Do You Miss Him or Are You Just Lonely?

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Proverbs 4:23 NIV

***This post is for every woman who finds herself pining away for the man who broke her heart or simply wasn’t her Mr. Right.***

When you first met him he seemed like everything you had been praying for.  Maybe he was charming, maybe affectionate, maybe he studied the bible, or maybe he just said all the right things.  Whatever he was displaying, you fell quickly and you fell hard.  In a few short moments, you found yourself head over heels in love.  He appeared to be feeling the same way and life as you knew it just. seemed. perfect.

At some point you started dreaming of a future with him.  Maybe it was after your first kiss or maybe it was after he said “I love you” the first time.  Maybe your future consisted of a beach wedding at sunset or seeing yourselves growing old together sitting on a porch swing cuddled under a wool blanket during an autumn afternoon.  At some point talk of the future arose and he seemed to share the same dream. You found yourself in the relationship you were looking for and life. seemed. perfect.

Then came the moment you wanted to make the dream a reality and suddenly he sits on a fence of indecision.  Or maybe he changes the subject when you bring it up or makes excuses when you push for a deeper commitment.  Maybe he completely ghosts you and you’re left wondering what went wrong.  More devastating, maybe he found someone new and replaced you like a pair of old shoes.  No matter the circumstance or how it happens, this man of your dreams walks out of your life and you’re left alone and heart broken.

Alone.  For a large family or a person who is continuously surrounded by large crowds, this word means peace, tranquility and rest.  For someone who longs for relationship, thrives on interpersonal connection or desires human touch, alone is a word that brings up feelings of abandonment, rejection or can lead to questioning one’s self worth.

Alone is just a word in the dictionary and loneliness is simply a state of mind.   There are times I feel alone.  Sometimes I feel most alone when I’m in a crowd that I don’t feel like I belong in.  Other times when I’m home alone and I’m counting my blessings, I feel overwhelmed with the amount of friendships and the loving family I have been gifted.

There are times I also feel lonely.  Those are the times that can get dangerous for people.  You see, loneliness is a feeling that can really tug at one’s heart and travel one’s mind down memory lane.  During that journey we find ourselves remembering little things about a former lover.  Lonely memories don’t usually trigger the red flags in the relationship.  Lonely memories trigger all the things that made you fall in love with the person-and those memories tug at your heart strings a little too hard.

Sometimes those memories make you think you miss the one who walked away.  The more you meditate on the memories, the more you miss him and you may find yourself longing to be in a relationship with him again.  You may even find yourself praying, asking God to bring you back together.  If you entertain this too long, you could become convinced you two were meant to be together and take action to reunite.

A trip down this kind of memory lane is a slippery slope that needs to be stopped before your mind even thinks about turning down that road.  One way to do that is to take the thoughts captive and recognize what triggered them.  Maybe a love song started playing, maybe their name was spoken or you ran into someone that looked just like them.  Whatever it was, recognize it.  Then remind yourself of what you don’t miss.  Maybe you don’t miss the lies they told. Maybe you don’t miss feeling like you never measured up to their expectations.  Maybe you don’t miss being cheated on.  I am confident most of us could say we don’t miss the excuses they made for not committing or the emotional roller coaster ride they put us on with their “Come close then get away” behavior.  Whatever their character flaws were that broke your heart-list them out to remind yourself of what you don’t want in a relationship.

Then, recognize what you do miss, not in the person, rather list the behaviors that you miss.  For example-maybe you miss the daily texts messages and how it felt to be pursued.  Maybe you miss having someone to study God’s word with and to share in depths conversations about scripture.  Maybe you miss having someone pray for you and with you.  Maybe you miss the laughter and jokes that only the two of you shared or the silly nicknames you called each other when the relationship seemed solid and loving. Those are all good things to miss.

But guess what.  Those things you’re missing aren’t qualities that only your ex possesses.  They are universal character traits that you can find in someone else-someone who will love you exactly as you are, someone who won’t lie, cheat or play games with you and someone who will choose to commit to you.  That someone is your “Mr. Right” and God will lead him to you when you’re most ready to receive that kind of love.

