Clayheart

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

Category: Relationship (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.

Belief Expressions

So after my confession of “bitterness”, repenting before the Lord and asking for His deliverance, forgiving those that I perceived had wronged me, and moving forward into a renewed state of mind… my attitude has totally shifted. Life has felt so much lighter and I feel so much more at peace, even despite a lot of situational chaos and drama going on around me.

The past two weeks have been very busy, full of new experiences and perspectives. I’ve been at my “new” job for about 6 weeks now. I’m finally starting to settle into my different roles at work, as well as my new living space. Additionally, the place where I work hires a lot of international college students for the summer. So I’ve been surrounded by a variety of cultures, with their own set of personalities, languages, religions, and value systems.

It’s not only been highly entertaining and exciting to observe and take in so many unique individuals, but it’s been challenging me as an individual as well. I grew up fairly nomadic, so I experienced a lot of different lifestyles and people from various parts of the United States. It broadened my horizons tremendously, while simultaneously keeping me sensitive to the differences of others and grounded in who I am as an individual.

Yet for the most part, all these “different” people I encountered throughout my nomadic youth, spoke the same language as me. We could pretty much relate on a few different levels and our thought processes were similar. Now, there are not only language barriers that bring a set of challenges, but I also don’t often speak the same “mental” or “spiritual” language.

It’s interesting what something as simple as a language barrier surfaces in a human. There is a lot of curiosity surrounding our interactions, with a bit of uncertainty mixed in. It’s interesting how each has to learn to find common ground when you can’t fully understand the language, but add on to that – trying to understand how another person functions or thinks outside of your own culture. I’ve had to adjust to explaining basic English words or phrases, as well as explain concepts that are not easily explainable to people who understand my own language, much less someone where it’s their second or even third language.

It’s quite fascinating and beautiful, these various interactions. Though we’re each so different, we all share a common need for interaction/socialization… relationship. Why is that? Hmm… I already know why, but that’s rhetorical and I’ll leave that up for personal reflection.

I can’t help but ask a lot of new questions lately, as so many new and unique questions are asked of me.

At one point during orientation, we were supposed to state a phrase or word of what we would want most in life, what we want to be remembered by, or what we wanted to do in this lifetime. There were various things stated around my table which were thought provoking to hear. When it got to my turn to say something, I wasn’t quite sure how to sum up what I wanted to be remembered by, but I ended up stating it in two parts: “to love every person unconditionally” and “to bring hope to the broken-hearted”.

My first phrase “to love every person unconditionally” was questioned by the Russian guy sitting next to me. He looked at me and stated “unconditionally?” I wasn’t sure if he didn’t understand the word itself or what he was asking, so I did my best to explain what “unconditional love” was by its English definition of the word itself. Then he was correcting me a little bit and still attempting to wrap his mind around it and said ‘so you meet someone and you just love them?’

These are the types of interactions that are causing me to pause, reflect, and learn how to state my values and what I believe. I’m learning the importance of not only understanding my worldview for myself, and what I believe about life, love and Jesus Christ… but how to actually explain and express it in such a way to someone who doesn’t speak the same “language” as me or who believes differently. It’s challenging, and it’s good. It’s what I need, I think… because it actually helps solidify what I know in my heart and brings conviction when I have to express things outwardly.

I think that’s why the common theme with humans is relationship… we need each other. God created us as relational beings because He wanted a relationship with us, and He wanted us to experience relationship. Relationships help us grow. They are beautiful and painful. They are awkward and comforting. Relationships take us outside of ourselves… they sharpen us, and we learn to get over ourselves, if we’re open to that. They teach us how to love and serve someone else. They teach us what to value. They challenge our false perceptions. They humble us.

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 2:3-11

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.

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