How to Love Even in the Hardest Relationships.

“I love her but she is so…”

As soon as the words spilled from my mouth something nudged at my heart and I found myself pausing. I left this discussion feeling uncomfortable about what I had said. In the same breath, I proclaimed love while pointing out a perceived flaw.

This conversation has entered my mind repeatedly over the last few months and has left me asking myself this question;

If I love someone, am I all in?

Am I prepared to love every bit of the people I say I love, even in those “hard” relationships, or is there conditions?

I know you can relate when I say “hard relationships.” You know who I mean; we love them—we really do—but, well, they’re hard to get along with.

I have friends and family that span all different backgrounds and ways of thinking, and I’ve realized since that day that either I love them or I don’t.

Period.

My heart was prodded because I see now that there is no room for “I love them but” in this world where Jesus died and forgave all.

“I love them but…”

They yell too much.

She’s angry all the time.

He is hard to get along with.

They make foolish decisions.

She’s so judgmental.

They’re really uptight.

He/She won’t help themselves.

(Insert undesirable quality here.)

How many times have I decided that my love for someone else has limitations or is dependant on how they behave?

Since this conversation, I have noticed myself almost (and yes, finishing) saying these four words.

These four little words trigger me to think before I speak now, and honestly, to think before I think.

Our feelings and thoughts about a person begin in our minds and inevitably find their way out of our mouths and settle into our hearts.

I’ve come to realize that catching these thoughts before they come out of my mouth is paramount to changing my whole perspective. To really, truly love a person fully, warts and all, with no conditions, means I don’t wait for them to change. And furthermore, I don’t point out “that thing” that drives me crazy about them.

It’s saying, “I love him/her/them.” Period.

Flaws left unspoken and grace abounding.

I have found that when I love this way, without limitations, and focus on why I DO love someone, these shortcomings that felt so unbearable all but disappear. A discontentment that I’ve had falls away when I actively choose to leave faults unspoken.

Much needed humbling.

This whole prodding from Jesus to love completely has humbled me in the process. I have several times imagined others saying “I love her, but…” about me.

It’s not pretty.

“I love her but…”

She’s habitually late.

She’s a procrastinator.

She’s afraid of too many things.

She’s a know-it-all.

She talks too much.

Oh, how the list could go on…

Loving a person wholly has prompted me to acknowledge my flaws and the grace that others have shown me in spite of them.

It’s interesting when I turn the spotlight on myself—suddenly other people’s flaws and weaknesses don’t seem so serious.

This is nothing new…

I know this isn’t a new revelation. Jesus has always taught love, acceptance, and forgiveness.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

We can know we’re told to love as He loved, but it’s amazing when you really put it into action. No buts.

Yes, we will disagree or not see eye to eye on something, but that is not where our focus should be.

When I care for a person my love should know no bounds. Their faults are a part of who they are, good or bad. I have found that the more I love without pointing out imperfections, whether to myself or others, I love more fully, completely, and freely.

It’s freeing for me. I believe purely because it’s a choice I’m making with no restrictions or conditions set on the other person. Love simply isn’t about other people changing.

I’ve heard it said, the measure of love is to love without measure. This quote has been attributed to St. Francis de Sales and Augustine of Hippo. Regardless of whoever said it first, they are absolutely right.

When we love without measure, we love completely and freely— we love without holding back.

Certainly, we all have deficiencies, flaws, and defects that make us less than loveable. But does this mean we deserve less love or a guarded portion?

No–

Not according to how Jesus loves.

“Let love be genuine…” Romans 12:9

The NIV version of this verse says sincere and the NASB says without hypocrisy.

The word “but” is a conjunction which is used to show a contradiction with the previously stated statement. Therefore, if I say I love them and then follow that with “but,” I partially negate my first statement.

Jesus didn’t leave room for a “but” when he told us to love one another.

Yes, those that we love will irritate us, annoy us, and rub us the wrong way.

It’s inevitable.

And I believe it may be precisely these times where we lean in and love them even more.

Those hard relationships may never get any easier and those people may never really become any easier to love. And yet, we must love anyway, because we have been so greatly loved—warts and all.

I want to extend grace to others above anything else because of the grace I have been given.

