“Oh you’re fine. It wasn’t even a hard fall. Get up, you’re okay. You fell softly,” the grey-haired lady said repeatedly to the 4-year-old who fell off her seat.
After watching this all play out, I consider her words. How can one “fall softly?” I’ve never heard of such a thing. Second, I have no idea how a warehouse metal floor could be soft.
The little girl threw a fit for the next 10 minutes afterward.
Now, I recognize: I’m eavesdropping at this coffee store. I also recognize: I’m judging. Even more, I recognize: I’ve probably done the same thing to my kids at times.
God help me.
But, there’s a point to all this. When we negate people’s fall, or feelings, we fail to be there for them. When we brush off another person’s reality, we hurt them even more. Thus, this 4-year old girl’s 10-minute tantrum post-fall. No one was there for her.
She threw a fit.
Just because we brush off someone else’s pain, doesn’t mean it disappears. In fact, insensitivity to pain often heightens it. It causes tantrums. Explosions. Depression.
How did Jesus deal with people’s pain?
A “man who had died was being carried out” by his mother.
“And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Lu. 7:13
“And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus[d] gave him to his mother.” Lu. 7:14
Through compassion, Jesus cleared the way for life. Our approach should be the same.
I also love that as I love you, I get a chance to learn who you really are. You send me emails and thank yous and little stories of the giant hurdles you’ve made in life. And yes, even though you call them small, God and I know they’re giant.
You all are great. You make me smile. You make me shed tears. You make me pray. And while I can’t always respond to every email via the computer I always try to respond with God. I ask him for the best for you, for your situations and for your heart. I ask him to show his lavish love in your life.
You are amazing. You gift me a lot more than I gift you. Daily, so many of you give to my heart. Quietly, I know others inwardly offer up thanks. Readily, I know there are prayers going out for the wider community of gals who read these words.
To know we are fighting together, battling through our hang-ups, and sticking to the King of Kings on this road is beyond helpful to my heart.
We rage on – in love.
I once thought this blog was about me “getting my healing.” Now I know it is about all of us “becoming healed” and supporting each other along the way. Thank you for helping me realize I need you just as much as I need God.
You are often a vessel for His voice. A voice of encouragement that pops up via email at just the right time. A prayer note that I needed. A living testimony of what you are reading.
All glory to God! He is working right here. We read and write only holy ground, together. And I love it! I cherish it. I rejoice in the fullness of what He has prepared for such a time as this.
While social media rages with hate, anger and dissension, we pull together in love. We smile and keep on with Jesus. We do our part to do our best to change our little slice of the world one small act of love at a time.
I am grateful for you. I want you all to know that. God has given me so much in this community of lovers. I praise Him for you today.
My prayer for you: Sweet Jesus, thank you for the reader of this post today. Thank you that you see her heart. Thank you that she pursues, loves and follows you. I ask you to open every door unto her, so that she can meet and know you with immense passion. I ask that there would never be a question in her mind as to how much you love her. I ask that there would never be a question in her mind about how immensely loved she is. I ask for an increase of your heart on this very blog that reaches hearts day-in and day-out. I ask for your activating faith to pour out on every reader in profound ways in the coming days. I ask for your will to be done in all ways. We thank you Jesus. Amen.
I lived with fake trust in God for a long time. During those years, I thought it was real trust. Now I realize it was like dressing up a pig and calling her pretty. I focused on actions so much that I missed the heart of the matter.
I showed myself beautified by giving advice to others.
I dressed up my Christian life by doing bible study dinners.
I put on a thinking hat to prove I was smart on bible knowledge.
I believed if I read 10 minutes of God’s Word before breakfast, all His words would work for me.
I thought myself better by sizing myself up against those who were rude, struggling, arrogant, a know-it-all, or sinning.
“Do not throw your pearls to pigs.” Mt. 7:6
May I remind you? I was the pig.
I knew the Word of God, but missed God’s heart behind it. Ouch! I worked up faith, but faith that was all about me. I loved God, but it was the brute force of Kelly Balarie trying to make it happen. I believed God via my words, but doubted him deep in my heart.
Real love is not determined by what is shown on the outside, but by what compels us on the inside. Love does not originate from our good work, but from Jesus’ perfect work.
