The Lord put it on my heart awhile back to pray and intercede for others. And in starting the new prayer services on Thursday, I now look for situations to add to my prayer list throughout the week. Some people message me (privately) with prayer requests – others share their burdens outwardly posting on social media and asking all of their friends to pray for them. I document those too.
Over the last several weeks I’ve noticed a trend in people who are hurting as a result of various situations dealing with family. Some of these folks I’ve spoken to directly. Others I’ve watched – only reading about their sorrows. Recently, texting with a woman, she poured her heart out about the crazy (honestly it’s pretty crazy) things family members have put her through. From lawsuits to unthinkable burdens that have been placed on her and her children as a result of family disputes. I felt a feeling of sadness come over me because I had no advice for her. I don’t have good news about divorce, I’ve never been through lawsuits with people in my family. Her story wasn’t my story and I know the Lord doesn’t want me to testify on subjects that he didn’t give to me. But, this subject keeps coming up – like the faster I run away from testimonies of family issues, the more God is putting this in my face. Then, as we were speaking something amazing happened.
In prayer, (yes i went straight to Him, before reaching back out to her), I was given remembrance of words that Jesus delivered to a crowd of people, (a scripture I’d read many times, never understanding the meaning). A question raised by the son of God himself – WHO IS MY FAMILY? In the book of Mathew, someone said to Jesus, “Your sister and your brother are waiting outside. They want to speak with you.” Jesus gave a strange reply – as he answered and addressed the crowd. He said, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” Then he stretched his hands out toward his disciples and he said, “Behold, here are my mother and my brothers… For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven – they are my mother and my brothers.”
I remember reading this scripture many times before, thinking to myself, That seems kind of harsh. Why would Jesus deny his mother and brother – leave them standing outside as he basically said to the crowd, “they aren’t mine, the ones that do the will of God are mine.” The actions of Jesus seemed to go against everything I’ve been taught about family – that family (blood relatives) are to be our lifeline of help, our source of LOVE . And even the Bible gives warning about the importance of caring for your family and tending to their needs. In 1 Timothy it is written, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Are the messages of Jesus denying his mother and brother and the warnings in Timothy conflicting? I got my answer. NO…. In that moment of prayer the Lord pieced together a puzzle that I’ve never before been able to see completely.
In understanding that God knows the beginning from the end in each of our lives, HE KNOWS we will face heartache in family matters. He knows that brothers will betray bothers, mothers will betray children and children will betray fathers (also written in Mathew and Luke) – families will face division and will hurt one another in a variety of ways. They will hurt you. They will abandoned you. They will let you down even when you need them the most. So how do we deal with the disappointment when loved ones throw us to the wolves?
I thought about another recent conversation I’d had with a man who was suffering through devastating circumstances. Unlike the woman from the text messages, his family had nothing to do with the original source of his pain. They weren’t taking him to court or placing burdens upon his children. It’s what they didn’t do that had become the source of his pain. He felt abandoned by the ones he loved most, in a time that he needed them. He spoke to me about his mother – telling me how close they once were. He said, “She was the one I thought would stand by my side no matter what. I was wrong.” As the man poured out his heart to me, I could feel his pain and his anger too. And I myself felt angry, thinking about my own children and asking myself the question, What kind of mother disappears when her children need her? And the Lord said, I am love.
Let me try to break this down the best I can. Not all of us came from beautiful brady bunch families. Some of us were victims of divorce, and strife within the system of “family” at very young ages. Some of us were shown that love is screaming and yelling – even physical violence. Some of us were shown that love is “me first” – mothers that seek companionship from a man rather than putting their children at the top of their priority list. Fathers that do the same. So many daddy’s leave. Parents die in tragic accidents. Parents struggle to deal with their own lot and turn to things like alcohol and drugs – leaving their kids in a sense of loneliness. And this is only the short list of generational curses that plague families in so many ways today – resulting in a domino effect of children who don’t know love, then grow up to be adults that are not familiar with true, unselfish love. But GOD is love.
Friends, we don’t all KNOW GOD – at least not yet. I certainly didn’t now Him most of my life, despite claiming that I was a Christian, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. But just like I was in darkness – led to the light, I believe all who belong to him will experience that same process at some point – at the Lord’s appointed time. And sometimes that process in others will lead to God workting through YOU to be the light that loves someone else, teaching another true love – His love.
