Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I don't think I should have to pray for her.

" If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing"
1 Corinthians 13:1-3

There is someone I don't want to pray for. I don't want to forgive them. I don't want their situation to get better. I want them to go away. Far, far away. I want them to leave my family alone. The mere thought of them angers me. This person is so selfish, deceitful, manipulative and abusive that they have almost succeeded in tearing my extended family apart. 

The amount of energy that we have expended on this person and their effect on us is astounding. God finally intervened and removed them from part of our lives, but they are still there. Knocking on the door and poking the wound. I don't even deal with them directly. I am way far down the line. Outside of a random crazy text message, they never contact me. However, I still get angry at them. I still want to see Karma serve them right. I want justice!

God has been pushing me to pray for this person for over a year. Everytime I become angry or want to rant about them, He puts the verses above in my head. I can write the blog, I can spend time in devotions, I can journal and pray and go to church, but if I deny love then I am doing it all for naught. I don't want to love this person, and I don't think they deserve it. The problem is that I don't deserve God's love and forgiveness, but it is freely poured out on me. 

To help me, I have been reminded of this person's life. Their clear mental illness, their lack of family support, their overwhelming lack of self esteem and clear self loathing. Thoughts of how I would feel in their position have flooded my mind, and a desire to pray for them has bubbled up. Honestly, I have done all I can to resist it. 

I am not a very righteous person. I do not love easily, and forgiveness is harder. I am not even interested in it for the "let it go for yourself" vibe. I do not want to do this. To God, I must sound like my toddler "no, thank you. I will take all the parts of walking with you that I like, but I would like to skip this part. I don't want to love someone who received what I so desperately wanted and threw it away. I don't want to. I. Do. Not. Want. To."

Yet, I am. I am praying for them. I am attempting to love them. I am doing this despite the fact that I don't want to. I would love to tell you that when I decided to begin praying for them I was magically filled with peace and love and forgiveness, but I wasn't. I have to force myself. I have to ask God for help. I have to choose to obey what God is calling me to do. 

I am like Jonah in the whale. God was very clear about what Jonah needed to do, and Jonah was very clear about his not doing it. I think I have spent the past few weeks in the belly of the whale. It isn't always about large and amazing miracles. Sometimes it is about obedience and faith. 

I need to be obedient and treat all people with love. It is not my job to judge. It is not my job to determine who is and is not worthy of God's love. It is my job to be a living example of that love. It is my job to show my son how God's love is all forgiving. It is my job to have faith that God will help me love and forgive those who I find unloveable and unforgivable. 

Loving someone right where they are at is easy, if you like where they are, but when they are some place you detest, when their actions appall you, it can  be impossible. However, all things are possible through Christ. I will keep praying, and maybe someday I will truly love them. Until then, I will be thankful that  God doesn't hold me to the same standard I hold others to. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

In a whisper

Grief is strange. I am at a point where a week or two can pass with no aches or tears, but then out of nowhere a word, phrase, look, or innocent question-at times not even directed at me- can make the world stop and waves of sadness crash down. This can be so surprising that I struggle to not break down in a public setting.

I breathe deeply, fight back tears and pray. I pray hard. There are moments when I am not even sure what I am praying. My heart knows the words my mouth can't form. These moments of greif and helplessness are teaching me about faith.

They occur so suddenly, so randomly, that I often have no choice, but to rely on God to get me through the pain of the moment. Often a verse or a praise song will pop into my head, and it is always the perfect comfort.

I do not enjoy these moments of greif. I still, after exactly six months, want to have him here. There are still moments when I can't believe he is gone. I still long to hold him. I still hurt. The only way to survive is to accept these moments as a chance to grow in faith and be reminded of my Savior's perfect love.

The reminders don't come as loud proclamations, or mind blowing miracles. They are quietly whispered to a broken heart. Time and again, the Lord of all Creation leans down to tell me He loves me and will carry me.

My greif may never end, but neither does God's perfect love. By relying on that to survive, I will hopefully be able to reflect that love and help other hurting hearts. I Canthink of no better wat to honor my son then to continue to  strive towards that goal.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Having it together

I have spend a chunk of the past few days watching Friends. I love Friends. Watching it has reminded me of several things; how glamorous it was in high school, how easy it was to relate to in college and how little of life I still have figured out. That is the appeal of the show. These six 20 somethings live a glamorous life and attempt to "get it together".  Twenty years ago, I would watch and imagine how I would have it together. I would review my life plan and smugly check boxes. I knew where I was a going.

Ten years ago I was coming out of three years of working nothing jobs and trying to decide what I wanted to be. I was applying to Masters programs, Justin and I were finally moving towards something serious and I was happy to have a semblance of a plan.

Now, I am married, teaching, a mother and at the age where I have to dye my hair to cover the gray, but I still have yet to get a solid plan. I have attempted plans. I had beautiful ones. A year ago, I was one month from discovering I was pregnant with our second child. One month from feeling that our family would be completed. One month from feeling as if the perfect plan was unfolding in front of me.

That plan didn't work. None of my plans have worked. Whether I am 16, 26 or 36, my plans don't work. In spite of my anxiety, my deep discussions, my research, my imaginings, my reading intos, my goal setting, my plans don't work. I do not have it together. 16 year old me thought she did, 26 year old me thought everyone else but her did, 36 year old me is happy to raise my hand and say I am winging it.

I don't want it to seem that I am irresponsible. I do plan schedules, college tuition, retirement, life insurance and other big deal things. Justin and I have certain life goals, but as for where our family will be next year, well I would say we are winging it. I am happy to stay in my job, my house and my friend group. It is a pretty great life. However, I also long to stay home with my little man. The hardest part of going back to work is leaving him. I have a great job, but 100 14 year olds are not Harrison. Staying home would be a great life too.

I don't know if we will have other children, or how they will come to our family. I don't know if it will be time for Justin to consider administration, or continue teaching. I don't know what my job will look like. 16 year old me would be shocked at how much I don't know.

God has spent this break helping me see that it is ok not to have it together, because He does. He knows where we are going. He knows what will happen. It may be no change, it may be small change and it may be a big change. I don't know. Psalm 27:14 says "Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord."

The words "wait" and "patiently" are my mortal enemies. I don't do either thing well, so I am asking God to do it for me. To help me learn the discipline that is required to stop planning and start living His plan. This is big, because it means that I have stop focusing on me and my wants.  My focus has to shift to God. He even comes before my wants for my husband and son. That is hard.

This break, I have wrestled with God. Big things were pulled out and shown to me. Large arguments occurred and I did not want to submit. I didn't want to say that I may not know what is best for me. I don't want to say that, but by slowly submitting and learning to put myself second, I am seeing that my anxiety and stress level is greatly reduced. I still struggle. The thought of waiting patiently FREAKS me out, and I am scared that in two weeks I will have to go through all of this again. I am a slow learner.

Are  you a planner? Or did you once have a plan? Is it getting between you and God? Are there things you desire that are creating a road block in your spiritual growth? Are you in the midst of a wrestling match? 16, 26, 36, 46, 56, 66, 76 or 86, we are all winging it. Join me in working on waiting patiently. I could use the encouragement and would love to encourage you.