Friday, November 22, 2013

The Wellspring

Wanna change it up a little this week?

We've had a heavy few weeks together, so I figure we could shake it up just a bit.  I had another topic in mind actually, but after a series of conversations this week (one with my 7 year old) this post just kind of developed and I had a little fun with it.  You all know a lot about my life right now- that I have a lot of kids, my passions, my illness, that I was homeschooling, that I love Jesus, how my husband and I are in ministry...but it occurred to me that I do not share a whole lot about any of my past life experiences with you.  I- like many of you- learned and grew from the things I went through and experienced in my life.  Some things are very personal and may never appear here.  But other things are meant to be shared and can be just as valuable being shared as they were having been lived through.

My dating history...that was the topic that came up!  My son Anthony asked me how I knew that Jeff was the one that God wanted me to marry.  He said if there were other men that had jobs, loved Jesus, and treated me like a lady then why didn't marry them instead?  (By the way, this was the basic criteria I gave him for how he is to know when he is ready to be a good husband.)  So this led to a conversation in which I told him my very basic dating history and how I knew that his daddy was the one for me.

Ever since I was little I loved boys.  I even had a crush on my uncle when I was growing up.  I just loved everything about them- their look, their confidence, the way they made me feel protected and safe.  I love the way men think, and respond, and react, and converse.  The way they always seem so sure and focused and the way they make women feel special and feminine.  It's the way God made it- men and women are complete opposites and were designed to bring out things in each other that otherwise would lay dormant.  Some women are more alive to their feminine side then others and I happened to be one of those.  I enjoyed the presence of men because it made me feel safe and feminine.  I think this is coming off creepy, but I assure you I was going for poetic.

I just was always very comfortable with who I was and I always knew myself and what I was and wasn't willing to do.  If there was ever any pressure to conform it never made it my way- conforming has never been my style.  I have no hesitation sharing with you that I waited until my wedding night to have sex.  I kissed one other boy before Jeff.  I did struggle in my teenage years with being too flirtatious- I am naturally a very touchy-feely person and sometimes I would cross the line.  I spent many nights crying and praying and repenting, vowing never to speak to a boy again or making rules about how I would only shake a boy's hand or whatever.  But eventually I learned balance both in my life and in my heart.

In fact I am still like that to this day, only I've figured out how it looks as a mature, married woman.  I find great joy in an embrace or in a smile.  I love being in mixed company and enjoying the dynamic that men and women bring to the table together.  I appreciate a when a gentleman opens a door for me or offers his arm when I am having trouble walking and Jeff is not around.  I appreciate when men instinctively get protective of us women.  After all these years, and after ten years of being married I still have so much appreciation for God's creation called "man."

I dated two men before Jeff, one was very casual and one was more serious.  I will not reveal names out of respect to these gentlemen.  Both of these relationships were wonderful experiences in that they were pure and they were with respectable men.  The first one was casual and I was 15 or 16- it lasted about a year and I was very, very clueless and he was a bit older then me.  At the time I loved him, but it was not a real relationship- I did not know how to properly communicate nor did I know how to expect proper communication in return.  I was not happy with how it ended, as it was one of those "just kind of fizzled out on his part" endings, which is a real killer for emotionally invested people like me.  But over time, it was an easy wound to heal because it was not as deep as I thought and after a while I was able to see him many times and genuinely give a smile and have a real conversation.

As for the serious one, that was also with a godly man who was a bit older than me.  I was 17 and we dated about a year and a half.  That was more complicated as it was my first and only other real relationship.  He was a very respectable man who loved the Lord, and by all accounts it seemed as if we were a good match.  However, some things you can just work so hard at and they still can just not work out.  I worked very, very hard in that relationship.  I gave it all that I had.  There comes a point where you just have to make a decision.  I could have married this man- there was nothing stopping me as far as big lightening bolts from God.  But there was just nothing on the other side either, and I wanted more.  I just began to feel that it was too much work and if it was that much work in the dating stage, then how much more would it be later on?  I know love is more then just romance and feelings- but I did want that to be a part of it.  And if, after everything I did to try and make it work I still cold not be who he wanted, then it was time to make the decision.  I concluded that I simply was not the woman he was looking for.  That as great as we each were individually, we just were not great as a couple- and as scary as it was to change the way I thought my future was supposed to look, I said goodbye to the man I thought I would marry.

