What is the Question?

What is the Question?

Children From the Authors

img_20160918_154053For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ~Matthew 7:2

A trap that I find all too easy to fall into is judgement. I’m not sure why we are so quick to give opinions and to even criticize others, but I see it happening all the time. It’s even worse on the internet, because there is an anonymity that might makes us feel safe and secure in quickly spouting off our opinions. Those kinds of statements- that are quickly and perhaps thoughtlessly given- are usually not our best statements. Especially if they are judgmental statements.*

So my eldest was playing with friends. And one friend wanted to play a certain way, and no one else did. So Friend huffed off to the side, and crossing his arms over his chest loudly and peevishly proclaimed, “You aren’t being any fun! I’m not playing anymore!” Mothers were there, and the situation was dealt with promptly and Friend is not the focus of this story- my eldest is. He, having very clear ideas of right and wrong, had some comments about Friend when we were on our own. Something along the lines of, “He’s not very fun, is he?” Part of me wanted to agree and leave it alone, but that is lazy mothering- so I dove right into the deep end and began another parenting marathon. I reminded my child that he’d said those exact same words not so long ago. He tried to argue that his case was different, and on and on we went…

until I finally asked him, “What can you learn from this?”

Because when we refuse to sit in a seat of judgement over others, and instead choose to look at ourselves and where we have been and what we can do- well it seems a lot more productive to me than stating our opinions. We ended up talking about how he could have helped Friend, and apply that knowledge to how my son plays with his friends in the future.

I’ve been applying this question almost daily in my own life.

“What can I learn from this?” has led to other questions like: What could I have done differently? How can I help? Was I kind and considerate? Is the other person hurting?**

Most of us don’t walk around openly advertising the struggles we are facing every day, so it makes it easy for others to make judgmental statements. For example, you might have recently met a woman at the grocery store whose children were apparently doing their best to reenact Tarzan (the woman may or may not have looked like me, but I will plead the 5th). It would be easy to make a few judgmental statements about that mother. However, if you knew she’d only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before, and had just come from a funeral, and that the kids (being kids) were simply acting out the emotions they couldn’t understand that were surrounding them and their family… Well, if you looked at that woman through those lenses, what would you do then?

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. ~James 4:12

We have only one Judge. And He sees all those things that we, as people, cannot see. He sees our hearts, and knows what we are walking through. He is a good and capable judge. I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say, “Let’s stop judging each other.” But I did like the idea of having a way to stop those thoughts from fully forming- to instead ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”

Lord God, you alone see the hearts of men. You know our inner struggles, and hurts, and you also know our strengths and gifts. Help us to call out the best in others. Help us to work through our shortcomings first, and to commit to becoming better disciples of Jesus. Help us to react in love and kindness. Thank you for being a good and just judge, and for your many, many mercies to us. Bless us to extend those mercies to others. In Jesus’ Name, amen!


*This is not meant to be a condemning post, and I am so very sorry if it came across that way! It is more that I wanted to share the idea of how to talk with our kids about processing situations where making a judgement about someone might be the easy thing to do.

**Really these questions work in many situations- not just when you’re tempted to judge others. They work for when we are nervous, scared, when we feel like something didn’t go quite right, or if we are sad, lonely… anything really. You could even ask them if things are going well. I think it’s called being self-reflective. Which is apparently a new idea for me… [insert sheepish looking emoji here]

When adults try to playground...
When adults try to playground…
What Is Prayer For?

What Is Prayer For?

From the Authors

I was reminded today of something I had forgotten: what prayer is for.

I think we get so caught up in what we think we need, and what we think would be best, that we easily forget what prayer is really for. Or, possibly, I could say who prayer is really for.

Now there is not one answer to the question ‘What is prayer for?’. There are probably a million answers. But I’m talking about those moments where you are almost groaning out loud in frustration. When you are wondering, is it something lacking in me? Is there something more I should be doing? When you are searching for just the right words to move God’s heart.

Recently I have been groaning in prayer, racking my brain and trying to figure out how to move God’s heart.
Silly, silly me. I had forgotten:

My soul glorifies the Lord
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
    for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
~Luke 1:46-50

I move God’s heart. Not because of big fancy words, not because I have been good (or bad). I move His heart, because God loves me. Just like my children can move my heart when they come to me, I am God’s child, and I move his heart.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! ~1 John 3:1

And while prayer is for praising God, for presenting our petitions to the Lord, for others, for ourselves- the one thing I forgot was that when I pray, something in my heart changes. I was so focused on trying to move God’s heart, I forgot that my heart is healed when I am connected to God. It’s as if the simple act of choosing to pray, turns my gaze- or even my entire being- towards God. And if I am looking at God, I am not focused on me. I am not distracted by the bad around me- instead my attention is being consumed by Him.

I’ve done it a hundred times. Ever have a situation that is so upsetting or frustrating, and then start to pray about it… and even before the situation is resolved, something in your heart begins to change? Suddenly you have more grace for those involved, suddenly you have compassion and can start to understand where the other person is coming from. When I pray, more often than not, the first thing to change is me.

Prayer is for me.

Prayer is for a million things, but first and foremost prayer is for me.

And it’s for you.

Even when walking through some of the most difficult and heart breaking situations in life- prayer is for you. When things are going well- prayer is for you. When you are heartbroken and alone- prayer is for you. When all is well- prayer is for you. When you aren’t sure you can even face the next day- prayer is for you.

If it’s a day that ends with the letter y, then prayer is for you.

I have a saying. Well, I have a few. But I have one that I say so often, my daughter picked this Coke out for me:img_20160827_115802387_hdr

And when I’ve walked through some of the harder times in life, I feel like this could be my motto for prayer. Because at some point I’ve used up all my resources, worked at the problem from every angle, reached the end of my rope and come up empty handed. I’ve felt defeated, and I’ve admitted that I was facing the impossible. In those moments, what should I pray for? It might be a little late by then, but it’s as good a time as any to pray for the impossible. Because when He comes through for you, then you’ll know that He is mindful of you. And if things don’t turn out how you imagined, your eyes might be opened to what He has been doing through it all. And there is something about praying those big impossible prayers, about casting all your hopes and fears on Him who set the world spinning around the sun, about knowing that you cannot do a thing, so you are going to have to rely on Him. As soon as I turn my gaze towards Him, already my heart is changing, already He is answering my cry.

God is faithful in prayer. He is faithful to you.

And prayer is for you.

Lord, thank you that you are faithful to us. That you are mindful to us. I ask for boldness in prayer, and discernment to see what you are doing around us and in us. Help us not to give up on prayer, help us to tune out the voices that bring fear, anxiety, and anger. Instead fill our hearts with your peace, love, and understanding. And thank you for creating prayer, for making prayer multifaceted and multipurposed. You are good, amazing, and so very brilliant. Thank you, Lord! Amen