Friday, 29 December 2017

Knowing Your Worth

Learning to trust God in the area of relationships has been difficult for me. I read books and I observe couples in churches who tell us to trust God for a wonderful spouse who’ll respect and see our worth. But at the back of my mind; I’d think if only they knew where I come from- who’d honestly want to be with someone as me. But I realize that I am no exception, many people in the Church are from broken backgrounds and we all need healing. We might appear strong and seem as if we have it all together, but we are all a work in progress. We should not allow our past mistakes to hold us back. The greatest lesson we can ever learn is that our past does not equal our future; how beautiful is the gift of repentance!

I close my 2017 chapter by sharing how being in what I consider a toxic relationship compelled me to understand the true meaning of “knowing your worth”. We hear that a lot in Churches and inspirational platforms yet still are unable to practice its knowledge. It’s like we are being told to know our worth and are expected to transform immediately upon hearing those words, but it’s going to take more than that. Experience is a great teacher- our failures and infirmities help us greatly. I know I have been dragging the issue of being in a toxic relationship for quite some time now simply because it had such a profound impact in my life. I took time to analyze, cry, blame, get angry, and discover great lessons from the experience. It was one of the defining moments in my life of whether to continue running the race or to simply retire. The wonderful thing about being chosen by God is that your faith depends on Him. If it had depended on us, discouraged by our shortcomings we would have long given up. “He guides us in the paths of righteousness for HIS NAME’S SAKE.”(Psalm23:3).

Little girls need a male figure in their lives to provide them with protection and masculine strength. When that is not provided for they tend to search for it elsewhere most commonly in dating relationships. This was also an issue with me. Living with different kinds of people and in different environments, I never had the privilege of masculine strength or protection. Rather the boys around me saw me as someone they could exploit sexually thus making my relationship perception with males all about sex. However, when Jesus saved me and I got into the Church, I began believing that there is a healthier approach to the opposite sex which I could take. Those early years of salvation I had the greatest privilege of experiencing the pure love of Jesus and His Church, and so I began to trust. This explains why I was able to maintain self-control and discipline with other guys yet became weak when a guy came to me as a pastor preaching the Word of God. I let my guard off because I had the idea that Church leaders, assuming that they fear God and desire to really honor Him, could be trusted. Now, I realize that placing our worth and destiny in the hands of another regardless of their title is extremely dangerous. In His Word, God gives us the tools to really understand the dynamics of life, of people, and of our worth. Women are not insubordinates but by reading God’s Word they come to a realization of their true worth and power. As little girls, scripts from childhood have been handed over to us: that we are weak, we are powerless, and that we need to depend on the same men who are exploiting us and this renders us powerless in an evil world. So as adults we get into relationships and are unable to hold our own, to stand up for ourselves, to say goodbye to anyone who does not meet our standard, and we fear calling out disrespect when we experience it.

In Isaiah 43:4 God says to Israel, “Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.” God was speaking to the Israelites but since He is no respecter of persons, and has redeemed us all, we all can view ourselves as honorable and precious in the sight of the Creator. This counteracts every negative script that has been handed over that tries to diminish our worth. Something of honor has great weight, is highly respected, and has great esteem. And Precious? It means that in God’s sight you are of great value, you are not to be wasted or treated carelessly! This knowledge plays a great deal in helping us know our true worth.

When you get into a relationship knowing your worth it does not matter what the other party does or doesn’t do, what matters is what you do with what you know. I entered that relationship fully equipped with the Word of God knowing exactly that my responsibility as His servant is to obey His commandments. However, after fornicating I shifted the blame firstly on the guy for not protecting my purity and then on God for not protecting me since He knew what was going to happen. But God had protected me a long time ago by revealing His Word to me. In Mathew 7: 15-16, Jesus said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” Isn’t it amazing that regardless of the stern warning we still choose to be deceived by charm, eloquent speech, and physical appearance? If you are a Christian and someone comes to you impersonating a different character than he is, God allows his whiskers to inevitably pop out so that you can take heed and flee, however we still choose to ignore the fruit. Instead of addressing the truth as has been flashed upon us, we dodge it by becoming sexual and claim that it’s love. As a result, by jumping into sex too soon with someone we barely know, we make it extremely hard to leave a relationship that is toxic and filled with drama. Knowing my worth means that I cannot blame the other person for fornicating with him, I have to protect my own purity and obey God for myself; otherwise I’ll go through a repeated series of pain and hurt whilst playing the victim. No one is a victim especially when they have access to the Word of God.

