Tag Archives: trust

Behind Closed Doors

 

My furry little buddy...

My furry little buddy…

Who would have thought that my cat would give me something meaningful to blog about? Don’t get me wrong. I love my cat. I am a cat person. I just never imagined gleaning valuable insight from a cute little ball of fur.

I got Mazzy back in November 2012. She was one of many Humane Society residents and I just couldn’t pass up her cute little face. She warmed up to me quickly and the same to Dave after I brought her home a couple days later. Sure, she was super curious about her new surroundings when I brought her home, but she didn’t run and hide or act especially fearful from day one. She’s my little buddy. Well, until she decided that using our bedroom for a bathroom was ok…

mazzy 2Hence, she was banned from entering our bedroom. That was easy; just shut the door. She had free reign over the other 2200 square feet of our barren residence and she was much okay with that. Then, we prepare to move. I don’t need to go into that much – it’s a pain. Short and simple. During the heart of the move we put her in the laundry room  to give her a space of her own and no worries to us that she may dash under someone’s feet or get out of the house. At one point I went into the laundry room to say hi and I couldn’t find her. I started to panic, but low and behold, there she was snoozing away inside the washer where I had put a few dirty clothes. She was so cute. My little buddy.

But that’s not where she taught me something. No. That happened in Georgia. Before the first night we decided she would be restricted to our bedroom. Why you ask? Well, keep in mind we are staying with his folks until our house sells and his mom has a fancy for nick-nacks including a beautiful decorated Christmas tree with all the gold, shiny embellishments cat’s enjoy. Yes. The bedroom would do quiet nicely. With a large adjacent bathroom, walk in closet and myriad of windows, she had plenty of space to explore. (Not to mention the accident on night #1 – we would not tolerate a repeat of said accident throughout the abundantly furnished home of people we love who have never had an indoor pet.) Plus, she has tons of toys. Never had a cat that enjoyed her toys as much as Mazzy does – especially the little ones that look like mice and are filled with catnip…she loves those!

At times I would let Mazzy out – always careful to keep an eye on her and her whereabouts. She enjoys sniffing the tree, chewing on fake plants and perching in the windows. Nothing bad or potentially dangerous for neither cat…nor human. A shake of her treat bag or her dinner food would quickly get her running back to the confines of her room. Yes. At times she meowed like a 5 year old, begging to be let free of her large prison. I could see her shadow on the other side of the door just waiting to dart to freedom once we opened the door. Sometimes she would make off like a sprint racer and slip out the door before we had a chance to close it. We’d let her enjoy her successful escape then, shake, shake: “Want a treat?” Don’t get me wrong. I let her out frequently even if just for a few minutes. I would also take her to my office at times while I worked; although much smaller, it gave her a different space to claim. I didn’t want to be her warden by any means.

Dave’s Mom told me repeatedly to just let her roam. I was terrified. I love these people. I don’t want their love for me stiffled because something got ruined by cat urine or destroyed by the wrath of Mazzy’s jaws. But she hadn’t repeated said accident from night #1 and she was being good when I let her out, so I obliged. I left the door open and let her have free reign over the majority of the house.

And this is where Maz taught me a lesson on life. Keep in mind, she’s only had free reign a handful of times. I just went back into the house a little bit ago and where do you think Mazzy was? Under the dining room table? Perched eloquently on the window sill? Dinign on fake plants? High atop the Christmas tree? No. None of the above. Good ole’ Maz was laying on our bed. She looked up at me as if the say “Oh. Hi.” Then put her head back down and enjoyed her slumber. Door wide open and she chose to relax in what I thought she felt was her prison.

So. Where’s the lesson, you ask? Simple. We often wonder what it’s like on the other side. When we are given restrictions, we want what we can’t have.  We may think we’ve been given a small window to escape so we explore and explore and push the limits of our boundaries, but when it comes down to it and we remove what others deem as restrictions, we realize just how comfortable ‘home’ is. The mystery of what lies beyond loses its flare. If we continually tell our kids ‘no’ – they will inevitably want to do it. And when they do it – they will do it with a vengance. Whatever it is. So, we can drive ourselves nuts trying to keep the door closed and wear ourselves out diverting their attempts to escape, but we have to trust at some point. Let them explore, knowing that we’ve made home is a place where they can always find comfort. And if they get stuck in a Christmas tree, well…we politely help them out, give a little lecture and hope they learn from it. It’s hard to learn anything behind closed doors. Shake, shake “Want a treat?”

