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Killing Comparison

Killing Comparison

I leaped out of bed when the alarm signaled it was time to wake up and hit the pavement. Ten minutes later, I was outside pressing “start running” on my fitness app and putting in my earbuds to listen to a worship music playlist. I was excited to run because the cool, crisp mornings between winter and spring are my favorite time of year. Although the April sky was still dark, threads of orange and purple streaked across it as the sun rose. My heart was light and joyful despite the unsettling times we had all been recently thrust into as the pandemic brought the world to a screeching halt.

Around mile four I began a conversation with God. I thanked him for my life, family, work, ministry, friendships, and the gift of healthy lungs that allow me to run. I prayed for wisdom to carry me and my team through an unknown future—one that required helping churches around the world figure out how to operate without gathering in a building. As the head of global faith partnerships at Facebook, I had received more calls, texts, emails, and direct messages from pastors and church leaders during the first weeks of COVID-19 than I had in the three years prior.

As I reached mile six, a favorite song came on, and I did a run-dance on the sidewalk as drivers-by looked at me in confusion. I punched the air and clapped with the beat while singing, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart! Trust in the Lord with all your mind! Trust in the Lord with all your strength! Lean not on your own understanding!” The upbeat tempo always got me pumped, but I had no idea that an hour later my trust in the Lord would be put to the test.

I made it home just in time to give my seven- and ten-year-old sons sweaty hugs and my husband a sweaty kiss before they left for the day. Then I started my post-run routine of showering, stretching, making a pot of tea, and having some quiet time with the Lord. I was looking forward to my Bible study time because the cancelation of many of my speaking engagements allowed me to study for the fun of it without the pressure of preparing to give a message.

The Holy Spirit had led me to take an interest in the life of Jonathan, King Saul’s son. A lot was written about his father, and even more was written about his best friend, David, but I had never looked closely at Jonathan. I started reading in 1 Samuel 14, which tells the story of how Jonathan waged an attack on a Philistine outpost with only his young armor-bearer by his side. As Jonathan made his way to Mikmash to fight two dozen Philistines by himself, his father, the king, rested comfortably under a pomegranate tree in Gibeah with six hundred soldiers. The juxtaposition of the two scenes was striking.

When Jonathan and his young armor-bearer reached the outpost, they saw that the Philistines were positioned on a cliff. This put Jonathan and his armor-bearer at a strategic disadvantage because it robbed them of the element of surprise. The climb to the Philistines’ position would also use precious energy they needed for the battle. Nevertheless, Jonathan turned to his armor-bearer and said, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6).

I repeated that last line to myself: “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” Something about it resonated. When the Lord is for us, we can be outnumbered but are never unprotected.

I read a couple more chapters and then decided it was time to start my day. I quickly checked my Facebook page to respond to comments and messages and then did the same on Instagram. Although I normally go straight to my Instagram notifications, that day I caught a glimpse of my newsfeed first. And that’s when the downward emotional spiral started.

Friend 1: Hey, friends! I’m so excited to announce that I’m joining the speaker lineup for Susie Sacred’s Full Blossom Conference. Visit the link in my bio to register, and meet me online next month with an incredible roster of speakers!

Friend 2: I’m beyond ecstatic to share that I’ll be speaking at the Full Blossom Conference next month with Susie Sacred and an amazing roster of the best speakers across every sector. Will you be there? Comment below to let me know!

Friend 3: Next month is going to be epic! Join me and other amazing speakers at the Full Blossom Conference with Susie Sacred online next month. I have a message for you. Tag a friend and register at fullblossom.com!

After scrolling for what felt like an eternity, I counted no fewer than eight friends posting the exciting news that they were joining an amazing roster of speakers for a major women’s conference that was going virtual because of the pandemic. Since I don’t follow many people on social media, it seemed like the only thing in my newsfeed was an avalanche of exciting announcements about speaking at the Full Blossom Conference.

“Why wasn’t I invited to speak?” I asked aloud. “It’s like Susie asked everyone we mutually know except me.”

With each new post, I felt what can only be described as the stab of an emotional ice pick to the heart. My mind was clouded with hurt, so I stopped scrolling, closed Instagram, and looked out my living room window into a beautiful day. The skies were blue and filled with fluffy white clouds. Birds bounded from limb to limb on the tree just outside my window. But the beauty outside couldn’t overcome the ugliness churning inside me.

I was scheduled to join a video conference, but I was so distracted by confusion and pain that I went to the kitchen to make another pot of tea. As I stirred the honey into my teacup and watched the golden sweetness dissolve into the hot water, I was flooded with “why” questions.

Why was I left out?

Why was I not considered?

Why was I overlooked?

Why was I not worthy of an invitation?

An old, familiar hurt resurfaced inside—the hurt of being unwanted.

I’ve had a full speaking schedule for years, despite never once advertising myself as a speaker or asking to speak at events. And I receive more speaking invitations for business and church conferences than I can accept. I’ve been invited to speak on multiple continents and keynoted major conferences across the United States and abroad. Yet, somehow, not being invited to speak at this conference bothered me.

I’d heard of Full Blossom before and had never desired to speak at it, but after I saw many of the people in my ministry circle invited to speak there, my exclusion catalyzed a self-worth inquisition. Comparison makes what never mattered before the thing that matters most.

