I saw those two eyes glare at me from behind the glass. I stopped. I rolled down the window.
“Let me ask you something: what is the speed limit in this garage?” the police officer said in a serious, loud and intimidating voice from his SUV.
“Ummm… five… ten?” I replied in a quiet, nervous tone.
“Well it’s five, and you were going way over it! You’re gonna hit another car if you keep going that fast!” he continued.
I honestly didn’t think I was turning the corner of the garage that fast. I froze.
“I’m sorry…” I said as I put my head down.
“And turn your headlights on too so others can see you,” he said.
“Okay,” I said quietly.
“Well have a good day,” he said in a stern tone and then sped away.
It was a Thursday morning, and I was making my usual commute to campus in order to get to my 8:30 class. Although after looking back on the whole situation, I realize that it was not a big deal at all, I still however remember my immediate reaction in the moment. In that moment, I was furious. I was nervous. I was caught off guard. I was scared. I was sensitive. I was just plain frustrated.
In my head, I started to curse off that officer. Why do the policemen on this campus always have to be so darn nasty when they speak to others? Don’t they know that people, students especially, make mistakes? Heck, all police officers must be on some type of power trip. Who do they think they are?!? Then, a random thought instantly came into my head:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
No joke. I literally heard these words while I was in the middle of my fit. However, since I am just a human who struggles with a fleshy nature, I started to question and defy these words. God, how can I give thanks in this situation? That officer was clearly being disrespectful! I’m not in the mood to deal with this. I have a presentation and a long, busy day ahead of me. I cannot rejoice in this, God. I just cannot. I know I didn’t get a ticket, and yes, I should be thankful for that, but I still am offended and shaken up. That man is a jerk! And I am not thankful for that! He should be called out on his disrespectful tone! God, why did this have to happen today? After all, how can one even rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances anyways? It’s impossible! It’s preposterous!
I parked my car and got out. I walked down the stairs of the garage, with the words “give thanks in all circumstances” literally ingrained in my mind. They would not leave my brain!
I call these moments “God whispers.” No, I am not some psycho-crazy person (although my mom and a few of my closest friends might think that lol). No, I do not hear an actual voice speak to be out of the open blue. Rather, God gives me certain thoughts that just stick in my mind and inner core. No matter what I do, I just can’t get rid of such thoughts. That’s how I know He is speaking to me. That’s how I know He is trying to make a point to me. And yes, He was definitely trying to prove something through the whole situation that morning!
He’s been telling me not to let stress get the best of me. Stress: it’s something we all deal with every single day. (My dad used to say, “If you’re not stressed about something, well then you’re not alive.” And he has a point: the only time we will not experience any kind of stress whatsoever is in Heaven with God.) Unfortunately stress sometimes gets the very best of us: we are less patient, more tired, anxious, and sensitive, and we are even more likely to say irrational things in the heat of a stressful moment. And I have been guilty of all these things recently. I have been less patient and more irrational with my family, boyfriend, and friends the last couple weeks. I know it’s wrong to take out my stress on others, but I admit that sometimes I can’t help it. We all do it. Sometimes, I just do not know how to express my stress and anxieties other than by being moody and grumpy with others. I know that it is completely wrong and not how I should act. I know God used the whole incident with the police officer to tell me to be more patient and understanding with others and not to jump down their throats just because I am stressed.
He has been telling me to forgive others who I have been hurt by. Just like I was quick to point my finger at, curse and accuse that police offer, I have also been guilty of doing this with others. Our immediate human nature is to become defensive and point the finger in hostile situations with others, however it is so completely wrong. I’ve been reminded of this: although Jesus had so so so many opportunities to blame, accuse, and put down those who wronged him, he did not. Instead, he loved and forgave them. As a Christian, Jesus is my number one role model, and I know I should do the same. I admit, over the past year, I have harbored some real negative sentiments towards a few people of my past that have just festered in my brain and inner core. I have criticized, looked down on, talked negatively about, and pointed my finger directly at them. God has been telling me to surrender my pride and forgive them. He told me that He cannot forgive me if I do not first forgive them. So, although it was extremely difficult, I surrendered and forgave them. And man have I been set free from hostility, anxiety, anger, and a whole host of negative emotions! Praise God!
He has also been telling me to get rid of the need to be perfect and not make mistakes. With the whole parking garage situation, the reason why I become so defensive was because I knew I was wrong in the situation. Yes, I was going over the speed limit. The officer had every right to pull me over, and frankly, he had every right to give me a ticket. I just did not want to admit that I was wrong. However, God used this situation to once again, knock down my pride. He told me that we all make mistakes and it is okay. However, it’s all about how we react to it. (And initially, I did not act correctly to the situation.) This whole semester, I have been trying so hard to be the perfect, straight-A student along with the best life group leader, girlfriend, and friend there ever was. I have realized that trying to be perfect in all aspects is just exhausting and stressful. Also, it is simply impossible to be perfect. No one was, no one is, and no one will be, except for Jesus. I have not surrendered my need to be perfect to Him enough. Since my incident, He has taught me to just try my best in every aspect of my life and in glorifying Him in all circumstances. He knows that I am not perfect, but He still loves me so incredibly much, and just knowing this is more than enough.
Lastly, He has been telling me to be more thankful and appreciate the blessings around me instead of dismissing them. He put things into perspective for me: my situation with the policeman was NOTHING compared to the suffering the victims of Hurricane Sandy have had to endure. Some people, and yes I bet some of the people I go to college with, have lost everything in one storm: their homes, loved ones, and over all livelihoods. I should not be complaining at all! No way do I have any right whatsoever! Therefore, I should have been giving so much thanks to God even in that moment of frustration with the policeman. Putting it into that context, I should have had been jumping up and down with joy! Also, I admit that I have not appreciated and encouraged my boyfriend as much as God would want me to. I have been too caught up in my own mind and stress that I have sometimes neglected to just be joyful and thankful when hanging out with him. I have not affirmed him and the gifts God has blessed him with as much as I should have. I know I should praise the Lord for him more often! After all, He has blessed me with such a genuine, beautiful servant of His. I admire my boyfriend so so much for his truly beautiful, kind heart, giving and self-less nature, creative and artistic talent, determination, firm loyalty to what he truly believes in, sharp social and emotional intelligence (and man, is this hard to find in a guy!), and most of all for his incredible, strong relationship with God. Along with God’s help, of course, he truly brings out the best in me. He helps me grow into a better person every single day, even in our tough moments. I would honestly not want to be with any other guy in the world. I love him so much because he loves God with all his heart and God has called me to love and encourage him. Lately, I admit, I have not been doing the best job in carrying out what He has called me to do. However, God brought this all to my attention, and I am so grateful because I know that with His help I can improve! I should smile and give thanks to Him for all the blessings He has given me that I clearly do not deserve.
