Tag Archives: honesty

What kind of friend are we?

19 May

It occurred to me while talking with my son about sharing with some friends a decision our family has made that they may not like, we have some growing to do in the area of friendship.

How to be one, and what qualities we’re really looking for in a friend.

And I have to say…. I think our first two natural responses might be off the mark.

Most people when asked…. “what quality do you cherish most in a friendship?” they reply “trustworthy.”

Ok, don’t misunderstand me… trust is needed and a GREAT quality.  But do we want trustworthiness for the right reasons?

I wrote this out the other night to a friend sharing my heart and it’s still on my mind.

So…I’m just thinking out loud here but what if we held ourselves more accountable for our actions instead of blaming our friends for not keeping all our dirty laundry quiet?

What if we put in place a standard that took away the depth of all our secrets that weren’t really secrets but things we shouldn’t be doing? An accountability measure that said “If I’m afraid someone is going to find out I said this, or I did this….then I shouldn’t be saying it or doing it.” Not one that says “How dare she/he tell someone what I said about someone else?”

What would the world look like if we taught our children that finding good friends is not about finding the best secret keepers…. but about finding the people with the least amount of secrets they hold a noose around our neck to keep quiet for them? Or actions to cover up for them?

I think we have become a people of friend jumpers because we want to be able to get away with gossip and secret lives without anyone else finding out about it. And then we blame everyone else if we end up exposed.

If we aren’t the kind of friend who has anything negative to say about others, then our friends become safe and secure with us building true intimacy and security.  They long to honor our friendship, and won’t blab true secrets that need to be kept.  Especially… because we’re telling those things to people who mimic the same standard…. if they aren’t blabbing about others, they likely won’t blab about us.

Lets be the kind of friends who don’t need to add “Don’t tell anyone I said that.” to the end of our sentences and then we won’t be disappointed if people struggle to keep quiet.

 

Women especially take on the label “catty” and often times, rightly so.  That label comes from speaking gossip, inability to refrain from repeating gossip, a fallout from distrust, and a grudge against another person.

Any secret that needs kept about ourselves first and foremost should be selectively shared with only those who are righteous in the way they relate to us and about others to us.

Practical Application:

What kind of friend am I?

Do I gossip about others?

Do I have a lot of negative opinions about things?

Do I say or expect the phrase to be assumed “don’t tell anyone I said that?”

Am I holding a grudge against someone for throwing me under the bus when really… I had no business saying what I said in the first place?

Am I a friend jumper because I’ve been untrustworthy or I tell secrets to untrustworthy people?

Say Something….

30 Apr

Hey guys –

So, where have I been?  Well… I’ve been no where really.

I can say that I went from having a part-time babysitting job for the last two years, to having FOUR part-time jobs in two weeks time.  They are all jobs I can handle, but it’s taking some adjusting to get use to.

And baseball is in full swing so with two boys playing on two different teams and two other kids to watch and a husband who coaches…. it’s sink or swim and we do everything we can to stay afloat.

But… that’s all kinda a mask for the fact,

I don’t have anything to say.

Nothing is jumping out of my Bible at me.  In fact, it hasn’t for weeks. I’m still reading every day, always, but I don’t always remember what I read.  That’s how dry it is right now.

My prayer life is weak.  I pray with the kids every morning on the way to school, and some days… that’s as far as I get.

My natural instincts to be selfish and want to do everything I want to do when I want to do it and feel totally inconvenienced by my youngest two kids during the day is extremely high. I’ve said twice in the last week – I cannot WAIT until all of these kids are in school so I can have my days to myself.  Am I going to miss this someday?  It’s hard to believe that will be the case, but I can tell you that if that is true… it won’t just be miss, it’ll be regret.  Because I was warned to make the most of this… and yet, here I am – wishing it away.

Twice in the last week I treated my husband terribly with my actions and words.  I apologized very sincerely and quickly… but the suppression of my sinful nature is losing it’s grip.  And it scared me how wretched I was and how quick it happened.

