Tag Archives: relationships

I’m Not the One You’re Looking For

I can’t be the leader you’re seeking. I’m a grown man, coming up on 20 years of following Jesus. Yet still, I struggle with lust, fear, greed, and doubt. To name a few. Still every time my face is in the dirt I see Jesus right there with a towel. “Come on you’re more than this. Watch this dirt wash away, but you have to get up. Keep walking. My promises are true. My plans surpass your understanding, stop trying to figure it out. Stop trying to be something in a world that fades. Be who I’ve called you to be in my kingdom. Let her go, let the things go, let it all go. Hold fast to me. I control the unseen forces of nature. Who can stop the wind? Who can bring low the tide? Who can keep the earth from shaking? What is keeping you from who I’ve called you to be? My greatest forces are unseen, you bet I can you from obscurity. You have yet to imagine the deeds I have planned for you to do. But you have to walk in them. Its never to late, my call never goes out of date. You’re not called to tasks to be done but to be the person you were created to be. Dream it up and go after it. What would you do with endless resources? How will you impact the kingdom with the identity I have given you? My promises don’t expire, they are only fulfilled. Stop rejecting them to hold on to what you think is good. The time is and will only ever be now. This truth I tell you, you neither be a giver or a receiver with your hands in your pockets. Open your arms to the need and I’ll open the heavens to yours.”

Ephesians 2:8-10, Proverbs 16:1-9, John 13:1-17

How often do we have this conversation? “What me God???” And his response is a simple “yeah I believe in you”. Come on now fellow believer you have what it takes. You’re strong and powerful. You’ve yet to realize what’s in you. Heaven come to pour out the power of your presence on us. We can’t without you. Our dreams are a lost cause without the presence of God. Then WHY do we neglect it? For Netflix? I little “freedom” to do what flesh wants? Frankly, I can’t take it anymore. There’s so much more that has yet to be tapped. Can we put aside the temporary for the eternal? Come on mighty warriors the harvest is out there, let’s go fight for it. (in the least striving way possible)

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Mirrors

Today is hard. I sit in the middle of the shop by myself writing this. Frankly, I have many days like today. As I’m sure many others do too. From the outside, and to many degrees from the inside, life is going well. But so often we can let what’s going on today get you down hard. That desire you’ve been asking God for, but He’s teaching you to wait. The expectation you had for the day up in smoke. Maybe your normal has been shaken up. Or today you just feel alone like me in the shop. Whatever it may be, today is hard. It’s days like these when temptation is strongest. “You know coming to me will make you feel better…” your shame will tell you. Most would that shame comes from sin, but it’s only shame that would suggest it. It’s what you look into that will give you an answer. Like a mirror. You go look at it to reflect back what you can’t see. On hard days you look into the mirror to see what’s going on. The mirror of shame looks back at you saying “You’ll always look this way and you’ll never change. You may as well go to whatever you’ve done in the past, it’ll feel good this time.” But the mirror of Grace says “Look at me, reflect what you see in me not what you see in yourself.” Grace knows today is hard but there’s hope for tomorrow, even for the next hour. Shame knows today is hard but wants you to think yesterday was easier. The only difference between yesterday and today is perspective. Yesterday you didn’t know today would be this way. Maybe you thought yesterday was hard. But Grace got you through it, or maybe you failed entirely. Shame will highlight that is was easier to sin yesterday, it’ll feel good today. But Grace knows sinning today will only make tomorrow harder. Resist the enemy and he will flee(Matt. 5:39). If you keep looking into the mirror of shame you’re only making room for the enemy to linger. Put it down, drop it, destroy it, leave no more room for shame in your life. Put a big ole fat mirror of Grace in your every moment.

“Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:19‬ ‭MSG‬‬

What is it that reflects upon your face, Grace or shame? Even in your hardest day, you have to go to Grace. If it was the darkest night of your life, Grace still only reflects who you are and not how dark your night was. Keep Him in the middle. “This is my day and this is my Grace.” That’s what we need to be saying. He alone allows me to even breath. Even in the midst of hard days, if I’m breathing Grace is with me. And He knows just how tough your day is. I warn you not to put on the pseudo joy of grinning your way through. That will only lead to bitterness, both for you and those that experience your mask. Find real Joy and place it before you. The only way through in to truly experience Grace.

