Only Jesus can give wholeness to a broken life.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
By design, women were created to be relational creatures. We long for intimacy. We long to be loved, to be fully known, and fully accepted for who we are. We want to possess inviting aromas; aromas that welcome people to get to know our hearts and have meaningful relationships with us. We have a desire to be desired. Does any of this sound familiar? It should. Our wiring is a direct reflection of the heart of Jesus, and His overwhelming desire for intimate relationships with us. We've been created to reflect the gentle, welcoming, alluring, nurturing, captivating, and compassionate components of the heart of Jesus. Just as much as we long to captivate, we long to be captivated. This is how we as women have been made in His image. God longs for us to desire Him. He longs to be fully loved with everything we've got, and longs for us to seek the intimacy we desire through relationship with him. However, we often find ourselves struggling to truly seek out these intimate relationships with Jesus, and it's far too easy for distance to come between us and our Heavenly Father. Here are some of the factors that distract us away from finding intimacy with Christ, and how we can draw near to Him again.
1. We feel we have to "hide" from God. Whenever we sin and fall short of God's glory time after time again, the levels of guilt and shame we feel can make us feel we have to hide. We know that we went against what our Father instructed, and therefore feel we no longer deserve to be close to God. Not only do we feel undeserving, but it is hard being close to someone we went against. There's a reason why sin separates. Imagine how challenging it would be to be intimate with a spouse if you've been hiding mistakes you made from him out of fears you don't deserve his forgiveness, or out of fearing the potential wrath? Even when Adam and Eve committed the very first sin of humanity, their first reaction was to hide from God. Genesis 3. It's hard to be intimate with someone we're hiding from. However, when we mess up, God doesn't want us to hide. He wants us to repent. Hiding distances and distracts us from intimacy, while repentance draws us back. Acts 3:19 says "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." Once we repent, we come to realize that our God is not a God holding a lightning bolt waiting to strike us when we sin. Instead, He wants us to confess so nothing stands between us, and He ALWAYS chooses to forgive us freely and to love us unconditionally.
2. We get busy with life. It's so easy to become caught up in the business of life. Especially this time of year in December with all of the Christmas shopping, holiday preparations, and final exams for college students on top of everything else we prioritize in life. In the same way we feel a void or a sense of aching when our loved ones become too busy to make time for us, Christ's heart aches when we become too busy to make time for Him. When we become so consumed in paying the bills, meeting the deadlines, finishing the shopping, we begin to feel that same void and aching in our hearts. How hurt would you feel if your husband or dear friend whom you deeply loved never made time for you? How could that in any way strengthen an intimate relationship? An intimate relationship with Jesus takes investment, prioritizing, and discipline. If that means waking up a half hour earlier than usual in the mornings to set aside a quiet time of prayer/devotion to draw near to the Father, then I strongly encourage that. The only thing that can truly fulfill our desire to be desired is Jesus, and it's crucial we set aside time to strengthen and build our relationship with Him.
3. We seek out the wrong forms of intimacy. As women in the twenty-first century society, so much emphasis on our value is placed on how highly men desire us - which is dangerous when we long to be desired. We're taught that if we can seduce men, we'll be accepted and desired, which is what our hearts long after. For single women, this can look like devoting all our time and energy into trying to seek the attention of men, which can often lead to compromising our values, ultimately distracting us from our relationships with Christ. Remember, sin separates. It's alarming how quickly our focus can be shifted away from pursuing our fulfilling relationships with Christ to shifting towards society's distractions. Being pushed into the rapid current of dressing less to impress, and compromising our values in order to be desired by fulfilling desires of the kind of men who objectify women. For those of us who aren't yet married but have significant others, we need to guard our hearts from feeling we have to be seductive in order to be captivating girlfriends. Our true identity is found in Christ alone - not the eyes of men. Our identity in the Father says we're beautiful the way we've been created. We don't need to seek society accepting us as beautiful if the Lord of the Universe says we already have beauty just the way we are.
