Relationships

When Women Encourage Rather Than Criticize or Compete

quote on loving others well

Blessing and Bonding

By Victoria Mejias

Ever feel like you don’t belong? I have. I still do.

I have one older brother. I never had a sister. And for a long time, I was the only girl on my mom’s side of the family. So growing up, I tended to be closer to my aunts. I longed for that camaraderie among women. I wasn’t getting it at school.

In fact just about every girl I thought was my friend growing up, turned out to be catty and gossiped about me. I couldn’t understand it. Most of the gossip and rumors they spread weren’t true.

It didn’t take long for me to keep to myself. I focused on my studies–hard. I graduated high school as fast as I could, at the age of 16, just to get out of that place. My mom and I had recently moved here from the east coast and boy was it a culture shock!

Back east, it’s such a melting pot that no one notices race or ethnicity. That wasn’t the case when I moved to Nebraska. Right away I learned I didn’t belong. Our family is from Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory in the Caribbean. I was born in New York, NY. But that didn’t seem to matter.

I’d immediately get asked if I was in the country legally; if I was Mexican or Guatemalan; if I had a visa; if I had any good enchilada recipes…Till then, I had never even tasted an enchilada.

I stuck out – and not in a good way.

I enrolled in college at the age of 16 and persevered there, too. But I didn’t want to. I wanted to belong to something so badly. I’ve always had this nagging feeling that I was made for more. It’s what led me to Christ. But prior to that I searched for places of acceptance and none of them worked out well for me. I explored joining a sorority to have that sisterhood I longed for.

Long story short – that didn’t end well either.

After college, I married and had children. Boy did I want female bonds then. Pregnancy scared me! It didn’t help that both of my pregnancies were back to back, at risk, and I ended up on bedrest for one.

I called my mother, grandmother, aunts and any woman I could think of who had had children to hear about their experiences. I had questions, lots of them! I’m a planner at heart and needed to know what to expect.

I’m so grateful for the handful of women in my life I could trust and lean on during those times.

This reminds me of a story from Luke Chapter 1 where a newly pregnant Mary, Jesus’ mother, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. I cannot imagine what Mary was thinking.

Nevertheless, she visits her cousin who is also expecting. I love Elizabeth’s reaction. Though also pregnant, she wasn’t jealous because Mary carried God’s Son. She didn’t drill her with questions or pry into how Mary conceived and second-guess who the father was. No. She blessed her.

Scripture says,“ In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women,and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’” (Luke 1:42-43, NIV).

And Elizabeth was blessed by Mary’s visit.

“‘As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!’” (Luke 1:44-45, NIV).

What would the world look like if women banded together, leaned on one another, and blessed each quote pulled from post on gray backgroundother no matter the circumstance? What if we rid the world, or at least our circle of gossip? What if during life’s trials, we reminded each other that we are blessed and loved by the Lord Most High?

The Bible addresses how poisonous gossip can be. And I firmly believe that women are created with a divine and irreplaceable purpose. I have never understood the need-to-know curiosity and temptation to gossip. But I have seen the damage that it causes.

I’m certain that’s why I’ve gained the confidence of some pretty amazing women locally, nationally, and around the world. Eventually I did find a bond with women, one I wouldn’t trade anything for. And I’m raising a daughter that is approaching teenage years. My prayer is that she’d focus on uplifting others, rather than tear anyone down. I pray that for all women. I pray that for me and you.

What are ways you stay in community with women who keep you rooted and growing in Scripture? How can you invest in women seeking to deepen their relationship with Christ?

My hope is that women everywhere would join forces, encourage and remind one another that we are each wholly loved by God.

Let’s talk about this! How easy is it for you to celebrate someone else’s wins? If it’s hard, why do you think that is? How might remembering we serve a sovereign God of abundance help? Share your thoughts, stories, and examples with us in the comments below or on our Facebook Page, because we can all learn from and encourage one another. You can also connect with us on Instagram.

If today’s post encouraged you, make sure to check out our latest Bible reading plan, 20 Days of Relational Health. You can find it HERE.

Get to Know Victoria:

Victoria Mejias is a graduate of the University of Nebraska – Omaha and attended the University of Nebraska College of Law prior to making a leap into public service. She has nearly 20 years of experience in the private, public, legal and non-profit sectors. She has previously served as the Missions and Small Groups Pastor at StoneBridge Christian Church and the Development Director for Open Door Mission / Lydia House. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Heartland United for Puerto Rico and her past service includes a variety of other boards.