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:15-21‬ ‭MSG‬‬

We go through exactly what Christ goes through? So if today is hard, Christ is right there too. The key is going through it with Him. Not just going through and seeing Him on the other side. The promise is not a good or easy time, but Christ with you through it all. What use would a good time be without Christ? Better to have one bad day with Christ, than a thousand good ones without Him. God is reigning you in until you are completely ready for the release of the glorious times. Let it be joyful anticipation that builds in you and not resentment.

“….Do you remember that time Elijah was agonizing over this same Israel and cried out in prayer? God, they murdered your prophets, They trashed your altars; I’m the only one left and now they’re after me! And do you remember God’s answer? I still have seven thousand who haven’t quit, Seven thousand who are loyal to the finish. It’s the same today. There’s a fiercely loyal minority still—not many, perhaps, but probably more than you think. They’re holding on, not because of what they think they’re going to get out of it, but because they’re convinced of God’s grace and purpose in choosing them. If they were only thinking of their own immediate self-interest, they would have left long ago.And then what happened? Well, when Israel tried to be right with God on her own, pursuing her own self-interest, she didn’t succeed. The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them, and as a result received his stamp of legitimacy. The “self-interest Israel” became thick-skinned toward God. Moses and Isaiah both commented on this: Fed up with their quarrelsome, self-centered ways, God blurred their eyes and dulled their ears, Shut them in on themselves in a hall of mirrors, and they’re there to this day. David was upset about the same thing: I hope they get sick eating self-serving meals, break a leg walking their self-serving ways. I hope they go blind staring in their mirrors, get ulcers from playing at god.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭11:2-10‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Your loyalty to God cannot be based on what He can get you out of, but the purpose He has put in you. Your awareness of His purpose in you will be the key to getting through today. If your loyalty is based on what He can get you out of, you will become loyal to getting out. Who or what you’re comfortable with, you’re loyal to. Therefore what you go to for comfort will determine your loyalty. Is escaping reality what you’re loyal to? Whether that’s a substance, porn or unhealthy relationships. We can’t say “God get me out of this day.” We have to go through it good or bad. The challenge is to dive into reality and take it head-on. That doesn’t mean we can’t ask for help through it. This is where healthy relationships come in. How often we think we’re alone? If only we would look around. Beyond our problem to its purpose. What is it teaching? Many times I lay my problem down to engage with someone, only to find that encounter held the answer I was looking for.  Another perspective on my situation. A good friend will tell you who you are and that you’ve got what it takes. Maybe not in so many words, but God will use them to bring context and truth. If we will be open and not self-consumed. When we search for the solution to our problem out of our own self-interest we get into a hall of mirrors. Looking back at each other only reflecting the problem back on us. Where all you see is the problem and not who you’ve been called to be. The mirror of Grace says “Look into me and become like me.”

“Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? If fussing can’t even do that, why fuss at all? Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:25-28‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Are you convinced of God’s grace and purpose in choosing you? Do you see the attention He is giving you today? Pruning and cutting back the lies that you’re believing. Yes, today is hard, but not without reason. Maybe today God is teaching you through your pain. Let there be more purpose than just a hard day. He is loyal to those He calls His own. He is tender to your pain but fierce toward the lies you believe. Look into Grace and remember who you are (James 1:23). Lean on Grace today, because tomorrow is coming.

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Love you…Like the Church

Okay ladies, take a load off. You’re worth it. Here is why I write today. I’ve heard girls say they desire to be loved as Christ loves the church. They want to be a woman worthy of that kind of love. Do you realize what you’re asking of me as a man? And what your are requiring of yourself? Christ died for His love. That’s a tough one to chew on. From both the male and female perspective. It is a far to easy for the enemy to twist this.

