Why God Calls Us To Singleness

Earlier this week, an incident happened and made me take some steps back and see things differently. I’ve talked a lot about my past relationships. I didn’t know the impact these relationships would have on my present until I tried dating. Let me just say, I’m failing at dating pretty miserably.

I believe God calls us to singleness to navigate difficult parts of our lives we haven’t been able to confront so we don’t bring them into new relationships. I’m learning more about myself now than I did a year ago and it’s pretty eye opening.

Dating when we haven’t fully forgiven our past is difficult and should be confronted immediately. 

Being single is one part of my life most people don’t understand. If I’m not ready for a relationship, I must be hiding something. If I am with someone, people are invited into sacred places they don’t belong. God is the only one who needs full access and invitation to those places, period. But so many other variables get in the way.

We have to be able to navigate our singleness knowing God wants us whole persons before we expect others to do it for Him. Truth is, no other person is placed in our life to make us whole persons, but they are there for us to love and visa versa. Not the mushy kind, the eternal kind. The kind that lasts.

All of this is a work in progress. I’m learning to navigate the difficult areas in my heart and life that still need God’s healing touch. Importantly, I’m surrounding myself around the right people. People who don’t throw in the towel and quit every time there is disagreement. Real love doesn’t abandon, it drops the offense and moves forward in forgiveness.

I’ve used my time of singleness to be attentive and grow. There are still places in me that need growth. I’m learning, by God’s grace alone, to rely on His wisdom over my feelings. I’m learning to love again, the right way. To love Him first, others second, and to see myself the way He sees me. It’s not easy after rejection, but it’s getting better.

Someone told me I should consider counseling to deal with my issues. My response was I don’t need counseling, I need a friend and people in my life who genuinely care about me despite my dark moments. We all need people like this in our life. We need people who will step into our brokenness with us unafraid to get their hands dirty.

Singleness has taught me what it means to put others’ needs before my own. It’s taught me the power of selflessness over selfishness. Don’t mistake this for being someone’s doormat, I’ve been there and done that. But, it’s learning to choose my battles wisely and love people the way they deserve instead of push them away.

God called me to singleness to teach me how to love and forgive. Both are difficult, mostly the forgiveness part. But, in Christ there is freedom. 

What has singleness taught you?

Why We Need Godly Relationships

Every relationship in our life should be taken seriously. I’ve been slipping in areas where I shouldn’t and it’s due in part because I’m not surrounded by Godly influences. This is my fault and I take full responsibility for it.

Most of us don’t want to be challenged by others but our relationships should challenge every area of our life. While we don’t want or like other people telling us the honest truth about ourselves, we need people who will not only tell us but help us to become better spiritually.

Godly relationships will make us uncomfortable. They will force us to confront areas in our life we’re not ready to confront. 

You know that hidden sin in your life you’re not ready to deal with? Godly relationships will expose them. There have been times in my life when God told me to confront people in my life about their sinful habits. There have  been people who have confronted me about mine. It was extremely difficult at first to accept their truth, but looking back, it was truth spoken in love. We should have relationships who keep us accountable. No area in our life is hidden from God, the same should apply to our relationships with others. If the people in our life genuinely care about our life, they will ask us the hard stuff.

Godly relationships keep us accountable.

The relationships in our life should push us closer to God, not away from Him.  When our relationships are centered on Him alone, everything else in our life is better managed. We need people in our life who will read the Word with us, pray with and for us, and challenge us to be the person God created us to be.  We need people who will help, motivate, and challenge us to live out our calling.

Godly relationships follow the Lord with you.

I have a strong desire to connect with people, but for the past few months I’ve been really lax in my faith and relationships with others. The desire shifted from wanting to help others to instead focus on myself. While doing this, I’ve realized a lot of the things I need most in my life can’t happen with only me. I need other people.

 Godly relationships encourage us in our strengths and carry us through our weaknesses.

Relationships are extremely valuable but can also be very messy. This is something I’ve touched on a lot over the last few months because it’s still an area of deep struggle for me. I told someone the other night wanting a Godly relationship is truly my heart’s desire.

Hopefully, it’s yours too.

Do you have Godly relationships in your life? If you don’t, what are you doing to change it?

