When you find what matters most, you realize none of the other stuff ever really mattered

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Love is a funny thing. It’s so simple, yet so complicated in today’s world. We interchange the word love for other words such as lust, infatuation, like, and obsession. Everyone attempting to love based on what they’ve been given, with half the time people never experiencing the true love of Christ. It’s no wonder we are so messed up, so broken. But when we strip down the layers, love is such a pure and beautiful thing. It allows us to feel joy in pain, freedom while committed, and peace in the midst of hurt.

I’ve had my fair share of checklists throughout my dating life. Some silly things I was willing to compromise on- it’s okay if he doesn’t have blue eyes too, alright? Other things held a little more weight like attraction, similar interests, passion, and preferably someone a little crazy and outgoing like myself;) However, what remained at the top of my list was an unadulterated passion for Jesus. Someone who was in love with Him the way I was so I could share my most intimate thoughts and purest desires and he would understand. A kindred spirit.

My dating life was a revolving door of random guys who met part of my so-called checklist:

Super good-looking and says he is a Christian.
Passionate about politics and goes to church.
Life of the party and is willing to wait until marriage for sex.
Super smart and reads his Bible.

Never really finding my top priority, only variations of it. Lots of cool “Christian” boys, not a lot of real godly men. Under the justification of nobody being perfect, I was left wondering where to compromise. But as I’ve gotten older, there is one thing I’ve learned:

Compromise on everything but my top priority.

Because when you find what matters most, you realize none of the other stuff ever really mattered. You realize the vulnerability and security that follows finding someone whose heart is exactly where your heart is- in Jesus’ hands. These are the ties that bind- these are the ties that last. And there is no explaining it because it supersedes any type of emotional attachment this world creates.

It fills your spirit.
It allows you to feel safe.
It lights up your soul.
You grow more into who you already are.
More into the person you desire to be.

Wait for this.

Because I’ve realized perfect on paper doesn’t even really exist- jobs change, looks fade, families break, and life happens. Nothing is consistent except who people are deep to their core. It doesn’t matter what their family is like. It doesn’t matter their job or how much money they make. It doesn’t matter where they live or what their schedule is like. It doesn’t even matter what their interests are. I had my checklist, but why? There are too many things to keep up with and I certainly can’t account for everything- nor do I want to. That’s not my burden and God didn’t create us to carry that weight. I think sometimes in the process of focusing on our checklists, we may miss out on the only thing that matters.

We are so quick to identify and label people based on what they do, rather than who they are. The soul isn’t just part of what I’m looking for- it is everything I’m looking for. When you find what matters most, that’s a love worth pursuing. A love worth risking for. Because Christ’s love is life giving and when that’s expressed by someone, it trumps all else. You realize it’s their soul that impacts everything you thought you ever wanted. How they will react if they lose their job, what they’ll do if you end up on life support, and how they’ll handle everything life will throw at you over the course of this lifetime.

So throw out that checklist and feed your soul. Only then will you be able to recognize when you’ve finally found what has mattered most all along.

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Love is [NOT] a choice

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“Love is a choice.” This message is preached throughout both the secular and Christian circles, consistently and constantly. It’s promoted as a good thing. Something that shows commitment. Dedication. Value. And I think what we are really wanting is for people to choose to stay committed to what they already made a choice on. It’s an easy line to go to when someone is trying to rationalize lost feelings, the desire to cheat, the desire to leave, the emptiness they may feel inside. While these may be good intentions, focused on making the best of decisions made prior, let’s get the terminology right:

Actions are a choice, but love is not

There will be times when you are annoyed or frustrated and you choose to act lovingly and nice. Other times, you may choose to act hateful or angry. These are the choices we are making. But who we are to the core has already been determined by the choices we made about the type of person we want to be. For Christians, it’s becoming born again and having God’s love fill us. For non-Christians, it’s having whatever god you choose to worship, to lead you. And sometimes that means we are our own gods. But these are the choices we make that impact the love we have to give. Whether it’s real love, self-love, true love, selfish love, or selfless love.

