There is Never an Excuse for Bad Behavior

This is a hard truth I really want to teach my children,  I say it to them.  I try to believe it.  But way too often, I fail to live it.

Because, sometimes we get hurt.  And in our hurt, we hurt others.  We somehow want to believe that it’s really okay to misbehave because he did this to me.  Or she said that to me.  And in our hurt, we often are unable to react with the grace and love we know we ought to give.

Sometimes people that love us hurt us.  Usually, unintentionally.  And we have two choices to make.  We can react with grace and love and forgiveness.  Or we can misbehave.

Misbehavior can look like many things.  Sometimes it’s a temper tantrum.  Sometimes is a passive aggressive attitude.  Sometimes its pulling inside ourselves to avoid future hurts.  Sometimes it’s telling other people how badly you’ve been treated.

The struggle is, what do you do when you have been hurt?  You want to react with truth and love and grace.  But your heart hurts.  Maybe you can’t tell the person that has hurt you.  Maybe you try, but remain unheard.  What do we do then?  How do we continue to put our hearts out for the world, to love like Jesus commands, when it hurts so much?

As I’ve searched for the answer to this, I only have the “pat Christian Answer”.  But somehow, deep inside, I know it’s the true answer.  We turn to Jesus.   Truly it’s all we have.  Our spouses, our best friends, our mentors, they will all let us down when we expect from them that which is only God’s to give.  True comfort, forgiveness and unrelenting grace.

See, I want the world to know when I’ve been mistreated.  Or when I’ve done good things for people.  Sure, I’d like to think I don’t want to be thanked, I certainly don’t want a parade.  But sometimes, I do want to be appreciated.  Sometimes I do want people to be outraged that someone could dare hurt me.  But Jesus tells us that he will reward our deeds.  He will comfort our sorrows.  He sees all in secret and knows our heart.

So as I search my heart to find how to behave properly even when I’ve been wronged, mistreated, unappreciated  or misunderstood, I know the answers.  Even when I choose not to act upon them.  Jesus is the only One whose praise we ought to seek and whose comfort will ever be enough.

psalm 46

Why Sin?

*** Warning ***  I am not a theologian.  I have no theology degree, training, have taken no theology classes.  I make no claims as to the theological validity of my post. 

This morning, as I sat holding my sleeping 1 year old, having struggled for several days through a mire of ugly darkness stealing all my joy, I was suddenly blessed with a new understanding of the darkness and pain in this world.

I have had my children ask, have asked myself actually, “Why did God give Adam and Eve a choice?  Why did He allow them to choose sin?”

I have heard many good and insightful messages on this topic.  Explanations that we cannot fully love without choice, that without choosing to love we aren’t really loving, etc.  Those are great messages and great reasons. I will not attempt to recreate those messages, as I would not do them justice.  But today I realized another reason, or perhaps more of a byproduct. 

I like chocolate.  I like ice cream.  I really like chocolate ice cream.  I like broccoli, too.  But broccoli is NOT ice cream.  I do not like fish (except tuna salad and there is a case to be made that that isn’t really much in the way of fish).  I wonder what life would be like if fish, broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, and the like all tasted like chocolate ice cream?  Would we enjoy ice cream so much? 

I wonder, could we enjoy with quite the same depth of joy the birth of a new child without having experienced the loss of a grandparent (uncle, parent, friend)?  Could we find the depth of joy in life without the contrast of the sorrow?  Would we appreciate the smile of a 4 year old if we didn’t know they would end?

I realized that with parenting, life is a paradox of joy and pain.  I know without a doubt that I enjoy my younger two in their young years more than I did the older two.  Why?  Because of the ache of seeing them too old to giggle maniacally when I tickle under their chin.  There are new joys that come with each age and stage, but they are a sharp contrast to the ache that you feel realizing that the new phase necessarily requires the loss of an old one.

I believe that because of death and pain, we more fully have the opportunity to embrace love and joy.  I do not believe that we could really have the fullness of the joy God intends for us without the sadness that came into the world with sin. 

I’m not saying that God could not have found a way in a perfect world for us to fully enjoy an ice cream flavored world.  I know that He has done so in Heaven.  But I believe that one of His blessings in this world is this schism between dark and light, grief and joy, pain and happiness, death and new life. 

Things I Know – The Promises of God

I am focusing today’s Things I Know on the Promises of God.

I know that the promises of God are Yes! and Amen! 2 Corinthians 1:20 

I know that God is Good. Joshua 23:14

I know that God made me with a purpose. Jeremiah 29:11

I know that God created me, He knew me before I was born.  Psalm 139:13

I know that God paid for my sins so that I could spend eternity with Him. John 3:16

I occasionally have those days where I need encouragement.  I need reminders of God’s love, grace and protection.  I need to remember to whom I belong, that I am the daughter of The King.  Those are the days that I need to look back at these basic things that I know about the promises of God.  

Do Service Points Expire?

There is a terrific blog that I follow called A Slob Comes Clean in which the author gives great tips, suggestions and advice that she discovers on her journey away from slobdom.  In one of her blog posts, which I highly recommend you read (but only if you promise to finish reading this post when you are finished) she talks about how All Housekeeping Points Expire at Midnight.  I don’t want to ruin her witty prose for you, but in short she explains how those of us who tend to have difficulty keeping our house clean sometimes are ruined by a productive day.  I know for me, when I have worked really hard and made a huge improvement in one day in my home, I tend to waste away the next day.  See, sometimes we tend to rest on the efforts of the past.  We sometimes think that what we have already done gets us out of doing something else in the future.

