How to Overcome Rejection and Find True Significance

My True Worth

Overlooked. Ignored. Forgotten. Alone.

We’ve all been there and perhaps are right now. Whether it’s an event we weren’t invited to, a relationship gone south, or walking out of church feeling ignored, the feelings of rejection and insignificance hurt. Sometimes those feelings come from simply being single and celibate in a world that glorifies being in a relationship with a significant other.

But what if the reason for these incidents and for our singleness isn’t rejection, but because we are chosen – chosen by God for something bigger than the warm feelings we get from being included, spoken to, or valued in a relationship? What if God thwarts our attempts to experience false significance in order that we find real significance?

Many voices, Christian and non-Christian alike, tell us our significance comes from being loved and accepted by others and from our performance – including our abilities, roles in life, and obedience of rules. In other words, others’ opinions + our performance = our value. That’s an impossible formula of variables that we can’t control and that in reality have nothing to do with our true value!

Loved. Forgiven. Fully Pleasing. Accepted. Complete.

There’s only One who can place a genuine value on us, and that is the One who created us. That value is reflected in the fact that He gave His life for us (“No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13). In addition we have His Word that reveals our true worth.

Quite a few years ago a group of friends and I met together to discuss the book, The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee, which had a huge impact on all of us. Originally published in 1985, it is still being published over 30 years later, indicating the impact it continues to have on countless individuals.

At the heart of the book are four lies that prevent us from realizing our true significance, and the four truths that reveal our true worth. Not everyone believes all four of these lies, but almost all of us struggle with at least one. I know I do.

 

The Four Lies and God’s Truth to Replace Them

The Performance Trap

Lie # 1: I must meet certain standards in order to feel good about myself.

Believing this lie results in fear of failure, perfectionism, being driven to succeed, manipulating others to achieve success, withdrawal, anger,   resentment, pride, depression, and low motivation.

God’s Truth: I am completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God and no longer need to fear failure.

This truth is based on justification in Christ. Because of Jesus, it is just as though I had never sinned!

“Therefore, since we have been justified [declared righteous] by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

The Approval Addiction

Lie # 2: I must be approved (accepted) by others to feel good about myself.

Believing this lie results in fear of rejection, people-pleasing, being overly sensitive to criticism, withdrawing from others to avoid disapproval, being easily manipulated, codependency, and trying to control others.

God’s Truth: I am totally accepted by God and no longer need to fear rejection.

This truth is based on reconciliation — being brought into a right relationship with God through Jesus.

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” (Colossians 1:21-22)

The Blame Game

Lie #3: Those who fail are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished.

Believing this lie results in fear of punishment, blaming and punishing others for personal failure, withdrawal from God and others, and being driven to avoid failure at all costs.

God’s Truth: I am deeply loved by God and no longer have to fear punishment or need to punish myself or others.

This truth is based on propitiation, which means that God’s requirement for holiness and justice is satisfied completely by Christ dying in our place.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:9-11)

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Shame

Lie #4: I can’t help it, it’s just the way I am. I cannot change. I am hopeless.

Believing this lie results in feelings of shame, hopelessness, inferiority, and helplessness; passivity; loss of creativity; isolation; withdrawal from others; and being resigned to failure.

God’s Truth: I am absolutely complete and righteous in Christ. I am a new creature and have a new identity—who I am in Jesus!

This truth is based on regeneration — the fact that we are reborn through Jesus.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:22)

The Truth Will Set You Free!

If these lies and the need to replace them with God’s truth strike a chord in your heart, I encourage you to get the book and read it, and perhaps even get together with a group of friends to study it together.

I don’t think there’s anyone who wouldn’t benefit from learning these truths or being reminded of them. I’m amazed how often I think I’ve finally mastered being secure in my significance in Jesus, only to be blindsided by another of Satan’s tactics to get me to believe his lies about me rather than God’s truth about myself!

One of my favorite Scriptures is John 8:32: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The problem with the lies about our worth is that they cause us to struggle in our own attempts to attain a standard we never can. But choosing to believe God’s truth in their place can instantly set us free to know our significance in Jesus, and to focus instead on living purposefully for Him!

