Better Things Ahead.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. -John 14:27

This is post #53, meaning it’s been over a year since I started this little thing. Yet, I’m kind of in the same position I was fifty-three posts ago:

Long story short, for reasons that God knows, a friendship with which I’ve been abundantly blessed did not develop into a romantic relationship. For his comfort and privacy, that’s all I’m going to broadcast.

So, here I am again, a mix of sad and disappointed, staring at the rest of my life, wondering what the heck is out there. It feels a little like I’ve taken 53 steps back.

But man, oh, man, am I leaps and bounds ahead. I am unrecognizably different. Yes, I’m faced with this void, and I’m still terrified, angry, anxious, and sad. Yet, all I know is that I can’t be afraid to start over. I can’t be afraid to face this, because God has shown me time and again that He is with me and He has GOT this. He tells me not to worry. He tells me every day. I just need to listen, and do what I can to smile at the future (Proverbs 31:25).

Like I said in a previous post, I gave that relationship a roaring good shot, whether or not it would work out how I would have expected. I did my part. God will more than sufficiently do His.

 

And on that note, it feels like time for me to call it a year and conclude this blog. Though it feels like I could, sometimes, I always knew I couldn’t write forever. Thank you all so, so, so much for sticking with me, for reading, for reaching out to me, for encouraging me all this time.

It is so funny how God works. He uses the most unexpected things to touch others. This silly little blog brought me in contact with people I’ve never met before, with sides of friends I’ve never seen, and with lessons I didn’t know I desperately needed to learn. I will never be able to thank God enough for giving me this thing, this thing that I never expected to change my life in so many different ways. God works mysteriously, that is for gurtdern sure.

For one thing, my first post wasn’t an introduction; it was a cry out to God. I wrote that I was “praying for every word I typed”—yeah, no, I wasn’t. I wanted to, I wanted to WANT to, and with time, God answered the prayer I didn’t know I prayed. He took over this thing without me realizing it. Thank GOD. I thought that when I found my future husband, my life would finally begin. God showed me that my life had started two decades ago and it was about time I started living it for Him.

(Also, just to emphasize what a dumb-dumb I was, I kissed some guy abScreen Shot 2014-10-16 at 9.43.05 PMout two weeks into my “purposeful singleness.” I thought I’d be ashamed to write that, but I’m not, because I have so much more strength now than I had then, and I know that’s not the same “me.”)

The “me” I am now is still under construction—God didn’t stop after He knit me in my mother’s womb. The end of this blog does not mean the end of the wait of my world. Still waiting for Christ, still growing to know and love Him, and that will just continue, come future, come husband, come family, come (literally) God-knows-what, until He brings me home.

If you need encouragement or have any questions or anything at all for me, find me on Facebook: Grace Claire Schneider. Send me a message, please.

Of course, God is way easier to get ahold of, so talk to God for encouragement, too. He’s Who I go to anyways.

With the utmost, craziest, sincerest, God-given gratitude,

Grace

 

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Readiness.

(Gracious thank you to mi amigo, Ricardo, for being this week’s, and my last, guest author.)

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. -Psalm 39:7

My name is Ricardo and my hope is that in sharing my story of waiting for “the one” you’ll be able to relate to it and take with you some of the lessons that I learned. That is my prayer for you.

“Do you have a girlfriend?” This is the reoccurring question ln my life, especially with my family. With the pressure from both my family and culture to be in a relationship, it was easy for me to adopt ‘finding a spouse’ as the purpose of my life. Instead of the purpose that God gave me, to know and love Him, I let myself be formed by ‘waiting for the one.’ In other words, I let the good get in the way of the best.

My perspective of finding a spouse shaped the way that I lived my life. Instead of listening to God’s voice I was telling Him what I wanted. Instead of developing healthy friendships all my interactions were consumed with whether the person was the one or could help me meet the one. I was so focused on not wanting to miss the one God has planned for me that I wasn’t learning to stand on my own two feet. In essence I was being counter-productive in finding the one. I was not ready.

