Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Goal-with-a-Capital-G

You know that annoying woman in Proverbs 31, the perfect one who makes the rest of us look bad?   I think I've figured out part of her secret.  (No, not the part about being a good wife.  I'll work on that another time.  ;-) )  I think part of her secret was this:  She was very deliberate about what she did.

Recently, I have been very deliberate about how I parent.  I know what my Goal-with-a-capital-G is for my family.  And as long as I keep this Goal in mind, parenting my teens (and almost-teen) is not the struggle it is when I lose sight of the Goal.

My Goal?  To glorify God by raising my children to be productive adults who will be equipped to also glorify Him with their lives.

So when you see me doing something as a parent that seems wrong, or even just not quite what you would do, please don't hesitate to ask me why I am doing it.  In fact, don't hesitate to challenge me to explain to you how it will further my Goal. 

Chances are good that I will be able to meet that challenge, because if I have learned anything from that perfect woman in Proverbs 31, it is to be deliberate.  And if I can't answer you, then I know that it is time for me to fix my eyes on my Goal once more, so you will have done me a favor by directing me back to what really matters.

And someday, when my children are all grown, I hope to be able to see God smile as He tells me, "Well done!  You have accomplished your Goal, and I am pleased!"

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What Is it?

It is what it is.

I  hear this phrase often from divorced people.  On the surface, this little phrase indicates that a person is "over" his or her divorce, that he or she has accepted it and is ready to move on.  It's often said with a shrug, as if the end of a marriage were really no big deal.

It is what it is.

But I beg to differ.  The death of a marriage is a very big deal.  It is the ripping apart of something God joined together (Mark 10:9).  It is the desecration of  a sacred portrayal of the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:32).  It is something that God hates and an act of violence (Malachi 2:16) and usually involves other sins that contributed to the divorce.

It is what it is.

What it is does not deserve to be accepted with a shrug and a trite phrase.  Divorce should be mourned for the death, for the tearing apart, for the desecration that it is.  It should be mourned because it is the choice of a man and/or woman to willingly, knowingly choose to do something that God, who is love, hates.  Divorce should be mourned as any act of violence is mourned, with compassion for the victims, who are often innocent children left to suffer the sins of their fathers and mothers.  It should be mourned because sin has piled on sin and more sin on top of that, until the marriage was crushed beneath the weight of it and destroyed.

It is what it is.

How often do we as divorced people stop  to think about what it is?  How much time do we take to mourn, to allow God to break our hearts over our divorces?  How often do we reject the world's attitude that a divorce is some sort of liberation and should be celebrated?  I am not suggesting that we should wallow in our circumstances.  But I am suggesting this: we should not casually brush off the death of our marriages with a trite phrase.  When we do so, I question whether this really indicates that we  are over it.  I suspect that sometimes it means that we just don't want to deal with it anymore.

It is what it is. 

Once we have considered carefully what it is, have recognized it for the tragedy that it is, then and only then are we ready to move on. And somehow, after accepting it for what it is, I wonder if we will be so quick to shrug and say

It is what it is.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Equipped for My Calling

I am studying to be a marriage and family counselor, but sometimes I wonder if I will be very good at it.  So far, each time  I have my doubts, God reassures me and reaffirms  my calling.  The last few times, He has done this by sending someone, sometimes even  one of my fellow counselors-in-training, to seek my counsel.  This is a good general reaffirmation of my calling.

But lately, I have wondered how I would handle certain specific types of clients.  For instance, how would I handle a client with schizophrenia or one with cognitive issues?  How will I listen to heart-breaking stories without crying?

In the past week, I have had three opportunities to find out how I will handle these specific types of situations.   

First, I spend some time at a local cafe that is located in the distressed community I live in.  A few days ago, as I was leaving the cafe, a few of the regulars there were hanging out on the sidewalk smoking, including one who sufferes from schizophrenia.  I had been warned  about this particular man, as he has been known to grab women and kiss them,  but he had never done more than say hi to me in the past.  As I walked past him, he said, "Wait a minute!  Come here."  So I stopped.  He looked at me with what I am pretty sure was supposed to be a sexy smile and said, "So, whadda ya think?  You like?"  I responded with a smile, "I think I need to get going or I'll be late!" and escaped to my van, and he just laughed.  Apparently God will equip me with the proper response to someone with schizophrenic disorder. 

Second, this past weekend, my mom developed a UTI, which in an elderly person, can include confusion as one of its symptoms.  I spent about three hours in the emergency room with her, and during that time, she asked me repeatedly how she came to be there.  Her short term memory was temporarily gone.  My aunt, who was with me, tells me she was amazed at how gently and patiently I repeated the story over and over and over.  So am I, because on the inside, I wanted to scream.  Apparently God will equip me for dealing with those with cognitive impairments.

Finally, I spent some time this weekend talking to a friend.  I knew this friend had come from a very bad marriage, but I heard details.  Those details made me want to cry, but my friend didn't need my tears.  My friend needed my strength this time, and God provided the strength I needed to temper my compassion so that I wouldn't cry.  Apparently God will equip me to hold back my tears when I hear about heart-breaking situations.

So there is my answer:  God will equip me for each and every situation.  I can go confidently where He has called me knowing that He goes ahead of me, walks beside me, and has my back.   Thank God!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I have been asking God to show me a way out of a certain situation for a while now.  Recently, He seemed to be doing just that.  I saw a door ahead of me, and I thought maybe this was the way I had asked for.  The door was a bit scary, though, because I couldn't see what might be on the other side of it, and it was only open the tiniest crack, so I approached it with some trepidation.  Before I got the whole way to  it, it slammed shut. 
So here I am, still wondering what God is doing and why He hasn't shown me the way out. 
One thought that keeps trying to sneak in, but I am not certain if it is from God or from my own faulty human logic, is that maybe, just maybe, God is telling me that I am not supposed to leave this situation.  Maybe He wants me to stay in it, until I have accomplished something or learned something.  Maybe, just maybe, the lesson I need to learn is to be content while I wait on Him to take care of this situation.
If only I knew!

