Meeting Your Own Criteria

I think it can be safe to say that we all have a certain criteria that we’d like our future spouse to meet.  You pray that he/she is faithful, God-honoring, kind, gentle.  And these are all wonderful characteristics to look for.  But when you put all of that together into the person you would consider "perfect", can you look at yourself and say, "I’m the exact kind of person he/she wants"?

It’s a very humbling and convicting thought.  
And one that I’ve been wondering a lot about lately.  

Am I the kind of person the person I want is looking for?

You want them to love God.  But are you a faithful Christian?
You want them to be loyal.  But are you a loyal person?
You want them to be hard-working.  But do you have a good work ethic and are you goal-oriented?

First of all, remember that there is no such thing as a perfect person.  
Secondly, no matter how much you want to be perfect or "good enough" for the person you want, you can only do so much to cover up your imperfections and hide your mistakes.  You can try to look as good as possible, try to impress people, try to be someone who the person you want would want, but we, as humans, are pretty decent actors.  And if you don’t want your future spouse to be a good actor (a.k.a. liar) to you, then you should be just as brutally honest and transparent as you want them to be with you.  

Oh but I won’t leave you on that borderline depressing, almost heart-aching note.

This world focuses on the outward appearance.  Everywhere we look, the body is glorified, is made more beautiful, is praised.  And yes, here enters the very cliche, overrated line of: But what matters most is what’s in the heart.  This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that we are imperfect, we all have things in our past that we wish we could erase, we have all made mistakes.  But where we are now, who we are now - this is what I want to focus on.

The person God has planned for you is someone who will see you through Christ’s eyes.  And Christ sees you as forgiven and beautiful.  There’s nothing you can ever do to make yourself better.  Jesus already accomplished this.  In His Father’s eyes, you are completely clean. White. Pure. 

"It’s when we see how imperfect we are, that He does the most amazing things in and through us."

You’ll have days that you’ll be super focused on God, feeling good about your spiritual, physical and emotional life, and then whoops! You slip up. You make mistakes. 

You aren’t perfect.  

But neither is your future spouse.  

You’re not the only one who is imperfect.  Your future wife may be wishing she hadn’t said or done that one thing.  Your future husband might be hoping that he’ll never have to face that temptation again.  You’re not alone.  And the love God will give both of you in your union is more than enough to overshadow both of your mistakes.

God is always breaking, healing, stretching and growing us.  If you were perfect, there’d be no more room to grow and learn more about Christ’s love.  And a relationship/marriage is just a bigger step in being taught about Him.  Being in a committed relationship with someone is a process of working together.  Two imperfect people, serving a perfect God, and striving to push each other more towards Him.  

"God uses the most imperfect people to accomplish His perfect will."

You’re focused on your imperfections and how unattractive they are, but God’s grace covers all of them so that even your future spouse will see you for you who are in Jesus - covered in grace and beauty.  "Love covers a multitude of sins."  This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to be more like Christ.  But while we’re doing that, we don’t have to beat ourselves up over our imperfections.  We can - and must - still work towards being a better person, being a better Christian, and being more of the kind of man/woman the person we want wants.  But don’t stress.  
God’s got this taken care of.  
The story has already been written.

6 Reasons I’m Not Answering Your Texts

I always have a reason for not texting someone back.
These are those reasons.  
And yes, they're in order - of most regular occurrence.

1)  I'm busy.
I'm in a moment where I see your text but I legitimately can't stop what I'm doing to answer you.

2)  My phone is on silent and/or died.
I honestly prefer keeping my phone on silent so I don't have to be hearing it going off every few minutes.  Instead, I can just have it on silent and go look at all my notifications when I have the time to.  My phone very rarely dies, but there's also that reason.

3)  I'm sleeping.
And you should be too........ Unless it's one of those rare midday naps I rarely get to partake of.

4)  I don't have time.
If your text is something that I know will trigger a long conversation but I don't have the time to give you the full attention it deserves, then I won't respond at all.

5)  You're annoying
And I honestly have no idea why I gave you my number.

6)  I never gave you my number
And there are clear reasons for that, so why would I encourage you to text me by texting you back?

This Is How You Will Let Them Go

"Getting over" an ex always sounded so harsh to me.  Almost like they were a sickness that you're recovering from.
I like to think of it more in the terms of something you realized wasn't good for you, so the break-up was needed for your own benefit and health - which, by the way, is absolutely okay.

