Friday, January 26

Talking about Trust

Picture this scenario:

I'm chatting with three of my girlfriends. We are in the library in uni, but we got bored with studying, and started gisting instead. We are talking about girl stuff: clothes, make-up, shoes and.... relationships. Then one of my friends turns to me and the conversation goes like this:

Friend 1: Favoured Girl*, what kind of contraception do you use?
Me: I don't use any
Friend 2: Why not? You have to, or you would get pregnant!
Me: Don't worry I'm not going to get pregnant
Friend 1: You can't be so sure
Me: I'm sure
Friend 2: How?
Me: I'm not having sex
Friend 1: Really? But you have a boyfriend!!
Me: Yes, but we are not sleeping together yet
Friend 1: For real? How come? Doesn't he bug you?
Me: We agreed not to sleep together. And no he doesn't bug me for sex
Friend 2: How long have you been together?
Me: About 8 months
Friend 1: So you've been with him for 8 months, you haven't slept with him and he is not bugging you?
Me: That is correct
Friend 1: Aaaah, he must be getting it from elsewhere
Me: No I don't think so
Friends: What? How do you know he's not getting sex from other girls outside?
Me: Because I trust him
Friends: You trust him?!
Me: Yes, is that so strange?
Friends: Of course! You should never trust any guy
Me: I see... so you don't trust your boyfriend?
Friend 1: Not completely
Me: Aaaah

Which leads me to this touchy subject. How much should I trust someone I'm in a relationship with? Should I trust him completely? How do I know he will never hurt me? Well relationships are complicated sometimes. But I think we should believe the best of everybody that comes across our way, until they prove that they can't be trusted. It's easier said than done. We will meet people that will disappoint us, and we may feel like we need to protect ourselves from being hurt again. I think, forgiveness releases us from pain and allows us to trust again.

For me, I have been disappointed by my friends in the past. I've felt like I trusted some friends and they betrayed my trust. And I could not believe that my last boyfriend just left me without any explanations, talk about a betrayal! Still, I had to learn to trust again. Meeting a new guy, I was still a bit wary though. I thought to myslef, I don't know this guy from anywhere, what guarantee do I have that he will not let me down? But my confidence grew when I realised that I could trust God completely. See, the trust that I have is not that Mr and I are so strong that we cannot fall into temptation. It is not because I think we are above sin. It is however based on the fact that we both know that God brought us together. If God was to choose a husband for me, then I can be rest assured that God will never give me a man that will hurt me. I can trust God that if I play my part in being the wife that He wants me to be, then He will play His part in upholding my relationship. If Mr can trust God that I am the woman God gave him, then he can be safe in the knowledge that God will uphold me, and help me when I am prone to failing. He is the source of our strength. What a relief.

No relationship can be complete without trust on both sides, from both parties. No matter how much you love each other, it just won't work. When there is no trust, the devil will enjoy planting lots of doubts in your mind. You might start recollecting little things that seem to add up to a reason for doubting the other person. You always believe that he could be hiding things from you. You'll find it hard to forgive them because you won't trust them when they say "I'm sorry".You would drive yourself crazy with worries and doubts.

Trust is so essential. A guy needs to fully trust a lady before he proposes to her. A lady needs to trust that the guy who is asking her out has good motives and will not turn around and hurt her. You have to trust your boyfriend when he says he couldn't call you at 6 o'clock last night because he had to work late. You have to trust that he will not cheat on you behind your back. And most importantly, when there is a misunderstanding and you are upset, you have to trust that the other party didn't mean to hurt you, it just happened because of a breakdown in communication somewhere (That last one, I still find hard to deal with). It's not easy, but there is no other way to live at peace in a relationship. God help us.

