To the college grad who doesn’t have a ring on her finger.

The life you’re walking into … it was never meant to be second best, like a waiting room until you get the things you really want. It was meant to be the story that brings you the most joy, sets you up to know God the best. God rigged it that way, not because He doesn’t love you … but because He does.

 

*****

I wouldn’t have called myself boy crazy in college. I had great friends, guys included. I dated a little, but for the most part, I wouldn’t say I was worried about it. I was just living my life.

But that lack of worry betrayed a very present reality – I always had a quiet, deep-set desire for marriage that I just assumed would work out by the time I got a diploma.

And when it didn’t, suddenly all of that delayed worry caught up with me. I felt like I had been thrown out into a big, blank future in which the plans I’d always had didn’t make a lot of sense anymore. Up until now, all the steps had pretty much been laid out, from kindergarten to a bachelor’s degree. I didn’t have a road map for a life that didn’t include the logical next thing – a husband and family.

I had coffee the other day with a new friend who’s graduating from college this month, and she said what I remember feeling in that season of life – that she never thought she’d be heading out into the wild blue yonder of adulthood alone. She thought she’d be engaged by now, and she was nowhere close, not even a prospect in sight.

So for all my sisters in that same spot, I wish I could offer you a chair, hand you a cup of coffee, give you a second to take a deep breath … and tell you a few truths to tuck in your heart as you walk off your campus and out into the world.

1. God hasn’t forgotten you.

When others around you are booking the campus chapel and you’re buying multiple bridesmaids dresses, it’s hard not to think that God might’ve missed a step somewhere along the way. But I promise you … He hasn’t. And the fact that He hasn’t brought you the same thing He’s brought some of your friends doesn’t mean He loves you less, or that you did anything wrong, or that you’re less than.

I remember after college thinking that the way I’d grown up viewing God didn’t add up in this new single space that soon stretched from days into years … I thought a life of obedience would naturally give way to the kind of life I had always expected.

What I’ve learned since is that God’s story isn’t a Southern culture formula, or a church culture formula, or even a “there’s a right person out there for everyone” formula.

It’s a giant, intricate story with billions of moving parts that are designed to be beautiful and messy and amazing and have only this goal – for you to know God as well as you possibly can, to share that with others in the best way possible and to spend eternity face to face with Him.

There are some things we as a culture say to each other, things like “the right person will come along when the time is right,” or “God’s timing is perfect, just keep waiting,” and they sound good in the moment. Most people who have a spouse, I’m sure they would say that they came along at the right time in their lives. And God’s timing is perfect – that we know. But nowhere in the Bible does He promise to bring you or me a spouse.

What He promises instead is that if we totally let go of the things we hold onto in this world – houses, lands, families, or dreams of all of the above – He would be everything we need and give us more and more of Himself, to the point that we can’t hold it all. That, friends, is the kindest thing He could give us, not a husband and kids.

For me, that meant reading His Word and praying to know Him for who He really was, not the God I always thought would be the means to the dreams I had for myself. It meant seeing who He was to the point I wanted to trade everything I had for the field with the treasure buried in it.

I wrestled a lot. It took some time to let all that go and let God start to replace it with Himself. But the story He wrote for me in that space was one of overflowing joy. An amazing sense of His presence. A desire to know Him more.

Some of you will get married at some point down the road. Some of you won’t. From day to day, we never know what might happen in God’s story, that great big narrative that we get to be a part of.

But I encourage you … let go of the desire to orchestrate things, or control them, or make decisions based on what you don’t have yet. In Christ, we have everything.

Don’t wait to let go. Don’t wait to chase God with abandon.

2. The life you’ve got isn’t a consolation prize.

The life you’re walking into … it was never meant to be second best, like a waiting room until you get the things you really want. It was meant to be the story that brings you the most joy, sets you up to know God the best. God rigged it that way, not because He doesn’t love you … but because He does.

So … dive into it. Don’t make yourself busy to try to fill the gaps in your heart, but ask God to guide you to the places where you can invest your life. Places where you can get to know people. Places where you can help others know God too.

I have friends who are foster moms. They don’t foster kids because they are trying to fill the “motherhood” desire themselves … they do it because they feel compelled to use their gifts with kids to care for the orphan. I have friends who are teachers, single missionaries, businesswomen, mentors and a hundred other things, and they feel like God put them there on purpose. Are there struggles? Sure. But can God be everything He says He is? Absolutely.

There are a thousand things you can do and be. Ask God to be your everything, and then in His leading, go find them and do them.

3. Know that it’s okay. Promise.

You’re not a unicorn.

There are so many women out there walking the same road. So many. I meet them all the time, by the dozens. Find them. Get together and share the struggles of broken dreams … but spend even more time talking about who God is and what He’s doing in your life that’s good. Spur each other on to know Him, to know the life He has for you.

Deep breaths, everybody.

God’s got you.

Now go and truly live.

*****

i dont wait anymore

Want to read more on this topic?

“I Don’t Wait Anymore” the book, now at a variety of retailers. Check it out here.

It’s the story of shaking off broken dreams and expectations to follow God to something better — to a far better story, to a life of knowing God as the prize worth our whole lives.

