You Are the Picture

August 25, 2018

 

 

         We were driving along in the car the other day when someone on the radio mentioned something about college graduations.    Almost instantly, my mind went back to my own college graduation, almost 18 years ago.   Unfortunately, my memories of that day have never been what you would call “fond”.   It doesn’t take more than a brief perusal of our family photo album to see that my heart was breaking throughout the entire ceremony.  

 

            It seems strange to remember it now, but back then, I did not consider graduating from college an accomplishment.  

 

            Did I work hard to receive my degree?   Definitely.

 

            Should the accomplishment have been even greater when I factored in that I’d worked while I attended school and over the summer to contribute so that I would graduate without student loans? 

 

            Absolutely.  

 

           Still, from the time I slipped into my cap and gown in the morning, until I put on my pajamas and went to bed that night I felt only one thing---failure.  

 

            You see, like many young ladies, my main goal in attending Bible College was not necessarily to get a degree (that was kind of a side goal).   No, after years of hearing the stories of women going to college, falling in love, and living happily ever after,  I went to college banking on the promise of “ring by spring or your money back”.   (By the way, they don’t really give you any money back.  Apparently, the people in Administration actually believe that college tuition is to pay for your college education.  Go figure.)

 

            So off I went, with high hopes and big dreams of going to Bible College, meeting the man of my dreams, getting married and starting my happily-ever-after life.    Unfortunately, God had other plans, and on my graduation day I went home with nothing more than a lousy Bachelor’s Degree.   Or at least that’s what I thought then. 

 

            Now, 18 years later, as I paged through the photo album of my mind, years of life experience and maturity have shown me that there was something very wrong with the mind-set of the young girl in the graduation pictures. 

 

            Seriously? What was I thinking?  

 

            Graduating from college was an accomplishment---not a failure. 

 

            A college diploma wasn’t nothing, it was a big deal.   

 

            I was so wrong to feel that all of the time and money I’d spent achieving that goal was wasted.   Quite the contrary!   It wasn’t wasted---it was investment that is still reaping dividends in my life almost 20 years later.   It was a concrete investment in myself that enabled me to make concrete investments in the lives of others and in the kingdom of God.      Whether I marry someday or remain single until I meet Jesus, it’s an investment and accomplishment that no one can ever take away.  That’s something to be celebrated---not grieved.

 

            At this point, you may be asking, “Okay, that was a nice pep talk for why young girls should go to college, but what does it have to do with me?”

 

           Well, if you’ll hang on for just a minute we’re getting there. I’m sharing this very personal (and a little embarrassing) event in my life in the hopes that other women (both young and not so young) will learn from my skewed thinking and choose not to duplicate it.  You see, I meet single women all the time, in various stages of life, who are still buying into the same misguided fairy tale that the key to happiness and fulfillment in life is finding their prince and getting married.  

 

            Don’t get me wrong:  I’m not anti-marriage or anti-family.   Marriage and family can be a very fulfilling life choice when a woman is married to the godly man that God designed for her to raise a family with at that time in their lives.     This article is not at all meant to deter women from following that path when that is God’s will for their lives.

 

           Instead, this article is designed for single women.   Its goal is to remind them that the road to happiness and fulfillment in life is not the same for everyone.    You can’t just add a man to your life, get married, and voila!  Expect instant happiness and fulfillment.  

 

            Why not?  

 

            Because there’s really only one way that a woman can find true happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment in her life and that is by committing her whole heart and life to Jesus and following God’s will for her individual life.    

    

           Try reading that again:  The only one way that a woman can find true happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment in her life and that is by committing her whole heart and life to Jesus and following God’s will for her individual life.     

   

            There is no cookie cutter approach: Marriage.  Singleness. College or Career.   It’s not about following a preconceived idea of what should happen, or copying the example of how another woman found happiness and fulfillment in life.   It’s about finding God’s will for your life and living it out day by day, month by month, year by year.  

 

            Truthfully, I wish someone would have told me this when I was 20 years old.  Perhaps they did tell me, in which case, I wish I would have heard them---I mean really heard them not just with my ears but with my heart. 

 

           “I wish that I knew what I knew now when I was younger.”  

 

           Maybe that’s why I’m sharing this with you---so that whatever stage of life you’re in, teen, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, or older, never married, divorced, or widowed, you’ll really hear what I’m saying and start changing your attitude toward finding fulfillment in life, the reasons you’re looking for love, and probably most importantly, the value you are placing on yourself.   

 

            Because have no doubt---it isn’t your relationship status that makes you valuable---it’s the fact that you are created in the image of God and that He has a plan and purpose for your life that makes you a treasure.   It’s when you really grasp hold of this truth, and begin walking in His plan for your life that you’ll truly experience joy, fulfillment, and satisfaction in your life.  

