Life Lesson #2: Follow Your Heart


Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind? — Job 38:36 (NLT)

 

For years, I have wanted to be a writer of children’s books.  When I was in my 20’s, I flew to New York City and interviewed with a major publishing house.  I didn’t get the job.  A few years later, I followed the man of my dreams out to Boston to pursue a job in children’s book publishing.  I had dreams of working at Little Brown or Houghton Mifflin.  I went so far as to call Little Brown and offer to work for free.  The girl I spoke with thought I was a crazy person.  I wasn’t crazy; I just really wanted to learn about publishing.

I wound up working for an accounting firm as a secretary, and then I got fired.  I hated my job.  The day my boss and the human resource person told me I was being let go, I looked across the desk at them and said, “Thank you SO MUCH!”  They glanced at each other with a raised eyebrow.  I had no idea how I was going to pay my rent, or even if I would be able to stay living in Boston, but I did know one thing; I was free.  I had been released from a dungeon of drudgery.

I spent the summer looking for a job and collecting unemployment.  My future husband surprised me by taking me on fun outings to get my mind off being unemployed… hiking in New Hampshire, visits to Martha’s Vineyard, dinner and excursions throughout Boston, etc.  The man of my dreams somehow faded out of the picture.  He basically said, “Tough break.”

I’d like to say I persevered and found a job in publishing, but I didn’t.  I wound up in another dull, lifeless secretarial job.  By this time, I had convinced myself I wasn’t supposed to get into publishing.  Throughout the summer, I had continued to look for jobs in publishing.  I had one wonderful man (a vice president at one of Boston’s major publishing houses who rode the same bus I did, and whom I wound up interviewing with) tell me, “In this business, unless you’ve gone to an Ivy League school or come from money, your chances of breaking in are pretty slim.”  That’s when I sort of wilted and gave up.  Publishing wasn’t God’s plan for me.  He had closed every single door I had tried to go through.  Obviously, I was supposed to be knocking on different doors.

I figured since I wasn’t making it in the career world, perhaps I was meant to be a wife and mother.  I changed my focus.  I got married, gave up grad school, had three children, and completely lost my identity.  (Before you start thinking, “Oh boy, here she goes… on the pity-me bandwagon!”, I want to assure you that’s not where I’m headed.  I HAVE been there, done that, but have decided it’s time to get off and start doing what God intended for me to do in the first place… hang on to Him and persevere.)

Throughout my journey, one thing has remained constant (well, two actually, when you count God being the only One who has continued to love me through it all), and that is my love for publishing and writing.  My writing needs a lot of work; it’s rough and tends to segue off onto multiple tangents at times, but it hopefully touches my readers every now and again in a a profound way.  I’m praying it will smooth out in time.

My point to all of this is… if your heart consistently tells you something, and the message rarely changes, LISTEN.  God designed each of us with a specialty.  We’ve each been given a gift.  Your gift will call to you.  It oftentimes will be something that comes naturally.  It can also, at times, require a great deal of studied focus and attention.  It ALWAYS will be something that touches your heart and spreads a warmth throughout your soul.  It will be something that brings you joy, and usually it will be something that blesses others.  So…

Lesson #2: Follow Your Heart

Don’t allow other people to determine what you should do in life.  Don’t be forced into a career that will make you miserable.  So much of our life is spent working, that we really need to be careful that we don’t get locked into doing something we dislike intensely.  If we’re unhappy when we get up in the morning, and we can’t bear the thought of getting out of bed to go to a job we can’t stand, it doesn’t set a good precedent.  There ARE fantastic jobs out there.  It might be something as simple as taking meals to the elderly people on your block or it might be jet-setting around the world cinching major business deals.  If it makes you happy, it’s the right job for you.  The thing is, no one can tell you what it is except YOU.

If you are a young person reading this and  you don’t know what it is, volunteer your services in a variety of areas.  Talk to your friends and ask them what they like/dislike about their job.  Take some time to reflect on whether you enjoy being around people or being alone, working with things or working with ideas, traveling or staying put, working set day shifts or a flexible variety of shifts, being your own boss or having someone else give you direction.  When you’re in high school and college, take a variety of classes.  Get involved in extracurricular activities.  You don’t always need to know what you want to major in at the start of your college career.  Part of the early college experience is exploring your options (of course, high school is an even better time to do this), but my point is to try out a variety of things to find out what you like and what you don’t.  You aren’t going to be good at everything.  That’s okay.  Focus on what you ARE good at.  The rest will fall into place.

If you aren’t so young anymore, but you realize you’ve spent your entire life doing what makes everyone else happy, and you wake up one day and realize you’ve lost your spark, it’s time to reassess things.  It’s never too late to learn something new.  Take some time to think about what you’d rather be doing.  Find some time to go away where it’s quiet.  Take a pen and some paper (or your iPad!) and write down steps on how to make that happen.  It’s a proven fact that the first step in getting from Point A to Point B is to have a plan, so make some goals and write them down.  Start imagining yourself in your new role.  Our thought life is a huge contributor to where we end up in life.  Make a timeline.  You may need to make a budget.  Post these things where you can see them on a daily (or weekly) basis.  Cut out pictures of where you see yourself or what you see yourself doing.  Visual reminders are HUGE in helping us move out of a rut.  Reward yourself along the way to reaching your goal.  Remember, a journey begins with a single step.  If you don’t take that initial first step, you are never going to get to where you want to go.  Believe in yourself and others will believe in you too.

Go on now… get going!  I’m rooting for you!

Lori Lynn

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.  –Steve Jobs

 

 

Life Lesson #1 (Updated): Deal with Your Stuff


“… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. — Romans 3:23-24 (NIV)

{I originally wrote this post in January 2012. It has been rewritten a bit, as events in my life have changed, but the life lesson is still the same (and more important than ever for me to share).}

It’s very difficult when writing a blog to know just how much to share with your readers.  As a writer, I want to touch my readers’ hearts.  I want them to read what I write and say, “Oh my gosh.  I know exactly what she’s talking about!”, or “I SO get where she’s coming from.”  At the same time, I don’t want to share so much that it portrays people in my life in a bad light; because there are two sides to every story, and you are really only hearing mine.  Suffice it to say, because of poor choices I have made in the past, my life has not exactly gone the way I had hoped; but I am hopeful that some of my mistakes can be used for good in teaching others not to do what I did.

Lesson #1:  Do NOT marry someone until you have dealt with your “stuff.”

