Assumptions; You Know…

I get myself in trouble often. I assign subliminal messages to just about everything without even thinking about it. I’ve talked often about throwing out fleece and making my own safety nets, but this makes that look like child’s play. 

If I can convince myself that someone else‘s innocent actions have an alterior motive, that poor unsuspecting person faces the firing squad of my hurt assumption and anger. Why wouldn’t they? They did what I told myself they’d do if they really felt a certain way so… They get to pay for something they probably didn’t even realize they had done in the first place. 

I know.  It doesn’t make sense. It’s not fair. But don’t we do the same thing to the Lord without even realizing it? 

We assume If He loves us He’ll provide _________ (you fill in the blank) to make us comfortable. When we’re not comfortable, happy, or able to comprehend the outcome, we immediately start struggling with His love. As I fill in that blank with my own stipulations, I can hear him whispering: 

“That’s not MY motive.  That’s not what I do to show you love. You’re looking for the wrong thing & listening for everything but the Truth. When you do that, I’ll always be unloving in your eyes. Can I tell you My heart, rather than you assuming you understand it perfectly enough already?” 

 

War-Filled Love Story

The Viet Nam vet hated me to his core. Every morning as I walked through the entry way to man my post at work, he was there. Hot cup of coffee in his hand, leg up on a chair, scowling at anything that dared to move in his presence. 

I’ve only been called names that made me blush out of hurt confusion four times in my life. The words this hurting man hurled at me almost every morning made the titles of Monster & Invalid seem petty. He didn’t even know my name. He never studied my nametag. 

To him, I didn’t need a name. It was much easier to hate me if my smile didn’t come with a name. 

I knew *Dan’s story well enough to know he battled nightmares, night terrors and flashbacks I’d never come close to understanding. I understood he hated my joy because he’d seen things in “‘Nam” that made joy feel like an impossibility.  I don’t think he understood that the harder he hated me, the more vigorous I strove to love him. 

I didn’t understand war, but I knew what it was like to feel as if I wasn’t worth the air I breathed. In an incomprehensible way, I saw myself in his anger. It still wasn’t easy loving him, though. 

I went to church with Dan’s dad. The 92-year-old had Jesus on his mind every single moment of his day. What his son, Dan, lacked in joy, *John doubled 100-fold. One day out of blatant curiosity and youthfulness, I simply asked John what I was supposed to do with Dan. To this day, I have no idea where that boldness came from.  

John didn’t think I was being imposing, though. He smiled a smile that lit up the room, chuckled and said, “Sweetheart, thanks for asking. So many people have stopped trying with Dan. If you can’t love him despite his anger, love him because you love me. You bless me every time you touch him, smile or question him. Just love him because you love me, but also because you love Jesus.”

It was that day in which I learned a reality I’ve never forgotten. Often times, people get hard to love because we’ve stopped loving Christ so deeply we simply can’t help but love his broken creation. 

When loving people gets hard, love Jesus more. 

Leave Me Alone

I smiled at the bright-eyed little boy and mouthed, “hi!” He slowly turned toward his mom, still studying me. His mom smiled reassuringly when he finally glanced at her. He then glanced at me, smiled a nearly toothless grin and waved.

Little kids are born with an innate need to look to their guardian for assurance. It’s this skill that teaches them everything. It’s a bit awe-inspiring, really. Admit it, watching an 8-month-old try to mimic your mouth as you talk is fascinating. Watching a kid show off talent like a summersault and then immediately look for approval does something to a person’s heart.

Somewhere along the line, kids stop looking at us as much. They gain confidence in how to walk, talk, and learn new things. It’s bittersweet that first time we hear, “No. Me do.” Whether they really can do it doesn’t matter in their minds. Our helpful hands get pushed away with as much strength as their little bodies can muster.

What if we didn’t treat our relationship with God in the same way? What if, no matter how good we got at life, we never pushed God’s hand away? Even though our relationship with with God is often described and portrayed like a child, father relationship, distancing ourselves from Him as we grow up is the one thing that shouldn’t be similar.

But it is.

What if we didn’t act as if our one dying need was independence and self-reliance? What if we never acted as if we were too old to look to our Savior as our example and our approval?

Screaming Fixes Nothing

Sometimes, screaming feels as if it’s the only way to handle harsh emotions. I don’t scream often, cuz let’s face facts: When you have hardware running through your vocal chords like I do, screaming hurts. A lot. But when I scream, I scream for all its worth. (Side note: I’ve only used this form of handling stress twice in my entire life) 

Recently, I was handed information about a “family” member that confused my normal, struck fear in my heart and made me angry. As I mentally played all the possible (and impossible) scenarios this information could bring, I felt my heart racing and my mind quite literally stopped working.

