Tag Archives: forgiveness

Why We Should All Come Out of the Darkness

  

There is something quite disheartening about people not practising what they preach. They’re at the ready with advice and guidance when you share details about your life with them (and even when you don’t) but you are yet to see these pearls of wisdom make a difference in their own. The situation becomes abysmal when not practising becomes not even believing. I’m sure you’re thinking of that friend you know that fits the bill I’m describing but have you considered looking a little closer to home? We make claim to so many things when we’re at a church service or with the Christian gang, everybody’s telling there neighbour and ‘can I get an amen-ing’ in agreement with all the things we’ve learnt about our faith, but when the church bubble is popped by the real life bubble, how much of that church lingo is still standing strong in our minds?
I’ll jog your mind with a few examples:

‘We are blessed to be a blessing’

‘My God will supply all my needs’

‘In Christ I’m a new creation’

‘I cast my burdens onto God, because he cares for me’

‘I do not have the spirit of fear but the spirit of love, power and a sound mind’

‘Christ’s yoke is easy and his burden is light’

‘I’m not doubting because of what I can see, but trusting God because of what I can’t’ 

‘Who Christ sets free is free indeed’ 

We can be a pillar of faith and full of solutions when we’re ministering to our friends in need, but how often do we go home, carrying the burdens we’ve encouraged them to lift up, struggling to live a life that’s different to the one we lived pre getting saved and wondering how we’re going to make ends meet.

On Saturday our very own Joy put on her very first play in a theatre and reminded the audience that we have got to start believing the things that we roll so easily off our tongue when we’re with our Christian crew. Out of the darkness creatively explored the belief most Christians share that we are free in Christ however don’t live in freedom because we are bound by the sins we aren’t ready to forgive ourselves of. Yes we can preach that Christ saves and he forgives, we will continue to encourage friends to forgive others, but yet we live in constant unforgiveness of ourselves. 

As we explored the lives of two young adults at different places in their faith but both bound by sin, the message hit home that so many of us are not experiencing the freedom we’re supposed to have in Christ. I went to the theatre expecting to see a play about people coming to Christ as a life without him is usually described as one in darkness, but I was intrigued to discover how aptly the metaphor of darkness fits the place so many of us live in when we just can’t let go of the things we have done. We can all look at our sin and feel that we have really gone too far this time or we just keep doing the sane thing and can’t keep expecting God to forgive us, but that just isn’t true. God’s forgiveness is unconditional and ever present, he lets it go the moment we ask for forgiveness, so we have to follow suit and do the same.

Whatever you have done, you are free

No matter how you feel, you are free

If you’re worried you’re going to do ‘it’ again, you are free

When you gave your life to Christ, you walked out of the darkness into his all encompassing light. Don’t live a life bound by sin that God has long forgiven you for.
Love lots 
Dani xxxx

The Day I Got Stabbed

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So I was meant to write this post last week but the wound was still so fresh, I wasn’t able to sit down and write down my thoughts in a way that didn’t sound like ghu;hwgljfshldjhsljh;roh;odhowo;hf. However, this week, I feel a little stronger, I am present, I am in the room; I can tell you about the incident.

You never think you’ll get stabbed. It’s one of those things that happens to no one you know but crops up on the news  every now and again. Even when you hear of such news you almost brush it to one side, safe in the knowledge that such a calamity could never come upon you and yours.

Well, it happened to me. It wasn’t dark. It wasn’t a stranger.

I was stabbed in broad daylight.

….Okay, okay, okay.

I wasn’t literally stabbed, (…and the award goes to Dani and Joy for the most misleading blog titles). I’m glad the expression ‘stabbed in the back’ exists because in four words, it encapsulates the events of last week (okay, it doesn’t but hey, Y O L O). I wish this were the kind of blog where I could go on to detail exactly what happened. Alas, it isn’t that kind of party. I’m still trying to get to grips with this whole ‘living life online’ stuff and the sharing part still creeps me out a little bit. Plus, I love those involved too much so I’ll save the gory details for my private speak with God. What I can share on this blog are the whirlwind emotions that I felt after the incident.