Victoria Mejias is a graduate of the University of Nebraska – Omaha and attended the University of Nebraska College of Law prior to making a leap into public service. She has nearly 20 years of experience in the private, public, legal and non-profit sectors. She has previously served as the Missions and Small Groups Pastor at StoneBridge Christian Church and the Development Director for Open Door Mission / Lydia House. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Heartland United for Puerto Rico and her past service includes a variety of other boards.

Victoria received her Certification in Urban Ministries from the Dallas Theological Seminary’s Urban Ministry Institute in 2012. She has spoken at a variety of venues on matters of leadership, diversity, spirituality and faith– locally, nationally and internationally as far out as Damoh, India at the World Leaders Evangelical Conference. Recently Victoria was the recipient of two Congressional awards for her service by Puerto Rican Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón and Nebraska’s Congressman Don Bacon during a floor speech at the US House of Representatives. She has two children, loves the Lord, reaching the lost and enjoys travel, arts and culture. Visit Victoria online at www.victoriaelizabeth.com.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Relationships

How to Handle Disagreements in a Godly Manner — Guest Post, Kimi Miller

Picture of two women laughing and quote on conflict.Though most of us would likely wish to avoid this, we all experience conflict. When handled in a Christ-like manner, with equal parts love, truth, and grace, however, what initially feels like a fail can actually become a win. Our most difficult interactions and conversations can lead to growth, healing, and life-change. Click To Tweet

When It Doesn’t Feel Like Winning
By Kimi Miller

My anger was blazing, and I didn’t care who saw or heard. What mattered most was making sure the other person knew they were wrong and I was right. I’d rehearsed my response more than a dozen times–a few times in my head, and then alone out loud in my car just to be safe. No room for emotions; I intended to spew forth my words in a predetermined manuscript without a second thought. If I wanted to “win” the argument, I needed to be prepared.

That’s when I saw someone in the car next to me looking at me like I was crazy.

In that moment, I felt I might be.

As I sat there, trying to regain control, I felt more out of control than ever.

The move I was contemplating was straight out of Satan’s playbook:

Focus on self-defense.  Pick up the offense and tuck it under my arm and run straight at the other person–full force, and let them have it. All my anger, all my frustration, all my disappointment–don’t hold back! I was right, they were wrong, and all that matters is that they know it–that they feel it. Who cares how my words were communicated–in fact, the more I talked and the less I listened all the better. Winning was what matters.

But somehow, as I sat there in the intersection practicing yelling at the invisible offender in my car–with the guy next to me likely contemplating calling the cops-it didn’t feel like winning.

As much as I wanted the other person to experience every hurt they’d caused me, that choice no longer felt right. Each time I ran through my premeditated narrative, a warm, sick feeling arose in my gut. A physical reaction I’ve come to recognize as the Holy Spirit prompting me to stop and seek His wise counsel before I sin.

When I want to win by proving I’m right, I know something is out of alignment. Click To Tweet Because the truth is, I’m not right, and neither are you. When we seek our vengeance over God’s peace, no matter how convincing our argument might appear, if Christ isn’t in it, we lose.

This is why we must learn to retrain our thoughts. The world urges us to look out for self first. Contrarily,women holding hands and walking with paraphrased text of 1 Cor. 16:13-14 God’s Word challenges us to, “Do everything in love,” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14, NIV).

But how do you do that in the heat of an argument? How is it possible, as James writes, “to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry?” (James 1:5, NIV).

To invite love into our ugliest moments, we must make space for God. Click To Tweet

Step away from the conflict. Sometimes putting physical space between you and the offender is necessary to finding clarity and direction. Remember, it’s okay to be angry, but in our anger we must not sin. Sometimes distance prevents us from saying or doing things we cannot take back. Choose to step away from the argument by stepping into communion with God.

Once alone with Him, share your hurts and offenses with God. Express your thoughts to Him through prayer and/or journaling. Get it all out with God, putting everything on the table – casting your anxiety on Him because He cares for you, (1 Peter 5:7).

Next, trust God’s way over yours.

Set aside what you think is best and ask God for His best. What is He revealing to you about the condition of the hearts involved? Is there something the other person might be wrestling with that is influencing their behavior? What is it He wants to teach you through this struggle? Is there something missing in your own self-value or worth that’s driving a need to be right? To be heard? Why is “winning” so important?  And why does this hurt so much?

