A Sunday Morning Scripture

Psalm 73:24-26      New King James Version (NKJV)

24 You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.

26 My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

This has been one my anchor scriptures for many years. It comforts those like me who have to be intentional about not worrying, especially about making the right choices in life. When we feel alone or overwhelmed by this world, God is our guide, our companion, and our strength when we are weak.

He is also our portion. Merriam Webster defines portion as

          1:  an individual’s part or share of something: as

             a :  a share received by gift or inheritance
             b :  dowry
             c :  enough food especially of one kind to serve one person at one meal

 God Himself is my inheritance; He is my sustenance; He is enough. (And, come to think of it, He was what I brought into my marriage as well. Ha!)

Do you have an anchor scripture? I’d love for you to share it with me!

 

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A New Way to Listen

A few weeks back I wrote about one of my anchors, my best friend, and how she helped me learn to communicate. See my earlier posts “The Anchor” and “Ms. Streisand was Right” for more details. Now I want to say a little something about another key relationship in my life- the one I have with my husband. This will be the first of many posts about him, I’m sure.

Before I got married, I figured I had developed into a pretty great communicator. I was like, “I’m sweet! I got this!” But a few weeks in I was like, “Wait a minute! Men are different! Communicating with them is hard! We fight more!” So I had to reassess and learn to share my side of things in a way that didn’t damage the relationship.

More importantly, I had to learn to listen to him. At first, when he would tell me that I had hurt his feelings, I would freak out, get defensive, take excessive blame. I would shut down and stop talking. Further down the line I realized that the only emotion I associated with men was anger, and I couldn’t deal with him expressing any of the others. I had to learn to face his disappointment, sadness, and insecurity head on, eyes open, and try to understand without judgment.

The first few times it was hard not to feel like my world was coming unmoored. I wanted him to always be strong, to always be the rock and allow me to be the emotional one. Our relationship got a whole lot better, however, when I just let him be vulnerable. Vulnerability can be excruciating, right? Seeing it in others and showing it in yourself- both are hard.

I guess what I’m saying is that from my bestie I learned to talk, but from my husband I have learned a new way to listen. I think I have more compassion for people because of it. I know all you great communicators out there are going, “Hello, obvious!” I’m just sayin’, some people like me just don’t get it right away. Slowly but surely, it’s getting easier to give myself  and my spouse permission to be vulnerable. Work in progress, of course. Always.

Ms. Streisand was Right

At the end of my blog last week I wrote about finding a true anchor for the soul. Today I want to give a shout out to one of my anchors- my best friend. I’m going to cheat and include most of an old post from my previous blog- I wrote this ode to her over two years ago to make up for forgetting her birthday (I still cringe when I think of it). I corrected a few mistakes, but otherwise this is it!

           Will any one out there admit to liking that classic Barbra Streisand song, “People”? I will! My mom used to sing it a lot… “People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.” It’s actually a profound statement.        

                                                                        
There came a time in my life where I realized I wanted- and needed- friends. I was in college. I had superficial relationships with people that I didn’t have much in common with, and I knew there had to be more. I had heard about and seen best friends interact, but hadn’t experienced it for myself (I am not counting the grade school/middle school best friends who made me sign a contract stating that I was in fact their best friend). So I started praying… and praying… and praying. “Lord, I would really like to have a best friend, someone I can really count on and trust; a kindred spirit, someone who gets me and accepts me for who I am…” Something like that anyway. Several years later, after I left California and moved to Ohio, I found a church. And that church had a basketball team with some cute guys on it. One day I went to a game and finally met my best friend.

I wish I could remember all the ins and outs, all the events that created our relationship. Our first time hanging out was at Don Pablos, I do remember that! Since then we have had many fun moments centered around food. Once we ate ourselves into severe stomach pain at P.F. Changs, and I can’t count the late night trips to Dairy Queen and Coldstone Creamery. We had a love affair with food alright. We shared a love of food, and now we share a commitment to eat right and stay healthy.

I remember this one church service where everyone was running around while the band played classic “shoutin'” music; she said she felt the Lord told her to change direction and she did- and ran smack into me! We went flying to the floor, laughing hysterically: we always did have a spiritual connection (ha!). Once we decided to fast TV together for a month; since then, we have tried to push each other and encourage each other in the things of God.

Then there was our missions trip to Jamaica- we sat in our hotel room during a hurricane and wrote about the kind of spouses we want. And so many other memories- talking every day the summer she went to Alabama and I had just lost my fiance; me forcing her to ride the Maverick at Cedar Point (even though she cried); throwing all those great parties for each other and our friends; her gently and persistently telling me that a certain guy was wrong for me even though I didn’t want to hear it… I needed her then, and I still do. And not just for the food and the fun and the talking, but because she tells me truth. Because she pushes me to be a better person.

