I’ve been around people like Josh Duggar my whole life

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The one thing that breaks my heart is watching people walk away from the faith or be turned off by it because of people like Josh Duggar. And what I mean by people like Josh Duggar are people that profess to be something when their actions tell a different story. In short, people who claim to be Christians yet their actions are anything but Christ-like. Do not define Christ by these “Christians.” Do not define Christianity by hypocrites. You can’t. Yet that’s exactly what the media is trying to do.

Stop blaming Christianity for “bad” “Christians.” Please note the quotes. Read the Bible for yourself. In its entirety. It’s the greatest love story ever told. I left the church for about a year when I was younger because of so-called Christians in the church. One of my best friends has been turned off by Christianity because two Christians he considered friends treated him worse than his secular friends. This is a problem. It’s a problem I am constantly trying to fight. Unfortunately, I believe I’ll be fighting it for the rest of my life but the flesh and the sinful nature are to blame for bad choices, not Christianity.

Just because someone says they are a Christian it doesn’t mean they are one. I don’t know if Josh Duggar is a Christian or not. I don’t know his heart. But I do know he claims to be one and I do know his actions have not been that of a Christian. I think I would be married by now if all the men that professed to be saved actually loved Christ the way they say they do. But that’s simply not the case. And I’m not surprised by this. The Bible talks about it. “Many are called, few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14) “Narrow is the path to life, broad is the path to destruction” (Matthew 7:13-14). Many people who claim to be Christian, simply are not. End of story.

Christ’s love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace are never an excuse to sin. Never. One of the best things about Christ is that He loves us so much, even knowing how much we’ve messed up. We’ve all been born with a selfish nature- to look out for ourselves first and foremost. But Christ, when we accept Him, He changes our hearts. The problem I have with the “Josh Duggars” of today, is it appears repentance never precludes this “forgiveness” they speak of. Repentance means you are not only sorry for what you’ve done, but you turn and follow down a different path. Christ forgives us and then tells us to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Sin doesn’t mix well with you anymore. It’s not who you are. It’s rare if you do sin. But no one wants to talk about that. It’s easier to say we will sin again. I’m not saying Christians are perfect and I’m not saying they will never mess up but Christians don’t sin over and over again like this either (1 John 3:9). There is growth. There is change. There is conviction. And the truth is, I see more professed Christians excusing sin rather than fighting it. That’s a problem.

Purity is not some unreachable unrealistic myth, no matter how much the media and society try to make us believe otherwise. I don’t know how Josh Duggar was really raised. We see a limited glimpse into his life. But I will say this, problems can arise when people do not have the proper understanding or respect for what God’s Word says. Everything in the Bible was written for our benefit. And when you start to read the book through that lens rather than a book of cans and cannots, you begin to see the heart of Christ. Instead of reading “If you teach nothing but abstinence, girls get pregnant and contract STD’s” in the headlines, what if we taught abstinence appropriately? What if we were allowed to discuss the emotional turmoil of the hook-up culture freely rather than stating “there is nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage between two enthusiastically consenting adults?” I’m sorry, but there is nothing healthy about that. Nothing. And it’s sad, weak, and a cop out to say that Josh Duggar’s problem could have been solved through more exploration when he was younger. You don’t attempt to solve a problem with another problem.

Your upbringing is not a valid excuse for anything. I read that the way Josh was raised is what led to his criminal behavior. I’m sorry, but do we not have free will? Do we not have the ability to make our own choices? It’s this type of mindset that leads to people not taking responsibility for their own actions. We were all dealt different hands but the cool thing I’ve noticed is that God’s wonderful grace fills in the gaps. It is tragic if Josh was taught the rules and laws of God without seeing Christ’s love for him. But at the end of the day, we all have our own choices to make. And if we take the time to really search for the right answers, I am certain we will find them (Jeremiah 29:13). I just pray we all take ownership over our own lives, stop looking to others, and discover God’s amazing plan for ourselves.

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photo credit: the hotel we love via photopin (license)

My ex just married his ex

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So I was scrolling through my newsfeed the other day and I noticed that my ex –boyfriend just married his ex-girlfriend. Yep, you heard me right. A flood of thoughts immediately ran through my mind as I recalled everything he had told me while we were dating. Another example of when I trusted a guy over my gut. Never trust a guy over your gut. Always trust your gut instincts. They are there for a reason.