This thought and truth freed me. No longer am I looking to prove my worth. I am trusting Jesus’ worth to be my worth. I can breathe again. And beyond this, I can rest again.
I don’t have to force my way, because God’s way rules.
I don’t have to pretend faith, because God gives it.
I don’t have to make you think right of me, because God defends me.
The difference is: I get faith from God. He gives it to me; I don’t work it up.
I never have to prove myself more worthy, because Jesus is worthy. In this gap, I can confront my inadequacies, my vulnerabilities and my inabilities without fear of the unknown or unseen. Why? Because God has me.
He has you too. Naturally, He has you. He has you even when you don’t speak Christianese. He has you when you miss your morning devotional time. He has you when you mistakenly throw out a cuss word. He has you when you don’t know what to do. He has you when you think everything is crumbling. Your work won’t make up for what you owe Him…Jesus already paid for all that.
People are fickle. In Jerusalem, Jesus was popular one day. Many days later, similar crowds yelled, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him.”
This is why we don’t live for man, but for God. This is why our worth isn’t dependent on how we’re received, but on how we are freed through Christ. This is why we don’t bend backwards to do what God is not calling us to do.
Yes, we love. We do what God calls us to do…but not to the point of hating ourselves, our answer or the decision that we knew we shouldn’t have made. (but felt obligated to say yes to)
Jesus says “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mk. 12:31)
We can only give the best of what is in us. There must be love in the water reservoir in order to hand it out to the city.
I considered this recently when I talked to my husband. He said, “We can give money at the start of the year, rather than on a monthly basis because this is what I feel is right for the family…” I can feel at peace about it. I can love myself enough to take care of my family the right way – rather than feeling obligated to give the wrong way.
I also considered this when I got behind on writing blog posts. I can love myself enough to say I need to slow down and be around my family. I can be kind. If you noticed, a bit back, I wrote a little less.
A few moments ago, the phone rang. It wanted my attention. But to give attention to whoever that person was would steal my attention from you. I love myself enough to keep the peace of where I am, rather than being rushed to the next thing.
When we rightly take care of “us,” we can rightly take care of “them.”
In what ways have you gotten this backwards? In what ways have you tried to take care of them, so you could feel good about you?
This kind of sacrifice tends not to breed sacrificial love, but resentment and bitterness. Only when the well of our heart fills with God-given rest, hope and love does our well never run dry.
I remember sitting on the beach, watching a man who owned the water. Unlike the lady I watched five minutes before, he ran up to the gigantic waves and dove straight into them. He didn’t inch forward with trepidation. He didn’t put his arms out to balance. He didn’t look back to his wife beach-bumming-it on the sand. He owned that water. He went in, looking far stronger than the waves. I couldn’t help but think his water-approach said much about our spiritual life approach.
When we walk out on the world with the confidence of God, we aren’t easily knocked over.
To say, “My heart is confident in you, O God” (Ps. 57:7) is the equivalent of saying, “I can run up to that 6-foot wave and dive right into the middle of it and be fine.” Why? Because God is greater than any force that wants to pummel me. Nothing can eat me alive.
To say, “This I know: God is on my side” (Ps. 57:9) is to silence opposition in just eight words. Distraction and irritations lose their effect. If God is for me, who or what can be against me?
To say, “God will fulfill his purpose for me.” (Ps 57:2) is to dismantle doubt. God will do what He purposes to do.
To say, “All the Lord’s promises prove true” is to walk fortified with the solid rock of Christ in you. All that God says is real and God really is good.
How will you approach the waves of your life? Ready to be tossed around or ready to thrust right through them?
“How blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.” Ps. 40:4
In winter, I spend an inordinate amount of time holed up in my home under a blanket, guzzling hot coffee, and longing for spring’s arrival. It’s not my favorite season, but favorite or not, winter is important. Despite what we see with our eyes, the earth in winter is busy creating life. We only know this is so because spring eventually comes, and then we marvel at what that life looks like.
Is it possible that God designed winter and the earthly cycle of life, death, and renewal in order to speak a deeper truth? I believe, because the Bible says it’s so, that everything in creation is designed speech about its Creator. Just as we find him on warm summer days, standing in the sand, listening to the waves crash against the shore, we find him in the stillness of winter.
