Christian, emotional, faith, Family, Friends, Friendship, Love, prayer

Love is not resentful…

This summer my pastor did a sermon series entitled The Many Shades of Love that covered the following topics: Loving Our God, Loving Our Neighbor, Loving Our Brothers, Loving Our Family, Loving Our Rebels, Loving Our Failures, Loving Our Addicts, and Loving Our Enemies. Although each topic centered on its own books, chapters and verses, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 connected them all.

This morning in my time with the Lord I read 1 Corinthians 13 and kept returning to verse 5, “. . . it [love]is not resentful.” Unsure why that particular passage was resonating with me today even though I’ve read it numerous times, I continued with my devotionals that included Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost For His Highest.

When I came upon this section, “never disregard a conviction that the Holy Spirit brings to you. If it is important enough for the Spirit of God to bring it to your mind, it is the very thing He is detecting in you,” it became clear why the bible passage stuck with me. I was being convicted by the Holy Spirit.

Unsure of the nature of the conviction, I went into prayer asking God to search me and bring to my understanding what needed repentance and change. I don’t know if you’ve ever asked THE holy and righteous God to reveal a sin in you, but it’s frightening. What was He going to find?

Turns out that what He found in me wasn’t exactly new. He’d brought it to my attention before but I guess I hadn’t resolved it to His liking, so He brought it again. What was I resentful about? I resented having been a supportive friend to two people who turned around and deserted me at a time when I needed them most.

In 2013 I had a very invasive surgery with complications that left me in the ICU for almost a week. The people I considered my closest friends were not there to support me or my husband as we went through this emotionally draining time. As D and my mom waited hours for me to get out of surgery, other friends that I had known for a lot less time and those who lived thousands of miles away were constantly checking in and supporting him via text. The two who should have been there, weren’t. Although local, they never came to see me in the hospital or at home while I was recovering. Years of friendship and they barely made an effort. Treated me with about as much warmth and care as you’d show a passing stranger.

For two years I’ve been holding on to that resentment and distanced myself from them as a result. Though I tried to move past it, my heart was hardened. Which is why when one of them went through some troubling times not too long ago I did not reach out and was not there to support. I’m ashamed to admit it.

When you leave things incomplete, God will keep bringing them up to you until you resolve them. I’d sought forgiveness from God, but never from the ones who hurt me. If you don’t know God, you’d think it insane to ask forgiveness of those who offend you, but that’s just what we’re asked to do. I needed to ask forgiveness for holding a grudge and not letting go. It’s not unsurprising that the Holy Spirit convicted me of it again.

Without Christ in me I do not have the love that is patient and kind, that does not envy or boast, that is not arrogant or rude. The one that does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, does not rejoice at wrongdoings, but rejoices with the truth. The love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.

With Christ in me I do. And it is Christ that I need to help me let go of that resentment. To let me forgive once and for all and to make peace with what happened. By myself I can’t do it. As believers, we know that at times the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

But that’s no excuse to stay complacent and not aim to grow spiritually. The God that elected and saved me did so that I should no longer live, but that He should live in me. The God who lives in me is the LOVE of the bible. With Him I will live His Love and be able to show it to those who have hurt me.

I pray that if you’re like me and struggling to live God’s love, you’ll seek Him for the strength to do so.

Love

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Christian, faith, Fear, Fellowship, Friends, Friendship, jesus, jesus christ, prayer, share, Trust

The Power of a Praying Friend.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Momentarily overwhelmed by challenges and uncertainties I’ve been facing these last few months, this morning I practically fell apart during my prayer time. Okay, I fell apart. More like I curled into the fetal position, crying snot bubbles and taking quick shallow breaths that rendered me light-headed and unable to speak my heart to God. The more I tried, the less successful my attempts.

Unable to find the words for myself, I shook with anxiety while searching my phone for a fellow believer in Christ who could support me. Of the three go-to prayer warriors in my life, I called my friend S. When her voicemail greeted me after several unanswered rings, the disappointment tore a guttural cry from my spirit. I was devastated. Where I normally would have been searching God’s Word for the support I needed, that morning an avalanche of tears blurred my vision to the point of making the content of my Bible unreadable.

Not knowing what else to do, I wailed several few short sentences that found their way from my heart to my mouth.

