Sunday, December 29, 2013

Keep Waiting

It's kind of been a crazy year.
Move to Boston.
Move to New Mexico.
Get engaged.

Yes, it happened. I have this sparkly, heavy thing on my finger and while it seems perfectly simultaneously seems impossible. How did I get here?

After the most perfect engagement with the most perfect sunset with the most perfect man for me, I was soon surrounded by close friends and family to celebrate. They asked how we met, how it happened, different things in order to get to know him better (since he's virtually a stranger to a lot of my friends/family)...and then the question was asked of me, "Debbie, what's your favorite thing about him?"

Obviously I couldn't stop with one, but as I explained how this man had weaseled his way into the depths of my heart...I couldn't help but offer a thanks to the people who surrounded us. They were many people who had prayed for me and with me, cried with me, listened to me, challenged me, encouraged me and loved me as I struggled through the loneliness of I stood broken hearted through unrequited love or uncomfortable break-ups. And as I made phone calls and sent texts, I was reminded of the many others who had offered the hope of what could be as I often sat in the cynicisms of how love could never be what I wanted it to be.

I wish I had listened.
I wish I had believed.
And so, with tears in my eyes, my heart aches to tell the masses of how wonderful it truly is. How it's worth the wait. How hopeful it can be, even when there seem to be no prospects at all. How it's better than anything I could have ever wanted or imagined.

I wish you could listen.
I wish you would believe.
I wish, no matter how hopeless it can feel, that you might believe that someday it could happen for you. That you wouldn't settle for less than what it's supposed to be. Because it's supposed to be good. It's supposed to be a relationship that always points you back toward Jesus. It's supposed to be something that makes you feel like you could do anything. It's supposed to encourage, support, make you know the love of the Lord in a way that's often unbelievable. It's supposed to make you want to sacrifice, do things outside of yourself, to be someone better.

No, it's not perfect and it's not always easy...but it's about something infinitely bigger than us...and so it's better.

I feel blessed. Truly blessed.
Not just to have "finally"met The One, but to have met him exactly when I did. I have these years behind me filled with adventures, filled with opportunities for discipleship and ministry that I may not have had if I had met him any earlier. I have these passions and skills that have been developed and explored and I know more about who I am and who I want to be and what I want to do because I've had time to figure it out. I've had time to walk into it. I love that.

I love that the Lord is so good and knows me so much better than I know myself.
I love that He is so faithful and kind.
I love that He can take a broken, pessimistic, unbelieving heart and turn into it one that is more whole, more optimistic and more full of belief of who He is through His love.

I want that for you.
I want that for women and men who often feel discouraged in their singleness. I want, more than anything, for them to know that obedience to the Lord and following Him fully matters so much more than finding a spouse. And that, oftentimes, along the way, the Lord is going to bring about someone so much greater than all the relationships that we try to force upon ourselves. And, even if He doesn't, it's because He's got something better for us.

My life is drastically different than it was a year ago.
I'm still fumbling through things, trying to love Jesus more and others more through the way I live... but now I have someone to journey with. Sometimes that will make things easier and sometimes that will make things harder.

It's exciting.
And terrifying.
I can't even begin to imagine the bazillion changes in my life that are about to take place, but I never want to lose sight of the Lord, the one thing that's always mattered most in this world. My priority with that can't and won't change.

Keep waiting.
Keep running after the Lord, letting nothing deter you. Keep being honest and real about your frustrations and confusions and disappointment when it comes to relationships (whether you're in one or not)...but don't let it ever cause you to pause in your pursuit of Christ, in your quest to change the world because of what He has done for us.

Because He is a good God.
And He has changed my cynical, stone heart and has replaced it with love.

(Don't worry, I'll post another blog soon about how it all went down!)

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

I Belong

Writing has been hard.
I've been distracted, busy, sick, uninspired or Internet-less... and so it just hasn't happened.

Excuses, right?
"Go chase your dreams!" has been my mantra, and then I've failed to pursue them myself the past several weeks.

What I've probably meant to say is, "Go pursue dreams as long as it's convenient and doesn't interfere with your life and only if it's easy and only if you're constantly excited about the long road ahead of you... and if those things aren't in place, just stop while you can..."

Just kidding.
If people did that, we wouldn't be anywhere.
But, it's kind of where I've been sitting lately.

And now it's Christmas.
My first Christmas to spend with another family.
I'm no stranger to random Christmas services or being in an unfamiliar place during the holidays... but I am quite the stranger to receiving gifts from people without having given them anything in return, especially people I've only just met...and, friends, it's hard.

I sat in a room with another family and cringed as I was handed gift after gift. I don't deserve these, I wanted to cry. You barely know me, my heart screamed. I didn't get you can I take this from you? I felt awkward. Uncomfortable.

But... I felt loved. I felt wanted. I felt like I was being invited into something good. And so I held back the rebuttals (as much as I could, anyway... I think a few, 'Guys... this is too much!' slipped in a time or two) and received the gifts.

I don't deserve them.
I don't deserve to be welcomed into another's family and given to and lavished upon constantly. It's overwhelming. But it's overwhelmingly good... because it paints a clear picture of the Gospel for me. Entering into a place of such humility where one is just loved, cared for, encouraged, given to... for no good reason, by nothing I did or didn't do.

I don't deserve Jesus.
I don't deserve salvation.
I don't deserve to be welcomed into the family.
I haven't done anything. I haven't given anything.
But yet I am chosen. Invited. Welcomed. Part of.

And now one of the biggest questions is what I'm going to do with the gift. Is it enough to just receive it? Or am I called to more than that? Is it enough to just acknowledge that I'm now a part of this family, despite the fact that I don't deserve it....and to take and take and take?

I want to utilize the gift. To share the gift. To tell others about it. To invite others into it. I want the gift to extend beyond me. I want others to have what I have. To have it to the fullest.

So what am I doing about it?

It's Christmas.
This radically crazy, miraculous time where we celebrate the birth of the King, the Savior... but do we remember what it means? Do we care? Have we grown numb? Have we just come to expect expect expect to get what we want? Have we forgotten that we never deserved it all in the first place?

For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

This is what matters.
Abundantly more than anything else.
It's Good News.

I belong.
Because of Jesus, I belong.
I am loved, given to excessively, welcomed in, part of.
I am His and He is mine.

No matter what.
I hope you find that security today. In the midst of all the holiday chaos, changes, moments where things may not go the way we want or expect, reminders of what we have lost/what we don't have...I pray that you'd be reminded of that one truth and it would cover everything else in joy, in peace, in goodness. I pray that it would, somehow, prevail over all else.

Because it's Good News.
You're invited in, welcomed in, given to, able to be part of.
You belong.

Today I'm humbled.

I belong.
To something deeply beautiful and far beyond my own understanding...and I'm thankful for the earthly things that remind me of such wonderful truths.

Merry Christmas, friends.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Put Me in Coach

I used to think that playing sports with boys for the first time was somehow different from playing sports with anyone for the first time.

While confident in my own ability to catch a frisbee, hit a ball, run somewhat adequately...there's always this fear that comes with having to prove myself able. Because, you don't just walk onto a field or court and have everyone just know that you're going to be useful to them as a teammate. You have to earn it. 

Playing sports with boys for the first time quiets my soul, especially when I don't really know 'said' boys. Warm-ups are crucial because in those first ten minutes, I must show them that I'm not entirely incompetent. My game-face is on. I don't want to be that girl who runs around on the field, waving her hands for a pass and somehow gets completely neglected every time. I don't want to be that girl on the volleyball court who has guys diving in front of her to get balls because they're scared when I touch it, it'll soar the wrong direction. I don't want to be a benchwarmer.

