Chronicling 40: Day 116 of 365

Sonset

Do you have ever those days where you are just begging for Jesus to come already.  You are weary.  You are tired of the fight.  You are ready for peace.  You just want the King to come and restore everything to how it should be.

That is how it was before Jesus came.  They were watching for a Messiah who was going to come and establish His kingdom.  They would be out of bondage, restored.  However, their vision of what their King would look like and what arrived was very different.  They were awaiting on conquering King not a swaddled baby.  Not a man nailed to a cross.

They were watching for the Son, but couldn’t see Him… even when He stood right in front of their faces.

In the last 40 years, I have learned through hindsight how present God was in every step of the way.  In the days where I didn’t know Him yet, unable to recognize His face.  He was there.  In the days where I longed to feel His presence because He felt so far.  He was there.  In the days when He doesn’t show up in the ways I expect, but none the less He is there.

All of this has brought me to a place where now even when I can’t… I know.  I know He is there, present, listening, watching, working, moving, guiding.  I seek Him differently, because I am so confidence of His presence in the first place.  Like a child looking for her father’s hand in a dark room… when the days are long and weary, I watch for Him.  I reach for him.

While I may still yearn for Jesus to return and put an end to the turmoil on this earth, I also find comfort in knowing that He dwells within me and the hearts of those whom He calls His own.  And in the struggle… I find peace.  My King has already come, victory is already His.

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Chronicling 40: Day 102 of 365

listenvshear

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply.”  ~Stephen R Covey

The other day, I was having a discussion with a friend.  I was attempting to make a point, but first I needed to establish the context of my point.  Before I could even get to the actual point I was trying to make, she interrupted me and began to dissect the context.

This is a classic example of listening to reply versus to understand.  It was as if she was scanning every word I said looking for the opportunity to respond, instead of listening to my full point before responding.  Before I knew it, we were off on a tangent and I never even got to my initial point.

In years past, I had always considered this idea of listening to respond as something that only reared up in unhealthy relationships without boundaries.  My belief was that for a person to behave in such a way meant that they thought themselves better than me, superior in some way (experience, intelligence, etc.) or that the person was controlling (interrupting to control the flow of conversation back toward themselves).

This particular instance set that notion into a full stop, as this was a person I have a great relationship with.  I began to wonder if this behavior is more prevalent than I thought… and even question if I was also culpable.  Do I listen to respond when I should be listening to understand?

It can be said that listening is an automatic thing that happens, unless you are hearing impaired.  It is simply the picking up of sound being made.  Hearing is where we actually pay attention to what the sound is.  If you’ve ever zoned out when someone is talking to you, or fallen asleep watching television, you’ll understand what simply listening is.  I can hear the sounds, I know that noise is being made, but I can’t tell you any details about the sound.  I may know someone is speaking to me, but unable to recall what they said.  I may know that I am in a noisy room, but couldn’t tell you who or what the noises are originating from.

Hearing is a conscious decision to listen to the details, so that I know who is speaking, what is being said, what the noises are.

If you are planning your response while the other person is talking, you can’t actually hear the other person.  Why?  Because at some point you cut off hearing the other person and instead focused on the argument or comment you want to make.  As you are formulating your response, you can’t hear what else is being said.  In the situation with my friend, I believe this to be true.  The reason she couldn’t hear my main point was because she was hung up on the detail that she wanted to respond to.

If we start day dreaming or doing other tasks, it means we are disinterested.  If we don’t want to hear what the person is saying we can literally shut down our reception of the information, or we can lean into selective listening/hearing… where we only hear what we want to hear.  Management consultant Bryan Golden says:  “To make it yet more challenging, even when listening intently, you tend to filter what someone is saying through your own biases. You may assume you know what someone means because you jump to conclusions before they finish talking.”

All of these come down to the same bottom line, bad or poor communication skills.

The more I looked into the topic, the more I realized that we are all complicit in poor communication in some way, shape, or form.  Perhaps we would all do well to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19), then we’d be less apt to be angry.