 

When You Don’t Think You Deserve Good Things

When insecurity rears its ugly head, everything good in my life is placed under a microscope. I look for flaws when there aren’t any and my immediate response is to look for the closest exit. Whether it’s relationships with other people or just life in general, my go to response is to push away the good things in my life. I’ve been this way for  most of my life. For a while it got better but lately, it’s decided to resurface.

I’ve been having issues lately with not believing I deserve good things. Confident people don’t have this issue, but I do and lately it’s been daily. 

The past two months have been a whirlwind. When one door closed, another opened. Though I did what was best for my life and heart, there are times when feel a sense of regret. Maybe if I was more patient, gave the benefit of a doubt more, loved better, or thought more with my head than heart, things would be different. But the truth is, confident people don’t live with regrets. They accept their decisions for what they are and move on with their life.

Good things in our life that are often shadowed by our fears, insecurities, and doubts.  I don’t know what yours are, but I know mine.  When I feel like I don’t deserve good things, I look at my life and see the people and things He has placed in my care. Suddenly, those fears, insecurities, and doubts are just noise.

Most of the time, the lies we choose to believe about ourselves ruins opportunities to give good things a chance to birth and grow. It amazes me the lies I’ve chosen to believe because of insecurity and fear. But the most important thing I can tell you is there are people who will support you in your weaknesses, if you let them. They will do their best to understand you before they resolve to abandon you.

These are the good things we miss when we’re too focused on our fears, insecurities, and doubts. God orchestrates everything in our life to help us see how good He really is. Even when we don’t feel good, He still is.  He will bring  people along in our life to help us see this. When He does, don’t take them for granted.

What good thing has God done for you lately? Have you had difficulty lately accepting it?

More Than Words

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about love. What it is, what it isn’t, and wondering if I’ve ever really been in love. There have been many times I thought I was in love, but recently, I’ve been asking myself if I really know how to love another person unconditionally.

What does this look like? It means laying our life down for another, willingly carrying another person’s burdens, and giving people the freedom to be themselves without trying to fix or change them. Unconditional love is rare. I’ve made several mistakes in this area with past relationships and I’m learning to give myself grace for all the times I’ve screwed up so I can move forward in peace.

I don’t say “I love you” unless I know I can intentionally and purposefully prove it.  As of now, I feel incapable of this kind of love. My past has made me pessimistic in this area. There are days when I feel I don’t deserve to be loved, that I’m too messed up for it, or that I expect too much and those expectations push other people away.

When I stand before God one day, I’m going to give an account of my life. I will be judged by how I lived my life and loved other people. Knowing this scares me.  I haven’t been the best person towards the people in my life both past and present. I’m not always kind with my words or thoughts. But at the end of the day, I know there is a God out there who loves me despite my pride and sins. There are people in my life who accept me, all of me, without fear or hesitation.  They show it in every way possible and everyday. 

Love is more than words.  It’s not only spoken but shown.

As I draw closer to 33, I’m opening myself to the idea of love again but in the right way and with God’s help. The hearts He has entrusted to us deserve to be loved with His guidance and leadership. No other love can compare to the one we leave solely in His hands.

Let His love lead yours. Your relationships will thrive and thank you for it.

If  the words, “I love you” were removed from your relationships, would they still know you do?

#heartcheck

 

When We’re Honest

When other people are honest about their struggles, I let out a sigh of relief because I’m reminded I’m not alone. Someone out there understands and the world feels right again. When people are honest, the weight of everything we’re carrying, lightens.

We’re not all as put together as we make it seem. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will make it appear so, but the truth is, our behind the scenes life matters more than what’s highlighted to our friends and followers.

I’m an honest person but I’m not as open as I used to be. It’s taken a lot of time for me to be able to trust again and allow myself to be vulnerable. When you put your feelings out there, you don’t know how the person or persons on the other end will react, so you remain silent. This sums up most of my life for the past year. Until recently, all I’ve done is communicate how I feel. I’ve been honest about everything and though it’s often draining, it’s also liberating.

Being honest sets us free.

Last night, I had another honest/hard conversation. I was waiting for the person to reject and push me away, but instead they said something I’ve been needing to hear, “Let’s work on that. As a team.” I’m a strong minded, willed, and guarded person. This often, almost always, gets in the way of what God tries to do in my relationships with other people. I recognize this and I’m trying to be better. When they said this, those walls I’ve been building started to come down brick by brick. This is what happens when honesty is met with understanding and compassion.

