Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Next Battle...

I am learning something. Life, the spiritual walk, is a series of battles and skirmishes in a MUCH larger war, a war that will not be over until that final battle depicted in the book of Revelation. Somehow, I think maybe I lulled myself into believing that we all have our "besetting sin" and that once we win that initial victory, life would settle into a more bearable "routine" with only occasional skirmishes to keep the enemy in line. Who was I kidding?!?!?! And where did this idea come from? Wishful thinking maybe? The Scripture makes it VERY clear that our walk IS a battle.

I Corinthians 10:3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

Ephesians 6: 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteouseness, 15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; 16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Even Paul stated in Romans 7:14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.c For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

OK... so this idea that after the initial battle is won, I would be able to sit back and coast through life with only minor skirmishes to keep the enemy in line? TOTALLY unbiblical! I find that "nominal christianity," sitting far behind the trenches, is no real threat to the enemy, therefor, there are few attacks. The more that I desire God, the more fervently that I seek Him... the deeper into enemy territory I seem to be. In other words... the more damage that my life might cause the enemy, the more pressures will come to bear in my life to keep me distracted from that which is of paramount importance... that I may know HIM and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; (Phil 3:10)

Somewhere last Fall, God helped me to win a MAJOR victory over something that has been a constant battle in my life. Finding contentment and joy in HIM, and Him alone. Living a life not merely "surviving" alone, but even "thriving" as I seek to please Him in my singleness. I am not saying that this is a "once and for all victory" I KNOW better. But at this time, the devil could no longer use my discontentment as a tool to keep me paralyzed and unable to minister. So... he had to get creative.

Now comes the point where I wish that this blog was more "anonymous" and that it had fewer readers :) and yet... as I have stated before, if my transparency helps another, then it will be worth it.

My next confession: While I have learned to be joyful and content in my singleness, this does not mean that there is NO desire for marriage and family IF that is within God's will for my life. So, the next battle has begun. Sometime last Fall is when God began that transforming work in my heart, to bring me true joy and contentment. Even as that was happening, the "interaction" that I had with men began to change. Something about the new and content Amy caused a shift in how men interacted with me.

Suddenly, men whom I'd seen on a regular basis began to actually seek out interaction. The safest example here is the manager of a local restaurant. I am a creature of habit, and for nearly 4 years, I have visited one particular restaurant for breakfast 2-3 times a month. Nearly every visit, the same manager is present, and for 3+ years I don't recall us EVER speaking. Suddenly, "Tom" started seating me himself, calling me Darling and Sunshine, teasing and joking with me, bringing my coffee, telling me that he "missed me" if I hadn't been in for a while, and laying his hand on my shoulder, or touching my arm every time he walked by (which he seems to do rather often :) (On a totally unrelated note, it is amazing how differently the employees treat you when you seem to be the "boss's" favorite ;)

"Tom" was not the only man to do so. I am an "analyzer." I found myself wondering what this meant, what these guys were thinking, what this comment, or behavior or action might mean, or how I should respond. I found myself agonizing over, "I don't want to appear forward but I don't want to appear uninterested. I don't even know HOW to interact with men as an adult woman, out on her own. I've led a very sheltered and protected life, and now honestly, I am at a loss out in the "real" world."

Then I realized something. Once again, my focus has shifted. Rather than keeping my focus on God, and on serving Him... I'm focusing on the men around me. "Is he interested? Is he just shy? Do I need to do something differently?" I even found myself changing my routines, in order to be near them even more and have more opportunity for contact. Sure, I am flattered by the attention. What girl wouldn't be? Sure, it feels good, it meets a need... but at what cost?

While the underlying contentment in singleness was still there, I had lost the "joy" of living life wholly for God, and focused on Him. I'm not saying that it is wrong to be in a relationship, or focus on a man that God brings into your life, but... I was building "castles in the air." These men hadn't moved beyond friendly interaction, and I found myself thinking "Maybe he's the one." I was no longer "Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."

Over the last week, I have begun begging God to help me to get my focus back on Him, and serving Him. While not every story is this way... I hope that if God has a man for me, that it will just "happen." That I will find myself serving God alongside a man, and we will one day realize that perhaps the Lord might be leading us together... that maybe we could serve better as a couple than we could alone.

So, my confession? I am easily distracted from my focus on God. And if discontentment won't distract me from serving faithfully, then maybe the "what ifs" will.

This leads right into my NEXT post. "Perpetual Bachelors- Most of us single gals know some, most of us have complained about the mindset of the "perpetual bachelor" but... are WE contributing to that mindset? Is our behavior helping to create, or at least foster that laid back, casual approach to relationships that we find so frustrating?" Stay tuned :)


  1. Amy, I can't tell you how much I look forward to your posts and your honesty. Even though I have been happily married for nearly 11 years now, I totally relate to the experiences and feelings that you describe. I remember dealing with the issues that are a daily part of your life.

    Now, from the "other side of the fence", may I say that I have spoken with many married women who are happily married and have their "quiver-full" of little blessing but have to guard against discontentment just as much as you. While most married women are so very thankful for the joys each day brings, it is also easy to become complacent and yearn for the freedom of the "single years". While you may feel from time to time in-bondage to your singleness a married woman might from time to time feel the same sense of bondage to her responsibilities!

    The point being, as you write, you minister not only to those who are single and yearning to experience the blessings of marriage, but also to those who are married and yearning for the blessings of being single! May we ALL learn the blessing of CONTENTMENT in the various "states" in which we find ourselves!

    1. Ah... Stephanie, that is why I think that learning the lesson of contentment is SOOO important BEFORE marriage. It's not "contentment in singleness" as much as it is just plain old "contentment." "I have learned in whatsoever state I am in, therein to be content." I HOPE that one day, I will be able to say that. I fall so far short of the goal!

  2. Ladies, you are so right! Thank you, Stephanie, for your comments. It is true that sometimes I long for "freedom" from my responsibilities. But I am reminded that my circumstances reveal my heart, and a change in my circumstances won't change my heart. Who am I doing this (being a wife and mother) for anyway? Thanks, Amy, for the reminder that we should ALL keep an eternal perspective.