Do you sometimes feel that people use you? You seem to give and give to a particular person, friend or family member, but when you need something that person is never there for you? They never check in on you. How about when you are in a conversation and it is dominated by their issues and ‘you’ never come up; even though you have issues too? You are often a good ‘go-to’ person, but it is never reciprocated. You are there to help, to lend, to listen, to cheer up, or just there, but it feels one sided.
Many of us become frustrated, irritated and resentful in these scenarios. Friendships fall off and relationships often become strained. People feel used, abused, misused and plain old taken for granted. This topic has been in my spirit for a little over two months now and I have been dragging to write on it. As I was mulling it over weeks ago, I came across an analogy that the late Dr. Myles Munroe used.
He was giving a seminar and he said that he had to learn and understand that the reason people came was to partake of the gift he had to offer. He likened it to an apple tree. The gift of the apple tree is the apple itself. People go to the tree to pick and eat apples. They don’t care whether the tree will bear more apples or not. They don’t care about the leaves, the limbs, the roots or anything else about the tree. The tree on the other hand is not discriminating who gets apples nor is it worried about keeping apples for itself (eating its own fruit); it serves its gift: apples.
There are those who take from us what we serve. Things like advice, counsel, companionship, loyalty, unconditional love, knowledge and a plethora of things. It is a mistake for us to believe that we will also receive, from them, what we gave them. Many times that comes from an entirely different source. Just like God sends the rain and the sun to nourish the apple tree. And perhaps a gardener prunes the branches and takes care of the other areas of the tree, so He does for us. God replenishes us and there are those whom we ‘get’ from. We must quickly identify who these people are in our lives. And more times than not, we don’t ‘give’ to them. It is such a beautiful interdependent circle, and in my opinion it keeps us humble to be able to serve others with our gifts; because someone in turn serves us. People pick apples off of my tree and I pick mangoes off of someone else’s :) (I love mangoes!)
Anyway don’t let me ramble.
A few years ago a friend ditched me when I needed her. I was so hurt, because if I am nothing else, I strive to be a loyal friend. God told me that I put her in the wrong bucket and she couldn’t give me what I needed in a friend. That hurt because I truly loved her and wanted her to be my friend; the kind that I was to her. Many of us find ourselves in this situation or similar ones. Our frustrations might be justified, but that person might not be capable of giving us what we need. Can we accept that?
These are my thoughts on this cold Wednesday :)
I encourage you not to be weary in doing well to others… (Galatians 6:9).
Serve others what you have been blessed to serve, we each are relying on the other’s gift.
Early morning on November 4th as I was downstairs having some quiet time with God, He said “this is a season of Self Control”. That did not have anything to do with what I thought we were talking about, but I took note of it.
Throughout the day I thought of all the areas in which I needed that self control/discipline: Sticking to my budget, eating the foods that were best for my temple, managing my time effectively, keeping my morning appointments with God…etc. As the day turned into days and then weeks, it seemed as if the more I focused on Self Control, the more elusive it became. It really didn’t make sense. And of course, the over achiever that I am, caused me to beat up on myself.
A month later I was sitting downstairs again, early morning, and God said “You have been focusing on the wrong word in the sentence.” Okay. He said “the word you need to focus on is ‘season’. Seasons change and each season is to be used for preparation for the next”.
Then He said “look outside”. “Look at the trees, they are shedding their leaves in preparation for the next season; winter. If they don’t shed their leaves in the fall, they will not survive the winter”.
The tree in my front yard had bright red falling leaves and the one in the back yard had no leaves. So I did a quick search and found that deciduous trees shed their leaves in autumn or ‘fall’ so that they will have enough nutrients to survive in the winter. Both the tree and the leaves would not survive in the next season.
One of the things I love most about God, is that He KNOWS His children. Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t get right, He merely showed me WHY it was important for me to get it right; to exercise Self Control. If I didn’t flip my bad habits and hone in my good ones, I would not survive or be successful in the next season He has for me.
This made sense to me. It seemed like my own personal parable :)
So this I share….what things, habits, people, relationships are you trying to drag to the next season? What skills and habits do you need to hone in this season so that you will be ready for the next? Whatever that is….