Being honest sometimes will cause conflict, but can also bring healing in areas we’re too afraid to confront. Honesty is the best policy, all the time, in every area of life.

Do you have problems with honesty? Start being honest about them.

Don’t End Up Friendless

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

The more God leads me to verses about friendship, I’m reminded how true friendship is rare.

I have several acquaintances, but I can only name 2-3 true friends in my own life. I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want any more acquaintances, I want true and lasting friendship. We should all want this and it’s our responsibility to take the issue of friendships, relationships, and community seriously.

No one wants to die alone but I believe some of us will because we don’t know how to cultivate and sustain healthy relationships. 

When the whole world decides to walk out, we should have at least one person who remains. This the person we know we can count on through anything. They’re the first person we think to call on in an emergency or crisis. But even if there is no emergency or crisis, they’re the first person we think of when we need someone.

Who is this person in your life?

Who has always been there for you when others weren’t?

Who in your life are you currently taking for granted? 

These are hard questions, but they need to be asked. It is better we have one or a few friends we can count on than many. We could be surrounded by plenty of people and still feel alone. I know I’ve gotten to this point a few times in my life but I’ve gotten better. I don’t talk about everything with anyone, but I’m getting better with opening up. Friendships take work and I’m more interested in the quality of my friendships than how many people I have around me.

Not everyone can be trusted and their actions will speak louder than their words ever do. But there are people out there who will be there for you, who will comfort you, protect you, correct you, and love you. Surround yourself with those kind of people.

Make acquaintances, but keep true friends close. Someone with a lot of “so-called” friends may end up friendless. Don’t let this be you. 

How many true friendships do you have in your life?

Will You Lay Your Life Down For Your Friends?

I’ve been asking this question to myself a lot lately. With the recent changes in my life and relationships with others, I’m reminded daily how important being surrounded by the right people matters. Having the people I do in my life is important for my growth, not only spiritually, but personally. I take my relationships with others seriously, but I won’t lie and say I don’t fall short in some areas.

God reminded me this morning that in order for my relationships to thrive, I have to lay down my pride. 

I’m very vocal about my wants, needs, and desires. I make those things known and I make them clear. However, in doing this, my words have often wounded instead of lift up and encourage. The truth is, it’s not always about me and I need to be careful with the hearts God has entrusted me.   Though I’ve been hurt a lot in my past, the hurt spills into places it shouldn’t. The people in my life right now are answered prayers and it would be stupid to take them for granted.

Last night, I had a difficult conversation with someone and though those things needed to be said, it was mostly selfish on my part. There are things people in our life can’t give us. Not because they can’t, but because those things take time. Instead of being patient with the process, I want to rush ahead. I need to lay my needs, wants, and desires down and focus on the fact God has placed someone in my life who sees and knows everything about me and accepts me, all of me. They are patient with me and aren’t going to throw in the towel.

Our relationships can’t grow when we give up on each other.

I know I’ve given up on people. Most people in my life will tell me it was long over due and maybe it was. While most of it was selfish and a reaction out of feelings, it was time. I look at how people who have only known me for a month treat me compared to how someone who has known me longer than a year treated me. There were a lot of inconsistencies and it was time to walk. I don’t regret it and I want to do right in my future relationships.

God wants us to love and value others above ourselves. 

It will be uncomfortable at times and you’ll try to convince yourself why your actions are right. But, God wants us to lay our lives down for each other. It will mean patience and humility, and above all, love. In every area of our life, Jesus must be greater. Our friendships with others is no different.

Anything God asks of us should point back to love. Everything, all the time. It’s time we get out of our own way and let Jesus have HIS way in our lives and hearts.

Are you willing?

 

You Deserve To Be Treated Well

I came to a pretty sad reality about myself recently. I’m still adjusting to this reality, but it’s restructured my life in very specific ways. Mostly with how I see myself as a person, a woman, and importantly, how I’ve allowed myself to be treated for most of my adult life.

Imagine going your entire life thinking when other people hurt you, this behavior is normal. You tolerate it again and again with the hope this time will be different. You put up with actions and behaviors most confident and secure people wouldn’t. You ignore the warnings, red flags, and inconsistencies. We become naive to truth. You tell yourself it’s what any person who loves and follows Jesus would do because He loves the broken and we should too.  But just because someone is broken it doesn’t give them the right to repeatedly hurt you or any other person in their life.

