celibacy

Celibacy: Two Things To Keep In Mind While Waiting

I recently started to share my journey with celibacy. Back in 2012 when I rededicated my life to Christ, I made the decision then that I wanted to remain celibate until marriage. Of course, my newfound sisters in Christ were happy for me because they were in the same boat. But when I told my longtime friends, they were confused. Instead of praising me, they questioned me. They asked, “Why are you doing that?” “How are you going to abstain?” “What if you never get married?” All questions I never thought of and never had to answer.  All questions that were difficult for me to answer at the time. So after that, I decided not to tell anyone about me being celibate. I remained quite. If it’s not out there, no one will know and I won’t have to explain myself. No harm done right? Wrong!

In 2013, I got in a relationship with Joe and if you’ve read my previous post, you know what happened. I fell. I never told him so he didn’t know. Then when I told him I wanted to be celibate again, he didn’t believe me because I kept falling. “Flee from temptation.” 1 Corinthians 6:18. Instead of fleeing I stood around thinking I could handle my feelings. I thought since I was now going to church and reading the bible, I was stronger than my flesh. The Bible says, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” Galatians 5:17.

Sex and lust were two things I struggled with greatly and being in a relationship with a man that wasn’t a believer in God did not help. When I finally had enough courage to break things off with him and walk in my purpose, the decision to be celibate and remain celibate became a reality.

Celibacy

Now, I am not afraid to share my testimony with believers and nonbelievers. Believers are usually happy for me and understand I am doing this because I respect God with my body. Nonbeliever’s reactions vary. I still get the same confused looks, but surprisingly I receive admiration from non-believers as well. They call me a “strong woman” or “strong-willed.” I recently spoke to a girl who is an atheist. She was so amazed at my testimony of celibacy. She said I was awesome and told me she admired my stance of abstinence. Then I realized she considered my testimony not a resemblance of God or my Christian faith but a symbol of feminism. I explained to her that it was solely for my faith and knowing God’s purpose for me. My explanation didn’t sink in because in her mind it was a feminist act. This made me think: how many other people think of celibacy is a feminist movement rather than God’s word? Well, I found out a lot of people think this way. From TV shows to reality shows and social media. Celibacy is a resemblance of a strong woman rather than a kingdom movement.

This kind of thinking can be confusing and make people believe celibacy is an independent act and you can abstain on your own- meaning without God. This is absolutely false and you need God to get you through this season.

Here are two things I learned while remaining celibate:

1. Guard your heart! Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

 We must guard our hearts at all times. If you’re trying to abstain, you have to watch what you’re feeding your spirit. One example is music. Don’t listen to baby making music if you’re not making a baby. I love R&B music. So it was a hard to let it go. I went without it for months. Because at the beginning of my walk with Christ, I still struggled. Now I can listen to it here and there but I know if it takes me to that place I have to turn it off. Next example: TV shows and movies. I used to watch shows that portrayed adultery, lust and fornication. I thought it was just harmless entertainment. The plot was intense and engaging. I would justify the show or movie by telling myself that it’s ok to watch because everyone else is watching it. Well that planted bad seeds and soon I had to turn that off too.

This is not to say you can’t listen to music or watch TV. I’m just saying be aware of what you are watching and listening to. If the entertainment is not bearing fruit — then it’s not of God, which can hinder your walk in celibacy.

2.) Flee from Temptation! “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18 

At the beginning of my walk, I thought I was Wonder Woman. I didn’t think I needed to flee from sexual sin. Before I would have remained silent about my faith until the guy came over. Then I would have tried to fight my flesh and my feelings, thinking that I could handle it on my own. The Bible also says:

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”  1 Corinthians 10:13

 There are many opportunities for a way out. It can be just as simple as- staying away from the person that tempts you.

