Breaking Cycles of Dysfunction in Relationships (Single and Following Jesus Series Part IX)

Have you been in a cycle of repeated bad relationships or you see your friends in those same dysfunctional relationships? Today is a day of breaking free.

I have asked the same questions about friendships or casual relationships, “Why is this type of person attracted to me? They have no qualities that match up.” That may seem harsh yet let me give some examples for clarity.

My nature is encouraging, supportive, and I pursue kindness. I want to see you win. I will be the most vocal cheerleader for you.

I wondered why those who were negative, critical, mean spirited, unsupportive, and hateful were drawn to me and why they turned their negativity on me.

I am going to tell you why. Are you ready?

1. Opposites Sometimes Do Attract.

You may be giving and attract a taker. You may be kind and attract someone rude. It is not always true that we attract who we are. You may be loving and attract someone critical, rude, mean.

2. Poor Boundaries.

People treat us the way we let them treat us. Some see meekness (strength under control) as weakness. If we do not set a boundary, “You may not treat me that way, you may not talk to me that way, no this is not okay,” then we invite disrespect. It’s a conversation that must start early, not months into the relationship.

I had a lady tell me once (long ago), “I know no matter how bad I treat you, you will always be there for me.” I thought to myself, “What kind of crazy have I signed up for.”

Loving someone does not mean you let them treat you poorly. That is called enabling. It is a form of codependency. Some think God is this way. He is not. His love does not change. He is not cheering when we misbehave. God sets boundaries-“If you do this, this is the result.” God allows natural consequences. He does not remove every consequence this side of heaven.

So with this lady, I pulled back from being her default when she had no boyfriend, the person who answered her calls in crisis. I removed myself from being a doormat under the umbrella of false love.

More examples:

I have an associate who is negative. This person loves to complain and focus on what is wrong. It drains me. I told the person this week, “I would love when we talk for it to be about something positive, goals, good things. What’s going right? There is enough crazy in the world, let’s be the change we wish to see.” I set a boundary. Please keep your constant complaining in your yard. Do I love this person, yes. Do I want to listen to hours of doom, gloom, negativity, gossip, he said/she said…no. I am not a garbage can.

I had a gentleman pursuing me who always wanted to wait until the last minute to set dates. I told him I would appreciate advance notice (not all the time-yet it was considerate to give others notice); texting me Friday afternoon to meet Friday night is a no go for constant meet ups. I set a boundary. He did not listen. So often he’d texted on Friday or Saturday afternoon and I was busy.

My female friend said it was a game to see if I was seeing other people. I am an adult. I only play games with actual children. Some may have thought that was cute. I did not. Maybe if we were a couple and had been dating awhile, yet not for someone I do not know well this was a no go and setting dates signifies value. Yes, be spontaneous…Also take the time to plan something. Gentlemen say, “I would love to see you Friday night, do you have plans?” That conversation happens before Friday. I am not clearing every weekend hoping a guy messages me. I have things to do.

If you make yourself so available to everyone, they will treat you like you have no value. If you do not value your time, value yourself, why should they? I am not saying play hard to get nor play games. I am saying if you do not respect and value your own time, others will not either.

Place God at the center. Would God want me treated this way? If not, why are you allowing it? How much time do I need to invest in this relationship? How much of my heart can they steward well? God knows.

If you have poor or low boundaries, then you will find disorder and dysfunction and poor treatment.

3. Quick to Trust and Dismissing Relational Red Flags.

I consider myself trustworthy. Therefore, I give people the benefit of the doubt. I have learned to pay attention. Watch people. Watch how they treat people. Watch how they talk about others. Do they tell everyone else’s business? They are not trustworthy with your business. Do they only show up when they need something? You are most likely a convenience. Do you make all the effort? You are in a one sided relationship. If they destroy others, do not think they will not do it to you.

Many times red flags are ignored under the, “I am a loving Christian.” Okay, be a loving Christian with wisdom. Wisdom says, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Wisdom says, “How can two be joined unless they agree?” Wisdom says, “Do not make partners with an angry person.” These are all in the Bible right along with love your neighbor. You can love someone without dating them, being close friends, being business or ministry partners, or marrying them.

One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou is as follows, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Unless they want to change or God changes them, that is what you are dealing with in a partner or friend.

4. You Are Pulling All the Relational Weight

I love giving. I love giving with no expectation of return. Yet there is wisdom required in giving as well. Too much time spent together, too much closeness without commitment, too much investment without any investment back is a set up for dysfunction.

Jesus loves perfectly and in exchange for our freedom He gave His life. When we enter into covenant, God asks for our life. Please understand God is not just giving, giving, giving and expecting nothing. He asks for our entire lives. It’s a bigger commitment than an earthly marriage.

This thought that selfless giving is to lead to one sided relationships is not covenant love. Relationships were designed to be give and take. If one person is doing all the work, it’s not love. Both people are to pursue the best interests of the other.

