10 Ways to Not Hate Being Single

It’s not always easy being single: third wheeling it at the movies, persevering through some awkward dates, and scrambling for a good answer when well-meaning friends and family members ask if you’ve met anyone “special” yet. Although it has its fair share of uncomfortable situations and weekend nights sitting on the couch in pajamas, being single does not have to be the time in your life you barely get through.

Here are a few ways to live life fully and pursue growth in your single season:

1. GO ON ADVENTURES

Travel. Take road trips. There might be a day coming when you can’t just pick up and leave because you’ll have a family, so go places. Take your friends, take pictures, see new things, try things you’re scared of, spend time with people from other cultures, and fill your journal up with stories.

2. DON’T OVERDOSE ON ROMANCE MOVIES AND BOOKS.

There’s nothing like getting totally absorbed in someone else’s life who has a girlfriend or boyfriend, to send you into a whirlwind of sorrow and loneliness. It may not be romantic movies that send you into the whirlwind. It may be certain music, websites, or particular places or environments. Be kind to yourself and stay away from the things that make being single more difficult.

3. DO THINGS THAT MAKE YOU COME ALIVE.

Write, draw, paint, exercise, cook, play field hockey, program computers- whatever it is that makes time disappear and makes you glad you were born.


Marriage is a beautiful dream, but it doesn’t have to be the only one.


Pursue other interests. You can even take risks on some of them that would be more difficult to take with a spouse and children, like starting a business.

4. GET DRESSED UP.

Ladies, put on a dress, really cute shoes, and some lipstick. Guys, this isn’t just for the ladies. Take a shower, shave the scruff, pull out your sharpest outfit. When you’re single, there are times apathy can start to sneak in because you haven’t gone on a date in sixty-five weeks and you’d rather sit on the couch watching reruns than try to go anywhere. Getting ready and putting time and effort into your appearance shows you value yourself and you will value whatever relationships you enter in the future.

5. BE NICE TO YOUR FRIENDS IN DIFFERENT SEASONS. 

Celebrate their engagements. Buy presents for their new babies. Don’t shut down your relationships with people because you’re in different seasons. Some day when you’re having your moment, you’re going to be so glad the people you care about are there celebrating you.

6. HANG OUT WITH FAMILIES.

People who are happily married have a wealth of wisdom for you to learn from. Ask questions, play with their kids, and watch how they treat each other. What do they love and what do they find challenging? They’ve been in your shoes and you will probably be in their shoes some day, so let them help set you up for success with healthy expectations for marriage and family.

7. LEARN TO GET REALLY GOOD AT HAVING FUN.

Become a master at enjoying the moment and the season you’re in. There will always be something to worry about or something more you feel like you need. Get good at enjoying your life right now, and you will be able to fully enjoy it later. This is a unique moment in time, and you’ll never be here again. Don’t miss it.

8. REALIZE THAT PROBLEMS DON’T DISAPPEAR WHEN YOU’RE MARRIED.

Married or single, you’re still going to be you. All your problems, addictions, and bad habits go with you. If you’re struggling in the area of purity or sexuality, work through it now.


Get free now.


The reason God gave you a sex drive before you were married is because He knew you’d have to be able to manage it when you are married.

9. HANG OUT WITH JESUS. 

This is the only time in your life Jesus can have this much of your time. One day you might be up all night with a crying baby or running around trying to get your kids to school and you’re not going to have time for a shower, let alone a nice long quiet time with your latte and your bible. Get deeply rooted in His love. Write His Word on your heart so you have it inside you during the busier times in life.

10. LET GOD TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE. 

You’re not beautiful because boys say you are, you’re beautiful because God says so. You’re not a handsome stud of a man because all the ladies love you, you’re a man because God says you are. Get your identity from Him because He knows you, created you, and His love for you is steady, unlike the wavering opinions of people. 

There are more ways than these to make the most of your singlehood. Figure out what works best for you. The important thing to remember is there is no part of your life where you simply have to survive and not thrive. God uses every part our lives to grow us and prepare us for the incredible things He has ahead. Chase after complete freedom and abundant life, not only in this season, but in every one to come.

-Andrea Alley (Intern) 

 

ANDREA IS A GRADUATE OF THE SCHOOL OF MINISTRY AT BETHEL AND CURRENTLY SERVES ON THE WRITING TEAM FOR MORAL REVOLUTION. SHE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT SEEING THE CHURCH CARRY JOYFUL HOPE AND EXPECTATION IN EVERY AREA OF THEIR LIVES. SHE LONGS TO SEE THE UPCOMING GENERATION EQUIPPED AS STRONG LEADERS WHO STEWARD THEIR LIVES WELL AND INFLUENCE SOCIETY AS A RESULT. 
 WEBSITE: ANDREADALLEY.COM 

4 More Guys You Should Never Date

MR. WRONG (CONTINUED)

 

Just because we had so much fun writing our last list, 5 Guys You Should Never Date, we wanted to hit you with another list. Your welcome! Here are 4 More Guys You Should Never Date.

 

1. Mr. Jokes-On-You

“Babe, I was just kidding. I’m sorry you took it the wrong way.”

