Frankly, I wanted to bust out out of the gate this year! I will exercise every morning – perhaps run 2-miles/day. I will connect more with the kids and do all the special projects on their hearts! I will eat healthier.
Then reality hit. This week, I missed all my work outs, I didn’t do any projects with my son, and yesterday, I had chips for breakfast.
What do we do when we meant to do good — but, didn’t?
It’s easy to get discouraged when we fail. Or, demotivated at our lack of follow through. Here, we may wonder, “Is God less impressed with me?”
We’ve probably all had moments like this.
But, the real question isn’t — where are we and why are we doing this? The real question is: how do we get back up again?
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt. 22:39 ESV)
Jesus tells us here, we don’t only love others, we must first show love towards ourselves. How can one give what they don’t own? How can one impart a gift that doesn’t belong to them?
Loving ourselves is integral to loving others well. We receive love to give it.
Love is first kind to its own heart.
Love is patient in its own progress.
Love is full of grace as it learns how to work and when things don’t go exactly right.
Love is able to let go of yesterday for a better today.
Love starts in us.
“Love is patient, love is kind…it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Cor. 13:4, 5 NIV)
Do you extend yourself patience or do you demand you be improved right now!? Are you kind to yourself in your mind or do you berate yourself all the time? Are you constantly analyzing what you did wrong or do you let go of the records of wrongs you hold against yourself?
More than the arrival at a given-destination is our growth as we go along our journey with God. Be kind, as Jesus would be kind to you. Be patient, as God is. Be consoling, as the Spirit would have you be. Indeed there is always a growth opportunity — we all have those — but the greatest of all things is: love.
Today, how can you think lovingly towards yourself?
Prayer: Father God, you are love. You are loving, patient, kind, and compassionate towards us. Empower us this very day to be this way towards ourself. We need your equipping and enablement to do this. We rely on you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
We honked. Actually, we didn’t honk, but I really wanted to… The woman ahead of us was — the. slowest. drive-thru. orderer. ever!!!
Add this to the fact that we had hungry kids in the back of the car, and a near brush with a police officer who was still behind us, and people in gloves and masks all around us…and I felt nervous. C’mon lady. Move it.
Is she ever going to go? What is wrong with this person?!
I looked in the rearview mirror and then looked straight ahead trying to see what the issue was. I leaned forward looking for an escape. Tension rose in my chest.
When we finally reached the Chick-Fil-A attendant, she said, “I am going to switch to the passenger side of your car for your order. The woman ahead of you was deaf so I got closer so I could hear her.”
She was — what?! Deaf.
In my impatience, I cursed a woman most in need of — patience. I felt horrible. She was doing a great job “getting out” and here I was critiquing her.
You know, we never know what it is to walk in another’s shoes. We never know the history of someone else’s hurt. We never know all their physical limitations. The details of their day. Why they delay or act wishy-washy or make us wait.
But, God knows… He knows their quirks as much as He knows ours.
In retrospect, I wish I extended patience, instead of getting — pushy. I wish I would have been patient.
Patience is never wrong. Even if it takes time. Even if it slows us down. Even if we listen longer. Even if we have to talk more. Even if we have to get out of our own mind and into someone else’s. Even we delay our mouth or our progress…
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph. 4:2)
Patience is love. It quiets discontent. It softens its response. It lets go of its own personal agenda. It loves by the Spirit. It discerns how to go. It makes space for others’ needs. It waits with a smile on its face. It pauses with the goal of lifting the other person up. It dismisses gripes.
It is kinds to oneself. It extends grace. It remembers how patient and kind God has been — to us — so it can really love others.4
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:4-8)
We often look at these verses and think, “This is how I need to act. This is how I should treat others. This is what I have to do to be loving. . .”
But, how often do we consider — this is how God loves us. . .
With this, God is patient to you today. If you’re having a hard time changing, His grace is there to help on your way.
