Tag Archives: relationship

Prayer Makes Pure-fect

We were born in darkness. There is little gain from condemnation over bad choices made in the past. It is wrong to assume we were pure and those choices made us impure. Instead, we must realize that we live in a fallen world where all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). There are none righteous, no not one (Rom. 3:10). When we enter into the world, we are not pure but innocent of bad choices. We start off as selfish beings. When I gave away my first kiss I thought I lost some of my purity. I knew I could never get that back. The loss is so final. And yes, it is true that I’ve lost some of my innocence, but my purity is not wrapped up in a label. Purity begins in the heart. God brings the dead to life (Rom. 4:17). He washes us clean and calls us His redeemed. You and I were called out of darkness while we were still sinners. We didn’t earn good-standing; we weren’t holy enough to just step into His presence. He made us righteous with His blood. Each day we make choices and take steps, hopefully closer to purity. Each day we are being fashioned into His likeness. We have hearts that can ascend to purity through Christ’s redemption. It all starts with prayer.

Prayer has proven to be one of the biggest comforts in my life. I pray to God about everything. It is especially rewarding to talk to Him about guys. After all, He did create those guys and knows their hearts better than anyone. He is not going to give some biased advice or flattering feedback. He is going to shape and transform my heart to resemble His own for a guy: to love with selflessness and share my heart only if the Holy Spirit prompts me. I want to love people with His love. I don’t just love the world with His love because that sounds good. I love with His love because I have experienced it. I know His love is best. I know His love is the most satisfying, beneficial, and sacrificial love of all. There is no hidden agenda, selfish motive, or stipulation to His love. He loves us because He is love.

Many people ask the question “How do I hear His voice?” It is a real question, and of course, there is a real answer. Practice PRAYER.

Prayer: 

The best way to hear this glorious King’s voice is to spend time in His presence. Prayer begins with conversations about our day, our feelings, anything. We acknowledge the opportunity to speak with the Creator of the Universe. Here’s an example of a rudimentary conversation: HI. You’re Jesus. I know a lot about you, but I don’t know YOU too well. I know you are the HOLY Son of God. I know you humbled yourself and became one of us for our sakes. I know you DIED on a cross and then rose again. Your word says you know the number of hairs on my head and your thoughts about me outnumber the grains of sand (Psalm 139). That is pretty crazy to think, but already I like you more.

A great way to start talking to God is by confirming the truth we’ve read about Him. “I know you love me, forgive me, call me your child, etc.” Prostrate-that is a cool word for “lay face down,”-and just soak up the silence. In those silent moments Christ can speak to us. We often forget praying is a two-way conversation. We don’t just ask for things and wait for those things to fall out of the sky. We don’t rub a genie bottle and ask for our second wish. We don’t just talk to Him, forgetting WHO He is. God wants communion with us. He wants to talk to us. It’s hard to understand that in our initial conversations with Him. But prayers are supposed to progressively move deeper and closer to God’s heart. We can pray and hear answers, or we can pour out and just be comforted in His arms. He knows exactly what we need and what is best for us. It’s hard to face that when we really want an answer right now. But the more we talk to Him the more we trust Him and understand His heart for us. He is worth every minute of my day. I adore conversing with my Father in heaven and hearing His responses.

It is not like hearing a person in the next room, it is hearing with our spirits. We must be careful here because our hearts easily get distracted by our fleshly wants and we think we heard Him say “just do it.” The best way to combat and discern answers is the truth of His word. What does the Bible say? If our request stirs up an answer contradictory to the Word of Truth, chances are that answer is not from Him. John 10 talks about Christ as a Shepherd. It says His lambs hear and know His voice. He leaves the gate open for them to roam the fields freely, but when He calls, they know to return. How do we hear His voice and know it’s Him? Abracadabra, the answer is!… We spend time with Him. If we wanted to get to know someone, we wouldn’t just sit across the table from them and stare. That might be awkward and dissatisfying. A lot of people react to God in this manner. When one sits down to “talk with God,” it gets silent and weird. This is too quiet. I don’t like this silence. What do I say to You? What do I ask You? How weird is it that I hope to hear back from You? What if I DON’T hear from You?

