There is Power in Vulnerability

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson

Our insecurities stem from our sense of self value: Do I belong? Am I worthy? If others knew the real me, would they still like me?

What is the remedy to this fear and shame of being our authentic selves? Vulnerability. 

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis

To put yourself out there with arms wide open, ready to embrace the world, is a huge risk because it opens ourselves up to the possibilitiy of disappointment and rejection. But being vulnerable isn’t weak. It is courageous. When we allow ourselves to be seen in our entirety we allow others to accept us and love us for who we truly are. When you let your fear keep you from experiencing vulnerability, you rob yourself of joy and love and depth in your relationships with others.

Being yourself means declaring and affirming who God made you to be and knowing that in Him you are beautiful, precious, and important.

“A woman of beauty is a woman who is not striving to become beautiful or worthy or enough. She knows in her quiet center where God dwells that He finds her beautiful, has deemed her worthy, and in Him, she is enough.”
― Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul

Letting others see us to the full breadth and width of ourselves is to love with our whole heart. There is no guarentee you won’t be hurt or ridiculed or embarressed, but it is the only way to love passionately and fiercely and the only way to live completely alive! The reward is the deepest kind of unconditional love.

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This post was inspired by someone in my life who keeps me on a yo-yo string. He doesn’t know if he wants to date me or not and he’s afraid of letting me into his hidden places because he’s afraid I won’t like what I see. Our on-again-off-again relationship has exhausted me to my core and today I had to tell him, “NO. I can’t even be your friend anymore because I’ve allowed you to put my heart through the wringer for the last time. You need to sit down and figure out exactly what you want and then you need to boldly go after it with your whole heart. Otherwise, you will never find true love.”

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The key to finding what you want is knowing what you want… Be intentional! Set goals! Work hard to reach them! And when you’ve finally received what you were looking for… you VALUE IT. You thank God for it and you never let it go.

It hurts to be vulnerable, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because to be honest with myself and others about my needs and desires is the only way to receive them.

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A Letter

To the man who promised me forever:

I forgive you.

I remember the black and white checkered pattern of the hospital floor, pacing back and forth that day you were in detox, pondering hopefully, as I am oft-inclined to do, that our situation can only look up from rock bottom. I had never loved you more than in that moment when I thought I would lose you forever. I loved you more than life itself and I would have done almost anything to stay by your side and help you through your darkest hour… but you left me… your faithful wife who only wanted to support you.

I thought my heart would always belong to you and I would never get it back. I thought I might never heal from that intense pain. I thought the aching emptiness might never go away.

But I forgive you.

There has been more than one man who won’t date me because I am your “left overs.” You chewed me up and spit me out and now no one seems to want me. I feel like Hester Prynne with a giant scarlet letter on my chest warning everyone to stay far away because I’m unable to keep a marriage together.

I finally met a God-fearing man who doesn’t mind that I’m divorced. “It’s your past but it doesn’t define who you are,” he assured me. But he thinks that his family won’t understand. He thinks they won’t accept me, at least not right away. He asked me not to tell them just yet.

Tears fought to spill from the corners of my eyes. I thought I had worked through my guilt. I accepted my truth and learned to love myself even when I wanted to despise myself. The harsh reality is that I may have moved on from mourning but people may continue to judge me (as I had once judged others in my situation) and that judgment may stir up the regret and sorrow I thought I had buried and finished grieving. Every time a man I hope to date rejects me for being divorced I feel the grief once again.

But I get it. I really do. If I’m honest with myself, I’d rather not date someone who has been divorced, either.

Whether I like it or not, you’re part of me and you always will be. You’re part of my love story because you’re the first man I ever passionately loved; the first man I would have laid down my life for because I loved you that much. You taught me how to love unconditionally… Not because you showed me what that was but because I learned to love you despite you not loving me. My world revolved around you. I was infatuated with the spell you cast on me. Even when you were absolutely horrible to me I couldn’t see anyone but you.

