Life, Liberty and yep you have it: the pursuit of happiness – is one of the most well-known phrases in America. This famous phrase in the Declaration of Independence represents the rights given to all humans by their Creator. An undeniable truth, but let’s not forget my title, Life Is NOT About Happiness. The term happiness has been perverted by our culture, redefined to mean: self-gratification. Thomas Jefferson’s words were entirely valid, and they were based on scripture. Yet when you look at the world and what they call “pursuing happiness” it’s not scriptural at all.
Happiness in today’s definition is a loaded term; it’s all about being led by our desires. We’ve all heard someone say, “Just do what makes you happy,” or I love this one, “Follow your heart.” Our culture basically tells us that if it doesn’t satisfy you, don’t do it. Or if you want it, well by golly, you’ve got to have it! This mindset has transferred into the undertones of today’s dating culture, and it’s not only dangerous, but it’s deceptive. The cultural expectation of pursuing “happiness” leads us into placing our fulfillment on being in a relationship. Not all the urges we have are things that we should pursue.
Before I hear the rebuttal, we do deserve to be happy – it’s not wrong to have a desire for fulfillment. God gave us a holy desire to be united with a partner under marriage. However, happiness should be a product of a healthy relationship, not the basis of your foundation with that person. Anything standing on emotion alone is a foundation placed on sand, and you know what that means – Mathew 7:26. Marriage will be about service not self-fulfillment. Ask any successful married couple, and they’ll tell ya! Individuals who seek to find happiness in someone really aren’t seeking happiness at all; they’re trying to fill a void.
I’m going to interrupt this program and give the official disclaimer: This blog is NOT me saying that having an amazing man/woman won’t bring some happiness into our lives. God has RICHLY blessed me with a Godly man. We look like one of those swirl ice cream cones, y’all know those? Yasssss Jesus, HE IS GOOD!! Relationships are a blessing, they are originated by God, but they are not the source of where our happiness comes from.
Happiness in its original – un-perverted form – is joy. The possession of joy is not only a blessing but a choice. It’s given to us freely, but we must choose to develop it and walk in it (Galatians 5:22). This is the right we have: to choose joy in every circumstance. Understand something, choosing joy is hard, but it is available for us to have. I personally have only begun to taste the true joy God has given me during this season. And let me tell you, it is so sweet and rich I REFUSE to let a single crumb go to waste. I fully intend to get my feast on and grubbbb. #HolyTurnUp
This season of singleness (understanding that you’re single until you’re married) is not only a time of preparation to better ourselves, but it’s a time to establish who God has made you to be and discover who you are in Christ. In fact, it’s my goal to be completely whole in Christ and mature in character before I ever zip up my wedding dress. If I ever want to achieve this goal for myself, I must redefine singleness. And that is what Unescorted is all about.
Join the conversation (**new vlog next week) and get involved with the Unescorted community so that we can all learn, experience and grow to maximum capacity TOGETHER. You think I say these things because I’ve got it all figured out? Don’t let the fancy blog fool you; I am living this out every single day just like you. Striving to learn to be a better person in my downfalls and seeking wisdom every step of the way. The purpose of this blog is all about community; we find strength and encouragement in numbers. So go! Quit seeking fulfillment and happiness in friends, boo thangs, or anyone else. Love God. Love yourself. Find contentment in God’s timing for your life and until marriage, be #Unescorted and proud!!
XOXO – Sonia Dee.
Our guest blogger – John Donaldson – gave us such incredible NUGGETS in his last blog (here), that we had to give you guys a part 2!!! See what John suggests on how to solve the issue of unrealistic expectations!
Okay, so like I said before I believe that unrealistic and unhealthy expectations that are formed before marriage are the reason why so many are getting divorced after they get married!
Let me say this again! Too often Singles are forming unhealthy and unrealistic expectations for their future spouse and that’s DANGEROUS!!!!
So… How do we stop this?
What defensive measures can we take to make sure that either we don’t end up in a tragic divorce? OR how do we not waste this beautiful season called Unescorted and stay balanced in our dreams for a future marriage? How can we as singles avoid being afraid of dreaming again (in a healthy way) of someone that we are to spend life with. And lastly, how do we lay down our expectations and trust God with our deepest desires of what we want our marriage to look like?
I think there is more than one solution, but I want to highlight a few:
1. Deepen your relationship with God.
People often wrongly relate to God. He is mighty, Holy and perfect – but we don’t have to be that to hang out with him. He wants us to come as we are, and THEN he changes you to be more like him. I say that to say we have to view God as a friend who can relate to us. He loves us and understands us! When you get closer to God he can show you what you SHOULD expect and what you should NOT! When you reach depth in your relationship with God, you begin to develop healthy expectations of people and extend Grace to them like God does for you!
ALL people and ALL relationships have peaks and valleys.
