How To Know If He’s In Love With You

As a business graduate, there’s one rule I got out of my accounting classes that I continue to live by today: never assume unless otherwise stated. Being such a stickler for rules, I made sure to adhere to this one. Apparently, that one went down for better and for worse. I literally never assumed – even if my discernment already told me otherwise and even if I no longer needed discernment because the man’s intentions were already so blatantly obvious.

The good thing is that through the muddy process, I learned that more than holding on to that rule, it was even better to hold on to wisdom.

And it was wisdom that taught me when to confront and when to step back. It was wisdom that taught me when to put up walls and when it’s okay to keep them down.

I’ve noticed that females have this reputation for being assuming. I will in no way defend that because I have been so deliberate to not turn out like that, but I also want to say that to a degree, I get why most girls assume. We live in a world where muscles and ego have been given a premium over humility and where ladies are frequently treated like a commodity (cat-callers, anyone?). It shouldn’t come to us as a surprise that when someone acts like a gentleman, the receiving end can turn it into something more than it actually is. It has become difficult for us to believe that someone can actually take us home and feed us good food without requiring anything more than friendship in return. And since we have a culture that glorifies casual relationships and blurred lines, the difficulty in identifying when a gesture means something and when it doesn’t becomes even more intensified.

But beloved, none of these actually justify anything. I am here to tell you a simple truth: if a guy truly likes you, he wouldn’t lead you on. A guy who has it in his heart to serve you will let you know very clearly what he wants. Furthermore, he won’t just tell you or show you he likes you, he should then proceed to pursue a relationship with you.

I vividly recall writing a blog post on how relationships shouldn’t be tied down to a formula, because they truly shouldn’t be. There is no one formula. But when it comes to this part of the relationship, a man’s pursuit, there’s really no way around it: a man in love with you will love you.

Love does not dishonor you nor does he defraud you.

Love is not self-seeking. Love does not go beating around the bush because he might get rejected. Love lays itself on the line because he would rather get hurt now than hurt the beloved in the long run.

Love rejoices with the truth. Love is intentional, clear, and does not attempt to confuse.

Love always protects. Love guards your heart and does not force his way in. Love guards the eyes of others because he does not want to taint your reputation nor your testimony.

Love perseveres. Love pursues.

Love does not tell you he loves you just so he can get it off his chest, knowing that it might confuse you. Love does not show you he loves you if he’s not ready to back it up with clarity and commitment.

I’ve been in both the situations I just stated above. Men have told me they loved me just so I knew, without any intention to do anything about what they said they felt. Whether I was interested or whether I was not, it always ended up one way: me cutting the guy off for a season. Why?

Here’s the thing: if a guy really wants to be with you, then it wouldn’t have mattered if you lived halfway across the world, he would still commit himself to you. The fact that someone would tell you that he has feelings for you without any plan of action shows that he’s not ready to take responsibility for his emotions. As women, we can make as much excuses as we want regarding why he just can’t commit right now, but those are just mere facades to cover up the truth you don’t want to admit to yourself.

Don’t allow yourself to be kept on the hook. You wouldn’t want to spend your life waiting on a man who claims he loves you but has no guts to actually ask you out.

On the other hand, men have tried to “make paramdam” (drop hints) without actually giving clarity as to why they do what they do. Now please, make no mistake in this and don’t assume the guy is dropping hints about liking you when he’s actually just being nice to you.

But since you’re already on the fence about it, the best thing to do either way is to ignore. If you’re sure that a guy is trying to “damoves” and he’s not offering a shred of explanation, then ignore him and don’t give him the time of the day. Just stop entertaining him. If you think that a guy is trying to “damoves” but you’re not sure if he actually is, then ignore the thought and don’t give it the time of the day. Don’t dwell on it until he actually goes and says something to you. The last thing you want to do is taint a caring friendship that was offered to you in purity.

If this guy is a part of your spiritual community, it’s best if you get to talk to his leader or mentor about it just so he can be guided accordingly. You would want to serve him as a sister. I also highly encourage you to talk to your leader or mentor to give you another perspective because you wouldn’t want to cut off someone who has been nothing but an honest-to-goodness brother to you.

At the end of the day, you draw your line. Confront when you feel like it’s already necessary to. If he won’t be clear, then you be clear about where you stand – and make sure you both know it.

When It’s Hard to Let Go

“Why did you even let the relationship go on for as long as it did?”

I looked my friend right in the eye and refused to budge my line of questioning. Here was a man who fell in love with a lady he knew from the beginning wasn’t the one God had for him. He dove headfirst into the relationship, ignoring what he told me were frequent nudges from God telling him to let it go.

With a shrug, he met my gaze and said as frankly as he could, “I just gave in to my desires and before I knew it, I was in too deep.”

Just several weeks ago, I talked to a woman who knew she had to get out of a relationship and yet she couldn’t quite bring herself to. My heart broke for her because I knew exactly what it felt like to be in that position. Sure, this is a story I’ve heard from plenty of other people time and time again, but this is also a story I myself knew very well. I’m well acquainted with the turmoil that comes with knowing you need to let someone go and yet not wanting to.

I remember coming to the Lord and telling Him,

“I can handle breaking my heart over this. What I can’t handle is breaking his heart.”

The reply came immediately, quiet but certain.

“Would you rather break My heart then?”

So I chose to break his heart since what I truly can’t handle is breaking His heart. But while people at the time were highlighting the strength to obey as swiftly as I did, they didn’t see the plethora of emotions surrounding that decision nor did they witness the horrid mess that I was afterward.

The Lord had to deal with several fears in my heart, fears that may be hindering you from letting go of the person you know you’re supposed to as well:

1. Fear of hurting the other person

When you really care for someone, this fear supersedes your fear of hurting yourself. I know people who end up staying in a relationship for many months more simply because of this reason and while it may seem like a compassionate move, it always ends up hurting the other party even more in the end because he would have invested more time and emotion by then.

