[unmentionables 6.0] a deadly sin.

“Lust” is one of those words that feels strange coming out of my mouth. Lust is almost always painted in a negative light. It’s an intense desire…a craving. You can lust after something or someone, you can lust for knowledge or power, you can lust after someone else’s chocolate bar…is just one of those words. Lust is something that every religion has something to say about. It’s in the Bible. It’s considered to be one of the seven deadly sins. It’s kind of a big deal.

If you Google “lust”, you’ll find the word mostly used in a sexual, physical context. Lust vs. Love, poems about lust, lust and desire…the list goes on and on. It seems to be something everyone faces. Right?

Right.

Lust isn’t some low-brow emotion that only non-Christians feel. Lust is something that is spoken about in a lot of churches with a “we don’t experience that” attitude, but that’s a lie of the devil. Thinking that we, as Christians, are above feeling lust in a physical or emotional context is one of the world’s great lies.

Lust in this context automatically makes me think of the ever popular “Fifty Shades of Grey” series. I know a lot of people who have read this series and I also know a lot of people who don’t have a clue what these books are really about. Romance novels have been around for the last 50 years or so, but never has a romantic fantasy book taken off in such a way as this particular series. Why? What’s so different about it?

This series has permeated our culture in many ways. In our sex-saturated world that’s obsessed with sexual fantasies, these books found a hook. The song “Feel this Moment” by Pitbull has lyrics that say, “She read books, especially about red rooms and tie ups/I got her hooked, Cause she seen me in a suit with the red tie tied up.” Those lyrics are a direct reference to this popular book series.

I’m a curious person. I love reading. I like being able to participate in conversations. Naturally, I started reading this series to see what all the hype was about. I didn’t even make it halfway through the first book before I called Amazon and asked for a refund for the Kindle copy I had purchased. (Read the synopsis here.)

When I decided to read it, and I’ll admit that I knew what the basic premise was, I thought of all the girls I knew that raved about it and never thought it would be as toxic as it was. My first thoughts about the character Anastasia is that she has a pretty messed up notion of what love is. When I read the synopsis for the other books in the series, I realized that her idea of love continues and the storyline ends “happily.”

This is incredibly disheartening. The character finds worth in a rich, handsome man wanting her. She finds worth in the idea that her love can change his twisted ways. That’s not love. This series is all about lust and becoming slaves to lustful desires. This is not the life that God intended for His children. We are worth more – deserve more.

I’m not saying we’re supposed to feel guilty about every little sexual thought.In a lot of ways, we’re teaching kids to be afraid of sex, then they get curious and it all hits the fan. Conversations are key. Safe places are so important for this particular topic of conversation. Someone has to tell young, teenage girls that love is more than sex. Someone has to teach girls what God says about them. Otherwise, they’re going to get swept up in this toxic culture and fight battles the rest of their lives.

Capturing thoughts. That’s what we should be focusing on. 2 Corinthians 10:6 talks about capturing our thoughts and making them obey Christ. I’m so visual that when I read that verse I imagine grabbing a strand of thought (very Harry Potter-esque), twisting it around, and forcing it to go the other direction. We have complete control over our thoughts. (“The Fantasy Fallacy” by Shannon Ethridge is an amazing book that talks a lot about the different kinds of sexual thoughts. You should check it out if you find this topic as interesting as I do.)

We have complete control over our thoughts.

We have complete control over our thoughts.

That’s so important for us to remember. It’s so easy for us to blame the devil for “putting” a thought into our heads, but we forget that we’re capable of shutting those thoughts down. Galatians 5:16 says that when we walk with the Spirit, we won’t gratify the desires of the flesh. Meaning, we won’t give the sinful body the sinful satisfaction it craves.

I haven’t even scratched the surface with this topic. Again, if you want to read more about the different kinds of sexual thoughts you should read “The Fantasy Fallacy” by Shannon Ethridge. I can’t rave enough about it.

Advice from an [unmentionables] collaborator: “Don’t hide from or try to avoid temptations that occur with dating. The more one denies it, the more likely that person will be taken by it by surprise and fall into it when the temptation is at its peak.”

[next up: a guest post!]

