Friday, January 2, 2015

Realizations on Life and Song of Solomon

Wow, it's been a little over a year since I've published anything on here. When I first started this blog, I was in a crazy transition in life. I didn't know this at the time, but I seemed totally happy, healthy, and life was looking up, and then life came crashing down. It felt like everything I wrote was a lie, or that if I tried writing anything, it would sound fake. I was frustrated, hurt, and realized something very important.

The veil had been lifted from my eyes.

It's not that I was vastly immature and clueless about the world-- not that I was oh so wise either-- but I was in this idealistic place where my fairytale ending seemed to be finally happening after years of roller coasters. Boy was I wrong.

But the truth is, I'm so grateful for all I went through several years ago. Rejection, losing friends, gaining friends, re-connecting with friends, leaving school; it may not be sunshine and daisies, but it taught me a lot. It broke me down and although I've still been reeling a bit, I'm learning that my life may not be idealistic but God's got it covered, and He's showing me a slow path to recovery.

Through all of these realizations, I've always been re-reading Song of Solomon for the umpteenth time. It's something I do whenever I fall into the desperate pit of single-ness, where I am no longer content with waiting or being single. It reminds me of what I want in a relationship, and sometimes God even reveals something else entirely about myself.

So while reading S.O.S. 1:5-7, I was pleasantly surprised by what dawned on me, and never seemed to have dawned on me previously. Here are the verses, "I am very dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. My mother's sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept! Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon; for why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions?"

This beautiful woman, the Bride of Solomon, King of Jerusalem, is worried that the other women will reject her because she had to work in the fields. She is afraid that they will want her to hide her dark coloring, and veil herself from her future husband's companions because they will think she is not good enough, not someone of upper birth or from the same background, etc.

The first thing that hit me was, how sad that this woman feels worried that she will be judged by her appearance and by her past from God's people! How could she feel that way?! And then I paused and remembered that I have felt that way. I have felt attacked and like an outsider from a Christian community and it broke me. The grace and understanding that were promised were not given, and it made me nervous to want to join in on Christian community ever again. I still have a hard time with it. I avoid Christian communities in which I do not have close friends in so that I can protect myself from the rejection that I had already experienced. I go to church, I read my Bible and study it, and I have close friends who are strong Christians, but I shy away from Bible Studies and Life Groups. It terrifies me.

I'm working slowly on healing those feelings, on gaining courage to open up again. But I think about how sad it is that I do not feel safe being in Christian community, and I've grown up in a Christian home! Imagine those who did not, or did and then left the Church. The fact that people are afraid to join Christian community should break all of our hearts. We say we love everyone like God loves us, and that we "will accept you where you are", but we can also be such hypocrites.

This is my prayer, not only for myself but for the Church as a whole, that we practice what we preach. That we do not judge and chase people away from community. That we love them no matter the mistakes. That we are careful before we hold each accountable, because sometimes a person just needs a listening ear, not a reprimand. That we keep that in balance and do not just let those that are hurting themselves walk away thinking their actions are ok. That we take everything slowly and with great care, because we do not know what a person has gone through or is going through right now. That our words can cut deep and our actions even deeper. And that we never make anyone feel ashamed of their background, past, family, or choices, and allow God to work in them. God told us to go out and make disciples (Matt. 28:19), we should be building leaders, He's the one who works in our lives and hearts. Sometimes, we've gotta take it slow and let God do His work, and trust that He is.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Waiting on love, or not...

Wow! I was just realizing how long it has been since I had posted a blog, and I have a million excuses but really I've just been writing elsewhere.

Anyways, there's something that I've really been learning the past year, and I'm so thankful that God is teaching it to me. Or rather, and this usually happens to me, God gives me sudden peace, and then I look back and go "Oh, there's a bunch of lessons here, hmmm. I should definitely think on those deeply and pray about them."

The lesson is: I do not have to be married/in a relationship to be content.

Now let me expand upon this. I've had some major heartbreak and stupid mistakes in the past, and I've also tried to over-correct after these mistakes. I've had people give me advice and tell me to read this book and that book and learn to just wait. But the thing is, impatient is my middle name. Getting married, having a family, and living happily ever after are definitely on my wish list, but are they necessary for my happiness?


