Is Being Gay a Choice?

Bear with me as I attempt to discuss arguably the most controversial topic of our time. I am fully aware that I will get all sorts of comments and thoughts, both agreeing and disagreeing with what I am about to say. However, I am not seeking the approval of man, but the approval of God. So with that being said, lets get started.

Upon entering college, I was introduced to an entirely new world of people. New religions, cultures, gender identities and more. I began to find myself surrounded by the LGBT community quite a bit as time went on. Maybe this was due to the fact that I dress like a tomboy 98% of the time and am not the typical girly girl. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m just a friendly person and talk to literally everyone on campus if I get a chance. Anyway, I was meeting more and more individuals who claimed to be apart of this community and it got me thinking.

Now I am fully aware of what the Bible same about same sex relations and the stance that most believers have on homosexuality and I am not arguing that it is not a sin. However, if you are a woman, do you choose what man you are attracted to? Not necessarily. If you are a man, do you choose what woman you are attracted to? I would guess not. Attraction does not seem to be something that we can consciously choose. Think about it, if someone could choose to be straight or choose to be gay, what would be the advantage of them being gay? Who would choose a lifestyle of constant criticism and judgement? No one that I know. Now, listen as I make a point in which I believe to be crucial to this discussion. Being gay is not a choice. The ATTRACTION is not a choice. The PURSUIT is a choice. Lets discuss this further. If one is attracted to the same sex but chooses to remain celibate and never act on those desires, is that person wrong and “living in sin”? Most would say no. In the same way as an individual who struggles with an alcohol addiction or drug addiction has the DESIRE to have those things, but chooses not to. Are you following? Now, the choice comes in the pursuit. Choosing to pursue a homosexual lifestyle IS a choice. 100%. And that is where the issue becomes sin in my opinion.

Next point. Are people born gay? I get asked this constantly by my gay friends, both in the church and out. For most of my life I would have answered this question immediately with “NO WAY! God would not make a mistake. And if homosexuality is wrong, God wouldn’t make someone that way.” But as I did a little research on the origin of mankind and the history of the universe, my thoughts changed. From the moment that sin entered the world through Adam & Eve, every person from that point on was born INTO sin. Meaning that no person is ever born perfect and we are ALL born with flaws. Knowing this, I believe that everyone is born with different sin struggles. Some with a strong desire to rely heavily on drugs and alcohol, some addicted to pornography and a struggle with lust, some with same sex attraction and some with anger issues. The list goes on and on. I am in no way saying that if you are born with the struggle of same sex attraction, that you HAVE to pursue it. In the same way that those who have alcohol temptation do not have to drink. It is always a choice. However, people are born with a higher tendency to struggle in different areas. Some of this is due to environmental factors and how an individual is raised. The relationship that he/she has with her mother and father. Their experiences with the opposite sex. There are many factors that play into same sex attraction. Up until this point, there has been no scientific evidence of homosexuality being a genetic but studies are showing that is mostly environmental factors and due to higher levels of testosterone in women and estrogen in men. Knowing that men and women have both testosterone and estrogen in their bodies, the amounts are different from person to person ranging from 90-10 to 60-40. . So all of that to say, yes, I do believe that people can be born with a higher tendency to be attracted to the same sex, but in no way does that mean that they are forced to chose to live that lifestyle.

This brings me to my last point. I know for a fact that there are people out there who may read this who are in a dilemma. They feel as though their homosexual relationship is wrong and they don’t have peace about it in their spirit because of their relationship with God. I know this because I’ve been there. I’ve walked through this. I am not speaking from an outside perspective or as someone who doesn’t “get it”. Trust me, I get it. And that’s WHY I am so passionate that other people do too. Especially the church. My heart breaks as I see the gay community run as far as they can from the church out of fear. Fear of judgement or rejection. Fear of hatred or misunderstanding. And it doesn’t surprise me as to why. I am in no way saying that churches should hang rainbow flags all over the doorways, but if we are going to preach “come as you are”, then we need to teach the same. And if you’re out there, whoever you are, you who are struggling with same sex attraction and have been praying for God to make you straight for years, stop. Just stop. Behavior modification is just cutting the fruit off the tree but neglecting to find the root. It is exhausting and frustrating and will leave you broken time and time again. Evaluate your heart before you pray and notice your motives. Why do you want God to make you straight? Because it’s normal, so you can fit it? So you don’t feel like an outcast and different from everyone around you? Yeah, I get that too. Because guess what, those were my prayers too. And maybe you try to date someone of the opposite sex. Maybe that will “fix” you right? Wrong. No person can “fix” you. You are not messed up beloved. We are all broken in our sexuality ultimately. We are all attracted to things we shouldn’t be. Throwing our hearts around to anything and everything that will hold onto it, then getting broken over and over.

