desires

The Case Of My Ex

This isn’t a post to bash my ex. This is not a post to bash relationships. This is a post to shed light on dark situations we all may face. This is a post to shed light on my story.

I was in a relationship with my ex for about a year and a half. At the time, that was my first “serious” relationship. I was in college and thought my relationship was everything. It was all about me and him as we squeezed God in between where we thought He could fit. Our focus was simidolatryply on each other as we tried to build our relationship around Christ. We were unequally yoked. Also, we were trying to change each other to make our relationship work. For a period of time in our relationship, because our focus was extremely on each other, I would get sick during and after an argument. I literally got sick. I would throw up and I lost weight. I wanted the relationship to work so bad that it made me sick when I thought it might not work out because of x, y, and z.

At the time, my relationship with God was mediocre. I read my Bible because I thought I had to in order to be a “good Christian.” I did not have accountability. In fact, I didn’t even know how crucial having an accountability partner was at the time. When I learned about it, I figured it was important, but I thought my boyfriend and I could manage without it. We were only deceiving ourselves. We were in love, fell in lust, and it was all about us making it work. It didn’t.

Over the years, I’ve truly grown since then. It took some heartbreaks and plenty of mistakes. But God showed me HE is my priority. I think that’s what we can easily miss. God will humble us in order to make us realize anything or anyone we place before Him is an idol.

— “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” Jonah 2:8 ESV

It can be difficult because in this world today being in a relationship and being married are idolized. There’s nothing wrong with being in a relationship that God ordained or a marriage God ordained. There is an issue when it stops there. Being married is NOT the goal of Christianity. It does not stop there. That’s where my issue resided. I look back on my past relationships and being in a relationship and marriage was my idol.

As believers, we have to self-evaluate our motives and our hearts daily.

— “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” 2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV

Question yourself to see what it is that is causing this desire? Ask yourself, “What is it that is distracting me because I have a desire for _________ instead of being content in Christ alone?”

Sometimes the things we struggle to let go of the most are our biggest idols.

 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” 1 Corinthians 10:14 ESV

By Ashley A. Johnson
ashley@areyoushe.com

Photo: IM Creator

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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

Desires

By Ashley A. Johnson

Do our desires align with what God desires for us?

Many times I’ve focused so much on what I wanted versus what God desired of me and for me.

I sought after God for what He could give me rather than seeking Him for Him.

Seek God’s Face for Who He is.

Allow His Presence to comfort you and guide you.

Let His desires be your desires.

ashley@areyoushe.com