There is one word that will offer help and healing to your most important relationships: Love.
Love is relational dynamite that obliterates all obstacles in its path.
Love is an action before it’s a feeling, and it leans into the work of
seeing people change. Don’t be misled: making the choice to love can be
the easiest part of the process. Putting it into practice will require
God’s help and the best you have to offer.
And it will be worth every minute. The powerful profile of love offered in 1 Corinthians 13 closes with this confidence: “Love never fails.” But love never fails to what?
Love never fails to conquer selfishness.
We never have to work at being selfish; it’s just right there, barking
for attention. And nothing brings our selfishness to the surface faster
than living in close proximity with people. Love conquers this obstacle.
Characteristics of selfishness are being impatient, mean, demanding, envious, boastful, unreasonable, and resentful. But love “is
patient and kind . . . does not envy or boast . . . is not arrogant or
rude . . . does not insist on its own way . . . is not irritable or
resentful” (1 Corinthians 13:4–5)
Love never fails to conquer skepticism.
it’s easy to doubt that anything will ever change. But when a family
member or someone you care about disappoints you and you want to bail,
love holds on. Love does not sell out or run away in a crisis. And love
is not skeptical. It believes the best in a person, works for their
good, waits for God’s agenda to be accomplished in their life—and He
uses that love to transform that person.
Love never fails to practice flat-out persistence.
“Love bears all things, believes all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7b)
Because love isn’t skeptical, it keeps moving forward. It doesn’t give
up or keep score. Love tries again, trusts again, and finds a way to
give an opportunity for God to work.
“[Love] hopes all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7c)
Love can hardly wait for someone to become the person God is making
her/him—and amazingly, it does wait. Love is always hopeful, believing
the best, that the Lord’s purposes are being accomplished.
“[Love] endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7d)
In our wounded moments we think, No one will ever do that to me again.
But those words are not a loving statement. When we say them, we’ve
forgotten how desperately we hope others will give us another chance
when we fail. Love is always part of the solution.
choose not to love, we become an obstacle in God’s way. When we choose
to love, we become a tool in God’s hands to transform the lives of those
Start doing the selfless things, the persistent
things, the hopeful things, the enduring things and you will be
practicing the love that never fails.
This post originally appeared on I-Bible.com and you can read more like it, or sign up for daily emails here: http://snip.ly/g6e9q
Do you need Prayer?
Father, I know I don’t have the strength to love like this. I know You
are love, You are my capacity to love. You demonstrate the power of
giving Yourself. So I ask that Your power would be demonstrated in my
life and through me. Cause Your power to be my experience and let it
play a part in transforming those around me. Please teach me to love.
Help me to love. Strengthen my love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
At 11:30PM on Sunday evening July 26, 2013, I began experiencing mild
contractions and felt what I thought was a slow leak in my water sack.
After calling the hospital they asked me to come in to evaluate the
fluids. Chris and I are beyond excited to go start the laboring
process. We loaded up the car with all of the bags and drove the back
roads to the hospital during which we saw a baby deer, multiple does, a
possum, A raccoon, two skunks, & two foxes. Upon arrival at the
hospital they tested the fluid for its pH levels to see if it was
amniotic fluid or not. However, after inconclusive lab test results, we
were sent home. On the drive home we saw 10 skunks. We began referring
to this test run as being "skunked."