I won’t deny that you were once the most important thing to me on Earth.

After you left I tried desperately to win you back. I must have been plumb crazy. But that’s how I know I am a fool when I am in love and I will make someone an amazing wife one day because of you.

So thank you.

Embracing Singleness

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I finally gave up on my crush ever returning my feelings. Okay, I’ll admit there is still a little dash of hope lurking somewhere in the dark recesses of my heart. What can I say? I’m the most optimistic person I know.

Alas, I signed up for online dating. Why? Because seriously, how long do I have to wait for you, Honey, before a girl like me can move on?

Apparently more than five months… and I’d literally wait YEARS for him if he gave me even a tattered shred of threadbare hope.

“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without words

And never stops at all”

~Emily Dickinson~

But he is a godly gentleman and he doesn’t lead people on so he hasn’t and won’t ever give false hope. Now I’m just trying to find a man on his level of awesomeness.

 

Less than five minutes after I uploaded a picture to my online dating profile I had 147 messages in my mailbox.   I remember thinking to myself, “Self? Your time of singleness is over.” I was at first excited about this new adventure especially after seeing messages with pick-up lines such as the ones below:

  • “How does it feel to be the most beautiful girl on this site?”
  • “Seriously, how in the world are you not yoked with a man of God?! Are Tucson men just blind to how incredible you are?”
  • “You are GORGEOUS. You must have a million guys after you.”
  • “You are too good to be true. Are you real?”
  • “Your energy is contagious and your love for God shines.”

But I quickly became discouraged when none of the gentlemen in Tucson seemed to be what I was looking for.

Except my crush.

And of course the website flashed it in my face every day that were were 99% compatible and that he was online RIGHT NOW, probably talking to other girls, too.

So my rules were:

1.) No initiating conversation. Never be the first one to suggest exchanging phone numbers or meeting in person. Let the man lead.

2.) Don’t even bother to reply to messages if you’re not initially attracted to the person’s picture. There’s no need to get people’s hopes up if you’re just not attracted physically.

3.) If he doesn’t say God is the most important thing in his life or if his answers to the questions don’t reflect that, again, don’t bother replying.

4.) Don’t even waste your time with men who say “MIGHT want kids.” Our eggs is a-shrivelin’ up, Honey Chile!

Notime

 

6.) Pray without ceasing. If it doesn’t feel right in your spirit, walk away. 

 7.) Remember that God desires to give me good things. He loves me and WILL provide in His perfect timing. Rest in Him. 

So the first guy I talked to seemed perfect on paper… but then when we talked on the phone he said that he was only just married last month… “but don’t worry about that,” he assured me. “I’ve grieved over the loss, my heart is healed, and I’m over her and ready to move on.” I nearly choked on my own tongue. “Thank you for being so honest,” I replied. “That’s honorable of you to mention up front. However, it’s a red flag to me that if you truly are done mourning the death of your marriage so soon after its demise. The only thing I could possibly be to you right now is a rebound. I’m sorry, but this cannot go any further.”

That was the end of that.

Then there was an amazing guy who was even more perfect for me on paper than the one above. He was gorgeous, shared many of my hobbies and interests including salsa dancing,  was intelligent, witty, musically gifted, and made me laugh.

He was very slow to meet me in person and I was growing impatient because everyone else I began talking to had already asked to meet me in person and he was the only one who hadn’t yet and also the only one I really wanted to meet anyway. I MIGHT have nudged him a little bit even though one of my rules was to let the man lead. Mistake number one. It worked though! And he asked me out the very next day.