When I married my husband, I knew I did not love him.  I did know he was a good Christian man, and he had a good heart; and I truly believed that God would help me grow to love him in time.  I was 28 years old, desperately wanted to be a wife and mother, and felt the biological clock ticking.  I had just come out of a four-year off-again-on-again relationship with a man whom I loved more than anything but who had no intention of marrying me anytime soon because of family pressure on his side.  It was actually this man who sat in church with me one day, looked out over the congregation, saw my future husband in one of the front rows, pointed and said, “You should go out with that guy.”  My initial reaction was, “Oh my gosh.  No way.  He is SO not my type!”  (Now I realize that many of you highly-intelligent readers will be asking, “Why did you go out with this guy for four years when he is telling you to go out with other people?”)  Can I just say, “It’s what insecure people do.”  It’s also what led me to marry my husband.

Which brings me back to dealing with our stuff…

We can drag an awful lot of baggage, which we aren’t even aware of, into our marriages.  Are you familiar with any of these:

  • Insecurity
  • Low self-esteem/unworthiness
  • Unresolved relationship issues
  • Poverty (lack of money or love)
  • Emotional/physical/verbal abuse
  • Codependency
  • Anger
  • Mental health issues

If you haven’t dealt with them BEFORE you tie the knot, trust me when I say that you WILL deal with them at some point after.  All of the baggage mentioned above comes with a bountiful set of emotions.  Emotions get triggered in our brains from the darnedest things…  a sound, a smell, a touch, a look, a word, etc.  You may think that you can suppress emotions, but they can only be suppressed for so long.  Emotions are alive, so suppressing them is like burying something alive.  They will eventually erupt and find their way out; and when they do, it isn’t pretty!

I was married for almost 22 years.  I can honestly say, it was a struggle from Day 1.  On my wedding night, I was crying because I had a new last name.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I had every intention of changing my name when I got married.  It wasn’t having a new last name that was the problem; it had everything to do with thinking, “Oh my gosh, I can’t go back.  I’ve made a horrible mistake.  This is not what I wanted.”  I don’t come from a belief system that says, “Get married today and divorced tomorrow.”  I had made a covenant before God.  This was serious business.  For what it’s worth, my husband was probably feeling the same way.  All of the sudden he was faced with a hysterical wife who was not at all like the woman he thought he had married.

In retrospect, I think I was more in love with the IDEA of getting married (the ring, the dress, the flowers, walking down the aisle) than I was with the man I had agreed to marry.  Also, in my insecurity, I didn’t believe anyone else would ever ask me to marry him.  My husband did; therefore, I thought I better jump at the opportunity.

I had had similar feelings (that I was making a mistake) the morning of my wedding but had brushed them off as wedding-day jitters.  At that point, I remember thinking, “I can’t back out now.  Everyone has flown out here for the wedding.  My parents have put a lot of expense into this.”

Both of us lamented the fact that we did not have premarital counseling before our wedding day.  We were supposed to have it.  We even went to our first session; unfortunately, right in the middle of it, our pastor got an emergency phone call and had to end the session.  We somehow never rescheduled.  I think the pastor thought, “These are two mature individuals who obviously love each other, both from good Lutheran stock, so they will be fine.”  (Of course, I have no idea what he was actually thinking.  Pre-marriage counseling for us may have just slipped his mind.)  I do think, though, that many of the conflicts we struggled with over the years would have surfaced in those counseling sessions, and we could have been spared quite a bit of the heartache we experienced (or at least been a little bit more prepared for it).

So, how did we stay married so long?  In this Married-Today-Divorced-Tomorrow Age, I’d like to think it was because neither one of us could come to terms with breaking the covenant we made before our God; and we were both too stubborn to give up.  In reality, it isn’t because of anything WE were thinking or doing.  The truth is that God was the third strand in our cord; and whereas our two strands would have broken early on, His continued holding on.  There was a purpose to all we went through.  Just as an ugly jagged-edged rock can be put into a tumbler and bounced all over for days on end and come out a beautiful gem, our marriage tossed us around enough to remove the jagged edges off of us whereby (hopefully) we can take our mistakes and use them to instruct others.  It means that all of the junk our children were forced to wade through was strengthening them and building them up for service to others.  They will have a sense of compassion and empathy from having “been there” that will give them remarkable insight in helping others through the maze.  I have also come to realize that divorce does not separate us from our stuff.  If not dealt with, our stuff follows us into any relationship we enter into.

Maybe you are in a similar place.  Maybe you’re about to get married and you realize you’re not getting married for the right reasons.  Maybe you’re already married, were lucky enough to have been in love when you walked down the aisle, but now find you have drifted apart.  Maybe you’re struggling with a wayward or mentally-ill child, and it is wreaking havoc in your marriage.  (I have a daughter who is ADHD/NLD/and borderline Asperger’s.  Trust me when I say I KNOW the havoc mental health issues inflict on a marriage.)  Maybe you are a single person who feels the only way you can be loved is to sleep with every person who asks you to with the hope that maybe one of them will propose.  Maybe you are the child of an alcoholic who has become a workaholic to compensate for the love you never got, and you’ve reached the point where you realize you’ve accumulated a lot of things but you have no one to pass them on to.

We all have issues.  We all struggle.  But there is hope.  We CAN deal with our stuff before it deals with us.  We CAN break the cycle that we’re in … be it codependency, verbal abuse, anger.  We CAN stop it.  It isn’t easy.  It means making some tough decisions (for me, it meant filing for divorce after 20+ years), but remember that it is for your good and the good of those who come after you (my children have told me filing for divorce was the right thing to do).  Dare to be the difference in your future child (or grandchild’s life).  Dare to be the one who breaks the chain.  And remember… the best thing you can do is to deal with it BEFORE you get married!

Saved by Grace …

Lori Lynn

Dear Lord… Thank you for being the third strand in the frayed and broken cord now binding me and my children.  Without you, we would have been done a long time ago.  Continue to show us in a myriad of ways that You have a purpose in all that we have gone through and give us the strength to continue holding on until beauty shines through.  Give us the courage to change what we know needs to be changed, and help us to grow to be more like You.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Author’s note: Please know that I am in no way advocating divorce. I am not encouraging it, nor am I condoning it; but it happens.

Although I filed for divorce, I still believe it is wrong; and I will be held accountable when I go before my Father in heaven. But I am convinced that God knows my heart, and He knows why I filed. He knows my ultimate goal is to live for His glory and to show others that our sinfulness does not have to keep us from fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives… oftentimes He uses our mess-ups to connect us to people in ways we never thought possible. We all sin and fall short.  May He grace you today as He has graced me…

The Missing Link


A week or so ago, I came across a blog entry by Karin Friedemann entitled “Asperger’s Syndrome Wives Need Understanding.”  (I haven’t provided a direct link to the page because it appears that she may have plagiarized some of her material from an earlier article written by Carol Brigg, which you can find here.)  Whereas I appreciate Carol Brigg’s article, because it is thoughtful and well written; I have to admit it was Karin Friedemann’s blog entry that made me feel like someone finally fully understood my life.  As I finished the article and read the comments that followed, I wanted to cry.  My insights into the life I’ve been living are more accurate than I realized, and I discovered I wasn’t alone.

