On His Love for Me (1 Year sans Purity Ring)

Fourteen year old me went through a pure freedom class (like oh so many others) and at the end did what everyone else did and chose to get a purity ring and make the commitment to go along with it. Sixteen year old me recommitted to the promise and bought a new prettier ring.

Eight years of wearing a ring later, 22 year old me decided to take it off.

I don’t hate my purity ring. In fact, I really don’t hold much resentment towards anything I was taught about it all when I was younger – I don’t feel as though I’ve been hurt because of the popular teachings of the day (though I recognize many were). I’m also not going back on the commitment I made, nor am I necessarily saying other people should stop wearing theirs. The literal only reason I took it off is because I was tired of waiting. Tired of the physical reminder of my single-ness, tired of weighing life decisions by “what if I meet someone?”, and tired of feeling like I was watching my life go by as I sat around.

So I’m still waiting but I’m not waiting. Which has got me to thinking – if I go through my whole life single (which we know can’t be a BAD thing because Paul says so in 1 Corinthians 7), am I missing out? Is God depriving me of something that would make me more complete?

No, I can’t believe that. First, because God is good and has set good plans for me to walk in that will bring him glory (Ephesian 2) – if me being married will bring him more glory, then that’s what will happen. Second, because marriage doesn’t make us more complete as humans – we are still the same messy incomplete humans who are unfulfilled and incomplete without God. So if that is true, then I can I not experience all the fullness and love I need to from God? God IS love after all, so don’t all forms of it come from him?

And so I come to this fall, ruminating on a year without a purity ring, and I find myself pondering the love God has for me. All my married friends tell me about how God uses their marriages to draw them closer to him and experience his love in new ways, So I’ve found myself listening to love songs (because lets be honest, like 95% of all songs ever are about this, and somehow they all ended up on my fall playlist…), and instead of lamenting my life (don’t lie, you know what I’m talking about), I’m trying to see if and how they relate to God and my relationship with him.

It’s been wildly different than doing this with worship songs because I find the secular songs sing about slightly more tangible aspects while worship ones stay really abstract. It’s odd – you would think it makes it easier to put God in a box with the tangible, but singing so abstract-ly sometimes makes him seem so much farther off, rather than close.

It sounds a little unorthodox until you realize that generally what people are singing about and looking for is a missing part of them, a person who understands them, a person who loves all of them, someone who encourages them to be a better person…and last I checked God fills all of those boxes. In fact, he does more. He loves with a passionate love, an endless love, a perfect love, he casts out fear, he is a rock when storms come. His love is fierce and it is tender.

I read a book by Greg Paul called Close Enough to Hear God Breath when I was university (he also wrote God in the Alley, both of which I would recommend). In it, he explores the aspects of “divine intimacy”, and one of the pictures I still remember him describing is God holding us close to him as a father holds his child to his chest and we can hear the softness of his breathing and his whispers to us over the noise of the world. (I would quote him here but my friend has had the book for over 3 years and “doesn’t know where it is”).

One of my standout songs from the last month has been Everywhere by Michelle Branch. It challenges me to think about how God is everywhere around me and in everything I see, but it’s the bridge brings it together for me:

And when I touch your hand
It’s then I understand the beauty that’s within
It’s now that we begin
You always light my way
I hope there never comes a day
No matter where I go
I always feel you so

Is there anything more beautiful than the love God has for us? I am thankful to see the reflection of it in relationships here on earth, but everything is only that – a reflection. A still from picture that lacks the vibrancy, nuances, and life that the real thing has. Seeing the glimpses reminds me that there is more to come. That his love is deeper still. It reminds me that the most important thing to do is to live for him and with him beside me everywhere I go.

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5 points on Friendship

This past Sunday I celebrated my first anniversary at church. A year ago I did a hugely scary thing (for me at least) and left the small church I knew and loved to venture out to a much larger place where I knew absolutely no one and absolutely nothing about the church (except every single word they had on the website). The move was for many reasons, but specifically because I wanted to have the opportunity to build friendships with my peers after graduating and realizing everyone I knew conveniently lived at least 45minutes away…

One of my commonly heard quotes this year was “I have, like, no friends,” (like optional). It was often followed up with someone in the near vicinity responding with a list of friends I do have, spurring clarification on my part to “it doesn’t FEEL like I have friends right now.” Why did I feel that way? Because I wanted someone for every second of every day (not realistic) and someone I could talk to any time about anything (again, not realistic. Really I just needed more Jesus. Moving on.)

