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:

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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.

The Fear of What If

I’ve been through it all.

Most of you wouldn’t know how hurt I’ve been and how low my lows were. I will spare you from my resume of pain and suffering, and just say pain has a scale and definition to me. I know and trust in God’s goodness to me, but I am also acutely aware of the brokenness of this world and the freedom that others have to do as they please with no regard to the wellbeing of those they hurt. I made the choice a while back to not let the hurts change me into a hardened person. I asked God to help me remain tender, soft, kind, and sympathetic. I asked Him to fill me with hope and give me a positive outlook. I’d like to think I’m remaining true to this, since I guess I’m practically a carebear. I cry when I’m happy and I try to feel, even when feeling hurts. I stopped beating myself up for “not knowing better” or being too trusting, when really I was just trying to love people well. For all intents and purposes, we shouldn’t be expecting to be betrayed all the time. The word for that is paranoia, and that’s not for me.

Lately, I’ve had a lot of good things going. I got a good job, and I like my city. I have a nice boyfriend, and I’ve been making new friends. There’s a lot of peace and quietness, and you know what happens when there’s a lot of peace and quietness? Well, the enemy hates it. Thoughts tend to run wild. And then that old fear comes along, you know, the one that worries I will lose it all again. It brought up so much anxiety in me, but then I decided to do the opposite of what I normally do. Usually, I will tell myself all the positive things and drown out the dark with sunshine, rainbows, and glitter.

This time it’s different. I decided to take a minute to get really honest with Jesus, and get right down to it. Jesus, if I lose it all again, will You carry me? Will You patch my heart together again? Will You give me just enough strength for the day again? Will You feed me, clothe me, hold me, and love me?

It felt like vows. For better or for worse. For richer or for poorer. In sickness and in health. I gave Jesus my worst case scenario, and He said “Yes” and now I’ve disarmed the enemy. The bomb is deactivated. The nightmare has no sting. If I should lose it all and find myself where I’ve been before, guess who will be with me then as He is now? My Jesus. My feet have found the solid ground again, the unchanging part in the storm.

This gives me more grace for others. That means I’m not so scared of them anymore, because I’ve made my peace with the risk and with my Guarantor. I can love a little harder, and try a little longer. I can breathe a little deeper, because I’ve already wept for the possibility, and I have surrendered all the control to Jesus.

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Though I hope and trust that things will be good, that the day will be sunny, and that God will fulfill my heart’s desires here on earth, I have my peace in knowing that He is my portion. He’s my inheritance, and all that is good in the land of the living. Apart from Him, there is no good thing. I am living Psalm 16, my God, it is my heartbeat, my breath.

Father, strengthen my hands to receive Your promises, but train me to cling to You. Sharpen my eyes. Refine my words. Make me hunger  for the things of You, only. Do not let me get distracted by anything that isn’t for Your Kingdom, because I do not want it. I don’t need it. Let me root down and be immovable in Your truth. Make me so brave and powerful in the Spirit, that the things that do not belong cannot coexist with me. Clean house, Papa. I give You full permission, and I know the cost.

Let me laugh at the days to come, with full confidence, not that the outcome will be pleasant or easy or favorable for me, but that YOU will be unchanging through it, and the punchline of my life. I can laugh at that. Oh death, where is your sting?

Greener Grass

Sometimes I get really tired. I get frustrated. I sometimes feel muffled, stifled, and discouraged.

I say one thing, meaning it from the bottom of my heart in the best way possible, and it offends. I lose my appetite to speak again. I lose my appetite to even try to explain myself, because it’s like trying to speak another language. I don’t have that kind of gift, and I don’t wish for it. I refuse to go to great lengths to display my pointless disapproving opinion of others’ equally pointless disapproving opinions. I stop caring. I lose my appetite.

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The thought of trying to change the world, to change the system, seems ludicrous when the loudest voices are the most offensive. The thought of vulnerable people feeling welcomed and loved, when there are so many stigmas, so many hoops to jump through? Are you kidding? Not in 2015. Not yet. The thought of healing actually taking place? It would take a revival of bleeding knees, faces on the ground in repentance for their stiff arms, narrowed eyes, and their culture of spiritual bullying and shaming.

It’s impossible with man. Cue in King Jesus to deal with this nonsense.

