Tag: Relationships

Letting Go of Something Good

Letting Go of Something Good

This one’s for me.

“Letting go” isn’t usually easy — especially for me. It doesn’t matter what it is. I’m incredibly sentimental. My closet in my living room has been opened a total of 5 times since I’ve lived there (3 years)! I have yet to clear out its contents because I have some sort of sentimental attachment to those things (awards, memorabilia, etc.). Also, I’m pretty sure there are spiders in there and I’m not really built for that kind of battle.

It’s much easier for me to let go of things I know I don’t need and don’t care about — but what about when it’s something I really care about? What if I have to let go of something God has said is for me? What if I have to let of something that’s good for me? What if I have to let go of something I never expected to part with?

Well, that’s me right now. I won’t go into great detail; but I wanted to express some ideas that have been swarming through my mind.

  1. My trust cannot be in the good “thing’s” ability or likelihood of coming back. I must trust that if God needs me to have it, it will be God’s ability and responsibility to restore it.
  2. I have to consider that what’s good isn’t necessarily what’s best.
  3. When I give up something good, I have to realize that I’ll always win. If I give it up and cling to God, I’ve automatically won. Although, if I’m honest, I don’t always know what that looks like nor am I amped to cling to God in moments like these. Sometimes, I just want to stomp my feet, pout, and demand that God does things my way. This sort of reaction indicates a certain idolatry in my heart toward the thing(s) I let go of.
  4. Although it may be good for me, it may not be good for me right now.
  5. How secure am I in who God has said I am? Do I need this thing in order to feel secure, confident, worthy, etc? Nah.
  6. God will often draw you to Himself in moments of loss (of any proportion). This is almost always the highest purpose or result when loss occurs.
  7. There are no shortcuts for dealing with the pain. There are many seemingly worthy substitutes that make it easier to cope with the pain. They help soften the blow of the loss. However, if maturity is what you seek, you’ll know that eventually you will have to part with the temporary for the ultimate. You’ll have to embrace and face the pain head on.
  8. God is not cruel nor is He interested in making you suffer without purpose. In most cases, our suffering is not due to God bringing some judgment. It’s often due to our poor decisions, decisions of others around us, or attacks from the enemy (Satan).

While God does not cause much of our pain, He will use it for our good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

All things — suffering, work together for my good.

All things — loss, work together for my good.

All things — obscurity, work together for my good.

All things — rejection, work together for my good.

All things — (fill in the blank), work together for my good.

It is important when you are walking (sometimes crawling) through a season of loss to watch where you put your focus. Social media is a trap I’ve found myself falling into many of times.

Scrolling through highlight reels of the lives of those around me serves as a constant reminder of what I’ve lost or doubt I’ll ever have. Eyes up. Meditating on what was and being worried about what will be — eyes up. Getting stuck in grief, bitterness, self-hatred, frustration with God — eyes up.

God will always be the remedy for what we’ve lost.

He can be trusted. Let this verse permeate your heart in this time:

“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

 

My Boyfriend and the Beatitudes

My Boyfriend and the Beatitudes

This is for the ladies. What do you want in a man? What is something you refuse to compromise on? What are your must-haves and must-not-haves? Many women have been encouraged to write a list that spells out all that they’d want in a husband. I have heard stories of women who have done this and the man they married was “everything they wanted and more.” I believe this really does happen.

It’s important to note that “the list” is as individual as the person writing it. It’s specific to you, your purpose, and the man the Most High will present to you. I’ve written lists before and have found that my list changes as I get older. Some things have remained the same (8 years ago), but for the most part, it’s changed a lot. This is due in part to my coming into an understanding of who I am and what I need.

Many times, we make these lists identifying our wants, but not our needs. Don’t get me wrong, it is okay to ‘want’ something — but every desire must be qualified. Why do I want what I want? What will I do with it once I get it? Who will it help or serve?

