Over four decades ago I became a mother for the first time; a beautiful daughter. There is nothing which compares to the joy of being able to embrace and cuddle your brand-new baby. As you gaze upon your offspring, after checking all their tiny fingers and toes, you desire to see if they have your traits or their father’s. Less than two years later I became a mom for the second time when I gave birth to a son. My joy was beyond description for our family was now complete.
I prayed not only for wisdom in being a Godly mother, but also for my children; that they would grow in the Lord and love Him and in turn love me as their mother. The physical and emotional love, support and sacrifice given to these gifts from God doesn’t always assure reciprocation.
Even when treating my children equally with all the devotion any mother could grant; one is caring, the other is not. For over 25 years, one of my children has seldom been in my life. That child doesn’t wish me well on special days, including Mother’s Day. The other child is caring, kind and loving.
I have thought about us as God’s children. Like my own children, some of God’s children love and care about having Him in their lives. For others, they are His children in name only. No matter how much love God gives, they walk away from Him. I have shed hours of tears over my estranged child and I’m sure God has grieved over His estranged children.
I will continue to love each of my children with my entire being, even when I realize one will reciprocate the love; the other will not. Leviticus 19:3 NKJ “Every one of you shall revere his mother…and keep my sabbaths…”
In my last blog I mentioned Frank Warren, the man that invited people to share their secrets with him. Over one million people accepted that opportunity. However, some of us become victims of secrets from family and friends. For many years my ex-husband carried three locked brief cases which he kept locked in his car. Because I wanted to trust and believe he was not keeping confidences from me, then I didn’t query his actions.
Nonetheless, I found his covert behavior rather perplexing. I had always been open with everything I said and did. If I believed my words or actions were not the wisest decision, my conscience didn’t allow me rest until I confided my “wrongs”.
Nonetheless those locked cases were disconcerting. It was one of my numerous counselors that persuaded me people who have nothing to hide don’t keep secrets locked away. The counselor’s persuasion of finding what was in the cases caused me to have more guilt from “prying open” one of those cases that just to allow my ex-husband to continue with his clandestine actions. Ruining the costly case which I had purchased as a wedding anniversary gift, was more devastating to me that trying to uncover the hidden secrets.
Not only did I have to divulge the damage to the costly gift, but also that I didn’t trust him. Of course, I replaced the case, but his anger remained for years to come. This was a time I should have heeded God and not man. God’s gift to us is that in His time, He will bring to light the things we need to know. When we learn the truth, it may be emotionally painful for us, but it will be in God’s time, not ours. Ecclesiastes 12:14 NKJ, “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil”.
I was watching a television segment this week on Frank Warren a man who is a “secret keeper”. This gentleman handed out postcards in 2005 citing you could send him your secrets on a postcard. Frank has now received over a million secrets for “safe keeping”. Over the years as people have confided in me, I have chosen to keep their secrets; never divulging matters deep within their hearts. When someone shares some of their innermost concerns with me, I value the confidence they have bestowed upon me to keep those secrets.
I’m an open book for my own life, as I never wanted to have something so deep and secretive that I had to hide it from others. I also cling tightly to the fact that God sometimes puts us through difficult times to use them for His honor and glory. That doesn’t mean we are to share our burdens with all we meet. However, I do feel that sharing with the appropriate person in the proper time, can truly be for God’s exaltation.
Over the years, I have shared with persons whom I valued enough to share, believing they respected me and would maintain these confidences. However, time and again they betrayed me by hastily touting what they had “learned”. Almost always this caused painful repercussions. I realized that if that person betrayed me, they had most probably deceived others. Being a “secret keeper” is a gift. Aren’t we grateful God sees and hears our hearts, so we don’t have to keep anything from Him? Proverbs 11:13 NIV “ A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret”.
In the 1990’s I registered for a Christian writer’s conference in Hannibal, MO. When submitting my application, I inquired if there might be another attendee from my locale. The conference staff were happy to oblige me with contact information for the other person. At that time, it was pre cell-phone and texting. Mrs. McEntire was not yet an e-mail user, so she and I chatted a couple of times via phone. A time and place were arranged to meet and carpool over to MO.