There are many questions to ask, but no idea where to go with the conversation. Just relax; breathe. Yes, He is Holy and yes, He is perfect, so there is a bit of nervousness in our first few conversations with Him. But the more time we spend with Him the easier it gets to talk to Him and absolutely cherish every moment. He is endearing and He listens to every word we speak. Not even one of those words will be lost. He receives them all. When we are at a loss for words, it is fine to just sit in silence. If we don’t know what to ask Him, it’s okay. It is always beneficial to proclaim His Word. The Bible is full of God’s characteristics and His great love. When conversing with Him we should keep those in mind. Wow! It can be gloriously overwhelming to think of how incredible He is and all the things He has done, created, and said. Let alone, all the awesome things He has performed in our individual lives. He isn’t God that created the world, created man, threw that man into the world and said, “The rest is up to you, buddy! You’re on your own to figure this thing out!” Not in the least, He is a loving Father and He continues to work with us on an individual basis. He knows our specific needs and He’s ready to help us get through all our junk to find Him and become more like Him. His Word is our nourishment, our sustenance. With that we move into conversation and dialogue with Him. He wants to share His secrets with us, but that means we have to get close enough to hear His whisper. In order to get closer, we have to spend quality time with Him, undistracted from the busyness of day-to-day responsibilities. Each day in His presence gets better and more invigorating. Each day I fall more in love with this incredible God and Savior. He is everything I need. The more I read His word and converse with Him, the more I understand His heart. Life is dull and meaningless without Him. He’s everything. Putting prayer into practice can only magnify our enjoyment, adventure, and satisfaction in life.


Myth of “The One”

Our view of “the one” is sometimes distorted by fairy tales and even a few Christian scholars. The myth concerning “the one” is that in all the world there is just ONE particular guy that will fit perfectly for each girl. If we marry someone and run into a few rough patches in the relationship, we may start wondering, “Was THIS guy *the one* or is there someone else I was SUPPOSED to marry!?” Fear and doubt set in. We worry if we picked someone other than the one we were supposed to marry.  And now, what does that mean for the guy we were really supposed to marry? Did he marry someone else, which would inevitably be the wrong one for him too? And if he took someone else’s *one,* what does that mean for her guy? This train of thought can go on and on, and then we are blaming all the sad stories on people who married the wrong one.

God created us in a specific way to be encouraged, challenged, tested and benefitted by a certain type of guy. There are many men in the world that could possibly be the perfect one. We will meet a few of those guys in our lifetimes. Some are not physically attractive to us. Some are even married. No use in getting anxious about this. It’s not like we’ve missed our chance. He is probably in our lives to show us what kind of guy we’re looking for. He’s not there for us to covet or wish death upon his wife. Nope! He is a prime example of the type of guy for us. In all fairness, there are others like him and someone else will suit us better.

When we finally say “I do,” he is THE one. Through thick and thin, sickness and health, we’ve picked the one. This takes away some heavy pressure and tinges of confusion. When things start to get a little rough in marriage or we’re not “feeling the love” at the moment, it is NOT because we married the WRONG guy. Trouble, issues, disagreements are going to befall us all. Welcome to life! All of our relationships are going to have conflict. And we are going to work through that conflict. Just because my best friend doesn’t like my new shoes or laughs at me when I get weak in the knees for Super Swampers (offroad tires) and M/T SideBiters (rims), is no reason to call off the friendship. Or let’s say the best friend actually offends us. We might want some space for a little while, but it’s not a deal breaker. Same goes for marriage, we don’t need to call off the marriage because I want a dog and he wants a cat, or he wants to hang out with his friends when I want a date night. We work through our troubles and grow closer to one another. When we argue we do so lovingly and respectfully. There is no benefit to use cutting remarks like, “I should have married Johnny.” That isn’t going to help the case or bring resolution to the problem. It is going to add fuel to the fire and slice into our guy’s trust bank. It’s better to alleviate the worry or doubt when thinking through the problems: he is the one. There’s no use trying to justify a desire to run away or leave the relationship.

Before marriage, before boyfriends, and before pursuing a guy there should be a holy pursuit of God. As we build upon our relationship with the Lord He will reveal our identity and purpose in life. That identity enlivens and strengthens us for the work He has prepared for us. The rest of our lives are spent working and cultivating that beautiful responsibility.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” –Eph. 2:10

Marriage is a sign of a heavenly connection for which we yearn. A man loves a woman as Christ loves the Church. A woman respects and submits to a man as the Church does to Christ. There are many earthly signs of heavenly realities. In the Old Testament it talks meticulously about measurements and images of an earthly temple built for the Lord. The temple was a replica of the heavenly throne. It doesn’t even come close to the heavenly beauty, but it is an earthly example. When compared to the imagery and description God puts into marriage as an example of a heavenly relationship with Him, it is just a foretaste of future glory. Marriage is an earthly example of Christ and His Bride. So, even as beautiful and exemplary as marriage might be, it is only an illustration of what we truly aim for: eternity with Christ. Our true contentment is wrapped up in that relationship–Christ and His Church. When we understand that purpose we are able to depict a clearer picture of marriage to the world as we love sacrificially and unconditionally.

