Author: Darveiye

Why I Don’t Celebrate Easter

Why I Don’t Celebrate Easter

I’ll make this quick. I’m writing this on my phone, so you know it’s real!

Today is what many in the world call Easter Sunday. Churches are preparing weeks in advance for easter egg hunts, Easter productions, food, Easter baskets, etc. Traditionally, this is one of the two days regular church goers know they can invite their family members and they “have” to go. (Christmas service is the other time).

It’s interesting that two of the most attended church services are holidays with pagan roots. Before you get all up in arms, let’s take a look at the word ‘pagan.’ Most understand it to mean anyone who is a non-Christian or not of the world’s largest religious groups.

Biblically, the word pagan is used to describe one who is idolatrous (who worships many or any false gods/things). When we see the word pagan from this standpoint, we see it could refer to a Christian or anyone else for that matter. Interestingly enough, Paganism is considered a religion now and there are those who describe themselves as such (I’m not going to get into that).

Now, I’m not going to go in depth about the pagan roots of Easter — but I’ll refer you to those who can.

Aside from this, I have my reasons for forgoing celebrating Easter.

1. Religious Ritual over Remembrance

I am skeptical of the heart behind why we as children of the Most High (GOD) feel the need to celebrate Easter (especially in the way in which we do). It appears to me it is more of a religious ritual than a purposeful opportunity for remembrance of the Cross.

I saw this in how we were so focused on what outfit we were going to wear, how we’d style our hair, what we’d cook when we got home, easter baskets, how many eggs the kids found, etc.

If we really intend to celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah, Yeshua the Christ, then why aren’t our eyes and hearts on Him? Why don’t we encourage opportunity to examine ourselves and whether we’re living in faith of what the Cross provided?

2. The world celebrates the same way.

To be honest, I’m skeptical of anything the world is equally excited about as the Church. If the Church and the world are in agreement on all, some, or most things, the Church has ceased being the Church.

There doesn’t seem to be anything inherently wrong with getting candies, looking cute, eating with family or any of the other things we do on “Easter.” The problem comes when we’ve lost sight of why we’re doing it. The problem comes when we’re more focused on being comfortable than our responsibility to compel.

I can’t wrap this blog up in good conscience without clearing up some things.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to church on Easter or look nice or spend time with family. I am saying turn a mirror on your heart and ask GOD to search you.

Am I living in repentance?

Am I living worthy of the call with which I was called?

Do I truly believe in the power of the Cross?

Do I really believe in the power of the Resurrection?

Where have I ceased to live consecrated to the Father?

I pray you and myself discover deeper intimacy with our Father. May we hear His voice clearly. May we no longer be distracted by our conveniences and religious rituals. May we know true relationship with the Most High!

 

Be sensible.

Be fools.

I Thought It Was Love

I Thought It Was Love

Have you ever been in love? Many of us would claim we have been. Sometimes, we’re unsure. We use feelings to justify or confirm that we were in fact in love. “I just feel so happy around him!” “She makes me so giddy!” “He just makes me feel good.”

We think because “we’re so excited to be around them,” “we like the same things,” or “they’re different from anyone we’ve ever dated,” that it means we’re in love. Granted, sometimes, this is the case. However, this is not always true. Sometimes, it’s something else.

Lust.

You’ve likely already heard this. Lust does a fantastic job at masquerading as love. We often perceive our lust for someone as love for them. Lust can be defined as a very strong desire–often unquenchable. It is not wrong in and of itself to strongly desire something.

However, it’s important to qualify (verify) what we desire. We can do this by asking a couple of simple questions.

Why do I want what I want?

This is one of the easiest ways to distinguish love from lust. If you want what you want for an unhealthy reason (pride, insecurity, superiority), then you know it’s lust. Lust does nothing but consume you. Love doesn’t consume you, it blooms you and those that are in relationship with you.

What will I do once I get it?

Is your desire for selfish reasons, then you know it’s not love; for love is selfless. Are you unable to give selflessly? Do you only desire to receive without any reciprocation? This leads me to my next point.

Reciprocity.

This is likely the most common dynamic at work in relationships that seem to have love, but don’t. The only reason I have any perception of this, is because I’ve discovered this within myself.

You may have learned about reciprocity in Math class in high school. It is simply a mutual exchange of privileges. “I am this to you because you’ve been that to me.” “I’ll do this for you because you’ve that for me.” “I expect you to give this because I’ve given that.”