*Disclaimer: This is not intended to review the “Fifty Shades” series or judge those who have read it. I’m not the judgement type. This is merely my thought process.

Screen Shot 2012-07-16 at 9.41.56 PM

Advertisements

[unmentionables 5.0] making the most of your single status.

I remember being in a relationship and changing my relationship status on Facebook from “single” to “in a relationship.” I felt so empowered. I felt special. Now, looking back…I feel silly. Our relationship statuses have become so incredibly important. They’ve started to define us. When I first got to college, everyone wanted to talk about relationships and dating. When it would get around to me, I would just simply say I’d had one boyfriend. People would go ballistic.

“How is that possible?…How have you only dated one guy?…Why wouldn’t you want to date?”

A high school girl told me a couple of years ago that she wanted to have had at least 2 boyfriends before she graduated because she didn’t want people to judge her when she went to college. She didn’t want people to think she was weird or that something was wrong with her. That broke my heart.

I understand what she said about feeling judged, though. I still get that sometimes from people that claim to be my friends. After a while, I started to buy into the lie that I was missing out on something because I wasn’t out dating every weekend or hitting up the bars to meet guys. I spent a large part of my time single being sad. During that sadness, I also felt a lot of regret for ending the relationship. All of a sudden I was boyfriend-less! I had to change my relationship status back! I felt like I wasn’t special anymore. No one was calling me. No one was texting me “Good morning.”

[I’m judging myself a little bit as I write how I felt during that time. I was probably the most annoying friend in the world during this time of the world’s greatest pity party.]

Then, I snapped out of it. (In case you haven’t noticed, I do a lot of snapping out of things.) I don’t remember what happened, but there was this part of me that remembered how loved I was. I remembered how much God desired me. Guys are great, but no desire compares to the desire that our Father and Great Love has for each and every one of us. I love this quote by Louie Giglio, “God calls each and every star by name. It’s not likely He has forgotten yours.”

So, how do we snap out of our single sob story and into making the most of our single status?

One [unmentionables] friend says, “As a woman it’s hard to wait around for the right man to pursue me. I want to chase after them to speed the process and because so many boys don’t seem up for the challenge. But I know trusting God’s timing means waiting for the right MAN (not boy) who pursues me the way Christ pursued us. I feel like I am not ready for Mr. Right to come along just yet…there’s lots of work I still need to do while I’m single!”

Right on! We can choose to be miserable during our time of singleness and worry what other people think, or we can really utilize this time for God’s glory.

She also says, “Relationships take up a lot of time and focus. While you’re single use that time to bring other girls closer to Christ before it’s gone! Talking with other girls about the struggle of waiting for Mr. Right opens so many connections to deep, Christ-centered relationships. You are sure to receive a blessing while being a blessing.”

The communication door has to stay open between young and old regarding relationships. If we rely on our own, young-person knowledge and add in what our culture tells us about relationships – we’ll go down a slippery slope. I can’t tell you how much I rely on my older friends who have had more life experiences than I have. And in the other direction, I have former students from my youth intern days that still call and text me asking questions and seeking advice. It’s so hard for young girls to admit they aren’t ready for a relationship. Sometimes that thought actually seems silly. It’s all part of the whole growing up thing, I suppose.

When I was a youth intern, that summer we talked a lot about pouring into others and what it means for someone to pour into you. I have no doubt that God honors the bond between Christians who pour into each other. That’s at the center of a Christ-centered time of singleness.

We aren’t meant to do life alone, after all.

[next up: a deadly sin.]

Advice from an [unmentionables] friend:

“I would tell younger girls to wait patiently. Unfortunately, I realize that this may be an impractical way to approach a girl, especially the ones that are resistant to that idea. All I can do is to share my wisdom with them, pray for them and with them, and trust that the Holy Spirit will guide and be with them when others won’t be when she needs to make important decisions.”

Screen Shot 2012-07-16 at 9.41.56 PM

[unmentionables 4.0] the dating game.

I haven’t always loved talking about dating. This is a relatively new thing for me. When I started leading girls at Disciple Now weekends, they started asking me about relationships and what college boys are like. Yes. That happened…real life. I had to get comfortable sharing my experiences pretty quickly. I also quickly learned that there are a lot of different opinions out there about whether Christians girls and guys should be dating.

