Guilt Doesn’t Come From God

I can get in the habit of being hard on myself. I feel guilty for sleeping in too long, for not volunteering enough, for not exercising, for being too critical, for thinking instead of doing, for a million other things. (Tell me I’m not the only one!!)

Turns out, that doesn’t really do much for me. I’ve never heard of a person who became successful, healthy, knowledgeable, disciplined, (fill in the blank!) by mentally beating themselves up. It’s tempting to focus on shortcomings because that’s the easy thing to do. It’s easy to become a victim of your flaws! When I focus on all the things I’m doing wrong, I settle into a mentality that puts my bad habits in a position of power. And that’s not how God wants me to live.

Guilt doesn’t come from God. I’ve heard over and over that God loves me. But my human understanding of worldly conditional love makes it difficult for me to really believe that God loves me no matter what. So here is my reminder to you (and me) about God’s love:

God loves you just as much on the days you don’t read your Bible as He does on the days you do. He loves you the same on the day you volunteer your whole morning, listen to 3 sermons and bake cookies for your lifegroup as He does on the day you literally do not leave your bed and ignore people’s texts and snap at your family. Or on the days you drink way more than you know you should.

Even on the day you made what you consider to be the biggest mistake of your life, He loved you the same. And He loves you even if you don’t believe in Him, hate Him, or want nothing to do with Him.

Don’t beat yourself up when you feel flawed. Don’t fall into the lie that God doesn’t love you as much. You are His child, He made you, He knows you better than you know yourself, and He loves you more than you can comprehend- every single day.

The Wedding Advice I Didn’t Need To Hear

A recurring theme in the wedding advice I received while planning my big day was something along the lines of, “Just be prepared for something to go wrong! It will still be wonderful, but know that something bad will probably happen!”

My dad actually said to me, “It might rain, or you might break your leg the day before! And if you had to walk down the aisle in a cast, that would just be a fun memory!”

………… 

…..A fun memory!?!?!!?!?!?!

HE ACTUALLY SAID THAT!!!!!!!! The fact that it was an attempt to comfort me makes it even more unbelievable!! Haha! 

He meant well, and so did everyone else who gave me similar advice preparing me to expect something traumatic on my wedding day. I’m all for realism, and I think it’s a good idea to be logical about it all, but nothing actually went wrong. 

I spent all this time wondering what thing was going to go wrong at my wedding, and it was wasted time- because nothing did. And even if something bad happened, there was no way for me to anticipate what it would actually be in advance. I know that not all people are fortunate enough to experience such a seamless wedding. But it got me thinking. Do we think about all of life this way?

 It’s like we sabotage our plans before we even put them into action. We let worry steal our joy before we even have anything to worry about. What if we stopped expecting the worst, and started expecting the best?

I know why I don’t think positively. It’s because I subconsciously protect myself from disappointment. I don’t want to get my hopes up only to be let down. I don’t want my pride to take a hit when others see that my confidence ended up being shot down. But that’s wrong. It’s wrong and it’s not worth it to think like that. I don’t want to live my whole life preparing for something to go awry. Yes, bad things happen, and when they happen we take it one day at a time. But good things happen too. And what’s even more awesome is that we can create good things in our lives. We can’t control everything that happens in life. But we sure can control our thoughts. We can choose to expect the best!! And more importantly, we can cover our hopes & dreams in prayer.

I’m working on this every day, and Devon really helps to be my accountability partner. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re just starting out chasing your dreams. But the Bible tells us that “death and life are in the power of the tongue”. So we know that what we speak- not necessarily out loud, but in our head- is so important. So I’m ready to replace “something will go wrong” with the knowledge that nothing has to go wrong, and the hope that things will go right. 

 

 

 

Building My Trust Muscle

 

HELLO, I AM BACK!!!!

I haven’t written a blog post in ~months~ and I figured I’d end my silence today. Not that everyone is waiting on bated breath for my blog posts, but still, I hate just dropping off the face of the earth like that. So here’s what happened me with me.

I got engaged and subsequently entered into a frenzy of wedding planning, which is basically like a full-time job on its own. But there’s something more than wedding-induced stress that’s kept me from writing.

I’ve fallen into a slump of unbelief. Lack of faith. I read my Bible every morning, I highlight all the important verses, I encourage myself as best as I can! But my heart still feels a little deflated. I feel discouraged from the lack of direction I have in my life about where Devon & I will live, where we will work, what we will do. I definitely thought that by now, I would have a better picture of the future- and by “the future”, I mean when we get married, which is LESS THAN THREE MONTHS AWAY! There are still a lot of unknowns leading up to our big day, and I’ve dissolved into a huge puddle of stress about it.

A year and a half ago, I spoke about the future with confidence. I thought, “God’s got me taken care of, He will work out my future!” But what happens when God doesn’t show up like I thought He would? Or should I clarify, when God doesn’t show up in my timing? (How demanding of me! *eye roll*) Because that’s me right now. I expected God to have done something a little more obvious by now.

