Dating

Dating Tip #3: Accept the Truth

My eyes have really been opened the past month. I’m realizing what I had four years ago was safe. We spent hours talking, letting God confirm daily what He wanted from us and we obeyed. We didn’t waver at all from God’s will miles apart from each other. Until we were actually within a few feet from each other that’s when everything changed. It wasn’t a sudden change but over time things changed. Things were no longer safe, we were thick in the reality of what God was doing and each other.

Our relationship was kept off social media entirely. This should have been hint #1. He tried to tell me repeatedly when couples make their relationship public, you’re only allowing outside influences into an area they don’t belong. I believed this and so I agreed with it for almost a year.  Over the past three years though, he’s been very public with his past and present relationships. Three years ago, I took this as flat out rejection. Now though, I realize it was never rejection, it was respect.

The situation didn’t feel right any more. It felt right four years ago when we met in this space. It felt right four years ago when  we built on a foundation we both swore was stable. It felt right when he moved here because God told him to “Go.” It felt right because our situation was unique … so sacred.  Until it was no longer sacred and I pushed it away. I didn’t want anything to do with it any more. He was doing with her what he did with me four years ago. Our connection was no longer between us and he never loved me. He loved the idea of me but not the real me.

This truth has set me free.

I won’t lie, this truth hurts. Earlier this week I fought back tears and I did again yesterday morning. My pride doesn’t like to admit it and I’m almost slightly ashamed to type it, but I don’t know any other way than to be authentic with how I feel. I wanted it this way because I was scared. I was losing this person I created a life with for over four years even if it wasn’t consistent, it was still familiar …. it was safe. And just like that, enter another woman and it was gone. My heart couldn’t take it, so I bailed.

Every thing God places in our hands requires work. I worked pretty hard to obey the Lord in everything. This last time though, it was no longer about obedience to the Lord, but about guarding my heart … for good. I’m protecting myself from further hurt. It’s counter productive, I know but for now, it’s what’s right.

Accepting truth, real truth, isn’t for the faint of heart. 

God’s Word has continually guided and directed my steps since 2012. The only time my steps weren’t directed was when I tried dating in July. I prayed but didn’t wait for clearance, I jumped in. God knows our desire to be close to someone, He understands our desire for companionship. We say we aren’t looking for it, but deep down we really are.  Until Jesus is everything to us, until the reality of His presence is deep in us, in those deep, hidden places, we won’t be ready for the real relationships He has specifically designed us for. 

This truth is what I’ve settled in my heart, let it settle in yours too.

Understand though, I’m not good with relationships. I love people and when that love is threatened I tend to either hold on to it tightly or I let it go without thinking twice. In my dating relationship, I let it go. I literally ran away from it. But with Jeremy, it was different.

Twice in the past week, when I’ve gotten in my car to leave our song came on. The first time, I changed stations immediately because I was pissed. The other day though, I listened to it all the way through. He dedicated it to us when he was back home. He didn’t remember it though after we broke up. I was reminded why I held on so long. Love doesn’t give up. It doesn’t quit. Love always protects, trusts, hopes, and always perseveres. It never fails.  It takes two people who both love each other to make a relationship work. I was the only one in our relationship and friendship who loved the other person. For the first time in four years, I quit because love was never reciprocated and I realized it.

Accepting this truth is disappointing but freeing. The truth really does set us free.

The truth I’m accepting right now is knowing the Holy Spirit can work between people anywhere. It worked between us consistently for four years. It’s worked in my life consistently since I closed this door.  The problem is I tied my experience with the power of the Holy Spirit to a person instead of a Person. The Holy Spirit will work between any one with an attentive heart. A heart that is truly seeking the Lord, one who walks in the Spirit daily, and lays their life down for others. God first, family (children, mother, father, brother, sister, etc) second, everyone else last.  In that order, no exception. 

This last truth is what I keep at the forefront of my mind.

A friend reminded me last week it’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to cry for what’s no longer but not to live there. Don’t live in the memories but to keep moving forward in the Lord because He’s going to do something new. In the stillness, I know that new thing is already here. I’ve known it for almost two months. All those pieces coming together perfectly behind the scenes. There’s peace knowing God is control but even without His blessings and what He will give me, I’m secure.

