Fear In The Dark

…this blog post was taken from Proverbs 31 Ministries‘ daily e-newsletter. I found it to be appropriate in timing and relevant to the topic. I hope that it touches your heart and mind like it did mine. If you’re not already subscribed to receive the daily devotional encouragement from the ministry, I urge you do to so.

By: Wendy Blight

“… all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land.” Exodus 14:21b (NIV)

God seemed distant and I felt completely alone after I was physically and sexually assaulted at knifepoint in my early 20s. For years after the attack, I lived cocooned in a prison of despair and hopelessness, fear hounding me. Finally, after years of searching for help and believing there was nowhere else to turn, I fell on my knees before God and poured out my tears, anger and questions to Him.

During that very dark time, God lead me to the story of the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt. Initially, Pharaoh agreed to let God’s people go, but soon after they left, Pharaoh changed his mind. He pursued them with 600 of his best chariots and terrified the Israelites. Can you imagine their fear?

They cried out to their leader, Moses. Even though Moses reminded the people of God’s promise that He would deliver them, the circumstances barreling toward them said otherwise. Their reality included Pharaoh’s finest soldiers hot on their heels, and the colossal Red Sea blocking their escape. God’s people had no idea the miracle awaiting them.

When they reached the Red Sea, Moses stretched his hand over the water. Scripture says, “… all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land” (Exodus 14:21b). Because it was dark, the Israelites couldn’t quite see the full picture of what God was doing.

In the black of night, the Lord tirelessly worked on behalf of His children to deliver them, just as He had promised.

It was as if the words of this story leapt off the pages of Scripture and into my desolate heart. Although the Israelites could not see or hear God, He was moving in the midst of their darkness. I too could not “see” or “feel” God, but He was at work around me in invisible ways—present and active on my behalf to carry me through.

The dark is a very scary place to be. Whether it’s the darkness of our fears or circumstances pressing in, we have two choices as to how to respond. We can take matters into our own hands, turning to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain, seeking advice or reading the latest self-help book, never knowing if any of them is the way to healing and wholeness. Or we can look to God. We can pray and open His Word, knowing He guarantees healing and wholeness.

For years I tried the first approach to deal with my darkness. Yet each attempt to help myself failed. It was only when I turned to God, crying out for His help, that things started to change.

Would you like to experience God’s help for yourself? Ask. The Lord promises, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV). Like He was for the Israelites, God is there for us. And He is always working on our behalf, even when we can’t see or feel Him.

Today, if you are in the darkness … if your circumstances are threatening to consume you … if you feel utterly defeated … seek the Lord. Ask Him to rescue you and remember this, He is there … parting your “Red Sea.”

Dear Heavenly Father, it’s so difficult to walk through darkness. You feel so far away. I feel so alone. Thank You for the promise that You will never leave me or forsake me, and that there is nothing in all creation that will ever separate me from the love I have in You and in Your Son. Walk ever so closely with me during this darkness, Lord. Speak to me. Give me hope. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Picking the Right Partner

What is a healthy relationship? What does it look like? So many people have so many different opinions and perspectives.

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Oftentimes relationships require us to modify certain personality characteristics like thinking of another above ourselves or picking up the daily trail of dirty clothes left in the living room. There are certain character flaws that we can choose to modify when trying to woo a special someone—heck, we might even change our hair or lose a few pounds. But healthy relationships will never require you to sacrifice who you are or what you believe.

In fact, your significant other should be actively seeking to support you, in all that you are—your values, your hobbies—while the two of you might not share exact common interests, it is important to be understanding and supportive to one another.

Be careful not to over analyze because of your differences—think your relationship is a failure because you and your partner aren’t following certain “rules” or meeting certain standards? Dr. Phil blows the whistle on 10 of the most common but dangerous relationship myths. These are a few that I particularly struggle with…

MYTH #1: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP DEPENDS ON A GREAT MEETING OF THE MINDS

MYTH #2: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES A GREAT ROMANCE

MYTH #4: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES COMMON INTERESTS THAT BOND YOU TOGETHER FOREVER

MYTH #8: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP CANNOT SURVIVE A FLAWED PARTNER

MYTH #10: YOUR RELATIONSHIP CAN BECOME GREAT ONLY WHEN YOU STRAIGHTEN YOUR PARTNER OUT

 

Ephesians 5:21 tells us that we should be “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Once you discover your true worth, it’s much easier to determine what you expect in a partner. When others call me picky to insinuate a negative over-critical attitude, I actually take it as a compliment. I certainly am picky. After being involved in enough relationships where I put others above myself at my own expense, finding my equal is what I deserve. It’s what everyone deserves.

Don’t settle. You were made for more.

The Rest of MY Story

I felt it necessary, before you would put your faith and trust in me to understand, empathize and relate to any situation or experience you may have found yourself in regards to domestic violence, it was first important for me to share my story.

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Growing up an only child, there was a sense of entitlement that came along with it. I was the queen—#1—and the apple of my father’s eye. I assumed the role of the equal and was put on a pedestal.  The relationship between my parents was not that of one I would consider healthy—there was a lot of negativity, resentment and anger that brewed between the pair. At the time, I thought I did a good job at ignoring it and focusing my attention on me and how important I was…

The situation at home finally came to a head when they got a divorce when I was 15 years old. Unshaken, I remained at the center of my father’s universe—until he got remarried 3 years later.

At the time, I felt a sense of betrayal; a sense of love-loss; and a real sense of rejection. I was knocked from my place of importance to feel like a throw away. I internalized all of these emotions—and began searching.

