Armoured Up

Archive for the tag “Friendship”

Peace, Perfect Peace

peaceIt must be maturity…yeah, that’s what it is! The willingness to lay down your sword, give up your right to be heard…for your side to be known.

Deliverance….what a beautiful thing and you don’t fully realize its power until you are resting in it, feet firmly planted in it, soul at ease and free.

Being raised in a full house and being one of the youngest, I clamored for attention, fought for my right to be heard, was overdramatic and was super hurt when I was misunderstood. I carried that behavior with me through the years and was stung quite a bit as I was forced to take tests over and over (those stinky life tests, I mean). Ever wonder why you have to take tests over and over? It took me a minute to figure out that once I passed them, they passed, with the exception of an occasional refresher course followed by a quiz or two…or three!

My mind wandered this morning to the friend that got away.  Thank God for “friends” that get away…go away, move away, force a “walk-away.”  As I recalled the “situation” I marveled at how curiosity never got the best of me to reopen doors that should remain closed; I was astonished that I never felt the need to “tell my side” to those with whom my “friend” no doubt excoriated me.

Here’s the thing and it’s a big thing that I have pounded into my kiddies. Your reputation is all you have and it should be protected to the point that when other people hear stories and you are a principal character,  those who hear should know you well enough to know there must be more to the story. Those who hear and lean in and shake their heads and form opinions…well, they just don’t know you. There is no value in expending precious time and energy setting records straight when He who knows you best can set the record straight if He chooses to do so.

How am I benefitting? Peace, perfect peace – for some friends give, then take, then give some more, while others just take, then take, then take some more.

And so today I pray for those who are still learning lessons, being hurt and seeking peace.  That you would allow Him who loves you most, knows you best and has great plans for you, to heal, protect, sustain and strengthen you without you having to say a word.

“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind, both its inclination and its character, is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock the Rock of Ages.” Isaiah 26:3-4 AMP

 

Trust and True Sisterhood

IMG_0488For the last nine months I have been studying the book of Genesis with the greatest group of women in a neighborhood bible study.  I limped into Community Bible Study about a year and a half ago needing a place to congregate, really intending to just get lost in a crowd and spectate for a while after having been heavily entrenched in ministry.  Well, you know God always has other plans…you can kick and scream if you like, but once you quiet down, He’ll have His way in the end…you may walk away with stronger legs from all that kickin’ and a need to repent from all the screamin’, though!  Today I’m healthy and strong, enjoying a freedom I haven’t known for a long time.  I was asked to join CBS as a Core Leader in 2012 and in March of this year during my time at bat for devotion, I shared this little dittie on Trust.  Today, I share it with you…

You know, when God has an assignment for you, every force in nature (at times in the form of people), comes against you in order to make you stumble, retreat or even give up.  I cant even begin to properly express how much I have gleaned from our  journey through the book of Genesis – how much the lives of these people – their faith, their obedience, their trials, their drama, their failures, their victories has reminded me of my journey with Jesus.  I have been Abraham, leaving my home and family to come to California in support of my husbands dreams; I have been Sarah, longing for a baby, sadly watching as friends around me added to their families while my arms remained empty, overjoyed when God finally said yes; I have been Hagar in my own times in the wilderness, feeling apart from God needing to know that He sees meHe hears me.  Ive been Esau, deceived and lied to and Ive been Jacob, operating in fear, making plans without first consulting God and then praying for His help.

Most of our failures and victories all surround TRUST.  Who you believe, what you believe, where you place your trust and with whom.  Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.  But did you know that you can put your heart on lock down where you choose not to trust anymore; you cash in your chips and decide isolation is the best place to be when in fact its the most dangerous place to be, for the enemy works best when we isolate ourselvessomehow he talks more and louder and actually sounds believable.  It’s in that dark, lonely place that we really get pummeled. 

I think WOMAN really is Gods most amazing masterpiece.  We are machines….such contradictionstender but tough; too weak to lift heavy machinery, but strong enough to carry another life and then push it through a key hole.  We are healers, nurturers, encouragers, life givers and much more, but we can also be the opposite of anything good and uplifting.

I arrived at CBS as a wounded warrior bruised, but refusing to be broken.  Once again my trust had been breached by women and the last thing I wanted to do was be in the company of women, but here I was in the company of women.  After day one of my circle time as I drove home, I said out loud I wont be participating.  Ill just sit and listen. (My way of keeping walls up.)  That declaration was followed by a loud OH YES YOU WILL PARTICIPATE, rising from within.  Huh?  Hmm!! I got home and my husband asked me about CBS and I replied, I wont be going backits not for me.  Two days later I was at my desk doing my lesson.  As I released my grip on MY will for me, God got to work establishing HIS.  You see, you must release in order to receive.