God is kind. His kindness can overpower your meanness to yourself if you allow His Words to become your words.
God is not envious, boastful or proud. He wants the best for you — without anything else. There’s no additional, “But. . .”, or exclusion, or disclaimer.
God is not dishonoring, self-seeking, or angry. While people may act one way, God’s way is the good-way, the right way, the heart-honoring way. Above people’s ways, you can always find His. This is a freedom-place for you.
God does not keep a record of your wrongs. The second Jesus died, He created-way for wrongs to be replaced with the righteousness of Christ. To receive Christ is to find relief.
God does not rejoice in evil, but delights in truth. Whereas the world may celebrate dysfunction and laud evil, God delights in truth as truth. What is hidden — He brings to light.
God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. He is always protecting you — and worthy of trust. He has all vision and plans in His hands. And, His love for you, will persevere all trials and hardships.
My tracks tend to be on auto-pilot. What about yours? Routinely, I’m interested in what I need to get done, who needs help around me, and what tasks need to be accomplished for the family and God. The order of our day does matter. Our priorities reflect what we believe about our identity.
Let me explain…
A religious man said to Jesus, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” (Lu. 18:21)
Essentially he said, “I’ve done what mattered, I’ve obeyed you, I am good.”
His identity was: A Rule-Follower.
Jesus replied, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Lu. 18:22).
Essentially Jesus said, “Your treasure is not what you’ve done, but is found by continually following me. In me, is your identity.”
In Christ we are:
Children of God.
Yet, as we let other treasures cloud the treasure found in following Jesus, we start to believe we: must work hard to be loved, follow every rule, do more to achieve eternal glory, look good to man, and get everything done in our day to be successful.
Where is your treasure? Is it in following and staying close to Jesus? Or is it in doing stuff, accomplishing more, and keeping up with the world in order to stay protected and safe?
What is the one thing that tends to distract you from following Him?
The best lovers of Jesus are the best releasers of what they hold tight to. The more they let go and cling to the robe of Jesus, the more they find their world healed by His love. They follow Him at all costs. They find treasure.
Jesus says to you today, “Leave that one thing behind and come. Follow me.”
I probably would be the girl that you’d least like to walk behind on a busy street. I might even be the one that you’d silently curse under your breath (although not too loudly or discernibly because you are Christian, after all), but all the same I wouldn’t be surprised if you did. You might even step on my heels a little to give me a quick signal I am being slow, rude and indignant.
Heck, I may even deserve it.
But, would I stop doing it? No way. Would I stop listening to the small voice that speaks about 2 feet below me. I don’t think so.
You see, I think that little voice of immaturity is on to something all the rest of us have been missing. He is on to something that in our pursuit of destination we miss. He is on to the small meaning of life, the beauty in the cracks of a sidewalk and the peculiarities in a bird with a beak of an different variety.
He is mesmerized by creation and affirmed
in God’s determination to show love.
We call it a sidewalk. He calls it a God-walk.
We call it a place where you move from one place to another. He calls it a place you see one glory to another.
We call it a stroll, he calls it God being on a roll.
“Stop mommy, you gotta see those birds over there. Take a picture!”
“Stop mommy, do you see that little flower sticking out of the wall? Take a picture!”
“Stop mommy, do you see the way the sun is coming out of the clouds? Take a picture!”
Snap that shot mommy and don’t let me ever forget about this little slice of moment where what God showed is greater than the crazy, mundane and forced things in this world. Capture the moment of greatness that only those who have the small eye seeking beauty can find. Get that and let me hold on to it so I can remember how God wanted me to see him above the scary, freaky and dark things of world.
Snap. A moment that will last forever.
How often do I look at the world like one waiting to be mesmerized?
How often do you?
I always thought I could see, but now I see, I was always becoming blind.