After this last bit of mistakes and heart ache I just wanted someone to come along quickly and fill the void, to help me move on. I but on a brave face, but I cried a lot for months. It's not fun, not at all, but ya know what? The pain subsided. I persevered and prayed often that God would bring me out of the pain. Not dull the pain, or end it right then and there, but bring me out of it.

This means that I wanted God to let me feel it and learn to move forward; learn from my mistakes.

And that's what he has done, he's helped me to move forward. It's interesting, because as he brought me out of that, and the pain subsided, I suddenly didn't care if I was in a relationship or not for almost the first time in my life. I've read things, watched videos, talked to people, and the content will be about crushing on someone and afterwards I sit there and think I'm not longing, I'm not crushing on someone. This is weird! And it really is, but it's wonderful at the same time. I'm not worried about if I choose to take a Master's program overseas, or if I decide to become a hermit who writes 24/7 and drinks coffee like it's some sort of life water (which it is, if you didn't know it). Not that the idle thought doesn't pass through my head of wanting to look good in case I meet someone, or realizing a celebrity is super attractive (ahem Tom Hiddleston), but it does not consume me. We all have the odd crush, thought, etc. It's part of human nature, but the important part is to not let it consume you and be essential to your identity, happiness, or life.

I think I really found my contentedness when I realized that my best friend was going to be finally engaged. I'd guessed they were getting married for over a year, but the engagement was coming closer, and even she knew it. We talked of wedding plans, her boyfriend texted me about the ring and the date, and I would get really excited for her. But I wasn't jealous. I didn't think about why I wasn't close to getting married, or about how I didn't have this amazing guy in my life-- and he's an amazing guy, trust me on this, I was friends with him before I was with her-- and I was just genuinely happy for them and so excited to be a part of everything.

I still am, and it still doesn't bother me.  God has given me the joy and peace that I asked for, and it is absolutely freeing. I am not defined by a man, but I don't have to avoid them either. Yeah I have wedding plans and ideas, things tucked away in different places for future reference, but I'm not dying to get married. I want to go to Italy. I want to finish my novel. I want to enjoy my friends and geek out over TV shows and movies. I want to possibly live overseas for a while and work in museums.

God can do so many truly amazing things in our lives if we let him. Not only that, if we ask him to daily work in our lives. It's not easy, it's not always fun, but her can bring good. That's the greatness of his mercy. Even when we choose to go against him, to sin, to do things that are not in our best interest, he can take those choices and turn them into blessings.

Psalm 19 (NET) says:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky displays his handiwork. Day after day it speaks out; night after night it reveals his greatness. There is no actual speech or word, nor is its voice literally heard. Yet its voice echoes throughout the earth; its words carry to the distant horizon. In the sky he has pitched a tent for the sun. Like a bridegroom it emerges from its chamber; like a strong man it enjoys running its course. It emerges from the distant horizon, and goes from one end of the sky to the other; nothing can escape its heat. The law of the Lord is perfect and preserves one’s life. The rules set down by the Lord are reliable and impart wisdom to the inexperienced. The Lord ’s precepts are fair and make one joyful. The Lord ’s commands are pure and give insight for life. The commands to fear the Lord are right and endure forever. The judgments given by the Lord are trustworthy and absolutely just. They are of greater value than gold, than even a great amount of pure gold; they bring greater delight than honey, than even the sweetest honey from a honeycomb. Yes, your servant finds moral guidance there; those who obey them receive a rich reward. Who can know all his errors? Please do not punish me for sins I am unaware of. Moreover, keep me from committing flagrant sins; do not allow such sins to control me. Then I will be blameless, and innocent of blatant rebellion. May my words and my thoughts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord , my sheltering rock and my redeemer.
God's greatness is never ceasing and we can never know nor see just how great and merciful he is to us. But we can get glimpses, and we can learn from them. Not everyone sins the same in that we all have different desires, temptations, and experiences. We work through struggles differently, but God is always the same. He can bring us out of darkness, he can move within us especially if we ask him to, and his mercy and love is always there. It doesn't matter if the inkiness of our dark hearts seems to leak black sludge everywhere (that's a weird metaphor but I'm going to go with it) or if we suddenly realize that something has become an idol in our lives and we've placed God on the back burner. God will always take us back. He will always help us heal and move forward. He will always work our sins into situations of future glory if we let him.

