To All My Single Friends

I just want to encourage those of you who aren’t in a relationship right now.  😉

 

I’ve written about this before (check When the Lord Gives and Takes Away), but a relationship is not a gift God gives you for good behavior, and singleness is not a punishment for not doing or being good enough.  Sometimes when we’re single we hear that there must be something that God wants us to accomplish before getting into a relationship, and while I wholeheartedly believe that seasons of singleness can be fruitful in ways that marriage can’t, I don’t believe God wants us to have a mindset of striving.  So, I want to propose something:

 

What if God isn’t solely concerned with giving us more time to DO things we’re called to do while single, but to simply BE with Him more?

 

My friend shared the most beautiful imagery with me once that sums this up perfectly:

 

“Don’t forget that God is your parent, and just like a parent, He loves your relationship with Him the way it is now.  He knows that when you get married, your relationship with Him will still be good, but it will be different.  He wants to spend time with you, just you and Him, for as long as possible.”

 

Now, if this doesn’t grip your heart, ask God to help you understand His love in a deeper way because, trust me, it will.  You know how you always hear parents with little children saying, “I’m not going to let them date until they’re (some wildly old age)!”?  We know they’re joking, but sweet parents say this because they treasure their children, and the quality time spent with them in undistracted seasons.  When you get married, just like there will be changes in your relationship with your parents (leave and cleave, am I right?), you’re also going to experience changes in your relationship with God.  You will obviously never leave Him, and He will NEVER leave you, but you are going to have other responsibilities and priorities that will make it harder to keep Him at the center.  Right now, while you are single, you are basically able to receive God’s love selfishly, and pour your love out on Him selfishly!  This is one of the greatest times of your life – to have the opportunity to spend hours upon hours alone with God, like Adam in the garden, simply as His child.  🙂

 

For those of you who are having a hard time getting perspective while single, I want to encourage you: God really does love you and want what’s best for you, and that really is Him.  So, here are some tips that have helped me to become closer to the Lord and be content where I am – I know they’ll help you as well!

 

  1. Ask God what He desires of you.
    • Not what He desires you to DO, but what He desires of YOU.  I’m talking about spending unhindered, intentional TIME with God whether it’s:
      • being more surrendered to Him or disciplined in certain areas,
      • following a deep, daily plan of reading His Word,
      • limiting scrolling on social media so you can talk to Him,
      • listening to your Bible App or worship music as you’re going to sleep or going for a drive,
      • committing time to pray through specific things on your heart with Him,
      • reading books/devos that strengthen your faith,
      • doing creative things as worship (like painting, playing an instrument, writing poems or songs),
      • or the most radical of all…actually just sitting alone and being silent in His Presence.
    • You will never regret the time you spend with Him.

 

  1. Don’t forget your First Love.
    • God is not a hold-over until someone else comes into your life – He’s a steadfast whether you’re single OR in a relationship.  Get to know His love for you while you’re single, and you will ALWAYS be satisfied.  🙂

 

  1. Ask God for a word for your season.
    • The reason why I love the Lord is not because I’m so spiritual or good – it’s because I hear Him speak to me!  He understands me in ways that no one else can, and He is my FRIEND.  Whether I’m stuck in a certain mindset or don’t understand what is happening in and around me, when I talk to Him about it, He always gives me personal perspective.  I couldn’t outlast any season without hearing His voice personally for myself.  Other people can encourage you, but only God can transform you as He opens up His Word to you and speaks things so personal that you can’t deny it’s Him.  He’s the only One who knows what He’s doing in your life anyway, so why not ask Him about it?  🙂

 

Last but not least, something the Lord spoke to me last year (also my most popular tweet of all time, nbd) is:

 

“If you can’t be happy for others, you will never truly be happy.  One day you’ll have reasons to celebrate, but until then celebrate them.”

 

Your time to celebrate is coming!  In the meantime, celebrate the beautiful things that God is doing in the lives of those around you, and BLESS GOD for blessing you with the gift of time with Him because that truly is the best gift.  😉

 

 

Blog Pic: Taken by the incredibly talented Rosie Delacruz at McKinney Square

Rejection is a Lie

Unraveling pain through letting the Lord in to heal it is a process.  Once we surrender He can heal it all in one go, but I really believe that we still need to submit to the process of letting Him change the way we think about the pain in addition to how we feel in order to FULLY heal.

