Once Upon a…Now?

Have you ever felt like there is more? Like this world is lacking something? Like that beautiful sunset has something amazing behind it or that love really was meant to last forever?

I think we are supposed to feel this way. We’re supposed to feel like something is off. Like this world is not really our home. Because it’s not. If you are a follower of Jesus, then this is not your home. Not really.

You may have seen glimpses of it in fairy tales or movies like The Matrix. These stories get us thinking. We step back and think, “Is life really what it seems?” I love the Disney series “Once Upon a Time.” The first season opens with the heroine (who thinks she’s a regular person) getting dragged to a town called Storybrook by a boy who claims he’s her son. As the season unfolds, she and other characters start to “wake up” and realize that they are really characters from fairy tales (Snow White, Prince Charming, Little Red Riding Hood, etc.) who have been trapped in this town in Maine because a witch cast an evil curse. Everyone in the town is a character in a story, but they have been living this boring little life in this small town for years, thinking they are just “regular people.” The characters speak about “magic” and its effects, and good and bad struggle openly in each episode.

“Once Upon a Time” and other stories like this always leave me with a wistfulness similar to nostalgia. Almost like these stories are talking about me.

Actually, don’t think I’m crazy, but…I believe they are. Fairy tales and other world adventures are more than mere reflections of reality. They are pointing to the real story.

Recently I stumbled across a verse in Philippians that made me catch my breath. In chapter one, verse 27 it says, “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven…”

Citizens of Heaven. That’s it.

We are also characters from an amazing story, stuck temporarily in a place that is not our home. We are “citizens of heaven” living here in this decaying, evil world. This is not the end of the story. We are more important and more eternal than we realize. We are stuff of story books. We are princes and queens and heroes. We just live in a place where our identities get confused and our powers are not apparent.

So, how do I live now that I realize my citizenship is really there? I’m just passing through this place. These heartaches and temptations and disappointments and migraines are not the real story. There is more. There is an adventure grander than any I could imagine. It is coming after this life is over. It will make all the pain and loneliness here worth it. It will complete all the hopes and dreams that started in my little girl brain years ago.

So,…dream…gaze at the sunset…love with your whole heart. It will all be resolved. It will all be healed. And the ending is happier than you could ever imagine.

Love, Lauren

Of Husbands and Kings

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you’d be willing to put up with anything if you could have it?

I have. And apparently some people in the Bible have too. It didn’t go well for either of us.

I recently read a story in the book of 1 Samuel that the original Jews of Israel (“God’s chosen people”) were tired of just following God and some old prophet. They wanted a king for their people. Apparently all the other countries around them had kings. It was the trendy thing to have, I guess.

Well God said no. Then the people asked again. And then begged. Then pleaded. Finally, after many warnings about the problems and the bondage a king would cause them, God gave in. He gave them a king—they asked for this supposedly tall and super handsome guy named Saul—and…guess what? God was right. It was misery. The king took stuff from them, made their children work for him for little pay, and just generally made them feel not-free.

I can’t roll my eyes at these ancient people’s stupidity in this story. I’m just like them. I have so often forfeited God’s best for me so that I could get what I wanted. It has never worked out well. Probably the worst impatient mistakes I’ve made have had to do with men and relationships.

As I read about the people begging for a king the other day, I realized that had been me. Years ago I asked God for a husband. He didn’t deliver in my desired timing, so I begged and manipulated until I got what I thought I wanted. Within a couple months I realized I had gotten what I thought I wanted, but it was not what I had hoped for. It turned out my husband was an alcoholic and drug addict who had a love of going out with the guys and chatting up women who were not his wife.

I ended up in misery and captivity like the people of Israel. I spent several years trying to make it work, but the drugs and lies tore down any chance for fixing the marriage.

We tend to think we know what’s best for us. Sometimes we’d “sell our souls” to get it. But God knows best. His will is the best plan. Every time.

Psalm 84:10-12 tells how God’s plan for us is better than anything else. Verse 10 says being in God’s presence is better than anywhere else. In verse 12 it says God never holds back good things from those who truly follow him.

