Loyalty and Kindness

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
    Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
    Write them deep within your heart.
Then you will find favor with both God and people,
    and you will earn a good reputation.
Proverbs 3:3-4 NLT

I’ve been reading in Proverbs the last couple weeks. I had gone through other New Testament books and was trying to find my next read when God put wisdom on my heart. The bible is the best place to look for wisdom – it has guidance for every situation we face in life. And Proverbs is literally a book of wisdom that was written in part by the wisest man to ever live, King Solomon.

When I read over Proverbs 3:3-4, I felt a stirring in my heart. I had struck fire. King Solomon felt that loyalty and kindness were so important that you should tie them around your neck as a reminder, and write them deep within your heart. These two simple nouns are keys to finding favor with both God and people. I feel like these are two words I need to both study and put into practice.

Kindness is straightforward enough in what it means, but not as easy to practice. Never let kindness leave you. That means in whatever situation I find myself in, with whomever I may be talking to or working with, I need to let kindness be my mode of operation. I need to be friendly, generous, and considerate with everyone.

Loyalty goes a little deeper. I’m not a scholar, so I don’t know if my interpretation is completely correct, but when I think of loyalty I think of my “people”. My husband, family, friends. When it comes to them, I need to be loyal. I need to have their backs, not speaking bad about them to anyone. I need to fight through the hurt to keep the relationship. I need to give them my undying support and love. I need to defend them and be their advocate. I need to stick by their side, just as Sam stuck by Frodo in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I can see why these two words are so incredibly powerful. Think about how relationships, how your work and home environment, might change when these are put into action.

I hope this inspires thought and action like it did for me. And I hope you’ll join me in praying that God will develop these things within us.

 

Please don’t kill me in the process

What started out as the lowest point in our marriage has turned into our greatest testimony.

I was going back through some of my old journal entries, and came upon an entry from last June, right after our anniversary. This was the start of realizing that Luke and I needed to seek help to get our marriage back on track.

It was a very painful time.

We would have a few bad nights, reconcile, have a good few days, only to plummet further down the next time. This pattern made us realize that we needed to seek out help no matter how long that “good” stretch went. There were clearly things going on under the surface that we didn’t know how to handle.

Reading that journal entry brought it all back.

The morning of this journal entry I had felt like God told me to camp in his presence. So I did. And in that place I told him what was on my heart. I wrote, search me and know me. You’ve already started a work in me, so finish it to completion. Keep digging and refining me. Please just don’t kill me in the process.

I stopped reading for a second and closed my eyes…remembering. That’s exactly how I felt at that time…do your work, whatever it takes. But I’m going to need your strength to get through it.

To look back on this now is a testimony to my own heart. I laid myself down and opened every piece of my heart to the Lord. “Let your will be done. Do what you need.” I didn’t want to seek out counseling…it felt like admitting defeat. It scared me. Even though we were in that tough place, I loved my husband dearly and I hated to admit that I needed help.

Submitting to the Lord goes against our sinful hearts and human nature. It’s engaging in a war of spirit against flesh. But the result of submitting to the Lord brings life to our souls in a way that we never could have expected.

When we humble ourselves and submit to the Lord, that is when restoration begins. We found marriage counselors through our church and they walked us through biblical counseling. Through them, the Lord shed light on lies we were believing and replaced them with truths. He revealed our pride to us and began to teach us humility. He taught us how to forgive. He showed us how to love.

I look at our relationship now, and see that he has once again proven himself merciful and faithful. He has redeemed and restored and made something new and beautiful out of something that was hurting and broken. He has turned our mourning into joyful dancing. What started out as the lowest point in our marriage has turned into our greatest testimony. It became our springboard into a new life that we would not have apart from God. I can’t stop talking about how faithful he has been to us!

God is faithful to those who put their trust in him. He will redeem and restore. Your current trial isn’t the end. Have faith in the goodness of God, and he will direct your steps. So hold on a little tighter today and take it to the Lord. He has the answer.

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
Psalm 30:11-12 NLT

He leads us through change

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.
— Psalm 37:23 NLT

Life changes are rarely brought on gradually – unless, of course, they are of our own making. But unless the change is something we’ve considered and then instituted, change is typically an abrupt thing. Almost everyone can remember a time when, in the blink of an eye, everything changed. It’s usually in those moments that you realized how good you had it, and you’d give anything to return to the way things were.

Life is always changing. Nothing ever stands still. Relationships, jobs, seasons…they’re all constantly evolving.

But if we’re paying attention and following our Shepherd, we have the possibility to see things grow and flourish – changing for the better. Jesus didn’t save us from sin and then leave us to fend for ourselves; he is inviting us to journey with him.

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
— Psalm 23 NLT

In all things, we can find hope by following not the fleeting things of this world, but the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who is the same today as he was when he walked this Earth. He was the same then as he was when he created the World. That Jesus – that creator, savior, and redeemer – is just a breath, just a prayer away. He is always by our side, and he is always leading those who put their trust in him.

I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
— Psalm 16:7-8 NLT