What does that look like?  It looks like facing exactly what you’ve experienced and felt head on.  You see, when it comes to pain, there are good days and bad days.  Many people think that the way to heal is to ignore the pain and wait for the good days, but that is actually denial, and a way to keep yourself from fully healing!  Good days don’t mean that we don’t still have some painful residue in our hearts that needs to be dealt with, and bad days can be made even worse if we do not confront the ways we feel with the Lord according to His Word.  One way to do this is, when you feel pain about something, immediately ask the Lord: Why am I feeling this way right now, and what do You have to say about it?

I want to share about a time in which I practiced this with the Lord according to what I was feeling in the moment, which was specifically the feeling of rejection.  He spoke these exact words into my spirit to combat it:

“Isn’t it time you took off the lie that you’ve been rejected?”

Wow.  I thought of that all day after He said it, but I needed Him to clarify what He meant.  You see, how was my feeling rejected a lie if I actually was rejected?  Well, that night, I felt the Lord telling me to read an extremely familiar passage in Isaiah.  I’ve read it so many times that my Bible literally flips open to it now, so I definitely remembered what it said.  However, this time, God showed me something that I never noticed before:

‘“The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit – a wife who married young, only to be rejected,’ says your God” (Isaiah 54:6).

Did you catch that?  I’ve read this verse so many times…SO MANY TIMES, and yet I never noticed those two little words.  As if.  As if you were rejected.  What does that mean for you and me?  It means that – if you are a Christian and you’ve ever felt that someone has rejected you, and you have carried the “Rejected” label with you, you’ve actually believed a lie about yourself.  How do I know this?  Because Jesus was rejected so that I could be accepted.  Take a look with me at Isaiah 53, just one chapter before the verse I mentioned:

“…(Jesus) had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.  He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.  Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem.  Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted.  But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5).

Jesus RADICALLY loves me.  He loves me so much that He actually chose to come to this earth as a baby – the most humble of creation and in creation’s clothes, not His glorious ones!  He not only lived a normal life so that He could understand me in all that I feel on this earth, but He died a gruesome death and faced absolute separation from the Father in order to become one with me.  He was despised, rejected, a man of suffering, familiar with pain, held in low esteem, punished, stricken, afflicted, pierced, crushed, and wounded…for me.  Let that sink in for a minute.  That is radical love to the highest extent.  And why did He do this?  So that I, who once was rejected, though not anywhere near what He experienced, could be fully and completely accepted.  I am accepted by the Father and loved unconditionally, not for anything that I have done, but because of what He has done for me.  If He calls me accepted, how then can I be rejected?  If He went to such lengths to prove His love for me, how can I dwell in feeling rejected by people on earth?  I am not of this world.  That means that the world may reject me (in fact, Jesus said they will), but if I am already accepted, then I do not have to take that label on!

REJECTION IS A LIE.

After we are “rejected” by the people of this world, we have to take care and evaluate if we are believing things that are true: what God says, and not just how we feel.  We have all experienced this kind of pain in varying degrees, whether it was from a significant other, a friend, or a family member, but the Lord did not go to the lengths mentioned in Isaiah 53 for you to feel that way forever.  Instead, He did it so that no matter what happened in the past or will happen to you in the future, you can be free from all labels and take on His name: “Loved.”  Make sure that you do not allow what has happened to you define you, change your personality, or change your thoughts about yourself in any way.  If it does, then you can know that that is from the enemy, and not from God.  God wants to be your Source of identity, rest, satisfaction, and love – and His opinion is the only one that counts.

So, with all of that being said, I really just wanted to share a few simple steps that I took in order to hear the Lord speak to me in this area of pain.  I know He wants to do the same in you.  🙂  If you feel like you’re in a painful season, here’s some tips to process through it:

  1. Ask Him why you feel what you feel and what He thinks about it.
    • When I heard God tell me to take off the lie that I had been rejected, I was shocked. I thought, “What?!  The LIE that I’ve been rejected?  But Lord, You know how I feel!”  Yes, He does.  And He does not minimize or diminish our painful feelings at all.  However, in the midst of what we feel, He wants to speak truth to us so we can HEAL.  Sometimes, we experience pain that only the Lord can comfort, but sometimes, we put ourselves through pain by not receiving the comfort that God has already given us!  We have the power to shut down lies and false feelings that the enemy tries to use against us when we meditate on God’s truth!
  2. Confront the things you feel with the Word of God.
    • We MUST take all of our painful processing to Jesus because when we feel a sense of sorrow or pain, if we do not confront it with the truth of God’s Word about it, we can take it on as a label.  I felt I was rejected, and because of that, what I did not realize was that I began carrying around that memory as a new identity!  The Lord had to show me that if I was rejected, that was because that was not what He had for me, and I did NOT have to take the label “Rejected” into my future.  This can apply to other areas of pain as well.  For example, if you feel loneliness, you have to fight the temptation to believe the lie that you are just a “Loner.”  Or, if you feel like you’ve failed in certain areas, you must break the lie that you are a “Failure.”  You have to confront the lie that is confronting you in order to move on and let the Lord heal you!
  3. Believe that what He says about you is true.
    • When the Lord told me to take off the lie that I had been rejected, I thought about it all day long.  Could that be true – that the rejection I felt was actually just surface level?  I knew that the Lord wasn’t ignoring what had happened to me, but that He was speaking a truth that was deeper than what I had experienced.  I had to accept the label that He gave me instead: Accepted.  If He says you are accepted, YOU ARE, and that’s that!  Otherwise, what foundation are you standing on – that of your shifting feelings, or that of His everlasting love and truth?  I pray always the latter, for you and for me.  🙂

