My6inchchallenge's Blog

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

Archive for relationships

Don’t Judge Me!

That Sunday afternoon found me in the kitchen chopping veggies as I prepared Sunday lunch.
I was wearing my “intelligent design, interior shorts,” with matching green shoes and an orange floral top–exposing my shoulders, midriff and thighs.

The door opened and in walked my mom, Laura and Laura’s cousin. “I love your outfit,” she said, as she gave me a hug. I turned to her with mocked seriousness and said, “You know I did not wear THIS to church?” She laughed, then responded, “Even if you wore it to church, I would not judge you. I’d just figure if that’s how you want to do church, you should do you.”

What is it about that generation, I wonder, that make them so quick to state that they neither pass judgment or want to be judged. Are they correcting some flaw they saw in the generations before them? Is there possibly some confusion about values, right, wrong and the act of passing judgment? Or is there something that we all can learn from them?

Let’s explore…
Her name is Saffron. She’s deathly still as she sits in her car. There is no life in her eyes, except for the tears welling up in them. Until, as if suddenly jolted to life, she starts pounding on her steering wheel, crying, “My life HAS to change, I can’t live like this anymore…”

She turns on her car and starts driving, noticing for the first time how many churches she passes on her way home. In her 21 years she had never been to church except for weddings, and she’d never had a desire to go. …The HOPE Cathedral; New Beginnings; Changing A Generation; A Church For The Community; Whosoever Will Come; Lifesavers Ministries; The Love Center; Haven of Rest… She kept reading the signs, her heart yearning for what they all promised…

She pulled in the parking lot, slipped out of the car then with horror realized she had not thought about how she was dressed. She was still wearing her shorts and high heels from the previous night and shame gripped her once again as she debated returning to car and going home. She was so tired, tired of her life the way it was, tired of where her choices took her and so tired of feeling ashamed.

She slipped in the back door hoping to sit in the back pew, unnoticed. Instead, it took an eternity to get to the open seat in the middle of the church. As heads turned and eyes stared, she fought to hold back her tears. “Would someone just help me?” her heart cried?

…If this was “your church” how would they respond?

Would the Outreach Ministry present Christ to her? Would the intercessors be crying out on her behalf? Godly women who had been taught to be uncomfortable about their bodies and made to feel insecure in their relationships, would they view her suspiciously, wishing she had gone elsewhere? Would the older women, steeped with propriety be able to see pass her attire and discern her need?

Would the men offer her Christ or themselves? Would they be so comfortable with a life of continued sin to confidently offer her Christ AND themselves?

What would I do?

What would you do? Would our actions make it difficult for her to receive the Word?

Would Saffron find Christ at the Church or would she find selfishness and judgment?

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

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.

When love does not come quickly

What happens when love intentionally and deliberately chooses not to show up when needed?

Keep looking up and wait!

I have to confess that in the past I would end relationships in a heartbeat because of some action or inaction that I construed to be unloving. If the truth be told, many of us who desire to love and be loved can find that our greatest obstacle is the ideal love that we seek.

Just imagine you are dating a physician, and during that time you fall dreadfully ill. You reach him on his cell to let him know and he tells you he’s just a few blocks away visiting friends, and he’ll be there shortly. You wait, and wait, and wait…. Then, several days later he pops by to “see how you are getting along…”

What happens when love does not come quickly? When the actions that give life to our words of love do not immediately show up to protect, care for and defend. I think with maturity we realize — not just from the imperfect love we have received but also from the imperfect love we have shown — that love can fall short of expectations and even with our best efforts we can still hurt those we love. We are human.

But what happens when God acts like that?

Is it unsettling to realize that God DOES NOT always show up and deliver us when we want Him to? That Love does not always run quickly to our aid? Remember that story about Lazarus? The sisters of Lazarus send word to Jesus telling Him that the one He loves, Lazarus, is ill. I had to check several bible versions because I was unsettled by the “So” in this version. Look at this! “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. SO, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Really? That makes no sense. We can understand if love is unexpectedly detained but it’s difficult to understand a love that intentionally and deliberately delays when needed. What was Jesus up to? Why did he wait until Lazarus had died before he showed up?

