Tag Archives: Love

Love and Loss, Or Something Like That

I’ve been pretty quiet about the fact that I’ve been seeing someone. I met him at the beginning of the year, and I allowed our relationship to grow offline for several reasons – the most significant being that it’s easier to develop something when others aren’t constantly inserting their opinions.

He’s handsome, easy to talk to and loves (our) Starbucks as much as I do. He’s older than I am, even-keeled and patient. He told me that he loved me before I was willing to say it, but I’m in love with him too. He has made significant efforts to show me, and I’ve never felt so emotionally and physically connected to someone at the same time.

He has spent the last several months making me feel special and beautiful. When he looks at me his face lights up and his serious demeanor is immediately overcome by an easy smile every single time he lays eyes on me. He loves my voice too (even when I sing gut-wrenching love songs about heartbreak after an argument, which only happened once, for the record. ha) I adore the way he says my name and his drive to succeed in everything he does…and his perfect hair.

He has helped me let go of some major insecurities that I’ve been clinging to since I left New York. He has been a healthy influence on me physically, and his patience and empathetic attitude helped me rebuild some of the self-esteem that I lost.

It has been clear to me that he desires me since the first time he said it, and my feelings for him have been equally strong. I crave him in every sense. I never tire of kissing him, but I can talk to him for hours too.

He’s dreamy and affectionate, and as I type a tear is streaming down my face because I broke it off with him a couple of nights ago. It wasn’t an impulse decision. I thought about it overnight before I did it, but I miss him. The hardest part for me right now is that I felt like I was finally in love with someone who loved me back and still don’t get to have that.

I realize that I’m not a helpless victim in this situation; I’m the one who ended it. I didn’t end it to play a game with him. I ended it because he (unintentionally) crushed my feelings Tuesday. I did it because it was the right thing to do, but I’m struggling tonight because it seems to have been so easy for him to let go.

He was in a lot of (physical) pain the night I told him that it wasn’t going to work out, and I thought it might be easier because he wouldn’t be focusing on me. I’m guessing that he’s better by now, but he hasn’t called. I didn’t see him at our coffee shop today either because I was there earlier than usual for a private tasting (which was awesome.) I don’t even know if he went there at all.

Ending a relationship can be confusing, at least for me. When we last spoke he said that he was hurt, and he also said he would respect my decision. Now he’s doing that, and I feel rejected. The man, who is emotionally stable, respectful and habitual is doing exactly what I asked him to do while I am wishing he’d do the opposite.

I realize how ridiculously girly and immature it sounds, but it’s true. I want to think that he misses me and that he won’t accept it so easily, but I also realize that he was not happy with my thoughts when I shared them. (Okay, he was pissed…partly because of my feelings, but largely because he had already had such a crummy day before I dropped that on him.)

I realize that doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but it’s still right. I just wish he was right for me, and I wish he’d show up at my door to prove it before hugging me and kissing my eye lids as he often did.

Tonight as I sit in bed writing about my feelings I can’t shake thoughts of him – the way it feels when he wraps his arms around me, the way he breathes when he’s falling asleep, the way he sounds so incredibly upbeat when he calls to say good morning on the way to work during the 7 o’clock hour, the way he takes charge while making me feel safe and adored…I miss him.

It’s hard to realize that my phone won’t ring in the morning, but I’m going to focus on all of the reasons I have to be happy and thankful. (There are many.) I don’t know what the future holds, but I’d like to trust that something good is on the horizon.

I Know It’s the Weekend, but This Is Important

Even at the height of my blogging I didn’t post on Saturdays because I realize that no one reads it, but I have something to say that can’t wait.

Last night I learned that innocent lives were taken by a shooter at a movie theater in Lafayette, which is only a couple of hours from New Orleans. My old friend, Clint (aka The Suit) grew up there, and so did my dear friend Shannon. Neither of them live there now, but I feel special affection for that town because of my incredible friends who came out of it.