Let me encourage you to do a few things. Let God love you back to life again before making commitments. Open your hands wide for what He gives you, but don’t hold on to it too tight. More importantly, follow Jesus everywhere. I’m not talking about physically or spiritually but emotionally and mentally.  When we’re truly following Jesus, He will take us through valleys of offenses we’ve never fully dealt with. It will be hellish. Instead of running towards the next feel good high, run to Him wholeheartedly. Running the race for Christ wasn’t for quitters, but for people who aren’t afraid to run and fight. And yes, sometimes for a season you have to run this race with only Him and alone. If you’ve never been alone for longer than three months, then there’s something inside you broken and you’re looking for other people to make it or you whole.

Don’t argue with this truth, accept it, and change.

Don’t hold on to your plans too tightly either. Even with prayer and reading Scripture, God can throw a curve ball into our plans at any time. Our plans, visions, and preparation are many, but “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)

I don’t know what 2017 is going to look like but I’ve stopped looking ahead. I’ve spent more time with family and friends during my holiday break. This holidays has been a little hard and not as joyful, but my joy is no longer in people, but in a Person. The one who never gives up on me and loves me unconditionally.

This truth is the only one I will accept forever, I hope you will too.

In Jesus and with love,

Julie

 

Dating Tip #2: It’s Okay To Walk Away

Over three years ago, I lost who I thought was the love of my life. Over three months ago, I attempted to date again and failed. It’s hard to put in words what’s happened in my life over the past few months. Hence, why I’ve been quiet.

It’s hard to separate faith over our feelings, isn’t it? This is probably why I’ve struggled in my dating life and struggled with a person from my past reentering my life after a few months of silence. I knew the door would reopen itself, I just didn’t know when.

For the first time in almost three years though, I’m the one who walked away and closed the door permanently. It wasn’t because I was hurt or bitter, it wasn’t out of resentment or jealousy. It was about respect and realizing I deserve better. I will never deny my feelings for Jeremy or the connection we had through the Holy Spirit. I thank God every day for the lessons I learned and continue to learn through it and will do so until the day I die. This was a man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. A man who I love unconditionally despite the fact he continued to walk in and out of my life when he wanted and abandoned our friendship for other women.  This last time though, something inside me shifted. The light finally cut on.

The light of Jesus always exposes darkness.

We can have all the faith in God we want, we can love Him with our whole heart, but when we repeatedly hurt those closest to us and conceal and compartmentalize parts of our life, it’s not okay. No matter the reason, there’s no excuse for deception, major or minor. This doesn’t only involve romantic relationships but friendship too.

The desires of our hearts will never be met without Jesus. He has to be in everything. We say with our mouths God is in the center of our life and relationships, but is He really? I can honestly say, every time He was in the center of mine, the relationship wasn’t comfortable or easy.

A Godly relationship will help us confront difficult places. We should date and marry someone who not only helps us confront it but comes along side of us and helps us to be better. If you’re someone who doesn’t like confrontation, check your pride.

Jesus washed the feet of all 12 of His disciples, even Judas, the one who would eventually betray Him. Jesus laid His life down for His friends. I want the kind of relationships where we’re unafraid to lay our lives down for each other and the only way to have this of kind of relationship is when our natural self surrenders itself and dies.

In September, I walked away from an unhealthy relationship, one where my morals were continuously compromised. Last week, I walked away from a relationship that ended long before I finally had the courage to. The answer was there the whole time, but love is blind. Thankfully though, God’s love illuminates everything. I trust God’s plan over my feelings and trust the truth of His Word over fickle relationships.

God doesn’t want us in dead end relationships. He brings people together for a reason but both have to be in agreement with each other and ultimately God (Amos 3:3).  If there’s no agreement, it’s okay to walk away.

Know this, no matter what others say or do to us, God is still God. He is still the One who knows what’s best for us. We don’t. We never will. His ways are always better than ours. So, my prayer for myself and for you, is that we will always test everything according to His Word and pray for discernment. Be a person of integrity in public and in private. Love people. Really love them and let His love lead your relationships.

This past week I’ve learned the value of friendship and how important it is to have people in our life who genuinely care about us and who put others first. They think of themselves very little and always puts others’ needs above their own. They walk in love daily without realizing it.

