Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What Is Love?

A proper understanding of what love is is necessary before entering into a romantic relationship. Not having a good understanding of what love is and looks like, has us placing ourselves in hurtful situations, time and time again. Therefore giving the enemy a foothold in our lives to destruct our relationships (and friendships).

I went to look into the definition of love (both in the dictionary and in the Strong's concordance) to get into this a little deeper. (Side-note: try to never assume you know everything about a thing when going into studying, especially Gods word since He is a multifaceted God. This leaves plenty room for Him to pour into our spirits and grow.) So although some of you may be thinking to yourselves, 'yeah I know what love is. What's your point?'. My point is this: to show the conflicting perception the world has of what love is and how the worlds view has infiltrated many Christians views of love, versus the truth about love.

Now this post may seem mundane or simple to some who have heard similar teachings, sermons, or discussions on this. Nevertheless it seems to be a reoccurring issue within the Church or Kingdom of God. Gods children should be upholding themselves better and maintaining a proper representation of who Christ is in the earth. So I'm using this as an opportunity to go over some of the most basics fundamentals for a Holy Spirit led, faith based relationship.

PAUSE. You might not have had pre marital sex at all or you've maintained abstinence for quite some time. Just sit tight. I'll be addressing various issues and insight on relationships here.

Love waits.  
Merriam Webster's definition of love is this: (n)
: a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person
: attraction that includes sexual desire : the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship
: a person you love in a romantic way

Okay, I don't know about you all but the fact that love's definition is intertwined with a sexual desire for another is disturbing to me. I'm definitely not saying there's anything wrong with desiring someone in a sexual manner. The problem lies within this being the sole or main reason why we consider ourselves "in love" or loving someone. If anything this should be on the back burner of what we are concerned with when entering into a relationship. Anyone with an once of wisdom will confirm to you that sex OUTSIDE MARRIAGE ruins a relationship. There's a reason why sex was meant to be made between a man and woman, in a marriage. The effects that sex has on us is deep! This is why people have emotional and mental issues and insecurities when they have engaged in sex outside marriage. Sex was meant as a means to SEAL the exchange of wedding vows, not only symbolically becoming one with the other but spiritually becoming one in spirit. Our spirits and souls spiritually become one once we lay with another. So when people engage in this outside of marriage, the after effects are damaging. Allowing ourselves to become one with someone we are not married to induces insecurities that mess with us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Not to mention that if we are truly Christians, as I'm assuming most of you are reading this, then we would concern ourselves more with protecting the purity of our significant other, instead of devising a plan to bring them down. When I say it like that it sounds bad but let's be honest. That's the frame of mind some of us are on. Too many are calling themselves Christians and are sexually attracted to their boyfriend/girlfriend but their flesh is out of control. So they are led by their fleshs desires instead of being Spirit led. This is always a recipe for failure in a relationship. This is probably one of the quickest ways to push a true Christian away. Approaching them in a lustful manner will always get shut down with them. Lets strive to not offend those that are actually good for us and make us better by edifying us in the things of God, by dying daily to our flesh and spending quality time with God.

Sex before marriage is nothing short of a distraction and only sets us back in our walk with God among other things, by getting our focus on someone other than Christ and most likely with someone He never intended us to be with in the first place.

Find someone who strives to protect their purity. They will in turn help you protect yours. 

Love respects.
Love trusts and respects others. I plainly put trust and respect separately due to the fact that some assume they are not trusting the other when they are RIGHTLY concerned about an issue. As you all know, some trust issues are based off insecurities and past experiences and failed relationships. But are some things that are in dire need of checking. For Christians, we are expected to fellowship with our brothers and sisters. There are boundaries for even this though. For an example: I've had married men or those in relationships try to fellowship with me through exchanging numbers and texting/talking. And I've always turned down my brothers during those times. It's not because I don't love them, cause God knows I care about them. But I also care about their relationship and marriages. How would I feel if my husband was in anothers woman's inbox or DM's, trying to get her number for "fellowship purposes"? What would I think or feel if a mutual female friend came to me, asking if I knew that my husband or boyfriend was asking her for her number? Or how would I respond if a woman asked if it was alright to text/talk to my husband? These thoughts begin to trigger and create insecurities that were not a problem before or if they had been a problem, are even more of an issue. It can be conflicting when we try to go over in our minds without seeking godly counsel or praying on situations like this. One one hand we want to show we trust our significant other, especially if we say we're Christians and have a brotherly love for one another. And other the other hand, you're not okay with some of their actions. You don't want to come off as though you have issues from your past still and yet, there is a nag in your spirit on some things. And since you can't come to a conclusion on what it is, you settle on the idea that you're at fault instead of even bringing up the situation to the other for discussion.