I will admit to having a slight rebound stage.  I thought I was ok after it ended, but I did struggle with some anger in the following few months.  I was angry that I stayed in the relationship for so long knowing deep in my gut that I was not what he wanted.  I was angry at myself for allowing somebody to subtly change me and for allowing myself to feel not good enough.  I was angry that I started to actually believe I was not good enough.  So I decided to ride that anger out for a few weeks and did some questionable things (no, nothing major lol).  I rode a few roller coasters (which I am deathly afraid of), slacked on my school work (of which I am not proud of), and after a month or two the anger subsided and I realized that maybe I made a mistake or two along the way but I really had very few regrets.

Because when you live for the Lord even when things don't go as planned your heart has a way of being ok.  My heart was safe because I only gave a small, guarded portion of it away.  As for my body, I gave none of that away.  We shared conversation and prayer, times of laughter and times of working through disagreements.  And when it ended, yes I had to work through anger and disappointment, but those things were quick to heal because the wounds were only allowed to go as deep as I would allow myself to be put out there.  There is an epidemic in our culture and people are literally bleeding to death- if you give the entirety of yourself to someone who has not vowed to honor and protect you, then there is a good chance they will hurt you- very, very deeply.  And it will cut you to the depths of which you allowed yourself to be given to them.

After those two experiences I started dating Jeff and I was very much whole.  Everything was different about my relationship with him, and that is what I was explaining to my son.  The Lord showed me and guided me to the person with whom I was supposed to be with.  Because I had ears to hear and a heart that was trained over many years to listen to the leading of the spirit, I knew when He was speaking.  I had a lot to give to Jeff because I did not give myself away to many others.

It is a hard thing to try and explain to my son...not because it's complicated but because it is so simple.  And I know once he gets out there the world will do it's best to complicate things.  Sex.  Lust.  In love.  Passion.  Follow your heart.  Try it before you buy it.  Hollywood.

But my son has a heritage now.  I have placed the first stone on which he can build on.  I will tell him my story over and over until he hears and believes and knows that YES it is possible to live purely and to have relationships in which there is mutual respect and God honoring principles.  And I was not perfect- I hope my children do better than me.  But it's a's a great start.

So now you know a little about me and my dating history and just how important I believe it is to hold on to and protect your purity and your heart.  That is not just for single people.  As a married woman I open myself up to people on a daily basis- I believe there is nothing greater than loving someone.  To open your world and your life to a person and show kindness, laughter and love.  But even though I am not in the dating scenario it is still vital that I remember to keep my heart protected and fixed on the Lord.  To not let my own emotions cloud His perfect wisdom.  Getting swept up emotionally does not just apply to dating- it applies to all areas of life.  We lead our hearts, we do not follow them.  And we need to take great care to lead our hears in all purity, making sure that our decisions are being made based on true, pure, Christ-like love rather than selfish love that has our own motives at heart.

Life is full of situations that are neither here nor there- and you don't have to fear them.  It's ok to experience life.  You don't have to be afraid of heartbreak if you learn the valuable lesson of guarding your heart the right way.  Not in the bitter, closed off way- but walking in the way of wisdom.  I love.  I truly love people  and experiences and I am open to everything God wants to bring into my life...but my God has also taught me to be wise.  That I do not have to sacrifice my beautiful vulnerability out of fear of getting hurt.  Simply walk in wisdom, make God honoring choices, and then you can be free to open yourself up to life and love knowing that whatever experience comes from it, will be one you can learn and grow from.

This is a really unique post for me but every once and a while I just need to mix it up...and I did enjoy this  I get tired of being me, you probably need a break from me anyway and it's just all around necessary to shift gears.  Next week I will be giving you some medical updates, as I know I am due to tell you what's been going on and where I am at right now.  So we shall chat a bit about that and see where the keystrokes take us, yes?

Enjoy your week, take the time to see the beauty of the life that is around you- you may be surprised at all the love there is to find if you are open to seeing it.  Just use wisdom and remember to "...guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23

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