Category Archives: Life & Love

As laughter and tears collide

Our hearts are as heavy as they are light,* and it feels contradictory–a great paradox. But who hasn’t laughed through tears or felt their highs mix in with their lows?

This weekend I cried tears of sadness intermingled with tears of joy. Laughs were indistinguishable from the few sobs that escaped my pursed lips. Memories brought on floods of emotions from opposing sides and met in a wave that threatened to knock me over. And it’s hard to reconcile the highest of highs existing simultaneously with the lowest of lows. It feels like the existence of one should diminish the substance of the other–like the smiles mean I don’t feel the grief, or the tears mean I don’t cherish the memories.

But what if the existence of both further substantiates the other? What is joy, if we have no sadness to contrast it with; and what is redemption, if we see no brokenness from which we yearn to be redeemed?

I’ve felt grief and laughter that falls hollowed out and empty. I’ve seen death. I’ve seen the grave. And through it all, I’ve seen a hope that’s stronger.

It’s a hope that does not trivialize my grief, but a hope that is substantiated by its existence. It’s a hope that creates in me a deeper longing than ever before, because…

I now know for what it is I hope.
I hope for no more crippling pain, no more tears, no more despair, and no more death.
I hope for redemption of our broken bodies and our sinful pasts.

And it’s not a trivial wish–a “that would be nice”–but a deep longing for a Savior and a heavy realization that I am in a world that needs to be saved.

It’s looking into the grave of a man I love and clinging to the hope that this is not the end. It’s seeing cancer and sickness and pain and looking expectantly to a day when our weakness will be no more.

My father spoke this Saturday at my grandfather’s memorial service and declared that this is not a “hope that” or a “hope so,” but a confident expectation. This hope is faith–true faith, grounded faith–the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.

It’s a hope founded on promises that have been fulfilled and lives that have been changed. It’s founded on glimpses of redemption, reconciliation and transformation–in my own life and the lives of those I love.

So this hope is not trivial. It’s not a fairy tale or a shallow illusion. If despair, depression and death are real, I hold that hope is real even more.

I looked into the grave of a man I loved this weekend, but I have the confidence that I will see him again. Because while I know the pain of death and suffering, I know the joy and the promises of the One who overcame the grave. I know that in this world, he promised tribulation. But I also know that he told me to take heart, for He has overcome the world.

I know that nothing can separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus–not death nor life nor things present nor things to come, nor anything in all of creation.

And I know that one day my hope will find its confident expectation fulfilled, because:
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Though tears will fall, though grief is real, my voice cries hallelujah for the hope of heaven and the day when all will be made new.

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See you soon, grandpa.

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*Heavy and light is an idea I heard first from To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) at their recent Heavy and Light show. It was an amazing show by an organization I admire.

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“Tell That One About Heaven”

Every year, I live in a different place–a new apartment, a new address. This summer I lived in a hotel in Central Asia for a month and a half. So when I heard my family and I were moving to Santa Cruz, I thought it wouldn’t affect me much. I’m hardly ever home anyways. I don’t even go to Calvary Chapel Gilroy for the majority of the year, because I’m here at school. “It will really affect my family more than it will affect me,” I kept telling people. “How are you doing with it all?” people kept asking. I would always respond, “It’s really crazy, but I know God’s in it. It will be good.”

All of that is true. God is in this move, and it will be good. I believe that with all my heart. But that answer did not prepare me for the tears that came last Sunday at church. It was my family’s last Sunday at the church we started 12 years ago. Old friends flew out, we had a huge reunited worship band up on stage… and I could not take it. I could not get the words out, I was so choked up. I left the sanctuary during worship to calm down and get some water; and when I came back in and saw my church family worshipping together, I lost it. I was sobbing. And that was not going to be the last time I cried.

We watched a slide show of the last twelve years of Calvary Chapel Gilroy and I was undone. I cried watching all the pictures of people whom I never realized I loved so much. There were baptisms, church camps, barbecues. I remembered that crazy move in the middle of the night, when our church came together to move all our stuff until three in the morning. I remembered that Sunday school class. I remembered helping my mom paint those palm leaves. And more than that, I remembered the hearts behind all that. I’ve seen people truly find life and life more abundantly in Jesus Christ. I’ve seen strong friendships formed, and I found a family bigger and better than I could have ever imagined.