We went on a date that I thought couldn’t have been more perfect… he actually sat there grilling me with questions and covered all the bases I could ever think of even right down to what my love language was, my communication style, how often I desired to be physically intimate after marriage, how many kids I wanted to have and when I wanted to start having them. It seemed we were compatible on absolutely everything because he kept saying, “Good! Me too,” and high-fiving me. Then at the end of the date when I said it was a pleasure to meet him he said, “Oh no, the pleasure is entirely mine. It was truly an honor to meet you.” I thought we were definitely going to make babies together–bahahahaha just kidding! (But like, maybe a little bit)

Unfortunately, I had to wait with bated breath for a text or email for what seemed like an eternity (which was really only about four days but in online-dating-time that just seems like a lifetime.) In his email he wrote that he could get lost in my “beautiful blue eyes all day long” but that he “didn’t feel God meant for us to be together.”  What a heartbreaking rejection. I wrote back that I respected his sincere honesty and for doing it sooner rather than later. I also asked if he felt comfortable sharing what made him feel that way about us but he never wrote back and so the reason for the death of our romance so quickly kindled and so swiftly doused may haunt my waking thoughts for the foreseeable future.

Then I “met” the most amazing man I may have ever met in my life. We talked on the phone for seven hours our first time speaking to one another and even though he’s from India, a culture so completely different from mine, I felt like we could have grown up together because we were so similar. (Being a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ plays a huge part in that.)  His grandfather is the founder of Hopegivers International, which is an organization that helps rescue orphans and at risk children from abuse, sex trafficking, and abandonment. They provide for all their needs, shower them in love, and introduce them to their heavenly Father. He owns some of the “Hope Homes” in his name and is truly one of the most caring and loving individuals I’ve ever met and I already told him that if it doesn’t work out with him romantically that I’m keeping him in my life forever and ever because he’s my beloved brother in Christ and I feel a deep spiritual connection to him.

I also met this sweet, adorable Asian guy who is incredibly easy to get along with and really fun to be around. I feel like we would have some amazing adventures together and I also feel like he would spoil me rotten if I ever became something more than a friend to him.

Okay so then the next guy I am meeting in less than an hour. I have seen him before a couple times at the gym I used to go to. He’s this super buff guy, 6’1″, green eyes… basically a head-turner. I never talked to him because A.) I just go to the gym to do my thang, I don’t really interact with people all that much and B.) I thought he was way out of my league. Plus C.) this was during the time I was still trying desperately to win my husband’s heart back. I know what you must be thinking, “WHY? He was so AWFUL to you, why would you want him back?” Well…

 

people always do crazy things when they’re in love.

The rest of the relationships I’m juggling are all long distance… there are no other ones in Tucson who have messaged me that I am interested in. I’m just keeping my options open at this point and keeping things really casual and nothing too serious unless the Lord whispers something to my heart.

WISH ME LUCK! *Gets purse*

………………………………………………………………..

I just got back from my date and let me tell you… it literally could not have gone any better. We seem to have all the same goals and priorities and we are attracted to one another. We have ridiculous amounts in common and whether or not this works out romantically I can definitely see him fitting into my friend group as he is someone I’d love to have as a friend for life.

He straight up told me I’m his dream woman and everything he wants. And he told me at the end of the date that he couldn’t wait to see me again. So this is either VERY GOOD if it’s God’s will to let him pursue me or VERY BAD because if it isn’t God’s will, He better tell me quick because I can see it headed in that direction unless God puts a road block in our path.

The number one thing I love about him is his genuineness. He’s extremely open and honest and puts everything out on the table. That is not only refreshing but also extremely attractive. He shared with me many of his flaws and strangely, I was not put off by them. I’m still going to keep my guard up and watch for red flags, but I’m already starting to trust him and feel very comfortable around him.

I’m relieved he didn’t try to kiss me at the end of the date. I was sort of worried he might but he probably did his homework by reading the questions in which I had answered  that I didn’t like to kiss until we were in an established, exclusive relationship. Or maybe he’s a lot like me in that mentality. 🙂

Anyway, I just wanted to encourage you that if you are still single and really want to find the love of your life, this verse may be of some comfort to you:

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” -1 Timothy 6:6

Contentment is peace and joy in your current circumstances. It is the freedom from worry, fear, anxiety, and greed. It is wholeness. It is accepting your situation and being satisfied with what God has given you. Maybe you desire more, but you’re truly happy with where you are in this time even if you don’t receive more.

