All things made new: friendship break-up part 2

What if in Jesus all things could be made new again?

This was the question I journaled, not that long ago.  What if the impossible was made possible?

When our hearts have been wounded from a friendship break-up, the messy, emotionally complicated pain, anger, anguish, self-protective consequences become enmeshed in who we are as persons.  We may trudge on in life, but those wounds are like carry-on luggage we have to keep dragging along with us.  There doesn’t seem to be a place to get those bags checked so we can drop them off.  There doesn’t seem to be a way for things to be changed or made new again.

The only way forward is if we learn to trust again.  We must learn to entrust ourselves to God first, bury ourselves in him, take refuge in him, and let him be our protector.  What’s the alternative?  It would be to live in a tall tower with walls on every side.  No one can break in to hurt us, but no one can break in with fun and laughter either.

To move forward, we must take risks.  Find safe persons and proactively venture forth by sharing who we are.  We must dare to be bold and courageous as we ask God to keep our hearts safe.  Even if we receive rejection from others, are we not completely accepted by him?  What then does it matter if we are rejected?  We have nothing to lose and a fuller life to gain.

The crux of the matter is this:  in friendships, you recognize one another as deeply flawed and in-process, and you choose to forgive and overlook those flaws.  You look at your friend as one for whom Christ died.  You see them through the eyes of grace.

But what if they cannot offer that to you?  What if you just can’t be guaranteed that?  Can you still extend to them the hand of friendship?  Because, the truth is, no one can guarantee that.  No friendship can guarantee no hurt.  It is something that is bound to happen.

God is often misunderstood.  Jesus was utterly misunderstood and maligned in his so-called trial.  But he didn’t argue, correct, or debate it.  He also knew he would be rejected, deserted, disappointed, and abandoned, but that didn’t stop him from love.  It didn’t stop him from inviting the disciples into friendship.  It doesn’t stop him from inviting us into friendship, to know and experience an unconditional love that is without end — a love that calls out our worth even as he calls out to us.

So this is what it all boils down to:  will we venture forward, carrying God’s love in our hearts, knowing that we might get hurt — might be misunderstood, because our hearts are buried in God and he will be our refuge?

Let your answer be yes.

Because in Jesus all things can be made new again.  This past weekend, I experienced reconciliation and restoration of a friendship that I thought I had lost forever.  In God, the impossible is made possible.

Venture forward.  Bury yourself in God.  He will be your protector.

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The love of God

Why is the love of God so appealing?

It’s because he takes us as we are.  No one else can do this to the fullest extent.  When we experience rejection from others, we are reminded that only God’s love is truly, completely unconditional.  We are driven to throw ourselves on God and to invite him to enfold us in his arms.  As we do so, we come to experience God deeper in the fullness of his embrace and find that there is solid grounds for entrusting ourselves in him.  In an unstable world, where people falter and vacillate, he gives us an anchor so that we are not blown and tossed about by the wind.  His love bolsters us with confidence.  It uproots our insecurities and throws them in the furnace, never to hamper us again.  We stand and walk with our heads held high and stroll with confidence in the world, no longer unnerved by anything.  His love — oh, how we need to know and fully grasp his deep, deep love for us.  His love changes us.

Turn to him and learn from him

When Jesus saw the great crowd coming, he asked Philip where they could get food for everyone.  “He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.”  (John 6:6).  Jesus wasn’t in a panic because he suddenly realized there were too many mouths to feed.  He already had a plan.  But, here, Jesus gives Philip an opportunity to grow and learn.  It’s an invitation to dialogue.  As Philip and the other disciples are brought to consider how they will provide for everyone, they will come to the recognition that there’s no way they could come up with enough food for everyone (it’s impossible). As a result, when Jesus does what he had planned, namely, the miracle of providing for everyone, it’s easily recognized for what it is – a miracle.  A miracle that no one could ever forget.

I think sometimes God allows us to get in situations where we feel backed into a corner.  There’s no way forward or out unless God comes and intervenes in power.  He allows us to get there so that we can recognize and turn to him for his help, comfort, and intervention.  “Show us your power, Lord,” we pray.  And he does.