In both stories (the woman with the family burdens and the man that felt abandoned) I could sense bitterness in the pain. I even felt it creeping into me, wanting to reach out to these people and say “Are you crazy bringing a lawsuit against your family member?!” or wanting to reach out to that mother and ask, “What kind of mother isn’t there for her own son when he’s in need?” But God said, I am LOVE. See, if God lives in us, then we are the light in the darkness. And even though that darkness may not comprehend the light right now, if God sends YOU to be the light at his appointed time, you will be the very one that introduces REAL LOVE to those who were placed in your life for his Glory. And that’s where we have a choice: Seek God to work in us even through our pain. Or, pass the baton and the generation curse moves on to the next victim. Saying, “I’ll show them.” isn’t being the light. Saying, “I’ll get them back – I’ll show her the same cruel treatment she showed me,” isn’t being the light.
Hear me out on something – we all have a testimony on this subject, even I didn’t realize it until the Lord revealed this to me. I didn’t know love either – didn’t have a dad (lost both of my step-dads) and felt like a burden that would never live up to my mom’s expectations. Fast forward and I grew up to be a pretty awful wife to my husband, and mother to my kids. And Josh wasn’t good to me either. He has hurt me in the past in ways that are difficult to talk about. He’s made me feel unimportant, worthless. He’s broken my trust time and time again. But today, everything I once thought I loved about my husband has been taken away. He isn’t the tall, muscular handsome guy that used to make me feel safe, (yes, I loved feeling safe having a big strong guy around to protect our family). He isn’t the 6-figure earning breadwinner of our family anymore. He isn’t the father that relieves my stress with tough love as the disciplinary of our children – they no longer fear him, which puts pressure on me to be the nurturing mom and disciplinary dad at the same time. Yet, I love my husband today more abundantly than I ever could have in the past. Because loving him for what he can give to me is NOT TRUE LOVE. And I know it’s not my doing – the love I have now, I’m not capable of without God living in me. This isn’t my love at all – it’s the Love of He who lives in me.
I know my husband did nothing to deserve for me to love him the way I do today – to sacrifice my life in order to take care of his needs. Just like I don’t deserve for the Father to love me and forgive me by the wrath that was poured out onto his only begotten son Jesus. This unselfish, un-expecting, unconditional love I have today for my husband is a gift from God because he chose me to be the light. He is using my vessel, to be the one (in an appointed season) to show my husband what real love is. Love that forgives. Love that can’t be earned. Love that can’t boast in pride. Love that gives everything, expecting nothing in return. Josh can probably never repay me for the sacrifices I’ve made for him – and that’s just beautiful to me because I need nothing – JESUS IS ENOUGH. Just like I can never repay my Heavenly Father for sending Jesus to shed his holy blood for my salvation, (when I deserve death). So instead of asking yourself, “What is my family not doing for me?” Ask yourself how the Lord might be using your trials to be the light in the darkness for them, or for someone else – remember who are true mothers, brothers and sisters are.
Jesus gave the answer when he delivered that question to the multitude, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” In simple terms, we open our eyes. We stop placing expectations on people we THINK the Lord sent to love us and care for us in our short lives here, and we allow the spirit of God to show us the ones he HAS sent to love us and care for us during seasons of difficulty. That also can mean letting go of pride. Maybe your mother or brother won’t help you but someone else is standing by – waiting for the Lord to send them to you.
I’ve done this thing called “privacy” my whole life. I share my deepest sorrows only with those who I call family, while placing a false image of completeness in front of everyone else in my life. A stranger asks, “How is your day?” I answer “Great. thank you.” A family member asks the same question and my answer is very different. I rely on family to feel my pain and CARE about my needs – to help carry my burdens. I confide in family and lay down my sorrows in front of them, expecting them to care. Why do we do only depend on blood relatives, and hide our real-selves from the rest of the world? For me, I think the answer is pride. Foolish pride. And if I’m being honest, that makes me a liar too. If a friend asks, “Can I do something to help you?” Why would I answer with “Nah, I’m good,” then hang up the phone and call my mother to tell her how much help I need right now. Am I denying God the testimony he placed in my life while closing the very doors that he’s opening for me?
Look, I can’t deny that we live in a time of great selfishness. I also don’t think we know what we do. We’re all like rats in a cage running as fast we can to keep up with that image of what we think our lives should look like. We don’t carry eachothers burdens as we should. We don’t look for ways to enhance another’s life – we look for ways to enhance our own lives. We need bigger homes, faster cars, better electronics, more luxurious vacations and more advanced cell phones so we can post wonderful pictures of our “blessed lives”. Notice, when the lights went out and flood waters rose in Houston – when people were removed from the rat race, though only for a few days, we CARED. Our true character was revealed when the world stopped spinning in Houston, (there was nothing to go achieve, nothing to go buy, nothing to seek in advancing our own lifestyles during those days), and all we could see was an opportunity to help our brothers and sisters. Flip the switch back on and everyone returns to the rat race. We know not what we do.
