relationships

20 Things My Twenties Have Taught Me.

It’s a decade like no other. Our twenties can be some of the craziest, most transitional times of our lives. We graduate from college, land a full-time job and hope to find love along the way.

Even though I’m over my mid quarter-life crisis and still have three years to go until I hit 30, my twenties have been quite the spiritual journey. And since I turned 27 over the weekend, I thought what better what to celebrate my birthday than to share the wisdom God has given me.

Here Are 20 Things My Twenties Have Taught Me:

1. When doors close, let ’em. There’s no need trying to open a door when God has clearly closed it. “What He opens, no one can close; and what He closes, no one can open.” Revelation 3:7 (NIV) If you’re not walking into something you really want, there’s a reason for it. Christian film executive Devon Franklin explained it in this way in his book, Produced By Faith: “If He prevents you from getting something that you were aching for, it’s because it would not have turned out to be the blessing you expected.”

2. Not everyone can go where you are going. If friends fall off, it’s okay. The process isn’t easy but it’s necessary. People come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Sometimes we have to let people go because they are not on board with our vision or plan God has for our lives. Just like Gideon’s 300 men, God chooses certain sister-friends for the battlefield. “The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there.” Judges 7:4 (NKJV)

3. No one has life figured out. If you don’t have it together, you’re not alone. Somewhere along the way, we’ve believed the lie that we’re supposed to have life mapped out before we turn 25. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We’re all in this boat of life together, trying to figure life out. That’s why it’s important to put your hope and trust in God–not man. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

4. The devil attacks your identity. We all know the enemy is about low blows. And if you ever noticed a pattern with spiritual warfare, he always goes after your identity. He’ll tell you you’re not a great writer or your business plan is terrible. But that’s when you have to turn off the chatterbox going on inside your mind and remember all the great things Jesus has said about you instead. “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10, AMP/NKJV)worship

 5. Worship is your weapon. There’s no greater way to fight than on your knees. Singing praises and giving adoration to God sets a ring a fire around you and protects you from your enemies. This scripture lays out the battle plan so beautifully: “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you…and Jehoshaphat bowed his head down with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the LORD, worshiping the LORD.” 2 Chronicles 20:17-18

6. We’re all addicted to something. Addictions aren’t just physical. They’re also spiritual. We’re all quick to point out the alcoholic or the drug addict without really taking a good look at ourselves. Addictions are things that take a tight grip on us, causing us to fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23). It’s important for us to recognize the things that try to pull us away from walking with Christ. Addictions nowadays can look like pornography, lust or the need for continuous monogamous relationships. “Someone may say, “I’m allowed to do anything,” but not everything is helpful. I’m allowed to do anything, but I won’t allow anything to gain control over my life.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 (GWT) .

7. The wilderness is inevitable. “You’re either going in or you’re out.” That’s how one of my spiritual mentors explained the wilderness to me. The Israelites went through it. And Jesus experienced it too. So don’t be surprised if the wilderness is right around the corner for you. The process can be painful but the breakthrough is one of the most beautiful experiences of your life. It’s in this place where tragedy and tribulation turns into triumph. “Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth. Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 (NKJV)

8. We have to come to the end of ourselves before God can begin. Caterpillars shed many layers before they become a butterfly. And the same thing happens to us. God has to strip us from hate, doubt and fear. When the Spirit comes upon us, that’s when the miraculous metamorphosis begins. Shedding dead mindsets gives us the ability to spread our wings and fly. Rebirth allows us to walk into the revelation of the promise. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, [she] is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)healed

9. We’re called to birth spiritual things. Women don’t just birth babies — they push out promises. In Hebrew, Eve’s name is Chavah which means “to give life”. According to an article written by Sara Esther Crispe for Chabad.org, chavah embodies both the essence of life itself and the creative ability to grant life to others. Women are called to birth both joy and pain, new realities and revelations. As females, we are constantly delivering things naturally and spiritually, both within ourselves and for those around us.“Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” Genesis 3:20 (NKJV) 

10. God is our first husband. Our relationship with Christ is a marriage more than anything else. All throughout the bible, the word tells us we are the bride of Christ. Jesus died on the cross for us so we would be presented without blemish or wrinkle. (Ephesians 5:27). He wants to spend the rest of our lives with us in holy matrimony. But before we even get this revelation, we’re more caught up with getting a man. How can we be faithful to a man if we’re not even faithful to God? That’s what God put on my heart one day. God wants us to make a covenant with Him first before He gives us away to another man. “For your Maker is your husband. The LORD of hosts is His name.” Isaiah 54:5 (NKJV)

