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Letting Go

When someone dies, there is a period of disbelief. It is a hard thing to accept and our psyche fights against the idea with a tenacity that might be inspiring if not for the unhappy ending.
It is the same with letting go.
And the interesting part is that the healing will never begin if we can’t come to grips with and ACCEPT the death. Accept the fact that we will never see our loved one, this side of heaven, again.
And in the same way, there has to be an acceptance of the inevitable in letting go. Here, time is our friend and patient teacher. And likewise, we must become patient in letting him pass.
And a healthy grieving will one day give way to sunshine breaking through the darkened clouds. And we can sing. And our song is new; wiser, deeper, and somehow more beautiful.
When it’s time to let go, and we are ready, we hand it over to Him. The Lover of our soul. The Rain Maker and the Cloud Breaker.
I marvel always at Your Beauty, Your Peacefulness, and the many ways you replenish all the aching souls. Because You. Are. Joy, My Lord. You are Joy.

lettng go

Come Home to The Good

There is going to come a day when your life is going to derail.

derailedYou’re going to mess up a little and lose your center.  The conditions are going to be right to topple you. It happens to the best of humanity and I don’t envy anyone who is going through it. I am in the throes of it myself, even as I write.

And we’re not alone, you and I. The best that life has churned out can, and do, lose their way from time to time.

Just to list a few examples:

• The Prodigal Son
• Simon, named Peter
• Rahab
• The Samaritan Woman
• Jonah
• Gideon
• Samson
• King David
• Elijah
• Saul of Tarsus

And then, too, there are the private stories in every life that never make it into the pages of any book. The folly, the humiliation, the redemption, the victory.

Not everyone who falls rises again, however. Not everyone who slides down a slippery slope knows enough to climb back up on the side of the slope that is dry. And it’s a tough uphill walk. But the falling was easy-effortless and speedy. The climb back up, however, is painstaking and deliberate. It requires tenacity, discipline and character to make it all the way back to the summit.

tobaggan3But before any of that can happen, there must first be a humbling.

Because you might assume that you haven’t truly fallen in the first place. Or you might reason that you were blindsided-caught off guard. And maybe you were. You can say that the whole situation is ridiculously unfair. And maybe it is. You can blame it on circumstance, fate, or destiny.

But no matter your reasoning, there you are at the bottom of the hill. And you know you’re at the bottom of the hill.

Maybe it’s addiction that sent you there. Maybe it’s a relationship or an unfulfilled desire. Maybe it’s the result of chasing after money, or a misguided desire for the approval of man.

But no matter what it is/was, here is what I can tell you. It threatened and then overthrew the Lord- from His throne- in your life, didn’t it?

Somewhere along the way you lost your footing. Somewhere along the way Abba, Father was reduced to a distant memory. Where there once was an adoring couple, now one has departed- estranged from the Faithful One who still holds out His loving hands.

And you miss Him. But you also want what you want. So you drink from the fountain of addiction. You sup at table of your lover. You scheme one last scheme for that big deal. You flash one more move for your adoring fans. And you make an executive decision: You can have both. Why not? Once this settles down and you get what you want- THEN you’ll go back to your Original Lover. The Lover of your soul.

But you never get what you want, do you? You are never fully satisfied. And what you don’t realize is that you will never be satisfied, ever again, until you forsake the one and cling to The Other.

Recently I was in the fog. Deep in the fog. Oh, I did try to get out. Several times. I even offered up some fairly pious prayers. I made feeble attempts at reduction. But I didn’t know any long-term victory because my heart wasn’t fully in it. I wanted what I wanted. I wasn’t willing to let it go. My love for my Lord became secondary to that which I wanted.

Until the day that I became sick with longing for my Original Lover Whom I began to miss with all my heart.

As a child, my faith was as full as it was astonishing. I moved many mountains. I simply believed, and I only saw HIM. Little else distracted me or pried me away from His loving embrace.

But, now, I knew the journey back home was just too far. I knew I couldn’t make it on my own. And as I looked back, I had to admit that our affair started losing purity in various ways through a period of many years.

….Until that beautiful day when I finally fell on my knees and uttered the most genuine prayer that I had spoken in years, “Help me, please. I miss You. Please help me.” And then I cried….sobbed….right there at His breast.

woman praying3And it was the simplest prayer that I had ever said in my life. But the most heartfelt. The most earnest and….the most humbling. I was acknowledging to Him that this thing was bigger than me, and it meant more than all of the pious attempts at prayer that went before. And I knew it did. I felt the faith go out from me. I knew that it could not come back void.