 

Disclaimer: This concept is based on what I believe a marriage could be. I am not speaking from experience. I have been proposed to more times than I can count on both hands, but I am confident there is someone indescribably better for me: a compilation of the right character, calling, and personality in a guy. The truth behind “the one” is that it is a choice we make. I will wait for the one I choose to be my one and only. I understand that marriage is not simple and it is not a solution to some dark hole of emptiness. It is an opportunity to bring all the beautiful uniqueness of my life and my experiences into a recipe with another guy’s life and experiences to create an even more beautiful picture of God. I understand that marriage is a blessing. It is a chance to share life with another and to give sacrificially and love wholeheartedly. I’m not going to put pressure on the poor guy to measure up to “the one.” Instead, it’s a choice we make. I will take responsibility for my choice. When I do say yes, I understand full-well that he is going to be “the one” for me by choice, not default.


The Pretense of Perfection

There is a deep, innate desire in each of us for relationship. We want someone to share in our adventure. But so often, we dive into relationships with only pretense and fantasy as our basis. Not quite the foundation for a solid commitment, now is it? As the façade peels away, a dark, lurking creature stems forth. We see the real colors of our beloved. “Wait! He never used to blow up with such anger!” or, “She used to let me go out with the guys but now she’s suctioned to my shoulder and won’t let me out of her sight!” Was trust ever a part of the relationship? Before we step foot into a serious relationship, we should be able to trust, not only the other person, but God to lead the relationship. If He is not leading a relationship, it is not the right one.

I went shopping for shampoo one day. I liked the looks of a pretty gold bottle. The shampoo smelled really good, too. Score! The next day before work, I used my new shampoo. While blow-drying my hair, I noticed it felt a little greasy. I rationalized that it just needed to air dry a little more. I thought nothing of it and went on with my day. A few hours later, I looked like I had been without a shower for weeks. My hair was shining. It felt like someone poured olive oil all over my head. By the time I arrived at home, I was angry at my new shampoo. It was the nightmare of all shampoos and seemed to cause anything but a clean feeling. I reached for it, ready to throw it into the closest trash bin, when I scanned the label… finally. There it was, “X-treme Silk for African-American hair.” No wonder it turned my fine blonde hair into a mane of dripping oil. It was meant for gorgeous thick, coarse hair.

This whole concept works the same way in relationships. We see a good-looking guy and automatically picture a perfect personality and compatible fit in our world. Sometimes we jump head-first in a relationship. Later, we realize his personality just doesn’t mesh with ours and his interests complement ours like mayonnaise and jelly. I think I just threw up in my mouth.

However, that knowledge sure doesn’t make it easy when it comes to attraction. Every time I see a good-looking, possibly interesting guy, the wheels inevitably start to turn in my head, “Wonder what he’s like? Does he have a good personality, depth, humility?”

Case in point, a gorgeous guy works at a coffee shop I frequently visit. We’ve hardly spoken, but he sure is handsome. So here I am, with fluttering butterflies and shaky hands as I sip my grande, half-pump, triple-shot Caramel Macchiato. There’s a mystery that draws me in and a desire to dream up his potential personality. This is the moment so many are tempted to jump in with both feet, but I am patient and cautious. What if he’s psychotic? What if he likes to suck on his own toes while watching TV, sing out his order in the food court, or gallop through the grocery store? It would not be fair to him if I just gave the relationship a test-run all in the name of attraction. Dating shouldn’t be for the sake of physical attraction alone. A foundational friendship should be built first. I have walked into attraction with an eager attitude and friendly smile only to find an overboard suitor smothering me with serious promises and crazy plans involving white picket fences and tire swings for “our” children… we haven’t even held hands yet! We must hold a bit of that emotion back in the beginning. However we start a relationship, it will only build from there. When I start relationships at the ‘best friend’ level, I’m suffocated by their affection and need to be together all the time. Things need to start off slowly and at an acquaintance level first. It’s easier to grow into a friendship than to back out of a relationship.

It’s not like buying a skateboard or a new dress, or even a new car. Relationships are more equivalent to buying a house. We have to consider everything: the electric bills, water bills, trash bills, monthly grocery bills and this goes on for years, if not decades. It’s actually hard to even put it into those terms. The difference is relationships involve another person. It’s not just a choice we make for ourselves. God created all of us equal. He loves that other person just as much as He loves us and He wants the best for both people involved.

