A Legacy of Love

I’m at the stage of life where you drink all the coffees and read all the parenting books. Parenting books are great except they all say different stuff.

Lately, instead of reading all the books, I’ve been watching all the parents. Again, every family is different but I’ve noticed something: The families I admire the most and see the most hope and happiness in are the ones brimming with love. They may have different rules, live in different cultures, go to different types of churches, educate their children differently—on and on. But they have love in common.

So what is love, exactly, beyond a feeling or a nice word?

I opened my Bible to the “love chapter”— 1 Corinthians 13 — and read through the detailed description for a better idea. After explaining how you can do everything else right and have all the ability in the world but if you don’t have love, it will count for nothing, Paul goes on to detail what love is action by action.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

As for prophesies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (italics mine). 1 Cor. 13

Just about every word in this passage convicts me. When I look at our home and my mothering in particular, I see how poorly I live out the actions of love in our family. This is not meant to heap on mom guilt when it’s already so easy to feel like we’re failing and can’t keep up with all that’s required of us. But it does give me pause to think over how often I’m patient or kind with the people I’m with the most.

20626962_10154761931351517_5291673004939242159_oAfter praying over this passage and asking God to specifically help me live out love in my home, I noticed all the more how often love is the last place I go with my husband and children.

When love asks me to be patient, I am so often impatient with the dawdling and explanations of my three-year old.

When love asks me to be kind, I catch myself being sharp in moments of frustration and fatigue.

When love says not to envy or boast, I find myself scrolling through social media wondering why everyone else is doing a better job and having more success than me.

When love is not rude, I’m biting with my words and attitude toward my husband and kids after a long or disappointing day.

Love doesn’t insist on its own way but how often do I, either openly or overtly through quiet manipulation?

Love bears, believes, hopes, endures and never ends. It’s as if Paul is saying, if you just do first what love requires of you, you will later see the fruit in that love never ending in your heart and home.

All of this challenged me, as I said. But what really caught my attention was the latter part of the passage where Paul talks about all these other impressive things eventually passing away—the knowledge and wisdom of the day (uh parenting books for instance ūüėČ )—these things are only limited, partial knowledge that will eventually fade in light of the full knowledge of eternity. They’re helpful, but they’re not necessarily the most important thing.

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What will last though, is love—the greatest of all these things. Greater than knowledge, greater than ability, love will be the lasting legacy.

I want to be careful not to rip the passage out of context and away from Paul’s intended purpose but I thought what he said about thinking like a child was so helpful too because I forget sometimes that my three-year old is just that, three years old—like he’s been alive for only three years and sometimes I expect so much of him. Perfect, immediate obedience. A level of calm and self-control that probably no three-year old boy has ever had. Understanding of big concepts and words that are still quite new to him—respect, responsibility, consequences.

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Yes, these are things he needs to know and learn but he’s a child—he speaks, thinks, reasons, and acts like a child because he is one. Eventually, like Paul, he’ll become a man and give up childish ways. But until then, what he needs is love coupled with truth and correction.¬†

So what does this look like? It’s patience with a little boy’s energy and learning curb, it’s kindness and gentleness when I’m prone to lose my temper and ere on severity. It’s words that build up and instruct when I’m tempted to be sarcastic and rude. It’s being steady and self-controlled when I’m prone to react in the moment and let my emotion and frustration rule. It’s bearing, believing, hoping, and enduring whatever life may bring to our home and family because if we do—love never fails. Love wins. Love brings the child in his childish ways into the man who puts childish ways behind him. All the rules and frustration in the world can’t produce that and all the other knowledge I might gain along the way is partial and fleeting in light of love and the eternal imprint love leaves on a heart, home, and family.

The greatest of these is love. I see it in the families and people I look up to and I see it laid out so clearly in Scripture—love—above all method and knowledge, let our homes be built on love for this is the one thing that will not fail in the hearts of our children and families.

Because He Loves Us

IMG_20170917_151032_292.jpgI look at my daughter and I’m reminded anew that God really does love me. She’s an answer to prayer, right down to her mop of black hair. I’ve always wanted a dark-haired baby girl. The dark hair didn’t really matter, I knew that, but I thought it would be so cute.

