Do You Have Difficulty Loving and Forgiving Others?

Our small group just finished up on the book of Jonah. In all sincerity, the only information I had about Jonah was that a huge fish swallowed him. I never knew why.  Did Jonah get loose, or become fish food? The book is only a few pages but it’s an extremely powerful story. I never knew how we as Christians have so much in common with Jonah as difficult as it is to admit.
Has God called upon you to do something you didn’t want to do?  Have you ignored the call? Jonah was a prophet. God gave Jonah a mission to travel to Nineveh, inform them about God, and to get the Assyrian people to repent and seek redemption. Jonah hated the Assyrian people because of their heartless cruelty to the Israelites. He knew that God was a loving and forgiving God and didn‘t feel that the Assyrian people deserved mercy. Jonah decided to hide from God by getting on a ship in route to Tarshish. As I read this part, I wondered, Jonah’s a prophet and still he thinks he can hide from God? God, unrelenting,  intervenes in Jonah’s plan of escape by sending a storm and breaking up the boat. This you might say, is God’s wake up call.  Has God ever tried to get your attention? Has He broken something in your world to draw you back to Himself?
I honestly can’t say I’ve tried to hide from God, but I must admit there have been people in my life I haven’t wanted to pray for because I didn’t like them, or I didn’t feel as though they deserved forgiveness or redemption. Have you ever wanted to keep God’s grace to yourself rather than sharing it with those you felt were less deserving? Ouch!  These are the storms that God may have sent to help bring closure or peace in your heart. God is asking us to step out in obedience. We may not understand what His intentions are, but we should realize God has a plan for us and will challenge us to do something we don’t want to do.
God asked me last year to serve in the Youth Ministry (high school girls) at our church. “No, thank you,” I said. “I’d rather serve on the worship team.” But God was not letting me off the hook that easily. He continued to put youth ministry on my heart. I finally said to Him, “You know my past when I was a teenager. I hardly think I‘d be a suitable example.”  But that was His point. I would have empathy. I could sense the battles these girls were experiencing because I had been one with a history I‘m not too proud of, but if it could help save these girls from the mistakes I made, maybe, just maybe, something positive could come out of my shame.  And so I serve,  and I love it.  God knew what He was doing.


My mother was a trailblazer of her time. She was a strong woman who had a rough time growing up herself. She taught me the only things you can count on in life are your fingers and yourself.  (I count on the Lord).  My mother drilled into my head the value of an education, a college degree, and a good career.  She never wished to be one of those women reliant on a man to support her. She worked hard and, opened her own business. My mom became a widow in 1961 when I was 13 months old, leaving my mother to raise me and my ten-year-old sister.  Fortunately, mom had set herself up to be independent. With no life insurance, it was up to her. Government handouts were against her values. As long as she was able, she would work to support her family.
Growing up,  I wanted to get married, have a family and be a stay at home mom.  My sister, being ten years older than I, did just that, although it didn’t work out the way she’d envisioned either.  She had three little boys and a husband who was struggling too, “find himself,” causing my sister to be the main provider.  Nine years and three children later, she turned into a single mom struggling and dependent upon government programs to make ends meet.
My mom passed away when I was 23-years-old, leaving me alone and panicked.  It was now imperative  I marry and a start a family so I wed the first man that came along. He had a stable job, devoted to his family and said he loved me.  While I wasn’t crazy in love with him, I wanted someone to take care of me. What I discovered was, I had married a control freak. He monitored everything I did and every dime I spent. Two years later, we divorced.
My mother’s words came back to haunt me, “You need to have a career that offers full benefits and a retirement fund. You need to rely on yourself. When you depend on government or another person to support you, you give up your power.”  It was now the time I implemented the advice my mother had shared.
I went back to college, earned my master’s degree, became a special education teacher, opened a learning center, published a book and was a speaker/presenter for the National Tutoring Association.
I have endured many struggles and lessons learned in my life. I want to be a trailblazer like my mother was. My mission is to empower women, help them discover their God-given gifts and become what God has created them to be.

Find Your Purpose of Your Life

The purpose of your life is much greater than your achievements, your peace of mind, or your pleasure. It is much bigger than your family, your career, or your aspirations. If you wish to learn why you were called here on earth, you must start with your creator, God. God designed you for His purpose. For thousands of years, people have been searching for the meaning and purpose of their existence, but many never find it. Why? Because they commonly begin at the false starting point, themselves.
When we start with ourselves, we ask self-centered questions such as, “What do I want to be? What should I do with my life? What are my ambitions, dreams, and desires?” By focusing on ourselves, we will unlikely know what God’s purpose for our life is.
Scriptures summarize God’s purpose-filled life;
Love the Lord with all your heart (worship), Love your neighbor as yourself (ministry) Make disciples (evangelism), baptize them (fellowship) and teach them to obey (discipleship).
Knowing your purpose gives meaning to your life. God made us to have meaning. Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, we have no goal. God says, “I know what I am planning for you… I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). Our secular society tells us we can be whatever we want to be. Work hard and persist. I wanted to be a professional singer growing up. I was in the school choir in middle school and high school. When Karaoke became popular, I was at the bar on a weekly business just hoping someone would discover me. I can sing but I truly don’t have a professional voice to sell records. God didn’t bless me with that talent. I love art, but I can’t even draw stick figures! To pursue something, I wanted to do instead of tapping in on my gifts that God has given me, would have left me feeling frustrated.
Knowing your purpose simplifies your life. It defines what you do and what you can’t do. Ask yourself, “Does this activity help me fulfill one of God’s purposes for my life?” Without a clear purpose, it is difficult to make the correct decisions. People that don’t know their purpose often try to do too much-causing stress and conflict. For those of you that can never say no to others’ requests, keep in mind, you are here for God’s purpose, not for others. It’s impossible to do everything other people want you to do.
How can you bring glory to God? By worshiping Him, by fellowship and loving others, by becoming like Christ through discipleship, by serving others with our gifts, and by telling others about the Lord Jesus Christ.  God’s purpose for our life is to glorify His name.