The bottom line is this: You deserve to be treated well. Any person or persons who rejects you, any part of you, and what you have to offer, doesn’t deserve you and you don’t need them in your life.

I’ve said this before many times, but I’m experiencing them in a different way. I’m learning when people genuinely care about and love you, they won’t find excuses for why they continually hurt you. There is no excuse. Deep down I know all the times I’ve been hurt, the person on the other end didn’t mean to. I know when I hurt other people, I don’t mean to. But I don’t make excuses for it and don’t purposefully find reasons to ignore and avoid them in any manner. I confront the problem, I confront them, and leave the rest to God.

Any relationship/friendship lost when truth is spoken is not a real relationship/friendship.

In the past three weeks, I’ve met new people, made new experiences, and cultivated healthy relationships with them. I can tell them my convictions, areas where I refuse to compromise, allowed them in places of vulnerability without fear of judgement or misunderstanding. I’m able to tell them point blank I’m a woman of God, I take my relationship with Him seriously, and I will not compromise any area for any reason for any one. I’ve laid everything out and basically said, “Take it or leave it. Because this isn’t changing, for anyone.” Their response? Total acceptance, respect, and love.

We deserve this kind of acceptance. Anything less than this doesn’t deserve our time or attention.

I’m not saying this is easy or that I’m perfect. I’m not a perfect follower of Jesus. When I struggle, I recognize the root of my struggles and then I move forward in dealing with it. We need people who can look at our weaknesses and struggles, see past them and walk with us despite their own weaknesses and struggles because we all have them.

We deserve people in our life who we can be authentic with and vise versa. I don’t wear masks in life. What you see is what you get. Being fake has no business or place in a life meant to be lived by faith. Anything less than this doesn’t deserve our time and attention. 

I enjoy being around other people but I know often it can get messy. It’s time for us to stop allowing ourselves to be doormats for others, staying in one sided relationships out of love. Love is unconditional, it may not always be reciprocated, but it was never meant to be abused. Real love never fails, and when it does it’s not real love. We deserve to have people in our life who love us in the way of Jesus. It was His way that set the standard. We will always fall short of this standard but it’s our responsibility to do our very best to right our wrongs, repent of any wrongdoing, and ask for forgiveness.

None of this is easy. We all have baggage and pasts that are difficult to move on from. But when God places people in our life to help us in those areas, it’s our responsibility to nurture those relationships. They’re rare and few, and should never be taken for granted.

It is my hope and prayer for you and for myself, we will begin to see ourselves in the image of Christ. That we will love ourselves enough to walk away from any person or persons who doesn’t see our value or worth.

You deserve to be treated well.  Any one who doesn’t recognize this, doesn’t deserve your time or attention.

 

 

Rooted: The Hidden Places Where God Develops You by Banning Liebscher [Book Review]

 

9781601428400Rooted by Banning Liebscher is another great read for 2016.  Every book I’ve picked up this year has been timely and Rooted was no different. Banning discusses how God develops us through the process of Intimacy, Serving, and Community. The biggest take away I got from Rooted is when God develops us, it takes time. Until we are fully developed through His process,  we cannot fully live out our purpose.

All of Banning’s words resonated with me, but the section on serving really struck a cord. God put us here to love and serve others. To lay our life down for our friends and those close to us. I have reflected on the past month of my life and realize the people who need my love most are the people I see and interact with daily. It goes beyond that but it starts there.

Rooted will both challenge and convict you. It will make you see life through a different pair of lens you’re used to as a follower of Christ. You will rethink areas of life, namely, your relationship with Christ and how it affects your relationships with other people and importantly, yourself.

What kind of legacy do you want to have? You are chosen and appointed to bear fruit that lasts for eternity, just like David, just like Christ. 

Banning encourages us to remain rooted in the Source; Jesus. I highly recommend this book.

How rooted are you?

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

3 Characteristics of Successful Friendships

The more I think about my life at almost 33, I’m reminded daily how important friendships are.  I’m also reminded how difficult they are.  I don’t know what it is about adult friendships, but it seems the older I get, it becomes harder to maintain them. My inner circle has gotten smaller over the past few years, but there are some consistent characteristics about these people and why we’re able to make our friendships work.

They’re reliable. When I text or call, they text and call back. They always respond.

They always follow through with commitments. If they say they’ll be there, they’re there. No questions asked. No excuses.