For the women. You put this mantle on yourself that you have to be worthy of someone giving up their life for you. Now your worth is determined by what someone is willing to give, rather than what has already been given. Your worth is not determined by the value of a man’s sacrifice. You have to understand this. Christ came when we were still sinners. He chose the unworthy to be His only love. We are made worthy because of His love, not loved because we are worthy. So what happens when your man decides to be selfish? If your worth is tied up in his sacrifice, your going to have a bad day. You’ll be in constant need of sacrifice. Needy people aren’t fun to love. This is why Jesus was sent in the first place. God knew the daily sacrifices of Israel would never satisfy Him. And also why Israel turned away so much, they grew weary of sacrifice. But God, in the greatness of His love did not ask a sacrifice of us. Instead He gave Himself out of His love. Now we give ourselves freely to Him out of love through faith.

For the men. “Is she worth me giving my life up for?” Now we’ve put a standard on women that they feel they have to live up to. No wonder women have a tendency to have self worthy issues. We are on the lookout for the perfect Spirit filled Christian women, that is worthy our life. Is your life worth her perfection? Does your life satisfy the perfection of Christ? Lets say you find the perfect girl, and you give your life to her. What happens when you see her flaws? Now you’ve given your life to imperfection. What does that say about you? This girl you thought was worthy of your life is flawed, what worth does your life have now? Here the question we should ask. “Am I willing to give my life for this girl, flaws and all?” Our sacrifice should be out of love for the girl, not for what she brings to us. To give our life freely with no obligation. That is the goal.

Women, find your value in who you are not what a man gives you. Until you can receive without owing you’re not receiving, but in debt.
Men, find your value in who you are not what you can offer women. Until you can give something without obligation you’re not giving, but lending.

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Dating Strangers

When I was 22 I got this idea, I wanted to go on a date with a complete stranger. I set out on a mission, find a girl I don’t know that’s not crazy and ask her out. It’s harder than its sounds. All the sain ones usually don’t date strangers. So the key was to ask without being creepy. It’s difficult when you’re up against stranger danger engrained in people by their parents. I found someone though. She was on Instagram, I followed her for a while (creepy right?) and she seemed to be a cool person. I saw that she was going steady with God and she lived close by. So I gathered the courage to ask, I sent her the message (while trying to sound the least creepy). I explained what I was trying to do and left it in her hands. It turned out she had a boyfriend…..whatever (at least post a picture of him). Well, that was that. My little dream of dating a stranger was gone. Oh how little I knew of God’s faithfulness. Not two months after that I was caught by surprise. I met another strange girl (that didn’t come out right). We met after church and hit it off immediately. I asked her to coffee the next night. We ended up not even getting coffee, we got pizza and popsicles instead (pizza is a bad choice for a first date by the way). I didn’t realize till the end of the night, but I was on a date with a stranger. It’s turns out it’s much easier than it sounds.

As christians we put a massive weight on dating. We don’t want to date anyone unless we are going to marry them. If that is true, I hope you’re ready. You’ve got one shot to make this right. It’s not impossible. You will have to make sure that your heart is ready and have really good timing. I know of a few people who have been able to do so, but I can’t say they weren’t interested in other people up until they met that person. When they did meet, they were ready to make a move. But not everyone is like that, in fact most of us aren’t. We want to date only one person ever, but how do we know unless we know you know? We don’t have to listen to the christian faux pas that dating more than one person in your lifetime is shameful. Because if you date them you have to marry them. I’m sure that’s in Leviticus somewhere. The truth is it’s okay to date people, learn from these relationships. Here’s another fun fact, you don’t have to only have dating relationships with the opposite sex. You need those key friends that are the opposite gender, learn from these relationships. Men and women think and understand differently…..mind blown! Do you really expect to enter into your first dating relationship, marry the person and not run into differences? Especially if you only hang out with the same sex as you, and then you enter that relationship. For all you know the signals you’re reading from that person are completely opposite of what you think they are. Some people really do just want to be friends with you, be open to that. Go ahead date some people, but don’t date everyone. Dating is risky business though, and there are safe ways to take those risk.

