Clayheart

Outpourings from an imperfect but redeemed & treasured heart of clay.

Category: Love (page 1 of 3)

Openness and Relationship

I wrote part of this post last November, but I’m going to finish it today in June 2016. 2015 was a year of minimal writing, if any. I feel like I’m finally coming out of that again and being restored and taken into a place where I have the energy and means to write once more on a consistent basis.

Last year was like one struggle after another. I would take time to overcome one thing, only to be smacked in the head by the next wave of pain. It was an emotional roller coaster that bled into the early parts of 2016. I don’t think I had ever felt quite that beat up by “life” before.

I had been so tired and overwhelmed back then that I wasn’t even able to pull myself to express things outwardly. So I did a lot of withdrawing and isolating within myself. Even the little that I did, the tone of my writings tended to lean more on the gloomy side.

I was really smarting last fall and winter due to the way people I’d opened up to and trusted chose to treat my heart. If there’s one thing I can’t handle, it’s neglect, disregard, and hidden feelings. I find these far more painful than rejection. I want things exposed and out in the open. It’s so much easier to deal with them in relationships that way.

I spent a lot of time grieving about “relationship” over that past year, and thought a lot of how greatly we’ve diminished it in society, the body of Christ, and as a whole. I am as guilty of this as any. But I can’t seem to stop dwelling on the active living relationships, how we relate with one another in this day and age and society.

There had been multiple breaks in relationship for various reasons that past year, and it was painful. It was painful because I couldn’t air things out for a while, because stirring it up meant potentially hurting other relationships in the process. Or the other party could not handle it being out in the open.

Relationship…

It’s what we were created for… and yet, it’s one of the hardest things for each of us to develop and maintain.

Relationship describes or defines how two or more people are connected to one another. Within relationships there can be distance and intimacy. However, we are built for and drawn toward intimacy.  What else was the Cross for but to rebuild that intimacy in relationship with God?

We crave acceptance and understanding. “Love” is also probably the highest on the list in our human desire/need bank, and we seek it out. We often search for it in all the wrong ways too, sometimes leaving us confused, broken, and hurting when what we thought was love was only a cheap imitation or worse. But it still doesn’t stop our drive, it may hinder it for a while and we isolate, but regardless of what phase we enter on the search – we still want closeness and safety, we still desire relationship.

Yet on this journey for love, closeness, safety, acceptance, and intimacy… there are always risks to discovering where that all resides. And in the process, there is awkwardness, uncertainty, miscommunication, different expectations, and vulnerability, just to name a few. It’s only for the courageous, and those who don’t want to play games with others’ emotions… but who will truly battle through to find what is real. Those who are willing to break off the masks and facade, risk the awkwardness, break through the uncertainty, communicate until there is clarity and understanding, destroy your expectations over someone without giving up your standards, and remaining open enough to learn trust even if you’ve been hurt.

Then you’ll come to find where true love resides… in Christ alone. Then after you’ve discovered Him, you want to be more like Him, and have relationship with those around you like He would.

A friend of mine once said to my sister “marriage is sanctifying.” That phrase stuck with me so deeply and I still cannot get it out of my head. But I’ve changed a word in it to include all of us because what is marriage anyway but a chosen commitment to forge a unique, exclusive, and deeper relationship?

Relationships are sanctifying…

I mentioned this verse in my previous writing, but I actually had included it in this writing back in November.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-11

How can we be one in spirit and one in mind? We are all unique individuals created by God, yet we’re supposed to be in relationship with one another…

Conflicts always arise in relationship because we are separate from each other, but I think this verse is talking about a journey toward oneness in spirit and mind, by humbling ourselves and valuing another above ourselves just as Jesus did/does.

We learn to love and conduct relationship each and every day. It always looks different, and it’s all helping sanctify us by the grace of God.

I recently brought up an uncomfortable subject to a friend of mine. It took us a few hours to work through and communicate about it fully, but he was willing to go to that place with me. I broke through the uncertainty of whether I should bring the conflict out into the open, he responded by willingly risking the awkwardness of the topic. Then we each communicated until there was clarity and understanding on both sides. Humbly we listened to the other and began to understand the expectations we had over the situation and relationship as a whole. We each expressed ourselves vulnerably and grew in grace. By the end of the conversation, the closeness of our relationship, trust, and safety in the other person had been restored.