11. The right one will wait for you. That’s what my best friend Shannon from college told me when I wanted to give up on waiting to get married. Her words not only encouraged me, but sparked a new mindset in me. Waiting doesn’t just come from your end; the guy you’re with has to be willing to wait for you too. The one God has purposed for you will be convicted of this truth before he even meets you.“Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right.” Song of Solomon 8:4 (NLT) 

12. In sexual sin, we violate the sacredness of our own bodies. That’s the translation from The Message version of the bible for 1 Corinthians 6:18. That scripture is not only potent but powerful. I would meditate on those words day and night during my seasons of singleness. No matter how jacked up my relationships with other men would be, I would speak those words of truth and love over me. It changed my whole way of thinking. It challenged me to view sex as something sacred — not just something to do to validate a dating relationship.

13. Marriage is supposed to make you holy not happy. That’s the greatest lesson I learned from Pastor Brian Edmonds while taking pre-marital classes with my man at Macedonia Baptist Church in Pittsburgh. Even though I’m not married yet, I know my pastor’s words are key for a successful and godly marriage. We spend more time planning for the wedding than actually preparing for the marriage. God’s purpose for marriage is for the couple to reflect Christ and be a living example of God’s love.“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”- 1 Peter 4:8″

14. The word of the LORD gets tried. If you receive a prophecy, you best believe it’s going to get tested. When words of life are spoken over us, the enemy will do anything and everything he can do to choke out the seeds of our destinies . That’s why it’s so important to stand on the word of God and use it as your weapon during prayer and intercession. When we declare and decree the promises of God, it’s one of the ways that helps us win the war. As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried. He is a Shield to all those who trust and take refuge in Him.” 2 Samuel 22:31 

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15. He wants us healed and made whole. Therapy and inner healing doesn’t mark the end of our journeys. They’re just a sign of the beginning. I received the revelation many women are healed but not yet whole during a night of worship for women. During my own season of life coaching, my mentor taught me healing isn’t a point, but a process. God doesn’t just want to mend our hearts; He wants us to discover completion comes from Him.  “And [Jesus] said to her, ‘Your faith has made you whole.” Mark 5:34 (AKJV) 

16. God revives dreams that have died. We can be our own dream killers because of fear and doubt. But God is always on standby, preparing for our planes to land. No matter whether you’ve given up or lost hope, the LORD will bring dreams back to remembrance. What God put in you, no one can take away from you. It’s up to you to give your dreams a fighting chance.“For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29

17. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. Anytime I argued with my man, I saw how my words would hurt and not help the progression of the relationship. Over and over again, the Spirit would remind me of Proverbs 18:21. We can either speak life or speak death into our situations and over our lives. If we’re not careful, our tongues are like a flame a fire, threatening to destroy the blessings God has put in our lives.

18. Watch out for little foxes. Boundaries are essential for maintaining healthy and godly relationships. My accountability partner, Rev. Dionne Edmonds taught me you can’t just let anyone come into your garden. It’s up to a couple to water it, till it but more importantly, protect it. That’s why it’s important to have a conversation with your partner about past relationships with the opposite sex and set up guidelines for certain situations. When you’re courting and called to be married, you have to protect the relationship from tactics the enemy may use to destroy it. “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” Song of Solomon 2:15 (NIV) 

19. Put it on the altar. There’s no use holding on to something God doesn’t want you having anyway. Even though it hurts, sometime you have to pray, asking God to take it away to make sure your will isn’t getting in the way. So many times I’ve put relationships and job opportunities on the altar just to make sure I’m walking in alignment with the Father. “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42 (NKJV) 

20. Our scars are what makes us beautiful. The ugliest things become part of our destines. I never thought my story of surviving sexual abuse would become such an integral part of my testimony. But like my pastor and friend Shirly Lyle once said so eloquently, the pain pushes us towards our purpose. It’s through the scars where vulnerability never looks so beautiful. God gives us beauty for even the most darkest ashes.

“…bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:3 (NIV) 

By Sydni Grant
sydni@areyoushe.com

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Worth The Wait: Testimony Of A Twentysomething Virgin

One of the most ridiculous things you could ever do is really believe someone is going to wait for you. But that’s exactly the vow I made when I was 14.

I took a pledge part of the Christian movement, the Silver Ring Thing. After I signed a paper and they gave me a bible, from that point on it was up to me to uphold my vow to God. Days after I did it, one of my classmates named Luke told me it was going to be too hard to do in high school. As my heart burned with anger, feeling the weight of his words crush against my soul, instead of retaliating with an outburst, my faith became the weapon in my words. I simply told him, “I’m going to do this, Luke.”

