The Love We Crave

 

mercy

The love we crave is merciful. The love we crave is consistent, compassionate. The love we crave is unconditional, accepting, understanding. This is the kind of love we crave in all our relationships. Whether our parent, coworker, classmate, friend, or spouse is a Christian or not, we all crave this kind of love. Because, it’s respectful. It’s kind. It’s real.

If you’ve been raised or surrounded by the alternative (critical, rude, exclusive, controlling, demanding, or apathetic) you may not realize that you weren’t witnessing real love. If you’ve respected and loved someone with these characteristics, you’ll think you deserved the behavior because you loved the person dishing it out. You’ll find yourself drawn towards people like it because you think it’s love. If it’s all you’ve known, it’s all you know. Until someone polar opposite comes along and shows you or Jesus grabs a hold of your heart and shows Himself, your perspective is skewed.

Truth is, the character of Christ is where you find what true love is.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)

If a person is not patient or kind, don’t blame yourself. If a person is rude, guard your heart. If a person is controlling or demeaning, protect yourself. And, I’ll be the first to admit, this person has been me. When I act this way it is because I’m feeling depleted of love, tired, angry, over it. I’m needing refueled. I’m feeling unappreciated, unhappy, unloved. Many people who act this way, don’t realize this is the case. They don’t want to talk it out. They don’t want to be friends. They don’t want to share or trust. They just want to be left alone. If this is someone you love, respect, and admire, this is extra hard. Especially as daughters, if it is our dad, we crave this so much that we may inadvertently date and marry guys with similar characteristics in hopes of breaking a barrier that shouldn’t have to be broken in the first place. Trying to earn their love, approval, compassion.

Learn what love is and what love is not. Learn from Jesus. Watch their fruit. Pay attention to how they treat others. Be forgiving and merciful yourself. Most people are doing the best they know to do on any given day. Try to be a friend/coworker/sister/mom/spouse who displays this kind of love. How else will your children learn if they don’t see it for themselves? You can find that answer in the last sentence of paragraph two.

Perfect love does not come from our human relationships because we are all imperfect. But, by leaning into and immersing ourselves in the perfect love of God, we can have healthier, closer, and more genuine relationships with each other. Real love opens the gates of mercy, honesty, understanding, forgiveness, grace, and endurance.

The ultimate love we crave comes from Jesus who bled and died for us. Jesus, who when asked, loves to give love advice and has. Read about Him and how he treated others. All races, all sins, all diseases, all professions, all intellects. All social classes. He loved them all. And, He still does.

His love is why I write. His love is how we give and receive the love we crave to and from each other. His love is how we love ourselves properly. His love is why we’re here today. His love is why we’ll be in heaven forever. His love has been there all along. His love is the love we crave.

What exactly is Godly?

godly

I say I want Godly friendships, a Godly relationship, to be a Godly mother/wife/woman….but, what exactly does that mean? I am consistently reminded that I fall short of “Godly” myself. So, how can I have a Godly relationship when the other half of that relationship is me? I’m starting to realize that to be Godly is to view others as He does. Admitting our imperfections and accepting others. Fessing up when we mess up and leaning hard on Jesus in our weaknesses.

What is a Godly friendship? Does it mean we’re boring and have no fun? No. What it does mean is that we empathize with each other when we hurt, remind each other Whose we are, share joyous occasions, and laugh over the stuff we all have in common. A Godly friendship is a friendship that is anchored in prayer. Not competition. Not fixing each other. Not condemning each other. But, loving each other exactly as we are and where we are….as Jesus does. Celebrating growth and intimacy…..as Jesus does. Covering each other in grace when we fear judgment is what we deserve……like Jesus does. We should walk in the truth of who we are and remind each other when we forget.

What is a Godly romantic relationship? Does it mean it’s easy? No. Does it mean we won’t struggle with the same issues all relationships encounter? No. Does it mean we never disagree? No. What it means to me is that we view each other as God’s special, bought and paid for, son and daughter. How we view each other is different. This is what makes it Godly to me. Neither of us are like God, but look to God for help on how to love each other through whatever we are facing. Looking to God takes our struggles and rather than hardening our hearts, it softens them towards each other. We can be ourselves with each other. We celebrate the joys and recognize what brings the other happiness or frustration and act accordingly. We care about each other’s hearts.

A Godly relationship leads to a Godly marriage. And, having been through what I’ve been through, I would want nothing short of a husband who views me as God’s prized daughter, even at my worst. A treasure. This is what God intends for marriage. For the bride to be cherished. Knowing I am viewed and loved in this way allows me to be me. Open and honest about what bothers me. Which leads to a much healthier relationship.