Disclaimer: I’m not saying you should not have standards or stay in toxic relationships. No. Instead, I am saying a relationship built on reciprocity cannot live up to its fullest potential and it is not love. 

In a reciprocal relationship, I love that you did this for me, but not necessarily you. I find myself attached to what you can do, give, or be to me and not you. That’s not love. Love isn’t looking for what it can get, love has already given. It’s free. Love gives freely. For the moment love requires compensation, it’s not really love. 

I thought I knew how to love. I did; and maybe I did know how to love. However, after many heart breaking experiences, I’ve been slow to love those around me in fear of getting hurt. “What if I let myself love them and they hurt me beyond repair?” To a hurting person, that is the most valid question you could ask. While our ‘what if’ scenarios hardly ever come true, you can’t help but believe that if you chose to love, you’d end up broken.

I want to encourage you to love again. I don’t mean seek a romantic relationship–but love again.

Love yourself. Love others. This will only be possible through intimate relationship with the Most High. For many of us, the reason we’re unable to love without fear is because we have a skewed perspective about God. We’ve lost our trust in Him. We’ve lost our faith in Him. We feel like He left us when we needed Him most. So, we no longer go to Him when we feel lost or broken.

Fortunately and unfortunately, He is the only One that can find us when we’re lost and mend us when we’re broken.

The thing is, God is love–the very essence of it. God doesn’t have love, He is it. God doesn’t give love, He is it. If we’d allow Him to infiltrate every area of our dark hearts, they’d beat again. God wants you to be able to love again. You haven’t lost it, it’s just hidden. Remember, love doesn’t wait to be acknowledged or recognized. It’s free.

So, even if you’re not acknowledging God in your life right now, just know that He loves you still. That is the greatest truth we can ever grasp as humans–God loves you. Don’t forget it.

Meditate on 1 Corinthians 13.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poorand give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love

Be sensible. Be fools.

1 Cor. 3:18

An Open Letter to Myself

An Open Letter to Myself

What you will read below is a note I wrote in my phone to process my thoughts about my fear of rejection. It’s not going to be well organized. It’s my thoughts nonetheless.

I’m putting this up here in an effort to be vulnerable, transparent, and encourage someone who can relate. When I’m in places in which I can’t express myself, I write. I write to understand what I’m feeling and come to a place of resolution. So, here goes.

“I think I have a fear of rejection. I can trace it all the way back to when I was a child.

I remember pulling out of the student council race for president because I thought I’d lose. I don’t invite people places because of fear of rejection. I never wanted to throw parties because of fear of rejection. What if they don’t show up? They’d be rejecting me because they think I’m not worthy of showing up for.

In various seasons of my life, it’s been communicated to me that I’m not good enough to other people. That my voice doesn’t matter. That my interests were lame. That I was almost pretty, but not actually pretty. That I was almost cool, but not quite.

This is sad because I’ve let it rule my life for way too long. I’ve chosen not to go after things for fear of rejection. I have gone after things I knew I’d succeed in so not to lose or be rejected; all based on a conditioning by broken people. How are broken people going to tell me what I’m worth?  I’m worth the very GOD of heaven coming down to save me. That’s invaluable. No one can ever provide that for me.

So, I’m not broken. I’m whole in Him.
I’m not rejected. I’m accepted by Him.
I’m not unworthy. I’m worth it because of Him.
I’m not pathetic. I have purpose in Him.

God has already planned amazing things for me to do. Some will seem glorious, others not as much. But it’s what He has planned. And I’ll be glad in it. I don’t have to shrink back and pretend I’m not worthy of what is mine. Instead, I will step up and fully embrace that which God has called me to. I am more than enough.”

Here’s the thing. God loves you. Passionately. Everlastingly. Unconditionally. This matters above all else.

It doesn’t matter what people have said or done to you. You don’t have to believe them. Any thought or idea lower than God’s idea about you is a lie. God knows you the way no human will ever know you.

David, King of Israel, was a man with many issues but a heart set to please God. He understood that despite his shortcomings, his inward sin, his outward sin, rumors about him, betrayal, and his lowest points that God knew him and loved him still. David had done some terrible things in his life; things that many of would hate ourselves for. David knew that what others thought about him and what he thought about himself had to be subject to what God knew about him.

Read below what David was expressing about God’s intimate knowledge of him and you too!

