Tuesday, 8 July 2014

'Prince Charming' doesn't come with a 'Happily Ever After'

I know nothing about my future husband (or even if I'll have one at all) apart from one, absolute, undeniable, set in stone fact: he will be 100%, completely and utterly, unable to make me happy.

Now, to be clear, I'm not talking about the kind of 'happy' where you feel momentarily pleased by your current circumstances - I really do hope that on some level I will actually enjoy spending time with my future husband! No, I'm talking about the kind of happy that is a constant state of joyful satisfaction. The kind that is consistent, even if there are struggles, disagreements, or your favourite Downton character dies (Yes, I still miss Sybil), as it is simply not dependent on your circumstances.

Our culture tells us that if we just find 'The One' then we will live 'Happily Ever After' with our token 2.3 kids, comfortable jobs, and loveable family dog all in our 4-bed detached. I'm sorry to mow down the picket fence and smash the Aga, but finding your 'Prince Charming', 'Mr Right', or 'insert female equivalent', is not going to guarantee that you will be undeniably happy from hereon in.

I think that when we believe someone is going to enter our lives, declare their undying love, and magically make all the bad days vanish, we are attempting to cover up a much larger issue in ourselves. They may well make the world seem a little brighter, the good days better and the bad days fewer, but they do not change the fact that the problem starts with ourselves: If my future husband does not make me completely happy, that is because I am inherently unhappy.

There are several reasons why I believe expecting our marriages to fulfil our happiness is not only wrong, but also unhealthy and destructive to ourselves and our future relationships:

We are setting ourselves up for tremendous disappointment. I understand how the thought of being loved unconditionally, cared for, and served by another person for the rest of our lives might lead us to expect happiness, but if your child came to you with their broken tamgotchi you wouldn't staple it to a broken furbie to fix it. When both item is broken, how can they fix each other? Expecting your future spouse to forever fix your happiness will ultimately leave you unhappy when you realise that they are just as broken and incapable of finding or supplying happiness as you are.

Not only will you be disappointed and dissatisfied, but it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the other person. Before you've even met them - let alone got engaged and married - you are already expecting them to be the antidote to every moment of unhappiness you ever experience. That's a pretty tall order, don't you think? It also disallows us to see their beauty as an individual and how we can love and serve them. We simply become obsessed with them fulfilling our needs and confused by why we're not experiencing the aforementioned uncontainable happiness just yet, both of which are unloving and unjust to our spouse.

Expecting my future husband to make me happy denies the fact that my happiness, joy, contentment and satisfaction are found through my relationship with God and my desire for all things to be for His glory. If I feel convinced that at some distant point in the future I am going to get married and then automatically become happy, then it placates my longing to seek absolute contentment and satisfaction in God - something that He is ready and willing to offer through Christ Jesus. It also leads to my marriage being based on our individual cravings for happiness not a shared desire for our relationship to reflect God's glory.

Ecclesiastes 1:8 says, 'Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.' This verse demonstrates how God did not design any earthly, human or material thing to fully satisfy us. It is in God, and God alone, that we are satisfied and content, and subsequently find our happiness. That is why the psalmist declares, 'You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine' (Psalm 4:7). The joy that God provides is not fleeting or incomplete. It is an absolute, overwhelming, unwavering state of joyful satisfaction that surpasses all earthly circumstances.

Is this a comforting truth? Yes.

Is it really a comforting truth? Possibly not.

This truth means that we can no longer comfortably sit in our discontent and wait for someone else to fix it; we need to deal with it now. Don't wait a few more years to finally discover that binding two broken people together will not completely fix either of them.  Stop hoping you'll find 'The One' to complete you and whining that you're desperately unhappy without them.  Have fewer hopeful Christian side-hugs and more intense time basking in God's glorious and joyful presence. Stop flirting and start fighting to be won over wholeheartedly by the beauty of the gospel.

It's scary. Terrifying, in fact. But the key to eternal joy was intended for you for all eternity, cost a perfect sacrifice and was handed to you by nail-pierced hands. It requires you to surrender your will in favour of God's, that He may work in his beautiful ways 'for the good of those who love Him' (Romans 8:28).

I urge you to please unlock that joy and discover it for yourself, so that you may glorify God as a perfectly content, satisfied and complete creation in Christ. Single or otherwise.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

In the silence, I learnt...

Slumped on a sofa in a nook of the kitchen, the house is quiet. The others are out and they shan't be long, but the moments alone always feel like forever.

At first the only sounds are my rhythmic taps on the keyboard, the low metallic murmur of the fridge, and somewhere in the distance, a bird that has found the voice of spring. It's song is erratic and jittery, perhaps it's first attempt, but it's piercing shrillness is unexpectedly comforting as it reaches me. Something else is out there too. Someone else is trying... but not quite making it.