While I’m not exactly sure what Paul meant by being one in spirit and one in mind. I feel like my experience with my friend the other night was very close to it. Two separate people coming together to a mutual understanding and acceptance of their relationship and who each individual is with sensitivity to the Spirit of God moving in each of our hearts. We displayed our relationship and responded in openness.

The Life of an “Individual” Marriage

Monday, December 13, 2010

I haven’t written here in a while. I suppose it is because I have been “busy” with other things and life. I think I need to start this up again, and writing out some of my opinions, what I believe the Lord puts in my heart (based on His Word), and some of the frustrations that are brought on by my observations.

Though I have neglected to write on this blog, I have written some in my personal journal – and I do still very much have opinions that need to be written out or my head and heart may implode.

Though at this stage and season of my life, I only have the role of a daughter and sister. I definitely have a strong standard, convictions, and opinions on the role of a wife and noble woman. Not that I have met this standard myself (I am far from it) but I know the standard that is set before me that is spoken and laid out by God himself…

There are so many marriages to observe and learn from while you are un-wed. I pray that these lessons stick in my heart deep, because I do not want to cause this misery I observe to the man I marry.

In this post, I have on my heart to write of an “individual” marriage… not as in, a particular marriage, but about the marriage of individuals…

God created us, male and female… we are two different creatures with two different roles and different strengths and weaknesses. He creates each of His children individually, specially and uniquely made. I don’t think many people really quite know what they’re getting into or signing up for when they get married… that’s probably why the divorce rate has increased so much over the years and is still at 50% (including in Christian households – sad). Females, in my humble opinion, for the most part typically fall in love with being “in love” (or so they think). I’ve observed many a Christian girl who so desperately want to be married, and I often wonder if they truly know who they’re marrying and what they think they’re marriage will look like.

We live in a society that pushes “fairy-tale love” instead of REAL love… independence and individuality instead of service and denying-self. We grow up in this society saying that it is “right” and “normal” to be the former, in some cases we’re even taught it or fed it by our parents. Movies, music, books, news, peers, friends, etc. all push the “fairy-tale love” or the touchy-feely butterflies love, and to be independent and individual. I am not denying that there is physical attraction (and should be), that you do get butterflies when you love someone, but I’m saying – is this true love or just infatuation or lust sometimes? You grow up with peer-pressure from all sides telling you you need to move out at this time, or disobey/dishonor your parents in this way, or be in a relationship in order to “be somebody”. With the physical society tangible world yelling one thing, it’s difficult to hear the still small voice of Yah saying the opposite… the still small voice that says ‘honor your parents’ ‘serve’ ‘deny yourself, take up your cross – follow me instead of the world’ ‘I’ll show you what true love is’ and even ‘I’ll show you what real marriage looks like’. Yet we choose to break the Father’s heart and go our own way – holding on to our individuality, independence, and cheap version of love and marriage…

I’m not sure if I’m forming the picture or explaining my point very well, but bare with me…

Let’s just take an example of the average American Christian female. She desperately wants to be married because she sees the beauty of it in her own parents lives (or maybe her parents’ marriage wasn’t so great and she thinks she can do better) and knows that the Lord set up marriage in the very beginning. Nothing wrong with that, right? She’s independent and was raised to have her own life… she dates a great Christian guy for a couple years, and they “fall in love” and get married. Here’s where the reality check starts to come in for our average American Christian girl… the fairy-tale love and dream of marriage doesn’t look like she thought it would. She’s losing her individuality and doesn’t know who she is anymore! She worrys all the time about bills and money or dishes and food, ‘he’s not affectionate enough’, ‘he’s not the man I married’… Now what?

I think this case happens with a lot of marriages though… because instead of loving the other person, denying ourselves, seeing our spouse as someone to become ONE with, and to lift above ourselves… we’ve been fed the crap of individualism, and fall in love with being “in love” or being “married” instead of falling in love with a person. Huh… funny how its so similar to the Christian walk – we so often fall in love with the blessings, “being a Christian”, belonging to a group, “saving others”, worshiping, praying, reading our Bibles, learning more, forgiveness, not going to Hell, etc… that we forget the Person, Jesus Christ, we don’t LOVE Him for real then, do we? We’re in love with ourselves at that point, and our own legend… just like the female Christian example was in love with herself and the picture she painted in her head of “marriage”.

