Abuse is NOT Your Fault

Yesterday, I came across an ad on Facebook promising to detoxify your unhealthy relationship “practically overnight” with six secrets to “eradicate emotional abuse in your marriage” “even if your spouse doesn’t want to go to counseling.” I followed the Facebook ad to this free webinar.

The way the advertisement was worded was very triggering and angering.

You see, the very first time my husband ever hit me he said afterwards, “Look what you made me do… you made me punch you and I’ve never struck a woman in my life.”

I’ve spent the last five years of my life learning that the abuse that happened in my marriage was NOT my fault.

Now, I do not want to say anything negative against Deborah Watts of “HoneyBee You Authentic Living” because I watched her hour-long master class, took notes vigorously, and was very impressed with what she had to say. I even talked to her on the phone and she seems like an extremely genuine person who sincerely desires to help women in crisis. However, I felt that the words she chose to drive traffic to her Facebook page and website were misleading and drawing the wrong crowd. Granted, in the actual video she expressed that her message was NOT for anyone who was in any hint of physical danger. “Stop watching this right now and go get safe,” she explained. However, you had to watch the actual video to hear her say that. For the record, Watts DOES NOT advocate that you can change your abusive spouse, but sometimes messages permeate our culture that seem to imply just that.

If you’ve ever been in a violent situation in the past, I hope you know that  you did nothing to deserve someone hurting you and there’s nothing you could have done to prevent that person from abusing you outside of removing yourself from that dysfunctional atmosphere. Staying in a physically abusive relationship enables the person who is hurting you to continue hurting you without consequences.  If you continue hoping this person will change their behavior, you risk your safety by staying.

If you’ve never stayed in an abusive relationship, you might be wondering how it is possible for a person to endure four years of this. I received biblical counsel from a pastor when I was going through the physical abuse. I was told that if my husband didn’t believe the Word of God, I was to “win him over by my chaste behavior” (1 Peter 3:1). But this verse was misapplied to my situation because it was never meant to include women who were being beaten. I was also told I shouldn’t leave my husband because if I became separated from him, it would most likely be the first step towards a divorce and I didn’t want a divorce, did I? According to 1 Corinthians 7:13, if my husband was willing to live with me, I “must not divorce him.” So I felt that, according to the Bible, I was stuck in an abusive relationship and there was nothing I could do but suffer through it like a good Christian martyr for the love of Jesus. (I want to add that the pastor who quoted these verses to me meant well and had pure intentions, but I feel these verses were completely taken out of context and used to further the abuse that could have ended a lot sooner than it did.) Even though I knew deep down the abuse in my marriage was very, very wrong, I had to suppress my inner voice that told me “get safe” for the sake of staying in the relationship as I was instructed a godly wife would do.

Every time my husband hit me, I blamed myself for my actions that I felt propelled him to hit me. I chastised myself and became more determined than ever that I was going to be the best wife in the world so that I could “win him over.” In my eyes, the “best wife” was someone who massaged her husband, made him home-cooked meals, spoke lovingly and sweetly to him even when he was angry, and initiated love-making multiple times a day. The more and more I did these things, the farther away he drifted from me. He began spending less time with me and the abuse was getting worse. I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t getting better if I was doing all the “right things.”

I stayed in my abusive marriage for four long years because I truly believed that if I just kept loving my husband, eventually he would change. Newsflash: That only happens in fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast and 50 Shades of Gray. If there’s one thing I learned in my healing it’s that you CAN NOT change a person. (I actually read that on a free pamphlet about co-dependency at the drug rehab my husband checked in to.) They were the most magical words to me in that moment and the catalyst of my healing.

Anyone who promises you that you can somehow transform another person by your behavior is lying. If you are the recipient of abuse, know that it is never your fault and you aren’t doing anything to garner that.

We are in charge of our own thoughts, emotions, attitudes, mindsets, and actions. We alone own our values, beliefs, and viewpoints from which our attitudes and actions stem from. People can influence us for better or worse, but our behavior is our choice and no one else’s. 

You can’t change someone else’s choices, but you can change how you respond to them.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
-Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor.

Advertisements

Moving Forward

For those of you just now stumbling upon my blog, welcome! It’s nice to “meet” you!

Foundations of Sapphires 

I started this blogging journey to chronicle my personal struggles with separation and divorce. Over time, it became a place of lighthearted venting about my dating escapades. I haven’t updated since last September which is the month I met my boyfriend!

