Why I’ve never been a fan of “The Five Love Languages”

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I’ve sat on the post for years now. Trying to figure out what it is exactly I don’t like about this book, what bothered me so much about the concept behind this idea. And if I could sum up my thoughts into one sentence it would be this:

I think it’s a cheat book that doesn’t actually allow you to experience the full intimacy of real love.

Now that’s a pretty bold statement for a book with the tagline “The secret to love that lasts.” I didn’t come to this conclusion lightly. I wanted to like the book, especially as a relationship blogger, especially as a Christian. I kept reading and reading and couldn’t help but feel something was missing, something was just off.

You can’t work your way to love. Actions are the result of love, not the other way around. Sure, you can choose to do nice things for someone but we can’t assume the root is always love.

Actions are a choice. Love is not.

As I read the book, I started to notice a common theme of doing all things mentioned with whoever I was dating at the time. I was excited to. I looked for opportunities to do each one.

Words of affirmation.
Gifts.
Physical touch.
Quality time.
Acts of service.

I did these because I love. I watch and observe. I notice little things. And I started to pick up on what he liked best. I think that’s what made it more special, honestly. Not that he had to tell me but that I cared to notice. You see, love and hurry don’t mix. Yet, this is what we’ve become accustomed to knowing, to doing.

When the Bible speaks of love, patient is the first attribute mentioned.

However, we live in a world of hurry. Efficiency. How can we get there quicker, faster, sooner.

We hurry with God.
We hurry with our spouse.
We hurry in our relationships.

The result is lost intimacy and counterfeit love.

I don’t want a cheat book. I want to figure it out on my own. I want to figure you out on my own. Isn’t that part of the fun?! I want someone to intentionally get to know me because they love me and want to know everything about me.

Not she told me she likes gifts so I will give her gifts. Or I will make time for him because that’s his love language. It’s not the gifts we are after, the time, the acts, the touch, the words… No, it’s the heart. A heart that’s full of love. That manifests itself through these common avenues. We chase these areas because they give us some glimmer of hope, perhaps a spark of love that satisfies us for a moment. But true love, real love is so much more, something so much deeper.

When real love hits, it’s not as complicated as we make it out to be. We won’t be chasing bandaid approaches that have a way of masking what is otherwise a loveless relationship, hanging by a thread. No, when you find love from the Creator of love, you won’t be able to help but love. Something changes. Your default changes. And all these tools and assessments will simply fall short when compared it.

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Is singleness really a gift?

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I used to view singleness as a season, rather than a gift. When you view it as a season, you see it as a period of time to get through, perhaps enjoy, but a season that will definitely end nonetheless. We focus on the duration of the season, leading us to never realize what the gift of singleness actually means, what it really offers.

We get caught up on the superficial benefits of singleness that we unintentionally miss the spiritual growth awaiting us. We interchange singleness and independence quite often. For me, it’s been a time to focus on education, career, and being free and flexible to go wherever God calls, with little concern for another human being. But when married, you have to now consider your spouse, and once you have kids, them as well. Is this perhaps what Paul was referring to when he stated it is better to remain single in 1 Corinthians 7?

Can I say yes and no- what about maybe partially? It’s been hard for me to reconcile that would be all he meant- that you can’t do what you want fully because you have others to think about now. Because I’d argue with the right spouse, it would perhaps be easier to pursue your calling than it would if you were single. I have to believe it has more to do with our spiritual state and our relationship with God and less to do with our calling and what we are to accomplish here on Earth. I think he was referencing a level higher than we are accustomed to viewing.

As we focus on God, not just because we are supposed to but because we want to, things begin to change. This process has evolved for me. It’s like when you build a relationship with anyone; you enjoy getting to know that person and spending time with them- the more you learn, the more you know, the more in love you fall. I think I’ve just recently begun a process of experiencing God in a new light.

Not that my relationship with God in the past was bad, it just wasn’t as deep.

