QUESTION: What are your values?
In other words, what are the standards at which you have chosen to live your life? I’m not asking for your goals, but for the values you currently keep. The ones you live by today. When asked this question it seems all too easy to name off a list of standards that we wish we had. For example, someone could say that these are their current values, when their reality is in parenthesis:
- Always forgive (except to that one family member that hurt me the most)
- Integrity (except when filing my taxes)
- Faithfulness (until there is another option available)
- Love people (but, only the one’s that make it easy)
- Don’t judge others (unless it’s only in your mind)
- Seek Contentment (until I get into a relationship)
- Trust God (only if I feel comfortable with where my life is headed)
- Purity (unless we really love each other)
- Humility (until someone challenges my abilities)
- Peacemaker (unless I’m angry)
- Diligent hands (unless I see a short cut)
- Generosity (unless I don’t feel like tithing that week)
These are just a couple of examples, but in these cases our values are only valid “if” the surrounding circumstance is convenient enough for us. And if they are not, then we add our “except when” or “only when” statements. This is dangerous. Our values should never be influenced by our current circumstances. Because circumstances always change! If we make them circumstantial, then we cannot call them values. We can call them “this is what I know is right, but if I don’t feel like it then hey, no one is perfect.” We see this mindset a lot in dysfunctional marriages that lead to divorce. A vow of faithfulness is made when the couple is in a good place, but when the unforeseen challenging times come years down the line, one (or both) is tempted to be unfaithful. Faithfulness was a verbally stated value until the circumstance became more difficult. And at some point, we have all been at fault for doing this to some degree! But, our goal is to work through this in order to learn, mature and choose to live out our values no matter what our circumstances are.
I COMPROMISED MY VALUES
I will be extremely transparent with you regarding my experience in this area. I can pinpoint and recall multiple times in my life where I chose to forsake and compromise my personal values in order to please others or simply my own appetite. Growing up I was considered a good kid. Even into Jr. high I didn’t use profanity, was in advanced classes, I had a strong relationship with God, and chose to surround myself with positive kids. And I remember standing firm in my values. I had made the decision to stay away from the sex, drugs, and other foul play simply because I knew those things always lead to hurt/shame and that God had a better life planned for me. Even when making these values extremely clear to my peers, I remember the day I was surrounded by a group of friends when a boy randomly asked me if I was REALLY planning on staying pure until I was married. He asked it in a tone suggesting that I would be crazy to try and convince him that I was serious in wanting that. And up until that very moment I could have easily answered that question: “um, YES!” But, out of embarrassment and fear of what others might say, I just shrugged and timidly responded, “I don’t know.” You know, this may seem like such a minor thing in your mind, but this was just the beginning of many compromises that led me down a path full of brokenness and emptiness… I also remember when I started cussing every other word, because there was this really pretty, popular girl that I looked up to who did the same. After that, I remember the night I accepted my first drink of alcohol, because I decided to date the party boy (another compromise) which led to an alcohol problem. I remember the first time I ditched school with my new friends (I was terrified of getting caught), and pretty soon my parents received a letter from the school threatening to send me to court because I was never at school. I remember the first semester I chose to drop all my honors classes to make more time for my friends, and by senior year I wasn’t sure if I would be able to graduate. I remember dating a pastor’s kid right out of high school and had convinced myself that because he was a christian guy, compromising everything else was OK. I could name a thousand of these moments. EVERY single time I let go of the values I desired for my life I was left broken, full of shame and regret.
Remember, every addiction, and dysfunctional behavior pattern starts with a temptation that leads to a small decision of compromising your values. It starts off innocent and builds up. And it is a slow fade of losing the person you were meant to be. No one takes their first sip of alcohol believing they will soon be an alcoholic. No one genuinely makes an oath of faithfulness on their wedding day knowing that their spouse would leave them in 3 years, because they made the choice to have an affair.
And when speaking of values, standards and behavior it seems all too easy to get defensive. It is easy for someone to point out that a moralistic lifestyle is not the goal, works do not justify you before the Lord and that we are covered in His grace. And um, yeah! Absolutely we are, but that doesn’t mean that God didn’t so plainly warn us of the consequences of our sin. And these warnings are purely for the sake of protecting us from the pain, chaos and brokenness that our own sin leads to.
So, to reiterate:
- No, you do not need to live a perfectly moral life to be unconditionally loved by our Heavenly Father. That is purely because of what He did on the cross to cover our sins.
- And no, we do not strive for perfection in order to please God or somehow prove ourselves worthy before Him. God is clear: you just need faith to please Him.
- And no, I will not even begin to try and say that living a life without any form of compromise or sin is even remotely possible for anyone. Again, perfection is not an obtainable goal.
Although, I DO know that God loves us enough to warn us in order to protect us from the aftermath of sin. Sin will undoubtedly lead to chaos and brokenness. And when your values line up with God’s, then you are protected from A LOT of hardship that your sin would have led to. How many times has our own sin caused us to separate OURSELVES from God just out of shame?
WHY NOT COMPROMISE?
And the goal is to live and learn. If you have had a moment of compromise in your past, then don’t let go of what you have learned! The worse thing we can do is put ourselves through the same compromises again and again which lead to the same result. It is important to broaden our perspective to God’s view in these moments. God sees where this compromise will lead you down the line and if you were thinking that far ahead, you wouldn’t even consider it.
This is why I have turned down some modeling opportunities in the past. They were requesting that I expose my body and no matter how many followers, how much money or attention it would gain, I had to decline. And some may call me a prude, which is fine, but I refuse to people-please in these moments. I decline because I think of the young girls that look up to me, the same way I looked up to that girl who couldn’t stop cussing. I want them to understand they are beautiful and valuable without having to compromise their dignity for anyone. I also consider my future husband in these moments. I desire to spare him from the pain that it would cause him later and I want him to know that I was thinking of him even though I didn’t know him yet. BTW, this is just my personal example. You may have different temptations to compromise your values, but just remember that you will never regret sticking to them and that you always feel regret when you do.
With that being said, I challenge you to:
- First define what you WANT your own personal values to be. What are the things that you do not want to waiver on in life? Your personal values could be a result of your past experiences or what God has revealed/taught you in life. I would suggest praying about them and really spending time in His word. By reading what is important to Him, you are then able to find what is important to you.
- After you have established your values, it now time to make a decision of commitment to yourself. This commitment is personal and the purpose is to keep your dignity no matter how many times the world tries to steal it from you. Pinpoint the areas of your life that demand your compromise and choose God’s values in that moment.
LOVE YOU GUYS!