I have seen overgiving lead to abuse; it attracts narcissists and abusive people. Why? They thrive on taking. Selfless givers with no boundaries are easy targets.

A person who loves you will want to bless you too.

I have met so many people angry because they trusted too quickly, fell in love with the idea of someone, ignored red flags, and were burned poorly in a relationship. If you pay attention, people show you who they are. Their mouth speaks what their heart is full of and their actions, if you watch closely, manifest their heart and how they feel about you.

Placing God at the center can save us loads of heartache.

God help me to choose the right associates, friends, confidants, mate. Help me to set godly boundaries and respect those of others. I want to be the best friend I can be to someone and want that in return. Help me to not only be a blessing, but to cease settling for less than what you would offer. Break every cycle of dysfunction in my life and relationships. The common denominator is me. Show me what I am allowing or the poor or low boundaries. Help me to stay centered in you and have the best relationships possible. God help me to be healthy in my soul and attract and maintain relationships with healthy people. Jesus break cycles of dysfunction and it starts with me. Change me so I guard my heart and live out of wisdom and love! In Jesus powerful name.

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Pursue Jesus and Use Wisdom (Single & Following Jesus Series Part VIII)

For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly,~Psalm 84:11.

“Get [skillful and godly] wisdom! Acquire understanding [actively seek spiritual discernment, mature comprehension, and logical interpretation]!

Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not turn away from her (Wisdom) and she will guard and protect you;

Love her, and she will watch over you,”~Proverbs 4:5-6.

Wisdom is so vital in all of life.

Believers are encouraged to follow Jesus and acquire wisdom. The pursuit of wisdom is not for demonic wisdom; the wisdom of this age is not always in alignment with God.

Godly wisdom is pure, full of truth, love, and has the best interests of everyone involved considered. Godly wisdom is holy; it is without sin.

Our culture promotes immorality and sensuality. It is ungodly. The movies and tv promote immorality without ever truly showing the depths of the consequences for immoral choices.

Our culture also promotes the lie that sex or marriage will complete a person.

As stated last post, casual sex is promoted. Not only is casual sex promoted so is love at first sight, magical/mystical/over romanced/over sexualized relationships. Many of these relationships disregard wisdom, true God love, or God’s truths. They sound good, may look good, yet they do not hold onto goodness as you fast forward to when reality sets into the picture.

Ex: Henry and Julie who fell in love find out a year later after the honeymoon period is over that they have nothing in common that’s not physical, they the thrill is gone, they fight over money, they hate each other’s families, and they are miserable. This scenario rarely makes it to the big screen. Henry and Julie maybe pursued lust/feelings over wisdom and love. Then we see them break up (if unmarried) or divorce.

Follow Jesus:

Jesus is love, therefore pursuing God is pursuing love. God helps us to love ourselves and others. When God is first, the voids in our lives are filled by God. We then make decisions out of unselfish, sacrificial love not lust (which is about pleasing self), selfishness, desperation, or loneliness. God fills all the empty places so we enter relationships prepared to give, not with our hands out to receive or be made whole by an imperfect human. Only God can completely fill the voids of the soul and spirit. God solidifies identity, not a mate.

When God is first, He can bring in an equal complement/companion. Otherwise there may be a temptation to pursue a match that is less that God’s best. There are no perfect people, there are God matches that are better together than apart.

Wisdom says, “Will the relationship add value for both people? Is God at the center? Can we grow together? Is there mutual effort? Are we headed the same direction? How does this person handle life, conflict, money? Would God or my close friends/family choose this person for me? Is this person even interested in a lifelong partnership with me? Can we be allies? Are we friends?

If things do not work out, are we leaving the person in better shape than they were before they met us? Or are they in need of deep inner healing after connecting to us? Seriously think about what you bring to the table. Is it good? Does it add value?

The people who engage in sex outside of marriage are robbing a future spouse of intimacy with that person and their own future spouse. The one who engages in pornography is robbing themselves of deep intimacy and understanding of what God intended with sex. His design was always about love; unselfish, committed, holy, powerful, intimate, sacrificial love. The devil invites people to cheapen the most intimate act between a man and woman.

Love is willing to slow down and pray. Love is willing to evaluate the situation and relationship with God. Love wants to keep God in first place. Love pursues purity. Love is willing to set boundaries that offer protection of both people. Love is who God is.

Pursue Wisdom:

Let’s venture into another part of process, pursuing wisdom. I have met many people hurt because they forsook wisdom.

Ex: Susie likes John so she starts having dreams that he is the one. Obviously God speaks in dreams, so she should grab ahold to that dream and start planning their wedding in her head (not wisdom). Hit the mega pause button. I have seen women do this and ignore the actions of John. John is a jerk and mistreats everyone, yet there is this dream/prophetic word-so Susie holds on for dear life only to find out later John never wanted to marry her, or worse they get married and he’s an abuser.