As my sister told me before I started this online dating process: “Are you really trusting God to use the internet as a vehicle for bringing the one He has for you or are you trusting yourself for it to work out?

She reminded me that I have a tendency to be controlling because I like everything to go my way. I tend to plan things out and live in the future and get extremely disappointed when things don’t turn out as I had hoped. She told me to be extra careful because I wear my heart on my sleeve and get carried away by my emotions when I fall for someone.

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Doubt and fear are a direct mistrust in God’s provision and goodness and faithfulness.  There is no fear in love. If you’re worrying about being single and not finding the one you want to spend the rest of your life loving, then you are not trusting God’s sovereignty and omnipotence. If you’re looking online for handsome men you feel a connection with but you’re not bathing every second of your interactions with prayer, then you’re trying to “fix your singleness” yourself apart from God and without God, nothing can go right.


Oh, and the disappointment? Yeah. There is going to be a lot of that if you are anything like me and get rejected by someone you start having feelings for. I assure you, though, God knows best and if someone is not the BEST life teammate for you then God is going to withhold that from you because He has someone even better in mind for you than you could ever imagine for yourself.

Still Healing as My Marriage Unravels

Reclaiming My Identity

I am a wife. For better or for worse, my identity is wrapped around it like a warm, comforting, patchwork quilt. I don’t even remember how to be single. I spent the majority of my adulthood either preparing to be someone’s wife or working hard at being the best wife I could be. But since my husband left me, who am I now? Where do I belong? I’ve always felt that a wife’s place is with her husband, no matter what. She supports him and helps him in any way she is able and never gives up on him.

My sister Jacqueline is a decorated athlete who recently learned of a debilitating hip and back injury. It made my heart swell with encouragement to hear her say, “My identity is in Jesus and not my athletic ability so this transition will be hard but not life-stopping.” I ought to fall in step with her as I transition from wifehood to singlehood. At the end of the day, my identity is “In Christ Alone.”

Enough is Enough

I’ve always loved this scene from “The Mexican” when Julia Robert’s character asks Brad Pitt’s character, “If two people love each other but they just can’t seem to get it together, when do you get to that point when enough is enough?”

What I never intended to discover is that sometimes, it’s okay to say “enough is enough.” Sometimes you just have to protect and preserve your innermost being. When an individual is not living out the biblical definition of love and has no intentions of ever fulfilling his or her marital responsibilities as instructed by God, then it’s okay to let that person go. It’s unhealthy to keep holding on and hoping he or she will change.

As a child I had always said, “No matter how bad things get, I’d NEVER divorce my husband and I’d never be so stupid to as to marry anyone who would ever divorce me.” I hate to admit this, but I even looked down a little upon the people I knew who had gotten divorced. I silently judged them for not trying hard enough. In a culture that likes to sell us slogans like “Never give up” that sound good on motivational posters and T-shirts, we have to step back and say, “That’s simply not feasible in reality.” I had the absolute best intentions to make my marriage work, but I think it’s not conducive to keep waiting around in marriage purgatory.

I have been doing much reflection on the past four years of my marriage and many memories I chose to suppress out of basic survival need have been resurfacing and haunting my thoughts during the day. (I’ve also had some bad nightmares recently.) I have been struggling with whether or not to share specifics with everyone. It can be cathartic to get things off your chest, but it’s also important to protect the ones you love from scorn and I’m trying to find that balance. By sharing my story with others, maybe someone in a similar situation can find encouragement. That is my hope as I continue here, without giving out too many unnecessary details.