In the novel, The Color Purple, black women are oppressed due to their low economic status. I won’t get much into detail on this but I wish to convey the inspiration all women can draw from Alice Walker, who paints one of her characters Celia, as one who defied the odds and burned down the narratives the world tried handing over to her. She wrote her own narrative. After enduring years of oppression and abuse, she made something beautiful out of her life by writing letters to God and forming meaningful relationship with powerful women around her. This is what happens with real people when they link up with God and form relationships with other women who know their worth- Women who know that they don’t need to compete against each other or fight amongst themselves over men with no character or integrity. Celia also teaches us that even when shamed and disgraced by life’s circumstances, deep down we still possess our inherent worth and can still have beauty out of what’s left of us.

One more thing I would like to share with you is that when we invite Jesus to our chaotic existence, He sends down clarity, peace, strength, and wisdom. We may possess no integrity or strength whatsoever to obey His Word, but when we cry out to Him He sees our cries for mercy and then clothes us with strength and dignity. During the time I was working on myself and analyzing the whole experience in that relationship, I had moments when I went back and forth with the guy through digital communication. It’s like we both still wanted to be together- personally because I believed that our relationship was short-lived and maybe we didn’t allow ourselves to grow in it. I don’t know what his reasons were. He came to my place; I was excited to see him, believing that it was time for us to rectify our mistakes and begin afresh. I thought that like me, he felt remorseful about us fornicating so he wanted to do things the right way this time around. We however started kissing and I could see that he was getting ready for action. But thank God I’m not that naïve gullible girl that he saw the first time, God had clothed me with some strength and dignity. He showed me my worth, I’m not a cheap girl that any person who desires to have sex can just come and lay down with. Just because a guy wants to have sex with me does not mean that he loves me, nor does it make me worthy. Resisting sexual advances from someone I found myself attracted to was just the grace of God that taught me to say no to ungodliness. He has drawn my desires towards holiness not the instant pleasures of the flesh. Why should I lose what I have just because I’m excited that someone wants to have sex with me or because I’m afraid to choose what is right and best for myself? Many times we believe that once we fornicate with a guy it becomes a pattern which is hard to break. We believe that we cannot be free, hence we still cling to our exes and the experiences we had with them. We resist the beautiful plan of God for our lives by repeating the same sins over and over and over again! This is not our lot, nor our portion.

Knowing your worth means knowing really who lives inside of you. The power that raised Jesus from death is really the same power that lives in you! You are not a product of your past or your mistakes, but what God says about you. From Him you can draw strength, purity, wisdom, and self-control. You can grow; you can become new, you can learn from your mistakes and do things differently. Most importantly, you can know that your worth is not tied to anyone but in your relationship with Christ.

“Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace, you will not be humiliated.”- Isaiah54:4

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Abiding In Truth

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. –John 18:38

With all that was happening during the events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion, I presume many people in the chaotic situation such as Pilate wondered what the truth could be. He asked, “What is truth?” but never got a response. Personally, I have moments in my Christian journey when I contemplate and reflect on what truth could be. I wake up in the early mornings and with all my being strive for truth. In the hope of hearing an audible voice from the One whom I seek, I resort to clinging to the Bible as the only truth. There are moments where circumstances are favorable and in accordance with my morning prayers, but more times also when my faith and the truth I know is tested. It becomes chaotic. Inner turmoil, anger, resentment, and blame towards God are not uncommon in how I feel at this stage of my Christian journey. Yet still, I seek truth.

My experience in a relationship which I consider as toxic drove me to search for truth. Through that experience I realized how easy it is to be deceived by one’s own illusions and other people’s pretense. I went into the relationship with a naïve mindset thinking that the person I was involved with would protect my sexual purity since he had claimed to be a pastor. Anyone can be a pastor these days anyway…does truth even matter when it seems as if anyone can get away with anything? The time I got into the relationship I was not thinking rationally. The mistake I made was that while I was being pursued, I did not take some time to pray and wait, and seek the truth of God regarding the relationship. I got deceived by the idea of being in a relationship without first committing my decision to the Lord and seeking His wisdom, strength, and maturity to be able to handle the challenges that arises henceforth. And then when things did not go according to the vision I had in mind for my relationship, I blamed God- that He could have protected me, why didn’t He?

