Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Single Life Series: Your Desperate Need For Me

Whether I was having a good day or bad days there was one thing that I wished for: a husband. When things seemed to be going well, or better, my immediate thought would be that I wished I had someone with me to share it with, to celebrate with me. When things were not going well I would always think that it would be more bearable if someone was there for me to talk to, or cry on his shoulder and hear him tell me it was going to be okay.  That was on the surface though, but God knew the very intent of my heart in those times of thinking that having a husband with me would make things better or easier. I also used to complain about the fact that I had to go through so much hard stuff alone. I really was surprised at how hard life could be on me, a single mother. I don't know. I guess I assumed that my trials would not be as strong as the trials of a man and when the weight of the things I was going through would sit on me, I often said to God, "This feels like something a MAN should have to deal with!  I'm a WOMAN and a woman shouldn't have to deal with this kind of stuff! This is too much!  I ain't no MAN!" I couldn't believe the Lord was allowing things to happen to me on the level that they were happening. And then to top it off He didn't even give me a husband to help carry the load?! This was some bull!

But one day the Lord answered my cry for help, or complaint, whatever it actually was, maybe both. He said, "Having a husband won't diminish your desperate need for me. You think that if you have a husband you won't need me as much but you will, and so will he.  As a matter of fact, he needs me as much as you do and when he marries you and takes on you and your daughters he will feel that he needs me even more because he becomes responsible for more. He will be crying out to me even more. No matter how anointed he is he will still need me desperately as you will. When you get married your husband won't always be there for you.  He may be at work when you need him or he may be away with ministry. He might be right there with you and still not understand what you're dealing with or how you feel, so you will still need me."  
Well shut my mouth. Wow.

Is there something or someone that you are hoping or wishing for, because you think that when it shows up, you will suddenly have to pray less, or spend less time seeking after God? Do you believe like I did, that a good husband or wife, will ease your need for God? As much as we all need money to run our households and take care of our families, do you think that a big enough income will lessen your need for God? Or as He put it, "your desperate need" for Him?  Look at this definition of the word, desperate.

DESPERATE: 1. reckless or dangerous because of despairhopelessness, or urgency 2.having an urgent need, desire, etc. 3.leaving little or no 
hope; very serious or dangerous:

This is how serious our need for God is.  Without Him guiding and protecting us our lives would be reckless, hopeless. Our need for Him is always urgent and a serious matter. This isn't something that a human can come along and love you enough to do away with. There is comfort to be found in human touch, friendship, and companionship, even the love of a faithful spouse. But for all that they do they will never "diminish our desperate need for God". We must never make the mistake of believing that something or someone can serve as a substitute for the real thing. How many times have you hoped, wished, prayed for something, only to receive it and feel like something was still missing? This is because of the void, the hole that God placed in our hearts for Himself when He created us. It will never be satisfied by anything or anyone other them Him. We must never forget or become confused about where our help comes from. Our help comes from the LORD!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

somebody almost ran off with all of my stuff

I think it might be my all time favorite poem or performance of any poem.
Was it really the devil that stole your stuff or was it some person? (because men get their stuff taken too)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

SINGLE LIFE SERIES: Why Would God Send You Back?

By the time I walked out of that marriage I felt like the Lord was standing at the door next to my bags, waiting to escort me out. It was this experience that taught me that the as long as I was willing to stay, He helped me and gave me grace. When it became clear that I was the only one really putting forth the effort to try and create a truly healthy marriage, and I felt released to leave, and I decided I wanted to live instead of continuing to die that slow death, He supported me and gave me grace. I have told people that when I left I was running for my life. Not because I had been being physically abused but because I was dying on the inside. The life and strength had almost completely been drained from my body.

Even so, because of my background and upbringing, I still had this fear that "God will make me go back".  I knew how I was raised and what our beliefs were. I was well aware of the teaching I had sat under my whole life. Even in my separation I was subjected to things being said in church services that were directed at me personally. I was spoken to more than once about going back, but I knew I couldn't if I wanted to live. It was very difficult for a while but like I said, God gave me grace to go through it. Even with the grace that had been extended to me to make it through I would have thoughts of "What if God tells me to go back? I'll have to do it if He tells me to!"  It worried me to the point that I even had nightmares about it. The feeling of dread and doom in those dreams was so real. I was so glad to wake up after each one! 

I sat in my pastor's office about 3 months or so after the separation and I expressed this concern to him.  He said something to me that set me free from that fear. He said to me, "Why would God send you back into a situation that hasn't changed?" I received so much validation from this. It let me know that whatever he believed at first about my separation, he had seen enough to know that nothing had changed for the better, and certainly not enough for me to feel like I could or should go back.  It let me know that I wasn't alone. Somebody saw me, and at some point had gotten a good clear look at what I had been dealing with. 

