Love is Patient

Several weeks ago, I made a mistake. I got impatient with the way my life was. I got impatient with someone. I wanted more than I was being given and I was exhausted from being in a season of want and wait for years. I word vomited and immediately regretted it. These things happen. However, like all things of this nature, once it was “out there” I could not pull it back. It has been weighing on me ever since.

Have you ever made a mistake and said or written things that you wished you could take back? Have you ever let the ugliest parts of you be seen and it was not received very well and everything seemed irreversibly different since then? Have you ever wished for more, longed for more, dreamed of more, and felt the ache of that longing? Have you ever felt misunderstood or have you ever misunderstood someone else?

Have you ever not loved someone as well as you should?

I have been thinking so much about love lately.


I have a family that can’t seem to love each other longer than a few days.
It feels hopeless.

I have friends who I love with my entire being and who love me back right where I am for exactly who I am.
It is beautiful and precious.

I have a husband who I try to love so very well, but because we live together I
often make mistakes or say things I wish I could take back.
Thankfully, he makes mistakes too and we both try to be intentional about
forgiving each other every single time, no matter what.

I have friends with completely different love languages than me.
It is a struggle to remember that others give and receive love differently than I do
and I fail often to allow them to love me in their own way.

I have people I could love so much better than I do.
Jesus, help me love like you do.


You see….my struggle sometimes is that love is so entirely sacrificial and can, therefore, become so entirely unbalanced by either party. Yet the sacrifice requires a gracious heart that endures the imbalance and loves others anyway.

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A lot of people make a big deal about “boundaries” and “setting expectations” so that they don’t get taken advantage of. I agree with this in part and then disagree with this as well. If someone is being abusive to you, then absolutely you should set up boundaries and distance yourself from them. You are precious and under no circumstances do you deserve to be verbally, emotionally, mentally, sexually, or physically abused.

However, I disagree with setting boundaries just when you don’t get what you feel is owed to you – what you feel you deserve. Grace, love, and mercy are given to you freely without you having to do anything to earn them. You don’t deserve them. You’re not owed them. They’re just yours when you agree to receive them. Christ laid down his life for the people who mocked and scourged him. They rejected him and he gave. Grace is relentless and unwavering.

I LOVE this C.S. Lewis quote that so encapsulates the sacrificially loving and patient heart of God towards us:

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Do you know what 1st Corinthians lists as the 1st attribute of love?? Patience.

Love is patient.

Love waits for people.
Love waits for the reward, even if it will only come after this life has faded away.
Love is gracious and understanding when people don’t love you well.
Love is being patient with yourself when you fail to love people patiently.
Love is beginning each day with a heart that CHOOSES to remain open, humble, loving, and hopeful.
Love doesn’t give up on people just because they’re not meeting your expectations.
Love isn’t demanding.

So today, I will choose to be patient with others and with myself.
I will pray to become more patient. More gracious. More understanding of others. More willing to wait.

I will wait in hopeful expectation for deeper intimate friendships, for family peace, for the child I long to hold in my arms, for the day when I will see my Granny once again, and for the coming of the One who can settle all the turmoil and chaos of longing in my heart with just one glance of His eye. I will choose to love despite my shortcomings and despite the shortcomings of others. I will not lose heart even though that would be so very easy to do. I will not waver in my faith even though the circumstances around me mock me with their unmet expectations.

I will try my best, despite my failings, to love patiently through His strength as He enables me to give this gracious, patient love to others even when I feel depleted and empty. I will give all of me and He alone will fill me.

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New Beginnings

The last post I wrote was about saying goodbye to something I was comfortable and familiar with. It took me a while to even want to update because aside from some extraordinary vacation trips, I just didn’t feel like on a deeper level I had anything I wanted to say. You readers who have been keeping up with me on this blog know where I’ve been for the past 3+ years with feeling like I was in limbo. Longing for a change. Longing to feel inspired. Longing to be a mother and have some direction for my life. So when things feel the same as they did months ago…. what is there to update? As it turns out…. “nothing” is the answer.

Well now things have changed! No, I am still not pregnant and I am tackling that particular longing and heartache one day at a time… But things have definitely changed for the better and – although I didn’t know it at the time – it all began to change when I decided to leave my last job at Park University.

