Monday, November 30th, 2009
Desolate, alone, no where to turn, despair…
So hopeless that taking his own life must have seemed like the only choice.
How does someone get to this place…we were heartbroken as we watched some 450 people came to say good-bye. They spoke of his life…A “Smile” that was contagious, a “Heart” that kept giving! The stories repeatedly testified of people, people whose lives were touched by this one man! One after another stood to bare witness of the man they knew…or thought they knew. He was a friend, a son, a father and a husband…
He seemingly, was a lover of life, people, family and the out of doors.
What went wrong?? How does one hide their despair from 450 people?
What could have been going through his mind?
There is nothing good about me…
If anyone were to find out…
No one would understand…
I am so ashamed…
I can’t ask…I just couldn’t take another rejection!
I must hide…
I feel hopeless…
These are thoughts many of us have had before…the lies that Satan plants in our minds. Our negative self – talk.
As I sat and observed this tragic occasion, I felt saddened at the people coming and going, watching their expression of bewilderment, grief, shock and silence! The truth was…People were crying out for a chance to listen, a chance to have a part in reversing the outcome. But that was impossible now. Questions were raised…why didn’t he call me? Why didn’t he trust me enough to confide? Feelings expressed… “I’m angry… I’m hurt…I’m so sad!” Honesty reigned, but yet many heads still hung in confusion and grief!
I’ve been looking at my relationships…Do I really listen? Do I see the body language?
Do I look beyond his/her words? Am I a confidant? Am I safe for him/her? Do the people I am closest to, feel safe with me. Do they trust me to be a confidant? Am I trustworthy?
There were many times when despair was also a part of my husband Roger’s life. He believed the lies as well. The lies that no one understood, that no one cared and that he couldn’t possibly be honest about his life, that he’d be rejected again.
I too, being in an unhappy marriage, didn’t want anyone to think badly of the man I loved. I didn’t think I had anyone I could tell that another man was paying attention to me. I believed I had no one I could trust with that information.
We both hid and continued in our pain alone. No one knew how messy our marriage was. So sitting through this service was very personal for us… both as a very difficult time to remember back to that life, but also as a time of awakening for us to not take our relationship or our healing for granted.
As I looked over and saw the tears streaming down Roger’s face, he reached over and squeezed my hand. I knew then that we were united in spirit, in our grief, our compassion for this family and in our gratefulness for what God has brought us through.
We may struggle at times with some of those same feelings, but we are confident in God’s love for us, our love for one another and the love of our families that has been tried and tested. When life’s circumstances seem difficult, we are not hopeless, because …
Psalms 37: 23 – 24: The steps of a man are established by the Lord; and when he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong; Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.
There have been times, when I thought my life was out of control and this verse brought me peace. A counselor once shared with me that while driving along, he has reached over to hold the hand of his Heavenly Father. What a sweet reality! It’s a comfort to know that He is that close!
Lord Jesus, May your love penetrate us so deeply that others are moved by your presence, may they sense your love, and be drawn to You through us. Make us approachable, honest and open in our relationships, so that others feel safe. Help us remember that every relationship is divinely appointed by you. Make us aware of opportunity everyday to make a difference in someone else’s life. Forgive me for the times I have overlooked someone because of time, busyness, or my own selfish agenda.
Open the eyes of my heart Lord, to be sensitive to the needs of others and available when someone needs to be lead into your presence. Thank you for the privilege of placing the hand of a hurting person into yours…Amen
Monday, November 2nd, 2009
James 5:18-20 (The Message)
My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God
A while back a very good friend had confessed that he had gotten himself tangled up in sin. I knew this wasn’t the first time and that he had been ensnared before. He was a part of a family that we had grown to love dearly. We laughed together, cried together, carried moving boxes together and considered each other close as if we were family. Actually, in Christ, we were.
