Dear Church, It’s OK to be Single

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Welp, it’s Valentine’s Day, and for the 23rd consecutive year, I’m single.

I’m gonna be 23 this August and I’ve never so much as gone on a date. The last time a girl even hinted that she liked me was in 1st grade. I struggled all throughout middle school, high school, and even some of college with insecurities and thinking that I was undateable. It wasn’t until late in my sophomore year of college that I finally began giving those insecurities to God and quit worrying about what everyone around me thought, because there was a good chance that none of them cared, anyway.

While I was going through all of that, I witnessed friends and close family members get into (and sometimes out of) relationships almost weekly (or at least it felt like that). Looking around at my friends, it felt like I was the only single person, which was ridiculous because plenty of my friends were single, I just refused to acknowledge and believe that. It was hard enough to witness so many relationships, engagements, and even a few marriages while I struggled with self-esteem. Now that I’ve surrendered it to God, it’s gotten somewhat easier to see my friends and family go through so much happiness, but it’s still not very much fun.

It’s never easy being single on Valentine’s Day, especially when many of your family and/or friends are in relationships, engaged, or married. It’s even harder if you’re a Christian while all of that is going on. Christianity can be cruel to single people, albeit unintentionally. I can’t count how many times well-meaning Christian people have asked me, “When are you going to meet a nice girl?” Believe me, nothing would make me happier then to do just that, but Christendom has put so much pressure on young, single people like me to find someone and find someone now.

I’m so fed up of all this pressure. It’s hard enough to stay pure, try to wade through the sea of “fish” (as the saying implies), narrow it down to a few potential candidates that match yours and God’s criteria, and pick the right one. That’s a daunting undertaking. However, apparently taking the necessary time to not just find the right one, but the one God has chosen for you isn’t quick enough for some in Christendom. To some, not being married by the time you’ve graduated college means that there’s something wrong with you. You’re either impure, walking away from the faith, or there’s something wrong with you personally, physically, emotionally, or all of the above. They treat us single people like we have a disease.

It’s getting to the point that I at times feel guilty that I haven’t found someone yet. The church preaches endlessly on the importance of family, and here I am sitting on my hands doing nothing to oblige the seemingly thousands of people that are expecting me to do my part repopulating the church (through marriage, of course). I’m fed up with it. If the church is making me and many others like me feel this way, it’s time for those in the church to take a step back and reevaluate what and how they’re teaching. At the risk of sounding blasphemous or, even worse, liberal, I believe the church needs to put less of an emphasis on family.

Now, I’m not by any means saying that the church should stop believing or preaching the importance of family. Quite the contrary, I think they should continue doing just that. But I think that when it comes to preaching about family to younger people, especially high school and college students, they should be careful as to how much emphasis they put on marriage and family. At times, it feels as though those in the church don’t believe that it’s healthy to be single. That is absolutely not true. And I honestly believe that there are those in the church that believe God has called all Christians to be married and have families. That is also not true. God never promises you a wife (or husband, if you’re a woman), 3 kids, a high paying job, and a nice house in the suburbs with a white picket fence when you choose to follow Him. Quite the contrary, He promises that we’ll be persecuted for His Name’s sake. Marriage and family are a blessing, not a requirement for life as a Christian, and should be treated as such in the church.

In regards to singleness being unhealthy, in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul goes so far as to not only imply that being single is healthy, but he makes a case for staying single:

“An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided…” (1 Corinthians 7:32b – 34a, NLT).

As Paul shows in these and other verses in chapter seven, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being single. In fact, we single people should take advantage of it right now!

So to all of my fellow single people on this Valentine’s Day, I just want to let y’all know it’s ok to be single. If you want to be married, wonderful! Keep praying that God will bring the right person to you in His perfect timing. Pray blessings over that person, even though you’ve never met them before. If you don’t feel like you’re supposed to get married or are holding off on that for a later time, fantastic! Take advantage of your free time. Do things that you’ve always wanted to do. Travel, take risks, have fun. And, most importantly, use your free time to further study God and His Word. Grow in your walk with Him. And to those who work in the church, don’t look down on us single people. We can’t just walk out the doors after service and magically make our soul mate appear. Acknowledge and sympathize with us about how difficult it can be to be single and don’t look down on us. To those are married, but don’t work in the church, do the same. Don’t ask a single person, “So when are you going to meet someone?” For the sake of your health, don’t do it. Ever.

And finally, I want to wish a happy Valentine’s Day to everyone who is in a relationship, engaged, or married! Enjoy your time with your special person! And to those of us who aren’t celebrating, just remember that being single is ok. And that spending Valentine’s Day in sweats watching TV and eating candy is a pretty fantastic way to spend a Saturday!

