Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"On Fire": Relationships Require MUTUAL SELF-CONFIDENCE

This morning...

I was talking to my Baba (my mother's husband) about relationships. Almost every time the topic comes up, he says something that I find myself jotting down. This time, it was this:

"A lot of people focus on what is in their bank account without thinking about what is in their 'emotional bank'. And what they don't realize is that in a marriage, withdrawals are made from their spouse, emotionally, every day. While people are single, their emotional state is what they need to really think about."

Good stuff...

While I was running errands, I gave that even more thought because if there's one thing that I realize is a "common thread of lack" with a lot of married couples that I deal with is the fact that one or both people failed to go into their marriage as emotionally healthy individuals. And one of the traits of that is having *self-confidence*.

Before we get into all of that, let's explore what some of the signs of an emotionally healthy person are (these are excerpts):

You treat others well. Viewing other people with compassion and treating them with kindness is a hallmark of your own well-being.

You like who you are. When you're emotionally healthy, you generally feel pretty good about who you are. You know yourself -- foibles, quirks and strengths and you're okay with what's inside. You're also congruent: congruency means that the person you show to the outside world is reflective of who you are on the inside.  

You're flexible. People who have emotional wellness have an ability to adapt to all kinds of situations that life throws at us. You're able to assess a situation mindfully -- you notice your surroundings, your emotions and other's reactions to a given situation -- and then you use these factors to decide what the best course of action is. 

You hold gratitude for your loved ones. If you're emotionally healthy, it's likely you easily feel and show gratitude for the people and the things in your life. Holding gratitude is a way of purposefully looking at your life with a sense of appreciation for what you have, rather than focusing on what you are lacking. And indeed, research has shown that counting your blessings has strong benefits for emotional well-being.

You're in touch with your emotions. Another sign of emotional wellness is that you embrace your emotions -- sadness, anger, anxiety, joy, fear, excitement -- as a natural and normal part of life. You handle and acknowledge your difficult emotions without becoming overwhelmed by them or by denying that your emotions exist. You know it's normal to have periods of stress, you know how to manage and express yourself when you feel upset, and you know who you can go to get comfort or help. 

You have meaning in your life. Leading a purposeful life is about having a passion, a mission or larger meaning to your life. This happens when you use your strengths to help something you believe in.  

You value experiences more than possessions. The final component is considering the types of values you have in life. People who tend to highly value attaining wealth, popularity, or attractiveness tend to be less well-off emotionally than people who value self-fulfillment and being there for others. This means that while you might have goals for career and financial security, you also may highly value time with your family and friends. Additionally, people with high levels of well-being tend to spend their money on experiences, like going to a concert or going on a trip, rather than material possessions such as clothes or furniture.

One of the things that the author of Conversations with God says in his book is “The purpose of a relationship is not to have another who might complete you; but to have another with whom you might share your completeness.” And you know what? If you don't like who you are, if you're not in touch with your emotions (including if you're erratic when it comes to dealing with your emotions), if you seem to believe that the only way your life will have meaning is if you have a husband to share it with, there is a lot more "completing" that needs to be done...there is a lot more that needs to go into your "emotional bank".

After all, you need to be in a position in your life where you're sharing "the surplus of your love", not grasping at another person so that they can "fill up your tank". That's too much pressure for any human being to have to deal with.

For the record, confidence is not arrogance. In fact, *arrogance is confidence's counterfeit*. Confident first means "having strong belief or full assurance; sure". And so, in order to develop a healthy sense of self-confidence, it's important to first do what King David resolved within himself: "But I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord; I said, You are my God." (Psalm 31:14-AMP) When it comes to your health, your job and most certainly the one who is best for you, you're going to need to love God with your all (Mark 12:30-31) and then have confidence in his abilities bless you abundantly (Ephesians 3:20-21). You also have to have enough confidence to *be content* (Hebrews 13:5) with where you are in the meantime. The Word does tell us that patience leads to completion (James 1:4). Patience requires getting on God's timetable and off of your own clock (Acts 1:7-Message, Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Another definition of confident is "sure of oneself; having no uncertainty about one's own abilities, correctness, successfulness, etc.; self-confident; bold". Again, being confident doesn't mean you lack humility (in fact, humility is what elevates you--Luke 14:11). At the same time, being humble doesn't mean that you cannot (or should not) be confident. From a spiritual perspective, being sure of yourself is simply being aware of the fact that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), that you were fashioned individually (Psalm 33:15), that you have your own calling (Romans 11:29) and purpose (Psalm 20:4), that you have spiritual gifts and talents, that you were created to be truly special (I Peter 2:9-10) and that God loves you (Jeremiah 31:3).