 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
5 You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

Psalm 139:1-18

May you leave this believing the best about your Father and who He created you to be. Be blessed.

6 Things A Relationship Won’t Heal

6 Things A Relationship Won’t Heal

Here me out. While some of these things can be helped by a relationship, it(a relationship) is only a temporary fix that is likely to land you in further issue. So, before you decide to change that relationship status to ‘taken’ or ‘boo’d up,’ check out these things. You may think twice.

Loneliness

I’ve learned this in my most recent romantic relationship. A relationship will not heal ‘loneliness.’ It didn’t matter how often we spoke, how much time we spent together, or that the relationship was healthy and life-giving. I’d still find myself experiencing loneliness. This speaks to a common phrase we hear, “you can be in a crowd full of people and still feel alone.” So, having another person active in your life doesn’t guarantee you won’t feel lonely.

A relationship can only provide a band aid for the issue of loneliness. There’ll be times in which you feel the loneliness is subsiding; but that’s usually only during the moments you spend with your significant other. Once you’re alone, it all comes crashing down again.

Honestly, I’m still unpacking exactly where this weight of loneliness comes from. However, once I realized that I was lonely while still in a relationship, I ran to the Most High (GOD) and He’s been revealing and healing those areas. Now, it’s a very rare thing I experience.

Lust

Oh man. Many of us don’t want to say it. We wouldn’t say that’s largely the reason we hop into a relationship. We think that if we are committed to one person then we can somehow channel the lust into a positive energy in the relationship. One thing I’ve learned is that lust cannot be tamed, coddled, or ‘channeled.’ It can only be starved. Lust that’s starved is a lust that loses its power.

I’ve heard this said from various married folk, “whatever problems you have before marriage are the same problems you’ll have IN marriage; just multiplied!” I believe this applies to any sort of relationship. Any relationship will not make your issues magically evaporate. In fact, a life-giving God-ordained relationship will expose those issues and propel you toward purpose.

However, marriage exposes those issues in a unique way. For GOD’s purpose through marriage is to sanctify the husband and wife so that they reflect the relationship between Christ and the Church.

So, you can rest assured that if you’re struggling with lust now and you do nothing about it, you will struggle with it in a relationship.

Brokenness

To be honest, I’m hesitant on even putting this here; because I’ve seen the power of a healthy God-ordained relationship in dealing with brokenness. However, I wouldn’t say the relationship healed brokenness. Instead, it created a safe place for the areas of brokenness to be exposed and mended. 

GOD often works through people to heal and provide. However, it’s HIS power and resources that make healing and provision possible. So, no relationship with any human can provide all that you need for healing. It can merely serve as a conduit for healing.

Fear

If you’re struggling with fear as a single person, fear will infiltrate your relationship. We often think that a relationship will magically heal every issue we have. It will not. The same is true with fear. The only remedy for fear is love. The Bible says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).

I’ve wrestled with this passage many times; because according to it, I don’t walk in perfect love. I know I don’t walk in perfect love because I often live in fear. The two can’t coexist. The reason love and fear can’t coexist is because fear torments and punishes.

There is no pride in love. Love is humble. There is no lack in love. Love is complete. Love doesn’t keep record of wrong. Love forgives.

You can’t operate in perfect love and fear. GOD is love. There is no fear in GOD. What does God have to fear? Who does GOD have to fear?

My friend Chevon encouraged me one day concerning the verse above. She explained that perfect love will cast out fear as in it will draw it out. It will bring it to the surface and demand that it leave. It must be exposed first. An issue cannot change unless it is first exposed. An active relationship with the Most High (GOD), who is Love,  will pull the curtain back on your fear and drive it out.

Low Self-Esteem

Our society informs us that if you are in a relationship, you must be of importance or value. Have you ever been single and no one was trying to get at you at all? As soon as you got in a relationship, everyone seemed to shoot their shot? No? Just me? Cool. Sometimes, people don’t desire us until it seems someone else desires us. Oftentimes, we find our worth in whether or not we’re ‘desired’ by others.

We gravitate towards relationships because of the perception we want people to have of us. We want to be seen as someone who is worthy of another’s affection.

The thing is, whether or not someone woke up this morning with you on their mind, you are worthy of love. In fact, Christ thought you were worthy of His life. No human could ever or will ever top that. Ever.

