Meekness is Not Weakness

meekness

Matthew 5:5 says: Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. The definition of meek is “quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive.”  These are all wonderful and endearing character traits. As wives, we are called to be a gentle quiet spirit and submissive to our husbands. This makes it very hard to know when and HOW to stand up for ourselves properly and respectfully in a God pleasing way.

2 Timothy 1:7 says For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline. Amen! This tells me that the Holy Spirit will speak to us and give us the words and strength to stand up, speak up, and make necessary changes. He has done this for me and I pray He continues to. Do not mistake meekness, kindness, or humility for weakness. It takes a lot more strength to respond with these virtues in certain situations than it does to retaliate in anger and hostility. We are not called to be doormats, but we are called to demonstrate self control. It’s a delicate balance.

When we do stand up, the relationship may end. We may get rejected. We may even get blamed. But, when we wonder what decisions to make, it helps immensely to ask ourselves what decision we would want our children to make if they were in the same situation.  We would never want them to be walked on, disrespected, or used. They are much too valuable! They deserve better! Well, so do we. God sees us the same way, we are His children. His spirit WILL give us the wisdom, power, and words to stand up when necessary and there are times when it IS necessary.

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That She’s Happy!

happy

Today was such a beautiful spring day that I took my girls for a roll around the neighborhood in their little red wagon when I got home from work. Just strolling along and chatting…good times. I threw out a question that I don’t think I’ve ever asked before….”Abby, what’s your favorite thing about Elle?” She thought for a few seconds and responded “that she’s cute?” I laughed because she does comment on her cute face a lot. I threw the question out to Elle. “What’s your favorite thing about Abby?” Elle thought a little longer and came back with “that she’s crazy!” Another great answer, that’s about right! After a couple minutes more of rolling down the sidewalk, I swallowed hard and asked “what’s your favorite thing about Mommy?” admittedly nervous about what their answers may be. Without a second to spare little Elle chimed in “that’s she’s happy!” What a blessing!! Her answer made me so happy.

Our kids bring us immeasurable joy. But, I wondered if they may view me as more tired, stressed, worried, nervous, or rushed than happy. Thank God she sees me happy! The truth is we have so much to be grateful for and so much to be happy about. It got me thinking, when I’m gone how would I want my kids to remember me? The answer is happy. Her answer warmed my heart and soul today. I’m so thankful for God’s graces in mommy world. His graces and my girls make me happy!

The Cards We Carry

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I’ve been a card-carrying people lover my whole life. I’ve had teachers and other adults in my life tell me that if there was a new student in school or someone who looked like they were having a bad day, I would be the first to befriend them or try to cheer them up. I really do love people. It pangs me to see them hurt, sad, alone, or scared. All good things! But, with people loving comes the major struggle of people pleasing. Pleasing other people is wonderful UNTIL we need to stand up for ourselves. This is where the rubber hits the road. There’s a big difference between being a people lover and a people pleaser. People love to be pleased, but that’s not always healthy for either party.

I realize now that I have also been a card-carrying member of the codependance club. By the grace of God alone, I am healing and growing. I still backslide, but I KNOW where my help comes from. My help comes from The Lord. Codependance is the perfect breeding ground for abusive and toxic relationships. We “make peace” by rolling over and letting the other person have their way. BUT, what if their behavior is not appropriate? What if they are not showing love or respect and we continue to roll? What I have learned is that allowing bad behavior to continue in order to “make peace” is not truly keeping the peace at all. Being a true peacemaker is being at peace with God, others, AND ourselves. Allowing mistreatment to continue is not making true peace with any of these three.

We need to love ourselves enough as children of the Living God to stand up for ourselves and others in HIS strength.  This is SO hard for a people pleaser! It’s like battling any other addiction. What makes it SO difficult is that we LOVE people and we want to get along so badly that we fear standing up for ourselves will lead to being rejected, the loss of the relationship, and/or being blamed for the conflict or the loss. Can’t we ALL just get along?? The answer is nope, not always. We are not called to agree with everyone, but we are called to be mindful of how we disagree.

We can’t control all the cards we are dealt in life, but we can ask God to replace the cards we tend to carry around and how to deal with the ones we are dealt.

