No Words

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

In grammar, a period marks a full stop of an idea or though or action. Early Sunday morning, 49 lives came abruptly to a full stop.

Facebook doesn’t like it that I can’t list my hometown, but moving around so much growing up, I don’t have one. I had no idea what city to put on my name tag at Disney because I never felt a sense of belonging at any of the places I’ve lived. But living in Orlando the past 4 years has taught me what having a home feels like because of the friends I’ve made and the memories I share with them.

I didn’t know any of the victims personally. Nonetheless, I’ve spent the last 2 days in a haze of confusion and sadness because each victim who had their life stolen was known and loved by someone. Each victim who continues to breathe and fight for their life will be forever altered by this tragedy.

I feel helpless and like I’m paralyzed face up on the shore as wave after wave beats against my body. I can’t imagine what the people directly affected by this loss must feel. I struggle to find breath between the cries for policy change or the cries from people simply trying to use this tragedy for their own ends.

But 49 lives were taken. They each had a name and a beautiful story that ended far too soon. Countless more lives were forever changed because of wounds either physical or emotional or both in many cases. Why couldn’t we at least have taken a moment just to cry?

When I heard this tragic news, I was in Los Angeles taking a screenwriting class because I had finally worked up the courage to chase my dream of writing stories. I cried. I fought back tears all day as I was exploring a city that I had always dreamed of visiting. I cried because 49 people don’t get to chase their dreams anymore.

I dream of telling great stories, so I love words. They have power to build bridges or create chasms. I’ve always wanted to use words to inspire and encourage people to hope and to love and to make them laugh. But words fail me right now because I can’t understand why I still have the privilege to wrestle with finding and arranging them in a way that will make a positive impact.

That privilege to create was stolen from 49 people who were just like me. People looking for love and meaning and belonging–many of whom I’m sure could’ve strung words together more poignantly than I ever will.

Their lives were ended by a horrific act of hate and violence, but I don’t believe their voices were silenced. What one evil man meant for destruction did destroy many lives. But the outpouring of love and kindness shown to the victims and their families and the city that I call home screams that with love we can overcome all the things that try to divide us. Evil will not win.

That’s what I love about people. We have the unique ability to imagine our future and the great responsibility to make it a better one. May the choices we make and the words that we use honor those we have lost and support the ones that are still here with us. Together we can strive to create a future filled with hope and love.

Love is a choice and not usually the easy one. May we have the courage to love. Then hopefully one day we will see a period placed on the evil that births these acts of violence against our brothers and sisters.

 

Advertisements

God Provides

My second grade teacher, Mrs. Powers, hated me because I had a lot of trouble paying attention in class, and I got distracted easily. I’ve always been a daydreamer, and I can’t help it if my imagination was more exciting than the subtraction problems that weren’t that difficult.

Writing has always been attractive to me because it’s basically daydreaming with purpose. Screenwriting has always been a dream I kept in the back of my mind because it seems huge and hard and unrealistic. But God has been directing my heart to begin seriously pursing this dream over the past year.

It’s been scary and overwhelming and exciting. A constant refrain in my prayers has been, “Am I just being crazy or is this actually something You’re leading me to do?”

Through prayer and searching Scripture and seeking council from close friends, I’ve gotten nothing but reassurance from God, and so I responded in obedience.

I applied and got accepted into a screenwriting program called Act One. It’s based in Hollywood, but offers an online summer writing program.

Act One lines up perfectly with my dream to pursue screenwriting because they are passionate about telling great stories, but their passion for storytelling stems from their passion to influence Hollywood with the light and truth of the gospel.

I ultimately desire to be a light for the gospel in whatever sphere of influence God places me. But to imagine that He might be calling me to daydream all day and be a light for Him in a dark place causes me to pinch myself.

And now that I’m accepted into this program, I’m waiting to see how God will provide the funds to pay for it. Money has never been an obstacle for God even though sometimes it causes anxiety for me.