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It Is Well

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God is hard to figure out, which is a good thing.

There are situations that I’m sure God blessed, only to have him say “no,” and vice versa. When I need a word from Him, He’s silent. When I so desperately want a “yes,” He says “no,” or, even worse, “wait.” But there are two words that are even worse than all of that combined. These two words break my heart and fill me with courage, love, and hope at the same time:

“Trust Me.”

Two little words. Two syllables. Yet, they have so much power.

I absolutely hate hearing these words. It’s because they’re usually the exact opposite of what I want to hear. A lot of us hate those words because they require us to have faith, something that can be extremely scary. I don’t understand why I and so many other Christians have such a hard time trusting Him. Throughout the Bible, they are so many examples of people trusting God and having things work out for them. I think we fear trusting Him because there are no guarantees that come with that trust. But God isn’t looking for a guarantee; he’s looking for an obedient heart. If we can prove to Him that we’re willing to go and do anything He asks us, He’ll bless us, and sometimes He’ll bless us with the very thing we repeatedly ask Him for.

We as Christians often pray for things and kind of subconsciously give God a “wink wink nudge nudge,” thinking that He’ll give us what we want just because we really want it. For some reason, we like to think that we can will God into give us what we want. That’s not the attitude we should have when we speak to Him. When was the last time we prayed for the courage to trust Him instead of giving Him a wish list?

I’ve had to learn this in my life through two major situations that required me to trust in God. The first was college. When I started at Texas Christian University, I was absolutely terrified. I really didn’t want to go there. I was coming out of homeschool and all of my friends were from church. As an introvert, I abhor situations where I have to be around mass groups of people. That’s what college is when you’re first starting out and know no one there. I felt abandoned.

I was really struggling with adjusting to college. In order to make friends, I decided to pledge the Christian fraternity Beta Upsilon Chi (BYX), which took up a lot of my time. And, of course, I was really stressed out with the workload. Being a top 100 university, TCU is harder and has more demands than the average university. I was mad at God for putting me in this situation.

That’s when I discovered the power of worship music. Earlier that year (2010), Passion put out the album Awakening. There were two songs from that album that were massive hits in churches, “Our God,” and “Awakening.” Also, the David Crowder Band broke all of Christian radio with the massive hit “He Love Us.” Those three songs, plus the song “SMS (Shine)” from the David Crowder Band, were on constant repeat on my iPod my freshman year.

There was an experience I had with one of those songs that I’ll never forget. Driving home from a fraternity meeting, “He Loves Us” came on my iPod. I felt the weight of my fears bubble up to the surface. It was like I was carrying something heavy and, out of nowhere, God took it from me. I felt an overwhelming sense of peace, and it was then when I knew that, if I trusted Him, I would get through TCU. I literally had to pull the car over because I began to cry. I’m talking sobbing.

That was a turning point. Even though it still took me another couple of semesters to completely adjust to TCU, things got better from there. I certainly had my rough days, weeks, and semesters, but every time I felt like quitting, I trusted in God and that put my fears at ease. I graduated in May of this year with a Bachelor’s of Science in Film, TV, and Digital Media

The other major situation in which I’ve had to put my faith in Him is my current situation. I’m working as an unpaid intern at a small, Christian production company in Tyler, Texas.

This wasn’t the plan. I had it all planned out by my junior year of high school: I was gonna go to TCU, make lots of friends, make a bunch of short films, meet a cute girl, and graduate with honors. Then, I was gonna find work at a church or production company in DFW, save up money for a ring, and get started on the rest of my life. Instead, I made a handful of really close friends and a bunch of acquaintances, worked on very few short films, graduated with an (at best) above average GPA, and never once got anywhere close to asking a girl out. And to make things worse, I get to see my friends and relatives start their lives. They’re getting married, having babies, buying houses, and making money. And here I am making no money, living in a two-bedroom apartment with 4 other dudes, and I’ve never come close to being on a date, much less in a relationship. This hasn’t been the easiest few months.

Not long into my two-year internship, I seriously considered dropping out due to circumstances I can’t talk about. My parents and I prayed earnestly for God’s guidance. We all felt like this was where He led me, yet things just didn’t seem right. Not long after we started praying, I had an eerily similar experience to my freshman year at TCU. I was returning to east Texas after spending the weekend back home. I promised my parents that I, along with them, would continue to pray about the situation throughout the week. When I returned home on Friday, I had talked to my parents about where we stood, spiritually. None of us had received a word from God. The only word my mom got about the situation was, “Let Me talk to Matt,” which went with the word I got the previous day: “You’ll have an answer by the end of the weekend.” I’ve had times when I thought God said something like that, only to have it be myself thinking that. I didn’t put a whole lot of weight in that thought until I heard what my mom told me.

