Celebrating Rediscovered’s second year!


Hello friends!

Rediscovered just officially celebrated its second birthday! Honestly, we can’t believe it. We are so grateful for this blog, for each other — the Rediscovered team and all of our guest writers – and for you, the Rediscovered community and readers. We are so honored to be able to seek out and speak the truth with all of you.

We’re going to celebrate our second birthday the same way we celebrated our first: a break from new posts and from social media (mostly) during the month of September and then an awesome blow out virtual birthday party on October 1st (more details to come)!

During our break in September, we’ll not only be adjusting to some changes in our personal lives (new jobs, new master’s degrees and two new babies on the way!), but we’ll also be making some major changes on the website. The blog will be “under construction” during the month of September, and we cannot wait to reveal our new look on October 1st. We hope you’ll love it as much as we do.

So we hope you’ll look back through the archives this month and maybe even work on a post of your own to send to us. We’ll miss you, but we’ll see you at our birthday party, October 1st!

Love,
Whitney, Erin, Melissa & Rachel


stop weightingThe sun was beating down. I was sunburned. And plump. My shirt clung to all the wrong places, my hair was frizzing and my makeup sweat-smudged. Not really the way I had wanted to meet the producers of The Biggest Loser TV show; not what you’d call putting your best-foot-forward. Then again, I guess I wasn’t really good enough to have a life-changing experience on a famous TV show anyway, right?

Wrong.

That train of thinking was one of the main lies Satan had told me and I had chosen to believe.

“You’re not good enough …”

It was the lie I had told myself in every lonely moment, when no one would hang out with me, and I turned to food. It was the lie I accepted every time I started another “get-fit-quick” diet and decided to give up two weeks later. It was the lie I told myself every time my husband or family tried to approach the painful subject with me. And to top it all off, I accepted an even greater lie … “Nothing I can do will change it.”

Rewind the tape of my life to 2009 and you’ll see a swimmer with eyes on Olympic gold. You’ll see a young woman with her eyes on Christ first, family second, work third and boyfriends an, “If that’s what you want Lord.” My priorities were in order, I had dreams and goals and passions, and I was willing to do whatever it took to achieve them. And over-all, it was always about putting Christ first.

Many women grow up overweight. Others grow up thin, but the weight comes on quickly later in life. Regardless of whether you have struggled with weight your entire life or only a few years, carrying around not just the physical baggage, but also the emotional and spiritual baggage, can be devastating to our sisters-in-Christ spirits.

We see thin women everywhere. We hear people’s concerns and complaints, we see (and probably try) multiple fad diets that may work for a while but then fail in the end and leave us heavier than when we started. It’s a vicious cycle. And it’s a spiritual disease.

That weight on the outside is usually only a physical symptom of the illness of our hearts on the inside. Let me encourage you, sisters, you are not doomed to be this way. No matter what our culture preaches about “accepting curves,” I know how it feels to honestly not be happy with yourself.

Why is that?

Search deep. Make yourself find that day, or series of days, where you finally decided that “I’m not good enough.” If you were raised over-weight, when was the day when you had the realization, “I can’t change this because of (insert excuse here)”?

It’s the moment where you let yourself give up, but didn’t turn to God to carry you. That moment is the moment you need to sacrifice to God the most. It’s the moment you need to allow your Savior to be who He is and rescue you. It’s time to let Him carry you.

Our God doesn’t see us as “works in progress,” mere scraps of broken pots with no potential to be great. He sees us as masterpieces. Scratched, cracked and stained by sins committed by and to us, but covered as Holy in Christ. He loves us and will, if allowed, fill cracks and holes with His image and love, paint over stains and blemishes with His blood and righteousness, and in the end present us to His Son as a bride more beautiful than any bride in history. And in that moment, He will show that what Satan intended to break and destroy, He has only strengthened and refined. We are beautiful to Him.

I did not make it onto the Biggest Loser. I came home and filmed a video for them, explaining why I needed their help to make this change, and one question shattered everything that had held me bound for so long.

“Why do you want to do this, and do not say ‘to lose weight, be healthy, or because I need the money.”

Why?

My answer astounded me. “I want to finally be good enough for myself.”

1st Weigh-InLike many women I worked hard for approval from family and friends, even from God. I ate when I was stressed, lonely, sad or had accomplished something that made me feel I needed an award. Thus, I went from a 95 lb., size zero swimmer in 2009 to a 249 l., size 22 swim Coach in 2012 – only three years.