You do not have to feel bad for needing to process through the painful things that have happened to you.  The Lord created you to need Him and He will give you all the time you need!  The only way to fully heal is to partner with Him in the healing that He brings, and He is so willing to bring as much as we’re willing to receive.  🙂

 

Blog Pic: Loch Lomond in Scotland

The Flip-Side to Hiddenness

I just came back from a week of much needed rest and adventure in Scotland, and wow.  Was it the best week of my life so far?  Probably.  Very much so.  Yes.  My time there with my friends got me thinking even more about the topic of Hiddenness, and I felt the Lord wanted to take me a little deeper into it (P.S. If you haven’t read my other blog on Hiddenness, now is good of a time as any to do so. :)).

 

Once we get the revelation that we’ll always feel hidden to the world, but that we are actually seen by the Creator of the Universe, it doesn’t stop there.  Knowing that we are seen by God is so assuring, so comforting, and so empowering, but I just can’t bring myself to believe that God would want me, or any of us, to each be an island alone with Him, even if no one else can truly satisfy our need to be understood.

 

So, what is our purpose?

 

I love what an old Pastor of mine used to say: the only reason why Jesus didn’t take us to Heaven immediately when we accepted Him (whenever we realized that He saved us and sees us), is because He wanted us to share Him with the world.  It’s so simple, and yet so profound if you really think about it.  Now that I realize that I can’t be satisfied by being seen, valued, and acknowledged by others, but find all of that fulfillment in God, I know that I can go to Him with everything, no matter what I feel.  However, my eyes have also now been opened to the fact that so many other people struggle with these feelings without any safe place at all.  The feeling of being hidden.  Misunderstood.  Unloved.  They don’t know yet that there is a God who sees them, knows them, and loves them.

 

So, what can I do?

 

My purpose, my responsibility, my job description is to see those who don’t feel seen.  I, who once felt so hidden (and still can to a certain extent as no one understands me the way the Lord does), am now in a place where I can actually recognize and see people who struggle with those very same feelings of hiddenness, and love on them there.  That is why we can’t just stay isolated in our personal relationship with God, no matter how blessed and wonderful it is.  He longs for us to reach out and minister to others, who have not yet come to that place.

 

I love how Jesus revealed to me that He knew more than me what hiddenness feels like.  He is God, and yet He lived as a man.  No one understood the path that He had to take, and the life that He chose to live.  Even His own brother did not believe in Him while He was alive!  He must have suffered with feeling lonely among the people in the world, but He did not suffer for long, because He knew His Father was with Him.  🙂  He also lived to serve others.  He truly saw who they were, and the potential they held, and He loved them to it.  He became a safe place for those who felt hidden, and He is our example.  He is the One who taught Paul, who wrote on and on (I’m reading all of his letters in the New Testament in order right now) to the churches that he established and started, sometimes with tears and sadness, and sometimes with the greatest joy and gladness.  He was teaching, and teaching, and teaching, and pouring out, and pouring out, and pouring out.  He wasn’t even married, which is a relationship in this world that, if done God’s way, can be such a safe space of encouragement and partnership in love, and not to mention, he suffered with great attacks and obstacles by himself.  I can imagine that there were times when he struggled deeply with feeling hidden and misunderstood.

 

You know what I believe he did in those times though?  He surrendered his right to be known to this world, began to know and be known by God, and helped others to come to this revelation as well.  This is why his one goal in life, his one mission and joy, was to spur others on in recognizing that they are seen by the Lord – because he had discovered this so much for himself.  This is why he poured his heart and soul into the Church and its people everywhere he went.  This is why he prayed for people in the streets and taught in the synagogues.  This is why he did not stop when he was hit with so much suffering and pain.  First, he was truly satisfied in the Lord, and second, he realized that there was more to his life than just him.  He followed Jesus’ example.