This Isn’t My First Rodeo

Maybe not the best time for me to write…feeling down. Like I’m coasting through life. What the hell is the point? Read another chapter in Max Lucado’s “Facing Your Giants” tonight, about strongholds. Not a super fan of his interpretation as I’ve read this before somewhere else and I liked it much better, but it reminded me of something. 

Stronghold: those things in life that have a hold on us so strong that it strangles the life out of us. Be it addiction, self image, self confidence, control, trust, worry, jealousy, anger – we all have some kind of stronghold that stops us dead in our tracks. It prevents us from making true progress, from enjoying simple things in our lives. We’ve all had it happen. We get so down with our situation and it seems that just as the clouds part and we start to see the sun again -*BAM*- our stronghold grabs us…taunts us…and reminds us. Words echo in our heads as if to tell us we aren’t good enough. That the strongholds are far too strong and we are far too weak. It’s not long before we are right back where we remember being. The devil loves for us to feel there is no way out. I hate that f’n devil…

So, call it a stronghold, a crossroad, an obstacle…whatever face you want to paint on it, the darkness looms. Reminding us of all our past hurts while illuminating the present ones. Yet what did this chapter remind me of? It’s an internal battle; not one that can be fought with guns, fists and bouts of ‘poor me’, but with the Word, faith, friends and determination. I’ve pretty much excluded myself from my friends…and I really don’t want to go anywhere this holiday. But I will. And I’m gonna read even if I don’t want to. And I’m gonna have faith even if I can’t see it like I want to. I’m not gonna fake it until I make it. I’m gonna tell the devil I know he is here, and to get behind me. I may fall, I may cry, but God will be there to catch me and wipe my tears. This isn’t my first rodeo.

(By the way, I didn’t write this today. Feeling much, much better now but thought it wise to share with you when I’m down, too. I tend to think I have to always remain positive for everyone else and that’s just not humanly possible sometimes. I struggle just like everyone else.

FYI: I did go see my family Monday and I enjoyed it. And I spent some quality time with my boyfriend who made me feel so special by letting me sleep in and doing a bunch of ‘honey-dos’ around the house. I am blessed in many ways. The devil loves to deflat our motivation and crush our dreams. Don’t let him.)

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” ~ Hebrews 11:1

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

“In that day you will say: “Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.” ~ Isaiah 12:4

Forgive and Forget

Went to a friends’ house this morning. I haven’t been sleeping…upset. He tells me about this car he had, a very nice one, but he always bought cheap, used tires for it. One day he decided to spend the extra money and buy brand new tires. He proudly went and had them put on, walking tall and proud as he left the counter, confident that he would not have to live with the fear of a flat or slow leaking tire or some other catastrophe like he had in the past. However, a few days later, as he was leaving for work one morning, he discovered the front right tire – yep – flat as a pancake. The mechanic said it was no problem. It was just a nail and he could fix it, but for my friend, it was never the same. Every time he would approach the car, he would inspect each tire in anticipation, expecting the worse.

The moral of this story? Some of us are like that…we invest into something expecting a specific outcome. We think if we spend enough money, pray the right prayer or believe enough, we will bypass problems. Yet when our expectations are not met, it breaks our trust. Sadly, some of us begin to anticipate problems while we are still at the counter paying for it and some of us don’t think twice until it actually happens, then we can’t let it go. Either way, we can’t let go of the fear. We forgive, but we don’t forget. And in not forgetting, we are never free.

What we often forget is, they have to go together. It’s not ‘forgive or forget’. If we don’t forget, we haven’t really forgiven. And if we just forget, the distrust remains intact, hidden under whatever vice we’ve come to use to escape the risks: drugs, alcohol, gambling, cleaning, hoarding, sex…isolation. Whether it’s your parents who were poor examples at showing you love or how to be loved or an ex who tore your heart out and made you feel unworthy of love…or maybe it’s yourself who seems to always sabotage what could be good because of something you just can’t let go of. Where there is risk, there is potential for growth. Even a brand new set of tires may have its’ setbacks, but at some point we have to just fix the tire and continue on.  

