Her Greatest Supporter or Her Most Dreaded Destroyer

Warning – this is not my typical post.  I’m angry, and you’re either going to love it or hate it.  The following letter is from a woman who has been deeply wounded.  You may know this woman – you might even be her, or maybe you are the woman who has attempted to destroy her.

 

“All through-out my adult life, I seem to have been disliked by a majority of women.  Some people have said that it’s just my perception, or that I’m overly sensitive.   I know that I am very sensitive, but I have spent plenty of time considering whether or not this is all in my head, but there is so much evidence that I have come to accept that there are way too many mean women out there.  I have noticed women examining me from head to toe, and their looks were not compliments.  Women rarely welcome me into their circle.  I’ve even had a woman back me into a chair as she shook her finger in my face and told me off, simply because I expressed an opinion that differed from hers.  I’ve been gossiped about and I know this because sometimes the gossip made its way back to me.  In my professional life, I’ve had a female boss build a false case against me which made my work life so miserable, that I eventually resigned.  A woman at church once took something that I said, twisted it, blew it out of proportion and proceeded to spread it around.  Once I discovered this, I asked her to set the record straight with those that she told but she never did so her husband and others continued to have a low opinion of me.  Thankfully, there are women in my life that have taken time to get to know me, love me and appreciate who I am.  I am so thankful for these women.  They are like a cool drink of water in the middle of an arid desert.  I am not a horrible person.  I am sensitive and I try to be kind.  I’m attractive but I’m not a beauty queen – I’m kind of the girl next door type.  I’m a wife and mother and I try to do my best at whatever I do.  I really wish that these hurtful women understood how much that they have hurt me and probably other innocent women.  I really just wish that they understood that their looks, judgements and behaviors really cause another human to feel despair.  These experiences that I have described have happened over my lifetime and at times I have believed that there was something wrong with me and that I’m not worthy of being accepted by women.  I am fighting my way back but unfortunately, after all that I have experienced, it only takes one more woman rejecting me and I spiral downward again.  Madeline, please shine a light on this hurtful behavior that goes on everywhere including in the church.”

 

This is a topic that I feel passionately about.  The behavior that this reader describes, I have witnessed, and the fact that this goes on in the Church is inexcusable.  This type of behavior is cruel and devastating, especially to a woman who has a tender heart.  The Bible says that your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. We are to love one another and the Bible defines love for us as patient and kind, not jealous, boastful, proud or rude.  It says that love does not demand its own way, is not irritable and it keeps no record of being wronged and that love is never glad about injustice but rejoices when the truth wins out.  As you can see, there is absolutely no room for us as women to be cruel to one another.

 

Another woman may be more attractive than you or more organized or a better cook.  Her children may be more successful than your children.  Maybe she is successful in an area that you had hoped you would be.  Maybe she even succeeds at everything that she puts her hand to.  She may be a little kooky or eccentric and difficult to relate to.  She may be introverted which might make her appear to be arrogant.  She may stumble verbally and unintentionally say something that is offensive.  No matter how she appears to you, I assure you that she probably doesn’t think that she has it all together.  She is just as insecure as you are and speaking of insecurities – many times a woman’s own low opinion of herself is to blame for her cruel behavior?  We tear others down in an attempt to build ourselves up.   Tearing down another woman reveals the true condition of your heart.  Did you know that every woman has wonderful attributes that are unique to her?  That includes you.  Don’t compare yourself to other women.  Comparing yourself is a trap that will enslave you in unhappiness and discontentment.

 

It is difficult to admit that we are guilty of treating another woman badly but before you pronounce yourself as innocent, please consider these questions carefully.  Have you ever eyed her attractiveness and felt jealous or threatened?  What did you do with that?  Have you ever manipulated a situation to make sure that another woman was excluded from your life or from your circle of friends?  Do you diligently search for the chinks in her armor?  Have you avoided her or had unkind thoughts or words because she said one thing that offended you?  Have you spoken about her in an untrue way to your husband?  Have you ever conspired with another woman against her?  If you have been guilty, it’s never too late to change.  We are not enemies and we are not in competition with each other.  Be her cheerleader and supporter.  Only a woman can truly relate to the struggles of another woman.  We can be sisters who cry with a hurting sister and rejoice with her when she rejoices.

