Saturday, 1 January 2011

A thread of hope - love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Thread of hope…
We're all searching for something
We're all searching for someone
We're all longing for love
And only One can fill that longing
Only One can satisfy
His name is Jesus...

Seven years ago, my marriage ended....despite our mutual decision to separate it took a long time for me to move past the brokenness of our relationship. For years, I held onto a thread of hope, the hope of reconciliation-a deferred hope, not True Hope. Despite my heart longing for this, the facts were clear-we were no longer meant to be.

You see this separation from my husband is the tragedy that brought me to my knees, crying out to God for his mercy and understanding. Much to my surprise I found a greater love, God's unconditional love for me no matter what. True Hope is in Him. He has proven faithful and merciful in every situation.

My first Christmas without my husband would have been extremely difficult and lonely if it weren't for this new guy that I met. I was still seeking God for myself and truly believed that this man was a gift from God. I later came to realize that my desires were not God's desires and how easily I had held on to a thread of hope instead of focusing on the True Hope. It actually took a couple of years and some counseling with my pastor to move past this short lived relationship (likely because in my thoughts I had fantasized and idealized a relationship that in reality did not exist).

Then in 2006 I met a man online, he actually lived 5 hours away from me so we quickly (about 6 months) realized that a relationship would not be possible. This was devastating for me because in a very short period of time I had become emotionally attached to this person and I truly felt that my life was better because of him. After all, he was the vessel the Holy Spirit used to lead me to Christ- I was born again.

Truth be told, despite the quick realization we struggled in the flesh and in the longing of our hearts-we were drawn together for such a time as to heal our brokenness only we didn’t go about it God’s way. Looking back now, I realize that I was often attracted to men that I could rescue or fix; oddly I attracted men who wanted to rescue and fix me. Once I understood this, the healing process began (it is ongoing). I am still friends with this man today, however, only because God has shown me the appropriate boundaries required to maintain a friendship with the opposite sex (not to mention the distance helps keep things in perspective).

In 2008, out of loneliness I began to search online for a suitable man. Only this time I questioned my motives and whether or not this was God's will. Was I being righteous and obedient or just living in the flesh? This thread of hope-deferred hope had a hold on me; it was the enemy's way of reminding me of words spoken over me in my childhood "you are nothing without a man by your side". We only had a couple of dates when God revealed to me that this was not His will...I already knew it in my spirit because I did not have peace about it. However, in the flesh we can manage to deceive even ourselves. I had to cut that thread of hope that bound me once and for all (the how-to is a blog for another day).

Some days I still struggle with being alone, but I am reminded of God's unconditional love, faithfulness and provision. Do I still have a Hope? Of course, no one wants to grow old alone...My Hope is in God for His word says that if I delight in Him He will give me the desires of my heart. The rest I leave to God; if it is His will He will provide the man for me in His timing. In the meantime and always I have the bestest friend and most faithful man a woman could ask for...My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

However, in the flesh we can manage to deceive even ourselves. I had to cut that thread of hope that bound me once and for all (the how-to is a blog for another day). Well today is another day, so here is a brief overview of the how to.

First of all none of this would be possible without the grace of God. The entire experience drew me closer to Him. Through prayer and meditation on His word I gained insight, wisdom and encouragement. Basically I began to humble myself, trusting in Him even relying on Him.
Once I realized my nature to fix/rescue/improve the men in my life, I also began to notice that once they were gone my mind would dwell on them and random thoughts would hold me to the point where reality and mind were distorted.

I was making an idol out of them and putting them on a pedestal of what ifs, and I could have or should have and the mountain of regrets became the driver that moved me forward, not God.
What I had justified as spiritual warfare was actually internal warfare (old self fighting against new self. Either way it was self, not God).

So, to cut that thread of hope that bound me I needed to change the focus of my thoughts, praying against the entanglements of the enemy and learning to discern God’s will from my personal desires.

Practically speaking, the how to part involved, meditating on God’s word such as;

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23
"take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

"Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey Gods laws, and it never will. 8 Thats why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God" Romans 8:5-8

Filling my mind and thoughts with God's word, brought the love peace and comfort I needed. If we entertain random thoughts they can quickly become actions which don't necessarily align with God's will.

Therefore I made a habit of censorship, avoided dwelling on random thoughts because thinking was the same as rehearsing and would inevitably lead to action if allowed to formulate. I am sure we all know how powerful our mind and thoughts can be. So then it became important for me to…

Resist those thoughts
Redirect those thoughts
Renew your thoughts
Rehearse righteous responses to temptations

Practically speaking, I would take some or all of the following steps often repeatedly when an unwelcome thought entered my mind;

1) Praise God, the Creator for the creation
2) Meditate on scripture
3) Sing a song
4) Pray
Do the next thing-move forward, don’t dwell on those thoughts

This is further explained in a book called "Every Woman's Battle" written by Shannon Ethridge, in my honest opinion it is well worth taking the time to read it. It certainly helped me grow spiritually and allowed me to discover God's plan for emotional fulfillment. A similar book was written for men (Every Man’s Battle), both offer very sound scriptural and practical ways to deal with relationships.

Published as two posts in January 2011