When my husband speaks to me, the sweetest of words aren't "I love you" or even "you were right," though both are favorite phrases that definitely make the top 5. But sincerely the words that always touch my heart from my husband are "they just don't know you."
I know that sounds really odd, but I cannot begin to express the depth of those words, how far in they reach and minister to an old and wounded soul. Which truthfully, if we are honest, I suspect that every soul is wounded deep down, to some degree or another. I by no means make myself out to be any sort of victim and I think as dysfunction goes, well, aren't we all? But the dysfunction is at a livable level, and although by no means a place to settle, I know God uses broken people to accomplish His purpose, and I have full confidence that He can use me (and mine) and in the process of doing so is ever working towards decreasing the level of dysfunction and adversely, increasing the level of abundant life he has for us in the same process.
I am a strong personality, often sarcastic, occasionally irreverent, playful and a huge tease. I am passionate... let me say PASSIONATE about my convictions and very "black and white" in the way I see things. I LOVE God, and although often questioned, I am equally passionate about people. I care deeply about the lost, but truly my even greater passion is for those who are following Christ, and my desire that they would know the fullness of His love, but also desire to "lay aside every weight" in their own lives so that nothing would hinder them.
I love teenagers, I have a passion for them because as a person who accepted Christ at ten years old but was never discipled, I know the dangers and the damage that can be done by not living life according to the plan God has laid out for us. I sincerely almost find myself falling into "bad cop" mode on a regular basis because I am so hyper-aware of all the slippery slopes I see at every turn... and between every turn for that matter.
I am also passionate about women. I love to see women grow in their faith and in their understanding of Who God is and how much He loves them. I want them to know who they are, I want them to know all God has for them, I want them to be passionate in their walk, and I want God to consume their thoughts the way He does mine. Can you hear that passion riding up?
That passion gets me in trouble a lot, and puts people off too. The only thing that I think challenges people more is my directness. Having grown up with a lot of doublespeak and manipulation (call it finessing or coaxing or bribery, I can't stand it.) So perhaps in my passion not to be one way, I am extreme in the other, but it's not something I make an apology for. I do my best to never be hurtful when I speak the truth, but I will also be the first to admit that I care more about my friends than I care about our friendships. I care more about you than what you think about me. It has cost me friendships, but I have always been able to stand in peace when I knew that what I said, I said out of love and concern.
Having said that, I would never hold an unbeliever to the same standard I would hold for someone who proclaims the name of Christ, and the louder someone proclaims it, by leading or teaching, even telling people they are Christians, the higher the standard I hold seems to rise. It's one of those convictions I hold so tightly to. And that's not to say there's no room for mistakes and failures, Lord knows I have a LONG list of my own, but I also feel passionately that grace should never be mistaken for license to sin. I think the line between the two can be very easily blurred, and when someone says to me "don't judge," it hurts my heart, because I would never judge a person (or condemn them as the literal translation states) especially someone who does not know the Lord. But I do think as believers we are to see sin for what it is, and love the sinner but hate the sin. And by no means should you draw any kind of cookie cutter stand on this matter from what I am saying, because I believe every situation varies relationally. Where I might call out one person on a sin because we are friends and because I care, and to someone who I don't know, or who I know don't trust me, I will not turn a blind eye, but will swallow my desire and say a prayer without ever uttering a word.
On the other hand, sometimes I am known to make sweeping observations (Facebook statuses wou;d be an excellent example). I look around me and see things that cause me concern and I say them out loud (or write them for all to see, on Facebook or here). Having already confessed my propensity for directness, let's just clarify that it's not some passive aggressive attempt to call a single person out. That would qualify as that manipulative style I have sworn to avoid. On the other hand, if what I have said causes you to feel guilty in some way, perhaps you ought to take stock of that guilt and dig a little deeper rather than automatically throw it back at me as being judgmental. Now, it's important to state at this point, that what I am writing here is sincerely an outpouring of my heart, and is NOT based on any single conversation, but is a long historical list of conversations. I am not calling anyone out here, I am just relaying my own experience.
"Judgmental." Ugh. It's a label often plastered upon me. Talk about pushing one of those buttons that connects directly to the wounded dysfunctional soul! I hear it a lot. I hear it a lot and it breaks my heart. It comes in a few different styles, there is the direct "Judgmenta." There is the personal attack, "You're so self-righteous." There is the cruel, "You are unloving." And there is even the down right nasty, which I will choose wisely not to repeat here. Whatever form it takes, it hurts my heart.
That's when I turn to my husband, and he looks at me and says, "They just don't know you." They don't know that I love them, and I care about them, and that I worry for them and pray for them. They don't know how I would sacrifice our friendship in order to spare them the pain of falling away or stumbling so badly in their walk that their bruises keep them down a good long time, and the enemy finds an open door to render them ineffectual in their faith. They don't know how badly I want to warn them, and keep them safe.
The running joke is I am like caviar. People either love me or hate me, there is very little neutral response in between. Of course to everything there is an exception, but the fact is, most people either get me, and get where my heart is coming from, or they don't. People may acquire a taste for me, but it's always slightly unsettled, there is a tiny bit of refrain. Most of the time, I can feel it. They come, want to be around, but it's as though they always have one eye averted keeping lock on the exit. It can be unsettling, but I love them anyway.
I am thankful this past year or so, the Lord has added some exceptional relationships to my life of people that "get" me, that can not only take the strong taste, but enjoy it. They are in every sense of the word, the truest of gifts from God. Thes people who can tease me as hard as I tease them. People who love me even when my foot is securely lodged in my mouth and who love me enough to call me out without judging me, and only judging my actions. Something I know a lot about.
God created us to "know and be known." First and foremost, in our relationship with Him. But because of the obvious challenges in that relationship on our end, He also places people in our lives that are an extension of Him. I thank God every day that for me, one of those people is my husband. I see so many, many marriages around me where that just isn't the case, and it breaks my heart. I love that my husband knows and understands my heart to the very best of his abilities. And I thank God for the small group of godly women God has surrounded me with who also understand. (I also thank Him for still expanding that group.) You know who you are. There are days when I feel so misunderstood, that I don't think I could get through it if I didn't know you were never more than a phone call or text message away.
I know I am by no means a finished product. If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, "She's so full of herself," ;et me assure you, I am being misunderstood again. I KNOW I have a LOT of room for improvement. My mouth and my words are both my greatest tool and my biggest challenge. I have to remind myself daily that the Bible says "speak grace, seasoned with salt." I have to accept that speaking truth, even in love, will often come at a great price, but in the end I have to be able to stand up and face myself in the mirror knowing I loved the person more than I loved the relationship.
Someday, when my life comes to an end, I hope people will say of me, I loved God, and I loved people, that I spoke truth without compromise and did my best to walk out what I said I believed. I know I will stumble along the way, and I know I will hurt people (I even worry people will read into this and be offended), but I pray when it's no longer my own refection that I stand face to face with but rather my Father in heaven, I pray He will look back at me, and He having truly known me, and truly known my heart will say, "Well done, good and faithful," and I will enter into my reward. Because in the end, that's truly what matters most.