The Mr. Jokes-On-You is easy to date because he’s funny… at first. He gets your humor and you get his, however, it doesn’t take long before you become the but of his jokes. He oftentimes tells you to loosen up, or to not take their jokes so seriously. Listen:


In a relationship, jokes at the expense of someone you care about are called attacks.


No one likes to be made fun of. Especially because relationships are about building trust and support. Anything that does the reverse is only working against your connection. This doesn’t mean you can’t joke around, that would be ridiculous. Instead, take time to discover what you both enjoy. Try watching a funny movie together or going to a local comedy club. In time, shared experiences will begin to transform the things you laugh about.

2. Mr. “Right”

“I see what you’re saying, but…”

The problem here isn’t when he’s right. It’s the attitude he carries because he’s decided to become the answer to all of life’s problems. It’s amazing how much animosity is created in a relationship when someone decides your need for understanding is less important than their need to be right. You can’t argue with Mr. “Right”, and if he’s been at it for a long time then…


he definitely knows how to keep his composure…


while making you look like the “emotional/out-of-control” one. It’s okay, we feel you. The best way to avoid Mr. “Right” is to look for social cues early on. See how he interacts with people he’s not in a close-relationship with. Watch his communication style, and ask yourself some of these questions: “Is he simply hearing or trying to understand?”, “Does he ignore someone in middle of a conversation (especially if that person might potentially be wrong)?”, “Does he always have the last word?”, and “Does he consider ‘dumb people’ an actual people group?”

3. Mr. Insecurities

“Tell me honestly, do you think he’s better looking than me?”

From the simple yet profound words of Mrs. Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” If a man doesn’t believe he has something good to offer, then he needs to work that out. That is not your responsibility, otherwise you will become his source of confidence. It may sound nice at first, but give it some time and you’ll find out…


it’s not worth it!


This goes back to the two powerful people spiel I mentioned earlier in 5 Guys You Should Never Date. Just to clarify, it takes two powerful people to establish a healthy relationship, not to simply create one. Anyone can start a relationship and have it look healthy for the first few weeks. What I mean is: two people who know who they are and are comfortable with themselves, know their needs and when not to overindulge, are responsible, and can pretty much lead normal lives by themselves.

The beauty of finding someone who is powerful, is that even though they can reasonably manage their own life, they are extremely confident in the fact that they have chosen to share it with you.

4. Mr. ‘Fraidy Cat

“Why should we get married? It’s just a dumb piece of paper anyways.”

Isn’t the purpose of all this dating to finally find someone to spend the rest of your life with? Marriage isn’t just some dumb piece of paper, or even some whimsical happy ending to your relationship problems. It’s hard work! It literally means, “You can’t leave or I take half of whatever your worth.” A lot of times, the problem isn’t finding a man who will pop the question, it’s finding the balance between freedom and pressure during your dating phase.

To avoid someone who’s naturally afraid of commitment, try establishing marriage as one of your goals early on in the relationship. Sometimes it’s best to wait until you feel your relational intimacy deepening, and other times it’s best when you just can’t keep your hands off each other.


Commitment on a superficial level means no one else gets to have you.


But don’t settle for just that. Challenge yourself to find out what commitment really means to you personally. Pray about it, and when you think you have the answer bring someone else into your process.

 

If you have any of your own dating advice, tips, or dilemmas, then feel free to leave a comment below. Our team would love to give you some feedback.


5 Guys You Should Never Date

MR. WRONG

 

So we’ve all had our fair share of scheming, sketchy exes. You know, those people you run into 5 years later and thank God you got out when you could. But why do we date those people? And how can we avoid making the same mistakes? For the sake of all humanity, or maybe just us single ladies, our team came up with a list of 5 Guys You Should Never Date.

 

1. Mr. Mad Man

“I don’t know why I always seem to lose control. I’m working on it. Just bear with me… I’ll change.”

He may or may not change, but that’s not your problem. No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who can’t control their temper.


Managing your emotions is a sign of maturity, and should not be ignored.


Sometimes we get into these relationships unexpectedly because he can handle small disputes. Then we rush to commitment without actually handling any real conflict. The best way to avoid the Mr. Mad Man is to give the relationship time. Try not to snuff rising disagreements, and learn to celebrate your differences instead.

2. Mr. Mama’s Boy 

“I really don’t do my own laundry… or my own taxes.”

Loving your Mom is cute, but there comes a time in every man’s life where he has to leave the nest. It’s true, how a man treats his mom is a clue to how they will treat you, but he shouldn’t come to depend on his mother at the end of the day.


He needs to break up with his mom before he starts dating you.


You need two powerful people in a relationship for it to work well. If only one of you can have the power at a time then you should really reconsider whether or not you’re being his girlfriend or his new mom.

3. Mr. Chronic Complainer

“Do we have to? This is really stupid.”

Complaining is a passive way of letting people know your wants, needs, expectations, and desires. It’s one thing to complain about a messed-up order or waiting in line, but to complain all the time…


Really?


If you’re dating a Mr. Chronic Complainer, sometimes making them aware of their behavior solves nothing. In fact, if you bring it up he’ll probably just find a way to complain about you!

