Monday, February 27, 2012

Can we have a conversation? and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

It's time to pull up your chair.  Do you know you have one here in this space we call Soli Deo Gloria?  You do.  It's reserved every week only for you.  This place would be different if you weren't here and we miss you when you are gone.  This is a place filled with women who seek to honor your words, you heart, your tears, and your laughter.  Scooch in close.  You won't want to miss a word.

Time is short these days, yes?  But an investment of time (even a small investment), serves to build the community.  When you arrive here, would you look over the faces of those who have already pulled up their chair?  Would you ask God to point to a few people to go visit?  Sometimes, He will lead you into those spaces because He has a gift for you there.  And sometimes, He tugs at your heart because He has given you just the right words to pour into someone else's heart.

To read more about the Soli Deo Gloria community, please click here.
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This piece, I've called The Invitation.  Today, I would love to invite you to have a conversation with me in the comments section today.  I'm working out some scripture and I know that God really wants me to get this.  I wonder if y'all struggle with this as I do and I'd love your perspective.

Here is the background story:

On Friday, I was reading my daily bible reading (I'm reading the One Year Bible -- chronologically) and was still in the process of wading through Leviticus (oh, joy!).  In chapter 24, verse 19 caught my eye.  It talks about the whole eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth notion.  As I read, I thought, I need to look up what it says about this in the New Testament.  Alas, I was feeling lazy and didn't want to get my computer for my ever faithful concordance.  I saved it for another day.

Saturday, I get up before the rest of the house and I return to my chronological bible reading.  I'm not exactly sure that anything from my Bible set me off, but I am suddenly overwhelmed with the fact that I have not quite abandoned my scales like I had planned.  I realized that, sure, I had become better about loving with reckless abandon, but I still expected something in return.  Something big.  How am I supposed to get rid of these scales, God? I cry out.  I'm frustrated with myself and my inability to really let go.  So, I turn to the Only One who can truly make me better about such things.

I see the words Matthew 5:38 written in my mind and I think I'm being sent to the beatitudes or something like that.  So, I flick open my other bible and read this:
"You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth'. But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer them the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken, offer your coat, too. If a solider demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don't turn away from those who want to borrow." Matthew 5: 38-42
So, no beatitudes, JUST THE VERY VERSE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT I HAD BEEN LOOKING FOR, on a silver platter, delivered by God in my kitchen.  So, the question that I wrestle with is this:

What is the balance between giving your all and being a doormat?

Please, fill me in.  I need some sound guidance here.

SDG Community Builder:  1)   If you are new to this group, will you put as your caption "I'm new!"  We'd love to give you some extra love this week.  2) If you are a seasoned member of this group, will you make sure to visit at least one "I'm New!" person?  Let's show them what SDG is all about.


And because I do shameless things for Starbucks gift cards, I'm posting this picture of me, taken at 6:10 am (okay, I was 10 minutes LATE).
so sorry if I've scared you people off.  you can blame Michelle.

49 comments :

  1. One of the things I've learned about the law r.e. an eye for an eye, is that it's actually an instrument of God's grace. God set boundaries regarding restitution. In other words, if someone gouges out your eye, you are not free to kill him. The consequence was limited to the harm one suffered. In that sense, an eye for an eye is a merciful kind of justice. Jesus extended that act of mercy in a way that reveals how gracious His forgiveness is. Not only does he not treat us as our sins deserve; (eye for an eye)but He also, out of His magnificent love, extends to us great gifts.

    The key to giving one's all, I think is that it's giving out of love and gratitude for what Christ has done, recognizing that everything we've been given is pure grace to begin with. Being a doormat is all about giving begrudgingly. Usually if I'm feeling doormat-ish, it's usually a sign that I haven't been soaking up Christ's love.

    Okay, I'll shut up now and give someone else a turn!

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    1. nice, nancy. i want to copy that and save it for later if i need it. you good with that?

      kp

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    2. I never thought about it being merciful justice, but I can totally see how this is what it is now that I've read your thoughts. I am so thankful for the words you shared here, Nancy. As you can see, many of us are soaking up your wisdom!

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    3. Copy away, Kendal! And thanks, Jen.

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  2. Yep, I agree with Nancy ;)
    Sorry, I don't think I can top that. Good job Nancy:)
    Blessings~

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  3. Yup, that's a tough one. I'm wondering if it has to do with the old covenant verses the new; the law verses Jesus coming to fulfill the law. Sin was dealt with differently before Jesus and, like Nancy said, a parameter was put on the already free reign. Yet now, because of God's grace through Jesus, we now extend that grace.

