You don’t want their life

I hate it when we fight. Jonathan just turns away and pretends I don't exist.

So stop. Whoever’s life you keep looking at, stop looking. I promise you don’t really want their life. I’d like to blame social media, but we’ve had these issues long before social media existed. Look at their house, they have a maid, do they cook better, does their husband have a more successful job… I could go on and on. We question and wonder, why does it seem like the evil prospers while I keep struggling? What am I doing wrong?The problem is we think we know someone else’s life when we really don’t.

I remember going out with this guy a couple times. They were fine dates but nothing special. He ended up going back to his ex. And it looks like they have the perfect relationship. Perfect marriage. Both have successful careers and they are always posting pictures of their exciting memories. But few people know he broke it off and dated other girls. Even fewer people know he’d drink a little too much at times and complain about how he is not happy in his relationship and doesn’t really love her. These are the things we don’t see…

Another couple I know. Gorgeous photo shoots all the time. Lots of money. New adventures almost every month. Posting pictures of how in love they are. But there’s one thing few people know. She desperately wants to have kids. He doesn’t. She thought he’d’ come around but he hasn’t. It’s been several years. He’s getting older and isn’t changing his mind. You would never guess looking at them. She cries herself to sleep every night…

There’s another couple I know. The guy seems to adore her, worship the ground she walks on. Buys her whatever she wants. And I start to wonder if I could have a man shower me with perfect gifts. But there are strings attached. He has anger issues. There are certain people he’d rather her not be around. There are certain things she can and cannot do. As long as she follows his lead, his commands, they are great. But if she doesn’t…

These are just three situations I happen to know. What about the people I don’t know on that deep of a level? We don’t always get to see their full story. We don’t get to see the bad stuff. It’s too vulnerable. And we want to believe our lives are better than they really are sometimes. We imagine others have this perfect life in our head and then began to compare our imperfect lives to it. We try to make our lives appear better on the outside while an internal struggle begins on the inside. This is how we see the world today. So many lies that lead into even more lives.

Maybe we can’t force others to be honest but we choose to be honest with ourselves. We may never know their life. But you know who does? God. And He knows our lives too and just what we need, just what we want. Amazing things happen when we start to look away from the façade we see from others and begin to look above to the One who gave us life to begin with.

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photo credit: Ed Yourdon I hate it when we fight. Jonathan just turns away and pretends I don’t exist. via photopin (license)

Why I am now 32, single, and still a virgin

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My 32nd birthday was this past week. And I realized I have so much to be grateful for. While I spent it sick in bed, in a weird way it made me appreciate my health and all the times I take for granted being well and feeling great.

So according to my childhood self, does my life look the way I thought it would at 32? Not.at.all. Society almost dictates when we should be in a relationship, a marriage. Maybe it’s because of our childbearing years. But I’m not married. And I don’t have kids. But these years have been some of the best years of my life, each year better than the last.

My family. Friends. My education. Career. Politics. Blogging and ministry. And most importantly, my relationship with God. Could I have achieved all that I have with a guy and/or kids in the picture? Maybe. But there is something to be said for what Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7 (MSG):

To be married… to be single…

Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me—a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others… And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life… The really important thing is obeying God’s call, following his commands.

 All I am saying is that when you marry, you take on additional stress in an already stressful time, and I want to spare you if possible. I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.

 So let me tell you why I am single. It’s not because I hate men. It’s not because I’m too picky. It’s not because I never want to get married. It’s because I value marriage and I know exactly what I’m looking for. I’m not willing to settle. I’d rather be single, pursuing the dreams God has placed in my heart rather than in a relationship that pulls me away.

At the end of the day, I’ve come to the point where I really don’t care anymore. I’ve spent so much time wondering where, when, or how I’ll meet the right guy because that’s what girls my age do. Sure, I’ve done other things with my time but this has always been in the back of my mind. How much do I need to invest in finding my future spouse? What is my role? But I’m tired. I’m just tired. I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t want to miss the gift of singleness because I’m so focused on the gift of marriage. I want to spend time on my blog, with my family, growing, learning, and giving back. There’s just something so selfish about feeling like I need to find a guy “because I’m not getting any younger.” But honestly, whether I’m single the rest of my life or I end up getting married, I will only be happy if I’m living my life for God. And fortunately for me, I can do that right here, right now, forever.

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My happiest moments in life

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I’ve done some reflecting the past couple weeks. As I’m about to turn 32, I began to reminisce, if you will, on my life. Have I lived the life I’ve wanted so far? Are there things I’m proud of? Other things I’m not so proud of? All leading to what I really want to know most- am I walking down the path I believe God has laid out for me?

