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)”

Think Before “Being Yourself.”

Think Before “Being Yourself.”

 

The empowering cultural message of today is “Be Yourself.”

 

And to be honest, that’s a pretty positive idea. Don’t try to fit yourself into the mold that everyone else is already in; be authentic and not fake; be uniquely you, in only the way you can be.

 

And in a world of unrealistically photoshopped models on magazines, pressure to be at the top, and an obsession with all the glitz and glamour of fame and riches, there’s a stark comparison of ideas we’re hearing: “Be the best,” and “Be yourself.”

 

“Be yourself” is generally much healthier of a message.

 

But it’s not where we can stop.

 

See, there are two sides to this issue.

 

The first? Don’t let anyone tell you who to be, or put pressure on you to be a pseudo-version of yourself.

But the second is toxic – don’t change who you are because only you know who you want to be.

 

Perhaps the word “toxic” is too harsh, but the point remains. If we think we’re all set with no room for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we mislead ourselves.

 

I know this verse is somewhat out of the context of the passage, but the truth remains:

 

1 John 1:8

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

 

By nature, we’re flawed, sinful humans. By simply embracing our selfish selves, we let sinful thoughts and actions reign over our existence. I’m not saying that we’re not saved, we’re just not going to mature and become more Christlike.

 

If being yourself means being snarky and self-centered, rude and “liberated” (aka do-whatever-you-want-without-limits), then no, you shouldn’t be yourself.

 

By gratifying the natural desires of the flesh, we decide that we know better. We make the decision to reject the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives and instead, indulge in attitudes and engagements that will end up hurting us later.

 

So where does that leave us? Is it good, or is it bad to embrace who we are?

 

It’s both.

 

It’s great to be yourself. In fact, if doing so helps you to maximize your life to grow in your faith and serve God, then by all means, go for it. We all have different personalities, appearances, passions, and dreams for a reason.

 

But if being yourself gives you the excuse to express yourself in ways that stunt your growth, give power to sin, or disregard the leading of the Holy Spirit, then stop.

 

Think.

 

Before listening to the so-called “empowering” message of embracing ourselves as we are, let us look above the noise and onto truth.

 

Will our actions lead us to God, or away from Him?

 

Will we be using them to serve Him, or just ourselves?

 

Will the glory go to us after all, or to God?

 

Does this help us to become the person God has for us to be?

 

In the end, these questions can only be answered by you. What are your intentions in embracing your inner self?

 

We can either use our lives to serve God, or serve ourselves – to scream about freedom in Christ or freedom in worldly living – to listen to the Holy Spirit or to listen to the Devil.

 

What will you choose today?

 

Today, I choose to think before instinctively being “myself.”

 

*aj

Selfishness, The Holy Spirit, and I’m Not Perfect.

Selfishness, The Holy Spirit, and I'm Not Perfect.

This is somewhat of a difficult post for me to write.

I’m writing this post to clarify a few things, and to apologize to all of you lovely readers.

I have a habit of writing the night before I post something, which is usually okay, but I’ve definitely made a few mistakes when it comes to that. Sometimes, I don’t let God guide my words and I end up saying things that aren’t necessarily inaccurate, but incomplete. And I want to address one of those posts today.

I wrote Fighting Selfishness on August 11th of this year. I don’t regret writing it, but there’s so much that I didn’t say, could’ve said differently, or just shouldn’t have said. For that, I’m sorry. I’d like to address that post and continue with what I was trying to say.

I wrote Fighting Selfishness because I saw in my own life that I had a tendency to be selfish. I like to do my own thing (which is okay in and of itself) but I was perhaps letting it get in the way of what I needed to be doing to help others instead.

That motivated me to write the post, but I missed a key element.

Sure, we should strive for selflessness, because selflessness is a good thing.

HOWEVER, if we are not being led by the Spirit, we will not be able to become more Christlike.

So here is my point.

Selflessness is possible for us because we have the Holy Spirit in us, growing us and leading us to become more like Christ.

There is no “try harder.” There is no “work more at it.”

And just so you don’t think I’m making this up, here’s a verse in Romans 14. This passage is talking about convictions and our freedom in Christ, specifically in regard to food, and I really like it. If you want to check it out, go here.

