Monday, February 17, 2014

A Letter to the Bullies

I hope that you're doing well, although I know that you don't wish the same for me. I wasn't your first victim, and i'm certain I won't be your last. I wanted to begin this letter by first saying thank you. You may be shocked to see those words written to you, but yes, that's what I said. Thank you. 

Thank you for every hateful word you said about me. Thank you for every hidden whisper that included my name. Thank you for the malice, the jealousy, the stares, and the laughter. I truly appreciate you for intentionally pointing out my every physical imperfection, and bringing to light every mistake i've ever made. Thank you for noticing and taking full advantage of every time I was mentally broken. Times like those gave you a better opportunity to beat me down with your words. You made most of my middle school, high school, and part of college a living hell, and I still thank you. I do not understand why you received pleasure from my pain, but I prayed for you. I still pray for you. Matthew 7:5 says to remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see more clearly to remove the speck from someone else's eye. I wondered if you had ever heard of this verse. I wondered if you realized you were imperfect like me. For all of those countless nights that I fell asleep with a wet pillowcase on my tired cheek, I thank you. I thank you for all of the false beliefs you drove into my head. For a while I wanted to have your emotions, your heart, your confidence. I wanted to be like you. I wanted to be strong just like you. But, over time i've realized that you really aren't strong at all. You're weak. Any person who receives gratification from hurting other people has a heart as black as they come. So, I began to feel sorry for you. That's why i'm thanking you now, because i'm the strong one. Thanks to you. 

It was you and your degrading words and hateful, selfish actions that pushed me further into the arms of my family, to the shoulder of a true friend, and to church. Out of everything in my life, I can honestly say that you've changed me the most. I hope that you can sleep well at night knowing that over the years you've been testing me. You've tested my patience, battered my self respect, and challenged my confidence. Little do you know, you've been polishing me. You've been perfecting me. You've made me feel more beautiful, strong, and happy than i've ever felt before, and for that I thank you. Life wouldn't have been quite the same without you. 

I hope you've realized by now that your work with me is complete. There's nothing else in me that you could possibly get your hands on. Maybe some day your heart will change, and you'll realize how wrong you've been all this time. Just know that I've always prayed for you. I still pray for you. And you'll never, ever break me again.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
he said to me "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Hope Rodriguez

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Cheaters and The Cheated

Before I even began to dive into this subject, I found several statistics related to cheating (infidelity) online. Keep in mind, these are percentages of only those who actually admitted to cheating. These stats don't include those who got away with it. 

Marriage Infidelity StatisticsData
Percent of marriages where one or both spouses admit to infidelity, either physical or emotional41 %
Percent of men who admit to committing infidelity in any relationship they’ve had57 %
Percentage of women who admit to committing infidelity in any relationship they’ve had54 %
Percent of married men who have strayed at least once during their married lives22 %
Percent of married women who have strayed at least once during their married lives14 %
Percentage of men and women who admit to having an affair with a co-worker36 %
Percentage of men and women who admit to infidelity on business trips35%
Percentage of men and women who admit to infidelity with a brother-in-law or sister-in-law17 %
Average length of an affair2 years
Percentage of marriages that last after an affair has been admitted to or discovered31 %
Percentage of men who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught74 %
Percentage of women who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught68 %
Percent of children who are the product of infidelity3 %

Wow! Right? I'm sure all of you reading this just decided to turn into overbearing psycho stalker spouses/significant others. Just kidding. Anyway, another crazy statistic that I found was that around 60% of people will be cheated on at least once in their lifetime. Awful, isn't it? So the two big things I want to focus on in this touchy blog are the cheaters and the cheated-on in relationships. If a section doesn't apply to you, simply don't read it.

The Cheaters

Even if you think this doesn't apply to you because you've never physically cheated, you may be wrong. In my mind, cheating isn't just physical, it's emotional. Emotional cheating is also pointed out in the bible. Matthew 5:28 says that if you look at a woman with a lustful intent, you've already committed adultery with her in your heart. If you're emotionally attached or thinking about someone else other than the one you're with, you aren't being faithful. Emotions are HUGE in a relationship, and trust me, people aren't stupid. They know when you're looking straight through them or wishing they were someone else. The human heart isn't a toy to be tinkered with. So, don't let someone allow you to consume their heart and mind if you don't plan on being there.. ALL there.

