The gospel of self-esteem and positive self-image

 

self image

 

In September 2017 while thinking of possible article topics suitable for Christian singles, I wrote in my journal several topics, including, “The gospel of self-esteem and positive self-image”.

My intention was to speak against the popular message of self-esteem and positive self-image, relating it to the life of Christian singles.

I never wrote the articles, because they were being compiled for a future time. Therefore, I completely forgot about the topic of self-esteem.

In July 2018 I was jotting down ideas and topics for a new book, whereupon flipping through my old journal I came across those topics. Because of the title of the book I intended to write, I was surprised to discover I’d ever intended to write against self-esteem and positive self-image.

I tried to think of the reason why I had had that intention, but somehow I just couldn’t remember it.

So I went on to write my book. One year after jotting down “The gospel of self-esteem and positive self-image, in September 2018, my ebook, Self-Esteem and the Single was ready for free download. It was well written. I was satisfied with the way I’d expressed my views.

THEN…

On September 14th 2018, I posted a photo of myself on Facebook with the caption having something to do with self-esteem, precisely self-liking. A new friend I’d just made, a wonderful sister in Christ, became concerned and sent me a message to correct my wrong view.

I defended myself and my opinions and we ended the chat by somehow acknowledging that each party needed to learn something new.

BUT…

There was unease in my spirit about my book. It did not begin with my friend contacting me. It had been present when I was researching and compiling information for the book.

In fact there had been moments when I’d thought to discontinue with the project. For I questioned the relevance of such a work. I even sought counseling, underneath which was the desire to get another person’s approval so I could overcome that noticeable fear and observation that the work was much ado about nothing.

I always write from my heart. If I write something amiss, during quiet time with the Lord or during night-time when I’m lying on the bed, usually I’d be made to realize where corrections are necessary. That’s basically how I work.

But writing from the heart was not the case with Self-esteem and the Single. The book was generally very hard to write, the ‘anointing’ was simply lacking, even though I prayed incessantly throughout the writing period.

Deep within me I wanted my words to be spirit-filled in order to bless my readers. But the flow was not coming on easily. I had to practically force the book to be written.

And because of that feeling of unease, I sought refuge in great writing. I also asked others for their opinion, seeking to understand if they considered my intentions worthwhile.

When I later gave the manuscript to a friend to review, she remarked about the beautiful writing style. That was one thing I enjoyed during proofreading and editing.

 

When I reached the conclusion, it even became harder to write. ‘What have I really said in these pages?’ I asked myself. ‘Is it really necessary?’

I hastily wrote the conclusion, with an awful feeling within me.

After proofreading and editing, I made the book freely available online.

But why did I go ahead to write a book when the ‘anointing’ was absent? I will explain later.

 

When my said friend contacted me with a negative opinion about self-esteem, I defended myself. But God was not yet through opening my eyes to some things which I’d wrongly conceived, or statements I’d made that could be potentially misconstrued.

Not long thereafter, I stumbled on C. S. Lewis book, Mere Christianity. One of the chapters was captioned, The Great Sin, talking about pride.

Lewis didn’t say the exact opposite of what I’d written but he made statements that caused me to begin thinking seriously about the things I had said. For example, applying to self-respect or self-dignity to overcome vices or sins.

In my book, I had stated that sometimes low self-esteem can cause singles, even Christian singles, to indulge in vices and unhealthy behaviors, for example, sexual immorality. And that is true.

But what is the remedy? Positive self-esteem? Positive self-image? NO!

The remedy is obedience to God’s Word. God-esteem!

Psalm 119:9-11

How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.

10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!

11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

 

Several self-esteem messages give this advice: do not indulge vices because they are below your dignity or self-respect. As such, sin is no longer wrong doing against God and fellow man, but wrong doing against self-respect, self-pride.

Lewis says, concerning that line of thought, “The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride.”

Right now I’m thinking of members of a certain ministry where they are taught Identity in Christ in ways that have produced very prideful believers. They are royalty, kings and queens; that is the reason they are told to give up destructive habits.

Because of their royal status, they can’t dress anyhow, they must look catchy even if they have to borrow and strain themselves financially in order to maintain that appearance.

On the surface the royalty message sounds good. There’s some little truth there. Apostle Paul usually encourages the Christian to live holy by drawing their attention to their new status as God’s Children, with whom sinful lifestyles are incompatible.

