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Confessions Of An Ex-People Pleaser

Since the beginning of this year, one of the things the Holy Spirit has been repeating in my ear is “We are NOT people pleasing this year, Mo” [yeah, the Holy Spirit calls me by my nickname, so what? Lol!]. Hearing those words constantly made it necessary for me to evaluate just how many of my decisions were being made JUST for the sake of getting the approval of others. Even as far back as I can remember, my choice on who to associate with was based on who others would approve of. From best friends to boyfriends, I only wanted those that would validate me in the eyes of others. Thankfully, I was always rejected by the “in-crowd” so even when I was fighting it tooth and nail, God lead me to people who would be genuine in their love for me, regardless of whether they happen to be the most popular individuals or the most despised. As I began my journey into courtship, people pleasing was one of the FIRST things God wanted to rid out of my spirit. To such an extent that God would not ALLOW me to seek other people’s approval of my relationship. Beyond our parents, pastors and spiritual mentors, I did not say anything to anyone else about my relationship. God specifically told me that had I sought other people’s opinion or even laid my relationship bare for others to peruse and criticize, I would have immediately started finding fault with my partner and even with GOD and how He was moving in the midst of our relationship. So I learned, at least in the context of my relationship, not to live for the opinions of others.

Then God moved on to my friendships, associations and work in ministry. A long time ago, I made peace with the fact that no matter how desperately I had sought popularity as a teenager and young adult, I was not meant to be one of the “beautiful people.” God knew me enough to know that the type of attention I was seeking would have become an idol that utterly destroyed me if I were to ever receive it.

Okay. That’s fine, God.

If I wasn’t going to be universally loved, then I NEEDED to not be hated. That wasn’t too much to ask, right? The thought of someone finding fault in me petrified me. If I found out someone did not LIKE me or had spoken ill of me, I would literally crawl into myself and just cry. I didn’t want ANYONE to dislike me. This made it hard for me to confront issues head on. I would suppress ill or hurt feelings towards others because I was petrified that simply stating how I felt or trying to resolve conflict would cause someone to hate me even more. I became this insecure, self-consumed person who was petrified of one negative word from any source, no matter how far removed. Criticisms (constructive or otherwise) sent me into a tailspin as I would try my best to become everything to everyone.

Hindsight is 20/20 so I see clearly now how that mindset would have completely hindered everything I wanted to achieve in Christ if it had persisted in my life. However, people pleasing in my life took on a more subtle form after I gave my life to Christ. I would often seek multiple opinions about something even though I already knew what to do. If I made a decision led by wise counsel and others disagreed, I immediately started questioning what I had already decided. I would sometimes hesitate to testify FULLY of what God has done in my life for fear of being judged by present company. Even these subtle signs of “the fear of men” could have derailed God’s plans for me, especially in this new year.

This year is the one that God has set aside for me to publish the book He placed on my heart. As a people-pleaser, I could have NEVER publish a book like this one. This book is transparent, raw and unapologetic about the consequences of sin and the standards of God. I would have been too SCARED of the opinions of others to ever be associated with a book like this one. The thought of others identifying me with the main characters bad acts and failings would have been enough to send me running for the hills. A people pleaser simply cannot accomplish much and God has placed the desire to do great exploits on my heart. This desire has been ever-present, unwavering, from the age of three when I became aware of my “self”.

I finally realized that all of the things that God wants to do WITH my life are going to elicit strong criticisms and backlash from others. I had always thought that weddings were happy occasions where everyone celebrates with the bride and groom. I am finding more and more that weddings also bring out the worst in others, present company included. Planning for such a grand occasion gives us as human beings the perfect opportunity to be self-absorbed, selfish, critical, back-biting, envious and completely irrational in our motives and actions. So, am I suppose to remain single because getting married opens me up to a new level of scrutiny and ill-motivated criticisms from others? Absolutely not.