You can find many reasons to inspire weight loss, but none of them hold fast in a trial as hard as losing weight if you do not do it for yourself through Christ.

I came home from the audition, decided I had the nutritional and fitness knowledge to pursue this on my own, and that I was ready to give my life back to God and be the me He sees, loves and created.

To solidify my commitment I launched a public challenge. For every 10 pounds I lose between May 4, 2014, (249 lbs) and the St. Jude marathon on December 6, 2014, I aim to raise $100 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I track my journey publicly, the ups and downs, the successes and failures, to inspire others.

You don’t need a fad diet, to kill yourself in the gym, or to meet somebody else’s standards for your weight loss. Some people will criticize you. Remember why you’re doing this. Seek a doctor’s assistance, discuss a plan that’s right for your body, and stick with it. You can do this!

Eat well, make small permanent changes that you can live with. Avoid non-realistic diets that can’t be permanent like low-carb, no-sugar, etc., unless you need to do so for medical reasons. Find a support group (even if it’s small) and be open and accountable. Stay in the Word daily, pray often and share your journey with others to help encourage and lift them up as well.

Make the journey about stewarding your body well. You were given it, so work and pray to make it a grateful sacrifice to God. He created you for a purpose. Don’t let emotion, temptation and lies become the rulers.

As of today writing this article I am down to 211.5 pounds, 37.5 lbs gone since May 4! I have reclaimed the purpose I lost, the passions I’d forgotten, and the life I had quit living. 2nd Weigh-In

You were made for so much more than existing, you were made to live, and live life abundantly! If I can do this, a 249-lb. swim coach who’d lost herself to depression and sin, YOU can do this through the power of our Father! Don’t give up!

May God richly bless you and give you His desires and passions for your life,

— Kat

Coach Katherine Bowen is a 26-year-old swim coach from Memphis, TN. She is currently studying to take the ACE (American Council on Exercise) Personal Trainer Certification test with a weight-loss specialization. Her goal is to help other over-weight women become healthy and happy, both inside and out. She has been married to her high-school sweetheart and best friend since 2011, & has one fur-child, a calico cat.

You can follow Coach Kat’s personal weight-loss challenge supporting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by following her on Facebook (Coach Kat’s Challenge of Epic Proportions) or by going to her blog.

Time to stop weighting


ask rediscoveredThis week we’re highlighting another Ask Rediscovered question. None of our team felt quite equipped to answer, so our friend Delena is offering her perspective.

“I’d just like your thoughts on single life in general. A lot of times I struggle with knowing there’s nothing wrong with being single for life if that’s God’s plan for me. I’ve known several 90+ year-olds who were single all their lives. Some were Christians, others weren’t. With that generation you would think, “Wow! They will have great insight into these doubts and questions I have,” but unfortunately all I have been able to glean from them is it just never happened or how bad men were to them personally. I’d just like to hear from someone who could share more about the single, older life.”

 

Dear Reader:

“Why aren’t you dating? Surely, the guys are all after you?”

“So, when are you getting married?”

“You’re not getting any younger.”

“What about kids? Don’t you want children?”

And then there’s my all-time favorite … “Are you a lesbian?”

These are things I hear often, especially from family. I’m 27, single, childless and PAINFULLY aware of it. In today’s society (at least in small town Texas), it’s expected to be married by 22 or 23 and a mother soon after. When you don’t fit that mold, people don’t know how to respond. It’s as if something is wrong with you; you’re not ‘doing’ life right.

Just like some – and I’d venture to say most – I find myself worrying often (especially after someone brings my singleness to my attention as if I wasn’t already aware).

Am I broken?

Is something wrong with me?

What have I done wrong; why doesn’t any guy want me?

Then I remember — God is going to take care of me. He always takes care of me. It doesn’t mean it will be easy. The Christian life, if you’re living it biblically, shouldn’t be. It will be tough, you’ll be discouraged, and you’ll question your own path. You just have to stay focused on God.

Will I be single the rest of my life? Has God called me to a life of singleness? I don’t know. God hasn’t told me. God told me to work; He told me to be there for my youth (I’m a youth worker at my church) as an example and a friend. I’m doing what He says. At this time, He sees fit for me to be single. And it makes sense.

1 Corinthians 7:32-35 says, “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but He’s called me to serve Him, to be a holy example to people.”