How about you? Do you struggle with any of these lies? Have you been set free by God’s truth, or are you still struggling to meet what the lies demand of you?

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What is God’s Theme for your New Year?

What is God's theme for your New Year?

During these days before another year begins, I imagine most of us are dong a bit of reflecting as well as a bit of looking ahead. Looking back has some value if we are looking at God’s faithfulness to give us encouragement for what’s ahead. But I believe God wants us to mostly be looking forward. In fact, Isaiah tells us this:

This is what the Lord says — who makes a way in the sea, and a path through surging waters, “Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 HCSB)

Hey, that’s good news! God is about to do something new in our lives! Our past doesn’t define us, nor does it define what God wants to do in us and in our lives going forward. Our enemy is an accuser, and the only things he can accuse us of is stuff in the past. Because Jesus’ righteousness covers those of us who believe in Him, God doesn’t even see those past things when He looks at us. He sees only the purity of His Son Jesus. So we can be sure if we are feeling condemnation or shame regarding past sins or mistakes, those feelings are coming from our enemy, not our loving Heavenly Father.

So no matter what the last year held, nor the years before it, this new year is a brand new slate. It is a new beginning! Will the choices we made in the past affect us this coming year? Perhaps. But only as those consequences are sifted through the hands of our Heavenly Father who only allows that which can be used for good. We can be sure that God is the One who determines the outcome of our choices, no matter what they were. And in that redemptiveness that defines the God we serve, we can rest at peace, knowing that He does all things well and out of a heart of such deep love for us that we can’t humanly comprehend.

Living in the love of our Heavenly Father

Can we trust that love so much that we look forward to the new year with total peace and joyful anticipation?

Each year I sense the Lord giving me a theme for the new year. Last year it was humility. I initially felt a little fear. “In what ways will God humiliate you?” was the thought the enemy whispered in my ear. But I quickly remembered that God is for me, not against me. Humiliation is not what He wants to give me. Rather, He wants to give me more of Himself — a deeper and broader awareness of who He is. A realization that He is far above anyone or anything else, especially me! A recognition of the amazing and abundant grace He is pouring into my life so that I extend it — no matter what another says or does against me — to everyone I encounter.

Bible reading

Because I wanted to get a firmer grasp of Who He is, I read through the Bible in chronological order in a little over three months using Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible. Each day I read a total of four days’ readings in this book and did a lot of speed reading or skimming. But the purpose was to get an overall view in a short period of time, not do an in depth reading or study during the next three months.

I loved the Big Picture view I got of the Bible reading it all in that short period of time! What stood out to be in a new way was how much pleasure God receives when His people simply trust Him! He delights in those who trust Him enough to follow Him without question, and who believe that He is for them, not against them.

If you would like to read through the Bible in a short period of time, here are a couple more sources for a 90-day schedule:

Also, you can sign up here for the daily Bible readings by email from Purposeful Singleness based on another Chronological Bible Reading Plan to read through the Bible in a year.

The new Bible Reading page lists other Bible reading schedules and resources, if you would like to choose a different reading plan.

Remember that reading our Bibles is simply a tool in our relationship with God. Reading and studying our Bibles is not something God demands of us, but rather something He offers us because He wants us to know Him better. Let your relationship with Him so deepen that you feel compelled to read His love letter to you, not obligated to read it. The Christian life is all about a relationship with God, not obligation.

This Year’s Theme

Eight Little Words

This year I sense the Lord giving me a theme of Fruitfulness. I see a number of things I’ve been working on coming to a place of fruition, which is exciting and fulfilling! I’ll mention two of them here:

One is a book of my father’s memoirs, based mainly on his single adult years. My niece, Alyssa Reitz, have written this book together based on his diaries and memories and is currently in the editing stage. Our hope is that Eight Little Words will be published in 2017!

