Will You Lay With Me?

Big pools of brown blink,

Pouting lips,

and clasped hands.

Untangling your fingers you pat the pillow.

“I’ll lay here and you there, okay?”

Hearing the distant chatter, I glance towards the door.

“I can’t darling, I really can’t.  There are guests to entertain.”

So I retreat and you recoil,

bereft and broken.

As my steps fade I hear the peels of your screams,

you’re calling me back, pleading for me to stay a little while longer.

I chose ease, I chose comfort.

Rather than be inconvenienced,

I took leave and left you there in the dark.

Your fists pounded the floor in response.

You questioned.

Honestly my dear, I did too.

They exited and I took reprieve in my sheets.

As I rest my head, turn to the one who willingly offers his presence, I shed sobs.

When you asked, I denied.

Know this, I chose wrong.  I should have chosen you.

 

Other than God and your father, you and my other kin are always the choice I want to and should invest in.

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Choosing Silence

An extroverted people appeaser will, without fail, become discouraged.  The person will often feel unwanted, undervalued, and purposeless.  You see, as an extrovert, people fuel your excitement.  However, attempts to please folks is feeble.  You will wind up making someone angry, frustrated, or annoyed.  Trying to please everyone is wrought with failure.

I know this because I am an extrovert who struggles with people pleasing addiction.  I also struggle with depression.  I think them more intertwined than I care to admit.

When you express feelings of feeling devalued, unwanted, or ignored, you are often told that you are exaggerating, to deal with it, or to just ignore it.  This simply perpetuates the problem.  At the same time, you begin to wonder if you are just exasperating a non-issue.  Shouldn’t I be the quiet, demure woman so praised in Scripture?  Am I really just inflating the problem in my mind?  I do tend to read into things more than I should.

I’ve been told I’m nosy simply for taking interest in people and their life.  I’ve been told I’m controlling, judgmental, and dramatic.  I will confess that at times I struggle with these attributes, but are they my character?  Oh God, I hope not. Can I be known beyond my sin or am I so steeped in it that is all I am really identified as by outsiders?

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.”-Col. 4:6

Lately I am beginning to wonder if I should even speak at all.  Sometimes silence is more pleasant, more accepting, more kind, no?  If we are silent though, will we be found in agreement with what we are against?  Is it important for everyone to know our opinions and views?  How do I make it so my actions are louder than my words; or that there be no need for words at all?

We live in a society addicted to social media.  I guess we are consumed with self, with independence.  Any inkling to community and sharing vulnerability is frowned upon.  I guess this is why I get hurt so often.  I’m an extrovert who strives to please people.  Am I throwing myself a pity party?  I guess in a way I am.  Forgive me.  *The people pleasing prowler is on the hunt again.  I’ll be damned.  God, please release me!*

The fact is, you can’t please everyone.  I’m trying to break this cycle.  I know it will only be broken by the Spirit’s power.  How do I manage though?  How can I surrender this desire and will to God?  This is not a question of ability but more the tangible application of such surrender.  I know I need to do it and I want to; just exactly does someone go about doing this?  What would this look like?

Do I speak? Do I remain silent?  It took years to admit that I’m an extrovert.  I fought so long and hard to resist the desire to want to be around people rather than holed up by myself and entertaining my own interests.  Since accepting I’m an extrovert, I try so hard to be silent because I am constantly “eating my feet”.  Would God want me to be consistently quiet in a group?

I often wonder if he made me this way or if it was years of criticism, belittlement, etc. that made me full of self-doubt, a desire to appease people, and the need to feel “validated” by a group.

It is ever more pressing we find our identity in Christ, not in the flexible opinions of individuals or society.  (I say this more to myself than you, my reader, of course.)

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”-2Cor. 5:17

“For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”-Eph. 2:10 (Is it a good work for me to be silent?  Would I be serving myself or Christ? I want to choose silence because I have been feeling “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” (Prov. 17:28)  Am I really just a fool?  Or am I only wanting to operate in silence to preserve my self-image and reputation?  Is that glorifying to God?)