YES! I have found love! (But more about that later.) Lately I’ve been thinking about the fact that I’ve neglected this blog because I’m no longer grieving the loss of my marriage or dealing with difficult decisions regarding that. I’m also no longer involved in online dating shenanigans so I’ve stopped writing about that as well. What other purpose does this blog serve than as a record of a broken woman who climbed out of the pit of despair and allowed Jesus to put her back together again? Jesus bulldozed my old foundation of abuse and hopelessness, threw the wreckage away, and rebuilt my structure on a foundation of sapphires- the symbol of faithfulness, wisdom, virtue, and true love. I’ve decided that this may or may not be my last entry as I wrap up this chapter of my life and move on to new horizons. I hope the words I’ve left here over the course the past five years can be of some help to you if you are going through a tough time and faced with many difficult decisions.

matthew2

I’m so blessed that we found one another. He showers me with affection in just the right way that fills up my heart with love. He consistently puts me before himself and brings me closer to my Heavenly Father.  I thank Him that He brought us together.

Overcoming my Past

Nearly five years after my husband left, I still feel like the same old me, but in a way, I am a new and improved version of myself. Through this experience, I have changed negative attitudes and developed a positive outlook, gained new perspectives, set new goals for the future, grown stronger in my faith, and become an individual that has more love and respect for myself. After years of biblical counseling and personal study, I can smell bull crap from a mile away and I don’t put up with it now, no Sir-Ree-Bob!

What I Have Learned in Dating After Divorce

  • Your new partner is NOT your ex. Just because something seems familiar doesn’t mean the same patterns are going to repeat themselves. I’ll admit that things were pretty difficult in the beginning of my relationship due to the trauma, brainwashing, and various types of abuse I experienced in my marriage, but I’ve learned to give these fears and burdens to God, open up my heart to love, and let myself be vulnerable. It feels so good to trust again.
  • I’ve learned to avoid saying things like, “You’re doing ‘X’ just like so-and-so used to do.” It’s important to share your feelings about the past abuse with your new partner, but try not to compare them because they are two different people with different personalities, values, behaviors, and life experiences. If you are genuinely concerned about your new partner’s actions, speak with a trusted friend, family member, or elder at your church to gain insight from someone who is emotionally removed from the situation.
  • Do not rely on your feelings! Feelings change so you cannot trust them. Every day we must choose to love the person we picked for who he is, not for how he makes us feel.
  • I used to believe that leaving a marriage for any reason other than adultery was sinful, but now I believe that God wants you to be safe. Even though my ex-husband was cruel and frighteningly unpredictable, I remained patiently committed, naively believing that my persistent, undying love would conquer all and that if I just stuck with it, we would eventually reap the “happily ever after” outcome of a healthy, mutually respectful, and intimate partnership.  Boy, was I delusional!
  • The abuse was NOT my fault. I can be pretty hard on myself as I’m a perfectionist, so I blamed myself for years for what happened to me but I learned that there was nothing I could have done to make the abuse stop except get out sooner. I was never going to leave so God provided a way of escape, as He always does for those who love Him.
  • Above all, I have learned to let God write my love story. I’ve given Him the reigns of my relationship and let the Perfect Lover teach me how to love and be loved. It is the most freeing experience to trust God that my life is in His hands and He loves me with an everlasting love. When I put Him first, my joy and sense of security come first, too.

Tips If You’re at the Beginning of Your Journey

  • Sometimes it’s hard to recognize abuse in your own relationship. Being able to call it by its name is the first step to stopping it. Abusers can’t abuse if they don’t have a victim! Abuse can be so subtle that you don’t even realize it’s happening or perhaps it’s gone on so long that it has become normative. Here are two resources I’ve found to assess whether or not you’re being abused: [One] [Two] Once you are able to acknowledge your situation for what it is, educate yourself about it. Knowledge is power.
  • Find accountability. This is your support network. It’s important to have people you love and trust in your corner. Speak the truth, no matter how scary it is. Personally, I struggled between my need to speak out about what was happening and my perceived need to  protect my abuser’s reputation and integrity. After you share your burden with others, it will be such a relief! Validation will empower you as you take the steps to make positive changes in your life.
  • Time will bear witness of true, heartfelt change. Your abuser will try to get you to come back once you are safely at a distance but don’t put yourself back in harm’s way unless you and other witnesses have seen serious change over a period of time. Abuse is not normal and you shouldn’t have to accept it.
  • Remember that you can still be who you want to be apart from him. You are deeply cherished because you belong to God and He has prepared a beautiful purpose for you even before you were born. If your relationship doesn’t survive, you still have a bright future ahead.

