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Relationships

When Relationships Fail–Our Role

Sometimes no matter how we try, no matter how grace-filled our conversations and Christ-led our attempts, relationships implode. People remain hurt. Barriers remain erected, and isolation, regret, and pain occur.

quote image-beauty is in the obedienceBut the beauty’s in the obedience, not the result.

Some time ago, something I did deeply hurt a woman I cared for. I didn’t intend to wound her, and honestly, I didn’t fully understand her response or interpretation. In fact, initially I felt quite indignant. She was being over-reactive. I’d done nothing wrong!

And yet, she was hurt, and Jesus said, if I know someone is upset with me, regardless of the why, I’m to initiate conversation. (Matthew 5:23). To do what I can to make things right.
To, “… as far as it depends on [me], live at peace with everyone.”

Biblical peace goes much deeper than simple conflict avoidance. In fact, that type of behavior will take us in the opposite direction—to broken relationships, unresolved issues, and, often, harbored bitterness.

Biblical peace, eiréneuó in the Greek, points to wholeness.

Consider Ken Sande’s words, taken from his book, the Peace two children holding hands and text of Romans 12:18Maker: “Token efforts will not satisfy this command; God wants [us] to strive earnestly, diligently, and continually to maintain harmonious relationships with those around [us].”

This is a big deal. Not only does this help protect unity within the church, but Sande goes on to say, seeking peace can “turn conflict into an opportunity to strengthen relationships … and make [our] lives a testimony to the love and power of Christ.”

Perhaps this is why Jesus placed such emphasis on conflict resolution, so much so that He told us, if we’re about to worship Him and remember an offended brother, we’re to immediately stop and seek reconciliation.

Only after we’ve done that are we freed, emotionally and spiritually, to truly worship God.

But what if the other person is unresponsive?

In that case, we can walk away with clean hearts and hands knowing, “as far as it depended on us,” we attempted to live in peace.

Because it doesn’t always depend on us. We have no control over how another person will respond, but we have full control over how faithfully we obey Christ and how well we reflect Him.

As I reflected on my situation with the offended woman, I thought of how Christ treated me. When I was living in complete rebellion against Him, He pursued me, diligently and patiently. When I sinned again and again, He forgave me. And when my sin created a barrier between us that I couldn’t cross, through His death, He tore it down. And I knew, regardless of how this young woman received or reacted to my efforts, I needed to reach out anyway.

So I did. She responded exactly as I’d feared, but that didn’t mean my efforts had been pointless. Despite my fear of rejection and my desire to avoid the entire situation, I’d chosen to obey, and hopefully, in doing so, had provided a glimpse of Jesus … and reminded myself afresh of the beauty of grace.

Let’s talk about this! How do you typically react when someone hurts or abandons you? Why do you think it’s important God’s children learn to reconcile with one another?

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Fear of rejection, Video Devotion

Learning to Shake off Rejection to Live in Freedom — Video Devotion

Kneeling on a stranger’s carpet, overpriced vacuum hose in hand, I struggled to maintain eye contact. I must have apologized at least half a dozen times—for bothering the poor woman in the first place, for attempting to sell the silly contraption.

For knocking on her door. If only she hadn’t answered.

If only I hadn’t answered that vague ad in the newspaper. Become an independent contractor, they said. Earn thousands in commissions, they said.

Why I ever thought I, a woman who hates rejection, dirt, dust, and talking to strangers, could ever succeed as a door-to-door salesperson is beyond me.

Then again, I didn’t. I quit, and began plotting my resignation by the first house.

I wonder if any of the disciples felt similar when Jesus sent them out, two by two-to share His truth with complete strangers. Granted, they were selling something much more valuable than I was, but still, strangers and religion.

Did that make your stomach dip?

Not only that, but they were to stay with these strangers, as their guests. In their home, presumably for as long as they’d have them. If the strangers were receptive, accepted their message, the disciples were to “let their peace rest on them.” If the homeowners got riled up or kicked the disciples out, they were to shake the dust off their feet. To let no trace of that “rejection” cling to them. (Matthew 10:14)

In other words, they weren’t to allow “rejections” past or present get in the way of their calling. They needed to let them go. So do we. We’ve all experienced rejection, but we don’t have to stay there. The next time someone mistreats or turns their back on you, mentally shake off the dust and move on as you learn to live wholly loved.