When I moved to college, I missed my family so much. It wasn’t until I left them that I realized how much I loved them and how hard it was to be away from them. And now, I’m realizing the same hard and beautiful truth. I didn’t realize how much I loved everyone at Calvary Chapel Gilroy until I had to leave. I can’t tell you how closely my heart is knit to every person at CCG. I’m going to miss the hugs on Sunday mornings and all the people I’ve known for so long. I’m going to miss hearing people say a million times, “How is school?,” “When are you going back?”, or “We’re praying for you.” And knowing they meant it. And these people care about me. I’ve never doubted that. What a blessing it is to have a huge family who loves you, who prays for you, and who is bonded together with a common love for the same Savior.

Even though I’m here at USC right now and I’m busy with school and ministry on campus, I’m still thinking about this move and about the home and family I am leaving at Calvary Chapel Gilroy. And you know what I realized? I think God gives us family and homes and churches to give us a flicker of what life will be like someday. This feeling of home is just a snapshot of what we have to look forward to. All of us who know Jesus are living for eternity, waiting for heaven. And because of this, we have purpose. We have hope.

I am reminded of Lenny and George in Of Mice and Men. They work and work, because they have a dream of having a home someday- of living in peace and companionship with each other. As they work long hours, day after day, they are sustained by this hope.

An’ live off the fatta the lan’,” Lennie shouted. “An’ have rabbits. Go on, George! Tell about what we’re gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it. Tell about that George.”

Don’t we all want to feel like we have a home? Like there is a place where we belong?

In Revelation, John has a vision where he says,

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 6:9-10, ESV)

This is home. This is where we belong. This is where my whole family in Christ, those at Calvary Chapel Gilroy, those at Calvary Chapel Santa Cruz, and those from around the world whom I never met; will come together and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

Leaving friends and family is hard, but having them in the first place is a blessing I could never measure. It’s a glimpse of my true home. And when life gets tough, when moving is hard; I can look upwards and say, “Tell that one about heaven again.”

Video for My Family
(My dad my made this video for my family. It’s to the song “Home” by Phillip Phillips. I started crying during the first three notes..)

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You can follow me on twitter @bekahvalencia. Thanks for reading!

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My Great Power, My Great Responsibility

“With great power comes great responsibility.” – Spider-man, Churchill, Voltaire (you pick..)

I’ll venture to say that every person reading this post has heard this quote (whether you recognize it from Spider-man, Churchill, or Voltaire). I always thought of this quote as an almost passive responsibility. I.e. You have this amazing power, so make sure you don’t abuse it and use it for evil. It wasn’t until I saw the Amazing Spider-man and heard Uncle Ben reiterate the concept that I finally understood it. It’s an active responsibility. As Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) says it, it’s a “moral obligation.” It reminds me of another quote that has always thoroughly confused me:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

Really? That’s our “deepest” fear? I’ve always been perplexed by this concept of fearing power. And perhaps, this is not what Ms. Roosevelt meant, but for me, I now understand this fear as being a fear of the responsibility that comes with that power–a fear of a moral obligation.

When we recognize that we are in the possession of power, we recognize that we have to do something with it. The moral obligation is instinctual. And this responsibility… this is terrifying. Because, with power and with responsibility, also comes a cost. For Spider-man, it costs his physical health, his relationships, lives of those close to him. And it requires vulnerability. It requires him to be on the front lines, to see people die, and to allow himself to feel the magnitude of evil in this world.

My Great Power

I know what great power feels like. Not because I am powerful, but because I have been in the presence of great power. I believe in a God who formed the heavens and the earth– a God who is intimately personal but also infinitely powerful. A God who has the power to destroy evil and who is mighty to save.

Most people who know me, know that I value my faith. They know, because I tell them about what Jesus has done in my life and what he continues to do in my life.

My Great Responsibility

I recently had a discussion with a man in an airport about people sharing their faiths. He was upset that people felt the need to tell others what they believe. He was offended that people wouldn’t keep it to themselves and stay out of others’ lives. And I understand where he’s coming from. I’ve had people debate me and berate me because they believed something different than I did. It’s infuriating. I’ve seen the people who stand at sporting events with signs and megaphones telling the world that they are condemned. It’s frustrating.