Psalm 84:10-12

A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else!…For the Lord is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right…What joy for those who trust in You!”

God knows what I need, and every time I stray from his way I regret it. (For examples read my earliest blog posts that tell about my marriage mistakes.) I will leave you with a song that my dear Irish friend used to sing with her flute and her lovely accent:

Jesus, all for Jesus;

All I am and have and ever hope to be;

Jesus, all for Jesus;

All I am and have and ever hope to be.

For it’s only in your will that I am free;

For it’s only in your will that I am free…”

(Author unknown)

3 Things We Christians Tend to Get Wrong

I received a call from a relative today who was hurt by another family member over an issue that had erupted into a larger problem because of gossip. On top of that, a cousin, who lives an alternative lifestyle, is coming in town for the holidays and fears being judged by our very churchy family.

The hurt and the gossip and the judging made me really sad. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, shouldn’t our family be one of the most loving families around?

This got me thinking and hunting in my Bible. Jesus came to shake up the planet. His time on this earth in human skin was not full of Sunday school and trips to Disneyland. It was a challenge! He brought a whole new controversial way of thinking and loving and living.

Why do we modern Christians not live more like that?

Something is wrong.

This thinking compelled me to write down some things we, the “holy huddle”, are really getting wrong. (Please note that I am guilty of many of these things myself.)

1. Being Judges. When Jesus was asked, “What is the most important commandment?” He replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…and Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31). And in John 13:35, Jesus tells us that our love for others should be our trademark as Christians.

We Christ-followers should be the people most known for loving others. When people mention Christians, it should be followed by comments like “They are the nicest people I’ve ever met!” Or “They are the best people to do business with!”

But instead we are often known for judgmental comments on social media or for going to church on Sunday but acting like everyone else on Friday night. In my opinion the two areas Christians do the worst in are in political discussions and interacting with people who live alternative lifestyles.

In political discussions things can get heated quickly, and Christ followers should be the peacemakers. However, we are often the ones angrily expressing our views in all caps. We forget that God is not Democrat or Republican. He is not on the side of any political party or candidate. He is Lord over all governments and leaders and He is ultimately in control. If we realize that and trust that God holds the future, we will not be so fear-driven and unloving as we express our opinions. We also need to remember that God tells us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), so these differences should be another chance to show kindness and patience.

As far as interacting with people of alternative lifestyles, this should be where we Christians represent Christ the most. However, the LGBTQ community is probably one of the groups that feels the most unloved by Christians. Jesus spent time with the people who didn’t fit into society. The religious leaders accused Him of being a “sinner” and a “drunkard” (Luke 7:34) because Jesus spent time with the “outcasts” of the religious world. We Christians should not be any different. We should be a safe place for people who feel rejected and confused. We should show love to all people, even those who live in a way we wouldn’t always agree with. The church should be a location of love and acceptance. Who knows? Our kindness and friendship could be the way someone finds a relationship with Christ!

2. Being too Comfy. We Christians are way too comfortable in the U.S. Our lives are very different from the lives of Christians in many other countries, as well as from the lives of Christians in the first Century. Those Christians were persecuted, yet they continued in their faith. They wouldn’t give up, and many of them died because they truly lived for what they believed. Many Christians today don’t even want anyone to know they’re a Christian.

Another problem we Western Christians have is that our lives are too easy. We are spoiled. Even the ones of us that struggle with money the most are still doing better than those in developing countries. When I was a single mom years ago, we temporarily lived on food stamps, and I struggled desperately to pay bills. However, I was still better off than many families in other countries. My kids and I never went without food, heat, water, or clothes. We Christians in America have become too comfortable. We have most of what we really need, and we don’t often have to ask God for miracles. Consequently, we’re pretty content to live lives of convenience and materialism. We buy ourselves the latest technology and don’t bat an eyelid at spending $5 on a cup of coffee. If we want something we can order it online at the touch of a button. If we’re hot we turn on the air conditioning. Hungry? Call Uber Eats and have it delivered. Our lives are centered on our comfort. Ease and convenience have become our goals. Yet God rarely works through convenience. He often shakes us up and asks us to step out of our comfort zones. If we are committed to convenience we are not available to do whatever God asks us to do at a moment’s notice. Also, if we are too comfortable we will be lulled to complacency and our faith will grow weak.