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  4. To me there is a big difference, Jen, when God calls me to serve someone ... maybe really even in very unselfish ways, and sometimes out of my comfort zone. That is ministry.

    But letting someone treat me as a doormat ... is an emotional dysfunction and I don't think God ever call us to that.

    My opinion.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

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    1. "emotional dysfunction." I know what this feels like and looks like -- it provides a good litmus test for future situations.

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  5. ps. I totally messed up my picture on the link. Opps.

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  6. Ask an easy question next time. ha. As you know, it's hard to set down a solid rule that works for everything. One question I ask myself in situations where I'm unsure is: what will most honor God? Sometimes that helps me distinguish when to lay things down and when to be more assertive.

    I love that God gave you just the verse you needed! Those are such goosebump moments.

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    1. I love how God speaks. I think, also, that your question -- what will most honor God? is such a good thought to keep in the forefront of our minds.

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  7. I was about to jump out of my seat reading this, because I've been feeling lead to read the Sermon on the Mount over and over lately, and just this morning I was studying verses you mentioned. Oh, these "coincidences" give me chills! In my reading, I was thinking about how I am getting tired of a volunteer commitment. I read about how God wants us to go the extra mile (verse 41) and for my situation, I feel like God was telling me to love and work with people who I think are difficult because he loves that difficult person as much as he loves me. That helped me.

    That feeling was confirmed when I read the Common English Bible's translation of verse 48: "Therefore, just as your Heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete."

    So, I think this passage is about showing love to everyone. Extravagant, Godly love - as much as you are capable of. But even God, the most extravagant lover, is not a doormat. He has rules and you should too. Good luck :)

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    1. What an amazing way to think of completeness - and to be completed in the same way as God? Amazing.

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  8. i've read three books lately and seen a documentary about EXTREME forgiveness....these people had every "right" (and i guess i mean that in the secular sense) to harbor hatred and strike back. but they extended forgiveness instead. this is a tough question, jen!

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  9. Oh, this one's hard. I just keep thinking of the Apostle Paul who said, "I've become all things to all men...." (now I'm paraphrasing) so I might win a few to Christ. If that means being a doormat to win souls is that what we're called to do? Would we have called Christ a doormat when He lay down His life for us? Such tough questions. Thanks for getting me thinking. Glad to be a part of the SDGS crew today!

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    1. You are right -- I would not have called Jesus a doormat when He died on the cross. This thought really brings in the concept of grace to the question. Where would I be without grace and why do I feel that I have a right to withhold it from others?

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  10. My first unconditional love rule is "Unconditional Love is NOT a Doormat." LOL - Unconditional Love can be a tough kind of love that straight-talks, prays, forgives, helps - it is a discerning kind of thing. On a little scale - my son who just got out of AIT training wanted me to fill out his college application. I did it last year but he needed to do it - and I went the extra mile to restrain myself and encourage him through it. I was available for questions - but he had to do it. This would make a great coffee group discussion - I think a lot of moms could really encourage each other here! Sometimes going that extra mile isn't grabbing hold but letting go.

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    1. "Sometimes going that extra mile isn't grabbing hold but letting go."
      YES -- Well put!! Doing for another what he/she can & should do cripples rather than helps.

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  11. We must remember that we are image bearers. The call of our lives is to live in a way that glorifies the Savior. We should be careful when we "decide" we will "let others walk over all us." We can feel super-spiritual and be far from reflecting the glory of God, prideful even. We are always totally dependent on Him for strength to accomplish anything in the great kingdom of God---every day we pick up manna---just enough for today and no more.

    This I believe is a daily thing---at least, for me. I expect that it is how it will be for the rest of my life. And I am ok with that. I used to want to have it all together--with a big bow on it. Knowing I never will makes me more dependent on Christ for everything He places before me.

    Great community question, Jen. :)

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    1. Jen, great question . . . and Dea, I appreciate this answer! The difference between serving with all our hearts and becoming doormats is absolutely in reflecting the glory of God. For me, it's in prayer, especially in the bigger things, and daily as well. Thanks, friends, for a challenging conversation!

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    2. Dea, I think you are right -- often pride keeps me from serving and self-victimization keeps me from reflecting His Glory.

