Matrimony Musings

Hi Darling,

It is marriage season and I am EXCITED! As I prepare for the marriages of friends and family, I started reflecting on marriage and what it really means for us as believers. Marriage was created by God to be pure, beautiful, sacrificial and long lasting but somewhere along the way things changed…

WHY DO WE VIEW MARRIAGE AS A PANACEA TO ALL LIFE’S ILLS, AS IF WHEN WE GET MARRIED ALL THE ISSUES AND CHALLENGES WE FACE WILL DISSIPATE AND LIFE WILL BECOME RAINBOWS AND LOLLIPOPS?

Guilty as charged, I used to look at marriage in that way.

Time to grow up!

We must enter into marriage sober and fully prepared for the commitment that marriage is. For those of us who have subconsciously built the fantasy of marriage through the likes of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (my personal favorite) and romantic comedies like Pretty Woman, we are in for a rude awakening.

Don’t get me wrong, marriage is meant to be joyful, life-giving and earth shattering but these movies and images just do not provide a REALISTIC view of marriage. Having yet to make a marriage covenant to another, I can only speak humbly from what I have observed and the insight I have received from personal married mentors.

THE PURPOSE OF THIS POST IS TO URGE SINGLES AND EVEN THOSE ALREADY MARRIED TO VIEW THE COVENANT OF MARRIAGE IN A REALISTIC MANNER AND EXPERIENCE IT WITH GOD AT THE CENTER.

A few months ago, I was at bible study at church and the pastor was completing a three part series on how to restore a broken marriage. As the sermon entered the Q&A portion, there were light moments but there were some painful ones. One woman in tears, pleaded with the pastor to give her advice for how to deal with her husband’s mid life crisis, she stated he went to bed a sweet kind man one day and woke up transformed into a man she does not recognize. Another woman talked about being married to someone who did not believe in God and even forbade her to tithe and yet another shared the pain of being married to a man who cheated on her incessantly.

This is the side of marriage that is not often shown on the silver screen or thought of when one prepares for her wedding day. But, the trials and sorrows of marriage are REAL, just as real as the the honeymoon period and the other joyful times that we singles anticipate. We have to fully understand the lifetime commitment of marriage. The world has made it so easy to marry and divorce when things are not going well but that is not the original purpose of a marriage designed by God.

MARRIAGE WAS DESIGNED FOR SERVICE, TO GIVE BELIEVERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO IMITATE THE RELATIONSHIP CHRIST HAS WITH THE CHURCH.

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing[ her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:22-27

Marriage is a call to sacrifice, a call to give. It is quite ironic that most marry to receive and not give.

ARE YOU SELFISH?

Don’t get married yet, you are not ready.

DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO HAVE THINGS YOUR WAY?

Don’t do it yet.

OR MAYBE YOU RELY ON OTHERS FOR YOUR HAPPINESS AND TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF?

Hold off on marriage.

EVERY WOMAN I KNOW WHO HAS BEEN MARRIED FOR AT LEAST FIVE YEARS HAS SAID MARRIAGE IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART, IT IS NOT A WALK IN THE PARK, IT IS BEAUTIFUL, IT IS SPECIAL BUT IT REQUIRES MATURITY AND DEDICATION.

One of the last acts Jesus committed before he gave the ultimate sacrifice was to wash the feet of his disciples. These twelve disciples were his family; he was closest to them than any other human beings in the world. And he chose to show his love by washing their feet, not their heads, arms or legs but washing one of the dirtiest parts of a human body with love, attention and care. Marriage should be entered into with a heart of service. if two individuals enter into a marriage to serve one another, there will be balance and peace.

We, as human beings are naturally needy. We need help for our fears, insecurities, addictions, problems. But, when we seek another person to solve all our problems, it creates an imbalance and unrealistic expectations.

How can you cure me when you suffer from the same disease of sin?

Only God can provide healing for the emptiness and brokenness we feel.

As a spouse, forgiveness is so important for a healthy marriage. As believers, we are called to care for each other at our lowest moments and times when we are most ugly and unlovable. Some might call this unconditional love, love that is ever present no matter the circumstances or situation. When you say this, some mention situations of physical violence. In those situations, a person should remove him/herself from the environment and love from afar. God does not want us physically hurt under any circumstances.