Let’s be completely honest here: there’s no way to break up with someone that will make him feel happy and fuzzy about it. It’s always going to hurt. So when you know it has to be done, just do it. You’re also robbing him of the opportunity of meeting the person you know is the one for him. This may be hard to stomach in the moment, but if your hesitations are really out of love for him, then you would want to serve him better by letting him go. It may be that the most loving thing you can do for him is to break up with him.

The world may have taught us that love means grasping on to something as tight as we can, but we have now found a love who would hold on to us. We can let it go.

2. “I won’t find someone like him again. I’ll never love anyone else the way I loved him.”

It sounds a tad melodramatic typed out like that, but this is a thought that is very common and very real. In actuality though, this is just an emotion that says it is the first time you’ve been this attached to a person. It doesn’t mean it will be the last nor does it mean you won’t find something deeper than that.

If I were being transparent, I would admit that it took me years to stop subconsciously comparing the men I meet with him. But eventually, I did. And I realized that I would never find someone like him because there is only one him and I don’t really want another him because there’s a reason the relationship didn’t work out in the first place. Now, I get to be found by Someone whom I love so much more.

3. Fear of being alone

The transition between talking to someone every single day to not talking at all is always very abrupt and it takes quite a while to get used to. The loneliness that hits afterward is understandable, but we don’t have to stay there.

The good thing is that more than having a good support system walk with you through it, the Lord doesn’t have qualms in proving that He is close to the broken-hearted. The intimacy I had with Him during that season of my life tasted much sweeter than the seasons before. In fact, sometimes I go back and revel in all the memories wherein He made sure that I never felt alone.

You may fear of losing the feeling of being loved but you are never not loved, not for a single second. And it is when you let that relationship go that you will experience a Love far greater than anything else you have ever known.

4. Fear of regret

Regret is such a tricky thing to deal with. See, there are two regrets that frequently arise from this kind of situation: regret of letting him go or regret of dating him in the first place.

There is always the could-haves and should-haves haunting us down and leaving us sleepless at nights. But reality is, things are as they are now. There is nothing we can do to change what we have done and the only way now is to move forward.

If you’ve made mistakes in the relationship before, then begin by doing what is right. If you’ve crossed physical lines, take action to be pure. If the relationship dishonors your parents, then make the decision to honor them. If there has been lies and deceit, then come clean.

God works for the good of those who love Him and we know that those who love Him follow His will. Trust that as you go with His plan for your life, God will be the One to work the story out into a testimony that brings Him glory.

Now, how do you know if the relationship is something that you should let go? I can’t quite give you a rundown of how to know. The truth is that you just know, but if I may kindly point out: the lack of peace in your heart should already be a tell-tale sign. Abuse, unhealthy patterns, and toxicity are also dead giveaways.

You may start to go on about making it work, and I am all about commitment, but here’s the thing: beloved, if the relationship is not of God, then it has already failed before it even got to begin. You don’t want to fight for something Jesus didn’t die for – and He died so you can have life to the full. Don’t be so consumed with holding on to what you think is good that you miss out on what God knows is best.

And when you do finally decide to let that person go, you need to stick with that decision. They do say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and the first few months truly are the hardest. You would probably be tempted to go running back to him, but stop yourself. Surround yourself with people who will not let you to second-guess yourself. You missing him and thinking about him does not mean you need to be with him. It’s an indication of the past, not the future.

If he does go chasing you around and continues to contact you, then draw the line. Don’t feed off the attention he is showering you. Him missing you does not mean he is the one for you.

I say this with utmost care and concern. The longer you leave yourself out of God’s will, the more consequences there will be. Let’s be frank here. You may be happy with him and he may emotionally satisfy you temporarily, but to your core you know that something’s missing. You can try to convince yourself that everything’s great, but you know something’s not right. Your relationship with God most probably took a hit as well because you can barely face Him anymore, knowing what He will say.

Do you really want to spend more time stuck in that limbo? Paul reminds us to throw off everything that hinders and to run with perseverance. That means determination to push through even when it hurts and even if it feels like you’re crashing to the ground.

I cannot promise you that you won’t hit rock bottom, but if you do, know that He is right there with you – He is the Cornerstone after all. Rock bottom can even turn out to be the foundation on which you are rebuilt and remade.

The best thing to do is to lift it all up to God in prayer. And I don’t mean the “God-please-let-us-end-back-together-after-we-grow-separately” type of prayer. I mean the prayer that acknowledges His will; the prayer that asks for His will be done no matter what that may look like. It is when you consistently place yourself in a posture of surrender that the regret about the past and the anxiety about the future become pretty much non-existent.

You may want to stay within what is familiar and hesitate at the thought of an infinite amount of paths sprawling out in every direction; you may balk at the picture of a future without the one person you thought was sure to be there no matter what road you take. But my dear, when doubt keeps us safe where we are, faith brings us to the pinnacle of living.

Let your faith become really real during this season of your life. Faith without action is dead and letting go may be the action step you need to take. God promises that the future He has for us is full of hope and while all may seem bleak in the midst of the turmoil, we have to be certain of what we do not see. We may not be able to peer into the fullness of the future but we have the only Light we need.

Oh, and my story?

Well I lived to tell the tale.

When I Say I’m Praying for [him]

I say a prayer every time I think of you. Every. Single. Time.

I pray that you’re allowing what the Lord is doing in you during this season.

That you are completely yielded to the Holy Spirit and where He is leading you.

That you are fruitful and growing in wherever you are, whatever you are doing.

I pray for you.

I don’t pray about us.

I do tell the Lord about what I feel for you and openly express my desire to be with you, but I do not want to nag heaven with cries and petitions of what I want and how I want you.