When I heard that the shooting had occurred, my heart felt heavy immediately. Our country is on a downward spiral. People are hurting, and they’re hurting others as a result. I hate it.

A few moments ago I learned that the folks from Westboro Baptist Church are planning to picket the funerals of the victims, and I have a big problem with that.

I respect the first amendment, but I have no respect for hate mongers who prey on families in their darkest hours.

I just sent an email to Governor Jindal asking him to do what he can to protect the mourning families of the victims of the Lafayette shooting.  If you’d like to write him an e-mail, you can send one here: http://www.gov.la.gov/index.cfm?md=form&tmp=email_governor

I’ll probably post about this on my other blog as well, but I’m sharing this here and now in the hopes that you all will join me prayer and/or sending positive thoughts to those who lost their loved ones.

The folks at Westboro use God’s name regularly to promote hatred, but The Bible makes it very clear that they’re wrong…

Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

 

28 Days

I had a great visit with Dad last week. He met several of my friends, and He went home on Friday, then some friends from Fitbloggin’ made their way to New Orleans for a Mardi Gras weekend. I didn’t eat well at all, and I gained 1.4 pounds as a result. My plan is to take it off this week, and I’m doing that by making healthier food choices and time for exercise.

If I am what I eat, then today I’m leafy greens. Last week I was king cake, kobe beef sliders, and pork roast. Ha! My point is that I’m taking the reigns back today because I am happier with myself when I’m in control. I’m tracking everything that I eat, which makes it easier to stay accountable.

One of my goals for the month of February is to match the loss that I had in January. I want to lose 10 pounds again this month, but I have another goal too that isn’t related limited to my weight.

I’ve talked about my church a zillion times here, and this month they posted a challenge social media. NOLA Church’s 28 Days of Love gives us a small challenge each morning, and I’ve following along on Instagram and completing them each day for the last ten days. (You can see each day’s challenge at: instagram.com/nola_church if you want to.)

NOLA Church 28 Days of Love

I plan to complete each day because these little steps add so much joy and satisfaction to my life, but Day 10 impacted me in a major way. “Learn how to love yourself.” It sounds so simple doesn’t it?

I tried figuring out how to love myself for years, and so many of you told me that I couldn’t love someone else until I learned to love myself, blah, blah, blah…I searched for love through relationships, some of which were completely wrong for me. I looked for love/acceptance/joy by lying to myself and others about who I was. I was so steeped in shame that I couldn’t feel love, then that changed.

I began to love myself when I realized who GOD is and what He did for me. I started to understand that I could and should love myself when I realized that GOD sent Jesus (who was perfect and sinless, by the way) to feel every bit of shame, hate, anger, hurt, sin, and every other thought or emotion that we as humans would feel to die for us…to die for me.

Sunday, my pastor, Monte, said, “Jesus loved us so much that it killed Him.” The amazing news is that it didn’t stop there. He conquered death, hell, and the grave for us…for me.

It gets a lot easier to love myself when I think of GOD’s never-failing love for me. GOD loved the world so much that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For GOD did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3:16-17)

GOD is love, and He loves me. That led me to repentance, which ultimately led me into a relationship with Him. I love Him, and when I started placing my focus on others instead of myself, I began to see His goodness up close. That realization showed me that if GOD loves me, who am I not to love myself?

God loves you, and He’s never going to stop. if you don’t believe me, come spend a week or two with me.

Later friends…

 

 

 

 

 

I Don’t Have Kids, And I’m Not Sure If I Want To

Last week I shared my reasons for not having kids with SHAPE Magazine. It’s not something that I talk about often, but it’s a relevant topic for women my age.

Shape Magazine

People often tell me that I’d make a great mother, which is a huge compliment. I absolutely adore my nieces, and I can’t imagine life without them. My church is filled with bouncy, happy kids who run to me in droves to hug me. They even call me ‘Olaf’ because I remind them of the sweet snowman who loves warm hugs. It makes me so happy!