Living Our Purpose LLC

The second is a company my cousin Shari Baer and I have just launched, called Living Our Purpose. I’ve written much over the years about living purposefully here at Purposeful Singleness, and especially in the last year or so after Shari helped me write my Life Purpose Statement and coached me in moving forward in living it. It’s been an exciting process! As a result I’ve also been trained as a life coach and together with a team of several other coaches we are offering Purpose Coaching services to others. If you are interested in discovering your Life Purpose and moving forward in living it, I encourage you to check out Living Our Purpose and sign up for one of the packages we are offering. If you use the coupon code PURPOSE-2017 you will recieve 50% off through January 31, 2017!

So, how about you? What do you sense God is wanting to emphasize in your life in the New Year?

Happy New Year

May God bless your New Year with the abundant life Jesus came to give you as you consecrate yourself fully to Him!

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A Single’s Guide to Thriving at Christmas

Single Christian's guide to thriving at Christmas

I started to write this blog post thinking it would be a guide to surviving Christmas as singles. So many of us – not just singles – think of the holidays from the perspective of just getting through them.

I don’t know exactly what it is about the holidays, but they seem to create unrealistic expectations which instigate a general sense of discontent, cause us to compare ourselves with each other, and bring out the worst in relationships. As a result it becomes easier to adopt a cynical outlook rather than a celebratory one as we approach this “most wonderful time of the year.”

But my purpose in life is to thrive, not just to survive, and as I thought on these things my thoughts started to change. How can I thrive this Christmas, and how can I encourage you to thrive, too? Once my thoughts started going down this more positive track, I quickly jotted down several ways we can glean the most from the true meaning of Christmas.

Celebrate Reality

Think about the reality of the first Christmas: a young couple, the woman about to give birth, traveling by foot at the mandate of the government to a town that had no room for them to stay indoors. Deeply devoted Jews, they were suffering the embarrassment and stigma of having a child out of wedlock. There were no doting grandparents along to coach the new young mother as she endured the pain and fear of childbirth for the first time, nor to welcome their grandchild into the world.

Accept Reality

Yes, they were treasuring in their hearts the messages they’d both received from God that this was no ordinary child – that in fact He would be the Messiah their people had long been waiting for. What all this meant they had no idea, but they knew something amazing was happening. By faith they knew this. But the present reality was not pretty.

It’s the same for us. The reality and messiness of our present circumstances is not the whole picture of what God is doing in our lives. God is always up to something bigger and broader than what we can see. And just as Mary treasured and pondered those kinds of matters in her heart while trusting her Heavenly Father for what was to come, so we need to also.

Know Our Identity

Just as our present circumstances do not define the bigger picture of our lives, neither do they define our identity. Whether you’re spending Christmas with a great big noisy family, a few close friends, or at home alone, the fact is that you are a much-loved child of God. He uniquely designed and created you with the personality, abilities, and appearance only you have. He chose the specific time in history for you to be born, and to the parents He hand-picked for you. These things may not always seem like good things to you, but in the grand scheme of things we can trust that they are and that He has  a purpose and plan for our lives for good. He loves us, more than we can ever imagine.

Accept the Greatest Gift

Gift of Grace

The greatest gift ever is the gift of grace – the free and unmerited favor of God that came through Jesus. When we recognize Jesus as our Savior, God transfers all of Jesus’ goodness and righteousness to us, and all our strivings to be right and good need to cease. God has said that any efforts on our part to make ourselves good will never be good enough, and that those efforts are as pitiful as trying to clothe ourselves with filthy rags. Jesus came to give us His pure robe of righteousness, so that when God looks at us, He sees Jesus’ goodness, not our futile efforts.

You may have been a Christian for a long time,  yet not fully realized it isn’t up to you to be good enough for God. You can’t, no matter how hard you try. What you can do, and what He asks of you, is to consecrate yourself to Him. Surrender everything – who you are, your wants and desires, your struggles to be something – in exchange for His grace. And then watch and see what God does in and through your life. I can assure you it will be amazing!

