Dear Ex, I Never Really Loved You

Worldly “love” comes natural. It’s that Eros “love.” It’s erotic, sensual, and highly appeals to the flesh and the emotions. I’ve fallen in this kind of “love” with several guys. And the more physically and emotionally intimate I was with the guy, the more “in love” I thought I was.

No no. I didn’t think I was in love. I was convinced I was in love. But praise Jesus, His Spirit taught me what real love looks like.

See, the Eros love is how people who don’t truly know Christ love. They do not have His Spirit within them, so they love in a purely human and unspiritual way. This love is broken, limited, and extremely harmful. This love is desperately selfish, even when it looks like it isn’t. This love craves what the other person has to give; their attention, their affection, their adoration, their body. This love stems from the heart that is consumed with Self. A heart that is concerned about its own happiness, not the other’s true well-being. And that is why it is dangerous. Because it is not pure love. It is earthly, sensual—dare I say—demonic.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?-Jeremiah 17:9

If before surrendering to Christ, the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked how on earth can it deny its true nature and love another in a pure way? A godly way? The answer is simple: it can’t.

But when a heart is given to Christ and regenerated by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, now this heart can love in the agape way. The unconditional, selfless, pure, sacrificial way.

Firstly, the regenerated heart is no longer seeking to please Self, but God. This new heart prompts the Christian to delve into the Scriptures and get to know God’s heart. This heart is powerful because the Holy Spirit now lives within it and causes it to be like and obey God.

Before I surrendered my heart to Christ on February 22nd, 2009, I truly thought I loved my ex more than anyone. I believed that because I felt such intense burning desire for him, thought about him often, and wanted to see him all the time, I loved him.

This wasn’t love. I was like a human leech, sucking whatever I could out of my ex because it pleased MY flesh. It made ME feel good. I was addicted to him, not in love with him, because like a drug, he gave my flesh a good high.

But after giving my heart to Jesus, things changed. I’ve been married for almost four years (September 10th <3), and hubby and I don’t fight anymore. I mention this first because in so many worldly relationships fights are natural and usually often. Outbursts of wrath is a fruit of the flesh. You get upset because in that moment, your boyfriend isn’t making YOU happy. Your Self acts out because it’s currently not getting a good high.

But with hubby, now of there’s ever any tension, one of us lovingly submits, and the one who was thinking selfishly at the moment quickly repents and there is immediate peace, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. I give in to him, he gives in to me, and without a fight. We just lovingly give ourselves and this evades conflict. It’s not all about what I want to do and it’s not all about what Jonathan wants to do. We understand one another and are 99% of the time, gentle toward each other, which is another fruit of the Holy Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭22-23‬ NKJV)

When two people have the Holy Spirit, and are letting Him lead, this is the outcome. Real love doesn’t have moments of feeling good, it is good. Sacrifice isn’t this painful, horrible notion that is never even conceived of. Sacrifice is given freely because we seek the well-being and benefit of the other—not ourself.

It’s extremely tragic when Christians are in worldly relationships. It begs the question: do you really have the Holy Spirit in you, because the fruits of your relationship are fleshly. They look just like the world, except maybe they attend a weekly service or two together.

My prayer is that Christians in a worldly relationship will repent. It will certainly hurt their selfish flesh, because the relationship can be so pleasing to it at times, but in the long run, they’ll spare not only their souls from judgement (because being in sinful and hurtful relationships isn’t pleasing to God), but will be free to experience true love, agape love. And when you begin loving someone in a Christ-like way, and he or she loves you likewise, you’ll understand what you’ve been missing all this time.

Wives: Taking Matters Into Your Own Hands

Have you ever taken matters into your own hands? When you just think you know the right thing to do and are sick of waiting for your husband to do it, so you push him aside (or maybe secretly side-step him), and take the reins?

It usually doesn’t end well, does it?

I’m reminded of Sara and Abraham way back in Genesis.

