Friday, August 30, 2013

"On Fire": Real Lovers Love Themselves. By Themselves. For Themselves. First.

I'll tell you what...

In this particular season, not one week goes by when I don't learn a new reason why the first ingredient in the "love juice box" (I Corinthians 13:4-8) is patience. For instance this week, every time I would get ready to pen something on this particular topic, the Spirit (John 4:24) would be like "not yet"...and I wasn't sure why.

I just got my answer about 20 minutes ago. Let me set it up for you first, though.

What initially inspired this particular blog was hearing actress Lauren London say something that she heard actress Jennifer Lewis say. I get why it stuck with her because it provided me a few warm-and-fuzzy-moments-of-clarity too:

"Love yourself so that you can recognize love."

Love yourself so that you can "identify, perceive, acknowledge" patience, kindness, truth and endurance. Yeah. That's hot and it definitely brings new enlightenment to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31). Sadly, there are so many women who are chasing after men, but not love...desperate to be in a relationship, that lacks love...wishing to share their lives with someone without knowing what a real love union is to fully consist of.

Perhaps that's just one more reason why James 1:4(NKJV) says "But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." Another way to look at that is "Let patience, the waiting period before actually being in a relationship with someone else, do what needs to be done in order to teach you how to love yourself so that you won't be looking for a man to give you what you, for yourself, can provide." Because as I often say, a relationship should be "surplus"---it should simply add to the abundance of self-fulfillment that is already within you. It shouldn't "complete you". It should *enhance you*.

I was just talking to a girlfriend of mine about a little while ago about this very topic. One of the things that I said is sadly, so many women look to a man to do what Christ already did: *save them* (John 19, John 3:16). They want a man to make them feel loved...wanted...worthy when Christ's sacrifice already did all of those things. And to not acknowledge that is not only unfortunate but a setting yourself up for making someone an idol (Exodus 20:3). No man (NO MAN) deserves the platform of being the one who first introduced a woman to love. No man deserves pressure of trying to make a woman feel loved, either. What he does deserve is the pleasure of being in the presence of the kind of woman who wants to share the love *that she already has* with him. As he does the same.

In a love relationship, both people should feel like they are being loved by someone who already loves themselves---mind, body and spirit. Otherwise, it may be an addiction, but it's not true love. It may be codependency, but it's not true love. It may be a pacifier, but it's not true love.


In order to attract a real lover, you must be one yourself. That comes with loving who you are...first.

I got a confirmation of this fact when I "happened upon" (Proverbs 16:33-AMP), ironically, a suicide note in the form of a blog from a 29-year-old woman who was a promising filmmaker. Her name was Vanessa Garcia and she took her own life earlier this month. Here is an excerpt of her final blog post:

"Over these last 15 years, I’ve thought to myself, 'If I get good grades, graduate high school, graduate college, struggle for my dreams day and night, lose weight, fall in love, make people laugh, love my friends, show up for my family, dance, travel, get sober, pray, go to therapy, take anti-depressants, swim, read, make movies, write books, smile' … then I’ll FINALLY be happy.  F--k being happy, maybe I’ll just feel some semblance of peace, contentment, and gratitude.  I’d be lying if I said that doing all those things didn’t add profound joy to my existence because they did.

The Four Experiences I’ll miss most about living:

1)    Spending time with people I love

2)    Creating Art: Namely making movies & writing

3)    Experiencing Other People’s Art: Films, Books, Plays, Exhibits, Music, Dance (Especially Flamenco)

4)    Traveling the world

The 1 Experience I’m glad to leave behind:

1)    Being Me

Cheesy, Pathetic, and Cliché, but true.  There’s only so many people and movies and beaches you can see before you return to yourself.  I LOATHE myself.  I am the greatest disappointment of my life on all fronts: professionally, physically, financially, romantically.  The chronic melancholia of my teenage years has only grown with time and at this point in my life, it keeps me in a state of complete self-absorption.  Self-Pity is my daily and nightly routine.  I sleep the days away and when I’m actually conscious I can’t seem to get out of bed, bathe, pay for my car registration. I haven’t been able to enjoy the four experiences listed above for quite a while because I’m acutely aware of my presence at all times.  It seems impossible to distract myself from being myself long enough to participate aka fully immerse myself in an enjoyable interaction.

I feel as though I’m watching from behind a glass shark tank as the world unfolds in all of its majestic glory.  I’m just not a part of it anymore.  I haven’t belonged to the experience of “living” for a long time.