When we experience Christ’s love, His love becomes our default. It can’t go away. It’s not something you turn off or on. It’s who you are because it’s who He is and He is now inside you. This love can be scary, cause pain or hurt, but it’s never a constant choice or burden. While the repercussions of loving may be hard to deal with, love in and of itself is easy. You can’t help but to love, it’s who you are naturally now. Something just changes. It did for me, at least.

True love results in commitment, but commitment doesn’t always equate to true love

I think it’s easy to almost interchange these words. “Marry the one who stays” was a recent blog post I read. Again, I see the intent but something else is missing. Love is more than a commitment, more than a choice. It’s not the will and decisions that are our moral compass, it is our heart- and in turn, it’s our heart that results in actions. Not the other way around. Love is so much more than an act, a commitment, or a choice. It involves these motives deep down. And if we get honest with ourselves, we can see there are a lot of good acts out there rooted in selfish motives. That’s not what I’m looking for.

I’m not looking for a commitment. Commitment may keep a body there but it won’t fill my soul. When I’m weak and need someone strong that’ll have my best interest at the forefront of his mind, a commitment won’t give me peace. I don’t often hear what I desire preached. Not because it’s impossible, I just think it’s rare.

I hear this all the time-
“How did you know he or she was the one?”
“I decided.”
No, I’m not buying it. Because then you can decide they aren’t- or maybe you will decide they are for the rest of your lives. I don’t know. I just believe there is a stronger force there that supersedes our will and decision making abilities. I desire something so much more than a decision. I need something deeper, stronger, something greater than this world has to offer. I don’t want my future husband to choose to love me. Because I don’t think that is true love. I want him to simply love me because he can’t not love me.

My hope is that you’ll search your heart. You’ll seek love, true love with pure motives, from the source that is love. So you can see for yourself how love is so much more beautiful than a choice.

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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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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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30 plus 3 and finally free

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Married by 20. And then 20 kids. That was the plan. I was sure of it. My crushes on guys started at the ripe old age of 5. A new crush each year. Brandon in first grade, Brett in second, Shawn in third, a teacher in fourth, Jason, Shane, Doug… and the list goes on and on. In sixth grade I had made a list of all the guys and girls in our grade and coupled them off as I felt appropriate. Maybe that’s’ when my love for relationship topics, matchmaking, and unsolicited advice started.

Moving into my teen years, the Internet started to provide so many tools for my interactions with guys to flourish. I didn’t have to wait to see one in person, I didn’t have to wait for a call. Email, message boards, AIM, and the beginning of social media made a guy available to me at any time to satisfy my emotional needs. To make me feel worthy. To get my temporary fix.

20 came and went. I almost settled down in hopes of sticking to the plan. Thankfully, I realized ‘I had more time.’ I continued to enjoy the single life of my 20’s. I wasn’t too concerned…

Approaching my 30’s was different. I was older now. A real adult. Most of my friends now married with kids. Every song reminding me of my desire to be loved, every chick flick making me wonder when it would be ‘my time.’

“Maybe I need to settle. Maybe I need to learn to commit even if I’m not ready. Isn’t there such a thing as “good enough?” Am I being too picky? Maybe I can grow to love him. No one will be perfect. Just find a Christian, I can work through the rest.”

Thoughts flooding my mind. Talking myself into certain guys. Hope of finding true love dwindling. Rationalizing in my mind how many kids I could have and still be happy. Still have the big family I had craved for so long. Mapping out a new plan. Logically. Systematically. Planning. Seeking control as much as possible. Asking myself, “How can I still make this work? How can I still get what I want?”

But I think part of the problem was not really knowing what I wanted. Do any of us really know what’s best for us? Do we know what will cause us to grow? To make a difference? To feel at peace? To be fulfilled? When we are all alone. When we peel back all the layers of distractions that keep us from being real with ourselves, what is it we really crave? If we could eliminate societal expectations, what would we truly want? If we stopped limiting ourselves to what we could see, what would be our deepest desires?

God wasn’t done working in my heart yet. Still molding me into the person He knew I wanted to become. Knowing I crave something so much more than a husband and kids. Knowing I crave to have the purest of hearts, a love overflowing for people, a dependency only on Him. Chasing a spark that lights my fire when I’ve made a difference in someone’s life, the twinkle in my eye I get when I know I’ve spread a little hope to someone in need.