And like 1 Corinthians says, my attentions are not divided. I’m focused. I’m not saying people should never get married. I just personally believe God has called me to singleness at this time. I think everyone has a period in their life that God sees it best to be single. Whatever the length, know that you’re never alone. He’s there, and so are we. There are many of us out here who are single. We’re not pariahs, we’re not weird and we’re not broken. We’re right where God wants us to be in order to promote His will and glory and to secure our undivided devotion to the Lord.

Love,

Delena and the Rediscovered team

If you have a question you’d like to ask Rediscovered, we’d love to answer it or find someone who can. Find us on Twitter, Facebook, shoot an e-mail to rediscoveredblogATgmailDOTcom or Chat With Us.

 

 

 

*photo credit Britney@BareTribeBlog

Called to Singleness


step out pictureHello Friends!

Running this blog is one of the greatest joys of our lives. Seriously. We love to see our sisters lay down their baggage, shut out the lies, and start believing the truth about God, themselves, others, and the world around them.

We love hearing stories like that, but we’re not naive enough to think that a few blog posts on our part can bring about all the change that needs to happen in this area.

That’s where you come in. You are surrounded by women everyday who are carrying around their own baggage. You’re probably surrounded by younger women who haven’t accumulated that baggage yet, but will in the future unless someone intervenes.

We want you to intervene. Because you have something to say, something to share, and something to offer to the sisters in your life who look a lot like you used to. We want you to mentor these girls and teach them the truth about God, themselves, others, and the world around them.

And we want to help, which is why we’re offering you this Discipleship/Bible Study curriculum, Step Out, that our co-creator Erin King has written. It was written for her discipleship group of preteen/young teen girls to encourage them to learn the truth and to step away from the world, toward Christ, and into a life that matters.

We so much want you to pour into the lives of younger girls that we are offering this curriculum completely free of charge.

It’s all in there: an introduction, learning activities, the Bible Studies themselves, and weekly devotional notebooks for your girls. Check it out for yourself! You can always find our curriculum button on the side of our page and once you’re there, follow the link to our Step Out curriculum.

We hope you’ll use it and we always hope to help you as you live life well and lead others to do the same.

Love, Rediscovered

 

Introducing Rediscovered Original Curriculum


lingerieWe recently received this question from a reader and are posting it with her permission. We thought many of you might benefit from the discussion as well.

I would love your thoughts on lingerie. I brought some on my honeymoon, but it has been in my dresser since. I find it sort of degrading, truthfully and confusing. Our Christian culture emphasizes modesty, which has its place, but it almost feels like [after marriage I am] expected to transform into someone I was told I shouldn’t be. I like to dress nicely, but lingerie feels so weird to me. I would love to know your thoughts!

Dear Reader,

Great question on a topic that is confusing and embarrassing for so many women. You are definitely not the only one who has dealt with this.

For the first few years of marriage (and probably beyond that) the details of sex can be confusing and overwhelming at times. For starters, we’ve all had lies about sex hurled at us from TV, movies, magazines and even the church. We’ve all been told what’s sexy and what’s not. And we all have to deal with our expectations vs. our husband’s expectations when it comes to sex.

Then, for those of us who’ve grown up in a conservative Christian culture, things can get even trickier. All throughout middle and high school we’re taught

Wait for sex. Wait for sex. Wait for sex.

Girls especially are taught

Modesty. Modesty. Modesty.

So you’re right. We feel like all of a sudden, in one day, in the span of a couple of hours, we’re supposed to flip a switch and all of a sudden become sex animals. Totally cool with showing cleavage. We’re supposed to know how to do everything and know how be “sexy” and know what’s true and what’s not about sex. We’re supposed to be cool with edible underwear and push up bras and itchy lace.

You rightly pointed out … it doesn’t happen like that.

So what do you do when you’re uncomfortable in the sexy lingerie you’re supposed to be totally cool with?

There’s not one blanket answer for this because there’s a million reasons why different women don’t feel comfortable in lingerie, but I think they mainly fit in two categories. See if either of these sound familiar.

We think being sexy is wrong.

It’s not hard to understand why we would think this growing up in a Christian culture. But God made sex to be good and He made our bodies well.

