Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Charlottesville, VA

October 17, 2019

Life Changes I've Made for My Faith.

     Despite the fact that my Christian faith is one of the biggest parts of my life, I don't often write about faith topics in depth on the blog. I often let my insecurities get the best of me in this area of life, and tell myself that I'm unqualified to speak so publicly on Christian topics. I also know that a lot of you who read here don't share my religious views- and I always want Southern Belle in Training to be a place where all feel welcomed (and hopefully I can share my faith with you in a loving and not pushy way). Anyways, the idea to do this blog post has been on my heart for a good few months now, so I'm finally pushing through my nerves and just doing it! This is a pretty personal post but hopefully it'll make you think and maybe consider some things about your own faith journey.





     I've been a Christian since middle school, but I would say I've taken my faith a lot more seriously since finishing college and broadcasting school. I never stopped being a Christian in high school or college (I was actually very involved in various churches and bible studies for all those years), but I definitely had some non-Christian friends at various points that I allowed to influence me in negative ways, and I certainly wasn't always prioritizing faith and a Christian lifestyle like I do now. Anyways- I think it was really when I moved to Vermont two and a half years ago for my first full-time job that my faith really became a cornerstone of my life, and it's remained that way since. 

     One thing that I've been personally focusing on a lot in my own faith journey in 2019 is holiness. I recently heard a phenomenal podcast episode all about holiness that I highly recommend you listen to. It's Episode 62 from the Real Christianity podcast by Dale and Veronica Partridge. (I have listened to a lot of episodes from their podcast- I don't agree with Dale and Veronica's stance on all faith and Christian lifestyle topics, but on this specific podcast episode they HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD so much.) I loved this episode so much I listened to it twice! I highly recommend listening to it on your own- but one point that they make in it is that a desire for holiness is something that's really missing from a lot of Christian churches these days. Christians should be living their lives differently then those not of faith, not making excuses for how different sins are okay. 

     This podcast episode also talked a lot about how pursuing holiness is different from legalism. Legalism is a dangerous theology where laws and rules are put above a person's faith in Jesus. "Following the rules" isn't what gives us our salvation and eternal life in heaven. Every human is a sinner, and we will always fall short of perfection. That's a fact and points to the dangers of legalism! Our good works and trying to avoid sin aren't what get us to Heaven. What does get us there is100% God and God only! So then why should Christians still pursue holiness if God does forgive sins and we don't need legalism? Because we love Him so much, and want our lives to reflect our love of the Lord, and to positively influence others.


     Now we jump into a bit of my own personal story- I've always had very strong convictions about waiting to have sex until I'm married.  I've pretty much had these convictions since middle school when I became a Christian. πŸ˜‚Yes- I'm 25 and still a virgin which I'm sure sounds so weird to a lot of you, but it's something that I'm personally proud of sticking to. 
     (Side note here: if staying abstinent until marriage isn't your personal belief- the point of this blog post isn't to shame you! God still loves you exactly the same, whatever your views are on this.A lot of my friends and even family members don't share my view on that, and I still love them lots!) 

      As proud of I am for sticking to my views on how I think physical and intimate relationships align with the Christian faith... I think for many years I let this one thing be more important that other areas of my life and behavior. It's something that's even been brought to my attention by close friends before. For a long time (really until this year), I believed that since I was checking all the boxes with my life on having a Christian view about abstinence, I didn't have to be as strict or pursue holiness as much in other aspects of my life. I would justify things like being materialistic sometimes or frequently using language that didn't glorify God or being selfish in how I handled certain situations... and convincing myself that it was all fine, because I'd still be going to church on Sundays, involved a bible study, and not having sex. Check, check, and check- so anything else seemed fair game. 

    Ugh- I feel embarrassed just typing that out here on my blog, but it's the truth. Anyways- let's finally get into the whole point of today's post. God has been convicting me so much in 2019 about holiness! He has completely wrecked me and taught me that I need to surrender all parts of my life to pursuing holiness as much as possible. I'm not making these life changes for legalistic reasons- because changes or not it won't change God's perspective of me. He loves all his children the same (Yes- that means you reading! You are so loved by God!) and He allows all of us the opportunity to repent for our pasts, no matter what sins we have done! (Isn't that an amazing blessing?) I'm choosing to pursue holiness instead because of my love for God. He is my number one, and I want my life to be a reflection of my faith and lead others to Christ! Live with Jesus is the best thing in the world- I don't know how I would've survived some of the past few years if I didn't have the hope of Him. He is so good, and I want all my lifestyle choices to reflect this. 😊I hope that makes sense! 

