How Do You Stay So Positive?

happiness

It was a question via Facebook messenger, completely out of the blue from a high school girl from our Youth Center. She simply asked,

“How do you stay so positive?”

I wanted to hug her.

It’s such a simple, little question packed with SO much.

I remember what it is like to be a teenage girl. It’s overwhelming. It’s difficult. It’s lonely. It’s confusing. I love that this young lady feels all the feels and wants to fight negativity. Fight lies. Fight cynicism. Fight apathy. And have positivity.

Here’s how I responded to her that night (it was late, and a little jumbled :)):

“I know it’s a little cliche-but honestly, it’s my faith. Faith and age 😊 I wasn’t always like this-when I was your age, I was on depression medication, Zoloft, and definitely had breakdowns and felt despair. I’ve even had those in the last couple of years (though the older I get, the less and less frequent that happens). My faith keeps me positive for 2 main reasons: one, I believe that absolutely everything that happens, God can use for good-to grow me into a better woman. He is doing a million different things in my life all at once, for me- for my good, and I only can see a few of them. I believe He is good and patient and kind-so that helps a lot. And secondly, I believe that no matter what happens in this life–it’ll pass. I know it will. And eventually this life will be over and the best life will begin! And that helps me maintain a positive perspective too.

It doesn’t come naturally always. A lot of times i have to “walk myself to truth” and journal out what I know to be true, and what lies I may be believing that are causing my heartache. It doesn’t just happen overnight; it is a journey. But I can say for fact, that choosing joy and fighting for positivity now, is sooooooooo much easier today. So wherever you’re at-keep fighting for joy. Figure out truth and preach it to yourself and have others speak truth to you too! God really is the great Comforter and believing in him-his power & goodness & control- is the only way I’ve found to really BE positive!”

Questions About Satan

questions

I love it when the Youth Center teens ask me random questions. 🙂 Here’s one I got the other day:

“Why does Satan punish sinners? Wouldn’t he be happy you “turned your back on god” and like went to the dark side? Alternatively if Satan punishes sinners why isn’t he considered good?”

Such a fantastic question, right?!

It all boils down to the nature of who Satan is. Is he anti-God, or anti-people? It he a just punisher or an embodiment of total evil?

I was falling asleep last night thinking of this question, and this analogy came to mind:

Imagine I take you on a vacation to the most amazing resort in the world. I pay for the plane ticket, book the rooms, and spend the whole 10 days trying to get to know you and spend time with you and love ya well with a vacation. It’s not perfect-you get sunburn, some bug-bites, etc. but even so, it’s an amazing, incredible trip. 

When the vaca is over, I say to you, “Alright (insert your name). It’s time to go home. Pack your bags and lets go!” I grab my duffle, knowing how much time, money, and energy I’ve spent on this resort-I was HAPPY to do it, because I FREAKING LOVE YOU, but I’m ready for us to go home. I’m at the door with my keys out, and I look behind me and see you lying on the bed playing with your phone. “______, ” I say, “it’s time to go. What are you doing?” 

What you tell me next, is a shot through the heart. You tell me that you don’t want to go home with me. That you’re thankful for the nice room, and the delicious food, and the scuba-diving lessons, but you are pissed about the bugbites, and don’t really enjoy my company. You tell me that you find me boring-or really just not all that important and that you’d much rather just be by yourself than with me. Beside, while I’m there you can’t do the things you REALLY wanna do here in Florida. You tell me I’m a killjoy. Me, the one who took you parasailing and snorkeling and to the best Indian Restaurant you’ve ever experienced -think I’m a killjoy?

I implore you-please come. Don’t stay here-it’s not safe here without me. This is an amazing resort, but the owner is absolutely insane. Without me here to keep you safe–

but you cut me off. “No, Betty. I don’t want to be with you. I don’t want to get to know you. I don’t care if you did all these “amazing things” for me. I don’t care. I just want to be here. Without you. Doing whatever the heck I want. So back off and just go home. And I don’t even believe that @#$% about the owner being a sociopath. He’s probably not all that bad. He’ll probably understand why I didn’t want to go with you.”

We argue for hours. You’re being ridiculous and hurtful. But, you’re an adult. You can make your own decisions. You clearly don’t really know me. You rejected me. So I leave. 

