Day 24: Love doesn’t keep score

Forgiveness

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We’re at the end of 1 Corinthians 13:5 – “Love……..it keeps no records of wrongs’ (NIV).

‘Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others’ (Msg)

Holding a grudge.

Tit for tat.

One-upmanship.

In short, unforgiveness.

This is what love doesn’t do.

It is very easy to hold a grudge against someone, to not forget when they hurt us, or do the wrong thing by us.  We are wronged by people every single day.  Usually by more than one person.  If you think about it, that’s a lot to hold on to.  And keep track of.  And think about what they should do to make it up to us.

Love doesn’t do that.

Love doesn’t hold a grudge.

Love doesn’t keep record of how people hurt us.

Love forgives.

Plain and simple.

I love this. I have forgiven those who did me wrong and have chosen to not have a hateful attitude to them. I pray for them daily and hope one day maybe we can be friends again

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I can’t cover forgiveness in one topic, but the best explanation I’ve heard of forgiveness isn’t saying to someone ‘it’s ok’ or ‘it doesn’t matter’, it’s saying ‘you don’t owe me anything anymore’.  It’s saying to the other person ‘yes, you hurt me, but you don’t need to make up for it, I release you of any obligation’.  It’s not just forgetting what happened, and it doesn’t mean that work doesn’t have to be done to repair the damage in a relationship, but it’s letting go of a continual expectation on someone that they have to ‘pay’ for what they’ve done.

Forgiveness

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And if you’re keeping score, holding things against people for how they’ve hurt you, and expecting them to ‘pay’ for it, you can guarantee that there are a whole lot of people out there thinking the same of you.  How much easier would it be to just let it all go?  To just drop what we’re carrying, because really, carrying stuff around is really hard work – emotionally as well as physically.  I once heard Dr Phil say that carrying emotional baggage is like having a pair of suitcases that you carry around with you all the time, constantly following you from place to place and they get really heavy.

Forgiveness

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How much easier would it be to put the suitcases of unforgiveness down and just walk away?

In the Lords’ prayer Jesus says we are to ask God to ‘forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us’.

Forgiveness is a directive from God.

Forgiveness is one of the foundations of our faith.

We are created in the image of God, and we are to live like Jesus.  The cornerstone of our salvation is that Christ forgives us for our sins, so if we are created to be like Him, that means we have to forgive those who sin against us, who wrong us, who hurt us.

Forgiveness

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This life of real love is not an easy one, and unforgiveness is one of the main barriers we come up against in our relationships.

Forgive someone, and the walls come down.

Put your pride aside, turn away from your self-righteousness and sense of entitlement, and just let go.

It’s what God does for us (without the pride and self-righteousness).  He just lets go of everything we do that hurts him, and because of that, we know true love.

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Day 23: Love….is not easily angered

Anger...

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I found a variety of translations for this part of the verse (we’re still in 1 Corinthians 13:5):

is not easily angered (NIV)

is not easily provoked (KJV)

doesn’t fly off the handle (Msg)

Anger – ‘a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism’ (Merriam-Webster)

I would like to say that’s me, that I’m slow to anger and always able to keep my emotions in check.

Um, not so much.

I’m not an angry person, I can say that much.  But there’s a lot of ‘displeasure and antagonism’ that goes on in my head that takes a lot of effort to not let It out of my mouth, and at the end of the day, it still has a similar effect.  because anger affects us and hurts us more than the person it’s directed at.

Yes, we can say ‘they made me angry’, but really, no-one can make us feel or do anything.  How we respond to anything is entirely up to us, and we have to live with our responses.

When we act in anger toward someone else – in any degree – it causes them pain.  It is easy to give into feeling angry and responding in a way that blames someone else.  It is more difficult to look at why we’re feeling the way we do, and tempering our emotions and responses in a manner that won’t hurt someone else.

Anger results from something that happens that actually causes us to feel emotions that we’re not comfortable with – pain, fear, confusion, loneliness, shame, sadness.  Rather than look closer at what we’re really feeling, and why we’re feeling that way,  we respond in anger and end up hurting someone else in the process.  You could say getting angry is an avoidance process – blame someone or something else rather than look at ourselves.

Being angry with people is never helpful.  Being angry ranges from that feeling of frustration (displeasure) over the dishes not being done and grumbling about it, to the extreme of becoming physically and verbally violent and causing great damage.  In both scenarios, we have to live with what we’re thinking and feeling, and we’re the ones who have to live with the discomfort that anger brings.

