16 June, 2014

"If You Liked it Then You Shoulda Put a Ring On It"

Wait, what?

Today I have decided to write a little blog entry about bein' sangle.
Or being single.
However you might say it, THIS is written about ... IT.
[note: 'it' is to be said with disdain, and aversion...

Over the course of the last few months, it has come to my attention that there are a handful of people  [not one, not two....but a handful] who seem to be far more concerned about my singleness, my lack of being in a relationship and/or married...than I am.

Many have said the same old cliche phrases, such as...

“Your standards are too high.”
“You don’t try hard enough.”
“You’re too good for him. / He’s not good enough for you.”
“You’re intimidating."
"Let me teach you how to flirt"
[and my personal fave] "You'll find love when you least expect it."

Some have even gone so far as to infer that I should be far more distressed about this topic, than I am.

A few have even projected that something is wrong with me for not being 'on the look-out' or desperate for marriage - as if I am missing out, as if I am lacking ... as if I am not whole - being single. 

This, to me, is crazy. 

I would like to say, to begin, that I know that I do not have to justify [show or prove to be right or reasonable] my life to anyone - especially not in an area as such as this.

Yeah, no.

However, the truth is that there are many girls who love God, are single and are content with that...and thus, I will use this blog as a rebuttal to all, on behalf of myself - and all the ladies [or even dudes] who experience this. 

First and foremost - in case you weren't aware...I love God.
And when I say that, I am not saying "I love God when in church, but do whateva I want everywhurr else."
No, in fact, my life and my life’s foundation is based upon the Word of God - I mean, I strive to live that out.
Obviously, being of flesh and living in this crazy world - I am not perfect, or even close to it.
Yet, my goal is to walk in truth, in right standing with God, and in purity. 

Obviously, this puts me in a position where dating isn't easy.
I mean, this girl has some convictions [fixed or firm beliefs].

I have standards, y'all, and yes, they are high - but they are not unattainable.
I realize that to many people who may not live life as I do, my standards may seem crazy and impossible.
But, I can tell you story after story proving that they are not.
It IS possible to find a man who loves God, and puts Him before you and the relationship.
It IS possible to date a man who is respectful, who desires purity (also) and cherishes you.
It IS possible to have a relationship with healthy [physical and emotional] boundaries.

These are not ridiculous standards. 
And they are something that I am not willing to bend on. 

Sorry...not sorry? 

And because of these standards, obviously I am not going to go out to the club or the bar and sit back with drink in hand, scouring the joint for a hottaaaay. No, no....my experience has been that I am not going to find the type of man I want to marry in those kinds of places. Just sayin'. 

Also - get ready for this - I am not frantic to be in a relationship or get married.
Again, sorry, not sorry ...I'm just not desperate.
And I am not lacking or incomplete because I am single [I wanted to say, "I don't feel like I'm lacking or incomplete..." but that would indicate a possibility that I could be, thus I say with confidence that I am NOT].

In fact, it is simply egregious for anyone to insinuate that I am. 

Believe it or not, ladies and gentlemen...I am content with being single for as long as the Lord would have me to be. 
And there are things that I am working through...that I know I must work through before I could even enter into a serious relationship.
I want to walk into any future relationship healed, whole and ready.

And, personally, I believe that my future husband will be thankful that I did. 

*Side-note...do I even NEED to bring up all the powerful people in history, or [duh] in the Bible who were single?
FOR.THEIR.ENTIRE.LIVES.
*coughJESUScough*
...I didn't think so.  

But seriously, y’all, come on.

Do I want to get married?
Uh, is the grass green?

Am I willing to settle?
No.

Am I willing to lower my standards?
No.

I simply want to glorify God in all that I do ...even in dating. 
I desire to be righteous in whatever I do.

“And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.” Isaiah 32:17 

I think that at this point, I would encourage you - if you find yourself to be one of these people - to ask yourself a few questions: 

   -Why am I so concerned with so-and-so's singleness?
  -Do I find too much of my identity and security in my relationship - thus projecting it on others?
  -Is what I'm about to say helpful, beneficial or encouraging?
  -Do I even have the place to speak into this persons life?

