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He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

~Psalm 46:10 NIV~

Lately, I haven’t been writing as much.  This is strange because for me, writing helps me to process things that I don’t understand.  Over the years, my writing has been wonderful therapy for me as I’ve gone through many challenges. Sometimes, however; I just need to turn everything off and think about things.  While venting often helps me to get over the sting of an insult or the pain of injustice, sometimes nothing really helps to bring peace like a season of silence.

Earlier this year, we found out that my father had cancer.  We weren’t sure what would happen, of course.  We had no idea if he would be okay.  We went through many months of wondering just how long we would have him here with us.  In true form, I began to back away.  I’ve noticed this about myself.  When I love someone and I see that there is a chance that I might lose them, I tend to back away from them.  Not to hurt them, but to somehow keep myself from hurting so much if something should happen to them.  It’s really stupid and it doesn’t really work.  It still hurts when we lose those we love, only it hurts more because we didn’t spend as much time with them as we possibly could have.

Looking back at all the times when I ran, I wonder how differently things could have gone if I would have pressed on through that fear.  What memories might I have had if only I had stayed?  And this isn’t just about those who have died.  It includes those who I loved and left.  I’ve walked away from someone I loved very much and I’m sometimes not sure if it was self-preservation or just plain selfishness.  And the saddest thing is that I’ll never know.  I’ll only be plagued by dreams of what life might have looked like if I’d only stayed the course.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who looks back and wonders if things might have worked out differently if they had only made a different choice.  I used to think I had no regrets, but that isn’t altogether true.  I regret every moment when I sat alone thinking about calling or visiting someone and didn’t actually take action.  I regret all of the time I spent planning things that I never actually did.  And I regret feeling as though the things I managed to make the time to do weren’t worth doing.  Every visit, every call, every e-mail, every text to someone you love is remembered.  Whether we think they are paying attention or not, what they miss most are the times when we simply don’t connect with them.

I’m very grateful to be able to say that my dad is still with us and that his treatment has been going well.  I will be visiting him this weekend and truthfully, I can’t remember being more thankful on this day than I am today.  To spend most of the year dreading the loss of someone you love, only to be blessed by having them experience miraculous healing is truly the best gift a person could ever hope for.  I know we aren’t supposed to worry.  We are supposed to trust God and know that whatever He decides is best, but we are human.  The thought of losing the people I love has been choking me.  It has kept me from saying what needs to be said and doing what needs to be done.  But I don’t want to let that continue.  I don’t want to be ruled by fear and regret.  And I don’t think you want this for yourself either.

So, I’m looking around and taking stock of what is and leaving what will be to God.  Nothing really stops us from taking the time to be with the ones we love.  We just need to fight through whatever fears are keeping us from them.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;  his love endures forever.

~1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV~

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Something big has been here, what it was, I do not know,

for I did not see it coming, and I did not see it go,

but I hope I never meet it, if I do, I’m in a fix,

for it left behind its footprints, they are size nine-fifty-six.

Jack Prelutsky~Something Big Has Been Here

Is it possible that I’ve been teaching myself to miss you a little at a time so that when you’re gone, it might not hurt so much? As in the poem above, I’ve been ambushed by loss before. In response, it appears that I’ve been doing this thing where I distance myself from the people I care about so that if I lose them, the loss won’t be quite so painful. Funny, how we convince ourselves that this kind of thing will work. By not letting ourselves get close to people, we eliminate the potential for damage…right? Well, no. Not really. By moving ourselves out of what looks like harm’s way, we actually create a different type of pain for ourselves. We create this sense of longing that only grows more and more overwhelming as the days pass. And one day, we look around and find that we’re out here all by ourselves and the people we didn’t want to lose have somehow already lost us. Does that make sense? I’ll share a few things with you to try and illustrate the point.

I felt like my life started ending in 2006. We lost my aunt suddenly and none of us were prepared for it. Although I didn’t see her much at that point in my life, she had made such an impact in my life that I felt as though a significant piece of my heart had been taken out. The family went through a major shift. You could feel the loss ripping through us as we struggled to make sense. This source of light was gone and we were left behind to deal with it. I was also dealing with some other issues at the time, so I pulled the curtains around me and retreated into the pain I was feeling.

