Dear Ginger: Bullying

dear ginger

Dear M,

Thank you again for your willingness to write in and share the struggles you are currently facing. Last week we took some time to talk about a large portion of your letter: what to do when you don’t like how you feel or how you look. I hope you’ve been encouraged by that discussion.

I wanted to take additional time this week to address the other component in your letter. Specifically these sentences:

There is a girl who called me a “fat seal” this year and that really hurt me. She’s bullied me since the 5th grade and this year I started cutting. I told my parents but I really need someone’s advice who has also struggled with not liking yourself. The very first night when you talked about how I’m God’s masterpiece. But I still haven’t figured out to deal with her because she constantly likes to bully me.“

You aren’t the first to bring up this dilemma, nor will you be the last. It deeply saddens me to know that bullying of any kind takes place in our schools, much less between two girls. Navigating middle and high school is tough enough without the added emotional stress of a bully. I am so sorry that you are experiencing so much hurt. I want you to know that I care about your pain. I can understand why the words of someone else have the power to keep you in self-worth limbo. I experience some similar comments when I was younger… and they still hurt.

I was also a child (and teen) who was very insecure about how I was perceived by others. It doesn’t take much for your confidence to be stripped away, does it? I can vividly recall the words of the unkind boy at my grandmother’s swim club and the girl I overheard in passing at camp. I don’t remember what I wore on the first day of fourth grade but I can clearly picture a boy walking up to me quite candidly and declaring, “My dad said you got fat this summer.

Not, “How was your summer?” or “I wonder what 4th grade will be like?” or even “I don’t know what to think of Mrs. So-and-so.” Not only do I wonder what compelled the boy to share this information, but I also wonder what made his father decide to proclaim that message to his son. One sentence and I carry it always. Isn’t it amazing how hearing from others can affect how we feel about ourselves?

Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.

That’s a joke, right?

Words sting. They can scar. But rather than just accept the negativity and hide those thoughts in the back of our minds, I want to encourage us all with this verse.

The weapons we use in our fight are not the world’s weapons but God’s powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds. We destroy false arguments; we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:4-5, GNT)

Why start a discussion about bullying with a verse from the Bible? I believe the Bible holds the answers for some of our most challenging situations. When a bully comes with harsh words this verse reminds us that we destroy the false arguments and instead choose to believe what our Creator says about us.

1. Take those hurtful thoughts captive and replace them with truth from the Bible. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” What usually causes a bully to act out? Insecurity. Don’t let this girl’s insecurity rob you of the worth and confidence you have from your Maker. God has a unique and special plan for your life, so don’t let the words of another keep you from remembering that!

“When you choose to believe God’s Word, your emotions may not follow immediately. Does that mean you aren’t trusting God? No. Faith is often exercised in the context of a struggle, in the midst of conflicting thoughts and emotions… When we trust in God, we will experience many obstacles to faith, but placing our trust in His Word- not our feelings- will see us through.” (Robert S. McGee, The Search for Significance)

2. Talk to your parents, a teacher, or a trusted adult if the bullying continues or escalates. I know you mentioned that you had spoken to your parents at least one occasion. Be sure to keep them updated and apprised of the situation. I realize no one wants to be a tattletale, but if this situation is causing you as much pain as you say, it’s worth doing whatever you can to make it stop.

And you’ve likely tried this, but I still want to mention it. Firmly look this girl in the eye and tell her to please stop. Use a clear and confident voice. If it seems as though she is going to lash out again, simply walk away and remove yourself from the situation.

3. Pray for this girl. What?! I know you might think I’m crazy, but here me out. We already discussed the fact that this young woman is likely struggling with a large dose of insecurity. Things could be really difficult at her home. Perhaps she’s been bullied before and this is her way of making sure she’s the biggest fish in the pond. Whatever the case, chances are she’s wounded and hurting on the inside.

Here’s the thing, there are several of Jesus’ words that I’d prefer not to practice. I don’t want to love my enemies; I’d rather be cold and distant to them. It’s hard to forgive.