My searching led me down a path of destruction—drugs, alcohol, partying and especially destructive, dysfunctional relationships. You see, since I was young, I always had a tendency to be a nurturer…seeking out those who were in need and finding a way to meet those needs. While this characteristic is often viewed as something positive, it can and has, if not reigned in, led to negative dependencies and unhealthy addictions to use this gift to fill a void. Especially in relationships, I felt as if I can meet his needs, then he will want me. He will feel like he needs me and keep me around. I will finally be worthy of love.

Hindsight, this chaos of emotions and unstable mentality is what led me to choose the relationships and romantic partners I did. It started out harmless enough (or so I thought) but as the pain got stronger, the relationships got worse. As one dead-end relationship ended, I searched for a way to fill the love-void and moved into the next dysfunctional one. I found myself in situations where I was being taken advantage of financially, being emotionally abused and even physically assaulted. My self-esteem and self-worth were non-existent and the relationships I stayed in reflected every bit of it.

I was one of the lucky ones. I escaped. But it was ONLY by the grace of God that I was able to do so.

Once I finally stopped running away from the only One who could ever fill my love-void, I was finally able to break free from the lies and destruction—to see my true worth and value in Him.

I am still a work in progress, and my guard is still like Fort Knox, but seeing my blessing in being able to come out the other side has made me a stronger woman, a stronger Christian and a more determined advocate for those who find themselves in the same place I was in.

If you are struggling in finding your value—stop looking to the empty relationships of this world to fill your void. There is only One who can ever love you like you deserve. How much are you worth?

Matthew 10:29-31
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Still not convinced? Try this…

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

You mean so much to God that He gave His ONLY Son. Stop believing the lies and start believing the Truth. You were made for more.

Who Died and Made You Boss? Jesus.

“Wives, submit to your husbands…” Ephesians 5:22

This is one of the most misrepresented and distorted scriptures in the Bible. Often, men use a verse like this that instructs them to take authority over their household as a misguided instruction to become a ruthless dictator. Our culture praises a macho “tough guy” and insults meekness as weakness.

Well, listen up fellas—only God can give authority. God has given men a unique role as leaders of our homes and families. A man can only have authority to rule over his domestic kingdom if, and only if, he is operating under his own submission to the Will of God.

Most of the time, the reciprocated scripture that follows is foolishly overlooked…

v.25 – “…Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”

If a man operating under his own authority, he has no authority at all. His love for his wife should mimic Christ’s love for the church—a Holy, sacrificial, pure, unconditional love.

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So lets break this stigma. Here are some helpful “myths about male authority” from Charisma Mag:

Myth #1: Male authority means male dominance. Men must understand that mature masculinity in Scripture has to do with our strength to serve and sacrifice for the good of the woman. Luke 22:26 gives the general servant-leadership paradigm: “’But among you, those who are the greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant’” (NLT). Ephesians 5:25 gives the home version of it: “And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church.”

Myth #2: Exercising strength leads to abuse. The strength that is shaped to provide and protect will not turn to hinder and hurt. They are two different mentalities. Just like muscle does not turn to fat (though sometimes it appears like that), they are two different types of body tissues. When we don’t exercise strength in the right way, we will lapse into throwing our weight around in the wrong way. “If you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face” (Rom. 12:8, The Message).

Myth #7: If men lead in the home, then they will be free to boss women around in all society. Actually, male servant-leadership is not about “bossing” anyone around anywhere. The servant-leadership that a man is given in the home does not extend beyond it into society. So male responsibility for leadership in the Christian home (see Eph. 5:23) cannot be projected into business or government or any other societal institution.

Myth #8: Authority is about making declarations, not taking personal responsibility to see them through to a beneficial end. Wrong! Men have a terrible reputation for being opinionated without being responsible.

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If you find yourself in a situation that seems more like you’re living under the rule of Stalin, rather than the rule of Jesus—it might be time to take a second look. Relationships are two way streets that should work to empower the people in it and the One who made it possible.

Flag on the Play – Love Ain’t No Game

He’s cute. He gives me attention. Sometimes he raises his voice to me and calls me names, but he always apologizes and tells me he doesn’t mean it. He tells me he needs me. He gets jealous a lot but that just means he cares. I mean, after all, he is cute.

I know. I’ve been there. Oh, what I wish I would’ve been concerned about then….

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The following is from Proverbs 31 Ministries “Everyday Life” Radio Show with Lysa TerKeurst. For more, visit http://proverbs31.org/blog/the-red-flags-in-dating/

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 A group of teenage girls were recently asked if they would date a boy simply because he was good-looking.

Most said yes, they would date someone on good looks alone. My friend who was asking the question asked another, “But what do you know about him?” The silence made her point.

She then talked with the girls about 5 red flags to look for before entering a dating or courting relationship with a guy.

Does he lose his temper frequently? Does he consider himself a failure and seem to be looking for a rescuer? Has there been abuse in his home? Does he often put you down or disrespect you? And, does he appear to be jealous, controlling, or need to spend all his free time with you?

I thought these questions could help everyone avoid getting into a situation that could lead to heartache!

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With so many negative societal influences telling boys that it’s okay to objectify women and telling girls that it’s okay to be treated as less than, it is so vitally important to make boys and girls aware, often at very young ages, what is and what isn’t acceptable in terms of treatment of the opposite sex—in relationships and in life. 

Love is not a game but we should be making the rules. If you are raising children or involved in a child’s life, please teach (by instruction and example) your sons how to treat a lady and your daughters what it’s like to be treated like queens.

Be the example. Set the standard. Stop the cycle of domestic violence.