Her subject line caught my eye: “I’m so scared, trying to trust God with my love life.” The email continued:
I read the prayer you wrote on page 85 about relinquishing your desire to be married to God. That scared . . . me. I know what I’m doing isn’t working, but I’m so afraid that if I give God control, He’ll keep me single forever, and my one true desire is to share my life with someone.
I’d love your prayers as I read your book (got it today). I’m trying to trust God with my love life and am so afraid to pray the bold prayers you mention. I do know I need to take a break from dating for a while until I can truly feel God’s love for me and learn to love and respect myself. Thank you for writing it!
God Most High, thank You that You’re committed to giving me Yourself. You don’t want me to find my happiness—nor can I—with anyone or anything less than You. Why do I think I know better than You what I need? I’m miserable in my strivings and resistance against You. Give me the gift of repentance.
I confess my lust toward men and relinquish to You the desire, need, and hope of marriage. I’m sorry for living for guys rather than for You. Break me over this sin, God.
I seem to think my Creator, Father, and King is acting foolishly. I think I deserve more, that I’m pretty good. Who am I comparing myself to, God? Certainly not You. My heart is cold toward You. I want to be in control of my own life. I don’t want You to be Lord of my life—I just want to use You to make me look good.
God, I step down from the throne of my life and invite—no, plead—with You to assume Your rightful place as Lord, as Boss. Forgive me. Thank You that You have.
Take my love, Lord, even though it is barely alive, and fan it into flame for You.
I may have written that prayer, but I get the struggle to be okay with singleness. I really do. It took years of pain and desperation before I was finally willing to pray this “bold” prayer.
I had the same fear she did—that if I chose to trust God with my love life, He would take my surrender as an irretrievable permission slip to withhold my greatest desire from me.
Whether you “give” God permission to be in control of your life or not, He is.
Is that a legitimate fear? Let’s take a closer at her email and explore these fears, shall we? She wrote, “I’m so afraid that if I give God control . . .” This overlooks the fact that God already is in control. Whether you “give” God permission to be in control of your life or not, He is. There is nothing in this universe He does not rule and reign over.
The LORD kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s,
and on them he has set the world (1 Sam. 2:6–8).
Thankfully for us, we don’t serve a cruel God with a sick, twisted sense of humor who takes delight in giving us what we hate. Matthew 7:9–11 tells us just the opposite:
“Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Being in a relationship isn’t a “right” and being single isn’t an accident.
So what does that mean if you don’t yet have what you want? I love how Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth talks about it in Singled Out for Him. She points out that being in a relationship isn’t a “right” and being single isn’t an accident. According to 1 Corinthians 7, both singleness and marriage (the closest human relationship possible) are gifts from a good God who only gives good gifts to His kids. Each gift is to be 1) received with thankfulness and 2) used to bring Him glory. If you are not currently in a committed relationship with a godly guy, you can know that at least for now, it would not be a “good thing” for you.
But don’t take my word for it. (Or Nancy’s.)
Get to know God yourself. You cannot trust someone you do not know.
It’s one thing to hear someone else say God can be trusted with your love life and another altogether to get to know Him until you know that you know that for yourself. Be patient; it’ll be a process. But do pursue Him each and every day. If you’re not sure how to do that, start here.
“My one true desire is to share my life with someone.” It’s a perfectly natural desire to share your life with someone, but is that your one-desire-to-rule-them-all? What are you willing to sacrifice or do for this desire to come true? Do you love the idea of being in love with a man more than you love the Maker of man? If so, you can expect God’s wrath.
The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men . . . For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they . . . exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! (Rom. 1:18–24).
If your desires are more dear to you than God Himself, repent over your misplaced worship.
“He’ll keep me single forever” overlooks the fact that marriage—the most intimate, lifelong, love commitment a human can make—is just a faint reflection of the more wonderful, forever relationship we will have with Christ. He is using this life to prepare us to be His pure, spotless bride. This sentiment shows a very limited view of the here and now at the expense of forever.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:31–32).
As you think about your desire for a romantic relationship, are you focused on living for yourself or for your Creator?
