Jun 27, 2017

Project Love: Your Turn

People are everywhere.  The world is full of them!  And I'm not just talking about outside your house in the "real world."  No, they can find you when you're hiding in your closet trying to be alone.  They'll ask you questions through the bathroom door.  They'll send you texts and emails all day long.  You can't escape unless you ditch social media and escape to the moon.  (and they might find you there too!)

So what to do with them?  How can we have relationships that really matter?  What does a godly relationship even look like?

We've barely scratched the surface of the second greatest commandment:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  This topic of love and relationships seems endless.  It includes family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and all the billions of people on earth.  It includes arguments, offences, harsh words, unkindness, forgiveness, patience, and love.  Even the Bible says that,
"On these two commandments (love the Lord your God and love your neighbor) hang all the Law and the Prophets." - Matthew 22:40
So far we've taken a tiny step into this endless frontier.  There's so much more we could add, and I hope to get to that in future posts.  But now I want to hear from you.




It might be a waste of time for you to read posts on topics you don't struggle with.  (I say "might" because God can work in amazing, unexpected ways!)  I want to talk together before we go forward.

Here's some things to think about together:

Relationships.  What are your greatest strengths and struggles?  Is it hard to have meaningful relationships with parents, siblings, friends, or someone else?

Are there underlying attitudes that we should address before moving on to other human relationships?  Perhaps pride, being argumentative, judging others, un-forgiveness, or selfish thoughts?

How have you been seeking God and striving to love and encourage others more?  How can you continue to take steps towards that?  How can we, as fellow Believers, be praying and encouraging you?

It's your turn, dear reader.  =)

21 comments:

  1. Wow, the timing of this is perfect! I've just spent the day the city, where there are so many people and so little care and connection. It's so sad, because you can also see how much these people need love.

    Hmm, relationships. Yes, I find it hard to show love to others sometimes - knowing what to do or say, and worrying if it will come across as I intend. But God's been teaching me trust on that one - listening for His prompts, and then acting on then even if it takes me out of my comfort zone. (I'm still learning how though, lest that sounds like I have it together!) Another thing I've found helpful with closer relationships is finding out the other person's love language so I can show love to them in a way that means the most to them. But anyway, I'm looking forward to hearing other's thoughts on showing love in relationships! It's definitely an area I need to grow in!

    Those underlying attitudes you mentioned are quite convicting, Hosanna! I know they're all present in me. I think it's important to be striving to better in those areas, taking them to God, etc, but we can't wait until we're perfect reaching outto others. And sometimes God has this miraculous way if working to improve our character as we work for others. Do you think there are times though, when we should address those things before we take on relationships?

    Honestly, I find the blogging community and posts and discussion like these to be a blessing and encouragement though I'm sure there a lots of other ways too. I'm looking forward to hearing everyone else's ideas - and hearing how I can support you guys. :)

    Thanks for this post, Hosanna! I'm sorry if I've talked too much - this is a long comment!

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    1. Jessica, I think the same thing every time I go to town! There are so many broken people, so many frowns...and yet no one talks to each other or even offers a slight smile. It feels wrong to go to stores and not offer love to those around you. Aren't we supposed to radically love as Christ loves? And yet we can eat at a restaurant only three feet away from someone and never speak to them?! I feel like we need to remove this seclusion that's so popular and reach out. Love!

      Ohhh...that's hard. Listening to those prompts feels like dangerous ground. ;) And sometimes I have doubts..."was it just a thought from my brain or was it a prompt from God?" Argh. But you know, I don't think we can go wrong in sharing love. What are your thoughts on that? If we feel prompted but aren't sure if it's of Christ should we follow through anyway?

      I agree - love languages are helpful...I need to grow in that area as well and be diligent to love others more.

      Yes, we shouldn't wait to reach out to others until we have mastered every underlying attitude. But I think it's good to be aware of them, especially when we are practicing loving others to make sure that we are doing it out of a pure heart. Are there times when we should address them before we take on relationships? It probably depends on the issue. If it's something that might hinder their relationship with God or end up hurting them, we should fix the root issue before continuing. But, as you said, God can improve our character while we reach out to others. =) I mentioned a few underlying issues...but which ones stand out to you as heart attitudes we struggle with most?

      Well, this was also a long response. =) Thank you for sharing your heart; I'm also interested in hearing more on this subject that is so difficult to master. =) Praise God, when we are weak He is strong!

