All posts by Love Ann Joy

4 Indicators That You May Have Abandoned God

Greetings Love Ann Joy family and HAPPY 2017!! I am excited to be alive and well and look forward to you and I both experiencing many victories this year.  How was your 2016?  Well, mine was a bit challenging.

Sprinkled among my many blessings last year were times of persecution, misunderstanding, set-ups and set-backs.  I spent weeks at a time feeling defeated and knocked down.  It was an unfamiliar place and space and I WANTED OUT!!  So I began to devise a plan to exit my current circumstances and start anew.  I was convinced that God wouldn’t want me in a place where I am lied on, lied to, undermined and ridiculed.  This couldn’t be His will.

Well after doing a heart, mind and Spirit check, I came to realize that while my situation was uncomfortable, it was right where God wanted me as He “refined” me for my next season in life.  I realized that I was trying to define what’s right and just but had not prayed or sought biblical guidance on the matter.  But I know I am not the only one.  Here are four (4) indicators that you, too, may have abandoned God:

  1. Heart Check: If the direction you take or choices you make fail to give God the glory then you may have abandoned God. In the haste of today and the worries about tomorrow, we tend to forget that we are here for God’s glory and all that we do should be for Him.  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31). So when making decisions on what to do or which direction to go, always check your heart for selfish ambitions.  Not our will but God’s!
  1. Heart Check: If the end results or objective does not yield good fruit then you may have abandoned God.  Now more than ever we should check then double check to ensure that the objective and/or end goal of all that we do yields good fruit.  God’s word warns us to “walk in the Spirit so that we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish (Galatians 5: 16-18)”.  The good fruit …the fruit of the Spirit we seek to yield includes love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).    Work of the flesh includes repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; jealousy; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; hatred; an impotence to love or be loved; dissension; divided homes and divided lives; selfish ambitions; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. Have you done a heart check?  Are your actions or choices the work of the flesh or fruit of the Spirit?
  1. Mind Check: If you are leaning on your own understanding and not that of God, then you may have abandoned God. Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all.  Run to God! Run from evil! Proverbs 3:5-8
  1. Spirit Check: If it seems right to you but God’s word says otherwise, then you may have abandoned God. Proverbs 14:12 reads, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”  Satan is notorious for deception (mixing truth with lies) so it’s important that we go to God in prayer and refer to His word for His truth on a matter.

From Fear to Faith

“So, I’m homeless and I’m going to be broke forever.” This prolific statement should be the running theme of every mid-millennial’s feature drama (not coming to theaters soon, but currently in real life). It’s an unfortunate truth, but I’m guilty of succumbing to this pattern of thought ever too often. You know “THE SKY IS FALLING!!” school of thought, “everything is an emergency” way of life, and “every bad thing happens to me” belief? I think that everyone has their fair share of doubt, depression, and anxiety, but it’s not until recently that I realized that my attitude during these bouts determine the outcome. In fact, Proverbs 18:21 says that the words that I speak about my life are self-fulfilling prophesies.

|The tongue has the power of life and death.. those who love it will eat its fruits| Proverbs 18:21

So, as I mentioned, less than one month ago, this was my narrative, plot and dilemma: “So, I’m homeless and I’m going to be broke forever.” In May, I graduated with a Master of Public Administration (MPA), I was living in California, and I was highly idealistic about my future. In the matter of a few short weeks of continuous, relentless and seemingly fruitless job searching, I was convinced that I just didn’t have what it takes to fulfill my vision of being a leader in the field of education and youth development. So, I brought out the small violins and played myself a little melody.

Hmm HmHm Hmmmmmmmm Hmmmm

“Oh, woah is me!! Why would this happen to me??!”

But really, what was the cause of this misfortune? After a bit of introspection and an overdue break from hosting my very own pity party, I realized that the reason for this terrible misfortune was me. I allowed fear to resonate in my heart and cloud my judgement which stagnated my growth and stole my blessings.

Faithless, Envious, Anxious, and Regretful

I chose the words faithless, envious, anxious, and regretful to describe the state of mind I was in over the past 6 months leading to my graduation and move back home. This acronym perfectly describes my state of hopelessness and desperation. At that time, I wasn’t committed to my faith. I didn’t believe that I would be okay and that my dreams would come true according to God’s will. I had become so reliant on my own strength and will to make it through every struggle. I was failing.

It didn’t help that in my struggle and down-time I would overuse social media, which led to unproductive self-comparison and a vicious case of envy. It seemed that all of my friends and family were moving on and making milestones while I was stuck. This made me feel anxious and restless as if there was something outside of myself that was missing to make my dreams come into fruition. It was as if I believed that God made a mistake and forgot to give me what I needed to succeed. I felt deserted and worthless.

This hopeless despair led to a feeling of indecisiveness about where I was going to live, my career path, and my desires. According to James 1:6-8, the indecisive person doesn’t trust the Lord and is unstable, which is exactly what I’ve been experiencing over these few months.

|But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is….unstable |James 1:6-8

 

From Fear to Faith

For some time, I’ve felt removed from my faith and relationship with God. I felt alone because I was no longer listening to His voice and I was listening to the voices of doubt and earthly desire. In order to build our relationship again, I’ve committed myself to the daily practice of reading scripture. The more I read, the more I am able to clearly hear His voice and move in the direction of His will for my life. I feel stronger and more courageous. I’ve moved past the, “I can’t” and “I’m not good enough to..” to “He told me to so I must” and “I do not lack what I need to get it done.” Now the words I speak bring life and I walk on faith to reap the blessings that He has in store. So in order to move forward from a spirit of fear to a spirit of faith, I use the following scriptures as daily affirmations that God loves me, God is almighty, and His plan is absolute. These affirmations help build self-confidence, encourage trust, and develop certainty in my journey.

Faith to Fear Chart

A Christian’s Journey: My 8 Part War Strategy

It seems like I’ve been on this Christian journey for as long as I can remember.  The older I have become the more important pleasing Abba (my Heavenly Father) has become to me.  So when I came across Romans 7:15 in my studies I had to pause and shed tears to discover I am not alone in my pursuit to live within His will.  Tell me, does this scripture speak to you?