I continued experiencing contractions throughout the night but nothing
that took my breath away. The next morning the contractions had slowed
to every half hour, so Chris went to work. I had lunch with Jessica
Tunstill, her 1yr old daughter Willow and son Colton, during which I had
contractions every 10 minutes. However after lunch they slowed to every
half hour again. We stopped by Jessica's house to grab some raspberry
tea (old wives tale) and brewed it at my house afterward. My mom offered
to make dinner for Chris and I that evening and on the menu was beef
stroganoff and a fresh salad. I had no idea this would be my last real
meal before having my daughter. Throughout that evening the contractions
were mild but steadily increasing, including one "take your breath
away" contraction as I laid down for bed. Around 1:30 AM, I was awoken
by the most painful contraction thus far. I got out of bed and began
timing the next few contractions while practicing yoga positions (like
cat and cow) and deep breathing. Around 3:30 AM the pain was immense
enough that I woke Chris up to help me time them. They ranged in length
from 11 seconds to 60 seconds and occurred anywhere from 3 to 7 times
per hour. During the slow hours I did things like take showers and
nibble on a banana, which was the only food I had that day. Finally at
9:51 A.M. after a 58 second contraction that came within 3 minutes of
the previous one, Chris called the hospital and they suggested we come
in. We loaded up the car with our overnight bags for the second day in a
row (haha), and Chris made me smile as he opened the door for me to get
in. I felt every single bump on that 15 minute ride to the hospital and
was shaking like a leaf! I had three contractions in the truck, one on
the walk through the front door of the hospital and one against the wall
in the hallway to my labor room. Strangers asked if we needed help
(which made me cry), a doctor (named Patella) held the elevator and got
me a wheelchair. I was met by a crew of nurses outside the doors to the
birthing center. I began to cry and they asked if it was the pain or
the nerves. I said I didn't know, but I'm sure it was everything
combined and the lack of food, too. I was shaking like crazy, too.
Chris signed us in at 10:40am.
They immediately dressed me in a gown and my nurse, Becky, did a check
to verify that I was 100% effaced and 3 cm dilated. The lab tech drew my
blood and my nurse inserted my IV. I requested an epidural and since it
was during the day, the anesthesiologist was on duty and I received it
within the hour. It hurt a little bit and I felt some funny electricity
in my right foot as he administered the drugs.
During that same hour my waters broke. Once the epidural kicked in, my
nurse inserted a catheter and set me up with a pink peanut shaped yoga
ball between my legs to help my cervix open further. I shifted from side
to side and within an hour I had dilated to a five! Since I was feeling
fine from the epideral, we invited Chris's family back to our labor
room for a while and after they left my family came in as well, which
was nice so they could experience what I was going through with me. They
mainly watched the monitors go up and down and I joked, "Am I having a
contraction?" My mom and sister got me a wet washcloth for my forehead
and my sister stroked my hair. At some point during this time, the
doctor on duty (Reardon) came in and ruptured a bubble in my water sack,
as well as broke through some scar tissue on my cervix that was
stopping it from dilating further. Within another hour or so I had
dilated to an eight and the baby was at a plus one station. I was hoping
to be able to deliver before 6 PM shift change, however the new doctor
(Olhausen) did an exam and changed his reporting from dilated to a seven
and a zero station. I felt very nauseous and even threw up. We had just
sent our family back out to the waiting room expecting for me to begin
pushing at 6 PM. I was pretty bummed as I had not dilated any further
and from Dr. Ohlhausen's report I felt like I was moving backwards. It
was at this time that I also met my new nurse Janet and I began feeling every contraction
again. I guess when they changed out the bag of drugs in my line to my
epidural they failed to restart the 15 minute drip. I had labored for
twelve 15 minutes cycles without any pain meds. I began to push the
button on the epidural for pain relief but could only get in two15
minute sessions before I got cut off so that I would be able to feel my
pelvic floor (push) muscles.
Janet had me doing a few different poses as the doctor had said the baby
was face up and she needed to turn in order to be delivered. Within two
hours I was dilated to 10 cm and the baby had turned.
Around 8 PM I started to push. I had my legs in stirrups and my hands
were gripping on these bars on the side of the bed to pull myself
forward. My first few pushes revealed the baby's head, however once the
doctor came in I was not making very much progress. We pushed for an
hour and a half and eventually the doctor stepped out to go to the
bathroom. My nurse Janet immediately took his position and begin
coaching me on how to push towards her face. She also massaged my
perineum. After five more contractions, she called in Dr. Olhausen.