Although clearly, we can never love as fully and completely as Jesus does, we can always improve on how we love.

I believe this is a step in the right direction;

“I love them.”

Period.


I’m curious, have you found yourself saying, “I love them, but?” Would you like to join me on this journey of giving grace and loving fully? I’d love to hear what you think!

Do I Trust in GAD or GOD?

Do I trust in GAD or GOD? Snazzy little play on words, am I right?! *currently patting my own back. (Don’t worry, if you stick around long enough you’ll get used to my bizarre sense of humor)

And apparent lack of conventional writing rules, like actually discussing what the post is about.

Moving on—I’m assuming you’re here because you know what GAD is, or perhaps you’re curious to know.

GAD is the acronym for Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

I was diagnosed with GAD about 17 years ago although I have always dealt with an underlying nervousness or dread. These emotions are quite unexplainable to someone who doesn’t have this struggle.

The most simplistic way to explain GAD is having a nervous, sometimes doomed feeling that follows you literally everywhere and can’t be shaken. (Like that ugly cat that someone dumped off by your house which has decided that you’re it’s lucky new owner and loves to gift you regurgitated mice on your front porch in gratefulness.)

Yes, it’s as delightful as that little scenario.

I digress.

During extremely stressful times GAD causes me to have a near persistent bombardment of thoughts and feelings about something bad happening, especially in regards to those I love.

Living with GAD

Having an anxiety disorder means I become nervous and anxious beyond what would be considered normal over simple, everyday things. Something like sending my kids to other people’s houses or my teenage son driving can cause panic.

Things that other people find fairly easy to do can be extremely distressing for me and can often lead to a breakdown.

Having GAD also means I like love normal.

I love routine.

Because you see, it gives me the feeling of being in control (which I think we all know is about as real as a unicorn.) Any deviation from normal leaves me off-balance and out of my element.

My oldest son, for example,  just went on a week-long trip across the country.

Oh, I’m sure you can only imagine what fun that was for me!

Every frightening, uncomfortable thought that could materialize in my mind was present. The thoughts reverberated in my brain and down through my body, causing a channel by which everything else in my life funneled through.

I’ve learned to ask myself the same question every time I arrive at this point;

Do I trust in GOD or GAD?

There is always only two options:

  • I can trust in GAD—my feelings and thoughts I am experiencing.

OR

  • I can trust in God.

It is not easy living with an anxiety disorder that screams that something terrible is around the corner.

Quite frankly, it’s really, really hard.

Although having GAD is terribly difficult, I have found that God is bigger.

I don’t want to trust the crazy, irrational, lying fears and thoughts that race through my mind. I don’t want to live my life being held hostage by fear and what ifs.

I’ve tried that before. Surprisingly, it didn’t turn out too well for me.

Through much trial and error and many, many tears, I know that if I don’t want to believe the crazy in my head and body, I don’t have to. Sound too simplistic? Maybe it is, but it’s also entirely true.

A Spirit of Self-Control

God says He has given me a “sound mind” or “self-control” in 1 Timothy 1:7. In fact,  in this exact same scripture, he says that he DID NOT give me a spirit of fear.

GAD tells me to panic and to fear.

GAD also tells me that I can’t control myself and that I have to give in to the anxiety I’m feeling.

In short, GAD makes me feel like a victim.

God shows me I’m not.

I often have to make scary tough decisions and yes, sometimes I shrink away from them. When I do, I must acknowledge that I’ve allowed fear to dictate my life. It can be discouraging.

However, every time I struggle with GAD I look at it as an opportunity to lean in deeper to God.

Does this mean when I choose to trust God that all of the fear falls away?

Simply put, no.

I still feel the uncomfortable, prickly fear feeling that creeps up my neck and descends into my stomach.

GAD still says NOT to let the kids go or NOT to take that new opportunity.

But where does my trust lie? In the anxiety I experience or in the GOD of every experience?

Where does my trust lie? In the anxiety I experience or in the GOD of every experience?Click To Tweet

He has faithfully kept me, faithfully answered prayers and calmed my fears when I have humbly handed over the scary in my head.

He has promised peace and his promises are true.

I may still struggle with GAD but I have more peace walking in courage through the fear than I ever did when I gave in to it.