(Sidenote: my nails keep breaking – this has nothing to do with the post but if you are reading and you know of anything that will stop them from falling apart, I’d really appreciate it if you could let me know)

So let’s kick off with the first emotion:

SHOCK.

Imagine walking straight into a knife. Imagine a knife being plunged into your back. Imagine being let down. Imagine whatever you want. Basically, I was shocked when everything came to light. There was disbelief before any other emotion as the bubble I was living in was violently popped.

ANGER.

Real anger. Rage. But it was momentary.

PAIN.

You know that moment where you realise that the people you love the most have the power to hurt you most?

Yeah, that.

We build high walls around our hearts and watch new people struggle to get over them as they seek to love us, know us and become close to us. We make it difficult because of the pain that has gone before; we want to make sure that if they enter the areas closest to our hearts, they will protect us instead of hurting us. Sometimes we get it right, we choose wisely and they are only a source of joy. Other times we get it wrong and all we can do is wish that we had built the walls a little higher, or held out on letting them because maybe, just maybe, time would have revealed the cracks in the foundation we were building with them.

FORGIVENESS.

Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.

Luke 8:28

I prayed. I prayed hard. I prayed with tears in my eyes. I prayed because it was what God wanted me to do. I could have held onto my anger but instead I chose to let it go.


There is small part of me that wishes I had stayed angry. I wanted to withhold my love and I wanted to leave because I am so very tired of being hurt by those I hold close to my heart. But God demanded more from me. To leave would have been easier, to love was is much harder. But I am thankful. Above all, I am thankful. I am grateful for the growth that I can see in myself; the Joy of yesteryear would have burnt that bridge and never looked back. I realise now that as Christians we are meant to build bridges, not burn them. I realise that when I have nothing more to give, I need to draw from God’s love and then give some more. I realise that the anger I feel is often just pain and my God is able to take away every hurt.

I know it sounds pretty rudimentary, but the sooner we let go of all that bitterness/pain, the sooner we will heal and the better we will feel. Although people will keep stabbing us throughout our lifetime, I think we decide whether we bleed out or not.

All my love,

J xxxx

The Day I Became Immune To Snake Bites

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There’s something about board games that makes them uber fun whether you’re five or fifty five. Just me? I think it’s that thrill of getting so close to beating someone but knowing you can’t get too cocky before your luck changes and the tables turn, and it’s you hanging onto the game with the skin of your teeth. I think it’s clear that I love a good board game, but my reflection time this week revealed the extent to which I connected with them. Mulling over the lessons life taught me this week it dawned on me that I had been treating life like one long board game. More specifically, a game of Snakes and Ladders.

Random. I know. But true nonetheless. As I reminisced on a week spent battling with my sins I discovered the root cause of my attitude towards sin and the aftermath that followed every sin I committed. For me, every time I learnt a lesson from God, obeyed his direction, was enjoying regular quiet time with him, I felt like I was playing the Christianity game the way it should be played. I was going up all the ladders and edging closer to fulfilling all God had for me. Meanwhile every sin was the equivalent of stepping on a snake, taking me a hundred steps back and making it seem impossible that I would ever live out my purpose. Sinning made me distraught and conflicted about how to act next. If I repented it would mean acknowledging that I had done wrong and accepting that I was back at square one. I questioned how far I had really come if I was willing to throw it all away so quickly at the lure of temptation.

What I came to terms with was how wrong my attitude towards sin was. There can be awful consequences of sin, I don’t need to remind you about Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt, Moses not being able to enter the promise land, the destroying of Sodom and Gomorrah and the ending of all life outside the ark. These are all valid examples of the seriousness that committing sin behold but they are not proof that every sin brings us back to the drawing board with God. The reason sin and more importantly the fear of sin had such a big impact on my life is because I has genuinely started to believe that my actions made me righteous.

And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:28-30

We get into the mindset that our actions make us righteous so we get so disappointed in ourselves because we’ve sinned so we’re ‘no longer’ righteous but we were never made righteous because of our actions. God makes us righteous and he’s the same person whose blood washes us white as snow. We can live according to the ways of God, only through the grace of God.

Here’s a word of advice for everyone whose struggling with living with themselves after they sin.

When you sin, you must repent, and then you must move on.

