Wandering, Wondering…

I’m a single 23-year-old girl. That awkward song “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman” rings very true. I’m too old to be a kid and too young to be an adult. I’m still the baby of both of my circles of friends, and probably will be for a long time. All of my friends are married or are in serious relationships. I’m the only one left. I have shamefully given in to crushes before, but overall, I choose to be single. I think we’ve had this conversation before!

One book of the bible most people, myself included, don’t typically venture into is the Song of Solomon. I guess I never really read it carefully because it seemed out of place to me. A series of letters professing almost erotic love to someone? In the Word of God? Why? So on the night God told me to go read it, I was confused. I asked Him if He was sure. He laughed and said, “Yes. Just do it.” (I love to laugh. I love comedy. God has a sense of humor, and we laugh together all the time. It’s awesome.)

As I’m reading this misunderstood book, I find myself pulled into its contents, captivated by this picture of true love and blown away at some of the greatest Christian pick-up lines ever written. Ultimately, the book in its entirety paints a beautiful portrait of Christ’s love for the church. But to a 23-year-old girl, it was a closet to hide away a secret hope.

The two verses that tugged on my heart have resonated in my memory since I read them. The first was 5:16. It says, “His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend…”

A close friend, and a wise, married lady once said to me, “Jessie, you’ll know when you’ve found him. You’ll know because your fantasies about him won’t be sexual. You’ll fantasize about your life together with him.” I can see that. I believe this is true, because a marriage founded on lust is as weak as the house built on sand. But the first time I “fantasized” about a man in the sense that I thought I could grow old with him, it turned out horribly. And six months later, I’m wiping off the sweat and thanking God that I got out of the way of that bullet in time. Then back in college, I was engaged to a man who, about a year after we broke up, was in prison for a very serious crime. He made headlines all over Kentucky, and the moment I saw his face in a mugshot looking back at me on the front page of a newspaper was an intense eye opener. Just recently, I was beginning to wonder what was in me that was attracting so much garbage.

I don’t know if it will ever happen, or who it could possibly happen with. But what I do know, beyond any doubt, is that if I marry, I want to marry my beloved, and my best friend. And I want to snag both of those qualities in one shot!

Later, when the book is coming to an end, I read this in chapter eight: “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave.” I’m convinced that of all the great scripture in the Word of God, no other verse comes close to describing the depths of God’s true and undying love for us. And in that verse, single guys and ladies, take heart. There is no soul mate set aside for us that could possibly come close to the passion of the Father, no romance that can wreck us like His unconditional love, and no significant other who is more jealous for us than the One who made us.

If you have that love of your life and you’re both committed to God, give Him praise for that. If you’ve chosen the single life, or you’re waiting, praise God. (Personally, I believe you’re a very wise individual.) No matter where you are in your love life, whether you’re single or you’ve been married fifty years, know that there is no lover like our God. There’s not a human being on this earth who longs to be with you like God longs to be with you. He will never hurt you, leave you, forsake you, forget you… He will never make a mistake, and He will never die. His love for you and me is everlasting. And who needs anything at all with a love like that?

Please don’t confuse my post and think I’m bashing marriage or relationships. I promise I’m not. A man who has found a wife has found a good thing. I don’t know anymore about dating, romance, or marriage now than I did the day I decided boys were cute. But I know the One who chases my heart without hesitance. What else could I possibly desire?

Rubber Snake

God has been telling me something lately that I’m supposed to do. But with the growing pains I’ve suffered lately, and the blows to my heart, I doubted. What will people think? What if I fall on my face? Will I succeed? What if God says to go and people say I’m not ready?

Did your parents ever pull a prank on you when you were a kid to teach you a lesson? God just pulled an epic prank on me. But this was no rubber snake.

We had just left an awesome worship service. It was so spirit-filled, and we all had an amazing time. So on the way home, I’m feeling pretty good. I got my spiritual car filled up to make it through the week, and I was on my way. I had the radio playing, and I was singing and praying.

I dropped my lighter down between my feet in the floor board. When I went to grab it, my eyes saw and knew what was in the floorboard between my feet. My brain was trying to process it and couldn’t handle it. It only knew something was not right. Something was there that shouldn’t be. About two seconds later, I go into an abyss of panic. Between my feet is a long, fat copperhead snake.

I have never seen a bigger snake that wasn’t in a glass at the zoo. But to me, it could’ve been the size of a worm. I didn’t care. I don’t like snakes. Leda jokes that she can kill one with her bare hands. Leda was nowhere in sight to save me. Nobody was. And I was on a stretch of road close to home that was nothing but country, so there was no help to be found anywhere.

I had to make a plan, and fast. I knew just pulling off the road wasn’t an option. There was nowhere to go but the ditches. I had to keep calm. If you see a snake in your yard or your house, you have room to scream and run away. When you’re in your car, and driving it, you panic and wreck. I wasn’t going to wreck my car. I was afraid to move my foot to the brake, anyway. So I decided I would drive the long, agonizing, horrifying mile home, use my emergency brake, and then run like hell.

I’ve heard people talk about being baptized in the Spirit as something they’ve never experienced, but so want to. I was baptized in the Spirit three or four times before I made it to the driveway. When there’s a snake by your feet, you start speaking in tongues. You cling to Jesus. You say his name over and over again. If you aren’t a Christian, you become one very quickly.

