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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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:

He>i
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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What are your demons?

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Whatever it is that tempts us, whatever it is we struggle with, it’s there for a reason. What pulls at you the most? What is it that puts you in conflict- that has you questioning God?

It’s easy to say you’re good, if you never have the opportunity to be bad- to choose what’s right over what you want, over how you feel. No, good is choosing what is right no matter the perceived cost. The problem is most of us make our decisions based on our vested interest and selfishness is easy to hide. So how can we judge?

While our demons may not be the same, we all experience them in some form or fashion. How we deal with them, how we choose to handle them is what sets us apart. I went through the bulk of my temptations in junior high and high school. It was a war. A war many people, unfortunately, choose not to fight. They surrender. They give in. And most of the time, people on the outside never know the difference- never know the choice you made. Yet, we remember distinctly if we’re willing to face it.

There are times we pray for the temptation to go away rather than for the strength to overcome. And when the temptations linger, we question God, we question ourselves. But I think there’s a reason God doesn’t allow those temptations to go away so easily. If they go away, nothing changes within. The temptation may be gone but we are still left weak. In bondage. But what if instead we chose to take action. Fight. Sometimes God wants to show us we aren’t as weak as we think we are. Not when we have Him. That we are capable of choosing what is right even when it is the hardest. Isn’t that when our true character shows?

This is what I love about my no guys in 2018 challenge. I remember hearing a sermon years ago about a girl who gave up dating for 6 months. I was shocked. I literally said, “ I would never do that. That’s stupid. What happens if you meet your husband during that period?!” I don’t think I was spiritually mature enough at that point to understand the pureness of a heart like that.

For so many years I thought a guy could fill holes in me that God couldn’t. I wanted God AND a husband. I thought I knew myself. I thought I knew what would make me happy. God has slowly but surely been teaching me a new type of peace. I want God and that’s all. Not because I don’t want a husband, rather I want what God has for me more.

I feel what I always knew.

God wanted me to choose Him. Not when it was easy, not when it was comfortable. But when it was hard. Even when my feelings pulled me in a different direction, He wanted to know if I thought He was worth it. If I truly trusted Him as much as I had claimed.

I think I needed to know too.

How easy it is to trust Him when things are going well. How hard it is when things are not. We face these tests everyday. Tests that reveal to us who we really are.

So who are you?

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photo credit: emiel bleidd Defeating Demons via photopin (license)