Monday, October 22, 2012

put away your sword 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.
To read more about the Soli Deo Gloria community, please click here.
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I don't have any pictures of her speaking, maybe because I was so enraptured by what she was saying.  My focus was on her words and not my retreat leader duties.

She talked about her book and how it all came about and I listened intently as she tells me that for her, the homeless are still hard to love.  But in that there lies the point:  God wants us to love even though the effort it will take us is akin to climbing a mountain.

She asks us "where is your heart? Who are those whom you find easy to love?  Who takes a whole other kind of effort?"

And I make my list.  Unfortunately those who fall under easy are in smaller number than those who fall under difficult.  Immediately, I start to feel guilty.  What is so wrong with me that I cannot love without abandon?  My eyes search for answers and meaning as they shift from one name to another.  I draw a line in between the two categories and one underneath all the names and then I label them.

I am afraid.

I am not afraid.

Those who I find difficult to love I fear will hurt me.  Or I fear that somehow I will not be able to love them enough or in the right way.  Some of them, I just don't know how to help them and so I give up my opportunity to love them.

And under these two short sentences, I write a third:

I've made it all about me.

I shake my head because this year God has been showing me that so much of what happens in this world is.not.about.me.  To find yet another area in which I still need refining can be a bit heart-breaking.  I am determined not to stay in this place of discouragement and so I ask Him for a Word.

I see John 18: 11 written in my head and I open my bible to find this:

"But Jesus said to Peter, 'Put your sword back into its sheath.'"  

Peter has just cut off the ear of Malchus because he is the high priest's slave that has come to arrest Jesus.  Peter doesn't want Jesus to go.  He is afraid.  And so he lashes out.  He tries to protect what is his.  And so, he doesn't love.

Put away your sword, Jen.  You see, I often cannot love because I am choosing to protect myself from real and imagined hurts.  I choose to lash out first because somehow I think this will cause me less pain and less suffering. I choose to dictate what I will do and what I will say and who I will love because I don't want this command to love your neighbor as yourself to cost me too much.

It comes down to a step-by-step, moment-by-moment decision.  I can choose to become hard or I can choose to become soft.  If I can allow Jesus to go before my decision, if I can remember that He loved despite very intentional pain and suffering aimed directly at Him, if I can remember that this life is not just about me and my feelings, it makes it a bit more fathomable to live in love.  I want to remember that in spite the fact that Malchus came to bring harm to Jesus, He still reached out and healed his ear.  Without even being asked.  (Luke 22: 51)

I'm still scared.

When I protect myself, it usually ends badly.  When I allow Jesus to protect me, I may still get hurt.  But God uses that hurt in the end to bring freedom, to turn me closer to Him, to refine out more of the impurities that keep me from living in the fullness of His beauty.  Allowing Jesus to protect me may mean that when the phone rings, I don't answer it because He tells me not now.  When someone brings forth unsolicited criticism, I take those words to Him before I pull out my weapons of judgment and harsh words to use against my accuser.  When I start to shy away from someone who looks different or helpless or mean, I ask Jesus to help me see them as He does and ask Him first if there is anything He would have me do instead of thinking that I've just got to get away.

And as I type this today, I realize that often, the person from whom I need the most protection from is myself.  Because it is me that cradles the lies in my heart to which other's hurtful words cling.  It is my own disbelief of the promises of God that leads to the cracks in my faith foundation.  It is me that goes into my corner licking my wounds instead of baring my soul to the Healer whose words are better than any bandaid fashioned in this world.

It's time to hand over my sword.  It's time to let the Healer and the Lover in.

What about you?  Do you self-protect?  How do you tangibly let God protect you in the face of a hard and hurtful world?

Want to read more about Annie's book?  Click here to find out more info and/or purchase.

Also, Hope for the Weary Mom (expanded version) launches today!!!.  You can enter to win some great prizes at the big celebration!!  Click here for details.  But today  and tomorrow only (TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY) you can get Hope for the Weary Mom FOR FREE!!  Go download now (I've met these beautiful ladies in person -- their words will touch your heart!)

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I am so happy to see your face here at Soli Deo Gloria.  Did you know we have small groups?  As SDG has grown, it started to lose a bit of the small community feel.  As such, we have groups that visit each other and leave comments for each other on SDG days so that you don't feel lost in this big blog world.  Would you like to be a part?  If so, please email me at jenfergie2000@me.com.  Also, if you are new here, please put "I am new" as your caption so that we might give you a proper welcome.

