The Trio: Safe Supervision

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The Introduction

The first time I met my boss was during my interview; he had his head resting on his hands the entire time. He was exhausted, and there was no denying it. When you’re in politics, and a mercy gift to boot, it’s highly likely that you’re doing some people pleasing–and that was definitely the case with my boss. A compassionate man, he is always willing to listen and give people his time. Everyone who calls our office claims to be “a good friend” of his, and he knows more people than I ever will. (But like a true mercy, he has very few who are actually close to him.) He has told me many times that he needs a great deal of time to process, and he is married to a prophet woman who does a great job of giving him many of the things he needs. More than just compassionate, my boss is caring and has grown into his mercy gift at age 61. He has something that the other two in the trio do not yet have: maturity. And beyond that, he has what my coworker lacks: acceptance of his gift.

The Involvement

The involvement with my boss on my end has simply been that I have gotten to be led by a mature mercy male for the first time in a long time. It has been less about what I am doing to be involved and more about what I am learning through my relationship with him. I have worked under former mercy male leaders, and it has been disastrous in some areas. It is helpful that my current boss and his wife are devout Christians; that his wife has a solid identity and therefore does not feel intimidated by me or challenged by my involvement in his professional life; and that I myself am more grounded in my own identity in Christ. It is wonderful to genuinely care for my boss and see his gifts displayed in such a public way, with such maturity. He is incredibly good at asking for help in the areas where he does not have great control, like boundaries with his time. He is not only well liked, he is well respected by folks in all walks of life and is one of the humblest men I know. Working with him daily reminds me of how much I want a Jesus-loving, humble, grounded-in-his-identity, mercy male husband of my own.

The Importance

My boss represents something in a mercy male relationship that I have not experienced in a long time: safety. This is a stunning revelation to me, even as I write it. Last week, as I was thinking about this blog, I actually said to myself that I did not know what the importance of this relationship was–but now it’s very clear to me. Listen, I know relationships, people, even LIFE ITSELF is not safe. Nor did Jesus call us to a safe life. But I know that I have been avoiding mercy males–or at least keeping a safe distance–because of how many times I’ve been hurt by them. And while I am aware that Jesus assured us we would have a life full of troubles (John 16:33), I am also aware that we are to guard our hearts, because all of life springs forth from it (Proverbs 4:23). I am enjoying the safety of my relationship with this mature mercy male because we all need safe people in our lives. He does not flirt or lead me on intentionally or unintentionally; he does not use me to get his touch needs fulfilled; I don’t feel guarded around him because he is mature enough to set his own boundaries. That means I don’t have to guard my heart, because he helps in that area. So instead of feeling stressed and worried around him, I am enjoying a kinship with a mercy male, and our dynamic flows exactly the way God intended it to. We joke, we laugh, we share, and we naturally work well together but not in any kind of inappropriate or unhealthy way. In fact, he just got back from a week-long trip, and the first thing he did when he saw me was give me a hug. I did not feel used, I did not feel weird–I just enjoyed the cool, safe relationship I have with a mercy male.

There’s something to be said for feeling safe in a relationship. And while I know my ultimate safety comes from spending time in the arms of my Savior, it is nice to know that I can also find safety in a relationship with a mercy male who has no agenda except to care for those he leads. And that has been remarkably healing for this pushy prophet girl.

 

Monday Minute: Just Apologize

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image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A friend of mine skipped my birthday festivities and did not alert me he would not attend. He never called, never texted–just didn’t show and then went on vacation for two weeks. When I brought it up with him, his response was, “I’m a work in progress.”

That’s true. We all are.

But APOLOGIZE, dude! It’s two simple words–either “I’m sorry” or “I apologize.” When there is even a HINT that you could’ve hurt a good friend’s feelings, just apologize. It tells people you’re thinking of more than just yourself–it shows you care about others’ feelings.

So next time someone points out something you did wrong*, swallow your pride and JUST APOLOGIZE!

*not applicable to coworkers with severe insecurity issues who take everything you say as a sleight against them

LL School Day: Safety Nets

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One of the lessons I’m learning about right now is safety nets. We have lots of safety nets that we depend on in this life; I feel quite sure that grieves the heart of God in many ways. We think of people as safety nets; possessions; money; careers; so many things can become safety nets to us, which causes us to miss the point of God entirely.

I didn’t realize it until my car broke down recently, but money has been my safety net. As a single woman with no family or husband to count on financially, and as someone who doesn’t have a killer job making buckets of money, I have always been incredibly cautious about money and having enough saved to feel financially comfortable. The problem is, it was never enough–until it wasn’t there anymore.