Chronicling 40: Day 96 of 365

 

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I’m still in vacation mode, coming back from our trip to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival.  I wanted to make just a quick comment about the trip side of things.  I’m a planner by nature.  Even the shortest trip will have months of planning, budgeting, and arranging.  This trip was spur of the moment, a suggestion of a friend, and I just went for it.  I had such a good time.  No agenda of things we have to do, places we have to see.  After the festival, the next day we went to Disney Springs (previously called Down Town Disney) and just walked around.  We left when we were ready to leave.  No rush to be home.  No deadlines.

I think my first personal lesson of 40, is to be more spontaneous.  Not everything needs to be planned to the minute.

Chronicling 40: Day 78 of 365

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I don’t know if it is just because I turned forty, or rather a life time of built up situations that has just finally come to head… but I am so over having others project their insecurities on me.  I guess it is one of those moments in life we start drawing lines and setting boundaries.

That is not to say that we can just go around cutting people out of our life, or that there isn’t a measure of responsibility that we have.  If I know a person is highly sensitive, I could do a better job of softening my words to them or approach them differently.  There are things we can all improve or do better at.

What I have noticed though, is that within the Christian circles, projection of insecurities happens most when we dare to correct or rebuke someone.  In my experience I have learned that defensiveness is almost always a sign of conviction in the heart.  But rather than be willing to consider it, and potentially have to deal with it, instead it is easier to project it on to others as their problem.

Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.

I think it can also be trying to down play our own sin by accusing someone else.  One of my children is a pro at this.  The second she gets in trouble for anything, she tries to deflect our attention on to her sister.  Her goal is to distract us from holding her accountable, and instead focus on the wrongs of her sister.  We can do this when instead of considering our own sin, we instead try to make the person who brought it to our attention look or feel bad about themselves.  When we cast blame on them.  The goal is to make ourselves less guilty, or at least equally guilty so we are not alone.

Adam did this with Eve.  Instead of saying, “Yes, I ate the fruit”… Adam instead said “That woman you made deceived me”.  He blamed Eve.  He even blamed God indirectly.  But he wasn’t owning his actions.  He became defensive and tried to pass the buck.  Human sin nature propels us to try and deflect from correction, because if we accept correction we have to take full ownership and potentially have to admit this wrong or make amends.  So much easier to justify how we were right and the other person was in the wrong.

It is so much easier to be the corrector than the one corrected, to rebuke than to be rebuked.

Relationships between believers should be ones where we spur one another on to good things, iron sharpens iron, accountability of one another.  We shouldn’t take it as a personal attack when someone catches something less than stellar about ourselves, but instead consider their words or observation.  Perhaps they are right, and they could also be wrong. If we immediately act in defensiveness, then we haven’t given it any consideration.

If we take some time to reflect on their words we may realize they were correct, they misunderstood our intentions and we can clarify them, or that the person is entirely wrong & disregard their words completely (or confront if appropriate).  Another thing to consider, is that when we respond in defensiveness we are reacting on our emotions.  Emotions are not always a trustworthy thermometer of a situation, whereas giving some space to consider it can bring clarity.  A friend of mine always advises people dealing with conflict to “sleep on it” because it’s creating space to process before we react, and then we can respond with our hearts in a better place.

If we feel wounded (whether it was the persons intention or not) we enter a vacuum inside our own minds.  We are not capable of seeing or hearing the other person accurately, nor are we capable of sharing our thoughts clearly either.  Everything becomes a jumble of emotions, assumptions, accusations, and we can even be tempted to wound in return.

The Scriptures tell us that wise counsel is a good thing, we shouldn’t withdraw from it but embrace it.  Test it to see if it is true, is this person seeing something that I am not?  It is entirely possible that the other person is missing information or doesn’t know you well enough, and then we know it’s safe to dismiss their correction.  Even that becomes an opportunity to learn, so that in the future we may choose to be more considerate about how our actions or words will be received by those whom were are new in relationship with.

Recently, I had two examples of this situation… with two varying responses.

The Teachable One:

I was meeting with a woman who was interested in writing and speaking, and looking for some pointers.  As we were talking through her testimony, she began to include specific details about another person.  I stopped her, and pointed out that she was sharing information that wasn’t hers to share.  She was startled by my abruptness, but she didn’t say anything and continued to listen.  I shared with her that she has to remember that her job is only to share her story, her details.  I continued on by pointing out you never know who is in the audience that may know you or that person, and you may be sharing information that was entrusted to you but not meant for public knowledge.  As writers and speakers, we have a responsibility to the information we are entrusted with.  Which means before we share anyone’s details we must get their permission.  Otherwise we leave it out. 

