There are things I share on my blog and things I don't. It's easy to share the good things, the joys, and even the "lite" version of my struggles. It's harder to get real and open up the really hard places in my life for the viewing of any and all who choose to peruse this online space. And for anyone who stops here (there are a few of you), once or frequently, my hope and prayer is that the words I type and the emotions I express through my posts are encouraging to you, and that they never ring false or hollow. So, in the spirit of getting real, here are a few things God is showing me. It's quite a list, but not a prescription. It's just a good reminder of what is important. I am not sharing it with you so that you can create a check off list for each day with these words on them. But it might be a good thing to print out and read often for a little encouragement! This post began in my head on a Sunday morning before church a couple of weeks ago when reading a blog that ended by asking for comments on what mom's would tell themselves if they could go back 10 days, 10 months, 10 years...
Reminders to Myself:
1. LOVE - Love with your heart open. Love God. Live in God's love and let Him transform you to love people even when it is hard. Walk in real love, not some Hallmark card, sappy love. Love when it's messy, when you have to go out on a limb, when the dirt and yuck and preconceived ideas try to get in the way of loving. Love when someone has disappointed you. And don't think this only applies to people who love you back or whom you like--love those who are your very enemies and pray for them. Love the "least of these". And do all of this loving with action and in truth-not just with words.
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." John 3:16-18
2. LISTEN - Listen to God: through the sweetness and sharpness of His word, the Bible; through His Spirit, speaking to your heart in prayer; through the pain and the darkness of trials and disappointments as He teaches you. Listen to your husband when he wants to tell you about his day, listen to your kids when they want to tell you every detail of the latest dream or adventure in their world, listen to beautiful music and spoken words as older and wiser ones play and sing and tell stories that can teach us, listen to the cries of those who are unable to speak and speak up for them, listen to the sorrow of a friend or stranger who needs to speak her heart. But DO NOT listen to the voices that seek to destroy you, devour you and lead you to places of sin, hurt, and frustration.
“Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway." Proverbs 8:32-24
3. LET GO - Let go of past hurts. Forgive. Cry or scream to the sky if you need to, but allow God's grace to cover over the pain and then give that grace to those who hurt you, even if they show no remorse or refuse to believe that they have wronged you. Let go of the idea that perfection is what matters - reach for all that is good and beautiful and right and true, never missing those things because you want to have an immaculate home, perfectly compliant and calm children, beautiful clothes, unbelievable hair, the most gorgeously landscaped yard, and a list of accomplishments three miles long for you and your family. Excellence honors God, but judgemental perfection does not. Let go of your desire to please others. Focus on caring about them more than caring about what they think. (See 1.) Let go of your tendency to be critical of others when they don't do things your way. Let go of your stuff and your dreams and give them to God, asking Him how He wants to use your time and money. You will be amazed at what He does!
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:12-14
4. LAUGH - As much as possible! Laugh with your kids when they tell you a joke that makes no sense. Laugh just because. Laugh at mistakes, spills, falls, and dumb things you said! Laugh when your planned day turns into a series of unplanned mishaps. Never laugh at someone else's pain or expense, but laugh with people as you build friendships and find things to laugh about together.
"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy..." 1 Peter 1:8
"If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15:10
5. LEARN - from God by walking with Him each day. Learn about the beauty and the sorrow of this world, so you can add to one and be a part of diminishing the other. Learn from those who are not like you by getting to know people outside of your community and comfort zone. Learn from those who are wiser than you. Learn to admit when you are wrong. Learn that honesty is more valuable than anything you might obtain by lying, cheating, or stealing. Learn how to be a real friend. Learn how to work hard and work with others. Learn that sometimes not saying what you want to say is best. Learn how to give more and take less. Learn to LOVE, LISTEN, LET GO, LAUGH, and LEARN as you seek to live your life poured out for God, a life that will matter at it's end because it was lived for the One who was and is and is to come.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8
And when you have a day in which you were unable to do any or all of these or do any of them well, realize that your salvation does not come from your worthiness or abilities, but from the free gift of God through Jesus Christ. God's delight in you on bad days is the same as on good ones. Ask Him for grace and strength to live in these things the next day!
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
Loving and Learning,
- I love Jesus Christ, am a seeker of beauty, and am a grateful child of God who would be lost and hopeless were it not for His grace. I am learning to walk in love, see interruptions as divine appointments, and value people and relationships above agendas and results. I pray my life is grace-filled, and brings joy and encouragement to everyone I know and meet. We are a family of 6, built by God through love, birth, and adoption, living in the beauty and the struggle that accompanies parenting kids from hard places. Got questions? Email me at email@example.com.
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