Is Loyalty Dying Among Christians?

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When I look back on the people that have come in and out of my life … the enemy wants the losses to overshadow those who remain loyal friends.

We know when people pull away … when they are for us or not.

It’s obvious by their speech, actions, and heaven forbid … even in their Facebook activity (that’s a truth said in jest by the way).

It’s difficult when we realize the loyalty we give … is not always matched. And that’s okay because we know too well how human we all are.

But loyalty – that true kind that eptiomizes God in every sense of the word … has been on my mind for some time. Recently in a meeting with one of my pastors, he hit on the subject -reiterating how important loyalty is for Christians to practice.

Loyalty comes in many forms.

There is loyalty to God that says … no matter what … I’m going to be faithful to you Lord.

This determined faithfulness to His statutes and commands, compels us to do the right thing … even when we don’t feel like it.

There is a persistent, unwavering commitment to our spouse that hangs tough when life is less than perfect.

In fact, this kind of loyalty builds character. It’s a determination much like a tenacious hound dog that won’t let go of a bone.

There is a loyalty that a mother hen gives to her children.

A mother’s devotion will take on a herd of bullies even if it means being smashed like a bug in the dirt. NOBODY messes with my hairy, man, babies … and that goes for my daughter-in-law and grand-kids as well.

Then there is the sibling allegiance – like the kind my boys have.

They may aggravate and irritate each other but by golly … nobody’s gonna’ mess with any one of them … or there will be a hellacious problem.

There is steadfastness to an Alma Mater … our favorite learning institute …  or die hard dedication to our favorite sports teams … and even to our preferred hobbies.

Then there is devoted constancy to the church … to God’s man in the pulpit … and to the body of Christ over all. This kind of loyalty guards against fickleness or offense.

Loyalty is vast in variety, but the one that’s wrestling in my heart of late … is the loyalty of a friend that sticks closer than a brother.

It’s a beautiful picture of walking through life’s valleys with those you value during the hard times and even the good times.

And as I’ve tried to wrap my flawed brain around what loyalty really is and means in regards to friendship … I keep thinking about what loyalty isn’t. Those descriptions are much easier to name and recall for obvious reasons, aren’t they?

You see, we all can find a reason to abandon someone … when it’s not convenient … when we’ve been hurt … when there’s no apology … or when we just want to sit on the fence and not get involved.

But the truth of that is… we can still be loyal in neutrality if we desire to. And perhaps we don’t realize when we’ve walked away from loyalty? Or, maybe we justify it by flawed reasons?

Then for some reason we think loyalty is about shifting the relational balance and standing in one’s corner. But that’s not true loyalty. It’s not about taking sides … it’s about faithful friendship, period.

But as I search the bible looking for examples of what it means to truly be loyal … I keep hearing the Spirit say … “It’s all about the love, Mel.”

“It’s all about the love.”

That’s a thought that makes me think … well if it’s all about the love … then the people that abandon us never really love us, is that right God?

Maybe … probably … maybe not.

So, if we don’t feel this love to the core … then either we don’t love like Jesus loves … or we allow the enemy to draw our intentions away … making us abandon God, and each other.

In fact, I believe the loyalty we give is equal to the love we have in our hearts. This truth is making me examine some wounded places deep in my soul.

final love and loyalty

We can always find a reason to walk away … whether it’s a righteous one can only be determined by the Holy Spirit … but the flawed words of man should never pull us away.

I’ve finally realized, if loyalty is all about love … then I need to adjust my love meter, I guess.

The truth is … there are times when it’s easy to be loyal, right?

Like when it’s not costly or when it’s righteous … when we feel it to our core. I guess that’s the love part the Holy Spirit uttered to me.

But the point is … we are all so stinking flawed … we blow it in this love and loyalty thing.

If there is anything God has taught me at all in the last 12 months … loyalty matters because it’s a reflection of God’s Covenant love.

If you’ve never studied God’s Covenant love … then you will never understand true love or loyalty.

So … I want to love better, period.

And loving better doesn’t mean that I dive in without boundaries … but it does mean that I love … without judgement … without hypocrisy … and without giving up the desire to want God’s best for those that abandon me.

Loving better means I don’t take sides and I sure as heck don’t wag my tongue.

Loving better means I forgive … and I move on to heal.

Loving better means I don’t look back.

And finally, loving better means that even if my love and loyalty is not reciprocated … I love anyway … without offense.

Loyalty may be a dying character quality to the world … but Christians can show the world a better way – if we truly love what’s important … and what’s most important is God … and each other.

Lord, May our love be evident to you and each other … by our loyalty to do what’s right.

love mel

The Sisterhood of Messy Hearts #Grace

savannah ga 1194

She was the funniest girl in school with the coolest clothes. Everyone wanted to sit by her at lunch, but she decided who did. She formed a club and chosen members met on Friday nights at the skating rink.

Then her parents got a divorce. She told fewer jokes. The trips to the skating rink stopped.

I found her crying one day, and my sixth grade heart hurt because her world was falling apart. I could have been a good friend. Not like the one’s talking behind her back … but she wouldn’t let me.

Just like the popular girl in sixth grade, big girls have holes in their hearts too. We all have secrets, heartaches, betrayals and shameful details.

Wary of trust, a wall goes up blocking sweet connection on a Jesus level.

That’s exactly what the Devil wants when it comes to sisters in Christ.

