Broken Places

Broken

Broken Places, we all have them. Maybe we don’t want to admit that we do. Maybe just maybe we don’t really know those places are broken. Maybe we have already worked through a process of forgiveness, letting go, or dealing with grief. It can be anything really. Then one day Jesus shows up (ok so he’s always here but for the sake of my connection let’s roll with him showing up) and says oh yeah that thing you stacked away in the closet, et’s deal with that, NOW.

If you are like me, I was dumbfounded. Lord, I’ve dealt with that. We are all good.

Enter the Woman at the Well (John 4:4-42)

Now my story and her story are not the same at all….or is it?

Well for starters, I have only been married once. So if there are any questions along those lines I just took care of them. When the woman went to the well that day, she had no idea she was going to encounter the one who knew all of her deep dark secrets, or not-so secrets/. She had a reputation.

When I woke up a month ago with my mind racing with all sorts of scary emotions I had no idea that deep in my heart Jesus was going to say “ok today is the day Mary, let’s put it all on the table”

The Woman at the well became a point of fascination a few months ago. I couldn’t tell you why at the time. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I don’t know why I was reading about her, I don’t even know when it was. I just knew I was drawn to her. I have snippets of notes that really at this point mean nothing to me. I just know that I connected with her on a whole new level.

And if you have been around here for very long you know when that happens a Coffee With Friends Post is born.

And here we are….

I want to give her a name because the Saratan woman or the Woman at the well doesn’t seem personal enough for a Coffee with Friends post. So I am going to call her…Sophia. (Please know that this isn’t her real name. It’s just for the sake of this post.).

Jesus went to that well to meet Sophia, and Sophia went to the well to get water. She went there in the warmest part of the day to ensure she wouldn’t hear the whispers and see the glares and feel like she was being judged. Jesus knew that because Jesus KNEW Sophia. He knew everything about her! He especially knew what she needed and it wasn’t the water from Jacob’s well. He knew she needed him and what he had to offer- living water that becomes a fresh bubbling spring that will give them eternal life (verse 14)

Now, go get your husband… GULP.

Oh to not be in her shoes, UH I don’t have a husband. GULP.

Jesus said yep you are right, you have had five husbands and the dude you are with now isn’t your husband DOUBLE GULP!

AND SHE STAYED

Goodness friends if I were her I would have been gone. A dude I have never met is telling me all about my life. It freaked me out bad enough when my pastor said a few things about me that I had never put together. (I did some gulping of my own!!!) And here she is just being present

AND Then she changes the subject….common we have all been there done that. We don’t want to deal with the pain we have in our hearts. Whether it’s sin, grief, abuse, broken relationships, YOU NAME IT WE WILL AVOID IT…like the PLAGUE. We don’t like to be uncomfortable.

The funny thing is Jesus humored her. He didn’t go back. to her sin. He answered her questions and in the end, reveals he is the Messiah.

The disciples come back and Sophia rushes off to tell everyone she knows about Jesus. and how he has told her ALL she has EVER done!

She uses her testimony with Jesus and many f the villagers run to meet him and believe in him in the process.

Her willingness to stay present with Jesus led to her life being changed. She could have stayed busy and filled her jug and been on with her daily chores.

WOW!

How this relates to me

Well like the woman at the well I too have broken places. Places in my heart that I have neatly placed the “dealt with pile” and I closed and locked the door. They were considered off-limits to even me. The problem is I still knew they were there. So I began to distract myself from them. My number one choice of distraction…PEOPLE. I can care for people. I am a pretty good listener, unless I have b]my earbuds in and then well everyone wonders why I’m not paying attention. (I put them in when I am “in the zone”.). I never really set boundaries. It was always easier to help people with their hurt and pain because it distracted me from my own.

But then all of a sudden there were no people. I was sick. Then we left our church and there were even fewer people. I was broken in so many ways. I was strong for hubby, the kids, and for anybody else who came to me. And I began to hide behind my phone. I knew I was distracted but I didn’t know why.

That morning I woke up I was face to face with Jesus- I had removed the phone issue. Within a week’s time, I was face to face with that closet full of broken places. Broken relationships, painful memories, wrong choices, failures, hurt I sustained at the hands of others and what those things had done to me. The reality is I hadn’t dealt with them. Yes, I had forgiven those involved. No, I wasn’t harboring anger towards anyone, BUT those things had created walls. Walls for people who weren’t even involved. They were walls of fear, and anxiety and had tainted how I saw myself. Some of that is still so startling to think about

Pefectionism creot in

See I was SOOOOO afraid of being in trouble that I tried to make sure everything was just right. I checked off this list of how to love people (ahem that would be 1 Corinthians 13). This is a whole other blog post in and of itself. But I had a mental checklist of bible passages.

BUT sometimes even when you love someone with the whole list they don’t do the same for you- it’s one-sided and you kinda just start believing you aren’t worth it. That it really doesn’t apply to you. Boy, I had no idea that was the path I was on and it shook me to the core. I was afraid of everybody. Even my poor hubby – I didn’t know it. We have been the best of friends for over 20 years (wow that makes me sound old).