This marriage then becomes two roommates… two people fighting for their individuality… or maybe in some cases 1 person fighting for their individuality, and the other trying to be one with one. In this case, the person fighting for individuality is sucking the life out of or using the other who is trying to serve and be one.

Individualism is a scary thing in a marriage. The beauty of marriage is that you are two individuals… BECOMING ONE! That’s how God set it up… but we so often screw it up. Holding on to your “individuality” when you’re married is incorrect – and is not a marriage. You do lose your “individuality” because you are no longer just your own, you belong to the other – that was part of your covenant sealing before God, that’s what you signed up for and made a promise to. If you don’t think you did, then you’re wrong and you weren’t completely there at your wedding ceremony. But it’s like holding on to your individuality when God asks you to deny-yourself and follow Him – it just can’t work. You can’t give your life over to the Lord and then try to take it back. You follow one master or the other, there is no in between – no grey areas… you should deny yourself in your earthly marriage, otherwise you’re simply loving yourself. What you do affects the other, and visa versa – you are one. When you married someone, you took all of them – flesh, habits, personality, quirks, and all… they are one with you and you are one with them. You are no longer JUST an individual, you took on this other person – your soul mate – you belong to them. So if you wed with the wrong idea of marriage, of course you’ll think you’re “losing your individuality”… because you are SUPPOSED to. You do have individual giftings, weaknesses, and strengths – but they are to be used in the process of becoming one. You can no longer be selfish, your own, just you… you must consider the other above yourself, be selfless, wash his feet….

Marriage to someone on earth is a reflection of your relationship (marriage) with the Lord… it’s the earthly symbol of it. How amazingly cool is that?! So many people don’t treat it this precious though, we’d rather hold on to our selves and our individuality… instead of serving the other individual and becoming one with him… read the Bible for instructions on marriage if you’re losing sight of what it really is all about.

I know this isn’t a very organized post, but I was simply sharing… I didn’t say as much as I wanted to, or in the way in which I wanted to, but there you have it. I’ll post some Bible verses to back this all up…

Genesis 2:24
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become ONE FLESH.

Psalm 119:33-36
Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

1 Corinthians 7:3-4
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.

1 Cointhians 13:4-8a (we all know this one… but do we actually act upon it?)
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not SELF-SEEKING, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Ephesians 4:22-24
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

READ Ephesians 5
READ Colossians 3
READ 1 Peter 3 (by the way females, in this passage it states that wives are the weaker partner – if you have a problem with this, you have a problem with God… God’s word is true, and wives ARE the WEAKER partner – whether you like it or not, to put it bluntly)

Revelation 19: 6-9
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herselve ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

I know there are lots of others, but I have to actually write them out because they won’t copy/paste. But soak in these for a while… let the Lord come in and move, repent if you need to, and allow Him to change your heart.

Also, remember to go wash his feet in some way… by washing His feet.

Personal Confession Time

I have a confession… it’s a hard and painful one to admit too. But if I can finally get it written out and publically displayed, then maybe I’ll be free of it. Maybe then the Lord will heal me, and maybe I’ll be able to pour my heart out through written prose freely and openly again.

I stopped believing in love.

No wonder I haven’t “felt” anything in months. No wonder I’ve been numb and jaded.

Now, that may be a strange phrase to read. Sounds a bit humanistic when I look at it. But to believe in love goes hand-in-hand with believing in God. God is love (1 John 4:8 & 4:16 say so). He doesn’t just love people, or possess it as a quality… He IS love, He embodies it. He created it and is the whole and perfect expression of love.

The Lord revealed the depth of my indifference toward love today on my drive home from work. He had been softening me up for a while, but I tried to harden up again today… so He broke me down and opened me up. Tears are brought to my eyes again just thinking about it.

I was listening to a CD I had put in my car player on the drive TO work this morning, and the track changed to Holy Wedding Day by The City Harmonic. Man, I’m telling you, I really like that song. So I turned it up loud as it started and stuck my arm out the window to raise my hand in worship. Next moment, I was weeping… totally unexpectedly.