The problem never was my job in particular or my infertility or the fact that I felt like I was waiting for my life to begin. All of those things were certainly bothering me, but the real problem underlying all of it was my environment – the atmosphere around me – was significantly affecting my perspective about my life and about my identity. The day I chose to leave Park and open myself up to whatever God had for me was incredibly scary. I second guessed it, cried the whole drive home the day I turned in my leave form, and had to find a quiet place to just sit and breathe for a while as I came to terms with the bold move I had just made. Fast forward to me finishing my time there and having my last day and saying my goodbyes…. I drove away from Park’s campus and all I could feel was refreshing, wonderful peace. It LITERALLY washed over me. I know people say that as a metaphor all the time to imply that peace came upon them suddenly, but I literally felt the tension, the stress, and the unnamed negativity leave my body and my mind starting at the top of my head and all the way down to my toes. Peace WASHED over me like a gentle, but constant waterfall and I knew that whatever was coming next was going to be good.

Now it is nearly 3 months later and I am in my 5th day of work in my new job at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

 

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Getting this job was a lengthy process, but I felt God’s hand of reassurance on me the entire way. When other jobs I had applied for didn’t work out, I didn’t stress because I just felt like I was going to get THIS job and I was right! I can’t express enough how entirely and wonderfully different this job is compared to my last one and the difference that has made on my personal life and identity as well. It took me less than a few hours in my 1st day at Park University to realize that there were office bullies, lots of drama, lots of gossip, and only a handful of people you could trust. It’s been 5 days now at the FRB and I am amazed at the positive energy and connectedness around me. People don’t just like each other – they trust each other. They help each other and value each other. They joke with each other and laugh together and encourage each other to shine.

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The result is that I feel part of something bigger and more important than myself. At Park, it was a constant effort to just manage the difficult people and failing policies around you. It was a reactive effort that took a ton of energy and yielded very little results. I felt like I had some coworkers who appreciated me and my managers certainly did…. but Park as a whole neglects it’s talent and fosters a negative culture within it’s departments.
My new job at the FRB couldn’t be any more different. It is dynamic and moving forward. I am a vital and appreciated piece within a strong working culture. Aside from being compensated fairly for what I bring to the table (also a new feeling!), I am amazed at how many little things the FRB does that reflect this overarching message to every employee: you are important to us and the mission.

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(Seriously, if you can get a job at any Reserve Bank, you should!)

You see….

I may not get pregnant for a long time.
I may not ever get pregnant actually.
I may or may not end up going to grad school, at least not anytime soon.
I may not get everything I hope and dream for or think I at least deserve….

But while I am waiting….while I am trusting God with His timing for the plans and purposes of my life…. while I am full of longing…. while I am just filling the passing days with productivity… while I am finding purpose in other things….

I am feeling a lot better about this waiting process and God’s timing now that I am able to move and work with purpose and value.
Now that I am working for a company that appreciates each member of it’s staff for their role within the team.

Only God could have ordained such an extraordinary and gracious transition in my life so quickly.
He is good.

Current Thoughts

It has once again been a while since I last wrote.
This time I cannot blame my blogging absence on the past 6 weeks of massive amounts of overtime at work.
I haven’t written because I haven’t really had that much to say that I haven’t already said so many times.

I think I got used to life changing so much. Whether it be the moves between cities after Chad and I got married or the changes occurring between each new school semester, life had an ebb and flow to it so that I got used to the fluctuations.

Now my life feels like a big run on sentence that needs a lot more commas and eventually needs to end so a new sentence can begin. Instead of the ebbs and flows of my previous life, my life is in a stagnant holding pattern. I feel like that cramped passenger on a huge plane full of sweaty bodies and humid air just waiting for the go ahead to take off, but instead you’ve been just sitting on the runway for over 45 minutes and no one has explained WHY.

I did take a few vacations and we even had some family come visit us, but these are brief respites from the norm. Not that I don’t love my life. I do! Being married to Chad is wonderful and our friends are absolutely the best! It is just that I only see my friends here and there throughout a given week and I only see Chad for a few hours each night and then weekends. The rest of the time I am here. At work. A job I am thankful for, but not the job I was made for. Not the job that challenges me. Not the job that allows me to feel fulfilled in the passions and gifting God has given me. For a job like that, I need to start and finish grad school. For grad school I need us to be more financially stable and I need to have an idea on when I will actually start grad school.

