Looking Deeper & Finding Courage

Dear Fast Pray-ers,

A reminder:  we are praying for marriage for those who are designed for it and courage for men and women to become all of who God has created us to be.  And as we pray, perhaps consider….

For almost a year, I’ve been slowly going through a devotional about hope.  Most recently, I’ve liked its focus on “resurrection.”  Jesus was the first to be resurrected, and his new body is simply the firstfruits of what is to come for all who are in Him.  Fast forward to the reflection section at the end of this week’s devotional.  The author asks: “Which areas of your current life do you fear are dead?  Where do you need to see the power of the resurrection demonstrated?” (because though the real deal is still come, we get tastes of new life in this earthly one)?  What would your answers be?  My answers went something like this.  “I need your power…

  • to arouse more of a passion in me for You
  • to generate intimacy in my life as the woman you created me to be, a woman building bridges between people & God, caring about community, & fanning hope in the resurrection that begins now and will one day be a done deal.”

Then I wrote, a little tentatively:

Who I am

Who I aim to be right now.

“I believe that I am a woman shaped like this” (see immediately to the right, and please forgive the sketching; this is just straight from my notebook!):

I continued jotting notes into my prayer journal…

“And yet, Lord, I fear the hope might die (and sometimes I wonder if it should) that maybe I could be connected to a man, like this…”

picture 2

Who I'd really like to be.

(see to the right, again):

“God,” I continued, “I do still desire this.  But this often feels impossible to me.  Please change my desire if this is not of you, not the best.  But in the meantime, I’m going to ask, listen, obey, work, and hope in this direction.”

Now I knew as I wrote this that this was not a new prayer, nor one unique to me.  It’s a “single woman, 101” kind of prayer, which I ‘m starting to feel too old to pray.  And yet as I prayed it, as I have done many times before, I found a strange sort of freedom run through me.  I recognized the growing freedom to own desires for which–when I survey the landscape, my history, and the choices available to me–I can’t see a path to realization.

So much of my life is built around what I think I see, what I can envision, and what, as a result, I can at least try to make happen.  But as Larry Crabb says:  “the things we desire the most, we control the least.”   He’s right.

Strangely, though, the more I get a hold of the fact that the resurrection is real, that Jesus really did rise from the DEAD and that he one day will remake all things as they should be….the more I find courage to name the places where I long to see his resurrection power shine today.  He may or may not turn a dead-like area into life.  I know that.  But I can ask–and I encourage you to ASK–boldly.  For if he says no, it is okay.  The ultimate YES to our deepest desires is coming–it is just a matter of time; Jesus’ resurrection is the guarantee.

So this week, keep offering your desires to the Lord.  His power is at work.

Connally

 

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29 Responses to Looking Deeper & Finding Courage

  1. janakaye says:

    Dear Connally,

    thanks for this post. My younger sister got engaged this weekend. This was not a surprise, but it did cause in me the erupting fear of change and loss that it usually does to some extent, compounded by our closeness and the fact that in every other similar situation, my sister and I have weathered the storm together. We were bridesmaids in two weddings of younger friends just last year.

    I had to wrestling with God about this (not the first time, and I’m sure not the last.). After hours of journaling ranging from despair to anguish to self-blame to rage, I wondered out loud who I would be if I never marry. I said it to myself that which I have never been able to say before. ( I don’t mean I have given it up just like that, that’s going to be a daily struggle and decision, always) And as soon as I said it, I felt lighter. Much lighter.

    It was like this kind of feeling, as you put it : “I recognized the growing freedom to own desires for which–when I survey the landscape, my history, and the choices available to me–I can’t see a path to realization.”

    I know that I will still wrestle with God over these desires. I know I will still (and do) feel lonely, sometimes hurt, and wonder at the justice of it, and I know that those desires to be called to companionship are always going to have a hold on me. The assurance doesn’t come from being assured that I will always be complacent about this life I am called to, in fact I couldn’t begin to tell you where it comes from.

    It’s a weird balance…owning the desire and giving it up at the same time.

    Thanks for writing (and I loved the sketches).

