When Words Fail…

I’m a writer, so I obviously love words. I share them and sometimes they flow…But, there are also times when words fail me. Expressing appreciation and in the midst of conflict are the two most common times. Multiple times, I’ve caught myself saying, “I know this sounds meager, but thank you.” But, is it really? Because I can also think of times I would have appreciated nothing more than hearing a “thank you” or an “I’m sorry too”. I think most can relate. When words fail, how about getting back to the basics?

I’m sorry & thank you.

On my lunchtime walk today,  I was running these situations through my head. When hearts are hurt and heads are hot, words can go flying. It’s happened to me more than I’d like to admit. Then, I’m at a loss. I’ll bet most of you can relate. We have three choices. Let the relationship suffer and possibly die, stay in conflict, or do our part. May I suggest “I’m sorry”. This doesn’t mean the whole thing was your fault, it means “I’m sorry for my part in it.” How the other person accepts or responds is on them. Most conflicts are two sided. Can we just say “I’m sorry”. And, “What can I do differently here?”

When expressing gratitude for love given, lives shared, or deeds done, words fail me. I feel I could go on and on and on and it’s just not enough. So….”Thank you” will have to suffice. I can think of a few instances where I’ve gone above and beyond for someone who hasn’t done the same for me, and not even a “thank you” followed.

I remember thinking, “Man, not even a thank you!” How simple is that? Are they thankful at all or do they just not know that they should say it? We don’t know, so it leaves us feeling taken advantage of. Thank yous matter…they should be shared and not taken for granted. Thank a person. It’s the least you can do and honestly the most you can do for something they’ve given or done for you. Anything. Be it forgiveness, a listening ear, a hug, and ride, a sweet note, met you halfway, fed you.

As parents, we often say to our kids..”What do you say?” When a “Thank you” or an “I’m sorry” is warranted. So, how about as adults, we recognize how powerful these although “simple” phrases really are and what a long way they can go in our adult relationships? In some cases, what more can you say?

When someone shows they love me, I’m thankful. When someone says I’ve hurt them, I’m sorry. When words fly and fail, use them. They may just salvage or cement the relationship. If you truly mean them, you will have done your part in doing so.

 

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To Be Known….

known

I was talking to a friend earlier this week about what it means to be truly loved by someone and why that can be hard to receive or believe. For someone to truly love you, they need to know you. All of you. That’s terrifying. Once they truly know, what is there to love? We may be inclined to think.

To me, that’s why it’s also easier to sing “Jesus loves me, this I know” than to really take to heart that it’s true. But, it is. NO ONE knows you more or loves you more than Jesus. No one. Not your mom, dad, husband, or child. Not your best friend from 6th grade or your beloved college roommate.

Sometimes I scratch my head at how I could be loved in all my frustrated and over thinking ways. But, Jesus not only does, he made and loves me this way. He knows each and every flaw and insecurity. He knows why we have them and He knows that we need Him.

To be with a man who sees you at your weakest, your sickest, your most tired and most scattered, and views you in love is God’s plan for marriage. Can he admire you dolled up and respect you worn out? Can he open your door and shut out negativity? Can he make you smile and break out of routine? Does he agree on the big stuff and disagree respectfully on the others?

Can you be honest enough for him to know you?  It’s the only way he can love the real you. After all, that’s what we truly want.

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” — Timothy Keller

The Love We Crave

 

mercy

The love we crave is merciful. The love we crave is consistent, compassionate. The love we crave is unconditional, accepting, understanding. This is the kind of love we crave in all our relationships. Whether our parent, coworker, classmate, friend, or spouse is a Christian or not, we all crave this kind of love. Because, it’s respectful. It’s kind. It’s real.

If you’ve been raised or surrounded by the alternative (critical, rude, exclusive, controlling, demanding, or apathetic) you may not realize that you weren’t witnessing real love. If you’ve respected and loved someone with these characteristics, you’ll think you deserved the behavior because you loved the person dishing it out. You’ll find yourself drawn towards people like it because you think it’s love. If it’s all you’ve known, it’s all you know. Until someone polar opposite comes along and shows you or Jesus grabs a hold of your heart and shows Himself, your perspective is skewed.