Relationships

Beautiful, Messy Friendship

WL-BlogChristaRelationshipQuote

I was that woman. The outgoing one who could talk to anyone, made friends easily and was comfortable being herself. I couldn’t relate to the fear so many women felt in stepping out to make a new friend. What was the big deal?

Then came the friendship that changed it all.

I thought we were on the same page regarding our relationship—good friends. She was also sure we were on the same page—best friends. I started to feel claustrophobic. Do you see the train wreck coming? Once I realized what was going on, I attempted to do the wise thing (NOT!) and avoid conflict by backing away slowly. No surprise—that didn’t work. Once we finally had the hard conversation, our relationship was beyond repairable. I felt absolutely awful for wounding her so deeply—I never intended to hurt her! Further, I bound myself up in regret for not handling the situation with more maturity.

Suddenly, I understood the apprehension to initiate friendship.

Feeling the pain of a relationship gone wrong, I could grasp the idea that maybe it was better to be alone than to open myself up to another emotional trauma. Who needs friends anyway?! But, we weren’t designed to live in isolation. God Himself lives in community—in constant communion with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Since He created us in His image, we’re also meant to live in relationship—with Him and others. (I realize there are many introverts who just cringed.) Remember in Genesis 2:18 when God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone”? That’s why long stretches of time without meaningful contact with others feels so incredibly lonely—so wrong. We are supposed to live together—as marvelous, mundane, or messy as that may be.

Sadly, it wasn’t long after Creation before sin fractured the harmonious, beautiful relationships God intended. And, we’ve been doing a bang-up job of carrying on that tradition ever since—hence the fate of my friendship. Which leaves us at a crossroads—if it’s clear God doesn’t want us to be alone, but sin assures we’ll screw up our relationships, how are we supposed to proceed?

With God.

In His amazing ability to work everything for good, God used my unfortunate experience for growth. He helped me see that I’d been relying on my own wisdom and strength in friendship. Trusting that God wouldn’t give us an innate desire to be with others without also providing guidance, I dug into the Bible to discover what He said about friendship.

WL-blogProv17-17-BScripture offers advice about choosing friends (1 Cor. 15:33), the faithfulness of companions (Proverbs 17:17), establishing boundaries (Proverbs 25:17), and how we can help each other grow (Proverbs 27:17). But, God’s Word also allows us to emotionally experience stories of loyalty and compassion (Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan), as well as painful moments of betrayal, abandonment and rejection in friendship (David, Jesus, Paul).

Scripture reveals that you’re not alone if you’ve been blessed by a deep, abiding friendship. Praise God today for that precious gift! Nor are you alone if you’ve been betrayed or hurt and are fearful to expose your heart again. Marinate in the truth that God will never leave you or forsake you. He is your refuge and strength. Allow your heart to remember the hurts of your past just long enough to learn, grow and heal, but not so long that you begin to dwell in regret, anger, or fear. Then, soaked in divine wisdom and strength, move forward in faith…with God.

Let’s talk about it! How have friendships, whether good or bad, shaped who you are today?

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Fear of rejection, Video Devotion

Moving Past Fear of Rejection–Video Devotion


We were best friends, and then we weren’t. It was as simple as that. My friend’s mom decided I wasn’t popular enough for her daughter, so we could no longer be friends. As an adult, I see that the situation had nothing to do with me—it was about serious issues with my friend’s mom. But at the time, all I felt was…. rejected.

The pain my middle-school heart felt cut deep. This was personal. I was rejected because of who I was—or rather, who I wasn’t. My young mind—not mature enough to handle the emotional complexity of the situation—concluded I wasn’t good enough. In fact, I felt worthless.

That experience brought my confident, self-assured childhood to a screeching halt. From that day forward, I was different. I desperately wanted to prevent the pain of rejection again, so I guarded my heart in relationships, and avoided situations where I might be told “You didn’t make the team”, or “You’re not right for the job.” I strived to prove my worth through hard work, surmising that I wouldn’t be discarded if I was useful. And, I pridefully elevated myself to positions of authority so I couldn’t be eliminated.

