There’s one particular friend who can’t seem to do things exactly right. It’s as though when she buys me a gift, it’s the one color I dislike. When she says she’ll see me soon, she forgets because she “had to run more errands” and shows up 30 minutes late. When she’s trying to be thoughtful, it’s awkward.
Now, issues like this would be fine as an isolated incident, but she always and repeatedly acts this way.
I know her heart, but she lets me down – even though her intentions are good.
It is easy for me to judge her. And, I have. Her wrong timing. Her wrong words. Her wrong ways.
But, recently, I’ve been wondering if I’ve been wrong?
God says: “Bear with each other . . . ” (Col. 3:13 NIV)
Where God wants us to bear with one other, the enemy wants to tear us apart.
Recently, I started noticing my 7-year old son’s tendency for ungratefulness. I’ll buy him the world and he acts as though I owe it to him. I go out of my way to reverse my car so he can see one particular person that looks like his teacher and he gets upset I didn’t do it fast enough. I make him a special dinner and he hardly notices. He tells me he wanted something different.
I’m like my son. I get ungrateful. I don’t see the good. I want things to cater to me at times.
I repent of this. The reality is, this friend is not perfect, but she’s pursuing relationship as best she can. She has many outstanding characteristics about her. She is giving. She makes time to show up. She goes out of her way to be thoughtful.
I’ve been hard on her. I’ve made a mistake.
I am sorry God. Father, will you help me to see the good in others, before critiquing the bad? Will you help me give thanks for the beauty you’ve created in them, even when it is hard to see?
“Make allowance for each other’s faults . . . ” (Col. 3:13 NLT)
May I make allowance so I can draw closer rather than giving enemy room to drive us apart. Thank you for your help, Father God.
You’ve been with him for so long now. You know, love and treasure Him. He is God. Jesus cannot be harmed by common men who aren’t God. You must protect Him. You must keep Him from harm. He must remain with you.
You pull Jesus aside to address his comment that He must suffer. You say, “Jesus, far be it with you. This will never happen with you.”
You’re only trying to help. You’re only trying to save Him. You’re only trying to preserve Him from harm.
Jesus replies to you, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Mt. 16:23)
You were a stumbling block. Why?
You had good intentions, but you injected yourself where you weren’t invited to intervene.
The plan was owned by Father & Son , not Father & Son + disciple.
We can do the same thing in the lives of those we love. The plan is between Father & son or Father & daughter. Yet, we weasel our way right in, saying, “Nope this right here is about Father & Son + me + my opinions + my fear!” We take out our chisel and crack into God’s good plan. Woe to us who break what God is building in others.
We often break God’s good plan in others when we:
1. Tell people what to do.
2. Decide how people should think.
3. Instruct people based on our opinions.
4. Try to run in and fix bad situations.
5. Demand others think well of us.
6. Rescue people from their feelings of sadness, loneliness, etc.
7. Excuse away people’s issues, rather then letting them confront them.
I assure you: when a lesson is delivered by us, it’s forgettable. But delivered by God, it is unforgettable, undeniable and unbelievably life-changing.
Let’s make room for what God is doing. He has things handled.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to proceed. What does this person need to hear in order to start acting differently?
There’s validity to our questions. In reality, our wisdom leads to dead ends. Over-strategizing doesn’t work. When we control others, we grip a slippery wall, powerless.
The flesh is death.
The Spirit is life.
“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Ro. 8:6
The other points us to Christ as we await his best thing.
One musters up faith through actions and reactions.
The other leans on God through heart connection.
One is reactive to insults.
The other is reflective and submitted to truth.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Ro. 8:26
The Spirit in us gives life to us. He not only cares our your problems, but groans on our behalf, the exact words we cannot muster.
Do you feel unaccounted for? Do you feel left behind? Do you not know what direction to head? Fear not, whatever you don’t know, God does. His plan is not to hide the plan, but to reveal it.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:9-10)
There is goodness prepared for you. There is an uncovering of your way being revealed by the Spirit. Therefore, wait, with faith. Trust, with hope. Be governed by the Spirit. He is always your best way.