Not that doing so is wrong, but then is it really right? Am I even truly praying for you if my intentions revolve around me?

I refuse to highlight what I want and how I feel, no matter how incredibly tempting it is for me to do so. The last thing I want is to make this journey of praying for you about me.

If I’m going to passionately bombard heaven with relentless prayers about you, I might as well make them into prayers that are actually, well, for you.

For your benefit and for your good and for His glory in your story.

Whether that story includes me or not begs to be seen, but that doesn’t change a thing.

I choose to pray not with palms clasped tight but with arms open wide.

More than anything else, I pray for His will to come to pass in every area of your life.

I pray to see His glory shine ever brighter in and through who you are and who He is making you to be.

I pray that you live a life of His best; even if that means it’s a life that does not include me.

I don’t pray that you’ll be mine. Just that you’d be His.

How to Pursue Your Boaz (Like Ruth Did!)

Is there anyone here not familiar with the story of Ruth? So often cited in Christian circles as justification why women can make the first move, we look at her story with profound interest. I’ve always been intrigued by the lives of the women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus and every time, I find myself thoroughly enjoying the way they were, in their own ways, rather scandalous.

Every year starting December 1, I re-visit the stories of the people part of Jesus’ ancestry and so once again dwelled on the story of Ruth. I thought of her as scandalous in the sense that she went and “made the first move”, which I figured was acceptable in their context and culture, but I came to see that things went much deeper than that.

The overarching theme of Ruth was Naomi’s bitterness turning into joy as she saw God redeem her and her family. Ruth’s story is that of an outsider being taken in and shown love and mercy. It’s much more of a testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness than anything else.

Don’t we all want our love stories to look like that? Here’s how Ruth got it right.

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
-Ruth 1:16-18

Upon closer inspection, we could see that Ruth was anything but the take-control, aggressive woman we made her out to be. All throughout her book, we could only see one thing she was determined about: going where Naomi would go. In fact, it was when she was eligible to get married to younger, richer men that she decided to leave everything behind and follow wherever the Lord, through Naomi, would lead her and call her to. She basically gave up her right to live her life the way she wanted to.

Forgive me for saying this, but we have become a culture so obsessed with self. Instead of looking at our singlehood as an opportunity to serve, we see it as a time to focus on self.

I’m not saying that self-development and discovery is wrong in any way, but while we’re busy bemoaning our relationship status, complaining about the lack of available men, and scrolling through social media sites, children out there are dying of starvation, women are being sold and prostituted, and families are broken apart by sickness and poverty. We are present at every singles get-together and retreat, yet we wouldn’t even sacrifice a couple of hours to be of service to other people.

And then we have Ruth, who laid all of her to serve the person entrusted to her.

She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” She gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied.
–Ruth 2:7, 17-18

From the very beginning, her intention and her service was for her mother-in-law. Every decision that she made from the time her husband died was not to her own advantage. In fact, she basically shunned the thought of marriage and prioritized working and providing for Naomi. Her desire was not for herself. Naomi then had to be the one to convince her to get back in the game again.

And even then Ruth in her humility responded,

“All that you say I will do” (Ruth 3:5).

I think one thing a lot of us overlook is that when Ruth approached Boaz, she didn’t do so because he was the one she desired or because he paid attention to her. She did so because he was her kinsman and culturally, one of the few people who can redeem her family lineage and legacy. She did not do so out of her own volition, she did so out of submission.

Her act of going to Boaz did not speak “I like you Boaz so please marry me” as most of us would interpret it. What she was truly saying was, “In order to redeem the family name of Naomi, I am willing to be a living sacrifice and thus offer myself as your wife.”

Ladies, let’s be completely honest here. We all want to be in a relationship, but how many of us are ready to offer ourselves like that? And if we wouldn’t even let God refine our hearts to get to that point, then why bother magnifying your desire for a guy in the first place?

At one point or another, you have probably come across a Jim/Elisabeth Elliot quote, but I love this one certain line from a letter before they got married:

“Let not our longing slay our appetite for living.”

We’re all always longing for something. Love. Relationships. Family. Peace. Provision. Security. Health. Beauty. Purpose. We’re all longing – each and every one of us. Yet all of these must not in any way hinder us from living; from embracing and thriving where we are now, with what we have now.

I’ve talked to countless women who said they were praying to end up with a godly guy, only to find out 5 sentences later that they’re doing so in the throng of bars, speed-dating, and matchmaking sites. I’ve had single women older than me come up to me and ask me to write about how we live in a generation where men are afraid of commitment and pursuit, more so than any other generation before.

And I’m not going to deny the statistics. The trend goes far beyond the romance department. Working for the ministry, high on the list of our greatest, most pressing needs are male missionaries who would be willing to go places and spearhead certain pursuits. We have a huge pool of women volunteering themselves to go to the most dangerous of places because there is such a lack of men willing to rise up. (While I would love to discuss that in length, this isn’t quite the place or post to do so).

Either way, I believe that this does not at all hinder God’s stories for His children. Our frustration does not in any way give us the right to grab the pen from God’s hands and try to overwrite what He has already spoken. The fact that the cute office-mate you have is brave enough to pursue you does not change the fact that he’s not a follower of Christ. You being convinced that it’s your season to be in a relationship does not mean that you’re right.

If God wanted you married by now, then He would have found a way to bring a man into your life by now. It would certainly entail obedience from both sides, but He is more than capable of using the most unlikely of circumstances to, at the very least, get things moving. He managed to bring Eve to Adam when Adam didn’t even know someone like her existed after all.

The thing about the book of Ruth was that there was no angel visitation or apparent supernatural manifestation but her seemingly ordinary life was marked with divine orchestration – all started by her humble act of submission and catapulted by her obedience. Ruth did not just happen to end up in Boaz’s field, where he took notice of her, and it was no coincidence that he was her kinsman redeemer. It was all God, moving behind the scenes all along.

