Why Am I Still So Discontent?

Why am I still so discontent

I recently got this message from someone: “I’m trying really hard right now to embrace singleness as a gift, as you mentioned in your post “Theology of Singleness.” I think it would help ease my mind to know more about the things I will experience in my relationship with God that I would not experience elsewhere, as well as the things that maybe a romantic relationship has that a relationship with God doesn’t (for example, sexual intimacy) and why these things are relatively unimportant or unnecessary when compared to knowing God.”

This reader expresses what many single people feel (or really any person who is longing for a good thing that God continues to say no to): I desperately want to believe God is enough for me, but I am still not convinced that knowing Him is better than marriage.

Why is this? How is it possible to believe that you don’t need marriage or children to be complete, that knowing God is really enough, that in His presence is the fullness of joy, and yet still feel so horrifyingly empty and unsatisfied?

After mulling over this question for a while, I’ve come to one likely conclusion: a low view of sin and therefore a low view of salvation.

My joy in God is directly correlated to how I view my sin. The smaller my sin seems, the less joyful. The greater my sin, the greater my joy.

Continue reading

A Jesus-Heart for Children, Part 2

a jesus heart for children

In the last post, we looked at how Jesus responded to children and how we can do the same. Whether or not we have children of our own, we need to cultivate a Biblical response to children.

But what would Jesus have to say to moms? Being a mother entails a whole other level of interaction with children. What can we learn from Jesus to apply to the day-in-day-out routine of motherhood?

YOU CAN’T GIVE WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “ Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Like no other generation before us, moms today have access to more information and parenting helps than ever. But I’m not sure if that has helped or hindered us. In fact, access to more information has probably created more Marthas, anxious and troubled about many things.

  • What sleep training method should I be doing?
  • What kind of baby food is the best?
  • Is my child getting enough sensory play time?
  • What kind of discipline should I be doing?
  • Are my kid’s friends good influences?
  • Homeschool or public school?
  • Music lessons or dance class?
  • Breast feeding or formula?

These are all good questions to ask, but too often they create anxiety and trouble in our hearts and frantic researching. But Jesus told us Marthas, there is one thing that is necessary. ONE THING.

What is that one thing? Sitting still with Jesus. Cultivating intimacy with Jesus, and a listening heart.

Isn’t this also the one thing we hope to pass on to our children? A desire to know and love Jesus above all else? That one day they would be strong men and women of faith, people who love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, who delight to do His will, and who are serving Him with their whole heart and their whole lives?

But how can we cultivate that if we don’t model it ourselves? We cannot give what we do not have. Let us not be like Martha, frantic and worried with good things and forgetting the best thing. This is the hard part, the things that distract us from Jesus usually aren’t bad. Martha was distracted by “much serving.” Serving is a good thing. But it distracted her from the BEST thing: Knowing Jesus. Being a good parent is a good thing and it can easily distract us from the best thing.

Continue reading

A Wife After God’s Own Heart, Part 2

a wife after God's own heart

As man’s power over woman is restrained by love, woman’s power over man is restrained by submission. Any woman knows that she has ways of getting her own way. These must be restrained. The kind of restraint God asks of her is submission. -Elisabeth Elliot

As wives, we have influence over our husbands but too often we use that power in self-centered ways, manipulating to get what we want when we want it. But to be a woman after God’s own heart is to think first and foremost about God and His Kingdom, then about others, and lastly about ourselves. So how can we grow to have that heart within our marriages? By learning to walk in the 3 clear commands God has given us to refine our influence in our marriages: help, submit, and respect.

In part 1, we discussed what it means to be a helper to our husbands. Please go back and read it if you haven’t yet as it sets the tone for the other two commands.

So now let’s move on to submission.

SUBMIT

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Ephesians 5:22-24

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.  1 Pet 3:1-2

Submission Defined

Submission is not just for wives. The concept to subjecting yourself to an authority is showcased in many arenas throughout the Bible: young men submit to elders, servants to masters, children to parents, and everyone is to submit to government, rulers and authorities, and to one another.

Submission simply means to operate under authority and have a disposition to yield to that authority. John Piper defines submission “not in terms of specific behaviors, but as a disposition to yield to the husband’s authority and an inclination to follow his leadership. It is a disposition rather than a set of behaviors or roles because mature femininity will express itself in so many different ways depending on the situation.” I agree with Piper that submission is much more an attitude than a set of behaviors.

Biblically, your husband holds a position and a rank over you. This is not due to his merit, his skill, or his personality. It is simply because God ordained men to be the authority in a marriage. A refusal to submit to a husband is a refusal to submit to God, since it was He who gave the command.

