Grabbing for God

I love the Bible story of the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. She’s one of my heroes. Jesus was leaving the area and walked by her. She was about to miss her opportunity but in desperation she reached out and touched the hem of His cloak, thinking to herself, “If I can just touch his clothes, I will get well.”

She didn’t whine, “I guess I wasn’t one of the chosen ones,” and give up on her chance to meet with God.

Nope. She reached out and grabbed Him before He left her. She seized her opportunity.

It gets better. He stops and turns around and then looks at her, “Do not to worry! You are well now because of your faith.”

There are times it feels as if I’m drowning in life and that God is passing me by, as if He’s moving on to more important things. However, this story models to me the importance of reaching out and grabbing for God – even if it requires being drastic. When we do – He stops and we are healed.

A few months ago I was in one of those spiritual ruts when I read of an opportunity to be a blogger for the 2011 Women of Faith – Over the Top conference. My heart was moved and felt led to grab for it. I wanted a chunk of time to reconnect with God.

When I received the email accepting me as a blogger, it felt as if God had stopped and acknowledged my desire to be refreshed spiritually – as if He were looking at me.

Okay – it may seem silly to compare a miraculous healing to a chance to go to a conference but I do need a form of healing. I need one in my heart and, for me, conferences like Women of Faith provide an opportunity for us to be touched and encouraged by God in our own personal way. 

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New Endings and Old Beginnings

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  I didn’t mean to take a hiatus from blogging. It sort of just...happened. Kind of like how becoming the foursquare mayor of your local McDonald’s and Chipotle just…happens. You don’t set out to become the mayor but a conflux of proximity, deliciousness, and competitiveness converge and suddenly you find yourself making a point to eat there simply so you can “win”. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go visit www.foursquare.com. You’ll either instantly get it or instantly hate it. You can probably guess which side of the spectrum I’m on.)

Anyway, my hiatus evolved as I began wrapping up some projects I’ve been involved with over the last couple years - the most important of which was my Master’s Degree.

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Knowing the Difference: Service vs. Slavery

It’s important to know the difference between service and slavery. Slavery is at the heart of dysfunctional families. When people serve others because they are forced to do so, freedom to truly serve is lost. Slavery hardens the heart. Slavery creates anger, bitterness, and resentment.

Listen to the emotional pain of a divorced single: “I served him for twenty years. I have waited on him hand and foot. I have been his doormat while he ignored me, mistreated me, and humiliated me in front of my friends and family. I don’t hate him. I wish him no ill, but I resent him and I no longer wish to live with him.” That wife has performed acts of service for twenty years, but they have not been expressions of love. They were done out of fear, guilt, and resentment.

A doormat is an inanimate object. You can wipe your feet on it, step on it, kick it around, or do whatever you like with it. It has no will of its own. It can be your servant, but not your lover. When you treat another person as an object, you preclude the possibility of love. Manipulation by guilt (“If you loved me, you would do this for me”) is not the language of love. Coercion by fear (“You will do this or you will be sorry”) has no place in love.
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All Touches Are Not Created Equal

When we were babies, before we could even crawl or eat solid food, we thrived on love. Numerous research projects in the area of child development have come to the same conclusion: Babies who are held, hugged, and touched tenderly develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact. The same is true of the elderly. Visit some nursing homes and you will find that the residents who receive affirming touch have a more positive spirit and generally do better than those who are not touched. Tender, affirming physical touch is a fundamental language of love.

What is true for infants and the elderly is also true for single adults of all ages. Whether we acknowledge it or not, the body is made for touching. Physical touch can make or break a relationship. It can communicate hate or love. If the person’s primary love language is physical touch, your touches will speak much louder than the words “I love you” or “I hate you.” Withhold touches and you will isolate and raise doubts about your love. A tender hug communicates love to any child, but it shouts love to the child whose primary love language is physical touch. The same is true of single adults. When you listen to a friend who is feeling down and answer with a clasp of the shoulder, you declare loudly, “I love you. I care, and you are not alone.”

A touch of love may take many forms. Since touch receptors are located throughout the body, lovingly touching another individual almost anywhere can be an expression of love. Keep in mind that all touches are not created equal. Learn from the person whom you are touching what he or she perceives as a loving touch.

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"For Me!?" Recognizing Gifts as Someone's Primary Love Language

For some people, receiving gifts is their primary love language. It is what makes them feel loved most deeply. Amanda, who had been dating Ben for nine months, was very vulnerable when she said, “I want you to know that birthdays and special holidays are very important to me. I remember crying for two days when my father forgot my sixteenth birthday. I knew he didn’t love my mother; that’s why he left. But on my birthday, I found out he didn’t love me either.”

If Ben has been listening, he has just discovered that Amanda’s primary love language is gifts. If he wants her to feel loved, he will not only remember birthdays and other holidays, but he will give her gifts on a hot August day and a chilly January afternoon—anytime, for no special reason, just to express his love. These “no strings attached” gifts mean the most and have the greatest impact.

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Can You Hear Me? Steps to Become a Sympathetic Listener

1. Maintain eye contact when you are listening to someone. This keeps your mind from wandering and communicates that the person has your full attention. Refrain from rolling your eyes in disgust, closing your eyes when they give you a low blow, looking over their head, or staring at their shoes while they are talking.

2. Don't engage in other activities while you are listening to another individual. Remember, quality time is giving someone your undivided attention.

3. Listen for feelings. Ask yourself: "What are this person's emotions right now?" When you think you have the answer, confirm it. For example, "It sounds like you are feeling disappointed because I forgot..." That gives the person a chance to clarify his/her feelings. It also communicates that you are listening intently to what they are saying.

4. Observe body language. Clenched fists, trembling hands, tears, furrowed brows, and eye movement may give you clues as to what the person is feeling. Sometimes body language speaks one message while words speak another. Ask for clarification to make sure you know what the person is really thinking and feeling.

5. Refuse to interrupt.

6. Ask reflective questions.

7. Express understanding. The person needs to know that he/she has been heard and understood.

8. Ask if there is anything you might do that would be helpful. Notice, you are asking, not telling the person what she ought to do. Never give advice until you are sure the other person wants it.

 

Do you have a friend that you always go to?  What about how they listen draws you to them?  What can we learn from their example?

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