But the fruit of the kings and queens teaching is not attractive. In my interaction with some of them, these guys hardly consider anyone out of their circle to be equal or fellow believers with them. They look at others condescendingly, as an inferior class of believers. And part of it is this self-dignity thing. Instead of glorying in God, they’ve turned to glory in themselves.

This deception is so subtle. The claim of glorying in who they are in Christ is right, but they fail to see that they are not really glorying in Christ, but in how they feel and think about themselves. Hence the pride.

You see the fruit is bad, indicating the root is bad. It’s subtle and dangerous.

 

When I read C.S Lewis’ book, I admitted to myself that my book needed rewriting, some sort of overhaul. I thought of possible changes to the title and some of the content. I then tried rewriting, but again, the anointing was absent.

I abandoned the project for a future time.

Until I read appendix 3 of John Piper’s book, Desiring God. He completely shattered one of my evidences that positive self-esteem and positive self-image is worth talking about.

 

Does your low self-esteem indicate you hate yourself?

What does it mean to love your neighbor as you love yourself? John Piper answers that question in quite a different way from how proponents of self-esteem and positive self-image have interpreted the Scriptural command to “Love your neighbor as you love yourself“.

Piper says Jesus supposed you already love yourself. From that supposition comes the command to love others the same way.

That doesn’t make sense to the self-esteem promoter, because someone with low self-esteem is usually portrayed as hating or disliking themselves, or wanting to be someone else.

But that is not true. A low self-esteem sufferer loves himself. That is why he’s unhappy with the inadequacies that make him feel inferior to others. It is love for himself that makes him feel bad about lacking what others have. It is love for his wellbeing that causes him to seek comfort in envy, viciousness, resentment, jealousy or even sexual immorality. It is love for himself that pushes him to seek the approval and acceptance of men even if it means compromise of godly principles or undue pressure on himself.

This way of loving himself is wrong and sinful, because it tends to put him in an unhealthy position. It is out of line with God’s Word. Yet we cannot fail to recognize that it is still love for his wellbeing that pushes him to do what he does to alleviate what he perceives as a problem or threat to that wellbeing.

The best way to love himself is not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to believe God’s Word and align his life in accordance with God’s perspective. That way he experiences true joy and peace.

In Romans 12, Paul talks about the individual Christian having a sober judgment or opinion of himself. The first two verses contain the encouragement for us to present our bodies, including our mental faculties, as living sacrifices to God. That way of life is our reasonable service or worship unto the Lord.

Here is verse 2 in the Amplified Version.

2 DO NOT BE CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD (THIS AGE), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], BUT BE TRANSFORMED (CHANGED) BY THE [ENTIRE] RENEWAL OF YOUR MIND [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will.

The Christian who regularly feeds on God’s Word and lives in accordance with the same would hardly have some of the issues with low self-esteem and poor self-image. The transformation of his mind brings about a change in attitude and perspective. There’s joy to be derived from knowing your life pleases God.

Colossians 3:1-2 say, If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

You would find that a God-honoring Christian, with a proper knowledge of God’s Word, should have nothing to do with the competition and self-absorption that usually fuel feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem.

Going on in Chapter 12 of Romans, from verse 3, Paul destroys competition (and presumably feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem) by drawing our attention to each individual’s uniqueness in being endowed by God differently for different and special purposes.

Though the context applies to life within the Christian community and the use of spiritual gifts, the lessons can still be implied in our interactions with others. We’re each different. Each person would fare well to accept what God has apportioned for him, and to seek to live for God alone, instead of envying others and feeling awful about himself

Without self-absorption AND comparison of yourself with others, low self-esteem or feelings of inferiority would be dead.

Do unto others as you would want done to you.

The command, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” therefore is a call to seek the wellbeing of our neighbor the same way we seek our own wellbeing. It has nothing to do with self-esteem or positive self-image.

 

Back to my book. The reason that prompted me to write it in the first place (which I soon believed was God asking me to write the book, you see why I endured the unease?) was the experiences I’ve witnessed with many Singles. I believe some of the wrong choices Singles made, and still make, is rooted in an image of themselves that is poor. They do not have a proper value tagged on themselves.

The content of the book was not completely wrong. There were equally correct and wonderful things I wrote, like wrong ways in which people, including Singles, seek to overcome feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem. I talked about the pursuit of intimacy with God, the importance of knowing His love and grace, and living a life of purpose.