Maybe it happens to others like me. The ones who pull “drive” out of their back pocket and put on the glasses of determination to try to get themselves somewhere. Ones who believe they’ll end up seeing peace, joy and life from goals, plans and agendas. These types, they run a fast race; they move like a panther in hot pursuit of prey (work, spouses, cleanliness, promotions, money, vacations, internal value (fill in blank), yet tired and panting, huffing and puffing they always land in the same place – in the alley called dead end, dead life and dead weight.
I should know, busted my head in that alley. I told myself I needed to be best in my class (fail.). I told myself I needed to get the best job ever out of college (I went bust at the job after a year). I told myself I needed to press through an abusive situation (nightmares plagued me).
Dead-locked vision left me for dead and on lock down with discouragement.
Tunnel vision drive, driving towards anything but God’s goals leaves you driving into a head-on collision where you feel like you can’t breathe and you are not sure if you can return to normal life.
I thought those who try hard – win big. Where did I go wrong?
Blind folk start to see again, when they aren’t afraid to see themselves as dirty.
After saying this, (Jesus) spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. Jo. 9:6
Yet, I don’t think it is only this. It is not just saying, “Hey God, go ahead, put that stinking muck on me. I am okay with it. I am okay with seeing myself as tarnished, hurt, powerless and needing the reality of myself to cleanse me.”
Nope. I think it transcends this.
“Go,” (Jesus) told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. Jo. 9:7
Be willing to wear the grime of your self, your past, your wrongs, and your traumas – and then allow yourself to be sent out. See those things in a way where they earned your masters degree of life learning.
You let the dirt sit afresh on your eyes, you feel the muck and the yuck, and then you let the word “sent” compel your whole being to move to greater insight, vision and power; you move with them and beyond them all at the same time.
Then you start to see. As the grime of what you really are, the disgust of what you have been and the pain of shame wash off, you finally get somewhere.
“I went and washed, and then I could see.” Jo. 9:11
I could see innocence.
I could see through eyes untarnished.
I could see roads untainted.
I could see the slow movement of ordinary things.
I could see worry dissipate and fears calm.
I could see people – pained people.
I could see glory – in sunrises, sunsets, grime and grit.
I could see beauty – in grace extended.
I could see growth – by offering space.
I could see life – budding in the small forging of patience.
I could see flowers – protrude from the cracks of pain. I could see longing, desire and hope.
It is a picture that even words fall short of explaining. So, you just stop, drop your jaw at what you see, then you look for someone that doesn’t have their head stuck in automated zombie-zone, and together, you snap a picture. Usually with the child, the innocent one who gets the greatness of God. And, then, you go about carrying on in the mayhem called planet earth until God staggers yet again with all he has stored up in the unseen places of the world.
I had it all wrong. I always thought family was this ship you had to keep moving in the right direction. One that all crew members needed to approach in tandem, knowing their role and pushing through to the next destination. With this, I figured, it was my job as mom to run a tight ship.
Efficiency was key: Get those shoes on and be in the car by the time I get out of the bathroom. Rules were paramount: I set the guidelines, you follow them. My authority reigned: Don’t question, just obey or else! My voice counted: Don’t express opinions, just express a head nod and move that dish to the dishwasher.
I don’t know when I turned into such a jerk. In the moment, there is always a way to justify it (how else are you going to get things done, the kids won’t respect you, the house will be a mess, perfection will sink into oblivion). Somehow family, for me, turned into a model-toy that I was carefully constructing according to instructions, schedules and guidelines. All parts were required to fit within my needs. I moved them according to my desires.
With this knowledge, my heart has been on a journey to change course; it is pursuing a redirect. Just the other day, my son looked at me to say, “Mom, that’s a mean voice.” My initial response was to say, “Son, that is not mean. If you want to hear mean, I could really show you mean.”
But, if I am going a new path that means I have to try new things. I looked at him and said, “You thought that was mean?” His head nodded.
What he thought was mean, I thought was on level 2 of my stern-voice scale, but still, I was trying and trying counts for something, so I tried some more.
