Seek to Add Value (Single & Following Jesus Part XII)

What does it mean to add value?

We live in a world of gimmie and bless me and serve me. In an ideal world, one with Jesus at the center, there would be lots of, “How can I serve you? How can I bless you? What about you?

If we all looked out for each other, every person would come into relationships looking for ways to help and bless the other person. There would be no one sided relationships, abuse, infidelity, dishonesty, selfishness, consumers in relationships, gross hurt or unnecessary pain. Utopia right?

The only perfection this side of eternity is found in Jesus. We are not perfect, He is. We can pursue abiding in His love so others around us are blessed.

When you and I set our minds on being a blessing it gives us the opportunity to love. Love is not selfish.

Love serves. Jesus did not come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom.

The example of Jesus does not mean we offer up to everyone endless pouring out. Why? The one who gives the most is the one who ends up attached and loving.

It is important to use wisdom with our attachments. Though we are encouraged to just give and give, pour out and pour out…if you do not use wisdom you can end up having your heart shredded.

God intended for relationships to be reciprocal and involve commitment, not be one sided. God intended for both people to be loved and stewarded well. Love is supposed to be safe.

The level of access someone has to us should increase with the level of commitment.

Adding value is not giving everyone equal access to your heart.

Before you give your heart away, is the other person trustworthy to steward your heart. What is this person’s commitment to you? Casual, then their access should reflect that. Growing, they show you they are trustworthy, then a bit more knowing. Closeness/committed, then a bit more with the deepest intimacy (emotional, spiritual, or physical) happening inside of marriage. Some share way too much while dating to have their hearts broken. Engagement implies commitment, it is not marriage. Dating is not engagement. How much are you giving away?

Adding value is not sex outside marriage!

Some give their bodies away with zero commitment thinking giving without commitment will lead to love. Well, giving your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit away without an eternal covenant (commitment) is actually sin and not demonstrating self value. It’s like having a 1,000,000 car and giving people free rides. They have no plan on caring for the car, they just enjoy the ride. Our bodies are MORE valuable than a car. Would you give someone you just met a billion dollars? Probably not if you do not know someone. Yet movies show people climbing in and out of bed like it’s nothing.

Sex is more than a physical act, it joins two people in the soulish and spiritual realm. You are saying, “Whatever is in you, I invite into me.” Two people link in body, soul, flesh. God designed sex to unite people for life. His motivation was love (giving, knowing, intimacy), not lust (taking, self pleasure). The only closer connection is between God and born again believers where His Spirit lives in us.

Why use boundaries with giving or giving everyone equal access to us? The giver has the most invested. This means you do not treat boyfriends and girlfriends like husbands and wives. There are certain parts of our lives that are off limits. There are boundaries we need to have in place to prevent heart entanglements without commitment, emotional attachment too soon, over-giving, oversharing, etc. There is wisdom in what we give to friends as well.

The goal is to look at each relationship and see what you can bring to add value. This can consist of:

  • Encouragement
  • Listening
  • Kindness
  • Asking, “How are you?” and caring about the answer
  • Being honest
  • Being present
  • Devoting some time (texting and emails are not the same as quality time in person)
  • Inquiring about another person’s life
  • Caring about what interests the other person
  • Offering to help with something
  • Supporting something they care about
  • Loyalty
  • Initiating instead allowing all contact to be one sided
  • Being honest about what you like and don’t like
  • Not pretending (some pretend while getting to know someone that they like certain things or they are someone else-be the real you!)

If we ask God, He will show us ways to add value. Different people have different likes and dislikes. I may love something that someone else dislikes. The goal is to be on the lookout for what blesses someone else.

Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others,~Phil 2:4.

This means we also do not go into relationships as consumers. Over the years I have met several men who came with their wife list. They were checking off boxes. They were not looking for how to be a blessing, they were looking to be blessed. They were not looking to serve, they were seeking to be served. It was not about love; it was about selfishness. As long as I appealed to their flesh and met a few criteria I could (in their minds) be wooed or bought into relationship. Like a car they saw something they wanted and desired to purchase. If they could flash enough money or try to charm me, then magically I would fall for them and sign up for a life of servanthood. Ummmmm no. They had little plans to serve or love like Jesus.

Marriage is supposed to be about two people loving and serving each other. People are not objects we buy to please us. Our world suffers greatly because things are being loved and people used. People are to be loved. Love seeks to serve, help, support, give, invest, and add value. Does your person of interest care about adding value or are you an object they seek to obtain to please them? Do they take any interest in your life? Or is it all about them?

Let me tell you an important truth, selfish people hurt others. If you have grossly selfish friends or a grossly selfish mate you will experience pain and deep hurt. Do NOT think if they are selfish in the beginning you are going to change that. God changes selfish hearts, we are not God.

My encouragement to every person is to seek to add value and look for those who add value. It is not selfish to wish for a mate who actually cares about you, for who you are-not because they are lonely, lusting, trying to fill a void. Adding value is not about money, it’s about genuine love. You and I were created to be loved!

Love,

Erin Lamb

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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.

Never Alone (Single & Following Jesus Series Part IV)

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Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close,~Psalm 27:10. 