Sunday, January 21

Some Firsts

At the moment, I'm just looking back to a lot of our "firsts". You know, like our first date, our first kiss, the first time I went to his house, the first time we both said "I love you", our first christmas together, the first time I cooked for him, and the first time he cooked for me, etc. I might talk about them in detail later, but for now, two things stick out in my mind. One is the first time we talked about setting a date for our wedding. The whole thing was a bit of a joke. It went something like this:

We had been going out for three months. One evening, I was at home reading a magazine. The TV was on, but I wasn't really paying attention to it. They were interviewing some married couples. I started paying attention when I heard some people talking about their life after marriage. One lady mentioned that she chose to get married on her husband's birthday so that he would always remember their wedding anniversary. I thought that was funny. Mr called me some time later. As we were gisting, I mentioned what I had heard on the programme. He thought it was funny too. Then he asked if it would apply to us. Perhaps we could get married on one of our birthdays? So, for a bit of fun, we checked my birthday to see if it fell on a Saturday in any of the coming years. Nope, it didn't fall on a saturday at a reasonable time. Then we checked his. His 25th birthday fell on a Saturday in 2005, three years time! We jokingly said that would be our wedding day. We prayed about it. And forgot about it for a long time. Did it happen? Time will tell.

The second thing was the first time a pastor in my church asked me about a boyfriend. It was June 2003, and I had just finished my final year exams at uni. Pastor saw me after church and was congratulating me. This time, Mr and I had been going out for nine months. The conversation went something like this:

Pastor: Congrats Favoured Girl*, I heard you've finished your degree at uni
Me: Yes sir, thank you sir
Pastor: So what's next?
Me: I'm job-hunting now sir
Pastor: That's good. How's it going?
Me: Very well sir. I've got some interviews lined up.
Pastor: Don't worry, you'll get a good job soon.
Me: Amen. Thank you sir.
Pastor: (His voice drops to a whisper) Brother nko?
Me: He's fine sir.
Pastor: (excited) Eh!! So there is a brother in the picture! Come and tell me all about him.
Me: Erm...
Pastor: What church does he attend?
Me: He goes to this church, but a different branch.
Pastor: Really? What's his name? I might know him
Me: His name is ........
Pastor: (really excited) So I even know him! His brother is one of the pastors of another branch
Me: Yes I know that sir.
Pastor: How did you meet him?
Me: Through a friend in uni, then in church.... etc
Pastor: How serious is this relationship?
Me: We are quite serious sir.
Pastor: Tell him to call me this evening! I'm going to grill him seriously.
Me: Ah!
Pastor: I have to. He cannot just come and take you away just like that
Me: (laughing) Okay sir. I'll tell him to call you.

That was really funny. I thought it was nice of him to ask though. Later that afternoon, I relayed the conversation to Mr and we pondered on how the older people in our church always wanted to know what was going on in our lives. I guess they just wanted to look after the next generation. A lot of things I know now, I learnt from my older mentors. I'm really grateful for them.

Monday, January 15

Positive Changes (2)

To write this post, I had to reach into a deeper personal level. But I felt I should share it because it is part of who I am today, and forms a part of my journey.

When I was a teenager I had self-esteem problems. I had no self-confidence and a distorted self-image. I always felt that I was 'not good enough' and will never be, so I never bothered to try. I used to compare myself with my other mates and friends, and will always measure myself far below them. I thought I wasn't pretty enough, smart enough , friendly enough, or "cool" enough to fit in. So I usually felt like an outsider, even though I had very good friends who liked me just as I was. And I gave so much concern to what people thought about me. Usually I wouldn't believe the positive things people said about me, but I would focus on negative comments I got. This dragged in my mind all the 'growing-up' years and I thought there was no way out. Sometimes I would psyche myself up, but deep down I didn't even believe myself. Even when I had boyfriends nothing changed. Guys told me I was beautiful, sweet, special etc, but it didn't work. I actually used to wonder what they saw in me or why they liked me. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I didn't like myself no matter who liked me.

This cloud hung over my outlook in life though secondary school and college until I got to uni. I met new people and started coming out of my shell a bit more. Then I realised it just wasn't normal or natural to feel this way about myself. Other people around me had good self-esteem and confidence. I wanted to feel confident and comfortable with myself too. So I started looking for a way out. I tried changing my outward appearance by shopping endlessly for new clothes, shoes, make up, jewellery etc. But the external appearance still did nothing for my internal turmoil. I started hanging out with the 'cooler' people but I gave up because I still didn't find my identity in associations. I started going out with a guy that seemed to like me, but deep down I was still uneasy. When he disappeared, part of me wondered if he just got bored with me. So, no hope of gaining my peace of mind from there.