  • PLEASE, GOD HELP ME!
  • GOD, PLEASE, I NEED HELP!
  • GOD, I’M OVERWHELMED!
  • GOD, PLEASE. HELP ME, PLEASE, GOD.
  • I NEED HELP.
  • GOD, PLEASE ANSWER ME.
  • I NEED HELP.

I kid you not that I did not finish the last sentence before I saw (the ringer was off) S’s name flash on the phone that I was still holding. Like a lunatic, I greeted her with laughter and tears. My voice still hoarse from my cries. God was listening! Where I was starting to feel alone, He was reminding me I wasn’t. When S prayed for me this morning when I couldn’t for myself, I was reminded of the following:

  1. God is compassionate and merciful. His heart is moved by His children’s pain. Even as the sovereign creator and ruler of everything, He still cares about each and every single one of His children who come to Him with a burdened heart.
  2. In His compassion and His sovereignty, God will sometimes choose to answer prayers immediately. More than anything, what I needed this morning when I was crying out was to know that He was listening. As He needed to when He calmed the storm for the apostles in Mark 4:35-41, I think He chose to give me that immediate confirmation because at that moment my faith wasn’t strong enough to see past my fears.
  3. As believers, we are the body of Christ. And as the body of Christ, we are to come alongside and encourage one another in our walk with Christ. Spiritually, I was at a low point this morning. By God’s gracious provision, He sent a sister-in-Christ who prayed for me and provided the support to lift me up and get me back on my path.

I am thankful to God for the power of a praying friend. I am thankful that He made S obedient to His leading and directed her to go in search of her phone even though she wasn’t sure why there was an urgency to find it. If you’re a believer and don’t have an S in your life, or a D (my sister), or a K (my brother-in-law), if you don’t have God-fearing, God-loving, Bible-believing and Bible-obedient supportive loved ones in your life whose first line of defense is to pray for you, then pray for God to lead you to them – or them to you. And while you’re at it, pray that He will make you one to someone else.

I may not be a friend, but as a fellow believer I am your family, so may those of you struggling today know that you have someone praying for you. As S prayed for me, I pray that you will take Jesus up on His offer to find rest for your souls by exchanging your heavy burdens for his light yoke.

Remember, as the body of Christ, we are supporting one another to do His kingdom’s work on earth. We’ve each been given the Great Commission and while we have an individual responsibility, we also have the collective responsibility to support one another in this work.

prayer

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Blogging, BlogHer, College, December, Friends, Friendship, Joy, NaBloPoMo

NaBloPoMo December: Day 1 (Call Me Al!)

Great way to kick-off this month’s #joy theme. This song always reminds me of my best friend K and I dancing around the local supermarket of our college town. Whenever I hear it, I just have to start moving and smiling. Do you have a song that does that for you?

december 2014

 

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33 Random Things I’m Thankful For.

To cap off my lovely birthday weekend here’s a list of 33 random things I’m thankful for.

1. My salvation. Nothing in life could ever matter without the security of eternal salvation. I’m thankful God used my grandmother to lead me to the church where I eventually came to accept Christ as my personal savior. I am by no means perfect, and in fact I’ve fallen short more times than I’d like to admit, yet I’m blessed to know that nothing can separate me from the love of God. My salvation is because of the sacrifice of Christ Jesus and not of my own merits.

2. D, who is happy to indulge my desire to jump in the car, pick a direction and see where we end up. In fact, he is a willing participant. Today we ended up in a cute, tiny slice of Americana called Millerton (NY).

3. Great food. Whether it’s a spicy chicken sandwich at a fast food joint or a grilled octopus dish at a Michelin rated restaurant, I’m thankful for the meals that make my stomach happy.

4. Speaking of food, I am ever thankful that even though my family was considered working poor, my siblings and I were always fed. It wasn’t until adulthood I came to realize my mother willingly sacrificed her meals to keep us fed. I don’t ever take for granted a full – heck even a partially full – fridge, and never miss out on an opportunity to feed someone. When 1 in 6 people in this country face hunger, the opportunity is ever present. Feeding America can help you find a food bank near you if you’d like to lend a hand, or if you’re in need of a helping hand.

5. Cheap makeup brands that let me try out red lipsticks. I don’t wear lipstick and never red lipsticks, yet I had an itch to try one recently. NYC 320 Mahogany is a winner.

6. My siblings – both by blood and by marriage. Of course I love them because they’re family, but I also really like them as human beings. Each unique personality brings something of value to this world and to my life.

