Sunday, March 24, 2013

Learning to Trust

How many times have we put our trust in another person only to be disappointed? As kids, maybe we trusted a parent to be on time to pick us up and they were repeatedly late. As we got older and made friends, we might have had a friend who we shared private secrets with only to regret that decision later when we discovered they had shared our confidences with another. Or, maybe it’s our mate who we learned wasn’t as committed to their vows as we were. And what parent of a teenager hasn’t struggled with issues of trust as their child tested the waters.  

If you’ve been repeatedly disappointed by others, you can easily become bitter. Possibly you’ve been hurt so much you’ve hardened your heart to allowing others inside, careful not to let yourself get entangled again with another who just might hurt you.
Sometimes, we forget that we, too, have disappointed others. For some reason we can easily explain or brush off our own failures, expecting others to be understanding and okay when we don’t come through. Yet, we aren’t always so quick to accept the explanations given to us by others.

But here’s the thing:  No one keeps their word one hundred percent of the time, including you. We might plan on it and truly mean to, but unforeseen things happen in life that can thwart the best laid plans. For instance, we can’t control the weather, illness, or job loss, all of which can cause us to not be able to keep our word.

How can we avoid becoming bitter and hard-hearted when others let us down? It’s really very simple, if we are a child of God—we put our faith and trust in Jesus. If we are a born again Christian we have direct access to the Lord—a covenant relationship where, out of our love for God and through our relationship with His Son, He guides our steps. When others disappoint us (and they will), if we immediately turn to God and share it with Him, He promises to be there for us.

It is a habit that becomes easier over time, putting our trust in God, but when we do we are immediately blessed with His peace that passes understanding. Just as in Bible times, when Jesus came through, time and time again, He will do so for us, too, in His way and in His timing. Never will He leave us or forsake us. Jesus is a true friend, who sticks closer than a brother. We can trust Him…no matter what.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Love Others Unconditionally

It was almost ten years ago when our nest became officially empty. It was a depressing time in our marriage. As the weeks passed, my husband and I both became more sad and moody.

I knew I needed help out of this slump, so I made an appointment to see a pastor. Unsure of what he would recommend, I was shocked when I heard him say, “You need to love your husband unconditionally.”

But, what about me?

The pastor continued, “Love him the way YOU want to be loved—with no strings attached.”

That was it, three simple words that changed the course of our marriage: “Love him unconditionally.”

Not long after that visit with a pastor, I listened to a radio program about marriage. The advice given to the wife seared my soul: “If you want to be treated like a queen, you need to treat your man like a king.”

I had been treating my man like a pauper. I’d been pouting over not being needed as a mother on a daily basis anymore (something, at times, I would have loved to have resigned from just a few short years ago). I was feeling stuck in time, focusing on the past, instead of embracing how we finally had our lives back.

What can I do to make this next chapter of our lives anything but boring? How can I help to get us out of this rut?

The more I sought the Lord, the more amazed I was at the answers. First, I began my mornings reading about God’s love for us, and how He wants us to love others. I saturated my mind and heart with scripture verses pertaining to the theme of love. Then, I purposely began hugging my husband more. Judging by his shocked reaction, I painfully realized just how far apart we had grown. I began listening to him more intently, and amazingly he reciprocated, asking me sincerely about my day. The more things I did to please him, such as preparing his favorite foods and renting his favorite movies, the more he voluntarily helped with housework and asked me what he could do for me. I even watched some of his favorite shows with him instead of staying on the computer in the evenings, and he began handing me the remote, willing to watch shows I was interested in, too.

Gradually, our marriage became better than ever—a spark had been rekindled. We excitedly talked about the future, planning local day trips and anniversary vacations. We had a blast doing what we wanted, when we wanted.

That old principle once again held true: when we show love to another, especially when we don’t want to, our feelings will catch up. When we love those that seem hard to love, we are actually teaching them to love us back. It’s a mystery, how God works behind the scenes and changes hearts, but I’m grateful He does.

The bottom line is: God doesn’t give up on us when we’re unlovable, and He doesn’t want us giving up on others, either.

Our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father loves us. Through His loving-favor He gives us comfort and hope that lasts forever. May He give your hearts comfort and strength to say and do every good thing (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).

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