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My head was whirling and drawing in oxygen was growing more difficult with each breath. Did what I just witness actually happen or am I trapped in someone else’s nightmare? How did I end up here sitting on this bus stop bench in Tucson, Arizona next to a complete stranger who is also somehow my husband?

A few minutes ago, a taxi cab pulled up in front of us and a beautiful brunette stepped out wearing a form-fitting business blazer, pencil skirt, and black high heels. I will never forget how she briskly came clickety-clacking up to us in a tizzy. “Excuse me,” she gushed. “I just moved here from Connecticut three days ago and I’m in dire need of some crack rock. Do you know where I might be able to find a dealer?”

I was torn between being excited that I have just met a fellow who is also from Connecticut and feeling pity for this woman who is so addicted to illegal drugs that she risked admitting her sin to the lot of us bus-riding folk, any one of whom could have been an undercover police officer ready to arrest her for the confession. But of course we are simply good citizens who just want to get to work and certainly don’t know anything about…

“Just a moment,” the man who looked exactly like my husband replied. He whipped out a pocket-sized notebook and pen and began jotting down a name and number from memory. He swiftly ripped the piece of paper from the pad and handed it to the well-dressed woman who clutched it to her breast like she had just won the lottery. With tears welling in her eyes, she profusely thanked the man who I thought was my husband only a moment ago. “No problem!” He called out as if he were a knight in shining armor who just saved the day. She stepped back into the taxi and drove off.

Everything was spinning. My own husband, who used to teach Wednesday night Bible study at my church back in Connecticut only two years ago, knows a crack rock dealer’s phone number by heart. Is this real life? Certainly I have wandered onto the set of the wrong movie because I didn’t know my lines or even my part. Wait a minute, who am I?

Now let me see, I know my name is Dannielle and I come from a small conservative farming town in Connecticut where the neighbors are your friends and you can leave your bicycle out in your yard without worrying that someone might steal it. I was raised since infancy in an evangelical Christian church where we were so close I called people Mimi and Uncle who were not my Mimi and Uncle. I was the girl who was saving my first kiss for marriage. I was the girl who, at six years old, knew who would be my bridesmaids and what color they were going to wear as I waltzed down the aisle holding a bouquet of fragrant stargazer lilies which represent purity. I know who I am, but who is my groom? This man, who now appears much thinner to me, is not the man I married.

The man I married wouldn’t have stopped going to church right after the honeymoon. The man I married wouldn’t have hit me six months after the wedding in the truck on the way to Ohio. The man I married wouldn’t have continued hitting me or sat me down and told me he no longer believed in the Bible or Jesus. The man I married wouldn’t have stayed out late at night lying about where he was and who he was with and what he was doing. Things started making sense in my mind as I pieced together the puzzle. The man I married wouldn’t have told me he’s moving to Arizona with or without me… but yet he did. I only followed him here because I was desperately trying to save my marriage. I was in denial about who I married and I was just now seeing clearly.

You see, I come from a community where divorce is not a word in our vocabulary. Divorce was what other people did, not us. When things are broken, you fix them. You don’t throw them away. I had been trying to “fix” my husband for four years and I was just now realizing that it’s impossible to fix people. My loving pastor, in his limited human wisdom, gave me the best biblical advice he knew how at the time: He gave me 1 Peter 3:1 which tells the wife of a husband who is disobedient to God’s Word to win him over without a word by her chaste behavior. I clung to that verse like a life preserver in the middle of a stormy ocean. It was that verse that kept me going when my husband choked me, threw me down the stairs, and even when one night he put a knife to my throat. I knew I could endure the suffering because one day it would all be worth it when I won my husband back to Christ and we both lived happily ever after and rode off into the sunset on white stallions. It was also the verse that allowed me to forgive my husband when he told me he no longer believed I was his soul mate and I found out he had been at another woman’s apartment at 2 am.

