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

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Beware of the Little Foxes

Men are getting bolder these days but have less tact than they used to. (In my experience anyway.) Allow me to share some actual quotes from men to me the past couple weeks:

“Is it wrong that I want to grab your booty?”

“You are very attractive and I wish I could give you my heart and love the hell out of you. I want to be intimate with your mind and make love to you.”

“You have a nice booty though. A classy little booty. I am taking you out on a date. We would be making out like no other getting the windows steamy like in high school.”

“That dress makes you look like you got back.” (I got so mad I yelled at him, “If you love my butt so much, why don’t you marry it!?”)

If you are reading this right now and happened to make one of the above comments, I forgive you. Truly I do. It’s in the past and I’m moving on from this… but at the time when you said it, it made me feel like a piece of meat. Please consider thinking before you speak. If you wouldn’t say it to your sister or your mom, you probably shouldn’t say it to your friend.

All of these were spoken or written by men I consider friends. I have known since childhood that “friend” is such a strong word. “A friend loves at all times,” (Proverbs 17:17) was my favorite verse and I even had it on matching bracelets with my best friend. Recently I’ve been reminded that I need to stop throwing that word “friend” around so much with people. A true friend honors, respects, and loves you… he doesn’t make you feel like you’re just a piece of meat.

Why do men treat us like this? It’s probably because we’ve let them. We don’t call them out. We continue to let them make comments like this. Don’t get me wrong, I like when men are forward. (Saves me so much time trying to figure out if they are interested or not.) But I don’t appreciate it when a man who only considers me a friend and has no intentions of pursuing long-term romance says something sexual to me. I don’t appreciate it when I’ve already told a man I’m not interested but he doesn’t cease to pursue me. PLEASE, for the love of all things good, keep your comments about my body and what you want to do to me to yourself… unless you’re my husband. In that case, by all means, talk dirty to me!

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I’ve been thinking about what I allow in my life. My vineyards are blooming with tender grapes but I’ve let the little foxes in. I’ve put myself in positions where men exploited the situation for their own benefit because I was lonely and misplaced my trust. I put my foot down! I want genuine love.  From this day forward, I am going to call men out when they make comments like this every single time. Why yes, I DO want to make out until the windows go foggy and I DO want a man to squeeze my butt. But I don’t want a shadow of the real thing… I want to be cherished and treasured and adored until death do us part.

The realization hit me that I was beginning to lose faith that I would ever find this person to love me completely and wholeheartedly. Well, just look at how the men in my life treat me!

Perhaps someone you love betrayed you. Someone you trusted abandoned you or was unfaithful to you. Someone you believed would protect you hurt you. Someone you considered a friend made you feel objectified. As life drifts by and we encounter heartbreak after heartbreak, we begin to lose faith that love of any kind is real.

When people let me down I just remember that God’s love will never fail me. We have to mentally separate our experience with people from our idea of God. God is NOT human. We can’t let our relationship with God be tainted or distorted by comparing it with friendships or relationships with people who have let us down, disappointed us, and rejected us. God doesn’t lie. He never breaks a promise. And He doesn’t ever leave us. He is holy and perfect. He is loyal and true. He is always good and always kind. His love is unmeasurable and incomparible to any love we’ve ever known on Earth.

Set God apart in your heart because He is not like any other. Humans fail. We just do. That’s our inevitable nature. But God loves us so extravagantly and eternally and He will never break our heart.

The Devil is a LIAR!

April 3rd marked four years of being single. I have been officially single as long as I’ve been married. To commemorate this occasion I had to write another blog entry.

So many of my posts lately have the theme of “love yourself,” like this one here for instance.

There is something I realized about self-esteem: it’s a positive thing in theory to have confidence in your own worth but the devil loves to distort good things because he’s in the business of deception.

I apologize for being part of the problem when our culture lies to us and tells us we need to “love ourselves.”

Don’t get me wrong, we do have inherent value but it’s not because we’ve bestowed it upon ourselves. It’s not even because we’ve reminded ourselves of our intrinsic worth in God’s eyes.

If we go purely based on what God says in His Word, we are extremely precious (Matthew 6:25-34, Luke 12:6-7) because we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-16)  in His image (Genesis 1:27) for a beautiful purpose (Ephesians 2:10, Jeremiah 29:11) and dearly loved by Him (Romans 5:8, Romans 8:32, John 3:16).

We can stand in the mirror all day and recite self affirmations, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” Doing this every day when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed might even give you a strong sense of being loved, but this is not the way to truly experience the fullness of God’s love.

