please come join me at my new site…
please come join me at my new site…
My story is not unlike many other Jesus-loving women’s stories; I found my self worth in something other than God: men. Sure, I knew God loved me. Sure, I loved Him back. But I couldn’t hold God’s hand or feel God’s touch. So I abandoned Him for a season in my life. I didn’t live like I was wed first and foremost to a loving God who made me beautiful. I lived like a frivolous woman who had not committed herself to anyone. I lived like a prostitute.
Last night in our Bible study, we read Ezekiel 16. Ezekiel was a prophet who had been given a word from the Lord to be given to Jerusalem. In this allegory, Ezekiel depicts Jerusalem as God’s chosen wife, to whom He has given love, beauty, adoration, and protection.
“…’so you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect.’”
[vs. 13 – 14]
In return, Jerusalem betrayed God, her husband. And Ezekiel describes Jerusalem as an adulterous wife who is acting like a prostitute.
It felt like a letter directly from God. Sometimes God whispers to me, sometimes he gently nudges. Last night he screamed.
“…’but you trusted in your beauty and your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by, and your beauty became his. You took the fine jewelry I gave you, the jewelry made of my gold and silver, and you made for yourself male idols and engaged in prostitution with them. And you took your embroidered clothes to put on them, and you offered my oil and incense before them. Also the food I provided for you – the fine flour, olive oil and honey I gave you to eat – you offered as fragrant incense before them. That is what happened,’ declared the Lord.”
[vs 15 – 19]
When I trusted in my beauty, I felt empty. When I gave my love, my heart, my body away to anyone who passed by, I acted like a prostitute.
I took God’s best and threw it at the feet of men who never appreciated me anyways. Men who probably don’t waste any thoughts on me at all.
It emptied me.
My soul was created to love and serve my God first and foremost. When I don’t live like that, I break his heart.
When I put anything in front of God, I treat him like second best; like he isn’t my first commitment, my first love.
I have been blessed with a second chance – the type of second chance that never runs out. I have been blessed out of the overflow of God’s love for me, a woman who trusted in anything except her Creator. A woman who put beauty, acceptance, and fame before the fullness of God’s adoration for my heart.
A woman who lived like a prostitute.
originally published on the well written women.
I get a lot of emails from women who ask me my personal stance on dating relationships; when they are appropriate, how to decide if you’re ready, when to know it’s time to leave one. These women are all across the board on the subject: some have dated for years, some have never dated anyone. Some are very picky about who they date, some only require that the men posses the Y chromosome and a set of car keys. Some think it’s boring, and some treat Date Numero Uno as grounds for the marriage talk. #desperate
I started dating – if you can even call it that – at 15. It was more like holding hands and publicly admitting that we liked each other. I think dating should require dates, and we didn’t have very many of those. #burn
So we dated for a few years, blah blah blah, he broke my heart, angst angst angst, it took me awhile to get over it, blah blah blah. Then I dated some more, and some were fun and some were kind of jerks. Then I stopped dating for a long time. And currently I have a super great boyfriend. So I now I have an opinion on dating.
So here is my completely biased, 100% unscientific, based-on-a-true-story opinion about dating:
Dating should be taught. My parents never really had a dating policy for me. Or if they did, I conveniently do not remember it. When I was 15 I liked a boy who was not allowed to have a girlfriend until he was 16 and I was crushed. There were also girls in my friend group who could not date boys until they turned 18.
I did not have these rules. I was grateful for the freedom, because I was incredibly charming and good looking when I was a teenager, and it would have been exhausting beating off all of those boys with a stick. #waitnothatsnottrue
I don’t know if it should necessarily be rules like that, because I think that’s a little much. But I do think there should be an important conversation that happens at some point. It should be honest, open, and have some time for Q & A. It should be a parent’s clear explanation of what it takes to be a boyfriend or a girlfriend. It should include information on what this type of commitment can do to one’s heart. It should absolutely not include any anecdotal stories with Mom and Dad as the examples. No child needs those visuals.
Dating, at any age, awakens emotions that are not yet known. This is true no matter if you are 15 or 34. All of the sudden you are calling someone for hourly check-ins, using words like “babe” or “sweet thang”, and simultaneously baking cookies, watching The Notebook and listening to love songs. #oristhisjustme?
It comes out of nowhere, but at some point between “who’s that guy?” and “happy one month-a-versary!” you enter into an uncharted land called Emotion. And it is a jungle. Your heart gets racy, your palms get sweaty, and your mind gets cluttered with daydreams. It’s hard to sleep, drink, or sit without thinking about love. You have Skype sessions from 45 minutes away (#guilty) and text each other while in the same room (#invtentedthistrick). You kind of turn into a basketcase.