 

Now, may I talk to the wounded woman?  The way that other women treat you, does not define who you are.  It does not declare your value.  You are defined and valued by your Creator and He purposely made you exactly the way that you are – uniquely beautiful inside and out and if you have trusted Jesus for the payment of your sins, He now calls you friend and beloved.  You are a daughter of the most-high King.  Remember, when a woman attempts to tear you down, it is her stuff.  It is not about you – it is about her and she is the one that loses credibility in the sight of others and above all, God knows the truth.  Seek out women who genuinely like other women – they are out there and make sure to be that woman to others.

 

From this day forward, reject the path of destroyer and choose the path of supporter.  Believe the best about her and get to know her heart.  You may just gain one of your best friends.

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The Cares of a Caregiver

It is one of the most challenging times in a person’s life.  They are the principal caregiver for a loved one.  It’s an exhausting, stressful, lonely and guilt ridden season.  I know a few caregivers and the overwhelming impression that I get from them is that they just want others to know what they go through.

 

Most people who are caregivers don’t even expect help – they simple need someone to listen to them – really listen – without trying to offer solutions.  They need compassion and empathy.  It is a monumental task that they have undertaken and they just want to be understood.  With the input of those in my life who caregive, I have compiled a list of the biggest areas of frustration.

 

>They worry about whether or not they are doing the right thing for their loved one.

>They worry that they are neglecting their spouse and children.

>They regularly feel overwhelmed by stress.

>They forget to take care of their own needs.

>If they have the help of skilled staff, the interruptions can cause even more chaos and disruption.

>They are trying to keep up with their own finances along with the complications of taking care of their loved one’s finances.

>They feel tied down and very lonely.

>For a caregiver who is dealing with a form of dementia in their loved one, being asked the same thing over and over is exhausting and can provoke frustration and anger.  Also, dementia is an evolving disease and requires the caregiver to be constantly learning new ways to handle their loved one’s challenges.

>They lose their patience and then feel guilty.

>They have really high expectations of themselves and often feel like they are failing their loved one.

 

If you are available to assist, make a sincere offer but caregiving is a lonely ministry and often they really just need someone to listen.  To all of the caregivers out there – I admire you – you are amazing and my hope is that you will one day hear the words “well done, good and faithful servant”.

 

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Complicated Friends

June, 2016 – I stood and watched as my friend walked down our long driveway and saddled up the U-Haul moving van.  This amazing friend walked into my life a few years ago, and even though I wasn’t looking for this friendship, he was exactly the friend that I needed.  His imprint on my life is a good one, and I am a better person today because of his influence.  My friend and his family drive away to start a new adventure.  They are relocating several states away.  A few months ago, we learned of their impending move and the mourning process began.  It has been a difficult journey.  There has been sadness, tears, denial and joy.  Shortly before the move was announced, my friend and I collaborated on the following post – a post that I could never quite bring myself to publish until now.  This post is dedicated to my friend and all of the others out there that truly give of themselves to be a friend to someone.

 

Earlier, 2016 – Are you ever absolutely amazed at how a certain friend became part of your life?  What happens if this blessing comes in the form of a member of the opposite sex?  Can a man and woman be friends?  Well, yes and no – it depends on the man and the woman.

 

To insure that this post is credible and accurate from both the male and female point of view, I have invited my dear friend to help us explore this topic.  You guessed it – my dear friend is a man.  I realize that many people strongly believe that men and women can never be friends.  I ask that you to read this post and consider the possibilities.

 

A little bit about us.  We are both married and have long marriages.  We are both in the same stage of life in practically all areas, although my friend is 8 years younger than me.  We are both committed to our spouses and children and we reside in the same town. So, does this spell d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r?  We are not naïve.  We are both aware that this friendship must be handled very carefully.

