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God Didn’t End Your Relationship

Photo Credit: Catherine Straume, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Catherine Straume, Creative Commons

Have you ever been in a situation where you were approached by your significant other and solemnly told: “After praying, I feel God is telling me that we’re not meant to be together anymore. Sorry.”

Perhaps you have, or maybe you were the one using this line. As for myself, I have been on both ends. And now that I think about the situation more critically, I realize that God didn’t end my or your relationship.

He did. She did. You did. God didn’t. But God is a great one to blame it on, huh?

Here’s the truth behind using God as the motive for breaking up—when God is the reason, the blame is removed from the “relationship ender” and put on God instead. This creates two false situations:

  1. the relationship ender feels like they get out of the emotional baggage freely because it was God who ended it, not them, and
  2. the broken hearted individual on the other side now blames or second guesses God for his/her relationship ending.

In scenario one—yes, it is your idea and you should be held accountable for your decisions, not pawn them off on someone else. But really, did God directly speak to you like he did to Moses? I’m not saying God doesn’t speak like that today, but I do know from experience that we like to think God is telling us to “end it” but really it is just ourselves wanting it and looking for an easy back door escape route. Don’t use God as an excuse. There may be legitimate instances where the relationship is truly sinister, and God speaks to you in some form to get you out, but I’m not referencing those. I’m addressing the Christian relationship go-to break-up policy, “I think God wants us to break up.”

I remember telling a couple girls that it just wasn’t going to work out because God didn’t want us together. Unfortunately, this wasn’t true at all—I just didn’t want us together anymore and it was easy to use God as the excuse so I sounded “Christian” and didn’t have to take full responsibility for the pain the girl would endure, because it wasn’t me who did it—it was God.

That’s where scenario two comes in. When blame is put on God for a breakup, the affected individual takes their anger and frustrations out on him. “It is God’s fault! Why would he do this to me? Why doesn’t God want us together? I hate God for taking him/her away from me!” These accusations are common cries following the usage of God as the reason for breaking up, and they are all misguided because God is not the real reason the relationship ended. This mislabeling of blame hurts and damages the affected person’s relationship with God for a long time. It may take years to realize that it wasn’t God who ended it, and then years to rebuild or find a true faith in God again. Think wisely, do you want to put someone in this position?

Let me encourage those of you who have misused God as a reason for breaking up in the past to reconcile the mistake you have made, because you are forcing someone to struggle with loving an all-loving God. That contradiction should never exist. It took me a long time, but I have asked for forgiveness from the women I burned with the “God excuse.” I had to swallow my pride and be ready to take what ridicule may come—not an easy task. Nonetheless, the two women showed grace towards me but not before reminding me of the struggles I caused in their life because of my misuse of God in the break-up. One girl related how for years she felt like she wasn’t Christian enough, never good enough for Jesus or any other solid Christian guy. So she settled for less, and that hurt her even more. That was a direct consequence of my stupid decision to use God as the excuse to end my relationship. Understanding how my choice affected her life is still not easy for me to handle today. How reckless I was with such a precious situation—thank the Lord for grace, but shame on me.

As Christians we may also feel that we shouldn’t be in a relationship because it isn’t God honoring, but that doesn’t mean it is God telling us to break up. Honestly, it means that we just shouldn’t be in it because it’s not good for us or them. You don’t need to use God as the reason for that. Dig deeper, understand yourself and your situation, and use those reasons to explain the ending of your relationship. And remember, whether in either scenario, God didn’t end your relationship.

If you’ve used, are thinking about using, or in the process of Scenario 1:

“In the same way, let your light shine before men/women, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (because of you).”

Matthew 5:16

“All a man/woman’s ways seem right to him/her, but the Lord weighs the heart.

Proverbs 21:2

“A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

Proverbs 26:28

If you’re in or have been in Scenario 2:

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father fees them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

Matthew 6:26, 34

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6

 

How to Turn Strangers into Friends in 5 Minutes

I’ve traveled throughout the world and captured lots of pictures of cathedrals, rocks, and pretty flowers—but when I look at them now, they’re meaningless. What I did discover while perusing my photos is how much I remembered about the pictures I took with friends in them. I can recollect the situation, the emotion, the exact details of what was around us. So, I made a vow to myself for all future travels—no more pictures of mighty castles or fun food or anything else enticing unless someone else was in the picture with me, even if it’s a complete stranger.

This new outlook led me to do something whimsical—meet complete strangers and get to know their life story within five minutes. I call it my HeartStir Photo Collection because in the midst of every picture we took, hearts were being stirred in complete strangers to piece together their identity and purpose in this world. And I got to capture this amazing discovery in a photo.

Once I explained the project I was working on, I’d ask two questions to the stranger. The first was:

What one emotion or definition would you give to how you have felt for the past year?

The strangers would give a dazed look, some would choke back real answers wondering if they should tell the truth, but this was a great chance to share with them my own word for my past year: Depressed. In my vulnerability, these strangers would begin to pour out answers like: trapped, bored, anxious, beaten down.

I’d then ask my second question:

What about now in the moment, what emotion do you feel?

Immediate answers would fling out of their mouths: happy, free, euphoria. Then the hearts would begin to stir and we’d share our lives, our stories, our travels. All in the matter of five minutes we went from being strangers to friends.

Near the end of the conversation I’d gather some biographical data—where they were from, their age and occupation—and I’d ask one final question:

If you could define yourself in one sentence, what would you say?

It surprised me that the faces became confused once again, and my friends stammered to complete a thought. No one that I met had an answer right away, simply because no one had ever thought about it. In fact, I was beginning to learn that no one really had taken much time to know themselves at all over the past year.