She was a woman who is teachable.  Teachable people are ones where you can bring these things to light, and even if at first they are a bit taken back, instead of reacting they consider the information and weigh it.  At this point, the woman could have said “I have already asked permission to share this”, and I would have leaned back and continued to listen to her.  In this case, she sat for a moment and considered my words.  She responded that she hadn’t considered that, would be more mindful, and thanked me for drawing her attention to it.  I told her that if I ever caught her doing it, I was going to stop her.  This was not about me being right, but rather about me helping draw her attention to it so that she was aware of it.  The more aware we are, the better.  My pointing out this moment didn’t tarnish our relationship but added value to it.  She knew that I was helping her, trying to support her, and guide her with wisdom.

We have to remember that leaders (Pastors, Speakers, Writers, Ministry Leaders, Teachers, etc) are held to a higher standard.  We must be careful with our words, actions, and behaviors.  We should be thankful that someone brings it to our attention and provides wise counsel.  That does not mean we can’t have personal conversations about our preferences on how that counsel is given.  In the above example, she could have told me that I was rude for interrupting her and the next time I should wait until she is done and then include it in my feedback.  Totally acceptable response, and one that I would have honored.

The Defensive Ones:

In another recent situation, I drew attention to something I found problematic.  This was with another believer and particularly about how certain information was being handled.  My intentions were to make her (and those involved) consider their words/actions & how they could be perceived.  One person immediately met it with defensiveness, and instead of addressing the topic & continuing the conversation… the response was to hurl accusations at me behind closed doors.

Instead of asking me why I felt the way I did, or how I came to that conclusion… my character was put into question.  A direct comment for consideration was responded to with a personal attack.  Unwillingness to even consider my words and instead an assault on character.  What is so difficult is that once we find ourselves in that defensive posture, we become incapable of clarity and discernment.  We don’t like how we feel about ourselves in that moment, so we project it onto the other person and make it their problem not ours. 

In doing so we build up a wall between ourselves and that other person, keeping us from connection and thwarting reconciliation.  The worst part of this, for the defensive person, is that it will color all future interactions with that person.  You will no longer be able to see them as a good willed person, instead you will keep them at a distance in order to avoid having to deal with the issue.  Painting others as your enemy so that you don’t ever have accountability; but also making sure you don’t have to deal with your own insecurities either.

To Correct and Be Corrected:

Years ago, I wrote a series about correction.  The first half of the series was about how to Biblically correct someone; walking through the why, when, and how of it all.  The second half was about how to receive correction.  This is an area that we probably haven’t spent enough time on in the church and Bible studies, which is why so many are eager to correct others but less open to receive correction.  We teach about telling “truth in love” but forget to teach how to receive “truth in love”.

In that piece, I wrote quite a bit about hearing what the person is saying, considering it, praying to God to reveal if there is any truth to those words or not, and seeking guidance on how to move forward.

I love Psalm 26:2, where David prays:  “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind…”

We need the Lord to come in and reveal if there is truth, if there is something I need to learn, if there is a behavior I need to correct, or if I am blameless.  But, I stand in the way of the Lord’s testing when I fly off the handle and respond versus taking a moment to let my emotions settle and then bring it to the Lord to examine.

If we are going to correct someone, we need to pray about doing so first.  If we have been corrected, we need to pray before we respond.  Sometimes that means we must first take a little time to allow the Lord’s examination of our heart to reveal His findings to us.  Then when we respond, we know we are doing so with clear vision and His guidance.

Chronicling 40: Day 73 of 365

 

Deborah vs. Jezebel

Women, Women of Influence

Both Deborah and Jezebel were women.  Both, were women of influence.  Deborah was a woman who worshiped God.  Jezebel was a woman who worshipped Baal.  Deborah’s influence, was godly.  She was considered wise, she judged over disputes, and brought peace among her people.  Jezebel was harsh and manipulative, she was divisive, and sewed discord and chaos among her people.

Wives and Mothers

We know with certainty that Jezebel was both married and a mother.  Deborah, we can assume was at least married (as she is called wife of Lapidoth) and possibly a mother as well (culturally, that would make sense but she is called “mother of the sons of Israel).  Either way, both women had a responsibility to their household that would outweigh any of their own calling (Deborah) or ambitions (Jezebel).

