Friday, September 3, 2010

Sunshine, green tea, and a lack of responsibility

The sunlight is streaming in the coffee house window. A frosted glass of green tea gently mists and drips next to me. I snuggle back in a deep chair and organize my life.

Then this song comes on...

I'm milking these last days of freedom for all they're worth. On Tuesday my job will start, and this peaceful bliss will dissipate, only to return at rare intervals. But for now my nails are flawlessly manicured, my breathing is deep and healthy, and my stress level is at a restful zero. I'm trying to decide which yoga class I'll attend tomorrow.

My heart is happy.

And this green tea is yummy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

There is so little I'm qualified to write on... Shall we whip out singleness again?

Hello, dear reader! Did you know that I'm single? Don't snigger behind your hand. I know that the "plight of singleness" is this blog's bread and butter, and although I try to stray to more edifying topics, the fact is: people (judging from the volume of comments) seem to like reading my "relationship posts" more than any other type of post.

I'm thinking of becoming the new Ann Landers.

Singleness has been the primary topic of the past three days. (Weddings, it turns out, will do that to you.) I and several of my grad school girl friends, drove to Indianapolis to ooh, ahh, and dance the night away at a dear friend's wedding. (And yes, my eyes held sparkly tears as I watched her walk towards her groom.) My new roomie moved in the night I got back, and (both of us being newly launched career girls) we discussed the pros and cons of our single condition. I'm also reading "This Momentary Marriage" with another friend, and we discussed it over curried chicken tonight at dinner. (My little house still smells of curry. Ick.)

All that to say, I think I've had the same conversation about six times in the past three days. I think if men knew how often we talked about them (both specifically and as a general whole), they would be... intimidated.

If, in Jane Austen's day, "it was a truth universally acknowledged that a single man, in possession of a large fortune must be in want of a wife," then today's universally acknowledged truth is that "a single girl, in possession of a fabulous career, must be in want of a husband."

The general consensus among my girlfriends? We all want to be married.

But after the first torrent of girlish frustration (smattered with jokes of looking for a man at a gun and knife show... which they whip out because they know the very thought gives me terrified goosebumps), something else (because my friends are delightful, vibrant ladies) always surfaces:

"Well, what am I going to do with the time I have now?"

Yes. We are single. But our very productive, thrifty souls shake their heads at a flagrant waste of these years. I am proud to know such friends. Ladies who ask, "What will I do with the freedom my singleness provides? Who can I serve? What should I be doing now, that in the future, a family will keep me from doing?"

We've discussed travels to orphans in Africa, philanthropic pursuits, hospitality, mentoring, and personal growth. I'm delighted to be surrounded by a myriad of women who desperately want to be wives and mothers, but who are aware of the delights, privileges, and unique responsibilities of singleness.

These are not days to be wasted, or time to be marked off as you scour the horizon for some distant (perhaps fictional) mate. These are delightful times filled with adventure and freedom that may never be found again.

Life does not start when you get married. Happiness is not automatic, troubles do not lessen, and character flaws do not evaporate. Marriage is not the magic pill to your dream life.

What are you doing now, with your singleness to guarantee that married or not, you are a better, more selfless individual when you stand before Christ? I ask myself this same question. Registering for a Kitchen Aide mixer will not make me complete. But pulling out my nifty hand-held mixer and whipping up a dinner for a new family or lonely college student- ah, that might actually produce eternal fruit.

As the adage goes: “Remember that a successful marriage depends on two things: (1) finding the right person and (2) being the right person."

You can't control one, but you can control the other.

Stop looking and start being.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hermeneutics and Exegesis? I think so!

Last night I had the wonderful privilege of attending a Biblical Counseling Training class at Faith Baptist Church. I've been re-shaping my five year goals (since the way my life turned out makes it impossible to fulfill some of my previous goals!), and one of these goals is to get my certification in Biblical counseling. Last night, perched awkwardly on one of the most uncomfortable folding chairs known to man, I was struck by two things.

The first was the total humility of the man who was teaching. Dr. Bob Smith has taught counseling classes for years. He's an M.D. with an impressive track record, and a slew of accomplishments to back him up. He's started several counseling majors at universities, he's written multiple books, he's taught in the field longer than most people in the class have been alive (this includes my parents). But he never rested on these laurels. He was gracious, he was confident, but he deferred to the younger, seminary-taught man in regards to several key points, and was very willing to acknowledge that he didn't know the answer to a question that was asked. After six years, surrounded by "competent academics" who are afraid to say, "I don't know," last night was a refreshing breath of humility. Humility not being a strong suit in yours' truly, I was reminded of its importance and my need of it.

And then I was humbled by the teaching. Last night the topic was entitled, "What Makes Biblical Counseling Biblical?" The first point is what struck me... "When it recognizes the Bible as Foundational." In this point, Dr. Smith went through a diagram in which he showed that with out the canon, hermeneutics, exegesis, Biblical/Systematic Theology, one could not claim that your Practical Theology was really from the Word of God. I'll be honest. When I saw the topic for the class, I rolled my eyes a little bit. "Biblical" counseling has been the topic of so many dinnertime talks at the Blake household, that I thought I could probably give Dr. Smith's lecture.

But as he continued to expound, I saw that unless I had the nuts and bolts of the Bible (grammar, vocabulary, history, doctrine, etc.) I could not claim an accurate view of the practical theology that I dole out. I'm very much a where-the-rubber-meets-the-road type of Christian. Philosophical debates and abstract concepts have never appealed to me, and I love the branch of practical theology much more than Biblical theology (i.e. propositional statements, abstract doctrine). I glean much of my Biblical knowledge from people who study the Bible (and I don't think this is bad), but I do little to augment that study with my own digging into the Word. I don't dig. I read. And I'm going to change that...

Suffice to say that with so much to think about after just the first night, I can hardly wait for next week!

"For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15:4)