    • fast. pray. says:

      Yes, I feel you. And maybe one way to reframe it is to think of desire not as something we hold on to or give up, but rather we hold onto with open hands–neither clutching nor casting aside. I know, I know–it’s easier said than done. But I do think it’s a wonderful way to live life–really, married or single, with or without children….I think it’s really the way of faith!
      Well, blessings to you, Connally

      • janakaye says:

        Yes, the way of faith. And I was so distraught for a long time because I was thinking of it as the way of doubt…something was wrong with me! I’m learning that doubt is really connected to faith…Paradox.

        thanks again, Connally.

  2. Melody says:

    “The things we desire the most, we control the least” was something that hit home for me! I had an interesting experience this week when I went to a ballet of new works (very exciting!). Through the dancing I saw a sense of “struggle” and “breaking through”. Being a dancer myself I really appreciate this form of expression and often get a lot from it. I all of a sudden started thinking of brokenness in our world, things that God grieves over and realized that he grieves over the this desire of mine to be with a partner that is not fulfilled. That there are things that may never be fulfilled here on earth for me in my lifetime but will be fulfilled when Christ returns. It was a wonderful encouragement to me and a great illustration through dance..

  3. Kristen Joy says:

    Thanks for saying, “The ultimate YES to our deepest desires is coming–it is just a matter of time; Jesus’ resurrection is the guarantee.” This is very encouraging. It is so much better than hearing that I should have faith that God will give me a husband. God may or may not give me a husband, but He will definitely fulfill my deepest desires. And, thank you for pointing out that this ultimate fulfillment is to come. Whether single or married, we’re all waiting for this.

  4. Emma says:

    What a great post! Thanks for writing it (and your drawings are cute!)- I very much related to the feeling of praying at “Single Woman, 101” level, as that’s where I feel I am back to, too. But I thinking now that maybe that’s what God is requiring at the moment for me, to pray humbly knowing that there is nothing I can do, it’s only something He can do. I feel like I’m asking as a child, asking Abba to reach something for me, because I am too small. And you’re right, there’s such a freedom in that I never expected.

  5. halennox says:

    Thank you. Truly. Sometimes the desire DOES feel hopeless. Thank you for the encouragement to press on.

  6. Heidi says:

    Con-as always, this is good stuff. Thanks for doing the hard work of hoping and working at hoping and talking about working at hoping. It is an encouragement to me and many.

  7. Kirsten says:

    Thanks, Connally, for reminding me that it’s okay to own and claim my desires, even though I don’t yet know where they’ll lead. After reading this I feel more empowered to be all of myself under God’s good protection.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Amen–we can name those desires….and not run from them….even if we don’t know where they’ll lead. I was smiling to myself thinking how sometimes I feel like I might be Sarah–sort of a delayed receiver of God’s promise. Other times I fear that I’ll end up as one of those folks in Hebrews–sawed in half! But most of the time I realize that I’m Connally, who is called simply to go one day at a time, with Him, for the purposes He has revealed as of today. So yes, be you, under Him. Amen!

  8. Neelam says:

    Thanks Connally. Really needed to hear your timely words. Echo the posts here about how appreciated you are b/c you are willing to be transparent. That means so much. Thank you!!

  9. Kristin says:

    Oh Connally the Lord had you write exactly what I needed to hear this week. Thank you.

  10. Lyn says:

    I too have read your book and found it so helpful in coming to grips with this struggle. Thank you Connally for being so open and sharing your struggles. I too have brought this issue of protracted singleness over and over again to the Lord, and like you I am starting to wish he would take away this desire because it can be, and has been quite damaging to the rest of my walk with the Lord.

    Overall, the perspective I am starting to get is that we are part of an immense spiritual battle. Right now, the ‘family’ is under attack. Satan is using immorality in a masterstroke to not only destroy families from within, but to even prevent them from starting in the first place. Divide and conquer. If all of us are alone, it is more difficult to withstand the onslaught of the secular world. I can see this happening today in my immediate circle of friends and family. The Wall Street Journal had an excellent article in Saturday’s edition about Gray Divorce. Many people are buying into the idea that life is about ‘fulfillment’ and ditching 30+ year marriages in their pursuit of happiness and greener grass.