 

If you realize that you feel hidden, and just stay feeling way, what does that accomplish?  Nothing but turning you into an emotional sap who always feels sorry for yourself and is no good to anybody – that’s what.  We’ve got to move past the highs and lows of our emotions and see our lives the way that God sees them.  Even when you suffer with something that’s painful, when you see it the way that God does, He doesn’t ignore that it is painful, but He somehow makes it bearable – giving you hope, courage, and strength to make it through even what once seemed impossible.

 

So, what is the flip-side to hiddenness?

 

It’s knowing that you are not the only one who feels the way you feel.  It’s deciding to pour your heart out before the Lord, and to receive the healing that He longs and loves to give, but it’s also deciding not to be an island there.  Our lives mean so much more than for us to just satisfy our physical and emotional needs and then let them be over.  We are first called to be satisfied in the Lord and make Him our safe place, and second, we are called to become a safe place to others who don’t know Him yet.  The flip-side to hiddenness is that you are not alone in it.  Everyone is looking to be seen and heard and loved.

 

Why not let YOUR eyes that notice, YOUR ears that listen, and YOUR heart that has compassion show them the way through Jesus to the One true God who is able to give them everything they’re looking for?

 

Blog Pic: Loch Lomond at Luss Village in Scotland

Hiddenness

I typically like to play worship music as I’m working or doing mindless things for the sole purpose of basically forcing my mind to wander back to the Lord – what He’s saying and what He’s doing.  I love when He speaks to my heart when I’m not even expecting it.  This happened two nights ago.  A song was playing in the background and I wasn’t really paying attention, until I heard someone on the recording encourage the audience to try to recognize what they were feeling in God’s Presence, just so they could be more aware of how He was meeting with them in that moment.  My ear was immediately tuned in, so I asked the Lord to help me understand what I feel when I’m in His Presence.  Not a second passed by when I heard Him say:

 

“You feel seen.”

 

Seen…to be seen.  What does that mean?  Here are some of my favorite definitions from Merriam Webster:

 

  • to perceive by the eye :  to perceive or detect as if by sight
  • to have experience of :  to come to know :  discover
  • to form a mental picture of :  visualize :  to perceive the meaning or importance of :  understand :  to be aware of :  recognize :  to imagine as a possibility
  • examine, watch :  read
  • to take care of :  provide for :  to make sure, see that order is kept
  • to regard as
  • to call on :  visit (1) :  to keep company with, especially in courtship (2) :  to grant an interview to
  • to give or pay attention

 

I realized in that moment with perfect clarity that when I am in God’s Presence, when I am worshiping Him, with my eyes fixed on Him, I somehow feel and sense His eyes on me as well.  That’s what it’s like to worship the God of the Universe.  He is so close and tangible, and I know His loving eyes and His smile are on me.  There is nothing like it.  I am seen all the time everywhere I go by other people, but to be seen and to be known and understood, without honestly even saying words, now that is something completely different altogether.  Worship is not about me, but I cannot deny that worshiping Jesus affects everything about who I am.

 

To explain how much this revelation means to me, let me just say that I feel I’m in a season right now of hiddenness, not being able to be fully seen as I want to be.  I was kind of feeling sorry for myself and complaining about it to the Lord, wondering when it would be over, when He showed me that I’ve actually felt that way for a while…my entire life.  When something has been a part of your experience for as long as you can remember, it may not simply be a season.  The Lord may be teaching you something deeper – a lesson about who He is, and what you’re made for.  A lesson that will last a lifetime…

 

I was made to be known and understood.  I have always desired it, and I know that it is at the core of every human being’s heart.  This is why relationships are so pushed and pressed in our culture (and churches) today.  They are made to look like the be-all, end-all of successful, happy living, and being known.  It is not wrong, but…it’s not enough.  No one can satisfy you because no one can fully understand you.  It’s hard to admit, but no matter how many years you spend with a person, even someone that you truly love and study and admire, you will never be able to completely read their minds, and they will never be able to completely read yours.  This desire to be seen and known is not a desire that is able to be fulfilled on this earth, solely with earthly resources and relationships.  It’s much bigger than that.

 

So, what is the Lord speaking to me, and possibly to you too?

