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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Concern versus control- 25 ways to tell the difference

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I’m finally able to finish and wrap up my posts centered on abuse. For some reason I couldn’t finish but now I can. This one is hard to learn and navigate because I’m so independent. How do you know if someone is genuinely concerned for you or is just trying to control you?

Getting out of an abusive relationship can be difficult and dangerous. You sure you didn’t do something to make him mad? He looks so sad. Forgive and forget. When you love someone- you stay with them through the bad stuff and you know why they do what they do (their childhood, etc.) so you excuse their behavior. We forget it’s possible to forgive and still leave. We forget it’s possible to still love and say no more. You don’t allow yourself to keep being abused.

A simple internet search shows us signs of abuse. Does your boyfriend act in ways that scare you, does he act jealous or possessive, does he try to control you or need to know where you are at all times, does he check your email, phone messages, or texts? Does he tell you what to wear or make you change your clothes? Does he call you or text you excessively or insist that you answer his calls within a specific frame of time? Does he shove, hit, or kick you? Does he blame you for the hurtful things he says or does?

Concern for your well-being is good; control is not. Sometimes it can be very difficult to tell the difference because the difference may be in motives and not necessarily actions. Here’s 25 ways to try and help you navigate:

Concern wants to make your life better; control wants you to make their life better

Concern encourages your own identity; control gradually steals your identity

Concern wants you to pursue your dreams; control finds reasons for you to pursue theirs

Concern helps you to seek God for answers; control tells you they already have the answers

Concern wants you to be happy; control wants you to be only happy with them

Concern convicts; control condemns

Concern is protective; control is suspicious

Concern feels pain when he’s hurt you; control feels empowered

Concern feels bad for mistakes made; control tells you we all make mistakes

Concern guides you; control guilts you

Concern helps to bring out the real you; control suppresses the real you

Concern cares about your convictions; control cares only about theirs

Concern is open and direct; control is secretive and vague

Concern talks rationally; control talks in extremes

Concern protects; control threatens

Concern accepts responsibility for their actions; control excuses their behavior and twists it back to put the blame on you

Concern is humble and looks for ways to improve; control highlights their strengths

Concern cares about your desires and needs; control has to have their way

Concern makes you feel safe; control makes you look for ways out

Concern makes you feel free; control makes you feel in bondage

Concern brings clarity; control brings confusion

Concern leaves you with peace; control leaves you in denial

Concern is always honest; control lies if it’s in his best interest

Concern respects your boundaries; control looks for ways to invade them

Concern loves you, control wants you

Because some of these do have to do with motives and not actions, one of the best things on your side is time. Does he do what is right to avoid negative consequences, to maintain his image, or for admiration or is he motivated by Christ’s love? Don’t refuse to look at all angles of a person or take the time to observe their behavior objectively because you are afraid to face the truth. It’s easy to watch their behavior when everything is going great but what happens when you disagree? What are they like under pressure? If there is something they are hiding, there is something they haven’t dealt with yet. And if they haven’t had time to heal, they will attempt to go through the healing process at your expense. A person needs to be complete in Christ or they will end up abusing you in an attempt to find wholeness.

Honestly, at the end of the day, concern doesn’t even look like control. Not when you take the time to step back and look at it objectively, putting your emotions to the side. Concern will feel like love. A love that puts you before themselves. And control will not. So if you’re already questioning, you already know.

– the virgin heartbreaker

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Why I stayed with an abusive man part 2    

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For the last two weeks I’ve blogged about abuse (Why I stayed with an abusive man- part 1 & 8 reasons people stay in abusive relationships). It’s something we don’t talk about often. Maybe we are ashamed. Maybe our definition of love has become so distorted we afraid to face reality. Afraid to admit we’ve been living in a fantasy world we created to help cope with the pain. Society and Hollywood only helps with confusing us more as we attempt to figure out what love is.

We can go back to Shakespeare. Hamlet drove Ophelia to suicide and yet, at her funeral, states that 40,000 brothers could not make up the sum of how much he loved her. Othello kills his wife in a jealous rage and tells us he loved not wisely, but too well. What does this teach us today? That love and violence goes hand in hand?

Abuse can mask itself in many different ways. Here’s 7:

Guilt

Promise you’ll never leave me.

You need to adjust your behavior and make promises to cater to his upbringing, to his baggage. So your desire to initially stay with him slowly changes to staying with him out of pure guilt. You don’t want to hurt him so the only option is to stay with him.

Control

Him: Hey, you’re not going to wear that shirt out tonight are you?
Me: Why not?
Him: Because it’s way too tight. Guys were looking at your earlier…

He’ll start to make you feel uncomfortable about your decisions. Get you to start depending on him as to what decisions you should make.

Obsession

He calls every hour and expects you to answer. Do you have a life outside of him? Sometimes this behavior is masked as love, devotion, the fact that you are soul mates… He can’t stand the thought of you having fun without him.

Don’t forget to leave your phone on…

And you make sure you don’t because he will freak out on you if you don’t.

Him: Hey, I’ve been texting you. Why haven’t you answered.
Me: In class.
Him: Well leave it on silent.
Me: I don’t want the teacher to see us talking.
Him: If you love me, prove it- leave your phone on.

Disrespect

He has no respect for rules in general. Then it becomes no respect for the rules you are supposed to follow. And then no respect for you…

My dad was right. You girls get together and you talk trash about guys and tear them down. My ex was a terrible person, always trying to accuse me of stuff and make me feel bad. I thought you were different. If you don’t trust me what’s the point?