A few years later, the family took another major hit. My grandfather, who had lived with us for a major portion of my life, became very sick and we watched his health deteriorate. Many of us were clinging to the hope that he was too strong to actually pass away, but the day came when we had to say goodbye to him and there went another big piece of my heart. I felt myself shutting down just a little more. By this point, I’d had five miscarriages and my marriage was failing as well, so I went further into my “safe place” or into what I believed to be safe. I figured that if I stopped caring about people, then losing them couldn’t possibly hurt.

Two years later, we found out that my uncle was very sick and in fact, had terminal cancer. I didn’t even have time to say goodbye. It felt like he was gone within days. And again, the pain began to envelope me. And then a few months later, another uncle who had been sick for a while passed away. How can someone be in your life and then just be gone? I hadn’t been as close to him, but I know that when I was growing up he had always been there with my family and now, he too, was gone.

I hadn’t really thought it could get worse; surely God was finished taking people away from us. Nope. Not even close. He seemed to be systematically eliminating anyone and anything that had meant anything to me and I didn’t understand it. I’d distanced myself and I had braced for impact. If I proved to God that I didn’t need them, surely they would be left alone and I wouldn’t have to worry that they might one day disappear. Turns out that this isn’t at all accurate. My aunt, whom I loved dearly, passed away just months after her brother. I went to see her in the hospital and I thought she would be fine. I kept telling myself, “She looks good. She’ll be okay in no time.” And then one day, she was gone. My heart was broken. How could this be?

I was still dealing with this loss when my grandmother’s health began to decline significantly. I hadn’t meant to allow myself to get close to her after all that had happened, but I ended up going with my mom to visit her on a fairly regular basis. After weeks of watching her become weaker and weaker, she left us. And I felt another piece of me being ripped away. What made these losses even worse was that I not only felt them deeply, but I watched my mother and father deal with losing family members who had played a huge part in their lives. These were the foundations that had been holding us up all those years and it felt as though the stones were being removed one by one.

About a month later, I lost a good friend. On top of everything else that had happened over the last twelve months, this person had died suddenly and there was little to no explanation. I was numb by that point and I had no idea why these things had piled up in the way that they had. People I cared about were gone. My life would no longer include visits and conversations with them. I couldn’t hug them again. All I could do was remember that they had been here.

Today, I am thinking about how much of my heart is left. I’m not sure it grows back after all of that. I’m not sure the pieces can be repaired, though God tells me that they can. My reluctance to believe Him has been the source of much pain over the years and though I don’t want to feel pain, I keep creating a perfect environment for it. How do you allow yourself to be close to people again when you’re scared of losing them? This is the question I ask Him every day when I pray. Is there some way that I can love a person without worrying that one day, they’ll be gone?

His answer is this, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away,” Revelation 21:4 NIV. I know that this life is temporary and that we are here to fulfill a purpose. My reluctance to put myself out there again has been keeping me from doing His will. My fear of losing the people I love has been keeping me from loving them. And that was not my intention. To love someone is to accept that there will be times when you feel pain because of that love. It isn’t always going to be about making you feel good or proving that you have value. Yes, our relationships can do both of those things, but the point of it all is to show us how to use our hearts in the way God intended.

We were made to love Him, but if we close ourselves off to loving those around us, we close ourselves off to loving Him as well. We cannot just channel all of our energy into self-preservation and believe that this is called loving ourselves. Self-love cannot exist where no other love is allowed to live. If it’s only about protecting ourselves, we forget that love is sacrifice. Love involves putting ourselves on the line for others and knowing that sometimes, this may backfire. Love has to include acceptance of injury as well as healing. And when it doesn’t, it’s not able to grow.

I’m not saying that we need to let others hurt us in order to know how to love. I’m saying that there is a natural component of pain attached to love and we cannot be afraid to confront it when it appears. All is not lost when we suffer. In fact, with every part of that suffering that we allow God to heal, we gain more than we will ever lose. I hope that if you’re suffering today, you will take the time to talk to God about it. Ask Him why. Tell Him how you feel about it. Share your feelings with Him about what’s going on in your life. He already knows your story; He’s just waiting for you to tell Him what you need. If you don’t understand what is happening, He wants to help you see the point of it all. If you’re in pain, He wants to give you healing. If you’re angry, He wants to hear you acknowledge that as well. Part of healing is admitting that you’re in pain. Once you tell Him everything, you’ve taken a big step toward letting Him guide you down a new path.