Perhaps it's pride. 
But part of it is just that I love playing sports and when I'm playing with people who trust me to, ultimately, do a good job even when I mess up from time to time (because who is perfect?)...I feel empowered, I feel enabled. There's a joy, an excitement, a pressing on to becoming a better player. My teammates encourage me when they throw me a pass, believing that I might score...that I might bring success to our team. To know that I'm on a team where I had a part (no matter how small) of the victory...there's not a lot that can replace that feeling. I want in that game. 

I recently attended a conference and one of the seminars I went to was on women in ministry. Women leaders in ministry, specifically. I began to hear the chorus of women who struggled to find their place among men...whether that was a self-doubt brought on by lies and insecurities, or whether they actually met external opposition from the men they worked with...not one of us could fully admit that being a woman in a leadership position had come without any sort of tension. Whether single, married, assistants, directors, program people, administrative people, old, young...there was a common thread of figuring out how to weave our gifts and passions into a traditionally male-dominated culture with balance, grace and humility.  

And so here's where the sports parallel comes in. 
As much as I like to think playing sports with guys feels different than playing sports with girls, it doesn't always. In fact, it's the playing sports with new people that'll get you. Because, you don't know how they're going to play. Joining up with an indoor league of female volleyball players can be just as intimidating as jumping into a soccer match with a bunch of males. 

I think the key is knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and being able to act accordingly. While I know I won't ever be as a fast as 90% of the guys on the field, I know that if I'm thrown the frisbee, I'll usually be able to do something good with it. I know that while I'm never going to be a spiking and blocking queen, I can assist in setting and attempting to hustle. 

I guess I think that my role in ministry doesn't have to be much different. As a woman playing sports, I can acknowledge weaknesses (and strengths...) I might possess because I'm a woman in the arena, but it doesn't mean that I can't play. It doesn't mean that I can't compete. It doesn't mean that I don't have something good to offer to the team. I have to be confident, I have to be willing to put myself out there, I have to be willing to call for the frisbee, to go for the ball... and I have to be willing to screw up every so often. I have to know my limitations and plan accordingly. I have to earn the trust of my peers, my teammates. I have to prove that I'm capable. It doesn't matter if my teammates are all males, all females, or comprised of both. Who I am going into the game doesn't change. The things I'm good at, the things that I'm bad at, the things that I need to work on... they remain the same. How I can better utilize those things can change based on my teammates, though.

As a woman in ministry, it's easy to feel intimidated, inadequate, to allow the fears of what others may be thinking of you to interfere with your ability to play. It's easy to assume that no one wants you on their team because you're a girl and don't have anything good to offer. Sometimes, unfortunately, the assumptions may even be correct. But, I think that as women, we're in a place of being able to prove ourselves to people. We can show that we have what it takes. That we can work hard. That we are competent. That we do have something good to offer.

We get to choose.
We get to be women who get to decide if we're going to play or just run around aimlessly hoping someone will throw us the ball (and, if they don't... are we going to be women who go out of our way and hustle to make sure we get the ball?).

I think when we really go all out and prove ourselves able, we are going to find ourselves supported and backed by our teammates. We are going to feel enabled. We are going to feel empowered. People will start to believe in us...truly believe in us.

And the best part of all of this is that you don't have to be athletic to prove yourself adequate. You just have to know your gifts and strengths within the ministry you are in and make sure you are living out of them to the fullest. Make sure you are reliable when you get thrown the ball, make sure you do something good with it...and make sure you enable your teammates to be successful, too (don't be a ball-hog).

It's a cool opportunity.
Always filled with room for fears, hesitations, possible limitations and intimidating responsibilities... but it doesn't mean that we ever have to be stuck in those.

Believe in yourself.
Believe in the place that the Lord has you in right now.
Believe that He has given you gifts, passions, dreams and that you can utilize those wherever you are.

Catch the frisbee.
Dive for the ball.
Be invested in a team that is doing something you believe in... a team that is making waves in eternity... and do your part in it.

It's the body of Christ.
Function like it.

And yes, maybe in a perfect world people would always just throw us the ball and give us opportunity regardless of our gender, our age, our known abilities... but, in my experience, it doesn't always work out like that. In knowing that sometimes things aren't always ideal, I still want to be used to the fullest... I still want all of us to press harder into being a part of the team. A valuable part. A necessary part.

Let's get off the bench.
Let's get ready to play.

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Use It

Reading the Bible is still hard for me.

After of many years of forcing myself to pick it up every day, I had quite the hiatus and the last year has proven to be difficult in resuming such discipline in my life. It's hard to read it with a fresh perspective, to not scan through the text quickly as though I already know everything it says. It's hard to not skim over familiar Bible stories, to tune out when I get to a verse that I know by heart. It's hard to sit. To be focused. To absorb. To want more.

But, I know it's good. I know it's true. And I know that I want the Word written all over my heart and I'll never get there if I refuse to try. I need it. And I can't act like I don't.

And so, the other day, I flipped through the pages of Isaiah, quickly eyeing the things I've underlined in the past...recognizing that I didn't have nearly enough time to even begin to dive into the depth of each passage. I decided Paul was a better choice for the moment and found myself in Romans. Romans 12.

I forgot that sometimes when I read Scripture (even Scripture I've read hundreds of times) new things can leap out at me. That sometimes it can be fresh. Sometimes (usually always, if I'm willing) it can transform my outlook for the day...and even for my life. I like it, especially, when it backs my own thoughts...and I'm often reminded that my thoughts have been rooted in and shaped by Scripture.

Lately I've been an advocate of doing what you're passionate advocate of following dreams... of living large. Too often I think we get lazy, we get discouraged, we get fearful, we feel hopeless. Too often I think we allow life to seize us and when things get hard, it's easier to stay within the confines that we know we can handle. Too often we take jobs for security, convenience... too often we stay in relationships for comfort...too often we stay close to home because leaving feels too hard.

But I read this yesterday:
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
If you're like me, you've probably read this Scripture quite a few times in your life. In fact (if you're like me), you probably just skimmed over it because you knew what it said.

But, this time, I'm struck by the simplicity of it.
Basically, I feel like Paul is saying, "Hey... if you have a gift that you've been given, use it". If you know how to serve, serve. If you can teach? Teach. If you're great at encouragement, give anyone and everyone encouragement. If you love to give, give and give and give.

And I just wonder how many of us are doing what we're good at? How many of us are using the gifts that we've been given in ways that truly matter? How many of us are doing whatever it takes, being diligent in our strengths, giving ourselves wholly to the developing of we can be the best we can possibly be to glorify the Lord with our entirety?

I want that.
I want that for me.
I want that for the ministry I work in.
I want that for believers all over.
I want that for the church.

That we would be a people who can recognize that we've each been given different gifts...and then that we might use them. Fully. With everything we are. That we wouldn't allow any excuse to get in the way of doing whatever it takes to be better, to excel, to thrive... to simply do good things with what we've been given.

Can it be simple?
Can we just do?
Can we stop making it all so complicated and walk confidently in who we are created to be? In the things that we are good at? Can we focus on ways that we might allow our different gifts to have an eternal impact in this short lifetime here that we are given?

Maybe it means stepping out of our comfort zone, doing something risky, leaving something behind... maybe it means spending more money, maybe it means putting yourself out there, maybe it means facing possible rejection. Maybe it means a lot of things that you don't love the idea of...

But what if we trusted the Lord with the gifts that have been bestowed to us and then walk fully into them, confident that He who we serve is faithful and good?

Let's be bold with our gifts.
Let's let it be simple.
Whatever you've been given, use it.
It's time.
You were made to thrive so that He might be more glorified.

Let's thrive.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Imperfectly Perfect

"I can't wait until I meet the perfect guy..."

I'm not sure how often I've said this to myself, somehow convincing myself that perfection was attainable. As much as I could tell myself that perfection didn't exist, somewhere in me I thought it still could. My list was comprised of a well-rounded man who excelled in not just one thing, but many things. He would be well-liked, well-received, a sacrificial lover of Jesus and a hard-worker by nature. In addition to his many fantastic character traits, he would be beautiful. Handsome. Strong. Athletic.