You’ll soon see this disrespect toward you is actually hate. But sometimes that’s a hard pill to swallow. It requires us to admit we were completely wrong. Not only does it make us doubt our judgment, it makes us wonder if we can trust our decisions ever again.

Self-pity

You begin to cover up for him. After he hurts you, he attempts to paint himself as the good guy, the one that should be pitied.

Him: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Me: Stopppp.
Him: I can’t help it, I’m scum, I don’t even deserve to breathe. I didn’t know it was coming. When you started saying that crap about me, wondering if I was telling the truth. I never thought I could hurt you. I still can’t believe I hit you. At least I know now all that messed up stuff that is inside of me because of my dad- I can watch out for that. You could have told your parents but you didn’t.
Me: I don’t understand how everything could have been so perfect…
Him: I had one bad minute, actually 2 bad seconds. It’s not like it was for no reason- you were acting all suspicious of me- you were talking about me behind my back. It hurt me so bad that you didn’t trust me. The way that I love you I’m wide open. I mean you have the power to kill me. It’s worth it for me I mean even if I get hurt sometimes. I mean don’t you feel the same way?
Me: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I should have thought about what I was saying. I didn’t mean to make you think that I didn’t trust you. Sorry. Sorry.
Him: It’s okay- I’m not mad at you. I could never stay mad at you.

Crazy how the tables turn so quickly…

Manipulation

You begin to piece together the pieces. Maybe you have enough strength after all to leave.

Him: Why haven’t you answered? Can you sneak out? If you really want to be with me you’ll find a way.
Me: I have a lot of homework.
Him: And that’s more important than me. I’m calling you right now where’s your phone. I asked you a question.
Me: I’m breaking up with you.
Him: Are your parents listening?
Me: No. I’m serious. It’s over I’m breaking up with you.
Him: But you love me.
Me: I know but I’m still breaking up with you.
Him: Why?
Me: Because I don’t want to be scared anymore.
Him: Why are you scared? I haven’t hit you again.
Me: You call me constantly. You try to control where I go…
Him: Where is this coming from.
Me: It doesn’t matter.
Him: Well then I’m going to kill myself. I can’t live without you.

Hate

And then you cycle back to guilt. You start doubting. You start remembering the good times. And part of you wants to go back. Not because you miss him but part of losing him also consists of losing some of yourself since you’ve bound yourself so tightly to him. And sometimes we go back. We dug ourselves in a hole and we feel that we can’t get out. Do we really deserve something better? At least we know what his faults are… But sometimes, if we’re lucky, we may get a text so shocking that it wakes us from our trance.

You are a liar. You just want to be with some other guy. You don’t deserve to live.

This isn’t love. You don’t control, hit, kill people you love.

We aren’t stupid for falling for these guys but I think sometimes we have to be honest enough and ask ourselves- am I sure this is how I want to be treated for the rest of my life?

(Points are taken from the movie Reviving Ophelia, showcasing the subtle, calculated takeover of sweet innocence.)

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Why I stayed with an abusive man- part 1

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I used to judge women who stayed with abusive men. I wish I could say I didn’t but I think I did. And then I realized how easy it is to stay. How hard it is to leave. I finally realize what Shakespeare meant when he said “the prince of darkness is a gentleman.” Because with all the bad, deep and hurtful experiences, there are also great, wonderful and amazing times. And this mind game twists our brains, our hearts, into an uncomfortable delusion.

His manners made everyone think he was a southern gentleman. Looking back, instead of respecting boundaries, his pursuit made me feel loved, wanted. He was slowly worming his way into every area of my life. It was control masked as care. He would discuss our futures together, each word igniting hope for our happily ever after. The mind manipulation, the passive aggressiveness, the guilt began to eat at me. I was frantic to save what I didn’t even want.

Him: You made plans for Friday night without even talking to me?
Me: I’ve been ignoring my friends for a month.
Him: So have I but that’s because you’re the most important thing in my life. I guess that was pretty stupid to think that you felt the same way about me.
Me: I do feel the same way.
Him: No you don’t. Otherwise you wouldn’t be putting me in second place. I never realized how self centered you are…

And there I am. Left wondering, left thinking is he right and am I the one in the wrong? I didn’t realize he was telling me how I felt when he didn’t know me yet. But that’s what control does. He was working to control my behavior by responding in a negative way. A way that would make me not dare to act the way I did ever again. We do this to children when they are little to teach them right and wrong. Only we typically do it out of concern, not control. And I wasn’t his child.

But the mind control continues and leaves you second-guessing even further. He comes back apologizing and encouraging me to do what I initially wanted.

I love you way too much to stay mad at you. I know you didn’t mean to hurt me and I know you aren’t going to make plans anymore without talking to me first.

The last part of that sentence says it all. We get excited at the thought of a love that’s “way too much” only to be left feeling beat down, feeling like we did something wrong when we didn’t. I was so focused on the good, that I didn’t realize he was telling me what to do. How often we think about the good in order to drown out the bad.

The ideas above are all too real. Points are taken from the movie Reviving Ophelia, showcasing the subtle, calculated takeover of sweet innocence. Check back next week or subscribe with your email to be notified as we pick up next week with part two. For more signs of abuse, check out last week’s post 8 reasons people stay in abusive relationships

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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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