But the basis for the book was so wrong that the good things seemed to have been drowned out by the louder voice.

After reading what John Piper wrote, I just had to repent and ask the Lord to forgive me for the people I had misinformed through my book. My heart might have been in the right place, but all the same I was wrong. And I couldn’t justify myself before the Lord – that unease I’d felt, that heaviness I’d experienced during writing, had been the Spirit of God grieving over the project, communicating to my spirit that I should discontinue with the writing.

I had already unpublished the book for rewriting after reading C.S Lewis. But after reading Piper, I decided the book should be deleted.

I still want to encourage Christian singles to live right, but none of that has to do with their self-esteem or positive self-image.

 

God-Esteem

It is obedience to the Lord and the honor of His name that should motivate the Christian, whether married or single, poor or rich, ugly or attractive, educated or uneducated, to live a clean life. Any resort to self-esteem or positive self-image as a motivation to right behavior is self-centered and does not please God.

Let the world talk about positive self-image, and not the church.

While it is true that our feeling of self-worth improves with our knowledge of who God says we are, the Christian’s goal in life is not the attainment of positive self-worth. Our aim is to please the Lord, regardless of how we feel or see ourselves.

The single person dates the right way, following God’s Word, and not because of self-esteem and positive self-image. The single person abstains from sexual immorality because it is a command from God, not because of self-dignity or self-respect. The only respect here should be honor for the Owner of our lives, God, and the price He paid to purchase us to Himself.

Other challenges singles face, as I stated in my book, can be adequately dealt with by esteeming God above all else.

Low self-esteem is real, a poor self-image is real. And these are very unhealthy conditions which should not be encouraged. But their true remedy, especially for the Christian is not attainment of positive self-image through ‘techniques’ to improve self-confidence or attainment of some worldly goal that would make you feel good about yourself or gain the approval and admiration of others.

For the Christian, the remedy is God-esteem. The pursuit of God. The pursuit of intimacy with God. The pursuit of God’s will for your life.

Feelings of positive self-worth come as an accidental byproduct of relationship with God, a desire to live for Him alone, a desire to honor Him in whatever circumstances.

Instead of talking self-esteem, Christians should talk God-esteem. The focus should be shifted from self to God. The focus shouldn’t be how we feel about or think about ourselves; the focus should be living a life that honors the Lord, regardless of our feelings.

 

I can’t overstate the importance of a deep knowledge of God’s Word and a vibrant relationship with him. As stated in Colossians 3:1-2, such a relationship with God must include a heart that stays itself on the things of God.

That way, self-absorption or obsession with self-image just has no place. A heart that is constantly filled with Jesus and his amazing love and grace for us, a heart that yearns to know God more and fulfill his will, has no room for self.

Unfortunately, destructive teachings have subtly crept in among us that hardly allow the mind to be stayed on things above. We’re mostly living for the here and now. There’s so much competition among Christians on things that do not matter in the light of God’s glory and eternity.

We compete with each other, not in terms of how pleasing our lives are or should be to God, but in how far above or below us others are in the achievement and attainment of worldly goals. Hence pride or inferiority depending on which rung of the ladder you are in.

The Christian suffering from low self-esteem or feelings of inferiority needs to repent or turn away from a negative mindset. The righteous are as bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1). God has not given us the spirit of timidity but the spirit of boldness, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Our insecurities and fears do not originate from God, they originate with us staying our minds on ourselves and comparing ourselves with each other.

The Christian with low self-esteem also needs to start filling his mind with God’s thoughts; he must start staying that mind on things above, not things on earth.

Colossians 3:2-4

2 SET YOUR AFFECTION ON THINGS ABOVE, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

 

Isaiah 26:3

 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

I recommend this other article from gotquestions.org How should christians view self-esteem?

God bless,

Jane.

A Discussion On Divorce And Remarriage

Because of the increase in the cases of divorce and remarriage among Christians today, many are not willing to fight for their marriages. But God made marriage to be a life-long covenant.

I reblog this article here, from Paul Benson’s blog,  to Christian Singles especially, as an encouragement to take the time and necessary steps to make right choices, because after you say, ‘I do’, you must be ready and willing to keep your marriage vows.