4. We place marriage relationships above our relationship with Christ. There is absolutely nothing wrong at all with having fully physical, mental, and emotional intimacy with your husband. In fact, God encourages and wants us to have that within the perimeters of marriage. Becoming one with your husband and creating powerful intimacy is how marriage reflects characteristics of God's love by symbolizing the body of Christ being yoked together as one. However, even when committing to spend the rest of your life to being a devoted wife to your husband, it's important to remember the relationship with Christ should still be the first priority. Even over your husband. We can easily be so caught up in the excitement of having a husband to have that desired intimate relationship with, we begin to neglect our relationship with Jesus by devoting all of our undivided efforts to our husband alone, placing him above our relationship with Christ. Then, the void in our hearts returns. Even within marriage, Christ is the only thing that can give us ultimate fulfillment and ultimate intimacy. Also, the best way to give your husband meaningful, abounding love is by loving the Father first. Learning to Love Jesus first and your husband second is a win win!
Remembering that Christ is the only true and complete fulfillment of our longings to be desired is key. Being aware of the distractions from an intimate relationship with Jesus is vital. It's highly crucial that we don't lose sight of the fact we were made by God to be loved by Him, and to love Him too. What's the key to satisfying our needs of feeling desired and to be known intimately in a healthy, promising manner? By guarding our hearts from the distractions that create distance between us and the Father. We need to be on our guards daily. A fulfilling intimate relationship doesn't come without effort. Focusing on strengthening and deepening our relationships with Christ daily truly is a thrilling component to our eternal adventure in following Jesus.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Cuffing Season is officially in full effect. That time of year when men and women all over the world give up their single summer nights for cuffed up winter nights with a cuddle buddy. As a single Christian woman, that can go very bad. You are a woman of God; daughter of The Most High. You don't settle for random season flings. You only settle for God's best.
I know, you're probably saying, "What does she know? She's been cuffed...all year round!" You're right. I am happily married and this no longer is an issue for me personally, however I have many friends and sisters in Christ that are single. So although I may not have to deal with this, I will be praying for my single sisters, because I do know the struggle. I will pray that the love of Jesus envelopes you like a warm quilted blanket on a cold winter night.
Urban dictionary defines cuffing season as: during the Fall and Winter months people who would normally rather be single or promiscuous find themselves along with the rest of the world desiring to be "Cuffed" or tied down by a serious relationship. The cold weather and prolonged indoor activity causes singles to become lonely and desperate to be cuffed.
So, how do you survive this cuffing season?
Remember it's but a season. This season only takes up a portion of the year, so why allow someone to only give you a portion of themselves? It's natural during this time to gravitate to warmth in the arms of some random, but it's only temporary. The last thing you need is to settle for anyone just to cure your loneliness. It will do more harm than good later.
True love is found at the foot of the Cross. No amount of cold winter nights with your temporary beau will satisfy the longing in your heart that will remain the rest of the year. That place belongs to Christ alone. It can get lonely, watching all your girlfriends fall in love and get engaged, but your time is coming. Instead of focusing on what you don't have this season, practice on being content with your portion.
Desire to be more like Christ. Notice that the Urban dictionary defines this time of year the Fall and Winter months people who would normally rather be single or promiscuous find themselves along with the rest of the world desiring to be "Cuffed" or tied down by a serious relationship. Single or not, we shouldn't desire anything that the rest of the world desires. We must only desire what God desires for our life. That guy may want to "cuff" you from Fall to Winter, but Jesus wants you for a lifetime. Why choose a temporary muse that will only leave you at the first sign of summer when you can choose a Savior that wants your whole heart all year long?
Use this time wisely. Keep yourself busy. Consider volunteering and giving your time at a local shelter. More importantly spend more time with Christ. Meditate scriptures on contentment, joy, and peace. And stay prayed up! The enemy will definitely use this time to distract you from God's purpose for your life, but remember you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Phil. 4:13). Reach out to your other single sisters in Christ and start a Bible Study Sleepover.