For further reading, please visit this library of resources I put together that helped me transition into this new stage of my life.

Thank you for joining me on my road to healing! This is not the end but the beginning of something new and beautiful!

Loneliness

This song was one of my favorites as a little girl… I used to play this album on our vinyl record player over and over!

I love the line that sings, “I love a loney day, it chases me to You. Lets my very best part shine through, it’s You.”

It’s so important that your God needs are being met by God and not anyone else. He alone needs to be your priority. But we need people, too. God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” I am so ridiculously thankful for the friendships in my life because without them I would be so lost and alone. For the first time in my life I actually feel like I DON’T need a romantic relationship because I already have friends who intimately know me, love me through and through, and are not going anywhere. (Of course I still desire a healthy romantic relationship and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.)

Your support system is only as good as the people you choose to confide in and your openness to being vulnerable. In order to fully experience the fullness of joy in our relationships with others we need to be completely honest and vulnerable as we share with them. You have to allow yourself to be dependent on them (scary thought!) Yes, it opens you up to heartache and rejection but the benefits of having such faithful friends far outweighs the risk of anything that could go wrong.

The feeling of loneliness is pretty similar to the feeling of hunger. If you feel hungry, you go buy yourself a cheeseburger. If you feel lonely, you call your best friend and ask her to come over. We need to surround ourselves with loving, caring, supportive, trustworthy, committed people so that we aren’t so isolated. Isolation is what causes depression and feelings of emptiness. But sometimes you can be surrounded by loving people and still feel left out. It’s important to find someone who truly understands you and loves you unconditionally. Someone who isn’t going anywhere and will always stand by your side. You do not need to find this in a romantic partner, in fact, I would recommend you wait until you are no longer feeling needy and lonely before you commit to someone romantically. Loneliness can make us do almost anything just to fill that hole in our heart.

“When we are lonely, it’s a signal that we are alive. God created us with the drive to connect and be attached to Himself and others. It is a good thing, because loneliness leads us to relationship and that is where God wants all of us. We are all members of one body.” -Cloud and Townsend

Kindred Spirit

At the begining of August I was being pursued by seven different men. I went on at least one date with each of them and began slowly eliminating them. In one week, I went on a date with a different man every day for five days in a row. Then the last two days of that week I went on a second date with two of them.

I honestly like all of them. They are all great guys and I really can’t say anything bad about any of them. One of them was my mailman who has been leaving me thoughtful presents and notes in my mailbox for about a year and a half. Another one was a man I met online who came all the way down from Colorado just to spend the weekend with me.

As amazing as all these men are, none of them felt like I had met “the one…” except one. From this point forward I shall refer to him as “Kindred Spirit.”

From the moment I met Kindred Spirit, I felt as though I had known him my whole life. We immediately clicked in a deep way as if I were getting together with an old childhood friend and reconnecting after not seeing one another for ten years or more.

It sounds so ridiculous writing it down and putting my thoughts out into the world, but I was already excited about him after one date. We stayed up until 2 in the morning talking in a parking lot. I wanted to kiss him. KISS HIM, people! I NEVER want to kiss someone I’ve just met. I was already kind of crazy about him. I couldn’t wait to see him again and thought about him constantly. Being my Kindred Spirit, I somehow knew him just as well as I know myself. I knew that if I texted him too much or came on too strong it would turn him off. He’s an old-fashioned hopeless romantic and he wants to be the one in control who does the pursuing… so I kept praying and being patient and reminding myself not to get too excited.

patience

I have the tendancy to be a bit clingy. It’s mind over matter at this point.

He told me a few days later that there was another girl in the picture who he was also dating. I was immediately disappointed, but it’s only fair to mention I also had two other guys I was still dating at that point.

But I called them last night and told them my affections were with someone else. It’s a risky shot in the dark at this point because of what he told me on our third date two nights ago.

Me: I’m probably sabotaging our relationship by asking you this instead of just having fun, enjoying your company, and making the most of this moment together… but I can’t stop thinking about the “other girl.” How are things going with her?
Kindred Spirit: Really good actually.
Me: Oh. Do you like her romantically?
Kindred Spirit: Yes, I think so, I don’t know.
Me: You don’t know what you want, do you? I feel like you should have a pretty good idea at this point of what you want.
Kindred Spirit: I’ve been praying about it but God’s not answering my prayers.

Well, I just wanted to get back to enjoying our time together so we changed the subject and walked around the park again for a second time. Then we sat in my car and talked some more.