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    2. Totally agreed. I went to the store with a few family members this morning, and it's fun seeing all the people--but seriously, sometimes I wonder, what's going on in those people's lives? You are right, we need to CARE about people, and reach out!! How can we do that today?
      It does feel like dangerous ground, because we truly don't know what God is going to call us to do--what if it is something 'scary'? Really though, dangerous ground should only scare Satan. It is hard, I agree, to know whether or not something is a prompt from God. I used to be wayyyy more confused about that, and I think we get more and more discernment the closer we grow to the Lord. Hmmm...if we are not sure whether or not it is a prompt from God, I think we should search Scripture, and if we are genuinely seeking earnestly, God will show us what we need to know.
      You both had great thoughts, ladies! I feel so blessed and privileged to know both of you--at least virtually. <33
      -Ariel

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    3. Your thoughts express where I am, Ariel. =) I can't help but ask myself, "What is that person's story? Where are they in life?" Sometimes we can only wonder...but we can also make a difference. I've tried to do that in several different ways (this might come up in a blog post one of these days...). Giving out simple complements like, "I just wanted to tell you that you're beautiful" can make a person's day. (Try it. There have been some amazing responses!) Or giving someone a bouquet of flowers with a Gospel track can make them smile AND give them the Truth of Jesus!! Be creative, Ariel. And make a difference. =)

      The topic of Do hard things! -> has been on my heart recently. Life is scary. It's hard. But several verses in Isaiah have opened my eyes to realize that my God is bigger and stronger and loves us so much. ♥ Why should we be afraid? (see Isaiah 40 or Isaiah 43:1-7)

      It's encouraging to talk to like-minded sisters of the faith. ♥

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  2. For me, patience is a hard thing with loving others... because 1 Corinthians 13 says that love is patient and I tend to struggle with that sometimes. So I've been working on my patience recently.

    On Sunday morning in church then my youth group, we break up into smaller groups to dig deeper and we were talking about how to put our faith in action right now, not waiting until tomorrow... we are to love here and now.

    I have a suggestion for anyone who wants to show love to someone (it's really easy to do):
    Simply send an encouraging text. I've done this.... I've sent encouraging texts about what God has been teaching me to unbelievers, and I've received some great responses! And I text a fellow sister in Christ what I've been learning and we trade back and forth about Jesus.

    And selfless love is hard... the sacrificial selfless love Jesus showed is hard. I've been working on being more selfless and it's hard.

    Anyway, thanks for the post!

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    1. Yes, having patience is hard at times. Looking at 1 Corinthians 13 is a good way to evaluate if we truly love others. Are we patient, kind, not envious, etc? (basically, the entirety of selfless love like Christ showed us!) Being patient is especially hard when it comes to little siblings. How have you been able to put patience into practice and strive to love as Christ does?

      "Love here and now". So true! And I like your idea of how to love others by sending them an encouraging message. =) Random acts of kindness like that is a great way to point ourselves and others towards Christ! I'll have to remember that idea and love others through it. =)

      I agree: it is hard. But Sarah, nothing is impossible with Christ. =)

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    2. I posted a blog post today (sarahkeatts.blogspot.com) about being a light for Christ... and we are to be His light and shine love on the dark world around us.
      And yes, nothing is impossible with Jesus Christ

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    3. Thank you for sharing! I'll hop on over to your blog and read it right away. =)

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  3. An endless frontier alright! It's hard to even know where to begin when faced with such an all-encompassing subject. I'm grateful for you questions to start us off and give us a bit more direction. ;)

    Recently, I've been considering my words, and how I'm generally much more excited about sharing my thoughts than I am about hearing others. I'm quick to speak and slow to listen (I thought I didn't struggle with this, but now I'm realizing how wrong I was!)

    That said, it's not as simple as a surface word problem, but a heart problem. Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. This seems to me like a direct link back to the passage in Philippians 2 that I've been camping out on. God wants me not to look to my own interests, but to the interests of the others. If I had genuine, heartfelt concern for the interests of others before my own interests, then I probably wouldn't have the problem of talking too much; I'd me more interested in listening.

    And that, to me, seems like an expression of loving others as myself.

    What about you, Hosanna? What other Bible passages or ideas have you been considering alongside and pairing with the second greatest command? What links has God surprised you with?

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    1. I've found the same thing true in my own life, sadly. Often we half-listen to someone only for the purpose of responding! How selfish yet common.

      Perhaps part of that can be solved by realizing that other people have stories and truth to share. We can gain much by listening and little by speaking. As you said, it is a heart problem. (selfishness and pride, perhaps?) Philippians 2 is one of my favorite chapters. It gives such a good picture of Jesus' humility and tells us to do the same. Something we definitely need to put into action...

      Recently I've been "camped" in Philippians 3, actually. ;) At the end it mentions people who "set their minds on earthly things", which reminds me of the importance of having an eternal mindset. This encompasses so much of life. Do I read a book or spend time with a sibling? Do I do this or that? I think if we have that eternal mindset, we will see others in a new way and live out Love.

