Love is Not a Feeling

Here is our first of four video blogs about dating now viewing on Christian Mingle…

(The first one was rejected by the editors because yours truly used a slang word for oral sex.)

I know, I know…Sam we can’t take you anywhere!

After some magical editing, I am now fit to be shown in middle America.

Let me know what you think.

Blessings,

Samantha

 

Pretty Ugly-Why Dating the Hot Girl Sucks

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A friend called the other day as I wolfed down a salad with my hubby at a nearby restaurant. In between bites, I listened to his sorry tale of a date gone AWKWARD.

And as Tim and I laughed with (and at) our friend’s awful tale, I remembered how hard it is to date and how Really hard it is to find good prospects.

As my friend described his date, I heard him say over and over, “but she’s so pretty,” as if it were an excuse for her rotten behavior.

I heard the longing in his heart for a real relationship but I couldn’t overlook the tacky elephant in the room despite how totally gorgeous the elephant was.

So here is how it went down: Our buddy invites a “hot” woman to coffee. At some point on the way to the first meet-up, the woman texts him and switches the location to a fine dining establishment. She then proceeds to order filet mignon, a huge beer which she guzzles down, burps and then hands him the bill.

In my book, that type of behavior is just plain old rude.

But in my friend’s mind he excused her bad behavior because of her beauty.

Why?

Because her beauty fed his need for validation as a man.

(And maybe it also gives him good material for his schtick)

So where do we look to for our self-worth?

Is it outside of us (the world) or inside?

And when is enough ever enough?

Now my friend is a very smart and ridiculously talented guy. He works in the entertainment industry but lives within a modest income so he can give back to the community. He is secretly one of the more philanthropic people I know and spends hours upon hours every week helping the poor and needy. His heart is pure gold—and despite his penchant for pretty women who treat him badly, he is a real catch.

But his fatal flaw is a broken picker based on a broken self-worth.

He picks beautiful mean women.

And he knows better.  But he justifies.

Because in his eyes pretty covers a multitude of sins.

Let me state the obvious–beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes down deep to the bone.

Big boobs have no connection to a big heart.  Just saying.

This chick was bone ugly—let’s call her BUGLY. And BUGLY exploits her beauty to use men.

BUGLY is not what a good man needs. He might think he wants it—like junk food, or a 12 pack or a binge on porn…but in the end it leaves a huge gaping void.

We feel depleted, missing something…sad. What should have made us feel good made us feel worse the day after.

When she doesn’t text you back.  When she only calls because she’s hungry or has nothing better to do.

Anytime we look to outward things—materialism, image, power—to find our identity, we miss out on the intangible things our hearts truly crave—love and relationship.

God alone determines our self-worth. We are image bearers of the King, fully loved, and fully accepted despite our brokenness. We don’t need to prove anything to anyone.

Let others play this stupid game. No one ever wins. All the toys and egos go back in the box when the game is over.

No hot chick, hook-up, affair, rich man, big house, power job or perfect children will satisfy this void in our heart.

We can look our entire lives for the elusive something to fill the gaping hole in our heart s—a hole that God designed specifically to draw us close to him.

In the absence of relationship we turn to things to fill the gap.

But things only leave us wanting more and more.

I reckon someday my friend will get fed up of dating b-yatches and cry uncle to Jesus.

He’ll say, “God you take the wheel and bring me your woman.”

And then he will sit down with an attractive woman who doesn’t meet the world’s standards of beauty but has a light all her own. She will order a cup of coffee and that’s it. Period.

And she will dazzle him with her character and humor, integrity and kindness.

And suddenly he will find out what real beauty is—God working through ordinary relationship making the simple moments of life extraordinary.

*I know there are conventionally beautiful and “hot” women out there that are amazing AND kind.  I am blessed to know plenty of them!  I’m merely addressing the mean girls who use their super-powers to dupe men.

 

Why it’s Time to take off the Beer Goggles

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On the outside looking in, my life is Insta/FB worthy.  I’ve got three great kids who are healthy and functional, a job I love, a new dog, and a husband/bestie who is a pastor.

There are 59 kids in our neck of the woods of Ladera Ranch.  A rope swing dangles on a tree in our yard. It’s picturesque and our Christmas card’s don’t suck—thanks to the golden locks of my little lamb, my gorgeous son and cat-eyed girl.

It sure sounds pretty, right?

But this is so far from the WHOLE story.

If you only see my life from this angle it’s like you’re wearing beer goggles. 

The details are foggy.

But in the morning, when the makeup rubs off and the bathroom smells like puke, the rest of the picture comes in crystal clear.

Our family is pretty ordinary, slightly neurotic and occasionally downright crazy.  I think it’s awesome but it’s a far cry from perfect.

