Come Sit By Me

This post is a long time coming.  I’ve been sitting in this space for quite a while.  It’s taken long enough to get this down on paper, but the Lord thought I needed some extra time to chew on it because I’ve not been able to type for several days due to a shoulder injury.  I still can’t write my name well on paper, but typing is working fine tonight.  I will say as I finish this post up that I still don’t know where I land.  I am still confused about some of the things I’ve thrown out there, and I really can sit in any spot and say that I understand it...

All around us there is a stance to choose, a team to pick, a side to stand on.  Where do you fall? What do you stand for or against?

I find that in standing for something, you are often standing against something else.

It is most likely something on the other side.  This became increasingly clear to me when I entered motherhood.  I talk about this a little bit in my post Meet Me at the Top of Mountain Jesus.  If I stood for breastfeeding, then I felt like I stood against formula feeding.  I know the science that breastfeeding is wonderful and good and “better,” but I also know the HARD stories that don’t line up with that thought process. The mom that can’t produce enough or the baby that can’t break down ANYTHING on their own without an exorbitantly priced formula. The reality is what I stand for, really, is feeding.  As a mom, I have found it harder and harder to choose sides cause you just never know what is going on behind the scenes.  The political and social climate has also made this difficult for me over the last couple of years.  I have watched people choose a team and stand on the mountain of something important (something that I probably agree with fully); yet I have seen these people become what they are standing against.  I have seen judgement and slander be rampant all in the name of standing for something.  It makes me not want to stand for anything.  Really, I just want to crawl in a hole when the intensity comes to this.  I choose nothing.

I was talking to a group of girlfriends on the way home from a Beth Moore conference this last weekend.  I told them that I am not a picketer or a protester.  You probably won’t see me standing with signs anywhere on my own.  It’s just not in my blood.  One of the girls with me admitted it is deeply in her blood.  She comes from a family of politicians, and protesting has been a part of her life.  You are probably thinking that I am weak and cowardly at this point.  Maybe I am.  But what I struggle with is the others.  We just can’t see everyone’s heart and what they are feeling or thinking when they drive by that one sign.  If I knew everyone’s story that would see my sign, I might be a mighty protester.  The thing is, I know that the world has been changed by some of these statements, protests, rallies and pickets.  I can’t deny that.  Civil rights, sex-trafficking, equality, etc. have all been influenced, changed, and some made right by some of these intense statements.  The American Revolution was rooted in protest.  But I like Rosa Park’s way on the bus that day.  I like that she did what she needed to do for her and her fellow man.  While Mrs. Parks was indeed an activist, and I’m sure did her fair share of demonstrations, her quiet strength on the bus in her every day is something that I can identify with.

It’s funny, though.  I am fairly close with some boycotters.  One thing goes wrong, and they are out.  You do not want to be on the other side of a bad meal they’ve had because they will never grace the doors of the restaurant again. They will also tell you about it so that you never grace those doors either.  And if they have a bad run in with someone else, it takes a LONG time for that person to come in to their graces again.   You know these people.  I can understand some of it, but mercy.  There is a place that we frequent often.  It’s a Fort Worth icon.  And the food is great, but the owner is not a kind man.  I’m sure many would disagree with me. However, we have witnessed his treatment of the employees on numerous occasions be despicable. You could call him many things. Many.  And they would probably be true.  But we still go…once a week.  We have the right to boycott and never go back. I mean if everyone saw the way he treated his employees, they would probably not go back either.  I’m not sure we could shut the place down, though.  Maybe.  But every time I’m there, I say to myself, “Should we stop coming as a statement?  I mean, this is crazy.  It looks like we support this craziness.” But what I have discovered is that we are there for the employees he mistreats.  One employee in particular got chastised for praying with us one day.  However, recently he shared his story with us and spent a great deal of time justifying keeping a job with someone that treats him so poorly.  He is taking care of his mom.

I have to figure out how to stand for all the things I believe in as I walk out my daily life.  Yes, I am willing to make sacrifices to my day to day activities to be a part of the world changing, but I also have to be true to what the Lord has called me to.  I have to do what I can do each day in every interaction. And it can’t differ because of whom I’m standing in front of.  Above all things, He has called us to love and that cannot be prejudice.

