Tagged: friendship

The Loneliness of Motherhood

17265298_974098736055343_5136842823070202548_n

Motherhood is a lonely thing.

It doesn’t matter how many times your family and friends promise to be there whenever you need a break or are reaching your wit’s end. When you are a new mom, you still end up feeling like you have no one to lean on, no one who truly understands.

When the baby isn’t going down for their nap and is crying from gas or when you’re nursing in the middle of the night for what feels like the twentieth time, there isn’t a loved one whispering “you’ve got this, mama” in your ear or an unread text from a girlfriend reminding you that this season will pass. There is no kind nanny just waiting to be tagged in or a therapist in your living room who is always available for a good vent. If you’re lucky, you have a friend or two who are also navigating the early months of motherhood. But even being surrounded by other new moms is no guarantee that you’ll find the immediate solace you need. Somehow you end up feeling utterly alone despite everyone’s supposed promises that you are aren’t.

If you’re in the early days of motherhood and are handling it anything like me, you try to keep busy. You involve yourself in church and Bible studies. You invite anyone and everyone to get coffee with you. You visit family. You spend a lot of time on social media and Netflix. You walk around the mall and try not to spend all of your money. You become a regular at the park, pushing that stroller around the track until you can’t feel your wrists anymore.

But maybe, like me, you have found that this “keeping busy” thing just isn’t enough. It can get you through a few days or even a few weeks, but the loneliness and purposelessness always return. Being a stay-at-home mom of a baby who can’t walk, can’t talk, basically can’t do diddly-squat besides shake a few toys and play peek-a-boo is rough, no matter how hard you try to sugarcoat it with a full schedule or how many friends you have.

The truth is that the loneliness of motherhood is not merely a matter of not being surrounded by enough people. No, it is lonely by design.

Only you are this baby’s mother. You offer them the special comfort that they can’t find anywhere else. You pay attention to the details of your baby’s development like nobody else. You alone know how to discern their different cries and the exact way they like to be rocked or held. You’re the only one who cares if they miss a nap or get hungry sooner than expected. You clock in the most hours with your little one and hardly ever get to clock out.

With this kind of around-the-clock care you are giving, it is no wonder that you start to feel a little neglected and taken for granted. That sleeping angel you just spent an hour nursing and coaxing to bed can’t express their gratitude. Your husband can only listen to your troubles and tend to your needs for so long before they have to get to work or get some sleep. Your friends don’t know that it hurts to wait for that text or invite that never comes. And those people giving you unwanted advice don’t understand that they are doing the opposite of helping.

Side note: this week I fell apart and cried in front of my five-month-old and she laughed. SHE LAUGHED. If that doesn’t make you feel taken for granted, then I don’t know what would.

If you’re a new mom and are tired of how lonely you’ve been feeling, maybe even embarrassed for not quite thriving as that mom you were so excited to become, I just want you to know that I do understand. I’ve been there and am still there. I don’t have any real solutions and I don’t think there are any. I think that when we became mothers, we unknowingly signed up for one of the loneliest of jobs. That’s just the nature of motherhood.

The one thing I want to say to encourage you, the thing that I wish someone would say to me, is that being lonely is okay. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It doesn’t mean you have to try harder (although you most certainly can try).

If you’re lonely, you’re doing something right. You’re allowing yourself to give fully and freely to that precious baby, even while knowing there is a cost. You’re learning how to bear hard times for the sake of your family, one of many sacrifices you’ll make for the rest of your life. You’re walking through the valley that can refine you and point you to the Most High Comforter.

One day your little one will be able to thank you for all you do. You’ll get more time to do things for yourself. Your day will consist of more conversations than coos and cries. But in the meantime, my lonely friends, I am right here with you. You are loved and not forgotten.

You’ve got this, mama.

 

 

 

The Scary But Necessary Truth

 

I’m wrestling with what it means to be authentic.

Because more often than not, I’m giving off a false impression of myself.

I’m not that calm, collected girl who walks into class with her coffee and combat boots, no care in the world. I’m not that wise, oh-so-godly girl who sits in Bible studies and leads worship because Jesus is all she thinks about and lives for 24/7. I’m not that confident, positive girl who just likes to laugh at jokes, meet with friends at coffee shops, and wear yoga pants (because they’re by far the comfiest things in the world).