When you’ve surrendered your hardest hurts to God and experience His peace–when you no longer feel that warm sick feeling in your gut–ask the Lord to show you what to do next. Click To Tweet Do you need to forgive? Do you need to apologize? Are there still words to be spoken, or points to be understood? Take as much time as you need to work through these matters of the heart but resolve to move forward. Take your queue from His playbook: Respond in love.

I’m relieved to say I never had the opportunity to voice all the ugly things I’d wanted to throw at my offender. It wasn’t because I didn’t see them again, but because I’d talked it over with God and I no longer felt the need to say anything. I forgave them and release everything else to Jesus. God helped me choose peace over tension, joy over grief, and love over validation.

Following God felt like winning.

Let’s talk about this! What steps can you take today to seek God’s perspective and wisdom for a conflict you’ve experienced or are experiencing?

Inviting God into our arguments takes practice. What are some things you can do to help develop this discipline?

If today’s post encouraged you, make sure to grab a copy of Drawing Near: 90-Day Devotional:

Cover image for Bible study devotionalEach day, God beckons us to Himself, calling us to rest in His love and grace. As we do, He heals our hurts, overpowers our fears with love, and restores us to the women He created us to be. This 90-day devotional, written by women who are learning themselves to live anchored in God’s grace, will help you deepen your faith and grow your relationship with Christ.

Buy it HERE.

We also encourage you to grab a free copy of our Bible study, based on the life of Sara. You can find it HERE. You can watch the first week’s video HERE.

Get to know Kimi!

Kimi Miller lives in Papillion, Nebraska, with her husband and two teenage sons. She stays busy taking care of their home, their two high-strung cattle dogs, and working part-time as a secretary at the local police department. She is a United States Air Force veteran and former pastor of women’s ministry. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication and a Master’s degree in Christian Ministry with a concentration in theology. One of her many God-sized dreams is to organize a free city-wide women’s ministry event that spreads the love and hope only found in Jesus. Her laughter is contagious, as is her passion for the Word of God. You can read more about Kimi at her blog www.kimimiller.com.

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Relationships

The Ultimate Key to Conflict Resolution

quote image from post

The Ultimate Conflict Resolution

Guest post by Amanda Temoshek

I’m not an expert at resolving conflict, but I often find myself in the middle of it. One night, I couldn’t sleep. My daughter was struggling with a friend, and I found my sweet girl sitting on the stairs, crying before bed. It wasn’t my fight, but I was still angry and hurt. After tucking her in, I stayed up, ruminating on what she’d told me. Should I talk to the other girl’s mom? Had I told my daughter to handle the situation correctly? I wanted to fix everything, but I couldn’t. Hours later, I finally prayed. Peace filled the space once occupied by worry, and I fell asleep. 

So what’s the key to handling bad situations well?

Seven years ago, my marriage was on the brink of failure. And this wouldn’t be my first failed marriage. My relationships – marital and otherwise – seemed so often to hit a wall of strife that I had a tough time getting through. I’ve walked away from good relationships because I didn’t know how to deal with small disputes and I’ve stayed in unhealthy situations because I was scared to confront the problem. 

The problems in my marriage were more than I could handle, but I didn’t know where to turn. I grew up in a Christian home, went to church, and participated in Bible studies. I believed in God and Jesus. I prayed before meals and when times were tough. I sporadically read the Bible. But still, I struggled. The fruit of the Spirit seemed out of reach. It was impossible to have joy when my second marriage was on the rocks. How could I have peace when I had two young children, an extremely high-pressure job, and a marriage that seemed beyond repair?

It wasn’t until I attended an Al-Anon meeting and heard “The Twelve Steps” that I finally got it. Following God was the only way to restore my sanity and relationships. I needed to turn my will and life over to him. I didn’t just need Jesus for Heaven. I needed Him every single day. If I was going to deal with my husband in a way that was loving, patient, and respectful, I needed Jesus. There was no way I could do it on my own, and no amount of self-help books would help me in the middle of a heated discussion. Only Jesus could preserve our marriage.

I didn’t just need Jesus for Heaven. I needed Him every single day.

The Bible became my best resource.

