Wednesday, August 15

Mean Girls

The plastic seats were green. The desks a dirty beige. The perfect pale color to make pencil marks easy to read. Really easy.

That’s how I saw what was making the group of girls sitting in front of me laugh. They turned to look at me. And then added to Jennifer’s desk art.
It was a frizzy-headed stick figure with huge buck teeth and crazed eyes. I knew even before I saw the name scribbled below, she’d drawn me. Me. An awful caricature of me.

It’s been years since I sat in that green seat with a dirty beige desk. But it hasn’t been years since I’ve had those same feelings of rejection and hurt. Of course, they aren’t from girls drawing pictures. But meanness hurts, no matter what age and no matter how it’s delivered.

You can take girls out of middle school but you can’t take the middle school out of some girls.

If you’ve been hurt in this way, you know what I’m talking about. In Unglued, I talk about the ways stuffers and exploders react. If we’re a stuffer type person, we want to withdraw and get away from the source of our hurt as fast as possible. If we’re more of an exploder person, we want to attack back so they’ll feel as bad as we do.

I’m not proud to say I understand both of these reactions very well.

But here’s where things get a little complicated. Jesus flies in the face of conventional wisdom and says for us to “love our enemies.” What? Are you serious?

Something deep inside us whispers, “Don’t you dare love this person. This situation is the exception.”

Let the internal battle begin.

This is tough stuff.

But what if I were to assure you that Jesus isn’t being cruel or naive in His command for us to love. He’s actually showing us how to get free from the sting of another person’s wounds. When we’re wounded we can either pursue healing by extending love back. Or, we can refuse healing and allow the “rejection infection” to set into our wound.
In our relationships, we have the choice to seek freedom in tough situations by choosing to pursue love instead of hurt. www.lysaterkeurst.com

Here are three things to remember:

The Command

My job isn’t to fix my enemy. My job is to be obedient to God in how I deal with them. “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44).

The Caution

If there is abuse, we must learn to love from afar. How? By forgiving the person that hurt us-releasing their offense into the hands of God. Trusting God to reveal to them their wrong and deal with their actions from here.

But we must always remember forgiveness and restoration don’t have to go hand-in-hand. You can forgive someone but not do everyday life with them. Ask God to give you discernment to know when and how to love from afar.

The Catalyst

So, back to Jennifer and the awful and hurtful pencil drawing. I wish I could go back to that moment and relive it with the knowledge I have now. Jennifer drew that picture because of her own haunting insecurities. And while it’s tough to have compassion for someone who’s hurting us in the moment of rejection, it is possible to have compassion for their obvious hurt. Hurt people, hurt people.

Dig beneath the surface of a mean girl and you’ll find a girl riddled with self-hatred.

Romans 12:20 says, “On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Jennifer was hungry and thirsty for affirmation of any kind. And the only way she could figure out how to get it, was to make those around her laugh at me.

What might have happened if I were to have walked by her desk, leaned in close, and given this desperate girl a drink from the living water? “Jennifer, you are beautiful. Do you know that?”

Not in a million years could I have done that in middle school. But I’m not in middle school any longer.

And now’s a good time to remember that.

Thursday, November 3

The Scribbled Truth that Changed My Life

Welcome to the P31 Encouragement for Today friends… the verses you are looking for are just below.

There was a season of my life that was very dark.  When my baby sister died very tragically and unexpectedly, my entire world flipped upside down.

What I knew to be true suddenly became questionable.

Is God good?  If so, why this?  And if I never know why, how can I ever trust God again?

Hard questions.  Honest questions.  Questions that haunted me.

Until.

One day I got a note from a friend.  A girl I not so affectionately called my “Bible friend.”  She honestly got on my nerves with all her Bible verse quoting.  I wasn’t on good terms with God at that point in my life.  I didn’t want to believe God even existed.  And I certainly wasn’t reading the Bible.

I made all of this very known to my Bible friend.  But in her gentle, sweet, kind way… she kept slipping me notes of truth with gently woven verses tucked within.

And one day, one verse, cracked the dam of my soul. Truth slipped in and split my hard hearted views of life open just enough for God to make Himself known to me.

Jeremiah 29:11

Personally.  Intimately.  Relentlessly.

I held that simple note with one Bible verse scribbled on the front in my hand as the tears of honest need streamed down my cheeks.  My stiff knees bent.  And a whispered “yes God” changed the course of my life.

I will never doubt the power of a simple note again.  Especially when it contains God’s word that will go forth and will accomplish things human reasoning can’t. I love that about God’s word.

If there’s a note you need to send to someone special today, here are some of my favorite Truth Words…

1 John 5:14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

Psalm 34:4 “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. ”

Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

2 Thessalonians 3:5 “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”

Habakkuk 3:19 “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”

Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.”

Micah 6:8 “And what does he Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

Monday, October 24

The Best Worst Thing

I failed at being a wedding planner.

No one wants a planner who gets so undone by the neurotic mother of the bride that she throws up in the parking lot right beside the guest sidewalk.

Really, nothing says, “welcome to my wedding” quite like that.

I failed at being a kitchen gadget saleswoman.

No one wants to see the tip of a thumb sliced off into the veggie pizza at the exact moment I was promising how safe this gadget is.

Awesome.

I failed at being a cafeteria lady at a private school.

My assistant decided her arms were so dry she needed to coat herself with our spray butter.  When we took the trash out later that day, we both got attacked by bees and forgot about the pizza in the oven.

Kids don’t take kindly to burnt pizza.

I failed at being a receptionist.

It’s never a good idea to just succumb to those sleepy afternoon feelings and lay your head down on the desk.

Bosses don’t like workers who snore.  Even if they are pregnant.

Yes, I failed at a lot during those years where I was trying to figure out what to do with my life.  At the time each of these things felt like the worst that could have happened.  Now, I think they were the best worst things.

Had these things been successful, I would have never discovered the joy of being in the ministry I’m in now.

I see this same theme woven throughout many stories in the Bible.

In Matthew 8:23-24 we find Jesus getting into a boat with His disciples. “Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat.”  Worst thing.

But in verse 26 Jesus got up and rebuked the winds and waves and things turned completely calm.  The disciples were amazed.  Best worst thing.

In Acts 5:12 we find the apostles being arrested and thrown in jail.  Worst thing.

But in Acts 5:13 we find an angel of the Lord opening the doors of the jail and bringing them out.  Later we find them with so much confidence they boldly proclaim, “We must obey God rather than men!” (v. 29)  Best worst thing.

I don’t understand why we have to go through cruddy stuff.  And I certainly know there are many worse things to go through then what I’ve mentioned here.

We live in a broken world full of broken people.  But isn’t it comforting to know God isn’t ever broken? He isn’t ever caught off guard, taken by surprise, or shocked by what happens next.
We live in a broken world full of broken people. In our hurting relationships and emotions, isn't it comforting to know God isn't ever broken? www.lysaterkeurst.com

He can take our worst and add His best.  We just have to make the choice to stay with Him and keep following Him through it all.

Even neurotic mothers of the bride who make wedding planners’ stomachs work in reverse- can become best worst things.

After all, she gave me some great examples to pull from nearly 20 years later while writing Unglued.  Oh I kid.  Kind-of.