“I am sorry. I will speak nicer, son.”
The day progressed and so did my heart. A heart just trying – trying to be calm, to be present, to be aware, to be humble, to be eager to love, and quick to let go of to-do’s. By days end, I felt shipwrecked, but what happened next brought buoyancy back.
At story time, this 4-year old outer-space pajama clad kid looked up at me to say, “Mommy, I am sorry too for all the mean things I have been speaking to you.”
And, there it was, what seemed like galaxy of distance, came together in a meteor crash of sense. He is just the same as me. He feels the same too. We are in this together.
Family united, rather than divided.
What I build in myself, I build in him. What I forge around me, will be forged around him too. What I lay down, he will have permission to lay down as well. What is hard to do, we can try to do as one.
At days end, I don’t want to give him me as I am today. I want to give him full of grace, sailing with mercy, loaded with compassion, flying with patience. I want him to have all of that. I want more for that beauty. And, in a way, in this day, I gave him a small ride towards this. And, one day – counts. It counts for something; I will take that and own that and relish in that.
Small beginnings matter.
When I simply understand, when I take a minute, when I sit down, when I listen, when I confess, when I become humble, the family makes strides towards godliness. Together we move ahead, not to my pre-set plans, but to God’s pre-set sanctification. We move towards what is greatest, rather than what I deem as great.
Jesus relates to me when I am weak. He sympathizes with that kind of thing. He says, that testing you are going through, me too Kelly, me too.
We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.
He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.
So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
Heb. 4:15 MSG
What will we choose in the rapid-fire moments of “family”?
Will we choose to to take a stand in our ways or
will we choose to stand in God’s mercy?
Will we accept his help or will we drive the helpers?
Will we chart a course or will we enjoy the ride?
The second we set down the burden of pride set upon our shoulders of despair is the second we rise up in the freedom of surrender that finds itself in the shadow of the eagles wing. Work falls to the wayside and we see things from new heights, with new vision and new hope. We soar. We let go. We glide. We ride.
“What a relief,” we say,
“We never knew it could be this easy!”
And we sail.
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Is. 40:31
I have a great strength—I’m competitive.
I have a great weakness—I’m competitive.
This may sound strange but our biggest strength can sometimes become our greatest weakness.
At least that’s how it is with me.
The other morning while waiting for my oatmeal to bubble to a boil my mind wandered to a conversation I had with some blogger friends the day before. The question was raised as to whether anyone noticed a decrease in the traffic on their blog over the summer.
(For you non-blogger friends this simply means, are fewer people coming to your blog site?)
Honestly, I hadn’t noticed because I try not to watch those things. I know how I can be. But, after the conversation I thought, maybe I should. Maybe I should go all out for numbers.
While stirring my oatmeal, I shared these new feelings with God. Within seconds I felt His response, “Do you remember the devotion you wrote last year?”
“Our key verse, Philippians 2:13, tells us God has a plan and purpose for us, and He’ll get us where He needs us to go. In His timing. We need not try to beat Him to the finish.” (When I Lose Patience With God, Encouragement For Today, December 4, 2014.)
How could I so easily forget these words God put on my heart?
You see, in the past I’ve only had two speeds, all out, and dead stop. I’m kind of an all or nothing person. When I go after something I put in 150 percent effort. That’s my competitive side. And at 150 percent, I burn out fast.
The God who knows me gently reminds me who I am and the reason I shouldn’t count numbers.
I’m not the only one with a counting problem, King David had a problem with counting too.
1 Chronicles 21:2 King David tells Joab, the captain of his army, “…Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many they are.”
Taking a census of who you have doesn’t sound so awful. Not on the outside anyway. But what are the motives driving the count? Satan can take something so innocent and cleverly tempt us to take our hearts in another direction. And that’s exactly what he did with David.
David’s heart became prideful. Instead of having confidence in God’s power, He became puffed up in how God was using him for His purposes.