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Sometimes I like to pretend I’m not divorced—a shuushed word in the ministry realm.  I also wouldn’t mind forgetting past depravities and burying some of those wretched decisions of my youth in the sand (Can I just say I am so freaking grateful I didn’t grow up in the social media era!)   

I am highly sensitive and I FEEL stuff intensely.  It’s probably why I write.  I create drama in my mind.

I also dated REALLY badly as a Christian. 

Yep, I’m the one the Good Christian Girls pointed their fingers at.

Whisper, whisper, whisper, “Sam wore a bikini to the singles retreat.”

It’s true.  

I didn’t know the Christian rules or I ignored them occasionally when I felt they were dumb.

I did missionary dating—that’s where you to try and convert a hot, rich guy who’s not a believer into one and then you lie to yourself and pretend you have something in common.

I did gold digger dating.  No comments necessary.

I did “try really hard at purity” dating. 

I made so MANY mistakes during my time as a single Christian woman.

Much of what I talk and write based off of me blowing it, turning to God in desperation, and finally surrendering my dating life to him.

And when I finally stopped to listen, there was a repeated theme that God kept bringing me back to.

My identity was broken.

And this gaping wound was causing tremendous pain, ruining my dating life and destroying any chance of meeting the man God had for me.

So what was my big sin that kept me from God’s best? 

Not seeing myself through God’s eyes.

Beer Goggles vs. God Lenses (Note* Beer is a metaphor.  I don’t drink beer although I do like a good Cabernet on occasion)

I incorrectly labeled myself and others because my lenses were distorted.

I pigeonholed people.  I pigeonholed myself.

We think we are so politically correct.  WE would never label anyone,

And yet…I see it all the time in dating.

I believe it’s one of biggest obstacles we face as singles.

We write people off all the time by their outside appearance, job or demeanor.

The problem: a label is a description applied from the outside, rather than something intrinsic to the labeled thing. 

Labeling discounts character, spirituality, intelligence, humor and heart.

I was so guilty of this not only outward in my judgment of men but also towards myself.

So where does this start?  As kids we get labeled by our well meaning parents, coaches and friends.  A child incorporates the label into their identity and then feels the thing they were told they are.

The Results?

  • They stop taking risks
  • Forget what God created them to be
  •  They believe the lies someone else fed them.

What were my LABELS?

$$, achievement, image was MOST IMPORTANT 

And although I knew God’s truth, I still operated (or defaulted) to broken thinking and a false identity based on a worldly view during times of stress.

Gal 1:10 says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

I had an approval problem and a label problem.

And because I believed lies about my own identity and self worth, I then judged others through a faulty lens. 

 I labeled myself and I labeled others.

If you do not know who you are, you will struggle your whole life to know what is right and what you should do. If you know who you are in Christ, you will know what to do.

So God, in his infinite mercy challenged my thinking.

I dated out of brokenness but expected health.

I was the girl who kept saying, “There’s just aren’t any good ones out there who are spiritually mature and have good character.”

What I really meant was there are NO wealthy hot guys who love Jesus like I do.

Then came the enlightenment moment! 

I was at dinner with guy I met online.  He was a wealthy business guy.  And we had nothing in common.

The Epiphany—I was looking to replace one bad relationship with another.

I hid in the bathroom called friend –“call me and pretend it’s an emergency.” 

She said, “Why? Is he awful?”

I said, “No he’s just awfully familiar.”

I cried uncle. 

I surrendered… 

I stopped dating.  I needed to heal the broken parts.

John Townsend and Henri Cloud say this, “Those who blame external circumstances for their situation do not find what they want.  Those who work on themselves, take responsibility for dealing with their circumstances, and then take action, have success.

Proverbs 4:23 puts it this way:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

Our external life comes out of our internal life.  Therefore my ability to judge character would only be as good as my beliefs about myself.

I needed to learn, who I was in Christ. 

I needed to dig deep into the lies I believed about myself to uncover my true identity.

God was saying to me, “What do you believe about me?

Do you believe I love you?”

I honestly began to search my heart, study His Word, I concluded He did love me—but conditionally.

Which was why I kept taking over in the dating area because I didn’t trust he had my back. 

I also needed to unpack the lies and personal labels I’d been stamping myself with and rip them off.

  • I needed to know that my desire to be with a spiritually mature man was good.
  • That my heart for God was not shameful or less than, but good and worth fighting for.
  • That I was more than the way I looked and that I had value and worth to add to a relationship.

I had to stop comparing myself to others and look to God for my self-worth. 

We must take off our horizontal glasses and put on our vertical shades.  Look up not out.

Here is what God showed me during my dating fast:

Recognize Your Value—

There is difference between having an inflated ego and simply understanding your significance based on your God-given gifts and value to Him.

God knew what He was doing when He created you. He gave you everything you need to do everything He wants you to do.

Stop focusing on all that you cannot do.

Take an inventory of your gifts. Embrace these and maximize them!

