Crazy Love and Obedience

God is the creator of the universe. He keeps the cosmos in order and all things in His perfect balance. He is the ruler of much but still knows the numbers of hairs on your head. In all that He is and all that He does, He still loves you enough to know all the intimate, insignificant, seemingly random details about your life.

Remember that.

Sit in awe of that.

Meditate on that.

The Creator of all things loves You enough to be involved with every detail of your life. He loves you enough to want to handcraft the plans of your life. He loves you enough to want to direct your path. Remember that whenever He speaks to You. Whether it’s through a word from someone else or through your own time in prayer and meditation. Sit in awe of the fact that the One who sits in charge of all creation cares enough about You to speak and pour into your life daily. Bask in the incomprehensible expanse of His love. Follow the directions that He has laid out for you. React to His amazing love with your complete obedience. Do His will, regardless of what your busy schedule, other people or your own selfish desires may say.

Listen to Him.

Truly listen to Him in all of the love and awe that He’s placed inside of you. Listen to the One who is in charge of every star, every solar system, every galaxy in the cosmos, yet listens to every prayer, hears every cry and cares enough to want to give you the desires of your heart. And He does it all just because He loves you. Can you do the same and love Him with all your heart, mind and soul? Can you give up your tiny and insignificant plans for your life to listen whenever He speaks, hear when He cries out to you to serve Him, and care just enough to live out the life He desires you to have? Can you lay down the life you think you should have for the life that He’s planned out for you to have since He cradled the universe in His arms in its infancy? Can you trust that the ruler of all things would never misguide you or lead you astray? That His plans and thoughts are truly higher than yours? Can you decrease so that He may increase?

Well, can you?

Sit with that this week. Meditate and pray on it. Ask God to keep you in awe of all that He is, especially when it come to decisions about your life. Ask that you be reminded of His infinite power, yet infinite concern about your wellbeing whenever you are tempted to abandon his perfectly crafted will for your life for your own reckless and insignificant plans. Ask that He brings to remembrance the incomprehensible expanse of who He is anytime you are tempted to place the fallible and short-sighted advice of others over His all-knowing direction. This week I pray that you are in absolute and complete awe of Him and that through that awe you fall into absolute and complete obedience.

Married by 23?

Almost a year ago, I was in a relationship with a guy and we were headed towards marriage (or so I thought). He came along at the “perfect” time. We’d met in college and dated off and on before finally getting together at the end of my senior year of college. I’d always hoped and prayed that I would get married by 23 or 24, so he’d come along just in time. Plus he was just as excited about marriage as I was. He was heaven sent and I just knew he had to be my Boaz, Adam or whatever Biblical figure we’re using to describe husbands these days. The only problem was, I was focused on marriage for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to be married for me and me alone. I wanted the wedding for me. I wanted the beautiful ring for me. I wanted the husband and kids for me. Me, me, me, me, me! And I was so busy focusing on my own selfish desires that I couldn’t see that the relationship that I thought was heaven sent was really a counterfeit.

But the one thing that kept me from walking down the aisle with him, was my relationship with Christ. The closer I got to God, the further away I grew from my ex. The more I sought out God’s wisdom and counsel for leading my life and my relationship, the more red flags started popping up left and right. All of a sudden, I started discovering things that weren’t compatible with the purpose that God had for me. Though he was a Christian, we didn’t hold a lot of the same views about our relationship with Christ. One of our biggest arguments actually stemmed from a disagreement about tithes. Yes, chile, tithes! I started noticing how I was too dependent on him when it came to making decisions about my life. I realized that I didn’t like the involvement that his family had in our relationship. He realized he didn’t really like the fact that I preferred being homebody over going out. And the biggest kicker was the fact that we were having sex outside of marriage; we weren’t even building our relationship on a Godly foundation to prepare for marriage. That’s not to say that he was a bad guy, but looking back on it, it was clear that we were not meant for each other. In the haste of trying to make a major life decision, based on my own selfish desires, I could have made one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I could have gotten what I wanted at the time. I could have ignored the signs that the Lord was giving me and kept focusing on my selfish wants. I could have ended up married by the age of 23. But you know what, I probably would have ended up miserable. I would have ended up in a marriage that wasn’t build on a solid foundation, which would have caused chaos and confusion for my ex, myself, and any children we may have had.