Red Alert: Every dream, vision, prophetic word needs tested. Every single one. Do not just run with a “word” or “impression” or “dream” without testing it to see if it’s truly God. I do not care who the prophet was who gave that word, it needs tested and confirmed. The devil speaks and can invade dreams, impressions, visions.

If you think you heard from God about someone, pray and put that word on the shelf. I recommend praying, “God show me who this person really is,” and watching them. How do they treat you? Do you always initiate contact? Do they invest in you at all? How does being with this person impact your life? Are you constantly confused about where you stand with that person? Are they controlling, mean, unloving? Do they treat you with love, respect, honor?

Too many times people fall for who they want someone to be instead of who they really are. Would you let your best friend marry someone like the person you are interested in? If not, why are you in that relationship?

I have seen women chase men like they are Jesus then end up disappointed they are rejected. Relationships are not mean to be like the animal kingdom; chase, pursue, conquer. They are supposed to be about love. Love involves mutual pursuit.

Evaluate your relationship:

Is your relationship life giving? Or are you in tears or upset most of the time? God wants His very best for you, for everyone. God ordained matchups still have challenges, they should not be loaded with confusion, uncertainty, abuse, pain, and suffering.

I have also seen both men and women cling to the idea that someone loves them or is interested in them who will not commit to them nor express their intentions.

Ex: Karla has been into Jerry for years. Jerry flirts and is nice yet has never asked her on a date, never expressed interest, and does nothing to initiate contact or getting to know each other. Karla is convinced his flirting when he sees her is more than it is.

I work in a predominately male environment and they have told me, “We flirt because it’s fun. It makes us feel good.” Therefore there is no intention of a relationship. For the unsaved person there may be an intention of a hook up, but not marriage or a serious relationship.

Get Wisdom! Ask for discernment.

“Discernment is more than the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. It is the ability to differentiate between right and almost right.”

Wisdom looks at the future as well as the present. Wisdom prays and seeks godly counsel. Wisdom is a life preserver. Wisdom says, “Where is God in this situation? Are we are good match? Spiritually are we on the same page? Can we grow together? Is this someone God would choose for me? Are my God expectations on this person when they should be on God? How does this person treat people, including me? Does this person demonstrate any of the fruit of the Spirit?”

Papa God I pray every unmarried person pursues Jesus and wisdom. I bind any spirits of impatience, deception, selfishness, lust, false dreams/false prophecies, and declare soul health. Come Lord Jesus and fill every soul with your love, peace, joy, and purity. Fill every person to overflowing. Impart godly wisdom and truth. Help each person make wise decisions about relationships. Prepare each person for what you have for them. Heal all past relational wounding, in Jesus powerful name. Amen.

Do They Love You? (Sacred Sex Series Part VII) 

Morning Devotion (for the unmarried): Do they love you? What matters most in covenant is agape (God) love. 

Our culture praises fun, romance, sex, lust, and quick hookups. There is hyper focus on fantasy and eros love (sexual attraction/romantic love). 

There is little to no focus on agape love (unconditional, sacrificial, unselfish love). 

Agape love is the love Jesus demonstrates. He tells His followers the world would know them by this love. 

Some may say, “Agape belongs just between you and God or in church and not in marriage or friendship.” I strongly, strongly disagree. Why? Trials may hit your friendship or marriage. Eros (romantic love) or philia (brotherly love) or storage (family love) may jump ship or not hold up in testing and extreme trials. Why? Because when love hurts, when that person disappoints you, when they no longer can meet your needs, when the sparkle has fizzled, the flesh says, “Let’s ditch this zero and look for another fix.” 

I personally do not enjoy mistreatment, so there are some unrepentant people not a part of my circle. I still pray for them, would feed them if they were hungry, clothe them if naked, keep their confidences, and seek to do no harm. 

Only agape says, “Even in the worst of times, I still love you. I am praying for you. Even if it costs me greatly I am looking out for you. My love for you is unwavering, unyielding, stead fast, and will not be moved. In sickness, and in health. In good times, and in bad times. When you make my heart flutter and when you don’t. I will remain faithful in love for you.” This does not mean love fails to set boundaries (see paragraph above). Yet boundaries are for protection, not punishment or an excuse to withhold love. 

Agape love is covenant love. It will cost you. It is not based on feelings, it is a choice you make to show up and do right by someone even if they do not deserve it. It is the love that says, “Even if you have nothing to offer me or you loose it all. I am not going to abandon my covenant with you.” 

Agape love is what God demonstrated to Adam and Adam and Eve were supposed to demonstrate to each other. Agape is what Jesus tells us to demonstrate to the world, even our enemies, not just who we like.

So in navigating through the choices for a mate or a covenant friend, think, do they love you? Do they demonstrate the unselfish, sacrificial, unconditional love of God for you and others? Are they a servant or looking to be served? Are they in any way looking out for you, your best interests? Or are they looking for someone to bless them, care for them, be there for them? A deeply selfish person will hurt you. 

