Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~THINK First~ March 15, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:11 am
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Hey you, with your finger hovering over “post,” can what you’re about to share be perceived as malicious, either by means of direct attack or passive-aggressively? Think about that, would you please, before you blurt out something you can never take back.

Social media has made it far to easy to be a cowardly bully. Everyday I see at least one post that is obviously meant to make someone or some group feel bad about themselves. Granted, I have several friends who are already combatting this trend by posting encouraging words every time they are online, but the problem is still prevalent.

What does one have to gain from being mean-spirited and hate-filled? What good can possibly come from slandering someone publicly with no consideration for who else could be affected by your rant? Does it invoke a feeling of power to seek one’s own revenge? Does it make you feel better about yourself to know that someone feels miserable about themselves at your hands?

I would venture to say that for the most part, when given these points some consideration, you would think twice before you rapid-fire posted in the midst of your anger or frustration.

One of my favorite Christian authors talks about the beauty of the “pause” and how taking the time to ask yourself 3 questions can drastically change the outcome of any situation:

  1. Are my words kind?
  2. Are my words true?
  3. Are my words necessary? (From LysaTerkeurst.com)

Imagine yourself today with a literal pause button. Before you speak, with your mouth OR your hands, give yourself a moment to think so that you can respond with grace rather than vengeance.

Friends, I know it’s hard. I’ve been there, too, hurt & betrayed and desperate for someone to come alongside me and validate my anger. While it may make us feel better in the short-term, it will likely make us feel that much worse once the dust settles and we realize that how we reacted was no better than the original offense. Let’s just agree to make the effort, one day at a time, to choose our words carefully. And when we mess up, know that there is forgiveness and grace to try again tomorrow.


“There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.” (Proverbs 29:20 NLT)

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~Avoid Mockers~ February 22, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:56 pm
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We’ve been gone from home for just at 3 months now. One thing about moving hours away from everyone you’ve ever known, you have lots of time to think…perhaps a little too much time! Now I’m not saying this is specific to me, but it is something I’ve observed having been removed from varying situations.

I’ve had a rather painful, if not obvious revelation: some people want to see you fail for no other reason than sheer malice.

Fortunately, for every one of them, there is someone who celebrates your triumphs, encourages you & truly wishes you great success…hang on to them.

You shouldn’t be overly concerned with those who wish you no good, who seem, in fact, to thrive off your misfortune. Don’t try to interpret why they have such harsh feelings for you, your efforts will likely prove futile. There is a solid chance they may not be completely aware why they have such feelings of contempt aimed squarely at you. Even those you have wronged and forgiveness seems out of their reach, don’t allow yourself to become all-consumed by it. If you’ve made your peace with them and more importantly, the Lord, let it go.

“Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.” (Proverbs 22:24-25 NLT)

Instead be thankful for those who love you, the real you, the ones who forgive your shortcomings, shoulder your burdens and actually defend you against the cynics.

I have said this in numerous posts and I’m going to say it again, be kind always. Add to that, even when you’ve been wronged, feel misjudged or when someone shoots you the death stare….be kind always. We are all a messed up bunch of sinners and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we can get on with the business of loving one another.

 

~People Pleaser No More~ October 6, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:51 am
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I have recently felt challenged in an area of my life that I have’t had to deal with for quite sometime. I’ve tried to put a word to the emotion and can’t seem to settle on one that fits. I’ve been faced with some hurt that has left me feeling “blah.” And yes, that is the best I can come up with when I think of this particular situation. I am not angry. I don’t feel unforgiveness. I’m not upset. I feel no ill will towards anyone. And yet, I also feel no desire to do anything.

This is an odd predicament to find myself in as I have spent my entire life being a people pleaser. I’ve always struggled with the thought that someone may not like me and have mastered the art of adaptation to fit into whatever mold each person expected of me. But something has changed and it is both liberating and slightly terrifying all at once.

“Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.” (1Thes 2:4 NLT)

This is where I have missed the mark up until this point. I used to believe that if someone didn’t like me or my opinions, that meant I was failing God. How could I be effective in loving people if I can’t make them love me back?!