I prayed so hard to have a husband by 23, but less than a month away from being 24, I can say I’m so grateful that this was one prayer He did not answer. That’s not to knock marriage or getting married young, but if God had allowed me to get married so young I would have missed the whole point of what marriage (and life) is really about. Marriage is not about me. It’s not about what I want, when I want it, and how I want it. Yes, marriage comes with its perks and I know there are few things that are more fulfilling then living and growing with the spouse that God set aside for you. But ultimately marriage is about God. Marriage is a ministry. It is supposed to be an earthly example of the love that Christ has for the church. Marriage is about giving up self, to serve your spouse and to serve God. And to be honest, I was far too committed to myself and my selfish desires to make that type of commitment to God and to someone else.

God has really been showing me over this past year, that marriage is not just another task that I check off my to-do list or another accomplishment I can add to my resume. It’s a serious undertaking that I need to wait on His perfect timing to take on. As a woman, it can be so easy to get caught up in the marriage frenzy and to fall into the trap that your ultimate purpose in life is to get wifed up, but God has been really showing me that marriage is only part of my purpose. My ultimate purpose, and anyone’s ultimate purpose, is to serve God and to give Him all the glory with your life. Right now, that means I’m serving God by working on my Master’s degree, healing and becoming whole in this period of singleness. One day, my purpose will include getting married, but until that day comes, I am content with where I’m at. I’m growing to a place where I want what God wants for me at any given point in my life, even if it isn’t what I planned out for my life. I’m thankful God said no to marriage at 23, so I could say yes to building my relationship with Him and preparing for marriage at the age He wants me to.

On the Rock or Sand?

I really think our generation struggles with wanting to fit in and be accepted. So many of us live to get over 100 likes on an Instagram picture. We’ll take it down and repost it if we don’t get enough likes the 1st time around. We love seeing our tweets retweeted and favorited. Some of us long to be the next YouTube makeup guru while others vie to be the next Vine comedian. We spend countless moments of our days taking and re-taking selfies, usies, crafting the perfectly worded tweets, and finding just the right lighting for that next video upload. All in the name of catching the attention of other people. We’re in the constant pursuit of being liked, retweeted and subscribed to because we place so much value in what other’s think of us. We love the status that comes with having over 1000 followers on a social media site. We feel good when others seem to like us and approve of us. And slowly but surely, many of us have become so caught up in the pursuit of creating social content to gain people’s approval that we’ve forgotten to pursue the One who created us.

It reminds me of the passage in Matthew 7:24-27, where one man builds a house on sand, while the other builds a house upon the rock. I’m sure you know how the story goes. The man with the house on the sand ends up in ruins when the storm rolls in and washes away the unstable and weak foundation. The man who builds his house on the rock, however, is able to withstand the storm. Now there’s nothing wrong with social media, in and of itself, but when we use it to feed our obsession with being liked and validated by others, we become just like the man who built his house on the sand. We get so caught with trying to become mini-celebs that we lose sight of the fact that what we’re chasing after isn’t stable or reliable. When we let our self-worth become based on people’s opinions and not on God’s opinions of us, we’re destined to end up in ruins just like the house built on sand. People’s opinions sway back and worth just like the waves of the ocean and their criticism can come crashing down on you just like a high tide. When you base your life on gaining the approval of and being liked by people, you will forever be at the whim and mercy of public opinion. If your self-worth is caught up with how well-received the image of yourself that your portray on social media is received, you’re bound to be crushed time and time again when the tides change and you aren’t receiving the validation that you used to.