He could do no wrong.
At least on paper.
He was perfect.

My desire for Perfection in a mate was reflective of my desire for perfection within myself. The two seemed intrinsically linked. If I could attain perfection myself, then it wasn't unfair for me to expect that from someone else. If I could be all things to all people at all times (including the Lord and myself)... then why couldn't someone else do the same? I think there have been times when I foolishly walked through life thinking I could, that I would...and, as a result, so could he....and so would he. Because, after all, if Perfection is attainable and I'm a living example of could I ever coexist with someone who would mar my perfection? How could I ever even consider someone who wasn't willing to strive for the very best? How could I ever think about being with someone who might mess up? Wouldn't that make me look bad?

Surprisingly enough, not long ago, Perfection waltzed into my life. At least, what Perfection had looked like on my paper. I decided to read through the list the 19-year-old version of myself had created (as much as I don't even really believe in list-making anymore because of how it can set us up for faulty expectations/hopes sometimes), and I was astounded. Could he really be...Perfection...?

Before you go off on me and tune me out because I'm all gushy/mushy/sap-face now, know that I'm not delusional. The thing about lists is that you somehow forget, while making them, that everyone has flaws. You're only putting down the things that you want, not always remembering that with all the things you want...there's inevitably going to be some things you don't want. We typically don't make our lists thinking about all the 'bad' things that we'd be willing to put up with. And sometimes we tend to forget that no matter how perfect someone might appear, it's something that's far from reality. Because, my friends, in case you aren't one is perfect. No matter how many items on the list you can check off when Perfection comes along, it doesn't mean that they're actually perfect.

They can do wrong. And they will do wrong.

So, rather than dating Perfection...I've been realizing that I'm dating Imperfection. And, beyond that, I'm realizing that it's so much better.

I had this moment last night where I realized how beautiful it all really is. This epiphany where, in the recognition of his imperfections....I am made aware that I am also deeply imperfect. There was this moment of freedom from what anyone else in life thinks about me/my love life. This recognition that no matter how much I try to people-please and have everyone on the outside looking in thinking that I have everything under control....there was this freedom from needing them to think that the guy I'm dating is the most wonderful guy in the world all the time (which, I'm personally still pretty convinced he holds the title of).

But.... he's not perfect.
He'll be the first to say that he's not, but the first to welcome in any sort of criticism that helps him move toward better (and yes, he reads my blog, knows I'm writing about him and supports me wholeheartedly in it). I have a lot to learn from him.

The moment last night reminded me that I'm dating someone who isn't perfect. And it's okay. As much as part of my heart wanted to fight against the reality of the situation (somehow still trying to think that perfection was attainable), I sunk into a deep awareness of my own sin, struggles, imperfections. Not only is the grace that covers me day in and day out my own to seize, but it is also his. That somehow, in this moment, I was fully aware and fully humbled by how good the Lord is.

I'm dating Imperfection.
But in dating Imperfection, I'm blown away by how wonderful it is. How I get to see, yet again, Christ's grace as He gives us abundantly more than we deserve. As He allows two sinners to come together and try to communicate, to attempt to depict a picture of Him. I get to see Christ's grace as Imperfection offers me grace and I, in my own imperfection, attempt to offer it back.

It's this imperfect mess that's entirely perfect.

Too often I think we can get caught up in the paralyzation that comes when imperfection hits...especially as it concerns other people. Will they notice? What will they think? How can I make this better? What can I do to prove to them that I'm better? What can I say to justify why I did this? And then, when we are attached to someone else, similar thoughts invade when their imperfection threatens to damage our own image.

But what if we could be people who exist fully secure in our imperfections and the imperfections of others because we know that our hope for anything greater lies solely in the saving grace of Jesus Christ?

Of course my boyfriend isn't perfect.
Neither am I.
We never will be, but we're striving for better.
And when the criticisms come, when the imperfection strikes...I pray that we not look it in the face with a sense of hopelessness or surprise, but that we push forward into the better. That we allow our imperfections to shape us, refine us, to move us into more of an image of Christ... and that we simultaneously are reminded of how in need we are of the blood that covers us.

It's both humbling and beautiful.
And it's better than perfection.
The reminder that I cannot without Jesus...and neither can he.
Because we are imperfect. We are in need. And may we both rely completely on the Lord to be our Savior and never on each other.

It's imperfectly perfect.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Is it Lust?

I remember being in a prayer circle many years ago (you know, the type where you 'popcorn' around and different people get chances to pray and after the long, awkward silence someone finally closes... much to everyone's delight). In this particular prayer time, one of the guys threw up a prayer rather passionately: Jesus, we just lust after you!

We do?
Is that... okay?

But it's made me ask an important question that I'm not sure many people are even asking: what is lust?

We talk about it a lot, we say it's sin, we tell people to avoid it... to flee from it... but do we even know what it is? Can it be defined? Is it subjective? Are there certain degrees of lust? Does simply finding someone else attractive mean that you're lusting after them? Scripture/Jesus tells us that if a man even looks at a woman lustfully he has committed adultery in his heart.

So let's make sure we know what lust is... and let's make sure we know what lust is not.

Dear old dictionary tells us that lust is a 'very strong sexual desire' or a 'passionate desire for something' (in this second definition, I think my friend's prayer may have actually been a-okay...although it certainly tends to have a 'sinful' connotation to it).

I asked the professor I had for Human Sexuality this question, too. She thought lust had a lot to do with objectification, a sexual longing for someone else that made them more of an object of your possible gratification instead of an actual person.

Maybe it's all blurry and fuzzy and the moment we start to think that someone is attractive, that's the moment that we immediately go to sex land in our head... but I don't think it always has to be that way, meaning that I don't think we need to be scared of finding others attractive. (I don't think we need to be scared of being attractive, either. In the world of modesty, it can be easy to feel like we're sometimes not allowed to want to be attractive because of how it might cause others to 'lust' after us.)

I guess I'm not sure if there's a specific line that you can cross that means you've automatically moved into lust-land, either. It's easy to want to create that, to create boundaries, to create universal rules for how someone can know when they've started lusting... but, unfortunately, I don't think it's as easy as that. I think, for every person, it's going to look different. It's going to be this smattering of how we were raised, where we were raised, what we've been exposed to, what choices we've made, how our bodies function. I think it's unfair to say that what might cause one person to lust will always cause another person to lust. I think it's unfair to say that lust is always the result of finding someone attractive.

I do think my professor was onto something. At the point when someone becomes an object (especially a sex object) as someone to daydream over, fantasize about, consider 'dating' only because you want to get physical with them... I think that's the point in which we can call it 'lusting'. But to find someone attractive beyond just the physical (remembering that they're a person and not just a body), then I think it's different.

Mostly I just don't want us to be people who are scared of attraction. People who are so scared of finding the opposite gender desirable because we think it's intrinsically linked to lust. Yes, flee from lust. Flee from allowing your mind to exist in a place where sex/sexual thoughts are all consuming, the place where it doesn't matter who people are but what they might be able to offer you physically or how their looks satisfy your eyes. Flee from anything that separates the person from the body and allows them to be glorified solely for their outward beauty.

Because we have to be willing to look beyond that.
To see people as people. People with stories, lives, dreams, brokenness, families, fears, imperfections.

I can't tell you that lust is going to happen when you do X (fill in whatever thing you want here)... but I can tell you that it is certainly more likely to happen when you participate in things that strip people of their being. When you're ogling and sexually fantasizing about all the possibilities... (and yes, this can still happen even when you deeply care about someone outside of their physical beauty).

It's a fine line.
It's a line that many would rather not play with, but one that we inevitably seem to. Because we are sexual beings and it's hard to separate ourselves from that sometimes. But, we must. We must be willing to have self-control, to flee, to step away from situations and people who cause us to move into that place of separating body from soul.

