He Is Not Your Prince Charming.

Photo by Tim Monson He is not your Prince Charming

My heart has been heavy with the burden of relationships. The story of this American country and the facade of a "perfect couple, match made in Heaven" is destroying, not only the relationships, but the humans within them. We are told that if we look hard enough, there is one out there who will: •Come to our rescue at any given moment •Let us walk all over them, using them for our personal gain, and call it "love" •Understand our every emotion, our every word, and our every part of us without needing any sort of explanation. "They just know you." •Meet the {unrealistic} expectations that this facade of perfect boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife brings; the unrealistic expectation to be our core identity, to cheer us up every moment we are down, to carry us when we are broken - even though they may be broke n, to literally be our source of life & joy.

Oh how full of self this is. The idea of this person {the "one"} is destroying individuals far and wide. When, not if, but when the boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife fails to meet these {unfair} expectations, the person expecting them feels, what? Worthless. Value-less. Empty. Not good enough. Not attractive enough. Completely worthless. I know, because I have felt it. I know, because I set those subconscious unloving expectations on a human at one point, for two long and quite miserably empty years. The poor man. When he continuously did not meet the savior-like-expectations, I made certain he knew. I was sure to passive aggressively let him know how unloved and how imperfect and how value-less I felt. I made sure he knew that I was doing all I could to give him value, because I am simply the best, and yet he completely dumped my value on the ground to stomp on.

But that's just the thing, girls {and probably guys}. He didn't devalue me. He wasn't the one to remove my worth.

I did that.

I removed my value because I placed it in him. And he is a human and a human has no possible way to give me 100% value, peace, joy, and meet my every dying breathing physical, spiritual, emotional need.

I was so empty that I craved the attention of a human who would devour me with his own human-need.

My story changed. My story changed from the girlfriend: who was never satisfied, who felt empty but would never dare admit it, who craved to marry this man in hopes it might make him "love her," who dressed and changed her hair the way he said was attractive, who gave too much of herself in hopes that he might "love" her and better yet marry her {because we all know that marriage makes life easier...boy, oh boy, the lies}, who waited every minute of the day for this boyfriend to text or call her; I was once the girl who dreamed of a perfect Prince Charming to swoop her with romance, who wanted desperately to know she was loved, valued, cared for, worth fighting for...my story changed from those chains and restrictive ideas to a story of a love so great that I overflow it into the man {who is my husband} who cannot possibly be enough. He cannot be "enough" by the standards above, because he is human. Don't get me wrong, Loren is such a great leader to me, so wonderful, amazes me every day, and loves me so well. I am struck with awe and gratitude time and time again, thankful that Jesus has given me as a gift. But he is human. And I cannot be "enough" because I am human. We would suffocate each other if we put these expectations on one another that the world says are attainable.

Together, our love story has become so great...greater than ourselves, and we get to overflow a powerful love into each other.

husband and wife washing feet How loving it is to remove the restriction that we use to trap a human; to release the savior-expectation is to love that person and it is freeing for all involved. In removing the expectation to be our identity, we actually allow the other person to flourish and grow. We don't hold their imperfections over their heads, as a tool of manipulation, but we walk in the freedom of grace. We allow each other to be human: perfectly imperfect.

All of our once emptiness is now filled with Him. With Jesus. Now I am filled so full of Jesus that I no longer crave the attention of a {hu}man who would devour me with his own need.

Ephesians 6: Bible

If only I could describe in words the complete peace I receive in the early, silent hours, reading His word and letting His presence soak my being.

If only I could describe in words the relief that washes over me when I remind myself that my identity lies in Him. Not my work performance, not my Christian life, not my wife-dom, and not in Loren.

If only I could explain the real and complete freedom I live in, choosing Christ as my Prince Charming, as my reason to breathe, as my purpose for life, as my identity.

If only I could explain the joy I am filled up with every time I get a chance to shower Loren with grace, because he isn't enough. He is imperfect. If only I could tell you the depth of gratitude I experience when he covers me in grace when I don't deserve it. Grace with no strings attached. Because with strings, that is not grace.

If only I could put into clear words the value I know that I have, because of His unending and fierce love for me. A love that expects nothing, but invites my heart's submission. If only I could describe the joy I receive every single time I choose to submit my heart to His word, which is His will.

Then, then you would not dare waste another day, wishing a mere human would meet your constant needs and desires. Then you would not live another day feeling empty, alone, value-less and worthless. Because your identity and value would come from Him, and you would know it, and you would be set free.

Photo by K. Barnes Photography

[You may or may not have heard of or read Diane Comer's blog. She is the mother of John Mark Comer, pastor of A Jesus Church in Portland, OR. One of her main lines and topics is one that has been heavy on my heart for years: "He's Not Your Prince Charming."]

You Are More.

You Are More; Newport Beach A {long} letter to all girls: whatever your circumstances are, you are more.

Dear 13 year old who desperately needs to be loved...

