The Disease of Hatred

I’ve been silent for months, just being “in my life” and enjoying being engaged and getting married and being a newlywed.

My day-to-day home life has been overall very, very positive. I have been overwhelmed with thanksgiving, peace, and love.

Then I log on to Facebook and I am bombarded by hatred.

I glimpse the news, and again, hatred.

And it’s not just one source and one hashtag, you guys.

I see threats of nuclear bombs, and active war zones. I see people being murdered because of their beliefs, or because they just happen to live somewhere that is overrun by hatred. Teenagers being bullied and told to kill themselves. For goodness sake, today I saw a news headline about an autistic child that had a board nailed to the back of his little head, by hateful bullies.

And I just can’t. I cannot.

WHAT. IS. WRONG. WITH. OUR. WORLD.

So of course I am not surprised to see racist people doing racist things, either. It is SICK. I watched a video interview of one of the leaders of one of these hate groups, and my stomach did a flip.

 

Then I felt it… I felt what I think a lot of people are starting to feel… I felt hatred.

My first thought was “oh God, not me, too, please” and I went into prayer. I asked God to please, please shield my heart from hating others. Yes, even when they are doing the most evil things imaginable. I asked Him to help me remember the verses in His Word about loving my enemies, the verses that are the hardest to swallow as a regular human person, but the words that, if applied, make us look and act like HIM.

I thought of what must have gone through Jesus’ mind when He was mocked and tortured, and what lengths He must have pursued in order to protect His human heart from hatred. He knew we would need to do the same, that we would be faced with unimaginable, heinous evil, and that we, too, would be tempted to join in hatred or lose hope.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. [Ephesians 6:12]

Do you want to know how to tell if you’re tempted to hate? If you feel that consuming, non-productive fire inside, that tells you that you hate a person instead of an evil ideology, you’re hating. You find yourself seething and directing your rage toward a person or group, and you find yourself persuaded to then curse them instead of doing what you know you ought to do, which is pray for the obvious need you see.

What you may also feel tempted to do is join a screaming match, or post a rant on social media, but just take a moment to think about what results your rant or your screams will actually have.

What you could do, that in my opinion would have a more productive impact, is look for ways to support and encourage those who are suffering or persecuted, in more ways than 140 character posts. I’m talking about taking a family to dinner who may be struggling. I’m talking about reaching out to refugees in your city, or hosting dinner for a group of people who are currently oppressed, whose plight breaks your heart.

After prayer, God filled me up with the desire to act in kindness toward others, which was truly the opposite of what I was feeling when I was raging on the social media feed frenzy.

If you think about it, down to the root causes, we all believe a certain way because it is what we were taught and it is what we accepted to be truth. Regardless of how evil or illogical certain beliefs are, we have wars over our disagreements. The gospel of Jesus has a simple (not so simple, though!) solution to the problem of hatred, and it starts with our own hearts getting a firm check.

Ask yourself tonight if you’re struggling with hatred. Don’t push it on anyone else, don’t give anyone else control over your heart, don’t say “they make me hate them” because that’s now how this stuff works. You own your heart, your brain, and your mouth. You own your emotions. You get to decide what triggers you, and you get to take those triggers to the Lord and get His input on every single one of them.

Jesus, why did that affect me unto fear/bitterness?

Jesus, what can I do about injustice and hatred without catching the disease of hatred?

Jesus, how can I remain loving, tender, and hope-filled in this broken and fear-filled world?

Jesus, what are You doing in this situation?

Help me see You moving, so I can pray and join You in action. Help me be part of Your kingdom solution, not just another hard heart in the crowd.

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I Accept

The love of God.

The forgiveness of Jesus.

The counsel of the Holy Spirit.

I took the quickest moment, in the midst of the anxiety I felt in my stomach, and I whispered a prayer that messed me up. I’m talking snot and tears everywhere.

I said “I accept Your forgiveness, Jesus.”

