Tag Archive | loving God throughout loss

The Yo-Yo of Grief & Holidays

Most grievers go through…and understand…the yo-yo cycles of grief.

You dread the holidays…then you desperately want to have the ability to enjoy the holidays…then you agonize about the holidays…then you go through a period of time where you just wish holidays could be normal again…and then you may feel guilty when you do enjoy the holidays…then you feel weird…then come to peace about it…and the grief cycle can spin you again out of nowhere…and so on…and so on…and so on.

The thing about grief: nobody who is going through grief signed up for it.

The harsh emotional turmoil.

The guilt.

The regrets.

The crazy emotions.

Nobody in their right mind would even wish it on their most annoying enemy. I know I wouldn’t.

My holiday yo-yo began several years ago…and I sure have learned a lot about God, grief, life, family, friends, and overcoming grief ever since.

Several years ago, my 22 year old sister died on Thanksgiving Day.

It shouldn’t have happened…she had everything going for her: she was married and she was a mom to three beautiful children who she loved with all of her heart. She adored and enjoyed being a mom so much that she was trying to have another baby. An amazing pianist, she had taken piano lessons at a university since elementary school since no teachers in our area could keep up with her talent. An accomplished baker, she and I had been going to several baking and candy workshops since we were in the process of opening our very own bakery and chocolatier…that way we could always have a flexible schedule and have our kiddos with us. She had everything in the world going for her.

But then she got sick. Really, really sick. Really, really fast.

That Fall, we were all on vacation having the time of our lives…a month later, she began to have allergy-like symptoms, and then within a few weeks of feeling ill, she suddenly and unexpectedly died of Wegener’s Granulomatosis (GPA) – a very rare autoimmune disease that was only named in 1939.

Thanksgiving has never been the same since…and believe me, I have really tried.

I’ve tried vacationing during Thanksgiving to get my mind off of it – to no avail. Then I tried going on a Disney vacation…the happiest place on earth…and during that trip, I had to go to the Urgent Center since I was so sick. In fact, the first several years after my sister’s death, I’d wake up every year around 4am and become violently ill. There has never been a Thanksgiving since that I haven’t gotten sick or felt major anxiety.

The last Thanksgiving morning she was alive, she had her nurse call us around 4am and ask us to immediately come to the hospital to be with her. We threw our clothes on and got there…only to be blocked from seeing her by her medical team.

Then the Code Blue came…and they revived her. And then the final Code Blue came…and she was gone.

I guess my body remembers the 4am time – and that whole morning – because every year since, I have become extremely ill or anxious each Thanksgiving from 4am-10am.

Frustrated by Thanksgiving, I finally found a way to cope. For years, I have put all of my Christmas decorations up by November 1, so I could just go straight into the Christmas season.

I still celebrate Thanksgiving with my family…and I am extremely thankful for God, my family and friends, and all of life’s blessings…but this has helped me to not focus on the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

Although I am super thankful for life, loved ones, and every blessing God lovingly grants me – and although I put on a happy face for the sake of my remaining loved ones…mostly my sweet mom and the kiddos in my life – I just don’t like Thanksgiving.

In October, and up until this week, I was actually looking forward to Thanksgiving…it’s the very first year that I have actually looked forward to it.

I haven’t put up one Christmas tree, ornament, or decoration yet.

I was still feeling anxiety about Thanksgiving, but I was super grateful for the progress of my grief. And it felt good to not experience the yo-yo of grief the last six weeks – especially from all the years I tried so desperately to run away from the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

I’ve spent many years going back and forth trying to make my heart feel something it just didn’t feel.

I think most grievers understand what I’m talking about…especially if they’ve experienced a holiday death. But it’s not just the death of a loved one…it could also be loss of any kind.

But then this week, all of the feelings of dread are starting to creep back.

So the yo-yo is apparently still strong.

I always try to be very transparent in my grief so I can help and encourage others.

I hope this blog post doesn’t come across as whining. I truly hope it helps someone to know they’re not alone in their grief.

