Peace by Peace

Plenty of people in this world walk around putting on heirs.  They pretend to be so happy with where they are in their life, when in actuality, their actions tell quite a different story.  Whether it’s nasty behaviors toward most people they come in contact with for no other reason than the fact that they are miserable inside, or judgmental talk about just about everyone in their lives, the hubris seeps out through every pore until you barely recognize who you’re dealing with anymore.   They have themselves convinced they’re living under the guise of honesty, and cannot recognize that their words and actions don’t match their proclamations.  I am a firm believer that our behavior is the best reflection of our true character.  We can talk a certain way, but if our walk doesn’t match that talk, it falls on deaf ears.

I am, in no way, a perfect human being.  I have never claimed to be in my lifetime.  I fall short  But I know who I am – a child of the King who forgives me for my shortcomings and meets me where I am at.  His love is fresh and new for me every day, and I don’t have to every worry about disappointing Him, because His love never fails.

I also know my responsibility as His child – to love Him, and to love others and I love myself.  See that last word – myself – it’s bold and underlined for a reason.  Often times we leave off this key word.  Jesus was asked specifically by the Pharisees what the greatest commandment in the Law was, to which He answered love God, but the second portion of the answer is where we get hung up.  Matthew 22:39 says,” 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  First we are charged to love our neighbor – ALL of them – not just our white neighbor, our Christian neighbor, our young neighbor, our cool neighbor, our nice neighbor, our conservative neighbor, our straight neighbor,  our non-addict neighbor, our sober neighbor….but ALL OUR NEIBHBORS.

And the next part…here’s the deal-breaker.   To love the way God loves, I have to love me first.  This isn’t selfish or haughty, it’s just plain fact.  If I have issues with me, I can’t love like God loves.  If I don’t feel worthy, I can’t love like God loves.  If I have issues with forgiveness, or hate, or self-loathing, or identity, or relationships, or bitterness, or self-control, or selfishness…it is impossible to love like God loves.  Because God does not struggle with these issues, plain and simple.  So until we can lay these issues down at the feet of our Father, we cannot love as we are asked to do, thereby fulfilling the greatest command.

We can walk around thinking we’ve arrived all we want, talking up a good talk, telling all who will listen that we are Christians, but until we’ve laid all down all our junk, we’re nothing more than clanging cymbals in the ears of those around us.  God knows we’re not fooling Him.

My prayer is for a time when we all – us and ALL our neighbors – love ourselves and each other enough to step forward in unity.  We’ve spent far too much time looking at differences.  Far too much wasted time.

Love God ~ Love others as yourself


I’m Fine…I’m Running as Fast as I Can

“It’s only when we admit our un-fine moments that people can actually get to us to help us.”

I am a stubborn human woman.  I know, it’s shocking to hear, but I have learned over the course of my life to be fairly self-reliant.   I don’t ask for help for much of anything, and when I do, I have to be darn near death.  What I have learned, in times when I expected help to be there, was that people will always fail you.  People will hurt you, disappoint you, even crush you if given the opportunity.  So why on earth would I want to place myself in a position where I am actually asking for support, needing another person to raise me up?  To me, it just seems like you’re asking for trouble, and I certainly don’t need more trouble in my life.

And then I began this transformation…this recent self-reflection of who I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m headed.  And I’ve realized over the last few years that some changes need to be made if I want to achieve the happiness I desire, with the people I want in my life and stability, all wrapped with a nice big bow.  So I’ve been trying these changes on for size, one at a time, and seeing how they work for me.  You see, no one gets to be who they are by accident.  I’m not this stubborn, independent woman by accident, but absolutely by situation, dictated by the events in my life that demanded I either adapt or die.  For the most part I like who I am, and strange as it may sound, I wouldn’t change most of the events that happened in my past – they all occurred to mold me into who I am today.  Sure, do I wish I could be who I am without those traumas…well, yeah!  But I understand that God’s purpose behind each and every trial we face is to mold our character, not to harm us, and to make us reach closer to Him.

But I’m also learning that how I coped with these events just a few years ago might have functioned perfectly fine then, but for where I’m headed, they are not quite so functional anymore.  And I want to change – which is the biggest victory of all.  So I’ve been working very hard to acknowledge the areas that might need tweaking, or a small sledgehammer, and have been eager to work on those areas and test them out.  But even with all this work and support from a phenomenal therapist, there are times I feel like that small, scared little girl trapped in the grown-up body, cowering in the corner, alone and afraid, just wanting someone in my corner, saying they are with me and talking me through what’s happening.

That was this past Tuesday.  Court…again.  Sometimes I think I’m so grown and strong, but court…lately it brings me to my knees every time.  The atmosphere, the environment, the reason I’m there – it crushes my spirit faster than anything else I can imagine.  I knew before I went I should bring moral support – but felt embarrassed to ask someone to subject themselves to that ugliness.  After all, it’s my junk…I loathe being there, why would I ask a friend to endure what I can barely stand?  But that morning, I heard God telling me to simply ask – and so in obedience, I did just that…at 8 am.  I sent a group text to my friends – the ones I know I can count on…and in God-like fashion, they responded.  Why it continues to surprise me, I should really be ashamed.  Two separate friends rallied, while those who couldn’t sent their words of encouragement and prayers.  I felt so very loved and protected in those moments – it brings me to tears again just recalling the texts.

