Last night, I had the most wonderful time having dinner, talking, then just listening to a dear friend. I learned so much about her, things I never would have guessed! It’s even easier to see why she is such a beautiful, loving, sincerely kind woman of God.
As is the usual case with me, it’s also hard to not also see that deep contrast between her life and my own.
Again I come face-to-face with why I have often felt a type of rejection from some I’ve hoped to get to know. I’m no Miss Congeniality or Miss Anything.
Often in my lifetime I’ve been left feeling as though I’m not worth people’s time. Some of that is cultural, sure. Some of it is personality-clash. I can be abrasive. I’ve even been described as a “bull in a China shop”.
There aren’t many “boxes” I allow myself to be put in. I tend to fail under heavy-handed expectations. I am as God designed me, also molded from my unique life experiences, which also at times have borne the weight of heavy-handed expectations.
I have learned that not everyone is alike, not everyone does things the same, or reacts to expectation the same way.
I probably will never meet any human’s expectation.
I can only try to meet God’s. And, I fail… All. The. Time.
One of the toughest things to put into practice is listening when it feels like you are not heard by others– that’s where my reaction of defensiveness tries to overtake me.
My life is full of many amazing, even some miraculous testimonies of God’s work.
It’s easy to focus on things that happened because God was not in the circumstances. It’s best to focus on contrasts caused by God’s healing, intervention, love, kindness, miracles and His Mercy.
While the contrast between our lives is somewhat vast, my friend and I have one very important thing that is similar– the knowledge of Who God Is in contrast to who we are and how amazing it is that He loves us.
Marriage is the most unique relationship between humans. When a man and woman marry, it takes time to learn how to live together. How to agree and disagree. Whether or not to even have children.
Then, if having kids, how to raise them and discipline them. How to encourage them in the midst of parents coming from 2 different perspectives, backgrounds, and maybe even world views.
There are many outside forces to consider. The husband and wife learn they have to set boundaries for outside forces so they can follow the path together that they set out on when they said, “I do”. There are things to compromise on, things to agree on, and times where tongues may or may not be held, when one does things the other doesn’t like.
I learned a lot from my first marriage that failed. I was rejected by a husband who was far from the image he sold me before we married. I was shoved out of the way to make room for another woman. As I struggled with my hurt, I also learned how to become an individual again. I lost “me” completely within that marriage.
When God brought His choice for me into my life, I remembered my previous marriage experience. How bad things were with a man who would have nothing to do with God or church. I realized it would be best to focus on what is right with my second-chance marriage. I chose to not adopt society’s way of focusing on what I see as being wrong, and telling others about my irritations, getting people to be on my side.
We are one flesh. There are no sides.
What I say reflects back on both of us. It points to my character as much as his character.
But although we are one flesh, we are still both individual people. One of the hardest lessons I have gleaned from is: I can’t take his failures personal. Not everything is about me. Sure, his decisions and actions affect me more than any other person besides him. Sure, I am in it with him, and when he makes bad decisions they affect me like they affect him. I am part of the fall-out. My feelings are entangled with his choices. And, no, he doesn’t often remember to think about that.
God gave him to me. To love me, to provide for me, to protect me.
Sometimes I forget: God also gave me to him.
God gave me to him to be his help mate. He may not want my help. He may not recognize what I am trying to do as being helpful.
But, God has given me a mission as his wife: help him.
How am I supposed to help him? The first thing is to let him be the individual God created him to be.
I have to disengage my feelings when he falls off the pedestal I tend to put him on. He is not immune from making sinful decisions. So, how can I help him look to God more? How can I help him be a man of prayer and response, rather than human reactions? How can I help him make decisions best for the whole family, that please God, rather than just decisions for himself?
I need to remind myself at times that God will work out the details for what He sees as faults.
How can I help him be his best for God? Without being manipulative. Without trying to be his Holy Spirit. Without putting my opinion and expectations in place as the standard I try to push on him. How can I just let him be him, treat him with respect and loving-kindness, regardless of what I see as being wrong?
How can I submit to his leadership, in a sense, without losing my own individuality in the process? How can I help him consider my needs and instincts, while balancing myself against things I recognize as not being God’s best for him, us, or our family?
My husband needs me. Whether he acknowledges it or even recognizes it, or not.
He needs me to be encouraging when he feels overwhelmed. He needs me to pray for him. He needs me to help carry his burdens, when possible, and let him handle them his way when I can’t.
He needs me to love and accept him, unconditionally. He needs me to not harden my heart when he doesn’t do things “perfect”, or even when what he does and says hurts me.
The hardest part of being his helpmate is focusing on my mission from God to respect him and be the helpmate God gave me to him to be. Through prayer, fasting, encouraging, silence, sharing Scripture, and being nonjudgmental when he does not do things the way I would.