I managed to get home without killing myself or getting bitten. I threw on my emergency brake, then slowly opened the door. Every time it flicked its tongue, my heart skipped a beat. I opened the door as far as it would go for a clean getaway. I eased one leg slowly out, paused, and went to move the next one. That’s when the snake lunged at my foot. Not to bite me. He was just moving closer. And ten miles is too close to be to a snake, so two inches from my bare toe was unbearable. Yes, to make all this worse, I was wearing flip-flops. If he decided to bite, no shoe was going to get in his way. His little jump was enough to send me off the edge, and I floored it out of there. My neighbors called animal control to tell them a gazelle was loose in my yard.

After I regained myself, I had to deal with another problem. The snake was still in my car. I’m not prepared to deal with this. I found Gabriel’s shovel, and hoped a four-foot handle was long enough to keep the snake away from my hands. I crept back up to the car and it was still stretched out. But now it was moving entirely too much. His environment had changed, and he was probably as freaked out as I was. His problem was that I was the only one with a shovel. I got ready. I wasn’t going to try to save this venomous thing and let it loose in my yard, or risk being bitten in a rescue. Sorry, PETA. I took the shovel, pinned him down, and with the tip of the shovel, cut off his head. When it was still flicking its tongue, I was convinced I had a demon-possessed snake in my car. So I waited in turmoil for it to stop slithering and flicking. I finally got up enough courage to scoop both parts of his body up and threw them far into some nearby weeds.

While I was doing my oh-crap-a-snake dance again, I heard God laughing. Yes, He was LAUGHING at me. I got ticked. “What’s so funny?!”

He kept chuckling. Then He said, “Did you think I was going to let a snake get you? After all I’ve brought you through? Daughter, trust me. And trust me FULLY!”

So, there you have it. My Father played an awful, awful prank on me just to teach me how to trust Him in my fears. There’s even a scripture that says, “You will pick up the serpents, and the serpents will not harm you.” God brought that verse to a whole new level. But He used this to show me just how faithful He is, and how just to aid is in our fears. When stepping over the ledge seems frightening, God is just saying step on over. I’ve got you, kid!

Detox

I’m currently undergoing a total physical and spiritual detox. At least, I’m trying to. I was so determined that today was the day I would quit smoking. Again. I’ve been convicted of it before, but it’s especially striking at my heart now that I’m back at my old Kentucky home. Yes, you read that right. And I got some singin’ to do, but this smoke is hurting much more than just my voice. So it’s time to kick the habit. Again, again.

I made it three hours.

I don’t know who among my readers have quit smoking or tried. If you aren’t one of those readers, let me shed the same light to it that I shed on Facebook: You’ve heard it’s hard. But how hard is it? Imagine that you’ve eaten the last potato chip in the canister. The very last one. And then you remember that you can’t eat just one. You know that craving you get for a food after just one bite? Multiply that by about four million. When you’re willing to beat up an old lady for her Pringles can, or tear open an empty bag from the garbage can and lick the greasy crumbs off the inside, that’s when you know.

My mom smoked for over thirty years and finally quit. This is how she did it, and I thought it was genius. For two or three months, while she was quitting, she allowed herself to eat anything and everything she wanted. No matter what it was. Then after she kicked the habit for good, she started hitting the gym. Her before and after pictures are awesome. So, credit to mom.

That won’t work for me. I have a problem with food. If I tried to replace smoking with eating, I’d eat this entire state. Not just the food here. I’d eat Kentucky from the muddy rivers up to the mountains. I’d make history books. Fifth graders fifty years from now would be reading about the hungry hungry hippo who created the great hole in the east. Kids would be encouraged to please keep smoking, for the love of the remaining 49 states.

Someone on Facebook advised me to replace smoking with something besides food. She said, “Try jogging.” Right. Because when someone offers me a cigarette, I’d much rather go get sweaty and miserable. I did well in Tennessee with dropping weight and going to the gym, praise God. But there’s no gym within 50 miles of me anymore. Someone else suggested an electronic cigarette. No. Because I’d have that cartridge unscrewed doing nicotine shots in a dark alley.

Either way you look at it, this is going to be tough. I had no idea how hooked I really was until I went just three hours without it. Three. Have I been smoking that much? Really? I don’t remember the first time I quit being this hard. At this rate, I’m going to be curled up in the fetal position underneath the house by sundown just on the first day. I’m definitely not looking forward to this…

“Why tell us all this, Jessie? What’s the point?” I’ll tell you. Very soon, I’m going to be starting a five-part series called Cussing in Church. It’s going to be about some very deep, personal issues that you’ll rarely hear a pastor discuss. Many are too afraid of the congregation’s reaction or being offensive, or they just don’t want to. One of those issues is going to be tobacco and substance usage. Other topics are going to be centered on sexual issues, social issues, and mental health.

Stay tuned, kids. The internet is iffy since moving back home, so I’ll be starting the series as soon as possible. Expect the first post to be within the week, and we’ll start with addictions. See you again soon!

(On a serious note… If anyone has ever survived this nightmare, please offer your ideas and advice. I welcome it, because I know I can’t do this one alone. Advice and prayers would be awesome.)