Do you ever find yourself wondering how do we live at peace with others in a world that is so hell-bent on destroying peace in the name of fighting for peace? I think I may have found the answer in Proverbs 16:7.
This verse is referring back to King Jehoshaphat. Read 2 Chronicles 17-20 to see how the Lord honored King Jehoshaphat’s work of bringing his people back to the Lord by causing his enemies to live at peace with him. King Jehoshaphat wouldn’t have been successful at that time if he hadn’t been obedient and faithful to seek the Lord in all that he did. The key is that our focus is on living a life that is pleasing to the Lord.
Living a life that is pleasing to the Lord means actually doing the things that are of the Lord. Meeting the needs of the orphans, the poor, the widows, the grieving, the sick, the refugee, the unloved, the forgotten, the misunderstood, and the lost. It would mean having the grace and empathy to walk beside someone knowing you cannot fully understand the hurt they have experienced because you have not walked in their shoes nor have they walked in yours. But, you can love them because Jesus loves them and He loved the broken vessel of your life that is now whole. When we work at living a life that is pleasing to the Lord and that is all that matters then the rest will fade away.
Yes, we will still be disturbed by the things we see and hear going on in our world but rather than boiling over with anger, we will overflow with compassion and see it as another call to action to take the Gospel to the hurting. Because underneath all the anger and hate spewing forth is hidden hurts longing to be healed. And we know Who can heal those deep hurts. The only One who can bind that wound is the One who was wounded for our transgressions, the One who was bruised for our iniquities, the One who was punished so that we could know peace, and that One is Jesus, and it is only by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
I know I have fallen short of the mark many times but I am thankful for a fresh start and the opportunity to set my eyes, once again, on the Lord. I am going to allow Him to set my focus and not worry about the next trending issue on Facebook. I already know several of my first priorities – Love God and Love Others.
So, please excuse me, but the Lord has some work to do in me …
James 4:13-17. It’s always good to start your Friday off by having your toes stepped on. Our life is just like a fog in the grand scheme of things. We have such a brief amount of time to make a difference for Christ before we fade away. “We know what we ought to do” but often allow other things to get in the way. I am most guilty of this but I am so thankful for His grace and the “gentle” reminder to be about the Father’s business and not about Melody’s business.
These verses remind me again of Psalm 37:23 and 24 … “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalms 37:23-24 (NLT). I am grateful for a Savior who cares about my steps, my stops and promises to be there when I stumble.
Thank you for loving me just the way I am but for not letting me remain stagnant in my walk with You. Help me to appreciate the steps, the stops and the stumbles. Thank you for teaching me to fully rely on you and to not trust in my own plans. Thank you for reminding me that I am to be about your business. Please forgive me for where I have failed you. Thank you for your grace and mercy. I love you, Lord.
A few Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to share my testimony with the High School girls in my church. What’s so spectacular about my testimony? Well, I was a sinner and Christ saved me. It doesn’t get any better than that! Seriously, that’s the best testimony and we all can share that if we have found freedom in Christ. But part of what makes our testimony unique is the way Christ continues to be at work in our lives after we are saved. Yes, our salvation is settled but in our daily attempt to live for Him we come up against so many obstacles of our own making and of the Enemy’s design, that often knock us back a step or two. Each day we have a choice to either remain beaten down or to repent of our sins and start fresh. I want to share with you one area that Satan gained a foothold in my life for over 24 years and this was the part of my testimony that I shared with the girls a few weeks ago.
I decided to tell part of my story through pictures. I started with this one as I felt it was an accurate depiction of how serious I have been about singing over the years. That or it shows that I have always loved eating. I prefer to go with the former rather than the latter. 🙂 Music and food really do go well together and I am so grateful to be a Southern Baptist … hello, potlucks and singings!
Next, I showed them this photo just to confirm that I have always been a fashionista for years by rockin’ a pair of heels with jeans and a tee shirt at the age of 5.
Then, I showed them this picture. It may surprise many of you to discover that I was a cheerleader but I was. And I was even captain of the squad! (Mainly, because my family would be at every game since my brother played for the team.) I had fun cheering but I couldn’t do cartwheels, handstands or toe touches. I was a base for all of our stunts. I was in the fourth grade when I cheered and I remember realizing that my body was different from the other girls. I wasn’t as petite as them. I filled out my uniform differently. I came to the conclusion that I was fat. I look at myself now and wonder how I ever thought that then but I did. Something changed inside of me and I started measuring myself to other people’s standards. My parents had never placed importance on physical appearance beyond looking nice for church and being presentable for school. There were no obsessive conversations about being thin, working out or going on a diet around our house while I was growing up. There also wasn’t a huge celebration over our looks. It just wasn’t important. But somewhere, at some point, a message contrary to what I was being taught settled into my heart. I was fat and I wasn’t pretty.