And so the great debate is this: Is it okay for us to date?

First of all…yowza. You ask a circle of people this question and you’ll get a circle of different answers. My friends and [unmentionables] co-bloggers have lots of different experiences and opinions regarding this question.

One friend points out that every person and relationship have their own story, reactions, and consequences. Everyone is different. There are some relationships that have very positive outcomes and there are some instances where you have to learn lessons the hard way. This friend was in a relationship that left her incredibly insecure and she drags the baggage from that relationship into every other that she has. Not just romantic – these insecurities, regrets, and weights follow her into relationships with her friends and family, as well.

Another friend says that she has dating experience and she’s glad to have dated other guys. She says, “I’m definitely not glad I have dated every guy that I have, but there is one in particular that I really learned a lot from. And that was the first one. The first guy I dated was not the guy for me. He didn’t turn out to be husband material. That being said, I learned how important communication is in a relationship. I learned it from him and our relationship that failed because we could not communicate. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I learned that lesson before I met my boyfriend, who is absolutely husband material (we just aren’t there yet).”

It’s so easy to have regrets regarding past relationships and then let that regret follow you around. What’s hard to do is to let it go. It’s so difficult for us to let God have our struggles and live in the freedom that results. Why is that? Wouldn’t that seem easier?

If you’re new to the dating scene and you aren’t sure what you want or should want, know this: It’s your choice. You can choose to see guys as brothers in Christ and cultivate relationships with them that center on seeking God or you can choose to put your desires first. You can choose to enter into a relationship that honors God or you can choose to put yourself in a situation that may result in regret and baggage.

If you’re a seasoned, dating veteran, remember this: You may have made bad decisions in the past, but that doesn’t mean you have to continue. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 34:18, “God is near to the brokenhearted.” You can let the burden go and make way for a Christ-driven relationship. You don’t have to live in the shadow of the past. 2 Samuel 22:29 says, “…my God lightens my darkness.” Then again, you may not have any regrets at all. You may have had a series of relationships that left you with happy memories, strong friendships, and plenty of positive life experiences…and there’s nothing wrong with that!

A guy friend says that dating just for the sake of dating isn’t healthy, whereas dating for marriage is. He says, “When we view dating through the lens of marriage, we see that it’s not just about finding a girlfriend, it’s about pursuing a bride.” Committing ourselves emotionally can be just as dangerous as committing ourselves physically outside the covenant of marriage. Some people have this false idea that when we date around and we’re not making physical commitments, then there’s no harm.

Another guy friend says, “Any dating relationship should have marriage as the goal. That’s not to say that asking someone out is a proposal, but it should be working toward that end. Otherwise both people are wasting their time.”

If a relationship isn’t on the path towards marriage, then what are we doing? Our culture says that guys need girls for sex and girls need guys for love. Where does marriage fit into that equation? It doesn’t.

We have a chance to end the idea that young people must constantly be in a relationship to be happy and fulfilled. What would our lives look like if we made the choice to be in love with and in full pursuit of the Savior? What would our hearts look like?

Dating is always a touchy subject in Christian circles. Some people are all for dating around and having life experiences, while others are really shut off to the idea of dating until you meeting your future spouse. While you can gain a lot of positive life experiences and make a lot of great memories in a relationship, when that courtship doesn’t follow God’s will or isn’t done in a biblical manner, problems can arise and sometimes regret can sink in. A guy told me that dating is really fun and that companionship is one of the greatest things that God has blessed us with. He’s so right! When we respect each other and honor God above all things in a relationship, it can be one of the greatest gifts.

Advice from an [unmentionables] collaborator:

I feel the best way to learn about successful marriages is to look at the examples of others who glorify God better together than apart. Proverbs 15:22 states “plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Seeking the direction of an older married couple or woman even in your dating life helps you learn without tying yourself to emotional heartache that carries into your future marriage.

[next up: making the most of your single status.]

Screen Shot 2012-07-16 at 9.41.56 PM

[unmentionables 3.0] an unprotected heart.