…I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age,~Matthew 28:20 (Amplified Version). 

One of the things people think of the unmarried is they battle with significant loneliness. I want to let you in on a little secret, there are married people who have the same struggle. 

Over the years I have encountered numerous married people who feel alone in their marriage. They have someone to live with them, yet the other person is more like a roommate. 

These are some real quotes from married women. 

“He’s more interested in video games than he is in me.” 

“I feel like I am living with a big child. I just take care of everything.” 

“There is nothing worse than rolling over next to someone not interested in you.” 

“My husband changed the moment I said ‘I do.'”

“I spend most of my time by myself.” 

I highly recommend each person maintain their relationship with God, let it go deeper, and maintain community. 

I have seen roughly 60% of the couples married the past 10 years divorce and they did not really maintain friendships with anyone outside of their spouse. They also allowed their relationship with God to fizzle. 

Adam did not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit or other humans. Marriage provided human community. We are meant to have human community and family. 

The first stop is God. 

There are needs only God can fulfill. He is always present. God never leaves, nor forsakes. God is good. God can fill our love bucket to overflowing. God is to be the primary source of community. 

If we have the Holy Spirit, we have full access to God. We have a built in best friend. 

The second stop is family/friendships. 

I lumped friendships and family together because not everyone has an incredible family that is supportive, loving, or present. 

Cultivating healthy, God centered friendships is one way to combat lonliness. 

I have had a few people state they struggle with making friends. The only counsel I have is be a good friend. In our world of busyness and look out for yourself, it can be challenging to make genuine friendships. It is not impossible. 

Papa God I ask for any person reading this to have authentic, loving, mutual, good, and blessed relationships. I ask for blessed community and that you would bring people into their lives that love them deeply and fully. I ask for iron sharpening iron relationships. I ask for genuine friendships and family (spiritual and natural). May not one person feel excluded, left out, or unloved. 

Community Involvement

I truly believe we are here to make a difference, not just consume from others and the world. 

Psychology Today did a report that stated that those who invest in others feel more joy and connection. 

We are not alone in this world. Getting together with others for a greater good is one way to combat loneliness. I am not suggesting we should give for selfish motives. I am saying sitting at home all the time without any human connection, thinking about a marital relationship, is not the best use of time. It is actually a waste of time. There are so many other things that can be done. 

Who wants their legacy to be, “Died glued to the couch.” 

The truth is even if a person feels alone does not mean they are alone. God is Emmanual (God with us). God also knit every believer into His family. God’s spiritual family has billions of people. There are churches everywhere with connect groups, small groups, and many have community outside Sunday mornings. 

I also meet people all the time who say they wish for a friend or community yet they never do the inviting/pursuing. They expect to be pursued, invited. It’s okay to be the one who invites someone else out for coffee or lunch. It is okay to start your own group, club, or organize events. It’s okay to leave the house. The computer and Netflix will be there when you get back home. 🙂 

Lord I bless every person reading this series. Help them to see they are never alone. They are wanted, cherished, loved, celebrated, desired, and significant. Bless each person, married or single, with divine connections and deeper intimacy with you. Heal their souls from any loneliness, pain, or feelings of being left out. In Jesus powerful name. Amen! 

Enjoy Your Season (Relationship Series)

  
I have learned how to be content with whatever I have,~Phil 4:11 (Apostle Paul)

There’s beauty in contentment. It’s the ability to express gratitude in the moment, in the season. It’s a choice to look at what God is doing, what God has done, and find joy in Him alone. 

I’ve met so many people on my walk with God who are waiting for something to happen to enjoy life. If only I could, “Have a boyfriend or girlfriend.” If only I could, “Get married or have children.” If only I could, “Have a best friend or tons of friends to do things with, then I’d be happy.” 

The problem with this type of thinking is it negates that every blessing brings a new set of challenges. Adding people to our lives reduces the amount of free time we have. We have a new level of sacrifice that is required if we want to be good, quality friends and not deadbeats. We have to learn the other person’s strengths and weaknesses. 

The movies often do a poor job of expressing the reality of real relationships. They don’t show the seasons, the learning, the growing, the akwardness, the suffering, disappointment, or sorrow. What is painted is non stop Magical Kingdom. Who doesn’t love adventure, fun, good times all the time? The reality is anything worth having takes effort. 

Healthy relationships are also based on two people having their own lives and identies. Unhealthy relationships are codependent. When relationships are used as a means to find identity and happiness it leads to heartache. 

I’ve had long term relationships. My happiness did not come from that person. It came from God. So when God let me know that relationship wasn’t headed in the right direction I could step away and still live a fulfilled, joyful life. 

People don’t complete us, God does. Any source of identity or fix for contentment outside God leads to pain. People are not God. God never intended for others to fulfill us. 

Contentment in God is the best place. God does not change. God is stable. God’s love and affection is not wavering. He doesn’t love one minute and then withhold love another. God’s love isn’t shallow, based on our appearance or what we can do for Him. God’s love isn’t selfish. He’s not simply looking out for Himself. God’s love isn’t based on merit, it’s independent of our behavior. 

