A reminder that tomorrow we will commit to praying and fasting for God to bring marriage to those of us who desire it, to strengthen both men and women in their personal and relational lives, and to bring change within our hearts, minds, and spirits.
I’ve been sitting here now for about five minutes, trying to think of how to start this blog post. Well, really I’ve been thoughtfully considering the lovely image of Jeremy Renner on my Mac desktop, but I digress. Anna’s beautiful writing last weekend on shame and singleness got me thinking of how often I’ve experienced the exact same lies in my own head. And as I continued to reflect, I started to realize that shame doesn’t just show up when I’m single. It also shows up on the rare occasions when I’m dating.
In the last six weeks I’ve started seeing someone. He is wonderful: Smart, creative, laid-back, happy, and most importantly possesses a gentle, kind heart that makes me feel cared for and secure.
At the same time, he is not actively pursuing a relationship with God.
In fairness, a conversation on one of our early dates revealed a faith foundation in his youth that has since gone by the wayside, and he acknowledges a belief in God and Jesus. But he wrestles with the evangelical church and doesn’t currently show a huge desire to grow in whatever faith is there. Whether this is something that might change is uncertain. And in light of the precarious situation this presents, I’ve continued to date him.
WOOOSHHHH!!!! That, my friends, is the sound of shame blowing in and overtaking me.
I’m not sure how many of you have ever found yourselves in a similar situation or carried similar feelings. For me the shame leads to other feelings: betrayal (I’m betraying Jesus), distance (I can’t come before God the way I normally do for fear that I’m wrong in my choice to date this person), and rejection (God can’t love me as much or in the same way as before.).
We could spend a lot of time going back and forth about whether my decision to date this person is right or wrong. Honestly, I spend a lot of time thinking about that myself. But today what I’d rather focus on is the difficult truth that no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to internalize that God’s love for me never changes, whether I’m dating the most spiritual man in the world or someone who doesn’t acknowledge that He exists. It is just impossible for my mind to fathom. Of course it also extends beyond my dating life and into other areas such as when I don’t spend enough time with God or choose to skip church or yell at people who are going too slow on the freeway. Ding! There’s the shame and the subsequent (mis)perception of being rejected by God.
But, in the spirit of Anna’s post, this misperception of God’s love shifting and changing simply is not true. It’s another lie designed to pull us away from the safe, secure arms of the Father, which is exactly where we need to be in order to hear and receive His wisdom regarding what’s best for us.
As believers we should always seek to live a life worthy of the glory of Christ and His kingdom, while at the same time recognizing that our fallen nature won’t let us do so without a healthy dose of messiness. And it might just be that our shame shows up in these messy moments, trying to punish us away from the healing love of Christ that always quietly whispers, “I love you…I love you…I love you. I love you anyway, fully, completely, perfectly, and that will never, ever change from now until eternity.”
As we prepare to fast and pray this Monday, I’d invite us all to first take a moment and meditate on the truth (and challenge) of God’s unchanging love, and how in doing so our shame might lighten enough to draw us more securely into His arms.