And in the days that followed, it began….

I picked up my Bible. I began to fall deeply in love with my Original Lover all over again. I talked to Him in prayer about everything. I stopped trying to walk through everything on my own. Haughty is the heart that reasons, “I got this!” Foolish is the lamb who wanders away from the Shepherd. Lost is the sailor without a Compass. Dead is the branch no longer connected to the Vine.

He carried me out of the storm one step at a time. He showed me where to put my feet on the craggy rocks.

He goes before me. I follow.

I’m still following. And each day my gait is a little stronger. The light is beginning to open up again. The path is illuminated. I can feel His hand in mine. Safe within the fold, I sing- and relax- and see all of life beautiful. Innocent, like a child, I’m rejoicing. Not perfect. Not fully pure. Fully human and fallible. But I’m on my way home. I’m climbing that hill. I can see the summit.

summit climb1And you can get there too. Your love for Him has to exceed and supersede your love for your addiction, your lover, your desire, and the pride of life. And when you want victory bad enough, ask Him for it. Ask Him to guide you back home. And because He is faithful to His promises- because He loves you- He will do it. Lay it at His feet. Leave it at His throne. And then Wait. For. It. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’!!

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” I John 2:15-17

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4: 8

Summer Solstice – Wayne Kirkpatrick

It must have been the summer solstice
When I first gave my heart to You
The first day of a brand new season
In a fevered passion for Your simple truth
It was the longest I’d ever felt for anything
And it gave my soul a song to sing.

It must have been my adolescence
That pulled me from my childlike faith
But what I thought to be maturity
Was just neglect that I tried to vindicate
And I went drifting on the wind like the autumn leaves
But when I fell I landed on my knees.

So can You throw Your arms around me and walk me home
I’ve wandered off way too far for way too long
And standing broken in this wilderness of shame
I have found my only strength is in your name
Oh, Father please can You undo what I’ve done
And get me back to square one.

I never saw that blizzard coming
Just woke up and ice was on the ground
And there were times this beating heart of pride
Was so stubborn it refused to make a sound
But now I’m feeling so out of my element
Frozen in the winter of my discontent.

So can You throw Your arms around me and walk me home
I’ve wandered off way too far for way too long
And standing broken in this wilderness of shame
I have found my only strength is in your name
Oh, Father please can You undo what I’ve done
And get me back to square one.

And with the spring comes the thaw
Melting my heart reviving all
It comes full circle and then
It’s summer solstice again.

So can You throw Your arms around me and walk me home
I’ve wandered off way too far for way too long
And standing broken in this wilderness of shame
I have found my only strength is in your name
Oh, Father please can You undo what I’ve done
And get me back to square one.

 

 

Get With A Man…

Get With A Man…

1. Who You Respect
2. Who Respects You
3. Who Is Grown Up and Responsible
4. Who Has A Family That Respects You And You Can Get Along With.
5. Who Has Proven His Love For You.

If someone had handed me this list and the following article in my late teens or early twenties, would I have taken it to heart? Would I have listened to the fifty-something author who poured her heart out with conviction and sincerity? Would I have believed her, or would I have perceived her as demanding, spoiled, entitled, or selfish? The honest answer is that I do not know. I do not know if I would have listened. I do know, however, that my younger self didn’t look very deeply to her own needs. I know she used to do just about anything in the name of love and goodness to make her relationships better. But rarely did that anything include preserving her genuine needs, and own self-worth.

But there is good reason for this. She never had a Father speak these things into her life. Nor did he teach her of her value as a woman, nor helped her know what to expect from a healthy man in a healthy relationship. And she never had a Mother who modeled these expectations.

And that is why I am writing these things today. Because there are many women, young and old who might need such a list; who maybe never had it modeled or taught. And I am writing it because I have a single daughter. She means the world to me, need I say more? I am writing it because I am in my second marriage and it has taken me this long to understand how imperative certain things are for a healthy relationship. It is not wrong or selfish to ask for and expect these things from the men we marry or get into relationship with. In fact, I have come to learn that it is detrimental to both the man and the woman in the relationship if we do not ask for, expect, and uphold these things.

So without further ado, let me flesh out some of the things that I have learned.

Get With A Man….

.…Who You Respect.

Why are you looking at his handsome face? Why are you looking at the way his body moves? Why are you melting over those flattering words or the way your heart skips a beat when he looks at you? Don’t you know the art of courting and seduction has been going on for thousands of years and it will continue the same way until the end of time? Those kinds of things are a dime a dozen. The wise woman will study a man’s character, plain and simple. And study him for more than a New York minute. Study him for a good while and in various circumstances. The wise woman will look at a man’s potential. He doesn’t have to be perfect, but he sure better have potential. Potential to be kind, fair, honest, hardworking, responsible….all of those things you need a man to be. And we’ll cover some of those later.