 

I am not only in a season of hiddenness – that’s actually the place where I live.  In this world, no human can ever fully understand us the way we all want to be understood.  We can grow and increase our communication styles, try to express ourselves as clearly as we possibly can, and we can still not fully get across what we’re trying to say.  Therefore, why do we desire that so much?  It has to be because that is available to us.  Because that is who God is for us.  He sees us and He knows and understands us.  Hiddenness is not a curse.  It is a gift and reminder that no one sees us the way the Lord does.

 

Whether I am in a crowded room or by myself, and whether or not I am feeling loved or understood or I am looking to be – He is there.  He wants to show me that He is the only One who can truly satisfy my soul.  Even years down the road, when I have been blessed with a family of my own, the deepest part of who I am will still desire to be known and loved and understood by the God who sees me.  A husband can’t satisfy that, children can’t satisfy that, and friends can’t satisfy that.  I have the Answer today though.  It’s Him.  In every season, He sees me and He loves me.  He searches me and knows me.  He searches out my path.  He knows when I sit and when I rise.  He perceives my thoughts from afar.  He is my Father, His eyes are on me, and nothing can separate me from His love.

 

I’m also learning that God LOVES hidden things: hidden beauty, hidden treasure, hidden revelation.  I did a little search in my Bible of all of the verses that contain the word hidden.  This is what I found:

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” – Proverbs 25:2

“And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness–secret riches.  I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.” – Isaiah 45:3

“For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:3

“But let (your beauty) be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God.” – 1 Peter 3:4

 

It is His great pleasure to hide me; to conceal me in His Presence.  There are things that only He and I can share.  He absolutely loves for His children to go into their rooms and shut their door to meet and speak with Him alone.  Hiddenness is not a hindrance to real relationship.  Being hidden in the Lord is the most real relationship there is.  There’s something precious in Him allowing us to being hidden in order for us to grow in Him even more, because when I feel the most hidden, I am actually seen.

 

Some more verses about the beauty of hiddenness:

“But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” – Matthew 6:6

“His glory covered the heavens and the earth was full of His praise.  And His brightness was like the sunlight; rays streamed from His hand, and there [in the sunlike splendor] was the hiding place of His power.” – Habakkuk 3:3-4

“At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.  Yes, Father, for this is what You were pleased to do.” – Matthew 11:25

“And great and important and weighty, we confess, is the hidden truth (the mystic secret) of godliness. He [God] was made visible in human flesh, justified and vindicated in the [Holy] Spirit, was seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, [and] taken up in glory.” – 1 Timothy 3:16

  • Just want to pause here to say: Who understood hiddenness more than Jesus Himself? Fully God, fully man, more often than not misunderstood by the people that He loved – YET, He kept His consolation in the Father because He knew He always had His eyes on Him.  He is our Teacher and our Model, and He understands everything that we feel and go through.

“He who is able to hear, let him listen to and heed what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches). To him who overcomes (conquers), I will give to eat of the manna that is hidden, and I will give him a white stone with a new name engraved on the stone, which no one knows or understands except he who receives it.” – Revelation 2:17

“So do not make any hasty or premature judgments before the time when the Lord comes [again], for He will both bring to light the secret things that are [now hidden] in darkness and disclose and expose the [secret] aims (motives and purposes) of hearts.  Then every man will receive his [due] commendation from God.” – 1 Corinthians 4:5

You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.” – Psalm 119:114

“How abundant are the good things that You have stored up for those who fear You,
that You bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in You.  In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from all human intrigues; You keep them safe in Your dwelling from accusing tongues.” – Psalm 31:19-20

 

And this one got me.  Check this out:

You are my hiding place;
You will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with My loving eye on you.

– Psalm 32:7-8

 

What is sad about hiddenness if it brings me into greater revelation of the One who sees me?  Let me stay hidden forever before I miss His gaze

 

So, I make this my prayer:

Keep me as the apple of Your eye;

hide me in the shadow of Your wings.”

– Psalm 17:8

“So she called the name of the Lord Who spoke to her, You are a God of seeing, for she said, Have I [not] even here [in the wilderness] looked upon Him Who sees me [and lived]?  Or have I here also seen [the future purposes or designs of] Him Who sees me?  Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi [A well to the Living One Who sees me]…”

– Genesis 16:13-14

 

Blog Pic: New Smyrna Beach in Florida

When the Lord Gives and Takes Away

How I was healed of a broken heart last Valentine’s Day…

 

When I began my walk with the Lord, I really believed and understood that He was kind and good and loving.  I began to share my faith with others and would seemingly always find myself counseling and speaking into other people’s lives about the goodness of God.  I trusted Him wholeheartedly, and when He spoke to me, I listened.  I don’t know how I learned it, but I began to ask Him about everything, even the smallest details of my day.  I also learned quickly that He would always answer me because I simply believed Him, so I would just listen and obey, automatically moving forward in the direction He led me in without hesitation.  Whether it was immediate, or much later, I would always ultimately see why He led me in that decision and experience His blessing from following it.  For many years, I never really had a reason to doubt the goodness of God, or His leading in my life…until a reason came.