So, I continue to trust Him.

I don’t always do it perfectly and I’ve been known to fall apart.

But because of His grace and my daily dependence on it, I continue to pick myself back up and move forward on this journey.

I am not a victim.

I am a daughter of the King. (Even if my tiara’s a little crooked.)

I am redeemed.

These struggles and labels that I carry are not what define me and therefore I will not put my trust in them.


Do I trust in GAD or GOD?

How to Have Faith Like a Child and Choose Brave

If you’re always happy you’d never get the chance to be brave…” Emerson, aka. “Tiny pants”

How to have faith like a child and choose brave

There is a woman in our town that takes walks down the road almost every day. She walks a distance and then finds herself a street corner and dances, lifting her hands up, twirling around and waving at those passing by.

I’m not sure why she does this, everyone has their opinions on the matter. What I do know is that I have three boys that think she’s hilarious. They’ve dubbed her “the dancing lady.”

On a random Tuesday afternoon, my nine-year-old pointed out “the dancing lady” as we drove by.

“Mom, she’s just always happy, isn’t she?”

I glanced over to the right while driving, “Yeah, I guess she is.”

Emerson continued watching the “dancing lady” as we continued on.

“I think I’d like to feel like her all the time,” I commented nonchalantly with a smile in my rearview mirror.

“I wouldn’t want to.” He reflected while watching the world pass by outside his window.

“What do you mean?” I asked, meeting his pale blue eyes in the mirror.

“Well, if you were always happy, you’d never get the chance to be brave.” He stated matter of factly.

I couldn’t help but smile. “Yes… that’s really true.”

We pulled into the driveway a few minutes later and he ran off inside, on to the next thing with no clue as to how profound his words were.

The chance to be brave

I have kept those words close to my heart.

There is wisdom to be found in the words spoken by my nine-year-old on that random Tuesday afternoon.

I believe that children can be brave in ways that many adults don’t know how to be.

Mostly because I’ve watched my boys do scary things time and again, in spite of the fear they felt.

Like the time my middle son was brand new to baseball and his coach called him in to be the pitcher for the first time.

(He is his mama’s son and deals with anxiety as well; *sigh* sorry son.)

He was terrified to pitch but wanted to try.

I watched him walk up to the pitcher’s mound, heart pounding, palms sweaty and nerves on edge. Anxiously glancing my way every once in a while for support.

Everything he was feeling was telling him to run, but he stayed. He pitched.

Was he the best?

No.

But he did his best.

You could see how he walked a little taller after coming off of that pitcher’s mound with a few strikes under his belt.

He wore those strikes— as well as the walks— as a badge of honor.

Because he chose bravery.

Humble like a child…

It’s no wonder that Jesus gave instructions for people to become like a child;

Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18: 4

Children see things through eyes unpolluted by the world. Faith in a God that doesn’t make sense on an intellectual level isn’t all that hard for a child.

They realize, unlike most adults, that maybe they don’t know it all.

They still live in a world of possibilities and believe in the likelihood of the unseen.

It humbles me when I look at things through their perspective.

When I’m upset or anxious, my very first thought is not a chance for bravery or for humility. My first thought is the preservation of my perfect environment — “How do I get rid of this?!”

Instead of chasing down happy at every turn, I can choose bravery instead.

Sometimes simply being content right where we are is choosing brave. Contentment in those hard moments isn’t easy but it’s so worth it. And we can be assured that something bigger and better is being built from them.

I am still amazed by his comment.

I’m a proud mama knowing he’d rather take the opportunities to be brave over being happy all of the time.

It sounds a bit like the faith God asks us to have.

To trust that this isn’t all there is—the bad, the ugly and all this in-between—there is so much more. We just have to choose brave in the meantime.

The simple faith of a child…

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss my opportunities to be brave.

I realize they can come in the tiniest of moments.

And what I’ve come to find, is that in these moments to choose brave, wisdom often walks right alongside.

Like out of the mouth of my nine-year-old son on a random Tuesday afternoon.


 How to Have faith like a child and Choose Brave.

How to Have Hope Through a Season of Depression

The first bending of my soul from depression was over the summer season, a rather unlikely time to be sad, however, depression doesn’t play by the rules.