Two things that set me free:

1) Guilt is not of God.
By all means feel convicted of the sins you commit, but once you’ve repented, God had forgiven you, so you’ve got to follow suit and forgive yourself. We’ve got a bit of cheek haven’t we, having the audacity to punish ourselves for things that God has forgotten all about. It may not seem fair that you can commit 100 sins a day and with one prayer of repentance God wipes your slate clean, but that is just the way it is. Simples.

2) You are what you eat.
A lot of the time we feel so bad about a particular sin we’ve committed/ keep committing that we put safeguards in place to prevent ourselves from committing the sin ever again, which is good, and can even be great when it stops us from giving in to ourselves, but are we really solving the issue? You can put safeguards in place but don’t be surprised if they don’t work when you haven’t stopped to pray about the issue and to meditate on God’s word. Our actions generally reflect what’s going on in our hearts and when we’re acting in a way that’s contradictory to what God tells us to do we have to look back at what we’ve allowed to enter our hearts and minds.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

If you have a problem with gambling it doesn’t make sense to stay up late every night and watch online gambling shows for ‘entertainment’. You’re going to end up desiring what you surround yourself with so let’s make life easier for ourselves and surround ourselves with the things of God.

Instead of living in constant guilt as I struggle to win the battle against sin, this week I will feast on the word of God and allow that to change my thinking.

Love you

Dani xxxx

How I Lost All My Loved Ones

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When  I was “in-between jobs” I was able to spend more time observing the lives people created on social networking sites (that’s fancy speak for stalking people). I loved seeing the way people self-edited, showing the version of themselves that appeased most audiences and that they believed was most acceptable. It must be the psychologist in me; I found it fascinating. Over the months I started to see an increase in the number of young people quoting Drake’s “No New Friends”. People wrote candidly of how replaceable people were and how those who do not adhere to the arbitrary friendship rules they had created would be cast away, cut off and never spoken to again.

Cutting people off when they hurt us has become the norm. The problem I have with this treatment of people is that I feel that when we cut people off, we dehumanise them; humans become like commodities that can be dismissed instantly and we fail to see them for beautiful yet imperfect beings that they are. I do not believe good friendships come around every day or by mistake and for this reason I feel they should be protected and fought for. I didn’t always feel this way. I am prone to outbursts of impulsivity – which means that I often react emotionally to situations instead of rationally. In the past I have stopped speaking to friends without a second thought, only allowing myself to look back on the friendship to relive the moment they broke my precious (and weird) friendship rules. As I got older, I noticed that a pattern was emerging. A few months after we’d parted ways, there would always be a moment of clarity; the anger I had felt for so long would ebb away and I would be left with the pain. In the prior months the anger had often eclipsed the pain, so when the pain finally revealed itself, it was always intent on making its presence known. It was always a blinding pain that cut to my core and erupted throughout my body causing the tears I had kept inside to flow freely. In that moment I would realise that what these people had meant to me completely overweighed their indiscretion and how much time I had wasted being angry. I would look around and the people I had loved dearly were no longer around. I would do best at this point, I would call, text, whatever in order to try and save what I had lost. Some of these friendships could be salvaged. Others were not as fortunate; sometimes the bridges we burn are left in ruins and there is nothing that can be done to rebuild them, no matter the efforts being put it on both sides of the water.

So now I am careful. I don’t dismiss people and I do not dismiss friendships. If you mean something to me, I won’t walk away from the friendship that we built together. No, I will try and sort through our issues so at least I know that if we do not make it, it is because the foundation we built together wasn’t strong enough to survive the storm. I have come to understand that my life exists on the basis of second chances. I live because God chooses to forgive me irrespective of the many mistakes I make.

Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:32

I feel as though it is my responsibility to give other people second chances too. There is a time to walk away, don’t get me wrong but before you do so be sure that it is a timely goodbye and not an impulsive decision that will be reviewed with regret in the years that lie ahead.

Joy xxx

Why Long Distance Relationships Are Doomed To Fail

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This week I went on a mini holiday with some family friends. We were a few hours drive away from home and living in a little village, small enough to be excited about seeing a Tesco Express on the “High Street” and big enough to see fellow shoppers at the checkout that weren’t our neighbours. Aside from Britain’s usual performance of really bad weather, there was just one issue that affected us all, and made us feel like our drive to the coast was really a twenty-hour plane ride that had deposited us half way around the world.

