Disappointed: for when life hurts, and you’re wondering how God fits in.

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Sometimes life just doesn’t turn out the way we always thought it would.

 

Sometimes we feel like we’re left with more questions than answers – more waiting than action – more hours of crying than smiling. Sometimes, something that seemed like it would be so perfect just wasn’t.

 

That dream school – that relationship – that job – that friendship – that trip – that opportunity. When everything felt so right, so God-led, so hopeful, and nothing comes, it’s easy to become discouraged. The question is not, “God, if You’re good, why did this happen to me?” as much as, “God, when I felt like You were leading me to this place, did I hear Your voice wrong? Was I wrong to trust You for this? Are You still as faithful as I though You promised me that You were?”

 

And as I’ve been walking through this, I’ve realized a few things.

 

I’ve realized that if I make the object of my joy, my satisfaction, and my hope anything other than pursuing Jesus Christ, I’ll never find the peace in my heart that I crave, even if my circumstances seem to be exactly what I thought I wanted.

 

I want to be faithful right where I am, trusting the God that’s directing me to right where He has for me to be. Not because those circumstances are the ones I’m dreaming of – but because I will only find true joy when I’m pursuing the Person of Jesus, not because I think He’s a shortcut to achieving my own desires.

 

For where else can we find hope in our brokenness? Where else can we find grace for our weakness? Joy in heartache? Peace in the midst of missed opportunities, rejection, and despair?

Continue reading “Disappointed: for when life hurts, and you’re wondering how God fits in.”

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On Why We Need to Stop Idolizing Relationships, Marriage, & Everything Else.

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“Marriage was never meant to be about me. It’s always been a great allegory of the love between Christ and the Churchof which I am a part, and am invited to partake in the fullness of. Of which all of us are invited to partake in. See, it’s this cosmic love story, the most beautiful of them all — and one created, as all things are, to display the glory of God, time and time again.” Continue reading “On Why We Need to Stop Idolizing Relationships, Marriage, & Everything Else.”

where i’ve been, what i’ve learned, and the God who’s been constant through it all. // + my photography!

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It’s been too long.

 

Each time I’ve tried to sit down and write, I’ve either gotten distracted, become unmotivated, or overwhelmed, hence the silence on my part. And so instead, I’ve been gone, treating my blog as an intimidating monster to be slayed, not a haven to use to think and rest in, which I think has done me more harm than good.

 

Regardless, here I am, and thank you for sticking around to read – it means the world.

 

The past few months have been stretching for me. The end of my summer marked the end of a metaphorical season in my life, and whenever a season ends, in my experience, it’s like something’s come out of nowhere and struck me blind, leaving me dazed and confused about where to go next. Moving forward was the only option, and while I’m not sure if I’ve done it gracefully, it’s been a necessary and worthwhile journey.

 

And so, I took a trip with friends from all over North America. We traipsed around different states, drank a lot of coffee, and had extensive, passionate conversations until the sun came up. I came home with a renewed sense of what I want my life to look like, reality colliding with my visions, my passions, my dreams, and my desires.

 

And since then, I’ve had so many more conversations across the miles with those friends who mean so much to me, and I’ve discovered even more about myself, about God, about the people with whom I share my life, and who I want to be. Continue reading “where i’ve been, what i’ve learned, and the God who’s been constant through it all. // + my photography!”

How to Satisfy the Human Desire for Love, Joy, and Fulfillment

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Humanness.

 

There’s something so interesting about being a human being, living in this seemingly endless series of experiences and emotions, events and times of extreme joy and extreme pain.

 

Life is so beautiful, and so fragile, and we can be so sensitive to all of it.

 

I know I am.

 

I’ve noticed this pattern in myself and those around me, of being caught in this awkward middle place of knowing that the Christian answer is that only Jesus can satisfy me – and yet still chasing after these things that I’m sure will bring me happiness.

 

Because deep down, we all have these intrinsic desires in our hearts. And they’re not wrong at all. Unlike Buddhism, which says “All life is suffering, and suffering comes from desire; therefore, rid yourself of desire,” I say, no, we should keep on desiring.

Continue reading “How to Satisfy the Human Desire for Love, Joy, and Fulfillment”

Why I Never Made a Future Spouse Checklist (And Things to Consider Before Making Yours)

Why I Never Made a Future Spouse Checklist (And Things to Consider Before Making Yours)

Happy Saturday, everyone. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been on somewhat of a relationship-topic kick lately. When We Feel Unworthy of Being Loved, Crushes + True Love: Twenty-Seven Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Twelve, and random posts I’ve been stumbling across online have gotten me thinking about what love truly is.

