So it was now around 4:00PM and I firmly planted myself on a beach chair on the main deck for about an hour, refusing to move from my seat on the starboard side of the ship. With what seemingly looked like a blank stare toward the ocean to onlookers, I watched the cruise liner slice through the ocean. In actuality, there I was; with my New York October weather outfit on in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean [the Caribbean part, not the Jersey shore part]. Still wearing my dad hat, sweater, t-shirt, leggings and jacket; I sat there on the brink of my first heat stroke, reliving my day so far over and over again.
To tell this story the right way, we have to go backward about 18 hours in advance of this scene.
As I zipped my last two piece bikini into my luggage, I called my boyfriend to make sure we (more so he) was all set. Im the checklist kind of girlfriend; so that means I call you with YOUR checklist. As the phone rang in my ear, I quickly jotted down all the things he needed to remember, passport, wallet, swims trunks, sunglasses...the list kept growing.
"You have reached the voicemail box of 6-4-6..." My head quickly snapped at toward my iPhone 5s. "Thats strange..." I thought to myself. After the third encounter with the dreaded "Voicemail Lady", I already knew what was happening.
You see, we had been practically infighting for weeks. Invisible from an outward perspective, we had been in close combat Jiu-Jitsu with one another. You know the type of relationship-style martial arts that over time you become a black belt in? Snide remarks, passive aggressive comments, deprioritizing the other person. That kind of stuff.
He knew I hated that voicemail lady....like with a passion. "Its just a tactic to get me mad" I thought to myself, "come tomorrow, we'll work all of this out. See, I was banking on this trip to fix us. To fix all of the subliminal nonsense that had been going on for several months. This would be it -- the experience to get us back on track. Four days, three nights in the sun would counsel us right back to where we needed to be. I had it all figured out. 24 going on 42 with what was sure would be ALL the life experience I ever needed wrapped up in my self centered ego. So much so, I would ignore all of the signs God had been sending for the sake of my own plans.
"So? No answer huh", I said aloud, "No worries..Ill just text you the list." I proceeded....
[Insert Spongebob Time Lapse Voice...5 Minutes Later.... which really felt like]
IT WENT DOWN....
Very long blog story short, I got the "its not you its me lines". Ya'll know the drill... I cried, I screamed, we spoke, I screamed, we texted, I screamed some more.. so much so that I woke my parents up. Yep my parents, [grown enough to go on a couples cruise, not grown enough to pay my own rent back then though...ha, so glad I can laugh at this now..]
Its now 4:00AM, I have to be at the airport in 3 hours. Do I go? Do i stay? He's not going.. or is he -- he paid his money just like I did. Im going -- yep I'm going.
[FREEZE: Mind you, God had not been consulted at of yet. I'm just gonna leave that there.]
So I showed up at the airport, after a long awkward ride with my father (which I will circle back to a little later in the series) - this is pre UBER so my ride choices were limited. I secretly looked all over the airport, searching through crowds of faces, hoping to recognize the familiar one. -- But NOTHING. I was boarding the plane -- yep I'm boarding now, praying [for the first time mind you] that I was being Punk'd.
"The captain will now be closing the cabin door"... nope... this was real.
FAST FORWARD: I'm on the darn boat. Watching at the shore disappear for the last hour. On a cruiseliner full of people and possibilities to embark on, yet feeling like I've been washed ashore. After about 10,000 tears, I looked up and said. "Why God?"
So now that you've gotten the condensed backstory, here's three things I've learned about the beginning stage of singleness from this part of the journey.
1. ALTHOUGH YOU ARE STANDING ALONE - YOU ARE NOT YET SINGLE
Here's what I mean by that. Let's assume you and you significant other have spent alot of time trying to become one. So much so that you finish each other's sentences, communicate with each other by just glancing in the persons direction, and you feel joined at the hip - sort of like an appendage to your existing body. Imagine this appendage (or relationship) one day gets cut off or amputated. (Harsh I know but stay with me). There is going to be a period of time when that limb or attachment is still going to feel like its still there. Modern Medicine calls this phantom limb syndrome. This is syndrome is the sensation that an amputated or missing limb is still attached.
As I stood there thinking that I had begun my single walk because I was standing alone, little did I know I had quite a few steps to go before my phantom relationship syndrome (well talk about this more in future posts) had subsided. I was standing by myself by I was nowhere near single. Later, I'd come to realize that the feeling doesn’t just subside on its own, it had to be exposed, treated, healed, and renewed in order to go away. [Read Hebrews 12]
"and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed" Hebrews 12:13
2. GOD WILL DRAW YOU OUT TO SEA IN ORDER TO REINTRODUCE HIMSELF
I cried as the ship set sail, because I was more so afraid of what voyage was ahead. I could have stayed home. I could have forfeited the experience, but God saw it fit to bring me to the nations edge, have me board a ship that; although I knew the itinerary, I had no clue of what the destination was; and embark on the cruise of a lifetime. Even though the manifest of the ship was over 5,000 people, I knew that it was just He and I.
In the bible, God often uses isolation and incubation to bring fourth clarity.
Have you ever felt alone, unappreciated, unloved, lost, unwanted, cut off unaccepted, or just plain ole rejected? -- Like your in a desolate place although there is so much going on around you? Like your in an incubator of sorts?