Kindred Spirit: Don’t look at me like that!
Me:
Like how?
Kindred Spirit: Longingly.
I immediately broke eye contact and became embarassed that my heart was dangling like that on my sleeve. He quickly pulled me in an embrace, I suppose out of compassion and empathy for my unrequited love. 
Me: There was a quote in chapter 8 of  “Boundaries in Dating” which I just read at the dentist office the other day which said, “Are you confusing longing for being in love? Remember, love satisfies. It does not leave you romantically pining.”

So that’s it. That’s all I have to say. We didn’t set another date and there might not ever be another date. My greatest fear came to fruition… that I would like him more than he likes me. My heart kind of hurts if I’m honest with you. My other greatest fear is that I won’t find anyone else like him. But at the same time, I completely trust God and I know that I can’t wreck up His beautiful plan for my life. I guess I dumped the other guys more for myself than for Kindred Spirit. It’s completely unfair to myself to have experienced a soul as beautiful as his and then settle for anything less than how I feel about him.

I would rather be single for the rest of my life than be stuck with someone I didn’t feel that with.

someday

I just feel absolutely blessed to even have met him. He raises the bar high for the next person who tries to pursue me.

My hands are open
Willing to receive
They are not resisting
or defending
My hands are open
Willing to give
No need to grab
or push or cling tightly
My hands are open
Ready to embrace
Ready to let go
Accepting

 

Serious Trust Issues

At long last, this blog entry unveils a message I have been endeavoring but have been unable to write for some time. I’m not sure where to begin so I’ll just dive in.

trustissues

In the beginning of March, I deleted my online dating profile for the first time after nearly a year of membership. This was to focus on someone who I believed had a lot of potential. After a month, we both agreed that we weren’t compatible. It was disappointing, but I was okay. For the first time since I started dating after my divorce, I didn’t go right back to seeing who else was out there. I decided to give online dating a break and focus on my relationship with God. I haven’t re-activated my profile since.

The month of April was pretty rough because my best friend died of cancer. However, April was also full of blessings because my youngest sister got married and I was able to spend time with family in Connecticut as her bridesmaid. I decided on the guest bed of my parent’s rental house (my childhood home burned down last August) that if I never get married again that I was content with that. That was the first time since my husband left me that I was able to say that and genuinely mean it. I wrote in my journal that night that I couldn’t picture my future wedding. All my life I had been planning my dream wedding and I got to see it unfold exactly how I imagined in 2009. (I even wrote a blog entry about how it still remains the best day of my life.) But now I couldn’t picture the dress, I couldn’t picture my bridesmaids, and most of all, I couldn’t picture falling in love again.


My heart was calloused and bruised from so many rejections and heartbreaks, I didn’t think my heart was capable of feeling anything for anyone ever again.


At the end of May, a very dear friend who I admire and deeply respect began pursuing me romantically. I’ve known him since October of last year, we have the same friend group, and we see each other on a weekly basis. I was unsure if taking our friendship to the next level was the best choice so I prayed about it every day, but I didn’t get an answer. Meanwhile, as I began praying about him, my feelings for him began to deepen as I thought about him in a new way that I hadn’t really let myself before. I became smitten with him, complete with the butterflies in my stomach when I thought about him and all the other clichés you can think of. But he flip-flopped back and forth every day about whether or not he wanted to commit to me. One day he would tell me, “I’m sure God brought you into my life for a reason and I believe that it’s because you’re the dream woman I’ve been praying for my whole life.” Then the next day he would tell me with worry in his voice, “Are we too similar to each other? Do our lifestyles coalesce? I’m just not sure if this is what God wants.” That very night he would apologize for doubting and say I was exactly what he needed and that he wanted to invest his time in me. “I’m sorry I did that to you, I have a fear of rejection. Please be patient with me.” He promised me he wouldn’t change his mind again but then of course the next day he would. My emotions were on a roller coaster with him and my heart was anxious and upset all the time. The feelings I felt surrounding his unpredictability were akin to those when I was I an abusive marriage. I knew I had to escape this cycle of pain but an unhealthy neediness had ravished my heart. I was addicted to this sick game. The next time he asked me to be his girlfriend, he said he had peace when he prayed about it and he was sure this time. I thought we were finally done riding the roller coaster so I said, “Yes.” That was a very good day. 🙂 The next day, however, he kissed me, and I wasn’t ready. I didn’t feel loved when he kissed me… I just felt kind of used. He assured me that his kiss meant something special and not to take it lightly because he hadn’t kissed anyone in seven years. That made me feel better. The next day we were holding hands while watching a movie in the theatre and he let go of my hand about fifteen minutes into the movie and said, “Holding your hand is distracting me. I can’t focus on the movie and I’ve been wanting to see it for a long time.” What he said was so shocking that I couldn’t believe my ears. “Really?” Was all I could reply. Not going to lie, this disturbed me more than anything else that had previously happened in our relationship. If you can’t hold your girlfriend’s hand, what’s the point of dating in the first place? You might as well just be friends. Physical touch is my love language and I definitely did not feel loved in that moment… I felt rejected, abandoned, and unwanted. Call me a drama queen if you wish, but this was the final straw. I did NOT want to be in a relationship with someone who didn’t want to be close to me in that way.

