When Life Doesn’t Turn Out Like You Hoped It Would

You could feel a dark cloud hanging heavy over the room as the young woman with the long, brown hair began to share her heartbreak.

She cried as she spoke of the pressures of her husband’s job and how she was now second-guessing their decision to move to a new city away from the comfort of the community they had known.

Another woman told her story of having to be apart from her husband for 22 months when he was forced to take a job in another part of the state. At the time, she had just found out she was pregnant and had to remain in her job for the insurance benefits. He missed the birth of their first child as a result.

Photo and Verse

Around that circle of strangers, tears flowed. And so did words like bitterness and anger, with heads nodding in empathetic agreement.  Because we all know that life is hard, and there is no shame in admitting that. Jesus himself is described by the prophet Isaiah as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isa. 53:3)

But we also acknowledged that our faith is in God and not circumstances. That there is still hope, even when life doesn’t turn out the way we hoped it would.

So we prayed. And as we bowed our heads and carried each others burdens to the cross, it reminded me of how important it is for us to gather together and share our journey with other believers. We need that connection and encouragement.

Because it’s easier to hold on to hope when we hold on to each other.

And when I looked up, the world seemed new. All those smiling faces in a circle of light, shining like the sun on a cloudless summer day.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25

 

The Forgotten Command

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12

The scripture above is in the same passage where Jesus refers to us as branches.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Jesus’ command for us to love one another and how this particular scripture could be overlooked or altogether forgotten by so many in the church.

I admit it can be extremely difficult. And this picture helped me realize why. It is a photo I casually took about a month ago while trying to capture a bird that got away just before the click of the camera. Oh well…

On further observation I noticed how the branches are so closely intertwined. And, if I equate these branches with the Christian community, I see how such close proximity can be uncomfortable. When you’re woven together like this, it’s hard to hide your true self. Hearts are exposed and emotions are raw.

But the photo also reminds me how Christians are supposed to live. Happily connected and united in a common purpose.

We should be helping hold each other up instead of cutting each other down.

Jesus knew he was giving us a command we could not obey in our flesh. That is why he tells us to remain in him, to draw from his strength. Because, we can do nothing apart from his grace working in and through us.

Dear Lord, please help us to remember that loving one another is not an optional part of our Christian journey. Grant us the grace to love “as you have loved us.”

How Real Is Real?

I’m fairly new to High Calling Blogs but when I read about the You Are Real Community Writing Project, I was eager to add my voice to the topic of how real online relationships can be in our lives.
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In contemplating the subject, my first reaction was to ask the question, “How real is real?”

I’m learning that some folks believe there to be merit only in the everyday, flesh and blood relationships. But, if eyeball-to-eyeball conversations are the only ones that matter, does that mean the emails and phone calls I exchange with the good friends I had to leave when we moved out of state are of no value?

What about my relationship with the God I’ve never seen in the flesh? Is He any less real than my neighbor next door who I see on a regular basis?

Though I have yet to meet any of my fellow bloggers (yet), I feel they are just as real as any other acquaintance of mine. As a matter of fact, it occurs to me that an online friend can often be more authentic because there are no pretenses or peripheral distractions to diminish the exchange of honest communication.

So many times our contact with “real life” people is hurried and guarded and shallow. Not always, but it happens doesn’t it?

I don’t deny that I need to make every effort to cultivate the flesh and blood relationships in my life, but I also want to acknowledge the importance of the invisible ones.

These unseen people – they have real names, real families, real lives.

They tap at their keyboards, taking time to type true words. Words that reflect real thoughts from a real heart to other real, yet invisible, people who share community through computer screens.

I think the challenge for all of us is to try our best to offer our sincere and genuine selves to every relationship we have, whether offline or online.

It starts by taking a good, long look in the mirror and asking ourselves, “How real is real?”