God writes the best stories, but only if you allow Him to hold the pen.

So if you really want to pattern out the way you approach your love life according to Ruth, then here’s how you can start:

Yield. Surrender. Obey.

Dear Ladies: Guard His Heart

We hear a lot about how we ladies should guard our hearts and we tell men a lot to guard women, but how often do we think about guarding the hearts of guys?

I know we tend to have general boundaries, yet I think now would be a good time to remember to set our boundaries not just according to our weaknesses but also according to theirs. It helps to know that these men are wired differently as individuals and have different triggers, and I believe it is always good to gauge where a man stands in his emotions and vulnerabilities even as you examine yours.

I’ve said this before in a previous post, but it’s worth repeating. When Solomon wrote that one should guard the heart, he was speaking about having wisdom in his heart and protecting it. And so this is a lesson that we should probably never outgrow, keeping this wisdom and guarding it.

Ladies, we’ve all probably heard of the people around us warning us about guys, how they’re only “after one thing” and how they can play around with emotions of girls. And while it is true that some certain guys do that, isn’t it also true that we can be considered just as “dangerous” to them? There is a reason that Proverbs is full of warnings against “the vixen.” We may be aware or unaware of our charms, but trust me when I say that men notice and it is because of such that we ought to be careful. I'm not saying don't be friendly. I'm not saying don't care. I'm simply saying that we have femininity that is considered alluring, and we can choose to use it either as a Delilah or as an Esther.

I want to tell you not to “casually” bump into him on the street. I want to tell you not to do things and even post things on Facebook in attempts to subtly catch his attention when you know he’s not yours to keep. I want to speak about how it’s possible for a girl to play so closely near the line, for no other reason than to see if he’ll show any sign of attraction. I want to go on and on about flirting and leading guys on and body language and a million specific things, but I won’t. I won’t give you a list of dos and how tos. I don’t need to. The only thing I need to tell you is to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself; to love the men in your life with purity and wish no harm – emotionally or otherwise – upon them.

Women, we have a part in inspiring, encouraging, and protecting the men in our lives, no matter how “big, strong, and capable” they already appear. They long for affection and love just as much as we do – and we may be unknowingly filling their tanks when we shouldn’t be. We have just as much power over their hearts as they have over ours.

In the same way, guard his heart from your tongue. Let’s admit it. We can be nagging and condescending and criticizing. We are able to build them up and tear them down with our mere words. Don’t use the power you have to demean, manipulate, or bash. Use your words to challenge, motivate, and set them free to become who they were called to be.

It’s so easy to say that it’s not our obligation and that it’s all up to them to fix their responses to what we do, but isn’t that extremely selfish? It may take a little more effort on our part to be aware of us and of others, but isn’t that what relationships are about? Isn’t that what loving is about?

Doesn't the fact that we're created from man's rib imply how we have a role in  guarding his heart?

It’s amazing to think that the Greek word kosmos translates to adornment in English. As a woman, your source of adornment comes from the source of the cosmos. You are most beautiful when you are immersed in His universe, filled to the brim with His love, grace, and joy, leaving a trail of stars wherever you go. And in the same way that people can feel either belongingness or loneliness as they stare off into the sky, you have the same ability to uplift and to bring down.

You can either pull people into your orbit and get them lost in sheer darkness, or you can show them galaxies of dazzling wonder and inspire them to get launched into worlds of possibilities.

Would you rather use your gravity to make them crash or to make them fly?

Dear Student: What To Do When You Like Someone

Dear Student,

I have something to say first, because maybe you have heard from some people that you should not like someone. Maybe you’ve been told that you’re too young to develop such attraction. I’ve had a lot of voices like that in my life. I grew up feeling condemned and sinful whenever I had a crush on someone because there were those who told me that I shouldn’t be having any crush at all. Having a crush meant I wasn’t fixated enough on God. Liking someone meant I would be distracted from God. Admiring meant I would be sinning emotionally. (If you have never heard these statements before in your life, you can skip ahead to the numerated part of this post).

Don’t get me wrong, I do understand where they were coming from and I appreciate the heart behind it. However, experiences like those left me scarred, dubious, cynical, shamed, and above all else, legalistic.

I actually haven’t liked a guy romantically for two years now. Not because I try not to admire someone, but simply because I haven’t found someone who captured my attention. It’s funny that it was when I graduated university that I lost those kinds of emotions, but I guess this is just the season God is placing me in now. However, I certainly have had my fair share of crushes – all when I was a student. And for most of that time, I felt extremely dirty because I was no longer “emotionally pure.”

So let me tell you something that will get that weight off your chest: it’s okay to like someone. It’s okay that you admire him. It’s okay that you feel something for her. It’s okay. You don’t have to suppress it. You don’t have to downplay it. I know your emotions feel so real, so acting like it’s not would be messy. Trust me, I tried. I would attempt to minimize my emotions, then I’d act on them, then I’d pull back, then I’d show emotion again, then things would get incredibly messy. 

And so through all my years of trial and error, I want to share with you the best way to deal with these emotions at that stage in your life:

1. Be honest to God and yourself about how you feel.

The faster you become transparent about it, the better. Don’t worry, God’s not going to strike you with lightning and He can handle your emotions. Thank Him that you have someone to admire and care for so much, then surrender those feelings to Him – don’t let them lead the way. Take a step back and listen to what He says about it. Because while you cannot imagine your life with this person right now, he or she might not what God wants for you – even if said individual is too amazing or attractive or perfect. 

You have free will, but you wouldn’t want to make any rash decisions based on the fleeting and fickle knowing that it might rob you from His best. Not to belittle what you think you possibly feel, but truly loving is different from temporary liking. 

