I just have a short little something important I want to share today.I have spent a lot of time around people who are busting at the seams with faith… and I admire how they feel it. I have faith, but I have never been moved like some people I know. I see people full of such emotion and talk with such confidence about their faith and about God… and I have always felt a little, well, not so “full,” I guess. Not quite sure how to describe it… but its almost like their book had a chapter mine didn’t!Well I am here to tell you that I had MY moment two nights ago.I was driving home after having dinner with my mom when a song came on the radio. Now, I have heard this song many, many times. But apparently I would just sing along without really hearing the lyrics. (Or maybe it just wasn’t my time to hear them). Because something happened that night. I got hit with such emotion that I could hardly maintain control of my car.I have heard this song so m any times before, so I never would have expected this overflow of emotion…Just take a look at these lyrics (You Love Me Anyway by Sidewalk Prophets), especially the second half:A question was raisedAs my conscience fellA silly, little lieIt didn’t mean muchBut it lingers stillIn the corner of my mindStill you call me to walkOn the edge of this worldTo spread my dreams and flyBut the future’s so farMy heart is so frailI think I’d rather stay insideBut You love me anywayIt’s like nothing in life that I’ve ever knownYou love me anywayOh Lord, how You love meHow You love meIt took more than my strengthTo simply be stillTo seek but never findAll the reasons we changeThe reasons I doubtAnd why do loved ones have to die?I am the thorn in Your crownBut You love me anywayI am the sweat from Your browBut You love me anywayI am the nail in Your wristBut You love me anywayI am Judas’ kissBut You love me anywaySee now, I am the man that called out from the crowdFor Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking groundYes then, I turned away with this smile on my faceWith this sin in my heart tried to bury Your graceAnd then alone in the night, I still called out for YouSo ashamed of my life, my life, my lifeYou love me, You love meYou love me, You love meHow You love meHow You love meI can honestly tell you that I must have some deep down shame somewhere that I didn’t know I had. Something that must have been keeping me from feeling like God could truly love me or that I was worthy of His love. But this particular night, the words, “But you loved me anyway…” hit me hard. And I have felt such an immense change inside myself that I cannot even explain. I will be cliché and say that it feels exactly like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.All from a song I have heard a hundred times before.I told ya this blog would be short and sweet. Thanks for letting me share! Now…. take a minute and listen to the song that I feel just changed my life!No copyright is claimed in the above song lyrics and YouTube video and to the extent that material may appear to be infringed, I assert that such alleged infringement is permissible under fair use principles in U.S. copyright laws. If you believe material has been used in an unauthorized manner, please contact the poster. Music and lyrics belong to Sidewalk Prophets.
I read something the other day that resonated with me. Maybe its because of a few things that I am struggling with internally or maybe its just a simple, powerful verse. Either way, it has stayed with me and I knew it would be great to share. (In more version than one!)__________________________________
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NLT)Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NKJV)Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (KJV)Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV)
Ok, it looks fairly straightforward, right? I mean, a mixture of simple statements telling you how to behave and how to face life. So, I guess the question is…. do you? Yes, that is ME asking YOU that if you take a close, hard look in the mirror, would you see a watchful, courageous, strong-faithed, unconditionally loving person? Or would you see a broken being who needs a fight song; an anthem, so-to-speak? I bet if we are all HONEST, it will be the latter. (you know darn well there is no such thing as human perfection).Maybe this verse could be your anthem. You know, your “I’m going to be stronger and more confident than I was a few minutes ago” anthem. Let’s see…Being on guard or watchful. For what? Of what? Well for starters, when you have strong beliefs, getting tempted, debated or tricked is always a possiblity. Believe it or not, there is always someone, something or maybe some spiritual being just waiting for you to let your guard down so that they may tear you down. If they succeed, it only takes a moment for you to lose sight of what is important and succumb to actions you may later regret. Don’t give just anyone an opportunity to cross your fence.That goes hand-in-hand with standing “firm in the faith.” If you hold on to your faith, you know where you came from and where you are going. You know who you answer to and who should ignore. You have guidance. Be still and listen for it. Follow it.In that mirror, are you courageous? Are you brave? I know some days I feel more courageous and brave than others. It can even change by the moment! …I could be heading to a meeting with a group of strangers and my very introverted self will be beaming with positivity – carrying a full load of courage and a smile from ear to ear. In my head, I may even be skipping and singing, “I’m walking on sunshine, whoa oh, And don’t it feel good?! Yeah!” But, then… it happens… I walk into the room and – GULP! – Now what?! Sigh. This is usually when I give a soft “Hi!” and find myself a quiet place to sit and think about where my courage went and how to get it back. I pray on this, A LOT!I don’t necessarily believe that is the exact meaning of courageous and bravery that Paul was referring to. But its the day to day courage I need. Im sure it has more to do with standing up to those who are against us. Sticking out like a chicken in a dog show and not bowing down when a challenge arises. Fighting battles without caving in. This, in turn, is also why we need to stay strong. After all, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. He gives us all of the strength that we need.
