Friday, September 21, 2018

Loving Like Jesus

When we brought my daughter home from ER on the night she broke her arm, my husband voiced the question I was thinking. "Who should we tell?"

I thought about our options. Call my parents. Send a What's App message to all my siblings. Group text everyone at church.

"I don't feel like telling anyone," said Ed. "It feels like begging for pity."

"I know. But we won't be able to hide her cast, so everyone will know eventually."

"If we announce it now, at least we'll get prayer."

So we did. We typed a few words on Ed's phone, and we had a rush of encouraging messages and, hopefully, prayers.

Since then I've been thinking of the times we are reluctant to ask for prayer. In this case I knew that our friends wanted to support us, even if sometimes in the last year our family felt like the prayer request that won't go away.

But I know from talking to others that there are some needs that are rarely if ever shared as a prayer request.

Cancer may be an easy prayer request.

There is a firm diagnosis; no doubt that a real malady exists.

Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way. No one says, "Oh, that isn't so bad." Or "It is just in your head." Or "If you would just..."

There is no shame, because, in most cases, a cancer diagnosis is beyond your control.

But what about relationship difficulties, emotional struggles, marital conflict, in-law problems, or financial challenges? How about abuse, wayward teens, emotional breakdowns, unfaithful spouse, infertility, or church splits?

In my experience, there is so much pain that we don't talk about in our  prayer meetings. I've sat at prayer meeting feeling like we were avoiding the elephant in the room. It is easy to ask for prayer for my sick neighbor. Much harder to ask for prayer for myself for my own areas of temptation.

I know there are many good reasons, such as not hurting others, that we don't ask for prayer for the things that are heaviest on our heart. But what if we started with ourselves and asked for prayer for the areas that we have personal need? What if I asked for prayer that I'd be more consistent in my Bible reading? Or was a more patient mother? What if I admitted that I was struggling to forgive?

What if our churches were a safe place to ask for prayer for the hardest things? Not just cancer and broken arms but for broken relationships and sick hearts? What if we knew we'd never be gossiped about or had our story repeated? What if we knew that we'd not be analyzed or criticized but be carried before the throne of God?

What if the Church loved hurting people like Jesus did?

Just a few thoughts on my mind the last weeks, partly because some of you have blessed me by sharing your hearts with me and asking for prayer. 


  1. Wow, I appreciate this post. I was challenged at prayer meeting this week. A request was given in our small group. I admired the courage. I need to be more like that young lady. Do I open those inner needs, in honesty, the things that are every bit as important as cancer.

    May grace and peace be your portion each day, each moment.

  2. Amen! And may God give each of us the courage.

  3. Oh Gina! You say what is on our hearts. You are not alone. We are not alone. But so often, we feel like it because we dont talk about what is on our hearts. Thank you for saying it, writing it, sharing it. I needed this.

    Praying for you and your family from Missouri. ❤

  4. These are thoughts some of my friends and I or my husband and I talk about. This is good. Am I sharing? Am I a safe place for others to be vulnerable? Sarah

  5. Thanks for this, Gina. This has been on my mind recently. I think our churches would be so much closer and healthier if we didn't feel the need to always appear to have it all together. Prayers for you and your family! Charity

  6. Your post says, "What if the Church loved hurting people. ..." The first time I read that, I took it in a different way than what I know you meant. Unfortunately, some in the Church really do love hurting others. Sometimes I wonder, though, if I too easily give them permission to hurt me. I mean, why should we hold back just because others might gossip or feel superior? I like the way you think, Gina. I believe we should feel free to share personal prayer requests if we feel led to, though it's also okay to hand pick those we ask to pray for us if we wish. :-)

  7. I agree. I hate that even though society has come a long way with mental health, they are still behind (and the church even more so at times). I wish I could be real and tell people that I have mental health challenges. Life-long, chronic ones, since I was a small child. I wish I could tell others that I have to take medication in order to function. I wish I didn't have to. But I tried that life. I finally got to the point that I realized that I was going to lose it all (maybe even my actual life, but at least I was for sure losing having much of a quality of life). I wish I could even be kinder to myself by not thinking inside that I shouldn't be taking this medicine. That I should somehow "try harder" and "be stronger". But I tried that, and any number of diets, supplements, etc. etc etc!! For way too long. I'm so thankful that I don't have to struggle through every day anymore. Its not perfect- I still have dips and struggles- but nothing compares. I wish I could be more real about this since I know logically I am not alone but it sure feels like it.

