Category: Relationships

Hey Mom, I’m Dating the Nicest GameBoy

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First came the Tamagotchi. Then the Giga Pet. Realistically, these weren’t bad products. Kids that couldn’t have real pets could have fake ones no one had to clean up after, and they would learn a little bit about the demands of pet care in the process.

Then gaming moved on from a relationship with a fake pet to a relationship with a fake sweetheart. Date simulator games started popping up everywhere. Some sweet and innocent enough, others borderline porn. LovePlus+ from Japan gave guys the option to have a giga-pet-girlfriend to cart around in their Nintendo DS. The strange thing? Some people decided these were better than having real relationships.

But really, who could blame them? Relationships in real life are hard. A digital sweetheart takes far less sweat and sacrifice than a real one. But virtual relationships don’t have what we’re looking for in our real relationships.

Virtual affection is not real affection
Everyone wants someone to know them and love them for who they are. They want genuine acceptance and affection. Your virtual crush may say all the right things, but that’s because they’re programmed that way. Their compliments are lines of code. There are real people who love you for who you are, and they aren’t forced to act that way.

Virtual intimacy is not real intimacy
The ability to be really raw with someone is a beautiful thing – a virtual relationship can’t reciprocate raw emotion. In a real relationship, you laugh, cry, fight, and move forward together, making the bonds between you all the stronger for doing so. A virtual relationship is weak. It has no foundation and can’t form bonds at all.

Virtual relationships are not real relationships
Real relationships teach you to be selfless, they cultivate maturity, and they give you support and encouragement in hard times. Virtual relationships don’t do any of that. Their programming is catered to entertain you, not make you a better person or give you basic human needs. They’re targeted to take up your time and money, not improve the quality of life. Real relationships improve the quality of life. Real relationships give you the basic human needs of community and intimacy.

Relationships in real life are valuable, because for better or worse, they’re real. It’s easier to attach to virtual relationships, whether it’s a DS game, an online relationship, or pornography, because they’re relationships that require less work and little sacrifice. We may think a virtual relationship has a quicker return, but they will always leave us empty.

God created us for human interaction.  Despite how broken relationships are in this world, they are still greater than anything we could program. Virtual relationships are only a cheap imitation; what we want is the real thing.

How to Be Selfish

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Being selfless is completely over-rated. There shouldn’t be the expectation of you putting in all that hard work! Relationships should involve someone giving you complete happiness and endless joy. Make sure you get everything you deserve by following these simple steps.

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The Comfort of Bitterness

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Do you enjoy your bitterness? I know your knee just jerked and you replied, “No,” but I don’t think you thought about your answer hard enough. If we despised our bitterness, we would do everything we could to rid ourselves of it. But sometimes we don’t. Sometimes, we keep it nearby and on hand with no intentions of releasing it. The reasons for this aren’t valid, but they’re understandable.

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The Blame Game

point2Blame came into humanity early. The first recorded blame shift is in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve chose sin, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the snake. (Gen 3) We shouldn’t be surprised that blame finds its way into our every day lives. We can’t deny that we have pointed our fingers at others, especially at those who have wounded us. Whether or not we are justified in our accusations is irrelevant. Blame is completely useless.

Blaming Doesn’t Solve the Problem
Even if the blame has been shifted, the issue at hand still remains. The problem you face will not disappear because you have pointed your finger at someone else. Blaming your parents for your baggage won’t set you free. Blaming your spouse for your misery won’t make you happy. Blaming your kids for your stress won’t bring you peace.

Although we cannot deny that the poor decisions of others have affected us, holding onto the idea that someone else is responsible for the struggle inside yourself will never bring resolve. Blaming never solves a problem, it simply sustains it. It creates a larger trench between the problem and the solution. Nothing is solved when no one takes on their own responsibility. Even bystanders hurt in the act have a responsibility to face.

Blame Doesn’t Free You From Responsibility
Every person is responsible for their own actions, and that includes reactions. Bitterness is a reaction. Hatred is a reaction. Refusing to move forward is a reaction. All three of these reactions do not manipulate the other party to repent, they instead only torture us to our grave. Saint Augustine said, “Resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies.” Blame is ultimately resentment, and resentment is poison to our souls.

When we have been mistreated, when we have been led astray, when our expectations have been unfulfilled, we have the responsibility of choosing our next steps. It is our responsibility to forgive. It is our responsibility to speak up in love. It is our responsibility to move on and heal. No one else can do these things for us, no matter how much blame we put on them.

Blame Does Not Deepen Relationships
If your goal in life is to never have deep relationships, blaming others is a great way to reach that goal. A pointed finger keeps everyone at arm’s length. The blame you hold against your spouse, your kids, or your parents will destroy your relationship, and ruin any chance of deep intimacy.

Not all relationships should be deepened. There are some relationships that need boundaries, and some relationships that need to be completely severed. But realize that the blame you hold onto will create a wall between you and the person on the other side of your pointed finger. If this is a person you love and long to be closer to, you will need to let go of your resentment.

When Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the snake, no one escaped the consequences. Regardless of who was at fault, every person involved felt the impact and was held responsible for their actions. Blame will never give us the freedom we desire, only forgiveness will. When we let go of the blame, we can solve the problem at hand, move forward, and strengthen our broken relationships.

Do You Involve Your Parents in Your Love Life?

pollinvolvement1On a scale of 1-5 (1 being “not at all” and 5 being “extensively”) how much do you involve your parents in your love life?

Not everyone can involve their parents in their love life. Some parents are not walking with the Lord and cannot give wise council in matters of the heart. There are those, however, who have strong, Godly parents who can give good advice.

Counsel should always be sought in relationships, and your parents can be a great source of information and guidance. They’ve faced all the anxieties you’re going through, along with many other complications and challenges.

If you can’t seek the counsel of your parents for any reason, you still need a source of wisdom. Don’t rely solely on your peers for romantic advice. Seek advice from pastors (who have seen EVERYTHING), other married couples (preferably older couples), or even online counselors from Christian organizations such as Focus on the Family.

The greatest fulfillment comes from relationships, but so does the greatest pain. Everyone experiences heartbreak, but some pain can be avoided with the right guidance. Submitting to wisdom can also bring a deeper level of joy to your relationship. Don’t neglect seeking direction and instruction while navigating through a relationship. Not only will it steer you away from unnecessary messes, but it will also strengthen your relationship and help it thrive.

Advice for Getting Advice
Pray first
No matter how wise your parents are, God is wiser. If you are looking for direction, guidance, and wisdom, there is no better source than the Father. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  You have a direct line to the ultimate source of wisdom. Don’t neglect it.

Compare all advice to Scripture
Some Godly people have great wisdom, but every once in a while they miss the target. Just because a person is a Godly person doesn’t mean all their advice is wise. All counsel should be measured against Scripture. Anything that goes against the Word of God needs to be thrown out. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” There will be times when people will try to give you advice based on their own understanding instead of God’s Word. But God’s Word is wiser. It was written to span all of time and to instruct every soul. Hold fast to it.

Don’t think your situation is exempt
Statistics exist for a reason. Many ignore good advice because they believe they don’t need it, it doesn’t apply to their situation, or because they feel their relationship is different from all the others. Although each relationship is different, they all go through similar challenges. No relationship is so impenetrable that it is above advice and counsel. The choice is up to you whether you accept and act upon the advice given to you, but at least be willing to consider it before throwing it out. (Unless it goes against the Word of God, as previously stated. Then go ahead and chuck it.)

Whether or not your parents are involved in your relationships, understand that it isn’t smart to go through a relationship without the counsel of third parties. Seek wisdom always and apply it often.

What is the Best Age to Start Dating?

birthdaycupI dare you to ask this at a sweet sixteen party just to see what happens.

I once saw a Youtube video where a couple of guys talked about their experience dating in middle school, and just how pointless it was to do so. They explained that they barely knew what a relationship was, let alone how to have a solid one.

So the question is, when is a good age to start dating?

Whenever you start dating, you have to look at the intention of your relationship. At fourteen or sixteen you may be completely smitten with a member of the opposite sex, but are you heading towards marriage or heartbreak?

Granted, the age you marry is dependent on who you are, where you live, and what your culture is like. Being a California native, I’m used to seeing people get married between 25-35. Marrying later in life is normal there. But here in Tennessee, everyone is married between 18 and 21. The age people start dating is dependent on what age is normal for marriage in your culture.

The bottom line is despite your age you should be intentional about where your relationship is going, and decide to be responsible in that relationship. The pain of a premature relationship saps the joy out of a young heart. Don’t begin dating out of rebellion or discontentment- date with the intention of a fruitful life.

The Reason You’re Not Married

weddingbouqetfinalSummer is the season for weddings. And it appears I have now officially reached the age where I get to watch all my friends get engaged and stroll down the aisle into marital bliss. There is are mixed feelings between my other single friends and myself;  happy for our friends who are starting a new chapter of their lives, and yet wondering when we’ll reach that part of the book ourselves. Some of us even suffer from periodical anxiety, questioning why the years go by yet we haven’t met someone to share our lives with. That kind of anxiety brings up horrible questions. Questions like, “Why doesn’t anyone want me?”, “What’s wrong with me?”, and “What do I need to change in order to be loved?”

These questions unnecessarily burden our hearts. Our imaginations attempt to come up with the answers, creating paranoid chaos. We conclude with, “I’m not attractive”, “I’m too messed up to get married”, or “There’s nothing loveable about me.” Some of us even decide that God doesn’t really care about our love lives, and that He probably deems our dreams of marriage as silly.

But these conclusions are wrong. Here’s why.