Trust is not the issue here. It's respect of one another. Let's not be so naive to the fact that the accuser of the brethren is searching for those he might catch in a compromising situation, and throw mud on. The word of God says "Let not then your good be evil spoken of" Romans 14:16. Simply put, this means we are not to place ourselves in predicaments or situations where we (who are doing good as Ambassadors of Christ, would look bad). Now I can just hear some of yalls thoughts while reading that, ' Who cares what others think?'. Not to the extent that you allow others peoples opinions and thoughts of you to rule over you, but in regards to ensuring the enemy cannot go and find fault in any area of your life. So yes, Your Father in Heaven cares. Your spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend cares. And that's why we should allow love to treat others with the utmost respect. In what we do and don't do. Our actions should always be a reflection of our respect for others. Lets strive to be more considerate of others feelings.

Love submits.
Submit is defined in the Free Dictionary as: (n)  To yield or surrender (oneself) to the will or authority of another.

 Something a few of my friends and I have discussed before is males and females not knowing their role in their relationships. This causes major loopholes in which necessary needs and requirements are not being met. If we're playing baseball and the catcher doesn't know what his purpose is in the game, he may find himself wandering the field instead of taking his proper position behind the home plate. Now although the catcher has signed up for this position and is ready to play the game and win (as every athlete is ready to do), he is ignorant to the fact that if he does not align himself with his proper role, he will continue to aid in the team losing their games. And if he continues to aid in his team losing, over time it will cause his team mates to become bitter and angry with him.

We have men playing the role of females and females playing the roles of males. What this does is have a person that was created for a specific purpose in a relationship, playing another role he was never intended to operate in. So although the person might accomplish some things playing in a role not for him, it will be drastically limited, leaving himself and his counterpart feeling unfulfilled in some way. And keep in mind, when there is any feelings of unfulfillment we tend to seek outside that which is for us, to fill that void. We flourish and bloom best when we operate in those positions we've been called to though. There are certain things a man must feel in order to feel like the man he is. And there are things a woman must feel in order to feel like the woman she is. And yes, both are important. As someone who is striving to have successful relationships, everyone should be willing to do this.

Its necessary to understand that men and woman operate differently in their wants and needs. But this principle helps us to better please one other in relationships. We can't want something from our significant other but not be willing to give them what they want. That's a selfish and childish mindset.

Example of not submitting to one another in marriage:
  • Wife has been continuously refusing to sleep with her husband (for various reasons) and therefore has caused her husband to drift away and he might not be so inclined to protect or comfort her on bad days. Not saying that either result is justified but this is cause and effect here. When one feels their needs aren't met (and yes ladies, sex is a need for men), they feel unfulfilled. And with the wife seeing her need to feel protected is not being fulfilled, there causes greater distention. A man needs to have that physical connection with his wife intimately.
  • Husband isn't strong in his decisions and motivated in leading the household (for whatever reason) and therefore has caused the wife to move into the leadership role (which isn't hers) and puts a strain on her to carry a burden that is not for her shoulders. She's now over stressed, over worked mentally and spiritually. A woman needs to feel protected and provided for (not necessarily financially but spiritually and emotionally).
 Love is prayer.
A relationship without prayer leaves so many breaches in the walls that were meant to protect and secure it. Issues are bound to arise throughout the time we spend with our significant others (this includes friendships). How will you deal with them when they do? Communication and discussion of issues only goes so far. Too many have given up on their relationships and marriages without fighting for them the right way. You can't say you've done all that you can, until you've fought in prayer. We'll always have flaws and weaknesses as we progress in God. Don't criticize your significant other when you realize theirs though. You're at an advantage to make powerful intercession on their behalf. If you see him/her struggling in an area, go get in your prayer closet and back them properly in prayer. Pray with them. Read and study the word with them. But whatever you do, don't put them down. Adding to a person negatively can bridge a gap and create bitterness that no matter how sorry you are, it just isn't enough. Don't become an enemy to your significant other. 

Love is good.
Some might think this should go without saying but the reality is, is that people are still getting caught up in bad relationships. All while thinking it's "love" that bounds/ties them to that person. Yes, we will always have problems, issues, and obstacles to overcome with our significant other but that doesn't mean the relationship is "bad'. What makes a bad relationship is when two people enter into one, with two different ideas/motives or a completely wrong motive in their hearts. It messes us all up when we get into relationships, even friendships or partnerships, etc, with others who have completely different common grounds, values, morals, and mindsets. After time has been invested and that "love effect" has worn off, it's become evident how very wrong the other person is for you. So put this simply; a bad relationship is one that is unequally yoked. This is why it's so important to ensure you're equally yoked with those you open yourself up to. We all know that its dangerous to follow our hearts rather than allow ourselves to be Spirit led, understanding God won't lead us astray but that our hearts definitely will. Feelings can be based off appearances and appearances lie. But the Spirit of God leads and directs off of what is true and right. God meant for love to be a blessing to us, to minister to us, to heal us and make us whole. It's when we give our hearts to those who God never said it was okay, that we get ourselves in trouble. Then we turn and ask God why is this happening to us, when we are the ones that open the door to the enemy, by not being obedient. God will always come to our rescue when we humble ourselves, repent, and ask for forgiveness but should we really have to test Him, by being disobedient in the first place? Use your word, friends. Apply it It's a guideline that will for sure never, ever lead you astray.    