In the journey of meeting a lot of new people and reflecting on my anniversary Sunday, I’ve had the opportunity for many thoughts about friendship to percolate in my mind. Specifically, I’ve been considering how building friendships in the body should look like, and so I wrote a blog post about it (#obvi).

While I have had my fair share of friends outside “the body” I think friendship amongst believers is something extra special we get to partake in and it’s what I was really looking for after graduating. There is the added aspect of how our spiritual lives are interconnected as we join together and support each other to build a temple for God (Eph 2:19-22). People we never would have met/become friends with suddenly can become some of the deepest friendships we will ever have.My favourite example of friendship in the Bible is David and Jonathan because even though they were from different places and their life trajectories didn’t exactly mesh, their souls were still knit together. (One was born the heir to the throne but the other one was who God decided would be the next king. #awkward)

So without further ado, here are my 5 thoughts on growing friendships in the body (though some of these are applicable outside the body as well):

1. You aren’t the only one looking for a friend

When I started my new church, I literally knew no one. As in not a soul. (Which was actually incredibly freeing, but thats another thought for another time and blog post). I was kind of terrified to meet people – like if someone says hi to you one week do you assume you can talk to them the next week? Does that mean they’re down to be friends? (I still don’t know the answers).

The cool part for me was realizing (and meeting) people who also didn’t have their friend quota filled … or rather people who were willing and looking for more friends. It was surprising to realize people who had been around longer than I had were still looking for friends (even if it didn’t look super apparent from the outside). The important part was realizing that there were lots of people willing to be friends and start building a friendship, which leads me to point #2…

2. It doesn’t happen right away

You aren’t going to become BFFFFFS with someone right away. Like with anything, it takes time to build up a friendship with someone regardless of the intensity of that friendship. Friendship requires time together, and as we get older it gets harder to find regular time to build those friendships. I find it hard because I roll through a 3 week shift rotation so I can’t commit to doing something on a weekly basis/if someone cancels on me I have to wait a pretty long time to make it up. Maybe for you it’s a different reason, but the fact remains that it can take months+++ for a friendship to grow up from the dust of nothingness. Especially if you’re looking for a deep D+J friendship – if we all just shared our deepest secrets with each other right away they wouldn’t be as deep and special, which kind of ruins your vulnerable/intimate aspect (more on that thought another time, too).

3. It requires both parties to want it

I tried asking someone to meet up a few times and eventually I just stopped asking because I was always the only one initiating, and when we did meet up it felt completely one sided as though they owed me asking all the questions because I asked to meet up. I’m 23 and while I still have a lot of life ahead of me, I don’t have time to try and worm my way into people’s lives. There are other people who need friends too and TBH there is enough humanity to go around for us all to have friends. Yes, it’s annoying to try and make friends only to stay acquaintances, but you can’t be good friends with everyone you know. It takes time (sometimes a lot — see point #2), and sometimes we just have to recognize when it ain’t gonna happen, and open up time for other people. As I mentioned before, you really never know who a friendship will spring up with – and besides, as we’ve already discussed, there are tons people down to hang out and make new friends (point #1).

4. There is more than one model of friendship – and that’s ok

Unless you are the afore mentioned human who never moves and whom’s friends also never move and you and your friend posse do literally everything together, you will eventually have friends that don’t live near you anymore. Are they no longer friends if you can’t see them a few times a week? Some of the friends I see rarely are still some of the closer friendships I have, they just look different. They consist more of social media and occasional text messages and maybe a weekend together every year if we’re lucky. As long as both people are willing to invest in the friendship, however it looks, it can be a good and healthy friendship (and still bring both of you closer to Christ).

4. Friendship does not fulfill what we need.

#guilty of thinking friendship would fulfill the lonely places in my life. Friendship parallels the desire for a relationship here — just because you have a bunch of friends doesn’t mean you won’t feel alone sometimes. We were created to be relational beings, yes, but those relationships are a part of something greater. We are longing for things that can’t be filled by our friendships (or relationships), but we will never find full satisfaction in each other. One day we will have those longings and desires met in our creator, but until then we will still have those longings around us. The important thing I’ve found is to use those feelings to bring me closer to God instead of closer to someone else. I’m especially thankful for the friends who remind me about the most important friendship I have and that it too needs to be fed over time.