I might try to look like that girl. And I might even succeed. But she’s not me.

Truthfully, I’m still figuring out what kind of girl I am. I’m still discovering my interests, likes and dislikes, and personality. I’m learning that I’m a lot like my mother, which brings into question how much of me is really me. I also know that I often mold into my friends, putting on a different mask to be around different people. And I know better than anyone that I’m a messy, complex person who is one way today and then a totally different way tomorrow.

Can the real Jessie Nyland please stand up?

In all of my wrestling, I’ve been learning a lot about myself, the world we live in, and God.

And here’s one of the most important things about being authentic that I’ve seen and am now believing: it begins with telling the truth. 

You’re not going to destroy all those false images that have been built up around you overnight. You can’t dismantle all those lies just by saying to yourself, “okay, be YOU now.”

Odds are that if you have been pretending long enough, you’ve started to believe that girl is really who you are.

So authenticity has to start somewhere, and I believe it starts with telling just one truth. One scary but necessary truth.

And after that truth gets out there, you tell another one. And another one. Until eventually, when people see you, they don’t just see the girl with the nose ring, combat boots, and cool blog. The one who keeps to herself and seems to have her life together.

They see the truth.

They see the girl who’s insecure, weird, moody, and confused. They see the girl who’s struggled with perfectionism all her life, but is learning how to keep that under control in her relationships and everyday life. They see the girl who loves God, but has nowhere near all the answers to living a faithful, godly life. They see the girl who has no idea what she’s doing.

The art of being authentic is telling the truth so people can stop seeing one thing and start to see another.

And in seeing you in this new light, you are somehow given permission to keep being yourself. After all, once the truth is out there, you can’t really take it back. Might as well keep unraveling.

I think this is why I write the way I do, why I’m becoming more and more honest about who I am. I’m tired of the lies I think people might believe about me, the lies that say I’m fine and I love my life and my faith is on point and I don’t need help.

(and I’m also a little tired of the lies I believe about many of YOU. There’s nothing more crippling than the insecurity that comes from seeing someone in this perfect, Instagram-filtered life and knowing I could never be that)

Authenticity needs to be more common. I’m pretty sure I need it if I’m going to stay sane.

I made an Instagram like four days ago and I’m already considering deleting it because I’m OBSESSING over what filters to use, to hashtag or not to hashtag, and why-oh-why is this girl so drop-dead gorgeous and perfect while I’m…. not?

You see, this is hurting me. The lack of authenticity and vulnerability I see all around me is hurting me.

It’s why I took so long to tell anyone about my loneliness or sadness. It’s why I don’t ask people out for coffee or invite anyone to come over to my house. It’s why I feel awful after watching a movie with beautiful, stick-thin actresses. It’s why I feel like a failure in every aspect of my life.

I believe that everyone else in the world is pretty and perfect while I’m pitiful and pathetic.

And that’s not healthy or even true.

We’re ALL really good liars. 

And I’m so tired of being one.

If we’re going to have healthy relationships with others and with ourselves, we have to start telling the truth. Yes, the scary but necessary truth.

And if we’re going to have a healthy relationship with God, we have to start believing the truth about who HE says we are, too.

This is my new philosophy and it’s taken me many years to get here.

Here’s my truth for today: I’m far from feeling secure in who I am. But I so badly want to be. And I’m clawing at these lies as fast as I can, hoping to reach the point where I can look into the mirror and say, “this IS you.”

I don’t think I want to be that perfect, happy girl in my profile picture anymore. I want to be a real girl. An honest one. And even though I know you might be holding onto your own false images, I hope you can feel just a bit more comfortable being yourself after seeing the real, honest me. I want to invite you into realness, too.

Can we please, for (literally) the love of God, start telling the truth? You and I both, hand in hand. Just pushing those truths out there into the blinding public eye so the lies can leave us in peace to be our true, beautiful selves.

All it takes is just telling the truth. One scary but necessary truth at a time.

Clarkston Life

Clarkston, Georgia is the epitome of diversity. If you ask me, it’s comparable to being at the airport, the Olympics, or a United Nations meeting. There are people from literally all across the globe. But the thing about Clarkston is that here you find people of all ages from all different countries living in the same CITY. In the same apartment complex, even. When I step outside of my apartment, I can run into a Nepali man in a colorful wrap skirt, an Iraqi woman wearing her burqa, a Somalian family piling into a worn-down sedan, and a swarm of barefoot Eritrean kids within just a few yards. This is Clarkston life.