Remember your worth! When you know who you are in Christ—and your worth you won't give in to being someones fling for four months. Your heart is worth so much more. If you're struggling with loneliness, realize that no human can help you. Cast your loneliness, sadness, and discontentment at the feet of Jesus, tonight. Let Him do a heart change from the inside out. He will replace those feelings with joy, peace, contentment, and hope—things that will last as long as you continue to seek Him to fulfill you. The greatest evidences of God’s love to those that love him is, to send them afflictions, along with the grace to bear them. And during this season He will give you not only the grace to bear it, but His hand to walk through it with you.
This season don't settle, and let Jesus cuff you. . . because it's forever.
About the Author :Carmen Miller is founder of Whole Magazine and an unashamed lover of Jesus Christ, wife, and mother. Daily, she clings to God's goodness to cover her mess and purpose her days to live out her passion in leading broken women to Christ. She has a love affair with coffee, cowgirl boots, and her iPhone.
If God loves me, shouldn't He prove His love by showering me with blessings? If God loves me, why hasn't he shown me that love through my early father? And why doesn't he tell the girls at school to stop bullying me?
These are questions that several teens struggle with daily. In fact, I had a teen reader of this column email me that exact question: Does God love me?
The answer? Yes. He loves you.
You then might ask, “So why does my life seem to be falling apart? I thought He was all-powerful. Can’t He prevent bad things from happening?”
Yes, God is all-powerful. But we have to remember that Satan controls the evil of this world. Not God.
This is a question that the teenage protagonist in my book, Purple Moon, struggles with as well. In the book, she asks, “If there is a God, and if He really loves me, then why did all that stuff have to happen? None of it makes sense.”
No, it doesn’t always make sense. And it’s easy to blame all earth’s events on God. He is, in fact, the Creator of this Universe!
However, we have to remember that sin was not God’s original plan. If it wasn’t for the serpent tricking Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to disobey God, sin would not have entered the world (see Gen. 3).
Yet it has. And because of that, we will face tribulation. God isn’t going to force everyone to turn to Him and to stop sinning. He has given each of us free will, and the negative decisions others make that affect you does not disprove His love for you.
In fact, trials and tribulations can often prove just how much God does love us, because He promises to never let go of our hand through it all.
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace, they could’ve easily questioned God’s love for them. But they didn’t. Instead, while they were supposed to be burning in the flames that Satan meant for harm, they noticed something: There was another man in the fire with them. They were not alone. And they came out of the fiery furnace completely unharmed. (See Daniel 3.)
Daniel could have also questioned God’s love. However, when he was thrown into the lion’s den, something strange happened: The lions did not attack. God had sent an angel to close the mouths of the lions. Daniel also came out of the lions’ den completely unharmed. (See Daniel 6).
What do those two stories have in common?
The fact that none of God’s followers allowed their circumstances to cause them to question God’s love or faithfulness. They walked through the fire/lions’ den, and instead of freaking out, they trusted God would save them. They didn’t focus on their circumstance; instead, they focused on the fact that God was with them. They knew that God was aware of what was happening to them. And instead of burning or being attacked, the plans that were meant to harm them were turned around for good.
“Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people.” ~Genesis 50:20 (MSG)
Being thrown into the fiery furnace or into the lion's den does not disprove God’s love for you. It is only when you take your eyes off the fire, off the lions, and see God standing there, do you realize just how much he loves you: so much that He refuses to let you walk through it alone.
When you lift your eyes to Christ, your focus shifts. You no longer see those girls bullying you. Instead, you see Jesus. And you realize that He has been with you every step of the way.
“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.” ~Psalm 56:8 (NCV)
God never said that this life will be easy. In fact, He said the exact opposite:
“In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”
~ John 16:33 (MSG)
Sometimes, God allows us to walk through the tunnel just so we can strengthen our faith and learn to rely on Him. And although He isn’t going to stop every kind of evil in the world—not yet, anyway—He can make beauty of the mess in your life. He has the power to make all things new (2 Corin. 5:17, etc.). And yes, God does have a plan for your life (Jer. 29:11; Ps. 139:16, etc.).