5. Just because you haven’t seen the messy part of someone’s life doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

When I was younger I would look at other people and think about how great it would be if I was friends with all of them. My life would be sooooo much better if I was friends with them (aka cool kid syndrome). Even when we’re making new friends, we put our best foot forward to impress and draw people in.

Here’s the problem. If we’re making friends, and I’m talking about true, weathering many seasons, brothers-and-sisters-in-Christ, David-and-Jonathan, joined-together friends, we have to remember that we are all sinners. We are all people with messy lives, struggles we don’t tell everyone, and imperfections we like to gloss over. Just because when you’re starting to get to know someone their life seems put together and perfect doesn’t mean it IS. We all have our own personal epic fails where we let people down, totally botch a task, and blow up in each other’s faces. Becoming deeper friends means that we are vulnerable and share those messes with each other. We tell people about our struggles and we let them have the ability to hurt us. And then when they inevitably do, or we hurt them, we forgive and work through it and continue to grow with each other as we point each other back to God.

 

I don’t know why I love you

Most times you can go online and read someone rant about how movies and music and Hollywood and Disney completely skew the portrayal of what love is supposed to be. We think we’ll find our “true love”, and  in a few days we’ll know they’re “the one” (worked for Romeo and Juliette…). We’ll know because they’ll put up with our crap and check off everything on our “I want list” and make us feel great. If we have awkward silences with them sometimes, they must not be the one (also if you weren’t masquerading around in a dress and talking to cartoon animals, you aren’t a princess). This magical person will fall from the sky and into our lives and then life will be great.

I read an article about how there is no “the one” a few years ago, and that we are surrounded by people who a relationship may work with. Since then I’ve read numerous articles and blog posts about how people didn’t marry the one, their soulmate, their other half … all driving the same point home – this mystical “the one” is complete bogus. It’s completely changed how I look at the friends I have, and makes me pretty cautious about friend zoning anyone. What I find most interesting is that I can look at a few people and think about how our relationship would be like. With some it would be non-stop laughter and hilarity, while with others it would be a calm, steady ship in a wind storm. Every relationship is different and any of them could work. They could. It doesn’t mean they will. There are other variables at play like, you know, feelings. And I would also like to mention that NONE of these people check off every box that I have on my “perfect guy list”, because that guy doesn’t exist. And if he did, I probably wouldn’t like him.

Moving onto the reason I titled this the way I did, I think that some of the Hollywood movies that have come out actually are fair descriptors of what kind of love we should be looking for. Maybe even some Disney ones. My favourite line in a movie is when someone asks their lover (or whatever you want to call them) “Why do you love me?” and the answer comes along the lines of “I don’t know,”or “You make me angry, ticked off, and upset – but I can’t stand being without you” or, if you like 27 Dresses

“I’ve been waiting my whole life for the right guy to come along and then you showed up. And you are nothing like the man I imagined. You’re cynical and cranky and impossible. But the truth is, fighting with you is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And I think there’s a very good chance that I’m falling in love with you.”

I don’t think that we should be looking for someone who checks off everything we’ve ever wanted. I think we should be looking for someone who challenges us, and is a real person. One of my friends just got engaged and when she was talking to me about him, she talked about how he brought out sides of her that she never knew she had. Together, they complimented each other and their strengths and weaknesses worked together. You wouldn’t have put them together out of the blue, but when you see them together you can’t help but believe that love exists.

There are going to be things that we absolutely hate about the person we end up with, along with things that we knew we wanted and will always love. And there will be things that we find in this person that we never thought we would want, but come to love more than anything we thought we would.

Why I hate “Comments” Sections

I really like blogging (hard to believe given the gap between this and the last time I posted … I should fix that). And I love how the internet these days has been giving people the ability and confidence to express their opinions on things. I can read an article about how awesome Pascal from Tangled is, or I can read someone’s opinion on being a vegan for a few days. My favourite part is when I can share an article with someone I know and have a discussion about it and how it may be relating to our lives.

So I finish reading an article and I’m starting to critically think about what I read and form my opinions on agreement or disagreeing, and then I think “Hey I wonder what other people thought!” Lo and behold, ye section of comments is here to save the day with an argument about people who agree or not. Thank you for having an online argument with people you’ve never met before! It’s so exciting to verbally bash each other without proper expression of emotions while hiding behind our screens. It takes so much courage to post on there how utterly wrong they are in a way that can come of lovingly or hatefully depending on the mood of the person who reads it. And I’m sure that person you just tried to blow out of the water appreciates it. They totally saw the error in their ways.