What you won’t believe is that the owner of the resort not only hates me-but he also hates you. He hates everyone. He is a sociopath. If you would’ve loved me-he would have been furious. You hating me makes him a little less mad-but he still hates you. When you choose to stay at the resort-he doesn’t pat you on the back and welcome you to the family of “Betty Haters”–he, evil to the core–begins tormenting you because that is who he is and what he loves to do. 

Do you understand this whole little story? God has given us time here on earth (the vacation)-HE made the earth perfectly habitable, HE gave you gifts and passions and joys, and relationships (snorkeling, etc.) and yes-there is such awful stuff here too, but Satan (the owner of the resort) is the ruler of this present world (2 Cor. 4:4) and brought evil into it. When it’s time for you to die (go home from the vacation) and you choose to NOT go with God, the only alternative is to stay with him. And he is awful. Absolutely awful.

So, Satan doesn’t “punish sinners”-he hates EVERY human. Attacks the righteous ones on earth especially, and then in the afterlife, continues hating all people, whether they were really good or really bad, as long as they rejected Christ-they are with him, and he will do what he loves to do. You “going to the dark side” only brings him joy because that’s one more person to torment, one less person worshipping God is complete fullness of joy in heaven.

Satan is a little bit of a joke in our current culture. And I think he prefers it that way. Laugh about him. Don’t take him seriously. Think he’s harmless. But that is not true my friends. He is real. He is awful. He is heartless.

Two Spurgeon Quotes For Sufferers

I was surprised at the Passion Conference I attended earlier this week, with how much the speakers taught on suffering. They prayed we would thank God, and even one day cherish “the nightmare” he allows in our lives. Thinking about that [difficult] concept brought these two quotes to mind. I pray they bless you, and that God gives us eyes to see!

“I bear my witness that the worst days I have ever had have turned out to be my best days. And when God has seemed most cruel to me he has then been most kind. If there is anything in this world for which I would bless him more than for anything else it is for pain and affliction. I am sure that in these things the richest tenderest love has been manifested to me. Our Father’s wagons rumble most heavily when they are bringing us the richest freight of the bullion of his grace. Love letters from heaven are often sent in black-edged envelopes. The cloud that is black with horror is big with mercy. Fear not the storm. It brings healing in its wings and when Jesus is with you in the vessel the tempest only hastens the ship to its desired haven.” ―C. H. Spurgeon

“No stars gleam as brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky. No water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand. And no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.”
― C.H. Spurgeon

 

 

Incest, Homosexuality, & God’s Ideal

I love my job.

Last Monday night, at a teen girl’s Bible study on the book of Ruth, we read this from chapter one:

But Naomi replied, “Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters!”

I could see the look of terror & confusion on the faces of the 6 girls sitting around me. I tried to explain the value of family/name/inheritances/etc. in that time period and the devaluing of women-especially widows.

But before I could drone on for too long, one of the girl’s said, much to the delight of some other girls in the room, “Oh, so incest is okay, but the gays aren’t?”

Good question!

[SIDE NOTE: It makes me VERY HAPPY that the girls are comfortable enough to say/ask these sort of things. That is a legitimate and completely understandable point!]

I didn’t address the comment too much right then. Partly because I was a little thrown off by it, and partly because I don’t want to make that the focus of the study. But this week when I meet with them, I want to talk about it-because it’s an excellent point, and I want the girls to understand what Christians believe and what we don’t believe. They are hearing a lot of WRONG things about Christianity (from Christians and non-Christians alike!) and I want to help them see where I (and the Factory) stand! And so here’s sort of what I want to say:

God, as the creator of all things, made things for certain purposes. And He LOVES what He made. One of the brilliant parts of His plan was to design male and female to compliment and complete each other-both in body and in self. He made them different, and He made them for each other. Then He established the union of marriage, so that these two people would be committed to each other for life. In so doing, they would have the security of having ONE person who loves them, knows them, serves them-for a lifetime! It would take all that time to grow in understanding of the other person, and a lifetime to grow deeper in love with that one person. He decided to give humankind that long term love so that they could experience a depth of love that one could never experience with just short flings. Love planted in the security of a lifelong commitment, growing through the soils of perseverance, produce the most beautiful and precious flower of being fully known and fully loved.