For me, there’s a lot that goes on in my head that I don’t verbally or physically express when I get angry, but I still have to deal with those feelings regardless.  When I yell at my kids, it’s about me, not them, and whilst I might feel better for about 30 seconds, I feel worse for a lot longer because I know I haven’t acted in love.  When I sit and stew over someone I have to deal with who’s particularly frustrating, I’m the one who had to deal with how I’m feeling, and they never even know what’s gone through my head.  When I don’t keep myself in check and I speak before I think in the heat of the moment, I have to live with not only what I’m feeling that caused me to speak words that wound, but I then have to live with knowing that I hurt someone.

I have found that breathing and counting is a wonderful tool for dealing with anger, as simple as it sounds.  Count to 5 and breathe deep before responding.  This small pause in time prevents pain and wounding, for both myself and the people I love.

(Just after I published this post, I read this post over at (in)courage from the beautiful Ann Voskamp .  Go read it.  Now. Please.  I’m still letting her words sink deep.)

What are your ‘hot spots’ when it comes to anger?  How do you deal with it?

Whole 30: Madness or marvellous? Discuss.

The

 

So, tell me, have you heard of this program?

If you have, put your hand up if you thought it looked totally crazy (my hand’s up).

Keep your hand up if you thought it looked totally crazy, but immediately knew it was something that would do you the world of good (hand’s still up).

Keep your hand up still if you thought you should do it, but immediately dismissed the idea because you knew it would be really hard (yep, still up).

Still keep it up if you dismissed the idea, but kept coming back to it, despite knowing how hard it would be (I’m still here!)

I know your arm’s probably aching by now, but keep it up if despite knowing how hard it would be, you reach a point where you feel so rotten, you know you have to do something, and Whole 30 starts to seem like a good idea.

That would be me last week.

I had allowed myself to fall back into terrible eating habits over the last few weeks, and reached a point where I had a nearly constant low-grade headache, I felt like I was moving through cement, and my head felt like it was filled with cotton wool.  This is pretty much what my brain looked like:

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I have had about zero mental clarity, and I’ve really noticed that my cognitive functioning has been affected.  Whilst I’m sleeping better than I have in a long while (I’m down to waking up maybe only a couple of times in the night, rather than 6), I am constantly tired and feeling like I need a nap.  I have no motivation, and whilst I’m supposed to be training for a 6.4km local fun run in December, I’m struggling to get moving.

On top of all that, my joints have been aching, which for me is bad news.  Nearly 4 years ago I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis (related to Rheumatoid Arthritis), and it took until earlier last year to get under control with the correct medications, after a flare up of the disease that left me barely able to walk and took a few months to settle.  During this time, I saw a naturopath, who diagnosed me with wheat intolerance (not gluten or yeast, just wheat), and after cutting out wheat from my diet, I felt so much better.

You would think it would be a no-brainer to never go back to eating anything wheat-related, wouldn’t you.  And eating a completely ‘clean’ diet, because of the auto-immune disease I have.  It may be a no-brainer, but I’ve really learnt just how powerful a hold food can have over you if you let it.

And I do.

Five years ago I had an accident at work and was left with a permanent lower back injury, and during the recovery time, I became a comfort eater.  I had previously responded to stress by not eating, but dealing with pain was a new thing for me, and food seemed to provide some comfort.

I’m sure you can see where this is going.

Fortunately my I learnt to manage and live with the ongoing pain that resulted from my injury, but I’d formed the comfort-eating pattern very well.  So when I started to develop the symptoms of the arthritis, and ended up in a lot of pain again, food became my go-to comfort source.

Yep.

Genius move.

When I finally got the right medication and changed my diet last year, and became well and virtually pain free again for the first time in years, I vowed and declared I wouldn’t go back to harmful eating behaviours, as I knew how much better it was to eat clean and avoid the junk.

Except I haven’t.  Because I’m human.  And somewhat addicted to food.

Ok, cut the somewhat.  I’m addicted to food.  This has taken me until only recently to admit to myself, let alone actually verbalise it.

So something has to change.  Actually, a lot has to change, and the Whole 30 program seems to be the ideal start.