When I found out with my first pregnancy that I was expecting a boy, I had a really hard time with it. God changed my heart after I held my son and I wouldn’t trade him for any other child in the world. He’s my buddy and I’m so thankful for the unexpected gift he has been to me. But still, when I found out I was pregnant again, I so wanted a daughter. I grew up with all boys and have always hoped for a bit of girly fun in having a daughter of my own.

When we went for the ultrasound to find out the gender of our second baby, I waited with nervous excitement telling myself it would be fine either way and willing myself not to be disappointed if we did, in fact, get another son. All through the ultrasound, the technician used gender-neutral terms, “it,” “the baby.” But just once she slipped up and said, “his foot.”

His¬†foot. My heart sank. So it was another boy after all. I was glad she had slipped up, actually—that gave me a minute to get my head around it and move past the initial disappointment before she made the big announcement.

Soon, the lead technician came in and asked if we were ready to hear the gender. Yes. Tell me it’s a boy, I thought. But instead she said, “it’s a girl!” and Darren and I both practically yelled at the poor girl, “it is?!?!?”

My heart was so full. I went from being frustrated trying to talk myself into the idea of another boy to being so grateful and excited that I was getting my girl after all.

My girl.IMG_20171022_221449_326.jpgFast forward to her birth several months later…it felt like about 14 months later with her being so late ūüėČ I was induced and sat there nervously waiting to do the hard work of bringing my little baby into the world. Roman’s birth had been so hard and left me so uncertain about ever delivering again. But there’s no going back, only knowing what you must do to hold that precious baby in your arms.

I put my earbuds in and fixed my mind on Ed Sheeran’s smooth voice in my ears. Soon though, even Ed couldn’t talk me off the ledge of that pain and I knew it was time to bring my daughter into the world.

I pushed for 7 minutes, I think, and then this screaming, dark-haired baby girl was placed in my arms and she had so  m u c h  hair!

IMG_20171003_121438_849.jpgEvery time I run my hand through that head of hair or dress her in another girly little outfit, I’m reminded of the very specific gift she is. In giving her to me, dark hair and all, I’m reminded how God delights to answer both our very specific prayers and the deep desires of our heart.

Does this mean God gives us everything we want right when we want it? No, of course not. I had to wait for her and God’s timing. And there are other desires and prayers that haven’t yet been granted and may never be.

I want to be careful because I have dear friends who are trying for babies or praying for a spouse or working through other difficult circumstances and I by no means intend to say that if God just loves you enough or in a special sort of way, then he’ll grant all the desires of your heart right now. This side of heaven, our hearts will always be broken to some degree about something.

God is complex, as is each of our individual relationships with him. And we often learn as much or more in the waiting and the “no’s” as we do in the ‘yes'” and the gifts. So while it’s good to stop and consider his blessings and the ways he chooses to show love to each of us personally and individually, it’s also important to remember his love in the no’s and the waiting. Both are from God and both are able to draw us to him if we allow it.

Today, I’ll kiss my daughter’s chubby little cheeks and thank God for her yet again. I hope you too, will take the opportunity to consider how God is showing his very personal love to you. And if you’re discouraged in the waiting, take that to him as well. Tell him your hurts and see what he will do even in the aching, broken parts of your story ‚̧

Life in the Middle

Fall is slipping through our fingers as October, in all her orange and golden glory, is coming to an end. I watch the seasons pass in the field across from our house. A hill of evergreens is met at the bottom by maples, birch, and oak—each presently showing off in orange, red, or yellow with just a few green leaves left here and there.

Each morning, I slip downstairs early and open the dinning room curtains. I sit at the table with espresso and my Bible and watch the fog lift in feathery strings of magic up out of the lowlands before mingling in wispy bands with all those colorful trees.

I’m having trouble comprehending how it can almost be November, how so soon we’ll be grabbing coats and boots before stepping outside in what right now is absolutely perfect weather.

Having a baby warps time a little bit, I think. The sleepless nights and relentless days bleed one into another and for a girl who loves her day planner, I’ve been surprised at how often I’ve had to ask what day it is or stop and think before I know for sure what month we’re in. Time both flies and trudges on achingly slow. Somehow, my baby is three months old and I’m both happy at watching her grow and heartbroken by the same.

20170926_213610.gifTime is a trickster, making us feel we’ve got all of it we need and might even just be stuck in the same place forever yet all the while slipping through our fingers and only being realized in the fallen leaves at our feet after months have gone by.

