Thursday, February 28, 2013

I'm Tired of Hearing That True Love Waits.

I'm a little scared to even write about this topic for fear that my intentions or feelings might be misunderstood . . . but you know, I've written a series on relationships and singleness before and I feel the need to approach that topic once again!

So here's what's on my heart.

Every Christian young woman has heard it before, probably about a thousand times: True love waits. You may have worn the ring with that motto, read all the books about it, heard the speakers, gone to the youth group events, sang the songs, taken the pledges, etc. And still you wait.

I understand that "true love waits" was initially intended to refer to purity and saving intimacy for a future husband, and don't get me wrong--that is so Biblical and so good (not to mention so counter-cultural). And maybe I'm about to be too hard on whoever first came up with that slogan, but hear me out. I am so tired of hearing that true love waits, and here's why.

First of all, in my estimation, about 95% of the time the concept of "waiting for marriage" is only addressed to women--not men. As if they don't need to wait, because they're not passive. They do, and they act, but we as women wait. Really? Is that really the message we want to send?

True love waits. I know that the "waiting" terminology started off meaning one thing, and a very honorable thing at that: preserving purity. But "waiting" has expanded way beyond its initial moorings in sexual purity, and it's become synonymous with this damaging overall attitude that pretty much all Christian single women are expected to have: you wait because it's the right thing to do, the only thing to do. You pray for a husband, and wait, and hone your domestic and babysitting skills, and learn how to cook a great lasagna and sew your own clothes, and then you wait some more. You put your life on hold because you're, you know, waiting. Because that's what true love does.

So many Christian young women I know have bought into this idea that finding a mate is the be-all and the end-all of life, and that until you find a husband, your life can't be complete. And so then your whole life is put in a holding pattern, and you're not getting anywhere, because you've placed marriage on a pedestal where it really doesn't belong, and you've idealized it. Or rather, you've idolized it.

And then, when women struggle to find a husband, a common problem, people around them start acting like God uses a form of divine reverse psychology, if you will. "Stop wanting it so much, and then you'll get it. Find your completeness in God, be spiritually satisfied in him, and when you least expect it, you'll find someone!" And then if it still doesn't happen, women who love Jesus more than anything and know it begin to question their own relationships with God, feeling like they've held up their end of the bargain and perhaps, He hasn't held up His. And the broken dreams can lead to broken spirits, leading women to want to rip the "true love waits" ring right off their finger and grieve because there's not an engagement ring to replace it. I don't mean to discount in any way the grief caused by an unfulfilled desire for a husband, because it is so real. I haven't been there yet, but friends have been there. Family has been there, and I know it is so painful to feel tantalized by something you feel like you just can't get.

But at its core, being spiritually satisfied in Christ is about being satisfied in Him and loving Him because He loved you first. He delights in you. He has written your name on the palms of His hands, engraved you on His heart. He sings songs of joy over you even if you never hear the sound. He laughs with you and cries with you and, in fact, even prays for you. Finding your joy and satisfaction in Jesus Christ is about that. Y'all, it's not a bargaining chip to find a husband. It's not like, "Just find your joy in the Lord, and then, you'll definitely be rewarded with a husband." It should not even be like that. Because knowing and loving the Lord is its own reward. It shouldn't be part of a deal we make with God. It shouldn't be something we cheapen to achieve our own ends. Am I guilty of trying to do that? Oh, yes, I am. We all are. Yet another reason why we all need grace, why Christ came to redeem lives just like ours.

And waiting, always waiting, for a mate, and engagement, and marriage, and a family . . . I think it engenders an attitude that we as women shouldn't be acting. We fall into the trap of thinking we shouldn't be out there pursuing our own dreams and living the lives God has blessed us with right now, because we should be waiting. I'm a feminist and I admit it, but isn't that a little archaic? Not trying to sound like Joel Osteen, but you can have your best life now. It doesn't have to be later. Don't wait to start the life God wants you to live. Don't wait for a husband. Don't wait for children. Don't wait to finally have that engagement ring on your left hand. Please, let's just stop waiting. Let's start pursuing our God-given passions, following God wherever He leads, dreaming, having a vision, and going for it. True love doesn't just have to wait. True love can act, and dream, and pursue a vision NOW. Go for it now. I promise, you won't miss the wait.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Best Is Yet To Come.

Late last night, I got an exciting email about an opportunity for my third year of law school that I have never even thought about or expected to have. I'm not sure if I will move forward with it or not, but just the same, it made me filled with anticipation for what next year--and beyond, the future, the great unknown--will hold.