If Christianity can be summed up in one word I would say that it is ‘readiness.’ Our lives should be lived in such a way that the end goal, heaven, is shaping all of our interactions. When I started to let my life be shaped by God’s They-left-everything-and-followed-himpurpose, big things started changing inside of me. Before, I had been telling God that I wanted a spouse and what I wanted in a spouse. Now, I realize that I was skipping a couple of steps: I learned that I needed to listen to God’s voice first. Hear where He wanted me to go in life, and how He wanted me to live it. I needed to discern my vocation, to listen to Him intently.

Another lesson God painfully taught me was learning to relate to people in healthy ways. Before, I felt that in my friendships I had a secret agenda and all I was doing was building walls between me and other folks. Walls that didn’t allow for true, deep friendships to develop. God taught me that friendships are essential to our Christian walk. They are the ones that God uses to sustain you, comfort you, and encourage you. Once I cut out my secret agenda my friendships started to flourish.

Lastly, God taught me to stand on my own two feet. As a guy I’ve known the expectations is always to provide and protect. Instead of learning disciplines to be able to handle more responsibilities I was too focused on spending my time and effort in being places where I could run into my future spouse. I’ve shifted my focus to working towards my career and learning to be more independent. Scripture tells us Ephesians 4:28 that a man should learn to work to provide for himself and to share with others. I feel like I still have a long ways to go in this area, but I can tell you that this discipline has yielded great rewards which have overflowed to other areas of my life.

By allowing my hope of finding a spouse to replace my purpose of knowing and loving God I was doing the opposite of what I was called to do. That is to be ready. To be ready to answer God’s call, to be ready to go where God leads me, to help those God puts in my life, to be ready to take up my cross and follow Him to the ends of the earth if need be.

That has been the biggest revelation in my life. Life will never be perfect and my life is far from it, but by knowing my purpose and being ready I’ve allowed God to bring fulfillment in my life. Whether God calls me to be a priest, to be single, or to be a husband, He wants me to know that the only life worth living is a life lived for Him.

Best of Intentions.

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts frotumblr_ly2rj0sV3D1r2csu6o1_500m many hearts may be revealed. -Luke 2:34

The name of the game is intentionality. As I come to the end of this year, I can’t begin to explain how much I’ve changed, but for simplicity’s sake, I’ve at least found a thesis statement for the attitude I’ve taken towards dating: be intentional. By that, I mean CARE about consequences; have a purpose in mind. Have intention.

Instead of spending all this time and emotion crushing on every cute face I see, I try to gently swat away the little pink hearts flowing around my head. If he’s been blessed in the face department, awesome, but it doesn’t make sense to dwell on it and end up feeling rejected (like I always do).

Instead of texting guys shallowly for extended periods of time, so we base our compatibility over the types of emojis we use, I’ll ask him to call me, or to write me a letter. Let’s really get to know each other.

Instead of dating for the sake of having someone to kiss sometimes, I’m looking to date someone who I can kiss…well, for the rest of my life.

Instead of wearing “whatever I want,” I try (and admittedly, struggle) to think of the consequences: a distracted new father or a struggling husband,  and a negative perception and disrespect of my personhood. I am the proverbial “strong, independent woman,” and dressing like one means dressing modestly: letting my personality be the attention-getter and not basing my worth on other’s opinions of my body.

Instead of being in situations where I might send either myself or another mixed signals–say, late night movies with a guy I “only see as a friend”–I tend to be upfront with my intentions, at the risk of being awkward but attempting to avoid worse in the future.

Let me take my “intentionality” and zoom out to the big picture. Look, no matter which way you slice it, our life is a blip in history. It is the longest thing we will ever do and it is STILL so, so short. Some people might use that as a reason to go about life purposelessly (“you only live once,” right?). Yet, if anything, it should be a reason to try to have a reason behind everything you do, because don’t have time to waste. If God judges us on our intentions., our life should be intentional. At the end of this life, what is more important than knowing what we’ve been living for?

Dear Someone, Someday.

(Bear-sized thanks to my friend-might-as-well-be-sister Sarah Harpring for being my guest author this week.)

