good grief

I like words. I like studying words. I like learning new words. I like articulating my feelings with words. I like that words can free what's inside a person.

And sometimes I do not like what comes out. Sometimes I'm surprised by what's there and sometimes I'm mad that it is. Sometimes I wish words would leave me alone. So I'll use them against themselves.


Sorrow. Misery. Sadness. Anguish. Pain. Distress. Heartache. Heartbreak. Agony. Torment. Affliction. Suffering. Woe. Desolation. Dejection. Despair. Mourning. Mournfulness. Bereavement. Lamentation. 


Enjoyable. Pleasant. Agreeable. Pleasurable. Delightful. Great. Nice. Lovely. Amusing. Diverting. Jolly. Merry. Lively.  Super. Fantastic. Fabulous. Terrific. Grand. Brilliant. Peachy.

Not my words - Webster's.

Our church has for some time now referred to the idea of Door A and Door B as we study through the Scriptures.

The whole idea of "Door A" is that since I'm a believer, things will go according to "plan". That because I love Jesus, it will all work out - and in my favor - and possibly even the way I planned it to. Since I'm sold out to Christ, surely no harm, no foul, no pain and all gain will be in store for me. And if pain does come my way, I'm doing something wrong, I should not acknowledge its presence, and I should just keep pulling those bootstraps up. Do you relate to even a sliver of this?

The whole idea of "Door B" is that joy is often times mixed with pain. That grief can be good. That good can be brought out of grief. That life happens in ways we can't possibly fathom, but that God still reigns sovereign.

So, what happens when life presents itself less favorable than desired? What happens when that's the case more often than not? What is our response? What words flow from within? Words of Grief or words of Good?

I choose to believe that words of Good Grief are more than okay.

And quite frankly, I'm not even sure I know fully what that means yet.
But I do know that there is Hope. I know that there is Truth. And I know that there is Love.
I also have a personal relationship with the God who defines those things.

Grief is temporary. Good is not.


A love that never fails

Last month our newly marrieds small group was issued a challenge from our mentor couple: for Valentine's Day, the men would cook dinner and the women would create (literally hand-make) the centerpiece and the card. I thought this was brillant! It helped us step out of the usual gender roles for this "holiday."

I'll post pictures from our adventure soon, but my reason for posting today comes from my quest to create the Valentine card. In making it, I knew I wanted to include a few things: scripture, our wedding vows, and something that would be obvious that I made it (not for credit or glory, but for the mark of personalization).

Of course one of the first places I looked for Scripture was I Corinthians 13. It's cliche for a reason. It literally outlines what godly Love is. After reading it in several versions, I landed on the Message's. I wouldn't use this version for an inductive study, but I liked the phrasing and word choice for this purpose.

I liked it so much that I wrote it down twice: one for the card and one for my desk. It is taped to the ledge behind my computer screen and it stares back at me daily with loving conviction. Which is why I'm posting.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut, have a swelled head,
doesn't force itself on others,
isn't always "me first",
doesn't fly off the handle,
doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
doesn't revel when others grovel,
takes pleasure in the flowering of TRUTH,
puts up with anything,
trusts God always,
always looks for the best,
never looks back,
but keeps going to the end.

Love never fails.

In Jerry Bridge's book, Respectable Sins, he says one of the most powerful things believers can do is to preach the Gospel to themselves daily. To say, "I am a great sinner in great need of a great Savior" aloud. I added the "greats" because I often forget how great that need is. I'm a good person right? Wrong. So, so wrong. Even looking at what Love is supposed to be, I realize how badly I fall short. How much more short am I to the glory of God? What "right" do I have to anything, let alone a personal relationship with God who IS love?

"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." II Cor. 5:21

...and that is what is so amazing about grace.

Thank you Lord for Your grace so undeserved and for Your Love that never fails.

Help us all in our attempts to be more like You and Your love.