I was naive enough to think that dating would fix a lot of my insecurities. Little did I know, dating only exposes them. I went all through my Middle School and High School years feeling awkward, ugly and overweight (which I was). No matter what I did, I couldn’t lose any substantial amount of weight. A life long battle with many ups and downs.
I never dated in HS (I did in my 20s) and I shared with the girls that Sunday how I understand when you go through a break up what that rejection feels like … however, there is a special kind of rejection that comes from never being chosen. You wonder if you are even seen. There were some nods in the room on that one. So what do you do? Well, I went to junior prom by myself and then my brother asked a college friend to take me to my senior prom. My brother happened to be going with a friend of mine at the time so that’s why he’s in this picture. He was not my date. I repeat, my brother was not my date! 🙂 I was so out of touch on the typical prom things a girl was supposed to do. I did my own hair and makeup. I had a shawl made for me by a sweet woman in my church because I was not about to show off my chunky arms and I borrowed the dress from a friend! But, I had a blast and even though I felt huge that night, I wouldn’t mind being that size again as well as would love to introduce myself to some bronzer. Hahaha.
I went on a few dates in college but as I am sure you have figured out … boys aren’t the answer. Men aren’t the answer. Yo-yo dieting wasn’t the answer. Loving myself wasn’t the answer. The answer has been and always will be found in Christ.
I have read all the blogs and books on being content in your singleness, on how to wait well for the perfect one and how to let go of waiting for the perfect one because God may not bring you the perfect one (well, duh). Can I just be honest and I say that I am tired of the Church putting a title on everything in this area … I’m not sure who I’m waiting on any more but it’s apparently someone like the kinsman-redeemer Boaz, with the timing of Adam (God didn’t wake him till Eve was ready …), the nonadulterous heart of David, the passion of Solomon, the selfless love of Jesus, the fire of Peter, the wisdom of Paul and the sensitivity of John. Any Mr. Perfects out there? 🙂 And I am supposed to be the quintessential Proverbs 31 woman. Hmm … well, I have come to a place where I am most content when I am focused on Jesus and serving Him. If that sounds good to anyone else then let’s talk. All the rest is just fluff as far as I am concerned and I have known that. I really have but it has finally settled into every fiber of my being. How?
It happened when I knelt at the altar well over a month ago and surrendered my need to compare myself to others. It was then that when I finally found freedom. And it was three weeks ago, in my car, that I realized I am a complete woman in Christ because that is who He made me be. It’s not in having sex, a baby or being married that makes me a woman. It’s not in a hormonal right of passage at some pre-teen age. I am a woman because that is who God created me to be and I am complete because of the finished work He did on the cross. Everything else is just icing on the cake. Once, I recognized who I was in Him everything else in my life completely shifted. I told the girls if I could do one thing for them it would be to help them understand this now instead of at 33. As well as to know that they are worth far more than what this world offers them. No amount of selfies will ever fill the void that Christ can. Marriage to the perfect mate will not fill that void. Nothing can show you your worth in Christ like the cross and the empty the tomb. And Satan has tried for 24 years to distract me from seeing myself as who I am in Christ.
It’s not like I am walking around looking at myself in the mirror and singing, “you’re so pretty, oh so pretty …” Hardly. Ha. But there is a deep peace in knowing Who’s I am and slowly the lies that I have believed about myself over the years are starting to fade away. I now work to hold every negative thought captive and call on the name of the Lord when I am tempted to belittle myself. A funny side effect to this is that as I am working on my emotional and mental health my physical health is falling into place as well. Go figure. 🙂 When you are no longer worried about what other’s think about you but instead focus on how God sees you and how you feel health wise things just sort of click. Willpower isn’t an issue anymore because it isn’t about a size, a weight or a standard. It’s all starting to fade because it just doesn’t matter anymore. I belong to Christ and I am kept by Him. I am complete in Him. Everything else is just an added blessing.