There is this underlying feeling (which I referred to in my last post) that if you don’t agree or believe in something, you have to separate yourself from it lest it influence you, possibly poison you.  If you don’t like President Trump or believe in his policy or ways, you may think that sitting at the same table as him would be an abomination to everything you stand for.  Maybe many would see it that way.  But maybe there is more there.  Maybe sitting at that table matters. You may hate that table, see right through that table; but aren’t we called to come to the table?

One of my gifts in the Holy Spirit is discernment.  It has become more and more refined the more I walk with Jesus.  What that means is that I can see, hear and feel things in the Spirit that may not have been revealed yet.  That’s sounds a little hokey, I know.  But it’s real.  I usually handle it by throwing it out there to someone because it feels so off the wall and then following it up by saying “I just want to throw it out there. It could be nothing.” My husband says he has learned to listen when I say things like this.  And I’m still a broken vessel; I don’t always see and hear fully.  Though, sometimes I see enough, feel enough, know enough.  It’s enough to make me RUN in the other direction.  I struggle with how to see, know, feel something hard or difficult that is deeply rooted in the Spirit (and truths that confirm the Spirit), and still choose to engage.  I have been able to know things in the Spirit (discernment) for a long time, but only recently have I learned how to listen.  And sometimes I’m dead wrong, but a lot of times I’m right on.  Why would the Holy Spirit speak something to me just to have me sprint in the opposite direction?  I think there is definitely times that He is warning me. There are times when I feel like I should take a different road or not go to a store one day.  I’ve learned to ask the Lord why He might be telling something.  However, I’m learning, when He tells me something about someone, He may not want me to walk away, but rather pull up a chair.

I operate thinking that if I know something about someone or feel something about them that is contrary to the Lord’s way, I really should place some healthy distance and boundaries between us. And while I think that this may be necessary in many cases, I wonder if we often push away from the table that was meant to be an invitation into some greater glory.

When I think about Jesus, He pulled up a chair with many, many people that I can’t imagine He was pleased with or happy about their lifestyle choices.  But I’m not sure he cared so much about what He saw on the outside, but what was possible if He reached the inside ~ their hearts. The New Testament is full of stories of Jesus pulling His chair up alongside those that were less than His desires for them.

I was sitting in church last week praying about some things.  Some of them had to do with my girls and their intensity and their lack of listening ~ their sin.  Some of my prayers were focused on people who were leaders in my life that I am having trouble believing their motives are in the right place.  The Lord clearly spoke to me and said, “You can see fully and still love fully.”  He followed up by saying, “I actually call you to this.  This is my way.”

Not only can we see fully and still love fully, but we can also be fully.

My job challenges me to this every shift.  I walk into a room usually not knowing what is behind it.  In less than a few minutes, I have to assess the room; and then I have to engage this room fully in love.  It doesn’t matter what is on the other side.  And sometimes I can tell that the ones on the other side of the door are trying to figure out what to do with me.  They think that they see me fully, and they are pretty sure they don’t want to engage me.  I can see it all over their faces.  They are saying, “I am not pulling a chair up to your table.” We have choice.  Do we back away and agree that the table is not worth pulling a chair up to? Or do we pull up a chair, and as we look around seated there, we realize that our choosing to sit at the table was the invitation for others to pull up a chair.

I want to be the kind of person that pulls up a chair.  I know people that are pulling up chairs all over.  They are brave and not afraid to be fully and love fully where they can see fully ~ and they hate what they see.  And they are people that don’t just pull up one day and then peace out the next.

They pull up to that table every time they can because they have seen glory at the table. More than any mountain they stood on ~ the glory was at the table.

I think that we can be both table people and protestors, because I know some of these people.  What do you think?  Talk to me about protest and round table. This is me pulling up my chair because I have so, so much to learn.  

 

 

Trust the Holy Spirit

He dumped me. The guy that the Lord had made clear was the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with.  What now?!?  The Lord said to wait for him.  What?!?  I looked at my best friend and told her, “I think I am supposed to wait for him.”

“Do you think I’m crazy?” I asked her.

And then she said and did something that has changed my life and my heart forever.

“Yes, I think you are crazy, BUT I will wait with you.”

