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Jennifer Slattery Christian Blog and Commentary

Jennifer Slattery

Author and speaker Jennifer Slattery has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As Founder and President of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. She’s spoken to women’s groups and at conferences across the nation, is the author of six contemporary novels and is the managing and acquisitions editor of Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at JenSlatte.

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He was late, again. No phone call. No “I’m sorry.” Nothing but me pacing the kitchen, glancing from the phone to the overcooked dinner crackling on the stove. At this point, I’d do better to throw it out, grab our daughter and head to a restaurant for a nice relaxing meal, just the two of us.

Just the two of us.

And now we get to the root of the issue, because it’s never just about burned dinners and unmade phone calls. Rather, it’s the dots we connect between each event, the interpretations we make of every statement and one line email. To my young, tired, and insecure mind, all of the inconsiderateness spoke a convincing and heartbreaking story—he doesn’t love you.

My response? To fret and fume and work myself into the teary-eyed mess that met him at the door with harsh words and accusations.

I effectively pushed my tired and defeated husband further away, adding crack after crack to his breaking heart. And yes, his heart was breaking, as much as mine was: I was just too caught up in my own emotional tsunami to notice. I was convinced he was the problem, and so, rather than turning to God for wisdom, rather than searching my heart for my part, I ranted. And complained. And begged God to change him, to make him into everything Ineeded.

This went on for some time, each of us erecting stronger walls to hide behind, filtering every conversation through a mountain of hurt and distrust, while our marriage continued to disintegrate. Until one day, one sentence, spoken by a courageous Bible study leader and friend, sliced through my sense of entitlement.

It’d been a rough day, though not one I’d call atypical for a mom of a little one. By this point, I had developed a me-against-my-husband mentality as I, daily, fought to get my needs met. I was frustrated, hurt, and oh-so-lonely. Bible study—sitting around a table talking with other women, all of us child-free for a blessed two hours—had also become about me. A place and time to fill my deep emotional well.

I joined my friends already present and launched straight into my woes. I don’t remember what I said, but I know it wasn’t good. It wasn’t lovely or pure or praiseworthy or worthy of respect. (Phil. 4:8-9) Somewhere in my rant, I must have used the phrase, “I deserve …”

Our leader, a strong and direct policeman’s wife, folded her arms on the table and leaned forward, her eyes locking on to mine. “You deserve death.”

I blinked as her words took hold, and in that moment, my every thought centered on grace—the grace I had received when Jesus Christ willingly gave His life for me.

Yes, I deserved death, and I’d been given life. Somehow, that reminder changed everything. It took the sting out of my woman gazing toward the sky with sunset in the backgroundanger and softened my heart, sparking a desire, ever so tiny, to reveal the love that had been lavished upon me.

Around this time, I started reading a book called The Way of Agape. In it, the author encouraged us to take our hurts to God and ask Him to love our spouses through us. I began to do just that, keeping a direct venting line open between God and myself. My prayers were a mess, but my heart grew more and more at peace. More importantly, our marriage began to heal as God began to love my husband through me. And as He did, a beautiful thing happened—God began to love me through my husband as well.

It’s been about 15 years since I made that choice—the choice to die to myself so that God could live more consistently through me. Fifteen years of vacations and anniversaries, of family dinners and romantic date nights. And if I had it to do again, there’s only one thing I’d change, and that’s giving in to God’s agape way of love sooner.

In what ways has venting to God (rather than others) helped you move past a hurt and into healing? Do you have any examples you can share? Or maybe you’re in a tough marriage now. In what ways does prayer help you stay emotionally strong? What are some other ways you stay close to God during relationally tough times?

Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage each other!

Before you go, I encourage you to sign up for my free, quarterly newsletter to receive devotions, short stories, recipes, and more sent directly to your inbox. When you sign up, you'll also receive a free, 36-lesson study (ebook, sent separately) that springs from 1 Timothy. You can sign up HERE

Maybe it’s always this way, or perhaps I’m just more alert this year, but everywhere I look, I see stress. Anxiety. Depression. Grieving. Hard stuff. And coming straight out of Christmas with a slew of unmet expectations, many feel depleted and defeated.

