Government, Churches, Schools, Health care, Media, The FDA, The workplace, Your sphere of influence… They all have opinions, they all have a direction, an expectation, a standard, a current or path that wishes to instruct you, shape you, and show you “how it’s suppose to be done”.
Certain churches might tell you, you have to do A,B,C before you can get to heaven, the school may tell you that your child talks too much or has “behavioral issues” and needs pills, the media will on one hand, tell you you’re too fat and offer you diet pills, and on the other hand convince you that Pop Tarts are considered a perfectly nutritious breakfast. Your doctor will push medications and vaccinations as a cure to your problems, your workplace may offer promotion in exchange for your integrity, peace or family life, your sphere of influence might encourage you to take out loans for things you cannot afford to keep up with people you don’t even like, and the government might try to convince you that they are a god… and we’ll leave that one alone.
Often times alot of these organizations, or individuals will use bully tactics, manipulations, lies, propaganda, sales pitches, guilt trips, threats, shame, or fear to get you to eat what they are serving. And for lack of knowledge, understanding, option or help most of us jump in the current, and swim in the direction we are told to, the path of least resistance.
Have you ever taken your shoes off, rolled your pants legs up and walked into a river with a strong current? It takes alot of energy and work to go against the flow of the water and often times you end up either getting out of the way or yielding to it’s strength and direction. There is a current in the world that is much the same, it’s moving strongly in a direction and it’s difficult to believe that there is any other way. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you make the decisions you make when it comes to your health, kids, education, food consumption, faith etc.? Have you ever really researched and educated yourself to find the truth about what decision is truly best for you and your family?
Let me be honest, I’m a bit rebellious by nature. Okay maybe alot rebellious, and those of you who know me well are probably having a good laugh right now. Just ask my poor mother, I’m sure she can attest of my strong-willed attitude as a little girl and my husband could give strong confirmation of my insubordinate tendancies as well. I’m not sure whether I should blame my full blooded Irish great grandmother or the incredible amount of German heritage that I have on my dad’s side of the family. Either way, as much as I work hard to correct the extremes of my personality as to build respect for authority, and submission to leadership, I have also learned why I appreciate my process of challenging the system, asking questions and finding my own answers. When I first became a young adult, and a mother I remember how dependant I was on the opinions and directions of the above listed entities, and wondering how I was ever going to fit in the box that they were tucking me into, I was empty and un-fulfilled, but then again so was everyone else so I accepted it as the way it was destined to be and jumped in. It didn’t take long before I was deep into debt, anxiety/depression, sickness, broken relationships and feeling like a failure.
Break on Through!
I was really discouraged with my life as a young adult, and frankly I was looking at those around me who’d been adults for a while and I wasn’t liking what I was seeing. I’d seen the product that the system was spitting out, and it wasn’t all that appealing. I was growing increasingly frustrated with my situation but it wasn’t until my husband and I got married and we started doing alot of reading together, that I began to see a paradigm shift in life. Each month we would read one new non-fiction book covering topics such as marriage, health, finances, parenting and education. I began to see a whole new side to the world, a side that offered hope, individuality, greatness and freedom. I would read about how to overcome my past and the pain that shaped my insecurities, how to break out of the box. I was challenged often times to question the decisions I’d made in areas where I’d just gone along with what I was told was the “normal” way to do things. I began to really look into each area and make decisions about what was best for me and my family even if that meant it wasn’t widely acceptable or flowing with the current. I began to feel much better about taking control of my life instead of letting society make all my decisions for me, but there was still a void that I couldn’t seem to fill.
A Need for The Compass
When I was pregnant with my second daughter, a business partner and friend invited us to attend his church one Friday night and we accepted. I sat and listened as the pastor told me about the love God has for me just as I was, and how He wants to have a relationship with me, a friendship, that He wasn’t interested in throwing a rule book at me, but changing me from the inside so I could become the greatness that He’s put in me. The scales began to peel back from my eyes and I felt new life spring from my spirit! I’d found the compass that I’d been missing and with that I found new purpose, new vision, new hope and excitment! Wow, even though that time was close to 10 years ago, I remember that brand new growth and excitment like it was yesterday, because I’m still growing and still excited about life! See, once I broke through and began to grow, I never stopped, as long as I continue to hunger for growth, truth and meaning I find myself being fed with knowledge, excitment and vision!
Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.”
Acts 2:28 “You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in your presence.”
You Have to Know You’re Free!