3. Being Hypocritical. Not only did Jesus say that we are to be known by our love, but Christians are to be different from the rest of the world. He said we should be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5), meaning our loving contrast from the world should point people to God.

Unfortunately, we Christians are not that different from the rest of the culture. We often live the same way as everyone else: watch the same tv shows, wear the same clothes, and use the same words. Now I’m not advocating hiding away, wearing long robes or throwing out our iPhones. But there should be a difference. This world is not our home. We should not be too comfortable here on earth. The Bible says we Christians are like strangers to this world and we shouldn’t participate in the sin around us (1 Peter 2:11). We should still be loving friends and neighbors, but we should stand out as different. Not perfect, but different.

I should point out here that every human being is a hypocrite. We all, at some point in our lives, say we believe one thing but live the contrary. Every human goes against their own personal goals at some point (for instance: How long do New Year’s resolutions last?). One problem Christians face is that, since we are still sinners that need Jesus and His forgiveness daily, we mess up a lot. Those mistakes can result in us being called “hypocrites.” I would encourage any brothers or sisters in Christ, if you are tagged a hypocrite, don’t become defensive. Acknowledge your need for Jesus, search your heart, ask for forgiveness if necessary, and show love to your accuser. Let this be a chance to show how imperfect Christians are and how Christ uses broken vessels like us (2 Corinthians 4:7).

In conclusion, we followers of Jesus have much to learn. We are constantly growing and failing, getting back up and repeating it all again. The hope is that we let God change us and we grow to be more like Him over time. One of my favorite passages is 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, where it says God can actually use me more when I’m weak and willing to let Him work in me. When we let Him live in us and use us, we connect ourselves to a channel of love more powerful than anything else in this world. Fellow believers, let Him change you. Let Him use you. Let’s let Him fill our hearts with His love so that we will get out of our comfort zones and live lives that are full of salt and light!

Thanks for reading.

Your imperfect sister in Christ, Lauren

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9-10

Do you really know how to love?

If someone asked you to make a list of the people who you really, truly love, how many names would you come up with?

Ok, now answer this question: How many of those people would you still love if they betrayed you? Or hurt someone you loved? Or caused you to lose your job? How many of them would you still love if they publicly rejected you? If they tried to turn everyone against you? If they became absolutely unlovable?

Most people would take a few names off the list. Some might even throw the whole list away. Not many people would continue to show love to someone who hurt them like that. It wouldn’t seem logical to consider those people worthy of our time.

Most people have a maximum amount of abuse they will take before considering the other person unlovable. The average human would feel it’s more than reasonable to turn their back on someone once they’ve reached this point. I admit I sometimes feel completely justified in treating these people less kindly, or at least giving them the cold shoulder. Most of us definitely wouldn’t go out of our way to be nice to them. Nobody would look down on us for defriending them on Facebook or even for telling everyone how much they hurt us.

Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about how God views things so differently. When my husband really hurts my feelings, I want to ignore him all day. (Not that chill type of ignoring; more like the really obvious, slamming doors kind of ignoring!) During our worst fights I’ve even struggled with wanting to take the kids and leave.

But God has been teaching me something lately about love. I’m not really living his love until I’m loving the unlovable.* It’s easy to love people who are nice to you and cute little babies (except when they wake you up at 4 am). Jesus loved beyond our earthly, shallow love. He loved us at our worst, and his love was action, not just words.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Jesus Christ didn’t tell us to get our crap together and maybe after we were living like “good Christians” He’d consider sacrificing for us. He gave His life for us without strings attached. He knew all the bad things you and I would do in our lives (cuz He’s God, He knows everything!) and He still made that choice. That’s love.

