Marriage: Out of Focus

 I don’t know about you, but through my experiences, I have come to realize that our prioritization and even our view of marriage is drastically skewed. We live in a culture where romantic relationships of any kind are emphasized and encouraged to the point it’s inescapable.

 In the Christian realm, we are faced with the same pressure. Marriage is viewed so highly that what matters the most has been lost. It no longer feels special, but mainstream.

 The FOCUS has been lost. The focus on having a solid relationship with Christ and growing individually has been neglected. Instead we have become SO caught up in the warm fuzzies that we gradually forgot the correct order of priorities in Christian life.

 It appears to me as though we might have gotten things a little backwards! 

 CHRIST followed by LIFE and in life, for some of us, comes the blessing of marriage. NOT the other way around.

 Our RELATIONSHIP with Christ should be viewed and treated as such. I think everyone will agree that any kind of relationship is a continual work in progress. Our walk with Christ should be no different. It should be in a constant state of learning and growth. Your relationship with Christ is EVERY bit as REAL as the people in your life.

 Christ is not a “means to an end.” It is all too easy to fall into this mentality. I have been guilty of it myself. You don’t strike up a friendship with someone expecting to receive a prize, do you? Why should we then treat Christ this way?

 Marriage should not be viewed as “an end” to be achieved. It is when two people determine they can better SERVE God together as a couple. The goal is not marriage itself, but a way to GLORIFY God in and through a holy union. A gathering of forces, if you will, for a larger purpose.

 Our main objective as a Christian is to GLORIFY Christ and to continually build upon our relationship with HIM.

 How quickly we lost sight of our TRUE goal! It is NOT to get married for the sake of being married and experiencing the sappy, lovey-dovey romanticisms, and landing a life partner to work beside. Let me quickly reassure you though that I do believe in the lovey-dovey romanticisms within a serious relationship. True romantic speaking here! But it should not be used as a sole reason to get married.

 It is about GLORIFYING and HONORING God! Plain and simple. Marriage is supposed to be a reflection of God’s relationship with the Church, His Bride. Not the other way around and that is where we have placed it...on a pedestal. In our ignorance, pride, and greed, we dared to think that God is supposed to reflect US. How far we have fallen in our sin!

 We are to be the reflection of God. We were made in GOD’S image. Not He in ours. 

 Don’t get me wrong! I firmly believe that marriage is a beautiful thing and it’s not wrong to desire it or even work towards it. It IS a beautiful union, not to be taken lightly or distorted. Because I believe so strongly in marriage between a man and a woman, I want to make sure we view it in it’s proper place and not on a man-made pedestal.

 In the end it’s not about being married. It’s not even about being single. It’s about living a life that focuses on keeping Christ at the center and bringing glory to Him. It’s a tall order, but one easily understood. God comes first and foremost...before anything and everyone else.

 Please don’t feel as though I am trying to point fingers. I write this not just for you, but for me. Life is a tricky road and I am all too familiar with the feeling of being the only one traveling it. If God blesses me someday with a family of my own, I want to raise my children as strong individuals whose focus is their personal relationship with Christ. I don’t want them to become so caught up in the idea of an intimate relationship that they lose sight of the one that matters most. Christ first and everything else follows.

 I have to laugh a little, because I’m still learning this lesson myself. It is my hope that I can reach out to my peers and remind all of us of what is truly important and so then pass it on to our children and raise a stronger generation.

*Luke 9:62; 2Thessalonians 2:14; Romans 12:2 & 14:8; Philippians 1:21, 2:11&13; 2Corinthians 3:18, 4:15; 2Timothy 2:15; Ephesians 2:10, 5:22-33; Genesis 1:27; Deuteronomy 4:9, 6:6&7; Psalms 127:4, 145:4 NASB* 


Open or Closed?

I wonder how many times I've stared at a blank page, wanting so badly to write, but lacked the words or organization to put them on paper? Too many to count, I'm sure. It's during moments like that that I just start. It may be silly, pointless, rambling, and usually extremely short, but I at least try to make an effort. Writing means too much to me to ignore completely. I may not be the most creative, but that's not why I usually do it. I generally do it to be honest with myself...or attempt to organize swirling thoughts. Thus the reason why most of my writing consists of journaling. I can express myself and still stay hidden and safe from the prying eyes of the world.