Scripture wise, we already discussed the requirements to be a godly leader.  Which means that we know for Deborah to have been risen up as a leader over Israel, she too had to fulfill those requirements.  Deborah would have been a woman above reproach, who took care of her home (husband, children) well.  She would have been submissive to God, led by His will over her own. 

Jezebel, however, didn’t meet these leadership requirements.  Jezebel was disrespectful of her husband, she was audacious and outspoken.  She had ambitions that outweighed morals.  (Please note that one can be a godly women with ambitions, being ambitious in and of itself is not wrong… it’s the heart behind the ambition that is key).  She was vain and more concerned about herself than others. 

Prophetess and Prophet Killer

Deborah was a Prophetess, meaning that the Lord had gifted her with prophecy and she used her gift to deliver God’s word to His people who would listen.  Jezebel, she was a Prophet killer.  She didn’t deliver God’s word but instead attempted to silence it by killing off those who did.  Deborah had awe and reverence for God, where Jezebel had contempt.

Leader, Anointed & Usurped

Deborah was a leader of the sons of Israel, those who were still listening to the Word of God.  Deborah was placed into this position by God, and moved in accordance to his directions.  Jezebel, was a woman who married into Israel via Ahab… a man who was doing evil in God’s sight (and in fact considered the most evil).  A corrupted husband, married a corrupting wife.  Deborah was anointed by God, Jezebel was chosen by Ahab.  Deborah was called to lead, Jezebel controlled and manipulated into leadership.  Deborah led from a position that was given to her, Jezebel led from a position that she took.

Deborah lived a life of honor, among her people.  Jezebel instilled an environment of fear.  Deborah lived a long life of peace.  Jezebel did not, and ultimately fell to her death pushed by her own servants.  Deborah was honored.  Jezebel was consumed by the dogs to the point she was unrecognizable.  Deborah is spoke of today in high regard, Jezebel as a warning and in dishonor.

Chronicling 40: Days 71 & 72 of 365

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Yesterday, my intention was to write about Jezebel.  The Lord had other plans, and while I can see the value… it wasn’t pleasant.  Before I could write about Jezebel, I had to meet her.  Face to face. It’s take me a bit of time to process this encounter.  I spoke on the phone with a good friend about my experience, and she flat out said that the Lord wasn’t letting me write about something I had not been through.  So, true.  So, wise.  So, hard.

But, I’m glad that I didn’t write anymore about her yet.  This encounter will probably have an impact on how I write about her further.  The Lord set a divine appointment.

Jezebel was so outgoing, engaging, her personality was large, and she commanded the space.  Even I found myself laughing at some of the things she said.  If those who knew her were asked to write down a list of attributes about Jezebel, it would read like a lovely list.  Strong.  Confident.  Assured.  Knowledgeable.  Successful.  Beautiful.

I saw something much different, my list would read quite the opposite.  Broken.  Disconnected.  Misleading.  False.  Insecure.  Disrespectful.  Yet, in the moment… I found myself just as intrigued by her as others in the space.  Like a Hurricane… she was just as astonishing as she was destructive.  Still, my spirit remained unsettled by her presence.

As I was speaking to my friend about this encounter, I pointed out the irony of this encounter happening just as I was writing about Deborah vs. Jezebel.  And so we headed down a path of what we each had learned in the Scriptures about them.  My friend talked about Jezebel’s personality and character.  Then I said, “What I find interesting is that so many refer to Jezebel as a divisive person who corrupts.  But, in the Scriptures we learn that Ahab was already corrupt before Jezebel entered the picture.  Jezebel was invited in.”

When a space… whether it is a community, a organization, a ministry, or a church is already corrupted… they are primed for Jezebel to appear.  Jezebel doesn’t need an engraved invitation to show up to the party, she just needs a door that is left opened for her to slide into the fold.  Once through the door, her words are tempting… her personality is engaging… she speaks things that seem right or acceptable.  She says what others want to hear.  She doesn’t just give permission for people to follow the desires of their flesh, but she affirms it as a good thing.