Here’s my advice for getting through the Yo-Yo of grief:

  1. Seek God’s heart. It is truly amazing the amount of comfort and love God will shower onto those who love Him! Making God my closest and most treasured Friend has made all the difference in the world! Even during times when I don’t think a grief situation is fair, He patiently and lovingly always directs me in the right way. I can’t stress this enough…when you feel like you don’t want to trust His plan, always trust His great heart! Fight for your relationship with God…never give up on the true Treasure of His Friendship!
  2. Be true to your grief. Don’t force yourself to feel anything that isn’t authentic. If you feel sad, honor that sadness. If you feel fine, don’t feel guilty for having a good holiday…it doesn’t mean you love someone less. Good days & good holidays are truly a gift…embrace them when they come!
  3. Share with your family and friends where you are at in your grief…and don’t be ashamed of your grief. Don’t assume they should know or that they should instantly understand…take the time to share your heart.
  4. Don’t make family or close friends be mind readers. Tell them what you need so you will have the ability and support you need to get through the day.
  5. Do only what you feel you can truly do. It’s totally okay to have a relaxed holiday. If you’ve lost someone very close to you, it can take awhile to find a “new normal” for life and holidays…and sometimes the “new normal” you found can suddenly change and need readjusting. It’s okay not to always be okay…and that is totally FINE!! Be gentle with your heart!
  6. Light a memory candle in honor of your loved one…or do something special to “include” their memory. I have found that lighting a memory candle is a very special way of including my loved ones – it’s a beautiful way of saying, “I love you…I miss you…I will never forget you…I sure wish you were here!”
  7. NEVER apologize for your grief. If other people are uncomfortable with you honoring your grief or loved one, well tough. Lovingly remind them that you didn’t sign up for your grief experience…you’re doing what you need to do to get through it. So they’re frustrated? Kindly remind them that you’re frustrated too. Losing a loved one is the highest price you pay for loving someone…just because a loved one dies, your love doesn’t die too. People sometimes forget that.❤️
  8. Be careful to not create future guilt or regrets. I love the quote, “Even though I am grieving, the clock is still ticking, and that’s why I keep living purposefully.” I take the time to truly honor my grief, but I also make a very purposeful choice to celebrate and extravagantly love my remaining loved ones. Just like my sister suddenly died, I realize that is a possibility for everyone else I know too…so I make sure not to isolate myself and I choose to make the most of Thanksgiving and other holidays. I’m very authentic about my grief, I honor my grief…but I also honor my loved ones who are here as well.

This Thanksgiving, I am praying for all of the Grief Bites Family! May you highly treasure God, enjoy your remaining loved ones, and honor & remember your treasured loved ones who are no longer on earth.

Wishing all of you a very peaceful, special, joy-filled, and loving Thanksgiving Day!!

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!For more encouragement: ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617

❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

❤️

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Conflict Resolution (Pt 3)- 75 Character Qualities That Can Change Your Life

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” ~Helen Keller

Grief, conflict, hardships, struggles, and suffering are opportune times to develop personal character because through each of these circumstances, character is revealed…and tested…the most.

The key to changing every aspect of  life…including conflict resolution…is developing solid character because character and success go hand in hand. 

Show me a person who has solid character and I’ll show you someone who handles grief circumstances and conflict wisely, as well as marriage, parenting, career, and relationship issues.

The amount of character one develops in life directly influences how much success they will enjoy…in their spiritual walk, personal life, marriage, family, finances, relationships, career—basically everything!

A lack of character is quite costly because character is a derivative of the heart…and the heart is the single greatest indicator of what we will choose to do with EVERY area of our lives.

 

Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

 

Why is character so vitally important? Because character affects ourselves and everyone we come into contact with. Character is singlehandedly the greatest impact a person can have in this world.

 

The following character list is great to go by when:

  • developing personal character
  • going through grief or hardships
  • experiencing conflict
  • looking for a dating/marriage partner
  • training your children
  • interviewing a potential staff member
  • living life

Whatever conflict you are experiencing right now, consider which character trait has been violated. After discovering which trait has not been honored, you then will be free to begin developing the character trait to bring about restoration.

Ask God to reveal to your heart how to best develop each character trait below. As you read each character trait, ask yourself how you can effectively develop each trait so it can truly become a part of your regular day-to-day life.