    If the Devil can get all of us thinking about what we’re missing in life, we can get angry and bitter. I speak here from my own experience. If we get derailed long enough, he has disarmed our ministry as Christians. This issue of protracted singleness is, I believe, part of the overall spiritual attack against the family in this generation. We all need prayer and fasting just to avoid despair in this larger battle. Please don’t lose heart. God Bless you sister.

    • fast. pray. says:

      So glad that the book was an encouragement to you. That was my hope when I wrote it. That somehow people would see themselves, and God’s hand, in the story I told.

      As well, yes, definitely–we are part of a much bigger battle/issue/struggle. All this unintentional singleness is what we might call the ‘casualties’ of this cultural chaos. Who would have ever predicted that a culture’s making sex ‘casual’ would generate so many casualties?! And yet really, we’re not casualties–because our Hope isn’t ultimately in marriage/family (as much as I believe that those are good things to shoot for) it’s in the God whose Spirit indwells us for his purposes. So, yep, I’m going to keep on laying out my heart before this God who loves me enough to indwell me. I’m going to own, name, and offer up my desires. But I’m also going to keep operating with the head and heart knowledge alike that the story is about so much more than me. That reailty, actually, is integral to my not losing heart–recognizing that I’m loved and paid attention to by the God of the universe, but that His purposes in, through, and beyond my life are actually bigger than I am! And I get to join with him to bear seriously important fruit, regardless of what chaos or battles I find myself in. I LOVE this this far bigger picture.

      Blessings, Connally

  11. Kerri says:

    Hi Connelly — what’s the name of the devotion you are reading? I’ve been looking for something … Thanks!

    • fast. pray. says:

      It’s called “The One Year book of Hope” by Nancy Guthrie. It’s targeted, essentially, to people who have suffered great loss–death primarily, but any kind of loss (a marriage, a dream, a job, etc.). There are some parts I’d perhaps shift up if I had written it, but on the whole it’s so solid, and Nancy, who wrote it is the real deal. She has lived what she is writing.

  12. Lauren Petters says:

    Thank YOU for your courage to generously share your heart. I’m constantly encouraged each week by these posts. Helps me to feel not so alone in the struggle.

    • fast. pray. says:

      That’s great–thanks for letting me know! And you are not alone. Jesus is actually real, sent by the Father and now revealed through the Spirit. Seriously. I forget that. But it’s true. And it’s a deep encouragement to my soul (in addition to having far greater implications than simply the ones that involve me). Many Blessings, Connally

  13. Julie says:

    Very timely encouragement. Thanks so much.

  14. Elise says:

    Connally, I love your posts. I read your book a few years ago and I wrote to you. At the time I was in Africa and was working with a missions organization. But when I thought I was single for life this guy show up out of nowhere and I really thought my single days were over and never answered your e-mail. Well, turns out they were far from over.
    I still love your book and your honesty. I think your posts are my favorites and I love when you write. Thank you for modeling vulnerability to me. Lots of blessings to you!

    • fast. pray. says:

      Thanks! I’m learning that really, the story in this life is never over. But I am so glad that in the end, the good guys win! That reality is truly good news.

  15. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for this. I needed encouragement toward courage to pray for another week when the last few weeks have seemed to add fuel to the fire of hopelessness. Yet, He remains able!

  16. smvernalis says:

    Conn–
    I love these diagrams! Love, love, LOVE them! Thanks for being so honest about all this. (And I heard the most amazing “God knows the depths of my heart and he gave me a man who listens to Him” story this weekend that I’ll tell you later!)
    xoxo

    • fast. pray. says:

      thanks sue! i felt a little nervous putting my little journal drawings into the post, but hey….it is what it is! will look forward to hearing your story….connally

      • Susan says:

        It is what it is… Such a Colorado saying. ;). Rejoicing today that it will be what it will be. And I loved the drawings too! The whole picture that is you. Well said woman. You are a blessing.

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