Posted: June 30th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, hope |
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Sometimes the highs are so high that it makes the lows devastating. We’ve asked for so much and received more than we asked so we say we’ll let the lows slide. We won’t talk about those. But the lows get so long that we stop talking altogether. We sink within ourselves and become forgetful. We forget where we were going. We forget what it felt like to know.
We forget that we can pray about this, too. God doesn’t divide His grace. Grace, like His love, renews itself every morning. Yesterday’s grace was for yesterday. Today’s is for today.
You don’t have to ration your pain to Him. He can take all of it. He can take your doubt, your forgetfulness, you weakness, and your apathy. He can take anything you dish out because He sees past all that. He sees His you.
Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all. -2 Corinthians 6:2-10
My favorite line: “…terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead.”
You have experienced His grace and became alive in His love, but you still have people who talk about you like you’re still in your sin. You’re terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead. I am one of you. I have an entire community of my old church friends who still think of me as dead. But, I’m not I’m terrifically alive. They think I’ve lost something, but I’ve found something I never had when they knew me. It sets me ablaze.
Don’t you remember the young love? Everything was on fire and reminded you of Him. Don’t get old and tired. You’re still a bride.
I once heard that a quick cure for a winter slump is to wear tanning lotion, just for the summer smell. When you renew your love, you go back to the perfume, the restaurant, the song. Let the younger version of you give you a pep talk.
You’re ablaze, even in your sorrow. You’re ablaze in the low. These lows are here to strengthen you. They teach you practical lessons because you’re still a student. Lows tune you.
Come on. You have today. Do everything you can with the one day you have. Everything is renewed tomorrow, you’ll have everything you need then.
Don’t be afraid—you’re not going to be embarrassed. Don’t hold back—you’re not going to come up short. You’ll forget all about the humiliations of your youth…-Isaiah 54:3-4
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Posted: June 28th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: aftermath, think |
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Within the Christian subculture is this overwhelming message of the importance of community. I agree. Having friends who can encourage you in your journey of faith, who can challenge you, and help keep you focused is a huge benefit. We need people. We need to know that we’re loved, unconditionally, and that there isn’t anything that we could go through that someone else hasn’t faced, too.
I love the idea of small groups. Small groups for moms, for dads, for people who work out, for people who play music, for people who have been divorced, addicted, broken, etc. The possibilities go on and on. It’s group therapy. We’re not alone and communities can provide a safe place to unearth emotions, fears, struggles, and failures. We can encourage each other and that safe space of honesty can be really healing.
These communities can also be really damaging. They’re damaging when they’re more about conformity and less about the Gospel. They’re damaging when they’re more about appearance and less about the heart. They’re damaging when they’re no longer about honesty in weakness and more about the illusion of almost perfection. They can tear a person down when you have to filter your relationship with God through the opinions of those in your group.
In all of the good, there is potential for something really traumatizing. The nature of Christian relationships is built on complete openness and letting the depth surface so that it can be healed. The only way this is possible is through the unconditional love of God. People expect His love to be played out in the lives of His children, in this context: through their relationships. However, people make mistakes with each other and focus more on His demands for right living and less on His command to love and offer restorative grace.
When people are wide open like that, the hits don’t have to be hard for their impact to be paralyzing. We tear down our walls in church, so there is nothing to protect us from the pain of rejection. Any group that focuses on grace is accused of being soft on sin. What we need to be reminded of is that grace makes it possible to be completely honest about our sin. We don’t have to dumb it down or justify it to deem it forgivable. Honesty sets people free from the weight of self-justification. When people open up in honesty, sometimes their community can focus more on the sin, forgetting that they wouldn’t even know about it unless the person was honest.
Sometimes people in churches can make the Gospel feel like a ‘bait and switch’ con. They tell you to “come just as you are”, but don’t make any mistakes. It’s hard to watch a group of people go half way across the world to tell people that God loves them, that Jesus can forgive anything they’ve done, but then deny it in their personal relationships at home.