Truth is, the character of Christ is where you find what true love is.

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 (NLT)

If a person is not patient or kind, don’t blame yourself. If a person is rude, guard your heart. If a person is controlling or demeaning, protect yourself. And, I’ll be the first to admit, this person has been me. When I act this way it is because I’m feeling depleted of love, tired, angry, over it. I’m needing refueled. I’m feeling unappreciated, unhappy, unloved. Many people who act this way, don’t realize this is the case. They don’t want to talk it out. They don’t want to be friends. They don’t want to share or trust. They just want to be left alone. If this is someone you love, respect, and admire, this is extra hard. Especially as daughters, if it is our dad, we crave this so much that we may inadvertently date and marry guys with similar characteristics in hopes of breaking a barrier that shouldn’t have to be broken in the first place. Trying to earn their love, approval, compassion.

Learn what love is and what love is not. Learn from Jesus. Watch their fruit. Pay attention to how they treat others. Be forgiving and merciful yourself. Most people are doing the best they know to do on any given day. Try to be a friend/coworker/sister/mom/spouse who displays this kind of love. How else will your children learn if they don’t see it for themselves? You can find that answer in the last sentence of paragraph two.

Perfect love does not come from our human relationships because we are all imperfect. But, by leaning into and immersing ourselves in the perfect love of God, we can have healthier, closer, and more genuine relationships with each other. Real love opens the gates of mercy, honesty, understanding, forgiveness, grace, and endurance.

The ultimate love we crave comes from Jesus who bled and died for us. Jesus, who when asked, loves to give love advice and has. Read about Him and how he treated others. All races, all sins, all diseases, all professions, all intellects. All social classes. He loved them all. And, He still does.

His love is why I write. His love is how we give and receive the love we crave to and from each other. His love is how we love ourselves properly. His love is why we’re here today. His love is why we’ll be in heaven forever. His love has been there all along. His love is the love we crave.

What exactly is Godly?

godly

I say I want Godly friendships, a Godly relationship, to be a Godly mother/wife/woman….but, what exactly does that mean? I am consistently reminded that I fall short of “Godly” myself. So, how can I have a Godly relationship when the other half of that relationship is me? I’m starting to realize that to be Godly is to view others as He does. Admitting our imperfections and accepting others. Fessing up when we mess up and leaning hard on Jesus in our weaknesses.

What is a Godly friendship? Does it mean we’re boring and have no fun? No. What it does mean is that we empathize with each other when we hurt, remind each other Whose we are, share joyous occasions, and laugh over the stuff we all have in common. A Godly friendship is a friendship that is anchored in prayer. Not competition. Not fixing each other. Not condemning each other. But, loving each other exactly as we are and where we are….as Jesus does. Celebrating growth and intimacy…..as Jesus does. Covering each other in grace when we fear judgment is what we deserve……like Jesus does. We should walk in the truth of who we are and remind each other when we forget.

What is a Godly romantic relationship? Does it mean it’s easy? No. Does it mean we won’t struggle with the same issues all relationships encounter? No. Does it mean we never disagree? No. What it means to me is that we view each other as God’s special, bought and paid for, son and daughter. How we view each other is different. This is what makes it Godly to me. Neither of us are like God, but look to God for help on how to love each other through whatever we are facing. Looking to God takes our struggles and rather than hardening our hearts, it softens them towards each other. We can be ourselves with each other. We celebrate the joys and recognize what brings the other happiness or frustration and act accordingly. We care about each other’s hearts.

A Godly relationship leads to a Godly marriage. And, having been through what I’ve been through, I would want nothing short of a husband who views me as God’s prized daughter, even at my worst. A treasure. This is what God intends for marriage. For the bride to be cherished. Knowing I am viewed and loved in this way allows me to be me. Open and honest about what bothers me. Which leads to a much healthier relationship.

