Is Jesus Your Sidepiece?

The sidepiece.

We all know what that is, either because we’ve had one or we’ve been one at one time of our life. The sidepiece is man or woman in your life you keep around in addition to your main relationship. They’re the one that you hit up after the big fight you have with your “real” significant other. The one you go see when it’s convenient to you. The one you give just enough attention to, to keep them around, but not enough attention to create a serious relationship. The sidepiece is never your main priority, let alone your only priority. And to be honest, most people keep a sidepiece in their back pocket to fall back on just in case their main relationship doesn’t work out. The sidepiece always, and I mean always, gets the short end of the stick. Often times the sidepiece gives all their love and devotes so much of their time and energy to the cheater, who doesn’t do half as much for them. They spend time relentlessly pursuing and pining away for the one who doesn’t care enough about them to make them their main focus.

In short, it sucks to be the sidepiece!

Unfortunately, I know from personal experience. But as I look back over all my relationships, I have to confess that I’ve only had one sidepiece of my own and His name was Jesus.

Wait, what?! Yep, I said it. Jesus was my sidepiece.

The thing is that I’ve always loved Jesus (or so I said). It was just that I had to get some things together before I could fully commit myself to Him. I mean, I really wanted to be with Him, but I always gave the relationships I had with men take precedent over my relationship with Him. It was hard making Him my main priority when I focused so much on other relationships. I spent time with Him when I could. In between the phone calls that lasted for hours, the dates, and the time spent getting to know whoever my bae was at the time. I would squeeze in a prayer before I fell asleep or read the Bible occasionally. I spent just enough time with Him so that He would know I was still interested in Him, but not enough time to really form a strong bond with Him. However, whenever I got into a big fight or things didn’t work out with said bae, I would run to Him praying that He would fix things. If He didn’t, then and only then, would I pull Him out of my back pocket and fall back on Him. I would promise to commit myself to Him and really spend time with Him, only to push Him back to the side whenever my relationship was mended or a new relationship came along. I hate to say it, but my relationship with Christ was that of the typical cheater with their sidepiece.

The crazy thing is, though, no matter how many times I gave Jesus the short end of the stick when it came to our relationship, He never gave up on me. I’m sure He knew that my heart wasn’t fully invested in Him. He had to know that I was only using Him as a backup plan. Despite all of that, He gave me His unconditional love to me at the very times that I would barely pay attention to Him. On the days that I barely thought of Him because I was so wrapped up in a relationship, He was relentlessly pursuing me and pining away for me. Me. The one who didn’t care enough to make Him my main focus. The cheater. The sinner. He loved me, even when I made Him my sidepiece.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I’m not the only one that has ever made Jesus their sidepiece. So many of us have. We’ve treated Him like an option rather than our main priority. We’ve brushed him to the side when relationships, or work, or other endeavors have become our first love instead of Him. We’ve run into His arms only to ask for help or to have something to fall back on when things didn’t work out with what we were pursuing. But yet and still, He still loved us and pursued us passionately and relentlessly. He has given His all to be with us, even when we cheated on Him with whatever our main focus was at the time.

Some of us have changed our ways and left the life of infidelity to commit ourselves fully to Him, but many of us still are treating Jesus like our sidepiece. Putting Him on the back burner. Spending time with Him only in the stolen moments we have away from whatever we’ve put before Him. Barely paying attention to the one that constantly and consistently gives His all to us. Forgetting that He should be our first love. But if you’ve made Him your sidepiece, it’s time to change. As Christians, we’re required to make Him our first love. Revelations 2:4-5 says, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first …”

That means that if we’ve somehow made Him our sidepiece instead of our first love, we have to change. We have to repent for giving Him the cold shoulder and then change our ways so that He becomes our main priority and focus again. And isn’t He worth it? He’s the one who loved so much that He gave up His life for you. He’s the one who loves you enough to sit at the right side of the Father constantly interceding on your behalf. No man or woman, no job, no other endeavor or pursuit can give you that type of love. So is Jesus your sidepiece or your first love? Does He hold the place in your life that He should? Do you make Him compete for a spot in your life or is He your main priority? If you’re not sure about how you would answer those questions or if you know good and well that Jesus is currently your sidepiece, it might be time to take some time and reprioritize the place that give Him in your life. He’s worth way more than being your sidepiece. It’s time to make Him your first love again.

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Dear Love: He Knows Better

Dear Love,

You hear Him speaking but in arrogance and pride you don’t listen. You think that somehow you know better than He does. That you know more than He knows and that you’re a greater judge of life and all its intricacies than He is. You snatch the very destiny out of the hands that have carefully created it and cradled it since before you were born, and take fate into your own hands. Then you push Him back to the corridors of your mind and relegate Him to your subconscious where you can ignore Him. You hear Him speaking but don’t listen. In a fit of grandiose confidence in your own human capabilities you do what you think is right rather than what He requires of you. Like a rebellious teenager, you think you know it all. You think you know better than your loving and caring Father, but you don’t.