Every piece of your life can fit in a pattern for good, including the situations that you are facing now.
“That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” ~Romans 8:28 (MSG)
Every season of your life—including the difficult ones—can fit into a beautiful picture that God has painted for your life.
“There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season.” ~Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NCV)
It's time to place your brokenness in God’s hands. In place of it, He will fill you with His peace. He will fill you with His incomprehensible love. And nothing can happen to you that God wasn’t already aware of.
The negative situations you might be facing only proves how evil Satan is. But the promises that God has given you—to be with you through every battle; to unfold His plans for you; and to love you, even when you turn away—those promises prove just how good God is.
So back to the original question: Does God love me?
“Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture…” ~Romans 8:35-39 (MSG)
“I pray that Christ will live in your hearts by faith and that your life will be strong in love and be built on love. And I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is. Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with the fullness of God.”~Ephesians 3:17-20 (NCV)
Yes. God loves you.
If you have any questions or prayer requests, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
[photo source: Violet, WeHeartIt.com]
About the Author :Tessa E. Hall is a 19-year-old author of Purple Moon, her YA Christian fiction novel, published September 2013 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She has a passion for youth ministry, especially in the area of the written word. She also loves acting, music, Starbucks, and her imperial Shih Tzu—who is named Brewer after a character in her book, as well as her love for coffee.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Surviving A Breakup With God's Help
Breaking up is never easy, whether you are the one doing the breaking up or the one being broken up with. Let's face it. Even for us Christians breaking up is never fun. But when it all settles, and we take a moment to reflect on the relationship it won't be long until we see where it all went wrong. More importantly, when we truly begin to seek God and His will for our lives—including love lives—then we can start desiring what He desires for our hearts. So, fear not, the Lord is with you during these difficult times.
- Big girls do cry. It's ok to cry. There's no reason denying that it hurts. Sometimes getting a good cry in can be a catalyst to moving on and moving forward. Keep in mind not to spend too much time in this season though. Remind yourself of why you aren't together in the first place.Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. - Psalm 30:5
- Cut off all contact. Don’t try to be friends with your ex right now. Don’t try and hang out with his guy friends either. Do not text him when his favorite song plays on the radio. The easiest, fastest and healthiest way to get over your ex is to initiate clear boundaries from the beginning. Unfriend him on Facebook, unfollow him on Twitter, and stop getting your hair and nails done with his momma (yes, it's that serious). Refrain from stalking his social networks, because it will only prolong your healing process.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13
- Spend time with your sisters in Christ. Now is not the time to hang out with your worldly friends just to bash your ex, go clubbing, and get wasted. Also consider that if this is only a season of separation for you both, slandering him to your friends and mutual friends will leave things a little awkward if there is a reconciliation. Seek out your godly friends for support. Let them pour into your life and pray for you. When you are out with your girlfriends, don't just dwell and reflect on your breakup, rather ask about their lives, relationships, etc.
A friend of all the world will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. - Proverbs 18:24
- Spend even more time with Jesus. Fill the time that you use to spend with your ex with Jesus and watch what a difference you will see very fast. Have date night's with Jesus. Create a beautiful, quiet, and romantic atmosphere with candles and get your Bible. Go back to your first love. Let Jesus heal your heart from the inside out. Sometimes we get so caught up in our relationships that we can lose our identity. Let God remind you that your identity, and your worth were always in Him not in your ex! Go as hard for Jesus during this time as you did for your man. Give yourself time to heal slowly. When you are having a bad day and tempted to call your ex, put your phone down and fall on your face. Cry out to Jesus. Know that He will heal your broken heart. He truly does work things out for the ultimate good.Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6
- Stay single. This is not the time to go and get into a rebound relationship. This is your season for healing, restoration, and redemption. God draws near to the broken-hearted. Use this time to spend with Jesus (refer to #4). Right now you are carrying baggage filled with hurt, bitterness, anger, and sadness. Give God a chance to do a major uproot cleaning in that heart. Give your "Boaz" a fair shot when the time comes. You can't give him that if you're still carrying around past hurts. Focus on your season of singleness and become intimate with Christ. Learn Him all over again. Remaining at His feet is reassurance that healing and breakthrough is right around the corner. So what if everyone else is in a relationship. Singleness is not incompleteness. It is a gift, a blessing. Being single doesn't necessarily mean you're unavailable. Sometimes you've got to put a sign up that says, "do not disturb, God is working on my heart." Keep in mind that this season allows for more undivided time between you and the True Lover of your soul.
