Hey guys, follow the link below to check out an article I wrote this week for Channel 31’s Teen Talk Production ….
“For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.”
I’ve been meditating on humility lately, and the amount of control we want over our lives, or think that we have. As I was praying the other day, my aim was to humble myself and submit to God’s will in a certain situation.
My boyfriend Jacques and I are currently waiting on a visa that enables him to move to Australia and us to marry. It would come as no surprise that I have been praying for it to get approved quickly. I want to get married and I’m not being very patient about it (although I am trying). I was submitting it to God and was about to pray, “Lord, even if it takes a year, that’s all right” but I stopped.
A year? Almost like I didn’t want to pray the prayer out loud and give God ideas about some super human test of endurance. I realised that when I say things like that to God, I think that I am giving him ‘permission’ to bring a trial my way, like we somehow have any kind of authority over him.
Submitting yourself to God’s timing is not giving him permission to dawdle or give you the longest wait time possible. We cannot twist God’s arm, and we don’t have the right to tell him what to do. He doesn’t need anyone’s permission, least of all mine. But I do have a choice as to whether I am content with his choices or I fight against them and become impatient, angry and bitter.
The circumstances may not change when we submit ourselves to him and his plan, but we will change if we humble ourselves and choose to have a good attitude, and ask God to change our heart. Your experience of a situation will transform. You can choose to thank God that he is working things out for your good, even if it doesn’t feel good in the moment.
One day God told me that if I could see with his eagle eye, his 20/20 vision, I would choose the same timing as him every single time. What a comfort. We just have to trust that his ways are perfect and that things will happen on the exact day, the exact hour that they need to.
He does the choosing.
“In you, Lord my God, I put my trust … Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Psalm 25:1, 4-5
Image: https://mirayagroot.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/quote-of-the-month-april/, sourced 12 November 2017.
I’ve always been a spender. I love to shop, I enjoy the thrill of spending money (it doesn’t give me a hernia like it does some friends), and I’ve never had much cash in the bank at one time. I would look at people like my sister with envy because even as young teenagers she always had more money than me. Always. And more chocolate, for some reason.
But my sister Hayley had always been good at maths. Budgeting seemed to come naturally to her and didn’t make her hair curl. I assumed that I would never be any good at it.
They say the first step is admitting that you have a problem. My bank account had already told me that. Repeatedly. Even though the three years I’d spent out of home after turning 18 had taught me how to manage enough to get by, I knew I wanted more than that.
I wanted to be able to nod along (and not be faking it) when people referred to a “savings” they could dip into. I wanted to become one of those people who didn’t have panicky money emergencies, one of those people who just saved for no reason (for many years the idea seemed pointless to me while there were still countries in the world that I hadn’t visited).
My financial life went something like this: save up a lump of money. Travel to a new country on my bucket list. Come home with nothing. Save up a lump of money… I was on a financial rollercoaster, and when my relationship with my boyfriend Jacques started to get more serious, I realised I needed to change my ways.
Unsurprisingly, my savings had taken me to Europe, on a Contiki trip, and while riding on the top storey of a red double decker bus in London, an almost-stranger gave me my first key.
- Open up a restricted-access savings account with a separate bank Thank you, fellow traveller (I don’t remember her name). So when I got home—with a considerable amount of credit card debt—I went to a different bank than usual and opened up a smart saver account, or something like that. When he offered to set me up with a debit card I responded with a “no!” that was probably too vehement. Then I explained that while I wanted it to be easy as pie to shuffle money across into it from my everyday account, I wanted to make it as hard as possible to get this money out.
Now almost a year later I haven’t removed so much as a cent from that account, so you could say it worked. Although I can transfer into it on my phone via the app, as well as check my balance, there are no outgoing accounts connected to it. So basically if I want to get my money out I have to go into the bank and beg them face to face, which I am too ashamed to do for the sake of a cute pair of shoes. In addition to this, the interest only accrues monthly and if I withdraw more than once a month I get slapped with a fee. Perfect.
