The Battles we face

Before I write this excruciatingly personal post, may I begin by saying: I am simply sharing my story, the journey I have walked and the personal decisions I have made in my life – I realise these may be vastly different from anyone reading this, and respect that you may have a different point of view.  My intention is not to judge or assert that my beliefs are somehow ‘right’ or ‘better’… they’re simply the ones I chose to live my life by and have lead me to this point.

{Also, possibly a necessary disclaimer if my mom or dad is reading this… sex may be mentioned during the course of this post – you may want to think about whether you want to continue reading this or not… yip, single Christian girl is talking about sexual desire; can you feel the religious spirits twitch??}

Okay, now that I have your attention…

When I was young, I made a decision to ‘wait for my husband’ in the sense that I wanted to get married as a virgin, in a white dress.  How archaic right? Let me explain my choice: I knew that on my wedding day, standing before the man God had chosen for me, I wouldn’t be able to give him my heart and say he had been the only man I had ever loved. I would be lying. I have given my heart away – wow, I have basically thrown it at men who have either misused it, rejected it or simply been none the wiser; I’ve had my share of heart ache.  No, I knew I couldn’t say I had honoured him alone with my heart… but I could present my body to him and say I had chosen to keep that pure, choosing at times to die to self and all those very human desires (and strangely, creepy offers from both dodgy and slightly appealing men alike) and wait for The One. Yeah, those kind of ideals are great when you meet the love of your life at 18 and get married at 19… but wait I did.

Because I was so resolute in that decision, I believe God really did protect me in many ways. I look back on various situations and relationships and can only explain it as God must have kept me in a protective bubble and shielded me from a lot of temptation. So honestly, I have never really struggled with physical temptations in relationships and the concept of lust was always just slightly well, abstract.  The battle I faced always centered around my heart. I was continually walking a fine line between being content in Jesus and desperately wanting someone to love me; the need for affirmation that I was vaguely lovable was at times incredibly difficult.  And its not often spoken about in church circles, other than very twee comments about Contentment (usually spoken by happily married women who had no clue what it was like to be facing those questions of inadequacy and apparent rejection or worthlessness).

The morning I sent G that PM on Facebook, had begun with my usual ‘tea with Holy Spirit’ on the couch.  As I was spending time with Him, I read a prophetic word Lana Vawser had released that morning, focusing on 2 Chronicles 20:1-29 where the king was facing a battle that he could not win.  Because he chose to honour God and trust Him, he was victorious and reaped incredible rewards.  Lana’s word continued saying that people were entering a season of incredible breakthrough, and that in the very area where God intended ‘spoils’ (treasures), the enemy was trying to steal and destroy.  I heard Holy Spirit say very clearly that the battle I was (and always had been) facing was over my heart… and hence, my finding the courage to obey and send that PM…

What amazed me was the moment I stepped into relationship with G, there seemed to be an acceleration that should have terrified my over-analytical mind – and yet, because I knew this was such a ‘God-thing’, I had the most inexpiable peace. I didn’t have to ‘guard my heart’ (such a well-used Christian phrase) with G – because it was completely lost (found) in Jesus.  I had nothing to fear. I think we had been dating for two weeks when G revealed the depths of his feelings for me – that he was in this for marriage. From that moment onwards, my heart was completely and utterly safe – I had found Home.

And the battle shifted focus. And I realised how the battle for my heart had been child’s play in comparison to what lay ahead of us: the battle for my purity.

Years ago I had highlighted a seemingly random verse in my Bible – Song of Solomons 3:5

“Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”

This verse has often found its way into my thoughts and guided me through many could-be relationships.  But it was only in really ‘relating’ with G, that I was suddenly realizing the wisdom in this verse… awakening love is a very dangerous thing to do – love is powerful and at times, uncontrollable; its a force that can (at times) be overwhelming (I am still referring to the emotion here), and demands a response or physical demonstration – and that’s where, well, the arousal, suddenly became very evident. I will be honest, I was probably just a little smug and over-confident stepping into this relationship; I mean, I had this self-control of physical aspects down right? Oh, so wrong… with Love’s awakening, came the natural desire to express that emotion and suddenly boundaries were being established, pushed, redefined and discussed – continually. And I will admit, I was the one to push the boundaries that bit harder than G ever would – his need to protect me clearly exceeds my own!

