Are you done “losing” in dating relationships? I know a girl who recently started dating, and she’s certain that this relationship is going to be a “win.”
How can she be so sure?
Not because she’s necessarily going to marry this guy. Of course, that’s the desired outcome. But marriage isn’t the goal.
If marriage is the goal of dating, then any dating relationship that doesn’t end in marriage is a failure. But if the goal of dating is learning to love another, then even if that relationship doesn’t end in marriage, it will have been worth it. I mean, come on, who doesn’t need to grow in love?!
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
So she’s having a little competition with her boyfriend. They’re taking Romans 12:10 seriously. You might call it their north star:
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
See, the goal in singleness and the goal in marriage isn’t as different as we make it out to be. The goal is learning to love another flawed human being with Christ’s unconditional love.
You know what’s really cool? As this girl practices loving her boyfriend well, she sees that same pattern seeping into other relationships. As she seeks to “outdo him in showing honor,” she finds herself doing the same in other relationships. Pretty sweet, huh?
How about you? If you’re dating (or have dated or hope to date someday) what do you think the goal is? How can you make sure you never lose again in a dating relationship—even when marriage isn’t a guarantee?
For the past three weeks we’ve been talking about words, words, words. Is all this talk just a good suggestion?
Nope, it’s a lot more serious than that. Turns out your future is at stake, according to Jesus:
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36–37).
Umm, question! Doesn’t that sound like we’re working our way to heaven?
Nope. We’d never be good enough to get to heaven on our own. It’s just that our words reveal our hearts like a thermometer reveals a fever or snow reveals cold.
Our words clearly show our true heart condition. God doesn’t miss a thing, and He says we’ll give an account to Him one day soon of every single word we ever spoke (gulp!). I’m gonna guess that also includes words we type, text, etc.
Like I said a couple weeks ago, we all desperately need a heart transplant (because our words reflect a deeper problem: a heart problem).
But how? Do you have to fill out a bunch of paperwork? Get stuck on a waiting list for years? Save up thousands of dollars?
Nope! God wants to give you a new heart. His heart.
When you confess to God the sin in your heart and ask Him to give you a new one, He will generously give you His Holy Spirit. And it won’t cost you a penny; it’s a gift! It wasn’t free for the Son of God, mind you; it cost Him His life. But it’s free for you.
Check out His promise in Ezekiel 36:26–29:
“I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
“And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. . . . You shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.”
By the way, this isn’t a get-out-of-hell-free-and-then-live-any-way-you-want card. If you really understand your need for a heart transplant and God’s crazy incredible grace in giving one to you, you will be forever changed.
And the proof will be in your new words.
You’ll begin to serve a new Master now with every single word you speak. He’ll own your tongue, your body, your life.
If you know you’ve never truly received a heart transplant, would you agree with God about the condition of your wicked heart and ask Him to replace it with His righteous one? If so, He’ll do it immediately!
If, on the other hand, you’ve had a heart transplant but when you take the Are Your Words Nasty or Nice? quiz you still see sin coming out of your mouth, would you:
Confess to God the big ways you’re sinning with your mouth and choose to turn from them.
Ask God how you can begin to store up good treasures in your heart by practicing the opposite of that sinful tendency.For example, if you struggle with lying, ask the person for forgiveness each time you lie to them. Do this until you begin to speak only the truth.Or if you regularly tear others down—even just in your thoughts—begin to intentionally encourage those people.
Share your top struggles and commitments with a friend for prayer and accountability.
Enjoy this lighthearted interview that Brenda from Triple Braided Life did with me.
Brenda: First, tell us a little about yourself – your name, age, where you live, and where you grew up.
Paula:Hey there! I’m Paula Hendricks. If you’d told me as a teen that I’d be 31 and single someday, I think I would’ve said, “Shoot me now!” What a journey it’s been . . .
I live in Michigan (you should too; it’s lovely!). I grew up in the Midwest, surrounded by cornfields (not a fan).
Brenda: Where do you work, and how did you get started in your job?
Paula:I serve as Writing & Editorial Manager at Revive Our Hearts, a women’s ministry calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. I’ve practically grown up here, as I started working at ROH over nine years ago, fresh out of college. It’s a real God-story how He led me here, but unfortunately too lengthy for this post. Ask me about it sometime if we ever meet!
Brenda: Tell us one thing you LOVE about being single and one thing you hate (or your biggest struggle) about being single.
Paula:I love the quiet. “Silence is golden.” It really is.
It’s also nice not to have to wear makeup everyday or worry that my armpits stink or . . . ut-oh. You just asked for one thing. Oh well, that was getting pretty personal anyway.
What I hate: going to church solo on Sundays.
Brenda: Do you ever get mad at God because you are single? When bitterness, discontentment, confusion, and even jealousy creep into your mind, how to you deal with it? Do you have a go-to person or scripture verse or something else that helps?