As I began to write my list of things in my life that have made me happiest, I had to face the reality that some of the decisions I’m making now are not leading to moments like these at all:

  1. I remember when I was younger and in 4-H. I was at a summer camp and I was wearing a Christian t-shirt. One of the other kids asked me about it and I remember being surprised by their lack of knowledge of Jesus. I think at that age I had assumed everyone knew about Him. I begin, somewhat nervously, sharing about my faith. It ended with me asking that other kid if they wanted to pray the sinner’s prayer with me. They did. That was the first time I’d ever done that. To this day, it is one of my greatest memories.
  2. I remember someone suicidal coming and talking to me. I just sat there and listened. Praying to myself for God to show me what to do. I just listened and then I prayed with him. It wasn’t until a couple years later that he returned. He thanked me for saving his life. I’ll never forget that moment.
  3. When I know I gave someone hope. To watch their face light up like they’ve been given a second chance. I have a positivity board in my office at work where people can take a post it note with some positive word they may need at the moment; they can also make one to put back on the board. I remember someone taking one that specifically spoke to her. She came back a week later solely to write another word to put back on the board because it encouraged her so much.
  4. I put a lot of time and effort into my Instagram posts. Praying and hoping I can inspire and help others. Anytime someone comments that it was exactly what they needed, it makes me feel like I am in some way making the world a better place. That God is using my life to make a difference. Nothing could make me happier.
  5. I love to watch and see people smile. Especially when they are doing something for someone else. A good deed. A nice gift. Watching them light up because they are blessing someone else gives me hope and inspires me.
  6. Answered prayers. Every single time. When I know God heard me. When I feel His presence. When I’m reminded of his grace, mercy, love, and goodness.
  7. Peaceful moments. Nothing in particular. Just moments when I know I’m fulfilling God’s purpose for my life.

Not one these moments had to do with money. Not one of them had to do with fame. Status. Not one about a guy I thought I liked or liked me. Nothing to do with what the world may define as success. It was never about me getting something I thought I wanted. My happiest moments in life have nothing to do with chasing happiness. Rather, my happiest moments in life have had everything to do with becoming the person God created me to be and showing that love to others. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him.

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My Christian books and devotionals kept me from growing closer to Jesus

 

 

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Sometimes I wonder what I would do without my planner and to-do lists. They keep me on track and remind me of the many responsibilities I am tasked with. For those that know me, know how important my relationship with Christ is. I’m always looking for new ways I can grow closer to Him and strengthen my relationship with Him. But I think I hit the point where I let my good intentions weaken rather than strengthen our relationship. I looked at my to-do list and felt so overwhelmed. Overwhelmed to the point where in fear of not being able to complete something fully, perfectly, I just chose not to do anything. Here is what my list looked like:

  • Finish reading the book of Isaiah
  • Finish reading The Lipstick Gospel
  • Do my Soul Script sessions
  • Finish my Lent Study from She Reads Truth
  • Finish Risen Christ Study from She Reads Truth
  • Journal
  • Listen to sermons

On top of that this was my list to start:

  • IF Gathering- Knowing Jesus
  • Write the Word
  • Wholeheartedly
  • Girl Defined
  • Redeeming Love and Hosea study

Studies on the way:

  •  IF Gathering- Redeemed

And my list to buy:

  • The Devo Company devotional
  • Rose and Thorns
  • Cultivate What Matters
  • She Reads Truth Bible
  • Seamless
  • An Unexplainable Life

Whoa. Are you exhausted yet? Because I am! When did my relationship with Christ become just a thing to check off of my to do list? I know it’s important to be intentional and make sure Christ stays number one in my life but do I really need to be reminded?

Finish, finish, finish. Do, do, do. When did those words replace my vocabulary of love, enjoy, renew? How would you feel if your significant other, an important relationship in your life, had to pencil you in? I’d feel like a burden and the last thing I would want God to feel like is some burden in my life. God is my life. It’s important to not let our quiet times with the Lord slip through the cracks with the worries and stresses of the day. But let’s not be so hard on ourselves that we forget to enjoy our one true love.

This past weekend I just wanted to enjoy Jesus. Spend time with Him. Love Him. Not something to check off my list because I’m some good Christian. But something to renew my faith, ignite my hope, and remind me of who I really am- daughter of the King, loved beyond comprehension, and blessed beyond measure.

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8 reasons people stay in abusive relationships

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched women stay in a relationship with an abusive man. My words of “leave” “press charges” or “come with me” seem to have always fallen on deaf ears. And I never knew why she couldn’t see what I saw. Is it possible to get in so deep, we’ve lost all sense of reality? Have we distorted the meaning of love into some definition that fits our circumstances because we don’t see anything better? We don’t see a way out?

It is so easy to fall into this trap and not even realize it. Here are eight reasons why we choose to stay when we know we should leave.