I sat under the leadership of Carol, a dear, powerful woman of God, and as my heart thawed out I witnessed quiet strength in action; I witnessed Gods grace and His gentleness operate through Carol as I, and the other ladies, respondedand yes I opened my mouth – probably more and louder than most.  And in my yapping I divulged to someone that during this season I wanted to receive ONLY, so imagine my surprise when I received a call from Carol asking me to pray about whether I would be interested in being considered for Core Leadership the following year.  I was honored (while we were on the phone) and as I hung up I was horrified and once again I felt that wall creeping  up only to have it kicked down by my husband who quickly responded positively to the opportunity to re-engage.  (I wonder if he really wanted me out of his hair already!!)

After praying and seeking God for His will, I felt released to accept the opportunity and waited for the next step, which was a call from Cindy…the “interview!”  As I recall, there was only one spot remaining and more than one lady in waiting poised to occupy that spot.  We had a candid conversation and I remember as I spoke, I heard that still small voice.SCREAMING!!!! YOURE TALKING TOO MUCHYOURE TALKING WAY TOO MUCHOKAY, YOU BLEW IT NOW! I felt like I was laying it all out there honestly to her, half hoping that she would turn me away — only to have Cindy push back by saying something like, you are exactly the type of leader the women will respond to because you have been through something.  Those words cut through the wall I had built around my heart and jump started my process of healing.   That day I had a Jericho experience – that wall came a tumbling down!!  I made a choice to position my heart to receive and to trust again.

Circle of Sisterhood LogoSo what would I have missed had I not turned around and returned to CBShad MY will been done and not Gods?

 I would have missed witnessing grace under pressure; strength in a storm; Gods hand of healing; love in action (with no strings attached); humility; encouragement; support; kindness; tenderness; respect; generosity; sincerity; transparency; unity.

I would have missed experiencing true sisterhood; comfort; a feeling of belonging to something special but not exclusive; I would have missed experiencing unspeakable joy and barrels of laughter; opportunities to connect and engage; to refresh and be refreshed.

I would have missed an opportunity to witness Gods daughters behaving and interacting the way God intends. 

I would have missed an opportunity to learn to trust again.

The Amplified version of Proverbs 3:5-6 says it best…”Lean on, trust in and be confident IN THE LORD with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know, recognize and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.

I came across a great quote recently that said, “You could run from your past or you can embrace it and learn from it.  You can let it hold you back or you can move forward and have a better future.”

Im so glad I embraced it and learned from it; that I moved forward to a better future, one which included CBS and all of  my beautiful sisters.

Oh and as a footnote

I knew this was a sisterhood when on Day 1 of orientation, I was approached by another Carol who said “I have panties that match your dress exactly.”  “You do?” (What an icebreaker, I thought!)  She continued, “Yes, would you like them?”  “Do you have them on now?” I asked.  “No,” she said as she laughed…”I’ll bring them tomorrow.” – It was then that I knew I was home!

God has a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us, but His plan cannot be enacted until we yield to His voice and respond to His calling in order for that purpose to be revealed.  How amazing is our God and how great is the journey.  It doesn’t always make sense at the time, in fact it’s downright aggravating, but in the end if we don’t grow weary, if we don’t give up, it all makes sense…every bit of it!

*Community Bible Study  (a bible study where many churches are represented by women of all ages and stages in their walk).  Find a study in a city near you at www.communitybiblestudy.org/ There are co-ed studies too:)  Ours is a ladies only affair….a whole lotta tissue slinging, I tell you!

Would You Love Me More?

Image Courtesy of: http://jcspock.com

Would You love me more if I said more?  No daughter, just say yes to Me

Would You love me more if I did more?  No daughter, just serve Me

Would you love Me more if I tried harder?  No daughter, just believe

This dropped into my spirit today as I thought of conversation shared with a few of my sisters in Christ around a planning table.  Casual conversation in between our thoughts and plans for an upcoming gathering.  Conversations which went from funny to serious in a blink…comments which exposed hearts unearthing the possibility of healing, revealing the importance of sharing, releasing, trusting, believing.  Believing that we were safe to share.  Trusting that someone may have an answer or would agree in prayer.  Grateful that God who in His love and grace has the ability and the desire to bring people into our circles who have been there, are currently there, may be drowning there, wanna be heard from there, need to get outta there.  I love that God meets us right there and doesn’t leave us there.

