I've never been completely sure what is hiding in her eyes, but I can tell you what it isn't. Trust isn't there. It isn't in her. It wants to be, but trust is a tricky thing.
From the day that I brought her home, nearly 3 years ago, I've been learning about trust and respect. It has taken a horse to show me even more clearly how boundaries are necessary with people. Every move that she has made with me has taught me something about myself. See, her past is tricky because there is evidence of abuse. Someone used fear tactics and pain to try to make her perform. I applaud Halle for defending and protecting herself in those times and for not becoming the showpiece that someone wanted. I applaud any human being today for defending and protecting themselves in their decisions to not be the showpiece someone expects.
Trust cannot be forced. No matter how much someone desires and tries to convince me that they will never discard or betray me - whether or not I trust is up to me. It's my choice, ultimately. You cannot make me trust you. We can exhibit trustworthy behavior until we are blue in the face, but the decision to trust or not trust rests solely in the heart of the person being asked to.
Lack of trust might be irrational. If someone never betrays you, year after year, and you continue to withhold trust, most likely there is an old wound inflicted by someone else being used and held against the wrong person. As broken humans, we can have a tendency to carefully fold up those wounds, pack them neatly into our baggage and carry it right along to the next relationship - unpack it and neatly tuck it into its new space, every ready at the fingertips.
I believe this ..... love drives every decision and trust determines its course. Love and trust or the lack thereof. We go nowhere without these.
I posted a photo of myself and Halle on Instagram a few weeks ago that said this.. "She has been one of my greatest life lessons: trust takes time and it must be earned - and our faithfulness is evident in consistency. If she can't trust me tomorrow - there's no good reason for her to trust me today."
I had thought that we were turning a corner. Halle had returned from trail training where she had improved by leaps and bounds. I went there and rode her myself under the supervision of her trainer. But once we were home, her dangerous behaviors made a gnarly appearance. Gnarly. For several days I tried to find balance with her but she wasn't having it. Maybe she prefers her trainer over me. Maybe she preferred the safety and security of the trails that had become so familiar. All I really know for sure is that after the 3rd time that Halle endangered me, something shifted in both of us ~ and as if two humans had sat across from one another at a divorce table and spoke to say "I don't trust you" and "Yeah, well I don't trust you either" ~ just like that, it was over. I looked at my husband, walked away from Halle and said "I can never ride her again" and then I sobbed for 30 straight minutes.
I'd had to tell Halle that I don't trust her either. If I can't trust her tomorrow, there is no good reason for me to trust her today. It shattered me. Trust is two ways.
Our new relationship based on defenses has been devastating. I feed her twice a day, pet her and tell her I love her but this doesn't comfort her at all. She still jumps and spooks - afraid I am going to hurt her because she knows that she hurt me. She expects me to retaliate. She's carrying old wounds and sincerely, I don't blame her.
I still carry around some old wounds too. A few weeks ago I ran into an old friend of mine. She was my favorite friend for 17 years and then she broke me. It literally took 5 years for me to get over the pain. Seeing her brought up possibly the most bizarre emotion I have ever felt. As if 15 years hadn't slipped away - everything was the same. Eerily the same. From her squealing my name, hugging me tight, holding my hand..... she was so very right there in the flesh messing me up. How could she hold my hand like that? How could she be her, with me? It was so wonderful and so devastating because it only lasted for a few minutes. It was suggested that we get together - but I can't. Because I can't trust her tomorrow. I have grieved all over again.
So Halle. Halle-Looyah .... I believe the best thing for her is a sanctuary where she can be with a herd and just be a horse. A horse that no-one no one rides, who doesn't force her outside of her comfort zone. Another friend of mine who rescues horses is welcoming Halle into her family next week. All they do is love and rescue, love and rescue, love and rescue - with nothing expected in return. They already know and love Halle and Halle already knows part of their herd. It's a sanctuary and that is what Halle deserves.
Almost 3 years ago, I rescued Halle, and next Monday I will rescue her one more time. It's one of the hardest things I've ever done - and just when I think I'm out of tears, more come. Sometimes the right thing is the hardest thing.
This is the burning question I suppose. Do you allow your heart to be burdened with delivering the love of Christ into the world? I believe that Christ has asked for that to be our burden and for us to carry it willingly and intentionally. Well, do you?
