Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lessons from the Valentines Day Blues (part 3)

His & Her's

I'm completely blown away at the response I am getting on this impulsive and fun little mini-series about Valentines Day! I have had the chance to exchange ideas with several young, single women about it and to hear what is on their hearts... well, it's seriously amazing and so encouraging! It's also helped me to shape this last post into something that I hope we can all take to heart - whether single, dating, or married! 

If you missed them, click {here} for Part 1 and {here} for Part 2 of this series!

#3 True Contentment

I think one of the biggest reasons that Valentines Day is so difficult for singles is that it points out something you think you should have - whether that be a relationship or a husband.

In other words, it points out a big reason to be discontent. 

That's not to say that everyone reacts to Valentines Day like that, but I think it can be a bigger struggle than many let on.  In my own experience, I've flip flopped back and forth.  One year I was extremely happy that I didn't have a Valentine because, really - who needs that distraction.  Then the next, I thought to my sappy-self, for just once I'd like to get flowers and chocolate (lots of chocolate) from someone special on Valentines Day.  Then, of course, the next year it was all about having fun on S.A.D. (that is, Singles Awareness Day).  Yep, my girlfriends and I went out to dinner and had fun just being us!  Single and free!  And yet I still came home to think... if only I had had a date with a man tonight.

I actually laugh now thinking about my thoughts from Valentines Days in the past.  This is not to say I've got it all figured out, but looking back I see what the major problem was.  My feelings were taking their cue from my circumstances and my expectations.  I marveled at the injustice in the world because didn't have a boyfriend and I wondered why I wasn't married yet.  My focus was off.  Way off. 
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.Philippians 4:11-13
Look what Paul says, "...for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."  Wow!  Now, we have to remember that at this point Paul was in prison writing this letter to the church at Philippi to not only encourage them but to call them to boldly proclaim the name of Christ and live together in unity (Phil. 1:27-30).  His reference of learning to be content wasn't merely talking about his current circumstance (or even his singleness - though I think in a small way that could apply) but it was referring to the fact that whether he was in prison or not, whether he was among friends and believers or not, or even whether things were going well or going very badly - he had learned to be content in all of it.

Bringing this back to Valentines Day, I have to ask myself - am I content?  I'm not asking if I'm happy or satisfied in my circumstances, I think those are very different questions.  I'm asking whether or not I'm content in Christ because ultimately, even if I'm currently content in my singleness but that isn't founded in Christ, then that will slip away too. 

Our hearts are so tricky... especially as women, but just being human in general, it's really difficult to love God before all else. Things slip in and we attach our hearts to them.  We care for our friends, we enjoy our job, we want our "me" time... the list goes on.  None of these things are inherently bad, but when they become the sole focus of our heart, they take the place of God.  They become idols and they let us down every time, driving us further and further away from true contentment.

So what is true contentment? 
 
I believe a great definition of true contentment is to, “...love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matt. 22:37).  It's the greatest commandment according to Jesus, and it also puts everything else into perspective.  If I'm loving God with all that I am, how could I love something else (greater than I love Him, that is).  Plus, in the following verse Jesus says that the next greatest commandment is to, "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:39).  I think the order of these is extremely important and gives us a direct path to follow toward true contentment in Christ. 

To be truly content in singleness, we must first be truly content in who we are in Christ.  That means He is our everything.  We are defined by Him.  In order to do that, we have to spend time in His word to get to know Him, we need to be in constant conversation with Him, and we should be modeling our lives after His (practically outlined for us in the gospels).  Secondly, we must love others.  We are defined by love (see part 1 of this series).  

I chose the picture for this last part because it reminds me of an old married couple (yes, I'm aware that it's just chairs).  At first, when I thought of this picture (especially in conjunction with Valentines Day) it made me a little sad.  I desire marriage (and no, this is not a bad desire).  In my heart I know that it is a beautiful blessing from the Lord and I want to experience that as well as the refinement that comes from marriage.  But, the longer I thought about this the more I realized that my overriding joy and satisfaction in Christ is enough.  No, it's more than enough!  

I won't lie and say it's been easy - in fact, it has been a long and difficult road to this point (and I'm still going), but I will say that I know a peace that I could not have found in anything else other than Christ.  That peace and satisfaction is complete, lacking in nothing, and only possible in Him.  Even if I do get married some day I will never find that kind of joy in a man - ever!  I will forever need to be setting Christ before me and seeking out true contentment in Him.

Today, on Valentines Day, I can say that my response is not one of disappointment because I won't be getting flowers from a man, it's one of joy because I am whole in Christ and truly content!  I pray that the Lord will continue to shape my heart into what He wants it to be, to show me to love the way He loves, and to cherish this season in my life for what it is - a blessing. 

Happy Valentines Day!

A gift of flowers from the Lord this morning :)