When I arrived to pick her up, she and her husband were most outgoing and personable, so the three of us agreed sharing a ride to the conference would be beneficial. From the onset the two of us conversed with much ease and pleasant interaction. However, shortly into our journey, my curiosity had the “best of me” and I just had to know if she was related to Reba. Yes, indeed she was. She was her aunt by marriage. Reba’s Daddy and Mrs. McEntire’s husband were brothers, owning very large ranches in OK.
Because I have forgotten Mrs. McEntire’s first name, for the sake of this story, I will call her Dorothy (as I think that might be what her first name was), she had much admiration for Reba and her talent. Dorothy shared of Reba’s father’s devotion to her and her siblings. Reba’s Daddy was a huge asset in bringing her name to the forefront. The rest is history, as I imagine all reading this blog know of Reba McEntire’s beautiful voice.
Each of us have been given gifts from God. Not all of us have the ability or financial advantages to allow us fame. Nonetheless, our talents can be used of God for His service. Some may serve quietly “behind the scenes”, while others enjoy being in front of the action. Whatever He has called us to do, do it for His glory to others. I Peter NKJ, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
As I had my quiet time before a very hurried and busy day, I was tearful as I read the words. The devotion spoke of finding a note in a mother’s bible where she had prayed for over 35 years for her son to return to the Lord. This son whom the mother had prayed for and I feel certain, wept for, was now ministering to another about their own wayward child. For over 50 years I have prayed for the man I called my husband; the man I gave my life to but chose to leave me, to begin an affair.
He hid the affair from me for over six years and when I learned of it, his rationale was that he had not loved me for most of our 44-year marriage. Yet, I continue to pray for him; not for the reconciliation of our lost relationship (as devastating and painful as that has been), but for the man I loved to return to God. For when one walks with the Lord, their yearnings are not focused on themselves or their pleasures, but to do what God desires of them.
I will pray for my ex-husband and others in my family that have turned their backs on God. As we know, God always answers our prayers. His answers are always “yes, no or wait”. I had to accept that my prayer for my marriage was a no, but it has not weakened my faith. God’s answers are not always our desires, but we can stand strong in our faith that he does hear us, and in His time, He will answer. Psalm 27:14 NKJ, Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart…”
Yesterday I shared about empathy as a gift to others. It is my belief when a person endures a deep emotional and/or physical heartache there is no greater need than to be supported and understood. When persons are physically injured, people see it and realize they are enduring much physical pain.
When a person’s pain is emotional, one may not understand their depth of agony is as great as the person suffering from physically injuries. If you don’t understand, withholding judgement and/or condemnation toward the unseen affliction is a gift. Certainly, there are situations when someone(s) can rectify the problem. In other circumstances only God can heal the wound. Kindness and compassion during such difficult times are some of the greatest gifts.
Some suffer from wounds so tremendous they will never be completely healed. Certainly, if the affliction is minor enough, in time the anguish will heal. Others are so unfathomable and the duration of life so brief, there is no time for healing. These are the impairments which only God can mend.
However, your words of compassion can do much for the broken hearted. The cliché of “if you can’t say something positive, say nothing at all” is imperative for the one whom is hurting. Proverbs 16:24 NLT Kind words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body
Have you ever had an extremely emotionally debilitating situation? Perhaps it was the loss of a child, mate or parent. Perhaps it was the loss of your home by way of a natural disaster or fire. Or perhaps you were in a horrific accident which left you severely injured or handicapped. The list goes on and on. When persons ask about you, you may share, for that situation has now imprinted you.
There are those individuals whom you meet that tell you to “shake it off”, “get over it”, etc. You may be trying diligently to overcome the situation, but it has drastically altered your life. An article in Psychology Today reminds us that “the process of sorting out our feelings when something is hurtful or destructive happens is a long one and will need support. That support does not include people suggesting this is a trial which will make us stronger-or any other clichés of that ilk.” Have you ever had someone say, “don’t you think it’s time to move on?” Such indifference suggests “that grief, mourning or recovery come with a use-by-date stamp. No one except the person suffering loss can decide when the moment is right to move on.” The gift of empathy is not judgmental.
If you don’t want to hear what someone has to share, then distance yourself from them. Egotistical sarcasm only brings the person enduring the heartache more sorrow. What if God had harsh judgement toward you when you shared your burdens with Him? I Thess. 5:11 (NIV) Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as fact you are doing.