If you’ve read my other posts on singleness you may be wondering what this looks practically.
Maybe the principles I’ve shared make sense– you understand that singleness is a gift and an opportunity to gain Christ. You believe that this season has potential, but you don’t know how to use it well.
Maybe you believe that Jesus is sufficient but your longings for marriage still feel overwhelming. You believe that, as a single woman, you are to live a life without distraction yet you are distracted.
I’d like to share some practical principles with you. I remember realizing, for the first time, that I could have victory over my thought life. This realization didn’t immediately lead to victory. I needed to learn to practically apply Truth to my life.
I remember one day in particular when I was really struggling with distraction. My thoughts were unruly and, seemingly, uncontrollable. I took a long walk to pray through the whole situation. That is the day I first gained practical victory over sin in my life.
The principles I learned then are the principles I still turn to.
1. Pour out your heart to the Lord.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. SelahPsalm 62:8
Part of trusting in the Lord is pouring out our hearts before Him. Another Scripture I return to is Philippians 4:6-7.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7
Get that? It says that we are to be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer to make our requests known to God. A promise follows– the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds.
This is a principle I apply to many situations. If I am lacking peace in any area, my first question is whether I have made it known to the Lord through prayer.
That’s what I did on that walk– I first poured out my heart to the Lord and brought everything to Him.
2. Memorize and quote Scripture.
Let me preface this point by stating that Scripture is not a magic charm. Scripture in itself does not transform. I can know all the correct theology, but if I do not believe it I will not be changed. (Hebrews 4:2) We must believe the Word of God.
When I say memorize and quote Scripture I mean this as aid to believing it. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17)
The Scripture I quoted on that walk was 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.1 Corinthians 6:19-20
I also memorized Colossians 3:1-3 for this purpose.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.Colossians 3:1-3
Quoting these Scriptures reminds me of the Truth that I can walk in victory. Jesus died to free me from sin. I can choose to set my mind on Him. I can glorify Him in my body.
I know I already talked about prayer in the first point. I want to come at it from a different angle. I have found it helpful to pray for the person I am struggling with. In this context, that would be a guy I am attracted to. (I also use this tactic when I am experiencing envy, anger, hurt, etc.)
Instead of allowing myself to fantasize about him, I can pray. I do not pray about a relationship with him. When I am pouring out my heart before the Lord that includes my desire for a relationship. That isn’t where I want my focus to stay. My goal is to shift my focus from myself. I pray with the good of my brother and glory of God in mind.
Praying for the young men in our lives should be habitual. We are commanded to pray for all men. (1 Timothy 2:1) Jesus also said that we should be know as His church by our love for one another. (John 13:35) I think praying for one another is a part of this. It also happens to be an effective strategy against distraction!
Here’s a short list of some of the ways I pray for my brothers. Scripture gives us a lot of things we can pray for!
- They would stand for Truth.
- Their lives would be marked by integrity.
- God would use them to share the Gospel with those around them.
- They would rejoice in trials.
- For wisdom in decision making.
- The work of their hands would be blessed.
- They would be men who lead.
- That they would be marked by the love of Christ.
- For humility.
- They would continue to be conformed to the image of Christ.
4. Give thanks.
I implement the tips I am sharing in many different situations. This one is no different!
Giving thanks should be a mark of our lives in Christ. We are commanded to give thanks in all things. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Giving thanks turns our eyes to God– to who He is and what He has done.
I practice giving thanks spontaneously and habitually. Spontaneous thanksgiving often happens on walks, thanking God for the fresh air, the birds, the mountains, the new life of Spring, and the ability to walk. I also, habitually, write lists of things I am thankful for in my journal. The lists vary from chocolate and coffee to a freshly gleaned Truth from Scripture.
However and whenever I practice giving thanks I have found that it helps me redirect negative or misplaced thoughts and emotions.
5. Watch your intake.
Every person is different. (I probably don’t need to state this!) But it isn’t any different when it comes to fighting temptation. I have learned that watching movies or reading books heavy on love stories and listening to love songs is not helpful for me. It becomes a distraction because it makes it much more difficult for me to turn unhelpful thoughts and emotions to Christ.
This isn’t the same for everyone. Some of my friends can watch or listen to things I can’t, no problem. My advice would be to be watchful. Pay attention to those things that help you and those which hinder you. Our goal as Christians is to run with endurance, throwing off every sin and weight. (Hebrews 12:1-2) While watching movies, reading, and listening to music are not sin, they can be weights which hinder our relationship with Christ.
Ours should be the love that asks not ‘how little?’ but, ‘how much?’ The love that delights to pour out everything upon the feet of our Beloved.Amy Carmichael