 

The Test

When I began to ask Him about my future and not just my day, He started showing me things that actually kind of shocked me.  What was I asking the Lord about, you ask?  Yeah, I was definitely asking Him about my future husband.  I know…super girly and dramatic, but don’t judge me just yet.  I genuinely wanted to know what the will of the Lord was for my life and I genuinely believe that we can all hear the voice of God.  I wanted to hear His voice and know and just follow.  Basically, I wanted to cut out all the drama of getting my feelings hurt with “going after” guys in my heart that weren’t for me, and let God tell me who to choose.  Simple!

 

The thing is: when I began to surrender my choice to Him in this area, crazy things started to happen.  The Lord put someone on my heart.  The next thing I know, I’m asking God for a sign…and He gives it!  I’m asking Him for confirmation…and He gives it!  I’m asking Him to give me a prophetic word through someone else or SOMETHING to make sure that I’m really hearing Him right, and He not only speaks this guy’s name to me in the craziest of ways (it’s quite an elaborate story), but He literally causes me to hear/see his name almost everywhere I go after that, every week for an entire summer.  None of this had ever happened to me before!  At first, this really freaked me out, but because I would more often than not hear this person’s name during sermons, stories, and even worship at my church, I knew this was from God and not just some sign from my own imagination or thoughts.  He was endorsing something, and because I was truly seeking Him and not this relationship, I knew that He was speaking to me.

 

So, I prayed for this person for nine months.  I wanted to make sure that this was from God, and not something that I was cooking up on my own.  Since things weren’t happening right away, I held fast to the confirmations that the Lord had already given me and prayed for this guy until suddenly, one day, God tells me that he is going to ask me out.  It happens that day.  Then, a month later, God tells me that he is going to ask me to be his girlfriend.  It happens that day.  So, here I am.  You can imagine that I was literally in awe of God.  I was freaking out because not only had I had this person on my mind for almost a year, and felt like I was a crazy person because of it, but God had actually fulfilled all of the things that He had spoken to me, and I couldn’t deny it.  I had been given an active part in this story, solely by praying and listening to God.  This was insanity to me, but it was my life, and I was amazed.

 

You can also imagine that I was completely sure of this relationship.  I had stepped into this, not the day the relationship started, or even the day that he told me he liked me, but nine months before.  I had started this with God, and I was determined to finish it.  Let me tell you that there was not a doubt in my mind that this was it – he was my husband.  You can imagine my utter despair then, when the exact opposite of what I was expecting and believing for happened.  The relationship ended.  I definitely wasn’t going to be the one to end it myself because of all of the confirmations God gave me, but when the other person ends things, you really have no choice in the matter.

 

I was so confused.  I felt betrayed and embarrassed.  I was devastated and in shock.  I thought, “How could this be happening to me if I was literally led into this by You, God?  Why did You allow me to believe that this person was my husband for so long if he actually wasn’t?  Why did You give me all of those signs and confirmations for nothing?  Why did You allow me to waste my year?”  All of these thoughts were swirling in my head, but this is what I heard in my spirit immediately after it happened:

 

“The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

 

Let me be the first to say that I did NOT want to receive these words, which is why I knew it was from God and not from me.  I could not believe how God could give me something as drawn out as this, and be telling me so simply that He was taking it away.  However, as much as I wanted this to be what God had for me, I truly DID want what He had.  I was willing to let go.  In fact, I was unwilling to hold onto this if it wasn’t it.  So, I genuinely spoke those words out loud when I heard them, and I prayed and asked God to heal me.  I am not kidding when I tell you that I was healed in five days from a nine month process.  I’m not going to write about all of the details of that here today, but I do want to share with you what I learned from it, especially because it’s Valentine’s Day, and many of you may be in a situation similar to the one I found myself in over a year ago.

 

The Lesson

My experience after this was not necessarily easy or pleasant.  There was deep, deep grief in my heart, and I needed the comfort of God.  I knew that this was either going to kill me, or cause me to come alive in God more.  There were only two options.  I had to deal with the nagging question of why God would lead me with full faith into something that wasn’t mine.  Was He actually good?  Was He trying to deceive me?  Why would He allow my heart to be broken when I didn’t do anything to deserve it, but I actually trusted Him through all of it?  I ultimately had to come to the conclusion that if God is not real and present in my pain, then He is not real or present at all.  I realized that, because this relationship was made so clear to me, it was from God, and if God is truly good, He wouldn’t have given this nine month process to me if there wasn’t something good in it.  So, I became a glutton for the goodness of God.  I desperately needed His comfort, and I was not going to go a day without it.