Abraham receives a promise from God that he will have a son and his ancestors will be as numerous as the stars and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through his seed.

Being Abraham’s wife, naturally, Sara is apart of that promise. She is to be the mother of this great nation–so to speak–and even though she’s well past child-birthing years, she’s supposed to get pregnant.

Time goes by. A lot of it. Years worth. And hey, Sara begins to doubt. I don’t blame her. I’ve been there. I am there. So what does she decide to do?

Take matters into her own hands.

She tells hubby he should just sleep with her maidservant and then that child will become this special son that God promised He would give several years back. Abraham heeds his wife’s sensible and logical, not-prayed-about or God-given opinion and advice and they both suffer for it.

Maidservant gets pregnant. Sara gets jealous and angry and regretful. God shows up and is basically like, that’s not how this is going to work, and it was not what I promised you guys. I told you, Sara, that YOU’D be the one to conceive, but you didn’t wait patiently and instead, took matters into your own hands, so now here’s the consequences of your faithless actions: a son will be born to the maidservant and he will always be against his brother and will become a great nation who always wars against their brethren. By the way, God is so supremely good and just and faithful, He eventually did fulfill His promise to Abraham and Sara, and she gave birth to a son in her super old age of nearly 100.

But Sara had to wait. And so do we, sisters.

I was tempted to take matters into my own hands today. And to a degree, I did. Hubby didn’t heed, though he did do some digging on it, and I’m thankful he didn’t. Because my advice was driven from frustration and doubt, not from prayerful confirmation from God. And who knows what the outcome could’ve been. In my discouragement, I was tempted again to take matters into my own hands, but I asked for prayer, and went to the Word of God and read Romans 8 out loud. And it worked. Uttering the correlating promises of God helped me to stop fretting and to just “let go and let God.”

I remember another circumstance where Abraham was definitely wrong, but this time, Sara didn’t take the reins. She submitted even to her husband’s wrongness by allowing him to lie about their relationship to the pharaoh so he wouldn’t kill Abraham, and he let the man take Sara into his palace where his plan was to sleep with her. Can you flipping believe it? I know, it upsets me, too, ladies. But, just as Sara had made a mistake in her frustration, Abraham made a mistake in his fear, but guess what? God still kept His promise and in this situation, He stepped in like a protective husband should, and protected Sara supernaturally, and then caused Pharaoh to hurry them out with no punishment and tons of provisions. And guess whose name went down in the “Faith hall of Fame” thousands of years later penned by the Apostle Paul? Sara. What a legacy for all her ancestors and daughters to follow.

So you know what, I wanna be like Sara in that second situation. I don’t wanna take matters into my own hands to the harm of my whole family. I want to shut up, trust God, and wait patiently for HIM to act. Because He will, at the perfect time.

Do you know it’s also true for you?

blog_love_natasha

When you’re in a perpetual funk…

Almost everyone annoys you. Your patience is like 0.2%. Regular happiness is a distant memory. I’ve battled this and I still have my bouts with this, but when I remember the truths I’m about to share with you, sisters, I’m able to break through this bulwark before it becomes a vicious cycle.

As Christians, if we think we’re entitled to a bad attitude because we have bad health, we’re gravely mistaken.

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”-Philippians 11-14

Whether it be sleep deprivation (which is me every day), physical ailment (I’ve got chronic neck pain; haven’t been to the chiropractor in over three months) or weakness, we cannot allow our emotional state to remain in a place of anger and a funky attitude because, in essence, that’s bitterness, beloved. And the Bible warns:

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. “-Hebrews 14:14-15

An unchecked bad attitude and bitterness is what begins the erosion of our closest relationships; this is especially true in marriages. If we believe the lie that because we are sick, or weak, or tired continually that we then have the license and permission to be mean, joyless, and emotionally unstable, damaging and hurting those around us because we’re suffering, we are not practicing love, but selfishness. Too many are hurting others because they’re hurting and as Christians, this is point blank unacceptable.