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matt 18:21-22

To…Someone

Someone needs to hear this. Someone needs to see that they aren’t much different than me. Someone can relate to my desperation and needs to see the true meaning of faith…so…here goes.

As you may know from reading previous blogs, I was devastated to find out my special friend wasn’t who I thought he was. I thought we were both following God, trying to get our lives straight so that we could potentially enjoy a healthy life together in the future, if God allowed. Yet, I found out he was seeing someone two months before we even met, and it brought me to my knees. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t work. I wanted answers, I wanted to understand what was going on: surely it couldn’t be as bad as it appeared…but it was. The reality smacked me like a brick to the forehead. How could someone outright lie like that? How could someone toy with love and emotions? On eHarmony he listed that the quality he was looking for most in someone was ‘honesty’. He told me secrets of his past, his introduction to God…he said he loved me, that he never thought he would love again after what his ex-wife did to him. It was lies, all lies. My world, or at least that part of it, crumbled around me. 

Sitting at home for days, I read my bible and listened to praise music. I spoke to my friend and accountability partner from church – matter of fact she and another Christian friend were the only one I spoke to those 5 days besides my special friend and God. The bible says he will give us a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13) but where is it?? Why is it so elusive?? There is no worse place than being stuck in despair, but I knew God was with me. He had to be. That’s what His Word says over and over again.

Here’s where we have to remember the definition of ‘faith’: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.Hebrews 11:1. I sure couldn’t see the way out, and I sure couldn’t feel the love surging through me like I wanted, but I knew He was there because of my faith. There was not going to be a glowing neon sign above the path I needed to take – I had to trust Him. At times I did feel a glimmer of calm, and that helped, but I needed more. So I prayed for it over and over again. I put my trust in God and tried with all my might to let go, but it would creep back in and take my heart and soul over like a hostage attack.

Even in this time I stumbled. I probably texted him when I shouldn’t have. I probably rationalized where I shouldn’t have, but I always prayed, always asked God to help me, give me clarity, light my path. My mind just seemed to keep going and going. I couldn’t shut it up, no matter how hard I tried it crept back in like a cunning thief. No sooner did I feel a bit of relief, I succumbed to the pain, the memories, the reality that maybe he was just a liar and a cheat and I was a fool. What did I do to deserve this? I couldn’t bare it. At one point, I had the notion to just polish off a bottle of sleeping pills. I wanted to escape so bad – anything to numb the pain. (I have a bottle of prescribed sleeping pills that are at least 5 years old. I only use them when my restless leg syndrome prevents me from sleeping which is very rare – I hate pills.) Thankfully, I made it over that hill. I vividly recall kneeling at my bed, crying, wailing, hurting, praying. I imagined God at my side, holding my head while I hurt. His eyes…

Later, that desperation returned in full force – this time it was even more powerful. I wanted to escape again. I’m not stupid enough to commit suicide or try to hurt myself, but what’s the harm in taking one pill so I could sleep it off? But…I knew it would be there when I returned. I’m sure I looked like an idiot, sobbing uncontrollably and aimlessly pacing the house. I justified to God that I needed this little pill in my hand. “I can’t handle it anymore, Lord!” Almost immediately, I recognized that I did have a choice. Oh, I wanted to take that easy way so bad but I just knew it was the wrong way. Going that way would only lead me around that mountain again and I was tired of traveling that same lonely path of pain and sorrow. In reality, I was debating on taking the easy way out – a temporary escape. Boy did I need God, more than ever. I WANTED A TRUE RELEASE NOT TEMPORARY!! I raised that pill to heaven and said “God, I DON’T NEED THIS! I NEED YOU!” I slammed it on the kitchen table, clutched my bible and collapsed onto the couch. It’s a good thing I write my favorite passages on note cards for easy access – I pulled those cards out and just started reciting them out loud. My mind was so scattered I couldn’t focus on the words; I’d have to read and re-read them through sobbing tears. I spoke them out loud and offered them as a prayer to God because I didn’t know what to pray or what to do; I just knew what I couldn’t do. I wanted God to know how serious I was about wanting to heal, about wanting to get off this old beaten path. I wanted to demonstrate my faith, exercise my trust in Him. And that made all the difference in the world.

