How do I judge thee? Let me count the ways. I see wrinkles and some laugh lines. Wait, your style has gone astray. A little chub, a little drab, too many freckles dot your nose. Some grays are showing through that dye job. You are tired and it shows.
You are too busy and too scattered. When is the last time you worked out? Overworked, underappreciated. Oh, I wouldn’t eat that amount. You’re unkempt, trying too hard, maybe today is not your day. I’m sure there was a better outfit choice this morning. Um, you shouldn’t wear stripes that way.
I would have dressed up or dressed down. Painted my cheeks a different pink. I surely would have pulled my hair up. It would look better, don’t you think? Your face is too long, eyes too big and shoulders wide. Hide your ears, quiet your voice, stuff all your fears inside. Wear something different, that look is lame. Same favorite sweater? Lacking grace, what a shame.
Sigh. Maybe I have made myself feel better by criticizing who you are. But, it will be brief and very fleeting as selfish thoughts splinter my heart. It will take a bit of warming, a bit of letting down my guard, before I can look much deeper and see who you really are.
What I have not noticed is that you’re so unique. Creative and amazing, you are truly at your peak. I hadn’t seen it all before. But, by looking a little deeper, I can appreciate you so much more.
Girl, yes you
are too tired. Can I help you out with
that? I understand when days feel short and life’s demands have knocked you
Girl, you are
so busy. I can see you focused in. You’re climbing the ladder of success,
looking for a total win.
Girl, I commend your effort, giving life all you’ve got. You show tenacity and spirit. From you, I could learn a lot.
Girl, you could be more recognized, but it’s not approval that you seek. You’re happy if the kids are fed and you’ve kept up another week.
Girl, I do love that sweater, those boots and that smile. But what I have learned today is worth cannot be measured by a sense of style.
My friend, great job on all you’ve accomplished and for letting your light shine. I hope my passion can mimic yours and someday be just as fine.
Rachel Asks: Have we ever found ourselves on the receiving end of unkind words and criticism? It makes us feel as if life is a performance sport where we are judged constantly based on our ability to perform at someone else’s standard. Conversely, have we found ourselves on the the giving end of such harsh words and thoughts? Where we have deemed someone’s worth based off our personal opinion of them? We can do much better as women! We can do much better as moms, sisters and friends. How can you show love today? How can you reverse this trend?
The God of my rock; in him will Itrust: he is my shield, my salvation, my high tower, my refuge, and my savior…
II Samuel 22:3
It was insufferable, the agony of waking to each new day but feeling no new sense of sunlight, of purpose or relief. The weight of the previous day and the day before that, and the one before that, clung to me like a concrete brick, with the full force settling on my chest and making it difficult to do simple things like breathe. What was the sense in trying today? I had no hope on the horizon, no reason to believe today was going to be any different.
Reminded of my obligations to things like work and bills, I moved through the day with robotic existence. Trying hard not to let myself feel too deeply or get too lost in my own sorrow and self-pity, I filled my days with busy things from sun-up until sun-down. Work was mostly my outlet, my excuse to be too busy to feel. I started a 2nd job to fill in the gaps the first one left behind. I volunteered, I worked, I busied.
I had no idea why my marriage had ground to a screeching halt. It wasn’t perfect, by any means. But I had not realized it was on the brink of utter failure. In fact, I didn’t realize this until I was away one Sunday morning, returned home and found our townhouse cleared out. Not even a note.
I figured out quite quickly that life would require a great deal of commitment to survive. Thankful for friends and family who provided emotional support, who cheered me on and came to my aid, I indeed did survive.
It took me quite a long time to feel alive, however. Being a victim of circumstance was challenging. I felt as if I had lost my husband, my home, my stability, my future, my hopes and all my dreams in just a single day. Now aimless and uncertain of the future, I spent quite a bit of time in prayer. For a while, I felt aimless in that too.
I wanted to know why and how I had failed, he had failed, we had failed in our vows to one another. I could not afford our home on just a single salary and I was forced to move within the matter of a few weeks. I fell to my knees again, “God, why am I going through this? Why is this trial in my life? How can this possibly get better?”
One such prayer session it was as if I heard in my mind the words “Matthew, seven and nine.” Unsure of the verse I opened my bible to search. “Or what man of there is you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?” Intrigued, I scanned the previous statements.
Matthew 7:7-11, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened unto you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a snake? If you then, being unholy, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more will your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
“God does not arbitrarily or unintelligently answer our prayers. He is a faithful father, one who responds with love and understanding.”
It hit me all at once, God was communicating to me that he was, in fact, listening. He heard all of those prayers, saw every tear, understood every moment of confusion. I was asking him for direction and as my father, he was not going to leave me faltering on my own.
Immediately, I clung to this hope. Faith is not intended to be a magic wand and God does not arbitrarily or unintelligently answer our prayers. He is a faithful father, one who responds with love and understanding. He saw the brokenness in my spirit and he gave me hope that he would meet me there for the mending.
I now realized that this trial was an opportunity. If I were willing to let him in, God could use it for my good. He could fashion something out of all my failures. I began to change my prayers. “Father, what can I learn in this moment and what are you trying to teach me? Help me to grow! Help me to trust! Help me to move forward and out of this dark place.”
This perspective and application of faith began to change the vision I had for my future. I became forward thinking again, not because I trusted myself, but because I knew the hand of the Father was there to guide me.
I began to channel my energies into productive choices. I returned to college, I looked for ways to serve my community. Instead of just being busy for the sake of filling my time, I was now passionate again about life because hope surrounded the day.
For some people they are able to recover marriages and restore those relationships once again. I am ever so thankful and excited when I see this come together for struggling families. For me, this was not my story. Although something very precious to me had been lost, God was still there in the middle of it all, working on my fragile heart. He taught me how to open my arms wider to those in need and to desire to love each day just a little deeper. He showed me the power of faith and that no matter what circumstance that I was in, that he was still completely faithful, loving and there. He was right there. Just a whisper away.
He taught me that I had not been buried, but rather planted. That I was in a process of growth that he would bring to full bloom at his appointed time. I did not have the power in myself to change the course of events leading up to this time of planting, but I did have the heart to trust God in his timing and in his process.
Rachel Asks: Will you join me on the journey of learning to trust God today? Take a few moments to breathe in and rest for a moment. Close your eyes and allow peace to come to you. Ask for clarity, for direction, for his guidance. He will meet you in this place. Allow him to meet you here.
Let the life sustaining air that he created fill your lungs and give you strength for the next moment.
Sometimes prayer does not feel like enough because there are not words to describe what your heart truly needs. Sometimes worship seems distant, unobtainable, impossible to behold with all life’s circumstances.
And in again.
Until it feels like peace washing over you. Until the spirit runs through your being, filling in the broken, missing, empty spaces longing for wholeness, healing, completion.
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