I’m not talking about having a bad day. I’m talking about when your bad day turns into bad weeks and months and years. You’re allowed to be human and experience discouragement and anger. It’s when you let anger give the devil a foothold over your life and remain in that state of being for lengthy periods of time that you’re now being destructive to yourself and others.

Let’s pray for one another and bear one another’s burdens, and not allow our physical weaknesses to cause us to be in a perpetual state of bitterness that abuses those around us. Let us choose to love no matter what state we’re in physically, and when it’s hard to do that, instead of justifying our bad attitudes, let’s confess to one another and humbly ask for prayer. A bad attitude ignored or justified is like radioactive gas to those around us; it’s toxic and destructive. Christians can live in victory, so let’s not accept continually defeated mindsets for if we allow ourselves to be beat down, then we’re useless to help lift others up.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.-1 Corinthians 13:4-7

blog_love_natasha

You Should NOT Have a Guy Best Friend

Sisters, if you plan on getting married someday and even if you don’t, you should NOT have a male best friend.

I just edited a wedding where one of the bride’s three speech-givers was a single man who apparently was her best friend since he was nineteen. They’re in their thirties now.

It was quite uncomfortable watching the groom feign comfort while bestie gave a speech that sounded like something out of a rom-com–a rom-com where the life-long best friend actually doesn’t end up with the girl. It was pretty awkward witnessing bestie tear up and say he knows what it means to wait for a love like she found because he waited for a love, err, a best friend–aka her–for nineteen years. And he wasn’t gay.

Sisters, the bible records God saying in the beginning: “it is not good for man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.” And then God brings the woman to the man and they get married. 

They aren’t two heterosexuals who share a pleasant, platonic, intimate friendship for years and then go marry someone else and continue to maintain their intimate relationship with one another. That’s almost like three people becoming one. Take it back to the bride I mentioned earlier. When she and hubby get into fights, you don’t think the enemy can tempt her with her single, guy best friend? How many adulterous relationships begin with a friendship that then becomes more and more intimate over time?

When we are hurt and vulnerable, those emotions can easily be used against our marriage when we are sharing them with a man, and not just any man, but one we trust and feel comfortable and safe with, let alone one we deem a best friend. That is the perfect foundation for an affair.

Call me old school or archaic in mindset, but we human beings, especially we emotional women, are imperfect and suceptible to sin. We are not immune to temptation, and there is wisdom in the bible verses that tell us to flee youthful lusts and run from temptation. It also says God will give us an escape from tempting situations

But if you allow yourself to become best friends with a man, you aren’t escaping temptation, you’re entertaining it and giving the enemy one more weapon to use against you in your current or future marriage.

Your spouse should be the only opposite-sex best friend you have. He should be the only earthly man you run to for a listening ear and comfort (besides your dad). And if you don’t have a dad or dad figure, then come to Christ all the more with your pain and concerns. Don’t seek a male best friend. You already have one in Christ and you should save that intimate closeness for your husband.

You know how many guy best friends I had in high school who really liked me? Sure, I didn’t like them, but there were times I considered giving them a try and a few I even kissed. This is not to say you can’t have guy friends period. You can have guy friends, but this is about having a best friend and having a special set-apart intimacy with a man who isn’t your husband. I have good guy friends myself. This is more about guarding your heart and being mindful of others’ hearts as well, not walking in dread of relationships with the opposite sex, but practicing wisdom in those relationships.

So guard your heart. There is something engrained in our design that longs for intimacy with the opposite sex: it’s why even many women have homosexual men as best friends. We desire male companionship, to be close to a man because God intended to use that as one of the things that draw us to marriage.

We want life-long friendship with someone of the opposite sex, to be side-by-side and help one another, and that naturally develops into more and more until we enjoy all of each other via what the world calls “sex” and what God calls “knowing.”

