compassion, suffering, example, God’s love, Jesus, love others, redeemed, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Suffering With: Compassion’s True Nature Revealed through Jesus

Today’s interpretation of ‘compassion’ doesn’t compare to God’s intended design. The true nature of ‘suffering with others’ was perfectly exemplified through the life and death of Jesus.



When I entered my initial internship for hospital chaplaincy, I believed I was equipped both theologically and emotionally to provide the care my patients would need. After all, I was an adult who had already raised a family, taught the Bible for twenty years, and had experienced, (and had therapy for), several painful life events.

Astonishing – how wrong we can be when we believe we’re so right.

Our interpretation of compassion doesn't compare to God's intended design. 'Suffering with others' was perfectly exemplified in the life and death of Jesus. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #compassion #GodsLove #redeemed #suffering

The World’s Compassion

Chaplaincy internship involved many spiritual books assigned to us, weekly theological reflections, group meetings/assessments with fellow interns, and a weekly one-on-one with our supervisor. It didn’t take long for most of us to ascertain that, while our theological training was imperative and our life experiences significant, how these aspects came together to minister care to a hurting soul was vital.

The word compassion is thrown around frequently in our culture. It seems the word is used to pull at our heartstrings and guilt us into performing a service. Or, to give to a cause in which someone, or an entity, believes we should. You know what I mean. I imagine your mailbox is full of the same appeals as mine.

Don’t you have any compassion for these-

  • starving children
  • wounded vets
  • people with cancer
  • lost people
  • dying people in (name the country)

And if you’re a television watcher…well, the visual is worse.

Inadequate Compassion

While I was in chaplaincy, I was seeing a wonderful Christian therapist. At times, I felt overwhelmed and deeply inadequate by the needs I faced each day. My heart, my own compassion, could not handle the onslaught of pain and suffering. I remember the day I expressed this to her, and she told me, “I believe we already have a Savior to handle the world’s pain. We don’t need another one.” Ouch.

But the truth is, like so many other words in our world, compassion has been co-opted to take on a new meaning. Rather than the way, God, our Father used it, or Jesus used it, today it is used more as ‘feeling sorry for.’ With this meaning, we can throw money at the above list, or even a little time, feel warm and fuzzy, then go on our merry way.

However, in the Old Testament, where the Hebrew word is Racham, it is translated to ‘love deeply;’ it is used most often in Isaiah.

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

Isaiah 30:18, NIV

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

Isaiah 49:15, NIV

Can we fathom this love?

Suffering With

The Greek word splanchnizomai, “to be moved as to one’s inwards”, is used most often when referencing Jesus’ compassion.

That one is a bit more difficult to grasp. Imagine your child with a raging fever and your willingness to take his/her place just to ease the pain and suffering.

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9:35-36, NIV

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Matthew 14:14, NIV

As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’

Luke 7:12-14, ESV

‘Pain-Avoiders’

Henri Nouwen describes it well in a book he co-wrote with two others.

The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, which together mean “to suffer with.” Compassion means to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion into the condition of being human.

It is not surprising that compassion, understood as suffering with, often evokes in us a deep resistance and even protest…It is important for us to acknowledge this resistance and to recognize that suffering is not something we desire or to which we are attracted. On the contrary, it is something we want to avoid at all cost. Therefore, compassion is not among our most natural responses. We are pain-avoiders…

Henri Nouwen, et al, Compassion, A Reflection on the Christian Life  

Full Immersion

Dear friends, sisters, is it not much easier to remain at a safe distance from sufferers than to be in “full immersion” with them? Wouldn’t we rather tweet: “I’ll pray for you!” with an added heart emoji than go sit in silence with a depressed friend?

Let’s be painfully honest – it takes little effort to say, “Let me know if you need anything,” but to take the initiative to keep her kids one day a week? Seriously?

I find it much more challenging to experience the powerlessness of someone in grinding poverty than to go to my intellect and tell her about job opportunities. I prefer to inform her of the stage of grief she is in than to weep and mourn with a sister who is mourning.

Because truly? While the practical answers are necessary, they are not what Jesus meant by compassion.

Jesus’ Example

There was a time when I was very good at doling out useless offers and banal, spiritual phrases. Then cancer hit my family, (my dad, Gary,) and chronic illness, (me, mom.) Gary and I began hearing those words and good intentions coming our way. It didn’t take too many instances for God to reveal to me how insincere I had been.