Well that conversation took a load off my chest and helped me to stop worrying about whether or not I would find myself having to walk back into that house. It let me know that I didn't have to and that doing so would return me to what I had been set free from. I will be very honest with you though, and tell you that it took years to stop having those bad dreams. I left that house in 1999 and I'm pretty sure that it was about 2013 or early 2014 before I had my last nightmare about it. Mind you, he remarried several years after our divorce but the bad dreams continued even past that point. 

Many people were raised in an environment similar to mine, that taught that you work it out or work on it no matter what.  In many cases it leaves one person doing pretty much all the work to salvage a relationship or create a healthy one while the other one continues to do whatever it is they've been doing.  It is so frustrating and hurtful to want more out of life and to be bound to someone who feels like whatever they have at the moment is enough.  This can create such a tug of war in the home and in your mind and emotions.  It can cause one to be very suspicious of the other. It can bring every insecurity to the surface and it can literally be a source of torment for the one whose heart and soul is crying out for more. Not to mention if there is some form of abuse happening.

I just want to share with you what was shared with me. I don't care who may be butting in where they really don't belong.  I don't care what they've seen before or what is going on or has happened in their own life. They are not you and their situation is not the same as yours. Even if it is very similar, you are different people, so they are in no position to tell you to "go back home", or to keep trying, or what you ought to be doing.  One person can only do so much without the help of the other to make a peaceful home. 

Some people will even lie on God by putting Him into what they are trying to convince you of. They'll even have dreams and feel that they need to share with you what "God showed them about your situation".  This is why it's very important to quiet yourself so that you can continue to hear Him clearly.  Shut out every other voice and stay before Him so that you can grow in your sensitivity to Him and His leading. You may be dealing with what I dealt with, people saying things publicly directing their comments toward you. One man in particular who did this to me didn't realize that his own wife was watching me, admiring my strength, and filed for divorce from him just a few years after my divorce. He had no clue that his own house was torn in two while he was throwing instructions to me in the microphone from across the sanctuary. Another young minister sat down with me sharing with me how the Lord helped him to love his wife after he had felt like they shouldn't be together. Some years later I found out that they were no longer together and I'll leave it at that. Don't be deceived into second-guessing yourself by people who may not realize that their own marriage is on life support.

Don't fall for the okie doke. Look at the situation and see it for exactly what it is. Don't see it for what you hoped it would be, what you know it should be, what it started out as, or even what the bible says it's supposed to be.  See it for WHAT IT IS and deal with it accordingly. If you know it hasn't changed, ask yourself the same question that was asked me, "Why would God send me back into a situation that hasn't changed?" Did He not rescue you out of it? Have you not felt Him holding you together when you would have fallen apart without Him?  
I'm not saying that no separation can be worked out so that the relationship can be saved and even made better. I know two couples that were divorced for up to two years but the marriages were healed and restored when the necessary changes were made for the better. They are more in love now than ever. Many couples have survived affairs and other types of abuse.  But it wasn't without major change. Whatever you do, don't look at it and see the same behavior that sent you packing, and still go back for whatever reason. And please don't blame God if you do, for He has called us to peace.

There is a saying, "Your ex is your ex for a reason." Even if you're tempted to go back for whatever reason, think about why you left and ask yourself if it's worth it to go back to the same situation. God doesn't operate in fear so if you're afraid that you might have to return to it, let that be a sure sign that it's NOT coming from Him. Walk in your freedom. Enjoy your peace of mind. Allow Him to complete the work in you that He started that work before you even walked away from that unhealthy relationship. That season ended but a much better one has begun. Let Him show you!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

SINGLE LIFE SERIES: The Kind of Man You've Asked Me For Won't Tolerate That

Often when you go to God and ask Him to help you with something, or ask Him for something, He will begin to talk to you about things that seem to be completely unrelated to what you asked Him about or asked Him for!  He's not crazy. He didn't change the subject. He heard you. He IS answering you.  He's trying to teach you that there is a LOT more involved than what you may think, and until you allow Him to reveal those things to you, you will never be in a position to receive what you've asked for. This is especially important for Single Christians to learn.