I'm a huge planner, and so often I honestly catch myself thinking that I've probably contemplated pretty much every angle my life could possibly take--as far as how my career trajectory will go, what my family will look like, where I might live, etc. I know it's crazy, but I sometimes feel like there's no way the future will surprise me THAT much, because surely I've considered most of the paths my life will logically follow. But then God gently reminds my heart that I haven't seen anything yet. You can't out-plan God. You can't out-dream Him. You can't get to a place of such stable expectancy that He is no longer able to surprise you!

If I would have known ten years ago everything that was going to happen to me in the next decade, I would never have been able to handle the weight of that knowledge. That's why not knowing is such a blessing. And even though I didn't know ahead of time, God took me into each day and gave me what I needed, when I needed it. There are things that I've done in the last few years that I never would have thought I could do, until the time came, and I found that I had the strength to move forward. (For example, I was just reminiscing this morning about my first day in this city, when I was panicking about everything, got in a fender bender at a Zaxby's, and was about to pack my bags then and there and quit law school because I didn't think I could handle it. I'm so glad I didn't because I have been so blessed here).

Sometimes I feel fearful of the next couple of years, particularly in the job realm. My thoughts frequently look like this: Oh my goodness will I get a job if so where will it be what if I hate my job will I have enough money how will I repay my student loans I'm freaking out!! But every step of the way, God is there. Helping me, holding my hand, teaching me that He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever. Whispering to me that I need to keep living in wide-eyed wonder, because the best is yet to come. My future holds amazing possibilities that I haven't even thought about yet. Yours holds potential that's beyond what you can imagine now. Don't even try to imagine it all, because there will still be surprises. Embrace that spiritual adrenaline rush once in awhile--God delights to surprise you with blessings you never imagined could be yours!

Here's what I want to do in the next ten years: Write blogs and e-books and regular books and inspire people through my writing to a closer, more passionate, life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. Practice law and help people in my career. Work in legal education and administration. Travel travel travel. Live in new cities. Become debt-free. Buy my own home. See the Northern Lights, sunrise over the Grand Canyon, and the Holy Land. Those plans make me really excited but . . . God's plans for my life are still better. And the same is true for you. Get on the roller coaster and hold on for the ride, because I know one thing: it's going to be exciting.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Power Made Perfect in Weakness

It has seemed like almost everyone I know has had a bad case of the Monday blues today! It could be because it is absolutely freezing here (much colder than it was in North Carolina this weekend), or that it has rained here almost every single day since I came back from sunny Fort Lauderdale . . . two weeks ago. But weather aside, I think we could all use a little extra encouragement on this chilly Monday!

I was reading these verses today, and they really gave me the boost I needed to tackle this day:

"But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

God's power is made perfect IN our weakness. Not after we overcome our weakness, but in the midst of it, His power is there, proving itself most effective on our behalf. And when we learn to celebrate our weaknesses as an opportunity for God to show His power through us, then His power will rest upon us all the more fully. The Greek word here translated "rest upon" actually means something more like "to pitch a tent over" or "to dwell with," and I love that imagery. Christ's power may pitch a tent over us . . . may dwell with us . . . may rest upon us.

The power of the risen Christ is available to us at all times, and as we learn to embrace the inevitable weakness and difficulty we all face in areas of our lives, it will become ever more real to us, transforming our own weakness into Christ's strength operating through us. This is indeed one of many divine paradoxes . . . when I am weak, then I am strong. Because His grace is always sufficient for us.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Thoughts on Young People and Church

Readers, I've written about why young adults are disillusioned with church before, and I recently read this blog post on the topic and wanted to share it with you. I completely resonate with and agree with the reasons this author gives for the mass exodus of young adults from the American church. I know that this is not an easy thing to talk about and that both of these posts are likely to step on some toes, but I'd love to know what you all think about this issue, because it's definitely an important one.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Blog to Check Out . . .

And in other news . . . I hope you all will take a minute to check out my sister's new blog. It's brand-new so there's not a lot of content yet, but I know she would love to get some readers right away as she's trying to minister to women in the Richmond community and beyond. Thanks!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mini-Vacation to the Mountains

This week has been eventful.

My team and I FINALLY submitted our Moot Court brief. And now we have the entire weekend off before we start bench practices for oral arguments. I definitely got some experience having to write a paper in support of something I don't believe in at all, but I am really glad that I get to present the opposite side later in oral arguments.

My computer came down with what IT told me was practically a record-setting number of viruses. But thankfully, it's all fixed now. I'm thinking that pretty much everything that was wrong with my laptop over the past month--the fact that my email wasn't really working, the ads that would pop up everywhere, the way Microsoft Word would shut down if I typed too fast--might have all had something to do with these viruses, because all of those problems are gone now.

I called about a gazillion people with our admissions recruiting phone campaign.

