Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Unfrozen

I got quite a response from my last post, so I decided to write a follow-up. If you haven't read it yet, you might want to go back and read the post "Forgiven and Free."

I was talking with a friend this past Friday during a play date and she mentioned how much she could resonate with what I wrote in my post and how hard it can be to see the good amid the bad. She was so right. It is easy for me to get caught up in how I get hurt and in the fear of being hurt, that I shut myself off from the good as well as the bad. I don't call the people that are important. I don't work to develop my good friends. And I'm sorry. I'm sorry to the good people for my inability to connect and be there for you -- for not calling, setting up times to get together, putting myself out there. I have cocooned myself from the world and I am wrong.

I have been trapped by my fear and it has kept me from love. I feel like Elsa at the end of Frozen where she learns that love can thaw a frozen heart. I think the movie should of had a reprise of "Let It Go" at the end. The original "Let It Go" is about not caring what people think and being who she truly is. But there should be a reprise when she realizes that it is actually her fear that has kept her captive -- not what people think. "Let it go, let it go. I don't have to live in fear any more. Let it go, let it go. Love can open the door..." Elsa learns at the end that "love drives out fear."

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18, NIV

Huh, who knew that a Disney movie could be biblical? ;) But, of course, the passage continues:

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother or sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4:19-20, NIV

As I mentioned in my last post, I love because Christ first loved me. I love because that is what God has called me to do. I love through the help of Christ.

My friend from last Friday is one of the good ones. I'm so glad we got the chance to hang out. In fact, God has given me numerous times to love others and feel loved since writing that post. I pray that I will continue to "let it go" and learn to love.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Forgiven and Free

I've come to the revelation that I don't love people (other than my family, which I love fiercely). I'm not trying to be funny and I'm not being mean. I care for people and I genuinely show love and care, but deep down in my sinful, deprived soul, I don't truly love people. Let me explain...

I've been hurt a lot by friendships. Numerous times I have let my guard down and tried to be real, just to have those people walk away from me for no reason. So I've put up walls and guarded my heart. I'll share only what is safe, but I struggle to be vulnerable and real. Years ago I went to counseling to help me with being more vulnerable (and my perfectionist nature). I grew a lot and after about a year, I connected with my future husband and allowed my walls to come down. I praise the Lord for him and allowing me to be real. My husband is a gift from God, but I still struggle with my female friendships.

Guy friendships always seem to be easier to me. Maybe it was the ability to talk sports or theology...or maybe it's the lack of drama ;), but I have always enjoyed my male friendships. Of course, as a married woman, I can't have those types of relationships that I did in college, etc. and I'm okay with it. The problem is that I have such a tough time with female relationships.

A few years ago, I volunteered as a Bible Study leader for our Women's Bible Study at church. At our first leadership meeting, I remember someone saying, "you are all here because you have a heart for women." I felt my heart sink and I started shifting in my seat. Why? Because I don't have a heart for women. When I hear about women's groups, etc. I often want to roll my eyes and run far away. I don't want the drama. I don't want people to know what's going on in my life. I don't want to feel judged. I don't want to be hurt again.

You see, I don't love people because of the fear in my heart -- the fear that I will just get hurt if I let people too close. I let my guard down when my daughter was a baby with someone who had a child around the same age and let her guard down with me. I allowed myself to be vulnerable and we developed a good friendship. One day, she confessed how she had judged me, but I let it go. Our kids played together all the time, but then slowly, she stopped getting our kids together and started avoiding me. I don't know what happened and it has broken me again. When I see her, I smile and talk as if it's no big deal, but inside I am completely crushed.

I've found my walls coming up again. Yes, I have friends and people I care about, but I'm afraid to let my guard down with a friendship again. I'm afraid of being rejected. You see, the women who have walked away from our friendships have never told me why. There was never a fight or argument. They just suddenly excused themselves from me. I've come to believe that it must be me -- my personality, things I've said, my sinful nature, etc.

It's easy for me and my introvert nature to just not care anymore. To keep to myself and share only what I feel won't get me hurt. To keep friendships superficial and not really go any deeper or put myself out there. But that's not who God created me to be.

God calls us to love people. Jesus loved those who would beat him, curse him, and crucify him. Jesus loved those who were outcasts and needy, like me. Jesus loves me even when I don't spend time with him or try to live life without him. I've treated my relationship with Jesus the same way those women treated their friendship with me. But Jesus still loves me. He truly, deeply, unconditionally loves me and forgives me. He doesn't hold my actions against me. With all he has done for me, how can I not love the people he loves and has called me to love?

I don't expect this to be an easy or painless effort, but I want to love people the way God has called me to. I want to learn to forgive and to be real. I want to be free of the anger and hurt and bitterness that I hold onto to shield me from the attacks of others. I want to be able to trust again. Honestly, the thought terrifies me and I'm not sure where to start...

Father God, forgive me for not loving others as you love me. Forgive me for allowing my hurts and pain to matter more that the people you care for. You loved me enough to die for me on the cross, even while knowing I would hurt you and betray you. Help me to love. Help me to forgive. Help me to be free.

I love these words from "How Can It Be" by Lauren Daigle:

I've been hiding
Afraid I've let you down, inside I doubt
That You could love me
But in Your eyes there's only grace now.

You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be

Though I fall, You can make me new
From this death I will rise with You
Oh the grace reaching out for me
How can it be
How can it be