- 2018Jun 12
When hate rises up, choose love.
When tempted to criticize, encourage.
When others wound, use words that heal.
When silence becomes deafening, speak beauty.
Prioritize others above self, unity over validation, humility over pride, and serving over selfishness.
In all things, at all times, reflect Jesus.
- 2018Jun 05
We’ve all got an ugly side. Some of us may hide it better than others, but it’s there, lurking, waiting for an opportune time to rise up—when we’re stressed or hungry or tired or caught off guard by something.
I like to hide mine behind smiles and all the proper Christian phrases and responses. Either that, or I try to muster up all the Christian-good within me, and by sheer will, behave as I know every loving Christian woman should. But this is a surface solution, and a highly ineffective one at that.
There’s a third option, one I used to turn to so often, my actions became a habit I perfected and that’s this—hiding. If I keep others at a distance and limit my interactions, and by all means, avoid any situations that could trigger the ugly within, then all will be fine.
I’ll be able to maintain that nice, genteel demeanor that so impresses me in other Christian woman.
But in doing that, I’ll be disobeying God’s command to love others as Christ loved me.
Love goes deep. Love risks. Love unveils.
The solution runs much deeper than painted on smiles and proper Christian behavior. If we truly want to change, to begin replacing our ugly with an inner beauty, we need to prayerfully get to the root of our actions and reactions.
Everyone has an emotional trigger, and often, that trigger is connected to an inner lie, such as:
I’m not good enough
I’m a failure
It’s also often connected to past hurts, wounds that, over time, turned to a relational “law” we’ve come to embrace, such as:
People can’t be trusted/depended upon
Everyone leaves eventually
People will only use you
I won’t get what I deserve
I won’t get what I need
Reading this list, you might notice, all of the above are grounded in fear. But God has called us to love and freedom, a love centered in freedom and a freedom fueled by love.
It’s almost ironic—our fears keep us from true love--relational intimacy, and our lack of living loved feeds our fears.
These fears and underlying lies are different for all of us, but they form the root of so many of our behaviors. The challenge, then, is to prayerfully analyze our emotions and reactions, asking and allowing God to deal with the underlying gunk we’ve allowed to fester.
Our healing and growth are centered in our relationship with Him, as we begin to receive our nourishment and fulfillment, our identity and security, in Christ, the lover of our souls.
Let me give an example. One of my core fears or “laws” is that everyone leaves eventually. This can affect my behavior in numerous ways. Either I’ll pull back at first sign of conflict, or I’ll guard my words when I should speak boldly, or perhaps I’ll act aggressively, trying to finagle the situation to avoid relational repercussions, but things never turn out the way I planned. In trying to fix or prevent an outcome or reaction, I almost always inevitably make the situation worse.
But here’s the truth. People will leave. They’ll abandon, reject, and hurt us. People might even use and manipulate us. But Christ never will. His love is constant and pure. When we rest in that, and base our identity not on what others say or don’t say, do or don’t do, but instead on who we are in Christ—in who He says we are, our hearts are given room to heal, and as they do, beauty rises up within until there’s no room for the ugly.
Let's talk about this! How do you, more consistently, live in grace, and how has that helped your relationships?
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- 2018May 29
Everyone said I’d hate this phase. That I’d grow listless, depressed. Perhaps even lose my sense of identity.
That, after eighteen years of parenting, when our daughter moved out, my world would shift so dramatically, I’d flounder and fidget and mope. And maybe buy an obscene number of cats. Or chocolate.
The latter part might be true, but I no longer have to hide in the pantry to enjoy it. In fact, I can have ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, if I choose. We can eat reclined on the couch, or go out, or do whatever else dating folks do, because in a way, it feels as if that’s what we’ve become—the dating couple. Or maybe the newlyweds, only better, because we have twenty plus years of pushing through the hard.
That kind of love doesn’t come easy, and it doesn’t come over night, but once it comes, man is it sweet. And I’ve determined to enjoy every silly, giggly, slightly-cheesy drop in this new life stage.
A couple months ago, my husband and I cleared our schedule, left all the boring aspects, like laundry and cooking, of our marriage behind for a weekend, and took off for the windy city. We chose not to rent a car and would instead travel wherever we wanted to go, whenever we wanted to get there, by foot.
It’d be so romantic. We’d stroll hand in hand through the art museum, watch the Cubbies land a win from our rooftop seats across the street, and we’d end our weekend with the best, gluten free dessert imaginable!
It rained. And not just a little. I’m talking near Noah-caliber. (Have you seen curly hair in 100% humidity?) The Cubs game was canceled, and that rooftop experience we’d paid so much money for was filled with loud, beer-sloshing drunks.
We didn’t get to do anything we planned. Except eat. We did a lot of that. And I suppose, sitting in a busy coffee shop watching the sky quite literally “rain on our parade,” I could’ve been upset. Could’ve made us both miserable in fact.
But I learned something early on in our marriage, something that’s carried me through countless moves, change of plans, and canceled events—life, and romance, is what I make it. More than that, as fun as the Cubbies and museum would’ve been, those things have nothing on my man, and when it was all said and done, I got to spend two full days and nights with my true life hero, God’s gift to me.
Perhaps this applies to empty nesting as well. Life is always changing, and our roles will constantly shift, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. To the contrary—our next role or mishap or season could be the most romantic yet!