Forgiving and Loving

One of the hardest and seemingly easiest commands Jesus gave us was to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus understood that if we carried resentments and bitterness in our hearts, it was ourselves we were hurting. He also understood that if we shared our resentments with others in our lives that negativity would lead us to destroy each other with our hatred and anger.

We have a choice, spread our angers and resentments with those around us or
share a grace and hope that encourages others toward forgiveness and love.

We have all had our hearts trampled on at some point in our lives. Some of have been wounded in ways unmentionable. Some have been hurt by people we trusted and whom we thought loved us. Some have been mistreated at work and taken advantage of. We have all had people disappoint us or fail to live up to the standards we expect. We have all been “wronged” or slighted by someone, even if unintentional.

Consider that some who hurt us are wounded children who have yet to face the trauma in their lives and still suffer. Perhaps the person who hurt you is replicating a behavior foisted upon them. Maybe they were never taught how to treat another with respect and love. Even the monsters may not know why they do what they do. It is possible that they have not yet been blessed to know forgiveness and a supernatural love in their lives.

I’m not saying that people who commit atrocities against another shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions– they should. What I am saying is: you should not carry their sin or negative behavior with you and allow it to destroy you as well. Rather, pray for a changed heart for yourself. Pray that you will see the person who hurt you through God’s eyes– with sadness and hope for redemption. And pray that through your loving Christ-like behavior they will be inspired to seek forgiveness and transformation. Pray that others will be changed in a positive way when they witness your behavior.

When anger and resentment bubble up in us, pray that we see the wounded
child God sees and pray that we act with love and grace toward them that
they may see God’s love.

Let this be the day you begin to let go of the anger, bitterness, and resentment you have toward another. Let this be the day that you see God in them rather than the behavior that has wounded you. Let this be the day you stop complaining about all the wrong things they have done or do, and ask God to show you who he sees. Let this be the day you stop feeling persecuted and realize the freedom God wants for you to have in your life. Let this be the day you reflect back God’s love to all in your life. Seek justice and when you do, pray for the one you impeach so that you will be set free from the bonds of their actions. These are the first steps taken to move through the fire and into fresh air. Breathe in all that is good and breathe out all that could trap you.

Be set free.

“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Galatians 5:14-15

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In Need of Inspiration

My search for something meaningful or purposeful about my life led me down many paths, and not all of them were roads I should have traveled. I tried devoting myself to work and taking jobs that I thought would make me feel important or relevant. I tried relationships that I thought would meet all my needs but they never filled all the gaps. I tried a different sort of ‘religion’ in Scientology, and that only confused my life more. I tried drinking and drugging in my younger days to fit in and that was all pretend living too. I tried just being “spiritual” but failed to find any real direction and ended up listening to my own messed up self for guidance. It took me several tries over the years to come to a new point in my life:

“God blesses those who realize their need for him” (Matthew 5: 3—The Beatitudes, NLT)

I was looking in all the wrong places! The NIV version says “Blessed are the poor in spirit” while the Message says, “You’re blessed when you feel you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” I was like a beggar trying every new spiritual movement out there in the hopes of feeling fulfilled in my life. I knew Jesus. I grew up with Jesus. I just didn’t think he was enough for me and I hungered for something more to make me feel relevant in this universe.

I didn’t need to be one with the universe—the same universe that God created. I needed to be one with the creator. I didn’t need to empty my head; I needed to breathe in the Holy Spirit and divine inspiration. I didn’t need to draw energy from another human; I needed to draw inspiration from God’s word to us and through a quiet time of prayer with him. I didn’t need a new religion, I needed to grow in my own faith—the one passed down through generations of believers. My dedication to hearing God’s word spoken for me led me to a spiritual awakening like no other.

I need God in my life. I need Jesus in my life. I need prayer and meditation in my life. I came to the end of my rope and God was waiting for me. Waiting to pick me up, dust me off, forgive me, and set me on a new course. For me, there is one God in whom I trust. Today I only look for ways to grow in that relationship and if work, relationships, spiritual groups, or things I put in my body don’t lead me in that direction, then I don’t need them.

Do you need something more in your life—something other than your own voice in your head? Are you looking for a new spiritual life? Do you want to experience a transformation that brings you peace and joy? Are you ready to step into the light and feel the warmth of the Holy Spirit? I encourage you to reach out to someone today that can guide you in that direction. Find a life coach, counselor or religious leader and tell them you are ready to start exploring this kind of spiritual life. I promise you will never be the same.

Blessings,
Maggie

Facing our Behavior

It isn’t easy to face the truth about ourselves and our behavior, yet failing to do so can cause our situation to grow from bad to worse. David, in Psalm 25, found that the more he resisted change the more his problems multiplied. He had to face the truth about his actions and behavior and be willing to seek God’s forgiveness if ever he were to move forward to live a life of purpose.