Clarkston is this way because it was chosen a while ago to be the relocation center for millions of refugees coming into America. These refugees come from lives of chaos, danger, persecution, and rough conditions in countries such as Iraq, Iran, Bhutan, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Afghanistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Uganda. And they’re squeezed together into this one square mile south of Atlanta.

A lot of the refugees here aren’t fluent in English or even know the alphabet. They struggle to find jobs and pay rent. Homesickness is the least of their worries. They come here with nothing and are expected to thrive when the most they can do under this pressure and in their situation is simply SURVIVE.

I’m spending my summer in Clarkston (for the second time) because 1) these refugees need love, and 2) these refugees need Jesus. I’m working with an organization that strives to provide those two things in the form of ESL classes, summer camps for kids, gardening, prayer, and day-to-day conversations.

But not until today did it occur to me that they have something to offer me, as well.

This morning, my roommate Hannah and I stumbled across a scene we had never seen: an Iraqi woman with her young daughter, an Eritrean woman with her special needs son, and a Nepali woman with her infant… sitting on the same bench and conversing. We approached the three women and joined in on their conversation to the best of our ability. Do you know what they were talking about? How much our apartment complex stinks. They’re unhappy with the complex manager and how they’re treated. With kids in lap, through broken English and thick accents, they were engaging in a dialogue about these irritating and discouraging experiences.

And there was something beautiful about the way these three very different women were taking turns shaking their heads in disbelief, nodding in agreement, and sharing these burdens. Never mind the fact they come from various war-torn countries and different faiths and backgrounds. They just wanted to sit together and bond as next-door neighbors, as mothers.

In that moment I felt like I knew nothing.

I’m a not-even-twenty-year-old who has much to learn about independence, financial burdens, marriage, and raising a family. If I were to sit with two women of my choosing, it’d be women my own age who have no children, no real responsibility. Our greatest burdens would be choosing a major or dealing with our protective parents. And I don’t say that to talk down those burdens. I say that to show how much I have left to experience and learn.

Who am I to think that I’m here in Clarkston to solely teach and to change lives? No. I’m also here to have MY life changed by these refugees.

Image by Leonid Plotkin on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/j4t1oc)

Image by Leonid Plotkin on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/abzFKN)

I don’t want to let my pride prevent real friendships from forming while I’m in Clarkston.

I want what those three women had: common ground forged in even the mundane trials of life.

I want to knock on that Iraqi woman’s door and ask her to show me the way of motherhood. How do you raise three children? How do you carve time for your marriage? When you’re a stay-at-home mom, do you struggle to find purpose?

I want to sit down with that Eritrean mom and hear her experience of having a special needs son. Were you scared? Are you still? How does it change you? 

And then I want to spend time with the Nepali woman and her infant son and see how a love for a newborn grows from the start. What was it like when you first took him home from the hospital? What are your dreams for his life?

And then I’d ask them all about living. Not just living as a refugee, but day-to-day living. Is it hard to pray and pursue God in the busyness of life? Do you have unrealized dreams and how do you cope with that? How do you get stains out of clothing? 

I know nothing. And these women know something. Instead of trying to teach, I think it’s time to learn.

And while doing that, perhaps I’ll be opening up doors for giving them the two things I still want to offer: love and Jesus.

I’ll keep you updated on how this goes. I’m nervous, but excited. Maybe I’m on the right track here.

Image by Alex Saurel on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/j4t1oc)

Image by Alex Saurel on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/j4t1oc)

A Woman’s Body

So this might be a weird thing to write about, but I feel like I’ve reached the point where I don’t really care who reads what I write. As long as one person gets something good out of it, then I’m okay with approaching uncomfortable topics.

And the uncomfortable topic for the day is: a woman’s body.

Men, you can just stop reading now if you want. I wouldn’t blame you for not wanting to dive into the realms of feminine issues in the middle of a Tuesday.

Especially considering I’m going to be discussing the dreaded “time of the month.” AKA PERIODS.

There. I said it.

Carrying on…

I’ve been reading this book by Stasi Eldredge (author of Captivating) called Becoming Myself and one chapter in particular really intrigued me because it discussed an element of a woman’s life that I don’t tend to concentrate on so much: the body.

