Tag Archives: trust

Get Clean

Two of my friends at school made this for the iConfess video contest.  Check it out; it’s incredible:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI-l9ug7S7A&feature=channel_video_

 

Ask Mary: “Lost & Confused”

Question:

I’ve been in a serious relationship for almost the last two years. I love him, and I always will. Though no matter what he says, his actions don’t match. We have been through a lot together, and I mean a lot. He has told me from the time we decided we were going to be “officially” together that he wanted to support me raise a family and somewhat live happily ever after. Though in these two years his words don’t match his actions. He keeps saying ” I swear things are going to get better” or ” I’ll change baby, you’ll see. Every thing will be okay”… But it doesn’t change, and its not getting better.
I’m tired of always being stressed, having migraines, also stomach aches due to being so stressed. But because of all the things we have been through and the fact that we have a child, It making me feel like I should keep trying to believe him. Despite what all my friends and family say. I really wish that he would get it. Wake up in the early morning instead of at 1pm, To get ready and look for a job. Though he doesn’t and it’s still the same.
I want to believe him. At the same time I don’t see it happening any times soon.
Our child is now almost one. He still hasn’t made any progress in life. He started school. Which is only two days a week and says he’s stressed.

Do I follow my heart or listen to the logical reasoning going on in my head….
Please help…
Sincerely,
Lost and confused


Dear Lost and Confused,

First of all, I want to say how much respect I have for you for putting the hard work that you have into your relationship and into your family.  I believe you when you say that you and your boyfriend have been through “a lot”, and I do not doubt your love for each other.

In a perfect world, our emotions would line up with our logical reasoning all the time.  Better said: our emotions would be ruled by our logical reasoning.  We would only fall in love with the people that it “made sense” to fall in love with.

Unfortunately in human practice, it doesn’t always work this way.  Our emotions are all out of whack and, more often than not, it is our emotions that end up in control of our logical reasoning instead of the other way around.

I think deep down as women, we all know we are supposed to be with a guy who will do absolutely anything for us—a guy who can’t imagine a world in which he doesn’t have us.  It’s why we pay money over and over again to see thousands of movies with essentially the same storyline: Boy will stop at absolutely nothing to win the heart of Girl.

But in our own lives we sometimes settle for less than this.  And I’m no exception.

I was once in a relationship with this really great guy.  He had such a good heart, and I always had the best times with him.  After a little while of getting to know each other, I fell completely head over heels for him.

When we were together, he always paid lip service to the fact that he loved me and wanted to be the guy that would do anything for me.  Unfortunately his actions didn’t always match up.  To this day, I really do believe that he wanted to love me the way I needed to be loved, but the sad truth was that he just couldn’t.  And neither of us really wanted to see that, especially not me.

I wish I could say that I sat down calmly, looked at the situation rationally, and made a logical decision based off of the facts in front of me.  I think that’s what a mature adult would have done.  …But that’s not what I did.  I chose the hard way.  I ignored my reason along with the advice of a handful of people who care about me a lot.  In the end, I think my chosen course of action led us both, my ex-boyfriend and I, through a lot more pain and heartache than was necessary.  And it was all in the name of “following my heart”.

I tell you that story not to claim in any way that you are in the same situation I was in.  You’re not; and this is a decision that you can only make for yourself.  I wanted to tell you that story to show you why it is important to listen to your logical reasoning.  It doesn’t mean that your emotions are bad, but they should not be what control you.  Emotions can change from day to day, but reason is the same.  What reason says is true today will still be true tomorrow and forever.  Decisions should make sense.

I really encourage you to talk about this with your boyfriend; especially since you two do have a child together.  Even more importantly, I encourage you to pray with your boyfriend (as well as each of you individually) about this decision.  God is the one who created you with reason, so He wants you to use it and He will help you use it if you ask Him.  In the end, make the decision that gives you true peace within yourself.

Peace doesn’t mean it will be easy, but if you have peace then you have confidence, even when it is hard, that you have made the right decision.