And others may say, “ Yinka, I cannot forgive him, you do not know what he did or said to me.” You are right, you cannot forgive him in your own strength, you need Jesus to forgive him. There are some things that are beyond our flesh and sometimes forgiveness and love can be difficult to emote when a person has hurt you to your core. But, Jesus is the answer. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for us, in the history, there has been no other man who has suffered and experienced more than our savior and right in the middle of the throes of his agony, he prayed for those individuals who had inflicted so much pain on him even as they mocked him. He can give that power to you.

And lastly, let’s talk about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. There is a reason why God commanded wives to respect their husband and husbands to love their wives. He made us so he understands our wiring and what we need. Men desperately need respect and honor, they need to know their wives think highly of them, value them and honor their opinions, deeds and who they are as individuals.

I remember when I was in my 20s and had my first serious boyfriend and we were in a public place and I corrected something that he said in a not so kind way. Also, I remember riding in circles for hours on a first date who insisted the movie theater is just around the corner. I let him know he did not know where he was going and we needed to ask someone for directions. Yet another situation, I felt one of my male friends said something inappropriate and called him out on it in public.

NONE OF THESE SITUATIONS ENDED WELL, NOT ONE.

First of all let me say my delivery was not good. Secondly, men naturally recoil at disrespect especially publicly.

Now that I am a bit more seasoned and a lot wiser, I would have handled those situations completely different.

Men absolutely need respect, but maybe it is hard for you to respect your husband because of what has happened in the past.

This is where you have to ask God to change your heart, help restore the respect for your husband. You must make a choice to dwell on his positives rather than his negatives and the good will increase.

Singles, as you prepare for marriage, do an inner evaluation to understand the areas you may need to work on as you prepare for marriage and ask for God’s help to grow you.

The Power of Faith

Hi Darling!

Doubt. One of the greatest weapons the devil uses to thwart the miracles of God.

God is all that is miraculous in this world, He does miracles like how we take breaths. It is necessary and intrinsic to who He is and the best part is He loves to do it. He is giving, loving and gracious, He absolutely loves to rescue, restore and bless His children.

So with all that said, why are there not more miracles??

In Mark 6, Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth, ready to bless them with the word of God and the miracles of healing and salvation but he could not because they had no faith. They were too familiar with him, they knew his family, they remembered him as a child and could not wrap their minds around Jesus the Savior.

So what did Jesus do? He left. He took all His power, His salvation, His miracles that He graciously did for so many and He left.

There is a lesson for here for us, in the face of stubborn doubt and unbelief, Jesus cannot work and move our situation. Doubt chokes faith and immobilizes it not allowing grace and blessing to flow in our lives.

And typically whatever issue that you struggle with the most in the area of faith is where God most wants to bless you.

So let’s unpack this issue of doubt some more. I can tell you where I get tripped up and I believe it will be familiar for many, it is the question of how?

We just do not see how it can happen. The cost is too high, the statistics are too bad, no one like me has ever done it before or it is impossible to achieve it so quickly are the thoughts that race through our heads when we face a seemingly impossible situation.

And right in that moment of ruminating the utter hopelessness of your situation, you have to STOP!

The how is NOT your responsibility or problem, you are trespassing in a territory that is not your own.

The how is God’s plan and not yours.

So my friend, you must let go of the reins, pass them over and allow God to guide the situation. Easier said than done right?

We live in a society that is all about doing, if you have a problem, DO something about it, don’t just sit there and that can make faith hard.