Within a few more contractions the baby's head came out and I was done
pushing. Her body followed and Chris cut the cord. Even though the
doctor said, "Cut here, between this clamp and these hemostats," Chris
had to repeat, "Here?"just to be sure. The total time for pushing was
Kaya Lynn Surber was born at 9:51 PM on Tuesday, July 28, 2015. She
weighed 7 pounds and 13 ounces and measured 20 inches long. Her eyes
were blue, as well as her wrinkly hands and feet. I was able to have her
on my chest for about eight seconds before the nursery team whisked her
away and began working on suctioning out her lungs, her nose, her
mouth, and cleaning her up. Her breathing was pretty fast. They seemed
pretty concerned but eventually let me have her back for some skin on
skin time. During that first hour I also breast-fed with a nipple shield
and around midnight we invited the family to come back and meet her.
The cameras were out in full force and the family got to witness her first bath.
So many people try to explain the miracle of becoming a parent as the
greatest love you ever feel, but that is only beginning. There really
are no words to justify the 40 weeks (and sometimes longer if you go past
your due date) that you wait to meet the little person who has been
growing inside of you, kicking you, giving you indigestion, hiccuping, making your
hormones a roller coaster ride – sometimes for the better, sometimes not
so much – and seemingly although you know it's a human being making
those awkward little (and big) movements, you still wonder if it is an
alien growing in there.
So when the time comes to go through the most painful contractions - to
rise above them one by one - and to become a mother, it's almost like
even though you know you're going to have a baby you still can't believe
it until it actually happens. Once that little person appears in front
of your eyes, it makes all that waiting, eating five times a day, crying
over nothing meltdowns, an oddly shaped growing body that interrupts
sleep and sex, the multitude of people asking you over and over "Is she
here yet?" and the nesting - oh my goodness the nesting…the struggle
is real! But once that little person appears and you see her for the
first time - it's as if the world has changed forever, for better, for
now this little human being depends a hundred percent on you and you
couldn't be any happier.
There is a zen saying, "Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water."
What’s the difference? The tasks are the same. The need is the same.
What about the frame of mind? Who is chopping? Who is carrying water?
When you labor, stay awake. Notice the frame of mind you bring to your work.
Do you approach your work as if it were a nuisance?
Do you remove your consciousness from work so that you are filled with resentment or worry?
What would you need to do to be more fully present in your work?
Practice mindfulness in work. It does little good to attain clarity of mind on your meditation cushion if you lose it as soon as you become active.
Start with simple activities like brushing your teeth, ironing clothes, or washing dishes. Be fully alert as you move.
Notice the position of your body in space. Notice the feelings in your body as you move. Pay attention to the thoughts that enter your mind when you do the task. See if you can let them go and just focus on the work itself.
If you are cleaning a countertop, feel the sponge in your hand. Feel the wetness. Feel the texture. Observe how the sponge moves in your hand from the sink to the counter. Sense your movements as you scrub. What do your eyes see? What do you hear as you work? Clean that countertop as if it were the most important thing you could do. Move with fluid motions. Waste no energy. Allow yourself the grace of economy of motion. Be grateful for the countertop, the sponge, the water, the soap. Be grateful for the hand, the arm, the whole body that can move a sponge. Be thankful for the floor you stand on and the roof that protects you. Without letting your mind wander too far, be grateful for all the circumstances that put you where you are at that moment with that sponge and that water and that countertop.
We travel to the ocean or to mountains, rivers and canyons, in part to escape the mundane world of work, but also to experience the awe that arises more spontaneously in nature’s magnificence.
We give ourselves an incredible gift when we can experience some of the same awe in the mundane world of our daily lives. :)
The weed that grows in the crack of a sidewalk is a phenomenon as miraculous as the redwood tree that towers into the sky.
