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Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress;  my eyes grow weak with sorrow,  my soul and body with grief.

~Psalm 31:9 (NIV)~

We generally hear of the calm before the storm, but in some cases the storm has been raging for so long that we’ve forgotten how that calm looks and feels.  Some lives seem destined to be filled with turmoil; one raging storm after another with no time for restoration in between.  I pray that this was not the case for my friend, Corey, who passed away unexpectedly last week.  He was a weary soul; but one who had much love in his heart.  I loved him like my own brother and I miss him.

When I got the call telling me that he was gone, I was in shock.  It didn’t seem possible that this person whom I had come to value so much could be taken so quickly and without warning.  I immediately thought about the void that this would leave in my life and how we never got to do all of the things we talked about doing.  As I thought about this, my heart went from aching for the person I had lost to aching for what he had lost.  And then I remembered what he had finally gained; peace and freedom from the pain he hadn’t been able to escape here on earth.

It’s funny how even in the passing of our loved ones, our focus is usually more about our loss than about the pain they endured and all of the things which led to their passing.  We forget sometimes, as we get caught up in how making time for others can be so pressing in our schedules, that the little bit of time we are able to spend with those we love might just be enough to keep them from falling deeper into hopelessness.  We treat our little contributions as great Christlike sacrifices and we place no value on the pain they may be suffering; shrugging it off as “their mess” or “their problem.”  This may not be true in all cases, but there are those in our lives that get only the portion of our love which we feel they deserve.  Usually, these are the people who need it the most, yet we withhold.  How we arrive at our assessment of what they are entitled to is a mixture of past hurts, the context of our journey with them and where our ego leads us.  And that assessment generally fails to consider just how broken they really are because if we acknowledge their brokenness, we may well have to acknowledge our own.

I guess I’m saying all of this in hopes that you’ll reconsider the energy you are giving to your relationships.  That you may never look back and wonder if you could have done more or been more for that person.  That the time you spend with them doesn’t lift you up in your own mind as some sort of martyr; but that it would lift them up and give them the incentive to do the same for others.  Let your love for one another do more than simply scratch the surface.  Understand them, sympathize with them.  Attempt to care more about them than about what you may be missing if you take a little more time to care.  It’s better to truly be there for someone when they really need you than to look around later and find that it’s no longer an option.

So for my “brother”, I hope your pain is finally healed.  I hope you have been restored and that you know how much you are missed and how much you were loved, even by those who couldn’t show you.  Rest in peace, dear.  I’ll see you on the other side.

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,  and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness  will go before you,  and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

~Isaiah 58:8 (NIV)~

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

~Luke 5:16~

About ten years ago, my youngest sister Jennifer left us to move to Boston to attend Berklee School of Music.  At the time, I was married and very busy with the life I was trying to build.  All the same, I missed her terribly and hated that she was so far away.  Sadly, she became ill and had to come back home and abandon her pursuit of a music degree.  I hated that she had to give up on her dream, but at the same time I was relieved that she was coming back home.  So much has happened between then and now.  We both were married, both had a child, and both got divorced.    We’ve been to at least six funerals, experienced a couple of weddings and the births of some beautiful children in our family.  We’ve both gotten older and wiser over the years.  A couple of years ago, she lost everything in a house fire but was able to get back on her feet relatively quickly.  I’ve never known of anyone who is as resilient as my sister, Jennifer.  No matter what life has thrown her way, she has bounced back from it and either gone ahead to pursue her goals or she has simply reorganized, regrouped and recovered.  She’s definitely someone who can be counted on to step in and take control when everything seems like it’s in total chaos.  I guess this is why I’m sitting here tonight thinking that I just don’t know what I’m going to do without her.  I’m proud to say that she’s been accepted into law school, but deeply saddened to say that the law school is in Michigan and she will be moving away at the end of the week.

While I may not know how I’m going to get through the next ten years of my life without her here to offer her special brand of constructive criticism, I do know that I’m not really as alone as I’m feeling.  I know that God isn’t really taking her away from me.  He’s taking her to the next level so that she can fulfill the plan He has for her life.  In doing so, He’s also pushing me to take some necessary steps in following the path He’s been trying to get me to follow for the last few years.  There have been many times in my life when I’ve refused to do what God was telling me to do and He’s presented me with a circumstance that was not exactly what I wanted to deal with.  When she left for college all those years ago, I was so caught up in my job and my marriage that I had no time at all for Him.  I wasn’t in church and I had no real direction or thought about anything other than satisfying my immediate needs.  It was not the best time in my life, though I was certain at the time that I was as happy as I was ever going to be in this lifetime.  I was wrong then and I’m pretty sure that all of this wallowing I’ve been doing lately is not exactly the right course of action either.

Jennifer has helped me through alot of things.  We have shared so much of our lives together and I can tell her anything without worrying that she will judge me unfairly.  She may judge me, but at least I know that her opinions are generally not sugar-coated and that she will always be completely honest with me.  When I can count on no one else to offer the truth, I know that she will always have the answer that I need to hear.  After all, it was Jennifer who told me several years ago that if I was missing God in my life, the first thing I needed to do was to get back in church.  I don’t believe I have ever received better advice than that.

When I turned forty just a few weeks ago, I was sure that this was going to be a turning point for me.  I was certain that this was going to be the beginning of a time in my life when I could actually make some progress.  But I haven’t really given myself credit for everything I’ve already accomplished.  I haven’t really looked at the experiences I have had in an objective way.  Rather than seeing how it all fits together, I’ve simply pushed the list to the back of my mind as I checked off all of the happenings that weren’t yet what I wanted to see.  As though I was going through my “to do” list of undesirable activities.  Depression, check. Anxiety, check. Miscarriage, check. Health problems, check. Bankruptcy, check. Divorce, check.  Loss of loved ones, check. Unemployment, check…you get the idea.

I don’t want anyone to get the impression that I’m so disgusted with my life that I just can’t bear one more thing.  That’s far from the truth.  I still have joy.  I still have peace.  I’m still very thankful for all of the blessings that I have in my life.  But I’m also still a human being.  I’m still a person with feelings and I still hurt from time to time.  There are still many things that happen that I just don’t understand.  I’m hoping to understand them later, but for now it makes for a confusing and difficult season.  God doesn’t promise that we won’t have times like these, in fact; He promises that we will see trials and that there will be more times than not when only He knows why something is happening or not happening in our lives.  At times like these, we have got to learn how to lean on Him.  We have got to release our hold on the things we are trying to control and give it all to Him.  So this means that no matter how much I try to hope someone back to good health or pray that someone will decide they want the same things I want in a relationship or even pray that someone I love changes their mind about leaving, it isn’t likely that those prayers will be met with the kind of fulfillment that we are seeking.  The only thing I can pray for with any expectation that it will come to pass is that God will change my focus and help me to accept the things that are happening in my life and to hold onto Him when it feels like I can’t accept them.  And so, the best thing for me to do when I feel defeated or when I feel like I have no control over my life is to accept that this might truly be the case.  It is possible that I’ve lost that particular battle.  But it’s more likely that it wasn’t mine to fight in the first place.

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

~Exodus 14:14~

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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