When In Romans
Often in our culture when someone dies, a family member or close companion will make a statement about carrying out the late person’s legacy. Or we often hear the saying, “his legacy will live on”. I think of people who have left a tangible legacy, such as fighting to find a cure for a disease. Jerry Lewis, the renowned actor and comedian, year after year continues to raise awareness and raise money for finding a cure and treatments for Muscular Dystrophy. When Jerry is no longer with us, he will long be remembered for and associated with this great cause. Working tirelessly with firm conviction and an unwavering commitment to conquer the disease will long be something he is remembered for; a significant piece of his legacy, and most likely someone else will lovingly continue to carry that on. I site Mr. Lewis as a general example just to point out that he is someone absolutely creating a legacy that will be carried out for a long time, if not forever. In this example he is one advocate and one voice for one very specific cause. MD is just one of thousands of diseases and despite how very well publicized it is, MD is considered to be a very rare disease. In other words it doesn’t impact a large number of people. According to 2012 data from RightDiagnosis.com, MD is only diagnosed in 1 out of every 544,000 people. So a very rare disease has a very massive awareness because of a legacy that one man is building and the momentum he has started will continue long after he has gone. If a cure is ever found, it will save the lives of 1 out of every 544,000 people.
Now, let us look at the life of Jesus again. He spent His entire ministry loving others and teaching others how to love others. Then in the ultimate act of love, He died for us and in doing so He made a way for our transgressions to be covered by His love. He taught, modeled and commanded that we love others … and the measure by which evidence is determined to satisfy that we walk in Him or we don’t, is whether or not we obey this command. His legacy is love, and this love has the power to impact every single one of us because each of us has been infected with the not so rare condition of sin. Every one of us should hope to die with love being our legacy, the thing that people most remember us for. We should be able to leave a trail of love because God has made it possible for us to have access to an abundance of it. Romans 5:5 reminds us
“... because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” If this is true of us, and God says it is, then we have no excuse.
Romans 12:9-21 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written “It is mine to avenge; I will repay” says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
This incredibly detailed description of love is not just an instruction; it works well as a “how to”. And this is how we can reshape our understanding of what love is and how to accomplish it for the glory of Christ. I can accomplish love when I keep my spiritual fervor. You can accomplish love when you practice hospitality. We accomplish love when we refuse to retaliate against persecution. And one of my very favorites, we accomplish the command to love when we share with people who are in need. Oh that this should be our legacy indeed.
Love, for the Day is Near
Romans 13:8-10 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is fulfillment of the law.” Let love rule!
A couple of things really strike me as interesting in this scripture segment. First, did the apostle Paul really say “and whatever other commandment there may be” as if he didn’t know all ten of them? It feels to me like he may have been rattling things off rapidly in such a way as to indicate something like this (my words) “Hey, I could give you a gigantic list of what not to do to uphold the law.... don’t do this, don’t do that and the other, but it all basically just comes down to this one thing: Love. If you’ll just love the way that Jesus taught us to, you don’t have to worry about that big long list of what not to do”. Paul taught 2,000 years ago something that many Christians continue to this very day to get backwards. To honor God, we don’t need a list of behaviors to avoid; we just need to follow the instruction to love. To hell with lists! (Hint: say that out loud. It feels so good.) Put a little love in your pocket and never leave home without it, because in debt to love one another, we always owe someone at least a morsel and we should never be caught empty-handed without some love to spare.
Love fulfills the law. According to these words, love makes everything right. Love rights wrongs. As we have seen woven through the pages of God’s word, love covers a multitude of sins. Love blinds God with its glaring beauty! Yes, people … let us hurt His eyes and make Him weep for joy. Let us bless Him so greatly with the love he has poured into us that He would snatch us up, seat us facing Him in His lap and drench our faces with His glorious kisses. And let’s heal the world of darkness and evil while we’re at it.
Oh Father, burden me with love for the lost. Weigh me down with ointment, salve and your miracle cure for the wounded. Give strength to the legs, backs and hearts that carry heavy loads of love to those who are depleted. Strengthen us to bandage the wounds that threaten to bleed out. And Lord, etch the description of Romans love in our hearts. Lead us with water to quench the thirst of our enemies, open our doors to the downtrodden, steer us from revenge and cover us with Your love that endures forever. Yes, Jesus. Amen.
