There are people I do not share my hard times with. Of course, I share these times with you all! I love opening up to you (plus, you all listen so well). Thank you for being amazing. Thank you for all the prayers you’ve prayed over the years. I pray for you too.
But, like I said, there are people I don’t share with. Why?
The people I don’t share hard stories and deep emotions with, tend to:
– turn the story back around to themselves, ignoring my heart issue.
– put down what I have shared, telling me, “That’s not a big deal.”
– immediately go to advice-giving.
– spread my story to other people.
– judge me when I am talking.
– not empathize or show any compassion.
Unfortunately, because I repeatedly give unsafe people the benefit of the doubt — I’ve gotten hurt, repeatedly. After a lot of hurt, one must learn. Wise people use discernment in what they share and with whom they share it with.
Have you been hurt by people’s responses too?
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Mt. 7:6)
I forgive people, for they know not what they do — and, usually, they are really trying their best. I take responsibility. I cannot continually go to a well that does not have living water flowing from it.
At the same time, it makes me think — how do I respond to people?
– Am I quick to listen and slow to speak?
– Do I reserve judgment?
– Do I stay calm and patient in the process of their sharing?
I can’t say it is always great (especially with my kids). I too, need help in the “truly-listening” department.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (Ja. 1:19)
A few words can make a huge impact. It is not the wisdom that I carry; it is the heart that God wants us to bring.
What if I were to listen from the heart? What if we were to be the safe people? How might God use us?
Prayer: God, help me! Help me to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Help me to ditch anger, for love. Father? I also forgive those who have dissed me when I was sharing. I let them off the hook. Give me wisdom in whom to share with and whom not to. I love you, always and forever. You are my King! You are Lord! You are my everything. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
One of my favorite coffee cups is the red cup. It has the word “love” on it, written in a heart. It also has a gold handle. Anyway, this morning, as I sat thinking and praying for the Breakthrough Retreat (details at at the bottom of the email), I noticed that this very-red cup now had a faint gold handle, where it once had been bright.
Not only that, but my coffee inside of it had gone cold too.
Has my heart felt more cold lately? Has my love been fading out? It is something worth considering…
Jesus tells us that there will come a point that, “because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…” (Mt. 24:10)
It’s a scary thought, but I think many of us, in many ways, can already see this happening.
Is it happening with you? Is it happening with me?
I have noticed, I’ve felt increasingly annoyed at some people online. Impatient with others. On edge around my kids. Hard on myself.
Yet, we all are learning and growing. We are not perfect; we are becoming. We are the light of Christ. We know and reflect the King of all glory. We are all needing healing in different areas of our lives. Do we live this way? Do we give others room to discover God and life this way?
Do we extend patience towards ourself? Receive grace that helps us recover?
Most of all, are we connected to the vital vine of Jesus? Are we so filled with His love that we ooze it everywhere?
“We love because he first loved us.” (1 Jo. 4:19)
We are kind to ourselves because He is kind to us. We are full of love towards our husband, because He is full of love towards us. We extend grace, because we have received it.
Seeking God is our highest pursuit pursuit. We do not want our love to grow cold, nor our ability to receive the abundance of His grace to be hindered.
Which is why I created the Breakthrough Retreat. It offers us the space and the grace to heal, to be together, to be encouraged.
I want to get to know you — and I want you to get to know other Purposeful Faith readers, as we all get to know God. Tomorrow (Sat. Jan. 9), we will kick off the first retreat from 10 AM ET – 1 PM ET.
Breakthrough Retreat 1/27
Make space to encounter God. Gain new strength for this year.
January 9, 2020 from 10 AM ET - 1 PM ET via Zoom.
You can attend live or watch the recorded version. I would love to connect with you, pray for you and help you to walk into 2021 with renewed passion for God and for others. I pray that you might consider joining. I believe this will be a life-transforming event. I expect renewed faith and hope for all of us. I can’t wait to see your face.
Breakthrough Retreat 1/27
Make space to encounter God. Gain new strength for this year.
January 9, 2020 from 10 AM ET - 1 PM ET via Zoom.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Will there be a recorded version?
If you are unable to attend, but you would like to be a part of the event on your own time, my plan is to create a recorded version. Simply buy a ticket for the retreat and let me know via email that you will be “watching at home”. I will send you the file after it is complete. For more information or if you have questions contact firstname.lastname@example.org
2. How will we have the meeting?
The event will be hosted on Zoom. Please check your Zoom account for updates prior to the event. Lines will be muted.