I didn’t know how much I was going against the grain until I got to college. During freshman orientation before starting my first fall semester at Temple University, a group of girls who were on the same floor as me got together and did our own rendition of truth or dare. One of the girls asked how many of us had did it and I was the only one without my hand raised in the room.

Bio PicThat’s when the reality sexuality had infiltrated our culture hit me. I wasn’t in Coraopolis anymore, surrounded around young born-again girls. These were teenagers on the cusp of becoming women who had already experienced the sexual threshing floor. They were unashamed and sexually free; they weren’t worried about abstinence or purity. That’s when it became so clear to me that waiting wasn’t going to be easy.

By the grace of God, I didn’t have sex with anybody even though I came close to doing it and was often times a tease. I would make out with men I got drunk with the night before and then think we could lay next to each other without anything happening. When they’d get blue-balled and pissed off, I couldn’t understand why they didn’t respect the God in me. I didn’t get why they weren’t thrilled or even excited that I was waiting.

I was placing an expectation on them that was unreal. They weren’t thinking about marriage or looking for a relationship. I — not them — made that a big deal. Looking back, I feel bad that I even put them in that predicament, expecting them to live up to something they didn’t even consider was a big deal.

I had my fair share of so-called love affairs and romantic rendezvous. Thank God, they never pressured me into doing something I never wanted to do. In that regard, they were respectful but they also walked away. Sometimes, even though I really liked them, I had to walk away too.

One guy told me he didn’t deserve to take my virginity. Another one said he would make love to me. Others would just stare at me awkwardly and act as if they didn’t care. It didn’t matter whether they were black or white, a believer or agnostic, the relationships between all of them ended the same way.

I spent many nights praying, asking God to change their hearts and follow His ways. One time, my friend Kelly even challenged me to ask the LORD to take them away if they weren’t a part of His will.

So over and over again, men would come and go, in and out of my life. I never really cried; I’d just go get drunk the next night.

I wanted to end the cycle but I wasn’t willing to accept that I was the one that needed to change. I was pretty much acting out of a space of insanity. My pastor at Macedonia Baptist Church, Brian Edmonds, says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again. Even though I had a heart for marriage and wanted to be in a relationship, I wasn’t doing anything to change my situation. I prayed and read my bible every night, but there were things about my walk just not right. I struggled for years especially while I was single,literally giving myself away, trusting and believing in Yahweh.

It didn’t matter if candles were lit, the mood was right and the two of us were feeling horny; there was something inside of me that didn’t allow my flesh to rise up within me. Between college and post-graduation, I turned several dudes down for sex, even the ones who could have been my sugar daddy. Even the so-called Christian dudes did me dirty. I had to walk away from one guy I took to church with me because he said we wouldn’t be together unless I gave away my purity.  (At least he was honest, right? )

One of my biggest tests came when I was 23 and there were no men around to tempt me. I was walking down Broad Street, across from a subway stop at the corner of Cecil B. on the campus of Temple University. As I looked at all the people around me and tilted my head to crisp October sky, I felt as if I was missing something. Beginning to lose sight of why I took my vow of abstinence in the first place, I called my my best friend from college, Shannon, and told her why I didn’t want to wait anymore. It didn’t seem worth it to miss out on something that everyone talked about being so great. I wanted to get in on it and give it up even if it was on the first date. But my negative perception, got my head not thinking straight and caused me to lose sight of why I wanted to wait in the first place.

But thankfully, Shannon spoke some sense into me and her words at that moment changed my perspective on everything: “The right one is going to wait for you.” And that’s when it hit me. The man God had purposed for me was going to wait for me as much as I was waiting for him. He wasn’t going to feel pressured to fall into sexual sin because his life would already be yielded to the King before he met me. He would treasure and value the sacredness of marriage because God would have already spoken to Him. There would be no need for me to convince him of purity; it would already be something that’s been convicted in him.

By Sydni Grant
sydni@areyoushe.com

 

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.

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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

Me, Jesus & The Wilderness In Philly

I thought many of my relationships were heading towards love but God quickly showed me they were based on lust after the dudes would run away after a month. I had never been in a “serious” and “committed” relationship until I met my man. No joke, after a few sleepovers and some pseudo dates, they in some way or another would dump me. It got to the point the cycle would numb me. I accepted the fact that once I started dating a man, they wouldn’t be around for long.

