Will You Marry Me?

Do you truly believe I gave you your energy, your youth, your wisdom, your influence, your power to sit on it?

Everyone hates to be single. I get it. It feels like junior varsity or second-class citizenship in the kingdom of God. Marriage is a single unit of the ultimate expression of the trinity. I’ve always heard it starts with family. Hmph? Well…where does that leave me and you?

Me as a single twenty somethings.
You as a single thirty somethings.
Me as I have run out of prayers for my “future husband.”
You as you are tired of dolling yourself up in competition to be pursued by someone who has several options other than you.
Me as I have read all of the books to “prepare” for this next season.
You as you have attended all the conferences on being content in this subclass Christian society.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Can I tell you what God has put on my heart for all of us miserable unmarrieds, by-choice singles, and freshly divorced?

“I have you where you are for a reason. It is not by accident that every single relationship you have been in has not worked out. The guy/girl seemed like the right one. It felt like the right one. But now you see clearly, none of those people were the right one. You see, rejection is necessary in order for me to bring about my best for you. If I allowed you to have everything you wanted, there would be no room for my blessings. You are too special to me for me to allow your blurred vision to take you to places that will eventually harm you. You have heard people call this place you are in a waiting season. Where in scripture do I directly address you to wait to be married? Where in scripture is there a promise that you will be married? Are you praying to me for a spouse more than you are seeking MY righteousness and MY glory? Marriage is a means to the end. Do not be fooled, beloved, by the elementary principles and societal structures of this world. What is the greatest in the world is the least in My kingdom. What is the least in your world is the greatest in My kingdom. You are not wrong to have desires, and I have every scripture promising that I actually gave you those desires when you came into relationship with my Son. It is the Holy Spirit working within you to desire good things…to desire MY things.

But to wait? Do you truly believe I gave you your energy, your youth, your wisdom, your influence, your power to sit on it? That is not the answer. No, I need you to GO here and now. While you have nothing to lose and no one to be responsible for, GO. While you are pursuing holiness alone, GO. While you have the time and free-flowing passion, GO. I am scanning the earth to find a willing soul that will go, right now. Later is not promised, but right now is your promise.”

How will you use your now? Look around you…who is in your right now season? The world does not need a finished version of you. They need a right now you.

The wait is over. Jesus is on one knee. Inside the box is life and life abundantly.

Will you marry him today? 

 

The Church Experience

If this quarantine has taught me anything, it has shown me my lack of appreciation for the church. My earliest memory of Sunday mornings was being woken up with “get ready, so we’re not late”. That tradition has spilled over into my adulthood…into many of ours. Even if we do not routinely attend church, we know that it is happening. What exactly is missed about church? What is it that leaves us feeling incomplete even as we stream a variety of services online? We have all of the tools in the comfort of our own home, yet something still seems off…

We are missing the Church Experience.

There’s a certain something that takes places within the 1-2 hours that one partakes in on Sunday morning.

  • The Drive: You are in your Sunday best. Make-up done. Fresh fit. Maybe a little hungry since you spent more time than usual on your appearance, but no worries because there are donuts and coffee waiting in the foyer. The anticipation of what will happen leads you to drive a little faster, as you realize traffic is at an all-week low.
  • The Door: As you get out of your car, maybe a few minutes behind, you see a few smiling faces at the entrance. They make eye-contact with you while you’re several feet away. Even if you considered going back home, you’re stuck now.
  • The Donuts: Maybe there are not donuts at your church. I’m referring to the idea of   a space where you stop and gather yourself before walking into the place of worship. It could be coffee, water, or picking up a few mints. It is the moment where there may be one or two others at the station that you can speak to. This particular set-up allows you to know that this place is for you with you in mind.
  • The Doxology: Praise and worship! This is probably the most notable aspect of church. It is hard to replicate this virtually. The beat of the drums, the rumbling of the bass, and the rhythm of those around you creates a “bigger-than-you” moment. If you dare close your eyes, you’ll be swept away to heaven’s gates as the lyrics ground you to God’s truth in a beautiful and melodic way.
  • The Dissection of God’s Word: Our main course is here. Hearts open, distractions minimized, cups out. No doubt in mind that God has called specific men and women to bring forth his Word in a powerful way to the church. Many of us choose the congregations on which we’ll join because of this aspect. I don’t blame you. It’s very important, maybe the most. We read the bible throughout the week and listen to podcasts, but this is where we submit to the authority of the one that God has chosen to speak to us through. We take out our journals and extend our empty cups to be filled again.
  • The Deliverance: Oh, the altar! (Personally my favorite part of church.) It’s the moment where each person is center stage. There may be background music or communion, but it is not the same as before. From public praise to individual intimacy, we are invited into a space of response. Did the sermon convict you? What is God saying to you? What should you repent from? In this moment, what is God calling you to surrender? Do you need to lean on others around you, as they intercede through prayer on your behalf?