We can only be lead by the love of Jesus if our lives our truly being led by Him. It’s okay to walk away from people who claim to follow Jesus but don’t love others the way He does. 

I’m still learning how to do the last part and with the help of God I’ll get there. I know my future relationships will be better for it and so will yours.

In Jesus and with love,

Julie

Dating Tip #1: Head Over Heart

Honestly, I’ve been embarrassed to share my last attempt at a relationship because it failed. Though I knew in the beginning it would. Yet, like most people I stayed thinking it would get better and I would grow into my feelings with this person. Those feelings never happened and as I sit here almost two months later, I can say with confidence I will never allow my heart to lead this area of my life again.

For the first time in a long time, someone was interested. They noticed me, all of me. I saw them one day looking at me from across the room and it was like the whole world stopped. I noticed it but dismissed it at the time. This was about a year prior. I wasn’t paying attention to subtle hints someone noticed me. Stuff started happening though when I would go out. Men would give me attention and something inside me shifted. I felt confident. I felt wanted. This only fueled the desire in me to give dating and relationships a try. Though I told friends and Facebook I was content with my singleness, inside I was ready to put myself out there.  Of course, I prayed about it and rather than wait for God’s response, I rushed ahead.

This is where things got messy. I struggled with my relationship with this person and with God. I knew God was there. He reminded me every morning as I sat at His feet to return to Him. He was with me, but my heart was far from Him.

It’s a dangerous thing to move ahead of God in any area of our life and to ignore His warnings.  When I was reading the Word, I wasn’t allowing it to permeate. Instead I was glossing over the hard parts and remembering the good parts. Each time I found myself in situations where my beliefs and morals were compromised, I would hear God’s voice quoting scripture in my head. This was another subtle way He was trying to get my attention and draw me closer to Himself.

Scripture reminds us our hearts are deceitful above all else. I thought I loved this person but real love doesn’t fail. If I had used my head and not my heart, who knows what would have happened. I probably would’ve never dated and kept this person at a comfortable distance and only been their friend. I would have done a lot of things differently. But I can’t take it back and I’m not sure I would. It needed to happen.

Relationships are successful when God is at the center and are led by the Holy Spirit.  I’ve always known this but I allowed myself and heart to get distracted. Our hearts may have the right intentions, but our head and heart should remain kingdom focused.

It’s easy in hindsight to say all this but at the time things were different in my heart and in my spirit. I wanted what most people want; companionship. We were made for relationships but our relationships with other people should be an extension of our relationship with Jesus, not a replacement.

At the moment, I’m not seeking a relationship. I am, however, cultivating the existing relationships in my life with my friends, coworkers, and family. This is all an extension of me cultivating my relationship with God moment by moment.

My heart may have deceived me a lot in my life but I know when my heart is truly centered on the Lord, His character, His ways, and His wisdom, I’m not easily distracted by the desire for a relationship. Right now the only thing I want is more of Him.

It’s my prayer and hope we will all learn to seek and trust God in this area of our life above all else. That we will guard our hearts to the desires of this world moment by moment. Only God knows the true desires of our hearts. Allow Him to lead and guide you continually.

What I’m Learning About Dating

In early July, I tried dating. I dived head first into a relationship without asking God first. The “relationship” ended about two weeks ago and it’s taken time for me to get my thoughts together to write this. I’ve felt both guilt and freedom since I ended things between us. I don’t even know if we were ever really together but I know I took our situation to levels I swore I wouldn’t with someone I didn’t intend to marry.

It’s been easy sharing from my heart over the past three years how to navigate singleness and moving on from a broken heart. It’s difficult though when you’re the heart breaker. I’ve not only lost a relationship but a friend too.

That was hard to admit but I’m learning now more than ever to be honest about my shortcomings and not repeat the same mistakes in the future. In the next few posts, I’m going to share what I’m learning about dating and what I will do differently moving forward.

Without God directing my choices I would have stayed in a situation He clearly told me in the beginning to remove myself from. I didn’t listen and kept going down a path I knew would eventually lead to a dead end. I made that choice and I’ve taken responsibility for it both in asking God for forgiveness and repenting.