I believe my next step in obedience in chasing this dream is asking for help. The writing program costs $2000 and consists of a 4 day workshop in Hollywood followed by 10 weeks of online classes. I will have to have a $1000 deposit by May 25, the other $1000 will be due by June 8.

I know God will provide the funds if this is something He wants me to continue to pursue, but I don’t like asking for money for several reasons that center around my pride:

  • I may fall flat on my face and fail at this, so thus far, I’ve invited as little people as possible along side me in this journey. I feel like broadcasting my screenwriting dream here could be the equivalent of those bad singers in the first rounds of American Idol who always thought they were awesome until Simon Cowell told them otherwise.
  • I don’t like admitting that I’m not self sufficient. I wish I could just pay for this out of pocket, but I knew when applying for it that I wouldn’t be able to. I was kinda just hoping God would send me a check for $2000, so I wouldn’t have to ask for help.

But I’m trusting that this will be an opportunity for God to provide in a big way. Whatever the outcome, I’m learning what it’s like to trust Him to provide all my needs and to trust that His timing and ways are better than my own.

Please feel no pressure at all, but in case God leads you to help me out in this journey, click here to go to the fundraising page I set up. As always, I’m just thankful that you took the time to read!

I Did Something New

Making people laugh is one of my favorite things to do. I fail at it a lot, but I try.

I’ve been wanting to write more lighthearted stuff for awhile now, but didn’t feel like this blog was the right platform. I’m also passionate about people (myself included) finding their worth and value and fulfillment in Christ alone.

Being single and following Jesus in a world so hostile towards a Biblical view of singleness is difficult. I want people to know they’re not alone because I think one the enemy’s biggest lies is convincing us we’re isolated in our struggles.

I use humor as a coping mechanism, so I laugh a lot at my own struggle with singleness and the church culture surrounding singleness and dating. But I’ve never viewed this blog as being overly lighthearted–it’s subject carries too much weight.

So I started a new blog as an outlet to write about lighter subjects that have been on my heart.

www.thesassywallflower.com

I love people and trying new things and one day I’d love to do a standup comedy show in front of a bunch of people, but God created me with the personality of an introvert. So I also love the awkwardness that surrounds me trying to survive as said introvert in a world geared towards extroverts.

Go check it out if you want! If not, I won’t know the difference and you can keep following me here!

He Loves Me Not

Sometimes I try to trick God when I pray.

Father, I want to know your love more fully. Marriage can be a beautiful picture of the gospel. Wink. Wink. The love between man and wife should mirror the love between Christ and His Church. Maybe you could send a man into my life so that I could have the opportunity to experience your love on a deeper level. Amen.

I’m sure He laughed.

Then He answered my prayer—but kind of like the way a loving father would give his child an apple for a snack instead of the whole chocolate cake for which she actually asked.

I was selfish and short-sighted. I felt lonely and like an outcast, so I wanted a man to step into my life and love me and show me how valuable I was.

God in His infinite wisdom knew a man would never fulfill those longings in my heart, and it would be wrong to put such high expectations on another human just as flawed and broken as me.

But God did send a man into my life. A great man who was funny and kind and outgoing. He challenged me to be better and brought me out of the safety of my little introvert shell.

We were friends and nothing more.

That was fine in the beginning because I knew he was nothing like the man I always pictured myself falling for (it’s like I’d never read any Jane Austen book). But as I got to know him more, I quickly realized he would mean more to me than I would ever mean to him.

I was right. He never loved me, and early on in our friendship, I forced myself to stop hoping that he ever would. Well, at least I tried to stop hoping for that.

I began praying God would take my feelings for this guy away. But it seemed after every prayer, I’d have a conversation with him and learn something about him that would make me like him more. I’d prayed that prayer about other guys before, and God had answered quickly. My heart was confused as to why this time was different.