I always dreaded the idea of having kids, even when I lived with a man that I thought I would marry in my late 20’s. He wanted them; I didn’t. It was a small source of contention, but we had plenty of other reasons to break it off.

Last year when I had serious feelings (like I want to marry him, and I’ll spend the rest of my life living in a mini mcmansion in the suburbs if it means I can be with him kind of feelings) I realized that I might want to be a mother. He has three amazing kids, and being close to all of them them helped me understand what it would be like to be responsible for another person.That man was the first person (and the only one so far) who ever made me think that the 9 month process that women go through might be something that I’d want to do.

I’m not going to marry him and live happily ever after in the suburbs, which is okay since I’m more comfortable in my urban, high-rise environment. It was painful to come to that realization, but he showed me that it was possible to feel that way about a person and having a potential family.

When a writer from SHAPE asked me about my thoughts on having children, it wasn’t easy to offer my opinion.

Women are supposed to want to have kids. Many of them grow up playing with baby dolls, dreaming of the perfect wedding dress, etc. I didn’t think about that much as a kid. In high school I assumed that I’d go to college, then get married around 22. Most people around me at the time did just that, but I traveled, moved to the coolest city in the nation, made friends, found love, lost it, went back to school, etc.

People who have kids tell me how much it changed them, how awesome it is, etc. They explain that they once felt the way that I do, that having kids makes you less selfish…I believe that’s true, but I’ve seen situations in which kids are not a parent’s top priority. It’s sad, and it’s irresponsible.

It’s also important to note my size. I know several women my size who have kids, and I definitely have more energy than many people that I know (larger and smaller than I am.) I’d be at a higher risk than a person of average size too. I’m not saying that it’s not possible; I’m just saying that there’s risk involved.

It sounds so harsh to say that I don’t want to have kids, but that’s not exactly true anyway. The truth is that I just don’t know, and I think you need to be fully committed to it before adding another human to this overpopulated planet.

I don’t have a supportive husband, and raising a child isn’t something that I want to do alone. I don’t even have a dog right now because I’m not home enough to care for one properly. How am I supposed to be responsible for a tiny human life?

 

 

 

I Can’t Believe That It’s Been Almost Three Years

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost three years to the day since Uncle Wesley died. I was pretty lost during that time.  I lacked faith in myself and in God. I struggled with my beliefs, my utter disdain for people in church and my lack of understanding in why someone like Uncle Wesley had to suffer so viscously.  I also struggled with guilt because I was so relieved that my parents were both healthy.

I was in a bad place, and one Sunday after a week that we were’t sure if he would live through, my uncle preached an entire sermon about faith. I talked about it on my blog right after it happened.  He believed in God, and he had faith that God’s will was best until his last breath.  It’s still hard for me to think of the last night that I saw him without getting teary-eyed.  He told Mom that he loved her, and with one tear streaming down his closed eye, he smiled as he went on to meet Jesus.

He knew how I felt about church and God, but he never failed to remind me of God’s love for me. He accepted me even though I was a complete mess, and it was obvious that he was at peace in spite of his imperfect life. I talked about that on my blog as well.

…feeling the peace that surrounds him already and the faith he has as he spends his last few days on earth has truly been a testament of his authentic belief to me.  People professing to be “christians” usually just piss me off, but Uncle Wesley has shown me what an imperfect human’s life should look like at its best and its worst.

I was filled with a lot of bitterness and anger at that time.  I was completely lacking in direction, and I was hanging on to hope by a thread.  I had no idea that the next few years would lead to extraordinary life change, but it did.

In December of 2012 I met my friend, Jeff, at the mall through my friend, Shannon, and I couldn’t have imagined that he’d become such a close friend!  As we stood by the makeup counter at Macy’s (waiting for our friends) he invited me to church.  Here’s how it went:

Jeff: Hey, you should come to church sometime.

Kenlie: Uh, I’ll be friends with you, but I’m not going to your (expletive) church.

Jeff: Okay.

During that conversation I explained to Jeff why I thought GOD was real, but I also explained why there was no way in hell I was going to church.

