The Most Effective Communicator

A good friend texted me the other morning.  She told me she was feeling frazzled with life.  She felt disorganized, and she was frustrated at how she responded to her kids over and over with snappiness, irritation, and yelling.  She texted, “You seem so organized and with it.”

Little did she know that less than 12 hours before I was huffing and puffing to get in the car and head to Trader Joe’s leaving my husband with one crying baby, one sad kid, and one angry  kid.  I just couldn’t seem to communicate without screaming, and I needed to breathe.  I was frustrated with myself and my kids.  I can’t seem to be an effective communicator, and my kids can’t seem to listen.  I started to have it out with the Lord. “For SIX years I have asked you to grow gentleness in me! SIX YEARS Lord.  Seriously.”  He listened attentively and then just spoke, “The most effective communicator has been and will always be the Holy Spirit.”  I pulled into Trader Joe’s and googled what I had just heard.  That had to be a quote of someone’s.  As an author, I’m not really into ripping off someone else’s quote; it’s kind of illegal.  The idea was certainly out there, but no one had quoted that before.  So I wrote it down.

The most effective communicator has been and will always be the Holy Spirit.

I texted my friend back the next morning and told her about getting in my car like Trader Joe’s was my first vacation in six years.  I told her about how NOT with it I really am.  I told her I had been praying for SIX years for the Lord to change my response, my tone, my spirit.  I told her I was with her in this thing. I told her I will pray for her, and I asked her to pray for me.

The Holy Spirit is more dear to me than ever before.  I pray the fruits of the Spirit over my girls and myself in the van almost daily.  I highlight gentleness and patience for me ~ kindness and self-control for my girls.  I will never forget almost 13 years ago when a precious mentor gently reminded me, “You are not the Holy Spirit.” No, I am not the Holy Spirit.  He is the one moving and compelling and changing people.  I remember this more than anything throughout parenting.  I am not the Holy Spirit.  I will not move my children, save my children, compel my children.  The Holy Spirit will do that.

The Holy Spirit is going to do His thing whether we want Him to or not.  I was talking with a friend the other day. I was worked up and passionate about what I was talking about, but midway through talking my voice changed and I began to “preach.” I could hear what I was saying like I was listening to someone else, and I wasn’t sure what the next sentence was going to be.  I knew it was no longer me speaking, but the Holy Spirit had something to say to her.  Probably not even 10 minutes before that conversation, I had yelled or been snappy with a kid in my house. He still spoke through me.

The beauty of the Holy Spirit is that He can take over whether you surrender or not.  If this weren’t true, I’m not sure that I would still be here. Too many times He has protected and led me even when I wasn’t walking near Him.

Which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 1 Corinthians 2:13 (NASB)

Have you ever been listening to someone talk and their voice and tone change?  If you were nodding off, you look up and start to listen.  We have a gentleman at our church that has a distinct Holy Spirit voice.  It is always so interesting to witness. He will be preaching and the Holy Spirit voice will speak, and more often than not, he ends up tearful.  He is moved by what the Holy Spirit is speaking through Him.

I am moved that the Holy Spirit uses ANY of us. How great is our God that He uses broken over and over for His glory and for our good.

It’s significant that He so often uses broken, because we tend to not trust the Holy Spirit could speak through certain people at certain times.  When my husband and I are odds about something, it’s more difficult for me to believe that the Lord could use him or he could be a vessel for the Holy Spirit.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In the same way we often feel like people in authority over us are always hearing for us and what they say we tend to take as gospel.  However, it is important that no matter what we hear from someone else, we petition the Holy Spirit to confirm or speak to us regarding this.

It’s an interesting balance between listening and questioning.  Ultimately it results in what we all need to walk in this faith: abiding.  The Lord has spoken to me in and out of obedience.  When I am abiding in Him, though, the communication is often and most clear.