To avoid the Mr. Chronic Complainer find ways to establish short and long-term goals in your relationship. Be open about your wants, needs, expectations, and desires. The next time your man tries to complain, allow them to be honest and upfront with phrases like: “What do you really want?”, “Can you just be honest with me?”, and “I’m for you, just help me understand what you need.”

4. Mr. Why Bother

“I don’t feel like it. Why don’t you do it?”

Being motivated is more than just going after what you want. It means being able to make tough choices because you have a vision for your life and your relationships. Mr. Why Bother is incapable of just that. Most of time, he just puts down others who seem to be going places; all in an effort to down-play their own complacent behavior.


It’s a trap!


Do not get caught up! The best way to avoid Mr. Why Bother is to get moving! Find reasons to get up and go after your own dreams. Nothing scares complacent people more than someone who’s motivated.

5. Mr. Playa’

“Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

Wrong! Anyone who refers to a relationship as a game should be shunned.

Why you say? It’s because it’s easy to love Mr. Playa’. He’s smooth, easy to talk to, funny, charming, and smells great. He’s someone you can take back to your friends and family, and they either think he’s a catch… OR they swear he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Yet, we ignore the latter.


Yes, you have permission to date beautiful people…


but you should never sacrifice the wisdom of your friends and family on the altar of self gratification. Period!  The best way to avoid the Mr. Playa’ is to stop ignoring the people God has so graciously placed into your life.

If you have any of your own dating advice, tips, or dilemmas, then feel free to leave a comment below. Our team would love to give you some feedback. By the way, we know we missed a few so stay tuned!


Between the Sheets: Sleep and Your Sex Drive

We all need a bedtime.

I’m married with four kids and I have a bedtime. It’s ten o’clock every night.

Why?

I know myself, and I know what I need. When I make sure to take care of myself and get what I need, my whole life feels easier.

After I had my second son, I was really struggling emotionally and feeling completely overwhelmed. I told my pediatrician what was going on, and she looked me straight in the eye and said, “Well, it sounds like you have postpartum depression.” As the words left her mouth, my eyes filled with tears. I knew she was right.

I knew I needed help, so I set up an appointment with a Christian counselor recommended by a friend of mine. After asking some questions, she agreed that I did, in fact, have postpartum depression. I actually had thirteen out of the fourteen symptoms she listed. As shocked as I was, I felt relief that someone finally knew what was going on and could help me. I eagerly sat at the edge of my seat, ready to take whatever action she suggested. I was shocked at the first thing she said:

 

“Go home and get three good nights of sleep in a row and then we’ll talk.”

 

This was not the answer I expected, but she continued, “Do whatever you have to do. Get your husband involved, get your parents involved- just do whatever it takes. Sleep eight hours a night for three nights in a row, and then we’ll talk.

I took her advice and made sure to get three nights of good sleep and you know what? It made a huge difference. That’s when I learned how important sleep is to the body.

Without sleep, you hinder your ability to make sound judgments. This is why some of us are out of control sexually. When it’s late, we’re tired, and we’re looking for a way to release stress and find comfort, we turn to porn or masturbation. It provides the pleasure and comfort our body is looking for, and gives us a sense of security and peace. The problem is, it doesn’t meet our true needs for rest, safety, and comfort. It’s a short-sighted solution with terrible side-effects like shame, guilt, disconnection, or even addiction.

If you’re struggling with your sex drive, the answer may not be to pray more, fast more, or simply “try harder.” Don’t get me wrong, if you’re not praying or connecting with the Lord at all, that’s not good either, but sometimes the answer may just be to get more sleep. If you find yourself struggling at the end of the day or late at night, it may be the wisest decision for you to just call it a night. The bible says His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), so maybe you’re not doing as badly as you think; maybe you just ran out of mercies for the day. Get a good night’s sleep and wake up with a new hope and new perspective.

If sleep’s not the answer, it may be a healthier diet, more exercise, or even just a funny movie to get those endorphins released. You may just need some time to refuel. If you’re struggling with your sex drive, do a physical check-up. Ask yourself: Am I eating well? Am I drinking enough water? Getting sunlight? Sleeping enough (and sleeping deeply)? Am I getting enough healthy touch? Healthy touch and close contact with other humans are actually needs as well. These may not be at the root of your problem, but they’re good places to start. It may take a little time to learn what all of your needs are. Everyone’s different. But when you find out what you need to thrive, it’s okay to fight for it. Jesus paid a high price for you. You’re well-worth taking care of: body, soul, and spirit.

 

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How to Discover Missing Pieces of Your Calling

Several people meet with me because they don’t understand what their God-given calling is. God has always intended for us to be in relationship with Him while coming alive in what we do.

Most of us know Psalms 37:4 which says “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart” (NASB).

So why do we try to bury the pieces of our heart that are connected to our calling?

For some it might be due to divorcing the life they had before coming to Christ. Others may have grown up in church but feel like they can never find God’s will for their life. Regardless of the reason why, it’s sad when people are floundering in life while dismissing their God-given call.

I’m the last one to point a finger.

At eighteen years old I had to make a decision. It came at a time when I wanted little to do with God or the church. The last thing I was trying to figure out was the call on my life. That said, as I began the process of applying for the Marine Corps I was almost haunted by this thought: “Marine or Missionary?” I didn’t dare tell anyone what was going on because none of my friends at the time would understand.