Circumstances made it impossible to cut him out of my life completely, and in seeking wisdom from God in how to continue the relationship, I felt that He was still calling me to be this man’s friend.*

So I stayed his friend and we hung out and laughed and talked about our dreams and had fun. But then when I got home, the tears came because I was such a small part of his world while he was shaping mine.

Months had gone by and God still wasn’t taking my feelings for him away, and being his friend continued to be equivalent of running my heart up and down a cheese grater.

I kept reminding myself that God was good and sovereign and faithful, but I was so weary and tired of feeling this pain day in and day out. Can I also just admit here that I simply felt embarrassed that a guy was causing me so much grief.

Frustrated and at the end of my own strength, I called out to God with the kind of candor only a desperate heart can muster:

Do you have any idea how much it hurts to care for someone so much and have him look right through you? My happiness is tangled up with his, and his sadness breaks my heart. But I feel like if I disappeared from his life, he wouldn’t even notice. He doesn’t see me. Do you know what it’s like to be so insignificant to someone who is so significant to you?

My tears flowed freely because without any condemnation, God simply enveloped me in his love and whispered, “Yes, Sarah. I know.”

He delights to bring me joy in His presence. My tears break his heart. And most days, I look right through Him to temporary pleasures I believe will bring me more happiness.

My feeble little mind will never fully understand the scandalous love of the God who holds the world in His hands and still gave up everything to ransom my soul and win my heart.

I prayed to go further into the depths of this reckless love thinking it would cost me nothing.

God answered my prayer knowing it would cost me greatly.

Love cost God everything, and He willingly paid the high cost. He gave up heaven for a season and His own life so He could love me forever. He never asks us to walk through anything He hasn’t already walked through Himself.

So my prayers began to change from, “God, please take these feelings away.” to “God, I still don’t want to feel this way, but I trust you and your timing. Please don’t let my pain be wasted. Let it send me deeper into your heart. Give me strength and patience to endure and not grow bitter.”

My circumstances didn’t change immediately, but my heart did.

Caring deeply for someone who has so many other things and people to keep him happy gave me a tiny glimpse into the heart of my Father who yearns jealously for my heart because He knows He’s the only One who can satisfy it. Now the analogy can’t be stretched too far here because it would be foolish to think that I could bring ultimate joy or fulfillment to anyone—only God can do that.

I began to recognize that by not loving me, this guy actually propelled me out of my complacency and into a deeper understanding of God’s love. My belief of his indifference daily sent me running to my God for comfort and peace and strength.

While God’s love knows no end, caring like this for a man who is not my husband must be temporary—even though in my heartache, it certainly felt like forever to me.

For a season, God invited me to experience the great joy and pain of loving someone while expecting nothing in return. Which is kind of the whole point of love, but I had never experienced love like this before because all my friends and family had always reciprocated my love. This unselfish love that He cultivated through many tears, by His grace, still grows in my heart and now affects all my relationships.

This unselfish love unlocked deeper mysteries of God’s great love for me. And His love growing in my heart has defeated bitterness and cast out many fears.

I would have never prayed for unrequited love and don’t particularly want to experience it again, but in the pain, God saw me and met me and sustained me.

In His wisdom, God is sneakier in how He answers my prayers than I am in how I pray them. He didn’t send me a man to love me; He sent me a man to love me not so that He could be the Hero of my heart and love me more completely and fully than I had ever known before.

 

*Disclaimer: Let me explain that this was never an abusive relationship. From the beginning, he was always just my friend and a good friend. He never even acted like he wanted to be more than friends or led me on. He was certainly never abusive to me physically or emotionally. It was just your cliché girl has crush on her guy friend and he’s completely oblivious situation. If you are in an abusive relationship either emotionally or physically, you need to seek help and get out. Those are not relationships God calls us to endure.

 

Please God, Don’t Let Me Die a Virgin!

In the Friends episode, “The One that Could Have Been,” Fat Monica is sitting at her kitchen table with Chandler upset that her boyfriend ran out on their date because of work. In her frustration, she blurts out, “Chandler, I’m going to die a virgin!” As if such a fate was actually worse than death.