I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with a bunch of women that I love dearly last night. We sat and talked and laughed and shared stories with each other about the things we remembered from that time before life scattered us to our separate corners. It hurt a little, but it also felt great to know that we are all still here and that we mean something to each other. I may not tell them all the time, but I do love these people dearly. Moving forward, I hope that instead of trying to cushion myself from the pain of losing them, I will instead try to let them know as often as possible that they are loved and that they have more value than they know.

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.  A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.  So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

~John 16:20-22 NIV~

 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

~Philippians 4:11 NIV~

Sometimes I look around and wonder what happened to the days when I hoped for more.  Where did I lose my desire to go after the things I wanted?  When did I stop wanting things?  Is that even a bad thing?

I would love to say that I’m so spiritually enlightened that I finally get what God’s been trying to show me all these years, but in reality I think the things I used to want just disappointed me so much that it’s just easier to be happy with what is than with what could be.  I no longer think about what might have been if only I’d made different choices.  My choices were already set in stone long before I made them.  And what I’ve gleaned from the experiences that resulted has been a lifetime of trial and error…mostly trial…and quite a bit of error.  But I don’t really feel any worse for having made the mistakes I’ve made.  My heart has been in the right place.  My head may not have been, but my intent was never to hurt anyone with my actions.  It was only to try and heal something in me that had been broken.

Looking back at all of these mistakes, I know that the years I spent feeling badly about what I viewed as unforgivable flaws were time that I needed to process the lessons that come with heartache and pain.  It took a long time for me to understand that the worst part of anything that I had done did not lie in the actions themselves, but in the fact that I felt so bad about who I was that there was no room for me to learn or even attempt to accept who God made me to be.

The confusion we feel when we are in pain often keeps us from appreciating any good thing that may be happening around us.  We look at the people and things in our lives and sometimes we feel so unworthy of happiness that we seek out ways to destroy them.  Or we look for ways to destroy ourselves.  And we often succeed.  We push people away.  We become self-destructive.  We act like jerks.  But those who really know us, continue to love us even when we blatantly show them why they shouldn’t.

God knows why we act so dumb.  He knows that this is all we know how to do.  He understands why we can’t let ourselves be loved during those times of confusion.  He understands all that we need to do to finally accept His love.  He even understand when we do so without fully understanding what we are doing.  He already knows our hearts and minds and He watches us process the challenges we face.

Even though it may take us a lifetime to figure out how to treat others and how to treat ourselves, He is never surprised by our choices, no matter how surprised we may be.  So as we are looking around at the pieces of our lives; whether they lay in a pile or they’ve been reconstructed into something that is yet unfamiliar to us, His love surrounds us and gives us the strength to be content in our circumstances.  Once we accept that, the need to have something we aren’t meant to have disappears and we begin to want to develop a better understanding of why we are given the life we have been given.  And the burdens become just a little bit lighter.

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.

Psalm 68:19 NIV

 

 

Then David got up from the floor, washed himself, put lotions on, and changed his clothes. Then he went into the Lord’s house to worship. After that, he went home and asked for something to eat. His servants gave him some food, and he ate.

2 Samuel 12:20 NIV

I feel like I’ve been in mourning for a very long time.  It all started many years before I’ve tended to acknowledge, but the fact is I’ve never really let myself get up from the ashes and fully step into a new season.  I hadn’t realized this until recently, but a conversation with someone who is very dear to me has opened my eyes to this truth.

As I have shared on this blog in the past, I was raped at the age of 22.  My life up to that point had been filled with depression and anxiety over various family issues, but I had never expected to be a rape victim.  It was someone that I had trusted and for years, I couldn’t even tell anyone what had happened.  I handled it very badly, turning my fear and anger inward on myself.  I drank and turned to promiscuity, albeit very targeted promiscuity.  I was on a mission to get my power back.  What had been taken from me was the very core of my being.  It shook my sense of self to the extent that I took on an identity that wasn’t mine to take on.

