Can I Keep It Real For A Second? About Love…My Changing Perspective.

***This is written as the thoughts are coming…I just got off the phone with V and shared some really deep things regarding my life with her…it now has me thinking…I figure I can’t be the only one in this place right now***

Recently, events in my life have forced me to confront my outlook on love.  L-O-V-E.  I’ve been taking a critical eye, examining it and truly questioning its value…is it worth it?  I suck for that.  The Bible is all about love, God is love and life is…love.

But why does it have to hurt though?  And be so challenging?  Is that not the biggest oxymoron of all oxymorons?  For something like that to be so POWERFUL, so MONUMENTAL, so LIFE-CHANGING, why can it not be simpler?  Easier?  More effortless?  (and no, I’m not speaking on exclusive “romantic relationship” love…all of it.  All of it is rarely ever EASY…at least to me it seems that way)

“I love you” is not a daily part of my vocabulary.  I use it sparingly…too sparingly at times.  Sometimes when it’s time to hang up with somone, I get ready to say it then close my mouth…despite the fact that I love them to death, something in me just won’t let me go there.  I hate that.  And it may be a family member or something…Ty comes to mind lol.

Once you say it, it can’t be taken back.  If you use it, you better mean it…despite my outlook on the topic, to say “I love you” still means a LOT to me and goes a LONG way with me.

So yeah, recently I’ve been thinking a lot about this…the good, a lot of the bad and the flat out ugly.  And then today I was reading Shelby’s blog and she wrote a post on love’s importance.  And man, did it hit home.

Ultimately it’s saying that love and our relationships are what life is about.  All Ten Comandments deal directly with love/respect in relationships and things such as money, future promotions, random interests, building empires and the overall “grind” have NEVER been a proper substitute.  To place those things over our relationships with family, friends and other significant people in our lives is an EPIC fail.  I needed this.  I’ve found myself giving 90% of myself to my “work” and internally, my Spirit has not been okay with this.  My family and friends are my world and my priorities don’t reflect this.

I need to change.

Below is Shelby’s article.  Read it.  This may be the reminder you need to get a new perspective on the life you lead.  I know it has served as a reminder to me.

Life’s Passion-Love

My life’s passion is definitely “love” – I know it’s weird, but I fundamentally believe there is nothing more important than love. With that said, yesterday after having a conversation about “why my passion is love and not pastry arts school” with a few classmates (yikes), Mike and I decided to crack open “The Purpose Driven Life” and by “coincidence” we read this. It literally gave me goose bumps, so I had to share it. So out of love – I paraphrased a section from the book (chapter 16) Enjoy!

The Best Use of Life is Love
By Rick Warren
Summarized by me
 
Love should be your top priority, primary objective and greatest ambition. Love is not a good part of your life, it is the most important part. The Bible says, “let love be your greatest aim.” It’s not enough to say that I want to be more loving as though it’s on your top ten list. Relationships must be the priority in your life above everything else. Why?
 
– Life without love is worthless. Paul says ” no matter what I say, what I believe, what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” Many times we talk about finding time for our relationships – like relationships are something that must be squeezed into our schedules. But God says that relationships are what life is all about. Four of the ten commandments deal with a relationship with Christ, the other six deal with relationships with other people. All ten are about relationships. 
 
Later Jesus summarizes what matters most to God: Love God and love people. Relationships not acquisitions and achievements matter most in life. So why do we allow our relationships get the short end of the stick? When our schedules start getting busy, we start cutting down time, energy, and attention that relationships require. What’s most important to God is displaced by what’s urgent. 
 
Busyness is a great enemy of relationships. We become preoccupied with making a living, doing our work, paying bills, and accomplishing goals as if these tasks are the point of life. THEY ARE NOT. The point of life is learning to love – God and people. Life minus love equals zero.
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You Had Me At… “Hello”

Ladies, have you ever encountered a man who’s presence and influence demanded such respect, such momentum, such awe that all you could do was sit back while you watched him like, “Dang!”  It also doesn’t hurt if this man looks absolutely delicious.  And the icing on the cake…he is yours?!