Lastly… love (and charity). Selfless giving. the kind of love and charity you don’t encounter every day. Its rare. Many of us have good intentions. We don’t like to see people cry or hurting, suffering or in need. But it is so much easier to turn our backs and continue moving forward in our lives, worrying solely about ourselves and those close to us, than it is to stop and give up our time, energy and resources to help someone else. Maybe we even think that because we thought about it, that is enough. Maybe we think that if we stray from the “in” crowd and immerse ourselves in a crowd that needs a hand, or a bit of faith, that we will be looked upon differently. Whatever our reason is, it isn’t good enough. BOOM! How’d ya like them apples, sweet cheeks? Let me repeat: Your reason is not good enough! We are all already different and that money, time and energy you have is what God gave you to do His work, not your own. Thoughts are NOT actions. Get up and make a difference. Give your heart. Give until you cant give any more. Then give some more.
This. Life. Is. Not. About. You.Remember that.
You decide to call your best friend. You dial the number and put the phone up to your ear, patiently waiting to hear the sound of ringing…. and knowing that your friend will be on the other end of the line soon. But, the ringing never happens. Instead, you hear a loud chiming noise that causes you to pull the phone away from your ear and form your face into a dramatic perplexed look. Why on earth did you get the operator instead of your friend?“The telephone number you are calling has been disconnected. Please check the number you are calling and dial again. Goodbye.”But wait! What?! Don’t hang up! I want my friend! What do you mean its disconnected!? Where did my friend go?! Why would she do that without telling me?! And how do you just tell someone that a number is disconnected and then say goodbye?! Its like telling me my friend disappeared with no explanation! Sigh. What to do?Do you ever feel this way? Like you are disconnected to something or someone? From your family, your friends, your job, your life, God? D – All of the above? I think we all do at some point, whether emotionally or spiritually.In fact, I seem to have a few days every month or two when I feel this way. Including now. It doesn’t last long, but I think it happens when I have a lot of things on my plate – juggling different tasks and people. Its hard to concentrate and focus and I seem to place God on the back burner, as much as I hate to admit that.The important thing is that I know I am not the only one who feels this way from time to time. Come on, you know you have felt this way. Yes, you. The one reading this who is shaking his head feeling pity for my disconnect. Or, maybe the one who is shaking her head in agreement because she is feeling lost a lonely now, too.Whether you are out of touch now, have been in the past, or may be in the future, Ive learned some tips that I try to follow myself.Time for yourself. This is important. Make sure that you are not letting the actions of your day take up all the minutes of your day. Whether its time for yourself to read a book, watch a movie, take a long hot bath… you need to make time. If you are a list maker, add it to your list. If you go by a strict schedule, pencil ‘me time’ in. If you are like me and you try to plan but life never goes as planned, put a reminder in your phone to continuously ding every 9 minutes until you STOP and do something for yourself. Sometimes just taking a few minutes to step away can allow your mind to re-focus.