My heart tends to grow weary as I drift into the thought of those days being behind us. But do they have to be? Can this happen virtually? Are we able to create this experience at a distance? I hope this challenges us to think deeper and strategize as we strive to find normalcy again. I pray that we keep the integrity of the Church so that God’s glory will not fall short due to our pitying. I pray that we can adapt and adjust to these isolating times with the gifts that God has given us.

Let’s gather again as we distance.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Matthew 18:20

 

A Fairytale Fraud

 

March 30th, 2019 was by far one of the greatest days of my life and the most empty.

To preface the reader,

My husband is the greatest
Marriage is amazing (when used for God’s purpose)
God is to be praised for my heartache poured out below…

The Engagement 

In the beginning of my engagement season, I knew my wedding day wasn’t going to be Pinterest-board worthy. I knew that it wouldn’t be my dream wedding and that I would be disappointed, regretful, and dissatisfied in the moment, but I would laugh later at the things that went “wrong” in my eyes. In the 5 months prior to my wedding day, I spent my time planning, preparing, praying, calling, questioning, booking, reading, seeking counsel, and waiting. I decided on details that I had to keep telling myself was for ONE DAY. Over and over I reminded myself of God’s promise that worldly joys are temporary, true satisfaction is in Christ alone, and the wedding was just the beginning of my marriage, not a happily ever after, roll the credits, type of ending.

The Wedding 

The dress, the flowers, the food, the cake, the venue, and the man. It was exactly what I had hoped for and nothing I expected. I had just married my best friend! Yet leaving my wedding reception on the day I looked forward to for the majority of my life pinched me numb with a joy I had never felt before. Almost like when you’ve just scorched your tongue from coffee and continue to drink despite not being able to taste it. 

Was I hungry? (I did only take a couple bites of my food. )
Was I tired? (I mean I had been awake since 5 am functioning on about 4 hours of sleep.) 
Was it the reality that I was going to have to share a bathroom with a BOY for the rest of my life?

Whatever it was, it was a huge weight sitting in the pit of my stomach as I rode off into a cold, windy, overcast sunset. 

March 30th, 2019 was by far one of the greatest days of my life and the most empty.

The Day After

Yet, on March 31st, 2019, our first official day as Mr. & Mrs. Allen, I sat across from my very best friend in the whole wide world and yet, felt all alone. All the attention Terence and I were receiving faded away and everything fell silent. No more bridal showers, brunches, or bachelorette parties, the countdown clock had run out. When it all boiled down it was just him and I. My life drastically changed in a matter of hours and the emotion I experienced jammed my thoughts and left me feeling dizzy. Good dizzy? Bad dizzy? Who knows? I would have been absolutely content with moving away and starting from scratch a whole new life with Terence, and to some extent, there WAS a new life awaiting me, just not the way I expected.

On top of this, I felt exposed. I was in a hotel, surrounded by strangers, and it felt like all eyes were on me. Like, “just married” was written on my forehead and empty cans were tied to my feet. The excitement of what happened the day before was slowly fading away and anxiety set in.

Was it everything I hoped it to be?
Did our guests enjoy themselves? (I really hope my polaroid guest book was successful.)
Did we get enough pictures?

Maybe I should have had the reception at a different location?

I was replaying over and over every moment and every decision that in my mind I could have made better. I was reanalyzing and reassessing every detail, rethinking all the ways the day could have been better, and ticked all the ways it went wrong. I was driving myself c r a z y… Unknowingly, I placed expectations on my wedding day that were revealed after the noise grew quiet.