Issue and first world problem: we had no phone signal.

I know what you’re thinking:

Who cares?

There are bigger problems, at least you were on holiday.

The whole point of being on holiday is that you get away from your normal life and that includes your friends.

All of the above are true, but it didn’t stop me from spending hours trying new positions to place my phone by the window, and spending every moment in the world outside the house having conversations with the people that I missed. No, this whole post isn’t about my need to be in constant communication with my friends, what this week taught me is that if maintaining a long distance relationship with a loved one is hard, maintaining one with God is near on impossible, here’s why:

1. Feeling far away stops you from searching for ways to be close.

When I first arrived I thought the signal difficulties might be temporary. Is it just me or does your phone struggle to find signal when it’s in a new environment? Sometimes I go somewhere new (which is in all honesty very rarely since I’ve adopted this old age lifestyle that consists of never stepping outside my flat) and just when I want to call my network provider at the annoying lack of signal, my phone jumps back into life and gives me a strong enough phone connection to send SnapChats. Unfortunately this wasn’t going to be the case this week. As I walked around the holiday home, wondering why my phone wasn’t responding it soon set in, how far away I was from being able to contact anyone and after a while I stopped looking for possible pockets of phone connection with the same enthusiasm. Calling people had become a myth and after successfully letting my family know I was alive and well, conversations had to be high on the importance scale for me to attempt dialling. This may have worked for the week but this is an unacceptable attitude for us to have with God. We can’t allow ourselves to stop seeking him after we’ve searched for a while and still don’t ‘feel’ him.

When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul, I will make myself available to you,’ says The Lord. Jeremiah 29:13-14.

The bible says that when we seek God, we will find him, and we have to hold onto that when we feel like we’ve been looking for a while. Unlike phone signal that might never reveal itself, God is more reliable than any network provider and if you feel distance don’t stop seeking to be close. All God wants from us is a relationship like no other in which love for him and devotion to serve him fills every crevice of our hearts. That kind of love is going to take pursuit so don’t give up when you don’t feel like God is near.

2. You won’t ever find a replacement for God on the holidays you take from him.

In life we’re used to having options. You can go on holiday and replace your entire friendship group with the friends you’ve made abroad. In fact, long distance relationships are a good get-out clause for those looking to escape the relationships they’re in as they play the long-game which eventually results in growing apart from the people they are in relationships with. We, however, are in no position to do the same with God. We can decide to distance ourselves and only communicate with God when we need something from him, but when we come to the realisation that we need God in our lives, it’s the same God that we ran away from, that we’ll be running back to. The mere thought of running back in that prodigal son fashion can deter us from taking the first steps so why make things difficult for ourselves in the first place? In the presence of God is where we ultimately want to be, so if we stay close, the less time we spend umming and ahhing about how we’re going to reduce the distance that we’ve created.

3. God wants to be close to you

This is what Christ says to us:

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me – and I in him – bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. -John 15:4-5

We don’t like to feel like we need anybody but having God in our lives is a need we can’t flee from. Whenever I get depressed and start questioning life and my purpose of waking up that day it’s because I’ve decided to walk a few paces from the presence of God. I can hold my hands up to saying I need Christ to function, and if you know you do too, then remaining in him seems like the best thing to do.

Continue reading Why Long Distance Relationships Are Doomed To Fail

How To Overcome Temptations Bigger Than Take-Aways

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Temptation is the Achilles heel for most Christians because it usually throws people off of that ‘oh so holy‘ wave they were riding on. Once you succumb to sin you have to start the ball rolling on the ‘darn I’m not perfect, let me repent and ask for forgiveness, now I need to pick up where I left off with Christ’ ritual. We’ve seen the terrible consequences that not overcoming temptation can have (Adam and Eve: eternal damnation for all, Lot’s wife: turning into a pillar of salt) and we get scared at the very thought of what our failure could bring.

