Archive for the ‘ Relationships ’ Category

Kids: To Have or Not to Have?

I have to ask myself why God would allow me to enter into and feel such contentment and connection in a relationship with someone who wants children, given my own desires not to have them. Is this something He is trying to break me of? Is He using my boyfriend and his desire for a traditional family (husband, wife, + kids, not necessarily implying specific gender roles) to confront my desires and plans? God, what is Your will for me when it comes to children? How would You have me serve You? Because ultimately, that is my desire. To serve You as You would have me serve You. And Lord… this is a difficult thing for me to say and lay down before You, but if I am to follow you explicitly and unreservedly, then I must profess it in faith and commitment:  I want Your will for my life, not my own. I lay down my perception of the future, of myself, of my capabilities, potential, and opportunities before You. You are the author of my life. Write my script as You see fit, for You and You alone are sovereign, almighty, and all-knowing. Your way is better than any way I could ever dream to design. So Father, be it Your will that I have children, then so be it because YOU have ordained it and therefore it is intended and blessed by You. I want only to always be under Your covering, under Your favor and nurturing, Lord. Draw and keep me near to You. In Your name I pray and trust.

~ Amen.

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Adorable Post of the Day: Tan Hong Ming in Love

I totally stole this from Sunnie’s page, but it is just the most adorable thing. The purity of children! All they see is love. This just melts my heart!

Although I must say it is hilarious that the reasons he lists for liking her are all superficial. Her earrings, her hair, her pretty face. Hahaha… boys…

“Turnstile” by Danyew

I love this song. I think every one can identify with it on some level. We can see it as  God expressing His eternal love for us, His children (esp. the chorus)! Or, as a devoted love from one person to another. No matter the context, these words are beautifully precious.

If you haven’t downloaded it, you can see Danyew’s studio performance of the song here:

“Turnstile” Studio Performance

I’m a turnstile
Counting up the days
Since I have seen your face
It’s been a long while
Though many things have changed
Our love remains the same
Our love remains the same

I want you like the first time I saw you
Want you like a shooting star
Love, you are my home
Oh, I want you for my own
I love you like there is no tomorrow
Love you through the joy or sorrow
Love, you are my home
Oh, I want you for my own

I want you more than you will ever know

Nobody
No not a single soul
Could ever take away
My love for you
Yeah, every single day
I promise to be true
My love I give to you

I want you like the first time I saw you
Want you like a shooting star
Love, you are my home
Oh, I want you for my own
I love you like there is no tomorrow
Love you through the joy or sorrow
Love, you are my home
Oh, I want you for my own

I want you more than you will ever know

I want you like the first time I saw you
Want you like a  shooting star
Oh! Love, you are my home
Oh, I want you for my own
I love you like there is no tomorrow
Love you through the joy or sorrow
Love, you are my home
Oh, I want you for my own

I want you more than you will ever know

A New Take on Emotional Purity

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is a wellspring of life”

– Proverbs 4:23.

A close girlfriend and I were chatting a couple of weeks ago about Godly relationships, singleness, and Christian friendships. When we got to the topic of male-female friendships, she posed an interesting question to me:  “how would you rate your emotional purity in your relationships with male friends?” This was a concept about which I had never heard or thought. I inquired more from my friend, but she encouraged me to search the Word on my own, something for which I am so grateful.

Side-note: I think we need to do this more often with each other. It is so easy to just rely on each other for explanations of the Word, instead of finding the truth ourselves. In encouraging each other to independently meditate on the Word, we encourage growth in our brothers/sisters’ relationship with Christ. Now that is love.

Back on topic: So, in thinking about emotional purity and comparing it to physical purity, I garnered that the basic concept is not revealing too much of your emotional self or fostering too much emotional intimacy with male friends, so as not to raise one’s expectations (for singles) or the temptation (married) for a committed relationship. It seems especially important for women, since we are the more emotional sex. But I’m not going to get into emotional purity for married women in this post… I’m single, so I will mainly address the emotional purity of single ladies (“all my single ladies, now put your hands up!” – sorry. i couldn’t resist, haha).