So, within the boundaries God has set up, it’s good to enjoy sex and it’s good to enjoy feeling sexy. But a deeply engrained mindset that sex is dirty and being sexy is wrong is hard to overcome. Here’s the thing, if you think this may be you — not wanting to wear lingerie because it seems wrong, I would try to work through it. Not because lingerie itself is so important, but because you could be holding yourself back from enjoying your sexuality because of unneeded guilt, and believing a lie that’s hurting you and your spouse.

Lots of girls enjoy lingerie and find it makes them feel good, confident and sexy. Others try it and decide it’s just not their thing. If that’s you, cool. But you owe it to yourself to try it.

Honestly, yes, some lingerie is degrading and it’s good to stay away from anything that makes you feel degraded. But showing off your body in a way that makes you feel comfortable to yourself and your husband shouldn’t be a degrading thing, and I know that’s a hard lesson to learn in light of our modesty, churchy subculture.

So take baby steps. Find something you’re comfortable in and wear it once. Try something more modest at first if it makes you feel more comfortable. Pray about it, (because God cares about this stuff) and talk to your husband and maybe a friend about it. Sexy means different things to different people. It can be as simple as a cute night-shirt and shorts, or as elaborate as a white, lacy, satin wedding-night ensemble. Your husband can also offer his opinion on what he loves to see you in and what makes both of you feel comfortable together.

We think being sexy is a static thing.

You are a unique individual. Your husband is a unique individual. Your marriage will be unlike any one else’s marriage and your sex life will be unlike any one else’s sex life. The truth is your sexuality should reflect you, because it is a part of you. God created you including your sexuality. Unfortunately, we’ve grown up in a culture that doesn’t celebrate that in the context the Bible lays out for us, and where “sexy” is a static thing — wearing and doing and saying certain things.

Honestly, I think a lot of girls are uncomfortable with lingerie (and maybe sex in general) because they’re trying to express themselves sexually in a way that is completely unlike them. And rightly so. If you’ve waited to have sex until marriage, everything is completely foreign to you. Even if you have had previous partners, sex with your husband will be new and what you wear and experience with him will be new.

Not all girls are black silk and lace type girls. And not all men prefer that.

Find out what feels sexy to you, even if you wouldn’t see it at Victoria’s Secret. Find underwear and bras that feel sexy to you and wear them just for yourself. And find a way to feel comfortable letting your husband in on your struggle. Be vulnerable with him and let him help you feel comfortable in your own skin. Find out what your husband finds sexy, and chances are, there will be some overlap in what the two if you like. First of all, because you’re married, so you obviously connect on other levels. Also, because when you feel sexy, it will show. What makes you feel sexy is sexy.

And the truth is, that’s different for everyone. Just like we all like different styles of clothes, just like some girls like dressing up and others prefer to stay in their sweats. That’s all up to you and it’s between you and your husband and no one else. There are no Victoria’s Secret models in your bedroom. No old Sunday school teachers or pastors or members of the modesty police.

Find what works for you and your marriage and make your own definition for sexy.

Love,
Rediscovered

 

If you have a question you’d like to ask Rediscovered, we’d love to answer it or find someone who can. Send us your question at rediscoveredblog AT gmail DOT com. Or submit a question anonymously on the Chat with us page.

Ask Rediscovered: Thoughts on Lingerie


hospitalityHospitality is my jam.

I always tell people if they really want to have a better understanding of where the Spirit has gifted them, they’ll learn more from asking the people closest to them than they will from a Spiritual gifts assessment. As for me, I’ve had more than a few friends and Spiritual gift assessments tell me that hospitality is my jam. And I can tell that it is. Hospitality is what makes me come alive. Unfortunately, it’s not talked about much in the church except in the context of bridal teas and new recipes and basically anything to do with homemaking skills.

I’ve always felt talk of hospitality is akin to taking an Emily Post course where you should get the cleanness of your house, the decor, the food, etc, all perfect. And then the whole Spiritual aspect is tied into everything, so if things aren’t perfect, it kind of makes you not as good of a Christian woman.

Which is why, since the days of Martha, hospitality has stressed out a lot of women (including yours truly). And being stressed out is not a spiritual gift. If it were, it’d be a really sucky one.

So I began to look into the ministry of hospitality, and how to practice it without moving into the ministry of being stressed out. In doing so, I figured out a few lies we believe about hospitality.

