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BE READY FOR A HOLY HOOKUP
TRUST THE TRUTH
Eli peered fearfully through the window. Was she coming yet? If only she wouldn't come until he remembered what he had promised her. He knew it had something to do with where he was supposed to take her, but when you date three girls at one time, it's hard to keep all the details straight.
Evon hated kids, but she loved Tim, who happened to be bringing his young son to meet her tonight. If things worked out, they all would go away to the mountains next weekend. Just great! Why, she wondered to herself, had she told Tim that she adored children and sure, she'd love to spend time with his little boy. Actually she never got along with children, had nothing in common with them, and was dreading the whole thing.
To be ready to get together, we first have to trust that telling the truth is the best way. Have you ever told a lie or kept a secret so that other people would like you? We probably all have. When we meet a person we'd really like to get close to, sometimes we are tempted to suppress certain things, usually unresolved issues, mistakes, or character flaws. It's natural. Everyone wants to make a good impression. Sometime we are even afraid that once they know these things they might not like or want to be with us. But in not unveiling those things in an appropriate way, you create a misrepresentation and problems down the road.
When we enter into relationships under false pretenses, suppressing the real us, others can fall in love with the person we created and not the real us. And because we know it is a false representation, we always are on guard, afraid to let something slip. Later reality sets in and things start leaking out. They learn that we've been keeping secrets, and they begin to wonder and doubt the relationship. If you want to be ready to enter into a relationship, you first have to let the truth be your friend.
When God matchmakes, there is full disclosure. Because you are aligned with the truth, you know God accepts you and that you are on the road toward healing and wholeness. When you approach a new relationship, you are secure enough to disclose up front any negative or positive things that have occurred in your life. You know you've grown from your mistakes and used those lessons to groom you to be a better person. You can freely admit mistakes and lessons you've learned because of God's acceptance, grace, and mercy toward you. You can admit struggles that you still deal with and share how you've been delivered.
When you're honest at the beginning of a relationship, other people know they can take you or leave you. They know what they are getting. If you really care about someone, doesn't that person deserve the option of saying no? How would it feel to be married to somebody for years, waking up in the same bed, eating at the same table, having children together, and then having the marriage fall apart because your mate believed that she never really knew you? I'd feel betrayed, hurt, and angry. Take the honest and godly road. If someone decides to pass on you, it may hurt initially; but it will also tell you that this relationship would not have worked out anyway.
DISCOVER YOUR SPIRITUAL IDENTITY
To be ready for a meaningful relationship you have to know who you are. In many ways you and I both are a collage of experiences. Some of these experiences bless us and make us happy and other experiences curse us and make us bleed. The key to knowing who we are is understanding who we are to God. That way we can be confident in our own skin. When you know who you are in God, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free for full disclosure.
It's God's style to create with many complex and interesting aspects. That's why there are more than a thousand varieties of bananas and millions of different flowers and fish. There are even hundreds of thousands of different beetles, many uniquely suited for a single plant. Humans are also multifaceted. You are complex and interesting. The Bible says that you are wonderfully made. You are worthy because God created a unique, special you. That's just the way God rolls.
THE TRUE YOU
Who is the true you? Who is the person that God calls you to be? The person that God can help you become?
YOU ARE ACCEPTED
Who are you? You are accepted by God. In John 15:15 Jesus calls His disciples His friends. As a modern-day follower of Jesus, you are a friend of Christ, accepted by Christ. "But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12 NLT). Jesus' recognition of the woman with the issue of blood showed His acceptance of her. He saw through the crowds, through the cultural expectations, through physical disabilities, and validated her and her faith. He accepted her and He accepts us, wounds and all.
YOU ARE JUSTIFIED
But just because God accepts you, that does not mean that you are in a right relationship with Him now. God knows we just can't make it right by ourselves, so He justifies us. Romans 5:1 says, "Therefore, having been justified ... we have peace with God." Don't let the failures in your life stop you from acting and living like you're God's child. Tell yourself: I am acquitted, I have peace with all. It is Just-As-If-I'd never done anything wrong. Then in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, you learn that you've been "bought at a price." He thought enough of you to die for you. He did that for me too!