I started yesterday (which puts me on Day 2 today), and for the very short version, this means that for 30 days I will not be eating:

Sugar

Dairy

Grains

Any processed food, preservatives, additives etc

Alchohol

White potatoes

Basically, all the foods I love.  And are really bad for me.

My diet will be made up of meat, seafood, eggs, lots of veggies, less fruit, nuts and seeds and ‘good’ fats.  I know this will be so good for me, but I’m already in mourning for what I’m giving up.  And feel like I’m missing out on.  At least I don’t have to give up coffee, and am quickly getting used to the no-dairy version.

I’m under no illusion that this will be a walk in the park, and am relying on the wealth of information, recipes and encouragement available all over the internet.  And it’s only 30 days.

Someone please remind me of that when I’m willing to spare my life for a piece of chocolate.

So tell me, what do you think?  A brilliant idea?  Or complete madness?  Could you do it? have you done it?

Day 22: It’s not all about me

So I missed a day of writing yesterday.  It was one of those days, one that imploded on itself due to a complete inability on my part to back down after an altercation with our youngest son.  Even though I was following through on consequences as a result of his choices, I could have walked away sooner than I did.  But I didn’t. Because I was right, he was wrong, and I had to make sure he knew that.

I made it all about me.

Love.

‘it is not self-seeking’ (1 Cor 13:5 NIV)

‘isn’t always ‘me first” (1 Cor 13:5 The Message)

‘seeketh not her own’ (1 Cor 13:5 KJV)

Last night, I let my pride win, and there was not a scrap of humility in sight.

How often do we do this in our relationships?  With our spouses, kids, family, friends, work colleagues, general acquaintances?  I would so like to say “I’m really conscious about recognising and acknowledging the needs of the people around me, and putting them before myself because that’s what really loving people means”, and to much of a degree, that’s true. But the reality is, I fall short of this every day in all of my relationships.

Learning about what real love is in relationships has shown me that loving someone isn’t about what they’ll do for us, who they’ll be for us, how they can make us feel better, but it’s actually the opposite.  Loving someone is about finding out who we can be for them, how we can serve them, how we can make them feel better about themselves.  How we can help them – even if doing all of the above means putting aside what we want, what we need for a time, for the moment they need us more than we need them.

And if we all loved each other the same way, we’d all be meeting each other’s needs, all the time.  But we know that this isn’t what happens in reality.  And that’s when it gets hard – when people don’t show us love in the way we do them, or the way we think they should – for whatever reason – we take it personally.  Then if we’re not careful, we can let it affect how we keep loving them.  We can let our wounds become a barrier to living love for real. 

But we don’t have to let that happen.  We can choose to keep loving them when we’re hurt.  We can choose not to take things personally, and to look deeper into why people do what they do, to see their hurts and wounds and meet them in that place. Even if it means going somewhere that’s painful for us.  That’s real love.

As I’ve said before, I’m not talking about letting people take advantage of you, rolling over and letting them deliberately hurt you, manipulate you.  That’s not love, by any stretch of the imagination.  I’m talking about looking past people’s defensiveness and anger and lack of consideration and asking, why?  Why are you behaving like this?  Who hurt you?  What caused you pain?  How can I help you? How can I love you?

That’s love lived for real.

How does this happen for you in your life, your relationships? 

 

Day 20: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Don’t tell me you’re not singing that song in your head right now.  Or out loud.

‘It does not dishonour others’

That’s basically what verse 5 of this chapter of love says.  Love means honouring those around us, showing them respect.

Honour – a showing of usually merited respect (Merriam-Webster)

Respect –  a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way (M-W)

Real love is treating someone like they’re important.  Because they are.

Honouring them is saying ‘you are worth something because you are important, and you mean a lot to me’.  It doesn’t cost us anything, and can mean the whole world.

What can you do today to show someone they’re important to you?

Day 19: Love is not proud

The difficulty and resistance I’m feeling to writing this post is directly proportionate to how much I yelled at my younger kids tonight and sent them to bed in anger because I was frustrated with them.

Because they didn’t behave in a way that I expected them to.

Because I didn’t want to spend the energy in helping them re-direct their behaviour and make better choices.

Because I didn’t want to stand down from what I thought was best.

I didn’t want to back down in my pride.

I’m not talking about pride or being proud because I’m really happy about or please with something I’ve done, or someone else has done, I’m talking about being proud as in ‘having or showing the attitude of people who think that they are better or more important than others : having or showing too much pride’ (Merriam-Webster).