“God, hello? Hey, it’s me! Yes, I am in fact still here waiting, and I am in fact still stressed out! So could you please go ahead and do what I want you to do? And could you possibly make that happen like right now? “

(Not that I’m actually praying in those words, but when I really think about it, that’s kind of what I’m saying.)

So can you guess what God’s saying back?

He’s saying a big, fat, NOPE!!!!!! Not yet!!!!

God has gone ahead and SHUT ME DOWN! He has put me in my place!!! He has humbled me and has been very clearly saying, “You are not the boss of me! I am doing things how I would like to do them, thank you very much! I am in fact aware that you’re still there and still stressed, and I am in fact waiting for you to realize that you don’t need to be and never will be in control! And that you have zero idea what you’re talking about anyways because I know what’s best for you and you don’t! And I think I’ll have you wait a little bit longer so you can learn a lesson! :)”

And so I’m just here, counting down the days until my wedding, and kind of laughing because God is being a very last minute kind of Guy and it’s stretching me past my little breaking point in the best way possible. (Also if you think I’m some sort of crazy person who is actually having a legitimate conversation out loud with God like this, I plan on writing another post about what hearing from God actually sounds like, so stay tuned for that).

I hope this hasn’t offended anyone, because I had fun writing this. Sometimes I make God out to be this stern & serious no fun kind of Guy. But that’s not true, and it helps me understand Him more if I can kind of translate things into my own language.

Right now I have a mustard seed of faith, (Luke 17:6) and that’s all the Bible says I need. “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). I know God is good, I know He is fighting for me, I know He has already won! I know He has written my story, I know He will ALWAYS take care of me, and I know He has blessed me far more than my often ungrateful heart will ever be able to comprehend. I know my mind is too small to grasp what He is doing, and so I’m just riding out these emotions and fears and building up my trust muscle.

And let me also be VERY clear in saying that I realize that my life is amazing. Like, I have absolutely no reason to complain. Absolutely none. I am engaged to literally the most amazing human being I have ever met on this planet, and just that alone is a gift more valuable to me than I will ever be able to quantify. I have an incredibly supportive family and awesome parents who take care of me and tons of friends who are always there for me. I have an endless list of things I’m grateful for. But in this one category of my life, I’m very overwhelmed- and that doesn’t negate any of the other blessings! I just wanted to share this one chapter of confusion, & be more transparent. Thank you for reading along!! I genuinely appreciate it.

 

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Satan Already Hates My Marriage

love, marriage, engagement advice, wedding planning, christian wedding planning, premarital counseling, marriage blogging, engagement blogging

   I’m barely engaged and Satan already hates my marriage. He hates that Devon and I have decided to join forces. He hates that we are going to make a powerful team, stronger together than we would be apart. He hates that we will see the worst in each other, but still love each other unconditionally. He hates every bit of it, and I have experienced the evidence of it.

   Devon proposed to me two weeks ago, but I’ve already felt moments where the pressure of wedding planning overtakes the joy of engagement. I’ve felt the enemy trying his very best to shoot arrows of anxiety at me about where the wedding will be, how much it will cost, or who we will invite. His goal is to distract me from the joy and purpose of our marriage and preoccupy me with the insignificant details of our wedding.

   I have a serious problem with the wedding industry right now. Fifty years ago, weddings were thrown together last minute, but marriages were built with endurance. Today, weddings are planned down to each petal in the bride’s bouquet- but it seems like marriages are thrown out when they aren’t easy anymore. And I feel like the way we treat weddings might have something to do with that.

Culture has it backwards. There are countless websites dedicated to wedding planning- The Knot. Wedding Wire. Brides.com. I’ve spent the past two weeks entrenched in wedding planning websites, and found that there are countless articles about finding the perfect nail polish color and the perfect bridesmaids dresses and the perfect consistency of icing on your wedding cake. But it’s all a huge wash! Because even the most picturesque wedding won’t keep your marriage strong. Why aren’t there any articles on these websites about how to prepare your heart for your actual marriage? You know, like, the part that lasts decades and comes after the ONE DAY of your wedding? Being in this generation of wedding obsession makes it really easy to get swept up in the hype of planning a magazine-worthy wedding. And I think it’s one way Satan has succeeded in distracting us from the core of what marriage is about.

There might not be much I can do about the way our culture has diluted the beauty of marriage. But I do have control over the way I view my own marriage and my own engagement season. I recognize that my wedding lasts one day, but my marriage will last my whole life!!! And I’m so excited for it!!! That’s why I will be putting more work into my future marriage than I do into the tiny details of my wedding. I will never stop putting work into my marriage, because all beautiful things require hard work.

You would never expect an oak tree to grow if you planted it on rocks and sand and never gave it water. On our wedding day, we will be planting the seed of our marriage. And we will be responsible for nurturing it and giving it what it needs to grow. So right now I’m focusing on the soil where that seed will soon go. I’m focusing on the dirt. It’s not polished and shiny like the wedding magazines portray. It looks more like prayer and honest conversations and instilling an undying determination to choose love even if you feel like digging up everything you worked to plant.

