Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Dear Single Girl

Dear Single Girl,

I know the questions that you face every day. Questions that don’t even come from the voices of others but rather the inward you. You ask yourself everyday if this is normal. The bae-saturated culture has convinced your mind to evaluate your desire because everything about it screams abnormal. The marriage obsessed church culture convinces you that you are not blessed if marriage isn’t your reality before the age of 30. Social media trains you to think that your absence of a significant other determines your desirability as a female. Family pressure has started to affect your understanding of your personal pace with God. Countless people have told you that 'your standards are too high' or your expectation of a brothers approach is 'not realistic in this day and age.' The commentary surrounding 'your season' has made you question who you are, where you are and where you are going.

I’m writing to the girl no one ever addresses. To the girl that doesn’t desire marriage - whether it be currently or ever. You’ve probably grown exhausted of trying to justify your desire to be single to every person that doesn’t seem to understand why you feel the way you do. Or maybe you’ve encountered the many people that seem to think you’re lying and hit you with the ‘you can’t actually want that’ line of disbelief. It’s almost a taboo in the church for a young woman to openly share that she desires to remain unmarried. If you’re not refining your virtue for the sake of a husband, then what are you doing? If you’re not intentionally positioning yourself for Boaz to notice you, then what are you doing? If you’re not abstaining from sex so that you are more desirable for your future man of God, then what are you doing? We have done a great job at belittling Gods beautiful intention for biblical womanhood to the preparation for an earthly husband.

Whether you desire to remain single for an appointed season or you are eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of God, I encourage you to stand firm. Maybe you desire to remain unmarried because you sense God appointing you to a specific season of singleness, for the purpose of character refining. You know that without certain parts of your character being purified and dealt with now, the amplification of those problems within a union will inevitably lead to a destructive marriage. Or maybe the purpose of your singleness is to enable intense and high demanding service unto the Lord, that requires the freedom from responsibility that the married woman is concerned with. The challenges of this type of woman in the Christian community generally remain unspoken, because the reality is that this isn’t the heart state of many women. Most, not wrongly, do desire pursuit, courtship and marriage. But today, I’m encouraging you. The girl who has been questioned, alienated and left discouraged at points because of your desire to be single for the Lord.

Regulating Conversation

Don’t feel the need to prove yourself or your stance to every single person that enquires. Given the rarity of women in the faith who want to be single out of choice, be expected to be questioned by most about the authenticity behind your contentment and the reasoning for it. Answer with honesty, but always ensure that your speech is gracious and wholesome. Be aware of the easy trap of growing frustrated with people due to their curiosity. When communicating your reasoning, be mindful that you are not operating from a place of spite or pride. Rather, focus on pointing your explanations back to Jesus. Always strive to highlight the goodness of God in your life and the love of Jesus being sufficient enough to satisfy you whether married or not.

Be free from the pressure to downplay your desire to serve God in the capacity that He has gifted you with. There can be temptation to sway towards talking more about your ‘long term desire for marriage’ when you are amongst other Christian women. This feels more natural and comfortable for you, because you know the extremity of how opposite your current heart state is from what they all desire. So instead of actually expressing your joy in delighting in God alone at this current moment, you choose to emphasise and assure them that you DO want to get married in the future. Been there, done that. Too many times to count. But my point here stands; don’t succumb to the pressure of societal or church expectations in the midst of conversation. Guard your heart by regulating and discerning who you share with and what exactly you share. And in addition to that, train yourself to feel comfortable expressing your contentment with where God has you. If they can express their desire for courtship, why are you not allowed to speak of your love for your current season of singleness?

Guard your Contentment

Guarding your contentment seems like a nearly impossible task in a world that always craves more and craves it immediately. I once heard that contentment is ‘being grateful and satisfied with your current portion but being hopeful for things to come.’ I love this definition because it exemplifies how contentment is not a mere denial of desire. It is easy to fall into sin when we do not manage our desires in a godly and wise manner. At the centre of true contentment is genuine gratitude and understanding of the sufficiency of the cross. No one can be truly content without understanding that we do not ‘deserve’ anything from God, so anything we do have, we must be thankful for. We didn’t even deserve for Him to send His son to die for the sake of our sin, let alone choose to bless us continuously out of His goodness.