Just some food for thought. :) 



And finally, my friends, I will end with this:


14 May, 2014

The Throw-Away Girl.

What is a "throw-away" person?

I'm sure that if you Googled it, there you would find a photo of yours truly.

At least, that's what I've always thought, subconsciously.

And that, my friend(s), is the truth of the deepest, darkest hidden places of my heart.

I had never actually put my finger on that notion until this last weekend when nationally known speaker, Lysa TerKeurst, told her story of feeling like a "throw-away person" growing up. In that moment, I squirmed a little because I thought "Man, that's a great way to explain that..." And simultaneously, heard a small voice in the back of my mind say, "That's exactly how you feel....admit it."

So there it is. That is the truth, as I see it.
This is how I have felt for as long as I can remember. And it hasn't been one isolated incident that had caused this belief to take root in my heart - but a series of circumstances over the last 30 years.

Recently, I have realized that I have a tendency to hold onto relationships. In those relationships, I truly believe that I am choosing to be the 'faithful friend' [and I am, to a point], however, in reality ...it gets to a place beyond 'faithful friend', where it morphs into me actually choosing to be naive and give grace when grace is no longer due - all in an effort not to face this. So I don't have to face the fact that I feel worthless. I do it so I don't have to acknowledge the fact that though I very much value this person...it is no longer reciprocated. Maybe it never was. And I find myself in a place where I am constantly being hurt, because I blindly hang on. It sounds crazy to admit (definition of insanity anyone?) that it's easier to deceive myself than to admit that I am not wanted...that I am not valued...that I am not cherished.

Even in this moment, I can think of 3 common scriptures that tell us not to do this:

Matthew 7:6 AMP says, "Do not give that which is holy (the sacred thing) to the dogs, and do not throw your pearls before hogs, lest they trample upon them with their feet and turn and tear you into pieces."

Proverbs 4:23 AMP says, "Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life."

Matthew 10:14 AMP says, "And whoever will not receive and accept and welcome you nor listen to your message, as you leave that house or town, shake the dust of it from your feet."

These three scriptures would indicate that my choosing to deceive myself and continue to lay my pearls out there...is wrong. I am only asking to be torn apart when I do this. Surely there is a reason it says to guard the heart with all vigilance.

I feel like Paul when he says  "Why do I do the things that I do? Ohh, wretched man that I am!"

So, in the midst if this...I am trying to learn that just because someone else no longer sees my worth or value doesn't make me worthless or unworthy of being cherished.

Because I, too, am a faulty and broken person....solely saved by grace.

Drill that into my heart, Oh, God.
Show me truth in the midst of the lies.


28 April, 2014

Toothe Ache.

Depression can be such a taboo word within the church, and yet, it proliferates.

C.S. Lewis said:
"Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”"
How true is this?

Let's play this out from point of view of the one with the aching heart:

When Thaddeus (ha) walks by me and says, "Hey, how are you?" as he keeps walking, I recognize that this is simply his way of greeting me, rather than desiring a genuine response.

But, if Thaddeus stops and says, "Hey, how are you?" and waits for a response, at that point I am quickly evaluating our relationship and whether or not he desires [or can even handle] an honest response. Most often, my response is a quick, "I'm fine, how are you?"

And occasionally, Thaddeus may respond with, "Fine? Just fine? What's going on?" At this point there are sirens going off in my head, screaming "Can you be honest?! Surely you can't be honest...he wouldn't understand. You know you'll just get the 'pat Christian answer' that makes you want to punch him in the face..." so, at that point I simply respond with, "It's a rough season...but, it's fine. <insert tired smile> How are you?"

And truth be told, I'm really good at [bad at] down-playing things in my life.
I tend to gloss over so much, and am never really honest.
Not because I like to lie, but because I grew up learning that things should always look better than they really are.