Lust vs. Love

Lust is selfish and can be mistaken for love. It is an intense feeling that wants to take from someone else for it’s own pleasure or personal gain. Lust will pursue to conquer. Lust will also abandon. Lust is never satisfied. 

Marriage goes not cure lust anymore than going to a bar cures alcoholism. Lust is a spirit and heart condition; Jesus can deliver anyone from lust. The natural condition for mankind is love, not lust. Lust came when sin came. Before lust there was blessing given by God for physical intimacy out of agape love. 

Love is looking for ways to give, add value, bless, empower, protect, and enhance. Love seeks to do things God’s way. Love is holy, pure, and eternal. 

Okay, you may be saying, “Love sounds hard. I just want to have fun!

Fun is great! I love to have fun. Yet just having fun does not make us covenant friends or marriage material. God and I have tons of fun; laughing parties, dancing, sharing dreams, life together. Yet we both know our love for the other is not dependent on having fun. There are times where He just had to hold me while I mourned. Times where I had to wait patiently on Him to finish what He started. Not always fun, yet we are in covenant. I love God even when walking with Him is challenging. He promises to never leave or forsake me. I know every day with me is not fun. Yet He stands in unwavering love. 

What about that spark, physical attraction? 

God is pro chemistry. Hormones were His idea. He was the Author of attraction, sex, and romance. Yep. God, not Hollywood. God’s version of romance leads to greater intimacy (knowing) in a safe environment. God seeks to protect hearts and bodies, not destroy them or use them. 

God created physical intimacy with boundaries. Those who live their lives based solely on what pleases the flesh will often find they are led by lust not love. What if your spouse can no longer meet your physical needs? Are you leaving? Cheating? Withholding love? Angry? What if that person loses their health, looks, or possessions? Lust says, “Go where your needs are going to be met.” Lust is selfish. Love is unselfish and faithful. 

In a world that says, “Do what feels good to you.” God offers something so much better, agape love. 

Does that potential mate or close, covenant friend love you? Really love you? Do they love anyone besides themselves, their family, and friends? What is their character and heart? 

If presented with the chance to be close friends or a spouse I am examining how the person loves. I have met many people in my lifetime who claimed to love me, I am their best friend or like family, and several men who said I was their choice for a wife, yet in the end they did not truly love me. Some loved the idea of me. Some loved the way I loved them or loved their families. Some loved or lusted after what was on the outside. Some evaluated how I could add value to their lives or business or church. Some just wanted to check their box, “Found me a wife or good friend.” Some were deeply selfish. And at the end of the day, I do not care how much money you have, or about titles or superficial things, how well do you love? 

Sweet friends, God loves you and wants you loved in return. One sided love is not a relationship, it’s charity. Charity (ministry) is great. Love without strings attached. Yet in covenant you will need someone willing to pour back the love you pour out. God set up relationships for mutual love and blessing. 

God bless you in your unmarried years and those who never wish to marry. Follow hard and fast after Jesus. God loves you and has incredible plans for your life, whether married or unmarried. He is your eternal covenant, stronger and better than any earthly covenant. He is the best Lover of your soul. You are so valuable to Him and SOooooooo deeply loved.

Choosing the Right Mate (Sacred Sex Series Part VI) 

  

  

Morning Devotion: God loves to pair people for mutual blessing and a catapulting of destiny. A look at Godly connections for marriage. 

Marriage is more than sex and fun, it’s a Kingdom partnership to help establish God’s Kingdom on earth. 

When people look for a car or to buy a house, they do some research. Most homebuyers do a home inspection. Car buyers may get a Carfax report. They examine the condition of the inside. Yet when people are thinking about marriage or even friendship, there can be minimal to no research on the character or inner workings of a person. There may be an assessment of 1. Do we have fun? 2. Do I like this person? 3. Am I attracted to what is on the outside? 

Here are some problems with ignoring what’s inside. 

1. When storms come and they do, pretty/handsome and fun mean nothing. Beauty fades. What happens if your significant other is injured, their beauty taken away, and you have to care for them. A shallow person may jump ship, abandon, or leave you hanging. Why? Challenges and storms are not fun. To be in a place to care for someone who can do nothing for you is not fun to the flesh. 

What happens if that person can no longer meet your physical needs? Will you abandon them to get your needs met someplace else. Covenant says, “For better or worse, in sickness and in health, I am going to love you and stand by you.” 

Our culture focuses so much on chemistry, sex, fun, and the flesh. I am so not against those things. Yet if they are the foundation, they are a very shaky foundation. 

The married couples I know who lasted 40-55 years focused on friendship, learning to love, forgiveness, compromise, and doing what was best for the other person. They sought to honor God through their interactions with the other person. Even when they did not like the other person, they chose love. 