Here are the pictures of my friends and I in moments and places that I will never forget.

 

I learned 3 things from watching hearts stir strangers into friends, and the lessons are essential for all of us to ponder:

“Hello” Makes a Friend

It’s that easy—just say hello. In meeting all these strangers, all I had to do was say hello, a conversation started, and I walked away with a new friend. During this trip to Scandinavia I was clueless to the language but lucky most nationals spoke English. Even so, I had to ask for lots of help along the way and it all started with a “hello.” It’s amazing to me how often we let the person next to us on a plane or bus, the waiter serving us or the girl begging for money, enter and exit our lives without saying “hello.” It’s not hard and it’s almost the same in every language, and yet this universal introductory scares us.

Think of yourself; you’d talk to someone if someone talked to you (unless you’re an extreme introvert). And don’t let it just stay at “hello,” ask about their job, where they live, what they like to do. Slowly a stranger will become a friend.

Flee Your Routine:

The searching faces that appeared after question number one were hard to watch. Almost everyone had a rough year (including me). As stories unfolded, the negative connotations from the year came from the grind of a job or a broken relationship. These two themes dominated everyone’s life and it helped me realize that’s what life is all about—possessing passion in a career and finding purpose in relationships. We all want that but it can take a lifetime to find if we keep doing what we’ve always done.

Within the routine and the melancholy emotions that hover around it, my friends noted how they had so many positive vibes now that they were traveling. Solving the monotony of life was simple—flee your routine. Take a weekend trip, go dancing for a night, get out of your home, go play bingo with the geriatrics—anything can break a routine and let loose positive vibes if you just leave the comfort of your routine.

It seems so simple to break a routine, yet the average American doesn’t use all of their paid time off each year. We choose to stay in the routine—the habit of Netflix nights, gaming nights, extra work and second job nights—we must flee the routine to experience different and better emotions.

Know Yourself

By experiencing different emotions through leaving your routine or comfort zone, you begin to learn more about yourself. I realized when asking question number three that no one had an answer because no one took time to know themselves. When a routine rules us, when we constantly do the same things week in and week out, the cycle of life slowly lulls us to sleep and we lose consciousness of ourselves. This is often why we have outbursts of anger or sadness or binges of addicting vices—we aren’t taking time to know ourselves.

Traveling naturally does that—you feel emotions you haven’t had, you do things you normally don’t do, and you find new life—all because you broke out of your routine. Even so, whether in a routine or while traveling, we must take time to know who we are. What makes you passionate? What gives you energy and what drains it? What do you love most in life? Why have you felt the emotions that you’ve been feeling? What matters to you? How would you describe yourself to someone in one sentence?

We can’t let our routine lives give us negative vibes AND mask our identity. In order to truly live free—without burdens or fears—we must know who we are. It’s worth investing time in it, because well, you’re stuck with you forever. Once you know you, life will be dazzling rather than dull.

How will you stir your heart or the heart of others? It could be as easy as a “hello” or as fun as a 24 hour road trip. Don’t let life control you, take control of your life.

I’m Bringing Sexy Back

Photo Credit: Eric Joe, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Eric Joe, Creative Commons

As a teacher, I’m around teenagers more than what’s good for the soul and run into awkward moments of “sexiness” too often. They splatter into my life through wanton paper notes dropped on the floor, Snapchat screenshots sent to the wrong crowd and blabbing mouths labeling anything visually attractive as “sexy.”

Every time I collide with these uncomfortable moments, I want to take sexy back from their twisted minds and place it where it should be—in their hearts.

But, we do it too, don’t we? We slap “sexy” on things that are, well, really not sexy at all. We’ve allowed sexy to become what we think we see, rather than the essence of how we feel.

For example, ladies often see washboard abs, a clenched jawline, or butts in tight jeans and say, “Mmm…he’s sexy.” Or, it springs from something a guy does; the way he strums a guitar, glides down the street or pounds a hammer as sweat glistens along the ridges of his muscles. It’s sexy.

Guys are no better—their definition of sexy is even more misplaced with what their eyes see and anything but what their heart feels.

What if we found a way for sexy to be meaningfully attractive rather than explicitly distracting?

Sexy isn’t how you look or the things you do. It isn’t a feeling you get when your jaw-drops and eyes roll back. Sexy isn’t when someone wants to know every inch of your body. That’s what the world has made it out to be—sexy involves sex appeal.

Sexy is a pure attraction of the heart that can’t be captured by a quick look. As young Christians, we’re supposed to set an example in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12). But our hearts aren’t pure and our life is blurry when we are looking through eyes that reroute sexiness to other parts of our body.

Sexy is…

Unclothing someone’s heart instead of their body

Loving on all the people in this world rather than hitting on the sexually appealing ones

Flaunting your flaws instead instead of revealing your body

Sexy is…

Not the way he plays guitar, but how his heart moves in harmony with something he’s passionate about

Having pure intentions guided by a pure heart

Seeing Jesus in someone before noticing their sin

You see, sex isn’t a bad thing—God designed us to be fruitful and multiply. But sexy in today’s world holds hidden powers of lust and deceit, allowing us to think we can look or get with no harm done. It’s a lie we fall into, it’s a sin we don’t recognize, it’s a problem (we enjoy??) we’d rather not fix.

By bringing sexy back from its dirty connotation, we can move it forward into something that matters. Move it towards not what we see, but what our heart feels–because when we live life connecting hearts rather than bodies, people change for the better. And that’s sexy.

                           

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