Monica’s disappointment and embarrassment about being a thirty-year-old virgin reflects how our society views those who are sexually abstinent in adulthood whether by choice or lack of opportunity.

I can’t speak for society, but I can speak for myself. I laughed at that scene not because I thought it was funny, but because I identified with Monica. In fact, I exclaimed, “Me too!”

Now sex in and of itself would be a horrible reason to get married. So let me be clear, that is not the only reason I would like to be married one day.

I know marriage is more than sex and that marriage is beautiful and hard and all that. I know it doesn’t complete me. I know marriage will not make me happier. I get it.

But sometimes I fall prey to the belief that in our society, it would be easier to be married and Christian than single and Christian.

If I were a married Christian lady, nobody would think twice about me staying faithful to my husband. If I did sleep around, the world would actually look down on me.

Case in point: In that same Friends episode, Rachel has the opportunity to cheat on her husband with Joey Tribbiani, the Soap Opera star, but she doesn’t. She feels overwhelmed with guilt for even entertaining the idea because cheating on her husband would make her a horrible person.

However, as a single Christian lady, I still believe the only man I should sleep with is my husband. God just hasn’t revealed the identity of that lucky man yet. The world thinks I’m crazy for wanting to be faithful to a man who may very well not even exist.

I’ll be 29 this year, and I can count on one hand the amount of dates I’ve been on in my life. I’ve never been on a date with a man where I’ve enjoyed myself and wanted to continue the relationship. They’ve all been awkward, and then I had to do the whole “I don’t really like you that way. Let’s pretend like we’re going to stay friends, but I’m actually going to avoid you like the plague from here on out because I feel guilty for possibly hurting your feelings” thing.

Let me share with you a list of some situations I’d rather not go through again:

  • Being told by a guy I like he’s not that interested in me
  • Telling a guy I’m not that interested in him
  • Kidney stones

So after one painfully awkward date, I told God I would prefer not to be asked out at all than to be asked out by a man whom I’d have to reject.

God is faithful, and I have not been asked out since August 2012.

I’m telling you this because I need you to know I’m not some super holy person who has resisted so much temptation in an effort to stay faithful to my future husband; I’ve had no opportunity to be unfaithful. (At least not physically–emotionally unfaithful? Well that’s a story for another day.)

I’m just a girl who somedays feels like the biggest loser in the world and who sometimes believes no man will ever find her beautiful or love her. A girl who struggles with loneliness and feeling unwanted.

But those are my feelings; they are not my reality.

My reality is a Father who has beautifully protected me from the pain and destruction of sexual sin thus far in my life, but whose affection is not contingent upon my perfection. I am loved.

My reality is a Savior who loved me at my worst and who continues to recklessly pursue my heart. I am wanted.

My reality is a Great Comforter who guides and guards me as I navigate the trials and joys of this world. I am never alone.

Feelings often take awhile to catch up to God’s truth. They also forget easily. I have to remind my heart daily of the truth, so my feelings can be rooted in God’s Word and not fear.

My fear of being single forever and dying a virgin finds its root in the fear of being an outsider and misunderstood and ridiculed. Ironically enough, God’s Word promises exactly those things for those who follow Christ.

We were never meant to “fit in” in this world; we were meant to change it. And in our weakness and struggles, God shines brightest.

“…I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ might rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, ESV

I’m not implying that the single life is all calamity and hardship. For the most part, I’ve greatly enjoyed my twenties and God has taken me on many adventures that would not have been possible if I was married. Marriage would have provided its own set of hardships.

But singleness does provide a unique opportunity to live counter culturally and proclaim that God’s way is better–even if in my weakness, I still feel a tinge of embarrassment when asked about my abstinence.

Will living a chaste life while single change the world? Maybe not.

But living in obedience to God in every area of my life–big and small–certainly will.