An example: Last month, a guy texted me from my Before Christ (BC) days. He said he wanted to come over and watch a movie. At first I thought – Sure. It’ll be cool to watch a movie and have some male attention. Then God convicted me and discernment kicked in! Immediately, I knew, he didn’t want me; he wanted my body. So to confirm this revelation, I asked the guy “What are your intentions?” He boldly and nonchalantly texted me exactly what he wanted to do. (Hint: It wasn’t just to chill and watch a movie.) My first reaction was to send him an angry text message telling him off. But I didn’t. I sat in my living room with my phone in my hand and I began to pray. I asked God for the words to put in my response. I responded something like this:

“I appreciate your honesty. I assumed that was your intention… I don’t do movie nights… I’m saved now so I don’t invite guys over to my house to chill. When I see you around we can catch up…”

 Once I let him know, he respected that.

I’ve come a long way. I had to learn these lessons over time. I hope my testimony and my celibacy journey will encourage you all. Walk in purpose, know God’s truth and continue to Strive for God’s Excellence.

By Patrice McKenzie
patrice@areyoushe.com

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Worth The Wait: Lay Your Life Down

Believing you’re worth the wait is one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. That’s because against all hope, you have to trust in the One who’s working all things out for you.

I remember one of my hardest days of my life came while I was working as a hostess at Continental Midtown in Center City Philly, doing my best to keep my dreams alive and make ends meet. When no job prospects seemed to be in sight, I told God one day I was willing to work there if that’s the will He had for my life. Saying that wasn’t easy and it nearly broke my heart because I was in such desperate need of a fresh new start.

Waiting to have sex and trusting God to reveal the “one” feels the same way. You can’t believe you’re worth the wait if you’re not willing to bow down and listen to what God has to say. I know those aren’t the words you wanted to hear but I’m not here to discourage you, just give you the truth, my dear.

I learned this principle from one of the most beautiful and Christ-centered couples I know. Cece is Jamaican and Pratek is Indian. Despite their cultural differences on the outside, what knits them together is Christ on the inside. I first met Pratek while I was taking a class my sophomore year at Temple called Intellectual Heritage. Pretty much, we had a lot of discussions about life and philosophy. I don’t remember much about the material or what we covered, but I do remember how a cancelled class led to a coincidence that got me closer to my destiny.

While a bunch of us from my class were chillin’ and hanging out at The Sac or student center, Pratek started talking about Jesus and then invited me to his church Epiphany. He told me how it was on campus, right down the street on 17th and Diamond. I thought it was pretty cool a Christian Indian guy with a Jamaican girlfriend invited me to my church so I decided to go.

After the first time I went, I never went back to the first church I joined in college: Bright Hope Baptist Church. At Epiphany, there were so many young people in college just like me hungry and on fire for God, striving to live out the gospel and spread it to the streets. It was the first time in my life I saw people of all nations under the sun worshiping the Father as one. There were women there not only committed to God, but serious about their purity walk with Christ. But what was even more beautiful, I saw young men and women as married couples. It was the first time I saw young living examples of what it looks like to be sold out for Christ. The more I was around them and became part of their small groups, I wanted to be like them. During this time, Cece and Pratek started inviting me to hang out with other people at the church. They were so filled with the word and poured into my life. One time Cece and I hung out, she dropped some true wisdom and knowledge in my life. Even though I was deep in sin doing my own thing, they still showed me the love of Christ and didn’t withhold truth from me just because I wasn’t doing right.

While Cece was in my studio apartment in North Philly off Oxford and 17th, she shared with me how she told God before she met Pratek, she was willing to be single for the rest of her life. Wow. When she spoke those words to me, that’s when I truly began to understand the power and importance of abstinence. It’s not just about waiting to get married. It’s about seeking God’s will to see if you’re called to be married.

laying life down

We can all say we want to open a business, write books or start a church but our plans won’t go very far if we’re not called to it. There has to be a pulling in your heart, a word from God that pushes you and propels you into your destiny. If you’re a Christian and you try to do things all by yourself, you get frustrated and what you’re doing becomes less about God and more about you trying to gain your own glory.

It’s the same thing with celibacy. No one ever said walking a path of purity was going to be easy. But the walk is more about submitting yourself to a Higher Power and showing your love and allegiance first belongs to Him. In the Ten Commandments after God told Moses the people of Israel should not have any gods before Him, the LORD said, “you shall not make any graven images before me.” In other words, God is saying this: Don’t put anything before me. Don’t have idols. Nothing on heaven or earth should come before God. This statement goes far beyond money and success — it even has to deal with relationships.