Why?  Because you are marriage material and you are worth making a lifetime commitment to-hands down.  How do I know this?  Because Jesus proved it when He died on the cross long before you or I even existed.  There maybe things that God wants to change in you and some areas of refinement needed before you meet the one He designed for you.  Just know this-when the time is right, the Lord will make it happen. (Isaiah 60:22) In the meantime, don’t pine away for someone who isn’t pining away for you.  Turn your focus on Jesus-He promises to go before you and to never leave you nor forsake you. (Deut. 31:6.)  One more thing-the next time a love song comes on and you feel loneliness knocking at your door-change the station or make the song about your love for Jesus and remind yourself just how much you are loved by Him. Meditate on His word-especially on scriptures that reinforce that you are never alone and will bring you comfort when you do feel lonely.  Never turn back to one that rejected you.  That can only open the door to an endless cycle of broken heartedness. Don’t chase after another Mr. Wrong in effort to fill the void that rejection left. Chase after the One who is always with you, Who is near to the broken hearted and Who is the Creator of Agapé.

Please know this post was not written out of bitterness or with a man-hating heart. This is not an anti-man post nor is this an assumption that all break-ups are bad. This post was triggered after I found myself missing a friend and the steps I took to help me recognize what I was truly missing. There are examples listed of some things that have happened to me in past relationships but this isn’t triggered toward one specific person. This post also lists common examples that happen to anyone involved in a toxic relationship or simply found themselves having feelings for the wrong person. I pray those who read it, male or female, especially those who may be struggling to move on, find encouragement and maybe, just maybe, the strength to take that first step of allowing God to heal your broken heart.

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Are You a Joseph or a Jonah?

 

“If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Romans 12:18 AMP

 Adversity is something we have all encountered at one point in our lives.  For some, depending on their circumstances, adversity can be an everyday constant.  Sadly, in war stricken and third world countries, adversity is a way of life.  It’s how we all handle adversity that determines what happens to our character.  Will we use it as an opportunity to build our character, or will we allow it to destroy what God is developing within us?

I have been dealing with an overbearing amount of adversity in 2017 both personally and professionally.  Unfortunately it seems to be continuing as 2018 begins.  Without being too detailed I will simply tell you that at first I tried focusing on just the facts, reiterating the truth and not being bothered by what was thrown at me.  However, the more it continued at both levels, the more I allowed it to rattle me and I became consumed with bitterness and unforgiveness.  I became reactive instead of responsive.  I magnified the wrongs being done and I prayed some incredibly angry and irreverent prayers that even included a few swear words from time to time.  I was so focused on my enemies’ toxic behaviors I couldn’t see that I too was becoming toxic.  In fact, at one point I almost wrote a very prideful post about how to deal with toxic people.  Although I had bible verses in mind I have to be honest, that post would have been written from an angry heart, definitely not words of wisdom from Abba.

Recently I’ve been surrendering these situations and my enemies to God.  It’s a day to day, moment by moment effort because when you magnify something it can be challenging to let it go.  Since doing that I have felt God reminding me of two men in His word who struggled with some serious adversity and how each one handled it.  One chose to trust God no matter what and make the best of his circumstances.  The other pouted, complained, hid from God and then secluded himself because God saved an entire city of toxic people.  These two men were Joseph and Jonah.

Joseph had some very jealous brothers (Genesis 37:4)   They were so jealous of his relationship with their father that they plotted to kill him.   Instead they threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery.  He was sent away to another land completely cut off from his family and all that he knew.  Those who bought Joseph then sold him to Potipher, an Egyptian officer.  There’s nothing in Genesis 37 or 39 that show Joseph’s response or reaction.  However, in chapter 39, verse 2 tells us this, “The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.”  Clearly we can be sure that throughout this confusing and most likely frightening time for Joseph, he knew God was with him and he kept his eyes focused on the Lord.

Sometimes when I read the story of Joseph I imagine him being a methodical man who simply says, “Ok this is happening now-let’s see what God does with it.”  Or perhaps his response was more like Ace Ventura’s “Alrighty then!” Who really knows. One thing is for certain, you won’t find any complaining from Joseph when you read his story.

If being sold by your brothers wasn’t bad enough, Joseph then gets put into prison because his boss’ wife accuses him of hitting on her.   Again there’s nothing in scripture that shows Joseph defended himself, fought the accusations or reacted at all.  We simply read “But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him His faithful love.  And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden.” (Gen 39:21 NLT) Chapter 39 closes with verse 23 which reads “The warden had no more worries because Joseph took care of everything.  The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.