 

So, what do you think?  Do the friends have to find each other unattractive in order to make this work?  Can two people of the opposite sex who find each other attractive be friends?  I propose that physical attractiveness is not the only issue.  Even when one or both find the other physically unattractive, an affair can result.  When you mix the potion of male and female chemistry, attraction is about more than physical appearance.  This makes me think about that famous scene from When Harry Met Sally – Harry Burns:  Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.  Sally Albright: So, you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?  Harry Burns: No. You pretty much want to nail ’em too. The chemistry that exists in a male/female relationship aren’t completely about physical appearance.  It is possibly even more about emotional connection and vulnerability.

 

So where does this leave us?  Successful opposite sex friendships are a rarity but they are possible.  Both individuals must be completely committed to protecting the relationship and all of the others that are involved.  Friendship between a man and woman is probably the most complicated type of friendship but if done correctly, it can be a highly rewarding and enlightening experience with great depth.  My friendship with my male friend has brought many new perspectives into my life and it has helped me understand men on an entirely new level.  Why do we have friends?  They enrich our lives; and an opposite sex friend can enrich your life greatly.

 

Here is a list of practical ways that your male/female friendship and all involved can be protected.  This list was compiled by me and my friend as we sat and had coffee.

 

>Both individuals must be completely committed to doing the right thing no matter what.  You must be alert to your own feelings.  An emotional or physical affair is not an option.

>The spouses of each friend must be treated with respect and the marriages must always come first.

>Never make comparisons between your friend and your spouse.

>Tread very carefully when the subject of your husband or wife comes up.  Your spouse’s secrets should never be discussed.  Be aware that hashing through marital difficulties can stir up protective feelings that can lead to problems.

>As difficult as it is, each friend must have the freedom to “cry foul” and confront the other friend regarding any boundary that has been crossed or potential problems developing within the friendship.

 

I know that there are some readers out there that I have not convinced.  You might belong to one of two camps.  Either you think “no problem, I can be friends with them, have a little fun and play with some fire” or you say “men and women should never be friends – it’s always heading for an affair”.  If you are casual in your attitude about male/female relationships or you are not careful in selecting an opposite sex friend who possesses a high level of integrity, I would urge you to not have this type of friendship and of course, if you don’t believe that a proper male/female friendship is possible, you should not violate your conscience but please be careful to not judge others who have opposite sex friendships.

 

The bottom line – this type of friendship is not for everyone but if you are committed to correct opposite sex friending, you might get to experience a friendship that will bless you, your friend and every life that it touches.

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The Memory and Legacy of Your Father

This post is dedicated to those that grieve, because your Dad is no longer here to celebrate this day with you.  You would love to pick up the telephone and catch up with him, or go and sit beside him as he chills in his easy chair, but you cannot.  He is gone, and it is not by your choice, that you can no longer spend Father’s Day with your earthly father.

 

I understand the void that you feel.   35 years ago, my Father took his own life.  It was just 3 months to the day before my 18th birthday.  He was only 42 years old and there was so much life to be lived.  There was so much good to come, but he could not see that – his pain was too overwhelming to him.  I miss my Dad but there is something else that I miss as well.

 

Since his death, I miss what my Dad has missed out on.  He never met his son-in-law.  He has missed watching his grandchildren grow up – every milestone and accomplishment, and he never got to see the woman that I have become.  I could be sad, and sometimes I still grieve, but mostly I now choose to remember that he loved me and that he called me endearing names like “smiley” and he looked at me as though I was the best thing that he ever did with his life.  Now, I realize that even though my Dad was with me for only a short time, he gave me so much.  He taught me to feel deeply when I love and to think thoughtfully and God has not wasted my grief. The pain that so easily could have become bitterness has become compassion that has evolved into a deep longing to have others see the light of Christ in me – to glorify Him.

