The Basics: I’m a Selfish Sociopath that needs Self-Control

sociopath: noun 1. a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense or moral responsibility or social conscience.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22-23

I hope that you are starting to notice a pattern emerging from this series. I talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit an awful lot, and there is a good reason for that. A few months ago I wrote a post about love, the most important fruit we have, but today I want to focus on the key to being able to use the gifts of the Spirit at all times, even when we don’t feel like it. Today we are going to talk about self-control.

self control

The Makings of a Selfish Sociopath

If selfish ambitions have been the prison in my life, self-control has been the key that opened the door for my release. What does that mean? Well, if you look at the works of the flesh (found in Galatians 5:19-21), you will notice that self ambition is on the list. Self ambition, which means that you care more about yourself and your desires than others, will cause us to fail at every single one of the fruits of the spirit. But why? Well in our flesh, we are selfish. That means that we are capable of doing whatever it takes to get whatever we want. It means that I am capable of becoming a sociopath. That is in direct contrast with loving, being peaceful, being kind, being gentle, and so on and so forth — you get the idea. Apart from the Holy Spirit, every single one of us is capable of murder, molestation, rape, and adultery, just to name a few. This may shock you. If you believe that you are above committing any of these sins, you are being deceived. According to the Bible, our hearts are deceitfully wicked, and the works of the flesh are evident. Look at these two verses with me:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” -Jeremiah 17:9

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” -Galatians 5:19-21 Read more

Unrealistic Expectations And Your Husband

This post is part of the “Becoming A Better Wife” series.

One of the most fundamental problems in any marriage today is the problem of unrealistic expectations. We have unrealistic expectations for our husbands. Women all over the world are battling with the same problem, they desire to feel loved. When I first got married, I thought that I would finally feel loved and desired. I thought that all the issues from my past would melt away. Daddy problems, bam, gone. Insecurities, boom, permanently dissolved. Low self-esteem, p’wned (that is a gaming term for owned, or defeated). Loneliness, forget about it, I would never feel lonely again. But I was very wrong, and these insane expectations I thought my husband should meet put horrible stress on our marriage.

Jesus Understands

Sinful People Cannot Be Perfect

I am not saying that your husband shouldn’t cherish you, or love you the way that Christ loves the church. What I am saying is that your husband is not Jesus. Your husband could never take the place of Jesus in your heart. Not only that, but your husband is a human, made up of sinful flesh, just like you and I. That means that you cannot expect him to be perfect. Husbands make mistakes. Wives make mistakes. Jesus does not make any mistakes. Some of the most lonely moments in my life have been right next to my husband. I was lonely because I turned to my husband to help me through a situation where he did not understand how I was feeling. He could not understand. But the reason I was really lonely is because I wasn’t taking my problems to Jesus, the only One that truly understands every situation I go through. He is the only One that can love me the way I need to be loved.

My Husband Failed, Let’s Have Some Kids

A lot of times, women realize that their husband will not be able to fill this void in their life, so they decide to take the next step. Surely, having children will fill that void. It will give my life purpose and guarantee that there will be someone that loves me unconditionally. First of all, this is a huge mistake, because you are going from placing unrealistic expectations on your husband to placing them on your unborn child. Secondly, your quest to fill the void in your life will fail again and you will start to become bitter. Children of parents that expect them to be their, “everything,” will always tell you that they felt trapped and unequipped to meet the demands of this emotionally dependent parent.

The Return Of Mrs. Thirsty

Remember Mrs. Thirsty from John chapter 4? We talked about her in this post from the self-esteem series. She was looking to be satisfied, to have that same void filled in her life, but a string of unsuccessful marriages and living with her most recent boyfriend did not even come close to filling that void. She needed Jesus. He told her that if she drank the water He had, she would never thirst again. She would never feel that void again.

“but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14

Not only would she never thirst again, but she also would have eternal life. That is an awesome deal, if you ask me.

Changing The Pattern

So how can we free ourselves, our marriages, and our children from the heavy unrealistic expectations that we place on people to give our lives meaning and make us feel loved? The short answer is, we can’t. Only Jesus can. But we have to allow Him to do this work. We need to accept that Jesus is the only One that will be able to understand everything we go through. We need to find our worth in His love for us as individuals. We need to believe God when He says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We need to acknowledge that we have made our husband and children into idols, and put their acceptance and understanding of us above God’s acceptance and understanding of us. We need to repent, and apologize to our family members. Only when we see our pattern of sin and repent, can we have victory in our walk with God.