Forgive me for just rambling and complaining, but these are the thoughts and the feelings that course through me every single day. I need a change. I need to feel like the future holds more than my gray cubicle and paying bills. I need to feel like the best moments and the happiest times can occur outside of taking a vacation/sick day. This job is serving it’s purpose for now and I am finding the common graces of God in places unexpected as I search for ways to give back and find meaning.

But really.
For now.

I am waiting.

Waiting sucks.

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HA!! —–>    drugs-alexoloughlin

The Answer to Why: When We Cannot See Clearly

One of my absolute favorite moments in the entire Chronicles of Narnia series is found in the book “The Horse and His Boy.” The voice of Aslan is having a conversation with Shasta about who He is and some circumstances that had transpired:

“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.
“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.
“There was only one lion,” said the Voice.
“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two the first night, and-“
“There was only one: but he was swift of foot.”
“How do you know?”
“I was the lion.”
And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”

“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”
“It was I”
“But what for?”
“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

It may seem strange that this is one of my favorite moments in the series, but it so beautifully captures the multi-faceted nature of God and how little our understanding is of the bigger picture of our lives. God is the God who binds and heals and we love that side of God. Yet, on the other side of the coin, God is the God who wounds and “tears to pieces” so that He may heal us. Not just the God who “allows bad things” but a fierce and passionate God who actually wounds us in order than He may heal us to become more like Him.

Oh, how I am learning this right now!

I don’t know about you, but when you’re going through the very middle of a hard time all you can think about is your pain and start grasping at ways to make it stop. Did I do something to bring this on myself? Is this a punishment? Why is this happening to me? What sequential steps should I take to make it stop? How long will this pain last? 

It is easy to lose hope when the circumstances of your life seem to become a perfect storm that threatens to drown you forever. I am convinced that the absolute hardest thing to do is to face your difficult circumstances head on with a heart that is aching from exhaustion and tears streaming down your face and remember that God is good.

We don’t know why life can get so painful for us sometimes and not ever seem that way for others, but this is your story – not someone else’s. Whether you’ve always struggled with things people seem to manage so easily, or whether you have always struggled financially no matter how hard you’ve tried, or whether you’ve been single for so long and feel so lonely when you’re a great catch who just wants someone to share life with, or whether you suffer from a physical sickness and don’t feel like you did anything to deserve it, or whether you’ve unexpectedly lost a loved one and losing them seemed and felt so utterly pointless, or whether – like me – you long for a child of your own when it seems like every drunken teenager and drug addict you encounter is getting pregnant these days. But there is a bigger picture. You don’t know someone else’s story and neither do I.

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as God sees us, knowing him directly just as He knows us!” – 1 Corinthians 13:12, The Message

Isn’t that the ultimate prize? More than the financially stability we wish for, more than the spouse we long for, more than the baby we ache for – to know God and have a deeper, more committed personal relationship with Him is the answer to everything we’re searching for and the ultimate goal of this life. This life and all it’s blessings are temporary and just a shadow of the One who made us and calls us to know Him.

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I spoke recently in Florida with a friend who said that looking back she was grateful for their struggle with infertility. She said she never would have even pictured herself saying such a thing when she was going through it. She always just wished it away and yearned for a pregnancy/baby to take away her sorrow and struggle. Yet, during that time, she explained that she grew closer to God than she ever was before. Her struggle with infertility deepened her faith and has become part of her testimony. Now that she has come through it and is out on the other side, she said she wouldn’t go back and change anything because knowing God and trusting Him more was worth every tear, every dark night of the soul, and every disappointed hope.

I’ve never heard something more beautiful and more encouraging.

In contrast, the countless people who have told me to just “Stay positive,” “Don’t stress,” or “Believe you’re healed and you will be” – that advice, although laced with good intentions, fell short of doing anything more than isolating me further. How can you paste on a smile while you’re choking down tears? Is that even normal? How do you not stress when every single deviation from normal in your body makes you wonder if you’re pregnant? And despite my unwavering and solid faith that God is The Healer, it doesn’t mean that 24 cycles of wishing and hoping with no resulting pregnancy have simply been a result of me just. not. believing. enough. That’s ridiculous.