Can’t wait for our next planning meeting.

Mean Girls

As a mom of a 12 year old, I have been talking to my daughter, Mariah, about relationships since she began playing in the sand box. We have always discussed the importance of female relationships…how to maintain them; the importance of trust, loyalty, honesty; how not to be what I call “some-timey.” You know, sometimes I like you, sometimes I don’t (and then I blame it on hormones or “that time of the month”)!! Eeeek!!! I’ve been blessed with a tender, teachable daughter who appears to be loyal and loving; who is kind (not nice). I’m thinking kind is better, since nice seems to be what you do and being kind describes who you are. We have painstakingly discussed the topic of “mean girls.”

Anyway, imagine my horror when I received a phone call from my daughter’s teacher giving me a heads up regarding a “texting war” that was brewing among some besties and my daughter was at the center of it. My face got hot and I experienced a skin tingle (or was that my first hot flash), and I gripped the phone tightly as he described an exchange between my daughter and her former bestie from long ago, (who I will call Miss Text).

Back story…Miss Text moved on from my girl to “Susie” and they had become chums. Well now Susie and my daughter were snuggled up leaving Miss Text out of the picture and apparently Susie shared an angst filled letter from Miss Text with my daughter. My daughter had made several attempts to include Miss Text in their “buddy fest” but to no avail. Miss Text wanted my daughter out of the picture and was very adamant about it, so imagine the joy my daughter felt when Susie chose her.

As my girl’s teacher described the exchange between my daughter and Miss Text, I was surprised, saddened and getting a little hot at what I was hearing. My girl was the aggressor in the exchanges and Miss Text was taking the high road in her responses…very mature, very peaceful. So much so, that it almost sounded like she was being coached. (I know, slap my wrist!!)

During our conversation, many things occurred to me…why had Susie shared that letter…I thought of the many stories I could have shared with Mr. Teacher which I chose to suppress. I could have shared my impressions based on what I knew of the friendship between my daughter and Miss Text (they were besties a long time ago). I had witnessed the drama back in 1st through 3rd grade when Miss Text tried to control my daughter. In the end, I was not concerned with justifying my daughter’s behavior. We all have reasons for our poor behavior…I was concerned that my daughter was being a mean girl…that girl who would stomp on someone’s feelings, be competitive, prideful, exclusive…everything I was not and had for years been discussing with her.

I picked up my daughter from school and on the way home I asked her about the situation and she burst into tears. She confessed and acknowledged her part in the drama. She said she was sorry, embarrassed and lacked courage to apologize to Miss Text even though she had many opportunities to do so that day.

Well, that night after more conversation, counseling and correction, she retreated to her room where she spent the evening. Close to bedtime I went in to check on her and found her writing a letter. Here’s what she wrote:

“Dear Mrs. ____ and Miss Text,
First of all, I want to say sorry for disrespecting you and your daughter, Mrs. ____. My comments were just inappropriate and immature. I’m disappointed, humiliated, and surprised at myself for doing what I did. Words don’t even explain how sorry I am. It wasn’t even any of my business to be involved with your daughter’s note to “Susie.” It was a private note, and I wish I had never read it. What I really want is for you and “Susie” to become best friends again. I know I was, am, and always will be a nice girl. I really hope Miss Text, that you will accept this note and we could be friends again like old times in first grade. I don’t think it’s good for you guys not being friends. I’ll also keep my distance so you and “Susie” can catch up and rebuild the friendship. In Colossians 3:13 it says “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievance you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” I hope that what I did didn’t hurt my reputation of how you now know me. I also highly respect how even though I was being mean to you, you kept your cool and stayed calm. I promise you that this won’t happen again. If you would give me one more chance, I would love to be your friend and let you meet the real Mariah. Again Mrs. ___, I’m really sorry for hurting your daughter.

God Bless All of You xoxo
Mariah Britt”

Mariah has kept her word. Was there reconciliation? Yes. Is it a buddy fest? No. Interestingly, Miss Text moved on (although she and Susie are still friends) and Susie and Mariah are closer than ever. I was blessed to see all of Mariah’s yearbook inscriptions…how all of her friends love her, regard her as someone they can trust; how they appreciate her. Yes, Mariah, your reputation is in tact!!

Footnote: I ran into Miss Text and her mom at a school function. Her mom thanked me for helping Mariah write the letter. I explained that I had no part in that. The letter came from Mariah’s heart. She replied, “I don’t believe that, but that’s okay.” Ouch, that was mean, girl!

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

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