And oh, if I could help another girl come to understand that before she’s 33 then I would do everything within my power to do so but, honestly, it’s something that she is going to have to allow Christ to show her. She is going to have to open up her heart, be vulnerable with the Lord and “allow” Him to see all the wounded places of her soul. When she does, He will heal and fill every cavern with His grace. And she will know a freedom like never before!
In March of 2007, I came home to Knoxville from a week in Oklahoma City, where I had been visiting my aunt and uncle. My parents picked me up from the airport and I had an hour to repack my bag before we headed to Morristown, TN for the night as my dad would be preaching at a church there in revival Sunday – Wednesday of that week. My mom, sister and I were going up for the night to be with him for the Sunday morning service. My sister and I sang for the service. Afterward, we had a wonderful lunch with the young pastor, wife and his then 4 (soon to be 5, but now 6) children!
Anyway, that Saturday night at the hotel I shared with my parents’ something that I had written while out of town. The Lord had started laying on my heart a ministry for pastor’s families, more specifically their children. Growing up in the ministry, I had always heard of retreats for a pastor and his wife to attend in order to be refreshed in their work for the Lord but it always seemed to me the children were forgotten. While I am no longer serving in the same church that my father pastors, I have come to realize that you never cease to be the “pastor’s kid” and you are always tied to the ministry. I am thankful for the ministry and for the call the Lord has placed on my father’s life. I honestly could not have imagined growing up in any other way. I am thankful for the call the Lord has placed on my life and whether my desire to minister to pastors’ families will ever come to fruition there is one thing I can do now as a church member to minister to their families … support them.
Last Sunday night, my church had an ordination service for two of our ministers. It was a truly precious time in the Lord. The Pastor Emeritus gave the charge to the church and he did not hold back. He said things that I know most pastors wish they could say but can’t for fear of being fired. He told us that it is not our job to correct our ministers … that is the job of the Holy Spirit … but it is our job to support, encourage and pray for our ministers. I probably looked like a bobble head the whole time he was speaking. I had flashbacks of years past to those “well meaning” people who came under the impression that the Holy Spirit needed their help in pointing out a flaw or general disagreement they had with my dad or another staff member. Thanks to them I learned to practice verses like “Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:21-22. While these folks may not have sinned against me personally, attacking my daddy is about as personal as it gets and I have had to learn to extend grace upon grace.
So flashback to ten years ago and that hotel room … what did I share with my parents? Well, I had come to the conclusion that there are 3 basic categories church members fall into and the percentages will vary on the size of the church but the idea is there. And the question you have to ask yourself is where to do you fall?
The Initiator …
The Initiator is not an honorable title but like it sounds they typically are “self-starters” … in life and in the church. They are folks who do a lot for the church but are the first to pick it apart. They are the ones who go around planting seeds of doubts into other church members and questioning the leadership of the church over petty issues. Now, please know I am all for checks and balances in the church and you should hold your leadership accountable, however, when it is always just a few voices raising the questions then that should raise a red flag to the other members. Sometimes, the initiators are quiet and let the others do the talking after they have spread the poison. They make phone calls, visits, write letters to anyone who will give them an ear. They seek the vulnerable in the church for their following. They know how to play on people’s emotions.
They are small group … typically about 10% of the church is made up of them but they are deadly to the work of Christ because their focus is on typically on their needs and desires not the Church as a whole.
The Enabler …
This is where the bulk of the membership falls for several reasons …
They aren’t involved in the church so they don’t know what’s going on.
They hear the scuttlebutt but don’t do anything about it.
They hear the scuttlebutt and spread it.
Those who fall under the third reason are easily whipped into a frenzy by the initiators and their feelings are typically the first thing that has been neglected by the staff – they weren’t visited enough, called enough, validated enough or the wrong staff member came to visit when so-and-so had a visit from the senior pastor before their surgery, etc … However, when they have any opportunity to have a heart to heart with the pastor most of these non-issues are easily resolved, forgiveness is received on both sides and life goes on. But those who fall under reason one and two are the most dangerous to the church because they could be doing something to help stop the issues but instead stay quiet because they do not want to get involved in “church politics” as if forgetting that the church is full of imperfect people and there will always be issues to work through. Some may say something to the staff but they will not reveal the source and their favorite line is, “now don’t get mad but I thought you should know …”
Because of this, the Enablers average about 80% of the church.