It doesn't make it any easier though.  There are days you'll have to verbally remind yourself that hey, it didn't work out and now it's time to focus on me and my heart.

There will be days that memories will come knocking, yes.  Gravity won't help stop the flow of tears. And everything will blur in a puddle of pain.  There will be days when your heart is physically hurting and you think you're the only person in the world who has felt this sort of agony.
Trust me, it won't be an easy road.  You loved and you lost.  You opened yourself up to something that you thought would last, something beautiful that you thought would bring joy upon joy, but it didn't.
And you're hurting.
And that's okay.

And this is how you will let them go...

1)  Look over all the pictures you took together
This will not only be painful, but it will also be good closure.  You'll remember the good times, the good memories.  And after looking at each picture, click the "delete" button.  Trust me.  It's for the best.  You're letting them go with each one you erase from your phone.  And it's okay.

2)  Listen to the songs that were once "yours".
These songs hold old memories, but now it's time to make new ones with them.  Don't let the past dictate your future.  Cherish the old, but don't be fearful of creating the new.

3)  Travel down memory lane.
Whether mentally or physically.  And yes, it's okay to think about the not so good memories too.

4)  Stare at your phone when they're online and hope they message you first
There will come a time where you'll just have to stop this.  And if deleting and blocking them is what's necessary for this to end, then do it.  Remember: it's over, and it's okay.

5)  Forgive them.
It was a privilege to love them, wasn't it?  But it was also freeing to let them go.  Both choices shaped you into the person you have become and they were both good choices.  Forgiveness is more freeing than holding any sort of resentment against them.  Letting them go by forgiving them.

"I will forgive you for being so perfectly flawed that I see you so perfect for me; damaged and broken...  For what it's worth, I do not regret knowing you at the time I am most vulnerable.  You are a beautiful person whom I met at the wrong time.  Someday, everything will make sense for both of us.  If we cross our paths again, I will look at you with no self-loath; no pain.  I will smile to you and not hate you, I promise.  I will do that because I am better without you; that, we both know."

To Care Too Much

I feel like I care too much sometimes.  

I literally forget all the bad that certain people have done to me and remember only the good things, the good memories, the good times.  I remember all the good talks we had, the fun times, the laughs, the craziness.  And I want that back.  
But not the bad.  
Not the times they lied to my face or manipulated me or made me feel like I was the worst human alive.  I don't want that.  I just want the good.  Because that's all I see in them.  

I literally have to remind myself why I shouldn't go see them or pick up my phone to text or call them.  Or add them back as a friend on Facebook after they deleted me.  I have to be like "No, Raquel, that person hurt you.  They didn't care for you like they should have.  They don't deserve you in their life"...

I miss people so much.  I forgive so easily.  I forget too quickly.

Is this a fault or a folly?  Is this a problem - that I get attached so quickly?  And that once I decide to care for someone, I do everything in my power to please them and make them happy.  

It's never about what I want or how I want them to treat me.  I've been walked on, taken for granted of, manipulated, and yet, I still care for those people.  Is there something wrong with me?  I give people so many chances.  People who don't give me the time of day, people who don't deserve my time or friendship. I know that.  Yet I can't help but care for them.  Once I love someone, I let them into my heart.  And they're there to stay.

I'm sure you've all heard the saying "Don't cross oceans for people who wouldn't cross a puddle for you".  But I'm the opposite.  Do cross oceans for people, I would say!  Love people, all people, every person you come in contact with.  No conditions attached.  No payment required.  Nothing demanded in return.  Don't question whether you think they're worthy of being loved or not, because as a creation of God, they do deserve to be cared for.  Living and loving isn't about what you gain, but about what you can give.

But I have decided that sometimes it's okay to let go. 

Just because I'm letting go doesn't mean I don't care for that person anymore.  You can be separate from someone, some thing and still care for them.  But simply that, for my own sake, for my own well being, it's best to close the door to certain relationships.  Maybe just for now, maybe forever. 
But regardless, you can't control the way they treat you or the way they react to your words.  
You are only in control of yourself.
And being in control of yourself means caring for yourself, and your heart.  So sometimes, it's okay to say goodbye.