The longer I sit, the more I become acquainted with the absence of noise. The stifling lack of movement. There are too many thoughts for me to even dare stitching them into a semblance of a sentence and these are the moments that scare me most.

Everything I hold onto in the noise is gone.

I love noise, but sometimes I become a slave to it. The movement becomes routine and familiar and no longer do I have to have any cohesive backdrop to my act. No-one needs to see backstage when the performance is quite so gripping.

Surely this should really be the scariest part? The fact that despite the charade, there is very little of me in the performance. I'll pretend that backstage is wide open, that there's nothing to conceal and I'm honest in my struggles. But still further behind that, I get ready in the dressing room and God forbid anyone should see in there.

I'm hiding in the dressing room, preparing backstage, and performing up front, all at once. But in the silence there is now only an audience of one.

He sits, patient, pensive. He watches. The others have left but he remains. He meets me on stage, takes my hand, guides me behind the curtain, through backstage, seats me in the dressing room and waits.

'What do you really feel?'

I don't know where it has come from, as the hum of the fridge cuts out and the bird rests for a moment, but the stillness changes. That claustrophobic silence has lost it's fear.

In the silence, I learnt that it is in the silence that I am myself. No costume or make-up or lines. Just a tired actress who needs to clear her dressing room.

Monday, 27 January 2014

People will disappoint you.

They might not show up. They might break a promise. They may not realise 'I'm fine' is a lie, even though you feel they should by now.

They might let slip something you told them in confidence. They twist your words and they didn't really mean to, but it still happens, and it still hurts.

Situations come up and you expect things from them: a certain reaction or response. But it doesn't quite happen and you're left hoping they were just that little bit more than they are.

A week or two go by and you haven't spoken. You feel bad for not making contact, but you then you realise that neither did they.

Time will pass and others will enter their lives. They'll have new friends and new plans. They don't mean to leave you out, but they don't invite you.

It's an accident, you're probably over thinking it, and besides, they're only human.


They're only human.

People are wonderful and beautiful and courageous and powerful and loving. But ultimately broken. Ultimately imperfect and incapable of being our source of strength, comfort and joy. This doesn't mean that we should ever stop seeking the good in them and hoping upon hope that they will pull through into the glorious reality of who God intends them to be...

...But it does mean that we should continue to seek out the one who is wonder and beauty and courage and power and love itself. He is our source of strength, comfort and joy. He will always pull through for us. He is exactly who we need him to be and he will forever be faithful.

'Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.' ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

Thursday, 23 January 2014


We often don't really consider discontentment as a sin. It's not adultery or murder, or even lying or lusting. But I've come to realise that I think it can be just at destructive.

What we are saying when we are discontent is that, 'What I have is not enough.' However, what this is really saying is, 'What God has done for me and given me is not enough.'

Discontentment is not healthy, attractive or Godly. Ultimately, it is sinful.

I am not saying that it is wrong to have Godly desires for things. God plants passions and desires in our hearts that allow us to continue seeking Him, His kingdom and things that will strengthen, encourage and bless us. But this does not means that we should live in a constant state of limbo, unhappy with what we have, and desperately holding out until we just get this one thing. Then one more thing. And one more...

A friend recently challenged me with this...

"One of the hardest questions to ask yourself is: if I was friendless, jobless, had no skill at anything, lived in a depressing place with people who disliked me and it looked like it was going to stay like that... Could I still be truly happy? Knowing the answer is 'Yes, because God's grace is sufficient for us', the thing is then... Am I truly happy now, when he's blessed me so much? Am I abusing these blessings by yearning for more? Am I loving the gifts not the giver?"

Others have to fight daily for what we have. We simply have no idea how blessed we are. This is probably because our thoughts and prayers so often revolve around what we do not have, rather than what we do. An attitude of contentment is incredibly powerful but should ultimately be entirely natural when we begin to consider just how much we already have.

No, things don't always work out the way we want them to. No, we don't always get what we want. No, not everyone gets healed. No, not everyone will treat us nicely or fairly. No, we can't just bake a cake full of rainbows and sunshine. And yes, there will always be people who look like they have more than us.

But if we have the God of the universe dwelling inside of us, choosing relationship with us, and taking an interest in the most intricate details of our life, then how are we not content?

We may not have the car, the boyfriend, the grades, the friends, the money or the attributes, but we still have everything we need for this season.

In God we have all we need. God is enough.

"Keep your lives free from covetousness and be content with what you have. For God himself has said, 'I will never leave you. I will always be by your side.'" ~ Hebrews 13:5

Friday, 17 January 2014

Dare to love.

There's a storm brewing.

The rain clouds have been gathered.

An umbrella won't protect me from this. Not even a top-of-the-range anorak could stop this from reaching me. From pounding against me. From hailing on my flesh until it's bruised, battered and numb. But I want to feel that.