I chose the Marines. I rationalized that decision because I figured the following:

• I don’t want to be poor.

• I don’t want anything to do with God

• There’s nothing exciting about being a missionary except traveling

• I’ll get to travel in the Marines. And fight (which I felt like I wanted at the time).

I had a longing to travel. I still do. It’s a desire that God placed in my heart before I was ever born. Even at eighteen I knew that traveling the world had to fit into what I did.

Unfortunately I had gone into “emotional survival mode” due to a variety of circumstances that surrounded my life at the time. When I was making this major life decision I was disconnected from my heart. I couldn’t clearly see/feel what I was called to. So I picked the most “logical” decision. The problem was that I made a logical decision out of a place of pain.

 


Pain will often sabotage our ability to connect with certain areas of our calling.


 

The beautiful thing is that God isn’t phased by our poor decisions. Remember, He’s the master of working all things together for your good (Romans 8:28). His unconditional love is willing to wait for us to choose to move toward His plans. 

I completed four years of active duty in the Marines. It’s something I am proud of and don’t regret at all. Looking back at my “logical” reasons for joining you can find some humor. Even though I was active duty from 2000 to 2004, I never once deployed. That’s right. I joined to travel but never actually did it! In hindsight I realized it was God’s protection and what I like to call His sense of humor.

It was only after I got out of the Marines and whole-heartedly gave my life to Christ that I ended up experiencing what I had longed for. Six months after my contract ended I found myself doing mission work in Mozambique with Iris Ministries.

Traveling is only one piece of my personal puzzle which is forming a beautiful picture as I find (and focus on) one piece at a time.

Going back to the Psalms 37:4…it starts with “Delight yourself in the Lord.” We can only adequately connect with our core desires once we have positioned our heart in affection towards God.

You may not be hard-hearted like I was, but pain can cause us to rationalize decisions that are counter to God’s plan. You will never be able to fully suppress your calling regardless of what your life may look like right now. God can and will work everything for good. It’s what He does. 

Finding the lost pieces: There is hope. You can pray and ask God to highlight areas of your life that may have fallen dormant. He’s excited to show you. Not to shame you, but rather to point you in the direction that will make you come alive.

You can (and should) be proactive when God begins to bring these areas to the surface.

1. Repent: The turning point for me was when I dropped to my knees and asked for forgiveness. It changed the direction I was headed and pointed me toward His calling.

2. Reflect: Take time to think about the subtle moments that you felt your heart leap or can’t get rid of a life-giving thought. Try to identify certain themes in your life where you feel God’s pleasure. Write them down and begin to pray for God to highlight areas that you can begin to re-engage with.

Move On: There comes a time where you have to close that chapter of your life. God values our history, but doesn’t want us to live in it. Once you have started consciously moving towards your calling, don’t look back!

 

 

JOSH CEARBAUGH IS A LIFE CONSULTANT WITH A UNIQUE ABILITY TO LEAD PEOPLE THROUGH TRANSFORMATION. THROUGH A COMBINATION OF CONSULTING TECHNIQUES, HE HELPS INDIVIDUALS TO IDENTIFY, AND THEN DISMANTLE, THE CRIPPLING CYCLES WHERE THE MAJORITY OF US FIND OURSELVES STUCK. HE HAS A PASSION FOR CONNECTING PEOPLE TO THEIR HEART AND HELPING THEM CREATE PRACTICAL STRATEGIES TO CHANGE THEIR LIVES. MOST RECENTLY, JOSH’S CONSULTING PRACTICE HAS BEEN LOCATED IN REDDING, CA
HE MET DANIELLE, HIS WIFE OF EIGHT YEARS, IN MOZAMBIQUE WHILE ATTENDING IRIS HARVEST SCHOOL. THEY CURRENTLY HAVE TWO BOYS AND ONE BEAUTIFUL BABY GIRL. 
WEBSITE: JOSHCEARBAUGH.COM 
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/JOSHCEARBAUGH

I Ain’t Into Making Love

 

I guess it’s no secret now that my life held a sexual past. Google my name and it’s out, mainly because I chose to lift the lid off shame from my past. I confess, the main reasons why I did what I did was because I justified my sexual desires with one tiny word – ‘love’. It became the backbone for every sexual intention I followed through on. I refused to buckle under the religious opinion that it was lust, lust was what other people felt, be it for a dashing someone in front of them, or for how they felt about a brand of dark roast coffee – but me? Well I made love. I had a ‘solid’ thesis for my actions, a reasoning for the ultimate in vulnerability. I didn’t do this with everyone – just the ones I loved. Few argued with me, mainly because I was accountable to no one. I did what I believed was right, living in a vacuum of me, my boyfriend and I.

Turns out that I wasn’t alone. And as I walk in a very different light today, this is the same argument why some frown when I mention that I hold out for the ‘entente’ of marriage. This is the reason why I’m labelled as ‘inflexible’ to being open to good men, when I talk about celibacy. This is why the world is getting more confused, because we are confusing ourselves. They frown because they think I can’t love fully. I frown because they’ve mistaken what love means.

