Thursday, January 16, 2014

To Be Vunerable...

The rapper Tupac (2 Pac) to me was an interesting person.
 His mom was a former Black Panther turned crack addict and he grew up in a mix environment of education and street struggle. Listening to his earlier work you can hear how socially conscious his music was, but like people both in and out of the music industry, those around you can influence your views and behaviors and ultimately lead you down the wrong path of destruction that can lead to death (which in his case it did).
One thing that a lot of people don't know about Tupac is not only was he a rapper but he was also a poet. One that stuck out in my mind a lot was: "The Fear In The Heart Of A Man"
"Against an attacker I will boldly take my stand
Because my heart will show fear for no man
But for a broken heart I run with freight
Scared to be blind in a vulnerable night
I believe this fear is in every man
Some will acknowledge it, others will fail to understand
There is no fear in a shallow heart
Because shallow hearts don't fall apart
But feeling hearts that truly care
Are fragile to the flow of air
And if I am to be true then I must give my fragile heart
I may receive great joy or you may return it ripped apart"
One of the biggest fears that I realize I have developed during my singleness is a fear of being vulnerable. Many times people think I have a fear of commitment which seems to be the stereotypical response that most women give men, but for me it has nothing to do with commitment. If anything I want to do nothing more than to commit to one girl. I would absolutely love the opportunity to do that, but the one thing that I feel is stopping me is being vulnerable.
I HATE being vulnerable.
I feel so naked, especially when I am unsure of how the girl feels about me. It's one thing to have a crush and never tell them but it is another to tell them how you feel. I get anxiety over it. All these questions start racking up in my mind
"What if she only likes the idea of me?" (Ladies we will talk more about this later)
"What if she is talking to someone else?"
"What if I'm too much of a geek?"
"Did I say the wrong thing?"
"Am I trying too hard?"
"Am I not trying enough?"
"What if she thinks I am weird?"
"What if she breaks my heart?
"What if I think I like her but it's only an infatuation and I end up breaking her heart?"
It is honestly to the point where I will legit get anxiety. The worst is when they don't respond to a text. Then those questions really start to rack up. It was to the point that I would just wait for the rejection to happen. I would think of us dating at first but in the back of my mind I would just think "how long until she rejects me" and then it happens.
My unconscious fears slowly begin to creep up and seep out into my actions. I then become nervous, antsy, and unsure and now the once smooth Xavier is now the bumbling unconfident goof. I go from being Stephon to Urkel
It's not a pretty sight

But what does this have to do with our Christian walk with Christ? C.S. Lewis had a very interesting quote:

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."

Me staying with this fear of vulnerability is certainty not healthy and doesn't allow room for God to move within me. We are all called to love at some point in time. I pray during this season of my life that God changes and transforms my heart of stone into one of flesh

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." - Ezekiel 36:26

But for those reading this I pray the same for you.

It sucks, the heart breaks and disappointment we went through. It just plain sucks. It makes us question ourselves and wonder our worth, but we are not called to walk around forever with a heart of stone. We become bitter and it can also affect those around us.

That is why I have learned to wait on God.

The anxiety comes from trying to take control of a situation that is not in our control.

It's like ordering what you want at a restaurant and then following the waiter back into the kitchen and trying to make what you ordered, and when it doesn't come out the way you want, getting mad at the cook. Unless you know how to cook, you are not going to know what the heck you are doing.

When it comes to girls I have humbly learned that I don't know what the heck I am doing and I am going to humbly accept that and allow God to designate the place and time in my life when I am vulnerable enough to open my heart again.

So I hope to all of you reading this that you also take this into mind during the path of singleness to really allow God space to work. He is in the kitchen cooking up something. And we all know the best dishes are the dishes that take the longest to make but when they arrive in front of us we enjoy every second of it. We don't sit at the table anxiously awaiting for it to come. We talk, we drink, we laugh, we enjoy the moment we're in during that time and rejoice when the meal arrives. So while sitting at the table of singleness don't mop and look at all the other tables with food (food being relationships). Know that your food (relationship) is coming soon :).



Monday, January 6, 2014

Guard My Heart & Guide My Steps

I've always saw singleness like double dutch

For those who don't know what double dutch is, its a game played where you have two people on opposite ends of the jump rope and they are holding two jump ropes in each hand and they turn their hand in a circular motion going inwards. The person on the outside of the rope has to jump in at the right time. If you jump in too early and off beat you get hit by the rope, but if you don't jump in at all then you'll be standing there looking like an idiot with people just randomly swinging ropes. As soon as you are in you have to keep up with the rhythm of the ropes, if not you won't last too long. Sometimes you jump in at the right time and stay in the rhythm for a while, sometimes you jump in and only after a few hops you mess up.