- The Cushion Concept
My mum, Joanne, had also been noticing my lack of natural financial acumen for some time now. She had tried countless times to introduce some money-saving measures into my life, but every time she used the word ‘budget’ I would pretty much gag. Due to my strong aversion to maths, my budget when moving out of home had only lasted a week and a half (which my dad pointed out is the definition of not lasting).
Mum, because she’s a genius and was committed to helping me save, called me one morning before work and presented me with two principles. Now she was speaking my language. The first one was the concept of a financial cushion. She and I agree on an amount that I save towards as security in case anything goes wrong or unexpected expenses appear. Then if I do have to spend out of the cushion, my first priority (before a shopping spree) would be to get that cushion back up to the previous amount. We agreed on $2000, then once I had that comfortably, we could up it, and up it again … you get it. I had been riding by the seat of my pants and it had burned me more than once (for example, being stuck in a Mexican restaurant in Florida on a shakey wifi connection waiting for money to come through from my sister in Australia after I ran out of money so I could cross the street to the bus station and make my way across two states, back to South Carolina).
- The Cash System
Everyone is so quick to tap their Pay Pass these days but the problem is that it’s too easy to spend more than you realise. Cash is very visual and finite, so Mum also encouraged me to take out a certain amount of cash every week for spending (it can help to tell someone your amount to provide some accountability). This didn’t include rent, tithe, bills or petrol … things that didn’t really change week to week. It included all food, entertainment, gifts, shopping, and lately I’ve been trying to make it include my petrol as well.
I find the cash system very effective because it shows you how close you are to running out. But for it to work you have to make an agreement with yourself that you’re not just going to take more out if that lot runs out early. This forces you to plan your spending and you are more motivated not to spend on impulse things when you know you have social plans or another expense later in the week.
I never thought I would be able to say this but I can honestly attest to the excitement of reaching financial goals. With these measures in place, I have the most money in my bank account that I’ve ever had, my credit card balance is down to $0, a third of my car is paid off, and none of my bills come as a nasty surprise.
And all of this without doing maths.
(And thank you Mum for the wisdom.)
Image: http://www.broncocatholic.org/personal-budgeting-for-students.html, sourced 24 September 2017.
“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
– Charles R. Swindoll
I see this quote pop up on the TV screen every time I go to the gym and it gets me thinking. There are a million things in this world that I can’t control, but one that I always can: my attitude. In management we always say that the one thing we are not equipped to change is attitude. If you bring the will, we can train the skill.
Human nature says that it is easier to cast blame than to take responsibility. It is easier to blame our past, our circumstance, our lack of resources or time, or even the people around us for our lack of happiness or success.
In this video about white privilege, we see how two people can come from the same tough background and end up with two very different lives years later, because of the way they chose to react.
Working in female-dominated retail environments for the past 8 years, I’ve definitely heard kids and husbands blamed for a thing or two. We can blame our other halves for why we don’t do the things we dream of, then 10+ years down the track hate them for it, even though they didn’t necessarily stop us. We can blame our kids for the fact that we have no money, or energy, or aren’t able to travel. We can blame our teachers for our bad marks, the fact that we can’t afford a gym membership for our lack of fitness. Our kids for our body. The list is endless.
We can say that we just don’t have time for ____*insert dream here*____. As one of my friends pointed out recently, “Who doesn’t have five minutes a day to spend pursuing their dream?” That was so profound to me because yes, maybe you don’t have six hours a day to devote to your goal, but it’s a lie to say that you don’t have five minutes.
Life is all about choices. Every day we make plenty of them, and those choices make us who we are. The choice between right or wrong, hard work or laziness, negativity or positivity, love or hate, the choice to pursue or just give up, to grow or stagnate.
Take exercise as an example. Although it has obvious physical elements, it is at its core a mental game. You don’t find the mentally weak at the Olympics. Well, at least not competing. Training to be a professional athlete is waking up every morning and choosing to exercise and eat and rest the way you need in order to reach your goal. Fitness is so difficult to build up and so quick and easy to lose. If we’re not moving forward we usually start moving backwards.
A lot of people seem to be discontent but not doing anything about it. One of my friends always says, “Don’t like your life? Change it.” While there are some things we can’t change, there are a lot that we can.
