Why Loving Ourselves isn’t the Answer

In a world that constantly encourages us, "love yourself!" it's easy to get caught up in the finding-yourself trend. But what does the Bible say about self-love? Click here to read more!

I’ve been noticing a trend on the Internet lately, even in Christian circles.

“10 ways to find yourself.”

“3 ways to learn self-love.”

“7 habits to discover who you are.”

When I see these posts on other blogs and social media, my heart aches.

You do not need to find yourself. You do not need to learn to love yourself. Oh, sister…no.

What does the Bible say about self-love?

You won’t find the words “self-love” in the Bible, but you will find the word “pride” over and over…and over again. God has a lot of not-so-nice things to say about pride. His Word says that pride is the root of all evil. Satan loved himself, and he fell “like lightning from heaven.”

To paraphrase Francis Chan (love that guy), Satan’s power is deception. His main weapon is to lie to the children of God; to twist the Truth and pull us away from Him. One of his talents is making sin look beautiful. Satan takes something that goes against God’s Word and makes it look beautiful by making it sound good or by putting good music behind it. It’s not a stretch to say that while self-love sounds so good, it’s really just pride.

I can’t find any place in the Bible that tells us to love ourselves. We are told to love God and love others, but never ourselves.

You do not need to love yourself.

Jesus died so that you did not have to love yourself. He died so that you could be loved by your Father, the God of the Universe.

If I love myself, I won’t get anywhere. As a human, I need love. But I was not designed for my own love, or any other human’s, for that matter. I was designed to be loved perfectly, by my God.

I was not created for myself, but for God. So how could I get love from myself? I won’t ever “find myself”, no matter how long I search, because I was created to be Christ. If I start to focus on loving myself, my focus is pulled from loving the Lord and the people around me, which is what I’m commanded to do.

Instead of trying to love myself out of my own human imperfection, I can accept the unconditional, ever-present, unchanging love of my Father. When I find my worth in Him, I find who I truly am.

Maybe we need to stop trying to be ourselves and start striving to be Christ—the One we have always been meant to illuminate.

Continue Reading

Stress: Dealing with It in a God-Honouring Way

We all have stress in our lives. But how do we deal with it? And how do we deal with it in a way that honours God? Click here to read my top four ways to de-stress!

In today’s world, a lot is expected of teens and young adults. At a young age, we need to decide what kind of career we want, where we’ll go to college, where we’ll live, who we’ll marry…the list goes on and on. How is is possible to make all these decisions without some level of stress?!

The thing is, we millennials aren’t the only ones who are stressed. Stress doesn’t just go away once you turn 27. We’ll always have stressful things to deal with. The problem with stress is that it steals our joy. And stress is a dangerous mix of busyness + worry, which are both things God tells us not to entertain.

But how do we avoid stress? I mean, life happens. It’s pretty hard to avoid, unless you want to live your life hidden in a room (and I doubt many of us want that). Today, I’m going to share with you my top four ways of dealing with stress!

1. Tell God you’re not okay.

How many of us run to our phone and text our best friend when we find out that we failed a test for the first time? (Guilty!) The thing is, God should be the first one we go to when stuff happens. He created us, and He loves us. I can’t tell you the number of times (if I had to guess, it would probably be about a gazillion) that I’ve gone to God and said, “God, this really, really sucks. I don’t even know what to do or say.” God is with us in everything—and He’s never leaving. He created us, and He loves us. Why are we so hesitant to approach Him with our problems? I promise He’s big enough to handle it. And His grace is enough to get us through it. It’s been my experience that when I go to God with my issues + problems, He comforts me like no other. He knows my spirit like no other, and He knows exactly how to comfort me. I’m blown away by His love.

2. Have time to yourself.

I’m an introvert—very much so. This means that I need to be alone to recharge. I love people and being around my friends, but at some point my tank gets empty. And the only way to fill it back up is to spend some time by myself–whether that’s reading a book, working on a sewing project, or just doing my nails and listening to music. When I’m feeling stressed out, it always helps to have some me-time. Once I have more energy, it’s 10x easier to deal with whatever I’m facing!

3. Spend some time in the Word.

One of the things that helps me a LOT when I’m feeling overwhelmed is opening my Bible to the book of Psalms. Sometimes I find something that really speaks to my situation and God uses His Word to put me back into perspective. Other times, I’m just reminded of how great our God is and how He is so wonderfully in control.

4. Go for a hike.

Okay, so there aren’t that many places to hike in southwestern Ontario. It’s pretty flat down here. But going for a walk does wonders for a stressed soul. There’s something about doing something physically active and spending time in God’s creation that is a huge stress-reliever. When I walk around and take the time to see how incredible God is, I’m comforted that He can handle whatever it is I’m going through. Often, we drive by gorgeous autumn trees, new spring flowers, wide blue lakes, and towering mountains and we forget Who made them all. When I take the time to seek out and look at our Lord’s creation, I find myself wanting to praise Him all the more.

How do you deal with stress?

