New Dare Journey – Got Expectations?
As promised, today we begin our new dare journey – it’s for any woman, married or not, of any age. You can find the back story here. Invite friends. I can’t wait to get started! 🙂
I’m looking at this as “Respect 101 – Respecting God, Ourselves, and Others”
A gangly seventh grader, I stood in front of the long mirror in my bedroom, checking the way my pink jeans fit – you know the drill, the visual up-down-front-back-side-to-side-style evaluative glances we women give ourselves. Our eyes easily drink in the imperfections and flaws like cold water on a hot day, while the positives briefly flash across our consciousness, ignored. Do you remember doing that? I do… maybe even yesterday. One thing is different, however, and that is my eyes see differently. As a young teen, maybe you were like me, where insecurities ruled our thoughts, interactions, and perceptions of truth. We didn’t know that all the other girls were just as uncomfortable in their hormonally induced changing bodies. Because my esteem was low, I naturally thought I had to be the only one who ever felt like that. I was wrong.
And no matter how old we get, we’re still making that same mistake.
We women of all ages seem to continually battle something I call, “chronic comparison,” based on a saying of my husband’s – “to compare is to despair.” We lack the ability to fully wrap our identity up in God’s opinion of us, and because we so easily and often unknowingly buy the lies of the culture, we will always struggle to a certain degree with this.
There is hope, however. Awesome, deep, promising HOPE. This hope is one that is rooted in the greatest love in the universe – and it comes from having a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. We’re going to talk a lot about this in the coming dares, but first we’re going to sift through some of the baggage we’re carrying. We’re going to leave some of it behind. We’re going to put some other pieces away for a while. We might still take some of it with us, but for now, we’re not sure what to believe, because our hearts are swayed by the culture. We still want to be liked, happy, rewarded, encouraged… all those positive emotions we enjoy so much.
The first hard look we’re going to take is with the expectations we have of our relationship with God. I’ve known Him for over two decades, but I also fully believe that piece of Him I know is smaller than probably a bazillionth of a bazillionth of a square millimeter, if He could even be confined to space.
The best part of having a relationship with God is that there will always be MORE. We can never know everything about Him, He never stops delighting and loving us in special ways, and if you’ll trust me on this, you’ll understand that He’s better than any guy on the planet will ever be. (I’m not saying, “Don’t like boys or men!” And for the record, I LOVE MEN. I married one and gave birth to two. 🙂 They are all awesome. I’m saying they aren’t supposed to be the thing we want MOST).
So let’s start here, with our relationship with God.
For me, as an atheist until age 22, obviously God did not exist in my world for a long time. Bullied relentlessly grade school through high school, I couldn’t fathom why a God who was supposed to be loving would let such horrible things happen to a little kid at the hands of people who should have been her friends.
I gave up on Him.
I remember being 12 and deciding He wasn’t real. It was a dark moment in my childhood.
I had no hope.
When I chose to believe in Him later in life (after being positively influence by my then-friend, now-husband 🙂 ), I started “doing religion.” I read the Bible daily, prayed for other people and myself, served in my church, and tried to be good.
Can you relate?
“Doing religion” will leave a person bored with God. It’s a place where you know about God, but don’t really know Him personally. One day, while I was driving to work, I said to Him, “You are supposed to be a mountain-moving, sea-parting, miraculous healing-style God. If You are so awesome, why is what I’m doing so boring? I don’t get it. I’m not even sure You are real. Is this all there is?”
This was back in the day of cassette players (I know you might be too young to even know what one is) and so my favorite music cassette had been stuck in my car’s player for over a week. Each time I slid into the seat behind the wheel, I punched the button to try to get it out. Nothing happened.
This day, however, I chose to test God. (looking back, I realize this probably was not a good thing to do, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know at the time) I said to Him, “If you really exist, can You pop my cassette out of the player? That should be nothing for You if You are Who You say You are.”
I pushed the button. It popped out.
I nearly drove my car off the road.
A warm feeling came over me.
It was nice.
Now this may seem like a small thing, and I suppose it is on the surface. That small moment changed me, however. He kept “showing up” in strange “coincidences” that led me down a path of belief and wonder. I started looking for God in everything. Over and over again, I saw Him.
It’s been my experience that usually, when someone young in their faith earnestly pursues God, He makes it easy for them to believe. While this doesn’t happen 100% of the time, He does often show up in miraculous ways. One of the most “impressive” situations I ever witnessed occurred with one of my class members. She had been on a mission trip to Africa, and the missions committee brought some of the African people they had served to the US to a conference. This woman spoke about her experience serving in front of the group from Africa at the conference. When the group was on break, one of the African women came up to her and said, “I cried tears of great joy when you spoke your piece in our native tongue. Thank you so much for all you said.”