  8. My feelings exactly... If I make myself vulnerable and open up, will it give others the freedom to as well? Am I a safe place for their hearts?

  9. Oh my goodness, this is such a timely post. Although I won't share details, your thoughts are spot on. Yes! Can we love and serve each other's needs as Jesus? I pray that each reader will search their heart for what needs prayerfully dealt with.May the Lord bless you for sharing this important fact of faith.

  10. Oh, wow, Gina. You just spoke my heart on this. We just restarted our ladies Bible study at church this week, and when it came to prayer time, only two requests were made, and they were of the "my grandparents need to go to a nursing home" variety. This is not unusual--nothing deeply personal really ever gets shared in the requests, and I have often been tempted to be the one who breaks the mold. But...I'm afraid to be hurt. Oh, that we could all be sure that we would love and be loved like Jesus does! Heaven sure looks wonderful, doesn't it?

  11. Those are HUGE “what if’s” and some I’ve thought of often. We need to remember that when we ask for prayers they are “prayer requests”, not “gossip requests.” Thank you again for the reminder.

  12. I know exactly how you feel, Gina. Big hugs!

  13. Amen. God help us to repent, humble ourselves, and have understanding hearts with each other. This message was recently preached at our church

  14. Thank you for sharing. I've had some similar thoughts the last while. Sometimes it seems we have done better at loving our enemy than loving our brother. I am definitely learning in this area. I like your thought on what if I would start by asking for prayer for my personal needs. May God grant us the courage to do what we should do.

  15. This. This is beautiful. Thanks for the challenge Gina!

  16. Very well spoken!! I have always admired brothers and sisters in Christ that have confessed weaknesses/sin and asked for prayer in front of the church. It does take a lot of bravery because it makes a person VERY vulnerable! But yes, the Church should love hurting people like Jesus did!

  17. Very good questions and toe-mashing truth about prayer meetings. And we must be the change we wish to see. (Eek.)

  18. I really appreciate this post. I'm reluctant to share some of my ongoing or chronic non-medical problems. It's not so much that I'm afraid of judgement; I'm afraid of people overly thinking about those problems when they think about me!

  19. Oh yes, yes, yes. There is so much blessing that can come when we are honest and vulnerable with one another. It can be so intimidating to be the one to initiate such authenticity, but it is worth it.
    Thank you!

  20. What a beautiful and challenging post. Thank you.

  21. I so much agree! So much pain is difficult to share, so we hide it. I can also work at being more sensitive to unspoken needs of others, and pray even if they don't ask.

  22. Yesterday I went to our local Dollar Tree Store. When I got out of the car a lady called me over to her car. She was sitting there all alone in the passenger side. She had seen the sign we keep in our windshield that says, "Jesus loves you" She said, "I needed to see that today. Do you pray?" I said, "all the time" She said she had severe anxiety and couldn't go in the store today and would I pray for her. I asked her first name and prayed for her yesterday. This was a first for me. What a blessing to be asked to pray for a complete stranger. Take care.

  23. We had an e-mail send around in church when a couple was struggling and this verse was added on to the end of the e-mail.

    Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
    James 5:16

    Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh interession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
    Romans 8:29

  24. I am pretty sure that as a fulltime lawyer (and mother of 2) I have more me-time than a fulltime homemaker, homeschooler, baker and gardener extraordinaire ;-)
    Be kind to yourself.
    Sending best wishes from across the ocean.

  25. As I read your post, a wave of gratefulness washed over me . . . Our small church body is a safe place for me/us to share some of the hardest personal struggles . . . We all need this. . . It is a breath of fresh air, to be able to bare ones heart and have other ladies pray for me and vice versa . . . It is such a blessing!!!


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