What is a Godly mother? Is she perfect? No. Does she still have moments she looks back on and cringes? Yes. Biggest frustration being that she doesn’t know when it will happen again….because she knows it will. I’ve been getting more and more honest with my kids about what hurts, what I need from them, what I’ve been through, when I mess up, about my insurmountable need for Jesus in my life. They know that, to me, He comes first. As much as my heart aches when our relationships are strained, I can pour it out to Jesus and He reminds me who I am to Him. That brings me back to them renewed in my identity, regardless of their actions or reactions. I need that. Our kids can hurt us the most because we love them the most. Lean on Jesus when they do. Let Him love on you and build you up. Then, like we all do, head back in and carry on. It takes a love warrior not to throw the towel in sometimes.

Bottom line is we need to be ourselves. We need to be honest. We can’t be cherished for who we are if we aren’t being our true selves. If you have a friend, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, or sibling who loves you for you, prays for you, and views you as God’s special child, you have a Godly relationship. If you view others this way, pray for them, and point them back to the One who loves them most, you are a Godly person. And, I would love to be in relationship with you, which is another reason I share in this way. To relate, to connect with others who love God.

Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all. James 1:17

We may feel far from perfect, but we can be the perfect friend (gift) for someone who needs to know they are loved for who they are. Jesus wants us to not only know we are special to Him, but to let others know they are too. In our mess, He asks us to look to Him. In our pain, He asks us to cry to Him. In our joy, He delights in our praise to Him. He loves you with an everlasting love. A love like you’ve never known. A love waiting.

How Will You Know??

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When the relationship feels comfortable. When there is peace. When I feel confirmation from the Holy Spirit that I can believe the words that come out of his mouth. I have been sweet talked and pursued before, but this time it will be different.

We’ll have similar beliefs. Similar passions for honoring and seeking God in our present and our futures. He’ll understand my pain because he will have lived through his own. He’ll be tender and understanding. He’ll love my smile, understand my tears, and appreciate my heart. He’ll look for hobbies we can enjoy together. He’ll want to know and love my kids.

He’ll be intentional, but not pushy. He’ll encourage me to follow my peace and convictions. We’ll study and worship together.

He’ll be clear about his plans and want me in them. He’ll be generous with his time, money, and attention. He’ll be a giver.

He’ll have nothing to hide from me. We’ll both be open books. We’ll share our struggles and lessons learned. Our friendship will be our foundation. Oh, how sweet that will be.

I’ve shared before that I’m not a fan of dating. It’s so hard, especially with kids watching. But, this relationship? I’ll be a fan. And, it will be fun.

I trust that God is leading and, if it ends, I will still know that He is leading and be proud of the courage it takes to put my true self out there…

 

 

Out With the Old…

out with the old

…..and in with the new. The new year is fast approaching and it always feels like a fresh slate. I’m so grateful for what I’ve learned this past year. Each experience and leap of faith has strengthened me and reined in my focus. The holidays this year were tough for me. Just emotional. I cried tears of joy, sadness, sentiment….all true. There is truth in tears. I came to the conclusion that the heaping dose of emotion was because Christmas highlights families. When our families are broken in any way and most of ours are either by death, divorce, or estrangement, the feelings associated with the brokenness are also highlighted. God’s design was for us all to be together in peace, harmony, and love. When this isn’t the case, our souls understandably grieve.

The more we love, the more we grieve the loss of love. I found myself leaning on the Everlasting Arms more than ever and asking for a real life squeeze. I also found myself relishing in my blessings more than I had before. Getting emotional over my girls getting older and their Christmas lists changing…I found myself in tears over the birth of Jesus and wondering what more I could give to Him and others because of His gift. I know Jesus rescued me. He’s been with me every day whether I’ve felt it or not. In the physical loneliness, He is still there. Protecting me. All this I know in my brain. At certain times, like the holidays, our hearts are harder to convince. And, He knows that. He’s still there.

I’ve spoken to several friends who were also struggling or know someone who is during this season. The compassion and stories we shared, felt like a special gift. Coming together, relating, listening, and welcoming honesty is so healing. Having a safe place to share our feelings is priceless. Because we all have them. Our feelings make us human, our actions show our strength.