When I had cancer three years ago, the same thing occurred with people I believed were close to me. While the experience was hurtful and disappointing, it helped me realize anew how little we understand suffering with each other. Even in the Body of Christ.

God, in Christ, loved us to such a degree that He stepped down to earth to redeem us. He was tempted and suffered in every way as we do, (Hebrews 4:15; Isaiah 53:5-6). Jesus is our supreme example of compassion, suffering with. He will enable us to do the same with others if we will ask.

Let me warn you…it hurts.

…but the rewards are eternal.

Jesus is our supreme example of what compassion looks like: He stepped down to earth as a human, suffered as we do, then died and rose again to redeem us all. Click To Tweet

Our interpretation of compassion doesn't compare to God's intended design. 'Suffering with others' was perfectly exemplified in the life and death of Jesus. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #compassion #GodsLove #redeemed #suffering

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt
limits, love, Oh Lord Help Us, spiritual growth, women of faith, Christian mentoring

Limits: Learning to Love With Your Whole Heart

We are to love God with our whole heart, and others without limits even when it hurts. We will feel the pain of love when we choose to invest in people. 



I have heard it said that when you have kids, a piece of your heart lives in someone else’s body. Having three kids of my own, I know this to be very true! Their little smiles, their dreams, their ideas, their laughs, their smells and even their sins are all wrapped up in little packages of human right before me. God took a part of me and a part of my husband and made these beautiful, wonderful gifts. They truly are gifts from God. And my heart is in them, walking around at their school, on their sports teams, in their play, in their work. That is my heart out there learning to navigate this big, beautiful world. I long to be with them, hold them close. I want them to love what I love. Share my passions and my dreams. They are my heart.

I wonder, does a piece of God’s heart live in each one of His children? Does He watch as we take His heart into our homes, workplaces, schools and neighborhoods? Does He long to be with us, long to hold us close, long for us to love what He loves? I believe He does. I believe this is a part what it means to be made in God’s image. But it’s not just my kids. I have left a huge piece of my heart in a nation across the ocean, in another world, another culture.

Living overseas changes you, no matter how long or short your time in another land, you can never be the same. We were blessed with an incredible experience to live in North Africa for a time. It was beautiful. Palm trees swaying in the breeze, gorgeous sunsets like none other, exotic sounds and smells, the kindness of people all around me. Constant jabber in a foreign tongue. I loved it. Living in another country was hard, to say the least. But to me, living in North Africa was a little piece of Heaven. I was home. When circumstances forced us to leave earlier than expected, I wept.

We are to love God with our whole heart, and others without limits even when it hurts. We will feel the pain of love when we choose to invest in people. | Scripture Study | Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Christian Mentoring

Love With Limits

I constantly feel the ache of knowing that when I left my Beloved Tunisia, I left a piece of my heart there, too. I live daily with the strain of living in one place I now call home and missing another that was my home. I miss the smells, the food, the sunsets, the sounds, the colorful Medina. I miss speaking another language, walking and riding in taxis. I miss looking into beautiful Tunisian faces and telling them they are loved, they are special. That nation, those people and culture changed me. Jesus changed me. It has been seven years since we returned to the States, but I still long to return to my other home.

So being thus tenderly and affectionately desirous of you, we continued to share with you, not only God’s good news (the Gospel), but also our own lives as well, for you had become so very dear to us.

1 Thessalonians 2:8, AMP

Love Without Limits

So, how do we do it? How do we live life day in and day out, with our hearts spread all over the place? How do we live with the limits the world and circumstances place on our hearts? Some days my heart feels shattered. I wonder why I am here. I beg God to show me my purpose.

Yet, there is holiness in the shattered pieces. A love that bleeds through barriers of culture, age, status, situation.
Jesus let His heart be shattered to save our world. The more we know Him, the more we become like Him, the more we gaze into His eyes, the more we love like Him. To love Jesus with my whole heart, means I might need to let it shatter.

For the love of Christ controls and compels us, because we have concluded this, that One died for all, therefore all died;

2 Corinthians 5:14, AMP

Don’t be afraid to love until your heart is bursting! Wherever you are, whatever your life stage, you are called to love. Love with abandon, without restraint. Love through the mess, through the aching. When we love Jesus with our whole heart, He holds the shattered pieces, and gives us His own heart. When we choose to invest in people, love without limits, He holds us tenderly. The more we love Him, the more we love like Him.

