Bridge of Love

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Build a bridge.
Smile a smile.
Open a door.
Go another mile.
Meet a need.
Bind a hurt.
Give a hand.
Lift others up.
Be a friend
who's always there
to share a word,
to share a prayer.
Give your time.
Give yourself.
Then they will know
what the Bible's about.
Give all you can
and you will see
the blessings of God
pour out so free.

"The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" 
Galatians 5:14
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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Filed under Butterflies Biscuits and Rain, relationships

God’s Message to Those in Isolation

Isolated.
Alone.
Unknown.
By choice, circumstances, or physical limitations.

Cut off.
Like a remote island.
Or unnoticed in a crowd.

Unseen or unwanted?
Invisible or rejected?

The heart cries out:
Love me.
Appreciate me.
Include me.
Every soul longs to be noticed. We each desire to be fully known yet fully loved. Many of us choose to hide because we feel inadequate or fear rejection. Circumstances leave some people in solitary living conditions. Others find their social connections are limited by sickness, paralysis, injury, or age. Regardless of whatever separates us from relationships, this was never God’s intention for humanity. He created us for community.  Research shows loneliness and isolation contribute to sickness and early death. 

Here are four messages God gives to those who feel disconnected:

1. I created you for relationship.


The idea of total seclusion is terrifying. Feeling like no one recognizes or cares what’s happening to you. There’s a reason why solitary confinement is a punishment in prison and why statistics show social detachment is associated with early death as stated above. God designed us for connection with others.

When God created the first man, Adam, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). God has always intended for us to bond with others. 

In early Bible days, King Solomon who was reputed for his wisdom wrote: “Pity anyone who falls and has no one to pick them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10). Because God formed us for community, we will always long for intimacy.

Among believers in Jesus Christ, the bond is stronger. The Apostle Paul, early church leader, compared Christians to a body. Just as our whole being hurts if one part is in pain, Paul wrote concerning believers, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices” (1 Corinthians 12:26).

How does learning you’re created for relationship help when you feel you’re cut off by circumstances? Maybe you believe you’re blocked from receiving such love? God wants us experience the joy of friendship; He will enable us to move forward.

I would suggest these actions:


First: Pray.


Ask God to give you a confidante. Scripture teaches us to, “Pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6). 

A few years before we adopted our son, I was writing prayer requests in a journal and wrote this:

“Father, please send me at least one close friend.”

I lacked intimate friends. I would work, come home, rest and then repeat. I held myself back and didn’t open up to others. Not long after, God opened the door for us to adopt our son. About 2 weeks into my maternity leave, I needed to arrange for childcare. Grieving, I realized I’d soon return to work and refused to enroll him into a childcare center. I placed an announcement in the church bulletin asking for someone who was willing to come to our home to babysit. 

One woman responded who wanted the job but insisted he must come to her house. My husband and I visited her and her children and decided to hire her. With much trepidation, I left our newborn in a stranger’s care. 

God in His graciousness, developed our friendship into one I cherish. Later, I ran across the prayer request I’d written. Thankfulness filled my soul for the abundant way God answered. Our son is now grown and married, and though she and I live in different states, we’re still close.

Pour out your heart to God and tell Him what you need. Ask Him for close relationships and the ability to reach out to others.


Second: Take a risk.

Be willing to make yourself vulnerable and be the first to say hi, send a message, make a phone call, or issue an invitation. Relationships are worth taking a chance. Remember, others need you as much as you need them. 

Theresa and I wouldn’t have become bosom buddies if I hadn’t been willing to respond to her invitations and to open up to her as she did to me. There comes a point when one must trust others enough to get real with them if you want them to reciprocate. 

Third:  Develop a genuine interest in others.

Ask questions, listen, and remember names and details. Intimacy works two ways. Make friends by talking to someone new. Be curious about their life, and keep seeking them out. 

Fourth: Get help if needed.

If you’re genuinely unable to reach out, consider visiting a counselor. Maybe you’re trapped in depression, have a chemical imbalance, or have trauma to work through. Find a recommended professional who can intervene.

Before we adopted our son, I visited a counselor for depression. It was one of the best decisions I could have made. The therapy I received prepared me for opportunities ahead and gave me some tools for dealing with mental health challenges.

God’s message:

I created you for connection with others. Trust Me and reach out. Love others as I have loved you. 

2. I see you.

Hagar, who lived in Bible times, experienced painful mistreatment.  Abused and used by her mistress, Sarah, she was the lowest in society: a slave. Powerless, Hagar fled into the wilderness. While by herself in the desert, feeling desperate, God sent an Angel of the Lord to help her and give her a promising prophecy concerning the child she was carrying. 