Ultimately, my prayers had to shift from “Lord, please make me straight.” to “Lord, I’ll wait.” Because my goal should never be heterosexuality, but holiness. The moment that we fix our eyes on Jesus, all we see is Him. Not our sins, not the stress or the addiction, not the insecurities or the financial instability, not the same sex attraction, not the alcoholism, not the night we made that horrible mistake, and ultimately, not us. We see HIM. In all His glory. And everything else fades. It’s beautiful really. You begin to really live.

I want to close with one of my favorite passages in scripture. It’s found in Ephesians chapter 5 verses 7-17. It says this: “Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, BUT NOW you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

True joy and lasting satisfaction is found in Christ alone. If you chose to read all of this, thank you. I hope that my story and my testimony encouraged you and allowed you to see Jesus more clearly. He really is worth it. And if you are struggling in this area, or with anything and are afraid to talk about it, please know that you can message me and I would LOVE to listen. Confession to God brings forgiveness, but confession to others brings healing. gay flaggaypridefeatureGod bless.

 

-Riss

 

 

Advertisements

My Therapeutic Relationship with the Gym”

For most of my life, I have been an athlete. I played softball, basketball, and was a swimmer for over a decade. However,  over the past 18 months I have developed a deep passion for the gym. Sports have always played a huge part in my life, but after coming to college I lost that. No longer did I have a practice every night for a specific sport, so I tried lifting weights and for the first two years of college it was very inconsistent. It’s tough working two jobs, being in band and a full time student. I was hard pressed for free time. It wasn’t until about midway through my Junior year that I really developed an interest in weight lifting. I remember one day just sitting at home scrolling through Instagram seeing all these super fit girls and saying “I wanna be that.” So I started searching workout plans and learning new exercises and specific muscle groups. It quickly became a huge hobby of mine and a place where I spent time daily.

Everyone has different passions and that’s the beauty of individuality. Personally, I am not very passionate about television or video games but I am very passionate about music and the gym. Those are probably two of my favorite things. Going to the gym for me is therapy. Whether I have a great day or a tough day, time at the gym is refreshing. Most of the time at least. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely days when I don’t feel like going. Where my body is so exhausted and I don’t feel like getting dressed and going to lift. Yet, I go. The biggest thing that people don’t understand about fitness is that it is a journey. It keeps going. You never reach a destination or a point in which you are satisfied. You keep pushing and keep trying to get better, to be stronger each day. I think that’s what I really enjoy about it. There’s an unending challenge! To increase in weight or reps, depending on what your goal is. There are endless amounts of new exercises to learn and growing mentally in the process as well. It’s a mental game, much more than a physical one. It’s a decision every morning to wake up and get dressed and go to the gym.

Lifting weights has served as a huge part of the past year of my life. I don’t do it for other people or to look a certain way. I do it for myself. Because I want to be the best me. I love being fit and feeling healthy. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have rest days or eat ice cream because I DO. However, I go to the gym because I want to. I get asked the question almost daily “How do you have the motivation to go to the gym every day?” And it’s the same response every time. I see the results from the hard work and I see the transformation my body can make if I put forth the effort. And that is the reward. Seeing toned muscles and feeling more confident. Many people apologize when they ask me for workout tips or help in the weight room, and I don’t understand why! I LOVE to help others and train them. That’s actually one of my favorite things, to teach others something that I have such a deep passion for.

Last week I began my first every workout program called the Alpha Female Program by Evan Childs. If you don’t know who she is, go follow her on Instagram or google her. She is incredible and was one of the first people I followed when I began my fitness journey in January of 2016. She has been an inspiration to me and I am so honored to now call her my coach. This program teaches us how to meal prep, count macros, and train specific muscle groups each day. It is not a chore to me, it is something that I love and something that I enjoy. Spending time at the gym is so rewarding. Feeling the sweat drip down my face after the last burnout set is the best. Pushing myself so hard I can barely ride my bike home. Being completely and utterly exhausted after a workout makes me happy. I’m sure my classmates don’t like seeing my sweaty and gross every day in class but oh well. Going to the gym in the morning wakes me up and gives me energy for the day. It pushes me to be better in every area, not just physically.