Romans 14:17

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

We have been given freedom in Christ to live in a way that is pleasing to God. Freedom means we “can” do whatever we want, but not that we “should.” We are no longer bound by the law and the Ten Commandments, because that is not what saves us!

Praise God for that, because we could never keep the law perfectly.

Back to my points on the selfishness article.

I didn’t say anything about the Holy Spirit there because I was so focused on how selfishness isn’t living like a true Christian should.

That’s not the point at all, though.

The point is to grow in an understanding of the amazing grace of God. To live by the Holy Spirit’s leading, and not by a list of do’s and don’t’s, and should’s and shouldn’t’s.

This is what prompts us to live selflessly.

 

I’m so sorry if my tone has ever been a “you have to do ____” instead of an encouragement to live out our faith with joy. I want to inspire us to live lives that are led by the Holy Spirit, and not just some laws. Because that’s not right.

We should live selflessly, yeah. But we shouldn’t be aiming to live more this or more that. Our aim should be to grow in Christ, to please Him, and to become more like Him. Not to follow some rules in order to be better people.

By living a life that is led by the Holy Spirit, our selflessness flows from that. Why? Because ultimately, it’s not about us. If we become selfless because of our own doing, then we’d have something to boast about, which we don’t. If we succeed at something, it will always be God working through us and not us doing it on our own.

That’s basically the point that I want to clarify today. I’m sorry that I didn’t say it before.

Thank you all for being patient with me as I grow in my own faith!

*aj

Fighting Selfishness

Distant Mountains

Life is beautiful…

…most of the time.

Anybody feel me?

My life gets so messy sometimes, and it’s sickening how self-absorbed everyone in this world is.

And, you know, how selfish people can be by nature. Myself included. I’m trying my best to work on that.

There’s this song in The Lorax (the newer movie) that is perfect and sick at the same time when it comes to the human sin nature.

Here’s the first part of it.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? I’m just doing what comes naturally.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? I’m just following my destiny.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? I’m just doing what comes naturally.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? How bad can I possibly be?

Well there’s a principle of nature (principle of nature)

That almost every creature knows.

Called survival of the fittest (survival of the fittest)

And check it this is how it goes.

The animal that eats gotta scratch and fight and claw and bite and punch.

And the animal that doesn’t, well the animal that doesn’t winds up someone else’s lu-lu-lu-lu-lunch (munch, munch, munch, munch, munch)

I’m just sayin’.

 

*sputters*

Even though this movie does not support that point of view, it makes me want to get up and scream, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!”

Because whether it seems like it or not, the world acts like this by nature.

“Survival of the fittest” is an excuse to go first, take the “bigger piece,” and all that.

It’s just a dumb excuse to feed into entitlement. The deadliest form of selfishness, and I’m pretty sure we all fight it.

Because it’s no secret or surprise that we all have a raging sin nature inside of us, wanting to control us. I mean seriously, if we were “all set,” then Jesus would not have had to come and die for us.

So, do you want to know how to beat selfishness?

Me too, so let’s look at the Bible.

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 5:24

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Philippians 2:3-11

 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So…what do these mean, though? And how do they apply to us?

Glad y’asked.

The most IMPORTANT thing that we could possibly do is die to ourselves.

Just because we’re “saved” doesn’t mean we’re growing. It’s an ongoing process of dying to self and living for Christ.

For me, this means giving up my personal wishes. For example, maybe I’m tired, but I still need to serve my family. It’s constantly putting my selfish wishes to go take a nap or read a book behind me and saying, “It’s not all about me. It’s about living for God.”

And honestly, that is soooo much more rewarding than vegging out on the couch being unproductive. Knowing that I’m serving my Creator makes me happier than I would be if I were just binge-watching Netflix and letting my family pull my weight.

Another thing is that we consider others better than ourselves.

Can you imagine if we all did this? If we all treated each other with love, kindness, and respect? Those things are contagious, you know, and it’s so amazing to serve others. It brings me such joy, even when I don’t “feel” like being selfless. My attitude changes if I let it.

And lastly, living like the world isn’t worth it.

It’s really not worth it to live a life rooted in sin and selfishness. Because when we follow after God and do not conform to the world, we are transformed, we see the will of God, and we grow to be more like Him.

