Single Life

My Own Fight for Freedom

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.

FullSizeRender (20)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. FullSizeRender (19)

Then, I showed them this picture. It may surprise many of you to discover that I was a FullSizeRender (18)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.

IMG_7247I 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 tome 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.

IMG_7346It’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!

I love you all.

 

 

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Random Thoughts

Rambling Thoughts

I have mentally written two or three posts in the last few weeks over various subjects but haven’t bothered to type anything up. My mind has been all over the place lately. I may share the reason for this later on or I may not and while I may have a page dedicated to my “random thoughts” I decided to write one post including several of those thoughts that have been rolling around in my head. Buckle up, as it may be a bumpy ride!

Missionary Dating:

I have been asked several times lately if I have joined any other dating sites to which I respond with a firm, resounding, “NO!” I have absolutely no desire to enter that world again. I am simply not a glutton for that kind of punishment. Anyway, I mentioned the phrase “missionary dating” in a conversation with a few of my coworkers several weeks ago to which one shared she had never heard that terminology before. I thought I would share a refresher course in this concept as there seems to be a relapse in this disastrous practice and no one is really acknowledging it. Missionary Dating is where a believer dates a non-believer with the idea that they will lead them to the Lord. Now, I am not saying that this has never been successful because it has been but the majority of the time the believer will be pulled away from the Lord. The Bible is very clear that believers are not to be yoked (definition: couple or attach with or to a yoke) with a non-believer.

” Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14

You can argue the semantics all you want, but, my friends, if you are a Christ-follower then for the sake of your relationship with Him you simply cannot enter into a relationship with one who does not also follow Christ. I have known of couples who both professed to know Christ, dated, married and then later one came under the conviction that they never truly repented of their sins to then become a sold out believer in Jesus Christ. Only the Lord knows the true intentions of our hearts but to link yourself up with someone who does not profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior is just inviting trouble and you are in direct disobedience to His word. In other words … don’t. You can be friends with this person but there is simply no need to be in a romantic relationship with them. Set those boundaries and be firm with those boundaries.

The Church:

I have been struggling so much with the Church at large and how we’ve seemed to have stepped away from the aspect that the Church was originally meant to equip the believers in order to reach the lost vs. doing all we can to make the Church appealing to the lost and overlooking the needs of the believers. Please understand I am a pastor’s kid, so I don’t believe in joining a church strictly to be served … you need to find ways to pour into your church but you also need to be poured into. However, if our sole focus is stripping away everything that separates the Church from the world so that the world will come in our doors then we have a BIG problem.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

I’ll be honest in that I wondered if the Church could really be for both the non-believer and the believer anymore. I hated that I was even questioning this. And this isn’t directed at any church  … I have the privilege of attending traditional, blended and contemporary worship services with some of the godliest people I know who are seeking to honor Christ as a church in the best way they know how. But I’ll admit .. I have missed worshipping in a brightly lit sanctuary where you could see and hear your fellow worshippers. I miss the days when there wasn’t a spotlight on the soloist (and I’m a soloist!) and the lights weren’t dimmed for the special as there was no need to “create an atmosphere of worship” or take the focus off the Lord by placing it on the musicians.

I was reminded on Monday night of what the Church can be for both, the sick and the healthy … a place of refuge, repentance, and rejoicing. I heard a powerful message on the cross and was reminded of the suffering that Jesus bore in my place. At the same time, my friend sitting next to me was hearing the majority of it for the first time. We both left in awe of the grace of God and humbled that we had time in His presence.

Revival:

Revival isn’t something you are called or invited to … rather, it’s a response that occurs when true repentance is experienced.  Think Jonah and Ninevah.

Jonah Goes to Nineveh

3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying,“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city,[a] three days’ journey in breadth.[b] Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

The People of Nineveh Repent

The word reached[c] the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

I saw a post on Facebook today that talked about when spontaneous worship/revival breaks out because of a guitar rif … no offense but that’s spontaneous emotion. I keep thinking about the great awakenings in years past as they didn’t have social media, screens, reverb and strobe lights, yet the Holy Spirit still found a way to fill the place with His presence and call them to repentance. And I am sure they were singing some of the new songs of their day during those revivals. I am not knocking what we have in our churches today but I am just humbly suggesting that God doesn’t need it. Instead, He needs hearts willing to surrender their desires and replace them with His. He is needing people to get out of the way, to set aside their needs and truly repent.

Then … maybe then, we’ll see another great awakening in our country.

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Well, that’s it for now. I told you it might be a bumpy ride. 🙂 And it’s ok if you disagree with any of the above statements. It’s just some of the things I have been attempting to flesh out in my time with the Lord and thought I’d share.

I love you all and am so thankful to have you in my life. I pray that the Holy Spirit’s presence is a gentle reminder to you of how much you are loved.

And don’t be afraid to step out of God’s way … it’s amazing at what He can accomplish when we stop blocking Him!

 

 

Single Life

Truth Is … We Can Handle It

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.)

Dishonesty

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 heimage1-4ar 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.

Ghosting

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 …ghostingIn 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 image1.PNGof 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.

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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.

What do you think?

Please comment below.

I love you all.