I knew I could trust someone….my dog Rosie. for 9 years she laid at my feet in my craft room/ office. She sat next to me on the couch and would listen to me talk myself through whatever struggle was going on. She never talked back, she never ignored me, she didn’t judge, or roll her eyes.

She saw me cry and didn’t say, Get over it. I chuckle as I write that. She was my best non-human friend. She kept every secret. She would even smile. But then this week I had to say goodbye. To say it was difficult is a gross understatement. But as I processed this on Monday I realized something. I need to be more active in the just being department.

To let myself feel and think and process. I don’t do that well. I always have stuff to be done. Keeping busy is what I am good at. so I made a choice.

I actively chose to BE.

Now I was still doing something, but it was different. I hadn’t picked up my art supplies to use since the end of October minus a coloring book. Not the same thing for me. I finished inktober and moved on with the holidays. Because when I slowed down and stopped the mental “doing” my mind drifted to places I didn’t like it to drift.

I knew that we would be spending the day at church on Tuesday. I started thinking about all the things I needed to do and I stopped myself and said No Mary tomorrow you are just going to be still. I picked a room that was away from everything else with comfy chairs. I popped my earbuds in with our family playlist of worship music, some peppy some not so peppy and I let those words flow through me and out my brush.

Here’s what happened

I started out with an idea for my April bullet journal page

And from there I redid an inktober pen sketch from 2020. It was just a fast sketch I did originally,, but I wanted to do a better job on it this go around.

The next three are just simple little expressions. It’s not ever about doing fancy art. Sometimes it’s just about taking the time to use a passion God has given you. It’s not about being very good. It’s not about impressing other people It’s about just simply being and taking part in the process, thinking, praying, and worshipping. For each person that’s going to look a little different.

When we choose to let Jesus in to work on our heart stuff, (and yes it is our choice) he doesn’t promise it will get easier- but what he will do is transform it into something beautiful. It won’t be according to how I think it should be used, or not used, but rather what will bring him the most honor and glory. I just love how Jesus redeemed Sophia’s story. He didn’t publically humiliate her. He met her where she was at. She chose to stay and listen and in the end ran to the very people she was trying to avoid in the first place to share about Jesus. I can’t imagine anything more beautiful than that!

So will you join me on my journey of giving God my broken places?

You can check out the other coffee with friends posts here

Boundaries and Schedule Changes

Boundaries

Hello Friends! I hope you are having a great week! Today we are going to have a conversation about some changes that are taking place in my life and that we be directly affecting the blog here. I have, over the last couple of weeks, been implementing some boundaries for myself. And even though I am not quite ready to share the not so immediate effects of those boundaries I am ready to share how and why the blog has changed and will continue to do so over the next few months.

Back Story

It’s no secret around here that a little over a year ago I had some major health struggles. Struggles that found me in and out of the hospital 4 times in the month of December in 2020. It found me having a procedure to kill off a tumor that caused damage to internal organs which then resulted in me needing heavy narcotics because when something is dying inside of you it is excruciating and then finally my body (much to the doctors and hospital staff’s surprise ) expelling the tumor on it’s own. And finally waiting the longest week of my life to find out if said tumor was cancer or not. (Praise the Lord it wasn’t).

It was a wild ride BUT a spiral happened that NO one could see. Not even me. See my health issues didn’t end there. There were still major repercussion from Decembers adventures.

Low iron levels related to the amount of blood loss was a huge problem. they were so low they were undetectable. They couldn’t find iron in my system. I ate everything I could get my hands on that was rich in iron (except liver).Have you ever had molasses in your coffee? Yeah don’t! I was desperate BUT my body couldn’t absorb it. I was taking 3 iron pills a day with little to no help. I was living in a constant state of panic attack due to iron levels. It was BAD and to help cope and distract myself I got lost on my phone.

The Reality

As much as I use my phone for helpful useful things I found myself living in a constantly distracted state. When I was stressed I reached for my phone. I chose to get lost in it. Finally in August Hubby advocated for me at the hematologists office for iron infusions. I would sleep all the time. I could barely move without being completely wiped out. The doctor wanted to wait until I had all of my GI tests done but Hubby asked why I couldn’t have them before and boy was I grateful that he did. They said I wouldn’t see a difference right away.They were wrong. It was a two infusion series. The first one I sat though a complete conference day right after. Which is saying a lot because I could barely move at times. Having little to no iron creates a painful state of existence, So between the hurting body, the racing heart and extreme fatigue I wasn’t sure how a conference would work. A few days later I had the second dose and OH BOY I was like a new human being. It just keep getting better.

BUT…..

As I looked back at my prayer journals I began to see a pattern emerging. I was praying every single day that God would help me to not be so distracted. ALL of the time. We had gone through a major life change in the process where hubby left his ministry position he had been at for 12 years. We had no idea where God was leading us next we just knew we were supposed to leave. We picked a church an hour away from home for various reasons.

