My6inchchallenge's Blog

Tackling difficulties and overcoming the challenges life serves up – by Dona Halliday

Archive for Men

What will it take to convince you that you are loved?

Dona_2-10-13I’ve always been convinced that you can tell people who know that they are loved – they seem to live differently, with a certain kind of confidence, an assurance of place and belonging. They are not easily perturbed by things or people. Their knowledge of being loved comes from some internal conviction that has been affirmed and settled.

On the other hand, questions and doubt seem to plague those who feel insecure in their relationships. They seem to need constant reassurance. They can be certain of love one moment then throw out accusations the next. They are unsettled by many things – challenged by always comparing and feeling the need to measure up to someone, some ideal, some image.

I found myself laughing uncontrollably one day as I listened to NPR as they played a scene from a TV show. What an imagery! As the girl broke off her relationship with the guy she told him, “Being in relationship with you is like being in relationship with a tread master – you are exhausting!” She was tired of his constant need to try to change her so HE would feel accepted and fit in.

How exhausting it must be to act the chameleon, changing to suit every person, trying much too hard to fit in. Convinced that if you do this or the other they might finally love you the way you want to be love. Being exhausted by your efforts, yet never seeming to measure up.

What will it take to convince you that you are loved? What has to happen? What must a person do? Would you cease from your exhausting efforts if you knew you were loved and accepted just the way you are?

I have no valentine’s romance to offer you but I can offer you a love that has been tested through the ages. Yes, you may have heard it many times before, but what will it take to convince you? That God love YOU so much that He did everything in his power to forge a lasting relationship with you – and now offers it to you freely this valentine’s day and every single day. You don’t have to work to be acceptable or change to fit in and be loved – just receive the big, abundant, unrestrained love that He offers you.

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Seize the little fox that threatens the vineyard – the bad is good for you

“…give into the temptation …..sometimes the bad is good for you, lol.” We had been messaging back and forth on Facebook and when this reply came through I felt an obligation to correct such faulty reasoning. However, somewhere between finding the right response and typing it I was distracted by a thought, “…hmm, he might be right, it will only take me about two minutes to drive there.

I sat for a while, “scheming”. I had been at home sick for the week and the last thing I felt like doing was getting dressed and leaving the house.

Note to self: Beware of encouragement that pushes you in the wrong direction.

It seemed that was all I needed, a little encouragement. I pulled open the closet doors, Aha! pulled out a knee-length winter coat – thick enough to keep me warm, (I had a fever that was giving me chills,) yet short enough so that I did not look totally crazy – slipped it on, and headed to the car.

Note to self: the bad might feel good to you, (and sometimes only for a short while), so stop deceiving yourself, it is never good for you.

“I love ’em! I hate ’em! I love ’em! I hate ’em, I really, really hate ’em”

Now, if from the start I had been truly honest with myself I could have avoided this emotional roller coaster, the abdominal pain, the sick feeling in my stomach, the headache, the regret, and that voice that always comes after – “Dona, you’ve been here before, you know better, how many times will you repeat this cycle before you learn.”

Have you ever been there? That place of after, called regret. For before, you were certain you could not do without “that thing”. You listened to the desire that said “Oh, just try it, if you don’t like it you can just move on.” Now you are caught in this cycle. Long after you’ve started hating “the thing,” you find yourself unable to move on.

Note to self: be careful what you give yourself to. You may find yourself in a lifelong struggle driven by some physical desire or psychological connection.

Thank God it was only Cheetos, that crunchy deliciousness that makes me sick every time. And the Cheetos pusher? My nephew. But don’t miss the point, always examine the long view when choices offer immediate and short-term gratification. Learn how to seize and destroy those thoughts and suggestions that are planted to destroy your vineyard.

A worthwhile exchange: releasing it all for God

Max Lucado tells a story of this six-year-old girl who had a string of pearls – they were fake, she loved them — she wore them everyday, everywhere with everything.

She was a daddy’s girl – she loved her daddy. He traveled often and was gone for days, but the first day of his return was a day of celebration.

This particular day they had played all afternoon after he returned from a week-long trip to the Orient. That evening as he tucked her in bed he asked, “Do you love me?”
“Yes daddy, I love you more than anything,” she answered.
“Anything?” he asked.
“Anything.”
He thought for a moment, “More than your pearls? Would you give them to me?
“Oh daddy, I couldn’t do that, you know I love my pearls!”
“I understand,” he said and kissed her goodnight.

