My tracks tend to be on auto-pilot. What about yours? Routinely, I’m interested in what I need to get done, who needs help around me, and what tasks need to be accomplished for the family and God. The order of our day does matter. Our priorities reflect what we believe about our identity.
Let me explain…
A religious man said to Jesus, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” (Lu. 18:21)
Essentially he said, “I’ve done what mattered, I’ve obeyed you, I am good.”
His identity was: A Rule-Follower.
Jesus replied, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Lu. 18:22).
Essentially Jesus said, “Your treasure is not what you’ve done, but is found by continually following me. In me, is your identity.”
In Christ we are:
Children of God.
Yet, as we let other treasures cloud the treasure found in following Jesus, we start to believe we: must work hard to be loved, follow every rule, do more to achieve eternal glory, look good to man, and get everything done in our day to be successful.
Where is your treasure? Is it in following and staying close to Jesus? Or is it in doing stuff, accomplishing more, and keeping up with the world in order to stay protected and safe?
What is the one thing that tends to distract you from following Him?
The best lovers of Jesus are the best releasers of what they hold tight to. The more they let go and cling to the robe of Jesus, the more they find their world healed by His love. They follow Him at all costs. They find treasure.
Jesus says to you today, “Leave that one thing behind and come. Follow me.”
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.
We’ve moved across state and country lines three times over the past six years, and with each move I’ve dreaded the exhaustion of making new friends. Women can be so nice and welcoming and awesome. And women can also be terrifying.
After our second major move, we began the search for a new church. We liked the idea of attending church in our own neighborhood, so we decided to visit the one across the street from our apartment complex.
It was a smaller church, with around forty people attending that day, and when the service was over, it took at least forty-five minutes to exit the building. People wanted to know where we were from and where we’d been and if we preferred the Chicago White Socks or the Cubs. Albeit tiring, I was glad these complete strangers were making an effort to get to know us.
And then someone took it to the next level.
A woman named Beth came up to me again and asked if my daughter and I would like to come over for a play date at her place sometime that week.
If my jaw didn’t physically drop right then and there, it hit the floor metaphorically. She had only met me ten minutes ago, yet she didn’t hesitate to welcome my child and I into her daily life.
I thought protocol was that you had to commit to a church before the people in that church would be willing to commit to you. And yet, Beth welcomed us in – no strings attached. Not worrying if our presence would mess up the groove of the friendships she had already established.
As the newbie in town, I was so grateful for the generous welcome God provided in what would eventually become our church home and the source of many life-giving friendships. And as the one feeling awkward and lonely, I was so grateful Beth didn’t let fear hold her back from both saying hello and, “Would you like to come over?”
May we all be the same beacon of welcome to the people in our everyday lives – to those in our homes, in our churches, and in our neighborhoods.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:3
Lord, one of the greatest gifts that You gave us was the church. I pray that You will provide life-giving friendships for those of us who feel lonely. And I pray that You will help us recognize ways we can invite others into our daily lives – no strings attached. Amen.
About Kendra Broekhuis:
Kendra is the author of Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert’s Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. The book highlights her 30 Day journey to recognize the Lord’s “I love you’s” in her daily life, as well as her somewhat awkward attempts to be the Lord’s “I love you’s” to her neighbors. For her day job, Kendra stays home with two of their children, Jocelyn and Levi. She and her family live in Milwaukee. Kendra’s love language is Dove chocolate.
This is both a hard question to ask, and perhaps, one we’ve all been confronted with. Are there times, reasons or seasons to pull away from a friend? And should we feel horribly guilty about it?
I stood facing exactly this type of decision only three weeks ago. I liked the girl, but she had been giving me far too much detailed advice about topics I never asked her input on. This annoyed me. It was as if she was rewriting my life with a pen I never handed her. It was as if she was telling me a list of things I should improve, but the hard part was she didn’t even know my story or what God was doing behind the scenes. She was quick to talk and slow to ask questions of understanding.
My finger was pointed at her. And my mind kept circling the thought, “Guard your heart. Create distance from her.”
This meant avoid her: Avoid confronting her. Avoid the problem and avoid dealing with the repercussions of having a real discussion.
But God bless my husband. He essentially told me, “Love has hard talks.”
It does? So I talked with her.
Which I’m so glad I did, because if I didn’t I never would have seen:
-How my wounds made me react quickly to her words.
-God had things for me to learn through this discussion.
-Her heart was in the right place.
-God has deeper healing for me.
-There are safe boundaries that can be set up.
-I am not always right.
-Communication about what works and what doesn’t is vital to any relationship.
-We both have good goals in mind.
-The enemy is sneaky and he loves to create division.
I am not perfect, and neither are my friends. I haven’t always been a good or an enduring friend but I am learning to give people the benefit of the doubt.
So to answer the question, “When do you end a friendship?” I don’t have all the exact answers and there are far too many nuances to explain in black ink…but I do know: you never ditch people like trash. That is for sure.