      But truthfully, this area hasn't been on my heart as much recently. I've been distracted. That's my fault, and I need to go back and re-purpose to love others as He does. Chatting here with you has helped kindle my desire to seek deeper relationships with others again - so thank you!

      A more personal question: In the area of being quick to speak and slow to listen, is it more of a problem for you with certain people? Siblings vs. friends? I find it hard at times to really listen to little siblings (who love to chatter away!), but their words should be valued as those of my dearest friends...because they too have lives of purpose. God does not show favoritism; should we?

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    2. I love the conclusion that you drew: "Perhaps part of that can be solved by realizing that other people have stories and truth to share." The proverbs have so much to say about being slow to speak and measuring our words.

      That's true! Even the type of mindset we have - eternal or earthly - relates back to the way we love (or don't love) others. Can you think of any specific instances recently in which you faced a choice between two activities and learned something about loving others?

      Thank God! :) I thank Him too that sometimes He chooses to use me to accomplish His purposes. He uses you, too, Hosanna! He's used you many times to challenge me, not because your words are necessarily a direct challenge, but the things that you write about convict me.

      Let me think... I haven't lived with my sibblings for a couple of months now, and I don't see them very often. (That makes me more inclined to listen to them these days) But it's true that when I was around them more often, I tended to dismiss their perspectives more readily - if not verbally, than in the safety of my own mind. With regards to how that compares to others... I think that I *am* more inclined to consider their viewpoints than I am with my siblings. That's not to say I do well. I'm comparing how I relate to friends with how I relate to my siblings - not with how I relate to God's standards. They're so high! Unattainable! I thank the Father for considering Jesus' sacrifice as acceptable for me.

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    3. Oh yes, Proverbs speaks often about that. Being slow to speak. =)

      Hmm...I'm not sure if I can think of a specific instance to share. But when I have taken the time to consider which activities are more important in light of eternity, they usually end up being ones that involve siblings. That might be playing with a little sister or having a serious discussion with a brother. And, as the day draws to a close, I can typically see how that decision made a difference. But it's difficult to make every decision wisely as He would have us do. Have you faced this area (eternal compared to the temporal) much in the area of working outside your home? How does choosing one over the other affect you most?

      That's interesting, and I've heard similar things from others. It seems like when someone moves out of the home, it is easier for siblings to appreciate them more, strange as it sounds. Perhaps this is because they see the hole their sibling leaves. All the more reason for us to love right here at home. Although it might be hard, it is very worth it.

      Unattainable. A perfect word to describe God's standards. But it also reminds me of a passage in the Bible that describes God's love. David wrote, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me." Christ's forgiveness and love for us is beyond limits. It stretches across our sin-eroded heart and loves us just the same. "What manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1)

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    4. Interesting that your siblings are a common theme when it comes to eternal vs temporal. Maybe you just notice it more because siblings have been on your mind... or maybe this is God showing or teaching you something. Teaching you *and* me something. As for me, I've seen this a few times when someone in my family, usually my sister, invites me to stay and have dinner with them when I had just been intending to drop by for half-an-hour. It's almost certainly a choice between spending time with them and getting to bed early (which is something that is generally desirable to me). Because of the ministry my family is involved in, eating dinner with them means going to bed later than I would if I was at home. However, I've found it pretty easy to choose my family... because I miss them.

      Not only is it easier for - as others have told you - your siblings to appreciate you more once you've moved out... it's easier for me to appreciate *them* more. Not to mention my parents. Having had one (or both - I can't remember) of your older brothers live away from home, how would you say their absence affected you and family dynamics in general?

      Huh! What a wonderful thought! "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me." What an incredibly wonderful, lofty knowledge. And yet God came to us! "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me." <3

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    5. Indeed, it does helps that relationships have been more on my mind...and being a bit freer during the summer makes me realize how easy it is to spend time on less important things than family relationships. Either way, I hope God uses this mindset to build stronger relationships.

      You mentioned how it's easier to spend time with family because you miss them. Perhaps that's why you might appreciate siblings and parents more after being out of the house. Instead of being irritated by their "flaws", you miss their strengths. Yet how easy it is to forget their strengths when you live under the same roof. =(

      As I mentioned, I haven't had my brothers gone for long amounts of time. But I have certainly noticed their absence affecting the house. When my second oldest brother was gone the whole family was quieter. We didn't have the same joy of life and laughter. And it's funny how things change with my oldest brother...we never know how to fix any technical problems without him. xD We also miss his serious conversations and eternal perspective. There are so many other little things we miss...but I don't want this comment to get overly long. =)

      Each sibling has their own unique talents and abilities. It's like the Church. We need to appreciate and share with each other for the home to run smoothly. If we have tension with siblings, perhaps we are failing to appreciate the gifts God has given them.

