freedom, Relationships

The Self-Sufficiency Façade

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“What do I need you for?”

I said those words.

To my husband.

It was the worst thing I’d ever said to him. And it haunts me to this day.

Our marriage was in trouble. Our daughter was a toddler. I was earning six figures working full time, and felt I largely parented alone. My marriage was absent of good communication and growing in resentment. I was a mess emotionally, and probably lacking many hours of sleep. So, I felt compelled to utter those hurtful words; I could juggle it all by myself. I was independent and strong. I didn’t need him.

Of course, that wasn’t true, because being independent also meant I was alone. And self-sufficiency—being able to provide for my needs on my own—is a façade that I’d naively fallen for. I needed my husband like I needed oxygen, and I also needed God.

But I wasn’t humble enough to see that.

I had to accept my desperate need for God’s intervention. Only He could teach me how to love well. He could fill me up so I could demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit to my spouse: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness (Galatians 5:22).

By God’s grace, we’ve been married fifteen years now and that toddler is fourteen. I found my way through my independent and self-sustaining mindset. With a humble attitude, I accepted my need for my husband and strived for our marriage to get better.

But I also sought Jesus, and thankfully, my husband turned to Him too. This journey together hasn’t made our marriage perfect, full of only joy and peace without impatience or irritations, but it got us committed to the same things—God and each other.

I found out then that I will never not need Jesus.I will never not need Jesus. Click To Tweet My help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121:1). And even when times are good, as heirs with Christ and having the Holy Spirit, we find our joy in Him (Romans 14:17). When we seek Jesus, we flourish and can tackle the most difficult obstacles because our God is bigger than our trials. When we seek Jesus, we flourish and can tackle the most difficult obstacles because our God is bigger than our trials. Click To Tweet

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When we think we can do all on our own, we’re leaving out the biggest Helper of all. Turn to Him and surrender today so you can be free of the stressful drive to be self-sufficient.

Let’s talk about this! Do you need to humbly accept that you can’t go through life without the One who made you? Do you need to humbly accept that you can’t go through life without the One who made you? Click To Tweet

 

Relationships

Our Innate Need for Community

Quote from Rick Warren with background of friends

God doesn’t want anyone to be alone, and I’m not going to disappoint Him.”

That’s a powerful quote from my grandmother, something she said to my mother when she was a child. They apply, among other things, to how we do life with others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.

God made us to come together and worship Him. Scripture reveals the importance of church community on every page! God wants us to live together and learn from, as well as teach, one another.

Christ-centered relationships, together in a community or church, were instituted by God.

Jesus is the foundation of church. (1 Peter2:5-7)

Paul helped spread it. (Acts 9:20)

And intended for us to continue it.

Once we accept Jesus as our Savior, He longs for us to do more than simply set foot inside a building, commonly known as a church, to worship Him on Christmas and Easter. Or, maybe, to do more than never set foot in one at all.

Let me be clear in how I define church. It’s a group of believers in an environment who seek to grow in their relationship with, and their understanding of, Jesus through many ways including music, prayer, discussion, and/or listening to a message.

This can be a small group held in a home or coffee shop, or a formal service in a traditional or contemporary setting. It can take place in a small or stadium-sized space, or any time and any day. Scripture shows church as place where people are gathered together to praise and learn about God.

Notice the use of we, us, and our in these verses:

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken [heaven], let us be thankful, and so worship God with acceptable reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28).

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker …” (Psalm 95:6).

According to the gospels, Jesus gave sermons to thousands. He allowed groups to gather around Him as He revealed Scripture. I’m sure these people grew stronger in their faith and leaned on each other in hard times—like when their very lives were threatened after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The Apostle Paul, the accepted writer of two-thirds of the New Kristen speaker image and quoteTestament, elaborated on this, mostly in letters he wrote to churches. He loved to use phrases like, “Brothers and sisters” and “Dear Friends” when addressing first century believers. In Acts 9:15, we’re told he wanted his ministry companions to join him as soon as possible. They, his friends, were needed by the great Apostle. In Acts 2:42-47 we read an account of some of the first groups of Christians, known as a fellowship of believers.

The question is why? Why is doing ministry together better? I believe God uses us to help and grow each other. To pray for, meet a need for, to celebrate an answered prayer with one another.

God designed us to live in community, to never be alone, as my grandmother might say, in our journey on earth and with Him. In order to live this out, and using the Bible as our example, we must prioritize our time with other believers. We must walk alongside them and help each other worship Jesus and learn about Him.

Where do you stand? Are you heeding God’s call to remain connected with other Christians?

We’ve found, often it’s our fear of rejection that isolates us from each other. But God didn’t create us to live in fear! In Christ, He’s given us everything we need to live Bold and Brave! Join us for one of our upcoming Bold and Brave conferences to gain tools that will help you develop deep community and walk in freedom. Find our more HERE.

Want us to come to you? Contact us HERE to find out about hosting your own Wholly Loved event or inviting one of our speakers to join you for your next women’s event.

Cover image for Wholly Loved giveaway devotionalIf you enjoyed today’s post, would like more inspirational content sent directly to your inbox, and want to stay up-to-date regarding what’s new with us, make sure to sign up for our free quarterly e-mailing. Plus, when you sign up, as our way of thanking you for your support, we’ll send you a free 30-day devotional (ebook). You can sign up HERE. (If you sign up and don’t receive a welcome email with a link to the free download, please contact us HERE.)

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.

Related resource: Included in Christ: Living a New Story From Ephesians by Heather Holleman

Relationships

Misaligned Priorities

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Sometimes what I think is of the highest priority, isn’t, and what I put aside is really what I should focus on.

I walked downstairs and saw my mom talking on the phone. She was empathetically offering words of comfort to a friend in need.

I noticed the dinner dishes still on the table and immediately judged her for misaligning priorities. How could she just leave the dishes? How can she drop everything to answer a phone call?

God immediately spoke to my heart. She was doing His will. She was behaving like Mary.

Luke 10:39-4(WEB) reads “She had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His Word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she came up to Him, and said, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister left me to serve alone? Ask her therefore to help me.’

Jesus answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her.'”

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Though Jesus was specifically speaking about spending time with Him, Scripture teaches us to prioritize people above things. In the fast-paced world that we live in, this message is even more pertinent because society teaches us to be like Martha. It teaches us to focus our energies on the wrong things – worldly things.

While my mother tends to put others first, I tend to prioritize my “to do” list. Had I been in her shoes when her friend called, I’m afraid I would not have answered. Even if I had a friend in need, I would most likely clear the table and finish the dishes before returning his or her phone call.

Why do we think our agendas are more important? How can we shift our priorities?

Growing closer in Christ through reading Scripture is a good first step. We can also ask God to reveal situations in which we can grow in this area. Times that we may choose Mary’s path and can witness true servanthood through others like my mom did. Opportunities to allow others to embrace and model Mary-like hearts. How can we prioritize seeking Christ’s guidance in what is truly most important?

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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?

If you enjoyed today’s post, would like more inspirational content sent directly to your inbox, and want to stay up-to-date regarding what’s new with us, make sure to sign up for our free quarterly e-mailing. You can do that HERE. 

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Relationships

Beautiful, Messy Friendship

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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?

If you enjoyed today’s post, would like more inspirational content sent directly to your inbox, and want to stay up-to-date regarding what’s new with us, make sure to sign up for our free quarterly e-mailing. You can do that HERE. 

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