You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” (Matthew 5:43-44, NLT)

Prayer for your enemies is one of the deepest forms of love, because it means that you have to really want that something good happen to them. You might do nice things for your enemy without any genuine desire that things go well with them. But prayer for them is in the presence of God who knows your heart. Prayer is interceding with God on their behalf, and the prayer Jesus has in mind here is always for their good. He is not talking about praying for our enemies to be run over by a truck. He’s not talking about praying for lightening to take them out.  We are to pray that their hearts and ours be softened, be changed, be reconciled. That may seem far-fetched and impossible right now, but I’ve witnessed firsthand how praying for someone who hurt me has actually released me from a lot of pain and anger.

4. Cultivate positive relationships. Some seasons of life can feel pretty challenging and lonely if we don’t have friends to turn to. I’m praying right now that you have girls in your class or at church who can love and encourage you for the beautiful young woman you are. If you feel like those kind of friendships are few and far between, then begin praying regularly that God would bring you a kindred friend.

When I moved a few years ago I began to pray a prayer that went something like this, “God, you know that I’m lonely. I would love to have a friend who will encourage me to grow, and will challenge me to be the best version of myself. Help me to be a kind and generous friend to whomever you bring into my life.” God has slowly and surely provided new relationships to fit the bill of kindred friends.

M- God is for you. He will give you the wisdom, strength, and encouragement you need each day. Don’t lose heart. I’m praying for you and here if you want to write again.

Following,
Ginger

Dear Ginger: A Challenging Friendship

Dear Ginger,

What do you do about friends that aren’t really good friends to you? I have a friend that is mostly negative and bitter. He gets mad at me often and says some mean things because he’s lonely and hurt. I always forgive him and try to stay his friend and encourage him. Sometimes he stays mad at me for days, weeks, even a month and then says he misses our friendship.

I get so confused as to whether to end this friendship or keep trying to encourage him. I eventually do miss him after a certain time. We have known each other for 10 years. Right now, he is not talking again to me. Eventually he will contact me. If I respond then we seem to fall into the same trap of friends again and into him being mad at me. Should I cut him off completely?

This has been going on for a couple of years. What would Jesus do?

Thank you,

D

D, Thank you so much for your note. This sounds like a very frustrating situation. I’m so sorry that your friendship is in a cycle that seems bent on repeating itself. While I do not know your friend or exactly what he says to hurt you, it doesn’t sound like he is treating you like much of a friend at all.

I know that the Lord is honored by your willingness to forgive this man. It’s clear that you have done everything in your power to provide multiple opportunities for him to change his behavior and responses, all to no avail.

I suppose I want to remind you that the Jesus who said to pray for those who persecute us and to forgive as we have been forgiven is also the very same Jesus who told the disciples to shake the dust off of their sandals if they were not welcome in a city or home.

Good friendships are life-giving and sharpening.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIrV)

Negative friendships and relationships tend to have the opposite effect.

“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV)

From what you have described, I don’t believe you’ve found yourself in a sharpening friendship. So how should you respond?

Continue to forgive. 

“Forgive the things you are holding against one another. Forgive, just as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13b, NIrV)

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the other person to die.” -Anne Lamott

From your letter it sounds as if this is something you are attempting to do each time you are wronged. Forgiveness is for our own protection, it releases us from bitterness and the need to hurt back. Dr. Less Parrott III says, “Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. One may forgive the violations of another person yet not continue a relationship with the offender… While forgiveness is an indispensable prelude to reconciliation, it does not require a continuing relationship with the violator.”


Yes, we are called to love everyone, but that doesn’t mean we have to be friends with everyone. That may sound like a harsh reality, but I believe that sometimes it’s simply better to take a step back from a friendship. If a relationship displays repeated patterns of hurt, it may be time to reevaluate the situation. The Bible says that for the sake of the Gospel we should be prepared for hardships and persecution, but I don’t believe that’s something expected of you in close friendships. Here’s what I mean…

Loving our friends means being willing to say the hard truth.