God could have created just that. Man and woman who compliment each other-are different and help each other with their corresponding strengths and weaknesses, and give them the mandate to be loyal for life-so that their joy is ENORMOUS and their hearts are secure. BUT He did even more than that. He took it a step farther and created sex.

Knowing that a lifetime of commitment would be difficult in many ways, due to people’s own selfishness and the stresses of life-He created sex. The way He designed it is MIRACULOUS. Yes, it is to procreate-but it is so much more than that! It is for UNITY and it is for PLEASURE! In God’s brilliance He decided to give the couple that enters the challenging, rewarding lifetime commitment to one another the gift of intercourse. This gift would bring so much joy, it would bring a closeness and a oneness that is unlike anything else. It would cause the man and woman to love, know, cherish, and protect one another’s bodies. God infused chemical reactions into the process that binds the couple together in an even DEEPER unity and an even DEEPER adoration. It would tie them to each other. Such a unifying act with that one person strengthens their bonds of commitment. The deep intimacy, care, and dependency on one another’s strengths and differences brings about the most wonderful, delightful, glorious union.

THAT is God’s plan for marriage. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Isn’t that #goals? THAT brings US the most joy. And OUR utmost joy, brings HIM JOY.

So the reason He disapproves of homosexuality, is the same reason he disapproves of sleeping around, of having sex before you are married, the same reason He hates one night stands, and cheating spouses. It’s not his perfect plan. It robs us of the joy that we COULD be experiencing if we OBEYED him. That’s what God is all about-us loving him and finding joy and fulfillment in loving Him!

A couple of other things:

  1. I want to remind them of the kindness of this “marrying of relatives”, that incest is strictly forbidden in many parts of the Bible-but this is making sure family takes care of family, in a time where being a family-less widow was among one of the worst possible things could happen to a woman. Women couldn’t inherit anything, they had NO rights, and couldn’t get jobs to take care of themselves. For a widow without a family to take her in, the options were  pretty much just begging, prostitution, or starvation. Being a wife once again, would be protecting, providing, and honoring her. Weird and confusing, I know. But history is history!
  2. Homosexuality is not the unpardonable sin. God lists it among other sins like greed, pride, and stealing. I don’t want to elevate it to somewhere it shouldn’t be.
  3. I love the gays, JUST like I still love my friends who are sleeping with their boyfriends. I just think they are missing out on God’s BEST for them.
  4. God loves the gays. No one is going to hell because of their sexual preference. The only reason people spend an eternity apart from God is if they don’t love God –> meaning they don’t know him (@Jesus) –> meaning they don’t believe and trust Him –> meaning they don’t desire to obey Him.
  5. I don’t expect you  (as a non-Christian) to believe homosexuality is wrong-in fact, I expect you to believe it is FINE! If I were not a Christian, I would be fine with it too. Let’s be tolerate of each other’s views-and agree to disagree.
  6. Lastly, the Bible says that a marriage relationship (in it’s most perfect state) was given to be a picture of the relationship that God wants with humankind! God wants commitment, unity, delight, and teamwork with the Church! And that to me is really cool!

Writing this all out helps me process and prepare! Thanks for reading, and as always, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts!

marriage-2

 

When I Doubt His Love

When I doubt his love

When my Love seems far away

When his gentle touch I cannot feel

When my heart, alone it longs

For me his voice to hear

 

I look through our old photographs

Through fondly journaled memories

I meet with friends who love him too

And my heart is warmed

by the fire of our recollections.

 

In those pages, pictures, stories

I remember with a smile

And a sigh of relief

The days I knew He loved me so

Proofs of delight listed miles upon miles

Upon miles upon miles.

 

He has not changed.

 

We are one.

Have I forgotten?

He is closer than my own soul.

Question his love, commitment, intentions?

A more foolish doubt, I’ll never know.

 

What a sweet gift

This love that answers my fears with more Love.

A protective father’s love.

That answers my doubts with more Love.

A faithful king’s love.

That answers my pains with more Love.

A powerful Lord’s love.

 

He steadfastly pursues my affection

He never left my side.

He’s not done a single thing to earn this mistrust

Yet he patiently resides

in my insecure heart.

While I question and miss his presence,

A presence that is more real than my own.

In my once wicked-now perfected- heart that he chooses to call his little home.