For nearly 7 months I prayed and prayed and prayed for distractions to leave. And day after day after day I chose to get lost in my phone.

That is until this February when I picked up the book hubby got for me at Christmas called The Life Giving Home written by Sally and Sarah Clarkson. I read Sarah’s chapter on distractions. Which was her phone…ACK! Now this is NOT the first time the topic of “phones” has come up. Phone usage has been in NUMEROUS sermons at our new church. And yet I could dismiss them as “BUT I am a blogger I need to be tied to my phone”. The reality is though my phone usage had very little to do with my blog. It had everything to do with serving as a distraction from my blog and everything else under the sun. It wasn’t until the word DISTRACTION was right in front of my face AND I had COVID that forced me to come to understand the reality of my situation. So that day I sent some Boundaries .

The Boundaries

The very first thing I did was delete Instagram and Facebook from my phone. I still need to use them for my blog. So getting rid of them completely wasn’t an option.

the second thing I did was set a time frame for when I could use social media on my laptop. And that’s from 4-8 pm. It allows me enough time to make posts and then comment back on them if need be. And when the comments are made and I don’t see them right away GUESS WHAT…They are still there the next day…..NO JOKE!

Is it a perfect system NOPE. have I followed it strictly NOPE. BUT life has changed in so many ways…like… I have read double the books I read last month. No it’s not a new distraction.

I have changed immensely…I have a new schedule in place that has been working amazingly.

It Came with an Unforeseen Consequence

We teach our children that there are positive and negative consequences that come with our life choices. You will often hear hubby and I and even our children say Make better life choices.

Well when I chose to set this boundary it became very obvious within just a weeks time that the phone was distracting me from far more than just daily tasks. I hadn’t healed from some major life stuff and all of that in one morning came spilling out. At first I thought it had been a TERRIBLE life choice BUT now I can see how much I have changed in just over a week. THAT is a blog series for a different time.

For now though I have a clarity of mind that I haven’t had in ……ever.

Quite frankly it’s been amazing. I will say though it’s because I have been willing (although reluctant at times ) to do the hard work. I have written nearly 100 pages in my journal..

Letting Go of Mental Chess

I like to play games. All sorts of games (I love WORDLE). I had become a master at mental chess and I didn’t even realize it. Here how mental chess goes “I can’t do x, because if I do X, then person, A Will do Y”.

I had a rather lengthy conversation with our pastor about this, He’s the one who called it mental chess and then he told me. ” You’ll never win. ”

Later this week I looked at my ever growing list of blog post Ideas and there is a set of “green” posts. They are a different color because I felt they were unpublishable so I had determined to journal them…..because if I posted them XYZ might happen. I said out loud as I read them off MENTAL CHESS.

Now does it mean I will post them tomorrow…NO. I won’t. They are going to take some time to write because they are hard perhaps even RAW. There will be a lot more of that around here because I’m letting go of that mental chess I have become so accustomed to playing. I don’t want to waste my mental capabilities on a game I am NOT going to win. Why would I want to use mental headspace for such nonsense I like to win.

Schedule Changes

So as it stands I had already made the change for Sunday afternoons being blogging time. That’s going to stay the same it just works. IF I get to go into church on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and/orFridays with Hubby (until we move ) I intend to use that time for blogging time. But for now I am able to use Sundays to complete blogging work for the week on Sundays.

  • Mondays will be the normal Happy Homemaker Monday posts. Mondays are also going to be blog work. I have Monday afternoons and evenings to myself- Thanks hubby for that blessing for this introverted homeschooling mom with 3 extroverted children.
  • Tuesdays are family nights here so no posts will go live
  • Wednesdays and Fridays are flex days so If I can get more than Mondays and Thursdays blog posts done they will be scheduled on Wednesdays or Fridays
  • Thursdays are our Thankfulness days – this is the Gratitude in the Middle posts.

Mondays and Thursdays are the MUSTS. All else is icing on the cake.

Next week I hope to have a very special treat. I want to introduce you to two women who have been supporting me through all of this stuff and really lifted my hands (a Moses reference) as I blogged through that Choosing Courage 100 day blogging project last fall. It’s just another step in letting go of the mental chess because I was worried about what other people might think when I shared WHO they are and the role they are playing!

These two women have never met each other and when I said I need to have coffee with the two of you they made it happen. No questions asked. This is why these two women are on my prayer team for this ministry and whatever lies ahead.

Thank you so much for being here and reading and living life right along side of me. I know this has been a much longer post than normal and I appreciate you sticking through to the end.

Are you ready to join me on this Journey?

Patience- Positive Influence Trait #4

Patience

Ah Patience. It’s the fourth in line of the Fruit of the Spirit AND it’s the first descriptor of LOVE. But what on earth is patience?

Upon a quick google search I discovered a pretty simple definition of what Patience is.

Patience is defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. (Oxford English)

But I’m not super fond of this definition….I mean it’s good and all but this seems like it is built on our circumstances rather than how we LOVE people. Now in Galatians its not just talking about people it’s talking about our entire lives. The circumstances we have going on AND the people we deal with. Patience should be a trait of our entire lives.