Knowing yourself is key. Because you have to know what you respect and what you don’t in the first place. When we are young most of these ideals are already formed inside us, but many of us don’t understand that we can, and should, protect them and assert them in all of our relationships.

When you know what you respect, then you know what to look for. Many of us older lovers have learned the hard way that there is really no use in trying to coerce, or mold or bend someone into being what we want. It never works. You are better off finding someone whom you respect in the first place, and with potential, instead of setting yourself up to the difficult and impossible task of trying to change another human being. And really, it is kinder to them as well if you just let the wrong ones go instead of subjecting them to your anxious dissatisfaction.

Find someone who matches you intellectually and spiritually. Someone at least in your ball park. It’s even better if you genuinely think they are a little smarter or wiser than you in certain areas. This will fuel your respect and admiration- two things that can’t be borrowed or bought. Invaluable. Look for it.

Find someone whom you know you can talk to. Someone who can carry an interesting conversation and bring interesting perspective. True, some people don’t like to talk hardly at all, and if you are down with that and that is what you want, then I guess you had better find someone who is really okay with that, and wants that as well. But most of us want someone we can have meaningful conversation with. Look for someone who you know you can live a half to three quarters of a century with, and whom you will never become bored with because of their lack of depth. Important. Think about it. This is supposed to be forever, right?

Look at someone who has earned your loyalty, admiration, respect, affections, and love. And I mean earned. That, more than anything else, is going to matter to a woman the most in the long run and will also set precedent for the level of a man’s respect or disrespect toward you. Don’t be afraid to set the bar high. If he can’t jump it, he’s not worth it, trust me. You don’t always want to be guessing throughout your relationship if he really would have gone the distance for you. You want to know this upfront. You really do want to test him on this. You are a fool not to. I speak from experience.

Can you get down with his beliefs, his convictions, his dreams, his goals? Do you have common interests? Don’t underestimate the importance of this. This is the person you will be spending most of your time with. You’d better have at least 70-80 percent of the same interests and ideals. Do you truly admire him? Do you truly respect who he is as a person? Does he have skills and talents that you admire? What personality traits do you admire? What gets you excited? Is he an innovator, for instance, or a man who takes action? Do other men respect him? What is important to you? Do you find yourself a natural cheerleader for him, or does he have to force that out of you? Do you have to force it out of yourself? If you do then why are you in this relationship, girl? Do him a favor, move on.

I think there are universal needs that we have collectively as women and we need to learn to recognize, acknowledge, and accept what those needs are. But equally true is the fact that we also have individual preferences that we desire in a man. We won’t all want or need the same things. For instance, I have recently come to realize that I really want a man who isn’t on Facebook and will never get on Facebook, but has an impressive and bustling personal life. Quirky, huh? I have my reasons for this. They are solid and they are all my own. Another high preference of mine is a man who is as honest as the day is long. Just a deep need of mine. And a man who never stops mining for, and applying, spiritual truths in his life. Know who you are. Know what you need. Try not to settle ladies. Try very hard not to settle.

Get with a man who you can respect. Because when the chips are down and shaky ground finds its way into your union, it is your respect for him that is going to carry you both through and strengthen, not weaken, your relationship.

….Who Respects You.

You can feel his respect. Your inner being knows if he respects you or not. Trust it.

Does he value your opinions? Seek your advice? Take your advice? Is he impressed with how you live your life? Does he admire your values and believe in your character? You have to know these things. Don’t get with someone who does not.

If he hits or shoves you- even one time- he does not respect you. And it WILL happen again Trust me. Again, I speak from experience.

If you are not willing to have sex with him before marriage, will he still be there a few months or years down the road? Does he genuinely just like being with you enough to hang around? Does he love you enough to wait? Do you think it is asking too much of a man? It is not. In the Bible there was a man named Jacob and he loved a woman named Rachel. He offered to work for her Father seven years for her hand in marriage. The Bible tells us that Jacob’s love for Rachel was so strong that “Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her!” Honestly, if he loves you, he will wait.

He will hear your needs and work with you to meet them. He will be willing to talk things out with you. He will want to help and be “active” in his listening. He will validate your feelings and not write you off as an emotional female simply because he cannot deal with the depth your feelings bring. He is tender toward you in your distress because he adores you through and through. You are worthy of his undivided attention, just as he is worthy of yours, and you will not have to beg him for it in times of need.