I don’t tell you these things to hurt my ex-husband in any way. I wish no ill upon him. I still deeply love him as a human being and I still pray for him. I tell you these things because it’s my story, too, and I have a right to tell it. Yes, he is my ex-husband now because shortly after that day when I discovered he was doing drugs he packed up his belongings and he drove away from me. I had begged him to stay. I had pleaded with him that we could work things out. He could go to drug rehab. We could get marriage counseling. But he didn’t want to fix anything, he just wanted to continue doing drugs without my nagging for him to stop.

That was seven years ago. It feels simultaneously like a lifetime ago, but also like it was just yesterday. I was willing to reconcile with him and I wish a reconciliation were the end of my story, but it’s not. For reconciliation to happen, both people have to be willing to make sacrifices. My husband called about three months after he left and said he’d be willing to reconcile if I would give up the Bible. I really wish I were making this up, but sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. “You’re brainwashed by the church,” he told me. “If you burn your Bible, then I will know you really love me.” It sounds so ridiculous, like a line from a cheesy Christian movie they threw out because no one would believe anyone would actually say it. I told him that while I loved him and wanted to reconcile, I loved God more and I would not be burning my Bible. If he wanted to reconcile with me, he would have to repent of his sins and walk with Jesus Christ again as I believe he once had. Again, I really wish I were making this up, but one time when my dad was organizing some boxes my ex-husband left in my parents’ basement, he found a dark book among his belongings about mind control and manipulation techniques. It could very well be that he was just a wolf in sheep’s clothing the whole time.

For many years, my identity was wrapped around being a wife. So much of my purpose in life was centered on supporting my husband, helping him get better, and “winning him over without a word.” When he left me, I didn’t know what to do with myself or even who I was anymore. I blamed myself for not loving him good enough to win him over to Christ. But you know what? I am not defined by what happened to me and his choices were not my fault. I am a beloved daughter of the one true God, created for good works that He prepared beforehand. Even if my husband changed into a man I didn’t recognize, I still serve a God who never changes and who is always faithful to provide a way of escape. Not a sparrow falls from the sky without His knowing it.

The only time the heroine wins the monster over is in fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast. I learned that I can’t change someone else’s behavior, but I can change how I respond. The blood of Jesus Christ alone has the transforming power to replace hearts of stone with hearts of flesh.

Idols of the Heart

Golden Calf
The story of the Golden Calf is found in Exodus 32:1–6.

Recently, I re-read the story in the Bible when the children of Israel, after having seen the astounding power of God through several miraculous signs and miracles, fashion a golden calf and bow down and worship it. WHY?! Why, after seeing with their own eyes how God delivered them from the ten plagues (which only affected the Egyptians) and then experiencing the marvelous wonder that was the parting of the Red Sea, walking across dry land, and watching Pharaoh’s army drown beneath the waves? How could they turn their back on God and turn to a god of their own making?

Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, written by the finger of God. He was gone for 40 days. Meanwhile, the Israelites were lowkey freaking out because they thought that Moses had deserted them or maybe even died. They hadn’t seen the power of God in a while and maybe they thought God had left them, too. They began to worry what would happen to them without Moses leading them so in their anxiousness, they made a god they could see. That was comfortable for them and familiar to them since they were accustomed to having visual representations of gods when they were in bondage in Egypt for the last 200 years.

Idols of the Heart

We may not physically worship a golden idol in 2020, but how many of us have lost trust in God’s provision and committed the sin of worry just like the Israelites did? Right now, everyone is totally freaking out that they will starve to death or have nothing to wipe their bums because neither toilet paper, napkins, diaper wipes, nor tissues can be found in any store near or far. #CoronaVirus

There is another story in the Bible about a beautiful, elegant woman who gained favor wherever she went due to her extravagant beauty. Her beauty was her power and a man named Jacob fell in love with her at first sight.

Rachel Hides the Idols

The story of Rachel stealing the idols can be found in Genesis 31.

One day, Jacob told Rachel that they were leaving to a far off place. Rachel began to worry about what that might mean. She was moving away from where she grew up, leaving behind her family and everything she knew. She began to panic. What did she do? She went through a lot of trouble to secretly steal her father’s household idols. Then she lied about it and hid them. What does this reveal about Rachel’s heart? She didn’t trust Yahweh to protect and provide for her away from home. She felt she needed the comfort that her father’s idols brought.