And now I’m left leaving the article completely confused about what I just read, it’s validity, and what I actually think about it. Who needs a university degree anyway? I now know some half-formulated arguments from random people, so obviously I don’t need to bother learning how to think critically. Why learn to think for myself when I can just let other people hash it out for me? I’ll just wait for the official statement to come out on which subjective opinion based side was right, and go from there.

Honestly. We’re going to disagree about things. Part of the internet’s beauty is that I CAN write about Olaf the snowman, my love for radiant orchid, and how much I really want sweet potato fries right now. It’s called expressing myself. Either we let people do that, or we don’t. It doesn’t make sense to me to go and rebuke someone online that you can’t see and have a conversation with. Online conversations I have with people I KNOW often end up in disputes and upset friends, so how is having one with a stranger going to be any different?

I’m not saying that comments sections are all bad. There can be some great conversations that happen, and adding points to things, expressing how you enjoyed something … but if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Or at least discuss it to someone’s face so you can work it out.

Facades & Nail Polish

I did my nails in a French manicure the other day for an industry event. Now it’s half falling off but I keep forgetting to grab the nail polish remover. However ugly I think it might look to see the pretty (and fake) nails juxtaposed to the original (and slightly dirty – how do people keep their nails clean? I just don’t get it) got me thinking though.

French Manicure

I painted an picture of what I wish my hands looked like overtop of what they actually are. This is similar to the image I try to paint around myself sometimes (who am I kidding, a lot of the time) when I’m talking to someone or getting to know people. “You don’t like country? K me neither……”

But is that really ok? Do I want people to know me, or a fake version of me?

I’m not saying we should be hanging out dirty laundry out for everyone to see it (please don’t), but I do think that we can be avoiding the joy of having someone know who we really are and still liking us. We forget that we can be pretty awesome people just by ourselves. I dared myself this fall to not text one of my friends unless what I was saying was legitimately what I would have said in real life if I wasn’t afraid of being judged for what I really thought. It’s really hard. But they’re still my friend (I think?) and it encourages me to continue to have the same vulnerability and honesty with other people in my life.

But I think this needs to be taken a step farther.

As hard as I try, I know I still slip up and cover up parts of me I’m ashamed of or think would be best left unseen (bear in mind there are still some things you probably shouldn’t share with everyone). But I know still that there is one who does see behind my facades, Every. Single. Time. The fact that God can see everything about me and still chooses to love me is just astounding sometimes.

I read Lamentations this morning, and I was reflecting on the acknowledgement of our sins. We can put up walls and masks that other people never see through, but God can still see through them. He can still see the ugliness inside, and he loves anyway. He sent his son to earth to die for me. He came to die for the sinner, not the righteous (Mark 2:17).

If having a person know things about me encourages being me, then knowing that God loves me even still is more so.There is such freedom in knowing that you are loved for who you really are. It goes beyond loving yourself and moves to the desire to be better and strive for godliness. We are loved when we succeed, and loved when we fail. And we can rest in knowing this as we try to do what we are called to do.

I hope that this realization empowers you to be you today; and to be a better you, relying on his strength, tomorrow.

Taking My Faith Seriously

To be completely honest, I have grown to dislike that statement. A lot. Not because I think its bad to take your faith seriously, but because I think that it can devalue your faith prior to this point (also the two words don’t even really go together …)

First off, if I have faith in something, I’m pretty sure I’m taking it seriously. Its sort of hard to have faith and not take it seriously … because then its not exactly faith – its just words. Faith is “complete trust or confidence in something or someone”. If I don’t “seriously” have faith … then I’m not completely trusting … which means that I don’t have faith at all.

Typically, this phrase is used when someone who grew up in the church share their testimony. “I was born .. blah blah blah … I never understood what I believed … blah blah blah … then I decided to take my faith seriously :D”. I”m not saying that its impossible for you to reach a point in your life where you decide to do certain things in response to faith. In fact, that is important in the steps of maturing and journeying in faith.