Just don't be scared of real, genuine, beautiful attraction. Don't be scared to see others as wonderful creations... just know where your line is, what your limits are. I'm not trying to give any sort of justification for lusting... or give you a reason to think that you're not lusting when you are. I think you probably know when it happens. I think you probably know what lusting is for you. Don't adopt someone else's line for yourself. Being willing to be honest about what lusting is for you, and steer clear.

Be aware of what lusting is not. And be aware of what lusting is. Be willing to have conversations with people you know/trust (probably older, wiser people) about it, too. I think the more willing we are to engage in conversations about seemingly uncomfortable things, the more we are able to learn and grow from them.

It's an interesting topic...this thing called lust. May it not be something that ever defines us, but another thing that the Lord redeems us from, saves us from and refines us in.
(And yes. Girls do lust.)

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pride Sucks

I've been pretty disappointed with myself lately.

I didn't really recognize why initially, but I'm starting to figure it out. I'm prideful. I'm still so prideful. It's this mixture of wanting approval, thinking I'm right, thinking other people are wrong, wanting to justify and defend myself when they thing I'm wrong, believing I'm capable and believing others are incapable.

It's stupid.
And gross.
And destructive.

I've had a few situations lately where I'm interacting with someone and they think they are so right in their opinion. While I don't even necessarily disagree with them, I'm so frustrated that they are approaching something with such an unwillingness to see another perspective... and I find myself retaliating. Fighting against something, defending something... and I don't even know why. Other than proving someone else wrong, or proving myself (and whatever stance I don't necessarily have) right.

It's mostly because I don't always have strong stances on things that other people do. Mostly because I recognize that there always seem to be exceptions to the rules. There always seem to be reasons to act in one way when, most of the time, we might say not to. And so often those reasons seem to come into play when it directly involves us....when it benefits us.

Mostly I just hate double standards....fully aware that I have my own (can we appreciate the irony of this statement?). And I hate pride. Within myself and within others. Because it destroys. It makes us become people who feel the need to always be right... who feel like we're the only ones every doing anything right... and when our pride is wounded, we are quickly defensive, hurt and are often likely to push back (or throw our own little pity party of self-sabotage).

I don't like it.
I don't like who I become when pride seems to be taking control of my life. I'm quickly defensive, quickly unapologetic, quickly justifying all my actions. And when pride my pride is poked at, I can immediately go into self-preservation mode. If someone hints that I'm wrong, that I've done things incorrectly...I desperately long to show them my reasoning behind my actions, my decisions, my thought-process. I can't have them thinking ill of me, right? I want them to think I'm right, that I'm doing good things, that I'm moving in the right direction...

It's all rooted in pride.

You know how you can be trucking along, thinking things are good and that you're doing all right? That you've got things under control and that you've got it all figured out? And then you start recognizing these places/things in you that aren't good...and you're reminded, yet again, of the darkness that dwells within? You're reminded that you're still a sinner... that you still can't do it, no matter how good things are. And as much as pride consumes you at times, you fall on your face recognizing that you can't ever possibly save yourself. You can't ever possibly do enough right, enough good. You can't ever win enough arguments or convince enough people that you're right. You can't. And even if you could, it wouldn't matter.

But with the Lord, all things are possible.
That even in the midst of our darkness, He is willing to do the impossible for us. He's already done it.

I don't think I'll ever escape the darkness of my pride here on this earth. It will unleash itself in various forms throughout my life and I'll go through the cycle of hating how it controls me at times. But there's always the reminder. The reminder that I have been saved not because I can do anything right or good or wonderful... but because Jesus came and He died and He rose... because He loved me even when I'm a prideful, wounded mess.

There's nothing that can kill our pride more quickly than being reminded of that truth.

So when the pride consumes, takes root, makes us people we don't like looking at... I pray that we would be struck by the truth of the Gospel, that we would fall to our knees in humility....that we would be completely reminded that we can't do this...but God can... He has.

How truly thankful I am.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Impatiently Patient

A life filled with blessing...
It's hard to wrap my mind around, honestly.

My mom told me not too long ago how cool it is for her to see how the Lord has been blessing my patience lately. In a sense, I felt like she was saying, "Debbie, because you've done this, the Lord is giving you this." My first instinct was to laugh, though. If I've been anything the last 29 years of my life, patience would never make the list.

And, in the context of our conversation, I began to remind her of the thousands of ways the Lord had been faithful to me in my impatience. Remember the time that I thought I was in love with that guy and would have dated him in a heartbeat if he had ever noticed my existence...? Or the time when I was dating that guy who was all sorts of wrong for me but I was willing to do whatever it would take because I was so set on loving him forever, but then he broke up with me...? Or how about the time when I just decided none of it mattered and gave up on love because it would never be what I wanted it to be...? Or the hundreds of times that I tried to kill any desire I had for a spouse because it seemed too hard to be in a place of wanting and not having but I never could let it go...? Or the times that I thought I liked a guy just because he was nice and I wasn't sure anyone else would come along...? Or when I sorta, kinda online dated because I felt slightly, sorta, desperate...?

I've been nothing but impatient.

But then my mom graciously reminded me of all the many times that I could have dated, that I could have fought for relationships, that I could have, maybe possibly, have even entered into more serious relationships that could have resulted in marriage. She reminded me of how I ended relationships and stepped away from men that weren't going to be good for me. She reminded me that, on some level, there were a lot of things I wasn't willing to compromise on... a lot of times when I was unwilling to budge even when I was lonely, single and had no prospects in my future.

Isn't it nice to have a mom?
Where I see my desperation and impatience, she sees my patience and obedience.
If we're being honest, there's probably some combination of the two in full force.

Mostly I just feel absolutely indebted to the Lord for His faithfulness to me when I made foolish decisions in the midst of my impatience. He sustained me. He even allowed my heart to be broken over and over again in my attempts to control my entire love life and have things happen in my own perfect time and in my own perfect way. He saw me through all of those times, reminding me of His infinite goodness...even when I couldn't fully understand it at the time. Even through the tears, the wondering, the confusion...the painful stabs I made toward Him as I struggled to understand how a Father who claimed to be good could cause me such grief as the heartache I was consumed by...He was good

But then there's also this realization that, as much as I made stupid decisions, I also made some good ones. I didn't just date whomever so I could have a boyfriend. I didn't have to find my worth in needing to be validated by males throughout my entire existence.

And as the Lord showed me His faithfulness over time in this area of my life, I longed to show mine back to Him (however imperfectly it might look). I wasn't willing to settle. I couldn't anymore. I wouldn't. There are things to never compromise on. As the Lord had been faithful in not letting me enter into relationships I thought I wanted, and as He scooped me back up again and again when I felt broken and lonely and desperate...He's reminded me that His plan is worth waiting for. That He is, indeed, faithful.

Because I'm impatient.
I think, to some degree, I always will be.
But I still wait.
Because sometimes you just have to wait. And, sometimes you get little bouts of patience while you wait (because the Lord is kind and gracious)....and the waiting seems pretty great and actually tolerable. And then sometimes it seems unbearable.

The Lord is bigger than all of it though.
He's bigger than your impatience and your innate ability to try to destroy and sabotage your own life (because, on some level, we all have a tendency to do that). He is sovereign and good and kind and gentle and faithful... and even through all of our heartache and despair that we often can't see how the Lord could possibly be in the midst of.... He is there. Because the story is bigger than the moment we are in.

And so sometimes we get to wait. Sometimes we have to wait. And sometimes it sucks.

But I pray that we can be people who trust in the goodness of the waiting. That we can be both impatient and patient... trusting that God is faithful. Truly faithful. And He actually is a good Father who gives abundantly more than we ever deserve.

So, be patient... even when you're impatient (I recognize that's quite the paradox, but it's how I live my life). Keep waiting. Live in the hope of the promise of a good and faithful God.