Did I snap out of it? No. Not immediately, but I did return to a peaceful place. Peace doesn’t mean the removal of doubt or pain, it means the acceptance of it of whatever it is we are going through. In church that Sunday I confidently felt the words “do nothing”. I couldn’t believe it, but try as I might, I listened. That’s when I realized the truth would only come from his girlfriend. Was it right for me to contact her? Some would argue, but I really don’t care…I gave that to God. I needed the truth, not all of it, but enough to move on. At that point I only suspected he was dating us at the same time. Was it hard to let him go? Your damn right.  I can’t just stop loving someone. My heart doesn’t have a shut off valve. We all have faults and I was willing to accept his, but he was bad for me. I can’t accept lies and unfaithfullness. He said he was following God – I had to let go. I had to give him and my situation to God. Even after that day I had to give him to God repeatedly, but today, I am much better off because of it. I see more than just the truth about him, I see the truth in God, in myself. He is there. Faith is real. His love is unconditional and overwhelming and I can do it with Him at my side. PRAISE GOD! I walk with Him in confidence because I know He will shed just enough light for the step I’m on.

Whatever you’re going through, whatever trials you’re facing right now – whatever you do – don’t give up. Don’t take the easy route. It will be hard but don’t succumb to your desire to escape whether that’s through pills or enduring more hurt. You are worth more than that! Face it head on. Have faith. I warn you, the devil won’t like your resistance and he will try harder than ever to pull you back into your bad habits and bad choices, but you must resist. It will be the battle of your life, for your life, but there’s a victory that can be yours if you choose to invite God to be at your side. When you aren’t strong enough, God is. Trust Him. Have faith. It may not feel like strength, it may not be anything you ever expected, but I promise you, you are not alone and this is not the end. The end is not the end. Once you move towards God, you become a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17). The death of who you use to be will not be without pain – you didn’t become this way overnight: these trials and tribulations didn’t just happen. It’s a process. So, give it to God, repeatedly if you have to, keep praying, keep reading, keep worshipping and praising Him through the storm, keep your faith and let the healing and the transformation begin! Surround yourself with a church family. Take the opportunity to let the end of what you’re feeling be the beginning of something great. You are worth it and so am I.

‎”The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so you can endure.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” ~ Proverbs 1:7

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”. ~ Proverbs 9:10

“An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end.” ~ Proverbs 20:21

“The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” ~ Ecclesiastes 7:8

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Breaking the Cycle

I’ve been contemplating what this walk means to me – what’s in the end result? Why all the pain, the confusion, the hurt? Why do I feel like such a failure sometimes? Will I ever be able to resist the patterns that I’ve become so comfortable with over the 40 years of my life? Can I do it?? Well, I’m reading Stormie Omartian’s “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On”, and her words hit me: walking with God means trusting Him completely. God wants us to depend on Him fully. (Joshua 1:9, Jeremiah 17:7, Matthew 19:26) He wants a close relationship with us. He wants our undivided attention and our undivided trust. (Psalm 27:5) Hence, He tests our faith and our ability to resist sin. He sends us around the mountain of our faults in hopes that we will see clearly how He fits into our lives.

The dark times we sometimes go through can be compared to the wilderness that the Israelites experienced when they were led out of Egypt. The Israelites wanted God’s blesses but they circled the same mountain for 40 years, defying God and complaining. (Exodus 3:7-10, 15:22-26) He takes us through the same kind of wilderness in order that we can learn and grow…and trust Him in all we do. It’s up to us how long that part of our journey takes. More often than not, we get defiant like the Israelites. We demand to know where we are going, what He has in store for us, where the pain leads, why we aren’t getting there fast enough. Yet, if He tells us we might allow our doubts to hinder our progress. We might rush or impede what God has in store for us. In the darkness what He wants more than anything is for us to fully trust Him. He doesn’t put us through the wilderness to hurt us – He never wants to harm us. Some darkness we invite, but some darkness He provides so that His light can shine beyond doubt – but we need to put away our arrogant pride and recognize it. He wants to separate us from those comfortable habits we’ve formed that ultimately harm us and keep us away from Him, that keep us returning to that familiar darkness. He wants us to turn to Him and depend on Him. Lean on Him. He wants to be our Security blanket – he wants us to trust Him…by instinct.