Not Your Buddy

By chance, I found an article on Boundless.org, which describes the reasons for this purity:  Not Your Buddy. At first thought, this explanation of emotional purity made sense to me, especially given that I had begun harboring some similar concerns in my own life. It made sense to just avoid conjuring any emotions by keeping distance between yourself and guys and not revealing anything too personal to them. However, new clarity came through a discussion with my mom and challenged this notion.

When I described the above definition of emotional purity and how it may be wise to back away from friendships with males, she immediately looked dubious. “I don’t think I agree with that,” she said. “It seems to me like the problem is expectation.” She left it at that, giving me something more to think about on my own. After pondering it for a few minutes, I realized that I agreed with her more.

The real problem isn’t having relationships with guys or even opening up to them. I think guys can teach us women a lot and provide us with different ways of thinking and seeing our situations (and vice versa!). Yet, we say that we should limit our emotional selves regarding our friendships with men because we as sisters can start to expect more from our brothers… and by more, I mean a romantic, committed relationship. We start interpreting their communications as laced with romantic interest and start expecting that they should return our friendliness and interest with an advancement toward a relationship. I have personal experience of this. I know, I’ve done it too. But I would encourage you to consider what is going on in this case… to consider how we as ladies may be contributing to this potentially hurtful situations with our expectations.

It seems like we ladies are always one step ahead of ourselves. If we have something good, we wonder what the next step will be and try to put a rush order on getting there, rather than enjoying where we are and what we have now. And even as the Boundless article said:

“You never have to wonder if your brother is romantically interested in you”

… because, being a Godly man, if he’s interested in you, He would let you know. So what are we doing by feeding our expectations and getting frustrated when the guy in mind doesn’t fulfill them? If he hasn’t explicitly expressed his interest, then that means he’s not interested in that way. <– now, there may be aberrations to this if we consider the shy guys who are too afraid to be open and blunt with the girl they’re interested in, but that’s more than I care to get into right now.

To further this point about the danger of expectation, I would encourage you to think about our female-female relationships. Oftentimes, when we become close to another female, spend more one-on-one time with her, and reveal more about ourselves to her, what do we begin to develop? It’s the same deal here:  Expectations. Oftentimes, we ladies find ourselves hoping that she’ll call so we can chat or disappointed when she doesn’t pick up because we have something from our day that we’d like to share about. We expect her to make time for us when we need her, or hang out with us, and are a little disappointed when she can’t. Expectation also arises in the development of a close, female friendship, not just something that we must face in our friendships with men.

I guess I just can’t help but think that we are restricting ourselves from what could be a spiritually beneficial relationship just because the person we would share it with is of the opposite sex. Must the rules really be different just because he is male? I think it is better that we recognize our tendency to expect more than we have and challenge ourselves to grow emotionally and spiritually.

And if you find yourself developing expectations or confused by his behavior with you, then you should be mature about it and talk about it with him. If he’s a brother in the Lord, I would think that your feelings would be important to him and that he would be more than willing to curb his actions in a way that wouldn’t suggest that he wants more than a friendship. I know, I know. “Easier said than done.” Trust me, I realize that. But I just have a hard time accepting the easy way out of avoiding meaningful spiritual relationships with men altogether. I think we as Christians should strive to harness our own weaknesses and grow beyond our faults.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is a wellspring of life”

– Proverbs 4:23.

This verse is often quoted as a defense for the first definition of emotional purity that I shared at the beginning of this post. However, I think this verse can also be interpreted as a warning to guard our hearts from ourselves and our own actions. How are you contributing to your heart’s unhappiness and vulnerability? Why are we so quick to point the finger?

When I continued this talk with my mom, she said something to me that stuck out. I really want to adopt this type of living for myself:

“Don’t expect more. Only give more. If you give without expecting return, then your giving is great and you are never disappointed. Because the only person you can control is yourself.” ~ Mommy 🙂

There is joy in giving, and only disappointment and dissatisfaction in expecting. Only you have the power to control your mind, your will, your emotions, and your worldview. We must be constantly striving to place these things in the Lord. He is the only One from which we should expect anything because He is the only One who cannot disappoint us.