But to be clear, before we go any further, I don’t want to be that pastor who spurts out the word lust like the many religious folk have before, alluding to a prude persona that doesn’t appreciate the need for sexual desire. It’s vital and we need it for the human race to function. I’m not some nun, now valiant to charge everyone with a vow of chastity. I want to revert back to where it’s powerful and more importantly, where it’s not.

 


The definition of lust is to have ‘a very strong sexual desire for someone’. That’s it.


 

That’s it. It’s not making love, it’s not fireworks that last the test of time. It’s not commitment, it’s not the fight to keep you, it’s not the foundation that will make you trust someone, it’s not the thing that will comfort your tears, or place needs above another’s needs. No.

Lust bolts, love stays. Lust forgets. Lust blanks out. Lust has no forethought. Lust lyricizes the glamour of one-night stands, love writes lyrics that says it’ll catch a grenade for you. Lust utters empty nothings, love has follows through on its promises. Lust defends without humility, love always says sorry. Love makes space to wonder, lust asks what time is it? Lust has double standards – ones that only work for the self. Love listens to the highest standard and fights for it. Lust sends a text to finish a romantic dalliance, love talks face-to-face.

How often we merge passion of lust and believe it’s love is too common an occurrence that something needs to be said. Lust is not love, it is a by-product of beauty, but so rarely is it followed through with the real depth, the real substance of love. For the first time I’m a supporter of 50 Cent when he said “I’m into having sex, I’m not in into making love.” I’m glad someone in the world of influence acknowledged that there’s a difference. Even if it doesn’t carry a responsibility of taking care of a girl’s heart.

And these days, amid the bikini shots on a beach, the provocative facial seflies – all subtle callings for men to check us out in lustful ways, I say there’s something far more powerful to be emblazoned on everyday expression. The deeper sway of tenderness, of listening, of conversing over cuddling, of grace over physically grabbing. Because none of that lasts and just like the amusing viral of a tiny hamster eating tiny burritos – it’s over.

We must be careful to not define the meaning of love on our own experiences, but on the solid truth of what love itself defines itself as: it is kind, it is patient, it is not self-seeking. The definition has been in our midst for thousands of years, inspired by the very inventor of love – time to go back to the drawing board, before more families break apart, before pansexuality becomes another ‘thing’, before we act in a space that says anything and everything goes. It can, of course it can, but that doesn’t mean you’re making love, if anything, sweetheart – you’re making it up.

 

ALSO BY THIS AUTHOR:

– Seriously Single

– Coloring in your Colorful Past

– The Economics of Sex

 

CARRIE LLOYD IS AN AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST FROM THE UK, WRITING FOR GRAZIA, COMPANY MAGAZINE, HUFFINGTON POST, CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE, MAGNIFY, ALPHA LIFE, THE DAILY MAIL AND MORE. SHE IS THE AUTHOR OF ‘THE VIRGIN MONOLOGUES (AUTHENTIC MEDIA). HER EXPERIENCES HAVE COVERED PREGNANCY CRISIS COUNSELLING, TO PASTORING YOUNG ADULTS AS AN INTERN AT BSSM IN REDDING, CALIFORNIA. HER PASSION IS FOR ABOLISHING SEX TRAFFICKING, HELPING UNLIKELY HEROES, AS WELL AS SPEAKING TO TEENAGERS AND YOUNG ADULTS ABOUT HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS. HER BLOG ON THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF CHRISTIAN DATING CAN BE FOUND AT WWW.HERGLASSSLIPPER.CO.UK

Coloring in Your Colorful Past

Whatever you’ve done, whatever interesting decision you made in the past, you might be like me: so far removed from the old you, so unfamiliar to your ‘old ways’ that when you recite stories of how you used to be, you talk in third person. You’re clean from self-sabotage activities, you don’t look back, you don’t repeat the same mistakes because you’ve had a enough epiphanies to see that your sexual past wasn’t working for you, for him, for the future ‘him’ or for the future you.

Your head is up, and you walk boldly once more; until you overhear a conversation or perhaps a casual confession from a girl or boy you might be interested in: “I’d like to hopefully marry a virgin.” You know this statement doesn’t represent the entire perspective of single people, but you hear it never the less.

How do you respond? Do you start jumping on table-tops preaching the themes of redemption that fill the gospel? Do you accept that this is their choice, but disregard their existence in church forevermore, because to you, their statement made you a second-class citizen? Do you chime a bell to all of your fellow ‘redeemed’ friends who took similar sexual paths and start a ‘born-again virgin’ club?

Or do you buy a one-way ticket to where many twenty-somethings appear to go: Shame-land.

Within minutes, upon hearing that some people might want to marry a virgin, you clothe yourself in degradation, your head lowers a little more, you can’t look anyone in the iris, and within the next few days, you’ve forgotten your name, never mind your history with the Lord. One person’s opinion, one person’s ability to hold to their purity, has somehow scuppered the recovery of the mistakes you made in your past.

After I decided to become abstinent again after sexual relationships in my twenties, I found myself dating men who had held onto their purity. Suddenly the question of ‘am I good enough for him?’ was a puzzle that needed solving. As conversations unveiled, I learned that neither men nor women usually care for your past as long as you carry no shame in the present.