Darren and I sat talking the other night, a rare feat these days. Our conversation centered around the season of life we’re in, where so much seems out of reach and down the road. We are very much in the middle.

In the middle of sleepless nights and long days with little ones who need us endlessly. And though our children absolutely fill our hearts to overflowing, my gosh, I could use a nap too.

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IMG_20171007_135249_637.jpgWe’re in the middle of jobs and business plans that are neither just beginning nor anywhere near done. We’re past the initial excitement and miles from the finish line.

We’re in the middle of our marriage—being neither newlyweds nor all that far down the road of our relationship at nine yearsIMG_20170916_165423_400.jpgIn the middle (though hopefully closer to the end) of remodeling our house with a zillion big and little projects still needing to be done.

We’re working and planning and moving forward day by day by day. But the years and miles stretch out before us and it’s easy to get lost and discouraged here in the middle. I find myself wanting to start a new venture or take a big trip—just to be at the beginning of something exciting again instead of stuck halfway through all the work that eventually brings those exciting beginnings to a fruitful end.¬†IMG_20171022_221723_349.jpgGod is teaching me a lot about my own character right now, showing me the areas in need of refinement. When I’m stuck with the hard work of doing something I began, will I have the patience, discipline, and contentment to keep plugging away day after day? Or will I quit because I’m bored and tired and it’s really, really hard here in the middle where the dust likes to settle and Satan likes to whisper so loudly in our ears about what could be or could have been if I’d just stopping wasting my time on the same old drudgery?

Fortunately, God whispers too. He whispers to my heart through his word and his people that there is a harvest to be gathered at the end of this journey if I just keep going, if I just keeping doing the same hard task over and over again. You don’t stay happily married for fifty years by walking away when the excitement grows thin. You don’t successfully raise children by giving up on lovingly disciplining and instructing them when you’re only half-way there. You have to keep going. You have to keep working all the way to the end to reap the harvest you sowed so many years ago. ¬†IMG_20170919_132033_449.jpgSo I’m learning to endure. To keep getting up early each morning with hope that this day, so very much like the day before with all the same work needing to be done, will build slowly but faithfully into something worth having. My marriage is worth working for, as are my children, my home, and our ambitions and endeavors—all these things are worth the slow, faithful work of beginning again each day with the belief that what I do counts and will be blessed by the Lord if I stay faithful to the very end.

I hope you will be encouraged to believe and live the same. Let’s not give up in the hardness of the middle.

 

 

 

Begin Again

I stand at the kitchen window, warm cup of coffee in my hands, and watch the morning light wrap the sleepy landscape in pink and yellow. Birds flit in sets of two back and forth between the birch trees; the white of their feathers stands out against the black shadow of trees in the distance.

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I’m not a morning person by any stretch but being a mother forces me out of bed into the morning light. I’m tired,¬†but¬†I like the quiet that comes with the sleepy, waking hours. Everything is fresh and new and ready to begin again— however frazzled and worn out it might all have been just hours before when we went to bed in surrender to another day.

I’m thankful for mornings and evenings and that we get one of each,¬†each day.

Each day we’re gifted the opportunity to (mostly)¬†put yesterday behind us¬†and begin again. Each night we may (mostly) leave the day behind and rest in preparation for beginning again tomorrow.

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We need not carry too much with us at a time for we are only given so much time at a time to do what God has asked. This is a gift—for we are finite and God knows our limitations.

We are given the counting of days and hours by a God¬†who knows we can’t bare the weight of burdens given outside of time and limitations. The sun rises and sets and we’re given rest in God’s mercy. We’re allowed over and over to begin again with the morning light—quietly breaking up life’s journey into sustainable pieces of the whole and leading ever on to eternity when our fragile souls are at last capable of the weight of endless time and waking.

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But until that day, we rest. We walk. We begin again. We take the small portion assigned to us for these waking hours and carry on faithfully for one more day—just one more day at a time until all our days melt into eternity’s forever.

You need not carry the whole of life’s burdens today; that’s not what we’ve been asked to do. Yesterday is over. Today is brand new. Tomorrow has not come.

Pick up today’s load only and walk on faithfully. Rest tonight and begin again tomorrow. That is all. Anything more is not what God is asking you to do. He alone stands outside of time for he alone is able to carry that burden. Do not try to be God today.