This oneness is only designed to be enjoyed in the context of marriage because it is a profound picture of a most intimate spiritual truth: when we deny ourselves, turn from our sin, and trust Christ, He puts His Spirit within us and becomes one with us, as He is one with God the Father. Then we know Him in the most intimate way we can experience on this earth until heaven because He lives in us and remains with us forever and teaches us and guides us and reveals Himself to us as we grow in our relationship with Him.

Such close friendship between a man and woman is a beautiful thing, but don’t share it until you are engaged to the man God has confirmed He desires to be yours.

Wife Confessions: Subtle Revenge

In marriage, you don’t always get what you want. Can you believe it? I happened to experience this two days ago.

I really wanted something, and Sir Jonathan was planning on giving it to me, but preventable things got in the way.

This upset me.

I felt like I wasn’t being prioritized. I didn’t consider it at the time, but I was being selfish.

I shared my heart with my sweet hubby, he apologized, and I felt better. Besides, eventually I’d get what I wanted.

The following day, Jonathan wanted something now. But just as my desire had to wait, I was quick to put his on hold, and although my excuse was an honest and even honorable one, the way I said it had the slightest flair of revenge, and I felt a twinge of satisfaction from it.

It didn’t take long for the Holy Spirit to convict me. Again, I was being selfish. I confessed to Jonathan the hint of revenge, to which he—as usual—gracefully and immediately forgave me.

But the Spirit was still working. I offered hubby what he wanted, but then brought up my desire as well. To my dismay, something else threatened to get in the way—again!

Then the thought hit me: this must be a test from God.

What I desired wasn’t anything evil. In fact, it was according to God’s will, something He desires. But how would I react to not getting what I wanted when I wanted it? I decided I would give Jonathan what he wanted, whether or not I got what I wanted.

And guess what happened? The thing that was threatening to put off my desire, didn’t happen. And hubby and I both got what we wanted.

Finances, children, disagreements; these aren’t what cause divorce. Sin does. It’s when we let our selfishness control us, rather than the Holy Spirit, that we destroy our marriage. Nothing else is to blame.

But when simply obey Him we call Master, denying ourselves and putting others’ needs before our own, God is pleased and we are blessed.

As always, God proved His word is true.

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 ‭12‬:‭17-21‬ NKJV)

For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield. (‭Psalms‬ ‭5‬:‭12‬ NKJV)

Single Sister: If You Want To Get Married Someday, Read This First

Being a married woman has never been more draining.

I only have one five-week old; I can’t imagine having twins or a newborn and a toddler. But boy, is this child giving me a greater understanding of God’s will and goodness.

Babies are needy! Really needy; all the nursing (growth-spurts make baby even more insanely demanding), burping, diaper changing, face-to-face time, tummy time, and holding, not to mention bathing and nail-clipping. Then you can’t forget about your primary human relationship: your marriage; cooking, talking, dating, being intimate. And what about the house? You’ve gotta take care of that too. And I don’t know about you, but in our home, it’s way too easy for the dishes to pile up, and the dining table to get cluttered, and our bedroom to become messy. Pre-baby, it was easy to keep up. Post-baby, it takes hours to finally finish the dishes unless hubby tackles them. I have to do them in intervals because our son, Arrow, will need nursing or changing or holding.

Oh, and there’s another thing that needs tending: you! You have to bathe, brush your teeth, and do your hair some time!

And most importantly, you have to spend time with God and do whatever He’s called you to do—and maintain fellowship with the Church.

Being a wife and mother is no walk in the park. And contrary to popular belief, you come last. But that goes for any Christ follower:

And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (‭Mark‬ ‭10‬:‭44-45‬ NKJV)

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (‭Philippians‬ ‭2‬:‭3-4‬)

Still wanna get married and have babies, sis?

Don’t misunderstand, I’m very content with God’s call on my life. I love my husband and our son, but I was content beforehand too. And I know marriage isn’t about me; it’s about glorifying God first, helping my husband second, and lastly, enjoying the fruit of my union.

