Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

We women are funny creatures (or maybe it's just me). We do crazy things in order to find and keep love. When I was single and dating, I remember thinking I had to be perfect so that some poor sucker would actually want to marry me. I say that partly in jest -- partly. When I was a teenager, guys weren't exactly knocking down my door. Oh, I had dates, but I just wasn't in high demand, if you know what I mean. I cannot tell you how many nights I spent by my phone waiting for this guy or that guy to call only to be disappointed when the phone didn't ring. I hate to think of the hours of my life I wasted waiting - hours I will never get back! In those days, I was desperate for a steady boyfriend, because if you don't have a boyfriend you are worthless, right? Now I know that I had a terrible outlook on life, but back then I craved male attention (and that is never a good thing).

When I was in high school, it seemed that most guys thought of me as their best friend. I was one of the guys even though I was not a tomboy. I was the girl that everyone's mother loved because I was friendly and 'a good girl'. When I went to college, I had more dates, but nothing too serious. I fell into the party scene and ran away from the Lord. The Lord never quit calling to me no matter how much I ignored Him. I gave attention to people who cared nothing for me and turned my back on the One who loves me more than anyone.

After college, I kind of came into my own. I was back in right standing with God and my phone was ringing off the hook. I dated lots of different men. Some good, some not so good. I met hubs in September 1997. He had just transferred back home (he is from this area) from Chattanooga. He was dating someone who still lived in Chattanooga. My stepdad introduced us - we all went out to eat one night. Steve ended up taking me back to my apartment and asking for my number. He didn't call for a year and a half. In that time I dated lots of different people, but none that really were 'prospects' for marriage. Steve called me after that year and a half and when I realized who was calling, I almost hung up. After all, my days of sitting beside the phone were long over. But, he was nice and I decided to give him another chance. We were married six months later.

You see, when I was young, immaturity caused me to chase after love. I remember my grandfather telling me not to marry the first guy that asked me. I thought that was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. I thought it was impossible that more than one man might be slightly interested in me, much less ask me to marry them. In my teens, I had no idea what life was REALLY like. My life was contained in a small fish bowl called high school. But once I got out into the world on my own, I realized that I don't have to fight to get love and keep it. A love that is contrived is a lie and I finally learned that around the age of 24 (I am a slow learner apparently).

It is odd that I spent my younger years trying to catch a man and keep Him when THE MAN - God - was right there all along. He called to me when no one else would. He loved me when no one else did. He thought I was beautiful when everyone else thought I was 'okay'. (Could you ever think of one of your children as ugly? - Neither can God) He loved me when I left Him. He loved me when I acted like the rest of the world. He loved me and welcomed me when I asked to come back home. He has done for me what no other man (including Steve) has done. Too bad it took me so long to realize that He is the man I was looking for all along.

We do strange things to get human love and we do strange things to keep human love, but what is even more strange than anything is how we overlook Everlasting Love. The Bible tells us that 'God loved us and sent His son'. It tells us that we didn't do anything to deserve His love and there is nothing we can do to keep it. There are no hoops to jump through when it comes to God - we just come to Him and He opens His arms. Once we are saved, we need to continue to confess our sins, but we don't have to try to keep His love. Once you belong to God, you always belong to Him. It reminds me of an old song that is actually a paraphrase from the Bible:

I know not why God's wondrous love

to me He hath made known

or why, unworthy, Christ in love

redeemed me for his own, but

I know whom I have belived

and am persuaded that He is able

to keep that which I've comitted

unto Him against that day.

If there was something we could do to lose our salvation, He wouldnt be a very powerful God. It is a cheap grace that would allow our works to save us. My husband grew up in a church that taught a works salvation (which is contrary to scripture). It is a heavy burden to bear when you have no security in your salvation. Salvation through works does not exist and it is purely false theology. Jesus did all the work on the cross - we didn't do anything to earn our salvation and we surely arent powerful enough to do anything to lose it. Jesus said in John 10:28, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand". That, my friends, is good news--no, it is GREAT news.

Here are a few of my favorite verses that talk about eternal security in Christ:

Ephesians 1:13-14

And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

Matthew 18:12-14
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! 14 In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.

John 6:39
And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.

John 17:12
During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold


Anonymous said...

We ladies have such a warped sense of love don't we? For me, I fell victim to Disney's "and they lived happily, ever after" syndrome. Thank goodness for God's grace and mercy and most importantly, love!

BTW, I love the pictures of your boys in the sidebar. So glad God gave you little boys for you to train and shape and mold into future godly husbands!

He Knows My Name said...

so much of my growing up was the same only i experienced these things earlier. i see so much of myself in my daughter. she is learning slowly and picked a bumpy road to travel down and it is so hard to watch. i too know now where my self worth comes from although i do believe lies now and then. those verses in matthew are some of my most favorite.

bethanne you write so well. i always enjoy what you say. it always comes straight from the heart onto the pavement where i walk. thank you and God Bless You!


Alana said...

What a beautiful testimony. You need to save that in case you ever have a daughter. Or share it with some teenage girls in your church. A beautiful message!

Renee said...

Very well written. I always enjoy reading your posts...I can tell you have a fun, goofy personality, but also a ferocious love for the Lord. It's a great combination. :)

The new picture of your boys is great!! Cuties!!

And wow...what a great message. Why are some of the simpler things sooo hard to grasp? I'm the same way. I was almost engaged (parents were already asked, and plans made both times...we were just waiting for the 'right time')twice before I met my husband. And now, I am SOOOOO thankful that I didn't marry either of those men.

I am eternally grateful that God knows what is best for me better than I do. :)

Fran said...

I agree with Alana....you need to use that with your youth girls at church....that is beautifully said.

Thank you for sharing and reminding us of our worth in Jesus.


Earen said...

Amen, you preach it sister!! I couldn't have agreed with you more. And yes, we women think that if a man doesn't love us that we don't amount to much. It too was a hard lesson for me to learn, but once I completely surrendered then low & behold my husband appeared. A great post Bethanne.

Jennifer said...

How true this post was to my own testimony and I am sure to so many others! God is so good! The funny thing is, the things that defines us as "dumb women" are actually gifts from God that we misuse or are manipulated into using for the wrong purpose. I love being a woman now that I have figured out how it's for the LORD's glory! Wonderful post!