 

75 Character Qualities That Can Change Your Life
1. Alertness vs. Unawareness– Being aware of that which is taking place around me so I can have the right response to it (Mark 14:38)

2. Attentiveness vs. Unconcern Showing the worth of a person by giving undivided attention to his words and emotions (Hebrews 2:1)

3. Availability vs. Self-centeredness– Making my own schedule and priorities secondary to the wishes of God and those I am serving (Philippians 2:20–21)

4. Boldness vs. Fearfulness– Confidence that what I have to say or do is true and right and just in the sight of God (Acts 4:29)

5. Cautiousness vs. Rashness– Knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing right actions (Proverbs 19:2)

6. Communication vs. Lacking Communication– Willingly, kindly, and clearly communicating my thoughts, ideas, concerns, and needs with others while allowing them to clearly communicate their needs, ideas, concerns, and thoughts as well (Ephesians 4:25-29)

7. Compassion vs. Indifference (I John 3:17)- Investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others.

8. Community vs. Isolation– Treating my family the very best I possibly can (realizing God specifically placed them in my life) and also seeking out a great church and wise friends to “do life” with (Hebrews 10:24-25)

9. Contentment vs. Covetousness Realizing that God has provided everything I need for my present happiness, and not comparing myself or my life to others (I Timothy 6:8)

10. Cooperation vs. Rebellion Doing my part to harmoniously respect, obey, and cooperate with God,  as well as all the authority figures, law enforcement, and people (spouse, parents, elders, family, employers, church) God has placed in my life, and wisely choosing not to rebel against scripture or legitimate guidelines, laws, rules, and boundaries (Hebrews 13:17, Romans 13:1-5, Ephesians 6:1-3)

11. Courage vs. Cowardice– Choosing to face any obstacle in life with courage so as not to run away from hardships or responsibilities (Philippians 4:13)

12. Courtesy vs. Rudeness Extending respect, kindness, and courtesy to everyone I come into contact with–regardless of their behavior (Ephesians 4:32)

13. Creativity vs. Underachievement/Dullness Approaching a need, a task, an idea from a new perspective (Romans 12:2)  and considering all of the creative ways to implement a bright outcome

14. Decisiveness vs. Double-mindedness- The ability to finalize difficult decisions based on the will and ways of God (James 1:5)

15. Dedication vs. Wavering Establishing a razor sharp focus and dedication in my relationships with God and others, as well as my life purpose, for God’s glory (Colossians 3:17)

16. Deference vs. Rudeness- Limiting my own personal freedom in order to not offend the tastes of those whom God has called me to serve (Romans 14:21) and showing proper respect and honor to others above my own selfish interests or inclinations

17. Dependability vs. Inconsistency– Fulfilling what I consented to do even if it means unexpected sacrifice (Psalm 15:4)

18. Determination vs. Faintheartedness– Purposing to accomplish God’s goals in God’s time regardless of the opposition (II Timothy 4:7–8)

19. Diligence vs. Slothfulness Visualizing each task as a special assignment from the Lord and using all my energies to accomplish it (Colossians 3:23)

20. Discernment vs. Judgment– The God-given ability to understand why things happen (I Samuel 16:7)

21. Discretion vs. Simplemindedness The ability to avoid words, actions, and attitudes which could result in undesirable consequences (Proverbs 22:3)

22. Empathy vs. Hard-heartedness/Aloofness Taking the time to genuinely care about others and see things from their perspective by choosing to put myself in their “shoes” and truly taking the time to see how my words and actions could possibly affect them (Colossians 3:12, Romans 12:15)

23. Endurance vs. Giving up The inward strength to withstand stress to accomplish God’s best (Galatians 6:9)

24. Enthusiasm/Excellence vs. Apathy– Expressing with my soul the joy of my spirit (I Thessalonians 5:16,19) and seeking to live my life and use all of my talents to the best of my ability

25. Faith vs. Presumption- Visualizing what God intends to do in a given situation and acting in harmony with it (Hebrews 11:1)

26. Faithfulness vs. Unfaithfulness- Being, and remaining, committed to the people and responsibilities God has entrusted to me and refusing to cheat God, them, or myself out of God’s best (Proverbs 3:3, Luke 16:10)

27. Flexibility vs. Resistance- Not setting my affections on ideas or plans which could be changed by God or others (Colossians 3:2)

