Please Blink for Children

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. Matthew 7:12 

When his child is hungry

Does Jesus give him something to eat, or

Starve his family so there are less poor people? (Tax cuts for the rich)

 

When his child is thirsty

Does Jesus give her something to drink, or

Pollute her water supply? (Keystone)

When his child is an immigrant (DACA)

Does Jesus invite him in, or

Deport him to land he doesn’t know?

 

When his child needs clothes

Does Jesus buy her clothes, or

Leave her naked in the street? (#MeToo)

 

When his child is sick

Does Jesus make sure he gets proper healthcare (CHIP and ACA)

Or leave him to die?

 

When his child is in prison

Does Jesus come to visit her, or

Forget his child? (criminal injustice)

Matthew 25:31-46

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Healthy Relationships 101: Healthy Farewells

Luke 10_27“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love (Name or Relationship) as yourself.’” Luke 10:27 (NIV)

 Leaving, departing, separating, moving on, moving ahead, and moving away is part of life.  We leave the womb, the hospital and home. We advance in grades and eventually graduate. We leave teachers, mentors and classmates.  We change jobs. We change churches. We meet new people, grow apart from others and lose some to death. We say goodbye to people, pets, places and things.

 

  1. Are you good at saying goodbye? Who taught you how to say goodbye? What puts the “good” in
    bye? Describe your best farewell.

 

 

Our ability or inability to let go is largely related to our personality. Specifically, our ability or inability to change. Change is stressful to almost everyone regardless of personality. Most adapt to the everyday hellos, goodbyes and developmental milestones because change is part of growing but it doesn’t mean everyone is comfortable with change.

 

We are born with a default setting to be either an initiator of change, eager to change, resistant or unable to change. Each has value and purpose. And each can be healthy or unhealthy in saying goodbye. Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-11  

 

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
        a time to tear down and a time to build,
   a time to weep and a time to laugh,
       a time to mourn and a time to dance,

        a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
   a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
  a time to love and a time to hate,
                                            and a time for peace.

 God has made everything beautiful in its time.

 

Individuals unable or resistant to change preserve traditions. They provide consistency and stability. They are loyal and faithful. They put time and effort into mending broken relationships. However, they are also vulnerable to abuse by remaining loyal to unhealthy relationships. It doesn’t make them responsible for the abuse nor does it mean they want to be abused. It simply means change isn’t easy for them and they value relationships.

People who initiate or are eager to change see change as an opportunity. They also value relationships and enjoy making new friends. They may be very good at helping others adjust to change.  And are called to create new ministries in communities of faith. They may be effective at saying goodbye. However they may be impulsive and too quick to abandon relationships.

CAUTION: Toxic people have difficulty making healthy changes and saying goodbye.  Toxic environments breed toxic habits and attitudes which become poisonous.  Don’t tell a toxic person you’re leaving. They won’t take it well. They are extremely fearful of change and any perceived loss of control. They react with violence and destruction.

You will need help, a safety plan and protection to get away. Toxic people make toxic relationships.  Both the victim and the abuser are toxic and need professional intervention.

 

So what is a healthy farewell? Healthy people in healthy relationships have healthy farewells. A healthy farewell is the healthy conclusion to a healthy relationship.

 

  1. How do we know if our relationship is healthy?

 

 

A relationship is healthy when both individuals feel loved and supported.  They know they are loved.  Love is the key ingredient in a healthy relationship. A relationship without love is not healthy.

The most beautiful expression of love is grace, mercy and forgiveness. Healthy people are able to resolve their differences or agree to disagree. Resolving conflict is the gateway to a deeper long lasting love.

Healthy people respect each other.  They appreciate one another’s gifts and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. They communicate.  They spend time together. The relationship works.  It is functional.

 

  1. If a relationship is healthy, why say goodbye? When is it time to say goodbye? How do you know?

Remember, just because a relationship becomes dysfunctional or encounters conflict, doesn’t mean the relationship must end. Conflict is normal and all relationships are dysfunctional because we live in a sinful fallen world. Everyone falls short Romans 3:23. Therefore our relationships fall short.

Dysfunctional relationships can be improved with intervention. But toxic relationships MUST end and both participants need intervention.

