Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"Let No Man Pull You Low Enough To Hate Them"

Have you ever had a person in your life who is consistently negative? Who makes you feel less about yourself? Who pushes you down emotionally, over and over again?

Recently, there have been a few people in my life like this. For years I allowed them to make me feel less like...well, less like me.

Belittled. "Do you still live at home? At 21 years old?" 

Hurt. "Are you still dating What's His Name? Or did that ship sail already?"

Inferior. "You're only a junior in undergraduate school? Hm, I'm already working two jobs and living on my own."

Their insensitive comments would leave a visible mark. Their gossip would damage my relationships with others. Their unhealthy competition would cause me stress and nervousness.

And not only have these people hurt me, they have hurt my family as well. Their actions consist of name calling, cussing, incredulous accusations, and purposely disrespecting reputations. My first reaction to people who hurt my family are to take out my hoop earrings and say, "Awh heck no!" while beating them with my purse like a fiery old lady would. Other times, when people hurt my family I feel like Liam Nissen…

(Note: I would not really kill someone…***But if you hurt any of my family member's feelings, I instantly really, really, really, dislike you.)

Yet, I've never responded with ferocity or anger. Why? Because when I have, I'm suddenly the bully. In this day and age, when people push you to your limits and you finally fight back, YOU become the mean one! How backwards is that?

As a Christian, it is difficult to consistently endure this type of relationship and keep a smile on your face. We are conditioned to "forgive and forget". We are encouraged to feel sorry for the other person. We are told to make up for the holes in the relationship by 'killing them with kindness', walk a mile in their shoes, or pray for them.

Well, there comes a time when you need to stop crossing oceans for someone who wouldn't even jump a puddle for you.

In Matthew, Peter asks Jesus about the limitations of forgiveness.

"Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."

Now, it is assumed that Jesus did not literally mean seventy times seven. While 490 seems like a lot, it seems troublesome to keep a record of how many times you have forgiven someone.

If I were to say to my little sister, "Okay Emily, this is the 331st time I have forgiven you. Be careful! You're getting up there! I can only forgive you 490 times!"

That would be silly.

It is more likely that Jesus was trying to make a point about forgiveness: forgive no matter how many times you have previously forgiven. 

According to Google, forgiveness is defined as follows:

for·give (fərˈɡiv/) : verb
  1. ~stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake

    ~cancel a debt.

Forgiving and forgetting seems like an impossible task. It is not always easy to forget painful memories. Therefore, I believe we need to accompany forgiveness with life changes.

Should I continue to let these people treat me badly? Should I allow them to hurt my feelings over and over? Is it really okay that I let them disrespect my family time and time again? (NO! It is NOT!)

If I know from repeated past experience that Person A hurts my feelings every time I encounter them, I should, naturally, limit my encounters with them.

Do I need to cuss them out? Declare in a Facebook status that I am "so done" with them? Openly tell Person A that I am completely eradicating them from my life?

No, because that is not a graceful way to handle that situation. I need to forgive them and MOVE ON.

Of course, we should want to be the best Christian example we can be. Therefore, cutting someone out of your life does not display the "best" Chrsitian attitude. However, it is okay to LIMIT a person's presence in your life.

I can take charge of how they affect me. 
I can chose when, where, and how this person influences my life. 
I can learn to "expect their crap, but to never accept it."

Forgiveness is hard, but it is right.

 "Forgiveness doesn't excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart."

I think there are three major steps in learning how to forgive with a Christian heart:

1. The first is to embody a positive attitude toward those who offend you and avoid negative attitudes toward them. (James 1:2-4)
   -Allowing negative attitudes to take control is unhealthy and gives the offender power in your life.

2. The second is to view the person who hurt you as an instrument in your life from God's plan. (Genesis 45:5)
   -Even if it is impossible to comprehend why this hurtful person is in your life, learn from it and acknowledge that God is always in control. Don't pity the person, but pray for them. 

3.  And lastly, one needs to recognize that maintaining hurt feelings is a form of getting back at your offender, because it causes you to treat them poorly. (Romans 12:17-20)
 -Harboring anger and withholding forgiveness can cause you to become like the offender in regards to similar attitudes. When you forgive, you are obeying God's commands for your life and allowing peace to bloom. 

In conclusion, I don't think Jesus will be upset with me for limiting my interactions with people who hurt me. (And who knows, I can be completely wrong! I'm not trying to put words in Jesus' mouth. Maybe this isn't the right thing to do!) However, I do know that it is unhealthy to surround myself with people who emotionally damage me or my family. If you keep going backwards with people who hurt you time and time again, you will remain stuck. There is no joy in being confused and unhappy.

As a Christian, I am choosing to forgive the people who hurt me. And as a Christian, I am choosing to wisely limit how and when I let them into my life. 

The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is to just love and be loved in return. So, I'm going to love my offenders by forgiving them and stepping away from them. 

