You don’t want their life

I hate it when we fight. Jonathan just turns away and pretends I don't exist.

So stop. Whoever’s life you keep looking at, stop looking. I promise you don’t really want their life. I’d like to blame social media, but we’ve had these issues long before social media existed. Look at their house, they have a maid, do they cook better, does their husband have a more successful job… I could go on and on. We question and wonder, why does it seem like the evil prospers while I keep struggling? What am I doing wrong?The problem is we think we know someone else’s life when we really don’t.

I remember going out with this guy a couple times. They were fine dates but nothing special. He ended up going back to his ex. And it looks like they have the perfect relationship. Perfect marriage. Both have successful careers and they are always posting pictures of their exciting memories. But few people know he broke it off and dated other girls. Even fewer people know he’d drink a little too much at times and complain about how he is not happy in his relationship and doesn’t really love her. These are the things we don’t see…

Another couple I know. Gorgeous photo shoots all the time. Lots of money. New adventures almost every month. Posting pictures of how in love they are. But there’s one thing few people know. She desperately wants to have kids. He doesn’t. She thought he’d’ come around but he hasn’t. It’s been several years. He’s getting older and isn’t changing his mind. You would never guess looking at them. She cries herself to sleep every night…

There’s another couple I know. The guy seems to adore her, worship the ground she walks on. Buys her whatever she wants. And I start to wonder if I could have a man shower me with perfect gifts. But there are strings attached. He has anger issues. There are certain people he’d rather her not be around. There are certain things she can and cannot do. As long as she follows his lead, his commands, they are great. But if she doesn’t…

These are just three situations I happen to know. What about the people I don’t know on that deep of a level? We don’t always get to see their full story. We don’t get to see the bad stuff. It’s too vulnerable. And we want to believe our lives are better than they really are sometimes. We imagine others have this perfect life in our head and then began to compare our imperfect lives to it. We try to make our lives appear better on the outside while an internal struggle begins on the inside. This is how we see the world today. So many lies that lead into even more lives.

Maybe we can’t force others to be honest but we choose to be honest with ourselves. We may never know their life. But you know who does? God. And He knows our lives too and just what we need, just what we want. Amazing things happen when we start to look away from the façade we see from others and begin to look above to the One who gave us life to begin with.

signature

photo credit: Ed Yourdon I hate it when we fight. Jonathan just turns away and pretends I don’t exist. via photopin (license)

Why I stayed with an abusive man part 2    

5448338716_292fd4e997

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.)

signature

photo credit: Mitya Ku 167 via photopin (license)

After 15 years of mediocre Valentines, I now have the perfect one

I don’t know what it is but I could never master one of my favorite holidays. Oh, how I desired love so badly. Maybe this year would be my year as I recalled all of the fights, the pain, and the loveless dates year after year. Hanging onto broken relationships. Going out with complete strangers. Would I ever experience true love?

Last night I went out with my boyfriend to celebrate our first Valentines together. The first time I ever felt truly at peace, truly at home. If you would have asked me last year that I could feel this way, I would have probably rolled my eyes and said you’re crazy. But I hope to give you hope. That maybe you can look at my life and see. See that it’s not always easy, not always perfect. But God is paving a way for something so much better than your wildest dreams. Looking back, I am so glad I didn’t settle something less, for something no where near what I have today.

Age 17: I baby-sat my niece. Try to contain your jealousy.

Age 18: A guy I just wanted to be friends with was ruining things with a new guy I started hanging out with.

 Age 19: So I ended up dating the new guy I started hanging out with. He was my first official boyfriend. It started as just wanting to hang out and quickly progressed, as he was 8 years older. We were in another fight. But somehow I let the flowers and candy left on my doorstep, with sidewalk-chalked hearts drawn all over my driveway and sidewalk, get to me. It’s funny how we equate these gestures to love. And then watch how that feeling of love seems to somehow makes things okay temporarily. If only it actually lasted permanently.

Age 20: A guy I had been flirting with wrote back to me “I have a girlfriend, by the way.”

Age 21: An excerpt from my journal- “There is nobody I like right now. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to find someone that can love as much as I do.”

Age 22: After an awkward friendship/love triangle, I ended up going out with a guy I thought I liked. When we actually tried to date, it didn’t work. Besides, he actually hated Valentine’s Day. So while the idea was nice, I couldn’t really enjoy the reality as much.

Age 23: A new guy ends up coming into the picture. This ends up being the most serious relationship to date. Unfortunately, also a very volatile one. We actually end up going to dinner the day after Valentine’s Day because we were fighting. This marks the beginning of the end.

Age 24: An excerpt from my journal- “Things are going okay (with the same guy I was dating).” At least they were at this point. We would soon break up.

Age 25: Same guy wants to see me later. But I’ve already moved on. I can’t go back to that.

