Category Archives: Vulnerability

More Than Chills and Signs: How To Experience God’s Presence

Here’s the good news for those of you who have gotten frustrated in your walk with God because you don’t feel you are disciplined enough: growing in your faith is not just about discipline.

I’ve spent over 40 years pursuing a relationship with God that certainly involved what some call the main “spiritual disciplines” of prayer, Bible study, accountability and fellowship. There’s no doubt that these are crucial for a healthy walk with the Lord. But as I look back on some key turning points in my spiritual walk, there were definitely times when I was just spiritually needy and emotionally desperate – and I experienced God’s life-changing powerful presence.

More than giving us chills and supernatural signs, God wants to meet our deepest emotional needs in an encounter with Him. While you can’t build your faith on feelings alone, they nonetheless are part of experiencing God’s presence. Emotional hunger and honest expression of your feelings can ignite a wave of spiritual renewal.

Be Hungry For God

Be open to God “showing up” in times when you desperately need Him.

I remember one pivotal moment in my life when this occurred. I was coming home from my junior year of study abroad in Spain. It had been a long year, exciting but also lonely, and I had battled anxiety and anorexia. I was feeling very vulnerable as I sat in the airport in Madrid, hungrily reading a devotional my mother had sent me.

The airport speakers were broadcasting all these songs in Spanish and I was reading my devotional in English when all of a sudden something amazing occurred: just as I was reading the words about how God is like a bridge over troubled waters, the American song “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” breaks through the loudspeakers.

I raised my eyes to the speakers, incredulous that God was speaking to me in literally my own language! I heard the message loud and clear that God was saying: “Lauren, I am with you, everywhere, and always.” Tears streamed down, and joy and hope welled up in me. I can remember and actually “feel” that experience, even to this day.

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(Continue reading this article at Christian Mingle Believe)

The “T” Word: How to Build Trust When Dating Someone New

In relationships, we often hear “I trusted him, but he broke my heart!” Getting to know someone does involve a degree of vulnerability and openness, but we can let our hearts get emotionally attached to someone and place too much trust in them without knowing their feelings and intentions toward us.

Many times, we think we are falling in love with someone when really we are just naively and prematurely placing our trust in someone – and we haven’t yet defined whether the relationship warrants our full trust in the person.

Misplaced trust leads to broken hearts, and is one of the most painful experiences we go through. But it also turns our eyes back to God, the One who is worthy of our trust.

Love And Trust

Trust and love may go hand in hand, but they certainly aren’t the same thing. We often incorrectly define Love as the feelings and emotions of passionate attraction to someone; however, it’s a deeper, intentional perspective and commitment than that.

In addition, we mistakenly think we should automatically trust a person with our heart because of what we feel for them. But you could be setting yourself up for a broken heart by associating your feelings for them as a reason for opening up your heart completely, but prematurely, to them.

In Scripture, we are admonished to love one another as Christ loves us, serve one another, bear with one another – but never does it say, “Trust one another.” Trust must be cultivated. It has to be earned. Aside from emotionally falling in love with someone, you need to also see if they are trustworthy. This involves an evaluation of their intentions and their character – specifically, if they have Christ-like character.

How, When And Who To Trust

Not sure where to start with trusting someone you’re dating? Use these guidelines for when you begin a new relationship:

  • Trust shouldn’t be given on command. Trust has to be cultivated and build. It should never be commanded from someone. Abusive and unhealthy relationships specialize in this. Credible, mature people will expect that trust has to be earned and built over time – and they will comply with this relational process in a spirit of grace and patience.
  • Misplaced trust puts too much pressure on the relationship. Fully trusting someone early on in a relationship puts too much pressure on that relationship. It’s like looking at wedding rings on your first date. Relationships crack under that pressure. Refrain from premature reassurances of, “I trust you, it’s okay.” Communicate about the concerns you have instead of just deferring to the word “trust” as a crutch. Consult with God, who you can fully trust to guide you. (Prov 3:5-6)
  • Establish trust one step at a time. It’s not wise to open up and share the deepest scars of your past on the first couple of dates. You need to discern whether the person you are dating is sincerely interested in you as a person and whether they have the maturity and grace to accept your past experiences. Eventually, it will be appropriate for you to be more vulnerable as the relationship becomes ……

(Read the rest of my article at Believe: Dating. Marriage. Relationships the Christian Way

Revolutionize Your Dating Life With This One Word!

Everyone wants to put their best foot forward when it comes to first dates and new relationships. Most people anticipate their first date by shopping for a new outfit, trying out a new cologne, and getting the car washed. Some call and ask for advice from friends on how to approach the date, or where to take their date for the evening. Some even picture all the romantic moments to come and hope that they will soon feel the first stirrings of love.