When he separates us … he causes unity to fade.

With the fading of unity … the kingdom’s work is stalled.

So what is the solution?  What can we do?

savannah ga 1248

If we really want change … we have to be willing to change.

The scriptures say …

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.” Philippians 2:3

The Greek interpretation for the word esteem means to lead … or go before. This made me think about not only putting others before myself … but taking the lead in loving my sisters first … before they love me.

I ache for this holy sisterhood to bond through the beautiful redemption process … to be real on a come to Jesus level … to find sincere connection and genuine grace.

What could happen if we all take the lead to love first?

What would that look like?

Perhaps a good starting place is putting our sister’s feelings before our own, letting selfishness fall to the wayside.

What if we put away all unfavorable perceptions and think only the best about our sister … instead of judging her in specific measures?

What if we forget previous clashes and renew our thoughts?

What affirmation for her if we’d speak truth in kindness, encouraging and praying for her.

What if we keep secrets in perfect trust and serve her in ways glorifying to our Father?

And because we are terribly flawed and we will fail her … we humbly ask for forgiveness … as we forgive.

You see in order for this sisterhood of messy hearts to flourish in Christ … grace must go both ways.

Oh what beauty is found in grace.

What hope is exchanged in love.

What redemption is mined from humility.

The meekness of a messy sisterhood can be a beautiful tapestry of merciful grace … if only we’ll take the lead to love first.

So tell me sister … will you take the lead?

“Letting Go Of The Hurt”

My heart was as hard as stone.

I had built a wall all around my fragile emotions.

I didn’t trust anyone….nor did I want friends.

I allowed circumstances to poison my heart toward all people.

I withdrew from relationships and checked out of the only social scene I participated in… which centered around church.

My husband accused me of being unfriendly.

He would go out to eat with friends….I would not.

My job became more demanding requiring me to travel….I stayed tired so it was a good excuse.

I allowed myself to only care for my immediate family.

Thank GOD I did not give up on church.  HE kept me engaged with the drama ministry I served.

My broken heart kept me desperate for GOD.

broken heart

In the midst of my internal pain, I knew GOD was the only solace for help.

I lived in this fog for about 6 years….disillusioned with loyalty….friendship….trust.

As time passed….I smiled and put on a good front…but I kept my distance.

Let me just say….distance is never good.

Distance just keeps us farther away from facing the root of our heartaches.

The LORD did many things in my life during those dark years of living in isolation.

First HE showed me how deceitful my heart was.

the heart is deceitful

I was so weak in reality….I believed the lies my feelings were telling my mind.

Not everything I felt was true.

Second HE helped me see….I can’t fix others…but I can fix my heart if I will listen and obey HIM.

HE forced me to identify the true root of my heartache…and I finally surrendered my brokenness to the only one who could restore.

You see….sometimes we spend more time looking at others hearts instead of looking at our own.

It’s so easy to pray for GOD to fix another’s heart isn’t it?

HE showed me regardless of whether certain people in my life are loyal….trustworthy….or not….HE will always be loyal…. and trustworthy.

I’ve learned not to judge all people from the hurtful experiences life throws my way.

Just because someone betrays or lets me down today….doesn’t mean a new friend will do the same tomorrow.

When I realized GOD wanted me to have friends whether I wanted them or not….I knew I had a spiritual problem.

HE let me waller in my misery until I felt the need for GODLY friendship.

HE created us for companionship…to bear one another’s burdens…to encourage….to be accountable….to love.

GOD started speaking to me about letting go…and letting others in.  One day I found a great quote by C.S. Lewis….

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art….It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”

 

friendship

 

We don’t need friends to survive…..

but we need them to be able to walk the path GOD has planned for us….

because HE knows the rocky roads we will encounter…..

the great fogs we will get lost in….

and the deep valleys that will threaten our existence.

HE knows the value of the friend who will listen…guide and pray for us.

I grieve because I isolated myself from so many.

I grieve because I probably appeared apathetic….maybe even arrogant.

Heartache changes us…..makes us become something GOD does not want us to be…..

Bitter….

Hardened…

Alone.

So I send these thoughts out to the big blog-o-sphere with this encouragement for you to think about…..

If you have unbelievable hurt or betrayal you are carrying around….

if hurt is causing you to isolate yourself from others…..

and pain is making you view the world through the lies of feelings….

Friend….give yourself a gift….

Let it go.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize…..in the grand scheme of things….the situation really didn’t matter in regard to eternity.

Are you going to care about this hurt when you are with JESUS one day?

If you know JESUS….the answer to that question is NO!

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize…you lost precious memories and experiences you could have had with new friends….family….or restored friends.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize…..

Your heart was as hard as stone…..

And that stone heart made you cold….apathetic…unapproachable….unfriendly….judgmental….lonely.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize….

You have regrets….and should have done things different.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize….

It could have been so much different….if only you had let go of the hurt.

Letting go is a gift you give to yourself…..

And the great gift is…. you are no longer allowing hurt to jade your heart or rob you of peace and joy….it means you value your life and existence more than the negativity in your life.

Letting go is an act of obedience to GOD.

GOD’S blessing will come to you when bitterness is excavated from every layer of your heart!

Letting go of the hurt…is the beginning to restoring you.

letting go of the hurt

Tell me friend…….what do you need to let go of today?