Honestly, this is something I have to keep at the forefront of my mind. I tell myself often enough, “I’m not more important or attractive because I’m in a relationship with someone.” “I’m not less attractive or important when I’m single. I have the same kind of value in either position; because I’m HIS.” To be honest, I don’t always believe this, but I know it’s true. I don’t always feel like this is true, but GOD.

Lack of Purpose

For those that desire a long-term relationship, there is a certain security we experience having found someone we desire to invest in and who wants to invest in us. Sometimes, it can feel like a release or relief from ‘singleness.’ Many of us have been waiting for what seems like an eternity to ‘find’ someone or ‘be found,’ so that our life can finally “start.”

Now, I’ve heard it said many times that some of your best days are when you find that special someone and build a life together. I believe there’s a level of truth to this. However, you ought to have some of your “best days” before you’re linked in a relationship.You can’t wait around for someone or a relationship to ascribe purpose to you.

Granted, a facet of your purpose may be revealed once you link up with someone, but it’s important we begin seeking GOD concerning our individual purpose before a relationship.

Many of us get in a relationship and the relationship becomes our purpose. If you don’t have purpose before the relationship, you may not be choosing to be with this person for the right reasons. You could be choosing to be with them because of a lack of knowledge of your purpose, a fear of being alone, brokenness, loneliness, etc. Knowing your purpose or at least a glimpse of it will help in choosing wisely and timely as to when and with whom to get into a relationship.

So be encouraged and mindful. A relationship is not and should not become your everything. The very things you’re seeking healing for, GOD will heal if you let Him.

I’m encouraged today because I’m not where I used to be. I don’t even have to focus on “not being where I should be or will be.” I just know, I’m not where I used to be. The Father is healing me from the inside out and isn’t willing to let anything go unfinished. This is a work he started and I know He’ll finish it. (Phil. 1:6)

I’m encouraged because of the relationship I have with my Father. The Most High (GOD) pursues me, placed purpose in me, and continues to transform me so that it is fulfilled. So, if you’re struggling with any of the things listed above, remember that GOD is with you. No one can ever fill all of those voids and wounds. 

The only relationship that can heal all of the broken areas in you is your relationship with the Most High (GOD), your Father, if you accept Him. 

 

*I do not own the featured photo.

Hang In There

Hang In There

“Have the kids drove you crazy yet?” she asked. “Absolutely.” I replied.

“Hang in there.”

Those three magic words calmed and reassured me as my coworker with great empathy encouraged me. I didn’t even know I needed to hear that or that it would have the kind of effect it had.

The beauty of those three words strung together is that there are no empty promises or frilly pretenses. It means what it says. “Hang. In. There.”

No one tells you to ‘hang in there’ when things are easy. The very reason for which they’re saying that to you is because things are NOT easy. ‘Hang in there’ means:

  1. You may not have much left to give, but give anyway.
  2. You may be tired, but press anyway.
  3. You may not be noticed, but serve anyway.

The Bible says, So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up or quit” (Galatians 6:9 MSG). Paul is specifically addressing believers and how they engage with other believers and those who do not share their faith. This response is important because it’s not a response to humans, but a response and result of relationship with God.

Paul is teaching the church at Galatia that God does not ignore our efforts, hard work, good intentions, good deeds, etc. While those things are no good in and of themselves to save us, God still recognizes them and responds to them. 

The verses before verse 9 explain a basic principle that most people believe regardless of religious or cultural background. Some call it karma. Some call it ‘energy’ or ‘vibes.’ Some call it the power of positive thinking. We call it many things without fully understanding the weight of it.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked [He will not allow Himself to be ridiculed, nor treated with contempt nor allow His precepts to be scornfully set aside]; for whatever a man sows, this and this only is what he will reapFor the one who sows to his flesh [his sinful capacity, his worldliness, his disgraceful impulses] will reap from the flesh ruin and destruction, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life(Galatians 6:7-8).

Basically: whatever you plant, grows. Whatever you put in, you get it back. The beautiful thing about God is when you choose to plant according to His desires, His nature, and His will, you don’t just get back what you put in. You get a HARVEST. You get MORE than what you put in. Unfortunately, some of us feel as if we haven’t seen anything that looks like a harvest.

Some of us are frustrated right now because we don’t feel like our efforts are being noticed by the people we’d like to notice. Some of us feel God doesn’t seem to care about the pain, discomfort, or difficulty we may be walking through. Know this:

The Bible also says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

If there is anything that you take away from this, let it be this: God sees. More importantly for some of us, God sees you. Specifically. Clearly. Lovingly.