Continue reading “Why I Never Made a Future Spouse Checklist (And Things to Consider Before Making Yours)”

Crushes + True Love: Twenty-Seven Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Twelve

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Part of what makes teenagers so complex is our emotions. When we’re young kids, we feel pretty much three things: happy, sad, and angry.

 

And then by the time we’re twelve or thirteen things really start to change – and we feel things like infatuation (which we can often confuse with love) and deeper emotions like stress and anxiety that confuse us so much, especially as young teens.

 

Like most people my age, I started noticing myself and others more, and was curious about boys, crushes, dating, and true love.

Continue reading “Crushes + True Love: Twenty-Seven Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Twelve”

Dear Christian Teens: On Relationships

Dear Christian Teens 1

Happy Tuesday, awesome blog readers.

Today’s post is a bit different than normal (and I do know that I say that a lot). However, some things have been on my heart recently about teens and relationships.

This is a shorter post today, because today is my first day back to school and last night I was trying to get to bed early. A near-impossible feat on a blognight, I know (and I just made that term up now).

But nevertheless, the points still stand. And I’d like to share them with you.

I am planning on planning on doing more “Dear Christian Teens” articles in the future. (Yes, I am very indecisive and unpredictable, so I can’t promise anything, but I will plan on planning on it.) 😛

I mean, this is a teen blog, after all.

So, here goes. Dear Christian Teens #1. In which Amanda talks about romantic relationships. And dating. And other things she has never quite experienced, but probably will someday.

**

This is written like three separate letters. (Have you noticed my obsession with letters yet?) It’s rather choppy, I know, and I’m sorry. But I wanted to alternate. Because alternating is fun.

So…to be blunt…

Dear Christian Teens,

Dating is not a sport. It’s not “marital practice”. We should focus on the final goal when we are considering a romantic relationship – marriage – for our hearts are much too precious to be thrown around like bowling balls.

Dear Christian Guys,

Value the modest girls. The ones who care about God’s opinion over yours. Beauty fades. Dignity stays.

Dear Christian Girls,

Value the gentlemen, not the bad boys. Humility and selflessness are to be treasured, not thrown away.

Dear Christian Teens,

Choose to love someone who loves God over you. If your eyes are fixed on others and not God, you won’t find The One God has for you. You will find them by focusing on Him.

Dear Christian Guys,

True beauty comes from the inside out. Not the other way around.

Dear Christian Girls,

Don’t compromise your purity to be loved. Rather, prove that you’re worth it by staying pure.

Dear Christian Teens,

Love your family. Treat them with respect and kindness. How else do you expect to be ready for having a family of your own?

Dear Christian Guys,

Your walk with God is invaluably important; you are to be a spiritual leader. You don’t have to be a pastor, but God calls you to be the head of your family and to lead them in truth. Never compromise that.

Dear Christian Girls,

You are God’s beautiful creation, and not an object. Don’t make people think you are by dressing and acting without decency and dignity. Never forget that who you are is defined by what Christ has done for you, and you do not have to prove anything.

Dear Christian Teens,

God must be the center of your life. If He is not, especially in terms of relationships, your life will not be solidly built. Form your life around your relationship with God, and let Him lead you.

And Christian Teens once more,

Marriage will not always be glamorous like in the movies. It won’t be all butterflies and rainbows. But love, and the most beautiful kind at that, is a love that is committed. Not just when it’s easy, but always.

**

I’m sorry if my thoughts are incoherent.

But I guess what I’m trying to (indirectly) say through these mini-letters is this.

God should ultimately be the one guiding our relationships, not us alone.

We all are precious and valuable, and none of us should ever see others as objects (despite what the culture says).

“Old-fashioned” virtues like modestly, decency, humility, and selflessness are BEAUTIFUL. To be treasured, and valued and appreciated.

When commitment to God and to each other is the center of a romantic relationship, it will be much stronger. Seriously. God isn’t to be put on the back burner, people.

And lastly? Dating and relationships are to be taken seriously. As are our relationships with our families. Because really, the ultimate goal is to raise up families to love God and know Jesus.

We can’t listen to the culture when it comes to such important matters. Marriage is beautiful, people. Not to be corrupted.