In the book of Genesis, it is the snake in the garden that convinces Eve that eating of the forbidden tree is more than just ok, but that it is a good thing.  2 Timothy 4:3 warns: “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”  It is easy for women to go about and talk about what sounds good, what feels good, and seems like truth.  “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to.” (1 Tim 5:13). 

We have to be so careful who we let in our circle.  Are we surrounding ourselves with Deborahs (wise, discerning, and godly women) or Jezebels (lying, manipulating, and godless women)?  This is why we are told to be students of the Word, because we most KNOW the Word so well that anything that is not of the word sticks out like weed among the flowers.  We have to lean in so much to the Lord, that anything that tries to distract us from Him is outside of our peripheral vision.  We must be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that when Jezebel attempts to tickle our ears that Truth compels us to flee.

Yet, we are faced with a conundrum… as leaders.  Do I surround myself with other Deborahs, hiding in the fortress of my city on a hill?  Or, do I face down Jezebel with God on my side?  Do I continue to minister to my Sisters in Christ, and leave these easily tempted women on their own to contend with Jezebel?  Do I take a stand between Jezebel and these women.  Do I bring truth to counter her lies?  Do I bring peace to counter her chaos?  Do I come armored for battle?

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Ephesians 6:10-18

Not every woman is going to be able to take on a Jezebel.  But, a Deborah can.

There are many different women in the Scriptures that are called to various types of leadership and influence in the church, ministries, and communities.  Not all leaders are going to have the same calling as Deborah.  But, if you are a Deborah… Jezebel is your enemy.  You may need to face her directly, or equip those who will with the Word of God.

Jezebels are present today.  They may sit among you in the pews, or be dispersed in your community.  Pray not only for your discernment to see her for who she is, but stand in the gap for those who do not know better.  Pray that they too will have eyes that see her intentions, discernment to go the other way.  Have other women praying with you, as you face Jezebel.  And lean into the Holy Spirit’s prompting on when to speak, when not to.  When to act, when to be still.  Allow God’s words to speak against Jezebel, not your own.

Chronicling 40: Day 59 of 365

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I just want to take a moment to be perfectly clear about my intentions, as we travel this road together.  I am not a woman who is afraid of conversation, nor do I expect everyone to agree with me.  My intentions as I give examples, share experiences, and even my opinion is NOT to do anything more than to challenge thought.

There are some areas where I am still learning and developing my opinions, which you may watch me flesh out on these pages.  I welcome respectful conversation, however challenging it may be.  Not everyone will agree with me, or see things from my perspective.  I am okay with that, after all who am I?  I am no final authority.  I’m willing to admit I am wrong, or see another well expressed perspective.

I only ask that if you are going to present that argument, do so with your evidence.  Give me the scripture, quote the author/speaker/etc that you heard it from.  Any talking down, accusations, etc are unwelcome because they are not helpful.  Real discussion and learning comes from sharing information, and opinions coupled with the explanation of how we came to that opinion.

One thing that I see happen often when anyone talks about women in leadership, is this weird posse that shows up accusing her of being a pulpit stealing Jezebel.  So let me set this fact in stone:  I do not seek a pulpit.  I do not feel called to be a Pastor, never have.  Nothing about what the Lord has laid before me indicates that there is any chance of me heading in that direction either.  Therefore, should I choose to delve into that specific topic it will be done from a neutral stance not a self serving one.

I’m going to explore a lot about leadership, past to present.  I will probably dream a little about what leadership for women will look like in the future.  This topic will cover leadership in the professional (secular) world and in the realm of ministry.  I’ll discuss it in theory, as well as share the practical side of it too.

My purpose will not be to tear down anyone (or any gender), but instead to tear apart to topic and dissect to it’s core… in order to better understand it.  How do we know how to keep a healthy body?  Because we learn how the body works, what does it need to survive at an optimal way, what causes it harm, etc.  Same goes for leadership, we need to understand it at the core in order to understand what works and what doesn’t.  This includes really understand what the Bible says about leadership in general, as well as in regard to specific genders.

I hope you are not willing to just come along for this ride, but be a part of the conversation… genuinely.   Reading to understand, not reading to build an argument.  Sharing facts, scripture, quotes, etc to support your stand.  Having conversations with those around you, outside of this blog to see it in real practical life experiences.

My hypothesis:  things are not as black and white, one way or another, as they appear.