Monday, June 20, 2011


Have you ever lost your purpose? "What kind of question is that", you ask. Well, have you ever woke up some morning and wondered what you were doing with your life or where you were suppose to be going with it? I have. I mean, I have been there. This is a very scary and insecure feeling. It's like I could not seem to grasp anything real meaningful. I lost perspective. The perspective of passion and zealous conviction. Even if I would go and serve in a meaningful role helping a hurting person or counseling, still I found no pleasure in it. My purpose had been stolen by the pain of betrayal, deception and persecution.

Think back in your life. When have you felt the greatest sense of purpose? There were two times in my adult life when I felt a real burden of purpose. When I gave my life to Jesus at 25, I felt I must share with anyone who would listen of the freedom I had received in Christ. When I was 33, The Lord called me into service to those who have lived the same traumatic experiences I have lived. Everyday I would wake with an excitement in the pit of my gut because I knew that in that day God was going to do something great in my life. He did. Whether it was in prayer time, a phone call, a client in office or a community connection Jesus, was very material in my life. The original sense of purpose in my Christian faith has not wained. Oh, I have gotten distracted at times by jobs and kids and husband. Ok, and money a time or two but never has the flame of love and desire to preach the gospel ever burned out in my heart. The purpose to help trauma victims did however. Sad. I mean, it is sad how when the Lord calls us to something great there will always be an attack launched against us in order to stop us from bringing the message of freedom to others.

When the attack starts we are in that "googoo eyed" state with Jesus. He called me so I can take whatever the enemy dishes out, right? Have you ever been in an attack that went on for a long, long time? You finnally start to realize that you are getting wore down and tired and you need a break in the battle or to win the battle or you are going to just quit. Well that was me. It was literally a reliving of the story of Nehemiah when he was trying to get the people of Israel to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. They had resistance from within and resistance from without and the people were complaining and quarreling and were afraid. Nehemiah finnally told the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.' Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon."(Nehemiah 4:14-17) With one hand so-to-speak I worked with my clients, my community and my colleagues. With the other hand so-to-speak I had to try to defend my reputation, my character and my actions from accusation and attack. The work was fulfilling and I could see every day God's work through me in the lives of many hurting children, women and men. The infrastructure in which I had to accomplish this work was steeped in cynicism, selfish agendas, beaurocracy and one barrier after another. I went in expecting that the system would work with someone who really wanted to make a change in people's lives. I believed that everyone who did that kind of work did it out of love and empathy for another fellow sufferer. Not so. I found that people were in my profession for a whole host of reasons and few of which were love, empathy or a desire to help people really find a way to change and heal. Because of this I became disillusioned with the work, the call I received to help those who are wounded. I became disillusioned with a system that I believed in and with groups of people I thought purposed to empower others but in reality were fueled by anger and competition. It is because of this I lost my purpose. I felt that if those who could support me and propel me forward would not then it would be impossible to accomplish my purpose. It was to them business as usual.

In the end I was undone by the anger and competetive spirit. I left with very little. Mostly, what I could carry in my memory and what I had learned from my clients, their cases and educational experiences. I was emotionally battered and torn, but I had been changed as a person. I came there to usher in change for others and they changed me. I now knew what real pain and suffering really were. I now really loved them. Their brokenness did not allow me to keep my self-satisfied image, my neat little portrayal of myself. Their brokenness demanded humanity, understanding, empathy, and for me to be a real person not just a smiling, nodding head. I wanted to lay down my life-my time, my heart, my energy, my resources in order to serve them and comfort them. Now I knew that in order to make a difference in the lives of the broken I must do it God's way not the world's way.

My purpose was to serve those wounded by trauma and help them but they helped me. They helped me to see what God saw not this nice, neet little package that some office professional could serve me. Now my purpose has changed. I thought I would serve those emotionally, physically and spiritually ravaged by abuse and neglect. I thought that if I found some program to work through that I could help people but now I know that healing and recovery come through the redemptive power of Jesus Christ.

What I will do is show the love of God to each and every person who the Lord sends me. I will meet them in their humanity so that they are not alone in their suffering so that they know that God has not forgotten them or rejected them and that there is hope.

"Yet in spite of this I did not demand the governor’s provisions, because the bondage was heavy on this people. Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people."(Nehemiah 5:18-19.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Love One Another

Love. What is it? Is it a feeling, an act, a perception, an image? In our country (US), "love" as defined by Hollywood is in most images we see that depict our current culture. In doing an image search under the word "love" I found images of hearts and lots of hearts. I found animals mating, women who were naked and in sexualized poses and men and women being intimate. Searching magazine images for "love" was much worse. Image after image of women who appeared to be in the process of masterbation or sexual arrousal. Hollywood love produces images of happy, smiling couples. Which is it? Hearts, mating animals, a masterbating woman or a smiling couple with seemingly no worries? It is none of these!

The word "love" has been used in our pop music to describe a fantasy world where people all just live in harmony with one another. "Love" in music has also been described as: puppy love, a vice/compulsive, keeps us togethor, your smile, thoughts of another, endless, partner's body, will go on & on, a faithful promise, makes a person crazy, a heart breaker, a confession of it, a fantasy, lifting higher, etc. In some rap songs "love" was described as taking a peice of a girl, being lost like a homework excuse, chilling with no makeup on, ecstacy's explosion and making a brother feel like something. A web search for love songs will not bring up songs of faith, responcibility and commitment. It will however bring up every steemy song that has ever been written by an empty, lust struck romantic. Don't get me wrong, sex is a wonderful gift but is sex love? Is our sexualized culture really teaching love? Romance can fill the heart with joy,excitement and anticipation but, is that love?