One day, I hope to write a book about wedding planning and never  mention color coordination, guest count, or flower centerpieces. I’ve been dreaming of my wedding day since I was a little girl, but now that I’m here, I realize it’s going to be even more beautiful than any of my dreams. And that has nothing to do with the decorations, and everything to do with the man who will stand across from me, the people who will stand with us, and the God who loves us enough to let us experience just a fraction of His love in each other.

love, marriage, engagement advice, wedding planning, christian wedding planning, premarital counseling, marriage blogging, engagement blogging

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12

 

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Matthew 19:4-6

Single & Stung

I definitely didn’t fit the mold of the typical girl at my college. You know how every college has a different flavor and culture? Well I didn’t really fit mine. I was too feisty, too loud, too unconventional, and too sassy. I think most of the guys at my school thought I was a freak!! And I definitely picked up on that. And I was definitely hurt by it.

I felt like something was wrong with me! When I was talking to guys, even just casually on campus, I felt like most of them were kind of off-put by me. Like I was just too much for them to deal with. And so I would put this pressure on myself to act a bit more tame, try to fit the mold, and just be more normal! Ha! But really. I was struggling. I felt like I had to prove my value to them, and it wasn’t a good feeling.

And then, I met Devon. On the very first day we met, I got dared to eat a sour gummy worm off of the floor of the bleachers and did so with absolutely no problem…real smooth. He for sure thought I was insane. But for the next several months, I continued to act like a COMPLETE fool in front of him when we hung out with all our friends. In my mind, he was off-limits because I thought my friend liked him. So I just acted like my crazy self! And you won’t believe this, but I later found out that he LIKED that I was different! Something was different about him from the other guys too, and it matched my kind of different perfectly. But first let me rewind.

One day after one too many encounters with guys who brought out this ugly insecurity in me, I sat down by myself on the grass and wrote out a little letter to myself. It was a letter of encouragement, but it was fueled by frustration. I was so done trying to convince others that I was worth loving. I was irritated with the way I would beat myself up for just being authentic, and this letter was my way of putting an end to that mindset of desperation. It listed expectations I had for myself, the future man I would marry. Here’s a little bit of it:

“I do not want to date a man unless I am truly and genuinely excited about him. I want to be able to go on and on about how amazing he is, and tell everyone who asks about him how incredible he is. I don’t want to have to say “but he smokes” or “but he’s not super intelligent” or “he’s not very Christian” or “he’s a little rough around the edges”. I don’t want to have to pick up his slack. I’m not expecting perfection, but I am expecting him to desire God as his first priority. I want to be on the same page as him, the same level, the same playing field. And yet while I expect this from someone else, am I worthy of the kind of man I am holding out hope for? Does the kind of man I want see all the qualities he hopes for his future wife reflected in me? Am I matching up to what I’m demanding?

The point of marriage is to make me a better woman in the eyes God. The man I’m waiting for will challenge me and grow me, he will coax my dreams out of my hesitant heart and encourage me to make them a reality. I won’t settle for a man who is after anything other than becoming one with God. I won’t settle for a man who I have to make excuses for. And he also won’t let me make excuses for myself. The point of marriage is not just to make me feel good about myself or to become unhealthily infatuated with. The point of this relationship is not just to have someone to waste time with when I’m bored. There is a bigger picture, a bigger reason for this union, and that reason is to draw us closer to God. I will push him, and he will push me. Together we will become better. We will bring out the best in each other. We will remind each other of our mission. We will wake up each morning and pull each other along.

It’s important that I’m ready for this. Or is it? Will I ever be ready? I don’t think that I will ever be prepared or equipped to handle a marriage. Apparently nobody is ever ready until they do it. While I might not be ready, I will be willing to keep trying. Relationships are exhausting. Relationships require us to choose each other every single day. But trials will only strengthen our relationship. We will become too strong to break-nothing will tear us apart. There will be ups, and there will be downs. But I will trust this man with my entire life. I will know he is capable of protecting me and our family. I know he will be willing to lay his own life down for mine and for our children. I know this man is made of strength and humility. I know that he wants a deep love with me and I know that he wants to please God. I speak about this man with confidence, because I am speaking the things into my life that I want to see. God honors bold prayers and specific desires, and I am confident in the man he will unite me with.”

Little did I know that when I wrote this, I had already met the man I plan to spend the rest of my life with!! He was less than a mile from me at that very moment, and in less than 6 months after writing this, we were dating. I wrote this with the determination to wait for God to paint my love story in vivid color instead of trying to scribble my own with a broken pencil. And I can say with such incredible joy that God answered my prayer ten times over and blesses me so immensely through Devon every day!!

So if you’re single on Valentines Day and sad about it, I get it. And I’m sorry, because I’ve been there too. But my advice is to tell God what you want. He already knows, but still tell Him so you can remind yourself. Speak boldly over your future and wait with determination. Ask for patience and practice being thankful no matter the circumstance. I know it can be so lonely, but God has infinitely more love to give you in your loneliness than than the wrong man ever will in his embrace.