The Single Life

Disappointments and Dead Ends

I recently had a friend tell me that he knows he is making bad decisions. He knows but he doesn’t want to stop because the other option is to be in pain. What he meant, of course, was that he is making decisions to avoid the pain in which he is living.

I get it. Do I ever get it.

Who among us wouldn’t want to NOT feel the pain? There are all manner of ways to numb and avoid. Of course, we are all familiar with the most famous: drugs, alcohol, food, sex. Maybe we feel confident that we wouldn’t use any of those vices to numb, and yet…

I’ve been mulling this over since the conversation. I’m sad for my friend because I believe he is missing out on some incredibly valuable treasures that are only found by walking intentionally through the pain. But, I’m also sad for myself because I am in a season of pain and I want to not be here.

Not to change the subject, but I have noticed that when working out, I often cry. I’ve been pondering this habit lately because it honestly feels involuntary. Hot yoga-tears. Spin-tears. Dance-tears. Y’all, how ridiculous is that?!  Turns out it isn’t so ridiculous after all. I googled.

I think part of this phenomenon of tears mingling with my sweat is because it is freaking hard work. It is uncomfortable. It hurts. And I’d rather not. But, I believe, on the other side of the pain, is life, as in “healthier, joyful, confident, better, more whole, abundant life”. And I want that. I want the breakthrough. I want to feel stronger, more energetic, more confident, but to get there, I have to intentionally face the pain that could so easily keep me from the life I want. I could let the fear of temporary discomfort keep me from long-lasting benefits.

And the pain of life is the same. Disappointments, wounds, dead ends. They hurt. Like hell. We want to keep ourselves from having to feel the weight of those hurts. I want to insulate myself so I don’t ever have to FEEL the pain of a brokenhearted or the strain of having to figure out obstacles that I didn’t ever think I’d have to figure out. I could numb the pain; I could avoid the reality of my circumstances. But the truth is, I believe there is life on the other side. If I want to find that life, that more whole version of myself, I have to actually walk THROUGH the pain to get to the other side of it.

And here’s the kicker, for me. Our numbing devices never affect only us. In our vices, there are always others involved, even if we want to believe we are only hurting ourselves. The truth is, if we are avoiding our pain, all we are doing is dragging other people into it with us. Drunkenness, getting high, sleeping around, spending uncontrollably, cutting ourselves off from community. There are always other casualties. Why would we want to do that to our kids, our friends, even a random stranger?

I’m not immune from the temptation to numb. I get it. I find myself fighting that temptation constantly and often failing. But I believe there is life on the other side of that pain. I want the treasures to be yours. I want the treasures to be mine. But, we have to dig in. We can’t run from the darkness if we want to find the diamonds. They are there. Buried deep in the caverns of disappointments and dead ends.

And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—
    secret riches.
I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord,
    the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.

Isaiah 45:3 (NLT)

The Heavy Hope

Last week, I made a comment that may have opened some wounds. I knew it would. I said it anyway, because, though it was not for everyone that has walked that road, it was for some. And at times, words that seem harsh open eyes. And sometimes, those same words are worn by others they weren’t intended for. 

To both the intended and unintended, I want to say that you are loved. So much. The ache you feel is real and valid. Your cries are valid. I wrote a letter awhile ago on my old site. You may need it. 

I too have needed it. I wrote it for you, but this week my heart has been aching, longing for things that seem always just out of reach. I have wept a lot this week. For myself. For the ache. For the pull between wanting to make something work, and wanting to give up the hope altogether. So I needed to read my own words. I needed to preach to myself a bit. 

So today, we’ve already had one letter, but I share this one as well, because I need it and you may as well.


I have been carrying an ache in my heart for you these last days.  To see you wrestle with this want, this beautiful, God-woven want…it peels back the covering of put-togetherness we all desperately try to keep tethered to the ground around our feet. But I have seen glimpses of the frayed corners of your covering. A picture. A 140 character sigh. A far-off stare occupied by a deeply rooted thorn in your heart. A one-ton tear breaking through your “I’m fine” eyes and cutting a path of escape down your rose-garden cheek.

You are hurting. And life has not stopped to allow it. Holidays have steamrolled through as a constant reminder of hope deferred.

Hope deferred.

Such heavy words. Such known words.

It is this child. Loved before known. Held in your heart before your arms. Prayed and planned for. And grieved.

