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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No Guys in 2018: Valentine’s Day was the Best Yet- Week Seven

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My mind has shifted, my thoughts have changed. It’s interesting to look back and reflect on where I was in life and how I viewed it in the past. If you recall, last year I posted a history of my Valentines, with a focus on last year’s being “the best yet.” It was one of my most highly read posts, which you can read here. Was that true? I think so. It goes along with my belief in that each year should be better than the last, each day better than yesterday.

This year I spent Valentine’s Day at work. Making over 500 candy grams for fellow employees. Purchasing candy for my mom and brothers. Receiving a chocolate rose from ‘a brother from another mother’ who thought I might need it. And a few texts.

Simple. Fun. Plain. Nothing spectacular. And yet, there was something that made the day utterly enjoyable for me. And I couldn’t figure it out until I spent some time reflecting.

Every year I seemed to have this desire to be with someone on this day.
Every year I seemed to have hoped for or longed for something- flowers, chocolate, anything that would make me feel loved.
Every year I seemed to look at the “happy” couples of social media and wonder “why not me?”

Every year I seemed to have focused so solely and selfishly on myself without even realizing it.

And it was this desire to get rather than give that fueled my demise. Without realizing it, I didn’t really look at myself this year. My thoughts have changed. I have changed. I was looking to see whose life I could impact, who I could love.

I wanted to give instead of receive.

And I don’t think I could confidently say I’ve felt that in the past years. Sure, I gave and I gave a lot. But it was mostly because I was seeking something in return. Some validation. Some love. Some sense of romance.

Maybe this is what happens when we remove things in our lives that mean too much to us. Things that seem to control our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Where do our thoughts linger as these things disappear, as these little idols become distant memories?

I think I’m becoming more aware of God and His love for me, and with it comes this fresh sense of freedom. I’m realizing how easily God could bring the right guy in my life at time, at any moment. These chance encounters with guys I’ve had just this past week make me realize how easy and how often we cross paths with so many different people. And how I don’t feel the need to worry. I don’t feel the need to control my destiny. I just have this newfound peace that God could bring whoever He wanted into my life at any time He sees fit. Any time He thinks I’m ready. Any time He thinks it would be best for me.

Because He knows the deepest longings of my heart.
He knows what my soul craves.
He knows what I long to accomplish and achieve.
He knows because He’s placed those desires within me.

These are things I always knew but didn’t always feel. Things I believed, but didn’t necessarily always cling to.

I think I like who I’m becoming.

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Rejection or God’s protection?

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I feel like I could marry anyone. I really do. If I make up my mind that I am supposed to marry someone or I feel like someone is the one God has planned for me, I will commit to make it work. Through all the good, through all the bad. There have been several exes that I would have settled with. I realize the word settle may be a bit harsh but I don’t mean a settling of someone less than me, I mean settling for someone other than the one God has picked out for me. Some will argue God doesn’t have anyone picked out for us or that He isn’t even really all that interested in our love lives- it’s up to us to make our decisions and then ask Him to bless the relationship. But I think that is silly. Of all the things God can do and does, what makes us think He wouldn’t care about our love life? He cares about everything because He loves us so much.

There were several guys I had thought may have been “the one.” Honestly, every time I start dating a guy, there is that hope. Some of these relationships it became quite apparent they were not the one for me. Other times, my stubborn side came out and I was determined to try and make it work. It was during some of these times, I have been rejected in ways that would make anyone feel less than human.

I was talking earlier this week and someone was shocked to hear that I have been rejected. Of course I’ve been rejected. Jason, Shane, Mike, Dan, Patrick, Josh, Alex, I could go on… And their opinions of me didn’t make it any easier. Not fun enough. Not sexy enough. Not wild enough. A prude. A goody-goody. Too spiritual… Words that sting. Words that make you doubt your worth. Why do we begin to feel worthless if we aren’t wanted? Worth and want are not synonymous.

And it took me awhile to finally come to the realization: Not everyone will like me… and that’s okay!

It’s a hard pill to swallow. Because my pride takes a hit. Feeling like I’ve been rejected by rejects. People that I now wouldn’t give a second thought to. In the moment though, longing for someone else to come along to make me feel worthy. Someone to make me feel valuable. To tell me that I am desirable. That I matter.

