In response to “This Is How We Date Now”

Photo credit: http://www.istockphoto.com/profile/mmeemil

I read this article this morning and it blew me away. The subject matter for one and the beautiful writing for another. It really articulated to me how I feel about dating today. Even more so Christian dating. Perhaps the biggest takeaways were the following:

  1. “We can order up a human being in the same way we can order up pad thai on Seamless.”
  2. “We think opportunity is good. We think the more chances we have, the better. But, it makes everything watered-down. Never mind actually feeling satisfied, we don’t even understand what satisfaction looks like, sounds like, feels like. We’re one foot out the door, because outside that door is more, more, more. We don’t see who’s right in front of our eyes asking to be loved, because no one is asking to be loved.”
  3. Say we find that person we love who loves us. Commitment. Intimacy. “I love you.” We do it. We find it. Then, quickly, we live it for others. We tell people we’re in a relationship on Facebook. We throw our pictures up on Instagram. We become a “we.” We make it seem shiny and perfect because what we choose to share is the highlight reel. We don’t share the 3am fights, the reddened eyes, the tear-stained bedsheets. We don’t write status updates about how their love for us shines a light on where we don’t love ourselves. We don’t tweet 140 characters of sadness when we’re having the kinds of conversations that can make or break the future of our love. This is not what we share. Shiny picture. Happy couple. Love is perfect.
  4. Never before have we had such an incredible cornucopia of markers for what it looks like to live the Best Life Possible.

Wow. Just wow to all of this. So true. So well written. Right?

I find romance in the Christian sphere..somewhat lacking. Okay–REALLY lacking. No one is dating. No one is talking about dating. No one is being clear if they are interested in each other. If people are dating no one calls it dating. If people are on a date no one gives more than a side hug. Now don’t get me wrong here I think there’s a time to be self-controlled but I also think people are watering down relationships. I think you can have boundaries like I’m not willing to be alone with my date, I’m not willing to have sex with my date, etc but that doesn’t mean you can’t be deliberate with your date. Call me crazy but if my future husband is supposed to be the leader but a man cannot take the initiative to ask me out for coffee or to explicitly tell me he is interested in me–I feel like that man is not only not for me–but perhaps not ready to date, period. This goes for ladies too. We’re supposed to guard our hearts, not have them available for take-out.

My next take-away is that in my own personal experience people are unwilling to make a move with a man or woman they are interested in dating because they are sure there is someone better that they could miss out on. I think that’s one of the saddest things to acknowledge. I know plenty of women who feel this way. It’s a valid concern when you are in a church and a lot of young people are already married. The dating pool is smaller and most single women end up liking the same single guys and vice versa. So within that pool people get picky. It’s like “Okay there are 5 single men that I find attractive who I know like me as well but I can afford to choose who has the best job” or for a man “Okay there are three single woman who like me and I find them all interesting, but I saw so-and-so’s new girlfriend who just started coming to church and she’s a model so I’m not going to settle for just what I see now.” Ouch. Granted that might not be the case, but I do think there are so many choices now that people are not making a decision. What’s wrong with taking out that woman that you already have a connection with? After a few dates you might know one of two things: wow I don’t care who else is out there I like her even more or something’s missing, we have some core value differences and I don’t want this to go any further. It’s like going to a restaurant and liking everything on the menu and refusing to order. Ultimately you don’t know if what you order is going to be any good but you are willing to try.

Just speaking personally..I’m willing to try. In church I’ve been willing to try and either the men you are interested in never make a move or make their intentions known, or a guy makes his intentions known and you just want to be friends and then you wonder if this makes all of the single guys scared to try again. I can vouch for myself…I am asking to be loved. I want to be dating. I want to find out if there is anything there with any of the guys over the course of my life in church that I’ve been intrigued by and wanted to know better. I’m sure there are guys who might have felt the same way about me, or felt that way about another woman but never did anything. I think it’s time to stop looking at all the potential choices and just make ONE CHOICE. And go from there. It becomes very indecisive and no one ends up getting anywhere or learning anything.

I also think it’s crucial to discuss social media. Nothing is sacred anymore. You get into a relationship and it’s Facebook official. You have to validate how good your relationship is going by posting occasional updates via selfie on Instagram. If you’re happy great, but I think there’s a fine line between this is your life and it’s private for you and this is your life and you’re opening it up to other people’s consumption as well as approval. I think social media is both great and equally horrible. Great because there’s so many outlets to be creative and horrible because there’s at least one time in your life where you fell into a grief spiral because your life/vacation/selfie/job/outfit/family/whatever was not as mind-blowing as someone else’s. But the reality is that a lot of people are not their true, unattractive, insecure, imperfect selves on social media. So you’re either curating a charmed life or your envying something that isn’t 100% authentic.