My problem is when people think that they weren’t saved until they reached university, had quiet times, learned all about theology and evangelized to some people. This is like me saying that because the 8-year-old girl who I witnessed accept Christ at camp this summer isn’t “taking her faith seriously” because she can’t recite the gospel in 4 points and she doesn’t have routine set up for reading her Bible before she goes to school. The “serious” faith of a 5-year-old looks a LOT different than the “serious” faith of a 20-year-old.

I personally don’t think that going through periods of doubt means that you are suddenly unsaved. In fact, some people only doubt what they DO believe. In fact, I think that everyone who grows up in the church DOES doubt at some point. It is then that their faith becomes more mature. Not necessarily because they took it seriously. I took my faith seriously when I was younger – but I didn’t have personal quiet times every day when I was 6.

The growth of the walk with Christ is not something that just happens suddenly. It is a constant journey forward. And last time I checked, when you’re on a journey it is never perfect. Things go wrong. Things mess up. You mess up. I mess up. Even people who currently “take their faith seriously” have times when they just completely fall off the wagon.

So, instead of using the term “taking my faith seriously” why don’t we say something along the lines of “I started to understand better what I believed in” or “God started showing me that even though I said I believed in him, I needed to act like it” and stop contradicting ourselves.

What Twilight Actually Taught Me

Just to clear the air a little for you, this is not a sarcastic post. I’m 100% serious.

So I started reading the Twilight saga when I was in 10th grade. And truth be told, I totally fell for the “ERMAGOODNESSIWANNABEAVAMPIREEEE” thing for a little bit. This probably comes as a surprise to most people who think I have “better taste” in books, but there was something about the story that made me finish. Yea, I could do without book 2, thats a little to angsty for me, but i can still enjoy the other three (books) four (movies). Which brings me to the point of why I’m writing this.

This weekend, everything about Twilight will come to an end (unless Meyer goes and writes those books in Edward’s point of view. I can still dream, right?).  So, obviously, I’m going to go see it. But as I was thinking about Twilight and hearing about it and seeing it pop up everywhere etc. etc. etc. I realized that there are 2 things I’ve learned from Twilight – or rather that it inspires in me. They are inter-related, but here they are.

1. Marriage is a partnership

One of the most striking lines in Breaking Dawn Pt 1 (coincidentally,my other favourite line is in the next point) is when Edward is talking to Bella after they find out she’s probably going to die while delivering their child. He’s ticked, and that’s not surprising. He doesn’t want to lose his wife – and he has no choice because “she decided all on her own.” They were supposed to be a partnership (which means you decide things together). They clearly didn’t here. If you know the story, you know Edward isn’t a saint here either, but the point is … lack of communication = failure of marriage. You don’t just coexist, you are walking together. You don’t just walk around with your significant other. You (quite often in today’s society) hold hands. You talk to each other. You don’t just walk for 5 miles silently ignoring them (unless its a prayer walk … or you’re REALLY angry). The partnership created through marriage is two people becoming one. Not two people becoming two people who exist slightly closer together.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Gen 2:24, ESV)

Comprendez-vous? Going in thinking its all about you is not going to work. Ever. And hey – thats not easy! But look at that, Bella and Edward prove it isn’t.

Granted, most of us don’t have a vampire trying to exact vengeance by killing us, but we still have problems. The problem arises when we assume that because something is going wrong, we clearly weren’t meant to be together. Life isn’t handed to us on a silver platter. Neither is it in Twilight. Relationships take work – hard work. They require constant nurturing and growth – which only comes when time and energy is invested in it. Being in a partnership means that when your partner is in danger, you protect them. It means that they are celebrating, you celebrate with them. It means that when they have a vampire growing inside of them and they want to carry it to term, you do everything you can to help them (ok, that last comment was a little sarcastic).

2. No one is perfect – and that means no Fairy Tale Endings

And so we move to my other favourite quote (also said by Edward)

“Its an extraordinary thing to meet someone who you can bare yourself to; who will accept you for what you are. I’ve been waiting for what seems like for a very long time to get beyond what I am – and with Bella I feel I could finally begin. So I’d like to propose a toast to my beautiful bride: ‘No measure of time with you would be long enough, but why don’t we start with forever.'”