Most importantly, I'm going to love my family and myself by moving on with the beautiful, hand-crafted story God has planned for me.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Fifty Shades of NOPE

Disclaimer: I really want to read/see Fifty Shades of Grey. *GASP*
Why, you ask? My curiosity is killing me! Is it as good as everyone says? It can’t be that naughty, can it? Do they really sign a contract about sex? The book can’t be that descriptive…can it?

It is plastered on bookshelves, all over the radio, TV commercials, and Target aisles…I WANT TO KNOW WHAT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT. That is my human nature. I feel left out…I’m curious!

(Please note: I am not bashing those who have read it or seen the movie! If you think my opinion will offend you, then simply stop reading here! Everyone is entitled to his or her own choice, opinion, etc. And this is mine!)

However, based on the few things that I know about this book-gone-movie, I cannot indulge my curiosities. *Spoiler Alert: The book “traces the deepening relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young business magnate, Christian Grey. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM).”

Sounds raunchy, but exciting! Whips, chains, am I right?!?! Well of course it does! Sex sells. Especially this kind of sex. It is taboo! Forbidden! It is like an adult version of Twilight, minus the vampires. Tweens and adult woman alike crave it! It has been deemed “mommy porn” for goodness sake. It has been banned in Indonesia, Kenya, Cambodia, and Malaysia for being "sadistic and more like pornography than a movie."

But what if I gave in to my curiosities and temptations and just read the dang book or saw the movie? The list of cons greatly outweighs the pros.

As I have stated in a previous blog post, sex is not bad. But in my opinion, this type of sex is bad. It is pornography: The representation in books, magazines, photographs, films, and other media of scenes of sexual behavior that are erotic or lewd and are designed to arouse sexual interest. Lust is the foundation and driving source of this title.


Mini Tangent: Let us flip this around!
LADIES! Would you be okay if your boyfriend/fiancé/husband wanted to see a movie about a sexy, irresistible woman that pursued a naive man and convinced him to engage in BDSM (whipping, beating, etc) and loveless sex?  To be frank, I would hate that! I would feel sick if Jake wanted to see a 90-minute film about perversions of sex or read a book about it. I do not want him watching (or reading) pornography. And I am sure he does not want me to watch or read it either. 

Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
You can easily take this verse and switch the him/her.
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a man lustfully has already committed adultery with him in her heart.

To the few who are thinking, “Of course I am okay with that. Pornography keeps things exciting. I would go see the movie with my man!”

So, if you are thinking, “WOW. Who is the 21-year old whack job to tell me what I am supposed to and not supposed to read/watch??! You are intolerant! Judgmental! Who are YOU to say this?”

Well…who are YOU to say who are YOU? 

You have missed the point! My blog is my opinion and nothing more. I do NOT want to force my point of view on anyone. I am simply sharing what I believe and why I believe it. I am not pointing my finger and shaking it in your face. There is a difference between judgmental behavior and discernment. 

As a Christian woman, a Christian who is constantly battling against sin and temptation, I am choosing to not support Fifty Shades of Grey. There would be no positives to me reading or see this title. It would only pollute my mind, desensitize me, and pervert my view of sex.

"When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures." Galatians 5:19

And again, please note that I am not perfect. My opinion is not superior and I am not trying to preach. However, I do hope my perspective provided a new outlook on this topic!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Are you Friend #3?

Recently, God has shown me that in order to have meaningful relationships in my life, I need to overflow. I need to overflow in order to have deep friendships and connections. 

John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

The following "story" is an extended metaphor for what I believe classifies our friendships in this world.

There are three types of friends in this world.

Imagine you’re in a house.

You’re sitting in the living room on an old wooden chair. From your chair, you have a clear view through the window that overlooks your front lawn.

All of a sudden, you smell something burning. Before you can detect the source, smoke quickly fills the room.

You come to the realization that the house is on fire!

Your eyes catch the bright, orange flames growing by the second. Panic wells inside you and fear takes root. You decide to take action!

But for the sake of this metaphor, you can not move. You’re stuck, unable to leave your chair. You physically can not leave your house. It is your house. It is your problem, your issue. Your burning life.

You can see Friend #1 on the front lawn. They are waiving at you frantically, trying to get your attention. “Don’t worry!", Friend #1 says. “I’m going to call 911! They will be here soon and they can help you!” You give them a weak smile knowing that they could have done more to help you.

Friend #2 is on the front porch. You can see them jogging back and forth from the house to the hose, filling up a small bucket. Each time they empty the few gallons of water on the house, a single flame is extinguished, only to quickly be replaced by another, three times its size.
Back and forth they go. As they douse the flames, they look at you and smile. They even give you a thumbs up. But as they turn away to fill up the bucket, you can see their smile drop and their eyes lose emotion. This tasking is tedious to them.

And then there is Friend #3.

Friend #3 walks through the front door and heads straight for you. They quickly understand that you cannot leave the house. They do not try to distract you from what is happening or offer you fake comfort.. Friend #3 does not try to push you out the door and abandon your pain. 

Instead, Friend #3 pulls up a chair beside you. 

