Why is Love so Hard and Why Does It Hurt so Much?

Every day I ask God to teach me to love better, because I think in general I don’t do it very well.

In my own life, I have found it to be very difficult.

If I’m going to love someone well, I have to be mindful of what’s best for them. Sometimes that means telling people things they don’t want to hear, even though they need to.

And sometimes love gets you betrayal and rejection. Jesus loved the religious leaders of his time but they wanted nothing to do with his love:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. (Matthew 23: 37)

In May of last year my only brother died of his addiction. There were so many times I tried to love him, and so many times I tried to help him. And then there were times when I simply didn’t because it hurt too much and it was just too hard. Streets, jails, and detox centers are full of people like him. When I see his life reflected through the sadness and despair in their eyes, I feel like my guts are being ripped out.

I don’t know what kind of love God is calling you into, but I believe these are who God is calling me to love, and sometimes it’s so painful I can hardly stand it.

It’s like Jesus is saying to me: “I’m breaking your heart for these people the way my heart breaks for humanity that is lost. You will never be fully alive in me until you are completely broken.”

The good news is that Jesus suffered and died on the cross and then He rose again; proving that love is the best of everything. Unfortunately, his death and betrayal is also a reminder that in this life, love is often the worst of everything too.

Some people won’t want your love and some people will hate you for your love; but you will only be half of who you are until your heart breaks for it.

Who is God calling you to love?

Jodie Stevens

We May Be Powerless At Times, But We Are Never Helpless

tumblr_n8ukj3mnhM1rewybao1_400“O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

In this amazing story King Jehoshaphat commanded the people of Judah to pray to God and fast after learning about a huge army marching against them. By the time the army of Judah arrived for battle the massive brigade was already demolished. God had caused them to turn on each other and fight amongst themselves until they were all destroyed.

Although the people of Judah were powerless to defend themselves against the multitudes coming against them, they were not helpless. They humbled themselves and admitted their powerlessness to God. Once they did this, He was able to intervene on their behalf.

If King Jehoshaphat and his army would have gone into battle relying on their own strength they surely would have been destroyed.

When we try to overcome our addictions, obsessions, and character flaws in our own strength they’re often too powerful for us. The proof of our powerlessness can be seen in the unmanageability of our lives: broken relationships, unstable emotional reactions, isolation, denial and deceitfulness.

We may be powerless over many of our struggles, but we are never helpless if we believe that God cares intimately about every detail of our pain and that He will intervene on our behalf when we cry out to Him for help.

Stepping out of denial and relinquishing control to God is the first step towards freedom and healing.

Jodie Stevens

 

It Is Not Selfish To Let Go

Christmas is supposed to be about peace, love and joy. But sometimes it can be a painful time when we experience difficult emotions as families come together once again after months or even years apart. It’s especially challenging seeing those we love hurting. What’s even more difficult is when our loved ones are suffering and they seem unwilling to do anything to help themselves.

It is times like this I have to remember the Serenity Prayer. I know the only person I can change is me and my reaction to them, and the situations that arise. I can open my home when it’s safe to do so. I can create a place of peace and hospitality. I can love with healthy boundaries and give myself space when I need too. I can take those I love to church to hear the good news, but I am not responsible if they reject it. And when I have done all I have the courage to do, I can let go.

It is not up to me but up to God to take care of the rest.

It is not selfish to let go.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen

Jodie Stevens

How Would Jesus Want Us To Celebrate His Birthday This Christmas?

How would Jesus want us to celebrate His birthday this Christmas?

How about pulling our hair out because our calendar is too full?

Agonizing over finding the ‘right’ gifts?

Maxing out the credit cards purchasing them?

Living in a state of dread awaiting the January bill?

Feeling overwhelmed trying to make the best meal?

Decorating the house perfectly?

Arguing with each other over the children and extended family?

Probably not.

So, how would Jesus like us to celebrate His birthday?

I don’t know for sure but my guess is He’d want us to love one another as we’re commanded to do so many times throughout scripture. How we do that is probably a little different for everyone.

For some of us, it could be a random act of kindness for someone who seems lost or sad.

Perhaps it would include removing a few things from our ‘to do’ list so we could have more quality time with our family and friends.

Maybe it’s through better boundaries-like purchasing less gifts for the children and reducing the strife they would be exposed to by arguing over money in January.

It could be serving meals to the homeless or buying a gift for a needy child.

Maybe love is inviting a neighbor to church to learn about the real meaning of Christmas, which is the fulfillment of the prophecy from Isaiah 9:6:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given….and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

For many of us, maybe love would be to simply remember Him this Christmas.

Jodie Stevens

 

The Long Road Home

images (1)“In the history of the Christian church, the tendency has been to avoid being identified with the sufferings of Jesus Christ. People have sought to carry out God’s orders through a shortcut of their own. God’s way is always the way of suffering— the way of the “long road home.” (Oswald Chambers -My Utmost for His Highest)

I’ve tried many shortcuts in my recovery. Usually it was because I simply didn’t want to deal with ‘certain’ people. They brought about all sorts of pesky emotions like shame, fear, and anger. They demanded accountability, created conflict, or made unrealistic demands.

But my ‘shortcuts’ were never really shortcuts, they we’re useless ‘strategies’ to delay or avoid what God was trying to accomplish in and through me. I’d always end up back where I started; days or even years older, and not a moment wiser.

Today I continually try to put Step Eleven into action:

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

It’s my daily reminder that Gods will is always what’s best for me. And if I’m going to ‘carry that out’ in the way that He would have me do it, there are no shortcuts. No matter how difficult it gets, the “long road home” is worth it because God is by my side every step of the way.

Jodie Stevens

 

“GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS”

FullSizeRenderAfter the recent tragedy in San Bernardino The New York Daily News touted the headline “God Isn’t Fixing This.”

When God sent His only son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice He ‘fixed’ the problem of sin through forgiveness, atonement, and eternal life for those who call on His name. Furthermore, Jesus said: “In this world you will have much trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) – The world that was thrown into chaos by human sin.

And even when we try to ban Him from our lives, schools, and communities and then slander Him when things go wrong; He still graciously opens His heart to us time and time again.

And while this may not make tragedies and hardships any easier, ridiculing God and attacking those who call on His name that He would comfort brothers and sisters suffering around the world is an even bigger tragedy.

Jodie Stevens

Did God Suffer When Jesus Died?

Like many people I’d heard about the Father, Son, Holy Spirit Trinity for years but never gave it much thought.

In John 17:5 when Jesus is about to be crucified He says: “Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.”

I admit that I often struggled to identify with the sufferings of Christ, and the grief the Father must have felt.

I didn’t fully recognize that Christ was eternal and existed before the world began; and that Jesus wasn’t an afterthought, a creation that came after us, in an effort to save us.

God gave a very piece of Himself, one that was eternal, to suffer and die for us.

His sacrifice became more real to me when I really digested the fact that Jesus didn’t become the son of God when he was born a man, He always was the son of God.

So it was a piece of the very essence of God Himself that died to save us.

Jodie Stevens