If you don't love someone how they are right now... you don't love them at all.
Relationships are funny things. We have so many different kinds of relationships: family, spouse, friend, sister, co-worker, niece, mom, dad, etc. All of them take work.
We have all heard that "relationships take work." That phrase is probably accepted as a universal truth. I agree that "relationships take work." I think somewhere along the line this phrase gets mistranslated. In my own mind, I have adopted the "relationships take work" truth and made it a justification for the expectations that I put on those around me. My thought pattern in relationships can go something like this: He should compliment more. She should come to my house. She should reciprocate, because I payed last time. They should appreciate me. He should know better. If she doesn't pursue the friendship, I'm letting her go. I just want him to listen. I just want her to share more. I can't believe they kept that from me. I told him he shouldn't do that. I don't respect that. Last time...
How can my thought life revolve around the work that OTHERS should do to maintain a relationship with me? The longer I live, the more I realize that selfishness is in my DNA. It consumes me, just as it does you. We can take perfectly good advice for promoting relationships and turn it into promoting self.
Yes, relationships take work. But let me add... from ME! I need to work at relationships! What should this thought pattern look like? The bible outlines it perfectly in 1 Corinthians 13:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Wait you mean my relationship with ________ (fill in the blank) is not for them to jump through my hoops to please me? Nope... it isn't. Actually God's word clearly says the opposite.
If you don't love them as they are right now... you don't love them at all.
Lord, help me to love... like You do. I know relationships take work. Lord, help me to work ...like You do. May the excess of Your love in my life pour out in every relationship I have. In Jesus name, Amen.
I don't know where it came from, but I know it exists. I am talking about a false idea. I myself and so many women I know have this idea that romance is our right. I am supposed to be pursued, wooed, loved, complimented, wined and dined. I think this idea came from the literary concept of "courtly love" which includes a knight in shining armor rescue.
Now don't get me wrong. I have NO problem with a knight in shining armor. I wish EVERYONE a happy love story. The truth is, I have mine. My husband moved me to love in my teenage years. He stirred me then and now.
The idea that I am talking about comes after the initial pursuit. It can happen during dating...but it really settles in nicely after a few years of marriage. This idea is that a woman should RECEIVE romance. A woman shouldn't have to light candles, or flame romance. A woman should always RECEIVE it. It is our entitlement. If a man REALLY loved me, he would always be in pursuit of ME.
I recently watched "The Bachelorette" on television. If you are not familiar with the story line, a young woman in search of love has 24 men to choose from. All of the men clamor for her attention and she chooses one at the end. It is considered a "reality" TV show. (Although the reality of such a show could surely be questioned) Anyways, I enjoyed watching it. At some point during the season, I started to feel the weeds of discontentment crawl around my heart and start to squeeze.
I couldn't tell you what exactly I was jealous of. In real life, I have a hard time ever pin pointing what makes me jealous of another. It is usually a general feeling that I am not getting what I deserve. I think attention has a lot to do with it. My husband and I are approaching our tenth anniversary and with 3 small children, we don't give each other the same attention that we once did. (I am sure he will read this along with the rest of you.. so Hi Mike I love you.)
Those discontented feelings caused me to evaluate my heart. There I found this idea. This FALSE idea. I could blame it on storybooks, movies, the media, or the devil. But there it was: I AM SUPPOSED TO BE PURSUED FOREVER. IT IS MY HUSBANDS JOB TO MAKE ME HAPPY. MY HUSBAND SHOULD BE MORE ROMANTIC.
Whoa. I did not like the looks of my own selfish heart. I remembered the "bachelorette" saying at some point, "I don't want to let the right one get away." I started to think about myself. Is it possible (after 10 years of marriage to one man) for me to let the right one get away. Suddenly, I realized that it is possible for me to have the man of my dreams sitting right in front of me...and let him get away.
I could with the absence of my own effort allow the distancing of our hearts. I felt moved and convicted to romance my husband. Instantly the list of "things I used to do for him" seemed way longer than the short list of things I was throwing myself a pity party for missing. I used to set out and iron his clothes, call him to chat, touch him for no reason, ask him if he needs something, make his plate, light candles, play music, compliment WAY more, pray for him, want to know his dreams and goals, bring him coffee, make him lunch, flirt... OH MY WORD!
Now, yes, my husband should romance me too, but men know that and are always held accountable for that in our culture. Women on the other hand, have the idea that it is NOT my job. Who says? I don't believe it. Love is the business of giving. Who can resist it's power? There is nothing wrong with making yourself lovable. Husbands and wives often take turns having the extra energy and emotion to give. Out of generous hearts filled and motivated by the boundless love of Christ... a marriage flourishes. The romance never runs out with both members filling it up.
So, pursue your husband. Love him in deed, and build him up in your heart. God Bless,
I have spent a lot of time in the last week processing emotions. Sometimes, emotions come completely unexpected and throw me for a loop. While other times, emotions come from a constant drip that never seemed like much until I am flooded with the feeling. Both kinds of emotions are real and need to be put through my processor: "What do I feel?," "Why do I feel this way?" All of this processing has led me to self reflection. I have come up with a few certainties about myself:
my flaws are also my strengths
emotions do not always reflect my CURRENT circumstances, but they reflect a part of me
I started writing the above paragraphs months ago. My emotions got in the way, and I couldn't clear my thoughts. =) Now I feel like those waves of emotions have passed.