Continue Reading

Is Fear Making Your Decisions for You?

We all have to make big decisions in our lives. But how are we making those decisions? Are they made in faith or fear? How do we know which decision is the right one? Read more to find out!

Have you ever been faced with a decision and wondered which path is the right one to take?

I’m sure you have. We all have. Life is based on decisions. Lots of these decisions we make automatically, barely thinking about them. This morning, you made the decision to get out of bed and start your day. Other times, we have to make really big, “life-altering” decisions—where to go to school, what job to accept, who to marry. Other decisions are critical, but we don’t put enough emphasis on them. Who will we spend our time serving? How will we treat those around us?

Recently, I was talking to a close friend of mine. She is currently working her first “real job” after graduating college, and is faced with the decision of whether or not she should continue her education.

As we talked, I shared that recently, I’ve caught myself making a lot of decisions out of fear. I choose one option just because I’m fearful of the alternative. When we’re faced with a challenge, it’s often easier to take the easy route (which may not have as many benefits) instead of the more challenging path (although it could reap a richer harvest).

How often do we pray about a big (or small) decision we have to make, only to pick the easier or less-scary one? I think if we really consider the last few significant choices we made, we will find that one—or several—of those choices was made out of fear.

But God doesn’t want us to live like that. Over and over in Scripture, we are told to “not fear” and “be not afraid”. God is not a God of fear. He is a God of love and courage and blessing. He is a brave God. And we can have that bravery.

Next time you’re wondering which path God wants you to take, consider whether or not fear is a factor. God will never use fear to guide you. He guides by love. Satan will try to steer you away from God’s will with fear. Perhaps the route you’re fearing is actually the route God wants you to take.

God will not bring you to something if it is not His will. Even though you may be fearful, He is with you. Always.

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

(2 Tim. 1:7)

Continue Reading

Guarding Your Heart in Every Area of Life

Hello all! Welcome to the second part of the Having a Heart of Gold series! In this mini-series, we’ve been looking at having a heart after God’s own—what it is and isn’t, what it means, and why it’s important. Last week, we talked about why following your heart may not always be the best answer. (If you haven’t read that post yet, you can check it out by clicking here!) This week, we’re talking about guarding your heart—what does that even mean? And why does it matter? Keep reading to find out!

You've probably heard about "guarding your heart" in the context of dating. But have you ever thought of guarding your heart in other areas of life? Why is guarding our hearts so important? In this post, I explain why it's important and give you some practical tips to guard your heart and bring you closer to God!

Usually when someone tells you to “guard your heart,” when your thirteen, they basically mean don’t get too attached to a boy until you’re ready to date. But we all should be guarding our hearts in some way for the rest of our lives.

What do I mean when I say “guard” your heart? Webster’s Dictionary defines guard as this:

a state in which someone is carefully looking for possible danger, threats, problems, etc.

From this, I would define guarding your heart in the Christian context as looking for any possible threats to your heart—temptations, envy, anger, gossip, etc. So why is guarding your heart important?

The Bible gives a really good–and simple–reason in Proverbs 4 (ESV):

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

Other versions say to “guard” your heart, for “everything you do” flows from it. As discussed in the first part of this series, our heart affects everything we do. Our emotions, thoughts, and actions all originate in the heart. It’s such an integral part of our being that we can’t afford to leave it be. When our heart is wise, it is evident in every area of our lives:

A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left. Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense, and he says to everyone that he is a fool. (Ecc. 10:2 – 3)

So how can we guard our hearts? There are definitely things we need to guard our hearts from…but how do we do that?

Ask God to create a new heart in you.

When we try to become wise, we become our own kinda wise–which is really foolishness to God. On our own, we can’t guard our hearts. That would be like trying to create weapons out of trees and branches against Satan’s nuclear weapons–it just won’t work.

However, when we ask God for His heart, He gives us just that–the super-tough Satan-proof stuff. We have new desires and new thoughts. When you ask Him to, He will give you the strength to resist Satan.

Ask God to show you areas that are attacking your heart.

Unfortunately, we often have a hard time seeing beyond ourselves. It doesn’t usually go well when we’re all courageous and say, “Temptation? Pfff…I got this.” Yeah…notsomuch. But when we ask God to specifically point out the areas of our lives that maybe aren’t actually turning us toward Him, He will gently convict (or two-by-four-over-the-head convict) you of things that are actually attacking your relationship with Him. Are there people in your life who are pulling you away from Christ? Are there things distracting you from spending time with God? Do you have any desires that are pulling you from Christ?

Make the (uber-tough) decision to put those things aside.

…And if need be, actively pray against them. We are fighting a war here. Christianity isn’t a feel-good philosophy to get us through life and make us moral people. It’s a battle against evil with the promised victory of eternal life. Things won’t change just because you want them to. Prayer is required–regular, sincere, battle-worthy prayer. As you pray against those things pulling you from God, also concentrate on the things that encourage your walk with Christ and build God’s armor around yourself. A heart of good character won’t just happen, but it will become stronger as you build into it.