Dear God, how? I need discernment.  Some days I feel like I’m choking on the very air (the extroverted composition) that gives me life, the breath that fills my lungs and passions.  Lord, I need you, every hour I need you.  My heart knows the truth for you said, “ I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”-John 15:5  Help me to see the fruit of my life devoted to you, be it in silence or audible speech.

Foreigners Find Fellowship: Christian Charity

Cease complaining,

Promote praise,

Usher unity.

Divisions deceased

as aggrandizement’s assuaged,

exaggerations extinguished,

humility honored,

and appeasement appalled.

Christ cherished,

boundaries bereft.

Love labored

releasing redemption,

saving souls,

permitting peace.

Not neglecting neighbors,

sharing stories,

especially encouraging

gospel’s grace.

 

 

 

 

Wise Words: Cease Crassness, Prevent Perverseness

This morning I shared a thought of Thanksgiving, it being the month of November and American Thanksgiving, of course.

My daughter had peed on the floor.  It meant the floor needed to be cleaned.  A friend commented that they still held that it was Frank.  I, in the past, would have laughed and said, “Yeah, he needs to shoot better” or something along those lines, joining in the jest.  This past weekend’s retreat reminded me that sarcasm is scarcasm.  Culture operates differently than Christian worldview.

“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.”-Eph. 4:29

From this verse, we see that we aren’t supposed to joke at a person’s expense.  It isn’t humorous to make fun of someone.  Generalities and poking fun at stereotypes is different than humor directed towards a particular individual.

I had taught my eldest to say “bleh, Army”.  I found this amusing.  My husband, however, found this hurtful.  It is something he is passionate about.  While I might not be fond of the military and how it often separates family (contrary to it touting that it tries to bond family), it is an organization that my husband is a part of.  Even if I don’t agree with the organization, I need to offer respect because I value and treasure my husband.  I don’t offer encouragement to the institution, I do it for my husband, my best friend, my treasure from God.  My words need to reflect this.

In the manner that I need to start being his cheerleader with the military, I need to do this in other areas too.  While friends might say I am being too serious and need to lighten up, I will not, under any circumstances, make jokes or join in jest about my husband.  When I laugh because a friend was trying to be amusing about my husband’s bathroom abilities, what I imply is that my husband is inadequate, unable to perform the basic functions of human decorum.  I never want to imply that!

Perhaps if we stopped poking fun at our spouses we might witness radical change in our marriage.  If we cheered on our partner and encouraged them, we might start to have the attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude we are commanded to have as Christians.

“Everything you do or say should be done to obey [or as a representative of; in the name of] the Lord Jesus. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus.”- Col. 3:17

I want to stop demeaning my husband.  He is a gift from God.  It is time I start treating him this way.  If I start speaking encouragement to him, perhaps this will become my normal operative. I’ll speak blessing even to those who berate me, who antagonize, and perhaps those who persecute me.  This practice has to start somewhere, may it be with the man to whom I covenanted (is that a word, gee I hope so) my heart.

I love and respect you Frank.  My words and actions always need to reflect that.  Though I’ll be called stiff, lacking humor, and perhaps even prude, I will not sacrifice your integrity for a laugh.  You are too valuable for me to do this anymore.

 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Rom. 12:14-21 

Living at peace starts at home, with family.  How I operate in the privacy of closed doors will translate to my actions in the public sphere.  If I desire to see transformation in how I behave in public, I need to start at home.  Sometimes when we get too comfortable, which happens frequently with those we love the most, we take out our depraved emotions and hurt those whom are dearest to us.  Let’s be intentional in how we act, starting with the blessings and gifts God has given to us to show where our real treasure lies (in materialism or investing in authentic relationships).  Hubby, please keep me accountable.  How I act with you and our children will overflow into societal performance.  May I be transformed for God’s glory and be the vessel he has called me to be.

I love you now and always.  I want to do better at expressing it.  I need to do better.  It has to start today!

A Weekend To Remember

This past weekend, Frank and I had the opportunity to get away together.  Our friends treated us to FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember getaway.  They even watched our daughters for three days.  Needless to say, it was a gracious gift.  We are forever thankful for our community.  Our friends cared enough about our marriage to invest in it.  We can’t express our gratitude enough.