The more we sit with whatever negative behavior or thoughts we have; the more likely we are to continue to repeat our negative behavior. The more we stay where we are and refuse to “face the music” for our action, the more likely we are to add on in an attempt to cover up or to justify our conduct. Sooner or later these things will become unbearable. God will let us sit in our mess until we are ready to acknowledge our actions and the pain leads us to seek forgiveness and transformation. Forgiveness, however, is not enough unless we also commit to changing our lives.

I know on my journey out of the darkness it took reminders from people close to me that what I was doing was self-destructive. I needed friends to speak the truth into the situation, even when I did not want to hear what they had to say. Several bouts of broken hearts and depression finally led me to hear what they were saying and to seek professional help. As part of that professional help I found that God was walking with me and standing with open arms to accept me, to forgive me, and to transform my life. It took many years and much anguish, but today I can say that God has released the bonds that trapped me and I have been rescued from a devastating life style.

Have you found yourself stuck in a behavior or activity that is causing you anguish and keeping you from the things you should be doing with your life? It could be something as simple as using your credit cards to pay for things you want rather than paying off your bills and finding financial freedom. Maybe you are holding a grudge against someone and it colors not only your reaction to the person you think slighted you, but it also colors how you interact with other people. You may build walls to protect yourself and you may be missing a greater blessing. It could be as serious as needing to seek professional help with an addictive behavior—be it drugs, alcohol, food, or sex. Maybe you did something that was unethical and haven’t owned up to it yet, so you live in fear of being found out. Freedom comes with speaking truth and sharing.

Whatever is keeping you on the darker path, remember that God will not abandon us. He may let us suffer in our mess longer than we like, but when we reach out, he will be there. I learned for myself that the longer I stayed in destructive relationships, the sadder I became and the more I removed myself from relationships with my friends. Today I am humbled and blessed to be able to share with others just how God inspired me to change by letting me hurt so that I would ask for help. I hope today you will be motivated to seek help to change your life too.

© maggiemarcum.com

“My problems go from bad to worse. Oh save me from them all! Feel my pain and see my trouble. Forgive all my sins.” Psalm 25: 17-18 New Living Translation

Blind Spots

I am convinced that there is something wrong with the thermostat in my apartment. I have programmed it to warm up the apartment just before I get out of bed so that I’m not stepping into the freezing cold. It, however, seems to think it is much warmer than it actually feels—at least in my bedroom. So most mornings I get up and manually turn it up a couple of degrees to take the chill out of the air. Then I realize it is too late to warm up my bedroom because I’m already up and out of my comfy covers. I keep repeating this behavior, thinking this is the morning it won’t be so cold. Ha!

Blind spots. Those things we don’t see or aren’t willing to acknowledge about ourselves. My thermostat is reading the air near it. The living room area is much warmer than our bedrooms and so it doesn’t think it needs to do anything. Our bedrooms are its blind spots. I have a blind spot in setting the thermostat to match when I wake up. After several cold mornings I need to make an adjustment if I don’t want to get up in a cold room. And I STILL haven’t fixed it. Part of that might also be because I don’t want to accept that winter is coming and I hate the cold.

Life coach Georgia Shaffer says that we all have blind spots that impede our process forward. One of those areas in which we get stuck is not seeing the reality in our situation. In my example, the reality is nothing will change in my morning ritual unless I do something to change the environment and circumstances. We may be living out a fantasy in hopes that what we wish for will come true. It can be painful to look at our situations and realize that we are the problem. I have to accept that I don’t live in California and it is getting colder. In some cases, we may be stuck in a make-believe life because the alternative is unknown and scary.

Do you find yourself sitting in an office day after day and feeling that something just isn’t right with the business practices or the people you work for? Do you tell yourself, “it will get better” or “I’m just imaging things” and go home feeling drained a little bit sick. Are you waiting for a promotion or raise that is never going to come? We tell ourselves a lot of things out of fear when really we should move on. Are you refusing to see the reality of whatever situation is not benefiting you at work when it is time to find something new? Are you missing beneficial opportunities because you don’t know what to expect? Has someone told you this is as good as it gets and you are lucky to have this job?

Are you in a relationship with someone who doesn’t respect you or treat you well? Are you hanging on because most of the time it is ok and ignoring the other not so great times? Are you thinking that the longer you stay the better it will get—that they will come around? Are you compromising who you are so you won’t be alone? Reality check. Most times the person we are in a relationship with is not going to change. If you have shared your point of view and it is ignored, the chances are it is not going to get better. Are you willing to commit to someone that steals your joy and who only makes you happy if you ignore all the other stuff? Are you conceding who you are so that they will love you? Your blind spot may leave you committed to something that compromises who you are and stops your personal growth.

There are many areas in which we have blind spots. I can’t seem to lose weight but maybe that is because I am sneaking in candy bars. I can’t pay off my bills because I cheat on my budget. I am not getting promoted because there is no opportunity or I am not putting enough effort into the job. I can’t find a job I like but I am not putting much effort into preparing myself for a career. I’m not growing spiritually but I’m also not making time to read my Bible or to pray or go to church.