So about our Circumstances

Hebrews10:36 says:

Patient endurance (the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way) is what you need now, so that you will continue to doGod’s will. THEN you will receive all that he promises. (NLT)

Life is difficult- running a race is difficult. the Bible talks about life being like a race. Not a 200 meter sprint but a long distance run. And it’s not a race AGAINST other people….it’s a race WITH people. I think we get the idea that if we can talk a good talk and look the part then we have succeeded as a Christian.

The whole time I am writing this a song is playing over and over in my head from my childhood. I was 14 when this song came out. the video impacted me greatly AND if you know my story you know that 14 was a big year. It was the year I had my eye surgery to repair one of my eyes. It’s not a Christian song by any means but it illustrates this patient endurance,

https://youtu.be/gGTLerCCZWY

Standing Outside the fire by Garth Brooks. This song was pivotal for me. It was long before I knew the names ofAny of the Christian artists that echo through our home now.

There is a picture of a mom and a dad and a boy with Down Syndrome. Never in my wildest dreams did I picture that my future husband and I would be parents to a child with a developmental disability- but we are. Thankfully we both act as the mom did in this video. But there are plenty of people in this world who act as the dad and coach do at the beginning.

Patient Endurance isn’t easy

Endurance is slow- It’s not a matter of a fast kick off- it’s not full speed ahead. It means that you need to keep going. It’s not about not falling and not gettign banged up in the process it’s about picking yourself up dusting yourself off and finishing well. You keep the eye on the prize…..The prize is “Good Job faithful servant”.

I HIGHLY recommend the book Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. An allegory for the Christian life. Every person I know who has had a conversation with me about this book has said they have found themselves within the book. AND not always in the best places.

What about being Patient with the people in our lives?

So many times as Christians we to play the role of the dad and the coach declaring “Certain people don’t belong”. They don’t fit in our “RACE”. We want to run a clean elite race- OR better yet we want to sit in the stands and watch others RUN a GREAT CLEAN race. We are satisfied to turn on TV, Radio, or open a book and be spectators to other people’s races. We want to stand outside the fire. We don’t want to be patient with how God will use us in the race. We want to be used on our own terms. We don’t want to get too involved or in the too messy of situations.

But it is true in the song he says

Life is not tried it is merely survived
If you’re standing outside the fire

That’s not what the Christian walk is all about. We are called (all of us, not just the pastors, missionaries or other full time Christian worker) to get our hands dirty in ministry. We are not called to be consumer Christians.

The Church’s attitude

Now I know that this isn’t a Christian Song but the attitudes are the same.

The opening stanzas of the song depict what kinds of people fit and our attitudes towards them.

We call them cool
Those hearts that have no scars to show
The ones that never do let go
And risk it the tables being turned

We call them fools
Who have to dance within the flame
Who chance the sorrow and the shame
That always come with getting burned…..

…….We call them strong
Those who can face this world alone
Who seem to get by on their own
Those who will never take the fall

We call them weak
Who are unable to resist
The slightest chance love might exist
And for that forsake it all

The difference between these two sets of people is one makes us comfortable and one makes us uncomfortable. One pushes our LOVE. The other is EASY . And I had some questions about how to be patient with BOTH sets of people.

I went back to the Bible…..

and did a quick word search for “Patient” And the verse I landed on was PERFECT!

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults BECAUSE OF YOUR LOVE!! (Ephesians 4:2 NLT)

Wait WHAT?

Yes you read that right..”.Because of your love”. So the first building block of the Fruit of the Spirit is LOVE and because of that LOVE we CAN have Patience!

This isn’t a new concept for me. See I know this really cute pastor (Ahem -my husband) that taught this very concept of the Fruit of the Spirit being a series of attributes and as you grow you add more steps.

And we will se this as we move throughout the rest of the traits. YOU CANNOT HAVE ANY of the other nine traits if you don’t first have LOVE. Love is the root of all this other traits.

Let’s be Honest though…..

The reason we don’t have patience to begin with is because we don’t want to LOVE THEM ( who is your THEM?)…..for each one of us THEM is different…..and usually it’s because they are way too different from me.

  • Senior Adults vs Children
  • Teenagers vs Teenagers
  • Christians VS EVERYONE
  • various Races against other Races
  • Democrats vs Repbulicans (And vice versa)
  • People with disabilities vs those who do not
  • and the list is never ending.

For every way we have a difference there is an opposing force ready to let us know how unloved and impatient they are with us. (Note I am not saying that we need to agree on everything- There can still be right and wrong AND love and patience..

Let’s not miss the HOW of being patient

Right smack in the middle of the verse it gives us the “how” ro be patient.

“Making allowance for each others faults”.

” EACH OTHER’S FAULTS”. That indicates SIN !