Stop Harmful Thought Patterns—consider some of the thought patterns and other factors that are leading you to believe lies about your worth.

“Jesus came to announce to us that an identity based on success, popularity, and power is a false identity—an illusion! Loudly and clearly He says, ‘You are not what the world makes you; but you are children of God.’”—Henri Nouwen

Begin New Thought Patterns—each negative thought can be countered with God’s idea of your value.

Scripture tells us to take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5). Counter every negative thought with the truth that God reveals about you in His Word.

Rom 12:2 says:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Be Patient—healing does not happen overnight.

It will require replacing bad thought patterns with good ones. It will take daily dedication and conscious effort to stop believing the labels and lies and embrace your identity in Christ.

Read God’s Word—study what the Bible says about your worth to God. Explore what He says about His love for you and His purpose for your life.

We must replace the lies with truth…

God, our Creator, sees us has having great worth because He created us in His image.

◦He created us a little lower than the angels (Heb. 2:7).

◦We are crowned with glory and honor (Heb. 2:7).

◦We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14).

◦We are valuable enough to be purchased with the blood of His Son (1 Peter 1:18-20).

The more you reaffirm who you are in Christ, the more your behavior will begin to reflect your true identity.”—Neil Anderson

Story of Bookstore:

First met Tim.  Thought he was cute and smart but I didn’t like the pastor idea. 

Let me run this by you.  I wanted a man who was spiritually mature but I told myself a pastor was not an option.

Here are the lies I believed:

Pastors are poor therefore I would have to work and couldn’t be a stay at home mom.  Pastors live in a fishbowl and everybody watches you. Pastors are boring.  My parents and affluent friends will not approve

Lie #1: God won’t provide

Lie #2 Good moms stay at home

Lie#3 I am not worthy of spiritual leadership

Lie#4 Man’s approval is more important than God’s best

So my friend sees Tim sitting with me at lunch at the café and she does everything she can to interfere because she wants me to marry a rich guy and be like her.

So, she corners in the bookstore at Mariners and makes me Pinky swear, “I will never marry a pastor.”

And then apparently God laughed. 

On our first date, which took a while because I first said yes to going out with him, then changed my mind (because I had this nagging feeling this was a God thing)

Then called him back a few months later and said let’s do this.

Balboa Island –Dazzle me

But I had to wrestle with God some more before I agreed to be his girlfriend.

And part of that was because I was still holding on to labeling others.

Because what do we do?

  1. We judge ourselves wrong
  2. We judge others through distorted lens

So Tim wasn’t my type:

He wasn’t wealthy. 

He wasn’t big and dark haired and he didn’t look like Superman

No boat or a Porsche or huge business. 

Tim was about the exact opposite of my type.  He was the same height I was, slim and muscular with light hair and glasses and when I wore heels I was about 3 inches taller.  Tim was quirky and he liked retro fashion, house music, and he had a 1969 Caddilac the size of a boat.  He was smart and loud and charismatic.  And Tim was really fun.

I spent an entire night on my knees praying for guidance. 

And God challenged me on my type.  I had to trust that God would provide for me financially.  I had to trust that I would still feel sexy and small and taken care of with a man who didn’t dwarf me in size.  I had to trust that good character and honesty, a heart for God and spiritual leadership were more important than my type. 

I had to surrender to God. 

He brought the right man to me but I had to recognize the good gift right in front of me.

So I said yes to God and yes to Tim.

I recognized that being obsessed with what people think of me is the quickest way to forget what God thinks. You will never be able to please all people. But, you can live a life that is pleasing to God.

Matthew 7:1-2 says:

Judge not lest you be judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

We do this so often in dating.  We make quick rash judgments based on looks, career, height, and bank account.

And we miss out on some of the greatest people because of our broken thinking.

Matthew 22:37-39 speaks to this. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

I don’t like to be labeled!  I’m a Pastors Wife.  That’s like a comedy routine of awkwardness just waiting to be scripted. 

People confess to me.  They tell me their church attendance.  Then they swear and swear some more apologizing at their gaffe.

It makes me want to swear just to make them feel better. (Ok, maybe I just like to say a bad word occasionally)

So why do I judge other people if I hate it so much?

When I catch myself discounting people.  I stop, recognize the lie and reprogram my brain with the truth.

I am so happy I took a risk on a guy that wasn’t my type.  I’m so glad I ripped off the labels on myself and the ones I put on him. 

I love my pastor husband.  He leads me spiritually, he is fun and open and easy to talk to.  He’s a great daddy.  He respected my purity and helped to restore much of my dignity after a devastating divorce.  He loves my kids and he loves God.  I am the one who was blessed.

So here is my advice:

Let go of the labels!

Go out with anyone once and then go out again (unless they are a stalker or crazy). 

Reflect on your date. 

Pray, pray and pray some more. 

Open yourself up to real humans not labels.