I’ve often heard different perspectives told of how slavery was abolished and captives were set free from their masters back years ago. What a glorious time that must have been, how happy and excited they were to be free, all of those wonderful people must have immediately packed up their things and headed out to explore their lives. The truth is though, that there were many that stayed slaves for years after slavery was abolished. Not necessarily because they chose to stay, although there were some who did, but because there were some that didn’t know they were free! They hadn’t been told that they were free, and didn’t know any better.
I look back at my life in the earlier years and realize I was in the same lack of knowledge, I had no idea the kind of freedom I had as a woman, a mother, a wife, or a child of the Most High God. I thought that what I had done in my past and what I was told to do in my present, was the end for me, there was no other way. Truth is a treasure and rewarder of those who diligently seek it. How do you know if what you are doing or how you are living, is right? If you could know the truth about life, would you want to know? If you were living a lie, would you want to know it? If there is a better version of your life waiting for you, would you want to find it? I dare you to challenge the norm, search for truth and answers and see what you come up with!
John 8:32 – “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I will say this again, would you quit buying things you can’t afford, with money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t even like?! It’s absurd the trouble we get ourselves into, just to keep up with the standard. I am certainly not saying to live a mediocre life, I believe God wants us to flourish, no I’m saying live a high quality of life because you are blessed not because you are self-proclaimed, when you force it, it shows, everybody knows it, and it’s unattractive. When you force yourself into a lifestyle that makes you appear more important than you are, it eats away your peace and joy, it causes stress and ugliness. So what you’re left with is large amounts of debt, a bad attitude, high blood pressure, and a Porsche, really? really. When you are focused, instead, on chasing your dreams, achieving your goals, and growing into a blessed life, it will speak of it’s own quality, you will be at peace, you will be a giver, and you won’t be afraid to share every piece of your abundance with those around you because you own it, it doesn’t own you.
What would you say if someone asked you what your gifts in life are? Would you say; Service, Care giving, Praying, Comforting, Healing, Communicating, Educating, Counseling? Perhaps something creative like music, decorating, cooking, sewing, crafting, building etc. or maybe you have a heart for children, young adults, inner city kids, financially supporting causes like widows, orphans, the homeless or natural disasters?
If you do know what your gifts and talents are, do you use them to serve yourself or to serve others? Chances are if you get that feeling that you don’t know your purpose in life, or feel empty and unfulfilled you aren’t using your gifts to serve somebody other than yourself.
I want to draw attention to a scripture in Mark, when Jesus was in the midst of giving away what God had placed in Him…
A woman who had suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years—a long succession of physicians had treated her, and treated her badly, taking all her money and leaving her worse off than before—had heard about Jesus. She slipped in from behind and touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with.
30 At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” 31 His disciples said, “What are you talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking, ‘Who touched me?’ Dozens have touched you!” 32-33 But he went on asking, looking around to see who had done it. The woman, knowing what had happened, knowing she was the one, stepped up in fear and trembling, knelt before him, and gave him the whole story. 34 Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”
Mark 5:25-33 (MSG)
This is such a powerful scripture for so many reasons and I’ve often heard it used when someone is preaching on, the faith of the woman who touched Jesus’ robe, however for this point, I want to draw attention to the highlighted portion, when Jesus felt the energy leave him when the woman touched him…
After Jesus says “who touched my robe?” The disciples almost scoff at his remark saying Uh, what do you mean pal, there are tons of people touching you! But the disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was saying, there were dozens of people pushing, pulling, grabbing and reaching out to Jesus so it wasn’t an issue of someone merely touching him, He’d felt energy leaving from Him, or the New King James version says “And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him…”
Eventually the woman confessed the story to Him and He commended her for her faith and sent her off to live a blessed life, which is amazing in and of itself, But why do you think Jesus was able to feel the power leaving Him? What was the power that was leaving Him? And how did this power leave Him?
Jesus walked this earth and freely gave away all that he had, there wasn’t one need He wasn’t ready and willing to fill. He had a passion that caused the gifts that were in Him to actively seek out the faith in a person whom would be willing to receive what He was giving. It would be as an analogy of His hands being on fire and He was constantly searching for an ice bath to submerge them in to cool them off!
Whatever your gifts are, did you know they are meant to be given away? Even further than that, they are meant to be given away in faith, faith that whom ever they reach that it will impact and change lives for the better. Only when we give our talents and gifts away, will we see the gift become even stronger than before.
