Men, Women, and Awkward Dynamics

16 Sep

MenAndWomen

I wish someone wrote a book on the Christian approach to interacting with the opposite sex.  I would probably buy it.  Underline and high light it.. then throw it out due to frustration because of the ridiculousness of needing someone to explain something so basic.  Sometimes, I wish interacting with the opposite sex as a single wasn’t so complicated like we’ve made it today in the Church.

Can I get an amen singles?

Seriously.

The word that comes to mind is awkward.

Where are the healthy friendships these days?  We’re so busy analyzing our check lists in our heads and checking off if he/she has made the cut.  It’s ridiculous.  Frustrating.  No one will ever make the cut with that mentality.  It lacks in love, grace, mercy and compassion.  Everything is so rushed these days.  You say ‘hi.. my name is_____’ to a guy and all of a sudden you’re planning your wedding and he’s thinking about the wedding night.  As all of these things loom in the back of one’s mind, you miss out on the possibility of a solid friendship unraveling.

Unhealthy pressure screws up so many relationships and friendships these days.  Seriously.  How can you be yourself when you’re pressured into being who the other person dreams you up to be in 10 years?  I don’t understand how that even works.  How can I be Sheryl.. and all that even encompasses.. when ‘Average Joe’ is too busy analyzing every argument and conversation we have?  Can this be my wife in 10 years?  Will she be a great mom?  The guy doesn’t even know my favorite color or my favorite meal.. the things in my life that bring my heart joy and the things in my life that get me discouraged.  That is pressure that is bound to make a person crumble.

Those are expectations that will never, ever get met.  

Same thing with girls (guys are not the only ones with this issue!) — how can Average Joe simply be himself.. and still have room to grow when we as ladies spend so much time in our heads thinking: “umm.. he doesn’t know how to lead me perfectly now”  .. “he doesn’t make _____ dollars to help support our future kids”?  You don’t even know the basics of who he is .. what makes him laugh, what ticks him off, etc.  This guy will never, ever make the cut.

You’re looking to him to fulfill things in your life that only Jesus can and should.

I’m not saying men and women should not have standards or expectations when it comes to finding their spouses.  They absolutely should!  In fact, in my opinion, one of the ways you know that you’re settling is when a man/woman doesn’t have a humble heart to grow or learn.  When they think “my way is the only way” and “I am right” and “this is not worth the dialogue”.. those are all red flags in my head.  You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.  I have seen this in so many people over the years.  You can’t change people unless they desperately desire to change for the better.  Men and women need to show grace and mercy when getting to know other singles.  We’re all sinners being saved by grace.  The same compassion that the Lord has shown to us, we need to give to others.  Enjoy the journey of friendships as hard as it is sometimes.. it is through that journey that you will begin to see the true character of a person and how they deal with their struggles.  Friends tend to extend more grace to other friends because they have not resolved in their heads that in order for me to continue talking to this person, they have to put a ring on it by this deadline and they have to meet certain expectations.. otherwise, they get the boot.

I’ve talked to more than a handful of women and men who have struggled with this over the past couple months.  This is a serious problem in Christian circles today.  It’s almost reassuring to hear that I’m not the only one who finds the dynamics of Christian men/women interacting awkward and not natural these days.

If we never looked to the right or left and compared our lives with others, do you think we would rush our lives as much as we do?  Probably not.  Everywhere I go it’s the same tune playing.  I’m pretty sure I have written many tunes based off this and blogged many o’ stories about this crippling issue.  Every time it has left me exhausted and more frustrated then when I began.  Friends, trust the Lord with your hearts (I’m preaching to myself..and as soon as I click submit, I will probably read this blog out loud to reassure myself!) and don’t rush His timing in your lives.  Please don’t.  Take time to get to know the men and women He has placed in your lives.  There aren’t coincidences to why people are in your life.  Get to know them deeply.  Make friends.  Spread love.  Sometimes those friendships will eventually lead to more and other times they could be used as a means of grace in your life for the season you’re in.  Stop placing unattainable standards on others.. give people room to grow and learn.

Ultimately, none of this can be attained without a true and anchored satisfaction in Christ alone.

Laboring in Love

16 Sep

In church, we’ve been going through a series on the life of Jacob.

It has been such a blessing, raw and absolutely on point.

Last Sunday’s sermon was amazing.. I was really encouraged and convicted and I wanted to share it with y’all.. Check it out!

