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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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.

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.

Rely and Encourage (2 Thessalonians 3)

Even in the event of someone not following what they were told and leeching off of other people, the Thessalonians are told to still approach them like a brother, not an enemy. Yes, they begin to distance themselves to hope that he begins to understand and see the err in his ways, but they do not consider him to be an enemy of them

Again, Paul refers to God being the centre of everything because it is him who directs our thoughts and paths. It amazes me that he has such faith that it is evident in every single thing he says that we should be relying on him to help us.

Brotherly Love (1 Thessalonians 3-4)

It is super encouraging to read these chapters. The excitement Paul has that the believers have remained in the faith and that he gets to continue to encourage them is easy to see. I love that the encouragement tells them what to do, but also commends them for what they are already doing. Also the fact that they are known for their brotherly love which they learned from God. It is great that they have this base because it makes all the other things they’re told to do easier. When we have a community of brotherly love, we are able to continue to strive together to live the lives we are called to, to be transparent with each other, and to challenge each other. Bravo Thessalonica, Bravo.

Love (Romans 13-14)

Paul continues his exposition as he moves into how we should live. I have to say that while I like reading the way he describes all these things and the ideals behind them, it’s also a little convicting when you realize you aren’t living all of these out.

Today my stand out is where Paul tells us that we need to love each other. Love was my word of my Springhill Summer, and seeing it here is kind of cool. I’m trying to take the lessons in serving others and being selfless into real life, and this reminder is key. It’s hard to love your neighbour as yourself, but at the same time, it fulfils the law and sets us apart from the rest of the world that is not walking in Christ.

The Last Instructions (John 13-14)

I see the caring side of Jesus in these chapters. First off, he shows incredible humility in washing all the disciples feet – even that of Judas. He sets the example of serving one another and then instructs his disciples, and us by extension, to serve each other. These last commandments he is giving benefit our lives and relationships deeply.

Moving on, he continues to lovingly press his points. Love on another. Do not be troubled or afraid just because you don’t know where I’m going. And then he promises the Holy Spirit, a helper to be with them always.

Even though I’m pretty sure if I was Jesus I would have been freaking out right about now, he puts himself and his problems away, and instead cares for those who need his gentle reminders. Who else does that? The more John unfolds his story, the more appealing Jesus becomes. It literally is like he is the perfect person.

As a side note, sometimes I think the disciples are dumb. I mean, he said the one he gave the bread to would betray him. Duh?

Two Sides (Luke 11-12)

So … I’m about to read half of Luke and blog about it seven times! I was on vacation last week, so I’m now going to to an epic catch up on bootcamp. And then maybe do a regular post after. We’ll see how I’m feeling.

It’s hard to write about Luke because it’s so long.

Luke 12:4-7 is really good at showing two “sides” if you will, of God. Firstly, he has the power to kill and send to hell. Not very pleasant, but necessary. This passage is telling us not to fear those who may persecute us etc. but sometimes I feel like I can fit into the person who is causing others to be afraid. There is distinct fear of God that a lot of OT people had, and this would definitely feed into my fear factor. However, Jesus follows up by reminding us that he loves us enough to know the number of hairs on our head. Now my hair is blond, which means it’s a little finer in size, and its thick so I have a lot of strand os hair. It also sheds like no other, so even if I counted the hairs on my head once, it would be wrong later because it is always changing. Also, I don’t think I love anyone enough to want to know so much about them that the number of hairs they have on their head matters to me. It’s kind of mind blowing that that kind of love exists.

Lovely Soldiers (1 Corinthians 15-16)

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

My focus of today’s reading…

Paul includes this as part of the last sentiments he sends to the church in Corinth in this letter. I think it aptly sums up what we should be doing in our day to day lives as well. I just talked about love the other day, so I find it appropriate that he includes it here. It is sort of the “soft” part of the command, and the “hard” part is that we must be watchful and stand firm. Gentle, caring actions contrasted with ones that more befit a soldier. But that’s just it – we are supposed to be both! We cannot neglect either aspect of our calling as they intertwine together to make a balanced whole. Lovingly, we act out what God has commanded us as we remember the faith which we stand upon. All other ground is sinking sand.

Love (1 Corinthians 13-14)

Having recently done a whole project for this bootcamp thing on tongues/1 Corinthians 12-14 … I’m going to go ahead and just talk about chapter 13.

My first year at camp I found this Max Lucado book in the Dollar General (weird, right?), and decided to buy it to use for my personal devotions while at camp. It’s called “A Love Worth Giving”. It was really good and super challenging at that time in my life. This passage in Corinthians is where he bases most of the book off of. I still remember the forward of the book (I think it was the forward) where he talks about how when he reads verses 4-7, he puts his name in. I tried it, and it was (and still is) a little horrifying to think of. Let me demonstrate:

“Christy is patient and kind; Christy does not envy or boast, she is not arrogant or rude.” etc.

When I think about that, I am reminded that I still have so much room to grow to have a love that is worth giving to others.

However discouraging it is that I’m not “there”, it is encouraging to remember that God IS. He IS patient and kind, does not envy or boast, he is not arrogant or rude. He his holy and he deserves all my praise and worship. He deserves my striving to become more like him every day; in love.