Walk faithfully—then rest. That is all.

Faith & Depression

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Depression is a rather taboo topic among Christians. After all, Christians shouldn’t¬†struggle with darkness when backed by all the hope and joy of knowing God, right?

Well…

If I’ve learned anything about myself as an adult, it’s that I feel everything deeply and this leads to highs and lows. I used to believe when I felt good that¬†the high would last forever. Life was all worked out, everything was better now, and I’d never again descend into that ridiculous, suffocating darkness. Somehow I believed the same thing about the darkness–it was forever–nothing would ever change or get better, my life was a mess and there was nothing I could do about it. The end.

Nothing Lasts Forever

Eventually though, I caught onto the pattern, the ebb and flow of these all or nothing feelings. I started to understand that life is a mess of good days and feelings mingled with hard times and broken hearts. Outside of eternity, we are trapped in time and the changes time inevitably brings.

C.S. Lewis says it better in The Screwtape Letters:

“Has no one ever told you about the law of Undulation? Humans are amphibians–half spirit and half animal. . . . As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation–the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty.”

Simply understanding that the darkest days would not last forever was a game changer for me.¬†I was able to¬†ride out the emotion without feeling totally hopeless. I learned to acknowledge that life ebbs and flows and however bleak things may look today, they will surely change tomorrow or soon after. I learned not to lose heart–and that made all difference.

But this wasn’t enough. It helped knowing the hard times would pass but I still felt guilty for even having such dark feelings. Surely as a Christian I should handle life better and never allow myself to get so down in the first place.

It’s Okay to Struggle

Here, the Psalms helped tremendously. One Psalm is filled with praise and glory and the next the Psalmist decries all the heartache and hopelessness surrounding him. King David, a man who clearly loved the Lord and sought to walk with God did not hesitate to show fluctuating emotions.

Ronald Horton in Mood Tides states:

“An imperturbable evenness of spirits is not laid down as a norm in Scripture. Personal gains are occasions for thankful rejoicing. Personal losses are promptings to soul-searching and spiritual attentiveness. They are occasions for God to show His character in bringing something good from them and in the process mature our character as well. How else might we come to know beauty from ashes, honey in the rock, streams in¬†the desert, a door of hope in the valley of Achor, lives revitalized and refined?”

Some of the lowest times in my life have led to the deepest reflection and strongest growth. Both struggle and blessing help my faith, but admittedly, I am more inclined to seek out God and his truth when my heart is hurting than when all¬†is going well and I’m feeling self-sufficient. I’m learning to use¬†the times when I struggle¬†as opportunities to think, reflect,¬†and grow rather than sulk.

Do What’s Right

Though it may not be wrong to feel down, it is wrong to sulk, complain, and otherwise behave in a way that doesn’t bring honor to Christ. However we may feel it’s essential we continue to¬†do what’s right. You can acknowledge that you don’t feel happy or joyful while still doing what is right and good.

Trust that doing the right thing is always the right thing even if your feelings don’t line up with your current behavior. Acknowledging and riding out feelings doesn’t give us a free pass to behave unkindly or to spread gloom and discouragement like confetti. Our actions must be in line with our faith even when our feelings are miles away from joy and comfort. We must always choose to do what’s right regardless of how we feel (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

 

I hope this is a help to you if ever you find yourself struggling with darkness or depression. You are not alone, Christian or otherwise, trust me on that. If you would like to reach out, feel free to get in touch in the comments section below.

We Forget.

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I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1 ESV

I was glancing through my journal when I came across an entry from October 2014. This was a difficult time in life. I’d had a baby a few months prior and was going through a¬†time of discouragement and loneliness.

The entry listed several different things I wished were different at the time and ended with the words “I wish, I wish, I wish”¬†followed by¬†the passage below¬†I had read that morning:

May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests. Now I know the LORD saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. Psalm 20:1-6 NIV

As I re-read the list of “I wishes” today, I was moved by how every single one of them–seven total–have been answered and allowed. These weren’t mere “wishes” but heart cries to my Abba Father and now I look back and see how God’s word did not fail in the promise to¬†hear and answer my prayers.

