In honor of my Golden Birthday (that’s when you turn the age of the date of your birthday) I have decided to go out on a limb and share something even more personal than my thoughts. So here’s a video for ya. It is from about 2 years ago and we are super boring to watch (my apologies. We never thought we’d show anyone the video so we didn’t think about an audience at the time) but the song is wonderful (originally by JJ Heller) and it often helps me to refocus on the Lord’s faithfulness when I’m having trouble remembering. I hope it does the same for you.
Monthly Archives: January 2014
Last week I asked for suggestions for what to blog about next. Since I only got one suggestion I guess it’s pretty clear what I have to do. So this week I’m posting a special video blog based on my talk at Epiphany Station. Please excuse the lighting, it’s not the best.
Giving into the Lord by giving into Nolan was the best decision I could have made. From the first moment I told Nolan about my change of heart the Lord began to open my eyes to the perfectly intricate love-story He had been writing all along. For months I was ceaselessly bombarded with the details of God’s creativity. I would be reminded of prayers I had prayed in high school that the Lord was fulfilling through Nolan. Nolan would say things to me that I had only heard in movies, he made me feel like I was a gift to him, but the more time I spent with Nolan the more I realized he was the real gift. Suddenly I couldn’t believe I had gone so long without noticing how wonderful he was, and the days of not having romantic feelings for him were long gone. Just sixteen months after we started dating, Nolan and I were engaged, and in May of 2013 we started the most exciting adventure of our lives: marriage. I thought my twenties were the most thrilling years of my life, and like many people I dreaded turning 30. I became a wife only three months after my 30th birthday though, so I’m quite confident the years ahead of me will be just as exciting as the years behind.
It has only been four months since our wedding, but God has shown me a lot since then. For starters, just because I am no longer part of CTI Music Ministries doesn’t mean my life of ministry has ended. Our whole lives are meant to be ministry. If we call ourselves Christians, we are called to minister to people around us, whether we’re a banker, or a pastor, or a stay-at-home mom, the calling is the same. I don’t need to be traveling the world and playing concerts every day to be part of the same kind of ministry I was doing with CTI. I can be part of the worship team at our home-church, I can visit the prison right here in my own county, I can mentor younger women in this very community, and I can even share my testimony every once in a while. Probably more importantly though, I have learned that my relationship with Christ does not diminish because I’m married, it flourishes. I am being challenged in new ways, and my eyes are being opened to so much more of the character of God. In all honesty, I would not go back to my old life even if I could.
The thing that is most exciting in this entire story is the evidence that I will never reach the end of God. There will never be a moment when I will have experienced everything there is to be had in Christ, because He is a never-ending. I will spend my entire life on earth, and the rest of eternity, being baffled and standing in awe of Him. That’s amazing!
Affects on Counseling
Being married to Nolan will affect my counseling simply because he is supportive. His goal is to love me the way Christ loves His church. Sometimes that looks like listening to me vent, sometimes it means helping around the house so I can spend more time with clients, and it means challenging and praying for me. The client may never see those things, but they will directly affect my confidence as a counselor, and the attention I’m able to give to each client, not to mention the impact prayer from a supportive husband can have.
Overall, the thing I will take with me into counseling is the attitude that I will never stop learning. Just as I will never have God all figured out, so will I never arrive at perfection when it comes to counseling. I anticipate just as many humbling moments, moments of weakness, and moments of total surprise as I have experienced in my life thus far. I look forward to the challenge and joy that will bring.
I tried hard not to let people know how bad my health really was. I was afraid I would be forced to stop doing all the things I loved. There came a point though, that I had to be realistic about my situation and come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t live this way forever; very few could. It was no longer a matter of faith, I already knew the Lord could use me and sustain me through any health status. This was about being responsible; being a good steward of the life God had given me. So in 2011 I told the ministry I had worked for the past six years that this year of touring would be my final one; my “retirement tour” if you will.
In addition to coming to terms with the fact that my life was about to change drastically in just a few months, I also started to give into the possibility that I may be called to singleness…forever. Now, even after the whole Nick debacle, I was a serious romantic. But I was also a 28 year old realist who hadn’t dated anyone in nearly a decade. Besides that, I could not picture a scenario where I could marry someone and still maintain the kind of relationship I currently had with the Lord. I thought for sure my time would be divided, and somehow I would end up putting more energy into a marriage than I did into pursuing Christ. I simply wasn’t ok with that. I wanted a husband, but I wanted Christ more, so I decided to choose Him, and if He wanted to change things up and take my life in a completely different direction then He had full authority to do that. For now though, I was going to focus on figuring out what in the world I was going to do once my retirement tour was over.
It wasn’t long before the Lord began to show me that, once again, I had everything all wrong. About a month into my team’s year-long tour with CTI one of my male team members started to make it painfully clear that he had a romantic interest in me. Right away I tried to put an end to his emotional attachment and gently let him know that I had no interest in a romantic relationship, (with him or with anyone else) and that we both just needed to focus on the ministry before us. At first Nolan accepted the fact that I did not reciprocate his feelings and it seemed as though this subject would be put to bed for good. But by the end of the year Nolan was telling me his feelings had only gotten stronger over the months, and that he was prepared to simply be friends with me for as long as it would take for me to realize I wanted to be with him too.
Again I told him that wasn’t going to happen.
The only thing I could do was go to the Lord in prayer over this. Even though I had told Nolan no, I was still emotionally distraught over this. The struggle I was having was twofold. First of all, I had very recently reconciled myself to being single, so I could only assume that this was a testing from the enemy to make me prove that I would really choose Christ over the prospect of marriage. Secondly, I did not feel any romantic feelings for Nolan, and being the romantic that I was, this point was really important to me. These struggles were compounded by the fact that everyone around me seemed to be on Nolan’s side. My friends, mentors, family members, and team members were telling me that I needed to give Nolan a chance. Somehow they were seeing things that I could not yet see: that he genuinely cared for me, looked out for me, listened to me, spoke well of me, and held me in the highest esteem. Furthermore, there wasn’t a single person that knew Nolan who had anything negative to say about him. He was an upstanding man. One who desired to honor God, and it showed in his day-to-day living.
Still, I did not want to give into people. I wanted to give into God. I just couldn’t discern what He wanted in this situation. And then it happened: one day during my quiet time, I heard that old familiar voice, just as I had almost ten years earlier.
Do you trust me Gretchen?
I want to give you a gift here, but you’re not letting me. What I have for you is good.
What else could I do? Suddenly my heart was softened and I felt relief. So a month after Nolan had poured out his heart to me, I went to him and told him I wanted to see where the Lord would take us…if he would still have me.
Affects on Counseling
This is another one of those things that I truly do not know how it will affect my counseling. Maybe it is too close to the time of the event. I do know that this is something that has inspired other single Christian women. It gives them hope in the Lord’s creativity and in the reward there is in chasing after Him at every chance we get. So maybe it will be one of those things that I end up sharing with client here and there, and maybe it will bring hope to them too.