Alright, alright. I know what you’re thinking as soon as you read the title- “Really? A whole post about a former Disney Channel star with relationship issues? There’s nothing more important we can talk about in today’s world?”

selena-gomez-2013-650-430
Selena Gomez, Billboard Magazine 2013

Well…as it turns out, this is pretty important stuff. Because, when I reflect on the hundreds of conversations I’ve been having lately with young women struggling with relationships and self-worth, it’s a very real, very honest, and very relevant topic to cover.

I want you to first listen/watch this interview with Selena from a few months ago on the Ryan Seacrest radio show: http://bit.ly/1FrMXtc

You’ve probably seen the music video they are referring to, or at least have heard “The Heart Wants What It Wants” on America’s Top 40. I had watched video before I ever heard the song on the radio- and those first few seconds where she is pouring out her heart in such an honest, painful way…unscripted and raw…was what drew me in and made me think- more than the song itself. Her words mirrored what a lot of women have gone through or are going through, and it was powerful, even if people consider it a “publicity stunt” or “over-dramatic”. Being a creative type, I understand how music, words, and imagery can be used as an outlet to express feelings and emotions, especially when going through a particularly difficult situation.

So, what can we learn from Selena Gomez?

1) The heart is deceiving.

Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV) says this: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” How many times have you resolved change a situation, “be stronger next time”, not care what another person says or does, or that you’re “over it” and have “moved on” from something (or someone)…but the moment you are faced with the person or situation again, you crumble? It is not easy to fight your heart. But there’s this amazing peace that comes from living in God’s will, and His holy spirit working in our hearts when something is absolutely right. If you’re pressing in to Him and asking for His will and His way for your life, He’ll remove those things you simply can’t fight on your own. He knows that “the heart wants what it wants”, but He wants something even better for your life, if you’re willing to let Him direct you! We can’t trust our hearts. But we can trust Him.

2) Don’t let a relationship define you.

I know, from both personal experience and from talking with other women, how easy it is to get caught in the trap of defining yourself by your relationship. A few years ago, for a number of reasons, I found myself dating several very manipulative and conniving guys. In retrospect, I can see every red flag and every issue, and think, “Wow, how could I have allowed that for so long?!” But when I was in the relationship, I didn’t realize how their words or actions made me think about myself in so many false ways- thoughts like, I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough…or I was too needy, too emotional, and (my personal favorite!!) “too crazy”. It took several years of really discovering who I was- without a guy– to find out that my worth is not defined by someone else. And that is the greatest lesson you can learn. You are responsible for how you react to things, how you allow yourself to be treated, and for how long you put up with it.

3) Emotions are powerful things.

Yes, I know. Women are known for their emotions. Some are more emotional than others, and you never know if you’re crying over spilled milk or if that was simply the last straw in your day! But emotions drive every human being- anger, happiness, hurt, contentment, love, peace, joy, sorrow, etc. Just as the heart is deceitful and unpredictable, our emotions will tell us things that aren’t necessarily true either. We need to be aware of what makes us react in certain ways, and ask God to give us wisdom and strength to learn to control those reactions and focus on what is true (Philippians 4:8).

4) Actions speak so much louder than words.

Before I really took the time to figure out myself, I relied on what others said about me to define myself and dictate how I felt, or how I should change. Not only was that wrong, but it was harmful to my self-esteem on so many levels. I’m a words-person. If you’ve ever read “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, you know exactly

The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman
The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman

what I’m talking about: I put a lot of trust and stock in what people say rather than what they do. And knowing that about myself is such a powerful thing! People can promise you the moon, but they rarely ever follow through. What good is a relationship that is all empty words?

5) And sometimes, you have to figure things out for yourself.

“Save your advice, ’cause I won’t hear; You might be right, but I don’t care.” –  from “The Heart Wants What It Wants”

Everyone has an opinion about what you should do, how you should handle a situation, or what direction to take. Everyone has a story, an anecdote from personal experience, or has heard from their best friend’s mother’s sister’s friend that you should be do this or that.

But in the end?

It’s your story. It’s your experience. And only you have the power to change and adapt. No one can make you change…you have to want it for yourself. You have to be willing to take the journey to understand who you are and what you were made for. And the only relationship that can teach you, strengthen you, and take you beyond what you could ever ask or imagine is the one you have with your Creator.