The Reason You’re Not Married Isn’t Because You’re Not Lovable
Psalm 139:13 says, “For you [God] created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” I want you to remember this truth for the rest of your life: God created you. And when I say “create” I don’t mean “mass-produced.” The Creator of the universe took the time to design you, inside and out. He passionately loves you despite the brokenness within you. And if God Himself loves you, there is not one person who can stand before you and tell you that you’re not lovable. That argument won’t stand in the Holy courts. If you want to read about God’s love for His people, just check out Isaiah 43:1-7. If you’re looking for someone who is willing to do anything out of their love for you, this passage will tell you Who that Person is.

The Reason You’re Not Married Isn’t Because You’re Messed Up
Here’s another truth for you: everyone is messed up. It doesn’t matter how perfect they seem on the outside, everyone is sinful and falls short of perfection. (Romans 3:23) Married couples will attest to the fact that messiness exists before and after marriage. There isn’t a hidden spiritual clause saying that once you get yourself together as a single person God will bring you a spouse. That’s not the way marriage was designed. Marriage was designed to be a picture of God’s love for His church. We don’t become the bride of Christ after we stop sinning or stop screwing up. Our salvation was not based on a reward system, and neither is marriage. Marriage would be a poor example of God’s love if we had to be perfect before we walked down the aisle. God loved us while we were sinners – your future spouse will too.

The Reason You’re Not Married Isn’t Because God Doesn’t Care
I’ve suffered from the delusion that God isn’t incredibly interested in my romantic life. I’ve pushed my desires aside, labeling them as silly, and telling myself that God cares more about my relationship with Him than my marital status. And there is some truth to the last part of my logic – God wants my greatest love to be Him, not my spouse. But God takes marriage seriously. It is the witness of His love for His church. If anyone thinks marriage is important, it’s God. He invented it, He has a purpose for it, and most of all, God is a crazy romantic. I can only imagine Him carefully piecing together every love story, excited at His glory revealed through every relationship. Sooner or later, His glory will shine through your marriage. Right now, however, He is showing His glory through your single life. God is just as excited about this part of your story as He is about the later chapters.

So what is the reason you’re not married? I can honestly say that I don’t know. Only God knows, and He may not tell you the reason until later in life. But I do know that God hears every heart, and can see your desire to be married. He won’t forget you. As your friends change their Facebook relationship statuses, rest in the hope of God’s romantic and passionate nature. And remember, you all ready have the greatest love there is: His.

Came to Heal

[Jesus] came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. As usual, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him, and unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”Luke 4:18-21

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We are going to be viewing this passage for a few weeks. There is something epic about this entire monologue – like Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, or The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln. Only this is the King of Kings revealing Himself as the fulfillment of prophesy – the healer, liberator, and Savior of mankind. Substantially more impacting.

This week I want to take a special look into verse 18 where it says, “He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted…”

If you have a heart, it probably has been broken. God did not design the human heart to be impenetrable. The Lord Himself feels anguish, so we too will experience anguish ourselves. (Genesis 6:6, John 11:33-36, Hebrews 5:5-8)

But our hearts aren’t built like God’s is. Our hearts are limited. We don’t feel love, anger, and pain on the same scale God does. Our hearts are much smaller. And since God built our hearts Himself, He knows how to repair them.

How comforting is it to hear from Jesus himself that He was sent to heal the brokenhearted? In the midst of our suffering, there are a few truths we should keep in mind.

God Sees Your Broken Heart
In Jeremiah 17, there is a passage that talks about the deceitfulness of the heart. In there is a line worth mentioning: “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind…” (verse 10) Obviously, the context of this line has to do with God searching the heart for impurities, but the thing to note is that God can see into your heart and mind. He knows what’s in it. He knows all your anxieties, fears, and pain. He sees all the broken pieces. And more than that, unlike us, He can see how to heal our hearts. We may not be able to see what is holding us back from healing, but God does. Do you want to know where to go next? Ask for God to reveal the path of healing to you.

Jesus Sympathizes with Our Suffering
Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses…” It’s hard to imagine the Creator suffering with the same afflictions we face. But it is true that Jesus can sympathize with our pain. Jesus knows what it’s like to have your family think you’re crazy (Mark 3:21), to have the people you love betray and abandon you (Mark 14:43-52), and to have death stare you in the face. (Luke 22:41-44). Jesus is not a stranger to pain. He understands how you feel, and He longs to comfort you. If you want to see just how much Christ loves you in the midst of your suffering, just read Romans 8. Verse 26 and 34 tells us that Jesus and the Holy Spirit make intercession for us. Meditate on that wonderful truth for a few minutes.

We Always Have Hope
Our heart break may be big, but God is bigger. Though we long for the days where there will be no more suffering or heartbreak, we have to remember that God is still at work in this world. He is at work right now in your life, meticulously working on the small, shattered pieces of your soul. And in the midst of His work, He keeps us safe. Psalms 34:18-20 says, “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit. Many adversities come to the one who is righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all. He protects all his bones; not one of them is broken.”

Don’t seek hope from a situation, seek hope from the Lord. He is bigger than every circumstance, every dilemma, and every heartbreak. When we are in the midst of heartbreak, our eyes need to turn God. Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted, but the brokenhearted must give their hearts to Him to be healed.