It is important for us to see God’s hand in our lives. We must search Him fervently, seek Him vigorously and trust Him fully. Yeah, I know. That’s not easy…but, just like riding a bike, we have to keep going if we want to stop circling the mountain. All things happen for a reason – and it’s on God’s time when and whether He reveals them to us. I am not a failure when I follow His will. When we stop circling around the mountain, it seems normal to be a little seasick like when we step off a merry-go-round.  But I don’t want to keep going around this mountain…instead,  I am determined to climb it. I’m breaking the cycle. And I know, with God as my focus, with my full trust in Him, I will succeed.

The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey … And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” ~ Exodus 3:7-10

“Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”

Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.” ~ Exodus 15:22-26

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go, I will counsel you and watch over you. ~ Psalm 32:8

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” ~ Hebrews 13:5-6

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.” ~ Jeremiah 17:7

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” ~ John 14:27

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ~ Matthew 19:26

“For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in his dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” ~ Psalm 27:5

Submission: The Wrong Way

Went to the country fair with my daughter last night, we had a blast! Walking everywhere, talking, laughing, snapping pictures and eatting hotdogs, cotton candy and caramel apples. However, as we perused the rides area, I was launched back in time…to a darker time when I attended the fair…ten years ago. (It amazes me how smells, sights, or sounds can propel us back in time.)

I was married to my second husband. He was a large man: 6’4”, 240 pounds.  What an idiot I was. Yet again, I was guilty of thinking I was in love; shamefully I was proud to have him on my arm more than anything. I was so thankful to have someone so strong and handsome there to protect me. I see now he merely befitted the dream I yearned to live. Crashing back down to reality, I would soon find that he was a very controlling and jealous man. In my mind’s eye, I thought jealousy equated to love and…jealousy almost made me feel…special…in a way. But jealousy is a very hard emotion to live with. (Oh, and jealousy will be a topic soon. I need further insight from my superiors first but it ought to be good so be on the lookout.) That momentous day at the fair, I wasn’t allowed to look at anyone or anything. Seemed any time I lifted my head I was being accused of wanting another man or checking out a girl…yes, a girl. Therefore, to sooth the savage beast, I spent the entire time starring at my feet. I remembered feeling so helpless, so afraid, but feeling that I was being a ‘good girl’…doing what I was supposed to do to keep him happy. In my mind there was such a fierce struggle. I submitted to him because I thought that’s what a good woman was supposed to do. But, why was he treating me this way? Wasn’t I being good? Wasn’t I being a ‘good wife’? In reflection, I see I was submitting as a wife should, but in the wrong way, for the wrong reasons. Enter the topic: submission.

Per the dictionary, ‘submit’ means to “yield to the control of another.” We don’t see this much in today’s culture. Everyone is expected to be strong, be independent, stand on your own two feet, however, the bible stresses that we should submit to the Lord (Job 22:21, James 4:7-10). Looking back I see I had it all wrong. Submitting is not bad, but I need to submit to God first. I say first because the bible also tells us we are to submit to one another and to our husbands/wives (Ephesians 5:21-28). Now, here comes the critical element of submission: submission does not mean becoming one’s slave nor does it include or excuse any form of abuse. Submit means respect, trust, honor. We submit to God because we know His will is never to harm us or hurt us (Jeremiah 29:11). We need to submit to God because we cannot solve our own problems. We can’t always rely on our own two feet, we need God. We humble ourselves before Him, heeding the advice in His Word. (Job 8:6-7) The bible is a clear manual for how we each can live a good, productive and full life. When we submit to God we allow His will to take precedence, not our own. We take a back seat in honor of Him. We respect His authority even when we don’t want to do something. We trust in Him. We succumb to His purpose for us, even if we don’t know or understand what that purpose is – that’s trust. That’s submitting to God.