They value our time together. They’re never late or ever in a hurry. Oh, and as a bonus, they almost never use or check their phone while we’re together.

I’m in a place in life where I want to be around people who genuinely like being around me. Honestly, I’m not always the best person to be around. I’ve struggled more lately than I have in a while. Sometimes we say and do things we don’t necessarily mean and stuff happens that could have been prevented had we been more self-controlled. I know this now but I also know despite my failings, God has still proven Himself faithful.

God doesn’t stop working because I’m a bad friend.

This is an area I’m trying to constantly improve as I move forward with my life. I’ve had some amazing things happen in a few short months and I’ve had some difficult things happen too. But when it’s all said and done and the chips have fallen, I want to know the right people are in my life. People who will challenge me, strengthen me, encourage me, and be there no matter what. On the same hand, I want to be this kind of friend too.  I believe what we are willing to sow into our friendships/relationships and in life, we reap those things. If we sow good things, we’ll reap good things.

Successful friendships don’t happen over night. They’re cultivated over time with a lot of patience, and the will power to keep going, to make things work, even when the directions of our life change.

Ask God for the grace and humility to be a better friend and for Him to bring those kind of friends into your life.

Do you have successful friendships? If not, what in your life needs to change?

 

 

A Message For All Women

I don’t know where you are in life at the moment, but wherever it is, you are where you’re supposed to be. If you believe in the Lord like I do, trust He has your best interest in mind. No matter the circumstances, believe He is faithful.  I know this part is very difficult. Us women want to be loved, valued, cherished, and accepted for who we are. My message to you is continue being the woman God has created you to be.

Throughout your life, men will come and go.  Not every one who stays is the “One.” This part will be difficult to accept, but God knows us better than any one ever will and He has designed someone specifically for not only us, but our hearts.

We must guard our purity with our life. Not only sexual purity, but mental, emotional, and spiritual too. If any of these areas are compromised by our relationships or anything else in our life, they need to go. No person or thing is worth the risk of living an impure life. I know this sounds self-righteous, but from my own experience, this is the only way to live.

As we get older, our perspective changes. We see things from a different pair of lens. Lens of growth, wisdom, and above all, love. All those times you thought God was being too hard on you or worse, punishing you, you’ll see what He was doing all along … loving you. He is the only One who loves from a pure and genuine heart. When we walk in His love it changes how we see things.

We need more confident hearts. Confidence in ourselves and in the Lord. I know from experience, I’m not as confident as I want to be. I’m insecure and feel unattractive. I would love for a man to look me in the eyes and say, “Julie, you’re beautiful” and mean it. But I need to start seeing myself the way God sees me. Accepted, valued, and loved despite my stretch marks and flaws.

There is a man out there, a Godly man for you. One who seeks the Lord in everything. He knows how to treat a woman and doesn’t take advantage of her heart or emotions. He helps protect her purity and would never put her in a situation where she will need to question his motives or actions. He can be trusted. Many men will claim to be this man.  They’ll say with their lips “I believe in the Lord” but say differently with their actions.  Pay attention. Actions never lie.

God is the author of our lives. He has written every page and He knows the beginning to end.

This part may be difficult to accept because we like to be in control, but I beg you, surrender everything to God and Him alone and you won’t regret it. The best plan for our life is the one we couldn’t write ourselves.

You deserve nothing but God’s best for you and only He knows what this is. It may look one way one day and another the next but believe His fingerprints are in everything. 

Never let any person take the place of God in your life. Put God first in everything and move out of the way. When you put Him first, everything else will fall into place.

I’ve made a commitment to follow the Lord in everything. Admittedly, this isn’t easy. I haven’t made the best choices this year but I’m going to walk the next half of 2016 more confident and hopeful.

I hope you will too.

 

NKJV Study Bible, Personal Size, Paperback [Bible Review]

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Normally, I’m not a fan of the NKJV version of Scripture, but this Bible came in handy to study with. The NKJV Study Bible is a great study Bible for adults who want to dig deeper into scripture.

My favorite feature are the verse by verse notes at the bottom of each section of reading. I have found this feature extremely valuable and highly recommended for any one who wants to deepen their understanding of scripture. The other feature I found helpful were the cross references and the articles highlighting key doctrines/principles in the Bible.

This is a very compact Bible and perfect to carry with you to work or for group study.

I highly recommend this Bible if you’re a fan of the NKJV translation.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”