I’ve avoided the computer, which means I haven’t read any of your blogs.  I’ve missed them so much, but I replaced all that computer time with work.  I’m throwing myself into my jobs right now in hopes to help my husband provide for this family.

I’m not depressed.  I’m not in a valley.  I’m not even lost in sadness.

It’s just very matter of fact.  I have nothing to say.

And the truth is… it’s time to say something before I give up.

We’ve all been there right?

When we avoid something or someone until they disappear.

Or, when we’re ignored to the point that we give up on someone or something else.

 

I’ll successfully hit 500 words, which is about half of a normal post for me.  I didn’t even think I’d get that far.

I’ll leave you with this….. I just appreciate the beauty of this song so much.

 

 

 

 

 

When it never comes….

12 Apr

So I told you at the end of my last post, I had some life-giving words to give.

I did it.

It was not easy.  Well, it was easy but …oh, just let me explain.

It took me a long, REALLY LONG, time to speak these words.

I knew years ago, they needed spoke.  But as I’ve talked before about how to give a real apology, I knew I wasn’t ready yet to not try to justify myself… or include “you hurt me too.”

In my opinion, one of the biggest hindrances to forgiveness is when we try to tackle both people’s issues at the exact same time.  Often what happens is, neither feels their issue was addressed properly and nothing truly gets resolved.

There is a time to tell someone, “you really hurt me when….”  but it’s not the exact same time you’re saying “I’m sorry that I….”

And I wanted to say that first part really badly.

Normally, I’m all about face to face apologies.  There are exceptions.  And in my case for this one situation, it was a letter kind of apology.

It was easy to write.  I did have a lot to ask forgiveness for, and I knew it! God had convicted me a long time ago, and I had repented and asked forgiveness years back.  So, there wasn’t any doubt about what I had done or why I should be sorry about it.

However, what came next was hard.

The waiting.  Knowing the letter had been read, but waiting for some kind of a response.

You never know *if* you will get a response, what it will say, or what it won’t say.  But you have to wait anyway.  We all do.

Best case scenario, you get a quick response, total forgiveness and an apology for what they may have done in or because of the situation.

That doesn’t always happen though.  And then we have to control our emotions and lead our hearts with what we’ll do next.

This might seem silly to some, but I waited 48 hours for a reply, and it felt like eternity.  In that time, I felt very vulnerable and exposed.  It seemed like my raw honesty was being ignored.  Or minimized.  Or maybe even mocked?

I wrestled being hurt or offended. But I was preaching and preaching and preaching to myself… DON’T pick anything up.  This wasn’t about me.  This was about them.  Entirely about them!  I owed an apology.  And I gave a sincere, genuine apology.  If I didn’t hear anything back, that was OK.  I didn’t have to.

The response was very nice.  I was forgiven in full.

Praise Jesus!

Yet, that one last thing was missing… “I know I hurt you too.”

…….

 

Guess what?  It’s OK.  That’s not news to my heart.  I knew that YEARS ago too.  And Jesus is the power to forgive… not simply by the receipt of an apology.

Sure — I believe in apologies.  That’s why I gave one.  But… Jesus’ paid the debt for everyone’s sins.  Mine, theirs, yours… all of us.

I don’t need to require payment to forgive.

I can forgive quickly and fully because Jesus’ has forgiven me of much worse.  He paid my sentence.  He paid their sentence.  IT IS FINISHED.

 

If you’re still waiting for that response, forgiveness, or admission of guilt from someone else….. can you look to the cross this Easter and say:

IT IS FINISHED!

Practical Application:

Am I still being a debt collector? Am I requiring payment that Jesus’ already paid?

Life or Death

9 Apr

I saw this picture I’m about to share awhile ago and I haven’t been able to get it off my mind.

You know the old saying “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Yeah, so we all know that’s not true. No need for a post explaining that.

Words can kill

However, hurt… and kill….. are those the same?

