Monday, March 3, 2014

Uninhibited by HuffPosts and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria!  This group exists to empower women to authentically share their hearts.  Want to learn more?  Click here to find out ways you can be involved here.
Some things to know:
1.  It's important to take some time to visit a new friend.  If you decide to link up a post that reflects your heart, be sure to stop by your neighbor's place.  We want to make sure everybody at this party feels a little love!
2.  We are a safe place to be real.  I deeply cherish your involvement in the community.  Consider answering the question from "Let's get real" at the bottom of the post in the comments section.
3.  Please be sure to check out our Woven with Love auction item at the end of the post! We are raising scholarship funds for the 3rd Annual SDG RetreatMore than Conquerors.
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Lately, my Facebook feed has been filled with Huffington Post articles like these:

5 Conversations Women Should Stop Having 
Two Words our Daughters Should Say -- and Believe
9 Things You Should Never Say to Your Longtime Spouse
7 Things You Shouldn't Say to Someone with Anxiety
7 Things You Totes Need to Stop Saying if You're Over 30
10 Things You Shouldn't Say to Someone Who Uses a Wheelchair

And some of these articles have some really great, common sense advice that we humans sometimes fail to grasp, especially in the moment when we are at a loss for what to say.  It's always good to get another perspective on how our words, intentional or not, can do a lot of damage, or do a lot of good.

I find myself reading some of these articles and trying to file them away so I can make sure I'm always saying the right thing.  But the truth is, sometimes I won't say the right thing.  And other times, I'll say the right thing that isn't considered to be The Right Thing according to a worldly point of view.

Just last Sunday, a dear friend sat on my couch with her broken heart.  Being that we are in two very different life spaces, I was terrified of saying the wrong thing.  Instead of asking Jesus for wisdom on how I was supposed to respond and then responding, I found myself checking Jesus against a Huffington Post article that may or may not really exist about Things Not to Say to Singles.

We must be careful with our words, but I'm wondering if being too careful can sometimes do just as much damage.  If I try to find words that fit neatly in everyone's PC boxes, I'll end up never saying anything at all.  And God has given us voices to use, gently, carefully, and with much discernment.  He gives us these voices because the truth is, as human beings, we need to hear them.  Our voices have the power to be the vessels He uses to communicate His heart, His love, His plan, His passion.

This is an awesome responsibility.  Awesome in the true meaning of the word.

We've been told not to say things like "I know exactly how you feel" because it can feel demeaning and invalidating.  And I think this is just fine advice.  We can't know exactly.  We are all unique and have different responses to situations in our lives.  But what I fear also happens is that we stop telling stories of our own pain and heart-ache because we fear that sharing our pain somehow might invalidate someone else's or that it doesn't relate closely enough or isn't the same thing.

Pain is pain.  Joy is joy.

I think about the Samaritan woman, who after she encountered Jesus, runs to the very town that ostracized her because of her story.  And she most likely knows that most of the people contained in that town cannot relate specifically to her pain.  There probably wasn't an abundance of people who had already had five husbands.  But she must know that everyone carries some kind of pain that they no longer want to wear draped over their shoulders.  She must know that it's not specifically her kind of pain that makes one feel like they are dying in a parched land where there is not water.  And she's found Someone who sees it all and still loves, who still is willing to offer her a drink of Water, HER!  Of all people.  

And she couldn't help but run out and share her story.  The words that tumbled out of her mouth simply drew them back to Jesus, back to love.  No Huffington Post required.

We have stories of different pain, different joys, different heartbreaks and heartaches.  But pain is pain and joy is joy.  It doesn't have to be carefully weighed and compared.  What if there is no scale for pain?  What if these preconceived notions that one pain is not like the other, one joy is worth more than that one, has just been used as a tool to silence our voice?

Or what if we've missed out on a gem of wisdom because it came from someone who's pain or joy we didn't think measured up to ours?

Our stories matter.  I don't have five husbands.  I'm not living with a man who is not my husband. I haven't been ostracized for most of my life.  But I still know what it feels like to be ashamed of my sin.  I still relish the fact that He loves me in spite of me.

No matter what tangible details don't apply to me, this one does: I am in need of a Savior.  And sometimes God uses your stories of pain, your stories of joy, to bring me back to Him.

Let's not stop sharing our stories.

Let's Get Real:  Has someone shared a story with you that has been life-changing, even when your exact situations didn't match up?  Do you struggle with making sure your words are always "right?" Have you ever dismissed someone's story because you didn't think their pain measured up to yours? 

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Time for a bit of fundraising for the 3rd Annual Soli Deo Gloria Retreat!  Last week was such a success!  Thank you, _____________, for bidding and winning! This week's offering is from Donna, a dear, sweet friend from church:

 Notice here...you are getting a scarf AND a hat. This auction item set is for all you Type A-ers who just LOVE to be coordinated.  Of course, if you are a Type B-er, feel free to wear them separately!  As for me, I just love the fringe!

A note about the auction's set-up:  Because I know everyone's budgets are different, I wanted everyone to be able to have a scarf and not lose because she was always outbid, hence the pledging.  Because we all deserve some tangible love around our shoulders, right?

