RELATE: Knowing, loving and forgiving the people in your life.

Knowing, loving, and forgiving the people in your life

We began in January.  Four women met together with their pastor and asked for his support to begin a Bible Study for young adults.  It grew from there into the YAG, a movement of people getting to know eachother and themselves in Christ. The study was RELATE, knowing, loving and forgiving the people in your life.  It was to be a 5 session study but one session would take two meetings.  The sessions were profound and pregnant with meaning, leaving thoughts on how to do this life thing better together bouncing around in us through the week.  I recommend this study to everyone – not just young adults.  It is an excellent first study for a group and a theme that is relevant to everyone. Throughout the weeks of the study we came to know eachother as a group.  We would average 30 people at any giving meeting on a Friday night in The Cave, a warehouse loft we were generously given to use by a couple in our church.  We shared very deep hurts and precious victories, updates on our practices of the things we have learned and hurdles that we would have to overcome.  Out of this study came a community of people who have begun to live with eachother and share with eachother and love eachother. There were some amazing things that I learned in these sessions that have stayed with me and I pray will stay with me as I grow beyond this step.  Right now, in a reflective mood and seeking comfort in the memories of all my God has done for me, I have decided to share a few of these.

  • Every person has a predominant need when it comes to relationships – either significance or security.
  • Relationships are NOT ABOUT ME.  They are not designed to serve me.  They are designed to be the place where I am able to be more like Christ.  To be patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not conceited, selfless, compassionate, and forgiving we must have someone in our lives with which we are able to practice these Christ-like ways.
  • Fear is a big impediment to relationships.  But when we turn to the purpose of relationships (above) we can learn to love someone for THEIR sake.  Not for ours.
  • Relationships are the place where sanctification happens.
  • God is the source of all the things we need to make our relationships work.  We are invited to “remain in Him”.  We are the branches on his vine and without the vine the branches will die… and will destroy the relationships in their life by being drained and withered without the love connection to the vine of the source of all love – God himself.
  • “Friends who enjoy soul intimacy never settle for gossip or simple information exchange.  Instead they use the data of events as spring-boards for the sharing of feelings, perceptions, values, ideas and opinions.”
  • Being loving is more important that being right.  Relationship is more important than victory.
  • Dealing with conflict there are three ways in which we react – move away, move against, or move towards.  Moving towards can be easily confused with moving against – but the purpose is different.  Moving against is defensive, self-protective, and offensive.  Moving toward involves an open mind and bravery, clear communication, accountability, accommodation, collaboration and compromise.
  • The grass is not greener on the other side – it is greener where you water it.
  • It is important to search yourself for wrongdoing with humility.  There are three BEs to employ as we deal with our own weaknesses.  Be aware, Be in tune with the Spirit as it guides you, and Be willing to accept the guidance and instruction of the Spirit so that work can be done in your life.
  • Forgiveness IS: Moral. Goodwill.  Paradoxical. Beyond duty.
  • Forgiveness is NOT: Forgetting or denying.  Condoning.  Excusing.  Condemning.  Seeking justice or compensation.

As for me… I learned that I have a lot to learn.  And a lot of practicing to do.  That is another subject for another post.  Another time.

Consider it pure joy…

Today I write in a state of gratefulness and awe.  Amazed that the words written by one man near two-thousand years ago could reach into my reality and change the way life goes for me.  And for others like me.

Three weeks ago I invited an odd assortment of people into my home to work our way through the book of James.  I didn’t put too much thought into it – not in a real thinking sense – but followed my gut.  Some of them didn’t know each other, some of them didn’t know why they chose to come, but we began the journey holding our hands around my kitchen table and praying for guidance with the smell of lasagna baking in the oven.

“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

We read the first few verses through and began with the question in our guide “How do you deal with trials?”

It took all night.  Everyone at that table was going through a trial.  Without going through the details we waded through insight.  The fascinating concept of considering it JOY when we are faced with a trial.  The order to do so – not please think about considering it joy, but CONSIDER it.  Also fascinating was that it was JOY we were ordered to find.  Not peace, not submission, not acceptance, not surrender which take some doing in their own right, but the nigh impossible JOY.

The responsibility rested heavy on the kitchen table.  The order that if you cannot find that joy, please ask God for wisdom and don’t do so with doubt.  It was clear that this Considering it Joy business is a practice, something to be renewed every morning and turned into perseverance, not a one off entrance into a state of bliss.  The responsibility that is placed in our hands is to apply ourselves diligently to the task of creating joy out of pain.

Not to mention the reward.  Wouldn’t you like to be complete, not lacking in anything?  Wouldn’t you like to be wise and full of joy?  Wouldn’t you like to transmute the emotions brought on by trials and simply experience pure JOY in spite of circumstances?

But do we trust that this will happen?

Through the course of the past few weeks I have been pursued by James and his inspired order to Consider it Joy.  A friend who often sends me his readings from his morning devotions spent three days on subject matter centered around dropping the complaints and entering His presence with praise.  My own daily devotional emails from a well followed womans devotion site led me through conscious decisions to be grateful.  My life coach and I spoke of the power that is created in the space where you have done the work to take responsibility.  Our pastor spoke on reliance on the Spirit to guide our walk through the Christian life where there is Joy.  And trial after trial forced me into practice over the course of the last week in particular.

It has been a fascinating journey that would have been eerie if the stalking had been done by any other spirit!

Across oceans, a similar journey through James has run parallel.  A blogger that I follow has been pursued by a stream of the same ideas over the course of the last few weeks.  I invite you to read Andy’s blog and see the shared lessons from the book of our mutual friend, James.