You see, I believe my husband has high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome.  Please note that I am not saying my husband HAS Asperger’s, because he has not been tested for it.  To be fair, he could just as easily say, “I think my wife is bipolar” because, quite frankly, when you live within the grip of codependency long enough, you begin to act bipolar at times.  I’ve been to enough counselors, however, to know that if I truly were bipolar, they would have told me by now.

I’ve been married almost 20 years, and I knew very early on (especially once we had children) that our marriage was not like other marriages.  I would frequently cry out to my husband, “This is NOT how God intends for us to live!”  I first began to suspect Asperger’s in my husband when I listened to my two older children complain about what it’s like living with their younger sister (who has been diagnosed with ADHD, Nonverbal Learning Disorder, and PPD-NOS, which many of her therapists and case workers suspect is high-functioning Asperger’s).  It occurred to me that their complaints about her sounded just like me when talking about my husband.  Prior to that “aha” moment, I had also begun to notice many similarities (physical, mental, emotional, academic) between my Aspie daughter and my husband; so when I came across Karin Friedemann’s blog entry, it was like finding the missing link.  Suddenly, all of the puzzle pieces I had been sorting through over the past 20 years began to fall into place and make sense.  The interesting thing is that when I mentioned the article to some of our current healthcare providers, many of them had the same response, “I was wondering about that,” or “I’ve been wanting to ask you about that.”

The article talks about what it’s like being married to a man who has Asperger’s.  The comments that follow it give a bird’s-eye view of the hell it can be.  My heart goes out to my husband if he does suffer from this disorder, but I still struggle with whether or not the best thing to do is stay or to leave.  I realize that sounds a bit heartless and cruel, and I certainly don’t intend it that way.

The fact is that after years and years of internal torment, frustration, and dysfunction brought about by undiagnosed issues that go untreated, when does one draw a line and say, “That’s it.  I have reached my saturation point.  If I stay in this situation any longer, the bad negates the good.  I have become worthless to what God is calling me to do, I have become a negative person with nothing good to say, and I don’t want to live like this anymore.”  When the distractions and responsibilities of the codependency bog you down to such a degree that you are suffering, your children are suffering, and you are accomplishing nothing, isn’t it logical to ask yourself, “Is it really wise to stay here?”  (This is AFTER you’ve struggled through the question, “What is God trying to teach me in all of this?”)

In my insecurity 20 years ago, I made a poor decision.  I thought God would help me grow to love my husband, but I have grown to dislike him immensely.  I am not proud of that fact.  It fills me with shame and guilt.  Who in their right mind marries a man they know they don’t love?  Who in their right mind blogs about stuff like this?  Well, I’ve already alluded to the fact that I may not be in my right mind, so here we are.

The truth is, life is messy.  As much as we would like it to be cut and dried with a nice thick manual to refer to for each messy thing that crops up, we don’t have that.  (Before all you fundamentalists get on my case, I know we have the Bible, and it truly is a manual for right living.  My point is that sometimes we really wish God would have put an index in there with specific page references for the problem we are currently encountering.  We would like the solution to be written out in step-by-step format with additional instructions on where to get the ingredients necessary to make it all work.  We want answers that are tangible and easy to see.)

I am not a proponent of divorce, which makes my life right now even messier for me.  I don’t believe staying in my marriage is the right thing… two wrongs don’t make a right.  God knows, I’ve been trying to make it right by denying self, pretending my needs don’t matter, praying, and bearing a mountain of responsibility alone, but I continue to feel like my marriage is cursed.  I remember Beth Moore teaching in one of her Bible studies that God does not bless something He hasn’t ordained.  When I told my friend that I thought my marriage had never been blessed because perhaps it wasn’t something God ordained, her response was, “How can you say that?  Of course He ordained it; you’re married!”  But I beg to differ.  I believe God allowed it, because He knew He could bring good from whatever happens; but “allowed” and “ordained” are not the same thing.

My children don’t like it when they hear me make comments about how unhappy I am in my marriage, because they take that one step further and think it means I wish I had never had them; but here again, I beg to differ.  What if part of God’s purpose in allowing their father and me to marry was because each of them was supposed to be born?  We all know that God has planned out, in advance, the day of our birth; and He is intimately involved in the intricate details of forming us in the womb.  Each of my children was destined to be, and I firmly believe each of them has a special calling on his or her life.  The difficulties they are going through do have a purpose.  God will use them for good.  And God will bring good out of what I’m going through.  The hard part is this messy middle part.

I struggle with putting so much of this in print, but I truly believe there are others of you out there who are struggling in your marriages, too.  I’m sure there are children out there who feel like my kids do.  The truth is, life stinks sometimes.  The question is, what are we going to do with the smelly parts?  Are we going to let them define us, or are we going to use them as catalysts for change?  I think we need to take a good look at our lives and ask some serious questions:

  • What does God say about this? (Even if you can’t find a specific page number indexed to your liking, His Word does give guidelines to get you pointed in the right direction.)
  • When does the way I’m currently living become so unbearable that I simply can’t do it anymore without causing myself (and/or those around me) serious physical, mental, and/or emotional harm?
  • When has the struggle to keep things together negated the benefits of staying together?
  • Is the message I’m giving the world (or my children or my spouse) a negative, ungodly one?  If I make this change, will that message become a positive, God-centered one?

Your problem probably isn’t Asperger’s, but it may be something just as debilitating.  Maybe it’s an alcoholic spouse or an adult child spending every dime he has on drugs, and he keeps looking to you to bail him out.  Maybe it’s your teenage son immersed in a pornographic world he can’t escape from, and you’ve done everything you can think of to help him.  Maybe it’s your pre-teen daughter caught in the trap of anorexia.  Whatever the issue, it can lead to a vicious cycle of codependency that destroys the entire family.

The truth is, I don’t want to get divorced, because I know my heavenly Father hates it.  But I also know that I simply cannot go back to the marriage I had.  God keeps laying before me Matthew 5:29-30:

If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.

I used to blame my husband for my misery.  God has shown me it isn’t my husband so much as it is the marriage the two of us have built together that is the offensive thing in my life.  What remains to be seen is if it is the marriage that needs to be cut off in order for the remaining body(ies) to be spared being thrown into hell.

