killing kindness

Have you ever walked through a divorce? Or, alongside someone who was navigating the loss of a marriage? One of the greatest challenges is in keeping your emotions in check when they are running high and wild. Tensions build and words can fly.

Taming the tongue ( Proverbs 10:19 ) can be a near impossibility.

In my experience, there is usually one person who seems to be a bit more contentious with the other – oftentimes the one who is left behind, but more frequently it seems to be the person who chose to leave. Needing further justification for their decision, people who walk away from relationships will often poke and bait the other in an attempt to get a negative response, which further justifies their animosity towards the person they once loved, and masks their personal feelings of guilt and shame…

….leaving the ones left behind in a wake of constant criticism and assault.

While certainly maddening, the best remedy is often to kill them with kindness. Such a response can certainly feel ill-fitting initially, and absolutely unfair in exchange, but the result, even if it doesn’t immediately diffuse the onslaught, brings peace to our souls and offers the other an environment in which to change. Or, to face their own shortcomings.

I have always taught my kids that regardless of what someone else does, we are responsible for our own response.

If you are in a difficult relationship or season, please be encouraged that to square off with hostility is to breed it – there is no end to the discord, only a deepening of wounds. As Christ-followers, we have the tools we need to maintain a position of love and kindness. And to trust that in season, we will reap what we sow.

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
For 
so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
And the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-23

Keep your head up, my friend. His grace is near.

Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to to ruin. Proverbs 13:3

Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel. Proverbs 20:15

teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, so that you bring back truthful reports to those you serve… Proverbs 22:21

My inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right. Proverbs 23:16

Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them. Proverbs 29:20

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

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come home

Over the Christmas break, a family member shared the most remarkable of stories. Volunteering at a second hand store, she was nearing the end of the day, and while exhausted, chose to finish her job of sorting through donation bins and opened the very last one.

What she discovered inside was breathtaking.

Pulling each piece of familiar hand-painted nativity from the bin, she recognized the initials and handwriting. Remarkably, her own mother had made this scene and had donated it over 20 years prior. Yet here, on an island miles from its origins, it came home to its family again.

In complete transparency, I truly believe it was a message from God. Just days before Christmas; a holiday often celebrated on behalf of tradition and not faith by many, He found a way to communicate that He still sees her.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.- 2 Peter 3:9

I think there is a tendency to believe that the decision to follow Christ is somehow doing him a favor. We focus on what we feel we have to “give up,” upon following a set of rules, and in return can have a level of expectation that society, that God, owes us for being “good.” Some have even gone so far as to ask me personally what I feel my God has ‘done’ for me.

Oh, the arrogance of man.

The bible says God is love. The bible paints a picture of an all-powerful, all-seeing, all-knowing, creator God who chooses to pursue us on a very personal level. Our shortsightedness, however, often lends to a perspective that assigns very fallible and human attributes, thereby minimizing the magnitude of His grace, and the unimaginable lengths He will go through to pursue our hearts.

There is nothing your creator longs for more than your permission to love on you.

Where does your perspective lie this morning? Wherever you are, He is not surprised, but you may be disappointed. Even disillusioned. What would it mean, truly cost, to allow yourself the opportunity to be found? You can wait another decade for the sign you want, or perhaps you would consider, allowing to listen to His voice now.

Could it be that this year is the time to come home…

ugly

This past 2018 brought with it a lot of changes for myself, but supporting several friends walking through divorce and ugliness occupied my heart more than anything else.

God hates divorce, this is clear. If you have ever walked through it yourself, you understand why; it’s hard and robs us of peace, tears apart families and friends, and keeps us temporarily paralyzed from doing much of anything for the kingdom.

Divorce consumes everything in its path.

As much as it destroys, the majority of the loss is largely in the hands of the parties separating. Whether you initiated the process or not, both parties have an obligation to own their part, honor what was, and be responsible and respectful of the other. Especially if there are children in the middle.

Regardless.

My first marriage ended when I was 29. We had two small children and it was absolutely not my decision that my marriage would end. The depression and overwhelming pain of rejection was at times more than I thought I could bear. As he moved on socially and I spent months in isolation with my babies, it seemed an insurmountable pain to overcome. My waistline shrunk from a size 5 to a 1 and it was truly the need to feed and care for my children that allowed me to get up every morning. Or at least to wake up.

I never dishonored their dad, though. Certainly I was often angry, and certainly we have disagreed, but it was important to me that our children have a good relationship with their father – he was still a vital part of their lives, even if not of mine. I often felt he didn’t pull his weight or follow through on his word, but I had also learned that that who he was at the time. To be surprised or allow it to consume me all over again did nothing to help us build something stable for our kids, or, to allow my heart to heal.

While some disagreed with my position on this, as I have watched my two older children become well-adjusted adults who have always maintained a good relationship with their dad, I am so blessed to know that the seeds of peace that I sometimes painfully and often begrudgingly sowed, have now brought about beautiful fruit for my kiddoes.

It’s not easy to set boundaries and reestablish roles. It takes time and diligence, which again speaks to the detriment of divorce when it comes to our personal goals and spiritual effectiveness. The alternative, however, is that bitterness and pettiness reaps an unrelenting (and recurring) wave of grief – shattering hearts and rippling into all our other relationships as well.

We are, in the end, all still in community with one another.

I would implore you today to support a couple going through a divorce. Not in the way a Kardashian might, but practically help to carry the load, speak life to the situation, don’t add the kerosene of hatred and jump on the it’s-all-his-fault bandwagon, but encourage healthy parameters, gracious speech, and some perhaps some common decency.

We are all truly, in this ugly together.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age… Titus 2:11-12

…and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. – 1 Thessalonians 5:13

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness… – Galatians 5:22

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. … – Galatians 6:1-3

He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow, And the rod of his anger will fail. – Proverbs 22:8