     Anyways, here are the recent life changes I've made with my faith in mind:

     1. Tithing 10% of my income: The one thing that was always really hard for me to surrender to God was my finances. I am very Type A and love being in control, especially with financial stuff. I'm extremely proud of the fact that I paid off my student loans before my 25th birthday, and I've never in my life been late on a bill or had credit card debt. My main priority for the last few years has been eliminating my loans (while still being able to travel and do fun stuff, too!). I was very blessed in the fact I didn't have much student debt compared to a lot of my friends, but I did still have some from college, and I paid for my broadcasting school program postgrad completely on my own, so I had debt from that too. This post obviously isn't about how I paid those off (another post for another day!), but since I mainly prioritized paying off my loans for the past few years, I severely decreased tithing from my monthly budget. There were even some months where I didn't tithe at all. I made a super low salary at my first job in Vermont, and still am not rich by any standards in my current job, but God's commands on tithing don't just apply to the wealthy! God's people being commanded to tithe 10% of income is mentioned several times throughout the Old Testament, and Jesus himself affirms this in the New Testament in Matthew 23:23. I began tithing 10% of my income monthly last month in September, and it feels like a huge weight off my shoulders to finally be trusting God's direction with my finances. This is a new habit in my life that I don't ever plan on removing.

     2. Avoiding foul language: As a kid, I used to hate swearing or people taking God's name in vain. When I was in 9th grade, I used to frequently complain to my mom about how many f-bombs and other bad language choices I'd hear per day around the halls of my high school, and how much I disliked it. By the end of high school, I had become a hypocrite and I was cursing frequently. I'd let the influence of those around me taint my speech. And that continued... pretty much until this year when God really convicted me of it. I always tried to be cognizant over where I was using that language (I think it's really inappropriate to curse in the workplace for example, or around people you just met.), but it doesn't really matter where specifically I would speak like that, what matters is it was happening often. It wasn't always coming out of my actual mouth- but texting someone this type of language is exactly the same. Whether speaking it verbally or writing bad language- neither are pursuing holiness! 
     There are so many bible verses that speak about the importance of uplifting and God-honoring language, and the evils of taking the Lord's name in vain or speaking with other crude language. I'm not going to list each and every one here, but Proverbs 4:24, Exodus 20:7 and Ephesians 4:7 are a great place to start for God's wisdom on this topic. Have I been doing a perfect job the past few months of never swearing? Nope. I still mess up from time to time (Especially when driving and I get frustrated with other drivers... you've been there I'm sure!). But I am making a definitive effort to work on this, and especially to clean up my language choices over texting. I've been so, so lucky to find such an amazing group of Christian girlfriends in Charlottesville, and one of the things I love about them is how little they use this type of language! It truly is refreshing to find such great adult friends that inspire me to be better in this area. 