Young people get married every day in the name of it and then soon we find out they are divorcing. Was that love? What is "love" anyway?

I am brought to this subject because so often I hear people talk about loving someone or showing love to someone and I wonder if they really know what that means. In my own life "love" was first defined in the ways I stated above. I had an idealistic view of what I wanted love to be. I wanted it to meet all my emotional, psychological and sexual needs. Also, I thought love was meant to always feel good and never tell me I am wrong or I need to change. Love should never make me uncomfortable or stretch me. I thought that I should have been able to take whatever I wanted and there should be no bottum to the metaphorical purse. Through my life some people I have met have at some point in the relationship said "I love you". Then the relationship ended. It was at these points I wondered, "If they love me why can't they find a way to communicate? Why won't they find a way to compromise? Why are they valuing their pride more than our relationship?" In the majority of my experiences with broken relationships these questions did not get answered and sometimes I found that it was me who was not communicating, compromising and valuing. This brought me to the place where I began to question what "love" really is and does anyone really know?

If you have read my blog before you will know that I am a Christian. I have not always been faithful to my beliefs as I am now. I share my insights, failures and my journey in order to let you know that I am in the process of development with you. With this said, I discovered the truth about love in the Bible. I had heard scriptures about love on and off growing up so when I began to wonder if anyone knew what love really is I went looking in scripture. Here is what I found.

"And now I [Paul] will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but I have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I posess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8

"...Love your neighbor as yourself." Leviticus 19:18

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Mathew 22:36-40

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." John 13:34

So, we are to love God, others, and self. I began using the Corinthians scripture to measure the love of those around me for me. But I began to feel the conviction that this scripture was to measure where my love for those around me was at. I began to ask myself...Is my love patient? Can I wait with my hands on my lap so-to-speak, like a weaned child? Is it kind? Am I envious? Do I want what I see others have or have I found out what God wants of me? Do I boast? Am I a bragger? Does pride hold me back from showing love to those in my life? Am I able to give a hug to that person who has hurt me? Can I say "I am sorry"? Am I rude or snippy? Am I motivated by what I am going to get and not by what I am going to give? Do I get offended quickly and hold onto it? Do I provoke the people in my life to be better people or am I willing to allow those I love to get caught in vices, habits, bad choices and foolishness? Do I control myself so that I protect those my actions or words could hurt? Do I put people in my life on trial, making them prove everything too me? When I fail do I get back up and keep moving forward or do I lay down and decide to stay miserable and give up? When things get tough at work, at home, with my kids, my friend or in my marriage do I throw up my hands so-to-speak and stop trying or do I perceive these as challenges and opportunities put in my life to help me to grow and become a better person? Have I already given up on someone or something that I know I should not have?

These questions peirced my heart. They still peirce my heart. We are all guilty of not being loving. Love is not just a feeling. I admit that there are different kinds of love such as romantic love, friendship love, and agape love. All these kinds of love do have feelings attached and God meant it that way. He wants us to experience pleasure in every relationship but God also pushes us beyond the feelings to certain actions that will maintain love and fulfill both persons in the relationship. Let me go one step further and say that we can be in "relationship" with those we may come into contact with only once. This may be off-putting to some but is very true. I am not saying that it is the same as any of the relationships I have listed above. Nor am I saying that this "relationship" will share the same characteristics as a romance, a friendship or intimacy with God. It is a relationship born out of the bond of like humanity and shared by the knowledge of God's love for each and every one of His creation and His desire to redeem each and every one of his creation. Through these ideals we are called to "love" each person God brings into our path. How can I show a kindness? I can be patient in line just a little longer so that I do not provoke fear in the clerk. When I don't get what I ordered at the drive through I calmly return it and thank them for exchanging it. When someone in line begins to talk to me I listen and don't turn away or I can offer to pray with them. Each and every person is seeking the evidence that God is in this world. One act of love may be all they need to believe.

What if I have an addict in my family? What if secrecy is the norm? Is it love to allow this person to remain in bondage to drugs, alcohol, shopping,perfectionism, food, gambling, pornography just to keep peace? Let's look to 1 Corinthians definition of love for the answer. It says that "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." In this situation love looks very different than the feel good love of showing a kindness. This love is the tough love that "rejoices with the truth". Often we believe that if our action gives us a "bad" feeling it is the wrong action but in these cases that is incorrect. It is a loving act to speak the truth to someone caught in sin. You may suffer as you watch your loved one suffer. They may lash out at you because of being exposed but what you are doing is right. The Bible says, "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ."(Ephesians 4:15) This act of love requires a commitment. A commitment to loving God and His will for you, to yourself being able to receive God's love for you and to your family member in showing God's love to them by realizing their unblemished value before God and working that out in whichever capacity you are called to so that in everything God will be glorified.

What is love and how do we know when we are or are not giving love? It is the totality of our feelings, actions and our commitments that fulfill the 1 Corinthians definition of love. This is a tool, a mighty and powerful tool given to us for discerning truth and direction. Where does the power to love come from? 1John 4:19 states, "We love because He first loved us." Remember, Love One Another.

*Note: This is the recipe for perfect love. We are not perfect and will be on a journey of development until Jesus returns to bring us home. Depend upon Him to enable you to learn how to love and receive His forgiveness when you fall short.