God waits for us to let go, to accept what’s happening, to stop and listen for His direction, and to follow His lead by faith.
Ever wish you could reach out to a friend in crisis, but you’re just not sure what to say? Most of us tend either to avoid the person or situation altogether or to rush in and say too much.
The list below demonstrates some ways you can effectively support people in need.
Notice how these responses acknowledge and reflect the person’s feelings without judging him or her or offering unwelcome advice.
What Effective Caregivers Say
Dating, romance, marriage, sex . . . are you satisfied with your relationships, or do you long for something better? In an “anything-goes” culture that promotes sexual freedom, we are flooded with photoshopped pictures, pornography, sexting, and casual hook-ups.
Addictions are spiraling out of control, the #METOO outcries are louder than ever, and relationships that last are few and far between.
Few couples have examined relational and marital success like Jeff and Alyssa Bethke. In this very candid interview, we talk openly about pornography, body image, and current cultural trends.
Instead of becoming another tragic statistic, the Bethkes believe relationships as God designed are possible.
Based on their newly released book, Love That Lasts: How We Discovered God’s Better Way for Love, Dating, Marriage, and Sex, the Bethkes offer sound truth and practical habits that are life-giving for all relationships.
If you are longing for something better, this interview is a great place to start.
Some people are beautiful . . . even when they cry. I am certainly not one of them . . . especially when I cry. When my heart breaks, tears gush; one little tissue is of no help.
I grab the toilet paper ROLL . . . yep, those double-sized, extra strong rolls . . . hoping it will be enough to absorb all the bodily fluids pouring out of my face. It is not a lovely site.
I grew up hearing my mother say, “I need a good cry,” and I thought, What the heck is a “good cry?” After my son was born with disabilities, I learned a lot about good cries.
A good cry is a flood-like release of emotions, a torrential outpouring of grief, usually precipitated by an unexpected, life-altering experience. It’s the kind of experience that forces one to come to terms with the truth that we live life on God’s terms, not ours.
He allows these irreversible and intensely painful experiences for a purpose we often cannot see at the time. We feel split open and vulnerable; a good cry is part of the letting go.
God has done mighty things throughout history, and He can accomplish great things through you.
The West Coast is no stranger to natural disasters. I was 4 years old when our chandelier began to sway like a playground swing at recess. Time stopped as the earth rocked and rolled beneath our feet.
We had just moved to Southern California; none of us knew what to do except hang on for dear life.
Living through Disaster
Growing up in Orange County, California, I remember seeing the glow of wildfires consuming the surrounding beautifully landscaped hills. It was sometimes weeks before we stopped smelling like smoke and wiping ashes off our cars.
In addition to earthquakes and wildfires, the mudslides were awful. Some of our friends experienced their homes being ripped in half—the front part left perfectly intact, while the backside was torn off and taken away by mud.
Living on the West Coast means one accepts the beauty along with the possibility of total devastation.
I recently watched the Thomas fire devour more acreage than any other fire in California’s recorded history and was reminded how awful natural disasters can be. The worst part of the Thomas fire came after it was contained and almost extinguished.
The burnt, root-bare terrain didn’t stand a chance of staying put for very long in the horrific mudslides.
As we saw, in a matter of seconds, boulders tumbled into living rooms and mud washed a neighborhood off its foundations. The once exclusively quaint, seaside Santa Barbara county was devastated. The wreckage swallowed up lives and land without warning.
It’s not our job to evaluate God’s plan and decide if it’s up to par with what we want. It’s our job to surrender to His plan–which includes every experience we encounter.
We waited more than a year for this day to come. My husband, my son with disabilities, and I arrived early to the courthouse. It was 9:30 in the morning as we walked nervously toward the room that would change my son’s life.
A Whole Person
My son is now a legal adult. But he will never really be an “adult” as you and I may define adult, unless the Lord chooses to change how he currently functions.
At his age, a typical person’s life is full of opportunity to make an impact. The world is his or her oyster. There’s just enough life experience to be dangerous, just enough education to believe one is brilliant, plenty of friends to fall back on for support, and barely enough money to move out and make it.
I know this because I watched two of my three kids progress through the developmental stages who are now young adults. They . . .