A Place To Start

If you are experiencing the unnecessary stress and pressure of placing unrealistic expectations on your spouse the first thing you need to do is acknowledge this pattern of behavior. The second thing to do is start a new pattern of behavior, and look to Jesus to fill this void in your life. He is the only one that can truly make you feel loved. He is the only one in your life that can heal the hurts that are still buried deep down inside of your heart. He is the only one that can satisfy the longings you have been passing onto to your husband. This is something that I had to start doing in my own, every day life. Whenever something upsetting happens, or I remember a past hurt that threatens to fill my heart with bitterness, I pray. I tell Jesus what is bothering me. I ask Him to help me see my sin, if there are any specific sins that need to be addressed regarding this issue. I ask Him to help me through this, to comfort me, and to give me His overwhelming sense of peace.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

See, it says right there, let your requests be made known to God, not to anyone else. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk to other people, like your husband, about things that are bothering you. In fact, you should frequently share with your husband, because that creates intimacy, which is God’s desire for your marriage. But you should go to God first. Your husband cannot give you that sense of peace that God can, no matter how hard he tries.

Husbands Like To Fix Things

If you do take all of your problems to your husband first, without taking them to God, you are putting your husband in a horrible position. Men like to fix things, and when their wives expect them to fix problems they are not capable of fixing, they end up in this infinite loop of frustration. This is not an equation for a happy, God-centered marriage.

How Your Husband Can Help

One of the best ways to allow God to do a work of healing from past hurts is to talk about them with and pray about them with someone you love and trust. This is a great opportunity for your husband to co-labor with you towards you being fulfilled and healed in Jesus Christ. Some husbands are great at listening and offering loving and biblical advice, but not all men are created the same (which is a good thing if you ask me). Your husband may not know how to navigate through these types of hurts, so if you need to, ask your husband to attend counseling with you. This way he can be there for you, but the pressure is off of him if he does not know how to respond, or what questions to ask you in order to move your healing process in the best direction.

Let’s Pray

Dear Jesus,

Help us to be the wives that You want us to be. Help us to find our complete fulfillment in You. Help us not to thirst ever again. Help us to take these impossible burdens off of our husband’s shoulders and give them to You. You are more than capable of carrying them, and helping us get rid of them forever. Heal our broken hearts the way only You can. Help us to know that You love us, and that really is enough.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

There is a lot more I could say about accepting God’s love for you and understanding you are a beautiful creation, but I think we have covered enough for today. Please feel free to write any questions or concerns you have about this post below, or email me at kristin.n.spencer [at] gmail.com.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin Spencer

The Basics: Prayer 101

This post is part of “The Basics” series, a series all about the basics of being a follower of Jesus Christ.

We talked about the word of God (at length) in the last post. Today I want to talk about the other half of the conversation. In “Trusting God” I introduced the idea of an ongoing conversation with God, the goal being a more intimate relationship with our Creator. Now that we know that God speaks through His word, we also need to consider how we can talk to Him.

Before I get started, I know this is Prayer 101, so I will not go into prayer too much as a spiritual weapon (that  will be for another post), but I do want to say that prayer is the #1 most underrated weapon in our arsenal against ungodly influences. Now back to prayer basics.

prayer 101

When People in the Bible Prayed

“Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD.” –2 Kings 20:5

This is an interesting read in the bible. Hezekiah is sick, really sick. He is dying. Isaiah the prophet comes to him and tells him that God says to put his house in order, because he is going to die. Hezekiah is heartbroken. We don’t know all the details, but for some compelling reason, Hezekiah wants to live longer. So he prays and begs for God to remember how he has served God in truth with a loyal heart. God’s response is that he will add fifteen years to his life and deliver the city from the king of Assyria. All good news, right? But what I want to point out in this scripture (one that is not often quoted in a lesson about prayer 101), is the intimacy that prayer displays and creates. There is no way you can read this verse without recognizing the relationship between God and Hezekiah. It was a relationship that went both ways. You can see that they care about each other. That is the same relationship God desires with you and I. He wants to have this same closeness with us.

“But certainly God has heard me;

He has attended to the voice of my prayer.”

Psalm 66:19

We also see throughout the book of Psalms how close David is to God through his repeatedly mentioned prayer life. David was serious about prayer, and through these prayers and psalms, we can see how this one aspect of David’s life created a friendship with and dependency on his Lord.

“For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit in Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” –Philippians 1:19-20

The Apostle Paul knew how vital prayer is, and he literally looked at the prayers of others for him as a life line, spiritually speaking. Read more

Saying, “I Love You.”