Apparently that’s all it takes for the chills to hit, and the tears to pour, and the hands to shake, and the fear to flee. A small acceptance, that meant I admitted I needed to yield my burden over. How often do we try to carry it all ourselves, when none of it is our load? The littlest headache and my reaction is to take a small little pill, instead of asking Him to wipe it. The twist in the stomach, the furrow in the brow. And I keep it? Oh, I keep it. I hide it, and keep it, and name it “my problem” and I own it and feed it. I’m a mother to my burdens, a depleted, defeated, diligent mother. All my little fears are ducklings, following me. The lies about my worth, my future, my redemption story, just quack quack quack. The noise is obnoxious, but what do ya do? Well, I’ve been keeping it at home with me. Yes, the same home I share with Holy Spirit, the mind and the heart.

Yet that little prayer… it shook my body. It vacated my being. I felt waves over me, like when you’re standing on a windy beach and you feel the wind rolling over you. His wind blew, and I bet it was just a small breath of heaven. I was freed by the tiniest breeze of holy.

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In the last few months, I struggled with my health and my sleep. I started to hope for different hours, but met a lot of slammed doors. Almost doesn’t quite count in the real world. Four almost jobs, no joke. That’s a lot of time and effort, and I was getting bitter. Then that fifth opportunity popped up, and by grace, it’s mine. I’m going to day hours in August. I will be sleeping at night like other humans, and for the first time in years I won’t feel like a zombie anymore.

I got the call, and I should have jumped out of my skin, like old me. You know, all “yay” and 15 exclamation points. I would have posted some kind of selfie with a maniacal giant grin and told the planet about my “finally” and my “breakthrough” and gotten a stupid amount of likes on said post about God’s goodness and timing. But nah. There was a part of me, the defeated mother of my burdens, surely, that felt hurt by God. I refused to yield my pain, then I blamed Him for keeping me under for too long. I felt drowned. I remember thinking “sorry I can’t get excited, I’m still coughing up water” and that… is how bad it got.

I finally broke. I had to choose. Hard heart or tender? Stone or flesh? Did I remember what it was like to sheepishly tiptoe into His presence like a child? I needed to do that. In my head I knew Christ’s forgiveness, but I had to say it. And it wasn’t a matter of asking for it, because I knew it was mine to have.

“I accept Your forgiveness, Jesus.”

Done. I asked for His help. Done. I asked to feel His love. Done. I asked to be covered by His name. Done. I asked for the Holy Spirit’s counsel, even when life feels out of my control. Done. The knot in my stomach is gone. Instead, there’s a calm, like when you hold a sleeping child. I feel like I’m that child, so cherished.

We are all prone to wonder, yes, even the believers that “know better.” The “you know better” guilt and shame can rot a person’s faith. The “if you trusted Him, you wouldn’t be so scared” shame and the “if you were closer to Him, you’d know prophetically” shame and the “a believer doesn’t do this or that so you must not be a believer” shame. Thomas had to touch Christ to believe He rose again. Peter sank in the waves and denied Him three times. Believers have the capacity to royally suck. Don’t let that be the end of the story, if you find yourself sinking in waves. Don’t let it replay wrong in your thoughts. Accept His forgiveness, and try to move forward. If you know the storm is coming again tomorrow, and you know you’re going under again, well… accept His forgiveness and try to move forward.

The worst thing isn’t to be unfit, it’s to purposefully hide from the Lord out of shame and to mother the pain and keep it. If it hurts every single day, cry out. Wear Him out with your repetitive prayers. He will move on your behalf. He will move on my behalf. He will continue to soften my heart. He will restore and revive. He will restore my voice. He will remove the shame, every little bit, real or perceived. He’s already done it, but for our sake, He will do it again and again, as we accept His love, forgiveness, and counsel.

Jesus, we accept Your help.

God Isn’t Willy Wonka

Have you ever found yourself greatly discouraged and flipped through your own notes/pictures/prayers with God, and those scribbles ministered to you? Yep.