Pursuing a dream takes discipline—a word that’s not very popular these days. It has been replaced by the word convenience, a god with a widespread following in the Western world. If it’s not easy, why even bother?
However, consider this statement: nothing truly worthwhile in life comes instantly or without effort. Getting a degree, having a satisfying career, maintaining a vibrant marriage, building healthy friendships, raising kind and considerate children, discovering a cure for a disease. These things are hard; they require time, commitment, focus and perseverance. But who could say that they have no value?
So like I’ve been saying this whole time, it comes down to a choice. Do you want to accomplish something easy, or valuable?
Sources (accessed 5 September 2017):
When someone begins the phrase “marriage is…” do you think they are more likely to end with “great” or “hard”? Does some version of, “Enjoy it now, because once that ring’s on the finger it’s all downhill from there” sound familiar?
Now you probably think I’m referring to non-Christians. Although I have heard this phrase many times from non-Christians, I am also speaking about Christians. Shouldn’t we sound different, especially when describing a relationship that models Christ and the church?
Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
It makes me truly grieved to hear only the bad things about something that God intended for so much good. It was God who thought it was not good for man to be alone (Gen 2:18), so what did he create for him? A lifesaver beside him (ezer kenegdo), an equal loving companion, a desperately needed helper. Woman. How wonderful. And what a privilege to be able to reflect Christ’s devotion to his bride, and vice versa. But how are we talking about it to young people?
Same story with having kids.
What I don’t hear quoted often enough is that children are a reward from God and “like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth” (Psalm 127:3-4). Not that you have to quote it verbatim, but quite frankly I’d rather hear that than someone ranting about how kids have ruined your body, used up all your money and sucked dry all the passion in your marriage.
To a young single person that is pretty depressing—and doesn’t sound much like those verses from Genesis and Psalms when God is talking about marriage and kids.
We’ve been given the impression sometimes that marriage is a hard slog requiring lots of gruelling hard work and sacrifice—that you have to fight, fight, fight to survive—that we’d be lucky to make it out of there alive. Then tacking on at the end “but it’s worth it though.”
Hmm . . . sounds like it.
Now a lot of this probably sounds really harsh, and there are some marriages that I’m sure have been worthy of the description “gruelling struggle” and I don’t mean to dismiss anyone’s pain, but how do you think it sounds to unmarried people at times? They’re scarred before they even begin.
It’s good to be open about the different aspects of relationships and various stages of life, and it is naïve for someone to get married and have kids thinking it’s all going to be sunshine and rainbows, but what about the parts (hopefully bigger and more important) that are filled with sunshine? I honestly hope that there is more good than bad about two of the most important things in a lot of our lives.
All I’m saying is that the other day when someone described marriage and kids as great (without a big BUT right after) it genuinely shocked me. And I don’t think it should have.
https://www.muslimmarriageguide.com/, sourced 27 July 2017.
http://www.salon.com/2015/01/04/6_things_i_wish_i_knew_about_marriage_when_i_got_married_partner/, sourced 27 July 2017.
Do you remember that strange thing at school athletics day as a kid when you’d be about to line up for the sprint race and suddenly need to pee? Never mind the fact you’d already been to the bathroom twice in the last half hour. No, just me?
I remember being so nervous about the running races in Year 9 that I was genuinely hoping I would somehow break both legs before athletics day. There was a girl who had been bullying me a bit for the last few months and we were pretty much neck and neck in terms of fitness (9 periods of sport a week together left little ambiguity). I was pretty sure I had the edge on her but I knew that it would push me to my limit physically.
But the horror of coming second, or ‘first loser’, as some competitive people like to say, drove me on and I won every single running race in that athletics competition. The most memorable was the 400 metres, my least favourite event. Middle distance is horrible, in my opinion, because it pushes you to your limit for the longest period of time. There’s no slow and steady, and you can’t give it all in the first ten seconds. Shortly after the race my legs cramped up so badly that I was lying on the grass crying while my mother stretched out my hamstrings.
I often used to look forward to long distance more than sprinting, even though I found it less enjoyable, just because I found it less stressful. And last time I was with my boyfriend Jacques the last thing I wanted to do was sprint. Because I love it so much.