I get tired of staying willing, to keep stepping into the mess. And just to sit with them, not because I have to but because I’ve been there and I wished for a true friend then. Making new friends. Following up with old ones who never call me. Catching tears with my shirt, with my hands, with my hair. Watching swollen faces blow their noses loudly, trying to release a pressure from the heart, to express a grief nearly unbearable. And this I volunteer to do, on top of my job. And sometimes during my job, because coworkers pull me aside and cry to me about their broken hearts, too. It follows me everywhere, this thing I do. But it gets tiring.

Sometimes I wish I could just get home from work and be able to go to sleep. Straight to sleep. No call appointments, no emails, no texts, no messages, no voicemails, no blogs to edit, no posts to schedule, no ministry resting on me whatsoever. And the odd thing? I can’t even imagine life like that. But on the worst nights? I wish for it. I wish for a greener grass that doesn’t exist, me not following a big purpose, me not caring anymore. I wish for the very thing I hate, the very thing the world has too much of: apathy.

On nights like this, I put it all down. I lay it all down. Warm, fat tears make their grand leaps down, wasting themselves to streak my cheekbones. He sings me a new song, a low hum of peace. It shatters my anger when He sounds so calm. It wears down my frustration, His confidence sovereign. The King acknowledges my exhausted sobs, the ones of surrender. Then He softly calls me out…

You’ve been holding out on me, taking all upon yourself, going in your own strength, speaking from your own vocabulary. I increased the resistance and you took it on yourself. Don’t do that. Get back on track. It’s time for another big push. I’m stretching you again, big time. You know what is coming, don’t you? I need you big and strong. I need you tough and mighty. I need you loud and bold. I need you brave and focused. Shepherd the ones I’m giving you. Their hearts are soft. They’re ready to grow. Take them to lie down by my still waters, and show them my greenest of pastures.

And that… that’s what it’s like when He keeps me. That’s why I’m still here, still writing, still hoping and going. It’s not my power of will, nor my great endurance, no. It’s Him. He takes me when I’m falling apart, and He keeps me.

4 Dysfunctional Dating Personalities

I must admit that in the past I’ve done wrong all the things I’m about to call out. I was selfish, and I didn’t know myself very well. I created parasitic relationships. I was insecure. I say “was” because along the way I learned a few things. You’re here already, so have a seat. You’ll probably nod along. I’ll try to be direct. Here are 4 types of dysfunctional dating personalities.

1. Mirrors

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“It’s like you’re my mirror, my mirror staring back at me.” -Justin Timberlake

I call them mirrors because these people are looking for only themselves in another person. Their traits, their strengths, and their weaknesses. They have grace only for familiar weaknesses, and appreciation for only their kind of strengths. They want to look at someone and feel like they’re looking in the mirror.

The lie they believe is that dating themselves would be the easiest thing, because they understand themselves. They want to trust and they can only trust themselves. They’re afraid of the unknown. They are afraid of unpredictability. They are afraid of the unfamiliar. They’ve probably been 100% burned by someone they trusted before, and now they’re out looking for themselves.

The thing about mirrors, though, is that you miss out on having a real counterpart, someone who loves you through the differences and whose strengths compliment yours. Breaking out of this mirror dating strategy looks a lot like laying down expectations and digging deep into humility. Look at your best friends and tell me how they’re different from you, and yet are still your best friends. Having major things in common is absolutely necessary, but don’t let fear or trust issues become the compass for your choices.

Mirror relationships miss out on the gospel because they are oftentimes judgmental. Mirrors are quick to cut a relationship the minute they realize they’re not dating themselves… that’s insecurity playing out like judgment.

I learned not to be a mirror, because I need someone who sees the world slightly differently than I do, yet loves me enough to come and sit by me and show me, and want to know what I see. I learned that brave communication is the key to accessing the reward of doing life with a different person. If we fail to communicate with courage, to voice our needs, we end up resenting that person for not seeing it the way we do. We assume the permanent role of being misunderstood, which is a victim mentality, and we miss out on the flexibility of love. Love can stretch around and see things from multiple angles. Love can give grace in the middle of disagreement. Dating someone who would be exactly me in another body would not lessen conflict, it’d probably increase it, because I’d expect that person to understand more about me with less information. It’s backwards. It’s lazy love. It’s self-seeking, literally. You should desire to look into someone else’s eyes and see them for who they are, not simply compare them to your likeness.