My signature verse is Romans 12:2:

 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I’ve made this verse my signature verse, because it gives me hope.  I may not be able to change people around me, but I can change myself.  I can choose to think differently.  By opening myself up to the transforming power of God’s presence in my life, I will then be able to test the thoughts that cross my mind and come to understand God’s will for my life.  And whatever His will is, it will be good!

Lori Lynn

For those of us trapped in a world of codependency, LORD, I ask for Your wisdom and discernment to make some tough, life-altering decisions.  We cannot change those who are near and dear to us, but we can change ourselves.  Divorce may not be Your plan for any of us but neither is living a life of misery and frustration.  You sent Your Son to die for us so that we might have life, and have it abundantly.   Give us the strength we need to follow through, in love, with whatever needs to be done to get ourselves and our loved ones in a better place.  Amen.

7×70


Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.  –Matthew 18:21-22 (NASB)

 

I woke up to Chris August’s song 7×70 playing on my radio this morning.  Somehow I don’t think it was by accident…

My husband and I are struggling to keep our family intact.  We have been married for 19+ years, and I would have to say we could probably count on two hands how many good months there have been.  It has been a rough road.  We have been to multiple marriage counselors, we have resorted to mud slinging, and there has been so much anger and bitterness and resentment building up for years that I don’t know if it’s better to try to salvage what we can or pack it up and move on.  As a Christian couple, neither one of us wants to go the divorce route; but the continuation of living like we are is taking its toll on all of us.

My husband has been living and working 1300 miles away for almost three years now after losing his job with a major US company.  Many people have  remarked how difficult that must be for me, but the sad truth is I hardly notice.  When my husband lived in the same house with us, he was so busy with work and was continuously buried behind either a computer or TV screen that we never got to interact with him (in a meaningful way) all that much anyway.  In retrospect, the best months of my married life were the four months he was laid off.  For the first time in a VERY long time I actually felt like I had a husband.  I had a helpmate.  I had someone to talk to.  I had someone to share things with.  When I rode out to Massachusetts with him to help him move, I could tell the minute we hit the Massachusetts border.  His driving changed, he was distracted, and he was “gone.”  It went downhill from there.  By the time I flew back home, I had this feeling of dread in my soul.

For those of you who have read my earlier posts, you know that our house did not sell that summer, and we pulled it off the market once the school year started.  The children and I stayed put intending to move the following year.  One thing led to another, and the girls and I are still here.  (My son moved out to Massachusetts this past summer to start high school and be around the father he so desperately needed.)

I’d like to stay in my marriage for my kids’ sake.  I see the impact broken homes has on kids nowadays and I think, “I SO don’t want to contribute to that!”  But the truth is, the lack of love in our home, the chaos, and the added impact of mental health issues (ADHD, Nonverbal Learning Disorder, and borderline Asperger’s) have taken their toll on my children anyway.  Their insecurities abound and they constantly tear at each other in order to make themselves feel better.  Of course, it backfires; and everyone feels miserable in the long run.  What they need is a home filled with security and love.

The answer seems so simple in theory.  Get more counseling.  Work things out.  Unfortunately, theoretical answers are so much easier than reality.  I just don’t know if I have what it takes.  Correction… I KNOW I don’t have what it takes (on my own); but with God, all things are possible.  I do realize that.  I just don’t know if I can go back to a life where my needs don’t matter, where I have to pretend to be someone I’m not in order to make someone else happy.  It’s exhausting, and I’m so tired of the codependency.  I think if my husband would be able to realize that I didn’t get to be the way I am now overnight and that many things contributed to the process, I would be able to give it a bit more effort; but so much of what I’m hearing from him makes me think that nothing has changed from the time we met with our first marriage counselor and he said to the counselor, “I really hope you can help HER.”  (To be fair, I have blamed my husband for many many things as well, so don’t feel too sorry for me.)  The truth is we both need help.

That all being said, Chris August’s song this morning reminded me of how important it is to forgive.  I think the most difficult thing about forgiving someone is that we think it will mean what the other person did is okay.  It doesn’t mean that at all.  What it means is that you are going to let it go so that YOU are okay.  Forgiving someone doesn’t mean we have to put ourselves back into a bad situation; it just means we release the effect of the behavior over to God.  I can forgive my husband for the things he did in our marriage that were extremely hurtful to me, but that doesn’t mean I forget them or that I am going to allow myself to be hurt in the same way again.  My husband could choose to do the same.  If we both are willing and able to do that much, then if we do decide to go our separate ways, at least we can be civil to and respectful of each other and wish each other well in our future relationships.

Part of the process of forgiving involves becoming emotionally healthy.  I am learning how to establish boundaries.  I am learning that I have choices.  I am learning nourishing support practices (e.g., to follow the “truths” that God has placed in my heart, making a list of things that make me happy, opening myself up to joy).  Did you know that recent research shows that we actually have the ability to retrain our brain?  We can formulate new pathways (neuroplasticity) and grow new neurons (neurogenesis), which means we don’t have to continue to live negative, victim-thinking lives if that is the hole into which we’ve fallen.  I like what Joyce Meyer says, “I may not have had a great start, but I can still have a great finish.”  I’m learning mindfulness, the art of being present in the moment.  It’s a nonjudgmental acknowledgment of what we feel, think, or experience.  I am learning to practice gratitude.  I have lived enough different places in my life and experienced enough job changes to know that no matter where I go or what I do, there is always going to be something I like and something I don’t; so I am focusing on being thankful for the things I like in a given moment.  When I get discouraged, I think of something my first boss was fond of saying, “This, too, shall pass.”

We human beings are such imperfect people.  We can’t begin to meet everyone’s needs, and we shouldn’t look to others to do that for us.  We need to discover what our needs are, find healthy ways to meet them, and look to God to fill the empty places.  By looking to others to fill them, we are inadvertently trying to make them little gods; and that just doesn’t work.  We will always wind up disappointed and frustrated, and those other people will feel inadequate and inept.  A dear friend of mine once told me, “It all boils down to love.”

As much as I hate the thought of divorce, I believe God is teaching me that no matter which path I choose, He will still love me; and He will use it for good.  If I can emerge from this difficult period with my ability to love restored, I will be extremely grateful; and if I can be transformed into a person who can bring hope and healing to others, I will be truly blessed.