They see your face covered in sweat and tears, and soon their face mirrors yours. They take your hand and sit with you. Surrounded by the flames, Friend #3 endures the fire with you, until the flames subside and all but embers remain.

I know what you’re thinking, shouldn’t Friend #3 have dragged you out of the burning house? Why did they sit there, so useless?

Well, that is the thing about this burning house. It is a giant metaphor for the problems we encounter. Losing a loved one. Financial crisis. Terminal diagnosis. Business failure. All of the situations that cause our life to crumble, or burn away. More often than not, we are unable to “leave” our situation. We may try and pretend that it is not happening, but sooner or later we must deal with it. We have to sit there, with the walls being swallowed up in flames as we trudge through our current blight.

We all have many of Friend #1. I know I do. They let you know in a Facebook post that they are praying for you and they promise to help you in your time of need. They propose that the two of you should go out to dinner or coffee and catch up, but the invitation never sees fruition. Friend #1 is not a bad person, they just tend to avoid a deep relationship with you.

Friend #2 is easily spotted, for there are many of them. This friend catches up with you from time, offering you an ear to listen and sending you Bible verses of encouragement when they get the chance. Again, Friend #2 is not a bad person or a bad friend, but they only put in a little effort. More often than not, they meet with you or help you when it is only convenient for them. 

And Friend #3 is a rarity. They see you in your disaster. They recognize that you are drowning in sorrow. They see the flames swallowing up your life and they do not run away. Friend #3 does not offer petty help or pretend to feel your pain. They are real with you, emotionally available, true, and honest. Friend #3 will pull up a chair and sit with you. They go through the fire with you, right by your side.

It is hard to come by Friend #3. Aside from family, my Friend #3 List is a short one. But those friends are wonderful and they last a lifetime. They lighten the load. They help, not from obligation or hope for recognition, but from unconditional love and friendship. They overflow into your life.

I myself am guilty of being Friend #1 and Friend #2 in many of my relationships. I know that I need to overflow in my relationships as a friend, daughter, sister, and girlfriend. When you live a life that overflows, with joy or God, kindness, and compassion-you will build a connection with the people in this world.

To my Friend #3s, you know who you are. Know that I am utterly grateful for you and that I hope to be your Friend #3 as well.

- Happy Thursday! -

~Nicole <3

Photo Credit:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Most Embarrasing Moment

It was 2002…

At eight years old I was a spritely young thing. With bangs, my hair cut right below my ear lobes, freshly pierced ears, a HUGE gap between my teeth and at a whopping 60 pounds, you could say I was quite the dork.

Although I already considered myself an avid soccer player, my parents signed me up for softball.

It was a whirlwind of a season, filled with crying girls, sunflower seeds in my hair, and red dirt caking to my cleats.
Every so often, my team, The Hurricanes (we were bright orange...) would go to the batting cages for practice.

On this particularly hot day, I was guzzling water like a camel. No amount of water seemed to quench my thirst from salty snacks, too much Big Chew, and my nervousness about going up to bat in front of my older teammates.

As we stood in line to bat, my anxiety reached its tipping point. I asked a girl on my team where the restroom was. She gave me a look of terror and said, “I went in there earlier. It was DIS-GUST-TING. You really shouldn’t go in there…”

I trusted my friend. She said the bathroom was gross! I wasn’t going to risk the filth and unimaginable bathroom horrors. Not only was I afraid of the unknown, I also didn’t want my friend to know that I went IN THERE. Seven year olds get made fun of for all sorts of reasons, and going into a nasty bathroom seemed like a good one to me. I could only imagine the possible nicknames. Sicky Nicki. Stinky Nicki. Bathroom Birkholz.

Well, I’m sure you can see where this story leads.

“Nicki! Your turn to bat!”

I slowly walked towards the cage. Focus Nicki, focus. I put on my helmet, grabbed my bat and straddled the side of home plate.

The first ball released.

And that wasn’t the only thing that released.

My brain went from focusing on holding my focusing on trying to hit the ball.


I peed myself. Yep, that’s right. I peed myself in front of my friends, my coaches, and intimidating older teammates.

I heard the whispers from my team as they realized that the growing stain on my pants wasn’t from sweat. I instantly burst into tears.

My Dad was there (thank goodness) and he quickly led me to the car. He threw a towel on the seat and we drove home.

I was mortified! Embarrassed beyond measure. I wasn’t a baby or toddler venturing into potty training, I was eight years old for goodness sake! And not only did I pee myself in front of everyone, I would have to continue to encounter them on a weekly basis at practices or games.

Sighhhhh, so there it is folks. When I was eight years old I peed myself because I was scared of a dirty bathroom and insecure about what others would think of me if I entered said scary bathroom.

I had other embarrassing moments in junior high and high school, but this one ranks in the top three. Maybe I'll blog about those later...

Moral of the story: If you avoid the bathroom when you have to go, then urine trouble!

…Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. :)


Nicki B. Pee Pee