One of my absolute FAVORITE songs of Beyonce’s is “Hello,” which elaborates on the EXACT sentiment I just described above.  I have nothing BUT positive memories (and one day hopes for my future) from this song.  Every time I listen to it my heart is filled with overwhelming warmth and hope; warmth in the fact that the human heart can be capable of such strong, intense emotion and hope because I know that one day I will be married to a man who’s sheer being will perfectly exemplify this song in my eyes.

I can’t wait.

I love to see you walk into the room, Body shining lightin’ up the place;
And when you talk everybody stops, Cause they know you know just what you sayin.
The way that you protect your friends, Baby I respect you for that;
And when you grow you take everyone you love along, I love that stuff.

Don’t fly me away, Don’t need to buy a diamond key to unlock my heart;
You shelter my soul, you’re my fire when I’m cold, I want you to know…

You had me at hello, hello, hello;
You had me at hello, hello, hello.
It was many years ago, baby when you, stole my cool;
‘Cause you had me at hello, hello, hello.

I get so excited when you travel with me, Baby while I’m on my grind;
And never will I ever let my hustle come between me and my family time and…
You keep me humble out of this hype, Cause you know there’s more to life,
And if I need ya, you will be here, You will make the sacrifice.

Don’t fly me away, Don’t need to buy a diamond key to unlock my heart;
You shelter my soul, you’re my fire when I’m cold, Just want you to know…

You had me at hello, hello, hello;
You had me at hello, hello, hello.
It was many years ago, baby when you, stole my cool;
You had me at hello, hello, hello.

Gotta feel you, and be near you, You’re the air that I breathe to survive;
Gotta hold you, wanna show you, That without you my sun doesn’t shine.
You don’t have to try so, hard for me to love you;
Boy without you my life just ain’t the same, You don’t have to try so hard for me to love you….

You had me at hello, hello, hello;
You had me at hello, hello, hello.
It was many years ago, when you, stole my cool;
You had me at hello, hello, hello.

P.S. It’s rare that anyone is ever actually had right “at” hello, but it’s a nice thought, is it not?!

Faith, Hope or Love? Pick One.

That was a question posed to me recently.  I was told that of the three, which was most important.  Impulsively I went with faith.  Surely it is most important to have unwavering faith in God so that you are able to receive your blessings.  Right?

Wrong.

Instantly I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 13:13. 

 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

And now that we’re here, let’s not forget what else that chapter has to say about love…

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

How foolish was I!  Ultimately, love is the glue that binds humanity together.  Without love nothing else is able to exist, faith and hope included. 

Today I encourage you all to love a little deeper, be slower to anger and quicker to give the benefit when there exists doubt.

The Evolving Faces of Sacrifice in The Name of Love

                Over the weekend I got to spend a bunch of amazing quality time with members of the Zeta Mu Chapter of my sorority.  The thing I love the most about these relationships I share with these women is that despite our common bond of being members of the same sorority, we rarely discuss sorority stuff.  Our conversations revolve around our personal lives, endeavors, jobs and relationships!

                One conversation that stood out in particular is a conversation I was having with one of my favorite prophytes, Angie (hey boo! xoxo).  There were a few of us discussing relationships and when we asked about her overall outlook on relationships she shared the evolution of her personal non-negotiables in relationships.  “Before I turned 30, there was NO WAY I would have ever considered dating a man who had already been married or had children.  It wasn’t happening!  But now…”  Since turning 30 her previous non-negotiable is no longer an obstacle that stands in her way of finding love.  Her outlook got me to thinking…

What would I be willing to do in a relationship that I previously would have never done?