When you're sure of these things, *when you're really sure*, it helps you to make wiser choices...

This includes when it comes to choosing a mate.

This brings me to an interview that I recently read and a quote that came from actress Scarlett Johansson. She was commenting on why some relationships do not last. This part, I found to be particularly interesting:

"[Marriage] takes a lot of work," the 30-year-old actress continued. "It takes a man who's not only confident in the love that you have for one another, but confident in what he has going on in his own career. He has to be in a field that's completely different from yours." 

As far as marriages not working unless the spouses are in a different field/industry, personally, I don't think that automatically applies across the board. I know some couples who not only work in the same field but also run businesses together and they've been able to make it work. Not only work, but thrive. What I do wholeheartedly agree with is it can be hard to separate home and business and even to even have a sense of competitiveness if both people are doing the same thing.

That said...

Actually, what I think is really important is what she said about confidence. That when you're married (shoot, even when you're in a serious relationship with a man), it's important that he's confident about his love for you; that he has *absolutely no uncertainty about that* and that you have no lack of confidence in your love for him either.

Not the "movie kind of love".
The *biblical kind of love*:

"Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]."---I Corinthians 13:4-8(AMP)

Be confident that you're willing to be patient with one another.
Be confident that you're secure enough to not be jealous.
Be confident that you will stand up for what's right, not what's wrong.
Be confident that the two of you will support one another through it all.
Be confident that your love will not fail. No matter what.

And yes, for a relationship to go well, it's also important to be confident in one's purpose...

As it relates to men, a part of the reason why *it's so important* to only consider a serious dating/courtship relationship with someone who has a relationship with God first and clarity of their purpose (along with a willingness to fulfill it) second (remember Adam had both of those things) is because that is what helps to develop a man's confidence. It's what helps them to have a healthier sense of self which makes it easier for them to love you---more and better.

And as a divine helper (Genesis 2:18-AMP), you are able to bring more to the relationship when you *also* have a strong relationship with God first and a clarity about your purpose second. If you're single right now and you're not *confident* in these things...this would be the time to focus your attention on both.

It's close to impossible to love well with low self-esteem, after all...

And just how do you increase your self-confidence? Well, other than getting closer to God and growing in your purpose, when you get a chance, check out the article "25 Killer Actions to Boost Your Self-Confidence". Here are five of its points:

Dress nicely. A corollary of the first item above … if you dress nicely, you’ll feel good about yourself. You’ll feel successful and presentable and ready to tackle the world. Now, dressing nicely means something different for everyone … it doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a $500 outfit, but could mean casual clothes that are nice looking and presentable.

Get to know yourself. When going into battle, the wisest general learns to know his enemy very, very well. You can’t defeat the enemy without knowing him. And when you’re trying to overcome a negative self-image and replace it with self-confidence, your enemy is yourself. Get to know yourself well. Start listening to your thoughts. Start writing a journal about yourself, and about the thoughts you have about yourself, and analyzing why you have such negative thoughts. And then think about the good things about yourself, the things you can do well, the things you like. Start thinking about your limitations, and whether they’re real limitations or just ones you’ve allowed to be placed there, artificially. Dig deep within yourself, and you’ll come out (eventually) with even greater self-confidence.

Know your principles and live them. What are the principles upon which your life is built? If you don’t know, you will have trouble, because your life will feel directionless. For myself, I try to live the Golden Rule (and fail often). This is my key principle, and I try to live my life in accordance with it. I have others, but they are mostly in some way related to this rule (the major exception being to “Live my Passion”). Think about your principles … you might have them but perhaps you haven’t given them much thought. Now think about whether you actually live these principles, or if you just believe in them but don’t act on them.

