Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A New Chapter

This post is a bit of a deviation from my normal kind. I am here to inform you ladies of a recent change in my life and ask for your prayers for guidance.

The Lord has been working in my life in many ways and - in the past year - has blessed me with more health and enjoyment of life than I would ever have thought possible. Out of these blessings (of feeling up to doing things again), He has brought many new friends. I am very happy to say that at the end of this past March one of my dear friends and I entered into courtship.

Courtship is not engagement or betrothal, but simply the time wherein two friends commit - not to each other - but to seeking the Lord's will regarding their relationship with each other. There is more openness and trust, but no more physical benefits than a close friendship. A successful courtship is one that determines God's will for the relationship.

Needless to say, this is a very exciting development, and I am enjoying the journey of getting to know this man better. Please do pray for us and our families - that God would bless us with wisdom and strength to do His will and that we would bring Him honor and glory through this relationship.

I appreciate your prayers! :-)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Questions About Struggles

Last Thursday I received this comment on one of my posts. I have sat down several times to respond to it, but it raises some difficult questions and I feel rather out of my league. If any of the older women (or young ladies) have some loving help to give in the comment section I would greatly appreciate it. :-) My attempt at a response is below her comment. :-)

Hello, Joy & All Readers
First of all I just want to say God Bless you and every person that shared their thoughts on this blog! I believe it’s truly important to have these informative blogs that help give guidance to young women, or men; especially in regards to topics like this one.
My name is Beatrice, and I’m 20 years young. I came to God about 2 years ago now. I was raised in the church but strayed for the most part of my teens and came back to Him, only by His mercy; grace; love and will for my life. And I thank Him for that every day. I’ve dealt with low self- esteem; sexual immorality; abuse (both mental and physical) and a number of other things. And I thank God that through all of my faults He’s forgiven me, and forgotten my past and truly helped me to forgive myself, and forget my past as well.
The reason I share all of this with you is I believe it’s important to let you know a little bit about me. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this but it’s been my understanding that through our faith in Jesus Christ we are all a family and apart of one body. So, I feel I can look to you all as my sisters; empty vessels I can trust God to use; to shine any wisdom; knowledge; truth; or any insight He might want myself or any other future reader to receive.
Since I’ve come to God I’ve fallen in Love with Him in a way I never even dreamt possible. He’s truly my best friend and I believe I can tell Him any and everything. And often I’ll wait for His responses to anything I might seek Him for... but in this particular case I’m truly finding it a little difficult because I find myself doing things that I normally wouldn’t. I always bring every inappropriate thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ whenever I realize an inappropriate thought has entered my mind. And at first it was a little difficult for me to remember to bring my thoughts into captivity, and at the same time it was a little embarrassing, because I wasn’t use to bringing these thoughts not only to my attention but to Gods as well. But I consider myself blessed that I was directed to do that because it’s only made my relationship with Him better. So having said all of that (I’m sorry if I’m dragging this out by the way, I’ve never done anything like this before =D) my problem is that I feel this method that I’ve used time and time again isn’t proving itself to be as effective as it is in mostly all other areas of my life where I still use it. And I feel that’s where my worrying is stemming from.

Right now I am worried about two main things. (And I’m going to do my best to make this as short as possible for your convenience and the convenience of other readers =S) I started liking a friend of mine that’s a guy because I wouldn’t stop hearing from everyone including himself just how cute we’d be together. I constantly heard promises of us being married (mind you this is after we both came to God) and how good we would be together. And I distinctly remember shutting those thoughts down immediately. For two main reasons; 1st he and I had a sorted past when we were still of the world; 2nd I didn’t want anyone (family/friend or not) to presume they knew what God’s will was for my life no matter how harmless they thought their comments were (there is power in the tongue and I had an eerie feeling about that notion whenever it would come up) but for months people (both family and friends) kept putting that notion of my friend and I being together, out into my sphere of influence. And as I mentioned earlier I had low-self esteem issues growing up, and only recently started truly dealing with it and getting to the root of the cause. (I would draw to those who would show interest in me; not all of the time but 80% of the time I did and maybe 20% of the time I didn’t) So before you knew it feelings for my guy friend manifested and no matter how long I would pray, fast, and plea to God to take them away, they wouldn’t budge. Months later when I was questioned by him to see if I liked him; I found out he’d only been saying that he thought it would be cute to see us together; but didn’t really mean it (mind you he said he didn’t mean it after I’d taken a bold step with God and decided to shave my hair off for reasons He’s still explaining to me to this very day. The decision to take that step was mainly to honour how God sees me over the eyes of everyone else, including myself. I believe God needed to start a healing process and He knows how to heal each and every one of us in our own unique way). Nonetheless you can imagine my heartbreak; anger; and frustration. I hadn’t asked for this, I didn’t want to feel this way, and about my friend that I didn’t even like in the first place; at times it was so depressing.
But through all of that God released loads of peace and happiness into my life, so much so that after some months had passed I truly felt healed of the heartbreak I thought I’d experienced. And then the unthinkable happened... the feelings returned. And they couldn’t have come at a worse time.
This leads me to the pinnacle of my blog response... I’m working at a new job and I realized only a few shifts in that this particular job isn’t right for me. (I couldn’t have come to this realization at a better time, because this past January 2011 I just started training in my schools post secondary culinary arts program. And I’m sure you’ve already guessed that the job I got was in of course a kitchen... =D)