When Love is What You Don’t Do

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To quote Forest Gump, “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.” I feel like I’m in the same boat in discovering and sharing what healthy love is and what it is not. These actions do not equal love and respect even if they say they love you:

Love is when you….

  • Don’t ridicule or criticize their efforts
  • Don’t use the person for your own personal gratification
  • Don’t lie or cheat
  • Don’t belittle a person’s values or opinions
  • Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not
  • Don’t prevent or discourage growth in a person
  • Don’t intentionally hurt someone physically, mentally, or emotionally
  • Don’t expect your needs to be met without concern for the other’s needs
  • Don’t dismiss their ideas or feelings
  • Don’t shame or call names
  • Don’t withhold or withdraw from a person without explanation
  • Don’t isolate the person
  • Don’t minimize their problems or fears

Just a few that come to mind….

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.  1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)

Jesus is the ultimate example. Love is not easy and love will get messy, just look at the cross.  Love will take work, grace, and forgiveness. We will never get it perfect in our humanness, I know I haven’t. But, we can pray and ask Him to help us love in a way that pleases Him. We can ask forgiveness when we fail, and give it another shot. With Christ ALL things are possible. When our love tanks get low, refuel with the unfailing love of God and DON’T give up! If the love we offer is not received and/or returned, let them go. Letting them go is showing love for yourself and that is also VERY important. We can’t make someone love us but we are all worthy of love. Love never fails. DON’T forget that!

Which Language Do You Speak?

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There’s a very well known book by Gary Chapman called “The Five Love Languages”. Great read! The five languages are as follow:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch
  • Acts of service
  • Gifts

If you’re like me, they are all wonderful! Where can I get more of all of the above please? They are all important in showing love. But, usually, there are a couple that stick out to us personally. If you’re married, ask your spouse what their love language is and do a lot of it. Love is sacrifice and it’s when you don’t feel like it and do it anyway, that you are showing true sacrificial love. Putting the other person’s needs before your own is sacrifice.

In a perfect world we would all marry a mate with the same exact love language as us, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to work that way. Opposites do attract and what we do in the beginning starts to fizzle out in time. When we are dating, the acts of love are flying off the shelf. It just comes naturally to do all of these when we are infatuated and hoping to impress a possible suitor. We seem to get it all, but it’s what we get AND give in the long run that counts.

If you are dating and considering marriage, it would be a great idea to find out what that person’s love language is and be honest with yourself and the other person if it’s not something you can see yourself dishing out a lot of. If they love physical affection and you’re not big on it, it may cause a problem down the road. If they are super picky about how the house is cleaned and acts of service is their language, watch out.  There’s nothing wrong with someone’s love language if it’s different than yours, it’s just part of what makes them tick, but be aware of what you’re getting into.

We tend to speak the love language that we most desire to receive. Your attempts to show love may fall on deaf ears if they don’t speak your primary language. It takes a conscious effort to think about what would show the other person we love them instead of giving them what we want for ourselves in return.

Learning someone’s love language is not just important in romantic relationships, but our kids, friends, and parents have them too. Love is not just a feeling, it’s an action. It’s something we DO for another. My primary love languages are time and touch. What’s yours? Investigate and try it out. Show someone some love today!

Embrace Grace

grace

Extending grace and forgiveness to others can be extremely difficult when we feel rejected, misunderstood, or offended. As tough as that is, I admit I sometimes have an even harder time extending it to myself. When I lose my patience with my girls, say something I wish I hadn’t, refrain from saying something that I should have, or just plain drop the ball, the most important thing I need to do is embrace grace.

The devil loves to watch us squirm in guilt for our behavior. Broken records of criticisms in our pasts can wreak havoc on our minds if we don’t remember to embrace grace. I was raised in the church, but embracing grace is a relatively new concept for me. It helps me breathe easier whenever I remember to do it. It takes an enormous amount of pressure off when we remember that God knows our flaws and weaknesses and loves us anyway. That’s grace.