I read a book called, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” [IKDG] by Joshua Harris. One of the first things in this book is about going through life in a series of short-term relationships. There’s a girl who has a dream that all of her groom’s ex-girlfriends were lined up behind him on their wedding day. Think about having all of your past baggage and relationship mistakes with you at the altar. Imagine having all of your ex-boyfriends or girlfriends standing in a line next to you. Not only could that potentially be incredibly uncomfortable, but what would they have to say about you?

Would they mention all the promises you’d made to them about a future together? Would they stand there feeling betrayed and misled?

One of my guy friends thinks this idea is dumb. Ha! Isn’t it interesting how girls and guys view things? When I read this in IKDG, I thought, “Oh, man! That makes so much sense! How humiliating…oh wait…they’re not literally standing next to you…but still!”

One of my [unmentionables] collaborators says that she connects songs, restaurants, movies and places with past boyfriends. She assumes that it will be hard to create a life centered around joyful moments with her future husband when places they go to or things they do may bring up past hurts. She said her youth minster once told her that each thing you do with a boyfriend prior to your husband is one less thing you save for him. This is true not only with sexual boundaries but with other experiences as well.

Whether we want to admit it or not, each relationship, each kiss, each indulgence is like taking a piece of our heart and giving it to someone else. Then we stand there on our wedding day to give whatever is left to our future bride or groom. For some, there’s a lot to offer. For others, we have scraps of our hearts left to offer up. This can be caused by past relationships, physical abuse, emotional abuse, etc.

An [unmentionables] friend says, “My heart is full and I could right now, today get married to my boyfriend and he wouldn’t get some chipped-away-at heart. Sure, I’ve been hurt, I’ve had sex before, but thinking your heart is anything less than full and perfect because you have loved another is the work of the devil, who wants to make you feel worthless…God had forgiven me a long time ago. I just had to forgive myself. My heart has never been fuller.”

Later, we’ll talk about forgiveness and redemption – healing our hearts. We’ll talk about how Christ makes them whole again.

Another analogy that an [unmentionables] collaborator shared is that our hearts are like stickers. When we give our hearts to someone, it’s like taking that sticker and sticking it on them. When we want to take our sticker back, we have to peel it off and it leaves behind that sticky residue stuff – a piece of our heart. If we keep sticking and unsticking it on someone, it loses its stickiness. Dating before marriage does have its benefits in some situations; there are lessons to learn and relationships to build. However, not every relationship will have its benefits. Some can leave us bruised and broken. These relationships harden our hearts.

[next up: dating.]

Advice from an [unmentionables] friend:

Guard your heart. My friend mentions how men often give “love” to get sex and women tend to give sex because they want love. (This is something that is talked about a lot in Shannon Ethridge’s “Every Young Woman’s Battle.”) When a woman wants emotional support and attention, she tends to accept physical needs. As women, we have this intense desire to be loved. Sometimes that desire goes so far and is so intense that we’re willing to do just about anything to feel loved.

Screen Shot 2012-07-16 at 9.41.56 PM

[unmentionables 2.0] a bit about wedding season.

I’m at that stage in my life where I’ve seen every episode of “Say Yes to the Dress.”

Wedding season is always an emotional roller-coaster for me. I’m also that girl at every wedding that’s crying. It’s amazing how easily I can cry. I’ve always said I’m not a “cry-er”…I’m more like a “weep-er.”

“Always a bridesmaid (or wedding guest) never a bride.” That’s so stupid. Whoever came up with that phrase should be…she should be…she’s the bane of my existence whoever she is. And we aaalll know it was a “she!”

Wedding season does have positives for us single ladies. For one, we get to see dozens of examples of weddings. We make note of all of the little things we like and copy and paste in our brains the things we don’t like.

Recently, I experienced a low point. One of those, “no one will ever want me or love me or want to marry me so I’ll never have children and always just be the cool aunt and teach other people’s kids and I’ll be a sad lonely old woman that has a bunch of cats and people pity” kind of days. Okay…more like weeks. Then I attended a wedding that was so very Christ-centered that it snapped me back to reality.

