Wrapping Up A Grace-Filled Year

 

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” –Galatians 2:20

 

There is no verse more fitting to conclude my year-long intimacy fast than Galatians 2:20. The 1,000+ words I’m about to type can’t even come close to summarizing 2011 as eloquently and simply as Galatians 2:20. Perhaps I should just stop typing now…

On second thought, you all know I’m far too long-winded to do that. ūüôā

Wow! WHAT A YEAR! What an intimate, challenging, powerful, humbling year! I cannot believe 2011 has already come to a close. It seems like we began our journey only a few days ago. But the year is set in stone. Another year of life in the books. A year we will never get back. Did you make the most of yours?

There are SO many different ways I could structure this final “Kissless ’till Next Christmas” post. And SO many words I could type. So many things I never had the time to share throughout the year. But, I figure the easiest way to summarize this fantastic journey is by answering some really common questions I got throughout the year, and since the year has ended. Ready for a little Q & A?

Q: Did you REALLY make it the WHOLE year without sharing even as much as a kiss?

A: I sure did. Absolutely. Without a doubt. Did it. Made it. Loved it! It was not an easy year, by any means. It did not come without great sacrifice, bouts of loneliness, apprehensions. At times it really hurt. At the beginning of the year I tried to rekindle a relationship (void of the physicality) with my then-boyfriend, but that wasn’t what God had asked for. He had asked for all of me. 100% of my heart. So I had to cut myself off from a wonderful man and move forward with my pledge to our King. Is that normal? Probably not. But was it worth it? Without a doubt. I am a woman who honors my commitments, and I made a commitment to God. There was nothing that was going to deter me from my promise. Satan tried, Satan failed. People tried, people failed. There was plenty that could have distracted me, but as time progressed, God revealed Himself in such beautiful ways. As time progressed, He cleansed my heart of temptation. He cleansed my heart of lustful desire. He cleansed my heart of negativity, apprehension, fatigue. He cleansed my heart of so many of the emotions and desires that young adults get caught up in. And when my heart was scrubbed clean, He filled it with so much Light! So much hope! So much joy! I would say that after the third month, reliance on a guy was the last thing on my mind. I was, and continue to be, so wrapped in such an intimate and filling relationship with our Lord, that words can’t even do justice for His sufficiency. His grace was enough.

Q. So you didn’t even date?

A. Nope! No dates for me. I feel like half of the people reading this, who have never met me, must have this crazy image in their head of a pale, lonely girl locked away in her apartment with a metal chastity belt strapped on like underwear. HAHA! Get real! Just because I wasn’t out hooking up, dating, or searching for a relationship, doesn’t mean that I wasn’t out living life like a normal woman! Throughout this year I continued to hang with friends and have fun. By tom-boy default, most of my closest friends are guys. I spent plenty of time with them! Heck, I was training with the football boys the entire year. There was no avoiding the smelly testosterone! But, contrary to popular belief, it IS absolutely possible for a girl to have normal, healthy friendships with guys. Those friendships are made even stronger and healthier when you take any chance at physicality completely off the table. I’m not naive. I know how a man’s mind works. I’m well aware that some of their thoughts likely weren’t as pure as mine. But I’m also a firm believer that men aren’t as one-tracked as society makes them out to be. And I have plenty of amazing male friends who would back me on that. Consider it field research. Women, if you want a man to treat you with respect, earn their respect. Don’t assume it will be given. Especially when you are the one teasing them with what you wear, how you act, and the games you play. It comes down to respecting each others’ hearts by being intentional in your actions, intentional in your interactions, and intentional with your words. No dates for me, but so many amazing friendships developed.