Oh man this goes against all of culture that says- “I need to protect me”. (Now let me be very clear. THIS ISN’T ABOUT ABUSE. I have spent a huge part of my adult life helping people who have endured and come out of abusive relationships.). This is about the everyday stuff.

This is solely about us being humans and having faults. We all make mistakes and we all have a sin nature. But it is our nature to be like, ” well that person has 3 strikes and then they are out!” Life is not a baseball game people and we need to stop burning bridges. I COMPLETELY understand what it means to be hurt by people. But in the same respect I also have seen some amazing stories of people who were patient and loving and God took that and built something beautiful out of a very messy situation.

Forgiveness is the Root of Patience.

As I sit here writing this I think about all the times I have been impatient with people and it’s a lot. And as I contemplate WHY I was impatient with them, it comes right down to mostly the same things I hear myself say over and over again.

  • They didn’t do it MY way
  • They hurt ME
  • They didn’t do it fast enough….for ME
  • They made ME uncomfortable.
  • I didn’t like what they did.
  • That’s not the way I want it,

We throw a proverbial hissy fit. We revert back to our two year old selves and say “fine if it can’t be my way than I’m taking my toys and going home”.

And we forget the forgiveness given to us. Jesus is our example in this patience and forgiveness.

Forgiveness says ” I have messed up many times and yet Jesus still loves me. He died for ALL of my mistakes. And because he did that I can forgive_______ for _______. Patience is meeting a person where they are at NOT where you want them to be. Patience doesn’t live in expectations of others.

A Big Contrast

This stark contrast is seen in the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees. Jesus wanted to be whole and free from whatever was holding them back. The Pharisees were unhappy with the outcome as they saw it and wanted to make an example of those who didn’t meet the expectations.

Who had the Bigger influence? Jesus who met people in their messes and patiently loved them to a right relationship with God or the Pharisees who lived by the unattainable laws they had created (because the standards of what God gave wasn’t enough)?

BOTH!

Jesus had the biggest POSITIVE influence and the Pharisees had the biggest NEGATIVE influence. And we can tell that by the OUTCOMES of how they treated people.

Jesus’ patience resulted in changed lives. The people who were changed by his loving patience went out and excitedly told other people.They turned away from their sin and said “Look what Jesus did for me”. Or Jesus wasn’t;t afraid of the law- He knew that uncleanness wasn’t what was most important. He HEALED PEOPLE

The Pharisees on the other hand invoked a spirit of fear and dread. Their reputation was known as being judgmental and exclusive. The made scars deeper. They hurt people. Physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Now it’s Your turn

So have you ever experienced impatience at the hand of someone else? Did it have a positive or negative influence on your life? Do you struggle with with patience like me? What is a perspective change you can make so you can become more patient either in your circumstances or with people?

Follow along with theseLinks

Write 31 Days 2018 Influence Posts

Choosing Courage 100 Day Writing Project

Write 31 Days 2021 Link up List (Scroll to the bottom)

Love-Learning to Love Like Jesus

Love

Welcome to our first Positive Influence Trait- LOVE. The word love is tossed around like a frisbee at a beach. We use it so flippantly that it loses it’s power and meaning. We start off my saying “I love you mommy and/or daddy”. Then we end up saying things like “I love those chips”. We tell our husband/wife “I Love you” then in the same breath say “I love football”. Our children hear “I love you” but then they also hear us say “I love this TV show”. Are these all on the same playing field? Do our relationships deserve the same LOVE as chips, football and TV shows?

What does the Bible say about Love?

The two greatest commandments are Love the Lord your God with all of Your Heart, Soul Mind and Strength and Love your Neighbor as Yourself. (Luke 10,27 NLT

We are to spend every part of ourselves loving God AND THEN we are supposed to love our neighbors like we love ourselves! You know the Golden Rule. Treat others they way you want to be treated.

But what does that look like- are there things that we all want or need ?

I am so glad you asked!!

I Corinthians 13- The Love Chapter

In First Corinthians 13 we see a list of what love is and what love isn’t.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

  1. Patient
  2. kind
  3. Not Jealous
  4. Not boastful;
  5. Not Proud
  6. not Rude
  7. Doesn’t demand it’s own way
  8. Not irritable
  9. keeps no record of being wronged
  10. Does not rejoice about being wronged BUT
  11. Rejoices whenever the truth wins out
  12. Never gives up
  13. Never Loses Faith
  14. Is always hopeful
  15. and endures through every circumstance

I want to be loved like that! So therefore I MUST love people like that!

Whew- Did you notice JUST how many fruit of the spirit are listed in the “what Love is and Isn’t” set of verses? Almost all of the Fruit of the sprit can be tied back to one of these traits of love.

BUT MARY….

I can hear it now here it comes I’m gonna hear why all of the circumstances surrounding someone’s life scenario keeps them from these action steps to being loving. I think that one of the craziest excuses I have ever heard was ‘I don’t have to be loving because they are being stupid”.