Most importantly, and more seriously, you begin to tap into a part of your brain that experiences pleasure. There really aren’t enough words in English to describe human love. It is so pleasurable that it actually hurts. And truthfully, the good parts of love come with many consequences. Being in a committed relationship really evokes the desire to put someone else before everything else in your life, and this can be dangerous if it happens too early in life. Anyone entering into a loving relationship should be prepared.
(Let the record show that I realize no one can be fully prepared to handle being in a relationship. I also realize that not everyone handles relationships as dramatically as The Basketcase Formerly Known As Rachel.)
Being too hurt, too damaged, too scarred, too afraid, too ___________, to date is a horrible way to live. I think we can all agree that fear shouldn’t be the cruise director for anyone’s life. To operate on fear alone is about as smart as building a house on top of a termite colony; it’s only a matter of time before it completely falls down.
Don’t get me wrong; I support the idea of needing someone to prove themself worthy of being let into your heart. There’s something to be said about finding a man to prove that the other ones were crazy to say goodbye to you. But this is taken a little too far a little too often. We’ve all seen Twilight; there is no need to be closed off just for the sake of being dramatically difficult. There’s also no need to make So. Many. Freaking. Vampire. Movies. #whydoeshekeeptakinghisshirtoff
It is important to have standards. When I was 12, the leader of my girl’s group asked us all to make a “shopping list” for our future boyfriends. She told us to never date anyone if they did not possess all of these qualities. I wrote things down like “blue eyes” and “a love for Mexican food.”
I think this exercise is crap.
Of course you are going to be attracted to someone with similar interests as you, but a common love for chicken enchiladas does not a relationship make. Relationships take hard work and compromise based on common values and goals.
Maybe he will hate chicken enchiladas. But he will learn the beautiful art of sacrifice so that he can please his lady.
Maybe she will never understand the ins and outs of baseball, but she will still watch every game because she knows he loves to teach her. #isithalftimeyet?
No one gets to determine your expectations from a relationship except you. I don’t know how so many millions of people have sold books or TV shows all about love and relationships, when they all say the same thing: “Talk it out, learn from it, put the toilet seat down, and don’t let anyone else tell you what you need out of your relationship.” Only you can prevent forest fires, and only you can know what it is you need out of a significant other. Don’t let Dr. Phil or Us Weekly tell you who to date or what to expect from a spouse. Discover these things on your own. Learn what you need and be confident of that.
Don’t date just to date. If you meet someone and they intrigue you, go out with them. Explore the possibility. I think it’s worth it to at least try. But don’t live your life desperate for a significant other because you are already “significant” without an “other.” If you make a shopping list and set out to force love into your life, chances are you will end up elbow deep in a bag of Doritos while you rewind the “You complete me” scene from Jerry Maguire. #ithappensmorethanyouknow
Let love find you. I promise it’s better that way.
If you liked my original Twitter hashtags or my dating rambles and want more of that, please follow me!
Now that I’m a bachelors-degree-owning, student-loan-paying 20-something, conversations are different. During the four years of college, conversations almost always had questions like:
“What’s your major?”
“What do you want to do with that?”
“What year are you?”
These were my “definitions”; the things I was known by. I was a Junior International Studies major who planned on saving the world, or something. Then I put on a funny hat, walked across a stage, and gained the rights to a whole different type of conversation:
“What do you do?”
It makes me feel so cool, so Hollywood. I now look like I belong somewhere in the world, like I do something substantial with my life. And while I feel like I am, indeed, doing something substantial with my life, I always hesitate to answer this question to anyone who isn’t familiar with the Higher Education world. When people ask what I do, I always feel awkward.
“I’m a hall director.”
“Oh and what does that mean?”
I sometimes wish I could say:
“I’m too busy for my own good, I spend hour after hour planning and working for the betterment of 750 snotty-nosed, ungrateful, naïve 18 year olds, who vandalize ping pong tables, disrespect my staff members, and smoke pot in their dorm rooms. I plan programs that cost a lot of money so that the students will have something fun to go to in order to gain friends and feel connected in this big world of a school. I attend back-to-back meetings that enlarge both my to-do list and the ulcer in my stomach. I then answer phone calls of angry parents who don’t understand why I don’t treat their son or daughter as the most important child in my dorm of 750.”