Renewed with hope, Scripture tells us, “She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me’” (Genesis 16:13).

Aware God was with her and had observed and understood her pain, she returned and submitted to her mistress.

God is always watching. King David, from Old Testament times, expressed this beautifully:

“You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and You lay your hand upon me...Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there...Your right hand will hold me fast (Psalm 139:2-10). 

God’s message:

You’re never out of My sight. I notice those moments when it seems like you’re invisible and your heart feels neglected. You wonder if anyone discerns your secret pain and struggle. I love you, my child. I’m aware of every thought and hurt. Reach out to Me in faith. Tell Me your troubles and your heart’s desires. Receive My love. You’re never alone. 

3. I understand.

Perceiving our sin would separate us from Him forever, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live and die for us. He then rose from the grave, conquering death forever. He did this by taking the punishment we deserved upon Himself. He became sin for us. While on the cross, He was distanced from the Father and their timeless unity. In agony, Jesus cried out:

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) 


Jesus felt painful isolation beyond our ability to comprehend. He experienced true estrangement from God as He became the object of His wrath. We can be assured then that Christ identifies with us when we feel abandoned.

Jesus’s message:

I can empathize with how you feel. I was rejected so you don’t have to be forsaken. I was abandoned so you could be accepted. Receive my love and you will experience it forever. 

4. Nothing can separate you from my love. I will never leave you.

God keeps His word. One of His sweetest promises is: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). 

Paul expounded on this truth when he wrote, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

God’s message:


Rest in my love my beloved child. No one can take you away from me. You’re never deserted or without hope. 

Remember: You are seen, known, understood, and loved. Ask God to give you the confidence you need to build relationships with others.

If you find yourself in a situation where isolation seems inevitable and impossible to overcome: believe God loves you and can meet your need. He wants to have a loving, personal relationship with you. Talk to Him as you would a friend. If you don’t already do so, speak to God out loud, have a conversation with Him. A friend recently shared it was life changing for her when she began talking to God aloud in her alone times and now, she’s praying all the time! Love and trust Him. He’s always listening.

Believe this truth taught in Scripture, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing” (Psalm 23:1).


Originally published at iBelieve.com

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The Agony of Mental Pain

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
How much we sympathize 
when physical illness comes.
We understand cancer,
disease, accidents.
When our bodies don't work,
we pray for healing.
We seek to help.
We usually don't judge
but ask, "What can I do to help?"

What about mental illness?
When the mind is in anguish and pain?
When rational thought seems lost?
Decisions just won't come.
Depression is deep.
Behavior is strange
and wrong choices are made.
Image by John Hain from Pixabay
It's easy to judge.

Do we understand?
Do we pray for healing?
Do we judge or seek to help?
Do we have sympathy for the one
whose mind won't work as it should?
Do we reach out?
This one needs help as much as 
those with physical ills.

The loneliness and isolation
that comes when the mind seems lost
or doesn't function normally
is a fearful thing,
a horrible pain.

What should we do?
Instead of judging--pray for healing.
Instead of laughing--give a smile of acceptance.
Instead of running away--listen.
Look them in the eye.
Allow a connection.

I think sometimes we turn away 
because we 're afraid.
We often fear what we don't understand.
Let's realize how much healing there is in:

Prayer.
Touch.
A smile of friendship.
A listening ear.
Acceptance.

It's not so hard to do.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Matthew 5:7

Except from Butterflies, Biscuits, and Rain by Susan Aken

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Romantic Expectations

Romantic love is expected to provide:

passion
lust
obsession
satisfaction
perfection
absence of conflict
total acceptance (of me).

People often marry expecting those elements 
and if  they seem to be absent,
assuming love is absent
they leave.

Is that love?
These aspects of romance are there at times
but to expect them daily is not what love is about.

Love is:

commitment
work
giving
sharing
accepting
supporting
overcoming
communicating.

Love that is mature
and grows with time
gives greater joy and fulfillment
than lust and passion alone could ever imagine.

Passion which comes in the midst
of that kind of commitment
gives true satisfaction.

"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth--for your love is more delightful than wine." Song of Songs 1:1

Shared in celebration of our 38th anniversary today!

Excerpt from Butterflies, Biscuits, and Rain by Susan Aken

Image by Bingo Naranjo from Pixabay

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Feeling Exposed? How Christ’s Light Illuminates Our Deepest Places

Discouragement clouds my soul when unloving thoughts seem like the default in my heart. Jealousy rises up: often prompted by social media posts. When selfishness plagues me, pride is always waiting.