Dear No One,

There’s this little acronym a dearest friend of mine told me in the past that is a great foundation for everything. FROG. Fully rely on God. In anything and everything. Because you honestly cannot fully rely on anyone else. For the sake of this blog, fully rely on God for your future. And more specifically, your future someone.

Also, this post is inspired by this wonderful song by Tori Kelly, from which I will be drawing a few points.

When the time is right, “God will give him to me someday.” Sometimes we just want somebody to hold, and that’s okay, that’s a natural instinct put there by God Himself. That being said, we need to honor Him. Wait for what He wants for us, follow His will for us, because when we do, I promise you, you will feel the greatest capacity of fulfillment.1535684_10203187984886351_441268123_n

“So if you’re out there I swear to be good to you.” Some thoughts to consider. Are you being good to them? Are you constantly trying to better yourself for them? Are you honoring them and God with your present actions?

Dear No One, not because I’ve given up on finding someone, but because I don’t need to worry about it because I’ve given it up to God. He is in control. Put God first and everything else that is good will follow. Focus on bettering yourself and your relationship with God to prepare for your future someone. And with that, life will be changed for the better. I can honestly say that I have gotten closer to God, that I’ve been MUCH happier, and that life in general just goes smoother for me now that I make sure I put Him first in all that I do. We are truly all called to do that. Our purpose on earth is to do God’s will and to glorify Him in doing so. If you are called to marriage, I promise you, God will give him/her to you someday and it will indeed be worth the wait. Why? Because, FROG.

Not a Spirit of Fearfulness.

For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline. -2 Timothy 1:7

The reason I’ve been documenting weekly for the past year is to give some perspective and encouragement to anyone who might be facing the same kind of dissatisfaction I found with the typical dating scene. Relationships seemed to come about a couple of ways: either things were backwards, getting physical first and THEN trying to explore mutual interests and life goals, OR things were all over the place, leaving compatibility up to chance and just “dating around” aimlessly.

Both seemed to lead to nothing but bruised hearts and exhausted emotions. That is something I was trying to avoid. My romantic past is filled with drama. No, thank you. 

At first, I never thought I’d be able to go any amount of time without wanting a relationship. Now, almost a year later, I freak out when I think about entering the dating scene again. Alas, who knew that taking careful steps to raise your standards exponentially, control your thoughts, guard your heart, realign your priorities, gain a healthy sense of self-worth, and to fall in love with God and learn to depend fully on Him would STILL leave you uncertain of yourself?

Not me. I thought I had it all figured out. I’ve totally changed how I think about relationships with1978681_668403749892511_7769443604077173720_n others and God. But I still fear for my little heart.

I’m scared I’m going to mess up, choose the wrong guy at the wrong time, get all tangled up in something that’s not going to work out, and end up right back where I started. Didn’t I have this all calculated? This is the wait of my world, isn’t it?

My mom has always said about everything: “Do the best that you can. That’s all you can do.” I was always supposed to hope, but never supposed to insist that the next guy I date would be The One. Because, well, I’ve realized that the wait of my world is Christ. It’s Him. It always has been, I just hadn’t realized it.

So I’ve been waiting on Him, pining for Him, falling for Him. I’ve pursued God instead, and I swear it happened without me even realizing it (Isaiah 55:8-9). I have changed so much. Just…so much. I am so much happier, so much more motivated, so much more satisfied with life. Thank God.

And since I’ve realized this over the past year, whatever relationship I find myself in next, however it ends, will certainly be a roaring good shot. That’s something I shouldn’t be afraid of.

 

And PLEASE let me know if you want to be a guest author about Christ-pursuing singleness OR relationships. I’d love for your voice to be heard (or read) so you can encourage others and be encouraged in return!

 

In Times of Desolation.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. -James 4:8

In day-to-day life, it is inevitable that we experience highs and lows. It is no different in our faith life—in fact, it is closely intertwined. When my life takes a turn for the amazing, when everything is in its place, when it’s all finally settled and in control, I feel like God is smiling down on me. All is well.

And then something happens. I forget to save that file. The plans that I had fell through. A tragedy shakes my foundations. Where’s God now?

Sometimes, even during bright, sunny periods of life, I don’t feel in touch with God. But usually, there is something in particular, something ugly, that makes me feel as if I’m far away from Him.