I am currently working on a novel. Writing stories makes me crazy happy and I love every amazing, difficult second of it, but I have to get my cousin to give me deadlines because otherwise I will ditch writing to do the washing, or clean the house, or reorganise my pantry. Why do I avoid the thing I know will make me come alive the most? The other things are mundane tasks, yes, but it is a lot harder to fail at them. And if I did, what’s the big deal? So, I’m not a domestic goddess after all (or am I really?).
But somehow if I fail at writing, or view myself as having failed, I feel that I have failed as a person. Every writer (who actually shows their work to others) knows that you have to develop a pretty thick skin, and I have gotten better at handling rejection over the years. However if someone were to give ‘destructive criticism’ (as opposed to the more commonly used constructive criticism) I would find it hard not to perceive it as a criticism of me as a person.
In some ways it’s easier to never try your hardest, because then your all, your absolute best, can never be rejected, or deemed ‘not good enough’.
We need to decide whether the risk is worth it. Would you rather succeed at rearranging your pantry or winning an Olympic gold medal for the 100 metre sprint? Fill in the blank with your passion, but don’t avoid using the gifts that God’s placed in you because, in some ways, it’s a slap in the face.
As a side note, of course Satan would want us to become distracted and do everything but the thing that is going to have the most impact. The thing that would make us really come alive.
Look into your own heart. What desires are in there so deep that you feel like to cut them out would to become someone else entirely? Maybe you already know.
Now ask God to help you pursue that, to his glory.
Image: https://en.fotolia.com/tag/%22sports%20race%22, sourced 21 June 2017
Do you respect your man? If you asked most women (hopefully all) this, they would of course say yes. But lately I’ve realised an area that we can so easily disrespect our men in, without even meaning to.
We’re strong, independent women, right? A busy week, a head cold … doesn’t faze us. You want us to meet you for coffee or come help out with the charity event you’re running? No problem. I mean, we value relationship, and the event is for a good cause. We can handle it. We’ll sleep when we’re dead.
Before I was in a relationship I used to disregard the kind advice about resting from the guy who liked me. But when he became my boyfriend I realised that if I were to continue acting in that way, I would actually be damaging our relationship, slowly but surely, by disrespecting him.
Since we started going out, there hasn’t been one time that me ignoring his advice about my health or rest that has gone over well. This man loves me. He is trying to the best of his ability to lead me well and prioritise my wellbeing. And I am continuing like I haven’t even heard him. We can’t expect him to not be hurt or upset by that.
Ladies I’ve realised that if we want him to feel respected in this area we need to listen to him. His words of, “Come sit down with me” or “You need to get some rest” are never with bad intentions, and are going to stop us burning out in the long run. Sound familiar? The way we listen is by actually taking his advice. Actually sitting down and watching TV with him or reading a book, without doing three other things at the same time or feeling guilty for taking a break. Sometimes we women feel guilty like it’s our profession. It is not healthy, and I am speaking from experience.
So while, yes, we go through busy seasons in our lives, we should never think we’re too busy to rest. And if we think that, we don’t actually always know what’s best for us. Also, taking a break is not being lazy. I once heard someone describe being lazy as taking a break you haven’t earned yet. So yes, work hard. But also rest, because God did after he created the world. And next time you hear your man suggesting some R&R, don’t just reach for the nearest excuse.
The dishes can wait.
Image: http://www.thebusinesswomanmedia.com/distracted-multitasking-woman-risking-success/, sourced 26 April 2017.
Do you ever feel that you are “too much” and “not what you should be”?
The non-fiction book that has probably impacted me the most is this book Captivating, written by a Christian married couple, John and Stasi Eldredge. The introduction alone had me in tears.
It began to answer the question: “What does it mean to be a woman?” As someone with identity issues, this text spoke to me in a way that I had never experienced before.
This book, written from the perspective of both husband and wife, is not mainly a book about marriage. It is a book about being a woman – and for me has been anointed. The best way to describe it is that it tore me down and then built me back up, from the very foundations.
Captivating has brought me to tears (eye-swelling, gut-wrenching, soul tears) where wounds so deep—some I didn’t even know existed—got brought into the spotlight. Reading it was very painful at times but I finished the last page a different woman because God used these words to minister to my soul.