He didn’t answer me…

My Grandpa baptizing my newest niece

I think a lot of people—believers and non-believers alike—have a somewhat lame idea of what prayer is.

We often think of prayer as nothing other than a litany of requests we shoot off to God when we are desperate for help and we have nowhere else to turn.  We shut our eyes really tight (because apparently the tighter they are closed, the more efficacious the prayer) and use a lot of flowery words sprinkled with as many “pleases” and “thank yous” we can fit, then slap an “Amen” at the end and hope for the best.

If our prayer isn’t answered the way we asked for, we either A.) Blame God, or B.) Blame ourselves.  …Maybe if we had just said one more “please”, our wish—I mean, “prayer”—would have been granted.

There is a third option as well.  It is somewhere between A and B.  It is the option that says that there was nothing wrong with our prayer, but that it was “God’s will” that whatever ended up happening had to happen the way it did.  We have to just accept it and move on.

There is of course validity to the third option; but I don’t think it is very helpful to the person who misunderstands prayer.  Why pray at all if God’s will is going to be done no matter what?

Don’t be afraid to ask this question!  How many years have people been praying?  You are not the first one to think of it.  I guarantee you that at some point in the past, someone much smarter than you or I put together had this question, sought an answer to it, and still saw a valid purpose for prayer in his or her life.  So now it is our turn to seek an answer.

The Christian understanding of prayer is actually so much more than asking for things we want.  That is a dimension of it, but it can’t be the whole picture.

Prayer is nothing other than having a conversation with God.  Did you get that?  A conversation.  That means both talking and listening (we are learning social skills here too!).  What kind of a relationship would have with your friends if you only talked to them for three minutes a day to beg them for stuff you needed?  If they loved you and saw that what you were asking for was something truly necessary for your happiness, they would probably still grant your request, but you wouldn’t have much of a relationship.

The same is true with your relationship with God.  Many people hear that prayer is necessary to build a relationship with God, but it doesn’t add up when our prayers only consist of petitions.  When we start thinking of prayer as a conversation between friends, the purpose of prayer becomes clearer.  We pray to become united to the one who created us.  We pray to grow closer to the one who knows us better than we know ourselves, the one who knows better than we do what will make us truly happy.

Think about what this means.  It means that you should pull out that list you have been keeping of questions you want to ask God when you get to Heaven, because there is no need to wait to ask.  It also means responsibility on our part.  If prayer is a conversation, we have to listen.  And if we believe that God is God, we have to do what He tells us.

So we have covered the “Why” when it comes to prayer, but what about the “How”?  I’ll be dealing with that in Tuesday’s post.  Stay tuned!

Trust in the Lord with all Your Heart? But How?

Question:

How do you gain trust with God?  People can say that they have it.  How do you truly feel it?

Answer:

What a great question!

Trust is the foundation for any relationship.  Could you imagine a friendship without trust?  Maybe you’ve experienced that before.  It probably didn’t feel much like a friendship, did it?  Well, a relationship with God isn’t much different.  So let’s take a look at how we are able to build trust in human relationships, and then maybe the answer to this question will be a little more clear.

When you first meet a person, you have no reason not to trust them.  You just met; they haven’t had any chance to do something that would betray your trust.  In fact, in the time you have spent together (all 5 minutes of it), they’ve been pretty reliable.  But does that mean you trust them right away?  Unless you’re 5, it’s probably safe to say that the answer is no.

And there is nothing wrong with this.  It’s normal to not completely trust everyone you meet right away.  They could be a great person, but when you first meet them you don’t know that.  So how do you get to know that?

Trust starts with a relationship.  You wouldn’t date someone and decide to marry them if you never spent any time with them.  Spending that time with them allows you to build trust with that person.  You spend time with their friends and family and end up learning more about who they are.  Eventually, you’re comfortable with them and are able to trust them.  God really isn’t any different.  We need to spend time talking to Him in prayer in order to trust Him.  We need to surround ourselves with people that know Him, and read the Bible to learn more about who He is in order to be able to trust Him.