More than anything, this fitness lifestyle has taught me the power and importance of consistency. If you go to the gym for 5 hours one day a week, you probably won’t see very many results. However, if you spend an hour every day, you will. It’s about dedication and consistency. I hear people all the time say “I don’t have time for the gym.” and it makes me laugh because yes, you do have time. We all have 24 hours in the day, we just choose to spend it differently. So really it’s not a time issue, it’s a priority issue. You get to choose what you want to prioritize in your life and what you don’t. If I could recommend something though, it would be this: get your butt in the gym. It is so rewarding and it will pay off. Remember, consistency is key. You can do it.

 

-Riss

Valentine’s Day

I have noticed a common theme in status updates and pictures today. It’s Valentines Day, duh. You are either with a valentine, or without one. However, I haven’t had a “valentine” in five years and I am so completely content with that. I know that the wait will be well worth it. If you’re single and sitting home alone tonight like me, make a list of things you’re thankful for. I think you’d be surprised how many things you can think of. It’s so easy on a day like today to focus on the fact that you are not in a relationship when it seems like your entire social media feed is. I get it. But if you do not love yourself now and enjoy the place you’re at in life now as a single man or woman, then you are placing that expectation of satisfaction on a PERSON which will fail every time. Humans are not meant to satisfy our souls, Jesus is.

If you are not in a relationship right now, that is OKAY. You are not flawed or broken. You are not too far gone or looked over. You are not ugly and messed up. You are desired. You are loved. You are cherished. You are wanted. You are perfect in the eyes of Jesus. Today is not meant to be “singles awareness day”, as some would say. It is simply a beautiful day to celebrate those who you love. So be thankful for the loved ones in your life. Go buy yourself some chocolate and enjoy a candlelight bath. (Or whatever it is that relaxes you). Write a list of 10 things you love about yourself and repeat them OUT LOUD to yourself. Spoken words are so powerful so if you are walking around talking down to yourself and hating who you are, it will never get better. You were made for more! You are more than your past broken relationships and the trust issues that seem to consume your mind. You are more than the thoughts you have about relationships and the jealousy that eats away at your heart when you see happy couples.

I wasn’t going to write today, but I really felt like there were some people out there that were really just asking themselves “What is wrong with me?” this evening. Let me just tell you something. The fact that you are not in a relationship with someone does not say ANYTHING about your character or your personality. But when you walk around moping and talking about how depressed you are because you’re single, that’s what speaks to your character and who you are. I’m not saying you have to be overjoyed at the thought of being single, heck I know I’d love to be sitting across from some good lookin guy with a candle light dinner tonight. But I have something better, and that’s Jesus. He is the best at pursuing hearts and listening. My soul finds rest and satisfaction in Him alone tonight, and every night.

Keep your head up, beloved. You are precious in the eyes of so many. Take this time as a single to pray for your spouse, go before The Lord boldly and ask Him to bless your spouse. Pray for specific things you desire in a significant other and see what God can do. When the time is right, you’ll know. For now, be patient and sit back and enjoy the ride.

Finding Your Identity

I have 95 days until I graduate from college. It seems like just yesterday that I was moving into my dorm freshman year as a young obnoxious 18 year old naive girl. There are so many beliefs, opinions and expectations thrown at you during this time of your life. College is hard. I remember many nights sitting up crying and thinking I’d never make it through. About mid way through my Sophomore year I debated dropping out of college because of how much I hated it. There were so many people and activities competing for my time and I was so bombarded with things to do and places to be. I  was stressed beyond comprehension. Oh how I wish I had the wisdom four years ago that I do now.

For most of my life I’ve been an athlete. I’ve always had a passion for a healthy lifestyle and sports came naturally for me growing up. My Senior year of high school my swim team won the state championship so inevitably, I found much of my identity in the fact that I was a fast swimmer. That’s who I was.  I was an All Region band member. I was an honor graduate. I was a pitcher on my softball team. I was the girlfriend of an incredibly talented artist. Then in May of 2013 all of that ended. I graduated high school, ended my swimming career, finished high school band, and stepped out of a very serious relationship. I was stepping into college with no boyfriend, no swim team, and no community. Who was I? I had no idea what my identity was outside of those hobbies.