She brings up a very good point. “I am my body just as much as I am my spirit, my soul, my emotions, my dreams, my desires, and my sense of humor” (Becoming Myself p.51)

The body matters, too.

When I really stop to think about it, a majority of conversations or thoughts involving my body are negative and filled with hate.

I HATE getting my period. I HATE cramps. I HATE bloating. I HATE being so incredibly emotional.

And even when I’m not on my period, I find things to complain about. I’m not happy when I’m bloated and I’m not happy when I’m thin. I feel too curvy one day and not curvy enough the next. The circles under my eyes are too dark, my skin is too dry, the hair on my legs grows back too quickly, and LORD ALMIGHTY, how do I control this frizzy hair?

I know I am not the only one who does this because I have friends. And my girlfriends and I are notorious for griping about our bodies together. We actually feel like we’ve bonded after ranting back and forth for five straight minutes about how gross we feel.

And to be honest, I love those conversations. In those moments, I feel free to complain and whine and get all weepy because I know that these other women know EXACTLY what I’m feeling. We even celebrate when we’re on our cycle at the same time because we know we can suffer together. It’s like we’re blood sisters (pun very much intended).

But on the flip side, we don’t have too many conversations praising our bodies. Sure, every now and then we’ll send some selfies to each other (#stunna) on days when we feel particularly pretty (or HOT, if I’m going to be honest). We occasionally gush about how great each other’s hair and outfits and makeup looks. But not so often our own. Most of our discussions pertaining to our bodies and appearance aren’t positive.

I wish this wasn’t so.

I’ve been growing into the idea of loving and cherishing my body for the past several years, but I’m far from fully appreciating it. I haven’t had children yet so I certainly can’t pull the whole “it gives life” card. I’m not married and I’m not having sex so I can’t even pull the whole “it unites me to another person in God’s design” card.

For now, my body seems to just be… my body. It’s just there. I have one. That’s all.

But ladies, there IS so much more to it than that.

This is quite revolutionary for me. I feel like I’m at a point in my life where it’s vital that I begin to change some of my perceptions because one day my body WILL be bringing life into this world and be wonderfully enjoyed by a man I commit the rest of my life to.

If I don’t accept or understand my body now, I might not be able to appreciate it for all that it is when it does do those miraculous things.

The truth is that our bodies are already miraculous.

And when we hate our bodies, it’s like we’re saying, “God, Your design stinks.”

Now I know that we probably won’t change our perception about our bodies overnight. In a few weeks I know I’m going to be griping about cramps all over again. In fact, I have a dreadful Pap smear at the end of this week (TMI maybe) and I’ve been cursing my body for the past week for requiring so much care. I don’t want some doctor investigating my uterus.

Yet I know deep down my body matters. It needs to be taken care of. It needs to be treated nicely.

And I haven’t been treating my body very nicely, at least not with my words or attitude.

I really think that it’s important for us women to start valuing our bodies. If we dedicate so much time tending to our emotional and spiritual needs through encouragement and prayer, then why not our physical needs, too?

Our body needs love.

Our body needs encouragement and prayer and affection and attention. No matter what size we are or what time of the month it is, our bodies should be appreciated. They are gifts.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Perhaps part of honoring God with our bodies is treating our body nicely. Instead of tearing it down, we acknowledge the beauty of God’s creation. We let our bodies do their thing (menstrual cycles, gaining weight, and all) as a way of surrendering to God’s plan for our lives.

I’m still going to cling to chocolate and Ibuprofen when distress hits, but I’m going to try to not despise what my body is doing. I’ll still cringe as I have a hard time buttoning my jeans, but I’m going to try to not bash my figure. As Stasi puts it, “to be a woman is a glorious thing” (p.52).

Maybe we can just start thanking our bodies for what they go through, even if we aren’t truly grateful. Maybe over time, we really will be able to see ourselves differently in the mirror. I think self-talk really does help. Prayer, too. What if we just started acknowledging things, GOOD things, about our bodies one day at a time?

I wonder if our confidence would grow. Maybe we’d curb some of that insecurity. Maybe we’d be able to survive that time of the month without biting everyone’s head off.

I certainly don’t know what could come of this considering I’m just now starting to wade into the waters of appreciation, but I feel like it’s got to be good for us to some extent, right?