Everything about that changed what it meant for me to really be with people.  And I married this man 10 years ago in August.  I’m glad someone believed there was glory on the other side. 🙂

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A little over a year into our marriage and months after buying our first home, my husband showed up at home in the middle of his 12 hour shift at the hospital.  He was on administrative leave that led to him being fired for not getting a form signed.  The Lord clearly spoke to me to be with my husband in that moment ~ to ask for mercy but trust whatever happened.  This event led to my husband making a move into the home health industry that I reluctantly helped him apply for.  I believed he was called to the hospital setting, and he felt like it was time for a change.  Not many months later the hospital that fired him completely shut down…closed their doors forever.  And now, 9 years later, my husband has just been promoted to a manager position within this company.  I’m not sure what is coming for my man who just left his comfortable scrubs (and precious love for his patients) for the business casual world. But I fully trust the Holy Spirit in my husband and believe He is leading my husband.

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A few years ago, my husband and I counseled a precious couple through their engagement.  Their story was not typical and, to some, lent itself to red flags.  People consistently came to us with that questioning head tilt, asking us if this was a good thing.  And every time, we confidently answered them that we fully believed in what God was doing and what He had spoken to them.  We trusted the Holy Spirit in them. We walked closely with them and had seen how they walked and listened to the Spirit. We trusted that Jesus would indeed work this out for good; and that, honestly, this couple would change the world.  They will.

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Recently I encouraged a mom much further along than me in her love and support of her daughter over the last two years.  Her daughter has been dating and got engaged to a man that she had very little time to get to know relative to someone who lived much closer.  She’s had questions, I’m sure, and probably some concerns.  I’m sure every mom does at this point.  However, she has loved her daughter, supported her daughter, and been a cheerleader all along the way.  She has gently voiced her thoughts, wonders, and concerns and then laid them at the feet of Jesus.

She has believed and trusted that the Holy Spirit inside of her is the same Holy Spirit inside her daughter, and He is indeed very, very good.

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These last several years we have walked with some friends, but more specifically, mentors as they have left the church.  They would call themselves “church refugees.”  And walking with them has been hard, beautiful, and completely Jesus.  I don’t say this lightly.  Their story is hard, rich, and necessary. But from the very beginning, I remember telling her, “I trust the Holy Spirit in you.”  And there have been days that I cried (hard) trying to understand all of it…wondering if I was wrong or she was wrong or what the hell was right and wrong, finding freedom from right and wrong…  And the Holy Spirit alive in me is the SAME HOLY SPIRIT in and alive in her. And I believe that He is indeed good.  This has been far from a clean and picture-perfect process.  It has been raw, messy, ugly, sad.  But I don’t believe that the Holy Spirit abandoned them the day they started to walk away and deconstruct what they had known for their whole lives; or that He just stopped talking to them because they are walking away from something “good” and “biblical”.  I believe He is most definitely with them. Still.  I believe He is actually leading them. And I also believe that He is not done.  Have they made mistakes? I’m sure they have. Have they gotten it wrong? Sure. But I really, really trust the Holy Spirit in them.  It’s the same Holy Spirit that has led me the last decade and used them to speak into my life. And honestly I cannot wait to see what is on the other side of this journey.  But can I tell you?  If I wasn’t willing to do this part (the messy, ugly, raw, sad stuff) with them, I would never see the other side.  The glory.

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There is an epidemic out there of Christians believing that their holy spirit is better than the holy spirit inside of someone else.  Or there is the thought that the Holy Spirit only speaks to certain kinds of people. That thought that some have clearly lost their way. Not to mention the thought that the Holy Spirit is only going to lead you into things that are clearly GOOD and biblical. We often try to define and say what is Spirit led and what is not.  Can I just say that God telling Abraham to go kill his son pretty much proves that God is going to ask you to do things that may indeed look insane to other people?  Would this Holy Spirit would ever lead a person out of the church?  Guess what! WE ARE NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT.  We don’t know what He is doing.  We CANNOT FATHOM it. (Ecc. 3:10)

If you believe that the Holy Spirit is indeed good, that He works all things out for good, that He makes all things beautiful, that He is more powerful than the worst that can happen ~ if you really, really believe that to your core, then you can choose to really be with someone no matter what they are walking through.  