For years now, I’ve been trying on different personas.   I’ve tried to be a wife.  I’ve tried to be a savior.  I’ve tried to be an activist.  None of these have actually fit me well.  I’m a mother.  That seems to be the thing I love most.  I wouldn’t change any part of it other than what my daughter went through when my ex-husband and I divorced.  My daughter has been my saving grace and I am forever grateful for the opportunity that God has given me to be her mother.  As David struggled with the impending death of his son, he fasted and cried and he prayed constantly for healing to occur.  He says in 2 Samuel that he figured if he did all of these things, the Lord would feel sorry for him and that He might let the baby live.  But when the child died, David saw no reason to continue his mourning.  He had done all he could do to try and bring about a miracle and it simply hadn’t worked.  He got up, cleaned himself up and began moving forward.  He didn’t stay there wallowing in his pain.  HE GOT UP!

The big mistake that we often make is to continue our mourning far past the point of effectiveness.  Maybe we think that if we are sad long enough, God will take pity on us and give us what we truly want.  If we continue to beg Him for mercy, maybe He won’t take away that person or thing that we are clinging to so stubbornly.  Surely, He doesn’t want us to suffer this much.  Surely, He wants to give us the thing that we so desperately want.

The truth is, no, He doesn’t want us to hurt.  But sometimes we are so convinced that we cannot live happily or live at all without the thing we desire that we forget that God has already planned this all out and He has good reason for adding or removing people and things to and from our lives.  He knows better than we do whether or not the course of our lives will be improved or diminished by the loss or addition of any person or thing.  He is in charge, but all too often we forget that.  So, instead of walking in faith, we allow our grief over not getting our way to be stronger than our belief that God is actually in every situation and He is allowing some things to move forward in hopes that we will get up and move in the same direction.

He allows us to sit there and wallow, but it doesn’t sway Him in His execution of the plan He has for our lives.  He knows that when we finally do GET UP, we are likely to find the peace we need tucked somewhere between each step we take in faith.  He has given us free will, so it really is up to us to decide how long we want our sadness or discontent with a given situation to control our direction.  I’ve been sad for a long time.  I often choose to hide it under a crazy sense of humor or an extremely busy schedule, but the truth is that I haven’t allowed myself to fully let go of the things that He has clearly shown me I need to let go.

I’ve spent too much time being sad over the inability of someone I love to be everything that I needed him to be.  I’ve spent too much time being dissatisfied with outcomes and simply chalking it up to yet another injustice that I’ve been forced to suffer.  I know better than to sit still and allow life to dictate the degree of momentum I gain as I continue to seek my purpose and God’s plan for me.  I’ve allowed distractions to prevent me from moving forward…mostly because I wasn’t sure I could handle what lies ahead for me.  You can do this for a while, but eventually you begin to wonder why you stopped standing up for yourself.  Where did you lose your spark?  When did you stop wanting to become a better version of yourself?  I’ll go out on a limb here and say that it was somewhere between the tears.  And that’s completely okay.  We all need to take a break and give ourselves time to heal when we’ve been hurt.  But we cannot stay there forever.  There is so much more for us to experience and we cannot do that if we’re sitting still.

It’s time to GET UP!  It’s time to allow myself to move forward even if the ones I want to bring with me aren’t quite ready for the trip.  If they are meant to be there with me, they’ll eventually catch up.  If it is God’s plan for us to be a part of each other’s lives, they will somehow cross my path again when we are both in a better place.  For now, it is so important that I keep moving forward and that I keep trusting in God’s plan.  For now, I have to be willing to step into the next season and accept the fact that the distractions are not meant to be the focus.  They are simply things we need to get past in order to reach the finish line.  And eventually, the sadness won’t overshadow the joy.  ❤

What do workers gain from their toil?  I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes 3:9 – 3:11 NIV

 

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.

~Deuteronomy 30:15 NIV~

Sometimes what we think we see isn’t what is happening at all.  We cannot ever know a person’s true motivation for the choices they make.  Most often, our anger or frustration with someone comes from our perception of why they have done something we didn’t like or agree with.  In reality, their decisions likely had nothing to do with us.  In reality, they are choosing a particular option because of something they are feeling or based on what their experience is telling them is the best way to go.  It usually doesn’t have a thing to do with them not loving us enough or with them discounting our great, expansive knowledge about something.  Yes, although we may think we have all the answers, our answers may not be the right answers for anyone but us.