Change a small habit. Not a big one, like quitting smoking. Just a small one, like writing things down. Or waking up 10 minutes earlier. Or drinking a glass of water when you wake up. Something small that you know you can do. Do it for a month. When you’ve accomplished it, you’ll feel like a million bucks.

Focus on solutions. If you are a complainer, or focus on problems, change your focus now. Focusing on solutions instead of problems is one of the best things you can do for your confidence and your career. “I’m fat and lazy!” So how can you solve that? “But I can’t motivate myself!” So how can you solve that? “But I have no energy!” So what’s the solution?

For the record, the opposite of confident is insecure and here are some of the synonyms of that word:


What sounds healthy about being in a relationship with someone who is like that?!?

Relationships, especially marriages, need two self-confident people in them.

Grow in your own confidence...
And don't settle for anything less than a man who is self-confident too.




Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"On Fire": Beware of the COUNTERFEIT(S)

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"And Jesus answered and said to them: 'Take heed that no one deceives you.'"---Matthew 24:4(NKJV)


So as I was doing additional research for my single male friend (per the message below this), another website had a similar piece on praying for your future spouse. It's entitled "3 Prayers Your Future Spouse Needs You to Pray" It provided three main points and I really liked the third one. It reminded me of something that I have shared several times here that my mother's husband says:

"Satan is not so much in the business of breaking marriages up as he is in putting the wrong two people together to begin with."

Amen. And amen! 

This brings us to the third point from the piece:

3. Protection from Counterfeits

Proverbs 16:25, There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

A counterfeit is someone that comes very closely to the real thing, but isn’t. They may be attractive, but a bum that doesn’t want to work. Or, a well established person making great money, but doesn’t have an active relationship with God. This prayer came more because I was beginning to recognize counterfeits arising in my life. Women who peaked my curiosity, but there was no peace to pursue. If I would have been anxious, I would have possibly pursued them.  But, I felt the confidence to wait on God. Now, being married, and hearing my wife say she prayed this over me gives me confirmation I had help. My wife has many stories of guys being interested in her, but she turned them all down either because of dreams from God, an unsettlement in her spirit, or the relationship not progressing. I was my wife’s first committed relationship, her first kiss, and the rest is history. Those prayers worked! 

Good stuff! I really like that the author said he looked for peace as a sign to move forward in a relationship and that anxiety should be seen and treated as a blaring dating/courting red flag. It's biblical:

"Mixed motives twist life into tangles; pure motives take you straight down the road."---Proverbs 21:8(Message)

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."---Philippians 4:6-7(NKJV) 

When it comes to desiring a life partner, it's always a good idea to ask God to reveal to you your *true motives* for wanting one. Some of the delay may be connected to this: "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." (James 4:3-NKJV) If wanting to be married is simply about what you want---your hormones, your loneliness, your need for attention/affection, your longing for children, *your, your, your*---there could very well be a hold up by God's design (Acts 1:7-Message, Ecclesiastes 3:11) and praise the Lord for it! The first definition of a wife is *helper* (Genesis 2:18). That's our first indication that marriage ain't all about us. No, not by a long shot!

And yes, if you are dating or even wanting to date and you know that anxiety (distress or uneasiness of mind, eagerness) is at the root, the Word tells us that is not a good or clear indication that you should be in a relationship. *The peace of God* is to guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) and mind so that you can make a wise mate selection. In fact, some of the antonyms for anxiety are serenity, tranquility and (get this) *certainty*. If there's anything God wants you to have about your future husband, it's certainty. If you're not feeling that, something is not...good.

And if a relationship has recently come to an end because you were unsure about it, seek God (James 1:5) and wise counsel (Proverbs 24:6) to make sure that other internal issues (such as many fear--I John 4:18) did not come into play. However, if it came to an end simply because it was the wrong person or the wrong time, well, keep this quote close by:

So, back to the word "counterfeit"...