There can sometimes be so much uncertainty while we wait. Not to mention the increasing pressure that our challenges can bring. But, is it worth the wait if somewhere during that process we encounter The Resurrection and The Life? An encounter not just through mere word, but through an experience where we see God in action.

When love does not come quickly, keep looking up and don’t give out in the process. One certainty in the midst of all uncertainties is that God really loves us and His love is the only ideal. The “so” becomes easier to understand when we realize that Jesus had a purpose in waiting. Challenges test our faith, but challenges also give us an opportunity, if we believe, to see the miraculous display of God’s power that will result in His glory.

Putting a face on domestic violence

One woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the United States. (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1991).You can’t really tell, can you? No one wears the evidence of domestic abuse as a badge for others to see. Our smiles conceal it. We may be too ashamed to speak of it, and much too afraid to try to escape it. As I look at the photo of the three of us sitting at the table, Laura, me and my mom, I’m aware that the American Medical Association reported that in the United States approximately 1 in 3 women will be assaulted by a domestic partner in her lifetime.

To bring it home, it means that probably at least 1 of the women sitting at the table with me has been abused by her husband, 4 of the women I work with may have been or could be abused by their domestic partners, and it boggles my mind to figure the number of abused women who could have been worshiping with me at church this morning.

I was stunned when I found out that each year approximately 3 to 4 million women in the United States are beaten by spouses, former spouses or their male lovers. I may  never again be able to share my space with a group of women without wondering, “Will they be safe when they get home?”

Their stories may differ, but they share similar emotions. One woman said her husband would not hit her, he would just hold her around the neck and squeeze – he was a choker – she was terrified to stay and even more terrified to leave, he threatened to kill her if she left. Another woman said her husband would pin her down and pound her head against the floor, she was afraid for her life, but she stayed as long as she did because she felt she had no other options, and the stories go on…

October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is almost over and it’s easy to forget those things that don’t directly affect us. However, if we were able to put a face on Domestic violence this awareness can remain with us the entire year. Imagine it were your mother, sister, daughter, friend…  For, approximately 1,000
to 1,600 women in the U.S, are killed each year by their male partners. This does not include those women who kill themselves in an effort to escape the violence, or those who die due to homelessness as they try to avoid being battered.

If you are a victim of domestic violence or if you are aware of someone who is, know that many women have found the courage to leave their abusers, have survived to share their stories and have overcome the tough challenges of starting over.

Help is available. Check for resources in your state or click this link for more information http://www.ncadv.org/resources/OtherUSOrganizations.php your life or the life of someone you love may depend on it.

Is God really a brother, or is he Hispanic?

“No, that one’s not sweet, neither is that one, or…” I was in BJs sniffing pineapples. I firmly believe that if certain fruits are sweet you should be able to smell the sugar…

“You so Goorgous!” I turned around and started chuckling softly as I stared into a mouth of gold teeth. “Well, thank you!” I responded, “How are YOU doing today?”

“Give me yo number so I can spou you!”

As I wondered what made this brother think that an offer to spoil me would be a good line, I smiled and said, “no, thank you, but have a good day, ok.”

I laughingly thought, you have to admire a man with confidence and at least he used his words. Some black men have a way of  just staring at you and grunting. I HATE that! Steve Harvey use to do that to Regina on the “Steve Harvey Show,” remember? I loved that show.

When I moved to the U.S. I started realizing that our diverse cultures have flavored us differently and that our black men offer up a variety of flavors. I love their individual differences. However, brothers, work on those lines! Remember your sisters are diverse and do not all respond favorable to the same things.

Speaking of cultures, let’s hop over to Piggly Wiggly, my neighborhood grocery store. As I head to the fruit and veggie section I spot one of the workers, he’s Hispanic and has been there for years. He always compliments me and he is always respectful.

“You vacation?” is normally the first question he asks after he responds to my greeting, “Como Esta?”

“No, I’ve been here.”