Yes, it is extremely difficult to be thankful in all circumstances. I know I really fall short of this many times. However, it is extremely important to try your best to be. Too often do we become defensive when we should just put our pride down and admit we are wrong. Too often do we point our finger in disapproval at others who have hurt us when we should forgive them and wish them well. Too often do we complain about our lives, stresses and problems when we should look around and rejoice and be thankful for every good thing we have been blessed with. It’s extremely difficult sometimes, but when we remember how Jesus acted in every circumstance and then pray to God to help us through tough times, we will be blessed. He will help us out of any complicated and stressful situation if we just surrender and ask. Then, we will be able to be thankful and rejoice as we should!
November 23, 2012~ 2:41
It’s truly astounding. Just when you think God has forgotten about you or your prayers, He proves you wrong. Sometimes when you think He will answer in one way, He does so in a completely different, unforeseen way. I like to think of this as “God winking at you.” Yes, He winks at all of us. Sometimes, you just have to look closely for it. The other day, God definitely winked at me:
Last early February, I went on a life-changing retreat with the Protestant Bible Fellowship at my college, and it truly transformed my perspective on my life. For the first time, I realized that God is my ultimate Father. The main speaker talked about how He loves all of us so much, more than even one’s earthly father. He watches out for all of us and forgives us no matter who we are or what we have done. We don’t deserve this type of love at all, but it is who He is and it is what He does. This message hit home for me since I had lost my father a little over three years ago. I realized that although I used to think God had turned his back on me and took my father away, He never did. Although my earthly father is no longer physically here, God is, and He not just fills the void but completes me. He was there, He still is, and He always will be. He also loves me so much that He even sent His son to die for me. All of this dawned on me, and I just cried while I was in the audience.
However, this message hit even harder because I immediately thought of my former boyfriend of two years in high school. Like everyone, including myself, he had his struggles. I remember that after we broke up February of our senior year, we had a strange relationship with one another. We both were really struggling emotionally with different challenges, and although we were broken up, we still clung to one another for emotional support. We both tried to solve each other’s problems, and in the end, we hurt each other in the process. During the retreat, I was immediately taken back to those times and emotions. I felt absolutely awful about how I had treated him in the past, and I wanted him to know that I was sorry and still respected him. I realized that we needed to let God solve our problems and heal our hearts. (If only we were mature enough back then to realize that.) We needed love. We needed hope. We needed forgiveness. Many years later, in college now, God was finally healing my heart from all the hurt from high school and the death of my father, but I wondered how He was healing my former boyfriend as well. That night on the retreat, I prayed from the bottom of my heart that He would heal him as He was healing me. I prayed that He would show Himself as the Father He always was to me to him. I prayed that God would keep entering his life and show His great love. Even after the retreat, I still prayed that my former boyfriend would accept God and Jesus as His ultimate protector, provider, and Father who would help him with all the struggles he had faced. Oh how much I prayed and still do so!
Time passed, and although I had not heard of how he was doing, I trusted that God was somehow working in his life. However, I admit, I was a little disappointed because I had been longing for confirmation that He was fully working. Nine months passed since the time I prayed on the retreat, and a couple of nights ago, I finally received that confirmation I had longed for. My former boyfriend had texted me, saying that he was now on a retreat and he was moved to do a crazy thing: tell me that he forgives me and apologizes for the times he has hurt me. He also admitted that although he doesn’t agree with my notion of God, he believes that he ought to have more faith. This message was so random, yet it was the gift I had been waiting for for months! God had winked at me many months later. He answered my prayer at a rather unexpected time. He never forgot about my former boyfriend or my prayer. This was confirmation that He has been working in his heart, whether he realizes it or not. I rejoice in it because I believe the retreat he went on (and it is ironic that this happened when he was also on a retreat) is a stepping-stone to something great- something greater than he could ever imagine. Through this experience of God winking at me, I was reminded that although God may not answer right away, He still always does, and most of the time He does in unforeseen ways that are even better. Most of the time He proves to us that His way is better than the way we want things to happen. After all, He makes all things work together for our good no matter how long it takes Him. We need to have the faith that He has our best interest. He works in strange, funny, yet amazing ways. Now, we just need to take the time to step back and realize it.
Let me share something with you. Something absolutely amazing. It’s so crazy and mind blowing-ly wonderful that I cannot even believe it happened myself. All I can say is that it is a true miracle.
If someone were to tell me exactly one year ago today that I would stop cursing, drinking, and partying, I would think he was crazy. How can a college kid just stop doing those things? If someone were to tell me that I would stop being jealous and would no longer be in spiteful rivalries, I would think he was insane. I compared myself and tried to “one up” certain people for so many years of my life. How could all those built-up, intense negative feelings just disappear? If someone were to tell me that I would be in a wonderful relationship with a guy in which only kissing was more than enough to show love and affection, I would think he was absolutely out of his mind! Lastly, if someone approached me a year ago today and told me that I would be leading others to Christ and helping them grow in their faith, I would not believe him for one single second. Me?!? Ever since I was little, I knew that God created the world, Jesus performed miracles, and why we celebrated Christmas and Easter, but I never thought that one day I would, especially in college, find myself in a personal relationship with Christ- one that completely changed my life.
Flash back to exactly one year ago today. I recall crying until I had absolutely no tears left. My whole body was numb, weak, shaking and my face was red and swollen. I recall the feeling of nausea, that feeling of just wanting to throw up from shock. I recall a thousand different, extremely negative thoughts and feelings racing through my mind at one hundred miles per hour. Thoughts such as “He doesn’t want you. Nobody does.” “You should just transfer to another college because no one wants you here.” “You’re hideous.” “Way to go, look what you’ve done, you piece of crap.” “You’re worthless.” I recall the feeling of just wanting to close my eyes, never to wake up. I remember that heavy, mind-numbing thought of just wanting my time to end so that I would no longer have to suffer the immense pain and humiliation. A year ago today, I was convinced that my life was over. I had just lost my boyfriend at the time and I had a feeling I was going to lose my friends too. They left me and shattered my heart. I knew I had no one, and worst of all, I had no hope. In that moment, I was convinced that I would not be able to smile again. I had never felt so livid at the world. I had never felt so depressed. I had never felt so lost in my life.
However, within one short month and a half, it was all gone. I was no longer scared, defeated, angry, depressed, and lost. I no longer hated everyone around me. I no longer loathed myself. In fact, it was surprisingly quite the opposite- exactly 180 degrees. I smiled and laughed again! I was truly joyful, thankful, and hopeful. Some even said I was “glowing”, that I had a twinkle in my eyes. I had friends, many many genuine friends who were just like brothers and sisters. People told me that I inspired them. I started believing in myself, but mostly importantly, I started believing not only in God but in the power of Jesus Christ. I had completely left the life I had lived for nineteen years for one much more joyous and fulfilling. It was as if I had been reborn, and I had never felt so alive, so “on fire”. And this “new life” was not because I was strong. It was because of God and God alone. I committed to Him and He has never let me down. I know I alone could not have pulled myself out of the deep, dark pit I was in. It was because of Him, and only Him. He found me in that pit of depression and loathing, and He loved me enough to take care of me when I felt as if no one else did. He loved me enough to not just pull me out but to uplift and encourage me. He loved me enough to change my heart and change my life.