Love is wise.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. - James 1:5

In all areas of our lives God offers wisdom when we humble ourselves before Him to ask for this. It's not different for relationships and this goes for all relationships in our lives, not just the romantic ones. Noone can tell you everything that you'll encounter in a relationship or marriage. But your go-to should always be prayer and seeking godly counsel, for those times its not too clear what Gods Will is on a thing. I am by no means an expert on relationships. And even though I have yet to find the man God has for me, God has given me a insight and wisdom on these things as I have sought him on the matter. I want to ensure my next will be my last. In order for that to happen, I have to be honest with myself. I asked God to show me what are my faults, weaknesses, struggles, etc. I don't want any step backs based on my unresolved issues. I refuse to be a hindrance instead of a help to my husband. That requires that I work on me now while I'm waiting but all throughout my relationship and marriage with him. My mindset wasn't always like this. It wasn't until I spent quality time with God and God led me to fellowship with some good men who love Christ above all, that I was inspired and enlightened with what was most important in a man that would one day lead me and my household. I became to change how I prayed. More about God revealing what I needed work and less about what I want in a man. God knows what I need and want. What He gives me is exactly what is necessary and nothing short of. When I came into that understanding, it was a game changer for me. I know some of you must be wondering why am I posting about relationships when I don't have one. But I do. My relationship is with Christ. Any other relationship and marriage is modeled after this most important relationship. It's through us seeking God , spending time in His presence, and aligning our lives with His Will that we become more like Him and less like the world. Its important to reflect Gods nature and character to walk in successful relationships and everything else He has for us. So although I'm single, God has given me wisdom that I don't need to endure a failed relationship in order to know what NOT to do. He's given me the wisdom that comes from spending time in His presence. God's given me the wisdom that if I am not prepared before I'm married, the chances of a failed marriage are extremely high. So some of what I've shared here is apart of my preparation for what's to come. It's Gods desire that we all enter into successful relationships that last. If we are patient and look to the example He's left us in His word, we will find solutions and guidelines to doing so. Without having to go through the bad to know what good looks like. Don't get me wrong. Hard times will come even when you're with the person God has for you. What makes the difference is how well you're equipped for those times and if you've acquired the wisdom to see those hard times through with your significant other.

 When we follow Gods order of life we will always encounter His blessings and favor. His blessings and favor are a confirmation that we are on the right track. But when we are disobedient we encounter unnecessary hardship and heartache. Anything done outside of Gods Will and order of things, will always cause negative effects. Noone is free of these effects regardless if a person believes in God and His Word, or not. Truth is not relative. With that in mind we see how so many are led astray by a false perception and idea of what love is, ignorant to the fact that they are entertaining the enemy and his tactics to keep Gods children off track, backsliding, and in bondage. The enemy knows if he can keep us off track, by following our hearts and our own false perceptions of what love is, we'll continue in  these vicious cycles without him ever having to lift a finger. Ignorance is our fault though. This is why knowledge is power. It empowers us to do what is right so we can do better and get better.

It's time for a change.

This gives us insight as to why so many keep following a certain path, only to end up at a dead end. And continuously. Too many have become broken hearted chasing waterfalls *TLC flow* lol jk, but yall know where I'm getting at with this. These vicious cycles have got to stop. We're out here getting defeated by the enemy cause we're too busy fighting the man/woman in the mirror, with these negative mindsets and false understandings of life. No, we are definitely not victims. In order to be a victim would imply you have no control over your situation and all responsibility for the current state you're in is on another. And that is not the case. God has given us all the ability and means to rise up out of whatever negative or ungodly situations we may be in.

Advice for the singles: 
Not being able to find anyone good is not an excuse for settling. Ever. Let's keep in mind that those that are "good" are drawn to others that are also. You want to attract good people to you, so you have to display your good fruit. Words can easily paint a beautiful picture of someones character but if their actions do not align up with those words, BELIEVE IT. Do not make excuses for why they are this or that. It's Gods job to heal and make us whole. It's never a man or womans place to do so. Although I do believe they can aid in the healing, unless it's God ordained it will not work out. Remember, you can never go wrong by working on you before meeting someone special. What you don't want to happen is when you finally meet someone worth getting to know, you blow it because you have unresolved issues with your past or bad experiences. Bringing baggage into a relationship always multiplies the amount of pressure and obstacles you both will have to go through. A successful relationship is a team effort. And a good team has players that have been practicing and building themselves up before even joining a team. So don't wait until you find someone to start working on you. Start today and now. :-) 

1 Corinthians 13 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.