I dare you (if you are a woman) to start taking some of this seriously. Take your bodies seriously.

Your body is beautiful! That’s sometimes difficult to say out loud or even fathom, but it’s true.

Image

Image by Ana Corrales Paredes on Flikr (https://flic.kr/p/no5QMo)

That’s all I have to say on this topic. I’m sorry if this was uncomfortable to read. You could’ve stopped twenty paragraphs ago.

And men, if you’ve made it this far, I’m thoroughly impressed. Don’t be afraid to make eye contact with me after reading this. I may be one of the few women you know who would dare say such things so openly, but know that every female you encounter holds many of the same feelings, thoughts, and concerns about her body. It’s just the way we are, the way we think. I think it’s good for men to dive deeper into what being a woman is like just so he can properly love and care for her. Likewise, I believe a woman has a duty to know more about herself and also about the men in her life.

It’s important to unveil some of these secrecies and mysteries.

And now that I have peeled back this one layer, you may carry on with your Tuesday.

To Be Recognized and Known

Image

Image by Martien van Asseldonk on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/5wNWib)

Right now I am in Clarkston, Georgia, the most diverse square mile in America. It’s true.

I’m working with an organization that is aimed at serving refugees and sharing the gospel with unreached people groups. It’s amazing work, my friends. I can’t brag enough about the selfless, life-giving work being done here in Clarkston.

I worked with this same organization two years ago and I finally decided this past January that it was time to return.

For the next few months I get to play a role in what’s been unfolding here for years with the help of so many hands, tears, smiles, and acts of love from all over the world. This is a community, a beautiful family that just wants Jesus to be made known. And I, Jessie, get to contribute something, too. I get to pour my heart out into this mission. I get to be a part of what God’s doing in Clarkston and in the lives of these refugees.

And what I want to share with you right now is one of the things I love most about Clarkston.

I love that people are recognized.

And I don’t mean the sort of recognition where everyone stands up around you and applauds the great things you have done. No, this is the sort of recognition where you’re just known. You’re not a stranger. Your stories, your past, your gifts, and your vision are known and cherished by the people who serve alongside you.

In Clarkston, sacred memories are made, each one serving as a reminder that you are loved, you are appreciated, you are known.

Sacred memories like the one of four of my roommates huddled around me and praying over me on the floor of our living room as I cried over a break-up I didn’t know how to cope with. It didn’t matter that I had just met them the week before. They recognized my pain. My hurt and my burdens were welcomed there.

Sacred memories like the one of having my feet washed, reminiscent of the washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus. This person, this strong servant of Christ, knelt on his knees before me and washed my dirty feet. He wanted to anoint me for a greater mission, a mission I couldn’t fathom myself. He saw Jesus in me. He saw a calling in me. Even the things I felt unworthy of were recognized in me by others.

Sacred memories like the one of neighborhood kids screaming my name as I step outside my apartment each day. I felt like a celebrity. I felt like a big sister. All I had ever done was remember their names and play with them, and that was all they needed. They recognized the love I had for them and they reciprocated.

Sacred memories like the one of my friend and I sitting on the couch in our apartment, sharing our deepest thoughts and feelings as we read together through the book of James. I was fascinated by her life and she was fascinated by mine. We wanted to know each other’s past and present so we could support and encourage each other in the present and future. We weren’t there to teach or to gain. We were there to listen and give. The value of her story was recognized by me, and the value of my story was recognized by her.

Sacred memories like the one of crying in the arms of two beautiful ladies as we were all just completely moved by Jesus. I don’t even know why we were all crying, to be honest. But there we were, praying and crying and wiping our noses. This fellowship we had, this honest and freeing relationship between us three women in that moment, demonstrated just how deeply Jesus can forge love between those who are willing to know and be known by others.

These are just a few of the memories I hold on to from that summer I spent in Clarkston two long years ago.

Now there are new sacred memories to be made.

I’ve been here for three days and I see it beginning again already.

Not every neighborhood kid remembers me, but there are the few who do. I see the recognition in their eyes as connections are being made. I’m somewhere in their memories, maybe some of their own sacred ones. They call out my name as I step outside my apartment, just as before. It almost feels like I never left.