Individually, we are one flesh. He does not have anyone else like me in his life.
God has given me an important mission on earth. To help one of His children in ways no other person can, with God’s help through my life.
We are 2 individuals that are also one-flesh. Even when my other half messes up, or strays from God. I still have my purpose given to me from the Divine. That does not get cancelled out. If anything, it becomes a more urgent focus.
My feelings and expectations are not the standard I live by. God’s standard is what I am striving to live by.
I can’t just give up and walk away, even if it ever felt like it was killing me.
Jesus didn’t give up and walk away when it was killing Him.
As my soul drinks in this song linked above, some questions come to mind. What will the greater things Jesus said we would do, look like and sound like? Can you even imagine what it will be like for God’s Kingdom to come down to earth?
The first time the human race experienced God’s Kingdom coming to earth, most did not recognize it.
Most weren’t even aware. Only those whose hearts were linked with The Creator of all, knew. Only those who had a relationship with the Living God appreciated what God had given to all humanity. Only those who studied the prophecies of the coming Messiah recognized Him and loved Him.
What does it look and sound like when God’s Kingdom touches earth? Have we ever experienced even a taste of that? I think it looks like Praising and Worshiping in one accord. I think it’s supernatural abilities of demonstrating kindness, love, and forgiveness. Like those times when we are aware of God’s heart for other people, and we seek Him on behalf of them. Or, when telling the truth, even in the hardest of situations, becomes more important than saving face or being right. When the needs of others being met overshadows our worries and fears about our own needs being met, and those who are hurting can rely on those who have hurt in similar way to walk with them, listen and pray for them. That’s what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like, to me.
We look like and act like Jesus.
What will His return look like? What will it sound like?
We know from Scripture, there will be a trumpet sounded from Heaven. Will everyone be able to hear it, or just those who have been called and chosen by Him? Will there be a rushing sound as there was when the Holy Spirit first was released? Will there be a choir of Angels singing His Praise as He rushes to the aid of His people being persecuted, or about to be persecuted?
He IS returning. Signs He mentioned tell me that it will be soon, and most of us will not even realize it… I pray we do everything we can to make ourselves ready and aware of His return. That we all don’t remain complacent, burdened and buried by the concerns of this life, which tug at our hearts and minds, draining our energy, warring with our focus. That we don’t get, or remain, so consumed in all the things we say we are doing for Him, that we don’t pay attention to Him. That we will be ready for Him. Would we be ready if He returned tonight?
What do you think will greater things look and sound like?
1Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (NASB)
I have a jumble of thoughts built up. Hopefully I can get them all out and place them in good order.
I’m thinking about God’s continuous cycle of revealing and healing. He shows us something about ourselves or our past that we haven’t seen through His understanding, He illuminates it, then He begins the process of healing.
The thing about God’s way of healing: it’s not always our way. We don’t even understand that that’s what He is up to, sometimes.
A root biggie in my life is enveloped by the Scripture I shared. To be known. A branch off of that would be to be seen, and another branch would be to be heard. The fruit that I want to grow on this particular crop in my life is: to be valued.
This probably shapes pretty much every thought, action, and even inaction I do, all the time.
There are so many things we place value on concerning people. What they do (job, talent, skill), what they say, where they have been. We value degrees, titles, clothing, monetary worth, status, and career choices.
I think we often forget to place value on the most valuable part of a person: them.
When my husband and I discipline our children, we often remind them that it’s the dangerous, unacceptable, or just all around bad behavior we are wanting them to change and correct, not them as individuals. Their worth is not tied into behaving perfectly. No matter what, we will love them, they will always be our child, though their choice in behavior may disappoint and frustrate us. Their behavior does not define them.
God defines them. He began the definition of each one of us as He knit us in our mother’s womb.
There are roots in my history that have become tied to how I perceive being valued. My parents weren’t the sort to hold conversations with me, or listen to what I had to say. They were focused on their own lives for various reasons, and the very best thing I could ever do was try to just stay out of their way as much as possible.
There were times I ran away, and they didn’t even know I wasn’t there. There were times I ran away, and they did know I wasn’t there, but I never heard a conversation about how I might have been in danger, or how I had or would be missed. I heard about how it made things look, or how things weren’t so bad for me, or how next time they’d put me in Juvie. I had no self worth, because I never saw my parents reflect that back to me. Except when I did something that reflected on them in a good way, like doing well at a concert. My worth became tied into playing my violin well.
I remember times when I shard things with my mom that seemed super important to me, things I didn’t have anyone else to share them with, and she would roll her eyes, sigh irritatedly, and tell me how stupid it was, or something to that effect. She still does that, and it still tries to affect my perception of my worth.