I’m discovering through a really rough season that my faith in God is a foundation. You can’t tear down a wall without running into your foundation. It’s incredibly important to solidify your faith, to spend continuous time with God, to read the Word on a day-to-day basis. Take notes. Take pictures. Highlight and underline. Make your ebenezers, your celebratory mile markers. Build your history with God, so that when the storms come (and oh, they don’t stop), you’ll have a deep understanding of God’s nature.

20131209_174020Many times, I’m sad to say, I have doubted His goodness and His presence. It’s the most obvious thing about Him, His goodness, yet we don’t quite know how to reconcile suffering with the goodness of God. We can’t exactly explain slammed doors, and fear, and the long, silent wait. In time, sure, yeah. You can explain anything in time. It’s like saying “I sat at a traffic jam for 17 years, but then I got ice-cream, so it’s all good.” And one thing is completely unrelated to the other, and honestly, disproportional.

We confuse privilege and prosperity with God’s love. When I go to Six Flags to ride the rollercoasters, I buy the gold flashy passes and waltz through the park skipping every line. It’s not like that with God. We don’t get Favor passes, unfortunately. When we’re preached “Favor” gospel, we set ourselves up for pain. You’re not guaranteed your whole dream jar, and that really stinks and it’s really sad. It’s okay to grieve that. The gospel is that struggle is SO real that we NEED a Savior, and we have Him. Jesus! He’s the reason for joy, not answers or gifts or temporary things, even if they’re good things. We need saving because life is really hard. He’s not Willy Wonka, He’s more like Liam Neeson. Welcome to the reason I’ve been silent.

I’ve challenged a friend in the past with the question “why is it better to go through THIS right now versus your best-case scenario?” She met me with a long pause. She started to think about her weakness and how her patience was getting tested. She was on the edge of herself, really. And it made her look at God and point, and have a heated conversation… which is much better than a rushed “thank You” prayer, if you think about that for a minute. I’ve been having those staring, silent prayers with God, where I just get my forehead all crinkled up and pout, and stare like He’s holding out on me, like I’m skeptical of what He’s up  to. And He stares back, I’m sure of it. He stares back with the “OH REALLY?!” face. Like “Really, as if I would hold out on you, to what? Torture you? To tease you? Don’t you think I have better things to do than put you through misery? Really?”

And so we stare at each other. And if I stare long enough, I can see the fire in His eyes, and it eventually, slowly, looks familiar again. Not like some distant jerk or anything, but like my Best Friend. The One who was there when I was all alone. The One who led me through places I never knew I wanted to go. That Guy. He’s pretty good. I remember Him.

Turns out that staring fights are okay with God. He’s not mad about it. Turns out we’ve got history together. That history is worth something.

His ways are higher than mine, period. I won’t get it, and also… I can’t. I wasn’t meant to understand it all. It’s a scientist’s biggest nightmare, the mysteries of God. Why are certain things so easy and why are some so darn difficult? Why do some things happen quickly while others take forever? Why are transitions always so uncertain? And why does pain flash like a camera, in your happiest days? Why is trauma a thing? Why can’t healing happen faster? Why are there so few guarantees in life? Why do we go through times of particular, intentional deprivation? How are we able to be brave in the Spirit when there are so many very logical reasons to be afraid? Why does life so often feel like a gamble instead of a plan?

I don’t get it. I don’t get any of it. Give me some kind of medal for arriving at this particular milestone of ignorance/bliss. I don’t have answers. I know Him, and He purposefully maintains answers from us, probably because they’re just too complicated. It’s like explaining this upcoming election to a 4-year-old. No, thanks! Maybe this is the best way: to not know, to not understand. It was the original way in the garden, before we disobeyed to try to know more. Not knowing makes us reliant on Him, even when that reliance is somewhat forced since we literally cannot understand things with these brains and hearts. At least love isn’t forced.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
-1 Corinthians 13:12

I look forward to that full knowledge and vision, and every day I’m closer. Until then, you’ll find me trying my best to stay the course, reading old journals, and anchoring deep on the truth of the scriptures. I pray you build your foundation with God, so that you know the way to His arms by heart when you can’t see the steps in front of you.

