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I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.
Sometimes the very things we use to help us deal with the pain in our lives become the biggest source of pain that we will face. I’m talking about our addictions. Our fixations. The strongholds that get in the way of our dealing with the real issues. At what point does the medication become the contaminant? What would happen if we just threw out all of the coping mechanisms and stared our problems right in the eye? Could we prevail? Could we overcome? The answer is YES!
Contrary to popular belief, God is not a crutch. His word is not a coping mechanism. The Truth is not some sort of spiritual band-aid. Those who come to know Him will find peace like they’ve never known and if we are willing to lay down our idols and bring our wounds to Him, He will heal us every time. What we often fail to understand is that in order for us to receive true healing, we have to allow the sickness or injury to truly take hold of us (we have to admit it exists) and then we have to have the courage to give it all to God. We can’t look at our situations and become frustrated because God isn’t working as fast as we would like Him to work. His timing is always perfect and if we feel that there is a delay, we aren’t understanding something that He needs us to see before true healing can take place.
The other night, I came face to face with my former self. Not literally, but in a manner of speaking, I met a young woman who reminded me so much of the girl I used to be before I knew Christ. She was loud, angry, sad, mixed-up and just lost. She started talking about her life and before I knew it, she was in tears. All I could think of when she was talking to me was how hard it had been for me and how scared I had been when I was her age. She was twenty-five years old and she had been a victim of molestation and many other terrible things. She was in an abusive relationship with a controlling boyfriend. She was drunk. She’d had significant loss in her life which included the death of a mentor and estrangement from two siblings. She was in a state of utter brokenness and as she spoke to me through her tears, I couldn’t help but feel her pain. This was me. This was what I had felt like all those years ago when I’d been lost in sin and broken into so many pieces that I was sure I could never be put back together.
The girl told me that she prayed every night. She told me that she wanted to go to church. She told me that she needed someone to talk to and that she was thankful to have someone listen to her. My heart breaks for all of the women out there who are in the same situation. Looking around, I can see that she is probably representative of a much larger population that exists in our midst. Women who have no hope. Women who are afraid. Women who haven’t been beaten up enough to get help according to the standards of the agencies that are set up to help them. Women who don’t even realize that they are being abused. Women who have been brought up to believe that this is okay. Women who have been self-medicating with alcohol or drugs in order to feel strong enough to face their abusers or simply get through each day. Women who put on their best tough girl costume to take on the challenges they must deal with. Women who have such a hardened shell that they cannot even allow the love of Christ to come into their lives. This is not His plan for us. This is not okay.
Cheating husbands who have no idea how to value us, children broken as a result of either our poor choices or the abuse they have seen us suffer, continued persecution at the hands of abusive parents, friends whose only motivation is to have a little company for their own misery; all of these things are attacking us every day. All of these things are standing in the way of Jesus until we have the courage to set aside those self-destructive patterns that have become our way of life. Beth Moore said that our lives are often a reflection of the memories we hold onto or the perceptions of ourselves that we have come to cling to. We can become so used to the person we are that we forget who we can be.
I’m reminded often of the story of the woman with the alabaster box of perfume who came to Jesus and proceeded to wash His feet with her tears and with the perfume and then dried them with her hair. She had come to the end of her rope and was finally ready to turn away from what had been her sinful lifestyle and all she felt she had to offer Him was this gift. We don’t have to give Him anything but our attention. He doesn’t require more than our acknowledgement that He is Lord and our belief that He can and will restore us. His love is more valuable than any perfume and it washes us clean.
By coming into relationship with Christ, He can restore our memory and His love will remind us of the wonderful creature He designed us to be. Our horrible experiences don’t have to become trophies. Our failures don’t have to define our futures. We are more than conquerors and we must trade our fears for the love that is poured out freely and unconditionally by the Creator. He loves us so much that we don’t have to settle for last call, ladies. If you know a woman who is struggling with an addiction of any kind, please reach out to her. Help her to understand that Christ can heal every affliction. He can break every chain. And if you don’t feel comfortable doing this for her, then maybe you need to reach out to someone as well. We have got to start lifting one another up in Jesus’ name if we ever hope to restore the brokenness in this world. This is the only way to bring light into the darkness.
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal. From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will touch you.”
~Job 5:17-19 NIV~
He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding. ”
Sometimes we just want to know why. Why is this happening to me? Why is this happening to someone I love? What does God want me to do with this? Where does He want me to go? Is it even Him? We want all of the answers to the questions we hold in our hearts and minds and we fail to accept that sometimes we can miss the whole point of the lesson because we were too busy trying to figure out why it was being taught. It’s possible that we do this because in some instances we are so worried that we are being punished for something we’ve done wrong that we forget that it isn’t always about us. In reality, even if it is really about us it isn’t likely that God is truly using the situation to punish us for not being perfect or for coming up with the wrong answer. Sometimes, He’s trying to help us get unstuck. Sometimes, we just have to let the seasons change and admire the presence of God’s handiwork as we face each new day. Sometimes we might have to do this through tears, but that doesn’t erase the beauty that He can create from our ashes. It only keeps it from being completely in focus until after we’ve dried our tears.
This has been a particularly difficult season in my life. Quite frankly, there have been many days when I had to constantly tell myself that things would be better in the morning. There were many nights that I woke up in fear, shaken by a nightmare or just a barrage of thoughts I didn’t want to have. Even though I love my God and I trust Him with all my heart, the devil wasn’t about to relent and I spent many hours of many days sitting in prayer, crying out to God for help. The best part of it all was that in all of those hours, even though I was going through some things I just couldn’t understand I knew that God was with me, He was for me and He was not going to let it all get the best of me in the end.
One of the toughest challenges I’ve faced in the past few years is watching as my loved ones have become ill and as some have passed away. This has been difficult not only because I have a hard time dealing with loss, but because I have a very hard time watching my family struggle with loss. So I sometimes have felt like I have to choose whether or not I will break down and let my sadness take over or if I am strong enough to support others as they experience grief. In truth, I tend to distance myself from those whom I love. This is especially true when I hear that they have been sick or when I realize that they are getting older and that they might not always be with me. Although selfish and quite possibly not the best thing I could do to show my love, it seems to be a reflex. Looking back at the times when I have truly had an opportunity to let someone know that they were important to me, I can’t say that I have ever taken full advantage of it. I know this is an area where God has been working on me and I like to think that I’m getting a little better at showing love on the front end. I hope and pray that I will eventually find strength to follow through with what I know to be the right way to let my loved ones know what they mean to me before it’s too late.
Just like anyone else, I get caught up in trying to protect myself from harm. With trying to protect my daughter from harm. Sometimes I fail to show forgiveness to the degree that God would have me show it. Sometimes, I’m simply too forgiving in the wrong circumstances and end up focusing all of my good energy on those who couldn’t care less whether or not I love them. It’s a process. A long, difficult process that encompasses not one, but pretty much every season of life. When I’ve prayed to God for understanding, He has most often been resolutely silent on the matter. The other day, however; I was asking Him for guidance and He said to me, “Sometimes we aren’t meant to understand the seasons of our lives until a long time after we’ve gone through them.” That was it. And in that moment, I thought about all of the things I have been through and tried to remember what I was feeling when I was going through them. Yes, it’s true. I didn’t understand them then, but with His help I understand most of them now. And later, it will make even more sense. But I have to keep asking Him for that guidance. I have to keep asking Him to help me through what doesn’t make sense and hope that He will show me the why later. And when He gives me answers, I have to not only be willing to apply that knowledge, but to share what I’ve learned when it makes sense.
God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.
~1 Kings 4:29~