You forget that His ways and thoughts are higher . That He sees and knows all. That the formula for the universe is in His back pocket. Of course He knows what’s best for You. He knows everything! Yet you hear Him, but you don’t listen. You hear His directions and go bolting the opposite way. You run away from His guidance so warm and loving like home, out into the cold streets of life on your own terms. But it’s hard to navigate life all alone, without His direction and the provision that comes with it.

You find yourself like the Prodigal Son, coming back home in shame after trying to manage life on your own. You heard Him but you didn’t listen. But today, return to Him just like the Prodigal Son did. Sullied and soiled by the mistakes, bad habits and hurts that came from what you thought at the time were good decisions. Return to Him covered in the consequences of your selfish choices. See that He was really right all along. Come back home to Him. Reopen the corridors of your mind and let Him slip back in to your consciousness. This time when you hear Him listen. Hear His voice now and follow. Where He tells you to go, go. The pride and arrogance that once stood in the way of adhering to His directions have now been eroded by time and the consequences of all those mistakes and now He can fill those empty spaces with humility.

See that He does know better than you do. That He knows more than you know and that He’s a greater judge of life and all its intricacies than you are. Hand back your tattered and crumbling destiny into the hands that carefully created it and cradled it since before your birth, and put your fate back into the hands that shape and restore all the things, including you very life.

XOXO,

Sarita

Losing It All

What if I told you that in less than a year, I walked away from what I initially thought was my dream job. I lost several friends that I thought would always have my back and an ex boyfriend, who I thought I was going to marry. Would you feel sorry for me? Would you say I was down on my luck? Would you encourage me and tell me that things will get better? Now what if I told you that I’m happier now, then I was when I had all those things and people in my life. Let me explain.

After I graduated from college, I headed to the Mississippi Delta to start a teaching career with Teach for America. I had the perfect job on paper. I would be making close to $30k a year, which is more than I’ve ever made in my life. I was making new friends, adjusting to life as a teacher, and things appeared to be falling into place. There was only one problem: I felt miserable. Not homesick miserable. Not adjusting-to-change miserable. But something-is-terribly-wrong-with-me-being-here miserable. I just couldn’t shake the feeling, but I tried to push through it. I turned to going out every weekend and drinking way more than my 5’2” body could handle just to numb myself to how I was feeling, but I still felt miserable. I told myself to suck it up because this was an opportunity that others would die for and it would look so good on my resume. I still felt miserable. I desperately tried to focus on the fact that I loved working with kids and that I could do so much to help the community I was going into. I still felt miserable. So after Institute (training and summer school for new corps members) was over, I left feeling lower than I’ve ever felt in my life. I decided to take a break from TFA and figured it would help me sort things out and regroup. I had the option of returning within the next two years, so I planned to return to the Delta the following year. However, the weeks and then months started to roll by, and I still felt miserable.

Meanwhile, I was looking for support from those around me, including several of my closest friends from college. I’d met them at different points throughout my collegiate journey but we all hung together as a group. We laughed together. We cried together. We fought together, but through it all we stuck together. Surely, I could count on them to be by my side throughout such a difficult transition in my life, or so I thought. Turns out, they weren’t. At a time when I was looking to them for support and encouragement, I got judgment and rejection. Not having them during such a tough time in my life, made me feel hurt and lonely.

Hey, but at least I still had my boyfriend, even if I didn’t have the job or the friends. I’ve always dreamed of having a husband and a “perfect family” since I was a little girl, especially since I didn’t have that growing up. I’ve always wanting to give my future children the two-parent home that I wished I could have had. And I think in a lot of ways, I looked to men to fill the void that my dad left when my parents got divorced (We’ve been working on our relationship over the past few years, though). So when my ex brought up marriage and kids and eternal, everlasting love, I was down for the cause. Having someone there to love me through thick and thin, better or worse, richer or poorer, is all I’ve ever wanted. So when we broke up, I was broken hearted. I just knew he was “the one”.

In less than a year, it felt like I had lost more than I ever had in all 23 years of my life. However, the Lord used everything that I lost to allow me to gain some valuable lessons about life.

It was hard to walk away from a “dream job” to come back to your hometown unemployed and starting from scratch, but I did it. God used that situation to show what an incredibly resilient person He created me to be. He showed me without a shadow of a doubt, that I can start over even when I’m scared and unsure. I learned to step out on faith and take the path that God had for me, instead of sticking with the path that others, and even I, thought I should have been on. I learned that I don’t need a certain job, with a certain amount of prestige, making a certain amount of money to succeed in life. As long as I am obedient to His will, I can go anywhere in this world and prosper.

I thought I needed friends to fulfill me. I relied on them to encourage me, offer me guidance, and make decisions for me. Before all of this, I didn’t realize the power I gave to others to dictate the direction my life was going in. I look back over my friendships and I realize how many times I’ve let friends’ opinions decide whether or not I pursue something or say something or wear something. I gave my friends the power to control me. Losing them was painful, but God used it to show me to see that I am perfectly capable of making each and every decision for my life on my own. I don’t need anyone’s approval to do anything. As long as I pray about it and seek wise counsel, when God leads me to, I’m entitled to make the decisions that I feel are best for my life.