We were made for each other, God designed it that way.

So Dear Christian Teens,

Let’s be serious. Let’s focus on God first before others, and treat everyone like Jesus would.

Anybody with me?

*aj

How Does Romance Fit In?

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(This has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but I updated my About Me page last night, because it needed some help. Check it out after you read this!)

I’m just going to come out and say it.

I’m a hopeless romantic.

I cry over chick flicks. And books. And songs. And I watch, read, and play them over and over and OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

Do you want to know why?

Yes, before you say it first, I’ll tell you that for one reason, I’m a girl. A girl who asks her mom and dad over and over again the story of their friendship, dating relationship, engagement, and marriage. A girl who has a Pinterest board of wedding dresses, engagement rings, wedding themes, favors, locations, photo ideas and all that.

But the fact that I’m a girl is really beside the point.

The fact that I value romance is more where I’m going with this.

I value True Love. Not the cheap Disney love that has the prince and princess meeting eyes, and getting butterflies, and getting married the next day.

Because I’m so so sorry…

But that love does not exist. It’s an emotion.

I don’t value that fairytale emotion like I value love.

I value selfless love. I value love that chooses to wait and not settle for second-best. I value love that puts another one’s interests above their own. I value the courage that it takes to love, even when it isn’t easy. I value the promise of love, even when the other person doesn’t seem lovable. I value generous love; love given to one who does not deserve it and can not pay it back.

And I value marriage, which is a commitment for life to love the other person.

The thing that I love about this thing called marriage is that when the “magic fairydust stage” (or, “honeymoon phase”) fades away, the promise still stands.

And each person has committed to stick together, in the toughest of times.

There is no, “I take you to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife, as long as you make me happy, I don’t get tired of it, and things go our way. And then when I have decided that I’m not happy anymore, I’ll leave.”

Because as much as love can be expressed in a feeling, love is a choice.

Ask anyone, the fairydust stage of a marriage doesn’t last for very long. But that cannot be an excuse to move on.

Because like I said, love is a promise.

I value love. Real love.

And I can’t WAIT to get married someday. (Emphasis on someday, but nevertheless I’m really excited.)

So as I was brainstorming for this article, something popped into my mind.

What if my desire for human love is just the tip of the iceberg?

No, really.

What if I crave something even deeper than that?

I do, as a matter of fact.

And it’s not like I didn’t know this before, it’s just hitting me harder and harder as I get older.

You know how I said that I value selfless love?

I’ve been given that selfless love by my Creator.

And before you stop reading and dismiss this as another one of those cliché articles about how being single really isn’t that bad, listen up for just another minute.

Through God’s AMAZING love for us, we see some really cool things.

Like these.

He is selfless. He loved us enough to let His Only Son die for our sins.

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

He lavishes His love on us when we can not pay Him back and do not deserve it.

He loves us even when we are unlovable. (AKA constantly.)

Romans 5:8

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Psalm 36:5

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

What I’m learning daily is that the yearning in my heart for love can only be truly and deeply satisfied by the love of God.

AND IT IS! I AM SO COMPLETELY SATISFIED!

I can rest in the security of His amazing grace and love because that love will never fail.

So, here’s where you probably say something like, “Wait, Amanda, where does marriage come into all of this?”

That’s a good question, and I hope to answer it well.

When I said that perhaps marriage is just the tip of the iceberg, that’s really true.

Because as amazing as marriage and human love truly is, it’s only a reflection of God’s love for us. His love for His people existed long before the first marriage took place.

Which is kind of mind blowing, seeing how prominent “love” is in our culture.

If love is so big in this world, how much more great and beautiful is the love of God, who Himself is infinite?

One thing that I always need to remind myself of is that marriage is not the loneliness cure, or the meaning of life.

Sure, it can be beautiful! And I can’t wait for it myself.

But it cannot be the standalone thing that we seek. My heart yearns for love. But deep down, I need to be loved more than just by my (future) husband.

If I don’t accept the amazing sacrifice for my soul, and the crazy amazing love shown in that, I can’t possibly accept another human’s love.

To reject that would be to reject satisfaction. To reject true love. To reject completeness.

Because whether we are married or not, we can all experience True Love on this deep level.

Selfless love. The choice of love. The courage to love. The promise of love. The generosity of love, especially when we do not deserve it.

1 John 4:9-12

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

*aj