Does the person you are interested in demonstrate noble character and unselfish love? Do they exhibit faithfulness? Are they loyal? How do they treat people who can do nothing for them? How do they love God? How do they handle finances? How do they spend their free time? How do they feel about themselves? 

If they are unloving, unkind to other people and loving to you, that is a red flag. If they only connect with God for what they can get, they will do the same to you. If they are unfaithful in other areas of their life, that’s something to investigate. 

The flesh will easily go along with what it thinks will please it. Flesh does not do so well when it is challenged, there is pain, delayed gratification, or challenges. The flesh tries to avoid pain or challenges. You will be surprised how many divorces or infidelity happen after a major sickness, trauma, or tragedy in a marriage. 

2. After all the hormones subside and the flesh is gratified, you are left to live with their character. 

When we first meet someone and we like them, hormones are high. If there is chemistry it makes a person feel on top of the world. The hormone high does not last. Scientists have studied the hormones involved in attraction. After a year, the intense high starts to lower. After 7 years your body becomes accustomed to them. Hence the phrase “The 7 year itch.” Then if you do not have real love, many jump ship for what’s new. The first year, after the 7th year, after kids, and after kids leave the nest are markers for marriage. If you only have lust and fun, your building will not stand. 

3. Destiny is not examined. 

Every person has a divine purpose for being born. Some seek God for destiny, some choose their own. Yet examining a potential life partner just for what’s outside and fun can lead to a wrong choice. 

Example (names changed): 

Lisa and John met. John loved her beauty and love for Jesus. Lisa married John. Lisa always felt called to teach and impact the world through teaching children. John after several years of marriage makes Lisa quit teaching school and stay home. They have over a half dozen children and it leads her to have a total mental breakdown. She recovers, yet feels her dreams are not even considered. They are not considered. John is about building his Kingdom. Lisa is there to serve him. She can do nothing without John’s approval. Lisa eventually dies. She was happy to die, she was tired of being drug around by her husband. 

Some may say this was a good marriage. I disagree. God looks to advance and enhance our destiny, not diminish our destiny. Lisa wanted to teach. She taught John many things. He, however, felt men are the only ones to work. He also felt headship meant boss instead of support/servant/the one who sacrifices the most. He modeled worldly dictatorship not the Christlike love of Jesus that seeks to elevate, sacrificially serve, empower. 

I believe Jesus would have empowered Lisa to teach, cheer for her dream, support her, and be her greatest support. Head also means source or support. Yet many use head to mean dictator, boss, parent. Jesus did (does) not model dictatorship. He modeled support, a source of life/encouragement, and sacrificial love. Jesus never tries to kill my dreams to benefit himself. Why? Jesus is not selfish nor insecure. 

I have had people try to push me into marrying a certain person, yet I know part of my destiny. When I was quite young God told me why I was born, some of the countries I would travel to, and my purpose. He has confirmed His words through many people and it matches my heart desires. When men come wanting to diminish who God says I am or negate what He told me to do, I say no. Why? A man is not more important than God. 

Any person who wants to diminish who you are is insecure and insecure people make relationships challenging and in many cases toxic or one sided. Insecurity is self focused, “What about me? Me! Me! Me!“. It’s fruits are jealousy, constantly needing affirmation/validation, easily offended, suspicion, selfishness, rejection/self rejection, emotional instability and can cause abuse (verbal, physical, or sexual). 

How can two be joined together lest they agree? I know part of my destiny involves global missions and actually going into other countries to share the Gospel, part of my destiny involves evangelism/teaching/and doing what Jesus did. 

Men who think women can not do those things is not for me. Men who believe women were only created to be their slaves and sex partners are not for me. Men who care nothing about who I am and focus only on their fleshly attraction are not for me. Men who do not truly love God and seek to honor Him are not for me. Men who are grossly selfish and do not care about the poor are not for me. My life is centered around a passionate love for God and intimacy with Him. My ministry in the world is seeking to heal, feed, deliver the oppressed, least, last, lost. 

May all the singles spend time with God when choosing a life partner. It is a more important decision than buying a car or house. Everything that glitters is not God. The flesh will say, “Pick the fun, super attractive one.” The Spirit will say, “Pay attention to their character. What will you build together?” 

May singles look with eyes of the Spirit. This person will either draw you closer to God and help catapult your destiny or diminish it. 

Unashamed (Sacred Sex Series Part II) 

  
This photo from wordswag is of two ballerinas, male and female dancing. They are wearing white leotards/tights. Just clarifying so no one freaks out. 🙂 

Here is the original (beautiful right?): 

  In the continuation of this series I have been thinking about Genesis 2:25. It reads: 

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

We know the word naked means without clothing. They were vulnerable. There was nothing they felt they needed to hide or airbrush away. 

Adam and Eve had no insecurities. They did not have body issues or body shame. They did not have lust issues. They did not pick each other apart, “Where are your six pack abs? Maybe a few runs around the Garden might help you out!” 