The Gospel According to Jacob: Laboring in Love

Pastor Dwight illustrates the story of Jacob/Leah/Rachel.. he took another perspective on this story and I loved it. There were a few ‘Aha’ moments for me.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Sharing is caring.  *grins*

Illustrated Truths

11 Sep

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Excerpt from Recovering Redemption: “Others”

10 Sep

This is an excerpt from the Recovering Redemption book by Matt Chandler & Michael Snetzer that has really been convicting me because I struggle with this in my own life.  Like, I REALLY struggle with this.  Especially this section that I’m sharing below.  I have been begging God to help me with this.. and He will.. He is faithful.

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“…Because we cannot redeem ourselves.  Nor can we do it through other people.  Take Beth’s story, for example.  She grew up in a Christian home.  Saved at age nine.  But in middle school, the fears, self-doubts, and anxieties of adolescence had begun to cloud her view of God’s redeeming love and His approval of her as His child.  By the time she was seventeen, she’d intentionally changed her image to attract the attention of other boys to fill her hunger for acceptance.

But only a few days into her senior year, the main boy she’d been able to attract with her new clothes and look and demeanor had sexually assaulted her.  And so instead of just dealing with her old, normal, youthful insecurities anymore, those difficult-enough things were now sharing space in her heart with some all-new disruptions: shame, anger, self-hatred, things like that.

For this reason, Beth may not have been as drawn to the delusion, the way some of us are, that she could make herself into the person who satisfied her own deepest needs.  But what she couldn’t do for herself, she intended to go find in others.  And before she’d completed college, she’d found the guy she wanted to marry and had tied the knot.  That’ll fix it.  That’ll fix me.

It took ten years and an ultimate separation before Beth fully realized she’d never healed from her past, that she’d draped her desperate hopes for identity and redemption around the shoulders of her husband.  Marriage had only served to reinforce the width, height, and density of her emotional walls.  And this man she loved — and who truly loved her — had proven unable to tear them down.

We could tell this same story in a hundred different ways, merely switching out the names and details, plugging in various relationship examples (friends, family, spouses, children), spicing up the personal elements with unique kinds of backgrounds and histories.  And yet almost every account would end up tumbling toward the exact same place: a person looking to somebody else to fill what’s missing inside.

Every divorce – and we’re using that word “every” with deliberate intention, gleaned from much observation and experience – every divorce, at the broken part of its foundation, stems from placing an expectation on another person that he or she can never humanly achieve.  Obviously a lot more is involved in marital conflict as well, but even the sinful, presenting symptoms of adultery, pornography, homosexuality – they’re simply the deviant responses of a man or woman who perceives their mate should be filling their every need, and who feels forced to go out and get it through back channels when those needs are not met to their satisfaction.

Marriages will always struggle and will often fail whenever we make the person who wears our ring into a god who’s supposed to make us complete.  And this same logic applies to every relationship we enter.. for these very simple reasons:

  • Men make terrible gods
  • Women make terrible gods
  • Children make unholy terrible gods

Friends, coworkers, parents, boyfriends/girlfriends, fiances, you name it – whenever you look to another person to fill the thirsty cracks and crevices that are gaping open in your heart, you are moving not in the direction of freedom and healing, not into the experience of being full and satisfied, not into the hot tub of joy and pleasure.  Instead, you’re sailing straight into the headwinds of conflict and chaos and into cranked-up levels of personal pain.  The expectation that others can somehow become for us the answer to all of our problems is to put an impossible weight on them that they were never intended, created, or equipped to carry.  It’s going to make life miserable for everybody.  Stop it. Please.  Because we can’t be redeemed by others.

Life’s Formula & Comparisons

8 Sep

I just finished chatting with my cousin.  As a research PhD student, she barely gets time to sleep and eat, let alone have these catch ups, so when I get them I have learned to cherish them.. until the next one in a few weeks.  We began talking about life and timelines and how growing up we planned certain things at designated age markings:

  • Graduating and moving out of the house at 18
  • Finding a full-time job immediately after graduation
  • Getting married before 25
  • Have kids a couple years later
  • Buy a house and plant roots by 30
  • Finding and getting the ‘dream job’ when you’re young enough to enjoy it
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

She then said something to me that really had me thinking.  See, the thing is, both of us are ‘formula girls’.  What do I mean by that?  We are wired in such a way that life and its evolution has a formula to follow.  She mentioned one of the things that has helped her the most is realizing that there is no formula to life.  If you are simply trusting God, THAT is the plan.  There is no other plan apart from it.  There’s no ‘getting married and having kids by 30′ or ‘finding the dream job by 35′.  There is the here and now and a God that is Sovereign over it.

I know we’re not the only ones who wrestle with life’s formulas and meeting timelines.  So, let me encourage you if you feel stuck or ‘behind schedule’ — you are not.  This is exactly where you need to be.  If you’re not trusting God, then no, that’s not exactly where you need to be.. but once you hand over your life and all of its dreams, plans, timelines, and crazy formulas, God’s plan will take precedence.  It will be the only plan.