The Extinguisher …
This is a rare group … a group of committed Christ-followers focused on Kingdom work and are willing to charge Hell with a water pistol … even if that means crossing the aisle on a Sunday morning and lovingly confronting “the initiator”. These aren’t people set out to make scenes but understand the wisdom of the Matthew 18 principle and seek to practice it. So, when they hear the scuttlebutt they go to the source and say something like this, “I know you aren’t looking to talking bad about Bro. Doe, so about we go together and address this concern with him?” I may be naïve but I truly believe that if more church members sought to be an extinguisher and lovingly told “initiators” and “enablers” that they are not going to listen to their gossip or complaints it would cut out the majority of the junky stuff our church staff has to deal with on a weekly basis. Then church staff could focus on what they are called to do … proclaiming the Gospel and ministering to those in their congregation.
Extinguishers make up the final 10% of the congregation. You may recognize some of them whereas others are quiet and do their work behind the scenes not seeking the glory for themselves because of their focus on the Lord.
I have been a member of four churches in the last ten years (PK side effect … JK) since I wrote that and even though, I have only been a member of my current church for 6 days, I have found these categories to still apply. I have sought to be an extinguisher at the churches I have been a member at but I’ll be honest, I am guilty of being an enabler and I have probably been an initiator at least once or twice in my adult life. However, I have repented and covenant to be an extinguisher at whatever church I am serving in as well as not speak ill of any other man of God at any other church. There’s too much work to be done for the cause of Christ without me running my mouth with my opinions about other pastors. Besides, as I was reminded this past Sunday night, it’s not my job to correct but to support, encourage and pray for these men of God.
So which one are you? Are you willing to change the percentages and become an extinguisher?
I love you all.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy,
Thank you for being the man who not only taught me about the Lord but also led me to Lord and continued to lead me to the Lord for many years to come. Thank you for showing me that integrity isn’t just a word but it is an action to be lived out … every single day especially when no one is watching. Thank you for the setting the bar high but for being human enough that it’s not unattainable should the Lord have a man waiting in the wings. And thank you for teaching me to work on being the “right one” rather than finding “the one”. I love you!
A funny thing happens every May, I find myself feeling a bit nostalgic and remembering my senior year of High School. Not in an Uncle Rico/Napoleon Dynamite way but more so as a Bethel moment in my life. In Genesis 35 we see where God told Jacob to go “to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” (Genesis 35:1-3)
My senior year is reminder to me of the joy that came as a result from the Summer before when I cried out to the Lord, on a beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama, that I was tired of being comfortable in the fact that I was saved (I had been since I was 9 years old) but I wanted to truly live for Christ. I didn’t want to just do the right thing because it was the right thing to do or because it was expected of me, I wanted it to be a natural response to my walk with Christ. From that night on, everything has been different. On the drive back to Memphis, I was reading the Psalms and came across these verses in chapter 30, “10 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, 11 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!’ I truly believe that Summer changed the whole trajectory of my life and it was evident all throughout my senior year in High School.
I was one of those who hated school. I might have looked forward to it for a bit but after a few weeks, I was over it. I didn’t fit in and I went to a private Christian school. While I longed to be accepted, I did the exact opposite – I called people out for things that they shouldn’t be doing and had no problem turning a guy in for making suggestive gestures with his hands towards me during Bible class. That was 7th grade and I remember being confronted in pick up line by an older friend about how I was wrong for getting him in trouble … after all, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I looked at her, told her it was inappropriate and I wasn’t going to let a guy do that to me.
In 8th grade, I had instigated a situation with a guy that ended with him calling me a “Fat B****”. A lifelong guy friend immediately came to my defense. I can still remember the horror I felt as I turned to see two guys that I had sort of had a crush on looking at me at what I assumed was through the lens of his words. I believe I apologized to that guy for instigating that situation … I should have if I didn’t. I have no idea if he apologized to me for what he said, I think my friend made him but it didn’t matter. Those were his true thoughts about me and it has stayed with me for the rest of my life. Not so much the witch part because I have those moments but the “fat” part. I just knew if this guy was gutsy enough to call me that to my face then he only said what everyone was thinking about me.
I was “accused” of being a “Bible thumper” at some point in High School and was encouraged to do something about that. I just smiled and said something like, “People are going to think that no matter what I do but I’m not going to change who I am.” I think I got that title because I asked someone to stop cussing around me. LOL. In many ways, I am in awe of my courage back then because I thought I was weak. I know I came off as a holier-than-thou know-it-all at times and truly regret that as I was simply in a place of figuring out how to walk with and live for Christ.