As I sat down at my desk and opened my laptop, I felt a magnetic pull back to Instagram. I had back-to-back video conferences every thirty minutes for the next seven hours, so I set my phone down and logged on for the first meeting. Within ten minutes, I had discreetly unlocked my phone, opened Instagram, and continued the scroll. An irresistible and poisonous thread tugged on my heart and distracted me from work.

I went to Susie’s profile and saw post after post of her gushing about each speaker: how incredible they were and how perfect the conference would be because of them. My chest tightened, and a lump grew in my throat as I watched a video of her enthusiastically naming several of my friends as speakers. Although she spoke about them, my heart heard her speaking to me: Nona, I know who you are. I’ve seen what you do. And you’re not good enough. You’re not what I’m looking for. You’re just average.

I had not only constructed the full-blown, play-by-play narrative for why Susie hadn’t invited me but also decided I needed to unfollow everyone she had invited to speak. My heart felt like it would shatter if I saw one more friend’s post about the awesome conference I wasn’t invited to speak at. I didn’t want to wade through endless reminders that they were speaking at the conference and I wasn’t.

“Why did she pick everyone around me but not me?” I asked aloud again. The more I thought about it, the more my hurt turned to anger. But in my anger, I heard the Holy Spirit ask a different question: “Why does it matter?”

“Why does it matter?” I responded incredulously. “Because everyone who’s anyone will be speaking there. And I’m not. This will be the largest online women’s ministry gathering of the year, and I will be absent.”

“So you think you matter only because of the speaking invitations you receive?” the Holy Spirit asked.

“No,” I said. “I know I matter to you. I just . . . I just . . .” I stammered as the weight of the truth settled on me.

“Go ahead,” the Holy Spirit prompted, “say it.”

“I just want to matter to them too,” I whispered, tears forming in the corners of my eyes.

“I know, Nona. You want to matter to them because you’re insecure,” the Holy Spirit said matter-of-factly.

“Insecure?” I responded with disbelief. “I’m not insecure! Far from it. I know who I am in you. I preach about it regularly. Besides, I have everything I could ever want and more than I could ever have imagined. I’m definitely not insecure!”

With love and conviction, the Holy Spirit said, “Nona, you think people are insecure if they don’t like how they look or don’t like what they have or don’t like what they do. Those are expressions of insecurity, but they’re not the root of insecurity. The root of insecurity is when your identity is built on an insecure foundation.”

As I considered what the Holy Spirit said, I felt defensive. “My identity is secured to you, Lord. I know what the Word says about who I am, and I believe it. How can you say I’m insecure?”

“Yes, you know what my Word says, and you also believe it,” affirmed the Holy Spirit. “But knowledge and belief are not the same as faith. As long as you know my Word in your head and believe it in your heart but don’t practice it daily, your identity will continue to be secured to the affirmation of others. You have built your identity on people’s approval. People show their approval with likes on social media, but I demonstrated my approval through love on the cross. I approved of you before you were formed in your mother’s womb. And my approval is unchanging.”

The truth in these words hit me like a Mack truck. So much of my life had been spent trying to win people’s approval, and maybe yours has too:

That time in high school when you were one of the “it” girls and got invited to all the best parties and hangouts—until you were no longer invited. A wealthy new girl started attending the school and your friends decided there wasn’t enough room in the clique for both of you, so they kicked you out to make room for her.

Those months when your calendar was filled with business travel and making deals on multiple continents while wining and dining with the powerful—until, without explanation, your calls started going to voicemail and your emails went unreturned. A new company emerged on the scene, and everyone wanted to do deals with them instead.

Those years when you were your pastor’s favorite Sunday school teacher and he placed you in charge of the entire Sunday school department—until he decided your style was outdated and brought in a skinny-jeans-wearing kid with a mohawk and a TikTok following to “get things back on track.”

The approval of others is never permanent, and it often depends on variables that are beyond our control. People use things such as height, weight, wealth, popularity, theology, position, or political affiliation as “approval filters” to determine whether we’re good enough for them. Yet God approved of us before there was anything to approve of. God created us on purpose, with purpose.

The Holy Spirit said, “Nona, the reason you’re hurt by not being invited to speak at that conference is because you measure your worth based on how much people approve of you compared to others. When you aren’t secured to the stable foundation of who I say you are, you drift with the shifting currents of others’ opinions about you. When you drift from me, you have to secure your identity to people’s opinions to stay afloat. Your insecurity didn’t start this morning. You’ve been insecure most of your life.”

I sat in silence with my eyes closed, reflecting on what the Holy Spirit had said. Before I knew it, my eyes were brimming with tears. The Holy Spirit was right—as always.

Somewhere along the line, I had surrendered my purpose for performative applause. God had valued me before I even had the ability to perform my way into his love. Though God determined I was worth dying for at my worst (Romans 5:8), I made the mistake of conflating my eternal, intrinsic value with likes, follows, shares, and speaking invitations. And the craziest part of it all is that no one knew. Not even me. It happened subtly, over time.

With every larger platform I stepped onto, my heart had slowly detached from the secure foundation of God’s approval and attached itself to the insecure foundation of other people’s approval, creating insecurity.

“Lord, you’re right,” I said. “You say in your Word that people honor you with their lips but their hearts are far from you. I now understand what you mean. I have honored you with my lips, but I’m not honoring you with my life. Lord, I need your help. Please deliver me from insecurity.”

“Nona, what you’re asking will require more than you expect, but if you trust me and obey me, I will help you get to freedom. You must no longer look to others for approval; you must look only to me.”