My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes – many times – my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens – and it happens every day in some measure – I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.
-John Piper

2. Be accountable.

Don’t go spreading it around like a 5th grader. Tell your leaders, people you trust and look up to, and listen to their counsel. Tell the ones you know would guard you and look out for you, not the “friends” who would spread the fact around like a joke and stir up your emotions inappropriately even more.

3. Guard your thoughts

I am so sure you’ve heard Proverbs 4:23 used to tell you to be careful about how you feel: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” But while there is a good point to that, contextually, that is not what this verse is saying. If you read the entire chapter, you will find that this is a father speaking to his son, telling him to keep wisdom in his heart and to make sure he guarded this wisdom. And so this I tell you as you venture on the adventures of the heart: don’t be legalistic, be wise. Guard your thoughts and keep them pure. It’s not wrong to think about that person every now and then and to continually admire, but it’s wrong if that’s all you ever think about. Don’t stalk his social media accounts 24/7. Don’t overthink every little detail; don’t meditate on every single word he or she says. Don’t fixate on the person; fixate on Jesus. As you submit your emotions to Him, ask for the grace to take every thought captive and make them obedient to Christ. Let your thought life be that of all that is true, pure, noble, and praiseworthy. 

“Not to think of him was impossible. How to think of him was within her power.”
-Regarding Lady Helen’s affection for Wallace, The Scottish Chiefs

4. Watch your actions.

As your thoughts become captive to Christ, I hope your actions do too. Don’t be unnatural around him or her. Don’t take matters into your own hands, don’t grow impatient, and don’t take control. Don’t let attraction turn into manipulation. Don’t go under the guise of “group hangouts” or “study dates” with just the two (or three, if you add a thirdwheel) of you. Maybe it would be wise for you to talk or text less, even. If you’re friends, please don’t stop being friends but also don’t place yourself in positions that would stir you up even more. Let your fists relinquish control and with your heart wide open, hands off. 

5. Pray.

I have had students ask me if it’s okay to pray for a specific person they desire, and my answer is yes. There is really, really nothing wrong with that. God has always wanted us to be transparent about our desires, and to present this person before Him is as honest and vulnerable as it gets. It’s worse to stay within the line of praying “only for the qualities” while thinking of this someone, simply because you think that it would be wrong to ask God and thus you end up being completely untruthful to Him. Just be sure that when you pray, you are completely surrendering those emotions to Him. Be ready to submit to His will when He says no, and be ready to risk when the time comes and He says go. If you aren’t willing to adjust to the idea that God might say no and if prayers just make you obsess all the more then stop completely, because that is no longer love; that is idolatry.

6. Let Christ be your First Love.

Now don’t ask me if you’re allowed to enter into a relationship as a student, because honestly, I won’t say that you’re not allowed. That is not for me to dictate upon you. I don’t want you to follow a formula; I want you to follow Him. So check your heart, your thoughts, your intentions, your actions – is it still about God and what He wants for you or has it become about you and what you want? Be discerning, would a relationship cause you to compromise and sin? Would it distract you from your studies? Would it make you disobedient to your parents? If you answer yes, then take it from someone who entered a relationship when she was 12 years old (I was in 2nd year high school, mind you, and it was mostly out of rebellion): be careful about trading your destiny for something that is temporary. Because let’s be honest, teenage hormones can be immensely misleading. And I don’t think it really matters to God how cute you would be with this person if your relationship wouldn’t be of honor to Him.

“Everything is permissible” you say, but not everything is beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23). Your willingness to bend your values might mean that you’re only using that person to fill holes in your heart, and that is just setting yourself up for disaster. My dear, you may think you just have to be in a relationship now and all your friends may be in relationships already, but if you think of the fact that you’ll live up to probably 70 or 80, you’ll realize that there’s no need to rush. Know without a doubt that God makes everything beautiful in its time. 

“Our love for God becomes our scale to judge things: we do things and don’t do things because we love God.”
-David Bonifacio

The most important thing is you let your love and life (and lovelife 😂) flow from a place of deep adoration for God. Human love will fall short, and no one in this world can compare to the Lover of your soul. He is the only one who can fill your deepest needs and wants; He alone can satisfy your deepest longings.

And the only way to be sure that you are being wise about how you are handling your emotions is when you love Him most, when you allow yourself to be governed by His holy love. He is the standard of true love, and so let this be how we love– with a love that is patient and not self-seeking and protects; with a love that does not seek to be completed, but is already whole. 

Photo by Jah Sales

Dear Mr. Right: I Can’t Love You That Way Anymore

Dear Mr. Right,

Just a heads up: this might not make you feel butterflies or see hearts.

I’m assuming you’ve read the thousand of books and posts out there on the qualities “God’s Perfect Choice” should have. Of course you have, you’re a godly man. The truth is, I have always wanted you to be the epitome of what everyone would call “The One”. You know how some people say that from the very first time you lay your eyes on that one person, you just know? Well, I have a type. And this entire time, I have waited for that leap of recognition when I look at faces that pass this physical standard. I have held a list up to every guy who dares to get close to me, trying to see how many qualities on my list he lives up to, trying to rate and trying to see if he is you.

But maybe it won’t be that way for us. Maybe you look nothing like how I want you to. And so let me look for you not through the lens of this world and its superficial standards. Let me recognize you through your bubbling laughter and sparkling eyes, through your kind soul and compassionate smile. Let me see not how many barbells you lift at the gym, but how you arms are outstretched to those in need. Let me see not the brand of shoes you wear, but how your feet are willing to go wherever the Lord says so. Let me hear not how deep and melodic your voice is, but how you speak life, grace, and truth. Let me notice not how high you hold your head up, but how low you kneel before His Throne.

One of the main reasons I will love you so much is because you look like Christ. 