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
(Ps. 126:5)

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
(Ps. 27:13)

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.
(Ps. 71:20)

Trolls and My Vain Book Cover Story

Did you know that I put my face on the cover of my first book? There’s a story behind that picture, and I’ll get to that, but first, let’s talk about trolling.

I got some hate mail today.

The sad part is this person doesn’t know me at all. And for that exact reason, I had restricted access to most of my posts on facebook, like I did with a LOT of people. Like I’ve said in the last few blogs, I’m taking big steps to reel back my privacy. My instagram and twitter are now private. My WR blogs are password locked. Facebook is slowly but surely getting cleaned up. Nonetheless, this individual took it very personally when they found their access had been restricted. And then she trolled me.

Truth is, I have a lot of “facebook friends” which really translates anywhere from family members to people I literally met once, eons ago. Facebook gives you a personal profile, which gives curating abilities to each individual user. Coming from a social media management background, I’m very used to deleting comments and even having to restrict users for various reasons, big and small. When facebook originally started, there was no home feed. You didn’t scroll through everybody’s posts like a log or newspaper. You had to type your friend’s name and go to their “page” and write on their wall. Back then, there was a whole lot less trolling.

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There are people on facebook who love to troll. Trolls let their true colors shine through, and write things like this to people who restrict them:

Trollcity

Yeah. SALTY. Cue Taylor Swift, man… THIS is called TROLLING. I just wanted to bring AWARENESS of the reality of trolling and tell you that there are people who should not have access to you online. Period. There’s nothing in the Bible about loving your neighbor by tolerating these kinds of hurtful digs. It’s not healthy. If someone is being deliberately offensive and trying to provoke others unto anger, it’s okay to remove them from your network ONLINE and reduce communication.

If this person had reached out to me and said “Hey Helena, I noticed that I can’t see your posts anymore and it upset me. I know we barely know each other, but could you tell me why I’m now restricted?” Then I would have said “Hey so and so, I’m sorry to hear that hurt your feelings. That wasn’t my intention. I have been trying to limit posts on facebook to close family and friends (it’s a long process) and I’ve been putting a lot of people on the restricted list, so please don’t take it personal. Thanks for reaching out to me, and it means a lot that you’d want to keep up with my more personal posts. I’ll take you off of the restricted list, okay? Keep in touch! I hope you’re doing well. <3” And golly, I would have meant 100% of that if I had received a heartfelt message. But no… they got salty about my book cover!!!!!!!!!!!!

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SO NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT MY VAIN BOOK COVER.

I wrote a book last year. My first one. It’s a devotional. My heart was to give people fresh ideas on spending time with God. This is what the cover looked like.

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As you can clearly see, my face is in the picture, outlined. It’s pretty dark. You can see my hair is a hot mess and you might be able to tell I had just hiked up a mountain to see the sunset. I was scouring through all the pictures I’ve ever taken in my life to try to find one that would look cool on the cover. I almost bought a picture, but then I thought “no, Helena, you have had cool Jesus moments and sunrises and sunsets, you have got to find one that’s yours, maybe one you’ve written about” and it was between a sunrise picture from Savannah, GA or this sunset one. The problem with the sunrise picture was that it was a lot of sky and a tiny sun and then water, and the title would have been on the top, and the tiny dot and line of color, then the name on the bottom. It didn’t look pop. This one had the texture of the outline and you can see the faint teeny tiny dots of the Atlanta skyline on the horizon.

Let me tell you what this picture means to me and why I chose it. I had just moved to Atlanta (big city) from Gainesville (small town). I was officially living in a rough neighborhood. I hadn’t made very many friends at this point. I had been invited to a game night that night, but I was already halfway to hike Stone Mountain for the first time, and I really needed to spend time with God. I turned my “new friends” down and said I needed to hike with Jesus. So I did. The whole way up the mountain, God encouraged me. I heard His truth about me. I was affirmed in my identity as His daughter.  I wrote this blog about it. This happened 9/23/14.