He lifts you up with his words, instead of putting you down, both in private and in public. If he does not do this, he does not respect you. Remember, you deserve a man who respects you. And you had better always give him the same courtesy.

He will respect your boundaries. Do not appreciate his coming into the bathroom while you are using it? Then he won’t come in there, period. Need some space with your girlfriends? He won’t call you on the phone every hour. Don’t like to talk in a vulgar way about your previous love-making session? Then he will not. Don’t want him to brag to his friends about your sacred sex life? Then he won’t. The list goes on. You know your boundaries. Expect them to be respected. Assert them.

He will not bully you outwardly, nor will he bully you in a passive-aggressive manner. Both bring their own kind of heartache and are equally destructive. Watch for this while you are getting to know someone. If you are not too emotionally entangled with a person, these traits are not hard to spot. Thus why it is best not to give away your affections to a man who has not yet earned them.

He will expect his family and friends to respect you. Realize they will always follow his lead. If they see him disrespect you, this gives them license to disrespect you as well, and they will. It doesn’t matter if they are his parents, his siblings, or his children. He will protect you, and back you up in front of them. Especially when you are being upright, honorable, good, and kind.

Get with a man who you know will respect you. It will save you a lifetime of heartache.

…. Who Is Grown Up and Responsible.

You want a man who wants to lead and knows how to lead. Not a man whom you have to lead. Not a man whom you have to pull along. You will know him by the initiative and innovation he displays when he is still merely a ‘friend.’ Don’t be deceived. He won’t change once you get into a relationship with him- not long-term change anyway. You need to know that he will be a courageous leader, and a self-starter. Someone who will sit down with you and map out a plan for your family and will follow through with the plans you have made together. He keeps his promises by following up with what he said he would do. If you have found that he is someone you respect because you believe in him as a person, then you will be able to get under his leadership and let him lead. If you are in a relationship with someone whom you do not trust or respect then it will be very hard for you to get underneath his leadership. That is why I put that you should get with a man whom you can respect as #1, because everything else in your relationship depends on it.

Get with someone who doesn’t need a Mother. Look at his house. Is he clean? Is he organized? Does he get himself up for work on time? Does he pick up his clothes? Does he leave little unorganized piles of “stuff” in every room? Does he get the garbage to the curb on time? Is his garage organized? Are you okay with this? If you are not, better look at it. How big of a deal is it to you? Remember, he is not going to change to any great degree, so are you prepared to be a Mother to a man who needs one in order for your home to run properly? Now I am not saying he has to be perfect. But this comes down to you. You need to know what you can and cannot live with. You have to know what you are willing to overlook and what you know will drive you crazy. Keep your eyes open and figure out his mental age. Then figure out if you can live with someone that age.

Do you see him living out the beliefs he claims, or is he a man of many words, but little action? Actions always speak louder than words. And you want a man whose actions have a positive, not a negative, effect. Remember that men have an interesting effect on women. It is their actions that make us feel either secure or insecure. When a woman feels insecure she invariably uses more words. That’s how it works. When she feels secure in her relationship, she uses less words. Get with a man whose actions make you use less words, not more. Whose actions make you shed less tears, not more. Whose actions inspire you to be the very best woman you can be.

Get with a man who is not physically or emotionally lazy. He will put in the work to make your communication and understanding better and he will put in the work to provide for you.

Yes, he is the one who needs to provide. Old fashioned, I know. But it is God’s design. “But if any man does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t help out financially when needed. But what it does mean is that he carries the bulk of the responsibility in this area. When he honors this responsibility, it frees you up to be a better homemaker and a better helpmate. He does not have to be rich, and shame on you if you are looking for a rich man. But you do want a man who works an honest day for an honest dollar to provide for the ones he loves. A man who may not be rich, but wants to give you everything you need and even some of the things you want. He may not always be able to achieve this, but he should certainly want to in his heart. You should feel that and love him for it.

A mature man will not turn arguments around on you unfairly. He won’t make you feel crazy or tempt you to second guess what is true. He will not call you (or perceive you as) crazy when you are honestly working through feelings and issues. He will deal with them head on the same way you do and will not take detours or try to unbalance sanity in difficult times. Men who do this do not respect women. You know what it looks like. You know it when you see it. A little of this is too much. A lot of it should be a huge red flag. Respect yourself. Trust yourself. Walk away if he consistently shows spiritual immaturity in this manner.

….Who Has A Family That Respects You And You Can Get Along With.