When we love Jesus with our whole heart, He holds the shattered pieces, and gives us His own heart. Click To Tweet

We are to love God with our whole heart, and others without limits even when it hurts. We will feel the pain of love when we choose to invest in people. | Scripture Study | Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Christian Mentoring

Marko Blažević

community, friends, growth, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, ministry

Community: God’s Invitation into Spiritual and Personal Growth

Having friends, working side by side toward a common goal is the definition of community. God gives us an invitation into His community helping us grow.



We went to the park today to play. My son wanted to have someone to play with but he can be shy in new situation. He tends to mirror play until someone invites him to join in. As soon as that happens, an invitation, he opens up. Laughing, running, smiling. As a mom that simple joy makes me so happy.

Invitation…

I think that is how our Heavenly Father is with us. He want us to find friends. Those who will invite us in and make us feel part of a community. I imagine when he sees us together, laughing, talking, loving each other, He is so happy.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

John 15:12-15, NIV

My husband, Phillip and I have tried several small groups over the years. Some have been good, some boring, some felt exclusionary, and some have tried too hard. All of them I think had good intentions and truly wanted to spread God’s love. But none of them felt just right for us. Some came close but none were the kind of fit where you just felt comfortable and free to be yourself.

Having friends, working side by side toward a common goal is the definition of community. God gives us an invitation into His community helping us grow. #community #friendship #spiritualgrowth

Finding community…

In the last year we have joined a small group that feels like family. There are a lot of us and we can be overwhelming when you first meet us. There are more kids in our small group than I have in my classroom. The first night we met everyone, Phillip and I weren’t sure what we had gotten ourselves into and were wondering how to politely get out. But very quickly we saw how much these people loved each other. They would do anything within their power to help each other out. When I need help someone is always willing.

We all come from different parts of the country, have a variety of jobs and interests, and everyone has a different story about how they came to know God. But God is our connection. He is our foundation that all our connected links start with.

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.

Proverbs 27:9, NIV

We have had various members who have been sick, hurt, or have surgery in the last year and our group texts are quickly replied to: What can I do to help? Can I bring you something? We are praying for you. When you see all the outpouring of love and genuine support you are so uplifted and encouraged.

Occasionally someone needs help with a task. Picking up a washer and dryer, yard work, help with child care. Within minutes our team has agreed to help out and you know you can depend on them.

Growth…

This small group restores my soul, fills my faith and refreshes my love. For that I am eternally grateful that God placed them in my path. Because of them and other believers in my life, I am able to be mighty and sure when an unbeliever crosses my path.

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

Thomas Aquinas

Not that I agree exactly with Thomas Aquinas here, but I think it shows the struggle of speaking with non believers. It can wear you out. Last year our group volunteered with the Raleigh Dream Center. We went out and delivered food, fun and fellowship to an underprivileged neighborhood. It was awesome and exhausting.

I had a little boy tell me that his mom liked when those church people brought food but wished they would keep their praying to themselves. I must admit I am easily discouraged by such things. One of our small group leaders is just the opposite. Though she didn’t know that the little boy had said this, I saw her pray with every person she came in contact with, including that little boys mom. I saw the mom give a big hug to my friend toward the end of our time, even after she had prayed with her. These seeds of God’s love being planted create a new view of faith that comes in rushing waves. I am thankful to Him for the experience.

Your invitation…

I encourage you to find people who share God’s love and purpose. Yes we should bring Him to the unchurched and those who don’t have a personal relationship, but that can drain your spirit and make you question. Faith and grace are found in the midst of a group of believers who you share your life.

For where two or more are gathered in My name, there I am also.

Matthew 18:20, NIV

Faith and grace are found in the midst of a group of believers who you share your life. Click To Tweet

Dear God,

Thank you for family. Not just the family we are born into, but Your family of believers.

love,
me

Having friends, working side by side toward a common goal is the definition of community. God gives us an invitation into His community helping us grow. #community #friendship #spiritualgrowth

Hannah Busing

legacy, love, teach, Oh Lord Help Us, ministry, women, encouragement

Legacy: Teaching God’s Love by Living the Example

Who has begun the legacy of love in your life, teaching you of God’s love? How will you continue this legacy of influencing others?



