Haters Gonna Hate, Especially on Valentine’s Day

I wrote this on February 14, 2014:

To all of the haters on Valentine’s Day,

I have needed to write this note for some time now, though you probably will not believe me. There was a time when I would not have believed me. I was once one of you. Anyone who knew me before a couple years ago can vouch for that. Love just seemed so- what’s the word? – fake, gross, cheesy, elusive, impossible. I was the first one to gag at all forms of affection – every. single. time. Speaking of single, I was happy. I’m not kidding about that. Though there were definitely times that I thought it would be really nice to have a significant other (like when invited to weddings, needing a back rub, needing someone to open a jar, etc), I was completely ok with living life without a husband. Funny how we start to wonder about singles in their upper 20s… as if they are reaching their expiration date. I was incredibly blessed to feel complete in God. He is the one who completes me and makes me who I am supposed to be. A man would just be icing on an already-beautiful and fulfilling cake. I found it offensive when the little old man at church would ask me if I’ve found a man yet, or the other one who, instead of simply saying “hello”, grabbed my ring finger and asked “why is this empty?” – as if I could control that? I’m not exaggerating. Those scenarios actually happened. I wanted to scream to the world – What are we telling those who are single??!! They are incomplete and destined to be unhappy? And most sadly, that God is not enough. I wanted to, and probably should have, confronted the elder in the church who would ask why I don’t have a man. I wanted to ask him why he feels the need to infer that I am somehow incomplete. What kind of message is that sending? What kind of message is all of this sending? Well, I’ll tell you. Here are just a few of the lies that I was told, either by myself or by others who thought they were helping.

1.  “There is someone out there waiting for you”. – Umm, how do you know? What if God’s plan for me was to live out my days with Him only. Like I said, I felt complete, but the people telling me this lie only sowed seeds of doubt. Maybe I wasn’t complete after all. Now I want to tell people in general to stop saying this. It does not help, and it may not even be true. Only God knows. So please stop saying this.

2.  “You will not be fully you without a man” (a.k.a. “I am incomplete without a mate”). – This is one of the most, if not THE most dangerous lie. I believe 100% that until a person is able to just be single without feeling like life is over, they will never feel complete with a mate either. They will be more likely to worship their mate instead of God. This is beyond dangerous. Of course I had my doubts and have not always been as close to God as I should, but I knew that a man could never fill a place in my life that was meant for God. It’s just not possible.

3.  “You need to lower your standards or you will never find love.” – Yes, I was actually told this several times. I did not consider my standards unreasonable – male, never been married, no kids, loves Jesus, college degree, life experience, never had an intimate relationship, sense of humor, etc, etc. If I had lowered my standards, it would mean I did not respect myself enough to uphold my God-given desires. But then I actually started to believe the lie that this man does not exist, which leads me to Lie #4.

4.  “There are NO good men in the world. At all. None. Period.” – I fully believed that all of the men who met the above description were taken. There was not a single one left for me. Though men like this are very difficult to come-by, I’m willing to at least entertain the possibility that there is a man out there thinking the same thing you are thinking. There was a man like this for me, despite all odds!  If you told me this a few years ago I would have laughed… and gagged… and laughed some more. Funny how things change.

5.  “There must be something wrong with me… since I haven’t had a boyfriend in 10 years.”  -Though I was happy and complete, there were still some days that I would wonder what must be wrong with me. I mean, no one had even really shown interest in years. Was I that unapproachable, strange, scary, ugly? No, it just wasn’t time yet. I needed to fall in love with God first. During this time I wrote a song called My First Love. Some of the words are “Lord, I know you long to be my first love. Your arms around me show me that you are enough. Fill me with you before you give me to him. Ready my heart to let someone in. Prepare me for the one you’re preparing for me.” Little did I know he was preparing me, and he was also preparing Jason for what was to come.

6.  And the final lie: “It is not possible to wait for intimacy.” – We live in an over-sexed world. Nothing is left to the imagination or to the bedroom with your husband. It’s all out in the open, thrown in your face with a loud, “you’re-crazy-if-you-think-waiting-is-best”! A lie I often told myself was that there is no man who has never had sex before. He doesn’t exist. It’s just not possible and, the older I get, the less likely it is that I will find one. This ties into the “lowering your standards” lie. I am here to tell you, this is a bold-faced lie. You do NOT have to lower your standards. Don’t you dare let people tell you that your heart’s desire is wrong. God gave you the true desires of your heart. It will never be worth-it to compromise them.

As it turned out, there was someone out there waiting for me, much to my surprise. I was blessed to be completed by God and blessed to get my icing on the cake too! I did not have to lower a single standard because, in fact, Jason far exceeded my standards. He is a good man, and he gave me hope that there actually are good men in the world. There was nothing wrong with me. I just had to wait until God allowed Jason to walk into my life. There is a perfect time for everything.

So to all the haters – go ahead and gag, I deserve it! But also try to take some of this to heart, as it comes from the de-throned Queen of all haters! And to all the liars – just stop. Please realize that you are hurting instead of helping. And to everyone who chooses to read this – Happy Valentine’s Day, gags and all! Enjoy today, as it is just a day. Love is all year ’round.

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The Sin of Humility

“You must be struggling.” That’s what my friend said to me after she noticed I’d been kind of quiet on Facebook lately. Good grief. Even when I think I’m hiding it, God always uses someone or something to break through my walls anyway.

The Sin of Comparison

Struggling is such a relative term to me. But it really shouldn’t be. This is how my thought process goes. Yes, I have an illness, but I know other people who have far worse illnesses that they’ve fought far longer than I have. I’m not struggling. I know several people who have been in the hospital for a long period of time. I’m not struggling. This person over here is dealing with an abusive marriage. I’m not struggling. This person over here has already lost one child and just found out the child she’s carrying may not survive. I’m not struggling. This person over here lost his job with a large family to support. I’m not struggling. Reading my own thought process in black and white makes me kind of ill. Why do we think that other pain is more important just because it’s different than our own? Oh, my dear ones, why can’t we just admit that we’re struggling?