Mentoring and sharing my journey (failings and all) with those younger than me opens me up to criticisms and gossip from those who do not see me as a daughter of the Most High God but rather as the same worldly, carnal girl of old who now wears a cloak of perfection. Should I stop speaking the Gospel because some people do not see me as qualified enough or perfect enough to tell others anything about God? I refuse to back down.

Writing a book opens me up to the critique of others. Some will be critiquing my style, grammar, choice of anecdotes, character development and other literary aspects of the book. Others will critique my intelligence, my views, my past, my opinions and ME as a person and may find me lacking. Even THAT is not enough to cause me to disobey what God has placed on my heart to do.

This year is not about being cocky or alienating others. It’s about being so GOD-FOCUSED that I am no longer moved by the opinion of man. I am 29 years and 6 months old, and sadly it has taken me almost THIS long to finally be able to live based on God’s definition of who I am, rather than on the good or bad opinions of others – opinions that change like the wind.

One of my favorite verses James 4:4 says that if anyone desires to be a friend of the world, he makes himself an enemy of God. Friendship with  the world is enmity with God. I don’t know about anyone else but I NEED GOD! I need God for my day to day life. I need Him to perfect these crazy, flesh-driven and subtle tendencies that are still hiding out in my personality and spiritual life. I need Him to teach me how to be a crown to my husband’s head rather than a thorn in His side. I need God to teach me how to fully honor my parents in all of my doings, from the smallest details to the largest. I need God to direct me in leading the younger generation to Himself. I NEED GOD! My need for God makes it completely IDIOTIC on my part to alienate the Creator of Heaven and Earth because I’m chasing after somebody’s approval. I can’t afford to be a people-pleaser any longer. My destiny is too expensive for that!

These are the confessions of an EX people-pleaser. Color me DELIVERED!

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Engagement Anniversary 1/12/2012-1/12/2013

Engagement Anniversary 1/12/2012-1/12/2013

With the love of my life during our engagement session in June 2012. Amazing to me that this man knew after 5 months of courtship that he wanted to marry me (he proposed on August 10, 2011). I was scared but I chose to trust God that He would adequately prepare us and cause us to grow together. We waited another five months (January 12, 2012) before we made our engagement public with our families approval. I happily celebrate one year of engagement to this awesome and valiant man of God. I love you baby and I can’t wait to spend forever with you!

marriage

The Importance Of Being…SINGLE!!!

If you read my last entry, you know I touched briefly on what it means to be ready for marriage. In this post, I want to elaborate on what it means to be SINGLE and why it is the most important  thing to anyone who desires to one day build a godly home with a spouse.

I once heard a quote on marriage that was so profound and so SIMPLE, it changed my entire outlook on relationships, and it is this – “you can’t be married until you’re SINGLE”. Now reading those words flippantly, one might be tempted to respond with a big “well DUH!”. But pause for a minute…

Let’s look at the meaning of the word SINGLE.

Single – adj; not married [okay, no surprises there]; frank, honest [hmmmm, interesting that the definition of SINGLE will relate to character. Let’s keep going] ; unbroken, undivided [DING DING DING!!! WE HAVE A WINNER!!!]. 

So, one of the definitions of what it means to be SINGLE is UNBROKEN or UNDIVIDED – in other words, WHOLE! How many broken people do you know out here looking for a relationship? Many people are anxiously waiting for marriage while still broken from the pain  of their past. If you’re broken, you’re not SINGLE and you can’t be married until you’re single (even the laws of the land will tell you that).

So, how does one become SINGLE or walk in purposeful and godly singleness? Well for me, that question was answered in a two step process.

Step 1 – CUT OFF every tie (relationship, friendship, habits, what have you) that DIVIDES my loyalty between itself and God.

Step 2 – RUN into God’s waiting arms and STAY THERE!