I pray that all of you have had an amazing holiday season with loved ones. I personally was ill on Christmas and New Years (and my birthday), but it was a welcome time of rest for my body and refreshing for my spirit as well. I spent a lot of time reading. But I also spent quite a bit of time thinking about this post. It has been on my heart to write a post about this for a while, and I finally feel like I understand what God wants me to say.

saying i love you

I Just Can’t Say It

When I was a teenager, I was looking for someone to love me. I didn’t understand God’s love for me, and I felt distanced from my family due to different circumstances. The lack of love I felt finally led me to have difficulty saying, “I love you,” back when people said it to me. There was too much at risk when I said it. I became dramatically aware of this problem when one of my close friend’s mothers told me she loved me before their family was getting ready to move away. I was shocked that she said it, even though I had so desperately wanted to hear it, that I just stood there and said nothing. I remember thinking, “What is wrong with me? I’m supposed to be a Christian, an ambassador of Jesus’ love, and I can’t even tell this woman that I actually do love, that I love her too.”

The Risk

If you are self conscious, you will understand me when I say that saying, “I love you,” was a risky phrase. Every time I said it was volunteering for rejection. Thoughts like, “What if they don’t say it back?” “Will they stop being my friend if I say this?” “Why should I make myself vulnerable?” raced through my head constantly. I reserved these three words for family and a few select friends. I was not willing to risk anymore of my already dwindling confidence. No matter how much I wanted to show people the unconditional love of Christ, I wouldn’t make myself be that open.

When Things Started To Change

Over the last few years, God helped me to deal with my insecurities (read this series all about it) and to replace my deceitful pride with godly confidence. Once I realized that God’s love and acceptance for me is all that I need, I was able to sacrifice my own feelings on His altar in a very open way. I started to realize that since I don’t look at other people or myself to give my life value, that I’m not risking anything I can’t afford to risk. Do my feelings still get hurt? Of course, but now I don’t see, “I love you,” as an opening for an eternal wound.

Unconditional and Selfless Love

The purpose of love is to show someone that you care for them in such a way that nothing they do can change how you care for them. Something I tell my kids often is, “I may not always like the choices that you make, but I will always love you no matter what.” This is the love that Jesus inspired by dying on the cross for our sins. He showed us His love by sacrificing His life. I believe that Jesus was also clear when He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

We are commanded to love each other. The verse doesn’t say, “weigh out the pros and cons of loving someone and then decide if you should.” This verse specifically addresses the love between believers, but it also tells us that the testimony of loving others will identify us as followers of Jesus Christ.

What Is Love?

… baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more. Just kidding. I couldn’t help myself. But in all seriousness, what does biblical love look like? It is a choice that we make, whether or not we are going to care for someone, no matter how they treat us. Everyone will point to 1 Corinthians 13 at this point, because it is true. Not because it is some cheesy poem about love. This chunk of scripture challenges us to do the most difficult thing any person can do, choose to love in extremely difficult circumstances. Read more

The Basics: Trusting God

If You Don’t Know Him, You Won’t Believe Him

This is the second post in the series, “The Basics,” which goes through the basic things we believe as Christians.

Today I wanted to talk more about why it is important to know God. In the last post, “Getting To Know God,” I talked about why it is important to know what the bible is, how to use it, and why we all need to let our relationship with the Lord get way more serious. I quoted many bible verses. The next thing we need to talk about is trusting God.

Trusting God_2 the bible is a love letter

As a Christian there are certain perks (or advantages) that we have, because we know Someone that has inside information into everything. God knows everything that has happened in the past, and He knows everything that will happen in the future. He is all knowing (or omnipotent). In fact He created everything, so He knows exactly how things are supposed to work. Not only does He know, but He gave us the bible, which is a love letter that contains details about how everything in our lives should be approached for maximum joy, growth, and fruitfulness.

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you had a friend that knew literally everything (let’s also try to imagine that this person isn’t extremely arrogant. I know, unlikely, but stay with me). Wouldn’t you ask their advice before you made decisions? Wouldn’t the fact that you knew someone with access to any type of information change the way you live your life? Let me throw one more factor into this hypothetical situation. Imagine you have not known this person for very long and you don’t know if you can trust them. Wouldn’t your ability to trust that person shape the way you behave when they give you advice or information? Read more

The Basicis: Getting To Know God

This is the first part of a new series called, “The Basics” which I hope will lead you through a journey to understanding the basic ideas behind Christianity and your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Even if you have been walking with the Lord for many years, I hope that this series will be a time of refreshing your faith as we walk through God’s word together.