So now, when this season of early sunrises and waning light arrives, it brings with it a bittersweet reminder of the time I waited in the middle.

The middle of depression…


How to have hope while waiting through a season of depression.

The summer held two more months of stifling heat but in the gentle breeze I hear the soft sigh of trees, “I grow tired of sprouting leaves and long for autumn’s rest.”

I feel a leaning inward when August tumbles precipitously into September. This time period prompted me, like the trees, to await the relief of another season. Nestled within their shadow’s stretch, the whispers of fall beckon as I longed for the weather to match my soul’s condition.

Depression caused a tenderness in my spirit like a broken arm before a splint. It brought with it an uncomfortable waiting…

For sanity.

Reprieve.

For hope.


Hope in the middle

My mind drifts from the trees to my boy with the chestnut hair and dark eyes as he strolls over. He plops down next to me and lays his head on my shoulder, looking up with lashes a mile long.

“I hate being in the middle.” He exhales as his plump lips tighten into a thin line.

“What do you mean?” I ask gently, feeling his tender heart at that moment.

“I’m stuck in the middle of my brothers. They always get their way because one is older and one is the baby, and it’s not fair.” His sad brown eyes shift over to where his brothers play and relay the seriousness of his situation.

Kissing his forehead, I think of the picture he unknowingly painted with his words. My son grieves his place in the middle and I grieve my waiting during the pain; that complicated, unpleasant in-between.


 Aren’t we all waiting here in the middle?

To be human is to wait. We can find hope in the waiting—a yearning and a stretching towards something greater—often though, we harden during the wait.

We can miss the very best.

The Israelites waited for the promised Messiah, some, having grown tired of the wait missed Him altogether. Walking beside humanity on those dusty roads so very long ago was the very living, breathing, fulfillment of all our waiting.

He wasn’t only missed, he was completely rejected. He didn’t look how they thought he should so hearts were hardened and He was sentenced to death.

And now we find ourselves awaiting His return again—sure that we won’t miss Him this time around.

Like my boy, we lament the middle and the places where we feel stuck between the old and the new. We feel destined to never get our way.

And yet…

The middle is where grace is able to meet us best.

It is in the waiting, where He calls us His own. It was in the middle that He came down to us.

Walked beside us.

Wept with us.

Bled for us.

God with us.

The pain finds us here in the middle, somewhere between birth and death.

But so does He.

In the hospital.

At the graveside.

Through the depression.

Before the bad choice.

After the betrayal.

Despite the consequences.

He doesn’t leave us alone in the middle.


Content in the waiting

“We can’t see Him.” My dark-eyed boy answers as I tell Him of the Savior’s presence.

“Can you see the wind?” I question.

“No.” He replies.

Squinting, we gaze heavenward, toward the gentle giants above. “They feel the wind.” I point to the willows that bow low to touch their humble beginnings and sway in the summer’s breeze. “The wind becomes visible because of them.”

“So, you see, there’s no mistake. He placed you perfectly, right there in the middle to help hold up your brothers,” I say with a smile and a kiss on his freckled nose.

The boy with the dark eyes runs off, content for the moment with his place in the middle. And I, once more, find peace in the waiting.


I’m reminded that healing often happens in the waiting.

Because waiting takes faith and faith needs the wait to work properly. I don’t want to make the grave mistake of hardening during the wait and destroying the hope he places right beside me.

So, I wait.

He is here in the wait with me. Just as mighty as those towering willows, which bow low, he bends down to touch the simple. He speaks life through the smallest of places—like a hazel-eyed boy stuck in the middle.

I wait in the summer’s heat, in the middle, bending, but not breaking beneath the gusts of his love. Awaiting, like the trees, for autumns rest.

Here, I find the hope my heart has been longing for.

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.” Psalm 130:5 NASB


If you or someone you love experiences depression please know this; you are loved, valued and more precious than you know. Please seek help and seek out someone you trust to talk to about it. Whether you are the one going through the valley or the loved one helping – bringing your pain into the light brings healing.

Please feel free to contact me, I would be privileged to pray for you or your loved one.


 Awaiting Autumns rest-How to have hope through a season of depression.