So, whatever you’re going through, know that God has a beautiful plan for you. It may not be easy or comfortable; but it’s worth it. God never promised we wouldn’t suffer; though He did promise that He’d always be with us (Deut. 31:6). So, hang in there. Better yet, rest in the One who is holding you.

The Divorce We All Need To Get

The Divorce We All Need To Get

It’s over.

Serve the papers. Tell them that you can’t do this anymore. You’re not happy anymore. Truthfully, you’ve never been happy. You thought that some day, they’d bring you fulfillment; but it just hasn’t happened.

They haven’t fulfilled you because they were never meant to. They don’t have the capacity to provide what you truly need. You stay because there are times it seems you’re on the same page and they want the best for you.

Let me just tell you, they don’t want the best for you. Who am I talking about? Better yet, what am I talking about?

Opinions. Not just any opinions. The opinions of others.

There’s such a strange power in the others. They dictate so much about your life and how you view yourself because somehow you’ve been taught that what they say or believe matters. You’ve been taught to filter your decisions through the ‘what will people say’ and the ‘what will they think’ filters.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. There needs to be some consideration of others; but it’s not in the way we normally do it. We ought to care about the needs of others; not the opinions. It doesn’t mean you don’t respect the opinions of others. It means you do not allow yourself to determine your self-worth, destiny, or purpose based on the limited perspective of other people.

An opinion is just that: a limited perspective. Opinions are not truth. Your opinion is not truth. My opinion is not the truth. While you may have considered facts to form your opinion, it is not inherently truth.

One of the most unhealthy relationships we could ever get in is a relationship with the opinions of others. Some of us are married to their opinions. We’d do anything to have them favor us. We don’t make a move without first asking if it’s okay. We’re ‘one’ with them.

I’ll tell you like my pastor, Marcus Howard, tells us all the time: You’ve got to divorce yourself from the opinions of others.

With divorce, there is always tremendous pain; even if you don’t feel it right away. So, it will hurt; but it’s necessary. To divorce yourself from the opinions of others is to no longer give them “legal” right to speak into you.

Now, don’t confuse opinions and advice with each other. We all ought to have someone in our lives that gives advice and provides accountability. However, we have to be sure this person gives unbiased advice that propels us toward our purpose.

We need people in our lives that will give us advice they may not even agree with because if it’s what’s best for us. Furthermore, we need to be people that give the advice that’s best for someone even if it’s not our preference.

So, there is a time and place for someone to give advice. However, we must learn to discern and decipher what is purposeful advice or empty opinions. 

Opinions are empty. They’re empty because there isn’t true life in them; because they aren’t based in truth. Most of the time our opinions are based in pride, fear, anxiety, doubt, worry, indifference, apathy, rebellion, etc. None of those things are life-giving realities.

While there may be things that are ‘true’ about a person’s opinion, no human’s opinion is in and of itself the truth. It just isn’t. It doesn’t matter how right we think we are, our opinion is not truth. The Bible says, “there’s a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Every human believes he or she is right. Oftentimes, it is the thing that comes most naturally to us. I know it is for me.

For most of my life, I’ve considered myself to be an intelligent person. Others have concurred thus far. However, as I’ve gotten older, I’m far less concerned with viewing myself as intelligent or others seeing me that way, and more concerned about being humble regardless of what I do or do not know.

Still, most of the time, I think I’m right! I do. It’s really unfortunate. I’ve recognized this trait in myself and how naturally and instinctively it shows up in my more intimate relationships. I’d like to naturally and easily consider other people’s thoughts as valid; but I’m not entirely there yet. I’m better now than I was before; but I’ve got a long way to go.

As the verse said, “there’s a way that seems right.” The reason it seems right is because we’re looking with the wrong “eyes.” If we’d look at every situation and person the way God does, then we’d KNOW what’s right.

Funnily enough though, the way God views things is oftentimes beyond what we can fathom as humans. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

The reason we don’t see certain things the way God sees them is because we’re thinking ‘too low.’ This is the very definition of a human opinion. It’s a low thought. It’s a compromised thought. It’s a thought from dimly lit vision. It’s blind.