You crave people's approval and you so desperately want people to like you. You are afraid of their opinions and what they really think of you. You base your value off of what others say or think of you.

you are already worth more

O sweet girl, although a parent is quite absent, don't see it as a rejection of you. I need you to hear this: this is not a reflection of who you are, nor is it your fault. You cannot see this, but your parents are both hurting too. You will experience your first panic-anxiety attacks. You will think there is something wrong with you. You will be very tempted to physically scar yourself, attempting to escape the very skin that keeps you where you are. But all that will do is create more pain, so please take my word for it and don't. You are so much more loved than you can imagine! Soon, your fear of someday being a parent will begin to form : you fear hurting innocent children without even knowing it. Sweet girl, rebuke that fear for children are from the Lord. You can choose how to parent.

Dear sweet girl, one of your parents will leave for months because of a job. You will be at home to clean and cook, as well as attempt to care for your sweet little sister. You will begin to believe the lie that life might be better if they were divorced...oh sweet girl, rebuke that. Your heart will ache and you will smile to cover it up. But I want to encourage you to lean into the One who loves you most.

Don't being kissing tons of boys and pursuing the most superficial "love" ever known. You do not need to measure up to other girls, to what these boys think is "worth." You do not need to lower yourself to dirt by letting people think of you as a body. Pursue real love: Jesus; He loves you and wants so badly to hold your heart. You are so much more than you see yourself.  You. Are. More.

Dear freshman girl, you will meet a boy who pursues you; he is 17. That should be your first flag. He will treat you with no respect, and for a very sad reason, you will do almost anything he asks of you. For months. I wish you would listen when your heart tells you to stay away from him.  You are loved and beautiful and precious in the eyes of Jesus, and this is not what He wants for you. Flee.

Dear sweet 17 year old, it is 2009 and you will spend countless hours praying for your future husband. I commend that! How marvelous! 3 months into those heart felt prayers, you will begin dating a man-boy: he will not be your husband, despite both of your beliefs. He will hurt you and, listen up: you will hurt him. You both will turn inward and be so selfish that you believe you're selfless. You will both believe that someday you'll be married, so someday your bodies will belong to one another...and that lie only leads into mistakes. Sweet girl, you are more. Your body is sacred, and so is his. You do not belong to one another, in fact the very opposite. I want to tell you, scream at you, that you are creating deep wounds. I mean, deep canyon-like wounds that hallow out parts of your heart. Sweet girl, run from the pleasure of your flesh, run from the temptations that scream at you. I promise there is One who will and can make you whole, but it is not any boy that walks this earth today.

jesus

Sweet 17 year old, your home has become a hell of it's own. You are struggling to believe what is normal and what is not. The alcohol and absences have increased. When the people are present, the arguments are thundering. The darkest-possible-failure in your parents marriage is known by you and your sibling, but not the other parent. You will awkwardly sleep in different friends' homes, and think so lowly of yourself, that you will end up spending countless, uncomfortable, sleepless nights in your car. But sweet girl, I want to encourage you to go home more. Your little sister is trying to survive too, and you should not abandon her. Go home, pray with her, cry with her. Tell her she is beautiful and loved. Lean into Jesus instead of withdrawing from what's happening. Stop pretending and wishing that life is "perfect", because no one's is. Pretending to smile through struggle doesn't make you a good person or a good Christian. Be more honest with yourself and look outside of your circumstances. See the gifts, look at the calm forest that surrounds your chaotic home. Turn your face towards Jesus and He will give you strength.

Dear sweet 18 year old, you're still in high school and you will completely total your Honda Civic. You will be driving your baby sister and she will break her arm because of the wreck. You will stay in the wrecked car, while vehicles line up for miles behind you. You will beg God to take your life, dramatically but very truly dreading the moment you face your parents. You will be pried from your car, and watch it smoke to it's death. Please, instead of craving your own death, praise God for saving your life. Note the variety of people who have stopped to help: see the gift and know you're loved. Two people in your life will tell you for months, even years, how dumb you are because of this accident: don't let those lies hide in your heart. Reject and rebuke them. See those two people with love and grace, noting that they don't know how loved they are. You are more, sweet girl. You are more than your mistakes and people's hurtful words. You are loved and Jesus holds your heart safely, if you'll let Him.

Dear sweet girl, off to college and still dating that man-boy! You're going to miss out on so much, and while you're clueless about this, a good number of roommates are praying that you and this man-boy break up. You will hide in your room at House of Charis, crying yourself to sleep because he hasn't lived up to being your savior that you so desperately want him to be {although, you would never admit that is what you want}. You will ignore the constancy of roommates telling you that you are more: don't. Listen to their words, for they are from a King's heart. You are more and He brings you worth. He is in every corner of that house, His grace is in the walls itself; stop ignoring His beckoning love.

you are more and he brings you worth What is so sad is that you will be running from Him but you won't believe that fact for a second. Stop running from Him. Sweet girl off to college, your nightmares will begin to venture into a newer and deeper level: you will begin thrashing at night and screaming, you will wake up crying. Oh sweet girl, He is still with you, if only you'll look in His eyes and ask Him for His presence.