There are moments as a teacher when I’m shocked at my impatient or rude response to a student when I’m in a stressful situation. A friend gleefully shares on Facebook about their current victory, and sometimes my first reaction is envy or resentment and I choose not to give a “like.” An opportunity to serve or meet with other believers is open, but I want to keep my evenings free for television or comfort. Guilt over my weakness pulls me down.

I want to be the loving, kind, patient, giving woman Scripture teaches about but I often fail.

How liberating when I learned: Seeing the yuck in our lives, means we’re in God’s presence.

Jesus illuminates the dirt in our hearts so we can repent. Feeling remorse for our failings is good.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12, NIV).

Jesus has all power over evil and overcomes our wrongdoing. As long as we keep our eyes on Him, He will show us the way and reveal all that needs to be cleansed.

Evil seeks the shadows in order to hide wickedness (John 3:19). Those who stay there are blind and often numb to conviction.

Darkness can’t exist unless light leaves. We don’t turn on darkness; we turn off or from the light.

We have night because the earth moves away from the sun not because its illumination is swallowed. Light has all power over darkness.

Darkness hides. Light reveals.


C. S. Lewis, one of the most well-known Christian writers, wrote, “It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us: it is the very sign of His presence.” 

This truth encourages me. Instead of choosing discouragement, denial, or escape when conviction comes, I run to Jesus, yielding to the Holy Spirit as He fills and guides me. He always forgives. I rejoice that He reveals my sin rather than leaving me blind to my own faults. The one who can’t see where they’re wrong can’t repent. Change comes from awareness of our faults. 

We’ll never reach moral perfection on earth. Until the day we enter heaven, we’ll battle daily with our weaknesses. But we can learn to move forward by listening to God’s leading and following and obeying Him. When I’m convicted of behavior that grieves God, instead of rejecting myself, I submit to Him. I confess and agree with His truth, receive His forgiveness, and ask Him to help me yield to His Spirit. When I’m surrendered to Him, He produces His fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control through me (Galatians 5:22-23). 

Jesus, help me stay in the light. Thank You that I belong to You and You live in me. Thank You for revealing all in me needing to be cleaned up or restored. I want to live in Your truth by walking in repentance and grace. Help me yield to Your Spirit so You can produce good fruit in my life. When discouragement comes or I’m tempted to give up and hide from the truth, help me resist and accept Your unconditional love as I keep moving forward. I know You love me and nothing can ever take that away. 

What is God revealing about your life today?

Write a prayer of confession and give all your struggles to Him.

How can you yield to the Holy Spirit?

Published first at Wholly Loved.com

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Must Read New Book

Kristen Terrette is a gifted writer. I loved her new book, See You Monday. Her writing flows and kept me engaged throughout. See You Monday was written for young adults but is equally appealing to adults of all ages. The story revolves around high school senior, Grace, as she interviews her Mimi, Sandy, for a school project involving writing about someone’s life. 

Sandy grew up in the sixties and has experienced some historic and life-changing moments including a miracle or two. The story moves back and forth between what Grace is experiencing in high school and with her family and Sandy’s history growing up in the early sixties.

This captivating story addresses racism, bullying, hatred, and the bravery of those who challenge these evils. It gives a personal view of some life-changing moments in history such as President Kennedy’s assassination and desegregation. There are moments of laughter, tears, and drama. Terrette develops wonderful characters including Grace’s great-grandmother, Johnnie. Johnnie is a colorful and inspiring character and left me wanting to be more like her. 

The story shows how one moment or one choice can change everything. One choice can change lives or even change history. The book ends with a powerful punch which you will have to discover by reading. 

Please don’t miss this story! I highly recommend it to all. If you grew up in the sixties as I did you will love this look into the past. For young adults, it has a timely and vital message about seeing those around you and being brave enough to take a stand for what’s right. And the book also contains an element of romance.  More importantly, the main characters exemplify true faith in God and what it means to live for Him. There’s something for everyone.

I love this quote, “The life God gives us on earth is all about choices. What may seem like a small choice, of no significance or value to you, can be a choice of great magnitude in God’s kingdom.” – Kristen Terrette

I received a copy of this book for review but gave my honest opinion.

Purchase HERE


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Does Anyone Care?

Image by Zdravko Rajko from Pixabay
When I sit
When I rise
When I sleep
When I wake

You’re there

Every thought
Every word I speak
Every nuance of character
Every heart’s desire

You know

My heart
My soul
My mind
My body

Are held in Your hands
Surrounded by Your love

I can never be separated from You
Because You are everywhere
From the furthest reaches of space
To the lowest depths of the sea
You are there

You always see me
You always care

Psalm 139

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A Mother’s Cry

Image by Pexels from Pixabay




My innocent child.
My precious little one.
How I want to protect you
Keep you from harm
Hold you close in my arms.