Talk to your spouse, family or friend. Let them know how you are feeling. Perhaps there is something they can say to make you feel a little less disconnected. Or maybe a long hug and a laugh can give you what you need. And, sometimes, just feeling the connection to a loved one is enough to bring you right back to your happy place!Pray on it. (This probably should have been numero uno on the list. But, hey, lets just say I saved the best for last.) God can work miracles. And if you are feeling disconnected, hopeless, overwhelmed. yadda yadda yadda…. chances are He can help.I don’t know about you, but when I am feeling disconnected, I tend to turn inwards. I don’t talk too much to others, and that includes God. We get a little lost in our thoughts and in our selves. God knows what we are thinking, so when we are lost in our thoughts and they aren’t focused on Him, well, that could be our first problem, don’t ya think? So, Pray. Talk to God. Let Him know what is going on and ask for mercy. You can share anything you want with Him. The more you talk, the more you pray, the more connected you will feel. I promise.Disclaimer: The above won’t dissolve disconnected feelings for forever. But, when I am down, these are just a few ideas that help. I thought maybe they can help you, too. I cannot guarantee they will work, just as you cannot guarantee you will use them.
If nothing else, when you are not feeling like yourself, let this be your mantra until ya get back to where you belong:And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Hey! Check out these awesome pics!
Check out this donkey! Cute, eh?
Or how about this hot rod… I have a secret love for mustangs! Do you like this yellow one? I sure do.
Lets see… what else can I share with you today? Hmm. Oh! I know! I took a picture outside this morning – so sunny and BEAUTIFUL, don’t you think?Don’t adjust your screen. Don’t think I am crazy. And quit scratching your head! You know that really was a cow and not a donkey, right? Good. Just checking. That means that you likely didn’t fall for the orange Gremlin being a yellow mustang and the rainy day being a beautiful sunny day, right? Good. We are making progress, folks!If you tell your family or friends that you have a part-time job as a roadie for the Newsboys or that you are actually famous in Italy for your piano compositions, will they believe you? Probably not. And why? Because they know you and they are close to you.“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.Here is another example – You tell God that you are willing to succumb to His greatness and follow His will for your life. You tell Him you are going to come to church one day, but that its just so hard because you work so many hours and you cannot work less hours, of course, because then you can’t pay your bills, right? Sigh. Life is hard, I know – You want to worship God, but you have to work to make money in order to support yourself. So… um, uh, did you just put money before God? oh, goodness, I think you did. And to think He has even told you that He always provides! Or maybe you were too busy focusing on money that you missed that part!It doesn’t have to be money, it could be anything — sleep, attention/acknowledgment, cars, sex, a loved one, a hobby, or any that we focus our attention on rather than Him. FORSAKE ALL THINGS FALSE.You may think you are fooling someone, but GOD SEES EVERYTHING. And I mean EVERYTHING! He knows you better than your friends and family. You tell Him you want Him to be there for you, to look out for your loved ones, to help you with this, to give you that. But where is your heart?Joshua told the Israelites that they had an important decision to make — whether they wanted to serve God or serve their idols. Serving both is a hypocrisy! In Isaiah 29:13 we learn – “The Lord says: These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”Remember this: He is watching you… and He knows where your heart is even if you try to hide it with your words.
Verbal promises, signed promises, handshakes, pinky swears… Do you take promises seriously or do you have great intentions, but not always follow through? Personally, I have wonderful intentions with promises, but it doesn’t always go as planned.Promises can be made for all sorts of things – to pay back borrowed money, to stop an addiction, a promise to a child of play time, a promise to attend a meeting, a promise of support and love to a spouse. And, of course, there is always a promise to God.Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 says, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.” Well, guess what, folks? I think I am a fool. I made a promise to God and I did not fulfill it. YET.