broken

That relationship messed me up big time and turned my world upside down. The sense of loss was so much deeper than any other because this was a trusted friend I had invested a lot of time and love into who was breaking my heart. I found myself crying all the time. Fear wracked my body that I would be alone forever and no one would ever love me. My own dear friend couldn’t even love me, what was wrong with me? The world swirled around me in a blur as loneliness hung over me like a dark cloud. I pulled my body out of bed every morning and went to work but inside I was thinking, “What’s the point?” I went from being content in my singleness to desperately, urgently needing someone to love me or else I would be miserable for the rest of my life.

This whole ordeal was God’s answer to my prayer a few weeks earlier. I asked God to break my heart because when I am broken, I am closest to Him (Psalm 34:18) and there is NOTHING I want more in this life than to be close to Him. Pain brings us to our knees and makes us cry out to Him because there is no where else to turn for peace and comfort.

I still long for someone I can come home to. Who will just let me cry on his shoulder if I had a bad day at work. Someone who won’t get tired of my presence or feel the need for space from me. Someone who will accept me and adore me, even if I’m feeling crappy.

Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking. GOD is that One who loves me with this kind of love. He is the One I should be running to at the end of a long, hard day.

But…

I still long for a man. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. I think God created me with a desire to be a wife and He wouldn’t give me that desire and not meet that need. I need to trust Him that He WILL provide the right person at the right time. And if there isn’t a person after all, I need to believe that is His very best plan for my life. His way is better than my way.

fb_img_1498077569690


I need to let go of this idea that my life will be better if I’m in a relationship.


All being in a relationship has brought me in the past is PAIN. If I never find a man who loves me the way I deserve to be loved… who wants to spend all his time with me, holding me tight and having deep conversations with me, that means I’ll do better with just me and God. If I never find this man, that means God has looked high and low all over planet Earth and has not found a single soul who will compliment me and make my life better. Maybe my life is better alone. I could choose to view this as a complete slap in the face or I could view it as a blessing. God knows exactly what my heart and soul need and He doesn’t want me to have anything less than that. It’s better to be alone than be in a frustrating relationship where my needs aren’t being met and let’s be honest… I’m a pretty needy person. 😉

Ask yourself these two questions:

  • Is God really good?
  • Do I trust God to be God?

Who do you say God is? Do you believe He sees you? Do you believe He will meet your needs? Does He not fill the Heavens and the Earth? (Jeremiah 23:24) Does anything escape His notice? (Psalm 139:7) Heaven is His throne and the earth is His footstool (Isaiah 66:1). He can do all things and no plan of His can be thwarted (Job 42:2). He knows everything from every hair on your head (Matthew 10:30) to every star in the sky and each one has a special name He’s given it (Psalm 147:4). Not a single sparrow falls to the ground without God’s allowance (Matthew 10:29). He is Sovereign over all. He has mighty power over all things at all times in all ways and His understanding is infinite.

“Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.” -Jeremiah 32:17

If you are struggling with pain today, please take comfort in knowing that God not only knows your situation but He deeply cares (1 Peter 5:7). He is holding you in the palm of His hand and He will never, ever let you go (Deuteronomy 31:6). If you worship a God who is somehow limited in His power then you do not worship the same God I do. If you worship a God who doesn’t care about you or isn’t capable of helping you, then you do not worship the same God I do. (Psalm 107:1) My God is mighty to save and He wants to fill up my cup til it overflows.

When it comes to trusting God’s goodness C. S. Lewis said it best, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”

The mind feasts on what it is focused on. If you keep thinking about what you don’t have, you’ll be miserable. If you count your blessings, you’ll have a thankful heart. What consumes your mind will be the making or breaking of your identity. Instead of thinking about how badly I need a relationship to be happy, I will replace those thoughts with this prayer, “God, I trust that you are good at being God. I trust you will take care of me and do what is best for me.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. -Isaiah 26:3

My whole life I’ve searched for a love that would fill me up.. a love in which I was known intimately and deeply treasured. The truth is, when God created me, His heart exploded with a tremendous love and He’s been pursuing me ever since, wooing me and whispering, “I love you. I will never let you go.” When I dwell on this truth, my heart is filled up with love. I have been desperately craving this affectionate embrace and I’ve been looking everywhere except up. If I live from this place of abundant love, I will stop begging men for scraps of love.