I heard Pastor Touré Roberts say it like this, “think the highest thought.” God’s thoughts are truth and the highest thoughts. It would behoove us to learn what God’s thoughts are and align ours with His. If we knew what God thought about us, we’d never need the opinion of another to validate us ever.

Paul writes to the church at Galatia, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

We ought to stop trying to win the approval of others when we come into relationship with Christ. There is no greater freedom that the freedom from others and yourself. You don’t have to be affected by your own opinions any more than you do the opinions of others.

Be free! Let God show you who you truly are.

There is but one opinion that matters–God’s. What does God think of you? Check these out:

John 3:16

Romans 5:8

Romans 6:23

Psalm 36:7

Psalm 86:15

Romans 8:37-39

 

Happy reading!

I hope this encouraged you!

Friends: How Many of Us Have Them? Pt. 2

Friends: How Many of Us Have Them? Pt. 2

We’re back to dig a little deeper about a subject that is relatively touchy for me. I have found over the years that I feel quite strongly about what friendship is and ought to look like.

I’m that person that is very intentional about which words I use when referring to someone. “Oh, that’s my homeboy Jake.” (I do not have a homeboy named Jake. I’m just saying.) When I say homeboy, I am referring to someone who I get along with, we can have the occasional deep conversation, but we’re not exactly friends.

There are levels to this.

If I had to draw a diagram of some sort, it would look a little something like this:

Diagram From the outer circle to the inner circle, each one represents a function of relationship.

Acquaintance: someone I just met

Associate: someone I know within a particular context (classmate, coworker, etc)

Homie/Homeboy: someone with whom I’ve had more regular contact, deeper conversations, and get along with very well

Friend: someone I trust; and while we’re close, mutually, we’re not in each other’s innermost circle; accountability and support

Best friends: God has mutually equipped us to walk together through life; higher accountability, greater intimacy, have been ‘vetted’ etc.

The levels don’t indicate who’s better. The levels indicate the different functions and purposes of those relationships. What these levels comprise is a support system. For clarification, this does not mean I don’t have intimate moments with acquaintances and associates. I believe transparent moments like that are necessary and important to personal growth.

If you didn’t notice, there wasn’t a circle for me. Friends aren’t there for their worlds to revolve around me. This is something I’ve struggled with from time to time. I’ve learned that it’s not simply about who they can be to you or how they can help you.

Yes. It’s important to know who your friends are and how they function. However, an important question to ask ourselves is, “What kind of friend am I to them? How have I been a support to them?”

For me, it’s often easier to assume I’m not in the wrong. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I ‘classify’ my friends for lack of a better word. I have not spent nearly as much thinking about how I can be better as a friend. “A man of many companions may come to ruin; but there’s a friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24)

It’s so easy to read that and begin to think of all the people who don’t fit that description. Today I’m asking myself, “am I a friend who sticks closer than a brother?” Honestly, I do think I’m a good friend; at least I have the potential to be. However, potential means nothing without progress.

Here are some ways I have identified I could be a better friend:

  1. Call when I have nothing to talk about. For us ladies, this can be so difficult. We typically call or text each other to talk about a specific topic. We may call to update each other about our life events.
  2. Give them the benefit of the doubt when they don’t do what you’d like for them to do. This is a really big one for me. I’ve improved, but often my mind begins to wander and I find myself thinking thoughts that are not life-giving.
  3. Keep shorter accounts.  Don’t just wait for them to contact you or a special occasion. Contact them more frequently.
  4. Ask the questions you’re uncomfortable asking. Some questions include, “How can I be a better friend?” “When and how have I acted out of character as of late?”
  5. Be honest when things hurt me. Sometimes we think that just because we’re in a friendship that God put together that hurt or the appearance of betrayal isn’t possible. It very well is. How we deal with the hurt afterwards is what matters. One of the best ways to deal with hurt in that particular area is to be honest and confront those feelings within yourself.

I’m sure there are other ways in which I could improve as a friend. However, we’d be here for a very long time. You may have some reasons you think you could improve as a friend. Share those ideas with a trusted friend and encourage them to hold you accountable.

Remember, friendship is so important. Who you decide to be intimate friends with will dictate your life. So choose wisely. In all of your choosing, don’t forget to be a great choice as well.

The Danger of Comparison Pt. 2

The Danger of Comparison Pt. 2

In part 1, we dove into the reason humans feel the need to compare themselves to others. Read part 1 here. It’ll help this post make more sense.