May I just throw in a little side-note: we have not lost the battle, but I am constantly aware that we really are in a battle against an enemy who would love to see me and my precious testimony of trusting God with this relationship be destroyed. I am in no way saying we have this boundary/ physical restraint thing sorted – I’m not even claiming I have complete victory in this area.  We struggle on a daily basis.  I am simply speaking what Holy Spirit says to share… and I cringe at the thought that someone is actually possibly reading this?! But the thing is, wanting to express love physically is such a natural desire and I don’t believe its got anything to do with lust (within our context) – we love eachother deeply and it only seems to make sense to me that I would want to give G every possible aspect of my heart, soul and body as an expression of my love for him… but, we are not married.  Yet.

It has become our most repeated saying, that ‘One Day…’ we will enjoy this or that, but not now.  That one moment of instant gratification (even as an expression of honest, pure love) may be amazing in that moment, but when compared to the blessing of Forever beyond marriage, it seems so silly and insignificant.  Together, we have made a commitment to ourselves and to God that we would choose to honour each other (and Him) and our future marriage by waiting for One Day. Is it easy? Definitely not.  Will it be worth it? I really hope so… so, how do we cope?  We communicate: with eachother, with people we walk in accountability with… it never ceases to amaze me that every time something is brought out into the open, it suddenly loses its hold over a person.  Walking in purity means walking in the Light; and constantly being aware that none of this is possible without Holy Spirit’s protection, strength and redemptive grace.

Battle for purity (3 of 3)

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The start of Us…

I started dance classes at the start of the year after I felt Holy Spirit prompt me to ‘start dancing again’. Despite my mother hoping I would meet someone there, it really never crossed my mind that it would actually happen… or what a little rom-com movie cliche I would become…

Initially dancing was just a sub-plot for the amazing adventure I was having with Jesus: learning to dream again, learning to trust and follow His lead, learning to open my heart again to Him and simply fall in love with Him all over again. I felt like I was waking up from a very long sleep… and dancing became a physical expression of what was going on in my life spiritually. I honestly felt like I was blossoming.

Several weeks in and even I noticed the change in me: the joy I experienced through dancing was physically noticable. After dancing one evening, a taxi stopped in front of me and looking at me, smiled and waved me on. People walking past waved. It was crazy. We did the tango one week and being that it was very much in my personal space, I felt I needed to start praying for my instructor… if we were going to be this close, he needed to know Jesus. God gave me a glimpse into the future He had for him, to pray into it on his behalf. Speaking to one of my besties about it later, she smiled and paused before speaking, remarking how I resembled someone who was falling in love. I laughed it off as yes, I was falling in love with Jesus… but couldn’t help but notice how often I caught myself thinking about G, my dance partner…

I dismissed it as a little crush. I have had plenty of those before and figured it would pass soon enough. I mean, come on, it was my dance partner??? A week or two went by and I couldn’t shake the crush. I prayed about it and even asked Holy Spirit to take this silly distraction away; it was getting in the way of my adventure with Jesus. He didn’t. I was going home for the Easter weekend, so decided the roadtrip home would be a good opportunity to hash this out with Holy Spirit… as I even began to broach the topic, I heard Holy Spirit ask me why I thought G couldn’t be God’s choice for me… did I not think him good enough for me? I felt the rebuke but continued to push through the reasons why: he didn’t fit the image of what I thought I wanted in a partner – his job was unconventional, his education so vastly different to my own experience… and then I realised (in a moment of horrible humility) how much importance I had placed in man-made qualifications. I was the materialistic little princess I had judged others for being. I had so much to repent for… the rest of the trip was spent with Holy Spirit reminding me of all my friends (who I would consider to be living God’s best for their lives) and how few (if any) of them had fancy degrees or other man-made titles and fancy jobs. Maybe two of them.

While all of this was taking place, I was smugly holding onto my little trump card: because if he didn’t love Jesus, it was a non-starter. And being the cheeky brat that I am, I told Holy Spirit there was no way I could find that out so oh well…  Facebook stalk him, I heard Holy Spirit say. How unspiritual?? No worries, (I really do argue with God) I don’t know his surname. In that very moment Holy Spirit gave me a word of knowledge  like I had never experienced before… and just a little to my disgust. I hate the idea of stalking people on facebook. But I did… his profile picture was a cross. That says nothing I thought, it could mean anything. A scroll down his page and I saw several very christian looking posts. Never in all my life have I been more disappointed in finding out someone loves Jesus!

