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Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. -Romans 12:15

 

We must be willing to feel the heart beat of other's in our chest. This is what love does. (1)

 

One wedding and two suicides. From celebration to lamentation. From dancing in the sunset to mourning alongside two of my dearest childhood friends as they grieve the senseless loss of their young men living—and then dying—on the edge of manhood.

I long to ease the ache in the hearts of these dear ones; to smooth the hard edges of the emptiness that once was filled by the laughter of young men. Soul soothing words fail to trip off my tongue and I stumble in my awkward attempts to offer comfort and hope.

While I’ve experienced the pain of death separating me from another, I haven’t lost a child to the nightmarish reality of suicide. This grief? It’s consuming—like a fire threatening to devour everyone in its path.

And in our pull-yourself-up from the bootstraps culture where grief is an inconvenience and lament is looked on with suspicion, I’m suggesting something radical.

Let’s step into lament. Let’s join those we know who are hurting. Let’s choose to walk willingly into the fiery furnace just as Christ did when three of his children were tossed like kindling into a human-sized oven.

People are lamenting everywhere around us. The woman just up the street whose husband has left her with three children and a cancer diagnosis. The forty-seven-year old mother of teenagers fearing the worst as her husband struggles to survive the aftermath of a stroke. The young couple aching to hold a baby in empty arms after yet another miscarriage.

Grief is uncomfortable. Stepping into another’s pain is painful. Yet, if we are to love like Jesus we must be willing to feel the heartbeat of others in our chest. We are meant to join others as they walk through the fire. That’s what love does.

Who are you going to love today?

 

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If you’ve ever found yourself doubting God’s goodness or wondering if your faith can withstand the hard of your circumstances, then I hope you’ll find some encouragement today.

I understand, Friend. Just a few years ago, I grappled with my faith. Fought and wrestled with God about the overwhelming, painful reality of all that was beyond difficult. Mine was a faith at risk of being abandoned.

For close to three years, I alternated between fighting for and against my faith. The beliefs I’d held since girlhood stood withered and emaciated beneath the scorching heat of personal trial and all that came with it. Anger. Grief. Disillusionment. Doubt.

You may be in that place now. Your soul may feel as though it’s bleeding and if that’s the case, dear Friend, let me encourage you to do battle to remain in Truth. It may take times of wrestling in the dirt before you rise up–your faith strengthened and doubts replaced with hope.

I hope the following video brings encouragement as you walk through the hard of your journey.

 

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My heart is pounding in my chest. It’s a thrumming, I guess. The rhythm that tells me something is wrong. Something (or someone) is anxious. The thin film of moisture coats the sides of my eyes, but I blink and blink, not letting it loose.

I don’t wanna. A two year old lives inside me, and she does not want to do the next thing. The next thing is hard and painful. She’d rather grab her favorite toy and play in the closet among her mom’s shoes, hiding from the world.

I try to talk the two year old down. You can do this. It’s only this one time. Or It will be over before you know it. Or even, you can have a treat when it’s all done!

See? Two. I told you.

But those pep talks don’t always work. Sometimes, on the lighter things, they do. But when it’s heavy and hard and nothing like what I expected, I’d much rather just…not. I wonder if I can tell God politely that I’d rather not do this next thing. And maybe if my voice is extra sweet and my demeanor uber-gracious, he’ll grant me this wish like a fairy godmother waving her wand. Only God’s staff is so much more powerful and wonderful than that.

I had a college professor who often talked about the phrase, “I prefer not”. He would tell us it was okay to use this phrase in life, and I want to cash it in right now. I prefer not. I change the words a little, thinking God’s ear will lean in my direction.

But there’s still no relief. The prefer nots and I don’t wannas and rather nots aren’t working. God is silent. Or perhaps no answer is the real answer. Because I already know what to do. What he wants me to do. I’m just avoiding it.

There’s no out. The next thing is the next thing I need to do. I’ll tell you a secret that I doubt will surprise you: I still don’t wanna.