I’ve been a work in progress. Years of lessons. So many stories. Seeing purpose through the pain of multiple heartbreaks.

I’ve recently hit the point where I’ve changed. You may not notice it on the outside, maybe you do, but my heart is different. My passions long for something more, something deeper. While a husband and kids may end up being part of my story, they aren’t my story.

I can’t tell you what love feels like yet. True love. Soul mate type love. But I still believe it’s out there. And I can tell you what it looks like, based on knowing what love isn’t. I’ve experienced enough to know. Hitting this point at this age would have normally brought me into a state of desperation. No one would have seen that. But it would have been eating me up alive.

A husband…
Kids…
How will it even be possible? Options getting slimmer. Eggs getting older.

But I’ve changed.

I no longer need that text to feel validated.
I no longer need your time to show me I’m worthy.
I no longer need you to know that I am unconditionally loved.

You see 30 plus 3 and finally free has a deeper meaning for me. 33 was the age Jesus died on the cross so we could be free. Free from lies. Free from peer pressure. Free from society. Free from ourselves. Free from sin…

I wish I knew how to describe how I’m feeling but it’s beyond my comprehension. It’s not the peace I used to tell people I had, while looking over at the guy across the room wondering if he was ‘the one.’ The peace that was still anxious. The peace of knowing in my head God’s plan is perfect, but feeling in my heart a longing for human love.

No, this peace is different. This peace has thrown out all my plans. I’ve stopped thinking logically and I’ve given up control. I don’t want to be in charge anymore. I’ve just let go. It’s a peace full of trust and hope.

Hopeful of what is come. Hopeful to see the plans God has for me. Because this life hasn’t been a life of marrying young, with a house full of kids. This life has been so much more to me. Such an adventure. Full of things I didn’t even know I was capable of. Things I didn’t even know were possible.

I really don’t know what the future holds anymore but I am confident of one thing-

The best is yet to come…

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While you’re trying to decide, she’s already made up her mind

 

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This culture of passivity has really bothered me lately. It makes me sad and angry all at the same time. One of my friends told me his professor told the guys in the class to focus on school and that the girls will find them. Women have become stronger in a lot of ways, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for men to become weaker.

No matter how strong a woman is there is an innate desire in us to be led… taken care of… loved. And if a girl tells you otherwise she’s lying. Women have learned to put up these fronts to protect themselves from getting hurt. They are afraid to give up control to the wrong guy. And chances are, they’ve been burned. A lot. And because they are strong, they crave someone even stronger. Men, now is not the time to be passive.

Now is the time to step up. To be pursuers. Be bold. Be brave. Be intentional. Communicate. It’s okay to be unsure but it’s not okay to be silent. Never leave a girl wondering where she stands with you. Be honest. Tell her you’d like to get to know her. Tell her you’re interested. Tell her when you are busy. Tell her if something happened. Because I guarantee you her assumptions are worse than your reality. If you don’t take the lead now, how do you plan to lead the home? To be the spiritual leader for your wife and kids? These are the things she thinks about. These are the things that trump good looks and a fun personality. Passivity is not a trait we look for. And it will cause us to move on. Smart women know their worth and they won’t settle for someone who doesn’t.

Women love a man who knows what he wants and goes after it. This mentality requires so many admirable traits. So if you aren’t there yet or you don’t know what type of girl you are looking for, spend time in the Word- spend time with God and ask him to show you. Because I’m telling you right now, if you don’t, you’re going to find yourself with the wrong girl rather quickly in this passive culture of nonchalant men and forward women.

And if you pursue and she’s not interested- you move on. Because there is a girl out there who will be. You don’t cower. You don’t change your behavior. You don’t become weak. The wrong girls can’t appreciate what the right guys have to offer. So you stay focused, stay committed to becoming the man God created you to be. I’m telling you, you are rare. And you will stand out. It’s what women are attracted to. There just aren’t many of you left.

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photo credit: brennothad Take a break and enjoy. via photopin (license)