Dear sweet college girl, you will gain a roommate who will constantly illustrate what friendship is and what love is. She will wake you up for your night shift when you feel depressed, she will pray with you during your nightmares, and she will always encourage you towards Jesus. Within a week of knowing her, she will save your life when you are suddenly attacked with bilateral pulmonary embolisms. Wake up! Let this life-threat wake you up, precious girl. You are so asleep. Don't continue life in this miserable pattern, believing these wretched lies. Jesus has so much more than you're willing to accept! If only you would open your eyes wide, open your hands to receive.

Believe me when I say your roommate wants the best for your life and that someday you will consider her one of your closest friends. Be ready for the day she moves away and you feel as though your heart is ripped out. You will still see one another, after all. Don't let the lie dig its roots, the lie that you have just lost one more dear one. No, have confidence that your friendship will only strengthen.

Oh dear sweet, precious girl. It is the summer after your first year at college and the summer the depth-of-mess in your parents marriage comes to light. The reality is devastating for so many reasons and too hurtful of details. You honestly think you might die from a broken heart, and part of you wants to. You are going to spend countless nights walking in the dark, weeping your little blue eyes out. You will feel hopeless and helpless. The one you believe to be your future husband will only add to the pain. You have battled with wanting them to divorce, believing it must be better on the other side - but from where I stand, now that it has happened, I want to tell you that it really is no better. And as you begin to grow a hatred for both of them, I want to beg you not to. I want to ask you to be stronger than that, to lean into Strength Himself (Jesus) and patiently love your parents.  Your heart is going to tell you to read a book: Captivating. I know you've tried it before, but this time, read it for what it is. Listen to the message that Jesus has been trying to tell you. Let Him listen to you. Let Him hold you while you cry.

let jesus listen to you

Dear 19 year old: you will go to camp to volunteer for two weeks. Before going, {you're not going to believe this, but its true} you will write to man-boy telling him it is time to stop talking & that you each need to seek Jesus's heart separately. You will explain that you're unhealthy for him and he for you. You will begin praying for his heart, that he would also seek the love that Jesus has for him.  To this, I applaud you. I applaud you for leaning heavily into Jesus and His strength. Finally, you are realizing humans are not your saviors and you cannot be theirs. I commend you for begging Jesus, for the first honest time, to let His will be done in your life. The ashes will soon be shed and beauty will rise. Sweet girl, it is because you see! You see who you are, for the very first time, the silt has been removed from your eyes and you know you are precious! You know you are loved! You know you are accepted in the arms of a King who is mightier than anything you can dream! Oh sweet girl, in this moment when you stand on the sand dunes shouting praise to God for freedom, soak in the moment. For, you are free.

Dear sweet girl, you will soon (as in 3 days!) meet people who will drastically change your life. You will meet the Millers, the Petersons, the Evans, and your true to-be husband. The man you spent countless hours praying for in 2009. You will know the moment you talk with him, that you are marrying him, and it is going to frighten you, shake you to your core. The man you have been waiting for is here and for the first time, you feel like you need more time. But sweet girl, just like all of the moments before, Jesus is right here with you. I promise you that He is faithful. I give you my word that He is holding your heart and that His will is perfect. Believe me when I say that you will be more blessed in the next three months than your entire precious 19 years combined.

Oh sweet precious girl, you will enter into something you always told yourself you wouldn't: a long distance relationship. I know, I know, it doesn't sound like you - you like to watch every move of the person you're dating, you like to control the life and the moments and the memories, you like to make sure there is no possible way for them to cheat on you. But guess what, sweet girl? You gave Jesus your heart to do with it what He wants, and He is going to stretch you and strengthen you. He is going to show you that He is trustworthy. That you can lean into His arms when doubt rises and fear threatens. He is going to do miracles over the next year. Jesus is going to prove to you how special you are to Him, even though He doesn't have to.

- - -

Dear sweet girl, there is so much more that I wish I could share with you. This letter barely scratches the surface of the life you will live. But before I write a novel, I want to be sure you hear some things: The people in your life that hurt you, your family and friends, you cannot hate them. You cannot disown them. And please, for the love of humanity, do not hurt them with your words! Everyone gets hurt; that is part of living in this broken world. They are people too, and they are just as loved as you are. You must love them without fear. There are so many ways you will be hurt and one way you can always count on being healed: by leaning into Jesus and calling upon His mighty name. He is constant and He is perfectly loving you. He is your refuge and safe place - not humans of this world, but Jesus Christ. He is your King and He is your Creator.Do not fear when your life {feels like it} is crumbling. Do not believe the lies, sweet girl, that tells you that your value and worth come from ANYTHING except Jesus and His heart for you! Not your friends, not boys or men, not your parents, nor your youth leaders, not even your grades or your job! None of these things bring you worth. Hold tightly to His promises instead of looking at what is going wrong. Cling to His promises and share with others the confident hope you have.

healing

In all circumstances, look for the gifts that Jesus is showering upon you. If you do not see them, look deeper at the details surrounding you. You. Are. More.

- - -

If you know someone who doesn't know who she/he is, please share this with them. We all have circumstances and situations - no matter what they are, if they are causing us pain, they HURT. I cannot experience someone else's hurt nor can they experience mine - but together, we can remind one another who we are. And that we are more than we tend to define ourselves.