As I finish my college career, I notice individuals around me every single day finding their identity in something that will soon fade. Whether it be a GPA, a job, a relationship, a friend group, a fraternity or sorority, a sport, or a musician. All of these are GOOD things, but when they take the place of God, they become idols. Which is exactly why when these things get taken from us, we become confused and lost because much of our identity has been placed on people and things that were never intended to carry that weight. It breaks my heart to hear people around me say things like “I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I’m injured and I’m a college athlete. Now what’s my purpose?” I just want to shake them and say “YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN YOUR ATHLETIC ABILITY.” That is one small part of who you are, and when it becomes the center of your identity, you are walking on thin ice and risking losing the entirety of who you are in a heart beat. That’s the danger with placing your identity in worldly things, they can disappear in the blink of an eye. That boy or girl could break up with you tomorrow. You could have to have some sort of surgery and be out of sports for good. You could lose your job. You could lose your position as worship leader or small group leader. You will graduate and no longer have a GPA, and let me just say, in the real world your grade point average does not matter one bit to your coworkers.

The Lord is teaching me an entirely new perspective when it comes to identity. Another common instance that I see in my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and in myself is that we really do believe that Jesus loves us and seek to find own identity in Him, but when we screw up and fall back into that sin we repented of and and surrendered to Jesus, we beat ourselves up. We think “Man, I’ve done it again. I’m such a screw up. I keep messing up. Will I ever overcome this?” Trust me, I’ve been there. Speaking from experience here. Beloved, hear this. Your identity is in Jesus Christ meaning you have HIS last name and when you make a mistake, you don’t lose that. You were bought with a PRICE. You were adopted, and that means He CHOSE you. He chose you because He wants you. He wants to walk with you through the pain, through the heartache, through the valley. His blood covers your sin and your shame and your guilt. If you’ll let Him, He will. Your mistakes do not determine your identity and your past does not dictate your future. This is such a crucial time for our world and there are so many distractions pulling for our attention. We are bombarded with expectations of who we should be and what we should look and act like constantly. Now more than ever it is so important to be rooted and grounded in Christ. (Ephesians 3:17).

The Lord says that there is nothing you could do that would make Him love you more. There is also nothing you can do that could make Him love you less. He loves you because He loves you because He loves you because He loves you because He loves you. Because THAT is what He is like. It is His nature to love. And you will always be the beloved. The apple of His eye. His love is unchanging. He loves you 100%. He won’t love you any better when you become better. He loves you 100% right now. And even if you have no plans to become better, He will still love you 100%. Because He loves you because that’s the way that He is. And even if you don’t want to change, He will love you 100%. Even if you have no plans to walk with Him, He will love you 100%. Because that’s His nature. He loves all the way, all the time. His love is unchanging. What will change, says The Lord, is your ability to receive my love. Tonight, He wants to crown some more of that ability inside of you. The Lord says “I want to challenge you. Open your heart to Me. And you will receive more of my love than you have ever experienced before. I dare you. Open your heart to me. Give me your heart. Give me whatever your obstacle is. I’ll take it. I’ll remove it out of the way. Because I love you as you are right now. I love you 100% as you are right this moment. I love you as you are. So be loved. You are the beloved. It is your job, to be loved outrageously. It is why I chose you. It is why I set my love upon you. That you would live as one who is outrageously loved. That you would receive a radical love. So radical, it’ll blow all your paradigms of what you think love is. And know this, I will love you outrageously all the days of your life. Because I don’t know how to be any different. This is who I am and this is who I will always be. This is the I Am that I promised you. I am He that loves you outrageously. And you may love me back with love that I give you. Know this, you can only love Me as much as you love yourself. My love this evening comes to set you free from yourself. To set you free from how you see yourself. To set you free from the smallness of your own thinking about yourself. My love comes to set you free from rejection, and from shame and from low self -esteem and from despair and from abuse. Because when I look at you, I see something that I love. I see someone that I can love outrageously. And I have so much to bestow upon you. So much to give you. So many places to take you in My heart. But you can’t go there unless you allow Me to love you. And My love for you will break every barrier, bring every wall crashing down. Know this, My love damages fear. My love hates fear. My love will FIGHT fear. It will fight fear in you, and it will fight fear around you. If you have fear this evening, know that you have a treat in store. Because My perfect love casts out ALL fear. There is no fear where I am present. Because my love casts out fear. Beloved, you are my beloved. You are MY beloved. And in my love, I want you to feel good about yourself.” -God.