In his book, Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt, Jentezen Franklin writes, “You have to love like you’ve never been hurt. You have to refuse to be bitter. You have to refuse to get angry. You have to refuse to get even. When you love in this way, God will raise you up and use even the worst that has been done to you for His glory.”

This is real love. Love that chooses to be kind, forgive, serve, stay married, show up, etc. Even when that person doesn’t deserve it. Especially if that person doesn’t deserve it.

So I’ve realized that before now I wasn’t really loving my husband. I was only showing love when I thought he deserved it. God wants to transform our marriage and use it to bring joy to us and others. In order for that to happen I’ve got to love like Jesus. He’s the one who taught me how to really love.

*(Note: I’m not saying you should endure abuse. There are times you have to love people from a safe space and pray they get help they need. If you are in a relationship where you are afraid of what someone will do next—physically or mentally—get out, get to a safe place, and find some safe people! I’ve been there before, and God does not want you staying in danger like that.)

The Opposite of Facebook

In 2007 I discovered this amazing website on the internet where you could reconnect with old friends and post pictures of your life. It was a brand new concept. Right in front of me were pictures of my childhood best friend’s daughter and posts from my friend in Japan. And, oh, how great it felt to get likes on my pictures! This became a whole new obsession.

I have reconnected with so many old friends through Facebook, and sometimes it really makes me feel like I have community around me. Likes, congratulations, and birthday wishes are just some of the confidence boosters it gives. Scientists have even said that positive social media interactions can set off “feel good” chemicals in the brain. It’s like a screen high!

Facebook is also a great place to be in a community without having to even put on a bra. Just open up a screen and there’s friends and family at your fingertips. And now lots of other social media sites have sprung up to connect us to the world from our sofas at home.

The problem, however, is that Facebook has become the bragging ground that we build our self esteem upon. The place to show off all the pretty and none of the ugly. I get it. I’m not usually gonna tell my darkest secrets or my biggest failures on Facebook. It’s the place where I put the good selfies and the pics of the times my kids did something right. Facebook and other social media sites see me at my best.

“The problem, however, is that Facebook has become the bragging ground that we build our self esteem upon.”

And that’s the problem. Everyone’s doing it. Everyone’s putting on their best face for everyone else. It’s like the girl who wears the fake eyelashes and the push up bra, and then you see her in sweats and no makeup at Walmart and you don’t recognize her. (Not judging. Can totally relate.)

We are all bragging to each other like a daily photo resume. We’re promoting ourselves: just the good, no bad. We are trying to look as pretty as that girl from high school or as happy as the cousin we always envied. But it’s not healthy. It’s not real. It’s not really us.

It’s the opposite of how the Bible teaches us to live. Jeremiah 9:23-24 says:

“Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.”

Jesus is the only thing I can brag on. He’s the only part of me that should make me feel confident. His name should lift me up more than all the likes on the best selfie I’ve ever taken.

God’s view of life is so opposite of ours. We tend to value appearances. He values the heart. We value success. He values compassion. We feel good when everyone likes us. God wants us to look to Him for approval because His likes are all that matter.

Social media is great, but we need to constantly ask ourselves, “Am I living for His likes or the likes of the world?”

Thanks for reading. Oh, and don’t forget to like my post! 😉

Little Tastes of Heaven

I took my sweet little kindergartener to see Aladdin tonight. It was great, and she squealed with excitement throughout half the movie.

As we watched Aladdin and Jasmine soar through the sky on a magic carpet, I recalled watching the animated Aladdin movie with my little sister in the 90’s.

Back then, as a teenager, I was so full of hope and excitement about how my life would turn out, whom I would marry, where I would live. I had watched the romantic scenes, thinking that once I found the “right” man, life would be a constant romantic high. I was sure my future husband would always see me as beautiful and we would love each other eternally.

Now I know different.

Romance comes with a high at first, but, like a high from a drug, the thrill is short. These little highs of romance remind me of eating dessert. Think about a time when you really really wanted chocolate cake–maybe you were on a diet or trying to eat healthy, but you seriously craved chocolate. When you tasted the first few bites it was amazing, but with each bite you could taste it less and less. At the end of the binge you’re left with nothing but regret, which tastes worse than anything.