I've had my "list" as I'm sure most other singles who desire marriage have had. Attractive. Sense of humor. Certain height. Certain build. Love God. Respectful. Strong communicator. Romantic. He has to be this or that, or not this and certainly not that. He should at least do or have this or that. I need him to be able to do such and such at least sometimes.  These are pretty generic desires that if you were to look at every woman's list, they would be on it.  As I grew in my relationship with God and learned more about Him and myself, my list changed and so did my "type".  Some things ceased to be as important to me as they had been before. I even became more specific about some things that I hadn't thought of before, because I didn't know myself as well.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who has made adjustments to my list over time. Then again there may be others who made one list and never had to change a thing, and you received the desires of your heart. Whether you write it out and tuck it under your mattress like one young lady told me she did, or whether you sleep with it under your pillow, keep it in a notebook, or whether you carry it around in your bible or carry it in your heart, you have your "list". 

I believe that a major mistake many people make is that after we make our list, we set about finding someone who only fits that list.  We think that if he or she shows up and we see something that we didn't list, that must not be the right person. We even go so far as to keep telling ourselves and each other not to settle for less than what we asked God for. Let me pause and say this as a reminder to those of us who believe: When God answers prayers He never stops at just what we asked.  Even the scriptures refer to Him as the one who "is able to to exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20) so that should be enough to let us know that when the answer to prayer shows up it will always be more than we imagined when we prayed, and actually may not look quite like what we imagined. People are often accused of being too picky when it comes to choosing who they feel is right for them.  The sad thing about our pickiness is that it can have the opposite effect of what we think. Being too picky sometimes leads us to settle for less when we think that we are not settling at all by holding out for the better. Being too picky keeps us more narrow minded than we believe we are.  It actually keeps us from the "exceeding abundantly above" that God has for us in a mate. We limit ourselves to our list, not understanding that the person who fits God's plan for our lives is that list and a whole lot more. 

We limit ourselves to specific characteristics not understanding that a whole person is a person of a certain character. People don't operate in individual characteristics. Those characteristics pour out of a full character, a whole person who is living a certain way of life. This brings me to the next thing that I want to share with you that God said to me. 

I had been talking so much to the Lord about what I wanted in a mate.  I was so specific about everything I could think of, not wanting to leave anything to chance. I was also very stubborn in my heart toward God because of my frustrations with Him. I had a habit of back-talking Him about what I felt about how He was handling things for me.  I always seemed to have something to say before I got around to doing what He wanted. It was easy for me to express my disagreement with His process, to let Him know that I'd expected more from Him than what He was doing. I'd had my ideas about how my life would and should look and I'd always expected Him to make it happen, and when I wasn't seeing what I'd always imagined, I let Him know that I was disappointed in HIM.

One day while I was doing some of my good back-talking He said to me, "The kind of man you've asked me for won't tolerate that." He was talking about my strong will and my attitude toward Him.  I've said in another post that your relationship with God will be a mirror of your relationship with your mate.  He is the one who teaches us how to relate to one another by how He relates to us, and showing us the truth about how we relate to Him.  The Lord knew the kind of man that I found most attractive so He was actually trying to help me out.  He didn't say that he "won't like it" or "won't appreciate it". He said he "won't tolerate it". So basically, the teaching moment was saying to me that if a man like that was going to be in my life, I'd have to make some adjustments to the way I communicated and responded to situations. 

What I love about God is that He didn't tell me that I couldn't have someone like what I wanted.  He didn't tell me I wasn't good enough. He just let me know that if I desire to be with someone like that, I would have to be someone that someone like that would take notice of and be attracted to and it had nothing to do with my outward appearance, but with my behavior. Even if he was drawn to me for my appearance, once that behavior showed up, he'd be turned off. This was an opportunity for growth in how I communicate my feelings and thoughts, even when, and especially when I'm disappointed or am not in agreement with something. Understand, that for many men, the way I behaved up until that point wouldn't be an issue. They might be able to love me right through it, work their way around it and never leave me. But I wasn't asking God for many men. I was asking Him for specifics and He just let me know that these particular characteristics in him won't tolerate these particular characteristics in me.

What I love about God is that He didn't tell me that I couldn't have someone like what I wanted.  He didn't tell me I wasn't good enough. He just let me know that if I desire to be with someone like that, I would have to be someone that someone like that would take notice of and be attracted to and it had nothing to do with my appearance, but with my behavior. Even if he was initially drawn to me for my appearance, once that behavior showed up, he'd be turned off. If he thought I was the prettiest woman in them room, one conversation could make me the ugliest. If he didn't think I was the prettiest woman in the room, a conversation with me might heighten his attraction to me because of who I show him I am on the inside.