Worship with Abandon

We know that on the night Jesus was born there were shepherds in the fields surrounding Bethlehem making sure their sheep were safe through the night. Can you imagine what it must have been like for them, settled in for another uncomfortable night away from their soft beds, to have the sky light up brighter than day, and an angel stand before them? The angel’s announcement that the Messiah they as a Jewish people had been waiting for had been born not far from them that very night must have been incredible to them! The angel told them they would know this was true if they found the baby in Bethlehem, wrapped snuggly in cloth and laying in a feeding trough. They made no delay in going to find this child, and find Him they did! Their response? Glorifying and praise God for all they had seen and heard, and that it was just as the angel had told them it would be!

Worship with abandon

I, too, want to be so filled with awe and wonder at the coming of Jesus and all that means to me in this life and for eternity, that my spontaneous response is to praise God with abandon. The shepherds didn’t seem worried about what others thought. Surely it must have seemed to their families and friends that their long nights in the fields had gotten the best of their senses! But the shepherds knew without question what they had seen and heard, and couldn’t help but be filled with praise and joy! Their lives must have changed forever that night. May our lives also be changed and overflow with worship as we encounter Jesus and all His coming means for us!

Look Beyond the Festivity and Glitter

So much of the customs, traditions, decorations, and partying surrounding Christmas has nothing to do with Christ’s coming. More often than not they distract us from seeing and experiencing the depth of the true meaning of Christmas. If your expectations of a wonderful and festive Christmas are not being fulfilled for whatever reason – consider that may be a blessing in disguise, freeing you to focus on and experience the real reason Jesus came. Take advantage of the freedom you have as a single – likely more free from the entrapments of family activities than most – to bask in the real meaning and wonder of Jesus the Messiah!

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas as you worship and celebrate Jesus, who came to live within us and among us. May His presence be constant and comforting to you, not just at Christmas, but every day of the year!

Wondering what your purpose is?

Visit our Finding Your Purpose page to learn more.

 

For Further Reading …

 

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How Jesus Defeated the Grinch

How Jesus Defeated the Grinch for Singles

The signs that Christmas is coming soon are all around us now. Christmas music follows us everywhere we go, decorations line the streets and cover homes and lawns, people are scurrying around in stores agonizing over what gifts to buy, and the mail carrier is getting later every day as the volume of  Christmas mail grows more abundant. You may find yourself groaning, celebrating, trying to ignore it all, or becoming depressed.

The Grinch

Sometimes I’m not sure what to feel, and so I just wait, ignoring all the Christmas activity for awhile. I hate getting caught up in the frenzy, some of it rather meaningless or just time-consuming. Depending on the year my initial response to the Christmas activity ranges from being simply annoyed to slightly depressed.

But sooner or later the Christ of Christmas breaks through my grinch-like attitude as He reminds me Who He is and why He came.

Isaiah gave a glimpse of Who this Messiah would be when he wrote, “For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 HCSB)

It was more than a prophecy about the birth of the Messiah. It was a promise of Who this Child named Jesus would be for those who believe in Him for milleniums to come, which includes us. He is our wonderful Counselor, our all-powerful God, our Father forever, and the Prince who brings peace in every situation. He can give us the wisdom and insight we need for perplexing and complex situations. He is sovereign as God over our lives, determining the outcome regardless of our poor choices. He is a Father we can completely rely and lean on. And He gives us peace that is beyond our understanding to fill our hearts no matter what storm is going on in our lives.

Whether struggling to deal with life alone, conflicts with others, difficulties at work, or the complexities of church life, we can turn to Him to be all these things for us. To me the most wonderful part is that He’s available when no one else is: in the middle of the night, in the midst of a difficult conversation and at our wit’s end, and when it seems no one fully understands.

But that’s not all. Because Jesus came and died for us making us God’s children, we have an eternal inheritance.

“When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:4-7 HCSB)

Christmas and the Christian single

Jesus left the warmth of His Father’s Home to come to earth to experience all that we do: physical needs and discomforts, human desires and disappointments, rejection from others, and disloyalty from those closest to Him. He did this so we could also become children of His Father and eventually join Him in the warmth and joy of His Father’s House in heaven. There we will receive our ultimate inheritance with Jesus.