     3. Discernment in my media choices: This has definitely been the hardest one for me out of these three areas, and I have a feeling it'll always be something hard in this current culture. For this subject, Philippians 4:8 comes to mind. "Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,  whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things." (NIV) Take a moment to really think about this verse. Now think about the TV shows and movies you watch, music and podcasts you listen to, magazines and books you read. Is the content of these items aligning with biblical values and things that would please God? Or is it glorifying sinful behavior?
     One area that I've been super convicted in over the last few months is my music choices. Don't worry- I'm not turning into someone who will only listen to Christian music haha!! (I work in adult contemporary radio and not planning to change that.) I love all types of music: pop, country, international, soft rock, and many more genres too. One type of music that I really got into in college was rap. I never really liked it growing up, but it was pretty much all rap music that I'd hear at nightclubs in Charlotte once I turned 21. I started to memorize the lyrics to these popular songs, and listen to them all the time: on the radio, while working out, while studying, etc. Rap songs can be really catchy, and for a lot of those songs when I hear them I have positive associations with fun college memories. But that doesn't change what the lyrics were that I was singing. Crude and disgusting language, with vivid descriptions of drunkenness, drug use, sexual content... and worse! Even the radio edit versions of a lot of popular music aren't completely clean, they might not have swears but there can still be very crass sexual lyrics.
     Recently, I completely cleaned up my Spotify. Don't worry- I still have mostly non-Christian music on my playlists! To be honest- I think people that only listen to Christian music are definitely legalistic- and that's what I want to avoid. But what I did do is go through each and every song on my most listened to playlists, and removed songs with bad language or that were too sexually suggestive. A song might be a good song musically, but I want the type of music that I consume to be reflective of my faith. 
    The same thing applies to what TV shows I'm watching and books I'm reading. I bought a book at a used bookstore on the beach while I was home in Maine this summer, and was looking forward to reading it during my vacation. It looked like a lighthearted romance novel from the description, but I got a couple chapters into it and the content got very inappropriate. Instead of continuing to read it, I stopped! Same with a TV show that I recently started watching on Netflix. It had come recommended from a couple friends and I watched the first few episodes, but I couldn't find anything redeeming or Godly about the plot lines and behavior of the characters, so I stopped. It is pretty tough to find good TV or movies these days that are 100% clean (and not totally corny like Hallmark movies can be). I realize that a lot of my favorite shows do feature behaviors in them that might not align biblically. The key I'm trying to focus on is if there are still mainly redeeming factors in the plot. If yes, then I'll still watch. An example of this for me would be the ABC drama A Million Little Things, which I love. Is all the content of the show biblical? Nope! But is the overall plotline of the show positive? To me- yes. It's a show that highlights the important bonds of family and friends, and how we come together to get through the tough stuff. Whereas other shows, like the one I tried watching on Netflix earlier this year, didn't seem to have any positive character role models or redeeming lessons that could be learned from watching. So that's how I've been making TV/movie distinctions! Thinking about the relationship of faith/holiness and culture is also a big reason why I stopped watching Bachelor franchise shows a couple years ago after being obsessed with them for a long time- but that's a whole topic for another post. πŸ˜‰


     Wow okay- this sure has turned into a novel, as a lot of my more personal blog posts do! Thank you if you made it this far with reading. Again- if you don't share my religious beliefs or all the same convictions and morals I do, please know that the purpose of today's post isn't to shame anyone, it's simply to share how God has been working on my heart this year. I am always nervous to share my thoughts on faith topics since they can be decisive, so I hope this is well received. As always- I would love to hear your thoughts!


     God Bless,


     xoxo Annaliese 
     








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7 comments

  1. I love this post! Definitely had the same experience with crude language! Thanks for sharing, Annalise!

    - Gigi
    https://studyinglifewithgigi.wordpress.com

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  2. Dang, girl. Way to go for posting this and it's super helpful. As a Catholic, I've often seen non-Catholic Christians as legalistic/moralistic, which I've found frustrating even when so many other aspects of their lives are super compelling and attractive. Thanks for bringing the focus on holiness to light. It's something non-quantifiable which helps box-checkers like myself. One question I have to constantly ask myself is- "Do people in my life know that I belong to Christ?" It doesn't have to mean that I'm constantly carrying a banner but it can be discreet yet profound in the way I live. Thanks for the reminder :)

    www.basicbritt.com

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  3. I am so proud of you for publishing this post! I need to listen to this podcast you suggested, it sounds amazing. I also love your view points and changes you’ve made. I love that you’re waiting for marriage. That is very rare in this world and refreshing. I admire that so much.

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  4. This was an amazing post friend! What a perfect reminder that "holiness" is really asking if our life reflects a God who loves us. Can people see what I believe by the way I live and what I surround my life with? Important questions! So proud of you!

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  5. This is a great post Annalise! You have the courage to put these feelings in your blog for all of us to see - way to go my friend. I read every word and you made me think! Congrats on this wonderful post.

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  6. I loveeee that you shared this! As a fellow believer it can be so hard to incorporate my faith into my blog. I love when I can, but it's definitely intimidating.

    This post was so good! Those things are so hard to keep yourself accountable of too. Even staying sexually pure can be so difficult at times.
    Also, loved how you made sure to clarify legalism. All around great post!

    XO
    Mariah
    http://moosmusing.com

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  7. Love this so much! We are guilty of not tithing. We need to get back to do it. God blesses us so much, so we should definitely be giving back to Him!

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