When I was thirty-five, I came to a conclusion that I was never going to be able to get married unless I changed myself. At thirty-six, I concluded that I was either too old to change my ways, or change was just impossible. Now, here I am at thirty-nine, and I have realized that I don’t want to change. I want to be myself. Granted, I want to grow in faith and godliness, allowing myself to be transformed by a deepening relation with God. But as for the person God made me to be, I want to leave her alone.
As with most of us women who remain single into our thirties, I have gone through my phases of self-evaluation to try to pinpoint what is wrong with me that makes me unacceptable to men. I have gone through periods of self-loathing and discouragement that I couldn’t change those things about myself that seem the most objectionable. In all of this, I encountered the truth about self-loathing: it is still all about self. Self-help, self-pity, self-improvement, whatever name you give it, it is all about self.
What if I stop focusing on myself and focus instead on God and what he has called me to do? There is freedom and joy in obedience and service. At thirty-seven, I finally got down to the business of what God had been calling me to do: write. I am a communicator, and this strength is also my biggest flaw. I talk too much and say things I shouldn’t. I have an opinion about everything and a bad habit of speaking it. Yet, answering God’s call to use my gift of communication has helped me to grow and learn to speak more as God would want me to. I doubt I will ever totally bridle my tongue, but God and I will keep working on it together. I am going to stop focusing on what I don’t like about myself and instead focus on being a child of my Heavenly Father. I want to be His Girl.
In the last year, I have worked earnestly on finishing a book about what I have learned in the last decade of singleness. To me, this is in direct obedience to what I feel that God is calling me to do. As a result, I have found myself more content than ever with who I am. Last week, I was looking over pictures that my sister, our friend, and I had taken when out hiking. At first, I thought that I had been stupid to wear what I did when I knew there would be pictures. The clothes I had chosen were not figure-flattering. Then it occurred to me: who cares? I need to stop caring. The pictures are of me; that is what I look like. I had fun with my sister and my friend and pictures record our time together. What freedom, if I can just be okay with being myself and not worry about how other people perceive me. The only opinion that matters is God’s. He is the one who knows me best and knows my heart.
I have been reading 2 Samuel, lately. I was contemplating 2 Samuel 6:16: “As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, and she despised him in her heart.” David danced for joy before the LORD without regard to what other people might think. And, as often happens in this world, there was someone who did not feel that his display was appropriate. In this case, it was one of David’s wives. David knew that he had done no wrong, and when Michal confronted him he stood his ground. It was not his job to please Michal, but rather to please God. Verses 21 and 22 record David’s response to her: “It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as a prince over Israel, the people of the LORD-and I will make merry before the LORD. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes.”
I want to follow David’s example. There are always people who will look down on us, but if we are delighting ourselves in the LORD and walking in obedience to Him, we should not be ashamed if this makes us contemptible to others. Let’s free ourselves from all of our self-focused desire for change, and instead look to please the God of our salvation.
I am super excited about your blog, Leah! Your words have been such an encouragement to me even in the brief conversations we’ve shared. Thank you for sharing your heart and your struggle so honestly with other women who are struggleing. May your words be a faithful witness to others to delight themselves fully in the Lord and find him precious above all else.
Thanks so much! The encouragement has been mutual, which is how God intended it, I am sure.