Tag Archives: relationship

For Anyone Who Asks the Question: Why Do Bad Things Happen?

I’ve been through a lot of hurts in my life.  I would wager you have too.  Over the years, God has shown me a common theme throughout His Word.  It is that He is God, He is good, loving, and just, and He is always working in our lives–through our circumstances, our losses, our trials, and yes, even and especially through our pain.  Put another way, He has a purpose in our suffering.  It is not just for the sake of seeing us squirm–as Jim Carey’s character stated in the movie Bruce Almighty.

Does the fact that we hurt mean God has abandoned us or that somehow He has failed us? Does it mean He is evil, bad, or mean? Although our human hearts often believe these scenarios to be true, they are not.  Does God allow bad things to happen to us? Yes. The Bible is full of heroic Christians and faithful God-followers who suffered great pain, loss, punishment, disaster, or catastrophe–sometimes even in the name of Christ.  As the late Elisabeth Elliot stated in one of her books, “All events serve God’s will.”

But we still want to know why, don’t we?  I know I do.  As I have processed and worked through my own trials and painful times, God has shown me a few of the answers to the question “why?”.  That’s what this brief E-book is about.

If you or someone you know has struggled with the question “why?,” this E-book, Why Do Bad Things Happen? (And Where is God When They Do?) is for you.

Order your copy now and tell a friend.  And be sure to leave a comment below after you’ve read it!

If you are struggling in your relationship with God, yourself, or others, I can help!  Contact me today!

Make today count!
Mary

10 Ways To Improve Your Relationships

Relationships are a part of every area of life. When our relationships are stressful, life is stressful. Over the years, I’ve learned some things that, when I consistently apply them, not only do they improve my relationships, but they also help me to be a happier, more grounded and centered person.  If you want to improve your relationships, read on.

  1. Read emails, texts, letters, etc. very carefully.

Often we read communications from people with a preconceived notion of their intent. The written word is the most difficult form of communication to decipher sometimes, especially when there is already stress in the relationship. Slow down and read the email, text, etc. as it is written —simply black words on a white background—without emotion, without interpretation, and without any kind of inflection. Resist the temptation to read it with the tone you assume is there. Instead, focus on “hearing” what the sender is truly saying. Then read it again, and again, if you need to.

  1. Don’t jump to conclusions.

Most people won’t jump out of an airplane even with a parachute, but most of us jump to conclusions when it comes to relationships. Obviously, the parachute is intended to save your life. Likewise, refusing to jump to conclusions can save your relationship. Again, try to “hear” what the other person is saying—even if they are saying it poorly. Listen for their heart; seek to understand before you ask or expect them to understand you. This simple step will revolutionize your relationships!

  1. Don’t assume you know what’s going on until you have the facts.

Each of these first three points has to do with making assumptions. Why? Because we are all guilty of making assumptions, and doing so is incredibly destructive to relationships! Always look at the facts first, detaching from the emotions of the situation to the best of your ability. It may help to envision that you are an investigator seeking to uncover the truth of the situation by first assessing the facts. As you do so, it will enable you to set your emotions aside, which will automatically take heat out of the moment.

  1. Respond – don’t react.

Reactions are like a knee-jerk response. When we react, we fly off the handle, we jump to conclusions, and we injure the other person in the relationship. Reacting often makes us look bad as well. Responses, on the other hand, occur when we take time to process the facts and the impact those facts have upon us. Responding involves remaining calm, listening well, and taking a time-out if necessary to fully work through your emotions. Always respond. Never react.

  1. Self-control always pays off.

Responding instead of reacting requires a fair amount of self-control. But rest assured, the work it requires to respond versus reacting is well worth it! Just like you cannot put toothpaste back into the tube, words that have been spoken can never be unheard. Once they are out there, they are out there forever. Even if you really didn’t mean that hurtful thing you said, the other person will likely never forget it. As the proverb goes, Be careful of the words you speak for someday you may have to eat them. Make sure the words you speak are seasoned with grace, kindness, and understanding.

  1. Never feel bad for doing the right thing.

By design, the right thing is always the best thing. Conversely, the wrong thing is never right! However, the right thing can cause pain for the other person involved. And while we don’t want to be the reason someone we care about is hurting, sometimes positive change requires pain. On the flip side, the right thing will never cause harm—otherwise it wouldn’t be right! Doing the wrong thing will always cause harm; and it may harm the relationship to the point that reconciliation becomes impossible. Even God allows us to go through painful things, sometimes, in order to make us more like Jesus. But just as God allows things in life to hurt us, He promises never to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). I’d say His example is the best one to follow!

