Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Posted by Erin Posted on 12:55 PM | No comments

Becoming Primal: A Book Review

Mark Batterson's new book, Primal, has hit shelves and my bedside table. In his book, Mark poses the question, "What would your Christianity look like if it were stripped down to the simplest, rawest, purest faith possible?" His answer? " You would have more, not would have primal Christianity."

But what is the simplest form of Christianity? My first thought was along the lines of facts... You know, the basics of the gospel. I'm a sinner. I can't save myself. Jesus came, lived without sin, and died in my place so I can be reconciled with God. But Mark takes the reader beyond the facts to the heart. Once you know the facts, there are 4 elements in us that are stirred. The problem is as we get further away from the point where we were changed by the cross, we tend to become numb to these elements. Mark invites the reader to rediscover compassion, wonder, curiosity, and power.

Now, I must admit that I have not finished the book and that what I have read thus far, I have read with my mind. And in reading with my mind, there have been some good thoughts and interesting points, but sadly, I have not allowed it to change my heart. My plan is to re-read Primal in the new year and approach it with a prayerful heart, ready to learn. Even in reading with my mind I can recognize that I have lost my compassion. Things that used to make me weep now only make me shake my head at the most. And I have lost my wonder. I don't take the time ( because I don't have any to spare as my logic would argue) to sit and be amazed at the creativity that made the sky or trees or the endless colors in creation. I don't risk thinking of what could be because I am afraid of what I might lose. And I certainly don't live as though the Most High Powerful God accepts me and offers me access to Him.

If you are like me, and find yourself bored and numb, or possibly annoyed with Christianity as we are currently experiencing it, you should pick up a copy of Primal. But let's read it with humility, expecting it to open our eyes and even more, expecting The Holy Spirit to renew the primal heart of Christianity that we first experienced at the cross.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Posted by Erin Posted on 12:59 PM | 4 comments

Becoming a Wife(eventually)

When I was 17, I planned out my life. I was about to graduate and head off to college. It was decided: I would find the man I would spend the rest of my life with in college, we would date for a while, be engaged by the time I was 21 and married right after graduation. It sounded like a good plan to me and since I had been obedient when the Lord compelled me to not date in high school, I figured He owed me the blessing of an early marriage.

Next month I will be 26. I didn't meet my husband in college. I didn't even meet a boyfriend in college. somehow, I didn't exactly expect my commitment at 15 to not date would carry over 11 years. But here I am, single as the day I was born and as single as I have been every day since. And I realize that, despite what the world would have me and you think, I am far from alone in this dateless life of mine. Many of my friends have never been on a date. *Shocking*. When I consider how beautiful and godly many of these ladies are, it baffles me to think that no man has pursued them. But, it also gives me hope that I am not just a freak.

For as long as I can remember, I have had two dreams that continue to rise to the shore. They ebb and flow and sometimes I nearly forget about them, but then the tide rises and there they are again, threatening to drown me in "if only's". The first and less tumultuous than the other, is my desire to sing and perform. I want to stir people's souls with theater and music. This surfaces mostly after seeing a brilliant performance such as the one I saw last night. The Phantom of the Opera will change your life. The second is (obvious if you read everything previously written in this article) to be wife and mother. And this desire, well the tide of this desire rises whenever the bloody hell it wants. I can build seawalls and put sandbags around my home to keep it out, but I haven't figured out a way to keep it at low tide.

So what does a chronically single woman do about such things? I am not convinced that I am actually supposed to perform on a stage and change lives that way. I am, however, convinced that the Lord has in my future, a husband, and beautiful children.

"If you're called to be a pastor you go to seminary. If you're called to be a doctor you go to medical school. Most people set goals on the path toward realizing their calling. Why should marriage be any different?
After years of praying for my future mate and thinking that was all I could do, I realized I needed to be intentional about my desire for marriage and family. I needed to be realistic about my prospects and honest about what I brought to the table, deliberate about how I spent my time, and resourceful. I had to put aside whimsical romantic notions and grab onto the truth of what marriage is and what it isn't."-Thinking about Marriage by Candice Watters

Thank you Candice for that input. I couldn't have said it better myself. Let's start with the first thing you mentioned: prayer.

Growing up in the church, you see a strange pattern as you go from youth to adult. As a youth in the church, you are taught that marriage is good, created by God as a gift and a tool. Most people are designed for marriage and you should wait till marriage to have sex. Now, before anyone loses it, I completely agree that sex outside of marriage is wrong. But, does anyone else see that wrapped up in the "true love waits" campaign is the assumption that at some point, the one making the commitment will be married? Yes, I know that really we should stay pure for the praise of God, but how many 12-16 year olds are hearing that and not hearing, stay pure for your spouse? i would venture to say not many. So, church kid Jenny grows up learning that she should desire marriage and should expect it. And this being America, you have to throw in the "plan your life" mentality. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 years and ding! you have a single girl that is convinced it is time to marry.

And some girls do get married right after college. But what about the rest of us. We went to junior high where we were involved in choir, theater, sports, student council...everything, so we would be well rounded. Then we went to high school and narrowed it down to only three things. Then, after graduation, we went off to college to become an education major...but really to become a wife. And then graduation is over? But I am not engaged. I'm not even dating anyone. I've never dated anyone! What happened? ...the plan didn't unfold the way we believed it should. So we find a job...even a great job that we love and enjoy. We join a church and dive head first into the singles' ministry. And then we face the questions. "Why aren't you married?"(to which I always want to ask some absurd question like, "Why don't you have 3 eyeballs?") ..."Why aren't you dating?" "What do you want to do with your life?" And church kid-now woman Jenny doesn't feel like she can give her honest answer to that question. She wants to be a wife, but her well-meaning married AND single church friends tell her she should be content. She should be satisfied in the Lord. She shouldn't think so much about marriage. It happens when you aren't looking for it.