As I was musing over this idea the other day I realized this thought can invade our service life as well as our housekeeping.  Have you ever thought, “Someone should really (insert idea here), but I’m not going to because I already (insert heroic action here) so I’ve done enough”?  No?  I didn’t think so.  Not you, I’m actually talking to that other person.  You know, HerShe is the one who reminds everyone of the fact that she served faithfully in her church for 10 years, 20 years ago, so she doesn’t need to serve now. That is an extreme example.  I am sure most of us would not be able to relate to that.  But sometimes I am Her.  Sometimes I think, I’ve done enough.     

There is truth to that fact that we need to guard ourselves from overcommitment and from interfering with our family’s needs.  We need to be sure we aren’t taking on roles that God intended someone else to do.  Sometimes we fill a need that God doesn’t want us to fill because we aren’t listening, seeking His guidance. In doing so we interfere with a blessing God had intended for someone else.  There are legitimate times not to serve.

But sometimes we are using our past service to excuse things we don’t want to do.  Okay, again, not you, but her.  I know I have been her.  I have thought “I don’t need to volunteer to help with the Women’s Ministry Christmas dinner, because I have helped with Children’s Ministry.”  I am certain that sometimes I have lost out on a blessing God had intended for me because I have used the excuse of past, or even current, service to avoid serving elsewhere. 

God doesn’t put our skills, our gifts or our passions in a little box labeled “Children’s Ministry” or “Women’s Ministry” or even “Church Ministry”.  God sends us opportunities to grow and be blessed disguised as service opportunities.  It seems to me that it is a rare event when God uses us to do something but doesn’t have a plan to impact us in the process.

We do need to be aware of using “service” as a way to hide from the world or of taking on more than God is calling.  But we need to stop using our past service as an excuse to avoid the next thing God is asking us to do.  Or maybe that is just me.

My God – Restorer of Hope

It’s 11:30 on a Sunday night.  I have an early morning coming after a long weekend.  I have a lot to do.  Yet, here I sit.  Why?  Because God did something amazing for me this weekend and I need to share. 

God gave me renewed hope, brought some wonderful people into my life and spoke into the lives of many that I care about.  God is good.  And God is doing good things in the lives of His people. 

Our church had a guest speaker this weekend.  He was very good.  Not like the super best speaker ever, but very very good.  I think it is the fact that he wasn’t the BEST but very good that actually helped God’s light shine through.  See, I wasn’t so much distracted by the man as we sometimes can be.  I was able to see God and hear a few things along the way.

God, through words spoken over many of the youth of our church, renewed my hope and vision for the children of our church.  They are not the future of the church, they are part of The Church today.  Hearing what God wanted to say to these amazing kids, young adults, in the presence of our body really softened my heart.

God softened my heart in a few other areas and helped me truly work down a path of forgiveness that I need to be walking down, perhaps more quickly than I have been. 

God brought a beautiful family whom I love and have prayed for during these last many months back home to visit our family.  I saw God working restoration in them and us.  I saw God blessing them and us.  That alone would have made my weekend, the visit of one family would have been enough.  But not for God.

God began, or perhaps continued, healing some hearts that have been agonizing.  He spoke life and love and hope into hearts that were broken.  I saw amazing personal heart change that showed on the faces of those I care about. 

God allowed me the opportunity to reach out to a church member and remind her of how adored she is.  He allowed me to speak a few kind words of truth to her heart to help calm a worried spirit.  God allowed her the opportunity to do something she loves, give.  God is restoring things there as well.

God helped the people of our church family throw a baby shower for a woman most of them had never met, just to show His love.  He got many people to work together to bless one small, young family with His heart for His people.  This alone knocked my socks off.

God brought another family that I love to the shower.  This was in itself a healing, restoring process.  For many.  God restored some things that were taken from this family, or so I think.  I suppose I could be mispeaking, but I do not think I am.

God allowed a friend flag me down in town and stop just to say hi, reminding me how precious one person and one family is in the Kingdom of God.  

God started another precious family on an amazing voyage of discovery, sending them to find what He is calling them to next.  He gave me peace to know that they are in His hands, a heart to love them and the knowledge that they are still part of our body, the Body of Christ.  I am excited to see where He calls them to next and hear what He has in store for them as they seek Him. 

And, though this is little, God gave me a small moment for intellectual exercise in His word, to think and ponder and wonder.  

God is good.  God is GOOD!!!

More Sharing the Heart of God

In my previous post “Sharing the Heart of God,” I discussed how we pay forward kindness without expecting any repayment, knowing that others are doing likewise. Last night I saw again how this plays out.

My husband went to help a friend with some computer issues. While there he got a call from another friend who needed help getting his stranded, broken down car home. My darling husband didn’t bat an eye and offered to help get the car. After dropping this friend and his car off at home, he stopped and met a third friend to pick up our car that friend number three had taken and repaired.

Isn’t it awesome what we can do for others and how God honors and blesses that by putting others in our lives to help us!

Share your stories of how God has used you to bless someone and in turn blessed you through a different person. I am convinced when we think less about ourselves and more about others, it will change the world, at least the small part we live in!