My relationship with Jonathan changed my life. Not just because we got married and we move all over the globe but because we fell in love. Now I don’t mean that fabulous euphoric falling in love you have at the beginning (although we have that too!) I mean we fell into love. Fall is really the wrong word because it sounds so unintentional. Deciding to pursue love with Jonathan grew me like no other relationship I’d known. Loving him and being loved by him changed me and every time I changed I learned more about my relationship with God.
When Jonathan and I met I was a fully independent, established career woman. I owned a house, had a job, fabulous friends and a great church. We ‘fell in love’ got married and started living life together. When Jonathan first encouraged me to go part time I was working as a nurse in a busy labor and delivery unit. The same one I mentioned last week where nobody got to eat lunch. The job was very stressful. My days off felt like physical and emotional recuperation days instead of free days for recreation or working on our home. I had been wanting to go part time for a while but when he mentioned it a hidden part of me resisted. I accepted his offer anyway and spread the news excitedly but whenever he would mention it to people I cringed inside. He would be talking to someone on the phone saying that I was going to go part time so that I would have more time to oil paint and write. And I would wave my hand and make shushing faces to encourage him to shut up. Later I would ask him, “Why are you telling people that?” He would be confused – “What do you mean?” I’d say, “Don’t tell people that. You make me sound lazy!” After a couple of weeks I started to wonder if he had ulterior motives for wanting me to work less. Did he think I didn’t do a good enough job keeping up the house or having meals prepared? Was my being stressed out – stressing him out and he needed it to stop? Did he want me to be more financially dependant upon him?
I asked him straight up: “WHY DO YOU WANT ME TO GO PART-TIME?”
Again confused he said matter-of-factly. “So that you can have more time to paint and write.”
“No – I mean why do YOU want me to go part-time? What do you get out of it – what’s your real motive?”
He set aside the strainer for the pasta that was nearly done. Moved towards me and gently put his hands on my waist, “Baby, I think you are truly gifted in writing and painting and you love doing those things. Your work seems to stress you out and take away from the time that you could spend doing things that you love and that God has gifted you to do. I Love You – and I love seeing you do the things that you love. That’s it.”
I started to silently cry because I believed him. I had no idea how to interpret this. I had no frame of reference for this. I just couldn’t believe that someone, a man, loved me this much and was truly looking for my best interest. He wanted what was best for me, he wanted what was going to make me happy and feel fulfilled. He wanted to see me enjoying life and my gifts and loving the way I spend my time. I had never personally experienced such a selfless unconditional act of love. I was overwhelmed.
My relationship with Jonathan was unlike any other, yet I still had a hard time fully trusting. Way in the back of my heart I kept waiting for the inevitable other shoe to drop. The tell tale sign that indeed he was a heart-breaking, selfish betrayer just like the rest of them. But day by day, week in and week out it never happened. Over and over again I was surprised with honesty, predictability, dependability. Don’t get me wrong – he isn’t perfect – of course, there were times I was disappointed or times when I expected one thing and got another.
Regardless, Jonathan showed me that even though he wasn’t perfect that he could be trusted. This isn’t a praise session for my husband (although he is amazing) but rather a statement about me. I had come through life protecting the lie that no one is going to take care of me except me. I thought, “You have to look out for number one. If you don’t take care of yourself no one will. Right?” I never thought anyone else would ever care for me enough to truly want what’s best for me. But he did (and still does.) It’s amazing!
Experiences and hurts from our past can hinder the intimacy in our current relationships. The hurt I carried kept me from trusting. Lack of trust kept me from sharing my heart with Jonathan. I dealt with the past experiences that caused the hurt and forgave those who hurt me but I hadn’t faced the core beliefs that kept me from trusting. Once I believed that Jonathan sincerely cared for me I began to open up and give him more of myself. Not all people are trustworthy of sharing your heart. It’s healthy to have boundaries to protect yourself from unsafe people.
However, it’s very important to note that God is not unsafe. I’ve written before that it is easy for us to ascribe to God attributes of our parents or other authority figures but unless they were Godly attributes they are not true of Him. God is not a man. He IS perfect! He is always honest, always faithful, always loving; He never fails. I had to learn to be honest first with myself and then with God. I came to Him with willingness and He provided the clarity I needed to begin to see myself and Him properly. I cannot express how wonderful it is to experience True Love. He wants what’s best for me, He wants what’s going to make me happy and feel fulfilled. He wants to see me enjoying life and the gifts He gave me and loving the way I spend my time. God’s love is Perfect.
Boundaries by Townsend and Cloud
A must see short Q&A video on Building Trust by “Loving On Purpose”
Criticism is easy to come by but encouragement can change someone’s day and may even change their life.
Encourage. Inspire. Invigorate. Uplift.
I was actually opposed to blogging. I had a ton of ignorant thoughts about the blogosphere and they even kept me from reading blogs. But a friend of mine just kept encouraging me to write. In her soft, sweet Southern way she prodded me. And here I am – writing. Years ago I would write all the time and then I hit a wall. It became easy to make excuses and then day after day I just didn’t do it anymore. Without my friends’ recent encouragement I doubt you would be reading this now. (You can read her amazing blog about connecting to a life of significance here). Once I started Make It Plain on Tablets something inside me ignited and now I can’t keep from writing or thinking about writing. It’s been amazing!
We all need revival from time to time. Somehow we get distracted from our goals, give up, settle for less. We need a life giving word of encouragement to get us going, to keep us going or to bring us back to our life. Revival. Like CPR for the soul.
Encouragement isn’t flattery. Flattery is a type of sweet talk or praise that has manipulation at it’s core. Flattery is a way to get people to do what you want them to do. A way to get them to feel a certain way so that you feel a certain way. It’s self serving. Encouragement is about helping others do what God has designed them to do.
Encouragement is looking at someone and seeing how amazing they are and telling them about it. Often we don’t see ourselves or circumstances clearly. Our vision is clouded by failures or the grandness of our hope. We need someone to see us from the outside and remind us of the truth in us.
Maybe you feel like you are the one who needs encouragement and that you have nothing to give. My word to you is find someone else to encourage. It’s funny – when you start to encourage someone else somehow you get encouraged. And it’s contagious! Try it. But by all means don’t let me stop you from asking God to show you how He sees you and then staring yourself in the mirror and declaring to yourself that you were designed on purpose and for a great purpose, that you can receive the grace to do it, stop it, make it, choose it, build it, move it, write it or whatever your IT is. You are amazing and nothing less!
Set your eyes to find someone to encourage this week. When you take the time to look at others with intentions of hope it’s easy to see their truth. Then take that next step and tell them about it.
Consider leaving a comment below on how you plan to take on this challenge or how it goes or share an idea for other readers on ways to encourage.
Related book and articles
- Strengthen Yourself in the Lord a book by Bill Johnson
- Mean What You Say and Say What You Mean (thoughtsonscripture.com)
- Scripture Food for Thought ~ Real Heroes Are Just Ordinary People ~ What Makes Their Exploits Different? (scripturefoodforthought.wordpress.com)