There's so much evil in the world.
So many dangers for your soul.
How I wish I could keep your mind pure.
Hold back the knowledge of evil.

I see your child-like trust.
Your innocent views.
How I hate for you to know 
about the evil ways of mankind.
The hatred, destruction, perversion of all that's good.
If I could just protect you, keep the evil out,
guard your mind and soul.

But, the truth comes so clearly to me. 

It's too late.

The seed of sin is in your soul
not just in the world.

The seed of evil came with
you when you were born.
I cannot protect you from
what's already there.

Your only hope is redemption 
through the blood of Jesus Christ.
For you to believe 
on the name of our Lord and Savior.

All I can do is pray 
that God will call you
and you will respond,
point to Jesus as the truth,
live in the reality of Christ before you,
teach you the word of God each day.

I cannot protect you,
keep you pure,
stop you from knowing sin,
or make your choices.

Thank God I can
trust in One greater than me
who can guide you,
help you, call you and
redeem your soul.


Romans 3:22-24; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Philippians 1:6


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Soul Peace

Firelight
Snowfall
White-tipped trees
Flowing water
Warmth
Peace
Knowing
My Father knows me
Holds me
Loves me

What do I give Him?
My heart is His
He wants me
My love
My devotion 
My trust
I’m surrounded by grace
I live and walk in grace
His underserved favor is mine

Cling to Him my soul
Hold tight
Though He never lets go of you
Keep looking to Him
His love is greater
More powerful
More glorious
Than you can imagine
You are secure
You have everything you need
You are held close
Nothing can shake you or take you away
Rejoice in Him always!

I will praise Him!
I praise You Father!
I love You!
I rejoice in knowing You!
Every breath
Every moment
is a gift
You are the gift, Jesus!

Colorado trip 2021

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Why Do I Struggle to Be Kind to Myself?

“Be kind” is a message we hear everywhere we go and most of us agree a charitable spirit is important. But, offering kindness to others is a challenge if our own souls are withered from harsh words, unrealistic expectations, and self-rejection. If I believe I’m unworthy or call myself names heaping burdens of guilt on my heart, I often don’t notice the hurting person right in front of me much less give them encouragement. It’s like trying to draw water from an empty well.  Do we think about being merciful to our own souls first? Speaking to or treating ourselves in an abusive or severe manner does not honor God.

Scripture teaches us to love others as we love ourselves and part of loving is showing kindness (Mark 12:31). If you’re like me, giving yourself understanding and grace is a challenge. It’s confusing because I battle selfishness and tend to be self-protective but at the same time, I’m tough on myself. Scripture teaches us how to view self and others with truth and compassion.

Why do we resist giving ourselves grace?

Here are ten reasons you may be struggling to be kind to yourself:

1. You’re aiming for perfection.

Anyone who is familiar with Biblical standards knows we don’t measure up. I know I should be loving, considerate, and speak life. Yet, I’m often impatient, rude, or selfish. I get frustrated with myself and sometimes am overwhelmed with guilt. 

Perfect people don’t exist. Scripture tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Every person who has ever lived or will live except for Jesus Christ is a sinner by nature. We are incapable of living righteously on our own. It’s good to be aware of our wrongdoing. The person who deceives themselves into thinking they can do no wrong is blind and in danger of spiritual death (1 John 1:8).

The good news is because of Jesus Christ, forgiveness is available (John 3:16). Jesus knows we can’t reach perfection. He came to earth to live sinlessly and die in our place. He calls us to walk in repentance and faith trusting He has taken care of our sin. Our flaws can lead us to treat ourselves harshly and we may start to believe others are better than we are. Truthfully, we all struggle with the reality of our sin.

2. You fail to grasp the deep meaning of grace.

There is a continual debate in the Christian church concerning grace vs. legalism. Some mistakenly think believers in Jesus must keep all of God’s commands or He will be angry or reject them. Scripture teaches in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” 

We’re all going to make mistakes and fail every day, sometimes in a big way. We can’t be good enough to earn God’s favor. It’s a free gift that covers all of our shortcomings with grace. 

3. You have a distorted view of God.

Sometimes we mistreat ourselves because we’re convinced God is like a policeman or an angry Father who is watching and waiting for us to mess up. If God feels that way about us, why would we show ourselves mercy? 

Scripture teaches, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love...He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:8, 9-12

God lovingly calls us to repentance and relationship with Him. He longs for us to be close to Him and love Him with all our hearts. 