I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time (Romans 7:15-20 MSG).

It is indeed a powerful testimony and scripture filled with so many truths for many who read it (including me).  Like Paul, the author of this scripture, I have become more and more aware of times of disobedience (sin).  In the past I would hide from God and feel ashamed but that is what Satan wants me to do.  Now I know that hiding in shame is not what God wants (Isaiah 59:1) and not how I will overcome.

I have come to realize that thoughts and temptations that are contrary to my Father’s will and His Word are ever present but the key is to NOT let it take control.  Dr. Joyce Meyers calls it a “battlefield of the mind.”  And, from the way things have been going….I would have to agree.

So, if this is war….war for my heart and mind.  War for my soul.  I intend to fight!!  Fight not in my own might but with the power within me through Christ.  So here’s my war strategy:

  • Know who and whose I am.  Boy do I have an identity crisis.  In my search to know who I was I never took the time to really connect whose I was….Abba’s child.  It was not until I searched beyond the words and religious sentiments that I began to have an awareness of my true identity.
  • Submit myself to God.  All that I am and all that I want to be is in God’s hand.  I am fully devoted to being God’s servant.
  • NEVER stop talking to God.  Can I be really transparent right now?  I am still working on talking to God.  Don’t get me wrong, I talk to him.  I pray.  But, not nearly as much as I should….as I want to.  There’s a peace when I release my heart to Him and I need that peace all day.  Scripture says we should pray without ceasing (I Thessalonian 5:17).  To me, that means always talking to God…when I am happy, grateful, disappointed, angry, hurt.
  • Renew my mind.  Reading scripture, devotionals, scripture inspired motivational books, fellowship, praise and worship are all ways in which I renew my mind.  And, it never ceases to amaze me on the new understandings revealed to me each time I read the bible.
  • Guard my heart and mind.  I have to be careful not to store away all of the hurt and disappointment in life in my heart because out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).
  • Keep my mind set on these things.  Scripture says we should “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).  And, that is my exact plan.  Each time my mind falls on something that is NOT true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or of good report, I purposefully switch my thoughts.
  • Fall in Love with all things Eternal.  My life as I know it now in this body is temporary but God has an eternal home for me.  I sometimes marvel at some of God’s beautiful creations here on earth; however, I get even more excited at how beautiful my eternal home will be.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2).  Have you taken a moment to think about it?
  • Have faith in all that God is.  Most importantly, I fully believe that all that God has promised He will fulfill.

Over the weeks to come, I will expand on each of the 8 strategies listed above.  As always, it is my prayer that my testimony will bless someone with joy, enlightenment or encouragement.

 

Altogether Beautiful: Part 1 of 4

Ladies - Half Sleeve Heather Raspberry-thumbnailIt was with great excitement that Love Ann Joy released its Altogether Beautiful scripture inspired apparel yesterday.    While it is true that we produce many scripture inspired products, this particular campaign means a lot to everyone who worked on the Altogether Beautiful project….especially me.

I know I am not alone in saying that I have been affected by others’ perception of beauty.  It is indeed an ugly beast to slay.  It was not until I was older, surrounded myself around encouraging people and drew closer to Christ that I began to overcome my desire to mold myself to cultural or worldly perceptions of beauty.   The funny thing is I wasn’t even aware it was something I needed to overcome until I began to learn and embrace how God sees me….how He defines beauty.  It wasn’t until I began to ponder on how I became so broken in my thinking that I realized that the cards began to stack against me much earlier than I realized.

As early as 5 or 6 years old, I can recall one warm spring day my Kindergarten class was in a single file line preparing to go home for the day.  At the doors leading out of the building was a young lady who I believe was a Teacher’s Assistant.  As each of my classmates passed the Teacher Assistant she tapped them on the top of the head and would either say “cute” or “ugly” [Yes, she actually said the words aloud for our young and impressionable ears to hear and digest].  I was old enough to know “cute” was a good thing and “ugly” was a bad thing.  Some of the girls who were in front of me were declared to be “cute” but when I reached the Teacher’s Assistant, I was declared to be “ugly” [Wow….really Lady!].

While I can laugh and joke about it now, I still haven’t forgotten that day.  At five years old, I was left to wonder why this Lady didn’t consider me “cute.”  What was it about my classmates that the Teacher’s Assistant thought made them “cute” but not me? Glory be to God that I didn’t think too long about the matter [come on…I was 5/6 years old with rumbling and tumbling on my mind].  Don’t get me wrong, I thought about it long enough to draw conclusions but not long enough for it to disintegrate my self-esteem.

Now imagine our youth today….with their endless avenues of influence.  When I was 5/6 years old, I didn’t have many avenues of influence.  Let’s see, perhaps school, the “fieldhouse” and home were my avenues of influence.  With the invention of the worldwide web and smartphones, our youth have endless and anonymous avenues of influence.  And, with each avenue of influence comes differing perceptions of beauty.

In fact, an online pharmacy proved how the perception of beauty indeed differs and is in the eye of the beholder.   Huffington Post reported that “UK online pharmacy Superdrug Online Doctors recently created a project called “Perceptions Of Perfection.

“The project featured 18 Photoshopped images of the same woman. Superdrug Online Doctors hired designers from countries around the world to Photoshop a stock image via Shutterstock to reflect the beauty standards of their specific countries.  Out of the 18 designers, 14 were women and four were men, according to Superdrug. In order to highlight a woman’s perception of her culture’s beauty standards, Superdrug asked the four male designers to Photoshop the image based on messages women in their countries receive about what an ideal body should look like.”  Some designers slightly altered the image, while others made the image barely recognizable.

Not only does the perception of beauty differ among cultures, it also differs depending upon time and place.  What was considered beautiful in the 1960’s may not be so beautiful in the 1980’s or 2016.

Youth - Short Sleeve White w Fot Model thumbnailThe truth is the worldly perception of beauty shifts and changes but how God, the ultimate Beholder, defines beauty is consistent and the only true definition of beauty.  The fact is all of God’s children are “altogether beautiful: mind, body and spirit” through Christ.  The more we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12), the better we are able to live in truth and see our true beauty.