2. RESPECT marriage DON’T WORSHIP it as an idol.
This is a hard truth to swallow – the root of unhealthy and unrealistic expectations is idol worship. Too often out of loneliness and discontentment Singles will deceive themselves to think that once we get married, then we will be happy and content. You need to find your contentment in God, in any season – any person, place or thing that you go to for this satisfaction besides God is an idol.
Marriage is a beautiful concept crafted by God Almighty to reflect Himself to us – but it is not to be worshiped. Worshiping marriage also leads to that “this ain’t what I pictured” thought because whenever you do get married, like we previously discussed, you don’t have healthy and realistic expectations of marriage so it will never live up to your IDEA, and you will inevitably be left disappointed and confused.
3. Trust God!
Scripture tells us that God gives us the desires of our hearts! Those deep desires you have to be married and find joy in a marriage – those are desires from Him! God gave Adam, Eve. He gave Abraham, Sarah. And He’s given millions of men their wives, why? Because nothing makes him happier than for godly men and women to come together in marriage. There is so many blessings in marriage! The problem is we’ve perverted and added to this desire he’s given us.
Just lay down your expectations and trust God to fulfill those desire HE PLACED IN YOUR HEART IN THE FIRST PLACE. He ain’t no tease.
Well yall thats all I got fo ya. Listen, let God evaluate your heart! By hanging out with God consistently he will show you how to take down any unrealistic and unhealthy expectations you have for marriage. Find a mentor, find other people who are in your same season!
I pray that you are Blessed beyond what you deserve, Godbleshyall! #mobn
We met John at Victory Bible College in Tulsa, OK. John is well known in our circle for his intellectualism, you can always count on him to give you food for thought. We love and appreciate his wisdom and are so excited you get to hear from such an amazing man who loves Jesus! – UNESCORTED
Hello to all the single folk, and the non-single folk that read this blog. My name is John Donaldson and it is both my pleasure and my privilege to be apart of what Jesus Christ is doing through UNESCORTED. I really believe in their mission to reach my sisters and brothers in the faith on this journey of singleness.
For anyone that doesn’t know me, I am not a guy that is easily excited about much at all. I often times feel like the odd one out in almost every crowd because of this fact. There have been times that I’ve even have entertained the possibility that it’s a serious problem, I’ll let you be the judge.
This last summer I got to go see the ocean for the first time in my life on a cruise ship. Now, anytime I would tell somebody I was going on said trip, they lit up like a Christmas tree and puked out the words “OH MY GOSH?! ARE YOU EXCITED?!”, to which I would respond something like, “I don’t know.. I guess..”. Weird right? Typically people would just be spinning and dancing around about it, but alas… that ain’t me. Don’t get me wrong, the thought of being on a huge ship going to Mexico with an all you can eat 24 hour buffet, pools, hot tubs, and a sandy beach was hecka appealing to my soul in a major way lol! But, for whatever reason I feel like I didn’t have the excitement I was supposed to.
Being the reflective person I am, I began to ask myself some questions as to why I am that way not just about the cruise, but most things in life. I finally narrowed it down to the source of a pivotal word called expectation. When asking other people why they were excited, I realized it was mostly because they had already imagined and mapped out emotionally, mentally, and physically, everything this trip was going to be. There expectations were high and mine were not. They knew how it would make them feel, and how intoxicating it would be to experience, conjuring up these soaring expectations that caused quite an excitement.
Then the parallel hit me…
Most of us as singles do the exact same thing! Every one of us have our own perversions and proclivities that are unique to us, but for the most part we can all identify (if we are to be honest) we have ALL have conjured up a list of expectations for something. We all have an area in our life where we have worshiped at this altar of “expectations.” These unrealistic and unhealthy expectations start off by us thinking: how it should turn out for us, what it will look like, and fantasizing about how it will make us feel, . . . we do this especially with finding a mate.
The culture of clichés in the Christian community unfortunately have made the list of unhealthy and unrealistic expectations drastically worse. I see men and women paint each other in these unrealistic and unhealthy expectations of how a “man of God” or a “woman of God” should be, and thats dangerous. I am under the belief that unhealthy and unrealistic expectations are precisely the reason why the divorce rate is higher in the Church than it is in the world. In the world the divorce rate is 50%, and yes you heard me correctly: the divorce rate in the church IS higher than that.