Nothing will be right if it is wrong. Nothing that is wrong will ever come out right. - CS Lewis

As Christians we tend to establish our lives on falsehood and expect Godly results. We really deceive ourselves into thinking that we can live however we want to live and speak some positive affirmations that will counteract the seeds we are planting through our actions. We expect God to just give us what we want without really loving Him or wanting Him. We want what we want so God must just give us what we want! The Christian life is more than this; it is abiding in the truth. “What is truth?” Pilate asked. The enlightenment to this question in my life comes through sufferings, fallings, and weaknesses. Could truth be forgetting my personal ambitions and desires and follow the route of self-denial? Could it be laying down my wishes for marriage, fame, and riches? Could truth be giving up the need to make decisions that prompt me to cater to my flesh at times when it seems insignificant?

In my pursuit of searching for truth I realize that inevitably abiding in truth should set me free. “To the Jews who believed in Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold on to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”- John8:31-32. The fact of always having to bear the painful consequences of our sins is a result of attempting to escape the truth that we know during tempting and challenging moments. We think we could just ‘put in a lie’ here and there and still expect God to work. Our churches are filled with a lot of noise and no operation of the Spirit of God because we have gotten away with falsehood in our little lives and when we get together as a Church there is lack of power but only a show! One other thing is that we tend to make excuses for and rationalize our sins which prevent us from moving forward in our Christian journey.

I tend to blame God a lot regarding the relationship I got myself into. Bursting out in tears I shout, “You should have protected me!” Protected you from what?, you ask. From myself, from deception. But though I desired the right thing, I was willing to compromise and entertain falsehood. As I abide in truth I discover that the excuses I make of loneliness and wanting intimacy are just a make-pretense for continuing in a sinful I even ready to pay the price that comes with marriage. If I’m not willing to accept the truth that intimacy is found in abiding in Christ’s love, I will embrace the lies that it’s all about pleasures of the flesh. How can God protect me when I want nothing to do with the truth? “Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life” how can He protect me when I don’t want Him but only what He can give me? As I seek the truth I am inspired by Ellen G White’s words, “Satan can present a counterfeit so closely resembling the truth that it deceives those willing to be deceived, who desire to shun the sacrifices demanded by the truth. But it is impossible to hold under his power one soul who honestly desires, at whatever cost, to know the truth.”

We should not make prayers that aren’t aligning with the truth of God’s Word. We should not allow emotions though they’re so powerful to stray us away from the truth that we know. We should not allow the confusion and chaos of our circumstances to cause us to forget the truth of God’s promises, lest we be deceived by counterfeits. 

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Abiding in The Love of Christ

Two girls possessed a letter which one of my colleagues got a hold of. He brought the letter to our office, read it aloud to us as we all laughed in mockery. In the letter, the girls friend, fourteen years old, apologized to a boy for not being worthy enough for him. She was sorry that she doesn’t wear makeup and that she’s not perfect, yet the overarching theme was the yearning of being loved by the boy. She’s only 14! She reminded me of my childhood years when all I knew was to run behind boys and beg for their love. She reminded me also, of my late teens and early twenties when I sought the love of men through indecent behavior. Feeling void of love can cause us to do crazy things, for not only is this girl and I seeking love but the masses out there. I’m certain it would come as a shock to many that God is also seeking love, our love.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”- Mark 12:30

The Bible states that men and women have been created in God’s image. John and Stasi Eldredge describe this phenomenon in an interesting way in one of their books, CAPTIVITING. They stated that being created in the image of God, both male and female reveal the mystery of God’s image. Since the men are bigger built, they portray the strength, power, and protectiveness of God. In contrast women portray the vulnerability of God in seeking love; in being warm and inviting, in being care takers, and in showing wrath and jealousy over their lover. It is stated in Exodus 20:3-5 that God said to His people that “They should have no other gods before him. They should not make for themselves idols in the form of anything. They should not bow down to them or worship them, because He is a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers of those who hate Him, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.”
Wouldn’t you agree that the same aspect described above reveals aspects of the female character? Women tend to get jealous when they feel that their partners are giving someone priority over them. Some reveal fury and wrath when they become second best to their lover. However, when most women are loved accordingly they cultivate the love. They extend mercy and grace towards their imperfect lover. They go all out and invest much in the love they’re in.

When I was in a relationship earlier this year, most of the time I was not receiving the love and affirmation I needed from a lover. The time I was supposed to feel more loved was the time I felt more alone, insecure, and unhappy. Fortunately, by the help of the Holy Spirit I learned to seek the love I so desired in spending time with God. In those early mornings, I began to experience contentment, validation, and strength from the Lord even when I wasn’t getting it elsewhere. I also learned that He delighted in hearing me express my love for Him. The same love I needed was the same love He wanted from me. In abiding in pure, reciprocal love, the early mornings in prayer which I continue to this day became a symphony.