They were free to be who God created them to be; loved, seen, secure, and known in the boundary of covenant. 

They knew no shame. Carrying shame is not our friend. Repeat with me, “Carrying shame is not my friend.” Awesome, we are on the same page. Carrying shame leads to pain.

What on earth is shame some may ask? Let’s talk about shame. 

Shame:

a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.

synonyms:

humiliation, mortification, chagrin, ignominy, embarrassment, indignity, discomfort, guilt, remorse, contrition, compunction. 

Lets’s look at Genesis 3:6-13, when shame entered the equation. 

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.

And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”

Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”
And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The aftermath of the first sin was as follows: 

  • Feel uncovered/vulnerable
  • Cover up yourself/your vulnerability 
  • Fear 
  • Hide from God 
  • Blame 

After the fall, Adam and Eve realized they had no clothes-they realized their vulnerability and sin. They decided they would fix the problem by covering up their vulnerability and then hide from God. They, for the first time, knew sin. 

Adam blamed Eve. Eve goes on to blame the serpent and well it just spirals downward. Oh, the dreaded curses of the Fall. 

Before you check out because Adam and Eve’s sins brought pain, death, turmoil, shame, and heartache into humanity know Jesus was already a part of God’s plan to redeem humanity. Praise pause. 

God knew before creating humanity  we would mess up. I will maybe touch on that in another post. He also knew Adam was hiding. Interesting! 

Sin leads to hiding. Sin, untouched by the forgiveness of God, leads to shame-unless our sense of right and wrong is perverted/seared/numbed. 

Women and shame: 

Sometimes the shame comes not from the sins we have committed, but from the sins committed against us. I have prayed for and peer counseled women who have been sexually abused, sexually harassed, or verbally abused. They grew to hate their bodies, their sexuality, or sex altogether. Some were used by men for sex. Some gave themselves away. Some struggled with their desires, thought life. Why? Sin leads to shame. 

Women especially are judged by their physical appearance and sex appeal. I have heard men state, “Women are only good for one thing.” There are too many stats on rape, sexual abuse, pornography, the sexist images of women, and the exploitation of women to talk about it here. 

Just know God created women to be loved. He says, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” God likes who He created and woman was not just created simply to meet a physicial need for man. God gave woman a brain, a heart, and she was created in the image of God to be loved by God and by man. Love is not about taking or self gratification. Love is about giving. Agape love is not selfish. 

Men and shame:

Sexual and physical abuse hurts men too. I have not counseled men, so I have less experience in this area. I do know men are judged by how “manly” they can be. I hear them talk about this “man card.” So there is intense pressure to be validated by other men and I have seen men shame or humiliate other men who where not “masculine” enough. If you add in sexual abuse, especially by a another man that can lead to deep rooted shame. There can also be fear of not being man enough. 

I have heard men say they felt shame for their high desires for physical intimacy. Some run like the wind from any pretty woman. Others have secret lives of images they view on a screen or an inner world that lacks purity (some women do too).

Some struggle with same sex attraction (both genders) and feel deep fear and shame. 

Some do not know the difference between lust and God given attraction to the opposite sex. 

God’s plan (love, intimacy, covenant): 

Sex was God’s idea. His intention was physical intimacy inside the boundaries of commited love between a man and woman. Why? So they could be vulnerable, protected, loved, known, cared for, and unashamed. 

God is all about love and connection. He is relational. He also established the first family through procreation. 

When someone loves  unconditionally, truly loves, you can let your defenses down and be vulnerable. You are free to be who you are. Just as in the Garden, Adam and Eve were vulnerable and without shame (fear, hiding, humiliation, embarrassment). 

Every human being was created for intimacy (to be known and loved). Our world focuses so much on the physical aspect of intimacy. Yet God sees beyond the physical. 

We were created to be loved, respected, known, secure, and cared for. To God intimacy is about connection and not just pleasure. God created physical intimacy to connect two souls, bodies, spirits. It was designed for more than procreation and pleasure. 

He said, “I will give man and woman a way to be loved and known on a deep level. Two become one.” This does not mean you morph into one person. It means the connection joins two people. 

Those in Christ are joined with Him. We become one with the Lord. This does not mean God becomes us or we become God. It does not mean we lose our identity either. It means we are connected through an eternal covenant of love through faith; heart to heart, spirit to Spirit. 

Shame seeks to pervert love and destroy intimacy. The cycle of shame is filled with hiding, fear, feeling bad, sin-then hiding, fear, feeling bad, more sin…you get the picture. We were not designed for shame. We were made for agape love. We were not created to try to measure up to some magazine or movie standard. We were not created to be abused or treated like a disposable object. We were not created to hide or pretend, or blame or seek to cover ourselves. We were created for relationship with God then others. 