Step 1 was vitally important for me because when I began my journey into being SINGLE, I was already in a committed relationship that was headed for marriage. I knew that my relationship had been built on an improper foundation (see anything other than Christ”, even good things like good looks and common interests) so therefore the Demolition Company was called in (d/b/a Holy Spirit). I gave God free reign to completely dismantle that relationship. If it was God’s will for us to go forward together, I trusted that He would rebuild the relationship on SOLID foundation (aka the Solid Rock).

Now, even before I became a real Christian (not that lukewarm mess I was in for years), I have been a PRO at Step 1. If the guy I was with wasn’t treating me right, I cut him off! If a friend started acting trifling, I cut them off. If an acquaintance stepped out of line, I cut them OFF! I was good at cutting people off.

Now, STEP 2 though….that was a different story all together.

Of course I would run into the arms of Jesus for comfort and safety every time my heart was broken but staying there was a different matter all together. This time was RADICALLY DIFFERENT though.

Not only did God call me out of my sinful relationship, but because He finally had my attention, He began to LAVISH me with a love like I had NEVER know in LIFE. Every day, He would point me to the love letters He had written for me in the book of Psalms or Songs of Solomon or Matthew or John or Revelation or even Genesis. Moment by moment He would explain to me how precious and beautiful and priceless I was in His eyes. He would give glimpses of the GLORIOUS future He has prepared for me. It was nothing like I had ever experienced in my life. I was completely LOVE STRUCK!

Now with my loyalty clearly UNDIVIDED and utterly fixed on Christ alone, I began an 18 month journey of ABSOLUTE SINGLENESS (no crushes, no dates, no guy friends, “special” or otherwise, NO NOTHING). It was just me and Christ. In that time period as God continued to groom me and teach me to find joy and completeness in Him alone, I started asking Him questions. I finally understood just how the idolatrous nature of my past relationships had doomed them from the start. And trust me it was idolatry. Side note – anyone you are willing to disobey God for, IS your god (idolatry at its finest).

Previously when I met a guy that I connected with, I would commence with making him the center of my universe. If i needed counsel, answers, advice, or comfort – no need to pray – just ask Mr Boyfriend Man. I would pour out all of my affection and love into the relationship while completely neglecting anything else, even my relationship with God.

Well, enter Deut 12:3-4

” And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things.”

So now that my idols (inordinate affection for romance/relationships) had been smashed to pieces, I was in EXCELLENT position to fulfill God’s purpose for my singleness. In this time of ABSOLUTE SINGLENESS, God began to pour into me. He taught me how DISGUSTING sin looks to Him. How my years of lukewarmness both nauseated Him and broke His heart. He taught me that LOVE was not a feeling but a PERSON (JESUS CHRIST, patient, kind,  not seeking His own, the very embodiment of 1 Corinthians 13). He taught me how EXPENSIVE grace was for Him despite that it’s free to us.

God began to expose me to me. He showed me that my tendency to “people please” would always put me at odds with His will for my life if I continued. He taught me how to STOP LYING to avoid negative consequences. He taught me to PRAY for people even when I wanted to hate them. He taught me to LOVE others without expectation. God did a lot. He also taught me what a godly, Christ-focused, Heaven approved relationship looked like from His perspective. The Holy Spirit literally filled me up with knowledge about marriage and relationship at a time when I was totally without prospects.

Well, after one year and six months of ABSOLUTE SINGLENESS, the Holy Spirit in His infinite wisdom and mercy had broken every bad relationship habit I had acquired over 26 years of life (and trust me, I was a hot mess!). In that same time period, I blossomed joyfully in His presence, bearing fruit that I had long waited to see in my own life. Instead of being double-minded and hypocritical,  God removed the shame of my past and granted me a precious gift – the gift of transparency (lol, it is a JOY to be able to speak the whole truth after years of hiding in the shadows of sin’s shame). I call it a gift because not everyone has it, not even all Christians have it. In my time of ABSOLUTE singleness, God gave me insight into what my destiny looks like from His eyes. He granted me the privilege and honor to pour into the lives of the younger generations behind me, especially teenage girls. He equipped me with the grace to share my heart wholly and truthfully with them, helping them to navigate the choppy waters of young adulthood and avoid the traps that the enemy has lying in wait for them.