I remember a long time ago, someone said something to me and it wasn’t just a wound.  It killed me. Literally, a part of myself became dead and destroyed.

I don’t want to post what it was, because I’m sure the person remembers saying it, and well, I learned awhile ago when I almost quit blogging for good that personal stories that include other people can really be hurtful if not explained well, and I made a promise to avoid those situations in the future, because I never know who will read this one day.

At any rate, I’ve forgiven (after a LOT of years of bitterness and angst.) But… it’s definitely something I just can’t forget.

It took a lot for Jesus to revive that part of me again.  And honestly, I still protect it like it’s the most fragile part of me.

This got me thinking….

I’ve murdered a lot of people with my words

One of my biggest struggles is that when I’m hurt, I am tempted to become a loose, reckless cannon. (I am getting better.  I won’t claim victory.)

In those times, I might as well have put a shot-gun in my mouth and pulled the trigger.  Because I know I murdered others with what I said.

I remember so specifically something I said to my husband.  And I wish more than anything I could take it back. This was a LONG, LONG time ago…. but I said

“You disgust me.  I feel so bad for our boys.  I wish you weren’t their father.”

Ugh.  I start crying every time I remember that.  How could I? What was I thinking?

For the record, I don’t mean that! I didn’t then either.  My husband is an AMAZING Father!!

I just was so careless with what I would let fly out of my mouth.  I wanted him to hurt as bad as I felt like I was hurting.

Some words hurt others… some kill.

Practical Application:

If our tongues have the power to give life or death… how many dead people are in my life?

Have I given life to any enemies lately?