It is our prayer here at Love Ann Joy that our Altogether Beautiful campaign will encourage us all to declare beauty over ourselves from the inside out!

In our Altogether Beautiful: Part 2 of 4 blog we will share scriptures about how God sees beauty.  Stay tuned and be sure to tell someone today that they are “Altogether Beautiful.”

God Gets the Glory

HallelujahI woke especially thankful this morning. When I reflect upon my life I think of the many ways God has blessed me. The primary reason I started writing and began this blog is because I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all that I have but don’t deserve. While I am grateful for the tangible things in my life like career, home and other things, I am most grateful that God hears my cries….that He answers my prayers….that he comforts me when I am disappointed….and guides me when I seek His wisdom. Our great and mighty God does that for me…..this nobody. His love empowers me to work for Him….work for His glory!

Hallelujah! Glory to God for His grace and mercy!

My Personal Demon: Self-Comparison

Danyelle 2I am about to write about my very personal, intimate thoughts, deepest insecurities and dapple a bit into existentialism. So, as a reader, please suspend all judgment…at least until you’ve read the entire article. By the end, you may find the topic of this article is as much an influential factor on your life as it is mine. Maybe. So, let the games begin and…. MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR!

As a young adult of 23 years of age, I find myself in the midst of a world that is quickly evolving and demanding. This world demands answers from the youth. We are being asked questions like: “ How will you use the scarce resources to meet the demand of a growing population?”, “How will you lead the country, the world to peace?”, “How will you support and take care of the elderly?”, “How will you change the world for the better or at least sustain?”, “Who are you?”, “What will you become?” Meanwhile, we are struggling to answer the call and simultaneously know the answer for ourselves. Who are we? What will we contribute? It seemed that we owed the world before we were even born, but what do we owe ourselves? I believe the answer is simple: knowledge of self. This is our peace of mind AND the answer to all of the questions of the world. But, how do we truly get there. There are so many distractions along the way. We get caught up in the day to day; making sure we have subsistence, dealing with the mini-dramas that life throws us, not to mention the allure of social media. When we take a step back and look at the big picture, we can see that these distractions contribute to our life experiences and even consequently helps us learn about who we are, what we represent and what we value. It all contributes to our quest of knowledge of self.

We are living in an era where information is easier than ever to get. The lives of those we hardly ever get to see if we’ve ever seen them at all are accessible at the click of a button. This makes it verily easy to fall into the habit of self-comparison. If no one else will, I will be the first to admit that I have been there, done that. If you think about it, everyone has. If you’ve ever played a game that had a winner and a loser, you’ve done it! Self-comparison can be explained through social comparison theory. Social comparison theory, proposed by psychologist Leon Festinger in 1954, states that we determine our individual worth depending on how we compare against others. We constantly evaluate and define ourselves through what others are doing. This can be very dangerous in determining an accurate reflection of self or it could be a source of motivation. Admittedly, I’ve used social comparison in both ways. There have been times I’ve emulated the ways of the rich and famous. I remember a time when I was watching MTV’s “Cribs” when I was 13 years old. I saw a celebrity who owned 400 pairs of shoes and I remembered thinking that’s over the amount that you need in order to wear a different pair each day. I then felt as if I truly needed more than my humble number of 12 pairs of shoes. I pestered my mother to no avail. “Mommy, I need more shoes! I don’t have enough.” My mother’s reply, “ You have money for shoes?? Hmm?” In that instant, I was convinced that I needed to continue my babysitting service (yes, service. I was legit!) in order to support my “needs”. So, when reflecting, yes self-comparison led me to a road (very short lived) of materialism and not having an accurate reflection of self-worth, but it also led me to work harder, get my first job and contributed to some of my best habits/attributes. This leads to the question of, is there a way to define yourself without social comparison?

Comparing myself to others has led me down some very dark roads that I hope to never return to, but has also led me to a road of self-discovery. Still, there has to be a way to cut down all of the competitiveness, jealousy and envy we have with others and remain true to ourselves. Here are 10 tips on self-discovery and knowing your true worth:

  1. Do what you like…. MORE.

 Go out and explore! Try new things! Identify what you like, don’t worry about what you don’t like. Do what you like to do A LOT. You like to dance! Dance! Don’t worry about being a professional. Do what makes you smile. 

  1. Identify your talents….AND your challenges.

 I’ve been told that I’m a very well spoken person who is very friendly and sociable. I also enjoy writing, reading, and speaking. I’ve established that this must be one of my talents and if it isn’t, I’ll work hard to make it one because I like to do it!

It’s very important to know what you are good at and to know what you love to do. The only way to know is to garner as many experiences in a variety of things and just experience life. You’ve experienced a load and still can’t “discover your talents”? Keeping an objective stance also helps. Look at yourself as if you are in your best friends shoes. How would your best friend describe you? This will help you see yourself from a different perspective.

I find that people easily find what they don’t like about themselves and what they can do better. What’s harder for people is finding a way to be okay with that part of themselves. In order to grow, we must accept our greatness and our “not-so greatness”. I’ve noticed that man is kind of paradoxical. We make the bad very apparent, yet ignore it at the same time. We must face ourselves head on. We have to challenge ourselves to do better in the areas that we wish to.

  1. Work HARD!

Life is not easy. Life is not easy. LIFE is not easy. Okay, I think you get it now. Some people make life seem easy. But, even those people work their butt off to get to where they are. Celebrities too? Yes, celebrities too. Do you know how hard celebrities work to stay “relevant”? Their appearance matters all of the time (so does yours in case you didn’t know) and they have to be constantly cognizant of changing trends in fashion and art. When I go home and close my door to my room, I’m constantly cognizant of changing trends in the economy and education. Whatever you value, work hard for it and never forget it.

  1. Study HARD!

 You love something? Study it! Whether you’re an autodidact or formal learning student, pursue what you’re passionate about.