I remember when I was waiting for God to provide a job for me to move to Atlanta. He had specifically told me to stop applying for jobs and just be still about it. I knew God told me I was moving but there was no job not even any prospects. Friends would ask me, well what company are you interested in? Where are you applying? All I could muster up was not sure what company and I am not applying. I would then say I am praying and believing God for the job. The incredulous expressions said it all, “how are you going to get a job without applying for it??” Their guess was as good as mine but I stayed the course. During that period of waiting, I got busy doing other things, I prepared to go on a missions trip, launched my ministry in DC as well as prayed and fasted for God to do a miracle. One day, a friend of mine who lived in Atlanta contacted me said she had seen a job that would be perfect for me, she sent them my resume, within two weeks, I interviewed over the phone and had an on-site interview in Atlanta with the staff for the organization I would support…not having applied for the job. When I finally did complete an application, it was a formality, they already decided to select me for a position. A miracle…

God is good and He is consistent but in order for Him to do a miracle in your life, you must give Him the room to do it and that space is called faith.

So how can you build up your faith?

Prayer and Fasting, this is huge, your flesh and spirit are on opposite sides of the spectrum, the first is self-led and the other God-led. Think of it like a seesaw, when you discipline and starve your flesh, your spirit gains strength and the same could be said vice-versa. You should fast as led by the Holy Spirit and a good rule of thumb is if you do not want to fast from it, you probably should. If there is an activity or food that is a stronghold in your life, that is a good candidate for fasting. The prayer part is just as important as the act of fasting, both go hand in hand. The prayer is what strengthens your resolve and spirit.

Identify a Faith Hero. There are so many great examples of faith in the Bible. Hebrews 11, one of my favorite passage of the Bible details the numerous individuals who put their faith in God. The Bible is not a bunch of fairy tales for us to enjoy in the confines of the church or Sunday school. They are examples meant to inspire courage, faith and trust in our Father. Despite the changing times, these stories of faith are still very relevant today and we can draw parallels from their lives to ours. Three of my favorite faith heroes are David, Daniel and Joseph, each one of them remained rooted in faith despite the impossible and life threatening circumstances. God always came to their rescue and met them at the level of their faith.

Spend Time in the Word of God. As you spend time in the Word of God, you will get to know the Lord. A relationship with God is like any relationship, the more time you spend with Him, the more you will know Him and the more you know Him, the more you can trust Him. He longs to be known by you. Also, just like any relationship, trust engenders love and greater intimacy.

Don’t be like the children of Israel in Numbers 13, 14. God brought them so far, delivered them from Egypt, parted the Red Sea, provided them with manna and then quail among many other .miracles. He provided for them, protected them, professed to them and just loved them. Yet, when it came time for them to pass the last test, they failed. They looked at themselves rather than looking towards Him. They got so caught up in their own frailties, weaknesses and fears, they denounced him. They complained about the Lord and did not see the immense blessing in the Promised Land.

In order to get to the Promised Land, it requires faith in God. Why?

Because that is how God gets the glory, that is how you know God is at work when he gifts you The Promised Land by faith.

God can only do that when you cannot receive the Promised Land in your own strength.

Perhaps, the statistics are not in your favor and you do not have the right credit score or resources for a much needed home or perhaps, your child is sick and you do not have money for the care or medicine. Or just maybe, God has promised you abundant land for your family but it is already occupied and the inhabitants are powerful and frightening.

Where God guides, He will provide, we must believe that so we can take hold of all that God has ready for us.

The Gift of Boldness Part 1

Hey Darling!

Perhaps you are like me and nothing inspires you more than a story of boldness.

A protagonist who is facing what seems to be an impossible situation, yet is able to overcome and triumph with amazing rewards and results. One of my favorite movies is the Lord of the Rings, the plot line focuses on the unassuming hobbit Frodo and his charming companion Samwise. 

Frodo and Samwise experience a journey unlike any other in a quest to return peace and goodness back to their world by destroying an  evil ring. Unlike the other characters in this story, Frodo  and Samwise lack many of the qualities we would associate with heroism, they are not talented in fighting battles, extraordinarily intelligent or even experienced in overcoming evil. But they have willing hearts and a great deal of courage. These are often the most important qualities for people who achieve amazing results in the face of impossible odds.

So what are the impossible odds in your life, those challenges and struggles that seem insurmountable or impossible to overcome? Those issues that can put a dark cloud over the landscape of your life so much so that you begin to believe the sun will never come out again. There are times where those situations require you to do the opposite of your instincts, to do the unthinkable and the unexplainable by acting in boldness.