Leaning on God—

Lori Lynn

Dear LORD…  We are such imperfect people, and we hurt one another more often than we care to admit.  We ask for Your help in forgiving those who have hurt us.  Unforgiveness is such a heavy weight to bear.  Help us lighten the load by handing it over to You.  In so doing, please teach us how to love again.  When we have difficult decisions to make, please grant us Your grace and wisdom in making a wise decision; and give us discernment and understanding to see how our decision will impact others.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

 

 

 

When Life Hurts


“Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth;

I will speak in the anguish of my spirit,

I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”

Job 7:11 (NASB)

I’ve always liked the book of Job.  I think it goes along with my melancholy spirit.  I can identify with the man.  That’s why, when I came across this verse the other day, I immediately felt I had found a kindred spirit.

You see, I’ve spent the better part of the last 14 years complaining in the bitterness of my soul.  Life has been hard.  It has not gone the way I had hoped or planned.  It has pressed me near to breaking point, and it has brought me to my knees (flat on my face actually).  I have cried out in anguish.  I have stormed about in anger.  I have nearly gone mad from frustration.  Through it all, I have learned that I am not the person I thought I was.  I do not have the patience I thought I had.  I am not as kind as I would have hoped.  I can be downright mean and nasty, and I have learned to hate myself at times for it.  It’s funny how life can do that to you… force you to see the not-so-good side of yourself.

Sometimes our hearts are so heavy, we can’t help but complain.  The misery we feel within is so intense that it boils inside like a live volcano that eventually explodes, producing pyroclastic lava flows that cause great damage to everything in their path.

I’m sad to say that I’ve burned quite a few people with my magma of misery.  I knew things were heating up, and I knew I would eventually blow, but I had no idea how to stop what was happening beneath the surface.  I felt like I was stuck in a life I had no control over.  I felt like things happened TO me, and I was powerless to change them.  Eventually, when you feel that way long enough, you give up hope.  You look ahead to the next portion of your life and can’t wait until the good LORD calls you home.  I know, it sounds grim; but that truly is the way you feel when you keep getting knocked down.  I remember explaining it to someone once like this:  “I feel like I have two broken arms and two broken legs, and my trainer is telling me, ‘Get back into that ring and FIGHT!'”  I had nothing left with which to fight.  I was down.

I am happy to report that I didn’t stay there.  I sought help.  God placed some wonderful counselors in my path who taught me that what I was feeling was real.  I had a lot on my plate.  (Sometime, in another post, I’ll tell you a bit more about that.)  Suffice it to say, I remember telling my first counselor, “I feel like one of those plate spinners in the circus.  I keep trying to keep all my plates spinning; but by the time I get to the last one, I can’t make it back to keep the rest going.  Plates are crashing everywhere.”  He helped me to see that I wasn’t crazy like I thought I was.  I just had way too much to handle and no one to help me.

A few years later, after my husband lost his job and moved halfway across the country to take a new one, I once again found myself face to face with despair.  I was looking at having to move back to a place that was very traumatic for me.  I felt like I had no options.  Thus began my descent into major depression.  Once again, God placed a wonderful counselor in my path who suggested I go to one of the Meier Clinics for treatment.  It was the best thing that ever happened to me, because that was the beginning of my journey out of the pit of despair.  The first and most important thing I learned there was that I DO have choices.  We all do.  We think we don’t, but that is not true.

Sometimes we feel unworthy, like our opinion doesn’t matter, or like our needs aren’t important.  I’m here to tell you they are.  Years of squelching my needs to satisfy the needs of my family, and not getting my needs met in return, was a recipe for disaster.  We all have needs.  God designed us that way.  His intent was that we would work together in relationship to mutually meet one another’s needs.  We can’t always give, and we can’t always take.  It’s a two-way street.  A dear lady from the church where my husband and I met explained it to me this way, “As women, we are always meeting other people’s needs.  It is like we hold a big bushel basket full of apples, and we go through life handing out our apples.  If we don’t stop every now and again to replenish our basket, we will run out of apples.”  I ran out of apples a long, long time ago; and I didn’t know how to replenish my basket.

I’ve since learned many ways to do so.  Probably first and foremost is learning how to establish boundaries (and not feel guilty about having them).  I’ve learned to not feel guilty (oh… there’s that word again!) about taking time out for me.  I might do one of the following:

  • read a book for PLEASURE (not a self-help book that requires me to underline or highlight… seriously, most of what I read means there is a pen in the book);
  • go for a 3o-minute walk while tuning into nature (smile at the sun, laugh in delight at the sight of a bluebird, drop my mouth in awe at the sight of an eagle soaring overhead);
  • call a friend to go to lunch (I love to eat!);
  • light a few candles, put on some soft jazz, grab that pleasure book, and soak in a hot tub;
  • watch one of my favorite movies;
  • reminisce over some wonderful people whom God has placed in my path who have filled my life with love;
  • eat chocolate (dark, so it’s healthy);
  • crank my stereo and sing to my heart’s content;
  • write an entry for my blog (and hope someone reads it).

The interesting thing is that, through all the pain, God has been there picking me up.  He has given me the insight to know that it has not all been in vain.  Through it all, He has been teaching me and molding me and transforming me into the person He wants me to become.  I know that one day I will be able to look back and see how it all makes perfect sense as to why each of those hurts was there.  There was a bigger purpose.  Perhaps it has to do with being a beacon of light to lonely, hurting, brokenhearted people who, because of poor choices, find themselves in codependent relationships over which they feel they have no control.  That is something I can REALLY relate to!

How about you?  How do you replenish your basket?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Walking in His grace…

Lori Lynn

Life can sure hurt, LORD.  Sometimes we don’t know how much more we can take.  When we reach that place, help us to hang on to You and just trust.  Trust that You are in control, and you won’t let us be obliterated by it.  Help us to realize that Satan wants us to fail, and he is doing everything in his power to keep us from living in the joy and freedom you want us to be living in.  Are we going to let him WIN?  Give us all the courage and strength to answer with a resounding, “NO!”, and teach us to see beyond the hurt to  the blessing on the other side.

Life Lesson #1: Deal With Your Stuff


“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”    — Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV)

It’s very difficult when writing a blog to know just how much to share with your readers.  As a writer, I want to touch my readers’ hearts.  I want them to read what I write and say, “Oh my gosh.  I know exactly what she’s talking about!”, or “I SO get where she’s coming from.”  At the same time, I don’t want to share so much that it portrays people in my life in a bad light; because there are two sides to every story, and you are really only hearing mine.  Suffice it to say, because of poor choices I have made in the past, my life has not exactly gone the way I had hoped; but I am hopeful that some of my mistakes can be used for good in teaching others not to do what I did.

Lesson #1:  Do NOT marry someone until you have dealt with your “stuff.”