How are you seeing your situation? How are you approaching your male-female relationships? What changes can you make within yourself to improve them?

And yes, I realize this may sound idealistic to many. We are human and therefore fallible. But what are we doing when we use that as a crutch? When we focus too much on our flesh, we face the danger of using the fact that we are not perfect as an excuse for not trying to live up to a higher standard. In striving to be like Jesus, are we not aiming for perfection? This is the same thing. And like I wrote in another post, when you focus on the limiting factor, that’s the thing toward which you begin gravitate. So I will set my eyes on the Lord and focus my sights, and thus the direction and movement of my whole being, on His ideals and on becoming the person that He says I am in Him.

But by all means, I am not an expert on emotional purity. These are just thoughts of mine and I would love to hear your views as well! I’m always open to differing perspectives.

4/15 – Today, I found a blog post on Emotional Purity by a fellow wordpresser, Dan. I thought it was excellent! I totally agreed with his emphasis on having self-control. You might want to check it out:  Sparky Danny Man’s Take on Emotional Purity

A Simple Prayer

Lord, please keep me strong and steadfast on the path You have predestined for me. I don’t know where You’re taking me, but God, I place my trust in You. Let me not yield to former childish ways, nor the limiting thoughts that once constricted my perception. Holy Spirit, minister to me, edify me, remind me of my path. And remove my focus from any thing, person, etc. that may threaten to take me off it. Father, I pray, please remove my confusion and replace it with a resounding clarity and peace in You. Amen.

An Old Dog Abandons Her Old Tricks

For all the growth I have made this semester, I have still been held up by old vices, which is extremely disappointing. I feel the Lord changing me, changing the person within me, and oh… God, I am so eager for it! To be new, fresh, unhampered by the past. And I know I can be. I have tasted newness this semester. But, man, can I be my own worst enemy. But I am determined to win this battle against my old self, and to do that, I need to purge.

My real weakness is that I feel too much. I identify with people, imagine their situation, imagine myself in their situation, try to come up with ways to help and guide them, feel utterly helpless if I can’t succeed in helping them, need to let them know that I am there for them, and then must follow through in being there for them fully. An extreme empathizer. So much that, as a school psychologist pointed out earlier this semester, I allow my own happiness to depend on others, which is so detrimental to myself.

I think this disposition is why I so easily identified with my mother, who in her adversity (being married to my dad), had so much need for empathy. I imagined myself in her place and tried to emotionally fill the void that my dad had created within her. Because I identified so strongly with her, I paid more attention to how my dad treated her than I did his treatment of me. And also, because I identified so strongly with her, she became an example of the kind of person I should be, while my dad became the example of the person I didn’t want to be. I put her on a pedestal.

When I was a little older (~late teens?), my mom told me that she is not the person that she used to be, the person she was before and in the early years of her marriage. But the only person I saw and could remember was this new person she had become. A woman who strived to be wholly self-sufficient, independent, emotionally guarded, masking and denying her true emotions… A necessarily strong woman. A private woman. A dependable woman, who denied herself her own desires and happiness, ranking them after those of everyone around her. Growing up, she was the image of what I thought I should be, of what I wanted to be.

But I realize now that I have truly identified too much with my mother. I have become her in many ways. The qualities that I once viewed as strengths have become faults because I have adopted them too intensely.

INDEPENDENCE –  I always feel like I need to be self-sufficient. I don’t like to ask for help for anything, if I can help it. And I don’t allow others to do niceties for me. For example, I remember when I was moving out of my room at the end of my freshman year at college, a friend scolded me for this. “Let us help you!” he said. “You don’t have to do everything by yourself!” I had tried to move my heavy boxes by myself instead of taking up their offer to help.

Don’t get me wrong, independence is an admirable quality and I am glad that I am equipped to and comfortable with doing things for myself. But sticking too firmly to it has been detrimental (i.e. because of my independence, I have purposely created distance between myself and my friends). This is something of which I am coming to the full realization. I shouldn’t allow my independence to divide me from the people I care about.