28.Forgiveness vs. Bitterness/Rejection– Clearing the record of those who have wronged me and allowing God to love them through me (Ephesians 4:32)

29. Generosity/Hospitality vs. Stinginess Realizing that all I have belongs to God and using it for His purposes (II Corinthians 9:6)

30. Gentleness vs. Harshness Showing personal care and concern in meeting the need of others (I Thessalonians 2:7)

31. Gratefulness vs. Unthankfulness– Making known to God and others in what ways they have benefited my life (I Corinthians 4:7)

32. Honesty vs. LyingCommitting to live a life of truth by being honest with God, myself, and others, and resisting the temptation to tell outright lies, white lies, or partial truths (1 Peter 3:10, Colossians 3:9)

33. Honor vs. Dishonor- Choosing to live a life of honor by being honorable in all of my thoughts, actions, words, and deeds, and highly honoring those God has placed in my life–especially family (Psalm 1, Colossians 3:17)

34. Hospitality vs. Loneliness Cheerfully sharing food, shelter, and spiritual refreshment with family and friends (Hebrews 13:2)

35. Humility vs. Pride Recognizing that it is actually God and others who are responsible for the achievements in my life (James 4:6)

36. Humor/Fun vs. Coldness- Choosing to see the goodness, enjoyment, fun, and humor life has to offer with those God has placed in my life in spite of circumstances (Psalm 27:13, Ecclesiastes 3:1-22)

37. Initiative vs. Unresponsiveness– Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it (Romans 12:21)

38. Integrity vs. Lack of character- Choosing to live a life of character even when it becomes difficult, realizing that who I am in private reveals my true integrity (Psalm 18:25, Psalm 119:1, Proverbs 2:6-8)

39. Joyfulness vs. Self-pity– The spontaneous enthusiasm of my spirit when my soul is in fellowship with the Lord (Psalm 16:11)

40. Justice vs. Fairness– Keeping myself “in check” and committing to living out personal responsibility to God’s unchanging laws (Micah 6:8)

41. Kindness vs. Harshness– Choosing to be kind in all I do, and maintaining a soft kind heart to others, as well as refusing to be harsh or hardhearted (Luke 6:31, Colossians 3:12-14)

42. Knowledge vs. SimplemindednessMaking the decision to be in awe of God and better myself every single day by learning as much as I can so as to avoid living an unwise simpleminded life (Proverbs 18:15, Proverbs 1:7)

43. Leadership vs. Wavering– Using my leadership wisely by investing in and encouraging those underneath my leadership in every way I can to ensure their success (Titus 1:7-14)

44. Love vs. Selfishness Choosing to love God, and my family and friends extravagantly, and giving to others’ basic needs without having as my motive personal reward (I Corinthians 13:3)

45. Loyalty vs. Unfaithfulness Using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God and to those whom He has called me to serve (John 15:13) and being loyal to my family and friends

46. Meekness vs. Anger– Yielding my personal rights and expectations to God (Psalm 62:5) and using anger as a signal to warn me of possible self-centeredness

47. Mercy vs. Judgment Choosing to be the mercy and compassion to others today that I would want to receive myself tomorrow (Luke 6:36, Matthew 5:7)

48. Obedience vs. Willfulness Freedom to be creative under the protection of divinely appointed authority (II Corinthians 10:5) as well as going out of my way to respect authority

49. Orderliness vs. Disorganization– Preparing myself and my surroundings so I will achieve the greatest efficiency (I Corinthians 14:40)

50. Patience vs. Restlessness– Accepting a difficult situation from God without giving Him a deadline to remove it (Romans 5:3–4)

51. Peace vs. Contention/Disharmony– Choosing to honor God by being a peacemaker and creating harmony in difficult relationships and situations (II Timothy 2:24)

52. Persuasiveness vs. Contentiousness– Guiding vital truths around another’s mental roadblocks without being offensive or disrespectful (II Timothy 2:24)

53. Punctuality vs. Tardiness Showing high esteem for other people and their time (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

54. Purpose vs. Lack of Focus- Finding out and fulfilling my life purpose, as well as the purpose for any project I am serving on with others, so as to bring ultimate glory to God in my life (Isaiah 43:7, Psalm 139:13-16, Philippians 2:1-4)