Our relationship with God is the only relationship that is always functional.  Even when we fall short, God provides perfect love that heals all wounds and repairs all hurts. We never need to say goodbye to God because we will never find ourselves at a crossroad with God.  Because of our baptism we take God with us everywhere, even into the darkest places of our life. Our relationship with God never needs to end.

As previously noted, there are natural farewells such as when we get married, send our children to school, start a new job or move away. It is time to say goodbye when we find ourselves at a crossroad and our paths must go in different directions.

Like Jonah, Joseph, Moses and all of Jesus’ disciples we may be called to leave our family, friends and community to bring the good news to others.

  1. Describe an unhealthy parting.

 

 

A bad breakup leaves the relationship worse than before they met. The participants are abusive, angry, resentful and cruel.  Bad breakups go on too long.  They guilt each other into staying together when their paths no longer meet.  You know it is a bad breakup when you want to throw a party when they finally leave.

Unless the relationship is toxic, it is not healthy to just disappear without saying goodbye or letting someone know how much they meant to you. Severing a relationship doesn’t make it easier or healthy.  It just ends it.

Seek help if you have trouble saying goodbye especially if your relationship is unhealthy.

Healthy Farewell Tips:Cinderella

Prayer:  God should be involved in all of our relationships form start to finish. Healthy farewells require prayer. We must be in constant prayer before, during and after our farewell.  We pray for our old and new relationships.

Remain Positive: Saying goodbye doesn’t mean there is something wrong with our current relationship or community. We don’t need to look for reasons to end the relationship.  Pointing out their flaws when we’re getting ready to leave is cruel. Everyone is flawed.

Healthy people don’t blame their departure on someone else’s weaknesses.

Read 2 Corinthians 12:9

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

When Jesus told his disciples to “shake the dust off your feet” of the towns that didn’t welcome them it was a call to leave the negative energy behind Luke 9:5.  It wasn’t permission to gossip about them to everyone else.

Separation anxiety and abandonment issues cause unhealthy people to spend too much time comparing new to old relationships. They make the old the villain and the new a hero.  This is particularly true for people changing churches. While their new church may be a much better fit for them, it doesn’t make their old church unhealthy for others.

Celebrating the Tears: Goodbyes hurt because the pain is a testimony of the love we have for one another. Being sad doesn’t mean we are making a bad choice. It simply means we are grieving.

If it isn’t difficult we probably stayed too long.

It is important to share our feelings with those we are leaving.  In each of Paul’s letters in the New Testament, Paul graciously pours out each Church‘s strengths.  Remember to always build one another up.

Stay in the Moment:  It is important to focus on who you are with at the time. No one wants to hear about how great or terrible the “old” boyfriend or girlfriend was. If you really like the way your new partner treats you, focus on what you like about them not what you didn’t like about someone else. And thank them for the things you appreciate.

Time:  Time does heal all wounds.  Grief takes time.  It sends us on an emotional roller coaster. Time doesn’t give closure.  We may never stop missing the people we’ve lost and it is extremely important to know that the bible doesn’t encourage closure in this world.  We yearn to be reunited because Jesus conquered death on the cross and we are promised to be reunited with our loved ones again.

During our journey for love, we are called to make an honest assessment of unhealthy attitudes, beliefs and habits (sin) blocking our relationships.

Sometimes the most peaceful and loving resolution is a healthy farewell. Until we meet again.

Homework: Make a list of the people in your past that you have said goodbye. Make a list of the things you liked about them. Talk to God for these people.

Make a list of the important people in your life now and what you like about each. Talk to God for these people.

“God be with _____, hold him/her, love him/her and give _______ your grace. Thank you for our relationship. Thank you for their gifts of … Amen”

Goodbye

 

No Fair! Coping with Life’s Injustice

Purple UmbrellaBe glad, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. Joel 2:23 NIV

Great verse for Singing in the Rain but I’m not in the mood! I wish I was because it is definitely raining!  The sun is out, there’s a blue sky but my heart is drowning in an Autumn shower.

I’m a whiney, fussy Christian woman whose life isn’t going her way! It has been a very difficult and painful journey. The grief from each loss is a dark cloud that seeps in, chasing all joy and hope away as it surrounds us in its cold, dark hopeless hands.  Life is not fair and I’m in the mood for a major tantrum.