When I think more about this trait in relation to my mom, I also realize that she was so independent because my dad didn’t fulfill his husbandly role as God describes it. So she had to step up and lead my brother and I. This example, a woman leading her family, only added to my view of female independence and encouraged me to believe that I shouldn’t depend on any man to do anything for me. And because I didn’t know what that looked like… to have a man lead his wife and for her to be able to depend upon him… I now even find myself resisting guys’ attempts to do something for me. I probably appear less “feminine” to them when I hold doors open for them, rather than allow them to open a door for me. But after years of seeing my dad not do such niceties for my mom, I don’t expect it from any man (except my brother, who my mom brought up to be so courteous) and just automatically do such things for myself. But I don’t like that I am this way. Again, I should be willing to allow people to display their courtesy.

WALLS – My mom set up emotional walls after she realized that her emotions were not appreciated by my dad. He couldn’t be trusted with them. So she entered into  subsequent friendships with a walled heart. Encouraged others to do more talking, so that she wouldn’t have to give too much of herself away. Basically Proverbs 4:23 to the extreme.

I am the spitting image of her example. Growing up, it was emphasized that our private business was our business and not to be shared with others (we had extremely gossip-y neighbors). But I have carried this mandate with me into my young adulthood. I let others do the talking, which is fine because, being an extreme empathizer, I like to hear about their experiences and like bringing them pleasure by showing my interest in their life. And I think I don’t share my emotions partly because I don’t want to run the risk of discovering that they won’t be appreciated by my listeners.

But I have realized that this stunts my growth. Part of being in a relationship with someone is giving of yourself. And part of growing as a person is learning how to trust others with parts of yourself. I think a lot of my past friendships ended because I was unwilling to do this – unwilling to open up and show the other person that I trust them enough to let them see me. Trust. Now that is something that requires true strength. This is definitely something I have been working on building.

This reminds me… I recently read a quote that said something to the effect of… “the problem with [emotional] walls is not only that they keep people out, but they keep you in.” This could not be more true. It definitely has been pretty lonely being the only person who knows me.

DENIAL+MASKING – this falls in line with building walls. My mom was a master actress. Being strong for my brother and I, she denied many of her emotions and masked them. She always appeared strong. Always appeared happy. And she was both of those things. But there was a storm inside. Since I am older now and our friendship has matured, I see this more. She will sometimes say things that hint her desire for affection, but then quickly denies it and masks it. But I know her well and can identify when she’s doing this. And I think she does this because deep down she doesn’t feel that she is worthy of having her desires… or, perhaps more correctly, that it isn’t possible for her to ever have them.

I think out of all the qualities I have picked up, this is the one I need to change the most because, I realize now, it leads most directly to self-sabotage. I deny myself of my desires and convince myself that I can’t have them or am not worthy of them, and then mask that I have a desire at all. For someone who so strongly values communication, this tactic makes me a complete hypocrite because it keeps me from communicating with myself and with others, who very well may be able to deliver what I want. It is a breeding ground for mixed signals.

The truth is, it is not that I cannot have what I desire… but that I do not allow myself to have what I desire, and what is perhaps even available to me. So I create my own unhappiness, not my situation or any other person, etc. In living this way,  I  also offend God by not accepting and trusting His ability to deliver my wants, if they are right for me. So I tie not only the hands of those around me, but His hands as well. I deny myself happiness and love, so that in the end, all I have is my independent self, sitting within all those walls I have built. Alone.

—————————————————————————————————————-

I realize that I have been living as though I am a woman in a wrecked marriage, perhaps thinking deep down inside that behaving this way will prevent me from acquiring her unhappiness. But, my God. It’s all SO wrong… couldn’t be more wrong than this. And I just praise the Lord that He is bringing me to the full realization of these things NOW, while I am still young. I need to live up to a higher standard – to God’s standard. I am resolved to not look to any other person as a model for how to live, because we are each fallible in our own ways. God is the only one worthy of a pedestal!

We can’t help what situation we’re born into, but we can help how we allow ourselves to be affected by it. And I choose to love myself… fully love myself and believe that I am worthy of happiness and all my desires and that I can and will indeed have them, if not today than someday! All according to God’s perfect time.

