Ask MRP!

ask-mrp

Dear MRP,

I had been dating this great guy for two months when he decided he no longer wanted to see me. He said I was nice but a little “too much” for him. When I asked him what he meant, he said, “You’re a little loud.” I was surprised and disappointed. I don’t remember shouting or raising my voice at anyone whenever we were together. But I do tend to be outgoing and love chatting with new people. But I’m thinking I should tone it down in order to keep him. What should I do?

—Too Much


Dear Too Much,

It can be troubling when your personality is described in negative terms, especially by a romantic interest. Cosmetics and hair products can easily refurbish appearance. But personality is the engine inside the fresh coat of paint.  It’s what powers you, it’s who you are.

And I want to assure you that there is nothing wrong with who you are. Sanguine conversational people like you are literally the life of the party. They spark conversations, form and strengthen bonds, and lighten the mood of every arena they enter.

With that being said, I don’t think you should dilute your personality in order to win him back. Suppressing your disposition, how God made you, won’t last for long and may leave you both unhappy.

For example, there’s this toy called the Shape Ball.

The ball has openings in the shapes of a triangle, square, circle, star, pentagon, etc. The goal is to match the shape of the opening with the shape of the piece and drop it inside the ball. I’d watch my baby cousins play with it. And being babies, they couldn’t get the hang of it. They didn’t understand that the circle couldn’t be placed inside the star opening. The circle with its smooth curves and the sharp angled star slot weren’t the same. After a couple of minutes of trying and dotting the air with squeals of frustration, they would pound the circle into the opening until it eventually dropped inside the ball. But it’s not supposed to be there.

Just like that toy, you can try to force a connection, pretend to fit with someone who doesn’t quite match you. So you bang the bond into looking like it works but it doesn’t. And now you’re with the circle when you were meant to be with the star.

Your personalities are different and that’s OK. Don’t change yourself to make it work because God has a better fit for you.

I hope this blesses you. Praying for you as you embrace your personality and wait for God’s best.

-Jen @ MRP


Have a question for Ask MRP? Send it to modernruthproject@gmail.com.

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January/February: I Am Flaws & All

 

pretty-woman-635258_1920I think it’s safe to say that every woman has something about herself she’d like to change. It would be kind of awesome to have a “Delete” button that would instantly shave off extra pounds or that weird toenail that refuses to grow normally.

If such a button were real, I think Leah would have used it. In Genesis 29, Leah is described as having “weak eyes”, which translates to a homely appearance. To make matters more difficult, her younger sister Rachel was a bombshell and the openly more preferred wife of their husband, Jacob.

And like women today, I’m sure Leah couldn’t avoid comparing herself. Measuring her beauty against Rachel’s. Calculating where she fell short to where her sister triumphed. Pondering how to fix what was broken in order to be loved.

But she wasn’t broken. She wasn’t flawed. What she hated about herself was what God deliberately wanted in her.  He used it to glorify Him and lift her up. When the story of her life is concluded, Leah gave birth to four sons, one of whom is in the lineage of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Be they physical, personality or otherwise, our flaws aren’t accidents of design. They are intentional distinctions from God for you.  You were specifically made to experience life, benefit others, and glorify God in the way He made you. Don’t rush to change. Rush to celebrate.

In January and February, we encourage you to accept and embrace the statement, “I Am Flaws & All.”

MRP 2018 Focus: Identity Crisis

source

Happy New Year!

If you’re like me, a resident of the Eastern coast of the United States, this is a frigid Friday and you’ve curled up with either A) soft and fuzzy warm blankets or B) mugs of varied hot beverages or C) all of the above.

But for all of us, it’s also the first Friday of 2018. Two thousand and eighteen. I know it takes a few recitations for the foreign accent of a new year to melt into normalcy. But 2018 just looks and sounds futuristic to me.

So with that in mind, I’d like to ask you a question.

Who were you on the first Friday of 2000?

Yep, 2000, eighteen years ago. That period of time when Y2K was the biggest of deals, theories and questions about the new millennium ran amok, and a time when most of us were wee bitty teenagers.

Who were you then? What was your life like? What did you want and who did you want to be? What did you expect your life to be like in your 30s, like say, in 2018?

Do you remember?

I’ll go first.

The first Friday of 2000, I was a painfully insecure high school sophomore who loved writing stories and poems. I spoke softly, not to appease those who heard but to avoid their rejection as much as I could. My life was domestically peaceful. My parents loved me and provided a great and wonderful foundation. Yet internally, I consistently felt like I wasn’t enough. What I wanted was to be enough and to feel enough. I wanted to be pursued and loved. So my mind would eagerly throb with daydreams of Thirty-Something Jen. Thirty-Something Jen would have been happily married for 10 years to a handsome and adoring husband. Thirty-Something Jen would be a witty conversational butterfly. Thirty-Something Jen would eat confidence for breakfast and wrap power around her wrists like the wonder woman she’d be.