Q. Now that the fast is over, have you kissed anyone? Are you going crazy?

A. Probably the most frustrating, and most common, question that I’ve gotten since the end of 2011. *Deep breath* If, by now, you are STILL under the assumption that this year-long fast was simply and solely based around the physical component, you are so far off track. Biblically, fasting and prayer are emphasized as sacrifices to God. In denying ourselves of something, we are showing obedience and discipline to the Lord. We are trusting that He will provide for us, answer our prayers, and nourish us with what we lack. Psalms 35:13 so beautifully states, “I humbled my soul with fasting …” People fast in all different ways. Many will fast from food and drink, some will fast from activity, etc. I was simply moved to fast from intimacy. Not because I was some wild girl before, not because I wanted to cover up my past and let everybody know that I was new and changed. Absolutely not. Why would I have given up an entire year of my life just to prove a point to people? Get real. If those were my motives, I never would have made it. I was solely moved to make this sacrifice by God, alone. And I am so glad that I did. He has changed my heart, piece by piece, from the inside out. He has given me new perspective, new appreciation, and new drive. Those of little faith may assume that a fast only leads to great hunger. But a fast supplemented by the grace of Jesus Christ, leads to wisdom, refinement, perspective, and faith. His grace is so sufficient. I never hungered and never thirsted for intimacy. His love was too abundant. I stand now with arms high and heart abandoned, chained only to the love of Jesus Christ. I have not kissed a boy since my fast ended. And I am planning on saving my next kiss for a man I feel God has very purposely placed in my life, and perhaps has designed for me to marry. I don’t know that man yet, but I know he will come along on God’s timing. And I am more than willing to wait…

Q: Do you feel like you missed out on anything this year?

A: Not at all. And I say that in all honesty. The Lord assures us that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. He assures us that if we honor Him with our time, our talents, our hearts, He will honor us with blessings, adornment, and comfort. That Man comes through on his Word! Ha! This has been the most unbelievable, fulfilling, overwhelming year of my life! I have lacked in nothing spiritually or emotionally or physically. He has flooded my heart with humbling grace and perfect love. He is all I need. Anything after Him is just icing on the cake. Blessings that I look forward to receiving and then distributing for His Glory and His name! Maybe I sound crazy to some, but I am being absolutely honest. And absolutely transparent. I can promise you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if you give a piece of yourself to the Lord, as much as you can muster, He will complete you. He will free you from the bondage of this temporary life, and reveal to you what Life in Him looks and feels like. Man, it’s amazing. And it only gets better. No matter your circumstance, your history, your background, your present…HE has a future for you! And it’s beyond your wildest dream.

Q: What did you learn through all of this?

I was so naive to think that when I began the fast, I knew exactly what God was going to do in my heart and to teach me. I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I knew what He had in store. Man, was I wrong! If I tried to list everything the Lord has revealed to me this year, I would run out of blog space! He taught me what it means to seek His face. What it means to be a Godly woman, and what that looks like. What a Godly man looks like. What it means to truly be in a Christ-centered relationship. He taught me trust, compassion, love. True love, and what that entails. He taught me dependence, unbridled faith, unashamed Life in Him. He revealed to me boldness, courage, and heart. He revealed to me what it looks like for my will to align with His. He taught me the joys of the fruits of labor done in His name. He taught me how to read the Word with clarity. He taught me how to boldly pray. How to constantly pray. How to fearlessly pray. He taught me how to love others based on the foundation of my love for Him. He taught me that He will teach me my whole life. That I will never have it fully figured out, but that it all is based in the root of love. God’s love for us, God’s love for His Son. His Son’s love for us, our love for Him. He taught me more than I can teach. He taught me Truth.

Q: What’s next?

Now that the year is over, a new year begins. And a new journey begins! It is time to live life unashamed. It is time to live life for His glory! As I take on the uncertainty and excitement of this new year, I hope you all will join me! Join me in following the steps I take in my walk with the Lord. Join me in redefining our lives based NOT around the odds and chances of the world, but based solely around God’s Odds. Devalue the doubt and live boldly!

The odds are in your favor! Do you believe?

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Redefining Our Reflection… (part 3)

I want to take a deeper look at what it means to be a true woman and a true man of God. ¬†Now only can this help us reevaluate how we act, but it can also help us identify characteristics we should seek in others–especially if we intend on spending time with them or entering into a relationship with them. ¬†We discussed our identities through salvation and the beauty God sees in us, but in order to redefine our reflections, we have to learn a little bit about how we should strive to carry ourselves.