 

If you are missing your Father today, and wishing that he was here, try to remember that there is an abundance of the fatherless.  If you have been blessed to have a father invest into your life, even if it was for a shorter time than you would have chosen, take that and use it to bless another life.  You can continue your Dad’s legacy by pouring into someone else.  Giving of ourselves takes our focus off of our own pain for a time and this will be deeply therapeutic for you and you will impact another life positively.

 

You can probably imagine that this was an extremely difficult post to write.  I have bared my heart to you and my deepest hope is that somehow, in some way, someone will be helped.  I want this to be a Happy Father’s Day for you.  May you have many pleasant memories of your Dad this weekend, and every single day, and may your joy spill out onto others!

 

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Double Standards and Dangerous Waters

Becoming a young woman in the 1970’s, I believed that it was completely normal to be whistled at or cat-called as I walked to school.  I never viewed it as an insult but I didn’t enjoy it either – it was just an unfortunate fact of life.  However, most women were angered by this “appreciation” of female beauty.  It was after all, an attempt to objectify a woman.  Today, many women now crudely express their attraction to the male form.  I hear young women and even older women talking about men as if they were objects or making suggestions of sexual escapades with them.  They use labels such as man candy or phrases like “he can put his boots under my bed anytime”.  Ironically, many women view attention from men as repulsive – something to strive against.  Remember the meme floating across Facebook, advertising hairy stockings for women or how about the woman that added a third breast to repel men?  We have become a hyper-sexualized society.

 

This really boils down to the issue of respecting another human being.  Yes, we notice when another person is attractive because most of us are blessed with eyesight.  No, it is not wrong to pay a compliment to a person of the opposite sex, when done in a polite and respectful way and taking care to not hurt your significant other.  A polite compliment might be “you look very nice today” or even “you look beautiful” or “you look very handsome” or “an attractive woman like yourself …”.  You get the idea – just think pre-sexual harassment lawsuit era.

 

Now, if your significant other seems to be threatened by the fact that you have eyes that see, you definitely are in dangerous waters and need to be careful but I do believe that there is a balance.  It should be acceptable to say “she is an attractive, intelligent and sweet woman” but definitely not a good idea to say “wow, that woman is hot” and the same idea applies to a woman speaking of a man.  I have noticed that men can feel shamed into keeping their opinion within their mind.  When a man admires another woman for her appearance, character and/or demeanor and is forced to keep it hidden from his wife or fiancée, this is a breeding ground for trouble and can become an area of struggle for him.  I would much rather have my husband discuss these thoughts with me and as long as I react in a healthy non-threatened manner, he will feel safe in doing so.

 

If you are the person that feels threatened because your significant other notices a well-put-together person of the opposite sex, you must determine what your fears are based on.  Does your significant other have a habit of wandering or do you have your own insecurities?  Often our insecurities are our own responsibility and determining the root will help you to deal with them and have a more balanced approach to life.  It is vital that you realize that their admiration and feelings for another human being is not automatically a threat to you.   They chose you and if they have assured you of their commitment to you, don’t suffocate them or force them to hide their feelings and do not be the iceberg in the dangerous waters.

 

Men, you might be wondering, how is it possible that a man can think highly of another woman and actually express this thought out loud?  Well, since I don’t know your woman, I can only give you some general rules.  Don’t be too obvious about looking at another woman.  I realize that men were created to notice female beauty but sometimes men are just not very good at being discreet.  Don’t tell your lady that you wish that she would dress like that or look like that.  If you praise another woman on her cooking, mothering, housekeeping and/or appearance, never word it in a way that it appears to be a comparison.  On a slightly different note, I’ve heard men express that they are afraid to compliment a woman.  They worry that women don’t take these sentiments the way that they are intended.  They fear that she will accuse him of being strange or having ill motives.  A normal mentally healthy woman will not read too much into the kind words and she will be flattered.  You may even make her day or better yet, her week.  So assess the situation and be a gentleman and compliment a lady.

 

If you’ve done a really good job at making your significant other feel secure and you remark positively about another person of the opposite sex, you’ll probably be alright.  If you find them getting upset, you need to get back to work.  Let’s bring back the art of the genteel compliment.