Let's Get It Right!

divorce-619195_640

by Paul Benson

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. -Jesus Christ

A reader recently posed a question to me concerning my view on divorce and remarriage. Though I could have probably satisfied her request with a ‘nutshell’ answer I felt it might be a good time to share my view (and experience) in an article for all to consider.

The issue of divorce and remarriage by those professing faith in Christ is one that is frequently addressed and taught upon in the Church today. But it is my personal opinion that it is seldom addressed in a manner that is in accord with the true teachings of the New Testament. At the risk of taking a hit to my readership stats (hopefully I am more concerned about winning God’s approval than yours!) let’s take a look at what the Bible really does and does not…

View original post 3,668 more words

Can you and should you trust God to write your love story?

 

lovely-3289382_640.jpg

In this post I talked about the unfortunate experiences of some Christian Singles who ‘heard’ God tell them who to marry but it never came to pass. Those experiences have caused some to take the stance that God cannot and will not tell you who to marry.

But like I mentioned in the post God can and will tell you who to marry , that stance is an extreme that hurts the wonderful testimonies of those who were divinely led to meet their spouses.

I have decided to bring a testimony which I came across online and which I found very inspiring. For two reasons. One, it is a wonderful testimony, reflecting my personal beliefs, and second, these people’s lives are centered around the pursuit of God, a topic I’m very passionate about.

Disclaimer: These people are ministers. I haven’t followed their ministry, though I agree with their Statement of Faith. I just stumbled on the testimony.

Their site doesn’t have much on it, so I have glanced through the various topics found there, and I don’t have reservations recommending their testimony.

In this age of rampant false teachings, I constantly find it difficult recommending ministries, for fear that I might be the cause of someone finally embracing falsehood.

I pray the link remains available for a long time to come. Here it is The Match Maker.

Most times on social media, I feel oppressed by the kind of relationship advice I see dished out to Singles. I feel so because I do believe much of it factors God out of the equation and also puts the Single in a place of stress. Stress because there are so many of those advice, some even contradictory, which can be very confusing.

The advice Christian Singles should be given  should be one that is godly, so they don’t behave like the guy in this funny short story.

God is concerned about us, including our need for companionship. We can’t go about that area of our lives as if it is all up to us. We can have his help and his guidance.

The testimony linked in this post is an example of being led by God to your mate. It is the testimony of a life that is lived for God, in total obedience and trust, willing to forego man’s opinion and accept God’s direction.

Not every single who gets inspired by the testimony would get their mate the exact way as these individuals did. This is one area where some make mistakes. It is easy to hear someone’s testimony, and then look forward to its repeat in your own life.

Yet we’re all unique. The Bible contains principles, not formulas, for finding a mate.

But the testimony does show that the Christian Single can trust God to write their love story; that the Christian Single can be led of God; that the Christian Single can make living for God a whole of their lives, not just a part.

For the Christian, marriage is as much a life lived for God as is any other christian duty. It’s all woven together, not compartmentalized. You don’t go look for a wife or a husband as if it is not part of God’s business, and then try to fit the person of your choice into your Christian living.

No, it shouldn’t be so. As Christians, everything about us must be influenced by our beliefs as shaped by God’s Word.

I read John Piper’s Desiring God, the Chapter titled, Marriage, A Matrix For Christian Hedonism. It struck me how much Christians, probably influenced by our culture today, have taken the issue of marriage lightly, mostly something to do only with our emotions.

While one purpose of marriage is for sexual gratification, Christian marriage is much more than that. Marriage is compared to the union of Christ and His Bride, the Church.

It therefore follows that we can’t just take the issue of who we marry lightly. Anyone can satisfy our sexual needs, but anyone will not do to make our marriage what God wants it to be.

May you be inspired by the testimony to trust God in whatever way he chooses to lead you to your spouse.

Janet.

 

God can and will tell you who to marry

Mine

Does God show people their spouses? Will God tell you who to marry? What role does God play in your choice of mate?

In God told me he was going to be my husband I talked basically on the unfortunate circumstances that arise with the issue of “God told me they are the one for me.”

But I realized that there was a need for another article to counter another extreme.

Extremes exist in almost everything, and the solution to one extreme is not another extreme.

Because of the high frequency of failed “words from God” about marrying someone, some have adopted the stance on the issue which says God cannot and will never tell you who to marry. That it is all up to you to go about looking for a mate.

I believe that stance hurts the amazingly wonderful testimonies of those whom it is evident God spoke to them and led them to their spouses. And there are many of such testimonies.