When I married my husband, I knew I did not love him.  I did know he was a good Christian man, and he had a good heart; and I truly believed that God would help me grow to love him in time.  I was 28 years old, desperately wanted to be a wife and mother, and felt the biological clock ticking.  I had just come out of a four-year off-again-on-again relationship with a man whom I loved more than anything but who had no intention of marrying me anytime soon because of family pressure on his side.  It was actually this man who sat in church with me one day, looked out over the congregation, saw my future husband in one of the front rows, pointed and said, “You should go out with that guy.”  My initial reaction was, “Oh my gosh.  No way.  He is SO not my type!”  (Now I realize that many of you highly-intelligent readers will be asking, “Why did you go out with this guy for four years when he is telling you to go out with other people?”)  Can I just say, “It’s what insecure people do.”  It’s also what led me to marry my husband.

Which brings me back to dealing with our stuff…

We can drag an awful lot of baggage, which we aren’t even aware of, into our marriages.  Are you familiar with any of these:

  • Insecurity
  • Low self-esteem/unworthiness
  • Unresolved relationship issues
  • Poverty (lack of money or love)
  • Emotional/physical/verbal abuse
  • Codependency
  • Anger
  • Mental health issues

If you haven’t dealt with them BEFORE you tie the knot, trust me when I say that you WILL deal with them at some point after.  All of the baggage mentioned above comes with a bountiful set of emotions.  Emotions get triggered in our brains from the darnedest things…  a sound, a smell, a touch, a look, a word, etc.  You may think that you can suppress emotions, but they can only be suppressed for so long.  Emotions are alive, so suppressing them is like burying something alive.  They will eventually erupt and find their way out; and when they do, it isn’t pretty!

I’ve been married for 19 years.  I can honestly say, it has been a struggle from Day 1.  On my wedding night, I was crying because I had a new last name.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I had every intention of changing my name when I got married.  It wasn’t having a new last name that was the problem; it had everything to do with thinking, “Oh my gosh, I can’t go back.  I’ve made a horrible mistake.  This is not what I wanted.”  I don’t come from a belief system that says, “Get married today and divorced tomorrow.”  I had made a covenant before God.  This was serious business.  For what it’s worth, my husband was probably feeling the same way.  All of the sudden he was faced with a hysterical wife who was not at all like the woman he thought he had married.

In retrospect, I think I was more in love with the IDEA of getting married (the ring, the dress, the flowers, walking down the aisle) than I was with the man I had agreed to marry.  Also, in my insecurity, I didn’t believe anyone else would ever ask me to marry him.  My husband did; therefore, I thought I better jump at the opportunity.

I had had similar feelings (that I was making a mistake) that morning but had brushed them off as wedding-day jitters.  At that point, I remember thinking, “I can’t back out now.  Everyone has flown out here for the wedding.  My parents have put a lot of expense into this.”

Both of us have lamented the fact that we did not have premarital counseling before our wedding day.  We were supposed to have it.  We even went to our first session; unfortunately, right in the middle of it, our pastor got an emergency phone call and had to end the session.  We somehow never rescheduled.  I think the pastor thought, “These are two mature individuals who obviously love each other, both from good Lutheran stock, so they will be fine.”  (Of course, I have no idea what he was actually thinking.  Pre-marriage counseling for us may have just slipped his mind.)  I do think, though, that many of the conflicts we have struggled with over the years would have surfaced in those counseling sessions, and we could have been spared quite a bit of the heartache we’ve experienced (or at least been a little bit more prepared for it).

So, why are we still married?  In this Married-Today-Divorced-Tomorrow Age, I’d like to think it’s because neither one of us can come to terms with breaking the covenant we made before our God; and we’re both too stubborn to give up.  In reality, it isn’t because of anything WE are thinking or doing.  The truth is that God is the third strand in our cord, and where our two strands have broken, His is holding on.  That means there is a purpose in all of this.  That means that just as an ugly ragged-edged rock can be put into a tumbler and bounced all over for days on end and come out a beautiful gem, our marriage has the potential to come out of this as a beautiful thing to show others.  It means that all of the junk our children are being forced to wade through is strengthening them and building them up for service to others.  They will have a sense of compassion and empathy from having “been there” that will give them remarkable insight in helping others through the maze.  I have also come to realize that divorce does not separate us from our stuff.  If not dealt with, our stuff follows us into any marriage we enter into.

Maybe you are in a similar place.  Maybe you’re about to get married and you realize you’re not getting married for the right reasons.  Maybe you’re already married, were lucky enough to have been in love when you walked down the aisle, but now find you have drifted apart.  Maybe you’re struggling with a wayward or mentally-ill child, and it is wreaking havoc in your marriage.  (I have a daughter who is ADHD/NLD/and borderline Asperger’s.  Trust me when I say I KNOW the havoc mental health issues inflict on a marriage.)  Maybe you are a single person who feels the only way you can be loved is to sleep with every person who asks you to with the hope that maybe one of them will propose.  Maybe you are the child of an alcoholic who has become a workaholic to compensate for the love you never got, and you’ve reached the point where you realize you’ve accumulated a lot of things but you have no one to pass them on to.

We all have issues.  We all struggle.  But there is hope.  We CAN deal with our stuff before it deals with us.  We CAN break the cycle that we’re in … be it codependency, verbal abuse, anger.  We CAN stop it.  It isn’t easy.  It means making some tough decisions, but remember that it is for your good and the good of those who come after you.  Dare to be the difference in your future child (or grandchild’s life).  Dare to be the one who breaks the chain.  And remember… the best thing you can do is to deal with it BEFORE you get married!

Holding on in Christ…

Lori Lynn

Dear Lord… Thank you for being the third strand in my frayed and broken cord.  Without you, I would have been done a long time ago.  Continue to show me in a myriad of ways that You have a purpose in all that I am going through and give me the strength to continue holding on until beauty shines through.  Give me the courage to change what I know needs to be changed; if not for my sake, for my children’s sake.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

The GPS of Life: God’s Guidance


Shortly before our youngest child was born, my husband and I went shopping for a new minivan.  The only one we could take possession of before the birth of our baby happened to come equipped with a GPS system.  Both of us thought it was totally unnecessary for us to have a GPS system; after all, it was expensive.  Nonetheless, get one we did.

 After logging many miles between the East Coast and the Midwest in that vehicle, we soon realized what a blessing it was.  It never failed, when traveling through places like Chicago, someone would need to make a potty stop or roads were under construction; and that GPS system came in handy.

