When “Helping” Doesn’t Help.

I enjoy helping people. I love to listen, share wisdom, and “fix” things for others who are struggling. I am an encourager, and I find satisfaction in bringing life to others with my words and actions.

I am learning, though, that there are times when “helping” doesn’t help. There are times when taking action on behalf of someone else can actually hurt that person, times when they need to be the one to take action. Taking that step for them enables them to remain where they are at instead of growing and walking on their own to the place where God wants to lead them.

We are supposed to love one another, but how often do we take time to realize that doing the loving thing may look different than what we think love is? Sometimes, the loving thing may involve allowing someone to fall without intervening. Perhaps it involves discipline. Maybe it means speaking things that make you uncomfortable. It could mean separating yourself from them for a while. Maybe it simply means being silent for a time.

Sometimes it isn’t easy to love our neighbors – family, friends, significant others – because true love means not “helping” them this time. It goes against my nature to be quiet when I feel someone needs encouragement, but sometimes it isn’t me they need to hear from. If my words keep them from seeking God’s words to them, I’m not doing anyone a favor.

Why is it so hard to stay still or quiet when I think I should be “helping” someone? Unfortunately, I must admit that the answer to that question is often about my own needs. I find my identity in helping others. I know that God has made me to be a conduit of His love to others, and I forget that my worth doesn’t come from how well I carry out that function. I get my eyes firmly fixed on myself and what I can do for others, and I forget to ask God if what I think will help is truly what those people need. Too often, I find my value in being able to “help” someone instead of in being the daughter of the King of Kings.

When my own need to feel valuable drives my “love” and “help” for someone else, I am being the opposite of loving – I am being selfish. The only way to truly love others is to keep our eyes fixed on God and to see ourselves and others through His eyes. He may lead us to encourage others and help them in practical ways, but He may also ask us to pray for them, stay silent, and allow Him to draw them out of their comfort zone.

Is there someone in your life you’ve been “helping”? How can you best love those around you? What might “tough love” look like for those you care about? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Fabulous!

As I sit down to write this, it’s nearly 4pm in Ireland, and I am still wearing my pajamas… Because let’s face it, if you don’t have to leave your house on a cold and rainy day in Ireland, there is no good reason to get out of your cozy, warm pajamas.

 Despite my attire, during a conversation with a friend just a bit ago, I referred to myself as a fabulous woman, and I actually meant it! (If that sounds prideful, check out last week’s post.) Of course, I have days and moments of feeling less than fabulous, but for the most part, I am happy with who I am and how I look. Like many people on the planet, I want to lose weight, but the reason is to be healthier, not because I dislike the way I look. I just got my hair cut and colored it, not because I think it makes me look more beautiful, but because it was time for a change – and I wasn’t particularly happy with the last cut I got.

For the most part, I am comfortable in my own skin. There are things I’d like to change, but none of them make me feel I’m less valuable now than I will be when I achieve the changes. The main times I begin to dislike who I am or how I look are the times when I compare myself to someone else… or more importantly begin to wonder what others think when they notice me, or even IF they notice me.

A good friend told me recently that I need to wonder less and wonder more… It sounds confusing, but she was right. I need to wonder (think) less about what some people might think of me and wonder (be in awe) more at what God thinks of me and the incredible things He is doing in my life.  

When was the last time that you experienced the wonder of the world around you, the God Who created it all, and the fact that He thinks you’re fabulous? Do you spend too much time thinking and wondering about what ‘so-and-so’ might be thinking about you? Could you tell yourself you’re “fabulous” and mean it?

The thing about being comfortable in your own skin and confident in who you are, is that the less it matters that people notice you and think you’re special, the more they will. Confidence is beautiful, and it will draw people to you. The trick is in not worrying about who is taking notice of you. Be confident, know you are loved, and focus on noticing others and helping them know they are loved. You are fantastic, and as you accept that and help others to see that they are fantastic too, your true beauty will shine brighter than you can imagine!

Insulted God Lately?

Have you ever done something – painted a picture, sang a song, written a poem, cooked a meal, sculpted something, or anything else – you’re really proud of? Has your creation then looked at you and told you that you messed it up? Think for a moment how that would feel. (Let’s ignore the fact that none of those things could actually speak to you…) If you can’t picture that, think how it felt if someone else has ever told you how badly you screwed something up.

So, when was the last time you did that to God? Have you ever told Him that He made a mistake when He designed and knit you together? Maybe you haven’t told Him that directly, but perhaps you have told yourself how ugly you are or how you are a failure or that you can’t do anything right? Do you realize that in those moments when you talk about all the flaws you see in yourself, you are telling your Creator He messed up?

Growing up in the church, I got the idea that in order to avoid the sin of pride, I had to avoid acknowledging the good things in myself. When someone would compliment me on my singing, I would deflect the comment somehow, feeling awkward at accepting any kind of praise. The same went for comments about my looks, skill with kids, intellect, or any other talent or aspect of myself that a person might bring up. It felt prideful to agree or even to express gratitude at being recognized for anything I did.

Then one day, during a teaching I was listening to, the lecturer briefly mentioned Romans 12:3. “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” The teacher highlighted the words “sound judgement” and encouraged us not to sell ourselves short. He said that false humility is as prideful as arrogance.

Recognizing the strengths, gifts and talents God has given you is not equal to being prideful. It is not arrogant to simply say ‘thank you’ when someone remarks how well you do a specific activity. If you can sing, sing loudly and use that gift to glorify the one who gave it to you. The same goes for any talent you have. Don’t bury your talents in fear of falling prey to pride, thank God for them and use them to bring Him praise and glory.

Next time you look in the mirror, instead of looking for flaws and things that must be covered up, thank your Creator for the beauty that He put in you. Look for reasons to thank Him for designing and forming you the way He did. Let’s look at ourselves through the eyes of our Creator, and in all humility, thank Him for making us the way He did.

It’s February…

Hello friends. Welcome to February 2016!

I used to really dislike February…. Or at least the first half of it. It seemed a month designed to rub in my face the fact that I was single. All of the ads, displays, flowers, chocolates and other sweets, hearts, and talk of romance coming at me from every side were just reminders that I would get none of those – unless I bought some sweets for myself or my mom gave me some (which often happened).

I know a lot of people still feel that way. They have just survived and recovered from a holiday season filled with parties they had no date for, a million engagement announcements on Facebook, and loads of moments they would love to share with someone special if only there was someone. And then, BAM, Valentine’s Day stuff is everywhere, once again hitting them with the reality that they are alone…

But the fact is, we aren’t alone at all. Romantic love is not the only or even the most important kind of love in life. Jewelers, chocolatiers, and Hallmark may try to make a fortune by selling romance, but what about the friendships we have? All of us have special people in our lives we can celebrate and encourage this month.

Who can you encourage this month? Is there someone who makes your life better? Why not tell them and celebrate your relationship – whatever it is? What about yourself? When was the last time you did something special for you? You’re pretty great, and as nice as it is to have others acknowledge that, sometimes it can mean more just to remind yourself that you are worth being treated to something special.

Yes, I look forward to romance one day. I look forward to the day that someone will choose me, to love me in that way. Until then, though, I want to celebrate the love I already have in my life – the love of family, friends, and most importantly, the One Who is Love itself! I want to love others and remind them that they are special. I want to love myself and recognize that the most important Person in the universe thought I was special enough to give up everything for – and still thinks that.

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating love this month… whatever that looks like in your life today. It’s okay to long for the things we hope are to come, but let’s not miss out on all that we have by lamenting what hasn’t arrived yet!