But for now we can experience part of it, which includes full access at any time to our Heavenly Father and to His Son, Who is our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Eternal Father, and our Prince of Peace. We don’t have to feel like the Grinch at Christmas simply because of our circumstances. No matter what they are, or even if we spend Christmas alone, He is all these things to us.

Do you find Him to be these things to you? Is it easier or more difficult to experience them during the Christmas season?

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Faith in God’s Plan, Purpose, and Provision = PEACE

Faith in God's Plan, Purpose and Provision equals Peace

Peace.

It tends to elude us, hiding just around the corner of life with all the “if onlys” that torment us:

“If only everything would turn out okay.”

“If only my loved one would get better.”

“If only I could find a spouse.”

“If only my candidate had won.”

“If only I had more money.”

“If only I didn’t have this disability.”

“If only so-and-so would treat me better.”

“If only I were prettier. Or taller. Or stronger.”

Our thinking seems to be that if these things were true, life would be good and we would have peace. Only to discover, when some of those things do come to pass, that peace is still absent. What are we missing?

The missing piece is faith — knowing with assurance that God has a plan and purpose for our lives, and that He will provide for that plan and for our every need. True peace isn’t dependent on our circumstances. But when it seems everything has gone wrong from what we’d hoped and dreamed, it’s easy to lose faith, and peace vanishes.

If peace comes from faith in God’s plan, purpose, and provision for us, where does faith come from?

Faith comes from choosing to believe what God says, even when everything seems to indicate just the opposite.

So let’s unpack this a little more and look at proof in Scripture that God does have a plan and purpose for us, and that He will provide for us and give us His peace. We will just be scratching the surface, though. There are many more references in Scripture to these truths, which I’ll let you dig into further if you’d like.

But for right now, let’s take a peek into the book of Philippians, a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi while he was imprisoned and facing possible death. If Paul found peace in the midst of these undesirable circumstances based on his faith in God’s plan, purpose, and provision for him, then surely we can, too.

God’s Plan for You

Paul starts out his letter by stating his confidence in God’s work in the Christians at Philippi and His faithfulness to bring His plan for them to completion:

“I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:3 HCSB)

Not only was this true for the Christians in Philippi, it is true for you and me today. God has begun a good work in us. He has a plan for our lives. He will work everything together for good to bring it to completion, not just in spite of the “bad” things happening in our lives, but in many cases because of them.

Remember Joseph in the Bible. As Rich Mullins pointed out, God used Joseph’s ten jealous brothers selling him into slavery and later into prison to eventually bring him before the king of Egypt, who appointed him second in command in Egypt. In that position of power, Joseph saved the lives of thousands because he had kept faith in God and His plan, purpose, and provision for him, even in the midst of horrible circumstances. In a moving act of forgiving his brothers, Joseph told them,

“You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.” (Genesis 50:20 HCSB)

God’s Purpose for You

In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul assures them that

“It is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13 HCSB)

I love this verse because it tells me that God is at work in me to fulfill His purpose for me. It’s not all up to me. I’m a flawed human being, and yet God is working in and through me. Not just in spite of my flaws and failures, but sometimes because of them.

Consider Samson in the Bible, a man who had a weakness for Philistine women whom God had instructed the Israelites not to marry. And yet God worked through Samson’s moral weakness to get him close to the Philistines, and in that proximity used him to defeat the enemy of His people. I believe that Samson did recognize and repent of his moral failure with forbidden women, and in the end God gave him the desire and will to fulfill His purpose in one final courageous act, and he did!

God’s Provision for You

This promise for God’s provision is even more poignant when we realize that Paul wrote it while sitting in prison:

“My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 HCSB)

Paul knew this from personal experience. He had experienced God’s provision for him over and over and by many different means.