Winter, however, often speaks of a barrenness we don’t want to hear about.
Annie Dillard writes, “All that summer conceals, winter reveals.” And so we need a life with winters, because we need our hearts revealed. Winter comes to strip us bare of our delusions, to make us face reality: we have imperfections that we can’t perfect. We are helpless to find a formula to reason or act our way out of our helplessness. We are human, and we, in our barrenness, must be acted upon if we’re to experience eternal life, joy, and the supernatural.
Winter then, after stripping us bare, points us to the invisible motion as if in invitation to these very things: life is happening. God is at work, acting upon us.
The harshness of our waiting winter tells us that this world has nothing for us and that we have nothing for ourselves. We have this hope–one, and only one–that there is life waiting for us beyond death.
Although we are not yet in that world, we have reasons for our hope: the words of God. With words, he formed the earth and its seasons and cycles. With words, he continues creating. We can trust his words. In our winter, we must draw ourselves under the warm blanket of God’s promises, a sure comfort in the darkest of hours.
This is what God did with the prophet Jeremiah:
“And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, ‘I see an almond branch.’ Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.'” (1:11)
In Jerusalem, the almond tree, the first to bud in the spring, was said to “watch for spring.” God used the almond branch to comfort Jeremiah in his lamentable circumstances. The almond branch was a reminder that God is always in process of keeping his promises, that he is, at this very moment, hurtling all of us toward eternal spring. He pointed to the almond branch—the coming of spring—and told Jeremiah to watch and wait.
We too watch and wait, not in fear of this winter in which we live, nor in fear of our own spiritual poverty or even final death. We watch and wait, comforted, because all of this God is right now working for our true life, when winter will forever turn to spring.
Christine Hoover is a Bible teacher and the author of several books, including Messy Beautiful Friendship. Her latest book, Searching For Spring: How God Makes All Things Beautiful in Time, frames the life of faith according to the seasons and according to Ecclesiastes 3:11: “God has made everything beautiful in its time.” Searching for spring is really a search for God’s redemptive work, where suffering and death become fruitful life. Christine invites readers like you, who may be weary and withering, to join her on a treasure hunt for beauty in both familiar and unexpected places.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
I am the oldest of two kids in my family. While growing up, it was hard not to notice that my mom seemed to spend all of her time helping my younger brother. To be fair, he needed more help than I did but it was sometimes hurtful that I didn’t get the same level of attention. It kind of forced me to become independent. When I was an adult, married with kids, I asked my mom why there was such a disparity in my youth and her response was, “You didn’t need any help. You were perfectly capable.”
Now I call it the curse of the capable. Because you don’t need help, you won’t get any.
I’ve seen this curse play out a dozen different ways since then. For example, my husband and I are both independent people, and while we love to be together, we don’t always need each other. That can be good sometimes because I don’t have to wait until the weekend change a smoke detector battery or kill a spider. It can be a bad thing, however, because it’s easy for independent people to grow apart. We have to be careful about noticing when we’ve drifted and come back together.
I have also seen the curse among women. I am a natural born encourager. I use phrases like, ‘to die for,’ or ‘phenomenal’ when I’m cheering for you. I’m the friend that will literally jump up and down screaming when you share good news. I like to think I’m the ‘there for you’ friend in good times and bad. The problem I have seen is that as a natural encourager, it’s often hard to find encouragement for myself.
On the outside, it can appear as if I am confident and capable, therefore I don’t need anyone to build me up. Inside though, I am still the little girl thirsting for comfort in an arid desert. I have come a long way in this area. I found Jesus later in life and knowing I have his never waning encouragement is the most phenomenal comfort of all. But I have to admit that I still think it’s nice to get some affirmation from friends, family, and community.
If you are independent or competent, you may be under the curse of the capable. Maybe you are an encourager that needs to be affirmed or a mom who could use a reminder that she’s a good one. Perhaps you are a leader who would love some help but feels bad asking for it because you ‘should’ have it under control. Take heart, friend. As someone under the curse myself, I see you. I think you are doing a great job!
I want to invite you today to take a minute and think about someone in your life that could use a little boost. Even if that person seems like they have it all together, a quick note or message from you may be what she needs most. When we take the time to pour into others, the curse breaks and being capable becomes a blessing.