Yet amidst all these expectations and requirements, I realized that while having standards is most certainly not wrong, I was teaching myself to only love good people. I was conditioning myself to love you conditionally, and that the moment you start messing up, I can no longer consider you as God’s best. And I can’t love you that way anymore. I’m done claiming to be ready to love you when it’s actually on the basis of my preferences and comforts and pretensions. 

How can I expect you to never make a mistake when I constantly make mistakes too? How can I expect you to be forgiving and understanding of my issues when I refuse to even give any guy the time of the day because he has struggles? How can I say that I love you when it has become all about my standards and my happiness? 

I sincerely apologize for having diminished your worth to a formula; for thinking that your value is rooted in how convenient it would be to love you. I don’t want you to be a checklist I get to tick off. I want you to be real.

So know that I will also love you in the moments that you fall short.

I never want you to feel as if I would judge you just because you lost control over your anger or had a murky past. I never want you to think that you have to be the poster boy for Prince Charming to gain my affection. All I expect of you is that you love God above everything and anything else; I expect you to revere Him and adore Him and live out your life in light of who He is.

Still even then, I know there will still be mess-ups. You’re going to make mistakes and so am I. We’re going to hurt and we’re going to fight because fairy tales and chick flicks are just that – fiction. But what we have is better. What we have is not a story of pretend written by human hands, we have one written by the Author of the Universe – full of plot twists and conflicts for we are to be refined all through out this journey called life. I doubt that it’s going to be easy, walking on this path together, but there will be no balking the moment things get tough and there will be no running away. There will be love, there will be understanding, and there will be repentance and forgiveness.

See, I don’t want us to be like couples who claim to have missed out on “The One” and that they married the wrong person. My love, to me, you don’t become “The One” when you have fulfilled my preferences; you become The One the moment we say, “I do” – that’s why the path to you must be filled with reason and guidance. You remain to be The One even when you fail and even when times get rough. And though you will change through the years, that wouldn’t change a thing because I know that I would have married a person, dynamic and changing, not a list.

To be honest, I’m writing this more for my sake than yours. I have always been obsessed with getting things right, but I am done having criteria that are selfish and are driven by my individual desires. I’m doing this to remind myself that The One I’m waiting for is also a human being – and I wouldn’t have him any other way.

And so tell me, tell me about the universe hidden inside of you, show me the darkness, and let me point out all the stars I see. Let me commit to you not with knowledge of my ideals, but with knowledge of your faults and your weaknesses. Let me love you not only because, let me love you in spite of.

For while the process of choosing you would mean the need for wisdom on the basis of clear thinking, being in a relationship with you would be driven by wisdom on the basis of God’s unconditional love. And so when I dive into this adventure with you, it means witnessing both wonders and horrors; it means embracing the beauty of mystery and uncertainty.

When I love you, I love you completely – past, present, and future; mess and all. When I choose you, I don’t choose by formula, I choose by faith.

And it is with faith that is neither blind nor naïve, with eyes fixed on The One who first loved, that we’ll get this right.

(Dear Church): Stop Vulgarizing God

“The basic trouble with the Church today is her unworthy conception of God.”
-A. W. Tozer

This topic has been placed in my heart months before, but whenever I try to write on it, I stop in fear that I might get it wrong. No subject intimidates me more than the nature of God, for who am I to dare capture the wonders of God in a page. Yet I know I could run no longer. And so I speak, fully acknowledging that there are people far worthier to speak of this, but also acknowledging that this is something God is asking me to do. As you read this, I hope you be conscious all through out that we tread on incredibly holy ground.

I would never, ever dare add to or subtract from the truths that God has spoken. However, I hope you understand that as much as I try to speak of God in a manner that is as worthy of Him as possible, I also try to speak of this in a way that people would understand. No word can ever capture the immensity of God, but I will try to convey all of this as eloquently as possible. I do not wish to balance out God, for God cannot be balanced. He just is, and so I will simply declare who He is.

Let’s begin.

I cannot count the number of times I have felt the Holy Spirit grieve when people belittle who God is. From Christians using “Praise the Lord, Hallelujah!” as a joke to ministries making God out as how they want Him to be, we have come to a time wherein God’s holiness and perfection are trampled by culture. “Oh my God” and “Jesus Christ” have become common expressions, with a Tagalog counterpart coming out as “Jusko Lord” – and we hear these coming from our own mouths as well, don’t we?

It’s startling to think that we have lost how powerful God’s very name is. His name is holy and sacred, and it isn’t something to be taken lightly. We have put God in the backseat, talking to Him when it’s convenient to us as we drive our lives down the roads we want to go, as if speaking to the holiest and most powerful being in the universe doesn’t deserve our utmost attention. We get bored reading the Bible, like the fact that the One who seats in heavenly places, surrounded by angels adoring and worshipping His every move, wants to convey His heart in words to mundane mortals such as us is not a wonder in itself. We do ministry like God should be grateful that we do work for Him, acting as if the very breath we take and every move we make is not done through His grace and power.

I recently talked to a friend who was in a standstill in her relationship with God. I was digging deep until she said the magic words… “I’ve known God for so long, I feel like there’s nothing new anymore. And besides, there’s nothing wrong with a little compromise since it’s not exactly sin.”

There’s nothing new because as a generation, we have chosen to magnify “God is love” while ignoring the rest of His attributes. A “little” compromise isn’t seen as sin because we have neglected the holiness of God. “God is love” “Jesus is Savior” “God is good” – THE END. As if that’s all there is to Him. It’s time we allow God to break the boxes we have placed Him in, because He is so, so much more than just love and just good. We have to stop letting ourselves be fooled by theology that feels nice, and we have to see God for who He truly is.

I have heard people justify things that are not pleasing to God by saying “God loves me and He wants me happy.” Let me stop you right there. Anything that goes against what God has spoken in the Bible is sin, and sin goes against the very nature of God. I’m not saying God doesn’t love you, I’m saying that He immensely does. And because He loves you, He wants you to stop being caught up in that limbo that you’re in. Yes, He wants you to be happy, because He is such a good God. But He wants you to be happy in truth. And the truth is, God cares more about your holiness than your temporal happiness.