Boldness is just in a word unforgettable, it has the potential to leave an indelible impression on the minds and lives of those who experience it. T

he Bible is chock full of testimonies of boldness of people who trust God in the midst of insurmountable obstacles like famine, death, captivity, handicaps and powerful armies.

One of the most lauded examples of boldness and my personal favorite is the story of David and Goliath. When the story begins, the Israelites and Philistines are at war, the Philistines send their best warrior, Goliath, a giant experienced in the art of battle and combat. The Israelites must now send their best warrior to fight Goliath with the winner achieving victory for his whole kingdom. But, there is a problem, every Israelite warrior including King Saul are absolutely terrified by Goliath and refuse to fight him.

Enter David, a naive yet confident young shepherd who by all outward appearances seems to be  the absolute worst person to square off against the feared Goliath. But, unlike the other warriors, David volunteers, he actively seeks an opportunity to fight and beat Goliath. After some discussion and bargaining, David gets his wish and confronts Goliath with his own weapons of choice, a shepherd’s staff, sling and five smooth stones. 

And then the impossible happens, David slings a stone at Goliath, kills him and wins the battle for Israel. I can only imagine the shock and awe that followed not just from Israel but the Philistine nation as well. 

There is an unsettling that takes place when the impossible is achieved, it shakes the very foundation of our consciousness and our way of seeing the world, it bangs out doors where there were previously only steel walls. That is the power of boldness and operating in the power of God to achieve the unimaginable for His glory.

To understand what David was able to accomplish in this pivotal moment in his life, we have to understand the makings of David, the makings of this boldness.

Isolation with God. David’s profession was a shepherd, as a result, he spent a lot of time in isolation away from people with just sheep and God. Alone time with God is so important to creating a spirit of boldness. When alone, God has the time to speak to you, change you and shape you into the person He has called you to be. The person He has called you to be is like Him and yes, God is powerful, loving and giving but He is also a rabble rouser, unconventional and definitely bold. Whoever or whatever you spend time with will pass on their characteristics to you. This is why it is so important that you make the effort to immerse yourself in the word of God, keep company with Godly people and listen to Godly media. When you spend all of your time with worldly people participating in worldly activities,  you will unconsciously adopt worldly beliefs, thoughts and mannerisms. Have you ever had a group of friends and over time you notice you begin to sound like each other. You use the same phrases, talk with the same cadence and even think similarly? Whatever or whomever you are joined to will affect your life and not always in a positive manner. Romans 12:2 says, “ Do not confirm to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so you can prove what is the pleasing and perfect will of God.” David spent oodles of time with God, therefore, it is not a surprise that when faced with the same situation as others he acted differently, he acted in boldness with the spirit of God. 

A Servant’s Heart. Shepherding is a humbling profession, it was not a well respected position in those times in Israel. As a shepherd, you are a servant of the sheep, of all things. It is your responsibility to make sure they are well taken care of, fed, protected, rested and thriving. Sheep are not necessarily the easiest to tend, they have minds of their own, they will wander off, be stubborn or even refuse to obey the commands of the shepherd. David undoubtedly had to deal with all of these frustrations yet he took pride in caring for them. In 1 Samuel 17:34, David says, “ When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death.” When you serve others, it changes your outlook on life, you recognize your life is not for yourself but tied to others and their ability to thrive.

The Forgotten One. Samuel, the most renowned prophet, arrived in Bethlehem to anoint the future king of Israel from the house of Jesse. Jesse and all of his sons were invited to have an audience with Samuel. Can you imagine the excitement and anticipation? It was probably one of the most exciting moments for Jesse and his family. However, they intentionally or unintentionally forgot the most crucial member of their family in this instance, David. But God passed over all seven of Jesse’s older brothers to honor David. 1 Samuel 16:10, “ All seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “ The Lord has not chosen any of these. Then Samuel asked, “ Are these all the sons you have?” There is still the youngest, Jesse replied, But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.” Send for him at once, Samuel said, we will not sit down to eat until he arrives.” 