Wishing to marry a virgin if you chose a life of purity yourself isn’t a bad thing, it’s an understandable request, no different perhaps to me wanting a man who is taller than me. I’ve equally noted some great potential I’ve missed because of the goal posts I set in those who were let’s say, more vertically challenged than I.


For me, I choose to embrace the decisions they make today in purity, not the mistakes they have overcome a long time ago.


This article therefore is not written to discuss the pros and cons of marrying a virgin, nor discredit your desire to do so. This is written for the man or woman who did have a colorful past – one that left their world feeling nothing more than monochrome. Because when facing a community of people who’ve led in purity all their days, the scoundrel that is shame will do everything to whisper bitter nothings into your ear, robbing you of hope, of your worth.

“Guilt says I’ve made a mistake. Shame says I am a mistake,” Brené Brown once told her crowd in a Ted Talk. In many conversations with generation Y (the ones who feel they won’t be suitable for a man or woman who led a fairly spotless sexual history), I realized just how debilitating shame is. How erosive, how unproductive, how pitiful, how victim-like it makes the soul feel. Grace was introduced to take you to the dance floor and show you off, while shame was an entrapment tool to believe you didn’t deserve the best, welding you to the floor so you could not fly. But as the man or woman of your dreams tells you that they refuse to hold your past against you, there’s something within still refusing to let go.

Why? Because shame creates a comfort blanket. One that will never let you explore the feeling of vulnerability as it prevents you from sharing your past with someone who might just love you unconditionally. We carry it around because we feel we should, to show how remorseful we are.

Life is too short to make your past mistakes, the ones you’ve already conquered, be resurrected. Faith tells us to let it go, God says He’s got you covered. You never see snakes return to their old skin, so why hold onto yours?

Self-value doesn’t come from a place of ‘what have you done?’ but a place of ‘but look how far we’ve come!’ Shame will not enable you to repair them, it will only leave you hopeless. It will encourage you to settle for the same unhealthy, codependent relationships, constantly seeking for someone else to say, “you’re OK.”

As we ensure we don’t repeat the same destructive behaviors, we also must allow ourselves to see how much we have overcome. Let this be your backbone, let this be your standard. Purity attracts healthy thoughts, forgiveness seeks connection, humility invites love. The fear of the Lord is a vital and beautiful thing, but never confuse it with shame, never dilute it with misnomers that separate you from the intimacy that is waiting for you, dying for you, accepting you..

...for all you are.

For all you were.

For all you will become.

 

Carrie Lloyd is an author and journalist from the UK, writing for Grazia, Company Magazine, Huffington Post, Christianity Magazine, Magnify, Alpha Life, The Daily Mail and more. She is the author of ‘The Virgin Monologues (Authentic Media). Her experiences have covered pregnancy crisis counselling, to pastoring young adults as an intern at BSSM in Redding, California. Her passion is for abolishing sex trafficking, helping Unlikely Heroes, as well as speaking to teenagers and young adults about healthy relationships. Her blog on the trials and tribulations of Christian dating can be found at www.herglassslipper.co.uk

 

 


This Is My Yes

Ten years ago, I walked down the aisle in my white wedding dress toward the man who is now my husband, Ben. I stood across from him looking into his eyes and made a vow to honor him as my husband for the rest of my life. In that moment, when I said yes to him, I said no to every other man on earth. And trust me, there were a lot who wanted to date me (okay there were at least a few…wink). I didn’t stand there at the altar listing them off like, “Okay well I’m not marrying Edward or Henry…or Joe or Jerry…no to Sam and Will.” All I did was look Ben in the eyes and say, “I’m marrying you.” That meant any other man who came into my life from then on was an automatic no because Ben became my yes.

It’s the same thing with God. When we say yes to Him, we’re saying no to all the other things that might try to compromise our commitment to Him. You can’t say yes to God and then tell Him, “Actually, I’m not going to do what you want me to do.” You’re either surrendered or you’re not. Either He’s Lord of all or He’s not. When we say yes to God, our no becomes complete.

Imagine if we went into Starbucks and when the barista asked us what we wanted, we listed all the things we didn’t want: “Well I don’t want a latte or a frappuccino. Do you guys have those little egg sandwiches? Good, I don’t want one of those either.” When we reach the front of the line, we simply say, “I would like a soy latte at 130 degrees.” (This may be my actual order. I’m a little bit of a chicken with the heat.)

When your yes is set, your no is easy. You don’t have to mull over every decision anymore thinking, “Well maybe this is okay as long as I don’t do it all the time” or “If this only happens on Fridays and Saturdays, it’s okay, I can just clean it up at church on Sunday” or even, “Well, just this once.” When you say yes to Jesus, you are saying no to all of the things that He asks you not to do. He cares about His connection with you. He knows what’s not good for it, and He loves you too much to stand by and say you can do whatever you feel like. We have to have a “yes” to Him that’s so strong, our “no” to everything else comes without hesitation.

In the story of Joseph in Genesis, Joseph was working in the house of Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and Potiphar’s wife took notice. She approached Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me.” She must have been cold or something… No, I’m joking, she wanted something else.  So there was Joseph, a single, good-looking young man in his master’s house with this woman asking him to come to bed with him, and she was probably gorgeous. I doubt the wife of this wealthy officer of Pharaoh was ugly. But Joseph tells her, “My master has withheld nothing from me except you because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). Potiphar’s wife approached him over and over but he never did anything, in fact, the bible says he actually fled and got out of there.