 

Would you believe that even quicker and clearer than God spoke to lead me into that relationship, He spoke to emotionally lead me out of it, enough that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this guy was not, and would never be, my husband?  I ended up looking up the words that the Lord spoke to me right after the relationship ended – the very words of Job in the Bible, a man acquainted with a loss much greater than mine:

 

‘“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’” Job 1:21

 

What blew my mind was not just that he said this immediately after he was in unbearable pain, but also the fact that I had never noticed the next verse:

 

“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job 1:22

 

WHOA.  Let’s pick that apart for a second.  First, God Himself gave me what I desired and what I asked for.  Check.  Next, God Himself took it away.  Unfortunate check.  However, am I entitled because of this to charge God with wrongdoing?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  God showed me that I cannot accuse Him of wrongdoing because He is incapable of doing wrong.

 

With this on my mind, I began to reason and ask Him: “Why then, did You allow me to believe a lie?”  What I say here may surprise you.  I realized that, in that entire nine month process, even though God gave me so many signs and confirmations of my prayers – more than I even asked for, I was never told by God that this guy was my husband.  You may be saying, “Um, yeah, you basically were,” but no, actually, I wasn’t.  You see, I took the signs that God gave me and I ran with them.  I interpreted them how I wanted to interpret them, and I didn’t really leave a lot of room for any other interpretation like: maybe this person was just a good example of a relatively healthy relationship for a season, or maybe there were lessons that I needed to learn in this that I couldn’t learn any other way?

 

Looking back, I realized that there were many times that I could have, with a clear mind, seen why this wasn’t going to work out, but I ignored those things by recalling the signs that God had first given me to lead me into the relationship, which were what I really wanted to hear.  I had stopped listening to what He was saying in the moment.  I had to repent for my unforgiveness towards Him in believing that He had led me astray, and praise the Lord that it was His “kindness” that led me to repentance, not His anger or wrath or judgment against me for being angry.  God understood what I was going through, and He understood my pain.  He was not angry with me for feeling the way I felt.  He just wanted to show me that He had a better way, and if I was willing to truly trust Him and let go, He could show me.

 

Through this I learned that God never, ever deceives us, HOWEVER, God is not afraid of our temporary disillusionment if it leads us into our eternal reward.  Just take a look at the disciples after Jesus died on the cross.  They thought He was dead and gone for three whole days!  However, He was willing to let them think that because He knew how they would ultimately be the most blessed by His raising from the dead.  He not only resurrected Himself and resurrected His disciples as well, but He still resurrects the dead dreams and desires of His children today.

 

I came to the conclusion that if I couldn’t reconcile this experience according to God’s goodness, how could I ever trust Him again?  I needed to KNOW that He was with me in this because even though I was set free from grieving over the person, I still had to grieve the dream.  In the months after this, God spoke to me, cleared my head, and comforted me like never before.  I heard His voice in deeper ways, and I felt His love and peace like never before in my entire life.  He showed me that I cannot resist Him and His love, no matter how hard I try, and even if I have to experience delays or extra development in my dreams, I still want Him more than whatever it is I’m asking Him for.

 

Job didn’t earn his beautiful family and all of his earthly goods due to his own efforts.  They were a gift from God.  And Job didn’t lose his beautiful family and all of his earthly goods due to his own failures.  God was still with him and was not only his comfort during this season, but his restoration.  Job didn’t earn everything back to him in double of what he had before due to his own efforts or piety or goodness either.  It was still a gift from God.  You see, we can never earn any of the things that God gives us, but even if He takes them away, we can trust that He knows what He’s doing.  Maybe He just wants to give us more.  🙂

 

Through this experience, I learned that if I am keeping my hands closed tightly over everything that I have, I will miss being able to embrace the double that He wants to bless me with – not including all of the encouragement of knowing that He is still good and has a purpose even in my most discouraging seasons.  I learned that sometimes healthy relationships don’t end in marriage, while some unhealthy relationships actually do.  Why would I want the latter half to be my story?  Even if I have to wait, or I have to suffer a painful season or two, isn’t receiving what God has for me worth it?