Well, wait. Does that make me a fool, then? If I intend on fulfilling it, but I haven’t yet? Sigh… I should have known better than to try to make a deal with the big guy!Several months ago I had made a promise to God that I was going to take better care of myself, physically and mentally. I intended to eat better, exercise, not forget to take my vitamins, and make sure I had a few minutes each day for reflection. But, let me explain what happened. See, the wagon I was riding in was on this really bumpy, unpaved road with SO many incredible sights to see and, well, I had taken my seat belt off for just a moment and, well… I fell off the wagon. There, I said it. I just fell off. Sigh… Some of my loved ones are still strapped in and doing well. But, I just finished brushing the dirt off my clothes and bandaging my injuries. A fall like that is rough, especially when your ride was so good!I know it may sound vain or superficial… to make a promise to God about being healthy. I mean, there are so many bigger things in the world I could vow to do, right? I know, I know. But this is why I did what I did. I felt bad. I felt like I have failed God in some odd way by not taking care of all that He has given me… including myself.So here is the plan…Step 1. Talk to God and re-iterate my promise and ask for forgiveness for not following through the first time.Step 2. Tell my friends and family so that I am always being held accountable (even when I actually think I am hiding from the man upstairs… shhh… )Step 3. Like the wise words of the group 2 Hyped Brothers & a Dog – “Act like a tennis shoe, a just DO IT!” Fulfill the vow.Ok, so there it is. Its out there. I have bored you with my blog on failed promises only to reignite my desire to fulfill the promise. Want to join me? What changes do you want to make? — Quit a bad habit? Dedicate time for family? Join a group for a good cause? Give yourself reflection time each day? — Even if the bible says only fools make vows to God and do not fulfill them, I dont think we always have to win on the first try. Good intentions and continuous effort, while asking God for strength, really isn’t failing, is it?
WARNING: This post is solely my opinion. Its likely you will disagree – please know that you are entitled to.Every morning when I wake up, I am bombarded with the news that is happening around the world. Bombings, hostages, sinkholes, mudslides, mass shootings, earthquakes, terror threats, etc. The list can go on and on. Scary, right? Of course! Who wouldn’t shudder at the thought of living through a complete nightmare? Or maybe even not living through it at all?Question: So what do we do? How do we protect our kids and loved ones?Society’s Answer: Protect them. OVERprotect them. And then protect them some more. Place them in a fake bubble where green grass grows tall with wildflowers under sunny skies. A place where everyone is a winner, everyone is equal, and everyone is always happy. Oh, and did I mention it rains skittles?!OK! Reality Check:LIFE DOES NOT TAKE PLACE IN A BUBBLE. Let’s repeat: LIFE DOES NOT TAKE PLACE IN A BUBBLE. We get knocked down, bruised and scraped, but we can dust ourselves off and get back up, too. We have highs and lows and good and evil. We have choices and decisions and can succumb to temptation. We win and we lose.And who would really want to live in a perfectly safe bubble anyways? Think of all that you would miss out on! How can you appreciate how great something is when you havent experienced how bad it could be? I mean, would you even know it was great? How are you going to feel love if a world is full of only good and no heartache? How are you going to learn about yourself? Your strengths? Your weaknesses? Your desires?May as well just paint the whole world a shade of bright, fuzzy, happy yellow because that is exactly where we are heading!I learned not too long ago that kids dont even say the Pledge of Allegiance in school anymore. And forget about singing… “My country tis of thee, sweet land of Liberty, of thee I sing… ” That has been thrown out, too. I knew there were some folks wanting it removed, but I had no idea that we actually buckled down and removed the morning ritual! And why? For what reason? Who was it really offending? And what does that one kid have to say about the accommodating change?And now, due to all of the issues around the confederate flag, the channel TV Land is discontinuing its showing of Dukes of Hazzard re-runs. Really? Because the General Lee displays a confederate flag? That show is a white, redneck classic! May as well cancel The Jeffersons, too… white folks could start some trouble about the black man moving on up into the “white mans” world. Total ridiculousness.Oh, and just this morning – a group is trying to have the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner revised to remove the line “bombs bursting in air.” I mean, this totally makes sense — because those bombs gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. You know, the flag that you dont want to pledge allegiance to anymore.