It is so easy to get caught up in the glamour of a wedding, that we ignore the gunk marriage brings out

I’ve realized now, the wedding day is just what the enemy wanted me to focus on to disguise the BEGINNING as the END. In John 10:10, Jesus warns us that the enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy and that only through being saved by Him, we have life and life abundantly. Satan’s intention was to distract me from the true joy that sat before me; from the true reason of why I now had two rings on my finger: Jesus’ love for Terence and I. God loves us so much He tied us to one another so that we would know His love in a deeper way. The picture that marriage portrays is a deep desire that Jesus has for us. As the Father is one with the Son, so two(male and female) become one; but it’s not God’s intention to make Terence and I a better couple…it’s to reveal the need of a love only supplied through the cross Jesus bore on our behalf.

God-ordained marriage is to be a sacrificial covenant between a man and a woman. To show the two the relationship between Jesus and the Church. That His gospel may be understood deeply by the two, that his glory may be displayed by the two, and that two sinners would pour out grace upon grace to one another from the source it flows abundantly from. His greatest commandments are the very foundation they are called to stand upon, to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love their neighbor, in this case spouse, more than themselves (Matt. 22:37). 

And Every Day Until…

It is so easy to get caught up in the glamour of a wedding, that we ignore the gunk marriage brings out, especially the gunk it brought up from my own heart. My selfish desires and sinful ways are being broadcast live for Terence to see everyday. I would write them all out but ONLY Jesus got time for that… So to sum it up, I am a sinner with a heart condition only cured by the grace of Jesus Christ, not by “I dos” and a smooch. Being married to Terence has revealed that I need a Savior. I need Jesus to help me love him, and he needs Jesus to help him love me, not just in the beginning but every day that I wake up as Mrs. Allen. By relying on the Father, I relate to Terence knowing I can’t satisfy him. 

The Father satisfies. Christ is the ultimate spouse, partner, protector, healer, and comforter. Terence can’t be the captor of my heart, but the reminder of who wove it together from the beginning. Despite our imperfect love for others, God will never leave us, nor forsake us. He doesn’t react out of defense when we get upset with Him, He sees all our flaws, failures, and farts and loves us still. He is gentle and assertive. He loves us perfectly even when we don’t understand what He’s doing. He sacrificed Someone He loved very much so that we would be with Him (John 3:16). He loves us BECAUSE He loves us. (No typo here, the reason God loves us is because He does!!) We don’t have to earn it, nor do we have to pay it back in full, it is freely given. Christ brought me into marriage to shine a light where it was dark. I am not meant to be independent nor dependent on Terence, but to look to the Father for help, in hurt, and for healing.

To the Soon-to-be Brides:

I pray that your day is magical, filled with a joy that only God can give through marriage, but I pray that you NEVER wish to go back to it. I pray that you look back at your wedding day and reminisce on the joy that God brought you two into, but most importantly the joy of marriage God will keep you two in. God will KEEP your marriage. God will SUSTAIN your marriage. God will be GLORIFIED through your marriage. God merely begins the work in you and your husband on your wedding day and He is faithful to see His work through. I pray He makes each day better than the day before, not because you play dress up, pamper yourself, or dance the night away; but because God, through His word, His holy teaching, is pruning and molding you to serve, honor, respect, and submit (yep I said it) to a man who leads, loves, cherishes, and who WILL grind your every gear. Only God, being rich in love and mercy, grants us the ability to humbly sacrifice our desires and wants for a man He’s called us to marry. 

To all the Single Ladies:

If you believe anything, believe this, you are loved, cared for, and heard. You are wanted, cherished, and desired. Maybe not by an earthly man, but by a Perfect Man who laid His life down to meet all your needs.

I’m so so so sorry if you’ve ever felt that you’re on the clock to get married and your time is running out. I am so sorry if you’ve ever felt that marriage is something you have to attain. I am so sorry if you’ve ever felt that marriage is the end goal when in fact it is the beginning of something challenging and humbling. I’m especially sorry if you’ve felt that marriage is a place you’ll never be in, because that is not true. As cheesy as it sounds, you are right where God has you!

