To be mean is to insist on your own way at the expense of others. It’s the opposite of Christ’s kind gentleness. It is to throw away God’s faithfulness and exert your own pride as means to achieve selfish ends.
With each experience of someone being hateful towards us, God is giving us an opportunity. Sure, we might be taken aback, but that’s simply because we have expectations greater than depraved souls can meet all the time.
Clinging to the comfort and hope of the gospel, I’m free from demanding that my friends love me perfectly. I don’t need their perfect ministry because I have the perfect ministry of Christ. And as I humbly receive from him, I’m able to humbly receive the imperfect love of others as tangible instruments of God’s grace to me.
It’s hard to listen when I realize the world can look so different from another point of view. I feel in over my head. Conversations about race can make white people uncomfortable, but love for our neighbor requires us to listen.
. . . the noble desire that longs to help, to fix, and to rescue is the same desire that Satan can use in ministry to weaken us. He uses it to halt our prayers to the true savior; to bring instability to our faithfulness by making our faithfulness seem to rest on us, not Jesus.
We serve because God tells us to worship him this way, not because we want people to know how awesome our gifts are. We serve because Jesus first served, not because it’s easy.
And as redeemed image bearers, we reflect our father’s heart to the world. His heart is for the orphan.
No matter who you are or what stage of life you’re in, there are people in your life who are just difficult. People who take more than they give. People who endlessly repeat the same poor decisions that affect your life negatively. People whose personalities are drastically different than your own.
I tend to want to fix my kids with my power. I want to say and do all the things that will produce the desired effect in their hearts and behavior; to smooth out their rough edges with solid biblical parenting; to mend their flaws and melt their fears so that I can feel really good about my kind, obedient and happy kids.
It's no shock when I'm impatient with my husband. He's slow and methodical. He doesn't do anything in a hurry. He’s the opposite of me in this way and I love it about him. It's clear I needed to marry a man who measures my temperament with his steadiness. This characteristic of my husband is a means of grace from God to help me grow.
It also drives me nuts.
He’s not nourishing and cherishing me, I would lament. I’d count down the moments until he arrived home from work, waiting for him to burst in the door and rescue me from my failures and frustrations. When he didn’t live up to my demands, I gave into despair. I tagged him “in” and checked myself “out.”
This year will mark the first Father’s Day I have ever spent without being able to see or speak to my dad. For 35 years, even after moving away from home 14 years ago, I have spent almost every Father's Day with him. But this year, I remember him.
The kind of thinking that attempts to bear the burdens of others as Christ instead of with Christ makes a ministry with foundations not in Jesus, but in the one who has put himself/herself in Jesus’ place. Such a ministry is thinking far too highly of itself (Rom 12:3).
The point is that you need to marry someone you can have a happy conversation with, someone who enjoys at least some of the things that you do. Marriage is not meant to be miserable.
. . . I had to learn something in the midst of feeling controlled by my hormones: I cannot allow my body, my emotions and my hormones to control me. I needed to be controlled only by the love of Christ, even in the depths of menopause. And God says I can be (2 Cor 5:14, 2 Tim 1:7).
Certain that true community and growth were only possible through unflinching vulnerability, I committed to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I shared all the gory details of my past and present struggles, heaping burdens upon willing listeners while remaining a safe distance from their attempts to speak truth into my life.
As children of God, we hurt each other constantly, thinking the pain and retribution we inflict on one another has nothing to do with him. But we are wrong, it’s never just between us.
I resented others who said they had a great first year. I was envious of those who were popping out kids with no problem while we couldn’t even figure out sex. I hated when people joked about “doing it” all the time as newlyweds.
And as I saw my sinful responses to my trial grow, I realized that maybe I had worshiped my hopes for sex more than my God.
The peaceful home life and steady emotional culture of our family was gone. Our counselors and books said, as the boys felt safer and more attached, we would see calmer moods. But fear threatened my hope in those days, and it was easy to forget my anchor to God’s steadfast love. The passion that drove me to orphan advocacy seemed like a distant memory.
As a mother who has never aborted my child, if you are a mother who has, we are no different.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Mothers are something to be celebrated, no doubt. Among the greatest blessings in my life are the amazing parents with whom God graced me. But Mother’s Day has been a major source of grief for me, flamboyantly flaunting all that I longed for and couldn’t have.