Since I can’t say that, I usually say:
“I oversee all of the resident assistants, manage the resident programs, direct the maintenance of the building, and oversee all of the administrative duties of discipline and student conduct for a dorm.”
Once I get a confused look, I usually go with:
“I’m kind of like a dorm mom. With attitude.
I’m not sure I like the sound of that, but it’s the best I can come up with. People don’t usually ask much more after I say it. They think they have me figured out.
You see, the building I work (and live!) in is home to 750 college freshmen. But they are not ordinary college freshmen; they are all a part of our lower socio-economic standing group of students. They have qualified for a certain level of financial aid that gets them an almost-free-ride to a four-year leading university. Their background gets them a chance at something that 80% of their parents didn’t get: a college degree.
They are poor kids. Not by choice; none of them picked their circumstance. They overcame a huge financial hardship to get here. But that’s not how I know them.
They are smart kids; the GPA requirement all throughout college ensures that. But that is not how I know them either.
They are rowdy kids; always pushing the limits and yelling loudly. But that’s not how I know them either.
The students in my building are some of the most resilient human beings alive. They are the creative adults, the children who survived unbelievable situations. It’s bone-chilling to hear their stories.
I have sat across the table from Michelle, who was sexually molested by her own father for the first 17 years of her life. When she finally found the courage to tell someone, her parents filed for a divorce. Her mother blames her for this divorce, and has told Michelle several times that the sexual activity was the result of Michele’s own seductive behavior. Michelle has scars up and down her arms of the times she placed blade to skin, in order to relieve the stress and release the pain.
I have held Aprilynn’s hand as she told me that her parents have been out of the picture since she was 4; her dad is in jail for drugs, and her mom wants nothing to do with her. Her adoptive parents have now turned on her, disowned her, and have taken everything material she has ever known. She is completely cut off from all the family she has known. She told me that she doesn’t cry, because no one else is crying for her. That night I sobbed into my pillow for this sweet girl.
I have had the unfortunate conversation with Courtnee, in which I informed her that since she had drugs in her room, she was being kicked out of housing. Since she was being kicked out of housing, she was also being kicked out of the financial aid program, which would in turn cause her to leave school, since she was unable to pay for it in the first place. Within the first month of college, she blew her chance at a degree. When she asked me what she was supposed to do about her 2-year-old son back home, I almost wept.
Every day, I hear a new story of unbelievable pain.
And every day, I bleed a little more for the students that surround me.
They inspire me to live my story, to tell my story, and to invest in my story.
They drive me to see the world in a new way; in a way that reminds me I am alive.
They make me better, every single day.
So yes, I sit through meetings, and I plunge toilets, and I buy chips and salsa for events. I talk to parents who hate me, sit with students who don’t see me as an authority figure, and spend far too many hours clocked in each week
But every day I listen to the stories of hurting people.
And I get to tell them about hope.
I’m not a hall director. I’m a hope director; I am just one person who strives to direct people to the place of hope.
And I kind of like the sound of that.
Thanks to @tamaraoutloud for the incredible post, and for the chance for all of us to reflect together. visit her blog to read the powerful stories of women (and men!) who have learned the worth of a girl.
may our stories echo into each other’s hearts in ways that glorify the only One worthy of our every moment.
There’s a story about a man who goes to a church service where the pastor is trying to give a visual demonstration of what sexual immorality can do to a person. This pastor has a freshly picked rose on the stage with him and shows the congregation how beautiful and spotless and valuable the rose is, untainted by anything.
He then passes the rose around to everyone, that they might feel it and hold it and touch it. Once the rose has made its way through the fingers and hands of several people, it returns to the pastor’s hands and he holds up the now wilted, bruised, tarnished rose and he screams, “Who would want this rose now? Who would ever want this worthless rose?”
Unfortunately I believed the popular lie that my complete identity was wrapped up inside the choices I made. I believed that my worth was determined by my past; and I lived in a way that reflected regret and remorse.
I felt like I didn’t deserve good. I felt worthless. The price tag for my soul was a shredded up piece of cloth; I was used up, second hand, and something to be tossed aside. What I had willingly done with my heart left me as dry as a breath of wind.
Thankfully, Grace has different prices of worth.
Thankfully, God measures me differently than I do. And His measuring system no longer sees what I have done.
Thankfully, Christ – Someone of ultimate worth and value – came to pay my debt, before I even made the mistake of walking in disobedience.
My value is not decided by my messy history.
My worth is not contingent upon how many times I have said sorry.
My cost is not compromised based on the amount of blood I spill at the foot of my own cross.