After a weekend of grappling with God and my own pride, I had peace in opening my heart to at least a possibility of “something”, should Holy Spirit lead that way… so keeping my heart and mind open, I went to our group dancing class on Wednesday, hoping to see if there really was something between us or if I was just dreaming. He spent the entire evening on the other side of the studio with his back towards me. Once the social had begun, he disappeared completely. My only friend wasnt there and having worked myself up into a nervous panic, I fled. Once in my car, the tears came. Why had I allowed myself to even allow hope in my heart when disappointment was inevitable; I mean wasnt that the story of my life? The worst part was I saw the pity in Jesus’ eyes and felt so dumb, that He had known it would result in this? I sobbed and went to bed feeling utterly foolish.

The next morning I had some repenting to do for my mildly tantrum-like behaviour… while sitting on the floor cutting out a pattern for a new dress, Holy Spirit reminded me of the glimpse He had shown me of G’s future and the word He had given me when I had prayed into it. Share it with him I heard Holy Spirit say. Uh…no?? Going into super spiritual mode, I happily said that would be my deceitful heart and not a good idea. Holy Spirit just laughed at me and said it sounded a lot like me giving way to fear; I needed to overcome that by stepping into that place to find victory. I had no way of contacting G other than possibly sending him a PM via facebook (which would mean admitting that I had stalked him… how humiliating!?). I stalled. I balked. I found any reason not to do it… until I realised it was a matter of obedience and how could any encouragement that pointed someone to Jesus be a bad thing? Even if it meant having to die to my own foolish pride and risk looking a little weird.

I sent the message. I wanted to cry. No reply. For over an hour: no reply. Then… a thumbs up. Hello??? That was probably worse than nothing… and then a longer message came through thanking me for the message and even opening up about its relevance.  Phew. I wasnt about to lose a dance partner?!  And then… we kept chatting… about random stuff via messenger. My car was being serviced, so I was home waiting for the phonecall to tell me to collect it, so when my phone rang, I assumed it was them… until the voice was wrong… it was G, phoning to discuss the competition he had signed us up for… he proceded to sign us up for seven dances. I had prepared myself for three. At the end of the call, he casually asked my age for the competition; my heart stopped. My age has always been an issue so when he laughed and said “wow, you’re almost an old person.” I panicked, babbled something embarrassing and hung up.  On the way to collect my car I had plenty of time to overthink and cringe. Challenging Holy Spirit, I told Him I wanted to know three things: how old he was, what church he went to and if he was single… and I wasnt going to ask. When I arrived at VW, not only did I have a FB friend request, but also a text message, giving me his number to make chatting easier… hmm… so we chatted. For three days straight. Initially it was the easy, getting to know each other type questions… by Friday he had invited himself to visit my church and by the time I had to go to dancing Friday evening, it felt like I knew him a whole lot better – and that there really could be something between us… when I got home, I found a message on my phone “what do you look for in a guy?”

I am not the kind of girl to have a “list” and yet, ironically thats exactly what Holy Spirit had made me compile in January?? So I sent it to him… laughing at how it included “must love dancing” (a month before I even began dancing lessons). He didnt reply. I didnt sleep, overthinking everything. The next morning I eventually received a text message which sounded more like wedding vows than an actual response, speaking about his vision for us as a couple… okay..? We continued to chat and by that evening we had got to the gritty stuff: our pasts and the things we had done. It amazed me at how open he was… and how open I was in return. I am not usually this vulnerable with friends, let alone almost strangers!? By 1am, I knew he was interested when he agreed to do an online personality test for me (I swear by these!) And he was so candid with the results…

Sunday morning he (eventually!!) Invited me to join him for a walk on the beach. I accepted and met him before church. We took a very awkward walk along the beach and sat chatting for a while, and by that I mean he talked and I overthought my entire reason for being there and even questioned how one makes conversation. With time running out, we headed back… one thing lead to the next and before I knew what was going on, he had pulled me towards the waves, spun me around and kissed me. The move was so epic, that I actually laughed at him! But give him credit for a job well done… having left him at the beach, I got to church and promptly freaked out: how unchristian to just allow this guy to kiss me like that?? Wasnt he supposed to pray about our relationship, seek my leaders permission, fast for several weeks, have 3 scriptural confirmations, a prophetic word and some supernatural sign…?? (I joke, but you know what I mean…)

What amazed me was in the moment of freaking out and questioning everything, he remained calm and constant – promising to give me the space I needed, while also promising to draw me back, out of my own fears… I knew beyond doubt, that God had given me an exceptional match.

