Tag: joy

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

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.

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.*

When Pain Is Your Mistress

When Pain Is Your Mistress

I don’t always know how to be happy and I’d hazard a guess that I’m not the only one.

Happiness is one of the most elusive concepts humans pursue. Most of the time, we’re mistaken about what will actually make us happy. We get it and are abysmally disappointed. More money, a relationship, new job, influence, power, etc., are just a few things we often believe will bring us happiness. (Mo’ money, mo’ problems).

Interestingly enough, we don’t have to desire things that are inherently bad in order to be disappointed once we get them. The reality is, nothing on this earth could ever or will ever satisfy the longing for fulfillment. Only God can. Some things seem to get really close, but fall short every single time. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t desire things, relationships, money, or influence. Instead, we must remember that in all things, we must ask, ‘why do I want what I want?’

Many of us have no trouble desiring things. For some of us, however, desiring anything good is an arduous task. Life experiences and disappointments have taught us not to expect anything good or for it to last very long. Our inner system of belief begins to tell us, ‘don’t get too attached,’ or ‘don’t get your hopes up.’ These thoughts come when your belief system is being run by doubt and fear.

Pastor Marcus Howard says, “Fear is not an emotion. It is the absence of emotion; because you don’t know what to expect, you fear. Fear is a toxin eating up the core of your belief.” I’ve heard him expound further saying, “fear comes because of a lack of expectation.”  

Our life experiences teach us what to expect or what not to expect. Painful experiences teach us it’s not worth hoping for something better. Sometimes, we become so familiar with our pain, that we forget how to be happy. We forget to receive the joy that’s been given to us through Christ.

Let’s talk about joy and happiness. If you ask a random person, they’ll tell you that joy and happiness are one in the same. I understand from where we get this idea. However, let’s look at Scripture for a second. Many of the verses that mention joy speak of it in spite of something.  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

We don’t experience joy because things are going well. We experiencing joy whether or not things are going well. Happiness is different. Happiness requires a particular condition. ‘I’m happy because _______.’ This means: if the reason for which I’m happy changes, so does my happiness with it. If I’m happy as long as I’m in a relationship, then the moment I’m single, I cease to be happy.

Joy is different. Joy is an assurance, a steadfastness, being immovable in the knowledge that everything is going to be alright. This kind of joy is only possible through knowledge of the One in whom there is assurance: Christ.

Oddly, joy is more natural than depression, anxiety, worry, doubt, or fear. It’s who God is. When you choose to have relationship with God through Christ, you choose everything that comes with Him. You marry (figuratively and spiritually) yourself to Him and the two of you become one.

Similarly, when you are friends with someone, the two of you begin to share the same vocabulary, ideals, and gestures. When you accept Christ, you begin to share in who He is.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).  What is Christ’s is ours. (What’s mine is yours. What’s your is mine. Marriage.)

Joy is a result of that relationship. Peace is a result of that relationship. Patience is a product of that relationship. Galatians 5:22 says, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” 

Christ teaches that we will go through difficult times (John 16:33). Don’t marry yourself to your pain. It’s not a healthy relationship. It doesn’t serve you the way a husband and wife serve each other in marriage. It only weighs you down. Nevertheless, realize you will experience pain, but remember what the outcome ought to be. It’s there to perfect your faith.

For further study: 2 Timothy 1:7, John 16:33, Romans 8

Happy reading!

Over and out.

 

*I do not own the rights to or the featured photo. I made small edits for the sake of the post.*