I cringe because so often that’s how we look at the Bible….We can dismiss it away accornding to our own perceptions in life. We are so self focused that we can say it’s ok for me to treat this person rudely because……and we forget that “Love is not rude”

How we want to be Treated Vs how we treat others

The same goes for all the other traits- but one of the worst is Patience. We want everyone to be patient with us but when we don’t have patience with others it’s not a problem. We feel entitled to their love, their attention, their money their….Goodness you fill in the blank. And feel angry and frustrated and let down when they don’t fulfill that need in our lives and yet rarely do we stop and ask ourselves “this is outside of their character, I wonder what’s going on with them? ” And then ask in patience and kindness. It takes our minds off of us and onto other people. It’s loving other people like we love ourselves and it’s treating others how you want to be treated.

But we are quick to ignore and forget I Corinthians 13:1-3

It Says

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

If we do all the “good things” in this world and we treat people rudely- and we aren’t patient and we aren’t kind, and we areself-serving- than we are just a bunch of clanging symbols….we ARE ANNOYING!

Annoying?

We are just a bunch of senseless chatter when our walk doesn’t match our talk. And people aren’t stupid. They catch on pretty quickly. The person who said they could treat someone rudely because they were “acting stupid”. was such a clanging symbol- They could talk all day about how the shared the gospel with people and how much they prayed and studied God’s word and then they would be rude to people and did things out of selfish ambition. And as soon as the person would start talking about their spirituality you could see the eyes roll. There would be heavy sighs.

The same is true for those like I mentioned yesterday who wear their sins as badges of honor. “I’m not very patient”. “I am just not a merciful person”. And usually they will tack on some form of “and that’s just the way God made me” dismissal. But then they will tell you about how long the spend studying God Word.

And I hear the words from the end of verse 3 echoing in my heart….

I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Why do we have Nothing? Because we haven’t let God’s word CHANGE US.

When we let God Change us with his word that’s when love starts to grow within us. .

Paul issues a strong warning just before the Fruit of the Spirit passage- It says:

13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[c] 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.

Wow. That’s powerful. Ya know we have kids learn verses in Sunday school and other church programs like Galatians 5:22-23 and I Corinthians 13: 4-7 but what good does that do them if we don’t teach them I Corinthians 13:1-3 and Galatians 55:13-15.

Modeling Love and the Best Model of All

How do kids learn to love? By being loved! How did Jesus teach the concept of unconditional LOVE? By loving people unconditionally. He was all of 1 Corinthians 13- He loved so well and he was not a clanging symbol. He didn’t treat people poorly. He loved the “unlovable (unlovable according to the cultures standards). He met them where they were at not where he thought they should be. He loved prostitutes and tax Collectors. The paralyzed, the sick- with leprousy and the woman with the issue of blood (things that would have caused him to be “unclean” in the culture). He loved people from other cultures (mixed races if you will). All Culturally unheard of practices.

But he set the culture and the religious systems aside. He practiced what he preached. And when a Pharisee came to him with honest questions and sought understanding he didn’t treat him like an idiot- he loved him unconditionally- Jesus loved people to a place of growth and understanding He Loved them to life!

That’s what I want

I don’t know about you but I want to be THAT kind if influencer I want to love people to life! I don’t want to be a clanging symbol. I don’t want to be annoying.

This world is in a constant state of hurt and pain. I want to be the hands feet and voice of Jesus. I want to be the living breathing example of Him. Because that maybe the ONLY way someone will ever be introduced to Jesus. But the ONLY way I can do that is choosing (That’s it- it’s a Choice- To quote an old DC Talk Song– LOVE IS A VERB) to love unconditionally like Jesus did. Love is the post powerful influence you can ever have!

And when we mess up…Because we will

We apologize…not with empty words but with sincere hearts. And how can we demonstrate our Sincerity? With Change! Let God change us into the loving image-bearer of Christ he wants us to be!

Thanks so Much for doing me today ! I have enjoyed being on this Journey with you and if you are new Here introduce Yourself in the comments below! I would love to connect with you!

Check out these Links

Write 31 Days 2018 Influence Posts

Choosing Courage 100 Day Writing Project

Write 31 Days 2021 Link up List. (Scroll to the bottom)

When You Lose Yourself

Lose

It’s easy to Lose things….Keys….wallet…….sanity. But you might be thinking Mary I always know where I am! As a kid it was a favorite thing for my family to pile into the car on a sunny Sunday afternoon in hopes to get “lost” in our own community. We lived in rural Pennsylvania where once upon a time cows outnumbered people and backroads were a plenty. We even had “special roads” that were only open during the spring, summer and fall. sometimes only summer depending on the weather.

We would always find some new and exciting road that led us to somewhere we already knew BUT it might be a little terrifying in the process. We knew of some hidden roads too. Roads that you only saw when you were on top of them.

It was fun to go on these adventures. There was an adventure to this sad old church. It hadn’t seen a congregation in decades. The cemetary itself was of the thin headstones from long ago. the plots of ground were sunken in where the wooden boxes had deteriorated and turned into mulch. It seemed as though my ad had no idea where he was going at first ut we quickly realized this was a purposeful trip. My dad wanted us to see something specific.