And then, there’s the other side of these generational curses. I spoke to a woman last week who was confessing something very painful to me. She recently lost her mother. And she told me about a time her mom had reached out to her for help. The mom had recently been forced to file bankruptcy and needed a car. So, she reached out to the daughter (the woman telling the story), and asked her to co-sign a loan to help her buy a car. “I told her I couldn’t help her because I couldn’t put anymore debt on my credit.” She explained. The woman sobbed as she confessed her heartfelt hurt, “I’d do anything to go back to that day and say yes to my mother.” And today, this woman is a Godly woman (brought out of darkness into the light of Jesus Christ.). Sometimes repentance doesn’t come until we lose something very valuable that we can’t ever get back. Sometimes we don’t realize how meaningless things like money or credit scores are until we suffer true loss of things that really matter to us – like the lives of our loved ones. Even in those situations, God is glorified because the pain that leads to repentance, and realizing our shortcomings and mistakes, leads us to the cross of Jesus Christ. Hurt is not easy, but it can soften our hearts if we just let God into our pain. He gave us everything (forgiveness), when we deserved nothing but death. And through that process, he leads us to the light. Trust his process in your life and in your loved ones lives. Pray for them and love them, while refusing to pick up the baton and carry bitterness to the ones who are watching how you respond to hurt, hardship and situations that you face. Choose love.. Choose forgiveness.. Choose to let GOD be GOD, and trust his process (not our own process).
I don’t know if this post will help anyone today. But I feel the Lord putting this subject in front of me repeatedly for a reason. My hope and my prayer is that we can all learn to love our family and pray for our family – while removing the expectation that they will love us back. I pray that we can learn to not judge one another, remembering that all of us were in the darkness – only finding the light when Jesus stepped in at an appointed season to open our hearts and teach us what LOVE really is – teach us kindness and selflessness – teaching us how to love our neighbors and even our enemies too. My prayer is that we can let down foolish pride and be honest when we’re not OK – not just to family but look for the ones GOD is sending to be the hands and feet of Jesus during our storms. I pray that we can learn to be that for someone too – walking out the instructions of Jesus (not by our own choosing), but asking Him to guide us as and show us how to full-fill the purpose he has for our lives. And remember, needs come in different shapes and sizes. Not long ago I thought money was the only way to help people. If I had it to give and the Lord showed me someone in need, I went to work trying to help them. Today, I don’t have money and the Lord is showing me a new way to help people. Everyone’s not poor. Some are sick, some are imprisoned, some are suffering great loss and some are heart broken and hanging be a thread – looking for HOPE in impossible situations. The Lord is showing me how to be a sister to those I may hardly even know (and let them be there for me too). To listen to people. To cry with people. To love people as my own blood, expecting nothing in return.
In closing, I don’t believe Jesus was being harsh – he wasn’t denying his brother and mother. He was teaching us that family has a much broader meaning than what the world teaches us. That FAMILY has little to do with our blood, and everything to do with His blood. My hope with this ministry (this calling upon my life) is that I can have the opportunity to be your family. And I sincerely mean that. If you need prayer, please let us pray for you. If you’re struggling right now with something in your life, write us and tell us about it. Josh and I want to love you. We want to be your brothers and sisters and carry our cross for a purpose that glorifies our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I love you guys very much. Hope you have a blessed day in Jesus Christ.
Father, I ask you to forgive us and I thank you for your grace as you know our true hearts, that we don’t always allow you to lead us and as we’re caught in this world ruled by the prince of the air, sometimes we don’t know what we do. Please cover all those who are hurting today and heartbroken with your love and peace and understanding. Help us to see through the pain at the beautiful testimonies you are working inside of our lives and to embrace the tears as a qualification to be gifted with your compassion toward others who are hurting too. Please continue to show us what it means to be the light, help us to overcome bitterness and fill us with your true love – unselfish and unconditional love. Father, I thank you for your grace and mercy. I thank you for the many brothers and sisters you give us all over the world and I thank you for tearing down our walls of pride and helping us to see that YOU are where our help comes from. Thank you for building our faith and helping us to trust in you even when things seem impossible. Thank you for giving us truth, and help in breaking generational curses upon our lives. I love you Lord and I thank you with my all heart for the salvation of Jesus Christ.
In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.