 One of the huge problems, in my opinion, are people who move from person to person after the current relationship gets boring. This type of person is someone who dates one person during the "googley eyed" stage, and moves onto the next relationship's googley-eyed stage when the current relationship starts getting too monotonous. Psychologists and other specialists are linking this incident to the multiple loves/sexual partners that people are getting used to before their first real commitment. This made sense to me, but I don't believe it applies in every case. However, I do believe people with multiple partners have a huge shock when they realize they've now committed to be with one person (sexually and emotionally) for the rest of their lives. 

Another excuse people use is that their significant other "changed" or "just isn't the same anymore." Uh, hello, of course they aren't the same. You're out of the giggly, interesting, super exciting beginning stage and you're needing something else to keep your attention. You feel as if you've gotten to know everything about them and there's nothing else to learn.. and you're bored. Trust me, there is ALWAYS more to learn about the love of your life. Always. I'm one of those people that notices and memorizes the stupid little details. If you date me, I'll know the exact toppings you prefer on your cheeseburger. I'll decide what type of driver you are the very first time I ride in your vehicle with you. I'll pay extremely close attention to how you treat your mother and your sisters, and if it isn't something I approve of, i'll run in the opposite direction. I pay attention to the cleanliness of your car, your room, and your body. I'll ask you your favorite books, songs, and movies. Most of all, I pay attention to what inspires you. I made a commitment to myself when I was 18, after the most disastrous relationship i've endured, that i'd never date someone I couldn't picture myself marrying. Make yourself this promise and your relationships will be more valuable to you.

 I'm one of those people who loves a chase. I eat it up. If you tell me I can't have something, I'm going to show you I can, in fact, have it. It isn't just me, it's human nature. This is another problem in relationships. You chase someone, get them, the relationship gets boring once again, and you notice someone else who seems unattainable. Annndddd there goes your attention. It's that easy. Train your mind. Love isn't about finding the perfect person, it's about learning to love and devote your life to the person you've found.

Not everyone is going to love you the exact way you want them to, but if they seem right for you, and you love them, don't hurt them. Just because someone doesn't love you the exact way you want them to, doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have. Cherish this. Protect their heart like it's the most valuable possession you've ever held in your hands. Don't shatter their heart and mind because you can't control yours.

Proverbs 6:32
"He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself."

Hebrews 13:4
"Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous."

The Cheated

I have to be extremely careful while touching on this subject. First of all, whether or not you choose to stay with your partner after an occurrence of infidelity is no one's business but your own. It all depends on the situation and what kind of person you are. According to surveys, most people say they leave after being cheated on because "they could never look at their spouse the same way again" or "couldn't forget that it happened." Completely understandable. Those who have stayed with their significant other after infidelity often report that their spouse exhibits feelings of remorse and promises to change and never do it again. Once again, this choice is entirely up to you, and shouldn't involve the input of anyone else. Keep in mind that those outside of your relationship may tell you things that are easier said than done. It's easy for us to tell someone to leave their significant other after infidelity, but who are we to say such things? YOU are the one who married them. YOU are the one who loves them. It's no one's choice but YOURS to make. So, choosing to stay or choosing to leave is the first part of the process. Leaving may seem quick and easy because you can pretend you're okay, mask the pain with hobbies and nights out with your friends, and it seems as if the problem has disappeared. However, if you leave your relationship, you'll be stuck with your pain and sorrow without the person you loved and depended on to help you sort it out. 

I've been cheated on several times. One verse that always helped ease my feelings of hopelessness and betrayal was Romans 5:3-5. "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."Rejoice in our sufferings.. much easier said than done. During hard times like these, it's easy to lose all self-confidence and self-worth, but you have to remember that you didn't cause this person to hurt you. There is something wrong with them, not you. There is no excuse for cheating. It is a selfish act caused by something in that person, not in you. I can't stress that enough.

When someone hurts me, betrays me, or cheats on me, I like to think of it as an opportunity to make myself stronger than i've ever been before. Remember when you were in middle school and those girls or guys would pick on you or leave you out.. and your mom would tell you to get a "thicker skin?" I never understood that phrase until I was cheated on for the first time. Each time someone hurt me, I rejoiced. I'm not going to lie, my first reaction was anger and hatred. I hated them with every part of me. I spent minutes, hours, days, weeks, and even months wondering how they could do such a thing. I mostly thought about how I could retaliate, because I wanted them to hurt. I wanted them to feel the pain and suffering that they caused me (awful, isn't it?!). However, over time (A LOT of time), i've learned to thank them for making me stronger in the end. If you rejoice in your sufferings, you'll gain endurance, character, and hope. So, the next time you want to slash your ex's tires or throw all of their belongings into the middle of I-10, choose to thank them for giving you endurance, character, and hope. You WILL make it through this, and you'll come out stronger than you've ever been before. Pray. Pray for the person who hurt you, and pray for yourself. 