All of a sudden, I received an abundant amount of blessings. Instantly, so many friends entered my life. They encouraged and loved me, and are all so genuine and real with me. My relationship with my mother improved, as we learned to respect, love, and appreciate one another on a whole new level. I no longer cared about dressing in top designer fashions or coveted other fancy materialistic items that people had. I no longer wanted to impress anyone with my looks or the items and opportunities I had. I was no longer afraid of losing loved ones and I had finally accepted losing my father. I was no longer angry that he was no longer in the picture. I learned to forgive people who I held grudges against for many years. Those burdens vanished instantly! I was able to forgive myself for big mistakes that I held against myself. I was given a wonderful, handsome, and loving boyfriend who is Christian with an equally loving, fantastic family. It still amazes me how much the two of us have in common, how we complement each other, and help one another grow every day. With His help, I even repaired friendships with some of the friends I thought I had lost during the break up. I started believing in my future and myself. I began trusting that no matter what happens, I will be more than okay. I experienced the joy of being free, loving, and giving to others. I found myself volunteering, meeting new inspiring people all the time, and doing things out of my comfort zone (such as going on a mission trip overseas and leading a weekly Bible study on campus). Overall, I found myself no longer living for myself, but for Him, and He only showered blessings upon me. He changed my life forever.
Looking back on my life within the past year, I am in complete awe. I am speechless. I have grown so much and I am looking forward to growing more with Him. I have realized that today is not one to mourn over what I have done wrong in the past or what I have lost, but to rejoice and be thankful in Him and the very blessings He’s given me. I am not telling you all this to boast about my life or myself, but rather to boast in Him alone. I am not sharing all this to make you feel inferior, but rather to tell you that the great news is that you can have a new fulfilled life too! In 2 Corinthians 5 it states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” And trust me, if you put all your trust and faith in Him, you will not look back once. No other thing on this Earth, in this life- no person, amount of money, power, or social status will fulfill you as much as He can. The amount of joy that worldly things provide is thin and fleeting, but the joy that He provides is abundant and everlasting. So no matter where you are in life, what you’ve done, what you’re struggling with right now, or where your faith is now, He is there for you and loves you! He wants a relationship with you, yes you! He wants to bless you and see you live a fulfilled life.
September 30, 2012 ~ 2:30 A.M.
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I must admit that I’ve been feeling disconnected to You. These past three weeks or so, I have felt like I have failed You and myself. I feel attacked by the enemy. I am so tired, physically and emotionally. I have so much anxiety with the start of the school year. I am yearning for everything to go back to being “good” and “normal”, like it was last semester when I felt as if I was on top of the world with You standing right beside me. The worst part of it all is that I have forgotten how to earnestly pray and how to rely on You in times of trouble and hurt. Well, I need You now.
Lord, I am insecure with myself. I feel overweight and unattractive. Although I have grown an inch taller this summer, I have also put on a couple pounds from splurging and enjoying summer treats. I have neglected my goal to work out, and I must admit that I am quite disappointed in myself for the lack of motivation. Right now, I do not feel comfortable in the body that You have given me. In fact, sometimes I feel embarrassed and ashamed of it. I dislike the way I turn out in pictures. Sometimes when I see my reflection in the mirror, I want to look away. I’m tired of feeling like I have to impress myself and others with my physical appearance and dress. I am tired of being so focused on my weight. I just want to be happy in my own skin and not care about what anyone says about my weight fluctuation. Help me overcome my bodily insecurities. Help me be happy again with the body You have blessed me with and keep me healthy and safe. Help me see myself as beautiful in You again. I feel as though I have drifted so far…
I have failed the challenge of not shopping that I created for myself. I feel like a complete and utter failure. I fell flat on my face. I caved. I bought a dress… or two… and then some earrings… a sweater… the list now continues. I have been greedy with money and consumed by it. Right now, I am so disgusted with myself. I feel so weak and overpowered by the worldly things around me. I can’t trust myself. I am afraid that my love for shopping for materialistic items will consume me and form into an addiction that I cannot control. I feel like such a greedy person right now. It’s unbearable. I have forgotten about what I have learned on my mission trip. I have forgotten what I saw in the Bahamas: five people living in a two-roomed shack without electricity and clean running water. And here I am so greedily buying clothing and accessories that I truly do not need. What is my problem?!? Why am I so consumed by the material world around me? How did I get this distracted? Lord, I long to be freed from these chains that bind me! Help me find happiness in other outlets that do not involve the mall. I long to not shop just because I yearn to feel better about myself and the way I look. Help me not feel so defeated and hopeless with the challenge I have set up for myself. I know that I should have brought this problem to You earlier…
Lord, help me in my relationship with my mom. This summer, we have not seen eye to eye on a lot of things: home organization, packing for college, meeting up with friends, spending money, and the list continues. I feel like it is all my fault. Lord, sometimes I feel as though I really disappoint my mom, and I don’t want to disappoint her. I feel sometimes that I am not the daughter she wishes me to be even though I know that is not true. But unfortunately, I still convince myself that. I begin to feel guilty. If only I were more organized and not a lazy bum, then we wouldn’t have had these arguments over the summer… If only I were able to control my spending, then we wouldn’t have gotten into this other argument last night… If only… I feel terrible Lord in the way that I treat my mother. I feel like I have taken her for granted too many times. I don’t spend enough time with her and I don’t give her the attention she deserves. I have been so consumed with my own agenda, relationships, and worldly ambitions that I have forgotten about my family this summer. I feel as if I have failed my mom and have become this grumpy, greedy person who just goes in and out of the house without saying much to her. I feel that I am definitely not the daughter I could be, and it really hurts me. Lord, grant me the patience and strength to better respect my mom, who is also a daughter of Yours. I feel terrible that I have offended Your beautiful creation. Lord, I feel like such a monster right now. Renew my spirits and help me with my family relations. Help me not feel like a disappointment to her and to You.
God, I need help in my relationship with my boyfriend. I constantly feel the need to be “perfect” for him, in fear that our relationship will abruptly end and that it will be all my fault. I don’t want another repeat of what happened last fall. You know how hurt and broke I was before You pulled me out of it so graciously. I ask that You would help me feel like a worthy girlfriend who makes him happy even in times that we are not so happy with each other. Reassure me that he willingly loves and cares for me despite the times that I put my emotional weight on him. Help me just be more real with him and real with You. Teach me how to lean on You and not on him so much. I don’t want to hurt him, Lord. And I don’t want to hurt again, Lord. I am trying my best in this relationship to honor You and to make him happy at the same time. I am trying my best to support him and love him the way You would want me to. And I know that he knows how hard I try, but I am not so convinced that I am doing my personal best in this. Lord, please watch over me and us and bless our relationship. I know that I still have a lot of growing to do individually before him and I can take our relationship to the next level if that is what You have in mind. Lord, I want to be the very best, loving, devoted girlfriend that I can be with Your help. I want to be the very best, loving, devoted daughter to You with Your help. Guide me and shape me in Your image. I know, God, that this relationship will fall flat on its face without You, and I must admit that I have forgotten to include You in it at some times. I truly apologize. Teach me to rely on You and cry to You instead of others. Help me, Lord, completely abandon the scars that have formed from my actions in my past relationship. For I have felt so incapable of being a good girlfriend and friend after that. Grant me a new start this school year, with those scars completely behind me. Restore my confidence in myself and in You, Lord. I am begging You.