One commenter said “1st Thessalonians Ch. 4 speaks of living a simple life, one that doesn’t require the approval and observation of others for us to feel worthy of existence. Your being born IS the validation of your existence. We are here for a long life, and it’s quite alright to be quiet about the way you carry it. I am fighting the daily temptation to seek attention for no good reason, and I am confident it will bring great fruits of joy and peace to my life, even though no one may ‘like’ my accomplishments or ‘comment’ on them”.

Amen. I think we need to all learn to live simpler lives. If a person makes you feel attractive, worthy, light-hearted, and reminds you how good God is—I think you can ask them on a date. I don’t think it needs to be complicated. Sure are there other options out there? Of course. But to never experience a quality person because you’re certain there is better out there is pretty prideful. Don’t think of yourself higher than you ought. Give someone grace enough to go out with for coffee or to have a real face to face conversation instead of leading them on with flirtatious texts and emojis. Don’t feel like a person is take-out. Like I always liked ordering a pizza delivery but I’m holding out for dinner a 5-star restaurant. That’s not cool. Remember that we’re all imperfect, but that we are all worth getting to know. If it doesn’t work out–who cares but we need to stop striving for perfection when the simple things in life are valuable too.

The Bible says:

1 Thessalonians 4 (MSG)

You’re God-Taught

1-3 One final word, friends. We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance. You know the guidelines we laid out for you from the Master Jesus. God wants you to live a pure life.

Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity.

4-5 Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God.

6-7 Don’t run roughshod over the concerns of your brothers and sisters. Their concerns are God’s concerns, and he will take care of them. We’ve warned you about this before. God hasn’t invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life but into something holy and beautiful—as beautiful on the inside as the outside.

If you disregard this advice, you’re not offending your neighbors; you’re rejecting God, who is making you a gift of his Holy Spirit.

9-10 Regarding life together and getting along with each other, you don’t need me to tell you what to do. You’re God-taught in these matters. Just love one another! You’re already good at it; your friends all over the province of Macedonia are the evidence. Keep it up; get better and better at it.

11-12 Stay calm; mind your own business; do your own job. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts. We want you living in a way that will command the respect of outsiders, not lying around sponging off your friends.

I think we get used to hearing “The best is yet to come”. But we should be careful that we don’t abuse it or overlook people because we think there is better out there.

True Love

Proverbs 8:17 (MSG)

12-21 “I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity;
    Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street.
The Fear-of-God means hating Evil,
    whose ways I hate with a passion—
    pride and arrogance and crooked talk.
Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics;
    I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.
With my help, leaders rule,
    and lawmakers legislate fairly;
With my help, governors govern,
    along with all in legitimate authority.
I love those who love me;
    those who look for me find me.
Wealth and Glory accompany me—
    also substantial Honor and a Good Name.
My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary;
    the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.
You can find me on Righteous Road—that’s where I walk—
    at the intersection of Justice Avenue,
Handing out life to those who love me,
    filling their arms with life—armloads of life!

I think sometimes we don’t realize that as humans we might want love but due to past hurts or disappointments or abuse we don’t truly believe we deserve it. God says that He loves those who love Him, and those who look for Him will always find Him. He also first loved us. He made a grand gesture of love by sending Jesus before we even asked for Him. That’s true love.

I really loved Day 19 of my Bible app devotional called “21 Days to a Victorious Life”:

Day 19– How do you recognize true love?

How do you recognize real true love? After being deceived by artificial love, it finally dawned on me. Love is gentle. Love is kind. Love is patient and love is not easily provoked. Love doesn’t seek to hurt, refer to 1 Corinthians 13. I would add, real love uplifts, protects, compliments, and seeks the best no matter what. Love is not perfect, but love is forgiving, love is not always agreeable, but when you truly love, you are always willing to work it out. More importantly, love is more than lust and doesn’t change because of feelings, “True love” loves no matter what!

Real love recognizes real love

Many times people find themselves in relationships that do not demonstrate true love. Whether it is an abusive, ungodly, or hurtful relationship, we have to recognize that this is not of God. Since God is love, our relationships should reflect God’s love through its acts of kindness, loving and supportive thoughts, and kind actions. For God loved us so much, He allowed His only begotten son to suffer and die on the cross for our sins. Although there is no love like the love of God, we should not have to question true love here on earth.

You first must love Him

No relationship can survive without God as the foundation. Yes, it may appear to work for a while, but it will never stand the test of time. Before you can truly love another, you must first fall in love with God. It is through His love that you are able to love one another, and are capable of being loved.

Falling in love with God requires spending time with Him, just as any relationship requires. We have to first get to know God, so that we can understand. His will and desire for our lives. Understanding this concept, I began to seek God each and every day of my life and as a result, fell in love with my creator. I took an hour of my day to

just spend time with Him and hear from Him. This small exercise has given me peace, clarity, and the ability to demonstrate His love through acts of kindness and selflessness. More importantly, it has resulted in a relationship with God that is truly invaluable.

