Redemption

Dating: Don’t Forget to Breathe

I was 18 years old and college life had gotten the best of me. I wanted to be an amazing cardiac care nurse who helped people nurture their hearts back to good health. But independence tasted way too good for this sheltered church girl who wanted more than anything to be free of rules, curfews, and the rigid instructions of ministry oriented parents. I would find myself caught up in a campus relationship my first semester in, never allowing myself to just breathe for a second as I got my bearing with course schedules, work study employment, and solid study skills. For the first two years of college, I was on a downward spiral of bad grades, a compromised lifestyle, a distracted mind, and a broken relationship with God.

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I forgot to breathe.

By the end of my second year of college, I was barely making it academically while suffering spiritually. The so-called love of my life didn’t seem to be interested in me anymore as I fought more to stay with him than rebuild my relationship with God. Who had I turned in to?  My world was absolutely consumed with being dependent on an uncommitted boyfriend and a meaningless existence of feeling like I needed to “belong.”  I was miserable. In hindsight, I realize that I forgot to breathe and just “be” – be a good student, be a competent young adult, and be an active participant of the college world around me with all of its richness, diversity, and opportunities to grow outside of my academics.

The pattern continues.

You would of thought that I would get the point and turn from my futile ways, but I left campus still under the influence of all the same types of behaviors that existed during college – unfocused plans, extremely distracted, and hooked up to the wrong relationships. I was still living a compromised lifestyle as a professing Christian. All the while, God was always near, drawing me and giving me subtle reminders that he wanted to be Lord of my life. Still, I would hold on to what I thought I was losing. I had become rebellious as I used relationship after relationship to fill the void of God in my life.

Rock bottom is where I went but is not where I stayed.

One relationship in particular would be my wake up call. He was conniving. He was a liar. He meant me harm in an extreme way. I began to see, through this dating experience, that the enemy of my soul wanted to kill me. I got out. I ran. I changed my number. I called out to God. He was the only one I could turn to as I attempted to get back on track spiritually. I prayed like I had never prayed before. God was working on me bit by bit. I got baptized. God would draw me to his word for strength, counsel, and affirmation. I began to see the truths of the bible weaved into my story. God had come to rescue me. I read the bible from front to back – Genesis to Revelation. I fasted and talked to God all the time and everywhere. I changed my friends. I attended every church service and Christian singles support group that I could find. I was learning to breathe.

What is life like today?

To God be the glory, I’ll be celebrating eleven years of marriage this November. My husband and I met at the church that God drew me to in my time of need. I have a beautiful little girl. I never got an opportunity to become a cardiac care nurse like I envisioned, but I believe God is allowing me to be a vessel to reconnect wayward hearts back to him. I am an ordained minister (along with my husband) and have taught and preached the gospel in places that I never imagined. I continue to walk with God. He is the source of the air that I breathe. I realize that the God of my “rock bottom” will be the same God who will sustain me in every phase of my life.

What can you do as someone attempting to stay focused?

  • Cherish the bible teachings of your youth. They are not outdated or old-fashioned.
  • Maintain a system of accountability. Check in with a friend. Plan your weekends in advanced as you seek to remain focused.
  • Stay connected with a church body. This is key to spiritual growth and for feeding your faith constantly.
  • Find your place in God’s word. The bible’s stories are your stories too. You will see that your problems are like many of the same issues that the men and women of old faced.
  • If you’ve fallen into sin, repent, accept the grace of God, and keep it moving as you fully adopt the opportunity to change the way you think.
  • Embrace the good things that God has created in this world. Take time to travel to beautiful places. Experience new cultures. Taste new foods. Enjoy life and just breathe.
  • Worship – privately, publicly, and passionately. Give your whole heart, mind, body, and soul to God. He will honor your obedience and fill you with a joy that no person, circumstance, or experience can compare to.

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