I must confess that I have a special spot in my heart for my friendships with women.  I’ve said it before, I love being a woman, and God has for some reason allowed me to connect easily with women from all walks of life.  My former roommate is coming to visit this weekend, and I’m so excited!  She’s delightful.  We often prayed together.  We liked to have dinner together if we were both home on the same night.  She’s cried with me.  We’ve seen each other in pretty tough places, and we’ve rejoiced with each other.  She’s great!  I can’t say it enough.

It seems that God has given me so many good, quality girl friends.  I love them!  I exude their attributes, and find them godly!  I thank God for them! We’ve sought the scriptures together, we’ve met for prayer.  We’ve held each other accountable.  We’ve simply had fun together.  The problem is, I’m not so quick to exude the same confidence and encouraging statements about the guys in my life.

Here is the confession.  I’ve complained about men.  I’ve wondered where are the good ones.  I’ve bemoaned that they are hard to find, and not in churches.  I’ve therefore done injustice to men.  And I’m sorry.  God has been working on my heart.  Just as my quality girl friends are out there, so are there quality men.  The difference is, I interact with women differently than men — which is appropriate and fine, yet I use that difference to justify my complaints.  That’s not right on my part.

In the past, I’ve found myself quick to judge them, forgetting that the same enemy of femininity is also the destroyer of masculinity.  I  have failed to uplift my brothers in prayer as much as I should have. I could count on two hands the number of guys my age that I found impressive.  Perhaps that is because I know more women then men. Thankfully in the past year God has brought me into contact with more quality men, and it has helped me immensely!

Why do I tell you this?  Because as women, we have an important role.  We are called to press into Christ, to love Him with our hearts, souls, and minds.    Yet we were also created to be helpers of men. Eve was created as a helper,  and I believe this calling is true whether we are married or single.  We are to help men, and my complaining isn’t a godly example of a helper.  I want to apologize.  I want to change the trend that I see not only in me, but in a lot of women my age.  I want to uplift men in prayer, not criticize.

Women and men who are seeking God with all their heart are definitely “out there.”  I hope there are men praying for women who are lovers of God.   I hope that men are praying for women who are godly examples.  Thus, that should also be my prayer: that God would raise up a generation of men who are lovers of Him and His Word; men who are selfless and godly; men who are leaders in homes, churches, and offices – wherever God has placed them.  And this type of living should be what women want to strive towards as well.  All of us are living with an enemy.  He comes only to kill, steal, and destroy.  No wonder then that masculinity and femininity are crumbling.  True men and women challenge the status quo and redefine Godly living, family, friendships, and every arena where it matters if there is a difference between the sexes.  Distinctively different.  And both men and women are in need of being lifted up before our Gracious God!  I confess this because I want to see males and females living out God’s design for their lives!  Oh let us as women become women of God, and pray that the men around us will also be men of God! Let’s learn to be helpers, in whatever capacity God allows!

Neon Sign: Lonely and Need a Hug!

My former roommate came to visit this weekend.  She is delightful and I’m so grateful for friends!  We went out for dinner on Friday night and settled in to talk.  We haven’t seen each other in a while, haven’t called in a while, and had plenty of catching up to do!  As usually happens when two single women are together we chatted about men.  Then we chatted about life.  Both are interesting topics!

At one point my friend said there was a guy who was hard to get away from at church.  I smiled and asked, “Is he single?”  She nodded.  “Is he lonely?”  Again, the nod.  “Is he desperate?”  She nodded, smiled again, and asked me, “Is he an 80 year old man?”  This time I shook my head in the obvious affirmative answer.  Yes.  He was not a young man seeking companionship from the newest single gal at the church — rather an elderly, lonely man in need of a friend.

We discussed loneliness and the hardships.  We talked back and forth and one of us said (I’ll give her the benefit… because I seriously have no clue which of us said it!), “What if we went into church carrying an actual sign with us and it stated Lonely and Need a Hug!”

Now there is a thought.  What if we did go to church carrying this sign with us.  Or what if we went to church carrying other signs: “Trapped in sin — Please someone ask so it’s no longer a secret!”  Or, “My mind is focused on family problems, don’t ask me what the pastor talked about.”  Or how about, “Is God really here?  He feels so distant!”

What if we carried signs into church — signs unveiling the real souls behind the smiles, behind the words, behind the facades?  Oh, I’m not saying that behind every smile is pain or struggle.  That’s not true at all.  Yet behind many smiles, many eyes, and many words is a struggle desperate to be noticed.

Lonely and need a hug.  The elderly man matches the description.  The divorced man two pews over fits the description.  The single young woman fits the description. The married woman who sits alone because her husband doesn’t believe in God fits the description. The child who rides with a friend and whose parents refuse to attend likewise fits. And the married man whose wife is in an emotional affair also fits.  These are just a sample of the individuals who are maybe lonely in the church pews. I’m willing to wager on this: there are more lonely people within the walls of a church than most of us know. Loneliness can be caused by physical separation from a loved one due to death, divorce, military tours, or single living, among other reasons.  Also, there is the loneliness due to spiritual separation from God.