I feel like all too often we are searching for the perfect person.We want the perfect fairy tale ending. We literally want to have the Cinderella/Ariel/Belle/Mulan/Jasmine/Bella ending. And we think that culmination of our lives is finding this person and being with them forever. But we forget that no one EVER is going to be our perfect person. Sort of like Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind”. Man was she obsessed with Ashley – or rather the thought of who Ashley was. And then at the end she realizes that she “loved something that didn’t exist”. Nice job Scarlet.

But back to the point, I think that all too often we get caught up in the fairy tale ending, and constantly search for something that will just be perfect in our lives. But that is completely unrealistic. Bella’s life isn’t perfect. She’s a vampire for heaven’s sake. Plus, she didn’t just have it handed to her on a silver platter. Sure, Bella is immortal, with Edward forever, has a baby, has a best friend (who is coincidentally in love with her baby…), and gets to stay in contact with her dad. Sounds like she’s got it made, right? Uhm, did you forget she had a mom? Oh, and she ALSO had to make it through 4 books to get there? While Twilight is steeped in happy endings and “perfection”, there are still things that go wrong.

Even Twilight doesn’t have a perfect ending.

Yes, I understand how so much of Twilight and any other Tween/Teen/Adult Romance novel/book/movie makes it seem like life is perfect once you find your perfect match person … but I’d just like to point out that we usually ignore the two hours of screen play before that ending.

Do I still hope that I’ll find someone I’ll marry one day? Uh, yes. But hey – I know better than to expect my life will end up like these perfect princess stories. I also know with fair certainty I’m not turning into a vampire any time soon. But anyway,  herein lies my rant on Twilight’s redeeming qualities. Not too many, but enough to remind me of what I’m waiting for.

Be the Change

I was sitting reviewing for my midterm tomorrow (yes, on a Saturday. I don’t know why), and I noticed a tweet from the “Official Thousand Foot Krutch” feed. It wasn’t particularly a super life-changing one, because it was just the theme from their last album. They have a LOT of tweets like it, but this one just hit me. Probably because of the A. the song I was listening to, and B. the simplicity of the tweet.

@OfficialTFK: #bethechange

See? I told you it was simple. But it just resounded so much within me that I stopped studying to write this.

It is SO easy to look at people around us and condemn them for what they are doing. However, it is just as easy to sit around and talk about our thoughts, good intentions, and ideals on what we should be doing as Christians. But are you being the change you so desperately want to see?

I think this is appropriate for this time, because of these wonderful elections we have coming up. Living in Canada, I don’t get to vote (and neither does anyone else here, but does that stop everyone from following it? Oh no, sure does not). If we complain about how our country is falling apart, morals are going down the drain, this guy will be better than this guy because he endorses _____, _________, and _______. Who cares? Regardless of who you elect, your country is STILL going to be going on the same path! A country is made of its leader, yes, but it is also made of the people within it. The population as of July 2011 was 311,591,917. So, with super complicated math, if you subtract the one president and then make a ratio, you get this.

1:311,591,916

Yea. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think that if you go out and try to change things you see that are wrong and investing in the lives of the population, the country might fare a little better. You can wait for the government to change things so they’re “right” or you can go out and Be the Change.

Being the Change requires action. Action requires doing something, not just sitting there talking about it. If I’m being completely honest, I’m not working to change things that I want to see fixed. I definitely fall into the “sitting around talking about things” type of people. But I also know that I can Be a Change that I want to see.

Do I know how? No. But I know that if I start taking steps towards this, I’ll get there eventually. Life is a process, is it not?

Live Your Life

Well hello

No, this is not going to be about embracing self and YOLO and Carpe Diem.
Clearly I do not endorse YOLO (unless its the Messy Monday video about it, or you are from camp).

I’ve been really thinking about what it means to live your life for Christ. To really, truly, live your life for him. And honestly, I usually get stuck on the “live” part. Living my life for Christ has to mean more than reading my Bible and praying everyday. I mean, Jesus did more than just read scrolls all day, didn’t he?

Just my luck, I’ve been hearing quite a few messages about this exact precise topic. Clearly God is trying to teach me something. So I will share with you my findings, and what I’m processing …

If living my life for Christ means that every moment of my life is for him, then that means that every moment is for him. That includes my time in class, my time with people, and my free time. In Micah 6:8 it says

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

If it is GOOD to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God, then I better get doing that, right? But what does it MEAN?