Now having said all that we’ll answer the question: How do I trust God?  I could tell you that I trust Him with every situation and, in theory, that would be correct.  But sometimes it’s a tug of war we don’t always realize we’re involved in.  Worry and trust don’t really go together, and one can spend a lot of time worrying about things that may or may not happen.  Handing it over to God is a relief and a weight lifted.

In my house (and now in my apartment at school), we have a prayer box my grandfather gave us.  It is just a simple wooden box with a lid, not magical or supernatural but helpful just the same.  He told us to write God letters—our hopes, our dreams, our worries, concerns—put it all out there.  Put the letter in the box and move on.  Our grandpa’s idea was to revisit the prayers on New Year’s Eve and see how God had answered those prayers.  You don’t need a box, just a pen and paper and private place to stash your letters.  Pour out your heart to God; it’s easy.  He’ll prove that He’s trustworthy.  You’ll learn to see and hear Him.  Talking to God will become as natural as breathing.  All I can say is try it.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Question:

How can you explain why bad things happen in the world? You’ve mentioned that you should always trust in the Lord, but my friend, who is Catholic, has a personal relationship with God, and is only 9 years old and dying of a heart disease. She didn’t do anything to deserve this and yet things like this happen all the time, all over the world. If God is going to protect us no matter what, as your father said with their finances, why didn’t he protect this little girl?

Answer:

First of all, I am so sorry to hear about your friend.  My prayers go out to her and her family as they try to make sense of all of this.  It is a sad but real fact that disease and sickness are part of this world—this world that we are all just passing through.

In my family, we were always taught to run to God in everything—in our triumphs, in our failures, in our joy, and in our suffering. The God we know is both all-powerful and all-loving.  In those times that we laugh, He laughs with us; and in those times that we suffer, He suffers with us (that’s what the Cross is all about, right?).  We have no doubt that God’s heart is aching for this little girl and all those close to her.

There are two conclusions that people usually arrive at when struggling with this question:  God is either unable to stop the righteous from suffering, or He is unwilling.  You can see why this is problematic for a person who believes in God to deal with.  If God is unable, then He is not the all-powerful God that we believe Him to be.  Yet if He is unwilling, then He is not the all-loving God that we believe Him to be.

The fact of the matter is this: we live in a fallen world.  God would never force us to love Him.  He loves us so much that he gave us the gift of free will.  With that free will, our first parents chose to disobey God.  As a result of that first disobedience, suffering entered the world (Gen. 3:16-19).

In each of our lives, we will all undergo suffering and face trials.  But we are blessed to have a God who is not unfamiliar with human suffering.  Talk about a bad thing happening to a good person!  (Replace “bad” with “unthinkable” and “good” with “divinely perfect” and you’ve only just begun to scratch the surface)

It is easy for some people to point to suffering in the world and denounce God because He allows the just to suffer with the unjust.  But would it not also be easy for God to point to our sins every day and denounce us for crucifying Him with those sins?  But He doesn’t do that because He is a merciful God.  His arms are outstretched in love for us, even as we drive nails through His hands with the sins we commit.

In Jesus, we have an example of how to endure our suffering.  Everyone in this life has a cross to bear; that is something we don’t get a choice in.  We do, however, get a choice in whether or not to let Him help us carry it.

God loves us so much that He wants to take on our suffering.  He lets us suffer so we can bring that pain to Him to let Him heal it.  Our sufferings are His sufferings, just as our joy is His joy.  We have no doubt that this little girl will be welcomed home into God’s heavenly kingdom.  We have no need to be afraid of death, because Christ has conquered death.

I pray that you, this little girl, and her family run to God in this difficult time.  I pray that you realize that you are not alone, that God is there to help you shoulder the weight of this cross in your life.

“Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed, you may also rejoice exultantly”

-1 Peter 4:12-13