I’ve experienced this in many different situations.  I’ve been in relationships with people who, for whatever reason, decided that they didn’t want to stay with me.  My first thought was that I was not enough.  I didn’t have what they needed.  I wasn’t attractive enough.  I wasn’t successful enough.  I wasn’t good enough.  In reality, I was actually too much.  I had already cleared the hurdles that they were still stumbling over and my willingness to help them make it over was just too much for them to take at that moment in their journey.  And even though I have made some good progress in my own struggles, the fact that I’m not willing to accept that I no longer have to live in the struggle in order to keep my relationships going shows that I still have a long way to go myself.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so helpful until I get past ALL of the hurdles?  Or maybe I just need to learn which relationships are supposed to make it over the hurdles with me and which are supposed to be left on the track?  This remains to be seen, but I think I already know the answer…at least as it pertains to me.

Other situations where I’ve had to back down some have been with family.  There have been many times when I thought I knew what was best for a loved one and they had already made up their mind to do something else.  When I was younger, I didn’t have the experience to know better.  Now that I’ve gone through some things, I still have had only my own experiences.  So, yes, while our experience qualifies us to give advice or offer suggestions, it does not give us authority over someone else’s choices.  We can only hope that their history with us and our past interactions have instilled in them some level of trust in our motives for offering advice.  After all, when we love someone it can be difficult to know or think we know what would be best for them and watch them take off in a different direction.  We really don’t know that our way will bring the best possible outcome…we only hope that it would.

The key in all of these situations is that we trust that God’s hand in the matter will guide it to a favorable outcome.  Sometimes we have to lose people.  Sometimes, they weren’t supposed to be with us in the first place.  Sometimes, we have to let God walk people through the most difficult situations they are dealing with.  He won’t lead them down the wrong path.  So, even if someone else has greater influence over them than we do, we cannot discount God’s influence there as well.  I don’t agree with every choice my loved ones have made.  They haven’t agreed with all of mine either.  But we can only go as far down the path with someone as they will allow us to go.  It is their choice whether or not they try to do the rest of it on their own or if they allow God to do what He needs to do to get them to their destination.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
~Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV~

 

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
~Matthew 26:52 NIV~
I’ve been going through a very long season of trying to figure out how to avoid dealing with what is happening in the lives of those that I love.  This is what I do.  When something is beyond my control, I back away from it.  I involve myself with anything and everything but the thing that I can’t resolve because I don’t want to be there when it falls apart.  And it isn’t because I’ve chosen not to draw my sword.  It’s because my sword isn’t sharp enough to kill what needs to be killed.  My sword is useless.  And I don’t like to feel useless.  Especially to those that I want to protect.
Since it isn’t necessarily about me, it seems really stupid to talk about how much it affects me to see those I love go through difficulties.  And it seems that over the last year or so, the devil has attacked each person that I love.  To varying degrees, he has made things painful and distressing for each of them.  And I have had to sit by and watch this happen because I had neither the energy, nor the resources or ability to fix any of their problems.  Of course, God never told me to fix their problems.  He has always only told me to have faith in His ability and desire to fix their problems.  He has always only told me that I need not worry because He has this under control.  But like most people, I don’t listen.  I think to myself, surely God will let me fix this.  Surely He needs me to do something here…because I can handle so much on my own….right?
In spite of what some people may think about me, I do not believe that I know more than God.  I’ve never felt that I know even an inkling of what He knows.  This is why I talk to Him constantly.  This is why I’m asking Him to help me with everything all of the time.  This is why I’m so frustrated when I can’t hear Him; because I need to hear Him so that I can take a step in some direction…any direction.
Several years ago, when my grandfather became very sick I watched my mother pour her time and energy into taking care of him.  I could not be that close to the situation because it hurt too much to see what was happening to him.  But my mother was right there with him through the whole thing.  I stayed on the fringe of things because that was as close as I could get without falling apart.  I’ve always wanted to believe that I was a strong person but the truth is that when it comes to losing the people I love I am probably weaker than most.
So much of who I am is wrapped up in the people I love.  I am the person I am because of the grandfather who taught me how to tie my shoes, and the aunt who took me to church with her, the uncle who always told great stories, the friends who made me laugh, the men who told me they loved me, and the aunt who showed me it was okay to be silly.  I cannot imagine how I’m going to deal with losing others like the mother who showed me how to fight for my daughter and myself, the sister who has shown me how to handle any kind of adversity that presents itself, the sister who has shown me how important it is to use your God-given talent, and the father who has shown me how to have a sense of humor in spite of how painful life has been or is.  And the daughter who is so much a part of me that I could never imagine living this life without her by my side.
So, yes, when it comes to thinking about life without any of these people, I’m hiding.  I’m shutting down.  I cannot do this life without them.  At least not the way I want my life to be.  I want my life to include everyone that I love and I want them all to be okay, all the time.  But I know that isn’t how this works.  Of course, God could do that.  He could make everything better right now and we could all be happy and healthy…but that’s not the point.  That wouldn’t really show us how much He loves us.  We need to lean on Him.  We need to show Him that we have faith in His plan.  We need to let Him give us things and even though it hurts, we need to let Him take things from us.  But He knows what He is doing and He gives us everything we need to both receive and release.
I don’t want to live this life without the people I love, but there will be a time when I have to do just that.  I have no control over it.  I can only pray for guidance and strength as these people deal with the things they need to deal with.  I can pray for supernatural intervention and hope that God decides to show off when nothing else seems to work.  He has done it before and I know that He will do it again.  But if He chooses not to show off in every situation, I have to pray for understanding, peace and wisdom so that I can continue to move forward whether to receive or to release what He has given me.  I don’t want to, but this is what I have to do if I trust my God.  And even though it doesn’t seem like it sometimes, I do trust Him with all my heart.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