If I can remain in the Lord (abide) while parenting and throughout my days, the words and actions that come from me will be that of the Holy Spirit.  My blood pressure rises even as I type this.  When I was in college I read Andrew Murray’s Abide In Christ.  From then on I had this deep grasp on what it meant to abide, and at the time abiding became natural.  Then life happened.  Abiding feels like this thing I used to know how to do before I became intensely distracted by all of the life that moves around me.

My abiding journey began my senior year in college.  It was a precious year that was a stake in the ground in my walk with the Lord.  I was not in any kind of ministry.  No one was leading or dictating how my life would look any more. I was not leading anyone else (officially). There were no rules.  It was just me and Jesus and some beautiful Jesus-loving people that I loved like family.  It was simple.  And I could hear Him at every turn, and I felt that I was moving with His heartbeat.  Now I can barely hear what I’m saying out loud.

Yet, I know His voice.

 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. ~ John 10:27

I am so glad that nothing can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28). I know His voice, and even now, though sometimes He has to yell, I know when He speaks.  And I know that what He is speaking is the BEST option.  And I know if I let Him speak through me, what needs to be said will actually be spoken.

Jesus left us with a Helper.  He did not leave us alone.  We do not have to rely on our own ways or pull up our bootstraps.  We can call on the Helper and petition for His move, His voice, His heart.  And when we remain in the Source of the Helper, the Giver of the Helper, we can truly rest in Him.

More often than not, we (our ways, our affections, our dreams and our desires) get in His way of moving.  We hustle to make all of the things of our heart happen and, yet, the Helper knows.  And He’s here.  And He loves us deeply.  If we abide, He will indeed lead us into our good which is ultimately His good.

There was a summer in college that I had the opportunity to work at a summer camp back in my home town.  The draw was not that the summer camp was a Christian summer camp that was at home.  The draw was indeed a boy. I would get to be with him all summer if I worked there. I asked the Lord for wisdom.  I heard a clear “NO,” and moments later picked up the phone and told them I would be there. I called the boy and told him I would be there.  This was the beginning of a horrible summer. Yes, there were good moments, but I often wonder what kind of amazing summer that would have been if I had obeyed.  Here’s where the sovereign God thing can be a bit much…He knew what I would choose before I chose it.  And He was with me the whole time, y’all.  Lots and LOTS of convicting that summer.  He still used me to love on some sweet 6 and 7 year olds.  I learned a ton of Scripture.  He was there the whole time.  But it was not His best, because I chose my “best.”

Right now I often find myself hustling for the kids my heart desires, but this is not the only place we hustle for our worthiness (as my close sister often says).  I think one of the places we do this most is within church and ministry.  We feel the need to help Him move.  Just reading through Acts will remind you that there is nothing but the Gospel and the Holy Spirit that builds the church.  Preach the Gospel, love one another and be subject to Christ in everything…The Holy Spirit will do the rest.  As a communicator, I often think that it might be my responsibility to present Jesus in a certain way for people to see Him and know Him.  But you can build all the on-ramps in life you want to for people, and the Holy Spirit will ultimately be the one that steals their heart, and He will most certainly get all the glory. We do not draw people to Jesus; the Holy Spirit is who does that.  We only need to be willing to surrender to Him.

You are not under the law, with its inexorable do, but under grace, with its blessed believe what Christ will do for you. ~ Andrew Murray

So I want my words to be His, not because I want a changed kiddo, but because I am abiding in Him and fellowshipping with the Most High.  I am so glad that He shows up and uses me as a vessel more often than I deserve.  He even uses me sometimes to communicate Himself to my kids.  Most of the time I feel like I am stripping them of the Gospel because of my brokenness.  But the pressure is indeed off.  He wants to use me. He chose me as their parent, and being a parent is most certainly a privilege that should not be taken lightly.  But the Holy Spirit is not trusting in me…He wants me to trust Him. 

We do not have to demand His presence or His holiness.  We don’t even have to work for it. We must just believe Him, and surrender to Him. He is already here. He is moving, active, and very, very effective.

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.