Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Doing Good to the Woman at Church

About two months ago my husband challenged me with this verse- Galations 6:10. He challenged me ,because another man in our church had challenged him . I argued a little , telling him I was already busy and doing a lot. It didn't work on him. He kept reminding me, " Yes , it is great those things you do for others, but first the body of believers Danielle ." I gritted, I snarled, ( blush , blush ) don't worry it was feminine, and then I eventually calmed, listened and accepted. This is my personal biggest challenge. Maybe because I let past hurts play in.Maybe because I feel like there are so many people in church doing good, that I can do more good at let's say, work or elsewhere. But it is no excuse. There it was in scripture as my husband read it to me Galatians 6:10- "So then as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone and especially to those who are of the household of faith."
I grew up in church. From the time my mom could leave with me from home as an infant, I was in church. My fondest memories are of childrens church growing up.  I don't know why children don't gossip, perhaps it is just cause they are too innocent to know how.Then came youth group. When you hit the teens WATCH OUT, when Junior High begins it all changes doesn't it? You hear girls saying things like, " What's up with her hair, Did she gain weight, What on earth is she wearing?" and the like. I somehow felt that when I entered my 20's and 30's the gossip drama would stop, but sadly not so.Sometimes I hear grown women still saying these things. It is almost sure, where there are women they will be talking about other women. Sadly sometimes, we find it in the church. I think God has a better plan for me and for you. I know His plan is goodness.
I have been on the receiving end of gossip a few times in my life from other christians.I think that is why perhaps I dislike gossip so much and try to avoid it.I think the hardest to get over is when others decide to talk about something in your life that was very painful to you.The hardest gossip I had to endure is when I had gotten home.from Europe after being away for some time as a teenager. A pastor (who barely knew me) stopped me after church, sharp and rude he said, " So I hear you are headed down a wrong road, you had better watch it ?" His face was stern and his manner unwelcoming. I was shocked then mad as we drove home. I was more upset that these were his first words to me. " What did he know, better yet, how did he know? Obviously someone had told him." It hurt more that he never bothered to ask me his questions or talk with me face to face.He obviously thought he knew every detail but never bothered to converse with me personally. Not but a week later I had another christian woman stop me at Costco, " Oh, I heard all about you !" she said as she passed me by. "What ? ",was my first reaction/" From who?" She had never spoken to me, asked me. I had only been home weeks, obviously word had gotten around, and the word wasn't good.
                     It's true we can be hurt from people in the household of faith. It is true also that we ourselves can hurt others. A few years ago I got involved in a conversation I should have never been apart of. The woman I unintentionally injured still will not speak to me. What a hard lesson for me to learn. I hope before we spread info, we might think about that woman first. Consider her pain. Go to her as the source of our information, and if we don't know , it is probably best just to keep quiet. I know I personally have felt the affects of gossip towards me. I also know I have affected those by things I myself have said. My hope and prayer for all of us is that we will heal from the things said about us. Also that we would be aware of the words we speak about other women in church.
                    I love what  Ann Graham Lotz says in her book, Wounded by Gods People, "  Does that surprise you? That a preachers extended family not only includes deeply wounded people, but also includes wounders? Yes it does. Which is one reason I know that Gods love heals. He can redeem the wounded and forgive the wounders."( Ann Graham Lotz) I was surprised for sure. She tells some stories of how she has been hurt by Gods people. If you are one of those wounded might I suggest her book to you. I know God wants me to get over those things so I can live life and love others without burden. He does not want that weight of unforgiveness looming over our hearts in the house of faith. Elizabeth George says in her book, A Woman's Walk With God, " I know my natural response when someone has hurt me is to react and decide, " Well, you're off my list! I don't have to put up with that kind of treatment! I'll just withhold my love from you. But as we've been learning, moments like these are precisely when you and I need to have spiritual  victory and be kind instead. This supernatural act requires God, the Holy Spirit filling us with kindness." (Elizabeth George) In the past I have also handled gossip about me in a variety, of what I now know, unhealthy ways. I have in the past distanced myself from people that gossiped about me, cried for way to long,  been more reserved, and even ( blush, blush ) not gone to church, so I wouldn't have to face it.Just like we all have a choice to not gossip about another. We have a choice to not let anothers gossip about us affect us.Above all Christ wants me and you to be free in the knowledge that He knows us. He knows the truth and we can walk in confidence before Him alone. So let's allow Him to help us move on.
             Just because others may gossip about me or you, that is no excuse to not do good. I have a problem that I will admit to you, that I have struggled with and that God is definitely helping me grow in.I have often  let gossip define me. I think that in this last decade God has challenged me more than ever before to move on and to be what I know I am in Him alone.You know looking back I wouldn't trade those words that were spoken to me. For one, I know the pain of gossip. I know how it hurts and wouldn't want to ( intentionally) inflict that on anyone. Secondly, God is only concerned about one thing, doing that work that He wants to do and only He can do on my heart. A work to do good to the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:1-3- I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Regardless of past hurts, God simply wants us to do what He says. I know God has healed those things in my past. I don't avoid church anymore ( thank God) . Actually I am very blessed to be a part of a church where I personally have not heard other women gossiping. But I can still work on doing good FIRST to the woman in the body of Christ.