Take your feelings to God first. Get them out and be honest with Him. I’m so thankful that He welcomes our neediness. He craves it. Needing Him is how He created us. He longs to comfort and fulfill us. This is also His design. Then, cherish the friends you can share and be honest with. Cherish the ones who love you on your worst days. Cherish the friends who pray for you, cry with you, send you scriptures, and point you to the Jesus. They truly love you and want to spend eternity with you. We usually can’t fix each other’s deepest issues, but we can point each other to the One who can.

Regardless of our relationship status, we all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts that only He can fill. OUT with the old ways of trying to fill it, mask it, cover it, or deny it. And IN with the only way to live and love in this broken world….and that is with the love and strength of Jesus. Living in His strength all things ARE possible. Family members can reunite, siblings can bury the hatchet, new families can form, and healing can take place. A fresh slate is a beautiful thing and heaven is on the horizon. In with the new…

Married 7 times?!

commitment

I had a patient this morning who struggled to get on the bed for her test and said “try not to get old dear, it hurts.” I actually hear that from a lot of my patients and I try to remind them that it sure beats the alternative. Sadly, some of them still say, “well, I’m not so sure.” I told her “I’m so sorry it hurts, take your time”.  She replied with “that’s life honey, it just hurts”. Then she started to tell me about her life and how she should have “taken better care of herself”.

She explained that she dove headfirst into all the drinking, drugs, and sex she could get a hold of. She even shared with me that she had been married SEVEN times! That just blew me away. I incorrectly assumed that she had been left seven times and started to try to console her. She quickly and honestly corrected me by saying she’s the one who always left. Wow! She affirmed that all of her husbands had been good men with the exception of one. I asked her why she left and she told me she just “got bored”. This was such an eye opening conversation for me since it was coming from a woman.

She says she didn’t become a Christian until she was in her 40s. But, even then she still left husbands. She reminded me that the Christian journey is just that, a journey. Change and wisdom don’t come overnight. I guess they could if God so chooses, but typically it takes time, alot of grace, experiences, and failures to learn how much God loves us and how He wants us to love others. She is a strong Christian woman now. She loves God with all her heart and confided in me that the main reason she left all her husbands was because she didn’t know that love meant commitment. She thought love was based solely on feelings and once they faded, she got bored and just left. She says she knows now that love is a choice and a commitment that you make in spite of feelings.

I wanted to share her testimony because it really spoke to my heart. She shared with me that her pastor has asked her to speak on marriage and she told him she could only speak on what NOT to do. That’s valuable too and I think she should! We need to hear what not to do as much as what to do. Her parting words of advice to me were when you are married and look over at your spouse and wonder “what the heck am I doing with this person?” or have an argument (which you will). Don’t leave! Work through it, make the choice to love and STAY. Pray and get the help necessary, but stay. Sidenote: you can’t MAKE someone stay who doesn’t want to be there and you shouldn’t stay if there is any form of abuse or unrepentant infidelity. I’m aware that every troubled marriage has different variables going on.

She reminded me to never get married on feelings alone because although our feelings change every day, the commitment to love shouldn’t. If you get married on feelings alone, you may very well leave when those feelings fade. They will ebb and flow, but the commitment should stand firm. The only reason she kept getting married over and over was because she “felt” like it was right……seven times. And she is single today. Feelings are fickle and lust fades. But, true love grows.

She reminded me that only God’s love can satisfy. She reminded me that we can bless others even after we fail over and over. She reminded me that God can and will use us to reach and teach others no matter what has happened in our pasts or who we “were”. She reminded me that pointing others towards Jesus is the single most loving act you can perform in ANY relationship (including marriage) because His love is the ONLY love guaranteed not to up and leave by choice or death. Even the blessed couples that make it till death do they part, will still part, unless Jesus returns first.

She regrets the string of broken hearts she left behind in her brokenness. Today, she blessed and inspired mine and we are both grateful for that. God is a God of restoration. I asked her if I could share her story and she said she would be honored. May God bless her abundantly for sharing with me.