That’s how romance is. It draws you in, promising a thrill that probably beats the high of winning the lottery. But that exciting feeling doesn’t last. You might feel little sparks of it at times, but–just like the piece of chocolate cake–it doesn’t last long.

So many things in life are fleeting like that.

Every time I go on vacation I spend months planning for it and dreaming of smelling the sea breeze, but when we get there it seems to go too quickly and it’s not as exciting as last time. It seems like it’s over in a flash, and I don’t realize how much fun I had until I’m back home!

It’s like that with my kids. I have little moments now and then where I feel this echo of eternity. I’m lying on the sofa with a toddler asleep beside me, or I’m riding along in the car laughing hysterically with my teenage daughter, who has decided she actually likes me today.

I think, “I wish this moment could last forever!” And I feel like it should for some reason, but it doesn’t. The toddler wakes up and throws a fit, or the teenager retreats back into her glares when I remind her of her chores.

These moments, like romance, are fleeting.

I do still have romantic moments. Sometimes my husband caresses my hand in church or we dance and gaze into each other’s eyes at a wedding. But most of real life is not like a magic carpet ride. It’s every day, plain, difficult, boring, and maybe even pleasant sometimes.

When I taught high school I used to tell my students, “Everyone seems to think that life is like your favorite TV show, with some bad commercials thrown in once in awhile. The fun parts are the show and the hard times are the commercial breaks. But actually, the hard times of life are the show part–the longer segments–and the fun (and romantic) parts of life are the three minute commercial breaks.” It sounds depressing maybe, but it’s true.

The carpet rides are the exceptions.

I say all this because I’ve accepted that this world is not my home. As Christians we are not supposed to get too comfortable here. We are only passing through.

Therefore, I can accept that this world is not going to satisfy me. I will not find lasting happiness, fun, romance, or perfect hair. Nothing lasts on this earth, and nothing here completely fulfills our souls.

The only complete happiness will come in heaven. And until we are there we will feel incomplete. We will long for a longer kiss or another taste or more time with our kids.

C.S. Lewis wrote that we long for heaven, because that’s what we were made for. The reason it feels like those beautiful moments should last forever is that they should. And they will. Eventually. God gave us these desires and has even allowed us to live in this world of temporary pleasures so that we will long for home and for Him.

These teasers are getting us ready for the best place we’ve ever lived and teaching us to crave Him and His help to make it in this world.

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 27:4 which says:

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

The Lord is beautiful and being in His presence is like all the Christmases and birthdays we’ve ever had. No chocolate cake or romantic stroll compares.*

So next time you watch a romantic movie and sigh and think, “Why isn’t my life like that?” Remember that you were made for more. You will have that happy ending one day, but right now all we get is little tastes of Heaven.

*(Note: This is if you’ve got a relationship with Jesus. If you have questions about that, feel free to email me at thesearch4happilyeverafter@gmail.com.)

Are You Too Comfortable?

What? Too comfortable?

How could anyone be too comfortable? you might ask. And why would that be a bad thing?

It does sound like a contradiction, like “too rich” or “too happy.” But being too comfortable can actually be bad for us humans, especially us Christians.

How could it be bad? you ask. Well, let me explain…

I listened to a pastor today who was talking about something totally different than this topic. But, one thing he said stood out to me. He said,

“Hell is the absence of the presence of God.”

I had heard that before, but this time it got me thinking. I was sitting next to some teenagers who were looking bored and trying to sneak peaks at their phones without getting in trouble. I realized that most of us Americans are too comfortable with life to even think that the “absence of the presence of God” sounds that bad.

Pastor Gaines said, “What could be worse [than the absence of God’s presence]?” The problem is that most people nowadays don’t care. They could care less about God’s presence, unless God is in his gift-granting mode, handing out dreams-come-true.

The problem is that we do not find the presence of God to be desirable. We have forgotten how amazing and beautiful He is.