The love that fourteen-year old girl is seeking can only be founding in abiding in the love of Christ. Only His love can fill the void of insecurity, invalidation, and discontentment we experience. He desires to lavish love into our weary and broken hearts but we don’t care to make time for Him. We are busy scrolling through our television channels all day; busy scrolling through our phones…we place other things and people (gods) as a priority to Him. We make time to seek love by writing letters, offering our bodies, and sacrificing our time and energy in people or things that mock our need for love.

The result of abiding in Christ’s love is phenomenal! It is seen in the character of an individual. The shame and weaknesses have been removed and is now clothed in strength and dignity. In His love our foolishness is being covered by an outpouring of heavenly wisdom. Oh, let’s talk of that remarkable beauty!? The stench of sin is removed by His love as He rubs of His remarkable beauty on us. Nothing could ever replace the value of abiding in the love of Christ!

Abiding in the love of Christ enables us to have a place in society. We are not cast off. We are not damned. We are given another chance, we are strengthened. We discover that some of our acts of rebellion and disobedience to God’s word stem from the throbbing need for intimacy. And the Spirit of God teaches us that intimacy can be found in the indescribable and unending love of Jesus. We learn that we don’t need to beg for affection when we can freely attain it in His presence. He teaches us true love. Love for self and love for Him. He allows us to experience something great- that only he alone satisfies, and “in ALL things we become more than conquerors through Christ who loves us!”(Romans8:37)

One thing that the enemy of our souls tries to disconnect s from is the love of God. We can get caught up in many things but when we miss Gods love we miss the essentials of the Christian life. When we experience His love we know how to respect and honor Him, we learn how to value ourselves and the gift of salvation HE has given us. We learn not to just give into the desires of the flesh. We learn that not abiding in His love will cost us our peace and contentment. The love of Christ changes and makes a great difference in us, it completes us, so it is essential that we never cease from abiding in it. Instead of begging people to love us, to see our worth, and to validate us, let us pursue Him. 

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Just For Today by Dale Carnegie

1.       Just for today I will be happy. This assumes that what Abraham Lincoln said is true, that most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Happiness is from within; it is not a matter of externals.

2.       Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business, and my luck as they come and fit myself to them.

3.       Just for today I will take care of my body. I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse it, or neglect it, so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.

4.       Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought, and concentration.

5.       Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways; I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do, as William James suggests, just for exercise.

6.       Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress as becomingly as possible, talk low, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticize not at all, nor find fault with anything and not try to regulate nor improve anyone.

7.       Just for today I will try to live through this day only, not to tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do things for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep them up for a lifetime.

8.       Just for today I will have a program. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests, hurrying and indecision.

9.       Just for today I will have a quiet half-hour all by myself and relax. In this half-hour sometimes I will think of God, so as to get a little more perspective into my life.

10.   Just for today I will be unafraid, especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love, and to believe that those I love, love me.

Monday, 25 September 2017

The Toxic Nature of Counterfeit Love (PART 6)

Continues from previous blog...

It was so difficult. He wanted me, I wanted him but it could not work because the trust between us was broken. I wanted to hold on not only because he kept coming back after I dumped him, but because I felt that at least he still wanted me even though he had seen and felt the most intimate part of me that other men had rejected. He was afraid that I would put him on an emotional roller coaster by constantly dumping him and I was afraid that he would not love me the way I needed to be loved. I was skeptical of the fruit of our relationship. Maybe we were just toxic for each other...maybe we both just needed time. This brings me to the last nature of toxic people; they’re not bad people but they’re hurt. There was a time when he introduced me to someone as his “police friend” (although it was something we schemed together) only later to discover that some police woman, whom I think is his ex, had a child with someone else as he once mentioned that his ex had a child with someone else.
 I felt that he was carrying the hurt he experienced through their relationship into all his relationships and he was just looking for something or someone to replace his ex. And in the process, he was hurting people. Toxic people are hurt, and hurt people hurt people. They’re not willing to deal with the painful experiences they endured, like take maybe a year’s off from dating, but would rather jump from one person to another and in most cases the infatuation of counterfeit love quickly fades. Toxic people can be healed and it does not mean that they are evil. It just means that they need to pour out their hurt at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to fix them. These kinds of people will leave an imprint in your heart that leaves you searching for answers, and the reality is, you’ll never get the answers because they also don’t know why they do what they do. You’ll just have to be patient enough to wait on God to reveal why you had to go through what you did in due time.