What is a Godly mother? Is she perfect? No. Does she still have moments she looks back on and cringes? Yes. Biggest frustration being that she doesn’t know when it will happen again….because she knows it will. I’ve been getting more and more honest with my kids about what hurts, what I need from them, what I’ve been through, when I mess up, about my insurmountable need for Jesus in my life. They know that, to me, He comes first. As much as my heart aches when our relationships are strained, I can pour it out to Jesus and He reminds me who I am to Him. That brings me back to them renewed in my identity, regardless of their actions or reactions. I need that. Our kids can hurt us the most because we love them the most. Lean on Jesus when they do. Let Him love on you and build you up. Then, like we all do, head back in and carry on. It takes a love warrior not to throw the towel in sometimes.

Bottom line is we need to be ourselves. We need to be honest. We can’t be cherished for who we are if we aren’t being our true selves. If you have a friend, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, or sibling who loves you for you, prays for you, and views you as God’s special child, you have a Godly relationship. If you view others this way, pray for them, and point them back to the One who loves them most, you are a Godly person. And, I would love to be in relationship with you, which is another reason I share in this way. To relate, to connect with others who love God.

Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all. James 1:17

We may feel far from perfect, but we can be the perfect friend (gift) for someone who needs to know they are loved for who they are. Jesus wants us to not only know we are special to Him, but to let others know they are too. In our mess, He asks us to look to Him. In our pain, He asks us to cry to Him. In our joy, He delights in our praise to Him. He loves you with an everlasting love. A love like you’ve never known. A love waiting.

You be You

you be you

Do you struggle with feeling like you’re too much or not enough? I sure do. Do I post too much? Do I write too much? Do I share too much? Do I care too much? Then, I think of what Jesus did for me and instead of reassurance, I’ll feel like I don’t do enough. I should share Him more. I should write more. I should reach out more. I should take more pictures. I should share more pictures. I could never care enough. I should visit my friends more. I should love more.

This “not enough/too much” syndrome is a silent peace stealer. It, once again, does all it can to steal our joy, kill our enthusiasm, and destroy our hope. Today, remind yourself who and Whose you are. Be thankful for who God made you to be. Be proud of how far you’ve come. Be grateful for who God has blessed you with. Be amazed by who Jesus is and what He’s done for you. And, rest in His love for you.

Let your joy come from Jesus, a place of unending, unfailing, unchanging love. Soak yourself in it and love others with it. Only when we feel it, can we share it. I’ve come to realize that I may not always feel peaceful, but I can still have peace in the truth that Jesus is with me. He sees me. He knows me. And, He will never leave me. There is peace to this truth. This truth may not always come with a warm fuzzy feeling, but the peace is in the truth. The faith that I have in Him.

When the enemy knocks on the door of your heart and tells you that you are not enough or too much just by being you, shut him down. Know that you are not alone. David struggled too with “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23 and praise Him “because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well“. Psalm 139:14. He may not have felt it, but He knew it.

We don’t always feel the love from those who love us. There are many times I don’t “feel” the love from my kids. Same goes for friends and family, but I trust that it’s there. I KNOW they love me. Sometimes, we just need to know. Same goes with the love of God, there are times I may not feel it and there are times I feel it so strongly that I’m high and euphoric from it. As fabulous as the highs are, the lows are when we need to know it. And, that takes faith. I thank God that mine has strengthened. He is with me in the highs and the lows.

We are all made differently. We have different gifts, preferences, interests, strengths, and weaknesses. We all need a Savior. We all need love. Celebrate with those who love you for you and guard your heart from those who don’t. We are ALL precious in His sight.

 

 

It is Enough

enough

Jesus is our example and He kept the commandments. All of them…..Perfectly. In His heart and with His heart. He shared how hating one’s brother is the same as murdering him in the heart. He taught how lusting is the same as adultery in the heart.

He also kept the seventh-day Sabbath perfectly. As only He could. He often rebuked the Pharisees for their hearts over it. We read about Him doing that more than anything else regarding the Sabbath day.  Their rules took precedence over their heart for God and others. He had multiple issues with inconsistencies and hardened hearts regarding the Sabbath. My own convictions on the Sabbath have been challenged lately. What is ok? What is not? Why or why not?

Ultimately, it comes down to what Jesus asks of us. If your heart leads you to do or not do something out of your love for God, praise His name. I have nothing but respect for people who keep the Sabbath differently than me. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say it has made me question my own convictions and personal relationship with my Creator. The One who created me and the Sabbath. (Genesis 2:3) It has. So much so, that the anxiety led to a three hour prayer session with a friend. Asking for answers. Asking for God’s guidance and direction in this area.

What came of it? Peace that I am in God’s will. Peace that my heart is layed down. Peace that what I’m doing or not doing is enough. And, peace that He will continue to lead me in this area. My soul desire is to please Him. As a child, I was taught to keep certain rules on the Sabbath without the heart or understanding behind it. Only God knows our hearts and why we do what we do.