“Believing we can have it all, all the time is a myth and a lie and a joy-stealer. What I do believe is that we can have God’s best for us. A full life and a life to the full are two very different things. One is about grasping, the other is about receiving. One is about cramming in, the other is about room to breathe. One is about striving, the other is about trust. One is about control, the other letting go – sometimes for a moment and sometimes for always.”
When I read this, in Holley Gerth’s new book, Fierce Hearted, all I could think was, yes, yes, yes. She nailed it and was saying everything I was living. You see, God recently invited me into this beautiful place of, “Set it all down Kelly. Come. And follow me.”
Set down the social media stuff. Follow me.
Set down your plans. Follow me.
Set down your busy work. Follow me.
Set down your dreams. Be with me.
My answer was, “Yes, God!!!”
But you see, it’s easy to speak, but much more difficult to do. To leave behind the striving to be seen, to turn away from the control that comes with manhandling my schedule and to surrender my busyness that covers over the sense of lack I don’t want to see. . . well, it all sounds nice, but. . .
It leaves me feeling exposed. What if I am not doing what I should be? What if I miss out? What if I am left behind? What if I don’t get what I dream of? What if my time spent with God ends up (and I’d probably never vocalize this). . . wasted? What if I get disappointed?
Yet I am finding it is always in the letting go that God works his way in. It is always in the relinquishing that we get a broad-stroke view of what God is doing. It is always in carved-out space that we see God draw new stories right over the old versions of insecurity.
But we must give leeway to His ways. It’s the only way.
When we clear out everything so God can come, He does. With power, strength, dignity, honor and a pen that redraws all we ever wanted – and more. He also has an eraser. One that doesn’t feel like denial, remorse or pretending, but recovery.
“Our everything” is not found in “our doing,” but “His everything” is found in “our undoing” before Him.
Come, Jesus. Restructure us. Let us let go of what we clench so tightly so we can find ourselves held tight in the power of your love. Amen. (and thank you Holley!)
Buy Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely on Amazon or wherever books are found.
Relieve yourself of this. You don’t have to have it all marked out with lines pointing to things, with circles around events, checkmarks next to your part and supporting roles delineated.
It’s not your show. It’s not your story to write.
God is Creator. He is also Author God. Let him write a better story than you can. Give up your need to theorize, summarize and categorize people and all the details that go with them.
If Jesus wanted you to be ruler, he would have let you know this before he died, but he didn’t.
His grace is your grace when you give Jesus space to fill the blank lines. Then, you actually get a chance to see God work. But if you already have every line filled in and filled up, what room does this leave an active, always-writing, ever-working God?
Avoid your need to know. Eve wanted to know everything. Satan wanted to know he was higher than God.
Knowing is not our goal. Abiding is. Stick to abiding. Self-soaked ambition masked in some cover of godliness is still nastiness. Intellectual know-how covered with a know-it-all attitude still stinks.
Jesus talked to the Pharisees like this:
“You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Mt. 23:27-28
Choose instead to let Jesus wash you. White. Clean.
Let him be highest. The highest scheduler. The highest orchestrator. The highest lover. The highest mountain. The highest plan.
You don’t have to have it all figured out. You don’t have to know every detail. You don’t have to be in tune with the whens or the whys. You know the WHO. It’s Jesus. He has you. He has a plan.
Prayer: Jesus, it’s all about your heart. It’s all about your desires. It’s all about you coming to earth, so that we could come to heaven and be with you always. Don’t let us lose sight of what matters. What a waste it is to have eternity with you, but to miss daily life with you. We want every moment with you. Restore that to us. We repent of what is not ours to keep, manage and rule. We trust you with what you want to give us. We lean on you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
I love so many things about the month of December.
The memories, the gatherings, the excitement for what’s coming. Twinkle lights everywhere after dark. Remembering the story of Jesus’ birth with the angels and shepherds and a star leading souls toward a newborn King—the one who changed everything.
One of my favorite things is looking back to remember. Another favorite is looking forward. It’s the in-between that trips me up. Do you know what I mean?