“Lord, I’m ready,” I said.

“No, you’re not. But that’s what my grace is for.”

Just as Jonathan was outnumbered against the Philistines, we can feel overwhelmed by seeming to never measure up. But the same divine grace that enabled his victory is the same grace that enables our victory over insecurity too.

Taken from KILLING COMPARISON by Nona Jones. Copyright © September 27, 2022 by Nona Jones. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

Nona Jones is a rare combination of preacher, business executive, author, and entrepreneur. In her day job she serves as the Director of North America Community Partnerships andGlobalFaithPartnerships atMeta, the company formerly known as Facebook. She is the best selling author of two books; Success from the Inside Out, chronicling her unlikely story of success after a childhood filled with physical and sexual abuse, andFrom Social Media to Social Ministry, the globally acclaimed guide to digital discipleship for churches.

She and her husband,Pastor Tim, lead Open Door Church in Gainesville, FL and are the proud parents of two boys, Timothy, Jr. and Isaac, and one girl, Golden doodle Shiloh.

Changing Our Habits

Changing Our Habits

Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden Eden to work it and keep it.” From the very beginning we were told to take care of and work on the things God gives to us. God gives us this life. He has given us the responsibility to work on ourselves – not to just throw life away, but to keep up with the tending to our soul. If you are the most valued creation of God, don’t you think He wants you to take care of yourself? Not for your glory, but for His. It glorifies Him when we take care of ourselves. We should stand out as followers of Christ. Your life should model the life of Jesus. You should have discipline to take care of yourself, to have habits that glorify God and honor Him, because everything we do should point people to Jesus. From our small habits to the big ones, we are to honor God and show people who God is to us. To show people that He is so important to us that He would invalid even our habits.  

I believe we are too fearful to change our habits because we like the comfort more. We get in routines of these habits and it feels safe and secure, it’s what we know even if it’s not what you want to default to. We prioritize comfort over change. Changing a habit means we must replace, forgo, and adjust our response. We can’t just change a habit without it changing the way we live. We have romanticized and normalized change in a way that we don’t give it the credit for what it requires of us. Creating and sticking with healthy and holy habits seems like a goal we could never reach. I believe it’s not that we are unable to achieve these goals, but we have become too lazy to try. Our lives feel comfortable and although we want change, we don’t want to put in the work that would bring real change. We rather settle for a mediocre unhealthy life than to live a life worth living. We don’t just need to change our habits, we need to change our hearts. We need to take our thoughts captive and control our emotions. We cannot change the surface without changing the root, but where do we start? 

If we know our identity is rooted in Jesus, what should that say about our habits? This is where the lies of the enemy really impact the way we live, because if we believe that we don’t deserve the identity Jesus has given us in Him, we will continue to cater to the habits that lead us into sin and brokenness. You might hear that and think your habit isn’t connected with sin and brokenness; you just have a hard time stopping yourself from overeating. If it’s hard for us to break a habit, it’s because we don’t believe we are capable of being a person who doesn’t do that habit. Your identity supports your habits. Think about someone who has watched porn for years – they can’t remember their life without it, how could they cut it out of their life now? It’s a part of their life, it’s a part of their identity. If we really believe that our identity is rooted in Jesus, our habits should align with that truth. If we believe we are free from the bondage of sin because of what Jesus did on the cross, we are able to walk away from the chains holding us back. We become so attached to the identity we have rooted in our bad habits that stepping into the identity Jesus gives us is frightening. If we are going to be children of God and walk in freedom, we must believe that freedom is for us, and we must find the one who we are going to strive to be like. When you decide who you want to be like, you start to embody the qualities and lifestyle that person has.

If our habits and identity are as deeply rooted as we believe it to be, we need our habits to support and strengthen our identity. Your habit of getting drunk isn’t supporting your identity in Christ. Your habit of over-eating is feeding your identity that you don’t have self-control. Your habit of laziness tells your identity that you are not disciplined. Your habit of running back to boys that are destructive tells your identity that you are not worthy of genuine love. Your habits are important, they tell you who you are, and they shape what we believe about ourselves. It’s important for your spirituality to create healthy habits that allows space for God to be heard in our lives. Scripture challenges us to create healthy habits and calls us to act in a way that Christ does. 1 peter: 5-9 says, “prepare your minds in action, being sober minded, you also be holy in all your conduct you shall be holy because I am holy. Having purified your souls by obedience to the truth, a pure heart. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.” This verse speaks to our habits if you look into what peter is saying. God has given us everything we need to live a godly life through building our knowledge of Him. Building healthy habits creates space and removes the things that distract us from growing in this knowledge. We must make every effort to add to our faith goodness, and goodness knowledge. What this says to me is that I must make the effort to support my faith by having discipline. I can’t get to where I want to be if I don’t have. I believe the enemy has this lie on our culture that says our habits are not important because they aren’t eternal. OUR HABITS SHAPE WHO WE ARE! I don’t want to live in a lie, I don’t want to live in my past life of sins and brokenness that tells me I don’t have control over my habits, and I’ll never be able to escape them. I want to live in the truth that I have everything I need to live a Godly life because of Jesus. 