There are things vying for our time and attention today, just like Joseph had. When the computer screen looks at you as if to say, “Just turn it on and look…”; when the girl texts you and says “I could be right over…”; when the guy says, “just one more time…” there’s got to be something within us as a generation, that says


“How could I when I belong to Him?”


How could I date this guy who doesn’t respect my values when I belong to Him?

How could I marry this girl who’s wrong for me when I belong to Him?

How could I look at those images on my laptop when I belong to Him?

This isn’t to trivialize the struggle when we get addicted to something or when there are things we are strongly attracted to. I understand this is a real fight. The thing is, we can’t get free until we admit that we belong to Him. Some of you might be thinking, “Well this is how I’ve always been.” If you don’t believe you can change because of this, then you’re saying that how you’ve always been is stronger than who He is. Believe that you belong to Him and that He can get you free.

There’s got to be something in us that says how could I when I belong to Him? I said “Yes” to Him, so I’m sorry, but I can’t do that anymore.

Choose to say yes to God, and choose to say yes to the beautiful things He’s placed in your hands to steward. Choose to say yes to your family, your friends, your health, the dreams He’s put in your heart, and every good gift He’s given you. Don’t you think it’s worth it? Twenty years from now when you look back on your life, don’t you think you’ll say the “no” you had in the significant moments was worth everything you co-labored with God to build? God wants more good things for you than you can ever imagine, and you can trust Him. You don’t have to focus on saying “no” to all the correct things. Focus on your “yes”, solidify it in Him, and your “no” will not only be easy, it will be more than worth it.

 

Want to find out more about what having a strong yes looks like?

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9 Steps To A New Life

 

Countless people are imprisoned by life-controlling sin and mind-numbing fear. Here are nine strategies on how to escape the grasp of the enemy and win the battle against hopelessness. If you are held hostage by the fear of failure, despair and depression, these steps will help you break free from the chains that hold you captive and win the victory against sin. Get ready to unlock divine opportunities and be released into your destiny!

1. Admit that you’re wrong and that it was no one else’s fault but yours.

2. Ask yourself what the real root cause of your failure is – what’s really wrong?

3. Repent; be truly sorry and change your mind about the core reason why you failed.

4. Clean up your mess; ask forgiveness of everyone and anyone that your failure affected. It doesn’t matter that they failed also. That’s not your business when you are trying to change your own life.

5. Find somebody who’s really strong in the place that you failed and ask them to mentor and disciple you.

6. Ask God to give you strength every day to turn your life around. When you fall down get right back up and don’t feel sorry for yourself.

7. Refuse to give up; don’t make excuses for your failures or defend yourself when you’re corrected. Receive wise people’s input into your life.

8. Forgive yourself because God has forgiven you. Refuse to live in regret of the past.

9. Have a big YES in your life; find a reason to live for Jesus, a purpose that you are willing to die for.

Have these steps spoken to you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

 

KRIS VALLOTTON IS THE AUTHOR OF NUMEROUS BOOKS, CO-AUTHOR OF THE BEST SELLING SUPERNATURAL WAYS OF ROYALTY, AND IS A WELL-KNOWN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SPEAKER. KRIS IS THE FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF MORAL REVOLUTION, THE SENIOR ASSOCIATE LEADER OF BETHEL CHURCH, AND THE CO-FOUNDER OF BETHEL SCHOOL OF SUPERNATURAL MINISTRY.  HE AND HIS WIFE, KATHY, HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR 36 YEARS AND RESIDE IN REDDING, CALIFORNIA.  THEY HAVE FOUR GROWN CHILDREN AND EIGHT GRAND CHILDREN.
WEBSITE: KRISVALLOTTON.COM
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/KVMINISTRIES
TWITTER: TWITTER.COM/KVMINISTRIES
INSTAGRAM: INSTAGRAM.COM/KVMINISTRIES

4 Ways to Subdue the Strongholds of Shame

 

As discussed in previous blogs (Silencing Shame and Disconnecting Shame), shame is feeling unworthy. Guilt says, “I did a bad thing,” while shame says, “I am bad.

Shame has many faces, conveying varying messages of ill being, coaxing its victims into secrecy, silence, and blame – condemning them to eek out a seemingly inescapable existence in the dark rooms of depression, anxiety, and detachment.

Some people tend to be drawn towards shame (always feel bad about themselves), while others attempt to avert shame (avoid shame whenever possible). Many people vacillate between the two. Whatever side of the shame spectrum they may choose, shame always demands a prescription to numb the pain. When our identity and destiny are in question, coping with life’s challenges and the devil’s demands become more difficult.

We were made to feel O.K. about ourselves. When we don’t feel O.K., we often look for ways to comfort our pain, and compensate for our inadequacies. Shame lures us into dysfunctional behaviors, oftentimes resulting in addictions – becoming strongholds, seeking to choke out our lives, and the lives of those around us.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, approximately 23 million people are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Not to mention those who are addicted to:

• Pornography, promiscuity, adultery

• Gambling

• Overeating, binging, anorexia

• Shopping

• Exercise

• Recreation

• Busyness

• Work

• People (Co-dependency)

When we experience shame, we look for countermeasures to compensate for the comfort we need. Until we face the realities of shame, we will never subdue the strongholds keeping us from walking in, and fulfilling, our true identity and destiny.