 

           So what are some things that you can do to start seeing yourself through God’s eyes and find the purpose and plan that He has for your life? 

 

1.   Invest in Your Relationship with Jesus.  

 

            As a young girl growing up in the church (Okay, even as a more mature single woman in the church) I always hate hearing people say things like, “Make Jesus Your Boyfriend.” 

 

           It always sounds so lame.   That’s when my snarky, sarcastic side would come out and I’d think, “Yes, that will fix everything won’t it?” and then I’d go off on some mental rant about condescending couples not having a clue about what it’s really like to be single.  (Was that a little too honest and vulnerable?)

 

           So, obviously, that’s not where I’m going with this.   

 

           In fact, my advice to invest in your relationship with Jesus has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you have a significant other.  There’s no better way to learn who you are, who you were designed to be, and what you were meant to accomplish than by spending time with the One Who Created you.    The truth is that no investment of time or effort that will reap greater rewards in any woman’s life, than the investment into her relationship with Jesus.  

 

           What rewards?

 

            As you spend time with Jesus, He will begin the process of healing the wounds from your past.  As these wounds are healed, you will become a stronger, healthier person spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.

 

            As you spend time in His Word, the Holy Spirit will begin removing any misconceptions and illogical thinking that is playing games with your mind and keeping you from living in spiritual, emotional, and mental freedom.   The more you saturate your mind with the Word of God, the more it will guide your thinking helping you to see and understand truth.  This will help you relate to God, yourself, and other people better.

 

            As you invest your time into learning God’s ways through His Word, you’ll be learning principles that will help you grow and prosper in every area of your life. 

 

           All of these are rewards that will benefit you throughout all the seasons of your life for the rest of your life.    

 

2.  Invest in the Kingdom of God. 

 

            Here’s a word to the wise:  Your season of singleness, no matter how long or short it may be, is only wasted if you spend it moping and/or feeling sorry for yourself because you are alone.    Nothing good or productive ever comes from such behavior. 

 

           On the other hand, there is a world of good, productive opportunities available to the single gal who determines to take all of her nurturing instincts and her capacity to love others and invest them into the Kingdom of God to make a difference in the lives of others.  

 

          Now is the time to take that missions trip and give the gift of the Good News to someone who has never heard.

 

          Today is the day to volunteer as a Big Sister, teach a Sunday School Class, and make a positive difference in the life of a young girl. 

 

           Right now, when you’re free from commitments to a husband and family, commit yourself to the advancement of the Kingdom of God.   Use your talents and abilities to bring souls into the kingdom and make disciples for Jesus.    Don’t just sit around at home watching movies and waiting for your prince to come.  Instead, be someone else’s hero and make a difference in the life of someone in need.  

Along the way, you’ll be reaping the rewards of self-confidence, developing skills, and gaining amazing life experiences that will enrich you as a person.  Even better, you’ll be sowing seeds that will reap rewards that will last for eternity.  

 

 

3.  Invest in Yourself

 

            Sounds selfish, doesn’t it? 

 

            Yet, besides investing in your relationship with Jesus and the Kingdom of God, there is no greater investment that a single woman can make than making the investment to improve herself. 

 

            Go to college (or go back to school and finish your degree).

 

            If a traditional four year school isn’t for you, than try a vocational school that will give you a marketable skill. 

 

           Have you already done that?  Then keep learning. 

 

          Take a course that will improve your skills and help you advance your career.

 

          Better yet, learn a new skill or develop a hobby that gives you complete joy and might possibly even provide you with a means to help others.   

 

          Use every opportunity to learn and grow and improve so that you can be the best possible version of you. 

 

          The fact is that you were designed by God for a purpose.   He has a complete plan for your life.  Perhaps that plan includes marriage, but that is really only a piece of the puzzle.   YOU are the picture.   

 

           If the “marriage” piece of your particular puzzle hasn’t arrived yet, don’t be silly like me and waste time missing the beauty in the other pieces that you discover along the way.    Instead, celebrate each and every piece.   Make the most of every accomplishment and invest in every opportunity available along the way.    Rather than fretting over finding that one piece, allow God the freedom to assemble the picture in your life in the order that He arranges knowing that as the Designer, He knows what’s best. 

 

            Along the way, celebrate everything He is doing.  Smile, sing and dance in all the photographs of your life.   Don’t let the dreams of tomorrow fill your today’s with regret.  Instead, live each day to the fullest, knowing that someday the picture album of your life is going to make an awesome story of a life lived well, orchestrated by God, and enjoyed to the fullest!   That’s the key to satisfaction.

 

 

             

 

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