And when it’s not as deep, I think it’s easier for world to compete- for us to slide in and out of the world, for our priorities to become tangled, for our vision to become blurred. These were the times I struggled most with my singleness- the more my early 20’s grew into my late 20’s. The times I just knew marriage was in my cards because why would God keep anything good from me if He loved me? Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart, right?

My relationship with God very real at this time but perhaps more immature than I’d like to admit.

It’s hard to know what you don’t know at this time, but I’ve always pressed forward knowing God has a plan and that He loves me. I’ve never doubted that. And I think that’s what’s helped me to remain faithful.

Choosing to live more by what I know to be true and less by what I understand at the time.

But I’m just now realizing what a gift singleness has been for me personally. I’m at a different point in my life right now- a new point- where things are just different. My desires have shifted drastically- marriage and family desires perhaps still there in the background but an overwhelming desire to experience God deeper- trumping everything else in my life.

I crave it.
Crave Him.
Talking to Him.
Seeing what He does throughout the day.
Watching what He does through me.
What He allows me to do.
How He allows me to experience Him.

My love for Him has been what’s fueled my desire to “do” for Him, that I’ve only recently began grasp how much more He desires simply to “be” with ME!

He yearns for me. Longs for me. Where I’ve known He loves me, this is so much more. It fills me in ways I can’t begin to describe. There are no words. I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to experience the spiritual growth I have been lately without this time. How would I know I love Him more than everything I thought I always wanted if He had already given it all to me? He’s changed my desires and longings away from the things the world offers and more for eternal things- more for Him.

It’s not that singleness is a gift for us to be selfish and do what we want; it’s that singleness is uninterrupted time in our lives to spend with our Savior. To spend time with Him. Grow in Him. And fall more in love with Him. And for me, I don’t really know what could be a better gift than that.

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Be the day date, not the late night text

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I would describe myself as a nosy person. Always watching, observing, putting myself into situations I probably shouldn’t be in. Eavesdropping at the table next to me, telling the person I’m with to be quiet. Quietly observing the couple across the room to see how their first date is going. And awkwardly walking way too close to individuals sometimes. In addition to these observations, I have spent numerous hours helping people try and navigate whether or not someone is interested in them. Within these contexts, you begin to discover certain trends, how people operate, and even start to follow their thought process. I think sometimes we want to believe someone likes us, even when we know better.

We call any attention, good attention. Get hopeful. Get excited. “At least I’m on their mind.” “At least I’m attractive.” “At least I have something to offer that they like.” We downplay our strengths and start to compromise in areas we shouldn’t. We become a pro at making excuses for how others treat us. For what we allow.

This is just the world we live in today.
If you aren’t giving it to him, someone else will.
I have to go after what I want.
I can win her over- I like a challenge.
They aren’t sure yet, but I’ll make them sure.
Once they get to know me more, they’ll like me.
No one is perfect.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the late night text reaches our inbox for a reason. Someone is looking to boost his or her ego. They want your validation when the person they really wanted didn’t value them at all. They took a hit and are now doing whatever they can to make sure it doesn’t knock them down. They are afraid to talk to the one they are really interested in because they fear rejection so they reach out to the one they know will respond instead.

So be honest with yourself-

Are they keeping their options open?
Are they pursuing you without wanting a label?
Where do you fall on their priority list?
Are you part of their plans or do you they stop by and see you after?
Are you compromising in your physical boundaries?
Do you just hear from them when they are lonely?

And probably, most importantly, how does that person make you feel?

Because I think if we are really honest with ourselves, we know when we are being treated poorly, when we aren’t really valued. And over time, that begins to take its toll on our own self-worth, on how much we even value ourselves. We will slowly forget, that we are worth more than a late night text, more than a meet-up only when it’s convenient, more than the bones they keep throwing at us. We forget that there are still people out there who desire to show us to the world. Ones that want to show us off. People not only willing to make the effort, but ones that want to. Someone that values our character more than our sex appeal. Someone that likes us for who we are, not just how we make them feel.

So be with someone that is vested, not lonely. Be with someone proud of you, not keeping you his or her best-kept secret. There is risk in that, commitment that shows intention, and a realness that makes you feel safe. And quite frankly, I don’t think you should settle for anything less.

