This year of LDI has yielded something I never expected–the discovery of a passion. A new passion. I used to ask myself what I would do if I didn’t do science and my mind would blank. There were other things I found interesting, but not things I could imagine making a career out of. Then I started leading a small group, mentoring women, working with the mentoring ministry, and learning from women who have been doing all of these things for a lot longer than myself. And it was like a piece of me I didn’t know existed came to life.
Stepping back in time a little bit, something that any scientist knows (in fear of ever trespassing the golden rule of research) is the importance of citing research and being critical of those sources in order to design projects based on “good” science. As an undergrad, “cite your sources” was a regular mantra I heard in classes and I was taught very early in my career how to search for/read journal articles. I can’t say I have really “mastered” this discernment piece…I relied more on the reputation of the source than on my own reasoning but I see this piece growing in me now in other areas of life.
I try to make it a habit to read any articles my friends post relating to singleness/marriage. This is for several reasons: 1) I like to know/read what people are saying about the topic 2) Singleness articles are useful in order to know what types of things my single friends find valuable as encouragement and wisdom and 3) I want to know what “advice” is being put out there. I say “advice” because not all of it is helpful and true. Recently, I’ve read a couple of blog posts about the strange things the married people tell their single friends as far as reasons why they have been given the opportunity of marriage and another has not (and how, amazingly, it’s not helpful or encouraging).
Why am I telling you these three possibly unrelated pieces of information? I’m someone who inadvertently passes on a lot of advice. I’m learning to not be so quick to give my opinion and to instead ask questions…even though it’s a tough lesson to learn, I’m thankful for the humility lesson. But, and maybe this was just burned into me in college or maybe it’s a positive effect of my self-consciousness struggles, there is something in me that stresses out over the possibility of passing on false information. It takes me forever to write research papers because I want to be able to back up every sentence before I finish writing it. I doubt myself if I share what I know is Biblical truth but do not list Scripture references along with it. If I accidentally give someone false information I feel foolish (though then comes in my pride and I’m afraid to admit my mistake!). Obviously, I’m not perfect at this. I’m not as critical as I should be and I don’t take the time to really research things I’m curious about. Like I said, I’m working on it.
So this challenge is as much for me as it is for you. Check your sources. The blog posts I mentioned earlier about the confusion and discontentment many women experience due to “advice” from their married friends could be averted on both ends. FILTER! The Bible is the only source that speaks 100% truth. And for issues like marriage, waiting, and living a life glorifying to God–it’s got plenty to say!
Please, I implore you by the grace of God. Do not accept anything as truth unless God affirms it. Even if you think it is coming from a person who “should have all the answers.” Don’t be afraid to question your leaders–Question me, even in what I am saying right now! If leaders are truly leaders (as biblically spelled out in Titus, 1&2 Timothy) they will be teachable/correctable and aware that they are not flawless in their wisdom. For all women, just because a person is married does not mean they magically have all the answers. I can guarantee we have not been given some secret handbook that makes us wiser or more sinless than any single person. All “wisdom” we speak MUST come from God’s Word to be considered wisdom and “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16b). For the love of all that is holy, pure, powerful, wise, and perfect (among his bajillion other traits) do not put your full faith in anyone except for Christ crucified. And if the person offering advice is offended by your “filtering,” they are not training you in righteousness.
Be careful. The world has a lot of advice that can sound correct because it is what we are surrounded with everyday and I believe Christians often fall into the trap of using it to encourage each other without thinking through what they are really saying. I see this in myself. The world has these nice phrases and myths that we like to pass on to each other because it feels like encouragement and empowerment. Yes, we should be encouraged and empowered in life–but not because of something we do that makes us worth hiring/promoting/marrying/leading. The sacrifice of Jesus gives us our worth. If we believe that our worth is due to something we bring to the table (talent, money, personality, appearance), we deceive ourselves and give the devil a chance to bind us in the perpetual lie of performance-based salvation. The gift of God is beautiful because it is completely grace based. If we try to take credit for our salvation in any way, we presume to demote the power of the cross.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” Galatians 2:20-21
As harsh as all of this feels to say, the Bible warns over and over about the danger of speaking lies as with the authority of the Holy Spirit (check out Galatians). And this new passion that God has awakened within me has also led to a broken heart as I recall the times I was led astray and how often I see other women led astray. God takes leadership very seriously. And I never want to be caught replacing one lie in the heart of a woman with another. If the Word of God does not support it (especially if it contradicts it), it is not truth.
The truth is: You are the Bride of Christ. You are cherished by him and by the Father. So much so that he sent his Son to take your place-your punishment-and to remove the chains that bind you in sin and deception–to set you free to live the life God intended for his children. He desires to mend your broken heart, to make you a beautiful bride, and to build you up in righteousness (Isaiah 61). You are not capable of doing any of this for yourself. But surrendering to him will bring true satisfaction. Not the kind that the world promises in the next job/toy/relationship, but real, deep satisfaction. He wants to fill you with living water-overflow your heart and soul with real life. The life we live in the world without Jesus is counterfeit.
“Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:5