I committed to reading the Bible each day for a year. That daily time with Jesus was changing me. Even though I was walking through the most challenging experience I’d ever faced, I was growing. God was slowly transforming me. In a disagreement with my husband, I stayed calm. I had more patience when my kids were driving me crazy. I felt peace. Jesus was my source of conflict-resolution as He renewed my heart. 

I learned that the opposite of conflict is peace. And Jesus is the Prince of Peace. I can and should turn to Jesus in the middle of battles, but real maturity comes as I invest daily in a relationship with Him. He’s transforming my heart as I read truth and reflect on His love and wisdom. 

Christians 2,000 years ago faced the same choice we do of whether to lead our own lives or submit to the will of God.

The apostle Paul, an early church leader, advised believers to surrender every aspect of our lives to God saying, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Galatians 5:16 ESV)

As I studied, I learned about how people in the Bible dealt with conflict. Paul, who had poured himself into ministering to the early church, was often rejected and mistreated, but still, he taught the church with compassion, truth, and grace. I learned about Abigail in the book of 1 Samuel, whose husband was mean and selfish, but she chose her words wisely and stayed calm under pressure. In the Gospels, I read about how Jesus submitted to His Father, was honest and bold when confronted, and forgave and loved those who persecuted Him. Conflict is inevitable, but with God’s wisdom we can endure well.

This situation my daughter is facing is out of my control, just like many of the issues I faced in early marriage, but I know God is in control. I’ve seen Him heal damaged relationships, change hearts from angry to compassionate, and work hard situations for His glory and our good. If we ask, He will give us wisdom on how to communicate with someone who has hurt us. As we spend time with Him, we’ll become more like the Prince of Peace during the battles of life.

How’s God asking you to trust Him with your relationships? Pray this week and rest knowing He’s fighting your hardest battles. Join the conversation on Facebook or find more encouragement through our 30 day Emotional Health FREE devotional on YouVersion Bible App. And make sure to grab our FREE Bible study as well. You can find it HERE.

Get to Know Amanda

Amanda's headshotAmanda Temoshek is a mom, wife, and consultant. She grew up in a Christian home, but it wasn’t until 2012 during a crisis in her personal life, that she discovered the life-transforming power of committing to daily time with Jesus. She encourages others to never settle for anything less than investing every day in their walk with Jesus and growing in their relationship with Him. She blogs about what God is teaching her at BecomingMary.com as she learns to sit at the feet of Jesus.

Relationships

When No One Else Can Help — Guest Post

By Meredith Kendall

Rejection stings in every form. Friendships that crumble. Parents who disapprove. Children who leave and don’t return. And loves that betray. Labeled “unwanted” is never our plan.

One evening, I arrived home from putting on a successful Fall Festival, filled with laughter and hot dogs and sugared up kids, to hear my husband say, “I just don’t love you anymore. I’m going to be with her.”

He was having an affair.

I was devastated. I was married at 18, moved over six hundred miles away from family and friends and now at 31 years old, a stay at home mom was going to be divorced. Have you ever had your dreams shattered? Hope seemed lost.

Every day I woke up, turned on the local Christian radio station to sing at the top of my lungs and weep. My life was turned upside down. All alone, I had no clue how I would make it.

I received all kinds of advice from well-meaning friends and family, but none of it comforted me. How could they understand what I was going through? Truth was, no one’s words could ease my pain.

Walking in faith was new to me, so I wasn’t sure where Jesus was in this mess. I wish I could say I ran to the Bible to read passages that would give me comfort. Unfortunately, I felt I lacked the confidence and skills to navigate Scripture. The one thing that did bring me comfort was a song on the radio that seemed to be played over and over again. The artist talked about how to survive whether we are on the mountaintop or in the valley. The song went on to say that when we are on our knees we are before the Love that can change everything and that on our knees is where we need to find our power.

God used a song of truth to bring peace in a horrible situation. I literally got on my knees for the duration of this song, arms stretched high, tears streaming, making this my prayer. God, who I’d given my life to just a year earlier, met me there. I was a new Christian and had no clue how to navigate this pain, this new normal. But Jesus gave me His comfort through the lyrics of this song.

Now twenty-two years later, I share my story in hopes that you will experience peace knowing that God doesn’t abandon us during our time of Woman's profile against an inky sky with text pulled from the post.affliction, but is waiting for us to cry out to Him. I’m grateful that I allowed Him to be my Comforter during my hardest time because His wisdom helped me find my way.