One thing we learned in part 1 is that comparison is not bad in and of itself. Humans were originally meant to be compared to, or better yet, likened to God Himself. We were created of the same nature and comparably took after attributes of God Himself.

So, from the beginning, we were reflecting Someone. When sin entered, it distorted everything. We began to use other standards to measure ourselves against instead of God Himself. We exchanged the truth for a lie.

Every time we examine who we are in comparison to someone else, we are exchanging truth for a lie. Pastor Marcus Howard, in his training ‘Detox,’ said, “Be careful of comparing yourself to others because the bar is too low. If you’re going to compare yourself to anyone else, compare yourself to Christ.” 

Think of someone you would consider to be a good person. They may do nice things all the time and they don’t do the things you think are wrong. Even this person, is not worthy to be used as the standard by which we all should live. They may be a good example, but they are not the Truth Itself. 

Christ is the ONLY Truth. Everything outside of Him is a lie. It is a distortion of what is true.

This does not mean you treat those who don’t strongly believe in Christ as less than. Absolutely not! This does not mean you enforce your beliefs on them. Share them with boldness, truth, and most importantly love. Without love, there is no truth. Without truth, there is no love.

This is where the issue lies. Comparison is an assault on love. Comparison is an assault on truth. The conclusions we usually draw from our comparisons are not true and are rooted in ideas that are contrary to God (Love).

For example, if I compare myself to someone and come out thinking, “I’m better than them,” I’m wrong. This would be rooted in pride and indicative of a lack of identity. I don’t need to be better than anyone when I know I’m loved by God.

If I compare myself to others and believe, “I’m less than them,” this is also false! This is rooted in insecurity, self-doubt, and indicates a lack of identity. I can’t believe I’m less than anyone because the love of God embraces and empowers me.

When Love (God) is revealed and realized in someone, there is no need to search for the approval of others. God doesn’t just set you free so you can live a morally good life. God sets you free from you and the opinions of others. To realize I am loved by God allows me to be certain of who I am in the midst of any crowd or environment.

When I lose sight of God’s love for me, I begin to try to work for His approval and the approval of others. I try to prove that I’m ‘worth it,’ that I belong, and that I’m enough. I try to justify my wrongs because I’ve removed myself from the covering of the grace of God. God’s grace covers what we were and will never be able to cover. When I remove (or try to) myself from this covering, I use my own system and measurements to prove I’m good enough. I do this because I no longer trust God to do it for me.

The thing is, we can never gain God’s approval on our own. God took care of that through Christ. We can’t do it on our own. Our system of what is right, wrong, enough, or insufficient pales in comparison to God’s. The ideas or acts that don’t seem that bad to us are a distortion of what God originally intended and God doesn’t approve of them. Essentially, our systems are faulty.

Comparison takes you out of the security of who God knows you to be and causes you to act according to who you have deceived yourself into thinking you are.

Comparison is an enemy to love. God is Love (1 John 4:7-21). In the Bible, we find several stories of how God responded to His enemies and the enemies of His people. God does not leave them standing.

So, today, I’m choosing to allow God to kill comparison, doubt, and insecurity in me. I can be sure of me because He loves me. I don’t have to doubt the love of God because God doesn’t change. God doesn’t lie. God didn’t make a mistake when He made me. Therefore, I don’t have to find assurance in anything or anyone else. 

I didn’t write this because this is an area I’ve mastered. I wrote this because it’s been a problem area for me as of late. So, I hope it encouraged you!

I pray you find the strengthen and courage to stand against comparison and accept the Love of God for yourself!

 

The Danger of Comparison

The Danger of Comparison

You don’t even think about it. You walk into a room; it happens. You scroll on Instagram; it happens. You go to the mall; it happens. You enjoy a family holiday; it happens. You breathe; it happens. As much as you may tell yourself, it’s not just you. We all do it; whether or not we’d like to admit it. What is this thing we all do? Drumroll, please!

Compare.

We compare ourselves to anyone and everyone. Comparison is almost as first-nature as breathing. We don’t even have to think about it.

It’s not anything new. It is natural for humans to desire approval from other humans. Therefore, we examine what is ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’ and we model ourselves after this.

It’s interesting though. In a culture in which this idea of ‘living your own truth’ is so prevalent, comparison is still so high. We encourage people to be unique and individualistic no matter the consequences. Still, people find themselves comparing themselves to others.

What makes us do this?