–~Ephesians 6:16 (NIV)~

Loving is a process-Meme 1-2017

A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

~Proverbs 17:17 NIV~

A few days ago, I posted a status update on social media that simply said, “I miss my friends.” Of course, a few people responded by saying they were still with me. Yes, for the most part, I have many people whom I call friend who are indeed still speaking to me and will interact with me if I reach out to them. I meant no offense to them. I value the people that I have had the opportunity to interact with during my life. I feel that people are put in our lives for a reason and I don’t want to take them for granted. I also know that we sometimes disconnect and there isn’t always a good reason behind the lack of contact. Somewhere along the way there is a point where we stop asking about each other and it can leave the other person feeling hurt and confused.

To restate this and hopefully clarify, sometimes we go through things and we aren’t able to fully express what we need from each other at the time we are going through it. We either cocoon ourselves and lose touch with friends and loves ones or we purposely push someone away and they give up on us in order to protect themselves from whatever is hurting us; thinking that if we can’t handle it, then we surely don’t want to see what their problems can do to us if we hang around. Sometimes, when we push others away, we do it to protect them. Sometimes, we want them to rescue us. Sometimes, we are so lost and confused that we don’t know what we want. We have just reached a point where the way we are feeling and acting isn’t working for us anymore and we need for something to change.

Sometimes, nothing makes sense and although we don’t want to be without the people we love, we simply cannot continue to do the same things we have always done or be with the same people we’ve always been with until we get it together. Having been through this a few times in my life, I can honestly say that I’ve been surprised by the number of people who didn’t even ask what was going on with me. Although I like to take care of things on my own, sometimes it is nice to have someone hear you out or help you see things from a different perspective. I get that some people may not be comfortable reaching out or that maybe, they are going through things themselves. But if we are friends, shouldn’t we want to know when our friend is hurting? Shouldn’t we want to be support to them? If we reach out and they reject us, then we have done what we can do. But if we have a friend who is dealing with a particularly difficult situation and we simply don’t want to deal with their drama, are we being a good friend? There is a very fine line between supporting our friends and meddling in their lives when they need space. It can be difficult to know if we are doing the right thing by asking someone if there is anything they need. Should we hang back and just wait for them to ask us for help? Or should we step up and let them know that we are there if they need us? Either way, we leave ourselves open to rejection. But, in letting someone know that we care what is happening with them, we are doing what God would want us to do. We should never withhold love or concern in the interest of convenience.