Rachel longed with all her being to be a mother. Back then, women did not have much use except to give birth to sons. Rachel had been used to being the favorite her entire life, but now she saw that her sister Leah was gaining all the favor. She said to Jacob, “GIVE ME CHILDREN OR ELSE I’LL DIE!” (As if Jacob were the one in control of her womb.) Jacob’s response was, “What, am I God?” He knew that it was God and only God who opens and closes the womb. Rachel began to feel worthless and her barrenness was an ugliness she could not bear. She sank into deep depression and allowed her desire for motherhood to twist her thinking. She complained and pouted and felt, “Woah is me, it’s not fair.” But even in the midst of her unbelief, God graciously opened Rachel’s womb and gave her a son. Was Rachel thankful?

She named her son Joseph which means “May Jehovah increase.” She wanted MORE. She wasn’t satisfied. Isn’t that the root of idolatry? We aren’t content with what we have. We always want MORE MORE MORE. Rachel thought that having children would bring her the joy she so desperately craved, but once God ended her infertility, she still wasn’t happy.

What Rachel thought would bring her blessing and favor eventually ended up bringing her death. She did end up having another son, but she died in the process of childbirth. Right before she gave up she spirit, she named her son Benoni which means “Son of my Sorrow.” (Jacob ended up changing his name to Benjamin meaning “Son of my Right Hand.”)

rachelbirth

What idols are lurking in the dark corners of my heart? An idol is anything that my heart longs for in order to make my life seem meaningful and happy. An idol is anything I desire other than God that allows me to seem like I am doing alright and everything is going to be okay. An idol is anything I trust in outside of God to give me what I need. An idol is anything that I am willing to sin in order to obtain or anything I do as an act of pouting because I can’t have my way or anything that I seek to bring me which only God can supply. An idol is anything that absorbs my affections and imaginations more than God. An idol is anything I invest my identity in.  For Rachel, her identity was in having children, and she ultimately died for want of it.

“A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living.”

-Tim Keller

How often I find myself utterly frustrated because I haven’t found a job in months. I have experienced rejection after rejection and it’s so easy to apply those rejections to my self-worth and feel less than. I have believed that if I just keep working hard enough, applying to as many positions as I can, then eventually I will reap the benefits of my hard work and finally gain employment. That has not been the case. If I’m operating out of fear or believing that I have the power to manipulate outcomes, then I am not trusting in God alone to provide for my needs. I am making having a job an idol in my heart.

Another idol in my heart is the intense yearning to be a wife and mother. I know that this is supposed to be my sabbatical year, but I have often caught myself saying something like, “If I am never to be married, I hope that I die young, because this cruel life will be too much to bear without someone to love.” It’s all I’ve ever really wanted anyway. I never dreamed of a fancy career, that was always my sister, not me. I just wanted to be a stay-at-home mama and homeschool my kids. I have even turned down perfectly nice gentlemen because they didn’t want a wife who homeschooled.

How can I stop worrying that I’ll never get married? The scarcity of single Christian men is sometimes all I can think about. Worry is TOXIC. It just keeps you busy doing absolutely NOTHING. It blinds us to what God has done for us and how He is working and what He will do in the future… all because we are focusing on our problem and how we are going to solve it. Self-sufficiency disables trust. The Bible says to focus our thoughts above and to seek Him first. Whenever we dwell on a thought, the more we focus on it, and the more it takes over real estate in our brain. We have to replace negative thoughts with truth. Essentially, whatever I am worrying about today is an idol that I must tear down and confess.