I realize now that my thoughts were skewed and misguided. I was naive to think that I could go through life being liked by all. Friends, I’ve had people hate me in response to a choice I made but I’ve also had those who simply didn’t like to be in my company for whatever reason, no explanation. Whereas I used to let it get me down and change my attitude when confronted by someone who was not a fan, I am learning to not let those around me have that much of an impact on how I perceive myself to be. I am imperfect, my word is fallible and at times I am completely unlovable. Even in those weaknesses and the multitude that I could add to the list, I know who I am. My self-worth is no longer hinged on what others say about me or directly to me. I am confident in who God says I am and that is sufficient cause for me to find freedom in the face of adversity.

pleasing people

 

~How Do They Live With Themselves?~ September 15, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 2:27 pm
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people-sin-differently-do-not-judgeIf we are completely honest with ourselves, we all have at least one person that we have at some point felt this way about. When we see them, we snarl our nose in disgust or shake our heads full of judgmental thoughts or roll our disapproving eyes. I mean really, how can they live with themselves knowing the horrible mistakes they’ve made?

I’ll tell you what we don’t know about “them”. We will never know the battle that’s raged within them over every bad decision they’ve  ever made. We will never know the nights they have lain awake and wept over the lives they’ve  damaged and hearts left broken in their wake. When we look at them, all we see are their sins. Our unforgiving eyes bury them in even more shame and regret than they already carry.

At one point, they saw themselves just as we do. Their reflection brought on anguish that cannot be explained as their transgressions swept over them and gripped them at the core. Then one day, they accepted the grace and forgiveness they had always heard of but never fully grasped was available to someone like them.

So now when you see them and they no longer drop their eyes in shame when they meet yours, perhaps you’ll think of your own demons that you’ve battled that gives you such boldness to walk around making others feel unworthy. That’s right, I went there. Not one of us has lived a sinless, spotless life & I’m sure we all have something from our past we’d rather not relive.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” (Matt 7:1-5 Message)

Your choosing to not shame someone over their past doesn’t excuse whatever they did to make you feel that way towards them. It takes a deep level of maturity to no longer seek vengeance. I have found when those feelings rise up in me, if I’ll take pause to think of all from which I have been forgiven, it knocks me down a peg or two and allows me to see them in a different light.

 

~Keepin’ It Real~ July 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 11:41 am
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I have a feeling that some of you are about to be seriously disappointed in me. I should start by telling you, I don’t swear, honest I don’t. I used to cuss like a sailor back in my pre-Jesus-loving days but I have since been redeemed and turned from my potty mouth ways. However, moments ago, I let a four letter word slip….and there was a witness!

It’s been one of those mornings where I feel like my brain is in a fog. I’ve tried to function like a normal human being but have found it rather impossible. So naturally I assumed I just needed another dose of caffeine. The coffee had gone lukewarm so I had to zap it in the microwave because coffee just isn’t coffee unless it’s scorching hot. Right as I went to grab my super cute mug from the machine of fire, my hand slipped and the nectar of the heavens went flying everywhere, including all over me. I did mention how hot I like my coffee, right?! Y’all it stung…seriously…and you know how I feel about my coffee so seeing it spill into the floor was a crushing blow. Before I could even think, the dirty word started to slip out. I caught myself midway through the “sh” sound and tried to throw on the brakes. So what came out was a whispered, slightly slurred, version of the word. I heard something behind me and slowly turned around to see Peyton…laughing. In my anguish I’d forgotten I was not alone. I started to tell him I was sorry for the slip when through his laughter he yelled, “REPENT”!!

That kid.

As I mopped up my mess, I did apologize, to Peyton & Jesus, for my faux pas. And I was thankful. Thankful for grace, even in the small moments. Thankful for kids who know their momma is human and can forgive her shortcomings. Thankful for a God who loves me, even when I slip in frustration. Thankful for the gift of repentance that draws us closer to that very same God. And lastly, thankful for the Keurig that quickly replaced my go-go juice so that this day can continue 😉coffee

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV) 

 

 

~The Heart Speaks~ July 21, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:21 am
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Have you ever said something and immediately thought to yourself, “where did THAT come from?!” I know I have, on more occasions than I care to admit.