If you look at the world today, so many people are so caught up and striving to be in a relationship and get married. Just look at our Facebook pages and Pinterest. Everything is screaming “I WANT TO BE MARRIED!” How many women do you know have boards dedicated to their dream weddings? How many Facebook statuses are dedicated to how badly we want a boo? Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing wrong with having a desire to get married. But there is something wrong if that’s what we think about all day long. It’s in our nature to want to be connected and committed to somebody. There’s no denying that. But we have to check ourselves so relationships and being with a man isn’t everything we focus on. If we’re reading more articles about being single or what to look for in a man instead of taking time to read God’s word, listening for Him to reveal our divine plan, then we have a problem.

And if we want to be really real, the secret of landing a relationship are in the scriptures. All throughout the word, there’s scriptures and psalms and proverbs teaching us what it looks like to a virtuous woman of God which is essentially, what Christian men are looking for.

Regardless of how bad we want a relationship, it won’t mean anything if we first don’t accept and abide in the love of our Heavenly Bridegroom. Jesus wants to be our all and our everything before and even after we say I do. Worth the wait has more to do with you and your heart than your future boo. How will we be able to lay our lives down and submit to a husband if we’ve never even done it for God?

So just like the day I told God I would do His will as I walked away from that table carrying those plates, we have to treat not only our bodies but our lives in the same way. We have to be willing to give up our own desires and dreams (as hard as that may seem) and give them to God. We have to trust that He’s our everything and will make a way for us even when it seems we’ve got nothing.

Christians often say this phrase from Luke 22:42, “not my will but yours be done”. But how many of us walk those words when it comes to courting? How many of us leave this word out or forget it’s tied to our hearts when we’re tempted to kiss and make out? How many of us take things into our own hands because of fear and doubt?

If God said to you, “Daughter, my plan for you is to be celibate and devout,” how many of us would really praise and shout? How many of us would thank God for the life He has laid out? Let’s be real: we wouldn’t really like it at all. If that’s the case, we must look deep within and ask ourselves, are we really willing to allow God to be the master and LORD of our all?

By Sydni Grant
sydni@areyoushe.com
Photo: lifeway.com

4 Signs He’s Not The One For You.

You’ve made the list, gone on a couple dates and now you’re wondering if he’s the one. As you pray and wait for what God has to say, keep this in mind: guard your heart and don’t be blind. If there’s red flags, don’t ignore them or pay them no mind. After much trial and error, God taught me a lot about relationships. And He brought me here to tell you this: not just anyone will do when it comes to marrying you. Whether you’re in a dating dilemma or on the fence about taking things further, know this — God only wants the best for His daughter.not the one for you

Here Are 4 Signs He’s Not The One For You :

He Worships Another God Than You. This may seem obvious to a Christian woman, but don’t be deceived. The devil is very crafty these days. “Gods” don’t just come in the forms of Buddha, Krishna or Allah. They also look like money, sex and marijuana. Think I’m joking? I know. Remember this: whatever a man centers his life around is his god. If he has a heart for God, his life will revolve around Christ. If his mind is more on money, then that will influence everything that the two of you will do. The bible gives us this heed of warning: “Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods” Deuteronomy 7:3-4 

He’s Not Willing To Wait For You. If you’re trying to be celibate and he’s telling you he needs sex, it’s not going to work. Sooner or later, you’re going to end up compromising your covenant with God and sacrificing your purity for a man never intended to be your husband. As Christians, God calls us to wait until we’re married. He doesn’t want us giving it up to just anybody. “Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well. Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be only your own, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountains be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth.” Proverbs 5:15-18

[Side Note: Christ not sex should be one of the building blocks for the foundation of your relationship. After all, He is the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20)]

You Can’t Talk About Jesus. How are the two of you ever supposed to connect if you can’t be open and real about your faith? In many of my past relationships, (if I can even call them that), I didn’t talk about my love for God because for one, I knew they weren’t believers and for two, I was afraid it would cause tension and cause them to go away. If you can’t share your faith with the dude you’re dating, eventually, you’re going to hit some big road bumps along the way. Sooner or later, you’re going to start feeling convicted when you’re rushing out the bed with him so you can make it to church. If Christ is the lover of your soul, you shouldn’t be ashamed to share your faith. We’re called to talk about it! “Because your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise you.” Psalm 63:3