I understand that we all have things going on in our lives, but it takes less than five minutes to send someone an e-mail or a text and ask them if they are doing okay. If you have friends who are struggling, take time to tell them you care what is happening in their lives. And if you need help, don’t be afraid to tell people what you are going through. The best way to heal is to confront the issue and to actually use the support system you have. Friends can’t help you or offer support if they have no idea that you’re struggling. Yes, we may want to be strong and to take care of things on our own, but there is no shame in having someone around to talk you through the difficult parts. Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders doesn’t necessarily make you stronger. Sometimes it only causes further injury and it ensures that the healing process will take even longer.

Healing takes time. Healing is a choice. Healing must happen on purpose. Healing requires feeling. And the way we get to healing is through knowledge. I do miss my friends. But I know that in some cases, there was a need for us to separate and go our own way. In some cases, I did all I could do for them. In others, I did not. Going forward, I hope that the people in my life will know that I am here to listen when they need me to hear them. I hope that if I am ever able to help, that I will do so. And I hope that if I ever need someone, there will be someone there for me.

For more information on healing, please visit our blog for Higher Ground for Life.  Healing for Life is a series on understanding what it takes to recover from personal trauma.  Just a few pieces of information to help you get started on your journey toward healing.  I hope you’ll take a look.  God bless.

Healing Requires Knowledge-Meme 5-2017

 Will your idle talk reduce others to silence? Will no one rebuke you when you mock?

Job 11:3 NIV

I can’t really remember where my head was at when the illness started, but I know that right now, my mind is somewhat blank.  I’ve had so much time to think about things that I’m all thought out.  Several weeks ago, I was working on several different projects.  I was writing.  I was publishing.  I was taking care of several things at my “day” job.  And I was helping my daughter with various things.  I was busy.  As we often are.  But I wasn’t feeling very fulfilled.  Things were getting to be stressful and before I knew it, the stress became a weakened immune system which then disintegrated into a full-blown case of bronchitis.  Since I have fibromyalgia and arthritis and a genetic predisposition to immune disorders, I know that stress is a surefire way to invite illness in.  I tried to keep going, but my breathing was seriously hindered by the bronchitis and my energy levels pretty much bottomed out.  I was down for the count.

Right before this illness set in, I had met a major milestone with my writing in that I published the tenth book in the mystery series that I have been writing since 2005.  My goal had been to write the tenth book and release it during the ten year anniversary of the series.  I met that goal, but instead of feeling good about the accomplishment, I started to experience a bit of anxiety about what to do next.  Although I have a list of story ideas that I am now free to start on, I’ve not been as motivated to write these things as I would have thought I would be.  I tried to sit down and write some since I couldn’t do much of anything else, but all I could think about was why couldn’t I breathe?  Why wasn’t I getting better?  Was I ever going to feel good again?

Aside from the writing, up to about the last year or so, my life had been centered around getting my ministry going and stepping out and making a big difference.  But suddenly, it was as though all the desire to minister had completely left me.  I had begun to feel as though no one was listening anyway, so why bother?  And now, when I had finally reached a point where I could begin to take my writing in a new direction without feeling confined to finishing out a certain series, I suddenly felt a twinge of hopelessness.  The same notion kept rolling through my mind.  No one was listening anyway, so why bother writing?   It was happening at work as well.  I wanted to step up and do some different things, but no one wanted to hear what I had to say.  This point was being reinforced in everything I did.  No one wanted what I had to offer, so why was I going after anything?

I had always thought that if I had something to say that might help someone else through a difficult situation, then God had given me the ability to say it for a reason.  That was a good thing.  But by the same token, my tendency to speak my mind has also served to drive a wedge between myself and others at times.  Sometimes because I was being a jerk, but sometimes just because people didn’t want to or weren’t ready to hear what I had to say.  In response to this, I’ve made some mistakes.  I’ve either stopped trying to talk to some people, I’ve filtered myself when I do talk to them, or I’ve stopped talking altogether.

