Wednesday, January 29, 2014

He is Truth

Today is going to be a harder day to write, not because I am struggling with God and miscarriages, but because I am struggling with my youth. Perhaps, I shouldn't write this, but I feel an urging to do so, if not for anyone else, then for my own future benefit. As many of you know, Simeon's and my marriage has been under strong attack over this last year and a half. Right now, though, we are on the upward climb towards victory. I don't know when it happened--when I stopped sitting in the muck and mire of my sin (bitterness, bitter envy, anger, unforgiveness, ect.), and when I started being confident in the Lord, but it did. As I look back, I see that it isn't because of one monumental moment, or even multiple monumental moments. The victories have come through a series of choices that chose to obey God. I know that our marriage is not the only one that has suffered, and I feel a strong sense of humbleness that God would lay this on my heart to write, as well as a deep ache and burden for marriages that Satan is attacking! As I was praying last night, God kept giving me key words to write this, and so I feel I must--because He is Truth, and truth eliminates the dark and illuminates our sinfulness. As I look at the series of choices I have made in my own personal walk, I have seen a few themes, in choosing life and redemption with my marriage.

1. God. This seems like an obvious answer, and honestly, it kind of is. I had to choose to believe Him. I had the hardest time laying aside my feelings of betrayal, loneliness, and distrust of Him. I remember people telling me that "God is close to the brokenhearted". You know what? I firmly believe that God is close to those, brokenhearted or not, that chose Him, choose to believe Him and seek Him. While we are in the midst of the most hopeless situations, you don't want to turn to Him, because you know that He could have prevented this (whatever 'this' is in your/my life). I remember one of the choices I made was to say "God, whatever you're doing with this, I trust you. I believe you." Did I believe that statement for awhile? No. However, because of this decision to choose God, and His Will over my own, my heart softened toward my Creator and Father once again. Slowly, but surely, my face was turning towards His Ultimate Glory--and it was okay. I was okay. The tears and cracks in my broken heart, were coming together to create a whole new picture. Choose Christ. Choose truth. Choose healing that only He can provide.

3. Gravity. Examine the pure gravity of the situation you find yourself in. Is it something that you need to really work on, or is it something that was taken out of context and had taken a huge offense to. Either way, there is work that needs to be done, but examining how dire the actual situation is, will allow you to see objectively, the steps that need to be taken to restore the love and respect that was in place.

2. Gossip. Many times, when we had problems in our marriage, I would complain to whoever would listen. In my head, I was venting, trying to make sense of what was happening, my insides were screaming for the love and attention I felt I deserved, but wasn't getting from Simeon. I can't remember where it clicked, that the more I "vented" the more people were seeing Simeon in a bad light. Simeon is not confrontational. He will avoid all conflict if at all possible. So the more I "vented" the more, in truth, I gossiped about my husband! I came to the conclusion that the best rule for "venting" is not that it is wrong or bad, but what were my (or your) intentions with it. If you can find someone, a friend, that will listen, show compassion, and love you, great I guess. Better yet, find someone who will do all that and more. Find a soul of discretion, and not only someone who will love you and listen, but one who will challenge and encourage you to do what is right, regardless of our feelings.

3. Go. Speaking of people to talk to, be careful how many you go and talk to. The more you talk (and if your spouse is withdrawn or quiet, like Simeon and I were at different points), the more your spouse is painted in a bad light. The more people, by human nature, will start taking sides. Marriage is a battleground, and as Christians, we need to not step on the mines of gossip or sides. One of the best ways to avoid this is to go to counseling. Find a God-fearing couple that has been through the worst, and have mentors.

4. Grace. You are sinful. You are saved by nothing other than grace. Have grace for your spouse. It is all too easy to get into the rut of taking everything the wrong way--because of the hurt that we have nurtured for all too long. Most spouses aren't out to hurt each other. I certainly don't wake up every morning wondering how I can ruin Simeon's day, but sometimes, something rude, and totally ungracious comes out of my mouth, and it hurts him.

5. Goodness. Look for the goodness in each other, because as Christians and trying to be reflections of Christ, we have His goodness in us. Watch for the things that are good in your spouse. Sure, they may not be the things we want but ultimately, we need to be as Christ is with us, and our standards for our spouse, should be Christ's standards for us. We shouldn't need skinnier, more attractive, help out around the house standards. We need standards such as "Is he leading this family to Christ?", "Is she encouraging him to be the best leader that he can be?"...not the former. Look for the goodness, because then grace will come because you see the goodness, you are looking for it. To me, it seems that negative thoughts about your spouse grow and grow and grow--even if it might be the same thing over and over--it grows. Whereas the goodness factor, doesn't usually change, but is not being encouraged, and the negative overtakes what Godly attributes they do have, slowly choking them out like weeds, until it is just a memory in our minds. Being a Faithful spouse to Christ first, will inherently, let His goodness reside within us.