1. Hospitality is primarily about cooking and cleaning

We need to get out of the mindset that hospitality primarily means the aforementioned bridal teas, a clean house and a spare bedroom. Not that those things aren’t important, but hospitality is so much more than that. Hospitality means opening up our lives, and by extension, our homes, cars, and anything else we own. It means friends know they can come over whenever they need to, not just when something is planned and we are prepared. It might mean providing a couch to sit on, a shoulder to cry on, an honest conversation, watching a movie, or giving someone a ride. It might mean warmly opening ourselves up to someone and providing whatever they need.

Jesus affirmed this in the famed Mary and Martha story. Martha was the picture of our idea of “hospitality”: she was working, she was cooking, she was prepared, she was stressed. But Jesus said that Mary chose something better. Martha let Jesus into her home, Mary let Him into her life. This has a lesson for us in how we serve the Lord, but it also speaks volumes about how we should serve our Christian brothers and sisters. Maybe the best thing we can do sometimes is to stop the hostessing and just be with people.

2. Hospitality is a girl thing.

If hospitality is all about a clean house, a nice meal and a nice-smelling bathroom candle, then I can see how people would think that hospitality is a girl thing. In general, girls tend to think more about nice-smelling bathroom candles. But, as we’ve established, hospitality is not primarily about cooking and cleaning.

Aaron and I decided early on, before we were married, that his ministry is my ministry, and my ministry is his. Hospitality comes naturally for me, but my strength is Aaron’s strength, so we work together on it. Whether it’s in the big things like being there and talking to people and letting them into our lives, or in the smaller things, like the cooking and cleaning for our guests, we do it together. And I can’t even begin to say how thankful I am to have a husband like that.

I know I’ve already mentioned bridal teas twice, and this will be the last time, so listen up. We Christian women have let bridal teas, etc. hijack the notion of hospitality. Now the whole concept seems kind of girly and frilly and over the top. But we’re all called to practice hospitality in all kinds of different ways, no matter who we are, what our gifts are, or what our gender is.

3. Hospitality means a perfect house

It’s all well and good to clean up before company, to prepare a nice meal for a planned event, or to fix up the guest room, but by the very nature of Christian hospitality, we might not always have that luxury. Or we may not always have the nicest house or the nicest things. To me, the essence of true hospitality is saying, “I may not have much, but anything I have is yours.”

This simplicity is reflected in the Bible as well. Jesus talks about giving someone in need a cup of cold water, Rahab hid Hebrew spies on her roof underneath some grain. Other heroes of our faith like Abraham, Lydia and Zaccheus were quick to offer whatever they had at the drop of a hat. The Bible shows they took this responsibility seriously, but they didn’t wait until everything was in order and a future date was planned to offer food and shelter to someone in need.

We should strive to give our best to others, knowing in serving others, we are also serving Christ, but if we wait to offer hospitality until things are just right, we are missing our Christian calling. I can’t possibly voice this better than Lauren Winner in Mudhouse Sabbath* so I won’t even try.

“I probably shouldn’t have curdling milk in the fridge if I’m inviting someone over for tea, and it might be nice if I emptied the kitchen trash can and didn’t leave dirty clothes all over the bathroom floor. But to be a hostess, I’m going to have to surrender my notions of Good Housekeeping domestic perfection. I will have to set down my pride and invite people over even if I have not dusted … If I wait for the immaculate, I will never have a guest … We are not meant simply to invite people into our homes, but also to invite them into our lives. Having guests and visitors, if we do it right, is not an imposition, because we are not meant to rearrange our lives for our guests – we are meant to invite our guests to enter into our lives as they are.”

 

Whatever you have to offer, offer it. You may be offering it to Jesus without even knowing it.

Erin

* For the best discussion on hospitality I’ve ever read, you really will want to check out this book!

Three lies we believe about hospitality


june finds of the monthBanana Dippers by Dole — This is the perfect snack for the summer. Frozen banana slices covered in dark chocolate. The best part is only 100 calories a pack! This is definitely a favorite in my house. — Rachel

The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness by  Kevin DeYoung — I read this book this past week and found it very thought-provoking. Sometimes as believers I think it is easy to forget how we are also called to be holy as Christ is holy. This book talks a great deal about holiness and obedience and the place it should have in the life of a Christian. Definitely a book to add to your summer reading list! —Rachel

Love this prayer from St. Francis of Assisi. We’d all do well to pray like this more. — Erin
st francis
Cannot overstate the amazingness of this iced coffee recipe from the Pioneer woman. It has saved me a lot of money (instead of going to coffee shops) and probably a few calories as well. — Erin