So what does this all mean? How do I let go of the worldly things and find my identity solely in Christ alone? If I had a simple step by step answer, I’d tell you. Oh wait, I do.

  1. Spend time with Jesus. Read His word. This is one of the ways He speaks to His children. The Bible is 66 love letters that the Creator of the Universe has written to us. How many of yours are unopened?
  2. Come humbly before God in prayer. Talk to Him like He is your friend, your comforter, your healer, your Savior, the lover of your soul. Open your heart to Him.
  3. Surrender areas of your life that are idols. Everyone has idols. Anything that you want more than Christ is an idol. Anything that you give all your heart to is an idol. Anything that you devote all your attention to is an idol. Surrender.

I’m not saying that change will happen overnight. It’s possible, but anytime you make a decision to put Jesus on the throne of your life, things will be difficult. You will be faced with trials and temptations you thought you’d overcome. You will be discouraged and fearful of letting go of things or people that have held such weight in your life and in your identity. You will be fearful of no longer being known as the state champ, the honor grad, or the popular kid. But instead, you will be a Child of The King and that is far far greater than any other identity that the world has to offer.

Start Now

Here I am, sitting in front of the computer screen once again with what feels like a billion thoughts in my mind. The most exhilarating part of writing is the fact that you never know what will come next. This is the case for me at least. A friend of mine once said, write for yourself and not for anyone else. So this post is for me to exhale and share some of the thoughts running through my head. And who knows, maybe someone will get something out of it.

I read a quote the other day that has been on my heart ever since I read it. It states: “What is your motive for wanting to be set free? Is it so that you don’t have to be dependent on God? If being poor in spirit drives us into dependence upon God, and we think that we’re only poor in spirit in one particular area, then why would God set us free from that habitual sin? It would ultimately be unloving for God to set us free from the one thing that is making us dependent upon Him. If He did set us free from that specific sin, He would actually just be setting us free from Himself.”

I can bet that many of you have prayed for a specific sin pattern or addiction to be released from your life. I know I have. Whether that be an alcohol dependence, a drug problem, a pornography or masturbation addiction, a prideful heart, comparison between fellow brothers and sisters, or failure to take thoughts captive, we have ALL been there. Welcome to the club. However, like this quote stated, really what is your motive behind wanting to be set free? If you’ve never contemplated this before, I’d challenge you to take some time and really dig deep in to the depths of your heart to find out why you so desperately want to be set free from JUST that sin. That sin that continues to trip you, time and time again. You’ve seen and experienced the power of The Lord in other areas of your life, but this one sin just continues to trap you.

Instead of constantly praying for God to take it away, start thanking Him for it. Thank Him for that thorn in your flesh like Paul describes in 2nd Corinthians. Anything that draws us to the feet of Jesus is good. So in my life personally, I want to write these things out in hopes that my heart might slowly shift from an attitude of frustration to gratitude. Thank you Jesus for sickness because through it, I realize my need for You. Thank you Jesus for times when things don’t go as planned, because Your plans are far far better than any of my own. Thank you Father for my daily battle with sexual immorality because through it, I get to learn how to rely fully on You to satisfy and complete me. Thank you Lord for broken relationships because they show me how to not place my hope and trust in people, but in You and You alone. Thank you for seasons of singleness because I get to give all my love time and devotion to You Jesus. Because I get to experience true satisfaction without a boyfriend or husband. Thank you Daddy for the times I’ve questioned my sexuality, because through it I have learned that I am so much more than my sexuality and that YOU define me. You call me a beloved daughter. A cherished diamond. A priceless jewel. Because through this confusion and chaos, You have lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. You have set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. Thank you Abba for seasons of loneliness, because it is in these seasons in which I learn more about myself and the things I believe. It’s in the seasons of loneliness that I explore the extravagant depths of Your heart. It’s in these seasons that I begin to grasp that I am fully known, deeply wanted, and unconditionally loved. And that’s a really beautiful thing.