Prepare, prepare, prepare! Shed those leaves. Life will seem overwhelming if you don’t. Because you will only have enough energy for your own survival and none to help or tolerate anyone else.
A man without self control is like a city broken into and left without walls (Prov 25:28)
It was my second climb up Crowders Mountain for the year. But it was a solo trip this time. The day had no sun making a showing and lots of grey clouds, but they in no way reflected my mood. Just some me time, God time…..actually ‘time’ wasn’t even a factor :) I have come to realize that waiting for someone to do the things that I like to do might keep me waiting forever, or worse yet, give me an excuse not to do it at all….so I packed my backpack, camera and tripod in tow, and headed out.
Craig Groeschel’s ‘Soul Detox’ is at the top of my reading queue and this was one of the reasons I made this trip. A soul detox captivated my mind ;) Detox by definition is a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances. Many of us detox our bodies, or if we don’t, we need to. It’s almost like a good ‘spring cleaning’. Giving our bodies a chance to reset and reboot.
A soul detox is a chance to get rid of soul pollutants. Negative emotions, negative thoughts, negative language, negative people and negative perspectives. Thoughts and feelings that go unchecked which cause anger, bitterness and resentment. Television shows that add nothing to your personal growth. People that drain you…who always have something negative going on. Busyness; never a moment to be still and reflect; to check in with your self and evaluate. To see if you’ve lost yourself in this thing called life.
A few weeks ago I was speaking to someone who was about to retire after 30 years. I asked her what was she going to do and she said “Find myself. I have lost myself over the years”. I didn’t want that. I wanted to learn to have all of me present in the moment.
Have you ever felt like you’ve lost your zeal, or as my partner at work puts it, being in a ‘rut’? Our soul is the essence of who we are. It is what makes us sing, dance, laugh, smile, love, glow, give, care, share, press on, keep hope alive, dream, our eyes sparkle…..
It doesn’t require a lot. Just taking a day or two to see how being around certain people make you feel, how listening to certain music makes you feel, how engaging in certain conversations make you feel. Do you feel positive and inspired, do you feel motivated, do you feel energized, do you feel closer to God? If not, Unplug.
Rest, walk, run, pray, swim, read, journal, cry, wonder, turn the TV off, turn off electronics, enjoy nature, take a vacation or a ‘stay’cation, make a gratitude list, date yourself, no more secrets, find accountability, surround yourself with positivity, embrace change and just be…..
This morning I was up early because I wanted to enjoy God in nature before I made it to our worship service. I went to the greenway near my house an hour or so later than I usually do. You see, a week ago, a female runner reported that she was attacked at knifepoint by some guy hiding in the woods and he tried to drag her in the woods. She kicked him in the ‘you know what’ and took off running. Anyway, I came out an hour later and decided to ditch the iPod and take my phone.
There is just something so serene about early morning that is very relaxing to me. I really think it’s the freshness of a new day. A fresh chance to do it again…a fresh dose of new mercy :)
I passed a familiar walker, his usually walking partner replaced with a beautiful stick. “No dog today?” I asked. “Unfortunately, we had to put him down” was the reply, “thanks for asking.”
There was a squirrel running off with an acorn as big as her head….scurrying away before I could snap the moment. Preparing for winter I guess. And deer…yes, they were enjoying the early morning too.
Untrustingly checking me out, but too lured in by the lush dewey grass to be thwarted by us two-legged intruders. I saw a total of three mamas with their spotted babies nearby.
“The hands bearing chains can bless well”
These were words that I wrote down when a Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) representative facilitated the last session of my church’s first Boot Camp a few weeks ago. The organization has been serving persecuted churches since 1967 and she was there to inform us about what was going on with other christians in the world.
Before the first video was even finished I was already sniffling and could barely hold back tears. In one video, based on actual events, there were some christians and non christians traveling on a bus in another country.The bus was hijacked, they were all taken off the bus (men, women and children), tied up and eventually executed. One of the christians started worshiping God and he was shot…his last fleeting thought was that he didn’t get to tell his persecutors about Jesus. Miraculously he survived and was now ministering Jesus to those who tried to kill him!!