 

You may not always get why things work out the way they do in your life in this area, but whatever you do, don’t blame God.  He is sovereign and He is good, and He is not going to allow anything to happen in your life that has not first gone through His hands – because He is still holding you.  You see, I can think up a billion stories of how I want my life to turn out, but what I really want is the story that God has for me because I know He loves me!  So, I’m still letting Him choose for me, and I’m not saying that is always the easiest decision, but I know that I will see the lasting fruit of it – it will be my life, and I will be amazed.  🙂

 

“The blessing of the Lord—it makes [truly] rich, and He adds no sorrow with it [neither does toiling increase it].” Proverbs 10:22

Here’s to the Ones who Dream (Inspired by La La Land)

I saw the movie La La Land two nights ago, and I absolutely loved it.  I thought it was beautiful, powerful, emotional, theatrical, just all the “uls”; and maybe I’m a sappy romantic, but I totally saw myself in it.  Especially at the end.

 

***Spoiler Alert***

 

Everyone told me to prepare myself for the ending because it was so sad, but for some reason, I felt completely fine once it was over.  It was actually more like the complete and perfect peace of God immediately washed over me.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  The story IS sad.  I mean, who doesn’t love to wonder and dream sometimes about the way things could have been?  It’s a fun alternative to living in the way things are now.

 

But we were created to dream.  We were NOT created to regret.  And dreaming about what could have happened in the past is regret because it is not reality.  It is fantasy.

 

I realized at the end of this movie that, unlike Sebastian, I don’t have to imagine how my life “could have” been or what “could have” happened with sorrow.  Why not?  Because, if I truly want God’s will for my life (and I do), and if I have truly tried to be obedient to His still small voice in all things (I have), what’s in the past is in the past.  I may not have fully understood it, but He saved me from it: particularly in Him cutting people out of my life that weren’t supposed to be there, and in Him leading ME to cut people out of my life that weren’t supposed to be there.  If I have heard His voice and followed Him, what is there to look back on?

 

Regret is a fear-filled word.  Similar to Sebastian’s scenario, it comes from fear and sorrow that you have made a wrong decision.  But wait a second.  Doesn’t the Bible say that God’s perfect love literally casts out fear?  Perfect love casts out fear because fear involves torment (1 John 4:18).  Torment that you’ve done something – anything – to completely alter the trajectory of your entire life.  Things were supposed to go one way, but now, thanks to you, everything is wrong.

 

No.  I’m sorry, but THAT’S wrong.  You are not powerful enough to wreck God’s plans for your life.   How do I know that?  Because He says that His plans are to prosper you, and not to harm you (Jeremiah 29:11).  He also says, “I the Lord do not change; therefore, you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed,” or destroyed by your failures (Malachi 3:6).  No matter what decisions I make, He leads me in the way I should go because I trust in Him (Isaiah 48:17).  Whether I turn to the right or to the left, sincerely trying to follow His will for my life, my ears are going to hear His voice behind me saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).

 

I have a loving God who sees me and knows me.  He knows the desires of my heart, and He not only is intimately acquainted with all of my ways, but He knows the end from the beginning of all that there ever was to know, and His plans for me are good!  Are you kidding me?  To top that, I have His Holy Spirit – God Himself – literally living inside of me, which means I have 100% and 24/7 access to a Resource of wisdom and understanding that is far beyond anything I could ever attain or achieve for myself in this world.  I don’t even have the capacity to figure my future out on my own, yet God not only already KNOWS what is best for me and is leading me into that, but He wants what’s best for me even more than I do.  This means that, if I am living inside of His will, I don’t EVER have to live inside of any regrets.  His ways are higher than my simple ways, and His thoughts are higher than my simple thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).

 

I love the Lord because I don’t ever have to strive to figure things out.  I just get to walk in obedience.  And He doesn’t leave me alone.  When I seek Him, He will always lead me into what I’m supposed to do, where I’m supposed to go, and who I’m supposed to be.  The world will always be afraid of missing it, but I don’t have to be.  My Pastor (Pastor Dustin Bates) sums it up by saying: “What looks like risk to the world, is obedience to God.”

 

I still want to dream, but not in a way that pulls me back into a past that is over and done, and from things that He’s already set me free from.  The reason why I felt God’s perfect peace after watching La La Land, even in the saddest scene, was because He was gently showing me that I am in the center of His will for me and moreover, that He also still protects and blesses those who are not in His will for me.  Therefore, I will continue to be obedient to His voice in all things, I will continue to move forward, and I will continue to dream.  I know that I will see the fruit of it in my future.

 

Blog Pic: Driving past the Dallas skyline