As a kid, I was in church (or church activities) several times a week. My dad was the pastor so I was there for EVERYTHING whether I wanted to be or not. I had to put a smile on my face and go regardless of what was happening in my life. I had to sing whether I wanted to or not.  I saw good things happen, and I saw a lot of horrible things happen – things that hurt me, things that made me angry. I did what I was told to do because well-behaved kids do that, but I was never overly concerned about GOD’s presence in my life.

After meeting Jeff I spent the next several months going out of my way to curse and drink in front of him. I waited for him to judge me or tell me off, but he didn’t.  Instead we became friends and eventually, because it’s hard to say no to Candi, who is now his wife, I walked into church.

Now it’s no secret that I have a relationship with God. I love Jesus, and I often talk about how incredible it is that He loves me in spite of myself.  Uncle Wesley’s birthday passed earlier this week, and I smiled as I thought about what he would think of me now. The truth is he’d love me now just as he did then, but I wish he was still here so he could see the changes that have taken place in me.

I wish I could tell him that he was right, that I get it now, that I know God loves me, and that I love Him back.  I wish he could be here Sunday as I lead worship at my church because he loved hearing me sing and because he loved worshipping Jesus. I wish I could have conversations with him about faith. I wish we could sing southern gospel together like we did even when I was far from God. I wish I could talk about the verses in the Bible that have impacted me recently.  I just wish he was here.

Uncle Wesley and Me

There’s a lot of hope, peace and contentement when you believe in God. You get to cling to the fact that you’ll see your loved ones again in Heaven. I’m able to acknowledge that what’s happening in Uncle Wesley’s life today is far better than what would be happening if he were still alive.

I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since he left earth. My life is different now, more settled…I’ve gained some weight, but I’ve also gained peace, friends who know all of my junk and love me anyway, a church family that is filled with other imperfect people who are working on being faith distributors. I’ve begun the process of healing from a time in which my entire world was rocked. I have a steady routine that I didn’t have back then, and I’m more honest with myself and the people around me than I’ve ever been before.

I miss my uncle, and many people that I love still miss him too. I know, in as much as my human brain can comprehend, that Uncle Wesley is in a far better place where he is.  I know that, but I miss him anyway.

 

 

 

 

Giving Thanks and Showing Thanks

I spend a lot of time being thankful for all of the good things in my life, and as the weather gets cooler and the pumpkins start showing up everywhere, I find myself feeling even more thankful for everything in my life.

I’ve been very open about my struggles lately, and one of the best ways that I’ve found to navigate through difficult times is to be thankful for all of the positive things.

I know it’s not the holiday season yet, but I’m starting early with thankfulness this year.  I want to make a positive impact on the people around me too, so I’m getting a head start now.  Here’s a list of things that I plan to do to take the focus off of me and to affect people positively over the next few months:

  • Write a letter to someone on paper or a card, put a stamp on it and mail it.  I love sending and receiving letters and cards in the mail, and one thing that I’m thankful for is that I have friends who enjoy sending cards and thoughtful little gifts.
  • Spend time with someone who may not love this time of year.  I love the holidays, but there are people who don’t feel that way.   Sometimes the holidays remind us of people we’ve lost and/or people who won’t be here to celebrate with us.
  • Spend the afternoon (or at least a couple of hours) in a coffee shop or bookstore simply to enjoy the surroundings.  I do this a lot, but I still wish I did it more often.  I’ve met some awesome people who have amazing stories that I might never have met without taking time to look up from my computer.  (I need to do the latter more, as I am currently sitting in a coffee shop…looking at my computer. Ha.)
  • Take a moment to think about the little things that make life good.  I write a lot, and I think I enjoy it because it helps me focus in on my thoughts, as I have a tendency to think about a million things at once.  This year, instead of filling my glass pumpkin with candy, I am filling it with fall-colored notes about my reasons to be thankful. I did it last year, and now it’s definitely a thing.  One note says, “I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the worship team at NOLA Church.”  Another says, “I’m thankful for my apartment, its location and the things in it.”  Some of the notes are about really big things while other are small, but when I look at the pumpkin which is stuffed full of blessings, I’m thankful for that too.