Sure, go ahead. Erase history. Pretend it didnt happen. Wrap the present and future up in a nice little tight fitting box with a bow, sans rearview mirror, and pretend we just — POOF — arrived here “as is”, no prior history, no damage, no successes or failures. Zap your memory.We spend so much time trying fix the world so as not to hurt or offend every individual person that we are only hurting our future. Teaching children in little league games that there is no score – everyone is a winner – and then that kid grows up and the first time he fails at something… uh oh… what do I do? Ive never been in this situation before!Just let me remind you.. Its GOD’s job to protect us and look out for us when we fail. WE do not need to act like God and protect everyone. “The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.” – Psalms 145:14 WE. ARE. MEANT. TO. FAIL. In fact, I am not an expert, but I do believe that God sent Jesus here to live life as a human, knowing he was going to feel pain – and suffer!So, let me ask again.Question: So what do we do? How do we protect our kids and loved ones?Answer: Love them. And let them live and experience ALL that God let’s the world show them. Good AND bad, success AND failure. Let them know the hard times we have been through so they can learn, on their own, how to make the future brighter.
Im very liberal in my views and believe very strongly in equality and personal freedom. I do not believe in walking around in a sugarcoated, Willy Wonka-type world, forgetting about our history and the sacrifices that were made. We may not be where we all think we should be as a country, but we are a lot farther than we were… thanks to individuals who fought for something they believed in. Just as we work today to make changes for years to come, we want to progress, but not forget. You cannot get to where you want to go if you dont
remember where you were coming from.
Sometimes I go to bed at night and I see short clips of my life, like flashing visions in an an old 35mm movie. If I am lucky, I get the good times. But every now and then, when I least expect it, the fear hits hard – the fear of another time that I have tried so hard to forget.I see those eyes that, in a dream once, appeared red, as if someone was giving me a warning that I was dealing with the devil. And that smirk, full of crookedness and anger. I try to close my eyes to erase these images, but they are there, burned in memories I wish I could forget.This time I am walking through the house, carrying in bags of groceries from my car. My thoughts begin racing – I followed the list, didnt I? I dont think I forgot anything. I hope I got everything right this time. The same thoughts I always have when coming home from grocery shopping. As I hurry to unload the bags and get the items where they belong, I hear, “did you get the sour cream? I dont see it. ” Oh no. Shoot. How could I forget the sour cream!? It was on the list!! I know I passed that aisle, but I meant to go back for it. Ohh… All I can manage to say, stumbling over my words scared of the pain that is to come, is “Well, I missed the aisle and I was already on the other side of the store and meant to… ” That was it. That is as far as I got into the explanation of the missing sour cream, before it started…What happened after that is what always happened when I failed a mission. I was forced to recognize what a failure I was. The eyes. The smirk. They came on strong. They were always present in that moment. Just like country music and alcohol. These things are intertwined into my being to shout pangs of fear, forcing my body to tense, waiting for the blow. The noise gets so loud – the yelling, the crashing… Oh, good… this time its just painful words, Im lucky today. I have heard all of the statements… how I am pathetic, useless, worthless, ignorant, and, somehow, I get reminded that its ‘not all about me’… It doesn’t take much to get broken down into enough pieces that you start believing what you hear.When it quiets down, I go into the bathroom and cry… Cry because I feel sorry for myself. Cry because I feel so alone. Cry because I feel hopeless. Cry because I feel so broken. And cry because I forgot the sour cream … and then I scold myself that it won’t happen next time.
I shudder as it takes me a minute to realize that it was just a passing thought of a time that I have overcome… and that I am safe now, no longer broken and alone. On nights like this, I use the glimpse of the past to remind me to thank God for my present, for my blessings.__________________________________At some point in life, we will all experience a difficult time that can leave us broken. Are you going to let it consume and conquer you? Or will you stand strong on your feet and march on?God never allows pain without a purpose in the lives of His children. He never allows Satan, nor circumstances, nor any ill-intending person to afflict us unless He uses that affliction for our good. God never wastes pain. He always causes it to work together for our ultimate good, the good of conforming us more to the likeness of His Son.~ Jerry BridgesWhether your pain comes from the loss of a loved one, a failed relationship, an addiction, at the hands of someone else, or for any other reason, you are experiencing that pain as part of your journey. There IS a reason for it. And its up to YOU to decide how YOU WILL OVERCOME it. Even the impossible is possible with faith.I am going to leave you with something I heard the other day that makes my heart smile and calms my soul. Ironically, its titled “Ora,” which is Italian for “now.” Close your eyes and listen – you are worth it.