I guess I’ve just gotten to a point in life where I’m so tired of our culture hiding under shame. I realize that I am sharing parts of my life with the entire WORLD, that a year ago I hadn’t even told a soul. That’s the beauty of the Cross. It sets you free from the things you never thought you’d speak of. And WHO CARES what you’ve done? Confession to God brings forgiveness, but confession to others brings freedom. And boy, that statement is SO true. You can confess your sins to God all day long but if you’ve never told a brother or sister in Christ, that sin stays hidden in the dark. And the devil loves to dwell in darkness. Ultimately, I think the reason we hide is because we’re ashamed and we’re afraid. We live in this constant state of fear like “What will people think of me? What if they judge me?” Who cares. Let them judge all they want. In the end, Jesus will be the ultimate judge of all. As you can probably tell, I value transparency quite a bit. I think our culture has grown a significant amount in the past decade in regards to vulnerability in the church. However, we still have a long way to go. I crave for the church to be a safe place for people to enter when they’re believe they’re broken beyond repair. A place where people can  find rest and acceptance for where they are RIGHT now. Oh how I desire for the church to be a place that people are REAL about the daily battles they face, whatever they are. It’s time to let the light into the dark places. To expose the evil deeds of darkness, because John 1:5 states “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” Open up and let the light in. You can do this if you want to. Find someone in your church that you trust, find a friend or mentor, find a counselor, find ME, find someone to confide in. It’ll change your life, allowing yourself to be known.

It’s funny what sort of things come out when you just start writing. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to write about tonight, I felt Jesus say “Start writing. I will write for you.” And maybe that’s what He is saying to you too. Beloved, just start walking, I will carry you. Just start believing again. Start trusting again. Start looking to Me to satisfy you. Start allowing me to captivate every part of your heart. Start surrendering that area of your life to me now. Start today. Start now.

 

-Riss 1/25/17

Seasonal Friendships

After deleting 478 contacts this evening, my mind began to flood with memories of the countless friendships I’ve had throughout my life. Some for a weekend, some for a semester and some for years. Often times when we meet someone or a group of people that we genuinely believe will be our best friends forever, we quickly learn the reality of convenience friendships. For example, when you’re on a sports team, you have friends there. In high school, you have friends there. In a campus ministry or club, you have friends there. At work, you have friends there. The list goes on.

As I finish the last semester of my Senior year of college, my heart can’t help but become a little hurt expecting the same of friends in college. I fear that this will be another season of friendships, just like my whole life has been. It seems to me, when you leave your common place of friendship, you lose that person. To a degree at least. Tonight as I was scrolling through my contacts, it just blew my mind to think about how much I adored certain people who are now complete strangers to me. What produces this sort of distance between individuals? How can two people go from being best friends and sharing their deepest secrets, to barely recognizing them in a group? Whatever it is, it breaks my heart.

I’m not saying that we should be best friends with every person in our contact list. However, it does concern me that our culture seems to be so quick to grow apart from friends simply due to the fact that we go our separate ways. It makes me question what a friendship really is. Is it about a common interest or place or is it about the fact that we are willing to fight with and for people, despite the distance? It seems so strange to me that I can feel so close to someone that lives far away rather than the people I see every day in class or at work.

What is it that creates unshakable friendship? Is it trust, common interest, honesty, convenience, time? For me, I’ve only had one friend since 6th grade and his name is Royer. We have walked with each other through life for over 11 years and are still best friends. Now if you were to look at our lives, I don’t think you’d ever peg us as being best friends because we live two very different lifestyles. However, I love that dude more than words. This goes to prove that true friendship knows no boundaries. No amount of time or distance can break that bond. I truly hope that each and every one of you have a friend like Royer in your life because it is such a sweet thing to know that you have a best friend no matter the season.

In no way am I saying that I’m a perfect friend, because I’m not. I mess up and I fail people often. I always will because I am a broken sinner that is being refined and renewed by Christ daily. I tend to get very discouraged with people, especially when I spend night after night alone. I try so hard to be a good friend to other people, but then as I scroll through my 1,245 contacts and not a single one has texted or called me all day, it can get discouraging. Maybe that’s why I’m writing this post. I’m not exactly sure. Something that I am learning in this season is that the reason I get so discouraged and hurt by others is because I’m placing my worth and my contentment in PEOPLE and not in The Lord. News flash, people suck. Well, not all them, but a lot of them. It is so easy to get caught in the pattern of expecting so much out of broken people. It’s a daily thing, learning to place my hope and joy in Christ rather than in people because people will fail you.