Someone recently pointed out to me that God’s promise to provide should be the easiest for us to believe, because it is repeated so often in Scripture, and because there are so many accounts of God providing for people’s needs: food falling daily from the sky, clothes and shoes not wearing out, food multiplying on several different occasions, and money to pay taxes found in the mouth of a fish! Those are just a few of God’s physical provisions. Many other times He provided relationally (Acts 10), emotionally (1 Kings 19), and spiritually (Acts 8:26-39).

God’s provision happens today, too. I’ve experienced it over and over and over again! I believe there are also many times we don’t even recognize when God is providing for us. How is it that month after month, despite our worries, there is money to pay our bills? That we have a roof over our heads and food on our plates? That just the right people show up at just the right moment just when we need them? That the encouragement we need is in a song on the radio when we turn the ignition in our car?

God is real and these “coincidences” don’t “just happen.” He does provide — strategically and specifically many times over. Sometimes, looking back, we realize that the times we thought He’d deserted us, He actually was providing just what we needed all along!

God’s Peace

Toward the end of his letter Paul encouraged the Philippians to not worry about anything (including all those “if onlys” that plague us). Instead, he said, pray about those things, and as a result — 

“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 ESV)

“I have peace, and that’s worth more than anything,” my mother told us on her death bed. It was obvious to us that God’s peace truly was guarding her heart and her mind, giving her freedom to ignore her circumstances and to minister to those who visited and cared for her. She left this world showing us how trustworthy Jesus truly is by her unwavering faith in God’s plan, purpose, and provision for both her and her loved ones, whom she was leaving behind without her.

The peace of God supersedes all other feelings that may be the natural result of earthly experiences. Both Paul and my mother gave testimony to that fact. Both facing death, one in prison and the other in a hospital, and yet both at peace in who they knew their God to be and what He would do for them and those they loved!

When we believe that God is good, that He loves us perfectly, that He is able to bring good out of everything, and that He is sovereign over all – then we, too, can have faith in Hs plan, purpose, and provision, and face the future with peace!

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Escaping the Blues

When we choose to praise God no matter our circumstances, we naturally begin to trust His goodness, and that trust leads to joy!

We’ve all experienced it. That feeling that ranges from simply feeling “blah” to feeling downright hopeless and depressed. It’s called the “blues.”

“Nothing can make a trusting Christian blue,” I’ve heard somewhere along the way. The implication that if we’re feeling blue we’re not trusting God puts us all on the defensive a bit. After all, I doubt any of us have escaped a time when we felt down.

Isn’t it perfectly normal to feel down at times, especially when bad things happen, or when life isn’t the way we’d like it to be, or when others treat us in hurtful ways?

Well, yes and no. While it’s true that feelings of sadness, grief, and disappointment are perfectly normal responses to undesirable circumstances and it’s important we process those feelings, we can still simultaneously be experiencing joy in Jesus.

Seem impossible? How do we move from being overwhelmed and controlled by negative feelings to experiencing joy even in the middle of undesirable circumstances? Don’t the circumstances have to change first?

I’m so grateful that joy and contentment in Jesus are not dependent on circumstances! We can’t control circumstances, but we can experience continual contentment and joy, no matter what. How is that possible?

The number one step to experiencing joy is fully believing that God is good, no matter what.

Belief in God’s goodness is foundational to trusting Him. When we doubt that He is good, or that everything He does is good, our trust in Him is on shaky ground. Our joy is, too.

We doubt God’s goodness when we blame Him for the bad that is a result of living in an imperfect world full of imperfect people. When we blame God, we create a distance in our relationship with Him that keeps us from turning to Him in full trust so He can help us. How can we receive help from Someone whom we are blaming for the bad?

When my brother-in-law was sick with cancer, my sister often made the statement, “God is good all the time.” Even though at the time she didn’t know if her husband would live or die, she was intentionally reinforcing her belief in the fact that no matter what was happening or would happen, God was just as good then as He was when all was going well.

Experiencing negative circumstances does not mean that God is not good!

God’s goodness is that He never forsakes us, even when everyone else does.

God’s goodness is that He walks with us “through the valley of the shadow of death.”

God’s goodness is His mercy and grace when He sends a friend to encourage us or points us to a Scripture that lifts our spirits.