Real relationships aren’t questionable

See, love shouldn’t have to be questioned. Real love does not leave doubt in your mind. So my question for you is do you love to be unloved?

If you find yourself running from true relationships to “counterfeit ones,” ask the Holy Spirit to prepare your heart and mind to be able to receive true love from rightful relationships God has already ordained. Also, ask the Holy Spirit to help you fall in love with yourself. When you truly love yourself, you will also attract real love and remove yourself from relationships that are not of love. Remember, God is love and He wants nothing more for you than real love here on earth!

I think these thoughts are powerful. I’ve only really been in love once and it’s still a tough thing to navigate. I know my love was pure, but there are still conflicting feelings about whether His was or not. Those are things that 99% of the time I successfully lay at the feet of Jesus and let be. But I recall times where I tried to sort this out myself by re-reading old letters or texts and reassuring my own spirit that no matter what happened to me, no matter how bad his actions–I could rest in knowing in his best way he loved me, but he is damaged and made unwise decisions that ate away at my trust and our relationship. I still consider, perhaps ignorantly, that this past relationship was true love–the best of the best love. But I also have to remember that it was simultaneously the worst of the worst. Love never quits, love keeps no record of wrongs, love is gentle and kind. It is important to remember this is why God wants us to be equally yoked with other believers because if our partner does not love God the way they ought to–relationships are banking on human love which will always run short. God’s love never will. You also need to truly love yourself. God makes this pretty clear when He instructs us to love our neighbors as ourselves–this suggests that we already love ourselves—-and if we don’t how can we love someone else?

So allow the Holy Spirit to renew your heart and mind no matter what relationships you’ve had—both good and bad. He is ultimately the best love we can have because unlike humans He has unlimited attention, patience, grace, and love for us. Allow Him to help you love Him and yourself so you are well equipped to love others. We can only attract what we are ready for. Allow God to make you ready.

What is to come

Following Vision Sunday at Hillsong on February 8th I found myself challenged. Our Senior Pastor Brian Houston in Sydney has his own declaration for the global Hillsong family but I want my own declaration and my own personal vision as well. It’s Biblical to have a vision:

Habakkuk 2:2-3 MSG

And then God answered: “Write this.
    Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
    so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
    pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
    And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
    It’s on its way. It will come right on time.

I want to challenge myself to write my own vision which hopefully I will have to post soon. Things that I see lacking, things that I want changed, things I want to improve for myself, etc.

In one of my iPhone devotionals it also challenged me to identify my purpose and what I love to do. This is something that I am still trying to figure out but I think is a good challenge for creating a vision.

From Day 5 of 21 Days to a Victorious Life:

Day 5–Create His vision for your life 
If you want to achieve victory over your life, you have to create a vision. Not only in one area, but create a vision in your careers, relationships, health and in your spiritual walk with God. In the Bible, God says you have the ability to overcome everything according to Romans 8:37. Yes, everything. Most importantly, you have to understand that your life needs balance if you are to reach your true God given potential as well as fulfilling God’s purpose for your life.
There are countless scriptures that encourage creating a vision. They remind us to write our vision down and it shall come to pass and to declare and decree a thing and it will be established.
So, do you need to create a vision for your life? If so, use this method to create a powerful and purposeful vision.
What Do You Love to Do?
After you have an understanding of what you love to do, commit to do more of it. There was a time over the course of the last few years that I found myself moving at my own speed and not at God’s. Because of this my schedule was always busy and while I was making progress, I wasn’t doing what God had purposed for my life.
Take Inventory
Check in with God. Ask Him what His plan and purpose are for your life. God has put wants in your heart to guide you as you carry out your purpose and His plan. Next, take inventory.
As I began to take inventory, I wrote every single task I performed daily on “Post It” notes. I included serving on several accounting and business boards, running a small business, writing and teaching, spending time with family and friends, and other tasks. Then, I separated these daily tasks into two distinct groups:
• WHAT I LOVE TO DO
• WHAT I DO NOT ENJOY
I made a firm commitment to only do what I love to do and move away from tasks that I did not enjoy. And today, my life is finally in a place where I enjoy everything I do!
Don’t Waste Your Time
After identifying my purpose, which I finally realized was educating and writing, I decided that from that point forward I would only work in my purpose. Now, let me warn you, this choice was met with opposition and a cut in pay; but I wholeheartedly trusted in God’s will. However, from that moment, I received several blessings and earned many recognitions and God has restored my pay. Therefore, I know that I am working in His plan.

Please keep me in prayer as I attempt to complete this challenge and identify goals and dreams for the future.