* I have some life-giving words to give …. more to come on that.

~~~~

On an unrelated note… sorry for being a little MIA!  I know I’ve been a little slow replying to emails, and getting new posts up!  It’s because I decided to start up a new business.

I *want* to write a huge post about it, but I know you all aren’t coming here to read about that.

BUT — just incase you might be interested at all… you can like my Facebook page here!

If you like the page, you’ll automatically be entered in a giveaway for a free product when I hit 75 page likes.

I was so skeptical of this company for over a year.  I didn’t want to risk wasting my money, however, my friend started selling and I won a couple of items for FREE, and then I fell in love.

I don’t like chemicals, but in an effort to go “more green” I tried cleaning my house with baking soda and vinegar, and it didn’t work AND my house smelled like vinegar.  So I went back to the chemicals.  Until, I found Norwex!

I’m seriously BLOWN AWAY!!!

Ok, Ok… I won’t say any more unless you contact me on facebook and want to know what all the fuss is about and how it works.

One last thing, I can do parties over the internet now without having to be in home… and it makes it possible for ANYONE to host a party with me.

The rewards are insane! I had a small party, and I got EIGHT free gifts for hosting.  Yes, EIGHT!  Totally worth it.  Easy, peasy.  And I got to try everything without risking a single penny of my own.

You’d be my hero if you decided to host an online Facebook party for me! Seriously, I’d love you forever!!!

Ok, I’m done… for real this time 🙂

Lonely.

6 Apr

I think there may be no greater danger in life than the place of loneliness.

Whenever Satan can convince us that we’re alone, unseen, unloved, undesired, unknown, unwanted, unproductive – it’s there, in the middle of the loneliness, that his lies sound like truth.

When we’re surrounded by strong Christians, good friends who are holding us accountable and REALLY know us, and a marriage that is flourishing, we’re less likely to fall apart.

That doesn’t mean temptations don’t come, or that we can never stumble.  Of course we can, but we are much less likely to feel defeated when we feel loved.

I believe this is the very reason for the promise “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Jesus’ constant reminder that WE ARE NOT ALONE, even if we are tempted to feel like we are, is meant to be security against Satan’s attacks. He knew that promise mattered.  Which is why He promised it.  Because if we feel alone, we feel defeated… and defeat doesn’t press on toward the prize.  Defeat paralyzes.  It lies to us and cripples us from using God’s power in us to face whatever is coming at us.

This is important, please don’t miss this….EVEN IF there is nothing “significantly pressing” going on like illness or persecution…. loneliness is a threat we cannot take lightly.

I’ve seen people who seemingly had EVERYTHING.  They weren’t facing any major catastrophes in their life at all… and yet, because they were lonely, they completely fell apart.

My friend often says this saying “Once we’re aware of something, we no longer have any excuses against it.”  What she means is, if you “know” you have an addiction to sweets, it’s no longer something you can spend hours justifying or crying over if you’re not going to address it.

I’m very aware of loneliness.

I spent a good three straight years incredibly lonely.  Yes, I had “friends” during that time.  But I was “unknown” at the same time.  My Christian friends didn’t know everything that was going on… like the problems in my marriage.  And my non-Christian friends never filled that void in me for deep fellowship because sin was always so present in their advice and invitations.

Once I realized the loneliness problem – I decided I would never allow myself to be “lonely” again.

I’m aware of the danger.  I’m aware that Jesus makes it very obvious that fellowship is essential to our faith.  It’s why belonging to a local Church is vital, for the body to come together.  It’s why the disciples never ministered alone,  they always had someone with them (unless they were in prison.) And again, it’s why Jesus promised us He’d always be with us.

It’s been a hard year… one I’m willing reluctantly admitting has been constantly tempting to feel lonely.

Understand, loneliness isn’t a temptation because you’re locked in a cellar with no one in sight.

Loneliness is a temptation when something feels like it’s missing.

This year has been A LOT of changes for us.

Since leaving our church home of ten years, two years ago… it’s been incredibly lonely.  Once you’ve had a very active church family, it’s so hard to walk into a building and not know anyone’s name nor does anyone know who you are either.

I miss being known.  I miss being accountable to my church family.  I miss knowing what is going on with the body of believers I worship with – knowing what to pray for them and ask them about the following week.  I miss sharing prayer requests with someone I know is really going to pray, and ask me how my week was when I see them on Sunday.

Today, I looked around me during service and felt so out of place.  It doesn’t feel like home at all.  It feels lonely.

Yes, I know Jesus is all I need.

Yes, my marriage is strong.

Yes, I have friends I can call on.

Yes,  the temptation for loneliness is still heavy and pushing at me to entertain the defeat.

When something feels out of whack, it tests us in every area. Even areas we know we’re strong.