Pumpkin

  • Share something you have with a friend.  I like crafty things and baking so making something for someone just because will make everyone feel good.
  • Compliment someone everyday.  I’m pretty good at this already.  I tend to say what I think (when it’s positive) so it’s not weird for me to tell someone what I like about them.  I know that when someone takes time to compliment me, it means a lot.  I can’t be the only one who feels this way.

I’m not saying that focusing on the positive will eliminate every issue we have, but it will go a long way toward helping us get through it.  Last week in class, my professor said, “Optimism isn’t something that you have; it’s something that you do,” and I’m doing it.

 

No More

This is one of those posts that’s for me, not you. If you don’t want to read about my love life or God, come back another day.

I fell for someone last fall when I was trying to focus on other things. He came into my life and complemented it. He’s a family man, and he provided a lot of stability in my life…until he didn’t anymore.

If you asked him, he would tell you that I didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, I was amazing in my not-quite-relationship with him. His kids adore me. They started blooming when I came into their lives. Their grades went up, they started getting closer to God, and they all had someone with whom they could trust to share their feelings.

Life was good for all of us. He was happier at the mention of my name than his family had ever seen him. Even his ex-wife was happy for him, and that was an odd, yet lovely feeling.

At one point several weeks ago (immediately following one of the happiest evenings I’ve ever had with him) he said, “Kenlie, when are we going to stop pretending that we’re not a couple?”

I giggled and said, “when you stop pretending. That’s your issue, not mine.”

He didn’t laugh though. Instead I spent the evening talking with him on his sofa. We held hands, giggled, flirted and talked for hours about his “need for clarity.” He has issues/fears about getting remarried, and I reminded him that I was in no rush for that. I explained that I would need time to develop an exclusive relationship with him (even though I had been un-dating him for months.)

He said that he knew me well enough to know that he wanted to marry me. He spent nearly everyday with me for months. He knows my family and friends (many of whom are mutual.) He knows every lie I’ve ever told (the little ones and big ones.) He knows all of the mistakes that I’ve made and my imperfections, and still, he said that he knew enough to want to marry me. Sadly, he said that he believed that God wouldn’t like it.

He’s a black and white kind of guy, and while that can be great at times, it can also screw things up when he becomes closed-minded. He believes certain things that I won’t share in detail here, except to say that those beliefs are based on pride, fear of moving on and religion. And that’s a deadly combination.

Religion is the arch enemy of Jesus. The rules that religion have dictated on this man’s life leave me oscillating between anger and uncertainty. If Jesus walked into the fundamentalist church that this man left, He wouldn’t be welcome, yet those rules (which are based on ungodly, self-righteous, religious garbage) have given him reason to hang on to the past and to walk away from a woman who makes him happier and more balanced than he’s been in a long time, maybe ever.

There are few things that I hate in the world, but religion is one of them. I love God, and I’m so thankful for the aggressive grace that Jesus pours out on me. I just wish that this man could truly experience and understand that grace too.

He knows and loves God, but he is so wrapped up in religion that I don’t know what to think. Did he lie to me about his feelings? Was he just humoring me because he didn’t want to hurt me?

It has been weeks since he ended our quasi-relationship. He still calls, and I still see him at my church (a place that I hope he continues to go so that he can truly collide with the love of Jesus someday.)

His kids miss me like crazy, but not as much as I miss them. He seems to be fine without me though – just not as happy or at ease or loving. It makes me wonder if he ever had feelings for me.

I’ve asked a few times since that night if I’m crazy…if I misread his feelings, and he says that I absolutely did not misunderstand. He says he felt everything that I felt and that he can’t be with me for the ridiculous, religious reasons that I can’t mention here.