About a couple weeks after I realized that I do in fact love to cook food, there is something very satisfying about the end result, and a snapshot that just go hand in hand; however to pursue this as a career where I’d have to make further financial investments into the culinary institute I was currently registered in for semesters that would follow my current one... that I just can’t see happening.
So as you can imagine I’ve found myself in a sticky situation because, I want to go where ever I believe God wants me; trying to be obedient to any of His calls is of the upmost importance to me. Being obedient to His directions has helped not only me but others as well. So with faith I’d like to believe that I’ve been following Him according to His will for my life; trusting that even through my mistakes He will still receive the glory from the decisions I make unto Him.

As a result I’m a progressive dropout student; with a willingness to go or do anything I believe is Gods will for my life; however this is my actual conundrum... this place I started working at has a male line cook I find myself attracted to... and the upsetting thing is he’s not even a godly man, and from what I’ve gathered he’s not trying to be. And you’d think this would probably help me loose the attraction towards him almost instantaneously, but it’s not and it’s troubling me a lot because along with that about a week and a half ago I had an inappropriate thought about my co-worker and myself, and as God is my witness that hasn’t happened to me in almost 2 years....
I believe I handled that specific situation as best as I could, because I confessed my troubles to my sister and brother and asked them to pray for me so that I might be healed. And I just thank God with all of my heart because almost instantly it was like there was a block on my mind; like a wall separating my thoughts. Placing the improper thoughts on a side where they seemed blurry and couldn’t enter into my mind; it was almost like the thought was forgotten, you know?
But anyhow now I’m not quite sure what to do. My feelings for my guy friend seemed to have returned, accompanying the new feelings I have for my co-worker. And I’ve been seriously considering asking for a transfer; and that bothers me for 3 distinct reasons. 1st I was just hired and I don’t like the idea of asking to move to another location when they hired me at this specific location because they needed me there; and I believe God placed me there for a reason. 2nd I feel like I’d mainly be transferring because I’m trying to get away from this individual; which is madness because I shouldn’t be runny from anything; God didn’t give me the spirit of fear, but of peace and a sound mind. And the 3rd reason I’m troubled is this new location I’d be asking for the possible transfer to is sort of close to my original residence in another city; and they haven’t opened yet; they’ll be opening anywhere from a few weeks to a couple months maybe.

I can’t believe how much I wrote I’m so sorry. I really just wanted to make sure I gave you as much information as possible; so that it would help with whatever advice you feel led to give me; or anyone else for that matter. I just want to thank you again for taking the time to read all of this, and I hope God gives you a word that you can pass on to me, or anyone else in my situation that will help through what I can only assume is a growing process.
Take Care and God Bless; I hope to hear from you soon.

P.s this is my email address just in case... Beat_rice_13@hotmail.com

Dear Beatrice,

First I'd like to say thank you so much for everything that you shared! :-) I (and I'm sure everyone else who has had the opportunity to read about your experiences) feel honored by your trust and sincerely hope and pray that God will use us to bless and help you!

That being said, I cannot tell you what you should do in your specific situation - only God can do that and it does sound as though you are seeking His will. However, I can share some Bible verses and general principles that may be helpful to be reminded of.

"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.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you." - Philippians 4:6-9

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints" Ephesians 6:11-28

I don't know what other posts on this blog that you have read, but anything else that I would say to you would be included in my post "Lily Among Thorns - Part 2"

In that post you can be directed to other places where I've shared the things that have helped me in the area of mental purity. The most important thing that I would say is to keep your eyes on God through reading His Word and spending time alone in prayer with Him.

My dear sister, you have done the right thing in seeking Godly accountability, praying, and in being constant in the battle of your heart and mind. It will always be a battle, but by God's grace you will prevail - through Christ we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). Just remember that just because it is a struggle does not mean that it is a sin - Jesus Christ was sinless, and yet was faced temptation. It is what we do with the temptation that is important and will decide if we are keeping in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26 ) or the flesh.

One last Bible verse that I would like to share with you is 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
"And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Continue to turn to the Lord in your weakness, that His strength may be perfected in you! :-)

I will be praying for you, for encouragement, wisdom, and strength! May God bless you! If you think of it, I would love to hear from you - how you are doing and any updates on your current situation.

in Christ's love,