4. Certain sins cause you to stumble again and again.

Frustration fills me when the same weakness trips me up again. Something I thought I had victory over grabs hold of me once more. At that moment, I can start kicking myself hard and may call myself ugly names. I wouldn’t treat someone else so harshly, why do I do it to myself? 

What does God say to us about habitual sin? 

John, Jesus’s beloved disciple, wrote, ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God didn’t add conditions here. Our need for repentance is continual and God’s forgiveness is never ending. Scripture also teaches, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). 

We confess, accept God’s forgiveness, get back up, and keep following Jesus.

5. Voices from the past haunt you. 

The words of our parents or caregivers have a powerful influence over us. We don’t easily forget the messages given to us when we were growing up. Hopefully, we heard words of grace, encouragement, and love but for too many the memories are painful. Maybe you hear the voice of someone from your past yelling:

“You’ll never amount to anything.” 
“You’re stupid.” 
“You’re too loud—too quiet—too wild.” 
“You’re not good enough as an athlete or student.” 
“You’re not pretty enough.” 
“You’re too thin—too fat—too small.” 

These thoughts play over and over in our head and when we believe them, we act as if they’re true. We must replace these lies with truth. To do so, search the Bible to know what God says about you: 

You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
Nothing can separate you from His love (Romans 8:33-39).
He decided to adopt you before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-5).
You are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
You are God’s beloved child (1 John 3:1; Colossians 3:12a).

6. You’re comparing yourself to others.

We can always find someone who is smarter, stronger, more beautiful, or seemingly godlier than we are. Comparing ourselves to them is fruitless because each of us is a unique creation of God. He wants us to be our best self as we look to Jesus as our example. He created you the way He wanted, not to copy someone else. No one else can be exactly who you are. 

In his first letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul likened believers in Christ to a body. He wrote, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12). Each one is equally important.

7. Someone close to you is treating you unkindly.

Unfortunately, you may have a spouse, parent, child, or other person close to you who continually speaks in a harsh or mean way. They may call you names and tell you how worthless you are. Dear one, please don’t believe their lies. If possible, distance yourself from one who would continually speak destructive words. If you’re unable to avoid this person, counteract their lies with truth. Saturate your mind with Scripture. Bring your destructive thoughts to God and ask Him to show you what is valid. Talk to a trusted godly friend or counselor who can give encouragement. Focus on what God says about you.

8. You’re listening to the lies of the enemy.

Scripture teaches that our enemy, Satan, is the father of lies (John 8:44). He whispers to us and tempts us to doubt God’s love. He tells us we’re unworthy and hopeless, draws us into selfishness and pride, or leads us to self-hatred and destruction. Jesus set an example for us when Satan came to tempt Him. Each time the devil tempted Him, instead of arguing or trying to reason, Jesus responded with Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11). 

9. You’re being influenced by social media.

Anyone who spends an inordinate amount of time scrolling through social media may find themselves struggling with comparisons to others. Most people present a polished, public-ready view of themselves. The more we see how great everyone else appears to be or all the wonderful things they’re doing, the more we may contend with self-doubt and feel like we don’t measure up. 

Spending hours looking at screens leaves us feeling empty and “less than” while using our gifts to serve and love others fills us with joy. When we engage with others face to face and are actively involved with life, our feelings of self-worth and fulfillment grow. 

10. You need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Scripture teaches, “God is love” (1 John 4:8b). The greatest picture of His love was when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live and die for us making it possible for us to spend eternity with Him. When we truly grasp how God loves us believing Jesus died and rose again, we can love and forgive ourselves as He does. Without Jesus, we’re always looking for a way to escape the truth about our brokenness through addictions, busyness, entertainment, achievements, anger, or other actions but the only way we’re able to face the truth about ourselves and still feel peace is when we know we’re freed from our sin through Jesus (Romans 10:8-13). 

Showing kindness also means to do what is best for someone even when it hurts or is difficult. A doctor is showing kindness when he cuts out cancer even though it causes his patient pain. A parent shows kindness to her child when she takes away privileges in order to teach right living even though it causes temporary unhappiness. God shows kindness when He allows hard things in our lives which bring us to Him. In the same way, we show kindness to ourselves when we deny ourselves indulgences which damage us physically, mentally, or spiritually. We treat ourselves with the greatest love when we love God first above all and then seek to follow the truths and principles of Scripture. Being compassionate doesn’t mean always giving someone or ourselves what we want and indulging every whim. It means doing, or saying what is beneficial and gives life. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).


First published at iBelieve.com

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