Wow, when I re-read this, I wonder who on earth would want to have such a complicated person in one’s life. Yes, I suppose I am quite a complicated mess right now, but I know that God is a good janitor. The best, actually. And now that I have finally given Him the master key to my building, I know it will clean up better than “just fine” 🙂

Future Post:  Traits I’ve picked up from Dad.

I’m Not Who I Was (Brandon Heath)

So I was listening to a random stream of Christian music on Imeem.com, and this song, “I’m Not Who I Was” by Brandon Heath, came on. At first I really got into it because I liked the blend of the drum beat, guitar riff, and the light touch of piano in the bridge and chorus. I found myself getting happy from it. But it wasn’t until the second time around that I actually listened to lyrics and realized he was talking about forgiveness, and in particular, a specific someone he had struggled to forgive. This immediately made me think of my dad.

I didn’t post on here, but about a month ago, I took a step forward in our relationship by forgiving him for hurting my mom, which has hurt my brother and me. In that step, I also reassured him that I love him. I think he could have easily questioned my love for him given the way I have treated him.

Earlier in the semester, I spoke with a psychologist about my family and she told me that I am “too identified with my mother” and “too involved in their marriage.” Well, I knew the second was true, but I had a hard time accepting the first assessment because I felt that I had sided with *right behavior,* not a particular person. After all, I did (and do) criticize my mother when I think she has said or done something out of line toward my dad, my brother, or myself. But in talking with her more and hearing the very defensive statements that came out of my mouth, I realized that she may have a point.

I think I have put my mother on a pedestal because she has always gone over and beyond in performing her role as a mother and in showing us her love. She is more often than not the parent who displays what I would call righteous, or Godly behavior, which I defend. But the fact that I feel so intimately involved in their marriage has definitely made me feel pressured to pick a side, choose an alliance.

I try not to blame myself for this fault because being a teenager, it was hard not to feel caught in the middle. But my mistake in siding with my mom made it very difficult for me not to see his relationship with her as a reflection of his relationship with me; his sentiments toward her as a reflection of how he felt about me.

I think I realized this a while ago, or at least a partial realization because I remember asking my mom to stop talking with me about the details of their marriage because it clouded my perspective of my relationship with my dad. I remember that I felt so guilty when I asked her this because I felt like I was betraying her by wanting to know the person who has caused her so much pain.

But I praise God for where He has grown me. Being older and more mature in Him, I can now separate her relationship with him from mine. She still tells me details. She can’t help it, and I know this. She needs someone to talk to, and now I honestly am glad to be there for her because I can handle it. I have finally realized and accepted that just because their marriage is strained doesn’t mean that my relationship with him has to be strained. I shouldn’t ever feel guilty about accepting his love when he’s willing to give it. He’s her husband, not mine.

There’s more I’d like to say about my relationship with my dad, especially since I made a very important realization of another mistake I made growing up. I am so grateful that God is revealing to my my own faults. For so long I looked at him and blamed him, instead of turning the mirror on myself and realizing the hurt that I was doing to myself! God, You are magnificent! I love growing in You!

I am so glad that every day I can say with greater confidence that “I’m Not Who I Was.”

I wish you could see me now
I wish I could show you how
I’m not who I was
I used to be mad at you
A little on the hurt side too
But I’m not who I was

I found my way around
To forgiving you
Some time ago
But I never got to tell you

I found us in a photograph
I saw me and I had to laugh
You know, I’m not who I was
You were there
You were right above me
And I wondered if you ever loved me
Just for who I was

When the pain came back again
Like a bitter friend
It was all that I could do
To keep myself from blaming you

I reckon it’s a funny thing
I’ve figured out I can sing
Now I’m not who I was
I write about love and such
Maybe ’cause I want it so much
I’m not who I was

I was thinking maybe I,
I should let you know
That I am not the same
But I never did forget your name

Hello

Well the thing I find most amazing
In amazing grace
Is the chance to give it out
Maybe that’s what love is all about

I wish you could see me now
I wish I could show you how
I’m not who I was