Get rid of the beer goggles.

We need to see through God’s eyes.

The great theologian Blaise Pascal says this:

Not only do we not know God except through Jesus Christ; we do not even know ourselves except through Jesus Christ.”—

What would it look like if we stopped operating out of our brokenness when we dated and instead operated out of love? 

 

When Your Teen Dates

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No parent knows what their kid will be like once they get into a relationship.

I certainly didn’t.

I hoped my son Kyle would be respectful, but after a series of Jr. High texting relationships which lasted well into high school, I wasn’t sure if any girl would move pass the social media realm and penetrate his heart for more than a ten minute crush.

But I was wrong.

My son has been in a relationship with his girlfriend Grace for about four months.  A few weeks ago they made it official and now they even have their own Instagram hashtag–#Gryle

This is serious people.

Now, my poor son has been the recipient of years of dating advice from his parents.  It’s what we write, speak and blog about.  And Kyle could probably regurgitate our shtick back to us in his sleep.

But I never knew if he truly listened—I mean really heard us—and internalized our message on dating differently.

Fortunately, I have been surprised on a million levels.

First of all, Kyle picked well.  Grace is not only lovely on the outside but on the inside as well.  She is intelligent, light-hearted, and family oriented.  She loves God, respects people and is a fiercely competitive athlete—something they both share.  She’s nice to animals, little sisters and mothers and I think this bodes well for her future.

And I really love her mom to boot.  Could it get any better?

Kyle and Grace have boundaries around school, sports and their own pursuits.  They encourage one another and push each other to excel.  It’s bizarrely mature.  And although they text each other it’s not an all day affair.  It’s after the home work is put away and the workouts are done, or a quick shout-out on the way home from school.

(I counsel thirty-five year olds who haven’t figured this out yet)

Next, Kyle treats Grace like gold. He cherishes her and respects her.  He is interested in her well-being on all levels—not just making out and hanging out (although they do those things a lot too).  But, Kyle cares about her as a person and not as a thing.  And Grace reciprocates.  It is mutual affection based on respect and appreciation.

And here is where I am deeply humbled.

Was I a part of this?  I know it’s a culmination of dad and mom and step-parents and mentors, but in a world where men treat women like objects, my son, despite being assaulted by porn and Victoria’s Secret and the onslaught of an over-sexualized culture is choosing to be different.

I know he will make many mistakes going forward (on top of those in the past) but watching him treat a woman with dignity makes my heart soar!

Especially because at that age I let men treat me badly.  I didn’t understand I was worth more.  My son’s behavior  is redemptive for me as a woman and I thank God for his grace and mercy.

(Now we just have to make sure Faith and Kolby don’t carouse with douche-bags who treat them poorly)

The biggest issue I have is that this whole experience is so wonderful I don’t want it to ever end.

I’ll dream and pray none the less—maybe high school sweethearts can still make it in our crazy world?

–Samantha

 

Just as an update on my parents and a BIG THANKS to all who are praying.  My mom is on hospice now at home.  She has stopped chemo and all treatment for her pancreatic cancer.  We are enjoying the time she has left and pouring out our love on her in abundance.  Most of my days are now spent at their home in La Quinta trying to capture her smile and elegance and etch it into my memory forever.  My step-dad is doing a beautiful job of caring for her, along with family and friends, and hospice is a God-send.

My dad is at a secure Alzheimer’s facility in Beaumont.  He is recovering from three surgeries after he jumped off a ten-foot balcony at Christmas from paranoia due to his brain disease.  Mentally, he is pretty much gone and it’s heart-breaking.  He thought my step-mom was Santa the other day.  Physically, he is still having some complications from the broken back, compound fracture of the tibia and fibula and shattered ankle.  The pin has come loose from the ankle and the hole from the pin is infected.  Please pray for healing and comfort as we journey down this very difficult road with him.  I miss him desperately! 

Is Purity Even Relevant Today?

There are many reasons to wait for sex –good reasons, lame reasons, and even churchy reasons.   But there aren’t many compelling reasons to actually deter most of us from the dirty deed. 

Sex feels good and life is hard enough, so goshdangdarnit, what kind of overbearing big brother meanie wants to take away all our fun any-who?

I never had to deal with all the Christian angst of dating the first time around.  I was just a big old sinner.  After a solid year in a sorority much of my anxiety swirling around sex dissipated.  I determined I was a decent person “morally,” compared to the other slutty coeds, because I reserved sex solely for relationships (which might have included friends with benefits too).

I picked up my ex-husband in a bar when I was twenty-one.  Three and a half years later we married and sometime in between meeting him and saying “I do,” I fell in love again and brought another guy into the relationship.

It was Jesus.

About a year into the whole Christian dealio, I tried to get on board with the fire and brimstone “purity” message I heard preached at my church –apparently to scare all the singles into behavior modification.  So I tentatively asked my (then) fiancé if we could cease having sex and wait until we were married to resume our intimacy. 