Psalm 34:18
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

Hope Gabrielle

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How I'll Prevent My Divorce

I've had a few long term relationships. Some people would call me a "serial dater". But, if there's something that bothers me about that person that I don't believe I'll ever get over, I break up with them. Why? Because you don't want to marry someone when you aren't compatible as a couple in the first place. If you try on a pair of pants at the store and you like how it fits on your legs but hate the way it makes your butt look.. You aren't going to take them home with you anyway and just hope you can squeeze yourself into them after you've lost those two pounds. Why? Because you aren't compatible. Compatibility is so important to realize before the rings, not after. Pay attention to how he treats his mother. Is he clean? Does he drink a lot? Are you too blind to see any flaws beyond his good looks? And for the guys: is she sketchy with her phone? Does she act totally different around her friends? Have people warned you about her? People are making marriages look like a complete joke these days. "Let's just get married and if we can't figure it out in 9 months well get a divorce, no big deal!" A divorce should be the Last resort. After you've tried counseling and literally everything else possible. At one point in time you thought this person was who you wanted to spend your lifetime with. That doesn't just change over a course of months, or it never was real to begin with (which you should've realized before the day you said "I do"). If you've read anything about marriage in the Bible, you'd understand just how sacred marriage is in the eyes of God. Here are a few examples:

Genesis 2:24
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Hebrews 13:4 
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

Proverbs 18:22
He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.

Ephesians 5:25-33 
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. (Such a powerful verse!)

If everyone looked at marriage as the sacred gift that it is, I think my timeline would be filled with less divorce drama. I'm 22 years old. Several people who are my age (some younger, some slightly older)  have already had two husbands and more than one child. Just a little tip here: marrying someone just because you have a child together usually won't work. You actually need love to make a successful marriage. The majority of these girls are getting married after less than a year of knowing someone. I'm not going to lie, that freaks me out. You don't truly know someone in a year. I know this is frowned upon by some people but in my opinion, you should live with someone before committing your life to them and saying those vows. My mother tells me all the time that you don't know someone's true quirks and bad habits or even really know until you're living under the same roof...  And I believe it. EDIT: "Let me simply clarify that not everyone that lives together has sex. That wasn't mentioned anywhere in the blog. Fornication and cohabitation are two totally different subjects. The living together part was only added because of the vast number of couples who choose divorce after realizing their significant other is impossible to live with. 
I for one do not need to live with the man I'm with now before marrying him. I'm huge into details. I know the toppings he prefers on his sandwiches and I know that no matter how many times you tell him to put the toilet seat back down or not splatter water on the bathroom mirror, it'll still happen. I know these things because I know the person that I'm in love with. The living together part was mainly for those who marry someone without knowing their quirks and bad habits. Thank you all so much for the feedback! It's very valuable to me. 
Xoxo, Hope Rodriguez"

Most people begin to argue with their significant other (which eventually gets so awful that it leads to separation or divorce) after the end of the "cupcake phase". The cupcake phase is within the first few months to a year. It is when you get excited over their phone calls, you can text for hours, you want to hug for ten minutes and not let go, and you're flirting with each other nonstop. Once the cupcake phase is over, calls seem inconvenient. You forget to respond to most text messages. Hugs tend to last too long and flirting begins to seem more like a job and not something you enjoy. I've dated guys that would open my doors for me, carry my bags, walk me to my door.. and it was lovely (for the first few months until they stopped). This is when you have to start working on your relationship, or you're going to watch it slowly fail right before your eyes. Despite the fact that you've gotten to know someone intimately, your relationship is steadily falling apart and you don't realize it. The truth is that the more intimately you know someone, the more clearly you'll see their flaws. That's just the way it is. This is why marriages fail. You might think you know someone until you see the way they act when they're out of money or under pressure from work or school or they're hungry, for goodness sake. Love is something different. Love is choosing to serve someone and be with someone in spite of their moody days or the fact that they leave toothpaste in the sink. Love is patient and kind. Love is hard. Love is pain and sacrifice. Love is seeing the darkness in another person and defying the impulse to jump ship and move on to someone else. "For God so loved the world that he gave.." Love is giving. Love means giving up your own preferences and comfort for the sake of someone else's happiness and wellbeing. 

Guys: never stop courting your girl. 
Girls: never stop flirting with your guy.

Don't become a statistic. 

Hope Gabrielle