Category Archives: Covenant Relationships

Day 8: Listening to Understand (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Death to Stock/Foster & Asher

Death to Stock/Foster & Asher

There is listening to understand and listening to defend.

If I am listening to understand, then I will hear the entirety of what you have to say without cutting you off to interject my own opinions.

If I am listening to understand, I will not be dismissive of your reality, even though I may have had a different experience.

If I am listening to understand, I will not automatically counter your thoughts with all the reasons you are wrong.

If I am listening to understand, I will not make assumptions about your heart, character, or personal convictions; instead, I will lovingly seek clarity where it’s needed.

If I am listening to understand, I will respond with thoughtful questions that show my desire to draw out the essence of what matters to you.

If I am listening to understand, I will take time to ponder what you have to say instead of promptly brushing it aside and moving on.

It’s not easy to listen this way, especially if you are challenging me, convicting me, or calling me into territory I am unfamiliar with or uncertain of. It’s not even a little bit easy.

But it’s necessary if I want to establish trust with you and if I want to walk alongside you. It’s necessary if I want to value your heart. It’s necessary if we ever hope to make a positive difference in this world.31daysOfSimpleTruths

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Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Covenant Relationships, Love

The Act of Choosing Every Day

We have spent the last few days celebrating seven years of marriage. Seven! We enjoyed a much needed, relaxing, kid-free weekend (hallelujah!), and then yesterday–the official day–we let the kids in on the fun of celebrating with us.

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Anniversaries of any kind invite so much reflection, and this has been no exception. My heart is full as I realize the strength and gift of what we have. I would by no means claim to be an expert, but I think I have realized one very important truth for building a healthy marriage: you have the opportunity every single day to choose each other all over again, to turn towards each other even when you’d rather turn away.

I always wondered how people could say they had just drifted apart. How does that happen? How do years go by and suddenly there is nothing where there was once a loving relationship? And I think it has something to do with this choosing.

Our responses and interactions with each other in the flurry of ordinary, every day living either add a brick towards forming a wall between us or they bring us a step closer into deeper connection with each other. It is not enough to choose each other as a spouse and have a pretty ceremony and say our vows. We have to go on choosing each other every single day.

When I don’t take him granted and I express my appreciation for all the little ways he helps carry the load, I am choosing him.

When he hurts or disappoints me and rather than attacking him, I express myself with humility and grace, I am choosing him.

When I hurt or disappoint him and I swallow my pride to say I’m sorry and make it right, I am choosing him.

When I recognize he is weary and stressed and I say, “Hey, why don’t you go for a run?,” I am choosing him.

Again and again, countless ways, I can move closer to his heart or I can step away.

We haven’t always gotten this right. There have been seasons when poor communication or overwhelming circumstances were allowed to build a wall between us, and it was tremendous work to tear that thing down. And I can see how something like that could grow insurmountable to where it seems completely hopeless. Those chasms can get harder and harder to cross.

But in the opposite vein, even when vulnerability and humility seemed the painful option, I have never ever regretted choosing that path. It becomes easier to choose that step now rather than deal with the wall later.

And with this understanding, I have a renewed passion for the next season of our marriage, a renewed commitment to being even more intentional about choosing this amazing man all over again, every single day. There are so many ways we can still say, “I do,” and I am looking forward to finding them.

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Filed under Covenant Relationships, Hope, Marriage

#Ferguson (or When You’re Struggling for Words, but Still have to Speak)

AP Photo/Sid Hastings via Buzzfeed

AP Photo/Sid Hastings via Buzzfeed

I am heartbroken. My heart has been heavy for weeks now – Palestine and Israel, Syria, Ukraine and Russia, ISIS, Robin Williams, the list is getting longer and the world is unraveling.

But Mike Brown has pushed me over the edge. Every time I think about it, the tears come.

There are a billion words I want to say, questions I want to ask, things I want to understand and dialogue with friends who have better perspective than I do.

But not today.

Today is for lament. Today is for grieving. Today is for holy indignation. Today is for holding out hands to rightfully angry, hurting, frustrated brothers and sisters and breathing, “I’m sorry.” Because I am. I am so so sorry.

This is not the world I want, for you or for me. And I don’t understand how this is still a thing – how a person is assumed to be up to no good simply because of their skin color. Why??? Why are their people who see the world this way? Why are their people who want to hide out in their monochromatic bubbles away from anything and anyone different from them? Why do we think someone’s skin color speaks for their character?

I grieve for mommas who love Jesus and love people with their whole hearts, who are doing their best to raise their children to walk in peace and respect for people, but who are afraid to let their children out on the streets for fear of what someone will assume and do. I grieve for dear friends who have shared stories of being followed by police while they were out having a good time with their siblings simply because they were two black men. I grieve for friends who have struggled to find themselves because people made them feel they had to “act more white” in order to succeed in this world. I grieve for students I have loved and mentored who carry this weight on their shoulders ever single day. I grieve for sons shot dead and futures snuffed out.

And I am sorry for holding these words in my heart for several days and not writing them sooner. I am sorry it took a wave of conviction prompted by someone else’s boldness to make me speak.

I hate racism. I hate it with every fiber of my being. And I want to know how we can do better. I want to push back against this injustice.

But today I start with I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. And for what it’s worth – to all the many races and ethnic backgrounds and cultures, but especially, today to my African American brothers and sisters, you have every right to be in this world. I want to be in your life, and I want you in my life. And I don’t want it to be my world or your world but our world.

I know it may not feel like it in the world at large right now, but with all sincerity, you ARE loved. Right here, in this heart, you are.

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Filed under Covenant Relationships, Grieving, Pain

Five-Minute Friday: Visit

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sometimes this is all you want after a long day, week, month.

The comfort of a friend to whom you can say it all or say none of it.  Sipping tea or coffee or wine, whatever the night calls for.

The familiarity that allows a phone call saying, “Hey, mind if I drop by?”

Is there anything so sweet in the world as a visit of a trusted friend?  And yet it seems rare, hard to find, easy to lose.  Some seasons they are there, and some seasons, they’re not – at least that’s been the pattern I know.

But they are out there, scattered around the globe – Mozambique, England – and some a little closer, but not close enough, those whom I have trusted enough to lay my heart bare.

And tonight, I crave the visit, the nearness.  To laugh until we cry.  To let the tears fall into safe hands.  To speak the impossible dreams to ones who will say, “Go.  And we’ll be here all the way.”

*Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday.

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Filed under Covenant Relationships, Uncategorized, Writing