There isn’t any temptation that you have experienced which is unusual for humans. God, who faithfully keeps his promises, will not allow you to be tempted beyond your power to resist. But when you are tempted, he will also give you the ability to endure the temptation as your way of escape. 1 Corinthians 10:13.

The mere thought of being in a tempting environment can give us heart palpitations, but this scripture gives us some home truths that should help us exhale.

1) We aren’t alone in the temptation we face.

If other people have gone through what we’re going through, the chances are, other people have managed to overcome, which shows us that us being able to join them in #Team-Overcomers is possible. This also means that  there’s a wealth of advice, from our fellow followers of Christ, for not disappointing God and ourselves. Often we don’t want to share what we’re going through because we have to acknowledge our vulnerability, but being able to admit your weakness could be just the thing that saves you. I was giving my testimony on abstinence this week and can honestly say that being surrounded by like-minded individuals trying to achieve the same goal has been a massive help in my moments of weakness.

2) There’s no temptation that we’re facing that we can’t bear.

This brings us the ‘hard-to face, no excuses‘ kind of truth that we don’t really want to hear. If we are able to avoid sin then we are responsible for our own mistakes. If we can choose to sin, we can choose not to.

So, people who think they are standing firmly should be careful that they don’t fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12

Make no mistake, the fact that we have a choice, doesn’t mean we should put ourselves voluntarily into situations that are going to make serving Christ difficult for us, what  1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us is that even when we think we can’t stop ourselves from sinning,  we can.

So, what can we do?

Flee from sin: 2 Timothy 2:22-24

Pray against temptation: Luke 22:40

Remember that you can hold out. Philippians 4:13

We can’t really do anything in our own strength, but we can do all things through Christ. We mess up on so many occasions because we refused to acknowledge that we needed God to get through. We all find Christ and want to run with our new found faith but we have to make sure every step is taken in line with God’s stride. We need God in every single aspect of our lives, overcoming temptation included.

Love Dani xxxxx

He Spat At Me, So I Strangled Him

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What would it take for you to find yourself standing opposite someone with your hands placed firmly around their neck, as you squeeze with all the strength within you?

I play a lot of ‘what would you do if…’  games and I think there’s a general consensus that spitting at someone is somewhat of a cardinal sin. Personally, I can’t imagine anything much worse than that.  I think it’s because by the time you’ve realised that another human’s saliva has made contact with your skin, the immediate disgust is overpowered by  the acknowledgement of the extent of the disrespect handed to you and in seconds your shock turns into full blown rage.

So what would you say if we weren’t talking hypothetical situations?  Your friend is relaying their day and they utter “he spat at me so I strangled him”.  After I got past the shock that someone who is freely walking around planet Earth has actually rationalised spitting as an acceptable way to get a point across, my immediate reaction would be: Fair. Someone spat at you and then you attempted to strangle them to death…in my book, that is fair play. Of course, however, my immediate reaction does not fall into line with what the Good Book says we should do. We sometimes forget that making sure people reap what they sow is God’s duty because  we’re just so used to: ‘commit the crime, do the time’

( I say used to but I’m fully aware that some of us still have Free [insert name of convict] in our twitter bios who we know, all too well, was guilty, but hey, we’ll go with the majority of us).

The point is, finding a befitting punishment isn’t actually down to us. Who has been to Sunday school and remembers what God tells us to do in these situations?

Yup folks, that’s right….Forgive them.

She pushed all my buttons…forgive her.

He broke my heart…forgive him.

They neglected me…forgive them.

There won’t ever be a different instruction uttered out of the mouth of God when we air the grievances that people have lumbered us with. No sin is too big for forgiveness…

For all of you who are reading thinking “yeah…I get it…this ain’t nothing new about forgiving”,you might just be surprised. Since I actually started taking God seriously, (around the age of 11), one of the first things I came to terms with was the necessity of forgiving others. It wasn’t until last week that I realised I was doing it wrong. That’s TEN years of sort of, not really, ‘forgiving’ I’d been engaging in. So keep reading, maybe you can learn something new too…