Frank and I learned valuable tools in conflict resolution and intimacy.  These tools were not only spiritually pointing to Christ, they were practical.  It is rare that you will encounter advice that is tangible (biological/scientific) and spiritual in Christian circles, at least the ones I’ve encountered.  This, however, was exactly that.  There was much breakthrough in our marriage.  Frank and I have always had a good marriage, but it could be better.  It has been hard and not without lots of work, of course.  Thankfully, we learned valuable tools that we just need to remember to implement in reality.

Yes, there were instances that I disagreed with some of the points.  It was stated that the most important relationship is the marriage relationship.  I understood the intent of this, but I think Christ has to be pursued in spite of family.  This means that I will seek God and try to teach Christian living to my family even when my husband isn’t (i.e. I won’t sit around and expect him to take responsibility for our family’s spiritual health).  I pray for Frank and for him to take initiative, but I won’t sit idly by and make my spirituality or my children’s be dependent on him or his leadership.  Also, I will put God ahead of my husband.  I know this is the organization’s desire, and probably assumed, but when attendees might not know Christ, it is important to emphasize this lest we make family an idol itself.

Part of the retreat involved standing in front of your spouse and renewing your vows (not legally, but in front of others and the speakers).  One of the lines had women say “I will submit to you.”  During that section I said, “I will partner with you.”  I understand biblical submission.  I probably get caught up in current cultural notions of submission and the semantics of language.  However, I don’t always think the man has to have the last say.  If I get the final decision and it turns out poor, it isn’t his fault, it’s mine.  In the same regard, when he is weak spiritually, I can be the strong one.  This holds true in reverse.  I believe much more in partnership rather than hierarchy.

Thinking on this though, sometimes I do need to exercise silence.  Every thought I have doesn’t need to be expressed.  Sometimes my husband might receive the same advice from a man better than he does me.  It is in those moments that I need to hold my tongue and not exert the pride of “I told you so”.

If we extrapolate submission, let us use Abraham and Sarah as our example.  She called him “Lord” and “master”.  When Abraham instructed Sarah to be the pharaoh’s concubine for their safety by pretending to be Abraham’s sister, she “obeyed”.  God did intervene and protected her.  However, how comfortable are we with that in our American sensitivities?  Would we say that isn’t biblical so she could refuse?  How would the story have turned out if she did?  Scripture doesn’t permit an obstinate nature does it? If it did, would God have said it?  I don’t know, but if we are going to demand adherence, then let us be consistent in what we are preaching.  This does not mean we have license to sin.  Instead, it is a call to truly assess our interpretations and worldview.  It is putting Christ at the forefront and bending our wills to him, even if it makes us uncomfortable; be it in liberalism or conservative observation.

Overall though, it was an amazing weekend.  Frank and I divulged information we’d bottled for quite some time (with each other of course).  We also had hours of uninterrupted study of Scripture, prayer, and conversation.  We did minimal screen time, perhaps 30 min-1 hour of TV from Friday night-Sunday afternoon.  We invested.  Christ redeemed and continues to do so.  It is our prayer to see marriages flourish, not for the sake of marriage or family itself, but because marriage is a covenant reflective of Christ’s relationship with the church.  We need to do better as Christians and as a church.  It is time we started to fight for Christ to shine in us as individuals and as a family (however that looks in your circumstance; couples, kids, empty-nesters, etc.).  I have failed more than I care to admit.  I know salvation isn’t works based.  However, my ministry and shining a light for him will be evident through my love through service.

FamilyLife has many marriage resources.  We are implementing the prayer challenge which I know will transform us in supernatural ways for God’s glory.

The organization has parenting advice, which is valuable when culture (like Cosmo magazine) teaches girls as young as 8 that they can be “sexy” and how to do it.  *My skin crawled.*

I do recommend these resources.

I also recommend perusing and internalizing Scripture.  We will be transformed as a result.

May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven God, please use our marriage as one of the many avenues to complete this divine will.

Amen.