He vehemently said “no,” Ummmm.  Ok.

Ten years later when my ex-husband departed into the arms of another woman and left me with two small children I finally got my chance to try dating as a Christian.

But I don’t know if I was in any way more prepared despite the Christian sticker on my bumper.

Yes…I had given my heart and soul to Jesus.  I knew all the Bible verses, taught women’s Bible studies and was even enrolled in seminary.  And yet I still slipped up in the sex area.

I wanted to honor God.  I earnestly tried HARD in my dating relationships to avoid sex.  And it worked –once.  I was in one relationship where we were both committed to purity and didn’t compromise (and then I found out he was still “technically” married and that ended fast).  But the other five relationships, during my time as a single Christian woman were a little murkier.  We might not have had intercourse, but then again President Clinton redefined modern sex anyway, right?

When I met Tim Keller, now my darling hubby, I was living in this wishy-washy land of sexual compromise.  I wanted to be pure but I’m not sure I believed it was even possible.  I didn’t meet many men, even supposed good Christian men, who actually walked the talk. 

Pastor Tim Keller was an anomaly –an attractive single straight man of thirty-six years who didn’t grab my boobs on the second date.  And even though he wasn’t wealthy from a worldly perspective, usually a non-negotiable in my materialistic heart, he was hot, clearly loved Jesus and had CHARACTER (something lacking in most of the men I dated).

When Tim asked me to be his girlfriend, about five weeks after we started dating, he slipped a purity ring on my finger and fell to one knee.  He implored me, “to wait for him, to wait for God to bless our relationship, and to give “us” a chance to build true intimacy without sex complicating things.”

It sounded like a lot of waiting and I’m not that patient.

And so I freaked out (internally of course) and smiled and cried tears of sheer terror, thinking “How in the heck am I going to remain sexually pure when this man is so yummy?”

Tim also told me he had a zero tolerance policy for error.  If we messed this up: (A) he would not marry me, and (B) he would resign from the church for moral failure.

Now I didn’t want the poor man to lose his job, but dangling the condition of “sex=no wedding” really sealed the deal.   I was head over heels in love with Tim by then and I wanted to marry this man so bad I would wear a habit and chastity belt with a big lock impervious to his washboard abs if I had to.

But something drastic happened to me during our fifteen month courtship.  Something so radical it rocked me to the core.

First, I became aware of how often I pushed to be physical because I needed reassurance that Tim cared for me and was committed to the relationship.  I saw how I used my sexuality to manipulate, to hold power over and to get the attention I desperately craved.

Without sex I had to learn how to ask for what I needed.  I was able to see how Tim treated me even when I didn’t meet all his physical needs, what it meant to work out our problems with no “make-up sex” to gloss over the deeper issues, and I had to learn how to compromise –because I couldn’t hold out on the booty to get what I wanted.

Poor Tim!  I tempted him in the beginning.  I was so bad.  I wore a pink string bikini to a singles ski retreat we both attended and had the audacity to rock it at the hot tub –heathen temptress that I am.  But he held fast, kept his hands to himself and didn’t get out of the Jacuzzi for a very long time.

And slowly I realized by his not being physical, he was actually showing me he loved me.

Real love.  Not SEX/LOVE…the kind of love that holds your hand when you are losing the fight to cancer.   It’s love that sees beauty under the wrinkles and bald spots. It’s love that protects and heals and cherishes.  It’s the sort of love that doesn’t leave when it gets tough and its old people in the park holding hands kind of love.

And Tim was telling me by his behavior I was worth waiting for.  With every smile he told me I was a beautiful treasure and he would not steal from me until it was time to enjoy this gift from God –within a committed marriage relationship.

And somewhere along the way I started to buy into it.  (Not so easy when you have abandonment issues) And I saw, really saw, for the first time in my life the way God sees me.

Valuable.  Treasured.  Worth dying for.

And I believed it –because someone showed me a glimpse of the divine.

Purity isn’t just about being a good Christian and playing by the rules.  It’s about treating another human being with dignity and respect, even when they don’t deserve it.

Purity restored me. 

I am a different person because of my husband. Tim Keller walked the talk. 

And maybe God tells us to wait for sex not because he’s mean, but because he loves us more than we love ourselves.

Sounds like a compelling reason to me.

How Far is too Far?

When I tell people how long my engagement was –a mere four and a half months, they look surprised.

“Well we waited,” I stammer trying to explain.

“Oh, so you dated for many years and then you finally tied the knot?”

“Uuuhhh, no…we dated for fifteen months and WAITED to have sex.”

“What? Why? Are you Mormon?”

“No.”

Blank stare.

And so I explain why we chose purity and a bit of our story (see “Is Purity Relevant Today” for an explanation).  But then the inevitable happens.  The sex questions start.