Joseph’s story in Genesis ends when he is able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams and is released from prison.  God gifts him wisdom to not only interpret the dreams but also to develop a plan that saved all of them including his brothers and father from famine.  In chapter 42, Joseph’s life comes full circle when he encounters his brothers again as they are in his land obtaining grain for his father and their families.  That moment could have been Joseph’s perfect revenge but instead, Joseph chose grace and forgiveness. He not only fed his brothers he reunited with them and his father.  Joseph does fool his brothers as a test to see if their hearts had changed and to find out information about his father and youngest brother.  In the end however, Joseph says to them, “…I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt.  But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place.  It was God who sent me hear ahead of you to preserve your lives.” (Gen 45:4-5 NLT)

After Joseph’s father died, his brothers feared that’s when Joseph would execute revenge and they begged him for forgiveness.  In chapter 50 verses 19 through 21, Joseph replies with this, “…Don’t be afraid of me.  Am I God that I can punish you?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good…don’t be afraid.  I will continue to take care of you and your children.”  In that exact moment, Joseph demonstrated the same kind of forgiveness Jesus gave whilst hanging on a cross when he said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Then there’s Jonah.  Anybody who’s ever attended Sunday School has most likely heard the story of Jonah and the whale.   God told Jonah to go to Ninevah and announce His judgement on that city for all its evil acts.  However, Jonah goes the opposite direction.  If I didn’t know any better I would say perhaps Jonah was just directionally challenged but truth be told, Jonah deliberately disobeyed God’s order that landed him in the belly of a “great fish.” Jonah chapter 1 ends with telling us he was inside the fish for three days and three nights. Jonah was released once he prayed confessing his sins to God and professing God’s greatness over his situation.

Once God set Jonah free from the “whale”, He again tells Jonah to “get up and go the great city of Ninevah, and deliver the message I have given you.” (Jonah 2:2) Jonah obeys God this time and declares to Ninevah that God is going to destroy the city.  The citizens of Ninevah believe what Jonah tells them and fast in a decree to show their sorrow for their actions.  Even the king declared the fast and demanded everyone “pray earnestly to God.  They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence.” (Jonah 3:8b NLT) The people of Ninevah hoped that their changes of heart would change God’s mind and it did exactly that.  God did not carry through with the destruction He had planned.

God’s changed plans and redemption for Ninevah angered Jonah.  I don’t mean it upset him I mean it enraged Jonah.  Jonah was so filled with despair that he secluded himself waiting to see what the city would do.  God provided shade, but also took the shade away by killing the plant.  Jonah suffered through immense heat to the point he wished he was dead.  God finally pointed out to Jonah that he was angry enough to die over a lost plant that had provided him temporary relief from the intense heat.  He pointed out that Jonah did nothing to put bring life to the plant and it lived and died quickly.  However, the people of Ninevah (people God created) had lived in spiritual darkness and then repented.  How could God not feel sorry and give grace once they repented?

The story of Jonah ends with that question.  I’m sure scholars could tell you what happened next but I haven’t studied outside of God’s word to be able to tell you what else happened to Jonah after that.  I do know this-both men faced adversity.  Joseph’s adversity came from nothing he did.  Jonah brought adversity on to himself.  Both had big decisions to make.  Joseph chose to trust God and keep his focus on Who was really in control no matter the circumstances.  Jonah chose to go his own way, defy God and even get angry with God.  He ended up miserable and suffering because of his own choices.  When we are faced with adversity we have choices to make also.  In the face of adversity do we choose to be like Joseph or do we handle life’s curve balls like Jonah did?  Each choice results in the consequence of God’s favor and blessing or living in the belly of a great fish (metaphorically speaking.)

The verse I opened with said, “if possible” be at peace with everyone.  Let’s be realistic.  Humanly speaking it’s simply NOT possible to live at peace with everyone, especially toxic people.  But that’s why God also says, “Human speaking, this is impossible. But with God, everything is possible.”  (Matthew 19:26 NLT) I pray those dealing with adversity that is the bi-product of a toxic enemy, keeps their focus on God and allows Him to not only protect you but to avenge you as well.  I also pray that those who are dealing with adversity because of your own disobedience that you will soften your hearts to God’s will and purpose, confess your sins and seek His way even if you don’t understand it.  Please pray for me as well that I can be a Joseph during my own season of adversity and dealing with my toxic enemies.

2018

Happy New Year! May God bless you in 2018 with an abundance that supersedes any human expectation you could ever imagine or dream of! New year-new posts to come…Until then, Happy January 1st, 2018!