Strong’s translations of pride is ‘to be puffed up, to bear one’s self loftily, to be proud’.

To act like this is not love.

It is self-indulgent because I want to give in to how I feel – justified, righteous, more important.  And I am none of those things when I yell at my kids and get cross and hard-hearted.

My kid are the biggest challenge to my pride – Every. Single. Day.  Not because they’re particularly obnoxious or disobedient or challenging (of course, they can be all three and at once at times!), but because by virtue of them being children, and their typical child-like behaviour, their actions rub up against the ideals I have formed as to how people should behave.

My ideals are appropriate for myself, and possibly for other adults around me, but kids?  They’re still learning about this deal called life, what’s appropriate and what’s not, what works for them and what doesn’t.  It is their job to question and challenge and oppose and well, act like kids.  It just happens to be that often this doesn’t fit with how I think they should behave, and what I’m willing to deal with.

See, it’s all about me.

The opposite of being proud is being humble.  Humility.  And let me tell you, there is not greater lesson in life on humility that raising children.

Humility – ‘the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people : the quality or state of being humble’ (M-W)

I am not better than my children.  I may be older, more experienced in life and have authority over them, but I am not better than them.  I have learnt that when I lose my temper, this is not loving them, it is indulging myself, and I always, always feel horrible afterwards.

This is when I apologise to my kids.  As much as it pains me to do so some times – because the reason for my anger may have been justified –  the delivery of responding to the situation in a temper is never helpful or loving, and if I behaved like that towards an adult, I would apologise.  So when it comes to the kids, I do the same.  I apologise for my choice of actions, for not speaking in love, and as them for their forgiveness, then go on to discuss what’s happened and see if we can work out how we all got to that point (and avoid it next time!).

The fall always comes.  Without fail.  My kids are my ‘Achilles heel’ when it comes to pride, but they’re not the only thing I struggle with.  I am learning more and more as I travel this journey with Christ that humility is always the balm for the sting of the fall that comes when I’m prideful.  Which is every single day, in some form or another.

So tell me, what’s your ‘Achilles heel’ when it comes to pride?  Kids?  Your spouse?  Independence from God?  And how are you learning to deal with it?

 

Day 18: For your listening pleasure

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again –

Love is hard.

When I hear songs that speak truths that make up the core of my beliefs, they resonate within me like a hum, and this song is one of them.  I love the chorus:

And it kicks so hard, it breaks your bones
Cuts so deep, it hits your  soul
Tears your skin, and makes your blood flow
Its better that you know that love is hard

Yes.  A thousand times yes!

Well, that’s been my experience, anyway.

 I see lovers in the streets walking,
without a care.
They’re wearing out  loud
like there’s something in the air
Oooooh, and i don’t  care

They’re treading lightly
No they, don’t sink in
There’s no  tracks to follow
they don’t care where they going
hmm

And if  they’re lucky and they’ll,
they’ll get to see and if they’re
really really  lucky they’ll
get to feel.

And it kicks so hard,
it breaks your  bones.
Cuts so deep
it hits your soul.
Tears your skin and
makes  your blood flow.
It’s better that you know,
That love is hard.

Love  takes hostages,
gives them pain.
gives someone the power to
hurt you  again and again
oooh, but they don’t care

And if they’re lucky and  they’ll,
they’ll get to see and if they’re
really really lucky they’ll 
they’ll get to feel.
And if  they’re, they’re truly blessed
and they’re get to believe
and if you’re  dammed, you’ll never
let yourself be deceived.

And it kicks so  hard,
it breaks your bones.
Cuts so deep
it hits your soul.
Tears  your skin and
makes your blood flow.
It’s better that you know,
That  love is hard.

Hmmmmmmm…

Kicks so hard,
it breaks your  bones.
Cuts so deep
it hits your soul.
Tears your skin and
makes your blood flow.
It’s  better that we know.

And it kicks so hard,
it breaks your  bones.
Cuts so deep
it hits your soul.
Tears your skin and
And makes  your blood flow.
It’s better that you know,
That love is hard.

Love is hard, love is hard.

If it was easy,
it wouldn’t mean nothing, no.

 Yes, it is better that we know.

What are your songs?  What are those songs that you never tire of listening to because they speak truth to you?