandments" reminds us how important God views obeying His commands. Even though God doesn't always give specific reasons for His commands, He reminds them repeatedly His commands are for a purpose, "that it may be well with you." God gives us commands also for our own good. In my own personal struggles, I've asked myself several times "why does God make these commands?" or "why does God demand this of me?" But by suffering the consequences of not meeting His standards has made me realize WHY God makes commands. His commands are actually meant to protect us. Protect us from the consequences. Protect us from the struggles that result from sin. Maybe even protect us from knowing WHY. If God gives us a command and doesn't tell us why.... then we don't need to know why until its time.
As you can imagine, struggling with the challenge of waiting can also lead to struggling with the fear of the unknown. I'm afraid of making a bad financial decision that might cost me a lot in the future down the road. After Chase read a passage to me from Job, I realized that growing up mean taking risks. When you think about it, all of life is a "risk." Even if the present was secure, that doesn't mean it will be in the future. Job was financially secure with all of his wealth, but it was all taken away from him in a few minutes! Any other life decision will also have both pros and cons, such as marriage, choice of occupation, living location, etc. Some decisions will require more strength while others might be easy. In some situations we may have control and others we may not. The more I realize the uncertainties in life, the more I realize the importance of trusting God in everything and the aching hopelessness without it.
I hope that at the end of this chapter, I can say it was well worth the wait. (thanks emily) I hope to build up my spiritual strength and my faith in the Lord that I will no longer even be tempted to sin in those things which I struggle now. My spiritual goal is to be like a rock, to learn self control of my emotions, to fully trust in God's protection, to constantly gather wisdom to help fortify my family's faith, and to know the right words to encourage others be strong.
The last few years I have been in the state of mind that I was saving time if I left my clothes on the floor after changing so I could rush to do the next thing in my busy schedule. But lately, I've discovered that the more I organize, the more I actually get done. I rediscovered that keeping my space tidy is like keeping my brain decluttered. I feel like I can breath and concentrate so much better in a clean room.
I got rid of any random nick-nacks that seemed to clutter my dresser. I tossed some old clothes I never wear. I inventoried and consolidated my art supplies. And I just filed a large pile of papers that have been begging for my attention for years! I'm weeding down to the bare basics for an easy move soon. I've already developed an idea of the style of decorating my apartment. Its "simple and calm yet comfortable and homey." Im pretty excited about getting started.
I also learning to get organized at work. It seems easier to be organized when you go to work consecutive days in a row. I have my system down. Before I went on vacation at the beginning of September, I worked very hard to get ahead by adding newly arriving products to the website before they even arrived. Every time my boss reminds me a new product has arrived I'm so proud to tell her "its already on the website looking beautifully." :) Even though there's always plenty to do, I've never been this caught up in all the piles of paperwork for the store. They even gave me a raise. I'm pretty happy that my organizational skills are redeveloping. :) :)
I'm so pleased with the way planning my wedding is turning out so far. I was afraid of all the stress and overwelming-ness people kept warning me against. It started out rocky. But it keeps just happening just one day at a time. One day at a time mom tells me what's next on the list. We found a venue. I found a dress the first day we looked. Chase and I considered a date. I asked my bridesmaids to be in my wedding. Someone special is decorating my cake. Another someone sweet going to do my hair, etc. The whole experience has been a lot more fun and simple than I was first expecting. And it seems that organizing your time can really make a difference in the way you enjoy something.
Janet is teaching me what she calls the "scripture strings". She's helping me to connect verses in a color coded system that prove a doctrinal belief. For instance, the path to prove to a student that baptism for the remission of sins is required to receive salvation is marked in green. At each scripture the next scripture is written next to it, so it actually becomes like a treasure hunt to find the next clue. As we go through each string, the concepts make me even more convinced that God's word makes sense and now that I know why baptism is true, I can teach someone else with much more understanding. Janet organizes her studies that makes the Bible make sense. I'm organizing my faith. It's really helping me. A lot.
I'm not missing school one bit! I'm just so thankful that I'm finally having an opportunity to organize the things I've wanted to organized for so long, but felt too busy to organize it! To help me keep on track, I wrote myself a few lists. One was a list of things to do by the end of the year. Another was a bucket list of things that I would like to get done before I die. Another was a list of spiritual goals for a lifetime and another was persistent prayer list of weaknesses to overcome.
Thank God for everyday! :)
A little over 15 years ago, I was about to turn 8 and I was praying for a sister. I prayed and prayed. And a few months later, mama told me she was going to have a boy. I was so mad! I wanted a sister so badly! Mom talked me in to liking being the only girl and I enjoyed my brothers a lot, but I still always wondered what it would like to have a sister to share secrets with, wear each other's clothes, and giggle all night.
So, I grew up. I really didn't have a whole lot of friends. One friend stayed close to me up until high school, but there was still something missing. And then I went to college and that's where I met some of the dearest friends I could ever imagine.
Little did I know that the skinny girl who walked up to me in the second floor Sutton hallway to ask if I wanted to room with her, would be the answer to the prayers from my childhood. Emily Craig has been my dearest friend through everything, even through the difficult, just like a sister. Even now, we are 900 miles apart and somehow we always manage to keep in touch. She just came to Cumming a few weeks ago and after looking at pages and pages of wedding ideas, we sat in bed and talk and talked and talked. And then we turned out the lights and I couldn't stand the thought of the day ending... so I told her we just needed to keep talking, and talking, and talking....