I’m reminded of earlier this year when my husband and I felt financially backed into a corner.  We had virtually nothing in our bank account and had to wait for our checks to come in (from work) so that we could pay the bills.  It was both humbling and stressful.  It was hard to admit, but it was our own fault that we had gotten there.  We had not been financially responsible.  It was the result of overspending at Christmas, overspending on a family vacation, plus, my seminary tuition, as well as an unexpected surgery that brought us to that point.   I hadn’t been paying attention to our spending, and so there we were, living paycheck to paycheck.  I felt the desperation of being in a place where only God could get us out.  But that desperation was good.  We asked God to rescue us.  And he did.  We made it through that valley.  Thankfully.

It’s strange to say now but, really, I’m glad for that time.  Similar to Philip and the disciples, it was like Jesus had allowed us to work ourselves into an impossible situation and was asking us how we would get out.  How would we provide for our family?  It truly was an invitation into growth and learning.  Looking back on that time, I’m glad for the desperation because it caused us to turn to him and learn from him.  The desperation gave way to the rescue.  And the rescue is something I will never forget.

Friendship Break-Ups

Have you ever had a friendship break-up?  Some friendships dissolve naturally, because time and distance cause you to drift apart.  But other friendships come to an end because of some unfortunate circumstance.  One of you and then both of you said or did something hurtful, and the two of you can’t move pass it.  Or one of you has decided that there is something about the other that doesn’t match or fit with your life and personality.  And so then there’s a friendship break-up.  Sometimes this is done confrontationally.  Other times, the other person begins to block you out.

And it is painful.

Hurt, rejection, and loss overwhelm you — not just in the immediate moment, but you find that it is hard to really forget this loss.

Friendship means entrusting ourselves to others.  It means entrusting our dreams and wishes, our heart’s utmost desires, and our faults, flaws, and weaknesses.  When a friendship ends, it is so deeply painful because it means the loss of these things, and that leaves an impact on us.

In a friendship, we have this understanding that we accept each other for who we are, warts and all.  So when a friendship ends, we feel a sense of rejection.  They knew everything about me, and they are rejecting me!  It rocks our world because it unearths that deep insecurity we have in ourselves that we are not worth loving because of our flaws.  When we lose the unconditional love that we shared with our friend, we feel wary of venturing forward with our hearts once again.  But “wary” is not strong enough of a word.  It’s more like we slam the brakes and skid to a halt until there is smoke and burning rubber.  We actually feel incapable of being truly vulnerable and showing our true selves.

In a friendship, we also entrust our dreams to our friend.  We share our dreams and they hold those dreams with us, and sometimes, they even hold our dreams for us, in those moments of doubt and discouragement when we are unable to hold them for ourselves.  When the friendship ends, it feels like they have just let go of everything they have been holding in their hands, and everything has fallen with a crash onto the floor.  When things fall to the floor with a clatter, our hearts also take a dive into our stomach.  We are shattered.  And who will help us pick up these pieces off the floor?  How will we ever be able to find someone else who is willing to hold our dreams with us?

The healing begins when we acknowledge that a friendship break-up is a thing.  It is a painful event that happened in our lives, and as with all painful things, we need to bring them to the Lord, for he is the one who will help us pick up the pieces off the floor.

We need to tell him what happened, and we need to express our disappointment and hurt and anger over the stupidity of the situation.

And then we need to forgive.  Sometimes this means forgiving them for hurting us.  Sometimes it means forgiving them for not forgiving us.  Once that is done, our hearts will feel a loosening.  That’s the beginning of healing.

And then we have to come to grips with the fact that God loves us, warts and all, always and always, unconditionally, so we are worth loving.  Our hearts will warm at this next step of healing.

And as healing continues, we will begin to feel the loss as sorrow, and we will need to express to the Lord our grief over the loss of a beautiful bond that he had given us.  And so we ask him to come to us, and he will come to us, for truly he is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

And then when all this is said and done, there will come a moment where we need to entrust our hearts to the Lord, so that we can entrust ourselves to new friendships once again.  Although this feels impossible, it is possible, and it is part of the healing that we seek.