He Doesn’t Name You. If you two are just “talking” and it’s been that way for months, it’s time for a reality check. Not to sound cliche, but he’s just not that into you. Men were created to put their mark on things. Just look at Adam. In the beginning, God gave him the task to name the animals. The same thing happened when he met his future wife. “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.” Genesis 2:23  Adam also gave his wife another name after the fall : “…Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” (Genesis 3:20). Ladies, if a man isn’t willing to give you a title, it’s time to do like Beyonce — and go to the left, to the left.

By Sydni Grant
sydni@areyoushe.com
photo: samragi.wordpress.com

Yada, Yada, Yada: Why God Wants You To Wait To Have Sex

I almost gave it all away because I didn’t want to have to wait anymore. Sick and tired of the waiting game, I contemplated compromising my purity. Tired of watching the world fornicate around me, I thought about what it would look like if I went into uncharted territory and explored the forbidden realm I had roped off for holy matrimony. I was nearing the age of 23 and still, no one wanted to be committed to me.  I thought living in Philadelphia would in fact increase my chances at a shot of love since there were so many men walking around. But instead, it was the opposite.

It seemed everyone got into a relationship by just hooking up and I was just standing on the sidelines, waiting to get into the game. Even if I did get the chance to get on the field, the quarterback never threw the ball to me because there was some other girl down on the field wide open.

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One day as I was walking down Broad Street on Temple’s campus, talking to my friend named Shannon, I told her everything. I told her how I felt and that I was sick and tired of waiting. I told her I loved God but this was just getting too hard. I told her how I was frustrated and tired of not knowing what all the hype was about. But the truth of the matter is, I was beginning to lose sight about what my purity was all about.

Then the LORD spoke through Shannon and her words made me change my mind about everything. She said, “Sydni, the right one is going to wait for you.”

Sometimes we lose sight of the promises God has spoken over our lives because we base our reality off of what the world looks like around us. Even though it seemed everyone around me was hooking up and having sex, Shannon’s words reminded me of why I took my vow in the first place — for my husband. I wasn’t waiting for a boo or just some dude who would just be my boyfriend. I was waiting for the man I knew would be called to be my husband.

Abstinence is more than just saving yourself for marriage. If anything, it’s more of a spiritual journey. When you take something out that the rest of the world is doing, God removes the scales from your eyes and you begin to see everything from a new point of view.

Instead of being caught up in one night stands or men who were simply just friends with benefits, I drew closer to God. He became more than just some big man in the sky and I learned He was so much more than just an all supreme deity. He was my Creator, my Savior, my Master and my Friend. Through Him, not only did I discover my gifts and calling but He also gave me my identity. He set me free from mental enslavement and carnal captivity. When I was stuck in a rut or down in the dumps, I would call on His name and He would answer.

Abstinence became less about waiting and more about drawing closer to God. I realized refraining from sex was all about my relationship with God. And if we think not having sex is just because God said it’s reserved for marriage — we’ve missed the whole point. It’s so we can know God.

In the Bible, the Hebrew word for “know” is yada. (You’ve probably heard it used before with the phrase “Yada, yada, yada”)

The word yada is used in Genesis 4:1:

“Adam yada’d Eve and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain”.

Some translations say “know” others say “lay”, but they all stem from the understanding of the word yada.

The Hebrew word “yada” has five distinct dimensions:

  1. To know God’s nature, personality, attributes and ways.
  2. To know God’s wisdom
  3. To know God by personal experience
  4. Having a face-to-face encounter with God
  5. Sexual intimacy

Before Adam had sex and made love to his wife, he got to know God. Way before Eve came into the picture, Adam was walking and talking with God, fulfilling part of his purpose to name all the animals on the earth.

“Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called every living creature, that was its name.” Genesis 1:18 NKJV

Adam got the chance to not only know God, but know himself. And God has the same desire for you. Your singleness is not only a time of self-discovery, but a chance to encounter His presence. God has you right where you are so you can know Him and not be defined by anything or any man.