Totally worth it, guys.
Being in the midst of blessings that you know you don't deserve, but you also know you waited for (and hoped for)...and somehow these blessings, in the fullness of the Lord's grace, He orchestrated for you. Completely for you.

Patiently and Impatiently.
But wait.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Legendary Summer

Would you consider doing something crazy?
Would you consider doing something uncomfortable, nonsensical, risky? 
Would you consider doing something that requires lots of sweat, little sleep, continually giving when you feel like you have nothing left to give? 

Would you consider doing whatever it takes because you know, in the end, that the cause is worth it? 

I jumped on board a giant ship (Glorieta Camps) that's accelerating at full speed and there's no chance of getting off. I'm not sure, even if I could, that I would. It's sometimes terrifying, but mostly exhilarating. Do we have what it takes to make it to the final destination? Do we have enough steam? Enough energy? Do we have the right resources? Enough manpower? 

Do we even know what we've really gotten ourselves into? Probably not. But we're trusting. Trusting that the Lord sustains, provides and is sovereign in this crazy endeavor! 

I don't normally do this in blog posts, but this time I must. As incredible of an opportunity that we are in the midst of, we're in over our heads. We need help. The task before us is enormous and we need people who are willing to get dirty. Who are willing to jump in as we start something that's even bigger than our dreams. 

Would you consider it?

Being a part of something that has everything to do with the Gospel changing lives for eternity? Being part of a place that utilizes outdoor adventure, authentic relationships and Biblical truth to move people toward Jesus? 

Would you consider dropping everything, sacrificing money and time and your comforts to step into a place of unknowns...but a place that you can undoubtedly know that the Lord is using you, working in you, changing lives through you? 

It's rarely easy.
But it's worth it. 
Every time. 

Because God changes lives. He saves His people. He calls them back to Himself over and over again. He uses His creation, He uses experiences, He uses relationships, He uses Scripture to remind us of who He is. And He asks us to follow. To leave everything behind. To trust Him as we abandon the things we think we need and allow Him to supply us with our actual needs. 

We need help.
We need people who are willing. 
People who fervently love the Lord and who are longing to get dirty. 
Would you consider joining us on this incredible journey?

Would you think about applying to join our 2014 Summer be a part of a summer that will be undeniably legendary as we continue on with the history of Glorieta, but simultaneously start up new programs and build new activities? 

Would you think about passing this along to people you know who might want to be a part of such an adventure? People who will work hard, serve well, and love deeply? 

We're making history. 
We're inviting the Lord to do radical things in this place, expecting Him to move in mighty ways, for lives to be truly changed. And we want people who are on board, who are eager, who are ready, who are willing. 

Pass it on.
We need workers. 

Consider it.
A summer of true life-change. 
A summer of God moving.
A summer of redemption, of hope, of love.
A summer you'll never forget.
A summer of getting dirty.
A summer that will, indeed, be Legendary. 

Your entries will remain anonymous

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Weighty Responsibilities

I was giggling with a few ladies at work yesterday about love and marriage and the wonders of it all, fully aware that I was, yes, giddy and ridiculous (not to mention...giggly...what dread!).

I have moved from that girl to that girl almost overnight. Meaning...where I once was skeptical, cynical, and a doubter of love, I am now fully convinced that it is possible, beautiful and every bit as good as I hoped it could be (if not better). I'm the kind of person that might make other people want to gag. Oh well.

In the process of the giggling, sharing and a general excitement about how good life can be, one of my friends looked at me with tears in her eyes and reminded me of the great responsibility that comes with such a blessing. That with marriage comes a clear picture of the Gospel...and in marriage, we carry the weight of sharing that picture with the world.

It's a picture of unconditional love.
Of grace.
Of sacrifice and selflessness. Of humility.
It's a picture of forgiveness. A picture of not holding past grievances against the other. A picture of faithfulness in the face of unfaithfulness. A picture of love.

It's a picture of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes I think we forget it. How easy it is to be consumed with ourselves, our happiness, what we "need", and what we aren't getting. How easy it is to stack up all the wrongs someone has committed and throw them in their face the moment it becomes convenient or helps us 'win' the argument. How easy it is to see all we have done and wonder when they are going to pick up their end of the slack. How easy it is to whine, to complain, to remind them of all the things they said they were going to do but haven't gotten around to yet.

How easy it is for an earthly relationship that's intended to paint a beautiful portrayal of who Christ is to suddenly turn into something filled with despair, loneliness, brokenness, and selfishness.

It's a great weight, indeed.

Don't worry friends, I'm not getting married anytime soon...but as people even think about the possibility of getting married, I want us to be a people who don't forget the weighty responsibility of it that my friend reminded me of. That marriage isn't about us. What it points to is significantly greater than our own wants, our own needs, our own dreams.

And without Christ at the center of these relationships, it becomes impossible to move forward into them in a way that truly depicts Him. We're unable to love each other as fully, unable to move past ourselves, unable to see the broader scope of eternity as we get sucked into the discomforts of everyday living/trials.

I know nothing is perfect here, but I have high hopes that there is beauty in the broken. That there are reflections of Christ in even the most imperfect things. That as we seek to love Him, to know Him, to follow Him more wholly...that there will be shadows of how it was intended to be here on this earth. Things that we get to partake in, even if they are only moments, glimpses, pieces...

May they always point back to Him.
May our relationships be reflections of the greatest love of all... and may we rely heavily on Him as we attempt, with our own imperfections, to love another imperfect person. Through His grace, His love, His kindness...may we learn the fullness of what it means to choose someone else, to love them, to walk with them through all things.

May we never give up...may we never give in.
Instead, may we live to the fullest....sucking every joy out of this life, and painting a picture of Christ to everyone within reach that's undeniably filled His love and grace.

A weighty responsibility.
One to not take lightly, but one I pray that we are willing to seize if ever given the chance.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Letting in Light

The Comment:
I've struggled/sometimes still struggle with looking at pornography and sending inappropriate photos. It causes me so much guilt and shame, I'm afraid of being judged and condemned. I know that both are wrong things to do but my friend showed me both and they satisfied my desires and made me and others (I'm a people pleaser) feel good and satisfied. I don't know how to stop and I lack accountability because I don't want to be labeled as dirty and gross. What can I do!? I can't live in this sin and entrapped by guilt much more. How do I ask for accountability/share? 
Thanks for your honesty and your willingness to come forward. Despite the anonymity of your comment, I think it's a good first step toward being willing to talk to someone else in your life about all of this.

Because it's hard. It's an issue that's covered in guilt and shame and despair....and the longer it happens, the deeper you get into it, the darker it feels. It's easy to think that it's better to never tell anyone at all than it is to admit how far you've gone, how much you've been willing to compromise. There are the times of self-commitments... I won't tell anyone, I'll just stop. Then it'll be okay. But then it doesn't stop. Sometimes you just feel completely out of control and you barely recognize yourself anymore. There are moments of weeping, brokenness, disgust...wondering what you've become. And then you're enticed for more because it's oddly satisfying. At least for a moment.

But the satisfaction never lasts.
It's fleeting.
And sometimes the satisfaction is still tainted by the depth of despair you know you're swallowed up in.

You have to get out.
Which means being willing to whatever it takes. In this instance, I think it's going to mean bringing light into the darkness. Talking about it. Being willing to go through a period where you feel like others might judge you, where others might see you in the way that you've been seeing yourself...dirty and gross. Or, at least a period where you feel like that's what they are thinking of you (even if they are not). A trusted mentor, a trusted friend...someone who will remind you gently of the redemption found in Christ, but someone who will not let you settle for less. Someone who will push you toward purity.

Ultimately, it has to be something that you want more than anything else.
There's freedom.
So much freedom to be found.
Will you walk in it?
Will you do whatever it takes, even if it means feeling exposed and dirty in the process??
The outcome is worth it-- of that I am sure.