Just because some experience failure doesn’t mean others do not register genuine success.

God is our Father. And his Fatherly heart will not be happy seeing us make fatal mistakes. He guides, he leads.

He tells us to ask for wisdom where we lack it, and he promises to give liberally, without grudging.

I believe you can and should expect God’s leading and guidance as you seek a wife or husband. As a Christian, you should not go into a relationship without seeking to know God’s mind concerning it.

Only, do not seek to have an exact experience with someone else. You are unique – the way God leads me may be different from the way he leads you.

You can and should ask God for guidance. You can pray God to expose the heart of that person to you as you get to know them more.

But remember that guidance in romantic relationships is usually clouded by our emotions, reason why it is unwise to be quick in concluding God has said this or that, or clinging to a supposed word from God in the face of roadblocks and red flags.

If you are in a relationship and your heart harbors reservations, for whatever reasons, do not ignore it. There’s high probability that’s the voice of God. If the person’s behavior causes serious concern, do not ignore it. God’s guidance is not some vague feeling, a thought or a voice that doesn’t align with the realities at hand.

Lastly, if you have waited and waited and waited, and the person you are waiting for is not coming to you, please move on with your life. This kind of scenario is recounted mostly by females. They ‘hear’ God tell them about a particular guy, but the guy is not coming around soon. So they keep waiting. And praying!

I do not recommend waiting, putting a part of your life on hold while waiting for someone God has revealed is yours. But in some cases, some have been made to wait, and the person finally came. I am not their judge. If God made them wait, that is very okay. It depends on where you are in your relationship with God.

But if you have waited long and the person has not come, stop rejecting the ones interested in you. I don’t know why God would make his child wait for five, seven or ten years, waiting for the other person to come to them.

It can be agonizing seeing the person ‘God has told you is the one for you’, and praying for them to make the first move or to reciprocate your love, yet they are not doing so.

I do not believe that when God created you, he also created your counterpart of the opposite sex, someone you were ordained to marry; someone you are inescapably bound to marry.

I have seen cases where someone believes their spouse is not the one God ordained for them, and they are ready to divorce and go marry the God-ordained one.

The increase in the cases of divorce and remarriage for unbiblical reasons among Christians today has made some not to take their marriage vows seriously. They can divorce and remarry for any reason, including ‘marrying the God-ordained one you had missed’.

Knowing the voice of God through intimacy with Him

For a Single seeking to hear God tell them who to marry, you must also seek to walk in closer intimacy with him so you can learn to hear and differentiate God’s voice from other voices.

Closer intimacy helps give you God’s perspective in life, it helps you understand the path God wants you to take in life and it also helps you understand the kind of mate you want. Two cannot walk together without agreement.

There should be in your heart, the kind of mate you desire. That’s what you should be concerned with, not who the particular person is.

So I’m saying God can tell you who to marry. Personally I believe it’s the best way of getting your spouse, as dangerous as some may consider it to be. It’s a thing of guidance, keeping you from making fatal mistakes, keeping you from experiencing painful breakups.

But I’m also saying, God’s leading is not a hallucination, a voice, a vision or revelation that you cling to while playing the ostrich, with your head buried in the sand.

I believed in God leading you to the right person, right from the time I got born again, but yes, I experienced failure. And I learnt.

You can ascertain the will of God, you can ‘examine’ what you are ‘hearing’ by looking at the present circumstances in your relationship, by not exalting a ‘conviction’ above the person’s character and attitude towards you.

Church responsibility

The churches need to do a better job in teaching singles to prioritize seeking God and seeking to do things the way he would want them to do. I can’t help but feel disappointed when I see in some circles today singlehood being treated as an inferior life and the single is pressured to get married – to whosoever. It doesn’t matter, as long as they are married.

It should be in church circles that singles are taught the values of dignity, integrity, healthy self-esteem and intimate relationship with God, instead of being made fun of or given the world’s methods of dating.

I remember an incident. It could have been my first, or one of my very first days in the youth meeting after my born-again experience. The lesson was on dating, and I remember asking a question: Can’t we just trust God to lead us to the right person?

In my mind, I didn’t mean just lazying around and hoping that no matter what we do, God is just going to lead us to that one we were ordained for. So don’t get me wrong. I just felt like there was something better than what was being taught.

The answer was nothing short from what a worldly person would give.