Thats because you ARE in an incubator.
Although you may not see it clearly now, God uses this feeling spirit of ISOLATION and INCUBATION period for His glory!
When looking up the word "Isolate", it is defined as : "cause (a person or place) to be or remain alone or apart from others." Lets read that again, cause (a person or place) to be or remain alone or apart from others. God is preparing to set you apart from the world. Apart from those outside of the kingdom. This means that He has to pluck you up and uproot you from what you know to be true so that He can truly instruct you.
When looking up the word "incubate", it is defined as: "giving support and aid the development of something/someone". God uses incubation to prepare us for the trails that lie ahead.
When applying the literal definitions of those words to our spiritual life, we are reminded that God puts us through a period of isolation - meaning He will block out all of the things we let get in-front of our connection and relationship with Him AND He will begin to a season of incubation, keeping us protected and nurtured until we are fully developed and can return to society renewed.
God is INTENTIONALLY setting you apart form others for a purpose. Sometimes, we are not able to see what that purpose its clearly, but I reassure you that this time removed from the outside world will be worth it.
Some prime examples of isolation turned incubation in the Bible are:
The Israelites - God removed them from Egypt's bondage (isolation), but then kept them in the wilderness for over 4 generations (incubation) in order to prepare them for the land of plenty... [Read Numbers 14:33]
Abraham - Separated from his friends and family to follow Gods will to the promise land (isolation), but on they journey Abraham was tested through acts of sacrifice, obedience, and faith (incubation). [Read Genesis 12:1]
Jesus - Jesus readily embraced both the isolation and incubation period, He would willingly seclude Himself so thatHe could have private time with His Father (isolation) and pray for clarity (incubation). [Read Luke 5]
There are countless times in the Bible where God pulls His children to the side to speak directly to them and prepare them for whats to come. So I challenge you #Praymates to embrace this Isolation -- because it only leads to incubation!
3. GOD IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE AT THE HELM!
Last but not least, I learned that God is the captain all along. I had been attempting to steer my own ship and can only imagine what a hearty laugh God got out of me trying to navigate my own way. I envision Him looking down at me uttering "Breanna when will you learn to let me take control". "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future"[Read Jeremiah 29:11] "NOW GIRL LET GO AND LET ME FIX THIS!"
It was about time for the ships safety instruction seminar and a voice boomed over the ships speakers. " All voyagers report to the main showroom for instruction...this is a mandatory session that all guest must attend". I chucked to myself a bit, because after a few hours of sitting on my beach chair, I realized that God had put me in this exact position for a very exact purpose.
God was preparing to give me MANDATORY instruction. As I walked to my cabin to get my life vest, I thought about all of the times I've tried to duck and dodge God's ordinance. Bending the rules to make the scripture work for me, finding loop holes that put me in a place of justified Christianity - I was coming to terms with the fact that God's rule was steadfast and His law is mandatory if I wanted any chance of Him navigating me out of the mess I had gotten myself into....
I looked at the bright orange vest in the mirror and thought to myself "How stupid do I look?.. Im not going out there, ill just skip the safety lesson.. Ive been on cruises before.." About 15 seconds later a crew member came knocking at my door. I didn't respond. They knocked again. I was silent. I didn't want them to know I was in there. Next thing you know I hear "Crew member coming in for inspection!"
I dove into the bed, life vest and all and pretended I was asleep. The crew member "woke me up" and reminded me that it was time for instruction --
You see, when God calls you He won't let any thing, door, or fake sleep attempt stop Him. HE said to me that it was time for instruction, I tried to avoid it, so He SENT someone to come and get me!! In life we may not want to answer Gods call right away, but trust me he will get the message to you wether we like it or not!
So I "woke up" and stepped into the hallway, even though I felt silly in the life vest. Come to find out EVERYONE had on their life vest and was headed to the upper deck for instruction. Often times we think that we are the ONLY ones that may be ashamed or feel like a novice in the body of Christ -- the truth is that we ALL have something to learn and no matter how much some people think they know, God has a way of making everyone a novice.
(OK IM WRAPPING IT UP NOW!!! BARE WITH ME THIS IS THE ONLY LONG POST)
Finally, I sat in the 20 minute instruction session learning about the safety exit boats, protocols and procedures. I'd been dipping in and out of listening to what the crew members were saying. Part of my mind was still ashore.
But -- God has a way of ordaining my selective hearing -- I did catch one of the crew members saying "the life vest will keep you afloat, even if the waves are crashing and seem like they will overtake you -- so remember to breath as relaxed and normally as possible".
I thought about the vest, the vest I thought looked silly. I realized that the relationship between the vest and my action when wearing it, could either mean life or death.
Should something happen, would I be frantic or trust that the vest would do its job? Would I forget to cover myself with it when things got rocky? Would I run to go get it should the waves shift the cruise off course. This vest reminded me of God's promises written in the Bible. Should i cling to them, God will sure ensure my safety no matter the emergency circumstance.
So... 2.5 hours into my #SailingSingle Journey, I took a deep breath in and prepared for the next four days at sea.
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Sailing Single Series - How to Survive the Sea of Singleness