I know him, and I believe that he’s clinging to religion instead of God because it’s easier than taking responsibility.  It’s also possible that he just doesn’t understand the difference. I do believe that he’s a good man though…who’s just dealing with unresolved issues.

He called me last night, and the things that he said (though not directed at me in any way) made me wonder what happened to the man I met and fell for.  He’s different without me. I ask myself when he reverted back to being religious and judgmental and self-righteous, but the truth is, I know exactly when that happened.

I’m pretty positive that I did not misunderstand his feelings. The man I met was humble, and I believed that he valued me. Now I’m not so sure.

Maybe talking to me was better than talking to than no one. Maybe we spent evening after evening together because he had nothing else to do. Maybe the hours we spent on the phone talking about everything from religion to politics to his work environment was more fun for him than sleeping. Maybe he never cared about me at all.

I don’t exactly believe the last part, but it certainly was easy for him to turn off his feelings. It seems that it was easy for him to forget the peaceful, quiet moments that were captured on his daughter’s camera phone when we weren’t paying attention to anything or anyone except each other. It has also been easy for him to forget how we laughed so hard that our faces hurt  just because we were using chopsticks together or discussing the Council on Foreign Relations.

It has been easy for him to pretend that none of it ever happened, but it’s been impossible for me. I spent the first few weeks drowning in misery, sobbing everyday and hoping that he would get back to normal. After that, I started ignoring his calls. When he asked why, I explained that while I loved it when he called me, I was better off when he didn’t.

I told him that he either needed to stop calling, or we needed to talk with my (our) pastor because I needed to heal. He reluctantly agreed, and when I asked him why, he said that was he was willing to make himself uncomfortable for me if that’s what I needed to know that he cared.

We haven’t had the opportunity to chat with my pastor yet because of our schedules, but it meant a lot to me that he was willing to make himself uncomfortable for me. Talking to your pastor is a big deal when you’re hyper-religious. Thankfully, my pastor is a cool dude who wears jeans when he preaches and loves all of the people that more traditional churches reject. Jesus would be welcome at my church if he showed up in old clothes and worn out sandals.

I’ve been much happier over the last few weeks, realizing that my life would change a lot if he and I were together. I love my life, and I wouldn’t want to change it for someone who wouldn’t be willing to do the same for me.

As I go to sleep and as I wake up, I ask God to eliminate the feelings that I have for this man if I can’t be with him. It’s the only thing I know to do, and I’m counting on Him to fulfill me because He’s God. I’m also counting on Him to heal the man who broke my heart someday regardless of whether I’m around to see it or not.

One Year Later…

It has been just over a year since I walked into NOLA Church for the first time, and I cannot believe how different my life and point of view are now.

I have friends who love me without judgment, and I’ve built relationships with people who know everything about me – my deepest regrets and fears and joys – and love me in spite of those imperfections.

My church isn’t perfect.  It is filled with flawed people who are searching for acceptance, seeking to have their questions answered.  We have issues, but I like that.  Jesus spent time with people who needed Him, and we need Him.  I need Him.

I’ve discovered God’s immeasurable grace and unconditional forgiveness, and I have a relationship with Him that I didn’t realize that someone like me – so flawed and imperfect and horrible – could ever have.

My life is different.  I’m different.

I remember writing a post about my feelings on church, the reasons that I was skeptical about going and the reasons that it just wasn’t for me.  I remember wishing that I could have faith in someone that I couldn’t see, and I remember being terrified of being hurt by the church again.

I needed peace and assurance that everything would be okay, but I didn’t find that. Instead I faced gossip, judgment and condescension.  The meanest, most judgmental people I knew were from the church, and I decided that if that’s what church was about, I didn’t want any part of it.

You can read the whole post here.

Now I love Jesus.  Sometimes people find my love for Him obnoxious, but I’m so thankful that I can’t imagine not talking about it.  It defines so much of who I am now, and I don’t want that to change.

Last week I wrote a post that some of you didn’t like.  Someone called me preachy, and another person called me an idiot.  Someone else called me naive.