Have you noticed that there are not a lot of people out there who know how to be a good friend? Have you noticed that most people tend to take rather than give? They talk mostly about themselves, and they get uncomfortable and disappear when things get rough for you. But my BFF- she listens. She gives. She cares. She’s there. As Barbra sang so beautifully, we all need people- people like my friend.
If you have a person like this in your life- celebrate them, take care of that relationship, and thank God always for His gift.

As I read this and reflect on our friendship, what I want to add is that through this relationship I learned to communicate. In our years of living together, she helped me learn the importance of the daily recap- just sharing about my day in order to decompress. And then when we disagreed, or I was having a bad day, I had to learn to open up and share my emotions. This was so uncomfortable for me at first that I would literally have a physical reaction when I was trying to get myself to talk- butterflies in stomach, heart palpitations- but it got much easier.

In the past I put a lot of effort into spending one-on-one time with people, doing a lot of listening. I thought being a good listener was the key ingredient to a good friendship. Something major was missing, however. What I didn’t do was share my feelings. I didn’t show any vulnerability or weaknesses. I never needed my friends. There is one instance I remember where I changed my M.O. There was a point in my relationship with my Bestie when I felt that I was putting more effort into planning our hang out times than she was. I’m a natural planner, so I would choose restaurants, movie times, etc. That’s how I show love. It’s not a bad thing that she shows love differently, but I was hurting and feeling like she didn’t care. My default would have been to stuff the emotions down inside, let resentment fester, and maybe have one of those internal conversations I wrote about last week, but I worked up the courage to tell her. She received it well and promised to do more. Some days or weeks later she placed a note on my bed inviting me to dinner and a movie (with date and times preselected!). What a gal! She didn’t try to change who she is, but she made a gesture, and through talking about it, we gained a greater understanding of each other. Does this sound super goofy to you? It might, especially if you’re a guy, but it meant something (a whole lot) to me.

So when I look back on this post I think the key word is need. You have to show those you love that you need them- you need them to listen, give their time and affection, or do something differently. I have tried to apply this to my other relationships and it has helped. Besides, how can you get encouragement and strength and prayer from the people in your life if they don’t know you need it?

The Anchor

I’ve been thinking about anchors lately- ever since my dad spoke to me one day about people needing an anchor for their souls. Sometimes a family member is hurting badly and there’s nothing you can do.  Sometimes your spouse just doesn’t get you. Sometimes there isn’t enough money. Sometimes you are simply overwhelmed by all the evil in this world. What do you hold on to when life gets stormy? That’s your anchor.

When confronted with unpleasant thoughts and emotions or life’s unhappy circumstances, I’ve tended to cling to a certain anchor that makes me feel good temporarily but in the end leaves me tossing out of control on the waves. I’m talking about fantasy. I’m an only child, and yes, I did have imaginary friends, and no, I’m not telling you anymore about it so don’t ask. But seriously, long after I’d stopped talking with my imaginary friends, I spent a lot of time and mental energy creating worlds in my head that I felt were better than the real one. My beloved books and movies, which I devoured constantly, filled my head with all sorts of ideas. I imagined I was a princess, misunderstood and unheralded, until a perfect prince came along and fell in love with me…

Now that I’m older, I fantasize a lot about food (fast food, ice cream, Hostess products) which I just know will make me happy. I think about that bacon cheeseburger I’m going to reward myself with. But even more than food, I fantasize about all those interactions with people that should have gone better. I have long, involved conversations in my mind. I imagine detailed scenes in which I do and say what I should have done and said in real life. In these conversations I am eloquent yet often scathing- to others and to myself. I relish the initial feeling of justification, but I end up more anxious than before.

The more I escape into my head, the more impatient I become with others. Rather than deal with people or messy emotions, my default is to get a Dairy Queen Blizzard and dive into The Lord of the Rings. There is a lack of peace and a feeling of emptiness when I use food or fantasy or books to run away from events or people or myself. Now don’t get me wrong- these things are not always bad in and of themselves; they just don’t make very good anchors.

What I need, what we all need, is a true anchor for our souls, one that won’t leave us dissatisfied in the end. If you’ve ever been to Sunday school or listened to some sermons, you might have heard that the vertical and horizontal pieces of the cross represent God and man respectively. I think it is very fitting that an anchor is basically shaped like a cross. Did you ever notice that? I only did when I started writing this post and was thinking about including an image of an anchor. : )

anchor

I’ve found that my relationships with God and people (a few in particular) are a true anchor for me. More on this later…