How about your GPS system?  Has it helped guide you through some pretty rough predicaments?  What’s that you say?  You don’t have a GPS?  Of course you do!  You just might know it by another name… the Holy Spirit.  Jesus tells us in John 14:26:

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

 Just as Global Positioning Systems help us find our way physically to our destination, our spiritual GPS (God’s Personal Spirit) helps us navigate our way through life.  Amidst the potty stops of sinfulness, the detours of wrong choices, the “under construction” routes where our will is not in sync with God’s will for us… our spiritual GPS is there providing discernment and wisdom when we can’t find our way.

Now, the interesting thing about GPS devices is that you have to activate them in order for them to work.  The same holds true for our spiritual GPS.  Have you ever tried driving your car with the GPS engaged and then you totally ignore what it’s telling you?  Try it sometime!  It will frustrate you to no end.  You wind up screaming at it, “Why are you telling me to go THAT way when it makes so much more sense to go THIS way!  Will you just shut up!  AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGG!”

You activate it, thinking you’re going to use it, it shows you the overall route, and you decide, “Oh, no, I know a better way.  I won’t listen to it this time.”  So, you head off to your destination completely ignoring the warnings.  As you make “wrong turn” after “wrong turn” it gives you a warning signal and repeatedly attempts to get you to turn around and start heading in the “right” direction.  You continue to block it out and ignore it.  Eventually, you may wind up where you wanted to, but the means of getting there was probably much more difficult or time consuming than it needed to be.

Isn’t that just how it is with us and God’s Holy Spirit?  We ignore His guidance.  We get irritated with the gentle promptings of where to go and which way to turn.  We block out the warning signals and the repeated efforts to get us headed in the right direction.  We, too, wind up taking the hard way or the time-consuming route, because we think we know better.  We fail to realize how much easier it would be if we would just listen to the “Voice.”

I look back on my life and see many instances where I was driving along without my spiritual GPS activated.  I wound up pretty lost, angry, and confused.  I wondered why I didn’t wind up at the destination for which I had started out.  Nowadays, I don’t go anywhere without it.

Oh, there is one major distinction between my van’s GPS and my spiritual GPS… my spiritual GPS was a gift.  It didn’t cost me a single cent.  Peter tells us, in Acts 2:38:

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The price has been paid by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We’ve got this remarkably helpful tool on board.  Let’s start using it and listening to its guidance!

Praying you find your way today…

Lori Lynn

Dear LORD, help us utilize the remarkable built-in “perk” you’ve given us when it comes to navigating through this journey called Life.  Help us to realize that part of learning to use our GPS effectively is to listen to what it says.  Open our ears and help us to pay attention to what we hear.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

What Happened


Well, if you read my last post, you probably think I am happily ensconced in Massachusetts continuing to thrive in my obedience to the LORD.  Unfortunately, that isn’t what happened…

 

 Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?

Matthew 14:30:31 (MSG)

 

In June 2009, I helped my husband move out to Massachusetts.  The plan was that the kids and I would join him at the end of the summer, after our house sold.   I had my eyes on Jesus.  I was walking on water.

Problem #1

The house didn’t sell.

It was the summer the housing market turned sour.  Prices plummeted.  Houses for sale were a dime a dozen, and it was a buyer’s market.  Our house had been on the market since February.  People who viewed our home loved it, but there was always one little thing they didn’t like… the neighbor could see into the kitchen, the blinds didn’t keep out enough light, the yard was too small…

By the time school started and our house still hadn’t sold, I was in a different place emotionally.  There were many outside factors contributing to this, but suffice it to say that I no longer had my eyes on Jesus.  I was looking at the waves crashing around me, and I was beginning to sink.  I knew in my heart that I could not move.  Massachusetts represented so many negative things to me.  It wasn’t that Massachusetts itself was bad (I actually have some lovely memories associated with Massachusetts); it’s that the life I had there as a young mother with three small special-needs children, no family nearby, and a husband who worked all the time was anything but rewarding.  I was so overwhelmed, and I felt so alone.  The idea of going back there was traumatic.

Problem #2

I spiraled into depression.

My depression turned out to be a blessing.  It forced me to seek outpatient treatment at a Meier Clinic.  Those three weeks of treatment were life changing.  The first thing I learned was that EVERYONE struggles with SOMETHING.  I was not alone.  I was able to acknowledge a pattern of victim thinking which, in turn, opened my eyes to how the Enemy likes to play with our minds by feeding us lies.  It reinforced in my mind that we do indeed have choices in life.  We can choose to let our circumstances control us (passively sitting back and thinking there is absolutely nothing we can do about them), or we can choose to control our circumstances by changing our perspective on them.  I kind of liken it to a person who is severely myopic putting on their glasses and getting a fresh view.  Without their glasses, everything is very distorted; nothing makes sense.  When they put their glasses on, objects become clearer; and it is easier to focus on reality.

I’m still not excited about moving back to a place that holds so many difficult memories; but when I came back from the Meier Clinic (with my glasses on), I started to view things differently.  I no longer felt like I had to let life happen TO me.  I told my husband on one of his visits home that I did not want to put our house on the market that next spring.  I simply was not yet at a place (emotionally) where I could move, and I wanted my son to finish out his 8th-grade year at the parochial school he attended.  I then applied to graduate school in Boston.  I figured if I had to move out there, I needed something to give me a sense of purpose.  I was blessed enough to get accepted into the program, and I was doubly blessed that the college granted me a deferral until next fall allowing me time to get our house back on the market and, hopefully, sold.

I wonder, at times, if my acceptance into grad school isn’t part of the reason God is moving us back to Massachusetts.  I had just been accepted into the program the year before my husband and I got married but had to quit after we got married due to lack of finances.  I see it as God giving me a second chance to finish something I should have finished a long time ago.  I also see it as an opportunity to learn a new skill that will allow me to make a difference on God’s Kingdom Calendar.  He gave me a voice so I could speak, not shrivel up into a corner like a wilted flower and die.  Through His watering of grace and mercy, I am slowly coming back to life.  With His tender loving care, I am hoping to bloom wherever I am planted.

Can you relate?  Have you started out in obedience to the LORD only to find you’ve been blindsided in some way?  Did you fall into victim thinking or fall into the arms of Jesus?

Lori Lynn

Help me keep my eyes on You, Jesus.  When life gets too rough, reach out Your hand and grab me until I regain my strength in You.  Water me daily with Your Word, tend my wounded soul, and replant me where I can glorify You.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

One Step At A Time


A man I knew at a previous church, whose family had gone through a number of crises over the years, gave me a piece of advice I have never forgotten.  When he had finished sharing the details of a recent trial, I asked him, “How do you do it?  How do you make it through all these crises and stay upbeat?” He replied, “After you’ve gone through so much with God, and you see how faithful He constantly is, you can’t help but wonder, ‘How is He going to work through THIS one?’”