Almost exactly one year later, I was editing the book and released in on 9/22/15. I re-released it later due to some printing issues, but it felt like a hike anniversary. If that cover picture had not happened, the book would NOT have been published the way it was. I had to know who I was in order to be able to write about different ways to spend time with God. God reminded me of my identity in a hike, and my prayer was that God would remind anyone who cared to read the devo about HIS heart and THEIR identity. I’m a vessel and I’m not anonymous. I’m a daughter of God. I won’t hide that I know He loves me, and I chose a seemingly vain book cover, designed it in the wee hours of the morning, and decided that it was only fitting that one of my breakthrough moments with God could illustrate the contents of the devotional.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the intro of the devo…

“Spending time with God doesn’t have to be an hour-long reading time. It doesn’t have to be silent. It doesn’t have to be anything like it’s ever been. You can go have a hike with Jesus, or prayer walk the dog, or sing your heart out in the car all the way to work. You can ask God questions, or doodle, or make up your own psalms. We’re gonna try some of these things, but I want you to be empowered to try anything. God is pretty creative. He thought the platypus was a good idea, for crying out loud. You don’t have to sit for an hour every day, or feel like a bad Christian when you miss a day. God is awesome and He is crazy about you, and there are never-ending ideas of how to get to know Him more.”

That’s the thing I wanted to say, in 138 pages or so, in my very first book. I put in a lot of time and prayer into it, and the last thing I’d want is for someone to think I was shallow in choosing a cover? It was intentional, but definitely about spending time with God and being affirmed in one’s own identity.

I hope and pray that you’re keeping a healthy check of who is allowed to speak into your life, and that you know that God sees your heart. I challenge you to be careful with the internet, because people can blast you and embarrass you, and attack the very things you work so hard to maintain pure. Like my little brother said to me yesterday, “You know you’re doing something right if there is resistance” and it’s true. I have incredible friends and family, and my God is faithful and kind beyond measure. In the end, He’s the One we each have to face, and I look forward to that glorious day, because by His grace we have clean hands and pure hearts.

Why the Miss Universe Fiasco Hits Home

They say you can’t lose something you never had. That is, unless Steve Harvey reads the card wrong.

I sat here with my eyebrows to the sky, in disbelief, as I watched the video clip of Steve Harvey announcing the wrong 2015 Miss Universe, then attempting to correct himself. It was so sad/awkward/funny that I realized a few things while I was thinking about it. This situation hits home.

We’ve all been in Miss Colombia’s shoes, haven’t we? We thought we had it, and then it got taken away from us. Shame came, and embarrassment. We had to stand there awkwardly and try to be happy for somebody else. It’s the job you didn’t get but so-and-so got, and the guy you had a crush on that actually asked your friend out. I can’t imagine how many times I’ve felt like the first runner up, the next best thing, the salutatorian, the silver medal. Second-best sometimes feels like dead last. And so we cringe as we watch the crown being removed from Miss Colombia’s head. We cringe because we’ve been there.

And Miss Philippines also shows us a familiar situation. How many times have we been hesitant to be happy, because of fear and confusion, or maybe even out of courtesy for others? She’s never gonna get that moment back. She was announced Miss Universe and she hesitated. She smiled but fear was visible. She didn’t get to jump up and down and have the crowd clap just for her. The moment, her moment, was ruined. I sometimes get scared that this will happen to me. What if my most precious moments are somehow ruined? What if I hesitate instead of enjoying them? Let nothing hinder your joy.

There are lots of Steve Harveys in the world, you know. There are people who make mistakes and cause confusion. They’re given platforms and microphones, and they say the wrong stuff. It messes people up. They sometimes preach the opposite of the truth, in loud, confident voices. And people are misled. I pray that if you ever got misled, that the truth would rise up in your heart and your mind and would begin to lead you. Question the statements that rule your life. Are they true? Where did you learn them? Who said them? Does God agree?