There’s nothing wrong with identifying what you want, but don’t compromise what you need for what you want. Typically, the things we want are temporary things anyway. The things we need are things that our purpose and the very core of who we are cannot live without. ‘Needs’ won’t change — for the most part. ‘Wants’ will. So I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be of my greatest benefit to evaluate and desire a man based on something that does not change. The WORD of God.

Now, when I say WORD of God, I’m talking about Yeshua, the Messiah (many have referred to Him as Jesus–that’s a blog for another day). Although many refer to the Bible as the Word of God, it is not the WORD of God.

John 1:1, 14 says, “In the beginning was the WORD, the WORD was with God and the WORD was God. He was with God in the beginning. The WORD became flesh and dwelt among us…” See, the Bible contains words from God, but it is not the WORD of God. Moving on.

The WORD of God doesn’t change and I can be secure in who He is and who I am IN Him. Acts 17:28 says, “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” If we are the offspring of God, we are produced after Him — meaning, we look (and are) like Him.

So, if I have a relationship with the One who does not change (James 1:17), whom I’m created to be like (Genesis 1:26-28), it would be important to note what He celebrates and deems good — hence the purpose for this blog.

In Matthew 5, we read of one of the most powerful teachings ever taught to mankind. I’ve been hearing this since I was about 5 years old and am only now coming into deeper understanding of it. Verses 3-12 have been infamously referred to as the Beatitudes. It’s that passage in the Bible that each verse starts with, “Blessed are…”

Many of sermons have been taught on the Beatitudes. My church recently went through a study and it was mind-blowing. Before we had even studied it, I had decided to write this blog. I’m going to take a look at the first three verses and how they influence what I should look for in a relationship. (These are in no particular order — although they are numbered).

  1. Submission to God

v. 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Yeshua was speaking of one who is crouched low before God (humility). One who is poor in spirit does not place confidence or value in their own human authority; they recognize God’s authority as highest and truest.

So, this verse encourages me to bless (praise) what Christ has blessed (praised) — which is a man that recognizes God’s authority and governs his life according to it. A man who isn’t submitted to God is a man unprepared to lead you or himself in God’s will.

A direct result of being one who recognizes and acknowledges God’s authority is the quality of being teachable. Being teachable allows you to be ready to learn because you aren’t under the impression you know everything. If you’re under the impression you know everything, you can’t learn.

2. After God’s Own Heart

v. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.”

Like verse 3, this verse does not mean what it would appear to mean. Yeshua would always talk in parables and His lessons would always have a deeper meaning. The revelation I received when studying this was that the one who mourns what God mourns, will be comforted (brought near).

The one whose heart breaks for what the Father’s break shall be brought near to the Father. This means, an intimate relationship with the Father results in caring about what God cares about — which in turn results in greater intimacy with the Father. A man who cultivates an intimate relationship with the Father is a student of Love (for God is Love) and will constantly be growing in the fullness of who God created him to be.

3. Humility

“Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.”

Yeshua is speaking of humility again. This ought to be no surprise to us given how much God hates pride. (1 John 2:16; Isaiah 2:10; Proverbs 11:2). But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble (James 4:6).” 

The Bible is very clear that God favors the humble and hates pride. God hates pride because it is often at the root of any sin. Pride exalts itself higher than it ought. Pride says, “I know better than God.” Pride doesn’t allow us to accept God because we will believe there’s no need to.

A man that walks humbly before God and man will walk in the favor of God. To have the favor of God means to have God’s face turned toward you in approval. “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein (Psalm 24:1).”

If God approves of you, He gives you what is His. He gives you influence and authority. It may not look the way we think it would, but it’s the kind of influence and authority that can only come from God. This kind of approval (justification) comes with intimate relationship (sonship) with God. “For they will inherit the earth…” You inherit because you’re an heir, a child of God. I want to be with a man that recognizes he’s a child of the Most High and is in pursuit of what that looks like.