I could not stop laughing at this article — “When Suits Become a Stumbling Block: A Plea to my Brothers in Christ.” It’s a pretty spot on satire of the fact that our modesty teachings have gotten a little out of control. — Erin

Finds of the Month — June


leaving bitternessThey will know us by our love. You may have heard this multiple times in church or even in hymns. This saying is found in John 13:35 when Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (ESV)

This is a verse that is often used to describe Christians. But consider these questions:

·      How many of us have heard this said in church?
·      How many believe this to be true today?
·      How does the church demonstrate this as the body of Christ?
·      How do individual Christians demonstrate this?
·      Do people know we are Christians because we love the poor, speak up for injustice and care for the orphan and widow?
·      What about loving our enemies?
·      What are we as Christians known for?
·      Are we known for the love we show to others?
·      Do we really love like Jesus loved?
 
For me, as a believer, love comes naturally. It flows from me and I am filled with compassion for those less fortunate, for the poor, the wealthy, the abused, broken and the prostitute. But I struggle to love those who have hurt me.

I have felt emotionally betrayed many times by people I have trusted and respected. Betrayed by coworkers, friends, teachers and classmates. What do I do? I walk away. I wallow in bitterness. I think about everything they did wrong and I did right. I harbor ill-feelings and sometimes think about it for days and weeks afterwards.

I am one of those people who internalize and rehash situations in my head. This seems like a natural reaction.

But the truth is …
Bitterness will eat you up inside. Bitterness will destroy a person from the inside out. I like the way Joanna Weaver put it in her book titled, Having a Mary Spirit: Allowing God to Change Us from the Inside Out: “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

Bitterness does more harm to the person who is feeling bitter than the person who did the wrong. By harboring bitterness we are in fact poisoning ourselves.

So what should we do?

I believe a person should forgive, and if you are a Christian, you are called to forgive even more so.

Recently, I read a book entitled, Amish Grace How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy. It’s a book about forgiveness. The author analyzes the Amish concept of forgiveness after the schoolhouse shooting in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. In short, a man entered a one-room schoolhouse with a gun, took hostages and killed five young Amish girls before turning the gun on himself.

And what did the Amish do? They forgave. They became friends with the family of the gunman. They even attended support groups and get-togethers with the family for years after. The author of the book interviewed many Amish who said that they were angry and sad. But they live by Matthew 6 when Jesus says we must forgive. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (ESV).

They CHOSE forgiveness even when nothing made since. They chose to love those whom the world would deem enemies.

And we must do the same. It is hard, but as Christians we are called to love and to forgive.

Forgiveness is not an easy task. The best way I have learned to forgive and to love my enemies is to pray. Jesus told us to pray for our enemies. So, how does prayer fit in?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (Matthew 5:43-46, ESV)

Jesus instructed us to pray for those who persecute us. And with that instruction comes a promise. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, SO THAT you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”

Jesus promised if we love our enemies then we would surely be His children. They will know us by our love.

You will find if you begin to pray for those who have hurt you, betrayed you or abused you, slowly but surely your bitterness will melt away. It could take weeks, months or even years but our God is a God who will give us the power to forgive as He forgave us. He will renew your mind, take away the bitterness and fill you with compassion. God is faithful to His children.

So what are we called to do?

1.     Forgive as Christ Forgave us. (Matthew 6:14-15)
2.     Pray for our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-46)
3.     Let go of bitterness and love. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32, ESV)

So will they know us by our love and forgiveness? Or will they know us by our hatred and ability to hold a grudge?

Rachel

Called to Forgive: Leaving Bitterness Behind


conflictSo far, 2014 seems to be the year of conflict. One thing after another has brought about some measure of conflict in my life. From family to friends to marital conflict, I’ve been a part of it all.

Here’s the deal, I hate conflict. I will do anything to avoid conflict. Conflict makes me uncomfortable, causes me to question my opinions, and threatens to hurt relationships. All of which are quite unpleasant to a people-pleaser like myself. For months I have asked myself and God, “what is wrong with me?” and “Why do I have to deal with all this?”. As God often does, He quietly spoke to my heart telling me He has placed me in this season for a reason and a purpose. So, after many a tear, I’ve decided to allow God to teach me a few things through conflict. Many of these principles I have learned from two books: Unglued by Lysa Terkurst and Walking Wisely by Charles Stanley.