Yes, I do love myself, maybe even so much that one might say it borders on pride. (The negative kind.) My pride was brought down a peg or two when my good friend Jamie helped me to realize that I had been listening to the devil’s lies again. See, the devil likes to attack us where we are strong. I happen to have a lot of self confidence so the devil decided to twist this and use it against me.

After a series of dates with men who are not my spiritual equal I was beginning to feel a little puffed up. (I guess I felt like it was better than feeling chronically frustrated and disappointed.) I mean, it’s hard not have your ego stroked when a guy tells you, “You are an amazing person… I consider myself Christian and live Christian values but obviously I’m not at the same level you are with your devotion.” This has happened to me countless times that it’s starting to become a theme. I’m truly grateful that they notice this and tell me right away because I’m not really good with that whole thing… it sounds pretty judgemental to say “we’re not on the same level” doesn’t it?

One day I woke up and just started feeling sorry for myself. I heard the devil say, “You’re so unique, you’re not ever going to find anyone who is compatible with you. You’re a freak anomaly… even if you did find someone as weird and quirky as you, what are the chances you’d be like-minded? I sat on the pity pot all day and thought about why I’m alone and why I’ll probably always be alone.

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Then my best friend posted this on her Facebook wall and it gave me a swift kick in the pants. I realized my “woe is me” attitude problem was a serious pride problem, too.

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The Bible says no one really hates their own body but nourishes and cherishes it (Ephesians 5:29). We are deeply sensitive to our own needs and feelings and constantly aware of how other people affect us. The reason we are so easily hurt is because we want to be accepted and treated with respect and admiration. If we didn’t care about ourselves then we wouldn’t care if people rejected, neglected, and abused us. No, we do not need to love ourselves… that is an innate, natural thing to do. What we really need to do is DENY OURSELVES. 

Jesus said that “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). He also said if you are unwilling to do this then you are not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:28).

Our problem is not that we have poor self-image… it’s that we have a poor image of who God is. Our need is not to love ourselves more but to accept His incredible love for us. We need to give up any idea of what we think we’re here on Earth to do and submit to His plan for our lives. When we abide in His love then we stop focusing on ourselves and instead we begin to shower His love on others instinctively.

I believe it is our pride and selfishness that keeps us from having an intimate relationship with God. Jesus said these chilling words in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.'” 

I say these things because I feel compelled to. I know I won’t be Miss Popular for saying this but the Christian life is not easy. Many people choose the highway to Hell but the gateway to life is very narrow and only a few ever find it (Matthew 7:14).

“As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.” (Galatians 6:14)

My prayer for you all who have stuck it out and are still reading this blog entry (thank you, btw) is that you would know how truly, madly, deeply loved you are. Only with the correct view of God’s love will you ever begin to even scratch the surface in understanding how precious you are. I pray you will know that you are worthy of great love and that you wouldn’t be afraid to open your heart to receive it. No one is really afraid of love… people are afraid of rejection, betrayal, and abandonment. But in Christ there is only complete acceptance and faithfulness. I pray you would have confidence in God’s love. He will never let you down and He will never leave you. There is no want to those who trust Him and those who seek Him will lack no good thing. Taste and see that the LORD is good! (Psalm 34:8-10) Not only is He good, but He is ready to forgive and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Him. (Psalm 86:5)

“But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know Me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 9:24)

Over Overthinking

If you’re anything like me, you tend to overanalyze every little detail, emotion, and possible connection.

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It’s exhausting and unnecessary, but it’s also a sin. Yup. Overthinking is just the polite, grown-up way of saying “worrying.”

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

Worrying keeps up from experiencing the full life of joy God has planned for us because we’re too busy overanalyzing all the minutiae.  Worrying just keeps us busy doing a lot of nothing. This distraction is a tool of the enemy to keep us from our God-given purpose.

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There’s nothing wrong with questioning the status quo but we need to remind ourselves of the truth, which will set us free.  If you feel anxious or upset due to racing thoughts, you know they are not from the Lord beause He is a God of peace.  There is no fear in love.

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Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)

You gave me feelings I never knew
And I don’t know why
What should I do?
What should I say?
Why’s this bothering me?