There are many times that I have deserved to be reprimanded by Jesus that he hasn’t. He just isn’t a punisher although I hardly stop to reflect on just how generous He is with grace that overflows, His love miracle. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” And to top it off, He has loved us in such a way that His love has covered our sins, completely hidden from His view. Romans 4:7-8 “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” The thing that floors me the most about Jesus is that He had the power to bring calamity upon anyone. He could have extinguished any soul from existence. But instead of causing what people really deserved, He holds out for redemption. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him as much as He knew that Peter would deny Him. In neither case did Jesus try to stop them nor did He punish them after the fact. He simply continued to love. Sometimes love is carried out by withholding the reprimands that we deserve. Peter looked Jesus in the eyes and swore he would not ever deny him and then while Jesus faced a brutal public lashing and crucifixion, Peter (also known as Simon Peter) denied Jesus three times. Jesus had not only known with certainty that this would happen, he announced in advance that it would. Then this Lord, the beholder of miracle love, loved Simon Peter so much that just after Jesus was resurrected from the grave, He appeared to him first. The Bible is not specific about their encounter but by the way that Peter carried out the remainder of his life in ministry, Jesus must have loved him boldly in those private and likely difficult moments.
What if we were to adopt this model instead of aiming to give people what they deserve, whether it is our stubborn children, the friend who stabs us in the back, or the co-worker who never commits her fair share to the workload? What if our bold, Christ-like love could motivate people into a life that blesses others? What if we were to sew so much love that a harvest of bountiful beauty would completely shield a world of transgressions from His sight? That He would pick you because you loved so well and that He would pick the one right next to you because your love covered the multitude of her sins too. I’m telling you, this miracle of love… it is the key to all things. It is the key to joy and comfort. It is the key to the eradication of fear. Love is the key to curing hopelessness and it is the key to preventing evil from raging like wild fires.
No wonder Jesus revised all of the commandments down to two: Love God and love others. And no wonder we are challenged to see that if we love Jesus we ought to walk as He walked, and that the evidence of our allegiance can be seen in our travels, whether we walk in love or whether we walk without leaving any trace of it at all.
What if loving others more without grumbling would in fact help to keep their sins covered... covered in grace and redemption? And what if that very same love covered us as well? A covering of blankets keeps us warm. Tent covers keep us shielded. Some covers keep us hidden. What if Jesus is saying that the more we love, the more our sin is hidden from His view? Love, the miracle cure! Sweet Jesus.
There is a beautiful example of the vast coverage of love in the book of Acts, regarding the disciple, Stephen. Stephen was said to be a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. In the early days of the Christian church, Stephen was added as a disciple and he spread the message of Jesus. Eventually he was seized by those who were against his message. In Acts 7, verses 59 & 60, I notice something powerful and inspiring. Look with me at what happened while Stephen was being stoned to death. To death, people. “While they were stoning him Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.”
Am I in such a posture with Jesus that I would be able to show love, forgive, and ask God to cover the sins of others in the midst of my stoning? Are you? Maybe we begin now by offering our enemies and our desires to retaliate against them to Jesus, and ask Him not to hold their sins against them. Oh, what love would cover!
We live in a society that seems to strive to uncover every sin so that it might visibly rise to the surface. We have learned to search for it, point fingers at it, talk about it in private and scream about it in public. We employ magnifying glasses, phone records, fingerprints, paper trails and then the never-ending tactic of he said/she said. Every sin gets dug up and dissected for the whole world to see and in the process toxins leak out, spilling into the depths and crevices of souls and hearts and minds until finally we are all toxic. But Jesus inspired a verse about love covering sin. Today He might look into your eyes and say something like “If you will practice love above all else, I’ll hardly be able to see your bad side because I will be so blinded by the miracles you perform with your heart.”
I had been disheveled, unfocused and barely attentive. In my inward chaos I rear-ended Jesus and then He healed me with His miraculous love. Today I am able to say that I love so much more often than I sin. I think it’s fair to believe that He is recording the love left behind from my fingerprints and yours while wiping away the incriminating evidence of our sins. Oh yes, Lord!
