After 15 years of mediocre Valentines, I now have the perfect one

I don’t know what it is but I could never master one of my favorite holidays. Oh, how I desired love so badly. Maybe this year would be my year as I recalled all of the fights, the pain, and the loveless dates year after year. Hanging onto broken relationships. Going out with complete strangers. Would I ever experience true love?

Last night I went out with my boyfriend to celebrate our first Valentines together. The first time I ever felt truly at peace, truly at home. If you would have asked me last year that I could feel this way, I would have probably rolled my eyes and said you’re crazy. But I hope to give you hope. That maybe you can look at my life and see. See that it’s not always easy, not always perfect. But God is paving a way for something so much better than your wildest dreams. Looking back, I am so glad I didn’t settle something less, for something no where near what I have today.

Age 17: I baby-sat my niece. Try to contain your jealousy.

Age 18: A guy I just wanted to be friends with was ruining things with a new guy I started hanging out with.

 Age 19: So I ended up dating the new guy I started hanging out with. He was my first official boyfriend. It started as just wanting to hang out and quickly progressed, as he was 8 years older. We were in another fight. But somehow I let the flowers and candy left on my doorstep, with sidewalk-chalked hearts drawn all over my driveway and sidewalk, get to me. It’s funny how we equate these gestures to love. And then watch how that feeling of love seems to somehow makes things okay temporarily. If only it actually lasted permanently.

Age 20: A guy I had been flirting with wrote back to me “I have a girlfriend, by the way.”

Age 21: An excerpt from my journal- “There is nobody I like right now. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to find someone that can love as much as I do.”

Age 22: After an awkward friendship/love triangle, I ended up going out with a guy I thought I liked. When we actually tried to date, it didn’t work. Besides, he actually hated Valentine’s Day. So while the idea was nice, I couldn’t really enjoy the reality as much.

Age 23: A new guy ends up coming into the picture. This ends up being the most serious relationship to date. Unfortunately, also a very volatile one. We actually end up going to dinner the day after Valentine’s Day because we were fighting. This marks the beginning of the end.

Age 24: An excerpt from my journal- “Things are going okay (with the same guy I was dating).” At least they were at this point. We would soon break up.

Age 25: Same guy wants to see me later. But I’ve already moved on. I can’t go back to that.

Age 26: I had a secret admirer this year- a huge card, flowers, and candy left outside my house. To this day, I still have no clue who it was.

Age 27: I had been going back and forth with one of the worst manipulators I’ve seen. At this point he wanted to know if we’d be just friends or friends with the potential for more. Life does not have to be this complicated. This was the worst emotional roller coaster I had been on.

Age 28: An excerpt from my journal- “All I did was watch chick flicks and get fat lol.”

Age 29: I went on a first date with a guy. Yes, you read correctly- first date. First time ever really talking and first time meeting in person. We had a bunch of mutual friends in common and thought why not?! We had a nice time. But we both knew nothing would come of it. We’ve never communicated since that night.

Age 30: An excerpt from the journal- “I have no desire to be with someone I really don’t want to be with. #mature”

Age 31: And here I am. Celebrating this special day with the one my soul loves. Maybe I had finally gotten it all out my system. Maybe I finally reached the point where I was fully and completely content with the life God had given me. Done searching for love and choosing to trust God more. Instead of trying to force love with the wrong guys, freeing my time to allow God to bring the right one in. All I can say is wait. Don’t settle. I look back and see all the times I almost did, wanting to make it work because I didn’t know any better. But someone will come along. And they will make you realize exactly why it never felt right with anyone else.

Happy Valentine’s Day! May you feel God’s love more than ever!<3

jamessarahvday

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Love when I was young, wild, and free

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I sometimes wish I were my younger self. Wishing I could love with that same pure and innocent love, from a heart that has never felt pain, never been hurt. Wishing I had made different decisions. Wondering if I made the right choices. The truth is, sometimes I didn’t. I have regrets, made decisions I’m not proud of. And while I wish I could go back and make those decisions over again, I’m learning and seeing how God takes our mistakes, covers them in grace, and makes a way for a beautiful story.

I look back at my life and see how my love has evolved through the years. I look at how I used to be. I remember how innocent, how pure my heart was. I didn’t know pain, I didn’t know hurt. I was so free to love. So giving. Assuming guys would love with the same love I felt. Holding expectations that they had the same morals and values that I did. It never crossed my mind that they could lie, that they could cheat. No thoughts that I was never good enough for them. But the way my love was received told a different story. My love was often not reciprocated. I was met with cruelness, selfishness, and hate. Each experience tweaking my own behavior, my own concept of love.

I watched how these experiences changed me. I wasn’t so quick to love anymore. I began building an unbreakable wall around my heart, afraid to let someone hurt it even more. I became guarded. This allowed me to avoid hurt, but it also allowed me to not give away my love so easily. I’ve protected that love, kept it buried deep inside my heart. And now, now that I’ve met someone worthy, someone deserving of that free and beautiful love, all I have to offer is a scarred, broken, and guarded heart. And I just wish I could love with that same love I had when I was younger. But his patience slowly chisels at the protective wall I’ve built. His love ignites the love I once possessed.