I want to feel every slash of this downpour. I'm sensitive and vulnerable and wide out in the open and the pain is going to be almost unbearable, but I wouldn't flinch from it for a second. I want to feel it because that means that I dared to love. I made a choice to care and, even if it is utter agony, I know it is not in vain.

I'm here so that they know they are worth loving. They need to be shown that 'unloveable' is a lie. Love is all I can give them but Love is all that is worth having...

Love is the currency of life.

Love is the ticket to adventure.

Love is the key to freedom.

Love is the fuel of humanity.

Love is the power of the self to become a soul.

Love is the radical call to go beyond.

Love is the dangerous thought that there is more.

It is so selfless yet so precious, that Love died for love.

And so I lay myself down for Love. I lie in the rain and I let it seep through me. Love is worth this. I want to give everything so others will be held by Love, because ultimately it is Love that holds me.

My heart is safe in the hands of it's maker, love Himself. So what do I have to fear?

If you dare to love, storms will come. But if you dare to love, you can change their world.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Dear Boys...

I have been incredibly blessed to spend the last term getting to know some of the most amazingly Godly men I've ever met. Admittedly they do have faults, as we all do, but ultimately they are committed to pursuing their identity in Christ and seeking out what true Godly manhood looks like.

I believe that God made men to defend and protect and fight for the things they love. Naturally this gives them an aggression that God can use for the furtherance of his Kingdom. However, time and again, men have used their aggression and greed and desire against the very things God gave them to protect. Men have allowed themselves to believe, even in the church, that they are entitled to things and that they have a right to take them, no matter what.

This is simply not ok.

What kind of man will allow his daughter to date whoever she wants without first teaching her how much she is worth? What kind of man will intimidate and belittle those around him for fun? What kind of man will guilt-trip and manipulate women into giving him what they want? What kind of man will whisper sweet nothings to his girlfriend and then go home and succumb to his porn addiction?

Those aren't men of God. They are weak, selfish, ungodly, sinful, lustful, immature, disgusting boys.

Our culture has allowed men to grow strong in their lust and weak in their faith. Pursue their satisfaction, not their salvation. Build their fortunes, not their families. Give themselves to their work, not their wives. Protect their reputation and not their children. Seek worldly everything and Godly nothing.

If we allow ourselves to hint here and there that maybe they should possibly potentially perhaps think about maybe changing their actions, but only if they want to, and if its not too much bother, and maybe not right now if that's not entirely convenient for them, then nothing will change!

We need men who dare to stand out. Men who will make a commitment and stick to it. Men who will fight against injustice. Men who will protect the weak. Men who are generous to those in need. Men who are not afraid to be honest. Men who are prepared to fight for the gospel truth. Men who will drop everything to follow God. Men who realise that this never was and never will be about them. Men who are filled with humility, love and compassion. Men who are bold in their integrity. Men who fight for things of eternal value, not temporary satisfaction. Men who seek God above all else.

Our culture needs a generation of men who will give everything they've got to be the 21st century Noah, Daniel, David, Samson, Boaz, Elijah, John, Peter, Paul... Jesus.

But ultimately, this will not happen unless they are standing alongside women who are honest, pure of heart, prayerful, loving, kind, gracious, generous, forgiving, and gentle, but also bold, brave, courageous, just, strong, fearless and full of integrity.

This change isn't going happen over night, but it needs to start now with people who dare to pray for revival.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Up, up and away. And a new word...

As it is now the beginning of 2014, I wanted to write a little post about how my word for 2013 turned out, how God worked in 2013, and what my word for this year is.

Some of you may remember that my word for last year was 'Up'.  You can read about that here.

I grew up: I lived by myself for several months, learned the ins and outs of the working world, had 3 jobs over the summer, then moved to university, learning more about who God has made me along the way.

I moved up: I moved up North to Durham for university and honestly feel like it's one of the best decisions God has ever prompted me to make. I have had the most amazing first term and am beyond excited to see what God has in store for me in the next 3 years up there.

I looked up: God has been so gracious in continually revealing more of himself to me even when I've not been very good at making the effort to discover more. The more I learn the more I love, which seems obvious seeing as God is love, but I've been so surprised by the capacity God has given me to love others and be passionate, all the while moving up closer to Him.

So what is my word for this year? Good question.

After sifting through a million and twenty ideas, I decided on a word that encapsulates what I want to do, who I want to be, and what I know of God.

For me this means...
Free from old chains.
Free from fear.
Free from unhealthy expectations.
Free from doubt.
Free from worldly restrictions.
Free from selfishness.
Free to make the changes God requests.
Free to follow God where he calls.
Free to be myself.
Supernatural freedom.

For others this means...
They will know God's love for free.
They can receive from me for free.
They can receive God's riches for free.
They can be themselves for free.
They will learn to be free.

And all of this is inspired by this verse:

Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM.
~2 Corinthians 3:17

I hope that makes sense. I don't always.
Bring on 2014.