Over the last year and a half we have been in a season of rest from full time ministry. And by rest I mean growth. The further we have gotten away from being in ministry, the more circumstances and relationships have started to look more clear. I am no longer looking at everyone else through my binoculars I had on. But God has slowly removed them, and has held a mirror up. What I see is me.
In His love and grace, I have seen what I thought for so long was right and ok by my standards, not. Being an introvert is simply not enough. Age is simply not enough. Being wrapped up in ministry is not enough. The excuses I had for so long aren't enough. Jesus was and is. When all is stripped away, all I have left is me and Him. I have written many blogs before about relationships that were broken, and "Power to The Introvert." Just go down to the search engine and type in "introvert." I am naturally an introvert, yes, however God didn't call me to live by my nature.
My default setting is introvert. In my nature I don't always smile unless something is funny. I usually want to run from anyone I see in Kroger, and Sunday morning small talk is not my jam. But, back in January my prayer was that God would show me how to love people better. Little did I know, it started with me. God was showing me how I have chosen to live in my default setting, and tried to love people with the excuse of, "this is how I am wired." The more I saw my reflection in the mirror, and the more I have sought after this journey to love people better. I have realized, default isn't good enough. Default isn going to love people the best I can. Because I can't love people the best I can. I can only love people by dying to my nature and surrendering to His spirit.
Something in me was changing. My perspective was shifting. Then it happened. Back in May, the enemy shot an arrow. One I didn't see coming, or even realized happened until I looked back. The next couple months I couldn't think. I didn't feel like myself. I was emotionally exhausted. Something was off. I didn't know why I felt the way I felt. I was confused, and didn't know who I could talk to. Thankfully, Jesus put some incredible women in my life, that spoke truth over me and got on their knees in prayer for me. That week in July the stronghold was broken. In my prayer time, I felt Jesus show me what happened. I prayed one of the most dangerous prayers you could ever pray. Love people. If you hadn't heard, this is the second greatest and equally as important to the first commandment. WOAH!
My target I already had, just quadrupled. The enemy had his arrow, he shot it, and boom. I was under attack, and I didn't even realize it. Over the next few weeks after, some pretty incredible wisdom was been given to me about loving people better, that I would love to share with you pastors' wives. Wisdom that came to me in a parenting study I am doing with my life group. It doesn't really talk about loving people better. But since my prayer has been that all year, I have noticed ways to love people better in the most crazy unexpected ways.
1. People love to be around people who are joyful.
One time when I was at a local coffee shop back in February. "Loving people better" was still a fresh prayer. I witnessed something that was a game changer. A girl I knew walked in, completely ignored I was sitting there. However, when she saw another friend of mine their reactions were priceless. They both smiled, threw their arms around each other and asked one another how they were doing. Now rewind, if she would have acknowledged me, I probably would have just said hi, and probably nothing more. I realized after I left, she said hi to my friend because my friend had joy. I didn't.
2. Having a joyful heart is like giving a gift to those around you.
In the parenting video Andy Andrews tells a story. His wife and several girlfriends had bought their friend a cheap $20 t-shirt. When the woman opened her gift, you would have thought she won the lottery. He went on to ask his children after the dinner was over and they were on their way home, "who won tonight?" "It wasn't the women who got the cheap t-shirt. No, it was everyone around her who got to witness her reaction to the gift. The women who got her the shirt were the real winners."
3. Smile when you are talking.
Smiling while you talk might feel weird or awkward at first. But it can completely change a conversation and make the person you are talking to feel valued and loved.
4. It isn't about you, it's about them.
I use to be so guilty of this. I could pursue someone. However, if I didn't feel like they were going to put in equally as much effort or pursue me, then they didn't care or want to be my friend. I would quit. But it isn't about me. I have been learning this past year, who cares if they don't pursue back. I am no longer going to let the enemy lie to me and make me feel unloved. I am going to love the socks off people, and then they won't have a choice not to love me back. And if they don't love me back, it really doesn't matter. I am no longer loving to feel loved. Christ died for me, regardless of what I did with it. He will always love me, regardless if I love Him back. So I am going to love others regardless of what they do with it.
5. One chance might be all you have.
Pastors' wives, we come in contact with people a lot. People on Sunday morning, at the grocery store, walking down the street, wherever. One chance might be the only time we have to love them. Don't miss the opportunity.
I am not always perfect at loving people. Trust me, I am still learning. Just the other day, my sweet husband had to show me a way I didn't realize came across a little harsh. It is a working process. God is still sharpening me. And I love it. I love learning new ways to love people. It excites me. Its fun. It brings me joy like none other.
xo a girl who sleeps with the pastor