Lord, I admit that I have gone through the motions in a lot of ways this summer. I have lost passion in caring about You and others. I have not really put my heart and soul into praying everyday. I have forgotten to complete my daily devotional. I have been so consumed by the world around me. I have not been accountable. I have given into my worldly desires, and I am so ashamed. I have forgotten about You and Your desires for me. And worst of all I have forgotten how to just talk to You and surrender all aspects of my life to You. For I know that when I try to make things work on m own account, I fall flat on my face. Teach me to depend more on You. Grow me, Lord, in the ways that You want to see me transform this year. Take away all the anxiety that I have been feeling about this school year and my future. Help me improve myself, but take away the built up pressure that I have put on myself to be a better student, friend, girlfriend, and daughter. Reassure me that if I do not fulfill my goals that it does not mean in any way that I am a failure. Tell me again and again that I am NOT a failure and that I will NEVER be a failure in Your image because of the blood of Jesus. God, most of all, show me Your love and mercy. I admit that, like everyone else, I get lost in this messed-up world. I am like that lost sheep. Reassure me, Lord, that like the good shepherd, You WILL find me, and that You are RIGHT HERE next to me, RIGHT NOW. Show me that it will be like that FOREVER and ALWAYS. Tell me NEVER EVER to give up on You because I know that Satan tells me otherwise. He tells me that living a life that is pleasing and honoring to You is too much work and not worth it. But Lord, I REFUSE to live a life that is pleasing to him and not honorable to You. I beg that You would help me not fall into his traps of deception and devastation. Lord, I long to love YOU. Show me Your presence, Your word. Reassure me that You are walking right by my side. Lord, I need this reassurance. I need to truly believe in myself as Your beautiful daughter again with Your help. I need You. Love, show, teach, forgive, transform, and grow me.
In Jesus’ Holy name I pray so earnestly. Amen.
August 21, 2012 ~ 1:53 A.M.
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Although it’s been a while since I’ve written, I’ve been thinking about this particular post for a quite some time, months in fact. I finally have enough substance to address the topic. God has been constantly working in my heart to purify my ways to glorify Him to the best of my ability and He continues to do so. I needed time to elapse before I could properly write this. I needed the time to struggle. I needed the time to grow.
I admit it: my lifestyle is a very uncommon, unpopular one compared to that of my peers. (And I’m sure other devout Christians can relate.) In fact, some have and more would probably ridicule me for what I am doing, or rather, more importantly, for what I’m not doing. However, I must continue to stand firmly.
Exactly a month ago today, I had arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. I was excited but apprehensive. I was aware of the challenges I would face, the temptations that Satan would throw my way. It was all quite nerve-wracking. I could only pray that I would not give in. This became the one of the biggest tests of my personal holiness in many ways and I was going to do whatever it took to come out the other end successfully.
Even before we boarded the plane back in New York, I sat amongst my classmates, most who were cursing ninety-miles per hour and talking about the nights they planned to club, drink, smoke, and dance with French men. They saw this trip as some sort of break from reality, a vacation to do whatever they wanted without any rules. I just sat in my seat, soaking it all in, and just anticipating the struggle of fitting in. I knew I would be considered a “loser”, a “goody-two shoes”, a “child” for not following the crowd. (I did not have any of my close Christian friends with me on this trip to aid me in my walk towards God and away from the worldly temptations.) However, it was all a risk I was willing to take in order to honor Him, even if I had to do it alone.
Yes, I would have loved to check out a French club, enjoy exotic fruity cocktails, dance to the techno music under flashing lights, and have a night unlike any other. However, I realized that this would not be pleasing to God and I would not be respecting Him or myself. So I decided to stay in all the nights while in France. Luckily, God knew what was on my heart and in my prayers and He worked it out so that I would have an easier time abroad. Before the trip, I had signed up to room with two girls, one who was an acquaintance and one a friend who I respect. We had hoped to get a triple in the university we stayed at in Paris. I still remember how unsure and nervous I was writing my name down next to the names of those two girls on the roommate sign-up sheet. I knew that these two girls would probably partake in the Parisian nightlife and that I would be tempted to go along since I would not want to spend my nights alone cooped up in a room. God knew this too. However, when I arrived at the university, I was pleasantly surprised. I knew that God had answered my prayers. Instead of being placed with these girls, I was paired with another girl. As soon as we entered the room, I asked if she planned on clubbing at all. To my huge relief, she said that she did not drink or club at all. I praised God for pairing me up with her. I now had a friend who could keep me company while everyone else was out. I would not have to be so alone.
But it wasn’t so simple. Although I befriended and hung out with my roommate and two other nice girls who shared my values, for some reason I still felt lonely at times. It was difficult to hear the other seventeen students talk about their wild nightly escapades and how much fun it all was. They laughed together, bonded, and became good friends quickly. I often felt like those seventeen students and my small group were completely separated by an invisible dividing line of “the in-crowd” and “the losers”. I felt that I could not interact the way I wanted to with those of the in-crowd who I liked a lot. I knew that although I could have had lunch with some of them and gotten to know them better it would have been toxic for me. I could see it in my mind: they would all be laughing about their night, cursing, and planning another carefree night out. I would probably have felt even more left out and especially tempted to join them if I had spent my time around them. I could not risk that chance of temptation. For Jesus once said, "If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body, than for your whole body to go into Hell" (Matthew 5:30). Therefore, I cut off my interaction with this group during the whole trip, regardless if I would be considered an unsociable hermit.
And this was certainly not the first time I struggled with temptation and personal holiness. In fact, my whole last spring semester and this summer has been dedicated to trying to purify my lifestyle according to what the scripture says about leading a life that is honorable to God.
First I stopped partying and drinking. I realized how these two actions were extremely dishonorable and disrespectful not only to myself but to God. He created me for a great purpose, so why would I throw that away by giving up my control, mind, body, and soul for a night of fun in a fraternity house basement? Also, it creates temptation to sin further, and why would I want to create a distance (that sin usually causes) between God and me?
Then I stopped cursing. I realized how harmful, disrespectful, and those words were to God and others. He would not want His precious daughter speaking in such foul, classless terms.
Next, I vowed to renewed sexual purity. Although I had broken my promise to God in the past, I asked for forgiveness and repented. Although sometimes I still do not forgive myself, I know that through the blood of Jesus, God does forgive me. He loves me that much! And now, I am happily practicing abstinence with my current boyfriend, and it has actually enhanced our relationship with each other and with God. (Look for a future post on purity coming soon!)
Then, I stopped watching television shows and movies that had cursing, sex, self-disrespect, alcohol, and drugs involved. These forms of media are very incompatible with the lifestyle I want to live. I do not want to be influenced. Not even one bit.