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To the Christian having sex outside of marriage

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I was watching an episode of the Bachelorette last week. Becca, the Bachelorette, has a very prominent cross tattooed on her hand. She’s mentioned her faith before so I think it’s safe to assume she calls herself a Christian. And this happened to be the episode Colton decided to let Becca know he was still a virgin. I was excited to see her reaction to seeing someone who (may) takes the principles of God seriously. That has convictions he can commit to, standards he’s set for himself.

As Christians, we know one of God’s teachings is saving sex for your spouse. There are numerous scriptures on this subject. Lots of benefits to this as you can see from several of my other posts. But the fact remains, regardless if we know these benefits or not, do we trust God and His Word?

With this mindset, I would assume that anyone claiming to follow Christ would strive for this. It would be widely accepted and expected in the Christian community. Not something taboo or avoided. And most certainly, not something frowned upon.

Becca’s reaction was quite different from what I was expecting. She needed a moment to wrap her mind around Colton’s virginity and referred to Colton as one who isn’t as experienced. A “Christian” being disappointed in someone saving himself or herself for the right person, as if the lack of experience was a bad thing. We can say it’s TV but unfortunately, I see it all around me. I was shocked but not at the same time.

Do people, especially Christians, correlate abstinence with inexperience rather than commitment? Do people really view sexual experience as more attractive- desiring physical satisfaction over emotional commitment? I just can’t believe that is true. Not long term. Not when we get vulnerable and completely honest with ourselves. Not when doubts, insecurities, and comparisons start rising up as we struggle to push them back down.

Christians having sex outside of marriage has become almost expected. I saw it consistently when I was doing online dating- the “christian” box checked, along with the “as long as marriage is imminent, sex is okay,” “in the context of a loving relationship, sex is okay,” or “I accept sex as a natural part of dating” answer given. And it’s something we don’t talk about. It’s something we avoid. We can go down the whole rabbit trail of everyone sins or no one is perfect, but this is a continuous choice with no heart of conviction or repentance seen. It’s simply not logical to group this sin with others. This is a consistent, ongoing sin, justified or ignored in the Christian community.

We now have statements like “I didn’t know you were that type of Christian” or “the Bible is outdated” and “God cares more about your heart” or “I believe in God but I’m not that religious” in an attempt to justify decisions we want to make, as to almost try and take advantage of our loving Father. Funny how we sometimes can talk about how much God loves us but forget to show God how much we love Him…

It’s like we want a convenient god. One there when we want him for his perceived benefits, without having to follow his way. One we can push to the side, as we slip into bed. A god we can mold into our own image. So we cover ourselves in feel good paraphernalia:

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Cross symbol
Fish symbol
Faith
Hope
G >∧∨

We have these cute sayings and symbols on jewelry, tattoos, cars, offices- everywhere but our hearts. Do we understand what they were designed to mean? Are we living them out in our daily lives? Do we really believe what we say we believe?

God is greater than my desires.
I will put Him before myself.
I will remember what He did for me, and choose to use my life to make Him known.
I have a faith in who He is that brings a hope for what is to come.
Faith that He knows what He is doing when He gives us rules.
Hope that His ways are far better than ours.
And that we’ll choose to trust even when it doesn’t make sense, even when it doesn’t feel good.
That He, above everything else, is truly greater than the highs and lows.

The way He loves us and relentlessly desires what’s best for us amazes me. And honestly, the more I realize His love for me, the easier it becomes to follow His ways. It’s become easier to wait for marriage because I know He wouldn’t withhold anything good from me. I just pray and hope you know that type of love. That you realize how much He cares for you and desires nothing short of the best possible plans for you to be so holy and full of so much joy.

I think, at the end of the day, it comes down to not really believing what we say we believe. Because if we truly believe in God and truly love Him as we say, wouldn’t we want to follow Him? Less to do with sexual desires, more to do with our faith levels? Because it’s not our legalistic rule following God is after, it’s our heart full of trust in Him He desires. So I pray you search your heart. I pray you have the courage to cut off whatever sin is still lingering out there and choose to trust that His way is in fact, truly so much better.