My feelings may shift when people I love are unpredictable, but the Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing. He quiets my heart with His love. He leads me besides quiet waters and refreshes my soul. When I am confused and hesitant, He is assurance. When I am hopeless, He is strength. When I depleated, He is fulfillment. When I am exhausted, He is rejuvination.

“The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17

Every time I become enamored with something that I think will bring lasting fulfillment, I make room in my heart for it. I forget that I’m already complete in Christ and I don’t need anything else to make my happy (Colossians 2:10, Psalm 16:11). And every single time, the thing I am in love with proves its absolute inability to fulfill me and I feel even more empty than before.

“I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” -Philippians 3:8

The Desires of Your Heart

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” -Psalm 37:4

That was a verse from my last blog entry and I wanted to talk about it today because there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the promise behind it.

The Heart Wants What it Wants

Each and every one of us has a deep, intense, heartfelt desire. Leave a comment and let me know what it is that burns within you because I’d like to join you in prayer. Perhaps you have a family member you hope will get saved? Perhaps it is an addiction you hope to overcome? A goal weight you’d like to reach? A health issue? A destination you’d like to travel? For me, it is the yearning for a family of my own, a loving husband and children.

Trust in the LORD and Do Good

The surrounding context of Psalm 37 tells us to wait, have patience, trust in God, commit our way to Him, don’t worry, and rest.  It speaks about trusting God’s plan and waiting to see what He will do, aligning our will with His will. When our mind is united with His mind we are becoming more like Him. His desires become our desires. THIS is delighting ourself in Him.

Delight ~ Hebrew word עָנַג

de·light / dəˈlīt

verb

  • To please (someone) greatly
  • To be exquistely happy about
  • To make merry over
  • To give pleasure to

To delight yourself in the Lord is to serve Him with enthusiasm (Ephesians 6:7, Colossians 3:23). To have exceeding joy in your salvation (Psalm 51:12, Psalm 13:5). Letting Him satisfy your every need (Psalm 23:1, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:33).  To live contented with what you already have (Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy 6:6, Philippians 4:12) rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4) and be thankful (1 Chronicles 16:34, Philippians 4:6).

According to His Will

When we are delighting in God and submitting to His will, He blesses us with provisions, protection, deliverance, guidence, stability, and peace. But Psalm 37:4 is not a quid pro quo verse. Jesus said, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14). Notice He said IN MY NAME. He didn’t say, “Ask me anything and I will do it,” but only if it was according to His will.

There are many examples in scripture of unanswered prayer. For example, we read the story of Paul’s thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. Paul asked God to remove it three times but for one reason or another, God chose not to say “yes.”

Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane with droplets of blood pouring out of his sweat glands in complete anguish. He prayed earnestly, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Obviously, if God had answered THAT prayer then all of us would be going to Hell!!!

Sometimes God chooses not to answer our prayers, even when we’re delighting ourselves in Him and trusting Him with our whole heart. But because we know and trust that He “works all things together for good” (Romans 8:28) we can praise Him and thank Him even when we are experiencing great pain.

Hillary Scott wrote this song right after she had a miscarriage which was the hardest trial she had ever gone through. She said in an interview, “Even when it hurts… God’s will is what’s best. Sometimes we don’t understand God’s promises until eternity. His ways are so much bigger than our ways. He sees the whole picture.”

When we are trying to pray but can’t find the words to say we can say these four words:
“Thy will be done.” 

Be Still and Know

James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials” but it is definitely easier said than done as Scott sings in her song. How do we delight ourselves in the Lord in the midst of trials? The secret is reminding ourselves that He is God… and we are not. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). God uses trials to remind us that we need Him and to increase our faith. Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).

It’s hard to count it all joy when we’re distracted by the noise. That’s why Jesus intentionally rose early before anyone else to have his regularly scheduled time to be alone with God every morning. Jesus disciplined Himself to do this because quiet time with God was of utmost priority to Him. We can’t get lost in the business of life and put God on the back burner. We need to be open to hearing His “still small voice.” Isaiah 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” If we aren’t listening, we’ll miss it.

Where is Your Delight?