Freddie is a recent grad from Auburn University with her masters in clinical mental health counseling and is on staff with LO as a counselor. She loves long walks, spending time with friends and family, and helping people find their confidence in who God made them to be!Follow Freddie on Instagram: @yourfriend_Freddie 

Preparing More for Your Marriage Than Your Wedding

Preparing More for Your Marriage Than Your Wedding

For 9 months my fiancè and I planned one day, the day came and went. People told me leading up:

“you’ll be sad when it’s over”

“you won’t know what to do with yourself when you’re wedding is over” 

“it goes by so fast, you’ll miss it” 

But none of that was my experience…I was so passionate about using our engagement season to continue to bring us to the feet of Jesus humbly and have Him prepare us to become one. That can be really difficult because of all the questions coming your way all the time. I understand, you are the only one who knows every detail about your wedding day. I know that can be overwhelming, but try your best to find your purpose in the season and keep that at the front of your mind.

Our purpose leading up to our day was:

“we are preparing more for our marriage than our wedding” 

The Lord has developed this huge heart of passion in me to share with you how easy it is to get sucked into wedding planning and forgetting about the reason you’re getting married. That is why I am here, I am excited to share with you ways to soak in your engagement season and plan your dream day intentionally.

My first piece of advice is; Don’t do it because others did it, do it because you WANT to.

There was a friend of mine who was about to order a 3-tier cake that was more money than she wanted to pay. I asked her if she was excited for it and she explained, “I am only doing it because I feel like it’s the ‘wedding’ thing to do.”

I stopped her in that moment and encouraged her that it is THEIR day, and if you two don’t want to do it, then they shouldn’t.

Details of the day are so beautiful, but when you and your fiancè’s hearts are the driving force behind your decisions, it will make your day so special.

*fun tip*

Make it a date night for you and your fiancè to try a bunch of different deserts and pick your favorite for your wedding day.

It doesn’t have to be a cake! It can be a big cookie, cheese cake, cupcake, donuts  ANYTHING!!

My second piece of advice would be to Remember Your Mission. 

A marriage is two people who are on a mission coming together as one.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (Mark 10:7-8)

It is SO easy to get consumed during your engagement season with wedding planning, but this season is so beautiful to begin to align your mission. I really believe that your single season is so important to understand your mission and who you’re living for. When you get engaged it’s your opportunity to share with your person how you’re going to go forward into marriage with your like-minded mission at hand.

Join groups, serve together, be on mission.

It is easy to fall into wedding planning every time you are together, but prioritize your quality time as preparation time. The decorations, venues, dresses, and colors will all come together but bigger doesn’t mean better if it means sacrificing time to build your relationship.

*Preparation Tip* Grab an empty Journal, Polaroid, and a pen. Take time as a couple and write down christian married couples you look up to, reach out to those couples and ask to get dinner/coffee with them. When you are with them, ask them for their best piece of marriage advice, have them write it down, take their picture and add it to their page.

Then you have a book to look back on full of advice from those you look up to!

My last reminder for you to hold tight to is that The finish line isn’t the wedding ending, it’s the starting line of your lives together.

The reality is, you wake up the day after your wedding looking at what’s important.

It’s not the cake, flowers, dresses, or table decorations.

It’s that for your whole life, God was preparing you to wake up to someone who is deciding to spend their whole life loving you.

The truth is, the devil hates marriage. He is going to do his best to distract you from preparing for your marriage. He is going to fixate your eyes on the things of the world.

Keep your eyes fixated on the beautiful celebration that is your upcoming marriage.

Congratulations friend!!

My DMs are always open!!!

Emma Gilmer is an LO Ambassador from Minnesota who is passionate about helping women find freedom from sins that tie them down. She is newly married and loves sharing her life on Instagram and TikTok!

Keep up with Emma on Instagram @emm.gilmer

Kingdom Keys

Kingdom Keys

There was a large group of people in the corner of a car dealership. Normally when you see a crowd you know something really interesting is going down. Naturally, I had to go check it out.

After a few minutes of observation, it was clear that ten people had car keys in their hand. Supposedly these ten were selected from a raffle drawing. One person had keys that would start the brand-new white SUV that everyone was surrounding. 

The crowd watched as one person after the other sat down inside the push-to-start car to see if their key would start it up. The suspense was real. We were down to the eighth person. They sat in the seat and the car didn’t start.

Now on to the ninth. The math was pretty simple. If it didn’t start for this person, we knew the winner would be the tenth. 

The ninth person hopped in the driver’s seat. The car didn’t start. The tenth person celebrated. The camera crew started asking her about her job and how she would use the car she just won.

Just for good measure and a fun photo op, she sat in what she thought was her brand-new car. She went to start the car up and nothing happened.

The “winner’s” keys didn’t work. The crowd was shocked. A few whispers that were easy to overhear said, “What in the world is going on? All ten people went. How did this happen? Who won?”

The other nine had a glimpse of hope again. Who would it be?

We watched five people all hop in and hop out when it was confirmed that it wasn’t their new rig. The sixth person got in to find out that he was the winner. His daughter and wife started crying tears of joy and jumped up and down in a group hug. Apparently, he had forgotten to press the break as he pushed the start button the first time.

I can only imagine the shock, joy, and excitement he was experiencing after already counting the opportunity as a lose.  I can also only imagine the disappointment that the lady was experiencing after thinking the car was hers.

This got me thinking: What if we lived like we had the key to an everlasting Kingdom that God created for us?

As we get to know God, we learn that we hold the key to the Kingdom through our confession that Jesus is the Son of God. (Matthew 16:16-19) Isn’t that worth bouncing around with joy and excitement?