It’s kind of weird and I’m not really sure if there is a “right” feeling. Our relationship was never that serious, mainly because it was never given the chance to be that way. Looking back, it was just another relationship God protected me from in spite of my naïve ways. While I hate to admit this, I spent more time trying to figure out why he didn’t like me rather than seeing if I even liked him. I didn’t. But what mattered at the time was my vanity and ego. I hate when I get like that. If anything now, I feel bad for his wife. And I feel bad for him.

Mark and I first met at a wedding. We had a lot of mutual friends in common and he actually knew my date (I was my friend’s date- strictly platonic mind you;-). We talked a little and he seemed cool. A little shy and quirky which depending on the guy, I either find annoying or cute- your guess is as good as mine. Good luck. After the wedding, Mark and I would run into each other at random times. It’s one of the perks of living in a small town. We would flirt and it was fun. Mainly innocent as I really didn’t know much about him. But he intrigued me. He was unpredictably predictable and I liked that about him. He was a very structured, responsible guy and then he would also do something to throw me off. I guess I tend to be the same way so I appreciated it. It kept things exciting. One of the times we ran into each other, he just randomly asked me what I was doing and suggested we go get some food and drinks. Right then and there. I’m not sure if I had anything going on or not but I told him I was down. I like to try and act laid back even if I’m not- fake it until you make it right? I’m so awkward sometimes haha.

He was such a gentleman. Old fashioned and chivalrous. Sigh, my weakness. I got up to use the restroom and when I came back he had already paid the bill. I don’t care how much a feminist you are, I’ve yet to meet a girl who doesn’t like to be taken care of even if she can take care of herself. Plus it’s easier for me to respect a guy who can take charge and get stuff done. If you can handle me, you’re a rarity;-).

We went out a few more times and would text. Nothing too heavy, not too light. Well, maybe too light as I look back on it. I normally don’t post about my dates on Facebook but we were going to a concert that I was super excited about and of course I wanted to brag. This was what got me in trouble and this was also what saved me. I updated my status and tagged him in it. Is that wrong to do? Apparently. Actually not really. He seemed fine with it at the time but then he started to pull away some. This always bothers me- communicate people! Maybe this is a fault of mine- I don’t know but I wanted to know what happened. I wanted some answers. So I pushed.

I just looked through our old messages and I must say I am the epitome of John Mayer’s lyric “it’s better to say too much than to never say what you need to say.” Story.of.my.life. I wonder what I am thinking sometimes when I send messages. No, I know what I’m thinking- I’m thinking exactly what I write and that’s what gets me in trouble sometimes. Mark was being evasive and I wanted to know why. I had suspicions that he had a girlfriend but he had told me he didn’t. I always trust people until they give me a reason not to and even though I’ve been burned by this numerous times, I still think it’s a good principle to live by. The right one will deserve my trust and I don’t want to give him anything less.

Mark and I did end up meeting again but I never got the answers I was looking for. He shied away from my direct questions but I already knew even if I didn’t want to face it at the time. The girl Mark had been seeing prior to us dating starting posting stuff of the two of them. I would notice him on my newsfeed every now and then as their relationship progressed to “FBO”, to engaged, to now married. Mark and I would talk off and on via text and still ran into each other. I’d try to ask nonchalant questions about his relationship but those were the only questions he avoided. Part of me just wanted him to admit it but he didn’t until he got engaged. I sent him a text saying congratulations and asked if it was to the girl he had dated prior to me. He said it was. Finally. He knew. And I knew but at that time I didn’t really care anymore. I’m really proud of myself sometimes. I’ve been treated pretty badly but I always still love the person for some reason. You can’t make yourself love- you either have it or you don’t. I don’t allow myself to be taken advantage of but I was there for him when his dad wasn’t doing well, when he needed advice on certain things, and needed help professionally. I was always there and I really didn’t care. I was happy to help, to make a difference, and show him what love was. It makes me think of that scripture:

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” -Luke 6:32-36

And you know what boggles my mind the most? After all of this, the two things I don’t understand and probably never will is why he went back to her and why she accepted him back. Mutual friends once told me how he had talked about her and how he didn’t love her but it was just comfortable and easy for him. Why would you marry someone you don’t love? And her- why do girls go back to a guy if they have already been rejected? One of the best things about being in a relationship is being loved. If you don’t want me, you are no longer attractive to me- does that make sense or am I the only one that thinks this way? The last thing I want to do is convince someone to be with me. I do wish them the best. I hope they both fall madly in love with each other. I hope they grow to be more than partners and a good arrangement. There is so much more depth to a relationship I desire and I know I won’t settle until I find it even if it’s not important to the rest of the world.