3. How often will you be having retreats?
I would like to have these retreats quarterly or every other month. My dream is that we can know each other. I would also like to place people into small groups that they can regularly meet with and form relationships. My dream is that we become even more of a tight-knit community. I will love to pray for the small groups at times and I hope this is something that can continue for a long time.
4. How can I continue to connect and build accountability?
I will be creating a dedicated page for your small group to meet, talk, encourage and support each other. I am looking for alternate locations to Facebook. Stay tuned. I hope to announce this during the retreat so that you can continue to meet with a small band of women. Additionally if I can set it up (depending on the retreat group size), I may even have you meet your small group during the event.
5. Is there more I can do with you?
On the retreat, I will share some more ways we can go deeper and grow in intimacy with God. Stay tuned.
6. Will I stay with my small group?
Yes, I hope to form a small group at the first event and to keep you connecting at future retreats. Let’s do life together!
7. Can I invite my friends to join this or is it only for Purposeful Faith readers?
Everyone is welcome!
Breakthrough Retreat 1/27
Make space to encounter God. Gain new strength for this year.
Things are not what they seem. It’s like walking at night. You think you see a person, but it is only a shadow. In the light, you can see how the darkness fooled you.
There is more than meets the eye.
I love the story in 2 Kings 6:15-17 that illustrates this point…
“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.”
He was surrounded; it looked like there was no way out, no way to win and no hope. Maybe you’re in a place like that today…
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
“And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
Just because it looks like defeat, does not mean you’re defeated. Just because you feel all alone, doesn’t mean that you are. Just because you can’t see all that God is doing for you, doesn’t mean He isn’t doing anything.
Things are not always what they seem.
Darkness can easily trick us into seeing things or believing things… But, in God’s light, there is always more of Him and His forces with us, than against us.
Can you even imagine what you might see if God opened your eyes up the way He did Elisha’s? How might He be defending you, protecting you or fighting your battle?
This is a funny story. A turtle showed up on my doorstep. Can I tell you all? He was the cutest turtle. His back had all these fun little stripes and lines and I just loved the little fellow the second I saw him… But, before long, I knew we’d have to return him back to the wild, much to my son’s disappointment.
When we released him, I felt like I was watching some sort of kids movie. The little guy swam off into the lake behind our house and there was nearly a dry-eye. There should have been sad music playing in the background. The second he was gone, we all wanted him back.
My son prayed just that, “God, bring me a turtle back.”
About a week later, my boy came into the kitchen from a playdate at a friend’s house. He said, “Mom, I have a surprise for you!” He led me outside with my eyes closed.
I looked down and saw, not one, but two turtles. God hadn’t just addressed my son’s loss by answering His prayer, but He’d given him a double-portion.
Some of us, like what happened with my son, are experiencing loss. We have lost a relationship, a person, a dream or a hope and it seems it is long gone. We miss — what was. We want to cry. We feel so — at a loss…
I understand this. However, what looks like loss, through Christ is gain. What looks like defeat, through Christ, is resurrection life. What looks like the end, through Christ, is only a new beginning.
Just as God brought back — not one, but two — turtles for my son, God can bring back life, hope and joy to you, in a double portion.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Eph. 3:20-21)
Our God is prepared to do: more than we can ask, more than we can imagine, more than we can understand.
Today, what would it look like for you to get beyond your own understanding, to leave the past in the past, and to hope again?
Someone has taken advantage of me. By all appearances, it seems they’ve used a position of power to force my hand. They’ve taken from me. It smells like trickery because I am left the fool. Now, I have no choice but to do what they want. Grr…
Yet, the more I pray, the more I feel God nudging my heart: not to fight back, but to give-in. Yes, to give in to what they want.
It feels like the lesson of this situation wants to stick to my heart. It tries to teach me that I am weak. It wants to convince me that people will take advantage of me again.
I can’t trust again. I must rise up and be powerful, so I don’t get hurt.
Yet, God speaks differently.
In His Word, I am reminded of the time the Arameans were coming against Elisha and the Israelites. Here, the enemy had the whole city surrounded and was about to strike. Elisha was trapped; the others had a clear advantage.
At this point, Elisha used wise prayer; He asked God to blind His enemies. When the forces finally opened their eyes, they quickly discovered they were defeated. They went in the wrong direction. The Israelites had won.
Although Elisha used a powerful powerful prayer strategy, this is not the part that most speaks to me. The part that speaks to me is how Elisha appeared to give way, to give in, to an enemy.
Take a look…
Once they had the Arameans trapped, “The king of Israel … shouted to Elisha, “My father, should I kill them? Should I kill them?”