This key is unlike any other. We didn’t get selected because we bought a raffle ticket. It is not limited to one individual like that of this story. It was made possible because of the One who came to live on this Earth and die for every single one of us – Jesus, the Son of God.

Talk about the ultimate unexpected gift. He already paid the price for us. God cares about you so much that He cultivated a way for us to spend eternal life with Him. Can we take a minute or two to jump up and down and celebrate that today?

This key can be shared and given to those that we encounter in our everyday. Are you up for a challenge?

Friend, you hold the key that comes with the Good News. You’re positioned exactly where you’re supposed to be to “duplicate” and share this key.

Here’s a verse that sheds some light on what God calls us to in our everyday: “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you–from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 MSG 

Your assignment is important. It is literally life-changing. Guess what? You don’t have to do this work alone.

God invites us to partner with Him in our everyday: “Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” Ephesians 2:7-10 MSG

Lean into where you are today. Focus on sharing your “key” with one person. Seek Jesus and ask Him to give you opportunities in your day to shine your light. Be present and alert because He is with you in this important role you get to partner with Him on daily. Smile and celebrate.

You have the key to the Kingdom that is everlasting with the One who delights in you, friend! 

Hope Reagan Harris is a wife, dog mom, encourager, iced vanilla latte drinker, first-time author, and most importantly a Jesus seeker. If you were having a coffee chat with her today, she would want you to leave believing that you are seen, known, and loved more than you could ever imagine by Jesus. Become sister friends with her today @hopereaganharris on Instagram!

Tackling the DMs

Tackling the DMs

What’s up, fam! I’m so excited to share this Whoa That’s Good episode with you featuring my favorite person! Christian and I got to sit down to answer your DMs a couple weeks ago and I just HAD to share it on the blog! Here are a few of our best pieces of advice for some of the questions that you guys asked. Let’s dive in!

  1. “My boyfriend and I have been dating for several years. We’ve done devotionals together and several Bible studies, but he’s decided he no longer wants to do those things. We still go to church together. How do I navigate this situation without seeming controlling since I want to go deeper with my relationship with Christ?”

Christian kicked off his response by reminding us that anyone can pretend to be someone for the first six months. Whether it’s going to church or actually a personality thing, once you filter through that and reach an extended period of time, it’s possible that a person’s true colors will show and reveal that they might have been faking it all along. A lot of people say, “He was so great at the beginning. If we could just get back to that point we’d be good.” Unfortunately, who he acts like now is probably who he really is and he was just faking who he wanted to present himself as in the beginning. This could also be the same circumstances with a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend.

The truth is, anyone can go to church. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a Christian. I think in a relationship, you want Christ to be your 24/7. I want Christ to be that in my relationship with Christian. Jesus shouldn’t just be something you bond over on Sundays. He should be a point of conversation in our everyday because He is the number one person in both of our lives. That’s when your relationship is truly centered on God, and not just an afterthought.

  1. “What is the best advice you could give for a newly engaged couple?”

I think the best advice, especially in the engagement season, is just to know that you are not preparing just for a wedding – you’re preparing for a marriage. I’m so glad Christian and I received that advice and lived that way throughout our engagement season. It allowed me to not really stress about the details of the wedding because that wasn’t where I was placing value during that season. Value was placed on what our marriage would be like. This was shown through marriage counseling and asking all the questions of “how were you raised?”, “what are our expectations?”, etc.

So, I put so much of my thought process into preparing for our actual marriage and not just a wedding. Does that mean that everything went perfectly on our wedding day? HA, no. My hair literally turned pink the day before. But it was still awesome! And we felt so ready for marriage because we used our engagement season to prepare. Your wedding is one day, but you’re married for the rest of your life.

  1. “Is it okay to spend time with the opposite gender when you’re in a relationship?”

So, for instance, would it be acceptable for Christian to spend time alone with another woman if he and I were dating? Christian and I have always had a boundary of never spending time alone with the opposite gender, even to this day. Or if someone of the opposite gender DMs me, I’ll likely bring it up to Christian in casual conversation. Of course, not necessarily if it’s a super close friend or something of that sort. You know, you look at people and think, “They’ll never cheat.” And that’s not always the case. It’s not that people necessarily set out with the intention to hurt the other person, but one thing can lead to another. So, we set pretty strict boundaries because we don’t want the door to ever be open to that.

I heard somewhere that Billy Graham wouldn’t even get on an elevator if there was just a woman on it. Strict boundaries can be set without being crazy and controlling or jealous and envious. I was in a relationship previously where we didn’t trust each other at all. But with Christian, I fully trust him and he fully trusts me. It’s not that we think we would do anything. We just don’t want to put ourselves in a position where we would have to make a tough decision or make a moment awkward that doesn’t have to be. There’s so much room for the enemy to feed when you’re alone with the opposite gender, especially when you’re in a relationship.

  1. “What would you tell your younger self who felt like they were never going to find the right one for them?”

I would tell my younger self to chill. I was so obsessed with who was going to be my future husband, which is fun to think about. But thinking about it from the context of if God has created someone to be my husband, he will come at the perfect timing. And Christian did. But I wish I had enjoyed my seasons beforehand more than I did. I wish I’d focused more on where I was at in the moment rather than everything that would come. Christian chimed in by mentioning that he was a big rom-com fan growing up. So, he always pictured his story would play out a certain way and never really stressed too much about it. He said we really are living out the rom-com he always pictured!