In summary, I’m dead already.  I have nothing left to contribute.  I wish I did.  I wish I’d made more of a positive impact and meaningful contribution to society and the planet before I left it.  If I had the capacity to do so, I would stay, but I can’t seem to kick this debilitating, crippling, HELLA’ annoying sadness.

I hope that suicide will offer some relief.  If there is no afterlife, then I welcome the peace of nothingness.  If there is an afterlife and God does exist, I hope he’ll have mercy on my soul and welcome me to the light."

If you want to read the note in its entirety, you can do so here. But from what I just shared, out of all that she penned, what stood out to me most (as it relates to this blog specifically) was this: "I LOATHE myself. I am the greatest disappointment of my life on all fronts: professionally, physically, financially, romantically."

Do you think that Vanessa is the only one to feel that way? Shoot, I get emails often from "On Fire" women who feel like a lot like what she penned more than a little bit but the thing is, Vanessa went one extreme while many other women tend to go the other. She didn't love herself and so she took her own life. So many other women don't love themselves and so they get into counterproductive, non-God-ordained, settling situations that continue to drain them---professionally, physically, financially and romantically. Over and over...and over again. They look to others to fill their voids rather than to God to provide them with the path (Proverbs 3:5-6) of how to become whole. And becoming whole is so essential because a fractionated person is (usually) going to pick *a very different person* than a whole one will.

Even while living, Vanessa said that she was dead. That she had nothing to contribute. That she no longer had the capacity to make a positive impact and meaningful contribution to the world. Do you know how many women feel like unless or until they are in a relationship that they are just like Vanessa: dead woman walking? That they can't live to the fullest unless they have someone else's last name and a ring on the third finger of their left hand? Or at least someone who makes those intentions known?

Vanessa's story is sad. Suicide always is. But when people get into relationships that aren't God's will, when they marry the wrong person and it ends in divorce, when they spend more time trying to "get someone" than simply be who they are---it's still like a death in some ways. Being outside of God's will robs you of an abundant life. Divorce is a death (it's a marriage that the people involved killed). And not taking advantage of each day, each moment, that we are given to celebrate the God who made us (Psalm 118:24) and the individuals that we are (Psalm 139:14, Psalm 33:15), that is also taking on a suicidal mentality in the sense that living that way is "foolishly or rashly dangerous".

Not loving yourself is a suicidal mentality. Loving yourself is a life-altering gift.

This is a sobering message, I know but I actually appreciate Vanessa's blog. It reminds me to love myself enough to know that God and I are enough. And that anyone else is simply...a bonus.

Don't look to someone else to teach you how to love you.

Real lovers love themselves. By themselves. For themselves. First.



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"On Fire": Another 'Helpmate Hero'


Yep. Sometimes a picture says it all.

But if you need more: "After spending months recovering in the hospital, Jesse met his future wife Kelly, 24, in San Diego at a swim meet during one of his first outings with his new prosthetic legs. 'His personality and who he is just outweighs his injuries by so much that you forget about it after a while,' Kelly explained."

And here's a link to the video interview in which Jesse says "If I wouldn't have stepped on that IED, I don't think I would have met her. I wouldn't take it back. Ever." Whew! Talk about "all things working together" for one's good (Romans 8:28) about true Ezer Kenegdos rising up for such a time as this.

Breaking News | Celebrity News

Be inspired. And prayerful. And open to God's ultimate plan.



"On Fire": QUOTES OF THE DAY,quote,quotes,text,words-d314e090357632ff99a70788cca38022_h.jpg

(Uh-huh. Try to also choose the guy who doesn't have a bedroom at his parent's house.)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"On Fire": Focus on Being Prepared Rather Than the Delay

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming."---Matthew 25:1-13(NKJV)


As I was praying for the "On Fire" women on yesterday, the title of today's message is what the Spirit (John 4:24) shared with me; more specifically, some women are so focused on *when* "he" is coming that they are not putting nearly enough of their attention on *making sure they are ready* for when their beloved arrives.

And it's costing many of them. Of you. Of us.

One of the things that I enjoy a lot about Christ's parable-telling (Matthew 13:13) is that he incorporated a lot of (eh hem) *his Jewish culture* into it. It's actually according to Jewish tradition that after a man proposes to his beloved and she accepts, he leaves for a year to get things prepared. OK personally, I dig that too because men are told to love their wives as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25-33), right? Well, remember one of the ways that Christ loves us:

"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know."---John 14:1-4(NKJV)

OK, did you peep it? Christ went back to heaven to prepare a place for us. According to Jewish culture/tradition, once a woman betroths herself to a man, he too goes away to make a home for her.

