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31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 2


Today, I’m going to start with a confession. (I don’t like how hiding this information seems to hang over my head and form a knot in my stomach.)

I want to be married and I’m not.
There, I said it. (Deep breath out. Deep breath in. It’s OK. I can do this.)

Why I am telling you this? Well, this is the biggest thing in my life that God uses to tenderize my heart. So, if I am going to write about what it means to keep a tender heart, then I think that you have a right to know just what it is that pains my heart the most frequently.
Now, in the past, I have written about how my struggle with singleness can be likened to anyone else’s struggle with troubling circumstances like joblessness, infertility, a difficult marriage, chronic illness or crushing debt. And, this is true. The feelings are incredibly similar despite the differences in situations. However, generalizing my feelings to that which is a part of the normal human experience has also allowed me to hide the particulars of my specific story.

For the sake of my journey toward a heart of flesh in the place of my heart of stone and for the sake of authenticity with you, I want to focus more on my unique experience and how it’s been hard for me.
I should tell you, first, that getting married has been at the top of my to-do list since adolescence. I was sure that I would meet my husband in college or graduate school and be married with children by now. In my early 20’s, I just denied what was happening. Every time I met someone new, I would tell myself that he was the “One” and it was finally my turn. In my mid-20’s, I started to feel very angry. But, I wasn’t emotionally healthy enough to identify my feelings and express them appropriately, so I hid them deep within myself. I stuffed them down and I started pretending that I didn’t really care about getting married. I also started avoiding my married and dating friends because it was too painful to see them enjoy what I so desperately desired. Over time, my hurt, disappointed, and frustrated feelings built up into a volcano ready to explode at any time.

By 29, I was an angry and anxious wreck of a person. I was offended at God’s leadership in my life. Clearly, He had missed the main point of my existence and didn’t care about me. I had been stuffing anger and fear for so long that they started leaking out of me everywhere. I decided to enter counseling, which was incredibly helpful as I tried to figure out who I was, what had happened to me and what I was going to do with the life that I had, even though it wasn’t the life that I wanted. Toward the end of counseling, I decided to take some huge risks and leave my job as a school counselor, move back to Rockford and do an internship at IHOP-KC. I really wasn’t sure what my future held, but I realized that I had been living my life in a holding pattern, waiting to be married, and that I needed to develop some other life goals.
It was during internship that God began to really hack at my heart of stone. I didn’t even realize how hard it had gotten. Healing was painful. God would poke at some area and out of me would flow anger, accusation, offense, grief and disappointment. I cried almost every day in the prayer room. And, I yelled at God in anger on more than one occasion. God graciously lead me through this process where I recognized that I was angry with Him for not letting me get married sooner and where I was finally able to forgive Him for not doing things my way. After that, I was able to start seeing how God had protected me in not giving me my way and letting me marry early in life. I even started to feel genuine thankfulness toward God for how He has taken care of me all this time and given me a life that I didn’t even want, but is so much better than I ever could have hoped.

I wish I could say that this healing experience changed everything and I am now completely at peace with my singleness. If that was the case, then I would have nothing to write about for the next 30 days. In fact, though my old pain from singleness has been healed, I still experience new pain related to my singleness on a regular basis. And this is why I have been asking God to teach me how to steward my unfulfilled desire and the feelings attached to it well. I trust Him to show me how to keep a tender heart for as long as I remain single and continue to experience painful feelings because of it.
Still counting gifts:

·         #452: Saying goodnight to Patrick and Haley at 7:30 in the morning

·         #453: Fall colors in unexpected places

·         #454: Lentil soup at lunch

·         #455: Treating myself to coffee

·         #456: An emerging habit of spending Tuesday afternoons at the House of Prayer

·         #457: Remembering this time last year when I was adjusting to my internship at IHOP-KC and praying from midnight to 6 AM every day. What an incredible season of closeness with God and healing for my heart that was!

·         #458: Hopeful feelings for what God will do in me this fall

·         #459: Excited and scared feelings for this 31 day project of sharing my heart

·         #460: But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do. Psalm 73:28

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