My senior year, I learned to love everyone. I became “friends” with just about everyone in our class. Meaning I made a point to talk to everyone at some point during the year. I didn’t hang out with them outside of school but I didn’t shun talking to them and I think they discovered I wasn’t that bad either … I just had my convictions and stuck to them. I didn’t apologize for my convictions but I also didn’t impose them on anyone else. I just didn’t care about how people thought about me anymore. It was an incredibly freeing time in my life. The Lord brought some precious people into my life that year several of whom I am still in communication with today. He opened up some unique doors for me that I would have never dreamed possible. Things that I still marvel at to this day.
However, what many do not know was that Satan had been an almost constant companion up until the Summer of 2001. He spoke the harshest of words to me and he still does. He loves to throw in my face the things I have missed out on because of my convictions.
But let me be perfectly clear, I have zero regrets over saying “no” or avoiding the temptation altogether to compromise on my convictions in the last 16 years.
It’s the moments that I gave in that I regret. It’s by God’s grace alone that I am still completely saving myself for marriage and if I never marry it will be worth it all. Satan and the world want you to think that it isn’t worth it all but it is. Every day I am becoming more and more convinced that the things of this world simply cannot satisfy me. When I have tried to fill myself on those things they have left me empty, aching and more alone than I was before. It’s a temporal satisfaction if there is any satisfaction at all so you have to fill yourself with more when in reality you are depleting yourself. Paul said it best in Philippians 3:8, “everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…”
So, yes, I go back in my memories to my senior year and remember the girl that probably would have charged Hell with a water pistol. I remember those moments when the Word of God became the living Word to me. I remember that moment on the sandy beach when Satan lost that foothold in my life that caused me to question my salvation because from that moment on I was walking with the Lord. I remember the girl who stopped letting the words of the world define her but instead listened to the words of her Savior. I go back to give thanks, to remind Satan of where I’ve been and to hold my feet to the fire when the words of the world drown out the words of my Savior.
To my young friends who are graduating this May,
It’s true … you get to completely rewrite your story from this point on. How people in school knew you for the last 12 years does not have to define how people will know you from this point forward. But none of that matters apart from a relationship with Christ. I came into my “own” after High School. I found my own sense of fashion, my own sense of humor and for the most part have accepted myself. Satan has come against me hard over the years but the Lord has remained faithful in my life and has given me the victory in those battles. One battle I am just now emerging from after seven years and that’s a story for another day. But I can tell you that nothing you face will ever be greater than the love and power of Jesus. Do not miss out walking with Him on a daily basis as it to will change the trajectory of your life.
I have so much to say but I simply feel right now is not the time to say it. I want to be obedient to the Lord’s direction in my life. Until He leads me or releases me to write more I am going to link other blog posts that are catching my eye or convicting me. I still want to be a source of encouragement for you all but I also feel like I am being called to warn/point out problems, which is something I struggle to do as I hate confrontation. So please know that I am really confronting these things in me and just taking you along for the ride.
Today, I was called back to John 10 through a friend. The verses describing Jesus as the Good Shepherd have really been resonating in my life over the last 5 months. I am not ignoring that. I believe it is for many reasons with one being that there are wolves all around us inside the Church. Friends, we have got to be on guard. I am linking this blog from The Gospel Coalition entitled Beware of Broken Wolves as it gives us an example of a “new” wolf in our midsts … a very authentic kind. And for those who are like me, drawn to help the broken, it is important that we spot these wolves and recognize them for what they are. Being bold for Christ isn’t just about being a witness for Him but about standing up for the things of Christ and calling out the things that are the opposite of Him.
If you aren’t sure what those things are may I humbly suggest you find a copy of God’s Word that you can understand and then start reading it? It’s hard to prepare yourself for battle when you don’t know what kind of weapons to use.
I’m not really sure why I am writing you an open letter since everything that I write, I feel like, is basically a conversation with you … but I was reminded this week to be careful about sitting on my high horse as it can be a long fall from that high of a perch.
I sincerely hope that I do not come across to you as “sitting on my high horse” when I share on here. I’m going to be perfectly honest with you … I fell off my proverbial high horse well over a dozen years ago. I fell into a big ole pile of manure and the stench stayed with me for so long that I never climbed back up. (I may write more on that at a later date.)
I share what the Lord lays on my heart to share and I keep the rest of it to myself, which is why I do not post on a daily or even a weekly basis. My convictions are just that, my convictions. I’m not going to apologize for the convictions that He has given me … convictions that are based on the Word of God. However, I share them so you’ll know where I am coming from in a given situation, not in an attempt to force them down your throats because I believe “I am right and you are wrong.” And while I answer to only One person for how I live my life, I have no desire to offend the masses in my process of living.