I watch as our love story continues to unravel. Realizing I’ve never loved like this before. Not even close. A deeper love now. A love I didn’t think was possible, a love I didn’t know existed. And I think one of the most beautiful things I’m seeing is how our love relates to God’s love. How God loved us in spite of our brokenness. How God loved us even when we couldn’t love Him back. And how God’s love ignites passions inside of us to love Him and love others with that same love. I’m learning that perfect love isn’t love that’s never been hurt or never been broken. Perfect love is one that sees all of our brokenness and loves us even more.

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The familiarity of your flaws

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I wanted to go back to you. Even though I knew you weren’t good for me, I had convinced myself that something was better than nothing. That dysfunctional love, which in reality was hate, was somehow better than being alone.

Another break-up and I’m left comparing. Left alone. Left to wonder.

Your flaws, I started to excuse them. Was I asking too much? Was I being too picky? Maybe you weren’t that controlling, I did enjoy flirting. Maybe your anger was justified, because I did mess up at times. Maybe you weren’t that negative, you were under a lot of pressure at work. Maybe you really did love me, even though I knew you didn’t.

A lot of maybes in a world of uncertainty. A lot of excuses because I craved any hint of love.

For some reason I’ve always remembered the good times, the bad times seem to have been erased from my memory. My journal reminds me of the pain when my mind seeks to deceive me. It’s not in an effort to hold onto bitterness but rather to live in reality.

But ‘what ifs’ come flooding in. What if we were at a different place in life? What if our parents hadn’t been so involved? What if we hadn’t rushed everything? What ifs can send us down an alternate reality that steals the blessings God has placed right in front of us. What ifs symbolize things that didn’t happen. Things we perhaps wish would have. Things we think would have made everything better.

But these didn’t happen moments are what brought us to where we are today. Thankfully, my desire to go back to you was met with my desire to believe I deserved something more. My desire to trust God more than myself. To trust He had something better than my limited view could see.

The familiarity of your flaws led me to believe I was somehow safe. But the truth is, I never felt safe with you. What is safe about the predictability of unpredictability? And while it’s sometimes scary in a world of unknown flaws, I am left with one thing I never had with you- hope.

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Modest is [NOT] hottest

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We grow up in church hearing modest is hottest in an attempt to encourage young girls to cover up in a world that screams “take it off.” Should this really be our aim? Our goal should not be to be called “hot.” Google the word. Sexually excited or receptive. Sexual attraction. Attractiveness on the basis of sexual desire. These are the definitions that come up. Are these the thoughts, the actions, the behaviors you hope your body, your life, your pictures bring out in others?

In this generation, the hottest, most popular girls are the ones who are, most likely, showing more than enough skin. Society glorifies this behavior instead of correcting it. And then we wonder why girls think beauty is defined by the way their body looks & how guys react to it.

Scroll through your newsfeed and you will find an abundance of girls posting immodest pictures. Skin. Seductive looks. These are beautiful girls. But you know what they are doing. They are seeking attention and I think we are all guilty of this to some degree. “Look at me.” “Validate me.” “Tell me I’m worth something.” There is a difference between the cute pictures and the sexy ones. You see so many beautiful women posting sensual pictures and then you see the thousands of guys who like them. Some of whom are Christians. All you are doing is encouraging this behavior. Encouraging women to post pictures that elicit sexual desires instead of purity, goodness, and respect.

If a guy really loves you, he will love all the cute things God has wired within you. Your personality, character, and all the adorable quirks & charms that make you, you. You don’t want a guy wanting you just for your body because then he truly doesn’t see you for anything special. And that can be a hard pill to swallow. Especially after we invested so much time into using our body to attract him.

Sometimes these truths are easier said than done. You want to be the “good girl” and you want to do what’s right but you start to wonder if you are enough. You get overlooked. Passed over. And you wonder if it’s worth it and if you should compromise just a little. Where is the line? Just remember, our worth comes from who we are in Christ, not from what some man thinks of us. You are not your body and you know it. And I think you know deep down if that’s how you have to get a guy, then you don’t want him. Your future husband is worth it too. The guy you’re looking for isn’t like that. He wouldn’t encourage women to be that way. Rather, he’d love them and encourage them to love and respect themselves. When God puts the right guy in your path, he will love you for all the right reasons and in all the right ways.

So what we should be striving to be called instead? Modesty is not hot; it’s beautiful, it’s pure, it’s cute, it’s pretty. It allows others to see beyond your body and into your soul. Your beautiful soul.

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The movie “Me Before You” certainly lives up to its name

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I had wanted to see this movie ever since it came out in theaters. Though confused by the name, I thought it to be another romantic love story. Perhaps another cheesy chick flick. But wouldn’t “You Before Me” be more appropriate? Unfortunately not with this film, as the underlying tones promote selfishness masked in a smoke screen of selflessness.