Through marriage God is teaching me to die to myself, to die to my wants, to die to my desires and cherish another human life more important than my own, and it is HARD. It’s not all roses as a wedding makes it seem. God is teaching me that my choices no longer, nor ever did, revolve around me, which I made them out to be in my single life. God has graciously opened my eyes to see that I desperately need Him in my marriage, in my job, with my friends, with my family, and ultimately my heart. That may not be the lesson He’s teaching you. You may be content exactly where you are and for that God has you in completely different circumstances, not good or bad, just different. 

Hear me out, I believe God can use you in a greater way than He can use me. My time is divided in such a way that when I get home I can’t just leave the scraps of my day for Terence. It requires boundaries to be set in order to give him the same energy I would give any relationship, job, or, especially, my intimacy with God. From a different angle, I have to divide my time in more directions to cultivate and grow my marriage, that means less time with my family, friends, and my job. I can’t give my all to one place or else I’ll have nothing for Terence when I get home. If you believe anything, believe this, you are loved, cared for, and heard. You are wanted, cherished, and desired. Maybe not by an earthly man, but by a Perfect Man who laid His life down to meet all your needs. 

With a year behind me, I definitely can’t consider myself “wise” when it comes to marriage, but I sure have felt pulled and stretched in ways I can’t deny. I wrote this mostly for my own heart and to have in writing a memory of God’s goodness to His relationship with me. I also wrote it for any reader to know that God satisfies any heart, in times of expected joy, unexpected sorrow, or the confused thing I had going on. Through and through God remains the constant source of life and He gives it abundantly. 

Meet with Him, seek His glory, and share what He’s done through Jesus Christ YOUR Lord. May God bless you with Himself,
Carly Allen

Virus of Control

In late 2019, a new headline was introduced as several citizens of Wuhan, China began to undergo a sickness. This particular phenomenon spread at the speed of lightening causing numbers to grow off the chart. News then spread to neighboring countries about this outbreak. At the end of March, the United States is leading the race with a hundred thousand new cases.

The coronavirus is the physical condition that we are afraid of, but I dare say that God is revealing a more deadly virus that has been incubating for years: Control.

During the outbreak of such an unknown, quickly spread disease our world is now grasping at whatever they can to soften the blow. Politicians, their predictions. Parents, their sanity. Healthcare workers, their expertise. Patients, their next breath. Underneath it all, our world is grasping for control.

Currently, our ache for control has surfaced for many of us because we indeed have none. We are no longer the masters of our career, education or finances. We just don’t know what is to come. For many years, our country has been built on control. Whoever has the most money has the most power. With power, there is control over others. Those who are under that power are oppressed. Furthermore, the drive for those who are oppressed are to make it on top. For as long as time ever was, the grind and hustle for money has become our ultimate goal…also known as the “American Dream”.

Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 

God’s dream for us is not a fanciful sprint to have a perfect family behind a white-picket fence. His reality for us is to be His children, wholly satisfied in Him. He gives us water that not only hydrates us but promises that we will not thirst again (John 4: 14). There are thousands of sources that will prepare you for the coronavirus. I have only four steps that I believe will allow the presence of God to cleanse our souls of the germs of control:

Pause in front of the mirror to see who you really are. 
We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 
Daniel 9:5

Turn on the water to rinse off the lies that you believe.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
James 4:8

Apply soap to disinfect what you cannot see.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9


Rinse again and believe that you are made new. 
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 2:38

 

A Christian Experience

God did not give me a spirit of fear but of power, love and self-control. 

This is my daily reminder and most powerful combative verse to answer my specific call by God each day. It keeps me grounded in faith. It reminds me that my weaknesses are His opportunities to strengthen me. I am enabled to love people beyond my natural ability and I can say no to things that are not for me.

Even more, as I begin this series titled “A Christian Experience”, I choose boldness in sharing my experiences as a Christian in several contexts (i.e., the workplace, classrooms, unequally yoked relationships, friendships). I will do a special post on my experience as a Christian in the church. I will also invite others to showcase their experiences as well.

This will be a very sensitive series, so I ask that if you are not firm in your faith knowing who God is for yourself, maybe refrain from reading this. My hope is to not turn you away from Jesus but to be as authentic as possible as a Christian, allowing people to see it is no walk in the park. There is beauty but there is also tremendous burden. Joy and jadedness. Love and lies.

Stay tuned…