Why? Because we are too comfortable with this life on earth. Life is so easy and convenient now that we think we have no need for God. We have so much food that we throw tons away or we gorge ourselves and end up with health problems. We have so many conveniences, we barely have to do any work. We live in a culture of excess; almost every house in this country has at least one tv, a computer, and multiple cell phones. (I even saw a homeless woman on the side of the road last week checking her smartphone next to her “Hungry and Homeless” sign.)

Besides the excess, we live in a country that, although it’s not perfect, gives us more freedom than any other country on earth. We also live in a time of relative peace. (If you don’t think so, go research life in Afghanistan, North Korea, or Palestine; we have so many rights we take for granted.)

One of the biggest obstacles is that we have so many ways to escape our problems. We not only have alcohol, drugs, and anti-depression meds, we have tons of ways to zone out and not think about life. There’s cell phones, Netflix, YouTube, iTunes, magazines, video games, Snapchat…the list goes on and on.

Another distraction from God is our obsession with being busy. Life in Western culture moves so fast. We often keep ourselves as busy as possible so we don’t have to stop and think. Busyness makes us feel important and that we’re not alone.

The truth is that the presence of God tops all of these things.

Think of the most beautiful sunset you’ve seen. The prettiest flower. The most spectacular starry night. That’s what the presence of God is like.

In the book of Psalms it says:

“How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

Psalm‬ ‭84:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The writer knew that God’s presence is the most beautiful, amazing, loving place in the world.

True, if you’re not right with Him, the presence of God is a scary place. He does hate sin. He will judge us all one day. But if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, you are clean and forgiven. You have nothing to fear.

The presence of God is Heaven. The absence of God is Hell. Knowing this, how should we live?

Now I ask you again: Are you too comfortable?

I Dare You to Taste it!

Ok, you ask, what on earth are you talking about in your search-for-happy-princess-feelings-blog? This title doesn’t seem to fit!

Oh, but it does. I want to challenge you.

Here’s the challenge. The Bible says,

Taste and see that the Lord is good!” Psalm 34:8

The Bible–one of the oldest documents of all time and the source of the Christian belief system–is challenging you! It’s challenging you to try God out. Its saying that God will bring you joy!

Try him out. Test him.

I know, that sounds weird. Or sacrilegious. Or both.

But it’s for real. God is good, and if you seek him and search for him and get into the Bible, he will show you more goodness than you can imagine!

No, your life won’t be perfect. And, no, it doesn’t mean you’ll have no more pain or sadness.

But if you get to know Jesus you will find a goodness and a peace that fills you to the brim.

Just try it. Taste His goodness. He won’t disappoint you.

👉🏼 Note: if you have any questions or want to know how to know Jesus like this or where to read in the Bible (or if you just need a Bible) email me at:

thesearch4happilyeverafter@gmail.com

💗 Lauren

Perfectly Imperfect

I’m tired…aren’t you

Tired of trying so hard.

Tired of trying to do it all. And trying to do it perfectly.

There is so much pressure on women today. Pressure to be the perfect mom, to have the perfect body, to eat organic, to perform well at work, to keep our husbands happy, to entertain our kids, to finally get the clothes out of the hamper, to clean the house, to drive kids to practice, to get to the gym more than once a week…

The list is endless! We can’t do it all.

Do you feel this too?

The pressure to do all these things and do them well enough to please everyone–and look good on Instagram!

Our culture puts so much pressure on us. We are exhausted and overwhelmed most of the time. I don’t think this is how God meant our lives to go.

I just want to be free. To breathe. To not have to perform. And to not have to be perfect.

Do you know what I mean?

I grew up with a perfectionist father. He was constantly pointing out what I did wrong. Even little details. I don’t think he meant it to hurt me; it was maybe just his way to help me become better. But the result was that I became anxious and fearful of making a mistake. I strived for perfection in every area of my life. It was exhausting.

Perfectionism is like that. Exhausting.

Do you know why?

Because it’s impossible.

Perfection is impossible this side of heaven.