Questions like “Are my friends really my true friends?  Is my husband really able to be my “best friend” when we’re so different? Does my blog ministry even matter, is it effective or reaching anyone? What’s the point of church if we don’t know anyone anyway? What are those people saying about us when we leave?”

I know all the answers to those questions… and there’s nothing really to be tempted over.

Practical Application:

Call out the loneliness.

Once we’re aware what is going on, we can recognize the lies and tempting thoughts so much easier, instead of believing them or wrestling with them for so long.

Write the truth down. Say the truth out loud.  Meditate on the truth. Purposely talk about the truth.

Don’t settle for defeat.

Only heinous people tell lies.

3 Apr

 

For the longest time, I thought I was the worst person in the whole world because I struggled with lying.

Only really terrible people do something so heinous as to make up a lie. It’s unacceptable, inexcusable, and unforgivable.
“What is WRONG with you that you wouldn’t be honest and you’d hide behind made up stories to fit in, or have something to talk about that anyone would want to listen to. You’re a fake and a total disgust of a human” are just a few of the thoughts that paralyzed me for a long time.

My husband has reassured me over and over again that EVERYONE lies. Yes, some people struggle in a more in-depth way than others if it happens to be an addictive behavior that Satan wraps them up in, but that doesn’t mean others have the authority to put themselves in a position of superiority like they are above such ugliness.

The problem is often that they classify “lying” as a definition that only includes what they “don’t do” and then conveniently exclude the ways that they lie.

There are a number of ways that we are tempted to, and even give into lying, that we rarely talk about in-depth. I’m not going to cover them all. I’m going to tackle three and hopefully I’ll start the ball rolling for you to make your own list.

1.) Lying by omission.

This is simply “not” saying all the details. I’m not describing keeping someone’s secrets, secret. It’s ok not to share everything we know about everyone with everyone. That is being a trusted friend.

Lying by omission is when we’re leaving out information, details, words, ANYTHING about ourselves that is giving someone an impression or story that isn’t entirely accurate. We might feel like we didn’t “say” anything that was a lie or that we can’t be responsible for what other people assume, however, if we are willingly painting a picture by NOT painting it, we’re lying.

Telling our spouse that we went to lunch today with a co-worker, while leaving out that it was a male co-worker, is lying by omission.

2.) Lying by repeating something with a different tone, inflection or attitude.

This happens in marriage A LOT! But that statistic in marriage might be beat out by how often this happens between women who have problems with each other.

The story changes, and the likelihood for hurt feelings and offenses greatly increases when tone of voice is misrepresented.
Picture this:
In a soft, calm voice with a smile Gina says to Penny, “Sally looked so pretty today. I bet she spent a lot of money on that dress. It was really worth it. It worked well for her.”

Penny doesn’t like Gina and always reads offenses into everything she says, so….
With a harsh, sarcastic tone she says to Sally, “Penny said you looked SSSOOO pretty today. I BET she spent A LOT of money on that dress. It was REEEAAAALLY worth it. It worked well for HER.” Flips her hair as if Gina was rudely gossiping about Sally and says “you should have seen her face.”

Sally leaves hurt and confused and now has an offense against Gina.

It’s not uncommon for spouses to say the phrase to each other “I didn’t say it like that.  I didn’t use that tone.  You’re making me sound like such a jerk!”

What if a husband says, “I’d rather you not tell me how to handle this situation. I’m struggling with the best decision and your emotions are so high right now that you’re speaking from a place of hurt.”

And the wife repeats it like this, “I’d rather YOU not tell ME how to handle this situation. (Pounds on chest) I’m struggling with the best decision and YOUR emotions are SO HIGH right now that YOU’RE speaking from a place of hurt.” (As if I’m the problem here and am messing up your life.)

In both of those situations, the words were repeated correctly…. but the heart was misrepresented and that constitutes as lying.

3.) We lie through our actions.

As a believer in Christ, this one really stings because if we have Christ, and we walk in sin…. we’re lying with our bodies.

Am I saying we can’t make mistakes?  Of course not.  We all sin.  And will all sin until we die!

But committing a sin and repenting is not the same as walking in sin continually and habitually.

We can’t claim to have Christ and yet walk a constant contradiction without lying with our bodies.

This happens often with couples who have sex before marriage.  They are telling a lie with their bodies that they are indeed one flesh when they have not truly become one flesh through permanent commitment and marriage.

This also happens when we have a habitual gossip, anger, addiction, porn, lust, pride, selfish, idolatry, money, love, forgiveness, bitterness, mercy problem(s).   We’re claiming to be a child of the living God, but constantly maligning His testimony through us.

We praise our Father, but then curse with our bodies by allowing them to follow the ways of Satan.

 