When I began this blog, I didn’t really have a plan or outline as to what to write. That seems to be a common theme in my posts. That’s the beauty of it though, it just flows. My thoughts continue to overflow into words that hopefully make sense to some. Friendship is a beautiful thing and such a sweet blessing. Sometimes the dearest friendships come out of the most random interactions. The famous quote states “Be the kind of friend you want to have” and it really speaks to heart of this blog. My hope in sharing part of my story with you all is that you will allow yourself to be known. I mean fully known. Open up your life, your broken dirty and crazy life, to others. Be vulnerable about your emotions and let people in. Learn to trust again. Love others boldly and never dismiss any person due to your differences. They could end up being your lifelong best friend. Be thankful for the friendships in your life right now, even if they are just for a season.

Hide & Seek

hide-and-seek

17…18…19…20! Ready or not here I come!

From early childhood, we have learned that hiding is better than seeking. We have not only argued about who the seeker will be, but we hope every time that we will get to hide. Why? Because hiding is much easier and takes much less energy and focus than seeking does. Bear with me a little bit as I incorporate some Psychology into this post. Freud, along with many other Psychologists, discussed the importance that childhood beliefs and environmental factors play in adulthood. So as children, we believe that hiding is an excitable and desirable thing, which often times carries into our adult lives. We start to hide from our problems, our relationships, our fears, and most importantly, we try to hide from God. Similar to the first documented conversation between God and mankind, we try to hide from God because we feel shame due to what we’ve done. If you aren’t familiar with this story, let me refresh your memory.

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” and he answered, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” And God said “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said ” The woman you put here with me-she gave some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” and the woman replied “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  Genesis 3:9-13

From the earliest accounts of scripture, mankind has turned from God and sought refuge in hiding, rather than seeking the Creator of the universe. This shows that our very first recorded dialogue with God contains words of fear, hiding and shame. Notice that Adam’s response was not to take responsibility for his actions, but to place the blame on another. Instead of responding directly to the question that God asked, Adam chose not to face his sin and hide from what he knew was true. Sound familiar? Now we probably don’t hide from God because we are naked (hopefully), but you can fill in the blank. We say to God “I was afraid because ________, so I hid.” Whatever that blank is for you, why are you hiding?

The apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:8-13 “For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather EXPOSE them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible- and everything that illuminated becomes a light.” 

Expose: to make something visible by uncovering it. Subject to light. By exposing our weakness, our sin, our shame, we are bringing it to the light. When we live in the light, we find freedom. Rather than continually striving to cover up your mistakes, expose them. Let others in on your life. I have been reading the book Unashamed by Christine Caine and if this topic interests you, I would highly recommend that book. I would go so far as to say that when we try to hide our sin from God and from others, the root is pride. We don’t want other people knowing that we struggle and that we are weak. This world screams BE STRONG and be okay, even if you’re not. However, in my life the strongest people I know are the ones that are willing to be real about how weak they really are apart from Christ. 2nd Corinthians 12:9  says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness so that Christ’s power may rest upon me. You see, when we are weak, He is strong. He uses our weakness to display His strength.  At this point, I would hope that we had a fairly solid grasp on what it means to hide and why we consistently try to hide from God.

Instead of hiding from God, I challenge you to seek Him during the times that you want to hide. Matthew 7:7 says “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you.” Seeking involves calling and pleading. The great promise to those who seek The Lord is that He will be found. Humility is a crucial part of seeking The Lord. Lets think back to the old game of hide and seek. What does the seeker do? He looks. He searches. He doesn’t quit until he has found who/what he is looking for. The hider sits still while the seeker moves. The hider strives to be silent while the seeker is calling out. The hider waits while the seeker runs. Beloved, don’t you see? It’s been too long. Come out of hiding. Come into the light. Drop your shame and your past at the foot of the Cross. For it is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Jesus paid the price, He set you free so chose to walk in the identity that He created you to be. You no longer have to be bound by sin and shame, for that is the very reason that Jesus came! So go now, be free, open your eyes and begin to see. Stop hiding and begin to seek, but remember that He is the key.

 

-Riss