I don’t like sounding so dramatic, because people often say about books and movies, “This will change your life!” And I promise I am receiving no money to promote this book. But the fact that I have bought or recommended it for close to 10 people already shows how relevant I find it. If you’ve talked to me about self-esteem or identity issues you’ve probably already heard me mention it.
I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I’ve ever met feels it—something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough … But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong … The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone.
– Stasi Eldredge, pp. 230-131 (Wild at Heart and Captivating, 2005)
Why does this get to us? Because we have believed some lies in our lives, some at a very young age. And they have poisoned our hearts. Jesus wants to draw the poison out of us, the things that paralyse us, and bring us out into his glorious freedom. Because we were created for wide open spaces, for beauty and intimacy, not for shame, and self-loathing and fear.
Trust me I have lived on the one side, and am learning to live on the other. And I am so thankful to a couple who were obedient to God when he surely said, “I want to bring some freedom to some of my precious daughters through you.”
What is at the core of a woman’s heart? What are her desires? What did we long for as little girls? What do we still long for as women? And, how does a woman begin to be healed from the wounds and tragedies of her life?
– Stasi Eldredge, p. 224 (Wild at Heart and Captivating, 2005)
John and Stasi don’t claim to answer every question, but they have grasped something true and powerful in the heart of a woman that has often been lost, hidden or crushed. And it is something that the world desperately needs.
From a man’s perspective:
Q: Would you say it’s beneficial at all to read Captivating as a man? If yes, how so?
A: I’d say yes. Captivating reassured me of a lot of things I had been told about women – growing up with two women in the house, I had never fully noticed things that Captivating spoke about. I think it’s beneficial because it helps you understand just how important a man’s role is, and how it is in a woman’s core to be loved and desired.
Lil and Jacques
Being an Australian, it’s not often I face life or death situations. In fact, it’s pretty rare.
In a country so safe, a lot of young people think they’re going to die when they choose to. I can understand why. I don’t see people dying in the streets or war tearing my nation apart. It’s not a common occurrence to have your car held up at gun point, and often the unspoken expectation is that we are guaranteed our full life expectancy. In many cases this is true with our public health system having the crisis of too many people living too long.
But every day we face a life or death situation that a lot of people are completely unaware of. And it starts and ends with a choice.
If you live in a Western nation, the chances are you’ve heard about God and Jesus, and this thing called ‘the gospel.’ But what actually is it? What does it mean when someone says they are a Christian? What does this man Jesus, or the person of God mean for you? Why should you even care?
Here are some verses from the Bible and a bit of explanation to unpack what it means in a simple way. You can decide for yourself whether it applies to you.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
That’s the first thing. God created you and loved you before you were born.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven (except Jesus) given to mankind by which we must be saved.”Acts 4:12
I’ve heard more than once before that there are many ways to heaven and all religions are essentially worshiping the same God. It sounds nice, but it’s not true according to the Bible. A relationship with creator God is available to everyone because God’s word says that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:21),” but there are not multiple routes.
Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).”
One day as Jesus is travelling with his disciples (followers) he asks them, “Who do people say I am?”
They reply, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asks. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answers, “You are the Messiah (Mark 8:27-29).”
It’s a question to ponder.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).”
A lot of people say that they’re a good person and so a good God wouldn’t send them to hell, but God doesn’t rank sin on a scale. That’s a human tendency. And his definition of good is perfection.
Even Jesus himself says, “Why do you call me good? No one is good — except God alone (Mark 10:18).”
But salvation is not based on your “good deeds” or brownie points, but your relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.
“This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Jesus Christ in his physical body (Jesus dying on the cross). As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault (Colossians 1:21-22).”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).”
In this unequal exchange we give Jesus all our dirty laundry and he gives us a whole new life and right standing with God.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).”
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).”
It’s that easy. The gospel is simple enough for a child to understand.
“Each of you must repent of your sins (turn from them and think differently) and turn to God, and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38
Choosing Jesus means a new way of life.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).”
