Tuesday, September 15, 2015

for the love ...

Almost twenty seven years ago I married this man. We promised for better or for worse, til death do us part, not having a clue what that really meant.

Like every married couple, we’ve had our ups and downs, but during the last seven years he’s mostly gotten the "worse." Surgery after surgery, migraine after migraine, seizure after seizure, trips to the emergency room, unexpected hospital stays.

Obviously this has not been a fun season for me, but I get a lot of compassion and sympathy for my “stuff.” People reach out to me, pray for me, care for me, look out for me.

He gets worry and fear and anxiety.

He’s my caretaker, and he is magnificent at it. But I know it’s also excruciating for him.

He leaves for work some days in agony, wondering if I’ll be ok. He cancels appointments sometimes, because he knows I need him. I am his priority.

When I tell him I’m sorry for all I put him through, he always says, “Hey! It’s my job.” And he doesn’t mean job in the drudgingly unwanted, wish-I-was-anywhere-but-here kind of way. He means that he is my protector, my warrior king, and he doesn’t take that lightly and never will.

But not many people reach out to him. Sometimes we forget the caretakers need us just as much as the ones being cared for.

You know where it says in Ephesians that husbands are to love their wives like Christ loves the church? That’s a mighty tall order indeed. But just as Jesus never walks away, or gets fed up and turns his back on his bride, neither has my husband. He is a brilliant example of the living and walking out of this verse. Along with the loving comes hardship and grief, but he never leaves me nor forsakes me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing him to Jesus. I’m just saying that he is really and truly following the instructions Jesus has given husbands. To love their bride. Forever, for better or for worse.

He GETS IT in a way that lots of guys never do. There is something so beautiful about being under the leadership and the protective arms of a man that loves me like this. It is comforting, reassuring and makes me feel safe. He is Jesus with skin on to me.

Maybe there’s someone you know who is a caretaker. Maybe they need to be cared for themselves. Let’s notice and reach out to them as they look after the precious ones depending on their care.

For the love of this man, I am humbled and grateful and so thankful, and I honestly don’t know where I would be without him. Honestly I can’t imagine.

I am still and forever his bride, in the truest sense of that word, and I pray that I never take that for granted. 

Til death do us part,

Sunday, September 13, 2015

but does he LIKE me?

Does this even matter?

I mean: God so loved the world ... His love is everlasting ... His love never fails ... nothing can separate us from His love.

Warning: Brutal honesty from here on out.

I've always always always struggled to "get" this. I believe it, absolutely. For you.

But for me? I have not had much success in getting this beyond my head and into my heart.

I sometimes still see God as a "gotcha God" ... one who is waiting for me to mess up so he can drop the hammer on me.

What kind of foolishness is this?!

And so I started to wonder, even if I do believe that God loves me ... I wonder if He likes me?

He sees me. That is meant for comfort, I know. But I fear disappointing him over and over so I waffle between being grateful he can see me and wanting to turn away and hide in fear. This is my default and it makes me so sad.

I wrote this in my journal recently:

"I know you love me, but do you like me? This is entirely different. I can love without liking. Have I assumed the same of You? I've never thought about it in these terms, but this is the crux of it. I've felt human love way more than liking - the approval part of liking, the unconditional part of friendship, that is. And I continue to seek it and am so disappointed when it doesn't materialize."

Do you like me? Even when I blow it? I know You love me still, but are You continually disappointed in me? This is important to know!

Romans 8:1 says this: "Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." He's given me that gift of no condemnation. But it's more than just love, it's acceptance. He made me for his purposes, but when I wander in the dark, when I miss him entirely, does he still like me? How could he? Yet he must.

Continuing from my journal:

"Do your love and liking go together? Can one be separated from the other? If not, I should be living in the light of that truth. Not shrinking away from you.

Am I so focused on the desert that it feels like disapproval when it may just be preparation for your as-yet unknown plan? Can I stop striving and rest in that truth? Believe it with my whole heart?

I must, or I will stay stuck, constantly asking this question: What's the point of me?

I am weary of trying to please, trying to figure that out so I can win the approval of man, when all that matters is that I already have YOURS.