Mixed Signals 

He likes me. I think. I’m almost certain. There were all these SIGNS. 
Do you find yourself questioning your sanity as you play Sherlock Holmes piecing together all the clues that point to the ultimate conclusion that he does, in fact, like you? Yup. We’ve all done it. We want it SO BAD that our feelings blind us to the truth that he is just not that interested romantically.
You should hear what he says to me!
♥  When someone we greatly admire says certain words to us or performs kind gestures for us we twist it in our mind to mean more than it means.  
♥ It’s so easy to see what we want to see when we want to see it bad enough.
Oh, but he DOES like me!!! It’s so obvious. 
♥ Perhaps he does. But it’s not a romantic kind of love if he isn’t making his intentions clear. He might, indeed, be interested in you… as a friend.
He TOLD ME he likes me. Why won’t he commit? 
♥ Indecision is a decision. If he isn’t taking action, he’s still pondering his other possibilities or he’s simply not ready for a commitment.
♥ Romantic interest sprouts easily… maturity takes time to grow and blossom.
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Do you know why he likes you? Cuz you’re freaking awesome, that’s why. Who wouldn’t like you!? But if he isn’t mature enough to pursue you romantically, let him go. There’s no sense in wasting time wondering why he won’t commit. Don’t let it distract you from what you need to be doing. Keep on keeping on. You need to guard your heart and protect it from getting entangled with the wrong person. And yes, he IS the wrong person if he’s not willing to commit. Don’t deceive yourself by misinterpretting his signals. Protect your heart. If a man truly loves you, he will go after your heart with all that is within his being.
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Put your hope and trust in a man, and he will hurt you. But place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ and you can rest securely in His unfailing love. His love will never disappoint and never betray you.  When you find your worth in His love, you will gain a deeper knowledge of who you really are… you are His… beloved and cherished. Abiding in His love equips you to become who you truly are and to embrace that identity. 
Human love can bring joy and happiness but God’s love is the most fulfilling love in the world. Talk to God. Give Him your concerns and He’ll give you peace. 

Heartbreak

So much has happened! I dated the gentleman from the previous entry for about a month.

Our relationship is incredibly easy. We get along like two peas in a pod. He has many fine qualities I am looking for in my future husband. I enjoy his company immensely and think highly of him. We remain very good friends but decided it wasn’t going to work romantically because I wasn’t feeling what I needed to feel on my end. He’s still in my life and I still care very deeply for him. I have nothing but positive things to say about him. The only thing missing was that X-factor… that intangible essence some people call chemistry.

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Then I got myself into a long distance relationship that had chemistry off the charts. Literally, we both stopped dead in our tracks when we saw each other and felt instantaneously attracted to one another. It turns out we both had tons in common and most of our values, beliefs, and future goals lined up perfectly. How often do two people gravitate toward one another with intense enthrallment? After only one hour of talking to one another when we first met he asked me to be his girlfriend. That’s never happened to me before and I thought, “Well, I’ve tried everything else, what have I got to lose? I might as well see what happens.”

On his way to come visit me for a couple days from New Mexico, he got into a car accident and had to go to the hospital. Our time together was canceled while he recuperated. When he was healing, he did a lot of evaluating and praying. If he was really ready for a girlfriend with his busy lifestyle, if he was ready for a long distance relationship especially since his love language is physical touch, and if he could handle a woman like me with such a larger than life personality.

He didn’t call me for more than 50 hours after I texted that it was VERY important to me that we have a conversation at his earliest convenience. Those 50 hours felt like the most torturous wait. The longer I waited the more I realized I can’t be with someone who didn’t respect me enough to send a little text saying something like, “Hey Babe, I haven’t forgotten about you, you’re important to me but I’m a little tied up at the moment but I promise to call you at such and such a time.” Instead it was dead silence for two long days.

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The waiting to talk to him for me was exhausting and all the talking to me was exhausting for him and so we both chalked it up to a difference in personality types and relationship styles. We mutually agreed to remain friends and, in his words, “See what happens in the future.” I’m so incredibly disappointed because I haven’t been that attracted to a person in a very long time. I was fire and he was ice and together it was an explosion of awesome because we were completely opposite.

It could have been something beautiful but it was not to be.

I think it is going to take a VERY special person to deal with my fiercely passionate nature. Some men just aren’t ready for this jelly what can I say? Haha

Who does God have in mind for me? I have no idea. I feel like I will recognize him when I see him because I know exactly what I’m looking for. I thought this man could possibly be the one. We seemed to jive so well. I tossed out the proverbial fleece so-to-speak and asked God to make it wet with dew while the ground remained dry.

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But maybe God’s answer to that prayer was to allow the car accident because He may have been protecting me from something that wasn’t supposed to happen? Have you ever seen the movie “The Adjustment Bureau?” You know how one little kiss sealed their fate as lifelong lovers? Maybe this man coming to visit me would be the incident that began the road to a destiny God did not have in His plan.

I will say this to comfort myself in these times that try the soul. (*Said in Anne of Green Gable’s voice*)

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.