Next, I cleaned up my iTunes library. I deleted any song that had a lot of cursing and references to sex, drunkenness, partying, and objectifications of women. This was one of the most difficult things to do since I love music so much. At first I thought that there was no harm in listening to a song with all those bad aspects just for the catchy beat. Then, I came to realize how influential those lyrics are, even when we don’t think they are.
And most recently, I cleaned up my facebook, deleting any party and crazy pictures and other ones that I felt would not be honorable to God. I had to delete the ones that I felt were not a good portrayal of a God-loving girl even though I had an emotional attachment to each and every one. (Yes, I am a little bit of a hoarder).
But why do all of this? I remember I had a wonderful revelation one day last spring: I should not fall into the temptation to sin for my own good or selfish fear that I might go to Hell (even though I now know that the likeliness of me going there after I die is nonexistent). Rather, by cutting off temptation to the best of my ability, I am honoring God and moving closer and closer to Him. The more we sin, the more we stray from God, and the less we feel a close connection and relationship with Him. In the end, I alone don’t matter. Therefore, I am living my life as purely as possible not to please myself or for a heavenly reward at the end of my time on earth but rather for God, the One who breathed life into me. Think of it this way, you often make sacrifices in order to please and honor your true loved ones, whether they be your parents, siblings, best friends, or significant other. You care and love them so much that you would do almost anything to respect and please them. It’s not for your own personal benefit alone that you care for these people the way you do. It’s out of love, not selfish desire or duty. Now magnify this concept by a million and then some. That is what loving and honoring God is like for true believers and those who walk with Christ. This is what it is like for me.
So why am I telling you all of this? This post is not to belittle anyone at all by saying “I don’t drink, smoke, party, curse, etc. and therefore I am better than you.” No, it is to share my struggles and hopefully encourage you to live a life that is pleasing to God. Perhaps you want to get to know God more and walk with Him more faithfully with the way you live. Perhaps you too are struggling with the temptations around you, as it is so easy to succumb to sin in this world. Although it really is not easy, I want to share with you that with His help and His grace, you can do it! You can do your best every day and God will be well pleased with your efforts. I admit, I still have a difficult time with temptation and sin and always will. We all will. However, I must say that it has become easier and easier for me to live this way everyday thanks to God answering my prayers for a pure lifestyle. And most importantly, it has really been worth it. I have finally developed a lasting sense of self, peace, joy, and fulfillment. Nothing and no one on this earth could give this gift to me. Through it all, I have finally learned to be confident and to respect and love myself as the beautiful daughter God created me to be. I pray all these wonderful things for you.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31
June 24, 2012 ~ 6:33 a.m.
I will always remember the first time my boyfriend admitted his feelings to me. It was February 21st and I was walking back with him to his apartment on campus. My stomach wasn’t feeling too well, and he offered to give me some applesauce (apparently it’s supposed to help settle your stomach) to make me feel better. The moment I sat down at the kitchen counter and started to eat spoonfuls of applesauce, he walked up from behind. He said to me, “So I’ve really been praying a lot about things… about us.” The spoon was in my mouth; I was in shock. Did I hear correctly? He continued by saying, “I’m getting rather shy here, but I admit that I really like you. I like you because you’ve been so encouraging to me, and more importantly, it’s so refreshing to see a girl love Christ more than herself. His glory shows through you everyday, Ashley. So yes, don’t worry anymore because I like you.” That was the sweetest, most heart-felt thing any guy has ever said to me. I wanted to cry. God was beginning to show me love through His eyes.
I really wasn’t expecting a relationship so soon, but about week later, on the 27th, my boyfriend popped the question, asking if I would be his girlfriend. He said, “So I’ve been thinking and praying, and for me it’s already kinda official. I don’t know what you feel right now though, so we can make it official whenever you want to.” With that being said, I told him that yes, I wanted to be official with him, but we had to have a serious discussion first. Two hours later, we talked thoroughly about our past relationships and the mistakes that we made in them, purity, God in the center of our relationship, and how we wanted to approach the relationship with God. Then we prayed together for our relationship. I remember that that night, like every night, I prayed to God to guide us, encourage us, and teach us how to have a relationship that is honorable to Him. I said to God, ”I know that it seems like I’m getting into another relationship rather soon, God, but I trust that You have control over it and that You will lead us both. I remember praying to you months before, giving my love life up to you, saying that if he (my boyfriend) is not meant to be with me, then it won’t work out. You wouldn’t have us get into a relationship if You did not see any potential in it. I’m trusting that this is Your signal that You want this, Lord. I’m trusting You to help us.”
Although it’s only been less than two months that we’ve been together, I have learned so much about God, my faith, and myself through my boyfriend. God has given him to me as a blessing in order to teach me His ever-important lessons. Not only do I feel closer to my boyfriend everyday, but I also feel closer to God as a result. God has been teaching me how to love a boyfriend the way He intends a guy and a girl to love each other in a relationship. He has shown me love through His eyes, love as He intended. I have never known how to love like this before or to be loved like this in return. Now, every time I find myself loving my boyfriend, I feel God’s presence through every action. I end up loving Him more and more.
For instance, God has really taught me patience and selflessness, two characteristics I know that I did not have in my previous relationships. He has shown me what I have done wrong in my past relationships, and although I look back at how I used to act in relationships with disgust at myself, I am grateful that God has given me a chance to love the right way. This past week, my boyfriend and I have been going through difficult circumstances both individually and together. However, through prayer and God’s grace, I have learned to encourage him even in tough times. I have learned not to lose patience and put blame on him. Instead, God has taught me to be selfless and encouraging even in tough times. Although we both were in not in the best of moods this week, we did not have a single disagreement or argument. What a blessing! I really see that God has blessed me with my boyfriend, and through Him teaching and guiding me, I’ve learned more about Him. By asking Him for help, I’ve gotten to learn more about Him. I'm really coming to understand not just how love in a way that honors Him but why it should be that way and nothing less. I now know that since He loves me so much, He wants me to trust His advice on dating (and any aspect in life) because it never fails. He loves me and therefore wants to hold my hand every step of the way. He wants to be with me because He knows I need Him more than anything. He created the beautiful gift of love and He wants me, as well as everyone else, to enjoy it the way He intended because He loves me so much. I am finally seeing how my relationship with God is more of a Father-daughter relationship everyday through this dating process. He is guiding me through my relationship with my boyfriend, and as a result, I feel His presence more and more.
So thank You, God, for the true blessing of my boyfriend and thank You for teaching me all these lessons and loving me through them. May You continue to bless us and keep us close in Your arms. I love You, God. You are so good.
Also, I really want to thank my boyfriend for being so loving, supportive, encouraging, and patient with me. Thank you for all those long, deep, helpful, discussions late at night and all those little gifts and notes of encouragement even in difficult times. Thank you for being there for me, as a shoulder to lean on and to cry on. But thank you, most importantly, for helping me meet God’s standard of love and nothing less. Thank you for teaching me His word. You are a blessing, dear. I love you.