We touched on this a bit earlier. A man sets the tone for how his family views you. Unless of course you are an evil woman who has pulled the wool over his eyes and his family sees what he does not. In that case, you are on your own and you won’t get any help from me. I’m assuming that only good-hearted and well-intentioned women are reading this blog. That’s who it is written for and that is who I am addressing.

Here’s the deal ladies: When you marry a man, you do indeed marry his family. Better make sure you can get along with them. I actually believe now that if you do not get along with a man’s family right from the get-go (after the first few awkward weeks or months of course), it is pretty tell-tale as to how difficult your marriage is going to be and possibly even how unsuited the two of you may be. And unless his family are all evil and he is the only good one of the lot (and that can happen!), they will actually know him better than you. They will have known him longer and can probably discern better what is best for him. This goes for his closest friends as well. They, too, are family. Pay attention to them. Learn a lesson from them. And, honestly, bow out if you have to. Know, too, that if they are treating you with the nasty, it will probably not be too long before he starts showing you his nasty side as well. They are kin after all. And we are products of our raising. Of all the things you might take my advice on, this one will probably be the hardest to swallow. I’m just telling you, I’ve been in two marriages, and seen a lot sister. I’m just sayin.’ Take it or leave it.

And last, but not least get with a man….

….Who Has Proven His Love For You.

Don’t get with a man who you think loves you. Don’t get with a man who you believe will prove his love for you when the time comes. Just don’t do it. Get with a man who HAS proven his love for you. Get with a man who has and is willing to prove his love for you along the way. And here is why.

#1. You deserve to know absolutely that he loves you. You deserve proof. You are worth that.

#2. Men talk a lot of talk. Men are good at sweet talking women. Men are good at getting the girl these days mainly because it is so easy. You make it easy. You make it easy because you fancy yourself in love and you do not want to lose him. But don’t you realize you are much better off without a man who doesn’t really love you back? If he loves you, he will be more than willing to prove it. This is how you will know he loves you. A man who doesn’t genuinely love you will drop out of the race. Why would any man want to do all of the things we have discussed? It’s an awful lot to ask of any man don’t you think? And believe me, he won’t UNLESS he loves you. Only love can make a man strive to give you the assurances you know in your heart that you need. If he can’t or won’t do the things above, then please hear me on this- he does not love you. Put these things to the test. Love will bear them out.

#3. If he doesn’t have to earn it, he will never really honor it. Men are just like that. They have to work for something to really appreciate it and attach value to it. Don’t deprive them of this. It has been said that “it is a man’s job to respect a woman, but it is a woman’s job to give him something to respect.” Truer words were never spoken. Give him something to respect by giving him the opportunity to prove his love.

Get with a man who finds you attractive and desirable in every way. Don’t get with a man who makes you a possible second runner up for his love. Never be content to be with a man who “settled” for you. It has also been said: “When someone treats you like an option, help them narrow their choices by removing yourself from the equation.” It’s that simple. Expect the very best from a man, never seconds my lovely. Because you are too damn lovely. Don’t ever believe for a minute that you aren’t worth more. There are, in fact, good men out there who will love just you, and all of you, and will wait for you, and will put in the effort for you. Get with those men. Well, ideally, just one of those men.:-) Leave behind the ones who are not worthy. Learn your worth.

I may not have had a Daddy to teach me my worth and I may have had to wade through time, experience, and much heartache before I finally chose to listen to, and believe, the voice my heavenly Father was whispering in my ear all of those long and difficult years. And I did, eventually, get the message. I did, eventually, learn. So now I am telling you the same thing with loads of love. Be wise in choosing who you settle down with. Take your time and make a good choice. You deserve that.

Remember nobody is perfect. And you WILL have to leave room for compromise and patience. Even the greatest guys are going to bring you heartache from time to time and you have to learn to roll with the punches (but not real punches). Men and women are different with different expectations and different needs. But if he loves you, he will be willing to prove it the way you need him to prove it. And once you know he loves you and has your best interests at heart, you have a better chance at overall contentment together even through the difficult times.

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A Time To Give

By this time next year we will be in Florida. I have high hopes. I have a few plans. Of course I want to start up a tangible version of my Facebook group, Wild Flowers. To view what that is all about you can read the group description here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/367147110119734/

It’s basically a call to help us as women to put down our cooking utensils, our commitments to our babies and families, our jobs, and enjoy a little more time in outdoor adventures with other women of like-mind. Why? Well you can read about that here: https://simplelifesecrets.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/wild-flowers/

But I have bigger plans than just that. I love God. I love helping people. I hear a call to help the less fortunate. Tim and I try to give our “offering” or “tithe” or “purposing” (or whatever you like to call it) to people in need. Whether it be to help a struggling family, to feed the homeless on the streets of Austin, or to help a flooded community rebuild etc.

