future

Imperfect Love

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

I have reflected on this verse often over the course of the past six months. I hear its refrain as I ponder on those whom I love and those who love me. I know imperfect love. It looms. I know it’s imperfect. It is fear-inducing and creates unnecessary risk. Fear-inducing love is not loving at all. Imperfect love is an oxymoron as it does not exist; love can only exist in complete perfection.

I got a glimpse of perfect love today. I saw it over breakfast and a coffee two hours afternoon. It was not a fear-inducing love, but one that feels freeing. One that assists in letting go. I pray for more of that love.

I pray I find it in the Lord.

I pray I find it in friends.

I pray it is found in me.

Specified Lamenting

Sleep. Silence. Wake. Silence. Aldi. Silence. HEB. Silence. Clean. Silence.

A year ago my life was bursting with people. Busy was my normal pace. I packed in school and work and social obligations. I used busyness as a means of avoidance. I became hyper-productive. I still am. You can occasionally catch me in the office until 3 AM working on God-knows-what. Using the justification, it has to get done. People let me get away with it. I don’t really want them to, but everyone has their own busyness going on and I don’t feel the need to infringe.

People get into these rhythms. My weekend rhythm is empty most times. The peak of my excitement is the trip to the grocery stores. I go to Aldi and HEB. While standing in the checkout aisle (in Aldi), I longed for someone to share this rhythm with. I longed for someone to interrupt my rhythm with their own. I longed for a harmonious melody, where two sounds become one song, with seasons of discord of course, but one nonetheless. This thought carried to HEB. I stroll down the aisles mindlessly with tremendous amounts of time to waste, knowing I am only coming home to laundry and meal prep.

It gets exhausting telling God about your longings. I mean. We both know He already knows. Why does He even care to hear them? Why do I have to say them? Do, I even need to say them? Does God give me longings that will remain unmet? I think He does. Why would He do that? He is not cruel. I know He isn’t.

All the while, I hear the phantom whispers of well-meaning Christian singles and their leaders questioning my satisfaction and contentedness in the Lord. Stupid cliches about Jesus being their boyfriend or that they’re dating Jesus. Sarcastically, thinking in my head…“You don’t get to make out with Jesus like you would a human”. Then feeling condemned because positive female sexuality is not really a Wednesday night Bible study class offered in the church. Or people reminding me to live in a community that practices vulnerability. (insert eye roll). Maybe it’s not the community. Maybe it’s me.

I digress…

I don’t know, there was not really a point to all of this. I just felt these words ruminating in my mind over the course of two hours. And, I needed them to come out before I went to bed. Perhaps, I will find God in all of this. I am more hopeful that He finds me. I have not been searching for him. I am feeling a like the one lost sheep and really need my Shepherd to come along. I am a dumb creature, privy to falling off cliffs and being attacked. Please find me, Shepherd.

Words. Rest. Breathe. Rest. Post. Rest. Come rest.

Life

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ embodies the conquering of death by the Source of Life. I believe this as truth. I believe that death has been conquered for me. So, that when my physical bodies withers, I am brought to real eternal life with God.

So, what do I do here? Suspended in a real (yet quasi) life experience that is riddled with death and all his friends. Where in the middle of loneliness there is a real sorrow. Where in the middle of sickness there is a real pain. Where in the middle of hatred there is a real violence. I don’t know. I don’t know. I take the cues of Christ and move towards the mess. Where there is sorrow, I mourn like Jesus with Mary. Where there is pain, I acknowledge someone is reaching out for a touch like Jesus and the woman with the issue of blood. Where there is violence, I bend down to the ground writing mysteries in the sand like Jesus on the Mount of Olives.

Last year around this time, I was very invested in modern liturgical practices. I came across meditative tracks, by a group called the Liturgists. There is a track on their Garden album titled Sunday. In this track, Rob Bell discusses the Resurrection how ultimately the moments of joy and life and laughter in this life point to the immense beauty and worship that will occur in eternal life. And that the sorrows and pain and violence are temporary.

Yesterday was one of those days where I felt the Resurrection and the Life. Hula hooping and eating chili with popsicle wine and bubbles reminds me of life. It was worshipful and beautiful. It was children running around throwing pillows. It was laughter and naps. The Resurrection allows me to take a simple meal on a simple weekend and call it holy. It allows me to reclaim something that feels secular and find how God can make it sacred.

Resurrection is Life, not only eternal life. Resurrection is the embracing life in the way Christ embraced life now and eternally.

Happy Holy Life Friends.

Ticks in the Timeline

I was sixteen sitting in my high school psychology class. Our assignment was to create a timeline of our lives projecting ten years into the future. Bless our teacher, he must have thought us foolish. For he had the knowledge that adolescent plans rarely come to fruition.

I’m twenty-six in 10 days. Ten years from psych class and light years from my expectations of adulthood. I dreamt of meeting someone at 19 and marriage at 26. Now, I have succumbed to my singleness. One part blessing. One part burden. I have the whole world in my hands, but no hand to hold. I battle (albeit rarely) with the same tensions of adolescence. Am I pretty? Am I worthy? Is something wrong with me? Why will no one cast me a second first glance? Am I even good enough?

