I looked at my phone and was surprised to see the message on the screen. My friend shared some news about her current plight as a single parent of now 2. Of course I called instead of replying via text because that’s what good friends do. We don’t respond to such sensitive, weighty matters via text. No. We respond with a warm voice over the line and if at all possible, we stop exactly what we are doing, we drive over to their current residence, and sit with them. In silence if necessary. Something Job’s friends knew nothing about.
Something I am still learning.
I said a quick prayer before dialing, “Lord please give me the words to say”. And I think He did. She shared that she was afraid of telling me her news. That she had messed up. That she had stepped ever so carelessly out of God’s will and now was facing the consequences. I quickly assured her that she had nothing to be afraid of. “If only you knew, what we have been facing in this season”, I said. “We” as in my community. We as in Christians. We as in me.
I juggled various thoughts in my mind and decided to choose comforting, encouraging words, immersed in love and wrapped in grace. I gave her what I could not give before this season. This season that has taught me so much, yet has been so challenging. But this newfound unconditional love and lowly compassion was fruit from it, and for that I am thankful.
“We set high standards for ourselves”, she said. “Such high standards were not from Christ but were from us,” she finished. “Indeed”, I agreed. “Religion taught us that Christianity was about works. That it was about our behavior. But it is really about the journey. It is really about our weaknesses and us being a mess, and God still loving us in spite of it. In spite of us. Anything can happen in this life. We all fall short of His glory. It is up to Him to use it for His glory”, I said. “Condemnation is not your friend. Condemnation is your enemy,” I continued.
These were HUGE words from me. The queen of condemning herself. The queen of having these standards and then when failing short beating herself up about it. Over and over again. But now I see: condemnation is sin. Condemnation is rooted in self righteousness, judgment and pride.
Love rules all. Love forgives a multitude of sin. Love submitted Himself to the cross so that we could fall 7 times and get back up. Because really its not about how many times we fall, but how many times we get back up.
This is the winter season. In the natural and in the spiritual. My mentality in the natural has been that I can’t even think about the spring. If I think about the spring I’ll be miserably longing for it and that will do me no good because it is a long time comin’. I have to focus on what I need to do TODAY, to endure this winter. I suspect it must be that way in the spirit. When facing winter seasons spiritually, it does no good to anticipate the spring. We must rest assured that even as the natural winter will end…(because it always does!) so will the spiritual winter.
So will the bad things that happen.
The hard things that happen.
The hurtful things that happen.
And really, if we can make it through the winter, well everything else is cake. That has even been my mindset while living a clean eating lifestyle (no pun intended on the “cake”). I knew that if I could keep the weight off during the winter I would be fine. Because I have less chance to work out during the winter, and the foods are heavier, I face more challenges to keep the weight off. But I’ve been doing well, and overcome those challenges.
I have no doubt that my friend who is expecting, will too, overcome her challenges. She will overcome, because He overcame.
And so will you.