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No Guys in 2018: Sixth month update

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First off- how the heck have I made it this long?! I was a serial dater. Not a serial committer, just a serial dater. Jumping from one guy to the next. Giving guys the benefit of the doubt with no real commitment. Actually, if I’m honest, emotional commitment without the relationship label. But is that really even better?

If I could use one word to sum up how I’m currently feeling, it would be seasons. I think this word gets tossed around a lot without fully appreciating what it means. It’s like we are always hoping for the next season to come without fully embracing the season we are in.

I want to date.
I want to get a job.
I want to go off to college.
I want to be married.
I want to have a different job.
I want to have a kid.
I want to have more kids.
I want the kids to leave.
I want to have grandkids.
I want to retire.

Never fully satisfied and constantly searching for more. Aside from a few relationships, I’ve been single my whole life. But I think this is the first time I’ve been able to fully enjoy the season of singleness. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved my single years in the past. But I fear I wasn’t experiencing the freedom I thought I had at the time. A relationship wasn’t consuming my life but guys still were. I have never, in all my years, fully realized how much of my time and emotional energy had been spent on guys. Guys feeding my ego, guys as potentials, going on dates just for the fun of it (which I’ve come to believe isn’t a real thing).

But this year feels so much freer. Like really free. What other word can I use to describe it? A control freak who has given up control. A planner open to new possibilities. A deeper trust allowing me to live my best life right now. And most importantly, a life so crazy and full of impossible moments, that only God can get the credit.

I’m surprised by how much I’ve done so far this year. But most importantly, I’m surprised by how much I’ve grown. It’s been a time for me to reset. To really prioritize and be intentional with my time. To push my limits. To say yes to scary moments. To figure out what I want most and what I don’t. To hear God, free of distractions. Knowing that whatever God has planned for me is far better than whatever I could ever hope or imagine. I know because it’s already happening.

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What are your demons?

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Whatever it is that tempts us, whatever it is we struggle with, it’s there for a reason. What pulls at you the most? What is it that puts you in conflict- that has you questioning God?

It’s easy to say you’re good, if you never have the opportunity to be bad- to choose what’s right over what you want, over how you feel. No, good is choosing what is right no matter the perceived cost. The problem is most of us make our decisions based on our vested interest and selfishness is easy to hide. So how can we judge?

While our demons may not be the same, we all experience them in some form or fashion. How we deal with them, how we choose to handle them is what sets us apart. I went through the bulk of my temptations in junior high and high school. It was a war. A war many people, unfortunately, choose not to fight. They surrender. They give in. And most of the time, people on the outside never know the difference- never know the choice you made. Yet, we remember distinctly if we’re willing to face it.

There are times we pray for the temptation to go away rather than for the strength to overcome. And when the temptations linger, we question God, we question ourselves. But I think there’s a reason God doesn’t allow those temptations to go away so easily. If they go away, nothing changes within. The temptation may be gone but we are still left weak. In bondage. But what if instead we chose to take action. Fight. Sometimes God wants to show us we aren’t as weak as we think we are. Not when we have Him. That we are capable of choosing what is right even when it is the hardest. Isn’t that when our true character shows?

This is what I love about my no guys in 2018 challenge. I remember hearing a sermon years ago about a girl who gave up dating for 6 months. I was shocked. I literally said, “ I would never do that. That’s stupid. What happens if you meet your husband during that period?!” I don’t think I was spiritually mature enough at that point to understand the pureness of a heart like that.

For so many years I thought a guy could fill holes in me that God couldn’t. I wanted God AND a husband. I thought I knew myself. I thought I knew what would make me happy. God has slowly but surely been teaching me a new type of peace. I want God and that’s all. Not because I don’t want a husband, rather I want what God has for me more.

I feel what I always knew.