Ladies, God wants to yada you. He wants to know you fully and deeply and every part of you. He wants to meet you face to face.  But above all us, He wants to show you His deep love for you.

Whether you’re waiting or celibate, singleness is the best time for God to yada, yada, yada you.

By Sydni Grant
sydni@areyoushe.com

Photo: gettyimages.com

Dating Like The World: 3 Lessons I Learned While Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

When I was in college, I had my first boyfriend. We did everything together. We ate together, walked to class together, went to the library together, watched movies together, went to church together, went grocery shopping together, cooked together and yes, we even slept together.

We played house and acted like we were married for about three years. It was a commitment without the covenant and God was not in the picture. We said we loved each other but we really lusted for each other and relied solely on our feelings. The truth is, we didn’t know how to love each other because we didn’t love Christ. During the last year of our relationship, it was obvious that our feelings for each other were dwindling, so we decided to breakup.

worldy dating

Despite our decision to call it quits, I was torn. For three years my ex was all I knew. I remember crying for weeks because I felt so lost without him. I thought I didn’t know how to live. Instead of going to God to find out how to live through Christ, I turned to my friends. My friends were just as lost as I was. At the time, they were not saved and they didn’t know who God was. So for them, living meant going out, getting drunk, hooking up with guys and forgetting about all your worries. So I took their advice. I “lived” like the world.

Going from club to club, date to date with no care in the world. Deep down, I didn’t like the lifestyle, but in the midst of the drinks and dancing with friends, my flesh was having good time. My friends and the world said this is what I needed to do to be happy.

While living this way, I realized all the men I met when I was out just wanted to have sex. I would get so upset because I knew I was worth more. However, my actions in the club and at the bars did not align with my true worth. I use to expect respect when I didn’t even respect myself. I was so desperate for love I use to look for it in men, which made me even more desperate for a boyfriend.

When I got in a relationship with Joe, that’s when my living lifestyle began to feel more like death. Little did I know, God was working inside of me, transforming my mind and renewing my spirit.

I used to pray this simple prayer: “God, help me be more like You and less like myself.” I use to repeat this over and over again. I said this prayer because I knew I wanted to change. It was while I was in a relationship with Joe I started to hate the things of the world and wanted to walk fully in my faith. This included casual dating and having sex with men that aren’t called to be my husband. I broke ties with Joe and never looked back. I’m happy to say I am 1 year and 6 months celibate, single and in love with God!

Here are 3 lessons I learned when I tried to date my own way:

1. God created sex for marriage.

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18

When sex is involved in a relationship things can get complicated. Me and my ex were each others’ first. So to us, it meant something special. We thought we were in love and since we thought we were in love, we frequently talked about marriage. However, it only made our relationship worse and we relied on the temporary satisfaction of sex to fix our relationship problems. That doesn’t work. Sex creates soul ties, which make this bad habit even harder to break. By playing house and going to church on Sundays together, we tried to justify our sins. The Bible says, “flee from sexual immorality.” Soul ties are real and premarital sex is a sin that is twofold. You’re not only harming yourself but also the other person. Now I know my body is a treasure and should be treated that way.

2. Don’t take advice from the world.

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.” 1 John 2:15

Worldly advice will steer you wrong every time. It will never lead you to victory. I followed the advice of the world and ended up even emptier and unhappier. The “YOLO” mentality does not match the Christian faith because we believe we do live again eternally in Heaven. The things the world had to offer did not satisfy my soul or feed my spirit. They were lies and false promises. God’s word is the Truth.

3. God will give you a way out.

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

God will always give you a way out of temptation. Being with Joe was a tempting. He lived the life I thought I needed to live in order to be happy. Our relationship was tempting because he was everything that I didn’t need but at the same time everything my flesh wanted. Every day I spent with Him I felt I was getting further away from God. God took me out of that tempting situation by giving me the strength to break-up with him, and to stick to that. By being in my Word and surrounding myself with accountability, I was able to end that relationship strong.

Remember ladies, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 18:22

If you desire to be married, you’re future husband is out there. You don’t have to go on a bunch of dates to find him. He will find you.

By Patrice L. McKenzie
patrice@areyoushe.com
Photo: Shutterstock