These days we have somehow come to perceive God as a father in heaven who is pleased with every single thing that we do. We think that being a good father means that He should support whatever it is that makes us happy. But that’s not true. It may go against what society says is a good parent these days, but a good parent disciplines and makes sure we’re on the correct path. A good parent aligns us to our God-given destinies, not let us be pulled further away in fear of hurting us. And that’s exactly the kind of parent God is. Him loving you doesn’t automatically mean He’s pleased with the choices you make and the things you do. 

That being said, Exodus 20 clearly states how God is a jealous God. And because He loves you, He doesn’t want to share your heart with anything or anyone else that will take His place. To defend your sin by bending who God is now means that you have allowed something else to overtake God’s place in your heart. Indeed, God hates the sin and not the sinner. In fact, God has sent His Son to die for the sinner. On the basis of God’s love, He has extended His grace and has extended His patience until the Day of Judgment comes. But if the sinner fails to accept His grace and consequently follow Him, then let me say this: on the basis of God’s holiness and justice and righteousness, this same God who encompasses love will eventually send sinners to hell.

I know it’s uncomfortable to think about. It’s making me uncomfortable just by writing about it. But it has to be said. God’s truth is supposed to challenge our innate desire to please what is of the flesh; it’s supposed to go against what has been so deeply ingrained in our culture. As Francis Chan put it, there is a need for those of us within the Christian bubble to look beyond the status quo and critically assess what is in the Bible. We cannot pick out just what we want to hear and believe, then set out to live according to one chapter. God is unchanging, meaning that who He was in the Old Testament is exactly who He is in the New Testament. Don’t think that God was more judging in the Old Testament and more loving in the New Testament. You will also find mercy in the Old Testament and you will also find commands of self-denial and obedience in the New Testament.

Can you imagine how much it must pain God that He is only desired for one of His attributes? It’s like your spouse telling you he likes you because you’re sweet – and only because of that! Our relationship with Him in no way changes who He is; it changes who we are. Think of it this way: it’s like being married to the President of the United States. We have the privilege to talk to him any time we wish to, but it doesn’t diminish who he is. He is still the most powerful man on earth. It is thereby us who have been elevated to being the First Lady. And so I beg of you, be extremely careful how you choose to view God, for this will drive your life. Stop taking Him for granted. Reflect on Matthew 7:21-27, and work it from there.

God is infinitely love, and I cannot exaggerate the goodness of God. It is this love that draws me closer to Him each and every day. I am incredibly grateful for His mercy and grace that sustains me (Isaiah 63:7). He is the Father that awaits the return of the prodigal son; the One whose arms I can run to and trust to embrace me (Luke 15:11-32). He is the Savior who came to serve and to reconcile sinners to the Father; the One I call a Friend and can tell anything to (John 15:14-15). He is the Spirit that surrounds and leads and dwells in His children; the One who comforts and encourages me (Psalm 143:10; John 14:15-29). Yet He is also the God of wrath, who righteously judges and condemns the wicked (Psalm 7:11-16; Romans 1:18-32). He is the Master who asked the ones closest to Him to deny themselves and suffer for His sake (Matthew 16:24). He is the Eternal Truth that convicts sinners and is grieved whenever we vulgarize Him (Isaiah 63:10).

It’s hard to put together, I know it is. But this is where faith comes in. We trust what is written in His Holy Word, and though we can’t fully grasp it, we trust in His mysteries. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than our ways (Job 38-39). He is such a complex, beautiful being, and it would be an honor to get to explore Him all the days of our lives. I’m incredibly grateful to be part of a spiritual family that acknowledges God’s all-encompassing glory, and I pray that you have such people to walk with too. I hope you don’t mind as I directly pray now.

Father, thank You for all the love that You have showered upon us. Thank You because Your kindness leads us to repentance and that it is by Your grace that we are able to see Your glory. Jesus, thank You for bridging the gap so that we may approach the Father in this way and Holy Spirit, we ask that You open our eyes to the things unseen, open our eyes to Your truth that we may enjoy walking with You all the days of our lives. Cleanse us from previous beliefs and break our mindsets, no matter how painful and uncomfortable it may be. Rid us of our unrighteousness and iniquity as You make us Christ-like and call us holy. Meet us where we need You and how we need You. Father, we long to know You. Give us the hunger to read through Your word that we may know You beyond what we hear from others. May we experience You beyond an intellectual manner, and may Your Spirit lead us into freedom; may Your presence surround us all the day of our lives. Surround us with people who will walk with us as we get deeper into the chambers of Your heart. We utterly adore You for all that You are. Thank You for Your wonder and mysteries, thank You for Your infinite glory. Please come for us. This we ask in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Loving a Cheater

Your eyes hardened in defensiveness as I confronted you with your mistake. I could hear the way your pride is telling you to just leave, just walk away, to go with who you cheated on me with.

You know, someone once tempted me to stray from my love, too.

The only difference is, I chose love.

I chose you.

Even if it meant waiting for years.
Even if it meant chasing after you repeatedly as you reject me.
Even if it meant being taken for granted as you choose other things that capture your fancy.

You see, I knew your issues even before we entered this relationship.

I knew how easy it was for your heart to be captured by another one’s shallow, sugar-coated words.
I knew how you had the tendency to look for loopholes so you could justify your sins.
I knew how you succumb to moments of pleasure with another only to run back apologetically into my arms.

I knew exactly what I was walking into.

My love is not blind.
I see you exactly as you are.
My love just doesn’t change its mind.

I’m rightfully jealous, I’m rightfully angered. But my heart holds no hatred for you as I wait for you to decide.