And let me stop here for just a moment: No, that does not mean that everyone is going to live in a mansion on earth and honestly, if that is a top priority to you, it would be smart to spend some time researching what Christ had to say about making living like the lifestyles of the rich and famous (Luke 6:26-Message) so important (Mark 10:25, Matthew 6:19-21). However, what it *does* mean is that a man who has a heart like Christ is going to be a man who prepares, *ahead of time*, for his bride to live with him as his wife.

Preparing a place is a man's responsibility---*not a woman's*.

That said, here's the thing that the bride-to-be does need to do. Did you see in the parable how the five wise virgins had oil in their lamps but the foolish ones did not? OK again, according to Jewish tradition, once a woman said "yes" and a man went off to prepare, because she didn't know exactly when he would return, she had to 1) get ready and 2) remain in a state of readiness. *Constantly*. As a matter of fact, I once read that it was not uncommon for a man to come to his fiancee' in the "midnight hour" when she is least expected it. Why? Well, I'll say this: should it matter when he comes if she has already promised to be with him and love him forever (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7)? If she valued the words that came out of her mouth, it shouldn't (Matthew 5:37).

And that too is very similar to what the Word says about how we are to be as we await the Second Coming of Christ; being that he's going to arrive like "a thief in the night" and all (I Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10). If we say that we love him (John 15:10), then we need to be ever preparing for his return. Therefore, there should be no such thing as "catching us off guard".

We love him. We'll wait. As long as it takes. He's worth it.

And so yes, back to the 10 virgins waiting the arrival of the bridegroom. The wise ones knew that it was a good idea to put oil in their lamps because they weren't sure of the hour of the bridegroom's coming. Biblically, oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit and most of y'all know what one of my favorite verses in the Word is: "You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:7-Message)

And looka there! None of the virgins knew when the bridegroom was coming but the wise ones had oil. In a spiritual sense, this means that they had the Holy Spirit and the Amplified Version of John 14:26 defines him as being the "Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby)". If you read the rest of that verse, you'll see that the Holy Spirit is to represent Christ and act on his behalf AND teach us *all* things.

The wise virgins had the Spirit.

The foolish ones did not.

Therefore, the wise virgins were ready when the bridegroom came and so they went to the wedding.

The foolish ones were ill-prepared and so they missed out. Yes, *on the wedding*.

Did you notice how the parable ended with *the warning* that we are to be watchful because we do not know when Christ will return? To watch is to be alert and attentive. To watch is to be expectant. To watch is to (catch it) be careful and cautious. To watch is "to keep awake, especially for a purpose; remain vigilant, as for protection or safekeeping" (which is a part of why the Words tell us to be vigilant so that we can be aware to the Enemy's traps-I Peter 5:8). To watch is to "to keep vigil, as for devotional purposes".

Ladies look...

If you know that God promised a husband to you (because remember also that Christ said that if you can *mature to a certain level*, you should get married-Matthew 19:11-12-Message), then you have to *trust him* (Proverbs 3:5-6). You have to be like the wise virgins and listen to the Holy Spirit at all times (I Corinthians 6:16-20) and follow his directives...*at all times*. You have to constantly be open to the preparation process (James 1:4) so that you can be ready for when your beloved arrives. Whenever that is.

See, what a lot of women do is the get desperate, needy and/or compromising because they are so focused on the part of the betrothal that, quite frankly, isn't really their business. It clearly says in the parable that for a season (Ecclesiastes 3), the bridegroom delayed. Yes, the wedding got put off until another time. The wedding was hindered. But that wasn't the virgins' problem or responsibility. All they needed to do was to make sure there were ready once he did arrive.

WHEN our husbands are coming? That's not our problem or responsibility.

All we need to be concerned with is being ready once they arrive.

So, what we need to focus on is being prepared; the timing is between the Spirit and the man.

That's actually why I like Maya's quote (in the pic up top) so much.

Ask for what you want (Matthew 7:7-8).

Be open to what is God's will (Matthew 6:10).

And if that is for you to be married, then be in a *state of preparation*, constantly, so that once "he" is ready to make you his wife, you'll be ready to actually be one (Proverbs 30:10-31).

Just in time, God's time, for your wedding...