You want in? I’d love it if you’d come along.

(And if you’d like to read a free chapter, feel free to look here.)

It’s not my story. It’s ours.

You feel vulnerable?

That’s the message I got from a friend after “I Don’t Wait Anymore” stopped floating around in non-reality and found itself in the hands of a few friends, family and strangers a few weeks ago.

Yes. Yes I do feel vulnerable.

I’ve felt uncomfortable. Exposed. Fidgeting on the couch while my biggest failures and most gut-wrenching moments with God float around out there in people’s living rooms and cars and Kindles.

All the things.

But after the shock hit my soul and I realized this new form of transparency wasn’t gonna kill me, something different happened. I heard from some people. I heard from some who didn’t love it. But I heard from others who said this is my story, too. This is exactly my story.

Y’all. I’d love to have a cup of coffee.

It’s our story. And I’d love to hear how God is writing yours.

IMG_6496Sure, it’s my breakup, my broken dreams, my grief over losing a friend that’s all written down in there. It’s my wrestling with God as He broke me of my selfish desires and showed me who He really is and what He’s worth.

But a whole bunch of us have been there, that place where things didn’t work out the way we thought they should, and people were telling us to internet date even though we didn’t really want to, and at night we sat around and felt the restlessness and uncertainty well up from our bones while we watched reruns of Friends.

A whole bunch of us have been in that spot where God didn’t really feel super close, and what felt super close instead was the disappointment of another failed fertility treatment, or the pain of putting a coffin in the ground.

A whole bunch of us have been in that spot where we didn’t quite know where to go from here and thought is this what God’s about? Do I even want any part in this?

A whole bunch of us have struggled.

But I’ve heard from sisters and brothers who are drinking their cup of coffee on the other side of the struggle, having tasted God and thrown everything else down to chase Him as the prize and let Him write the story of their lives. 

We’ve all got scars. We all still struggle. But we’ve got stories to swap of the way God brought us to the point of total surrender. Peace in the midst of pain. Inexpressible, glorious joy.

It’s made me thankful, hearing from you guys. Thankful for a God who chases us. Thankful for the journey that He has us all on, the one where we can see His love pursuing us with intentionality if we’ll just look.

It’s made me glad our paths have converged.

But it’s also made me thankful hearing from you sisters and brothers still fighting the restlessness and uncertainty in your bones. It’s a familiar spot … and I’m holding out a hand to you, friend. If you want to grab onto this story and see if it’s yours too, with trembling heart I say give it a read. But with a steady voice I’ll tell you one thing.

That joy, that peace … it’s real. He’s real. He’s worth everything. Make your life about knowing Him, and  when hard things come, you’ll see — it’s different. He’ll never, ever disappoint.

It’s a story you’ll never get tired of telling … or of living.

*****

i dont wait anymore

Are you ready to let go? Or at least ready to think about it?

His story’s just waiting for you to reach out and grab it.

Now at Barnes & Noble and other retailers. Check it out here.

Spots.

He gave them what they needed. He made His glory known through their pain. And ultimately He delivered them in the way and timing He knew was best.

But never once did He miss a thing. 

 

IMG_6360

They found a spot on my dad’s lung a couple of weeks ago.

It was just a tiny spot, about the size of the piece of grit that fell out of my shoe Tuesday when Heather and I went for a walk. When I finally stopped and shook it out, it hit the pavement like lint, soundless and light. In the moments before it fell out into the sunshine, it had ground into my heel like an ice pick.

Heather laughed. I did, too.

Things like that can feel so big sometimes.

Dad’s spot had popped up on a routine scan, a little piece of grit, unknown and dark. We didn’t know how long it had been there. We didn’t know what it was.

And that was scary.

As I lay in bed one night, things rolling around in my mind, I rolled over on my side, pulled the covers over my head and curled my knees up to my chest.

And from my tiny dark spot, I whispered.

God, you see it, right?

That spot … you see it?

And you see me too?

Lately I feel like there have been a few things that have popped up, little dark spots that I don’t quite know how to handle. Things that make me uncomfortable. Things that I feel unequipped to deal with. Things I don’t love.

And I’ve curled up under the covers more than a few times, right into those spots, and whether I realized it or not, I thought it.

This spot’s outside God’s line of sight. It’s gotta be.

I know that’s not true. But subconsciously I’ve been treating some of them like that, and because of that they’ve been rubbing me raw, boring into my soul like ice picks in my running shoes.

It’s as if I think that spot is the one place where maybe He isn’t going to be who He says He is.

Or that maybe it’s the one place in my life where maybe He just won’t come through, that He just won’t be enough.

Or that maybe the spot where God brought me to save me is now the spot where He’s going to leave me to figure it out on my own.

Or that maybe I’m the only person to ever find myself here.

But it’s not a new problem.

When God’s people found themselves in Egypt, the place where God brought them by design to save them from dying in a famine, they trusted Him at first. But then later, they found themselves stuck, uncomfortable, hurt.

And they thought that spot where the salvation had been, the spot that now wasn’t super comfortable, might just be out of God’s sight.