If you’re single like me, hopefully what I share here will encourage you to wait for God in this difficult area of life. I thought I was ready for a relationship after three years, but the truth is, I’m not and I’m finally okay with that.

Stay tuned.

We Need People In Life Who Take Initiative

For the past few years, my relationships with other people have felt lackluster. Lately, there’s only really been one person who has really been there for me. They take initiative without having to ask. Which made me think how important it is for us to have people like this in our life.

Most of my life, I’ve always been the giver in my relationships. Until recently, I’ve been thinking more about why I’m this way. I didn’t have a rotten childhood, but I know when I needed attention or affection from people I wanted it, I was met with rejection. When I was given attention, it wasn’t the right kind. It was only given to make themselves feel better in fleeting moments. The more I’ve exposed myself to the idea of a relationship and what it means, I know I appreciate when other people take initiative with the right intention and motives.

When people take initiative, it shows they care. This one is really a no brainer. We invest our time in things we love and care about. When people put forth effort into a relationship, it shows they actually care about the relationship and you.

I know my motives with my past relationships haven’t always been right. I thought if I did all the right things, they would love me more. But, we don’t need to work to earn someone’s love. Real love is freely given. What people freely give shows what they really care about.

I’ve always told myself I would never settle for less than I deserve, no one should. But God has been telling me something different lately. If I want others to be more attentive, loving, and to invest in our relationship, I need to do the same. I can’t expect from others what I don’t do myself.

Honestly, I’ve gotten lazy. Most of my meaningful relationships in life have fallen apart because I gave up. I stopped wanting to put forth the effort because the relationship wasn’t going anywhere. So, I did what most people would do. The moment there were inconsistencies, I walked away. I don’t regret it, but I’ve had to take a very hard look at myself and character. The truth is, relationships take work and the more I think about the kind of work it takes, I just want to be carried for a change.

In relationships, small things matter. When people take initiative in small things, when big stuff happens, they don’t freak out or bolt. How we handle small things says a lot how we handle the big stuff. 

I’ll be honest and say I’ve failed more lately at this relationship stuff than I have for most of my life. Knowing what I need from other people doesn’t always mean I’ll get those things. Which yes, can be very frustrating. But we can’t demand things from people. They have to give those things on their own. In the mean time, we have to give others what we  need/want from them even when it’s not reciprocated. This is what Jesus told me today and as much as I want to shake my head in disagreement and in pride, it’s His way and it’s right.

We need people in life who take initiative, but it starts with you.

How will you take initiative this week with the people who matter to you?

#heartcheck

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?

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

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

What Being Single At 32 Will Teach You

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Honestly, I didn’t think I’d still be single. I thought I’d be married with children by now.  God must have other plans.

This the reality I live with – God has a different plan for my life than I thought I wanted. 

I’ll be frank. I hate being single. It’s bothered me more in the past year than any other time in my life. Most of the time, I just write it off as I’m just lonely and need someone in my life who can fill a void. But the truth is, I don’t hate being single because I’m lonely. I hate it because there’s a part of me who believes I’m going to die alone.

As a woman who believes in the Lord, standing firm in my own convictions and realizing, settling would go against God’s will and best for me in this area.  Men say they want a woman who loves the Lord with her whole heart and follows Him closely, yet, at the end of the day, most settle. I’ve met married people unhappy in their marriages so they flirt their way through other people hoping they will erase the ache. I’ve met single people afraid of commitment so they settle for dead end relationships.

One of the most difficult things for me is knowing what I want, that God has it covered, to going my own way, doing this dating thing my way, and hope for the best. But it doesn’t work that way. I know what obedience in this area feels like and it’s the way I feel now.

I know God wouldn’t have led me to the people He has over the years without their lessons. Lessons about what I truly need and want in my relationships and never settling for less than I know I deserve.

Love is blind, but with God as my guide, He makes those things clear. 

Being single at 32 is not the love story I envisioned for my life. I saw things differently, very differently, but it’s just proof I know nothing. When I asked God into my life back in 2011, I also allowed Him into my heart. And though my heart is messy, He’s always protected me. Though there were times it didn’t feel like protection, looking back, I know He knew what I needed better than I ever did.

