Category Archives: just a thought…

What I’m learning/studying.

Revisiting the issue of “the One”

More than a decade has passed since a particular blog post spiked the comment section following. Not even a post written by me but one penned in response to my invitation to any male brave enough to write from a man’s perspective about “Test-Driving Your Relationships”. The discussion regarding discerning God’s Will, particularly regarding who to date and ultimately marry, brought numerous lively comments. Because of richness and depth, I’m sharing one comment that was particularly poignant, (written by John P.) He raised a number of great questions we might ask of a potential mate rather than camping out out on, “How do I know if I’ve found ‘the one’?” Definitely worth revisiting, pondering and heeding.

The ‘one,’ the soul mate, is a myth, and a damaging one at that. Boy meets the one. Girl meets the one. They get married and realize their spouse is not the one. They have missed God’s perfect plan and doomed to live Plan B while the one is out there somewhere. This is a bad scenario and must be avoided by having God reveal whom he has chosen for us. We refuse the wisdom He offers, choosing to abdicate decision making and so we wait, and wait, and wait for God to make the decision for us.

God does not have a perfect match for us (other than Himself). Have you seen the church? God does not even have a perfect match for Himself! You want a Biblical marriage. Get over the myth of what you think a perfect plan looks like, find a real man or woman with a heart after God who is willing to walk a REAL journey with a real, live-able, workable faith and love. Prune your affections from those things that dull discernment and seek to fill your soul with things other than God. Know whom God is calling you to be, whom He is pruning you to be, what sacrifices He requires of you to become the man or woman of God that He has put as centermost in your heart to become. Is this potential mate compatible with your journey? Are you compatible with theirs?

God does indeed love you more than you could ever imagine, but He does not have a perfect plan (and a perfect spouse as a major component of that perfect plan) for your life. Well, theoretically He might, but it will never get enacted in this life on earth, because the shoes are too big for our imperfect feet to walk in. Our feet and legs are too small to take those large, perfect strides. We don’t need a perfect plan, or a perfect match. We need to be imperfect, earthen vessels of divine grace to one another as we work out our Salvation. His part of that walk is perfect: ours … not so much.

I wish God would make all my decisions for me, or at least the biggies: spouse, career, education, iPhone or Android. As a good parent, our Father seems much more interested in training us to walk in wisdom, stretching us to think His thoughts, transforming us to love the things He loves, than He does in how well we perform in carrying out some perfect agenda. He treasures our imperfect decision making and in true God-like fashion, redeems our scribblings as He incorporates them into the masterpiece of His creation. Joining our imperfect lives, imperfect decisions and imperfect mates to His perfect Son is an act of faith. He is the great Redeemer, not just for forgiveness, but imparting to us the Holy Spirit, travelling this imperfect life with us as we are transformed and led into the complete (and perfect) fullness of fellowship with God.

We are fickle creatures. There will always come along another who grabs us as being prettier, smarter, kinder, richer, more loving, spiritual, and who will never grow old or have morning breath. The flesh is stupid that way, always chasing after some idol, something better. What if a nicer vessel does come along? And it will! Whether it truly is, or only imagined, does not matter. You will believe it to be so. Accept the inevitable and plan ahead to just get over it. God is infinitely perfect, wondrous and beautiful beyond compare and yet our eyes light up for the things of this world all the time. – Prone to wander, Lord I fear it. Yet, in faith, I am not paralyzed. I keep turning my heart and face toward home.

Do you delight in your prospective mate? Good. Do you delight in the One whom this vessel contains? Excellent. In loving this vessel, are you able to fill and be filled with God’s love for them and for you? The wine of His love, my friend, is the real treasure. Over time it will transform the vessel from within.

Do you have a God birthed desire to be poured out in sacrificial love for this person? Choose wisely, asking and expecting God to give you wisdom, not decisions. The one whom you choose will prune you deeply. You should have a pretty good idea of what things in your life, and in their life, will be lopped off, and what things will flourish as a result of that pruning.

How long does this take? It all depends. Are one or both of you going through a major transition in life: entering adulthood, graduation, career change, freedom from chemical dependency, emotional breakthrough, parenthood, break-up, empty nest, divorce, death, spiritual rebirth? If so your needs at the moment may be way out of proportion than what for you is ‘normal life.’ If you or your loved one are ‘in love,’ twitterpated, high on the good, good feelings of limmerance (the feeling of falling in love), then you really don’t know one another when sober. This is no time to be making life-long covenants. Give the feelings, the natural chemical high, time to return to a normal state. Do you love yourself and your prospective mate for whom they are and for whom God is calling each to be? Or are either of you just in love with how you feel about life and yourself when high on limmerance? Limmerance makes the critical person gush with positive things today and the gloomy person vibrant with optimism – they are finally happy with themselves and they love you for it. For a season -a very short season. The season of limmerance passes, the criticism and gloom that they despise in themselves returns and they realize that they ‘missed God,’ you are not ‘the one’ He prepared as part of His perfect plan for their life.