You see, we are good at making lists and laying them before God, but we don't always realize that a person like what we described is attracted to certain characteristics in a mate.  If you don't possess those characteristics that person you are looking for may never cross your path or if they do, may never look at you twice.  You may notice them but they may not notice you. You may even have a conversation with them and hear everything you've prayed for, but if they don't hear the same from you, they will be fine not to ever speak to you again. People who live on a certain level or who are of a certain character don't like some things. They like other things. They aren't comfortable in some places or may be comfortable in places that make you uncomfortable. They behave differently, and live every single day, a certain way. They have pet peeves, likes and dislikes. They have things that they can deal with and other things that they absolutely will not tolerate. This principle is true in choosing a mate as well as in choosing a career.  You can't go just anywhere and behave or even dress just any kind of way, and then say, 
"This is just the way I am and they just need to accept me for who I am" or "If you love me you'll accept me and love me for who I am". Though that is true, it is only true to a certain extent.

What have you asked God for?  What's on your list?  Does it seem like God is talking to you about everything except what you have on your list? Well of course He is!  The list has already been established. Now He needs to teach you about the supporting cast to the list, all of the other characteristics that you didn't think of that make up the whole person. For instance, the kind of mate you've asked God for may need a clean kitchen. Do you keep a clean kitchen or do you just clean once in a while? Or it could be the opposite. You could be preparing by learning to keep a spotless home but when the one you've asked God for comes, it may be that he does most of the cleaning or cooking. I know a few women who don't have to cook at all! In a situation like this you may find yourself lacking in an area that you didn't know you needed to prepare in.  God knows everything about everybody so when He seems to change the subject on you, it's best to follow His instructions. 

Understand that just as you have a list, that person, your type,  has a list also.  They are asking God for certain things too.  This is not to discourage you into giving up on your desires but to encourage you to allow God to develop you into a better version of yourself.  This is not to say you're not "good enough" per se, but we are all constantly growing and as you allow Him to grow, mature, and stretch you, you will be a happier more fulfilled individual with or without that certain person in your life. Believe it or not, this is God's desire for all of us, to be whole happy, and fulfilled whether someone else is there or not. I'll call this His ulterior motive. It is ALWAYS to better YOU for YOU FIRST.

Our true desires come from the One who is able to fulfill them. But just as you have to prepare yourself to have a certain kind of career by educating yourself, it's the same with preparing for the kind of mate you desire. If you truly desire to have a certain career, you don't find out how much education and training you need and then say, "Oh I'll never be good enough to be that".  Instead you choose to do the work, go to school, get the education and training so that you can have the fulfillment of that desire.

We go to school and take so many courses that we say we will never use in real life.  But those courses are necessary and even if you may not use those specific math problems ever again in real life, you need to understand that you will use the skills you learned in those courses. You learned to reason. You learned to see patterns. You learned to solve problems. You learned how to research. You learned how to think a certain way and it is those skills that you will go on to use in everyday life. Those courses helped to shape your character.

To my fellow Single Christians I say, whatever life courses the Lord has you taking right now, trust that they are needed, even if they seem totally unrelated to what you have in your heart.  Preparing for marriage is about way more than learning to cook, keep a clean house, keep a job, who will handle the money, and how you will handle disciplining the children. Submit to God's process and understand that as He prepares you to receive what you've asked Him for, more importantly at the same time, He's simultaneously, preparing you to also be able to live without it. When that person comes they will be so much more than you had in mind when you prayed. But more importantly, before they even show up or even if they never show up, you will be so much more than you thought you were.  This is also a part of the "exceeding abundantly above", for He will exceed your expectations not just of a spouse, but of yourself.

I do not own the pic used in this post. Source: 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

SINGLE LIFE SERIES: You Have a Fear of Abandonment

ABANDONED: having been deserted or cast off.

After my separation and divorce, even though I had a good paying job with good benefits I still struggled. I struggled to learn to handle finances alone and I struggled with feeling alone. I felt abandoned by the people who I felt by right should have been there for me and my girls, to check on us, to make sure we were okay, to ask me questions and listen for my answers. Instead they were listening to him. Talking to him. Hanging out with him, as if he were telling the truth, and I was lying.

I don't own the pic I used for this post, but it perfectly depicts what my heart felt like for so very long. The tears poured out of my heart and down my face so many days and nights. There was also a lot of anger and frustration with God.  I would become so angry with Him and would often say to Him, "You took everybody else away from me and You are all I have left and this is all You have for me? It's like you're on his side too! You're all I have left and this is all I get? Is this all You have for me?"  I felt like He should have been taking better care of me. He should have been there for me. Life was really hurting me and I felt like He wasn't there for me like I needed Him to be. I felt like He was allowing things that He should have been preventing. He should have been there to stop those bad things and hurtful things from happening to me. Even when I was faced with something that had potential to go sour, as I suppose all things do, I would be so afraid that He would drop the ball on me and allow the bottom to fall out from under me. So much had happened that was so painful, that I pretty much in my heart just waited for things to go wrong, and unfortunately I often got what I expected.