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Faithful in the Little Things – Commitment, Loyalty and Contentment

We throw it away too easily.  I’m not talking about stuff.  I’m talking about people and relationships – things with eternal value.  Our marriage is difficult, so we divorce and go spouse shopping.  Our job is no longer fulfilling, so we get a new one.  Parenting is unrewarding, so we ignore our children and pour ourselves into other people or things.  Church leadership and the people aren’t perfect, so we go and find a new one or even give up on church completely.  If a valuable friend disappoints, we just throw away the relationship and look for new friends.

 

People aren’t always loving and pleasant.  Circumstances can be crushing.  You may live with a spouse that isn’t loving or supportive.  You may even feel that you have fallen out of love with them.   You may have a young person in your home that continually rebels and causes chaos and heartache.  Your job may be going nowhere or you might work under persecution.  Your friend might betray or reject you. Life is full of turmoil and much of the consequences are outside of our control.  So what then?

 

We must live for something that is bigger than ourselves.  We must stop living as though our ease and comfort are the gods that we serve.  We must serve the living God by spreading the Gospel.  I’m not necessarily telling you to start handing out Christian Gospel tracks wherever you go – although you certainly can.  I’m telling you to also spread grace and mercy generously around your sphere of influence.  Stop spending your energy on focusing on the wrong that is being done to you or the whims of your heart and start using that energy on doing the right thing. Serve that spouse that has been hurtful to you – don’t do it because they deserve it – do it because you are serving the living God.  Go to that difficult job and look for ways to be kind to others and be the best employee that you can be.  Challenge your young rebellious person and lovingly hold them accountable.  Forgive your friend and move on with them if possible and be the best friend that you can be to others too.

 

With these writings, I am assuming that I’m talking to an audience that has put their trust in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.  If you have not, you must start there.  Living for any other ultimate purpose is futile.  The Bible says that we have all sinned and that the required payment for sin is death (eternal separation from God).  You can have abundant life, joy, freedom, hope and victory from the sting of death.  Put your trust in Jesus’ completed work on the cross and His powerful resurrection.  He has already paid for your sins – reach out and accept His gift to you – His gift of sacrificial love.

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Do You Own the Device or Does that Device Own You?

I’ll admit it – I fought the electronic device, social media thing for a long time.  I finally gave in a couple of years ago and I have to say that I find that it can be a lot of fun.  It connects you to people that you wouldn’t be able to connect with outside of social media.  The problem is, it can disconnect you from the people who are actually present in your life.

 

Do you find yourself glued to it or constantly checking for notifications?  Do you ever ignore people that are in the room or at the table with you while you look at your device?  Do you find that you have lost hours in your day and can’t understand why you are no longer getting as much done as you used to?  It happens to all of us.  I periodically fast from social media and have found it to be even more challenging than a food fast.  I’m in a love affair with my Samsung 6.  My entire “life” can be held in my back pocket and controlled with one fingertip but …

 

Devices and social media relationships will never fill your life with quality in the same way that a real and present breathing person can.  That person sitting with you and the conversation between the two of you, builds you up and makes you a better and more interesting human being.  That person has taken time to be with you and may feel hurt when your eyes leave them while you check the screen.  That real person may never tell you that it makes them feel unimportant when you pick up your device every time you hear a buzz, click or bell and check for notifications.  I’m not preaching that you should never do social media when another person is present but discuss it with them and understand and be respectful of their expectations of your time together.  In our household, we have times where we put the devices down and give all of our attention to each other and we have other times where we sit in the same room and scroll even sharing the humor or information that we come across on the screen.

 

I challenge myself and I am challenging you to leave your device in your purse or pocket or face down on the table on silent mode.  Be fully with the person who takes the time out of their life to be fully with you.

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No Shame

Too many boys and girls are the victim of abuse. Abuse can come in many forms such as emotional or physical but many are sexually abused. I would like to emphasize that sexual abuse does not always…

Source: No Shame