There are a few things that should be kept in mind about counterfeits. First, Satan is BIG on using them in his strategems. We know this because Isaiah 14:12(NKJV) says "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!" and Luke 10:18(NKJV) says "And He said to them, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.'" (By the way, Jay Z and Kanye once did a song called "Lucifer" with these references.) Lucifer was the son of the morning. After his demotion (Ezekiel 28), he then became the thief (John 10:10), the devourer (I Peter 5:8) and the Liar (John 8:44). 

Ladies, this is Satan's agenda: to take from you what is rightfully (God's will) yours, to devour what is best for your life and to present lies to you to keep you from God's will and desires for you. Hence him being a counterfeit and presenting counterfeits: "And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14-NKJV) 
When it comes to Satan, just because he "appears" as an angel of light...
That doesn't make it so.

And just because a man, on the surface may *appear* to be the one for you...
That doesn't automatically make it so either.

So, how can you know? Let's look at what counterfeit means:

Counterfeit: made in imitation so as to be passed off fraudulently or deceptively as genuine; not genuine; forged; pretended; unreal

Genuine: possessing the claimed or attributed character, quality, or origin; not counterfeit; authentic; real; free from pretense, affectation, or hypocrisy; sincere 

Hypocrite: a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess; a pretense of having some desirable or publicly approved attitude

Yes, yes. The definitions basically preach for themselves!

The Word tells us what a husband is supposed to do:

He is supposed to love us (and I Corinthians 13:4-8 tells us what that looks like).
(Ephesians 5:33)

He is supposed to nourish and cherish us.
(Ephesians 5:29)

He is supposed to provide for us (since he's supposed to love us as Christ loved the Church).
(John 14:1-6)

He is supposed to dwell with us according to understanding.
(I Peter 3:7)

He is supposed to be affectionate towards us.
(I Corinthians 7:3) 

He is supposed to be *mature enough for marriage*.
(Matthew 19:11-12) 

He is supposed to honor the fact that *God hates divorce*.

(Malachi 2:16)

He is supposed to avoid casual sex and then be quite sexual in marriage (just sayin').
(I Corinthians 6:16-20-Message, I Corinthians 7:5)

He is supposed to know that he found a good thing (and when you know that, you treat things and people accordingly).
(Proverbs 18:22)

He is supposed to praise his good thing too.
(Proverbs 31:30)

And that character and hypocrite thing? Yeah, the Word takes care of those things as well:

In the New King James Version, this Scripture is entitled "Character of a New Man":

"Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper].

Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].

And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony].

And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].

Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts.

And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him."---Colossians 3:12-17(AMP)

A *genuine man* will not be perfect (some of us want the kind of person we ourselves are not; that's a form of self-deception). He will, however, strive to have a godly character, though. He will be sincere. He will be authentic. *He will be real*. Both in public and in private.

And as far as hypocrisy:

"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. Therefore

'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.'

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."---Romans 12:9-21(NKJV)

A hypocrite is someone who is pretentious. 
A hypocrite cares more about how things appear in public than how they actually are.

Romans 12 tells us what godly living looks like...

It clings to what's good and loathes what is evil.
It is kind and affectionate. (My mom always say a kind man is an awesome man!)
It is humble.
It has a heart for serving God.
It is patient under trial.
It is steadfast in prayer.
It is willing to care for the needs of the saints.
It is hospitable.
It is empathetic.
It is not vengeful.
It treats its enemies well.
It uses good and not evil to "fight its battles" (Ephesians 6:10-20).

We need to keep this in mind ourselves to make sure that we are truly preparing to be godly wife.

Yet as you're spending time pondering (Proverbs 4:26) and praying (I Thessalonians 5:17) about your future husband, please (PLEASE) take all of this into account.

Ask God to reveal to you if you are more prone to counterfeits. 
The frauds.
The deceivers.
The ones who are meant to keep you from God's best.


Ask God to keep you from being anxious so that you don't overlook the real thing.
And in all that you say and do, let the peace of God be your guide.

When you're *real with yourself*, it's harder for the fake dudes to get-at-you anyway.

And besides...

You deserve a man who loves God and loves you---*for real*!!!

Amen? Amen.