That evening and the next day she thought about what he had asked. That night, offering her pearls to him, she said, “Take them daddy, I love you more.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” he answered as he reached for his briefcase. “I brought you a gift.”

She opened the small box, gasping with surprise, her dad had bought her genuine pearls…

The challenge is to offer things to God before I wrap my emotional arms around them – relationships, things I would love and stubbornly refuse to release once I become attached. I’ve never seen relationships that seemed perfect gone wrong so quickly once offered to God. Things exposed that I did not want to see, words that revealed hearts I thought I knew, and the whisper of God made crystal clear – would you willing exchange what you think you have/need even though you don’t know what I have in store?

I ask you the question that Max Lucado asked me — What pearls is God hoping you will release?

Song: Burn it all down by Lexi

I heard my daddy pray…

Good night, daddy,
Whispered the hesitant voice of a child,
It took some time before I realized
that the child-like voice was mine.
Decades of distance
Seemed to slip away,
For my heart almost melted
When I heard my daddy pray.

Don’t underestimate trials
The work they were sent to do,
By design they can make you stronger
And bring you closer too.
Sickness, pain and challenges
Had driven my family to say,
Come island to island, countries and states
We’re reaching out to God and pray.

So daddies, pray with your children
Let them see you on your knees,
Guard those priceless treasures
Be the example that they seek.
For time alone will show you
The kind of investment that you’ve made.
Stay the course, show up, be there,
Shower them with love and care.

POEM: When Dad’s not there

Becoming an Extravagant Lover

“What if he’s just like every other man…?”

She pushed the thought away and continued placing light, gentle kisses on his person. She suddenly realized she was crying, each tear drop voicing the ache in her sad, lonely heart, “Do YOU love me?…”

A familiar question. Millions are still asking… Imagine, after spending the night curled in someones’ arms, exchanging intimate kisses and passionate embraces…on the brink of giving one’s self to another…during…after…when lovemaking felt so much like being loved…the question is still whispered from empty, broken hearts, “Do you love me?”

…But Jesus was and is not like every other man. If He was insecure in who He is or uncertain about His purpose, he would have kicked at the kissing harlot, indignantly reminding her of who she was and who He is. Feeling the need to prove His own righteousness and win the approval of religious men He would have further wounded her instead of healing her.

No, Jesus is not like any other man, He is THE Extravagant Lover.

In the book “A Love Worth Giving,” Max Lucado states that the secret to loving, is living loved. Based on the story in Luke 7: 36-50 he speaks of the 7:47 principle from the same text “A person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Or to my understanding, “a person wrapped in his own self-righteous cannot really grasp his need of grace or forgiveness and therefore is incapable of (being an extravagant lover) offering grace, love and forgiveness to those in need. He can only give from the place where he lives.

This is where Simon dwells. The story shows that Simon, though very religious, showed contempt not only for this sinner but also for the Saviour. May I suggest that when our “righteousness” renders us incapable of showing love, causing us to live and speak hate, spewing condemnation and judgment on any person or group, wishing for their isolation and death, that we not only show contempt for them, but we also show contempt for the Saviour who died that they might live.  Living loved as Max Lucado describes it means first accepting the love that Jesus offers then learning to live and give from that place, (thus becoming an extravagant lover).

This is where the sinful woman lives. She knew who she was, a sinner. She knew what she needed, grace. So, she walks into the room bearing her alabaster jar, heads for the Saviour, stands behind him and weeps. Years of rejection and brokenness yield enough tears to wash His feet. A heart full of gratefulness, bursting with love expresses itself through kisses.

And what does The extravagant lover do? At the risk of His reputation, He gives her exactly what she needs. A safe place to express her love and the acceptance she so desperately craves. Her tears continued to flow voicing a new sound, “I’m loved, HE loves me!” The sinner becomes an extravagant lover as she pours out from what she has accepted, His grace, love and salvation.

Time for good men to stand up and step forward

She was short, round and stocky with a voice like a trumpet. “Don’t do anything else to her car, the woman has no money!” She shouted it seemed to the entire world, her neck stretching through the open door.

Yes, “The woman” she was referring to was me. Totally embarrassed I covered my face with my hands but was so tickled by the way she said it that I was laughing. She was right. I had gone home, changed clothing, dropped my journal in a bag and headed to the park. On my way home when I had spotted the car wash I had stopped, forgetting I did not have my purse. Somewhere during the process the thought that had been trying to reach my consciousness finally got there. I jolted from my relaxed seated position to my feet, as the thought ht me, “Dona, you have no money to pay for this service”.