It is “…a mistake to confuse forgiveness with excusing. Excusing is letting a person off the hook. Forgiveness keeps people accountable for their behavior. Nor is forgiveness tolerance. We do not have to tolerate what people do just because we have forgiven them for doing it.” (Smedes, Forgive and Forget.)

As I read your letter I couldn’t help but imagine how I would respond if you told me this was a dating relationship. If you were a teen girl writing in about a boy you had been seeing for a few weeks I would encourage you to let this relationship go. In the book, “The Art of Rejection” by Hayley and Michael DiMarco, they write, “Two people can destroy each other in ways other than abuse. If you find that your spirit is weakening, your heart is breaking and you don’t know why, then maybe you are in a destructive relationship. If you can’t say that this person makes you better emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, you need to think about changing the situation. Relationships should make you both better, not worse.”

I believe that principle can easily apply to friendships with the opposite sex. I’m not here to tell you that those aren’t possible; I just want to check in and make sure that you aren’t taking on a role that one of his male friends should fill. (I do hope this guy has close male friendships.) If this is a pattern of behavior in all of his relationships, this man has a true heart issue going on that will require time, energy, prayer, and even counseling. Long story short: I don’t believe that you are the one to fix him or this friendship.

My advice, and I am not a pastor, counselor, expert or psychologist: Lay out your feelings clearly. Express what behavior you expect from a friend and how he continues to betray the trust worthy of a friend. Explain that you are willing to be friends if he is willing to act as a friend. Anything else and you will have to step away from your friendship.

open

May you have the courage and tact to move forward with peace and without animosity.

Please know that this response comes humbly your way.

Following,
Ginger

Wait

 

Ten years ago I enrolled in one of my favorite college courses. Not only was the professor a personal hero and mentor, but the class itself was engaging, inspiring, and challenging. I was organizing my desk last month when I came across journal entries required as part of my grade for “Developing Faith in Children.”

It’s been so interesting to read back through the entries written by my 21 year-old self in the spring of 2003. Each entry in the book covered an assigned topic and the one I’m going to share stands out today more than the others- and not just for some poor grammar choices. It’s a letter I wrote to my child. I don’t have much to mention about it, I think the lesson I was learning in my own life is fairly apparent through these words.

To my child,

I am writing you a letter you might not expect to receive. If you are anything like I was around your age, you are starting to see a very interesting occurence. Maybe you saw it in the 5th grade, or maybe you will finish high school before you notice… but I doubt that. What I want you to remember over the years to come as everyone else seems to be “pairing up” is that relationships are meant to be cherished… BUT having a boyfriend or girlfriend cannot make you “complete”!

No other person can ever make you whole. I say this today, and I will say it over and over for the rest of your life.

Your fulfillment can only be found in a solid, intimate, growing relationship with _______. Care to guess? With your Creator! Another person can enhance your fulfillment, but they cannot be your fulfillment. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. It took me years before I realized that when my security, self-image, and wholeness were based truly on God, it didn’t matter who was or wasn’t in my life.

It’s the only way to go! Your purpose and self-esteem won’t fluctuate because they’ll be grounded in God. It’s an amazing thing. Will you trust Him to bring the right relationships into your life at just the right time? I hope and pray daily that you will.

Dear one, God wants your fulfillment even more than you do. His timing is perfect. Trust Him. Romans 8:28-29 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his son.” So often we make this verse seem like a Christmas list – everything will be GOOD. But the promise is that this “good” is our conformity into the likeness of Christ – an event BETTER good! I love the way that Beth Moore puts it when she says that “God is faithfully putting a puzzle together in each life so that the final picture will resemble Christ.”

Again, I know this is not the “letter” you expected – but it was on my heart to tell you. I love you so very much… but He loves you even more!

“But these things I plan won’t happen right away… slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” Habakkuk 2:3 (The Message)

He’s never early! He’s never late!

Lifting you up,
Mom

Reblogged from Beauty4Ashes

Reblogged from Beauty4Ashes

 

I’m not sure what you are waiting for today, but my hope is that Habakkuk 2:3 encourages you in your own journey. I likely wouldn’t have chosen my own story from the front end of things, but I am so thankful for the One who is never early and never late. His timing is perfect and thankfully, He does strengthen us as we wait.