There’s a lot of pressure over the holidays, isn’t there? Not just on Christmas day, but the entire month of December and bleeding into January. Actually, the pressure increases exponentially in the new year, when, after coming to terms with all our faults, all our failed newyearsresolutionpicefforts to do better or love more or spend less or whatever–we determine to try again. To make a plan this time, and maybe even to write that on a slip of paper, turning our goals into New Year’s resolutions.

Because then we’re sure to keep them, right? ha!

Am I the only one that finds this cycle exhausting and self-defeating?

What if we did away with resolutions all together and instead, determined to walk just a little closer to Jesus each day. What if, instead of drawing this line in the sand, stating that, starting January 2nd, everything will be different, we focused on moving forward? Taking small but steady steps?

Because, honestly, that first step is the hardest. In fact, it’s hard enough, without adding a bunch of expectation to it.

But once we take that first step, every step after becomes easier.

So what’s the first step? For me, meditating on and praying Scripture, because I’m convinced, the more I think like Jesus, the more I act like Jesus. Perhaps you’ve heard it this way: Right thinking equals right actions.

Meditating on Scripture is more than reading a passage in the morning then going about one’s day. It means pausing to really take God’s Words in, praying that He’ll help us live it, and repeating these steps throughout the day.

Eventually, God’s Words will become a part of us–internalized, and He’ll use them to newyearsthoughtsspeak to us, to guide and correct us, and before we know it, our behaviors have changed and we’ve become a bit more like our Savior.

This year, this is my plan, and I’m not waiting until January first to begin. Starting today, I’m determined to lean in a bit closer to Christ, to carve out consistent time throughout the day to connect with Him, and to allow His Words to penetrate deep, changing me from the inside out. (Romans 12:1-2) I invite you to join me.

 

There's little more frustrating than looking back on a busy, tiring day and realizing you've accomplished nothing. Or at least, nothing of value. Or to embark on a task, perhaps seven or eight times in a day, only to be distracted, seven or eight times.

We all have those days, right? Times when our lack of focus, lack of prioritizing, eats up our productivity. But we mustn't let those times of distraction and futility, of wasted effort, become a norm. We all have countless opportunities set before us each day, sometimes even great opportunities, eternally impacting opportunities, but that doesn't mean each one is for us.

God has carved out a unique path for each one of us. He's created us, gifted us, molded and equipped us, to fill a very specific role. I love how Ephesians 2:10 puts it: "For you are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus to do the good things He planned for us long ago" (NLT). We are God's masterpiece! That word grabs me every time. As does the ending of the verse, "He planned for us long ago."

This reminds me that God has a plan, a very good and very specific plan, for my life. My role is to discover that plan and follow it with everything within me, resisting the constant pull to be everything to everyone. Rather, I am to give everything--my time, energy, thoughts, and actions--to the Son. Proverbs 4:25-27 says "Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on that safe path. Don't get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil" (NLT).

This verse speaks of determined focus, of perseverance, of intentionality. Of zeroing in on whatever it is Christ is calling me to do each day. Which implies taking the time to discover what He's calling me to do. Which in turn implies taking the time to prayerfully read His Word each morning.

Let's talk about this! What about you? What is God calling you to do? Raise your children or grandchildren to love and honor Christ? Reveal Christ's love and grace in your work place? Serve in a church ministry with excellence? Are you doing that with focus, perseverance, and intentionality? Are you giving your whole self to that task, or have you allowed nonessentials to leave you divided? What time-sappers have you allowed in your day that hinder your effectiveness? Share your thoughts here in the comments below

You might also be interested in: Are the Little Things Really Little?  In the Little Things Called and Accountable by Henry T. Blackaby and Norman C. Blackaby

I also encourage you to sign up for my free quarterly newsletter, which is packed with great stuff--a serial story, short stories, recipes, devotions, and more!

If you enjoyed today's post, you might also like The Imperfect Perfect Christmas and Squelching Our Inner Martha This Christmas. I also encourage you to sign up for my free, quarterly newsletter to receive devotions, short stories, recipes, and more sent directly to your inbox. When you sign up, you'll also receive a free, 36-lesson study (ebook, sent separately) that springs from 1 Timothy. You can sign up HERE