When I started to take my christian life seriously, I sometimes wondered if I would learn to live with my current state or if God could help me out. One day I popped into my church bookshop with nothing particularly in mind to buy. Then I saw this book: "Prayers That Avail Much for Students " and bought it on a whim. When I opened it, I found some very useful prayers in it, including one for self-esteem! I was so happy to realise that it wasn't just my struggle alone, and I could talk to God about it. I started praying those prayers in the book earnestly everyday. And I also asked God to send people my way that would encourage me, lift me up and help me on my journey.

God answered my prayers. The words in that book built my spirit up gradually. Slowly but surely, I started to realise that all the negative things I had believed about myself for so long were nothing but lies from the pit of hell! I started questioning the voices in my head. Whose opinion were those negative thoughts anyway? Not my heavenly Father's. I began to renew my mind with what God's word tells me about myself, my position in Christ, how much He loves me, how precious I am to Him, and how nothing can separate me from His love. It worked! My whole outlook changed. It was like I became a new person completely. I felt like a heavy load had been taken off my shoulders, and I was now truly free to enjoy my life. Funny enough, I had heard these things before, but I was only just beginning to realise the truth in them, and apply them into my own life. My confidence and self-esteem doesn't come from anywhere else, but from knowing who I am and whose I am.

It was while I was on this journey that I met Mr. At first I wondered how such a wonderful person could like me. I even asked him once or twice, "why do you like me?". He said he saw so much potential within me that I was hiding, and he wanted to bring it out. And ever since, he has been encouraging me, and trying to bring the best out of me. I mentioned in a previous post that he makes me feel so good about myself. As I got to know him more, his own confidence soon started rubbing off on me. And the more I discovered myself and my potential, the more he encouraged me and loved me. Three months into our relationship, I had changed completely. I was such a different person that my friends and family noticed it. That's God's work for you.

Saturday, January 6

Positive Changes (1)

I mentioned in the "Getting what I want" post, about how Mr tries to bring out the best in me. I have to admit, this is not an easy process! Why? Because it sometimes involves him pointing out my faults. Funny enough it is always easier to see the faults in other people than in ourselves. When we started going out, I thought everything was fine and I was faultless. I would never see how I was wrong whenever we had an argument. But I now know that I have my faults as well. And it is the person closest to me that should point these faults out to me, and challenge me to work on them. This process is never ending though. The first time Mr pointed out one of my faults was a bit of a shock.

One day, during a conversation with Mr, he suddenly stopped and said I had just been trying to manipulate him. I was like "What? when? how?!" and demanded an immediate explanation. He said that I sometimes try to twist his arm to get what I want. By the time he finished pointing out what I had said and done on several occassions, it was clear to me that indeed I was twisting his arm. I was so surprised. I had never thought that I was capable of manipulating somebody. So I had been doing it unconsciously! I asked him how he knew. Apparently it's something that we ladies do a lot. He explained to me that he was used to getting those emotional blackmail stuff from his aunts and friends so he had learnt to recognise and ignore it. And he told me that if I wanted something, I should just come out and say it directly, instead of twisting it and then later blaming him for not getting the hint.
(((He mentioned one occassion, when I wanted to get my hair done but I was broke. Instead of asking him directly to help me out, I had been giving him some attitude throughout that day. When he asked me what was wrong, I said "Nothing is wrong, I'm fine". Then I started sulking. Then I became angry. He had suspected that I wanted something from him, but since I was not being straightforward he wasn't going fall for my tricks. He would wait for me to come out and say it. Well, eventually I did and he helped me out))).
That was a real eye-opener for me. I realised that I did have some faults in me then. That hurt my pride a bit though. It can be really hard to take criticism from someone, even if they mean well or they are only trying to help.
I also realised that I didn't want a man that I could manipulate after all. I won't respect my man if I could control him under my thumb. I want a real man, someone who has a mind of his own. True, we may not always agree, but that means I usually get to see things from another perspective. So I told him to always point it out to me if I was beginning to manipulate him again. And since then I have been able to recognise it and stop myself.
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