  1. “How do you respectfully co-exist with people in your life who believe differently with you?”

I had to get out my phone for this one because I was rereading my journal I started last year on my birthday and finished on my birthday this year. It’s basically a compilation of things that I experienced, prayed for, etc. Last year I wrote this in my journal and I thought this was really reflective of many of my prayers last year. This is what it said:

“I feel like I’m sitting about watching the world lose their mind. The hard thing is knowing how can I help. Proverbs 14:12 is so present in our generation right now. ‘There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end, it leads to death.’ The seriousness of this makes me want to speak out, but I know the culture will cancel me the minute that I do. It’s hard to navigate.”

I watched this video of this girl from North Korea who said that she knew speaking the truth was a risk, but not speaking it was even worse. So, then I went on to say, “If I don’t speak the truth, who am I really helping? If I do, am I causing too much harm that limits me helping. God, I’m genuinely asking. It feels like a wrestle, and I don’t know if I’m just comforting myself in my excuses or using wisdom. God, I know Jesus reclined with the sinners and how did He speak truth and yet keep the sinners at the table?”

I wrote that and I remember praying that prayer so much last year. This prayer of “I want to help, but if this helping is hurting then I won’t help.” Then I remembered that Jesus was fully love and fully truth. And I just asked “How it was possible to sit at the table with people who think so differently than me and they stay at the table because they know that I love them and genuinely care about them?” Then I thought about it. Jesus spoke truth into people’s lives while also loving them well, and not everyone DID stay at the table. Not everyone did believe He was the Son of God or even liked Him. So, the risk of standing on the Word of God is that some people will think you’re crazy and that’s just a part of it. He even said that if the world hates us, just remember that it hated Him first.

But just to answer this question in one sentence, be as much like Jesus as you possibly can be. That doesn’t mean shy away from the truth. Jesus is the truth. But while Jesus was fully truth, He was fully love. So, show people love, truth, and grace all at the same time. I think when you come in to a situation and you’re there to love instead of judge, it creates space for co-existing. It’s okay to co-exist without conforming to the pattern of the world. You can stand on the Word of God fully and still love people well.

  1. “How do I start my own ministry?”

My best advice is that if you want to do ministry, then do ministry where you’re at. Ministry is loving God and people well. If you can’t do that in your community with your people, I hate to say it, but you’ll never be able to do that on a huge platform. Having a platform and doing ministry is a huge blessing to reach so many people, but it is not for the faint of heart. It is definitely hard and there are so many aspects of it that you don’t see. That’s why I would say to not just wish for a platform to do ministry. Do ministry well where you’re at. Essentially, we should all be doing ministry. If you are a believer, you should consider yourself a minister of the Gospel because that’s what we’re called to do. God’s not going to ask you to do something that’s outside of your capability or ability to do. If He’s calling you to ministry, then He’s already equipped you to do that ministry. Look in your hands and see what you have. How can you serve in your church? How can you serve in your community?

I think so many of us want to have our own ministry and one of the reasons I decided to give Live Original the name it has is because I didn’t want it to be about Sadie. I wanted it to be bigger than me and I’m thankful to say that I’m trying to build something that will really outlive me. So, my prayer is that when I die, this message will still be going and people won’t be talking about Sadie, they’ll be talking about the message of the Gospel. I think when you’re trying to build a platform, you try to build it for yourself. But when you build the Kingdom, it’s actually not about you, it’s about the world around you. Ask yourself how he has called and equipped you. Christian reminded us to start with our family, friends, and the people we work with. It all starts with having conversations about faith and asking people how they’re really doing.

  1. “How do you balance dressing cute and staying modest?”

We’re certainly in a culture right now where it’s the norm to show more skin. I remember in high school it seemed like the guys only noticed the girls who showed more. And I would think, “No guy will ever notice me if I cover up all the time.” But the right guy and right people will actually treasure you for the modesty that you have. Christian’s actually probably stricter than I am with what I wear because he has so much respect for me. And I’m truly so appreciative of that. I think modesty ultimately boils down to respect for yourself and for other people.

Personally, when I workout, I can usually wear whatever I want, since I go to an all-girls gym. But if I go to a different gym, I’m cautious about what I wear because I want to respect the guys around me and I want to respect myself. God made you beautifully and wonderfully and gave you a body to steward well. You were made more than enough. So, you don’t have to go flaunt your body to be more than enough.

  1. “How do you get over a person who made you believe they liked you, then they ghosted you? Would it be wise to wait on them or move on?”

Christian said it plain and simple: “Move on girl.”

But really though, it goes back to respect. You’re worth more than someone just ghosting you. They better have a pretty dang good reason when they get back from their little ghosthood. Christian said that most “ghostings” he’s seen have just been manipulation. It’s different if there’s a logical reason for it, such as someone’s phone breaking. But Christian said he feels like a lot of time it’s linked with manipulation and a need to keep you on the hook type of thing.

I mean, let’s be honest. If we’re actually trying to figure out who the one is for us, what’s the point in playing games? Just respect yourself enough to not wait around for this guy or girl to come back around every so many months. I remember when a friend of mine walked through this. A certain guy would text her every three weeks or so, and she would just hang on to that. She’d talk about it and read into it so much. One time when he ghosted her, we looked at Instagram and saw that he was ENGAGED. Like what?! She was so crushed because she was always hanging on to that next text. You don’t want to get in a position where someone is just stringing you along as if you’re a plan b. Someone will come along and treasure you so much that they’ll respond in a timely manner because they care about you. Christian did such a great job of that when he pursued me. There was never the question of whether or not I’d hear from him. Wait for that person, sis!