Four days/dates after our first date I asked her to take a risk with me and be my girlfriend. At first she said she wasn’t sure. I got a text later that night that she was in. I was elated, I found my wife! Four days in and I’m ready for forever. We ended up dating for 3 months, and they were good. Definitely one of the better things I’ve done in my life. We had a lot of fun together and had lots of really awesome conversations. We both learned (me more than her) how to take each other out boxes that were created by past relationships. Everyone thought we were going to get married. We would’ve and been very content to do so. I really liked her and she liked me. Much to our surprise God had a better plan. All of our friends were very surprised as well. Why then would this seemingly good thing, that everyone was for, need to end? From the very beginning I knew we weren’t supposed to be more than friends, but I wanted more. I dove right in and I pursued her to the best of my ability. I believed my plan was better than the plan God had for me. It was good why wouldn’t it be God’s plan? So I ignored what I felt God was saying and we kept dating. The night before we broke up we had a worship night at church. I went to the back to get alone with God and he reminded me again that I needed to let her go. I told God “I surrender everything. But her.” STOP….wait did I just say that? Immediately I knew that wasn’t right. So I commenced to figuring out how to surrender to God and keep the girl. “Well, if I submit her to God and allow Him to lead her through me, then I’ll be more self-sacrificing and serve her more…yeah that’ll work. Okay God I’ve surrendered her to you.”

Alrighty then! To start, God doesn’t need me to lead her, He needs me to be obedient. I can’t lead her if I’m not obedient. She doesn’t need me for her to be led by God. God chooses who He leads through and as a man you don’t have to date a girl to lead her. Lead in obedience, if you’re not going where God wants you to go you’re going the wrong direction. Whoever is following you is going to go the same direction you are. Also, God doesn’t need more self-sacrificing people, He needs obedient people. How serving would I be if I led her down a path where the end goal was to keep her? I was willing to give up the plan God has for me to keep the girl. Obeying God doesn’t equal sacrifice, it may require a sacrifice but the result is victory. “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22 NLT) Will you let go of what you’re holding onto, to let God give you what He is holding for you? Good things are not always God things, and just because everyone is for it doesn’t make God for it. She is an awesome person and was an awesome girlfriend to me. Even so, she couldn’t be who I needed her to be, and I couldn’t be who she needed me to be. My walk is different from hers. Our paths collided yes, but they were not meant to merge. This is why there is so much bad traffic. All the right signals are being sent, but your destinations are different. When you assume someone is going the same place you are and you try to make them go that way, traffic jams happen. You have relational rubber necking. Your on your journey and someone catches your attention on the service road. You want them to get on the highway with you, when they really need to get to the store on that exit. Have you ever been in the car and you see someone cute drive by? They get in your lane and you little heart cries “DESTINY!” Well, the only way you’re going to meet them is to rear end them. Unless, of course you’re going to the same place. That’s a different story, and somewhat to my point. Just because you have similar driving patterns doesn’t mean you have the same destination. Unless everyone is going to the same destination you’re unable to carpool. Also no matter how good your destination is, does not mean everybody is meant to go there with you. Let not your heart be troubled, someone out there really wants to go where you’re going. Will you be going there or simply be on the side of the road waiting on someone to be your spare tire? No one wants to be driven all over. Get some fresh tires and get on the road. People will only join the journey that’s going somewhere. If a relationship is your destination let it be with God, not a guy or a girl. Don’t let gas money be the first thing you ask for in a relationship.

Your relationships are meant to raise the bar not lower your standards, both for yourself and those you’re in relationship with. When we broke up one thing she said to me was, “You certainly raised the standard for the guys I date.” Mission accomplished! If that cannot be said in the break up, its begs the question of why you’re dating. Not all dating relationship you have will be your spouse. In that case, you are simply a part of that persons journey before they meet their spouse. Be a force that pushes that person forward. I would much rather my wife date ten guys that treated her with purity and helped her grow, than one guy that does the opposite. A friend once told me that we to often pursue relationship for our own sake and forget to offer anything in return. What if we pursued relationships for the sake of the other person? If we put the other person first from the beginning, how much pain could we avoid? Are you willing to play the role God has for you in that person’s life without benefiting from it?