[Little side-note about how much God loves His little details in writing Love Stories: Dirty Dancing was probably my favourite movie (from the time I was old enough to watch it!), it was the first CD I bought, the theme song has always been one of my favourites (and for a long time accepted as my future First Dance choice)… I watched it shortly after G and I began dating and giggled my way through the similarities.]

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Me before G…

Its a little difficult to know where to begin with this post, because where does one start in introducing themselves? I’m just me

Being a bit of an idealist, I was one of those girls who loved the idea of love – the idea that there was someone out there who God had created with me in mind.  When I was a teenager and it seemed like everybody was falling in love and finding boyfriends, I didn’t quite get it.  What was the point of dating someone if you knew inevitably you would end up with a broken heart at the age of 16? I wanted more; I wanted God’s best for me.  I prayed a seemingly harmless prayer that every aspect of my life (including my future relationship) be extra-ordinary, covered with His fingerprints… I wanted people to look at my life and know there was no way that I could have achieved that in my own strength – it had to be the God that I loved. I had no idea the cost of that prayer!

God is faithful.  And He hears our heart’s desires.  And sometimes it means we have to wait for His perfect timing.  And wow, did I wait. When all my friends seemed to be getting married and moving into the next ‘stage’ of life, I felt like I had been forgotten.  I’m not going to sugar-coat it and say being single was easy and I just embraced the season and loved Jesus (I did.  But there was also a lot of heart struggles and facing many, many insecurities.).  It was tough.  And lonely.  But yes, I did love Jesus and I knew I had trusted Him with this matter and no matter the cost, I was willing to wait for His Best, rather than chase after second-best… believe me, there were times when even I questioned my decision! So by the time I was in my mid-twenties, I had kissed one guy (a moment of boredom one New Year’s Eve which sadly meant absolutely nothing to me) and began dating a man through a set-up by friends.  The relationship was short and possibly borderline unhealthy, but what amazes me (in hindsight) is how protected I was; the most we did (physically) was hold hands – that’s unheard of in adult relationships… especially as he didn’t share my Christian values.

Fast forward a couple of years and I was again single, in my 30s and once again facing all those Identity issues at Jesus’ feet.  I fell into the same trap as many people: I threw myself into my work and church activities.  In many ways, I lost myself to good Christian ‘expectations’. In October last year, God began to speak to me about saying goodbye to old things in order to enter a new season.  Obviously I hoped it would include relationship, but being content in where I was, I simply followed Jesus’ leading and was prepared to go and do what He said.  He spoke to me about living ‘Simply, Slowly, Softly’ – to step back from several unhealthy lifestyle choices which had seen me running about trying to achieve acceptance from the ‘world’ and losing myself in the process.  By stepping back, I was being re-introduced to myself – as God had created me.

At the start of 2018, Jesus spoke quite clearly about hitting a re-set button; that He was going to make changes in my life that would see it vastly different by the end of the year.  The three areas He spoke about quite specifically were church, work and relationships.  I had no idea what that would look like or how He would make it happen, I simply chose to open my heart to His lead, and trust that He would lead me forward.  In spending some time simply sitting at His feet, I asked for insight into the year ahead.  He told me I would dance again – initially I had laughed because although I loved dancing, I had stopped years ago (despite having several prophetic words which always seemed to include the image of Dance).  It took my mother randomly suggesting it for me to really consider the idea.

So the first several weeks of 2018 was a time of Acceleration in Jesus; I felt like I was falling crazily in love with Him and on a massive spiritual growth-spurt.    In the midst of this, I prayed that before God allowed me to experience the love of a man, He would first help me to experience a greater fullness of His perfect love for me – that that would always be my foundation and First Love… that I would never turn to a man for affirmation and love, over Jesus. And that’s what He did. It was amazing.

And then I met G…

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