You’re Not Alone {Coffee For Your Heart}

Holley has the sweetest little link-up going on on her blog right now, it’s called Coffee For Your Heart. Every week, readers and bloggers and friends meet together sharing posts about a topic Holley picks to prompt us to write encouraging words to others. It’s magical to see people come together sharing encouragement, love, and kindness each week. This week, her Coffee For Your Heart topic is “You’re Not Alone”. It’s really a beautiful thing to talk about, something I don’t think we say so much as assume sometimes. “You’re not alone” can be one of those unspoken truths, whispered in the embrace of a loved one of the laughter of a friend or the smile of a family member. It’s even gently spoken in the wagging of a puppy’s tale. But it’s something we can forget to say to each other. This week I’m remembering just how far a thoughtful card, a call, and even an email from a loved one can go. There’s enough love in small gestures to brighten a gloomy day, to bring a smile to a face and to a heart, and to let someone know you’re along side them. It’s a gift to give and to receive such loving kindness. I think we’re made to share love, not just on special occasions but on Wednesdays, too. Holley asks us to write about what we need to hear when we feel alone. I think what we need to hear is sometimes unspoken. We need to hear laughter, a heaping mix of our own and a loved one’s. We need to hear songs that are brave enough to break the silence and sing about hope in the midst of pain. We need to hear the phone ring. We need to hear the doorbell ring. We need to hear the voices of loved ones. But there are words, too, and I think that they are this: We are more loved than we can understand by a God big and bold and beautiful enough to fill our every loneliness. He sees our emptiness and longs to flow through those places with eternal love. We are loved. We get stuck in moments and feel that they define us, that they tell us who we are and where we are going, but we are part of a bigger story. Hope is bigger than this moment. In time this aching will pass and when we look back we will remember the joy and love and friendship that traveled with us. It will shine brighter than the memories of pain. Gratitude will shape us. Redemption will win. We can rest knowing God holds not only our hearts, but our lives too. And while we are on this side of heaven, we are given a family. We are all in this human experience together. We’re here together on this roller-coaster ride of life. We all ache in the shadows of loneliness and we all beam with delight in the presence of love ones. We’re made to share life together. We’re not meant to strive for a life of independence; it hardens our hearts to our needs and the needs of those around us. We’re made to be sincere and tender and authentic, even to our neediness. We’re made to share. We’re made for the warmth of embraces and the jokes of friendship and the joy of companionship and the heart-healing grace of fellowship. We’re made to give and we’re made to receive. It’s okay to ask for help. Life isn’t something we’re meant to walk through alone. I pray that you won’t believe the lie that you should be tougher, that you should be able to experience life without aching in loneliness. Your tenderness and love are sweet treasures. They deserve to be met with love and light from God and others, and I pray that you will see that illuminating you each and every day. You’re not alone in this. There are people who feel the things you feel, they have empathy and compassion and tenderness for your wounds. Please don’t hide away in the shadows. There is sunshine for you, turn to its warmth.

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;

~Isaiah 40:11

 

{If you are feeling alone and in need of support, InCourage Community Groups are hosting two online community groups for chronic illness, HOPE for Chronic Illness and Living With Chronic Illness. Take a peak! You never know what gift may come out of a special group. If you’d like to read Holley’s You’re Not Alone post, you can by clicking here.}

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When You Feel You’ve Exhausted The Search of a Cure

Have you ever been graced with a sweet moment of companionship within a Bible story? A moment where the story relates to you so deeply you feel as if God was speaking to you through it? It’s such a lovely kind of moment. A sense of awe wraps your heart as your souls relaxes into the peace of His presence. A few weeks ago, I had one of those moments. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell the tale, but Mark shares a few special details that melted my heart. Let me share:

A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. (Mark 5:25-29)

As the story continues, Jesus turns around in the crowd in search of the woman. When they meet, he tells her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