It’s like the stages of falling in love. You take interest in someone and you want to know about them. You learn about them and you continue to want to know more until there’s nothing else to know. Because human beings are evolving creatures, you could never know all there is to know about anyone. It’s the same with learning a subject. Learn until you can’t learn anymore!

  1. Define your values.

 Know what you value. This should be easy to figure out. You start when you’re a kid. “I like that!” vs. “I don’t like that!” You’re an early bird and you like timeliness? That’s a value. You like open-mindedness and dig creativity? That’s a value.

The more you know what you value. The less others and their values can lead you astray.

  1. Know your friends.

 Know your friends and you’ll know yourself. I don’t know about you, but I see little bitty reflections of myself in my friends. My friends and I are not identical, but I see some of the things that I value most in them. The more I learn about them, the more I value them…flaws and all. The more I value my friends, inclusive of their flaws, the easier it is to accept my own.

Also, it is very important to have a strong support system that loves you and is committed to keep learning about you. They help you, be you.

  1. Take care of your health!

 The first rule to loving and appreciating yourself is to take care of your mental, spiritual and physical health. Keep learning, keep searching for peace and keep moving!

When we feel good about ourselves, we are more productive and have a better outlook on life!

  1. Look good….yeah, I’m looking at you 😉

 If you feel good, you look good automatically. Are you taking care of your body (the only one you’re going to get in this life!)? Are you taking care of what you put on your body? Your outward appearance towards the world reflects your emotional state and what you value. It’s your physical testimonial about your life. So, let it be a GOOD one! 😉

  1. Set goals….S.M.A.R.T. goals.

 If you’re not planning for the future, it’s because you don’t believe you have one. Start making specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and timely goals today! These goals will define the type of life you want to lead. Take initiative to lead the life that you want.

       10.  LOVE.

If you forget everything else in this blog, remember to love. Love yourself and love others without expectations or reservations. We are all human and we all fall short of perfection. The most important lesson that we can learn here is to love unconditionally. It not only makes for a more enjoyable life, it makes for a productive and meaningful one too!

God has provided us all very special talents. Jealousy, envy and coveting what our neighbors have are only potential set backs for our own growth. We must remain patient. Love ourselves then others and grow together.

 

Living Your Purpose

Last August, I embarked on a journey to improve the condition and state of education of youth in America, specifically Northeast Philadelphia. As I went along this journey, I had several opportunities to goal-set and reflect. One of the exercises that I had the chance to do was write a letter to myself in the beginning of the year and mid-year. Today, I had the chance to read what I told myself and I would like to share it with you.

*I apologize in advance for the unfamiliar lingo. The organization I worked for had a lot of unique phrases.

Beginning

Mid Year

End of Year

Throughout this year, I have learned a lot of things that I will carry with me forever. Amongst some of the most important lessons are:

1. Let go of your expectations.
There have been times when I tried my hardest to make something work because that’s what I was expecting. I expected my students to get their act together and come to class on time because I told them how important it was and that I “ look forward to seeing you”. I expected my co-workers to know that I needed help on a school-wide project that I was slowly, but surely being overwhelmed with. Until, I let go of my expectations none of the things I wanted happened. When I put that to the side and worked to discover the root of why the things I wanted were not happening, even better things began to happen. The students I struggled with started coaching other students on doing the right thing. When I communicated exactly what I needed to my co-workers, they volunteered to help in unexpected ways and the event was beyond what I had imagined.

2. Communicate clearly.
Sometimes, I found that when I struggled, it was because I was not effectively communicating what I needed or what I wanted. Having fluid conversations with those around you can allow for more understanding and empathy.

3. Plan effectively.
“If you don’t plan for the future, it means you don’t believe you have one.” I heard that on a tv show and it rings true. While it is important to be present in every moment, it is just as important, in this society, to plan for the future.

The most important thing that I’ve become cognizant of is the severity of living life with a purpose. With every single thing that you do, you must be intentional. This is YOUR life. Every moment is unique and fleeting and so are our decisions in them.

 

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Faith and the Fear of Breast Cancer

I have had a fear of cancer for a very long time now. I can’t identify what caused this fear to take root in me but I can recall, at the age of 17, sitting on the couch crying for hours waiting for my mom to get home because I felt a lump in my breast. She was concerned as well so she took me to see the doctor who told me it was just a cyst and I was too young to be concerned. The doctor’s words did not abate my fears.

I have been so gripped with fear throughout these years that I neglected my health. I was not performing the self breast exams and I would let several years lapse between mammograms. I didn’t want to know. I preferred not to know. I knew better but I did not do better.

All the while I felt like such a hypocrite when I would declare “I give myself away to you God!” The Holy Spirit continuously reminded me that I was not trusting God with every facet of my life. Instinctively, when I read the bible, I would cling to scripture that spoke to having a long and abundant life. The best way for me to remember things is to write them down so I would write scriptures in notebooks and diary’s. I wanted the scripture to become more than just words on a page. I wanted my being…my soul…to accept it as truth.

But I was caught off guard by what happened last month. It had been a couple of years since my last Women’s Wellness Check so I made an appointment with my doctor for an exam. She spent about five minutes reminding me how irresponsible it was for me to let the time lapse and that I should see her at least once a year for an exam. I agreed. I had nothing to say and accepted her rebuke. I appreciated her concern and had made up my mind that it would not happen again. I just felt foolish for being afraid.

We scheduled an appointment for my mammogram before I left her office. It was basically the same as my previous mammograms except now I had an option for 3D imaging. I accepted that option. I was in and out of the imaging center in less than 30 minutes. It took about a week for a nurse from my doctor’s office to call to let me know all test results were normal and she will see me again next year.

Much to my surprise I received a call from the radiologist at the imaging center nearly two weeks from my exam date telling me I needed to return because my exam showed an abnormality. I couldn’t comprehend a word she was telling me because my mind was trying to recall the phone call from the nurse at my doctor’s office telling me everything was okay. I spoke my full name to the radiologist and asked her is it me she wanted to talk to. She responded, “Yes.” I told her I didn’t understand so she began to explain that I was in their office 2 weeks ago for an exam and the result shows an abnormality so I needed to schedule an appointment immediately for a magnified mammogram and ultrasound. The radiologist call was interrupted by my doctor’s office calling but I allowed her to finish, scheduled a return visit and then returned the call to my doctor.