What does unrealistic and unhealthy expectations look like practically in every day life John? I’m so glad you asked, UNESCORTED, allow me to elaborate. I went to Bible school for a short time, and as you can imagine, it was an… interesting experience. But it provided me the opportunity to be surrounded by Christian young Adults. I commonly heard individuals – including myself – throw out well intended, innocent YET completely foolish statements like these:
“a TRUE man of God would never break a woman’s heart or ever disrespect her like that” or…
“a TRUE woman of God would never dress like this, or talk with you like that”,
“real Christians don’t even like sin, they don’t go to parties or struggle with sexual perversions”,
AND THEN, when I see people who have these expectations start to date, it only festers!!!! We only show the best part of ourselves to our boyfriends and girlfriends – and you know what that does? Validates our unhealthy and unrealistic expectations – and that is dangerous! How many times have I heard someone say, “He..is..that..man…. that I have been waiting on MY WHOLE LIFE!!!” Unfortunately, once the limelight dissolves his flaws inevitably appear. AND since he no longer looks like that “man of God” her expectations conjured up; she becomes hurt and disappointed. Time and time again I see people get divorced in the Christian community because of this reality.
We could continue on, but I think you get the point. Some of you might be wondering How do we stop this? How to we find a healthy way to dream about the real blessings in marriage but keep unhealthy and unrealistic expectations at bay? Well, one of the dopest things about UNESCORTED is that they bring issues to the light, so we cant #jointheconversation. What do YOU think the solution is? What are YOUR thoughts on how the church cultivates our expectation for marriage?
Next week I too will #JoinTheConversation and share some solutions the Lord laid on my heart.
Until then, #GodBlesssshhhYall #Mobn
Find John on Facebook
I feel like it has been awhile since I have blogged but I just wanted to give you a quick update on my life and what God has been doing. Recently I went to Dominican Republic on a missions trip. Not only did I see miracles but the trip in of itself was miraculous. As a teenager my heart always yearned to go on a mission trip, but I remember always feeling that it was something unattainable for me. Even verbalizing that right now makes me laugh because isn’t it funny how irrational that is! Needless to say, God proved me wrong, he helped me attain that deep desire in my heart and the irony was I went on my first mission trip as a 23 year old Minister – look at God.
So lets get back to it. I went to Dominican Republic with a Ministry I work for called God’s E.R. – which stands for Emergency Restoration. The verse that we stand on is “through Christ we are free from all things.” This ministry integrates psychological understanding and the word of God together to walk people through the deepest level of complete healing and freedom. We minister to people with schizophrenia, bi-polar, autism, depression, suicide, and even people who just need emotional or physical healing. Individuals meet one on one with Ministers, like myself, to fulfill the God given promise in peoples lives: free from ALL things. Yes I have actually seen people completely healed from schizophrenia, bi-polar, autism, depression, and literal physical healings.
Long story short we run and operate a full-time ministry in Tulsa, OK – that is our home base but we also send teams to travel with a ministry called The 99 (in the Dominican it is called El Xtremo) where we plant God’s E.R. programs. The truth of the matter is people are hurting. Real people, with real lives, with real problems, with real pains and with real needs! And we serve a God that is REAL and he is willing to really heal, really provide and really deliver! And Praise God he is using me to see people get radically touched by his love and power. The things I have seen in ministry sessions have literally changed my life as well as those who received ministry.
I kid you not, there is something about going to an underdeveloped country and see people receive the gospel truth – they soak it up like a sponge and miracles just break out. I absolutely fell in LOVE the Dominican culture and the people but I loved seeing God do the miraculous because of his love. I encountered God in so many different ways it would take me all day to tell you what he did in the 7 days I was abroad but I just wanted to share of a few instances.
The Man Who Was Healed:
Each day while we would enter into prayer, we knew that God wanted us to pray with people who needed physical healing. On the 3rd night of El Xtremo I saw a man walk into our tent that looked like one of his legs wasn’t functioning properly. After the preliminary prayer I asked one of our interpreters, Pastor Louis, to ask the man if he wanted us to pray for his leg. The man agreed and leaned completely over a near-by table, putting his face in his hands waiting for us to start praying. I knelt down and placed my hands on his leg, I closed my eyes and just allowed
the verses of scripture on healing to bubble up out of me. We maybe prayed for 30 seconds and when I finished the prayer and stood up, the Lord instantly healed his leg. I was absolutely beside myself. This was my first time ever seeing a miracle! Before we prayed he could only walk a few feet while dragging his un-usable leg. When he first came into the tent I watched him walk a few feet and then have to take a break; after our prayer he was able to walk completely normal with full weight on both legs. I remember thinking “there is no way he just got healed, that was so simple.” I actually didn’t even believe it at first, but I will never forget the joy and happiness on his face showed how thankful he was that he was able to walk again. Even telling this story moves me – Jesus is always willing to heal.
