Saturday, April 14, 2012

Loving Others Where They Are

God has laid a certain phenomenon on my heart and has allowed me to observe, over a long period of time, how it has played out in my life and in the lives of those around me.  I have noticed that I, and others in my life, only want to help people when it is on our terms or when it is convenient for us.  There are days when I am absolutely exhausted.  I am worn out from my duties as a mom, wife, and full-time school teacher and I just want to come home after picking up Nora-Kate from day care, sit down, and read books with her.  Sometimes, she wants to do that, too (she loves books), but other days she wants to go outside and ride in her car while Mommy pushes.  I have found myself, on the days when she wants to go outside and I literally feel like I am about to fall asleep, trying to get her to do what I want her to do, which is to read books or play a quiet activity.  This doesn't happen very often, but when it does, she gets frustrated because she wants to go outside and I get frustrated because I don't want to go outside.  Consequently, I came to the realization that playing quietly may not be what she wants, or what she needs to feel loved her.  Sadly, in those instances, I really just want to love on her and spend time with her according to my desires and not make the sacrifice to do what she wants to do.

I have seen this play out in my teaching career as well as my other relationships.  I want to help my students, but I tend to want to do it on my terms.  "God," I'll pray, "I really want to help this child, but he's just not seeing it my way" and I get frustrated at the child.  If I am getting frustrated at my child, my student, my husband, my friend, or other family members when they don't see things the way I see them, then I have to admit that the problem lies within me and not them.  The problem is with my own motives.  Clearly, I am not trying to help them or love them according to their needs, but only the way I am comfortable with showing them love. 

Radical love, which is normal love to Jesus, means stepping out of our comfort zone, forgetting our own needs and desires, and giving the other person whatever they need to know that we and Jesus love them passionately.  If we are trying to help someone or mentor them and we're getting frustrated with them, then I believe we need to check our motives.  The problem may be with the one who is "trying" to help them.  Jesus died on the cross for our sins, not because He felt like it, but because it was what we needed so that we could know TRUE LOVE.  He made the ultimate sacrifice for us, so I believe that I can make trivial sacrifices in my own life to show someone else I love them the way Jesus does.  This love does not come naturally to me, nor do I believe it comes naturally to any human because we are, by nature, selfish.  If it came naturally to us, Jesus wouldn't have had to tell His disciples in the book of John to "love one another.  Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this, all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."  It is a love we have to work at perfecting and continue to learn from Jesus daily.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Myth Buster?

I have often heard it said that God will not give anyone more than they can handle.  That statement makes me cringe and my stomach churn because I don't see that concept anywhere in the Bible.  People often repeat that phrase when they're trying to comfort someone.  They say it because it makes us feel good, but that does not mean it is Scripturally based.  In my opinion, there are two reasons why people repeat that sentiment in the middle of a tragedy: one, they get it confused with 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, or two, they mean that with God's help we can face anything life throws at us.

If people are getting that statement confused with 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, which states "So, if you think you are standing firm, don't fall!  No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; He will not let be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it," we must be careful to consider what Paul is referring to in this Scripture.  He is referring to temptation and sin.  The verse states that no temptation can overtake us unless we choose to let it.  God's promise here is that He will always provide a way out of temptation so that we don't have to sin; we just have to seek His way out.  Making the choice to take God's escape route when faced with temptation makes us more like Him.

On the other hand, some people might mean that with God's help, we can face and handle anything that comes our way, no matter how rough, tough, or fierce it is.  No matter how hard the battle is, no matter how severely the storm rages, with God's help, we can and will overcome it.  The problem with stating that fact through the words "God will not give us more than we can handle" is that it could cause people to start to doubt God's faithfulness when they're in the midst of a storm they really feel they cannot handle.  It can cause people to turn away from the living and true God because we start to ask the question, "I thought you said God would never give me more than I could handle?  Well, I CAN'T handle this.  I'm not strong enough!"  When we are in a storm that shakes our world, that turns it upside down, and shakes the entire foundation of our lives, we really don't feel that we can handle it.  And we CAN'T!  That's why we need God's strength to get through it.  God will give us trials that we can't face alone; those are there to draw us closer to God and to rely on Him when we literally cannot see the next step in front of us (James 1:2-4).  When we have no idea which way to go or where we're going to get the strength to move, that's the PERFECT time to rely on God.  He is faithful; He is faithful through the good and tough times.  He has already won the battle, and if we are His followers, we have already won, too!

When my husband and I decided to step out on faith to follow God's leading me to be a stay-at-home mom, we had no idea where the money would come from.  We did not see an answer; we did not see the provision, but that's where faith came in.  It's not faith if we already have the answer.  We must put our faith in God 100% and trust Him when he asks us to step, leap, or dive forward.  We put our faith in Him and wait on His timing to provide just what we need right when we need it.  We will question things, such as situations and outcomes.  It's sort of natural to do that.  I know I am selfish by nature, so when I question God about why a certain situation or outcome occurs, it's because I am miserable or am experiencing discomfort.  His plan is perfect and I just have to continue to trust in His promises!