‘Seeking a mate is like going to buy a pair of shoes from a shoe shop. There are many shoes. How would you know the one that fits you if you don’t try them on? Try one, if it doesn’t fit, you try the next. Try and try until you get the one that fits’, as the guy in this other story does!

The difference is that human hearts are not inanimate shoes. Humans have emotions, and they get hurt when they are dumped for the next pair of human shoes. As such, you have pairs of shoes in churches who harbor resentment or who don’t talk to each other because of the hurt from those experiences.

God will tell you who to marry

He that is willing to be led of God will find his guidance available. The more you commit yourself to the Lord, the more he reveals his plan for you, including who to marry.

I wish I can give you a step by step approach. But the secret lies in your relationship with the Lord. It’s not a formula. Let him lead you.

A word about commitment to God

It is not uncommon to find single persons busy for God, because, they want a wife or husband. It becomes a bargain. You serve God, and then he rewards you with a spouse.

That is no commitment, for it has strings attached. If God doesn’t fulfill his part of the bargain on time, disappointment sets in. Some Singles then leave the church and start living in sin. They get married to people who are not Christians.

You can’t put God in a box.

Commitment to God is simply because He is God. When you decided to become a Christian, that was a decision to adhere to God’s standards and to live for him.

Dedication to him is about the whole of your life so committed to following him at any cost that you find your contentment in him alone.

Marriage comes, but not as a bargain with God. Commitment to God gives you an added advantage because in committing your life to godly principles, you avoid many unfortunate experiences common to Singles.

God can and will tell you who to marry. Seek him.

Additional reading

Fimba and the shoe shop (A parable)

Can you and should you trust God to write your love story?

The Dancing Clay Vessel

God told me he was going to be my husband

Mine

This post is Appendix One of a play I wrote titled, Mine!

“God told me John was going to be my husband. I was so happy, I incessantly prayed for John to come around.

Finally John asked me out. Few months later we got married and lived happily ever after.

How I wish that were the case. I had eagerly looked forward to the marriage and the ever after, but it never happened, because few months after we started dating, John walked away with another woman, leaving me heartbroken. And confused.

I did all I could to get him back. All in vain. I learned he later walked away from the other woman, before finally settling down with another woman.”

The example above is fiction, but one that does happen in real life.

I believe that until the Lord Jesus comes back, this issue of ‘God told me to marry them’ will remain among Christian Singles. It would be great if there are only success stories, but many times, they are not. Instead there usually is an abundance of regret, confusion and disillusion stories.

This has led some believers to conclude that God cannot and will not tell you who to marry. That is not true.

I counter that thought line in this other post God can and will tell you who to marry

I too had once been a victim of a failed ‘word from God’ about marrying someone. When the relationship crashed, I was devastated emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

I laugh now because I can’t believe I recovered; it was one of the darkest moments of my life and I didn’t believe that I can ever be normal again.

And it was not really because of the man, but because of the thought of having done something wrong to cause God’s will not to come to pass. I constantly wondered ‘But what about what the Lord told me’?

For a long time I blamed and hated myself. I had failed God. Since I got born-again I had believed and taught that we are supposed to trust God to lead us to the right person in order to avoid unfortunate relationships, but here was I with a negative testimony.

I hated myself and I believed God hated me too. I didn’t think he will ever use me again. I had become a useless and despised piece of nothing in his sight. I’ve really come a long way renewing my mind.

But after a long time, the scales began to fall off and I came to a place where I heartily appreciated God for deliverance, yes deliverance, for the path God wanted me to go in, the path he had always drawn my heart towards that direction, I would never have followed if he did not deliver me from that conviction!

I know several persons who have been victims as well; I know it is a perennial problem affecting Christian Singles.

The biggest problem that people who’ve ‘heard from God about marrying someone’ usually have is the ignoring of red flags. The ‘word from God’ trumps all logical reasoning and biblical principles. All the focus is on the ‘fact’ that God has spoken and the mistaken belief is that ‘all will be well; and we shall live happily ever after’.

It is true that sometimes what God tells us to do defies logic. For example, telling Moses and the Israelites to go forward while the Red Sea stared at them.

But in the case of relationships, that shouldn’t be the case.

To throw every piece of advice out the window while clinging to a ‘word from God’ about marrying someone whose actions are red flags and warning signs against such relationship, is not only stupid but dangerous. You are setting yourself up for regrets in the future, unless God’s mercies intervene.