Good people have good things saved in their hearts. That’s why they say good things. But those who are evil have hearts full of evil, and that’s why they say things that are evil. What people say with their mouths comes from what fills their hearts.” (Luke 6:45 ERV)

(We could probably go ahead and add….what people say with their fingers as well. Because let’s face it, we do a whole lot more talking through the written word than face-to-face.)

This Scripture hurts my heart because I know I have allowed things into my life that have caused me to act uncharacteristically.

The first thing that comes to mind is frustration. Being a stay-at-home mom, I sometimes find myself completely overwhelmed by the demands of the little people in my life. Instead of pausing and seeking direction from The Word, I allow myself to be consumed by my emotions. What flows from my heart in those moments are snippy, sarcastic words that do nothing to remedy the situation but rather cause the frustration to seep into the hearts of the ones I am dumping on.

What about hurt? This one tends to have the reverse affect on me. When I feel hurt by someone, I shut down, building a wall to protect myself from further damage. That is no more healthy than if I lashed out. Instead of talking it out and making room for healing to begin, my lack of communication keeps the hurt bottled up, allowing it to fester until it does come out in my speech. A hurting heart will change your perspective and therefor the things you say in response to any number of scenarios. It’s in those moments, when the wounds run deep, that we have to remember “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) Ask Him to heal your hurts so that the healing can begin before it takes root in your spirit.

For me, anger is probably the most dangerous of emotions that can fill my heart and come screaming out of my mouth. It’s not that I anger easily, but when I do, it’s usually a major offense that I feel cannot be ignored. Anger causes me to react with little to no thought about how my words are going to impact the person on the receiving end. Anger makes me not care about others. It makes me speak harshly, without grace, without love, without compassion. Anger makes me mean. So how are we to keep anger from getting a foothold in our lives? How do we LET IT GO when we really want to hold onto that wrong and feel justified in our madness? “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7) Pray for God’s peace to take the place of that anger that is sure to bring ruin.

There are many other things we can allow into our hearts, either good or bad, that will eventually come out of our mouths. Let’s strive to replace bitterness with forgiveness, hate with love, judgment with empathy and more of the like so that the words we speak will be helpful for building others up according to their needs, that they may benefit those who listen. (from Eph 4:29)heart

 

~When Hurt Makes You Want To Quit~ June 1, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:01 am
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I am a very sensitive gal, sometimes…oftentimes…to a fault. I let my feelings get hurt and take offense when others could and do let it roll off their backs. I make no apologies for that. My sensitivity is also what helps me to connect with others.

Today, I was unfriended. I made a mistake. A misunderstanding took place in a group setting. I called it out. It was then clarified, on both parts. I thought all was right with the world. That is until a separate message came through where no one else could see it. I was accused of a handful of things that don’t bear repeating.

Ouch.

I went from furious, to hurt, to eventually over it. Here’s why.

I am 100% comfortable with the prioritization of my life.

I am confident in who God says I am.

At the ripe old age of 33, I have come to the realization that you can’t please everyone so you best just focus on pleasing God.

Hurting people hurt people. 99.9% of the time, it is unintentional. It could be someone is having a horrible day. Perhaps they are physically ill, dealing with relational issues, fighting a spiritual battle I know nothing about it…the why isn’t important, it’s just a fact that if you’re dealing with any other struggle, it will affect how you respond to any give situation. I am not excluded from this little phenom.

Lastly, because of you, my friends. I posted on social media about my hurt and that we all should be more careful in our word choices, myself included. And without fail, you lovelies did what you do best, offered love & acceptance for who I am, flaws and all.  IMG_7346

I will not deny my place in this particular hurt. I read a message and took it one way while the author claims to have intended something else entirely. This is why writing can be dangerous. If you’re not looking me in the eyes, I can very easily misinterpret what you mean. This doesn’t excuse the words that were said to me, but it does force me to take a careful look at how I post on this blog.

My only goal is to reach people through total transparency, which includes admitting when I’ve made mistakes and seeking forgiveness.

Here’s the best news, God’s Grace & mercies are new each and every morning. Breathe it in. Yesterday is over, today I get to try again to give my best for God. And I will.

The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matt 12:37 NLT)