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  12. He gave His all for us and took on the suffering we deserve for all of our sins. Because of that, we should forgive others who harm or use us, pray for them, and treat them with love and kindness (but without subjecting ourselves to abuse, which would not be honoring our body indwelled by His Spirit, or allowing ourselves to become conformed to the world).
    Thanks for the excellent post, and God bless!
    Laurie

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    1. Well said, especially after Alicia's comment.

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  13. oh, i struggle with this too...

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  15. I think how we approach this issue will vary from situation to situation. I believe God calls us to love with our hearts wide open. In the process we need to ask Him to allow His presence to be made known in the way we love.

    Until just last year I spent 11 years as a case manager working with the homeless population. It was always my desire to let people know that they were loved and that God loved them no matter what. But I tell you time and time again I got lied to. People would tell me what they knew I wanted to hear without working the program, without trying to change, just to get the resources or funding. However, if I had to do it all over again, I would do the same thing.

    When we are going through a situation with someone it may feel like we are being treated like a doormat, like nothing good is being accomplished, but who knows what that person is gaining from their experience with us. Even though we may not see fruit being produced at the time, maybe months or even years from now, they will remember how
    we showed them God's love or something we said to them that will bring them closer to God down the road.

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    1. You are right -- we may never know how God redeems a situation or what fruit come out of interactions with people. Oh, may there always BE fruit of the nourishing kind!

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  16. Nancy and Glenda nailed it for me! They said so well the things I was wanting to share with you. This is a very insightful group!

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  17. I think giving your all is about attitude and choice. It is about dying to self and bringing less self to the table. Serving God and others is a wonderful blessing, but...Being a doormat is a choice to let others dominate you, abuse or control you. God doesn't want us to be doormats! We are to gently stand up for ourselves. Being a doormat can turn into a Martha instead of a Mary attitude. We will most likely become bitter. Just my opinion.

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  18. I think as long as you are doing what God has called you to do, whether it be a lot or a little, you are not being a doormat. God doesn't call us all to move mountains, though I think especially as moms we get caught up with those scales. We look at the next person and compare how much they do with how much we are doing. If the next person seems to be doing more (or more "important" things), we feel like we could be doing more. Jesus blessed hundreds at a time, but he also blessed and healed people one at a time. Every act was an act of God, though. None was "more important" than another. He just did it. He also chose not to heal people.

    God wants us to give our all, but that doesn't mean doing everything. Sometimes we have to step back and realize a task is not for us to do (which is really hard for us type A women). It isn't what God has called us to do even if we feel we can do it. Before I make a decision, I ask myself if I'm doing it for worldly reasons or for God. I have to stop myself when I look at other women with many more balls in the air than me and think, "Wow! She does a lot. Maybe I should be doing more." I stop and ask if I'm giving my all to everything God has asked me to do. If the answer is yes, then I'm not being a doormat, even if I don't feel "busy". If I bite my tongue instead of speaking up about something, there is usually a reason.

    I honestly think turning the other cheek is a lot harder to do than to strike back. I don't think that's being a doormat. That's loving your enemy as God has called us to do. It's a lot harder than it sounds and requires us to have faith in God and to accept His grace and love. Without that, I don't think anyone would turn the other cheek.

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    1. @Kelli, Dionne, & Lori -- I think balance is key. Always seeking God in each situation can bring such clarity to what is happening and to our own role. So often we compare ourselves to the world and do not perceive things through the eyes of God.

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  19. for me...if I am really...really trying to do all for the Lord...even the smallest act than all expectations are gone...I think when we give to get...we become the doormat...we are giving not so much for the other person but to fullifill something in us...for most woman the root is based in fear...and fear has many faces...some are very deceiving...compassion and mercy(done in the flesh) can actually be very self serving...God is so faithful to show us our motives...and for me...so many times it is after the fact...blessings as you continue to be taught by the Master Teacher...

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  20. Jen- this is a tough issue. You have been given some wise words already, so not sure I have much to add. I will add that one of the things I love about Jesus is how balanced He lived His life. He did not heal everyone, He did not meet every need. He extended lots of grace (woman caught in adultery) and spoke truth (to religious leaders--you hypocrites). I think as we strive to be like Him He helps us live a balance life too. He doesn't want us to be a doormat in the sense that we enable someone, but turning the other cheek is very powerful.

    Wow-thanks for the tough question!