How often do we do things out of obligation and not passion? How often do we turn away the needs of others because we “don’t have time” or capacity to deal with it because our busy lives have taken up too much of our thoughts, money, time and energy?
How often do you truly open your eyes on the journey of life and look around you to breathe in your surroundings and ask yourself what you have to give and how you can effectively give it away?
If you are a parent or a grandparent you probably understand that our children/grandchildren should be our number one mission field, yet how often are we just too tired to deal with them, and fill their ever nagging needs or take the time to communicate properly with them, teach them, spend time with them, laugh with them, understand them, all because we pour ourselves into so many other empty things day to day? This may be offensive, but even those “spiritual” or “worthy causes” and things we tangle ourselves up in are not always a positive thing, if they are getting more attention than God, our spouse or our kids and making us crabby, ugly or distant from those most important in our lives. – Oh yes I did just go there!
I pray that you will be sparked to ask those questions in your soul and that just as I’ve been spurred on, that you will begin to seek after a heart that gives away the gifts inside of you, so passionately and deeply that you feel the power leaving the depths of your spirit to reach and fill a need somewhere to someone so much so that you have to say “Who touched my robe?”
Be blessed, favored and highly annointed for the ministry of life,
Beyond Talent – John Maxwell
The Minister’s Life of Obedience – Windgate
Falling in love is easy. It seems we fall in and out of love with people as we would a favorite pair of shoes or chocolate cake….mmmm that sounds good, I need a piece of chocolate cake…okay so where was I, yes love, what is this epidemic of love and why doesn’t it last? Why is it that we seem to fall in love so easily but especially this day in age we can’t seem to make it last?
Well lets look at the word “Love” what does it really mean to love someone? Do we love our husband or wife when we have those gushy heartfelt feelings for them? Do those butterflies in our stomache or our racing heart indicate that we love them? What about that season of our relationship when our spouse can do no wrong, and we enjoy being around them every minute of the day, that must mean we truly love them.
“The person meant for you, is the person who will love you even when there’s no reason to love you.” – Unknown
I took the liberty of looking up the definition of the word “love” in the dictionary, and what I found disappointed me, the reference of the word love is in a noun form, and the definitions range from “a feeling of warm personal attatchment, to a sexual passion or desire.” Excuse me for saying so but that’s not LOVE, that’s LUST!
It doesn’t take much to feel a sexual passion or desire for someone else, I mean just look at your TV or favorite clothing magazine, they even know this, that’s why half naked people are plastered all over for you to see, because it appeals to the human emotion. Take a look at pop stars, I’ve seen grown men ad women bawling their eyes out because this pop star touched their hand, I mean it’s pretty obvious that we allow ourselves to become personally attached to pretty much anyone that can appeal to our emotions, so c’mon really, this is our definition of love?
I will say that those passing feelings are important, and I believe can and should be a part of your marriage, but they don’t last on their own, and when those gushy feelings go, it’s not an indicator of “falling out of love” with someone, it’s indicating that the small stuff is ending, and the largeness of marriage is beginning, and the largeness of marriage takes work, sacrifice, self-lessness, compromise, humility, grace, forgiveness and faith. (Really this applies to any deep relationship however I’m just touching on marriage in this post.)
There is a chapter in the bible when Jesus was dealing with the disciples’ objections to the stipulations of marriage. Up to the point that Christ walked, the law of Moses deemed it okay to divorce your wife and provided the process on how to do it. Wanting to badger Jesus, the pharisees asked him the question whether it was permissable to divorce your wife or not, and Jesus basically said, no, God’s design was for the institution of a man and woman to join in marriage was meant to be a life long covenant and that’s what Christ wanted to restore. He made the exception in dealing with adultery and you can read more on that in Matthew 19, but other than adultery, He said that he was restoring the original intent of marriage. The disciples were very discouraged by this statement…. but I love Jesus’ response to them….
10 Jesus’ disciples objected, “If those are the terms of marriage, we’re stuck. Why get married?”
11-12 But Jesus said, “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.” (Matthew 19:10-12 MSG)
I remember when my husband and I first got married, and every time he’d say or do something that made me mad, I would instantly go to that place in my mind that shut down and assumed we needed to just get a divorce. We’d enter those stressful seasons where just the sound of him blowing his nose sent me into a irritable fog, and I read it as an indicator that I just didn’t love him anymore and it was time to move on. See I grew up in brokenness and assumed that every good thing ended at some point. It wasn’t until God began to show me the truth about what it meant to love, that I realized I had the ability to love through hard times and pain, and as a matter of fact, that’s when love in it’s truest form was being lived out. Love is in fact a verb, an action verb, it’s the act of giving a person what he/she needs or wants when they don’t deserve it. It’s easy to love a person that’s loveable…
31-34 “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.