Regardless of the why, I want to have a heart that looks for these people with invisible signs.  The signs are written in imperceptible ink; written within hearts and moving like phantoms out of the windows of their souls — the eyes, the carefully guarded words, the sighs, the prayers, the tears.  What bodily functions become the voice of the inward struggle? I wonder if asking God for a heart  that sees is wise.  If I ask for this, I might risk opening myself up to the real lives of others.  Getting involved in others lives is messy, but it is real, and it also leads to real prayers.

Maybe you understand the heart of another person’s pain, because you’ve been there.  I’m grateful for the body of Christ, and I want to be willing to be more vulnerable.  I want to be more willing to admit my need for a hug, or my need for prayer for a sin in my life, or the place in my mind to which it wanders in the middle of the sermon.  In addition to asking for a heart of understanding to see, I want to risk speaking the truths of my own silent struggles.

This is what being in the body of Christ does — it allows for being real.  It allows for healing when brought to God.  Lonely people in need of a hug are also welcomed into God’s embrace!  When we admit our loneliness or struggles to Him, it will be interesting to see who He sends to be His hands.  It might be the hug of a friend, the thoughtful card of a relative, or some completely random means which blows your mind over the care of God towards His children.

Oh let’s be real with our brothers and sisters in Christ!  Tell you what, I’ll wear a sign if you’ll wear one too!  Pretty soon our signs will say: Lonely and need a hug. Hugged by God: Used C.H.’s arms!

Desire for your Husband

“Cinderella dressed in yella’ went upstairs to kiss a fella.  Made a mistake and kissed a snake.  How many doctors did it take?”

Do you remember chanting that rhyme as you used to skip rope with your friends?  The object was to see how many doctors it took to revive Cinderella, so for each number of jumps over the rope, it counted.  1…2…3… and so on!  Most of us tried to better our jump roping number, adding up the number of doctors.  We certainly didn’t like to miss a jump after only one doctor!

But I was thinking through this little rhyme the other day, and certain things came into my thoughts that I had never considered before.  This little rhyme was cute for us to sing as children.  But what about today?  What analogies could be drawn from this?

Many young women, and older women in all honesty, seek men in order to receive gratification and affirmation.  Look around you, it can be seen everywhere, even within churches and Christian marriages.  A girlfriend of mine once reminded me of the curse upon women when Eve sinned.  Childbirth pain increased greatly (we know that, and most women are thankful for pain medicines and doctors knowledge).  But the second part of the curse is that, “your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”  (Gen. 3:16).

Hmm… now what does that mean?  It is not a blessing, but a curse!  Let’s see what we can find out! I looked up what the word desire means in this passage.  I found these words to help me gain understanding: desire, longing, craving.  Now that is interesting!  Eve’s offspring (us, women!) were cursed with an increased pain in childbirth and a longing for our husbands.  What!  Does that mean it’s bad to desire a spouse?

I don’t think so. Remember Eve was made specifically for Adam because no suitable helper was found, and it was not good for man to be alone!  That union, marriage, is ordained by God.  Thus, it is not wrong to desire marriage.  However, I wonder if the perception of completion by a man comes about wrongly due to this part of the curse, and due to our search to find affirmation from men.

Many Cinderella’s have kissed snakes.  Literally.  So often women want a man so badly that they are willing to give body and heart for a man not worth their time.  If God gave Eve to Adam, then we as women should be learning and preparing to be Godly helpers.  If you are an older woman, teach us!  The snakes we are kissing (literally or hypothetically) are men who are not God’s men.  Sometimes though, we are hurt just as deeply by Christian men.

How many doctors does it take to drain the poison from our hearts?  This venom appears as heartache, bitterness, jealousy, coveting, dissatisfaction, worry, desperation, or loneliness, among other symptoms. Only One doctor is needed my dear sisters!  God promises to be all we need.  He is the Great Physician and no matter of the heart is too great for Him to heal.  That’s encouraging.  I’m not saying it is easy.  It requires constantly returning to God for affirmation.  In times of loneliness it is recognizing the feeling and bringing it to God.

It takes time, but only one Healer.  Praise God!  For the married women reading this, you are not off the hook.  This is not a curse for singles, but for women.  How does this curse play out in married life?  Sometimes in the exact same way as for singles, based on married women I’ve talked to. Marriage is not a cure-all.  The married woman still needs God to be her everything.  Otherwise, she’ll be looking to a man to meet her needs, not to God.  That is a recipe for disaster!

I encourage you, whether married or single, to press into God.  If you are an older woman who sees younger women desperate for men, please pray for us and speak out if the Holy Spirit leads.  If you are a young woman who is longing for a man, may you bring this desire to God and ask that your desire be for Him first.  If you are a married woman who feels miserable or empty  in your marriage, may you also return to God and let Him tenderly speak to your heart. Remember, God is the Healer.  If you are a married woman in a great marriage, may you teach other women to love their spouses, and encourage your spouse in a God-honoring, help-meet qualified way!

Let’s not be kissing snakes, ladies!  Let’s leave the rhyme to the girls jumping rope