But that's the key.  Not that he can't work in us and our lives without our permission, but it's so much easier if we give ourselves to him. That's what he wants, that's why he gave us free will, for us to choose him. His love is more fulfilling than any non-committal crush or longing that has no future. And yes, he's got someone in store for each of us, we've just got to learn that God's our number one man, and alone can fill that void and bring us to a place where we can love that man with a love that is like God's love. That's a beautiful thought, no?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Choices, Sin, and Belittlement...

I read a book today, and the author’s afterword brought me to tears. The book is called Wolves Among Us by Ginger Garrett, and anyone (especially women) who enjoy historical fiction should really look into her books. Yes, I enjoyed her novel, but what touched me was the Truth that the author presented afterward.

The burning of witches in the name of God; how easily we are deceived. I never understood why people have been so enthralled throughout the ages with torture, with hangings, with burning, with death. Our sinful hearts long to see pain inflicted on others to make us feel justified for our own pain. We are fascinated by the pain and darkness of the world, even while we are afraid of it.

And when we do not understand something as Christians, we often lash out, claiming ourselves as righteous and declaring all else as that of Satan.

Who are we to judge others? Who are we to stand with a whip to beat the children of God, to “purge” them of their sins so that they may go to the Lord clean?

When we claim to “purge” any person of their sin, when we take the credit for ourselves or take matters into our own hands, we spit in the face of our Father. He sent His son to certain death, for crimes He did not commit. He sent Him to a life of pain and humanity. He did it for us, to save us, Christ sacrificed Himself for us and here we are constantly trying to take the credit from Him.

And anyone who is different from us can surely not be from God. We are the Western Civilization, we are a Christian society, so we must be right, and the rest of the world wrong.

But we cannot judge what is in another’s heart, and those of us who know the Truth, but toss it aside day in and day out will be the ones most harshly punished.

Back to the book though, it is a book about the burning of witches. It is about the Word of God, of people trying desperately to learn about Him and His love, and how easily half-truths can bring destruction. What hit me the hardest was a quote from another author within the afterword.

“Gender differences come in handy when we find ourselves baffled by those closest to us. Isn’t it so much easier to blame something we can’t control for our problems? For instance, when a man and a woman get close (this is especially true in marriage), they discover those annoying differences about each other. Wouldn’t we rather locate these irreconcilable differences in gender or sex instead of personal growth? I’ve often heard married couples give up understanding or intimacy by discounting the baffling differences in the opposite sex – “Oh, men are all like that,”  or, “Maybe this is just a woman thing.” Instead we could push into knowing one another and realize most of the gender differences are due to culture, family of origin, personality, or unique life experiences.”

The witch trials were based on this principle: the differences between men and women, and wanting to pass blame rather than admit that our sin is our own. We chose to do the things we do, we make that decision, alone. We must take that responsibility, God has given us free will. But if we wish to be forgiven, we must chose that as well; for ourselves.

Men and women are so very different, and yet we were made in beauty, we were made by a loving God who finds us pleasing. When we look closely, we are not different at all, we all are the children of the Most High God, we all sin, make wrong choices, and we must learn that we must become weak in order for Him to live in us and make us strong. In the Bible, God used men and women, and so today He uses both. How silly of us to try to belittle one gender or the other when God uses both for His purpose. We belittle God’s purpose when we belittle each other. We are but mere humans, how can we ever understand the depth of greatness of God? And how dare we try to belittle His plans when He has given us so much and His understanding far exceeds our own?

You are beloved, no matter what you do, no matter what gender or race or background. So why not start acting like you are the beloved of the Lord, God?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

It's all about fear

I've heard it over and over again. Men asking why women constantly turn down good men because "they aren't ready to date" or "aren't dating at this time". It's a perfectly good question, and I know that I have an answer. Only one answer, and one that only applies to me, but I think some might agree.

As a Christian woman, I know I have been told over and over again that I need a man. I've also been told I don't need a man, all I need is God.

This is the constant dilemma I live with.

