“Baby, you need to stop getting upset at all the small things and reacting so poorly when things get hard. You have no control over what happens or how people treat you. The only thing you have the power to control is your response and attitude. You can let those small things ruin your day and ultimately lead to poor choices, or you can choose to be joyful and know in your heart that you are doing the right thing and actually growing as a person from it. I know it seems hard at times, but all you have to do is close your eyes…take a deep breath…and ask God for help. I promise, He is listening and wants to help you. You weren’t meant to do this without Him. You can’t do this without Him…”
The Same Struggles
Each word I spoke scraped several sensitive areas inside my heart before coming out of my mouth. Here I was, feeling beat down from circumstances of the day, instructing my daughter to let go of all the same little things to which I was tightly gripping. Sure, what I had been struggling with seemed to be on a greater level, but are our battles really all that different?
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to us all…”
1 Corinthians 10:12-13a
You see, friends, when we remove all the smoke and mirrors disguising the core issues, our struggles are no different than our children’s struggles. After all, fear is fear…jealousy is jealousy…insecurity is insecurity…doubt is doubt…sin is sin. I think too many times we try to justify our reactions or complicate situations more than they ought to be, when it really just comes down to the struggle between flesh and Spirit.
“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind controlled by sinful nature is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”
A Choice in the Way We Respond
So just as we give our children a choice to do what is right and respond in a Christlike way, God has given us that very same choice. We can choose to respond in our flesh and in our own strength, or we can “close our eyes…take a deep breath…and ask God for help” because “I promise, He is listening and wants to help us. We weren’t meant to do this without Him. We can’t do this without Him.”
“… And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
-I Corinthians 10:13b
“Casting all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
When I say that I love people, I mean that…I LOVE PEOPLE. Just being around new people or in a group setting gets me excited. Does anyone out there feel the same way? There is just something so fun and refreshing about seeing new faces, hearing everyone’s stories, and growing relationships. It’s truly the main reason why I love hosting large parties or get-togethers. I will invite a good chunk of my phone book, for no other reason than I genuinely want to share life with others. Sure, it may increase the budget for the party, but if there is something to celebrate, I want others to share in it with us! Why not, right?
I have always sincerely believed that the more people you surround yourself with, the more encouragement and joy there will be in your life. Truly a “the more, the merrier” mentality.
For over thirty years I have never seen a problem with being wired that way…that is, until lately. As I started to think about planning birthday parties for my kids and summer BBQs and began looking at our list of “friends” to invite, I realized that while they may be on our guest list, we may not be on theirs.
** Now, before you think that this is turning into a big ol’ pity party,I can assure you it’s not. So please don’t give up on me yet! **
Believing Lies Based on Missed Expectations
The truth is, I am a sinful human being and am guilty of reacting in my flesh frequently, so I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t initially feel hurt, betrayed, and bitter at one person’s “oversight” of my feelings. This weird encounter (which truly did nothing more than leave me feeling awkward), completely opened the floodgates of undealt with emotion from over the years. It’s as though I had a flip book of memories and times where I was hurt by a friend flipping rapidly through my mind, taking my thoughts to extremes and probably exaggerating what really happened by 1000%.
Y’all, my mind was out of control. I truly was walking with some nasty lies. Thankfully, my wonderful mentor (mom), was there to listen to me ramble as I talked myself in circles until the truth punched me in the face: IT WAS MY FAULT.
You heard (or rather, read) that right: The pain I felt was actually my fault. Why? MISSED EXPECTATIONS. Here is the hard truth I had to receive:
Any expectation I placed on another was a setup for relationship failure from the beginning.
The moment I decided what type of friend they should be to me was the moment I became less of a true friend myself. I focused on how they treated me, rather than on their heart and how I should treat them.
A Godly, yet Complicated Friendship
Of course, as with everything, the Holy Spirit oh-so-graciously reminded how I was wrong and pointed me to the Word and the friendship between Jonathan and David. You guys, talk about a complicated relationship. You can read all about it in 1 and 2 Samuel, but this passage about this one selfless act essentially sums up how Jonathan was a true friend, despite all the circumstances and trials that the two faced.
“… Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself… And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow, and his belt.”
“Clearly Saul intended for Jonathan to become the second king of Israel (1 Sam 20:30-31), but this son had other plans. In David, Jonathan saw character fit for a king. He was so determined that the throne be occupied by God’s chosen instrument that he offered everything he had…Jonathan sacrificed himself. He removed his royal regalia…and placed it on David.”