How do I know this? Because I once was toxic. I was broken and hurt by all the evil experiences I had gone through by the cruelty of other people’s choices. I went on social media and picked people to give me affirmation and validation. If I got tired of this one, I would move on to the next. I would be so careless in my sexuality all at the expense of counterfeit love. I would confuse people in my conversations and not really connect with them because I had a distorted view of reality. Everything was all about me. I went to church and sat in the front seat praying the loudest in tongues but on weekends I was getting drunk, smoking weed, and willfully fornicating. I was okay with a double standard life. Until I came to the feet of Jesus on 15 April 2012 and I surrendered all my hurt to Him. He gave me a new nature, and now though I fall, I can never be comfortable with sin.

When I go through such experiences I have fear: am I cut out for true intimacy or do I just want too much for someone with a past like mine. I am caught in between the experiences of my past influencing me not to aim too high, and the calling of God to come up to a higher level. I’m like, how long will I continue to fall? Why do I feel so strong one moment and the next deep in the miry clay of sexual sin? But Jesus continues to call me to a story greater than what I could have written for myself. I feel so empty and broken but I’ve recommitted myself to trying again.

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope- the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”- Titus2:11-14 

This is the hope of the Gospel.

The Toxic Nature of Counterfeit Love (PART 5)

Continues from previous blog...

Later during the same day (Sunday after church) I was bored at home and missed him so I asked him if I could visit him and just chill. He said that he would love that! When I got to his place he had a glass of alcohol on the table and was drinking. I decided to keep quiet about it. I found him lying on the couch watching a movie so I joined in. He was so enthusiastic about the movie and I asked questions because I saw it interested him just so it could at least feel like we were communicating. 

After the movie he changed the channel to watch wrestling! I went on my phone and came across an article on how you’ll know that you were meant to be with someone. Tears were rolling down my face as I read. I was feeling so starved of love and affection, I was with him but feeling very lonely more than I had been when he was not in my life. I couldn’t bottle it up anymore so I stood up and asked him if he really does want to be with me. He sighed again in disappointment that I was starting again with my nagging. He wanted to find out why I had asked that. I told him because we don’t talk, that he was busy watching TV while I’m right there. He said, "Okay, what do you want to talk about?" I said, "I don't know...".  "You want to talk but you don't have anything to talk about?", he asked laughing. Toxic relationships make you feel like you are crazy, like you just don't know what you want. Why couldn’t we just communicate and be a normal couple?  I started crying, I could not help it as I expressed myself. “When I was single I was so happy, and I asked God for a partner.” I prayed about it, why was I not experiencing what I had prayed for? Had God forgotten me? Was this all a lie? Is this the testimony of grace that I would tell people for waiting on God for pure intimacy? I remembered his message at Church earlier about asking God for His kingdom to come on earth when we were facing challenges. So I got down on my knees and began praying about our relationship and for him- asking God for His kingdom to come in our relationship as it is in heaven. One thing I learned from the relationship is that being Christian does not mean we are going to have an easy life. After leaving my ex’s I was expecting God to give me a perfect partner. I thought that’s how it goes when you’re in the will of God; everything becomes so smooth since you had been waiting on Him. It’s the influence of social media…people mean good to share their stories and how God came through for them and we covet their experiences.

We fought so much about what seemed like the little things, but everything stemmed from the fact that he came to me with a bible but during the course of time his fruit revealed something else. I felt deceived and hurt. I dumped him all the time and he would come asking me back. He would tell me how I’m his life but would not treat me as such! He would fail to keep his promises, he would take long to respond to my messages and that gave me so much insecurity. On one evening we were supposed to have our bible study on video calling but he remained quiet. He had been with his friends that day so I assumed that he was still with his friends when I went to bed tired. The next day I asked him what had happened and he told me that he was extremely drunk that he didn’t even know how he got home. I laughed about it at least grateful that he had been honest with me. I asked him though why he was behaving like a teenager and he shut me off completely by saying that i was now insulting him! It happened again one evening that he didn’t keep his word on us having bible study. I sent him a whats-app text and realized that it got delivered but wasn’t read. During the course of the night the message was read and only the following day at around 8:30-09:00 a.m he responded saying that he fell asleep on the couch. That led me to dump him again because I was afraid to be led by someone who won’t keep his commitment to me on such seemingly small matters. I imagined him drunk or having another girlfriend from his church, fornicating, hence he could not even keep his word. I imagined a future with him as his wife constantly dissapointed that he didn't make it to important family matters because he had been drunk.