We are finishing up a women’s Bible study called “Believing God” by Beth Moore. There’s a five statement pledge in this study that we repeat together every week. 1) God is who He says He is, 2) God can do what He says He can do, 3) I am who God says I am. 4) I can do all things through Christ, 5) God’s word is alive and active in me. All so awesome! I love each and every one of them and if we TRULY believe them all we are well on our way to victory. But, I can say, the one we agreed is the toughest to believe is #3. I AM who God says I am. As women, we just feel like we fall short. We struggle with this one, I know I do. Maybe because we were told differently growing up, treated less than, let down, put down, used, whatever the reason….the devil loves to prey on us and our sense of worth. Bottom line is: God says we are worth dying for and He did just that.

If anyone makes you feel inferior, criticizes your personality, strengths, or weaknesses, they are not viewing you as God does. We are who God says we are and that is a beautiful thing. Not one of us is perfect, but we are all loved by a God who is. If He can lavish us with His perfect grace, we need to remember to give ourselves a drop or two when we stumble. Let’s see ourselves and each other as He does, children worth dying for.

But Why?

question

The ultimate question when things go wrong…….but why? I have my fair share of the same question. There are so many whys in this world. Why did she get sick? Why didn’t I get that job? Why didn’t he love me? Why didn’t God save my marriage? Why didn’t that relationship work? Why did a tornado hit that neighborhood? Why did it hit mine? Why does that person have a problem with me? Why did that child have to die? Why???

These questions will boggle our minds and test our faith. They can make us turn TO God for comfort and refuge or AWAY from Him in anger and disgust. Consider the story of Job in the Bible. God allowed him to be tested above and beyond what most of us have ever had to experience. Job was a Godly man with a blessed and happy life. He was a better person than most of us and the Lord allowed him to be tested more than most of us. First, his livestock died therefore his income was gone, then his children died (all of them), then his body was covered in painful sores, then his wife and his friends turned on him in disgrace, and he was left to wonder WHY Lord?? His story will leave us scratching our heads as well. What on earth did he do to deserve this? Why on earth would God allow that? How much can one person take? It’s just not fair!

I love God’s response to Job’s questions: “Job, have you ever walked on the ocean floor? How large is the earth? Who carves out a path for thunderstorms? Do you control the stars or set in place the Big Dipper? When lions are hungry, do you help them hunt? Can you count the clouds or pour out their water on the soil?” These questions are all from Job 38 (CEV). Wow! I mean, touché.

These answers may come off as insensitive when we are grieving and craving only comfort and need relief. The truth lies in the fact that an explanation won’t comfort us, only the presence and love of  God will. Some of the questions we want so badly to know the answers to may actually cause us more pain. Do you REALLY want to know why he or she doesn’t love you? Do you REALLY want to know all the details? I mean….ouch. The pain is already bad enough. Take the pain and turn it over to a God who loves you unconditionally. Ask Him to carry it because it is just too heavy and hurts too much. When our hearts are broken, He wants in so badly.

I believe one of the ways God loves us in a crisis situation is by sheltering us from some of these answers. Instead of demanding answers, maybe we should ask different questions.  Questions like: How do I forgive him for that? How can I show her love when she treats me that way? How do I stand up to him the way You want me to? How do I respond to that? What do I do with this broken heart? How do I deal with this anger? What do I do with this pain? How do I move forward from this? I believe His response to these questions is always positive. First, He’s thankful we are turning TO Him no matter the reason. Second, He wants us to be honest with Him and get real. Tell Him how much it hurts and tell Him why. This is how a relationship is formed. Yes, He already knows, but He wants us to come to Him about it. He wants to have dialogue, even if it’s messy and angry. Any communication is better than none.

Questions and pain are something we all have in common. How we deal with them is what sets us apart. We need to make peace with the fact that only God may know why and that’s for the best right now. And, we need to RUN to His arms when we are hurt. Don’t run the other direction. Let Him hold you and comfort you when the pain runs deep.

When our children get hurt, they naturally crawl, limp, run, or cry out to us for help. We should be just as inclined to cry out to Him when we are hurt. Sometimes the pain is our fault, sometimes it’s an accident, sometimes it’s inflicted by someone else, and sometimes we’ll never get our answer this side of Heaven. What matters most is that we turn TO our Heavenly Father when it hurts. This will not only heal our hearts sooner but it will also prevent us from hurting others in the process.