My boyfriend soon discovered that I am capable of making him temporarily deaf. Anyone within close proximity to our car probably wondered if I was dying. The reality is, it was so much more than that. 

I was fighting a chance to lean into the sovereignty, protection and wisdom of God- not just talk about them. As tears sprang to my eyes, I heard God whisper, Trust Me, Child. None of this caught Me off guard. Shamefully, my one and only response was an emphatic NO!

So, I screamed. 

As a woman who has been in church since the Sunday after she was conceived, I know the jargon to use in high stress situations. God is sovereign. God is good (and all the time, God is good). God is in control. God knows the future… I’m able to sound convincing. I would never say I don’t believe those things. 

But applying them to everyday situations is something else entirely. Often, I can be found stating those truths about God’s character after I’ve tried acting as if those truths don’t impact my life. What if I lived as if God’s love, sovereignty, protection and wisdom defined my life, rather than, in turn, living as if my life defined those things? 

I lost a chance the other day to be a testament of God’s power in my life. Instead, I used the chance to show my gross lack of true trust in the God I tell people I serve. God’s forgiveness is deep and my loved one’s mercy is impressive, but still…

What if, as a believer in the one and only all-powerful God, I put God’s promises to the test first and then reacted second? 

After the Fire

Originally written for and posted by Women of Grace USA’s blog Released! Though it was published over a year ago, the truth God used in my life to craft this article hit me again this week. My God is the God of redemption and He’s in the business of making beauty out of ashes and therefore making the ashes beautiful. It’s been a season of feeling as if all I have to offer God are ashes of a obviously purposeful flame, yet somehow, He still uses even that.

While living in the woods, four times a year we would cut down dead trees and start a large bonfire. Often, the fire would burn for days. Although it was the most efficient way to take care of our property, there was always a trail of ash in our backyard. 

Our lives as Believers in Christ should be the same way. Matthew 5:14 calls Jesus’ followers “the light of the world.” In Bible times, to be a light did not mean a flip of a switch; it meant a large fire. That fire made and left behind an incredible amount of ash.

No one likes to think about the dirty side of that word picture Jesus provided. Ash isn’t beautiful. Ash isn’t easy to clean up. But the fact is, ash is the remnant of a fire. Ash is the reminder that the fire was lit.

It’s easier to think of the Christian walk when we’re going through a spiritual high. We like it when no one is observing our ash because the flames for God are too distracting to look for ash. But what about the days where God looks for the ash of a dying fire within our hearts in order to rebuild His flame in us again?

God also says that He will make us like new. Sometimes, that means using the ash of a fire we thought was nothing but a memory of the good times; the memorable spiritual highs, so to speak. The ash in our lives is proof that a fire once burned brightly. 

It’s also proof that the Fire can burn again.

Not My Job 

I’m lonely. I need to talk. 

I hate hearing those words. They’re the two phrases that, once upon a time, immediately sent importance and purpose shooting up my spine; now, they send dread. Once upon a time, knowing that a guy was “lonely” meant I could fix something. I wasn’t sure what… but dang it, I was gonna fix it.

Age and experience (all 26 year of it <wink>) has taught me not to respond to inquiries from a man who openly declares his loneliness. It’s no one’s fault and he could very well be only lonely; but still, when I hear that declaration, I immediately look for another man to take over.

Here’s the problem: Outside my Christian-Bubble College surroundings, it feels impossible to find another man who is willing to step up to take care of a hurting/lonely brother. I get it. Women are busybodies (we really are) and men are ADD (sometimes). 

This is an incredibly vague plea to men who call themselves Believers in Jesus Christ. Step up for the men who are hurting. Though you may be able to turn the concern for a hurting brother off, it’s much harder for the women in your life to do the same. If you don’t take initiative, we will. Don’t make us do that. Let us lean on your ability to support each other. 

Multiple times I have found myself being confided in by a man over a situation that was none of my business. I found myself thrust into the confidence of a man over sexual, emotional and mental issues I still struggle with comprehending. Though God gave me the chance to walk away each time, it still bothered me. During my conversations with these  men, often times, older gentlemen walked within earshot, gave me an uncomfortable look and walked away.

Men, you do hundreds of things which I admire, cherish and adore. As a sister in Christ, though, I’m asking you to support each other more deeply in order to protect the hearts of the women in your lives. We need you to work us out of the job of supporting men we were never called to support in the first place.