[...]

And so truth be told, it's not fine.
Presently, nothing feels fine.

I mean, truthfully, at this point in this season, the only thing I know - and need to be reminded of, if I'm honest - is the fact that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christ Jesus is my firm foundation.

That He is my Strong Tower.

I mean, when the rest of my foundation [from childhood up] and the world around me is crumbling, it simply gives way to show me the steely assurance of my faith [or lack thereof] in Christ.

Because truly, if I don't have Christ, what have I?
If my foundation isn't found in Him ... what would I have to hold onto?

When my world spins out of control, I will run into the Strong Tower, even if it's all I can do.


13 February, 2014

How long.



My heart is utterly broken.

There's so much right now.

I trust the Lord...I trust the Lord...

Yet, trusting the Lord doesn't stop grief.


How long, Oh Lord, until you return?


How long, Oh Lord, until you right what's been wronged?


How long, Oh Lord, until you turn the hearts of your wayward sons and daughters?






How long...

07 May, 2013

Hatch or Go Bad.

 

Disclaimer: If you choose to read and comment on this note, by all means, please share your thoughts/feelings. If you choose to propagate ugliness here - know ahead of time that I will not tolerate it (yes, I will be intolerant) and said comment will be deleted. <insert loving smile here> Additionally, this is not written about any one person. Not solely about myself...not about him...or her...or you. It's a conglomeration of observations and things I have been thinking/feeling for some time.


Now, I have been one – for the most part – to stand back and be quiet about much on social media, as it often seems that to speak up is to offer your VERY body to the wolves. Today, for whatever reason, I simply cannot be silent. Rest assured, I write all this from a perspective of “I have been there”.

Let’s talk about sin. We all sin (1 John 1:8). For those of us who consider ourselves to be 'Bible believing Christians', there are many things (sins) that the Lord commands us not to do [a brief caveat here: He commands us not to do these things not because He’s a masochist who wants us to suffer, but because these things very often have painful consequences]; i.e. gluttony, adultery, murder, lying, cheating, stealing, sexual immorality [yes, including homosexuality], drunkenness, and laziness.

[Before we proceed any further - I will be the first to admit that I am a sinner, thus, I will not be throwing stones. In turn, I kindly request that you drop any stones that you might’ve picked up a moment ago….]

I find that amongst the ‘Christian community’ – we have various subcultures. Some would consider themselves to be ‘firm Bible believers’, some would consider themselves to be ‘mostly Bible believing’ and some consider the Bible to be an implied, loosely defined ‘guide-book’. Something that has been pretty disheartening for me over the last few years is how often I have seen friends and leaders from my past shift from a firm, moral/spiritual belief to...nothing...or even to that of a more permissive, ‘whatever you want to do is good for you and I will applaud you’ mindset. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should be preaching hell, fire and brimstone from the street corners and condemning to hell all that walk in habitual sin (or perceived sin). Negative. We absolutely should speak truth. We absolutely should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. But neither of these mean to condone or encourage walking in sin. I, for one, am thankful for my friends who wouldn’t let me stay in my season of sin. They didn’t condemn me, but they reminded me of who I am, challenged me and pushed me to choose that higher standard [am I in or out?]. Jesus is clear in Revelation 3:16 when speaking to the church in Laodicea that to be lukewarm (neither hot nor cold) is repugnant to Him. That when we are on the fence/playing both sides/one foot in and one foot out --- it is not good for us [or those who observe our lives]. It is detrimental to us both now – and in the future. And honestly, it is so uncomfortable.

