25 Ways to Prepare for Marriage other than Dating–Reading Jamal Miller’s Book

I’ll be the first to admit that due to previous dysfunctions in relationships, not guarding my heart, and allowing popular culture to influence my thoughts, I had an unrealistic outlook on relationships and marriage. Namely, I used to think “when I get married I will be happy” or “If I just had someone to share my life with, it would be easier.” These thoughts were the furthest thing from the truth. In fact, I believe that they are two of the most revealing thoughts that hinder singles.

Around 2014 God began to deal with me about setting my house in order. More specifically, he encouraged me to set my finances in order. Now, if you’re like me–a college student–you know the struggle of living off refunds, and check to check. I had made a system for it even. Because I was never really taught how to handle money, I allowed money to handle me. Going off impulse, I spent lots of money on clothes and shoes which landed me in debt. A couple thousand dollars worth. SO, when God began to impress on my heart to get out of debt, I kind of ignored his instruction. But, God is faithful and he doesn’t give up.

Let’s move to my current season: God not only continued to tell me to get out of debt, but he also instructed me to live by the 20/80 rule. This requires one to give 10% of their tithes to the local church, save 10% and live off the 80. Now, how could I even attempt to implement this strategy in my life if I was living off a fixed income, which only paid for 7.5 months out of the year? Needless to say, I started to try to obey. I didn’t immediately stop spending money, but I did start to live off the 20/80 rule. He showed me that for my future husband to inherit unnecessary debt was childish.

SO, when God began to impress on my heart to get out of debt, I kind of ignored his instruction

Finances are just one aspect of Jamal Miller’s book. He delves into 25 ways to prepare for marriage. This text is highly important because it allows you to see that it takes more than a pretty face, and good conversation to sustain a marriage. In fact, preparation for one is hard work. Thankfully, several of the things listed and explored in Miller’s text were things I had become sensitive to, through the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Miller solidified the importance of singleness. I recommend this book to anyone struggling with their single season. I believe one reason I struggled initially was because I didn’t have anything else to focus on. I was the one who spent majority of my thought life dreaming about marriage and my future spouse. However, I didn’t prepare much in the beginning.

Now, I take the time to access where I am. Am I a good thing to be found? Many people loosely throw around the scripture that tells us when a man finds a wife he finds a good thing. However, several of us are far away from the good thing. As women, we think we can naturally transition into wifehood. I learned by observing that this is not true. If you are impulsively spending, selfish, have a smart mouth all the time, and a person that complains, you need to continue to do work. I suggest that we study the women in the bible who were actual wives. Majority of the time we want to be the Proverbs 31 woman,and don’t get me wrong, she is the bomb. However, what happened to the other women who were married? What about Anna? Hannah? Sarah? Abigail? We can glean from these women biblical truths.

Miller points out the importance of wholeness, confrontation, submission, preparation, and a host of other things in his book. For the people who don’t know where to begin, he provides a very detailed outline. For those who are in preparation, he offers validation. And, for the ones who have crossed the threshold of marriage, he presents a review guide.

I will be returning to this book frequently throughout this season.

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Healthy Boundaries

I once was a victim of unhealthy boundaries with my male friends. Let me rephrase that. I was once a perpetrator of unhealthy boundaries within my relationships with my male friends. Ultimately, they satisfied a deep-seated insecurity of mine that craved attention. Needless to say, I got my little feelings hurt when they recited the line “but we aint togetha” or their actions did not play out in my favor. Granted, at some point in our exchange, the men would be all into me; however, slowly but surely they would lose interest after some time. And, because I had an insecurity that they were no longer feeding, I registered their disinterest as rejection. Therefore, I would up my attention game to them. I would shoot them the text “hey stranger” or even play into dead-end ego boosting conversations. Overtime I was making emotional deposits into their lives, but voicing that I wasn’t looking for anything but friendship. So, when they got tired of playing cat and mouse–because it will happen–they left, and rightfully so. Each time I superimposed my insecurity on the backs of the men to carry, it was I who dropped the ball.

So many times I gave male friends of mine, things that should have been reserved for the man who promised commitment in the form of marriage. I would pay special attention to them over everyone else. I would show up for them at major events, family functions, and show an unprecedented amount of support for them. We would text all day and twice on Sunday. As time progressed, I had become tied to them whether we had physical relations or not. Contrary to popular belief, memories and experiences create soul ties. Unfortunately, the church has led us to believe that the only way to have a soultie is to have physical relations with someone. However, experiences have the potential to be just as strong and physical contact.

Recently, I read the book Emotional Purity: An Affair of the Heart by Heather Paulsen and it answered so many questions that I had about male and female relationships. The text moves in and out of narrative style stories to illustrate the complexities and hazards of not guarding your heart in your single season. Utilizing various scenarios, Paulsen eloquently walks the reader through levels of potential dysfunctions that accumulate over time due to emotional brokenness, through fictional characters Tracey and Mike. From her narrative, readers learn the importance of relational definitions to avoid further emotional turmoil as well as how to interact with the opposite sex and not go off into some fairytale land in your head.

Reading this book, I had the ability to reflect on so many times I overruled the reality of the situation, in order to feed a pain that was already far gone. There were times where I knew I shouldn’t be communicating with certain people but because I “wanted to be a God send” to them I did it anyway. I was out-of-order. God never told me to go evangelize the men. As a matter of fact he told me to not entertain their company. But being the person who migrated towards projects, I overruled the promptings of the Holy Spirit and ended up flat on my back.