Who is that woman this week in the body of Christ you might do good to? This has been such a challenging quote for me this month, I hope it challenges you too,  from the book: True Discipleship by John  Koessler "" Our love is to go beyond words. We are to " love....with actions and in truth" ( 1 John 3:18). According to 1 Peter 1:22, We are to love one another deeply , from the heart. " A church where the prevailing spirit says, " I love you but I don't really like you" is unlikely to have much of an impact on the world."" ( John Koessler) What a challenge to not just say we love others at church ( because that is what we have to do right). But to actually start looking at other women and saying, " I not only love you, I like you !" Have you taken time to get to know that woman you are avoiding, criticizing and ," gulp", gossiping about. Take the time this week. Do good first to the household of faith :)

 I don't know if you have been on the giving end or receiving end of gossip in the church, ( I'm sure we have all been on both ends at points in our life) but neither is an excuse not to love. The woman of faith you are gossiping about is a person Christ gave his life for just like you . The woman of faith that has gossiped about you is a person Christ gave His life for just like you.

This week let's be challenged to do good to the woman at church: Go out of your way to talk to a woman at church you haven't talked to before. Go out of your way to prove yourself wrong about someone you have misjudged, take some time to get to know them. Do you see a woman in pain, how can you offer comfort. A woman who is sick at church? What is something you may do to help her? Did you bump in to a lady from church in the grocery store? Why not buy her a bouquet of flowers and hand them to her before she leaves the store. Have a great week!
 I would love to hear your ideas and comments !

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Showing Goodness to the Woman in Pain

            Pain, there is a word we all know. In our lifetime, we will not only experience pain our self, but watch someone we know, someone we love, and someone we are acquainted with go through it. There are different types of pain. I have lost a job and so has my husband, that was painful. I have been sick for over a week with kidney stone pain, that was the most pain I have yet to endure. We as women have all experienced labor pains. Then  there are those who have experienced pain we may never know unless we endure it ourselves. The death of a son or daughter, a sick child, loss of a parent, cancer, loss of a home, the list in this life goes on and on- where pain is concerned. If we stop for a minute , open our eyes and look around us we are sure to see pain, and find pain. I have heard recently a few women asking where this lady was. She had injured herself." Where was she, how was she, when was she coming back?" The conversations went on and on and kept coming up. I felt for this lady. If I wanted to know how was she, then I should ask her myself and stop mumbling with the other women. Then I should go beyond that and see if she needed anything. Not so I could then pass information to the other women asking, but so she could know I cared. I called this lady who had physical pain in her life. I told her "I am not being nosy, I don't need details, I just want to know are you okay, and may I do anything for you? "
        How many times have I talked with other women , "How is so and so because such and such has happened." Rather I hope to show goodness in the life of the woman experiencing pain. I want God to be able to prod my heart and say, " Call her, write her, cook for her, hug her". Life gets busy. But I obviously had time to join with the other women on how she was, so what better use of that time to actually pick up the phone, give her 5 minutes of my day and call her so she knows I care. I will not tell the other women I called. I will not pass the info she gave me to others. I simply called because I genuinely wanted to know if you are okay or in need. There are so many women in pain. Down the road from me a woman's husband has no job, every week I see a mom I know with a recovering son from leukemia. People I know have chronic pain, another has lost a member of her family to death. What better use of our time as women than reaching out. What a better use of time than discussing others and their situations.  I went to work last night and had to take a class on pain.. I had to chuckle to myself since this week we are trying to find a woman in pain that we can do good to.Here are some facts that I found out. It was so eye opening to me to see the different aspects of pain in our lives. We have all been through one section of these at one time or another. I bet we all know someone who is in one of these sections now.Hope it encourages you to open your eyes to women around you that you can bless. That you can speak a good word to and that you can avoid gossiping about.

There are four different types of pain.....

1st Physical Pain- this is a biological response to actual or potential tissue damage related to a disease or injury.

2nd Psychological Pain- this is associated with strong emotions. It can arise from a fear of pain or death., a loss of hope, anger at circumstances beyond the persons control and ineffective coping strategies.

3rd Social Pain- this is a response to a financial worry, loss of a job or income, loss of personal identity and social position, isolation, family distress and conflict.

4th Spiritual Pain- this is a response to feelings of guilt, despair, anger, betrayal , fear, regret, sorrow , depression, and meaningfulness of one's life.

I know a woman in each of these categories, do you? Hope this puts a deeper view on pain that we can experience and that God will place a woman or women in your life this week that you can show goodness to.

Here are some ideas: A gas card to the mom who has to drive to Phoenix to give her son chemo every week, A simple phone call, A simple note of encouragement, A knew Bible, A great book, A gift card to the grocery store for the women who's husband is out of work. Please add your ideas below also in the comments for others to read. Remember also to pray for that women you come across and that God would touch her heart in an amazing way this week :)