We feel like that sometimes when people we are attracted to come into our lives. When we see someone we like, we play this weird dance. We don't want to jump the gun too early and completely mess up something that could have been fun but you don't want to miss out and stand outside waiting when the invitation is clearly there. Even when you do hope in on time and sometimes you only make a few hops before you completely mess up.

I have come across this issue countless times during my long single life. A girl will always come along and I can see the invitation. I think to myself "OK I see the invitation, I see the opening, I have done this countless times, I know how to jump in, lets see if there is the time where I stay in there long."
I JUMP IN...after some successful few hops, I completely fail and the have to wait until the rope started spinning again.

What I would love, was if there was some kind of timer or green light. As soon as you are supposed to jump in, the light turns green and a metronome sound beeps so you know what pace to stay on. Things like that I always felt would make jumping in so easy. ( And FYI I ain't talking about jump rope).

The thing is, is that we do have a green light. It's called GOD.

I know corny connection right? But it is soo true.

The reason being is this, when we take that leap of faith of jumping into the complications of double dutch relationships what serves as our green light? Our heart! Why? Because that is what we were told to follow by society.

The common phrase now-a-days is "Follow your heart". I hear it from my friends all the time. I can be bit over calculating when it comes to when a girl likes me. I think of the possible outcomes of dating the person, traits that based on the past I have had a tough time with (women who swear, excessively drink, don't go to church, etc.) and when I explain to my friends (which I have now learned not to do) why I feel I should pursue anything with that girl the first thing that comes out of their mouth is

"You should follow your heart"

 What's crazy about this statement is that is very un-Christian.

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" -Jeremiah 17:9
Why would you follow something that at times is deceitful? If you knew someone who was deceitful and they told you, "Hey follow me, it's ok your friend's think its a good idea" would you go?
So then what are you supposed to do? You don't want to to whimsically put your heart out there for it to be shot down, but you also don't want to be a like the Tin-Man in the Wizard of Oz with no heart so what are you supposed to do?

The mindset I have came up with for the year of 2014 is:

"God guard my heart and guide my steps" 

The mantra came from this:

1) I want Christ to reside in my heart.

"So that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love" - Ephesians 3:17
He has knit me in my mother's womb. He knows me better than I know myself, so why allow my myself to mislead myself? Why allow the ghost of "What If?" to plague my mind? I'd rather have the Holy Spirit be control of the "What Is" than to allow the Ghost of Doubt control the "What If"

2) The heart tells a lot of our character. 

Jesus says it best in Mark 7: 20-23 when He talks about the heart and how it doesn't what we put IN our body but rather what comes OUT:
"Don't you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn't go into the heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body" He went on: "What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person's heart that evil thoughts come - sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person" - Jesus

3) Our own heart can be deceitful

Kinda like how I mentioned before that the heart above everything else is deceitful so why blindly only follow it?

4) God has set eternity in the hearts of man

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." - Ecclesiastes 3:11

I love this verse. This verse to me speaks volumes and is so true. God has something planned that the human heart can not even fathom. So instead of trying to comprehend it, instead of trying to lean in your own understanding, why not humbly accept that you are not in control of everything?

5) I don't know where I am going. But God does

"Direct my footsteps according to Your word; let no sin rule over me." - Psalms 119: 133

I don't know where I am ultimately going, but God does. Although I have eternity set in my heart, I have a mind that cannot fathom who He is, what I do have is feet that can walk. So while I walk on this path of God I want Him to guide me and direct me to where it is I have to go.

These five things lead to the one statement of "Guard my Heart & Guide my Steps"

I want God to guard my heart. Not like you would see in cartoons with a big castle, a wide moat, and a fire breathing dragon outside. But guard it like a football player would guard a football. Held underneath his arm tightly, running with full speed and power with the one goal of taking it to the end zone. And when I arrive to where it is I need to be, to be let go in cheer and in victory spiked down on the ground.

I pray to God to keep it safe, to correct it, to nurture it, for it grow so that when the time comes He can let it go to where it needs to be let go. While He is nurturing my heart I want Him to guide my steps and show me where it is I need to be. What it is He needs me to do. What things I should stay away from.

So I pray the same to all of you, those who in this season that are walking the single path. Pray that God might guard your hear and guide your step. Pray that God might cultivate your heart, not just for the sole purpose of finding a spouse but to be an instrument for whatever gift or ministry He has for you.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Seeking counsel from Non-Christians

Like I have mentioned various times before I have two set of friends. Those that are Christians and those that don't make Christianity a huge priority in their lives. Both groups of friends are great and ultimately I know deep down in side want the best for me. The only thing is that their definition of what's "best" is different.