I can’t…I don’t…I won’t…Those are killer words that might indicate you have a blind spot that is holding you back. Ask yourself what the truth is in your situation. Ask yourself if you want it to be better. Ask yourself if you are really ready to stop ignoring the things that are clear to others and make a change. Are you negotiating which truths you want to believe in to the point that you don’t know what you value or what truth means anymore?

You matter. You are valuable and worthy of success and good things in your life. You have the right to make decisions about your happiness, even if there may be some pain along the way. You have the right to reset your thermostat and greet the day with hope and promise. You have the right to set a new positive course for your life. Start by being honest and pulling back the curtain to let the light into your blind spot. Breathe in the truth and make the changes that align you with that truth.

Blank Pages

There are days when I read the words and nothing seems to be there for me. I keep searching for some grand revelation, but there is no “ah ha” moment to be found. I try to take apart the phrases and find new meaning, but I can’t seem to find the inspiration I am seeking. And then, just when I think God is silent today, I turn the page and find that little passage that speaks to my emptiness.

Mustard Seed.

I am like an empty field waiting to have my soil turned over, a seed to germinate, and new growth to begin. Some days I need to keep watering the field and waiting to see what will happen. Those blank words are the seeds that fill my mind and heart. They are the words that prepare me for what lies ahead. Some days, the seeds just sit on the surface, waiting to be pushed deeper into the soil. And there are days when the soil is ready to absorb and suck in the nutrients that will spring forth new life.

Keep planting. Keep feeding. Keep preparing.

I have found that the more I take in, the better prepared I am when life twists me up. I am better prepared to face the unpredictability of life because the resources are growing inside me. I have a greater reservoir from which I can draw strength and courage when I need it. The good days outnumber the bad days because I have fed my faith with words of encouragement and love.

Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds come and find shelter among its branches.” Luke 13: 18-19 New Living Translation

I pray that your faith today will be like a mustard seed growing into a tree that provides comfort for others. I pray that the words you read encourage you and motivate you to action. Keep planting and keep growing.

Morning Light

From my prayer seat;
I watch the sun slice into darkness.
God’s reminder of a fresh start.
Each new moment,
replacing the one before.

Light fills the sky;
Shades of yellow replacing the grey.
God’s workmanship revealed again.
Lighting the path,
I seek his inspiration.

Words become alive;
Perfect knowledge guiding the day.
Inspiration feeding the soul.
God’s grace and peace,
Strengthening and encouraging

The sun is up;
Light pushing darkness out of the day.
Words bringing hope to move ahead.
The Son with us,
Sharing his love in all I do.

The path well lit;
The body and spirit well fed.
Called out from my sanctuary.
Into the day,
Anticipating Glory

© maggiemarcum.com

See Psalm 139 and Romans 1-2

Keeping the Faith

It can be hard to keep the faith and journey forward when life throws you a curve ball. I learned that I will soon be out of a job and am struggling to see God’s hand here. I know it is there, but when the sting is fresh, it is hard to believe life’s upsets are part of his plan. “Remain steadfast,” I tell myself when everything seems be unraveling before my eyes. “Persevere,” I see in my own writings. But: “how?” and “why?” and “what now?” cloud my thinking right now.

There is a verse in Proverbs 16:9 that says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” This goes with the old Yiddish saying: “Man plans and God laughs.” I was reminded by someone that God saw this coming even though I did not. It would be easy for me to become frantic about my finances and my grandiose plans for the coming months, but the truth is—those were my plans. There was a part of me that realized that I was riding on the edge again with some grand schemes I thought I could circumvent the process just a little to get what I want.

I…me…want…

You see, this is what happens when you step on the God road forward. The road may have bumps in it. You may steer clear to avoid them only to land in the ditch. Once back on the path, the road may smooth out for a while, until the next pothole throws you out of alignment. Correction follows correction. Gripping hard to the steering wheel of self will is only likely to send you flying in the wrong direction. Loosening the grip and gradually steering down the road of change is more likely to get you where you need to be. Hold firm instead to God’s promises and live to see the solutions unfold.

“We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” Proverbs 16:33

These bumps today lead me back to where I can trust that God will provide for all my needs. Jesus tells us not to “worry about everyday life” and to be content that we have enough to cover our basic needs. There is nothing to be gained from worrying about tomorrow. If I allow those thoughts to dominate my thinking, I will most likely derail my progress by thinking that all has been lost. I would much rather stay hopeful and believe that all these pieces fit together for my good, as he would have it.

I am learning that I have to adjust my plans to better align with God’s plans. I have learned not to doubt that there is purpose in these bumps. If I can remain steadfast, I can also get through to the other side of pain and discomfort much faster. God has hit me with the two-by-four again and has closed the door. I prayed and he answered. I dug my heels in when he said: “go” and now I am gone! It will all be good. I will grow. I will be stronger. And I will be right where God wants me to be. Where I have needed to be all along.

How do you deal with life’s curve balls? How do you keep moving forward when your plans have been upset? I would love you hear what scriptures help you keep on the path when life knocked you off.