About the Author :Carmen Miller is founder of Whole Magazine and an unashamed lover of Jesus Christ, wife, and mother. Daily, she clings to God's goodness to cover her mess and purpose her days to live out her passion in leading broken women to Christ. She has a love affair with coffee, cowgirl boots, and her iPhone.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
It’s the time of the year where we count our blessings. Every November I am reminded of the abundance in my life. I am astonished by God’s goodness and make a conscious effort to be thankful for the things I take for granted-- heat in the winter, gas money to run errands, a dishwasher and washing machine just to name a few. You know, the simple “daily things” that I often mistakingly view as an entitlement-- rather then a gift.
Even with the overflowing gratitude of my heart, at times I have struggled with a quiet discontent, I call it, “the uninvited guest.” I know we aren’t supposed to talk about this, but can I just be real for a moment? For many, the holidays are disillusioning at best, painful at worst. We count our blessings, but we also count the things that seem to be missing. If you’re on facebook or Pinterest. the reminders of “more and better” are everywhere-- from perfectly gourmet recipes, to colorful tables, to happy drama free happy families-- we long for perfection and ease on the day when we are supposed to be most content with “whatever we have.”
Our hearts are full, and yet sometimes the inconsolable ache of our human condition (the uninvited guest) is overwhelming. For some, it’s an empty seat around the dining table; you miss the laughter and joy of a loved one that passed away and traditions just aren’t the same without them. Or maybe, divorce or estranged family relationships is the source of the strangely quiet house. For others, the ache stems from unfulfilled longings and the reality that another year has passed with delayed dreams.
Sometimes, we have prayers that go seemingly unanswered for weeks, months, or even years. We cry out, beg and plead with God for that new job, new relationship, or new possession. We hope against the odds for physical healing, restored relationships, or guidance. We get frustrated when our sincere requests are only compensated with “silence” from God.
The inconsolable ache is present in varying degrees in every single one of us. Even in the grandest, most joyous moments of life, we are aware that something here on earth is amiss. The evidence is most obviously displayed when you consider the emptiness that many millionaires, A list celebrities and professional athletes share.. Even with the ability to have everything their heart desires, their weary souls find no rest and security.
I have experienced the nagging presence of the ache, but I have also joyfully experienced the only remedy for it. In my seasons of desperation I have learned that the many prayers that seemed unanswered, were actually answered with the greatest gift of all: God’ sustaining presence.
Quite simply, God’s presence with me has been enough. Those aren’t cheap words. They are words that I have learned in the darkness-- when I felt alone, abandoned, and forgotten. They are words I have learned when I have struggled to hold on to hope in circumstances that seemed unending. Those words were learned during times when I did’t get what I desired and God didn’t solve my problem like I had anticipated. Truthfully, the inner peace derived from God’s presence has guarded my heart while facing a generous amount of deferred dreams and crushed plans.
In my life the disappointment and the ache of longing have both fueled my dependence on the only One who fulfills. If you’re struggling this year, please know, it isn’t ungrateful or disrespectful to voice the deepest desires of your heart to God. Tell Him what you’re feeling and ask Him for his help in realizing contentment that comes when you trust Him to be enough. God’s presence is much more of a gift then any of his “presents.” As a child of God one of the most incredible privileges is the discovery that in those rare moments when you have “nothing else” you recognize that He is unfathomably more then you could ever need.
