Love Does No Harm

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law

I can’t stand it when my children don’t do what I ask them to do. “Why does your room look like this?” “Why didn’t you say thank you?” “Why did you hit your brother?”  Why can’t they just be perfect little angels all of the time? Or robots even? Can’t I program them to listen to me?

I do expect this behavior from my children, even if it frustrates me like no other. They are kids after all, and it’s part of the deal.

But what about when grown ups start acting in ways I don’t like?

Whether it’s saying something I didn’t expect, or doing something that throws me for a loop,  I can become really irritated very quickly.

I think the older I become, the less patience I have. It’s not something I am proud of. I should always try and remain graceful but sometimes it is really hard.

Really hard.

Especially with adults.

In moments when I’m biting my tongue in frustration and trying to act in the most Christ like of ways, I have to remember how Jesus feels when we don’t behave in the ways that He wants us to.

Which happens all of the time of course.  We are always messing up.

But thankfully He loves us anyway.

And it’s with a great and endless love, one that will never cease.

Romans 13 tells us that love does no  harm to a neighbor.  It’s this love  I need to carry with me when people frustrate me. It’s this love I need to wear when they disappoint me. It’s this love I need to show when someone hurts  me.

It’s a love I am commanded to give by a Savior who died for me.

 

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Spider Webs

Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

I can’t stand walking into spider webs. Not only do I spin around like  a crazy woman, trying to get them off of me, but I’m always afraid the spider is somehow still on there and is now somewhere on my body.

Ick.

It’s kind of fitting that spider webs remind me of sin. Sometimes the webs are in plain sight, right there in front of you. The sun is shining directly on its threads and you walk around it with ease. Other times, a web can be hard to spot. Oh it’s directly in your path, but you can’t see it. Pretty soon, you have walked straight into it and are now spinning around like crazy trying to get out of it.

We have all walked into these webs because we are all imperfect beings. As sinners, we sometimes walk headfirst into the webs that we can see. Other times, we stumble into the hidden ones, realizing only later that whatever it is we have gotten caught up with was a terrible idea.

We then peel the web off of us. Hoping to get rid of the sin, but afraid that spider is still out there lurking around

Ready to make another web.

Thankfully, God sent us someone to help cut through the spider webs. Romans 8 tells us the Holy Spirit is here to help us in our weaknesses. God knows we can’t do it alone. He knows we aren’t always going to see the spider webs.  He also knows we are going to walk willingly into a few. But His helper will always be there to help us get out of them.

I find the closer I get to God, the easier those webs are to spot. It doesn’t mean I won’t walk into a few, but I am more aware, more alert, and more focused.

And I know The Holy Spirit will always be there, ready to smash any spider that might still be hiding about.

 

 

Fan Wars

Ephesians 4:2-3 Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. 

Every evening, Landon and I participate in what I like to call The Fan Wars. The never ending battle we have about whether the fan should be on or off in our bedroom.  He wants the fan on.  I want it off. If he leaves the room, I sneak quietly over to the switch and turn it off. Sometimes he notices right away.  Other times it takes him a few minutes.

It’s one of those things in our marriage that we just can’t compromise on. He gets hot (blah) and I hate moving air. So every night it’s a fight. It’s groaning and eye rolling and griping.

Marriage can be a never ending battle if you let it. After all, we are all sinners who tend to want to do things our own way. I want the fan off because it’s uncomfortable to me. He wants it on because he is uncomfortable. Compromising is not something we jump up and down to do. As sinners we tend to think our way is the best way.  We  don’t understand when others don’t think like we do. (What’s wrong with them?) And sometimes we are hardest on the people we are closest too.

Life can harden you. And marriage and children and work problems and life in general can make you a little less sweet. Ephesians tells us to be humble and gentle to those we love, while also reminding us to be  patient and  bearing.  Sometimes those things are really difficult for me.  I don’t want to be humble all of the time. I want it to be all about me. I want to be right and I want things done my way.

When you put Jesus in the center of your marriage, it suddenly isn’t all about you.  It’s about having a marriage that glorifies Him. That means compromise. That means being humble and patient and bearing.

It means loving your spouse so deeply that it makes Jesus smile from ear to ear.

Even when you really want to turn that fan off.