When you are forgotten by the world, it leaves a gap for God to find you. God loves to take who the world has forgotten and make them significant for His glory. God showcases His glory with the ignored and sidelined. 1 Corinthians 1:27 says, “Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” 

If you have felt forgotten, passed over or otherwise ignored, take heart, this is exactly the position in which God can use you boldly for his glory.

Masterpiece

For most of my life, I have not really liked myself. I just sort of put up with me like an intolerable sibling that you wish you could shake but know there is no way. I secretly wished I was more intelligent, more witty, more pretty, more accomplished and just more. When I experienced rejection, disappointment or heartbreak subconsciously I attributed it to the fact that I was not enough. Yet when things went my way, it must have been dumb luck because I was not really sure how it happened to me. 

I hid my distaste for myself pretty well, you would never know it to interact with me or even as my friend.

It was not something you could easily see and I always said self affirming and confident comments concerning myself but I was hiding. In hindsight, I do not believe I was intentionally dishonest, I just did not know me and I just said what I thought I was supposed to say not what I really, truly felt. The truth of it all was that not only did I not like me, I actually hated myself. 

Can you relate to any of this?

It can be tough to love yourself in this world. This world encourages comparison, materialism and accomplishment. The house of self-worth and self-love is often built on the shaky foundation of image, positions, relationships and possessions. It is conditional tied to outcome and not intrinsic.  So, I love myself based on conditions, because I have this car, this job, this opportunity, this partner, even if my hair looks cute today, it is based on external things, conditions outside of who we truly are, which is dangerous. Oftentimes, the shaky house must come crashing down for us to discover what it truly means to love oneself. We can then see the foundation for what it truly is, weak and flimsy. And then begin to build our house on a foundation that is unshakable. 

A big part of loving yourself is knowing yourself. Well that creates a problem because many of us will not take the time to get to know ourselves, slow down from the rat race, the continuous checklists, appointments, events and need to dos in order to spend some alone time. I know that life all too well, I had no idea who I was, had no interest in getting to know me, I much preferred hearing how others experienced me. Until the day came, where I had no choice but to face myself and get to know who I actually was, the good, the bad and the ugly. One of the most fascinating parts about learning oneself is that it is a lifelong journey, you will evolve, change and progress and learn more about yourself as time goes on. Each lesson learned and opportunity provides an experience to love yourself more.

Why is self love so important?

Simply because it affects everything in your life, the way you see yourself will affect how you see God, the world and others. It will affect your ability to follow God and do His will. It will affect your capacity to serve others. It will determine the presence or absence of joy in your life. It will dictate your friends, your job, your surroundings and even the spouse that you marry. It will affect what type of parent you will be or currently are and how you will raise your kids, it will determine how you show up in situations, what you permit and what you do not allow. It will determine your ability to achieve the purpose God has for you in this world.

The awesome part about this journey is that God does not leave us alone to figure this out, He would much prefer that you see yourself through His eyes with His outlook. As our creator, He can provide detail and context that you cannot possibly understand. The best way to understand and fully optimize anything is to understand the purpose and instructions for use from its creator.

Let’s take a look at how God sees us to see how it measures up to how we think about ourselves.

First God, formed and knitted us in our mother’s wombs, He determined how you would look, the way your eyes would look, your smile and your hands, your temperament and your laugh. He created all of that. In all of his time, God has NEVER made a mistake, never created something that was just OK. Everything he creates is good so by process of elimination that must mean you are good too. 

GOOD.

God also says that we are his masterpiece created to do good works. Mona Lisa is probably one of the most well known masterpieces in the world. Painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, the original is housed in the Louvre in Paris, France with armed guards, under climate controlled LED bulletproof glass. The original is worth nearly a billion dollars, the Mona Lisa has been imitated, reproduced and even spoofed but there is only one. That is how God sees you as His masterpiece, He created only one of you and you are priceless to Him so much so He gave Himself up for you.

MASTERPIECE.

When there is an exchange that takes place, it demonstrates equal value between the two items in question. To God, He believes your life, your worth and value is comparable to His own. What incredible love….

BELOVED.

When you see yourself through the eyes of God, it is no longer about where you measure up, it is all about the inherent value that you have just by being His child, His offspring.

VALUED.