My heart accepts, honors, and remembers the Sabbath day as holy and God’s special day. I could never please everyone with what I choose to do or not do and that bothers me greatly being the pleaser that I am, so I will rest in the fact that God told me “it is enough”. He knows that I am the type of person that would feel even going the extreme conservative route would never be enough. I could never do enough. I would lose every ounce of rest in my soul trying to please Him with my actions. I just need Him and to rest in His love for me.

Do I think the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord our God? (Exodus 20:9) Yes. Do I think that we should remember it and keep it holy in our hearts? Yes. What does that mean as far as external actions? That is between you and God. Me and God. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:37)

I’m pretty sure we could put twenty Sabbath keepers in a room and there would be twenty different personal convictions on what activities are okay, what’s not, and why. The judgment associated with how it’s kept pangs me deeply. It obviously panged Jesus too.

When I struggle with this I can feel Him ask me the question: “Where is your hope?” “Is your hope in the Sabbath?” “Is your hope in perfection?” “Or, is your hope in Me?”

In my opinion, if we base our relationship with God solely on keeping the Sabbath and how to keep it, a lot gets missed.

What about those who haven’t or don’t? The Christians who go into enemy territory. Just by proclaiming Christ they put their lives at risk and many die. The Christians who’s hearts are all in and willing to prove it. Their motives are pure before God. The truth they want to proclaim with all their heart, mind, and soul is the truth that Jesus died for us and is the Only Way, the Truth, and the Life. They are brave. They are warriors. They give their all for Jesus. Which is what I want to do.

What is more important to you? The truth of the gospel? Or the truth of the Sabbath? I believe both are truth. But, to me personally, the truth that Jesus died for us should come first. Then, when we keep the Sabbath (or any of the commandments) out of love and reverence for the One who died for us, we are keeping it in the “right” way, whatever that may entail. Out of love and because of love. The Love that gave His all to live with us forever.

I would rather my husband remain faithful to me because he loves me, not just because he’s “supposed” to. We can never keep the law perfectly, Jesus pointed that out. Because of our sinful tendencies, we lust, we hate, we dishonor, we all fall short. Thank God for His gracious forgiveness.

Because of His love for me, I WANT to keep all ten commandments in my heart. I live to please Jesus and He says, for me, it’s enough and to rest in Him. I believe that each commandment is given for a purpose, keeps us dependent on the blood of Jesus, and points our lives to God’s will for us. I also believe God searches our hearts. And, wants them most of all.

 

A Different Way to Pray…

pray

Did you know that when Paul was beaten, chained, and imprisoned, that his prayer was not necessarily to be released? His prayer was not “Lord, could You get me out of here?”, or “Could you relieve my pain or bring Your wrath against those who did this to me?” His prayer was that the grace of Jesus Christ would fall on everyone. Everyone. That their love would abound. That all hearts would surrender to the one and only Lord Jesus Christ. That all would feel His affection towards them. That eyes and hearts would be opened to Jesus’s love for them. Everyone.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.  And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:7-11 (NIV)

Paul longed for them. He loved them still. Paul’s eager heart for others convicts me and the type of prayers I’ve been praying lately. If true peace comes from surrendering our hearts and lives to Jesus, shouldn’t that be our prayer? Lord, I really WANT this other stuff, but what I really NEED is to be surrendered to you. And what I really WANT is for those who I love, those who have hurt me, those whom I have hurt, and even those I don’t know to love You too. I can’t make this happen, but I can pray for it. Will you take over my life and do with it as You please? Will you humble me to pray the same for others? Will you invade my loved ones and penetrate their hearts to the point that they can no longer deny Your love for them? That they will feel it just as they are?

Lately my prayers have been revolved around others beliefs versus my own beliefs and finances. Lord, will you forgive me for my attempts to control? I want my prayers to be more like Paul’s. Not for worldly security in whatever form that may be for me. Money, approval, tradition. But, fully surrendered to You. And, for those I pray for to desire the same. That our love for You and each other will abound more and more. That our love for You will be so strong that it changes how we treat each other. That our love will be so strong, that it throws comparison out the window. Irritation and differences out the window. Because when we KNOW that we are fully surrendered to Jesus, that’s all that matters. And, that may look differently for all of us. Let it be, Lord. Let it be.

Jesus taught us how to pray….His example is: In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13 (NKJV)

Teach us to pray Your heart, Jesus. To place our Father’s name and kingdom above all else. For our daily necessities, for forgiveness, for a heart to forgive others, for deliverance from our enemy, and God’s Glory forever. For a pure heart before You. I lay it down.