Following,
Ginger

Timing

His timing, His purposes, His wisdom…

In July of 2009 I turned down an amazing job at one of my favorite places on earth that would have subsequently taken me back to Texas. I was convinced that God had me in the desert to see things through. I started my job in the youth department, jumped back on stage in a local theatre production, began planning for an in-house girl’s conference, and made preparations to travel to Mozambique with the church. I felt like God had showered opportunity and blessing in spades! But mountain tops tend to come with their fair share of valleys. The end of September found me discouraged, opportunities removed, and with loneliness entering the picture in a very real and palpable way.

10-1-2009 | Journal Entry

I feel like I’ve become an emotional mess. I see myself not able to take any of the advice and wisdom I give to others. I am no more able to take every thought captive than I am to keep from crying when someone asks me how I’m doing. I am giving far too much weight to the opinions of others. I am not clinging to Him alone. I lay on my bed and wept several times last night. The only thing that could stop my crying was to read Psalms aloud at full force through the tears. I am fighting loneliness, I am fighting self-deprecation, I am fighting… and

I feel like I am losing.

I shared as much with a few near and dear ones who came to my side and poured gentle truth onto my searing wounds. A friend wrote me a long letter and I copied these few sentences and pasted them into my journal…

Do you trust him? Do you really believe that what he has is better, even if it significantly harder and costs you more?  

A few days later my mother forwarded this devotional to encourage my heart…

Before the Flood, God had said, “Come into the ark” (Gen. 7:1, NKJV). The clear implication was that God was already inside, inviting Noah to join Him there. After the Flood, when God said, “Come out of the ark” (Gen. 8:16, NIV), the implication is that He had left and was asking Noah to follow. The great God of the Exodus Who led His people out of bondage to slavery in Egypt, parting the Red Sea to allow them to pass on dry ground and so escape the armies of Pharaoh – that same great God led Noah, his wife, his sons, his sons’ wives, and all the animals out of the ark!

God’s greatness has not been diluted in any way over the years of time. He is just as great today as He has been in the past. So why do you think He cannot lead you out of trouble? Why would you think He cannot lead your entire life so that you find peace and fulfillment? Why do you think He is unable to lead your children in the right direction that will be pleasing to Him and good for them? God is great! (Anne Graham Lotz)

And I began to cling to hope.

10-15-2009 | Journal Entry

What do I know to be true?

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you. (Psalm 33:18-22, NIV)

You watch, your eyes are on those who fear you. Your love is unfailing. You deliver from death. You keep those who hope in you alive during famine. You are my shield and my help. You cause my heart to rejoice. We wait in hope for you. Your name is holy. Your love rests upon us. I put my hope in you.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

You are CLOSE to me and you save me even in my broken spirit.

On November 2, 2009 I met the man who is now my husband. The journal entries from November are filled with excitement and joy; a far cry from the hurts of September and October. I watched the Lord stand as my shield and help during some of my saddest moments, and I watched wide-eyed as He brought me to a place of abundance.

Today we celebrate our 2nd anniversary. I look back on the heartaches of 2009 and am so thankful for the love and support from friends and family who encouraged me to never stop seeking and trusting. I wanted adventure, direction, and healing in MY timing and within MY parameters. When I was willing to release my grasp and trust His lead, I could slowly glimpse the unexpected and beautiful story He was telling… in His perfect timing.

 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Amen.

Following and celebrating,
Ginger

Grace in Relationships

I love my friends. But I also often struggle with feeling responsible for the behavior and happiness of everyone around me. Can you identify? I will pretty much do whatever it takes to keep the peace and avoid conflict. But I’ve taken that behavior to the extreme. I will offer five hundred restaurants for my group of friends to choose from, but I do not want to be the person in charge of making that final decision. That’s too much pressure. I could choose the WRONG place.

As a recovering “good girl” I’m learning that having grace-filled relationships doesn’t mean avoiding conflict at all costs. Ephesians 4 does remind us “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,” but I would be doing a disservice to my friendships if I never expressed my own opinion. Loving someone doesn’t mean just appeasing them. Love wants the best for another, even if that process is initially painful.