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my season of ABSOLUTE SINGLENESS yielded much fruit. I am still single because I am not married yet, but as a woman engaged to one of God’s precious and valiant sons, this season is not of absolute singleness. This season of my life is about transitioning to be a WIFE AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART (props to the book by Elizabeth George by the same title – I am re-reading it for the 3rd time and it is BLOWING  ME AWAY!).

So, if you are still broken about your past and in need of healing, go to God – GET WHOLE! GET SINGLE! If you are currently unmarried and you desire to build a home and family under that sacred covenant between you, your spouse and God, I suggest you GET SINGLE. Because we all know, you can’t be married until you’re single.

I pray this blesses your life and your journey with Christ! I pray you find purpose and joy in singleness. May it be a time of EXPONENTIAL growth in Christ rather than drudgery to you. Love you guys!

(if you have any questions or want me to pray along with you on anything you’ve read here please reach out to me on Twitter @attorney_of_luv or email me at threeb_forlife@yahoo.com or comment with your contact info).

life, marriage

Are You Ready?

As I count down the last 4 months and 1 week of my season of singleness, I can’t help but reflect on where God has brought me from. If you browse any of my blog entries prior to September 2009, you can see the growth for yourself. I use to think I was ready for marriage as soon as I was an “adult” (over the age of 21 in my book). Because I was always starving for love and affection from a “special someone” I wrongfully believed that those urges meant that I was ready to settle down. So around the age of 22, I started diving heart first into one committed relationship after another looking for the perfect guy. It never worked out. My inordinate affection for a human being’s love guaranteed that I would idolize those relationships if any of them had blossomed into marriage. God loves me too much to see that happen so He always intervened before things got to that stage. Along with God’s divine intervention, my own selfish, manipulative, Proverbs 5 ways ensured that I never got what I wanted more than anything, a stable relationship that was marriage focused. In case you were wondering, here’s what Proverbs 5 (v. 3-6) says:

For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey,And her mouth is smoother than oil;But in the end she is bitter as wormwood,Sharp as a two-edged sword.Her feet go down to death, Her steps lay hold of hell.[a]Lest you ponder her path of life—Her ways are unstable;You do not know them.

You might think it mighty odd that I would describe myself in those terms but let me explain. As THAT woman who was compromising and saying ANY and EVERYTHING to get a ring, I was definitely a smooth talker. I would flatter, flirt, cajole or nag my way to get a guy to see me as “wifey material” (I hate that term now, by the way, lol). I wasn’t thinking about the guy. I wasn’t considering whether I was suitable for him and the future plans he had. I wasn’t praying for God’s will in his life. I wasn’t concerned with how I could help him grow in Christ or achieve his destiny, I JUST WANTED A RING!!! A woman with those kind of selfish motives is the EPITOME of a Proverbs 5 adulteress. This is not to down myself but to give us all a reality check. You’re not ready for marriage just because you’re lonely. The best piece of advice I ever got when it  comes to singleness, godly relationships or marriage is this – don’t be obsessed with FINDING the right person, be committed to BEING the right person (paraphrased from Chip Ingram’s Series Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships).

Are you in a fruit bearing relationship with Christ by yourself? Do you daily exhibit the character traits of the Holy Spirit by being loving, joyful, peaceable, long suffering, kind, good and faithful? If you are currently NOT bearing this fruit with family and friends, how the heck do you think you’ll be able to do so while you’re yoked with another imperfect human being in the covenant of marriage?

These are important questions to ask oneself because marriage is not about a WEDDING. It is about spending a lifetime with someone who will cause you to look more and more like Christ with each passing day. A marriage built on anything other than Christ is built on a shaky ground and before God fully prepared me, I was headed for disaster.

Look out for another post on singleness. I pray this one has given you reason to pause, examine yourself and pray. God bless.Image