I decided to explore this theory with one of my children. My middle son sometimes chooses to live by his own set of rules and man he can be a hot mess. I’m just like any other mom who wants their children to behave well and offer only good things to our society. Often I’m quick to excavate to the root and expose the weed and then yank it out as fast as possible, which is a challenging when he is being stubborn. When he was 7 years old, my beautiful boy ignored a rule and did his own thing. I had to very consciously do this but I made the decision not to expose it but to cover it instead. He knew he had stepped way outside of the boundaries and he anticipated the typical ramifications but I rear-ended him with a huge heaping helping of love instead. I grabbed him to place him on my lap facing me and I kissed his entire face no less than 20 times. What followed surprised even me. I burst into laughter and soon so did he. Then I made hefty deposits into his heart by telling him all of the things I adore about him and all the ways that he is unique and wonderful. I did acknowledge that he had not followed instructions but told him I knew that he would begin making better decisions because he would see the value in obedience. He was so uplifted and overjoyed, not because he had escaped a negative consequence but because he was basking in the love that I was pouring on him. I’m not saying that this one calculated exercise cured us both of each and every sin we have ever thought about committing but I know it covered us both that day. Love ~ it heals. Love ~ it changes us as recipients and as givers. Love ~ it covers a multitude of sins. Love, when expressed in the name of our sweet Savior ~ is a grace filled miracle.
LET LOVE COVER
the miracle of love
It wasn’t a fast pace by any calculation but rather uneventful and boring. There were not any perceived dangers but my mind was still twisted and contorted by the events of the prior day and somehow I just slammed into his rear bumper. It seems impossible that I could have been so aloof. His car was pretty and expensive and it looked very new so certainly he would ask me where in the hell my brain had been and he would have had every right to be disgruntled by my senseless lack of attention and the untimely disruption during his morning commute. He got out of his car as I fearfully anticipated some nasty remark about women drivers, but instead he looked at his bumper and then asked me if I was okay. I let him know how sorry I was and then the unthinkable happened. This tall, very physically fit and beautifully dressed black man looked at me and said “I’m just glad you are okay. Don’t worry about my bumper”. He got in his car and drove away. Maybe it didn’t occur to him in that moment that he loved me, but he did, and I felt it. He loved me by not getting angry and by not placing the appearance of his car over the condition of another human person. He loved me by letting his tender heart cover a multitude of wrongs that day. And he didn’t just love … he loved deeply, allowing the love in his heart to interrupt a collision.
The day before had been September 11, 2001, the day that evil overwhelmed and succeeded in shaking and rattling America as we knew it. I believe in the moment that I plowed into the back of his shiny car, that sweet man realized that there was something bigger than he or I causing commotion in the world. He knew I had been shaken too. He knew that shiny metal and fancy chrome emblems had little value in comparison to the value of the love our world so desperately needed. In that moment he gave me what the whole planet craves; grace, a do-over, forgiveness and a hope for redemption. In every way, he interrupted the standard. The day before 9/11, he might have been angry and responded very differently to me, but on the day after he had an entirely different perspective; a perspective we all need from time to time. Love is a miracle just waiting to happen and who doesn’t need a miracle? Jesus has this perspective of us and we need to know it. He loves us just as much the day after our collisions as he did the day before. He knows what is going to hit us even when we don’t see it coming and He is prepared for every crash and burn.
“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:7-9. Wow. Love covers a multitude of sins! Do you know what I think might be going on here? If we are supposed to love deeply and not grumble because love alone can conquer sin, then I just bet we are exposing a multitude of sins every time we get upset or angry. If love covers then anything less must reveal, or worse, expose a multitude of sins. Just maybe that is the miracle of love.
~ The Purpose of Pain ~
Even though God empowers us to combat our pain and the pain of others in the world, He desires for us to see its purpose. For you and I to leave a legacy of love with Christ’s name written all over it we will need to embrace our past, present and future pains. You see, God has plans for us to carry His light into our places of darkness if for no other reason than to help someone who is lost to find their way out and into His saving grace. He alone makes it possible for us to find and hold onto joy, peace, comfort and hope amidst any trial we might endure. It is also there that He is best able to prove His love for us. Our pains are not meaningless. When revered as pivotal moments in your relationship with Jesus, pain is often the catalyst that drives impactful change, change that may be behavioral or relational.
None of us want pain. Isn’t it the last thing we ever want for ourselves and for our loved ones? Sure it is and I am no different in desiring detours that would steer me clear of every possible painful catastrophe. Though I can confess that when I look back on every deeply painful trial I have walked through, I emerged stronger, more compassionate, less arrogant, more humbled, less prideful and more thankful. So, if I can see that it is true for me that pain has produced refinement and an improved quality in my heart then I believe it is also true for you. For this reason my prayer is that we could all see and appreciate that God has a purpose in pain and that it is ultimately to be used to honor and glorify Him.