[photo credit, Mathijs Delvas]
[photo credit, Mathijs Delvas]
About the Author :Christina Stolaas is a 30 year old who is addicted to Jesus, Coffee, and Running. She's a mom to four energetic kids who she adores, and wife to one wonderful husband of almost 10 years. Christina is a sunday school teacher to youth, is actively involved in womens ministry and uses her gift of writing wherever God opens the doors! She is passionate about seeing God redeem our mess into a message of hope to others.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Although we are 13 days into our sabbatical I wanted to pop in and send a little encouragement your way.
Today, let's remember that Jesus is our solid Rock we can cling to when the storms of life blow and beat against us. Jesus is a precious cornerstone, and those who trust in Him will always have a solid Rock to depend upon. No matter what is going on; no matter who has hurt you remember that you are not alone. You always have a friend in Jesus. Humans are flawed and imperfect and ever-changing, but God is unchanging.
1 I am at rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from Him.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I will never be shaken.
3 How long will you threaten a man?
Will all of you attack
as if he were a leaning wall
or a tottering stone fence?
4 They only plan to bring him down
from his high position.
They take pleasure in lying;
they bless with their mouths,
but they curse inwardly. Selah
5 Rest in God alone, my soul,
for my hope comes from Him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock.
My refuge is in God.
8 Trust in Him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts before Him.
God is our refuge.Selah
9 Men are only a vapor;
exalted men, an illusion.
Weighed in the scales, they go up;
together they are less than a vapor.
10 Place no trust in oppression,
or false hope in robbery.
If wealth increases,
pay no attention to it.
11 God has spoken once;
I have heard this twice:
strength belongs to God,
12 and faithful love belongs to You, Lord.
For You repay each according to his works.
Monday, November 11, 2013
I have lost count of how many Christians I’ve met and talked to who have no clue about boundaries when it comes to man-woman relationship. Honestly, I was one of them. Charge it to ignorance, carefree attitude, or too trusting nature. Whatever the reasons are, the fact remains that there are lines we should not even dare cross when it comes to our dealings with the opposite gender. And then we wonder why adultery happens to the best of Christian people.
People either get defensive or shocked when I correct them in this area. Yet I believe it is my responsibility as a woman of God to point them to the truth, a truth which I did not know or understand until something very exposing happened to me.
This is the first time I am going to share this story in writing. I have spoken about it in bits and pieces and the people close to me know the entire story. I believe this is the right time to do some exposition about this personal experience I’ve had, to warn you and to further confirm my point of not crossing lines.
The person mainly responsible for my recommitment to the Lord, the foundations of my spiritual walk, and my deliverance from a wrong relationship is my spiritual father and mentor. He is a very passionate man of God, very charismatic and loving, and a good looking man at that. It is very easy to fall in love with him and almost every woman in church was just drawn to the love that was pouring out of him. It was this love that brought about a lot of healing in my wounded heart. And since I had a lot of daddy issues, I was drawn more to him, feeling that he was the Dad I always longed to have.
I didn’t know about boundaries then. He was very much married and I was single, barely out of a wrong relationship. The first time he hugged me, I felt kind of awkward and pulled away. He then pulled me back and said, “You seem to have a lot of issues. Let the Father’s love fill you and heal you”. Those were the first words that confused me. A part of me felt that something was not right, yet another part of me doubted the very feeling I had. Since he was my spiritual father, I tried to convince myself that he knew what was best for me.
Our relationship blossomed as the days, weeks, and months passed by. I became a full-time worker in church and I was one of his most valued staff, his Communications Director. He always called me to his office and would always give me a very tight and loving hug before we even start talking about church and work stuff. The awkward hugs became more comfortable, as I started getting more adjusted to it. Yet, there was a voice inside of me telling me something is not right. But then my vulnerability always got the best of me. Each time I brought up the issue of my awkward feeling to him, he would always remind me that I still have a lot of issues that God is dealing with and that I should just let Him heal me.
