Tuesday, June 16, 2015

In Memory of Elisabeth

“God never withholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. ...While it is perfectly true that some of my worst fears did, in fact, materialize, I see them now as ‘an abyss and mass of mercies,’ appointed and assigned by a loving and merciful Father who sees the end from the beginning. He asks us to trust him.” Elisabeth Elliot 

Yesterday I received news that a dear, godly lady, Elisabeth Elliot, passed on to Heaven to meet our Savior face to face. As I was driving my 40 minute commute after work, the tears began to flow down my cheek. Oh, maybe the tears were a culmination of many things, but I truly felt deep grief & sorrow — to know that earth lost such an incredible hero of the faith. I imagined what it must have been like for Elisabeth to walk through those Pearly Gates of Splendor & to be reunited with her beloved husband, Jim, who was martyred in Ecuador by Auca Indians in 1956. 

Over the last 10 years, this precious lady was like a mentor to me - through her books, through her stories and her quotes. She was a role model to me of what a godly woman should be like. Infact, during my high school years, I journaled of my desire to want to marry a man like Jim Elliot one day, and serve together with him as a missionary on the mission field. When I was 19, I went through my first, real relationship crisis or "break up" if you willand I remember calling my mother on the phone with tears streaming down my face, "If the Lord can do it for Jim & Elisabeth Elliot, then I know He can do the same for me."

It was Elisabeth herself who penned ,"Out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.” She also said, “To be a follower of the Crucified means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the cross. And the cross always entails loss."

I was always felt like I could relate to Elisabeth's shy, reserved personality. In Jim Elliot's diaries, he writes of how quiet & reserved Elisabeth was during the beginning of their relationship, and how he wished she could've been a little more forthright. Even still, he pursued her and loved her for the woman that she was.

I am forever grateful for Elisabeth's life example and the unshakeable faith & trust that she had in Christ. She so wisely said, "To love God is to love His will. It is to wait quietly for… the One who knows us through and through."

The last day or so, I have been constantly listening to the song, "Find Us Faithful" (sung by Steve Green). I just love the words.  Truly,

May all who come behind us find us faithful.

"The older I get, the more totally convinced I am that God DOES know what He's doing. 
He loves us with an everlasting love, and He wants us to trust Him." 
Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, June 14, 2015

When I Am Alone // A Vulnerable Post About Singleness

I'm not even sure how to articulate my thoughts, but I just had to write them out.

The other day, I found myself listening to the Christian radio station, and a Pastor from Calvary Church was preaching about marriage and one of the reasons for it being, raising children for the Lord. He spoke from 1 Samuel when Hannah was broken before God, crying out for a child. In 1 Samuel 1 it says, "She [Hannah] was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. …As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her… Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. …Hannah answered, "…I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord."

And then it got my mind rolling. I feel like the church as a whole generally looks on infertility and someone's longing to have children with compassion and understanding. Over all, most would understand the unfulfilled dream and longing of a couple's heart to have children.

And yet, I see single women around me - like myself - who would love to be married & to start their own families, and for whatever reason, they are shamed for such a desire. "Be content with Jesus! Jesus is enough. You shouldn't want marriage, if that's not what is set before you right now."

So alright… It's okay for Hannah to weep and cry out in distress for a God-given desire… but single women should somehow be shamed for desiring marriage? I don't get it.  Do we tell couples struggling with infertility, "Be content with Jesus! Your spouse is enough!" Oh, of course, Jesus should be utmost, central and above all in our lives, but is it wrong to weep over unanswered prayers and unfulfilled dreams? Is that a shameful thing?

I'm not saying every single lady with a desire to get married should go around trumpeting her desire to everyone she meets (as I've known of those), and it gets rather draining listening to. Like, seriously, could you stop obsessing over marriage? ;)

But what about those who have a deep, unfulfilled desire from God to be a helpmeet and mother? Should they just clam up about it in shame and guilt?

I confess, a couple weeks ago I was driving down the road, and I broke down in tears. (Which doesn't often happen… but it did this particular day.) It's hard to understand the ways of God. His ways are so much higher than my own.

To be truthfully and vulnerably honest, I can remember walking down the hallway in our California home as a 6 year old girl with my parent's wedding afghan draped over my head. I'd play the wedding processional from The Sound of Music over the loud speakers. YEAH. I guess I was a weird six year old already dreaming of the day when she would be a bride. My favorite pastime as a young girl was "mothering" my grey kittens, Precious and Fluffball. I would spend hours and hours with my dolls, treating them as if they were my children. But years past and time went. As an older teenager, I would occasionally bring up the topic of relationships, but it was immediately met with, "Don't even think about 'that stuff.' You're too young. You shouldn't even go there." (I still thought about it, but never talked about it.)

And more years passed.

Today I am an single young women closer to 30 than I am 20. Infact, I am just about THE only older single person in my church. And suddenly, it is very, very lonely. I no longer have single comrades to share unfulfilled desires. Instead, I am going over to friends homes to watch their children for an evening while they go out on dates. Maybe it shouldn't, but it does hurt and tug on a heart. "You're single because God is probably sparing you from having a BAD marriage," they've said. Okay.. but what about a GOOD one??

Does God see me down here? Did I miss the boat? Did I miss something somewhere? Because there certainly isn't anyone in my church or in my group of acquaintances. Someone suggested, "Sign up for E-Harmony!" UM, how about NO. (And I'll keep my mouth closed for any further discussions on the matter.)

So YES. Here I am. Single as ever.

I asked an unfamiliar pastoral mentor about my situation the other day. "Seek first the kingdom," was their reply, as if it was their fix-all "bandage" to my question. They meant well, and while I know they spoke the truth, how can they understand my lot, when they were married at 20?

I have unanswered questions, and I wonder why. Perhaps I'll never know. Maybe I will be the old lady with her cats, and God will give me the grace to be alone.

And so there you have it. You may be judging me tonight, but there it is - out in the open. And it's real.