Thursday, August 27, 2015

In Defense of Anna Duggar

"Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."  Matthew 10:16

Very rarely do I jump on the social media bandwagon of trending discussions.  However, the current trending story regarding Josh and Anna Duggar makes me sad.  Everyone has an opinion... as they always do.  It comes from every side of the issue.  It's easy to think we have all the best answers as we casually swipe across the screen of our Smartphones and then move onto the next topic of the day.

One story I read today came from a mom in Georgia.  I liked her statement that she wished "more people would talk about Anna" because I think it's easy to overlook the pain of others involved in a scandal like this.  But then she talked about her thoughts that Anna Duggar's parents had "utterly, utterly failed her" by not teaching her to stand up for herself against mistreatment.  While she made some good points about women not allowing abuse (and most definitely protecting your children from it), I couldn't get over the fact she probably doesn't actually know Anna Duggar or her parents.  All that any of us know about the circumstances are based on reports from any given media outlet.  Anything other than that, we can only assume based on observation which may be biased based on our own beliefs and past experiences.  This is true of any story in the media on any given day.

If I were to make an assumption based on my own past experience, I would assume that Anna is struggling through a traumatic time in her life right now.  Since she recently had a baby, Anna would be experiencing a lot of hormonal change.  That alone can make the emotional side of dealing with the recent events in her marriage and family one thousand times worse and difficult to sort through what is real and what is not.

On top of the hormonal changes following childbirth, it is likely that this newest baby is not yet sleeping through the night.  That leads me to believe that Anna is probably not sleeping through the night, either.  I remember how it felt to be experiencing deep pain and grief compounded by hormones and a lack of sleep.  It's very difficult.  Add to that taking care of a newborn plus three other young children.  Then compound that with the fact that her husband's past and current affairs are being played out in front of massive audience of wolves poised and ready for attack.  And the attacks are not only directed toward the person who committed the sins, but also of those hurt and devastated by them.  This is a reality that we know is true of the world, but don't really expect to experience in such a radical way in our own lives. It is shocking and devastating to find out that the person you married and love and had babies with may not be the person you thought they were.  Lord, I pray that Anna would a experience a calm and quiet spirit that only comes from You as the world around her is spinning. 

Yes, I also wish more people would talk about Anna.  But what I really wish was that more people would pray for Anna.

Pray that she would be wise as a serpent and also harmless as a dove.  But be wise.  "Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves."  Matthew 10:16

Pray that the Lord would give her eyes to see and ears to hear.  "The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them."  Proverbs 20:12

Pray that she would guard her heart and protect those of her babies.  "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."  Proverbs 4:23

Pray that the Lord would bring other believers alongside her to support her and pray for her. "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Pray that truth would sink into her being.  "Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts:  and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom."  Psalm 51:6

I pray that Anna would have courage to walk the road ahead with boldness to stand up for what is right. These are the same things that I pray for myself and for my own children.  I also pray for her in the wee hours of the night as she rocks her sweet little one to sleep, that the Lord would quiet her soul to find rest in the comfort of His arms.

In the coming days, weeks, months, years... Anna Duggar will make good decisions, and she will make decisions she will later regret and wished she had done differently.  She will make decisions for right now and decisions that will impact the rest of her life.  It's hard to live righteously in a wicked world even without all of the added pressures that she has.  But with every decision that she makes, whether good or bad, I believe that God will use them all to mold her every day into His image.  It may not look like that to us, the outside judging world, as we read the latest stories and news feeds. But I trust that the Lord knows what He is doing... in Anna Duggar's life... in my life... in my kids' lives... in your life.

It's easy to say Anna Duggar should do this or that but it's another thing to actually be living it and making those decisions in real life.  It begins with prayer.  My prayer for her right now is for comfort and wisdom in making decisions for her and her children.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Instead of "I Should Have..." Say This...

I am a thinker.  

I am an analyzer.  

I am introspective.  

I am sometimes borderline neurotic.

Over the years, I've gotten a better handle on personal boundaries and being proactive rather than reactive.  But not always.  Recently, I've found myself saying, "I should have..."

I should have spoken up more.

I should have done this instead of that.

I should have kept my cool when my kids were fighting with each other.

I should have just stayed out of a conversation that didn't have anything to do with me.

I should have...

Should have is a reactive statement and self-defeating.  It doesn't build me up.  It tears me down.  It leaves me clothed in guilt and regret.  The glass is half-empty.

Recently, I have learned a new technique.  Instead of saying "I should have..." say "I would have preferred to..."  

I would have preferred to have spoken up more in that situation.  Thank you, Lord for helping me to see that and I pray that you would give me the boldness and confidence to speak out when appropriate and to use my tongue wisely.

I would have preferred to do this instead of that.  I am not going to beat myself up over this, but will remember these preferences as I face similar situations in the future.

I would have preferred to keep my cool when my kids were fighting with each other.  Instead, I yelled.  I could have handled the situation better and will humble myself and apologize to my children for losing my temper.  I will lead by example of how to respond to anger and frustration.

I would have preferred to stay out of a conversation that didn't have anything to do with me.  Instead, I joined in the gossip.  Going forward, I will be intentional about not involving myself.  I may even come up with some simple one liners to politely excuse myself from the conversation such as, "I'd prefer not talk about that."

Saying "I would have preferred to" instead of "I should have" gives me power over my own emotions and reactions and allows me to be proactive and focus on the future rather than remaining reactive and focusing on the past of all the things I should have done.

Instead of I should have... say I would have preferred to...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Learning to Trust Again

"The greatest friend of truth is time; her greatest enemy is prejudice, and her constant companion humility."  Chuck Colson

I haven't dated much since getting divorced almost 8 years ago.  I went out a few times with a man from church a few years ago, but when that didn't work out, I realized I still had a lot of work to do in me before I was truly ready to give fully in a relationship.  After that, I didn't date again until this past December when I met Joe.

Little did he know, but Joe was not only dating me... he was also dating my past.  My new view within a relationship now came through the lens of tinted glasses.  I was on guard.  My marriage ended so traumatically for me, that I was determined to not let anything touch me in that way again.  I was vigilant in watching for red flags.  I listened for every word, every hesitation.  The slightest movement in the wrong way sent a signal to my brain to lock the gates and call in the guards.

I had a real war going on in my mind with this new relationship.  How could I distinguish between what was real and what was an overreaction due to these tinted glasses that I wore?  Words were a large part of the manipulation I experienced in the past, so they now became a source of question for me.  Could I trust anything?  The Bible says that charm is deceitful.  I enjoy being romanced, but too much charm sets off my "freak-o-meter" as one friend calls it.

What I've realized so far through all if this is that no one is perfect.  We are all flawed individuals.  I have struggles, and Joe has his own as well.  What matters is how we handle them.  A person of weak character can display positive qualities and traits for a time, but it won't last.  Proverbs 26:11 says "As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."  Someone who is sincere and genuine will remain of good character for the long haul.  Sure, we all will continue to make mistakes and to not expect them is foolish.  However, character is something that develops over time, and also proves itself over time.

There are no guarantees in relationships.  Although the wounds of the past may have healed, the scars still remain.  Naomi Zacharias said in her book The Scent of Water, "Scars are an important part of our stories.  A scar can remain as a tribute to what happened; it tells us something went wrong, that someone got hurt.  A scar lets us know that she survived."

Learning to trust again is hard.  Through it all, I'm learning that time is a gift.