That takes faith.. the ABC’s of Christianity..

I know it’s hard to be flexible in life especially when you’re a planner and that’s how you allow life to unravel for you.. but I’ve gotta agree with my cousin and say that there is so much freedom in simply letting go and trusting God with life.  I struggle with it more than I have fingers and toes since I am a planner, but it doesn’t make it any less true.  So, what I’m saying is.. planning is great .. there is wisdom in it actually .. but learning to submit and bend to God’s plan is the only way you will find complete freedom.  Plans don’t create safety or security when you really think about it.  It’s simply an illusion.  God is the only safe refuge and secure foundation, and ultimately, He’s the only one who can allow plans to unfold in the way He desires.

Timing is everything.

Not our timing, but His.  Trust God.  Period.  He will continue to work everything out in our lives.  There’s a lot less anxiety when we simply choose to not be lord over our own lives.  So, don’t look to the left and the right and compare your life to others.  Comparison is a thief and it robs you of joy and taints the way you look at life.  We always think the grass is greener on the other side.. but when we stop looking around, we will begin to realize that the greenest patch of grass is the one that God has us on, and that is probably because its had its fine share of rainy weather and brutal storms.

A part of me had to write this because I’ve had so many conversations with people that have struggled with this.  A bigger part of me, for the sake of my own peace of mind, had to write this as a reminder to myself.. trust God with the here and now and He will not disappoint.  The only formula involved in this is Trust + God = Peace.  He is working everything out for your and my good, and ultimately, for His glory. 

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I love you Chris and I’m proud of you!  You show them engineers in MIT how to get it done girl.
God will give you grace in the moments of stress and anxiety.  Stay passionate about your research.
You make nerdom look sexy girl.. keep plowing through and don’t stop being you!
I’m praying for you always.  You can do this.  Trust God because this is His plan for you.
When you get the PhD in your hand, we’re all taking a vacation!
Love our chats.. I’m more hopeful because of it.. till next time..
Let’s not forget to breathe in the meantime. 

Hearty Slice of Humble Pie

6 Sep

keep-calm-and-eat-humble-pieDo you have a loved one in your life that knows you well enough to see the intricacies of your heart and call you out on your sin?

Oh, of course I’m not about to speak from experience..

Over a year of continuous frustration and dwelling on hurts and pains from the past.. today was my breaking point.  As I was on the phone with a friend, he brought to my attention some really big things that have been weaknesses in my life for as long as I can remember.  Things that I didn’t notice for 28 years.. or at least see the weight and consequences for. Gosh, I wonder what our lives would look like if we had people in them who simply kept it real with us.

This is all a part of sanctification, right?  They should call it painification.

As I was praying this week, I was begging God to intervene in my life in pretty much every area of life.  Just clarity around the board.  I felt such a need for crippling sins to be done with.  When you aren’t aware of things, how does one improve?  So during our chat a couple things were brought up..

(1) My inability to be honest with my feelings, leading to passive-aggressive bouts.
(2) My tendency to let my emotions get the best of me and rob me of my joy and rest.
(3) Taking peoples’ problems on myself and finding myself running on fumes because it’s not mine to take.. thinking I can fix things.
..there was a couple other things, but I would like to leave this blog entry with even the slightest bit of dignity!  *grins*   ..maybe

The first thing I thought about when I put down the phone was: “Jesus, how am I this messy?!”   

Seriously. 

By the beginning of the conversation, I had a slice of humble pie.. but by the time I was finished.. I finished the entire pie and went to bake another 3.  To eat for the year, monthweek, day of course.

How does the Lord somehow love us even when He sees the depths of our hearts.  They are so prone to wander.  We’re messy and broken and somehow since the fall of man, our relationships with people will never be what it was in Eden.. perfect.  There will always be pride, selfishness, anger, jealousy, insecurities .. and this list could go on for miles.  My heart felt guilt for a very long time and thought: “how could Jesus redeem even this part of me?” .. “am I the ONLY human out there who wrestles with this?!”

I spent some MUCH needed time with Jesus tonight.  It has been a LONG time since Scripture came alive in my heart. My heart felt true compassion and hope when I read through the frustrations of Paul.. it’s like reading my own diary..
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15) 
“Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” (vs. 21)
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (vs. 24)
But there is HOPE friends…
No seriously, I promise.

“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vs. 25)

Boom.

There it is!

The same man who murdered and wanted nothing to do with Christ found himself transformed by the work of the love of God.  Can you even wrap your mind around that love?!  I can’t!  The depths.. immeasurable.  Even when coming to God, his sins didn’t just disappear.. his struggles didn’t disappear.  Every moment he battled.. a battle between right and wrong. Good and bad. Sin and purity. Love and hate.