You are in the midst of a generation that glorifies marriage as an idol to strive towards at all costs, rather than the intimate covenant reflecting Christ and His bride that God intended. So I encourage you to be intentional about guarding the state of your heart and the purity of your meditations. This could mean a variety of things for you. It may be regulating what and who you follow on social media, ensuring that everything on your timeline isn’t bridal shots or courtship ministry posts. It may mean refraining from watching romantic comedies that seem to trigger thoughts of discontentment and entertains ungodly desperation. Or it may simply be learning how to kindly shut down comments from others that discourage your passion for serving God or plant seeds that suggest that you’ll never get married if you ‘keep talking like this.’ By whatever means the Holy Spirit leads you to, be diligent in guarding your contentment. There are probably many times you have  heard or seen something and brushed it off, not realizing that you have internalized the seeds that have been planted in your heart and taken root.

Serve Fervently and Faithfully  

As an unmarried woman, you have a practical freedom to serve the Lord in a way that is different to the married woman. Maybe for you, this has been at the core of why you desire to be single. From speaking to some married women, I have gathered this common feeling of regret of mismanagement of time in their singleness. They always wish that they had done more when they had the absolute freedom to do so. For others, it has been the general frustration of wanting to plough for Gods kingdom but the responsibilities of being a wife and mother drains them of physical energy. You, as a single woman have the capability to serve God with what Paul calls ‘undivided devotion’. Use this time of singleness, whether it be for a certain period or your whole lifetime, to invest into your gifts and mature in your calling. Learn and train in the ways that God desires to use you to edify the body of Christ and bring the saints to maturity. Be active in looking for creative ways to reach out to lost souls and disciple them in God’s word. Look for ways to build up your home church, by devoting your time, talents and spiritual gifts for their use. These are all ways in which you, as an unmarried woman can serve God with the gift He has given you. Now is your prime season to cultivate discipline, consistency and excellence as a vessel of God.

I know it. You’ve probably heard comments like - ‘’Don’t do too much, because the brothers will think you’re a bit too fiery and will find you intimidating to approach.’’ I cannot count the amount of times that this ‘advice’ has been relayed to me since I started serving God in public ministry at sixteen. Maybe you’ve heard the same, or even similar. Never ever adjust your faithfulness to serving God for the sake of a relationship. You will find yourself drained, miserable and annoyed because you are supressing the gifts that God desires to blossom within you. All for what? A guy who is too insecure to accept the calling of the person he’s trying to call his ‘wife’? If he can’t even accept the weight of your call in God, what makes you think he’s going to find any ounce of joy in leading you in that call? As an unmarried woman, I encourage you to serve the Lord with unapologetic zeal and commitment. Refuse to settle for half-hearted service or delayed obedience, in an attempt to get the brothers to pursue you without fear. This notion of ‘not serving too much’ is far from a biblical concept. Both Ruth and Rebekah are women who were found in their place of service and work. It was not only their positioning that caused their husbands/seekers to be drawn to them, but their attitude, character and virtue exhibited in the midst of their work. So serve, and when you do, serve well. I pray that you would be so engulfed in your assignment from God in this season, that whether or not a husband comes, you learn to delight in serving God both fervently and faithfully.

It is never my intention to persuade girls that desiring marriage is wrong, but it is a cry of my heart that Christian women around the world would walk with the Lord faithfully in their appointed time of singleness. So I encourage you to regulate your conversations, guard your contentment and serve with fervency and faithfulness. 

Know that you are not alone in your pursuit of God as a single, but there are other sisters around the world running the same race. 
Know that it is okay to not be the girl that does the swirl click over her head shouting ‘I rebuke it!’ when someone brings up the prospect of not getting married, because you maintain a quiet inward confidence in Gods will. 
Know that your satisfaction in Christ alone is a beautiful thing, a treasure that should be celebrated and not condemned. 
Know that if you do desire to be married in the long run and it’s in Gods will for your life, then He will present you to a suitable spouse according to His sovereign timing.
Know that if you want to remain single for your entire life in order to serve, that desire is advantageous to the Kingdom of God. 
And finally, know that no matter your marital status or inward desire, you are already loved, found and chosen by Christ Himself.

Love always,

Caitlin Nunez

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Disregarded Series : God, You've Disappointed Me

Your relationship with God is intimate, full of excitement and the display of His faithfulness in your life is more than evident. You’re growing in faith day by day as each prayer is unravelled before your eyes. Your zeal for such a great God cannot seem to be contained.