55. Purity of Motives vs. Manipulation– Resisting the urge to manipulate people or situations by continually allowing God to purify and refine my heart and motives to be inline with God’s Word and His Will (Zechariah 13:9, Ephesians 5:26)

56. Resilience vs. Quitting/Cowardice- Developing tenacity and refusing to quit while going through trials or hardships and purposefully seeking out God’s heart so that He can refresh and lift me up in His timing…and realizing God has the power to work everything together for the good of every situation (Joshua 1:9, Romans 8:28)

57. Resourcefulness vs. Wastefulness Wise use of that which others would normally overlook or discard (Luke 16:10)

58. Responsibility vs. Unreliability– Knowing and doing what both God and others are expecting from me (Romans 14:12)

59. Restoration vs. Incompleteness– Taking upon myself the responsibility to seek out restoration with God, others, and circumstances when I have been offensive or hurtful to others…and while initiating restoration, allowing God to restore me (Jeremiah 17:14, 2 Chronicles 7:14)

60. Reverence vs. Disrespect– Awareness of how God is working through the people and events in my life to produce the character of Christ in me (Proverbs 23:17–18)

61. Safety vs. Neglectfulness– Taking the time to do my responsibilities the right way and ensuring the safety of others as well as myself (Colossians 3:23)

62. Security vs. Anxiety– Structuring my life around that which is eternal and cannot be destroyed or taken away (John 6:27)

63. Self-Control vs. Self-indulgence Instant obedience to the initial promptings of God’s Spirit as well as obeying God’s Word (Galatians 5:24–25)

64. Sensitivity vs. Callousness– Exercising my senses so I can perceive the true spirit and emotions of those around me (Romans 12:15)

65. Servant’s Heart vs. Taking– Looking for ways to serve God, my family, and others (above myself) so that I can fully invest in them, make a positive impact, and benefit their life (Matthew 23:11, 1 Timothy 5:8, Philippians 2:1-11)

66. Sincerity vs. Hypocrisy/Insincerity Eagerness to do what is right with transparent motives (I Peter 1:22)

67. Teamwork vs. Isolated Independence- Choosing to do what is truly best for everybody involved—whether it is at home, church or work—instead of focusing on my own goals, agenda, or myself (Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Peter 4:10, 1 Corinthians 12)

68. Thoroughness vs. Incompleteness– Knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my work or words if neglected (Proverbs 18:15)

69. Thriftiness vs. Extravagance– Not allowing myself or others to spend that which is not necessary (Luke 16:11)

70. Tolerance vs. Prejudice Acceptance of others as unique expressions of specific character qualities in varying degrees of maturity (Philippians 2:2)

71. Truthfulness vs. Deception– Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts (Ephesians 4:25)

72. Understanding vs. Lack of Knowledge- Choosing to “seek to understand” people and situations through God’s perspective by searching God’s Word for answers so that I can effectively develop godly knowledge and an understanding heart towards others (2 Timothy 3:16, Proverbs 4:7)

73. Virtue vs. Impurity The moral excellence and purity of spirit that radiate from my life as I obey God’s Word (II Peter 1:3)

74. Vision vs. Apathy– The ability to visualize and realize a vision without becoming apathetic while ultimately helping to accomplish God’s plans and purpose (Philippians 3:14)

75. Wisdom vs. Foolishness/Natural Inclinations Seeing and responding to life’s situations from God’s frame of reference (Proverbs 9:10)

 

The greater the character, the greater the favor one will enjoy in life.

Make all your ways pleasing to God and He will make your paths straight. 

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” (AMP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on building character, you may wish to check out these resources:

http://www.characterfirst.com/qualities

*Character Qualities: 49 are through IBLP, 26 are my own creation

http://ati.iblp.org/ati/family/curriculum/characterqualities.pdf

10+10=2? 20 Questions To Begin Conflict Resolution (Pt. 1)

Have you ever experienced conflict with a spouse, child, parent, family member, in-law, ex, friend, church staff, church member, or co-worker?

What do you consider the greatest litmus test for the times when you, or those around you, experience conflict?

Do you consider:
How they have personally treated you?
How you have personally seen them treat others?
Their usual character?
Your usual character?
How you have treated them?