Getting to know God

The first thing we need to do is talk about Jesus. Who is Jesus? Well historically we know that He lived over 2,000 years ago in the middle east. He is acknowledged as an insightful and wise teacher among most religions in the world today, but He is so much more than that. We can learn everything we need to know about Jesus in God’s word, an inspired book, written about God, Jesus, and their relationship with sinful people.

The Bible is the only living book that has ever existed, and it continues to be a very important tool in our journey of getting to know God better. If you live in the Americas or Europe, you are very blessed to be able to get ahold of a Bible and read it whenever and wherever you want. Not all Christians have this blessing. In some countries in the world, the Bible is banned and illegal to own. That is how powerful this book is.

Read more

Self-Esteem: A Well Groomed Lie – Part 2

This is Part 2 of the series titled, “Self-Esteem: A Well Groomed Lie.” In part one we went over the definition of self-esteem and covered the first three points of the definition in contrast to God’s word. If you haven’t listened to part one I highly recommend you listen to or read it before getting into part two, and with that recommendation, let’s get started on the fourth point of the definition of self-esteem.

self-esteem circular reasoning

Is Worldly Fulfillment Natural?

4. Self-esteem is also the experience that success, achievement, fulfillment – happiness – are right and natural for us.

I’m just going to address one thing on this list, because it is the most important. Worldly fulfillment. Is fulfillment right and natural for us?

There isn’t any specific verse that tells us, “God made you to desire Him, and if you don’t turn to Him, you will have an empty and miserable life, no matter what you do.” But we do see stories of famous people, people that have it all, committing suicide or overdosing on drugs they are taking to numb the painful emotions they feel. Worldly objects and worldly relationships just can’t fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts, can they? This reminds me of one of my favorite stories in the bible. Jesus is doing something He was always doing, looking for lost people that needed Him. He was at a Samaritan well, during the hottest part of the day, a big no-no at the time and in that culture, and he encounters a woman. Let’s go straight to the text in John 4:6-18:

“Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.” Read more

Self-Esteem: A Well Groomed Lie – Part 1

Where the phrase “Self-Esteem” Comes From

The words, “self-esteem” have followed me around like a dark cloud overhead ever since I was very young. Recently I have started on a journey to figure out what these words really mean, and where they actually come from. I wanted to know if self-esteem was actually a biblical concept. I think the answers  will surprise you. Let’s get started with where the phrase came from.

self esteem lie

The internet is such an amazing tool! Even though it makes the spread of evil and addiction more accessible than every before in history, it is also an amazing resource for the believer. I started this project by looking for “self” and “esteem” in the bible, and there wasn’t one verse that had both words in them. In fact, there are 6 verses that contain the word “esteem” and most of them have to do with esteeming others. Only one talks about obtaining esteem for yourself, in Proverbs 3:1-4 it says,

“My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and esteem in the sight of God and man.” Read more

What Marriage Isn’t

Welcome back to Sincerely Adorned, Discipleship Online for Women. I’m Kristin Spencer, your host and sister in the faith.

This is my first official topic podcast, now that we are finished with introductions and my personal testimony, yay!

what marriage isnt

What Marriage Isn’t

There are quite a few weddings coming up in my family, and I know too many people that are struggling in their marriages because they had the wrong idea  about what marriage actually is when they got married. So let me start out by saying, Lindsey and Christi, I love you both so much and I am praying for your marriages!! I am so excited for both of you and your future hubbies!

We live in a day and age when the concept of marriage has been twisted and spoiled. No, I am not going to talk about homosexual marriage. What I want to talk about today is how marriage has become an act of self-satisfaction thats ultimate goal is lacking the very essential meaning of marriage as God intended. Today I want to talk about what marriage isn’t.

Listen carefully, because if you enter into marriage thinking it is going to make your life happy and complete, you are absolutely wrong. If you have listened to my testimony, you know that I am happily married, but making myself happy wasn’t my motivation for getting married. My happiness is also not the reason my husband and I enjoy our marriage to each other so much. Jesus is the one that healed me and taught me how to be fully satisfied in Him alone. That is where my joy comes from. Read more

Personal Testimony – Part Two

This is part two of my personal testimony. If you haven’t listened to part one, you can check it out here.

When we left off I was a senior in high school and I had just rededicated my life to the Lord. I started regularly attending the High School group at my church and even started a new Christian club at my high school, since there wasn’t one that year. I was trying to change my behavior and let God give me an inside/out make over, but I was still clinging onto sinful behaviors. I was trying to missionary date an older guy I had met the previous year, and it didn’t work at all. Can I just take a second to say how bad of an idea missionary dating is? Read more