- Received an education
- Won awards for gifts and abilities
- Have great friends to call at any time
- Have grown up to be mature
- Have grown up to be resilient
- Have grown up to be full of hope
If time and interest permitted, I would write a book on how proud I am of who they have become, the challenges they have endured, and the joy they have brought to my life (except for a few teenage years they are lucky to have survived).
However, their younger brother Jon lives a life that couldn’t be more different from theirs. He lives looking through different lenses. Unless the Lord plans otherwise, Jon will never . . .
- Graduate from a prestigious school
- Feel the intimacy and delight of being loved by a marriage partner
- Manage a bank account
- Get his driver’s license
- Be independently employed
- He won’t ever read a book and understand it
- Have a conversation and comprehend it
- Have typical friendships and enjoy them
Jon has disabilities which change the way this world treats him. This world isn’t taught to look at the heart first . . . typical or not. Because this world focuses on things like appearances and abilities, he’s not seen as a whole person.
People can’t seem to see past the acne, the earphones he wears, his mismatched clothes, his untied shoes, his ill-fitting sunglasses. This world doesn’t slow down to care for his heart that carries tremendous fear and anxiety, along with unfathomable pain from being bullied and assaulted.
This world misses his blue eyes that cry when he’s rejected repeatedly. This world has no clue of what it’s like for a person who is unable to have a conversation and have people laugh at one’s jokes.
I understand this in my head, but my heart aches for his pain every day.
We were called to the front of the courtroom, Jon, my husband, and me. The judge looked over his glasses at the three of us and asked what brought us here.
My husband began to tell how we met. He shared his love for me and for all three of my kids. As he began to tear up, the judge looked at Jon with all the tenderness of a doting grandfather.
As Toban finished, Jon was asked if he was okay with Toban adopting him as his very own son. Jon stumbled out the words . . . “Um . . . yes, YES, s-s-sir; I would like that very much for my life, sir.
He is my daddy and loves me.” There’s something about a 20-year-old saying “daddy” that strips away all pretense.
What took more than a year to prepare took only moments to complete. My husband adopted my son. A person who this world pushes away was embraced by an unconditionally loving man.
You Are of Immeasurable Value
I don’t know your story, your abilities, your needs, or your longings. I do know you are a person created by God with immeasurable value. God has made no mistake in creating your life. He cares nothing of what you can “do” for Him but about what He has done for you.
See, what God did as our heavenly Father is what my husband did that day in the courtroom. God saw your need, saw your value, and said I want you to be mine.
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5).
All you have to do is say, “Yes, yes, I would very much like God to be my daddy for life.”
God has done all the preparation by sending His Son, and He knows that without Christ you cannot make it through life. You and I have disabled souls.
Try as we might, on this earth we will never be free of this lifelong human condition. But Jesus became one of us, redeemed us, and brought us near our Father who made us His own (Ephesians 2:13; Galatians 4:7).
Romans 11:33–36 says:
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How IMPOSSIBLE it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For EVERYTHING comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for HIS glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. (emphasis added)
Friend, just as my son cannot change his earthly diagnosis, you and I cannot change our spiritual diagnosis. It requires Jesus, who chose to die and who rose again so that you may have eternal life.
His love doesn’t depend on you or your abilities because in His eyes you and I are no different from Jon. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are fully adopted into the family of God.
You are cherished.
Let Me Hear from You
I leave you with one challenge. Next time you see someone with disabilities, will you look into his or her eyes? Will you take time to look beyond the earthly differences and see eternity in him or her?
By knowing Jesus, Christians are in God’s family for all eternity. Welcome home!
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Fear causes us to believe we can rescue ourselves through our own control, power, skill, knowledge, ability, or strength.
It was colder than the arctic when I stepped out for an evening walk. I needed space to breathe. Life was anything but balanced; I felt disrupted and tired. Layered in clothes, I resembled an irritated woolly mammoth roaming the frozen tundra trying to figure out which way is north.
I don’t do well with ambiguity and was hoping a walk would provide clarity.
Order and Clarity? . . . Ha!
Just to be clear, balance has never been simple for me. I’m captivated by those who . . .