The raindrops that streak the window are no less an occasion for awe than the spray that dampens our face at the waterfall.
The fingers that tap a keyboard are as worthy of praise as the feet of a ballet dancer.
When we open awareness to the tasks in our lives they become lighter.
When we are able to be in the moment, we no longer feel compelled to watch the clock.
Whatever your work might be, bring all of yourself to it.
When you are fully present, you may find that your labor is no longer a burden.
The words above came to me after floating in a pool of warm water and epsom salt for an hour.
This spa service is similar to the old style "deprivation tanks" and they are meant to isolate the senses and aid in meditation and relaxation.
My first experience was quite different (you can read about it here) and feeling how much more inner peace I have now was refreshing.
It is quite an experience and lovely if you enter with patience and are able to find deep relaxation.
I highly recommend to all, regardless of size, shape, age, religion, emotion, opinion, and hopeless abandon.
You will definitely find something in that tank that inspires you.
For me the biggest take away (which I tried to touch on in the words above) was the idea that we all have a glowing light that radiates from within and upon meeting someone for the first time, or seeing them after a long time, it is visible to our spirit and our senses.
Our lights may dance and frolic and play, or they may be seen as a threat to a person's comfortable darkness.
Whatever the case, I feel it is important to always keep aware of our spiritual light dances with each other and to try to keep our personal energy moving so that our relationships, no matter new or old, will always blossom and grow.
I have found my energy again and I feed it by juicing and eating a healthy diet, exercising, spending quality time with family and friends, and thanking God for all that I am blessed with.
-as attributed to Jesus Christ in The Gospel of Thomas
As I typed the email I felt completely at peace.
I was saying everything that I believed in my heart and knew that it must be shared to avoid miscommunication, hurt feelings, and more of the same mistakes.
I've been down this road many times and know how easily my compassionate human nature can trump the conscious voices of my past trials talking clearly in my head; the spiritually intuitive stabs at my stomach; the pain that creeps out and reminds me,
"Not like this, not again Amanda, you know better."
But, life is a series of tests. I must take the same one in different forms over and over until I finally pass. Then, I will get a shiny new test, designed just for me. It never ends and I am an eternal student.
Just as some of life's tests are really easy, others are equally hard, constantly tripping me up and holding me back until I finally accept the truth and see the hard-to-swallow answers.
Today I took a test. I call it a leap of faith.
By trusting in the Lord, I composed a beautiful email, full of my thoughts and truths and written from a place of love. It felt theraputic to put those feelings down into words and to read, and reread them until they completely captured the message I hoped to send.
I said a prayer, then I hit send.
My heart began to beat out of my chest and fear fell all around me, like dark walls cutting off my oxygen supply. My breathing sped up. Did I made a mistake? Where did my peace go? Questions began popping in my head and I started to continuously check my email for a reply that never came.
Oh how I wished I had just wrote it all for myself and then talked about it instead, but I always seem to leave important things out when I try it this way. And oddly enough, my deep compassion sometimes physically hinders my ability to say what I am truly feeling, for fear of hurting the feelings of the person on the receiving end.
But nevertheless, I am a writer, so instead I wrote. And I sent.
Eventually, I stop checking for the reply and start praying more instead, that the peace I felt was real and God's will should be done. My peace returns.
Six hours later, I reflect on the fear and conclude it was my embodiment of doing something the wrong way for so long, that when I finally set myself free, the wrongness didn't want to be kicked out without making a mess first. By letting go of old ways, and setting a new way into motion, I could see how those failed tests were all just big grumpy messes, holding on and clinging, not willing to go without a final rumble inside.
Unfortunately for the mess, I've decided to clean house and am now keeping my eyes (and heart) open for my new test. The next level baby. One that will allow me to grow into a happier, more peaceful, more loving human being.
Today, a leap of faith taught me that God always has my back, as long as I listen and dedicate my days, experiences and relationships to Him.