I do not claim or even secretly believe to know it all when it comes to living for the Lord. I am simply sharing with you how He’s leading me in the hopes that it will encourage you and/or maybe you have some words of encouragement for me. To me, that is part of being in the body of Christ.
So friends, please, know that when I write I am sharing from my heart. I desire to be real with you about the struggles and the joy I find on this journey of life; and most importantly, about the faithfulness of God in the midst of it all.
Over the last week, I have written and deleted several posts. I had so much on my heart yet I couldn’t find the right words with which to say them. I have been and am frustrated over the political climate in our country.
I am over the moon in love with my niece, nephew, and niece to come. I had the best time
with my family this past weekend as we all gathered to celebrate my nephew’s 6th birthday. Time is literally flying by. I have so much on my heart and mind where they are concerned. Dreams I have for them and the kind of world that I want them to grow up in.
I have friends and loved ones who are wrestling with some really hard things right now. Instead of giving up, they are pressing even harder into Jesus and facing the battle head on.
I try to so hard to focus on what others are going through when I am tempted to turn my gaze on to my “problems”. When the enemy reminds me again and again that someone said something that hurt my feelings or “you always have to do things on your own”. Satan is such a bully and loves to hit you when you are vulnerable … especially when you are tired … as I am today.
I can feel so much welling up in me and I am tempted to give in to that feeling. Whatever that feeling is. To become frustrated, angry, hurt and give in to despair but then I read this verse …
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.“ Ephesian 4:2
I was reminded this morning to extend grace upon grace to those who need it and let’s be honest, who doesn’t need it?
When I am tired and people are being extra people-ish … Practice Ephesians 4:2.
When someone has spoken an unkind word … Practice Ephesians 4:2.
When others aren’t pulling their load … Practice Ephesians 4:2.
When someone is treated harshly … Practice Ephesians 4:2.
When someone posts an erroneous FB post … Practice Ephesians 4:2.
When I can’t find any dark chocolate and the vending machine is out of Diet Dr. Pepper … Practice Ephesians 4:2. For the safety of all those involved!
This verse was just a much need reminder that I do not know what anyone else is going through except for me. It is not going to hurt anyone for me to extend grace upon grace because grace upon graces has been extended to me abundantly by the Father and I am the least deserving. While it may be easier to lash out at others it is far more effective to “make allowances for each other’s faults.” And when Satan wants to rear his ugly head with various reminders of ways that I have been affronted by others, I will work to hold those thoughts captive and press into Jesus even more. It takes far more energy thinking about the ways that I am offended and hurt than it does to turn those feelings and people over to the Lord!
So friends, what about you? Do you need a reminder to Practice Ephesians 4:2 today?
Yesterday, my path crossed on Facebook with another 32-year-old woman who was struggling with the fact that she was single. I sincerely told her that it is better to be holy, whole and alone than dating the wrong person. But like most she struggles seeing friends getting married, coming home to an empty house and not seeing any prospect of change in her near future. I shared with her that some of the ways I combat those feelings is to focus more on getting to know who Christ is & acknowledging that my being single is part of His will for my life at this time. I also find other ways to serve so I am less apt to notice my loneliness. It doesn’t work 100% of the time but it certainly does help me. She asked me what to do about coming home to a lonely house. I told her that now that I have my puppy my house certainly isn’t lonely but I still light a favorite candle and turn some worship music on as soon as I walk in the door. Those two little steps immediately warm up my home so that even I feel invited in. I also make it a point before heading home to either have it on my radar what movie I want to watch or book I want to start reading that night if I don’t have something else pressing that I need to do at home.
I’m not sure how well she received my advice because it doesn’t give her a quick answer of “do this and you’ll be dating someone within a week”. I don’t have those kinds of answers and to be honest, I am glad that I am not privy to that kind of knowledge. The start of my year has been interesting so much so that I have shared with several friends that I would rather be left alone than deal with the guys that I have dealt with!And I meant it. I know that I have turned a corner in my life when I can make a statement like that and feel it with every fiber of my being. I have been spoken to about things and in a manner that no man professing Christ should ever speak to a woman about.