On some level you just have to do it. You just have to decide you're going to put it out there and follow through with it. To send them a text or an email ahead of time and say, "I need to meet with you to talk to you about something really important. I don't want to talk to you about it, but I need to. I need you to make me talk about it."

Don't let it be optional for yourself.
And, honestly, if you think accountability isn't going to be enough...go see a professional counselor. If it's an addiction, that will be your better option.

In addition to accountability/counseling, there are going to be some hard questions that you're going to need to be willing to process through for yourself. Because stopping a behavior is one thing, but getting to the root of why you even want to be involved in the behavior is another. Why do you look at porn? How does it benefit does it enhance your life? What do you take away from it? When are you prone to look at it? What situations/emotions lead you into it? Why is hard for you to not do it? Why do you send inappropriate pictures of yourself to others- it is because you are asked to or because you just want to? How do you feel about yourself before/during/after? How does it make you and also the recipient a better person?

There are a lot of questions (much more than what I listed up there)... a lot of questions because there's something important about getting down to the core of the issue. I can tell you all day long to just STOP...but, I want us to figure out what's going on.  To be willing to examine why there's the temptation and why it's so hard to stop. To figure out what you're getting out of this exchange that you're not finding elsewhere.

And, in order to do those things... you have to be willing to talk about it. To go there. To walk into the darkness, holding onto a lantern...and even though you might be terrified of what lies around the corner, you're not alone. You're never alone as you face the demons, the sins, the struggles. And there is hope. There is freedom.

I can't claim that for you enough...but you have to be willing to believe it yourself.
You have to be willing to go there, to do what it takes, to open up...
You have to want the freedom (as uncomfortable and scary as it seems initially) more than the cage that you're currently in. You have to be willing to fight for it, to bleed for it, to die to yourself for it. And if you can't make yourself get there, I pray that you would beg the Lord for Him to help you in the process.

Walk in freedom.
Let in the light.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, November 4, 2013

Stop Looking?

The Comment:
When you stop looking they say that is when he comes into your life... Is it wrong to think that is bogus?
Is it wrong? Probably not.
But, that's probably not what you're really trying to ask. Wrong implies that it's sinful, bad, incorrect thinking. It's not any of those things. Can you be skeptical about that statement? Absolutely. But, it's also hard to refute that in some instances that has proven to be true...that sometimes, someone has stopped looking....and then immediately he did appear.

I don't personally hate the statement. I don't love it, either. I think my biggest beef with statements like that is that they tend to generalize things too much. They seem to come with a invisible clause that makes you feel like a person is saying, 'Until you stop looking, you won't find him.' Which might be fine if it were true. But, it's not. There are too many other cases where people are looking and find the love of their life.

I think that's often the problem with dating/relationship advice. People have a tendency to get caught up in what they know to be true and good in their own lives and then they think that it must be the standard for how it's supposed to be. It makes sense, but I think it often breeds a certain feeling of inadequacy in others if they don't feel like they measure up or are doing it 'right'.

There were countless times where I heard the same phrase that you mentioned (just Google the quote and some version of the idea is smattered I was convinced that my problem was that I never could seem to stop looking. Everywhere I looked, I saw potential. How could I ever get to a point where I didn't? It seemed unfathomable to me. When I talked to a cool guy, I couldn't help but wonder... when I walked into a new place, I would scan the room for attractive males. And yet the words of many ran through my mind... if only I stop looking, then maybe this will happen.

So sometimes I tried. I really tried.
I prayed about it a lot, recognizing that if it were to ever'd have to be some supernatural force. It typically resulted in me not feeling like a very good Christian. Clearly I'm too focused on men and not enough on the Lord... and if I really cared abundantly more about God, I wouldn't be so caught up in wondering about all the 'what-ifs' with guys. Guilt plagued me. Not only did I feel incompetent in focusing solely on Christ, but I thought if I couldn't do that fully then I would never even meet a guy.

It was weird how the two got so twisted together in my brain. I struggled a lot with balance, with feeling like I idolized males too much...and even if anything ever did happen with a guy, I was scared that the Lord would ask me to give him up because I would be too obsessed or something.

It doesn't work like that. It was flawed theology.
The Lord isn't cruel and out to get us. He is jealous for us, absolutely, but He loves us and wants good things for us. He wants to bless us with things...while simultaneously refining us into a better image of Himself. He also doesn't work in a one specific way all of the time.

And, I think we need to remember we hope for romantic love here on earth and as we offer advice to others who hope for it. Just because it worked for us in one way doesn't mean it's a general rule for how it's going to (or how it should) work for someone else. Just because someone tells us that's how it worked for them, it doesn't mean that our story is going to look anything like that.

Mostly I think we just need to relax. To not look so hard to find some formula, some potion for love to magically appear. It'll happen. And when it happens, that will look different, too. You may know immediately you've met your husband or it may take you three years to figure it out.

We have to be people who allow for the Lord to work uniquely in our own lives (and other's lives) and to be willing to follow Him above all else. If that leads us to and through different things where we are simultaneously wondering what man we might meet in the process... cool. Don't let it deter you from walking wholeheartedly with the Lord though. If following Him fully leads us to and through different things where we are completely oblivious to anyone of the opposite gender that's around us? Cool. Keep doing your thing.

There isn't a right way. It's not hopeless if you're more like me and feel unable to turn off that 'switch' that makes you stop looking for a mate. It doesn't make you a bad person, a bad Christian, a pathetic or desperate lady. It's just part of who you are and it's good to be aware of it... and good to not let it consume you.

And so... maybe it's okay to think it's bogus sometimes. But, it's not entirely bogus--it can't be (for all those people out there that it 'worked' for). Maybe that's how it'll be for you. Maybe it's not. Just don't get caught up in the generalizations for how it's 'supposed' to look when you finally end up with that guy. Be surprised. Be open. Don't feel like you have to be doing it all a specific way in order to get the desired result.

Allow the Lord to orchestrate it all.
It's abundantly better that way.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Sunday, November 3, 2013

They Don't Get It

"I like that you eat macaroni with a fork." - myself to a friend
"There's no other way." -the friend
"It makes me feel affirmed in my choice to always use a fork." -myself
"Debbie, why do you need her to affirm your choice of utensil for eating macaroni?" -our other friend

I'm always surprised when people choose to eat macaroni and cheese with a spoon. There's something strangely satisfying about pronging the individual noodles, and I find great comfort when others have the same tendencies as me. It's as though they are saying that the fork does make more sense than the spoon. They get my decision. They understand it. They support it. They even choose it for themselves. It's cool.

It's perhaps a really ridiculous example to illustrate how much I seek affirmation from others...but I think it makes the point. If I get excited about someone 'affirming' my utensil choice for macaroni and cheese, how much more excited do I get when people affirm my other life decisions? The answer is... a lot. And, the greater question is, how much more challenging is it for me when people don't affirm those decisions?

Because, I want people to like me.
And I want them to agree with me.
And I want them to understand why I make the decisions that I make and I want them to support me in those decisions. To a fault, sometimes. Sometimes I'm so honed in on what other people think, that I'm forgetting what I actually think in the process...and, more importantly, what the Lord thinks. I lose something valuable because I care too deeply about meeting the approval of others.

It's especially important that the people close to me, that the people I respect and care about the most...that they affirm me. I want them to be excited for me when I make big life changes...when I quit jobs, move across the country, travel all over the world, like a new guy or start dating someone, take new jobs, begin graduate school and then leave graduate school, feel like the Lord is moving in me in ways that I can't fully even comprehend myself. I want them to trust me...and to trust that, ultimately, the Lord has me.

But sometimes I find myself floundering, desperately affected by the lack of support from important people in my life. Because there's something important to having wise council from people that know you and love you... and there's something important to listening to what others have to say, especially when I could be missing something. But... sometimes they don't know.