I had mixed emotions running through me as I spoke to my doctor’s nurse. I was angry because I was certain they gave me the “all clear” just a week prior. I was in denial thinking that this was just an insurance scam….just another reason to bill my insurance and I was afraid that I may have breast cancer. Nevertheless, I quietly listened to the nurse give me the results of the exam.

I received the call from the radiologist and my doctor’s office on a Tuesday and my return appointment was on a Thursday. As I sat there in my robe waiting for my exam, I was unbelievably calm. All the scriptures that I had meditated on came to my mind…”many are the afflictions of the righteous but God delivers them out of them all (Psalm 34:19),” and “consider it pure joy when you face trials (James 1:2-4). I kept saying to myself, you can bank on God’s promises so don’t worry. I prayed that if this trial/tribulation was part of His plan that he would give me the strength to endure. I reminded God that His child…yeah me…was a “punk” and I would require supernatural strength! I was at peace in that moment…I began to cry because I felt overwhelmed by God’s love and affirmation that I was His!

The ladies in the room began to glance my way. Soon one of the nurses approached me and tried to comfort me by reminding me that we don’t know the outcome yet. I told her I was crying because regardless, benign or malignant, I will be okay. I was confident that I would see the other side of this. Come what may….I will be okay.

I wish I could express in words how liberating this revelation was to me. To trust God and His plan through trials and tribulations is a lot different than trusting God through the good times. To completely have faith in Him meant that I needed to trust Him when things are difficult, painful (emotionally and physically), and disappointing! I needed to truly believe that whatever happened God will work things out for my good. God has made us promises and I am learning everyday how to stand firmly on those promises in full expectations of seeing them come to pass in my life.

By living in the fullness of what God has for me I will experience many good days and some bad days but EVERY day He is here with me! And on those bad days, I will call on Him to give me strength to make it another day and to give me wisdom to understand and appreciate His plan for me.

After the magnified imaging and ultrasound, the radiologist confirmed that there was a solid mass there and I needed a biopsy performed. The biopsy was scheduled and I went home. The first call I made after my husband was my mother. I just needed to confirm that I truly honored her over the years. We both laughed and my mom reassured me that everything would be okay.

The biopsy wasn’t the most pleasant procedure but it needed to be done.   And less than 48 hours later, I received the call that the pathologist indicated that it was benign; however, I now need mammograms every 6 months. And, ladies and gentlemen, I will be sure to get them every 6 months.

I have known many people who suffered through cancer. Some have seen the other side to better health and some are resting in peace but both are loved by God! In sickness and in health, through good days and on bad days, His strength is available to us all to endure the journey…we only need to trust Him. Below are some scriptures that have helped me overcome my fear.

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. (Proverbs 3: 1-2)

Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”(Ephesians 6:2-3)

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all (Psalm 34:19)

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)

What Appears Right May Be Wrong

One could probably guess, since I live in the DC/Maryland/Northern Virginia (DMV) area that daily anger interventions may be necessary. However, I’ve taken the politicking, aggressive driving and traffic congestion in stride because there is a lot to be enjoyed in the area. But, somehow I was taken by surprise at what happened at what I thought would be a quick and uneventful trip to the store.

I departed to go to the store at a time when traffic was least congested in hopes of getting to the store and returning at a reasonable time. All was going well until I got to the cashier to pay for my items. As I approached the desk to put my merchandise on the counter, a young lady quickly approached me and asked if she could go before me because she was on her lunch break and needed to return to work quickly. “No problem,” I responded. As she only had one item, her transaction was completed quickly. So, I began placing my items on the counter. Out of what seemed like nowhere, a lady approached the cashier and asked him why would he ring me up before her? Huh? I was honestly confused and so was the cashier but he did not speak. Where had she come from? Who is she? Before I could clear my head from the confusion she then proceeded to tell me that she knew I would be at the desk when she arrived. She told me to stop following her and that she knew I was the CIA. Again, huh? I didn’t know how to respond. I was truly baffled. She was acting a bit aggressive and speaking loudly. She continued on her rant about how America was going to Hell especially the CIA and then pulled out her cell phone and dialed the police. She told the person who was on the phone that there is a lady (me) following her and she needed to report it.

Believe it or not, I had the presence of mind to pray. I asked God what He wanted me to do or say in this moment. My spirit was not quickened to do anything but stay silent. Again, I asked, “Anything God? What should I do?” But I was not compelled to say or do anything but be mindful of my surroundings. The cashier continued to ring me up. He completed my transaction but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving. I asked him if he wanted me to notify anyone and he stated “no, everything would be okay.”

I spent days thinking about this incident…punishing myself for not reacting appropriately. But, what was appropriate? What was right?

Respond in Anger

I have never been a person to respond in anger so it was far from me to respond in that way on this occasion. Albeit, the lady was ranting quite loudly and acting aggressive, I was not compelled to respond likewise. I learned decades ago that you can’t “fight fire with fire.” It just doesn’t work. On most occasions, it only escalates the matter.

In fact, God’s word teaches me to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires (James 1:19). I can’t imagine being able to rightly think with my head and heart in anger. In fact, it seems like she was giving full vent to whatever rage she had in her for whatever reason but “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end (Proverbs 29:11).”

Respond with Encouraging or Enlightening Words?

I really really wanted God to inspire me to say something that would encourage or enlighten the lady but nothing came to mind. I mean nothing. After thinking about what happened, I have come to realize that the only appropriate response should have been God inspired. Of course, I could have quoted scripture but would that have meant anything to her. In God’s time and under God’s direction are seeds planted and watered. I Corinthians 3: 7-9 (NIV) tells me that “neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” As a co-worker in God’s service, I can only plant and water as directed by God.

On this occasion, nothing came to mind. I know what my human knowledge and human understanding was telling me would be the appropriate response. But, I live in the Spirit. If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). What may give the appearance of being right may not actually been appropriate or helpful.

Respond in Silence

Perhaps God did answer. Perhaps my silence was the response God wanted from me. If the lady was looking for confrontation, anything I said could have escalated the matter.

The truth is that my disappointment in my response was due to me thinking I knew what God wanted. Instead of praying, waiting for His reply and trusting that reply, I felt there was more I should be doing. I have come to realize that we are all broken in different places and that God heals us in those distinct places according to His plan. And, my silence is how he chose to use me that day. There was no further incident. She left the store shortly after I did. And, I pray that God heals whatever ails her.

Who’s There for Me?

Who’s there for me? I found myself asking that question for about two (2) decades of my life. Refusing to throw myself a pity party, time after time, I would pick up my “cross” and bear what seemed like a burden of doing good. If a nephew was graduating, an aunt was hosting a cookout or a friend was celebrating an accomplishment, no matter the distance, I made it my priority to be there to support my family/friends and to fellowship. If there was a scheduling conflict, I would still try to represent my love in deed…perhaps a bouquet of flowers or some other gift of love.

Growing up, I seemed to have known way too many people who felt no need to reciprocate my love and kindness….to do unto others as they would like done unto themselves. I have had many true friends who spoke plainly to me in telling me to let go of the toxic people in my life. I refused. I didn’t think that was the Christian thing to do. So, I continued to allocate myself, my time, my money and my love on people who didn’t appreciate its priceless value.

There were people in my life that would get upset at how I prioritize family and friends. On numerous occasions I have been pulled aside by concerned friends for an “Intervention Session” in which they would implore me to, once again, let go of specific toxic people in my life. But, again, I refuse to heed the advice.

I can recall receiving warnings as early as 19. My college roommate and I decided we would spend spring break at my home. She was excited because she lived in another state. By the time we returned to our dorm a week later, my college roommate sat me down to discuss some concerns she had about some of my friends AND family. “Oh my, the audacity of this girl,” is all I can think as she spoke. The things she said hurt me and I was upset with her for saying them. But, two decades later, I was receiving the same message about the same people from different people.

It took me a long time to come to the realization that it was okay to stop loving so hard. Honestly, I allowed myself to be completely broken by the toxic people in my life before I got the message. As a result of this journey I learned 4 things: 1) it’s okay to stop or reduce interaction with toxic family and friends; 2) learn how to love from a distance; 3) don’t ever let your light dim; and 4) don’t grow weary in doing right.

It’s okay to stop or reduce interaction with toxic friends and family

How would I define “toxic people”? Well, the toxic people in my life had one or more of the following characteristics:

  • They make you feel uncomfortable being yourself;
  • They tend to take (joy, love, time, happiness, peace, money, sacrifice) but don’t give;
  • They bring out the worst in you as opposed to the best;
  • They are constantly negative; and,
  • They love in words but not in deeds.

I am a naturally joyful person but around some of the toxic people in my life that was being “phony.” Huh? I didn’t understand the logic. So grimacing is “keeping it real.” They couldn’t see how I could genuinely care about a stranger enough to say “hello” or smile. They were a constant stumbling block…encouraging me to be divisive, angry, hurtful and selfish to name just a few. It is difficult having a conversation with them because of their snarky nature. On occasion, I would get a Facebook “like” or a text message but nothing of substance that says….”I see you and I love you.”

I now know it is okay to stop or reduce interaction with such people. God’s word says:

“I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts (Psalm 119:63)”

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24)”

“The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray (Proverbs 12:26).”
“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’ (I Corinthians 15:33).”

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm (Proverbs 13:20).”

“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared (Proverbs 22:24-25).”

Learn How to Love From a Distance

Phone calls, greeting cards and/or “just because I love you” packages are becoming a new norm for me. I have given it all to God and now wait for His direction on what I should do. Until such time as He finds it okay for me to mix and mingle with the toxic people in my life, I will keep my distance. What’s most important to me is that I am able to let them know I still love them in the things I do for them. I just have to limit my deeds to those that do not involve interaction.

Don’t Ever Let Your Light Dim

I think this is what caused me to eventually change how I interacted with the toxic people in my life. I began to become angry…ensnared. I would leave their presence and immediately feel regret for my actions and deeds. If I can’t be me when in the presence of others (family or friends), then I shouldn’t be around them. I have learned to surround myself around people who encourage me to shine my light brightly….and I LOVE IT!! I asked God to bring people in my life that encourage and strengthen me in my walk with Him and He is continuously answering my prayers. Every year I meet someone(s) new that loves God just as much as I do and are not uncomfortable with me saying and acting so.

Don’t Grow Weary in Doing What is Right

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).” Yep, it’s in the Bible…and “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).”

I pray that the lessons I have learned throughout the years may bless others going through the same. There is absolutely nothing wrong with loving and doing good. God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:38) and to pray for those who mistreat us (Luke 6:28). We also need to be mindful of those we keep regular company.

Student to Teacher: Reflections

Danyelle 1This year has presented a lot of challenges, changes, and development for me. As a 2013 graduate, fresh out of college, I decided to switch from the role of student to the role of teacher. When I started my role as a corps member for an educational non-profit, I envisioned myself as somewhat of a humanitarian with a certain agenda. I planned to go into the school system and make a significant difference in the life of every child that I encountered. I was going to inspire them, I was going to motivate them and I was going to save them from the negative influences of the world. I was ready to conquer and I was ready to teach! I mean, I went to college and I’ve been through my fair share of life so what could possibly go wrong??!

Reflecting on this year with my students, I’ve realized that I am the one learning an abundance of new information. There is nothing that truly prepares you to teach or even to learn. They’re both processes of life and they happen simultaneously through life experiences.   Working with eighth graders of varying personalities, strengths, talents, and challenges has given me an opportunity to learn what it takes to really motivate people. By understanding what is important to my students, what makes them unique as people, and what they are responsive to, I have been able to inspire them. My agenda now has shifted from “saving my students” to showing my students that someone cares about them. I’ve learned that simply showing that you care has been the greatest motivating tool and allows people you care about to “save” themselves.

