Fight for Community

Today I had a conversation with a friend. My heart hasn’t been right, it was hurt. Our relationship  had been affected. I had let insecurities and other people speak their own insecurities and lies into my heart.  People's mandala - 12 handsFor weeks I had allowed the hurt to fester and grow. I was dangerously close to allowing the hurt pour out to others in anger and criticism. I was close to writing him off and being “done”.

But God loves His people. He doesn’t not want His children fighting against one another so He convicted my heart. His Spirit convicted me to the point that I had to make things right. I had to talk to my friend. I needed to share my insecurities, the lies I had believed and the things I had began to listen to from others.

To be honest this was not easy. It was very difficult. I was fearful of how he might react. I didn’t want to hurt him, but most of all I hated the thought of his disappointment. But his response was graceful. There was no condemnation or judgment. He listened as I shared my hurt, and my frustration.

He then walked me through three things. He helped me remember…

What he has done in the past. He reminded me of circumstances, and life decisions that spoke of his character. He reminded me of his consistency in his choices and the living out of his life.

His heart. He shared his heart with me. First he shared with me what I already knew about his heart, then he shared the things God was showing him.

Who our enemy is. He reminded me that we fight the same enemy and that enemy would do anything to stop the work that is being done in God’s kingdom. He reminded me that our enemy loves nothing more than to create friction and undercurrents in order to divide the body of Christ. He doesn’t want God’s people getting along.

There are parts of me that could go to the place I so often go and that is shame. I could beat myself up inside for forgetting who I know my friend to be. I have known him for a long time. We have worked along side together in ministry. Our families have broken the bread of fellowship together. I should know better. I could allow shame to cause me to withdraw, but I will choose to rejoice that Christ’s love won and the enemy was defeated in this battle.

As I have thought about this today it became very clear how easy it is for all of us to do this with our relationships (and with God). We let little things grow into big things. We do not confront and we forget.

So going forward I choose to do better.

I choose to go to my friend (or to God) immediately when I have doubts. No matter how small or petty I may think my insecurities or doubts are I will value relationship over looking foolish.

I choose to always remember who I know them to be. I will always choose to believe they want God’s best for me and would never harm me on purpose.

I choose to remember that our enemy seeks to destroy all healthy, godly relationships among God’s children.

I choose to believe that my friends, just like God, we always respond in grace and love not matter how silly my insecurities are.

Let us all remember to guard our relationship with our brothers and sister in Christ. Let us remember that we all fight the same battle…the same enemy.

What about you? Are you willing to go to your friend, your brother or sister in Christ, your pastor, Bible study leader or church leadership and fight for community. Are you willing to humble yourself and die to pride so that the body of God will be guarded? Will you, at all cost, protect the community of Christ against an enemy that seeks to destroy?

Who do you need to talk to today?

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves ;  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Phil 2:1-4

So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Romans 14:19

What I Have Learned After 30 Years

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Thirty years ago today I said I do to a man I wasn’t sure I loved the way a wife should love her husband. I am not even sure I knew what love was at that time. What I did know is that he was my friend and in the two years I had known him he had already supported me through so much. He had loved me during moments that many men would have walked away.

Since that day I have learned a lot. I have learned about marriage, love and life as we have journeyed together. It hasn’t always been perfect and yet it has been good. We have learned that we can argue and yet work things out in love. We have learned that there will be times we may feel like we want to give up but we would fight for one another, for our love and our family.

We have also learned…

Marriage is a covenant. A covenant not to be broken except by death. We choose to be committed to one another no matter what life may throw at us. We also understand that it is not just the two of us involved in the covenant but God is the administer of our covenant. He watches over us.

Love is a choice. You only fall out of love because you choose to. It gets too hard, we stop trying, but love chooses to stay and work through the hard places. Love chooses to keep going even when you feel like giving up.

You have to laugh. At times we must laugh hard and long. It helps put the day in perspective. God gave me my husband because God knew I would need to laugh. Keith is the only one who can make me laugh at almost anything, even when I am really stressed out. Even when I am upset with him.

Neither of us are perfect. We each have areas of our heart and life that God needs to expose and work through in order to mold us into the image of Christ. Giving room to grow into the man and woman God has created us to be is important.

Marriage is about growing. It’s a process of growth and maturity. A process that requires grace, patience and a willingness to walk in forgiveness. It’s growing in our relationship with God, with each other and within ourselves. We need to encourage and spur on growth in one another.

Marriage is about friendship. Be willing to work at the friendship. Spend time together. Talk about everything, share your hopes, dreams, joys and sorrow. Be life long friends.

Marriage takes hard work. It’s true, marriage isn’t easy. You can just glide along hoping things will be fine. You can not just push everything under the rug praying it will work out. You need to keep dating your spouse even when schedules make it seem impossible.

There is so much we’ve learned after 30 years, this is only a small list. How can one possibly list everything?I don’t want to sound as if it’s been easy, it hasn’t been. Anyone who has been married for any length of time knows it takes work, prayer and God.

There is a book on my shelf that I have never read, it’s called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. I am sure it’s an excellent book. When I first got it I opened it and read 2012-12-24 20.49.01this sentence, “What if marriage is not to make you happy, but to make you holy?” I closed the book and put it on the shelf. It’s the best book I never read.

That sentence in many ways has totally changed my thoughts on marriage. What if God intended marriage to make us holy? What better way to live a life of “iron sharpens iron” than within the marriage relationship?

Maybe we come into marriage with the wrong expectations? We enter marriage thinking it is to make us happy, whole or so that we are loved. But what if it is more about learning to know God and to make us holy. It’s just a thought.

I pray that we still have many more years ahead of us. I love this man, I love being married to him for better and for worse, in sickness and in health and for poor or rich. I pray we have more years to love and to grow.