I met this sweet older couple at my new church on Sunday who took me out to lunch, and we shared our stories with each other over chicken and sweet tea. They told me that they've "adopted" some law students in the past and helped them have a bit of a home away from home, and I definitely got the feeling that they'd be willing to do the same for me.

I participated in the closing argument competition and got a lot more practice with how to make your final impression on the jury when you try a case.

I went to (some of) my classes. Not all of them, because for about a day and a half, my Moot Court team and I were camped out in the student lounge almost round-the-clock, hunched over energy drinks and packs of peanut M&M's, writing and cite-checking in a desperate last-minute mission to get our paper done.

I researched a bunch of law scholarships and writing competitions and got motivated to find some law firms or companies or memorial funds to pay for my 3L year.

I managed to go to the gym a couple times. Life lesson of the week: Don't go to the gym with your friend who's been in the military unless you want to do pushups until your arms are about to fall off! I guess what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, though!

And now, in about twelve short hours, I am headed back to my North Carolina mountains to visit the family this weekend. :) It is much-needed. I have been working a LOT and am so excited to breathe for a bit. I am planning to not check my email, or open a book, for the entire weekend.  Well, at least not a law-related book. Here's the heaviest reading I plan to do (and of course, some serious catching up on life in my journal):

Looking forward to some of the usual activities with Mom and Dad: hitting up the best thrift stores in Asheville, talking and talking and catching up on everything, watching some Big Bang Theory/ Criminal Minds/ HGTV, and just taking it easy.
Hope y'all have wonderful weekends!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Rest Day.

This is my first day "off" in two weeks and I am already *loving* it. That may not seem like a long time, but trust me, it feels like a long time! I've been going full speed ahead and having long days of work, classes, studying, meetings, competition practices, errands, and editing projects. Every time I "skip" a weekend and don't get a chance to breathe because I'm too busy, I'm reminded that there is definitely a reason why we're not supposed to go more than 7 days without stopping to rest! Have a Sabbath, if you will. A pause, a chance to be still.

Last night was my first full night of sleep in about as long and I feel SO refreshed this morning. I really can't function for too long on 3-4 hours of sleep a night, but that's exactly what I've been trying to do. This week I was assigned a manuscript to edit on Wednesday that was due yesterday, which was a much quicker turnaround than usual, and my Moot Court team is scrambling to get our brief completed in the next couple days. But I have to meet those deadlines whether I get to sleep or not, so I just have to do what I can!

But anyway, today is my day to go to the gym, clean, run errands, do some healthy cooking for the week, etc. And I'm taking myself out to a movie matinee this afternoon because I feel like treating myself a little bit! And in case you're wondering the results of this week's fitness challenge: mile run in 11:50. I know--that's worse than last week and this could get really embarrassing if my time keeps going up instead of getting better! But next week is a new week and I'm determined to keep working on it. I could have just been not feeling up to it this week.

OK, I'm off to go make my new favorite salad ever for lunch--spinach, lemon-butter salmon, goat cheese, strawberries, blueberries, and almonds, topped with a lemon juice/ olive oil/ honey dressing. SO good. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Florida in February :)

So this weekend, my friend/ teammate and I, plus our two coaches, went down to Fort Lauderdale to compete in an ABA regional "client counseling" competition. (Basically, the idea is that you and your partner are acting as attorneys meeting with a new "client" for the first time, played by an actor. You're scored on how well you elicit information from the client, build a rapport with them, explain the relevant law to them, and help them to come up with appropriate solutions.)

We had a really good time, and we ended up making it to the semifinals before we got eliminated. I think we were all pretty happy with how we did given that we only had a few short weeks to practice, prepare, and learn the appropriate areas of substantive law. Plus, it was definitely fun to take a little mini-vacation to Florida in February. I could not go to law school down there. Seeing palm trees out my classroom window and knowing the beach is a short drive away would be too distracting! So here are some pictures from the trip:

Lake right outside the law school. Talk about distraction. 

This picture totally cracks me up.

OK, this one turned out a little better.


At our post-competition seafood dinner by the beach

We ended up getting back from FL late Saturday night. And as of Sunday, I have a new job for next school year: managing editor of the Law Review. I know it will be a lot of work, but I'm really excited to have that opportunity to represent my school, and I have fantastic people to work with who are also new members of the editorial board for next year.
So all in all, a very busy but very good weekend! Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fitness Challenge Week 1

Mile time: 11:36. I know that needs some major improvement, but that's why I'm doing this!

Well I'm leaving for Fort Lauderdale today for a client counseling competition and my mind is going a million miles an hour . . . this is going to be the busiest weekend EVER. I will update you all when I get back!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Blog Fitness Challenge

First, a confession: I've been trying to get in shape for pretty much FOREVER. The thing is, I haven't really been trying all that hard--which is probably why I haven't succeeded yet. And tonight at the gym, I just got tired of it, and I decided it is time to do something about it.