So, we all waited throughout the weekend, hoping that I would hear something. When it came time to leave and I still hadn’t heard anything, we all promised to continue praying. As I was driving back to east Texas, I felt God nudge me to play some worship music in the car. What ensued was an uncanny string of worship songs (all on shuffle) that were all very relevant to the situation. After what was probably the fifth or sixth song that hit home, I felt God gently whisper in my ear those two words that I hate more anything, “Trust Me.

I began to cry, just like I did four years ago. I was reminded of what happened after that experience and how TCU went from being insurmountable to conquerable. It was in that moment that I knew that if I trust Him, things are gonna work out. I don’t know what the next year and a half are going to entail, but I know that if I continue to trust in Him, it’ll be better than anything I could ever imagine.

Appropriately, the song “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel Music has been on non-stop repeat recently. It really hits home, especially during the bridge:

You make me brave

You make me brave

You call me out beyond the shore into the waves

You make me brave

You make me brave

No fear can hinder now the promises You’ve made

That’s such a hard thing to take to heart. Fear can’t touch His promises. He’s promised to protect us, to provide for us, and to be with us always and forever. Yet, some of us allow fear to make us forget those promises and that He’s not going to break them. What we need to do is take Philippians 4:6-7 to heart: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (NLT, emphasis added). As hard as it is, we need to obey God, pray for His protection, guidance, and for the courage to trust in Him, and then we need to actually trust Him. In the end, everything will work out, we’ll each be able to say “It is well with my soul.”

“Let go, my soul, and trust in Him.” – Bethel Music

The Beginning

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I figure the best way to begin this blog is by starting it, as Perd Hapley would say. I never thought I’d write a blog. I’ve always struggled with writing out my feelings. However, this a different season in my life. It’s a season of change. And with this season of change, I’ve come to realize that I have some things to say. Things that are too long for a Facebook status or a tweet. But before those things can be said, I feel like I should first introduce myself for those of you who may not know me that well.

I’m 22. I grew up in Hurst, Texas, a suburb of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. I was homeschooled for most of my academic career, which was a fantastic experience. I became a Christian 15 years ago when I was in 2nd grade.

I grew up in a Christian home and have always gone to church, but I really didn’t experience God fully until my family started going to Gateway Church. If you’ve heard of that church, I’m not surprised. It’s the second largest church in Texas (behind Lakewood) and is the home church of Dove award winning worship artist Kari Jobe. When my family started going in 2001, there were 250 members and the church was using another church’s building on Saturday nights. Now, it has more than 30,000 members spread across 5 different campuses. It’s been an incredible 13 years and an unbelievable journey to see the church grow like it has.

Before we started going to Gateway, I didn’t really know what a real church was supposed to be like. Even at a young age, I thought church was just something you went to every Sunday so you can be a good Christian. When I came to Gateway, I discovered that church isn’t a place you go to mark off your weekly checklist; it’s a place you go to encounter God and to grow in Him. And grow I have. The 13 years I’ve spent at Gateway have been the best of my life. I’ve grown exponentially. I’ve learned what it means to be fed at church. The difference between me now and me then is night and day, to say the least.

In 2010, I enrolled at TCU (Texas Christian University), in Fort Worth. I majored in Film, TV, and Digital Media, and minored in History. It was an up and down journey, and I definitely didn’t love every part of it, but it was one of the best experiences of my life. I grew more than I ever have in those four years. I learned how to persevere through times, and I came out stronger because of them. I made friends that I hope to keep for life and had experiences that I’ll never forget.

Currently, I live in Tyler, Texas. I work as an intern at a small Christian production company. These last few months have been a real leap of faith for me. I’m living away from my family for the first time ever and I’m having to essentially start completely over. It hasn’t been easy to say the least, and I don’t foresee it getting easier for at least a couple more months, but I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be, so God will make everything work out for good in the end.

And that’s a short introduction to myself. I’ll no doubt go into more detail about all of these different aspects of my life in future posts.

This blog is going to be a place where I go to rant or give my opinion on certain topics. Those know me know that I can be very opinionated, so this is a great place to talk about my opinions! I currently don’t have a plan as to what the structure or topics of this blog will be, but for right now, I foresee it being mostly about Christianity and Christian movies/TV. I’ll probably sneak a blog about sports or some other topic in there somewhere, but I’ll try to keep those to a minimum.

I really hope you enjoy this blog! I’m really excited to give this a try! I pray that the words I write would impact you and that God would use them to speak into your life!