Time passes and a situation, person, expectation or event, spirals you into the uncomfortable feeling of disappointed in God. Your heart is confused at your unmet expectation. You’re even more frustrated at this unshakable feeling of disappointment in the perfect God you believed to be good.

Being disappointed in God is one of the most common and yet unspoken emotions that the believer experiences as they journey with God. What do we do in the midst of our belief, trust and hope being shattered?

            Let’s start with this truth.

Your failure to perceive the way God is operating on your behalf does not equate to the failure of God.

There are three things we must consider when dealing with these moments of discouragement in our walk with God. All three require enough vulnerability to examine our hearts with the help of the Holy Spirit.

(1)  We must not limit our prayers to our finite understanding of how it should be answered.

In Ephesians 3:20-21, Paul exalts God by saying ‘now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.’ We see clearly in the scripture that God is one who exceeds our expectations because of HIS divine ability and sovereignty. How foolish is it of us to put a cap on the God who has already exposed Himself to be able to do beyond what we could ever fathom? We must hold to the fact that God is not subject to our prayers, but our prayers are subject to God. In the midst of your prayers, you must remember that God is not limited to the words that come off of your tongue. But rather, He is attentively listening and aligning your pleas with His perfect will for your life. Many times, this sovereign alignment leaves believers in a place of disappointment, confusion and frustration with God. Our deep desire for our petitions to come to pass can sometimes allow for Pauls exhortation of God to slip our minds.

God is answering prayers in many ways, forms and methods. That is not for you to decide. It’s not your place to dictate how He answers or when He answers. It is your role to ensure that your heart stays in position as you wait upon God to do exceedingly and abundantly above your own perception. Submit your honest expectation of your answered prayer and ask God to help you to pray with a fresh revelation of His infinite power and understanding.

(2)  Examine who’s will you really want to prevail.

In Psalm 139: 23-24 David cries out ‘search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!’ We, like David, need to ask the Lord to expose the true motive of our heart when we are in our prayer closet. It is easy to say the four words ‘thy will be done’ with our lips, whilst our heart is saying ‘as long as it matches up with what I’m praying for.’

In the garden of Gethsemane before the hour of His arrest, Jesus finds Himself on His face before the Father asking that if possible, His cup of suffering (His coming death) would be taken from Him. The end of the Saviour’s prayer is startling to most as He concludes by saying ‘nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’ None could even imagine how Jesus must have felt knowing that He was about to be crucified despite His perfection. If Jesus managed to pray the sincere prayer for the Father’s will to come to pass in relation to an undeserved death, how much more should we be able to pray this with sincerity about less extreme circumstances? By following the example of our Lord, we are not only praying from a heart of humility but we are ensuring that our hope is in Gods sovereignty. By genuinely praying for Gods will to be done, you break the limitation of your prayer to just what you can verbally express, so that the perfect power of God can be manifested in your life.

(3)  Do not let it drive you away from the secret place!

Discouragement is such a subtle tool of the enemy, especially when it stems from a place of offence towards God. John 10:10 reminds us of the agenda of the enemy to ‘steal and kill and destroy.’ Many periods of disappointment arise because of a spiritual attack (Ephesians 6:12) – in an attempt to steal our hope, kill our confidence in God and destroy our relationship with Him.

Maybe you have experienced that feeling of your faith being belittled because of previous disappointment. No matter how much you try, you can’t bring yourself to really pray for what you want because in your mind ‘God didn’t come through last time.’ We must stand FIRM in these discouraging moments. The easiest way for the enemy to get you off track is to pull you away from the secret place - the place where you can be vulnerable with the Father about your emotions, desires and plans. If He can rob your confidence in Gods ability to hear your and answer your prayer, He can naturally prevent you even drawing near to God in the first place.

We must remain encouraged to fight back with the word of God (Ephesians 6:17) and trust in the consistency of our God. Psalm 34:17 tells us that ‘when the righteous cry out for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.’ He is not a God who is oblivious to the cries of the heart, but most definitely answers in accordance to what He knows His children need. Refuse to lose hope. Choose to pray with boldness and the authority that you have as a disciple of Christ. Pray with assurance that no matter what the previous season entailed, no matter how things panned out last year, God is listening and ready to move on your behalf. Maintain your confidence in the place of prayer, by meditating upon who God says He is through His trusted word. As you pore over the passages of scripture explaining His faithfulness, sovereignty and love for you, I pray that your faith increases in such a way that you can go back to praying from a heart of full expectancy.