As you go into this week, allow me to challenge you to find one thing that you need to guard against. Ask God to help you to guard your heart, and be willing to make life changes to become closer to His.

Are there things in your life that threaten your heart-armor?

How do you overcome these things?

Other posts from the Heart of Gold series:

  1. Is Following Your Heart a Good Idea?
  2. Guarding Your Heart in Every Area of Life (you’re reading it now!)
Continue Reading

Is Following Your Heart a Good Idea?

Hello all! Welcome to the first week of the Having a Heart of Gold series! Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at what it means to have a heart after God’s own—what it is and isn’t, what it means, and why it’s important. This week, we’re talking about why following your heart may not be the answer to life’s tough decisions. So grab an iced coffee & your favourite throw blanket (if you’re an iced-coffee-and-cute-throw kinda person) and read on!

The world says "Just follow your heart," -- but is this really a good idea? How do we stay "true to ourselves" and yet follow God's leading at the same time? Does God care about our desires? Click here to read more!

So…the heart. It’s a simple enough concept, yet ask any three people what the heart is, and you’ll get a variety of answers. A muscle that runs the whole body. A bit of your mind, soul, and body all wrapped into one. Your capacity to love and be loved and build relationships. There are so many different things that the heart is. In reality, all these are true. The heart is complex and capable of hundreds of emotions, desires, and thoughts, and is significant in every part of life.

If the heart is so many things, what does it mean to follow your heart? When I hear people say this or apply it to a situation, I usually understand it to mean following your “true desires” or dreams. To be honest, I think that the phrase “Just follow your heart!” is a very dangerous one. But before you decide that I am totally uptight & nuts-o, please hear me out.

Here’s my type-A, eldest-child logic. We are not perfect, right? In fact, we’re flat-out sinful creatures, born with the strong tendency to want to disobey God. Correct? So why do we think that following our own heart is always the right move? How can we trust our emotions and desires when we are inherently sinful?

The heart is no exception to our self-serving nature. Jeremiah had strong words about the heart. Chapter 17, verse 9 says this:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

God is not satisfied with the situation of our hearts. In fact, when we become Christians, God gives us a new heart. In Ezekiel 36, He promises us this:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

If the Bible is so clear about the condition of our heart before Christ, and God’s desire to change our heart, why do we think it’s a good idea to blindly follow the desires of our hearts? If we want to make the right decision, should we not seek  to follow the heart of the One who is perfect and true and in Whom there is no fault?

When we follow our hearts, we are following our emotions that are happening right now, in the present moment. This is dangerous because emotions change, and they are not reality. God warns us against allowing emotions to rule our lives. In Proverbs, fools are people who speak based on their emotions and act on how they feel. When we follow our feelings, we simply aren’t being wise.

The truth is this: when we choose to follow our hearts, we are choosing our own desires above God. Click To Tweet

Am I saying you should completely ignore your heart? Nope! God gave us our hearts and the desires that go with them for a reason. He made us with free will, and we should not deny or ignore the things He puts in our hearts. God works through our hearts to accomplish His purpose (I’ll come back to this later).

God knows the desires of our hearts; whether it’s a certain job you’ve always wanted, an opportunity that seems to good to pass up, or even a lifestyle choice such as marriage. He knows. God doesn’t think our desires are petty or insignificant. He takes each one of our desires seriously. In Psalm 37, He even gives us this promise:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.

God does not want us to be joy-less all our lives. He wants to fill our desires. But there’s a catch.

Yes, God loves us and wants us to be filled with His joy (notice I didn’t say “He wants us to be happy”?). But first, we must delight ourselves in Him. That means that He is first, and we do His will and are obedient to Him first. Then, and only then, will He give us the desires we have. In Matthew 6:32 & 33, He gives us this promise:

For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

The reality is that as we focus on God and seek His will, our desires will start to align with His. There will be desires that you thought were very real; yet when you start to focus on what God wants for you rather than what you want, you find that those things weren’t as important as you thought or they weren’t real desires.

On the other hand, desires you didn’t know you had will come to light and plant themselves deep in your soul. You may become passionate about things you didn’t know you cared about, and God will start to do amazing things through you.

When we start to seek the will of God rather than our longing, we become closer to Him and our whole life becomes re-prioritized. God changes our hearts and works in us to complete His will and fulfill us.

We will never be truly satisfied until we refocus on Christ. Click To Tweet

God may also ask for us to give Him a desire of ours. And it may totally suck. Sometimes, He takes that longing and says, “My child, you think you want this. But I know that it will not truly fulfill you, and I have something much better planned. Will you trust Me?” Other times, He asks for it only for a time and gives it back later. He asks us to trust Him. And in return…He gives us the desires of our hearts.

Other posts from the Heart of Gold series:

  1. Is Following Your Heart a Good Idea? (you’re reading it now!)
  2. Guarding Your Heart in Every Area of Life

I’d love to hear from you!

What are some of the desires of your heart?

How are you giving that desire to God?

Continue Reading