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

An Ounce of Prevention: '14-Day Prayers for Your Future Husband (and Prayers for Yourself) Project'


As I was doing some research for a single male friend of mine who is gearing up to pray for his future wife, I "happened upon" (Proverbs 16:33-AMP) a site that has 14 days of prayers for single women who want to pray for their future husband and also 14 days of prayer for single women who desire to further prepare to become their man's future wife.

I'm actually going to start with the instructions for praying about preparing to be a wife:

Step 1. There are 14 payers for you to pray for your future as a wife for 14 days.

Step 2. We want you as the reader, to read it,

Step 3. Pray it, and

Step 4. Write/or pray it in your own words.

Step 5. Save them in a special box for after you are married and need to be reminded of what you envisioned for your future as a wife.

It’s good to be in prayer for our character development and transition into marriage. I don’t know if you or I are called to be single all of our lives, but I feel that this is a thing that I should be in prayer about. Recently, we did a 2 week journey called “Prayers for our Future Husbands” it seemed only fitting that we pray for ourselves as future wives as well. A young woman commented on the page and suggested that we also pray those prayers for ourselves as future wives as well, which actually sparked the idea for this journey!

We do not pray selfishly for ourselves during the next 2 weeks, but with a godly mindset, asking fervently for help from God to become the women he designed us to be, praying to become the help-meets that He has in mind for our future beloveds. After the 14 day prayer journey, we do not need to stop praying for our lives as future wives; we can continue every day, asking God to help us become the women that our future husbands need by their sides.

We are so excited to get started! We hope to see you join us. Thank you for your support and love. God bless!

The Day One Prayer says this:

Day 1

Dear Lord, I know that I am your daughter. You are the prefect Father and I could not ask for a better protector! I know that you have picked out the man that you want me to marry. You know his name, what he looks like, how he acts, his personality, his past and future flaws, and you are saving me for him. I know he will not be perfect and I know that I am not perfect. But I know that you are molding me into the kind of woman that my future husband needs.

Lord, I ask that you build in me the kind of characteristics that will support my husband and his ambitions and dreams. Help me to learn how to come alongside of him with a servants heart and with wisdom in how to be his right hand. I want to encourage bless, serve and obey my future husband in all matters. Please prepare me and equip me for this task while I am not yet married Jesus.

Thank you for training me Lord. Help me to accept any change that might take place while you are creating me to be a future Help-Meet. I love you Lord, Amen.

Day Two Prayer says this:

Day 2

Dear Lord, help me to cultivate an attitude of humility in my life. Don’t let me ever fall into a mindset of entitlement. Please help everything I do to flow from a heart of gratitude. I ask that you would show me how to put my future husband first.

Help me to be free from selfishness in all the relationships in my life, but especially in my future marriage. Show me how to live with a love like you have. Help me to prepare to purposefully search out ways to show my husband your sacrificial love. Amen.

It really is a very sweet project and journey. You can see all of the prayers here.

As for the prayers for your future husband, the instructions are basically the same. Here are Day One and Day Two prayers:

Day 1

Lord, I don’t know who my future husband will be but you do. So I willingly trust you with my life and his. I want to lift my future husband up to you this weekend Lord. Please give him a great weekend! Help him to enjoy his friends and family. Give him peace and rest from the hard work week. Help him to keep his eyes on you and to encounter your presence in a whole new way! I pray that he would be able to make the right choices and decisions when it comes to his plans this weekend. Help him to be a light and shining example to his friends this weekend. Lord, whatever he does let it be a reflection of his love for you and may he bring you glory. Please help him know you love him and are looking out for him. Thank you Jesus. I love you and want to bring You and my future husband honor.  Amen.

Day 2

Lord, please bless my future husband today with the gift of friends. Please bring him godly mentors and companions that will spur him on in the pursuit of godliness. I pray especially that he would have examples of godly men to look up to. I ask that You would give him friends his own age who are seeking You with their lives. Please help him to be surrounded with the people that will draw him nearer to You and not farther away. And please give him friends that will bring laughter and joy into his life. Amen.

You can read all of the prayers here.

If you've been feeling compelled to do some (additional) ministering to your future beloved via prayer, hopefully these projects are an answer to prayer. ;-)