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photo credit: Picture Me Married Photography – Ashley Palmero – Ring Shot via photopin (license)

The time I dated someone else’s spouse

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photo credit: Matt Erasmus via photopin cc

Honestly, I don’t even know if you would call it dating. I would but, in today’s culture, people don’t seem to take that as seriously as I do. I met Mark through some mutual friends. He was a few years older, mature, smart, funny, and good looking. He worked in the medical field and because of our lines of work, our paths ended up crossing over the course of about a year. While working on various projects, it was always me, Mark and two other guys. One of the other guys was around our age and engaged with 4 kids. The other guy was much older in a happy marriage. It was always us four going out and doing things- mostly work related or grabbing food. I absolutely loved our times together. They were always so fun and light-hearted. The most tedious tasks we had to do were always more exciting with them. While Mark and I did do things one on one sometimes, it wasn’t that often. So maybe, in his defense, this justified are non-relationship, relationship for him.

He’d always pay for my food when we’d go out, either one-on-one or while we were in our wolf pack. Can I be a part of a wolf pack? I don’t know but I need a nickname for the four of us so it’ll work. We’d flirt, bicker, laugh, and talk about our goals and dreams. We both had extremely busy schedules so I never really questioned the fact that we didn’t go out more than we already did. Well that and part of me didn’t want to. Honestly, while I was attracted to him and I felt like I was dating him in so many ways, I never pushed our “relationship” because I didn’t want it to go there. Why? Because I knew it wouldn’t work long term. Part of our talks were about God and he didn’t believe in God really. I think he just wasn’t sure or hadn’t really thought about it before. In some ways that did attract me to him; it wasn’t that he was against it so much as he never really knew someone that believed and loved God like I did. You know how people always say that girls never go after the good guys? Well, I think because I grew up around a lot of “church guys” and know that many of them don’t really love God as they profess, I’ve felt in the past that I’d have better luck with people that were more open to learning about Christianity and it being real for them. To me, that was more appealing than a fake Christian. I think in some ways it gives me hope. But deep down, I think part of me knew something wasn’t right. Anyone can have fun with anybody depending on what you are doing; but real love is when you can strip away all the fluff and at the core of your being can share the most important thing to you. For me, that is my relationship with God. And since God is love, He enables me to love deeper. So no matter how much fun I had with Mark, something was still missing. And I knew it. This is one of the best things I love about God. Sometimes we might not understand why God has certain rules- don’t be unequally yoked, don’t have sex before marriage, etc.- but we always understand later. And sometimes we have to learn the hard way. It’s comforting knowing that God wants what is best for me, especially when I don’t even know what that is!

So as the year was wrapping up, Mark and the guys were getting awards at the annual award ceremony. We had all agreed to go to dinner afterwards. I was excited to meet some of their families. I still remember earlier that day when we were setting up for the ceremony, the guys joking that Mark and I should just hurry up and get married because of how we interacted with each other. It was a bittersweet day as we were setting up. Our paths would no longer be crossing as often. However, it became mainly bitter later on that night. At the end of the ceremony, a pregnant woman came up and kissed Mark on the cheek. His sister, it had to be his sister. I looked down at her wedding finger- we all do this- and there was a beautiful diamond engagement ring. His engaged sister, his engaged pregnant sister. Yeah right. How could I have been so dumb, so naïve. I find myself asking that a lot lately. But I have learned from all these experiences and that’s part of the reason I started this blog. Maybe, hopefully, others can learn from my mistakes instead of having to make their own. It was soon apparent that this was Mark’s fiancé. I debated whether or not I should still go to dinner with them. However, I’m always a fan of awkward situations and not letting others control me. The guys were really encouraging me to go and I did. Mark sat across from me and his fiancé sat next to him. He was like a blank wall all throughout dinner. I can only imagine what was going on through his head. Sidenote: It really bothered me that the other two guys never mentioned his fiancé either over the course of the year AND encouraged a relationship between the two of us. Weird. Anyway, as we were leaving the restaurant, Mark tried to put his arm around me as we were at the end of the line. What?! Mark and I never spoke about the situation. There was no reason to bring it up as we both knew I wouldn’t have dated him anyway. We saw each other a few times over the course of the following years. Random texts. Part of me was sad. I knew he wasn’t happy. I knew they weren’t in love. They had a good partnership. That was apparent. To me at least. Outwardly, they looked like a great couple/family. He told me they went through a rough patch recently and almost got divorced but they were able to work through it. I’m really glad. But I’m also really sad. I hope that one day they get to experience marriage the way God intended it to be. That they fall in love with Him and with each other. I’m always hopeful. Oh, and always trust your gut instincts.

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