Age 26: I had a secret admirer this year- a huge card, flowers, and candy left outside my house. To this day, I still have no clue who it was.

Age 27: I had been going back and forth with one of the worst manipulators I’ve seen. At this point he wanted to know if we’d be just friends or friends with the potential for more. Life does not have to be this complicated. This was the worst emotional roller coaster I had been on.

Age 28: An excerpt from my journal- “All I did was watch chick flicks and get fat lol.”

Age 29: I went on a first date with a guy. Yes, you read correctly- first date. First time ever really talking and first time meeting in person. We had a bunch of mutual friends in common and thought why not?! We had a nice time. But we both knew nothing would come of it. We’ve never communicated since that night.

Age 30: An excerpt from the journal- “I have no desire to be with someone I really don’t want to be with. #mature”

Age 31: And here I am. Celebrating this special day with the one my soul loves. Maybe I had finally gotten it all out my system. Maybe I finally reached the point where I was fully and completely content with the life God had given me. Done searching for love and choosing to trust God more. Instead of trying to force love with the wrong guys, freeing my time to allow God to bring the right one in. All I can say is wait. Don’t settle. I look back and see all the times I almost did, wanting to make it work because I didn’t know any better. But someone will come along. And they will make you realize exactly why it never felt right with anyone else.

Happy Valentine’s Day! May you feel God’s love more than ever!<3

jamessarahvday

signature

Modest is [NOT] hottest

18994768240_d5c546526f

We grow up in church hearing modest is hottest in an attempt to encourage young girls to cover up in a world that screams “take it off.” Should this really be our aim? Our goal should not be to be called “hot.” Google the word. Sexually excited or receptive. Sexual attraction. Attractiveness on the basis of sexual desire. These are the definitions that come up. Are these the thoughts, the actions, the behaviors you hope your body, your life, your pictures bring out in others?

In this generation, the hottest, most popular girls are the ones who are, most likely, showing more than enough skin. Society glorifies this behavior instead of correcting it. And then we wonder why girls think beauty is defined by the way their body looks & how guys react to it.

Scroll through your newsfeed and you will find an abundance of girls posting immodest pictures. Skin. Seductive looks. These are beautiful girls. But you know what they are doing. They are seeking attention and I think we are all guilty of this to some degree. “Look at me.” “Validate me.” “Tell me I’m worth something.” There is a difference between the cute pictures and the sexy ones. You see so many beautiful women posting sensual pictures and then you see the thousands of guys who like them. Some of whom are Christians. All you are doing is encouraging this behavior. Encouraging women to post pictures that elicit sexual desires instead of purity, goodness, and respect.

If a guy really loves you, he will love all the cute things God has wired within you. Your personality, character, and all the adorable quirks & charms that make you, you. You don’t want a guy wanting you just for your body because then he truly doesn’t see you for anything special. And that can be a hard pill to swallow. Especially after we invested so much time into using our body to attract him.

Sometimes these truths are easier said than done. You want to be the “good girl” and you want to do what’s right but you start to wonder if you are enough. You get overlooked. Passed over. And you wonder if it’s worth it and if you should compromise just a little. Where is the line? Just remember, our worth comes from who we are in Christ, not from what some man thinks of us. You are not your body and you know it. And I think you know deep down if that’s how you have to get a guy, then you don’t want him. Your future husband is worth it too. The guy you’re looking for isn’t like that. He wouldn’t encourage women to be that way. Rather, he’d love them and encourage them to love and respect themselves. When God puts the right guy in your path, he will love you for all the right reasons and in all the right ways.

So what we should be striving to be called instead? Modesty is not hot; it’s beautiful, it’s pure, it’s cute, it’s pretty. It allows others to see beyond your body and into your soul. Your beautiful soul.

signature

photo credit: KristinaJ. dockside midi dress modest summer dress via kristina j blog via photopin (license)

The movie “Me Before You” certainly lives up to its name

17264753128_918e7bb3f4

I had wanted to see this movie ever since it came out in theaters. Though confused by the name, I thought it to be another romantic love story. Perhaps another cheesy chick flick. But wouldn’t “You Before Me” be more appropriate? Unfortunately not with this film, as the underlying tones promote selfishness masked in a smoke screen of selflessness.

Clarke is a young girl looking to help her family make ends meet. By society’s standards, I’d say she already had a somewhat normal boyfriend, Patrick. But then Will came into the picture. Will was the total package having money, fame, success, and good looks. His life drastically changed when he became paralyzed from a car accident two years prior though. His girlfriend, his best friends fizzled out. Clarke meets Will when she gets a job being his caretaker and through time, a deep love begins to form.