The hope is we never, ever, everrrrrr have to be slaves to our sin.  Those listed weaknesses of mine can shudder at the power of God at work in my life.  He will never give up on me.  Till my last breath He will continue to prune every little inch of my life.. the parts people can see and even more, the parts that no one sees.

That is love.  

Oh what love!  Merciful!  Glorious! Beautiful!

..So I will embrace my pie and press on because He’s not done with me yet, and gosh, am I thankful for that!

Wanna piece?  I’ve learned to share.  *smiles*

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Dear Darcy: Memoirs from a Twenty-Something

19 Aug

The other day I found writing I began 3 years ago to my future hubby.  It wasn’t a “start and finish” piece, but rather it took years to wrap my heart around rawness of what I was feeling at the moment.. so over time, as I was thinking through the book I wanted to pen about love in my generation, I felt that I really wanted this piece in it but didn’t know where it would smoothly fit in.  I loved the memoir feel to it — the transparency — the ‘penny for my thoughts’ vibe but I knew that my first book would not be a memoir and so I found that this would become a very sincere dedication piece. 

Just a very small glimpse of what’s to come… 

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I always envisioned my life at 25 married with children, singing like a pop star and saving the world, one orphan at a time.  Success was a part of my plan and distractions were not.  It would have been nice to be warned in my teenage years that life does not unfold like a teenage dream.  Katy Perry was wrong.

I have a track record of going after the “wrong men” – the types I know that are not good for me.  They are appealing to the eyes and ears, but damaging to the heart.  They grieve the Spirit.  I run head-first without thinking at times.  Emotions strong.  Heart on my sleeves, expecting the same in return.

It doesn’t happen that way, does it?  Transparency is a rare attribute found in people today.  And so I find myself writing to you in raw verbiage, wondering if this will ever even be read.  I wish I was more articulate, but all I know to do is think and speak.  In my words.  Most of the time, choppy.

Jane Austen did some serious damage to my heart at a very early age.  She trained my brain to believe that there is a ‘type’ of man out there that is too good to be true, that he can only be deemed fictional.

He pursues.  He battles.  He cherishes.  He conquers.

Every story-book tale unravels as such.  I find myself swooning with the millions of young women around the world.  Where is this man?  European accent. Tall physique. Exceptional build. Dreamy eyes. Goober smile. Youth. Nerdy intelligence. Not a ‘bad guy’..but a bad guy.

I’m twenty-seven, right?

Clearly, I did not get that memo.

My emotions and my imagination are my worst enemy at times.  I spend more time fighting it than embracing it.  I grow so weary from the day-to-day battle that I end up giving up. Always.  My wall goes up and I distract myself with the things of this world.  Enticing things.

Any genre. Any field.  This list is end-less.  I pull out my favorite attributes from each man and I create my own Darcy.  If he’s in my head, no one can take him away, right?  Yet another lie society throws in our direction.  So, I’m left detoxing the sin from my thoughts and wonder what is left to work with.  I repent more than there are fingers and toes.

Somewhere in my head, beyond the name and fame, I know that one day this will be read.  You will surpass everything my ‘4-page list’ required and it’ll make complete sense that you clash with my list, and that has become a sweet realization.  As young, Christian females, we have been advised to have these infamous lists.. but I found myself hiding behind them.  They have done more damage than good.  I wonder how I would feel knowing I could never make it on your list of ‘options’ because I never met your ‘wifey requirements’.  So, here I am.. with a heavy heart and realization that I have been doing this to you for years.  Why, you ask?  It was safe for me and it fit within clean black & white lines.  You do not.

I’ve tried to write our story many times.  So many times.  Each time I found myself grabbing the eraser.  I don’t understand why it’s so easy for Taylor Swift to write the “story of us” and here I am wondering why it is so difficult to pen ours.  Could this actually be something beyond me?  Does this reveal to me my innate desire to control situations?  Yes.  Do I hate emptying my hands for a God I cannot see?  Yes.

Do I love this God?  Yes.  In ways that don’t even make sense to myself.  I love Him more than I could ever even begin to start loving you.  That is why I am here with a heart full of repentance wondering why I’ve bought into all of these glamorous lies for years.  The battle for my heart continues.  I submit to His plan for us.

I look forward to the day when I get to see your face.. till then, I will wait.  I will hope and believe that He who began a good work in my life will complete it.  He began our story.  He will finish it.  On that day ..we will see Him face-to-face and be made like Him.  Oh what a day that will be!

“…those who endure to the end will be saved.”  -Matthew 24:13

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