I feel like I was robbed of a healthy mom-daughter relationship. Because of that, I purposely go out of my way to tell my kids how important they are to me. I don’t ever want them to believe they are not valued just for who they are, because I know what that feels like. (Of course, a clean room would also give an added pleasant bonus…)
I think that’s why God carefully took me under the shelter of His wings when I was pretty young. I always remember His being there, going out of His way to give me something I needed to help me want to carry on. He made me aware of a deeper purpose that He has given to me, deeper than any person ever could. He reflected my own heart back to me when I was heart-broken at trying to help a friend who tried to commit suicide, then told me they never wanted to speak to me again. He fixed that, and He worked, and I didn’t have to lose that friend to suicide or hatred. He made Himself known to me before I knew myself at all. He showed Himself to be real. Nothing can ever convince me God is not real, because He simply IS. There is no unbelief that is more powerful than God’s reality. It doesn’t take much to find Him, either. One just has to sincerely want to know Him for themselves.
God is at work healing some pretty deep hurts in my life. After all the healing and work He has done, sometimes it’s tempting to want to ask Him, “Are You ever going to be finished in me?”
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
I do know that answer: Yes. When Jesus returns.
Anyway, I got the jumble of thoughts out, and here I am at the end of this blog entry. You’ve now had a glimpse into my head, heart and life. I hope something good will come out of that for you.
Thanks for reading.
I have noticed that women within the Church are sometimes, many times even, deficient in living water because of a lack of Spiritually fulfilling resources. Especially single women, divorced women, and widowed women. As a teenager I experienced this firsthand, and then later as a divorced adult. Maybe that’s why I feel sensitive to it even now.
This deficiency in the living water, it’s not from a lack of interaction with God, or even a failure to be filled by God’s Holy Spirit. Not at all, not all of the time. In fact, it’s easier to spend time with God in those instances of a woman’s life, because her heart isn’t so divided, her attention isn’t so fractured and distracted, or demanded.
Then, what do I think it’s caused from, some may ask?
God created women with an ingrained designed need for fellowship, a meeting of the heart and mind, a desire to be heard and cherished. That need becomes deprived when women are separated from healthy interactions. That’s why the devil has worked overtime in the Middle Eastern and Asian cultures, because he has been at war with women through the men in their lives, creating an environment where they cannot thrive well, cannot grow to their full potential without the proper nurturing, cherishing ,valuing of them, or the allowance of them to reach their full potential as healthy individuals. The devil has waged a full on war against women, with very little opposition. Because those outside of that particular part of the war have been hesitant to “interfere” (really it’s hesitant to help, withholding the needed love and compassion from them to reach out and help them rise up above this twisted mindset, effectively putting Satan under their feet), it has been allowed to continue and just accepted as “That’s just the way it is over there”. The perception that America is “the great satan” is a lie that has effectively been intertwined into cultures where women have become undervalued, abused, neglected and not at all cherished as God has created them to be. Satan lives, thrives within that mindset, not within any specific nation.
In our Western Christian mindset, there are denominations who also do not value women or allow them to become all God intends for them to be. In the church mindset (and, not every church, not every church in any one denomination, and not any one denomination overall), women are limited in the roles they can serve in. Why is this? Different interpretations and applications of Scripture create specific “doctrines” that lock churches into mindsets that are not always accurately Scriptural-based. In Galatians 3:28 it specifically states “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
So, often, there is a distance already placed and understood between single, divorced and widowed women within the church. They aren’t often given the special considerations they need, that God desires for them to have. The fellowship that provides that refreshing living water is not always available for them. It forces a deeper reliance on God, but it also can place a wedge in their heart keeping them from effectively being ministered to. It creates a wall that blocks them from the resources that God desires for them to have.
The Church desperately needs to seek God to begin learning and teaching how to help women in various stages of life, to be helped and encouraged to grow to their full potential. There has to be a culture within the Church of both humble submission to Church leadership and then a healthy trust relationship and covering for women in all stages to reach the full potential that God has placed within their lives and hearts.
We have yet to see many women reach the full potential, but I believe that God wants to supersede that, and make some deep adjustments in mindsets and attitudes.
The well of living water within the Church should always be readily available through fellowship and healthy interactions with others. Then we will experience an even greater outpouring of the living water from Heaven that God will continually pour out upon us all.
If anything scares the devil, it’s the stronghold over women being broken.
When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan women at the well, He broke the strongholds over her life, her mindset, and the mindset of those in her city. He did that by speaking the truth to her, by knowing her, by interacting with her. We can do the same, just by getting to really know the women in our own lives, by listening to their stories, by helping to foster an environment that allows them to reach that full potential God has for them. ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+4&version=NASB )
Christians: we are the Church. It’s not a building that enforces doctrine and teachings, or creates environments. We can make all the difference that God wants us to.