There is only one, ‘The One,’ and that is the Lord Himself. The Holy Spirit is your only true Soul Mate. May the Lord grant you wisdom and insight as together you discern how joining your life with another will change you both and aide or hinder God’s calling on your lives.

Kindness in Chaos: 12 Things to Avoid When Someone Tells You They Have Cancer

heart lightning  "If you look closely, you may find 
                  God's Heart--even as lightning 
                  strikes in the darkest places."

When my doctor’s phone number showed up in Caller ID after a week of medical tests, I felt relieved. “Finally, she’s calling to give me a good report and I’ll get on with life.” Instead three words slammed into my optimism, “You have cancer.” Knees buckled, immediate tears stung my cheeks. Every subsequent word sank into a black-hole-like echo of my doctor’s previous statement. Gasps replace my sigh of relief and I struggled to catch what breath remained in me. I felt as if someone ripped every ounce of air from my lungs, collapsing them.

Picture a hot air balloon flopping on the ground at the conclusion of a windy festival.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis shocked my system and ripped my heart. As healthy as I’ve always been, I could not have been less prepared for the news. Disconnecting the call, I’ve never felt more alone in my life. I sensed I faced a journey too turbulent to travel solo. Like Moses with Aaron and Hur, I needed someone to hold me up. Aching for connection with people who love me, I reached out to those closest to me. But with nearly every conversation, I grew more discouraged and less willing to risk vulnerability.

Imagine confiding heart-piercing news with persons you care for only to hear them launch into platitudes. Or stories. Or comparisons. Or false cheerfulness. Or remedies. Or advice. The insensitivity of some people—even those with the best of intentions—staggers the imagination. What one mistakenly considers support, bonding, or encouragement, a cancer patient interprets as dismissiveness. We disclosed to you what likely amounts to the hardest reality of our life and in your eagerness to soothe (Us? Or yourself?), you changed the subject. Or at least the focus of the subject.

God forbid anyone you love ever utters the statement to you, “I have cancer.” But in case those words one day assault your ears, understand that whatever happens or is spoken in the first few moments of such a disclosure could linger in your relationship indefinitely. With this, please keep the following in mind.

(A disclaimer may be appropriate: The following is offered in a sincere desire to bring Kindness to Chaos. I do not profess to speak for everyone with cancer. Even so, please at least consider these avoidances might possibly be universal.)