I know this isn’t the case in all Christian communities. People who know how to love others do exist. They’re just kind of hard to find. I think that if you’ve been hurt in your Christian relationships, then it’s hard to trust. For some, the word “Christian” does not conjure up visions of warm people with inviting arms. It conjures up visions of cynical judgements and cold shoulders. It’s damaging when you go to church thinking that you can find a community that won’t crush you with what you’ve done wrong, but find a community that won’t let you be an active participant because of your failures. It’s like finding out that the One who will always take you back, won’t. It feels hopeless in condemnation. It feels like a message of complete rejection from God.
If there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, then the message of condemnation is absent of Christ. It’s a fight of faith to believe the still small voice of truth over the overwhelming rejection of community.
Here is an interesting quote I ran across recently:
“People who attend services regularly but lack friends in the congregation are worse off [mental health-wise] than those who do not go at all.”-Sandra Upson
That quote isn’t about spiritual health, it’s about mental health, and I think it’s an interesting observation. I think that a lot of people can attest to that.
No matter what, the Truth wins. There isn’t a person in your own personal jeering section that can take the truth of God’s love from you. It would be a good time to consider who your ultimate relationship is with: God, or His people? No person or group of people can be enough for you and they will all fail you, just like you fail them.
We all mess up with each other. Just don’t let your experience turn you away from God. He’s not like that. Build up the truth in you and then, when the timing is right, get back in there. Be the difference for someone else. Until then, don’t beat yourself up about no being a part of a physical church. Grow in your wilderness. You’re still part of the spiritual church (the real church) and it’s much bigger than you may think.
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Posted: June 26th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, purpose |
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Difficulty reveals character. It’s what is exposed when all of your shallowness is hidden in the shadows while the depth of who you are gets exposed by stress. People don’t buy umbrellas on sunny days. When the rain comes, it drowns the hairspray of pretense and reveals the natural texture. Those who love you find beauty in what you thought were flaws.
You thought the mountain was manageable, but then a cloudy day turned into a storm. Your equipment breaks, your stuff gets stolen, and you don’t have enough to fix it or replace it. But, the mountain is still there and you still have to climb it. When it rains, it pours and you hope it just comes in three’s, but it doesn’t. You’ve lost count. Maybe it’s just the three worst. But it’s all so annoyingly inconvenient that it’s hard to distinguish which is worse.
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” -John 12:27
Any wisdom you may find is only borrowed.
There is purpose in difficulty and it is for that purpose that this difficulty has come. You thought you could get ahead, but it seems that every step forward is against a current. If crisis reveals character and testing increases faith, then the current is there to strengthen you. It seems you can’t get through, but every day passes and it’s one day closer to who-knows-what because it’s not crushing you. It’s not cruelty to be able to survive for another day of fighting the current.
It’s beautiful to finally reach your place of rest, that level ground after a long climb, and know that you got through it, but not be able to explain how. The lack of words is a pregnant silence. All those who have been there will know. You can see it in their eyes and you can see yourself more clearly in the reflection.
“You can always recognize who has been through the fires of sorrow and received himself, and you know that you can always go to him in your time of trouble and find that he has plenty of time for you.” -Oswald Chambers
We’re all in this together, but the hardest part is the one you have to do when you feel the most alone. You’re gong to get through it. And when you do, carve your name in the side of the mountain before you move on to your next destination. Leave a legacy next to the legacy of others so that the collection of names lets those who come after you know that they’re not the only ones.
Difficulty reveals character. It’s the most difficult when all the stuff you’ve been relying on to get you through gets taken away. What do you have now? Nothing but God, and that’s the way He wants it. Like a mother with an infant, He removes your toys and your blankets when He holds you the closest.
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Posted: June 9th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, hope |
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Her alarm was set on early, but stress woke her up long before. She denied her consciousness for sixty-eight minutes, but her thoughts were too loud to ignore. Early risers are things she can’t control, insults she can’t return, and inevitable she can’t slow down. She prays to drown out their voices, though there’s no answer that she’s looking for. She’s the girl watching the sun rise through the slats of her wooden shades, wanting to be comforted.