Visions of Jesus
When we weren’t at the tent with El Xtremo, we were at a local church training Dominicans and taking their people through personal ministry. A woman I ministered to was frustrated with me upon arrival for her personal ministry appointment because I did not speak Spanish, nor did I have an interpreter. Through very few Spanish words I had learned that morning and through the Google translate app, I slowly walked her through our one-on-one personal ministry process. During the forgiveness prayers there is time designated for emotional healing where the participant allows Jesus to speak his truth into the trauma’s and pains of their life to receive healing. During this particular session as I closed my eyes to pray for her I saw Jesus walk into the room, stand beside her and put his hand on her shoulder. Each time I closed my eyes I saw him there ministering to her on the right side with his hand on her shoulder. I had her write down in Spanish her experience – because each time we would pray she was overwhelmed with tears. Because of the language barrier I could only ask if she was doing okay and she would say “muy bien, gloria adios,” which means: very good, glory to God. I was extremely curious as to what she was experiencing throughout the session because I could sense such a sweet presence of God, all I knew was when I shut my eyes Jesus was standing beside her on her right side with his hand on her shoulder. Once we finished her personal ministry I took the testimony she wrote down to an interpreter. In the testimony she stated that she she had never experienced anything like God’s E.R. in her life, that she physically felt better and during the prayers Jesus came and stood beside her, put his hand on her shoulder as he healed her heart. Wow. wow. wow. wow.
.Another woman I ministered to, who also didn’t speak any English, the Lord gave me another vision during her emotional healing. In this vision he came down and grabbed her and took her to the throne room. When he took her to heaven she was a little girl, in a red dress with pink butterflies around her. God the Father placed her on his lap while Jesus and the Holy Spirit stood over her ministering to her – showing me the love he had for his daughter. In tears I opened my eyes feeling God’s tangible love for the 50 year old woman in front of me. I knew that the Lord gave me that vision because he was communicating to me he was healing the issues in her life that rooted from pain all the way back to when she was a 5 year old girl, who loved pink butterflies. She looked back up at me from this particular prayer and we both had hot tears streaming down our faces – we couldn’t speak each others language but we connected in that moment in such an intimate way; we both were overwhelmed with God’s love. Later that evening at the Spiritual Warfare Conference this woman stood up and testified about what God did in her personal ministry session. How God took her back to memories that she had long forgotten and healed every wound. She was one of our female ministers that showed up every night at El Xtremo to lead prayers in Spanish in our tent.
Overall my biggest testimony was watching people experience God’s love, I have endless stories I could share. I really want to tell you guys about when I saw an Angel but I think I will save that for another post.
I want you guys to start really thinking about the deep desires in your heart. There is deep desires you’ve had all of your life – just like me – that God is wanting to fulfill in THIS season you are in NOW. Write them down and even let us know so we can stand in faith with you for those things!
I would be doing you all a disservice if I didn’t extend an invitation for those of you who need healing. Maybe you have nightmares, you have suffered from anxiety attacks, maybe you feel depressed or just can’t get over certain things in your past. OR maybe you just need a physical healing – I can walk you through the God’s E.R. process helped me completely get over my own panic disorder and God can help you! I would LOVE to discuss these things with you please message me anytime!
Stay tuned! So much more to come!
I am a childcare teacher. Every day is different and I learn things about my own life every day through the eyes of a child. It has caused me to see things from a new perspective.
Working with children, you hear the greatest stories from the purest hearts. I love how honest children are. Some days they are more honest with me than I am with myself. They straight up tell me I look tired that day, or I look old, or because I am a teacher I am too old to have a mommy. The list goes on and on.
My most favorite question to ask kids is “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I’m not sure why I love asking it, but the response always makes me smile. Ninja turtles is probably the most popular answer, but there’s a fair share of princesses, superheroes, and so on.
Their answers always intrigue me because it shows our ability as humans to dream, even at a young age. We were born to be dreamers. If fear of rejection, failure, and loss didn’t exist, just think of how much bigger we would dream.
I always wonder at what point those children come to the conclusion that they won’t actually be superheroes and princesses. I know we don’t live in a fairytale, and as far as I know there isn’t an unknown superhero world, but why should that stop us from dreaming?
When I was a young child, I was convinced I would be a “baby doctor”. I remember watching “A Baby Story” on TLC every day. I took the job of taking care of my baby dolls VERY serious. I didn’t know how difficult it was to actually become a doctor. No one ever told me that part. I just kept on dreaming.
Next, I wanted to be a dancer and a singer – which, if you know me you would probably laugh because doing both of those things in public frighten me. All I wanted was to be famous, now all I want is to be happy in life. (That was really deep)
At one point I wanted to be the president, but who doesn’t? I did end up becoming student body president of my school three years in a row, so I guess I became president, just not how I imagined it.
Then there came a point in time where I decided I have no idea what I want to be, and like the rest of the world, I’m still figuring it out.
Sometimes the kids will ask me, “Miss Mallek, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Mostly I say “I don’t know”, because, I really just don’t know, but recently when I was asked, I told them I wanted to be Spiderman. I’m not quite sure why I told them that (I would much rather be Elsa or Anna). I think it’s because I want them to know that they don’t have to stop dreaming.
When I told them, they weren’t surprised. They didn’t laugh and say “Miss Mikayla, you can’t be that!” They just simply shrugged it off like it was nothing new and went on with the rest of their day.