Huh..."prying eyes of the world." That's not the first time I've used that phrase or one similar. I think it shows just how private I tend to be and even how important it is to me. See? I learn things about myself when I write. I keep so much to myself. I don't often express how or what I'm feeling and when I do it has the potential to come rushing out all at once with little consideration to the listener. I over-analyze almost everything to the point I usually end up "psyching" myself out. Opening yourself up isn't easy and and some of us, meaning me, tend to do so with great reluctance...yet I wish it came easier. Being vulnerable actually requires great strength. When vulnerable you open yourself up to ridicule, heartbreak, betrayal, fear, and pain. On the other hand you also open yourself to warmth, love, compassion, comfort, support, and even understanding. I admire and respect people that display the strength of character to be an open book. To wear their heart on their sleeve.

Talking with a friend this past week has made me even more aware of my tendency to hide within myself. I find it easier to withdraw than share my fears and doubts. To laugh than admit that I cry and to hide rather than declare I've been hurt. I used to think that not telling all left me with a sense of mystery, but all it was a facade. It hid my fears and disguises my weaknesses as strengths.

I've always found it easier to communicate through writing. My mom discovered this fairly early on and encouraged me to write. There were a few times in my early adolescence where I would write notes to my parents because I was unsure of my wording or felt awkward about saying it in person.

I am still learning and I am so thankful that God's mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22&23)! Growth is not always achieved without pain and I need to remember that that includes stepping outside my comfort zones. Not just activity wise, but on a much deeper and personal level.

"But now, O Lord, you are our Father, we are the clay, and you are the potter; and all of us are the work of your hand." Isaiah 64:8 NASB


Peek Behind the Curtain

I am a strong and opinionated woman.

   That being said, it doesn't mean that I don't have my own set of doubts, fears, and insecurities. I also have those days where you're so tired (emotionally, spiritually, and physically) that you don't want to climb out of bed. 

   Am I living my life and following Christ as I ought? Does my life reflect His glory, grace, and love? Will people receive me well if I fail at a responsibility? Am I capable of rising to the occasion if I succeed? Do I have the fortitude to carry on if no one is there to catch me? Am I considered reliable? 
Does that cute guy across the room notice me? Will I ever find a man to love deeply? Will I be able to find a man who accepts all of my quirks and challenges me not to settle?

   The questions are never ending. Some days they get the best of me. Sometimes I wonder if it's even worth it. Giving up appears to be the easier path to take, but it is oh so deceiving. A false sense of security. 

   Surrendering one's self to Christ is such a constant battle. Sanctification is an ever on going process.

   How do I manage to get out of bed on those miserable mornings? Through God's strength! He surely knows that I cannot muster it myself.
   How is it that I can look myself in the mirror at all? His mercies are new every morning!

"Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. 
Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me.
This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
The Lord's loving-kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." 
Lamentations 3:19-23 NASB 

   As we remember the day that Christ sacrificed his life and bore the ENTIRE SIN of the WORLD on his shoulders, to die on the cross, and buried sin in death. Let us not forget that we only have hope because Christ ROSE from death, VICTORIOUS, in turn giving us also victory over sin and death.

"By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him." 
1 John 4:9


God's Abundance

It's February! It was just Christmas! 

   This year promises to be a full one. Three weddings are already on the calendar, one of which I will have the joy and blessing to be an active participant in and who knows where I'll be going next.

   Have you ever taken a step back and just stood in awe? Looking back and seeing the growth from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. I marvel at the journey my life has taken thus far and am simply amazed. I see the fingerprints of God.
I've walked some rocky trails and experienced a few shadows along the way. I have been bruised and beaten. I've been angry and confused. I have been afraid and lost.

   I have been joyful and abundantly blessed. I've been healed and renewed. I have been given affirmation and peace. I am found and without fear. God is my source of strength. When I look back and see only one set of footprints, I know it was then that I was carried.

   2013 was a full and busy year and while I enjoyed it, here's hoping for a slightly less crazy and a bit more organized/structured 2014. I have no idea what God has in store for me, especially regarding spiritual growth, and I will admit I'm a little nervous. I can only pray that I will receive his instruction with an open heart and the obedience to put it into action.

   There are a couple directions I could take with the remainder of this post, but I think I'll end it right here as short as it is. Lord willing, it won't be a whole year before I'm back again with the next one. :-)

   May God bless you abundantly in this coming year!