The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; and the LORD shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders. –Deuteronomy 33:12 

The Bible reminds us in many places, OT and NT, that God wants to be our safety net. He wants to be the One that we depend on. He wants to take care of our every need, our every want, and our every desire. And any time we depend on someone or something else to do so, we miss out on receiving something wonderful from our Heavenly Father–His gift of HIMSELF.

The great thing about God being our safety net is that God will always provide for His children. It might not be what we want or expect, but He is always there, and He is always on time. And even better: God will always be enough. We may not ever have enough money, love, or power–but we always have more than enough in God.

And that’s an invaluable safety net.

The Trio: Worship While Waiting

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This one is a hard one to write! I wanted to save him until last–because I wanted to figure out what was going on here before I wrote about it. That did not happen. But I actually believe it’s fitting to put my former worship leader in the middle of the trio blogs. Of the three, he’s my favorite. But he’s also the most confusing.

The Introduction

The first time I saw worship leader (WL) was my first visit to the church when I moved here back in May. I immediately looked at my friend and said, “Who is that guy?” And she said, “One of the worship leaders.” And I said, “He’s a mercy gift. Trouble.” I know my history with mercy males–I wanted to avoid at all costs. He was young–only 21, and those younger mercy males are always drawn to me, which makes my life infinitely more difficult. So I made note and decided to keep my distance. WL was a great guy–he loves Jesus more than anything, always seems willing to learn, and did a pretty good job of transitioning into a leadership role when our former worship leader left abruptly. Knowing that he was a great guy AND a mercy gift, I stayed away from him for the most part, even after joining the worship team. But he did not do as good a job on his end (lol). And besides, no one can really stop the mercy-prophet magnetism. It just is. And the magnetism intensified once I stopped praying for my coworker. But I was careful to guard my heart and stay accountable in my interactions with him.

The Involvement

I was unsure what God wanted of me in this situation. I would pray for WL intermittently, but not like I was praying for my coworker. I didn’t feel called to pray for WL as much–he seemed to have a good head on his shoulders, a pretty solid relationship with the Lord, and he was a growing role model and leader in our church. Not to mention, he has great parents and a solid, Christian family and framework. But WL kept showing up in my dreams. Sometimes, he would just be standing there, sometimes he and I would have a conversation–it was nothing inappropriate or ridiculous, but my mind would not let him go. So I did what every smart pushy prophet girl would do in that situation.

I switched church campuses.

Now, before you go and say that I ran away from the problem, let me explain. No, it’s too much–let me sum up. (Name that movie!) I moved further away from my church right around the time I joined the worship team last fall. Then at the beginning of this year, I joined a small group at a campus right down the street from my house. While I was struggling with these emotions related to WL, I was also struggling with whether I should even be at that campus in the first place. I had found my PEOPLE at the campus near my house…women that I was really connecting with, serving at the food bank there…and when I visited for worship one Sunday, I just felt at home. It’s not that I did not love the campus with WL, it was just that this one near my house felt like the perfect fit. So after a lot of prayer, I made the switch. I told WL that I was leaving, and he said the most perfect mercy male 21-year old leader things in return, and I left.

The Importance

I am still dreaming about WL. In fact, this morning, I texted my friend and told her I wanted a lobotomy. What does this mean? Honestly, I don’t know. All that I know is that despite the fact that I no longer talk to WL, don’t see him at all, and have zero interaction with him, the Lord still puts WL on my mind both while awake and while asleep. So I have taken to praying for him a great deal, and praying for what the Lord wants to show me. I most certainly miss WL–he is good people. But I also miss my mom, and I don’t ever dream about her. So while I figure that out, prayer seems to be the best option–and in this case, it’s the only option. I can’t figure this one out on my own–and I might never figure it out. Perhaps there is something going on with WL that only God and WL know about, and I am supposed to pray for him when God injects him into my mind. Whatever the reason, it’s up to God to reveal them to me. It’s up to me to pray and worship while I wait for the answers.

Isn’t it funny when God keeps hammering the same lesson into your heart? (Maybe not!)

LL School Day: Anger at God

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It’s been a difficult week. My car broke down to the tune of $2,000. I finally got it fixed, and got it back last Friday…only to have it break down again on Sunday–the problem related to something they were supposed to have just fixed. And the mechanic that’s been working on it is closed this week.

Because I had just dropped most of my savings on my car, I didn’t have the money to rent another car. So I’ve been taking the bus this week and depending on the kindness of my friends.

On Monday, I waited outside my job for 30 minutes for a bus that never came. I had been trying to deal, but I lost it. I came back into my place of employment, sat in the basement room where the tourists come to watch a brief video on the history of the place, and I bawled my eyes out. It was the third time in 24 hours that I had done that.

Life is difficult. As Christians, we have zero promises in the Word about an easy life. Instead, we are told, “Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows.” (John 16:33–thanks, Jesus.) It also says that Jesus has overcome the world. But I have admit–in the moment, it just doesn’t feel like it.