So, as we can see, the Bible can inform us of what God values and help us make sound decision in our relationships. Since marriage is God’s, it makes sense to seek Him about His desire for it. Some questions I’ve asked God are, “what kind of person should I marry?” “What kind of person do you want me to be in marriage?” These questions are informing me of God’s desire for me in relationships.

I hope this blog encourages you to seek God about your relationships and to trust that He knows best!

 

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.

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!

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.

 

Curse Words

Curse Words

Listen. I’m one of those people that if they cursed, it just wouldn’t sound right. You’d much rather me find alternative words. You’d just look at me in disgust. Some of us are professionals though! It could go on a resume as a technical skill. You know the ins and outs about what words to pair together and which are “appropriate” for what situation. You’ve got skills.

A lot of us didn’t know curse wasn’t spelled “cuss.” It’s okay bro. You learn something new every day.

This will not be a lesson in the art of cursing given that I am highly unqualified. We’re going to talk about curse words, but not the ones you may be thinking of. I’m referring to them as curse words because of the way we typically respond to them and the effect they have on us.

One of my favorite/most hated curse words is ‘vulnerability.’ Vulnerability is the capacity or act of being vulnerable; subject or susceptible to attack or defenseless.  Ugh. I used to cringe when I would hear this word. I would respond that way because past experiences taught me to guard myself.

The last thing I want to do is open myself up for you to hurt me. When you are vulnerable, you are without shield (physical or intangible). Many see vulnerability as a trait that only comes if someone is weak. Au contraire.

Vulnerability requires strength. Vulnerability builds intimacy. Intimacy is the result of allowing someone to ‘see into you.’ Intimacy —-> ‘into me you see.’ No one can see into you if you’re fortified and guarded with no access points. Vulnerability is the vehicle by which we offer access into who we are. This promotes healing, freedom, and peace.

Integrity is another ‘curse word’ some of us are familiar with. We often equate integrity with honesty. Honesty is a part of integrity, but it’s not the same thing. A lot of us would probably claim that we’re honest people. If someone were to ask us a generally personal question, we might be willing to give them an ‘honest’ response.

We may even feel as if we’ve done our good deed for the day. However, honesty is the lowest form of integrity. It’s not that difficult to answer an uncomfortable question IF it’s actually asked of you. Most of the time, people don’t ask the right questions that would reveal the truth about what we think, have done, or have said. 

To choose to reveal information without being asked is not honesty, but transparency. (I’m just cursing up a storm today!) We don’t like being encouraged to be transparent because it requires vulnerability. We resist transparency because we feel as if answering the questions asked was enough. Integrity is revealing the information even if I’m not asked for it. 

If I don’t acknowledge something, I don’t and can’t grow from it.

Let’s see what God says about it. This is Yeshua talking. Matthew 5:23-24 says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” 

Let’s break it down.

If you are communing with God in any way and you are reminded that there is someone who feels as if you’ve wronged them; go be reconciled to them. Go resolve the issue so that “a harmonious relationship” is possible again.

Pastor Marcus Howard talks about the necessity of reconciliation. He defines (to the best of my remembrance) reconciliation as “the process by which harmonious relationship is restored.” Many of us think forgiveness is enough. However, if we forgive but have refuse to reconcile, it’s a sign we haven’t truly forgiven.

This process of reconciliation doesn’t allow you to wait until the offended person comes to you. It requires you to be vulnerable and engage with them. Many of us would do this, but our biggest hindrance to reconciliation is pride.

Pride tells us, “if they’ve got a problem, they should say something,” or “I’m not about to go out of my way to make them feel better.” Pride will arrest your heart and keep you prisoner in the prison of offence. It then becomes difficult to forgive because now you’re requiring forgiveness from another.

Essentially, I’m telling you that these are the kind of curse words we need in our lives. They don’t feel good. They don’t sound good. They offend our pride. They require a radical response oftentimes; but they nourish our relationships.

So be vulnerable. Be transparent. Be integral. Be reconciled.

 

Happy reading!

Over and out.

 

*I do not own the rights to or the featured photo.”