How much more beautiful is it to simply respond to God from the reality of exactly where we are…. our anger, our pain, our bitterness, our weeping, and my poly-cystic ridden, hormonally-jacked-up body that betrays my greatest longing every single month. The invitation to cry out to God in our pain and confusion, confess our despair and faltering faith, and beg for peace and a greater faith despite circumstances is what drives us closer to Him and brings Him the most glory.

We only have our story to live and we won’t always understand it or know the answers to our biggest question: “WHY?!” – but God is still good. He sees the bigger picture and invites us to wait, to hope, and to trust.

It’s Gonna Be Worth It

Less than 2 weeks ago I watched my brother commit himself to love his new beautiful bride, Anne, as long as they both should live. Both of them are in their late twenties and had been waiting so very, very long for the right person to come along.

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This picture just makes me want to cry all over again (I cried all the way through the ceremony as soon as my brother began crying). It is such a picture of the overwhelming joy and wonder of  God’s faithfulness:

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This next picture I am sharing just to emphasize how incredible their photographer was at capturing the beautiful and intense moments throughout the whole day. Here the bride is crying because her parents (who are in Europe and were denied visa into the country in order to attend the wedding) are praying over her and Matt via Skype:

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It was a breathtakingly beautiful ceremony and a really fun reception!

It is amazing to me every time I see such an obviously ordained story play out right before my eyes. They were made for each other. They are God’s very best for each other. I know they would agree that waiting was more than worth it.

It made me remember those times of waiting. I was about to turn 24 when I had all but given up on ever finding someone. Most of my friends were either married or at least in committed, serious relationships. I felt like I was being left out – on the fringes of happiness just waiting for life to begin.

I often felt like this:

I had no idea that I would meet my future husband that year in the most unexpected of ways. I just felt lost and lonely and forgotten about by a God who said He knew the plans and purposes for my life, but I couldn’t see them. It wasn’t until I resigned myself to be content with being single the rest of my life if that is what God had in store for me that Chad finally came along. A simple act of choosing to trust that God is good and that He had His hand on my life – even in the midst of hurting. Chad was worth every restless, lonely night I spent wishing it could be my turn to experience being in love. He was worth the wait.

Fast forward six years and I have once again come back to this same lesson of trusting God with His timing when I can’t see my future. Why do we so easily forget the faithfulness of God?

If God was with me then (even when I didn’t know it) isn’t He with me still? He orchestrates my life, not me. He isn’t moved by my worry or my fears, but by His perfect timing. So why am I sitting here wondering why all my friends are pregnant or have 2-4 babies at home, while I remain childless waiting for my life to start? Why am I so quick to focus on my lack and fail to remember all the times God brought me exactly what I needed at the exact point in time I needed it – not earlier and not a minute too late.

I think pain makes us desperate and irrational. Like a toddler who can’t fully yet understand the scope of reality and how the world is working around him, we grow fearful and anxious and we grasp for assurance. It is immensely hard to be single and alone and wondering if you will ever find your true love. It is equally hard (although for me probably even harder) to wonder if I will ever be a mother and to feel that precious hope slipping away. Instead of remembering the reality of God’s faithfulness and trusting that He is God and that that is assurance enough, don’t we all have a tendency to grow restless and fearful?

But here’s the best part:

In these moments, God isn’t impatient with us. God isn’t that parent that is like, “Well if you’re going to be like that, you’re not getting anything!!

God understands our frailty; He knows he are human.

God instead is the gentle parent who kneels down, looks directly in our eyes, brushes our hair away from our tear-streaked faces, and whispers reassuringly, “I know you don’t understand right now and you won’t be able to, but I promise that I know what is the very best for you. You can trust me because I love you so much more than you can even comprehend.”

And just like that, when we allow ourselves those quiet moments with Him, we can feel our souls take a deep breath. We can feel the weight of fear lift and our eyes fix themselves on that which we cannot see – because what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal. We begin to feel hope restored and we rest in the peace that He is God, He is orchestrating everything, and we will see His faithfulness once again if we just trust and wait…