However, as I said earlier, I still share what I believe. I even told the man in the airport what I believed. Because for me, it’s not a door to door contest to see how many “souls I can save.” I’m not enrolled in any competition and I don’t win holy points for sharing truth with friends and classmates. It’s a moral obligation. I love my friends, and I see the hurt they go through. I see evil in this world and I see confusion. I see senseless crimes and I experience hate and animosity.

And through it all, I have hope. I believe that God loved us so much that he gave his son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for the evil in this world and the evil in our hearts. And I believe that whoever believes upon the name of Jesus can have eternal life and never die. I believe that in this world we will have trials and tribulations but we can take heart, because Jesus says he has overcome the world.

How can I not share this hope? If you had the antidote for your friends’ hurt, wouldn’t you want to give it to them? I understand that not everyone will believe the same thing. I respect that. And I understand that people may be put off by me talking about my faith and speaking of an absolute truth. But I believe so strongly in this hope, that I’ll risk it, to share with the people I love.

So, just know, if I am sharing my faith with you, it is because I love you. I love you so much and I pray that you will know hope and joy and a peace that passes all understanding.

“But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!” – Jeremiah 20:9 (NLT)

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You can follow me on twitter @bekahvalencia. Thanks for reading!

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You’ve Gotta’ Have Faith

I often hear the phrase, “You’ve gotta’ have faith.” When someone’s having a hard time, they repeat it like a mantra: “You’ve gotta have faith;” or they sing George Michael as they “show their baby the door.”

But with all this talk about faith, what does it really mean?

Faith in what? In love? In yourself? In God?

I would always say that I had faith in God, meaning that I believed he existed. But while I had faith in God, I would bemoan the life he gave me, gripe about my circumstances, and begrudgingly think that this life was just the cross I had to bear. However, this isn’t the picture of faith that Hebrews 11 gives.

Hebrews 11:6 says that it is impossible to please God without faith, and says that whoever comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

I’ve come to the point in my relationship with Jesus that I don’t doubt his existence. Sometimes I don’t understand Him, sometimes I’m even frustrated or angry with the way He allows things to happen or with things I don’t understand about Him. BUT I never doubt that he exists. I thought this was faith, and I thought this was enough–belief that Jesus exists.

BUT, notice the second part of the verse. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. How many times do we feel like we’re subjecting ourselves to some kind of sad life because we’re following Jesus. “Ok, Jesus, I’ll follow you, even if it means I’ll be miserable.” How many times to we expect to be subjected to a monotonous list of obligations? Oh! But contraire my friends.

Jesus is a REWARDER of those who diligently seek Him. He’s a loving Father who wants to bless us. Now, this doesn’t mean that this life will be easy. The Christian life isn’t going to be butterflies and rainbows. There’s real hurt, real challenges. Anyone who’s known Jesus for even a little bit can tell you that. BUT we can have faith that there is a reward for all of this. In this life and after this life.

In this life, the rewards are harder to see. There are hard times that we’re all going to go through. But we have a relationship with an omnipotent Father who loves us and knows us personally. We’re never alone. We KNOW that all things work together for good, and that He will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly.  Even when we don’t understand his ways–even when we go through trials. We can have FAITH that he is a rewarder of those who are seeking Him. We can have faith that somehow, Jesus is growing us through our hardships. He is using our lives, he is making us stronger, and he is working all things together for good. And when the rewards of this life are hard to see, when the tribulations of this world bring you down, we can remember:

In this world, we will have trials and tribulations, but TAKE HEART, for he has OVERCOME the world! -John 16:33

And after this life: We will live forever with the one who loves us, with the one who died for us, with the one who knows us fully and completely and loves us just the same. We will be in a place with no more tears, no more pain. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. (Rev. 21:4)

So take heart! Your fight is not in vain. And when you’re feeling down, when you’re upset, just remember: YOU’VE GOTTA’ HAVE FAITH.

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You can follow me on twitter @bekahvalencia. Thanks for reading!

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A New Kind of New Years Resolution

New Years sucks.