  1. Do what you say you will do.

In order to be a person of character, we must do what we say we will do.   When we do, we show others that we are reliable, that our word is good, and that they can count on us. Plus, it just feels great to follow through with what you’ve promised. Be trustworthy.

  1. Remember that God is your Defender.

At times we find ourselves being wrongly accused, misunderstood, or unjustly characterized. Our natural response is to defend ourselves, or to work tirelessly to change that person’s opinion of us. However, people will often believe things of us that are not true—even the people closest to us. When these situations arise, respond calmly, confidently, and consistently with your true character. The truth often comes out, eventually, but whether it does or not, remember that God is working on your behalf. He has not abandoned you in this situation. You can trust Him. Wait for Him to work, and trust that even if that person never accepts the truth of the situation, God knows who you are, and in the end, that is really all that matters. The people who choose to believe negative things about you may always make that choice, but the people who truly care about you will stand by you. God is definitely in that group!

  1. Keep in mind that people who do hurtful things are often (if not always) operating out of a wound themselves.

There’s a saying that Hurt people hurt people. Whenever we are hurting, the most natural thing is to act out of that pain. When someone hurts, wrongly accuses, or offends you, ask yourself if this behavior is really about you or if it could possibly be the result of some pain that person has in his own life. People who are bitter, for example, have often been deeply wounded by people close to them. Likewise, bitter people can be some of the most toxic, hurtful people to be in relationship with. Take time to examine yourself and look for grains of truth in what the other person has communicated to you. If there are grains of truth, own them, apologize for them, and seek to make things right with that person. However, if there are no grains of truth, consider the other person carefully—not to analyze them or to judge them, but to better understand or identify the reason for their attack upon you. If they are obviously wounded and are acting out of that pain, try to look past the offense and see the hurting person underneath. It doesn’t make what they did right, but it explains why they may be doing it. Often when others attack us, it is less about us than it is about their own wounding.

  1. Set healthy boundaries.

Boundaries are like fences with gates; they allow good things to come in and they keep bad things out. Boundaries are about you—what you will tolerate or not, what you will accept in relationships or not. They are not about controlling the other person. Boundaries are limits with consequences. For example, one boundary may be that, during an argument, if the other person begins making cutting, critical, or derogatory remarks, you will remove yourself from the conversation. Boundaries need to be clear, specific, and enforceable. Boundaries create mutually respectful relationships that enable us to thrive and grow. Likewise, they can be safeguards to protect us from dangerous or harmful relationships.

As you begin to apply these ten things, look for your relationships to improve. Of course, relationships require that both people work to make them successful. If you discover that you are the only one working in the relationship to make it healthy and mutually beneficial, you may want to consider the amount of personal investment you are willing to contribute to it.

Keep in mind that there are different degrees of relationships. You will be happiest when you have one or two people in your innermost circle who love you, respect you, support you, and continually work to create a safe, and fulfilling reciprocal relationship; people you can trust with your deepest hurts, darkest secrets, and that will love you and believe in you no matter what. The next circle out may have a few more people who are not quite as intimately involved in your life, but they should also be trustworthy and caring. Then, in the outermost circle, that is where you will maintain the relationships that are most trying, but that may be a permanent part of your life. This group may include family members that are critical, bitter, or simply difficult to be around. You love them and are committed to them because they are family, but that does not mean you have to let them into your inner circles. Keep these people in your life, but keep them at a safe distance so as to minimize their influence upon your life.

Now get to work learning and applying these principles! You will be glad you did.

Make today count! 🙂

Mary

(Published at Noomii.com @ 5/18/15)  All rights reserved.

Photo:  Found on worth1000.com via Pinterest

 

How to Know God’s Will for Your Life

Discovering God’s will can truly be one of the most frustrating aspects of the Christian life. As with all things, there are no easy answers or quick solutions. But what I am offering here are some simple steps to get you started. Please leave feedback, ask questions, or share your own experiences in discovering God’s will for your life. The steps below are really about getting the conversation started, not about being THE definitive solution.

Knowing God’s will for your life involves:

Relationship: Relationship with God is essential to every aspect of the Christian life. My son lives in Colorado; I live in Oklahoma. If I hope to enjoy the benefits of close relationship with him, I must make the effort to keep in touch with him.  Prayer and spending time in God’s Word are the avenues to staying close to God.  Prayer is simply talking with Him.  Reading and studying His Word is how we get to know Him–who He is, what’s important to Him, and how to live our lives for Him in Spirit and in Truth.  First and foremost, cherish your relationship with Him; talk to Him; involve Him in every aspect of your life. Then look and listen for His voice. It often comes in the smallest details of your day—but it does come.