Father God, you are the ultimate encourager. Please help us to encourage one another regardless of whether or not we need it. Help us never to give up and to break the curse for people we love or admire and that in turn, it would be broken in our lives as well. Amen.
About Anne Watson:
Anne is a former sleep in on Sunday’s girl who didn’t meet Jesus until way later in life. She recently quit trying to be holy, however, after spending an inordinate amount of time trying to shuck her unholy habits to fit into the Christian world. As a bullying survivor, Anne knows first hand the pressure to belong and why changing yourself doesn’t work. She now spends her time fiercely encouraging women to be badass for Jesus by being who God created them to be…themselves. She is a writer, a speaker, and a podcast host for the Declare Conference. She and her husband are raising three hysterical kiddos and are also in the process of going broke while paying for college. You can find more from Anne on her blog, GodDots.com.
It’s a shame I got so angry.
It’s a shame I didn’t give in to the demands and now, those people are still upset at me.
It’s a shame that I handled things all wrong and hurt people’s feelings.
It’s a shame that I regret it and can’t rewrite history.
It’s a shame. Or actually, I am a shame. I am a shame of a girl who should be ashamed of myself for how I acted.
This is the line the devil feeds me: “Oh, Kelly, look at you. . . you should be ashamed of yourself.”
And now, look what you’ve done:
They all hate you. Everyone remembers. You are a bad testimony. You’ll never recover. No one will ever support you. You’re ruined.
He’s sneaky, that devil.
But I can be sneaky too. I can be. I’m sneaky when I remember: if I’ve confessed it, God’s forgiven it.
At this point, the face of that issue no longer faces me. Jesus’ love speaks louder than my history. Yet, I can be sure if there’s a voice still talking, it’s the enemy’s. And at this point, it will always sound like shame or regret.
But I don’t have to live with it. I can tell it to shut up. Here’s how. . . I say:
I am not controlled by what I’ve done, but the Word of Truth and the Spirit of life. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. There is no perfect person and if that is my standard I will always fall. I can forgive myself. God is my hiding place, and in Him no harm will touch me. God knows the intentions of my heart. The Lord watches over me, because I fear Him. (Ps. 33:18) The Lord protects me; He is my shield. (Ps. 33:20) The Lord thwarts any evil schemes coming against me. (Ps. 33:10) I am not perfect, but the perfect sacrifice of Jesus perfectly covers me and marks me righteous.
I am fully restored in Christ.
And that’s how the voice stops talking. You tell it the truth.
I didn’t push the girl’s sheet of paper. I didn’t. She was the one who kept inching her colored sheet over mine and trying to irk me all throughout art class. And despite my best efforts to ignore her, she wouldn’t stop. She did something else annoying too. She kicked me under the table. It was taking everything in me not to respond.
Until, I did. She pushed too far. So I screamed out in the middle of the elementary school classroom, “Stop it.” The girl barked to the teacher that I’d been pushing her sheet. But I hadn’t.
I got in big trouble. The girl sat there unscathed. I sat in the punishment seat. The girl sat there smiling. I sat fuming. The girl sat in victory.
Where was my defender? Who stood up for me? Why didn’t God bring justice? I wasn’t doing anything wrong.
I still ask these questions, even as an adult.
Why? Why did all that happen? Where were you God? Why did I go down those roads? Where were you God? Why did I get hurt like that? Where were you, God?
When I look back and see God’s absence, it makes me believe He was negligent.
But was He?
While horrible stuff happened, it never kept me away from God’s love. While things went wrong, I still lived. While stuff hurt my insides, it never ruined me. While there were some close calls, I often squirmed right past.
Just because we can’t see God work doesn’t mean He isn’t working.
There is so much I can’t see in the moments when I believe He’s not defending me. Like His hands holding things back, the angels He sends on my behalf, and the wisdom He pours down from high to help me understand things. Like the arms wrapping around me when I think I am alone, the heavenly court docket that has no record of my wrongs, and the road he reroutes to make sure I am take care of.
Don’t discount the Protector working in the unseen just because you can’t see Him.
Here I stand today. I may have fallen and felt alone yesterday, but I stand victorious in Christ. I stand wanted and in His love. I stand whole and wholly loved. It looks like God took care of me pretty well. He continues to. He does the same for you.