I get it.  Some people think I’m ridiculous or full of crap for talking about Jesus here.  I understand that you don’t all love Him or believe in Him or have faith in Him, but it’s who I am now.  I still have a lot of other loves and interests, but He’s part of me now.  I’m happier and more at peace than I’ve ever been so it’s not likely to change anytime soon.

I didn’t write about forgiveness recently because I was trying to preach to anyone; I wrote it because I’ve been working through my feelings on forgiveness lately.  As I look back at my past, I’m forced to think about things that I’ve tried to forget for years.

In my late teens and early 20’s, I was an insecure, suicidal, dishonest person who desperately wanted to feel loved and accepted.  I didn’t think it was possible that I could forgive those who hurt me, and I didn’t care who I hurt because I was in so much pain.  I lived crippled by that pain for years, and now I’m free from it.

It’s by God’s grace that I’m not dead.  It’s because of His love that I get to live in freedom now.  I’m loved.  I’m forgiven.  I’m His.  End of story. Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s just the beginning…

 

Forgiveness

I’ve been thinking about forgiveness and and how powerful it can be.   I don’t spend much time judging people like I used to, and I don’t hold grudges very long because I want others to forgive me when I mess up.  None of us are perfect, and there are parts of my past that I wish I would have done differently.  There are things that I can’t change, but I don’t live in the past anymore.

My guess is that I’m not the only one who has ever lied to or mistreated people who mattered to them.  I forgave myself a long time ago, and I forgave those who hurt me.  It’s not always easy, but I strive to do it now.  I treat people with respect, and I give second chances because so often I need a second chance.  I forgive because I want to be forgiven, and I forgive because I have been forgiven.

In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

And in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)

It can be really difficult to forgive when we’re hurt, especially when we know that the person hurting us is in the wrong and not even sorry about it, but in Psalm 145:8, we see that, The Lord is gracious and slow to anger and rich in love. (NIV) The KJV says, The Lord is gracious and full of compassion; slow to anger and of great mercy.

Forgiving someone that hurts you doesn’t always mean that it’s going to restore your relationship back to what it was, or that you’ll even remain in a relationship at all.  I’ve offered up forgiveness when the person who hurt me didn’t deserve it, and I’ve been forgiven at times when I didn’t deserve it.  But we do not forgive to help the other person or because the other person deserves it. We forgive because GOD created us in His image. (Genesis 1:27) We forgive so that our actions are pleasing to Him.

When we choose not to forgive people who hurt us, it keeps us from living a truly joyful, fulfilled, God-centered life. When we look deeper into Matthew 5, we learn that in order to be Christ-like, this is what He tells us to do:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

When forgiveness seems impossible for us, we need to remember that Jesus forgave us. He didn’t just forgive a few of us either. He forgave every sin that has ever been and will ever be committed.

He did more than simply say, “I forgive you.” He gave up perfection in Heaven to make Himself feel all of the pain and suffering that we feel as humans, and then He died so that we could receive forgiveness – before we even asked for it.

No amount of forgiveness that we have to offer will ever compare to the forgiveness that he has given us. And when we forgive, we break the chains that keep us from having the kind of life that is blessed as a result of being pleasing to God.

I’ve always wanted to live a life that is filled with peace and comfort and joy, but I didn’t live that kind of life until I let Jesus in.  Knowing that I’ve been saved by His grace makes me want to be more like Him, and I want to continue growing and living in His will.

Have you ever forgiven someone who didn’t deserve it?  Have you ever offered forgiveness to someone who didn’t deserve it?

 

Love, or Something Like It

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and while no one will be giving me flowers or chocolates this year, love is on my mind…

There’s a man in my life, and I have feelings for him. I mentioned him for the first time here in September, and I’ve mentioned him once or twice since then. In some ways, he doesn’t fit the mold of the man that I used to envision, but in other ways he exceeds all of the dreams of a significant other that I’ve ever had.