It’s frustrating when we’re still single with verses like Psalm 37:4 laying around that seem to offer so much hope. Yet despite our unanswered prayers to the desires of our heart, God has a plan for “those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose.” First I’d like to ask you: Where is your joy? Is it in a relationship with a human being or is it in a relationship with the Lord? There is nothing wrong with wanting to be in a relationship but our delight must be FIRST in the Lord. If time with God it is not a priority in your life then your joy is not in the Lord.

Second, are you “trusting God and doing good?” I read a statistic that only 5% of people are saving sex for marriage. I don’t know the statistic, but many believers choose to be unequally yoked with unbelievers and live impure lifestyles. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). God might choose not to bless you if you haven’t turned over all areas of your life to Him. When we repent of our sins and walk with the Lord, He removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). Then he plants His desires for us in our heart. As the old, beloved hymn goes, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus!”

Third, continue to pray, “YOUR way, not my way, Yahweh! Thy will be done. Make Your desires for me the desires of my heart.” Then be still and wait on Him. Waiting SUCKS but God tells us to wait over and over in scripture. Don’t rush. Be patient. He has His perfect timing.

Finally, delight yourself in the Lord! The Psalmist sings in Psalm 73:25, “There is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” Is that true in your life? 

There is a funny story I’d like to share with you. My roommate in college gave me a poem for Valentine’s Day. The last line of the poem reads thus:

Since from His bounty I receive
Such proofs of love divine,
Had I a thousand hearts to give,
Lord, they should all be Thine

I joked, “Can we just give God 999 hearts and save one for Mathew?” (At this time, my ex-husband was my boyfriend.) We both tilted our heads back with deep, belly laughter but then we both got quiet and serious. There is no room to give God 99% of our heart and keep 1% for ourselves. We have to give Him our WHOLE heart.

He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21). He longs to bless us with good gifts (Matthew 7:11). But first He wants us to be completely satisfied in Him (John 6:35; John 7:37-39). When He is the object of our desire, we will have more of Him! Draw close to Him and He draws close to you (James 4:8).

When We Feel Empty

It wasn’t even a full three days since I posted “Singleness is NOT a Punishment!” when my dear, sweet friend sent me this through Facebook message:

princess_warrior

If you have ever seen this or something like this, I want to just help erase any of the damage that it may have done to your heart.

warrior

First of all, who else saw Xena the Warrior Princess when you first starting reading that? Ha! But I digress. Let’s respond to the letter from the anonymous internet person to the Princess Warrior. (Which is supposed to be a letter from God the Father to me, His beloved daughter.)

First of all, I look nothing like sexy Xena the Warrior Princess nor do I feel like her, even though I do know I am a daughter of the King and in His army.  Second of all, I would have to honestly say that, for the most part, I desire the approval of God alone. When I was young I sought the approval of my parents and my teachers and now that I’m an adult I seek the approval of my boss. There is a certain crush of mine who I highly admire and respect and from time to time I will find myself desiring his approval but it’s only because I hold him in such high regard. I don’t think validation should come from anywhere but from above as we are complete in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9-10) but I don’t think the desire to feel accepted and supported is wrong. In fact, that’s not only normal but God designed it that way. Allow me to explain:

The letter goes on to say, “I designed you to desire Me and Me alone.”

I challenge you to find a passage in the Bible that says that. You will be hard-pressed to find such a verse because I guarentee it is not there.

Have you ever been in a crowded room, yet felt completely isolated? It’s not a good feeling at all, is it? Loneliness has never been part of God’s plan for his children. After all, in the beginning when God created the Heavens, the earth, the water, trees, flowers, birds, fish, and animals, He looked over each day of creation and declared it to be good. However, upon creating man, God stopped and for the very first time declared something as “not good.” He said, “It is NOT GOOD that man should be alone.”

Adam had God by his side and yet God still said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Not until after God created Eve did God say, “…and it was VERY good.” All this is to say that we need each other and to deny that is to deny God’s design. Yes, we were designed to desire God, but He also designed us to yearn for a helpmate in life. We are sexual beings and our bodies are naturally created with a longing to be intimate and to be fruitful and multiply. Is it a sin that we desire these things? NO!

Some Christians might tell you that desiring sex is a sin but that is not biblical. The distinction comes from the OBJECT of our desire. If our desires are fixating on something evil (i.e. adultery, fornication, etc) then the desire itself is evil (Matthew 5:28, Matthew 15:19, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20). If our desire fixates on something good (i.e. marriage, companionship) then the desire itself is good (Proverbs 5:18-19, Song of Solomon 2:5-7, Proverbs 18:22, Ephesians 5:28). Sexual desire is wholesome, honorable, and right when it is enjoyed within the boundaries of holy matrimony.