Monday, January 9, 2012

An Open Letter to Married Men

Allow me to be blunt:  If you are a married man,  you should NOT be flirting with me.  Let me clarify:  If you are a married man and you put the moves on me, do you really expect me to respond positively?  My husband cheated on me, so do you honestly think that I will be impressed by a married man who flirts with other women?  Really?  Do you think I'm that stupid, that desperate? 

Let me note, this is not addressed to any one specific man, but rather to the several married men who have tried to start something with me in the past few years, to the men who thought because I wasn't wearing a wedding ring, I would be flattered by their attention.

Admittedly, when I was still reeling from the shock of finding out about my husband's affair and his leaving, I was more vulnerable.  I sucked up that attention like a kid slurping the last bit of a chocolate milkshake out of the glass.

But no more.  I am not stupid.  If you, as a married man, will behave that way with me, a woman who is not your wife,  why on earth would I want to get involved with you?  You've already clearly demonstrated your inability to be faithful.  I've already been there, done that with a cheating husband, and I am not signing up for that root canal again!

So take my advice:  stop flirting with me.  You aren't doing me a favor.  You certainly aren't doing your wife a favor.  And quite honestly, you are making yourself look like a pathetic cheating jerk, so you aren't doing yourself a favor.

That's all.  Putting my soapbox away.   

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Silence Is Golden

I've been thinking about the things people say to one another when they are trying to offer comfort or wisdom.  I'm especially thinking about those things that I have said to friends in the past, with the best of intentions, but somehow, I missed the mark totally. Sometimes, I just needed to say what I said at a different maybe years later when I actually knew what I was talking about because I had finally walked a mile in shoes that resembled theirs.  More often than not, though, I needed to just not say anything. 

One of those things that well-meaning people say (okay, okay, that I have said in the past, before I knew better) is, "You should be able to find all you need in God.  You shouldn't need another person to be happy."  That was pretty easy for me to say when I was happily married.  It's pretty easy for the famous Christian author/speaker who goes home to her supportive husband after she speaks to say.  But the truth of the matter is, it's wrong and it is not easy for unmarried people to hear.

God is not all a person needs to be happy. 

Before you drag me outside the gates and stone me for heresy, let me explain.

When God created man,  He saw all that he had made, and it was very good.  (Genesis 1:31).  But then in Genesis 2:18, things get a little more complicated.  The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.   So if God is all we need, why did God create "a helper suitable" for man?  God's design from the very beginning was that people need fellowship and intimacy with other people.  And He created not a same sex best friend for Adam, but a woman, a wife with whom he could have that intimacy. 

Apparently God did not intend for man to find all that he needed in Himself.  He intended from the start to provide for some of man's needs through the intimate relationship between one man and one woman.

Another point:  Being HAPPY is not the same as being JOYFUL.  Happiness depends on circumstances.  Joy depends on something much deeper, in my case, a relationship with God.  So although I may not be happy at times, I can still have joy.  That joy is what comes from being in right relationship with God, not happiness.  God never guarantees anyone happiness, and even when I am in close relationship with God, there will be times when I am in a slump where I am not happy.

As you may have noticed, I go through periodic slumps when I really miss being married.  And it seems that each time I go through one of my slumps, some well-meaning friend shares that bit of widsom about finding all I need to be happy in God and God alone.  While I appreciate these friends' attempts to help, sometimes I wish they just wouldn't say anything at all.  Sometimes, I don't need a gem like that. Sometimes, silence is golden and a hug conveys more than mere words can.

But as I noted at the beginning, I am prone to offering such wrong advice at times myself.  Thus, I leave you with this prayer I need to pray often:

God, please seal my lips with your holy muzzle (Psalm 39) and let me open my mouth only when I can say something that will glorify You!  Amen.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Behave, Silly Emotions!

I'm trying to figure out why my emotions won't obey my intellect. 

In my head, I know all the reasons why I don't need a husband, boyfriend, or other relationship with a man.  I understand that at this point in my life, I don't have time for a relationship.  I am committed to my children and school, and I have made a rational decision that this is not the time to throw a man into the mix. 

I've even asked God to take away any desire for a romantic relationship.

He hasn't. 

My heart refuses to get with the program.  I am lonely, and my heart wants a stable, emotionally intimate relationship with someone of the opposite sex.  I want someone to hold me at the end of a long day, to offer me a backrub when I have been sitting in front of the computer for too long, to listen to me vent when I read something I don't agree with.

And it's not just ANY man.  If it were, I know of at least one who would be a willing candidate.  I want a man with a certain set of qualities. 

Funny thing is, I suspect that even if a man who seemed perfect for me and my kids came along today, my caution would cause me to take a long time to get to know him, to find out if he really had the qualities I am looking for.  So even if Mr. Perfect showed up on my doorstep, I wouldn't have what my emotions desire for quite some time.

Silly emotions.

But still, I can't help but borrow David's lament in Psalm 13:1-2:

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

My heart wants to know when God will remember me, turn His face toward me, rid me of these silly emotions, give  me happiness, and allow me to triumph over loneliness once and for all.

My head knows He already has.

If only my emotions would behave!