Too many single sisters buy the worldly lie that marriage is about you; making yourself happy and gratifying your desires for attention and affection. Many of these women come to hate their marriage because it wasn’t what they expected.

God isn’t shallow or selfish, so He expects His children not to be either. He will test your heart as a wife and mother. Because as a single sister, you aren’t in a 24/7 servant-relationship. You have the freedom to choose who to serve, on your own time, and usually with the help of the church. But in a marriage, you’re on your own. The church can encourage and teach you, but they cannot step in and be a wife and mother for you. No one’s allowed to sleep with your husband but you, and you are responsible for raising your kids in the way they should go. That’s at least two more souls you have to serve 24/7 whether you’d like to or not.

Being a wife and mother takes sacrifice to a new level. Your mind and heart have to toss out the Hollywood romance lies and be ready to embrace the truth of bearing the weight of marriage and motherhood.

Single sisters only see the joy. They don’t see the struggle, or feel the back pain and weariness, or the emotional toil. When you’re one with someone, you’ve got double the struggles because their battles are now yours too. You’ve got double the responsibility because their calling is now yours to support. And then you have double the physical strain because you must sustain another human’s life and teach them how to do it. And how about if your husband or child falls? There is no human on earth you’ll ever love more than your husband and your children so imagine the emotional battles you’ll have to endure if either of them struggle for a time or sin against you?

This is not meant to discourage you, but to exhort you to wake up from whatever fantasy you’ve painted marriage and motherhood to be and instead be sober-minded in how much it costs to take on those roles.

Still want to get married?

How To Encourage Your Man To Be Chivalrous

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Ladies, single and married alike: during prayer this morning God reminded me of something very important. We desire men to be chivalrous, but we must allow them to be.

I’m a strong-willed, determined, tell-it-like-it-is, lioness of a woman. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. God made me this way, HOWEVER, as a woman, there’s other attributes He gave as well that the more I grow in Him, the more they flourish.

For example, before I surrendered my heart and life to Jesus on February 22nd, 2009, I hated dresses and colorful clothes so I stuck to black mostly and didn’t want to be girley. I liked playing video games with guys, cussing like a sailor, and having guys as best friends. But after I surrendered to Jesus, without any self-enforced effort, I began to transform from the inside out. Without realizing, I started dressing more colorfully and girley. I began liking dresses and just became brighter. I didn’t even cuss anymore! The words just disappeared from my vocabulary. I didn’t like the darkness I had liked before. The sacred femininity that God designed women with, that which makes us different from men and beautiful, began to flourish.

But remember my lioness spirit? I open the door for myself. If I ask Jon to do something (who is a much more laid back and patient person than I am) if he doesn’t do it immediately, I’ll do it for him. What does this do? This disallows him
to be chivalrous. This takes away part of the way God designed him: to be needed by a woman, to be a hero for a woman.

Many women—if not all—deep in their hearts, desire to be swept up by the strong arms of a loving man who can protect them, rescue them from the dungeon, and slay the dragon. Why else do we take pleasure when our men get jealous if another man shows interest in us? We like being desired and protected by a manly figure. I think this is also why even in most lesbian and gay couples there is one person that is more masculine than the other and one more feminine. Because God designed us to be in that kind of relationship: a masculine (male) and feminine (female) one. There’s two distinct personalities, traits, and roles that promote a mutual needing and offspring. Hence: And the LORD God said, “ It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (‭Genesis‬ ‭2‬:‭18‬)

All this to say, ladies, if you want men to treat you chivalrously, step back and let them be! Stop opening the door for yourself, stop asking a man to help you but then doing it yourself. I’m not saying you do this for everything and just become some queen diva, but let him provide, let him carry heavy things, let him take the lead. But do this quietly, meaning, don’t command him, “Hey, open that door for me!” Just quietly stand there and smile, waiting patiently. Trust me, he’ll get it. And he’ll like it too! Your man wants a lady, not a man. That’s why he is with you. I’ll leave you with this:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (‭Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭22-33‬ NKJV)