The mature woman acknowledges that submission is the will of God for her, and obedience to this will is no more a sign of weakness in her than it was in the Son of Man when He said, “Not my will but yours be done.” – Elisabeth Elliot

Continue reading

Marriage Gone Wrong: when codependency highjacks a beautiful union

marriage gone wrong

After the series I recently wrote dealing with codependency in friendship, a few people presented a very natural follow up question: If codependency isn’t ok in friendships, then should it be ok in marriage?

NO.

Remember, I’m defining codependency as tying your emotional sense of well-being to another person. To say it another way, it is giving more weight and importance to a person than to God. Assuming this definition, then codependency is NEVER ok. Even in marriage.

Unfortunately, codependency in marriage is an assumed reality for many. The truth is, most of us struggle to believe God is enough for us, so we are continually looking to people to make us feel ok. Because of this, a marriage can become a place where we finally feel like being codependent is acceptable. We hope, like the movies have portrayed, that we can bank on this person to fill the deepest parts of our longings and be the one on whom our general sense of wellbeing rests.

Continue reading

Friendships Gone Wrong, Part 6

friendship gone wrong

ROMANTICIZING FRIENDSHIP

“When we are completely immersed in a society of people who consider a particular idolatrous attachment normal, it becomes almost impossible to discern it for what it is.” –Tim Keller

The culture around us is like a current, gently pushing us along according to its philosophies.  Unless we are regularly clinging to the Truth and taking our thoughts captive to obey Christ (2 Cor 10:5), we will mindlessly drift along with this worldly current. This is why Paul encourages us to “see to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Col 2:8)

There is a new trend that seems harmless on the surface, but it is anything but safe: the romanticizing of friendships.  Though you may not have noticed this shift, it is very present. Just do a quick search of “best friends” or “BFF” on pinterest or google and here are a few things you will find:

“Friendiversary: anniversaries aren’t just for lovers anymore.”

Friendiversary

“20 Best Friend Date Ideas.”

20 Best Friend Date Ideas

Continue reading

Friendship Gone Wrong, Part 5

friendship gone wrong

If you’re just jumping into this conversation, I hope you will go back and read the first 4 parts of this series for some context. I’ve been talking about the problem of codependent friendships which are rooted in idolatry and casting a vision for the purpose of Biblical friendship.

STEPS TOWARD FREEDOM
If it is evident that you have been idolizing a person in your life and have become emotionally dependent on them, here are some basic steps you can take to move toward freedom. Please keep in mind that the degree of which these steps are needed is based on how deeply entrenched you are in relational idolatry. For the one who calls her accountability partner too often before talking to God, some simple confession and repentance to another friend may be sufficient. For the one who yearns for spring break to be over so she can cuddle up with her roommate in bed again, these steps are far more important.

It’s also important to remember that different situations call for different things. This is where the wisdom and guidance of others is crucial. For example, even though emotional dependencies can form between two spouses, no form of separation is ever good in a marriage. An emotional dependency on a guy should be treated differently than an emotional dependency on a girl.

1. Be Honest and Repent
Be honest with yourself. Though it is painful to stare our sin in the eye, we can never make it go away by ignoring it. If we refuse to face the reality of our sin, we will only enlarge the consequences and prolong the pain.

Continue reading

Friendship Gone Wrong, Part 4

friendship gone wrong

Now that we’ve seen what an unhealthy friendship looks like, let’s talk about healthy friendships. To do that, we must start with the purpose of friendship, biblically.

FRIENDSHIP FOR JESUS

“O, who but the Christian feels such pleasures as are connected with friendship for our dear Lord Jesus Christ?” Samuel Pearce

Friendship FOR Jesus. What a sweet thing indeed. As we discuss Biblical Christian friendship, let us remember that like all other things, it is meant to point us to Christ. Unlike the ingrown friendship model of the world, friendship for Jesus looks outside itself to find its purpose. As John Piper has advocated, it is good that we “have a cluster of comrades in the faith with the mutual agreement that you will continually point each other to Jesus Christ for hope and strength.”

By no means exhaustive, below are four specific purposes that friends should serve in our lives.

1. FRIENDS HELP US FULLY ENJOY GOD

“Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” Eph 5:18-19

Things are best enjoyed in community. Your favorite movie is good when you watch it alone. It’s even better with friends. A great meal is enjoyable. But even more satisfying when you share it with friends. God Himself is a perfect triune community: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Therefore, as those made in His image, we thrive in community. It is hardwired into us to share our joys with others. The best experiences in life are the ones we try to drag our friends into: “You have to see this movie!” “You have to come with me to this restaurant.”