But the biggest problem wasn’t them –it was me. I was trying to get with men jsad-womanust for the sake of not being lonely. It wasn’t like I was intentional about them, seeking the LORD to see what He thinks. Those questions would arise after a few makeout sessions and a date. I would ramble on to the LORD for days, trying to convince Him why (insert name here) would be a good fit for me. But I was so blind I couldn’t see; Jesus didn’t want me to settle for someone who wasn’t the one for me.

At times I was bitter and pissed off, wondering why no prospects would ever turn into anything for me. But that’s what happens when you take a vow of purity. Even though I told God I was going to wait for the one He had set aside for me, I was still doing things that were opposite of that reality.

I’d date dudes I met on the streets and at the bars. Sometimes the fling would bloom after a random rendezvous. But no matter how picturesque things seemed to be, it would never amount to anything. It seemed as if God told the men to run away and hide from me.

It was a hard reality but I am so grateful for His grace and mercy. Looking back, the men I dated were great people with so much potential but the problem is, a lot of them didn’t share my faith. So badly, I wanted to make it work, thinking somewhere down the line dating evangelism would make them change their mind, causing them to give their lives to Christ. But that’s out of order. A man is supposed to lead and coercing him to believe what I believe really isn’t love anyway.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, God ways aren’t our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Even though you may be getting dumped and ditched left and right, know there’s a plan to prosper you in sight. God doesn’t want you settling just because of your insatiable yearning for a man burning in your heart.

During my season of singleness, it’s in those moments I drew even closer to Christ. The moments He would turn those men away, I in turn became even closer to Him. When I was living in Philadelphia, walking through my own spiritual wilderness, Jesus and I would spend many nights together where I’d search through my bible and just cry. I loved those moments when it was just the King and I. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything — they’re the fabric of my life.

When I was 23, there’d be days I would walk alone on the streets of Center City, listening to Trip Lee or sometimes Sia, watching the Spirit fill the atmosphere. After my long nights working as a hostess at a restaurant and taking the 23 bus up through North Philly, despite the darkness around me, I knew God was with me.

This was one of the scriptures I would meditate on almost every single day:

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, 
Will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her. 
I will give her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor (trouble) as a door of hope;
She shall sing there, as in the days of her youth,” Hosea 2:14

Whether I’d sit on a bench in Rittenhouse Square, under an oak tree along the Schuykill River or walked along the trails in Wissahickon Park, I carried that verse on my heart. As I read it over and over again, I could feel the presence of God all around me.

During a class I recently took in Pittsburgh, one of the leaders brought up that verse so near and dear to my heart. As the leader talked about how God uses that scripture to lead us into our destinies, I started to cry. As I became so overcome with emotion, the spirit within me would not allow me to stay silent. So I shared with the rest of the class about my time in the wilderness while I was living in Philly. Then God spoke to me, saying everything was coming full circle. His words reminded me of the verse in Romans 8:28 that says, “all things work together”. 

Those sacred moments in Philadelphia are what kept me. It’s where God showed me how to love me. 

Sydni Grant
sydni@areyoushe.com

Photo: craziebeautiful.com

Distance Makes The Heart Grow Stronger.

There’s an old adage that says distance makes the heart grow fonder. But after five months months, being more than two-thousand miles away and a time zone apart, distance didn’t just make me love my man more. It made us grow stronger.  I’m not gonna lie — long distance hasn’t been easy. As a matter of fact, this has been one of the hardest seasons of our relationship. When his aunt told me long distance was no joke, I took her words to heart but not too seriously. Not only did long distance test us, but at times it made us feel on other ends of the world and even consider throwing in the towel. Since our relationship is centered on Christ, more now than ever, it’s crucial we hear from God.

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I’ve been praying and fasting, asking the LORD to keep me before I came down to Dallas. Despite my worry about the words coming out of my mouth that could undermine the relationship, God had it all worked out before I even got there.

While I was waiting to board my connecting flight from Charlotte to Dallas, I met a young brown woman like me when I was charging my phone. As I sat in a chair and plugged my phone at a charging kiosk, she pulled out Rick Warren’s bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life. I knew it was nothing but God when she pulled it out because not only had I just talked to one of my friends about reading that book the other day, but it’s also the way God revealed His purpose to me. So without even knowing where she was on her walk with God, I told her I read that book, it changed my life and I knew it was going to change her’s too. As I sat back in my chair and read my bible, I couldn’t but help but to pray for her. I prayed God would reveal her purpose. I prayed the Spirit would lead the way. I prayed that Jesus would meet her for whatever she was going through. Even though I didn’t know her, I had such an urgency in my spirit to talk to her. So out of nowhere, I started having a conversation with her. And in return, God revealed His heart to me.