It’s called desolation. It’s like I’m sitting in the middle of a desert with no water in sight. Or, really, like I’m sitting in the pew, but I’m made of plastic, going through the motions, but remaining rigid and unaffected. It’s not wrong or uncommon by far. Even Mother Teresa wrote that she felt spiritually dry for years.tumblr_m5ptz7otd81qzjqrio1_1280

Thankfully, I’ve journaled when I’ve been in times of sweet consolation, and I can look back on those times and remember that this is just a storm in my life—this is only temporary.

But for now, all I can do is persevere. I can’t stay away from church, I can’t avoid prayer, and I can’t ignore God out of spite. If anything, I should be running headlong towards prayer. I should reach out to God and cry out to Him, even if my voice breaks, even if my eyes tear up or my fists clench. I go before Him, let my icy heart drop heavily at His feet, and wait.

I know goodness can come from the darkness. That’s God’s job. My job is to persevere.

 

And PLEASE let me know if you want to be a guest author about Christ-pursuing singleness OR relationships. I’d love for your voice to be heard (or read) so you can encourage others and be encouraged in return!

Love All Around Us.

(Muchas gracias to Matthew Isales, my friend and guest author this week.)

“Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Whoever loves is a child of God and knows God.” -1 John 4:7

I want to use this verse to introduce the idea that we are called to love others as God loves us. If we can do that, we will see the face of God in all good things and we will come to truly know Him.

Love, in my opinion, is the definitive characteristic of a life worth living. It takes many forms; we encounter it in our friends, our families, our pets, in nature and in moments of inspiration. That love stems from God and is ultimately designed to bring us back to Him.

Love pulses in everything, and all we have to do is slow down, tune in, and listen. Its power is bottomless and with it anything is possible, that is, if our love stays pure, arising in response to the beauty of God’s creation. Love is about gratitude. It is about acceptance. It is about insight and peace.

Love recognizes that we cannot do all of this alone. We are born for each other and the world around us. True and pure love moves us closer to God, while love corrupted by desire, greed and envy leads to an unhealthy relationship with God, not to mention the people around us.

I bring all this up because relationships are one of the most common ways in which love is examined, tested, and on display. We must use our relationships to learn how to take part in this true love. Yet, at the same time, we must continue to develop a direct relationship with God. Relationships are learning opportunities, and after going through a couple, we must examine what we have learned and put it into action so that we can get closer to that pure love.

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Love in action: Matt & Maggie, his cousin, finishing a race with Athletes Serving Athletes.

My life, since as early as my later years in middle school, has been characterized by one serious relationship after another. With each relationship, I told myself, “This is the one. I know it.” I loved them because they were nice girls, but time and time again I learned as the relationships continued that some of our values  or life goals were different. That doesn’t mean that that girls weren’t worth my time or were bad people; we were both just still growing and learning. However, for me to continue to grow in my relationship with God and to continue to grow in love and out of love, I now need someone who values God in the same way I do, who carries and exhibits the values that will help me to reach that pure love. It is also important to note that this was not a one-way street—I still need to grow and reflect more. I’m not perfect, and no one is.

But the miracle of God is that He can bring the perfect to the imperfect. He brought His perfect son in the world of imperfection, and so does He bring this perfect love to two imperfect beings. If we love each other in a way that glorifies God and the power of faith and hope, then we can experience a small, but supremely meaningful piece of perfection on this earth.

Some of my previous relationships left me distraught and upset for a little bit, but then I realized that those relationship were exactly what I needed. They made me evaluate and question who I truly am and what I value. I had a great time and a lot of fun, but in the end, it was not going to work out for the best for either of us.

It is time for me to put into action what I’ve learned along the way. I need someone, and just as importantly, I need to be someone that strives for pure love by seeking a better relationship with God and by honoring Him and His will.

Love others as God loves them and God will be more clearly revealed to us.

 

And PLEASE let me know if you want to be a guest author about Christ-pursuing singleness OR relationships. I’d love for your voice to be heard (or read) so you can encourage others and be encouraged in return!