6. Giving Up. If you are married, you DO NOT GIVE UP! I know it's easy to sit in misery--it requires no work. It's easy because you know that you will always be miserable, and you don't have to experience hurt at yet another, outside force. Honestly, it doesn't matter what happens in your marriage, because Satan's prime tools of destruction are feelings, and those are always the same, no matter your situation. Selfishness, anger, bitter envy, bitterness, hurt, betrayal, loneliness, despair, hopelessness,  and no one understanding your situation the way you want them to. I may not know how someone else experienced the journey to those emotions, but I know those emotions. To be 100% transparent here, there were days in this past year when I was so hopeless, I would wish for death and divorce. I am not kidding. I have a husband, God bless him, who refused either option. We made a covenant before God. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He cannot steal what you hold onto with such a fierce, God-abiding tenacity. He cannot kill something that is protected by our Father. He cannot destroy what you have not given up. In this case, I did have a monumental moment. At one point in time, Simeon hurt me dreadfully. I remember crying to God wanting to give up, and what I heard in response floored me, for He said, "I never gave up on the cross." 1 phrase, 7 words, and it rocked me. He never gave up on me and if I claim to be a Christian, how can I give up on my husband or family?

7. Grow. After you have made the decision to not give up, you have to make the decision to grow. This may mean putting your hobbies aside to work on the garden of your marriage (analogy courtesy of Mark Driscoll). Grow things together, and cultivate kindness, encouragement, love, respect, compassion, and repentance. Even though I have only been married for 4 years, I know one thing with all of my heart and soul: Marriage is hard work. Even in the best of seasons, when there is abundance, a garden still needs to be harvested. There is no down time in marriage. Work together, grow together and enjoy each other.

I really don't have any more "G" words, but I do have another thought. Many times over the last year, people would tell me stories of cases worse than mine with miscarriages. Honestly, I felt bad for them, but I didn't care. This may rock a couple of theological things, I really don't know. I believe that our God is a God of Individuality--He looks at each of us, individually, and either rejoices in and for us, or mourns and weeps for us. So, here's the statement. It is okay to think that your situation is the worst one because it is the worst one you've ever had to personally deal with. However, if we wallow, allow our selves the self pity for so long, just focus on our own pain--that is wrong.  Going through trials allows us the ability, once we are through, to help others through trials. They give us the ability to lead the broken to Christ, to shower others with compassion and love, because we know. We have been there.

I am not so delusional to think that Simeon and I are done with trials, done with tribulations, or over the worst of it. We are over the worst of it for this particular situation--because I, and him, have chosen obedience to our Lord and savior. I am fearful of this post, of the criticism it will possibly create. I am young, our marriage is young. I do not know all, but this post, is from life, what I do know. I have opinions, that I think match up with the word of God, but what if just one of them doesn't? What if I am wrong, and am publicly announcing these things for everyone to see. I am encouraged by one man's writings. I know that I still have much growing and learning to do, so I ask for your grace if anything in this post is contradictory to the Bible.

 "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Monday, January 6, 2014

He is Mighty

I am sitting here, on the first day of our fast, as well as the first day of my half marathon training, just allowing myself to think. Nope, that's wrong. I am allowing myself to fear. From a young age, fear has always been my constant companion.

Lately, I have been reading a few books, one of which is Voice in the Wind, the first book of an amazing trilogy. It centers around a young Christian girl, Hadassah, from Galilee that was in Jerusalem at the time of the Roman Siege. Through  series of grief (she is the only one left in her family) and grace (Roman soldier not killing her, getting grain, ect.), she becomes a house slave in a Roman's family's home. During this era, even being a Christian was dangerous--they were crucified, sent to the games, and other wretched things.

Okay, so, you're probably wondering why I needed to elaborate on this book, that seemingly has nothing to do with my present situation. During the book, Hadassah has a constant companion of fear, that I believe all of us who have read the book, relate to all to well. Fear of sharing God's truth, as well as the fear of staying silent.

I had two reflections this morning. One of which, was that I am scared to run the half marathon, and scared to do the Daniel Fast. Let me rephrase that, I am scared of failing at both of them. The fear that has been my constant companion, is not being good enough and always being a failure. The second reflection I had, was how silly is my fear? Hadassah, although a fictional character, wasn't fearful of not being good enough, she was fearful for the salvation of others. Her heart was for others, not for herself. Her heart broke for the destruction in their lives more than it broke for her circumstances. Once free, she was not only a slave to others, but in many ways, a slave to fear. Fear held her back.

So I am sitting here, with a different reflection on my heart, thanks to Francine Rivers' fictional character. I, will not be fearful of any failure, other than failing to tell one about Christ, through my actions, or my words--because ultimately, that's what matters. I find myself asking myself if I am furthering the Kingdom of Christ, or hindering it. I am hindering it, for the simple fact, that even if I am doing nothing, I am, in fact, doing nothing--and that is a hindrance.

I am not going to close with the typical "sports" verse about "running the race" or "doing all things unto Him". Each of those are wonderful encouraging verses. However, I will leave myself and you with this verse, simply because running the marathon and doing a fast, are not near as important as the possibility of failing my Heavenly Father:

 “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
Matthew 10:27-31