I felt recognized for the briefest of moments last night as a girl I had met just days before touched my shoulder and asked if I had eaten dinner.

The staff I work with remember little things about me, things I thought maybe wouldn’t be worth mentioning after two years of absence. They remember and recognize my gifts and abilities. I am celebrated.

These little things I hold sacred because they are some of the truest demonstrations of the power of recognition. I am moved by these moments because they whisper, “Jessie, I know you and you are loved.”

And I’ve decided this will be my task for the summer while I’m here: to recognize those around me.

I am not a great missionary. I don’t really know how to share the gospel and I’m awful at discipleship. The fact I didn’t come back to Clarkston to visit during the two years I was gone speaks of the lack of drive and dedication I tend to have. I feel guilty because I know I am a college student stuck in comfort, easy living, and non-committed relationships. I keep to myself because it’s comfortable here. And I can’t guarantee that I’ll branch out enough to truly change the life of any of these refugees this summer.

But what I know how to do is recognize people. I remember names and stories. I like to listen. I like to encourage. And sometimes that’s all a person needs.

I want to be the breath of fresh air to the people I’m working with and to the people I’m serving.

I won’t have the most eloquent speeches planned out, and I don’t have much advice to give. But I can give my heart and let people give theirs. I want people to be recognized here because I’ve seen how it changes lives. It’s changed mine.

Please pray for me as I continue on this journey here in Clarkston. I don’t really know what the summer will contain, but I earnestly desire fruit to come out of my time here. I don’t want to be a waste of space, time, or money, so I am praying that I figure out my niche and how I can serve. Most of all, I want to do those things, whatever they may be, wholeheartedly. I want to wholeheartedly love.

Thank you to all who have recognized me and are continually encouraging me. We need people like you. More people need to be recognized. They’re all around you, just begging to be noticed and heard. Continue to be those eyes and ears.

And if you know how to create, then be a mouthpiece, too.

The medium I choose is words, but it’s not the only one.

Let’s continue recognizing each other. In this forgetful, neglectful world, we need it.

Walking Away

“Sometimes walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realize our worth and value, but because we finally realize our own.”

This quote has always struck me as admirable yet confusing at the same time. As someone who wants to follow Christ and love His people to the utmost, how could walking away from someone ever seem like a good idea? What I’ve been learning lately is that not only can we place boundaries between us and those who are weighing us down, but we SHOULD place those boundaries- for our protection, strength, and growth.

I argued against this for a while because I couldn’t remember reading anywhere in Scripture that we must “shut the door” in someone’s face, especially someone we are friends with or close to. I was wrong. There is Scripture on this matter. Jesus himself “shut the door” in people’s faces. This is something we are quick to miss, but must learn now if we want to grow in our faith and protect ourselves from negativity and sin.

Jesus had twelve disciples, his very close friends. This is our first clue. He didn’t have an inner circle consisting of five hundred people. He carefully chose twelve men. Likewise, we cannot expect to have a thriving ministry and restful life if we are trying to teach and encourage and keep up with five hundred people all the time. Having an inner circle relatively small is both useful and vital.

What’s important to note is that Jesus didn’t select who he would or would not love. He just selected who he would or would not invite into his personal life. We must never think that love can be looked over by us or was ever looked over by Jesus.

I can talk about those pesky Pharisees, the ones who always tried to call Jesus out for his “blasphemy”. We already should know some of the things he said about them, like how he called them hypocrites and told them they were filled with “bones of the dead and everything unclean” (Matthew 23:27).

What I’d rather highlight right now to really drive home my point is a story in the book of Mark. I heard a message on this topic using this passage in Mark a couple years ago. It really stuck with me, and I never knew when it would come in handy. Lately, it has, and I now want to share this wisdom and insight with you.

In chapter 5 of the book of Mark, we are given a short narrative of Jesus raising a girl from death.

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands onher so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. (Mark 5:21-24)

Pause. The next ten verses don’t tell of Jesus saving Jairus’ daughter. They actually consist of another story- one in which a woman touches Jesus’ cloak and is healed of her bleeding illness. Some of you may be familiar with that story. You see, on the way to Jairus’ house, Jesus intentionally stops to talk to this woman and listen to her. He heals her and then tells her to go in peace. Can you imagine the impatience and frustration Jairus must have felt? His daughter was dying!