It really was an important moment in my journey down the path of self-pity. God’s timing is always better than mine. Why would I want to rush into a relationship just for the sake of being in a relationship? If I’m not ready in God’s eyes, then I’d be a crap girlfriend. Been there, done that. If I’d be a crap girlfriend, then that can only lead to being a crap wife. We all deserve an awesome, Christ-centered relationship and marriage because we are children of the creator of the Universe. That’s something worth waiting for. When I’m busy feeling sorry for myself, I miss out on rejoicing with my friends in the love that they’ve found.

When I was in early high school, I was feeling discouraged because all of my friends were dating and I felt like nobody wanted me. I remember talking to a friend about how I was feeling and she said that I should start dating. That way, I will know what I want in a husband and I’ll already have some relationship experience when I meet “him.”

I’m really old fashioned. I’m not the type to just walk up to any ol’ Joe and ask him to the sock hop. (Did I take the old fashioned theme too far?) Don’t date so that you can weed out the bad ones. There’s a great Gardener doing the weeding and upkeep for you. He’s handling the hard part. You just have to hold tight. I’m not saying its wrong to date…I’m just saying that there’s a lot of awesome things that come from waiting, which we’ll talk about more in future posts of this series.

Patiently wait for His best.

One of my friends says that she didn’t seek to glorify God in her past relationships. She also didn’t strive to guard her heart. These both taught her important lessons, but also cause her to bring a lot of emotional baggage into her future marriage. I hope my husband will love me for me and not for how much dating experience I’ve had.

Our Christian culture tends to lean towards teachings about finding the right person, when in reality we should be striving to be the right person.

“He’s the one…”

“She’s the one…”

What about you? Are YOU the one? Are you being the best version of yourself? A guy friend told me once, “Every girl wants Prince Charming right now, but they don’t realize that their prince may not be ready yet. Girls will chase after any guy who gives them attention hoping that they’ll somehow grow into the man they dreamed of, but not every frog turns out to be a prince.” Wouldn’t it be best if we entered into a relationship when God says we’re ready, when we know we’re ready, and when we know the other person is ready? Let’s just all be ready! Relationships can suffer when the timing isn’t right. This is especially true if friends become a romantic couple before the time is right. Some damages seem irreparable. Don’t worry. We’ll talk more next week about dating! My friends have given me a lot of different opinions! Exciting stuff!

I remember the first time I read Song of Solomon 8:4, “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (NIV). I also love the NLT version, “Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right.” I love the idea of making a covenant with God, promising Him that we won’t push the boundaries of ourselves and His will and that we will wait until the time is right.

I love this post by Michael Lawrence!

[next up: an unprotected heart.]

Advice from an [unmentionables] friend:

Get to know guys in groups. Develop friendships before anything else. Sure, you’ll have that chemistry right off the bat – in many cases. But take things slowly times a billion. Don’t be alone with a guy. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that regardless of how well you think you have self-control…you don’t.

You know I’ve always got a song to relate things to! This is one of my favorites by Christy Nockels, “Already All I Need.”

Screen Shot 2012-07-16 at 9.41.56 PM

[unmentionables 1.0] a new series on the things we don’t talk about.

Nobody likes to talk about the hard stuff. I think most of that comes from conflicting ideas about what Christians should and shouldn’t be doing regarding sex and relationships. Nobody wants to look like a “bad Christian” for having different ideas. Nobody wants to have people’s opinions of them changed.

I want to preface by saying I’m not writing to damn those who have already fallen to sexual temptation. And by “fallen”, I don’t mean beyond the reach of help. And by “help”, I don’t mean you are downtrodden and that I’m looking down my nose at you. Most of us are victims of sexual temptations, be it thoughts or actions. Those who aren’t are either really blessed or lying.

I’ve been reading a few books about sexual temptations and the Christian life. I’m not going to be one of those people who pretends that they don’t deal with sexual temptations. I’m a human being, after all. A 20-something college student human person. That’s a recipe for disaster.

One of the books I’ve been reading is called, “Every Young Woman’s Battle: Guarding Your Mind, Heart, and Body in a Sex-Saturated World” by Shannon Ethridge and Stephen Arterburn. Whew…that’s a really long title! I didn’t realize it until I started typing it! I’m going to write a series on sexual temptations and the Christian life. Don’t know why…I just think I’m supposed to.