I guess I'm realizing lately that not everyone is going to 'get it'. That often my decisions can seem crazy and ridiculous....sometimes even foolish. And as much as I want everyone to be on board, and as much as I want them to see things from my perspective, as much as I want them to understand the things I feel certain that the Lord is asking me to walk into or be a part of.... I can't.

Because sometimes He asks us to build an ark.
Or to dwindle down our armies as we face overwhelmingly large enemies.
Or to marry a prostitute.
Or to feed 5,000 people with a few fish and loaves of bread.
Or to walk when we've been paralyzed our entire lives.
Or to forgive those who have wronged us.... endless amounts of times.

And most of the time that stuff seems foolish to the rest of the world. It seems foolish because God didn't ask them and it goes against the things that we (as people) know, the things that are logical. They are things that don't make sense. Why wouldn't people question it?

I get it.
I don't blame them.

As much as I cringe when people mock me for 'never being able to leave camp' or how I've 'tried, but just can't get away'... I get it. I get how it looks, how it's perceived...but I'm starting to be okay with the fact that they may not really 'get it', either. They can't possibly. I hardly do myself.

But, I'm okay with it. I have to be.
I'm striving to be okay with stepping into things that I don't fully understand without 100% approval from the people around me. I want to do it with my eyes open, asking for advice and wisdom from those I trust...but, I don't want to be unwilling because I'm scared and because not everyone is completely on board.

Because that doesn't seem to be how God always works.
Sometimes people just don't get it.
We do crazy, foolish, radical things because we truly believe the Lord is in it and moving us that direction (as long as it lines up with Scripture, of course)... and they don't get it.

It's okay.
As much as I love when people affirm my fork choice for macaroni, I get that much more excited when people affirm the big decisions in my life. But when not everyone does? I'm going to have to choose to be okay with that, praying that eventually....over time....that maybe they will get it.

Because in the end, I care abundantly more about doing what is good and pleasing in the eyes of the Lord than anyone else. As much as I'd like to think those always line up with the people who I trust and respect in my life...I don't think they do or will. People are people.

They don't get it.
I mean, I don't always get it when other people do ridiculous things because of the Lord, either.
But, who am I to say any different?
Let's be people who are willing to walk obediently to the Lord's call, to the Lord's moving in our lives...even when they don't get it. Let's be willing to look foolish and ridiculous because we believe so fully in the faithfulness of the Lord that it makes everything worth it. And let's continue to invite them to join us in our endeavors to be more like Christ, not put off by their lack of understanding...but doing what we can to assemble those we trust around us as we move toward better. Not because we need the affirmation, but because it's pretty sweet to be surrounded by others who support us, encourage us, and choose to even embark on it themselves because they have come to believe so fully in it.

Let's not be discouraged.
But let's continue to walk obediently into whatever the Lord has for us, no matter how foolish it may seem.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, October 28, 2013

He Knows?

The Comment:
What about if he KNOWS. And you're just sitting there like.....hmmm I don't know. I know that it's an inborn kind of thing to want to share your life with someone but at the same time I think I only got half of that gene (also I'm a selfish person-I realize this). I don't want my life to revolve around a guy. Especially since I have things to do!! So what do I do if it's the other way around? He knows but I don't.
Great question...and great thoughts. 
You aren't alone.
I think the tendency is for the assumption to be that all women want to get married and have a family, that we're all just waiting for that 'perfect' guy to come along so we can get down to business. But, that hardly fits all women.

I watched Mona Lisa Smiles again recently, and was reminded of how unfulfilling a life of solely tending house, raising kids, and being a 'good' wife would be for me. Because, I have other things I want to do...that I want to pursue...and I want to have the room to dream about them, and then act on them. I want to be able to tend a house, raise kids and be a 'good' wife...but do abundantly more than that.

Not everyone is like that though. Some women are content and completely fulfilled taking care of their family, recognizing the huge responsibility before them and wanting to do it with excellence. Some women can't imagine having kids, let alone rearing kids... the husband part sounds good, but not necessarily the whole family thing. Some women want to go it alone--no husband, no kids.

We're all different...and it's a beautiful thing.
And so I guess this is where I want us to be willing to understand ourselves better. What do we truly want/long for? In what ways are we gifted, in what things are we passionate about...and how do we move forward into those more fully in a way that reflects the Lord?

I think, for the woman (like you) who wants to share her life with someone but simultaneously doesn't want her life revolving around a guy, there is hope. I think a lot of depends on the guy that you do end up choosing (because, despite how he feels and what he 'knows', you still get a choice in the matter). Is he someone who is going to push you to do the things you need to do outside of him? Is he going to encourage you in them? Support you in them? Is he going to help move you toward better? Are you going to be a better person, a better lover of the Lord, a better lover of people....because of him in your life? I think if that's the case....I think if you find a man who is willing and able to let you flourish in your dreams, gifts, passions... you get the best of both worlds. If he's a man who is going to stifle you and contain you and keep you from the things you love? You don't have to choose that.

The Lord's been reminding me lately that I get to choose.
He's been reminding me that I could be single forever and probably (honestly) be quite content, but He's reminding me that I could choose something else really good, too. That no one can make up my mind for me in that. He's not going to, a man isn't going to.....I get to choose.
So do you.
Don't forget that.
If you're interested in the possibility of sharing your life with someone, be willing to take a step. To go on a date. To get to know a guy. It doesn't mean you're committing your life to him yet. It doesn't mean that you choosing 'yes' in one instance means that you're choosing 'yes' forever with him. Find out, no matter how incredible of a man he is and no matter how sure he is that you're it for him, if he is who you want to do life with.

Process through it, yes. Absolutely. It's a life-altering, life-long commitment. It's nothing to take lightly. But, sometimes I think we have the tendency to allow our own junk to interfere. That sometimes when we over-analyze it all, we get ridiculous about things in a bad way and don't allow good things to happen.

Basically I think over-analyzing is always harmful. There's a healthy balance. Don't make rash, ridiculous decisions...but don't mull through it to the point where there's nothing good coming out of it, either. Don't be afraid to make decisions. Don't be afraid to say YES to a date because you think it means you're committing your life away. Don't feel like you have to, either.

So maybe he thinks he knows.
Allow yourself room to be a human with freedom and choices. Allow yourself to have good things. Allow yourself to dream big and to live life to the fullest (consumed by things that matter)...and recognize that sometimes living fully can absolutely include a husband and a family and making them a priority.

I think you'll find someone who meshes well with your hopes and dreams for your own life. Someone who compliments you in that. It may not be the great guy who thinks he knows he wants to be with you....but it might be. Be willing to be open. Be willing to be wrong. Be willing to be surprised.

But, in the end?

You get to choose.
So, what'll it be?

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Move Toward More

The Comment: 
People say when you know you know... Well I know he just hasn't figured it out yet. [What do you do] when the person you are interested in is clueless. 
Another Comment (along the same lines): 
The question is always in the back of my mind. Will I ever get married? Am I supposed to get married. When do you know that you have found that guy. When do you know he is the right one. How do you know if he is the right one when there is no form of pursuing happening. Maybe I just answered my own question, but in my head it still remains. When do you know it is him. The man that the Lord has for you? Because right when I think I found him he obviously does not feel the same... Oh the questions in my head. 
I hear it a lot...
"When you know, you know."
I've even written about it before.
And maybe it's true... maybe it happens. But, I still don't like us to think of it as a must...a prerequisite for marriage. And, I certainly don't like it when we (as females) allow ourselves to think that just because we think we know, that it must be right.

Because, if I'm being honest, I probably thought knew a lot of times.
Probably once in high school... definitely once in college...and at least once since then (maybe even twice). The thoughts of, "He could be it... he could really be it! He has everything I've ever wanted in a guy!"  Only, there was a missing component. Lack of interest in me. Somehow it didn't seem that important (or else it didn't register)... it was as if I thought it would just happen because he was so perfect for me. How could it not? It was meant to be. Because I knew....and eventually he would too. Eventually the Lord would reveal to him how I was the person he was supposed to be with...right?