There is a fine line between the two we all need to carefully watch.
My all out 150 percent competitive nature can also become a source of pride. When harnessed by the Holy Spirit this gift can be a source for God’s glory. But when left to my own resources it can be my demise.
It drives me nuts to slow down because sometimes I feel like I’m moving at a snail’s pace while others are racing by me.
And I’m built for speed!
But first and foremost, I am built (created) for God. For His glory.
I’ve learned that I can’t look to my left or to my right. My focus needs to be straight ahead.
God wants us to keep going. To persevere. For me that means slowing down the pace to stay in the race He has set before me.
“I’ve heard that patience is slowing down to the speed of someone else. I’ve also learned I need to have a little more patience with God and slow down to His pace — the pace He has set for me.” (When I Lose Patience WithGod, Encouragement For Today December 4, 2014)
So why rush to count when God can do the counting for me?
There may be only one person who reads this post today. And if that’s so, I trust that God only meant it for one.
And YOU count.
That’s good by me.
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Christy is a wife, mother, writer, mentor, and Life Purpose Coach. She is passionate about encouraging women to move forward, and press on through their struggles, seeking God’s presence in every bump and turn in the road. You can connect with Christy at, Joying in the Journey, www.christymobley.com, Facebook, and Twitter.
I had friend; she was sweet, beautiful and helpful, but sometimes, she had a way of getting under my skin. Normally, I just shoved my irritation through the door of my heart and locked it there with a key. After all, sometimes it feels easier not to deal with things.
I remember one specific day – she asked me to borrow a coat. But, as I handed it to her, she looked at it with disdain. I knew her. I knew she had her eye on one specific coat in my closet. I knew her mind was set, even though she put me through a song and dance trying on each one – I knew where this charade was headed.
In that moment, I wanted to say, “Wear the coat I gave you. I am wearing this one.” I wanted to send a message that I knew what she was up to. I wanted her to see that her approach was wrong.
But, as I evaluated how to deliver this message, the quiet whisper of my heart said, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” Lev. 19:18
God’s truth spoke to my heart saying, “Others may annoy you, but it doesn’t matter what they do, it matters what I tell you to do. What matters is – love.”
We headed out. She, wearing the beautiful coat – I, wearing the old one.
As I returned from dropping her off at her house, I recounted all her offenses against me. My irritation levels were on high alert in general, so you can only imagine my frustration when I arrived at the front door, to find it locked and dead-bolted, with absolutely no way in.
Try as I may, this house was impenetrable – and my heart felt imbittered.
But, as I shoved my hand into my old not-so-nice coat, the coat, I felt something; it was just what I needed- a bobby pin – one she has left in my pocket while trying my coat on.
It was this bobby pin that allowed me to pry a screen off a window, so I could climb in to unlock my front door.
In that moment, my whole perspective shifted. I found the key to unlock both my resentful heart – and my front door.
It unlocked all the small annoyances. The truth is, the hurting person is hurt. They need love.
It unlocked the power of seeing over small offenses. God rewards a heart that forgives, that shows mercy and that looks beyond offenses. He rewards a heart that sees a heart.
It unlocked the power of sacrificial love. True love means we put another before our self. When we look past the exterior, God wows us with the interior of the one who stands before us.
It unlocked my mind from anger and resentment. When we open the door of our hurts to the great God who understands hurts, all we can do is run into his open arms to receive forgiveness. Then, we can start seeing the ministry work the Lord has set before us to do in the heart of another.
It unlocked a new reality; true love costs something. Love means we lay down what we have, so we can see how God wills us to reach the other. Sometimes it may cost us a coat, sometimes our time, but no matter, we lay it down in love.
We are all fallen, hurt and imperfect, but as we see past these things, our well-maintained fortresses are penetrated, our walls are taken down and true relationships are forged.
Truly, love surpasses locked doors. It opens up a whole new world.
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