Jonathan literally gave up everything to help encourage and support his friend David in all that God had called him to be. Nowhere does it say that David ever reciprocated that love and sacrificed as Jonathan had, yet Jonathan remained loyal to his friend. Better yet, Jonathan remained loyal to God.
You see, it shouldn’t matter how others treat us.
If God has placed on our hearts to love, support, and walk with someone as a friend (Amos 3:3), we need to be faithful to that calling, not only in the good seasons, but also in the hard ones. This isn’t about how they make us feel, but rather about being who God has called each one of us to be and how we are to make others feel.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works… encouraging one another…”
I still love people and will continue to throw huge celebrations. The difference is, when I call someone friend, it holds no expectation of them. It simply acknowledges that regardless of their choices or how they may treat me, I will continue to welcome, love, and encourage them as Christ does me.
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
So what do you say, friend?
Are you willing to take the road less traveled and pursue a life of obedience to the Lord in seeking out the welfare and accomplishments of others over yourself, even if that means giving while never receiving? To be that selfless, abiding friend like Jonathan, full of love and encouragement so that he/she may pursue who God has called them to be?
To break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.”
— Jesus Culture, “Break Every Chain”
Every time I hear these powerful lyrics, I get so overwhelmed with emotion that I just begin to cry in awe and humility. I picture my four little kiddos among the thousands whom God has set apart and is forming to be mighty men and women in His army.
An Army for the Lord
How amazing is that picture? God growing an entire generation of strong and faithful believers, preachers, and evangelists who will change the world, all for His glory!
I personally get goose bumps just envisioning it…Ah! Y’all, He is going to do mighty things…I just know it!
So, I would LOVE it if I could use this time (post) to join with you in praying for all of our children. Though we may not be together in the flesh, we are together in the spirit. And that agreement in prayer has the power to move mountains.
Matthew 18:19 says:
“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”
Prayer for Our Children
Dear Heavenly Father,
First and foremost, we first want to thank You for who You are and for all that You’ve done for us. Let us not go any further with our words and requests until we acknowledge and praise You in our hearts and with our lips. for being both our Creator and Savior, Redeemer and Friend. You are the very One who gave our children the very breath in their lungs and who called them by name before they were in the womb. They are truly Yours.
Lord, please help that humble truth to just sink into the very depths of our hearts. That You have chosen us to help disciple, protect, and love these kids while they learn who You are and the specific calling on each of their lives. We ask that you please fill us with a deep spiritual wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of how to raise and teach them according to Your Word and Your will.
We ask now that you instill in each one of them specifically…
…a deep desire in their hearts to have resolve like Daniel…to live a life pleasing in your sight, even at a young age, no matter the circumstances or consequences (Daniel 1:8).
…a heart like David…that the only thing that matters to them is to dwell with You and be in Your presence all the days of their lives (Acts 13:22, Psalm 27:4).
…unwavering loyalty to You and Your Word, just like Josiah (2 Kings 23:25).
…that they understand the importance of Your truth and that they not look to the left nor the right, but straight towards Your glory and building Your kingdom (2 Chronicles 34:2).
Elyon, our God Most High, we are so grateful that You hear our prayers. We want to obey what Your Word says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and “pray continually” for our children on a daily basis. Give us faith, trust, and confidence in You as Hannah had as she dedicated Samuel’s entire life to You…
“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD…”
(1 Samuel 1:27-28)
We ask all of this in Your precious and holy name,
Thank you so much friendsfor allowing me the opportunity to join you inprayer for our sweet babes. I am so thankful for each one of you. I pray sweet blessings over you and your family today!
“…True prayer is measured by weight, not by length. A single groan before God may have more fullness of prayer in it than a fine oration of great length.”
‘This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said,
‘I will give it to your descendants.’
I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.’”
– Deuteronomy 34:4
I have read this passage about God speaking to Moses multiple times. Every time, all I have ever seen was the love of God as He let Moses actually see the Promised Land even though he wouldn’t be able to enter into it (Numbers 20:12). Blame it on my optimism or my view of God, but I have never looked beyond that sweet act of mercy. It was almost as if God had told Moses:
“I made a promise years ago and you have always trusted in that promise.
You may not have understood where I was leading you, but you always followed.