How to participate in this silent auction:
1.  Click on "Place your bid." in the Rafflecopter widget below.
2.  Fill in the blank with the maximum you are willing to pay for this scarf, knowing ALL monies are going directly to the SDG Retreat.
3.  I'd be honored if you'd share this giveaway with your friends.  Not only is it a fundraiser, but I'd love for women to be physically covered by her sister's art!
4.  Next Monday, Rafflecopter will choose a winner and I will announce it at next week's SDG party.  Check or credit card will be accepted (I'm working on the credit card option. Stay tuned!) for payment and the scarf maker will mail the scarf to the winner after I have received the payment.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


photo credit: Kash_if via photo pin cc (text added by Jen)

17 comments :

  1. This is a fine word as our mouths often work faster than our minds and hearts. We truly do need to heed the word of God as He prepares our mouths and hearts for His words. I once wrote a devotional about a homeschool Mom teaching her son about words. She wrote the word "W O R D " on a piece of cardboard. Then she asked her son (4 or 5 years old) to trace the letters with a tube of toothpaste. Once done, they talked more about the letters and what they spelled and the meanings. Then she asked him to put the toothpaste back in the tube. He immediately responded with, "I can't do that!" Then they had a wonderful discussion about how words are out before we know it and can hurt people. We cannot put them back in our mouth and swallow them as if we never said them. When I was told this by my pastor's wife about her daughter and grandson, I have never...NEVER...forgotten it. I am glad I came by.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

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  2. Yes, we all do have unique stories, but with our words we can all point to God.

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  3. I remember a conversation over 20 years ago when I was talking to a woman whose mother had just died. I mentioned that I'd been going through grief also because I had a baby girl who died--she quickly set me straight that it was NOT the same and that I couldn't relate at all to her pain. Ouch. Her pain was fresher so I gave her the benefit of the doubt that she wasn't really meaning to be cruel but just reacting out of her own grief. Yet I still remember it. Sigh. Yes, sometimes we all will say (and hear) wrong things, but saying something (or at least showing up) is still preferable to saying nothing and being absent. Love this post, Jen.

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  4. Not only do I often fear saying the wrong thing, but I often fear writing the wrong thing! But I'm learning that particular fear comes only from the Enemy, and yes, it is meant to silence us. So, I'm working at trusting the Lord enough to ignore that fear. It's a work in progress still. :)

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  5. In our prayer meeting last Sunday, we were asked to write 3 "I WILLs" based on some talks we just listened to. Then we formed triads and were asked to be brave and push the "I WILLs" of our brothers and sisters if we felt it didn't go far enough. Sometimes we are too careful about what we say, that we tiptoe. But we are accountable to each other. We are on a pilgrim journey and we need to get where we are going. :^) patsy

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  6. I have noticed that the more careful I try to be, the more I say the wrong thing, and am graceless - tripping over every word. Some people can find offense is anything you say - they're looking for it - and, oh, my - it reminds me of the story my husband tells of when he was little, all his siblings would look at him until he spilled his milk! When people are looking for offense - it doesn't matter what you say - they will find it. Therefore, it makes sense to choose to speak from the heart - a heart that is linked with Him. When we weigh our responses against what He would say - not the "right" thing to say, or trying "not" to offend anyone - then we cannot go wrong!

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  7. Ah Jen...so well said and a hearty amen:) I think too when we are free & open with our story and our heart is to reach out & bless, the Spirit intercedes beyond any faux pas of words and takes our humble offering and creates something beautiful. Being one so quick to speak by nature, it is the discipline of years, prayers, life that enables his words not mine...and I am so thankful for the journey to redeem my words & the trust in Jesus for a heart-felt sorry if I misspeak;) sending love!

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  8. Beautiful post. While the cause of our pain, or joys, may be unique to us, there is common ground in the feeling of pain or joy. May we come alongside of others because we remember what it was to be in pain & offer our company, our comfort - a hug, a listening ear, a heart that loves. And when it is joy that is shared may we rejoice & celebrate with one another because we celebrate one another. We so need to come alongside one another in the journey of life. So glad for these words today. Blessings!

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  9. I'm always worried about saying the wrong thing, especially if they are going through something that I haven't. I don't want to diminish their pain and trial in any way by saying something really stupid. I've read many articles on Huffington, while most are pretty good, they can't compare to the Holy Spirit's whispering to us when we ask what to say. Good words here, Jen. Thanks for being REAL.

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  10. So true. We need to check with the Holy Spirit for how to comfort those who need us. And those secular publishers need biblical truth more than they need 10 Ways to... For example, "how many times should I forgive?" Seventy times seven...then when we say the wrong thing or have the wrong thing said to us we can forgive and be forgiven. We are all in need of a Savior like you said, that is the important piece that knits us together.

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  11. I love a good God story. I find that there is a lot of wisdom found in listening. I pray for God to give me ears to hear.

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  12. Praise God that He forgives all our sin -- may we love others as He loves us. Thanks for the great post & for hosting & God bless!

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  13. Amen...pain is pain...joy is joy...and how I need God's grace to fully enter into that person's story in a way that is graceful...and lately, I am finding I need to extend that same grace to myself...blessings, Jen :)

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  14. As a coach, I find myself in this position a lot... I learned quick, fast and in a hurry that without Jesus, my words are just empty. So you are very right, Jen! The best thing we can do in those moments is to pray for wisdom and discernment, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through us.

    PS: Thanks for this great link up. Love it. As usual :-)

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  15. So often I get involved in someone's story and forget this "in the moment" praying. But when I remember WHO has the words of comfort or wisdom needed, it makes the biggest difference.

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  16. Wow - a very wise post indeed. Yes, I have found myself at a loss for words at times. Especially when people are struggling with sadness. But I have found, in my own sorrow, that people saying anything is comforting. It is their willingness to be *present* in my grief that speaks most loudly.

    GOD BLESS.

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