“Of course not!” Elisha replied. “Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master.”
So the king made a great feast for them and then sent them home to their master. After that, the Aramean raiders stayed away from the land of Israel. (2 Kings 6:21-22)”
The enemy didn’t just get food, they got a feast. Why was this able to happen? Because they trusted God more than the people who hurt them.
And, this is what speaks to my heart today. I can trust God more than the person who hurt me. Why? Because God holds all power. God holds the purse-strings to everything. God makes armies bow. God brings redemption where things were stolen. God restores. And, He is always faithful.
Much more do I want to rely on God, than to allow a person’s actions declare who I am or how I will act. No. I won’t do that. God wins. He knows.
So, I go ahead and prepare a feast for someone who is acting like an enemy.
I feel convicted. It is easy to read God’s word and to say, “Yep, that thing right there is what I need to do…”. Yet it is quite another thing to do it. It is easy to develop a three-step plan for improvement, but it is hard to see it through. It is easy to remind yourself of all the ways you really need to change. And then to never find change.
At home, as a mom, I’ve recognized 3 things that need to change:
1. I give in to my children when they ask repeatedly for something.
2. I desperately avoid paths of resistance to keep everyone happy.
3. I have a hard time setting boundaries because I feel guilty.
Friends, I guess I feel a little angry at myself that I haven’t changed these things already. That I haven’t recognized them and reworked them. That I still struggle. That I cause issues at home sometimes. That I can’t stand it when people feel unhappy or angry at me.
I know I am wrong; I am a pushover. I am disappointed in myself.
Maybe you feel like me; disappointed in how you are, what you are doing or where you are today. Maybe you’ve told yourself you’re going to stop cussing, start praying or you’re 100% going to speak nicely now. Or that you’re going to get yourself to where you want to go.
Are we justified to feel this way? To “get our self where we want to go”? To “work up” some sort of inner-heart conversion?
Only God can change a heart.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36: 26-27)
– God gives us a new heart.
– By his work, he removes the stone.
– The Spirit, in us, moves us to follow God’s decrees and laws.
Only by a work of God can we work-out any real and lasting life change.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Ps. 127:1
So where does this leave us? In prayer and with faith.
God will complete the good work He has begun in us. (Phil. 1:6) We no longer need to be angry at ourselves but 100% trustworthy in the Saviors saving work, that is at work within us.
Feelings can be frightening, overwhelming a heart to the point of desperation and misery. Or prisons, entrapping one to past experiences, traumas or memories. Often they become future proclamations, declaring over us, “What was, always will be. You’ll never escape this emotion.” Feelings, on the other hand, can be amazing, liberating and soul-rejuvenating. Just think of the best day of your life!
What do we do with them?
Up, down and all around – they move like the wind. Like a hurricane or an underground rocking that shakes the foundation of who you are. I get all this. I know how anger has made me act, in days of old. I remember getting all up into my sisters face. And the feelings of self-annoyance I perpetually lived with. The depression that made me feel like there was no good way out of life.
Feelings can be fun, or no fun. They can be old and then haunt us again.
Yet, just because they show up on our doorstep doesn’t mean we have to answer the door so they stay forever. We are not obligated to say, “Come on in and make yourself at home.”
I fear some of you have done this. Sadly, now old feelings are cramping your good style. They’ve spread out all over the space of your soul, heart and mind, stealing your attention on God, negating God’s good plan for your life and telling you that there’s no way you can be enough.
People ask me what to do with “feelings”?
Well, I think when we see them at our doorstep, we peep out the side window and first acknowledge them. We allow them and we even bring them to God. There he is again, “Mr. Disappointment” I see him there, trying to get in. God, what do you think about this? What does your word say about hanging out with this emotion for too long?
Then, with wisdom, we decide whether or not they can sit in our house for long periods of time.
We can do this by asking ourselves a few questions:
1. Are these feelings going to cause me to dwell on what is “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy” or lesser things? (Phil. 4:8) Are they leading me to life or death?
2. Are they reinforcing God’s truth or are they backed by lies?
Example: If God says he is “for us”, we would not be wise to dwell in hopelessness that believes, “God is not for me.”
3. Are they helping me to love God (and others) with all my heart or do they cause me to pull away from this?
If we’re called to do all things in love, anything contending against it should be heart-checked.
Friends, we don’t have to declare our initial feelings as “bad”, ignore them or hate ourselves for them. However, we do need to see them for what they are, quickly, and make moves to let Godly-facts take precedence over wavering-feelings.