The world is rampant with grief, loss, disappointment, conflict, betrayal, and relational hurts.

Grief, loss, disappointment, conflict, betrayal, and ongoing hurt can bring out the absolute worst in people…and we all have the possibility of this due to the hurt, or past hurts, in our lives.

When a person hurts us, or someone we love, most people do one of four things:

1. Get even. They hurt the person back through gossip, manipulation, & reputation ruining.
2. Stuff it down, hidden deep inside, and ignore it. They pretend all is well.
3. Become a doormat and excuse it because they don’t like conflict.
4. Lash out at the other person due to deep hurts and ongoing frustrations.

If we are all honest, we probably have done a few of these things in our lifetime.

But…there is a better way.

We must first consider some important information when going through times of conflict:

  • What if we are hurting ourselves, or our own families, in the midst of the conflicts we face?
  • What if we are contributing to hurting many others in the crossfire of our disagreements…potentially for generations?
  • What if people take up offenses for loved ones, leading to serious discord that keeps on going…and going…and going. At the very least, we’ve all heard mother-in-law jokes…and at the very worst, we’ve all seen political issues and wars in the world that are violently ongoing.
  • What if we harm our own character, reputation, or spiritual witness, or that of our family’s, or that of another person?

Think about it…every conflict we are in doesn’t just affect us.

 

Each and every conflict on earth was started with a little spark that grew into a monumental fire.

How do we personally tend to our “little sparks” before great damage is done?

It is important to understand the truth that we’ve all experienced conflict due to others, as well as of our own making:
1. We’ve all been 100% innocent and on the receiving end of a combative person/situation/issue
…and…
2. We’ve all dished out our share of mistreatment or misinformation onto others
Majority of the time, we are right in the middle of these two extremes…doing both dishing and receiving.

 

Ok, so about that little spark that’s headed towards becoming a wildfire of destruction…

When going through conflict, it can zap us in many ways. The deeper the conflict, and the longer it lasts, the more we probably are tempted to question God why we are having to go through it.

Conflict. is. painful.

Why is conflict so prevalent?

Ultimately, conflict surfaces because it is one of the enemy’s strongest ways of keeping us from achieving what God wants for us and what God truly wants for those around us. Conflict continually keeps hurts and problems stirred up…and sucks up all our energy…which prevents us from FULLY achieving God’s Will and His best for our lives.

If you are going through conflict, the best thing to do is for both parties to self reflect and ask a few questions of themselves:

1. Did I do anything to wrong the person I’m having issues with?
2. Has there been an offense in the past that I haven’t made right? (maybe they’re reacting to a past hurt)
3. How have I contributed to this problem?
4. Have I gossiped or lied about them…or embellished the facts?
5. Have I been spiteful, hateful, unreasonable, or vindictive?
6. Have I tried to discredit them or relayed damaging info or “facts” about them to others, casting them in a bad light, or tried to get others on my side?
7. Is this a sin cycle passed down or learned from my parents (problems with authority figures, in-law issues, conflict stemming from divorce/death, rejecting others, anger, bitterness, “getting even”, rebellion, etc)?
8. Have I had a spirit of “competition” or jealousy where I’m trying to “win” or win my own way, “one up” someone, or gain favor at another person’s expense? (Example: siblings or daughter-in-laws & mother-in-laws)
9. Have I been prideful, unwilling to budge, or unwilling to do my part?
10. Have I taken up an offense for a loved one, without considering the other person’s feelings or their side of the story?

As you read these 10 questions, did you truly self reflect?
If not, take a moment to value and rid yourself of any pride, bitterness, or hurt you are harboring in your heart…free yourself…and go back and re-read the 10 questions of self reflection (focusing on each bolded ‘I‘)…and TRULY self reflect, as you put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Then you will be able to free yourself up to make a commitment to do what is honorable in the conflict you are in as much as you are truly able to.
Remember: you’re not only doing this for them…because, let’s face it, if left to us, we aren’t going to be in the mood to self reflect or do a kind favor to anyone who has been hurtful or offensive. We need to remember that we are also choosing to do this to honor God, and for our own peace, sanity, and joy, as well as those around us who are deeply affected by the conflict. Most conflicts affect everyone close to us…they’re usually never just a “2 person” ordeal.

