Someone Is Asking About You

im-fine-quote-2You need people in your life that pursue and invest in you. Someone who asks how you are. Someone who sees that you aren’t fine even though you say you are. Someone who wants you to tell her something, anything, because she knows that if you aren’t telling her anything, you’re probably not telling anyone.

 

It’s not easy to develop relationships that are vulnerable enough to know the quirks and warning signs while being steeped with the trust it takes to confront, listen, and patiently pursue until someone is ready to talk. Sometimes that person is someone in our own home, but more often, it’s someone outside of it with just enough distance that they can be there even when those relationships are under stress. And that’s one of the reasons it’s difficult to find that someone. It requires a sacrifice of time to develop. We don’t instantly trust people. We can’t share our life story in one setting. There will always be a few gaps here and there, but people who invest well in our lives connect some dots to find threads woven together to make us who we are.

I have watched young women struggle to find that one lifelong friend who understands them and is fiercely loyal and authentic. But I find the same struggle among women of all ages. Sometimes it’s because of their own expectations of what that friend should be (and not be). They want many boxes ticked off their list without realized the other person is growing and learning, too. We develop friendships through a pursuit of trust, grace, forgiveness, and honesty.

Friendships come and go over time, but it helps when we look forward with an expectation of longevity. We can’t have it all at once. In fact, we can’t ever have it all. There’s always room for growth, and we have to be willing to engage, not just because we need someone but because they need us, too. We need each other to invite authenticity and allow accountability.

We need to ask each other how we are and be willing to answer honestly.

A Humble Prayer

imagesBut who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? For everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your own hand. For we live before You as foreigners and temporary residents in Your presence as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. Yahweh our God, all this wealth that we’ve provided for building You a house for Your holy name comes from Your hand; everything belongs to You. I know, my God, that You test the heart and that You are pleased with what is right. I have willingly given all these things with an upright heart, and now I have seen Your people who are present here giving joyfully and willingly to You. Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our ancestors, keep this desire forever in the thoughts of the hearts of Your people, and confirm their hearts toward You. Give my son Solomon a whole heart to keep and to carry out all Your commands, Your decrees, and Your statutes, and to build the temple for which I have made provision. (1 Chronicles 29:14-19)

What a prayer of offering, dedication, or commitment. What if we humbly approached God with this prayer each and every day? What if this was purely expressed from the core of our beings?

How might God change you through it? And how would it change your faith in Him?

Worship Today

Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I’m a mess and so are you
We’ve built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do

Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest

(Francesca Battistelli, If We’re Honest)

Repentance

Repentance.

It’s a word we either don’t like to hear, don’t understand, or simply ignore. Repentance requires acknowledge of something being amiss, and we don’t necessarily like to admit we’re wrong. It seems to indicates weakness, and weakness is…well, a weakness!

But it’s not.

When we repent, we admit where we are, not to get stuck, settle into a place of defeat, or give up. We repent, because we’re willing to move beyond where we are. We acknowledgement where we are isn’t where we should be. It doesn’t mean everything in our lives is bad. In fact, as we grow in faith and let God consume our lives more completely, we realize he challenges us to repent of even the slightest details of our attitudes and intentions, pruning the tiny weeds before they grow into trees.

There are no limits on repentance. It includes the big and tiny, the ongoing and momentary, the obvious and well-disguised.

We often respond in faith forgetting the importance of repentance. We ask for blessings, we praise God, we expect God’s promises…but we haven’t done a heart-check first. We need to ask ourselves if there’s anything between us and God as we approach him, and since we work toward developing an ongoing connection with him, we need to be adamant about consistently asking him to identify anything that’s creating any amount of distance between us. That also means we have to be willing to listen as he reveals the distance. We need to be willing to respond.

A lack of repentance impacts personal faith, and it also impacts community. Each person is responsible for his/her own repentance. Each person is also able to ask for repentance for the community. It must be done with a pure heart. We don’t ask for repentance because “that person” did something wrong. We ask for repentance because we did something wrong whether we personally offended or not. Going to God in repentance for our community assumes our association among that community. (See Nehemiah’s prayer in Nehemiah 1:1.)