I may very well die a virgin, but please, God, don’t let me die without changing the world.

 

The One with all the Friends

In 2015, I kept only one of my New Years Resolutions: to watch all 10 seasons of Friends.

I’m embarrassed to say that I was a Friends virgin and didn’t understand all the hype surrounding the show. At my roommate, Jennafer’s*, suggestion, we made it our goal to watch the entire series in 2015, and we spread out all 236 episodes over roughly 8 months.

I laughed a lot. Just a few episodes in, I understood the hype.

I cried a lot in 2015 because my life was not turning out the way I imagined it would. Then I’d turn on Friends with Jennafer, sigh at how ironically accurate the theme song described my current situation, and choke on my Coke Zero because I was laughing so hard at Joey almost “getting” Chandler with a power drill.

This show along with a wonderful Tim Keller podcast (I don’t get all of my wisdom from wildly popular television sitcoms) gave me great insight into what friendship actually looks like.

Friendship takes time and effort on both ends. Like everyone else, I don’t have an infinite amount of time, so I’m accepting that I can’t be close friends with everybody. Even having a close nit group of six seems overwhelming to me at this point in my life.

I have just a few close friends, and that’s wonderful because each of those friends are a gift from God and exactly what I need. Obviously, I’m God’s gift to them as well. Duh.

Friendship is selfless, but I’m actually very selfish. Shocking, I know.

I’ve struggled with being insecure in most of my friendships because I always feel like I’m more invested than the other person and that eventually the other person will realize I’m really not that cool and will leave me. Which ironically means I worry too much about what I’m going to get out of the friendship instead of what I can add to the friendship.

God calls me to be more like Jesus in every aspect of my life. Jesus laid down his life for his friends—even the ones who betrayed him. And by His Spirit working through me, I can invest my energy into being a friend who loves self-sacrificially instead wasting time being afraid all my friends will leave me.

In light of those revelations, some of my New Years Resolutions for 2016 are as follows:

1. When at a function that includes dancing, to dance with the same abandonment with which Phoebe runs. I admire how Phoebe doesn’t care about what anybody thinks of her.

2. When it comes to my passions, to not be ashamed to talk about them with the same excitement with which Ross talks about dinosaurs. (Ross is my least favorite friend and finding a redeeming quality in him was like Joey searching for the correct answers in Pyramid, but Ross loved paleontology and was not afraid to let everyone else know how much he loved it even if they all thought his day job was about as exciting as watching fossils fossilize.)

3. When it comes to writing, to write with the same confidence Monica has in any competition in which she participates. My failures this year won’t be for lack of trying on my part.

4. When it comes to social situations that are outside of my comfort zone, to show up and try, and when that fails, to provide a sarcastic comment that would make Chandler proud and add to the awkwardness of said situation.

5. When it comes to my dreams, to chase them with the same courage Rachel has when she leaves Barry and realizes she can be a hat even though her whole life everyone’s told her she’s a shoe. She’s brave to determine that she has to be herself and can’t base her life solely on the opinions of others.

6. When it comes to friendship, to love my friends with the same love Joey has for a meatball sandwich when he mistakes a car backfiring for a gunshot. Though I would never date him or want to be his partner on a game show, I would love to be his friend. Joey exemplifies great loyalty to his friends and always puts them first even at his own personal detriment. I want to be that kind of friend.

One thing I do not plan on doing this year is buying a pair of leather pants, but I do plan on writing more. I’m actually already a third of the way to beating my record for last year—a whole 2 posts. Watch out, world.

*Jennafer is the Rachel to my Fat Monica and the Joey to my Chandler.

One of the highlights of 2015 was my first trip to California.  Jennafer and I spent an embarrassing amount of time taking pictures on the Central Perk set. We have no regrets.

One of the highlights of 2015 was my first trip to California. Jennafer and I spent an embarrassing amount of time taking pictures on the Central Perk set. We have no regrets.