And I think that’s okay. Because feelings pass. I was very angry at God for a couple of days–like full-out-cussing-and-refusing-to talk-to-Him-without-using-four-letter-words angry. I’m not ashamed to admit that, because I think it’s important that I have a fully encompassing relationship with God. If I have the capacity to feel it, it’s because God created it and gave it to me. So obviously, He can handle it. Yes, I sinned in my anger, but I also asked for forgiveness and am allowing God to heal my heart and love me again.

I’m not saying it’s right or wrong to be angry with God. I’m just saying that if it happens, God is God enough to handle it and forgive us if we sin in the midst of it. I’m getting better about dealing with trials (I was angry for two days instead of two weeks this time); but in the meantime, I can rest in knowing that God can take a shoving and keep on loving.

LL School Day: No Respect

Read this in a blog yesterday: “Adultery is no respecter of persons.” But really, I thought it should’ve said, “SIN is no respecter of persons.

My friend has a husband who loves guns. She’s always nervous because she has two small kids and he can be somewhat careless with his guns. Once she asked him, “what if you have an accident?” And he said, “I won’t. I will never have an accident with my guns.” What he fails to recognize is that accidents aren’t planned; you don’t get to decide if an accident happens to you; they just do. They happen to everyone, because accidents are no respecter of persons. And the same goes for sin.

Look, I don’t care who you are, you’re going to fall in sin. The Word says that “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). The great thing about sin is that everyone on this earth struggles with it. Doesn’t matter who you are; you just do and you will until you die. Sin is like brushing your teeth before bed; you wake up in the morning, and your teeth need to be brushed again. “How did that happen? I was ASLEEP! I didn’t eat anything!” But yet bacteria and germs festered in your mouth overnight, and now your breath is funky and you gotta brush again. That bacteria doesn’t say, “oh, that’s Michelle. She’s a good girl; we are going to let her off the hook and give her sparkly fresh breath every morning.”

Again, the same goes for sin. Sin doesn’t care who you are; sin just says, I’m going to fester and grow. Doesn’t matter if you are a scholar, a homeless person, a mom, a dentist, or a BMX biker. Sin affects us all. You can’t escape it.

But I’m glad Jesus is my toothbrush!

 

LL School Day: Being Lovers

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It’s a leadership lesson school day! These are going to be short blogs I write during the week with leadership lessons I’m learning (and believe me, I’m learning a LOT these days). They’re not going to be connected in any way, except for the fact they are all lessons.

Read recently: “Love isn’t what I have the opportunity to GET from this world; love is what I have the opportunity to GIVE.” (1 Corinthians 13)

Well, if that one didn’t punch me in the face, I don’t know what will.

One of my biggest issues is being loved, and subsequently, loving others. And I feel plenty of love from plenty of people in my life, but I have always been a seeker of love. My complaint to God has always been that I want someone to love me.

Now, I have PLENTY of people who love me. But you know, I’m usually talking about THAT kind of love.

And one of my other issues is that I know deep within me that I am always seeking to feel loved. But this quote challenged me: how much am I seeking to give love away? Not much. That’s because I’m always withholding love for fear of rejection. It doesn’t matter if it is with my family, my friends, or potential suitors, I have the tendency to be more closed off and unavailable to them than they are to me. I have known that I am afraid to love, but I didn’t realize how much I would hold back from being myself, from expressing myself to others out of that fear of rejection.

So when I saw this quote, I immediately thought…how can I move from trying to get love to trying to give love? Immediately, God told me to text someone and tell them how I was feeling/what I was thinking. So I did. The response was less than stellar/accepting, but at the same time, it was the response I needed. Because God wanted me to understand that it wasn’t about their response; if it was about their response, then it was what I was getting in return. Instead, it was about my choice to GIVE, regardless of the outcome. And that is a hard lesson, but a good one to learn, nonetheless.

So…how are you giving love away today–without expecting anything in return?

The Trio: Coworker Coexistence

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Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. (Romans 12:6, The Message)

I struggled with which of the Trio to begin with because I have a lot to say about each of them. However, I’m starting with the coworker, because though I met him last of the three, he is the first one who influenced me deeply.

The Introduction

Coworker and I met on my first day on the job. I knew from the first moment we met that he was a mercy gift; I actually told my friend that my coworker was a mercy male, and I knew it was going to be difficult. He is my age—we graduated the same year, but he is already in a high ranking government position, making hand-over-fist money-wise, and one of the smartest people I know in his area of expertise. One time, he was talking shop in my office, and I thought, “wow, this guy is smart, good-looking, and wealthy–what is wrong with him?”

I quickly found out: he lacks identity in Jesus.