Let’s be real, folks…
I know I’m not going to be a baby doctor, but what if God placed that desire in my heart at a young age because He knew I was destined to be a mother.
I can assure you I won’t become a dancer and a singer, but what if God placed those desires in my heart because he knew I would be a worshipper.
As much as I still would love to be president, I know that the chances are slim, but what if God placed that desire in my heart because one day I would grow up and change nations? What if one day I would grow up to become a leader and pioneer a movement?
We don’t always know why God gives us desires, but I am fully convinced that those desires have a purpose. We might not be called to be superheroes, but we are called to save those around us and show them the love of Christ. We aren’t all going to be princesses but we are all royalty and are princes and princesses of the one true King.
If you have a dream – however absurd or crazy or preposterous you tell yourself it might be.. there’s a reason for it. Your dreams and desire are what make you who you are. They might turn out much differently than you imagined, but don’t lose sight of them.
Thanks for reading, and as always, don’t hesitate to #JoinTheConversation. We want to hear your story!
We are so excited for you to hear from Sonia Larcom. She is one of our in-house authors and one of the founders of U N E S C O R T E D.
Okay so don’t judge me, but I have a confession: I love listening to talk radio. But not just talk radio – I’m the person who always has a sermon blaring in the car and if I owned a TV I’d probably always have TBN on. In the past 2 years I’ve heard bits and pieces from of a sermon from Rick Warren called “Picking a life Partner.” Each time I heard the rerun of this message on the radio – it gave me a new perspective on Christian Dating. In this sermon he discusses the biblical pre-requisites for marriage and one of the items on the list was: emotional wholeness – is the person you’re dating emotionally whole?
You see, the concept of marrying someone who is emotionally stable is pretty common sense. We all know it’s a red-flag if he say’s he loves you after two weeks, or calls multiple times if you don’t answer – and if you didn’t know that was a red flag let me tell you now: Run girl. Run for your life.
But this is the thing, there is a difference between emotional stability and emotional wholeness. There are many amazing men and women out in the world who are emotionally stable but aren’t emotionally whole. This realization was so incredibly profound to me because it gave me a word to describe what I wanted for my own life: wholeness. I had been healed of deep emotional wounds, and I was stable but I wasn’t whole.
This is where people get confused because they will equate healing with wholeness. Let me show you the distinction: In Mark 3:1-6 Jesus restored a man’s hand that was completely withered. People would easily say “Jesus healed the man with the withered hand, ” and thats incorrect! That man didn’t need a healing, he needed wholeness – Jesus restored his hand! Made is whole! Most of the time healing and wholeness do work hand in hand but they are very different (Pun definitely not intended).
I will use my life as an example: I am a fatherless woman. I can truly say that I am healed of any emotional wound of not having a father but its just like that guys hand, it was an area of my life that was withered. I’m sure the man with the withered hand figured out how to compensate for the hand he was dealt (I’m sorry for the puns). I’m sure he figured out a way to put on his clothes with one hand, feed himself with one hand and be a stable person with just one hand. This was me, I had adapted to the handicap of not having a father. It’s a handicap not because I pitied myself, it was a handicap because I was missing a crucial role in my life that God intended for me to have. Jesus didn’t restore the mans hand because he pitied him, Jesus himself knows how resilient human beings are, he knew that this man could find a way to live life with just one hand – thats not the point! Jesus restored him because God intended for us all to have two fully functioning hands!
God knows that you are able to adapt from the losses of this life and still cary on – how do you think nonbelievers are able to keep moving forward! I’m telling you, we are so resilient! But God doesn’t just want you to exist and adapt to the areas in your life that are withered – he wants to make you completely whole! He has done that in my life. Earlier in the post I called myself a Fatherless woman – and even typing that felt wrong because I’m no longer a Fatherless woman – I have a Heavenly Father now and he has completely restored that withered area of my life. You know, I’ve met multiple people who have later told me that they were shocked that I was raised by a single mother; because they were convinced I had a strong father in my life. God gets all the glory for making me so whole in this area it was as if I really did grow up with a godly father. Understand something: what he’s done in my life, he will do in yours. I don’t know what areas of your life that are withered, but during this season of single hood let the Lord restore you and make you completely whole.
I really want to dive more into this topic of wholeness so be looking for a future post on this subject! I love you guys and I’m so thankful for U N E S C O R T E D – a community where we can truly share our hearts and glean from one another! Don’t forget to #jointheconversation and let us know your thoughts on emotional wholeness?