I believed, I would be sitting on this mountain of success as a psychologist. Counseling people into wellness, uncovering the depths of brokenness, being a conduit of healing. Now, I don’t even know if I agree with modern psychology, and it’s ability to “help” people. This is even more frustrating, because I am working on a Masters of Counseling and have invested too much to just walk away. The idea of meeting with someone one-on-one makes me anxious and bored. Now, concerning vocation, I am doing well. My work is my heart. The teens I work with make daily life enjoyable. They fill me with hope and light and excitement and laughter. I could not be more consumed with them than I am.

Then, there were my finances. Wealth knows few men, but poverty is popular. I’m floundering. I feel like a slave to my bank accounts. I don’t control money; money controls me. It is an abusive relationship. Where in the good times, we can enjoy each other. In the bad times, it places stringent limitations on everything. I am closer to my teens in that manner than they could imagine. I look to my next paycheck with dread. For a brief moment, there is hope. I awake to a text to see income has been deposited. By Saturday, bills have been paid and I have nothing. I greet fear as we will be acquainted with each other for another two weeks.

Nothing goes according to plans. I look on Facebook and Instagram. Everyone seems so happy. People are in love and getting married. People are getting their Masters and experiencing success. People are saving and buying homes. Is everyone this happy? How are you all doing it? Let me in on your secrets. Don’t leave me out please. I know we all have our different paths, but sometimes I just feel left behind. As, I tend personal injuries people pass me joyfully, effortlessly jogging, as I struggle just to walk. Comparison you are the bloody original thief.

Then there is God. Whom, I never wrote into my plans, not even on a subconscious level. He just interrupted everything. Whose to say, maybe if He hadn’t interrupted, I would have been a married psychologist sitting on wealth, posting pictures on Instagram with trite hashtags, but I am not. And even in this low with continual descent and lament, I know God well enough to know this is not the end of my timeline. It is just the beginning of a hard tick.

Single, but not Incomplete.

Confession, I have never seen Jerry Maguire. I was six when it came out. Twenty years later, I can’t get past the fact that I don’t like the three main actors (Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr.). Even with never seeing this film, I know the most popular line:

“You complete me.” 

Intro romantic music, smoke, and cherubs. C’mon, what single person does not want to hear those three little words? I mean the only other phrase a single person might be interested in is “I brought pizza”. Just kidding. We all know it’s, “I love you”. 

However, there are millions of spiritual and emotional problems with that phrase. Because, I don’t get paid to write (nor do I have the energy), I will focus on one massive issue.

People who are not in a relationship (single, divorced, widowed) are not complete people. 

Men and women experience brokenness. This is a universal truth, even if externally your world is perfect, there has been a time of where internally things were askew. Additionally, we are born with normal healthy longings. We long for companionship. We long for someone to spend our lives with and love. We long for a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, lips to kiss, a partner in crime, a person to embrace, someone to romance us. We long. It is normal and healthy. God placed this desire in me.

However, at some point we got our wires crossed. Two healthy separate desires (completion and companionship) morphed into one obsessive unattainable unrealistic goal.

Of the two desires completion is for more important, and MUST take priority over companionship. There is too great of a risk when incomplete people look for companionship before completion or wholeness. See any friend or person who has gotten their identity from the person they are dating. If, we are to be made whole, What must be done? How do we become whole? Because again, we all agree that we are broken people living in a broken world with broken ideas working in broken systems and structures that will not save us from our demise.

I will give you my answer. I have found my completion and wholeness in Christ. Paul writes about being made complete, “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.” I am full. I lack nothing. I have longings, but longings are not lack. Believing this truth and living in it are difficult. It is frightening. I have lived longer as a broken and incomplete person. So, wholeness is still sometimes unfamiliar to me.

I, as a single young adult, get to live in completion singularly. The benefit to this is that my completion before companionship, will make companionship much more fulfilling. Mark dictates the words of Jesus, “A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” There is no discussion about two halves becoming a whole. It is about two wholes becoming one. It is about peanut butter being completely peanut better and jelly being completely jelly and placing them together to make one sandwich. Not half a key lime pie and half and apple pie coming together to a nasty pie. In Christ, I am not a half. I am a complete one. 

In my oneness, I am able to do much. I am able to serve my teens with vigor. I work long hours often, but with joy. I travel on a whim, but how wonderful to simply get away. I dream and do life BIG and with unbridled intensity! I empty myself as often as I can, because in Christ even when I am running on empty, His eternal nature makes me full again. I do everything I do with joy because one day, when I am married, I will be divided. My attention will be filled with fulfilling my role as a wife and mother.

Even as I write this, I can feel my longing for companionship. Yet it is one I feel with joy because I know I am whole.

My First Dance

“I try not to think about marriage too often” is one of the trite, silly, and Biblically misinformed ways in which single women are taught to cope with their singleness. However, there are some days in which my mind is so free that it wanders into a space where I contemplate these things.