1. Conflict can strengthen relationships

I specifically speak of marriage conflict, but I believe this can apply to other close relationships as well. My husband and I have had some knock out yelling matches, which is nothing I like to admit. Although in the midst of the conflict we both said things we shouldn’t have, at the end we came to a deeper understanding of one another. In the past five months I have learned more of what my husband needs from me through our conflict.  It is better to view conflict as an opportunity to grow deeper with a person rather than a negative experience.  Conflict does not have to be negative, it can be beneficial.

2. Some conflict may require healthy boundaries

I have unfortunately been thrust into a situation of conflict out of my control.  I’ll spare you the messy details, but I was accused of wrongdoing where there was none, lied about and verbally abused. In this case I followed wisdom I received from others.  After completing this suggested plan, I highly suggest this approach.

First, seek forgiveness and reconciliation from anything done wrong on your part. Extended hope and relationship repair for the future. If a lack of willingness to repair the relationship continues from the other person, which in my case it did, establish healthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries are yours to decide, but here are a few ideas. Limit conversations for a set amount of time, limit conversations for an indefinite amount of time, limit personal alone time spent together, or have a set plan for how to respond to circumstances that arise.  Let the other party know what the boundary will be, why it is in place, and offer one more chance at reconciliation. Hopefully at this point reconciliation will be the winning option, but if not, stick with the boundary.

This type of conflict is not ideal, and is in no way fun. The most important thing is to make sure you have emptied yourself and sought forgiveness for any wrong doing on your part. After that, there is a time to protect yourself and your family, which is where healthy boundaries are a great option.

3. There are healthy and unhealthy ways to approach conflict: Stuffers and Exploders

Stuffers tend to be passive aggressive, and push everything down to fester until one day it explodes like a volcano. Stuffers will allow conflict to fester for months before exploding. When doing this, the conflict turns into a much bigger issue than it would have if dealt with at the time of origin.

Exploders just explode at any conflict and lose rational control. Emotions take over an exploder, preventing them from working through conflict positively.

Both don’t work. Exploders don’t take the time to stop and think about how to respond, they just respond in a destructive way. I myself am an exploder.  I can’t hold it in, I lose the rational and calm side of myself, and become someone I don’t like being.  I don’t claim to be an expert on conflict but I have gained a few nuggets of wisdom on how to handle conflict in a healthy way.

  • Approach conflict after prayer. Ask God if you should discuss this, or if you need to work on your own heart.
  • Ask God to give you an opportunity to approach the topic of conflict.
  • Approach conflict with a desire to change/apologize yourself.
  • Be honest in conflict. Don’t hold anything back that could be brought up later.
  • Yelling only begets more yelling. Stay calm.

I don’t believe I have this conflict thing figured out. I still have a long way to go in changing my human habits when dealing with conflict.  I am thankful, however that God is changing me from the inside out in an area I never expected. It’s good to know God is working on me; that He hasn’t and will never give up.  When dealing with conflict, hang in there, seek Godly wisdom, and know God will use it to mold you.

 

Tips for handling conflict


photocopyIt was 7:00 that Saturday morning when I saw the little positive sign for the first time. I grabbed another test. It didn’t even take a full minute until I saw another positive.

I’d been sick off and on for two weeks, just not feeling like myself. I had been too scared to take a test, fearing what I’d find out. And there it was … everything I wasn’t ready for.

I’m pregnant …

See, I’m not the woman who has struggled to get pregnant for years. I’m not the woman who has always known she wanted kids quickly after marriage. And I’m not the woman who wants child after child after child. I’m the woman who wanted as much time with her husband as possible, with as much of my life in my control as I thought possible.

When I saw those positive signs, my only emotion was devastation.

I don’t think any girl hopes or plans to tell her husband she’s pregnant while sobbing, not able to say anything, devastated at the news. But that was me, crying my eyes out at the thought of having a baby, holding the stick like it had attacked me personally.

I always knew someday I would love to have kids. Just one or two, maybe adopt also. But I always had this idyllic scene in my head: my husband and I well-established, married for three or four years, renting or owning a house, school behind us and jobs well under our belts.

None of this was the case that Saturday morning.

We had actually been living with my sister, brother-in-law, 18-month-old nephew and two dogs while my husband searched for employment. He had just graduated, and we were between jobs and applying for doctoral programs. I was still working intake at a doctor’s office and we were about as far away from ready as I could have ever pictured myself.