Now let’s fast forward to today. Who are you now? What is your life like? Based on your expectations in 2000, are you comfortable with where you are now?

I can go first again.

I’ve changed some and changed none. Through Christ, I realize how loved and valued I really am. But I still struggle with confidence. I am not a conversational butterfly and I married my handsome adoring husband only 2 years ago. On this first Friday of 2018, I am a 33-year-old who still speaks softly at times because the security I expected at this point never fully arrived.

How about you? Are you where you thought you’d be?  It’s OK if you aren’t. And the truth is not many of us are.

Life after the age of 30 is presumed to be when women are more confident, more secure and more phlegmatic about themselves and their state of being. But that’s a mistaken belief, one that a lot of us have swallowed whole.

What happens when you thought you’d be a wife and mother by 30, and you’re single at 42? What happens when you thought you’d be an award-winning journalist by 29 and you’re a data entry clerk at 35? When our hopes and aspirations don’t match the reality of our circumstances and we can’t figure out how to join them together, an identity crisis is formed. Our sense of ourselves leaves solid ground and we can drift into uncertainty and resignation.

In 2018, the Modern Ruth Project will focus on the tension of discovering who you are in Christ, who He made you to be in this world, and how to get to and enjoy where you want to be. Throughout the year, we will be posting stories about career growth and transformation, spiritual endurance, marriage/dating experiences and counsel, and maintaining a healthy mindset about who and how the Lord made you.

I can’t wait to go on this year’s journey with you!

 

Attitude of Gratitude

persistence

In my present circumstances, I am recognizing that challenges accompany blessings. Life now looks very unstable compared to my life last year. Yet simply because something is challenging doesn’t mean it isn’t good. In all of it, I am seeking an attitude of gratitude. I want to continue to see the goodness of each situation, even when the road is difficult. When I praise God for the blessings instead of focusing on the challenges, I am much more filled with joy. Focusing on the challenges brings frustration and negativity.

A mere text message a few weeks ago was impetus for me to reflect on my attitude. “What have you been up to?” An acquaintance texted me. My reply: “The usual: work and school.” “Sounds boring.” was his reply. Wait…Boring? “Boring” isn’t a word in my vocabulary! More than anything, I realized that I am grateful for everything in my life, and for life itself. I don’t count anything drudgery. In my eyes, it is all opportunity. True, school can be very draining and time consuming. Yet, not too long ago, I was pining to leave a job where I was more tired than fulfilled. I was more than ready for student life! Here I am, now in school and being stretched daily for a career that (God willing) will one day be fulfilling for me and bring healing to others. Not every person in the world has the ability to further their education or even to pursue a job that they are interested in. Even if my job isn’t what I would prefer to be doing–I have a stable source of income. There are so many who cannot say the same and would happily jump at a job offer! While to outsiders my life may appear burdensome or “boring,” I am very grateful for each situation. When I am grateful, my mood is much more upbeat. I have found that I am even more productive in my school work when I focus on the opportunity that is being in school!

An attitude of gratitude leads to contentment. Gratitude leads to greater awareness of the blessing that each situation in our life is. The challenges help us to grow. No opportunity comes without responsibility. Praise God for every blessing—even when it is challenging. I promise that it will lift your mood and help you to remember your opportunities! As I move forward into finals, I’m thanking God for the opportunity to expand my knowledge and further my career.

How can you praise God in the midst of your current blessings accompanied by challenges?

___________________________________________________________________________

lianna-headshot Lianna

Hello! My name is Lianna. I am 28 years old and live in Cleveland, Ohio.  I am a Master’s student studying to become a counselor.  My favorite things are traveling, learning other languages, singing, and journeying with others. I blog and hope to inspire others at sunflowersojourn.wordpress.com.

Seasons

autumn

The foliage of an oak tree is an ordinary sight in springtime. But a searing summer afternoon is what turn its shade into rare relief. In the winter months, cold air is shunned and cursed as people bundle up. But in the summer, that same arctic chill is hunted and chased by the same people who wished for its end.  Seasons are like that. They enable you to appreciate what was formerly overlooked and make you grateful for what you wouldn’t have otherwise.

I’m in what I would call a tetherball season.  Imagine a ball made of anxiety and doubt, with some teaspoons of fear thrown in for good measure.  Anxiety about our leaders and the world. Doubt about my professional life. Fear about the future. The ball is floating and bouncing on a rocky midnight blue sea. But the size of the ball is dwarfed by the magnitude of the chain attached to it. The thick metal links are fused to a pole in the center of the body of water. So, though the sea tosses and turns the ball over and over, it can never drift away from the anchor.

“God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

-Hebrews 6:18-20

I already knew that God is mighty and securely holds us in His hands. But lately, His daily assurance has been powering my days.  And the security of His word keeps my heart at peace. Only by being in this particular season can I say that I am truly grateful for His strength.