I led you into a land of unknown for forty years and you never stopped seeking Me.
It is because of this that I will show you what I said was true.
I want you to know, my son, that I always have been and always will be faithful to my people.”
How could you not be overwhelmed with the grace and love of God in that moment? He is so good to us even though we don’t deserve it. Because of this great truth, I looked at the passage differently last week when I read it. I could not help but look beyond God’s blessing and look at God Himself, as Moses did. Even though he knew he would not inherit the blessing of the Promised Land, he continued to trust and serve the Lord. Just knowing God was enough reason for Moses to obey all those years spent wandering in the wilderness. It didn’t matter where he was going or what God would give him in the end. If God said “Go,” Moses started walking.
Of course, God, in all his perfect timing, placed this truth on my heart in a season where there are many unknowns and uncertainties of what lies ahead. In a season like this, doubt and fear can easily infiltrate my heart if I do not hold on to God’s promises. Friend, if you find yourself in the same season of life, my hope and prayer is that these words the Lord placed on my heart would also encourage you…
“I made a promise years ago and I need you to trust in that promise.
You may not understand where I am leading you, but I need you to follow.
While I lead you into a land of the great unknown, never stop seeking Me.
I will show you what I said was true.
I want you to know, my daughter, that I always have been and always will be faithful to my people.”
“Now the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”
It’s there, in the scriptures.
From the very beginning we are told that it’s not good for us to be alone and that we need help. But here we are, living in a world of self-help books, self-made millionaires, and selfie sticks. Friends, what makes us think that doing life alone is better than God’s plan of unity and community? Why do we think that being independent in our own strength is better than being dependent on His strength?
I’ll be the first to say that I am guilty of falling for the lie that says we need to be completely independent in order to be strong and successful, and that asking for help is a sign of weakness or vulnerability. In fact, for most of my life, I prided myself on the ability to learn and accomplish things without the help of others, whether it be in school, work, or sports. That pride was rooted so deep in me that it drove me to do things on my own rather than ask or accept help from those around me–even if I needed it. Sure, I was able to achieve goals and even feel accomplished and successful at times, but what was missing from my life was far greater than I realized.
Fooled into Thinking I Was Independent
When I left for out-of-state college right after high school, I was fooled into thinking that I was completely independent and free to make any choices I wanted, without needing the direction of anyone…including the Holy Spirit. I felt as though I was wise and strong enough to stand on my own and that there was no real immediate need for church, discipleship, and/or even community with strong believers. After all, up to this point I hadn’t faced much adversity, really only joy and fulfillment. My thought process was essentially, “I got this. I know who I am. I’ll make the right decisions for me.” But in reality, the only thing I had was a false sense of security, confidence, and a lack of true identity.
“In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” Psalm 10:4
“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.” Proverbs 26:12
The result of my disastrous decision making and my “independence” led me to a place where Isaiah 23:9 became a reality in my life…
“The LORD Almighty planned it, to bring down her pride in all her splendor and to humble…”
The Truth of My Success
God had to aggressively, yet lovingly, break off this lie and pride I was walking under by allowing me to make my own poor choices which led to some pretty hard consequences and a lot of pain. Unfortunately, the season of growing and sifting took several years, millions of tears, and a few broken hearts. But He had to remind me that apart from Him, I was nothing. That all those years of blessing, protection, and grace from my parents and others were indeed His doing, not my own. That while I was thinking my “success” was because of my skill and drive, it was really because He was gracious in filling all the gaps I missed and patching up the holes I made.
You see, I was never doing it on my own. I might have not seen it because I was so focused on myself, but I was being helped daily, regardless if I wanted it or not. That’s the amazing thing about a loving God, He doesn’t just leave us to take life on by ourselves…even if that’s what we think we want.
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
“…He will never leave you nor forsake you…”
“My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth”
Depend on God for True Joy
Friends, whether we like to admit it or not, we need God’s help in everything we say and do. We need to depend on Him and His strength, not our own. Otherwise, we will lead a life of false contentment and at best, temporary delight. True fulfillment and everlasting joy can only come from complete humility, obedience and dependence on the Lord.
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand”
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
So what do you say? Are you willing to…
…humble yourself and admit you are nothing apart from Him?
…accept His help, whether in the form of correction or the simple support of a friend?
…be found weak in your own strength, so that you may be found strong in His?