“Ok, so I get the beautiful romance part.  You guys have this awesome God love, but how did you know the sex part wouldn’t suck? “

And I know what they are really saying is… “What if he can’t perform?  He could be a secret eunuch, or have erectile dysfunction, or be weird, or a thousand other awfuls.  And how would a silly little pure girl know?”  Smart girls apparently try the meat before they buy the bull.

Big gulp.  “I knew his parts worked because for fifteen months he lived in a constant state of anticipation.  No amount of denim can hide that.  When he kissed me goodnight I could tell the man had finesse.  When he cuddled me I knew he was tender. And when I looked into his eyes I saw raw desire -a caged lion waiting to be unleashed on our honeymoon night.

“But how far did you go?  Where did you draw the line?”

When people ask me this I want to weep.  Because it means there is a fundamental disconnect between their belief in God and BELIEVING God.  And I know the difference because I walked down this road too many times.

Here is what I discovered…If I BELIEVE God, I trust that waiting for the booty will be awesome.  I trust He loves me more than I love myself.  I trust He has a chosen a man and/or woman who will delight me.  And ultimately I trust if I follow his guidance I won’t be unsatisfied.

If I believe in God but make up my own rules I am operating under selfish tendencies.  I take because I feel entitled.  I corrupt because God is withholding.  I use sex to get my needs met-attention, power, control, release, and manipulation.  Sex becomes an act. 

When I remove God, who is love, out of the mix I remove real love from sex.  You might love sex.  You might even feel loving towards the person you are sleeping with.  But let’s be honest here…real love is patient, it is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking.  It does not rejoice in evil, it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. (From 1 Cor. 13)

When was the last time your hook-up encapsulated any one of these?

Real love doesn’t leave you wondering if the guy is going to jump out of bed in the morning and bail before you smell the Folgers.  Real love showers your front door with rose petals on Valentine’s Day instead of a text at 4:00pm saying “Happy Heart Day.”  Real love doesn’t push for a blow job because it’s technically not intercourse.  And real love doesn’t leave a girl in the dark wondering how he feels about her. 

I wasn’t disappointed on my wedding night (don’t want to boast here).  But even if there were issues, I am confidant my husband would have been open with me.  Love does not deceive.  So when I hear about people who played by all the rules and waited for sex and then had problems, I have to ask if maybe they substituted rules instead of relationship: if authenticity and vulnerability were masked by a fear of being known?  The idea of naked and unashamed is not merely sexual -it includes full disclosure.

Purity is about love.  About treating someone the way you want to be treated -with honor and respect.  It’s not about how far you can bend the rules.  That’s just a warped form of legalism. 

How far did Tim and I go?  We kissed.  We necked like high school kids at a Drive In theatre and there were too many nights to count when Tim actually got up to run to the restroom and called me from his car ten minutes later.  Like Joseph he fled from temptation, even though half the time I didn’t even know he was struggling.  He also had a group of guys holding him accountable.

But everyone’s limits are different.  If you can’t kiss a girl without ripping off her clothes then don’t kiss her.  Give her a peck on the check.  If holding hands makes you crazy…well then you might need some professional help.  And if you tell me you can go really far without any issues, you’ve missed the point entirely.  (Re-read 1 Cor. 13). 

Waiting might look different to each individual and/or couple but purity is the same. It’s not about how far is too far -it’s about choosing to BELIEVE God has got your back and marriage is well worth the wait!

Two Different Worlds

TwoDifferentWorlds_lightbox

Tim and I attend an inordinate amount of weddings –mainly because my hubby is a wedding pastor and teaches a pre-marital class. (And I would suggest because he is brilliant, hot and won’t mess up their pictures)

At one of our recent festivities we were seated at the “reserved” family table and enjoying dinner when one of the groomsmen brought over the family housekeeper and invited her to sit in an empty seat next to him. While the sweet housekeeper appeared flustered and awkward because she wasn’t dressed up, she did agree to join us and jumped up to grab the waiter for a plate.

As soon as the housekeeper walked over to the bar, the groomsmen quietly explained to our table that the housekeeper was sitting inside all alone and he wanted to include her because she was a part of the family. We all nodded and agreed it was a fabulous idea, except for his mother.

“She’s not invited son. She’s the help. I didn’t pay for her to eat with us,” the mother exclaimed in a loud and shrill voice.

I shrunk down in my chair in mortification.

Her son boldly stared his mother down. “It’s too late. I’ve invited her. Deal with it.”

The mother scowled and turned away. But a few minutes later she was back to telling us how involved she was at her church and yada, yada, yada…

And then I vomited in my mouth a little.

Because the damage of her remark lingered and it made me wonder how she viewed me –was I the lowly help too.

As the pastor’s wife, I wasn’t really an invited guest.

I looked down at the ground and chewed on my thoughts.

Do I judge like that? Do I discount people because of occupation or status?

