Category Archives: Heavy Monday
Have you ever been certain that God would not wish pain and agony on you because you follow the rules? After all, you’re a Christian. You believe. You read the word. You work hard. You’ve tried to do everything the “right way”. And yet, just when you think you have it under control, something awful happens: Divorce, loss of a loved one, health issues, financial issues, or some other catastrophe.
Have you ever shouted at God? I know I have. I’ve shaken my fist at the heavens and yelled, “This cannot be your plan for me! How could you do this to me! I’ve tried to do right! I’ve tried to do what you want me to! What is going on with you!?”
Apparently, I’m not alone. I went over to a friend’s house not long ago who was facing a trying time. I walked in, and she said, “I’m glad you’re here. I need someone to talk to. God’s not answering me, and believe me, He just got a piece of my mind.”
It’s easy to be frustrated, and hard to know God’s will for us. Especially when our world, as we see it, is falling apart.
Living God’s plan is more than just reading the Bible, going to Church, praying, and conducting yourself in a manner according to His law. It’s living His plan for us. How do you know what that is? Sometimes you don’t.
There is a passage that gave me no comfort whatsoever when facing a particular tragedy in my life because I was blinded with pain. However, after it was all over, it helped me understand the why behind it all.
Jeremiah 10:23 LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.
Wow. Think about this verse. My life is not my own. It is not for ME to direct my own steps. God directs me in the way He wants me to go for His good and the good of His people. God’s plan is a grand design, and I am but a tiny part of it.
I see now that everything I went through brought me to a better place and made me (I like to think) a better servant of God.
I’m not saying that God inflicted my pain. I am saying that the hand of God is working even in the most difficult of circumstances for our good.
If you’re hurting, and wondering why God would do such a horrible thing to you, just remember that God is there to help you endure and will help you blossom again. On days when you’re hurting and confused, it’s ok to shout at God. He’s strong enough to take it.
“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they’re yours. ” – Richard Bach
Reading this I’m sure you’ll agree that we’re all human, unless there’s some alien life form I’m unaware of enjoying my blog. If so, give me a shout out! For the rest of us non-alien life forms, part of being human is being broken. Some of us deal with physical issues from birth. Others acquire them over time. As we age, physical issues arise more often because our bodies will wear out, and none of us are getting out of here alive.
I’m not alone in my struggle with limitations, but it feels that way sometimes. I’m writing this to all of you who have issues that you struggle with.
How to deal with limitations:
Name it and Claim it: Naming the set of problems that I faced became a full-time job. Not because I wanted it to, but because of the severity of the issues. I had to find out what was killing me. After an exhaustive search I finally had a name: Lupus.
Getting a name is both a relief and a burden. You finally know what it is, but knowing how severe it can get is frightening. Once you have a name, it’s up to you who you share it with.
I, for one, felt better just being open about it. I’ve always lived my life in the open and this was no exception. I claimed it. Remember when you hide your problems from others, you rob them of the chance to help. I had overwhelming support. Some support came from unlikely sources. There’s a few people that can be critical and insensitive. Just remember that it’s their issue not yours.
Define a plan of action: I had to wrap my head around what had, and what was going to happen to me because of this disease. I had to carry out some new procedures in my life to protect my health. I read about this disease and asked my healthcare team what I could do about it. Then I had a plan.
Get Perspective: Even changes for the better in the form of a plan can sometimes seem like a burden. Most burdens usually exist in the mind. Another way of looking at modifications to your life as a result of a disease/disability is: Doing what every responsible adult should be doing anyway plus a few extra things. There, the burden is gone and only the habit remains.
Seek Balance: On the one side, you have doctors and others telling you what you cannot do. On the other side, you have dreams, wants, and desires. The first priority, of course, is staying alive. But, just existing is no life at all. So how do you strike a balance between the do’s and don’ts of your particular limitation? Seek balance one day at a time.
The process for me was doing everything the doctors told me so I could get out of “crisis” mode and have a modicum of health. The second step was to strike a balance between feeding my soul and protecting my body. Focus on the small victories and celebrate them. Realize how far you’ve come, not how far you have to go.
Find focus: Focusing on the limitations is defining yourself by the things you cannot do. I felt alone, unusual, crippled, and less-than. With God, no one is less-than. Try focusing on what you can do. Once you do, your goals will expand and your limitations will diminish. You are not your disease/disability.
Living La Vida Loca: I had to realize that just because terrible things can happen doesn’t mean it will happen. My Grandma used to say, “So what if it’s dangerous? You can break your neck falling out of bed in the morning.” I had to put the concerns about my new condition into perspective. That being said, sometimes, you just have to live life and deal with the consequences later, right? Just be aware of the consequences.
Be grateful for what you have and move on: Strange how we’re not saying, “Gee, my lungs work great today! Thank you God!” I never felt grateful for my health until they stopped working. When you’re in a wheelchair, bound to a bed, or otherwise incapacitated, and you recover your health – you are grateful for every breath and every moment.
Ask ‘What’s next?’ Will you strive to live strictly by your limitations, or strive to live a life worth having?
I’ll leave you with words that helped me:
Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” – Bernice Jonson Reagon
Twice in the new testament Jesus says the same thing:
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”Matthew 19:26
- Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10: 27
These are ways I’ve learned to cope. I still have days that I feel defeated. These are the things that give me strength to start again.