Father God, expose the idols in my life that are lying to me and telling me what I need to feel secure and fulfilled. I renounce all covetousness and envy of what other people have. Cut down any idols in my life. Help me not to give my fears and concerns permission to discourage me. You are the Sovereign Lord in control of all things and you have given me every tool to fight against that which tries to steal my peace. I lay down all my burdens at Your feet and I ask You Lord to give me sweet rest. Forgive me for trying to handle things on my own and help me to see my life through Your perspective, not my own. Enable me to be content with the way things are… but I also pray You grant me the desires of my heart. I ask that you conform my desires to what You want for me in this moment. Help me to take this life day by day.  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Fertility Fears & More Sevens

I am reading through the Bible in one year. So far I have kept up faithfully and made up the daily reading the next day if I missed one. I came across something in Genesis that is very poignant as I turn 35 this year, the year doctors say women begin having complications with pregnancy (source).

I noticed that Abraham was 86 when he had Ishmael. He wasn’t worried at all that he wouldn’t be able to have children as this was an acceptable time back in his day to be able to bear children. When Sarah offered her handmaid Hagar at age 76 as a solution to her dilemma, notice that she didn’t say “I am old,” as the reason she couldn’t get pregnant. Instead, she said, “The Lord has prevented me from having children,” because before that she and her husband had been trying to conceive. However, 14 years must have made a huge difference in fertility because then at 100 and 90 years old, Abraham laughs at God telling him that he and Sarah would have a son come next year (Genesis 17:17).

If you read Genesis 11, you will see a long list of people with the age they were at the time of their first child being born and how long they lived after that. Adam had Seth at age 130 and Adam lived to 930. Noah had his first son at 500! Noah lived to 950. There were not that many generations between Noah and Abraham (who lived to 175) but their lifespans started to gradually shorten. My guess is that people noticed the trend of living shorter and shorter lives so they began having children younger and younger.

If you are interested, Noah’s son Shem wasn’t worried about old age because he didn’t have his first son Arpachshad until he was 100. He had many children after that and lived until he was 600 and then died. Arpachshad lived until 411 and had his first son at 35. I must be the biggest Bible dork (besides my friend Valerie who tops them ALL) but I made this chart to visualize the fact that people were increasingly worried about their fertility after the flood.

Name Years Lived Age upon having first child
Shem 600 100
Arpachshad 411 35
Shelah 406 30
Eber 463 34
Peleg 239 30
Reu 239 32
Serug 230 30
Nahor 148 29
Terah 275 70

Now, you can see Terah is living on the wild side and waits until he is 70 before he gives birth to what I can only understand from the text to be triplets: good old Father Abraham (who had many sons) and his two brothers Haran and Nahor (not to be confused with his grandpa Nahor.)

Anyway, all of this to say, that I was already freaking out about 2020 being so soon on the horizon and now it is here. I am still alone and I still have no prospects for marriage. It is probably time I start reconciling myself to never being able to smell the scent of my newborn baby’s skin snuggled against my breast. I want this with every fiber of my being and I cry out to the Lord to be able to experience this before it is too late.

Brianna Wilbur Photography

God bless all the well-meaning people of the world, but if one more person uses Sarah as an example of being able to have children in old age someone is gunna have a broken nose! (Not really but UGH!) She lived during a time when it was laughable that a 90 year old woman might have a baby, but it was still possible. Nowadays, it is possible to have a baby after 45 but very, very, very rare.

I am so incredibly conflicted by Gretchen Louise’s advice not to rush and my very real biological timeline that threatens to derail my future motherhood by my desire to wait for a desirable husband. I will repost her advice here for you.

Advice in the Season of Waiting

1. Don’t rush.

Marriage is not a place at which you will “arrive” but a season which will come in His time.

2. Don’t spend all your time wishing you were married.

Marriage is not the end goal of life.

3. Don’t sit around waiting for your man to come.

Marriage is not your highest calling.”

4. Don’t fall in love.

True love is a plant of slow growth which will be the sweeter for strong roots and a sure foundation.

5. Don’t marry for the sake of marriage alone.

‘Tis better to be single than to wish you were.

6. Don’t rush.

It takes time to prove the mettle of a man, and only time will reveal a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

7. You will marry a sinner.

Open your eyes wide to his faults and think long and hard about whether you want to spend the rest of your life living with those imperfections magnified one hundred-fold.