I’m at that point in December—like every other year—where I feel buried by the schedule and all the many to-do’s. It’s like I have to keep running, running, running–to make this pick-up time and that deadline and those purchases and these events. None of it is too much, on its own. But add it all together, and I’m one frazzled Mom.
Today, however, I read a passage that transformed my frantic feelings, and I wondered if you need this too. Do you need to press pause on all the things, in the middle of December, in order to behold the glory of God?
I know a place where we can always go–not to hide from our lives but to find refuge instead.
I hope you’ll come with me. Let’s dig into the Word of God, and let Him do His beautiful thing in our hearts. Right now. Today.
I hope you’ll spend some time reading these scriptures, and read the passages around them as well. I like to copy the words by hand, sometimes on a colored card or along the edges of my day planner…yes, I still use paper planners. ? You may want to read them repeatedly, even memorize them. Any time you spend focusing on the Lord will be a gift to you.
5 Places to Pause When Life Feels Frantic
There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. 1 Samuel 2:2 (NIV)
Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? Exodus 15:11
For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? 2 Samuel 22:32
I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:1-2
I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. Isaiah 45:5-6
Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.
My husband noted, “God has lined everything up just right. It’s almost as if I thought nothing was happening, but God was doing everything.”
We continued to talk. He had no idea, at the time, he was meeting just the right people to help him in his time of need. He had no idea that chance encounters in a Starbucks, random introductions by friends, and shifting situations behind the scenes, would produce SO much. But, at the right time, when all things were laid out just so, everything changed.
While my husband had no idea what God was orchestrating, God was orchestrating it all. He was orchestrating what could not be seen.
God is always working. God’s timing is perfect. His plan is perfection.
Just yesterday, I had planned to go take a walk by the ocean. After I dropped the kids off at school I was going to make the drive. There was only one problem, I remembered I had to run back to the house to tackle something.
Ugh. Now, I can’t go. Frustrated, I headed home. I tackled what I needed to. Then, I met with God.
During that time, with God, some lightbulbs went off. I realized I so often don’t expect God’s great; I expect average or a blah-meeting. While God is a good dad, I expect him to give me a bit and then turn away to do other things.
I decided I wanted to see His goodness. I wanted to know His abundant heart.
After praying, I felt prompted to take that walk with Him at the beach. I am so glad I did. There, orange butterflies came flying in off the ocean. There, dolphins were jumping all around me. There, I established: God is brilliantly beautiful. God is giving. God orchestrates perfect timing.
What if I didn’t make that layover at my house? I probably would have missed the show of his wonder he had planned to set off at just that hour when I was at the beach. I probably would have gotten there hours earlier.
But, God knew. God always knows. He knows what He is lining up for you. He knows what he is doing behind the scenes. He knows the details he is currently working out. . . that will come to fruition at just the right time. You are not lost to Him. You are not outside of His working plan. There is a time for beauty and He is working on it.
“God has made everything beautiful for its own time. (Ecclesiastes. 3:11).”
When my mom was sick a couple of years ago a palliative care doctor was assigned to her case.
Palliative care is the multidisciplinary approach to specialized medical care for people with life-limiting illnesses, focussing on providing relief from pain and physical and mental stress of the terminally ill patient and their family.
But Dr. Robinson was more than that.
Though she was first trained in neurology it was obvious her heartbeat was in palliative care. I could tell early on she was gifted from God for this vocation because she gained my sister’s trust which is nearly impossible to do.
Dr Robinson naturally doled out comfort, concern and love in the most difficult of situations. She was warm and caring like the favorite blanket you want to wrap up in on a cold, raw day. And raw was a good description for the way my sister and I felt in the days leading up to Mom’s death.
Dr. R. took time to know each of us. We exchanged business cards. She even said she would read my blog and to my surprise she actually did.
After my mom’s death I wrote a post on advanced directives, I re-titled: Love to Perfection, Leave Direction. You see, a lot of our emotional trauma in those last days came from the fact we didn’t know what my mom wanted and she could’t tell us. She had always talked about a living will but neither my sister nor I could remember her writing it up or where it would have been placed if she had. After reading my post Dr. Robinson asked if she could share my blog with her colleagues to help them understand what families go through. I, of course, said yes. Goodness, what blogger wouldn’t want a few more clicks on their site?