It seems that your love for me is not what's been tripping me up all these years, but instead your "like" for me." 

Jesus intercedes for me. God protects me and provides for me, he doesn't abandon me. He doesn't put me down or treat me harshly. He beckons me. He has dealt kindly with me. THESE are the marks of not just a lover but also a friend.

In fact, Jesus calls me "friend." My soul is filled with light - the light of your approval, as your friend.

This changes everything.

I have been pondering it for a couple of weeks now, and I have searched the Bible high and low. I have have been astounded at the number of times Jesus has called me friend. (Go! Check it out!)

Friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19). (That's me).
No greater love is this ... that one would lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). (He did.)
Friend, your sins are forgiven you (Luke 5:20). (They are.)
Friend of the Bridegroom (John 3:29) (I am.)

Make no mistake, I am not implying that my friendship with Jesus makes me his equal. NO WAY. Never ever ever. Sarah Young says in "Jesus Calling":

"The intimacy I [God] offer is not an invitation to act as if you were My equal - worship Me as King of kings while walking with Me hand in hand down the path of life."

Absolutely true ... I am not his equal. But he offers me his hand and his presence and his willingness to lead me through this journey called my life. And his friendship, pure and holy friendship as it was intended from the beginning of time.

So now, when I start to believe the lie of the "gotcha God," I am turning away. Back to the truth. To remember that even as he loves me, he also approves of me and he.likes.me.

How about you? Does this resonate? Have you ever wondered? Let's settle it now:

Yes. He loves us. He approves of us. And YES! He likes us!

Leaning in,

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

3 reasons to stay weak

Did you feel that?

That resistance in the depths of your soul to feel weak, to be seen as weak, to be KNOWN as weak?

I have to admit, today was a day of resistance for me. I got grounded. From driving. For six months. SIX MONTHS, you guys.

Because of seizures. Unpredictable, out-of-my-control, seizures. Can't wish them away, push them away, "strong arm" them away, even pray them away. They come at random intervals, and with each occurrence I am again grounded.

Now listen up: I'm not looking for sympathy. I've been feeling sorry for myself all day, and that's quite enough. (Not that I won't go there again, but I don't want to take up residence there.)

But tonight, I got thinking about weakness. Physical weakness. I've read some good stuff about that recently, even this morning, and wouldn't you know that I need it right now!

For example, this was part of today's (today's!!) devotion from Jesus Calling (by Sarah Young):

Accept each day exactly as it comes to you. By that I mean not only the circumstances of your day but the condition of your body.

On some days, your circumstances and your physical condition feel out of balance: The demands on you seem far greater than your strength.

Yes, my friends, today is one of those days.

Weakness comes in lots of forms, right?

Physical, yes. Emotional, definitely, Circumstantial, without a doubt.

But today I found three good reasons to sit in  my weakness.

I don't have what it takes to keep going like I've been going, doing what I've been doing. I only have what it takes to keep being me, frail and broken. Yet in my frailty, my brokenness, even my grounded-ness, I am keenly aware that TRYING HARDER is not going to help me. It will send me straight into discouragement and disillusionment. But faith? Faith that God knows, cares, loves, has a plan? Well, that brings encouragement to me and illuminates this day.

God always gives me more than I can handle. Always. What, you say? I thought it was the other way around! God NEVER gives me more than I can handle, right?

NO. (First this is nowhere to be found in the Bible - check it out!) This is so important - don't miss this - if He only gave me what I could handle, why in the world would I ever need him for anything? Dependence on Him for all that "more" is required. Trying to handle it on my own? Well, see above. I don't have what it takes.

When I am weak, He is strong. He is at His best when I am at my worst, because only then do I cry out for Him, surrender completely to Him, trust Him altogether. If I'm being honest, I might throw myself at Him only when I get to the end of myself, but He is there waiting every.single.time and proves Himself not just faithful but STRONG. For me. He fights for me. He loves me. He waits for me to run out of myself.

So today, right now, as I sit here in weakness, I am resolved to stay at the end of myself, to accept by faith that I simply can't handle this (whatever the "this" of the day is) on my own, and to remember and trust that when I'm weak, then He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.