No, Bitterness!

Okay, any of you single Christian guys out there who might be reading this, I want to say something to you:

 

If you find a single Christian woman who is 25 or older who has a soft, open heart that is not tainted by bitterness, then please pay attention and appreciate it. It is so easy for an unpursued woman or a woman who has experienced bad relationships to become bitter. And fighting it is hard.

 

Here’s an example of what I mean:

 

When Bushbaby (my 20 year old roommate, see previous post) began her dating-fast there was this nasty little voice in my head that said, “Yeah, and just watch. As soon as her fast is over some guy will drop out of the sky and sweep her off her feet, and I’ll still be waiting. I just know it.”

Pessimism replaces hope. 

Because sometimes it’s easier to stop hoping because Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12). It seems less painful to harden yourself in preparation for a future without certain trees of life than to keep hoping for them.

 

However, I know that bitterness is buying into lies. Examples:

–       God is holding out on me. It’s always someone else and never me.

–       I’m not worthy of love. I’m not attractive. I’m too much and not enough.

–       All the godly men are taken. The rest are immature and need to grow up and when they do they pursue younger women.

–       Things will never change. My life will go on and on with this burning passion and desire and it will never be satisfied.                                

 

When I look at the root lies of bitterness I know these things aren’t true. They just feel like they are when that awful voice whispers things like, “just watch. She’s 20 and taken one year off dating and will be married by next spring and you’ve been waiting for 25 freaking years and there’s not a man in sight. You’ll probably meet someone when you’re 40, if you meet anyone at all.”

 

Ugh! Actually writing out what goes on in my head makes it all the more real just how awful and unattractive that is!

 

See, I didn’t realize that bitterness had started taking hold of me until my mentor pointed it out to me. I’m glad she did because I’ve been aware of it and have begun to weed it out when it happens, and I’ve realized it happens a lot.

 

Who would want to date someone with that kind of attitude? No one. Bitterness is probably the least attractive thing someone can exhibit.

 

So I say no. I don’t care how hard it is and how sick I feel in my heart while the hope of My Man is deferred. I won’t believe those lies!

 

The voice that whispers like someone leaning over my shoulder sounds like my voice but it isn’t. It’s some super repulsive and forever alone version of myself that could take over if I let it. But I’m going to fight instead for the beautiful, optimistic, hopeful, content, daughter of the King that I was made to be. I’ve been redeemed and given the Holy Spirit to fight darkness in the name of freedom!

 

I’m going to visualize elbowing the crap out of that shriek’s gut and then declaring, “No! She may have someone before me but my hope is in Jesus and He writes my story better than I ever could! Shut up and stop crampin’ my style!”

 

Guys, when you find a woman who isn’t tainted by bitterness it means she’s a fighter. It means she trusts in the Lord. A soft heart in a full-grown woman is a valuable prize because she’s done serious battle to protect it. Don’t you want a woman like that to fight beside you?

 

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Jealous Rage Monster

I’m not a jealous person. 

At least, that’s what I thought until a few weeks ago.

Before then, I can remember only one time I was unreservedly jealous. I was nine years old learning a ribbon dance with my dance team. One baton had blue and yellow ribbons and another had purple and teal.

I don’t know if you’ve experienced being a nine-year-old girl in 1996, but if you didn’t, then let me just tell you. Blue and yellow? Um, no. 

To my extreme disappointment I ended up with the blue and yellow.

“I’m jealous,” I told my best friend, Reader, in my brattiest whine, “I wanted the purple and green one!”

To which Reader, a very pious and biblically knowledgeable nine-year-old, replied, “The Bible says that jealousy rots your bones.”

That shut me up.

My high school friends were my people. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for those girls. We remained close until college and some of them through college.

We, of course, had our predictions of who would be married first.

Charmer, then Me, Dreamer or The Wit (It was a toss-up between these two as to who was next), and last either Hippie or Reader. 

So, you can imagine how strange it was when Reader became the first of us to find and marry her hubby.

She and I had been friends since we were 3, and we always had this kind of competitive thing between us, but despite all that I was able to cope fairly well with the fact that she’d fallen in love before me. It wasn’t the easiest thing, but I didn’t let jealousy have much sway.

I knew the truth. My man was out there somewhere and until he came along I was going to pursue God and become the woman He wanted me to be. Besides, I wanted my relationship to be God-written and God-Centered. Reader’s relationship wasn’t God-centered, and she wanted to write her own life. 

I had always struggled with wanting to be more like Charmer. She just had that elusive “thing” about her that drew guys to her like a magnet. She was warm and inviting and everybody liked her, and I often came across cold to new people though I didn’t mean to.

And yet, though she had multiple exciting relationships all through high school and college while my life droned on much the same as always, I was okay when she married.

Sure I felt sorry for myself a few times but I didn’t let it stick around. I knew the truth.

My man would love me for being me and he’d be perfect for me and I for him. I didn’t need to be like Charmer. I just needed to keep waiting and seeking God. God was preparing him and me for each other. Wherever he was.

Fast forward a couple of years to today. I’m living with my two single roommates, Bushbaby and Logicat. Logicat and I are the same age. Logicat is one of the thinkiest people I’ve ever met (note the moniker I’ve given her), though she’s a great big softy on the inside. Bushbaby is a feeler all the way. She’s five years younger than us. I’m in the middle, but more on the thinker-side. I am drawn to emotive things and am a creative, imaginative type, but usually my actions are based on logic instead of how I feel.

Logicat and I both grew up in Christian homes and began a relationship with Christ at an early age. Bushbaby did not. She’s one of those Christians that had a rough life and now has a crazy testimony of what God has done in her life. She’s super passionate about Jesus and loves other people in a way that inspires me. Bushbaby is my closest friend at this point in my life.