Emily is the one of the most encouraging people I know. Her godly attitude is astounding. And her deep, thoughtful mind is so fascinating. I asked her to be my maid-of-honor and I'm so excited for her to stand beside me on my wedding day, because she is truly the sister God gave me.
And somehow that year, I also meet a lot of other sister that made me thankful to be a part of such a wonderful Christian family. Sonya Deville was like me because she's just so down-to-earth, Bethany Hamilton was always so positive and happy, Beth and Kati Raymer were always so sweet and generous, Kelly Bassett always made me laugh, Alyssa Blake made studying fun, Alyssa Biesecker always gave the best hugs, Heidi had the best laughs that we could hear down the hall, Sarah Gailey played football with me, Melissa Pelaez hung out with us even though she was an alumni, Whitney Garrett knew more about movies then I ever remember, Jessica Fite and I shared an arts and crafts hobby, and there are so many more sisters that I can't even name them all. It seems weird to me that only five years later, many of them have grown up, got married, changed their name, and some even have children. But somehow at the same time it seems natural because I even had to look up some of their maiden names in writing this because I had forgotten.
And now it's my turn. I'm getting two sisters soon. One is Shannon. It seems so weird that I'm getting a sister-in-law who's a Christian, a lot like myself, but I haven't got much chance to even know her. She seems really sweet and has a beautiful godly attitude that it seems we could become good friends, but I've only met her once or twice. I'm excited about getting to know her soon, hopefully before Emerson marries her, but if not...we'll have an entire lifetime of reunions to get to know one another. Secondly, I'm getting a new sister-in-law who is Chase's sister. Now, I'm not so sure about what will become of Carly. She's a typical teenage girl doing her own thing in her own world. Given that I am completely different, any kind of true relationship there might be hindered until I am given an opportunity by God.
I guess, there are blood sisters, sisters in Christ, and sisters-in-law. And if in my childhood prayer, God had answered me with a blood sister, who knows if I would have had the kind of deep relationship I'd always wanted. And if I had that kind of sister-bonding relationship with a blood sister would I have been open to letting other friends fill that spot? But because God answered "wait", He gave me something better later in life. He gave me not only one best girl friend, but also a whole family of sisters. And now, He's giving me sisters-in-law, who I'm excited to get to know.
A long ago story of a handsome young prince sweeping his princess off into happily-ever-after began the dream. Reading stories of the love and comfort provided for one another in divinely instituted marriages, like Issac and Rachel, and studying the woman's God-given purpose to be a wife and homemaker ultimately brings that dream into a strong desire.
Of course, the perfect senerio would be for a young, handsome man to sweep a woman off her feet before she even has an opportunity to think about any other option other than marriage. But we all know that the perfect senerio is not reality. In reality, the marital relationship is different than what our childish mind imagines and the time waiting for it is not always so quick.
In fact, many young women are single for years, some left from broken relationships that didn't last, others never even given an opportunity for a relationship. As they watch other women fall in love and get married, they hurt inside. Badly.
Instinctively, the body and mind try to protect itself from hurt. For instance, you draw your hand back quickly after touching a hot stove. Similarly, unfulfilled desire is like a hot stove. The greater the desire and the more you witness someone else's dream come true, the more hurt you feel. The mind instinctively tries to protect itself from that hurt.
Every young woman's heart protects itself differently and it may even go through a series of changes as the hurt becomes stronger. Some women complain about the lack of selection of men or the bad character of the available, single men. Others make excuses for themselves or deny their desire to have a relationship. Others mentally suppress the thoughts of marriage or actively seek another option as a standby. Some may even act on their jealousy, hurting someone else or they may become pushy and desperate in another relationship.
Even though it's so natural to want to protect the hurting heart, that "protection" is not really a protection. It is only a temporary cover and it only makes things worse. Complaining about men may lead to 1) hurting their reputation causing them to be less likely to be interested in you and 2) a day that you may regret saying something because now you have to eat your own words. Lying to yourself about your true desire is never going to make you content in your situation, even though you might be trying to force yourself to be content. Making excuses for yourself is only a hindrance to solving the true problem. Making up senerios of why you believe God has you in this situation, only leaves you empty when your senerio proves to be untrue. Forcing yourself to desire something "more tangible" can ultimately lead to you compromising your dream. And mentally suppressing your desire to marry may make you overlook a great opportunity all together. Envy and jealousy is sin and becoming too pushy can lead to being in a relationship you may regret someday.
So, specifically, to those who have a strong desire to marry, but see no prospect in the horizon. It's okay to hurt. It's okay to cry. Cry yourself to sleep sometimes. It's o.k.a.y.
Pain is God's way of calling to us, maybe even shouting to us. He's challenging us to look to Him for comfort. He's calling us to put our trust in Him for guidance and fulfillment. Pain gives us an opportunity to put our dreams and goals into perspective, to KNOW that a relationship with God is FAR greater and more perfect than any earthly relationship we may have.
So, when your heart hurts, cry. Face the truth. Come boldly to God's throne and tell Him what you desire and why you desire it. Beg Him to comfort you and strengthen you while your heart is waiting, and He will comfort you MORE than you would ever expect!!
Also, don't be afraid to talk to other single girls or other wise women. God gives these people as blessings of comfort too. Being content with your situation is about rejoicing in what you have and trusting in the Lord for the things that you lack. :)
So, thank God for the opportunity you have to develop a relationship with Him. Use time to develop a more defined Godly character within yourself and to better understand yourself. And pray like God is the most important thing to you in your life.