                As my quarter-life anniversary of life approaches, I’m forced to take a serious look at my life and what it is that I honestly want out of it.  When doing this analysis I’m forced to acknowledge that there are currently things I am not opposed to doing, within the realm of relationships, that only a couple of years ago I’d have never in a million years even slightly considered.  The biggest thing that tops the list for me is…

I Would Be Willing To Move For Love

                It is that simple.  I would.  Previously I saw this as such a major sign of weakness on the woman’s behalf.  I saw her bending over backwards to please a man and to me, that was a complete contradiction of what chivalry was supposed to be about.  I figured if a man wants to be in a relationship with me that bad he will be willing to move to wherever it is that I live and chase me around the world.  As my baby cousin Jana has been known to scoff at me, “Mina, you just want somebody to kiss you’re a$$.  Ugh.”  (Lol, you’ve got to love family!) 

                I admitted to Jana at the time that yes she is right, but now that I’m a bit older I recognize the importance of both people kissing each other’s behinds.  If both are doing it equally, it ultimately looks as if both parties greatly appreciate each other.  I am more than okay with that.  And if part of the mutual “kissing of arses” entails me moving to be closer to them, whether that be a short distance across town, across the country to Hawaii, or around the world to Asia, I would be okay with doing that.

                Some (many) may call it stupidity but ultimately we’re each given one short life to live.  I believe the true tragedy would be in not taking advantage of each viable opportunity as it comes your way.  It’s making powerful decisions such powerful sacrifices for the sake of love that improves one’s overall quality of life.

An Ode To My Ex-Loves

This is a rant…Do not judge me.  Exclusively, my personal thoughts

                One could say that late Feb/March has been busy for me.  Within the last couple of weeks I’ve heard from three of my exes.  They all are asking about the same thing, several times over, in many different ways.  Ultimately, it looks something like this…

“Ashley, can you PLEASE give me another chance?!”

Heck no.

            It’s all kind of ironic seeing as to how just a few years ago nothing would have delighted me more.  I wouldn’t have been able to shout “Yes!” at the top of my lungs quick enough!  At one point in time I think I could have pictured a happily ever after ending with each of them.  Some I might have known I was settling to be with, but I was ok with that.  Others I shed tears over, but to no avail.  Ultimately, the relationships didn’t work and we went our separate ways.  Here we are a few years later and after coming full circle they insist on asking that inevitable question…

“Well where do we go from here?  Are you sure we can’t try again?”

Nowhere.  And never.

                There’s no looking back for me-I strive to move forward.  Now that I think about it, I’ve never been one to give second chances.  I’ve done it once in my life and I’m still waiting for the results to see if it was successful.  I don’t believe in remaining friends and find it to be so problematic that these men believe that meeting for lunch or dinner to “catch up” is harmless.  Despite saying that they understand my outlook and respect it, no they don’t.  If they did, they wouldn’t ask for dinner, and they certainly wouldn’t insist on the age-old…

“But I’ve changed and have learned from my mistakes.  You were amazing and I was such a fool-I took you for granted.  I can honestly say I regret what happened between us.”

Really…?! Nah…

                I will admit, the first time I heard that the icebox surrounding my heart began to melt a bit.  Does that not sound so sincere?  So earnest?  So heartfelt and desperate?  I loved seeing/hearing that emotion!  I began to wonder if there had finally been a breakthrough.  Was I the inspiration behind changing the man?  Until I heard it again…and again…and again.  Yes, I’ve heard it from four of them in total now.  I’m wondering who the man is that has published this manual that they have all passed around and memorized.  A friend of mine once said, “If it seems like a coincidence, it’s probably not.”  They’re right.  It’s not coincidental that four of my exes have hit me with the same “I’m sorry Ashley/I’ve changed/I want you back.”  The only change that has occurred is the face of the woman they’re spitting the same sorry excuses too.

                My only recommendation to these men who insist that they’ve changed is to put all of this emotion, effort and desire into the next relationship they find themselves in.  Prayerfully she will never experience the hurt that I once knew with that same man.

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone; I can see all obstacles, in my way...