Last but not least, we’ve all been Steve Harvey making the big mistake. We’ve said words that we wish we could grab from the air and stop from reaching any ears. We’ve stood loud and proud, and wrong. Painfully wrong. And it stinks to be wrong. Nobody enjoys it. I hope you learn to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. I hope you release yourself as quickly as you would release someone who made a genuine mistake. If you’re the type to beat yourself up, so am I. But friend, we need to stop it. We need to stop because we are setting an example to others when they need to forgive themselves. Grace flows this way too, perfectly.

All in all, I saw an opportunity to experience growth in that disaster. I have so been there, and haven’t we all? I pray for those who are hurting and angry, for healing in their hearts and release of the repeating thoughts in their minds. I pray for grace to abound in the little fiascoes of our lives.

DAILY DEVOS RETURN…

As you all know, the #ATLdevo began back in September of 2014, and ran until about August 2015. Every single day, I made it a discipline to write what I was learning with Jesus, and posted it ONLINE, and not only that, but delivered every morning to the inboxes of 80+ people. NO PRESSURE!

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The feedback was incredible. Just incredible. Let me quote some of the emails/texts/messages I’ve gotten throughout this year of writing…

“We, your devo followers, are so thankful you said yes. I know you’re growing from it and it’s a big encouragement.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you for your obedience in doing this devotional. This devotional continues to raise me out of so many heart-heavy situations.”

“I look forward to these devotions every day! Thank you for your heart! It is making a difference in my life! Thank you for your obedience!”

“Oh my goodness, you don’t know how your messages speak to me. The last couple of ones I find myself crying and asking God for more of Him!”

“Very thankful for your ministry here. It’s been too long since I journaled about the goodness of the Father and too long since I’ve been still and quiet early in the day. Love the prompts as well! Keep serving faithfully as you are!”

“Thank you for your inspiration and interaction with daily verses and uplifting words. Your obedience to God is one of the many gifts He’s given. You are a treasure to those of us receiving them.”

“Thank you for your daily devotionals. Really great stuff and God inspired.”

“I have been going back and reading the Phylla House devos: SO GOOD! I might use them next year for my class :D”

“Thank you Helena, for allowing God to use you in our lives! Today’s devo… it was exactly what I needed.”

“Your devos are amazing and I can hear your voice as I read them! So great! Thank you for blessing me and so many others with them already!!!”

These are quotes in reaction to the devos I wrote in 2014 to 2015. I picked 100 of those devotionals and published them in a book! You can buy that book here!

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Why am I charging for this book? Well… I have 80+ people who got it for free, one page at a time, via email and reading the Phylla House blog where the devos were originally hosted. The subscribers actually got more than that, because some of the devotionals didn’t make it into the book. After that, I prayed hard and pulled the devos from the blog, edited them fiercely, and published them in tangible form.

The cool announcement is that I’M DOING IT AGAIN!!! Fresh devos, page by page, delivered to your inbox, free as birds, imperfect  probably, full of late-night/early-morning Love.  You can subscribe to the Phylla House blog and see it unveil one page at a time, as God teaches me over the next year. How does that sound?

And then, God willing, at the end of 2016, I’ll revise the devos and publish them in book form once more, in time for you to gift them to your friends and family, having “already read it” if you know what I mean 😉

I hope you’ll come along with me.

The journey starts again on January 6th, 2016.

Much love,

Helena

Emotional Abuse and Neglect

November 13th. It would have been my 7 year wedding anniversary this week, ya know, had it not been for the divorce.

I chopped my hair off, my beautiful long, blond hair and I felt so free! Of course, I asked his opinion many times, and he approved. I wouldn’t have cut my hair had my husband not approved! I thought that the change would make me more noticeable, more attractive. I wanted to be attractive, so he would look at me. I just wanted him to really look at me, instead of the computer screen he was so drawn to. I remember meticulously curling my hair, and walking into the bedroom to show him. He was at his computer, and he turned for half a second and looked back at the screen before he mumbled “looks good” and kept clicking. I felt a wave of shame wash over me. My eyes teared up. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Nothing I did was good enough to beat the screen. All that clicking wasn’t just for the games, but also for pornography. I never knew what he was really looking at.