35-36 “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. (MSG)
Just think, if Jesus asks us to treat our enemies with such grace and mercy, how do you think we should be treating the one we’ve promised our hearts to for life? And might I add that sometimes when we are in the thick of battle in our marriage, it seems that our spouse is our enemy, so even more so this verse applies!
I want to very briefly venture through a typical wedding vow, this may have not been your exact wedding vow but you may have had some version of this to your spouse at your wedding….
I Jon take you Jane to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward…
For better or worse – It’s easy to love someone when they’re at their best, but what about when the two of you are growing at a different pace and don’t relate to or understand one another? Or how about when you’re in the middle of the stress of life and there’s alot of responsibility and not alot of fun? How about when you disagree on seemingly everything? Will it be as easy when you and your spouse aren’t spring chickens anymore and your spouse is growing hair out of his ears, or gravity takes it’s toll on your wife’s body after children and she’s not a young hot bod anymore?
In sickness and in health – what if the sickness is a thyroid disease and your spouses weight begins to grow or plummet? What if the sickness is terminal? How about mental or emotional sickness? Eating disorders, paralyzation, struggles with alcohol, depression, social or general anxiety, and the list goes on…
In good times and in bad – We all know how much fun marriage is when we’re in good times, but what about those bad times? Do they last? Is it possible to love someone during a bad time? Bad times are different for every couple, but when you find yourself in the middle of a season that you would refer to as a “bad time” how do you handle that? What should our response be? You feel lost, lonely, forgotten, taken advantage of, tired, bored, un-loved, un-cared for, what do you do? Does this part of the promise we gave to our spouse really apply to even those darkest and lowly of places?
There is no cut and dry answer to these questions, but they are questions that we all come face to face with. I will say that from experience, the more my husband and I go through in life together instead of giving up, the stronger and closer we become. He is my very best friend, and it’s not because we just magically get along or always see eye to eye, or are 100% compatible, it’s because we’ve resolved to live an excellent life in all areas including our marriage. As a matter of fact, I know when we hit those seasons of our relationship that seem so lonely and dark and I feel like giving up and running away, that we’re about to enter into a whole new level of our marriage and it’s always greater than the former level. Remember that tough times don’t last but tough people and tough marriages do!
When you feel that you and your spouse are on a different path, you can’t relate, you no longer like the same things, your’e not the same anymore, remember that we all grow differently, and the two of you will always grow apart, it’s what makes you human, the key is as you are on your own journeys, to continue to find eachother in the midst of it all, just the way you found eachother the first time. Appreciate your ever growing differences, instead of fighting for your own way, find the lesson in learning from the other person, embrace their uniqueness, shoot a smile across the room when chaos is breaking out with the kids to let the other know you’re on their side, allow God to open your heart and mind to new possibilities and perspectives.
Dare I say to you that maybe you’re the one that needs to change, not the spouse!! Live your life to serve, to truly love your spouse and find your friendship through everything, find a way to relate to laugh, to live, don’t give up. When the season is dark, know that there is hope, God always makes things turn for good for those who love Him, dark times don’t last. Enjoy the journey, you only get one.
It really discourages me when I see people hopping from relationship to relationship, in eager hopes that this next one will offer all that they’ve dreamed of. Thinking the grass is always greener, only to realize that no matter who you are with, you will always hit a point of work, it takes work to love others and love yourself. You have to be determined to get through the tough times if you want the great times to last, and those great times don’t come for free, the path of the great times comes through the tough times!
I have a good friend of mine who said something quite funny but so very true “If you have a King/Queen, don’t shuffle the deck, you might just end up with a Joker!”
I will not pretend to know your current situation or your past situations, but I encourage you to use divorce and giving up as a very last resort. Take your worries, your hurts and your fears to the Lord and let him heal you. He’s there to fill you up, because your spouse was never meant to be your source of feeling complete, God has to be your source, if you look to your marriage to fulfill you and keep you sustained, you will always be disappointed. Let God show you what it means to be whole, and allow your spouse to be your best friend on your journey….
God bless you and your marriage, there is nothing more powerful than unity!
Fit to Be Tied – Hybels
For Women Only – Shaunti Feldhahn
For Men Only – Shaunti Feldhahn
The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted – Dr. Gary Chapman