But Let’s Be Honest with Ourselves

As much fun as it is to get “LOST” like that as a kid- getting Lost is a horrible feeling. It’s one thing that both my brothers and I learned about in scouts. it’s a three fold process- 1). How not to get lost and 2). How to stay alive if you get lost. and 3). how to get unlost (yep I just coined that word).

Getting Lost without being LOST

Sometimes we can get lost without physically being lost. This means losing sight of our purpose which is 2 parts, 1) Loving God with all of our Heart Soul, mind and Strength andStrength and 2) Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself (Luke 10:27) I see Christians do this all the time. They compromise their beliefs for a moment of…..you can fill in the blanks. Before long they loose themselves and they start buying a lie that this is now who they are or that they can’t ever get back or that God couldn’t possibly love or forgive them. They also believe that they have to get back on their own (also a lie).

But It’s not just limited to our own personal Choices

The root of this problem are the lies we choose to believe. This is also the case when we may not have made the choices but the choices were made for us. Abuse, illness, an accident, some form of trauma, losing someone close to you, financial problems, mental illness and the list can go on and on and on. We might Geel like this is just how it’s going to be. We lose sight in Who God really is. We can take on the Victim mentality or feel like we are unlovable, unworthy, a failure…You get the picture.

Losing myself

Part of the enemies plan is to distract people from what they are called to do. When we take our eyes off of that we start believing lies. Lies that destroy so much. The enemy wants to keep us from our purpose.

Ever since I was a little girl I could be found writing all sorts of things. Long before Kindergarten I knew my letters. I have a very young memory of my mom in the bathroom getting ready for the day and I was sitting outside the closed door saying “mommy how do you spell……Mom………and my mom would patiently spell out the word. I would write it down. and then I would move on to the next word. I also remember as a middle school student learning that my cousin had this paper to write and I wanted so desperately to have a paper to write too. In high school I found a whole new love that I knew nothing about. Creative writing. I would get lost in my English papers. My favorite was in 9th grade. I had to write to a historical figure and tell them about some modern technology without using words that they couldn’t understand. The possibilities were endless andI was giddy with all the ideas rolling through my head. Clearly I had a bent for writing it was my happy place (it still is). It’s just part of who God created me to be.

The journey Continues

In College is when I hit a wall and gained understanding of who I was. Technical papers were the death of me. I was so frustrated. Now I know that some of those papers I could have changed a bit and gave them more of a creative twist (Kinda like that tabernacle drawing and our Old Testament timelines -I know Dr. S. “Charles Shultz had nothing to worry about”) Let’s just say the prof was less than impressed with our sheep angels complete with wings hovering over the altar- actually I’m pretty sure he enjoyed them.

It was during this time that I learned hat I need to write to clear my brain and that release wasn’t found in papers for class. Creative writing was a release for me The first two years f college I had lost myself actually I had been lost for a while but it became glaringly obvious. It was because I had bought into two lies.

The Two Major Lies

First was this lie that I needed to fit someone else mold SO I became a social butterfly. Yes I had friends in high school but it was different. It was the type of peer group I was in. What did they expect of me? I loved my peer group in College. They were great friends and I am still friends with many of them today. I became a master morpher- all things to all people. I slept a lot. I suffered from horrible headaches. It was just BAD. It was the first time I could explore the many possibilities of ministries too and I threw myself into everything. I tried to do it all and everything came crashing down. I was exhausted. I had no idea who I really was. I just knew that what I was being told is to be successful you had to be outgoing….do lots of things…..be good at lots of things…be around lots of people…..be this…be that……fake it until you make it. Now this wasn’t necessarily the school that said this. Tor my friends. But one group you said this is the ideal and another said that is is ideal and before long You don’t know what to think and you have the extremely unattainable checklist.

Secondly there’s that whole boyfriend thing- which is basically the something as above. And when those voices start in and you let them have control you get distracted from your purpose. And it’s easy to fall in love with idea of being in love.

The Influences I let have my ear were the problem

Between these two things I lost the sense of who I really was- I settled for what everyone else told me to do. Now I am not going to sit here and pretend that I knew who I was or what I was called to do going into college . I mean I thought I did , but I didn’t. I knew I was called into full time ministry and I knew I was supposed to go to the school I was at- and that my friends is all I knew about myself going into college. I had no real talents to speak of .

Understanding my true identity

I think one of the things lacking within the church at least where I was as a teen was fully understanding my identity in Christ and I saw the same thing in other people at college. Matter of fact it wasn’t something really taught at Bible College either. I think it’s the case of everyone thinking everyone else is teaching it. It can be talked about all day long but it needs to be taught. And what we end up with is the Devotions dilemma all over again. We use terminology without explaining what it means. So hundreds of kids hear about the concept of “doing devotions” but in the end have No idea what that looks like. And we can all sit at snow camp hearing about our “identity in Christ and how we should be rooted in that” but until we are actually taught what exactly that is – we go through life grasping at straws. And the two of those problems put together is recipe for disaster.