The book of Isaiah has something interesting to share about how God works in the darknesses we will experience in life. What if the darkness is where treasures are hidden?
Isaiah 45:3 (NIV)
“I will give you the treasures of darkness,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the LORD,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”
In her book, “Choose Joy”, author Kay Warren said this about darkness, “The immediate challenge for me was to believe that treasures in the darkness actually exist and then to believe I could find them. And yes, I had to accept and embrace the truth that these treasures are a special category of gifts from God, hidden riches ONLY to be found in the secret places of my deepest pain and agony.”
When we can truly begin to embrace that God is at work in every situation of our lives, even the most painful, I believe we can find strength to hunt for the gold. Those nuggets are precisely what helps us to look back on the hardest parts of our lives and exclaim confidently, “I would do it all again” because we realize that without the pain we might not have ever uncovered the treasure.
In Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV) we can see that God also uses circumstances with unpredictable outcomes to reveal His greatness. “Call to me. I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Jeremiah was in confinement when God gave him that instruction. There are very great things, insights, wisdom and mysteries - things we cannot search for answers to on our own - that God will reveal to us, and it is possible that some sort of painful confinement is exactly what we need to motivate us to call out to Him.
Finally, throughout the Psalms we witness over and over that David’s sorrow turns into rejoicing and his pains become songs of praise. God referred to David as a man after His own heart, the source of the greatest love of all. David was barely able to avoid pain for a moment but yet his life was used to help accomplish extraordinary fame for Jesus.
You and I would be hard pressed to find a person in the Bible who didn’t endure deep pain. Every apostle and disciple, prophet and leader walked through something they would have rather given up an arm than to go through and yet all of our Biblical heroes died leaving the legacy of the love of Christ. God desires the same for us, to expose beautiful treasures in the depths of our darkest pain.
May be we blessed to know that every pain we endure has a purpose and if we let it, in hope, our pain will lead to the kind of love that Jesus has made famous.
Love is risky, I know. And it hurts so much at times, I hear you. But the greatest sacrifice yields the deepest rewards. When it comes to love, God will always return to us what we give away for His sake.
(Prayer) Jesus, you have loved like a wild man, crazy with a passion and desire to see the massive collection of us redeemed and restored to you. Lord, empower us with more than a gentle or timid willingness to love a little. Empower us with hope that never doubts, energy that never fades, courage that never fears and joy that cannot be contained. Lead us in love that conquers evil. Amen.
I lack the proper wisdom to offer you a self-help book in this arena, so instead, here is my best attempt at a self-help paragraph. Roots of bitterness, hatred and unforgiveness will strangle the best and most beautifully potential parts of us if not weeded out. Be honest with God about your feelings, your old or fresh unhealed wounds. You can pray for healing and restoration. I also recommend asking God to ...
Yes there is pain in love. Love is a sacrifice and in many ways a risk because we are asked to give away the most precious thing. We may have to give up comfort and risk emotional safety and we may even open ourselves up to more pain - but our sacrifices bring rewards.
LET LOVE SACRIFICE
the pain of love
I’ve known a bit about the pain of love, even knowing what it feels like to want to withdraw it all, strap it to an anchor and leave it on the ocean floor where the sharks might chew it bit by chunky bit. I’ve thrown in the towel a few times. Some of my deepest wounds have been betrayals by very close friends and loved ones. Many people do not take love, honor and loyalty seriously, leaving the rest of us feeling foolish. Our fear regarding love has everything to do with the reality that it might not be returned or that it might not last forever. I have been hurt by a couple of close friends in my lifetime which led me to a very personal pledge that I would never allow myself to have a “best” friend again. It felt much safer to me to just categorize everyone as a “friend” and maintain my deeper feelings as private without ever revealing my softest side. Tina Turner evidently understood this. She sang “What’s Love Got To Do With It” like she deeply meant it. The rest of the world could relate, apparently, because it was her biggest success ever in a career that has spanned 4 decades. Rolling Stone magazine even named it one of the top 500 best songs of all time. The lyrics were simple: “What’s love got to do with it? What’s love but a second hand emotion? What’s love got to do with it? Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?” We are so affected by love that we either run full-speed toward it or full-speed away.