But God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant … and God saw the people. And God knew.

He heard.

He remembered.

He saw.

He knew.

And He gave them what they needed. He made His glory known through their pain. And ultimately He delivered them in the way and timing He knew was best.

But never once did He miss a thing.

There’s no spot that escapes His reach, no zip code in which He’s not who He is. That goes for Dad’s spot, for my spot under the covers, for the places I feel like maybe my own inadequacies prevent God from being able to do what He intends to do.

He sees.

He knows.

He loves.

And He meets us even – especially – in those spots.

IMG_6311

(@gracefortheroadblog on Instagram)

*****

i dont wait anymore

 

It’s almost here, guys. What in the world. 

“Have you been waiting for life to turn out the way you expected?

… You’re not alone.”

“I Don’t Wait Anymore” the book, available here.

Sober.

I’m up early this morning. Extra early. The kind of early that hurts.

My eyes are full of sandpaper, but my mind is running all-out sprints, like it’s on an episode of Supermarket Sweep and trying to get to the diapers and “grind your own coffee” aisle faster than anyone else.

It’s like those moments in college when you wake up and on the way to the bathroom bump into a friend who never went to bed the night before. It feels like my mind’s been up drinking Mountain Dew and eating Whatchamacallits and writing Analysis of Lit papers all night, just waiting for morning to crack open the sky so the rest of the world would wake up and join it.

Not cool.

But it can’t be reasoned with. So I go ahead, get on up and make a cup of tea.

When I’m not exhausted, I love the early hours. Jesus is there. His Word is loud in the mornings when the house is quiet and my soul is quiet.

But it’s still hard to hear if my brain is causing a ruckus all its own.

I switch on the lamp and sink into the chair. I need this. I do every day, but especially today. I’m in a season of crazy. Work’s been so busy this month that carving out time to sit with Jesus has taken incredible effort and discipline. Some days, even with effort, it doesn’t happen. Some days it costs sleep when sleep is small and precious. Some weeks it means I’m sleeping next to an unfolded pile of clean laundry for nights on end.

But that laundry not getting folded doesn’t cause my soul to fray at the edges.

Not getting enough Jesus does.

So in that regard, I’m grateful I’m up early.

But even wide awake in the 4 a.m. silence, getting my soul to quiet down today is like wrestling a toddler to sit still in church. It doesn’t need to be running up and down the pews, drawing on things, making noise. It doesn’t need to be running over grocery lists and scheduled meetings and stories that need writing and espresso beverages that need making in the next 18 hours.

What it needs is to be still.

But in that moment, it won’t listen when I tell it that that’s for later — right now it’s time to be quiet. Because you won’t make it through the day without it.

I rub my gritty eyes and sit in the silence, staring at the words I want to soak past the cloud of thoughts and into my heart. I read the words of 1 Peter aloud, over and over to my wildly running mind.

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Action is definitely a concept my brain gets. It’s had its running shoes on all night. All month. Like a boss, if it can say so. Commute to work, commute to second job, buy groceries, get gas, make lunch, lay out clothes, pack bags, sleep, repeat insanity.

But I’m not sure that’s what Peter’s talking about. The Word is loud on that point.

Prepared for action. Sober-minded, not just cranking out thoughts. My mind is to be disciplined just like my schedule — a weapon locked and loaded to make every moment count, but not running wildly in the moments where preparation is more important than action.

Like I make my schedule sit still, I have to make my mind sit still, too.

I have to trade the chaos of a toddler for the discipline of a soldier, a mind hopped up on Mountain Dew for a mind locked on the hope of Christ.

That’s not easy.

But Jesus never said it would be easy.

He just told us He would give us all of Himself if we give Him all of ourselves — our mind, our soul, our strength.

Our heart.

So practically that means I have to call upon His strength to sit my heart still. I have to do what it takes to settle my spirit on God. I read verses over and over aloud, soaking them in, emphasizing their words to my heart. I journal out what those words are asking me to do when I get up in a few minutes, put on my shoes and let my mind start running.

IMG_5439

And as I sit in the car in the parking lot of my job preparing myself for the next thing, I pray for God to instill those words in my heart, in my day. That, as Peter said, I would honor others more than myself. That I would show love to everyone. That I would be prepared to give an answer for the hope that I have. That with my conduct, I could win those I live among even without a word.

And that more than anything, I would live with a mind set on the One who gave everything so that I could live as those who are free.

I think sometimes we have a tendency to live like having a mind set on God makes everything weighty and serious. And in a way, that’s true. It’s eternal hope we’re dealing with.

But in reality, fixing our minds soberly on God in every detail of our day releases our anxieties into His hands and gives us freedom.

Freedom from being ruled by the tasks of the day.

Freedom from living like I’m in survival mode.

Freedom from the world.

Freedom, because what can man do to me when I have everything in God?

Nothing.

So this morning, I breathe.

Be sober, Grace.

Know where your hope is fully found.

Think like it. Live like it.

And carry that still certainty in your heart all day long.

*****

Sober-minded

 

 

 

(@gracefortheroadblog on Instagram.)