Jesus is the only One who can pay for our sins. He is the covering. So, no matter whether we have sinned or been sinned against-we seek a Savior. He is Jesus. All failures, insecurities, abuse, misplaced appetites, affections, desires for affection, all of it can be laid at His feet. Jesus paid it all. He took our shame so we could live unashamed! 

Father God for any person who is struggling tonight with shame, I ask for a washing in Your love and power. If there are things which require repentance and greater freedom, please bring them to light. Align minds with Yours. Lord Your loving light heals anything in the darkness. Only Your Son can cover. Your perfect love casts out fear. No more hiding. May everything be laid before You. You love us so. In Jesus powerful name. Amen. 

Give Me or Prepare Me? (Relationship Series)

  
I’ve heard so many people cry out, “God send me this amazing person.” Yet I’ve not heard as many pray, “God prepare me for this amazing person. What do they need?”

God is a gift giver and loves to give good gifts to His children. He tells us… 

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes],~James 1:17 (Amplified). 

Are you preparing for what you are asking Him for? Becoming the type of person you’d  want to be with? 

How Does One Prepare? 

1. Putting God First; Seeking Him Above All Things 

If intimacy with God is sought before a mate, there’s a higher probability of maintaining proper focus and healthy identity. 

Marriage is one of the acceptable idols in our culture and the church. Identity in marital status is seen everywhere. Marriage is seen as validation when God is supposed to be the One who defines who a person is. 

Seeking a spouse to fill a need only God can fill is actually idolatry. He’s the Source of eternal love, identity, security, peace, joy, hope. A spouse is to compliment, not complete or replace God. 

No spouse can be God. He has no equals. He cannot be replaced with a human being. Even married couples are supposed to seek Him first before each other. Meaning personal relationship with God doesn’t end because someone said “I do.”

2. Pursue Soul Healing 

Brokenness attracts brokenness. Marriage does not fix brokenness it amplifies it. If there are issues in the soul (fear, insecurity, depression, lust, selfishness, poor spending habits, addiction, anger, low self esteem), it’s a great time before marriage to allow God to work on those things. 

One of my frequent prayers is, “God purge my soul of anything that isn’t like You! I want nothing in common with darkness.” He has been and is working out His character in my life and healing my soul. 

3. Serve

Say what? Yes I said serve. A child of God is called to be a servant. Leaders are servants. It’s easy to serve someone when there is personal gain. What happens when they have nothing to offer? 

Science has shown that chemicals and hormones play a role in connecting people. These do not last, once they wear off…that’s when many people say they are no longer “in love.” The passion and chemistry that was helped along by hormones has diminished. 

If the mentality is, “This person will make me feel good, help me, support me…” What happens when they can’t? Then there’s discontentment or searching for someone else who can fulfill a need. 

We can always serve. Psychologists have shown the one who gives is the one who eventually grows to love. They are invested. Consumers don’t stay in love for they have nothing invested. Hence the Bible telling us to give, and do nothing out of selfish ambition. Love gives. It’s a good lesson to learn before “I do.” It’s for life. 

I had a lady tell me once she needed a really hot husband who could make her happy. I said, “What if he gets sick and can’t do anything for you,” she responded, “I don’t think I could stay with him.” 

Our culture promotes selfishness. It’s not Christlike. Jesus was and is a servant. 

Selfishness differs from self care. We are to take care of ourselves: rest, eat healthy, take breaks, set boundaries, and fuel our spirit/body/soul good things. 

4. Pray For That Future Person  

Why not? If marriage is your desire, praying for your future spouse is an investment. Everyone needs prayer. There’s a great book on the market called Heavenly Union. Great for already married couples too! Highly recommend. It’s only $6.99 for Kindle. The prayers are scripture prayers. 

Heavenly Union: Decrees for a Heavenly Marriage
5. Save Some Money and Pay Off Debt 

I’m not saying this is a requirement. Just wouldn’t it be nice to go in with something? I read somewhere that the average American wedding was ~30,000. There are some starting their lives together in significant debt: loans, credit cards. 

I admit I have student loans and a house loan. These will take a while to pay off. Yet I’m doing what I can to invest in God’s Kingdom and save. 

Sample budget. 

  • God first: 10%
  • Bills (house, utilities, food/gas…)
  • Offerings: 3 to 5%
  • Blessing others: 5 to 10% 
  • Savings/Retirement: 15 to 20%

I could bump up my savings and not give offerings or bless people, yet that doesn’t fit my core value of generosity. I’ve found that being a blessing to others never leaves me with less than I need. God always sends it back, multiplied! 

There’s overgiving, make sure you’re paying your bills and using wisdom. Yet don’t be afraid to give and save. 

Money causes many arguments in relationships. Learning how to budget and manage it is a good skill to have. I’m still learning too, so much! I don’t like to spend, I like to save and invest. Seeking wisdom on investing so God gets more return. It’s His money, we are stewards. 

Highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s resources. 