As he spoke of more details concerning the situation I felt as though my skin was as white as a ghost. What would happen now! I asked myself if this meant that I might lose this friendship forever. Would our relationship survive such a repeated devastation? Our lives had become so close I wondered how many other ways we would be affected by this unfortunate circumstance.
Yes, this was all overwhelming to me but I felt compelled to stand by my friend because I knew his heart. He had a heart of love for God, for his wife and for his family. I knew he needed someone to believe in him but I kept thinking, “Can I ever trust him again?” Then I thought about the concept of trust and why I was so determined to have that question answered.
I Don’t Trust You!
We had decided to have coffee to talk like we had so often before. This time I found myself motivated by commitment and obedience rather than to spend time with a friend. I remember speaking from my heart out loud with him saying, “I don’t trust you!” I felt smug about my statement because somehow I felt I needed to take some kind of stand against his sin. I perceived I had to draw some kind line in the sand. I thought my statement would keep this in perspective. After all, I thought I had to be able to trust him in order to be his friend. But what did trust mean? How would it be applied?
Why did I have to trust him? I couldn’t control his behavior. I couldn’t control his repentance or his current or future choices. I could however chose to make healthy personal choices for myself so why was it so important for me to trust him? Sadness came over me again because I felt the potential loss of a good friend and wondered if we could ever be close again.
In my evaluation of the concept of trust I realized that much of my need to “trust” my friend had to do with my own personal needs and had little to do with him. I thought I had to be able to trust him so that I wouldn’t be hurt again. In the end, my need to trust was really a desire to control through my demands that he be trustworthy! It was all about me and I was trying to reach an impossible goal of manipulating my friend to behave so that we could have a relationship. I wanted him to mind his “p’s and q’s” and not repeat this again! I needed something from him as a friend and his behavior had threatened my getting what I needed in this relationship.
When I was sitting with him at a local coffee shop I looked at him and he was weak, sad, needy, and broken. He had always been so positive and encouraging. I was used to sharing my life with him to gain support for my own weakness and life struggles but this day was different. He had nothing to give me, he was empty. I made a decision that day.
I would need to look for others whom I could lean on and decided to give myself to my friend for his needs. I couldn’t share my needs with him because of his weakened state but I could listen to him and bear his burdens. He was doing everything he could to stay alive and make it through this current devastation. He needed me much more than I needed him. I had other friends and places for support. At this time, he had been abandoned by so many due to their responses to his circumstances. There were few available for him to lean on.
I realized that I no longer needed to trust him. This was so freeing for me to accept. I was able to release him to his own choices. I let him go to either succeed or fail but my life was no longer dependent upon him being good, or obedient, or safe. I drew some healthy boundaries around my heart so that he was free to live his life as he chose to.
That day, I chose to enter into his pain and share it with him. I made the decision to listen to his heart and to watch and wait for whatever the Lord wanted to do with him. It was between him and his Savior alone. I would just be his friend and cry with him in his pain, and rejoice in the restoration if that came about. I was hopeful that this would be the case but no longer demanding that it be so.
Well, hallelujah! Today, his life is restored. Our friendship is different. There are scars but there is also more peace and relief overall. We have shared the common bond of a battle for his life and he lived. If I encounter something terribly disheartening I hope there will be someone there for me who releases me to my Savior.
In a recent phone call my friend was deep in the middle of some more growth battles. This time they weren’t from bad choices, but from good ones. He had made further choices to enter into the risks of life to pursue his passions, his family, and his Lord. When he answered the phone he told me how much of a challenge the week had been. He described that he was in the middle of mud up to his knees in a cattle yard trying to get through the day. I let go of my properness and said to him, “it seems you are in a deep pile of sh%$#”. He began to cry then his sobbing turned into laughter.
We both got a good belly laugh out of our short phone call that day. Those tears and that laughter didn’t come from just the current circumstances but from a lifetime of living through terror and joy with Jesus. I don’t need to control my friend’s behavior anymore because his life is in the Lord’s hands and so is mine.
Gal 6:1-3 (The Message)
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day is out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived