No Guys in 2018: The Beauty in the Break-up- Week Six

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This past week I was a part of a pretty cool award ceremony in my community that recognizes 4 leaders who are under the age of 40. After over 75 nominees, I was selected as one of the 12 finalists. Being a finalist was an incredible experience, especially going through it with my best friend as a finalist, as well. I didn’t end up winning one of the four spots. It’s tempting to feel inadequate, not enough, or disappointed. Because you saw something that was a possibility but others received it instead. It’s in those moments that I realize perspective is one of the biggest keys to happiness. Instead of looking at what we have, we oftentimes look at what we lack instead. It would be easy to forget the beauty and honor of being a finalist if I was only looking at the four winners. And unfortunately I think we do this in the dating world, as well.

Do we value our past relationships?
Do we value the love we gave or received?
Do we value the beauty in the break-up?

When we look at our lives, our lives as singles, do we see the hidden blessings God has given us? I fear sometimes we see the married, happy couples instead. The ones dating. The ones just getting engaged. And the married ones announcing another baby is on the way. And we look at these lives and wonder, “why not me?”

But I pray you look at life so differently. I pray you look back at the relationships you’ve had and appreciate the love you’ve experienced. And if you’ve never experienced being in love, maybe you’re meant to experience that beautiful feeling with only your future spouse. Maybe God is guarding your heart. Protecting it.

If you’re going through a break-up. A hard break-up. Someone you thought you’d marry. I pray you’ll see sooner than later how God has something so incredibly better planned for your life. Because while you might not see it now, I know you will. Instead of God keeping something from you maybe He is preparing you for something so much better. Do you trust Him? Like seriously, do you? Because if you do, you’ll know this hurt is but a fleeting moment. That this pain is not without purpose. God is molding you into the beautiful creature He created you to be.

We are so tempted to look at our lives and question the heartbreak, the loneliness, the timing instead of seeing the freedom, the possibilities, and the steps God has laid before us. Just waiting for us to take. For us to trust in His goodness, His love.

Take those steps. And most importantly, look at those steps and see the beauty of the life laid before you.

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No Guys in 2018: Finding Strength Through the Struggles- Week Five

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Lots of struggles lately. Not so much with guys- or lack thereof I should say. But just challenging situations. I fear it’s easy for us to despise these moments. Question what we are doing and where we are heading. I mean does anyone really enjoy times of testing? I didn’t think so but now I’m not so sure.

I’m finding in these moments of what I’d consider less-than-desirable situations, that I’m capable of a lot more than I realized. I’m a lot stronger than I realized. More bold. And even a little bit more feisty;) It’s times when we are squeezed, when we are faced with the decision to press forward or to give up, that our true character is revealed. And it’s making me proud of who I am.

Deciding to give up guys for a year was a struggle at first honestly. It’s something I didn’t think I’d consider, especially at my age. But so far, it’s been one of the best decisions of my life. Kind of freeing. Realizing marriage is a beautiful thing but it’s not the only way to exhibit love. That having a boyfriend is fun but it doesn’t bring happiness. And that God truly is the only thing that satisfies me. Something I always knew but now something I always feel.

I started reading a book called Idols of the Heart with a group of girls online and with my brother in person. Highly recommend it already. It shows the dangers of putting anything before God and how it sets us up for continued disappointment as we search for things and people to fill that void in our heart that God designed for only Him to go.

I’m realizing the amount of time I spent wondering if certain guys were “the one” and now I’m just longing to have that time back. I can’t get it back but I can learn from my past. We all can. Maybe it’s just me but it’s not worth the time. I’m at the point where it needs to be easy because I am strong on my own. Life has enough challenges as it is; I don’t want to add another by having a stressful relationship. Games. Lies. Fakeness. Expectations. Selfishness. Worry. I fear people have accepted this as the norm. We’ve settled under the guise of “we’re all sinners” and “no one’s perfect.” But I don’t use those labels. I sin at times, but I am not a sinner. I may not be perfect but I strive to be everyday.

Break-ups are hard.
Being rejected hurts.
Challenges make you doubt yourself.
Words cut deep.
Disapproval makes you want to give up.
Criticism questions your value.
Disrespect attacks your worth.

But I pray you rise up. I pray you find your voice. I pray you won’t settle. Life is so precious and if you only knew what you were capable of, you would find that strength in your current struggle.

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No Guys in 2018: What if he was the one- Week Four

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This past week was full of work, meetings, fun, and games. However, in the mix of that was some pretty tough times, as well. But I have to press on. I have to move forward. Sometimes we have to choose to look at the good and not dwell on the bad.

My spiritual time is still not what I would like. I hate to say this but I have not gone to church at all this year. So this entire month I missed church. I’m 0/4 for Sundays this year. I think sometimes we can almost be too hard on ourselves. While I haven’t gone to church, I have been there for my family and other things that have been going on in our lives. It’s important to not get so caught up in going to church that we neglect the ones who need us most, the ones we love. So while I wish I could have gone to church, I’m still happy with the decisions I’ve made. I think God is too. He cares more about the love in our hearts than he does perfect church attendance.

I’ve had several community events and a VIP reception for an award I’m a finalist for. Sometimes events can be hard. Just emotionally draining. But they are also very rewarding. Most of the guys at the reception were married so no potential guys there for me to get distracted with but there were other opportunities this week…

It’s rare that I do things “just for fun.” Most of the times, I’m combining events and social activities, school and work. But this week I went line dancing with a friend and attended a game day. Like board games. And it was so much fun.

Game day was great. Two married couples. A single guy and me. Perfect. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t a setup. But when you’re in that setting, it’s hard for the thought not to cross your mind. Especially when he’s cute. Blah. No guys. Pretty sure we will all end up playing games again and we are Facebook friends now so I probably shouldn’t write much more… What’s important to note here is the fact that I won a good amount of the games. Competitive would be an understatement:p

Line dancing was my other favorite thing this week. My friend Jaime and I had so much fun learning dances, catching up, and just relaxing. We are both so driven that it was a nice break from our rather hectic schedules. Although, we met the owner and a couple other people so our networking doesn’t seem to stop even when we try. While we were eating, two girls came over to tell me that their friend thought I was pretty. I asked who and they pointed to a guy on the other side of the room. I couldn’t help but laugh. It was the guy that wanted to be in my selfie I was trying to take of the dance floor. The girls mentioned that and said he couldn’t stop talking about me since that incident. I told them that was nice but that I was kind of taking a break from dating. I’m not gonna lie- that was hard. For two reasons. One, I hate rejecting people because I never want people to feel less than. It is so hard for me. I just know so many people struggle with self-esteem issues and I never want to unintentionally cause more pain to anyone. To make them feel like they aren’t worthy. Which leads me to my second reason, what if they are “the one” and I was too quick to judge? Who should I give chances to? Am I supposed to engage with everyone? I guess I’ve reached a point where I’m not sure I trust myself. I’ve been wrong so many times before. So maybe I’m going on the other end of the spectrum to protect myself. But what if he was “the one” and now I just said no? Chances are he wasn’t but now I’m left giving everyone a shot or second guessing myself. Both options don’t seem right. Maybe I’ll figure it out but for now I just have to move forward. And trust God more than I trust myself. My answer will be clear. Of that I am confident.

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No Guys in 2018: Progress not Perfection- Weeks Two & Three

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A lot has happened so far in January. So much so that I’m behind in writing this;) I’ll start by saying I’m surprised by how much our minds, our hearts can change when we choose  different actions. I know I’ve spent a lot of emotional energy on chasing guys whether I’m ready to face that fact or not. It can be hard being 32 and just not knowing. Especially when I’m such a planner. But to be quite honest, these two weeks have been so busy that I haven’t exactly had time to think about guys.

Work has been extremely busy and I love my job so much because it allows me to make a difference in the lives of so many. It’s truly rewarding. And for me, that feeling trumps the infatuation feelings I have when talking with potential suitors. Suitors, what a fancy word.

In addition to work, I’ve done some pretty cool things these past two weeks. I’ve had long, hard council meetings where I truly feel I’m making an impact on my community. It’s a nice feeling knowing you are a part of something that is greater than yourself. I caught up with some of my close friends, which seems like it’s harder to do when we are involved in so much. It was very much needed and long overdue. Went to a party. And an after party. In addition to maintaining relationships, I always enjoying meeting new people and fostering new friendships. Ones without a hidden, underlying question of “will this be my future husband?!”

Some other cool stuff I’ve managed to get myself into include making homemade cookies by myself for the very first time in my life. I’m still not sure how such a small amount of baking powder can make or break a batch of cookies. But whatever. I’m learning. Baby steps:) I was able to be in our city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade which was so much fun. I love events like that where I can see how our community comes together and how truly blessed I am to be in the town I grew up in. My friend also sold me a NES Classic and I feel like such a nerd but that $85 purchase made me so incredibly happy. I’ve already gotten super far in Dr. Mario. Please don’t judge me.

The thing I’m most proud of these two weeks is spending a lot more time with my family and really seeing how truly blessed I am. I sometimes feel we take our families for granted, the ones who love us most. I’m excited about this. I also submitted my prospectus and it was such a freeing feeling. It motivated me so much and gave me that extra push that I could actually do this. That was huge for me.

It terms of my goals, not shopping has been going great! I started up my thankful calendar again. I only made it to Jan. 20th last year. Let’s hope I can do better this year:p I’ve been failing with the TV watching and have kept it on in the background. I need to work on this area still. And I’ve not accomplished what I had hoped to for my quiet times and Bible studies. I’ve listened to the Sermon on the Mount sermon, I’ve started the SRT’s Sermon on the Mount study but am only on like day two. Yea, not good. I’ve started reading through Matthew and am only on Matthew 5. While I’m disappointed in myself, I’m happy with how I’m actually studying God’s Word this time. It’s not about me checking off Matthew on my list. It’s about truly knowing the heart of God. I’m cross referencing for the first time! And I’m loving it. So I guess I will take my time. I just need to make more time. So that’s why I say progress, not perfection. I will get there.

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No guys in 2018: Finding Myself- Week One

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I didn’t realize how so much of my conversation centered around guys. It was almost as if my identity was wrapped up in who I was talking to next. I talk so much about guys and my drama that happens that I wasn’t really sure if I’d have anything “good” and “entertaining” to share with my friends. Everyone always liked hearing my stories so it just became part of who I was, I suppose. But how can I entertain others with my guy stories if they are no longer in the picture?!

It was a bit of an adjustment at first. But then I found myself engaging in different types of conversations. Goals, dreams, prayers, life…

I found myself doing different activities rather than random dates. Spending time with my family, cooking, reading, exercising…

And I found myself thinking about others more. This was probably the most fulfilling thing that happened. It’s hard to think of others when I’m so focused on trying to figure out whom I’m supposed to marry. But that’s what people seem to get stuck on. When you are 32 and single, it’s what most people want to know. When you are young and married, most people then want to know when you are having kids. Has contentment become a pastime?

I’m not even sure how I feel about the word contentment. I don’t think I’d use that word to describe my singleness. It sounds boring. And my life seems to be anything but that lately.

Why do I feel like I’m myself again now that there are no guy interests?

I’m still talking to guys. A few have reached out and I always seem to enjoy those conversations of the right combination of depth and quick banter. But I’ve just noticed already a difference in my mindset. And I like it.

There were a couple times I had to catch myself. I got a little excited about a guy until I realized he had a fiancé. Some guy found me on social media but I’m pretty sure he isn’t real. Overall, so far, so good. But hey, it’s only week one- we shall see! Below are some additional highlights since starting the challenge:

I’ve started back at work again. I made a budget. I spoke to a group of teens about the importance of giving back. Watched too many movies. Did family Bible studies. Cooked. Friend dates. Coffee shops. Family time. Family day trips. Wrote 40 new pages with 45 new resources. Editing 100 pages for my prospectus. A few council events and related meetings where I feel I’m making a difference. Better quiet times with God. Finished a book I had originally started over six months ago!

I feel as if I’m falling more in love with Jesus. With more clarity and direction for my life. My sense of urgency is quickly fading. It’s weird and I wish I could explain it.

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You shouldn’t have to sacrifice in a relationship

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I’ve had the topic for this blog post for a while now but wasn’t sure of the timing. But in church today, I heard a powerful statement: It’s not about what we do; it’s about who we are. And as a follow-up, I propose a question: Do you think God wants to receive a gift from you that you don’t want to give?

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

I don’t think He does. God loves a cheerful giver. And I don’t want to receive a gift from someone if they don’t want to give it either. Because what matters most to me is your heart, not your actions. You can control your actions, but only God can change your heart. While love exhibits itself through certain actions, actions don’t necessarily mean the love is there.

Almost every marital book touches on this concept of sacrificing in a relationship. I’ve never understood it. I tried to but something just didn’t feel right. So I thought I’d attempt to put my feelings into words.

When we look at the word sacrifice, common definitions involve words such as giving up, surrendering- for the sake of someone or something else. But… I don’t sacrifice when I’m in a relationship and I don’t want my guy to sacrifice for me.

  1. If you view doing something for me as a sacrifice, don’t do it. This is not love. I want you to want to do it because you love me. That is what brings you happiness. And if that were the case you wouldn’t view it as a sacrifice, honestly. The words we choose to use reveal more of our heart than we realize.

I want to cook dinner, I want see that movie, I want to bless you, I want to make you happy because I love you. But if the love isn’t there, you’re not going to want to. In Ephesians 5, what is the charge to husbands- love your wives. Not serve, not sacrifice- love. The problem is we oftentimes don’t know what love means. We are told it’s sacrifice so we think we are loving, when we really aren’t. We are trying to but something is missing, we are falling short. The words love and sacrifice are not interchangeable. When you love someone, you may do something you don’t particularly like, but you don’t view it as a sacrifice.

  1. Why would I want you to do something if you don’t want to do it? I don’t. Because down deep, it’s not the silly things you choose to buy me or the fact that you chose to go to the restaurant I wanted instead of the one you wanted, it’s the fact that I crave to be loved. That the love is so strong, you can’t help but put me before yourself. Because you view me as a prize, valuable, a treasure. It’s not something you consciously choose to do; it’s who you are. You can’t not love me. That is what I want.
  2. This speaks to how we view God, as well. God doesn’t want our sacrifices, He wants our love. And I think the ones that have a view of sacrificing for God, don’t really love Him.

Hosea 6:6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Psalm 51:16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

Isaiah 1:11 “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the LORD. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.

1 Samuel 15: 22 And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.

Can we really call it sacrifice if we are getting so much back in return? We can only call it sacrifice if don’t have love in our relationship with another human. We can only call it sacrifice if we don’t comprehend the love God has for us.

I don’t think there is any such thing as sacrifice when you’re a follower of Christ. If you get back more than you gave up, have you really sacrificed anything at all? This is a quote from famous missionary, David Livingstone, given at Cambridge University back in 1857:

“People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa…. Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger now and then with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.”

I want to give to God because I know how blessed I am. I love Him because I know how much He loves me. So it’s easy. I want to give to my family for the same reasons. And I’ll want to give to my future husband because I’ll know how blessed I am to have someone like him. When you feel like the luckiest person in the world to have your partner, that will trump any feelings of sacrifice or service. And that’s how I hope my future husband will feel about me. You don’t really have to sacrifice at all when true love, real love is involved.

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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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