The fact that God sees me as faultless, blameless, and pure in light of Jesus is what determines my worth.
The man in the story feels heat behind his face as the pastor poses these questions. The man is so enraged at the pastor’s obvious blindness that he stands and yells to the pastor at the top of his lungs, “Jesus does! Jesus wants the rose! That’s the point of the Gospel!”
God has priced me with a worth unimaginable.
God has picked me to be set a part, holy, and consecrated to His own heart.
God has chosen me, a worn out rose, as His beloved bride.
A girl is worth the chance to believe that, and to live like she is desperate for it.
This week’s post on Well Written Woman. Check them out!
1) When You Graduate College, You Will Still Live Near All Your Friends Forever. Um, nope. This was the biggest lie of all. I’m not usually a pompous person, but please let the record show I had a lot of friends in college. Like, a lot. And then I graduated and POOF! There went all of my friends. All of the sudden I am living in an apartment without roommates, and I don’t have a whole army of people to run errands with, or spend money on drinks with. It’s creepy to live alone because I get scared by the weird sounds that a dishwasher makes and I have full conversations with myself that have beginnings, middles, ends, and a time for Q & A.
2) Recycle Your Friend’s Exes. I am pretty sure everyone dated just about everyone else on the show. And no matter how messy the break up or fall out, all six characters were back on that couch in Central Perk at the beginning of the next episode. This does not happen in real life. Whether you follow the Bro Code or the Chicks Before You-Know-Whats, you know that it is against the laws of friendship to date a friend’s ex-significant-other. It almost always ends with a slap on someone’s face. Break ups are awkward and weird and a close friend seeking out your ex romantically only compounds that awkward weirdness. There are 300 million people in America; can we all just agree to leave our friend’s exes alone?
3) When You Don’t Have A Roommate, Live With Your Ex. So Rachel had a baby during season eight. After much debate, it surfaces that the baby is Ross’. A few more episodes and a confusing wedding proposal from Joey later, Rachel and Ross end up living together. As roommates. Who aren’t romantically involved. But have a baby. And this is normal. What? It’s hard enough to survive a break up with someone who lives in the same universe as you. Everything reminds you of this person and you awkwardly bring that up in conversation, like, “How pretty is the sky right now? ::sigh:: My ex loved the sky.” And everyone gives you pity laughs while shooting each other looks that say, oh em gee, is she okay? And you are sure you could fill the void in your heart with cement and still feel completely empty. But not Ross and Rachel. They can live in the same 650 square feet every day and simply ignore the aches and pains and awkward feelings. How grown up of them, we think. How mature of them, we say. And then we don’t handle things that well, and think there is something wrong with us.
4) “The Rachel” Haircut Will Make You Look Like Jennifer Anniston. We all saw how quickly Jennifer Anniston blew up. She is kind of the hottest thing that has ever happened to entertainment. She might be unable to age; only time will tell. But even if her looks do fade, we will all remember the early 90s when she was an icon of beauty, style, and sex appeal. Women wanted to be her so badly, they tried to copy everything about her, even her haircut. It was so hot, it was named after the fictional character she played on TV. That is trend at it’s finest. And it is a perfect example of why we try and copy celebrities; it’s why they share their skin care secrets and their diet tricks. We want to look exactly like them. Clearly I never experienced this personally, because I was much too confident in my own good looks and charm. But I heard of girls who, say, would tear out pages from magazines of Jennifer Anniston’s “Rachel” bob haircut, and would take them into their hairstylist and say “MAKE ME LOOK LIKE THIS.” And sometimes I heard that maybe that evening would end in tears, ice cream, and marathon episodes of season five, asking out loud, “Why didn’t mine come out like that? How does she do it? What does it all mean?” Like I said, no firsthand experience here. But I heard that once, from someone, somewhere. Poor thing.
5) You Can Trust Men Who Use Pick-Up Lines. Joey’s classic “HOW YOU DOIN’?” became a household phrase pretty early on. And while the root of it all was that he was simply trying to add another notch to his bedpost, it was just so endearing to hear him say it. And Joey himself was incredibly endearing. So who wouldn’t want to end up with someone like Joey, who uses silly pick-up lines as a way to start a conversation with a lady? All of a sudden there were hundreds of Joeys, using this tactic. And all of the women were wearing Joey-goggles, blinded by the hope that the man behind the pick up line was a sweet-natured, fun-loving guy. But we all find out sooner or later; men who use pick-up lines are not to be trusted, not even ones as simple minded as Joey.