Repentance isn’t a pit of guilt. It makes a way out of the pit of guilt. Get familiar with repentance. It’s a grace-filled gift from God.

God, be merciful to me because you are loving.
Because you are always ready to be merciful, wipe out all my wrongs.
Wash away all my guilt and make me clean again.

I know about my wrongs, and I can’t forget my sin.
You are the only one I have sinned against; I have done what you say is wrong.
You are right when you speak and fair when you judge.
I was brought into this world in sin. In sin my mother gave birth to me.

You want me to be completely truthful, so teach me wisdom.
Take away my sin, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Make me hear sounds of joy and gladness;let the bones you crushed be happy again.
Turn your face from my sins and wipe out all my guilt.

Create in me a pure heart, God, and make my spirit right again.
Do not send me away from you or take your Holy Spirit away from me.
Give me back the joy of your salvation. Keep me strong by giving me a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:1-12)

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We Need More Truthful Greeting Cards

I looked through the “wide selection” of greeting cards in the hospital gift shop and couldn’t find the right card.

I’m a card person. I’m always on the lookout, because there are a couple people I regularly send cards for encouragement and a lot more I send cards from time to time. I like to look at greeting cards pretty much anytime I find a collection so I can keep some on hand. If I’m not regularly looking, I end up seeing the same cards again and again, so I like to try to access different brands.

Lately, I’ve particularly needed cards for encouragement through health issues. I usually look in the sections titled Encouragement, Thinking of You, and Get Well Soon. But so many say “get well soon” when that’s not really what I need to say. I’m not even sure if someone will get well, and if they do, it certainly won’t be soon. I’m not being pessimistic. It’s reality. Sure, anything can happen, but a cheesy get well card, no matter how heartfelt, just doesn’t seem appropriate when someone is dealing with a frustrating, exhausting, chronic, and likely terminal (whether that’s tomorrow or a year from now) disease. Yes, there is a Terminal Illness selection of cards sometimes, but I find most of those more depressing than the cheesy get well cards!

We need a Sobering Truth section of cards. Instead of putting a bandage or happy face sticker on something, we need to reflect reality. We need to encourage people to laugh, or challenge people toward a comprehensive heart check, or extend an invitation to cry. We need to allow people to process what’s going on in their lives and remind them we’re walking through the muck with them, or at least, we’re available as best we know how. We don’t have all the answers, but we have Hope. We don’t understand, but we can listen. We don’t need to throw a pity party but neither do we need to refuse to allow people to feel sorry for themselves for a moment.

I often end up editing greeting cards and almost always write a note to personalize the message. After all, the relationship is way more important than the folded piece of cardstock. So, maybe we don’t need more truthful greeting cards after all. Perhaps we just need to be more willing to seek, speak, and invite Truth into our relationships and the healing process.

Some Things Stick to Our Identity

Are you retired?

Yes.

What did you retire from?

Farming.

My dad hadn’t farmed for decades, yet that was his response. He had held a lot of interesting jobs: dispatching a fleet of trucks, guiding motorists and officials for statewide transportation, excavating, managing a farming co-op, brokering commodities, and much more. Granted, farming certainly occupied more of his time than any other occupation throughout his life, but it wasn’t the last thing he did. It’s what he identified with the most.

Some things stick to our identity. It becomes such an important part of who we are that we can’t tell if we were always that way and it seeped out or if we surrounded ourselves with it so much that it seeped in.

But we know it’s important. We know it’s who we are.

What do you want to be known for more than anything? What is your identity? I’m not talking about work, like in my dad’s case. If my dad was asked to describe his identity, I don’t think the first thing he’d say is “farmer.” Identity goes much deeper and reaches much farther.

But it’s important to know who you are, what you’ve allowed and relied on to form your identity. Sometimes the things we believe about ourselves aren’t as accurate as we want to think. We need to evaluate with authenticity and move forward with intention.

So, who are you?