I will be 33 next month and thanks to a friend’s husband, I am now calling it my “Jesus Year”! Ha. But in all seriousness, for me, there is something sacred about this age. I am tired of it all and in the same vein, I am fired up. I want this year to count. I don’t want to waste it wondering what is or isn’t being said by someone that I am interested in. So I humbly request that single men and women, who truly profess Christ and seek to follow after Him, stop these 3 dating practices immediately.
(Disclaimer: I have been guilty of all three of these. So rest assured, this is something I have sought to eliminate from my life and some of these examples are from personal experience while others are borrowed from friends but to protect the individuals I am sharing them in the first person.)
If you aren’t feeling it … then just be honest about it. Somewhere along the line, we have come to the conclusion that we have to be deceitful in our reasons for breaking up with someone or opting out of continuing to get to know someone.
Ex. I have been told in the past that distance is an issue … it was a 45-minute drive. When in reality they just weren’t attracted to me. My brother and sister-in-law dated for 3 years living 6 hours away from each other. So I’m not going to buy the 45-minute drive excuse.
Would it have been painful to hear that a guy wasn’t attracted me? Yes. But it would hurt much less than the realization of being lied to by someone to whom you had hoped would be different because he “lives for the Lord”. Y’all, we are better than this. You don’t have to be ugly about it but tell the truth.
Guys, from a woman who is seeking to be honest in this area as well … hear me … I would much rather know that you don’t see this going anywhere beyond friendship than you leading me on with talk of future events and projects that you know will never happen. If you sought to get to know a woman because you were attracted to her but realized you would be better off as friends don’t assume she is on the same page … ever. I have so much more respect for a man when he is honest from the beginning than someone who backtracks to cover his behind because he is feeling guilty over leading a woman on.
Ladies, if you know that a guy will never move out of the friend zone then stop taking advantage of a “free meal”. He works hard for his money and deserves to spend his money on someone who is truly interested in him. You may be a great friend but don’t be so prideful as to think you are doing him any favors by spending time with him. Be kind but be honest. Let him make the decision if he wants to continue to take you to dinner or if the next time you meet you’ll be going dutch. It’s fair.
Most of us aren’t dating for the sheer fun of it because it’s not all that fun. We are dating for the potential of marriage. So let’s stop wasting each other’s time when we know it’s not going anywhere.
Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. The only ghost that needs to be involved in a Christians dating life is the Holy Ghost. Mmmkay? For those of you who aren’t sure of this term is please see definition #2 …In many ways, this all goes back to being honest with each other but it could also apply to that illustrious idea of the “silent treatment”. And just to be clear, both women and men have been known to “ghost” someone. If you are needing space, ask for it. If you aren’t interested, tell them. Don’t disappear. It’s dishonest and petty. It is certainly not the mark of someone who is seeking to live their life with integrity. Now, if you have told them that you are not interested in them and do not wish to pursue things any further yet they continue to contact you then block them. But most people will respect this decision and move on as well. Don’t leave a person wondering as to where they stand with you or what happened in general. Do you remember “the golden rule”? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Luke 6:31
I have been on the receiving of both ghosting and the silent treatment. It truly is the most mature way of a handling a woman. We feel valued as a human being and cherished by the person we are talking to, I mean were talking to or may still be talking to. I have spoken with guy friends who have been on the receiving end of this as well and they admitted that nothing made a woman more attractive to them when they employed these juvenile tactics into their relationship. I mean they were truly clamoring for more time with that woman. Not. Just stop it.
Ghosting is a cowards way out of a relationship. The silent treatment is a petty way to avoid conflict or to punish your partner (like that is your place, anyway). If there is an issue in your relationship be a grown up a deal with it. Chances are you aren’t dating a mind reader.
The God Card
Please stop blaming God as an excuse for breaking up with someone! There is only one time in which He makes it clear we are not to date someone and that is if they are an unbeliever …
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14
Other than that … we pretty much have free reign on who we can date in the world of Christianity. So if all of the sudden you have to break up with someone because “God told me to.” Then chances are you didn’t pray about dating them in the first place because if He has a say in it now He probably would have had a say in it from the beginning.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer that God gives us a head’s up when someone isn’t right for us but we tend to ignore those signs. So instead of admitting that you were being disobedient by entering into the relationship to begin with you then place the blame on God for breaking up.
Just be honest. It’s not working out. You aren’t interested in them. It has nothing to do with your need to focus on your relationship with Christ or anything else like that. Just tell the truth. You will be better off in the long run for it than doing otherwise.