This week for instance we bagged 12 lunches and found the homeless in Austin. And that is good sometimes. Sometimes there is a conviction to do that.

food1

food2food3

 

 

But mostly I like to help people I know. People who I can (or have) poured my life into.

So here is my big plan. (I’d do it where I am right now, but the long-term relationships this ‘ministry’ requires would fall short in light of the fact we will be leaving here in the spring/summer).

My plan is to incorporate the women of my Wild Flowers group (and any men who care to help), and start cooking meals together for people who have fallen on hard times. People they know. People I know. We take our own offering- our own money- and we pour it into buying the ingredients needed to cook the meals. We can also use the fresh produce from our own gardens. We do not register as a non profit. We are not under the umbrella of/ or need the assistance of/ any denomination. Why? In this way we avoid regulation, and the government can’t shut us down. We are simply friends helping friends. There is no law against that. Our reward is not in the tax return. Our reward comes from the heavenly Father and the sheer joy of doing what He asked us to do.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5: 22-23

It may not always be a meal. Sometimes we may choose to pool our money and help someone pay their electric bill or their rent etc. These will all be people our group knows or have been recommended to. People who have checked out as genuinely needy and going through a temporary hard time. People whom we can love on and build a relationships with. For me, it is ultimately because I want to show them Jesus. This may not be everyone in the group’s motive. But I do not judge that. As long as they want to help, let them, let us, help.

So here is my shout out to my ladies in Florida (Panama City/Mexico Beach area) who will live near me and want to spend time together outdoors and do a little good in the process. All I need is a few strong minded women who are full of compassion. Think about it. Talk to me. School me. Join me if you can. You know how to reach me, and for those of you who do not: sing53@hotmail.com is a good place to start.

Praying to the Lord to bless this and hoping great things in His name!
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

Positivity

We live in a new age. Everyone is an expert. Seemingly new ideas and philosophies are wowing those with improper upbringing and lack of a fundamental value system, common decency, common sense, and experience. So when a “new” idea comes along many takers jump on board.

Take for instance the idea of living a “positive” lifestyle. “I’m no longer going to let negativity into my life.” is the modern cry. But I have noticed that many of the people who voice this stance are often perpetrating more negativity than they realize. Because I think many times there is a misunderstanding about the true nature of positivity. For what is true positivity? Is it living a care-free life void of conflict or distraction from their goals? Really?

I have  a few ideas on the subject, and I’ve laid them out here in: “What Positivity Isn’t” and What Positivity Is.” Tell me if you can get down with this, if you can get on board, if you can pick up what I am putting down.:-)

What Positivity Isn’t:

  • A lack of true peace, contentment and inner joy, no matter what is going on around us.
  • The need to avoid conflict at all costs.
  • A refusal to look deep into one’s soul to examine if I may have contributed to a problem when dealing with relational issues.
  • The need of drugs or alcohol to achieve a calm and restful state of being.
  • Living from Monday to Friday without any greater goal than looking forward to the weekend so that I may party with my “friends.” Positivity is not getting drunk or high every Saturday night. That is a temporary ‘happiness’ that leaves one empty, yet again, the next day.
  • Having no concept of/or taking no responsibility for/ putting true effort into making relationships work. Fruitful and rewarding relationships take effort. An extreme amount of effort from both parties.
  • Hanging on to my possessions and my perceived freedoms at all costs
  • Not taking responsibility for my actions.
  • Positivity isn’t only to talk about subjects that make me feel happy or upbeat. Or to only hang around people who are seemingly only happy or upbeat. (“He [Jesus] was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” -Isa 53:3) Why was Jesus like this? Ask yourself why was C.S. Lewis or Bob Dylan like this? All for the same reason. They contemplated the deep things of life, didn’t shy away from them, avoid them, or let them go. They contemplated pain and suffering, and they tried to do something about it. They always strove to go deeper, harder, stronger, longer. They were, in fact, the real deal.
    Does that mean they did not have inner joy? Of course not. I know for sure that all had serious inner joy. For knowing all things as Jesus did, and not being afraid to contemplate all things, as Dylan & C.S. Lewis did are what brings about ultimate peace. For if we do not search, then how can we ever arrive at the answers?
  • Positivity is not avoiding people who encourage you to be a better person and steer you toward better behaviors.
  • Positivity will not give in to the temptation of pride.