While I was¬†aware that life is tremendously different and miles easier than it was those two years ago, I hadn’t fully realized just how specifically and completely my prayers had been answered. I needed this reminder both to stand in awe of the God who does indeed answer prayer but also to remember to give thanks for all God¬†has already done and not to¬†focus only on what I would like to see happen next.

I’ve had some things pressing on my heart lately–things I worry about and have a hard time handing over to God. How good it was to be reminded that God is completely trustworthy with all my heart’s desires and disappointments.

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I needed to be reminded too that last time I had to walk through the valley first. I had to trust when my heart was hurting and I couldn’t see what was next or imagine how some of those prayers could possibly be answered. Several of the things on my heart two years ago have only recently changed and been supplied–but they have changed–and that’s all I needed today to face tomorrow with hope and confidence.

Today, I read again in Psalms (before discovering the journal entry) and marked both the passages this post opens and ends¬†with; how fitting they are now in light of all I’ve been reminded of today.

For you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10 ESV

We can trust God–totally, completely, with all our heart for all our lives. Test him and see.

When Time Touches Eternity

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In The Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis writes,

“For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.”

Each day we brush against eternity.

It¬†feels¬†like¬†a big idea, like something far away and a long time from now. But every day I look eternity in the eyes when I hold my son or talk with friends and strangers. We carry eternity with us, it’s what we’re made for, and yet how easy it is to see only what’s directly in front of us.

This life demands our attention endlessly–always there is something else to do, something else requiring my time, energy, and concentration. I forget in the bustle that the people I spend so much time caring for and interacting with were not made for this life alone. We have eternity written all over us, woven¬†throughout our souls and¬†fibers. What I do here matters but it matters primarily because it touches eternity.

I’m trying to remember, especially at home with my people, that eternity is sprinkled throughout. It’s easy to think my life is small and mundane or that the things I choose to do with my time and energy matter little. But the way I teach my son, build our home, love my husband, care for those around me–all these normal, everyday routines add up to the stuff of forever. And forever matters immensely even if my day to day activities seem small and unimportant.

Today is “the point at which time touches eternity”–now, today, what you’re doing with the people right in front of you is what will matter forever. Don’t forget that and don’t¬†believe the task before you is small or unimportant.

Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end (Ecclesiastes 3:11. ESV).

Fallow Ground

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Last night we worked on the yard, raking and turning up the soil for spring. I knelt in the dirt, gathering rocks into the wheel barrow and enjoying the cool spring breeze whisping through my hair.

We set out the boundaries of our garden and I dreamt while I worked of vine tomatoes and itty bitty strawberries ripening in the sun.

Roman helped gather rocks, huffing and puffing to assure me of his labor and brute strength. Even when he bent to lift a tiny shred of paper into the wheel barrow, he grunted and moved slowly to prove the weight of his task :] How I love him; how I have learned to love him after struggling and finding our way into and through toddlerhood this winter. He is strong, willful, completely sure of what he wants. I see myself in him, I see his dad, and I am both terrified and proud.

I thought last night as I worked the soil into soft, plantable rows, about the parable Jesus gave of fallow ground—dry, hard, unworked ground—where though the seeds may fall, nothing grows or changes in such unattended¬†soil.

I wondered about my heart, the soil of my heart, and if this ground is turned over and ready for growth or packed down in stubborn defiance, refusing to grow, refusing to change.

I have felt a bit like a rock in a tumbler these last two years since Roman came. Around and around I’ve gone, having my hardness and rough edges worked down into a softer more desirable form. Last night, working the ground, it made sense to me–all the tumbling and falling–perhaps it was meant simply to turn up the fallow ground, to plant and build new life, to grow and harvest new fruit in soil that was once packed down and useless.

So today I hope not just for those sun ripened tomatoes and strawberries but for fruit in the softer soil of my own heart as well–that I would not be dead and useless but alive and growing into what God desires me to be.

What a gift it is that God works our hearts as we do the soil, that he does not simply drop seeds on hard ground but kneels in the dirt and works on us until we are made soft and useful for new life and purpose.

Frosty Enchantment

God says we are made in his image—we humans somehow carry with us the¬†likeness of the God who made us, in part, like himself. But it is in nature I best see the breaths and fingerprints of my God. That’s not to say I don’t see¬†God’s handiwork in people—it’s just that people are always in motion, and for me at least, more difficult to study and learn from. But nature moves at a steady pace and watching the stars drip evening light out of the night sky or listening to the magnificent roar of thunder rumbling down around us somehow speaks far more deeply to me about the things of God.