The brutal reality is, I could be single for another year, 10 years, or God could choose to leave me single. The unknowing is the difficult part of it too but there’s also beauty in watching God’s plan for my life unfold before me. 

God’s fingerprints are all over this area in my life and though it’s difficult at times to trust, surrendering this area of my life to Him completely is freeing. I don’t have to search for the man God has designed and prepared for me. He will bring him into my life when He knows I’m ready and without my help.

If you’re single like me, surrender this area of your life to God completely and leave it there. Trust His plan over yours and your heart with Him over your lusts and wants.

Singleness isn’t punishment, it’s preparation. God is preparing the love of my life the way He’s preparing me.

I trust Him. 

 Will you?

photo credit: Poppies, England via photopin (license)

Do Not Awaken Love

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I feel like my whole life has been one bad love story after another. Looking back, most of it could have been prevented with more careful consideration of who I was choosing to allow into my life and heart. However, in hindsight, I realize there’s a reason for every relationship regardless of their length. I’m writing this in a torrid season and confused heart.

To clarify, I can only speak from experience, my experience, and I feel the topic of dating is one I kind of hit and miss in my writing. I write a lot about having my heart broken, my past, and having faith through it all. I’ve been through a lot over the past year. Last year was my best year, especially in the area of relationships.  God opened a door and I walked through it with confidence and trust.

Over a year later, my confidence and trust is broken.

I didn’t intentionally seek anything on my own strength or through my own understanding. I was led by obedience to God and trusting Him when nothing He was asking of me made sense, I simply obeyed.  Every area of my heart was surrendered to God and His plan and purpose. Over time more of His plan was being revealed through each step of obedience. Then out of no where, the confirmations, connection, and everything built in those four months slowly fell apart. I still believed in the Lord and in His goodness but everything changed.

We changed.

Over the last few months I’ve gone back and forth from wanting to let go and hold on. My heart says “let go“, my gut says, “hold on,” God says, “trust Me“.  I’m leaning now towards trusting God through this than wanting to throw up my hands in defeat and call it quits.

Every area of my life is never meant to be in my hands or within my control, everything is in His.

I’m currently reading, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris and I feel the book is rewriting the last year of my life only in reverse. I see things I did right, things I did wrong, and things I will do better in the future. I’ve never dated just for the sake of dating. I don’t feel it’s necessary for two people to date or “see each other” without the purpose of it leading to a long-term commitment. Whether it’s marriage down the road or mutual understanding of where both of you are in life.

If any one struggles with commitment, they have no business dating. 

Let this truth settle in your mind and heart because I’ve had it settle in mine. The truth hurts, but the truth is better than being led on or lied to. We can manipulate our heart and life into believing relationships can fill the voids in our life or worse allowing our flesh to rule our hearts, but only God is the author of our life and what better author to write our love stories than Him?

The question shouldn’t be whether or not it’s right or wrong to date. The real question should be, “Do you trust God and His timing?” or better, “Do you trust God, period?”

I’ve experienced the joy and reaped reward for waiting on God’s timing in this area of my life. I’ve seen God’s hand do beautiful things between two people who surrendered their entire hearts and life to His calling. But I’ve also experienced the heart ache of allowing my feelings to dictate the choices I’ve made recently. Yet, I know beyond a shadow of doubt God’s plan remains and through all of this His purpose will prevail.

Dating for the sole purpose of dating will only lead to temporary fulfillment, it won’t last. Commitment doesn’t happen in short-term relationships. Dating isn’t wrong but the right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.

It’s through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Lord real love is awakened.  Genuine love is best in God’s timing

Song of Songs 8:4

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

Are you willing to wait?

#heartcheck

photo credit: Helga Webercc

What Relationships Will Teach You

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In 30 years, I’ve been in three relationships. The last relationship was probably the best I’ve ever had because God was the center, He directed everything. So often as a single, people give us advice on how important it is to place God first above all and everything second. I did, we did. Ultimately though, the relationship fell apart.

There are times I blame myself, I blame him, and at one point, I asked God, “Why? Now, I sit in thanks and praise. Not because I’m glad it’s over, but thankful for what I’ve learned.