I have been working on getting my mind under control this past week or so. Not sure of the reason, but trying to lasso my thoughts is making me look like an amateur cowgirl…My mind is not finishing one thought before it moves on to another! I know that I need to BE STILL in order to re-focus myself and I am working on this. However, in the midst of these thoughts, I have one that is like a sign outlined in flashing bright lights smack dab in the middle of the Las Vegas strip. It reads: “THE PAST.”The past I am referring to is the things I have previously done — behaviors, harsh words, choices I have made — that I cannot undo. I generally have no regrets, as I know that my past has molded me into the person that I am today. I see clearly the lessons I was supposed to learn. And, although looking back I do not like the person that I was, I love the person I am today. I’m still a work-in-progress, of course, but hey… I’ve got some darn good characteristics, in my opinion!Now, as usually happens… everything I read lately (or hear or converse about) is focused on the past. In fact, I started this post last night. Yet, just this morning, I heard a radio program that said.. “QUIT STALKING YOUR PAST!” Talk about wow… Who would have ever thought to put it that way? Perhaps using this as a mantra will help my lassoing skills?It went on to say that you will no longer fit in with the person you used to be, the friends you had and the activities you did. This is what happens as you grow in faith and is so incredibly true – Not just because of differences in opinion between friends and I when it comes to beliefs, but because the manner in which I choose to carry myself and my behaviors may no longer coincide with theirs. The common ground gets bumpy and the relationships can crumble. And deep down I know that, in order to grow, its ok if this happens.God has the ability to cut you out, so to speak, and remove you from the picture of your current situation in order for you to mature in your faith. That is what He did for me.Today my life is full of faith, love, life, commitment & strength. Five key feelings that had taken the high road in my past… as I chose the dimly-lit, dark road. Looking at my calendar, it says “We can’t undo the past…” but “God loves you , and even when life is dark and uncertain, that truth will bring you encouragement and strength.” I didn’t know that while living in my past, but I do know it now. And I know that should I ever find myself in difficult, dark situations again, I will know that I have light within me to see me through.“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” – James 4:10
Guess what? I am not perfect. Guess what else? You are not perfect either. Yea, that is right. I called you imperfect. You have flaws. And so do I. Matthew 7:3-5 reminds us that we shouldn’t be quick to judge others for their faults without addressing our own. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you cant see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” – Matthew 7:3-5 But we don’t always follow this lesson, do we?We all know that its easy to focus on the dents, holes, disfigurements, wrong way paths of everyone else so I am not going to sit here and bore you with how I think you should go back and read, re-read, re-cite, remember, re-read again, and tape the above verse from Matthew to your forehead then stare at yourself in the mirror. No matter how hard we try, it happens. For whatever reason, it is a trait of being a human that is hard to let go. And that’s ok.I say that its ok because our God is a forgiving God and no matter how many times we sin doing the same action, He will still forgive us. In fact, He will forgive ALL of our imperfections. Thats why it is so important that we forgive the imperfections of all of those around us. Not so easy, is it?Let’s talk examples for a minute. Recently I encountered a situation in which my family and I were the victims of a woman’s anger or cry for attention. It was a fairly extreme situation at the time and we were very successful at withholding our anger, rather than opening the lines of judgmental, hateful and regretful words. God gave us the strength. However, I was not as successful at controlling my thoughts… Her actions and words made me very angry and the thoughts in my head of her were not so pretty.It took me a while to realize that she isn’t perfect, just as I am not perfect. I know my own scars that I have obtained on my journey, but I do not know hers. I can control my own actions, but I cannot control hers. Her walk with God, or lack thereof, is her journey… her growth, just as I have my own growing to do. I have no right to be angry with her.Love. Regardless of the hurt someone has caused. Regardless of actions, words, concerns, age, race, ethnicity, sex, religion. Love. That is what it all comes down to. God’s love for us is unconditional. If we are to be like God, then our love for people – and the world – should be unconditional. Who are we to place conditions and stipulations on who we allow to feel the love He has given us to share?Matthew 5:38-46 “You have heard the law that says that punishment must match the injury; ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow. You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Int hat way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? “Unconditional love is something that we may never fully succeed at, but its something that we can continue to reach for. Even if we react out of hate and then stop and realize our wrongdoings, we have taken one step forward. We can always try harder next time. Maybe one day it will become second nature.