  1. We excuse or justify their behavior. They are only acting this way (insert something from their past or circumstances here). Our pasts help us to understand where each other is coming from; they are not an excuse to treat the ones you love poorly.
  1. When they are nice, they are really nice. They make you feel so loved by the things they do for you and the things they get you. We have to understand that motives here are everything. We enjoy the nice things but we have to be mindful of the strings that may be attached. If you think someone loves you because of their nice behavior, what does their cruel behavior tell you?
  1. We blame ourselves for their behavior. We know we aren’t perfect so we start to rationalize. If I was a better boyfriend or girlfriend, they wouldn’t have reacted that way. He/She wouldn’t have gotten mad if I didn’t do that. I really could have said that nicer. The truth is sometimes we all mess up and act in ways we shouldn’t. But we should never blame ourselves for someone else’s decisions.
  1. We take responsibility for their life. This one is closely related to the one above but instead of taking responsibility for the way they treat us, we take responsibility for the way they treat themselves. We don’t want to hurt them. We don’t want to cause them pain and we blame ourselves when they call crying. They say the pain is too much if we were to leave them and they may even threaten suicide. If this is the case, they are manipulating you or they need professional help. It is not healthy to stay with someone because of fear.
  1. The jealousy is cute at first. We like the attention. We like someone fighting for us. And we justify it because at least they care. But oftentimes this jealousy can become obsessive and possessive. And then they start to blame us if someone else flirts with us. It’s nice for someone to care about us; it’s not nice be afraid of how much they “care.”
  1. We think they will change. We believe the best. They just don’t realize how much we love them yet. Maybe when they are more secure. They apologize and say sorry so at least they know it’s wrong. They felt really bad. So we hold out for another day. Another week. Another month. Another year. Waiting. Hoping. Praying. Sometimes people do change. But sometimes they just mask their behavior temporarily until it’s safe again. See if they change for themselves or see if they change for you. Know the difference.
  1. They give us ultimatums. They threaten that you don’t really love them if you don’t do something they want you to do. They want you to prove your love to them by doing certain things. They play subtle mind games in an attempt to control you and your behavior. No one who really loves you should ever threaten you or make you feel less than because you do or do not act the way they think you should.
  1. We become dependent on them. This is probably the scariest of them all. They slowly remove everyone and everything from your life and make it so they are the only good thing in your life. You don’t even realize it because you become so caught up in what you think is love. You look around and you realize you have nothing else. And you don’t want to lose the one thing you have left.

These are so so powerful. They slowly strip away every ounce of our self-confidence until we forget who we really are. But I think there is a way we can see more clear. A way for us to be above this trap. And that is total and complete dependency on God. I think sometimes we make people an idol and don’t even realize it. It’s during those times we are able to be controlled and manipulated because we found something other than God to bring us what we feel would make us happy. It’s our attempt to better our lives, we lose them. But God tells us, whoever will lose their life for His sake, will find it. I pray we are humble enough and strong enough to let God take over and never ever fall into this lethal trap.

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Confidence over comparing- my boyfriend’s ex

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Few things I hate more than comparing. Nothing steals joy quicker. Nothing deceives us more. We are tempted to compare in so many aspects of our lives- is she prettier, is she more successful, does she make more money, why does everyone seem to like her? The list is endless; the devil knows our insecurities and hits us where it hurts most.

One area he gets ahold of us is when we start comparing ourselves to our boyfriend’s exes. It’s hard to enjoy the love, the excitement, the closeness if you are constantly comparing or dwelling on an ex. We compare the gifts, the time, the places, the experiences, the laughter, and most importantly the place she may still have in his heart. All leading up to the question we desire to know most:

Does he love me more than he loved her?

And we begin to seek validation through his actions and his words. So instead of enjoying them, instead of appreciating them, we often compare them. Slowly chipping away any confidence we have. Is that what he called her? Did he take her here before? I wonder if this is as nice as what he got her? Comparing is a strong temptation and society doesn’t make it any easier for us.

But the one thing we seem to forget is that love is love and there is no cap. Love doesn’t expire. It doesn’t run out. And it certainly isn’t all dried up by the time he meets you. If anything, the capacity for love is greater. His past love for her has no bearing on the depth of his love for you now.

The other thing we seem to forget is he is with you and not her. He chose to be with you. The two of you are together for a reason. Whatever that reason may be, God knows. There will always be good memories with exes; at one point in time we liked them, maybe even loved them. But there are also bad memories. Memories bad enough to end things. Memories he may have even forgotten but ones that make him appreciate you even more, that make him value you more than you’ll ever know.

So while we are left comparing in our minds, he isn’t. He’s with you. He’s with you because he loves you so enjoy it. Choose confidence over comparing. He’s with you because you are whom his soul loves.

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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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