Saturday, June 11, 2011

JUNE JOURNEY: When Tough Love is Tough (expectations)

As I am using this time I’m calling my June Journey to pray for more wisdom and discernment regarding expectations, I’ve learned some new things (or been reminded of what I already knew but don’t always practice).

I can sum up some of these words of wisdom this way:
·                Sometimes others will do things that are not acceptable—that’s not judging, it’s just discerning.

·                God wants me to still love them, but I don’t have to love their attitudes or actions, and I don’t even have to LIKE the person right then! Often, I don’t like the person they are becoming. But I can still be hopeful that they will realign more with God’s principles (not out of legalism, but because I want His best for their lives).

·                My prayers for these times should be more about how I can best show God’s love to them rather than praying they respond in a way I find acceptable. I should evaluate, what does God want from this? How can I share the truth in love? How can I release my feelings so they aren’t invested in this? How can I be okay if this is never resolved to my satisfaction? The answer is, like another friend said, “it’s not about me.” It’s about me reflecting God’s Light even when others don’t.

·                This also requires discernment to know how involved to be with someone who isn’t going to be a positive part of my life. Maybe they are toxic to me. Or maybe they are going through life stuff and choosing the wrong path. The words “mark and avoid” come to mind from scripture. I know that sounds severe, but sometimes loving the way God loves requires tough love. He doesn’t expect me to hold their hands when they are slapping mine!

·                There are times that no matter what we do to make something right, the other person isn’t going to do right, and we have no control over that. All we have control over is our response. The way we deal with our feelings. Our choices. I can choose NOT to keep doing favors for these toxic ones if they’re going to treat me poorly.

·                Love doesn’t mean we roll over and play dead. It means we will release them, much like the prodigal son, to find their way back to what God wants in their lives. And being willing to receive them back when they come with repentant hearts. And in the meantime, NOT getting worked up about it. I can’t let their poor communications skills or their inconsideration render me ineffective for God's use.

I’m learning!

(c) 2011 Kathy Carlton Willis


Joy Weese Moll said...

This opened a pathway of thought, not fully formed, but here's a start. Life is so full of opportunity that maybe when our overtures with one person aren't working out, it means we are meant to focus on someone or something else. I suspect that taking the easiest path in life is not the way to growth, but that doesn't mean we need to seek out the hardest path (or the hardest head to knock against). I think I've sometimes had the notion that there is virtue in doing the hardest thing possible, but I'm starting to wonder if that means missing out on the wonderful opportunities that can be approached less with grim determination and more with a loving heart.

Kathy Carlton Willis said...

Joy, I think that's a pretty good insight to share! I used to think the more difficult something was in life, the more worthwhile it was. But now I'm learning that sometimes resistance is there to warn us it's not the right fit. Like we shouldn't try to cram a square peg in a round hole. A little work, whether in relationships or career or general life is good for us, but when it's overwhelming it's usually a red flag. Time to back off. Even if it's an okay thing to strive for, it might not be right for us at that moment—might even be toxic to us. Sometimes people aren't mean or bad, they're just bad for us due to the chemistry mixture being "off" somehow. And we don't need to force it just because we want to be close to everyone in our lives. Sometimes we're stuck with people, so we have to reframe our expectations. And other times, when we're in an optional connection, we can just walk away. Or hang out at a distance, with our guard up. Life doesn't have to be a popularity competition. We just need to be true to self, true to the self God is creating in me (a self that reflects Him more and me less, but yet also ends up making me shine more because I'm reflecting His light.) And this isn't just about relationships at work or play. It's anything that causes us to feel like we're having unmet expectations. I'm facing these unmet expectations head-on! And the discussion helps me re-evaluate how I handle it all, how I process it.

Joy Weese Moll said...

Yes, exactly. I'm writing this bit down: sometimes resistance is there to warn us it's not the right fit.