An individual brought up a great point in the comment section of the last blog post. ¬†This was a point I was planning on studying, in detail, later on, but I would like to touch on its relevance now, as well. ¬†As humans, we are stuck in a bit of a predicament. ¬†Because, in recognizing Jesus Christ as our Savior, our souls are sealed and protected. ¬†We are emptied of ourselves and filled with the Holy Spirit. ¬†However, we are still bound by our humanly flesh during our time here on earth. ¬†And that flesh is ugly and riddled with temptation, lust, greed, and sin. ¬†It is the “human” in us all–and it’s gross. ¬†That’s what made Jesus Christ so phenomenal. He was a human being. He was bound by the same flesh we are bound by. ¬†He felt all the same temptations, emotions, urges, desires. ¬†But He STILL lived perfectly. ¬†We must recognize that, for us, that is an impossibility. There is no way we can do it flawlessly. But, it is something we should STRIVE for–something we should live for, daily. ¬†As Christians, we should work towards thinning that flesh so that His light can shine through us as brightly as possible.

With that being said, it is not enough for us to sit back and coast. To think, “Okay, I recognize that He’s real, I recognize what He did for me. But, I guess since I’m bound by this flesh and since He’s always going to forgive me, then it’s alright for me keep living how I’m living. I guess it’s alright for me to remain comfortable in sin. Because, this guy’s sin over here is far worse than my sin. I’m a good person, so I’m good to go.”

That mentality is so off-base. ¬†It’s a mentality that I, myself, held for a long time. ¬†That’s a very human thought process. ¬†If this forgiveness is endlessly offered, then it is a human reaction to attempt to take that for granted. ¬†To try to slide by. To compare ourselves to others and to weigh our sins. But that is so far from what’s real and true. ¬†That mentality is so dangerous. ¬†I know I functioned like that for a very long time. ¬†And I can tell you now that, even though those thoughts still run through my mind occasionally, the Holy Spirit is convicting. ¬†And if the Holy Spirit is truly living inside of your heart, you will feel the conviction of wrongful action. ¬†Whether or not you show it on the surface, whether or not you express it, whether or not you even openly acknowledge it, you know where your heart stands. ¬†You know when you are acting in flesh.

I told you this year would be convicting. ¬†I refuse to sit back and say only what is going to “feel good” and make us all feel warm and comforted inside. ¬†We have to be broken of our earthly mentality. ¬†We have to be broken of our thought process that has been conditioned by this crappy society. ¬†And in order to be broken, we have to be uncomfortable. ¬†We have to reevaluate ourselves and be honest with ourselves. ¬†If you are surrounded by people who constantly tell you that what you are doing is so wonderful and right and good, and you never stand eye-to-eye with someone who tells you that you¬†could be better, and holds up the BIBLE as proof of the improvement you can make, then you will never grow.

If we are going to TRULY redefine our reflections and live for Christ, then we have to humble ourselves. We have to let down our guards and open our hearts. ¬†We have to feel that conviction and RECOGNIZE it! Recognize that it may take a shot at your ego or your pride; that it may embarrass you or anger you or stir up your emotions. But there is BEAUTY in humility. There is BEAUTY in our scars. So let down your walls. I’m right here with you, doing the same.

Break through the flesh that is binding you down and strive for greatness. ¬†We strive, daily, for advancement in our lives. ¬†We strive for the starting spot on our athletic teams. We strive for the promotion at work. ¬†We strive to make more money. We strive to be perceived as having the perfect family. We strive to be the most popular. We strive to be the most famous. ¬†We strive to be the most attractive. We strive to be the biggest, the fastest, the strongest, the best. SO WHY DONT WE STRIVE FOR THAT SAME ADVANCEMENT IN OUR FAITH? What are we so ashamed of? What do we have to lose? A little ego? A little pride? Get real. Break down the barriers this society says we should build around “religion”. ¬†Break down the perception you have of where “religion” should be kept on your schedule!

Being a Christian is not about just being in church on Sunday. Being a Christian is a 24-7, 365 day a year TRUTH. ¬†Why are we suppressing Him? He is in fellowship, He is in bible study, He is in church, He is in the workplace, He is in our schools, He is at the dinner table, He is on the football field, He is at the bar, He is in the port-a-potty, He is in your car, He is in the airplane, He is in the homeless shelter, He is in the huts of the homeless, He is in the fields of the farmers, He is in the waves of the sea, He is EVERYWHERE! He is everywhere. Who are we to ignore Him? Who are we to try to stifle Him? All He wants is for us to see Him. And to love Him. And in return, He will love us more passionately and more fantastically than any other love we will ever know. He is waiting for us…He is waiting for you. Open your eyes and see Him. Then fall in love and break down your barriers and climb on top of the tallest platform you can find and PRAISE Him. NEVER be afraid to praise Him. Never stop praising Him.