There are many people that I know who previously considered themselves to be Bible-believing Christians, who held themselves to a higher moral standard, and chose to seek righteousness in every aspect of their lives….who now don’t. There are some who are half-in and half-out, and then there are many who shirk Christianity as something their parents spoon-fed them/something that (dare I say…) they were "indoctrinated" with by their church/an institution/an internship (ahem). Considering all of these factors, I find that many of the debates/arguments that develop on social media happen because these three subcultures collide and chaos ensues. Something to consider is that when we have lived much of our life believing and touting our beliefs as 'X' and then suddenly we say we believe and tout our beliefs as 'Y'....people are going to question and want to understand the change. We live in a culture where we choose to put everything on display – and yet we get mad and lash out whenever our ‘display’ is questioned. If we are now walking in what we unashamedly used to call ‘sin’ [and the bible still calls sin] but now we say “it’s fine…I’m not hurting anyone”…doesn’t it make sense that someone might ask “why?”

I know for me …I believe what I believe largely because I have done my own studying. I have never been one to simply take something that is taught and automatically ingest it/regurgitate it as my own beliefs. I have always been a more cynical and leery than most. My youth Pastor in high school had this great way of responding to my questions with “Well Tara, what does the Bible say?” and if I didn’t know – he would encourage me to go seek it out for myself, and come back and present my findings. THAT was great training for me. They taught the same thing when I went through the Honor Academy. I recall Dave Hasz (the director) encouraging us to ask questions, and seek out the answers for ourselves – not just taking what he or anyone else said as truth. […] Don’t get me wrong. I went through the collegiate season of ‘finding myself’. I studied Freud, and Darwin. I took the ‘Human Evolutions’ class and listened intently to my anthropology professor who grew up with missionary parents, and believed that he could be a Christian and an evolutionist at the same time by ‘simply disregarding the first few chapters of Genesis’. I have sought wholeness and satisfaction in so many things under the sun…but, nothing has ever fulfilled me, nothing has ever made so much sense, and NOTHING has ever changed my very life like Jesus did in November of 2004.

I guess the point of this entry is two-fold:

1. I would challenge us all – yes, myself included-to keep in mind that not every question that is asked about our lifestyle, our beliefs, our views is asked in judgment or with ill intent. Sometimes people are just seeking to understand, and maybe go about it the wrong way. Sometimes, yes, it may be judgment…sometimes it may be malicious, but not always. I would encourage us all not to respond to any of the aforementioned with name calling, anger or rudeness…but to respond with love. Break out of the norm, and respond to ignorance or ugliness in love…in grace…in mercy.

2. It is said that as Christians, we will be known by our love for one another (John 13:35) and the fruit in our lives (Matt. 13:33-37). If these two things aren’t lining up…we must check ourselves [yes, I’m checking myself]. So, where are you standing, spiritually? If you were once a Bible-believing Christian who sought righteousness in everything…but not so much now, ask yourself ‘why?’ And consider…what does the road look like that took you from ‘X’ to 'Y’? Because at the crux of it -- nothing ever "just happens"; there’s always a path, always an influence, always a motive. Ask yourself, “Am I where I want to be? Am I who I want to be? Am I satisfied with my lifestyle and where I’m heading?

I’ll end this with a quote, from the one and only C.S. Lewis:


“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for a bird to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”


11 January, 2013

all we need is Love.

Rather than typing a blog today, I decided to make a video blog.

First.
One.
Ever.

Here it is: [all we need is [Love]

29 December, 2012

Truth.

Truth comes in all shapes and sizes. It comes in ways and manners in which we never would have guessed, and sometimes would not have hoped. Often times, the truth in a situation doesn't change our view on it...though it should. We can be presented the truth a hundred times, but if we aren't actively seeking it out or desiring it, we may cast it to the wayside as petty. Or ignorant. Or bothersome. As Christ-followers, we should always be seeking TRUTH and desiring to live it. If truth/life is layed before us and we respond with disdain because we don't 'feel' it, that should set off an alarm within us. If we have become so calloused or hardened by sin that truth no longer penetrates our hearts, that should be cause for concern and move us to the foot of the cross. Only He can soften our hearts and only He can give us the revelation we need. Only He can set is free from our sin...even when we have justified it so far that we no longer think it's sin. (John 8:32)

What situation in your life are you hearing the truth in, but refusing to allow it to bring change?