She told me she was from Indianapolis and had just finished law school. She recently joined a chapter of Heather Lindsey’s ministry, Pinky Promise. We both realized we were wearing the same black scarf from H&M. But what made our encounter even more ironic: she was heading to Dallas to meet the man called to be her husband. And just like my man, her man was in his late twenties, finishing up school. What’s even better — her man’s name is Richard and my man’s name is Ryan.

“Truly, O God of Israel and our Savior, you work in mysterious ways.” Isaiah 45:15 

Before Ryan and I started our long distance relationship, all we had to stand on was the word of God and our faith. The LORD spoke to both of us about marriage and we knew the enemy would try anything to get us to fall apart. But the one thing we both said to each other over and over again–nothing but the blood of Jesus could tear us apart. Long distance not only tested us, but it tried us. Even in the midst of the distance, we prayed, sought accountability and fasted.

When God used serendipity in that airport to speak to me, it really touched my heart and showed me how much He loves me. God will use any means to get our attention and show us we’re walking in the right direction. Our God is not limited to bible verses and sermons. He can use anything! His signs, no matter what form, are just another display of His love and show off the workmanship of His hands. My serendipitous encounter not only gave me reassurance about my relationship, but all things were working together for my good because everything was in His hands.

By Sydni Grant
sydni@areyoushe.com
Photo: theprospect.net

 

 

Is It Worth It?: How To Say No To Compromise

We hold on to what we believe in, then we let it all go. Whether we let it go for a moment, a few minutes, a few hours, or even just a day. It may start by what we may think is small, then it leads to a bad habit. Saying yes to what we know is not good for us in the long run can lead to a lot of disappointments later on.

Compromising is something I’ve always struggled with the most. I wanted to do what’s right, but I would succumb to my flesh. I had things made up in my mind that I would not do. I said I would not get drunk or I would not have sex until I am married, but I wcompromiseould compromise. It started with simple thoughts like, “What’s one shot going to do? What’s one night out?” Then one shot led to another. One night led to every other, if not every weekend. Compromising with males has also been a struggle for me. Guys knew up front I did not want to have sex until I’m married, but kissing led to touching. Again, my thoughts were like, “What’s kissing and cuddling going to do? I mean we are just going to ‘chill.’” Wrong. Deep down inside I knew what I was doing was wrong (James 4:17). After feeling guilty, played, and worthless over continually compromising, I was done. All of the pain I felt made me realize I should have listened to God’s Voice. Ignoring Him was not worth it. I was tired of doing things my way and I wanted to completely surrender my life to God and do things His Way. I realized that Christ did not die for us to sin willfully (Hebrews 10:26). I sought forgiveness (1 John 1:9) and I was ready to move forward wholeheartedly. Moving forward is a process and can take time.

5 Steps To Move Forward and Away From Compromise

Renew Your Mind – Our spiritual worship is a lifestyle that is to be done daily and through our bodies. A renewed mind through Christ will help us say no to compromise. Reevaluate your thoughts and renew your mind. By doing so, you will be able to hear Him more, know what His Will is, and know what He desires of us.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 NASB

Realize Your Worth – When you truly realize and value who you are to God, compromising is not an option. Your worth is so much more than a few moments of satisfaction that will later lead to shame and disappointment. Ladies, we must realize a man of God will not compromise your purity. He will realize your worth in God and would not want to hurt or hinder your relationship with God.

“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:14 NASB

Seek Accountability – Having sisters in Christ who can hold you accountable to what you struggle with can help you overcome. With accountability, your sister in Christ can pray with you and for you. She can encourage you in the Word of God and show you scripture that has helped her in difficult times.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16 NASB

Create Boundaries – If we even think we may come across risky situations that may lead to compromising or submitting to our flesh instead of God, we should not even consider them. Guarding our heart and spirit is vital to our walk with God. Having boundaries set in your relationships is important so you do not give in to temptation.

“Like a city that is broken into and without walls Is a man who has no control over his spirit.” Proverbs 25:28 NASB

Stand Firm On What You Say – Christ warns us to stand firm on what we say. The enemy wants nothing more than for us to sin and distance ourselves from God. We need to be confident and certain when we say yes or no when it comes to things and people. Whatever may be confusing or swaying you is not of Him. God is not a God of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).

“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37 NKJV

For more ways of understanding boundaries and setting boundaries in relationships, check out Sydni’s post: Boundaries: Stopping The Little Foxes as well as my post: Boundaries: Who Surrounds You?

By Ashley A. Johnson
ashley@areyoushe.com

Photo: http://stylishwebdesigner.com/50-stunning-photographs-to-refresh-your-mind/