That’s why as believers we are called to build our life on the rock that is Christ. God knew we needed something solid and strong to base our life and self-worth on. And what better source to find approval and validation from, then from the One who’s opinion about us never changes. He’s the One who still thinks we’re fearfully and wonderfully made even when we only get 5 likes on that selfie we posted 2 hours ago. He’s the One who still values us even when nobody retweets that tweet we took 10 minutes to phase perfectly into 180 characters. He’s the One who loves us whether or not we ever become that YouTube or Vine sensation. Even when people don’t give us the approval we hoped for. Even when they don’t seem to like us or subscribe to us. Even when their opinions of us crash down on us in a negative subtweet or comment under our video. His opinion of us always remains the same. We are His precious children and nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love He has for us. Not death or life or having less than 100 friends on Facebook. Nothing.

So what are you building your house on? What are you building you self-worth on? What are you crafting your image around? What are you pursuing daily? Is it on the shaky sands of posts, popularity and people’s opinions? Or is it on the solid foundation of a relationship with Christ and His opinion? (Which, by the way, is the only one that really matters.)

A Lion on the Prowl

Watch a documentary on the Discovery Channel and you’ll see this time and time again. A lion is prowling the savannah looking at a heard of unsuspecting antelope. The lion doesn’t just run out and chase every single antelope. No, he sits back and observes the heard for a bit. He looks for an antelope that is injured, that is sick, that is very old or very young. He looks for the weakest link in the heard and then he pounces. He wants a meal that isn’t going to fight back. He knows that when he goes after the weakest one in the heard, he has a better chance of catching and killing his prey. He wants something that he can easily devour.

We’re not out on the savannah, but we definitely face the same threat. The Bible says the devil is like a ravenous lion, seeking whom he can devour and just like a lion he always attacks the weak. He looks for those injured by the pains and troubles of life. He searches to find those sick with bitterness, hatred, and resentment. He loves seeking out those new in their faith or those who have grown complacent and stagnent in their faith. Now, of course, the devil isn’t walking around in a red suit with a pitch fork making himself apparent in his attacks on us. Just like a lion hides among the tall grass and tries to blend in to the terrain of the Serengeti, the enemy often blends in to the everyday situations in our lives. He often comes subtly through people and situations in life. I notice that when I’m at my weakest spiritually, emotionally and mentally that I get bombarded with attacks. When I’m already having a bad day, I’ll overhear someone talking about me. When I’m stressed out, I’ll end up having a fight with a loved one. When I’m worried about money, I’ll face an unexpected financial hardship. Trust me, it’s not happening by mistake. The enemy sits back and observes. When he sees you at your weakest, he knows it’s time to pounce on you by sending people and situations to further discourage you, depress you and break you down.

Now there’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is, there is absolutely nothing you can do about your weakness, but the good news is it doesn’t matter because you don’t have to be strong if you serve a God who can be strong for you. The Bible says in our weakness, He’s made strong. Not only that, but He will fight for you every time you’re attacked if you allow Him into you life. You’re not like the poor antelope, left without a protector to defend it when it’s attacked. You have the ultimate protector in Him and He will not allow any attack to destroy you. Now let me give a disclaimer: this doesn’t mean that you won’t face attacks and that they won’t hurt when they happen. They will happen over and over again throughout your life and often they will hurt you in ways the feel to hard to bear. However, God will allow those attacks to strengthen you and increase your faith in Him. Remember, all things work for the good of those called according to His purpose. Those attacks may shake your confidence, scare you, and they may even scar you but they will never take you out, as long as you have God on your side.

The Struggle with Forgiveness

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Forgiveness is something that I really struggle with. And when I say struggle, I mean STRUGGLE. I am a queen of holding grudges and not letting stuff go. I could give you a wrap sheet of people who I have cut off and cut out of my life for hurting me or doing me wrong. That list includes colleagues, friends and even family. (No, I don’t discriminate) And I’m the type that will cut you off and never speak to you again in life. The type that will see you in the street, at the store, or at your mama’s house and won’t speak. The type that would keep riding if I saw your car broke down on the side of the road. Okay, maybe I’m not that bad, but you get my point. My struggle with forgiveness is so real. But God has really been working with me on this issue lately and forcing me to face my issues with forgiveness head on.