You choose who gets to hurt you. Guard your heart, but you have to let people in at the same time. You have to be willing to show yourself knowing full well that this person can crush your heart. The key is finding someone who will guard your heart as well as you do. This means taking a risk, letting someone take your heart and hold it for a while. Will you do it intentionally? If you purposely let that person hold your heart you can more easily take it back. If you do it unintentionally that person will slowly get a tighter grip on you, and when you try to leave you’ll break it trying to pry it out of their hands. This is why it’s so dangerous to fall in love, who knows who’s going to steal your heart. If you feel as though you heart has been stolen and not won, then go get it back quick before they run off. Don’t fall in love, walk into love. Make the conscious decision. You don’t even have to be dating the person for them to have a grip on your heart. One thing I hate is the phrase “We’re talking.” What are yall talking about? Come on! Chances are you’re just buttering the other person up, either to get them to say yes when you ask them out or give them a reason to ask you out. Ladies if you have to convince him to ask you out, wait just a little longer for someone who can see you for who you are and still muster the courage to ask you out. Gentlemen if you’re not sure she’ll say yes, ask yourself “Is she worth the risk?” Quit talking about it and go on a date already. Don’t string the other person along, you’re stealing their heart and you don’t even know it. If someone has a grip on your heart and they have no idea who you are, let them go! Who has the tighter grip, God or someone else? When God has the grip on your heart you can trust Him. He has the most firm and gentle hands. He can hold you close and hold the enemy back. He’ll always pursue you and never pressure you. If you spend your time trying to convince them of who you are then your trying to win their heart by what you’re doing and not by what God’s doing. Have a little faith that God is doing a work in them that you can’t. And remember that God is working in your heart as well. It’s not always them that needs to make the change. The reason things aren’t going well and you’re not making headway, just might be that God is wanting to make some headway in your heart first.

Keep it a mystery ladies. The more I know about your body the less I want to know about your heart. You expect guys to want your heart but you offer your body first. If he can’t pursue the heart without the enticement of the body then he’s not really after your heart. You expect us to have clear vision and be leading you, yet you’re clouding the view. Trust me your body is fine, you don’t have to show me. The heart is the goal, it’s beauty surpasses the body. The body will fall apart but the heart grows in beauty daily. Men don’t want to commit to a body, they want to commit to a heart. This is why porn easily gains a hold in our lives, it negates the need to commit to a single person. We begin to not even see the heart when it walks by. Gentlemen, leave it a mystery. Be okay with not knowing what’s behind the curtain. What you take from her you’re stealing from her husband. Whether she’s a porn star or your neighbor, it being on the internet does not give you the rights to it. Even if you know your going to marry her, you’re not until you are. You have no rights to anything until you make a covenant. If you go with the intent to get behind the curtain, you’ll lose every time. Every time you walk away a piece of your heart is left behind the curtain. Don’t try to feel whats behind it either, until you can lift the veil don’t touch the curtain. The trouble comes when we commit to a body and later the heart is revealed. We’ve committed to something that will fall apart and so goes the relationship. I say this not to pigeon-hole the ladies into khaki skirts and turtle necks. But to let the beauty of your heart more exposed than your body. Guys, don’t let your heart be stolen by overexposed bodies. There’s hearts to be won, are you will to fight for them? Let’s talk about first. First are way better than agains. My first kiss gone, given to my first girlfriend. I don’t get it back. The more first you give away the less you get to share with your last. First are a precious commodity. They’re low supply and high in demand. The enemy is hungry to steal your first, he knows the more you give away the less you have to offer at the altar. Let me be clear, I’m not just talking about sex. Remember when you were an adolescent and thinking how awesome it would be to hold their hand? I’m talking about every first, first hand you hold, first kiss, first time to that one restaurant in that quaint part of town, and of course first time to have sex. The last one is the most precious of all, and the only one that falls under sin out of wedlock. Could you imagine being fully committed to someone, and someone has already stolen what you have the right to? We’re the ones stealing it! The more you give away, the more you take from your spouse. The only way can keep it all safe is not by locking it up, but by committing it to God. Trusting Him with everything, so when He says don’t give them that you listen.

We did break up after three months, but we kept the loss to a minimum. We were able to walk away from the potential rights of a covenant and into a continued friendship. We kept the heart the main goal, and when the trajectory of our hearts didn’t align we walked our separate ways. Still able to see each other and cheer for the other person as walk their path. This did not mean complete absence of heartbreak. Anytime you separate from someone on your journey they are going to take a piece of your heart with them. The key is what part of your heart do they walk away with and can they steward it well. Let people walk hand in hand with your heart, not walk all over your heart. Everyone is a stranger before you meet them. Will you introduce yourself?