When God Speaks

When we are praying, how can we know a message is from God or just our own thoughts telling us what we want to hear? There’s an old joke: When you talk to God, we call it prayer, but when God talks to you, we call it schizophrenia.

The featured image for this post comes from the Bible story in Samuel 3 when Samuel’s name is repeatedly being called in the night and he finally answers the third time, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

I do not doubt that God speaks to us today as He spoke to Abraham, Moses, Job, and Samuel, I just think it’s a rare occurrence (even though according to to a Gallup poll, 23% of Americans reported hearing a voice or seeing a vision as a response to prayer.) I can only think of one time in my life that I believe a message was truly from God and it was when I was at rock bottom at 16, feeling like I didn’t want to live anymore and God whispered to me, “I have big plans for you.”

Recently my crush told me that God said “no” to dating me.

If God said “no” then God said “no” and so that’s the end of the story. God didn’t give a reason but as my crush so eloquently and firmly declared, “We have some serious problems if that’s not enough,” which was so damn sexy because SPIRITUAL LEADER PUTTING HIS FOOT DOWN. *RAWR.*

Once upon a time a man told me that God told him he would spend the rest of his life with me. I was speechless. Here was a man who I believed at the time to be a righteous and God-fearing follower of Christ. Surely if God told him he would marry me then never mind the fact that God didn’t give me the same message. Who am I to argue with God?

As it turns out, that man was wrong because if God had really meant for me to spend the rest of my life with him, he never would have abandoned me. Right? So forgive me if I’m a teeny bit skeptical of when people tell me God told them something, especially if it involves me.

I always ask this married couple at my church to tell me their love story because I love hearing it over and over. I can see God’s hand in every aspect of their relationship and one can almost be certain God meant for these two to be united as husband and wife. The husband was madly in love with an unbeliever. He kept asking God to take away his desire for her but every day he only loved her more. He couldn’t understand why he felt so strongly because women who smoked, cussed and were hardcore atheists were the most unattractive women to him and yet here was a woman he couldn’t stop daydreaming about. He had a nasty past before he became a believer and one day he was crying out to God and demanding to know why He wouldn’t save this woman. “You forgave my sins and they were even worse than hers. Why won’t you forgive hers?” Suddenly, in his mind’s eye, he kept seeing an image of himself pulling an index card out of a cup of Bible verses in the middle of the table and so he pulled one out. It was Isaiah 43:25 which says “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Except this verse was in Spanish and it could be read in the third person as “her” instead of “your.”) He fell to his knees and sobbed. Was it a coincidence that this exact verse was written by his mother on chalk board in the kitchen earlier that day? Eventually, his wife did realize her need for a Savior. She describes her conversation as an irresistible pull on her heart that made her see the love and grace of Jesus Christ and she couldn’t refuse. 

Another story involves my friend who recently had a dream where God revealed her future husband to her. Whenever she tells someone about the dream she had she says the Holy Spirit jumps inside her. She asked her pastor whether he believed the dream was from God and he confirmed that the man in question had been speaking fondly of her to him. I don’t know whether this dream came from God or was just a product of brain activity during a normal REM cycle, but I guess we’ll find out in time.

TIME. That really is the answer, isn’t it? True love requires committing time to really know a person. Two people have to feel comfortable enough to be openly honest with one another, vulnerable enough to expose themselves to one another, and after knowing all their dark and beautiful  idiosyncrasies, accepting them and choosing to love.

So I will just keep praying for peace about God’s decision and keep asking God to take away the feelings that shouldn’t be there because it isn’t God’s will. After all, I can’t move forward in any relationships with anyone else when my heart is all wrapped up in someone I can’t have.  Because of the nature of my work, I have very little free time to spend with others and so I need to be careful about which ones I give my time to. I’ve already eliminated many possibilities due to red flags such as a lack of respect for Hebrews 10:25 and Hebrews 13:4 and even a disagreement with “happy wife, happy life.” (Deuteronomy 24:5 supports that saying by the way!)

I guess since God is being silent about the matter the only thing I really have to go on at this point is feelings. I believe feelings are neither good nor bad, they are simply our response to information and personal experience. Feelings are legitimate and must be acknowledged and understood so that they can be expressed in healthy ways. While no one is ever wrong to feel a certain way, the information one is reacting to may not be accurate or their interpretation of information may be a misunderstanding. Therefore, before a feeling is shared with others, it must be balanced against the Truth of scripture and be in harmony with facts.

My feelings tell me nothing right now except obey God and focus on being the best foster mother I can be.

Wednesday night Bible study is going to focus on God’s will and how we can know it so I’m pumped for next week!