Whether we like it or not, God made us for relationship: with Him and with each other. If you’ve been hurt by others or are introverted and shy, you probably don’t like that God expects us to broaden our friendships outside the front doors of our comfort zones. That’s okay. I didn’t much like it either when I started figuring it out. Most people these days tend toward self-sufficiency, and we like to reinforce that with pop psychology. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Put on your big-girl panties. God helps those who help themselves. Common mantras, but is that really what the Bible teaches?
I'm in a tough season. It's not a season of emergency or heart-wrenching tragedy, but it is a time of higher-than-normal stress. A lot is going on around me. and I have very little control over most of it. I must step back, and I must trust God. While I wait for His timing and His answers, I continue to work on those things He's given me to do. Some days, this is harder than others. ~ How do you thrive when the world around you twirls and swirls? ~ Where do you find the strength to get out of bed when you'd rather throw the covers over your head and hide? ~ How can you lovingly and patiently serve others when you just want someone to put everything around you right again? What would . . . no, what did Jesus do?
Most people older than ten have faced some sort of tragedy. Some of us experienced horror younger than that. A car accident or house fire The death of a loved one Parental divorce Abuse, neglect, or abandonment The list of bad things goes on and on. Yet we know that God redeems. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 61:3 that He exchanges beauty for ashes, or as the Contemporary English Version writes, The Lord has sent me to comfort those who mourn, especially in Jerusalem. He sent me to give them flowers in place of their sorrow, olive oil in place of tears, and joyous praise in place of broken hearts. But how do we get from broken hearts to joyous praise?
In my book The Warrior's Bride, I shared quite a bit about the health problems my husband endures. Chronic pain, back issues, migraines, leg cramps, and more are a regular part of our lives. I used to wonder what I was supposed to do with that. Were the physical struggles a test? A character building process? Would God heal him, or lead us to the doctor with the right procedure to make things better? And what does it say about our faith if nothing changes? What does it say about God if things get worse?
How kind are you? Seriously ... on a scale of one to ten, where would you rate your kindness level? How often do you show appreciation? Are you gracious to others? Do you practice patience or speak compliments? Does the Golden Rule echo in your actions? Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Matthew 7:12, The Message Would your family or coworkers give you the same rating as you are giving yourself? Hmmm.
Last week I talked about God getting quiet, and three questions you can ask yourself to help clarify whether you missed something. But what if you've done everything right? What if you heard God say to do this thing, you obeyed His request, and it's left you sitting in a hard place? A dry place? An uncomfortable place? Now what do you do? I'll warn you: The answer probably isn't what you want to hear. 3 Possibilities to Consider ...
The issue weighed heavily on my mind. My mind circled the arguments, processing the positives and negatives, trying to determine the best way forward. Yet I wasn't sure what to do, and it felt like God wasn't adding His two cents worth. Why wouldn't He answer? Where was a billboard with God's instructions? Or at least some confirmation from a mature believer on which way was the better way? What do you do when Heaven is silent?
I'd hurt her feelings, and she didn't want to talk to me. I gave her some time and space, yet a couple weeks later she still wouldn't talk to me. Our relationship felt irreparably broken. How can you heal a broken relationship? Should you always seek restoration, or does the Bible tell us that sometimes it's okay to walk away? And what if the other person refuses to talk to you about it? These are big questions, but important ones. Let's start with a more foundational one: How important are relationships?
When I was a young warrior's bride, I knew little about military life. I was so naive, I didn't know what questions to ask the more experienced brides around me. I couldn't formulate my ignorance into coherent thought to even begin a discussion on what the future might look like. I have learned much over the years, through my experience and through the lives of dear friends. Military life no longer scares me, even though it occasionally troubles me. I don't fear for my active duty friends, although worry sometimes sends me into deeper prayer for them. Here at Fort Bragg, we are in a deployment cycle. To be truthful, because of the units housed here, we are always in a deployment cycle. One-quarter to one-third of the ladies who attend the military group at our church are in the midst of life while their spouse is half a world away. It's normal here. But that doesn't mean we are good about talking through it.
Crossing, Oregon, population 725. The town square consists of a diner, ice cream shop, newspaper, General Store and Micah’s Hardware. The people are friendly, drive older cars, and live life slowly. And it exists only in my head. Growing up I loved Cinderella. She was sweet, cheerful, and caring. Prince Charming was so captivated in one evening with her that he turned a city on its head looking for her. When evil entered the story, it was subdued and the champions of good lived happily ever after. This mindset colors my world. It’s not that I’ve lived a charmed life. Like Cinderella, I’ve experienced pain, loss, and hardship.