April 15, 2012~ 3:39 AM
Yes, I must admit that it has been a while since I’ve blogged. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on this blog one bit. :) Lately, I’ve been struggling with several personal issues in the last month or so, and I have also been trying to juggle a lot of obstacles and responsibilities. But I’ve been jotting down plenty of blog post ideas on a notepad. I hope to be able to share them with you when I have more time this summer. However, I am compelled to share this post with you:
A couple weeks ago, while searching for a song from a Christian band on Youtube and listening to it, I scrolled down the page and read a few comments. Some said “God is awesome!”, “Praise Jesus our Savior!”, and so forth. Then I came across a rather different comment. It read: "I don’t get it. Jesus was just a dude that died on a cross." After reading this, I became immediately angry. How can people be so ignorant? How stupid can they be? Jesus was not just some random “dude” who walked the earth just to die on a cross! He was much more than that, so much more! Jesus was and is still God! Then a different sentiment overcame me: sorrow. I began to think of how many people do not know Jesus and how many do not have a relationship with Him, either by their own choice or lack of knowledge. How I hoped then that this person who wrote that comment would be enlightened one day through God as to who Jesus really was and is. Then, after an intense and emotional Good Friday service, I began to reflect on my own journey of coming to know and appreciate Jesus.
For over a month, I had been looking forward to this Good Friday service at this contemporary worship style church close to my house. I went to a service during my spring break and I remember hearing the pastor say, “Be sure to come to our Good Friday service, when we will really be exploring what Jesus had done for us on the cross. However, I give fair warning: during the service we will be showing a couple of gory and gruesome video clips.” In that moment, I was torn as to whether I wanted to attend that service. It seemed intimidating and intriguing at the same time. For my whole life, I have been completely grossed out by blood: seeing blood, hearing about blood, and reading about blood. I become very queasy, nervous, and light headed with anything associated to blood. However, despite my fear and uneasiness, I wanted to learn more about what exactly happened to Jesus on Good Friday. Truth be told, I never really understood the gravity of not just the immense physical pain but also the emotional pain and weight that Jesus endured on the cross. Since I wanted to deepen my appreciation, I decided to attend the service anyway.
The church was absolutely packed. I sat in the back with my friends, and the service started off with a video. Intense music played in the background and rather frightening images appeared on the screens. First, a clip of a lamb appeared and then a bowl of blood with hands soaked in it followed. I immediately dug my face into my friend’s shoulder. I then relied on her to dictate the other images. She told me that a clip of an ear getting cut off, a man hanged, and finally the cross appeared. ”Is it really bad?” I asked. She shook her head and even looked away from the screen. I felt so defeated in a way that I could not endure watching those clips.
The service progressed with the pastors reading scriptures from the books of Luke, Mark, Matthew, John, and Isaiah. Each verse correlated so well with the video. I thought that would be the only video for the night, but I was proven wrong. After we sang a worship song, another, probably even gorier video appeared. I immediately recognized the song that began to play to it: “How He Loves Us” by David Crowder Band. I absolutely love that song. It’s probably one of the favorite songs. Then a video of Jesus’ crucifixion showed on the screen. I saw the actors, who were the Romans, whip, beat, and crush the actor who was portraying Jesus viciously. After every violent act, Jesus became bloodier and more scarred. It came to a point where there was no piece of skin in tact on the body. However, although I looked away initially, I found myself wanting to look at the bloodshed more and more throughout the video. I was no longer afraid of it, in fact I was intrigued by it. It actually became beautiful to me. Then, they hung Jesus on a wooden cross, and I saw him mouth the words, “It is finished” (John 19:30). After he said those words, his head hung down, signifying his death. Simultaneously, I broke down in tears. It hit my inner core. A huge, overwhelming feeling of grief, love, admiration and gratefulness struck me and reached deeper and deeper in my soul. (I am not trying to sound cheesy or cliche here by all means, but I cannot think of any other way to describe it.) This demonstration was so powerful and well portrayed.
I immediately thought to myself while the video clip was still playing, "Thank you, Jesus! I am so not worthy! You had to bear the weight of such physical torture and God’s wrath pouring out on You, and You did it all for me! Thank you so so much! Having You in my life, and living for You, Jesus, is what being a Christian is all about. I finally understand! I finally understand after all these years! I love You, Jesus!"
It is true: I did not understand the gravity of what Jesus did for me on that cross and I admit that although I have come to a better understanding, I still will not reach a full enlightenment until I meet face to face with Him whenever God calls me home. However, I was reassured of two things: Jesus is my Savior, even though I will never be worthy. He loves me and I am forever grateful.
We then went through communion, and the pastor said “Let us take this bread together, as Jesus once said, ‘Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.’ (1 Corinthians 11:24)” I ate the bread and focused on the words “body” and “broken” like never before. Those words held so much more significance. I ate it in thankfulness. Then the pastor said, “Let us now take these cups together, as Jesus once said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. (1 Corinthians 11:25).” I meditated on these words as well, and I drank it with thanksgiving for Jesus’ “covenant”. It was the most meaningful communion that I have ever taken part of.
Reflecting on this moving experience, one last thing comes to mind. Yes, all our lives are hectic, and often we can feel somewhat distant from Jesus. However, whenever you feel a gap in your relationship with Him, just remember what took place on Good Friday and Easter. Remember why we take part in communion once a month. Remember Jesus’ covenant with God and us. Remember how much He loves You. Be thankful and rejoice in Him. I know I will.
April 7, 2012 ~ 7:20 pm
The sermon that changed my love life
It was a Monday night, and I was lying in my bed thinking that I was coming down with some sort of sickness. I had a bad headache and was questioning whether or not I should attend my NJCF Bible study that night. I quickly prayed to God for an answer and He told me to get up and go. Of course, God always knows what is best for me, and I am so very glad that I went: the message during that meeting changed my life.
That night, a pastor from a local church came to speak to a large group of us (we had combined with other Bible study groups that night). The moment he introduced himself and said that he would talking about Christian dating, I knew I was in the right place at the right time. None of my previous relationships were God-filled, and that is why they failed. I now wanted to learn about the mistakes I made in those relationships, what exactly went wrong, and how to prevent those mistakes in the future. Now, I am striving to have a God-filled relationship with a guy who is a strong believer, and hopefully it will end up in marriage. But how am I to go about this? What does God say about the type of love we’re supposed to have and when we’re supposed to pursue it?
I must admit that I really like this guy in NJCF right now, and he likes me too. I know that the “old me” would have been extremely excited about this and would have tried to jump into a relationship with him right away. However, I now know a whole lot better thanks to this pastor’s message. This message that I am going to share with you has forever changed the way I view relationships. It was a very much needed wake up call from God as to what I have done wrong and what I can now do right.