You act
As if you’re the victim
As if I’m still just an option
As if your betrayal could be justified.

I’m nailed to a cross
My arms wide open,
My head hung down,
My blood pouring out from my side.

Oh sweetheart, remember.

I chose you.

It cost me everything, but I chose you.

And I still choose you.

So please. Choose me, too.

And this time, please give me all of you.

I wrote this as I was thinking about how vulnerable God can be to us, how we actually have the capacity to bring Him pleasure or pain. I remember a time when I fell into sin and I felt the Holy Spirit grieve. In the moment, I felt my heart shatter as I cried in remorse. I couldn’t believe I offended God that way, and as I thought of all the times I have sinned (which I couldn’t count because there are so many times!!), I was startled with the realization that that was how I break His heart each and every time I lie or gossip or choose my will over His. Every time I sin, I say that the God who formed the universe and breathed life into me is less important than my temporary gratification. Yet in His love, I feel Him accept my heartfelt repentance as He wrapped me in His arms and He sung innocence over me. It changed me forever.

I just want you to know, everyone has fallen short of His glory. Every. One. But none are too far from His grace. Don’t be afraid to approach Him as you do so with a heart that is fully repentant. He’s waiting for you with arms wide open, He’s waiting for you with a heart full of love and forgiveness. Just take that first step and trust me, He’ll meet you where you’re at. Then allow His love to change you radically from the inside out. 

And so my prayer is that you realize that all sin is equally serious, no matter how seemingly big or small, and it is all an act of rebellion against God that can never be justified. I pray that you will be more concerned about how sin grieves the heart of God rather than just gaining personal victory, and so you will cultivate a heart that is pure and pleasing in the sight of Him who sits on the throne. I pray that you will open your heart to all the grace that He has poured out for us so you can be free from the chains and bondages of sin. And I pray that you will remember what it cost Him to love you, and that you will love Him at whatever cost too.

New Year’s Resolution: Move On

I had a New Year post all planned out, and it was sooooo not this.

It’s December 30, we just had dinner at CJH, and dad’s driving to visit our tito’s house. We were joking around until out of the blue, I felt an onslaught of emotions overtake me – emotions that I have not felt for a very long time, emotions that had absolutely nothing to do with where I am at the moment. And so among chatter, I sat in the backseat, riding along the laughter while hiding my face in the darkness with tears streaming down my face, wishing my voice did not break as I tried to act normal.

Every day for the past couple of days before this, I was looking back at my year and would simply thank God because I could not think of a day that He did not come. 2015 was the best yet, it was filled with adventure and growth and love, and I was so grateful for everything I experienced this year. I was so happy that it felt like my heart was going to burst of joy, so to say that this sudden outburst caught me by surprise would be an understatement.

See, I thought I was okay. I thought I completely let it go. So as I searched my heart and as I asked God, I couldn’t help but flash back to Abraham, because what happened with him and Isaac was something I always connected to. I have not wanted anything more in my life, but I laid it there before the altar and I plunged the knife through. I could say that I surrendered, because as much as I wanted to take it into my arms, I released my sticky fingers and just let God do what He wanted. And so while my cousins and siblings were out there in the living room laughing and playing board games, I was inside a room crying yet again, asking Him why, why make me feel this way again when I have not thought about it for months. Then His quiet voice pierced my soul with the answer.

“Because you have been waiting for a resurrection.”

I was stunned. But deep in my heart, I knew I was. I kept a door open just in case, and somehow that meant that all doors to other possibilities remained closed because I still wanted it most. Let’s put it this way. For example, God said no to a job. I submitted to it and completely delved in the season God put me in now. Yet a part of me remained hopeful that God would bring that job back to me when I’m ready for it. And there would be other wonderful job offers coming my way but I would turn them away because I was waiting for God to open a door to this specific job again, this one that deep in my heart I desired most. I didn’t think that there was anything wrong with it. I was just staying open, what was so wrong with that?

Then it hit me.

I may have let go, but by not exactly moving on, it’s like saying I knew better than God, it’s like saying I knew what’s best for me still. Why keep a door open to something God has said no to already in the first place? I was hoping He would change His mind; I was hoping somewhere down the line, He had a grand restoration story planned out. But killing it at the altar meant that I had to accept the possibility that my story would be different from that of Abraham’s, and that there will be no giving back.

And I know a lot of people who surrender convinced that if they do it now, they can have it back later. In fact, I came across a beautiful song by Moira Dela Torre, and the lyrics go “kung di pipilitin ang di para sakin, baka sakaling maibalik” (if I don’t force what’s not to be mine now, maybe some day it will be). Doesn’t that echo our hearts? That if we obey and surrender now, we can have it back when the timing is better. Now it’s not that I’m saying He won’t give it back, because God is a God of resurrection. Yet as far as I know, He only brought back to life those that He willed to do so. Not one story fits all. Of course, we all want that story to be ours. But if He resurrected everyone, could you imagine earth right now?

Don’t get me wrong. God listens to our desires, and He loves giving us the desires of our hearts. But there’s also this tension that He won’t, because He has something better planned out for us. 

God is a personal God, so my story might not be yours too. But surrender means forever laying down your plans. And so whether or not He calls the fire to kindle again, I pray that the desire of His heart be our outmost desire.

I believe that 2016 is to be of wider borders, grander adventures, and greater stories. So if God asks you to leave something behind in 2015, I pray that you do and that you bury it there because He has so much better things to give you this coming year. He can’t give you what He has planned for you if there’s still something occupying your hands. Don’t be afraid of walking into 2016 empty, as long as you’re walking into it surrendered to His will and completely by faith. Make way for new seasons, new beginnings, and new stories. 2016 is going to be glorious, for His glory will overtake us. 

“…One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:13-14‬ ‭

Have an incredibly blessed new year, and may your days be filled with His presence! ❤️