Until Then – XOXO
“I am so excited for you guys to hear from someone so significant to me and my walk with God. Shelby Stewart is one of my dearest friends – her heart for God is inspiring. It’s not very often you find a young woman with such a drive to serve and honor God. In this message she is very transparent and I know you guys will be blessed by it! Shelby, I love you – I hope you guys enjoy!” – Sonia Larcom,
U N E S C O R T E D Author & Founder
Here we are, 2017- a brand new year. Something about it, the newness of a year, gets us excited. Perhaps it gives us hope; and for a lot of us a hope that things will change in 2017 – we will change. If we’re being honest, though, the new year doesn’t really change anything. The first day of 2017 didn’t miraculously change us, our state of mind, thoughts, walk with God, or relationships. Truthfully, we enter 2017 in the same condition we left 2016. And, how many of us find ourselves in a place of complacency accepting our current condition?
When I say current condition – I am not talking about your condition of singleness, but I’m talking about conditions in your life during this season. The struggles you experienced in 2016 can be changed if we allow God to change us in 2017. He has given us power over our condition. All throughout Scripture, especially when Jesus walked the earth, God revealed how deeply He cares about our human condition, all of it: spiritual, physical, and our overall well being. Not only does He care, but He is out to improve our current conditions. For example, Jesus went out and healed bodies (physical), cast out demons (spiritual), and taught us what we need to know to live holy lives and be close to the Father (improving our character). He healed, freed, and taught people in the midst of their current conditions. He does this for us today, too.
This is good news- it means in 2017 we don’t have to stay the same! I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to stay in this same state forever. And, in this single season it’s all the more important to allow God to work on our conditions to make us better NOW (better, not perfect) – rather than start once we get married. The only way we will walk out all of our news year resolutions in 2017 is if we: recognize our current condition, believe for change, and then allow God to change us.
For each of us, this may look different. Some may need God’s freedom from a current condition of an addiction, bad habit, a healing, a needed revelation or just Gods help with self-control, patience, or even prayer. Whatever area(s) it might be for each of us, one thing remains, whether we believe it or not: we all need improved in some way. But most importantly we all need God’s grace and strength to help us get there- it’s sufficient and perfect (2 Cor 12:9).
To be vulnerable, one area I was in complete bondage was food: overeating and no self-control. I was in a constant cycle of trying to over-control in an unhealthy manner. The cycle of shame and torment I experienced from this sinful habit was consuming and often sucked the joy of life right out of me. I was deceived in believing this was a condition I would be stuck in my whole life. Then, the Holy Spirit gave me a word about not accepting things that steal, kill, or destroy (John 10:10). This cycle of sin and shame most certainly did steal, kill and destroy (so thank God He is helping me through and freeing me in this area before sending me a husband!!!) So, if something in any way steals, kills, or destroys we should not accept it because it is obviously not of God: the Father of Truth; but instead of the devil: the father of lies (John 8:44). Over time I finally believed my current condition does not have to be my “forever condition”, and oh how relieved it has made me. Even in the darkest pit of shame He revealed He can indeed change these sinful habits and make me new . . . and free (Gal 5:1, 2 Cor 5:17). He’s out to improve us in whatever way we need or desire- right in the middle of our current condition. Day-by-day (2 Cor 4:16).
God is showing us we don’t have to simply “accept” things in our lives that aren’t of Him. Sickness, disease, addiction, jealousy, envy, apathy, self-hate, condemnation, complacency, shame, guilt, discouragement, and the like are not of Him. We don’t have to accept them as “normal” or “stuck” as part of our condition. Resist the lies! Then, God needs our faith and belief, willingness and obedience- even when we don’t see change or improvement. More often than not it’s a process.
Honestly, I am still a total work in progress (Sonia knows firsthand) and fall short far too often, in my opinion. However, the difference now is I have hope, hope for real change over time in multiple areas. Like I said earlier you have to recognize your current condition, believe for change, and then allow God to change you! And when I doubt His promises of victory over this area in my life, He brings me right back to a chapter I’ve found great assurance in; Psalm 103. It’s just one example of many where His Word gives us confirmation that He is out to renew, restore, reconcile, heal, deliver, and set people free from all things through Jesus Christ. In other words, whatever new years resolution you’ve made for 2017 – he is able to transform you from your current condition – so let him!
Happy New Year!!
Social Media Handle: @shelbystewart
It’s Christmas morning, you pop out of bed because you’re so excited to open your presents. Running down the stairs nearly falling because you are that excited to see what’s awaiting you. Once downstairs you see a huge package under the tree so perfectly wrapped with the cutest little bow on the top. Without hesitation, you start shredding through the wrapping paper to see what could be inside this incredible looking present. After the wrapping paper is off and you open the box you notice that your gift has not only been opened but it has been used and damaged as well. Of course, you’d be furious or at least you should be. Someone not only already opened your present but they used it, had their fun with it, broke it and then rewrapped it, all before you even were given a chance to see what it was.
The sad thing is, when it comes to relationships we do this to one another every day, this is the social norm. We see a guy or girl we really like, we share a common interest in each other and begin dating. After a while one or both of us start to realize that our significant other is not the one we want to walk the down the aisle towards or say “I do” to. Yet, instead of loving and valuing them enough to let them go and find the one whom their souls truly loves, we use them, play with them and their emotions and sometimes damage them and their hearts; without fully realizing it we are using and damaging another person’s gift that was never ours to begin with.