I am told by women in the Church, friends that are dating or married, by movies, music, so many different people, that I need a man to be happy. I know that one day, I do want to be married, it's a desire that God has placed in my heart. But I also know that I want to be content being single. I don't want to be dependent on someone else for my happiness, because then I am not living up to MY purpose that God has given me. My happiness should be based on myself, my loved ones, and God, not just on a relationship.

So, in turn, sometimes I want to just push away any guy that shows any interest in me. Is that wrong? Yes! Of course it is! But it's my effort to not get caught up in a man, and losing my sight of my own walk with God. I am so terrified of becoming dependent on someone to the point that it's not healthy.

I become paralyzed with fear.

I get caught up in the fear of what ifs that I forget to let someone have a chance, and allow God to work in my life.

I am learning still, just like everyone else. I know I need to give guys a better chance, but I also know that there are some times when I really am not ready for a relationship. That doesn't mean I never will be, it just means that at this very moment, I need to walk the path of a single woman. And I will continue down that path until I am truly content with being single.

And men? We women need you to be patient with us. We know it takes a lot of courage to ask us out, but if we say we aren't ready, then just remember, one day we may be ready. Give us time. And seek God. He will give you the timing you need. Try not to get too discouraged, or become too bitter. We aren't trying to hurt you, and often we know you are hurt, we just don't know how to react to not make the situation worse.

As brother and sisters in Christ, we need to remember that we do hurt each other, but we don't always mean to. We need to remember grace, and take everything as a lesson. One day we will find our princesses and princes, and it will be perfect. In God's timing, if we stop trying to control everything, and let him take over.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hope For A Future

I was looking at some of my old poetry and was struck by this simple poem I had written almost three years ago.

I don't really need a fairytale,
I just need real.
I need it to be true
based in the Truth, full of life.
I don't need a knight in shining armor,
I just need a man,
honest, full of love, ready for battle
ready to take on Satan in everyday life.
I don't need a man,
I need a boy
full of belief like a child
sitting at Jesus's feet,
thirsting for more.
I don't need a handsome prince,
for I am no princess.
Warriors we can be together
ready for the darkness and evil to face us.
I don't need dreams
I need hope again,
hope of a future
where I can feel whole again.
I know the Lord is creating His masterpiece still,
the clay is in His hands,
He's molding and shaping my new heart
but... I wish he'd hurry!
"Hope deferred makes a heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."

How could I have forgotten this? Crazy!

But ... I get caught up so often in just wanting a guy to look at me; or a guy to be WITH me, that I often that I want THE perfect guy Abba has for me. I don't want to just hook up. I want a man who is a perfect match for me, a man who I can grow with, who will lead me, who will love me, and who will be my best friend.

I need to slow down again and re-think. I need to stop and focus on what God has for my life and remember that He will place a man into my life when the timing is right. Not when I feel lonely or want a guy to take me out for selfish reasons.

I can wait. I really can. And I will wait and stop over thinking things and just enjoy life. And for right now, I am single. And that's not a bad thing.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

When Your Spirit Gets Too Weak...

I don't know how many of you have actually seen the show Touched by an Angel, but it happens to be one of my favorite shows. It's absolutely fabulous how God can speak to me with that show, and tonight, he's done just that. I've been struggling lately with feeling completely inadequate in all areas of my life from some people wiser and older than I. I'm not used to this kind of response, so it's been a little bit of a shocker for me, and I think with all of the craziness of the past couple of weeks, I think it's just kind of compounded... a lot...

So as I've slowly fallen further and further into the dark pit of depression, feeling myself being an empty, numb, shell of a person, I've been thinking why exactly I'm struggling so much. Part of this is what I discussed above, the other part I think is that many people have been bent on telling me, "You're sick!" and then told me what I should be doing about an incurable disease that may have shortened my lifespan drastically. All I can think about is that, I don't really want to think about this. I don't want to think about being sick, or that I may not live till I'm 40. I want to be living! ALIVE! I want to be living for God and his kingdom, working for his glory. Trying to get my degree, and looking at all the blessings he's given me. And all I keep hearing is how is your diet going? How is your illness? I know people are concerned, but honestly I don't think about it as much. And I want people to not think that it's nothing, it's a serious illness, but once they know, I want them to just move on like I do. I know some people can't, and I shouldn't blame them, but it just irritates me and makes me think about the fact that Satan is winning.