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Love You…Like a Sister..

“Lord I pray for my future husband” I’m sure most single women have prayed that. The single lady’s prayer. To be honest us single men need it, cause prayer changes things and Lord knows we need to be more self-aware. Especially if we want to woman we’re praying for. The prayers normally will go towards character or loving kids. If we’re really serious about it, we’ll pray the we would the perfect person for them. Deflection at its finest. The honest prayer is that they’d be physically fit, be mature, and make enough money to go on adventures…but not too much money. Don’t want to be over zealous. Here’s some thoughts from a guy that might fit what you asking for, but hasn’t asked you out yet. Don’t worry he’ll ask, don’t be afraid to say yes. Also, he’ll ask. If he’s holding something in front of you that he’s not ready to offer you completely, walk away you’re worth more than that. The interest of a guy is not a reflection of your worth. Just because I see incredible value in you does not mean I want to date you. I’m not interested in giving half of my heart to someone. So I will not peak your interest beyond friendship unless I’m ready to go to the end of that street. If he can’t see your worth, is he worth your time? Cuteness does not stand on its own.

We’ve all heard the phrase, at least if you’ve been in the church world long enough, “You have to love her as a sister before you can love her as a girlfriend.” Well, I heard it a few times. It really didn’t make sense to me for a long time. First off, I don’t want to make out with my sister! Also I’m almost 101% sure my sisters don’t want to date me. So, I asked God what He thought about this thought process. I was walking in my backyard when He answered with these questions, “Conan, would you want your sisters to date a guy like you, and can you be a reflection of the type of guy you want them to date and eventually marry?” Talk about stopping in my tracks and really disliking those questions. But at the same time loving them. He wasn’t saying I disapprove your current position in your character, but I want you to advance your position into my character. Character development is not destroying who you are to be like Christ, but coming into the realization that you are Christ. His character is your character, development is letting your flesh that died when you came to Christ decompose. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) I had begun to come the realization that loving someone has nothing to do with sex. Bringing me back to the question of loving as a sister from a new angle. Can I love, pursue, and care for my sisters as I would do so for a girl that I wanted to date?

This came at a critical time for me and my youngest sister Juliette. I was a bad brother to her. Everything she did would get on my last nerve. This was because I only had a last nerve. I was mad at the world and took it out on her. I’m still not complete sure what was mad about, but that day in the backyard God stepped in to say don’t take it out on my daughter. I wasn’t a perfect brother right then, but God began to give me more nerves. I began to show fruit from the part of me that He was bringing to life. Bad fruit is a reflection of the dead parts of your old self that are breathing your air. Let God trim the decay, so your spirit can breathe life. I began to step outside of myself when I interacted with my sister. Seeing the situations from a new angle. No longer letting my frustration interact with her frustration. Seeing her for who she is in Christ and not as an annoying sister. Allowing me to call out Christ in her. Thus bringing clarity and not more frustration. When frustration is met with frustration the reaction in repelling. Which will destroy your relationships. When frustration is met with Christ, the reaction is conductive, or a transmission of impulses along nerves. You are able to transmit the impulse of Christ, where two different temperances meet to create the greatest possible reaction. Learning this lesson has brought a consistency in my temperance and helped with so many relationships, both with friends and girlfriends alike.