“Wounds made by a friend are intended to help, but an enemy’s kisses are too much to bear.” (Proverbs 27:6, GWT)

“It is so hard to receive criticism, but if you can’t you are showing one of the prime characteristics of a fool, according to Proverbs. Understandably, it is easier to receive criticism from someone who really loves you, but even then, it is always hard to listen to something that will bring you pain… I believe that one of the purposes of best friendships is to help one another recognize blind spots.” (Dee Brestin, The Friendships of Women)

My desire for approval sometimes puts me on the defense when it comes to receiving constructive criticism in my life. But thankfully, a new understanding of God’s grace is changing the way I give and receive love. His grace frees me from the need constant approval. Living in light of grace means that love is the highest priority in all relationships.

“Grace isn’t natural, but supernatural. The natural responses when you get hurt are either to strike back or to withdraw. When we instead step out of the way and allow God to work through us, responding with unfailing love, even perennials that have endured a deep freeze may lift up their wilting heads and live.” (Dee Brestin, The Friendships of Women)

How does God’s grace transform your relationships?

Following and learning,
Ginger

Heads Up!  A GRACEFUL GIVEAWAY! Two copies of “Graceful” the book by Emily Freeman are up for grabs this week. Follow this link for details and entry form!

“Because we are loved and known by a graceful God, we are free to relax our shoulders, unclench our fists, and open our hands to receive all he has to offer. And the best thing he has to offer is, quite simply, himself.” (Emily P. Freeman, Graceful: Letting go of your try-hard life.)

Heartaches, Together

I’ve made a conscious effort in the last few weeks to let down my walls and be vulnerable with lots of people in my life. I have always been eager to share frustrations, hopes, and past hurts with my friends. I don’t have a problem talking about personal pain, as long as it’s in the past. I struggle with sharing my current hurts. Because of that, I’m slowly but surely discovering that I’ve missed out on a huge blessing found in friendships and community: having someone to walk through the hard stuff with me NOW.

I shared struggles and fears with two different groups of women last week. I mustered all of my courage and kept sharing even when the tears threatened to steal my words. I don’t know why I’ve hesitated to share in the past. The outpouring of love and support received since sharing is so encouraging.

Handwritten notes, emails, texts, phone calls, specific questions… I am blown away by the support.

It’s true. Vulnerability hastens community.

I reconnected with an old friend this weekend. We bridged the gap created by our 19 year-old selves and became fast friends once more as women in our 30s. There were tears shed, hearts shared, and hours spent catching up on the years we’d let slip by. I’m so thankful for women who challenge me to seek restoration in relationships.

Our discussions last week about authentic community and sharpening friendships… they aren’t just theory or bullet points. I’m witnessing El Roi, the God Who Sees Me, change and grow my fragile confidence through the relationships all around me.

The heartaches have a way of pointing me back to the tender love of our God. And for that, I will always be thankful.

“And the God I’ve come to know by sheer grace, the Jesus I met in the grounds of my own self, has furiously loved me regardless of my state- grace or disgrace.  And why?  For His love is never, never, never based on our performance, never conditioned by our moods- of elation or depression.  The furious love of God knows no shadow of alteration or change.  It is reliable.  And always tender.” – Brennan Manning

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Staying Sharp

Genesis 1… God looks over EVERYTHING that He had made and says that it was “very good.”  Chapter 2 says that everything was completed and God rests.  God places Adam in the Garden and tells him to tend it and watch over it.  The garden is beautiful, there is no sin, and yet, note what God says… “IT IS NOT GOOD FOR MAN TO BE ALONE.”

We were designed for community. We all want to belong. That is one reason why social networking has been so successful: we want to be known – to feel a part of something. Fellowship is HUGE component of our journey.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another…” (Proverbs 27:17, NIRV)

In order for consistent growth to occur, we need to be sharpened on a consistent basis. So who challenges you? Who stands beside you?  Who do you challenge? This level of accountability won’t happen over night but there are lots of different relationships that can help us spiritually. A mentor, someone to disciple you, an accountability partner- they have different titles, but the goal is the same… to keep you sharp. S.H.A.R.P.