At court, ‘they’ were there first, but knowing I had support on the way, I held my head high.  I didn’t feel anxiety as I usually do.  I was receiving texts of support all the while until my first dear friend arrived.  And we just chatted and passed the time – the LONG time – visiting and forgetting where we were, which made me so at ease.  Then my 2nd friend arrived, and it was like a party of privilege, with just us 3 as the only attendees.  We joked and laughed and had a great time – almost completely oblivious to where we were.  God was truly with us, and I was certainly blessed.

As the business at hand finally began, it was unproductive and difficult, as predicted, but I wasn’t afraid or uptight.  I conducted myself in a pleasant manner, as I usually do, and his actions spoke for themselves, as they typically do.  When we were finished with the Judge, I simply walked out as if ‘they’ didn’t matter, and left, emotionally tired but not defeated.  There will be more battles to endure, but I am now confident that if I actually trust to call on my friends, they will rally to that call and be there for me when I need them – I just have to choose to let them.

God never intended for us to live this life alone – John 15:13 states…

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Here God is referencing more than a friendship, but a love relationship between us and Him, and in turn, between us and those around us.  His greatest command to us is to love one another; when it’s the hardest thing to do, when they don’t ask for it, when they hurt you, when they don’t talk to you for years & years, when they laugh in your face, when they try to kill you, when they destroy your reputation – there is no stipulation on loving one another.  Jesus loved prostitutes and murderers – are we under any less of an obligation than He was?

So I’m trying a radical new approach – praying for ‘him.’  There was a time he loved Jesus, when he wasn’t so lost, when he knew the right choices to make.  I decided a long, long time ago not to carry around hate – it’s useless, heavy baggage with no purpose and it only impacts me.   I’m certainly not going to start now.  Lay down my life?  Not quite yet, but I’ll keep up with the prayer and let you know how that works out…

Love is Patient, Love is Kind…

How many times have we been to a wedding and heard this all too familiar passage? But the better question is, how many times did we actually listen to the words, absorb them, let them reach our brain, our heart?

After a few years of ugliness that I wouldn’t dare write about here, I have met someone who epitomizes this passage – really – and has stopped me in my tracks and made me realize that perhaps until now I never experienced love or even known how to truly love myself. I want to soak these words in, breathe them, comprehend them in my DNA so I can return this kind of love – not only as the example Jesus would have us give, but for my new special someone…who each day is helping me find the me that was lost under a mountain of rubble.

Love is patient: Patience is not just for your children. Patience is for everyone – the driver who cuts you off in traffic, the new cashier who’s checking you out when you are in a hurry, a mentally challenged person who needs a moment of your time…there are no parameters on who we are to be patient with and to what degree. If we are being loving, we are patient, period.

Love is kind: This one would seem fairly straight forward, but the number of times I encounter people in my day who have lost the art of human kindness makes my heart sad. A simple “Good Morning” in passing, holding the elevator door for someone you see approaching, allowing someone to go in front of you in line…simple gestures, split seconds of time, but all things that have such a huge impact in the day of someone who needs a little lift.

Love does not brag, boast or envy: This one can be a bit confusing. Basically, love cares more about the other person that itself. It doesn’t eat the last scoop of her favorite ice cream, but offers it to her, with chocolate syrup, without saying a word. It gives him the better pillow on the bed, then snuggles up close to share it with him.

Love is not easily angered, nor does it keep a record of wrong-doings: This might be the most difficult one for us as human beings. When we are hurt, we get angry…we’re human; it’s a biological reaction. But what we choose to do next only serves to compound the problem. We hang on to that anger…and we stew on it…and we let it fester…and we don’t discuss it with our loved one, until suddenly it’s a huge raw ugly area of pain that cannot be remedied with the best of care.

And ultimately when we do that, we hurt US…the ones who hold the anger. We drink more poison each day we hold that anger. And our hearts die a little bit more each day, along with our love. And we secretly distance ourselves from our loved one, without them even knowing it. And walls go up, and little things spark new arguments, and suddenly nothing is ‘done right’…a slow fade. And we throw out every tiny bad thing that ever happened since birth…and hurtful words are exchanged, things we’d never say in the light of love…but things we can’t ever take back. The damage is done.

Love does not celebrate injustice, but rejoices in the truth:
But what if instead, when our feelings were hurt, we spoke up in love? We told our partner what happened, trusting we could share our heart and not be hurt? What if we resolved feelings as they happened, instead of piling them up like dirty laundry in the corner? This is how true love is meant to function. Walking in truth, side by side, sharing the good and the bad. Being there…really being there for our love regardless of the cost to ourselves.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things: This line is supposed to be the post inspiring part…that no matter what life throws at us, we can count on our love. When we dare to dream big, love supports those dreams. When the bottom falls out, love holds us up when we cannot stand. When crisis strikes, love is the glue that holds us together. Love is the standard by which everything else is measured.

Love never fails: And here’s the most challenging part. Can we live up to that standard? Can we stand by one person, loving them, with the patience we should afford any stranger, with basic human kindness we would like bestowed upon us, caring always more about their needs than our own, forgiving the small hurts and being willing to quickly discuss the larger ones, staying when things are incredible high and equally devastatingly low? This is love…that we would give up ourselves for our partner. And never, ever stop…

Until recently, and except from my Heavenly Father, I have not seen this example displayed…ever. I have lived on this earth almost 46 years, and I have learned more about loving in the last few weeks that I have known my whole life.

I choose to be excited for the incredible relationship I get to partake in. I am humbled by the display of kindness and compassion, integrity and devotion lain out before me. I am happy and full of joy – a life I was meant to live.

For anyone digging out from their own rubble pile, I give you these word of hope:  You are worth more. Someone is digging toward you. Don’t stop hoping.