The Pain of Numb

photo-1461468611824-46457c0e11fdI know so many people who want to numb the pain in one way or another, but pain is an important indicator. If we constantly numb it, we ignore the warnings and reality check of what is going on in our lives and what we need to deal with. We lose precious time in honing healthy coping strategies. Avoidance may provide short-term relief, but it is not a long-term solution.

What pain do you need to face today?

Be honest about it, and respond.

Be Still and Know

be-stillBeing still isn’t complacency. We can approach stillness in a couple ways:

Sleep or Steep

We can choose to disengage and passively expect God to do it all – to give us strength, direction, comfort, provision. And of course, he is abundantly giving. He wants us to rest in his presence but not sleep through it. When we are awake, he wants us to be attentive to him.

Instead of sleep, we can steep.

We can soak in his presence. When we focus on what he can do for us, our expectations can get in the way of our relationship with God. Like our earthly relationships, when we focus more on what the other person should/hasn’t/won’t do, our expectations will rarely be met, and the relationship will always suffer because it won’t feel like enough.

The same happens with our relationship with God. We get complacent in our engagement yet demanding in our expectations. And our relationship with God suffers.

But when we steep in his presence, we deepen our relationship.

We know God better and trust him more. Of course, it’s a process with rise and fall, but steeping helps us take on the character of God. It settles into our souls and changes us. It enriches and satisfies us.

Being still is more of a soul posture than a physical experience. No matter where you are or what you’re doing today, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Gold Lines of Grace

kintsugi-bowls-9I’ve written about the art of kintsugi before; it’s the practice of repairing broken pottery with gold (or other precious metals). Instead of tossing aside something that is broken, kintsugi approaches the brokenness and the process of repair as a part of the history of the object, something that makes it more beautiful and more valuable.

When one of my friends recently sent me a text to remind me of the strength and beauty of kintsugi, it was perfect timing. When I have seen these pieces in museums and stores, I have stood and stared for several minutes. The beauty and uniqueness mesmerizes me.

We are all broken, fractured into pieces. We all end up with different pieces and shapes and lines of gold, but those lines of gold are God’s grace. His precious gift strengthens and beautifies what some would say is too broken. And I am thankful.

 

Take the Pressure Off

How-to-Relieve-Christmas-PressureToday is Christmas.

Whether you have anticipated it or dreaded it, be patient with yourself and others today.

Whether you spend the day with family and friends or you are alone, choose joy and peace.

Whether the day goes as you prefer or planned or not, be grateful.

Refuse to expect perfection. Refuse to be disappointed when that person offends or ignores you again. Refuse to let the pain of the year override the possibility of new memories. Refuse to make today about yourself. Refuse to focus on the negative. Yet also refuse to compartmentalize this day and swallow the pain just to put on a brave face and stay comfortable. Let yourself shed a few tears if needed. Perhaps more than a few. Listen more than you talk. Be willing to share a piece of your heart. Be honest with others. Give a hug. Share a smile.

Be generous.

God certainly was, is, and will be.

Let’s

92881749Sometimes I use the word “let’s” to spur God in the direction I want to go. As I talk with him, I say such things as “Let’s get this over with,” “Let’s be strong,” or “Let’s move on.” But I need to let him direct our “let’s.”

Let us.

It means we’ll do something together.

He’s the primary guide.

He makes the best suggestions and prompts in the best timing.

My intentions might be good (most of the time), but his are better.

I’m ready, God. Let’s take the next step together. How about you lead?

 

A Walmart Run-In

It has been a tough morning. I went to church, and it was filled with bittersweetness. I was teary and tired, but I needed to buy some groceries, so I decided to push myself and go to Walmart. I’d just “run in.”

That’s what we all say, right?

kai-oberhauser-224745I hoped I wouldn’t run into people who wanted to talk. I wasn’t in the mood. I love people, but sometimes I don’t like interacting much with them. Perhaps you can relate.

The store was crowded, but I somehow didn’t run into anyone I knew well. I was even able to help a few people find what they needed. I am a “mission shopper,” so I appear to know what I’m doing and where I’m going; therefore, I tend to get the “Do you happen to know where…” question often. I don’t mind a bit. Even when I’m irritable, helping people becomes a soothing salve to my heart.

I checked out and breathed a sigh of relief: no run-ins.

Just as I was leaving, someone I knew walked in. I hadn’t seen her for a while, and I enjoyed our light chatter for a minute. Then I asked her a question about how something was going in her life – something I’d encouraged her through in the past. She teared up. We talked. Then she asked me a question. And I teared up and explained. People walked in and out around us, but it felt like we were the only two people in the world in those few minutes. We laughed at ourselves through our tears. I invited her to a study group meeting that week, and we hugged and thanked each other for a willingness to stop and authentically share and listen.

When we saw each other later that week at group, we both smiled. Neither of us was in the mood to talk that day. Neither of us planned to cry in Walmart. But we were thankful.

Sometimes, unwanted run-ins are just what we need.

God provides, and we get to experience the sweetness of that provision when we’re available and willing.

Love for Friends

pureloveblogGreater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

What a sweet sentiment—having a friend who would lay down his or her life for us. Who wouldn’t want that? So, we use this verse to let our friends know how important they are to us. That’s beautiful and touching, but it’s not exactly what this verse tells us.

Jesus spoke these words. He really did lay down his life for us. And by “us,” I don’t mean just the people who hung out with him. Remember, Jesus tells us to love our neighbors and love our enemies. That’s the same love through which He laid down His life. He died while carrying the burden of our sins, because it’s a burden we couldn’t bear and overcome. He covered our sins, because we can’t actually cover them; we just have to deal with them if we try to do it on our own. His love is powerful. And he laid down His life.

There’s something else in this verse, and it’s what causes us to use it as a friendship commitment and reassurance verse. Of course, it’s the word “friend.” Jesus actually calls those around him “friends.” Not subjects, servants, followers. Friends.

In the Old Testament, only Abraham and, by implication, Moses, are called friends of God.

Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? (2 Chronicles 20:7)

But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend. (Isaiah 41:8)

Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent. (Exodus 33:11)

Then, in this verse in the New Testament, Jesus extends the claim of friendship to all believers, those who obediently follow Him. Spiritual friendship is not to be taken lightly. We can’t take what we have experienced in earthly friendships and project that onto our relationship with Jesus, assuming we’ll have the same experiences, rights, disappointments, etc. He is a friend like no other. Because of that, He gets to define friendship. He becomes the standard.

Does being friends with Jesus mean we can have fun with Him? Absolutely! God fills our lives with joy, and He gives us vast freedoms. We often make faith about what we can’t do, but it’s so much more about what we can. No rationalizing, just live in loving obedience, and you’ll find abiding love in the freedom of faith.

Does being friends with Jesus mean we get what we want? Yes…and no. When we truly live fully in God’s love, we want what He wants in our lives. His desires become our desires. We yield and trust Him to consume our thoughts and actions, so when we ask for something, it is within His will because of what He desires, not because of our distortion of His desires. If we’re asking for ourselves without letting God drive our requests, without residing in the center of His will, the foundation of the promise to ask and receive isn’t firmly under our feet.

Does being friends with Jesus mean He’s approachable and available? Yes. Always. No exceptions.

 

Dear God, thank You for Your friendship. Help me to understand what it truly means and how I can stand firmly on the promises of friendship with Jesus. I don’t want to make assumptions or misunderstand. I want to honor You through the friendship and be an encouragement to others. I praise You for Your love.