That is not to say relationships and marriages don’t sometimes experience turmoil; that is not to say good relationships are perfect. But the case of someone constantly being abusive, constantly making life bitter for their partner, constantly giving you reason to regret the relationship, it’s just hard to believe God would give such a person to his son or daughter who is sincerely seeking to live for Him.

What Singles need to understand is that it is normal to have feelings for the opposite sex. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with admiring someone of the opposite sex and wishing they could be married to you.

They may possess qualities that you long for and that can cause you to want to have them. But there are things you can do to cause the admiration to either wane or intensify.

Unfortunately, many Singles only tend to intensify the feelings.

What is abnormal is to think those feelings as signifying something other than mere admiration or not considering it could be lust or infatuation.

This is especial consideration for the females, because they are usually on the receiving end, that is, they don’t usually make the first move.

Instead of thinking the desire for the guy normal (or lust to be resisted), she begins to entertain, nurture and intensify the desire, and sooner than later, she begins to ‘hear the Lord’ telling her he is going to be her husband.

She asks for confirmation to be sure God is really the one speaking to her; and she gets them (dreams, coincidences, even prophecies.).

Then begins the waiting period, waiting for the guy to make the first move. In some cases, the wait takes several years. Or she takes steps to make him notice her, and manipulates him into asking her out. Or she begins to pray what I call witchcraft prayers (see below), mentioning the guy’s name and asking God to make him desire her.

For the guy, the situation can be less burdensome. He can easily ascertain the ‘word from God’ by approaching the lady. If she turns him down, he can either dismiss the feeling or the ‘word from the Lord’ or he can persevere for some time in his ‘chase’.

Sadly, some choose to chase and chase and chase, rationalizing, dismissing and ignoring every red flag.

Pride keeps such from accepting the fact that God never spoke; that they were infatuated or probably the devil deluded them.

Many times the clinging to the ‘word from God’ even in the face of failure is usually because of the pain involved in accepting that the ‘voice’ that was heard was not God’s.

It was not easy for me when the relationship failed; I have spoken with others who also experienced failure, and it is not always easy accepting the reality. Tucked somewhere in a part of our mind is the belief that somehow we disrupted God’s plan; or that we were not prayerful enough and the devil outsmarted us; or that there was something we needed to do but didn’t do because we were ignorant of but didn’t take the effort to seek and receive wisdom and guidance from God.

All of that is grasping at illogical rationality aimed at protecting our ego, dignity and integrity, and avoiding the humiliation of self that comes with the realization that God never spoke to us; that we heard our emotions, desires or, the devil.

Experience is a teacher

But life experiences sometimes are a lesson for us to learn and be able to educate ourselves and others. When we fail to learn the lessons those experiences offer us, we continue to make the same mistakes.

A guy courts a girl claiming ‘God revealed…’, the relationship fails. He dates another, claiming the same thing. The second relationship also fails. He goes in for the third, still ‘hearing’ from God!

That makes God schizophrenic and unreliable – he says yes and no at the same time. He leads us into what he is not able to complete, he tells us they are our mate when he knows ahead of time they won’t come or they won’t accept us. That is not the God of the Bible.

What is important: Character or Confirmatory Sign?

Singles need to learn not to be overly concerned about whether God spoke or not as about the character of the person they are intending to marry. I know that doesn’t sound spiritual to some.

But if spiritual is what is responsible for so much heartbreak, confusion and a blurred image of God’s faithfulness, it’s high time to embrace the ‘less spiritual’ strategy.

The truth is if you are in a relationship that God doesn’t want you in, and you are in tune with God, willing to let go of emotions in order to listen to his voice in your spirit and the principles of his Word, God would make it known to you. So there shouldn’t be fear in the heart of any child of God as a result of not having ‘supernatural’ confirmations for their relationship.

About witchcraft prayers, I want to talk a little on it. It’s not just about relationships. The way some people teach prayer, it can lead one to engage in spiritual exercises that are synonymous with, if not actually, witchcraft – seeking to manipulate people’s mind against their will.

Unfortunately I don’t have a scientific method to prove it, but it’d sound more like something a witchdoctor would tell a client desiring a certain lover.

Consider a situation where two people are in a relationship, one partner wants it, the other is undecided, or may be having reservations and wanting to end the relationship.