See, it’s that very specific love that I stopped believing in. Initially, I thought that I had just stopped believing in marriage and romance. In the very deep chasms of my heart, I have intensively romantic qualities… I just never reveal it fully, never let it out, because it’s sacred… I almost shared this part of my heart, twice, but I kept it hidden inside and ended up displaying my control and fears instead. It was over before I ever even got to a new title or status. The second time was the hardest, because I had kept these feelings for this particular man hidden for years, even while trying to let go and let the first one in… until my heart was so weighed down with sorrow that any hope of romance just vaporized.

Unintentionally, I had wrapped up all “love” into “romance.” So when I perceived anything romantic in my heart had died, my belief in love went with it. Two failed attempts at ‘more than friends,’ and I had given up. My heart is not easily given over to romance. I can’t jump from guy to guy or just meet people and ‘hit it off’. For those two guys, it had taken me years to even warm up to the idea. So I resolved that I just wasn’t cut out for romance, and definitely not cut out for marriage if I can’t even get beyond the friend zone. Why even get married if most of them die anyway? Or so this was my thought process and flawed perspective…

I’ve seen and felt too much heartache and heartbreak. I’ve gone into places that most people don’t dare step foot into, because it may be too sad or depressing. I soak it all in whether I want to or not.

Nursing homes where older adults are trapped because their kids won’t or don’t have the ability to take care of them. If you listen, you hear the heartbreak, confusion, and pain of these widows and widowers. You hear the longing and need for love, but so few are willing to give it.

I’ve worked with kids in the foster system who are not only given up by their biological parents, but by their adoptive parents as well. Then when they’re in the system, they’re left with people who may or may not truly love or care for them, but are out to selfishly or surfacely display insincere acts of supposed kindness and help. A place where caregivers can’t say “I love you.” If you listen, you can hear the anger, confusion, and pain of these children. You hear the longing and need for love, but so few are willing to give it.

I’ve worked with youth who were abused – physically, emotionally, sexually, or a combination of all. I’ve worked in homes where parents or even the child themselves don’t know if they’re going to make it past their next birthday, or maybe they already went through that fear of losing that child so they’re still unsure… or they already had lost a child. You hear the pain, I feel it, I see it… and listen to the longing and need for love in all of these settings.

So much pain… and then the broken healthcare system says I cannot talk about Jesus, because that’s apparently “religion” or so says company policy. I can’t give those hurting children real hugs or tell them they are genuinely loved, because it is “no touch” facility. I’m told I cannot even keep in contact with the children or families I’ve worked with after I leave. I’ve even stifled my expressions of love, to acquiesce to what others pressure me to do or be. With the work I have done, with the companies I’ve worked for, I’ve been conditioned to fear loving and building relationship with these hurting people.

So I’ve let this all influence me and I’ve stayed away, I’ve given in to these worldly policies and the lies of the enemy… distanced myself, stopped believing in love and the healing power of love through the Cross and expression of love Himself, Jesus – both with personal intimate relationships and my vocational relationships. The true, selfless, unconditional, deeply loyal, agape love. The Jesus love. The one that laid down everything, His very life, for His bride… this was the root, this was actually where I stopped believing in love.

I want to be conditioned and equipped properly by God alone, to genuinely love, despite what the world is saying – and to believe in this love, to walk in it, to be consumed by it, and to let the depth of my romantic qualities come out and be expressed in a healthy way that honors God, without fear. I can express all of my romantic qualities within my heart before Him, freely and safely. He is my husband and I still will be a bride someday, at the greatest wedding of all!

Today, without fear, I gave butterfly kisses to the little girl with medical challenges that I work with… I began building a relationship and bonding with her through safe touch and fun. It may be part of my job to care for her, but it’s part of my calling to love her.

The Lord has given me a sensitive, unique heart for a reason… I am hard-wired for intimate relationships and love, to share Him in such a way and show where He is in the midst of the pain… and I am going to fight again with all that is in me to not allow the rules of this world and the lies of the enemy to crowd out what I’m called to do. And that is to show relentless, unconditionally, beautiful genuine love to everyone I come in contact with out of the overflow of love poured into my heart by God, through His Son and blood, and the Holy Spirit.

Thank God for brokenness! Holy is the Lord Almighty! You alone are worthy to be praised!

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