Worldly wisdom would’ve let me down. It said, “Walk away. Forget your marriage. Just start over.” Some even said, “Let’s go out and get a drink. Let’s go out and party.” But I stayed on my knees for my marriage, and today, by God’s grace, we share our story.

Truth in Scripture says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

What’s your story? Have you fallen on your knees in need before your loving Father? If so, show others the way according to God’s words, it’s not for us to hide our affliction as if it has never happened, but to comfort others in their time of need and to be a light of God’s goodness. What story of comfort are you hiding that God wants to use?

Let’s talk about this! Rejection hurts and, if not dealt with correctly, in light of God’s love and grace, can leave lasting wounds that negatively impact our future relationships. How does knowing God loves us and will never leave us help you move forward? Has He helped you through a deep hurt and perhaps given you insight that could help others? Share your thoughts, stories, questions, and insights here in the comments below, because we can all learn from one another! And make sure to join our social media group–a safe place for women to share their struggles, celebrations, prayer requests, and questions. Join by clicking the “Join Group” button below.

And if you haven’t done so, make sure to snag our free Bible study (in ebook form) on growing in grace and a Christ-centered identity. You can do so HERE. (Print copies are available for $5 plus shipping and handling.)

Get to know Meredith!

Meredith Kendall is a change agent, driven by her God-given passion to equip struggling families to achieve their unique God-given potential.

As a nationally recognized sales leader, Meredith Kendall learned how to build bridges and make connections with the heart of what people need. God called her to co-found Advancing the Gospel which serves those who are often forgotten. Today she uses her gifting’s to help people understand the root causes of their struggles and find freedom through Christ.

Her upcoming book My GiGi’s House: Finding Hope will be released October 2019. Pre-release copies are available now.

www.the180program.org

www.meredithsagekendall.com

Check out her upcoming release!

Ralynn promised God that if He allowed her to see the light of day she would seek help. Pregnant and afraid for her life, Ralynn’s chance encounter with Ms. Shelly started her on a path of healing and finding a relationship with Jesus and her purpose in life.

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Living loved, Relationships, surrender

The Forgiven Forgive

There was no peace. What started as friendship ended in full out anger. We seemed to disagree about everything. There were dirty looks and silence. Those were far from our finest moments. We couldn’t let go of the small things, so they became big problems. Weary from conflict, I read a Scripture passage that pierced my soul and helped me forgive.  

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)Operating as if I hadn't needed God's forgiveness kept me from pardoning my friend. Have you been there? Click To Tweet

I realized I was withholding mercy because I forgot the full weight of grace God has afforded me every time I’ve messed up. Operating as if I hadn’t needed God’s forgiveness kept me from pardoning her. Have you been there?andreaquote1-apr29-fb

It’s much easier for me to offend with a quick retort when someone hurts me. Or self-protect when I don’t feel appreciated or others are unkind. But it’s not what God calls us to do. We are to respond like Jesus, and He doesn’t shun them with the silent treatment or cut with snide remarks. Instead, He sees their behavior as an outpouring of hurt and sin and offers love and grace to soothe their souls.

This doesn’t mean we let others abuse us. Sometimes setting healthy boundaries is the best way to love someone. But we do allow God to reign over our relationships so that we can see the way to peace.

andreaquote2-apr29-fbTo follow His lead, we must first take inventory of all the ways God has shown us mercy. What harsh words have we spoken that He’s forgiven? What poor choices has He redeemed once we confessed? Who would we be without God’s favor? As I answer those questions honestly, I realize I have no business withholding forgiveness of others because my God has taken away my sin, free of charge.

Here’s what I’ve learned, the offended offend, and the forgiven forgive. Which we choose is important because one has power to crush, and the other to redeem. Here’s what I’ve learned, the offended offend, and the forgiven forgive. Which we choose is important because one has power to crush, and the other to redeem. Click To Tweet

Paul, and early evangelist who wrote much of the New Testament, encourages us to pick wisely, saying, “so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him” (2 Corinthians 2:7-8, ESV).

You hold the power to soothe your soul and others every time you choose love over hate and forgiveness over bitterness. Take a moment to thank God for the grace He’s shown you today and extend that line of mercy to those in your path.

 

I want to hear your thoughts about forgiveness and conflict on our FACEBOOK page. What has helped you resolve problems peacefully? What Scripture do your rely on when faced with relational conflict?

AndreaWeb47

Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him.Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers. Read more from Andrea online!