What very few people know is that my marriage was, at times, very dangerous. I frequently found myself in situations where I feared for my physical safety. My marriage was dysfunctional almost from the very beginning. I think the first time I noticed a problem was when my husband told me right after our honeymoon that he didn’t feel like going to church. I told him I didn’t either and we stayed home and cuddled in bed. But the next Sunday he said the exact same thing and the Sundays that followed. I felt that I was dragging him to church against his will and that he was resenting me for it so eventually I stopped begging him to attend with me and just went by myself. It was awkward being a newlywed sitting alone in church having to explain to everyone who asked that my husband was just “exhausted from working” when, in reality, he no longer seemed interested in worshiping with fellow believers.

One day, not too soon after we tied the knot, my husband asked me, “If you were faced with the valid plausibility that everything you ever believed about the Bible were an outright lie, would you continue to ignorantly follow its teachings or would you look into it… even if the Truth deeply hurt?” I answered honestly that I’d rather believe the Truth, even if the Truth were painful and earth-shattering. Little did I know, that answer was to be the beginning of a journey into a very dark time for me spiritually. My husband asked me to listen to anti-Christian radio programs with him that caused me to begin questioning everything I believed in. The doubts threatened to strangle my sanity and I allowed myself to fall into a deep depression. I didn’t like listening to the radio shows and they were destroying my hope and joy. My husband kept telling me how much it meant to him that I listen with him, and I wanted to be submissive and respectful to my husband, so I continued to listen. I also wanted to be on the same page as my husband, and it’s no fun trying to “be one” when you’re on completely different wave lengths spiritually. I sought counsel from my pastor and his wife and they gave me the courage I needed to say, “no,” to my husband so that I could protect what little faith I had left. The more I tried to cling to my belief that the Bible was the absolute, infallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God, the more my husband and I drifted apart.

The Death of a Dream

Growing up, I had this beautiful image in my head of how my life would play out. I dreamed about my wedding day since I was a barefoot, starry-eyed six-year-old. My whole life I’ve dreamed of “happily ever after.” I bought into the myth of the formulaic “perfect Christian marriage” and I thought that as long as I was being a good wife to a good man, we couldn’t possibly have a bad marriage. And I thought I had picked a very, very good, godly man!

When the dust settled, I was terrified to air my dirty laundry. I didn’t want anyone to know that the fairy tale I had longed for my entire life turned out to be a very grim nightmare. For years, I accepted this as my fate and learned to pretend that things weren’t really as bad as they seemed for the sake of keeping up a good façad for those I cared about. I didn’t want them to worry about me and I didn’t want them to think badly of the man I married. I took and still take my sacred marriage vows before God very seriously and so I chose to honor my vows by staying in what was, in hindsight, a very chronically frustrating and unfulfilling relationship. At the time I somehow convinced myself that it wasn’t that bad or that it would get better in time. It was the only way I could keep putting one foot in front of the other without losing my mind. I chose the lesser of two evils: a life of perpetual disappointment and heartbreak rather than separation without sound biblical support.

1 Corinthians 7:13 says that if a husband is not a believer but is willing to live with his wife, she must not divorce him. For years I co-existed with a man in whom I had nothing in common with. A man who said he loved me but wouldn’t provide for me, lied to me about doing drugs, physically, emotionally, and spiritually abused me, and stayed out all hours of the night without answering his phone making me worry about him. In the end, he went chasing after another woman.

Even after I found out about the other woman and the drugs I was still willing to make it work with him if he wanted to make it work with me. I know from friends who’ve gone through similar experiences that living with a recovering drug addict can be a miserable experience but my deep, unconditional love for Mathew could get me through anything.

My husband’s decision to leave me was a scary and confusing time. I grieved the loss of what I had and what could have someday been, but somewhere in the recesses of a dark, unvisited corner in my heart I felt the strange tingling pleasure of relief. I finally had a biblical reason to get out of a bad marriage. I felt absolutely awful about it though, and still feel ashamed that a small part of me was sort of glad that I had been able to break free from the bondage of being tethered to an unbeliever.