I know the Bible says, “Let no man put asunder what God hath joined together.” But what happens when someone does put it asunder?
Like it or not, our country has a 50% divorce rate. That’s nothing new. In the 30’s it was even higher than that. Truth is, divorce has been around longer than Christ. Mosaic law allows for divorce under certain conditions. Those conditions make up the question that the ‘teachers’ tried to trick Jesus with. In Mark 10 they asked Jesus if a divorce can be granted for any reason. Jesus replied, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this commandment.” Jesus goes on to explain that any man who puts his wife away causes her to sin as well as himself.
He’s also pretty clear about adultery. Jesus says if a man looks at a woman with lust that he’s already committed adultery and he should pluck his eye out. It’s argued that Jesus was using this as an illustration, not a commandment for self-mutilation, but I think he was saying the same thing about divorce. Sometimes relationships are a form of self-mutilation.
Here’s my problem with the sermons I’ve heard on divorce and the woefully inadequate counseling I received regarding divorce: Jesus is a teacher of peace, soft hearts, and above all love. The love of God first, and the love of others second.
In fact, in the chapter of Mark Jesus is tested again when asked which commandment is greatest. In Mark 12:28-31 Jesus responds:” Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” There are over 500 references in the Bible to love.
The Bible is a guide-book for life. People are imperfect. People fail. People turn away from God and love. Sometimes they turn to a darkness that you don’t want any part of. Adultery, drug addiction, illegal activities, abuse, child-abuse, neglect, and darker things. These things happen to ordinary people and that includes the children of God. And yet, the word of God doesn’t fail us (read on).
So when these things happen, what do you do? Stay? Endure the abuse? What will cause you to sin more? Staying with your spouse or leaving to find peace? I’ve never heard anyone say, “Gee I wish I’d stayed in that abusive relationship longer.”
When I faced my decision about divorce, I sought advice from what I considered to be religious leaders. The overwhelming answer I got was this: “It is a sin to divorce and you need to work it out.”
That’s the ideal answer, but we don’t live in an ideal world with ideal people. And even if we did, one person cannot make a marriage work when the other is determined to destroy it.
When I made my decision, I relied on the words of my Granny. After I told her some of the things that had happened within my marriage, she stood up, put her hands on her hips and said, “Jesus never told anybody to be a door-mat. He said to turn the other cheek, not lay down and let someone walk all over you . Even Jesus got outraged.”
My Grandmother, or Granny as I called her, was well-respected in our community and in our Church. She never missed a service. She was giving, loving, and she raised 12 children with a husband she described in private and out of earshot as ‘Lucifer’s Bastard’. She said to me, “I’m sure your Pa loved you. He will always be your Pa. But, when that man died, I felt nothing but relief. ”
After my divorce was over, and some of the Church members were less than welcoming to me, I relied on her words again. “Baby, don’t you ever hold your head down. You made it out of that mess alive. That’s something to be proud of. If anybody tells you different, you send them to me.”
The Bible is my guide-book, but my Granny is my counselor.Even after her death, her words live on in my heart. The abuse she suffered, I could never endure. My Grandmother knew that, even if I, or my pastor, didn’t. From her I learned that love without trust is like life without breath, and there are better options than waiting for a tormentor to die.
I like to think things have changed. Then I speak to people in abusive situations, and I find out that it hasn’t. Not long ago, another death happened at the hands of an abuser. When counseling someone in an abusive relationship, tell them to let common sense rule and consult the Bible, not the pastors. People die in these situations. Let’s love them enough to give them the support they seek to get out and save themselves. Life is too precious to live in misery and much too dangerous. The verse my Granny used to turn my head the right-way was this one:
BETTER A DRY CRUST WITH PEACE AND QUIET THAN A HOUSE FULL OF FEASTING WITH STRIFE – Proverbs 17:1
Most importantly, we’re told what to do in the Bible when we find a person has turned from God and the Word, and we shouldn’t advise people (women or men) to do otherwise because of “family values” that just aren’t there anymore:
Titus 3:10-11 ” Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition. 11 knowing that such a man is corrupt and sinful; he is self-condemned.”
1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived. Bad company corrupts good character.”
And many, many more:
HE WHO BRINGS TROUBLE ON HIS FAMILY WILL INHERIT ONLY WIND -Proverbs 11:29
A HOT-TEMPERED MAN MUST PAY THE PENALTY; IF YOU RESCUE HIM, YOU WILL HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN – Proverbs 19:19
DO NOT SPEAK TO A FOOL, FOR HE WILL SCORN THE WISDOM OF YOUR WORD- Proverbs 23:9
He that justifies the wicked, and he that condemns the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD- Proverbs 17:15
God will judge those outside. “EXPEL THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOU” -1 Corinthians 5:13
BUT I AM NOW WRITING YOU THAT YOU MUST NOT ASSOCIATE WITH ANYONE WHO CALLS HIMSELF A BROTHER BUT IS SEXUALLY IMMORAL OR GREEDY, AN IDOLATER OR A SLANDERER, A DRUNKARD OR A SWINDLER. WITH SUCH A MAN DO NOT EVEN EAT – 1 Corinthians 5: 11
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” – 1 Timothy 5:8