You talk and you tell. You love and love some more. You give and accept grace. You listen and you learn. You dive in and you uncover. You persist and listen to God’s direction.
You take the risk, even when you want to turn your back and walk away. Sure, there may be times God leads you to go a different path. But, before this point, you enter the difficult spaces and get real. You seek to understand.
Take a hard-learned lesson from me.
Prayer: God, I want to be a good friend. I want to be a person who is slow to anger, quick to listen, patient and kind. Grow me in this. Show me how to communicate well. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.
Take notice, the line above does not read…
“While we were trying really hard to improve…”
“After we had started to get wise…”
“Once we read the book of John three times…”
“As soon as we looked like Mary, not Martha…”
“After a huge and long prayer that really showed God you loved Him…”
“After we proved we would have Christian value for the future…”
“Because you did better things than the other woman…”
No. While you were a sinner. . . while you had dirty knees and an unclean heart, while you still were doing that horrible blasted thing you always do, while you brought nothing to God on your own…right then, Jesus chose to die for you.
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” 1 Tim. 1:15
Jesus, sans sin, saves sinners. Lamb of the world. King of Kings. Lord of Lords. Lion of Judah. He came (and got) what he was after: our sin and our hearts. What we hate in us, Jesus annihilates. He throws it as far as the east is from the west, and remakes us into His image. Glory.
What love is this?!
Right now, love calls you deeper. Will you respond? What must you clear out so Love can make His way in and renew your spirit? So that you can abound in freedom?
No matter how unworthy, messed up, horrible or guilty you feel, there is nothing that can separate you from Jesus’ love. There is no amount of feelings that can devalue the price Jesus paid on the cross. There are no lengths that can’t be erased by his grace.
Invite Jesus in, no matter how badly you feel about things. No matter how wrong you may have been. No matter how bad that thing from the past really was. No matter how hurt you feel. No matter how badly you’ve been sinning.
Jesus will take it, then remake you. It is that simple.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Ro. 5:8
He loves you.
Prayer: Jesus, all of you is what all of me needs. Everything else is of no merit in comparison to your glory and grace. Fill me with you and lead me in your ways. Thank you for the price you paid, to love me. I love you so very much. I confess, (share with Jesus here). I need your help (share more with Him here). What do you have for me, God? In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.
Her: “I told you I didn’t want the banana.”
Me: “You did?”
Her: “Oh, wait, I said that to you in my mind.”
This really happened. Someone told me in her mind and expected me to hear, I guess. It seemed crazy. Outlandish. Ridiculous.
But is it?
How many times do we speak our mind within our mind, only hoping that another will pick up on what we are saying.
We think: I wish that boy would pick up his clothes.
We act: All huffy and puffy about bending over.
We think: Why can’t she be on time?
We act: Impatient, looking at our watch the second she walks in the door to prove our point.
In our mind, we often have a running tally of what others are doing and saying wrong. But unlike the girl who didn’t want the banana, we don’t admit it. Instead, it builds and builds and builds…
Until….dun. dun. Dun… the day. . . dun. Dun. Dun…we EXPLODE!!!!!! And we go off on the person. We lose our cool and do the opposite of this:
“Love is patient, love is kind (1 Cor. 13:4)”…and “slow to become angry.” Ja. 1:19
How did we get here?
I’ll tell you how. We weren’t honest. Instead, we were thinking inside of our mind and living in fear of being truthful. The problem with this is that a truth not spoken and pent-up eventually bursts out of the pot at caustic and scalding temperatures that leave others feeling burned. Yee-oww!
God intends we go another way. We are told the truth will set us free – and it will. What is your truth? What freedom do you need to get from God?
You may need to:
1. Confess your frustration to God and ask Him what He has to say about it.
2. Admit it to an accountability partner and ask for prayer and help.
3. Talk to the person about your aggravation.
But don’t keep it on the inside. It is a hot pot about to boil over and the pain of it all does hurt.
A person taken advantage of by a boss.
Another in desperation because there is no way out of a marriage.
One uncertainty about what the future holds because children are now gone.
A friend in deep need to be healed not only of cancer, but emotionally.
We see these people, but we often feel helpless. We don’t know how to help. What to say.
The apostles perhaps felt the same when they saw thousands without food. They instructed Jesus to send them away, to “villages so they could find food” because “there is nothing here in this deserted place.”
Jesus had none of that. He replied, “You feed them.” (Lu. 9:13) He says the same to me. You feed them.
You feed her – the daughter who needs to know you’re listening.
You literally feed him – the husband who is tired and comes home starving.
You feed them – the couple who looks downtrodden at church every week. Go to them and see how you can get to know them.
You feed that one – the person who has been on your heart for weeks, but you haven’t taken a step towards.
Even if you say, “What, God? Me? Don’t you see I am in a deserted place? I have nothing to give.”
