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?

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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.

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Where is God When We are Hurting?

Driving down the highway on a cloudy Pacific Northwest afternoon, melancholy engulfed my thoughts.

I found myself stranded on a tiny raft while the shark, depression, circled, seeking the perfect opportunity to devour me.

The parallel between the weather and my mood were not lost on me.

In my scramble for hope, I gazed heavenward with the whisper of one word,“Jesus…” and then trailed off, not sure where to go from there.

I have days like these—dark, listless, ash-colored days—and when I do, loneliness feels closer than Him. It is nearly impossible to remember He is near when He feels so distant.

Where is God when we are Hurting?

Is He even listening?

Cresting a hill, the horizon opened up before me, displaying a gorgeous view of evergreens set against the endless pale sky. Tears began to well in my eyes as frustration filled my heart and spilled out of my mouth to Him.

“Why can’t you just come here and sit next to me? It’s not fair.”

I furrow my brow like a frustrated child and question further, “Why can’t I get to see you like Moses or other people in the bible?”

Just then, as the words fell from my mouth, a glorious ladder of sunshine appeared through the clouds and shone down on the hills in front of me. My breath caught in my throat and in my mind’s eye, I saw God’s hand placing Moses in the cleft of the rock.

In that very moment, a window of understanding opened in my heart as tears rolled down my cheeks.

He hides Himself from us because He loves us.


Then Moses said, “Please show me your glory.”

But He said, “You cannot see my face, for no man can see me and live.”

…Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:18-23


I admit that because my eyes cannot see Him, I doubt.

It is tempting to want a God I can see physically when I am in pain. Because of this, I accuse Him of not caring enough to be here with me. This world is painful and I am human and I forget there is a good reason I can’t physically sit with Him.

In His graciousness He does not hold this against me, instead, He remembers I am but dust. His spirit nudges my spirit and I am reminded He is in me and I in Him.

No matter how many times doubt invades my faith, I am confident that when I am weak and faithless, He remains faithful. In His own time and in His own way He reminds me;

“If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself..” 2 Tim. 2:13


He is near

His glory is seen all around; It is the hope found in the whisper of a kind word and a comforting smile. Also, it is the grace we find to continue on in the every day—even the gray, listless ones. It shines down upon Jacob’s ladder, resting on evergreens set against an endless pale sky, which causes a girl at the end of her rope to bow in reverence.

The beauty of this world and the majesty of a new day is simply His back as He passes by and lifts His hand.

He is near after all (He is near to the brokenhearted…Psalm 34:18) and yes, my friend, he is listening. He is moving and working even when we do not see Him with our physical eyes.

I wouldn’t be able to handle Him in all His glory sitting next to me.

I realize now, we wouldn’t want to see Him just yet, not here, not now, not with these eyes.

And so, He lovingly protects me.

There will come a day when my own eyes will behold all of His glory;

“…yet in my flesh, I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold and whom my eyes will see… Job 19:26-27

But until that day, I choose the God that is too big to be seen with my human eyes and instead is seen with eyes of faith. He is the God that does not fit in my finite mind but instead fits perfectly in my heart.


Where is God when we are Hurting?

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