According to God, what should a relationship look like? How can we glorify Him through one? First and foremost, a true believer must be with another true believer. You must not choose a person based on superficial criteria, such as physical appearance or financial or social status. You must choose a person based on his or her beliefs and relationship with Christ. If a strong believer chooses a nonbeliever, it will be extremely difficult for him or her in that relationship because he or she might be poorly influenced and might ultimately stray away from God. Love, as I have learned the hard way, is gripping, powerful, and controlling. If it is not used in the correct way, it can consume a person in all the wrong ways. God knows the dangers that this bad love can pose, and this is why He wants His people to only date each other. Relationships should have God at the core, and both people should follow his instructions on how to proceed cautiously to prevent unnecessary hurt and negativity. The only way to achieve all this is to date another believer. The only way to achieve this is through Him. For this relationship should be like a love triangle with God at the top and the girl and guy at the bottom on the opposite sides. The closer they both become to God, the closer they ultimately become to each other. God should be the uniting force.
Also, you should only date someone you can see yourself potentially standing before God and making a vow at the alter. Dating should be a courtship, and the relationship should be a gradual, Godly journey from friendship to marriage. It would be a waste of time, energy, and emotion to date anyone you do not see yourself with in the long run. You must ask yourself, does this person have the same values that I have? Does the core of this person match mine?
More over, the slow and steady always win the race in this case. Patience and wisdom are keys here. Yes, and it is extremely hard to be patient when you just want to blurt out your feelings (and sometimes shout them from the mountain tops) and tell that person how much you like him or her and find out his or her feelings for you. Yes, it is extremely difficult to not pursue a relationship when you really want one with that person. I admit that I struggle with this everyday, but I know it will all be worth it in the end. Patience is a true virtue, and it takes a lot of maturity to be patient. In the end, God rewards those who wait, and you just have to know that in the right place at the right time, He will reward you with the person He has made for you. Things will definitely fall into place. So everyday, you must ask yourself, “Can I be patient? Can I wait for God and for that special person?” I know that everyday I must tell myself that I am waiting for him (the guy I like and for God to work in him), but more importantly waiting on Him, my Lord who knows best. And so far, it is definitely paying off!
Also, you must eliminate any self-desire and selfishness. Although you might really really believe that the potential person and a relationship with him or her would be beneficial to you, you must ask yourself, “Is this what I want just because it’s good for me? Is it also best for the other person?” From the beginning, the relationship should be at least a 60-40, where each person gives 60 percent of themselves to the other person and only takes 40 percent for him or herself. Sometimes, it should even be a 70-30. If you honestly know that the potential relationship will only benefit you and not the other person, you must reevaluate and pray about it more. If the relationship is not what the other person wants, you must pray and look elsewhere.
Furthermore, it is also very important to know and admit that the potential relationship is not working. If there are many things that are going wrong or even if you have a bad gut feeling, it means that it is not going to work out. Also, if the other person cannot reciprocate you feelings, it means that it is simply not meant to be. And that is perfectly okay! Do not push a relationship that is not meant to work! God knows who will be best for you. He knows who will be able to complement you. He knows who will be able to encourage, uplift, and fulfill you in His name. So just be patient! If it’s not going to work with that person, as difficult as it might be, you must let it go. Let it go because God said “No”! He has someone and something even better in store for you! Just have faith in this.
Another important point that the pastor brought up is that “no couple should be an island.” Community is key! This means that friends and family must have a say in this potential relationship on both sides. Yes, even your parents! Don’t make your relationship like Romeo and Juliet’s, where they rebel and run away. You must respect their opinions. At all times, your friends and family must keep you and that other person accountable. You must ask them for their honest opinion on the other person and the potential relationship. You must listen to them! If they say “No”, you must reevaluate. Just know that your close friends and family are not out to hurt you, they are here to guide you to the best of their abilities since they know you so well. Also, they can see things that you cannot. For love is blind, and Satan is out to deceive and hurt you. However, God knows this and He always intervenes.
So now, let’s say you’ve finally taken all those previous steps with care, patience, and caution and have now committed to a relationship. Congrats! Now, you can grow even more towards God with that other person! But now what will make your relationship last? How can you make your relationship glorify God? The pastor mentioned that first you must define success with that other person. Does success mean marriage or something else you both can agree on? How will you both work towards this success? He then mentioned that a relationship should be like going to a dinner at a fine restaurant. Your significant other and you must take one course at a time, and savor it! Don’t skip to dessert right away! There should always be a great friendship in place before any romance. Also, the relationship should also be like a kite on a string. Without a string, a kite flies aimlessly high in the sky. The kite becomes out of control and will eventually come crashing down. It is the same with a relationship. Yes, in the beginning love will soar high and it will seem invincible, but without God and without wisdom and patience, it will just crash and burn in the end. A relationship needs that tight string. You let the string go little by little. Along the way, you must guard your heart at all times.
Also, during the relationship you both should grow in the love for God together. Do not steal the other’s love for God. You must not take away that other person’s time and attention from God. You must not direct the other person’s attention towards yourself instead of God. For God should always be the center core of the relationship. Do not rely on your own desires but rather on God’s desires.
Furthermore, although all couples have their squabbles and disagreements, there is a correct way in approaching them. I remember that in my past relationships I used to yell and curse at the other person. Instead of being patient and resolving conflict through a meaningful discussion, I used to blow up. Now, I have realized how wrong that really is. I was not showing the other person respect and love. Now, I have learned that I must communicate with 110% honesty, respect, and patience at all times. So if you feel like your significant other and you are about to engage in a heated debate, take a step away and take a moment for yourself to think it all through. Do not yell, scream, curse, or put the other person down physically or emotionally; for all of this is not demonstrating love and is definitely not reflecting God and Jesus. In difficult times, you must think to yourself “What would Jesus do?” Instead of fighting with verbal or physical abuse, fight with prayer. Pray for the other person and the situation as a whole. Pray for understanding and guidance. It is also equally important to know not to change the other person or yourself in the relationship. You should love the other person and yourself just the way God created you both to be! So what if he does not wear the type of shirt you want him to wear? So what if she likes chick flicks and you don’t? You both must accept100 percent of the other person. After all, He created you each to be unique and special in your own ways.
Most importantly, the pastor stressed to guard your heart every step of the way and practice purity. You both should give of yourselves to each other bit by bit emotionally and physically. Of course, God strongly advises you to wait until your wedding night and there is a good reason. He wants to protect your heart and body from any emotional or physical pain that can ensue from moving too fast. Just remember that He does not want to torture us, but rather He always has our best interests at heart and thus gives us this guidance. Lastly, if you no longer feel respected or can see God in your relationship, it is time to end it. Also, trust your friends’ opinions on this. If they advise you to get out of the relationship, take their advice. Remember community is key in the relationship as well! Friends keep us accountable since they can see aspects of our relationship that we sometimes cannot. Overall, dragging out a relationship that God clearly did not mean to work in the long run will only be detrimental. However, just because a relationship does not work out, it does not mean that God wastes our time, emotion, and love in it. In the end, through relationships, He ultimately teaches us how to love one another, love ourselves, and most importantly, love Him. Have absolute faith that when the time is right, He will bring the right person to you and things will just fall into place!