The woman had spoken everything in English. She did not even know the native language.
I know many with similar stories. Maybe you have one?
Maybe you don’t.
What About You?
Think back to when you first started to know Him. If you’re like most people, you really just knew “about” Him.
Maybe that’s where you are still, in your relationship with Him. Let’s take just a few minutes and think of the beginning of the relationship. Take a few moments and in your journal, answer these questions:
- What were you looking for in the first place that led you to Him?
- What have you actually experienced?
- What are you feeling towards Him now?
- If you look at the expectations you have of God, what are they? Write out at least three.
Dare you today to take these expectations you have/had of God, and put them in an envelope to be opened in 6 months. At that time, you can check our website, www.GreaterImpact.org under the “Respect Dare” tab for “The envelope” and we’ll give you further instructions.
Please comment below with your answers if you are feeling brave! 🙂 DARE YA! 🙂 LOL 🙂
As a reminder, we are doing Boot Camp again this year – helping women around the world (we are international in attendance this year! WOOT!) learn more about using the discipleship method that forever-style changes women’s relationships with God, their husband, and others.
I’d love it if you’d come. Consider this a personal invitation from me. 🙂 TODAY IS THE LAST DAY to sign up for the early bird rate for Boot Camp – we’re at a lovely retreat center and the investment covers the entire stay including food and board.
They can also accommodate food allergies, just let us know on the enrollment form you’ll get via email. Space is limited – we haven’t really talked much about it because I’ve had the flu, but in the two weeks it’s been up, we’re already half full. So grab your spot while there still are some – if you feel led to deliver Daughters of Sarah or The RESPECT DARE. Yes, you can lead the classes without attending Boot Camp, but your classes will be ten times better if you come!
I’d love to see you.
And hug you in person. 🙂
Love to you,
Oh, and if you got this as an email forward from a friend who cares about you and your family, know we’d love YOU to join us on this journey. The road is long and hard, and often paved with tears, but worth traveling – and you’re not alone.
You can get marriage TIPS! articles, a free copy of my eBook, 101 Ways to Respect Your Husband, and other marriage info here. I’ll be taking down the 101 Ways eBook in the next week or so and putting up a new eBook, so grab it while you can. We promise not to share your email with anyone, ever. You’ll get just one or two TIPS! articles a week, plus a blog post as they come, usually 1-2 a week.
• What were you looking for in the first place that led you to Him?
The TRUTH is what I was looking for. I went searching for the truth, not even knowing if God was real (—I hate this part! But let’s travel through it.) I thought, we are just lost in this mysterious universe without any purpose. —As I studied the world’s religions, I kept thinking: Look at all this unverified –biased, written by fanatics– faith literature. Faith seemed a totally unreliable process for arriving at truth because by faith you could prove all religions. —Oh, not any real, verifiable, hard evidence? Well, you just have to have faith. But faith can prove all religions and yet all religions contradict each other. So, if faith can prove anything, faith can prove nothing. I kept studying and studying and studying, sometimes even praying. —I didn’t even know how to pray. I would say: God please reveal yourself to me, don’t let me follow a god that does not exist. In the early days, I reasoned that when I really understand why I don’t believe in Islam, I would know why I don’t believe in Christianity too. I looked at other believers that talked about “feelings in the heart” but they said the hearts of every other believers in every other religions deceived them. So, faith, honestly applied with no special pleading for our faith traditions, justifies all religions, therefore it can justify none of them.
What is false hope worth? . . . .Everything I saw, I just classified under “I know in my heart.” I know in my heart sounds better than I refuse to analytically consider this with logic and evidence because I am emotionally attached to my faith community and it is a package deal. I would ask people: How do you know any of this is true? It seemed to come down to the fact that in order to believe in God, you had to believe in God (circular). It seemed not like an apple that has a core but an onion that when you peel away all the layers, nothing. It seemed belief was just based not on evidence, but on a deep-seated need to have certainty, and I could not get beyond the fact that extraordinary claims do require extraordinary (blow you away) evidence. Belief in gods was not the problem. Belief without evidence was the problem.
I concluded that given the state of the evidence, if there was a God, He must not want us to believe in Him. Given the state of evidence, I thought it very unlikely that He would be offended by those who doubted His existence because unsubstantiated blind faith is an ironic gift to return to the creator of human intelligence! Faith for me became SIN because it was intellectual dishonesty and special pleading for a faith tradition (my culture, my upbringing). Once you take that first wrong step morally by believing things without evidence (—and you know you do not have evidence because you call it faith) you can justify (go) anything.