Obedience: When I was a kid, if I disobeyed my mom and dad, they didn’t even have to know about it in order for it to affect our relationship. God does know everything you do, even everything you contemplate. Temptation is not disobedience (nor is it sin), but when we do what we know we aren’t supposed to, it impacts our relationship with Him. Walk in humble, respectful obedience to God and He will shower you with His favor!

Submission: This is $10 word that simply means: Not my will, but Yours, O God. When you are praying for God to reveal His will in your life, be prepared to really hear it—even if it is something you may not want to hear. The first time I sensed that God was calling me to be a public speaker, I wanted to run for the hills! But as I submitted to His will, I found that the thing I feared and dreaded was transformed into something that made me feel alive like nothing else I have ever done! His way is best. Submit to Him in all things and His best will become your blessing.

Repentance: This is another $10 word—and one that seems to have gone the way of the dinosaur in our culture!—but it is one that is imperative to our relationship with God. When we sin (which is an archery term for missing the mark), God sees, He understands, and He even sympathizes with our weaknesses…. However, He is a righteous God—in Him there is no darkness, shifting shadow, or sin—and anything that is tainted by sin cannot be allowed in His presence. God made a way for all our sin to be covered; the sacrifice of Jesus’ life and spilled blood on the cross atoned for (paid the penalty for) all our sin. Even so, we are required to repent (turn from) our sin. It’s as simple as recognizing how we’ve missed the mark, turning from it (choosing to do that thing no more), and displaying sorrow or regret to God for our behavior. Again, it’s much like, when you were a kid, getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar before dinner. You drop the cookie back in the jar. Close the lid. Tell your mom how sorry you are for breaking her rules. Then you receive her love and adoration for choosing the right thing. When we turn from our sin in sorrow and out of love for God, He rewards us with close relationship and in turn, we are better able to discern His will for our lives.

Meditation: Meditation is a word borrowed from some in the New Age, but it does not belong to them! Meditation, as a Christian, is about filling your mind (versus emptying it in New Age meditation) with God’s Word or with His attributes. It is about laser focusing on Who He is. And whenever we do so, two things happen: (1) we recognize how BIG and AWESOME He is, and (2) we realize how safe we are in His hand…. When you’re worried about the future, that’s the very best place to land! As you meditate, LISTEN for His voice…. He is always speaking to us; but most of the time the noise of the world and the busyness of our lives drown out His voice. Listen with your heart, not just your mind, and be willing to hear whatever He speaks. (NOTE: He will NEVER speak something to you that is contrary to His Word, the Holy Bible!)

Praise & Worship: Some people will tell you that God wants you to be happy, and that He is willing to forgo His laws in order to make that happen.   Umm, that could not be further from the truth! The truth is that God’s way is the Best Way, the Only Way to achieve fulfillment, peace, purpose, and the promises He has spoken over you. His way is the only way to experience true and lasting joy (versus temporary, hollow happiness). One of the most significant ways we enter into His presence and into His joy is through praising and worshiping Him—full on; no holds barred; without hesitation or reservation—praise Him; worship Him from a grateful, humble, and obedient heart…. Nothing opens the floodgates of His love into your life like this!

Adjusting Your Expectations: Finally, stop waiting for God to drop a sign down in front of your face with a fishing hook and line through it! God rarely gives us that definitive, booming voice or burning bush experience. When He does, it’s awesome! But we need to be ready to hear the still, soft whisper of His voice in our heart or in the minutest details of our day. He is always with you, always working, and always speaking—through nature, through the voice of others, through our circumstances, and through the Bible, His inspired Word. Listen for Him in the still, small moments and continue to do the next thing in faith and trust that He’s got you, and He’s got this.

God does have plans and purposes for your life, and He wants you to experience those plans and purposes fully (Jeremiah 29:11-14). That means He will lead you, guide you, and order your steps every step of the way. He may not (and probably won’t) show you the entire journey all in one fell swoop, but He also will not leave you nor forsake you as you follow Him. The key to it all is keeping your relationship with Him close, making it a priority in your life every day. As you do so, following Him will become as natural as breathing. His Spirit will guide your thoughts, your heart, and your desires in accordance with His will. It is a daily walk—a faith walk. Have faith in His desire and ability to fulfill His promises to you. There are no shortcuts. But it is a journey that will fill your life with wonder, awe, adventure, and hope as you walk it with Him.

Here’s to your joy and success in following Him!
Mary

Copyright Mary Comm 2014. All rights reserved.

Question:  How have you heard God’s voice or discovered His will for your life?