In the grand scheme of time and space in all eternity, it’s important to cultivate the things that’ll last: our souls.

Because life can be beautiful, if we let it be.

We can let the world be brighter by being selfless and living for God joyfully, or we can dwell on the shallow things that make us self-absorbed and lead us to be ungrateful vegetables.

Take your pick.

*aj

I’m Fighting

Typewriter

It’s Monday night.

I’m tired. I don’t really want to write a blog post.

I cooked, cleaned, washed dishes, did tons of laundry, watched my brother, and attempted to write an essay for a scholarship contest.

I’ve had a long day, and I don’t feel like writing.

I’d honestly rather chill out in my bed, with a book that hasn’t been written yet. (Favorite authors, keep writing for me. I can’t stand waiting.)

I want to give into my introverted self and hole away in my room, read for ten hours straight, and magically receive a bunch of emails and texts from people I miss without being the first to send the message. I want to sulk for a million hours, and give up on life. I don’t have the experience. I don’t always have motivation. I’m so done with school. And I just want to be selfish and make life about me. Right now, I want life to do what I want, what I think is best for me, and whatever my snobby little emotions want.

And, though I think it would be nice, I’m not giving in because it’s not going to fix me.

And it’s a good thing, too, because when I give in to self-pity, not only is it pitiful, but it is even more discouraging. Hello world, I’m human too. More than I’d like to admit.

So I keep on fighting. Fighting to get my joy back. Fighting to be strengthened. Fighting to find truth amidst the lies. Fighting to regain hope in hard times. Fighting to remember where true love comes from. Fighting to remember God has a plan. And life isn’t about me, so I shouldn’t try to make it seem like it is.

Believe it or not, fighting is hard. Because the not-so-smart human nature in the back of my head says, “Go do pointless things for hours on end. Life is all about you. Go sulk. Go ignore everything. You’ll be happy.”

But will that make me “better?” No, it won’t. I know it won’t. I know that giving into that selfishness will not make me happy because I’ve tried.

Trust me, writing three blog posts a week is tiring. It is really hard. It is hard, because I can barely keep up with school, reading books, and writing, and then having time after that to do what I want. But do you know why I keep up?

I keep up because God has called me to write. God has not called me to wade waist-deep in self-pity, waste time, and sulk. God has called me, an introvert, to use my voice. Right now, I can’t get up in front of 10,000 people and share my life story. Maybe that will come at some point, I don’t know. What I do know, is that my voice right now is being expressed online, writing three times a week, for Him. And whether I like it or not (though I do like it), this is my platform that He has called me to share on. Even if I were to only have had five followers, if God had given me the opportunity to share Him with the world, I would still write.

So I won’t let my selfish sin nature get in the way of sharing the Gospel with twenty-two countries. (Yeah!)

I want to encourage all of you today, to keep on doing what God has given you the opportunity to do and has called you to. Living for God isn’t our obligation (although it’s the wisest thing and He wants us to). Living for God is our joy!

As I write this, my mood is brightening. (I’m not kidding.) Do you know why? Because my satisfaction is found in living for God, not living for myself. I am satisfied and filled up in living a life that is pleasing to God, because deep down, that is what my heart craves. My heart “wants” to be happy, but it can only be truly satisfied by a life abiding in Christ.

So this is why I write.

I do not write for money. (I have to pay to write, actually.) I do not write because it saves me time. (It takes me a lot of time.) I do not write because it makes me famous. (Probably, I’m the least famous out of everyone I know.) I do not write because it looks good on my résumé. (I don’t even have a résumé. I’m fifteen years old.)

I write, because this is the life God has given me. This is what He is calling me to, even though it’s small. This is growing my own faith. This helps me remember that life isn’t all about me. This helps me remember the joy that comes from a life with Christ. By writing even when I don’t feel like it, my own heart is encouraged because I know that this is what abiding in Christ feels like. I am getting to know Him more and more, day by day, and I am satisfied because living my life this way isn’t about me.

I’m glad that life isn’t about me.

I have laid my heart to rest in the satisfaction of Christ. I am pressing on toward the goal. I am fighting, and I am not letting my sinful nature win.

Because if I were to let my sin nature win, I would never taste satisfaction in those shallow, earthly pleasures.

My heart has been won over, and I am living a life dedicated to Christ.

*aj