The story of Jesus and Jairus’ daughter is picked up again in verse 35.

While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5:35-43)

I want you to pay close attention to the parts I bolded.

Jesus was careful of who he allowed to come with Him to the house. Why? The rest of the people believed Jairus’ daughter was dead and Jesus could not save her. They doubted, and because of that, he chose to leave them behind.

When he finally reached the house, he stumbled upon a group of people crying and mourning over the girl’s death. They laughed at Jesus when he stated all was well. Yes, he had healed people before. They saw the miraculous signs and wonders he performed. People knew of his abilities. Yet in the face of what looked like hopelessness, there was no faith among them.

How did Jesus respond? He didn’t lecture them. He didn’t try to convince them. He didn’t make them watch and see him do the things they didn’t think he could do. He put them all out. He, so to speak, “shut the door” in their faces. He then raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead.

Why is this significant? I want you to see the boundaries that Jesus placed in his life to block the negativity and doubt he faced. Like Jesus, we are bound to face people who will laugh at us or make accusations at us. We will come across people who won’t believe in our capabilities. There will be people who will want to make us feel guilty or worthless. You may already be able to think of a few people in your life right now who fit some of those descriptions.

Did Jesus love the people who doubted him and laughed at him any less? Absolutely not. How could he? He is a God of perfect love. God is love (1 John 4:16-18).

But did Jesus shut people out of his life at times? You bet he did. If he didn’t put up with negative influences, why do we? We must choose who we allow into our inner circles, who we allow into our personal lives and ministry.

Some relationships are toxic. It’s unfortunate, but true. This is why healthy boundaries are necessary. In order to protect ourselves so we can best serve and run after our goals, those relationships may need to be severed. Just like Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife as soon as she crossed a line, we must walk with wisdom and maybe even RUN. Joseph didn’t stick around to share his faith with this seductive woman or see if maybe a “resolution” could come about. He high-tailed out of there!

I can offer advice or tips on how to sever relationships or determine what boundaries need to be placed, but I honestly don’t know much. I am learning just like most. I don’t have much experience in ending relationships and I certainly don’t want to speak for God in such a black-and-white way on a matter that consists of so much grey area.

What I do want, however, is to encourage you to re-evaluate some of the harmful and discouraging friendships or relationships you have in your life. It’s rarely easy to end relationships, but I know God can provide a peace and comfort amidst the separation.

Referring back to the quote I opened this post with, we need to realize our value, our true identity in Christ. We do not need to seek approval from people or measure up to those who are constantly weighing us down.

We have a responsibility to protect ourselves if we want to grow in our faith and ministry. With all of this being said, it is now time to contemplate on the negativity you are allowing in your life.

Now breathe in, and breathe out. It’s time to let go and allow ourselves to heal.

Rejected and Neglected

Today I was hit by a sad realization.

Some people just don’t care. Whether it’s because they were only pretending to begin with or they somehow got too wrapped up in their own lives, there are those “friends” who turn out to not be as supportive and friendly as you thought after all.

I have plenty of people like that in my life. They ask how I am, but don’t want to listen. They give false promises and say things they don’t mean. They’ll even say they’re praying for you when, in reality, you don’t cross their mind. When I pass by them, it’s as if I don’t exist. If I’m sitting alone, they’ll remain with their group of friends, turning their backs as if they don’t notice me.

And I’m sure that if I confronted these people and asked them if they “have my back”, they’d give a confident head nod and warm reassurance.

I’m sure this sounds like a rant of some sort, and in a way, it is. But it’s also more than that.

I want this to be a wake-up call.

I want this to wake up the people who know they haven’t been there for people like they should, who see the dejected and lonely ones sitting by themselves yet do nothing to put an end to it.

This is for the people who vow they want to be Christ-like and effective witnesses for His name, but can’t seem to find the time in their schedules to get to know the people around them.

This is for the people who claim to care, but don’t do anything to show it- to friends, loved ones, classmates, and neighbors.

If this is you, then listen:

There are people in this world that need a friend. And many of them need hope, the very same hope you have in your soul because of the Gospel that you might not really care to share.

I’m not bitter or angry. I’m not trying to tear you down or cause any grief.

My goal is this: to correct you in your self-consumed ways and remind you that you have a greater purpose on this earth.

If that’s not enough of an incentive, then I don’t know what is.