During the summer of 2011, God asked Bushbaby to take a year off of dating. It was a really good thing because she’d always dated and had never been single as a Christian. (Side note: in my opinion it is a good idea for every non-married Christian to be single for a while in order to learn who they are in Christ apart from someone else.)

So she did. From last summer to this summer she stayed away from guys. Then summer 2012 rolled around and suddenly she was free to receive attention from any beaux that might come calling.

Ok, let me just explain something. As I’ve said before I’m a worship pastor. Our church is fairly small. Logicat and I are the only people in our walk of life. Everyone else is younger college or married/in a serious relationship. We mostly hang out with younger people. My part-time job is at Logicat’s full-time job where the vast majority of coworkers are women. There is one guy close to our age, and though he is pretty attractive he does not love Jesus and he also has a girlfriend. No bueno.

Basically my life is a barren wasteland when it comes to eligible bachelors. I live in a social bubble (and by bubble I mean impregnable force field of perpetual singleness).

So, what do you know, as soon as Bushbaby is free to let her huge eyes scope out the possibilities—BOOM! This really cute guy visits our church and makes a point to talk to her. Summer draws to a close. He’s intentional. He’s respectful and mature about pursuing her. The leaves begin to change. He contacts her. He takes opportunities to hang out with her and her friends. He’s strait forward. He get’s to know her. A couple more weeks pass. He asks her to dinner. He sweeps her off her feet. 

Now we are back to the beginning of this post. A few weeks ago Bushbaby went on her first date with Captain Adorable. I was so excited for her! I helped her get ready and stayed up late to hear how it went. It couldn’t have been better. He seemed perfect for her and I was impressed with his character. I went to bed happy that my dearest friend had, for the first time, experienced what it should be like instead of the crap she’d known before.

The next day I awoke. I didn’t know that something accompanied me in my waking. In came Bushbaby, all smiles and glowing from her magical evening of heart to heart conversation where souls were bared and poetry was written in the starry sky above them as fairies serenaded them and unicorns frolicked nearby. I don’t even know what she said to me. Probably something mundane like “Hi” but with that smile and that glow. Suddenly the monster inside me roared to life. RRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE!

As I said before, I’m a logical person. I’m not super in touch with my emotions. I kind of bottle things up without realizing that I’m doing it and then it all comes out in one of my biannual cry sessions. I can count the number of times I’ve been so angry I couldn’t control it on one hand.

So when I found myself wanting suddenly to rip Bushbaby’s head off for being so happy I was a little taken aback. What the heck was wrong with me? Why was I so angry?

“Calm down,” I told myself, “Get a grip, Ace.”

***tries to slow breathing***rage continues to boil blood**

“Oh my gosh. I’m jealous! I’m freaking jealous!”

Even worse than the extreme repulsion I felt toward my roommate/bestie was the realization that I was ragingly jealous and couldn’t get it under control. I mean…wasn’t I way too mature to succumb to such a pathetic weakness as jealousy?

Bushbaby is an affectionate person. I am sometimes. Sometimes. She is ALL THE TIME. So she of course she tried to hug me and sit close to me and all I wanted to do was beat the teeth out of her head.

I don’t know if she realized that anything was wrong. She’s very intuitive so she probably thought something was off. It was all I could do to act like I was simply in a non-sociable mood. Hopefully she didn’t realize how much a HATED her in that moment. I mean, it wasn’t her fault that her joy had unleashed the freaking Hulk. I couldn’t blame her for being happy!

I managed through the day and finally the rage died a little. It was replaced with a self destructive behavior that I’ve never experienced before. I purposely got too little sleep, ate horribly, and made myself late for work. All the while I kept asking, “What the heck is wrong with me!?”

I just wanted to talk to someone. I am a verbal processor. Rage Monster surfaced Saturday and I couldn’t meet with my mentor until Wednesday. For someone who is normally stable and naturally seeks peace, five days is a LONG time to be in emotional turmoil.

So after talking to my mentor, here’s what I realized:

–       I’d never felt jealous to that extent before because I’d never had reason to. Reader was married, but she didn’t have the kind of relationship I wanted. Same with Charmer. She’d married a guy nothing like the kind of man I want. But Bushbaby…she was experiencing EXACTLY what I want for myself. 

Captain Adorable walked into our church, saw her, and decided to pursue her like a man. He is godly and has upstanding character. He’s thoughtful and really good at taking care of her. It’s not that I want him, but in all the little ways that he’s perfect for her I want a good man of character who is perfect for me

How often have I thought of that exact scenario for myself? And then it happens, but not for me. For her after she’s waited a year. I’ve waited for 25.

–       My pride was damaged because I thought I was above jealousy. I needed to get over myself. My flesh is still susceptible to every form of sin. Also, for the past couple of years I’ve been more content in my singleness than ever before. Really and truly happy where I am. Then suddenly she gets a guy and all that is out the window? I was pissed that jealousy had ruined my content-with-my-gift-of-singleness streak. I also needed to get over myself about that.

–       If something was going to change, I wanted it to change for all three of us at once. It made me realize that whoever starts seeing someone next, either me or Logicat, it’s going to really suck for the other. 

–       I didn’t want things to change, period. I couldn’t tell Bushbaby how I was feeling because she’d feel bad and I didn’t want to burst her bubble! It was the first time I couldn’t talk to her about something and that might have been the most upsetting part of it all.

Once I sorted all this out I felt much better though I swear I gained ten pounds during those five days. 

I hate feeling like that…Like I don’t have control of myself. It makes me have more compassion on people who are emotional all the time. But, the upside for them is that they feel joy and excitement more than I do. I’m jealous of them for that.

Maybe not Jealous Rage Monster jealous, but I guess I can be a jealous person after all.