Never Stop Hoping

I was thinking today.  (Not a rare occurrence, I assure you.)  
But today, I was specifically thinking about how sad it is to know that after your first love, you will never be the same again.  
You will never view love the same way.  You will never feel for someone the same way.
Because before your first love, your heart existed without being hurt.  You were like a child, young and innocent, enjoying life for all it was worth.  You didn’t know the meaning of the word “pain”.  Everything was perfect in your eyes.  Until the day you were hurt.  And then, it was like a child seeing death for the first time.  
You’ll never view life the same way because you have seen the bad things that can happen, and how people can hurt others.  And after your first love, nothing will be the same because you know what love is, and you know that to love means to allow yourself to be hurt.

Crazy, isn't it?

You also learn something else after your first love, your first heart break, your first encounter with the painful side of loving someone.
You learn that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems, life does go on.  And it takes a day at a time to cry, to love yourself, to move on.  And it takes even more time to allow yourself to begin to hope again.  And you need to allow yourself to hope.  Because without it, this world would be a much darker place.  You can't always live in fear and hopelessness that you're going to keep getting hurt.  I'm not saying that you won't ever experience pain again.  I wish I could promise you that we all feel it just once and then the rest of our lives are perfect.  But that's not the truth.  The truth is, though, that hope is greater than fear.  And hope is the little candlelight against the vast darkness of unknown that will guide you to whatever and whoever God has in store for you.

Most of all, remember that you aren't alone in this struggle.  Many people have been hurt.  In fact, I can safely say, almost everyone has.  Pain is a part of the process of life.  It always will be on this earth.  
But just because it's something you feel, doesn't mean it's something you have to be.  One of the greatest beauties in this world is seeing someone have the strength to rise after being beaten down, to find the beauty in the ashes, the courage to move on, to start fresh.  Be that person.  And don't let a lost love define your future.  Hope for an even better second love.  Or third.  Or fourth.  

Just never stop hoping.

The Number One Question You Should Ask Yourself About the Guy You Really Like

Is he respectful?  Is he considerate?  Is he romantic and wooing?  Does he give you space when you need it?

Sure, these are all great points and questions that you should be able to answer "yes" to, but what is more important than all of those?

As a follower of Christ, my utmost goal in life is to live according to His Word and to glorify God with all I do, say and think.  This does not mean I always achieve that goal.  It's a day to day process of giving up myself, and giving it all over to Him.  This includes anything related to boyfriends, dating, potential-future-husband-material, etc.

We all desire a man who will treat us the way we deserve to be treated.  A man who treats us the best.
Who is the only One who has already done this?
So He should be your highest standard.

Am I the one saying this?  Not exactly.

There are many passages in Scripture in which God says for us to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 11:44, Leviticus 20:7, 1 Peter 1:16).  And if you are called to be holy, and you desire to marry a man who loves the LORD as you do, then the holiness standard should be something you expect from the man you really like.

So what if he's a neat Christian guy?  Don't marry him.  Avoid him like the plague, as Matt Chandler says.  What you're looking for is a man who is directionally headed towards godliness.  He's gonna have weaknesses, and flaws, and he's gonna fail.  A ton.  Because he's human.  As are you.  But if he has a desire to grow into a more Christ-like follower, then that is the kind of man you want.  You're not looking for a perfect man.  You're looking for a man who knows his weaknesses, knows he needs the LORD, and is truly striving to follow Him and be like Him.
And what better man than that to commit to marry and spend the rest of your life with, striving for more of Christ together?

What is the number one question you should ask yourself about the guy you really like?  It's this:

Does he love the LORD our God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength - and is he endeavoring to live his life for His glory alone in all that he does, says and thinks?

Without that mindset, ladies, a relationship with him won't last long.  Why?  Because without God at the center, anything and everything will fail.  And if you can't say "yes" to that question about the guy you really like, then say goodbye to him and move on.  If you're looking for a man who will treat you the best, he won't be it.

In closing, I'd like to share a quote I read one time, written by a guy:
"Ladies, we want to treat you well.  We really do.  You don't have to tell us every 10 minutes how you deserve to be treated.  You go on and on about how you deserve to have the door opened for you, how if your husband doesn't cry when you're walking down the aisle that you're going to walk away, and how your man eater have the abs of Ryan Gosling.  That's a lot of pressure.  Instead of looking for a Disney prince to kiss you in your sleep, how about you look for a man who will love you like Christ loves the Church?"