Well… it’s not always all bad, but it tends to be horribly overrated. There’s so much hype about new years. “Who are you going to kiss at midnight? What are your  New Years Resolutions? You know that New Years Eve sets the tone for the rest of your year right?” There’s so much pressure for this to be a night of magic and wonder. Thousands of people fly to New York just to stand in Times Square late at night with a bunch of strangers to count down from ten and watch a ball drop. Millions of people make resolutions, and gyms are packed… until about three months later.

What’s the draw? This year I was dreading New Years. It was the first new years that I would spend apart from a person I had spent every New Years with since 2005. I had a lot of hardship in the past year and I really wanted to forget that 2011 happened. I didn’t want to celebrate a new year after all the hardship of the old one. However, I mustered up the energy to go spend New Years Eve with some good friends, drink apple cider, and watch the ball drop. Ten minutes till midnight I asked if we could all pray, and I said a prayer. As I started praying, I began to realize the draw for New Years. As I began to thank God for 2011 and ask him for his guidance in the upcoming year, I realized that 2012 was a fresh start. I could finally close the chapter for 2011 and look to the future.

As my friends and I touched glasses as the countdown started, a few of us agreed that 2011 sucked. But then I realized that the whole reason 2012 was so exciting for me was BECAUSE of 2011. Every hardship you go through, every lesson you learn is preparing you for the future. 2012 can be great, BECAUSE of everything you learned in 2011.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer selves are wasting away, our inner selves are being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:16-17)

And you know what the beautiful thing is about this verse? It says we are being renewed “day by day.” So while New Years is a beautiful representation of a new start, if we screw things up a few weeks into 2012 we don’t have to give up hope. We don’t have to lose heart. We are being renewed day by day. Jesus’s mercies are new every morning.

Many of the resolutions you made on January 1st may fail, your gym membership may start collecting money while you lounge on your couch come March, and your house may stay just as messy as last year. BUT there’s one thing you can count on. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

So… I propose a new kind of resolution. This year I resolve to live life as a new creation. I know I will mess up. I know that this year will bring its own hardships. But this isn’t a resolution that ends the first time I mess up, because His mercies are new each and every morning.

This year in 2012:

Live new. Makes mistakes and learn from this. If you fall down, don’t stay down. Don’t push 2011 so far from your memory that you forget to learn from it. Remember the good from 2011. Dream big. Look to the future. Live every day as if you’ve been given a second chance. LIVE NEW.

“Hallelujah, all will be made new.”

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You can follow me on twitter @bekahvalencia. Thanks for reading!

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How to Be Great: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Pride

I admit it. I have a pride issue. Pride’s a tricky thing to get around, because if you’re prideful, you never want to admit that it’s a problem for you. So the fact that I’m finally admitting it probably means it’s been an issue for a while.

Pride also manifests itself in strange ways. For example, who would have thought that growing closer to God would lead me to fall into sin? It’s not a direct cause, of course, but it is a pitfall I slipped into along the way.

It started this summer and beginning of this semester when I really began to draw closer to God. On the heels of a bad break-up and tough times with friends, I had thrown all I had into pursuing God. He was the only thing I could rely on. I learned so much, Jesus became so real to me—so close. I cleaned up sin patterns in my life (only through the power of Christ), I started reaching out to people at school, joined Discipleship Team on Christian Challenge. I thought I was finally on the right track. And I was, for a while, but then my progress became too big of a part of my life.

The friends who had frustrated me during the summer, I began to push away. I had “forgiven” them, I thought. But now I used what I saw as their immaturity in Christ to justify my distance from them. I was frustrated and expected them to have experienced the same growth I did. This was a plausible excuse to me. God couldn’t expect me to be my “brother’s keeper” right?

Today I read this passage:

 46An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side 48and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.

-Luke 9: 46-48

I’ve read this before and just thought, “Oh silly disciples, arguing about how great they are. What a stupid argument I would never have.” And I wouldn’t… out loud. But this is exactly what I’m doing in my head when I think of some of my friends. “Oh, I’m more spiritually mature than them, so I don’t have to deal with them and their “worldly ways.’” (Or whatever more eloquently justified thoughts go through my mind).

But Jesus tells me just the opposite. He tells me to accept his children in his name. Be there for everyone, regardless of what they’re struggling with, regardless of what they’ve done to you, and regardless of how much better than them you feel you are. He then goes on to tell me, I’m not that great after all.