But the person wanting the relationship (probably believing they are meant to be) is putting such a draw, such a pull, on the other person, spiritually through prayer, sometimes not actually directed to God, but more like the I-decree-and-declare type, that the undecided partner feels somehow ‘compelled’ to continue in the relationship even though his spirit may be vexed or grieved over the situation.

I’m struggling to explain this because it’s something I don’t know how to say, ‘this is how it works’. Maybe someone else understands the how, but I don’t. All I know is that it happens.

As a Single, you need to be careful. If you manipulate someone, whether knowingly or unknowingly, into marrying you, you’ll live to face the consequences tomorrow.

If you truly believe the ‘Lord has spoken to you’ please let be and let God do his work. Ascertain the will of God by allowing him to orchestrate circumstances to bring his will to pass. Desist from trying to make God’s will happen through your gymnastics.

You should never, never go into a relationship when your heart doesn’t agree, no matter the strong emotional drawings towards the person desiring your love.

One way God leads you is by putting peaceful desires in your heart. You may not like someone initially, but if you were meant to be, your heart would along the way desire (want) the person.

Don’t allow emotions to pressure you and drown out the voice of your spirit.

Don’t be quick to conclude, the Lord told you someone is your wife. Let the will of God unfold as you get to know the person more. Be open to the voice of God in your spirit, not through your emotions. Take red flags seriously.

Fimba and the shoe shop (A parable)

cowboy-boots-974937_640

A PARABLE FOR SINGLE GUYS AND LADIES.

Fimba, forsaken by sleep one Saturday night, searched for something to read for distraction. He stumbled on AMNON GETS MARRIED by Jane Aimee. He read the story right up to Amnon’s conversation with pastor Leonard in the church office, before passing out in sleep. And that’s all he read from the story.

The next morning during praise and worship in church, Fimba suddenly remembered the illustration in the novel about trying a pair of shoes before buying them, and if they don’t fit, keep them back on the shelf and keep trying others.

A cunning smile crossed his face. After service, he chose his first shoe to try out: her name was Linda. The shoe didn’t fit.

Every month for a year or more, Fimba tried a new shoe from the diversity of the congregational shoe shop: Juliet, Brenda, Janet, Cassandra etc. And in every circumstance there was always a reason why the shoe didn’t seem to fit. For example:

“I’m not really into her; she’s too short; she’s not well educated; we don’t look good together; her mother is fat! She doesn’t know how to cat-walk; she doesn’t feel my swag; she doesn’t have good fashion taste; Oh, look at that new shoe that just arrived!”

And he would tactfully return the “inconvenient” shoe to the shelf, or as in the case of Suzy, even propose it to another potential buyer.

Fimba’s luck ran out when he tried the clean, calm, dark, tall and slim, cat-walking shoe known as Rosalina.

Initially it was a heaven-made perfect fit. People admired him each time he wore the shoe to church and other public gatherings.

But then again… Fimba thought he could cook up some flimsy excuse to return the shoe to the shop and look for another fitting shoe. But unknown to him, on the sole of the shoe was written the inscription: ‘NO TRY-OUT. IF YOU TAKE ME, YOU MUST BUY ME’.

Every gymnastic to get the shoe off his feet and back to the shelf proved abortive. The shoe stuck to Fimba’s foot like Superglue Cent-Dix© on a surface of paper. If it must be returned to the shelf, it would do so at the cost of the leg.

The buyer was pathetic but the owner of the shoe readily packaged the parcel and handed it out.

Months later, Fimba came complaining to the sales boy at the shop.

‘Men, that shoe hurts like nothing I’ve ever experienced’. The sales boy replied ‘Patience, man. With just a little endurance and hard work it will finally fit. Don’t be too quick to complain or throw away your shoe.’

Fimba cried, ‘By the time the shoe can fit I will be walking on crutches or on a wheelchair, for right now my toenails have come out and the skin on my toes is blistering.’

‘Don’t worry’, the sales boy assured Fimba. ‘Endure for a little while. I think you’ll need copies of my Master’s books such as “DON’T THROW AWAY YOUR SHOE YET!” and “HOW TO GET HURTING SHOES TO FIT”. Try the techniques outlined therein. I wish you the best.’

With a sigh, Fimba paid and collected the books. He left the shop sad.

Let him that has ears hear!

Janet Bengan

Fiction for Teaching, Inspiration and Entertainment.