But I won't let him win! I refuse! And that's what the Lord showed me tonight by having me listen to a simple song. It was on a Touched by and Angel, and I really loved the song. It's by PlusOne, an old 90s boys band and it's called When Your Spirit Gets Too Weak...

We beg to borrow
We beg to steal
We beg forgiveness
We beg to feel
We beg for love
I guess we beg for hate
We beg for everything
And pray it's not too late

What everybody's tryna' feel
I guess we're tryna' heal
Everybody's got to kneel
No way to reinvent the wheel
Everybody's got to
Stand up on their feet
Everybody needs a dream
When the spirit gets too weak

[c h o r u s]
So when your spirit gets too weak
When the water seems too deep
When you think there's just no way
I'll be there for you night and day
When the mountain
Seems too steep
When your spirit gets too weak
When you think there's just no way
I'll be there for you night and day

We beg for happiness
We beg for tears
We beg for courage
Just to overcome our fears
We beg to rise above
And hope we never fall
We beg for everything
And pray He hears our call

What everybody's tryna' feel
I guess we're tryna' heal
Everybody's got to kneel
No way to reinvent the wheel
Everybody's got to
Stand up on their feet
Gotta be there for your brother
When the spirit gets too weak

[c h o r u s]

Although the road is rough
And sometimes you feel
Like it ain't enough
We'll be there for each other
We'll find the way

God will help me win, cuz he knows I'm living, not dying, I'm LIVING! And no one can stop that...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

YELLING... and abuse...

So I recently read an article on Yahoo!, and it seems to be popping up a lot lately. The article is called "The Danger of Yelling at Your Kids..." (it has a longer title and I decided to just link you to the actual article... because I'm lazy.) Anyways, it's an interesting article, and I assume most people would agree that yelling at a child all the time is grossly inappropriate and abusive. However, looking at the study, and the effects, I was struck by something.

The article says, "...parents who express a lot of anger in front of their kids end up with less empathetic children. These kids are more aggressive and more depressed than peers from calmer families..."

Wait, hold the phone. Did they just secretly look at my life?!

I'll admit it, I'm very apathetic to most situations, things don't phase me like they do other people. Often I've been asked why I'm not more upset about something, and I can't explain it. I'm just not. I tend to hold things in, but not only that, I often feel little or no emotion and then realize Sam, what it your problem?! Why aren't you more upset about this? This is a BIG deal. Do you have a serious wall up? Do you need a therapy session?!

Sometimes it really bothers me, and other times it's a blessing. I can keep cool in stressful situations.

But then there's my extreme aggression and depression...

For years, my first reaction to anything that I didn't like was to hit. And hit HARD. Nobody messed with me growing up because they were terrified of me. Kids that grew up with me would tell other kids in High School that they should leave me alone because I would kick their butt (even though I had stopped hitting when I was like a freshman in High School.) But seriously... my first reaction still is that I want to punch someone. That I want to scream at them at the top of my lungs. That I want to get in their face and threaten them until they pee their pants.

I've learned to hold that back as I've gotten older. To stop the initial thought before it gets very far and say CHILL! This isn't a big deal. Take a deep breath and talk calmly.

But I'm still a very aggressive person. Ask anyone. Well anyone who has known me very long. I like confrontation, I like being honest, I won't hold back when someone asks for an opinion, and I protect my friends with my life. Do I blow up and start cussing and throwing punches? Not anymore. But if it came down to protecting a friend from someone hurting them? I would go all Gracie Hart on them.

I also really struggle with depression. It's no secret, it's a huge struggle in my life. And has been since I was young. Have I attempted suicide? Yes. Am I still here? Obviously. God has always protected myself from my own worst enemy, me.

But someone who is apathetic, depressed, and aggressive? Not a good mixture for my social life or my soul. God has worked in me a lot through and since High School to show me the damage that a loud and abusive home can cause. Are my parents horrible? No. Have they made their mistakes? Yes. Will I learn from them? Of course! Will I yell at my kids at some point? Probably. But I will try my very hardest to not to, and I will definitely apologize for yelling. Because no one likes to be yelled at. Especially children.