I’ve been seeing that my issues with forgiveness come from the fact that I heavily value justice. I hate when things aren’t even and fair. I feel like if you do something wrong then you should make it right. If you hurt someone, then you should do everything in your power to make it up to them. It’s a standard that I hold myself and others to, and it’s that way of thinking that’s made it so easy to hold grudges and bitterness in my heart against others. Whenever people have wronged me in the past my automatic response has been, “They did something to hurt me, so if they want my forgiveness then they should come to me and make it up to me by apologizing. That’s only me being fair.” I felt that if I forgive them without them taking the steps to make it “right”, then I was letting them off the hook. I thought that if I didn’t hold a grudge then what they did had no consequences.

While it may sound fair and even sound right on the surface, the way I was thinking, and the way many of us think about forgiveness, isn’t based on truth. I think what’s at the core of our unforgiveness is the lie that our healing has to come from the same place that our hurt came from. We feel that since a particular person was responsible for hurting us, then by default, they are responsible for healing us. We hold on tightly to anger and pain from past hurts because we falsely believe that the people who hurt us are the only ones capable of setting us free. Forgiveness frees us from that way of thinking. It allows us to realize that even though someone hurt us, we don’t have to wait around for them to heal us. We don’t have to walk around day after day holding onto grudges, waiting around for an apology that may or may not ever come. Forgiveness allows us to see that our healing is not dependent on the person that hurt us. It opens our eyes to the fact that it doesn’t matter where our hurt came from because our healing ultimately comes through Christ. That’s what makes forgiveness so freeing. It turns our attention away from the ones who hurts us, and sets our eyes on the One who heals us. He is the only One capable of tending to the wounds from our past. He is the only One that can take the sting out of the slights we’ve felt. He is the only One who can piece our heart back together after it’s been broken by others.

And realizing that forgiveness hinges on Him and not on human beings, reminds me of why Christ died on the cross for us. His death was the ultimate act of forgiveness. It was the recognition that no human being would ever be capable of apologizing, sacrificing or paying God back enough to cover the wrongs of our sins. It was the ultimate recognition that there was no way a human being could heal the agonizing hurt we cause God whenever we disobey Him through our sin. Christ’s death was the realization that human beings were incapable of undoing the damage our sinful ways cause. I hurt the very heart of God every single time I sin. We hurt the very heart of God every single time we sin. Every single time. Yet He doesn’t hold grudges until I make it “right”. He doesn’t make me, or any of us, pay Him back for wronging Him. He forgave each of us and tangibly showed us that forgiveness by sending His only begotten Son. Looking at His incredible forgiveness of all of my sins, makes my unforgiveness seem really petty, childish, trivial, insignificant…well you get the point.

So maybe you’re like me and struggle with forgiveness. Maybe you’ve been holding grudges with the false hope that the people that hurt you were the only ones capable of healing you. Maybe somewhere along the way you forgot that the same forgiveness God extended to us over 2000 years ago on an old, rugged cross is the same forgiveness we’re called to extend to others. But as you go into the new year, start off by taking your eyes off of the ones that hurt you and fix them on the only One who has ever been capable of healing you. Go into this new year letting go of pain and bitterness that unforgiveness causes, so you’ll be able to fully embrace the healing and comfort that God’s forgiveness brings. Pick up that phone, send that text, write that e-mail or letter (Shoutout to you if you still write letters) and let someone who hurt you know that you forgive them because you know the One who has forgiven you.

The Purging Process

One of the worst feelings in the world is when you eat something you’re not supposed to and get sick. (BTW, this is going to be kinda gross but stay with me on this.) For me, the one thing that’s guaranteed to make me sick to my stomach anytime I eat them are avocadoes. Every time I’ve ever ingested this green fruit or vegetable or whatever it is, I’ve gotten sick. Right after I eat it I’m fine, but a few hours later, I find myself feeling nauseous…really, really nauseous. The nausea continues for what feels like forever until my body finally can’t stand it anymore and I throw up (Eww!). Clearly, my body doesn’t react well to avocadoes because whenever I’ve eaten them, they’ve caused an adverse reaction. In other words, avocadoes are bad for me. The nausea I’ve felt, was my body’s way of signaling that what I ate is not good for me and that terrible feeling wouldn’t go away until my body purged itself of what was making it sick.