Wow, these were all great questions! I hope that these questions don’t just stay between me, you, and Christian. I hope they extend to conversations with your family, friends, significant other, or whoever it may be for you. Just to throw this out there, if something we said doesn’t align with what you believe is true, throw it out the window. But if it aligns with the Word of God, I hope that you know you can apply some of this truth to your life. Have the BEST day, friend!

How to Survive Heartbreak

How to Survive Heartbreak

Last week, I had the privilege of sitting down with Mattie Jackson Selecman on the WTG podcast and I could not be more excited to share that conversation with you today! As many of you might know, Mattie is the daughter of Alan Jackson. She wrote the book “Lemons on Friday” and it is an incredible story of the way God has moved in her life. A few questions the book answers are “how did I get here?”, “will this always hurt?”, “who am I now?” and “how do I move forward?” and some of you may be asking similar questions in your life right now. So, let’s dive into the conversation with Mattie. I truly believe it’s going to meet you where you’re at.

We kicked off this episode with the question of the podcast: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? Mattie said, the piece of advice that has stuck with her most through the years came to her when she graduated college. She studied creative writing at the University of Tennessee and had always wanted to be a writer. Her dad wrote songs and her mom was an author herself. So, naturally, Mattie gravitated toward writing. Once she graduated, her dad said to her, “Sugar, I think you have this gift, but you need to live your life and you’ll end up writing about your life itself.” At that point, she didn’t understand what he meant. She also felt like all the jobs she had been working in her twenties were just wasting her time. “Lemons on Friday” is not the story Mattie hoped to be her first to write about. But she remembers thinking back on her dad’s advice and how he was right. There’s so much in his advice that anyone can learn from, especially people early in life or transitioning into a new season.

Mattie is such a goal oriented and to-do list person, and the advice that her dad offered gave her permission to not know exactly what lies ahead. It encouraged her to follow the way God was leading her heart and work hard where she is knowing that God will weave the pieces together. She realized that not having a plan is sometimes okay.

I love that mentality. So many people have the mindset of believing God will eventually do something, so they sit back and don’t do anything in the waiting process. But we need to get up and work while we wait. Because normally it’s what you’re working on while you wait that’s preparing you for what’s to come. That’s exactly what was happening in Mattie’s story. It’s really cool to note that Mattie was passionate about and extremely gifted in writing. A lot of people end up having these crazy experiences they end up writing about in a book, and the writing might not be just amazing, but it’s a great story. But Mattie’s is unique because her story is very powerful and her writing is incredibly powerful. That’s why I think this book is a great read.

With that being said, I asked Mattie a bit about her life and the journey to where she’s at now. She began by mentioning that she grew up in Nashville in the country music environment, as her dad was heavily involved in it. Looking back at how her dad managed his career put a little seed in Mattie’s heart that she wanted to do something different. She always had a dream of being creative, which doesn’t always offer a ton of job opportunities after college. Even though she had a writing degree, she still needed a job that would pay the bills. So, at 22 years old, she started working in restaurants. Well, by way of that experience, she got a lot of exposure to wine and fell in love with it. Her parents didn’t really drink wine growing up, but Mattie loved that the world of wine wrapped up all things food, culture, and so forth. Her twenties were spent in the food and wine industry. She studied and got certifications in it, worked for an importer, and began doing all the things that she was passionate about.

As a result, she ended up moving back to Nashville and opening a restaurant there. In the process of getting her restaurant up and running, she met her husband, Ben, and fell in love quickly. They eventually got married and a couple weeks prior to their first anniversary, something tragic happened.

Mattie began to share about that time in her life and how it resulted in Mattie writing “Lemons on Friday.” The Labor Day weekend of the year following their wedding, they’d taken a trip to Florida with some friends. When getting on the boat, Ben slipped and hit his head on the concrete dock. Mattie rushed over to make sure everything was okay, but wasn’t too worried at that point. She figured at the most, he might have had a concussion. Thankfully, some EMTs were nearby and after checking him out, told Mattie to take Ben to the emergency room. Ben was in the hospital for 12 days, having multiple brain surgeries, all while being in a medically induced coma. The 12th day, Mattie received a phone call informing her that Ben’s heart was failing, and that she’d need to say her goodbye to him. This was three weeks before their first anniversary.

I’m so thankful that Mattie chose to share her story, because I know there are plenty of people who can relate. Many of you reading this now can probably relate. I asked Mattie how she got through all the “why” questions and coped with the fact that sometimes life plays out differently than how we’d like it to. She responded with some timely wisdom. She began by reminding us that although life is not guaranteed, when instances like death do occur, it’s common for us to have huge questions of faith. This is what “Lemons on Friday” is all about. Mattie said she’d never experienced a tragedy prior to Ben’s death. She had no idea how to manage grief or even what it would feel like. All she knew to do at that point was be honest about the questions she had for God. So, she wrote them down in a journal.

Her biggest question was, “How do I accept that God is good and sovereign, but He didn’t choose to intervene for me?” Mattie had to come to the realization that God didn’t cause Ben’s death to happen. He didn’t long for Mattie to suffer. But if she believed in a God who is good and sovereign, she had to accept that He allowed it.