19 comments :

  1. Hey Jen ~ I never paid attention to this specific verse enough to process it. Love this! Thank you for sharing and for this community. I don't get by here often, but have heard from other bloggers what a blessing it is.

    Blessings to you~
    Jennifer

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  2. I' m learning that so much of learning to love wisely and well comes from knowing how deeply I am loved. I can't make myself try harder or, if I do it comes out strained and false. When I get the smallest glimpse of the depth of God's love for me, however, that's when love flows to others.

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  3. It's funny. I did the same kind of list thing recently and was totally overwhelmed by how tough I find it to love some people in my world.

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  4. Excellent insight, Jen! I've been questioning myself on this a lot this year as well. As we've switched churches, I'm going to have to be intentional about who we seek out to remain friends with. It's taking far more effort since we're not automatically meeting in the same building twice a week. Who I really love is being tested...and why...and how...

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  5. I realized a while ago...a lot of the things i did was about me...how it made me feel...but God in His kindness is changing my vision...and amen to what Nancy says. blessings to you~

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  6. I think there are people who love exclusively - in an excluding way - who are uncomfortable with throwing the doors of their exclusive community wide open. There are so many hearts abandoned, peeking in through soul windows, trying to find a moment of heart home: love, support, encouragement, spiritual mother and fathering, a samaritan crossing over boundary lines to bind wounds, to hold steady as they build their strength. I am so grateful for those who loved me inclusively, who I didn't belong to biologically but through adoption in Christ. They saw the orphan of my spirit and brought me to adoption.

    So many people are uncomfortable with those who live with the doors to their soul houses wide open. Your post I guess is like an amendment to my mission statement. My heart loved your message!

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  7. oh, jen. i needed this today. on my way to work with teens who are a little hard for me to love right now....and i've been making it about ME.

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  8. OF COURSE I self-protect! After all, if I don't, who will?
    Sigh.
    Then I remember the Ephesians 6, and the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.
    Now that's a sword worth picking up.

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  9. Jen, this was so beautifully written and exactly what the Holy Spirit needed me to hear. Your line "Because it is me that cradles the lies in my heart to which other's hurtful words cling" rang so true in my own life. I've been struggling by feeling unloved and un-pursued by some friends and letting that hurt dictate how I love (or rather do not love) them. Thank you for you honesty and your encouragement in Christ's example for us.

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  10. This year for me has been trying to just love people no matter what, and I love the reminder that it's not all about me.

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  11. When I self-protect, it usually ends badly. Oh, yes. We sheepishly shuffle out of the closet when we are called out and the jig is up. Ow.
    In the long run, it's just so much easier to not run to the closet in the first place, but to put on that shield of faith and walk where he leads.

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  12. This is beautiful, Jen, & just what I needed today. It's so easy to forget that it's all about Him,not about me. Thanks for the great post & for hosting, & God bless!

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  13. Amen to Nancy's comment...God is LOVE, and from Him, we learn to love because He first loved us...love how God talks to you, and then you share...thanks, Jen :)

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  14. I self protect. Past hurts keep me from truly giving what is needed in friendship, vulnerability. God's been showing me this and I'm praying that I can keep opening up and not closing in and up. The more I learn about God and his character and love, the more I feel it welling up inside me for others. Thanks for this post and I give thanks for you!

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  15. Oh, Jen, I needed this reminder. Put away your sword... those words are powerful. Crazy how Paul asks us to wield the sword of the Spirit and it's only by the Spirit's power that we can surrender that sword of our flesh, the one bent on protecting me instead of promoting Jesus.

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  16. Guilty. Although the people I self-protect from are the very people who I should feel safe with--my church family. It's like "once hurt, twice shy." Your words from God always make me thing--and pray. That's what I'll be doing over this one.

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  17. I understand this, Jen. Fear is such a powerful tool of the enemy. I love looking at this issue from the perspective of this Bible story. Good telling, friend.

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  18. awwwww totally forgot to link up my post! thought I had - here's my link: (sorry) :) http://www.adventurezinchildrearing.com/2012/10/31-days-of-thanks-with-31-days-of.html

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