So many people think that they have to say no to everything from then on or that Jesus steals your fun but the Word says that it’s Satan who comes to steal, kill and destroy, but that Jesus came so that we could have LIFE, and have it in it’s fullest measure.
Whether we like thinking about it or not, we will all die one day and stand before God’s judgement seat. With Jesus, we are completely justified. Without him, we stand alone. It’s completely up to us.
This free gift of salvation is available to everyone but only through one means. You have to believe in Jesus and give your heart to him to receive it. I can’t make the decision for anyone. You have to choose for yourself.
So who do you say Jesus is?
I know the bad boy cliché is often celebrated in teenage movies. His name is always something like Jesse, he wears black, has ‘fantastic’ hair, rides a motorcycle, and is always, always misunderstood. Sound familiar? It’s like three movies that came out this month. The bad boy can seem like something that every girl should experience as a rite of passage but behind all the leather and spikey hair (I know this was more a 90s version of the bad boy) there’s something deeper going on, and it’s not that nobody except you ‘gets him’. Here are nine red flags with a guy, signs that a relationship might be toxic. Although he seems so exciting and he’s different than all the other guys, meanwhile you know who he’s hurting? You. But you’re worth more than that, so let’s take a look.
1. You’re always making excuses for him
It might be normal to say every once in a while about your guy, “You just don’t know him like I do”, but if you find yourself saying it all the time, that’s not good. If the people who care about you are all saying the same thing, and it’s negative, alarm bells should be going off. Surely they can’t all have impure motives, or be prejudiced, or misunderstanding, or old-school, or overprotective, or narrow-minded. Maybe they’re actually just right. I know denial is something that’s hard to come to terms with. That’s why it’s called denial. But if you are constantly having to defend him, there’s probably some behaviours that are really not up to code.
2. You hide aspects of your relationship
Not proud to say that this is one I did a lot of throughout high school. Things only came out years later that my parents kept saying, “If we had have known that…!” Exactly why I didn’t tell them at the time. You get it. Because you he’s cute, and funny, and maybe one day he’ll change and you will live happily ever after.
Ladies, please hear me. You cannot change a man! Believe me, I’ve tried. The only one who can change someone is Jesus. Also, making people change is not in your job description.
You hide it when he hurts you, emotionally or otherwise, from other people, or always brush it off. You’re conveniently vague when someone asks you about how it was last weekend hanging out with him. Are there some kind of big things you’re keeping from your loved ones about your relationship? Do you ever think, “If they knew about this or that they’d lose it?” Unhealthy.
3. You always take the blame or feel that you’re in the wrong, no matter what the situation
This is one particularly toxic mind-set that girls are experts at. Whether a guy’s conditioned you to think this way, or you’ve just taken it upon yourself, good soldier that you are, it is unhealthy and can be how relationships end up in abuse.
Let me be very clear. There is such thing as inexcusable behaviour, and there are no circumstances under which it is okay for your boyfriend to hit you. Not ever. Not even if he’s angry. Not even if he feels you deserve it. Or you feel you deserve it. Not ever. No exceptions or justifications. No terms and conditions apply.
He will always say he didn’t mean to when he hurts you, or “maybe if you just didn’t make him so angry” then he wouldn’t have to treat you that way. Or that this is the “last time”. Believe it? Neither do I.
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
Stephen Chbosky had it right in his novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower and these thoughts will lead you to a place of dangerously low self-esteem. If you think you are worth nothing, then you are willing to accept someone who treats you as nothing. Thinking this way is not just someone putting you down, it’s you putting yourself down. It affects the way you think about yourself and shakes your identity until over time you start believing things about yourself that are wholly untrue. And often it takes someone else who loves you to point it out. I remember getting in an argument with someone I loved, defending the lie that I had believed about myself and allowed to become part of my DNA.
Ever had the kind of thoughts that I’m referring to?
Why are you here? No one needs you. You don’t add anything of value. Don’t get too comfortable because once they really get to know you they will leave you. You are alone and will always be alone, because that is what you deserve. If he treats you like that, it must be because you deserve it. Why would someone who loves me say something like that just to hurt me? It must be true.