8. Listen to the counsel of those who know and love you both.

They can see red flags that are invisible from your perspective.

9. Marry a friend.

Most of married life is lived side by side, not face to face.

10. Don’t rush.

You will have the rest of your lives together.

Being married to your best friend is worth the wait.

I know I said I would let 2020 be sabbatical year and I meant it. Joshua had to walk around the city of Jericho 7 days to make those freaking walls come down. If he had given up on the 5th day or the 6th day because the French peas were jeering and taunting him singing “Keep walking, but you won’t knock down our wall. Keep walking, but she isn’t gonna fall! It’s plain to see your brains are very small to think walking will be knocking down our wall.” (Veggie Tales reference!)  I have to have faith that this year I will tear down that stupid wall blocking me from my dreams if I have faith in God and rest in His provision.

Noah was in the stinking ark smelling elephant poop for months. But in the 7th month on the 17th day, the ark finally rested on Mount Ararat. He waited and waited some more until the flood waters went down, wondering if he would be cooped up with crazy apes and complaining family members with cabin fever and claustrophobia forever. He sent out the dove but she came right back, not finding a place to rest. He waited 7 days and sent her out again and she returned with an olive branch in her beak. (Olive trees represent PEACE.) Then Noah waited 7 more days and sent the dove back out again, but this time, she did not return because she found a nice new home in a tree somewhere. I need to have PEACE in my heart that if I just keep waiting, the flood waters I feel I am drowning in will gradually diminish and I will eventually find the future home where I belong.

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!

LITTLEFOXESTHATSPOIL

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.

analyzing

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.

miserablecow

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)

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.

The Truth Will Set You Free

The truth is a gift. The truth will set you free. No matter how hard and scary it is to speak the truth, you must find the courage to get beyond your vulnerability to reveal how you honestly feel. Speak the truth as kindly and gently as possible, but never hide the whole truth. It is the key to living an authentic life that honors God and honors yourself as well.

The truth?

Mathew wants to get back together with me. He has written e-mails stating thus. However, my pastor has talked to him and does not feel that Mathew wants to be reconciled with the right reasons. He feels Mathew only wants a roommate, but not a wife.

The truth?

I am completely open to the possibility of reconciliation, but it can only happen if my husband does a complete 180° in the direction of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He must totally surrender his life to Him and follow Him with all his heart, submitting to the Lord’s headship as the ultimate authority. I care so very deeply for my husband and it hurts that he wants nothing to do with Jesus. A marriage simply cannot work if he is unwilling to yield to God. God is number one in my life and I have nothing in common with a man who does not trust in God. I was willing to try to make it work for years and years, but when he finally abandoned me, it gave me the courage to move on from what was a very abusive marriage in which I was unequally yoked with an unbeliever.

The truth?

I drove to the courthouse to file the papers. The whole way there I listened to Christian music. It was a very difficult road and I almost turned around and went home twice, thinking that I love my husband very much and maybe I could give him one more chance to make some positive changes in his life. When the song by Casting Crowns based on Psalm 103:12 came on the radio, tears streamed down my face during the lyrics “You know just how far the east is from the west… from one scarred hand to the other.” In His great love and grace, Jesus sacrificed his life to remove my sin as far as the east is from the west. He remembers it no more. His compassion and mercy gave me the freedom to continue on the journey to the courthouse and file the papers that have been signed and sitting in my house for months when I did not yet have the bravery to stamp them officially.

It took me another couple months to actually have the papers served to my husband. This morning they were served. I felt a mixture of relief that it is finally done and a little bit of grief that it’s over.

This is my story: I am getting a divorce. I, who am a daughter of the most High King and who hates divorce, yes, I am divorcing my husband. In a way, he already divorced me in his heart two years ago and I’m simply just making it legal.

I never thought this would be my story. I am a stronger woman because of the pain that I’ve experienced and the grace that has set me free. I trust God with my future and I can’t wait to see where He leads me next. I am totally open to Him and ready to go where He guides me.