Isn't it strange how as a woman emotions and beauty are constant battles? I would NOT have admitted relating to girls or women in my youth: I spent my time with boys saying that girls were "annoying" and "drama." I would never admit to being vain: beauty is a waste of time. I struggled with submission and what God says about women being the "weaker partner" (1 Peter 3:7).
Funny how I eventually had to admit being a part of this group. Women and girls became the ones who naturally understood me and my struggles. I thought I wasn't vain, until my body changed having children and I realized I have always cared about the way I look. Dealing with submission, my husband showed me what love is, and then submission made sense. I realized that the protective nature of a man and the power of a woman to encourage and help are part of a beautiful plan for marriage.
I am a woman and that is emotional and beautiful.
I found a poem to go along with my thoughts today:
Time-Tested Beauty Tips
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; Never throw out anybody.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!
The Time Warp Wife posted this poem and it resonated with me.
There is no such thing as arriving. A house is never clean.
In whatever it is that we want in life... there just isn't a time when something is "finished." Yes, sure there is completion of tasks, but then life happens. Stuff gets undone. Houses get dirty. Learning gets forgotten. Emotions don't last. Money falls through your hands like sand. Ideal weights become what I used to weigh.
It feels like everything I do in life gets undone. Raising 3 very small children magnifies these feelings by a thousand, because everything I do gets undone by threes. The monotony of laundry, dishes, meals, diapers, wardrobe changes, discipline, and repeat can make a person feel crazy.
I have been struggling with this concept lately. To the people close to me, I have been complaining about lacking productivity and a sense of worth. I thought I was past this... I already lived my teenage years. I accomplished stuff. I got a degree. I taught school with all its ratings and reports for both me and my students. I led Bible study. I had my list of "completed" things.
The funny thing is that even my list of "completed" things did not stick. Yes, I still have my little list of accomplishments, but the fulfillment I found actually came from the process of doing them. A sense of purpose does not last because you were once the person who did something great. It comes from doing what you are doing for God's glory: serve others as unto the Lord.
So, where does all of this lead? ... Let's store up treasures in heaven.
Set Your Heart there.
Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Even degrees don't give what God does.
Colossians 2:2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.
Clean the house anyways... and give the glory to God.
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
In whatever it is that we want in life... there just isn't a time when something is "finished." Yes, sure there is completion of tasks, but then life happens. Stuff gets undone. Houses get dirty. Learning gets forgotten. Emotions don't last. Money falls through your hands like sand. Ideal weights become what I used to weigh. BUT Christ, His Glory, His Gifts, His Calling, and His People are FOREVER. Praise Him... and let's do His work today. =)
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand
(Stuart Townend/ Keith Getty)
This song has been running through my head lately. Good Friday to Easter Sunday is a time to remember that death has died. If you call yourself a Christian, you must believe that Jesus Christ died to pay a debt and now, "Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me."
Do you actually believe that sin has no power anymore? If you do, let go of your guilt. Do you actually believe that death does NOT win? If you do, let go of your fear.
Faith...let it take root in your heart. Let it play out in your life. Let it carry you home.
9 years ago today... Mike and I stood in front of over 300 people and promised our forevers. Isn't it amazing how COMPLETELY life changes after a wedding?
How can a ceremony of words so completely alter the course of human life? The ceremony isn't like a physical surgery where something in your body changes. It isn't like buying your first car where you walk away with something tangible. It isn't like birth where there is instantaneously a whole new person in the room.
I heard on "His Radio" the other day that marriage is an empty box. Contrarily, Culture tells us something different. Culture tells us that marriage is a present you get to open and receive Love, Romance, and Happiness. People get married and are devastated to find their box or present was empty. Culture does not realize that partners in marriage have to deposit love, romance etc into the box in order for it to be full.
Some of us have seen marriage fail. Our personal history tells us that marriage is a box where hurt, resentment, and control reside. In that case, marriage as an empty box may be pleasantly surprising for a newlywed. Marriage requires the deposit of negative in order for those feelings to be present.
I think I had a little bit of both positive and negative expectations going into marriage. I expected to open it up and brace myself for the big surprise. There was no surprise. I was still me, and my husband was still himself. We were just ourselves with a promise too big to keep without Jesus' love as the center.
A ninth anniversary is really a baby step in a life long marriage, but I have seen a lot of deposits. I can surely say the box is full now. I never accurately imagined the relationship, the sacrifice, or the reward. There was no way to understand how my faith and the love between my husband and I would became the basis for everything important in my life. My own life and the lives of my children get roots and foundations from the promises spoken at that wedding day ceremony. I am amazed at God's faithfulness, my husband's integrity, and my own ability to continually fall in love all over again.
Life COMPLETELY changes, because it is a COMPLETING process.