That was the final goodbye.

The Toxic Nature of Counterfeit Love (PART4)

Continues from previous blog...

One Sunday I asked to go to his Church with him, he was preaching there. It was a cold morning and I wore a dress and a winter cardigan (sort of a blanket). When I got in the car I felt like he was embarrassed by what I was wearing or something it was just in the way he looked at me. He even asked if it was that cold. I said, “Okay let me go change”. I got in the house took off the cardigan and wore something lighter. I could be reading much into this but he had a way of making me feel ugly, so low, unloved, and unappreciated. I just wanted him to see me, love me, and delight in me just like I did in him with his bright orange shirts.

We got at church and had to wait a while for the doors to be opened. While we waited in his car there was a bitter silence, he closed his eyes and leaned backwards on his seat. I could never penetrate through him; there was just no conversation whatsoever. The gestures of me holding his hands were met with no reciprocity. I thought maybe he’s not the type to show affection, but at least try to communicate about it?

As we entered the church after the long wait he said to me that he does not know where I’ll sit because he usually sits in the front. It felt like I was being rejected. Fortunately life had prepared me for such situations. He went to the front row and I sat behind him. As his woman, or even simpler, someone he invited to Church, I expected him invite me to sit with him. I tried to compose myself during the service reminding myself that I am here primarily to worship God. It was not easy though. Next to me was a lady sitting right behind him and they talked briefly and smiled and laughed with each other, it felt like I was not there, that I was not seen. As he preached I was so proud of him! His message was so humorous and powerful! He really seemed like the perfect pastor any girl would want to have! After the service, the congregation got into a line to hug him and the senior pastor of the Church, I guess it’s one of the rules of the Church. I followed them and he hugged me like I was just an ordinary person. I did not know what to make of this. He took me to his car and got back to the church as he had been called for a brief meeting. I felt that as my future husband he could have at least allowed me to be there if introducing me was a challenge.

As we drove back there were so many things I wanted to tell him but I just composed myself because I didn’t want to seem nagging. I complimented him on his message and how fortunate I am that I get to listen to him personally. He smiled and showed appreciation. I realized that I had developed a fear to express my true feelings, there was this environment created that I am just too much or I want too much. I was afraid of expressing my feelings because I felt that I was always nagging and expecting much from him while he was doing his best. Everybody was appreciating him for his sermon and here I come wanting to complain and cramp his style. We drove across a group of drunken people on the way and he slightly bumped into one with the side rear view mirror of his car. I felt the veins in my head constricting by the sound of it and expected him to stop and ask if the guy was okay. But all he said was, “Drunken idiot” and drove off. His behavior made it hard for me to believe that he had ever experienced the love of Jesus. There was so much fear and uncertainty in me.

He dropped me off.

The Toxic Nature of Counterfeit Love (PART 3)

Continues from previous blog...

He came to me one Friday and the initial agreement was that we were going to spend the weekend together, but he said it would depend because he wanted to go to Church that Sunday. I asked him what we were going to do all weekend and he said we can go to the mall on Saturday. He arrived at my place Friday evening and he found me reading my Bible excited that he was here and that we were going to do bible study together in real life since we got into the habit of doing it every morning on video calling. To my alarm my boyfriend was staggering from drunkenness. Not only did he come with alcohol to my place, he had been drinking on the way as he drove! Where is the responsibility in that? I tried to be the good girlfriend and put some food for us which he brought for him to eat and after he was done eating he dozed off on the couch! I thought he was joking or something but in a few minutes he was snoring. I continued reading my Bible and literally feeling the prompting of the Holy Spirit as I read! Yet on the other hand I was craving for intimacy, not sexual but verbal intimacy. I wanted us to talk, to communicate, to laugh, hold hands, and experience his love for me, but he was asleep. How confusing!

It was still early, around 8:30 pm when I asked him to go sleep on the bed. I went in first, fully dressed, naively thinking that nothing will happen and he came in after. He put his arm around me and I held on to it, breathing slightly heavier. His hand began to move around me and I allowed him to. I was craving intimacy and all he gave me was sex. He was no different from any other guy and from that moment on I knew that we weren’t going to end up far. It’s just hard for me to respect any guy I fornicate with. I don’t trust that they’re able to lead with dignity, strength, integrity, and self-control. Another nature of toxic people is that they pride in their ability to render good sex, and the size of their penises. They believe that with those two they can get any girl hooked for good, but if you think the only way to keep a woman is the one beneath your belt you are too limited! Toxic people also don’t consider much the dangers associated with unprotected sex with strangers; they’re just seeking something even at the cost of compromising their safety. They’re like the adulterer described in Proverbs5:6, “She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.”