What Positivity Is:

  • Genuine peace, joy and contentment that can only come from a relationship with, trust in, and an understanding of Jesus Christ and what He desires for our life.
  • Living an honest life. Foremost being honest with oneself and before one’s God (“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts” -Psa 139:23)
  • Tarrying with my brother or sister, hearing their concerns and bearing their burdens with much forbearance and kindness. (“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” – Gal 6:2).
  • Learning to be content with a few good friends in whose hearts you can trust, instead of the false validation of many friends whose hearts are not with you.
  • Does not avoid conflict, but deals with conflict head on as one who is courageous and one who is kind- who does not seek his/her own comfort. Realizing that without conflict no relationship will ever delve beneath the surface and become great or beautiful or truly comfortable. This is true in our adult relationships and is especially true when raising our growing children.
  • Positivity is gentleness and patience in attitude and manner. (Kathleen, especially, needs to work on this when she feels hurt from others)
  • Is knowing your own worth no matter what anyone else tries to tell you that you are, or you are not. God says you were uniquely and wonderfully made!
  • Deals with sin head on and honestly.
  • A positive person will not consider themselves as entitled or elite, but humbles oneself and avails oneself to service in the kingdom. Whatever it takes. Whatever the Lord requires at any given moment in order to build relationships, in order to mentor, or in order to build the kingdom.
  • Is not selfish with their things or their time.
  • Is not a respecter of persons.
  • Positivity is content with being alone when it is required.
  • It knows oneself and owns up to the good and the bad in oneself. Works on oneself and gives oneself a break at the same time. But more than that, knows one’s Savior and knows Who holds the entire universe, and everything that goes on in it, in the palm of His hand. And rests in that at all times, even when there is no one else standing beside you in the whole world. That is positivity at its finest.
  • Positivity is spending joyful hours with children and the elderly.
  • Positivity is giving to the poor and spending time with them. Realizing their value and their worth. (“Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”- James 2:5)
  • Positivity is loving at all times in word and in action.

So maybe it is time to re-think the positive lifestyle. Maybe it is time to dig a little deeper. I guarantee that if you do, you will smile even in whatever darkness the world might throw your way. And then the, “I’m no longer going to let negativity into my life” becomes a very big job indeed. But you will be on the right track and you will see great success.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Here are a few definitions of the word “respect” from various dictionary resources:
Dictionary.com:
“esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability.”
“the condition of being esteemed or honored.”
“a formal expression or gesture of greeting, esteem, or friendship”
“to show regard or consideration for.”
The Cambridge Dictionary:
“the polite attitude shown toward someone or something that you consider important.”
The Oxford Dictionary:
“Due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.”

Life for me over the course of the last few years has been a grueling lesson in self-respect.

I am a kind person. Known for giving family and friends second, third, and seventh chances. I think in many ways this is good and right. Forgiveness is necessary. It is necessary to purify the poisoning that un-forgiveness brings into our own soul. It is necessary for offering relief, mercy, and grace to the offender. And necessary in the greater recognizing of our own desperate need for forgiveness from a loving Savior and from people whom we have hurt.

I was also raised by an unassuming woman who would have rather melted into the walls behind her, than take anything for herself. Whether that anything came in the form of praise, rights, monetary gain, or respect for her opinions. Yes, more than once I saw her sacrifice her own self-worth in public only to cry lonely within the privacy of her four walls. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18. Selah. Bless you Mama.

And though I am her daughter, I am coming to learn a different way. I am learning that there is a fine line between losing one’s self for others, and giving them your self- respect. Because in the end giving your self-respect to others is doing them an injustice because it isn’t Truth. And anything that is born out of a lie will not manifest into anything good in their lives. When you give others your self-respect, you are also doing yourself an injustice for the exact same reason.

How do I know that as soon as you give your self-respect away you begin living a lie? Because The Bible tells me that you are VALUABLE. You can see this concept fleshed out here in my blog, The Value of A Person.

But there is another way that we can know that to give away our self-respect is to live a lie. And this is in a much more practical sense, if you will. When we live a self-depreciating life style we are equipping the people in our lives to a) not know who we really are, and b) not respect who we are. People will eventually view us in the exact manner that we have taught them to view us.

I came to recognize this as a grave error in my own life in my late forties. So when I achieved that grandiose milestone of 50 years, I made a promise to myself. “Never again”, I said. From this day forward, I live who I am. Not who you want me to be- because that makes you happy and comfortable. Not who you want me to be. And not who you want me to be.  Me.  The ‘Me’ God created me to be. It was good enough for Him. It’s always been good enough for me. The only one it maybe hasn’t been good enough for is you.

