Tag Archives: love for people

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?

Don’t wrong us.

14 May

Oh friends — I’m so, so busy this time of year.

BASEBALL season is upon us.  And this year, I have TWO boys playing in SEPARATE leagues.  We are running to practice and games 5 or 6 days a week.  We eat supper either at 4:30, or have a snack at 4:30 and munch at the games and eat again at 8:30 -9:00 when we roll back in the house.  It’s chaos most nights… but we’re all making the most of it and adjusting the best we can.

Every year something happens to me when I watch my son(s) play baseball.  I feel like that gentle and quiet spirit I try so hard to cultivate all year long… it leaves me.

Not only do I get excited about the game and love cheering for my boys, I somehow start to take the game personally.

I feel frustrated when our boys mess up, only because I know their talent and I feel their own frustration when their bodies seem to fail them in the moment.

But more than that, I get incredibly worked up when the coaches of my boys’ teams and the coaches of the other teams behave in a manner that degrades the children, the lessons being taught, or the game.

This week, my son (in the 7 & 8 year old league) played a team who beat them 19-0 in 4 innings.

Mind you, in our town… they go from t-ball to 7 & 8 league so this is their very first year of playing the game with real rules.  They are learning that there are three outs, the difference between forced outs and tagged outs, how to make good throws and catch the ball, and how to run the bases. Everything is new!

This other team decided that if our team dropped the ball or had a bad throw, instead of taking advantage of one extra base, they ran 2 or 3 extra bases every time – including sending kids home to run up the score.

When our 7 year olds were batting, they had their infielders move all the way in so they were almost all playing around the pitcher’s mound so if our kids did hit the ball, there was no way they could actually get on base.

And it’s coach pitch, but their coach would pitch but then stand in the middle of the field so our kids had to try to see and play around him, instead of running out of the way once the ball was hit and let the kids play the game.

I won’t even mention the foul ball that they called fair, the kid they let score while their coach was holding the ball, or the way their fans cheered like this was all appropriate and spectacular.

I was mumbling under my breath, texting a friend, and biting a hole in my tongue.

I wanted so much to say something.  How dare they?  Don’t they see how wrong they are?  Don’t they care that they are degrading and hurting our kids?  Don’t they feel any sense of moral responsibility to teach all kids to play the game when they are 7 & 8 years old?  Do they really think they deserve cheers and a pat on the back for their behavior?

And then I thought long and hard the whole next day about my personal anger.

A huge part of me wants to call it righteous anger and justify anything I do with that anger.

And yet… I’m thinking about some other applications.

Am I this moved over true righteous anger?  Do I defend Christ like I defend my son’s baseball team?

 

Or …. more than that…..

 

Am I this angry over my own sins?

Do I ask myself the tough questions? ….  Am I as mad at myself when I let pride lead my actions as I am at others?

What would I answer if I repeated this same confrontation to myself:  “How dare I?  Don’t I see how wrong I am?  Don’t I care that I am degrading and hurting our kids?  Don’t I feel any sense of moral responsibility to teach all kids? Do I really think I deserve cheers and a pat on the back for my behavior?”

Practical Application:

What really do I have to say for myself?

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 🙂

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?

 

Little Reminders.

27 Mar

I’ve been doing pretty well since my total broken melt down last Friday.

I have mourned deeply, but been very purposeful about not wallowing or being the victim and intentionally LETTING and ACCEPTING my husband’s forgiveness.

The best thing we can do when forgiven, is forgive someone else.  It’s a true sign of maturity that those who know they’ve been forgiven of much, forgive much in others.

Which is why I purposely posted about forgiving the unforgivable in my life with my follow up post.

I have been forgiven without condition and I have learned to forgive without condition.

But.

There is ONE little (GINORMOUS) problem in moving forward. Try as we might escape him, Satan and his demons are always roaming the earth looking for someone to devour.  It comes in the subtle whispers, or even often loud pressing thoughts in our mind, that say “remember.”

Some times it’s simply what seems to be out of nowhere.  You’re going about your day and this person crosses your mind, and while thinking about something pleasant, all the sudden, a memory of a past hurt scrolls through your mind.  “Remember when they …..  don’t you remember how that made you feel?”

Some times it’s in a current gesture that tempts you to take it the wrong way.  “When she said ‘this’, was she really meaning ‘this’ like she use to say and do to me?”

Some times it’s in the actual memories of someone else. Like for me last night! We’re in the middle of talking, cuddling, being romantic… and we are casually talking about when we were first dating and teasingly a memory comes out of his mouth.  And it felt like a brick was thrown at my face.  Not because of anything he did, but in the reality that absolutely he’s forgiven me, but he’ll never forget.  It’s a fact. Part of history.  Can never be erased. (Satan wanted nothing more than to destroy that moment of intimacy and push us apart. **Women, be warned, some of the worst temptations often come while trying to be intimate or while having sex with your husband.  Satan’s greatest pleasure is to destroy the marriage bed.)

Some times it’s in the words of someone else.  “So & so told me blank is going on with them right now.”  What?  How did I not know this?  Are things not as reconciled as I thought they were? Did they really not mean it that they forgave me?

 

We can purposefully allow our minds to think about past situations, but sometimes it seems to spring on us without any thought at all. So what do we do with that?

Well, we have to make a choice before it happens.  You can make a choice while it’s happening, but it won’t be nearly as easy to do.  Walking the narrow road takes premeditated thought, and practice.  Just like when I talked about training for trusting your husband.

Here’s the two options:

1.) Dwell on these thoughts, doubt, struggle, weep all over again, pick back up offenses and lock myself back up in a prison.

2.) Decide that memories are a beautiful reminder of how far God has brought me. Rejoice.  Be thankful for the one thought, as an opportunity to worship God, and then wrap my heart up in praise instead of entertaining a conversation with Satan who longs to use my past to destroy my future.

Simple? I’d never say that.

Life changing? ABSOLUTELY!!

If Christianity were easy, there wouldn’t be a narrow road.  We’re not looking for easy here.  We’re looking for possible.  We’re looking for God’s power to come in us and enable us to do the unthinkable.

As my husband always says “Those who forget their past are doomed to repeat it.”  God doesn’t remove consequences or memories because they serve as security gates for us to remember the danger of walking without Him or making choices that separate us from Him.

If we forgot how much we hurt someone, we might easily hurt them again in the same way…. or at the very least, take them for granted.

If we forgot how much we’ve been hurt by someone and how God has empowered us to forgive them, we might easily cut ourselves off from everyone who has ever hurt us isolating us in a prison we don’t even realize we’re in.  Bitterness takes a root so deep that is changes our ability to truly love God or anyone else because hate and love cannot co-exist…we can’t curse and praise at the same time.

Learning to forgive is freedom.  Remembering the power in us to forgive is a refining tool to becoming more and more like Christ.

Learning to be forgiven is freedom.  Remembering the grace and mercy extended to us is a tool to seeing in the flesh a glimpse of what Jesus did for us on the cross for ALL of our sins and draws us closer and closer to him.

Both are needed in this life.

Satan may long to use this against us…. but we don’t have to let him.

We were made to be warriors.  We were told to put on our armor. We were commanded to go out into the world making disciples.

Want to be ready for Satan’s attacks?

Practical Application:

Make a choice right now that reminders of the past are just reminders to rejoice.

Train for attacks.  Be in the Word every day, Pray, and prepare for temptations (EXPECT them), so you’re never caught off guard.

 

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???