Continue reading

Friendship Gone Wrong, Part 3

friendship gone wrong

In the last post, we looked into what the Bible has to say about idolatry. Idolatry is the root of every codependent relationship; it is what’s happening under the surface. Let’s now look at what goes on above the surface.

EMOTIONAL DEPENDENCY
This sin of idolizing a friend is often called “emotional dependency” or “codependency” in the counseling world.  D’Ann Davis from Living Hope ministries describes it this way:

“Most typically, those who struggle with emotional dependency are looking for a super intense, one-on-one relationship with a best friend who will meet all of their needs and will make other relationships unnecessary. A struggler typically loves to fuel all of her need and longing to connect into one person who can be her all-in-all (essentially her idol, or god, little “g”).  She will be very entrenched in relational idolatry, whether or not she realizes it.  She does not want to waste all of those precious seconds developing a friendship slowly over years; she wants intimacy, NOW, so she exchanges it for intensity.”

Emotional dependency is simply this: when your emotional sense of well-being is dependent on another person. We understand that Biblically this is idolatry, giving more weight and value to a person than to God. By continually looking to a friend to give you the security that only God can give, an emotional dependency forms. This can happen in any relationship: parent-child, husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend, or two friends.

Emotional dependencies are harmful when they go one way. But when 2 people are mutually dependent on each other, it is worse. If you idolize a friend, but they don’t reciprocate your feelings, you are usually forced to deal with your insecurities and misplaced hope. When your friend reciprocates those intense feelings of neediness, the emotional dependency often goes unchecked (e.g. “if my friend who loves Jesus thinks this is fine, then it must be fine”). Unfortunately, to the world, a mutually codependent friendship is often just called “best friends.”

Continue reading

Friendship Gone Wrong, Part 2

friendship gone wrong

THE FIRST LIE
Since the serpent first opened his mouth in the garden, he’s been trying to convince us that God is not enough for us: “You’re missing out. God’s holding out on you.” (Gen 3:1-6) And since then, the temptation to look to God’s creation instead of God Himself for satisfaction is a common, daily struggle, manifesting in myriads of ways.  God speaks to this when He addresses the Israelites in Jeremiah 2:12-13:

“Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

Anything we look to for satisfaction other than God is an idol. A leaky, broken cistern. This is a shocking and grievous thing to God that we would forsake Him for something lesser.

The subtlest forms of idolatry happen when we put good things above God. Marriage is a good thing.  But when we need it more than God, it is an idol.  Children are good things, but when we need them more than God, they are idols.  Friends are good things, but when we need them more than God, they are idols.

Continue reading

Friendship Gone Wrong, Part 1

friendship gone wrong

Sarah and Kelsey are best friends. A year ago, Kelsey walked into Sarah’s dorm room to borrow a textbook from her roommate and noticed Sarah watching her favorite movie. Forty minutes later, after discussing plots lines and rehearsing favorite scenes from the movie, they became fast friends. Slowly, over time, they did everything together—Bible study, accountability partners, and finally, the Facebook profile picture with the label “Besties” made it official.

Sarah and Kelsey began to see their other friends less and less. The ease at which friendship came to them was convenient and fun. They began talking every day, sharing deep emotions and feelings, even praying for one another. Eventually, a day didn’t feel complete until Sarah had talked to Kelsey. When Kelsey had a hard day, she immediately texted Sarah for consolation. She knew Sarah would pray for her anyway. It was hard for them to imagine what life was like before they were best friends.

As the school year came to a close, Sarah and Kelsey made the obvious decision to be roommates the following year. This would save them a lot of texts and phone calls for sure! And how much fun it would be to live together! Though they had a 2-bedroom apartment, they found they were often up late talking or watching movies. So the decision was made to just share a room. Sarah had a queen bed in her room, so Kelsey just slept with her there. They often fell asleep talking. Conversation was as innocent as what professor to take for calculus or where to eat lunch the next day.

Slowly, falling asleep talking became falling asleep holding hands. Holding hands became cuddling. And the moment when Sarah first kissed Kelsey’s forehead goodnight, a flood of feelings were unleashed with such magnitude that neither one saw it coming. They couldn’t stop themselves, and soon sexual encounters became commonplace. While both still discussed their crushes and their desires to marry one day, being together just felt so right. Kelsey began to wonder if she was a lesbian. What did that mean for her as a Christian? What did this mean for her future? How could so much change through just 1 year of friendship?

Continue reading