“I look, look, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, no see!” Then he pauses, looks me up and down–not like he wants to eat me–but as though he is really sees me, then kisses his fingers with an exclamation of “Beautiful!” He then sweeps his hand in a gesture from my head to my toes and declares, “You! Ebbrything Good! Ebbrything Good! You change your hair? I like! I like! Ebbrything good!”

Now, who wouldn’t love a compliment like that. There is something almost biblical about it that has me wondering, is God really a brother or is he Hispanic?

Later that evening I sat down with a book “Our Blended Family, God Revealed Lessons for Marital Success” written by my close friend Carletta Henderson-Youngs. I had intended to just scan it, after all it did not really apply to me, but as I started reading I was hooked as she talked about the failure of her first marriage and the commitment that both she and her husband had made to ensure that divorce was not an option in their second marriage. I realized I have a unique opportunity to learn as an outsider, (a single woman) listening to the wisdom of a married woman.

Often in marriages, the promises to spoil each other, to cherish and see each as “good” get lost somewhere along the way. The book is excellently written, but the lessons are practical and on point.

I wonder how our homes and communities would change if couples learned the art of unselfishly building up each other with their words and committing themselves to the good of the other. I wonder how future marriages would change if singles learned as outsiders looking in and developed  those relational skills now.

Religion: Finding safety in the enemy’s territory

Sunday after Sunday she shows up to church, sings in the choir and helps with the children, she then heads home, and in another attempt to keep her husband, plies her young daughter with alcohol so that her husband can once again have sex with their child…

She hates going home, she dreads being left alone with her father and his friends, she’s only 9 years old but she has been called every degrading thing you can thing about by her dad. She’s just a child, but her innocence was stolen a long, long time ago….

They were just young boys, twins, who were sent to church I guess to learn about God, instead, they became prey and were molested by the priest their family trusted….

She’s been abused physically and emotionally by a husband who openly cheats on her, she goes to church and says she loves God but she wonders sometimes if she could get away with killing her husband…

Blow the trumpet in Zion, SOUND THE ALARM….

For while we are caught up in our women’s day services — choosing what colors to dress up in and having hat contests — women are shouting right along side us then going home and making compromises that would blow our minds; while we are debating about the clothes our children are wearing and pointing our fingers at all that’s wrong with the youth of today our children are being broken and harmed in the places they should find safety. While we are doing church as usual, people are dying.

Blow the trumpet in Zion, sound the alarm… Rend your heart and not your garments and return to the Lord your God…

What happens when our lives are threatened in the places where we should find protection?

David was in such a situation when King Saul was trying to destroy him. The bible says that David took refuge in the enemy’s territory, among the Philistines. I’m convinced that this is the trick of the enemy to make the places where we should be nurtured, loved, protected, where words of life should be spoken into us, become places from which we feel the need to escape , and persuade us to run to the enemy for safety.

The problem here is that King Achish, though he gave David a location where he could escape Saul’s attack, he saw this man that God had destined to be a king, as his servant. As a matter of fact he thought to himself that David had become so offensive to his own people, the Israelites, that he would never return home and he would remain his servant forever.

It’s painful and heart-breaking that some have to face the kind of challenges they do, and it hurts because there are no easy solutions. When Adam and Eve scoffed at the idea that sin brings death they could never have imagined that their choices would plunge the rest of humanity into a life-cycle of physical and spiritual death, brokenness, pain and destruction. I believe that today, when we make choices against God’s will that the wages of sin have not changed, when we sin something dies and sometimes it’s not only in our lives.

I don’t know how a mother could make her daughter an object for her husband to take advantage of, or why a dad would be so hateful toward his young child, why broken and wicked men who claim to represent God pass on their of brokenness to others, or why husbands and wives hardly seem to have lasting love in their relationships. One thing I know for sure is that running to the enemy is never the solution, for the enemy may know our potential but he will always offer us less than what we have been destined to become.

The Good News is that God restores, through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus, the broken, hurting and those who have made messes of their lives and the lives of others can find restoration, they can go home again. In addition, He offers His power to destroy the patterns of broken behaviour and the power of sin in our lives so that we don’t have to be the ones passing on the cycle of brokenness to others.

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