So, I became so, so frustrated. What’s the number one principle of good relationships? Good, solid communication, right? It is not carried out on the back of secretive, hinty, mystical, hiddenness. What has God done for you that you honestly have not done for yourself? In the end, God forces us to live like He is not even there. He is always just compatible with whatever happens. There is no survival of the kindest. Yeah, Praise the Lord but pass the ammunition and we cannot demonstrate anything: 1. Demonstrate the existence of a soul, any soul! 2. Demonstrate that eternity is even a possibility for a soul. 3. Demonstrate that a heaven or hell exists. 4. Demonstrate that Jesus is still alive and in heaven. 5. Demonstrate that God exists. Untestable; undetectable; unknowables disable our reality checks. The stumbling block should be repenting of your sins NOT seeing how little evidence you can believe on. Believe and you will see is the circular reasoning of a con artist. Take it on faith is the best way to believe wrong things. It is a bag of tricks based on circular reasoning, I reasoned. (We are almost done this depressing part, just be grateful you didn’t have to live it!)
—And yet, the craziest thing about this, through it all, I became more and more strangely attracted to Christ. What is the matter with me I used to think? Why is it that the more I struggled, the stronger the attraction. I would “hear” Him say: “follow me” “come spend time with me” “pray”. No, No, —NO, I would think. That is just my imagination. We have the exact same evidence for Christianity as we do for every other religion. The exact same areas of the brain light up. The exact same brain states when feeling God. God made us to think and reason. He gave us super strong rational reasoning abilities. So the key to understanding and life is to shut them down and believe something that looks totally made up with no evidentiary support?
Okay, that will be enough of that young lady (—as my mother always said to me). So you get the picture, right? Good, because I hate that part. It has the stink of death all over it and I am stopping here because I could write until the Lord’s return on that whole experience and I haven’t even touched the mountains of serious issues with the Bible, The Christ of Faith vs. The Jesus of History (Lair, Lunatic, Lord, Legend, etc.). So let’s just leave it at that and get to REAL love and REAL life!!!
Here is the Bottom-line: If you hear the gospel’s foolishness and want to repent and follow Jesus, it can ONLY be because God himself has done a supernatural work in your heart that has bypassed your logic, bypassed your evidence evaluating capabilities and bypassed your reasonableness. Even the Bible says that the gospel message is, as 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, foolishness. God has set it up this way so that He gets all the credit and all the glory for saving and regenerating men and women. How can there be any pride in this type of foolish conversion?
•Why were you searching?
So that when I came to die, I would not discover that I had not even lived.
•What have you actually experienced?
I have actually experienced the Lord God regenerating my heart and Christ living there. People say to me all the time, Rebecca what happened to you? It is the most incredible adventure of my life. God is that total, pure love and the love of God is the most strengthening, life-giving-force you can imagine. God can heal everything. Again, it is truly beyond anything I could have imagined, His ability to redeem. It is like a secret pocket of pure Love, —that place of being “in God” I feel loved and loving. I feel protected from anything and everything that has ever harmed me —I feel as welcomed as I am forgiven. From this place I can act calmly and confidently. To me, the key is never, ever, EVER stop inviting the Holy Spirit to deep clean and guard your precious heart (Proverbs 4:23–26)! Get wisdom (James 1:5) sell it NOT! Jesus did not come into the world to make bad women good. He came into the world to make DEAD women live! I have found nothing in this world so sweet as a life completely committed to the Lord God. —True repentance never leads to despair. It leads home. It leads to grace! By God’s grace, I let the Holy Spirit clean my heart. You know what? Cleaning our hearts (Holiness) shouldn’t even be this much fun, but it just is, —it just is!
•What are you feeling towards Him now?
[Smiling!!!] I am hopelessly in love with Christ and I love everything about Him. My rock, my comfort, my peace, my salvation, my refuge, my God! There are two kinds of people in the world —only two kinds: either dead in sin or dead to sin. I don’t even ask people if they’re saved/ born again/ et.al. anymore; I look them straight in the eye and say, “Does Christ live inside you?” Listen, if a women is real1y born-again of the Holy Spirit of God it is the most radical thing this side of eternity. She becomes a new creature! She has a new heart! She has a new mind! —And what about these people that don’t know? –I just don’t understand that. If you were going up a hill carrying a fifty-pound weight and a man ran up behind you and lifted it off your back, would you know it?