I want to be able to go for long runs without having to stop and catch my breath soon after I begin. I want to be able to do half-marathons, play sports, do strength training, etc., without being held back anymore by my overall lack of physical fitness. I want to go to my high-intensity training class (which is like boot camp) and do every single exercise without an issue. And perhaps most of all, I want to actually get into a truly consistent and challenging exercise routine, and I want to do it now--because I don't want to realize a few years down the road that I've turned into a totally sedentary adult, because at that point it may almost be too late to change my habits. Looking further down the road, I want to be that 85-year-old that still plays tennis and still goes to the gym every morning (well, that may be kind of hard since I don't actually play tennis now, but you know what I mean: I want to be active and healthy no matter what age I am.) And I also know that physical fitness is probably the biggest factor--I really think even more so than diet and nutrition--in preventing conditions like heart disease and diabetes (and these conditions are much more likely to affect sedentary people whether they are at a healthy weight or not).

But the problem is that I always push exercise and caring for myself to the bottom of my priority list when life gets busy. You can always be too busy to work out if you want to be! And really, the busier I am, the more I need to exercise, because it is such a good stress-reliever for me.

That said, the challenge: I want to be more accountable about health, fitness, and my efforts to get in shape, especially in terms of stamina and endurance. One of the biggest specific goals I have in that area is to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes me to run one mile (last I checked, the best I can do is a slightly embarrassing more than 10 minutes. That's not anywhere near half-marathon-ready, and I really want to improve). So, I am planning to start running, and exercising in general, a whole lot more. I'm expecting that the more active I become, the more time I can shave off that run.

And for the accountability part? Every week, I'm going to time myself running a mile on the treadmill or the track. And every Friday, starting this one, I'm going to post my time on the blog. Having it out there for the world to see will hopefully motivate me a lot to make it the best I can do! So check back on Fridays and we'll see how I'm doing. :)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect.

It really doesn't. Life doesn't have to be perfect. You and I don't have to be perfect. Our goals and dreams don't have to be perfect. Our days don't have to be perfect. Our friends don't have to be perfect.

I was really reminded of this this week when I was reading one of the alumni blogs from my college. One writer, a 2009 grad, was talking about how you can't be afraid to have your career path meander a little--or a lot. You can't be afraid to try new things, and ultimately, you can't be afraid to fail. And you can't be so focused on finding the "perfect" job or "perfect" life that anything less than that ephemeral and elusive ideal feels like settling. And she reminded readers of this classic quote:

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Just don't. Don't pursue an ideal that you know can never really happen when if you opened your eyes, you just might see a satisfying possibility right in front of you. I'm all for not settling, and holding out for the best, but sometimes by doing that, I've ignored something great. Don't let "not settling" turn into a paralyzing inaction while you wait around for perfection, because it won't happen. Perfect shouldn't be the goal--"good" or "excellent" or "satisfying and fulfilling" should be.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Breakdowns . . .

It has just been one of those weeks--frustrating, annoying, and SO long! I have had at least 12-hour days of work, classes, and meetings every day this week, and often longer. They've been the kind of days where you literally have no more than 15 minutes of free time in 12 hours because you're sprinting from one obligation to the next and trying to be everything to everybody. I admit that I have spread myself way too thin, but sometimes there are seasons in life where that happens and you just have to do the best you can.

This has also been one of those weeks where everything has been breaking down or in need of fixing for one reason or another--my computer, my car, my schedule, my plans, and even my health, as I've been dealing with some physical issues (which hopefully will turn out to be pretty minor). I haven't been going to the gym. I haven't been writing. I haven't been sleeping enough, or spending enough time with friends, or with God. And I miss it. I need to return to a healthier routine. Even though I don't think I really buy into the lie that my worth as a person is contingent on how much I can accomplish in a day, sometimes I sure act like it! It's easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking that I always have to do more. I have to study more, I have to read more, I have to research more, go to more meetings, work more hours, etc. But sometimes I just need to be still. Pause. Selah.

And it's been a week that has tried my patience in a lot of ways. Lately I've been in a place where I've had to work with a couple of people that I'll admit I really dislike. Being around someone who continually makes uncalled-for comments is certainly one way to learn patience, though! And it will get better soon. Until then, I'm going to look for the silver lining, and here are some things I'm definitely thankful for right now:

People who make me die laughing.
Catching up on The Biggest Loser on
Golden delicious apples.
My warm and cozy apartment.
Leopard-print flats.
2 Corinthians 4. The whole chapter. Amazing.
The stranger who went out way of her way to help me find the office I was looking for on the undergrad campus today.
Mint chocolate chip ice cream.
People who remind me why I'm doing all this and why it's worth it.