If you’re in a relationship with a mirror, you’ll feel like a show dog. They will run you through their hoops, their obstacle courses, and at the end of the day, you’re still on a trial period. You don’t feel secure in those relationships, because they’re constantly judging you, comparing you, and well.. you’re gonna be disappointing because you’re not their long-lost twin. If you let their disappointment (which actually stems from their own fear of failure due to previous failure) seep into YOUR heart, you’ll start to feel like you don’t measure up. That is not true. You are yourself, and you were never meant to be just like them. You are you, beautifully. You are worth the risk of being loved for who you are. If that person cannot appreciate who you are, you should break up with them. Do it quickly, and don’t look back. They do not currently have the ability to love you well, because they are only looking for themselves. Gather your courage and remember that you’re brave enough to love someone through their differences. That’ll come in handy when you’re dating someone who is enamored by YOU and not their traumatized sense of preservation. Pray for their healing, but for the love of God, get out of the toxic relationship.

2. Blankets

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“If I lay here, if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?” -Snow Patrol

Look, blankets are not the worst. Lots of blankets actually get married and stay married. But the thing about the blankets: they’re looking for comfort. They’ll date the friend and marry the friend, and truly they’re not feeling on the inside what they know they should be feeling. But they are so, so comfy that they don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to hurt anybody. They don’t know who they would be without that friend of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 plus years in their lives, with due reason. They love that person, just in a “hug your grandma” kind of way. Aww. It’s super tragic. The friend zone gone wrong.

The lie that they believe is “there will not be someone else who will feel this familiar, who will love me for me, who will know me this well, and who will let me know them fully” and they sit there with this tangible option of comfort versus the invisible risk of the ominous, fiery “what if” in the uncertain future. This is why a lot of blankets do get married. They value the relationship for what it is, even if it is completely lukewarm, and they choose it. I’m sure some of these semi-arranged marriages do thrive, but I believe you should question your thinking during DATING if you’re not feeling anything beyond friendly love. I think it’s deceptive to someone to pretend you have passionate feelings for them. It’s a lie. When you’re married, you stay married. You kindle the fire. I’m writing this about DATING, k? Cool.

Blankets miss out on the opportunity of meeting someone who exhilarates them. It’s the crazy-in-love thing. Whether or not that fades is irrelevant. It should be there at least at first! The romantic in me demands the spark, the butterflies, the stuttering, the lingering on the phone unable to hang up, the swoon when that person kisses your cheek, and the fire that burns up inside when they look into your eyes and you know they are thinking about how much they love you. Blankets chance missing that, and I think that’s just crazy. Love is All-consuming Fire, by definition. God embodies both.

I see blanket relationships missing out on the gospel when it comes to being lukewarm. Often, these two people don’t go out of their way to express their love to each other. It’s a comfort zone, which isn’t unbiblical but it can hinder the zeal that could be there. It’s also a control and trust issue thing going on. Blankets think they are expert statisticians, that they know their odds are harsh. They may not believe God has the best for them and the person they’re dating.

I learned not to desire a blanket relationship when I realized how much pain it can create. Blankets are in my opinion the hardest breakups because they feel like you have to get out of the warmest bed to the coldest room, on a rainy morning, with the option of sleeping in, and instead you sit up, put your feet on the floor, and walk away from the comfort zone. It’s excruciating. I wish those on no one. But can I tell you how glad I am right now that I’m not in a blanket relationship? SO glad.

The key in overcoming these kinds of relationships is to have blind trust in the goodness of God, and also to place a high value on honesty. You might think you’re avoiding pain by staying in, when really you’re being dishonest with that person every single day by not loving them romantically. When that truth rises out, it hurts a different kind of pain. I’m not saying to be fully led by feelings, but you are not a robot! If you’re not feeling romantically drawn in, be honest and end it. Set that person free to experience a real two-way street relationship.

If you’re in a relationship with a blanket, you might feel unappreciated and overlooked. You’re not being pursued much. Romantic gestures might look forced. It’s the classic case of being taken for granted, mostly because… well… you’re being taken for granted. You might be feeling the fire yourself, but you notice the gap between your ideal and what you have. It might be great to ask some hard questions and to communicate what you need. Along the lines of “hey, I feel like we are so comfortable together, and I’d like to keep the fire alive. What are some ways you can think of that we can express passion to each other?” and TALK. TAAAALK. If you don’t talk about it and you break up with a blanket, you’re gonna hate me and yourself and everything. This is not an easy breakup. You’ll need to lean heavy on the Lord (as always) and dig deep into His Word. Prayer turns up like 15 notches. Surround yourself with friends and wisdom. All is well that ends well and I promise you have got to let go of mediocre to experience greatness. Good is the enemy of best. You are so so so worthy of passion, and you should make room for it.