I should probably start with letting you know that I’m an extremist. This means that I can easily switch from being completely obsessed with you one week and feeling like you’re dead to me another. I know that sounds harsh, it’s not that I wish death upon anyone, (before you start crafting your hate mail) I just have the tendency of going from all to nothing in a matter of moments. Like a rollercoaster but with real emotions. This meant that forgiveness for me has always come in three steps; Firstly, telling God, “I forgive them, and I let them go” and waiting for God to jump in and take away the feelings of resentment I had towards that person. Then, after I’d been healed and was no longer holding the grudge, I made sure that I put as much distance between myself and that person as possible so that they could never hurt me again. You know how the saying goes ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me’? I saw no logical explanation for staying around in order to be fooled for a second time. Hence, for me, the last step in the forgiveness process was being able to pray for the person. Being able to pray showed that I really did hold no resentment – I could even ask God to BLESS them! After the prayers I didn’t think I needed to pay that person a second thought. Or so I thought.

I

Was

Wrong

Oh so royally wrong

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has grievance against someone. Forgive as The Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

This week I realised where I had been diverging from the path God wants us to take. Sure I was forgiving people, but I definitely wasn’t forgiving as God forgives me.

Let me take you back to Calvary for a second. God took all your sins with him upon the cross, forgave you of all the ones you were going to make in advance and welcomed you into His kingdom. For me forgiveness meant shutting the door in the face of everyone that had hurt me to avoid a deja vu but that is not the example that Jesus set before us. After forgiving us he opens the door, and doesn’t just allow us to hang out in the  doorway and be distant friends, he puts a door stop in the door and invites us to be close to him. When Peter asked how many times should he forgive someone, Jesus answered SEVENTY-SEVEN times (in one day). That is pretty huge in comparison to my, ‘no second chances, I can forgive you, but I no longer want to be your friend’ rule.

Last week I had to lay at the altar (quite literally) the people that I thought I’d forgiven in my heart but hadn’t really. So much pain was released in that moment and  I left church feeling like a weight had been lifted.  This week I was deeply hurt by friends and while I was planning how I was going to shut them out of my life, I realised that once again, I wasn’t emulating Christ. Forgiving people isn’t just being able to pray for someone from a distance, it’s being able to continue to outstretch your arms, knowing full well they could rip out your heart with the next embrace.God doesn’t shut us out when we make mistakes, so why do we think that we get to? You may look at the pain people have caused you and conclude that they aren’t worthy of your friendship, but neither are we worthy of the Lord’s.

I hope  this is resonating in some small way. Forgiveness is a command, it isn’t gentle advice. Read Matthew 18:21-35 if you don’t believe me.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15.

Jesus said it, not me, for everyone who feels that’s a raw deal. It’s so important that we learn to forgive the people who hurt us. Looking back on all the people you’ve forgiven, can you say with confidence that you’ve actually forgiven them, or are you just numb to the pain and you’ve cut all strings with them? This isn’t advice to stay in abusive relationships or surround yourself with people that hate you, just merely encouragement to not act out of unforgiveness.

Next time someone hurts you; let the pain go in your heart, pray for God’s will to be fulfilled in their lives, and I dare you to not shut them out.

Love you all

Dani xxx

What I Learned After Cheating In My Relationship

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I’m not your average cheater. You know that person that has to listen to a long diatribe from Jeremy Kyle about how they don’t deserve the person they’re with and how much their cheating habits disgust him….yeah that’s not me. I’m far from being a saint but cheating is just so out of character for me, that after the… shall we call it…‘brief encounter with polygamy’ (‘affair’ sounds a bit harsh and ‘betrayal’ just too deep) I went on an emotional journey where I learnt lots about myself and about the world.

I suppose you want all the gory details! I do have some shame so you’re just going to have to fill in the gaps but I will give you some background info:

Prior to the ‘brief encounter with polygamy,’ (even I’m starting to feel like cheating is a new cool thing with that title- it totally isn’t) I’d been in an  off and on, mainly on, relationship for a long while. Average puppy love turned intense relationship as puberty came and went and my hormones finally relaxed  long enough for me to decide how I felt about things. That was me: average girl in love. I was happy! When I wasn’t happy, it was the usual breakdown in communication/ misplaced expectations that everyone goes through. What I am trying to say is…

I didn’t have a real reason to cheat.