I don’t think I have the right to be struggling. There, I said it. I incessantly compare myself to others even though I’ve read so many godly writings warning me against this. I have a suspicion that some of you can relate to this realm of thinking. I still can’t seem to convince my brain that comparison is a thief. It’s a thief of joy, contentment, rest, even friendship. I don’t think I should be ‘allowed’ to feel down. I don’t think I should be ‘allowed’ to share my problems when there are others who have worse problems. I also don’t think I should be ‘allowed’ to burden others who already carry burdens.

This way of thinking is an utter nightmare. Constantly comparing my burden to the burden of others in order to judge whether or not I have the ‘right’ to feel the way that I feel is nonsense, and I know it. The Bible gives us specific permission, no, INSTRUCTION, to share our problems with that pesky “carry each other’s burdens” verse (Galatians 6:2). It doesn’t say “carry everyone’s burden IN ADDITION to your own” or, “carry everyone’s burden INSTEAD of your own.” But isn’t that what so many of us do?

"But, 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.' For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." - 2 Corinthians 10:17-18

You may be thinking like me. Boasting? What I’m doing is far from boasting. I mean, verse after verse in the Bible tells us to care for others more than ourselves. But while I think I may be doing just the opposite of boasting, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Get this – I’m actually boasting about being humble. I’m not doing it out loud so it doesn’t look like boasting, but I’m still weighing myself against everyone else and I’m winning the ‘least problems award’ every time. But look what the verse above says. These things are not for me to judge. Only God can judge the heart and I’m willing to bet that he sees all pain equally. That’s just how much he loves us.

The Sin of Over-Analysis

“Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. Maybe I should have said this. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything at all. Is she upset with me? What did his response mean? I’ve said the wrong thing again. She must be disappointed in me. He’ll never tell me anything again. I’ll never tell her anything again. My heart will be safer if I just stay quiet.” I, I, I, Me, I, Me, Me, I, My.

I absolutely hate admitting that my brain functions like this. I’m so obsessed with what other people think of me. I want to scream into a mirror – GET OVER YOURSELF! What about what God thinks of me? Have I forgotten to whom my life belongs?

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." - Psalm 139:13
"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'" - 1 Samuel 16:7
"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." - Ephesians 4:22-24

The Sin of Can’t

Yep, I just went there. Even when I do have my mind on other people’s needs I’m thinking, “I can’t help them because I don’t have the money. I can’t help them because I’m sick.” And I’ve even been afraid to speak my heart. Afraid of writing, afraid of speaking, afraid of encouraging others because I’m afraid that I won’t speak God’s words or I’m afraid of what others will think about me. I think to myself, “if I say this, everyone is going to be watching me to see what happens next so I better not say it at all.” But goodness, I AM NOT THAT IMPORTANT.

This is all fear. Fear that I don’t have it all together. Fear that I am not enough. Fear that I don’t have the resources. Fear that other people may see my weaknesses. Well, guess what. I don’t have it all together. I am not enough. I don’t have the resources. I do have weaknesses. But there’s really good news. God has it all together. God is enough. He has the resources. And He is strong in our weaknesses.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" - 2 Corinthians 12:9

One Common Thread

What do all of these sins have in common? Self. The real IDOL… yes, I said IDOL… is me. How on earth did this happen? You’re telling me that the person who is constantly thinking about others is really worshiping herself? Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. Think about it. Comparing yourself to others, believing you have nothing to give to others, over-analyzing how others interact with you- It’s really all about you!

Perhaps God revealed all of this to me so that I could, once again, show my cards to all of you. Maybe I’m supposed to overcome the fear of speaking my heart. Maybe there are others who haven’t recognized the hidden sin in their lives. It’s absolutely stunning to think that Satan can take humility and turn it into a sin. Deception at its evilest. When I tried to figure out why I’m struggling and why I feel so depressed, God put a thought into my mind that if I were Satan what would I do? I would start confusing and putting fearful thoughts into the mind of somebody who thinks one of the only things she is offering the world is her words. I would make her feel the need to compare herself with others. I would make her think that her words are hurting people, or her words don’t matter, or her words will just be misunderstood. I would make her think that she can’t. I WOULD SILENCE HER WORDS.

If I were the enemy, I would steal, kill and destroy. I would steal the meaning that you thought your life had. I would kill your joy. I would confuse and destroy your relationships. I would steal your heart with constant fear and doubt.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." - John 10:10

Jesus came to give us a full life. Letting Satan steal, kill, and destroy is anything but a full life. It’s a full mind but it’s not a full life. Jesus did not die so that we could constantly compare ourselves to others. He died for all of us equally. Jesus did not die so that we could over-analyze our interactions. He died because he loves us. There’s no ulterior motive, no angle, just LOVE. Jesus did not die so that we could discourage ourselves with “I can’t”. What if Jesus had said, “I can’t?” The truth is, we can, because Jesus lived, loved, and died for us. He is our strength when we are weak. He gives us permission to feel the way that we feel and he feels it with us!

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." - Hebrews 4:16

Look at that. Approach with confidence, not fear. Receive mercy that none of us deserve. Find grace to cover the sin of self, and grace to help us in our need. If we don’t admit that we are needy, we don’t allow Jesus to meet our need. If we don’t admit that we are struggling, we don’t allow Jesus to carry us through.

So when you put it that way…. I’M STRUGGLING!!! JESUS, CARRY ME. And the really, REALLY good news – His arms are strong enough to carry us all.

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