So this crazy push for perfectionism–to be that perfect “does it all” woman–it’s just that: crazy.

And it will drive you insane. And it will fill you with anxiety. And it will steal your peace and joy.

Perfectionism is a form of pride. It seeks its own glory. But the Bible tells us we should do everything for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31).

Perfectionism gets me caught up in comparing myself with others and becoming too focused on how I look. In 1 Samuel 16:17 it says that God looks at the heart of a person, not the outside. And in Philippians 3 we learn to be content with what we have and who we are.

Perfectionism leads to shame when we feel like we don’t measure up. But God tells us we are forgiven and clean if we have trusted Jesus as our Savior.

Perfectionism looks at me and what I do or don’t do. God wants me to look at Him.

“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”‭‭Psalm‬ ‭34:5.‬ ‭

Look at Him, friend.

Stop looking at Instagram and Facebook and the Kardashians. Look at Jesus.

You can breathe. You are free. Rest. Relax.

You don’t have to do it all. And you especially don’t have to be perfect.

In 2 Corinthians chapter 12 it says that God is strong when we are weak. You have his strength to lean on. He made you. He loves you. You and I are not perfect. But we are growing and learning and living in His strength.

We are perfectly imperfect.

 

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Easter is for Women

Easter is one of the most sacred days of the Christian calendar. It commemorates the day that Jesus came back to life. The Romans, with the assistance of corrupt Jewish leaders at the time, had put him to death in one of the most gruesome ways possible: a Roman cross.

Two days pass. Many mourn. Some smile smugly. Roman soldiers guard the tomb.

Jesus’ followers are hiding. Even though He had told them he would be raised from death to life on the third day, they have forgotten. They are wallowing in fear and self-pity.

Except the women.

The women of the group came to the tomb that Easter morning to put the first century version of essential oils on His body. They are not wallowing in pity, they have come to honor their Lord.

The women find that the stone covering the entrance has been moved. They are told by an Angel that Jesus has risen and they excitedly head off to tell others. Jesus suddenly appears to them and tells them “Do not fear” and to “Go tell the others.” (Matthew 28)

In the book of John there’s an account of one of the women in Jesus’ group named Mary Magdalene. She had come to the tomb by herself and was upset, thinking the officials had done something to Jesus’ body. John writes:

“Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb…

she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).”

‭‭John‬ ‭20:11, 14-16

Jesus comes back from the dead, and who does He first appear to? Women.

In the Middle Eastern culture back then women had less rights than they do even now. Men were considered infinitely more important in society, and the testimony of women was considered to be less than reliable. Therefore, if you wanted someone to tell people about something amazing you wouldn’t choose a woman to do it. You would choose a man.

So why did Jesus appear to women before anyone else?

In his book, Jesus, the Man Who Loved Women*, Bruce Marchiano writes about each of the women Jesus encountered and how Jesus treated them.

Jesus treated women with dignity and kindness. He saw them as valuable when no one else did.

Marchiano writes, “Jesus knows a woman’s fears and frustrations, hurt and fatigue.” Jesus understands women. And He cares.

Just look at how He treated women. Not only did He appear to them first, He comforted them (Luke 7:12-13), He healed them (Mark 5:25-28), He set them free (Luke 13: 10-13), He defended them (John 8:2-5), He honored them (Mark 12:41-44), He interacted with them (Luke 4:6-7), and He respected them (Luke 7:36-50).

Mostly, though, Jesus loves women.

In Song of Songs chapter 2, verse 4 it says, “His banner over me is love.” Jesus loves women. He values us as precious. He really sees us, because He made us.

So, this Easter, dear woman, remember that you are precious. That Jesus rose for you. That Easter is for you, especially.

*Marchiano, Bruce. Jesus, the Man Who Loves Women. 2008; Howard Books, New York.

Find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Man-Who-Loved-Women/dp/141654397X/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?crid=2SL2PB2369FCA&keywords=jesus+the+man+who+loved+women&qid=1555908501&s=gateway&sprefix=jesus+the+man+who+loved&sr=8-1