The warm sun came streaming in the window like a loving hug surrounding me as I stretched awake. The sound of waves crashing over the shore was so soothing and exciting at the same time. My little legs quickly kicked the covers off. I started demanding breakfast, my swimsuit, and when could we go out. Not the best way to wake up the adult you are sleeping with. I probably would fuss at my kids. My grandfather, though, joined in with as much childlike enthusiasm as his 6’2″ frame could contain. Genuine love beaming through every pore. My grandmother was already up, fixing a big farm style breakfast in the little camper that served as home for the week we stayed at Arrowhead Campground in Myrtle Beach, SC every summer of my childhood.

She turned and smiled with love and patience. It made me feel every wonderful and loving feeling all at one time. “Slow down, pumpkin. Let’s eat a bite, take our time getting dressed, and then we will hit the waves.” My grandma wrapped me in a hug that emoted so much love I can still close my eyes and feel how much heart was in the simple gesture. I can even smell the warm sweetness and the clean fresh natural smell that wafted from her.

My grandfather would say grace – a little long winded for my young wiggly body – as I waited for my turn to say “AMEN” with loud enthusiasm. As we ate, I was not just allowed to talk about whatever subject was rushing in and out of my little girl mind, but encouraged in my flights of fancy.

As we packed up our cooler and put on bathing suits and sunscreen my grandmother would sing. My favorite was “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart.” And I did. Great Joy. Joy for the beach, joy for my family, and joy for the God they were teaching me to love.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Psalms 36:7, ESV

Legacy: Living by Example

Love is a natural human emotion, but we are taught how to express it. My parents did a great job of teaching me what love was. They took me to church, encouraged me to find my true purpose and listen to God’s call. They came to everything I was a part of. I learned so many wonderful lessons from them, but my grandmother taught me the most about God’s love.

Love is a natural human emotion, but we are taught how to express it. Click To Tweet

She shared her love for our Savior with open abandon. You knew within the first thirty seconds of meeting her that she was a Christian in the marrow of her bones. No one ever left her presence not knowing that she loved them because Jesus loved them more.

I remember one time a lady came to her house to pick up a skirt my grandmother had made for her. My grandmother was a seamstress by trade and ran a small business out of her house. The lady who came was obviously poor and spoke very little english. My grandmother smiled that same warm smile that shined through her eyes, that she showed me. She asked the lady about her family and patiently listened as the lady told her about the hardships that their family was going through. My grandmother invited her to church, offered to come visit sometime soon, and told her she would put her family on her prayer list. The lady smiled with equal warmth. You could almost feel her burden lift a little. She paid my grandmother with a few dollars and a pie.

That night when we got to the part of our devotional where we lifted people up in prayer, my grandmother prayed for the lady and her family. Living life in service of others wasn’t lip service to her, it was a biblical imperative. She prayed daily. Read her bible and devotional nightly; even when she was too sick to get up out of bed. God’s love came through her until her last breath was taken.

For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.

2 Corinthians 9:13, ESV

Legacy: Teaching Others

When my grandmother was at a hospice house the last few months of her life, she was still ministering to others. We would go visit and the nurses, other patients, and their families would tell us how much she meant to them. How they loved her. She loved them all right back. Every night she and my grandfather would read their devotional and pray. She would list them all by name. She would tell others everyday how much she loved them and how much God loved them.

One of the last times I came to visit she was sitting in the common room and there were three other families in there too.  A nurse came in with a therapeutic golden retriever who nudged its head under my grandmother’s hand. She gave me the same smile, talked a few minutes and then asked me to read Revelations 21 outloud for everyone.

…The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city wea pure gold, like transparent glass.

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day – and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Revelations 21:18-27, ESV

When I was done she looked at me and said, “That is what is waiting for me.” Then she took the hand of the nurse who had walked in and smiled at her. “That is what is waiting for all of us. God is so good, honey.” I broke down, put my head in her lap and cried. She lifted my chin and said, “Pumpkin, I love you, God loves you, we will always be with you.”

Legacy: Teaching Others to Teach

A few weeks later, right before she passed away, we all went to see her one more time. They were pumping her so full of pain medication she barely knew who we were. I spent three minutes with her right before I left. The fog seemed to lift for those three minutes. She smiled at me with all her love, she hugged me tight and that feeling of warm love enveloped me.

She patted my hair. “Why are you so sad, pumpkin?”

“I’m going to miss you so much. I love you, grandma.”

“I love you too, baby. We have made so many memories. I will live in your heart forever.”

I promised I would share her love and lessons with my children and that I would try to live the life that she wanted for me.