I struggled for weeks with the thought that I was going to have a baby. That I was going to be pregnant for the next nine months and then have a small human that was mine to keep alive for the next 20+ years; just holding onto hope that you’ve taught it how to follow Christ and leaving most everything up to God. Everything about it terrified me.

During these first few weeks, after announcing our news to close family, friends and co-workers, I was inundated with congratulations and offerings of excitement. And I didn’t want any of it. Every time someone said, “Isn’t it just a miracle?” “Don’t you just love it already?” “That’s amazing! I’m so happy for you!” I just wanted to ball up, holding back tears.

No. It’s not a miracle yet. I can’t say I love it yet. I really don’t think this is amazing at all. But instead, I’m thankful and smile and nod.

I felt so guilty because it wasn’t lost on me that women do struggle with infertility for years, sometimes never reaching their dream of bearing their own children. My own mother was one of those women for eight years and a co-worker, who is now pregnant, tried for 11 years to have children. I see and understand the pain that must come with that type of disappointment month after month for so long.

It also wasn’t lost on me that I have single friends who struggle with the thought that they will never have the opportunity to get married and have children someday. While that may or may not be true, fighting through the emotions and facing the day-to-day reality is difficult for them.

I also realized that some of the same thoughts I judged others for having, I was having myself … “I can’t say I want this baby right now.”

But at some point I stopped feeling guilty and began recognizing that every woman’s story is different. The woman who desperately wants a child and cannot has to face that struggle daily. The woman who never wanted to be single her whole life, but is now in her 50’s or 60’s must wrestle with God in the midst of not understanding His plans. The teenage girl who has no support system, no husband and becomes pregnant to eventually choose or be forced into abortion has to live with her pain and choices.

And the woman who struggles to trust God in the midst of overwhelming, unprepared-for life changes has her own set of idols, fears and insecurities to lie at the foot of the cross. I was that woman.

I found the more I thought about other women’s situations, the more I connected and had the most empathy for the those who choose abortions out of desperation, fear or exasperation. Being pregnant is unlike anything you can ever experience. Not only do you feel as though you have no control over your own body, but my experience (and many other women’s) included weeks upon weeks of sickness, exhaustion, weight loss, trips to the hospital and enough roller coasters of emotion to fill a Six-Flags theme park. I knew very little about being pregnant and I don’t know a lot about living with and taking care of a baby.

If I, a girl with an amazingly supportive family, a precious husband who encourages me and takes care of me, understanding and thoughtful friends, and Christ on my side, can feel abandoned, alone, unsure, terrified, devastated, judged and basically like a lost little girl, how must someone with a life full of the opposite feel? When I think about the feelings I have and then realize how much worse it would be if I didn’t have Christ, it overwhelms me to the point of crying for the women who are in that exact situation.

In these last few weeks God has shown me so much. It was as if, all of a sudden, He said, “Whitney, I’m not doing this to you. I’m doing this for you.” And it’s brought me so much humility, realizing what I was clinging to were my idols of security, comfort and control. It has also brought me a little better sense of understanding and genuine empathy for other women no matter the situation.

Control is tricky and deceitful. If we are happy because we feel we have dealt with the blows of this life relatively well, or judge others who we think haven’t chosen things in their life as well as we have, we need to take a moment to ponder we are never the ones in control. God works all things for His glory and our good. We work nothing for ourselves. If we take comfort in the fact that our lives are exactly the way we’d hoped, we need to be humbled that God would be so generous and pray that He would never let us get too comfortable or self-righteously think we have accomplished these things on our own.

I am 16 weeks pregnant. We will find out the gender of our baby soon, and while I still struggle with the idiosyncrasies of pregnancy and at times the overwhelming thoughts of being completely unprepared for my future life, the constant reminder that God is for me has given me so much peace. In the Gospels, Jesus was rarely understood by even His closest followers, but He never left them, He just kept teaching them, living with them and loving them. Now I can actually say I am falling in love with this little growing baby and we are preparing slowly for its arrival.

While I still have many unsure and anxious days, I’m so grateful for the lessons He is teaching me. My comfort comes from knowing He has shattered my illusion of control and is leading me, sometimes carrying me, the whole way.

“It is no sin to say, my love, that bliss and pain come from above … beware the thought that all is vain, in time, God’s wisdom will be plain.” - The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God, John Piper

 

- Whitney

 

 

 

When God showed me He is for me