There is a phrase in our society I have heard quite a bit. It’s “victim mentality.” I often hear, “Don’t be a victim.” “You’re not a victim.” There is a growing disdain for those victimized who don’t handle the aftermath the way society thinks they should: Jump back into life like it never happened. Forgive and forget. Act “normal”.
There is a complete phase of victim-hood that seems to get ignored: having been wounded.
Supposedly victims of rape, incest, emotional and mental abuse, and other things are supposed to lick their wounds and fit right in with everyone in society. They are supposed to heal their own wounds, invisible to everyone else so maybe that makes the wounds seem nonexistent or unimportant. If they are a Christian, they should expect that God will heal all their wounds without anyone else, they “just need to trust Him”, “need to have faith”. When it doesn’t work out “perfect”, then the wounded are accused they “don’t have enough faith”. Maybe it’s not the fault of the wounded at all. Maybe the members of their church lack compassion. Biblical compassion.
I don’t expect much from the Godless world, they don’t know any better, but they do actually demonstrate a bit more kindness than we Christians sometimes do. I submit to you that within the Body of Christ , there are times we are wounding our wounded by placing unrealistic expectations on them, sometimes we even neglect their actual need. God created people to need people. So, why is the Church sometimes dismissive of the very real needs the wounded have? Why do we tend to see those wounded as whiners, “needy”, or ridiculous? Where is our compassion?
I don’t see this in every church, or even the one we are part of now, but, over the past three decades, I have seen this many times.
Physical wounds need the help of others to be stopped, repaired and healed. Someone applies pressure to stop the bleeding. Someone rescues someone from the vehicle of an accident. An ambulance takes the “victim” – wounded – to the hospital where an entire team and staff work to save the life, repair the damage and stop the bleeding. Careful instructions are given to the wounded victim, and follow-up appointments are made. Prescriptions and bandages are given.
Shouldn’t the Church be more like a hospital? What one-on-one care is given? Who stops the bleeding of the wounded heart, the mind and emotions? Who applies the healing balm? Who helps with the repairing, and the healing? Who gives the prescriptions of Scriptures, and bandages of prayers and encouraging words? Obviously Christians know the answer is the Holy Spirit. But, who are the willing vessels He works through?
I hope I am.
The last thing that wounded people need to feel is left alone to find their own healing. Church, The Body of Christ, is unique from everything in that we give and we get, as members. It’s when things are unbalanced and the giving is stressed, but the getting can tend to be neglected, or vice-versa, that it becomes dysfunctional. I think there should be a healthy balance of both hospital-like and service for God, but maybe my own expectations are too high. At any rate, I see such a need that my heart aches to help fill. I hope others see it, too.
In the civilian, real world, when you go to the doctor and get told you need surgery, you schedule the date, make the necessary preparations, work things out with your boss and loved ones when you schedule the date, and you go get your surgery done.
In the military, under normal circumstances, you discuss things with your supervisor, fill out necessary paperwork to be sent up your chain of command to be either approved or disapproved, then schedule accordingly. So imagine our frustrated surprise that it’s after 4 p.m. the day before my husband‘s surgery has been scheduled, and his convalescent leave still has not been approved. His Chief is still talking with people, trying to get someone to step up and fill my husband’s shoes, so he can get what he needs done. His commander is risking losing my husband completely, because of the pain he’s in and the screws in one foot can break at any time. I see the pain he is in, and it makes me both very angry that his leadership cares so little about him, and it makes me cry.
So, I’m not a bit afraid to say: fireworks are about to go off. I am going to explode in a fit of frustrated concern on someone who can make a difference. At this point, weighing the consequences: repercussions because his leadership will have no question of who is stirring stuff up, versus my husband’s crippling pain: I think I honestly just don’t even care. Someone needs to be informed of what is happening here. This will be the third time his surgery is being put off, because of “Air Force needs”. Well, the Air Force NEEDS to fix my husband, or they are crippling their own mission.
Ok, now the Christian part of me is kicking in. I have prayed off and on, I have trusted God to help make the way for this to happen. My husband is humble and kind. He puts others before himself. He has put the Air Force before this need for years now, but now it’s their turn to make his well-being the priority. He has given and given, and he can’t keep being the only one to give. His leadership obviously does not have anything of God in them, or they would be listening to the Holy Spirit on the issue. I trust that God is concerned for my husband, and He will provide for all of his needs.
I just wish the Air Force would live up to their end. Things have really gotten rotten in the past 4 years.
Update: As of about 6:45 p.m., our God has indeed come through for my husband!! So very thankful for the Chief God has put in place at this time. She fought all day to get his command to sign the convalescent leave form. He is getting the surgery.
Some battles are worth fighting for both in prayer and in action, we can’t give in and give up the fight, when the need is so great.