Well, there is an inner moral system within every human which governs their ideas about the world and the decisions they make. Some call it our ‘conscience.’ C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, supposes there is a sort of universal law. This universal law is a preset standard against which all humans examine human behavior.

We have evidence of this in our natural inclination toward saying things like, ‘He shouldn’t have done that,’ or ‘that’s not fair.’ There is this natural belief that there is a specific way to behave even if there is no law or rule to indicate this. These thoughts often come from a natural preference.

While our culture or religious beliefs may largely influence these ideas, there is evidence that this natural inclination toward an invisible universal law exists beyond these contexts. In other words, your religious beliefs or culture upbringing are not the exclusive influences on what you deem right or wrong. Moving on.

The existence of a universal law in and of itself does not explain why we compare ourselves to others. Let’s look deeper. Let’s go back to the beginning.

The first book of the Bible, Genesis, provides an account of the creation story in which God created what we see and what we don’t see (Genesis 1:1). You can follow the beautiful story from Chapter 1 to Chapter 2 which goes into greater detail.

Chapter 3 records the story popularly titled as ‘The Fall.’ It’s the story of how man went from having this perfect intimate relationship with God to running away in shame due to their sin. Prior to the fall, we discover this beautiful relationship between God and humans. God gave humans dominion (authority and ownership) over the earth. God blessed them and all was well.

Unfortunately, the fall distorted everything. Where wholeness and perfection once rested, brokenness entered. We began to seek our own which is always less than what God has and had given.

Before, our image and identity was found in God. After, our identity was being shifted and conformed to other broken images. We gave up the image of God and elevated created things rather than the Creator.

We think that when we compare ourselves to others, we’re just trying to dress like them, talk like them, or have friends like they have. There’s so much more to comparison than that.

Comparison is a thief of joy.

Comparison is a thief of identity.

Comparison kills.

Comparison works against the intimate process we find ourselves in.

The Bible says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29).

This reveals that God is trying to shape us to look like His Son, Yeshua (Jesus) the Christ. We are to look so much like Him because we are of the same lineage; “firstborn among many brothers and sister.”

You don’t usually know what comparison is robbing you of in the moment; but rest assured, the loss is great.

It will never truly benefit you to measure or compare yourself to others. They’re broken also. God is still conforming and shaping them to look like His Son. Why compare yourself to an unfinished product who’s comparing themselves to another unfinished product?

Make sure your foundation is built on and rooted in Christ. Anything else will fail. Christianity will fail. Religion will fail. Looks will fail. Riches will fail. Relationships fail.

Only the WORD of God will last forever.

 

 

*I do not own (or the rights to) the featured image.*

Friends: How Many Of Us Have Them?

Friends: How Many Of Us Have Them?

In a world where being friends with someone is as easy as a click, the definition of friendship is shifting.

Social media has ‘virtualized’ relationships. We no longer have to be as present or focused in friendships as we had been. Nevertheless, this is not a social media bash post.

Social media isn’t the only thing influencing how we define friendship. Oftentimes, the first place we look for some sort of guidance in our friendships is our parents or guardians. The way your parents engaged in friendships heavily influences how you engage in friendships.

Whether they offered blatant advice or not, you picked up behaviors, cues, and ideas about how you would participate in your friendships.

Personally, I believe we use the word ‘friend’ a little too loosely. Everyone is not your friend. Everyone ought not have the kind of access you give a friend.

A friend knows the good, bad, and ugly and sticks around out of choice, not obligation. A friend makes a commitment of sorts to ‘do life’ with you. A friend corrects you.

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

Friendship is so important. The friends you choose will affect your life in a tangible way. Friends will either encourage you towards purpose or propel you towards ruin.

You’ve heard the phrase. ‘Blood is thicker than water.’ This speaks of the loyalty within family. However, the Bible challenges this notion. This is why it’s so important to be mindful of how you choose your friends.

A friend is the family you choose.

Now, this isn’t only about knowing who’s best for you but knowing whether you’re good for someone else. Sometimes, we’re not the person that someone needs to support and sharpen them. We must have discernment to know when it’s time to leave a friendship or whether to start one in the first place.

Friendships ought to make you better, hold you accountable, be enjoyable, and push you towards purpose. Not everyone is built to do that in your life. You’re not built to do that for everyone. You can ‘act’ as a friend in a moment to a stranger or acquaintance; but true friendship requires commitment and sacrifice.