God wanted me to choose Him. Not when it was easy, not when it was comfortable. But when it was hard. Even when my feelings pulled me in a different direction, He wanted to know if I thought He was worth it. If I truly trusted Him as much as I had claimed.

I think I needed to know too.

How easy it is to trust Him when things are going well. How hard it is when things are not. We face these tests everyday. Tests that reveal to us who we really are.

So who are you?

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photo credit: emiel bleidd Defeating Demons via photopin (license)

Bachelor updates- Reaping What You Sow (Week Two)

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21 Guys going into this week and some of the real stuff is starting to show. The stuff behind the glitz and the glam. The stuff that may happen when cameras are gone. Emotions that cause pain and hurt. Uncertainty.

It was interesting to listen to the guys at the beginning and hear Blake comment, “one of you guys are going to get married.” Kinda shows where his head is at, at this point. The whole thoughts become words and words become actions sort of thing. Ironically enough, he was the only one chosen for a one-on-one date and the first one to get that privilege. Becca seems to really like Blake. He just makes sense given his recent heartbreak from someone he thought was ‘the one,’ as well. From my experience, it’s really difficult for guys to get over their exes, typically one specific ex. While he says he is ready to commit and fall again, and though he may want to, I still don’t think he is ready. However, I do believe the right person can change that.

8 guys went on the first date- Clay, Nick, Chris, David, Jean Blanc, Jordan, Connor, and Lincoln. Jean Blanc ended up getting the rose. I have no idea why. Lincoln won the challenge. Connor came in second. Neither of them should have gotten the rose either. Lincoln is just too much and sneaky in my opinion. He knew why Connor got upset. But acted like he didn’t know why to Becca. I’m still on the fence on how I feel about Connor’s reaction of anger because of Lincoln’s antagonizing ways. You want a man who gets angry at the right things and is still able to remain in control. However, I do like the way he redeemed himself later by having a picture of himself for Becca to throw and get rid of- symbolizing the fact that that person isn’t him. Who writes this stuff?!

10 guys go on the last date Garrett, Rickey, John, Ryan, Alex, Christon (pretty sure I thought his name was different in my last post), Trent, Leo, Wills, and Colton. They go play dodgeball and I just want to say I was super impressed by Leo. Anyone else? He is clearly too good for this show and I’m loving it. I also surprisingly liked Garrett this time. I really enjoyed how much Wills loves his family which is probably why he got the rose.

And then Colton’s big announcement- I thought it was about him being a virgin, yet it was about a weekend getaway with one of Becca’s friends. Hmm.. They had a spark but it wasn’t the right time to grow the flame- whatever that means. Umm maybe because he wanted to go on TV!! He said he wouldn’t have come on the show if those feelings were stronger so was he just basically using her. Hopefully we will find out tonight.

Becca Connor’s anger outburst and Colton’s past dating decisions, a lot of uncertainty is creeping into these “relationships.” While a lot of this show is probably fake, emotions are very real- whether we want to acknowledge them or not. This is why it is so important to be intentional with your choices. Neither guy could justify their actions because there is no right way to to say it. Bad decisions.

Jordan’s faces crack me up and keep me laughing. A mini Jordy?  LOL. I’m still liking David. He’s either going to be really cool or super weird. There is no in between.

Ironically enough, the two that had no date this week- Jason and Mike stayed, along with Blake, Jean Blanc, and Wills had the roses from the dates. Chris, John, Clay, Connor, Leo, David, Garrett. Nick, Ryan (so cute), Christon, Jordan, Lincoln, Colton were the others that received roses.

Three from the second groupd date left: Trent, Alex (weird crying), Rickey. That crying was just awkward. But sad at the same time. This is why you have to guard your hearts. This may be why people say I’m too guarded also haha.

I’m honestly wondering how some of these guys are staying but maybe they are better than the ones she let go. This is probably why I couldn’t be The Bachelorette. I would probably say bye to everyone but like 5 after the first night!

18 tonight, let’s see what happens.

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photo credit: gusdiaz Red is the first color of spring. via photopin (license)