Photo Credit: Hillsong.com

My Love is Jesus

home

Our hearts will never be satisfied to know about Jesus with a head-knowledge and never a heart-knowledge.  Here are two verses I love:

  1. My love is contrary to all you know of “love.” I Love you “even though” and “deeper still.” My love reaches, pursues, remains. (Ps. 36:5)
    1. I understand your pain and heartbreak. And my heart breaks with you. (Is. 53:3)

Jesus loves you. It’s one thing to know that or believe that—but it’s another thing to feel that. Today I pray that everyone reading this will feel His love in a new way.

Photo Captured During Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXNExsXjqYU&list=PLB8Gkthvd4XV5mDm1_9DK30KrfbXMvLAi

Reflect

From Psalm 63 MSG:

It’s time to shout praises! If I’m sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. Because you’ve always stood up for me, I’m free to run and play. I hold on to you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post.

God stands up for us. We live in freedom because He holds us steady. It is because of this radical grace that we can reflect these same qualities to others.

Like it says in 1 Corinthians 13 MSG:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

We can’t see everything exactly as God sees it since we are only human, but we should strive to share the love and freedom and grace that God first gave us.

Found on squarespace.com

Dwell

According to Dictionary.com “dwell” can have a few different meanings:

verb (used without object), dwelt or dwelled, dwelling.
1. to live or stay as a permanent resident; reside.

2.to live or continue in a given condition or state:

to dwell in happiness.

3.to linger over, emphasize, or ponder in thought, speech, or writing (often followed by on or upon):

to dwell on a particular point in an argument.
4.(of a moving tool or machine part) to be motionless for a certain interval during operation.
noun

5. Machinery.

  1. a flat or cylindrical area on a cam for maintaining a follower in certain position during part of a cycle.
  2. a period in a cycle in the operation of a machine or engine during which a given part remains motionless.

As a verb, dwell means to live, stay, linger, ponder, or be motionless. As a noun, dwell refers to a certain amount of time where you either remain motionless in a cycle or an area where a follower is maintained in a certain position.

I like both versions of the word for different reasons. For example the picture I chose today says “dwell in hope”. This is simple to explain just using the verb. You are to live in hope. Stay in hope. Linger in hope. Ponder hope. Be motionless in hope.

But it’s pretty cool to think about dwell as a noun. The second definition of dwell as a noun would make me read “dwell in hope” like a command for a certain amount of time: “this is a time where you must remain motionless in hope”. But what I really find wild is the first definition about maintaining a ‘follower’ in a certain position.

When you talk about Christianity, “follower” is pretty commonplace. I am a “follower” of Christ. But what if I saw this definition of dwell as God maintaining me, causing me to be motionless, ponder, linger, live, and stay in hope–to stay in a position of hopefulness–He maintains us in a certain position during part of a cycle. That could be a season of life. He keep us in a certain position during parts of our lives–to dwell–not with bitterness, confusion, or worry but in hope.

I did some research on Wikipedia because I’m a visual learner and this is what it looks like to dwell:

“A dwell mechanism is an intermittent motion mechanism that alternates forward and return motion with holding position”. One type of dwell is called a “cam” and two things stuck out at me: 1

. “A special case of this cam is constant lead, where the position of the follower is linear”

2. A cam is a rotating or sliding piece in a mechanical linkage used especially in transforming rotary motion into linear motion.

Sounds fancy but what it sounds like is that if I am a dwell mechanism I am moving forward (linear) whereas if Jesus is the cam He is in constant lead and making the action of the motion possible. Furthermore God is the rotating sliding piece–and He takes my rotary motion–or the fact that I as a follower am circling Him–am in orbit of Him–and then transforms that into linear motion. In short because I am in orbit of Him where He goes I go and where do I go? I go forward. If I dwell in hope I dwell in God. If I profess to be a “follower” I trust that God is in constant lead and my position is certain.

Photo from: Etsy.com

Psalm 5:11-12 MSG

Psalm 5:11-12 MSG

But you’ll welcome us with open arms
    when we run for cover to you.
Let the party last all night!
    Stand guard over our celebration.
You are famous, God, for welcoming God-seekers,
    for decking us out in delight.

God is good and He is worthy to be praised. We can dance and party in church knowing that God is alive and lives in us. I think sometime’s Christians can get caught up in what counts as ‘acceptable’ worship music. I think there is a time to reflect in quieter songs, a time to have your heart and pain be healed in a slower ballad, and a time to jump around because we are free. We are allowed to be excited that God is alive and rescued us. Our worship is allowed to reflect different seasons and experiences in life: happiness, grief, confusion, etc. All of these feelings can be handled by God. And all of these feelings can cause us to remember different aspects of God’s goodness.

No matter what God is alive. and we’re allowed to be excited about what Jesus did for us on the cross and what He will continue to do.