YOU ARE SECURE
This is a big one, because we have a generation of insecure people. Too much insecurity ruins relationships. Have you been a victim of somebody else's insecurity? Someone yells at you because he doesn't know what to do? Someone accuses you because she is afraid of getting caught for something she did? He takes something away from you because your having it makes him feel small? The insanity behind their paranoia can drive you nuts! One of the best things you can bring to a relationship is your secure personality. You are secure because you believe what God has done for you! Your security is not based on how anyone treats you, attends to you, or even loves you. You do not have to seek security in someone else because you are secure already.
Romans 8, verse 1 says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (KJV). That means I'm secure because I'm free from condemnation. I may have a checkered past, but that's behind me. Condemnation can be deadly in relationships. It keeps people from telling the truth about who they really are and where they've really been. They're afraid you'll condemn them and hold it against them. If you've had a troubled past, you have to be secure in God's promise and say that was me; but now, I'm a new man in Christ Jesus, a new woman in Christ Jesus. Let people test you—you are steady and secure.
YOU ARE ANOINTED
Second Corinthians 1:21-22 reminds us that "it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment" (NRSV). That tells me that God's got His hand on my life. I am one of the anointed. I'm not just walking around without purpose. I am confident in my anointing. And I can respect your confidence in your anointing.
YOU ARE PROTECTED
First John 5:18 explains that "We know that those who are born of God do not sin, but the one who was born of God protects them, and the evil one does not touch them" (NRSV). God's got my back, and I feel safe.
YOU ARE SIGNIFICANT
Listen, people of God: in Ephesians 2:10 the Bible says you are God's workmanship. "For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life" (NRSV). Look at how significant you are. God made you with a purpose. Your value is not decided by other people; your value is placed on you by God.
YOU ARE GOD'S TEMPLE
First Corinthians 3:16 says, "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" (NIV). Inside of you dwells the very power and presence of God. Please, don't think you mean nothing. You're valuable. If you're thinking, "I ain't nothing. I guess nobody wants to be me. I've been going to speed dating and they don't even come my way," who do you think you'll attract? If you talk like that, behave like that, even have posture like that, you won't attract anyone.
There is another meaning in this scripture as well. When Paul, the writer of 1 Corinthians, says that "you are God's temple," the word for "you" in the original Greek really means "you all." He means that together we are God's temple. We are meant to work and play together as a people of God. We are meant to be in relationship and help each other.
YOU ARE A FRUIT BEARER
"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you" (John 15:16). You bear much fruit in your life, inevitably, because of your relationship with Christ. This means you are productive; you are not fruit-less; you bring gifts and accomplishments into your relationship. This is a strong point in being relationship ready.
YOU ARE FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE!
Put this verse on the refrigerator door or have it as part of your signature in your text and e-mail messages: "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well" (Psalm 139:14 NRSV). God took His time when He made you. God made your personality the way He wanted it to be. God put all these gifts inside of you. Your spiritual identity is God's statement about who you are. It is what God has done for you to make you whole.
One afternoon I was watching a football game. The quarterback launched an impossible throw. The running back made an impossible catch. The team scored and won the game. I cheered; it was so great. It was too wonderful for words. It was a fearsome, awesome play. When the Bible says that you are "fearfully" made, it does not mean that God wants you to live in fear or that other people should be afraid of you. It simply means that you are awesome. You are too valuable for words.
TRUST THE ONE WHO MADE YOU
So, before you step out that door in your fine attract-a-guy, pull-a-girl attire, how about delving inside yourself to present as excellent a picture on the inside as on the outside? It takes an open mind, a receptive heart, and faith and trust in the One who made you.
Here are some concrete ways to help you grow toward wholeness so you can be relationship ready when the time is right. They will help you move forward and overcome the obstacles that are blocking you from a healthy relationship.
1. CONSULT WITH GOD TO DEVELOP YOUR STANDARDS FOR RELATIONSHIPS
Start with God. Learn to trust Him. After my first wife died, it was hard for me to open up to anyone and harder still to trust. I just did not want to be hurt again. I should have known better, but I didn't. So I prayed and opened God's Word.