1. S = Seek out the right “THEY.”

I pinned the following on Pinterest last week…

Consider your “go-to” numbers in your cell phone. Are those numbers people who challenge you? It’s easy to play it safe and surface, I would challenge us all to surround ourselves with relationships that will sharpen us.

2. H = Honor the commitment.

Life is hard!  School, work, homework, conflicts and even friendships can even be a source of the load we carry.

Spiritual commitments take an effort to maintain. We usually either forget about them after a while or simply break them.  It’s hard to manage life and our own relationship with God, much less continued relationship with others. But remember, the Bible says we need one another!

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NLT)

3. A = Ask hard questions.

As hard as it can be to share, it can sometimes be just as hard to be the one asking the tough questions.  Trust me, it’s hard to find someone who will commit to keeping you accountable. I tried several times in high school but I didn’t know what to do with my set “accountability” time.  Sometimes it starts with one person being able to ask the hard questions like: “I know you’ve been really down lately. I want to help, what’s going on?” Or, “How are things going with your step-dad?”

You can talk about anything and everything that relates to your journey. The time doesn’t always have to be about the tough subjects, but it should include them. Talk about the things God has been teaching you or the victories you’ve had in your struggles.

“The slap of a friend can be trusted to help you, but the kisses of an enemy are nothing but lies.”  (Proverbs 27:6, NCV)

4. R = Respond honestly.

It can be embarrassing to reveal your deep, dark secrets to a friend, especially the first time. “She’ll think I’m gross, stupid, unchristian.” The fear of a friend perceiving us in a negative light keeps us from taking that step of admitting our weaknesses.  While most people act like they have it all together, everyone is struggling with sins and weaknesses of their own.

-Sin has LESS power once we confess and bring it to the light!
-Keeping things secret causes them to grow and fester like infected wounds, bringing more pain until the wound is treated.
-Accountability is only effective IF it’s truthful.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16a, NIV)

5. P = Pray together AND for each other.

Once you’ve both had a chance to talk make sure to pray while you are together. Maybe even say a short prayer before you start sharing to get focused on this time together. Also, pray for one another in-between your meetings. Consider texting to say, “Praying for you today!”

“Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.” (Romans 12:5, NLT)

Remember – quality friendships don’t just happen, they require intentionality.  Since we are all imperfect, even good friends will hurt one another.  Forgiveness is a must!

Following,
Ginger

Smokey the Bear

Dramatic, yes. Drama, no.

Yesterday we discussed the makings of authentic community, so I thought it might be prudent to talk about the ways that we can keep the drama at bay. Say it with me…

Only you can prevent relationship drama. (Did you hear Smokey the Bear saying it? That’s how I hear it in my head.)

Relationships are imperfect because the people involved are imperfect. And while we cannot control the behavior of others,(wouldn’t that be lovely?!) we DO get to choose our responses and reactions. Let’s tackle the drama…

1. Ditch the unrealistic expectations.

-People will disappoint us.
-When someone fails you, don’t be stunned.
-The people closest to us have the greatest ability to hurt us.
-When a person does let us down, it is usually not intentional.
-Two options: Cover an offense with love or Confront in love.

Most hurts are not a reflection of the person’s dislike for us, but rather a reflection of a hardship in the person’s life or a character flaw. For the forgetful friend I could text “Are we still on for this afternoon?” rather than demanding something she cannot give.

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” Proverbs 27:5 and “Wounds from a friend can be trusted.” (Proverbs 27:6)

2. Run from gossip.

This should go without saying, right? Even if the world says that this is one vice worth indulging in, the Word says otherwise.

“Don’t spread gossip and rumors. “Don’t just stand by when your neighbor’s life is in danger. I am GOD.” (Leviticus 19:16, MSG)

“Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly?” (Proverbs 18:8, MSG)

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV)

“When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day. Do not give the devil away to defeat you.” (Ephesians 4:26, NCV)

And while we are at it, how about: But in your anger, do not post on facebook. Let’s avoid airing thinly veiled shock on social media. “Sarah cannot believe how careless some people can be.” Don’t hate. Communicate. WITH that person.