Devastated and heartbroken you sit there starring at your broken and wrongly used gift trying to figure out a way to make it whole again. It’s not fair, you never got to enjoy it to the fullest and you were never given the chance to embrace the beauty of the way it was created to be used. You weren’t the one that destroyed it, yet you’re the one left with the broken pieces to try and put back together. Can you imagine if we would begin to see relationships and people this way? Each individual you begin a relationship with is a gift and should be treated as such. You see, the problem with destroying a gift that isn’t yours is we’ll never truly see the ramifications of our actions. Nine times out of ten you never see or interact with the individual the gift actually belonged to. We never see the broken pieces we’ve left for them to try and put back together.
If you stop to think about it for just a second you’ll notice that a lot of failed relationships failed because of trust issues. A big question is what is the source of all of these trust issues that are being developed within so many people? Could it be from a past relationship where the person that they “loved” took their heart for a roller coaster ride then left it somewhere in the dirt because they never truly saw or appreciated their heart’s value in the first place?
I heard a story of a young man, we’ll name him Joe, who starting dating a girl, and we’ll name her Elisa. Joe and Elisa had been dating for about 6 months when Joe began to fall in love. He’d never fallen in love with anyone before so he knew this girl was something special. Joe immediately began saving up for a ring so that soon he could ask the love of his life to make him the happiest man alive and marry him. Their one year anniversary quickly approached but something was wrong; Joe hadn’t heard from Elisa in over a week. She didn’t answer any text messages or phone calls and Joe was beginning to get very concerned. When he called her family to see if any of them had heard from her, he was ignored. She didn’t have a Facebook, or so Elisa told him, so he couldn’t check if she had been on social media. For Joe it seemed like the end of the world. Days past and finally he heard from Elisa and she wanted to meet up. Joe was overjoyed and excited to see his girl. However, when he arrived at the meeting place he quickly noticed that Elisa was not alone. She was waiting for him with another man. Elisa began to explain to Joe that she was only living in his state temporarily and introduced the other young man as her boyfriend of three years whom she was madly in love with from her home state. She apologized for leading Joe on and said she didn’t want to be alone while she lived here and quite frankly, a girl’s gotta eat right? Joe felt betrayed, heartbroken, humiliated and crushed for all the obvious reasons. Can you imagine that? The love of your life disappears then comes back into your life only to announce that they had been in a serious relationship before you met, their relationship had continued throughout your entire relationship, and you were only being used for social status and so she wasn’t lonely.
Three years have passed and Joe is still single, has never fallen in love or even been in a relationship since Elisa. The thought of getting his heart broken again terrifies him completely so he decided to avoid love and relationships all together. One day, Joe went to his usual coffee shop that he goes to twice a week, like clock-work, and sees a new employee whose name is Kara. He notices her right away and doesn’t say anything, but every week, twice a week he looks forward to seeing Kara at the coffee shop. Finally, after some months of fighting his fear and anxiety he asks Kara out and to his surprise, she said yes! The two of them go out and almost instantly there was chemistry between them. It was strong, vibrant and felt so thick you could probably cut through it with a knife. Joe went home that day on cloud nine and the happiest he had been in a long time, but once he got home his fear caught up with him and soon that fear turned to anxiety. If the chemistry with Kara was that strong after one date, he couldn’t imagine how he would feel in the days to follow and he couldn’t bare being heartbroken again. So, he slowly started pushing Kara away before they had a chance to develop anything real.
Intense story right? Almost like it was fiction? Think again, this story was very real with changes made to respect the people in it. The character I want to focus on for the sake of this blog is Kara. How do you think she felt? She met this kind, good looking guy, agreed to go out on a date with him and the chemistry was almost instant. She couldn’t wait to get to know him more and more but because of another person’s selfishness she was never given the opportunity to discover that gift or truly see its value. She was handed the already opened and damaged gift and she unfortunately, was not able to put those broken pieces back together.
Now some of you may be wondering, “How in the world do you get to know someone without mistreating or using someone else’s gift? You won’t know the gift is yours until you open it right?” I’m not saying don’t go out on dates or don’t get to know people, you absolutely should. Pursue them, get to know them, learn what they like and what they dislike but while doing so be mindful and protective of their hearts. Treat them with the same care and respect you’d like them to treat you and your heart. If during that time you find that they are the one your soul has been longing for, run into the sunset and don’t look back. BUT if at any moment you’re at a point where you cannot see yourself together years later or at the alter one day saying “I do”, let them go. Don’t continue to allow both of your hearts to get intertwined more and more knowing that one day this will all lead to heartbreak. It’s nearly impossible to begin the process of a relationship with someone without getting emotionally involved. However, don’t use someone else for social status or to fill the void of loneliness only to dump them off when the next best thing comes along. Treasure each and every gift that is given to you and if you find that they aren’t yours, think about whom they actually belong to and work to preserve their hearts and emotions in the best way you can.
