9.17.2015

When It Feels Better to Blame Someone Else

You want to know one of the hardest three-word statements to make? “I am wrong.”

It’s so easy to point out wrong in others. It’s so easy to want it to be someone else’s fault. It’s so easy to get critical and cynical and caught up in our limited perspectives.

But boy is it hard to see our own flaws. Where we went wrong. What we need to own.

I’ve been challenging myself on this. I recently had to correct one of my children for trying to blame someone else for something my child needed to own themselves.

I could clearly see the pride, the insecurity, and the fear all wrapped around her blaming words. And why could I see it so clearly?

Because it’s always easier to spot in other people. But when I see pride in others, that’s the exact moment where I must challenge myself to examine my own heart.

In most conflicts I have two ways I can choose to travel:

The Path of Pride: I can blame the other person, focus only on their flaws and refuse to own my part of it. That response will increase my pride and decrease the Lord’s blessing in my life.

The Humble Way: I can honestly assess what I’m contributing to this conflict, admit where I went wrong and ask for forgiveness. That response will lead to humility and increase the Lord’s blessing in my life.

I see this principle woven throughout the Bible:

James 4:6b, “That is why Scripture says: God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (NIV)

Proverbs 29:23, “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” (NIV)

Matthew 23:12, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (NIV)

I know this. I believe this. So, why do I still find it hard to implement sometimes?

Well, here’s where my head wants to go when I start examining certain conflicts: But what if it really isn’t my fault? It’s not fair to assign the blame with me when this person did this and this and this.

But that’s the wrong direction to go. Don’t try to assign the blame. Just own the part you brought into the conflict. When I approach conflict with a heart of humility, I’ve yet to see where I haven’t added something to the issue.

And if the other person doesn’t own their issues — the Lord will deal with them. (See the verses above.)

There are gifts hidden in the tough stuff of conflict. There is grace and honor to be gained. But I’ll only see those gifts if I stop blaming others and start examining myself.

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6.9.2015

When I Want to Be Mean

I looked at the text message in complete disbelief. Why couldn’t this person see how insensitive and hurtful she was being?

I don’t know who made up the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Either they had nerves of steel, or they lived on a deserted island with no other people. Because not only do words hurt me but they make me want to fight back and be mean, too.

Have you ever had a little situation with someone where you just knew you were right and they were wrong? Or at least you could make a really good case for your side of things?

Oh how I have this burning need to state my case in these kinds of situations. It’s like an inner attorney rises up desperate to defend my rights and get the other person to see things my way. This is pretty normal, right?

Yes. But normal doesn’t always mean good. Especially in light of Colossians 2:6-7, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

I should live rooted in Jesus’ teaching and overflow with thankfulness. The opposite of this is when I’m rooted in self-centered opinions and overflowing with grumbling. I need to let God show me how to see things from this other person’s side and gain a different perspective. In doing so, I will be strengthened and taught.

Colossians 3:12-14 reminds me, “… as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (NIV).

My job isn’t to fix this person or make them see my side of things. My job is to obey God by offering an extension of the forgiveness I’ve been given. But I can also stay healthy in this situation by remembering forgiveness doesn’t mean giving this person access in my life that sets me up for destructive patterns.

Finally, Colossians 3:17 reminds me, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (NIV).

Everything I do and say tells a story of whom I serve. If I act out of anger and spite, I give in to the ways of the enemy, spreading his darkness. If I honor the Lord with my actions, I serve to further the Name of Jesus and spread His light.

At the end of the day, honoring God leads to good things. Anything else leads to confusion, emotional exhaustion and a lack of good things.

I processed the text message mentioned above with my husband. He said something that brought much clarity. “Lysa, you know when you’ve taken the high road, God blesses you. You’ve seen these blessings over and over as you’ve made choices that honor God. So choose a blessing today and save yourself the emotional turmoil of trying to prove you’re right.”

He’s a smart man.

I know this isn’t easy stuff. I’m having to live it in the midst of feeling hurt. But I’m also feeling more at peace being able to see another perspective — a healthier perspective — a Biblical perspective. And I’m really excited about the blessings that are surely coming my way.