God’s goodness is in the many little blessings of enjoyment we encounter every single day: a million stars sparkling against a black sky, a child smiling at us, the delicious flavor of a food we love, or a phone call from a friend.

The second step to finding joy is being grateful.

“Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 HCSB)

Some have debated whether this verse means to give thanks for everything, even the bad, or if it simply means to give thanks to God no matter what happens.

Whichever it means or however you choose to interpret it, it seems evident that God is looking for a heart that praises Him because it shows our complete trust in Him and His goodness. Not only does our gratefulness bring Him much glory, but when we choose to praise Him our hearts naturally begin to trust His goodness, and that trust leads to joy.

The next time you feel blue, first of all recognize that experiencing negative feelings is a normal human response to a negative situation. But before you allow those feelings to take over – and they surely will if you let them – identify God’s goodness in the midst of that situation and thank Him for those signs of His goodness.

If you can’t immediately see signs of His goodness, choose to believe that God is good, no matter what, and then start praising Him whether you feel like it or not.

Feelings of joy may not immediately flood your heart, but it’s impossible to focus on God’s goodness and continually praise Him without eventually experiencing at least a little bit of joy!

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Leaving a Legacy

Leaving a Legacy

It is an innate, God-given desire of every human being to be significant. We want to impact our world and those around us in important and positive ways. And we want that impact to be lasting, even to the point that it outlasts our earthly lives. This impact is often referred to as a legacy, and it’s what we leave behind for others.

Often legacies are thought of in the context of descendents, but it’s certainly not the only way to leave one. We leave a legacy in many ways, and it’s usually based on how we live our lives which serves as an example to others, and how we give of ourselves and our resources. It can be through giving financially; investing in others’ lives by relating or mentoring; communicating ideas and insights through writing, speaking, and teaching; and in many other ways that are unique to each person according to the gifting and purpose God has given to each one.

In order to leave a legacy that is positive and life-giving, we need to start now, and hopefully already have! Each one of us impacts others in many different ways, and we do it every single day of our lives, whether we realize it or not. It’s easy to focus only on the “big” things people do that leave an impact, like making a large donation, pastoring a mega church, or becoming a best-selling author. But the “little” things we do can be just as – if not more –significant.

My mother was a teacher, both as a vocation and a lifestyle. She loved helping others learn and influencing lives. Sometimes it was discouraging to her, depending on the attitude of the student, but as a whole teaching gave her great fulfillment.

The most rewarding part of her years of teaching school came years and years after the fact, when she received letters of gratitude from former students, or happened to see them here and there and heard their words of appreciation for the impact she’d made on their lives.

One that stands out to me was a former student who had become a doctor. Around thirty years after he had been my mother’s student, he wrote her a letter, thanking her for assigning him and his classmates a long poem to memorize. He had thought he wasn’t capable of accomplishing such a feat, but she was unrelenting and insisted he could. And he did. It was a turning point for him in realizing that if he set his mind to do something, he could accomplish things he formerly thought he couldn’t. This mindset served him well as he pursued medical training and became a doctor, playing his own significant role in others’ lives and leaving his own legacy.

Do you see how one “small” but significant interaction of one person with another had a significant impact, and will continue to as it is passed from one person to another, multiplied many times over?

“I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth,” penned the Apostle John, a childless single man.[1] He was referring to the spiritual “children” he had “fathered,” and finding joy in the impact he’d had on their lives.

John wasn’t the only unmarried person to leave a significant legacy. I can think of many in my own life who have left an impact on me. But there are also many well-known singles who have left us an example of living purposeful lives for Jesus. I’ve set up the first page of what will be a rather extensive bookstore of resources for Christian singles, and this first page contains several biographies of purposeful single Christians to give us encouragement and motivation in our own purposeful journeys:

Biographies of Christian Singles

If you know of others, please mention them in the comments below or send them to me here.

God’s blessings as you make an impact on the lives of those around you, creating a legacy that will long outlast your earthly life!

[1]3 John 1:4 HCSB

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