Dave Ramsey Financial Freedom Website
Lastly, prayer for you. 

Papa God I ask for all the singles desiring marriage that You would prepare them and their future spouse for each other. I ask for souls to be healed, identies rooted in You, wisdom in choosing a spouse, freedom from choosing out of loneliness/need/fear/lust or selfish reasons. I ask for a deeper revelation of Your great love! In Jesus powerful name. Amen. 

Choosing God’s Best 

  
Do you have God’s vision for your life? Do you know why you were born? Does the person you’re romantically interested in share that vision? Are you headed in the same direction? Hopefully towards God. Are you on the same page or hoping to get there after I do? Are you accepting the person as is or hoping you can mold them into what you think you need or want? Are you there to give or help or take? Is this God’s best or what’s readily available?

What’s the God given vision for your life:

I was one of those strange kids who was always planning and executing. I had quite the adventure going on underneath my parents dining room table. I mean I’d spend hours creating by myself or working on a project or reading. 

I know who I am and truly believe I have a somewhat grasp on why I am here on earth. My life vision from God involves taking the Gospel to the Nations, discipling others so they can walk as Jesus walked, writing books/music that “hopefully” bring Him great glory. I have a passion to represent His love and power in the earth. I’m a worshipper. I was born to worship Him, to bring Him glory. I wake up early to worship Him and end the day worshipping God. I have a vision of reaching the Nations with His love, His word, and His healing. This vision drives me. And His great love. The book blog is already reaching over 120 countries with the word. Each day reaching people all over the world. 

So when I meet men who want a sidekick, a silent partner, a woman with no vision/ambition, who will simply drop any call God has on her life to silently support them (wrong understanding of the word helper used for woman and Holy Spirit in the Bible), I must say, “I don’t.

I think of the strong women in the Bible who submitted to God and changed Nations (Deborah, Esther). They obeyed God rather than man. They made their first allegiances to God. That’s my desire. For God to get the greatest glory from my life. He’s first. 

He’s a Good, Good Father!

I think God is good. Don’t you agree? 

I think He joins two people who can both fulfill the call on their lives. Maybe not at the same time all the time, yet I have seen it and it’s beautiful. God never intended for woman to be the slave of man. The word head used as man is the head of woman means, man is where she came from like the head of a river. God pulled Eve out of Adam. It was never to mean than man becomes God and woman has no purpose other than wife/mum (yes noble/good). Women were prophets, judges, followers of Jesus, taught men, evangelists…if you want a great book that dissects Paul’s letters that seem to limit women check out The 10 Lies the Church Tells Women to Keep Them in Bondage by Lee Grady

Even God doesn’t treat people like silent partners or sidekicks. He raises His children up to heavenly places and makes them coheirs with Christ. He empowers His children.  He gives life, and Jesus laid down His life. Jesus doesn’t abuse, dominate, control, silence, bully, or mistreat His Bride. He loves her, and leads as a servant. 

You have a purpose and vision too! 

Even if we don’t have an identical mission; You’ll be a missionary in China. We have the base mission from Jesus. He said: Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 

We have a base base mission to put God first (not a spouse or family or friend), love God, love ourselves (needed to love the neighbor), love our neighbor as ourselves, make disciples, heal the sick, deliver the oppressed…freely we have received and freely we are to give. 

So if you’re a follower of Jesus and someone comes along and they have no vision, no desire to do what Jesus said, how can the two of you become one and fulfill a mission together? 

I lead teams and one rogue team member sets the team off course. There’s tension, disappointment, and frustration. God is not the author of confusion or chaos.

Joining two lives/two families:

Marriage is a covenant. A joining of two lives, bodies, and a knitting together of souls. If there is not shared vision, there is division. 

So if you’re dating, what’s God’s vision for your Union? How will you fulfill it together? 

If you’re interested in someone, what’s their vision or calling from God? If you are called to travel the world setting up mission bases and they hate traveling, how’s that going to work? 

What’s your vision/plan for parenting/discipling or caring for children, caring for the home, finances, giving, serving God, caring for elderly parents, handling conflict? 

God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we want, what we need, and what we were created for. Truly believe God gives His best to us. No human is perfect, so it’s not about perfection. It’s about God offering what’s a mutual blessing. 

People keep telling me to settle for okay, good, and some not so good. Yet I know my Father, He’s amazing. He knows me and why I was born. He gives GOOD, excellent gifts. He’s no deadbeat Dad. And if I never marry you will find me blissfully happy dancing before my King because I want Him (God) more than anything. 

So my challenge for you is this. 

  • Pray and ask God to send You His very best. 
  • Ask Him to prepare you both to be what’s best for the other person. 
  • Dive deep into intimacy with God. 
  • Let God heal and meet those needs first. 
  • Love God first and most. 
  • And most of all don’t settle for something God wouldn’t be honored to give you. Or marry someone as a project or for their potential (listen to God). 

Love, 

Erin