February 26, 2012- 2:51 AM
When you look in the mirror each morning, as you get ready hastily for your jam-packed day ahead, what do you see? Most of us would probably say that we see the bags or dark circles under our eyes, blemishes on our skin, sleepies in our eyes, and our messy “bed” hair. Some of us might say that we can’t even recognize the reflection of the sleep-deprived zombie that is staring back at us. Basically, from the very moment we wake up, we immediately point out all our imperfections, and we feel the need to “fix” ourselves in ten minutes or less with a myriad of colorful cosmetics and hair products. We put on a whole “new face”- a more “acceptable” face for the public to see. But what if we actually took this time each morning to appreciate our natural looks? What if we actually took this time to thank God for the looks He has given us? Now I know you may think I’m silly or crazy for saying that, but hear me out. Just read on.
I recall a night last December when I walked into one of my suitemate’s room to say “hi” and to see what she was up to. She was watching the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Now, I had heard that this show was going to be broadcasted on television, but I actually did not plan on watching it. However, I was curious to see what it was all about, so I figured I would stay for a maximum of ten minutes. It turned out that I stayed and watched the entire show with my suitemate! During the whole program we were talking about how skinny and disproportionate those models were. (I mean think about it: their legs are as thin as a “normal” person’s arm, their waists are extremely tiny, and yet they have C-cup boobs). Basically, their measurements are not those of an average woman, and it is actually better, healthier, that way. However, most of us females do not realize this, and we covet their size. We say to ourselves “Wow, look at that super model and how good she looks in that skimpy colorful underwear as she struts down the runway as if she owns the world. If only I could look like her. I would then be able to win over and keep the guy I have my eye on. I would then be able to wear any cute clothing I want to. I would then get more attention from everyone, and I could even be famous. Man, I would sure be a whole lot happier if I just looked like that. If only I could look like her…if only.”
Then we take it to a whole new level. After the show, I went onto facebook, and I was immediately overwhelmed by the many statuses about the models in my newsfeed. Many girls wrote statuses such as “Go Adriana!! You’re my girl! What a role model!”, “Go Miranda! You own the world with your beauty!”, “I wish I could be as gorgeous as you, Alessandra!”, and “It’s just so unfair. Why can’t I look like those models? Life is just so unfair.” Do you see what is happening? We are putting ourselves down in the process just because we are not six-feet, fit in a size zero, or have a “perfectly” proportionate face. We are idolizing those models, and some of us even make them our role models! Furthermore, during the show, I remember hearing one model say something along the lines of “I hope to inspire at least one little girl who is watching this show to become a Victoria’s Secret Angel like me. I remember watching one of these shows and wanting to be on the runway. Now I’m here!” She then smiled and laughed. I shook my head when I saw this. I honestly feel sorry for those little girls already. Even from a young young age, they will struggle with the need to strive for the perfect body and look, and it definitely should not be that way.
But what exactly is perfection? I can tell you that these models are nowhere near “perfect” and do not lead the “perfect” lives. Personally, I have a big problem with the fact that these models are called “angels” and actually wear fake wings on the runway and in photos. How are they angels at all? (I mean, they are only “angels” to the men who fantasize about them.) But seriously, what miracles do they perform? Real angels are sent from God to do His work on Earth by spread His love and care to those who believe. They also dwell among God and Jesus in heaven and forever praise them. Also, God works through “real-life angels”, those people who make sacrifices to help others in need. In the process, they serve God and further His work and love on earth. These are real angels and this is true perfection. God is true perfection, and without Him we cannot even come close to it. Although as human beings we will never ever be as perfect as God is, we can certainly try to be a “human perfect” for Him. And you, yes you, can be a part of it, but how?
You must see yourself as a perfect creation of God. Not a “so so” or a “good” creation, but a glorious, beautiful creation! This means that you must stop looking at all your “imperfections” on your body with scrutiny. (Even those Victoria’s Secret Models have imperfections! Every single human does!) You must stop wondering why you don’t look like a super model, and most importantly, you must stop trying to drastically change your image. Instead, you must see yourself as completely beautiful and nothing less.
This is very difficult to do, and I admit that I have struggled seeing myself in this light time and time again. Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I am reminded of how many pimples I might have, how much weight I might have gained since the last time I’ve looked, how short I am, and how some clothing just doesn’t look quite right on me. However, I have realized how silly I have been, and I am then reminded of the dangers of obsessing over my looks…
I remember that I used to like this guy in the past, and I used to be able to see myself in a possible relationship with him. I figured “Hey, we’re good friends and we’re both single. We also understand each other pretty well. He’s a great guy and plus, he is pretty cute. What can go wrong?” However, there was one problem: I was not his physical type. I knew that his “ideal type” was a tall, Caucasian girl with blue eyes and wavy brown hair, and I also knew that I am the almost complete opposite. I admit that I used to feel pretty down on myself during the time I liked him. I would look on facebook at the photos of girls that would probably be “his type” and would instantly remind myself of what I was not. I would look in the mirror and would not like what I saw. I used to ask God, “Why can’t I be white? I would be able to attract more guys. Most American guys don’t like Asian girls. Why can’t I be taller? I hate being short! People think I’m like fourteen! Why, God, why?”
I even took it a step further and tried to mold myself into his “ideal girl”. I would curl my hair with a curling iron, wear tighter prettier clothing, and I even bought five pairs of high heels and wedges! I was that caught up in trying to be his type. Then something came over me. God spoke to me. He told me how ridiculous I was being. He told me that if I have to change myself either inside or out, then a relationship with that guy (or any guy for that mater) would definitely not work out. For if I were in a relationship with that guy, I would constantly not believe in myself and would try to be someone I am not meant to be. I would always be discontent with my looks and eventually with my whole self. I would become extremely insecure and would think pessimistically about myself. I would always look for change and it would not be his fault at all, it would be mine. I have realized how wrong trying to pursue a relationship with this guy would be because God does not want this for me. He does not want me to see myself as short and unattractive. He does not want to see me put myself down. He wants me to love myself just the way I am because He created me. So I realized all of this and trusted Him. I returned the heels (except for the wedges which I really loved) and stopped curling my hair just for this guy. Now I do everything not for a guy, but for myself and for God. I have realized that this great guy and I are only meant to be good friends and nothing else. He deserves someone great and I do too, and I have accepted that we’re just not meant to be.
It was a tough lesson to learn, but I am so glad God instilled this powerful message in my heart: when the time is right He will provide me with a guy who will love me exactly the way I look. I don’t have to change anything because He created me as His masterpiece, His beautiful daughter. There is a reason for the way I look and who I am, and I know that by obsessing with my looks and putting myself down, I am only disappointing God by doubting His creation. He wants me to be content with the way I look, and I can finally say I am. He wants all of us to see ourselves as beautiful creations regardless of the features we have that we might not care for. God wants us to embrace all our features and not compare ourselves to one another because we are all equally beautiful. We do not need to look like a supermodel to be beautiful. So take a second glance in the mirror, and this time, really look at yourself: for God dares you to see yourself as His flawless, beautiful masterpiece.
February 18, 2012 - 11:46 AM
February 6, 2012 - 12:22 AM