But I hafta. And then I finally think to ask God. God, can you quiet this upset within my spirit? This fear and trepidation over the next thing? Help me to want to. Or at least give me grace while I don’t want to and I do it anyway. Because you’re asking. And I’m yours. Which means you are mine too. All of your goodness and your grace and your patience and your power—they’re here to equip me to do the next thing.

And then I remember that I won’t do the next thing alone. I always do that—jump ahead and imagine it without God in it. But then I remember he’s here now and he’ll be there then. That looming feeling of being alone and tired and just unable to do it is a lie. Because he’s there with me in that future of the next thing. And he has power and strength that I can’t even comprehend. And comfort. I’ll take some of that too.

Okay, God, let’s do the next thing together.

Jill-Lynn-Headshot-e1435757045485

Jill Lynn Buteyn is a co-author of Just Show Upwith Kara Tippetts, and the author of the inspirational romance novel, Falling for Texas (as Jill Lynn). A recipient of the ACFW Genesis award for her fiction work, she has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Bethel University. Jill lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children. Connect with her on social media or at Jill-Lynn.com.
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Jill Lynn Buteyn
I wrote a book about cancer and friendship with Kara Tippetts. I also write small-town happily ever afters.
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Jill Lynn Buteyn. Author of Falling for Texas and Just Show Up with Kara Tippetts. Organizationally challenged. Thrifty mama. Bookworm.
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Like an old-fashioned nesting doll, my identity seemed buried somewhere within—a series of selves so well compartmentalized that I was unsure of who I’d become. Even as a young child, I was adept at acknowledging only those feelings and thoughts that I considered good and, before I realized the cost, I’d grown into a woman unsure of who she’d become.Untitled design

Just a few years ago, I peered at my reflection in the mirror. How had I gotten along as far as I had in life without a better understanding of me? I was bewildered. Perplexed. Unsure of how I might overcome this lack of personal insight.

Have you, dear Friend, ever experienced the loss of you within the pages of your life? Perhaps your identity crises began when your marriage—once a relationship of youthful hopes and dreams—ended unexpectedly. Maybe you lost sight of self in the chaotic call of mothering children. It could be you awakened one day as an empty nester with nobody at home and suddenly unsure of the woman within.

I don’t know your circumstances, but I know that you do have a heavenly identity as the Daughter of Christ. You are God’s one-of-a-kind-beauty. And, in Him? You are adored…cherished…loved abundantly.

He knows you intimately—even if you do not. Give yourself permission to become acquainted with the woman He made you to be.

Blessings,

Tammy

 

Today’s Prayer

 Dear Father,

 You love me and know me intimately. You knit me together in my mother’s womb and created me to be a beautiful reflection of your image. Guide me into a deeper understanding of who You designed me to be—my temperament, my talents, my gifts, my purpose—that I might serve You more fully.

 

Thank you for loving me, Father, as I am now and as the woman who will one day be made complete in Christ.

 Amen

 

Linking up today at:

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Action Steps

 

  1. Take an online spiritual gifts test and/or a Myers Brigg personality test
  2. Read A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
  3. Reintroduce a hobby you used to enjoy back into your life

 

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give yourself permission to allow the beauty of self to shine through (4)

I was such a people pleaser and in trying to be everything to everyone else, I have little idea of who I am.

 Her words, full of regret and confusion, describe me only a few years ago. At times—even after years of seeking wise counsel and prayer—I still struggle with desiring approval.

If you’ve ever felt the pull to be someone you weren’t designed to be; ever buried your thoughts beneath the false assumption that your feelings are inconsequential…irrelevant…immaterial; ever heard yes spill from your mouth when you intended to say no; then you understand.

It was only in beginning to understand authentic, unconditional love that I found release from the terrible, demanding tyrant of seeking always to please others at the cost of genuine personhood.

The ingrained habits of childhood followed me into marriage and, as a newlywed, I “protected” myself from being fully known by remaining meek and agreeable whether or not I agreed with my husband.

The dusty blue and white striped couch is a perfect example.

As my husband and I meandered around the Sears furniture department, we compared several different chairs, couches, and kitchen tables. Pointing out a particular set sofa within our price range, Dave asked for my opinion. I like it. Which…I did, but I preferred a different piece. The traditional one a few steps to the right. I remained silent.