Now, of course, the actual process of throwing up is painful and ugly. It physically hurts to throw up. And it’s a pretty exhausting experience. Not to mention the fact that having your face planted over a toilet bowl or trash can during the whole ordeal, isn’t exactly a pretty site. To say the least, throwing up is not a pleasant experience but after you do, you feel a lot better.

It’s funny how our physical body’s reaction to bad things it ingests mirrors our spiritual, emotional and mental sides’ reactions to bad things. Often times we become sick spiritually, mentally and emotionally because of the bad things that have happened to us or that we’ve participated in. Those bad things could be abuse, trauma or an otherwise negative life experience. And when they occur, our mind and soul ingests those experiences and starts to internalize them. Initially those things may not affect us, but once those bad things settle within us, they start to cause an adverse reaction. We often start to feel the spiritual, mental and emotional equivalent of nausea. We find ourselves in a miserable state that won’t seem to go away.

But just like our physical body doesn’t get better until it regurgitates what’s been making it sick, our spiritual, mental and emotional being can’t get better until it does the same. Many times we go through things in life that hurt us deeply and traumatize us and leave us feeling sick. Maybe that sickness manifests itself as depression, an uncontrollable temper, or an addiction. However that sickness manifests itself, it manifests itself in ways that seem to linger. It manifests itself in ways that leave us feeling miserable. The only thing that will make the pain go away is to purge ourselves of whatever we’ve ingested and internalized. Our healing is on the other side of our purging process. But here’s the catch: purging is painful. Purging is ugly. Purging is hard to do and takes a lot of energy out of you. It’s incredibly hard to look at the things that you’d rather forget ever happened. It’s painful to work through tough memories from your past. It’s tough to have to deal with the anger, sadness, frustration, and unforgiveness that is associated with said things from your past. On the surface, it may seem far easier to “just move on” and act like those things aren’t really affecting you. But here’s the other catch: purging is the only way you’ll ever find healing for you mind, soul and emotions. The internal pain won’t go away until you rid yourself of the bad things that are causing that pain. Just like the nausea won’t go away until you throw up and get everything bad out of your system, whatever internal pain you’re facing won’t go away until you’re gone through the purging process. There are no short cuts or ways around it. You have to go through the excruciating pain of purging to finally find relief from whatever has been plaguing you.

The purging process is so difficult but if you can just push through the pain, you’ll find relief. Of course, you can and probably should work through the pain with a caring professional or loved one. But however you choose to work through it, know that you’ll feel so much better after you do. Release those things that have been hurting you once and for all, so you can move forward and feel better.

I Know Depression

I know depression.

I know what it feels like to hurt and hurt so deeply that it reaches the depths of your soul.

I know what it feels like to have that nagging pain that won’t seem to go away.

I know what it feels like to lay in the bed at night crying your heart out.

I know what it feels like to pray to God, begging Him not to let you wake up in the morning because you can’t stand the sadness anymore.

I know what it feels like to smile and pretend that everything is okay, even though you’re dying inside.

I know what it feels like to try to hide what you’re going through from classmates, coworkers, family and friends.

I know what it feels like.

I know depression.

I’ve dealt with depression since I was 13 years old. And over the past 10 years, I’ve struggled with it in silence, for the most part. I struggled with it alone, silently drowning in pain and soaking in tears for a lot of reasons.

I was afraid of the stigma that comes with depression. Afraid of being judged by others and being called “crazy”.

I didn’t want people to think I was weak or could not handle everything on my own. And a lot of times, I honestly did think I could handle it on my own.

I thought that depression meant that I was ungrateful. I mean, my life hasn’t been picture perfect, but I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a lot to be happy about, so why couldn’t I be? Why couldn’t I just snap myself out of it and be “normal” like everyone else?