One day I was in my car and thinking about the things I was dealing with and He spoke to me and said, "You have a fear of abandonment. You think I'm going to leave you. You think I'm going to do to you what people have done to you."  It was true. If I honestly summed up all of those feelings I was having, that's what it boiled down to. I saw every disappointment as being abandoned by God. I had no perception of Him walking through the fire with me, holding my hand, keeping me, covering and protecting me.  My perception of Him was not based on His Word, and His promise to never leave me, but it was based on my experiences with the people who I felt had left me high and dry, just out there by myself. I thought I should be able to depend on them to at least check on me and the girls periodically to see if we were dead or alive, or if we had food, but up to that point, that had never happened and it actually was several years before anything like that did happen for me. I felt abandoned by the people who supposedly loved me and I transferred that hurt into a fear toward God. You see, until we form our own personal relationship with God, our perception of Him is formed by what we receive from human interaction. The enemy loves this because he uses it to his advantage to have many of us suffer all kinds of abuse as children even from infancy.  He knows that this will distort our view of who God is, and cause us not to trust His love for us. When we finally establish a personal relationship with Him, we see Him for who He is and this reshapes our perception of not only Him, but also of imperfect humans. Although I had been saved quite a while, I was still young in my relationship with God so for a long time I was seeing Him the same way I saw people. I was always afraid that just when I needed Him most, He would go the other way. Unfortunately it seemed to play out like that quite a bit, which fueled my frustration with Him. It made me angry with Him, for things He had not even done and actually has promised in His Word that He would never do. He was and is completely incapable of treating me the way I felt He was treating me.

The Lord is the only one who can "tell you about yourself" and bring healing to you at the same time. He truly does chastise/correct those He loves. Hearing this truth made me look at my life and see clearly how I was making God guilty of what people had done. It revealed to me that I needed yet another mindset adjustment. I needed to trust His Word and the promises in His Word. It made me have to start paying attention to my thoughts and begin to learn to think differently. I had to begin to learn to turn my fear into faith. My words toward Him needed to change and quite frankly, I needed to humble myself.  There's something about feeling abandoned that if you're not careful, can cause a sense of entitlement to rise up in you, where you might find yourself demanding answers or actions from God. Where instead of laying claim on the promises He has left on record in His Word, you instead place demands on Him about what you think He should be, ought to be, or is supposed to be doing for you.  I had a terrible episode before He spoke. It was  an excruciatingly painful experience that I'll never forget and I pray that no residue of that mindset is left inside of me.

You may wonder why this is a part of my Single Life Series.  Well it's actually very simple. We will model our relationship with our spouse after our relationship with our God. If we don't trust Him to be there for us when we need Him most, we will worry a spouse half to death with that same kind of fear.  We will see every time that they can't be there for us on our terms as being abandoned by them.  If we never learn to trust that the Lord will never leave us and never forsake us, even when it seems and feels that He's far away, we will never trust that a spouse will honor "til death do us part", even in times of few words being spoken.  If we aren't able to trust God's thoughts toward us, and His heart toward us, we will never really believe that our spouse has our best interest at heart even in times when they don't necessarily agree with or understand us.  If we are unable to trust in the faithfulness of God, why should we trust that a man or woman can or will be faithful to us in marriage? If we get angry with God for not keeping all the bad and hurtful things away from us, we will be ready to file for divorce if that spouse can't make things happen for us keep trouble from hitting our household.

Listen to your own thoughts in times of crisis and challenge. What are you telling yourself about your God and how He will handle the situation for you.  Are you afraid He won't come through for you?  Are you afraid that He's going to drop the ball? Throw you under the bus? Leave you hanging?  Do you compare Him to imperfect humans who have done those things to you? Or do you turn to Him with full assurance that He is there for you no matter what? Good questions to ask before you enter into a relationship and especially  marriage, because your answers will help you to gauge how you will respond to a spouse who can't work miracles. Or you might even destroy a potential marriage by expecting too much from someone you’re dating or courting.  The Lord wants us, His precious singles to know that He's got us. He's got our back. Not only is it true that He won't leave, but more than that, He can't leave, because He said He wouldn't and he can't lie.

Allow His promise to be the pillow on which you rest your head as He walks you through every trying situation. Allow His faithfulness to you to prepare your heart to rest in the faithfulness of one that He will trust with your heart and hand in marriage.