Soon his hugs became more constant and it began to cross the line. He kissed me one time and I froze, so shocked as to what he just did. He just put his finger on my lips to silence me and he said, “Just feel the Father’s love”. I felt sick to my stomach and more confused than ever. I tried to bring up this incident with him a few days later but he brushed it off like it was nothing. So there I was, unsure of what was really going on. I decided to keep everything to myself because I didn’t even know what was happening.
I began to seek the Lord more deeply than ever. I cried and wailed before Him to reveal to me what to do. Incidentally, my pastor kept warning me not to leave the church because God placed me there and he is my spiritual father.
God moved on my behalf. He created barriers that my pastor could not even cross. The women’s ministry I was heading began to grow. Though nobody knew what was going on, the movement of the Holy Spirit in our women’s group was just so overwhelming, and not even pastor could come in between.
I became stronger in the spirit and was able to rebuke my pastor one day when he attempted to make a move on me again. I told him it was over. He was trying to brush it off, as usual, but that’s when I felt stronger than ever. I knew then that I had to leave. It was just a matter of time and the proper leading from the Lord.
To cut the long story short, I left the church without telling anyone except my right hand person and best friend. Gossip spread so fast and I became the Jezebel in people’s eyes. It was one of the most hurtful experiences I’ve had in church. I was the victim who became the villainess. People from other churches and those I didn’t even know feasted on the gossip. Finally, I was able to talk to the Board of Directors and it was a very dramatic recount of everything that took place. The Associate Pastor cried and apologized. My pastor was kicked out of office and up to this time, has not regained his position back.
From my pastor’s standpoint, I understand that he had the best of intentions when he led me to recommit to Jesus and when He decided to take me under his wings, to mentor me. I believe with all my heart that he never planned to hurt me or his wife. Yet my vulnerability drew me to him. He is a man in every sense of the word, and every man wants to feel like the “knight in shining armor saving a damsel in distress”. On the other hand, I was so vulnerable to the love of a father. These two ingredients spell disaster and that is exactly what happened: A disaster that hurt a lot of people. Though no sexual encounters ever took place, and therefore there was no actual act of adultery, there was definitely some emotional adultery that happened.
God used this very incident to teach me a hard lesson on boundaries. That’s when I began to understand that men should minister to men, and women to women. And if you want to argue with me on this and say: “Well, I am not like you”, let me tell you that I warned a pastor friend of this same issue and he didn’t listen to me. He is a counselor and he therefore counsels a lot of women. I told him to just counsel men and he said that he has been doing it for years and that I don’t have to worry about him. Months later he came back to me, so distressed, and admitted that he is falling for his counselee. I knew it was going to happen.
I have warned several people who didn’t listen to me, only to learn their lesson the hard way too. Even my very own husband had to relearn this “boundary” issue because he was not really aware of it.
It seems that as Christians we think that everybody has good intentions and that we don’t even have to worry about anything. Yeah, right. Proverbs 3:21 says: DO NOT LOSE SIGHT OF COMMON SENSE. It seems that the world has more common sense than we do in this area.
So if you are single, do not be caught alone with a married opposite gender. Do not even attempt to seek counsel from the opposite sex, which is what happens all the time. In fact, I have had men come to me for counsel and when I passed them on to my husband, they didn’t even want to talk to him. There have been women too who came to my husband for counsel and when he passed them on to me, didn’t even want to have anything to do with me. See how exposing that is?
Titus 2 instructs older women to teach younger women to be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured, and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the Word of God may not be exposed to reproach. This should be the rule and should apply to social networking as well.
I am 45 years old, as of the time of writing this article. This makes me older than the 20 and 30 year olds, and which gives me the authority to instruct with regards to what Titus 2 entails. Yet over and above my age is my personal learning experience that I just shared with you. Don’t let this happen again. Don’t be ignorant. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
[photo credit: Shannon L. Miller]