3. Empty Cups

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“I don’t want no scrub, a scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me, hanging out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride, trying to holler at me.” -TLC

At the risk of sounding horribly harsh, let’s talk about empty cups.

Empty cups don’t have anything to offer you, but they still think they should be dating you. You have to fill them up and hold them up. Everything that would be of benefit in the relationship would be coming from one side, while the other is seeking validation, affirmation, status, and a way to avoid their own issues just a little bit longer. Empty cups put a high value on how they feel for you, and a very low value on pretty much everything else that is important, like faith, distance, financial health, overall health, life goals, accountability, family, and committed decisions like parenting, housing, and attempting to make some long-term decisions. This sounds AWFUL but you would not believe how many people are not in a healthy place emotionally to date but are still trying to date, in the middle of their broken places when they should be seeking Truth and wisdom and healing. These people are co-dependent. They don’t know what to do with themselves if their phone isn’t buzzing, because they don’t quite know how to access Jesus for a relationship. They are not permanently stuck that way, but they MUST go through healing. We have all been empty cups at one point, and we know that the best thing that can happen is being released so that we can lean on Jesus without a distraction or alternate source of comfort.

The lie they believe is that they need to lean on somebody else (and not 100% on Jesus) to give them their daily boost of “I am significant.” They do not fully know who they are in Christ, nor what Jesus does for them. Odds are, they are disconnected from the voice of God. Maybe it’s because of a stronghold, or just that they haven’t been taught how to access Jesus for themselves. This kind of love is like a vacuum, not an overflow. They’ll be looking to receive. They speak loftily without making any action to back up their words. They talk big game about their feelings, but they shy away from commitment and have no means whatsoever to actually commit! These relationships are so very unhealthy. These are breeding grounds for resentment and abuse of various forms.

Empty cups miss out on the opportunity of experiencing intimacy with God, because they’re afraid of intimacy with God. This might stem from parental wounds, or abuse, or hurt from a previous relationship. They for some reason feel separated from God, even though the Word of God says there is nothing that can separate them from the love of God. And because they need the love of God (we all desperately, desperately do), they’re gonna try to get it from a person. They want to be filled up. They want someone to pour joy and peace and love and patience into them, in an overflowing fashion. This is the role of the Holy Spirit within us. These are the fruits of intimacy with God, not with people. There is no suitable substitute for the love of God.

Empty cups miss out on the gospel because they struggle to believe it for themselves. They see other people enjoying the freedom and identity of Christ, but don’t quite know how to access that. They think there’s something wrong with being single, because they are not fully content with Christ alone.

I learned not to be an empty cup when I had no choice but to be a single empty cup haha. At first it was excruciating, but the lonely times with Jesus got sweeter and sweeter. Sometimes I’d get pizza and pepsi, and go to the dock to watch the sunset with Jesus. Sometimes I’d go hike a mountain or run in the trails. I’d sit and paint, and write, and color with markers. I would read out loud “Streams in the Desert” to Jesus in the morning, watching the sunrise. Sometimes I’d just cry in my car, and that was okay too! I started to understand what it meant to say “apart from You I have no good thing” and “there’s nothing on earth I desire beside You” and I became wildly independent. I realized that my love is independent, that I can love people and not require an ounce of it back. Forgiving people who didn’t love me well or at all. Loving my enemies. At the end of the process, I was filled to the brim.

Being an empty cup is not a permanent state, but dating when you feel this way or dating someone who feels this way is a TERRIBLE idea. The key in overcoming? Get healing. Get your time with the Lord, and that might mean you need to set a time frame and just be SINGLE during that time, by choice. Figure out your non-negotiables. Ask Him who you are. Ask Him to reveal His love for you. Take a sober look at your life, the different parts of it. Change what needs to change. Commit to what is important to you.

If you are dating an empty cup, you might feel the need to stay with them because you hate the idea of being yet another thing that falls apart in their life, BUT you need to pray and ask the Lord if you’re in the way of their healing. You might be a distraction. They need a counselor, a friend, a mentor. You need a break from all the hot mess drama. You might realize you don’t have 99 problems, you just have one. I say back away, but you do you, boo boo.