 

THE SHAME SYNDROME

Shame places us on a merry-go-round of never ending promises of change, propelling us into poor choices. When we don’t feel O.K., we feel powerless to end the shame syndrome driving us into dysfunctional decisions that destroy our sense of well-being even further.

Have you ever found yourself having this revolving conversation in your head?

 

“God, I’m sorry”

“That was the last time I’ll do that”

“I did it again”

 

 “God, I’m sorry”

“That was the last time I’ll do that”

“I don’t know if I can stop”

“I want to stop”

“I did it again”

 

 “God, I’m sorry”

“That was the last time I’ll do that”

“I did it again”

“I can’t tell anyone”

“What will they think?”

“I’m alone”

 

 “God, I’m sorry”

“That was the last time I’ll do that”

“God, please set me free”

“I did it again”

“I feel so bad – I am bad”

“I can’t change”

 

And the cycle of repentance, resolve, and resignation continues to pull us into the depths of despair and dysfunction. Finally, our futile attempts for freedom lead to a fatalistic view of our future, and hope for freedom.

The problem is that we are often fighting the symptoms of the problem instead of the source of the problem.

 

SUBDUING THE SOURCE OF THE STRONGHOLD

The fact is that we can be free. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).”

In order to be free from the dysfunctional addictive behavior cycle, we must know the truth about what is at the root of the bondage that has taken us captive.

Oftentimes, we are waging war against the wrong enemy.

While addictions are enemies of the life God has promised us, it is shame that is the 5 Star General over the addiction armies. Shame is the source of strongholds in our lives. In order to subdue the stronghold of addictions, we must subdue shame.

Moreover, we must identify the triggers that compel us to act out in destructive, dysfunctional behaviors.

 

4 SUGGESTIONS FOR SUBDUING STRONGHOLDS OF SHAME

1. What am I feeling?

Identifying our feelings, and the accompanying shame messages that trigger dysfunctional, addictive, behavior is essential in becoming free.

When someone says something derogatory towards us; when a circumstance doesn’t work out the way we had hoped; when we fail at something important to us, we can often sense a wide variety of demeaning messages of shame. It is important to discern the specific feelings associated with those messages.

I would recommend developing a list of feelings, and memorize them, so that you can recognize them when they present themselves.

Then, don’t judge the feeling; remember feelings are not right or wrong – they just are. Stuffing, ignoring, and condemning our feelings will not ease the pain, or erase the messages of shame. Acknowledging and even accepting our feelings is the beginning to finding out what we really need for our well-being.

2. What do I need?

Acknowledging our needs is not a selfish pursuit. Feelings are indicators of needs.

Feeling sad may indicate that we need comfort

Feeling disappointed may indicate that we need assurance

Feeling irritated may indicate that we need understanding

Feeling guilty may indicate that we need forgiveness

Feeling hopeless means that we may need a fulfilling vision

Feeling depressed may indicate that we need passion

Feeling lonely may indicate that we need intimacy

Feeling rejected may indicate that we need connection

We were created to have our needs fulfilled by God and others. When we deny or downplay our emotions – our feelings, we are choosing to fly through the storms of life without the instruments designed to assist in navigating us towards the runway of well-being.

It is important to identify our feelings and what are they indicating.

For example, you may discern that you are feeling lonely. At that point, it is important to ask: “What are my feelings indicating?” “What do I need?”

“I need:”

“A hug”

“A friend”

“A community”

“Someone who will listen”

“Sexual intimacy”

“To encounter God’s presence”

3. Manage behavior

While we may accurately assess our feelings, and the needs they are demanding to be met, it is equally important to seek sources of fulfillment that will lead us into well-being.

Ask yourself, “What would be the best way to fulfill that need?”

Seeking sound solutions for the fulfillment of our needs is crucial in subduing strongholds that shame seduces us into dis-ease.

Making good choices based on the consequences of cause and affect is key to healthy problem solving.

Ask yourself:

“What will this behavior cost me?”

“How will this option affect my family, friends, and community?”

“How will this choice create permanent well-being?”

“How will this decision impact my future destiny?

4. Reach out for help

No one is an island. We cannot subdue the strongholds of shame on our own. If we could, we would have already done it! We need God’s help; we need the help of others.

I want to encourage you to begin to:

1. Take risk to reach out

2. Be vulnerable in sharing shame strongholds, remembering that true strength is found in weakness.

3. Find a support system that can help you can grow in faith, authenticity, accountability, and a deeper sense of love and belonging.

4. Surround yourself with people will encourage you to walk in your true identity and destiny.

You were made to thrive in life, experiencing a sense of well-being in increasing measure.

I want to encourage you:

Don’t settle for anything less

You deserve the best

You are worth it!

I would love to hear feedback on how this blog impacted you. If it encouraged you, remember to share it with your friends, and look for more blogs coming on this topic of Shame.