Several of my past relationships would read this and say, “Do what!? You weren’t submissive at all!” Well, first of all, consider the source – they only saw what they wanted to see. Seems everyone loves to point fingers and find someone or something to blame but…I’ve got broad shoulders so blame me all you want. You can stay in the valley, because I know God knows the truth. I’m not perfect and never have I claimed to be. But…I’m starting to understand now. At some point every pot boils over if it is left to its own accord…and I am no exception. You can push me down, but just like the blood that flows through my ancestry, I will get back up one day. I dealt with my dad for many years and being a hard worker was not the only trait I inherited from him. Sometimes we have to stand up for ourselves. We must claim where that line in the sand gets drawn. Wrong is wrong. I’m starting to see that I’ve actually helped others push me down, or keep me down in my own pit of ignorance, fear and misery. Thanks to God I am learning to use the confidence and determination inside of me in my relationships ,too. (I tease my son that he needs to use his ‘powers’ for good – guess I should’ve been telling myself that, too!) The hardest thing in the world to accomplish is letting someone step all over you for so long, then trying to demand anything…let alone respect. I know I am to submit to God and to my husband, but there is a right way and a wrong way. I’m seeing that now. I’m not perfect, but hind sight sure is.

So, why was I submissive to my ex-husband…for that matter, why was I submissive to any man in my past? Well, I grew up seeing my mother submit to my father, which is what a wife is suppose to do (Ephesians 5:21-28, Colossians 3:18-19) but I was doing it in the wrong order and for the wrong reasons. Looking back, I can see that I was adamantly searching for someone to love me, to protect me, to validate me. I was yielding to my desires and unyielding to God’s will. There was such a frightening emptiness inside me I so longed to fill. Sadly, I was looking everywhere but up. He kept tugging at me but I was the one who kept pulling away…sometimes running away, only to put myself in yet another position of hurt and pain. It wasn’t any man’s fault, it was my own fault. My actions and reactions produced the consequences. However…after upteen years, I’m finally getting the lesson. God wants us to learn from our trials. ‘From’ as in away – He doesn’t want to see us repeat them. And I don’t have to repeat this mistake any more. And maybe that’s why I feel so much stronger now. Not because I’m standing on my own two feet, but because I know God’s behind me, ready to catch me if I fall. I’m not afraid to stand alone because I know God is here with me. I finally found that one person who loves me, protects me, has nothing but unconditional acceptance in His heart for me. And if I follow His plan for me, the next man I allow in my life will be special. It will be different because of what I am learning now. He has filled that emptiness inside of me and He is filling me with the ability to love myself so that I can truly love another. I needed someone to guide me, to help me through the valleys of this life and His Word is my guide. His Word lights my path and it lives in my heart and gives me balance when I stand on narrow ground. (Psalm 119:105) God is my rock. (Deuteronomy 32:4) I have found my foundation! I have found where I am to build my table! (Oh my gosh, you’ve got to read my rendition of The Components of a Relationship – I just had a wonderful epiphany! Praise God!)

When we do anything out of order or for the wrong reasons, there will be fallout. We should expect the consequences. Until we get the lesson He will keep administering the test. Remember: He will test us but never tempt us. If we love someone else before loving ourselves, if we trust others before trusting God, if we misalign our priorities…there will be a lesson to be learned. God wants us to grow from the experience. He wants us to walk away with the lesson. There is a delicate order, a delicate balance to life. We can’t help anyone if we don’t first help ourselves. We can’t understand others if we don’t first attempt to understand ourselves. And we aren’t alone. We have God, we have our church. Some things we can learn together, but some things must be learned before we can truly commit to a healthy relationship with someone else.

I know through this walk I am building my knowledge, building my wisdom…the next time I love, it will be right. I will deserve him as much as he deserves me. Because I put Jesus first, because He is the first love of my life, because I follow Him instead of expecting Him to follow me…everything else will fall into place. He will still be there to pick me up, dust me off and set me back on course. I just have to follow Him, keep my focus on Him. Only I can dim His light in my life. Lesson by lesson my house is forming, understanding is establishing it, and through God’s grace He is giving me knowledge to fill the rooms. (Proverbs 24:3-4) Be still my heart.