I thought I needed the boyfried, but losing him has allowed me to discover a love far deeper than a wedding and sex. In losing him, I ending up finding The One who has loved me since time began and will love me forever. The One who has never abandoned me, never given up on me, and refuses to give up on me no matter how many times I turn away from Him, fail Him or break His heart. I found an everlasting love and joy that makes me whole and fills every void in my heart that has ever been there. I’ve seen over these past months of singleness, that I don’t need a boyfriend to be alright. I can stand on my own, even when it’s lonely and painful.

So in the end, I lost it all, only to find out that I had everything I ever needed in God and in myself. That time was one of the most painful ones in my life, but I’m at a place where I can look back and see that the pain I was feeling were just growing pains. For the longest time I thought that happiness would come when I had the “perfect” job, friends, and relationship, but I had all of those things and felt absolutely miserable. God showed me that “perfect” on paper does not always equal His perfect will for our lives. You can have the prestigious job, with a decent pay check and paid vacation days, but what does that mean if you wake up every morning dreading to go to work? Are the likes on Facebook when you post pictures of your “awesome” job and the pats on the back you receive from others who approve of your career path going to sustain you for the next 2 or 5 or 20 years? You can have the friends who you can laugh and kick it with. The ones who went to a nice school like you, who dress nicely, and have equally “perfect” jobs like you, but what does all of that mean if you can’t count on them to have your back when you need it the most? Are those things more important than having people who won’t judge you when you are having a hard time or laugh and gossip about your failures behind your back? You can have the “perfect” boyfriend who promises you a diamond ring and a happy life, but is it worth it if you have to compromise who you really are to be with them? Is it more important to put your dreams on hold to have a family or is it more important to go out and live your purpose with or without somebody by your side?

I’ve learned that my joy, peace and well-being are not bound by who and what is in my life at any given point and time. As long as I have God, I have all that I need and sooooo much more. I’m blossoming in ways, that I could have only dreamed of before (including working on my M.Div, building new relationships centered around Christ, and starting this blog) and I know that I wouldn’t be at this point if God didn’t force me to let go of what I so desperately thought I had to cling to. I’m a living witness that “everything works for the good of those called according to His purpose”. With or with out the nice job, friends, or man that I once thought I needed, I’m okay. Matter of fact, I’m more than okay. It’s definitely been a journey, but I’m so grateful that God allowed me to lose it all, so that I could gain a trust in Him that sustains me no matter what my circumstances look like.

So Near, Yet So Far Away

Lord, I feel so near, yet so far away from you. I think it’s because I’m scared to submit to you because I’m afraid of intimacy with you. Submitting to you means completely opening myself up to you and that scares me. Submitting to you means I give you the power to possibly hurt me. And although my mind knows better, my heart still has reservations. I allow you to get close to me but not too close. Not so close that you could hurt me. I allow you to get just close enough so that I can feel your presence but not close enough to be wrapped in your loving embrace. And that’s an issue. Because my heart longs to be captured by the love of Your Son Jesus. My soul aches to be touched by Your Holy Spirit. And my mind needs to be molded and directed by you, oh Lord. I need you so terribly. I can’t find peace without you surrounding me. But with my guards up, I keep you arm length’s away. You’re so near yet so far away.

The peace I constantly seek but can’t seem to find. So near yet so far away.

The elusive joy that slips out of the grasp of my finger tips just as I desperately try to cling to it. So near yet so far away.

The hope that I can see clearly but can never seem to touch. So near yet so far away.

But Father! I’m so tired of keeping a safe distance from you. I tired of letting you in, but not letting you in fully. I want more of you. I need more of you and I think it’s finally time to let these Jericho walls around my heart come tumbling down. When I first was getting to know you this was okay. This was comfortable. I was just encountering you for myself and feeling you out. I was discovering if you were who so many others have said you are. I was seeing for myself that you were trustworthy, loving, dependable, and giving. But now I want more. I want a deeper level of intimacy with You. And arm length intimacy is just not enough. I don’t know how to tear these walls down, but if I tell You that I’m ready, will You step in and do the demolition for me? Will you penetrate into the depths of my being? Will you knock down every single doubt, fear and reservation that keeps us from forming a closer, more intimate relationship? Will you show me that you love me and break through all the things that I’ve been allowing to hold me back from You?

Just knowing You is not enough anymore. Just being in Your presence at church or when I find the time to pray is not enough anymore. I want to be enamored by You. I want You to be so close to me that I can’t escape You no matter where I go. I want Our connection to be so strong that I’ll never build up another wall to separate us again. My heart, mind and soul is hungry for you. And that hunger for you outweighs any fear of intimacy with you. I’m tired of being so near yet so far away. I’m ready to go deeper. Ready to grow closer. Ready to give you my all. Lord, I’m ready to submit to you.