  1. Don’t tell you own story. If you survived cancer, at some point your story may be invited into the conversation but until then keep it to yourself. As a matter of fact, don’t do anything that makes the situation about you. It isn’t.
  2. Don’t say, “I know how you feel.” You don’t. Every tumor is different (and not all cancers are tumors). Likewise every individual brings to a cancer diagnosis our own set of life struggles & challenges uniquely impacting our cancer journey. Same diagnosis as you doesn’t equal same experience. Ever. Now go back and read #1 again for good measure.
  3. Don’t give advice. Not home remedies. Not nutritional suggestions. Not even a book on meditation or the phone number of your yoga instructor. When we brave pouring out our heart to you, we are most likely in shock or at the very least, still processing the news. Your advice comes out sounding like Charlie Brown’s school teacher… “WaaWaa. Waa. WaaWaaWaa.”
  4. Don’t regale us with stories. Especially about someone else you know who had cancer. Not a relative. Not an old buddy. Especially not your dog. We may be too kind to tell you in that moment but we honestly don’t want to hear other people’s stories. 
  5. Don’t ask questions about specifics of the cancer. We will tell you what we want you to know. Listen. Even when we pause. Keep listening. Silence won’t kill you. If you must comment, muster a sincere, “I’m so sorry.” Or “That really sucks.” Then listen some more.
  6. Don’t blame. This shouldn’t even have to be stated. But sadly, people do this. The healthier-than-thou individual feels a need to boast that HE never smoked, or ate junk food, or missed a single day at the gym in his entire lifetime since Toddler Gymboree. Shaming someone with cancer? Shame on YOU.
  7. Don’t blurt out trivial responses. “It’s going to be okay.” We understand that you’re trying to be encouraging, but you don’t KNOW that it’s going to be okay. And even if the situation DOES turn out okay eventually, at this moment of disclosure life is not okay. This moment is grueling.  Don’t dismiss our pain to make yourself feel better. If you stuff the sorrow of this occasion, chances are we will too. And in that case, neither of us is healthy.
  8. Don’t misrepresent Scripture. “God must really have a lot of confidence in you because the Bible says He won’t give you more than you can bear.” This may not be the best time to break it to you but the Bible says no such nonsense. Have you read about Job? Or Paul? Or Steven? Call me quirky, but I believe losing all your children in one day, being boiled in oil or stoned to death qualifies as more than a person can bear.
  9. Don’t ask, “What do you need?” While scratching the surface of helpfulness, this question contributes to confusion. The truth is, we don’t know what we need. Not really. We can barely wrap our mind around the whirlwind of treatment details and the decisions looming in the days ahead. Please don’t compound the mental chaos. A more appropriate question may be, “Who is helping coordinate your care so I may arrange to drive you to a doctor appointment? Or bring you a meal? Or do a load of laundry? Or clean your bathroom?” Offer one specific way you may contribute.  Then deliver on the commitment.
  10. Don’t be afraid to cry with us. Recognize that a first conversation with someone sharing cancer news is sacred. We’re hoping you’ll hear our heart breaking through our words. We may silently search your eyes for compassion. We may secretly wish you’d wrap your arms around us and hold us as we cry. Even so, we’re probably trying to be tough for your sake when inside our rock wall lies in pebbles and rubble. “May I give you a hug?” could go a long way to communicate sincere sorrow for this situation. And for crying out loud, if you’re going to hug, make it a REAL one. Even if we start to shake. Or cry. If that happens, we’re probably overdue for tears. Hold on tighter and encourage the tears to flow.
  11. Don’t simply make prayer promises. “You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.” Future thoughts and prayers are wonderful. But if you’re a spiritual person, PRAY right then and there. At least ask, “May I pray with you?” Then keep it brief but encouraging. If we truly believe Prayer Changes Things, why don’t we pray more often?
  12. Don’t focus every subsequent conversation on cancer. If we told you we have cancer, it’s likely because a meaningful tie already exists. Continue the rhythm of the relationship or friendship by talking about things we’ve always talked about, share the same things we’ve always shared, and engage in the activities we’ve previously enjoyed together (to the extent we’re physically able).

Cancer sucks. Don’t let your reaction to cancer news amplify the suck. Kindness matters. Especially in the chaos of a cancer diagnosis.

Please share these tips with friends and loved ones. The truth is, we live in a broken world and bad things happen everyday. These tips could apply, not simply to a cancer diagnosis, but to any tough news someone discloses to you. Keep those moments sacred and you’ll preserve a dear friendship through what will likely be a very difficult journey.

DiAnna Steele is a writer, speaker, and a cancer patient, currently trusting God to give her wisdom and courage for the battle ahead. She is grateful for your prayers and support as outlined above. Otherwise, she counts on your silence. www.diannasteele.com 


To Give is To Love

We can learn much from watching how others express love, who they chose to love and the motives behind their love.

The world tosses around the word “Love” to fit all kinds of scenarios. I love my dog. I love peppermint chocolate chip ice cream. I love a drive through Colorado mountains on a sunny day. I love the sound of a rushing river. I love my old fuzzy slippers and a fire in winter. I love my job. I love my kids. I love my family. I love Jesus. The possibilities are endless. But only a few of those represent opportunities for real love. And of those few, all are a choice that I make. Or not.

Love is a decision followed by action. 

In studying Old Testament words for love, I discovered, “AHAVA” which translates “I give”.

When we love, we give. When we give, we love. Simple. But not always easy.

We love by giving what others need, not what we want to give. It’s easy for me to give hugs because I enjoy getting hugs in return. But what if the person I’m hugging really needs space and an encouraging word? Am I willing to take the time to learn what makes others feel loved and then give them what they need?

So much of what passes as love is based in selfish desires to get something in return. Only when we give, expecting nothing in return do we truly love.

John 3:16 begins, “For God so LOVED the world, He GAVE…” (New Testament) Herein is the epitome of Love. Sacrificial giving, Selfless. No strings attached.

Giving doesn’t have to be extravagant but it will cost you something. Time. Emotion. Energy. Sleep. Tears. Sweat. We give when we take time to play catch with a son, when we wait up in wee hours of the night for a daughter to return home, when we listen to the heart of a friend, when we walk hand-in-hand with a sweetheart. We give when we pray for another or sit beside a hurting friend in silence. We give when we affirm and encourage someone. We give when we demonstrate respect even to those who don’t deserve it. We give by showing up and digging in. We give by serving even in personal exhaustion. And in all this giving, we are loving.

What will you give today? Or in essence, How will you choose to Love today? On my birthday I wanted to give you this gift, this reminder that to give is to love. I hope you’ll share this with someone you love and ask them, “How may I love you better?” Ask. And be prepared to give...