Thank you God, thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for teaching me and leading me and for filling me with Your love, mercy and grace. Let Your light shine upon me, let Your light shine in me, let Your light shine through me so that others may behold the beauty in Your works. If I am filled with just a mere spark of Your Holy fire, I am content. In Your precious Holy name, I pray. Amen.

“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.” ~ Job 22:21

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands’ as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” ~ Ephesians 5:21-28

“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” ~ Colossians 3:18-19

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:1-2

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:7-10

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Proverbs 24:3-4

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105

“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” Deuteronomy 32:4

“If you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your rightful place. Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.” Job 8:6-7

“Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” Psalm 34:3-7

Table: The Components of a Relationship

Four Legs of a Relationship

You may have heard the analogy that relationships are either built on sand or stone. Sand, obviously, is unstable and anything built on it is subject to fail, while stone is solid and can stand the test of elements and time. Well, I have my own analogy about relationships. In my own words, I relate a relationship to a table. Think of the table as the base of a relationship – and each leg, the foundation. Each leg represents a vital component that must be present for the relationship to be successful. The legs are made up of Respect, Communication, Honesty and Trust. Without any one of these legs, the table will become unstable. And, as everyone knows, anything built on an unstable foundation will ultimately fall. Yes, you can have a relationship with three legs, but it will be wobbly and…unhealthy. Likewise, if one leg is shorter than the others, the foundation is not sound and problems are prominent. There may be more legs holding up your table or maybe a different mix of elements, but I think these four elements represent the most crucial. When any one of these qualities is lacking or inadequate, they must be addressed immediately in order to save the relationship.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are warranted situations where a relationship is better off ending, however, often times it can, and should be salvaged. The element of honesty can mean we have to deal with emotions that are uncomfortable or even painful. Or maybe difficulties result from baggage we carry with us that we didn’t even realize existed. Counseling can be very effective. No! It doesn’t mean you are accepting defeat or admitting fault, it just means you are willing to do what it takes to repair the leg that is damaged in your relationship and it shows that you are willing to go the extra mile to save a love you cherish. Too often we forget our vows to be there for our spouse through thick and thin. No one is perfect. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our daily lives that we need a trained outsider to help us move forward. Sometimes that trained outsider can help us put the pain into perspective so we can find a solution. Take an inventory of your relationship to ensure it remains on a solid foundation.

  “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
“Do for others what you would like them to do for you. This is a summary of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12
“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
“So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.” Galatians 6:9
“Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9-10
“Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone?” Ecclesiastes 4:9-11
“”I also tell you this- if two of you agree down here on earth concerning anything you ask for, my Father in heaven will do it for you.” Matthew 18:19
“Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” Amos 3:3
“The Lord hates those who don’t keep their word, but he delights in those who do.” Proverbs 12:22
“Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.” Proverbs 12:25
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. ” Matthew 6:34
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians  4:32
 “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians  4:29
 “Beginning a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” Proverbs 17:14
 “Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride. Don’t be quick-tempered, for anger is the friend of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:8-9
 A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.” Proverbs 25:28
 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
 “Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.” Hebrews 13:4
 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife.” Ephesians 5:28
 “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord is the one who goes before you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

 Respect

Respect includes a lot of things but primarily it means accepting your significant other for who they are and who they are trying to be. It means supporting them in times of trouble and, even when you disagree, still standing beside them. Respect means appreciating a person, admiring them and considering their feelings.

 Communication

This is an obvious one but it goes beyond just talking. It means communicating both verbal and non verbally. Some people, like myself, need to think things through before they are ready to talk about them. Expressing yourself is important in many aspects of life, but especially in a relationship. Communication could be a simple note attached to the sun visor that says “I love you”, or communication could be the act of simply listening while the other people vents.

 Honesty

This is a no brainer but I find this trait to be the most complex for some people to comprehend. Everyone makes mistakes but lying about them only weaves a sticky web. I think my sheltered upbringing made me oblivious to how rude and heartless some people can be. There is no benefit in lying, only temporary satisfaction. The truth does come out…eventually.

 Trust

Trust can sometimes take work…it can be earned or given but never taken. Trust creates a secure environment where you feel…safe. Whatever degrees, trust is an imperative element in a relationship. The nurturing and cultivating of trust never ends. Regardless if you are on the receiving or giving end of trust – don’t take trust for granted.