I know only a glimpse of this child-longing. I have dreamed of the day I hold my little heart-capturer as well. But, I don’t know it the way you do. I don’t know the creating of space for the expected and having to fill it again with the what once was…not as a mother does. I don’t know the sharp entrance of the arrows of well-meaning questions of “when?”.

It is him. The one with whom you hope to battle all other deferred hopes. He is your delayed desire and as a friend so rightly said, the faces of the others only serve as reminders of him not yet here.

This longing I know. This heaviness of a bare-finger. This canyon of an empty hand. These arrows have left scabs, torn through with every probing “why are you still?”

Friend, I ache for you because I know the ache of Hannah’s heart. I know the sobs and seemingly drunken slurs of words tangled in heartache.  When approached in her mess, Hannah shot life-blood into her ache by breathing out the honest words; and the hearer agreed with her prayer. “May it be.” So I will do for you. “May it be.” May the longing of your heart be met, with all the poorly-timed truths people say when our hearts hurt-yes…with more love for Jesus-yes….with deeper trust-yes…I always want those things for you, for me, but today I will beg for you to find your longing filled, for hope to be deferred no longer, for arms to be filled with the one for whom you have created space, time and again. Let’s, even if for a moment, take down the tents of put-togetherness and trade them in for coverings of grace. Longings are allowed to be spoken there. Aches find a voice. Hope deferred is met with a “May it be.” And lament leads the way to life.

From my Hannah-heart to yours,


Letters to The Family: Cheryl

Last week zoomed by so quickly that I forgot to post our next letter. This week’s letter comes from one of my newest friends. A few months ago, I was chosen from 5000 people to be one of 500 to be a part of a launch team for Jen Hatmaker’s next book which releases in August (but is available for pre-order now). This amazing group of 500 has become the most life-giving, genuine online community I’ve ever experienced. We are all gathering in September. All 500 of us…or those who can make it. A handful of these new friends happen to live in my city, so we decided to have our own little hangouts. One of these is the dearest Cheryl Moses. She is a gatherer of people and she shines with such joy! I haven’t known her long but I’m so glad I know her now!

CherylIn her own words, Cheryl Moses is the  Secretary and Ladies’ Ministry Leader at Calvary Community Church in Houston, TX. She has been at Calvary for 24 years and in that time her understanding of who Jesus is and how big His love is for her, has grown considerably. “I’ve always had a heart for serving others and ministering to women. Yet for all that I am and profess to be, a re-purposed mess may be the best description I can give for myself. If God can use me to touch just one soul through anything I say or do, then my life has been well spent.” Cheryl is single and the mom to Beau, a beautiful black Shar-Pei mix, and Ebby, to a host of babies and toddlers at her home church.

Dear Family,

I could not be more appreciative of the many ways in which you’ve nurtured me and so many others along the way. I have been extravagantly blessed by the many ways I’ve been poured into over the years, but I’d like to share with you a few things I think you should know.

Be kind to singles. Please don’t ignore us.

Please don’t lump us into a group and then close the door on us, never to check in or inquire as to how we’re doing. Consider that we walk a different path whether by choice, circumstance or in waiting, and our lives are distinctively different from most.

Invite us to serve. Ask us personally, to do so. Please don’t ask the group and consider that our “special invitation.” See in us something worthy of pursuing – a gift you need in order to be complete as a whole. We want to be included.

Don’t assume that we have no interest in coming together with others who are not in our place in life, because that’s just not true. We understand the value of gleaning all we can from those in different life stages. We value your wisdom, your insight and your perspective on things and we hope you value ours.

We are not spiritually “less than” because we are only one individual. We have as much of the Holy Spirit as you do and our singleness does not make us incomplete or incapable of serving the purposes of God in any arena because we are just one entity. We have The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit living inside of us. So I guess that trumps all suspicion. If anything, we have less distractions to pursuing the Lord more passionately, and more persistently. So please don’t assume that we are less spiritual because we’re single and our life choices are different.

Lastly, please recognize that at times our life can be very difficult, especially in the waiting. Love from our brothers and sisters, hugs, kind words, invites to lunch after church and the occasional, “I’m praying for you,” impact us more than you will ever know. We may not say it or often let on, but being single sometimes is hard. Recognizing this fact and then making us aware that you care, can make a world of difference in a rough day.

Remember, we’re just like you, only we sleep alone! We talk to our pets instead of kids and we only have to pick up after ourselves. Our hearts yearn for what yours does: more of Jesus, to bring Him honor and to live our lives to the fullest in whatever stage of life we might find ourselves. See, we’re not so very different.

Blessing you,