It happens when you aren't looking for it? Is that how you got the job you wanted? you looked and looked and looked and applied and applied and applied and nothing. Then you decided you were done with that. You went about your normal day: grocery store, nap, hang out with friends, go to church. And viola! Apple called and wanted you to join them at corporate headquarters. No. You prepared. You went to job fairs. You met people and let your intentions of wanting a job be known.

So, back to prayer. Jenny not only is embarrassed to tell others that she longs to be a wife, but she feels she should pray about more important things and not bother God with her silly girlishness. But ladies, have we not read the story of the persistent widow? Have we not read the verses about not having because we aren't asking. Did we not pay attention to Hannah's story of weeping at the alter and asking for a son? We are meant to pray for these things. We are meant to be bold in our requests. It delights the Lord to hear his children bring their longings to him. And prayer changes us and prepares us as well. So pray.

But don't let that be all you do. Prepare. I have been learning a lot about being honest about what i bring to the table. And while there is some good stuff I would bring, there is also currently some terrible stuff I would bring into a marriage. And so, I am beginning to work on those things. Financially, I need to get my act together. I don't have a ton of debt, but I have some. And saving money has never been a part of my adult life. I am working on that. I created a budget and I have made a plan to pay off my remaining debt and then start saving, with purpose. And I am also working on my physical health. I have some really bad habits when it comes to food and exercise. But those are things that can be changed...and need to be changed.

Now, let's talk about what marriage isn't. It isn't a self-esteem booster. It isn't meant to be the place I seek my ultimate value. It isn't an 80 year slumber party with your best friend. It isn't safe or easy or a romance comedy. It isn't financial security. It isn't an escape. It isn't a way to get that dresser from Pottery Barn that you've been wanting.

BUT IT IS...good. It is meant to drive us deeper into Christ because it will reveal so much grossness in us and because we will need Christ in us to love someone when we begin to see all of their grossness. It does enhance our relationship with God. Should we find our fulfillment in a spouse. No. But just because God can fully fulfill us, doesn't mean he won't use a spouse to do some of that fulfilling. "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Notice that the verse doesn't say Man does not live on bread AT ALL. Nope. It says alone. Which seems to me to say that, while God could sustain us with only scripture, he chooses not too. He gives us food too. So, i believe that applies to marriage as well. God could fulfill us merely by inviting us to enjoy our relationship with Him alone. But He chooses to give us other relationships as well, including marriage.

So there are my thoughts. A lot of them at least. All of this to say that I want to be a wife. And I am done pretending otherwise. I believe that the Lord has marriage as part of His plan for me and I will ask Him to do that. In the meantime, I will prepare. I will seek wisdom of those who are ahead of me in that journey. I will, with the Lord's strength, be wiser with my finances and health. I will invest in people along the way. And I will trust the Lord's timing as I faithfully take steps.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tonight I saw "He's Just Not into You" and I left angry and sad. I wanted to share with you somethings the movie teaches and somethings I actually learned.

What the movie taught:

1. If he isn't calling, it's because he's not into you. (makes sense)
2. If he wants to see you, he will make it happen. (ok. still on board)
3. If a man dates you for years and won't marry you, he's not into you (at least not enough to marry you...duh.)
4. If this man, who won't marry you, does the dishes and takes care of you, then it's worth giving up your hope for marriage because he's probably better than some husbands anyway (Sounds good, but is wrong.)
5. Just because someone is married, doesn't mean he isn't meant to be with you. Don't give up on being with him just because he is committed to someone else. (I'm sorry, what? Since when did this become wise advice?)
6. If you love someone, you are sleeping with them. (...)
7. All the conclusions women come to when they read into men's actions are wrong, but the act of reading into things is actually healthy and good because it means that you believe in love and have hope. (Contradiction much?)
8. No man actually wants to get married. The only reason men get married is because they feel trapped and obligated.
9. Marriage actually is horrible, but we should want it anyways.
10. Just because a man says he will call you, doesn't mean he actually will, but somehow, women should just take everything at face value. (Huh?)

What I learned:
1. Our world is very broken.
2. I am ok with not doing relationships the way the world does.
3. I value marriage and I am willing to wait for a man who will be faithful to me and with whom I can honestly work through the struggles of married life.
4. I need to be careful what advice and encouragement I offer to my girl-friends.
5. I want to a wise-godly mother who instills value and values into her daughter.
6. I am blessed to know godly men who walk in integrity, even if they are sometimes confusing.
7. The culture's way of doing things leads to confusion, heart ache, and emptiness.
8. I am blessed to know godly women who give me godly advice and don't just tell me what I want to hear.
9. Going to see a movie based on a book that was written by someone who created Sex in the City is not a good idea.
10. Most people still value marriage (based on the gasps and comments made by others in the movie theater. ie: When Drew Barrymore said something to the effect of "Are you supposed to let the man of your dreams pass just because he is married?" the girl behind me said, "YES!")

On a additional movie-going note, do not put your bare feet over the seat in front of you and rest them next to the head of the move-goer in front of you. That is just not ok. You are not in your living room. You do not know the person who is now 3 inches from your feet. It does not matter if you came straight from a pedicure. That is just not acceptable. And I even like feet, but seriously? (I started to reach over and tickle the feet just to make a point that it was awkward but I restrained myself and instead just politely asked them to put their feet down.)