Sometimes we get so judgmental of other who struggle in ways WE never would, all the while, missing how we maybe aren’t that far from them.

That’s why Jesus likens hate to murder and lust to adultery. We may not be letting others see it on the outside, but in our hearts, we’ve already sinned.

 

Practical Application:

Are you trapped right now by Satan because of something you struggle with that you are believing no one else struggles with or is as horrible as you?

(Comment below or shoot me an email… I’ll help you uncover why that’s a lie too!!!)

Are you judging someone else for being so much worse than you are because you’d never do what they do?

Have you ever told a lie in any of these ways? Does this change how you feel?

 

Let it go.

26 Mar

Right, right… the title reminds you of the Disney song from the movie Frozen.  I wasn’t a fan of that movie. I have a whole list of reasons – but since everyone seems to LOVE it, I better not blog about it.  I’ll be down to zero followers.

I’m not talking about the movie Frozen today – however, I’m talking about a Frozen Heart.

There are some of you that used to be Lessons of Mercy followers WAY back when I use to blog on BlogSpot, and walked through life with me while I faced broken relationships and unforgiveness.  I spent a few months in counseling (I think EVERYONE should go to counseling at least once in their life!!) and getting to the bottom of all my bitterness.

It was through that time that God really unveiled the spiritual gift of Mercy in my life (hence the name change, blog location, and fresh start.)

My relationships with some people in my life were a mess.

It had reached the point of never communicating again.  It was broken.  It was over. It was NEVER, EVER able to be fixed again. (Oh, how little I knew of the power of God at that moment in my life.)

I had a list of hurts that were brutal. Unacceptable. Unforgivable. Inconceivable.

And, they were never going to change anyway, so what did it matter if I liked them or not?!

Sure, I hurt them too… but by golly, I had a right to at this point.

Do you see the problem yet?

I couldn’t be fully 100% focused on myself, and extend mercy, grace, forgiveness and understanding at the same time.

I was selfish.

I wanted my wounds tended to and then I’d take complete ownership and offer a sincere apology for what I’d done too.

I was sorry…. I never didn’t acknowledge that I played a part, but I couldn’t take my eyes off myself and my wounds long enough to care long term.  I wouldn’t let myself scar.  I kept letting the wounds be ripped open again and again and again, and then I had to tend to my own hurts and diminish the hurts of the others.

This was a common cycle in ALL of my relationships.

I was guilty of the same behavior with my husband. And some other much older friends too.

God was doing some things in the hearts of the other people at the same time that He was doing an overhaul in mine.

But it wasn’t until I took my eyes off myself, and looked at everything, EVERYTHING from their point of view that I saw a different story.

What had I really done?  Did I have the permission to tell them what really hurt them and what didn’t?  Did I have the right to expect the things I’d done to be quickly overlooked and forgiven while not extending the same grace?

HAD I ASKED GOD TO FORGIVE ME OF SOMETHING FAR WORSE THAN ANYTHING THEY HAD DONE TO ME, BUT WAS THEN REFUSING TO FORGIVE THEIR SINS???

Had I really become the man from the parable in the Bible? (Matthew 18:23-35)

I had.

I felt compassion.  I felt an understanding.  I felt remorse. I saw my sin.  I saw my failures.  I saw the hurt I caused.

(That DOESN’T MEAN I was giving justification to their choices, but it means, I was repenting of mine!)

Then came a real, (A REAL!) apology.

I’m sorry I did……..(this and this and this and this, in my case)………. please forgive me…… I’ve changed so much and I no longer have any desire to repeat those same mistakes again.

I also received sincere apologies and healing started to truly take place.  (I know you can’t control how others respond. I have apologized to some whose heart was too hard to receive it. But I will say, 9 times out of 10, if you truly apologize and love the person deeply, it’s hard to stay mad when someone is being so humble and honest.)

The immoveable mountain, moved.

Without God breaking my heart for His beloved children, I would have remained frozen forever.

What thawed the freeze in that silly movie?  LOVE.

Bingo.

When you LOVE God with all your heart, you LOVE who HE LOVES.  And He loves His children.  Even the mean ones. 🙂

Would you believe after 10 years of total brokenness, and 2 years of healing… I recently had a visit with this friend and we let our kids spend the night together?

No anxiety.  No bitterness.  No past tension.

Biblical forgiveness is miraculous.  It is unlike anything the world can teach.  It’s complete, lacking nothing.  It’s freedom.  It’s beautiful.

Practical Application:

Who do you still have on the hook to pay you back something they can never pay back?

Who do you still want to get what’s coming to them?

Who do you still get bitter feelings about when their name is mentioned?

Who do you still feel the desire to warn others about or share your side of the story first about?

If we’re about to celebrate Jesus walking that road, carrying that cross, being nailed to it, and taking on your sins….. is it time to let Him be the payment for their sins too?

Is it time to let it go???