Why? Because sadness soon turns into isolation. Rejection soon turns into depression. Anger soon turns into a division. Loneliness soon turns a bottle. You get the picture.
Don’t make a long-term resident of a feeling that should only be seen as a passing-by door-to-door salesman. Yep, Kelly sees you there wanting to sell a whole bunch of stuff, but God’s got a better word than you. She’s listening to truth, over feelings. And letting that be her guide…
These three words crawl under my skin like a spider.
To me, they mean:
Someone disagrees with me.
They probably think my idea is stupid.
I have a huge chance of being wrong.
Beyond these three horrible feelings, they induce shame.
Shame is a:
Sudden Heaping on of A Massive Embarrassment
Shame makes you feel:
– like a fraud
– as if people won’t look at you the same
– like you should keep your mouth shut
– no good
Do you experience shame? When you speak? When you act in the wrong way? When people catch you doing something? When you make a mistake?
The other day my daughter came home from church. She looked at me and said, “Mommy, when I do bad, and say sorry to God, I get to do this…”
She took one hand and wiped off her other arm as if she was wiping sand off her forearm. Then, she did the same with the other arm.
“I get to wipe it all off, Mommy, and it is gone.”
I considered her words and actions. I get to do the same, too.
I get to wipe off the moment I feel caught, the second I feel exposed, the time I feel burdened by what I did wrong, the moments where I hate the little things I do. Wipe…wipe…gone.
Because of Jesus. Because his love leaves no place for shame. Because He came to free me, not to bind me up to my own nervousness. What He delivered me from was my sin and the things that keep me insecure, so I can walk out and into this world with glorious light. He does the same for you, too.
There is this real pressure to look right before man.
TV constantly implies, “Don’t be one of them.”
Clothing stores convey, “You better look as good as the music we’re playing.”
Past encounters remind us, “Be likable, or people will reject or leave you.”
Because of this, it is easy to find an identity, tweak it, and fit it to man.
Ever done that? Molded, morphed or changed color to look like others? To fit in? To be liked? Loved? Accepted? To not be seen as off?
If you’re human, the answer likely is yes.
We like to look like everyone else, so as to not stand out. To not be set apart. To be one of the many. To not feel like we are “too much” or “not enough.” Keeping ourselves from being “set apart” makes us feel safe. It prevents us from being that one… the weirdo!
Yet Jesus tells us, being set apart is this: Holy.
“We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all.” Heb. 10:10-12
Why do we fight it? Why do we fight the idea that Jesus picked us up and set us apart? Why do we fight his identity that provides the only identity we’ll ever feel good about: Chosen and set aside for his purposes. Why do we fight him, in us? Everyday, he’s our only saving chance.
As daughters, our identity is Jesus. He will never be loved by the world. But he will always be set apart as the victorious, high and mighty King of Kings. Why would we ever want to settle for the world’s second best when we have the kingdom’s first and only?
What God-given qualities have you stifled because of your fear of man? How have you held back who God created you to be? Where may God be calling you to step up and step out into his purposes, right now? Even if you are set apart?
While driving today, a motorcyclist cussed out loud at an intersection. Apparently, he didn’t make a right turn fast enough to get ahead of the cars headed his way. Now, he was slaying everyone, including me, with the evil eye as he sat waiting for his turn to go.
Staring at him, I wondered, “What would it take to fix this man’s attitude? To show him or teach him you don’t act like this?”
Many women ask themselves the same thing. “What would it take to change this person’s attitude? How they approach me, how they live, how they talk to me and listen to me. . . ”
They say, “Should I:”
Be someone different for them?
Bark at them until they act better?
Whine under my breath?
Nitpick their small issues?
Be passive aggressive?
Teach them a lesson?
Flesh aims “to fix.” It focuses on faults.
Spirit loves always. It never ceases in prayer.
My inclination at that intersection was to fix the motorcyclist’s problems. What if God called me to something different? What if rather than fixing, I was called to go about empathizing.
Empathizing, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary, means:
“The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another…”
Empathy thinks: He is likely having a horrible day. A coffee-spilled-on-you, kids-yelled-at-you, huge-project-at-work, hardly-any-sleep day. I’ve had those days too. I know what it is to feel rushed. I understand what it is to get so annoyed I unleash my mouth like a rabid dog. I can understand how that is.
Empathy acts. It offers eyes of sympathy with a small smile and wave that says, “Please sir, you go ahead. I am making way for you. I love Jesus and I want his love to reach you.”
Empathy sees things from the other side. It loves with all it has. And keeps at it.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” (Heb. 4:15)