Seeking to have a heart like God's, the overflow of my relationship with Him, is to see growth in how I relate with others.
In the New Testament there are 59 "One Anothers" with 10 of them telling us to “love one another.” Some of the “One Anothers” are on the lighter side, such as,
encourage one another;
pray for one another;
be kind and compassionate with one another; and
offer hospitality to one another.
Then there are the “One Anothers” that are demanding like, “forgive one another,” “stop passing judgement on one another,” and the one I will focus on today is “accept one another as Christ has accepted you.” That’s a big one!
I am grateful to have mentors in various stages of life. One faithful woman said to me,
“Ann, the strength of your relationship with God is as strong as your weakest relationship on earth.”
Take a second to read that again…it’s profound! That singular sentence has shaped my life!
For me, the most difficult relationship on earth was with my mother.
I had an “ordinary” childhood with a churchgoing family, Sunday pot roast suppers, Saturday soccer games, after dinner walks holding my dad’s hand and the discipline that kept four kids on the straight and narrow.
At age 10, my life was disrupted when my father died from a heart attack. Within two months, Mother joined a “parents without partners” social group to date various men. After her full-time job as a nurse, she spent her free time socializing away from home and participating in activities that were not our norm.
For 10 years, I grew distant, bitter, and embarrassed as I tried to figure out, “What happened?” At age 20, I realized that my life was divided into two different worlds, and my heart was hardened towards her.
As a young adult, God not only called me to forgive her, but also to accept her just as Jesus accepted me…warts and all. That was tough!
My friend, without Jesus, it is difficult to accept others. In our flesh, we may be able to accommodate or put up with others. By asking God for a heart like His, He showed me the reality of my own heart. It is imperfect. It is needy. And it is incomplete. Not only did He love me as I was, but also He grew in me the desire to accept Mother.
God can change any heart. He can reveal Himself to others. I asked God for faith to honestly believe He could change my relationship, and I looked to Him for how to nurture a relationship with her.
After Mom’s boyfriend of 18 years passed away, God gave us time to get to know each other. We flourished individually and served others together. Though simple and without much fanfare, it was amazing to see the renewal of our relationship with each other and with God. His glory was seen by others who witnessed my relationship with Mom until she died in 2004.
Today, there are women who are living in silent shame.
They are longing to be accepted yet easily distanced, sadly, from many Christians. They are looking to find a safe person to share their story—their real story. These are the countless women who have had one or multiple abortions. God used my relationship with my mother as a training ground to welcome into my life people living in various circumstances and with painful choices.
Over the years I’ve listened to women speak with great courage about their abortions. One friend stood at her kitchen sink and confided in me what no one else knows. An 82-year-old friend stated she had an abortion before it was legalized in the United States.
And most profoundly, a middle-aged friend told me with calm, but deep pain, the details of her late-term abortion. I could feel her wound of regret. In my innocence, I asked, “Did you name him?” “No,” was her answer. Gently I asked, “Do you want to?” She responded, “Yes.” A little later on we created a naming ceremony with flowers and balloons that lifted to the heavens.
I am grateful that God took me to a place of acceptance of my mother so that I could become a safe place for others living with abortions to find healing and unconditional love. We all need it. We long to feel loved. To be accepted. To know our worth. We find all of this in Jesus, and we need to share it with others.
Today, let’s ask the Lord to reveal our weakest relationship on earth and to give us His heart for others. To love. To forgive. To accept. This is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The world will know that God is real by the way we love and accept one another.
John 13:34 (love), I Thessalonians 4:18 (encourage), James 5:16 (pray), Ephesians 4:32 (kind and compassionate), I Peter 4:9 (hospitality), Colossians 3:13 (forgive), Romans 14:13 (stop judging), and Romans 15:7 (accept)
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