Simultaneously, during this period of revelations in my life, I found myself in a new church where I’m also learning and growing spiritually. I usually find myself so wrapped up in learning Scripture and engraining it in my heart. My greatest hope is to be able to eventually teach others and help them grow nearer to God. In the meantime, I learn and I observe until it is His will to have me inspire others. There have been many things that I have learned through Scripture and through being a student that I believe will help me be more ready to help others:

  1. Patience

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19 NIV

In order to do what’s in the Scripture above, we need to exercise patience. We should be patient with others as we are patient with ourselves. Everyone has their own individual learning journey. Everything will happen at its own appointed time. We must be patient though and slow to become frustrated. We must be diligent.

Every day, I consistently tell my students different ways of managing self-control. Some days, it feels like nothing I tell them is getting through. I tell them to be patient and quiet as they raise their hand to get the attention of the teacher and as soon as I turn around I hear a student scream, “Miss! MISS!” Students are constantly in verbal combat over who can say the most degrading things to each other and neither will “take the high road”. In report card conferences, I hear way too many “She gave me an “F”, because she doesn’t like me!” instead of I earned an “F” because I sleep in class. Then, one day a student says, “Ms. Danyelle, I listened to what you said and ignored those girls that said something mean to me. Now, they’re upset and I’m chillin’.” Although this seems like a minor feat, this student has taken a step towards being able to manage their emotions. There are unseen processes that are happening within the learner, but if the teacher is consistent and diligent, the learning does take place. It’s important to be patient.

  1. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:37-40).”

God said it! Therefore, we can only conclude that loving your neighbor is SUPER important. We cannot say that we love one another if we draw barriers with our preconceived notions and judgment. We cannot draw closer to one another and draw others closer to God unless we try to understand, empathize with, and truly love one another.

 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be (James 3:9-10 NIV)

It’s important to always be considerate of one another. We cannot say that we truly love God if we do not love others made in God’s image. We have all fallen from grace. We must humble ourselves before God and love one another, “flaws and all”.

  1. Humility

Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be. Job 8:7 NIV

God is always at work to lift up those who are humble. So, we should always stay clear of false pride. Everything that man is proud of is temporary, it fades. High positions, power, money, and clothes are all here today and gone tomorrow. Those who remain humble, have a bright future.

I can see humility within my students and myself. Those who are bold enough to admit their faults and ask for help, receive it. Those who remain prideful and chase away help that comes to them, generally have a harder time maintaining. I admit freely when I have made a mistake or if I simply do not know an answer with my students. Now, that they know that I as an adult, a human being, make mistakes they feel free to admit their own and feel more comfortable.

  1. Be diligent

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 1 Timothy 4:15 NIV

We must be diligent in teaching and learning “…because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” We must be consistent, we must constantly be striving to do better and we must always share our experiences with others.

There are many things that are important in teaching, but one of the most important things has to be organization and consistency. In a world where everything is constantly changing, God stays the same…his Word stays the same. We must mirror this in our studying and our actions.

 

Danyelle 2Danyelle Lashay graduated from Howard University with her Bachelor of Arts in Economics. She is currently completing a year of service with City Year Greater Philadelphia. Danyelle looks forward to starting a graduate program in Public Administration & International Education Management at Monterey Institute of International Studies, a graduate school of Middlebury College in the Fall. She enjoys sharing her insight about education, current events, and spirituality. You can follow her on Twitter, @Mitchell_Dany.

My Hope: 4 Reasons to Rejoice

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (I Peter 3:15).

By the time I reached the age of 6, I had a considerable amount of reasons to feel despair. With every passing year the more heartache, disappointments and defeats began to mount. At certain points in my life, it became really difficult to remain optimistic about my outlook. However, today I can say with certainty that my Savior never let me go. He was always there….that “flickering light” of love, hope and joy within me…that notion that there is a reason to rejoice.

I Peter 3:15 says I should be prepared to give an answer to those who ask me my reasons for hope. I have countless reasons but if I had to summarize them all in one song it would be Tye Tribbett’s, He Turned It. The lyrics to the bridge of the song is

The devil thought he (had me). Thought that my life was (over). He thought by now I’d (give up). He thought I had no (more). But that’s when someone (Greater). Stepped in my (situation). My morning has now begun…”

The lyrics to the bridge of this song alone succinctly express my reason for hope. Quite simply, I am hopeful because: 1) Jesus died and rose to save me, 2) I am the Child of the Most High God, 3) I am Heir to God’s promises, and 4) there will be no more sorrow or tears.

Jesus Died and Rose to Save Me

Saved from Death: There is a lot in God’s word that has helped me to understand the magnitude of my Heavenly Father’s love for me. He sent His only begotten Son as a sacrifice so that I may have eternal life (John 3:16). I no longer have to fear death. I now know that because I believe that Jesus is the only begotten son of my Heavenly Father and that He came into this world to save me and have risen and now sit on the right hand of my Heavenly Father, I shall have eternal life. So what shall I fear? I know if I continue to believe what the world tells me and all of the “noise” around me, I have lots to fear but that is not truth. I have to continue to meditate on the truth of eternal life so that I stay firm in my joy when everything around me indicates I should be in despair.

When I take a moment to truly grasp the magnitude of the love God has for me I become overwhelmed with emotion. I imagine sending one of my daughters into the lion’s den to save…let’s say, an enemy. Would I do it? While I know when all is said and done my daughter will be okay….just the thought of her being tortured, even for a moment, is unbearable. But, God love me so much that He did just that. Jesus was sent as an atoning sacrifice for me….for you. What a love! I don’t think I will ever fully understand and appreciate the magnitude of such love in my present state.

Saved from a Worldly life: There is a peace…a completeness…a purposeful feeling when walking in the will of my Heavenly Father. I have a testimony of doing things my way…living a worldly life with all the emptiness it provides. But, it pales in comparison to living for my Heavenly Father, through Jesus.

Scripture teaches me in Chapter 2 of Titus that “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good (v. 11-14).”