I chose pleasing my husband to sharing myself and was reminded of it each day for the five years that cute little sofa graced our home.

Time has taught me that to be truly loved by others, I must be known as I am—not as others might wish me to be. Not as I imagine I should be. Just the woman God created me to be.

If people pleasing has been your struggle, would you give yourself permission to allow the beauty of self to shine through in your thoughts and actions? Allow Him to reveal the woman He designed you to be—fully known and loved.

Blessings,

Tammy

 

P.S. I always share my opinion when buying sofas now and my husband still loves me. J

 

Ideas that might help as you discover You-

If you, like my friend, feel uncertain about who you are, consider starting small.

  1. Decide on an untried genre of book that sounds interesting or explore a hobby that intrigues you.
  2. Read and memorize scripture that combats doubt about self by affirming your identity in Christ. These are some of my favorites: 1 Thessalonians. 1:4, Psalm 139:14, Ephesians. 1:5
  3. Journal your thoughts, feelings, and discoveries.
  4. Ask a friend, spouse, or mentor to pray for your specific needs as the Lord guides you toward a greater understanding of your identity.

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Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

The four men encouraged their friend, “We’ve heard of his miracles—healing you will be a simple task.”  Resolute, they hoisted their companion and his bedroll onto their shoulders.  Navigating the crowded streets of Judea without dropping the bundle became increasingly difficult as they neared the house.  Men, women, and children; rich and poor; religious leaders and rebels pushed and prodded to gain access to the one called Rabbi.  There was no more room and no way to get any nearer.

Unless….well, it was a long-shot.  Without hesitation, the men gathered the mat and its contents, maneuvered up the stairs to the roof, and with bare hands ripped each tile from its place.  Finally, they glimpsed him below—there, in the midst of the crowd, preaching.  Would he resent their boldness?  Grow angry at the desperate need of their friend?  Glancing nervously at one another, they slowly lowered the bedroll and the man lying upon it at Jesus’ feet.

Undisturbed by the interruption, Jesus glanced upward and then at the weeping, paralyzed man. “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

Like the paralyzed man and his friends, Jesus calls us to live a life of faith.  We can go boldly before Him, lay our “mat” at his feet, and rest in the knowledge that He will meet our needs.

May we have the faith to come before Him today–expecting to walk away changed.

Scripture for Reflection-“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home. He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.”   Mark 2:11-12

Action Step-Make a list of three concerns or struggles you are managing today.  Pray about them and give them to God–all day long. Consider including the following Bible verse as part of your prayers, but inserting your name in place of the pronouns my and your instead.

And my ( ____________’s) God will meet all your ( _______________’s) needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

Recommended Books

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This is a Christian–one who dares to act as if God tells the truth.”  –Pastor Mark Bates

Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.

His life reads like a Hollywood movie–the culmination of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, forced to seek refuge in a distant land, and then offering his life in place of the soldiers who pierced his hands and feet…suffering for the sins of those who pressed a crown of thorns on his head…pronouncing words of forgiveness to a discarded, frightened man bearing the shame of Golgotha.

But, this is not a child’s fairy tale or a superstitious myth dreamed up to explain the unexplainable.  This is Biblical truth; the great love story of God rescuing His people from that great enemy, Sin. The beautiful giving of His life for those willing to risk belief.

Yet the world threatens to overcome…to overwhelm…to overpower belief.

A young man just beginning to live takes his own life–desperate for relief from consuming depression, a child’s small bones ache from arthritis, a next-door neighbor submits to another round of chemo and hopes she’ll have enough energy to play with her children tomorrow.

But there is a story much bigger than our smaller stories–these lives of struggle and prayer, tears and hope.  It is His story–one recorded for us–that tells of the Lion and the Lamb…the Beginning and the End….the Resurrection and the Life.

And while the world threatens, He promises to give abundant life (John 10:10)

…to provide freedom (John 8:36)

…and to love us with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3).

I dare to believe–to act as if what God says is true. Won’t you? Let us encourage one another to hold to our faith, dear Friend, even when we doubt.

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