An identity rooted in Christ is rock solid. An identity rooted in relationships with people is like the shifting sands. It can fade away. Spouses can pass away, children too. Friends can come and go. Dating or courtships can end. No one can separate us from God’s love. 

Joy rooted in God grows with relationship and abiding in Him. Joy rooted in what’s happening is simply happiness and can be taken away or shifted based on circumstances. 

Contentment rooted in who God is lasts for eternity. 

I’m unmarried…so I continually give thanks for the following. 

  • God’s unfailing love and friendship. 
  • As much time as I want with God.
  • The ability to truly invest in people’s lives without distractions. 
  • The ability to be present without wondering what a spouse or children need. 
  • Sleep and rest.
  • Traveling wherever I want to go, whenever I want to go. 
  • The ability to be involved in and lead multiple ministries. 
  • Time with my family that’s undivided-there’s one not two families to keep up with.
  • Serving others by opening my home, giving of my time. 
  • A clean house. 
  • Money to bless others in need. The ability to sow into others without checking in with someone. 
  • Peace. 
  • Quiet. 
  • The ability to work and go to school.
  • Learning more of who I am in Christ and my individual destiny with God. 
  • Feeling loved and cherished every day by God. 
  • Being under God’s authority which is always used to love and protect, not out of selfishness or control. 
  • Being loved for who I am not what I have to offer or my physical appearance. 
  • Growing in Godly confidence and wisdom.
  • Writing and lots of time to write/create. 
  • Adventures with God and friends.
  • Building a business with God. 
  • Time alone with Holy Spirit to be taught by Him.
  • Having my heart, mind, body protected.

I also give thanks for the basics: food, water, shelter, and clean clothing. I give thanks for everything! God is good all the time. In every single season, God is good. 

Whether you are married or single, theres something to be thankful for and contentment can be found in God. I encourage everyone to make a list of things they are thankful for and thank God. 

God bless you! 

Erin Lamb 

Joined Together (Identity in Christ Part 17)

Couple on Beach

Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness?~ 2 Corinthians 6:14.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you,~John 15:19.

Tonight, I wanted to tackle a somewhat controversial topic, our associations with non-believers. Some read scriptures and say that we should no longer associate with anyone who does not believe what we believe. That is not what Jesus modeled for us. He interacted with sinners, ate with them, and treated them well (Matthew 9:10). He loved us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). The verses in the Bible that warn us not to be yoked, linked, bound, and to have partnership with those who have no love for Christ speak to something deeper. It is not that as believers we are more valuable or loved by God. God loves everyone the same. The Bible does not tell us to look down our noses at anyone, but to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We are not to be arrogant. We are also not called to forsake wisdom.

To be yoked which 2 Corinthians 6:14 original translation used, meant to be tied together, joined together, linked in a bond where one person went, the other must follow. A good example you may be able to relate to is a three legged race. If the two people are tied together, there is no opportunity to go a separate way. One will have to compromise. God advises us not to be linked, joined, and partnered in situations with people who do not love Him and the choices made can cause us to forsake His ways for the relationship. It’s not a, “Avoid all people who don’t think like you.” It’s a “Don’t link your life to things or relationships that may cause you to compromise.” In our day and time I can think of several examples.

1. Marriage. God tells us not to marry someone who does not believe in Him or follow Him. Not to be cruel or controlling, but He knows that in marriage two become one. How can two be joined together if they do not agree? He also states that if you marry someone and they don’t believe, it’s not grounds for divorce. So, if you’re already married to someone who is not a believer, leaving them solely for that reason is not validated by scripture. God knows trying to join two lives together with two people who love God can be challenging. Trying to join two people where one is in love with God and the other is not, can be more challenging.

2. Business partnerships.  Being business partners is something to pray about, seek God, and seek Godly counsel. If you link your life or livelihood to someone who has different morals, ethics, and core values, you may run into trouble down the line if they decide to go in a direction that is opposite your belief system.

3. Friendships, close friendships. I have friends who do not love God. I love them the same as the ones who do. I do not, however, engage in all the same activities they do. I do not compromise my beliefs to be there for them. If they go some place I don’t feel is appropriate for me to go, I don’t go. God is the standard for living, not friends, especially those who have no relationship with Him. I choose not to spend copious amounts of time with people who constantly speak negatively of others, gossip, etc…And sometimes if it’s someone I am bound to by family ties, I will try to change the subject or keep it positive.  I am friendly to everyone, but I don’t allow everyone or everything full access to my life. I am learning as I grow to allow God to pick my friends and close confidants. He knows all and has everyone’s best interests at heart. He knows how to link the right people together.

Final words:

We were not created to fit in, blend in, or conform to the ways of this world. We were not created to force the world to be like us. We were created for the glory of God. We are a light in the world. We are no longer in darkness. We have nothing to brag about, we can only boast in God’s goodness and show the world how awesome our Papa is. We are not spiritual snobs, but humble partners with Christ to impact the world. May we link our lives to Jesus. May we love the way He loves without compromising our integrity or walk with Him. May we be an influence in this world instead of being influenced. May our relationships be what God wants them to be.

You are loved friends. I hope this post shed some light on a controversial topic. Blessings,~Erin

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