Two I Do’s and One I Don’t

photo-1488563191899-79b83cb52fb9Marriage begins by imagining what you want life to look like together. Then it becomes real, and you leave the fantasy behind. It’s hard sometimes, but you choose to say I do again and again and again. It’s messy sometimes. But choosing I do when it’s hard and messy is one of the things that makes it deeply relevant. Saying I do makes the sacrifices worthwhile, because we commit to togetherness. We commit to teamwork.

Until someone says I don’t.

Anybody can say I don’t at any time, even when you least expect it, even when you’ve been intentionally saying I do. It takes two I do‘s to get married, and only one I don’t to end the marriage. And those two words have ripple effects across many lives, whether it’s I do or I don’t.

What ripple effects are you creating in the lives of the family, friends, and community in which you’ve been building a life? The do or the don’t?

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.