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  21. I think boundaries is a huge thing with the difference of the two. I, myself, have been working on this same issue. The biggest thing I have learned is give joyfully. If I do not feel like doing it, I won't do it. I think that is the biggest difference. If you tend to do what other people want you to do or do what you don't want to do, that is being a doormat. But if you set boundaries for yourself such as only do what you know you would do joyfully, then that is not being considered being a doormat.

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  22. I'M NEW!!! :)

    Jen, this is an issue near and dear to my heart. I am forever saying, "Balance is key, and God you are my balance." I have 4 children, all grown. One is away at college while the other three are living at home. Two of the three are going to a local community college and the oldest is working paying off her student loans. Their ages range from 19-27. My husband and I have an agreement with our children. We cannot pay for their college education, but they are welcome to live here while paying off their student loans rent free.
    Recently the Lord brought me back home full time. I struggle with this new chapter in my life, i.e. being the mother of grown adults, an empty nester with out the empty nest.(wink wink) Much of the time I find myself feeling like a doormat,full of grumbling; while at the same time knowing I should serve them out of grateful heart. (I have longed to be home with my kids for many years) Many days I swear my mind is a teeter totter! But praise God for his grace and his throne which is ready and willing for me to lay it down at his feet (when I finally decide to surrender it all to him.) After all, I usually conclude, it is not my job to change their hearts, it's my job to simply love them. A deep breath and time before the King usually is what I need to see the blessings over the waded socks and dirty dishes. It also refreshes me enough set much needed boundaries.

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  23. Difficult one for me as well - thanks for raising this issue. I'd actually love to read all the comments above now - wow, this seems to be a question close to everyone's hearts!

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  24. This whole thing dear Jen, is closer to my heart than you can know, right now. As my husband and I were up until 1:30 AM discussing an issue where we are called to speak truth even as we know we are to love and do love those who have wronged us. It is easier for both of us to endure, allowing our Savior to give us His love when others are hard to love, than it is to speak truth. But, there are times when both are so deeply needed but speaking truth and allowing God's standard to come before others ONLY COMES when we have surrendered and know in our heart that we pursue this path because it is how we love them, not look out for our own interests {Phil. 2}. The Power that raised Christ from the dead was not the fury of justice though a holy God has the authority to act on such, but the Everlasting Love of God Three-in-One. A love that lived so purely unto death and manifested the imprint of God that a victory once and for all was won that NOTHING. CAN. EVER. DESTROY. {Romans 8} The deepest heart workings are always in line with this overcoming love and flow out of it.

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  25. Who doesn't wonder about this sometimes? I think it's focus. When I am worrying primarily about my own interests or convenience, I have not offered everything I have to God. When I am thinking primarily about obedience to Him and loving Him, my decisions are more likely right.

    Consider first the Kingdom of God...

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  26. Jen,

    Such wisdom offered here! Sharing with a trembling heart--I am a little shy about these public forums, but then your invitation makes me a little brave. This is a very hard question--my hat's off to you for asking and being open. I'm sorry if this gets long, but want to give scripture to back up my thoughts.

    I believe the key is balance. I really like what Glenda had to say. There is an opinion circulating that God only gave the ten commandments on the tablets, and everything else is what the Jewish leaders added. But when I look at Exodus 20, God is giving the ten commandments to Moses., then God says to Moses, "These are the laws you are to set before them:.." and a long list follows of laws on protection of property, women, etc. given by God himself to Moses. I think, then, it's safe to say Glenda is absolutely right-- and so glad she brought the insight she did--that the laws were God's protection and grace all along.--and agree about “door-mattish”.

    Matt 5:17 says, Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until Heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."

    What this means to me, is that God set up the law, never to be abolished, so that we would know, and never forget what Jesus has done for us--because it is impossible for us to complete and keep the whole law. Definition of fulfill: "to make full; to put into effect: execute; to meet the requirements of; to bring to an end; to measure up to: satisfy; to convert into reality--to develop the potentials of."

    To me, this all plays a huge part in how we "let go" of our scales. Our giving of grace and mercy, and laying down our lives comes from truly having a revelation of everything Christ has done for us--this makes serving someone and turning the other cheek a little easier because this is what our Christ did for us--there is no length to which we cannot go for His gospel and for love.