I also don’t think I’m supposed to do it alone.

That’s right! I’ve got a group of awesome ladies who have agreed to be guest bloggers and collaborators for this series. This new series about the “tough stuff” is going to be written using 7 brains. That’s a lot of information and a lot of life experiences. I really believe God will utilize this partnership for His glory and that together, we can encourage others. I’ve even managed to wrangle up some guys to give their perspective on a few things!

Be looking for posts in this new series: Unmentionables.

I’m really excited about this project. If you want to follow along with this series, make sure you’re subscribed so you’ll be notified when a new post is up! Email me your thoughts if you have something to say at a2911student@gmail.com

Some of the books I’ll be referencing are:

“Lady in Waiting” by Jackie Kendall and Debby Jones

“I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris

“Every Young Woman’s Battle” by Shannon Ethridge and Stephen Arterburn

“The Fantasy Fallacy” by Shannon Ethridge

Screen Shot 2012-07-16 at 9.41.56 PM

a love song. [this one’s for the girls]

This is a love song to my husband.

But Caitlyn, you’re not married, I hear you cry. Yes. Yes, I know. But I know that’s part of God’s plan for my life. I pray for my future husband daily. It’s not like I wake up saying, Ah, yes..pray for my husband. It’s more like..I pray for him when I do something stupid or have “one of those days”..knowing that he’ll have to deal with me someday, poor guy.

This is one of those songs that I’ve taken and morphed to mean what I want it to mean. That’s okay, folks. It’s okay. Brooke could have some wonderful reasoning behind this song, but here’s my interpretation and its application to the World of Caitlyn.

If I were capable of writing songs…I think I would have written this one. This song is a lot like a story. It starts out watching and wishing: [I watch as lovers pass me by/Walking stories, who’s and how’s and why’s] I know I’ve done this. I’m a hardcore people watcher. I love watching how people interact with each other; it’s fascinating to me. I’ve actually played that game with my dad before where we imagine what people are saying and invent conversations (which is also fun to do while watching a Spanish soap opera.) I want to be on the other side of that scenario someday; I want someone watching my husband and I and wondering what our love story is like.

[Musing lazily on love – pondering you] That’s probably my favorite line. Girls, we do this all the time.  We think about how our love story will play out. We plan our weddings. Plum will be the color at mine. (Pinterest isn’t helping this..by the way.) We name our children. I’ll have an Annabeth Rose. We plan and scheme all day, but then we realize how lonely all those plans are: that someone’s missing.  [Love is waiting ’til we’re ready/’til it’s right] I’m not just talking about the ol’ purity type of waiting, here. Although, that’s a huge part of it. Our hearts also need to wait. If we jump into every relationship that presents itself, thinking he’s our Prince Charming…we’ll have a lot of baggage with us at the altar on our wedding day.

[I could write a million songs about the way you same my name/I could live a lifetime with you and then do it all again/But like I can’t force the sun to rise or hasten summer’s start/Neither should I rush my way into your heart] I smile every time I hear that line. Save as much of your heart as you can. Think about guys you’re dating as some girl’s future husband, if he isn’t yours.

The Christ love song equivalent to this one is, “You’ll Come” by Hillsong…which is ironically also sung by Brooke Fraser. It’s currently my favorite worship song for many reasons.

All the single ladies

Pray for your husband every day. Even if you’re going through that, “(humph) I’ll never get married,” phase – pray for your husband. Pray for the fact that he’ll have to sort out your insecurities one day, God bless him. Pray because he’ll be the head of your house. Pray for your husband because hopefully he’s praying for you.

My prayer is that the chains of worldly dating rules will be broken. Eyes will be opened. Christ will be revealed. He’ll come.

Will you join me in praying for a patient heart?

-Caitlyn

Reading: “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris

there are a lot of words in this one.

