The Unexpected of Chapter 3 (Enjoy)

Well, well… Chapter 3… Trillia Newbell tackles what can be a tough and awkward topic.

Chapter 3 is all about intimacy in our marriages, and if you are a fan of Authentic Intimacy … chapter 3 is a worthy read (Hannah Nitz ). Lord knows I have a heart for that ministry, because of my own failures. I am a tough cookie to crack, with some baggage.

(Also, single ladies… there are some pages in there for you too!)

What I didn’t expect were some of the nuggets from Chapter 3 that made me think of other areas and relationships. Yes, sexual intimacy is a marital… but intimacy is not exclusive to our marriages. We have other people in our lives that intimacy is a good thing (best friends), is a place of safety (parents), and our relationship with God is very personal and should be rooted in complete intimacy (we can hide nothing from Him).

So, a big thing that struck me from the chapter was when Trillia explained that bitterness in it’s simplest form is unforgiveness. Just a bit ago, I was a guest contributor for Virtuous Bella talking about wounds that are bound up so tight they begin to fester. So, perhaps that is why this caught my attention.

I started reflecting on my notes from the chapter, on the evidences of bitterness. I began to think of conflicts I have been involved in. I’ve thought about how people have responded to me, and even how I responded to others.

I think we’ve all been guilty of bitterness now and again. However, some of us have allowed the wounds of past hurts to created roots of bitterness that have grown deep. Too deep. Where these bitter roots of past relationships have begun to strangle out the healthy relationships that fall in their pathway. Skewing how we perceive people coming into our lives, always as a threat or at least someone to be suspicious of.

When our perspective is skewed, we see a threat that doesn’t exist. We take things personally, that were never meant to hurt us. We are so bent on self preservation that we become incapable of seeing those who God has brought into our lives to try cut back those roots. Instead we just let them grow deeper and continue to stretch further.

Let me share with you a great thing about the book, Enjoy, that I think is such a blessing. At the end of each chapter, Trillia challenges us with: The Enjoy Project. It is a list of tasks/suggestions that are based on the chapters theme, ideas to help us enjoy our lives and relationships more.

These project ideas are great ways to cut back those roots of bitterness.

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Saving the Saved

savingthesaved
I received Saving the Saved by Bryan Loritts for the purpose of reviewing, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

A couple of years ago, I lamented to a friend that I was a terrible evangelist.  She looked a little surprised, because in all of our encounters I didn’t exactly shy away from talking about the gospel.  She asked me to clarify my statement.  I confessed that I was fine talking about God in certain environments and situations, but heading out in to the unknown and sharing it with strangers was very hard for me.  I was broken over it, feeling like I was not fulfilling The Great Commission very well.

As we continued to talk, and I was admittedly sobbing at this point, I had come to a conclusion about myself. I realized that I had a heart for the lukewarm believer, the people who should know better but don’t.  The big things that mattered to me, were topics like bible literacy and strong prayer lives.  I was undone by what people didn’t know because they didn’t take time to read the scriptures, or when scripture was being twisted to fit agenda.

It was at that point, she giggled just a bit at me.  She told me that I had a heart for discipleship, and that was Great Commission work.  As we continued to talk she pointed out that each of us have our role in The Great Commission.  There are the missionaries and evangelists who bring the gospel to people for the first time.   There are the apologists who defend the faith well, to those who question and doubt.  Then there are disciple makers, who have a heart for studying and teaching the scriptures well.  She freed me from the disappointment in my poor evangelizing by helping me to recognize that wasn’t my gift.

It also helped me pinpoint my role in serving the body, that I loved to teach and equip leaders.  My heart was bent toward knowledge and wisdom from the scriptures, and that i desired to know it well myself in order to make sure I teach it well to others.  Integrity in my teaching was highly important to me.  Just this year, a woman asked me if I would consider being her mentor.  After prayerful consideration, I responded that I didn’t feel right mentoring her.  I still had a lot to learn, and quite often I learn from her.  Ultimately we agreed instead on a mutual relationship, like the disciples had, where we could learn form each other.

There is so much freedom in the scriptures, and I am someone who loves a to do list.  It is very easy for me to find myself looking for clear cut directions, and frustrated with the scripture are vague on a topic.  I want God to tell me in His Word exactly how I am to live every single day of my life.  If I am not careful, I can allow myself to become too legalistic.  At the same time, I must also be careful that I don’t go into the deep end of “everything is permissible” without remembering that doesn’t mean it is beneficial.

I’m already a fan of Bryan Loritts, and I was excited to read this book.  It had everything I loved about sharing the gospel with those who are saved.   The pages speak of mercy, grace, and love.  It tells me to be generous, put my pride in check, and to find peace instead of worries.  It affirms my marriage priority as my first ministry and reminds me that I need to get out of my own way.  Oh… and then it trips me up… when it talks about forgiveness.

Forgiveness is hard.  Like, REALLY, hard.   And, honestly it doesn’t even matter who I am trying to forgive.  In fact, I often have an easier time forgiving others than my own self.  It can be a real struggle to forgive, because our Christ-like heart says YES and our fleshy mind says NO.  Who hasn’t uttered the words…  “How many times do I forgive {insert person, situation, self}?”

Bryan Loritts takes us right to the truth of it…

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me,

and I forgive him? till seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee,

Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 

Matthew 18:21-22

Ouch.  That many times, Lord?  Really?  Really.  For a moment, let’s take this literally.  If the Lord has set the limit at 490 forgivenesses… I’m in trouble.  I’ve stopped long before that number.  I can’t think of a single person in my life that has wronged me 490 times.

If we take it in concept, that is STILL a lot of times to forgive someone.  UGH!

I know that there are times where I am really hurt, and I don’t want to forgive.  But there are other times when I know that I am being petty, or I know that it’s more about how I perceived the wrongdoing than what was actually done.  One of the most reoccurring themes for me in 2016 has been about forgiveness.  That forgiveness isn’t easy, but necessary.  Forgiveness is a choice, that I sometimes have to make every day despite my flesh.  Forgiveness is not reconciliation but part of that process.  Forgiveness won’t always make sense, and by the worlds terms, they may not deserve my forgiveness.  Forgiveness may cost me something… and yet forgiveness is freeing.

It’s funny to me, the terrible evangelist, that I purchased a book about saving the saved… and it was a book I needed to read.  I continually need to be reminded to forgive.

Seventy times seven times.

Lord, forgive my unforgiveness.  Let grace, mercy, and forgiveness fall from my lips. Amen.