I could write a book about how ALL parts of our story lead to His glory, but today I’m just going to tell you that they do. You can ask questions, worry, voice concerns, even disagree and still choose to be with someone in this journey.  If you have walked with someone closely, seen and trusted the Holy Spirit in them and for others, then you can confidently stand with them and trust the Holy Spirit in them. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He didn’t forsake them.  Instead we often abandon them because we don’t want to be a part of that crazy, sad, raw mess. We seem to believe that by aligning with them that we are somehow walking down a path of greater sin.

The question I have to ask you is, do YOU trust the Holy Spirit in yourself?

I want to give a clear picture of walking this out with someone.  It does not mean that we walk alongside them with no boundaries, no concern, no honesty on our part.  Just recently I sat across from a girl that I love.  She was in a friendship with guy that had been a brief romantic relationship before, and she desperately wanted that relationship to continue.  Their boundaries were extremely grey.  I trust the Holy Spirit in her, and as her sister, I felt like maybe she was missing something.  I knew going into our time together that I was going to have to speak hard things.   I ended up talking to her about the need to guard her heart because of the pain that would most definitely come if she indeed lost this guy.  Her fear of losing him completely allowed her to blur the lines.  I also looked at her and said, “You don’t have to listen to a word I am saying to you.  You can simply continue on this path, ’cause I know it’s fun.  And I want you to know, I’m not going anywhere no matter what.  But I have been where you are, and I want this to be better for you than it was for me.  Do your best to guard your heart better than this grey.”  Not even 3 weeks later, this guy was defining an incredible relationship.  I am sharing this because even if she walked away and listened to NOTHING I said, I still trusted the Spirit.  I trusted Him, and I trusted Him in her.

I recently learned the hard way what it looks like when I don’t trust the Spirit.  It was one of the hardest experiences of my life to date.  The Holy Spirit clearly spoke something to me that completely freaked me out.  And instead of hearing Him followed by continuing to trust him, I heard him and ran the other way.  Yes, He was warning me, but He wasn’t leaving me.  It was a lesson for me.  I learned that I could stay in the midst of something difficult.  I had a revelation from the Lord; the other person did not know the Lord or possess the ability to understand my revelation.  I felt like I had to abandon the whole thing…run like the wind.  I wanted nothing to do with what the Lord had spoken to me.  And it would have been a difficult situation no matter what, but I do believe that my free will to run very much made things worse and harder.  It is a lesson learned.

If you make the choice to be with someone in whatever is happening in their life (their hard, their journey), the Holy Spirit is still in you and with you too. 

This is so important. This is how we walk through hard things ~ believing He is with us and never leaves us.  This is how we can be okay with others walking through hard things.  He is with them and never leaves them.  

***Remind me I wrote this when I have all teenage girls, and I think they have all three lost their minds.  Remind me that the Holy Spirit in me is with them too.  And if He doesn’t dwell in them, it’s Him that stirs their hearts towards Him anyways.  So…it’s on Him.  And I trust Him.  And He’s good. Remind me. ***

You don’t have to go to the same church, believe the same things, or adhere to the same doctrine, to trust that the Holy Spirit is indeed on the move in and around the people in your life.  I don’t know what He’s doing. (Neither do you.) I cannot fathom it. (Neither can you.) But He’s moving.  And sometimes He reveals what He is doing and sometimes He doesn’t.  But He’s always with me, and He’s always with you.  I do believe that this can mean hard seasons full of hard conversations.  Being with people, no matter what, will always look like communicating. There will always be some kind of mess involved.  And from my experiences, there will be days you need distance and days you need a break (but you have to communicate that). There will be clear days and grey days.  And He’s still there. The unchanging, unwavering Spirit that Jesus gave us as a gift is always here. Trust Him.

Y’all. I’m weeping here at the end.  I believe this to my very core. I don’t always walk it out. But I do believe this is all true. And I believe it is so hard and so beautiful and so very, very worth it.  There is GLORY on the other side of this.  He is so worthy of our trust, and He chose to put Himself in people.  He chose to stay among us.  He is so worthy. And I deeply believe that your choice to trust Him in other people’s lives and stories means that you will see Him in ways you could have never seen Him without their stories. He is so worthy of your trust.