How can we be great?

By accepting Jesus’s children in His name. By being the least of these—a servant to all, (Matt. 9:35) and by humbling ourselves like a child (Matt. 18:4).

So, note to self (and anyone who struggles like me): Stop thinking you’re above everyone else. You are a child. A child depends on his parents for everything. It’s not by my own power that I resist temptation. It’s not by my own power that I can even love or grow closer to Jesus. I’m a CHILD. I am completely and utterly dependent on my Jesus for every bit of nourishment that I receive. If I can look at my life with this mindset, maybe I’ll be more compassionate and loving. Maybe I’ll be more of a servant, and receive others in Christ’s name—knowing that He did the same for me. It’s not a matter of if others deserve it, because I can assure you, I am so, so much less deserving of the love and acceptance of Jesus Christ.

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My Biggest Temptation

My biggest temptation right now isn’t a guy, it’s not gaining approval from others, it’s not workaholism. It’s running away–from everything and everyone–responsibilities, people, tough friendships, worries about my future. Every time I’m stressed, I just put on music and look through pictures of all the different places I can go. I fantasize about that one weekend where I won’t have anyone that I have to see–where I can just go sit in a café in downtown LA for a whole day with just me and Jesus.

But you know what? (And this is me preaching to myself right now). God never said life would be easy. And if loving people were easy, it wouldn’t be love. Love takes sacrifice, and it takes being concerned for others needs over your own. It takes loving even when all you want is to be loved. Love is loving someone even at the times when they can’t love you back; when they can’t give you what you feel like you need. Friendships and relationships aren’t about what you can get from another person. They’re about putting others interests and needs above your own.

And I can’t choose when my break comes. I’m reminded of when Jesus was led through the wilderness. He refused the temptation to change the rocks into bread and feed himself. He was waiting for God’s timing. And on that 40th day, he didn’t know it was going to be the last day. For all he knew, he could be wandering for 100 more days, but he trusted and relied on God to bring him rest and sustenance.

I pray I can do the same. For now, I press on to the goal to which God has called me through Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14). And though it feels as if I am hard pressed on every side, I am not crushed. I am not in despair and I am never abandoned. (2 Cor. 4:8-9)

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'” -Matthew 11:28

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How to Make Friends for Life

This week, I helped one of my best friends move. I swear it was like a movie. My friends and I had said goodbye to her, we got in our cars to leave, I turned on “I”m Only Me When I’m With You” by Taylor Swift, and she ran back to us from our house crying and gave us hugs. I even started tearing up, and you must understand… tearing up for me in public is the equivalent of most girls bawling. I’m not one to cry in front of people.

It’s almost strange that I am this emotionally attached and invested in this friend, not pertaining at all to the kind of person she is, but because I’ve only known her for a little over a year (most of that time we spent apart while I was living in LA). I have friends that I’ve spent all four years of high school with that I’m not as close to, and I truly think that this kind of friendship only comes about by two things: a strong foundation and vulnerability.

Both of these elements require a degree of intentionality. To an extent, friendships just happen. You find people you have things in common with and who you enjoy hanging out with and when you begin to do it more often, you have a new friend. But how many friendships can you count where you enjoyed each other’s company and you had things in common, but you drifted apart or lost touch because it was more effort than you were willing to put in? Now, this isn’t an entirely bad thing with some friends. People drift apart and it’s impossible (aside from Facebook stalking) to keep up with every friend you’ve ever had. But every so often, those special friends walk into our lives-those friends we don’t want to let just walk right back out, and this is how you keep them:

A Strong Foundation

One of the first things I noticed when I got to college was the shallowness of some of the friendships I saw forming, even more shallow than some high school friendships I had witnessed. Girls would go out and party together, hook up with guys together, and post things on each other’s Facebooks- and this was the foundation of their friendship. If you asked a lot of these girls how they met or what they did together, the majority would say that they partied together for the majority of their time. This is nothing against partying, or partying with your friends; but when that is the foundation of your friendship, your friendship doesn’t appear destined to last longer than your partying days- drifting becomes increasingly inevitable.