Paula:When I’m tempted to think wrong thoughts about God, I talk to myself and pray. It usually starts out something like this: “Thank You, God, that You’re not capricious. You aren’t cruel; You’re not trying to tease me. . . .”
Brenda: What is your biggest pet peeve about the way single women are perceived?
Paula:There’s this lie Christians have bought into that if a single woman will just relinquish her strong desire for marriage, then . . . poof! God will give her the gift of marriage. As if we’ve ever earned His gifts . . .
Brenda: Do you struggle with finding community in your local church? How do you find community in a world that seems coupled up?
Paula:If I’m looking for people who are just like me, yes, I struggle. There aren’t many older single females my age left. But if I’m open to God providing community through people who aren’t necessarily in my stage of life, then I realize how incredibly rich I am.
Brenda: Our perception of you is that you are living a fulfilled, purposeful life as a single woman. You’re not waiting around for marriage, but fulfilling God’s call on your life now. What would you say is your secret to doing this?
Paula:Actually, if I weren’t involved in meaningful kingdom work right now, I’d probably be pining away on my couch with a romance novel and a big bag of candy. I’m so grateful God allows us to play a part in advancing His kingdom here on earth. Not only is it crazy adventurous; it’s an awesome antidote to self-pity. You don’t need a public position to do this: volunteer at your church, rake that widow’s leaves, babysit for your neighbors . . . the opportunities are endless.
Brenda: What words of advice do you have for other single women who want to live with purpose now and not wait for marriage to start their lives?
Paula:It’s not original to me, but if you’re not content single, you really won’t be content married. Begin to live fully in the moment. It may seem God isn’t answering your prayers, but He’s not just answering them the way you want. Ask Him to help you see the incredible ways He takes care of and loves you each day!
Brenda: And some fun stuff!
Brenda: Which do you like best – Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest (or all of it!)?
Paula:None of them. I honestly think I belong on the prarie making homemade soap and fighting off wild bears. But since people are on Facebook and Twitter, I’ve caved and joined them. You can find me @PaulaWrites678 and Facebook.com/PaulaWrites678. (The “678” is reminiscent of Romans 6–8 as the truths in those chapters changed everything about me several years ago.)
Brenda: What’s your favorite drink?
Paula:That’s tough. Right now apples are in season, and I have some mean fresh apple cider in my fridge. Yum!
Brenda: Where would you want to live the rest of your life – beach or mountains?
Paula:Beach. I have a dream of owning a house made of sand—well, at least having a bed of sand with sand floors so I’d never need to sweep the sand off my floors.
Brenda: Do you read more fiction or nonfiction?
Paula:Probably more nonfiction, but my true love is fiction. I’m working my way through the classics now; the last one I read was The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Brenda: Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Paula:50/50, according to the tests.
Brenda: What’s something quirky about you?
Paula:I “pluck” (a.k.a. demolish) my bread. I really shouldn’t be allowed out of the house . . .
Brenda: What else do we need to know about you? Where can we connect with you online?
My whole life I’d struggled to defeat the power of sin—with no success. But after I began studying Romans 6–8 with a couple friends, all that changed.
Some of it was old news. You know—Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, died on a cross, was buried in a tomb, rose from the dead three days later, and then went back to heaven. When I was growing up, I’d rehearsed the story every Sunday at the communion table.
But I’d never connected the dots. I’d never understood how these facts about Jesus applied to me—how they changed everything about me.
It wasn’t just Jesus who died—I died with Him. It wasn’t just Jesus who was buried—my old self, packed with sin, was buried with Him, too. And when Jesus burst out of that tomb with brand-new resurrection life, I, too, was given new life! Galatians 2:20 sums it up well:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
For the first time, I understood Jesus didn’t die to forgive me of my sin and leave me in it. He died to forgive and to free me from the power of sin! Suddenly I realized I didn’t have to be jealous of that beautiful woman. I didn’t have to hate that person for excluding me. I wasn’t powerless anymore.
For the first time, I understood that Jesus didn’t die to forgive me of my sin and leave me in it. He died to forgive and to free me from the power of sin!
“We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. . . . So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:6–11).
My New Identity
I realized that I had a new identity now: Dead to sin, alive to God, and in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11). My only job? Believing it to be so and living in light of that truth.
From that point on, I saw God begin to change not only my outward behavior but even the hidden desires of my heart. Whether I actually became a Christian at this time or not, I can’t say. I asked Jesus to save me as a young child, but this was the first time I really understood why the Good News was such good news! This was the beginning of my whole new life.
Your Whole New Life
How about you? Are you “in Christ”? If all your trust is in His righteousness and not yours, the answer is “yes!” Now it’s up to you to remember, believe, and personalize these truths. The old you is dead and buried, you’ve been raised brand-new in Christ! Believe it. Live in light of it.
What about you? Are you looking within, or are you looking to Christ?