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” -Philippians 4:8

We have become a generation with a distorted view of marriage.  When we try to convince singles that we shouldn’t desire sexual intimacy or that longing for marriage is somehow unholy then we are giving Satan the credit for God’s beautiful design.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Psalm 37:4 is NOT an equation.

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. -Psalm 37:4

If Psalm 37:4 were an equation, then I’m pretty sure I would have a husband and children by now. Don’t believe for one second that if you’re still waiting on the Lord for this blessing that you must not be doing something you’re supposed to be doing.  Though it certainly feels like a curse, singleness is very much a blessing.  I know that it hurts, especially when you’re lying awake at night in your empty bed with nothing but pillows to squeeze for comfort.

Now let’s take a look at another passage in the letter:

“When you choose to live for Me, you will never again be thirsty for attention…”

Is that really true? What kind of a message does that send to people who struggle with depression? With aching emptiness and longing? With grief and loss associated with divorce? Just because we’ve given our lives to Jesus and chosen to live for Him doesn’t mean that we don’t still struggle with the pain of an empty womb or the longing to share our lives with a companion by our side. Telling a woman that she’ll never thirst for attention if she chooses to live for God… Do you see how that could be detrimental to her spirit? “Oh, I am still thirsty for love and affection…” She thinks. “I must not be fully living for God.” 

In the wise words of one of my favorite authors Alyssa Joy Bethke: “God is good and everything that happens is for our good. Not necessarily for our happiness but for our holiness. God’s goal is to make us more like His son, and often that involves trials and pain. But those difficulties are opportunities to rely on our Savior, to run into His arms, to nestle ourselves in His embrace and to walk with Him.”

Emptiness is that feeling left over after you give something your absolute all and it still doesn’t turn out the way you worked so hard for it to. You’re exhausted of energy, depleated of hope, and disappointed that it didn’t work out. Perhaps you have some unfulfilled dreams or a place in your heart that aches because your beloved didn’t return your love. Perhaps, like me, you fought hard to save your marriage and did everything possible to redeem it but it still fell apart in your hands.

God’s Word offers some promises to combat the emptiness and find fulfillment in Christ.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” – Psalm 81:10

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

“I ask God from the wealth of His glory to give you power through His Spirit to be strong in your inner selves,  and I pray that Christ will make His home in your hearts through faith as you open the door and invite Him in.  I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. Yes, may you come to know the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love—although it can never be fully known—and be so completely filled with the very nature of God.” -Ephesians 3:16-19

Just because we’ve completely given our lives to God doesn’t mean the longings He’s plsb10065339i-001aced there will completely go away. I believe they are from Him and they aren’t sinful. I mean, not all of us are called to be nuns!!! On the plane home from my sister’s wedding last weeekend I saw a nun. I immediately was drawn to her because of her calm, elegant beauty and of course the curiousity of what made her decide to live under the vows of poverty and chastity but especially the latter. Perhaps she doesn’t have those desires? I can’t imagine not having those desires. If she DOES have those desires then I applaud her for her strength and uncompromising commitment to purity.  She is SO KICK-BUTT! Wish I would have had the courage to ask her my questions. Again, I digress.

It’s healthy to recognize that sometimes the longings we feel aren’t for anything Earth can provide. Psalmist cries out to God, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1). Just like the Samaritan woman at the well who thirsted for Living Water, God put a longing in our heart that was intended to lead us back to Him. There is an emptiness that ONLY HE can fill. There is a deep thirst that ONLY HE can quench. If His love doesn’t fill you up, then nothing else will.

“Now let me ask you again, My beloved daughter: Whom do you seek?”

If you’re like me, you’re COMPLETELY honest with yourself and if your desires are the same as mine then you’re seeking a husband. The Bible says, But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” -Matthew 6:33. It never says it’s wrong to seek a husband, but make sure God is first in your heart.

As for me, I’m allowing God to use this loneliness and emptiness to teach me what it means to depend upon His strength and love every day. I know that having a husband won’t satisfy the craving that only God can fill. When you allow yourself to be controlled by Christ’s love you have the indwelling of God’s presence and are closer to unity and maturity. I don’t think we can ever experience the whole measure of the perfection that is found in Christ (Ephesians 4:13) this side of Heaven, but I do believe we can experience joy and fullness here on Earth. I pray this for us both, dear reader, that we would be filled with His love and be content in our single season.