Have you ever met someone that you just knew you were supposed to meet? Have you felt a connection to that person that goes beyond just a normal friendship? Now, let me clarify. I am not referring to a sort of “love” connection or anything at all of that sort. I’m referring to someone who may be your friend, co-worker, or acquaintance that you just never have to speak to but when you do, you just feel a sense that the extent of your acquaintance to this person goes beyond what you feel with other friends. You can actually sense the reason you are supposed to have met.I have a friend like this. Someone I met about 3 years ago. She started as a co-worker who eventually became my friend. She and I didn’t see each other outside of work much, but we talked, shared, and comforted one another. About 18 months ago her dad got sick. He was in and out of the hospital and required several different medical procedures. During this whole process, I watched her highs and lows. I watched her reactions to phone calls she received about his progress. I watched her cry and quietly deal with her father’s struggles as life went on around her. And more and more, her situation with her father weighed on my spirit. I couldn’t understand how someone could handle dealing with all that her father had been through. And why was all of this trauma happening to someone so good?I remember the day when she told me that Hospice was called in for him. And I remember holding back my tears. I did not know this man, but I knew his daughter and, for unknown reasons, I was empathizing more than I do with just any friend. I couldn’t help it. How tough would it be to watch your father die? I couldn’t even begin to understand.Through all of this, I did what I could – send her little quotes or jokes or songs, just to try to lift her spirits. And, at the very least, momentarily take her mind off of her ailing dad. After all, even though her dad wasn’t doing well, life still goes on and she still had to come to work most days. I felt terrible for her. I felt it in my bones. And there was nothing anyone could do to make her feel better – It’s the circle of life. But that doesn’t make it any easier.This went on, day after day, for what felt like several weeks. I remember one evening, June 17, 2014, my partner and I had sat down to watch some TV and chat after dinner when I received a few texts from my friend. The texts were long and she was expressing the pain she was dealing with. I started crying as I read them, learning more about the toll that her father’s suffering was taking on her. I told my partner that when something happens to my parents I hope its quick so that they don’t suffer, and because I didn’t think I would be strong enough to handle all that my friend was going through. I distinctly remember this conversation.The very next day I was on break at work and my friend was telling me that she had talked to her dad the night before, while still under the care of hospice, and got confirmation – from him – that he was ready to go. This broke my heart down. I felt for her. Yet, what she was truly feeling, I could not understand, as I still had my dad and, in fact, had just talked to him! As my break was ending, I assured her that Jesus was sitting bedside for her dad and that he was in good hands. I gave her a hug and went back to work, carrying the weight of our conversation.About 15 minutes later I learned that my own father had a massive heart attack, was in the hospital, and the prognosis was not good. It was not long before he was in the care of hospice himself and I found myself in the same situation as my friend. Now I could fully understand what she was feeling.
While very different situations, we both lost our dads within 4 days of one another. I cannot help but think that God was preparing me – with all of those quotes, songs and thoughts that I had sent my friend, I would also helping myself…I just didn’t know it at the time. And I didn’t know that Jesus would be sitting bedside for my dad, too.Just one more example of a non-coincidence. Life isn’t guaranteed. And every situation that someone is in is one that you could, one day, find yourself in, too. Judging a person’s situation is not an option. Love your friends and cherish them. You never know what their purpose in your life is.