A couple of weeks ago my phone rang. I let it go to voicemail when I didn’t recognized the number. When I listened to the message I heard the kind, soft-spoken voice of Dr Robinson. I was touched. I returned her call and we chatted. She asked how I was and about each of my siblings. Then she told me something that floored me.
As the need for palliative care has taken root, over the last year and a half Dr R. has traveled literally around the world (even Russia) delivering lectures and instructing doctors on the intricacies of her vocation. But that’s not what gave me goosebumps, after all that’s her heart. But what she said next, did.
She told me she had been taking the words from my post and using them in her seminars around the globe.
In a world where quotas matter, to-do lists keep us running and one more click to your website is paramount, her words spoke like a prophetic message straight from God.
Numbers don’t count, only people do.
So why do you do what you do? To be liked? To stay competitive? To get it done? Get ahead? Or for the sheer joy of being in your gifting and bringing glory to God however He sees fit?
And what do I want? More numbers to my website or more hearts equipped and trained to love those in need?
I have no doubt God orchestrated my meeting of Dr Robinson in December of 2015. That’s the kind of God we serve. While I was thinking about possibly raising numbers God was thinking about possibly touching hearts.
Perhaps we get too caught up in what people expect from us rather than what God wants to do through us.
Work out our purpose.
Because it is in living out our purpose we find true joy. And I’ll have to say, on this day, I found it.
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About Christy Mobley
Christy is an award winning writer, national speaker, wife, mother, mother-in-law, and first time grandma! She is passionate about helping women see God working for their good in the midst of their circumstances.
When Christy isn’t with family, speaking or writing, you can find her on the tennis court chasing a fuzzy yellow ball. You can connect with Christy on her blog, Joying in the Journey, Facebook, and Twitter
The sun shone bright in the kitchen the day I realized I had no one I could call. Standing at the counter, slicing a pear into bite-sized pieces for my 10-month-old firstborn, I’d instead sliced my finger. I stood silent at the sink, letting water wash over the wound and watching blood swirl in the basin. After bandaging my finger, I reached down for my son, placed him in his highchair, spread the pears on his tray, and in what seemed the very next moment, I woke up underneath the kitchen table. I had fainted, and it felt as if my brain was rebooting after being switched off. My body felt clammy and weak, and as I lay there, immobile, my initial panic subsided as I heard the happy gurgles of my boy, safe with his pears.
It was then that the thought intruded: Who will I call to come help me? I did not have an answer, because I did not have a friend. The knife had opened my finger, but it seemed to have opened a far greater wound, a wound I’d tried desperately to ignore, hide, and resist–the wound of loneliness.
At that time, I was a young pastor’s wife, a young mother, and young in my understanding of God’s grace. When I picture myself in those years, I think of myself in two places: in my home and all tangled up in my own head.
After college, I’d waited for friends to appear, as they’d appeared in every other era of my life–through youth group and band and softball teams and housemates. And they, in fact, hadn’t appeared. I felt as if I’d forgotten how to do friendship and wondered if I was no longer friend-able. In my insecurity, I remained isolated, both in my home and in my head.
I remember hoping another mother would invite me out after morning Bible study. I remember desiring one of the older pastor’s wives to take me under her wing. After my pear-eating boy received a devastating diagnosis, I remember wishing others would intentionally step into my shoes and walk with me, tell me what to do, or care for me in some way.
I was lonely for a friend.
Many women are, I know this now. Many feel forever on the outside. Many have been hurt by other women, so they intentionally stay on the outside so as not to be hurt again. And many feel their genuine attempts at friendship have produced little fruit.
Friendship is not as simple as we’ve been led to believe. But here’s something else I now know: loneliness isn’t always as complex as we’ve been led to believe either.
Sometimes Loneliness is a Gift from God.