I also always placed extremely high expectations on myself and felt that I had to be perfect. Depression got in the way of me being perfect and reaching the incredibly high standards I set for myself. Admitting that I was battling depression, felt like having to admit that I didn’t always have it together and perfect, and that was something I wasn’t ready to do for the longest.

But over this past year, as I’ve grown in my relationship with Christ, I’ve started to realize that depression is not my destiny. John 10:10 tells us that the enemy came to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came so that we could have life and have it abundantly. Depression isn’t a life of abundance. It steals your hope. It kills your joy. It destroys your peace. That’s not the life any of us are meant to live. We’re meant to live an abundant life. Occasional sadness is a natural and necessary part of life, but when sadness lingers for too long and starts turning into depression, it’s okay to reach out and get help. I know that I’ve spent the past ten years of my life, suffering with depression and struggling to hide it from others, because of fear and shame. But, I’m finally in a place where I’m ready to heal from my depression. And I’m starting that healing process with a caring professional and deciding to share what has been an incredibly painful part of my life with others.

So if you’re going through depression and you’re reading this, know that you are not alone. The sadness, emptiness and hopelessness that you’re dealing with is something that I’ve dealt with, and so many others have, too. It’s okay that you’re hurting but know that you don’t have to continue hurting for the rest of your life and God doesn’t want you to hurt for the rest of your life. Please don’t let the fear of being judged or the shame about the pain that you’re feeling keep you from getting the help and the healing God so desperately wants you to have. No matter how it feels right now, understand that He sees the pain that you’re going through, just like He saw all the pain I’ve gone through over the past ten years. He sees your broken heart and He’s close to you. He sees how depression has crushed your spirit and He’s more than willing to rescue you. (Psalm 34:18) He loves you so much and He wants you to heal and be whole. Some of your healing will come from praying and crying out to Him, but often times healing will also come through the help of a trained counselor or therapist. That healing may also include taking medication until you start feeling better. And if it does, that’s perfectly okay. It took me an entire decade to realize that, but it doesn’t have to take you that long. I know that it’s so hard to deal with depression, especially when you’re hiding your pain in the darkness of fear and shame. But you don’t have to deal with depression alone. You can reach out to get the help that you need, so you can start living your life, and live it more abundantly.

Perhaps…

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Perhaps you were born for such a time as this. Perhaps your life is meant to show God’s love in radical ways. Perhaps you were created to look out for the poor, the lonely and the oppressed, rather than the rich, the popular and the powerful. Perhaps you’ve been called to live out the Gospel in ways that challenge the status quo and make people uncomfortable. Perhaps you were created to change the business-as-usual practices in the world and in the church. Perhaps…

Authenticity > Perfection

God doesn’t want your perfection, He wants your authenticity. God’s people don’t need image and branding right now, they need realness. The world desperately needs those who can expose their flaws, their hurts, deepest shame and secrets even when it’s uncomfortable and painful. They need those who can share their testimonies to set other’s free even if it means they’re not always popular or accepted because of it. They need those who are willing to preach the Gospel even when it means losing friends, connections, and money. He wants those who are truly willing to take up the cross for Him not just those who want to use religion for their own personal gain.

Being a Christian is Hard

Being a Christian is hard.

I grew up in the church. I’m the daughter of a pastor. I was baptized at the age of 3 or 4. But being in the church and being in a relationship with Christ can be very different things. There’s a big difference between practicing the religion of Christianity and embracing a life-long love with Christ, and it’s safe to say I’m learning that difference now at 23 years old. It wasn’t until the past year or so that I got serious about my relationship with Christ. I got to the point where I was tired of the occasional conversations with God that I had via prayer. I was fed up with living “good” Christian life in public, but living a different life behind closed doors. I was tired of carrying around the guilt of living a double life. A life full of fornication, alcohol abuse, profanity, gossiping, lying, disobedience and rebellion to God’s will for my life. I’d had enough and I was ready to give my all to Him. I finally wanted to live a life that was pleasing in His eyesight, both inside and outside of the church. I wanted to live a pure and righteous life, both in public and private.