P.S. Michael Andrew... I still do. ;)
If you missed the first two parts of this series, you can access them here:
Part 1: Longing
Part 2: Calling
I have been struggling to write lately. You have to know who you are to blog about yourself. I know who I was at 18. I know who I was at 21. I know what kind of teacher I am, but who am I now?
Children are amazing. My children have given me a purpose and calling in life that far outweighs any other goal I have created for myself. It feels natural to stop talking about myself, to stop taking care of myself, and to live vicariously through them. Those are unsustainable habits, because my identity is not tied to them.
My children have eternal souls, just as I have an eternal soul. My job as "caretaker" of them is extremely temporary. Some days, mothering feels like a never-ending cycle of feedings, cleanings, and laundry. But, I have already felt the incremental process of letting go in mothering: the last nursing, the first steps, the first time sleeping in a big bed, the last diaper, the first sleep over. I can already feel the stretching of my heart and faith thinking about the plethora of firsts and lasts to come: the first day of school, first time driving, the last day of school, the first date, and the day we give him/her away in marriage. Parenting is not ownership, but a relationship.
I still have to know who I am, even if my children do not live with me anymore. I am changed by them but not defined by them. I do not fit into my previous molds. I feel as though I am at a decision point in my life. Again.
Who am I now? I am longed for. I am called. I should run. God calls us to run the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1). What is that supposed to look like?
Running requires purpose: an eternal prize. Focus on eternal things, not material things.
1 Corinthians 9:23-25 (NIV) I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.The Need for Self-Discipline 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
Running requires you to go straight. Nothing matters except faith expressed in love. This race is not a maze. Galatians 5:6-8 (NIV) 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. 7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.
You CANNOT run with baggage entangling you. These are those days when you can't stop thinking about a hurting friend, the days when you watch your child struggle, the days when the money does not add up to enough and you are coveting what someone else has. Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
If you keep your eyes on Jesus while you run, you won't get tired.
Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
All of my questioning, observing, and configuring of my own emotions isn't who I am anyways. Who am I now? I am a runner. So are my kids. So are you. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Enjoy your run today!
(Photo Credit: Sura Nualpradid)
If you missed it, here is the first part of the series: God Calling: Part 1 Longing
Today. Fighting a bug at home with my 3 yr old, 2 yr old, and 3 month old. My day peaked in mid afternoon when I decided to let the kids ride their bikes while I pushed the stroller. Abigail is just learning, so she requires me to give her a boost every few feet. Clayton is a speeder on his, and gets impatient waiting on us.
The walk went fine. We never even saw a car the whole time. We were almost back to the house on our very quiet road. Clayton was probably 10 feet in front of me, and I saw a car. I said, "Clayton, Get in the grass there is a car." He usually obeys this command immediately, because he is careful by nature. I'm not sure if I even looked down, but I know I looked up and Clayton had decided to cross the street to go to our house instead. The careening old truck was now a few feet from my son as I was screaming helpless, "Clayton!!!!!AHHHHH."
He stopped in the middle of the road. The truck swerved and barreled by almost hitting our mailbox. Stillness... Me. My baby in a stroller. My little girl next to me. My son on his bike on the yellow lines 15 feet away from me. Everyone perfectly fine. Everyone perfectly out of my control.
So, what do I do? Try to control. Grab Clayton, bring him to the grass and force understanding yelling, "you could have been smashed!" I didn't do anything terrible really. As a parent, I think everyone acts angry. Yet, thinking about it now, I could cringe. Not because my actions were so terrible, but because it is who I am. Out of Control. Literally. Sinful. Anger appears as a means for control, but it is not.
I am overwhelmed by my own inability and unworthiness. The fact that God takes care of my children (my calling right now) better than me, makes me feel small.
What does that have to do with God calling and God longing for you? Listen to the story of Peter's calling. Simon Peter and I would have gotten along. He was a doer. He knew what he was doing. He struggled with anger. I get him. Simon Peter was a fisherman, and God called.
Imagine a crowd gathering beside a lake to hear Jesus speak. You know how crowds press. Jesus told Simon Peter to push the boat out on the lake so he could speak from it. I can imagine how people listened. Then, later on, Jesus told Peter to put out the fishing nets in deep water. (This is my favorite part) Simon Peter responded (Luke 5:5) "Master, We've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."
Because you say so! Really Simon Peter? I love how he made it perfectly clear that this is ridiculous. Oh, the abundance in obedience. (Luke 5:6-7) They caught so many fish that their nets began to break, and they had to get another boat. Both boats began to sink. Wow. Because He says so is pretty powerful indeed! Luke 5:8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Simon Peter reacted like that really? He fell on his knees and asked Jesus to leave? I understand it. Today, I was asked to be obedient. Today, I feel like a fished all night and got nothing out of it. Today, I sent my empty nets flying. Today, I'm in the abundance of his mercy and provision. I have the same reaction. "But Lord, I'm soooooooo bad at this! But Lord, I'm sooooo sinful. Not Me! Go Away because I can't stand how I see myself when you are near."
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Okay Lord. God Called. God Calls. It is not the righteous that he calls, but the sinner. Obey Him today. Even if the only reason you can think of is "because You said so." Watch the abundance in obedience!