Whether we’re new to a neighborhood or a church, whether a good friend has moved away or died, or whether a once close friendship has shifted, any type of change or separation can arouse a sense of loneliness and longing in our hearts. When we have them, we long for healthy relationships and happy life circumstances to remain static. We long for deep community and a sense of belonging. We long for the good old days when friendships came easy and we could enjoy those friends without all the adult responsibilities and burdens mixed in.
Longing is not a misplaced desire. In fact, the longing for friendship is a good one. How we pursue or respond to that longing, however, is important. We must remember that perfect relationships and perfect community and perfect circumstances do not exist on this side of eternity. Knowing that life and friendship will always be imperfect helps us embrace what we do have as grace and gift, even if the current gift is aloneness.
Our aloneness is a gift because it teaches us to turn our desires to the Lord in prayer and swells our hearts with a hope and eagerness for our true home with Jesus. Sometimes God may love us best by calling us to aloneness, precisely so that He can meet us intimately in a time when He has our full attention. We can be at peace with our aloneness, knowing that we have access to God and can cast all our cares and desires upon Him. Because all is gift and grace, we can wait in aloneness with eager expectation of how God might also give us the gift and grace of togetherness.
Sometimes Loneliness is Self-Imposed
Curiously, many of us seem to be standing beside one another, holding identical longings for friendship yet resolutely believing we’re alone in them. The truth is we aren’t actually wandering alone; we’re practically tripping over each other as we grasp at our dreams of friendship that is perfect and easy. These ideal dreams of friendship are often created and watered in our loneliness, and these dreams produce bitterness as we begin demanding from others and from God according to our exacting standards.
I certainly speak from experience. As I look back at my twenties, I see a lonely girl with a stubborn wish-dream. I see a lonely girl because of the stubborn wish-dream. A friend, according to my dream, would have been in her twenties (like me), been married and had children (like me), and understood what ministry entailed (like me). At the same time, I was afraid to ask for help, afraid to initiate, and deathly afraid of being vulnerable. I wanted the gift, but I was unwilling to do anything to receive or unwrap it.
I did pray, and I did cry. And all throughout that time, God was answering. He was good to me in my aloneness; He was the friend who was constantly present. But He was also answering with real people, imperfect people (like me), who lived beside me and went to church with me and who were a few steps ahead and behind me. I see this now, but at the time I couldn’t see past my wish-dream, my standards, and all my bitter longings. If I’d just looked around and if I’d just have been willing to take a few risks of vulnerability and initiation, I would have experienced the answer God was trying to give me.
That’s what I learned that day when the knife cut my finger and opened my heart. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anyone I could call; it was that I was afraid to call. It was that I would have rather drowned in self-sufficiency and isolation than risk reaching out or admitting my loneliness.
Are you lonely for a friend? Loneliness is nothing to be ashamed of; turn to God with your deepest desires and needs. While His love is steady and sure, know that nothing is constant about our relationships with one another–there will be times of abundance as well as times of aloneness. Cultivate a heart posture that receives both aloneness and togetherness as gift and grace. Perhaps this will give you fresh eyes for the women there all around you.
Christine Hoover is a pastor’s wife, mom to three boys, a speaker, and the author of several books, including From Good to Grace, and her latest, Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships.
When Christine and her family moved from Texas to Charlottesville, Virginia in 2008 to plant a church, she got a much-needed re-do on making and deepening friendships. She now loves to help other women discover the surprising reasons friendship often eludes them, and she also loves helping them find the community they crave.
It wasn’t a question. From the time he’d walked in the door my tone had been short and snippy. He knew I’d had a long day and needed time to myself, even though I was insisting on cleaning up the dishes.
After stalling several times on my way out the door, I left. I played worship music in the car and talked to God about the things that were bothering me.
I didn’t take much time to listen. I didn’t pause to see whether he had an answer to my endless list of concerns and complaints.
But since our God is faithful and more patient than I deserve, he kept speaking.
One day in early February the weather was crazy warm. Spring warm. Our family went for a walk, and my five-year-old paused every five seconds to pick up rocks and sticks. He found his favorite bridge (a slat of wood) and hopped across, quite pleased with himself as he ran down the other side of the ravine.
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