Dear Lord, You know the hurtful words and actions that have come my way. Please give me Your strength to not retaliate, but instead to react based on Your Truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

unglued_cover Gain a deep sense of calm by responding to situations out of your control without acting out of control with my book Unglued. You can get your copy here.

Today I’m giving away 5 copies of Unglued! Leave a comment below telling me one way you’ll choose to take the high road this week.

4.23.2015

Hope When Mother’s Day is Hard

Last year, I received many heartbreaking comments from women who were really struggling with Mother’s Day. Just the mention of the holiday stirred up deep hurt over infertility, adoption, and singleness. That’s why I asked my friend Holley Gerth to guest post today. She understands that deep hurt from her own journey with infertility, and I just love how she can shine a light into what can be a really dark place. Here’s Holley…

The single pink line on the pregnancy test mocked me from the bathroom counter. “You’ll never be a mother,” it seemed to whisper.

I sighed and dropped it into the trash—along with the hope it represented. Then I sat down on the edge of my bed and placed my head in my hands. “God,” I whispered, “Why does this have to be so hard?”

That scenario repeated itself for years in my life.

And then my heart began to slowly, unexpectedly heal as God changed my perspective on motherhood. A turning point came as I read the third chapter of Genesis one morning. In it Eve is called “the mother of all living.” In that moment God seemed to whisper this truth to my heart: All women are mothers. Because all women bring life to the world in some way.

We encourage. We feed bellies and hearts. We nurture dreams. We create beauty. We birth books. And, yes, some of us also have physical children. But that’s not the only way to bring life into this world—it’s one of many.

I am not barren,” I began to tell myself, “I am blessed.

I realized I brought life into the world through my words. I was a mother. Embracing that truth gave me new hope and helped fill the hollow space in my heart.

Years later I sat in my living room watching a documentary on kids who age out of the foster system. The narrator explained when these children turn eighteen they’re often simply told, “You’re on your own.” The story touched me deeply and when people asked if we’d considered adoption I started answering, “If I adopt, I’ll choose a twenty-year old.”

One time when I gave the response above a friend of mine asked, “Have you heard of Saving Grace?” It turned out a transitional living home for foster girls aging out of the system was being started right there in my town. I connected with the founder, Becky Shaffer, and when I told her my dream she didn’t look at me like I was crazy.

Although our lives were busy, Becky and I stayed in touch. The week of my thirty-sixth birthday she invited me to attend a banquet celebrating the accomplishments of the girls living at Saving Grace. God had impressed on my heart that my word for the next year of my life was to be love. And the night of the banquet I met my daughter: Lovelle.

How old was she? Twenty, of course.

Over the last year and a half we’ve become a family. She calls me “Mom” and my husband “Dad.” It turns out she’s a writer, speaker and dreamer too—which neither of us knew when we first connected. Those gifts were buried under years of abuse, surviving and even being homeless. But now they’re blooming like a sunflower. She married a wonderful guy in January so we now have a “son” too.

Do I know why I went through years of infertility or why Lovelle spent so much time without a family? No … and I won’t in this life. But I do know this: God is a relentless Redeemer. He took all the hurt we experienced and transformed it into joy we never expected.

God was not ignoring us. He was not overlooking our hearts. He was not holding out on us while giving everyone else what was good. Instead He was working the entire time to bring us to His very best.

Mother’s Day can be painful. Perhaps like me you’re in the middle of infertility. Or you might be pursuing an adoption that’s more difficult than you foresaw. Maybe you’re single and wondering if having the family you dream of is even possible. Wherever you are today, I want to whisper this to you … God is with you and He is for you. He will not leave the true desires of your heart unfulfilled; the answers just may look different than you planned.

All those single pink lines on pregnancy tests turned out to be lines in a love story. And I wouldn’t alter God’s ending for anything.

Lovelle & Holley

(Holley Gerth is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author, encourager and life coach. She’d love to have coffee with you. Until then, you can find her here or subscribe to her free devotionals. You can read Lovelle’s blog here.)

 

If you can relate to Holley’s post today, you’ll love her books! Today we’re giving away 5 bundles of What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days, and a necklace from the Proverbs 31 Ministries Faith collection.

Read the book for encouragement. Wear the necklace as a reminder that we can trust and believe in our faithful God.

HGbookandnecklace

To be entered to win, leave a comment below with how this post encouraged you.