I lived with my middle sister Lacy for just over two years. We got along much better than Ju and I did. But getting along isn’t a reflection of the health of the relationship. My conviction on this came many years after the backyard. I found that I was sharing so much of myself with my friends, and almost nothing with the sister I was living with. This part of me was much simpler to bring to life. It was a placement of value that needed to be adjusted. Creating equal quality of time spent with her that I was giving to my friends. I say quality and not amount on purpose. A minute of refined time if worth hours of un-mined time. You can spend hours with a person still know nothing about them. These are the people you meet for the second time and you forget you met them, even though you spent the day together. The blame lies on the person who forgets, because you neglected to put any value on the time you spent with them. Value can only be put on time in the moment. With my sister it was allowing myself to be present in the moments we had together. Like the one night a week I was home or the few weekends I didn’t have plans. It’s saying you have value in my life, so I choose to make you a part of my social schedule. Not filling every moment that I was not alone with only my friends. Allowing her to see aspects of me that I was sharing with others. It is so easy to say, she’s my sister and she knows me, so I don’t need to share myself with her. But you only share what your willing to tell. I cannot make investments in my friends that I’m not willing make in my sister. Also allowing the moments for her to share herself. Not letting the community spaces of our apartment to be only filled with a community of one. This is a recipe for getting locked out, like the time she was locked out for 30 minutes because I was reading in my room. She got a doorbell after that. Separation creates space for isolation. Time spent together creates room for communication.

Through my oldest sister, Harmony, I learned the value of showing appreciation. She is a hella good cook and the most caring person I know. I remember having a conversation her when I was 17 or 18 about my struggles with porn. She didn’t skip a beat, she didn’t allow shame into the conversation and poured out the Love and Grace of the Father. Though I was a recipient of these things, it didn’t mean I received them well. Accepting a gift is not the same as receiving a gift, and saying thanks is not always showing appreciation. Being able to say what you appreciate is just as important as showing. What you offer in return is just as important as receiving it. When she has put time and effort into the care given, she has put a value on that time. How you receive will either enrich or devalue what is given. For me it was simply breaking the silence. Not only eating the food, but offering a compliment to the food. At the very least an honest opinion about it. Along with this, offering my talent to her as well. Being willing to hang her pictures and mow her lawn without expectations. Hopefully communicating to her that she is worth taking care of. I must apologize to her future husband, I’m pretty sure I set the bar pretty high. As well as for my other sisters, sorry guys.

As for my sister-in-law. I really didn’t like her at first, which made for quite the hilarious best man speech. There’s no such thing an irreconcilable difference. Yes we may approach things differently, but it boils down to whether or not the approach really matters to goal. Plus there may have been a sense of her stealing my bother I had to get over. The presence of difference is not a loss of love. You don’t have to win to come to a place of understanding. Her and my brother are one now, and if she was not around their would be a part of our family missing. In fact I only include the in-law part to help the you the reader understand. Loving her is loving my brother, and vice versa.

All of these lessons in turn have helped with my relationship with women overall. Being able to offer love without an expectation. As well as being able to make investments, offer strength, and be a brother without having to date them. Dating is not a requirement for loving. Saying you love a girl is not saying you want to marry her. Also the words “I love you” don’t need to be said for them to be communicated, neither is saying it communicating it.* Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 (ASV) The goal in loving the women in your life should not be to marry one of them, but to raise their bar of what it looks like for a man to love. Communicating the care a husband is supposed to give. Make it easy for the sisters in your life to recognize if a man if worth spending the rest of their life with. If you can love a woman without any expectation of sex, how much easier will that make your marriage. For then you will not be showing the signs of love for sex, but actually loving your wife. Plus you’re wife is more than just the person you sleep with, why would you only love her for that. If sex is all you’re looking for in showing love, then you will never be satisfied. Then you are loving sex, and sex is not meant to be loved. But to be an expression of love. And abstaining from it before marriage expresses love just as much, if not more, as it does having it within marriage. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body. ‭Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭25-30‬ (NLT) Christ gave up His life before He received His bride.

To my sisters, as you pray for your husbands. Ask that he loves his own body, especially those around him. That those around him are loved by him. If a man is despised by his friends, then he’s not worth your time. You will only like him as much as his friends do. Look for the man who will lay down his life for his friends, if he won’t do it for them he won’t for you. And you’re worth dying for.

To my brothers, give your life up already. Be bold and ask the girl you’re interested in out, you won’t get a yes until you ask.

*when you say “I love you” to a girl you crossing into emotionville. It’s a crazy town with lots a of one way streets and no u turns. Make sure both parties know how to navigate the map before you say anything. And know which roads are closed. How you say it is just as important as saying anything at all.