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We are just two steps into November and already frost kisses the brown and gray things with glittering light—robing all that now seems dead in one last moment of beauty and enchantment.

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It’s a rare moment these days when I find time to pull my camera out. But sometimes the light or the shadow out my window pulls too strongly to stay busy inside and I find myself instead kneeling close to the ground, enjoying the weight of the camera in my hands, and trying click after click to capture what it is that brought me outside searching in the first place.

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Today, it was the frost sprinkled like star dust through the grass and leaves and the way the morning light danced in rainbows through the¬†frozen drops of¬†dew. And it’s here, knee-deep in grass, camera chasing the sun through frost, that I see God in my midst. I see him making dead things beautiful and breathing glittering light into things we might think are¬†done and gone and no more needed.

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I see God making me new and somehow beautiful in his sight when I would be dead and useless apart from his light. I see the enchantment of frost sparkling on leaves and in that light, I see his light, shining too in you and me.

He can make you new. He can give you life. He can make all things beautiful in his time. I know, because he’s doing so in me.

The Vulnerability to Pray

9d883252495e0bafba09370dbdbd643dNot long ago I sat in a room of people sharing prayer requests with each other and noticed something: Most every request was about someone else, not the person sharing it. This made me think, how much easier it is for us to share the needs and vulnerabilities of others than it is to share the needs and vulnerabilities of our own hearts and lives.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing a request for someone else—generally, these requests are shared sincerely with genuine concern and most people are happy to know others are praying for them in a time of need. But still, why is it so hard for us to say things about ourselves like:

“I’m struggling with…”

“I’m hurting from…”

“I need help with…”

“Please pray for me.”

Prayer is a humbling thing.¬†Prayer is¬†an acknowledgement of need for help from a power higher than us. When I pray, I confess that I can’t…I can’t for myself, I can’t for those I’m concerned about. Prayer acknowledges that only God can and so we turn our hearts to him in prayer asking that he would.

So admitting to others¬†what I can’t do, can’t control—this is a humbling¬†thing. How much easier it is to ask for prayer on behalf of someone else I know who’s hurting or in need. How much safer to keep my own needs and vulnerabilities to myself.

And yet, what power there is in prayer and in humbling ourselves enough to pray with sincerity and vulnerability. How much better could I know and pray for my friends and family if they were willing to say, “I’m struggling with…” “I need help with…”.

I’m not a fan of vulnerability. No, I would rather feel safe. I would rather take my own needs and concerns directly to God and leave everyone else out. Thankfully, I do have direct access to pray but that’s not how God intended the church to work exclusively.

God meant for us to need and help¬†each other. He meant for us to know each other¬†beyond the surface, down to the very heart and soul. But if we are too proud to be open and honest with each other we will never know or understand the depth of help and support we could truly offer in life and in prayer. I can’t help with a need I don’t know about or pray for a concern that’s never been shared. The more we keep to ourselves, the less we can offer in prayerful support.

This is a hard lesson for me. I would like to pretend it’s not something¬†I need to work on. But the truth is, 90% of the time when asked how I’m doing, I just say, “fine”—whether that’s the truth or not. It’s easier, it’s safer…but it’s¬†not the way God meant for me to relate to others.

I had a close friend ask me recently what the best and worst thing is in my life right now—simple questions that lead to deep answers about what brings me the most joy and most heartache in my life right now. She answered the same two questions and I learned a lot about what she’s going through and how I can better pray for the needs of her heart right now. This again got me thinking about how important honesty and transparency are if we truly want to know and help each other beyond the surface. How thankful I am for friends who see through my¬†cheerful “I’m fine” and “good” when asked how I’m doing and push me towards truth and honesty.

Though it’s scary, it’s also so very good to be known. I feel the most loved by the people who know me best…the people who have seen me at my worst and know the things about my heart I would share with no one else. Really, there is much safety in vulnerability for here we find out who we can trust and are most loved by.

So don’t be afraid to humble yourself and tell the truth about the needs in your life. Though it’s scary, you will likely find many around you are happy to pray and help as best they can if only you are willing to let them in.