So I started making changes. I went to a Christian counselor to help me with my unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I ended the relationship that was causing me to continually have pre-marital sex. I distanced myself from the friends, TV shows, music, or anything else that would influence me to turn away from God. I joined a prayer group of other young women with hearts for Christ. I started delving into the Word more and more and praying everyday. I even enrolled in seminary school so I could learn more and discern the call that God has for my life. When I did those things and started taking my relationship with Christ more seriously, I saw drastic changes in my life. I felt so much better. Much of the guilt and pressure that came with trying to live two lives at once was gone. My relationship with Christ felt so much deeper. I experienced His presence in ways that I never had before. But what I didn’t realize was that what I was feeling was the honeymoon phase.

Our relationship with Christ is a lot like a marriage. As a matter of fact, we are the bride and Christ is the bridesgroom. Unfortunately, many of us, have been cheating on Christ with the world. Granted we may go on dates with Him occasionally by going to church or praying when we need something, but as soon as we get what we need from Him, we’re back out in the world doing the very things that break His heart. That’s exactly what I had been doing for most of my life. I’d been locked in a cycle of getting my heart broken and shattered by the world, running to Christ to get Him to mend all the broken pieces, then running right back out the world only to get heart broken again. I had been using Christ. Exploiting His love for me and getting “closer” to Him just long enough for Him to patch me up, so I could go back out in the world and do what I wanted to do. Thankfully, He brought me to a point where I could see that the cycle of make-up and break-up with Him would not sustain me, and that what I was doing was breaking His heart. He showed me that He loved me so much. He loved me so much that He would heal my broken heart every time I came to Him hurting, even though He knew I would turn my back on Him as soon as I started feeling better. He loved me so much that He still wanted me no matter how many times I cheated on Him with the world. I finally saw that and wanted to commit my life to Him and stop cheating on Him with the world. I decided to finally be the bride of Christ and spend the rest of my life with Him and not the world.

This past year has been wonderful. I have grown a lot closer to Him. I received so many blessings from Him. I started feeling the joy and fulfillment in Him that I had been hopelessly searching for in the world. But now I feel like I’m coming to the place where the honeymoon is over and the very real work of marriage starts kicking in. Lately, the Lord has been showing me that while the initial things I gave up to be completely committed to Him were great, there still is more work to do. He’s showing me more and more that I have to die to my flesh every single day. I have to give my all to Him and serve Him every single day. Even on the days when I don’t feel as close to Him. Even on the days when I haven’t received tangible blessing from Him. Even on the days when I feel tired or sad. Just like a marriage isn’t always fun and filled with ecstasy, neither is our relationship with Christ. Just like a marriage can be hard, our relationship with Christ can be hard, too.

This phase of our relationship can be so tricky, because for many of us, we assume that because it doesn’t feel like it initially felt then something must be wrong. Maybe we’re just not cut out for this Christian life. Maybe life in the world wasn’t so bad after all. Maybe it’s okay to start compromising our faith just a little bit. Maybe we don’t need to pray or read our Bible today. It’s not like we’re getting the same feeling that we did before. I know I’ve struggled with thoughts like that. I’ve been tempted to go back to things in the world and have fallen into sin because I felt that maybe it wasn’t really a big deal like I thought it was. However, the Lord has been showing me the importance of this phase of our relationship. Being a Christian is about far more than being on a continual spiritual high. It’s about more than always being happy and always being blessed. Being a Christian is about loving Him with our all and having the endurance and discipline to stick with our relationship with Him even when it’s not easy. Hebrews 12: 1-11 lays this out perfectly. In our relationship with Him, we have to have discipline so that we can gain endurance and righteousness. Having to face discipline is hard. Gaining endurance is hard. Being righteous is hard. Being a Christian is hard, but it’s well worth it. Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself leaving the honeymoon phase of your relationship with Christ. Remember, this is where the work happens. This is where you will grow and become more and more of who God wants you to be. Don’t give up and don’t turn back. The hard work of your marriage to Christ starts here, but the crown you will receive from it one day will be well worth it.