Moments In The Story

Taking time to appreciate the journey….


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Starting with Sincerity

“Mama, I just want to play with you”. Believe me – I hear that statement about 15 times a day. And the other day, in particular was a rough day. You know…the kind when both kids are taking turns crying, or crying at the same time all….day….long. And like most days lately, I thought I had broken my record for the amount of times I’d said “no” in one day.  And while I was trying to find yet another thing he could play with so I could take my 5-minute “wash only the important parts” shower, he stopped me in my tracks.

“Mama, I just want to play with you”.

There was a soft tone, his eyes meeting mine, and I really saw him. I didn’t see the “whiney” child who will not obey, or the older brother who knows not to take things away from his younger brother…I saw his sincere need. I prolonged my shower again and sat down to play with my son for a few minutes, but with a calm demeanor and a genuine desire. Just a few positive moments with his mama was all he needed. And I needed it even more. His sincerity brought a unique restoration that our relationship was in need of.

Twice in the past few weeks I have sat across the table at coffee shops from someone I dearly loved as we approached a delicate conversation. In each situation both of us listened and received what the other person had to say. And each of us felt heard. We processed, rather than blamed. We saw it as an opportunity to grow as individuals. And we put the person above the issue. Each situation was different, but one thing was the same – we each chose sincerity.

Now doesn’t that sound nice and simple? Well I can’t tell you how much frustration, hurt and confusion I had to work through prior to these meetings. In one case, I was feeling hurt and helpless…and I was getting ready to formulate my position on paper so I wouldn’t forget my points. I was going to do that right after I whizzed through my Bible reading for that day. As I was skimming through my reading, I saw the phrase “draw near to God with a sincere heart”. I stopped and immediately softened. I talked to God about it and I told Him how I really felt. I sensed His mercy and love for the situation. And I stopped planning and kept praying for His help in communicating and listening through a heart of sincerity.

Many times we approach conflicts or miscommunications as a battle to be fought. But I believe that our deepest longing underneath it all is to be understood. It’s scary to ask that of someone who has hurt us or is angry at us. I’ve heard people say, “well I’m just keeping it real”. What they are really doing is spewing – but without transparency, and with an agenda. Or there’s the person that postures as if they are listening, but uses deflection, blame-shifting, or “spiritual” reasoning to avoid owning their part of the problem.

I don’t think we even care about receiving an apology as much as we long for sincerity. It disarms us. It takes the angry breath out of our chest. It brings tears to our eyes. Even love without sincerity means nothing. But our words, spoken through the lens of sincerity can love others well beyond even well-meaning, truthful words. When someone communicates with me through sincerity, their words are received in my heart. And when I choose a path of sincerity, I end up speaking truth, being transparent, and avoiding the tendency to manipulate.

Our lives are busy and our days are full. We don’t always have the time to think through how to respond to every encounter we will have that day. We also don’t have the wisdom on our own to navigate through every difficult, even long-term problem with someone. But there is one thing we can do…we can start with sincerity….and see where it leads. Even if the person does not receive our sincerity, we will have a peace because we have been honest in a loving way. And we will not have regrets. Sincerity is the only “real” way to be. It may not lead to complete resolution, but it will lead to restoration – even if that is only for our own heart.

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…….and let us spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10)

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From Passion to Perseverance

I’m sure most of you can relate with me about the excitement that comes with something new. Oh how many times I have started that new diet, or got excited about a new job, or new hobby only to come to a screeching hault a short time later. There could be different reasons – maybe my original idea was too “lofty” to be realistic. Maybe I tried something new, and didn’t like it, which happens. Or maybe I truly had a passion for something, which got me started…but I struggled with the process to get there.

My experience over the past few years with pursuing my “passions” has not been what I had imagined. For instance, I was a mentor to a few young girls for a while. I started out so excited that I felt nervous, stressed, and incapable. I prayed hard before each meeting for what to say; I was so worried about doing something wrong that I didn’t just relax and take time to be in the moment with each person. Over time, and when I almost stopped being a mentor, I realized my focus was wrong. It was not easy to realize God was showing me that I was thinking about me and not them. I was trying to give of myself, but in reality it was for myself – to “feel” like I was making a difference. Of course I loved these girls – my motivation was not bad. It’s just that I had an expectation. Initially I imagined our meetings would be me giving wonderful, amazing advice while they listened intently and took in every word. Oh, and we would hug at the end and they would thank me for my wonderful contribution to their life. Blech – disgusting right?

I didn’t even realize this was in my heart; I truly was trying to give of myself. But I had some things to learn, and had I given up on the process I never would have developed the character changes that were needed in my heart. God gave me a passion and I pursued it. Then I had to learn how to give selflessly – which was a process. Sometimes our passions stir up so much emotion in us that we try to keep that feeling going. The reality of the day-to-process of many things in life can feel mundane. We want the end, we want the result.

For me, I began to see my meetings with these young ladies as a way to serve. I listened and gave little advice. I didn’t plan an agenda ahead of time. Sometimes I brought them water and snacks. I didn’t feel I was making a tangible impact as the world would see it, but I realized the point was to just be there for them. I felt God saying to me that He was teaching me what was really important. Then I went from thinking I needed to quit (because I wasn’t making an impact) to being energized by giving of myself. I embraced the process and kept doing it so I could learn.

Now there are MANY areas of my life where I have not stayed with the process…I have so much to learn. But this experience gave me hope. And the idea that I must find perseverance while pursuing my passions is an important lesson. I can either not serve – and miss out on what God has for me…or I can do something with the wrong heart and quit anyway. Either way, I’m not living out what God wired me to do, and that’s sad!

James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

© Kristin Gordley and Moments In The Story, June 2012.