Attention and conversation. How demanding, right? I wanted to be in relationship with the person I had  married. I felt ignored and unseen. I felt helpless, angry. I didn’t know how to express it. I was 21, and I didn’t want to be a nag.

I had an alcoholic college boyfriend call me a “bitch” once. Yeah, I typed it. It hurt so much to hear that word that I told myself I would never nag again, and that I would especially never argue with a drunk man who wants the bathroom door CLOSED while he’s puking. I thought he needed some air. My bad. Don’t even get me started on alcoholism. I’ve dated 2 alcoholics and I’d like to say that’s 2 too many. Nothing like having to drive his truck home every single time we went out in public, because Chugga Chugga couldn’t stop, and then cleaning up his puke in the bathroom because Chugga Chugga couldn’t handle his liquor. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. You’d think those were easy breakups, but they weren’t. I loved their families, loved their mamas. Good hearted men who loved me dearly. They just loved drinking a little bit more.

I’m sure I didn’t look thrilled day-to-day. I’m sure my tears got super old. Ew. What a drag! I’m sure my attempts to talk through it all were just SO draining to him. SO draining that he would say it felt like “cutting his chest open with a knife” every time I brought THAT up. Super. Guilt. Bottle it up. Never bring it up again.

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I found out how crippling and painful it was to marry someone who was addicted. Someone who valued a “THING” over their spouse, and any THING over Jesus. It was painful to watch the person you love the most waste their life and hurt themselves. I didn’t want to have children, and yet I wanted them so I could have someone to look at me and see me. Wow, right?

This is how the divorce started. This.

I daresay many divorces start like this. One person feels unwanted, over and over. They go looking for attention, for affection. Rejection leads to adultery. The opposite of the gospel, really. The very thing two people swear to one another at the altar, to be there for each other. Broken vows left and right, man.

BUT GOD… has shown me fantastic, healthy marriages. Men who are powerful leaders, making Spirit-led decisions, praying over their families, and boasting on how hot their wives are. They are the flower-pickers, the ones who hold the woman when she cries instead of telling her to stop. Men who are not perfect, but their priorities are right. To honor and cherish their spouse, to be home for the family, and to be present, devoted. Oh and these men are praised, let me tell you. Their wives go on and on about how wonderful, handsome, godly they are. Incredible fathers. Fantastic lovers, when the ladies are giving TMI! Oh, what a gift. My favorite person. My great love.

I believe firmly that it takes a change of heart to cause a behavioral change. God has to move in the heart. God has to break the chains of addiction, of fear, of rejection. God has to be sufficient. Idols have to be laid down. And grace has to abound. The ones who love us the most will fail us miserably from time to time, and that’s no surprise. But the ones who truly love cannot, cannot, CANNOT think that emotional abuse and neglect are acceptable behaviors. Women have to stand up against it, as do men.

Ladies, don’t marry the little boy who ignores you.

Men, don’t marry the little girl who turns away your affection.

Wait for people who love you well. Commit, then. And if you’re in a marriage like this, frozen cold like Elsa’s castle, feeling all alone in your frosty attentionless and sexless wonderland, I’m so sorry. Get help. Talk to mentors. Talk to a counselor. Talk to JESUS. Talk. Talk before you cheat. Talk before you leave. People CAN change, but they have to want to. That’s where Holy Spirit can come in and do His job.

I pray a blessing over people who are dating, that they have the discernment to lay down communication and their emotional needs out on the table before marriage. That they understand mutually how important this is. I pray a blessing over marriages that are struggling, that God will open up eyes and ears and hearts to LOVE. That those addictions have to go, in Jesus’ name. That sufficiency will be found in Christ, so that we can love other people well. I pray for the divorces that are about to happen and I intercede, Jesus, for the ones who are hurting SO much. If emotional abuse bruised, they’d be purple and black. Jesus, have mercy on their broken hearts. Be near to them. Bring them renewed hope.