This weekend, we took 8 soon-to-be seniors to Austin for a little senior retreat. We had a blasty blast. Yes, you read that correctly. A blasty blast. It’s a term. Look it up. We talked through some chapters in the book “How to Stay Christian in College” by J. Budziszewski. Don’t ask me how to pronounce that. I can’t help you. This book is an incredible handbook to dealing with the realities of college that nobody warns you about.

I wanted to write about some of the things that stood out to me the most. But then I thought…that’s lame. So my creative wheels started turning and I came up with this “Playlist to Staying Christian in College”. Enjoy.

“We Won’t Give Up” by The Afters

This is more like a wrap-it-all-up kind of song, but hey..the last shall be first and such. (Matt 20:16) I may have loosely interpreted that verse. The intro to this song belongs at the beginning of a CD.  It has awesome lyrics like, “They say we’ll never make it but we’re gonna take it all the way” and “all we hear is wait, it’s not you’re time.” I’ve had many people imply that there are certain things more important than digging into God’s word or even taking that simple trip to church on Sunday morning…but there’s nothing they can say to make me believe it. I’m going to take my faith as far as I can and nothing will stop me, though many will try. My first year at college, it was easy for me to decide to sleep in on Sunday, for example. Once I realized that they were wrong, that there isn’t anything more important than strengthening my relationship with God, I understood: You have to fight. You have to decide that you won’t give up, that you CAN make a difference, despite your youth (1 Tim 4:12). Make that decision before your first day of class, and stick with it. [[Also, “Can’t Shut Up” by Anthem Lights]]

“Outta My Mind” by Anthem Lights

This song basically describes one of my insecurities: that I’m not important. I know…that’s stupid. I’m dealing with it. God says I’m important, loved and special. Why do I need more verification than that? I get stuck in my head and only hear my own thoughts. Do you do that? I drown out that voice telling me how special I am and get stuck. “If anybody asks me, what have I been up to, this is what I’m gonna say/I’ve been spending my time out of my mind/and I’m really loving living this way”. Preach it, Anthem! I’m done with inward living and moving on to serving others and serving God. In college, it’s easy to get caught up in all the things other people have and you lack. Especially as a girl watching friends get married and have families of their own. “Gotta try not to say/oh God, what about me/cause I know that’s not the way that I’m supposed to be” and “gotta try just to say/oh, God what can I do” are words to live by. I have this song on repeat sometimes just to get me “outta my mind and into [His] heart” so that I can start “playing my part in [His] design.” [[Also, “Overcome” by Jeremy Camp]]

“By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North

This is one of my favorite songs of all time. I have a lot of “jams” and only a few “favorite songs of all time.” This is definitely one of those. “Why are you looking for love?/why are you still searching as if I’m not enough” are some of the most impactful words I’ve ever heard. A common struggle in college is the need for comfort, love and attention. I think everyone struggles with those to some degree. God is by our side! He doesn’t run off when a prettier girl comes along or a funnier friends walks by, so why do we make Him our last choice? Why not the first? God knows what we’re going to say before the words even pass through our brains, He never has any intention of abandoning us, and He is the King of comfort! This song is a love song to you from the Father through Tenth Avenue North. Don’t take His love for granted, but rather cling to it as you enter the college chapter of your life. You won’t believe the difference it makes. I can attest to that. [[Also, “Strong Enough” by Matthew West]]

“You Are My Passion” by Jesus Culture

This song is sung by my hero: Kim Walker-Smith. She chuckles when she sings. Her joy is full, pure and infectious. I’ve never heard anyone sing with as much passion as she does. I don’t even know where to start with this song. One of the most important nuggets of advice I can give is this: know what you believe. People will ask you why you don’t do this or why you disagree with that and if you can’t give them a solid answer…they’ll either make fun of you or shrug you off. Neither one of those outcomes feels very good, I’ve experienced them both in college. Is God your passion? “My strength in life is I am Yours/and my soul delights because I am Yours/Your will on earth is all I’m living for.” Amen! If you follow Christ and you’re about to head off to college, make God your passion, make Him your only desire. [[Also, “All to Us” by Chris Tomlin]]

-Caitlyn

Listening to: Honestly, I’ve been listening to “You Are My Passion” and “Rooftops” also by Jesus Culture this whole time. Ha!