He’s smart, incredibly humble and handsome, and he makes me laugh. He comforts me when I cry and calms me down when I get ticked off. I light up when I see him, and the big, easy smile that always appears on his face when he sees me shows me that he’s happy to see me too.

He is a great father. (Yes, Kenlie is attracted to a man who has kids.) He loves them, and they love him. The relationship he has with his children says a lot about the kind of man he strives to be, and the relationship that I have with his children makes it easy to love them too.

He doesn’t wear a suit to work, but he looks smoking hot when he does wear one. He’s successful. He works hard, but he knows that he’s blessed to have the career that he has.

He has a thankful heart, and he loves Jesus. When I began thinking about what I wanted in a man, it never occurred to me that I’d be attracted to someone who would put GOD first, but now I think it’s one of the sexiest things about him. He thinks about his actions and his words before he acts on them, and he strives to live a life that is GOD-approved. I’m trying to do the same thing, and he helps me grow in that. I help him grow too.

He stands by his beliefs (even sometimes when I think he’s dead wrong,) but he’s also amenable to change. When I make a good point, he embraces it. When he’s wrong, he’s not too prideful to admit that he’s wrong. Few things make my heart happier than watching him as he hangs on my every word before he concedes that I’m right or challenges me to think it through in a different way.

We’re good for each other. No, we’re great for each other. Whether we’re hanging out with friends into the wee hours of the night or relaxing on the sofa with his kids, or reading The Bible, we’re happy when we’re together, and people notice.

Our friends often joke about it, noting that when we’re together, we act like no one else is there. (They exaggerate, but point taken.) It is safe to assume that if we’re in the same room, we won’t be too far apart (with exception of Sunday mornings when I’m busy on stage or chatting and hugging everyone who walks through the doors of our church while he catches up with friends that he doesn’t see everyday.)

His life is so different than mine in some ways, but at the same time, he understands me. I don’t have to work hard to explain my feelings to him. They just flow naturally, and he communicates his thoughts and feelings very well most of the time too.

He knows all of my bad stuff – my darkest regrets, the lies I’ve told, the mistakes I’ve made that hurt people, the pain that I endured, my fears, and he doesn’t judge me. He just empathizes and allows me to be exactly who I am (scars, faults and all.)

He’s ten years older than I am, and he just moved into a beautiful new home in the suburbs that he had custom built, while I live in a historical high-rise downtown. He likes fishing and hunting and outdoor things, and I like shopping and traveling to new and interesting places. That said, when I step into his world, I realize that I love it, and the same happens when he steps into my little world. I’d probably even like fishing as long he handled the bait and the fish (since I’d inevitably catch some big ones!) We share a lot of friends, but he seems comfortable with everyone in my life regardless of how long he’s known them.

It’s hard to explain the connection that I feel for him because he’s not my boyfriend, yet he’s so much more than just some guy that I have a crush on. Sure, I think he’s amazing. He’s breathtaking. He makes me giddy, but it’s deeper than that. There’s something awesome and undefinable about our coexistence, but I don’t try to categorize it. I just enjoy it.

He matters to me. Our paths have crossed for a reason, though neither of us can fully explain why yet. I like to make him happy, and I want to take care of him (even though he is a full grown man who doesn’t need my protection.) I like feeling like he needs me from time to time, and I like knowing that I can depend on him to be there when I need or want him to be.

He is so special to me. I’m pretty full of joy regardless of others, but he makes my heart happy. He is the kind of man I want in my life forever – the kind of man that I’d change everything for if I had the opportunity. I cannot begin to understand why GOD has placed him in my life if he’s not meant for me, but I’m patiently waiting for Him to show me.

Lately a few friends have suggested that I express what I want in a relationship, and if I could sum it up, I’d say that I want something just like this (only adding that I want to kiss him whenever I want to.) I want the kind of relationship that I’ve just described, and I want it forever.

I want to love someone who loves me, and I want to show that man how much he is loved and desired. I want intimacy and a promise that he’ll always be there. If I can’t have that, then I’ll just continue to live life as a single person who’s thankful for everything that I do have.