Do you ever feel like this woman? Going from doctor to doctor, trying medicine after medicine and remedy after remedy, trying diets and herbs and supplements, traveling to specialists, having lists of tests, but never finding a cure? I find this story deeply encouraging for a few reasons and I hope you will, too. This woman is certainly an inspirational testament of faith, as she has suffered for many years yet still kept hopeful and faithful, even among disappointments. But another beautiful thing is that God’s love is so transforming that it doesn’t matter how complicated or hopeless our diseases seem this side of heaven, He can cure each of them instantly. He didn’t give this woman a form to fill out about her symptoms and ask her about her diagnosis. He sure didn’t need to do that! She believed, He loved, and healing came at once. It certainly doesn’t mean we should stop trying our treatments, because surely He can use those for His good, too! But it does mean that even if we try and try and nothing seems to help, it’s never hopeless, for He will come again and all pain and sorrow will fall away. So we take our supplements and try our treatments and see our doctors and trust that healing can come in any way, but we know that even if it takes longer than we expected, we’re drawing nearer and nearer each and every day.

When You Feel Misunderstood

When you share your heart with someone who doesn’t yet understand your suffering,

When someone slips in a comment that wounds you deeper than they intended,

When you feel a pain stronger than you can express,

May you see God’s merciful hands outstretch before you.

May your heart find peace and safety in the One Who understands your pain not only because He’s carried you through it,

But because He’s felt it Himself.

May you be comforted by the One Who has endured every hardship, every heartache, every agony, all to hold you closer.

May you feel the empathy of the God Who loves you in and out, up and down, and every space in between.

May you feel the encouragement of the One who not only endured such pain, but conquered it.

May you know you are not alone.

So hold on to the ones that care deeply, and let them nurture your heart and soul.

And be patient with those who don’t yet understand.

For despite any hurtful comment they may utter, this truth sweet still remains:

Just because someone doesn’t understand, doesn’t mean your pain is any less significant.

May this truth soothe your soul.

When Loss is Gain

A few weeks ago, one of my closest friends and I went on a tiny adventure to a church in a neighboring town. It was a night of worship and a message for college aged kids, and the large and lovely church was filled to the brim with twenty-somethings. The summer series had just begun, and it was all about Godly relationships.

The speakers were a married couple, and they spoke about the significance of self-sacrificial relationships. Kemper began with the example of a fuse; the component of a structure that is designed to fail so that the rest of the machine doesn’t. He spoke about how when an overwhelming electrical current hits, the fuse is designed to take that current so that the other parts of the mechanism don’t have to. The fuse gives itself up, by design, for the sake of the machine. He then turned this example to us and spoke about how we need to let go of certain parts of ourselves for the sake of our relationships. Both he and Laura were careful to explain that we need to be attentive to what we are willing to sacrifice. We need to let go of the negatives, not the positives. We need to let go of the things that hinder God’s glory in the relationship, not make decisions just to please the other person. I couldn’t have worded it any more beautifully and cleverly as they did that night. Their words deeply touched my heart. The truth was so refreshing; so soothing. It’s stayed with me, and it’s reached toward other parts of my life, as well. Because I can’t help but think that if we need to let go of negative things like selfishness, fears, and control to have graceful, nurtured, and healthy relationships with others (and we know we do!), don’t we need to do the same for our own well-being, too?

It may seem to be a strange question. How can we be selfless, for the sake of ourselves? But let’s put it another way:

“…Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” ~Hebrews 12:1

Because when the stress hits, and the choices come, and the days ache, what are we releasing and what are we gripping? Because, my dear friend, if we are clenching our pride and we are releasing our peace, we really must reconsider our choice. What is it that hinders, that so easily entangles us? Are we willing to let go?

Are we willing to let go of the fear of the unknown, so that we can hold on our faith in our unfailing, all-loving Christ?

Are we willing to let go of our prideful desire to do everything ourselves, so that we can accept the grace and hospitality of others?

Are we willing to let go of trying to accomplish tasks we know we are not well enough to, so that we can spare ourselves energy much needed for the things we can do?

Are we willing to let go of the lies that we are incapable, so that we can rejoice over our accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem?

I pray that our view of our relationships and ourselves would be refreshed with the gentle and powerful reminder. We are designed with a vast, intimate potential for intentional, faithful, redeemed relationships and that comes from letting ourselves be freed from all the lies that have stood in the way. This starts in our own hearts. Let us be kinder to ourselves today.

May I ask you this: what are you willing to give up today? And what will you gain when you lose it?

(If you would like to learn more about the message I referenced, please view the “Vintage Ministries” podcast: Love and Nunchuck’s #2 by Kemper and Laura Lewis.)