When my husband was laid off from a major industrial giant two and a half years ago, it would have been easy to get depressed and wonder, “Oh gosh, what in the world are we going to do… especially in this economy!”  But it is a powerful testimony to how much God had been working in my life over the previous four and a half years that I was able to say instead, “Wow, this is so exciting.  I wonder how God is going to work through this!”

My husband wasn’t so excited (at first), but God had been working on him, as well.  His participation in Men’s Fraternity1 the previous two years had been a blessing for our entire family and, when I encouraged him to change his focus about being laid off and start looking for what God was purposing to do in his life, he came on board quickly and asked, “How do you know when God is speaking to you?  How do you know He’s leading you in a particular direction?”  Those questions led us to an in-depth daily Bible study (Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby) that we started working on together (yet another powerful testimony to how God had been working in our lives).

Step 1: Be Open to Where God Is Leading You

I remember reading somewhere that God doesn’t show us the next step in whatever He is calling us to do until we take the first step; so, my husband and I decided our first step was to trust God from the get go and let Him have control.  Too often, we humans put restrictions on God.  Instead of listening to what God is trying to tell us, we start trying to tell Him things.  This time, we decided to try a whole new approach.  We said, “Okay, Lord, you have closed this door.  Where do You want us to go?”  And we got excited about the fact that we could wind up anywhere.  This was an opportunity to start over with a clean slate, if necessary.  So, we waited; and while we waited, our human nature took over and we added a little addendum to our prayer.  “Dear Lord, we’ll go anywhere You want us to go… but please don’t let it be Seattle.”

Well, guess what happened?  Suddenly, all of the recruiters contacting my husband were contacting him about jobs in Seattle.  So, we said, “Okay, Lord, we really like sunshine.  We don’t really do well in dreary weather.  Some of us are allergic to mold BUT, if You really want us to move to Seattle, we’ll move to Seattle.”  My husband interviewed there, we got ourselves psyched up about living there, and then… God showed us that it wasn’t going to be Seattle after all.  “Ummm… okay, Lord, if it’s not Seattle, where is it?”  (Inside, we were thinking, “Virginia would be REALLY nice but, wherever You want us Lord, that’s where we’ll go.”)

Step 2: Wait for God’s Timing

A few weeks later, my husband was interviewing in the Twin Cities.  We got ourselves psyched up about staying in the Midwest.  The interviews went well.  They offered him a job.  And then, during negotiations, we learned it wasn’t going to be the Twin Cities.  “Ummm… okay, Lord, if it’s not the Twin Cities, where is it?”  (Virginia would be REALLY nice.)

Step 3: Listen for God’s Voice

A few weeks later, my husband flew out to Cambridge, Massachusetts.  (Are you noticing a pattern here?  God is not sending us where WE want to go.  He’s got other plans.)  The job sounded perfect.  He was a perfect fit for them; they were a perfect fit for him.  The problem was, we had lived in Massachusetts before.  We knew what the cost of living was there compared to here.  We knew the cost of real estate there.  Doubt took over.  “How are we going to do this?  How are we going to afford a house that will accommodate the needs of our family?  How are we going to come to terms with putting our kids in public schools in Massachusetts given our previous experience there?”  Like Peter, when he began to sink after Jesus bade him “come to me” on the water, we took our eyes off the Lord and began to see the waves crashing around us.

Finally, a family member asked, “Do you believe God is calling you to take this job?”

“Yes,” we replied.

They continued, “Then God isn’t going to send you out there and forget about you.  He will provide.”

Step 4: Believe and Obey

Whew!  Once again, we were able to focus our attention where it needed to be… on obeying God’s will and reassessing which step we were supposed to be on (accepting the job).  You see, when we jump ahead and miss some steps along the way, we put ourselves through so much unnecessary worry and stress.

Think back to when God told Abram to leave his country and when He told Moses to go back to Egypt to free the oppressed Israelites.  Did He give them a detailed action plan?  No.  He led them one step at a time.  They needed to be obedient at each step before God showed them the next one.  If the path is clearly marked out ahead of time, where does faith come in?

One of my favorite scripture passages is Joshua 3-4.  Joshua and the Israelites are about to cross over the Jordan River into the Promised Land.  Joshua tells the people to consecrate themselves for the Lord is about to do amazing things among them.  The priests are to carry the ark of the covenant across the river and the people are to follow.  Well, the Jordan is at flood stage.  Can you imagine being one of the priests standing there at the edge looking at the deep swirling water wondering, “You want us to do WHAT??”  But, as soon as the priests’ feet touch the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing and the water downstream was completely cut off.  The priests who carried the ark of the covenant stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan.  The Israelites crossed over, the priests came up out of the river and, no sooner had their feet touched dry ground than the waters of the Jordan ran at flood stage like before.

How many times do we get to the edge of our Jordan, stare down at the flood waters, and think, “You want me to do WHAT?” and then back away in fear and unbelief?  We become captive to our own limitations.  We miss seeing God do amazing things among us, because we are too afraid to take that first step.

Through each step of the job hunting process… from Seattle (“Are you really willing to go wherever I lead?”) to the Twin Cities (skill building and God’s timing) to Cambridge (God’s plan for us… not our plan), we learned that each step in the process depends upon our obedience on each step of the journey.  Obedience is key.  The amazing thing is, as we walked each step with our awesome God, He became so visible to us.  What I didn’t mention earlier, is that while my husband was interviewing in one location, he always had another recruiter tracking him down somewhere else; however, once he started talking with the recruiter in Cambridge, all calls from other recruiters suddenly stopped.  It was as if God was letting us know, “Pay attention to this one.”  My husband also realized that each step God led him on through the various interviews prepared him for the next one and the one after that until, finally, when the people from Cambridge met with him, God had him prepared and molded to fit the position.

As someone told us during that time, “Imagine what God has planned for you in Massachusetts that you weren’t equipped to do when you lived there the first time.  Isn’t it exciting that He is leading you back to the same place you were before!”  When I focused on that, it WAS very exciting.

When we put limitations on where we’ll go or what we’ll do, we miss out on opportunities and blessings God may have planned for us.  Well-renowned Bible teacher, Beth Moore, often says when you walk with God and you give your life to Him, “Hang on, because you are in for the ride of your life!”

I was so ready.  I said, “Let’s go!”

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1 Men’s Fraternity is a series of three one-year-long studies by Robert Lewis, which provides men with an encouraging process that teaches them how to live lives of authentic manhood as modeled by Jesus Christ and directed by the Word of God.  To learn more, go to www.mensfraternity.com.