Jesus knew deep rejection. Isaiah 53:3 says, “He was despised and rejected”—that “we turned our backs on him and looked the other way.” Yet, He never wavered—He knew who and whose He was. (NIV)

After inviting Jesus into my heart, I saw that my fear of rejection stemmed from being dependent on the world to define my worth and identity. I was horribly afraid to be rejected because it forced me to come face to face with my deepest fear … that I lacked value.

I overcame that fear by recognizing that my identity and worth are found in Christ, and that I’m God’s created daughter. Nothing God creates is worthless. And should I ever forget, His love letter to me—the Bible—reminds me.

What causes you to fear rejection? Bring it into the healing light of God’s truth today, as you learn to live Wholly Loved.

Translation used: NIV

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

fear

The Most Dangerous Fear

feet in chains

I made my kid throw a boot at a spider because I was afraid to go near it. I hate ferris wheels for fear I will fall out. And tornado sirens make me stop in my tracks. All of us are afraid of something. But I’m guessing if I asked you your biggest fear, you wouldn’t automatically respond, “People!” even though it’s the most dangerous fear there is. 

Deep down we are approval seekers. It’s the reason I check how many people like a post on social media, or why I change my outfit three times before going out.  We want to be liked, approved of, accepted. The question is, by whom?

The Bible clearly states we have two options, we can fear other people, or we can fear the Lord– meaning we can live for the approval of others or live for the Lord.

 Our choice determines if we live ensnared or set free.

Proverbs 29:25 warns that “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe”. That word “snare” in original Hebrew is “yaqosh or moqesh” which means a noose or hook to snare, catch, or trap animals.

Let me tell you, I have lived snared. I have let others opinions drag me down into negativity, tie me up in anxiety, and gag me in fear to put myself out there in faith. Being afraid I won’t measure up to this world’s standards has kept me stressed and overwhelmed instead of living like an empowered child of God. 

Fear of man keeps us focused on man’s unattainable agenda instead of God’s will. But what is it that God cares about? What does it look like to “fear the Lord?”

I found the answer in the Old Testament. After the Israelites had worshiped man made objects instead of the one true God, they needed a new direction.  

Moses told them, “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” (Deuteronomy 10: 12-13 NIV) 

Fearing the Lord instead of man looks a lot like walking daily with God. Steering our actions to love God and others. Serving with strength and humility, and following God’s good ways instead of what we think is best. The last line is so important. For our own good. 

I used to be afraid to follow God because I didn’t know if I could trust him with my life plan. But God isn’t a mad parent telling their kid to follow, “Because I said so!” He calls us to live close to Him because He wants something good for our lives. Because He is a Father who loves His children. That makes me trust and want to follow Him.  

andrea-quote

So everyday I try to let go a little. I want to release myself from what I think I should be and hold onto what God says I already am. What we already are. Loved. Chosen. Called. Purposed. Empowered…all in Christ. 

We have nothing to prove. No agenda to meet. No earthly standards to live up to. We get to live free and bold knowing God is after our hearts, not our resume. 

When we start living on purpose with the Living God, Philippians 2:15-16 says you and I will “shine” like “stars” as we give the good news of Christ to others through our actions. To me, that’s a life worth living.

Let’s talk about this! How have you been stuck in the fear of man? How would living in, and for, God’s love set you free?

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Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Fear of rejection

Developing Deep Friends–Video Devotion

I’ve been hurt, betrayed, and abandoned. I’ve had friends slander me and assume the worst. I’ve simultaneously craved relational intimacy and spurned it.

And I’m not alone in this. So many of us are maintaining surface level friendships, longing to go deeper, to unveil who we truly are and connect with those who love us, flaws and all, but fear of rejection continually gets in our way.

Can I just say, I get it. I understand your longing to be known fully and loved deeply, to find those people who not only get you but promise to stay.

I also know the fear that comes from past hurts. We all have scar tissue, and this distorts our perception. Makes us leery and self-protecting. So we step into new relationships with our running shoes on, ready to bolt at first sign of conflict.

But that only perpetuates the problem, adding hurt upon hurt, defensiveness upon defensiveness. Loneliness upon loneliness.

What if we did this whole friendship thing differently? What if we determined to stay? To push through the hard—to be the type of friend we ourselves long or?