Let’s step away from who we were. Let’s make ourselves so vulnerable that we are raw. Then let’s study Him. Let’s study the Word, and let’s figure out what it all means together.

I know I went off on a bit of a tangent today. I promise next post we will get back to the topic of being men and women for Christ. We will start really studying together. ¬†I just really had all of that on my heart and had to let it pour out. I love you, and He loves you. Let’s be exceptional. Together, let’s learn…

My Story (part 15)

“Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20

Even though I was not at the pinnacle of my game due to the time spent in recovery from the accident and the immediacy of the invitation to camp, I was still able to have a fantastic showing with the National Team and was provided a platform to continue my discipleship.

The next portion of my testimony will be vague, because it is a topic that I want to climb much deeper into later during the year. A topic I feel will be most beneficial for younger adults and friends around my age. ¬†However, I want to include a tag to this relationship within my story, because it provided more guidance, strength, and encouragement than any I have come across before. And it also plays a part in why I have taken on the challenge of remaining “Kissless ’till Next Christmas”.

A spiritual mentor of mine once taught me a lesson that I will carry with me for all of my days. He informed me that: a woman should never pursue a man. A woman should pursue a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ. In turn, Christ will then inspire the man, constructed perfectly for her, to pursue her heart.  And in doing so, the man will be drawn closer to God as well.

It seems clich√© to say that as soon as you stop looking to find someone, someone comes along. However, that was precisely what happened to me half a year after my accident. ¬†At the same time that God was rewarding me with the splendor of athletic progress, he also sent a man into my life whom I will respect and cherish forever. A man I was not looking for. A man I did not plan on finding. But a man who walked so humbly into my life, that I couldn’t help but take notice.

I met Joey when I was sharing my testimony at a FCA in Louisiana. An excellent musician, he was there leading praise and worship for the group. ¬†The minute I met him, I was entranced. He was my complete opposite. Shy, reserved, a man of few words. He was not my “type”, not my taste. But I was mesmerized. There was something different about him. ¬†Something I couldn’t put my finger on. His eyes told a story of his purpose. He was unfazed by the standards of our society. Unamused by the earthly manifold. He was living for One–and it shined through him.

Quite commonly known, 1 Corinthians 15:13 instructs us, “Do not be mislead. Bad company corrupts good character.” In turn, there are countless other verses in the Bible that assure us of the inverse. Assure us that, in surrounding ourselves with the right people and those in pursuit of Truth, our hearts can be nurtured and our spirits can grow.

Over the course of the next 6 months, Joey and I journeyed through the most Christ-centered relationship that I have ever known.  It was beautiful. It was simple. It was pure, and it was healthy. It was a relationship of purpose and a relationship of love. Love for one another, but above all else, love for our King.  Each pursuing Christ on our own separate walks, we were able to encourage one another, challenge one another, and inspire one another to grow.  Joey was a man of conviction. He was exceptional. A man who believes every single word in the pages of the Bible and applies them, first and foremost, in every single thing he does in his life. He was a man that had a past, like many, but a man that had a future. A future with our King.

Being surrounded in the company of such conviction and strength taught me more about our Lord than any bible study lesson or church service ever had before.  Because I was not simply sitting and listening to words, I was observing a man living them out to the best of his ability. Stumbling and slipping at times, but picking himself back up and continuing his journey to Christ. He was like a horse with blinders on. He had one focus, and that focus was salvation. That focus was our King. All else in his life fell perfectly into place, because he recognized true importance and invested his whole heart into it.

You may be wondering, why then, I ended my relationship with Joey–as swiftly and as bluntly as the turning of a page. ¬†But the answer to that lies in my current calling. The answer to that can only be described in feeling. A feeling God placed on my heart and a mission He desired that I fulfill. A mission that would impact so many more than just myself…

(to be continued)