3. Abandon grudges.

“Forgive the things you are holding against one another. Forgive, just as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13b (NIrV)

“Relationships don’t thrive because the guilty are punished but because the innocent are merciful.” – Max Lucado

Don’t simmer. Be a communication winner. Bitterness destroys people. Give grace. Just because someone doesn’t act or respond in the way I think they should doesn’t mean they don’t love or care about me.

Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.” (Proverbs 10:12, NLT)

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32, NIV)

4. Make peace with rejection.

FRIENDSHIPS are seasonal. People come in and out of our lives for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes you just have to bounce the ball and see if they bounce it back.

If you truly believe this:“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28, NLT) …then you see rejection as the reset button.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3, NIV)

“The dynamics of a relationship can feel like a ‘source of life’ – Then, when that person withdraws slightly, it feels like death. But instead, this is bondage. Only Jesus is our source of life…” The Friendships of Women – by Dee Brestin

5. Add relationships that bring life.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NLT)

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIrV)

Ever tried to cut with a dull knife? Frustrating! Properly sharpened knives take that which was dull & ineffective and makes it highly functioning and highly effective! Tomorrow we will talk at length about cultivating friendships that keep us sharpened!

Until then, say it with me: PROUD TO BE, DRAMA FREE.

Following,
Ginger

Learning to Say “No Thank You”

I’m honored to be guest-posting over at Single Roots Blog today!

 

How to graciously say “no thank you” to another date.

I moved to Arizona from my beloved state of Texas in the fall of 2006. I came alone, not knowing anyone. Eventually I did what any single and adventurous young woman might do; I signed up for online dating.

I actually met my husband through online dating in 2010, but my first go-around wasn’t quite as successful. My first date was with a very nice man who loved God and others. He just also happened to be… clingy? Yes. Clingy. I received a laminated poem on our second date. When I broke things off after the third date there were tears. His. Not mine.

To keep reading follow this link over to Single Roots to read the rest of this post!

Following,

Ginger

True You: In Dating

There was an ad campaign by Dr. Pepper that launched in 2002. “Be you. Drink Dr. Pepper.” Sounds great, right? It’s catchy and points to the American ideal of being an individual. Take a closer look. Be you… Drink Dr. Pepper. Problem: I don’t drink Dr. Pepper. I never have. I moved from RC Cola to Coke and then Diet Coke. I’ve never been a “pepper.”

I’ve always been a Ginger. ;)

That’s why it’s so important for me to share this point in our True You series: Be yourself… even if it means losing the guy.

I know it sounds totally cheesy and like it’s part of a school assembly, but hear me out.

I’m a random, unique individual. I know that. My family certainly knows that. My friends know that. I’ve been in a few relationships where I honestly felt like I had to alter my personality and interests for a guy. I felt nervous about the relationship in the first place and so I tried to over-compensate by picking up new hobbies and even changed the way I dressed. It wasn’t fun. I was terrified that I was going to do something wrong to end our relationship. It was so much pressure.

But now I can honestly say that I am in a relationship where I can be the quirky, ridiculous dreamer that I was created to be. My husband not only accepts my goofiness, he loves it. (He tells me this frequently.) Can I tell you how freeing it is to be loved for just being me?

Question for you: If you had to do something to get a guy to notice you or accept you in the first place, what are you going to have to do to keep the guy?

My friend, please don’t be in a relationship where you have to constantly second-guess yourself. Be confident in who you are. If you constantly worry that you aren’t smart enough, funny enough, cute enough, athletic enough… whatever – it’s not the relationship for you. You deserve to be cherished for who you are, not who you are pretending to be.

“I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way.
What you have done is wonderful.
I know this very well.”
Psalm 139:14, NCV

Be YOU. Embrace the you He created.

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Have you ever tried to be someone you’re not in order to get someone to like you? How did that turn out?

Following,
Ginger

p.s. A version of this post appeared in April of 2007.