But as we enter the dating scene, we encounter a world of challenges and we’re stretched beyond our early thoughts of how we thought it would be.  And while these preparations are helpful, there’s one word that can ultimately revolutionize your dating life: humility.

On The Way To Love

It takes genuine humility to participate in the process of meeting, connecting and falling in love because it takes an admission of our hopes and of who we are at the very core. Humility is not a word normally equated with having a healthy social life, mainly because it is often improperly defined and misapplied to our lives.

Humility isn’t about being down on yourself. It’s really about freedom – freedom from pride and conceit, freedom from performance anxiety, and freedom from the fear of being known. It’s about being realistic and appropriately vulnerable in our social connections. Christ is our role model when it comes to seeing how humility is fleshed out. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart…” (Matthew 11:29)

This freedom from arrogance can beautify your budding relationships. Dating with a humble attitude can actually revolutionize your dating life and bring you closer to the kind of healthy relationship that God can bless.

Here’s how:

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(Read the rest of my article at Believe

“Dating. Marriage. Relationships the Christian Way.”

The Sound of a Healthy Relationship

Nothing really shocks me when it comes to the reality of relationship problems many of us experience. So over the years, I’ve had the privilege of couples asking me to help spiritually counsel them in their troubled relationships. I’ve listened to women weeping, and men with averted eyes of pain, sharing their stories of relational breakdown. And the sound of weeping, angry words, and anguished questioning breaks my heart. It breaks God’s heart too.

But there is another sound that is literally music to my ears. It’s a secret, almost indiscernible sound that occurs in healthy relationships. And when I hear it, I get excited for that couple and their future. It’s not romantic music playing in the background or the sound of someone whispering sweet nothings in their partner’s ears.

Let me tell you about the sound of a couple on their way to growth, wholeness, and lasting love. Listen in as they talk to each other and deal with their baggage and their pain. Here’s what you’ll hear with your spiritual ears, if you listen carefully:

It’s the sound of chains falling. Bondages being broken.

When I see a couple that knows how to not only care for one another, forgive each other– yes, all that– but actually knows how to powerfully and prayerfully counsel each other, then I know that couple will make it. They will go the distance. They can overcome any obstacle, trial, or challenge in their relationship.

I Didn’t Sign Up for That!

You might say, “Lauren, I’m not a trained counselor! I didn’t sign up to do counseling when I got married.”

But you don’t have to have a Master’s degree to counsel your loved one. You don’t have to have thick psychology textbooks on hand to speak to your spouse the words that will break that despair they’re battling, that bondage they’re under. You just have to lovingly listen, and know the Bondage Breaker Himself, Jesus Christ. He will break every chain of deception and despair that’s on you. His Word speaks with authority.

And it’s not that you have to be a theologian and understand every nuance in every verse. The basic principles are there for even a child to understand: He is for us, not against us. He gave His life for us so that we can have abundant life. It’s His will that we forgive each other, bear with each other, love each other. And it’s not His will that we are in bondage to any secret sin, addiction, or pattern of defeat.

So here’s how you start: agree that you won’t ever lie to each other about what you’re personally battling. Agree that you both may have negative patterns developed from your past that need to be changed. And agree that in your relationship, you will pray for and fight for healing, wholeness and personal growth. Pray for that repeatedly.

And I’ll Be There…Always

Be committed to being each other’s counselor in the best sense of that word–because the Holy Spirit is our Counselor.

John 14:15-17 …I will ask the Father to give you another Helper, to be with you always. He is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. But you recognize him, because he lives with you and will be in you.

The Holy Spirit comforts and helps us. He counsels and convicts us when we’re going off course. And while we don’t have the perfection of soul to convict someone of sin (leave that to God) there is something powerfully important about His ultimate function on earth: He is always with us. Ask God to help you function the same way, with your fiance or spouse. Commit to being there for them, always, in that same attitude.

Unstoppable

In our 33 years of marriage, Bill and I have counseled and comforted each other countless times. We have often joked about sending each other a bill for our counseling services rendered to each other. We’ve logged thousands and thousands of hours of prayerfully listening to each other unburden ourselves of hurts, fears, and painful memories from our past. And because of that trust built, the healing received, and the comfort of counsel given, we’ve become unstoppable as a married couple.

So reassure your spouse of your commitment to them. Tell your loved one, “I want to see you well. I want to see you whole. I want to see you walking in everything God has destined for you. And I’m not going to stop listening to you and praying and declaring that over you.

Let them hear you say that. Say it with conviction. And live it out.

Then get ready to hear that wonderful sound that lets the two of you know–you will make it: It’s the sound of Chains Falling.