7. Christmas decorations with lots of lights. I am the weirdo who will stand outside your house taking pictures. Accept it as the compliment that it is.

8. The Internet. In the last few days alone I’ve googled the correct temperature to cook chicken (350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes), the start and end dates of Hanukkah 2014 (Dec 16-24), and Ian Ziering’s age (surprisingly, 50). How is that possible? How old was I when I was watching 90210? Anyway, technology is an amazingly convenient tool.

9. Hairdressers. Making me presentable since 1999.

10. Puppies. All that cuteness just brings a big ol’ smile to my face.

11. Pedicures. Specifically pedis at my favorite salon. Such a great way to relax and hide out from the world for 45 minutes.

12. Working for a company with a mission. With as much time as I spend at work, I’m thankful I can at least say it’s to serve a greater purpose.

13. Sanity. Enough said.

14. Physical health. Enough said.

15. Friends who care about me and my husband. Last year I had a health scare and it was great to see how certain friends rallied to support D knowing he was remaining strong for me. I’ll never forget that.

16. Funky glasses. Fun eyewear helps me make the most of terrible eyesight.

17. Contacts. The next best thing to laser surgery.

18. A love of the written word. Reading and writing.

19. Coffee and tea. Spent some time at a Harney & Sons tasting room today. So good.

20. Spiritual leaders who take seriously the role of shepherd that God has called them to be. Those who know that they will have to give an account to God for the spiritual well-being of everyone He placed in their care. Hebrews 13:17 and James 3:1.

21. A good night’s rest.

22. Coconut and Olive oils. Talk about multipurpose use. Good to eat. Good to moisturize. Best value ever.

23. Pretty/interesting/unique notebooks and journals. I’ve kept a diary since the 5th grade when Ms. Romain gave me Anne Frank’s Diary as a graduation gift. I can never have enough of them.

24. Four seasons. Even winter.

25. A huge big world to explore. So many places to see. So many dishes to try.

26. Smoothies. The best way to get nutrients from all the good-for-you ingredients I’d rather not eat. Although I still can’t bring myself to add bananas. *Shudders at the thought of eating them.*

27. Secret Santas. I’m always excited to participate in SS exchanges and look forward to creating a package that my person will enjoy.

28. Online banking.

29. My mother-in-law’s pumpkin pie. Yum.

30. My mom’s legume – eggplant, chayote, crab, conch and beef – and rice with fresh beans.  Sooo good.

31. Legs that enjoy walking.

32. Protective cases for phones.

33. Love.

Millerton Oblong

Main street

Terni's

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Book drop ted

Book drop blue

Bench

Tasting room

Harney and Sons

Mussels

Dessert menu

Dessert

NaBloPoMo_November

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Married? No Opposite Sex Friendships for YOU!

If I didn’t have friends of the opposite sex, I’d have very few friends left.

I grew up with a gaggle of brothers, male cousins and uncles so it naturally extended to my friendships. My comfort level around men was second nature. Excluding the ones I was crushing on (and my childhood bully), I’ve always been my most comfortable self with them. Never worried about being judged for my hair, my clothes, or my looks. I was simply part of their crew. The little “sister” they clowned around with, sought advice about girls from, played dominoes and UNO with, and whose company they simply enjoyed without any stress or drama. With them, I never felt awkward.

Which is why I tilted my head in curiosity at (my girl! ❤ her!) Mary J. Blige’s most recent comment about opposite sex friendships in her marriage: “All females for me, all guys for him. There’s none of that, ‘Oh, that’s my female friend, Oh, that’s my guy friend,’” Blige said. “No, not in a marriage, I’ve never seen that work.”

She’s not the first person to stand on the side of ‘no’ to the question of whether men and women can ever be just friends. But I still don’t get it. My husband and I both count opposite sex members as best friends. At our wedding he had a Best Woman and I had a Man of Honor. Were we supposed to terminate two long-standing, supportive friendships because of unnecessary insecurity? What sense would that have made?

Simplistic or not, in my head you either trust the person you’re marrying, or you don’t. Trust the relationship, or don’t. If the stability and longevity of your marriage depend on banishing opposite sex friendships, perhaps your foundation wasn’t strong enough to begin with.

Just my two cents. What’s yours?

trust11

NaBloPoMo_November

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