Pauline’s book helped to put in perspective my past experiences. In essence, she helped me realize the error of my former actions that lead to more scars on my heart. Though my feelings got hurt in my times of disobedience, I was not a victim. Understanding my active role in my past has helped me to come to terms with the reality that I was a willing participant. No, I did not hold up a sign that asked people to come hurt me, but I did not hold up a sign that signaled I was guarded and wasn’t interested in wasting my time. In retrospect, though I may have voiced my intentions as not looking for anything serious, my heart was. Women are not designed for casual affairs. No amount of sexual liberation movements can convince me otherwise. If the bible warns us to guard our heart for out of it the issues of life flow, don’t you think we should guard the body that comes into contact with someone else before they get to our emotions?

Just food for thought!

SN: I’m writing a book and it’s almost done!!!!!

-B

Courage to Believe

I’ll be the first to admit that I was afraid to believe in certain things. For instance, I didn’t believe that I was enough of a woman for a man. I didn’t believe that I was pretty, or even had much to offer. I wasn’t sure about successful marriages or even dating in a biblical way. At some point in my life, I lost the courage to believe in positive things. Sometimes, things can transpire that knocks the wind out of our lungs. We learn to stop hoping, stop looking for the positive, and eventually stop living. We begin to just exist daily in the shell that we call our bodies without satisfaction.

If we act this way long enough it becomes normal. We learn to make accommodations for dysfunctions, toxic thoughts and negligence. We imprison ourselves in the very jail that we want to be saved from.

I can remember several times where I hoped to have a savior riding on a white horse to come sweep me off my feet, and love me into  a healthy person. That didn’t happen. Mainly, because I put my trust in mere mortals and tasked them with the horrible assignment of making me well. Misplaced hope–when it should’ve been in God–caused a lot of internal damage. By putting my hope in others, I displayed that I didn’t trust God.

In a cliché manner, people will say “put our trust in God.” I mean that sounds easy enough, but it how easy is it to fully put your life in God’s hands? It takes time. It takes courage to trust a man who you cannot see because we’ve been unable to trust men we could see. In time, however, there will come a time where you surrender. There will be a moment of sacrifice where you throw your hands up and stop allowing dysfunction to run havoc in your life–I did, finally.

I wanted to believe that I had more to offer. I wanted to know who I was designed to be. I wanted to be the woman who existed in my head. I wanted to live higher and lighter. I just wanted to be me.

I once heard a pastor relay this anecdote and it remained with me:

He was riding in a cab in Africa and the driver was African. In order to make some type of conversation in the cab, he said to the cabby “I never cared much for Africans.”

The cabby responded, “Oh, why do you not like us?”

The pastor replied, “Because you all are so arrogant.”

The cabby responded, “We are not arrogant. We are just what you would’ve been had you not been slaves!”

#Pow

I almost took off running when I heard that. In essence, the cabby was telling the pastor that his past hindered his present, and since his ancestors were slaves then he operated in certain mindsets. I wonder who I would’ve been had certain things in my past not happened. If I never lost my virginity. If I didn’t prostitute my potential for momentary attention. Who would I have been? Whether we realize it or not, the past is weighty and it costs.

With this revelation, I encourage you to believe. Have the courage to want more and know that you can be/have more. But, it all started with my decision to surrender to Christ.

-B

Calling in the One

When I first decided to become whole, it started with a book entitled Calling in the One by Katherine Woodward Thomas. I’ll admit that I’ve said I wanted to be whole several times in the past. However, I don’t think I really wanted to be whole, but wanted to stop hurting. There is a difference.

Becoming whole is hurtful in itself. It is outright painful because the process that one must undergo is agonizing. Becoming whole is about growth, sometimes isolation, but more importantly introspection. These three things many avoid because they cause a lot of friction in our lives. However, these three tenants are unavoidable in a successful journey to wholeness and health.

Though the book’s title suggests that in seven weeks you will attract your soulmate, the content reveals something much more meaningful. For seven weeks, I learned that calling in the one meant literally reconnecting with yourself in a delicate and meaningful manner. So many times I’ve attempted to meet my soulmate, at the risk of devaluing myself. More times than not, I hurt myself much more than the other person hurt me.

Through the journey with the book, I’ve learned to reconnect with the neglected parts of myself. The parts that people ridiculed and made fun of because they didn’t understand me. The parts that I hid from myself because they were too painful to remember, or they did not fit with the image of myself that I constructed. Overtime, I lost connection with who I was before all the traumatizing events transpired. How could I unpack years of neglect and bottled up frustration? Who would love the outer shell of a woman who pretended to love selfishly?

Calling in the One was the book that jump started my emotional rollercoaster in a positive way. It allowed me to confront the things that I had forgotten about. It reopened old wounds that healed improperly and tore down the facade that I created. For seven weeks, I had to confront myself. I had to take responsibility in areas that I once blamed others. I realized that I was a participant in my own story, not a victim like I once portrayed. I had to do better if I wanted to get well.

Thomas’s text helped me to see myself in a more open manner. It  assisted me in standing in my truth and moving past it. The text helped to free me from emotional dysfunction and self-destruction. There were times that I wanted to stop reading but the inner part of me would not let me quit. I could not give up on myself this time