While I hope not, I will fess up to feeling uncomfortable at Knott’s berry Farm the other day. I felt very fair-skinned and un-inked in a land of gang-type attire and attitude. I even saw toddlers with tattoos. I had to work hard to smile big and not retreat in fear.

And while nothing in me made me feel better or set apart, I did feel different and I know in awkward situations it’s easier to push away then lean in and embrace.

But as Christians that’s exactly what we need to do. We must stop trying to LOOK spiritual and BE spirit lead. We need to not only love our servants, we need to be servants. We are commanded to love our neighbor –even when they have unsupervised kids who randomly show up and stay too late, even when they party every Friday and Saturday night until 3:00am right outside your bedroom window, and even when they cuss you out on Social Media for a misunderstanding.

We need to embrace the uncomfortable.

So, although I didn’t confront the woman at the party because we don’t have that type of relationship, I wish I could have grabbed a cup of coffee with her and held her hand and looked her in the eyes and said…

I know this isn’t easy. I won’t pretend you will feel comfortable but let’s risk together.

Why don’t we invite the down-trodden in our life to the party? Let’s make room at our table for the poor and the quirky and the Mexican woman who has loved your kids and vacuumed up the dust-bunnies and scrubbed the stains out of your shirt. Let’s bless and love and love some more, even when it’s hard and even when people will raise their eyebrows.

–Sam

Formal Drama

It’s been a week of ‘formal drama” –Winter Formal to be exact.

My freshman son asked a girl to the dance.  This isn’t a big deal normally, but the girl he asked is kind of a big deal.  She is a gorgeous professional surfer and model currently living in Hawaii. 

Clearly my boy has no problem aiming high with the ladies.

Kyle asked her through Facebook and amazingly the blond beauty said yes.

Until she said no.

Her dad, also a professional surfer decided to add a competition on the day of the dance and therefore delay their families return.  The mom (did I mention she is a model too?) did not want the family flying apart and so the hopes of my boy were crushed.

The girl texted him to let him know she wouldn’t make it.

In the back of my mind I always doubted this date would occur.  When I look at the Facebook photos for their family I see stunning celebrities partying on the beach and living the high life.

I struggle to understand how THAT life intersects with ours. 

Pastors and Pro Tour Surfers?  Sounds a bit complicated…

In our “Catholic school reality” we have STRICT dress codes for dances.  No cleavage, no short dresses and no skin allowed.  From what I’ve seen of her skimpy wardrobe and itty bitty bikini’s, I’m guessing this girl doesn’t own a dress that would get past our Nuns.

Now I can understand why my son would want the golden girl to accompany him. 

But I can’t understand why the super awesome family wouldn’t rearrange their entire life so my darling son could take their daughter to the dance. (Yes…this is me being sarcastic)

Kyle took it well, but I was bummed. I might have even cried a little when no one looked. 

But because my son is a fighter, he got right back up in the saddle and asked another beauty to accompany him.

And this one said yes!

Not only did she say yes, she filled out the permission form within twelve hours and had her principal sign it.  She and her mom hand delivered it to my son’s school, bought a dress and ordered a corsage within a day.

I love this girl! 

This lovely young lady attends Santa Margarita, another Catholic high school in the area.   And…I didn’t even have to explain the stringent dress code.  She already got in trouble at another dance so she knows the routine.

Although Kyle’s initial dream date didn’t work out, I’m proud of the way he handled his disappointment. 

And who knows?  This one might be the real catch…

Have you had a recent disappointment turn into a blessing in disguise?

One Click at a Time

My post Why Guys aren’t Asking Women Out has created a big buzz.  The comments are pouring in and Ruth Rutherford even blogged about her struggle with some of the male comments in “Oh Henry! There’s Gotta be More.”  In this controversial post I suggested the over-sexualization of our culture (and porn specifically) is one of the biggest contributors to the problem of women not getting asked out.

Some agreed, while others clearly did not.  I was dismissed by a few guys who by their very own comments proved my point that many men in our culture are driven by the sexual images they see.  I was also affirmed for identifying this as a cultural crisis, but my FAVORITE response came in this morning from Brandon. 

I wanted to share this because as a woman I lose credibility by the sheer fact that I don’t have a penis, AND maybe some of you can hear this message better from a man. 

(Although this whole post was done in collaboration with my husband –a male pastor and we deal with this issue on a daily basis in our church, ministry, through counseling and in the relationship seminars we speak at.)

Here is Henry’s comment, which I confess I struggle with a bit.

As a guy I have a very different perspective. I’ve dated a ton of women – more than I care to admit. I don’t think porn is the real problem as to why these girls aren’t getting dates. Any honest Christian single guy will admit he’d much rather marry and sleep with his wife/best friend than settle for porn.  Read more…

Brandon replies…

“Henry is right…men DO want somebody to cuddle up with in front of a Cowboys game, enjoy bedroom life with, and read the Bible with…but that’s about it. The long drivel that makes up the rest of his comment is incredibly shallow, ignorant, and short-sighted.

