Friday, May 31, 2013

A Left Out Puzzle Piece, An Alien? Nope...a Woman

Have you ever felt like you just don't fit?  Am I the only one?  I'm like a puzzle piece in several boxes of puzzle pieces and I seem like all the other pieces - I hang out with them and enjoy them.  But when it comes down to it...I'm not one of the pieces of the puzzle.  Like, the puzzle can be put together without me.  If I was lost out of the box - no one would look for me.  Ok, so that sounds pretty bleak, huh?  I can't help but feel a little sad lately.  Overall I think I'm happy.  I feel blessed here.  It is just a new experience - moving away.  We are coming up on being here for two years.  In the past two years I have gone above and beyond 'getting involved' and making new friends.  And I've met a lot of people, had a lot of fun and made a few good friends.  I guess I assume that two years after moving you are settled in perfectly. I just don't think I am.  I still just can't shake the feelings of loneliness that overcome me every now and then.  I feel frustrated too, that I just don't feel a part of the things I'm involved in.  I literally feel like I could stop doing what I do all the time and no one would notice.   Bleak, huh?  Yeah, I know.

God has been encouraging me over the past week as I've been pondering this (even though I've spent the majority of the week moping).  Being patient would be to my benefit - no big surprise here.  Longing for what I don't have is not going to make things better.  Thanking Him for the gifts He has given me - my husband, my kids, my friends - new and old, and my relationship with Him.  Falling at His feet and repenting for my unhappiness with what I don't have.  Praying over what He is wanting for me, what He is leading me to.  The fact that I have not connected deeply in many of the things that I've been involved in and with the people I've spent time with, requires me to take a look at what I should be doing with my time.  Relationships are important.  We were created for them.  I pray that He brings me deep godly connections in my life and that I would shift my need for those to a more healthier thinking -- I do not NEED people (for my purposes), but I want to LOVE them (for God's purposes).

I am encouraged as I read the first chapters of  "Captivating" by John & Stasi Eldredge this morning.  Man and woman were made in God's image.  As women, we long for relationship, to be wanted, needed, belong.  God does too - we were made in His image.  He wants these things too!  Mr. Eldridge says, "This is not some weakness or insecurity on the part of a woman, that deep yearning to be desired."  I was just simply amazed by this...and am somewhat relieved to know that it is 'okay' to desire relationships/to want to belong so much - that it isn't a weakness or insecurity.  It's how God made me and every woman.

I am reminded today that as badly as I want those things...God wants them, too.  When is the last time I showed Him the amount of attention that I'd like shown to me?   And when is the last time that I sought after Him fiercely?  "You will find me," says the Lord, "when you seek me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13).

I also am reminded that I do belong.  I may feel like an alien and have a natural hurt inside because I'm lonely. citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20) and when the Lord comes back for us, I will belong completely and my heart will be whole.

Image courtesy of Anusorn P Nachol /

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Gentleness - Assuming the Best and Giving Grace

My writing has become few and far between.  I miss it!  I was tunnel-visioned in on Spring Fling Thing and the Silent Auction then came the rest of May - Jeff's birthday, Evan's birthday, Mother's Day, a visit from my parents and the beginning of the end of school festivities!  Feeling very blessed these days here in North Carolina!

My six month leadership Journey group at church is coming to an end soon.  I've been so blessed to get to know the other ladies in this group.  I've learned a ton through the books we've read and the conversations/meetings I've had with each of the girls.  So much wisdom in these women!

Recently in two of the books I've read for this group, God has opened my eyes to yet another thing He wants me to work on as I become more like Him daily.  It has been my prayer for probably the past year that I would be gentle in spirit.  It is so endearing to be around women who have a gentleness about them.  Doesn't mean they aren't strong, but it does mean they aren't loud and bossy!  I long to be someone that others see as gentle. And more importantly - someone that I know is gentle on the inside too!

I think that as I seek to be gentle, God has taught me about the grace that He has extended.  The benefit of the doubt that He gave me.  He didn't jump to conclusions with me.  The way He looks at me - by looking at my heart and my intentions and not always my messed up actions.  He gave grace to me (and to YOU!) by allowing His only Son to die and be punished for my mistakes and sins.  Jesus was my replacement.  He was punished and died in my place so that I didn't have to.  And now that He paid for those sins that I have committed, am committing, and will commit during my life - I can have a relationship with God Almighty - because my sins are covered and He sees me as pure and holy.  Did I deserve to have my sins paid for?  No.  Did I do anything to earn this gift?  No.  It is purely grace that was given to me.  Undeserved, unearned and generous.  Just like a gift wrapped up and handed to me - all I have to do to receive it, is accept it out of the giver's hands.   He's holding out that gift with a big bow on it to you, too - whether you accept it or not.  But the joy of accepting this grace He's given is amazing.  Letting Him into your life and saying, "I need help, I'm sorry, I can't do this on my own - thank You for paying for my sins with Your Son Jesus" - it's all that is needed to spend eternity in the presence of the God who is full of grace, benefits of the doubt, never jumping to conclusions, and a judge of the heart - not our messed up actions.

The Holy Spirit recently really grabbed my heart and asked - 'why do you not give others the benefit of the doubt?  Why do you look at people's actions and judge so harshly?  Why don't you look at their intentions and their heart?'  Ouch...  This really was hit home a month or so ago when I assumed something about someone (given the behavior I had seen in the past from this person) that ended up not being the case at all.  Thankfully I had not opened my mouth to anyone except my loving husband, but it was still a sin.  I am still grieved that I can be so cruel.

I tend to jump to conclusions over an action or a comment by another that isn't as straightforward as it could be.  It may come from some past hurts - people intentionally hurting me - when there was no question that the words and actions were for nothing more than harm (because they said so and were clear.)  It many also come from the past low self-esteem that I had for so long.  The 'I assume the worst because I'm not worthy of the best' type thinking.  I also know what I, myself, am capable of - I unfortunately am capable of mean thoughts and actions - so it's easy to think that the person in question may be doing that too.  Negative self talk and lies of Satan has a role in this too.  It is easy for me to go down a path in my mind that is not those 'good, pure, and true' things that I should be thinking of.  Instead I wallow in the what if's and lies that the enemy enjoys using while I sit and 'assume' that she/he probably did that on purpose with very ill intent!  

So, as I was reading this month, here is what I learned.  "In general - you get what you expect from others."  Here are some good guidelines:

  • Don't assume the worst - assume the best!
  • See things from their perspective.
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt.
  • Remember their good days not their bad ones.
  • Forget about justice - instead, focus on grace and forgiveness.
  • Appreciate what others intend - not only what they do!
*Taken from 25 Ways to Win with People by John C. Maxwell

I am sure that giving other's grace and assuming the best in others are keys to being a 'gentle' and kind spirit.  As I have become aware of this character flaw of mine, I will work on not judging people's outward appearance and their actions - but focusing on the heart, their intentions and the good in them -- just like Jesus does.  Thank you, Lord, for opening my eyes and giving me strength and power to become more gentle, more grace-filled and more like You!

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  
Colossians 3:12