Jesus replies, “You feed them.” (Lu. 9:13)
This Christmas season, neighbors left and right came out of their house with little cookies for me and my family. I was far from home and without family nearby, but they came – and they came with smiles. Some with gifts. And every one with a heart of love.
This season, I got fed. I feel full. I told my husband it was like we were with family for Christmas.
These people didn’t count up their own deserted land and have a pity party of their own. They picked up their tin and came over. This is what Jesus means by feeding. Just get out there and do it. It matters. Small things offer others big heart strides.
And the truth is, all of us have a something, even if we have nothing. His name is Jesus. He is always our something. He is always our first leading to our best thing to do, to give, to hand away no matter how big or small. Size never matters in God’s economy. What is little gets big, in the name of Jesus.
You feed them.
Prayer: God help us to do the small things you instruct our heart to do. Give us a will of follow-through. Give us intent to love. Give us your vision and your hearing so that we might love a world in need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
These three words crawl under my skin like a spider.
To me, they mean:
Someone disagrees with me.
They probably think my idea is stupid.
I have a huge chance of being wrong.
Beyond these three horrible feelings, they induce shame.
Shame is a:
Sudden Heaping on of A Massive Embarrassment
Shame makes you feel:
– like a fraud
– as if people won’t look at you the same
– like you should keep your mouth shut
– no good
Do you experience shame? When you speak? When you act in the wrong way? When people catch you doing something? When you make a mistake?
The other day my daughter came home from church. She looked at me and said, “Mommy, when I do bad, and say sorry to God, I get to do this…”
She took one hand and wiped off her other arm as if she was wiping sand off her forearm. Then, she did the same with the other arm.
“I get to wipe it all off, Mommy, and it is gone.”
I considered her words and actions. I get to do the same, too.
I get to wipe off the moment I feel caught, the second I feel exposed, the time I feel burdened by what I did wrong, the moments where I hate the little things I do. Wipe…wipe…gone.
Because of Jesus. Because his love leaves no place for shame. Because He came to free me, not to bind me up to my own nervousness. What He delivered me from was my sin and the things that keep me insecure, so I can walk out and into this world with glorious light. He does the same for you, too.
The exterior of my house looks like a junkyard. I am not exaggerating. Out front is a broken desk; it was shattered during our near-cross country move. Out back are two sets of patio furniture. Ones I picked up and off the neighbor’s lawn.
I’ve never done that before. I really wanted patio furniture. So, the first second I saw the first set, the wrought iron white chairs, I declared them as cute as could be. That is, until a couple weeks later rust stains started showing up everywhere. I haven’t gotten rid of the chairs yet. My deck now is etched with tons of full-blown brown circles.
The other set was the replacement for the first set. I spotted the two big brown wicker chairs set aside as “throw-away items” in a neighbor’s yard. I rapidly snagged them (may I remind you, I’ve never been a trash hunter…I really wanted patio furniture). Like a sleuth agent, I threw them in my back yard before anyone could see.
Only later did I come to find out that the majority of the legs were missing. I guess they had enough legs to fool me at first. Go figure.
So, now, when I go outside, front-yard or back, I am overcome with junk. Junk that is rusty. Junk that is wasteful. Junk that is annoying. Junk I now have to figure out how to dispose of. Junk that leaves stains I also have to get cleaned. Junk that pesters me. And, no patio furniture, to boot.
What junk are you dealing with in your life? An old house? An old wardrobe? An old annoying habit that drives you nuts? A problem you can’t fix? A person you can’t de-stain? Baggage that feels to internally weighty to unload?
We can shift our attitude. Did you know that? I tried it. Sitting on the said-white chairs, the other day, I recommitted to God to be positive about it all. That is. . .until I looked left. . . and saw the brown chairs. Grr…not them again. My thoughts wandered off to lands of annoyed and not-bueno.
God, how do we continually see the good, while we are surrounded by the bad?
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18, NIV)
What if we were really go give thanks in (and for) ALL circumstances, good and bad?
God thank you that these rusty patio chairs remind me: earthly things rust, eternal things last.
God, thank you that the brown chairs, flipped over, with their broken and legless limbs up to the sky speak: on earth we don’t get everything, but in Christ, we have all we ever need.
God, thank you that the broken table out front is symbolic of seasons: they change, but your love, God, always stay the same.
God, thank you that what looks like junk can be seen through a new light. Thank you that what looks broken is a reminder of my brokenness and how you’ve repaired me. Oh God, I give thanks that you haven’t left me broken, but you are repairing me. You are good.
To give thanks for our bad, is to, undoubtedly, find God’s good. It is to let victimhood, despair and frustration drop off you and to let a high and lofty view come in you. It’s powerful.
Junk has purpose. Thank you God, my deck kind-of, now, looks like art work.
God, help me to give thanks. So many times I see what is bad, but through you, I ask for vision to see what is good. I ask you for a voice full of praise and thanksgiving. I ask for understanding of what you are doing through the hard times. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.