When I first saw the title, “Why Men Aren’t Asking Women Out”, a little thought popped into my head… “Why men aren’t asking women out? That’s simple. Porn.”

For Henry to dismiss pornography and the general sexualization of our society as one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, contributors to this problem means he has his head in the sand. Recently, I have discovered that multiple men very close to me…older men that I have looked up to, some of which that are in ministry or deacons of churches who have by all accounts healthy, close relationships with the Lord have struggled with pornography recently or in the not so distant past. These are men who have served as my personal heroes and confidants, all of which are in their 40s and 50s, all of which have daughters… And they have all come to me separately in the past year to confess that while they were giving me advice in my struggles…they were struggling with lust and secret sins of their own in a way that boys do now starting as early as elementary or middle school.

If these types of men are struggling with this, it’s undoubtedly even bigger than any of us probably even realize.

Pornography and constant easy access to sexual imagery is re-programming our brains one click at a time and the result will be many men and many women that are single much later into their lives, if not for the rest of their lives as well as many ruined marriages that are entered into without full disclosure of the digital women that the groom brings into the equation from Day 1.

In the spirit of transparency, I have met girls before and thought to myself, “She seems awesome. I would ask her out but [insert physical feature] doesn’t really match up with what I’m into.”

I’ve tried to capture those thoughts and re-train my thinking in these areas but with a world full of men that are more likely driven by lust and fulfilling physical desires with such quick and simple ease rather than being driven by Christ-like motivations, there will undoubtedly be millions of women who will continue to pay the price.

The only thing women can really do is pray and ask the Lord to show them areas that they’re falling short in their relationship with him, which will undoubtedly make them more attractive to the right type of man. Also, continue to pray for your future husband. It’s very likely that he is in a spiritual battle with sin and the enemy that needs your interceding. As for men…there are a lot of difficult choices to be made, but the first of which is to step up, take responsibility, get our heads out of the sand, and start fighting for the wives and the children that God has yet to entrust us with because we’ve been warped by a computer screen.”

Brandon, THANK YOU!  You articulated this beautifully. 

What do you think about Brandon and Henry’s different perspectives?

 

Photo credit: Via pinmarklet

Why Men Aren’t Asking Women Out

Why Aren’t Men Asking Women Out?

Every now and then, a woman will sneak up to me after we speak at an event and with teary eyes choke out, “I’m not very attractive and men don’t ask me out.  Like EVER.”

My heart aches when I see a woman in despair and hopelessness.  They desperately want me to have a fix-it-all answer and I am left stuttering. 

Helping a woman date well is pointless when there are no dates to go on.

I usually respond by going back to God’s word and reassuring them of his ravishing love for them and their true worth and beauty.  But in all honesty, it’s a hard sell when a woman believes she is an ugly duck and no man is willing to fight for her heart and convince her otherwise. 

Ruth Rutherford’s blog –I Kissed my Date Goodnight explores this topic in greater detail.

Although I am weak on answers, my husband and I do have an opinion as to why this scenario is playing out more and more often with single women.

And it’s not because we are JUST an image obsessed culture.  It goes much deeper.

The Problem

The problem is the over-sexualization of our culture. And porn magnifies this.

When men watch beautiful women expose and degrade themselves on a regular basis they begin to subconsciously believe they are entitled to a hot chick that operates in the same fashion in real life. 

But there are a limited number of women who meet this elite criteria.  That leaves the rest of us.

Prior to the first Playboy in mass circulation, it seems as though men were more likely to move towards marriage and relationship.  A below average looking guy would pursue and love a woman who might not meet all of the societal norms of beauty. 

Unfortunately, these days he would rather stay single and settle for his hand and a box of Kleenex.  Real women are complicated and take effort but a fantasy porn woman will bark at his command. 

Porn is cheap and easy.

Many men’s expectations have become so distorted by pornographic images they lose the ability to even be intimate with a woman not digitized on a screen.  As more and more men isolate, real women suffer the consequences and ultimately men do too, although they may not realize it until it’s too late.

The truth is we have an enemy who loves to destroy relationships and porn ruins a man’s ability to engage in healthy dating relationships before he even begins. 

It’s not like this is a new scheme of Satan’s.  Reading throughout the Bible, rampant promiscuity is not fresh to modernity.  It’s just getting more prevalent and widespread with technology.

No Easy Solution

Sadly, there are no any easy or pat answers.  I have a teenage son.  I know all too well it’s a battle men face on a daily basis with an adversary who plays into their weaknesses.

I wish it were different.  But until the day Jesus returns I believe many of us will be left wanting and craving for something more.   

What do you think?

Photo Credit: Via Pinterest

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