4. Reachers

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“I wish that I could be like the cool kids, ’cause all the cool kids they seem to fit in.” -Echosmith 

One of the tv shows that I used to indulge (I watched every single episode) is How I Met Your Mother. It isn’t PG and they make tasteless sexual jokes. But I watched it for the puns, the Star Wars references, the Canadian Robin Sparkles, the woo girls, and the heavy-metal music wrestling scenes. SO, in this show they brought up a theory that in every relationship there is a Reacher and a Settler… so someone is dating outside of their league, while the other is dating below their league. I disagree. HOWEVER, some people firmly believe they are the perpetual reacher. They don’t consider themselves to be worthy, which looks a lot like the empty cup, but a little different. Reachers aren’t empty, and they’re not looking for comfort. The lie they sincerely believe is that they are 100% out of their league, which sets the tone for an imbalance that plays out through the whole relationship.

Sidenote: I have SO been the reacher, as in I thought I was dating outside of my league. In the past, I dated a “cool kid” and for the life of me I could not figure out what he saw in me. The entire time that relationship lasted, I felt very uncomfortable, very unfit. I felt like the Princess Diaries, a commoner in royal settings. It made for a LOT of awkward interactions, second-guessing everything I said and trying too hard to attain a standard I made up for myself. I felt like the oddball around his cool friends, and I was just not trendy enough. I was hurt when that relationship ended, but GEEZ, I also felt SO relieved. I didn’t have to try to fit with the stuffy, superficial cool kids anymore. I could just eat a pizza with my hands, not worry if it was vegan or gluten-free or WHATEVER. I didn’t have to sit through another British tv show that bored me to tears. I could wear ripped jeans again and not feel like a hobo. I could say “I have never heard of that band” and smile for days.

With all that said, being the reacher is a full-time job. Constantly trying to adjust, to attain the standard, to fit in as much as possible, to say the right thing, the witty thing, to not be too quiet or too loud. Ew!

Reachers miss out on feeling like they’re enough and wonderful, just for who they are. They are constantly comparing themselves and worrying way too much about people’s opinions of them. It’s a performance, the kind that you know you haven’t practiced enough for and it makes you extra sweaty to think you’re probably gonna mess it up somehow. You’re expecting failure, and pit stains, expecting that person to wake up one day and see you for who you really are, and walk away. Being a reacher is not healthy. It’s not accurate.

Reachers miss the gospel because they don’t see their own value in God’s eyes. Identity in Christ. There are no leagues. There is, though, a thing called confidence. It’s important. I’ve met people who at first don’t catch your eye, but then they swoop in with their personality and captivate the room. I’ve met people who are so endearing that you can’t help but feel warm and fuzzy when you’re around them. You can’t tell me that if they dated an “attractive” or “affluent” person that they’d be the reacher? Nah. Neither are reachers. You have two people who are fascinated by each other. The gospel declares that Jesus is fascinated by each of us! None of us are peasants hoping to impress Him. He LOVES us. Though we fall short of glory, we have attained it in Him. To think you are less than worthy in any relationship is to miss the application of the gospel.

The key to overcoming the reacher mindset is to remember your God-given worth. If you don’t know it to remember it, then you need to go figure out how awesome you are so that you can come back like “of course you asked me out, way to notice how awesome I am!” and change the game. On the flip side, if you feel uncomfortable and feel like you don’t have the grace to be yourself in that relationship, talk about it and consider breaking up. I think the reacher is the opposite of the blanket. They’re so uncomfortable in their own skin and that discomfort travels through the relationship. It could be a good relationship, were it not for the person feeling so unworthy.

If you’re in a relationship with a reacher, you might be feeling super annoyed or tired of repeating yourself, telling them how great they are and having it go in one ear and out the other. And you might be wanting to date somebody who has more confidence, so that you don’t have to persuade them to believe they are good enough to be loved by you. Be wary not to put that person in uncomfortable situations to “test” them because that’s mean. It’s like taking a non-dancer to a salsa club… so mean! Be kind. If you’re not content in the relationship because that person keeps questioning their worth, you might wanna reconsider that relationship. It’s exhausting, and limiting. Imagine a relationship where both people felt confident of their worth, and celebrated each other? Yeah. Make room for that.

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I’d love your feedback. Did you relate to any of these? You’re awesome, and God is well-pleased with you.  If you’d like to talk about any of this, I will make time for you. Leave a comment with your thoughts 🙂 Also, if you have other suggestions of these kinds of relationships and you want me to write a part 2, leave those in the comments.

Thanks!