Training Wheels

Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Earlier, we let the boys bike a lap around our neighborhood without us. Scary right? I am not adjusting well to having an almost tween living at my house who is capable of riding his bike around the neighborhood with friends and taking his little brother along with him. I had to get over my temporary panic attack, take a couple of deep breaths, and let my growing boys go.

Life was so much easier when they were still on training wheels.

When they wore helmets without whining and elbow pads and knee pads. Nothing was going to break them.

Even when we took the wheels off, we still would run beside them or right behind them.

Ready to catch them at a moment’s notice.

Finally, they break free. They can do it all on their own. Without your help.

There’s no one standing behind them.

For most of my son’s lives, their father and I  have held their hands when it comes to their growing faith. We have brought them to church, read them the Bible, prayed with them and taught them about Jesus. They have been in a beautiful, safe bubble. They have been on training wheels.

Even now, being a little bit older, we are still there for them when there is a problem or a question. Mom and Dad and their pastors will know what to do. They will always know what to say.

But one day they will start to break free. They will start to wander. They will face hardships, make decisions, and embark on relationships outside of our control.

We won’t  be there holding the backs of their bikes.

And we won’t have the right answer.

One day, my sons will hold their faith out in front of them and question all of it.

And we will have to let them.

But we will pray that their faith, even when shaken, will not fall from its solid foundation.

And we will have to have even more faith. Faith in God and faith in our children. We will have faith that what they have learned on those training wheels, and with us right beside them, will have become second nature to them.

Just like when they learned to ride a bike.

And they might go off too far. They might make some wrong turns, get in some bad, crashes and have run ins with people who want to take them on different paths.

But they will always get back on.

And just like when they rode their bike for the first time without training wheels,  we will be cheering them on.

Smiling from ear to ear.

 

A New Lens 

I have two sons.

Brady is a beautiful little chipmunk with green eyes and a smile that could launch a thousand ships.  His skin is brown. Brown like my own. Brown like his Aunt’s and brown like his Uncle’s. Brown like my father’s was.

Brady’s skin color isn’t the same as his own father’s. It’s much darker. He doesn’t even look like his little brother Eli.

Eli is fair. With lighter hair and paler skin. (And a crooked little smile too)

Most people don’t look at Eli and automatically  try and place him in a category.  Eli will go through his life living this way.  When most people see Eli-they will see Eli first.

Not anything else.

But with Brady… well I don’t know.

Some people might not always see Brady first.  There might be a pause.  Perhaps even a brazen question-“Do you mind if I ask you what you are?” “Where did you get that beautiful skin?” “Who gave you those curls?”

Questions people might not even think are offensive.  Questions from sincere and kind hearted people. Questions not meant to seperate us but are actually innate to curious human beings who love to sort and categorize each other.

But still… questions that Eli probably won’t be asked. Unless maybe he is with his brother.

Questions Eli won’t even have to think about because he will be seen as Eli first and foremost.  A fun loving, sandy haired kid with freckles on his nose he inherited from his British grandmother.

Questions that when asked to Brady might leave him feeling nervous or confused or frustrated.  Questions that he might brush off or laugh away, but still they might nag at him later and he’s not sure why.

I pray Brady will always be seen for Brady first but people are people. Someone’s always going to ask.  I know firsthand.

Regardless, his father and I are trying to raise him up in the way he should go. He knows God doesn’t see color. He knows hate in your heart causes it to blacken.  He knows love is always the best weapon to fight with.

But I pray Brady and his little brother Eli are being raised to also think about perspective.

Your sense of reality is not the same as someone else’s.  Your fears are different than theirs. Your sense of security might not be their sense of security. They might not understand why that question is offensive or why you don’t like being called that name.  You might not understand things about them either.  We all live different lives with different understandings and different points of view.

And with that knowledge, wear a new lens. A lens that carries with it a devotion to make all people feel safe.

Psalm 91.4 reminds us of how the Lord will cover us with His feathers and we will find refuge in His wings.
Give people refuge when you meet them. Wrap them up in it, like a blanket.  Make everyone you encounter feel safe and secure. Even if they are a different skin color than you. Even if they speak a different language than you. Even if they are wearing a different uniform than you.

Come to them with a heart filled with  compassion and with a deep understanding.  An understanding that you might not understand what they understand.
But you are still willing to fold them up in your wings and give them refuge.

Or at least give them understanding.

Wrapped up with a little bit of love.