Close friendships are founded on something deeper. They come when they are founded on a common bond that won’t fade away. For some of my close friends that common bond is God. Our friendship is founded on the fact that we both love and serve the same Lord. This is something that won’t fade away. For some of my other close friends, our friendship is founded on sharing a little bit of ourselves. It comes from giving to the relationships. Loving unselfishly and them loving back. It comes from a mindset that is not “what is this friend doing for me?” or “why hasn’t this friend done ___ for me?.” It’s a mindset that is the exact opposite. It comes from loving that person and thinking, “what does this friend need right now?” “how can I be there for this friend regardless of what I’m going through?” It’s hard to be unselfish. It’s hard to put someone’s needs above your own or to be there for another person when you are so clearly struggling yourself, but this is what makes this foundation so strong. It’s hard work to build a brick house, but when the winds come, it won’t fall.

Vulnerability 

However, the brick house you are building houses two of you. Not just one. Something I personally struggle with is letting people in. It’s easier for me to meet everyone else’s needs than to admit I have any of my own. I’ll help my friends and buy them things, let them talk to me; but when it comes to my problems, I like to pretend I have it all together. I struggle with admitting I need help. A lot of girls do. This comes as no surprise when so many girl friends are prone to gossiping and backstabbing. It’s a lot of risk opening up to other people. However, friendships like many of the the best things in life ,only come when you take a risk.

This doesn’t mean to tell your deepest insecurities to the first girl you meet at your freshman orientation or to the girl who just got done blabbing about one of her other friends. You need to be wise. Once you meet a friend who you think you can trust, take a risk, let her in. Tell her you need help. Tell her what is hurting you and let her help you with the burden. Not every girl is going to become a “kindred spirit” or “bosom friend,” and you might get burned a time or two or fifteen; but in the end, the purest gold has been refined by the fire. If you want a friendship you can treasure, then risk jumping through the flames a time or two. It’ll be worth it when you reach the other side.

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How To Change: Tips for Transformation

You swore you would never do it again- swore that was in the past, swore that you weren’t that person anymore, and then when you least expect it, you fall again. You fall back into that seemingly inescapable circle of doing the very things you hate. You’re frustrated, exhausted, and out of ideas- contemplating resigning yourself to this old life to which you are in bondage.

It doesn’t matter what it is- a bad habit, an addiction, a harmful relationship- we all have those things that we keep going back to. The things that we voluntarily enslave ourselves to. If you’re anything like me, it frustrates you to no end but you can’t seem to stop. You read self-help articles, you confess your problem to a few close friends, your thoughts are occupied with a search for a solution, and in an attempt to change you read articles like this one.

I’ve been there- in bondage. I tried it all. I had an addiction that caused me shame and guilt, but I couldn’t escape it. No checklist, no amount of rituals or habits could change the way I lived. But then I did change. It wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t a lot of work in the sense of what we think work is. The way I changed was through a transformation of my mind. Romans 12:1 says, ” Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This is not some strange magical occurrence. You can’t force a transformation anymore than you can force yourself to stop thinking of an addiction.

A transformation of the mind comes through replacing the things you think about now with something else. Instead of focusing on your problem and how unsurmountable it seems, focus on something bigger than your problems. Don’t think of what you DON’T want to do, but rather what you DO want to do. I generalize this so that it can apply to everyone, but for me, the something that was bigger than my addiction was God, and I do truly believe that God is bigger than ANY problem for ANY person.

I made my life about pleasing God and focused on that ambition rather than focusing on what I was trying not to do. Eventually, I didn’t think about my addiction anymore. This is not to say that I wasn’t tempted. I am still tempted on a daily basis, but having this new mindset pushed the thought out of the forefront of my mind. I also must add that, while this process is not magical, it is supernatural. I couldn’t have done this without the strength of God whose strength is made perfect through my weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)

One more thing: I most definitely DO NOT claim to have all the answers. I’m writing this post from the standpoint of a person who has changed but recently found herself giving back into temptation, voluntarily placing herself back in the chains of the sin that so easily ensnares us. BUT I realized my problem. My mindset is not where it should be. I don’t wake up thinking: “How can I please God today?” I wake up thinking, “How can I please myself today?” And when I’m not pleased, there goes my whole day and my whole mindset. I am back to square one desperately trying to please myself, and this is where I fall. But, I can get back up because I know I am forgiven and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)

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