But how?  we ask.  Is it really possible?

[To be continued.]

Loved by the Maker

Been awhile since I’ve heard a song that really grabs me, but while listening to my children’s VBS CD, I was arrested by the poetic words by Chris August, in a song called “The Maker”.

Your love is like a mighty fire deep inside my bones
I feel like I could climb a thousand mountains all at once
And I never have to wonder if somebody cares for me
I love the Maker
And the Maker loves me.

Very rarely do I hear words that are able to capture a feeling that is essentially ineffable, but I think this one really does.  The “fire deep inside my bones” and the feeling like “I could climb a thousand miles all at once” — it’s that overflowing sense of thrill, excitement, invincibility, and power we feel when we recognize that we are loved by the Creator.  When I pause and reflect and remember how amazing it is that the one who created it all loves me, I feel like I am soaring and can soar to the highest heights.

The bridge is striking too, expanding on how God has shown his love for us.

More than just some words upon a page
You’ve shown me in a million ways
But there is one that stands above them all
Hands of creation on a cross
The Maker, yeah

Just think.  The hands that created everything.  The all-powerful, all-mighty God, submitted his hands to be nailed to the cross.  For me and for you.  That is a powerful image.  What an incredible way to tell us his love for us.

Graduation Soon

I woke up this morning with the startling realization that I will be graduating from seminary with a Master of Divinity in just a few days.  Even though I have been counting down the days for the last couple of months and seen the number diminish day by day, it still comes to me as a surprise.  Maybe not a surprise as in I didn’t know it was coming, but a surprise in that it is actually happening.  As in, I can’t believe that it is happening!  As in, all the time that has passed and all the doubts and obstacles along the way has made it seem as if this day would never come.

And yet, it has.

It is hard for me to believe–hard for me to grasp!  Things that are hard-won always feel like that.  Things that are hard-won make you really treasure it when it has been won.  When you fight for something, you really value it when you win it.  You don’t take it for granted.  You don’t hold it as trivial.  You see it for its full value.

And so I marvel.  And so I stand in awe, and I worship.

There are just no words, dear friends.  There are just no words to describe this moment in my life.  The end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one.  It has been. One. Long. Chapter.  But here we are.  And new adventures are about to begin!

Psalm 40:5 is fitting here:

Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your plans and purposes for my life.  Thank you that when you plan and purpose something, it always — always — comes to fruition.  And always — always — at just the right time.  My heart is so full of gratitude and worship.

Jesus’ lifeless body (Matthew 27:57-60)

It just occurred to me today that Joseph of Arimathea held Jesus’ lifeless body in his arms as he carried him from the cross to the tomb and when he wrapped it with a clean cloth.  What would that have been like?  The feeling of hope dead and lost, right there in his arms — cold, limp, unmoving.  Were there feelings of despair, confusion, and lostness?  Helplessness and hopelessness?  Wasn’t his heart broken as he placed Jesus’ body in the tomb and rolled the stone over the cave, leaving him there in darkness?  Was his mind reeling with questions such as, “What about the promises?  The miracles?  The proclamations that Jesus made?”  Even though he was a believer in Jesus, there must have been some level of doubt and despair, sorrow and confusion — a momentary flash of wondering if what Jesus said about rising again would really come true.

So, for Joseph, how was it for him to find out that Jesus came back to life on the third day?  Did he get to be one of the ones who saw him alive?  Because everyone might’ve seen that Jesus died on the cross, but he was the only one who touched and handled his dead body.  How amazing it was for him to see Jesus with life and breath in him once again!  I can hardly imagine the joy and amazement for him on that first Easter morning when true, lasting hope was restored in him, a hope that everything Jesus said and promised was true.  Life everlasting.  No more fear of pain and death.  Love unconditional.  Mercy and grace.  Forgiveness.  Freedom.  Joy that would never fade.  How truly amazing it must’ve been.  I’m sure Joseph was never the same again.

When we are that close to death and then experience life restored, our lives are changed forever.