And so I waited.
And waited.
I put my heart out there over and over again, establishing friendships with these guys fully based in the hope that we would be together forever someday (once they realized it, of course). And I over-analyzed, of course. Oh, the questions in every girl's head...

At some point you just have to STOP.
To stop processing, and re-processing, and processing yet again... to stop convincing yourself that it's going to look a certain way or has to look a certain way. To stop creating scenarios in your head that are not reality and are merely based on your own hopes and dreams of what could be. It'll drive you wild.

A helpful tip?
If you're convinced that you know and he's not showing any sort of romantic interest in you...? Be willing to admit that maybe you don't know. I'm sure there are a few cases when a woman knew and it took the guy several years to come around... sure. I'm not saying it's impossible. But I am saying that, regardless, let's not be women who base our whole life and identity around that. Do your life, despite him. Don't change your course because you think you have to intersect it with his somehow. If he is your guy, it'll happen. If he isn't, I think you doing what you need to do outside of any relationship is going to help you move on. That once you begin to live as though dating, relationships, marriage isn't your sole purpose in life, you're going to find much more fulfillment when you begin moving toward things that matter significantly more.

Honestly, I think that's often the crux of our problem as women. Our continual desire and need to make men the means to our happiness. When we do that, everything revolves around them...whether they are a presence in our life or whether they aren't. Whether we date all the time, or we never date at all. We define ourselves by our relationship status. We find our worth in it. We find our hope in it. We spend hours and hours analyzing, day dreaming, controlling, manipulating...convinced that when we know, it's going to make the whole world right. We have to find him, obtain him, and keep him.

But what if we could live outside of all of that?
Outside of the over-analyzing of almost every male-female interaction? Outside of the needing to know what he's thinking, what he's doing, what he's feeling, where he sees this going questions that we mull through constantly?

I only think it's possible if we are willing and able to acknowledge that life is about abundantly more. That there's more that matters. That if, while we're chasing passionately after the Lord and someone happens to come alongside us and it makes us better pursuers, knowers and sharers of Jesus....that it's good and just part of our lives instead of our whole lives. But up until (and even after) that point, what if we were people who cared about more? Invested in more? Spent time in more? Thought about more?

It's a hard shift.
I guess I've just recognized in the last several months how consuming romance (or the idea of it) can be...and how much it can strip us, distract us, keep us from our bigger purpose in life. If it happens, let's let it happen and let it move us toward better. But if it's not happening right now? If he's not digging you? Let's be women who press on toward Jesus, no matter what. Let's not get so wrapped up in when/if he's going to 'know', and let's be women who seek to know Christ and let that be what matters abundantly more.

Because, friends, that is a life worth living.
All the questions we can't possibly answer about guys/relationships and all the theories we have and all the 'right' ways to do things? There are always exceptions, always stories that break the mold, always a different ways to do things successfully. People who never thought they'd get married who got married, people who thought they'd get married but never did. People who got married without knowing each other, people who got married after dating 20 years. People with arranged marriages, people who courted, people who online dated. It's all unique, all different.. and it's beautiful.

So, instead of spending so much time trying to figure out how to do it all 'right' (without ever really succeeding)... I just want us to be people who spend our time on the things that matter, the things we do know...and letting the other stuff happen as we go.

The questions are good questions. It is good stuff to process through. It's natural to wonder. But, I want us to not dwell there, to not exist there... and to push on toward He who matters infinitely more than all of this.

Let's STOP.
Stop all the questions about him.
Move toward more.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Unequally Yoked?

The Comment:
What if I fall in love with someone who isn't a Christian?
What if...

Well, I think I'd start by saying that the way this question is phrased makes it sound as though it can't be helped. Almost as if I imagine someone saying, "Debbie, you don't get it. I fell in love with him. I couldn't help it."

In which my response is, "Really...?"
Because, I think love is a choice. And I think too often we allow our emotions to dictate that choice... as though there is no other alternative to the situation. There is.

While I could throw some Scripture about being 'unequally yoked' at you to prove my point, I'm not going to. Most of us know it. It's not always a convincing argument (although it should be all we need). So, I'm going to say this...

I had a non-Christian man ask me several months back if I would ever consider dating a non-Christian man. In trying to navigate through the waters without offending, I explained it in such a way that conveyed the following: I wouldn't date a non-Christian because so much of my being is wrapped up in my faith and my relationship with the Lord. I can't imagine being married to someone who I couldn't share that with. I can't imagine trying to do life with someone who couldn't relate to me on my most fundamental level.

It goes further than that, though. I need a man who can challenge me, encourage me, inspire me in my relationship with the Lord. I need us to agree on things that Scripture tells us is true... especially as we live life together. It has to be the thing we base our lives on, the place we go back to when we disagree as we sort through finances, raising children, loving our neighbors, when we face hardship and tragedy. If we don't have that, our struggles will be even more intensified.

I need the man I marry to not just make me a better person, but a better lover of the Lord. If that's lacking, the relationship doesn't matter. It has to extend into eternity. Our relationship has to be about something far more than what this life is. Which means, if I marry a man who doesn't know or love the Lord and he only makes me happy... that's not good enough. It's just not enough. Period.

And so, to the Christian who thinks they are in love with the non-Christian? I get it. I get that you feel connected, that you feel like you've never felt before, that it's wonderful and incredible. I get it. But, I don't get how, if you're longing to know the Lord more intimately and deeply, how dating or marrying someone who doesn't understand that core part of who you are could ever be truly fulfilling.

Yes, I also get that people can change and that they might become a Christian over time... but you don't ever know that. You can't bank on it (unless you've had some divine revelation from the Lord that I'm not going to argue with, but I would still caution against a life-long commitment).

I got an anonymous comment recently from a girl who had a crush on a guy who wasn't a Christian. There was the potential of mutual interest, and so her immediate reaction was to avoid him, ignore him, distance herself from him. But she recognized that she was being called to love him even more...beyond the crush. That regardless of her romantic feelings for him, there was an infinitely greater call on her life to share Christ with him. This meant having a conversation that communicated that she was only interested in being his friend. And then it meant proceeding into a place that caused her heart to often soar, but she couldn't go there romantically.

She wrote:
I'm hoping that this awkward 'inappropriate crush' situation turns into one where this boy that *almost* stole my affections comes to know the affections of the One True God...not so that I can date him. But so that he might have a life fulfilled in the marriage-love of the Father.
And that's beautiful to me.
Because, in the end, it's not about us dating some really awesome guy for the sake of our own happiness. It's about furthering the Kingdom of God. It's about loving Him and loving others, not with our own agenda in mind. And whatever gets us to that place (being single forever, or married to man who helps make us better in our endeavor)...that is what is better.

I commend how this girl handled her predicament. She didn't play games with him, she didn't flirt with him, she didn't wait for him to pursue her and then tell him she couldn't date him. She was honest from the beginning and then sought to love him regardless.

So while you very well may find yourself in a situation where you feel like you're 'falling' in love with someone who doesn't share your core beliefs? You get to choose how to respond. You get to choose how to act. You could to choose how to love them or if you will love them.

I hope you are willing to see it as a choice. That you're willing to look at what Scripture says about this issue and pay heed. That you're willing to see the weight that an imbalance with such a heavy, deep important thing can have in a romantic relationship.

There will be someone that connects with you deeply and spiritually...that pushes you to know Jesus more in the way that they live and the way that they talk.
You don't have to compromise on this...nor should you.

It's worth waiting for.
No matter what emotional dream you're caught up in right now, stand firm in what you know to be true about this.

Choose what's better.
Choose what's right.
And remember that you not choosing to date someone because you don't believe the same things isn't bad...and it doesn't mean you don't care about them. It just means that this matters. It matters too much to play around with. And you can still love them beyond romantic intentions... you can love them beyond your own happiness. It just might have to look different than you sometimes want.

It's worth it.

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