As, I walked to my car after a long day of work, my mind was flooded with a simple scene from my potential wedding day…well more like a frame. There where many things I still cannot picture: my groom, the venue, a date and time, but the one thing I could not shake was our first dance.

I already know the song. I heard it a year ago and it symbolizes everything marriage truly is, while maintaining the tempo of a waltz. God has used partner dancing to teach me about relationships. It, ultimately, points back to Ephesians 5. Women are to respect their husbands. Men are to love their wives, sacrificing for her, considering her as his own body, and laying down his life for her.

With every crescendo, I see the little girl fantasy of my skirt twirling through the air. I can even envision my eyes gazing at him, with deeper affection and love than before. An affection and love, only he experiences. Most importantly, in this dance, I see how we are a magical, mysterious miracle, the Lord uniting us hand-in-hand.

In this moment, I realize the solution is not to disregard these feelings or trash them on the grounds of being heinous. But, to simply surrender them to the one who gave me them in the first place.

The Lord gives. The Lord takes away. Tonight, I thank Him for this small gift. Amen.

An Open Letter to My Husband

To My Mortal Companion…

During this season, the general yearning in my heart for you stirs and intensifies. I hope you feel this way for me. While I long for you, I am not waiting for you. Before you get all sensitive about my virginity and what not, relax. I am waiting, but that is more about God than you.

What I am saying, is “I am not idly waiting on you”.

I am not waiting on you for my life to begin. My life began twenty-five years ago. There has been joy and sorrow, stability and transition, fighting and peacemaking, logic and emotion, and people. Loads and loads of people. You are not my life. You are a major part of it, but not the sum of it. God authored my life. He is the one that dictates its beginning; as I said in the beginning of this paragraph it was 25 years ago.

I am not waiting for you to experience romance. This may sound weird, but I don’t think romance is limited for dating or married couples. In my head, I have these lavish ideas on how to surprise you and plan picnics for you and fun dinners to cook. I would love to do those things for you now, but I have friends who need to be romanced now. Who don’t need to wait to experience what it is like for someone to surprise them because it is a Tuesday or plan picnics for them. My hope is that I am sowing seeds in our marriage by doing this. I pray you have the thoughtfulness to be romantic.

I am not waiting on you to make me feel special. I never feel more special than when people surprise me with gifts. I love when people send me flowers on a Tuesday or write me a random note. I shouldn’t seek heavy external validation. Lately, I have wanted to be in a relationship so someone could affirm that I was special. How selfish is that? That’s not your job. God created me. God has imputed value on me, through Christ’s work on the cross. Now, all the talents and skills I have are directed towards Him being glorified. I am special.

I am not waiting on you to “complete me” or “fix me”. Allow me to make this super clear. YOU WILL NEVER “COMPLETE ME.” And despite what Coldplay says please don’t try to “fix me”. There is a deep brokenness in both of us. One of the delusions the enemy has utilized in relationships is: “dating people is about being completed”. God makes me whole. The Master Craftsman takes the toy who fell to bits and restores it. My hope is, when I enter into this relationship with you. I am further along in my restoration process.

I am not waiting on you to go on adventures with. Yeah, it is too late for that. I have been a foster mom. I have traveled. I have danced and danced. I have met people from across the world. I left my home. I have experienced a degree of homelessness. This goes to the first point. God writes the story, and He is the BEST author. Have you read the Bible? Eep, it is SO GOOD!

I am not waiting on you to make me feel loved. This is one of those harder truths to live out. I connect feeling loved to being chosen. There is something beautiful about two people actively and constantly agreeing on each other. If I can be frank with you, no one has chosen me. Randomly, I get this bitter sinking feeling of being unloved. God loves me. The more I learn of Him, the more loved I feel. Also, in His graciousness God gives me great friends who love me.

I am not waiting on you to create a home. Hospitality makes a house a home. Hospitality is outpouring of abundant love on others. Leading to an invitation into not only that persons personal space, but life. No where in Scripture does it say that hospitality is reserved for those in relationships.

I am not waiting on you to honor you and love you. I don’t do this perfectly yet. But it is important to me to practice honoring you now. You are worthy of my respect. Whether, I know you by name now or won’t for another 25 years, I do not want to harm our marriage presently or in the future. God authors stories and know them well. If marriage is in mine, then it is already a reality to Him and real to me.

There is a harshness to this letter. Allow me to call two things your attention. (1) If I don’t put the full weight on you to “complete me” or make me feel loved or to begin life with, it frees you from a burden that can only truly be accomplished by God. Listen, kiddo, I already love you (or at least the idea of you). The best thing I can do for our marriage is have a rightful view of God. (2) I would be brash to not share what I am waiting for. I am waiting to partner with you in a special way to do ministry. I am waiting to build a family with you. (Depending on God’s timing this may change. I already feel strongly about adopting kids). I am waiting to explore what romantic friendship looks like with you. I am waiting to hold your hand and rest my head on your shoulder. Friend, you are worth waiting for.

Anyways, I don’t write to you often. Which is for the best. However, I thought of you today and wrote.

Love You (flower)Bud,

Tose