Friends, let’s be known for telling the truth in love. Let’s be known for living our lives with integrity in such a way that our dating relationships and/or potential interactions with one another mirror Christ more so than the world. Let’s show the next generation how to have healthy relationships without sub-tweeting our relationship woes on social media. Let’s give them something to strive for rather than run from. We can do better. We must do better. Why? Because we are the image bearers of Christ and He deserves no less than our very best. Is it frustrating? Absolutely. But if we resolve to treat each other in the manner in which we desire to be treated then I guarantee you it won’t be so hard. And for those of you who are still scared to be truly honest with those you are dating … the truth is we can handle it and we will respect you for it. Is it hard? Yes. But it is worth it. Let’s be about the hard and holy things of God. Not people who run from challenges and destroy people in our path.
Well, it’s 2017! Can you believe it?! 2016 seemed to fly by. It’s amazing how when you start measuring your years by the little ones in your life how quickly time passes! The general consensus on Facebook seems to be that 2016 was a very hard year for many people. It was a pretty average year for me and I believe it’s because I didn’t eat any black-eyed peas or any other superstitious New Year’s food at the start of 2016. So I continued with that solid decision and am excited to see what 2017 holds for me because I know Who holds 2017 in His hands (and no consumption of gross food is going to change the outcome of His will for me).
For those who know me, then you are aware of the fact that I pick a verse each year to base my life around. In the last few years, I have picked a word and a song to go along with that verse as well. The Lord led me to my verse for 2017 on November 28, 2016, at a Premier Jewelry party of all places! I was at my best friend’s house and looking through the catalog. My attention was captured by the mustard seed necklace. I was instantly transported back to when I was 8 years old and my daddy gave me my first “real” piece of jewelry. It was a gold necklace with a mustard seed encased in the center charm. He had purchased it at the Baptist Bookstore (now Lifeway) and told me that as long as I had faith as small as that mustard seed then there wasn’t anything the Lord couldn’t do through and for me. Needless to say, I bought the necklace and I knew right then that I wanted that verse to be my verse for 2017. It wasn’t until later that I realized Matthew 17:20 was my verse for 2017!
As I consider that verse, I have a holy tremble in my heart at what #mustardseedfaith could possibly look like this year but I know the Lord is calling me to increase my faith in Him. Above all, I want to be obedient in what exercising that faith will mean and look like. So I worked my New Year’s Resolutions or SOULutions. Because as Ann Voskamp writes, “Sometimes you don’t need New Year’s resolutions — like you need SOULutions — for a new you. I need to purpose in my heart & let prayer and perseverance meet, let there be a plan to purposely aim for, because if there’s nothing to aim for, you’ll get it every time.” I wrote out some SOULutions last year and had forgotten about them. But I was surprised when I met with a friend for coffee last week and he asked me what they were by how many I had actually met. So I decided right then and there to continue with this practice again for 2017.
This year I purpose to …
Embracesilence … by having at least 1 screen free night a week. (That night TBD. I’m thinking Wednesday. I’ll let you know.)
Engageothers … look at them, talk to them, make sure they know they matter to me.
Be consistent … be a woman of my word. Yes means yes. No means no.
Believe big … #mustardseedfaith. Expect God to do the unexpected.
Break free … continue to work on breaking free of any strongholds in my life.
Daily die to self.
Do less … set boundaries for myself.
Let Go of negativity … stop carrying the stress of others around.
Learn how He loves.
Grow gently … this isn’t a race but a process.
And I add a 13th one …
Go obediently … wherever He leads.
Finally, here’s my theme song for 2017. It’s by Christy Nockels and I know I have heard the song multiple times over the last few years but I never “heard” it until two weeks ago. It’s called “Into the Glorious.”
I was made for more
than this world could offer me
My heart to hold true mystery
My voice was made to fall
on holy ears.
My life to collide with majesty.
Out from the ordinary.
This is a heart-cry, from my life.
To say I love You, God, I love You.
So take me deeper, oh.
I can hear You calling.
Inviting me in.
Into the glorious.
I was made me for rest,
in a world thats striving.
To lie down in the fields of green.
To set my feet upon this holy ground.
To build my life on the things unseen.
Out from the ordinary.
This is a heart-cry, from my life.
To say I love You, God, I love You.
So take me deeper, oh.
I can hear You calling.
Inviting me in.
Into the glorious
Into the glorious
Happy New Year!
May the Lord be more real and precious to you than He was last year. May you serve Him with more fervor than ever before.