And so the cycle goes on. The message to our hearts is you are too much, and somehow not enough at the same time (credit to John and Stasi Eldredge, Captivating). The message says, “Shut up, back off, sit down, go home. Give up.”
It takes a long time to pull you out of that dark tunnel, and the easiest way is to avoid it altogether by recognising the toxic signs in the beginning stages.
4. He only hangs out when it’s convenient for him
Wow, you feel so lucky that he finally made time for little old you in his busy schedule. Well, you shouldn’t. A guy with integrity and respect for you will make time for you if he’s interested. A bad boy will make sure you know that he’ll only hang out if nothing else comes up; he’s keeping his options open. Way to make you feel like he’s scraping the bottom of the barrel with you. But you are first prize, a top-notch catch, a winning goal, a score, a top-shelf girl. Don’t let someone make you feel merely satisfactory. The daughter of a king shouldn’t settle for that.
5. You have to choose between your loved ones and him
While it’s likely that a lot of couples at some point or another get in fights over their in-laws, if you get into regular fights with your family over him, that’s another story. They don’t like the way he’s treating you, and you get angry and defensive because you want so much for them to just like him (for goodness sake). I feel your frustration but there is wisdom in dropping your defences for a minute and listening to their reasons for objecting to him. The phrase ‘love is blind’ was not coined by a fool.
It’s a bad sign if he draws you away from your family and friends and doesn’t want to get to know them. A guy who’s truly pursuing your heart, and is out for your good, will want to get into your world (not to mention impress all the people you care about) and learn all about you. If he always resists spending time with your loved ones and either only wants to hang out alone with you, or with his friends, not only is that selfish, but it indicates no sense of accountability with the way he’s treating you. As a lady, you deserve respect.
6. He doesn’t want to tell anyone about your relationship
He says that he doesn’t want to wreck what you have, or he likes it better when you two are just in our own world, or he wants to focus on school. Okay I admit that last one might be legit but if the rest sounds like a load of crap, it’s because it probably is. He wants the benefits of being your boyfriend but won’t make a commitment. I knew a girl who was seeing a guy for a while, but all he wanted to do was sit at home and watch movies with her. He never made the commute to see her, and never took her out on dates, even though she expressed a desire to share those things with him. She ended up wondering if he was ashamed to be seen with her, because they never seemed to go out in public.
Trust me, if a guy is truly into you, he will want to show you off to the whole world.
7. He pressures you into things and always makes you feel guilty when you say no
This one’s a no-brainer. If a guy is manipulating you like that, he obviously has ulterior motives. You are the boss of you and your body, and you do not have to feel guilty about setting boundaries. Every good guy will show his respect for you by respecting those boundaries that you’ve put in place. If he keeps over-stepping the line, he clearly doesn’t have your happiness and welfare in mind.
Because your value is beyond measure, don’t give yourself away to someone like that. If you trust a guy like that with your heart, don’t be surprised when he hands it back to you pulverised.
8. You feel like you’d be jeopardising his safety or mental health by breaking up with him
Guys who threaten to hurt themselves, or worse, if you break up with them are definitely toxic for you. They don’t need judgement, or for you to panda to those feelings; they need help. That is an unhealthy place to be in, and he should really speak to a professional about it. Threatening to do some kind of self-harm if you break up with him is also undermining the stability of your relationship and keeping you there for the wrong reasons.
9. He doesn’t treat one or all of these three things well…
If a guy is not so nice to his mother, to elderly people, or is cruel to animals, this is disturbing. First of all, if he treats his mother with disrespect, what’s to stop him from doing it to you after the honeymoon phase has worn off? Respect for elders is a godly principle and you’ve got to wonder what’s going through his head if he doesn’t treat them nicely. Thirdly, not liking animals is one thing, but being purposely cruel to them is another. If gets a kick out of inflicting suffering, or finds suffering funny, what does that say about him?
When seeing all these toxic traits and behaviours in a guy, we ladies should start to think, is this the kind of guy I want to be with? Is this what I want for myself?
And if you think about it long enough, I hope that you, like me, will start to want something better. And then start to believe that you can have it.
P.S. Does it bother some of you that I didn’t add a tenth thing to my list?