Times of conflict are extremely painful…but they can also be excellent opportunities for personal growth.

Consider the incredible invaluable opportunity you have right in front of you to develop character & humility in your own life to become a stronger, kinder, more richly developed person.
Each person needs to ask their self:

1. What have I personally done to make the situation right?
2. Have I gone to the person to make amends?
3. Have I done, or am I willing to do, the “right thing” as much as is in my power to do so?
4. Have I truly done an inventory of the hurtful or hate-filled words I have spoken (to them, about them, and to others) as well as the hurtful things I have done to them?
5. Have I genuinely considered what I have cost them (relationally, spiritually, reputation, emotionally, monetarily/financially, time-wise, wasted special occasions, etc)
6. Have I been willing to be a peacemaker and actively taken the steps to extend forgiveness, mercy, and grace?
7. Have I put myself in “their shoes” to see how they feel…or how this has affected them?
8. Have I offered a sincere apology or offered to actively make my “wrongs” right? (a hurt or offended person is hard to win over. An apology…and sometimes restitution…is vital. Humbling but it is a must-do)
9. Have I given the person the “benefit of the doubt” and/or tried to understand their intentions behind their actions? (sometimes, not everything is personal)
And most importantly…
10. Have I genuinely prayed about the situation and asked God what to do...am I truly willing to obey God, regardless of how I feel or what I ultimately want?

We live in a broken world, but that doesn’t necessarily give us a “free pass” to go around behaving like broken people. We need to hold ourselves accountable for every word, action, and deed…because we will eventually have to give an account of these to God.  Speaking of God, we have a Helper to make us whole, Who wants to make our offender whole, and to bring healing to any situation…if we want His help. So, if we want God’s help, it is vital to go to Him and His Word for lasting answers.

Although conflict can be incredible uncomfortable to go through, sometimes, conflict can be a catalyst to bring healing into your life, or an offensive person’s life. Sometimes, God wants us to be that person…helping the very person who hurt our heart. It’s EXACTLY what Christ did…and still does…for us.

 

Compassion, empathy, and understanding pave the way…they all are key components to begin the healing that is needed.

Make the decision to start being the compassion & understanding to others TODAY that YOU wish to receive TOMORROW.

Most conflict issues can be resolved when one person stands up, decides to show good character, and becomes the bigger person to make amends.

We are all in this together.
Everybody in the world has been deeply hurt…and everybody in the world has deeply hurt others.

How cool would it be if we all chose to live life on the higher road, making the decision to love God and love others starting right now?

Many problematic conflicts could be completely resolved if we could master in ourselves those 2 important…life-changing…decisions.

Starting today, let’s begin to un-complicate life and choose to pursue healing, spiritual strength, emotional health, kindness, compassion, and genuine love.

It will most likely take time, and getting used to, but it can be worth it!

Conflict resolution comes to life when both parties agree to:

1. Truly love God
2. Genuinely love others

In action.

Because, ultimately, love can truly cover over a multitude of hurts and sin.

Yes, 10+10 can equal 2…when the 2 parties in a conflict ask themselves those important 20 questions to come to a WHOLE resolution.

 

Does this still seem impossible? My next post will be all about how to practically accomplish conflict resolution when you don’t want to through developing character. Stay tuned!

 

Lookup these verses on www.bible.com: 1 Peter 4:8, Ephesians 4:32, James 1:12, Matthew 5:9, Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:2-3, James 3:18, Proverbs 13:10, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Ephesians 5:14-17, Matthew 6:14, 1 Corinthians 13:13, Matthew 22:36-40, Matthew 12:33-37, Romans 14:12

 

God has been showing me some pretty cool stuff this week…stuff I definitely will be putting into practice myself! Looking forward to writing more about this! 🙂

Waiting on God During Grief

One of the toughest aspects of grief is waiting. Waiting to feel relief. Waiting to feel better. Waiting for your broken heart to mend. Waiting to feel any sense of normalcy again.

Grief, in my opinion, is not just the death of a loved one. I think losing a loved one is definitely the greatest grief someone can go through for sure. But to me, grief is losing anyone or anything that meant the world to you….it is any situation that knocks the breath out of you. Any circumstance that causes your life to stop…and causes you to have to “wait.”