Your turn…

Who is the person who brings God’s love closer to you? How do they inspire you to draw closer to God?

Dear God,

Thank you for blessing my childhood and early adulthood with Virginia Vernon. You could not have given me a better earthly example of loving You than her. Help me to live the life You have planned for me. Help me to love others in the way You desire for us to love others, fully and without reservation.

Love,

me

Who has begun the legacy of love in your life, teaching you of God's love? How will you continue this legacy of influencing others?

Who has begun the legacy of love in your life, teaching you of God's love? How will you continue this legacy of influencing others?

Annie Spratt

Expect Nothing, Gain Everything

My husband had (at least) two expectations that were not met when we got married. He thought I was going to make sweet tea everyday. And he thought we would fall asleep snuggling at night. He was disappointed.

Having expectations is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s kind of like having a goal. It’s something to work for and strive to attain. Without goals we would become complacent and stagnate. Some expectations, however, can rob us of enjoying what we have, and who we are with. It can discourage our souls and cause relationships to crumble. Let’s look at three areas expectations can cause disappointment…

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Expectations of Others

Problems arise when:

  1. The expectations are not communicated
  2. The expectations are unrealistic

Spouse:

As a woman I possess the power to read my husband’s mind and completely understand what he is needing at any given moment. Or, maybe not. So why do I expect him to read mine? Why do I expect him to know that I need something done around the house if I haven’t asked him to do it? Why do I expect him to know that I am struggling with fear if I don’t share with him?

There have been many times when he has “read my mind” and did exactly what I was hoping he would do. If I would remove my expectations, then instead of feeling frustrated when they are not met, I would feel cared for when they were. I don’t want my spouse to meet my expectations due to the fear of what will happen if he doesn’t. Rather I want him to meet them so that it will bless me when he does.

I also have learned am learning that I cannot expect my husband to be someone that he was not created to be. He is calm, level-headed, and steady (and praise the Lord that he is). I, on the other hand, am not. So when I am getting worked up about something and getting frustrated with him that he is not getting worked up, I am not being fair. I am expecting him to suddenly be a different person (but seriously, isn’t that so maddening when you’re upset about something and the other person just sits there so calm!).

Children:

For some reason I feel like my nearly 8 year old and 4 year old should have their acts together by now. Logically I know this is ridiculous, but my frustrations would show otherwise. I feel like I should only have to tell them one time to stop rubbing their hands on the wall, or to wash their hands before eating, or to give the dog food AND water, or pick up toys before bed, or… If it is unrealistic to expect my husband to know what I want, how can I expect this from my children. Of course, I don’t have to tell my husband to wash his hands, but for now I do need to tell my 4 year old. My 4 year old: I have to Tell. Him. Everything. He’s four. My 8 year old, I give hints. “What do you need to do before bed…?” And give him a chance to realize he needs to put his 4 million Lego’s away.

I’m still learning who my children are. I’m learning that my oldest may be super competitive with his brother, but not with friends. I want him to be competitive with sports, because he has the talent and that’s “what you’re suppose to do.” We keep putting him in sports and I keep getting frustrated that he is not aggressive enough. I’ve had a lightbulb moment. I’m trying to make him be someone he is not. And the thing is, I like who he is. He is sweet, and compassionate, and friendly.

 

Expectations of Ourselves

Problems arise when:

  1. We are expecting ourselves to be someone we are not
  2. We are expecting to achieve something unrealistic, and/or in an unrealistic time frame

I love to have dance parties. At home. With my children. I have always loved dancing. I have always danced badly. Thankfully, ever since college, this has not bothered me and I have accepted that I can’t dance and it doesn’t stop me from still enjoying myself. But when I was in middle school this was heartbreaking. I tried out for the dance team. Twice. Got cut on the the first go round. Twice. This is alright, I’m not scarred. But I did have to learn and accept the fact that this knobby knee’d girl looks awkward even doing the electric slide. After accepting this I was able to find a new love, running. And I still love it.

It’s also harmful to expect too much from ourselves within certain time restraints. I was naturally a good runner, but when it came to competing I expected too much too soon. My first race was 1500M (just shy of a mile) on in indoor track. I actually envisioned myself winning. Ended up I got lapped. I was expecting too much (and maybe a tad unrealistic) too soon.