But here is the really wonderful thing: Nobody else can give you a clean heart but God. Nobody, nothing can do that. Why is that important? Christ’s love heals and reconfigures the very core of myself. I actually believe that Christ’s love is what everyone is always trying to bring into their lives often in ineffective, dramatic and dysfunctional ways. It is “addiction” of a different kind (Psalm 112:7) —It truly is the path of victory (Psalm 19:7-11, 33:11, 119:105). God’s pure love reaching our heart —nothing is like it. You can never fill your emptiness with anything but the Lord God. The Lord God can fill you with His love, so you don’t have to be “filled” by other people. This get us off that horrible treadmill of peer pressure, people-pleasing and codependency. Without God, people are merely dependent upon one another. We need to be extremely careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God and keep inviting the Holy Spirit to do all that heart cleaning and healing that brings REAL love to all those dark, lonely and sad places. Otherwise, we will settle our whole lives for little, lonely scraps of love/ approval/ affection from other people. Think about this: I have nothing to offer the Lord who created the universe and yet He will meet with me anytime and treat me like I’m the only one in the universe. —Closer than a sister, with me every day.
•If you look at the expectations you have of God, what are they? Write out at least three.
1) To let me know Him more and more.
2) To let me serve Him more and more.
3) His help in dying to myself more and more.
God doesn’t want to share my life or yours. He wants to own it! He doesn’t want partnership, or us “managing” sin. God wants ownership of every part of my being! It’s not simple being a Christian but it is such a majestic thing! Christ comes and lives inside us!!! For me, it went to the next level with learning to more effectively pray. I just went on the assumption that it was the same as when I learned to swim. Did we sit in a chair with our feet up drinking mineral water learning to swim? No, we got out in the water and struggled hard, same with prayer. No woman is greater than her prayer life —and— if we are weak in prayer, we are weak everywhere (—Jesus was praying all the time, about everything!) I also really believe we don’t have the Holy Spirit / personal revival because we are content to live without Him, without it. One day I became content no more. So too our revelation of God depends directly upon the measure of my desire. The finding is still to those who seek with all their heart (Jeremiah 29:13; Deuteronomy 4:29).
Thank you for your honesty and inspiration. Two wonderful things you said that talk directly to me: “He will meet with me anytime and treat me like I’m the only one in the universe. —Closer than a sister, with me every day.” and, “God doesn’t want to share my life or yours. He wants to own it! He doesn’t want partnership, or us “managing” sin. God wants ownership of every part of my being!” Bring it on! Thank God for you Rebecca. You are indeed a treasure.
I’m so excited about this journey! Thanks for doing this.
I have been attending church my whole life. I remember when I first questioned the existence of God. I was pregnant at 17, lost and confused. My parent’s seemed supportive, but of course disappointed. Then the bombs began to drop… My parents got divorced before I even delivered. I was considering giving my son up for adoption and my mother told me if I gave him up that she was kicking me out. My sister attempted suicide, my other sister moved out of state.. all my friends moved on with their new found freedom of adult life and I was not in the same place as they were so we drifted apart. I still attended church off and on, but my heart had changed. I stayed in this place for many years. Not until 2 years ago did I have the full “coming to Jesus” moment.. I was 35
What were you looking for in the first place that led you to Him?
I was looking for a way to save my marriage and my own life as I was beginning to feel suicidal
Even though I had doubts, I HAD seen what I thought were miracles in the past and I wanted one. My marriage of 12 years was at the breaking point, and my husband had asked my twice already for a divorce and refused.
What have you actually experienced?
One night, I was sobbing terribly for HOURS. It was around 2am and I was crying and had been praying and begging The Lord to heal me, fix my marriage, change my husband.. some things I know now were the wrong prayers, but God knew my heart. I heard.. yes HEARD with MY EARS a voice.. it startled me at first, then I listened and heard these words… “Tiffanie, Dan will NEVER change until you do. Keep focus on me and working at pleasing me and then I can work on him for you.. But if you quit trying Dan will know and he won’t listen to my prompting”.
What are you feeling towards Him now?
Amazed, blessed, love.. I can’t describe the feelings I have now. I feel like a child again believing as I once did, but this time, its not a blind belief. I have experienced His might, felt His Love, Heard his voice. I know my savior lives and he is there for me all the time just waiting for me to seek him more.
If you look at the expectations you have of God, what are they? Write out at least three.
At this point, I can say…
I expect God to keep his promise to me about my marriage.
I expect God to keep listening to me.
I expect God to keep teaching me the lessons I need to know
I expect God to help me stay closer to Him so I never wander again
Thanks so much for this! 🙂 SO glad you are here! 🙂 I love the transparency here, and your heart! Beautiful. 🙂
Love to you!
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