Mattie said that after all her questions, she felt God ask her, “If I gave you all the answers, what would it change?” She realized that it wouldn’t change her circumstances. At that point, she had to choose trust over understanding.

I love how Mattie took the time to actually wrestle with God. I think so many people are a bit falsely naïve to things and don’t want to talk about the bad. But you also have to understand and acknowledge that bad things do happen, all while seeing God even in the midst of the bad.

Mattie began to dive into everything she dealt with after the funeral. The last thing Mattie wanted to do was put a scripture band-aid on something that is a gaping wound. She believes that the only way to get through tragedy and grief is to hold onto God’s promises in one hand and in the other hand be honest about how broken you are. If you look at people in scripture, they don’t sugarcoat their circumstances. We cheapen our faith when we don’t invite God in the really hard parts. He wants to be our joy. She encourages us to rest in the fact that difficult seasons strengthen our faith often more than easy seasons do. She reminds us that our doubt doesn’t necessarily undermine our faith. Often, it enriches it.

I asked Mattie to share about hers and Ben’s first anniversary. She said that one of the biggest things she learned throughout this process is that God is so personal. As she was approaching their anniversary, she was flooded with anxiety and grief. Even though she knew it would be brutal, she knew that Ben would want her to be celebrating. So, she planned a small get together with his and her family, but woke up the day of and had no desire to celebrate. As she sat at home that morning, she opened a gift from Ben which he’d planned months in advance for their anniversary. The gift was a bouquet of paper roses made of hymnal pages. Mattie was so comforted in that moment by the fact that God knew she would need Ben’s gift. She saw this as reassurance that God is in the midst of difficult moments.

This reminds me of a verse in Isaiah:

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

Most people get real flowers on their anniversary, but God in his kindness gave Mattie flowers that would last forever.

I then asked Mattie to share her thoughts on how to love people well in their heartbreak. I remember when my great grandfather died, I started avoiding my great grandmother because I didn’t know what to say or how to act. But all she wanted was for me to show up. Mattie began to share how her community comforted her during her time of grief. She reminded us that different people need different things. For her, she never wanted to be alone. She said in that time, the words didn’t even matter, just their presence. There were moments she wanted to get lost in listening to someone else’s life because that felt like a bit of normalcy. There were also moments where she just wanted to cry about Ben or tell a funny story and laugh. Her friends were very understanding of this and accommodating.

I loved this advice that Mattie gave. “Just ask.” So many times, we think we need to have all the answers. But a lot of times, asking a question is the best way to go.

Next, I was extremely excited to ask Mattie about a God dream she had during this season. Mattie said that after Ben’s death, many people would call her and tell her about a dream they’d had about Ben. The message of each dream was always that Ben was at home with the Lord. So, she began to pray and ask God for one of these dreams herself. Three months after Ben died, she woke up, threw on a flannel, and immediately wrote down the dream she’d just had. The dream was basically a trip to Heaven. In the dream, Ben was standing near a bunch of shops while talking to friends. Then Ben’s dad ran up and gave him a hug while making conversation. Once Ben saw Mattie, he ran over and brought her shopping with him. He picked out a flannel just like one he had in real life and put it on. Mattie and Ben kept walking and saw a pack of little yellow labs, just like the one they’d gotten a few months before. It’s like Ben was showing Mattie where their life together on Earth and Ben’s life in heaven were intersecting.

In the dream, Ben told Mattie, “I have to go, but you will be okay.” And as he walked away, Mattie saw lots of lashes on his back. She immediately asked him what had happened, and he responded with, “Mattie, it is the coolest story, but you already know it.” In the hospital, Mattie had seen holes all in Ben’s hands from the IVs, markings on his feet, and it looked like he had a crown of thorns on his head because he’d had staples. She remembered looking down and feeling like that was how God saw him, with every scar. He was covered by Christ. Mattie felt as if her dream was confirmation from God that what she saw was true. She realized that the only part of Ben she didn’t see in the hospital was his back. So, when he walked away in the dream, she knew that he had those scars too. It gave her permission to let him go. I love everything about Mattie’s dream. God literally gave her an image of Christ when Ben was laying in the hospital bed.

Mattie then directly encouraged the people who are currently walking through grief. She reminded us that if we ever feel like God is silent, know that He never is. She also encourages us to keep asking for what our heart needs. He wants to give us good things.

Everything was a trigger for Mattie at the beginning. If you’re experiencing grief currently, you may feel the same way. Mattie’s encouragement is to write these things down and try to figure out how to feel the sadness and let it out. With time and faith, these wounds won’t cut as deeply as they might now. When you take the time to respect how painful these things are, they will actually help in your healing. I heard a sermon recently that talked about how Jesus fully felt every emotion and still remained in relationship with the Father. This is confirmation that it’s okay to feel emotions, even if those emotions are sadness and anger. These emotions don’t make you weak, they’re actually a part of making you strong.

Mattie’s book, “Lemons on Friday” is so inspiring and I highly encourage you to give it a read!

About Sadie & Live Original

Sadie Robertson Huff is well known for her engaging smile and energetic personality, but there is a lot more to the 25-year-old star of A&E’s Duck Dynasty and runner up on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars season 19

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Sadie Robertson Huff is well known for her engaging smile and energetic personality, but there is a lot more to the 25-year-old star of A&E’s Duck Dynasty and runner up on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars season 19

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