There are many kinds of relationships that challenge how well you know and understand people and yourself. Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself ... in the LORD"; in other words, be into God, be excited about God. One version of the Bible (The Message) says, "Keep company with GOD, / get in on the best." Be comfortable with just you and God; camp out with God, and "He shall give you the desires of your heart." Remind yourself of this blessing: "God wants me to have the true desires of my heart."
"He who walks with wise men will be wise, / But the companion of fools will be destroyed" (Proverbs 13:20). What I learn from this verse is that you have God's permission to be selective about the people in your life. Your values, your commitments, your purpose, and the path of your spiritual journey are influenced by the people who surround you. When you walk with fools, guess what's going to happen? Guess where you will end up?
As you are walking toward wholeness, you have to understand that people need to qualify for your approval. There are specific qualifications to meet your standards. Just as potential homeowners prepare and stretch to qualify for their homes, your potential mate has to qualify for you. You know that the value of the house determines how stringent the requirements of qualification are and how many hoops you have to jump through just to get the house. The same is true for you. Whatever value you place on yourself will determine your standards about allowing people to step in and out of your life.
If someone is going to qualify for you, be ready to let them know (in a clear, assertive, positive way) what the requirements are, so they won't waste your time and you won't waste theirs. Let them know what you value and what you believe are the most excellent influences for your life's journey. Share your vision and where you perceive God is guiding you. Talk to them about your relationship with God and how important it is to you. That will give them the first clue about the qualifications they must bring. That's not arrogance, that's just truth. If they don't listen or ignore you, that is a clear signal that they are not right for you.
The most important time in your life to be picky, strict, and extremely selective is when you are considering a mate for life. In this case you are the underwriter for the loan (relationship) that they are trying to qualify for. It may take the person pursuing you a little longer to qualify because you are not interested in a short-term loan. Say to yourself, "I'm expensive and I'm not apologizing for it! I am no cheap thrill. There's no rebate with this relationship."
2. PROCESS THE PAIN OF YOUR PAST
Once you have opened the Word and begun to listen to God, you can be sure that God will have a plan for you. And an important part of His plan for you will be for you to face and process the pain of your past. It may be uncomfortable and it may even hurt, but like lancing a wound or getting a shot, the short-term pain is well worth the long-term benefit. Paul says in Philippians, "Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14 NRSV).
Processing and growing from the pain of your past means you have to embrace your future. Paul says I have to get to a point in my life where I have to acknowledge that I am an individual and I have had pain in my life. I cannot be in denial about what hurt me. Once I own my pain, I must then come to a place where I don't let my pain rob me of my future. This is what I mean. When you burn your finger while trying to light the grill, it really hurts. But the hurt will go away more quickly if you simply let it hurt and don't fight the pain. This may sound foolish, but it works. It takes energy to push the pain away, and fear of the pain actually makes the pain worse. But if you just accept the pain, it's like your body says, "OK, I am hurt. Now I can get on with the healing." But if you are truly afraid that experiencing the pain will destroy you, go find a trustworthy person to talk to about it.
Forgetting pain does not mean that I eradicate the memory of what happened. It means even though my memory of the pain is with me, I don't give the pain influence over my current condition. I don't allow the pain to control my decisions about today. It means I do away with pain's power over my entire self. Recent science says that every time you recall a memory, you change it. If you recall a memory in the context of a relationship of trust, the pain will not be as great and healing can happen. That is why talking to a nonjudgmental friend or perhaps a pastor can help.
Learn from the pain. As I deal with my pain I have to learn to draw wisdom from it. In every painful situation I can learn something about myself as well as about others. I don't eradicate it from memory, because I use that memory to remind me of that pain to teach me to never go through that again. It will not have influence on my current condition.
Now I'm in a position to reach for the things that are before me! I can embrace my future, consistently and confidently reaching for something greater for my life. I try never to be apathetic or passive or fall into depression by saying, "I don't have a reason to live because of the pain I've experienced." No! Pain never has to be the end of my story. I'm still reaching for those things that God promised me! So my position is that I thank God for the vision to see beyond my pain. I'm reaching for whatever it is God promises me, but it's not going to come easily. Jesus' crucifixion was not the end, only the prelude to the Resurrection. God will resurrect our life from pain as well and help press toward the goal line.
Excerpted from Love and Intimacy by Joseph W. Walker III. Copyright © 2010 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
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Posted March 26, 2012
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