This incident showed me how easy it is to fall off from the grace God gives due to the choices we make. Just earlier I was feeling the Spirit of God ministering to me as I read the word and now I was overshadowed by guilt. How will I live the life God called me to live if I compromise and flirt around with temptation? How will I achieve God’s dream for my life if I allow such people in my bed? Great relationships are built on good decisions and not strong emotions. I may shout in the streets and confess my love for Jesus, yes- and even feel it strongly in my heart, but without holiness, as Hebrews 12:14 says, “I will not see the Lord.”

In the morning I didn’t really know what the way forward was. I think I expected us to talk about what had happened since we never got a chance to actually talk. But nothing. Our conversation was so superficial. I would try to actually verbalize my fears or disappointment but I felt so stupid for doing so. He made me feel that this is how relationships should be, what am I talking about when I say waiting for marriage? Everyone in relationships have sex especially when they are working and are able to support themselves financially. I can forget about this blog I am writing and my pursuit of sexual purity and actually fornicate in peace, have my child even if it’s out of wedlock- I mean, it’s the age we live in now? We actually came to a point where we even discussed family planning. We talked but not about the things that matter. We talked about how I should be more spontaneous when it comes to sex; but how can I be when I know it is wrong? How could he be so free that he now started using the “F” word and said he does not consider it a swear word but just an expression…One other thing about toxic people is that they never really connect with people. They leave you starving for communication, connection, and answers but you’ll never get them. They hardly have meaningful conversations but would rather discuss TV characters, or the weather, or things that really don’t pertain to them opening up.

He decided to leave on Saturday. I felt so used because he said spending the weekend with me would depend if he’d leave on Saturday or Sunday. I took that it depended on whether he got sex or not. I really wish I was stronger to resist the temptation and refused to allow him to touch me, but I was starving and I made the wrong choice. So I don’t downgrade my contribution in this situation, I’m not the victim we had both failed God and each other by not being obedient to the Lord’s command but putting our flesh first.

Things were no longer the same afterwards, I wanted him but I could not perceive him as a suitable life partner. I doubted the love he claimed to have for me because he reminded me of all the guys who ever came to me life with selfish motives. I trusted him because he has a title of a pastor and he could really preach God’s word but his fruit failed me. He was taking me back to where God had delivered me, I just couldn’t understand. So I learned the hard way that not everyone who claims to be Christian, who goes to church or even preaches the word, is truly a servant of God. It explains Jesus’ words in Mathew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” 

There is much difference between Christianity by name and Christianity in experience, it is possible to hear the Word, read the Word, even teach the Word and still remain unchanged and unaffected by its transforming power.

The Toxic Nature of Counterfeit Love (PART 2)

Continues from previous blog...

Everything accelerated really fast. After meeting that day it didn’t take long for us to profess our undying love for each other. As much as I wanted to be “hard to get” we are older now and we know what we want, and if you’ve got it you feel that there’s no time to play games.  But there’s a thin line between really loving a person and being intoxicated by counterfeit love. This guy had really good intentions for us- to build us a house, to marry me, and to raise children. Here’s another nature of a toxic relationship- everything happens really fast! He wanted us to get married this December even though we didn’t really know each other, and his reason was getting to know someone is a lifelong learning process and you can never get to know a person in a few months or a year. Which is true- but you can look at their habits and fruit in those few months and decide whether you want to spend the rest of your life with their character.

The guy really did good gestures for me like picking me up when I went home for the weekend, taking me to his friends, calling all the time to tell me how he wants to marry me and how he wants me to be the first person he sees every morning and evening. There was no denying of how we felt for each other but it was short lived. Another nature of toxicity in relationships is that the attention and compliments you receive initially fade away really quick. A person strives to get you but fails to employ the same methods to keep you. Once they get you they have a potential (knowingly or unknowingly), of making you feel really worthless and unattractive. Most people stay in such relationships because they are still glued to the compliments they received when they were being pursued hoping the person would change. They fall in love with potential and not proof whilst continuously feeling disappointed by what they’re getting from the relationship.

