The world of a small Bible college is wonderful; full of encouragement in the Word, fellowship with like-minded believers, and an abundance of discipleship opportunities, but there is also a lot of peer pressure, particularly in one area. At many Bible colleges it can seem like the vast majority of young women are attending simply to get their MRS degree, in fact, my college, a Bible institute, has been nicknamed the "Bridal" institute by more than a handful of students who are no doubt feeling the pressure to hear wedding bells "ring before Spring." (Random Note: Some time ago my school actually offered a degree in home economics - not sure exactly what they had in mind there.) I too have felt pressure from time to time, and sensed a burden weighing upon me that the Lord does not desire for me to carry at this time. Therefore, I would like to share some things that can help us to refocus on our primary purpose as single young women desiring to serve the Lord; tips to help us not only survive, but thrive, single at any "bridal" institute (or wherever the Lord has placed us).
1. Pray, Don't Pine
I really don't think this needs much explanation, but we all need gentle reminders at times. Prayer is powerful; it has healed the sick, raised the dead, disarmed temptation, and saved souls from the brink of eternal destruction. When the cloud of self-pity begins to descend upon you turn to the One who is called the Light of the World. He delights to answer our petitions for deliverance from the doldrums of unnecessary depression. Thank the Lord for what He has freely given (life, salvation, sanity, to name a few), instead of pining after what He has not yet granted.
2. Ask, Never Assume
I often find myself, as I watch star-crossed lovers gaze into each others eyes, thinking how wonderful it would be to be unconditionally loved in that way, but in that moment the Enemy has whispered a poisonous lie into my ear by telling me, not only what I should desire, but what I actually do desire. Why do we believe the lie? Instead of assuming that a lie is truth, or that our thoughts reflect our pure heart desires, we ought to examine our felt desires by analyzing them and frequently asking ourselves, is that what I really want? I find that when I ask myself this question the desire of my heart is not to another person's eyeballs always at my disposal in which to gaze, but a deeper meaning and purpose in the life of someone greater than myself. I know Someone who can offer us just that; His name is Jesus.
3. Encourage, Rather Than Envy
Please don't misunderstand my purpose for this post. I believe that marriage is a beautiful, God-ordained institution, and obviously friendships and dating/courting are somewhat necessary practices in order to achieve the end result of marriage, but often the pressure to be in a relationship can be extreme in places like Bible college. One might almost be looked down upon if they don't at least have their sights set on finding a mate before graduation. All that said, I greatly admire those here on my Bible college campus who are in godly relationships with members of the opposite sex with the goal of marriage in mind (and heart). This leads me to my point. Instead of envying those who have found "the one" rejoice with them in their joy and seek to encourage them to remain pure and devoted to the Lord throughout their relationship. If you find yourself part of the those who have not yet experienced such relationship providence you can be an encouragement again by sharing these things with them. By pouring into the lives of others you'll get caught up in the ministry of others-centered love and forget to compare what they do or do not have to your own situation.
4. Diminish Daydreams
Yes, yes... I'm bringing up the dreaded D word. We all do it, but we don't talk about it; we don't address it. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" but how hard are we actually trying to do that? I fail here, and I know I'm not the only one... at least I hope I'm not the only one. I've determined to stop daydreaming before, and at I've been able to succeed for a time, but I always lapse back into my old ways. Accountability may be the key; in prayer may the Lord reveal to me where the strength of His grace lies in this area. As you can see, I haven't thought through this much lately; the Lord brought it to the attention of my heart just now. I will be thinking on it though, and will try to do a follow-up post in the future. Please join me in thinking and praying about this struggle with our fleshly thoughts. Is not daydreaming about a blissful future with a certain someone whom we can name and picture in our minds really just lust? And is not the Scripture very clear that lust is as the sin of adultery committed in our heart of hearts? O, Lord, forgive us for our impure, wandering thoughts!
5. Sing the Song of the Saviour
Sisters (and any brothers who may be reading this), there is only one thing that can truly bring out entire lives into submission under the Lord Jesus Christ. We must allow ourselves to be consumed with His greatness, His glory, and His beauty. We must sing the song of the Saviour; we must dance to the music that reminds us of His splendor; we must worship Him in the splendor of His holiness. Oh that our hearts would be constantly reminded through His love letter to us - through His Word - that He is all we need, and that He is the Fulfiller of our soul's deepest desires, even when we do not even know what those desires truly are. Even when our minds wander from Him, when our eyes stray from His face, when our hearts feel the pressure of earthly things and we turn to look inwardly to our sinful flesh for satisfaction, instead of outwardly to the One in whom alone our souls can find rest, even then, He is faithful to come and remind us of who it is that we serve. What a gracious, glorious God we have the privilege to know and love! Take it not for granted, sisters! Embrace Him through all your years. Whether single or married survive and thrive only in Him.
I realize that this post only skimmed the surface of these topics, each of which could have (and probably have had) books written about them. I encourage you to ponder these things, and dig into them more in the coming days and weeks. Entreat the Lord to search your heart, to know you, and to see if there be any wicked way in you, that He might lead you in the everlasting way. I will be doing the same, and hope to share many of my thoughts, prayers, and reflections here with you. I am,
Strengthened By His Grace,