In the Bible, we are told to “wait on the Lord” several times.

I always assumed that “waiting on the Lord” meant being still. Almost doing nothing except for trusting God.

Then my thoughts dramatically changed…

At a grief group I lead, a few of us got on the topic of waiting on God…it was an excellent conversation that was very thought provoking.

What if waiting on God meant…literally waiting on God?

Allow me to explain…

The definition for waiting (on dictionary.com) is:

Waiting:
1. a period of waiting; pause, interval, or delay.
2. serving or being in attendance: waiting man; waiting maid; waiting woman.
3. in waiting, in attendance, as upon a royal personage.

Imagine you are a server and God came into your royal restaurant…He is your only table.

Would any of us truly be focused on anything that is outside of that royal restaurant?…Would we focus on what our family and friends are doing at the moment? Our finances or bills? Our grief or heartache? Any part of our future that we usually worry about?…Absolutely not. We’d be completely in awe of God. We’d want to fully serve Him, meet His needs, and please Him as we waited on Him.

Many times during grief, we have 100 things going through our minds all at once. It is very difficult to stay focused when you are in deep grief. This can cause worry, anxiety, depression, anger, and all the other negative emotions that grief brings to the surface.

It’s frustrating to want things to get better…yet not be in control…and having to wait on grief.

What if we switched our focus from waiting on grief to waiting on God?

A good definition of waiting on God: expecting something truly special or good

If we are truly waiting on God, we do not have to wait impatiently or grudgingly. We can wait actively, expectantly, and fully confident in the work He is going to achieve through us, our grief, and in every circumstance we are facing.

Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Grief, and bad experiences in life, can definitely make you feel weak…weary…and faint. Grief and loss affect every part of your life, all of your relationships, and can be very consuming.

In the initial first days of grief, it is with you in the morning, throughout the day, and all evening. It can keep you awake at night…and if you are lucky enough to get a good night’s sleep, it is there when you wake up in the morning. Within seconds, grief floods your heart and mind all over again.

Relief does eventually come, but waiting can be very difficult in the first weeks and months after grief.

I encourage anyone who is going through grief to focus solely on God for at least an entire month. Wait on Him. Serve Him. Find out what pleases Him and wait on Him to do something truly special in His timeframe. Try not to focus on anything that is “outside” of the “royal restaurant” as you wait on Him at His table. Simply wait on Him, do your God-given responsibilities as best as you can, and allow Him full access to your heart.

What if you’re mad at God? What if you don’t want to talk to Him, let alone wait on Him?

I know of many people who are initially angry with God for their loss(es) or life circumstances. I used to be very angry with God. I was very upset that my dad was killed and I was angry with the man who killed him, especially after I saw how much my dad’s death hurt my mother and our family. I was mad when my favorite grandmother died due to a negligent doctor…and I was incredibly hurt and upset when my boyfriend died a few days after Christmas. I also was extremely frustrated after my sister died on Thanksgiving Day and left behind young children who will never remember or realize how awesome and incredible their mother truly was.

It is very common to be angry…and being angry is okay for a season! When people lose someone or something they love and cherish, they’re going to feel many many emotions. It takes time to work through all of the emotions and thoughts that flood you after grief knocks your breath out of you.

Pour your heart out to God…tell Him EXACTLY how you feel, what all you are going through, and share what all is in your heart and on your mind…He already knows what you are feeling and thinking so be honest with Him. If you are mad, tell Him…if your heart is broken, tell Him, if you are bitter, tell Him…nothing is going to shock Him. Next, after you have an open and honest talk with Him, ask Him to heal your broken heart and to help you to put the pieces of your broken life back together. Tell Him you are completely giving Him your grief journey and you are trusting Him to lead you through it….tell Him you are trusting Him to do something truly special and good in your life since you are now entrusting your grief experience to Him.

 

Actively and literally “wait on the Lord,” while fully seeking His heart, and see what He decides to do.

 

 

Lamentations 3:25, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”

Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Psalm 40:1-3, “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.”

1 Kings 2:3, “Honor the laws of the Eternal your God, and live by His truth. Be faithful to His laws, commands, judgments, and precepts—the ones written for us in the instructions of Moses. If you follow this path, you will be successful in everything you do no matter where you are..”