Not Mine

photo-1444167827109-712640e22c8e“I want to love and trust God so much that I have no problem letting go of what he’s temporarily given to me to care for and love.”

It’s easier said than done, but I wrote it during one of the darkest times of my life. Being torn apart in the temporary feels devastating, yet it can clarify what is eternal. It can solidify what is certain.

There is much in our lives that is not ours. We are deeply invested – and need to be in order to learn, grow, help, serve – and loss and separation feel horrific, yet it is far from the end. Giving over what is temporary can position us to see and receive what is lasting. But we have to live with open minds, hearts, and hands. That invites hurt and loss but also truth and peace.

Lose to Win

photo-1497030947858-3f40f1508e84God’s mercy allowed me to lose my marriage and see that God is enough.

No matter the loss you are experiencing today, God is enough.

We want the comforts of life as we know, appreciate, prefer them. When that is upended, we can’t imagine the loss making a way for something else worthy. We may never see the loss as clearing the way for something better. We still hurt and grieve. But we also appreciate God’s provision and comfort. We experience his strength in the healing, growth in the pruning, affirmation in the humility.

We can find contentment despite the chaos. Not because of who we are or what we’ve done but because of who God is and who he created us to become.

Winning can cause loss, and losing can cause gain.

Space

photo-1490805981889-3fdd44cec18aSpace is an odd thing. In the brief time between when my soon-to-be-ex announced he wanted a divorce and I moved out, I wrote: “Space. Sometimes I feel smothered and in desperate need of space. Sometimes there is so much space, and I feel smothered by it.”

Space – the presence or lack of it – can feel smothering. But it also brings comfort as we find peace in it. Space invites truth and hope into our lives. It can also invite a lot of other things into our lives. Just opening the door to space isn’t good. An open heart and mind can just as easily invite negative influences and experiences as positive. Yet keeping our minds and hearts closed keeps it all out.

Space requires a filter. Without a filter, space can smother us in more ways than one. With a filter, space provides for us. God gives us freedom, conviction, accountability, discipline, truth, and hope in and through space. But it is only when we trust God to provide and use the space that we can move forward into and through it.

Cleaning Therapy

photo-1451443700141-5ddb6d85a8fcI’ve had plenty of opportunities to clean lately. To me, cleaning is therapeutic. It’s productive. It’s…cleansing.

One of the things I missed when I moved out of the house where I had lived with my soon-to-be-ex was cleaning. Cleaning and mowing. We had a big house and a big yard – two things I don’t want to care for on my own but two things I have missed at times.

But it’s okay. I find other ways to be productive. Like helping my girls clean the rentals they recently moved out of as they bought their first homes. Cleaning is a way I can serve others. We all live messy lives, but as I clean, I pray over the lives of people who have lived and will live in the same space. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to clean my soon-to-be-ex’s house when I moved out. He might have shoved me out of his life, but I could still show respect in the way I walked away. He had enough mess in his life; if I could leave one aspect of it clean, I would. Just as I prayed for the new people who would move into my girls’ houses as I cleaned, I did the same at my old house. Because in a way, someone I didn’t know would be living there. I had known him but now I didn’t. But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t pray for and show respect for him. So, I cleaned up as much of the mess as I could.

Talk About It – Or Don’t

photo-1496048592483-dccd5e0b197bSome people want to talk about certain things incessantly. Others refuse to discuss certain topics. Both approaches can damage relationships. I’ve watched it happen and personally experienced it recently.

We all need space to breathe. We need the freedom peace allows, but freedom also involves, and even requires, truth. We need honesty even when it’s difficult. Honesty should always invite compassionate accountability.

I’ve watched the effects of people who refuse to ask for and face the truth of a situation. I understand such insulation might feel good to the individual and might even be essential for a short time, but what impact does it have on others? What example does it set for those who follow?

The way we seek, face, and share truth ripples through the lives of our families, friends, and even bystanders we might not notice. Especially when we claim to seek and follow truth, people notice how willing we are to search, sift, and claim it. Sweeping things under the rug creates tripping hazards for ourselves and others.

How we handle truth, including our avoidance of it, reveals our priorities of relationships. We might claim to care for others yet rationalize our refusal to face truth, claiming it is for our own or others’ benefits. We want peace for ourselves or someone else but peace isn’t the same as undisturbed comfort. Peace requires effort, humility, courage, and sacrifice.

Consider your care for others. Does your claim about your love for them and your actions contradict one another? What are you willing to sacrifice? Do you insist on your own way or invite someone else’s way, perhaps for no other reason than to reveal your abundant care for him or her?

Seek truth, not just the pieces that are convenient. Love well. So well you have the courage to ask tough questions, discern the truth, and encourage accountability. Refuse to sweep one more piece under the rug. Even if you and others have gotten good at stepping over and around the baggage for now, if you don’t deal with it, it will eventually trip you up – and others.

Plug It In

photo-1508920291026-c344bbfca1abI jumped on my usual treadmill and pressed the start key as I straddled the belt for steadiness while I adjusted my ear buds. I like the belt to be moving at my preferred pace so I can jump on and get moving immediately. There’s something a bit thrilling to me about the sudden shift from standing still to quick-paced walking.

But this time, nothing moved. No lights brightened the display.

I checked the safety connector. I pressed the start key again. Nothing. I began to gather my things to move to my second-choice treadmill.

“Check the cord,” someone nearby suggested.

Of course. No power source. I wasn’t connected.

It happens often. We disconnect from our power source or try to connect to the wrong type of power. We try to power through on our own. We get confused as to why things aren’t moving along as expected. We decide to move. Yet there is a simpler solution. Not easy, just simpler. We still have to put forth some effort; we need to use the tools we’re given. We need to stay connected.

How connected are you to the trustworthy power source?

50

photo-1520970014086-2208d157c9e2I turned 50 yesterday. It was a good day.

Someone I love gave me a new journal. I turned the front cover and wrote 50 words that describe me and my life.

  1. fulfilled
  2. purposeful
  3. anticipatory
  4. grateful
  5. faith-filled
  6. reflective
  7. humbled
  8. healing
  9. uncertain
  10. pursued
  11. beloved
  12. invested
  13. determined
  14. focused
  15. audacious
  16. still
  17. marked
  18. passionate
  19. burdened
  20. forgiven
  21. destined
  22. unworthy
  23. worthy
  24. together
  25. enough
  26. more
  27. changed
  28. leaning
  29. listening
  30. surviving
  31. attentive
  32. vocal
  33. patient
  34. called
  35. fractured
  36. whole
  37. trusting
  38. discerning
  39. renewed
  40. hopeful
  41. joyful
  42. equipped
  43. strong
  44. assertive
  45. sharing
  46. diligent
  47. sincere
  48. adaptable
  49. cheerful
  50. attentive

I look forward to the next page.