She thinks, “I just have to make it through this summer.” But she doesn’t know that if she doesn’t find joy in the moments, she’s going to lose these months to a black abyss of needless worry. “D-day” comes no matter what kind of days surround it. Stress and worry won’t make it less stressful, or give less cause for worry. Those who stress are on to nothing. There is no wisdom in fear.
Through the cracks, the sun asks her a question, “Did I not rise today?”
She has been given all that she needs for this one day. Looking at the looming months, this one day is hopeless. It’s worthless. It can be wasted without a single person knowing it’s gone. Looking at this one day by itself, however…it has worth. The sun came up. Today has hope.
“One day at a time…” is her mantra. She’ll do what she can with the one day she’s given.
“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.”-Luke 12:29-32 MSG
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Posted: June 8th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: advice, aftermath, bitterness, faith, forgive, freedom, grace, healing, hope, love wins, sin |
13 Comments »
A few years ago, I had an affair that ended my marriage. All of my Christian friends will have nothing to do with me and I can’t get them to even talk to me.
What are we supposed to do in that situation? I know that God has forgiven me and changed me through this, but they don’t see it and they keep denying His power in my life. It crushes me. I know I was wrong, but they are, too. …
It’s hard to understand when people refuse to see the grace in your life the way you feel it. Sometimes it’s a battle to believe it for yourself. The bullets are still flying at you after the cease fire was called. It’s even worse when people you looked up to, who should know better, deny everything they preach with the way they treat you.
Times like this reveal a person’s true character. Sometimes it’s hard to watch it go down.
The trap to avoid is the urge to withhold grace from those who withhold grace from you. Grace doesn’t wait for the person to fix themselves. It doesn’t choose between bad and really bad. You should be an expert in that.
Don’t do anything you’ll have to apologize for later.
Nobody can take away what God has given you. It’s time to let God take care of your validation. He has His own timing for everything.
If you focus on the pain they’re causing you and are continually feeling like you’re being mistreated, then you will not get past focusing on yourself. It breeds bitterness.
This isn’t a battle between people, don’t let yourself sink to that level. You’re in a spiritual battle of faith. The battle is against resentment, self-pity, and entitlement. The battle is to believe Jesus when everyone else denies Him.
Every time someone attacks you, hell is trying to get you to doubt the power of the sacrifice of Jesus. That’s what is really going on. They taste the bile on their tongues and they think that’s the way your name tastes. They don’t know that the bile comes from inside them. As long as they don’t say your name, they don’t taste the bile. If they don’t taste the bile, then they never have to face their own disease of unbelief.
God is bringing them through their own journey, and this situation may be a big part of that. Be merciful because you know what mercy is. Be graceful because you know what grace is. Allow them the room to make mistakes and learn from them, just like you have.
Nobody who keeps a ledger of sins committed against them has a clue who God is.
You may never get your friends back. It’s a fact of life. I know it hurts and it may take a long time to accept, but just because you accept it doesn’t mean it will be set it in stone. I just frees you to be positive and productive while everything finds a place to land. Maybe they’ll come around, maybe you’ll be a little old lady when you get the call. But, maybe that will never happen on this side of life’s curtain. You have to let yourself heal without them. Let the scars seal in the good memories and don’t let the bad one’s infect it.
Remember, affairs are not just a religious horror, it is a horrible thing for anybody in any walk. It’s never okay. You have no idea what you’re mistakes have caused others to face in their own lives. Women whose husbands have strayed, but they’re working it out: you represent pain to them. To them, it feels like you undermine their fight for healing. Everyone is different and their takeaway value from your experience is going to reflect what is going on inside of them. Let it play out, it’s going to anyway. God knows what’s going on and He always gets His way. Relax in that. Find the freedom in the release.
You’re going to be okay. If He says you’re free, you’re free.
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