Maybe in a season of loneliness, you cherish His love. Or in a period of doubt, His faithfulness soothes you. Sometimes, going through something will allow you to completely treasure, enjoy, and be thankful for all of who God is.

In your season of life, what about God are you grateful for?

_____________________________________________________

Jennifer Jen

Hi, there! My name is Jennifer. I’m 32 and live in the D.C. area. I love Jesus, R & B music, and sugar in all its forms :-).

In June 2016, I married my amazing husband, Calvin.

I was completely single and waiting throughout my entire twenties. So I know the prayers, fears, and tears that come with prolonged singleness very well.

I am excited to share my story and encourage single women who are waiting for God’s best!

Cookie Cutter Faith

cookie cutter

As a child, I remember marveling at the explanation for the term, “one size fits all.” A sweatshirt that can fit anyone of any size? What sort of enchanted fabric is this and where can I get it?

Of course, when I matured, I realized that the term is terribly specious. It can indeed fit all but it may be very baggy on one person or too tight on another. 100% perfect fits are the aberration, not the norm.

I was reminded of this during a Bible study session recently. During one particular section, my pastor imparted that there is no unanimous method for spiritual growth. Author Gary Thomas says it this way: “[There are] four elements essential to worship: adoration, communication with God, Scripture reading and service….But here’s the key: How we pray, how we worship and how we study God’s Word will differ.”

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. God did not use cookie cutters to create us.  We were created using a medley of varying gifts, desires, personalities, and idiosyncrasies.  And we were all made to fulfill a different purpose for Him.  So if no one person is exactly the same, why would we relate to God and Him to us in the exact same way?

The diversity of worship and relationships with God is present throughout Scripture. David wrote psalm after psalm filled with praise and exaltation for the Lord. Martha provided care and served the Lord. Elijah routinely and vocally opposed all work against the Lord and His purpose.  And though He loved them both, in John 20, Jesus deals with Mary and Thomas’s contact with Him in different ways.  In verses 16-17, Mary’s motion toward Him was gently denied. According to commentaries, Mary’s joy would have caused her to cling too long. She needed to understand that Jesus was not ascending immediately.  In verses 24-27, Thomas was urged to touch the scars in His flesh. Thomas’s doubt needed to be irrevocably destroyed. He needed to see and feel proof that Jesus is alive. Different people with different relationships with the same God.

When you take time to pray and study the word of God​ ​this week, I encourage​ you​ to also take this spiritual temperament quiz.  Discover in what ways you relate to God and how it can help pave your path to spiritual maturity.

Which spiritual temperament are you? How do you see it influencing your relationship with God and how you worship Him?

September Finish – Managing Conflict

conflict

Conflict is an inevitable part of life. When someone hurts us, anger is a common response. Yet anger is like a wildfire. If not properly handled, it will quickly barrel out of control and cause immense harm.  In James 1:19-20 we are taught an important lesson on anger: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” Anger does not produce the righteousness that we are called to.

What are the most common responses to anger? Some of us rehearse in our minds exactly what we want to say to the person who made us angry, and even how we would deliver the message so it gets across how we intend. Other people take the rehearsal a step further and actually deliver the message, and perhaps physical blows. Both of these methods of coping can be harmful. While anger is identified as one of the “7 deadly sins,” it is also not good for your physical health. Anger has even been linked to heart disease and high blood pressure. Clearly, anger can be a very dangerous thing.

So, what is the answer to conflict and to anger? The reality is we can’t go through life without conflict. There are even times when anger can be justified. Even Jesus got angry at the moneychangers in the temple, as they made it a marketplace instead of a sacred place. But it is our response to our emotions that we must be careful about.

  1. It is important to not respond right away–rarely has a response made from anger been healing or productive. Find a constructive way to deal.
  2. Seek people concerned about the same issues. If your anger is caused by injustice, find a path to fight for justice.
  3. When someone hurts you, find a way to take care of yourself so that you don’t spiral into negativity and cause further harm to yourself. This could be going for a run, deep breathing, taking a boxing class, or talking to a counselor.
  4. Tell the Lord how you are feeling. He can take it. Ask Him how you are to respond, both internally and to the person who made you angry in the first place. With any conflict, the Holy Spirit can help us find a way where there seems to be no way.

Conflict is something I dread. Yet I’ve learned that conflict can be an opportunity. Instead of wallowing in anger and falling further from righteousness, our response to conflict can be a way to grow in character.

By seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in times of conflict, we can also grow closer to the heart God has for us and the person who hurt us. Instead of letting anger dictate our responses, let’s work on Spirit-filled healthy responses and watch how we grow in virtue.

________________________________________________________________________________________

lianna-headshot Lianna

Hello! My name is Lianna. I am 28 years old and live in Cleveland, Ohio.  I am a Master’s student studying to become a counselor.  My favorite things are traveling, learning other languages, singing, and journeying with others. I blog and hope to inspire others at sunflowersojourn.wordpress.com.