Be Careful What You Pray For: Part 1
If you've watched Spiderman you've heard the phrase ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. If you were raised by my dad (which would be super awkward because my dad only has 3 kids- me and my sisters) you've heard the phrase with ‘great blessings comes great responsibility’.
I don't think that I really understood what my dad meant until recently. I won't even front, 2017 was easily the best year of my life thus far.
In short, 2017 was full of blessings. I reaped the benefits of what I had been sowing for years but all of these blessings came with more responsibilities than I bargained for. I'm a firm believer that God uses blessings to teach you lessons and sometimes He blesses you in ways you've never imagined (it's like a double whammy). This series is about why I should have been more careful about what I prayed for and what my blessings have taught me.
Part 1: My boyfriend
I'll be totally transparent here: one of my biggest prayers in 2017 was that in His timing, God would place a God-fearing, generous, thought-provoking and loving man in my life. I had been heart broken enough and part of it was my fault. I had spent the past two years in romantic situations where I had to prove my worth (which is a never ending journey so please don't ever start it). I had to spend some time getting myself together, ultimately learning how to love and respect myself. When I was ready, I prayed for my next significant other. The Bible says you have not because you ask not, so ya girl sure did ask.
I made a list of non-negotiables and a list of characteristics I wanted in a man and I petitioned to the Lord in prayer. Let's just say I got all I wanted and more. Here's a list of 3 things our relationship has taught me:
1. Compromise + Sacrifice
This is the part of my relationship I wasn't prepared for so this was a huge adjustment for me. In past romantic relationships I had always compromised way too much. It was to the point where I was conceding at every turn and I was being taken advantage of. I would go along with something, go somewhere, etc. even if the Holy Spirit was telling me not to. I would agree to things because I was in fear of losing the relationship.
When I got out of my last relationship I swore I wouldn't compromise myself again but that slowly translated into me not compromising or sacrificing at all! It was my way or the highway because I wasn't about to be disrespected again. Let me tell you how wrong that is. Life requires compromise. Relationships require compromise. And anything worth having requires sacrifice. The man God sent for you won't require that you compromise your beliefs or your values but you will have to compromise on some things. Sometimes it's small compromises like where you'll eat for dinner that evening, sometimes it's bigger sacrifices like forgoing a big event so that you can help your significant other with something they need to do.
When I was single I could think a lot more about myself. I didn't have to always consider his feelings, his needs, and his desires. Which was definitely not something I thought about when I was praying to God for my man. Relationships are all fun and Instagram worthy until you have to consider someone else's feelings and you have to sacrifice something you want for something your partner needs.
2. Spiritual Discipline
Relationships are like mirrors and I certainly learned that when I started dating Christopher. They can reflect your light but they can also show you all your nasty pimples and scars. I prayed for the Lord to send someone who loved Him and would challenge me in my walk. Y'all I meant it but I didn't really mean it, if you get what I'm saying. Christopher's spiritual discipline helped me reflect on my lack thereof.
I was used to men I had to drag to church, or men who didn't go at all, so I'll be frank in saying I got comfortable being the spiritual "leader." I prayed for someone who I wouldn't have to drag or force to go to church and now I have a man who wakes me up for church on Sundays. He's up and dressed before I am. I distinctly remember the first time I stayed over at his house. I woke up to him playing gospel music and getting dressed for church. He basically said "if you're not going to church, then I'll see you later." Y'all, I was SHOOK but I knew I didn't want to be left behind. Next time, ya girl had her church clothes packed and ready. I used to skip out on church a lot more (I still do occasionally, I can't even lie) but dating someone who is determined to get his praise on is honestly refreshing and it makes me less likely to do so.
The biggest area of spiritual discipline where I was lacking and Christopher definitely wasn't? Tithing. I knew good and well how much the Bible called me to tithe, I wasn't struggling by any means and I STILL wasn't tithing like I was supposed to. I would put a little more than the 10% God asks for when I felt like my paychecks were bigger than usual but if they weren't, I didn't trust Him enough to fill my need so I would tithe less than the 10%. Christopher tithes at least the minimum and most times, he tithes a lot more. His trust in the Lord and spiritual discipline eventually rubbed off on me which has been one of the most challenging and convicting, yet rewarding aspects of our relationship.
3. Intentionality + Reciprocity
Like I said before, prior to my relationship with Christopher, I seemed to be the one always compromising and sacrificing in my relationships and I never really felt like that was reciprocated. One of the things I love most about Christopher is how he loves me so intentionally. Everything he does for me is calculated and planned (like this surprise Valentine's Day picture shoot where all these cute pictures came from).
At the beginning of our relationship, Chris and I took the 5 Love Languages quiz, which I highly recommend. My top love language is physical touch. I love hand holding, small physical gestures and lots of cuddling. Christopher is the exact opposite. He's really big on personal space and isn't really into touching or being touched. His top love language is acts of service. So anytime I help Christopher clean up his room, fold clothes or clean out his fish tanks (literally the worst job ever), it means a lot to him.
I used to hate doing acts of service because I felt like it was submissive and played into gender roles way too much. But everyday Christopher fought through his need for personal space to make me feel loved through some sort of physical touch. It was then I realized how beautiful reciprocity could be. I started to do smaller things to help him out and it meant so much to him. It was especially hard because my first instinct was to prove my dominance and my independence. When I was praying for a man who would speak my love language, I didn't stop to think that his might be different. I prayed for reciprocity because I knew I would be the one giving but when I received it it was hard not to be selfish and just take without giving back.
Relationships are hard work. When I was single I would scroll through Instagram jealous over all the cute couples I saw on my timeline. When Christopher and I were talking, I prayed for more. I asked when we would be in a relationship because I didn't think much would change. Well, a lot changed. I became more accountable to him and our relationship, I had to start making sacrifices and practicing reciprocity. At first I was confused. I questioned God because all of this wasn't what I asked for, but the crazy thing about God is, He'll use everything you prayed for to make you better. No diamonds without pressure and heat. No cute wedding pictures without work. Be careful what you pray for...
What ways has God developed your prayers into something more? Let me know!