I honestly believed that this guy was the one I wanted to be with not only because he had convinced me the first time when he came to me that I am his wife, but because he had the attributes that I like in a guy. In matters of sexual purity I expected him as a mature pastor, to take the lead and protect my purity. I expected him to understand where I come from and lead me to where I desire to be (A strong and powerful relationship with God unhindered by sexual immorality). But already I was seeing red-flags when I’d tell him that I’m in bed and he’d say that he wishes he could sneak in. He invited me to sleep over at his place as we spoke over the phone, and that person who came to me with a bible was turning out to be someone different. The flirting sounded good from a boyfriend but that’s not what I needed! So being clouded by emotions and infatuation, I sought counsel from my Godly friends. One told me that the fact that he’s a pastor and asking me to sleep over shows exactly what his intentions are, and I should run! “Which dumb pastor would ask his girlfriend to sleep over?,” he asked. I didn’t really take my friend’s advice, but I laid some ground rules which I sent the guy of what I expected from our relationship like not sleeping over at each other’s places and kissing before marriage, and being alone in a room for long periods of time.

“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffers the consequences”- Proverbs22:3.

A toxic person does not really have your best interest at heart, everything is about them. They don’t take your wishes and concerns seriously. They pretend that they understand but deep- down they are driven by a need to gratify themselves. What they want is not primarily for you, but for them. They want marriage and children for them, so that they can look good in people’s eyes. They want marriage to please themselves and have a trophy wife but not willing to meet the demands of scripture to “love their wives as Christ loves the Church”. Christ strives for the purity of His Church, Christ desires that His Church abides in Truth; Christ listens to His Church when it cries out to Him. From a pastor, that is what I was expecting. 

The Toxic Nature of Counterfeit Love (PART 1)

I watched a movie (romantic drama/comedy) with my best friend a while ago and at the end of the movie we were just appalled at how movies display such happy endings regarding love without showing the waiting process in-between. I hope to contribute a real story of the waiting process so let me use the platform (blogging) that I have to reach people going through the same process. Unlike in movies, where at one moment a person experiences hurt and then the next experiences deep love from their “soul mate”, real life is far different. The reality for single Christians is self-denial of emergent natural feelings of their sexuality in the pursuit of lasting intimacy. The process involves anxiety, worry, fear, doubts, shortcomings, discouragement and despair of one ever finding true love. Don’t get me wrong, living life as a single Christian is the best ever but the emotions described above do exist, and as we get older the waiting process seems really long and ridiculous so instead of really surrendering this area of our lives to God, we tend to take matters in our own hands. Love between a man and a woman is very beautiful and pure; desired to be experienced by all, hence many fall for its counterfeit.

I fell for it too, many times. But none had such an imprinted impact on me as the one I recently experienced. In 2014 I met a guy whom as it usually start I was attracted to. I was doing my practical teaching and he worked there. We were not in close contact at any time but he had a way of looking at me that always kept him at the back of my mind. We somehow ended up being friends on Facebook but never took it far than that. Well, I gave him my number which he never really did use. He’d just call and not really say anything…on one or two occasions he made plans to come see me but didn’t follow up. So, I made a decision based on those incidents that although I felt that he was attractive to me I would not entertain him any longer. We never spoke much since then until late last year and this year (2017). What a co-incidence that he came at a time when I had just waved goodbye to my ex’s and really embracing the new person who’d come into my life. In my head automatically that person would be sent by God and everything would be perfect for me since I did a very hard thing of letting go of all the ex’s of the past. He also came at a time when I felt alone most of the time, and the desire for intimacy and love was at its greatest peak. When he came it felt good because I learned that he’s a pastor so I reckoned that his character and fruit would closely resemble that of Jesus Christ.

Everything was initiated through text messaging, which brings me to my first point of the nature of toxic people. They initiate romantic relationships a lot on social media. It’s as if they go through one profile after the next being tantalized by all the pictures and lifestyles portrayed there with the aim of choosing whoever would be suitable for them. I am not saying that this one did this, but I’m just describing from observation and experience the nature of toxic people. Social media has made it easy for people to be deceived by counterfeit love because on the other side of the screen a person chooses to become whatever is appealing to his target.

As everything was initiated on social media, he sent me video clips of him preaching which really made me open up to the idea of us being close friends.  One Sunday he came to see me all the way from Mafikeng, with his bible on the dashboard of his car, preached the word to me, and left the same day. I was on cloud 9! From everything he had said to me and had done that day, I had concluded that he was different from the other guys I had been with. I asked him why back in 2014 he always called and never said anything, he said it was because during that time he was very serious about his relationship with God (Fasting/ all night prayers etc.) so he didn’t want to waste my time without being sure that I was the woman for him, but now he was certain. I felt a sense of security that this 36 year old man knows really what he wants and to top that up he’s Christian, a pastor!!