I may have an aspiration for companionship, but I refuse to fall prey to the weakness of lust and desperation! I can and will wait for that perfect fit! Something wild, dangerous, daring, and free! Someone made up of all the right ingredients. A little of this guy’s character, a little of that one’s humor, his leadership skills, and the right dash of that other guy’s rugged good looks! I’ve had some amazing friendships and some zealous crushes, but all the while, something in my heart always protests, “Wait!” Something deep within me senses, “There is something inexplicably more satisfying further down the road. I must wait for it!” The beauty of this journey is that I am learning right now, as a single woman, what Christ is supposed to mean to me. I must fall in love with Him first and foremost! I’m not ready for the chunk of muscular tissue and characteristically delicious ingredients that construct my Knight. I have not hit the spot in my path where another path forks into it. I’m still free-sailing with Jesus. And I’m excited! No one has crossed this ground before; it’s my trail. Christ knows what kind of journey will spark the passion inside of me. I want to discover treasures and fight battles as a single woman who does not pine away or wistfully peer beyond the horizon for a Prince and White Stallion. I want adventure, to see the unknown, conquer the intellectual world of education, breathe air only found at the highest peaks, sail through uncharted waters, cross jungle floors too dangerous for guides and tours! I want to LIVE! The potential He has created in me from the beginning of time is exponentially more marvelous than I could ever imagine! My desire is to strive with determination and tenacity. I want to persevere through thick and thin. I want to learn true commitment. I must learn this before I ever dare reach for that *human relationship* that is to mirror a commitment between Christ and his bride.


The Rough Patch In The Road

If you’re anything like me, you hit patches in life where you are slightly jaded by the gift of singleness. There is a wistful desire for companionship. Hopefully, the feeling passes and you are able to think clearly as a flexible single woman. The freedom and independence are big ones for me. I’m not going to give those up for just anybody. None of us should.

We sell ourselves short if we settle for someone who isn’t a godly leader. Just as we might get a dear friend’s opinion on something important in life, the same consideration should be given to marriage. And God is the first one we should go to for permission. When we know we have the support of the Almighty Creator of the Universe we know we have something worth fighting for-no matter how tumultuous the trials or how many times the romance wanes. I know God’s ways are sovereign. I know He is all-knowing. He sees who I will marry and He knows the course of my life before it even takes place. The kind of guy I want is someone who reminds me of God, someone who encourages me to grow closer to Him. The whole purpose of marriage is to reflect a glimpse of God’s heart for His Church–to grow deeper and deeper in a sweet communion. Our relationship with Christ is like a marriage commitment. We even grow in similar steps as someone who is pursuing a romantic interest. If only we could see Him that way. If we got butterflies when thinking about Christ, wouldn’t we want to spend more time with Him? Wouldn’t we want to get to know Him more? We’d read His letters [Bible] and reread them. Sound a bit like Christianity as it should be? Yes. We are supposed to fall head-over-heels, madly in love with the One who gave up His life for us. It’s great to have a guy who will say, “I’d die for you.” But the thing is someone has already fulfilled that sweet line. Christ did die for us. That is a guy worth getting to know fully. Let’s work on that relationship foremost, always. And in light of knowing the truth about Him, it should change our views about guys and relationships. We shouldn’t settle for just any marriage prospect. One of my biggest desires is that none of us settle. I hold each woman reading this as dear as I would my own sister. No matter the story, none of us should lower our standards. Even those who don’t feel worthy. We’ve been redeemed. There’s no settling for second best. God will give us peace and discernment in this huge decision. We must be patient and grow in the knowledge of Christ. We must cling to Him and He will direct our paths. I refuse to settle for something less than God’s best. And because of that, I’ve waited a long time. I love my singlehood, but there are a handful of hard moments. It’s not supposed to be easy. There is long-suffering at times. I’m not going to promise laughter, ponies, and rainbows the whole trip. There will be thunderstorms, tears, and earthquakes that kill some of our hopes and dreams of this guy and that guy being “the one.” There is hope, joy, contentment, and fulfillment throughout this journey as we trust and follow after God’s truth. The moment we take our eyes off of Him we notice how fun the dark side looks. We may even eyeball the happy couples and become discontent. As we practice self-control we can live in a peace that passes all understanding. When the right guy comes along, all the waiting will have been worth it. There’s only one guy worth having out there and that’s our future husbands. Let’s forget the hot bad boys we would have a hard time rejecting, or the good-looking distractions that sway us from our God-given goals. Those guys become regrets later. God did not intend for us to jump from relationship to relationship. He wants us to treat these guys with respect and lovingly guard their hearts as well as our own. We must be careful and prayerful in each and every one of our relationships.

1 Corinthians 10:13, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.”


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