Clarke is a young girl looking to help her family make ends meet. By society’s standards, I’d say she already had a somewhat normal boyfriend, Patrick. But then Will came into the picture. Will was the total package having money, fame, success, and good looks. His life drastically changed when he became paralyzed from a car accident two years prior though. His girlfriend, his best friends fizzled out. Clarke meets Will when she gets a job being his caretaker and through time, a deep love begins to form.

They bring a new level of excitement to each other’s lives. A deeper love they didn’t think was possible. So many are alive but never really live. Clarke quickly became the reason Will woke up every morning. Though he couldn’t do the things he once did, he was feeling the things he’s never felt before. However, he couldn’t get over the fact that he couldn’t be who he wanted to be anymore, who he once was. His value came not in his capacity to love but in his ability to perform. And it was this thinking that led him to believe he couldn’t give all he felt Clarke deserved. But if he only would have known what she needed all along… What she really desired… What made her really feel alive… Will chose suicide. Some may only dream of experiencing the type of love Will and Clarke had and yet, Will threw it away. Will didn’t see how Clarke felt; he saw a life he didn’t want to live. He didn’t just rob himself of love. He also took it away from Clarke.

What is love? Will says he wants Clarke to go live her life, now with money and the freedom to chase after her dreams. But what he fails to see, what he fails to mention is that a life without love is no life at all. What makes us alive, what makes this life worth living is one full of love, which is the only thing that can lead to true happiness, to true joy. You see, Clarke may go through life without a care in the world in terms of money and freedom. She may chase her dreams. But her life will never feel more alive than when she loved and felt love from Will. Love understands how rare that loves comes around. Love understands that’s all this life is really about. Love says “you before me.”

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I can make the bad guys good for a weekend

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And so can you. But is that really what you want?

He will go to church with you.
He will do some cute devotionals with you.
Pray with you.
He will wait to have sex after marriage.
Whatever you desire spiritually.

But the key word here is “you,” not him. Not what he truly wants or desires. Been there, done that. You do not want to know what I’ve tried to make work. But he wants us so isn’t that good enough? I wish it was but that never works long term. There are too many internal struggles and a whole lot of resentment. God’s grace and a changed heart are the only times I have seen it work out and there were many problems in between. Respect for him is what is lacking and respect is what we want most.

I was listening to the radio and people were calling in to say what changed about their spouse once they got married and the only two mentioned had to do with a wife (now ex-wife) not realizing how religious her husband was prior to them getting married (she says he changed) and another saying after getting married to her husband in a catholic church and him attending church with her while they were dating, she found out he was atheist. Who do we blame? Is someone really at fault?

We either dumb down our faith for the sake of who we think we want to be with or our partner will amuse us by doing, attending, thinking, saying what it is they think we want. I wish I was immune to this fatal trap. An amazing personality, good looks, intellect… They intrigue me and I convince myself they probably have a good heart deep down. And maybe they do. But that doesn’t mean they are the one for me. And it doesn’t mean they are the one for you. I think there is something empowering about feeling like we impacted a guy. They changed their ways because of us. This is how we can quickly become the cause of our own destruction. Because at the end of the day, while you may make the bad guys good for a weekend, they are still bad guys.

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If it aint love why does it feel so good

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Jason Derulo’s popular, catchy song I caught myself dancing to until I decided to look up the lyrics. Describing how her body is a blessing and questioning how something could feel so good if isn’t love. Another by Selena Gomez exonerating that she can’t keep her hands to herself over and over again, only to hit the point of truth “I mean, I could but why would I want to?”

This is our culture. This is society today.

I’ll tell you why it feels so good, because sin feels good. I’ll tell you why you’d want to, because sin feels good only temporarily because sin isn’t good. Sexual sins feel good until you spend time alone with your thoughts and emotions, realizing the love you long for isn’t there. Gluttony feels good until you don’t recognize yourself anymore. Addiction feels good until you realize instead of controlling your next fix it’s controlling you. Lying feels good until you forget what truth is. Stealing feels good until you realize you don’t even want what you stole. Even murder feels good until you’ve realized you’ve already lost your soul.

Several things feel good in our instant gratification society. In a culture of promotion of self-love, we are taught to seek our own happiness. The problem with this is we don’t know what real happiness is. And even more disturbing is the fact that the cost to others doesn’t even seem to be considered.

Colossians 3:5-6So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.  Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.”

One thing I’ve learned as I’ve grown in my relationship with God is that God desires what is best for His children. He doesn’t give us these scriptures to harm us but to help us. He warns us against:

Sexual immorality, not sex within the confines of marriage
Impurity, not purity
Lust, not love
Evil desires, not good ones

God hasn’t made harmful things. The world has twisted and distorted the good things He has created only to put them where they don’t belong. And then we wonder why we live in a world of heartbreak and loneliness.

I think if we really thought about it, we’d realize the ones that truly love us are the ones that see beyond their feelings. The ones that see us before themselves. Ones that desire to keep us pure. People that are not looking to use our body to fulfill their immediate desires, but are looking to protect our bodies until the day they are able to commit and love us fully for the rest of our lives. If it truly is love, I pray we show that in our actions that reach beyond simple feelings of self-satisfaction.

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