On a few occasions I have survived the world's most boring church services. As I sit there with the bad music, long and poorly presented sermon, and the dead interactions of people I can not help but think how opposite this must be from the thrill and adventure of the early church founders who were risking their lives and hiding in homes to tell tales of miracles and resurrections. How their pulses must have raced with passion as their bodies were laced with adrenaline at the task of growing the Church.
If we are not careful, we create a very counterfeit understanding of Church by thinking that Sunday morning services are church. They aren't. And the thinking that they are contributes to the deadening of souls who long for something more than the mundane and veils rather than reveals the glory of God.
There has to be more to life than empty traditions, routines, working 9-5, and hollow church services. Does this call out to your spirit like a spring of water to a thirsty traveler? Is boredom sucking the life out of you? I have hope for you.
The fact is: your heart was designed for adventure, intrigue, romance, and suspense. These are the things that make you feel alive. God made your body to physically respond with invigorating chemicals like adrenaline, dopamine, and cortisol when life becomes exciting and semi-unpredictable. Your longing is legitimate. How can you realize the thrill of escaping reality in a way that's healthy and holy?
Keeping it holy is key, you see. Because a thirsty soul is prone to fall for counterfeits much more lethal than boring church services. After all the human pysche falls into depression and is prone to addiction and other high-risk behaviors if boredom is permitted to survive. So, we often opt for what we falsely believe are "less dangerous" behaviors—often sexual— to quiet the mundane. That's one reason erotica is a genre of literature that's growing so rapidly that it's been accused of cannibalizing all other genres. Women are bored. And they want to escape their reality.
The desire is legitimate. But reaching for erotica, porn, sexting, and hook ups isn't. The risk to your soul in those counterfeits is great so let's see if we can find a healthy way for you to escape the mundane of this life.
St Irenaeus once said:
"The glory of God is man fully alive."
The Scriptures offer us a plethora of invitations into the fully alive state.
"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4:23)
"Come to me to have life." (John 5:40)
"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." (Psalm 27:13)
If you are in a constant state of asking yourself, "Is there more to this life"
These verses are a calling out to your heart to find more by escaping the reality of this fallen physical world to live above it in the abundance of a Sprit-driven life. Oh, you'll still have to walk it out on the hard pavement of this world, but trust me when the Spirit is directing your steps your feet don't touch the rocks. There. Is. More. It feels good to see that truth in black and white doesn't it?
Now all you have to do is find your way out. And that's a little harder. There is not one recipe for entering into the abundant life, but for each person a unique plan of action exists if you can tap into the directives of God's Spirit.
For me that plan involved quitting my very successful job as a marketing consultant in my late twenties. Oh, I'd written enough marketing action plans to suck the life right out of me. My clients were enjoying positions at the top of the market, and I was at the bottom of my energy. A doctor had prescribed anti-depressants just to help me through the day. So, I prayed and asked God's Spirit to show me if there was more. When he showed me the sexually broken hearts of the girls in His Church, I felt alive when I considered helping them heal. Fifteen years later, this is still my adventure and it makes my heart beat with wild desire.
Let me at least get your head churning about how to escape reality. Here's my top ten life-giving escape hatches. (Warning: the stakes get higher as the countdown moves towards numero uno!)
TOP TEN LIFE-GIVING ESCAPE HATCHES
- 10.) Read the biographies of world changers. Instead of reading about lame fictional characters, read the real stuff. I do this often to refuel my passion for life. Some of my recent favorites have included Chai Ling, Brother Yun, and The Mirabal Sisters. Classic favorites include David Livingston and Amy Carmichael.
- 9.) Take a 2-3 day Silent Retreat. Sometimes the noise is just getting in the way of our purpose and we can't hear God's directions. Get radically quiet.
- 8.) Get active and enjoy the cocktail of chemicals that comes with it. Hike to the top of a snow-capped mountain. Train for a 5k. Just start walking once a day. Whatever level of adrenaline junkie you may be—I'm a walking girl—get your fix of chemicals. (I think this matters for all of us, but this is a really important thing for a single woman who doesn't get some of her nuerochemicals from intimate touch and sexual play. You can curb the sexual appetite with physical release of other kinds.)
- 7.) Get a massage or facial. Pamper yourself. It's really ok. In fact, necessary if you're taking care of others. Years ago, my mentor prescribed a weekly massage for me during a time that I was really pouring out in ministry and not having a lot poured in to me. The beautiful gift of human touch is not to be taken lightly, especially if you're a single woman. Treat yourself.
- 6.)Try a new worship experience. The Bible teaches us that it's important to meet together. (Hebrews 10:25) And while I believe you need a steady, strong community to which you are accountable you can mix it up! One of my single friends is part of two congregations. From one she enjoys rich accountability and the other deeper teaching. I myself attend a great small church that meets on Sunday evenings where the fellowship is transparent (a must for me) and I also enjoy Timothy Keller's online teaching as well as Conduit Church services on Sunday mornings. Worship doesn't have to be the same week after week. Change it up.
- 5.) Learn something. A few years ago, I took tennis lessons. This past year, my daughter Lexi started buying poetry books and began writing her own. New things keep us stimulated and watching for more new things and it's just a matter of time until one of them is blessed by God.
- 4.) Go on a mission's trip. There's nothing that has ever given my heart greater fuel for living than entering into the plight of HIV/AIDS in Zambia. The stories and friendships I've enjoyed from my times there make my life worth while more than few things I've ever experienced. Pick a place (Africa, China, Russia) or an issue (HIV/AIDS, Human Trafficking, Disaster) and re-arrange your life to get involved.
- 3.) Stop thinking about it and do it. That thing you dream of. The blog, the book, the song, the hobby. Get on with it. Once begun 'tis half done. (Mary Poppins was right!) Move anything that gets in the way and start! It may not be as hard as you might think. For example, you can start your own blog in less than twenty minutes.
- 2.) Take a year off and enter The World Race. If you're between the ages of 18-35, you can take eleven exciting months and join a generation that's dissatisfied with the status quo and eager to see world changers unite to take risks and make a difference. (Your job—or one just as boring—will still be here for you when you get back. If you come back.)
- 1.) Quit your job and pursue your true passion. I did.
The Single Desire blog series is written in response to what I believe is a valid critique of my newest book Pulling Back the Shades co-authored with Dr. Juli Slattery. We revealed the five longings of a woman's heart, but never really shared why they are legitimate nor did we offer practical ideas on how to realize them. Hopefully this blog series will help as I attempt to bring some Scriptural reasons to each of them and a few practical ideas to start you in your journey! My hope is that it encourages every woman, but it's written primarily for single women who entered into a conversation with me when I wrote a blog entitled "How Can I Satisfy My Sexual Desires If I'm Destined For Singleness?" It's my prayer that Jesus would become your Single Desire.