I know it sounds cliche but one thing actually did lead to another and then BAM, I had made a mistake that filled me with regret. But hey, you didn’t sign up to listen to my sob story, I’ll get on to the useful things I learnt.

1)      Everybody can cheat

I guess this sounds like I’m justifying my actions but I promise you, that isn’t the case. After going through the whole period of regret and confession ( I had to confess; I’m a bad liar, and I knew he’d know what I’d done) I realised that I was wrong to think I was above cheating. I don’t know if I thought I was above cheating  because of the length of my relationship or because of how great the relationship was going at the time, but cheating forced me to wake up and realise that I wasn’t less likely than the next person in a relationship to make such a grave mistake.

2)      Dragging out apologies doesn’t help

So the morning after I had still had that half-sick feeling you get after doing something you regret. I was determined to make it right between us and I vowed to do everything in my power to make up for the day before… but it wasn’t the same. I didn’t know whether to say something or just carry on as normal. I couldn’t just push it under the rug because I wasn’t allowing myself to stop feeling guilty. That’s when I realised I had to address the problem.

3)      Cheating doesn’t mean it’s over

I know what you’re thinking because I’m thinking the same: I didn’t deserve to be in an amazing relationship when I couldn’t even stay faithful. I won’t try and defend myself because you’re right. However as Christians, we are able to enjoy a love we do not deserve every single day. I’m so aware that I don’t deserve the love God gave me when Jesus died on the cross.

Last week I slipped up and for a moment put a priority above God. I deserved punishment but instead he surrounded me with his love when I came to him to ask for forgiveness; I once again realised the true extent of his greatness despite how underserving I am.

I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now: I was cheating on God

We’ve all heard the analogy that John used describing Christ as the bridegroom and the church as His bride. Have you ever thought about what that means in real terms? Here’s what I realised: Amongst all the great things that come with a relationship, there are rules. You know the difference between casually seeing someone and then becoming an item? Now you have categorised your relationship , categories bring boundaries and preconceived rules about what is and isn’t ok. Unless you sign up to this new age logic which states that no-one can be faithful so we should all live in polygamous relationships, you understand the importance of staying faithful. When you entered into the relationship with Christ you committed yourself to him and him alone. We  never think of being married to Christ but it shouldn’t even be too hard to imagine. God is a jealous God. He doesn’t want to share your heart with Tom, Dick and Harry, or,  Coursework, Boyfriend, and Career.Staying faithful to God means keeping him as number one. Everything can have its proper place in your life but nothing else should inhabit your heart the way that God does; nothing else should take his place.

I hope you can learn something from my experience of cheating. You need to invest into relationships to keep them going. Also, in the same way temptation causes people to cheat in human relationships, temptations can cause our eyes to wander from God. From someone who’s been there and done that; it’s not worth it. Nothing and no-one can compare to the love that God gives you. Sin might be sweet for a night but we all have to live through the morning after. Let’s aim to stay faithful, affairs just aren’t worth the scandal.

Love lots DC X

Oscar Pistorious: Affluent. Role Model. Murderer?

Oscar-Pistorius

As far as athletes go Oscar Pistorious is pretty famous. Before February 2013 we all knew him as the man who became a double amputee aged 11 months, successful Paralympian, who won his fight to compete against able bodied athletes in the 2012 Olympics. Pretty revolutionary if you ask me. Whether or not earning £320,000 yearly makes him affluent or not is up for debate (it’s not quite successful rapper money, but it is more money that half the world’s population will ever see) as an example of someone who made lemonade, lemon pie, and lemon meringue out of life’s lemons, he’s an outstanding candidate for being your not so average role model. Now he’s on trial for murder.

We all wait with baited breath when celebrities are on trial because we want to see just how much leverage being a celeb gets you in court. I mention Oscar because in most of our minds he’s guilty of murder. His recount of the shooting, though very imaginative, seems rather far-fetched, and we’re all eagerly waiting for him to get off so that we can say justice can be purchased- an extremely problematic conclusion, shifting the Criminal Justice System  into camp corruption. Whether you’re being tried in a court in America, Britain, or Timbuktu we all share in the belief ‘ain’t nobody care if you’re a rich role model, the law is the law.’