Well … in my opinion it means a few things

1. Willingly giving up things in your life for other people. Whether that is time, money, or things. Jesus cared for the orphan, the widow, the poor. I have to ask myself – am I caring for them? Or am I too caught up in myself…
2. Be forgiving. If my life, if I want to show God in my actions, it means that I want to show people that God is the be-all-end-all of my life. That means that he is everything – so nothing else matters more. Including holding grudges. If I’m holding onto something that upset me, then I am not holding onto God.
3. Be humble. So … easier said than done, I think. To me, this just means to daily realize that I fail. Not always so easy either, but realizing that I am not perfect, and there is no way for me to live my life alone. Relying on God to me means more than waiting until I’m broken and lost and calling out to him. It means that I’m letting him take me everywhere I go. It means that he’s going with me to class, with me to eat lunch. Never alone, and always dependant.

So, really, what I’m trying to get at with this post … it isn’t just about learning all the correct theology, knowing the right answers, and winning debates. Its about living your life. My dad said something his pastor said this past week, and I”ll try and get it right (I think its where I heard it):

“Would you rather be a simple person who knows God, or an intelligent person who knows about God”

Something along those lines.

Honestly, I think I would like to be the former. Knowing God’s grace instead of knowing about it. And, to be honest, I don’t have everything figured out as to how I’m supposed to be “living my life”. I just know that I need to change some things and live it, not just walk through it.

Keeping the sacred Sacred

sa·cred/ˈsākrid/:: Adjective:
1. Connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration: “sacred rites”.
2. Religious rather than secular.

Ok, not gonna lie, that definition is slightly lacking. However, it is a good base to start with. We obviously know that God is sacred and anything related to him/the church/religion is sacred (or at least supposed to be). When something is sacred, we treat it with our utmost respect. We revere it. We try our best to keep it pure and protect it from prying eyes and nosey-busy-bodies.

So what did I mean by saying that the above definition was lacking? I meant simply this: it didn’t tell us practically what is sacred. Now, I didn’t expect it to either. It did an excellent job of generalizing the term as it relates to everyone. So I will put one thing on the list of what I think is sacred (and, coincidentally, connected with God).

Our heart.

You know – that muscle that pumps blood to our body. The thing that aches when we are hurt by someone, and the thing that makes us feel like we could fly when something goes right. So how do you keep your heart, which is our most intimate thing (it is, in essence, who we are!) sacred?

Before I talk about it, I suppose I should say why I’m talking about this. Lately (and by lately I mean over the past few months) I realized that I was emotionally invested in way too many people in my life. I was putting a lot of time into friendships and openly sharing my struggles with a whole list of people under the banner of “we’re brothers and sisters – we should carry each other’s burdens”. Now this is a true statement, I just took it a little too far…

I’m not going to say “don’t tell anyone about what you’re struggling with”. I think that is ridiculous. We are relational beings – we need support systems. What I AM going to say is this: we should be careful how much we tell and to whom we tell it.

Remember I said I was emotionally invested? This is how it started. I would be lonely and depressed, and then I would wonder why no one was talking to me. Then, I would find someone and end up pouring out everything I was thinking about. I used to think this was fine. I started to get some close friends. But THEN I realized that some of the friendships I had were no longer casual friendships. They were creeping into the realms of intimate, deep friendships. And worst of all, the ones with my brothers  were starting to venture, for me, into the mysterious gray area of “wait, are we … more than friends?”. Needless to say, I realized something was wrong.

I decided, through a lot of thinking while away at camp, that I had invested way too much of my heart into other people. I wanted to have a perfect friendship – no scratch that. I wanted a perfect relationship with someone who would always talk with me and be everything I wanted. I wanted it so much I was trying to get it without committing to someone. And by doing so I was only hurting myself.

I decided that enough was enough, and that I needed to keep my heart and my deepest dreams, hopes, and thoughts a secret. They are so special to me, and I cherish them. They aren’t things that just anyone can hear and hold onto – these things are special and should be saved. My heart is one of the most sacred things I have in my relationship with God and with my future husband. How can I look him in the eye one day and say “here’s my heart. You get all of it” when my whole life I rationed away parts of it?

Maybe I’m rambling, and maybe I sound like a million other blogs, but I really believe these things. I want to be able to have a parts of me that are special – parts of me that are only found out after spending time actually trying to get to know me. I am a complex person – really we all are – and I want to embrace that.

And the best part is that through protecting my heart and keeping it sacred I am bringing glory to God. What else could a girl ask for? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.