I hate being sad. I can never tolerate it for very long. I feel like I either have to give up, give in; or jump up and run. I pray it will go away.  I beg God to lift this cloud because I just can’t stand the darkness.

I’ve spent a lifetime running from every cloud! I’m always looking for the rainbow, pulling smiles out of my pocket and keeping a stiff upper lip.

And for the most part, I’ve been successful by singing little songs in my head like, “Just keep moving, just keep moving, don’t stop now, you’re almost there…just keep moving, don’t look, it’ll be over soon, just keep moving…” I run to a happy place until the cloud passes but this cloud just doesn’t seem to want to go away!

As I’ve shared in other posts, our daughter was diagnosed with Crohn’s when she was 15 year old. NO FAIR!

Thankfully our daughter seemed validated by the diagnosis and was very accepting as we hit each bump on our way down the diagnosis stairwell. She remained optimistic during treatment, even with the terrible side effects of medications; return of symptoms, invasive tests and with each more aggressive treatment plan.

While the black cloud seemed to pour down on my husband and me, it didn’t seem to be able to catch up with our daughter.

Eight months after she was diagnosed with only three months of relief, she became sick again and we realized she probably was never in remission. NO FAIR!

She started on Remicade infusions, got better but not well enough to finish her last semester and not well enough to return to the classroom. Still she remained optimistic, hoping on-line classes would provide her the flexibility to allow a normal social life.

But her illness refused to cooperate. On-line classes increased her loneliness. Illness prevented her from being involved with her school musical, it prevented her from being part of a theatre competition she had been working towards for two years, from auditioning for other musicals, seeing her friends, getting to church, returning to school…. and the losses just seemed to keep coming. Each day she looked as if she had fallen down another step in her recovery. NO FAIR!

She began to look depressed and act irritable. Her grief became visible. It took on its own form and lurked about our house. NO FAIR!

We got her into therapy and the summer months provided some relief but not enough to allow her a full week back in school.  The black rain cloud shows no sign of going away.  NO FAIR!

It was easier to wrestle with my own rain cloud but I feel extremely ill equipped to wrestle with my daughter’s. Sixteen months later with less than four months of relief, I’m failing at coping with life’s injustices.

I’ve looked through all my notes on coping with loss. I’ve given myself gold stars for making sure I get daily exercise, trying to get plenty of sleep and trying to keep a daily routine.  I list my positives and try to focus on the things I can control. We’ve celebrated every moment of relief and try to create lots of family fun but my coping strategies don’t stop the little black cloud from hovering over my daughter.

I stare at my daughter’s mean ol’ black cloud. I give it nasty, evil looks. I want to wrestle it.  I want to defeat it.  I want to make it go away!  But it is beyond my control!  Argh! How can I help her cope when I’m kicking sand in the sandbox, shaking my fist at God, screeching NO FAIR!?No Fair!

I haven’t posted much because I don’t know what to say.  I don’t feel very inspiring. I’d love to end every post on a high note but I promised to walk in truth.

If I had a magic wand I would wish it away but I found out a long time ago that my wand doesn’t work.  It never worked so rather than pretend it does I’ll show how far I’ve grown in faith by just leaving this mess at the altar.Rainbow Cross

Psalm 10:14
But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.

Prayers greatly appreciated.

Prayer: Jesus Take the Wheel

Jesus- You are AWESOME!   Life is not easy.  My burdens are great!  Lord, you know how much it hurts when one of your children hurts; the pain is often greater than if the pain was your own. I’ve prayed for guidance, strength and healing.  I can’t do this alone.  I am thankful you are with us.  Thank you for taking all of my burdens upon yourself.  Being yoked to you (Jesus) is wonderful! Please Lord stay in the driver’s seat. Jesus take the wheel. Keep the wheel. I’m not sure where we are going but it’s always a better trip when You (Jesus) drive. Thank you for all of your blessings.  Although I don’t always recognize or appreciate all the blessing you’ve bestowed upon me, you continue to rain them down. Thank you for all the sisters you have brought into my life. They are diamonds reflecting your love! Amen!