On the night before His death, Jesus gathered His disciples together, and after having told them about all the difficulties that lay ahead—persecution, imprisonment, execution … He prayed that “they would be one” just as He and the Father were one. (John 17:21, ESV)

That’s deep, enduring unity—the kind that goes well beyond the casual friendships so many of us maintain.

To develop the type of unity Jesus prayed for, we need to love as He did. Less than twenty four hours before his execution, He washed the feet, an act normally performed by household servants, of Judas, the very one who would betray Him. Then, shortly after His brutal death, Jesus intentionally sought out Peter, the friend who’d denied and abandoned Him.

His love for them wasn’t dependent on their actions to Him. And He didn’t hold grudges or nurse wounds. When there was a rift, like with Peter, Jesus took the initiative to make things right.

That’s hard, especially when we’ve been hurt, but its oh, so necessary. If we don’t learn to do this, to press through the hard and hold tight to one another, we’ll never experience the deep connectedness our hearts long for.

The next time conflict arises and you’re tempted to self-protect and run away, press in—first to Jesus, and then into the friendship. Learn to hold tight. To work through the hard, surrendering your hurt and heart to Jesus, as you learn to live Wholly Loved.

And if this is an issue you struggle with and an area where you’d like to learn how to walk in deeper freedom, then join us for one of our upcoming Bold and Brave Conferences. You find out more HERE.

women friendsYou can register for our June conference (at Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Lincoln on June 23rd) HERE.

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fear, Heart Issues

How Jesus Helps Us in Our Fear

quote from Sarah pulled from the post.

Did I hear God right? Leave our family and move half way across the country on our own? With a nine month old?

Leave the only hometown we’d ever known?

Where were we going to live? How were we going to make new friends? I was scared of the unknown. I was nervous and unsure. I wanted to stay where I was—comfortable, where everything felt familiar.

About 5 1/2 years ago, my husband and I were shopping in Hampton Virginia when my old boss phoned me. He’d recently moved to Omaha, Nebraska to be the Vice President of Marketing of a senior health organization. We’d kept in touch, so the call wasn’t out of the ordinary, but the reason for his call was. His company wanted me to spearhead their marketing for an expansion project.

My first thought was, Omaha, Nebraska? What do they do there? Farm? Grow corn?

At that time, my parents and my husband’s parents lived a mile from us. They were our safety net. Always there and available to help. The thought of moving and leaving where we’d grown up, a house we’d recently purchased, our parents, our friends, our church, and our life group felt overwhelming. Yet after much prayer, we felt certain we were being called to the Midwest. Even though we knew we were following Christ’s leading, we still feared the unknown.

I was afraid the job wouldn’t work out. I was afraid we wouldn’t make new friends. I was afraid my husband wouldn’t find a job. I was afraid it was a huge mistake.

What do you fear the most? Do you trust God’s provision?

Even Jesus’ disciples, struggled with fear and trusting the Lord. In Matthew 14:30-31, Peter and the disciples saw Jesus walking on water. Peter questioned if the man they saw truly was the Son of God, and said “‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’

“He said, ‘Come.’

Peter got out of the boat and walked towards Jesus. “But when he saw verse image Matthew 14:29b-30the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’

Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’”

Peter let fear paralyze him when he was walking on water. But Jesus comforted him with an outstretched hand.

When we step out in faith, despite our fear, God does the same for us.

I didn’t know why Christ was leading us to Omaha. I just knew in my heart we were supposed to be there. Fast forward a little over three years, and we learned why. In early 2016, I had a stroke while sitting in the waiting room at Children’s Hospital with my daughter. The medical community in Omaha is fantastic. Within fifteen minutes of our home, we have several nationally recognized teaching hospitals with every specialty imaginable.

These options were not close to where we previously lived in Virginia. I would’ve most likely had to drive to Baltimore or North Carolina to receive the medical treatment so readily available in Omaha.

If I hadn’t taken that phone call in Marshalls, and if I hadn’t listened to God’s calling to relocate to Nebraska, I may not be alive today. My fear of moving could’ve cost me my life.

When has God called you to the unknown? Were you fearful? Unsure? How did you push the uncertainty away? Let’s talk about this!

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