Thankfully, there was a gentleman who responded to the trumpeter by reaching into his wallet and offering to pay for what they had done.

What makes a man a good man?

Earlier that day I had gone to the movies to see Tyler Perry’s “Good Deeds”. In the movie the character Wesley Deeds comes to the aid of this young woman (Lindsey) and her daughter, when life had dealt them some very tough stuff. I love the movie for its story line, its strong parallels and metaphors, but as Lindsey told Wesley that he was a good man, with a good heart I found myself raising the question once again that I had written on a post-it and placed in my bible to mark the eleventh chapter of Acts. “What makes a man a good man, and how can he be recognized?”

His name was Barnabas. No, not the man from the car wash, I don’t know his name. But this Barnabas in Acts 11 was described as a good man. He was known to be an encourager, generous in helping the poor. He was full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. He was a worshipper and a man of prayer.  He stood by and mentored his nephew when others may have given up on him. He loved deeply, was committed to God’s work and was trustworthy. He was a reconciler, whose Godly character was known not just by his words but by what his deeds.

In your opinion what makes a man a good man?

Can you recognize them? Well…, then help them stand in their homes, communities, churches and places of business. Help them stand in familiar and unfamiliar places. Help them stand for those who cannot defend themselves, mentor those who may otherwise be cast aside. And at the smallest glimpse of “goodness,” tell them that they are good men, for with just a little encouragement we may have good men standing up all around us and stepping forward.

Relationships – Mind blowing intimacy

Genuine love ultimately seeks covenant relationships.

Love's progression

Years ago someone I dated for a very short time told me I was not romantic. I did not know a lot about him. He had shown me his garage, it was full of fancy cars; he had told me of beautiful female celebrities he had spent time with and that his career was moving him to very exciting places — so, when I had gotten up from the sofa, pulled the front door wide open and wished him a good night, he was quite surprised.

There are certain things I don’t argue, this was one of them. I understood that the idea of romance meant different things to us. Romance to him simply meant sex. Romance to me means simple things, like walking and holding hands, dancing without music, walking on dried leaves just to hear them crackle and touch with no particular agenda – just the intimacy of that physical connection.

I’ve always been a watcher of lovers. I’m intrigued by that exchange, when it’s felt that no one is looking.

Many years before that, while I was still 20 something, my pastor had showed up at my mom’s house late one evening, visibly upset. He had proceeded to give me a dress down stating that someone had told him they had seen me holding hands with my fiance in “town,” our capital, Basseterre. He then said that there’s a survey that says 10% of what you see in public means that there is 90% more going on in private.

I’ve learned a lot about respect and honor over the years but back then I had calmly replied, “Really? Does it mean that when you treat your wife with total disregard in public that there is much more of that going on in private?”

My pastor who had known me since I was a child had not spoken to me for a long, long time after that.

But I’ve always been an observer of lovers, especially those who have been married for a while. I’m fascinated by what love looks like when it is lived out — maybe because I still don’t love as well as I’d like to.

Until I was in my 30s I had on my relationship “never list” – never marry a pastor, they don’t know how to love their wives.

How is that possible, though, since they represent such a phenomenal lover?

I’ve been excited for several days about this love chapter that I’m reading in John. About the relationship and mind-blowing intimacy desired there. You know how difficult it is to separate from the one you love – you always want to know when you’ll see them again. Here, Jesus calms his disciples anxiety over his departure with the promise that he’s coming back to get them.

Still teaching he leads them to an understanding that as he’s preparing a place for them, he needs them to invest that time in becoming a prepared people. A prepared people whose hallmark is love for God. Jesus then demonstrates what that looks like as he talks about the love and intimacy between Himself and his father — we are so connected, Jesus says, that if you know me you know Him. An intimacy so riveting that every action is about fulfilling the desires of the other – His Father.

Jesus makes it plain that love and intimacy is not only about the climax of one’s emotional high but that love is responsive in other ways – love seeks to know, desires to please and strives to obey.  “Whoever has my commands and obey them, he is the one who loves me…” John 14:21

Love ultimately seeks to be in covenant relationship. It’s progressive. Jesus promises that when our response of love is our obedience, then something truly intimate happens. There is an exposure, a baring of sorts, as he reveals intimate details, has intimate conversations, moves in with His father to make a home with us, and builds a relationship based on trust. There is a safety in true love and intimacy that dispels fear and allows us to live in peace.

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