the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
The heart as the source of emotion.
Have the courage of one’s convictions, to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially in spite of criticism.
Today I want to wave the white flag and say “I Surrender to the madness!”
Have you ever felt this way? Loving is hard.
Our city has one of the most violent neighborhoods in the nation. I led a women’s bible study there every Thursday in the community room for six months. In the end, no one showed up. I had to end it. I cried.
I discipled a woman who lived through rape, beatings, prostitution, homelessness, drugs, alcohol and having to give up 5 of her children to protective services. Our friendship grew over a year with the birth of her sixth child, moving her into an apartment, going to different appointments, studying the bible together and trying to work through life’s problems. She was doing well. We even drove around the city giving bag lunches to the homeless on the street. But her 35 years of hard living were catching up with her. It was hard for her to break away from old friends, old habits and old ways. I had to break our friendship off. It was hard. I cried.
This past Christmas, I coordinated donations from friends for gift bags for the women at the shelter. I was blown away by the generosity that came through the door. For many of these women this would be their only gift on Christmas Day. A large laundry bag was filled with a blanket, pajamas, socks, panties, shampoos and lotions, stationary and stamps, toiletry items, and lots of love. The bags were all tied up pretty and given to each woman on Christmas Eve. A month later, one of the girls jokingly made fun of her pajamas, saying she looked like a “grandma hooker”. That stung. I wanted to cry.
Some of the girls wanted to know how to find special verses in the bible for certain occasions. Well, 20 packets of index cards were donated and I didn’t quite know what to do with them. A sweet friend suggested I use the cards to make a bible verse flip book with the girls at the shelter. I spent hours gathering, cutting, and pulling together materials in ziplock bags. I spent a few more hours typing out bible verses to help get the books started. It didn’t go quite like I expected. Thinking about all the time I spent getting the project ready and the excitement I felt about doing it with them, to have it not go as planned, made me want to cry.
I have a friend whom I suspect of lying and cheating me and others. I’m hurt. I’ve cried.
Why? Why do I do this? Why do I open my heart, my time, my service? Why do I love the ones who are so hard to love? Why can’t I just love those few who are like me? It would be less painful. There’s no risk. I could stay to myself and just venture out when needed with those who have passed my litmus test, are the same, like me.
Why? Because God gave me a great big ol’ heart. It is sensitive to other people’s pain and needs. I want to help, fix and make things right. Yup, I get my feelings hurt. I’ve been taken advantage of. I’ve lost money on “loans”. I’ve jumped through a lot of hoops. That’s the risk I take and satan loves this! When things don’t really work out in my eyes, he jumps for joy thinking he has stopped the love of Jesus Christ. He’ll even try to convince me what a loser I am, that I’m not good enough, not a real Christian, just a wimp for giving up, hoping I won’t love again.
But, according to the definition above, I am none of what satan says I am.
In fact, I am Courageous! I’ve walked where many are afraid to go…in a homeless shelter and into a violent public housing complex to love and serve The Lord.
I am Courageous! The source of my pain is from my heart.
I am Courageous! In spite of being rejected, lied to, and told I shouldn’t do it, I have stuck with my belief that this is what God wants me to do.
I must remember, and I hope you remember too…that it isn’t that we do good deeds or volunteer lots of time or give loads of money…it is about loving fully for the Glory Of God. Whatever we do, God sees it and he sees our heart. So whether or not, it turns out the way we would like, really doesn’t matter…are we glorifying God when we do it? If yes, the rest doesn’t matter. We may never know what blessings our love will bring down the road for the person we took a risk for.
Do you have a soft heart? Then you have courage. To love is not a weakness.
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