Funny how we all subscribe to a measure that God doesn’t even take into consideration.

Gone are the days of sheep killing and sacrifices every  time you want to get back into God’s good books. We’re living in the new covenant of declaring with our mouths and believing in our hearts to qualify for salvation.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

On this basis, we can easily say ‘fairness’ has been chucked out with curtains (bit of biblical irony for you-if you know you know 😉 considering that the penalty of sin is supposed to be death. Justice would have been for us to die (sentenced to hell) and here we are being offered life (never-ending party in heaven). So where does that leave us in God’s courtroom? We see God as this all-powerful, infallible judge but we don’t realise that God is everybody in that room, lawyer, jury, best friend and all.

The most important thing I’ll say today (quite hard for me to say considering I’m one of those people who believes everything they say is important, or at least worth listening to) is that: God doesn’t want to see you fail.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  John 15:13.

I’d like you to do something for me. I know it’s early on in our relationship and it’s a bit soon to be asking for favours but I’m going to ask anyway. Don’t feel pressured to do anything you’re uncomfortable with, don’t need to appear in court for cyber-peer pressure (if that’s even a thing).

Ok I’m just going to come out and say it…

For a few seconds I need you to go on a short journey in your brain and don’t stop till you reach the door labelled ‘Your imagination’. Ok are you in? Going to have to assume you’re here. For the latecomers, when you arrive I need to you to imagine you’re in God’s courtroom.

Ok, so we’re in God’s courtroom, let’s start with God the Judge. Even people who aren’t Christian imagine God as this being (usually made of clouds that resembles an old man- similar to the guy on the KFC bucket) who sits on a throne deciding if people have been ‘good’ enough to go to heaven. My own name means God is my judge, and we all know at least one person who has ‘only God can judge me’ stamped on their arms. Needless to say we’re all on board with the idea of God as this powerful judge who holds the people’s fates in his hands. I think now is a good point to mention that the verdict is already in and God declares you righteous. Whether you helped the old lady with her shopping or called in sick to work because you ran out of your holiday allowance, the minute you gave your life to Christ, God declared you righteous. Simples.

Maybe God the lawyer will be a bit harder to imagine. I used to see God as the prosecution, gathering evidence of my sins, so he could judge me guilty. Never really considered that God was my defence. Revelation 12:10: Satan is the accuser of your faith. Satan is the one who calls you by your sin and gets you to buy into the idea that your sin is your defining characteristic. God is in your corner, wiping the sweat off your brow as you prepare to re-engage in the good fight of faith. It’s by God’s grace that we can live a life without sin, and where there is sin, his grace abounds even more (Romans 5:20). He didn’t just do you the ultimate favour by dying on the cross for your sins, he’s cheering you on every step of the way.

We can easily imagine God as the jury, deliberating our fate, judging by the inner workings of our hearts instead of our actions, but he’s also the best friend who turns up every day in court to see if we’re ok. Serving God can feel like an uphill struggle when you’re trying to go it alone. Working in all those group projects at school that made you want plan the extinction of every member of your group, cemented the ‘trust no man, if you want something done do it yourself mentality.’ However, repeatedly repenting for the same sins week in week out woke me up to the fact that I couldn’t be independent in my walk with God. Serving God takes complete dependence on that very same God. FYI- if you’re part of team Independent, you may as well give up now:

Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6

God is that friend that doesn’t ever stop wanting to be in your company. You don’t have to go it alone (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Ok imagination time over. Thank you for your co-operation. That’s God’s courtroom from my eyes. God plays all the roles and fights for your innocence because he doesn’t actually want to judge you guilty. When you think of God as this guy who’s eagerly waiting to throw the book at you and sentence you to hell remember that he loves you. Everyday can feel like a trial, but you’ve missed sight of the point if you think it’s all about rules and regulations. Everything God does is because he loves you (John 3:16)

In your striving to please God remember that love is what it’s all about

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself. Galatians 5:14

As you keep up with Oscar’s trial, count your blessings that God doesn’t judge you in the way that the Earth judges. Oscar’s fate will be (mostly) determined by justice. Be glad that you live by grace.

Godbless, Dani xxxxxx