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Finding the Sparkle

I was recently faced with two starkly different situations. I was working with pictures for a set and one of them had two girls laughing. This thought crossed my mind, if they were the only two girls in the world which would you choose? I would’ve chosen to stay single. I know sounds pompous, but that is a loaded question based off a picture. I simply was not attracted to either one. The second situation was party where there were lots of single girls. That night I literally did choose to stay single. I was attracted to some of the girls there, but it was still only based off an outward appearance. I’ve pursued girls based off physical attractiveness and it lead no where. These two situations got me thinking.

How often do we settle because we think they are all there is? We put ourselves in a box of finding the person we’re attracted to and trying to make them fit the personality we want. Or finding someone with the personality we’re looking for, but we find them unattractive. What do we do? This conundrum makes me want to pull my hair out. Which side of the coin do we put the emphasis? Do we really have to go though life flipping this relational coin, until we decide heads or tails? (metaphor unintended) We can get so caught up in either one.

We are willing to set aside the physical if they just love Jesus with all their heart. If they’re passionate about what God is doing in there life, I can see past the warts. The trouble in this is that some days they aren’t going to be quite the Jesus you thought they were. Because you went after someone you’re unattracted to, bitterness has a greater chance to creep in. “Why am I in this realationship? I don’t like the way they treat me and I wasn’t even attracted to them to begin with.” This is not to say attraction can’t grow over time, but come on don’t settle. If your not attracted to them by the time you get married, there’s a good chance that attraction won’t grow. Don’t get caught in the lie that just because you find them unattractive that everyone else does too. You’re not the authority on who’s hot and who’s not. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Oh, here is where people will say “See past the outside to who they are”, and I agree, but it doesn’t mean you have to marry them.

The far more dangerous settlement is to set aside character for beauty. We think we can lead them into who there meant to be. I just thew up a little, because I’ve been that guy. Talk about immense amounts of pressure. Can you imagine having the responsibility of developing someone else’s character besides your own. Without the infrastructure of integrity in a relationship the greater the chance of compromise. Physical based relationships lead to physical results. Are you willing to risk what God has for you because of self fulfilled desire? God knows the desires of your heart. Don’t think for a second that He’s has someone for you to settle for. Second best is not in God nature, He created Eve just for Adam.

Take some pressure off yourself and your future spouse. Media advertises the unacheivable and porn steals our gift. We are told to look for perfection and find ourselves lost in the search. We try to make someone fit a mold when they are supposed to shaped by a potter. The gift is stolen in two ways, it’s unwrapped and given under the wrong name similarly it is given wrongly to the receiver then the giver is exposed. Pressure is removed by leaving the gift wrapped, or rewrapping, and allowing them to be themselves, even with the flaws. The beauty of getting to know people is, we get to see the heart of the gift before recieving the gift. Go after the heart not the body. Allow yourself to go after the heart of someone your attracted to, allow them to say no if they’re not.

A great example of this is when Jacob married Leah and Rachel. The bible says that Leah had no sparkle in her eye. I’ve heard that interpreted to mean that Leah either had poor eye site or wasn’t pleasant to look at. I would add that it could also mean that her eyes didn’t light up when she saw Jacob or she was unsure of who she was. We assume that Leah was attracted to Jacob and it was just not reciprocated. Let us assume that Leah was attracted to Jacob just as much as he was to her. They’ll never put a smile on each others faces just for walking in the room or should I say tent. Jacob will never be able to put that sparkle in her eye and he knew it, that is why he chose Rachel. The bible also says that Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face. Leah and Rachel were sisters, chances are that they looked alike. I believe Jacob went after a heart and reaped the benefit of a beautiful body, he went after the one with the sparkle in her eye.

Have you ever looked at someone in the eye who lacked confidence in who they are? It’s near impossible, because they won’t maintain eye contact. They are afraid you see the sparkle in their eye. They are not afraid to show the sparkle, they just believe there is no sparkle. They believe that what they are showing is just a dim light and that is what will be seen. But the reality is that if they would really allow themselves to be seen there would be a sparkle so bright that darkness would never extinguish it. There is nothing more attractive than someone who knows who their heart belongs to and is willing to expose it. If we search through the lens of the heart rather than body or personality, someones sparkle will catch your eye and you will be willing to work 14 years just to let it light up your room or tent.

Jacob marries Leah and Rachel

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