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    6. I wonder why we tend to gravitate towards the trivial things. Maybe because they require less effort? And even though relationships are more rewarding in the long-run, perhaps we fail to appreciate the richness of the reward?

      I once worked with a team (at the Bible school in Japan) where new staff members arrived every few weeks and old ones left. One observation that I was struck by over and over was the way the team dynamics changed every. single. time. That seems like just what you were saying about your brothers. Whenever one of them left for some time, the dynamic of the entire family shifted as a result. It's amazing how complex of a thing people and relationships are.

      I like what you said: "If we have tension with siblings, perhaps we are failing to appreciate the gifts God has given them." I need to remember this. Like, I need to take action on it: look for my siblings' God-given strengths and acknowledge them, to myself and to their face. Thanks for the thought. :)

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    7. Perhaps because trivial things are easier and more fun. Yes, deeper relationships have richer rewards, but at the moment sometimes we just want to enjoy ourselves. Talking about deep subjects makes us squirm.

      Oh yes! People really make a difference in our emotions and atmosphere. I've seen how even individual friends change my outlook in life. What a blessing.

      We've talked here for a while, and it's been good discussing how words and relationships are either earthly or eternal. Now let's put that into practice. ;)

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    8. A very fitting conclusion. Let's put it into practice.

      I had to go back and review what the original discussion was, but now I'm set to be intentional about listening to others today. Hopefully tomorrow morning will find you set to do the same. :)

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  4. I know I need to love others more, especially people who irritate me, but it's really hard. Unfortunately, I haven't tried to do this much. :( I need the Holy Spirit to soften my heart, and I need to be willing for it to be softened! :)

    https://tizziestidbits.wordpress.com

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    1. Hello, and welcome to my blog, Tizzie. =) That's very true... God can work in us, but we need to open our hearts and let Him change us from the inside out! It's two-fold; God does the working but we have to ask Him and also press on towards the prize of the upward calling of God.

      How can we take practical steps towards loving others more, Tizzie, while still allowing Him to work through us? =)

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  5. WOOOOAH I guess I'm a little late to the party. xD BUT YAYYYY ANOTHER DISCUSSION POST! ^_^
    Yep, it can be really hard to build good relationships with people. Not just because you don't feel like doing it, but also because it might be hard to be FAITHFUL in establishing that strong relationship, particularly if it isn't a personal relationship (like if it is just over blogs, or if you have a pen-pal, etc.). But LOVE IS FAITHFUL. <33
    Taking steps towards encouraging and loving others more...most of the time, at least for me, my loving comes in the little spontaneous choices, however small they may be...like giving one of my onion rings my sister, volunteering to baby-sit my little sister or to clean the trampoline, doing a chore for my sister...that sort of thing. How can y'all be encouraging and praying for me--well, number one, pray for courage! Love can take courage, and I have a habit of being pretty timid when it comes to doing things out of the norm. Also, PLEEEAASE keep me accountable (like if I say I'm gonna do something you can remind me to do it or ask me if I did it) and nevernevernever feel like you are getting annoying. We sisters in Christ are supposed to keep each other accountable, amiright? ;) I think I'm going to try loving by spending more quality time with the Lord, and being faithful in things I have to do--like piano practice, writing letters, reading my driver's manual (eep!), and e-mailing people. Please let me know how I can pray for you as well (or any of you other girls reading this comment).
    -Ariel

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    1. And I'm late to responding, so I suppose we're even. ;)

      Why did you have to remind me of that? Love is faithful. Oh, but how hard. It seems like friendships can have ups and downs. We spend a lot of time together...and then we kinda slack off. This is true in my life with online friends, siblings, and (*sigh*) responding to blog comments quickly. But you know what's encouraging? GOD IS ALWAYS FAITHFUL. ♥♥

      If most of your encouraging and loving others consists of small, spontaneous acts, then would it make sense to not just pray for more love but actually develop a loving HEART, a heart that wants to be constantly serving others? We can do things for people all the time. But truly LOVING them is different. "You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving." -Amy Carmichael ♥

      Ariel, I will be keeping you accountable. And (to my fault) I can be too honest and outspoken sometimes...so prepare yourself. ;) hehe. So if you respond here or on another post, tell me...how have you been spending more time with Christ and being faithful to practice piano, write letters and emails, and read your driver's manual? (Driving - screams with you!)

      I would appreciate prayer that I would just do. it. I've been better at loving strangers (which is very much not my personality), but loving inside the home can be hard. I need to step up to the plate and do the thing in His power. Love. Encourage. Hug. ;) Thank you, my friend. ♥

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