One year ago today, I was snowed-in my Cambridge apartment, crying over the end of a relationship I had such high hopes for, only to find out the guy was only after one thing (and it wasn’t my cooking.) This was the last straw. I could fill pages with my horrid/hysterical dating experiences over the past few years…here are a few gems:
“Do you smoke pot? Because I’m a total pothead”
“Hehe, you call your jobs gigs? Like a band? Thats so funny. Hehe”
“I think Moses was tripping when he saw the burning bush”
“I consider myself Christian because I work in aeronautical engineering, allowing people to live in space, close to the heavens” “Want to see me in my cop uniform?”
“I spent Christmas with my dog. I cooked him a really nice dinner”
“I’m most comfortable when I’m by myself, solving the answers to complex questions”
“I’m a bit of a germophobe – you can never be too careful when it comes to germs. I wouldn’t use that knife if I were you”
Dating life? Big X. Job? Ready to pull my hair out (the first quote could also have been my boss talking.) And so I started praying. Praying that God would give me an opportunity to take what I looked at as a less than ideal situation, and instead use my singleness and willingness to be jobless to experience more of life – and more of His life in me.
And so one year later, here I am in the Philippines, with just two weeks remaining of my eight month stay here! I had been volunteering with a Christian microfinance organization for a few years, and becoming more and more involved and drawn to the amazing work God was doing in the Philippines through our partner there – The Center for Community Transformation (CCT). I had been planning a two week visit since back when I started volunteering, but when the opportunity arose for me to work there full-time on the projects I’d been working on from the states, I heard God loudly and clearly tell me to GO! I’ve already written about the peace He gave me to come here. That’s not what this post is about…it’s Valentines Day, after all!
The desire of my heart before coming here was that God would be very real to me and show Himself to me in new and amazing ways. I faced many challenges during my time here – it was never easy. And loved ones and the comforts of home were so far away. But time after time God used those challenges to show me that he is all I need. He is enough. That trials do produce perseverance, perseverance – character, character – hope. I also had so much joy in being here, and I was constantly amazed at the love God pours out so freely and generously. Through the trials and joys of being here – in learning what it means for God to be my all, my first love, and watching in amazement at the ways He delights in providing for his children – God taught me what it truly means to delight myself in Him. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of this verse and smile: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desire of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
Last week as I was cooking dinner, I was listening to a podcast on singleness and marriage from my favorite Pastor in NYC. For the first time ever, I thanked God that I am still single; I thanked God for the all the bad dates, and for that night I spent crying in my kitchen, because that brought me here to the Philippines. That brought me to the place of enjoying and resting in a faith where God is all I need, and produced a joy in me that is separate from circumstances. I know so many people with this kind of faith, and had longed for it, but for some reason I always was a difficult child. God had to take me by the hand and lead me to the other side of the world – away from the comforts of home and the comforts of the first world – before I was ready to receive this gift.
I’m spending this Valentine’s Day with my favorite group of single Filipino ladies. I’m making us a breakfast-for-dinner feast:
Croque Monsieur with Cayenne Honey
Chocolate Chunk Pancakes with Raspberry Vanilla Bean Sauce
Feta and Herb Scrambled Eggs
Passion Fruit, Mango, & Papaya Fruit Salad with Fresh Ginger
And there’s no place else in the world I’d rather be. But Dad, don’t worry, this isn’t a proclamation that I’ve given up on dating!
And one last thought…just because. What to me is the ultimate Valentine’s message…
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (1 John 4:10; Romans 5:6-10)