With the New Year comes reflection and I have reflected a whole lot. I have realized that as much as I have been hurt by girls, I have done my fair share of damage done. I can sit here and complain that I am lonely when I can look back at the countless times girls have pursued me or friends have set me up with girls and I have told them "no". The reason for me saying "no" has always been for, in my mind, justifiable reasons. But it has been enough that this year I am going to make an active attempt to stand clear of any set ups or people showing interest, unless God says, "here you go, I choose her for you wither you say yes or no". 

What the heck does this have to do with counsel Xavier?

This is something I want to tell all my friends about. I want to speak and talk to my friends about this choice that I have made and I want them to help me during this path of singleness. I want them to keep me accountable whenever I might be unintentionally misleading to a girl. I want them to keep me grounded and away from the "What if" scenarios that pop up every time I see a girl I think is cute. I want them to remind me to focus on the ministries that I have committed myself to and to focus on my school work. 

But that is the tough thing about seeking the counsel and advice of those that walk in the path of Christ and those that don't. Again I am in no place to place judgment on anyone and I am not, but there is something about seeking those that are in Christ and those that are not. Had I read that statement of singleness to many of my Christian friends they would have heard it and 100% agreed with me and helped me. On the other hand those that aren't really in Christ would have heard that and probably laughed and thought that was crazy and that I was "over reading into things" "to just continue dating around" that " that is what dating is all about". But the path and perspective they are in is different than yours.

To many a path is a path, it'll eventually lead to somewhere. But that is the difference between the narrow path and the wide path. In the narrow path you may not be able to see what's at the end of the path but at least you can see the sides of the path and you know what direction to walk to. The thing about a path that is wide is that, it came be so wide that you don't know if you're actually moving forward or just walking from one side to the other side. This gives you a certain perspective on life and how you want to walk it. Not saying I am always on the straight path because TRUST me I am still trying my very best to make my path more and more narrow. But for those that are committed to the narrow path, be weary of the advice you take from those that are not on the same path as you especially when it comes to dating. 

Put it this way: 

If you were headed to Atlantic City, New Jersey and your friend was headed to Newark, New Jersey and this friend tried telling you that you're headed the wrong way and that you need to follow them. In your mind you'd think that they were crazy, you wouldn't follow their advice obviously but why is your friend trying to steer you in the wrong direction? 

 And part of the reflection of the past year that is one of the things I came to realize.

In all honesty, not to start off the New Years on a somber note, but many of the friends that are close to me I realize rejoice when I stray from my Christian walk. What's shameful for me to admit is that I joke around with them about it, and laugh with them but honestly deep down inside it makes me wonder about them. It is interesting with some group of friends, when you tell them to do the right thing, they fight you tooth and nail and complain that you are not accepting them for who they are, but when it comes to what you stand for and your beliefs they are willing to quickly try and change and corrupt that. To tell them that their views of women or men is truly degrading and shameful is met with scorn but your virtues of maintaining your virginity is met with jokes and a constant reminder that you in many ways are less of a man because of your sexual inexperience. But things like that are to be expected because what they want out of life is very different than what you want out of life. 

Not saying turn a deaf ear to all your friends and the advice they give you because I have had great advice from people who weren't Christian and bad advice from those who are Christians, but be mindful on the people and the advice they give. Questions to ask yourself when someone gives you advice is, 

"Does this advice help and advance or hurt and hinder my walk with Christ?"


"Hey you need to sleep with them now before you get married because what if they suck at sex? This way you'll know before hand and you won't be tied down to someone who sucks at sex" 

Does this advice help and advance or hurt and hinder my walk with Christ?

"You should talk to multiple girls/dudes at a time just play the field and see what's out there. They are probably doing that to you so why not do the same to them?"

Does this advice help and advance or hurt and hinder my walk with Christ?

"Just do everything BUT sex. You'll still be a virgin when you get married"

Does this advice help and advance or hurt and hinder my walk with Christ?

"It's okay if you talk to him/her while they have a boyfriend/girlfriend. They are not married so who is to say you can't steal them away from their current relationship"**

Does this advice help and advance or hurt and hinder my walk with Christ?

"I know they are not a Christian but just date them anyway"

Does this advice help and advance or hurt and hinder my walk with Christ?

While on this path of singleness avoid the potholes of bad advice as much as you can. People at times have the best intentions (Not always, but sometimes) but think: Does this advice help and advance or hurt and hinder my walk with Christ? Because take it from me it makes the path a lot rougher when you take that hurts your walk with Christ. 

**FYI RESPECT RELATIONSHIPS!!! I like many people have met someone who is in a relationship and thought "Crap they are so cute and we get a long so well I wish they were single", but I would never do anything to sabotage the relationship. Cheating is still cheating. Even if you are not in relationship, you are cheating when you are talking to someone who is currently in a relationship and you are pursuing and fooling around with that person. If they break up with their boyfriend/girlfriend that is fine. But until they are fully apart, stay away.