Looking back, I don’t view it as rejection anymore. I see it as God’s protection. God stepping in. God intervening. God willing to watch me suffer a little pain of being rejected rather than watching a lifetime of pain married/joined to the wrong one. I broke up with the ones I didn’t see a future with, and God allowed the others to break up with me so I wouldn’t look back in regret. Because rejection is so much better than regret. God, being the best father possible, protecting me when I was too distracted to protect myself.

My life amazes me sometimes. It’s funny how the guys that have once rejected me always seem to find me again. A random text. A Facebook message. Wanting to meet up. Wanting to date. Wanting to try again. But things are different now. My rose colored glasses have been lifted. My worth not coming from their want. And I realize God knew what He was doing all along.

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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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Single but not alone

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I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile now but life has a way of creeping in and stealing ALL my motivation. However, I think this weekend is the perfect time to get these feelings out. Around this same time last year, I wrote a post entitled “4 months, 4 holidays, 4 ever alone” It’s funny how things can change over the course of a year. I remember thinking last year how crappy it is to be alone during four of my favorite holidays, two of which are very romantic, in my opinion. I was also sick last year during Thanksgiving so it’s possible that contributed to my sulking, as well:p.

I feel like God has been ridding me of anyone and anything lately. I’m not the type of girl who always has to be in a relationship but I am the type who always has to have a potential. A prospect. Someone that could be “the one.” This year is different though. I wish I could put into words how I feel. For the first time, in a long time, there is no one. And it’s a strange feeling. I keep getting these reminders, these quotes, these scriptures. Reminders there is something bigger than my future husband. It seems so silly when you write it or say it out loud. But isn’t that how we live? Pinterest boards. “Dear future husband” letters. Going out. Staying in. Dating sites. If we were honest with ourselves, if we took a good long look at our lives, I think we’d be surprised how much of our time, how much of our lives are centered around a person we have yet to meet.

It’s funny how we hold onto to the hope of at least one. Because then our hope is justified. At least there is a possibility. I’ve lived a majority of my life like that. “Well, if it really comes down to it, I could always marry <insert name-of-guy-who-has-been-friend-zoned here>.” Why do we do that? Because the unknown is terrifying. We like to plan, we want to feel we are in control of our lives. So we make up stories in our heads to comfort ourselves. Sounds crazy when you write it down but it’s scary how true it is.

But this year, I have no one. No one as a back-up. No guy I could make it work with. No guy worth settling for. I’ve let go of them all. I don’t think my circumstances have changed too much. I think I’m just better at accepting reality. Actually not just accepting but embracing reality. Coming to terms with what I really want and desire most. I’ve seen a lot of relationships and marriages that have made me appreciate my singleness more. I think all too often we take our singleness for granted, as if its sole goal is to search for someone. But this time has allowed me to grow closer in my relationship with God. I’m reminded of when Paul is talking to the Corinthians about having an undivided heart. And I now understand. There is such a peace and freedom just in having Christ. I never feel “alone.” God’s love has filled me in ways I can’t begin to describe.

Sometimes I miss the good morning and good night texts. I miss knowing there is a guy thinking about me. I miss not having a date to certain functions. Instead I get awkward conversations. I’ve gotten everything from the “don’t worry, he’s out there” to “enjoy it” with the look of ‘I’m miserable in my marriage so please enjoy your singleness for the both of us.’ So many people say singleness is a gift but it doesn’t feel that way when you desire to be loved and have kids. I know it’s hard at times. And sometimes you start to lose faith, start to lose hope because you can’t see. You can’t see your future with anyone you know. So it freaks you out. You start to doubt and start to wonder if you’ll be forever alone. But do you know what hope and faith mean? They reach beyond what we can see and they trust. They trust God. And it is in those moments I’m reminded of the things I love. Things that make me not miss it all. Do I still hope to someday get married? Absolutely. But hope is not hope if you have a plan of how to make it happen. Hope is waiting for the unseen, the unknown, with excitement because you know that whatever God has planned for you is far greater than you could ever plan for yourself. Hope is letting go and trusting in something greater than you. There is no need to justify being single because while you may be single, you are certainly not alone.

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