    But, there is another side to being door-mattish that a few have touched on... dysfunction in relationship. I struggle with this too, and I lean on my husband's wisdom and the Holy Spirit to know when it's time to back off from someone and allow them to experience some tough love.as Dr. James Dobson talks about in his book. Jesus did this--He was a great example. "Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away…” (Jn. 16.7) There were times that the disciples did not believe, and Peter spoke up and said, "No, Lord, that shall never happen to you!" (paraphrase)...and Jesus answered, "Get behind me, Satan!" and he told them that they did not have the things of God in mind--I think this shows that at times we have to lovingly rebuke what is not God's truth--we can be firm when needed. It would have been much easier for him to give into the disciple's pleas and to make them happy, but that would have been a dysfunctional relationship. I think the key here is that Christ KNEW that their desires were not the will of God and Satan would use it to keep Him from going to the cross--so we have to discern like He did, not based on our feelings, but on what the Holy Spirit tells us to do. Obviously, abuse should not be tolerated--boundaries are healthy.

    thank you for grace, sisters, over my long-windedness--*blushing*--I pray this has been helpful. Struggling and learning along with you, sisters. I feel as though we've been sitting around the table with our coffee and bibles. I've enjoyed this! Blessings! Thank you, Jen, for causing me to dig into my word today!

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    1. Nacole, I am so blessed by your words and by the care that you have taken in speaking to my heart with your words and with God's. What particularly hit me was the combination of what Christ has already done for us seeking the function of the relationship so to not fall into dysfunction. I'm soaking up the wisdom here today!!

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    2. thank you, Jen. whew :') i'm glad that it wasn't too overwhelming--i know it was a lot! so happy that it blessed you! that's all i wanted to do! love you!

      i too, have been SO blessed reading these ladies' responses! thanks ladies!

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  27. My first thought...before I read all of the other really great insight...was this: What I have begun to realize is that "giving it all" and a "doormat" can LOOK the same on the outside. But the difference is the motivation in my heart -- whether Christ is pouring it all through me or if I'm allowing someone to walk over me because I want to please or get something else out of it.

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  28. That is a tough one. I think we all struggle with what it looks like to be a servant-leader. But look at how He loves you! What a sweet gift He dropped in your lap. Just stick close to the Lord and He will help you figure it out.

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  29. Wow. What confirmation this post is for me. I experienced more than one person in my life that has taken my kindness and mistaken it for the weakest doormat. My resolve, I did what God called me to do. He led me to step way out of my comfort zone and communicate my feelings of mistaken kindness. And because I was obedient, His resolve was picture perfect. I am so grateful that I learned the lesson and passed the test.

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    1. Me, too, Joan. And I am so glad that God has used this post for confirmation for you. I love it when the Body of Christ sustains us!

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  30. this is a tough issue that I have struggled with for many years, especially with certain key people...I'm realizing more and more that I am not loving a person if I let them continue with what I would consider bad behavior and unkind if I did that to another...for me, I keep seeking God and asking for wisdom as well as reading books and talking to people that I think are spiritually and emotionally healthy...sorry I can't give you a more definitive answer...I am also learning to respect my own feelings...hard to explain in a comment...praying that God will give you the wisdom and clarity that you seek, Jen...blessings to you :)

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  31. To me the difference in giving it all and being a doormat is what I am framing in that picture, with my thoughts and words. When I feel like I'm giving it all, it's all about what I'm doing. When I'm a dooormat, it's all about not being appreciated. Again it's about me. I'm sure Jesus never once worried about giving his all or being a doormat, but He knows I struggle sometimes with this especially with the people I'm closest too.
    I totally believe in grace and that boundaries are full of grace, because the only people complaining when I set boundaries are people not willing to walk in truth with our Lord. They have pet sins they want me to accomodate and as a women I have for a long time, and that sets up a fear response. It's a cycle that is unrighteous and again the focus tends to end up being on me.
    May all our focus be on Jesus and how to help others see Him and glorify Him.

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  32. I'm enjoying reading through the comments and appreciate your question. I agree with Lisa's question of asking "does this glorify God", and I also agree with what Glenda said, and what Loraine said. Jesus did live a life of grace, he gave, served, loved, but a doormat, he was not. He spoke as one with authority. Yet his motivation was love. I think our motivation, most of the time, if we're honest, is selfish. I know many live selfless lives, but we are constantly battling that nature within us.

    I also know that in my life, the more filled up I am, the more loving I am and more likely to extend grace and love to those around me, but also in a healthy way. When I'm not filled up, I am that much more likely to mess all this up. How did Jesus do it? I feel motivated to spend some time studying Jesus and learning more. It's so tough. Thanks for asking this question, Jen. So good to discuss it here.

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Don't go yet! Leave me a note with your thoughts.