The thing about relationships most of us overlook is everyone is given free will. Free will is what ended our relationship, not God or faith.  Regardless if God and the Holy Spirit worked and continues to work, free will is still a choice and the choice was to end it.  And I have to respect it. Not because it’s right, but because it’s best.

It’s hard moving forward knowing everything in the past year was led by the Lord and realizing somewhere along the way our focus changed. We never took our eyes off the Lord, His hands were in everything but we took our focus off Him together. Individually, He moved in ways I, to this day can’t put into words. Together though, the focus was more on us and less on Him. Factor in past wounds from childhood to current, it’s a recipe for conflict.

Everyone will come into our life with baggage. It doesn’t matter if the baggage is past or present, it still exists. If the baggage isn’t unpacked and collects itself over the years, issues which never existed before will begin to slowly spill over in areas it was never meant to. This is the reality of allowing another person into our life with history too long to trace each step to its beginning. Harder when the other person isn’t open or vulnerable to communicate it.  Where there is trust, there is communication regardless of its content.  When we’re fully exposed to each other … raw, naked, vulnerable,  exposed, it doesn’t matter how the content is communicated, there’s a level of trust and it’s safe. This is why communication is crucial for a relationship’s survival.  

Lack of intimate, vulnerable, and intentional communication means no relationship. We’ll build nothing on nothing and lose everything. 

Everyone will come into our life with characteristics hard to love. Inconsistent, check. Always late, check.  Insecurity, check. Pride, check. I learned to look past certain things and give the benefit of doubt, I extended grace and forgiveness, not judgement or condemnation.  This is the hardest lesson we’ll ever learn about loving others despite our differences. We all deserve grace. Most  issues I’ve seen in others, I refused to stand and see the inconsistencies in my own character and issues in my own life.

Easier to point out someone else’s junk than face our own. It requires a humble and repentant heart to fully surrender the “junk” in our lives to God and leave them there, for good.

Everyone will come into our life with expectations and expectations always lead to disappointment. I can look back on all the times I expected more than I knew I’d be given. I always felt if a man loved God with all his heart, mind, and soul he would know how to treat a woman.  The reality though, we all fall short.  There comes a point when we have to lay down our expectations and stop making excuses for allowing a man or woman to take the place of God. Expectations create mini “gods” and they become idols. It’s no longer God on the throne, but our expectations.

We need to let our expectations go and trust God’s wisdom. God’s Word is filled with wisdom about relationships because it all points to our source, Jesus. He is love and every relationship should be founded on love, not expectations.

Everyone will come into our life with fear of love and being unconditionally loved in return. I was afraid to put myself out there and lay my heart on the line again. This was different, it wasn’t forced or planned. I didn’t look for it, it found me. And I can still thank God for it all knowing He knew what I needed and when but we can’t force love. Love isn’t something we magically create, it grows over time. “I love you” is exchanged long before a relationship has time to grow.

We need to leave relationships in the hands of God. We need to allow our hearts to heal from past wounds before we can give it away to someone else. This may never happen in my own life but the more I seek God, spend time with Him, and lean on His promises, my past doesn’t hinder my present much like it used to. Not because I’m fully healed, but because Jesus redeemed it all when He died for me, the way He died for you.

If I’ve learned anything over the last month it’s God is still good. He is a God of surprise and He knows. He hasn’t failed to reach into the depths of my heart and point me to truth. There have been some low points but the high points far out weigh the low points of my singleness. I do wonder sometimes if  I will ever find someone, but I rest in God’s promise to me . He has promised to never leave or forsake me, He has promised He is doing a new thing, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19) and while I can’t see the road ahead, I trust His wisdom more than my heart.

Relationships founded, built, and cultivated with God at the center will always thrive, regardless of our baggage, expectations, and fear. This is the bottom line. It’s free will  that collects baggage, creates expectations, and creates fear. It’s the refusal to surrender these things that end relationships.

If relationships have taught me anything, it’s God is still good. God is still the author of my life and I’ll be fine. It hurts some days, but God is a God of healing. He is greater than anything any one can ever do to me. Free will or not, faith is a choice and so is love.

I’m lucky the choice was made for me from the very beginning, the rest is in my redeemer’s hands.

What have relationships taught you?

photo credit: ‘Ajnagraphy’ cc