They bring a new level of excitement to each other’s lives. A deeper love they didn’t think was possible. So many are alive but never really live. Clarke quickly became the reason Will woke up every morning. Though he couldn’t do the things he once did, he was feeling the things he’s never felt before. However, he couldn’t get over the fact that he couldn’t be who he wanted to be anymore, who he once was. His value came not in his capacity to love but in his ability to perform. And it was this thinking that led him to believe he couldn’t give all he felt Clarke deserved. But if he only would have known what she needed all along… What she really desired… What made her really feel alive… Will chose suicide. Some may only dream of experiencing the type of love Will and Clarke had and yet, Will threw it away. Will didn’t see how Clarke felt; he saw a life he didn’t want to live. He didn’t just rob himself of love. He also took it away from Clarke.

What is love? Will says he wants Clarke to go live her life, now with money and the freedom to chase after her dreams. But what he fails to see, what he fails to mention is that a life without love is no life at all. What makes us alive, what makes this life worth living is one full of love, which is the only thing that can lead to true happiness, to true joy. You see, Clarke may go through life without a care in the world in terms of money and freedom. She may chase her dreams. But her life will never feel more alive than when she loved and felt love from Will. Love understands how rare that loves comes around. Love understands that’s all this life is really about. Love says “you before me.”

signature

photo credit: SHARING via photopin (license)

I can make the bad guys good for a weekend

28564822986_234833683c

And so can you. But is that really what you want?

He will go to church with you.
He will do some cute devotionals with you.
Pray with you.
He will wait to have sex after marriage.
Whatever you desire spiritually.

But the key word here is “you,” not him. Not what he truly wants or desires. Been there, done that. You do not want to know what I’ve tried to make work. But he wants us so isn’t that good enough? I wish it was but that never works long term. There are too many internal struggles and a whole lot of resentment. God’s grace and a changed heart are the only times I have seen it work out and there were many problems in between. Respect for him is what is lacking and respect is what we want most.

I was listening to the radio and people were calling in to say what changed about their spouse once they got married and the only two mentioned had to do with a wife (now ex-wife) not realizing how religious her husband was prior to them getting married (she says he changed) and another saying after getting married to her husband in a catholic church and him attending church with her while they were dating, she found out he was atheist. Who do we blame? Is someone really at fault?

We either dumb down our faith for the sake of who we think we want to be with or our partner will amuse us by doing, attending, thinking, saying what it is they think we want. I wish I was immune to this fatal trap. An amazing personality, good looks, intellect… They intrigue me and I convince myself they probably have a good heart deep down. And maybe they do. But that doesn’t mean they are the one for me. And it doesn’t mean they are the one for you. I think there is something empowering about feeling like we impacted a guy. They changed their ways because of us. This is how we can quickly become the cause of our own destruction. Because at the end of the day, while you may make the bad guys good for a weekend, they are still bad guys.

signature

photo credit: Jenna M. via photopin (license)

If it aint love why does it feel so good

16141797826_c01061837b

Jason Derulo’s popular, catchy song I caught myself dancing to until I decided to look up the lyrics. Describing how her body is a blessing and questioning how something could feel so good if isn’t love. Another by Selena Gomez exonerating that she can’t keep her hands to herself over and over again, only to hit the point of truth “I mean, I could but why would I want to?”

This is our culture. This is society today.

I’ll tell you why it feels so good, because sin feels good. I’ll tell you why you’d want to, because sin feels good only temporarily because sin isn’t good. Sexual sins feel good until you spend time alone with your thoughts and emotions, realizing the love you long for isn’t there. Gluttony feels good until you don’t recognize yourself anymore. Addiction feels good until you realize instead of controlling your next fix it’s controlling you. Lying feels good until you forget what truth is. Stealing feels good until you realize you don’t even want what you stole. Even murder feels good until you’ve realized you’ve already lost your soul.

Several things feel good in our instant gratification society. In a culture of promotion of self-love, we are taught to seek our own happiness. The problem with this is we don’t know what real happiness is. And even more disturbing is the fact that the cost to others doesn’t even seem to be considered.

Colossians 3:5-6So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.  Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.”

One thing I’ve learned as I’ve grown in my relationship with God is that God desires what is best for His children. He doesn’t give us these scriptures to harm us but to help us. He warns us against:

Sexual immorality, not sex within the confines of marriage
Impurity, not purity
Lust, not love
Evil desires, not good ones

God hasn’t made harmful things. The world has twisted and distorted the good things He has created only to put them where they don’t belong. And then we wonder why we live in a world of heartbreak and loneliness.

I think if we really thought about it, we’d realize the ones that truly love us are the ones that see beyond their feelings. The ones that see us before themselves. Ones that desire to keep us pure. People that are not looking to use our body to fulfill their immediate desires, but are looking to protect our bodies until the day they are able to commit and love us fully for the rest of our lives. If it truly is love, I pray we show that in our actions that reach beyond simple feelings of self-satisfaction.

signature

photo credit: Home via photopin (license)