This, however, is exactly what the devil wants us to do.  He wants us to either become so disgusted with the process that we become so negative that we are in no danger of speaking life or he wants us to shut up and say absolutely nothing.  Our words have the power to build people up or tear them down and sometimes we may get so bogged down in our own misery that we don’t realize which of these things we are doing most often.  Some of us never figure out how hurtful we have been and it all starts to pile up into an ugly mess.  It is possible to clean that mess up.  At least we can try to.  But it takes courage and a desire to fix what was broken.  It may take everything we’ve got, but the effort is worth it.  When our defenses are down, we may believe that it is impossible to make things right again, but don’t ever believe that God can’t bring about healing.

Today, the illness is mostly gone and the feeling of depletion has dwindled significantly.  There will always be challenges, but trusting in God’s healing process is the key.  Illness may slow us down, but living in His strength is the greatest prescription.  Nothing else compares to His healing power.  I pray that your healing washes over you like a flood.  That when it is all over, nothing broken will remain.  Nothing you have been through will be wasted.  He has a plan for it all and if we trust Him, there is no challenge that cannot be overcome.

 

“‘Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.  I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before.

~Jeremiah 33:6-7 New International Version (NIV)~

 

 

 

 

 

Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

Ephesians 6:24 New International Version (NIV)

We may never live up to what we think God wants us to be.  We can try and try, but still fall short.  This doesn’t mean that God won’t love us.  It doesn’t mean that He won’t show mercy to those who still struggle to put themselves back together after someone has torn them apart.  We will make mistakes.  It’s who we are.  It’s part of being human.  And He knows, better than any of us, that trying to be more than human simply isn’t possible for us.  If we love Him (and He knows who genuinely loves Him), then He will draw us into His arms and bring us the peace we need when we need it.

I’ve done some things in my life that I’m not particularly proud of.  I’ve fallen short.  I’ve missed the mark.  I’ve been, what I would call a failure.  But I’ve come to terms with all of that.  Why? Because I’ve spent many hours in prayer, asking Him to help me be better.  I’ve asked Him the hard questions and the answer I received was this, “If you hadn’t gone through the pain, you would never appreciate the peace.”  Amazingly enough, this is probably the truest statement I’ve ever heard.  If there had never been any struggle, I would never have known what it feels like to be healed.  I would never have had faith in His ability to take what is broken and make it new.

In receiving His grace, I also learned how to give grace.  I began to understand that we can only do what we can do.  If we are in the midst of healing…or haven’t figured out how to start the process, we don’t have a lot to give to others.  You can’t pour from an empty vessel.  And sometimes, it takes a lifetime to reach the point where we no longer blame ourselves for the pain we’ve endured.  I encourage you to give yourself a break.  You are doing the best you can with what you have.  And even at your lowest points, you are loved.  If you are still hurting, then you are still in need of healing.  You don’t have to be perfect…nor can you ever be.  You can only learn to accept the blessings and the lessons that He gives and move forward.

I don’t say this enough and it has become very clear to me recently that I may not always have the opportunity to do so.  But I love the people in my life more than I can ever express.  I don’t ever want them to think that I hold a grudge or that I was harmed by something they said or did in their brokenness.  I have long-since forgiven any trespasses and now enjoy the freedom of having faith in your healing process.  I’ve seen great things happen and I know He isn’t done impressing us with His awesome power.  When the healing is all done, I know that we’ll all be ready to walk the path He has set for us…and we will walk it together.

I wish you all the love, healing, and peace that you will ever need in this life. ❤

Introduction

My name is Rebecca Benston. I'm an author, speaker, and advocate for women and children. My spiritual journey has led me to many questions about what is right and how to live out the purpose that God has set for me.

I am finding that after considering all other possibilities, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that without living a life that acknowledges the blood of Jesus we are lost. Yet, there are many who claim to know Him and understand His teachings who spew hatred and look for any and all opportunities to judge others instead of seeking them out to lead them to Christ. The goal of this blog is to work towards removing the animosity that exists between followers of Christ who subscribe to different doctrinal approaches and beliefs about what is expected of a "good" Christian. Also to draw the unbeliever closer to Christ through practicing His love and patience and to help all followers understand that love and true faith cannot co-exist where hate, intolerance and a sense of superiority live.

I also hope to open a dialogue with people from many different religious backgrounds and to work together with followers of this blog to break down some of the barriers to harmony that exist in our society. I hope you will join in the conversation!

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