“For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

Flying Solo

My friends don’t like it when I refer to myself as a “wreck of a woman.” I don’t feel as though I have anything to offer anyone but broken heart. When will I ever feel whole again? I’ve met so many divorced people lately. Many of them tell me that I will always be “in love” with my husband, I will never fully “get over” him, and I’m probably right now as healed as I’ll ever get. That thought troubles me.

It’s funny how important having a good job is. Never in my life have I worried about money because I never had to take care of myself financially before. As I am typing this I have a 102.3 degree fever and I’m unable to attend work. I get sick maybe about once every other month and it is frightening to have to stay home and worry about how the rent is going to get paid if I’m sick for a few days.

My husband recently called and said he would reconcile if I would give up the Bible. “You’re brainwashed by the church,” he told me. “If you burn your Bible, then I will know you really love me and want to see eye to eye with me.” I see absolutely no hope for a reunion unless he comes back to the Lord, if in fact he was ever the Lord’s to begin with. No matter how desperately I want to be back together with my husband I responded, “Mathew, I love you dearly, but I love God more, and I choose Him.”

I thought my husband was the strongest believer I knew when I first started dating him. Somehow along the way he lost his faith. The Bible says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” For those of you who don’t know what a yoke is, it’s a piece of wood that binds two draft animals together at the neck so that they can work together to till the ground or carry heavy loads. God gave the Israelites special instructions in Deuteronomy not to plow a donkey and ox together. The reason that a donkey shouldn’t be paired with an ox is because the ox will have all of the heavy load on him. The donkey will be dragged alongside in the dirt and continually trying to pull the ox in another direction. A donkey is not the equal partner of an ox.

A Confusing Verse

This verse haunted me ever since my husband left me:

Matthew 5:31-32 says, “Anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”

This verse has always confused me. Why, it isn’t fair! Why should the woman be considered, through no fault of her own, an adulterate? It seems to me that the husband should be considered the adulterate as he violated the holiness of the union, adulterating what was once beautiful and making it unclean and impure.

My pastor offered redemptive solace by helping to explain to me that the Lord does indeed want me to be filled with joy and that I should see this divorce as a blessing because the Lord will bring much good from it. He doesn’t think that verse means my future husband would be an adulterer or that I’m an adulteress. This verse is similar to 1 John 5:10 that says, “Whoever does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.” Obviously God is not a liar; it is against His nature to be anything but truthful. It is as if you were calling God a liar… just as though divorcing a faithful wife is like making her out to be an adulteress.

Hope for the Future

We are now going in to the 11th month of marital separation.  The only reason we haven’t officially divorced yet legally is because it’s $250 to get a quick, easy divorce and my husband hasn’t had a job in 3 and a half years and whatever money he had was spent on drugs. Given the choice between me or him, I really wanted him to divorce me as it is the principle of the thing… I wanted my hands clean of the business. However, it is currently looking like if I don’t divorce him we might be forever in a sort of permanent separation limbo. My pastor says I have biblical grounds for a divorce according to 1 Corinthians 7:15. I was abandoned by an unbeliever and now I am no longer bound. This has been the catalyst of my healing. To be a divorced Christian is to be an anomaly. No one wants that stigma. How do I navigate my way through this uncharted territory? It is incredibly scary. But I trust that God brought me to this so He can bring me through it.

I even have hope that one day I might find a God-fearing man with a passionate desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone who has seen my pinterest lately knows that I have been thinking a lot about the possibility of falling in love again, especially with the recent event of my beloved sister’s engagement.

Shane and Joanna

Shane and Joanna are in love! Check out their wedding website.

Aren’t Shane and Joanna the cutest couple? They both love Jesus and allowed Him to write their love story. I am excited to see where the Lord takes this couple and the amazing things they will do for Him as a team. Seeing these two happy love birds gives me great joy and I pray that the Lord may one day bless me as He has blessed them with each other.