“I’m so afraid.” Three times in her email this woman admitted she was “scared” and “so afraid.” She also said she needed to take a break from dating until she had a grip on God’s love for her. I think she’s on the right track. First John 4:18 says:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Let His unmatched love drive away your fears.
You are perfectly loved by a perfect God; own this. You can know God loves you—not because He gives you everything you want right when you want it, but because He gave up His beloved Son to absorb the righteous wrath of the Father that you deserved for your sin. Let His unmatched love drive away your fears.
How about you? Do you trust God to do a better job than you can with your love life? If not, what can you do today to grow your trust in Him?
I have feelings for a guy friend. Feelings that I’ve asked God to take away from me several times, but for whatever reason, He has not. Why did God give me feelings I didn’t ask for? And what does He want me to do?
Short answer: I don’t think He did give you feelings for this guy.
I’m not sure where we got this notion that it’s God’s fault if we feel something we don’t want to feel. James 1:13–15 says:
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Yes, God gave us the capacity to feel, because He made us in His image, and He feels deeply. But I don’t believe He feeds specific feelings into our hearts, like we’d feed a gum ball machine with quarters.
Our feelings ultimately stem from what we’re thinking and believing. Rather than asking God to take away your feelings, examine them the way you’d carefully examine your reflection in the mirror before leaving for school:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:2, emphasis added).
God doesn’t give us our feelings; but we are wise to give our feelings to God. We see the psalmist doing this over and over in the book of Psalms. He pours out his feelings to God, and then he holds his feelings up to the truth of who God is and compares the two.
So the next time you want to blame God for your feelings, first ask yourself:
When did I start to feel this way? What led me to feel this way?
What am I thinking and believing that is contributing to this feeling?
How do my feelings line up with God’s truth? What does God’s Word have to say about what I’m feeling?
Then bring your feelings to God, taking them to His Word and placing them before Him in prayer.
Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear from you. Do you believe that God is responsible for your feelings? Why or why not?
Someone asked me if I’d write about my journey from “boy-crazy to my man.” (If you haven’t heard, I’m getting married!)
I didn’t respond to this person’s request for a while, because I was hesitant to share my “love story.” Not because I’m not excited. Boy howdy, I am!
It’s just that I remember all too well how I used to ask married and engaged couples, “How did you get together?!” I’d lean in, soaking in every word, listening attentively to learn the secret.
As they’d share the details of their story, my hopes would rise or fall based on how similar my current circumstances were to theirs (as if God only has one love story script!).
That’s why I want to be careful about how I share this story with you. I don’t want you to hear, “I finally got a guy who stuck around . . . so surely there’s hope for you!”
‘Cause speaking of hope . . . I’ve noticed that lots of you are struggling not to give up hope.
Emily titled her email to me, “Is there any hope at all?” Here’s an excerpt:
My single girlfriends and I grew up in wonderful Christian homes where strong godly marriages were modeled, and we grew up dreaming of being wives and moms someday. We never dated around or tried to attract attention to ourselves and have even been told by lots of people that they don’t understand why we are still single. Neither do we!
I think the reason that we still struggle with boy-craziness is simply out of desperation. It’s not like we each have a hoard of guys hovering around us, and we just have to pick one. Nope, there really aren’t any guys—at all.
So whenever there is the smallest inkling of hope, we promptly do the “spiritual” thing and start praying for him every day, conniving ways to be where he is and give him a chance to observe us in a group setting, and get our hopes up . . . only to be disappointed when there really wasn’t much of anything there in the first place. It’s terrible.
Emily says it’s terrible because there are two kinds of hope—and she has the wrong kind.
I realized that there are two kinds of hope the day I read 1 Peter 1. Check out verses three and thirteen:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . .
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
As I read about the “living hope” we have because Christ has been raised from the dead, I realized that there are also “dead hopes.”
And although I’m commanded to “set my hope fully on the grace that will be mine when Jesus returns for me,” I realize that much of the time I set my hope on so much less: a relationship or success or [fill in the blank].
There is hope—not because you’re currently surrounded by hoards of Christian guys (or even one!), not because you’re the most beautiful girl in your circle of friends (or a close second!)—but because Jesus Christ is returning for you, and you will live forever with Him.