But life is funny. Here is the thing I have learned. As soon as the Truth takes hold in us and permeates our being, the appollyon- the father of lies- the roaring lion- abaddon himself- will show up. And true to his namesake, will stop at nothing to remove the Truth from our lives and render us devalued once again.

For the past few years now, satan has manifested himself in this stratagem in various ways, and as a result:

• I have had to stop initiating contact with a close family relation because s/he proved time and time again that s/he did not value relationship with me as a high priority. I wasn’t a medium priority, and as it turned out I wasn’t even a bottom of the rung priority. There comes a point when we must accept Truth. Live in it. Don’t rescue friends or family from the consequences of the behaviors they exhibit. Live in the truth of where your relationship is at. Allow them to do the same. This is their expression of your perceived value in their lives. Respect: “the condition of being esteemed or honored.”

• I have had to acknowledge the bullying mentality of another close relative, and remove them from good standing, and re-erect old boundaries toward them in my life. This person also exhibited lack of respect and support for me as an individual and my choices. Respect: “to show regard or consideration for.”

• I had to acknowledge that a friend’s loyalty and desire for deeper friendship was lip service only when I tested my suspicions and stopped being the one to initiate every phone call and plan our every outing by not calling him/her, and naturally he/she has never called since, and I do not expect to ever hear from him/her ever again. Respect: “a formal expression or gesture of greeting, esteem, or friendship”

• I had to accept the fact and cut lose another friend who told me that I was a very important person in their life and that this person had connection with me that he/she did not have with other people, but dropped me like a hot potato whenever any of those other people were around. Respect: “the polite attitude shown toward someone or something that you consider important.”

• I always feel profoundly disrespected when dealing with ‘church’ people, since , when asked, I’ve always tried to patiently explain to them how my church service and worship to God may look quite a bit different from their church service and worship. And that I find the way I do it is, for me, more effective for my growth in His service. I always give them plenty of respect and space to worship God in any way they like and in their preferred gatherings. But when I do not show up to their particular form of worship, I am branded as backslidden or rebellious.” Respect: “Due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.”

• I love my husband. But he is a charmer. Sure, he charms me. But evidently he charms everyone else around him as well. Especially the women. I’ve been in a few relationships in my life, but can’t say that I have been in any before where I am pretty much invisible. I can sit down to visit with any number of our female acquaintances, and basically be ignored for up to two hours while they direct all of their eye contact, all of their questions, all of their laughter, and all of their dialogue at my husband. It cracks me up when they remember that I am there. You can see it in their eyes, “Oh, I should say something to her. But I have no idea what to say to her because I don’t understand her.” Then, bam, just as quickly as the thought of me got in the way, they are back to enjoying the light in his eyes. Ah, such is life. Disrespect. The world is rife with it these days. The course of action would be to say, “Would you like to visit with my husband alone? And why, exactly, do you introduce me along with him, as your friend?” But, really, what’s the use? At this point I have as little respect for you as you do for me. Even my husband says it is starting to get tiresome. Because, he says, when someone disrespects his wife, they disrespect him. Respect: “the condition of being esteemed or honored.”

So, it’s been a tough few years to say the least. Mainly because satan has attacked me through the people who once were the closest to me. But perhaps they weren’t as close as I thought after all. And if my standing up for myself and asserting some self-respect has cost me relationships, then maybe it is time to get new relationships. Perhaps it is not by coincidence that I find myself in a different country. And I do, actually, take ownership for some of it. For I have taught people how they may treat me. What they can, and cannot get away with. I thought I was being kind. But I wasn’t being kind, for I was only bringing a half Truth.

Still, I am not always good at assertiveness. In fact, it is my least favorite thing to do, truth be known. But it is becoming a little more a part of me every day as I realize the folly of other routes. These days the people who meet me learn pretty quickly who I am. Take it or leave it. I don’t run with crowds I have to impress anymore. I don’t run with people who aren’t impressed with me, or who haven’t got time for a little give and take.

Does this narrow my sphere of friends? Sure it does. But I would rather have one genuine friend than 10 friends who don’t respect who I am. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Still, I love those who have gone before. I pray breakthroughs in our relationships. I pray genuineness. I pray forgiveness, and God’s love to all. And to those who have gone before, I’m sorry for the confusion. Who I was twenty years ago, I am not today. Hopefully we are all constantly changing and growing.

With much love and respect.

*Note to self:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Marianne Williamson

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