Finding myself

In college I firmly believed that my identity was in my serving NOT the act of serving but the actual specific ministry I served in. I didn’t know then -that this too was a lie because ministries come and go. I know that we are created to serve God and make him famous. But man when I had to leave that first ministry that I had grown to love so much I was devastated. Then I jumped into a bunch of different ministries that were NOT what I was called to do and I struggled. It’s like a rebound relationship really. (This is repeated later on in ministry on a much bigger scale.)

Practice

There have been times over the last 20 years that I haven’t struggled with knowing who I was. I was actively practicing the truths I had learned. It wasn’t easy but what I would later find out is this time was was a preparation for something that nearly killed us as a family. But because I had been applying those truths I was better equipped to trust God. I couldn’t trust anyone else. And as Much as hubby and I were on the same team it shook and tested our team. We too had to trust each other on a whole new level.

A Book that Changed Everything

A number of years later I read a quote that has stuck with me. It was by Renee Swope in her Book A Confident Heart. The quote at the beginning of the book basically says that when you go through something traumatic or a big change we need to take the time to pause and really strive to gain a new understanding of how this has Changed us and who we have now become. This was exactly what my damaged and hurting heart needed to hear. Because I had endured something horrific and horribly damaging and now had no idea how I fit into things: my ministry, my parenting,, society in general. So as I read her book something deep within my soul began to shift like never before and I gained this new thing called God-fidence.

I know that some of my friends think that I coined this term but I didn’t. It’s basically taking my eyes off myself and my own strength and knowing that God ihas got this and that he’s going to use this for his powerful purpose. Ad that meant that I had to be willing to use this horrible thing for his glory. When I did that God opened a whole new ministry- actually two. And I stepped through those doors and things began to happen.

Then the Enemy Stepped In. (AGAIN)

Whenever you take big steps in faith the enemy takes notice. And when he did, he used my biggest weakness…PEOPLE PLEASING. During this time I had stepped out in faith and done some things that were bigger than any ting I had ever done before The first one was something I have always loved to do- public speaking. Yep I am weird like that. God was preparing me to step out in His confidence NOT my own…I did and what ensued was me losing myself to the negativity. The second was being a part of a large conference (as in on the planning team) and the third was to work at a Crisis pregnancy center)

A Misplaced Trust

I had been pushed by people for a number of years to do speak and I was no way ready but through my study of confidence and then influence I knew it was time. I also had been convicted that I needed to speak truth when leading and I became unpopular very quickly. I struggled with this because I was told I needed to be more bold and then when I was it back fired. It’s amazing how quickly people can turn on you. And I let myself be silenced and I began the process all over again. I had to look deep within myself and ask the hard questions. I felt like a complete and utter failure. This was quite the process this go around and it came down to 3 things.

The three things that really changed my perspective

  • First I had to be in God’s Word- and not just for knowledge. had to be reading and searching for understanding- that which changes my heart- not just swells my brain.
  • Second I needed toast my friends to critique what I was writing and saying. Because I was blamed for being a certain way I had to allow people into my life who would keep me accountable for what I was saying. Even now as I write this I know there are two women and my husband who are going to read this and be honest with m. if Ive gone too far or if I’ve come across in an ungodly way. Considering all that had happened this was extremely hard because I had some misplaced trust before.
  • Third- after I had done the hard work of one and two I had a choice to make- Change the way I looked at y writing. I mean I kinda had this perspective before but It HAD to become more solidified if I was going to continue to write- I had to set aside the critics and not let them have power over me……and in that I have to ask myself two questions
    • Why am I writing this?
    • Does this fit into my purpose? (Hebrews 10:24)

And here we are Day 45

I once read that raising kids is a cycle. You keep teaching them the same lessons over and over again but in new and deepening lessons. Isn’t that the truth but the same is true in our lives. We just keep learning the same lessons over and over again in new and deepening lessons. It gets harder and so we need to keep practicing that God-fidence.

We all lose ourselves from time to time. We all go through stuff and it’s painful. In November We are going to dive into “Our Identity In Christ.” I have a mini-series of posts already in place. It is born out of years of learning this. I have definitely not arrived in any way on this Journey. I hit some major moments where this has been a mile marker in my life but each and everyday there is a need to practice practice practice. I am still working through many aspects of this journey. I know there are plenty of people who will tell you (and me ) they have arrived BUT that is a lie.
And as a friend so aptly put it this morning….we are truly never alone. God is always with us…He will never leave us or forsake us! It’s important for us to remind ourselves of the truths we know ….hmmm didn’t I JUST write a post about that!

A Spark of Joy

One of my favorite things is when talking with an elderly person and they share what new thing they have recently learned about God! It shows me that they are being authentic. They are willing to be honest that they haven’t arrived yet. And that is the greatest testimony of all!!

How about you? Did you ever “lose” Yourself? What changed?

Thank you so much for Joining me on Day 45 of Choosing Courage- My 100 Day writing project! You Can check out the previous posts here.