After years of training I ended up running at a fairly competitive level. But I never “won gold.” And I was ok with that. There is ALWAYS somebody faster, smarter, wealthier. The most we can expect is our best. As long as we are doing that, we are good.

 

Expectations of Situations

Problems arise when:

  1. We try to control outcomes
  2. We depend on those outcomes

So many things are out of my control: taxes, weather, jobs, other people. And if I try to control those things I will end up living a life that leaves me feeling completely disappointed. There is nothing wrong with feeling disappointed when bad things happen. But ideally we don’t stay in that place, and instead use it as an opportunity.

My husband and I were married 15 years ago on a Friday. It just happened to be the 13th. As the ceremony was about to begin, I could hear people whispering around me in the room I was waiting in. Stress was rising. My sister-in-law came to me and said, “Remember what I said earlier about today being just a ceremony and that it’s your marriage that matters? And that there is bound to be something that will go wrong? Well, your florist thought the wedding was tomorrow. You have no flowers.” So I walked down the aisle holding tight to my dad with both arms. I rocked the no-flowers thing. People thought we did it on purpose.

It’s fine to plan and prepare, but then let go and remember what the main purpose is.

 


To Sum It Up…

 

Life would be more peaceful if we could live without unrealistic expectations. Even so, do expect to have expectations and remember it’s alright to “mess up.” That’s why we get to start over the next day.

Want some marital advice? Expect nothing.

Want some parenting advice? Expect nothing.

Want some how-to-enjoy-life-more advice? Expect nothing.

Expect nothing, and gain everything.

 

xoxo

photo-1439694458393-78ecf14da7f9-03

 

 

How Do We End the Judgement?

We have all been there. We have been the one standing alone while others made snide comments and pointed and laughed (although it may just have been in our minds). And we have also been the one commenting and pointing and laughing (even if it has just been in our minds). Nobody wins. Everybody feels cruddy after the fact.

 


 

Here’s What Happened

I found myself in this situation a couple weeks ago while my sons were at swim lessons. There is this one 5 year old boy in my younger son’s class that is, how shall I say….,very active. Now, I am no stranger to active little boys. I have boys, my friends have boys, I’m married to a man that used to be a boy. So I was not concerned with his activeness. I was concerned with how little regard this boy had for authority. Completely ignoring his mother, the teacher, and the lifeguard. This is scary to me because, hello! These are kids in water! The first couple weeks I was unconcerned, no judgement, just observation.

But then, a couple weeks ago, I crossed the line into judgement. The mom had told her son for the 14th time to put something away. Instead of obeying he threw a temper tantrum. And then… she gave in and handed it back to him. I’m so thankful that the pool area is loud and echo-y because a comment actually slipped out of my mouth. But then I felt cruddy. (And if by some bizarre chance this dear mom is reading this, please know that I did feel cruddy and I am sorry.)

Now, am I wrong to think that she could have handled that differently? I don’t think so. But I was wrong to point (in my mind) and make a snide comment (in actuality). I don’t know this lady. I don’t know what her marriage is like, or if she is even married. I don’t know what she deals with on a daily basis with her son. I do know that she was frustrated and probably could have used some encouragement.

At that moment I was not in the frame of mind to actually encourage her. But I did think of a dear friend that I know feels overwhelmed at times when dealing with her son. So I texted her a simple message of “I just want you to know that I think you are a great mom.”

 


So What Do You Think?

Is it judgement just to disagree with someone? Their parenting style, their health choices, the way they communicate. In our culture right now we are so concerned with not offending people that we are more afraid than ever to disagree, but have never been more judgemental. Maybe if we learn to understand people, and/or assume the best of them, we can get beyond ourselves and leave the judging thing to The Lord. He’s the only one that truly knows our hearts anyways, right?

So then, how do we encourage those around us? Whether it is someone we love, or a stranger, we can all use a bit of encouragement. And isn’t it true that the areas we need the most encouragement are the areas we are weakest in. Which means these areas are the most vulnerable to being “judged” because we are not doing them as well as we would like.

Perhaps we need to encourage “in faith.” In faith, I want my son to be a hard worker; so I praise him for being a hard worker. Our children will be what we tell them they are. So isn’t this true for others. If you want someone to be a good mom and for them to feel that they are, then tell them they are.

And finally, isn’t this true for ourselves. Don’t we deserve to encourage our own souls?

Stop judging others, and stop judging yourself. In faith, encourage the area that is weakest.

 

 

xoxo

busypeople