There is hope. But there are two kinds: the dead kind and the living kind. Which kind do you have? (You’ll know by thinking about what sends your emotions soaring . . . or plummeting.) What specifically are you setting your hope on? I’d love to hear.
If you can see that yours is a dead hope, dig into 1 Peter 1. As you do, ask God to lift your eyes from your present situation to Him. Repent of (turn from) your dead hopes, and ask Him to help you begin to set your hope fully on Christ, your Living Hope.
Apparently I’m not the only one who has wondered how God can satisfy when all I want is a pair of strong arms to hold me close. Here’s what Rebecca wrote me:
“The biggest thing I think my crush can give me that God can’t is his strong arms wrapped around me. Although my crush has yet to hold me in his arms, his physical closeness sends shivers throughout my body. I know that God is always there for me . . . but sometimes my feelings get the better of me, and all I want to do is be wrapped up in my crush’s arms and attention.”
“I think what always gets me is that God isn’t physically there like a guy is. He can’t wrap his arms around me. Sometimes I just want that.”
And finally, Isabella said:
“I have often thought, I wish God could come down here and give me a big bear hug. Then I would really be in love with Him.”
But here’s the thing . . . He has come down! And while He was here, He picked up kids and cradled them in His arms. (You have to admit, that shows a tender heart—few guys walk around doing the same thing!)
I know He’s not physically here now. That’s the whole “we walk by faith and not by sight” deal. Like 1 Peter 1:8 says,
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.”
But one day soon, we will see Him. We will be with Him.
When Christ comes again to “marry” the Church, His Bride, He will likely hold us too. I don’t know this for sure, but here’s what 1 Corinthians 13:13 does say:
“Now we see in a mirror, but then, face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
Now that is something to look forward to! Jesus Christ is not an idea; He is a Person. A Divine Person with arms and legs and beautiful probing eyes. He loves you. Enough to spread His arms wide in order to bleed so you might be healed. And if you have put your trust in His death and resurrection on your behalf, you will soon see and know Him fully.
If you have put your trust in Christ’s death and resurrection on your behalf, you will soon see and know Him fully.
So in the meantime, as you wait for Him, by all means, hug! No, not your crush. Hug your dad. Hug your mom. Hug your brothers and sisters. Hug your friends. Hug those old ladies at church.
And as you wait on your forever Bridegroom, watch out that you don’t make the same mistake God’s people made years ago, when they rejected God for a man they could see and touch. (You can read that story in 1 Samuel 8 and 12:19.)
Now I’d love to hear from you. Are you in danger of deciding God is not enough for you because He isn’t here to hug you right this second? Tell me about it (and more importantly, talk to Him about it!).
One Valentine’s Day when I was a teen, my boyfriend gave me a little teddy bear and a paperweight that said “Sweetheart” on it. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!
Maybe you wish your crush would give you a teddy bear, but you’re happy that he gave you a piece of gum once, or that he let you drink some of his pop. You’re thrilled that your crush gave you anything at all!
Well, have you ever stopped to think about what Christ has given you?
I’d love to hear from you. What has your crush given you? What has Christ given you? And what are you looking to your crush to give you that Jesus Christ can’t give to you?
I’m so grateful for all of you who left me a comment telling me what you like about your crush. You girls are suckers for eyes! Some of you think brown is gorgeous, some of you prefer blue, but almost all of you are drawn in by them.
Well, if you think your crush’s eyes are magnetic, you should see Christs’ . . . and you will! Learn more here:
Oh, and if you want to learn more about what I shared, here are some great passages to look up:
Everyone knows girls like mysterious guys. There’s something thrilling about not being able to quite figure them out.
But have you ever thought about how the same is true of Christ? If you wanna talk about mysterious . . .
After you’ve watched this video, I’d love to hear from you. What do you think about the mysteriousness of your crush and the mysteriousness of Christ? Do you think you could ever fully know and understand your crush? Will you ever fully know and understand Christ? Does this fact make you want to pursue getting to know Him more or less through His Word?