Within one week of working with him, I could tell that my coworker was rebelling against his mercy gifting. I could see it in his lack of compassion for others; the way he shuts everyone out, the way he refuses to let anyone care for him at all; the way he treats the people who work for him, the almost robotic nature of his relationships with others; the way he wraps his identity in his job; the rumors about his sexuality. I could see the struggles he was having, even though he tried to hide them.

The Involvement

I began praying for him and speaking very heavily into his identity as a mercy male. I wrote him notes to thank him for showing generosity and to encourage the compassion within him that I knew was there. We had a bit of a dispute—which is NOT the mercy’s strong point, as they just can’t deal with the emotions of conflict—and I made it a point to come into the office on the weekend, when I knew I could catch him, to talk the issue out with him. He hugged me (something that no one in our office has ever experienced, EVER), and we resolved the issue. I spoke life-giving words to him whenever I could, and my other coworkers noted that even they noticed the difference in him.

But after six months of praying fervently for him and speaking into his identity, I stopped. I found myself dealing with feelings for him that I did not want to have. I struggled so badly and felt so despondent about the experience that I asked a friend to take over the prayers and I pulled back from him significantly. And I watched much of the positive changes in him fade away.

During these last six months, I have seen him become even more withdrawn, argumentative, and wholly focused on himself. He has distanced himself from staff without reason and refuses to engage them when asked. He recently said that he could “take care of himself, because he had been doing so his entire life, and he didn’t need anyone.” And even worse, as I have not prayed for him, I have seen my own heart harden towards him.

The Importance

Praying is imperative, and one of the things that I said I was going to do for the mercy male, regardless of what else I felt led to do, was pray for them. And one reminder I gave myself was, “what if I’m the only person in this entire world that is praying for him?” I don’t know that his parents are Christians, and he doesn’t have many friends. So pondering that question drives home to me the importance of bringing him before the Lord. But I’m also under this realization: prayer is not sovereign; God is sovereign. God doesn’t need me or my prayers to work in my coworker’s life. God needs me to pray so that I can cultivate a better relationship with Him and become more like Him in my daily interactions with everyone, including and perhaps especially with my coworker. I want to see him walking in His God-given identity as a mercy gift, and doing so cheerfully (Romans 12:8). I want Him to know the Lord as I do.

I was worried that I was getting too close to my coworker through my prayers. Now, instead of worrying, I am learning the importance of trusting the Lord to protect my heart as I fulfill His directive to pray. And though he doesn’t know it, I have my coworker to thank for this invaluable lesson.

Blogger Interrupted

Allow me to apologize for not blogging again last week! It was fully my intent to get back into the blogosphere with a vengeance, but I was interrupted by a ma$$ive car repair. Lucky me, God is using it to refine me in the fire! While I’m waiting–for my car and my Lord, I fully expect to post this week. Thank you for hanging in there!

The Trio: An Intro

When I posted a few months ago, I noted that I had been thinking and praying about the mercy male and his role in my life. What I didn’t note at the time was that I was feeling his influence so strongly that I honestly wasn’t sure what was going on. For such a long time I have been dealing with and wondering about the mercy gift and why I always ended up with this man in my life. I never have to look far for a mercy male, as they always seem to find me! I have always understood my own need for the softening of the mercy gift, but always felt like the inclusion of the mercy male in my life was for some torturous reason. Why torture? Simple. The mercy male and myself have a tumultuous and beautiful intertwining. The attraction between us is incredibly strong, whether it is friendly or professional, and I always struggle in my relationships with mercy males. I’m their touch magnet, their jokester, their boldness. They are my sweetpeas, my sensitivity, and my compassion. It becomes tumultuous when they, in the immaturity of their gift, cannot set boundaries, and I am forced to make difficult decisions for my own well being. They are a blessing, and yet also heart breaking. 

So imagine my chagrin when I moved to a brand new state and recently realized that I work directly for a mercy male boss, interact consistently with a mercy male coworker, and express myself musically alongside a mercy male worship leader. It’s interesting how the Bible sees the number 3 as a sign of completion, seeing as these three have completely driven me crazy over the last year! But there is something wonderful about realizing how complete this foray into the mercy gift in the mercy season has been for me. This Trio of Mercy Males has shown me the beauty and fallacy of the gift like no interactions with the mercy male has before. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m more hypersensitive to their presence in my life, or if these three are just simply that much more pronounced in my life. But when I recognized that this Trio was having such an influence on me, I realized that God was giving me some answers to questions I had been asking for quite some time (see previous blogs). 

So this series is going to explore the Trio: the boss, the coworker, and the worship leader–three mercy males who are all very different and at various stages in their lives and relationships with the Lord, and yet influencing me through their leadership and lives nonetheless. I look forward to sharing what I’m learning and how I’m growing, and how the mercy male continues to shape this pushy prophet girl.