The greatest things in life are the ones that cost you something because only then can you truly see the value it holds and only then would you do anything in your power to protect it. The most valuable gifts are worth waiting for. So, wait patiently for your perfect gift that is untarnished and in the meantime take care of other’s gifts that cross your path. Help them find the one to whom they belong by honoring the value they hold. Be honest with yourself to determine whether or not the gift you’re holding is truly your gift.
Thank you for reading,
Okay people, we’ve all been there. I know I’m not the only one guilty of saying this when I don’t find someone physically attractive (just being real). For the most part, we say this when we look at someone’s appearance and judge them immediately based on what we think our significant other should look like.
We all have this cute Hallmark fantasy in our heads of what we want our spouse to look like, right? Their eyes, hair, sense of style, number of Instagram followers…I could go on. We are so focused on their outward appearance at times that we are unable to see past what they look like to who they really are; their attributes that are hidden like a heart of gold and a strong character. This breaks my heart, and it happens all of the time for guys and girls alike.
Now maybe you’re wondering, “What even is a type”? I’ve wondered the same thing. I guess you could call it a “preference”, but it’s more of an outward preference based on physical appearance. Usually when we say, “He’s not my type,” we aren’t talking about his personality unless we’ve taken the time to get to know him. (That’s a completely different story!) When we say this, we are basing it off of our first impression of them and how they look.
Let’s be real, how shallow is it to deny someone a chance to love you simply because they don’t look exactly how you expected them to?
Here’s the thing about the world we live in – we are so focused and driven by appearance. It is drilled into our culture starting at a young age. Unfortunately, we are the product of our environment. A child could be raised in a family that helped them to develop the greatest amount of self-esteem, yet they may still think they’re not good enough solely based on the high standards of society. They wouldn’t see themselves the way their family sees them and especially not the way God sees them. If we aren’t able to see ourselves the way God sees us, how can we truly see others the way God sees them. We’ll begin to scrutinize every detail about them the same way we pick a part and try to perfect every detail about ourselves.
The irony of it all is that most married people I’ve talked to have told me they didn’t end up marrying their “type” – not even close. For example, my parents weren’t even attracted to each other before they started dating (that’s a whole other blog). This is a huge reason why I’ve completely written off the idea of having a “type”. I know that God has a sense of humor, and whoever my spouse is; he will probably be nothing like I expect him to be.
I met a guy once, and in my eyes he was exactly my type. Like, it was almost scary. After things didn’t work out, I realized that it’s hard to have a “type”. Don’t get me wrong, there needs to be some non-negotiables. A few of mine are: he needs to love Jesus, coffee, and have the ability to put up with me all of the time. But I think that in the end, whoever you end up with will be someone who perfectly completes you. Someone that you wouldn’t expect to end up with in a million years – or at least that’s what I hear all the time.
In my opinion the idea in our heads of what we think our spouse should look like will be quickly squandered the moment we meet someone who is completely the opposite of our type, yet somehow we fall in love with them. In those moments we realize that beneath the skin, is a person. A person who maybe we never thought we would love. But as we grow closer to them and get to know them for who they are, they just may become so much more attractive than we ever thought possible.
Ephesians 3:20 tells us that our God is able to do exceedingly more than we could ever ask, think, or even imagine. So, while their hair color may not match the dream you’ve been dreaming your entire life, trust God with the details. He wants to do more for us that what we can begin to wrap our minds around.
Another one of my favorite verses is 1 Samuel 16:7 it says, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
This is such a simple concept, but once it’s grasped, we will begin to change how we look at potential prospects. We’ll also begin to change how we look at ourselves.
If you get nothing else from this blog, I hope you hold onto these words. This simple phrase sums up the point I hope to get across.
Looks are NOT everything!
Now, don’t get me wrong, being attracted to your significant other is important in a relationship. But like I said, I believe that as you grow closer to that person and see them for who they are – their silly quirks and habits, you will naturally fall more in love with them and become more attracted to them. It won’t be something that is based on an emotion or momentary feeling; it will be a genuine attraction that only comes from falling in love with every single part of what makes up who they are.
Let’s not be so focused on the way a person looks that we fail to see beyond their looks, and get to their heart. This is where a person’s true attractiveness and value comes from. Be cautious but stay open to the idea that just maybe God has someone out there that we may be overlooking because we’re busy searching for the wrong thing. Just maybe He knows us better than we know ourselves. And just maybe He plans on blowing our minds with the better half He has for us if we’d only choose to let go of our “type” and make room for HIS.
You are all so beautiful, each and every one of you! Thanks for reading!