I recall a time in my life that I was often criticized by people I considered to be friends. I would often hear words like “holier than thou,” and “bible thumping.” Initially, it really hurt that my friends didn’t understand. I was confused because my friends attended church and, on most occasions, were kind. In my youth I would, on occasion, listen to provocative music and attend parties that made me uncomfortable just to show people I am not perfect.   With age, I no longer wanted to prove anything to anyone but God. With my life, I want to show that I am grateful for His love, mercy and grace. Every day, I learn what giving my life over to the Holy Spirit means….what it looks like. I am no longer invited to as many parties as before and people tend to study me intensely looking for imperfection so that they can declare “that I’m not a real Christian!”

Child of the Most High God

God’s word tells me that as a believer, I am now a child of God (Galatians 3:26; John 1:12). I get excited thinking about what that means. As a mother, I know how it feels to love and care for a child. I know that all that I can provide for my children, I will and do…by the grace of God. So much more so must be the care God has for His children. God’s word confirms that “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matt. 7:11).” God also tells me that His plans for me are prosperous (Jeremiah 29:11) and that “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).”

Even more exciting about being a child of the Most High God is to know I have an inheritance. “This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time (I Peter 1: 4-5).”

Heir to God’s Promises

The reason for my hope is that I know I am heir to God’s promises. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29). God promises me long life on earth (Ephesians 6:3), peace (John 14:27; Proverbs 1:33), power and strength (Isaiah 40:29-31), and to supply all my needs (Philippians 4:19). These are a few of many of God’s promises.

No More Sorrows or Tears

God reveals in the 21st chapter of Revelation that upon Jesus return there will be no death, sorrow and mourning.

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:1-4)”

There will also be singing and everlasting joy:

And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away (Isaiah 35: 8-10).

These are my reasons….my 4 reasons to love, rejoice and live in the fullness of the day the Lord has made! 4 reasons for trusting God.  4 reasons to forever abound in love, hope, peace and joy!

Survey Says: My Wife is My Best Friend?

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life (Proverbs 31: 10-12).

 I was more than excited to receive the results of the recent survey conducted by Google Consumer Survey on behalf of Love Ann Joy. The results in the table below are very promising and encouraging.

My Wife is My Best Friend Survey (Percentage of all Respondents)

 

Yes No Total
All Men Respondents 40.7% 6.7% 47.4%
Men age 18 – 24 20.0% 3.3% 23.3%
Men age 25 – 34 39.3% 7.5% 46.8%
Men age 35 – 44 42.9% 14.3% 57.2%
Men age 45 – 54 50.0% 0.0% 50.0%
Men age 55 – 64 48.9% 6.7%

55.6%

Men 65+ 44.7% 7.9% 55.6%

Methodology: Conducted by Google Consumer Survey May 10-12, 2014 and based on 253 online responses. Sample: National Adult Internet Population

What do all those numbers mean?

In one sentence, it means that out of the 253 adult men that responded to the survey, 120 were married…which represented 47.4% of the respondents. But the good news is that 86% of the adult married men indicated that their wife was their best friend.

That is not good news, it is great news!

You want to hear more great news? When the survey results were broken out by age group, most of the married men in every age group considered their wife their best friend…even the younger men. Specifically, 86% of the married men age 18-24 and 88% of the men age 55-64 considered their wife their best friend. Furthermore more than half of the men age 55 and older indicated that they were married.

Now the Concern!

While I was impressed that 100% of the men age 45-54 considered their wives to be their best friend, I was also concerned. The table above seems to indicate that men may experience challenges in their marriage beginning in their mid thirty’s. While more than 57% of the men surveyed in the 35 – 44 age group were married, they had the highest rate (14.3%) of respondents who indicated that their wife is NOT their best friend. Of even more concern is the smaller percentage of men age 45 – 54 who indicated they were married. This seems to be consistent with the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data from the America’s Families and Living Arrangement Survey which shows that the divorce rate doubles for men age 35-44 and triples for men age 45-54.

These results had me pondering the question if between the ages of 35 – 54 marriages (both men and women) need a strong support system and if mid-life crisis is to blame for these trends. Dr. Calarusso, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of San Diego indicated that he most often sees men struggling with midlife questions in their 40s and early 50s (Webmd).

According to an article by Lori Sandoval titled, Midlife crisis is real, loneliest point of men and women in their early forties: Study, “midlife crisis is real, taking the happiness level of both men and women at its lowest from the ages of 40 to 42, after which things begin to pick up again.” Perhaps if married men and women are aware of what is possibly ahead, they could be prepared to weather the storm.

Why was the Survey Conducted?

It is oh so common to turn on the television or read in the newspaper tragic divorce rates and statistics. And, I understand that sometimes divorce…while painful, is the only option. In fact, scripture addresses divorce when adultery has been committed.

This survey was conducted for encouragement to all married couples, especially those that feel within their spirit that more could be done…more could be said to strengthen their marriage and the bond between them and their spouse. I was hoping that the results would tell us more about each other. I believe knowing what is ahead may prepare married couples to weather the “stormy times.”

Alan J. Hawkins, Ph.D & Tamara A. Fackrell, J.D. state in their guidebook, Should I Keep Trying to Work it Out: A Guidebook for Individuals and Couples at the Crossroads of Divorce (And Before) that:

“The most common reasons people give for their divorce are lack of commitment, too much arguing, infidelity, marrying too young, unrealistic expectations, lack of equality in the relationship, lack of preparation for marriage, and abuse. Some of these problems can be fixed and divorce prevented. Commitment is having a long-term view of the marriage that helps us not get overwhelmed by the problems and challenges day to day. When there is high commitment in a relationship, we feel safer and are willing to give more for the relationship to succeed. Commitment is clearly a factor in why some couples stay together and others divorce.

I am willing to wager that most of the men who responded to our survey have never told their wife that she is their best friend.  From experience I know that most men aren’t big talkers so to know that the married men who took our survey considered their wives their best friends is encouraging. I often say that I am broken and only made whole through Jesus Christ. So, I no longer look for perfection in others when I know that only through Christ we are perfected.

It is my belief that the more we know about each other and what to expect in marriage, the stronger our commitment.

 He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22).

 

 

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