Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Don’t Deposit Opinions~ November 12, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:20 am
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“What’s the matter, Emma?”

I had just picked up the last of my school kids yesterday and my typically chatty, smiley girl was sulking.

“Nothing.”

I lowered the rear view mirror so I could quickly lock eyes with her.

“Emma, we all can tell something is wrong so just spill it.”

“Susie Q called me stupid!” (Name changed 😉)

“Well, are you stupid?”

“NO!!”

“Of course you’re not, so why does it matter what she said? Baby, just because someone said something about you doesn’t make it true.”

And that seemed to be enough for my girl. She was right back to her normal self, not giving another thought to the opinion of one of her peers. That’s when it hit me, how many times have I sulked over something someone said to or about me?

We all have had someone be the opposite of nice to us. Someone’s called you a name, spread a rumor about you, sent you a nasty-gram and in the spirit of total honesty, you’ve been the guilty party as well, I know I have. Some of you blessed souls out there genuinely seem to have the ability to let it roll right off your back while others really struggle with letting opinions take root. I’m somewhere in the middle, depending on the offender and the depth of “meanness,” I can either shrug it off or take it to heart. When it comes to what others think about you, you have a choice, save it in your memory bank or delete it.

While I do think it’s wise to give thought to what others say about you, brief thought that is, I do not believe it’s healthy to let it alter how you see yourself. My husband, wise man that he is, once shared this little nugget of truth with me when I was seriously damaged goods because of another’s words, “Who you are is defined by how you live and how God sees you. People’s opinions, although worth considering at times, are not the final definition.”

Words hurt, friends, I get that. It is impossible to control what others say so it is up to us to guard our hearts and minds from such things. smile

 

 

~Weakened By Grace~ July 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:19 am
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Over the last few weeks, our praise team has been sitting down in between services and sharing bits of our testimonies with the group. It’s been incredible to hear the diversity in our backgrounds and yet God has placed us together to serve Him in one accord.

During this process, I’ve been reminded once again of the importance of sharing your story with others.

aa656b0df16cf04f58ca212c0ba41bcdFor just a moment, think of your church from the perspective of a newcomer. When they come through the door, they’re met with smiling greeters & a hospitality team 
serving up a delicious cup of coffee. From there, they enter the sanctuary where the worship team leads the congregation in songs about God’s grace & redemptive power followed by the Pastor bringing a word that is simultaneously corrective & uplifting. Service draws to a close and the altars open for prayer. They watch from their seat as people kneel to pray and the prayer team moves in to intercede on the behalf of others.  As they leave the building, their mind fills with insecurities. “I can’t fit in here, everyone has it all together & I am a mess.”

But when you share your testimony, people are allowed to see where you came from to reach where you are right now. It shows the hand of God in your life & gives a new hope for theirs. 

I will say this, sharing your testimony can be exhausting.

This last Sunday was my turn to speak to the table and after 10 minutes, I was spent. Not because I am still bound by my past, quite the contrary. When I share what God has brought me through, the realization of His restoration in my life makes me weak, every single time. I am overwhelmed at the number of times He protected me, before I knew Him or had any desire to seek Him.

“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”- and I am the worst of them all. BUT GOD had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16 NLT)

 

~Fight or Flight, What He Says~ July 1, 2014

*Guest blogger…my husband! After my post last week ,Fight or Flight, I asked him to share from his side of the struggle. Our transparency with you is for two simple reasons, that those who are struggling right now will see they are not alone & that if there was hope for us, there is certainly hope for you too! Now, meet Jamie.*

Recently, we have had to take a real hard look at our marriage.  For quite some time, we had been teetering on the edge of disaster.  I love my wife and I have since day one.  She is an awesome woman and a wonderful mother. As you all know, she is always putting others before herself.  So what could have possibly been the problem?  I think to put it very simply, we didn’t know how to talk to each other…especially me!  I can’t speak for her but, here is my perspective.

I realized she was an amazing person immediately.  She had some issues but, I had some pretty substantial ones myself.  I was just coming out of a really nasty marriage when I met Valerie.  I was an emotional wreck.  Betrayed, rejected, and alone with two small children….she swooped in and saved me.  Loneliness, heartache, and worthlessness were all washed away when she came into the picture.  She saved us.  She became an important part of our lives immediately, even while we were just dating.  It was like a fairy tale…only the princess saved the prince.

Looking back now, I can see that I thought she was the cure- all for my problems.  She was the answer I needed to fix my life and the lives of my kids.  She didn’t seem to have a problem with that.  She took over. Taking care of the kids, doing everything a good Mom does.  She was amazing and the kids looked to her as Mom almost immediately.  I was just awestruck at how great everything had turned out.  I really felt so blessed to have her in our lives.  I was so awestruck that I looked at her as superhuman.  I put her on a pedestal in my heart…one that she never asked to be on.  It is very good to have a high opinion of your wife but, I went a little too far.  I put way too much stock in how she treated me from one moment to the next.  I did not allow her to have a moment of weakness without somehow thinking I had done something wrong and she was upset with me.

Soon, the family started growing, she became more involved with their school, and my work schedule became ridiculously hectic.  Our time together began to dwindle, and what time we did have was spent with me watching her sleep.  I began to grow bitter.  I refused to see just how busy she was in life and focused only on the fact that she didn’t have time for me.  Caught in my selfishness, I allowed a distance to grow between us.  Eventually this distance made a major impact on our intimacy.  It was at this point that my mind began to play tricks on me…reminding me of how the last relationship went. Recalling that a lack of intimacy is a sure sign that either she is seeing someone else or that she wants to be seeing someone else.  I was still carrying so much baggage from the last go around, that I couldn’t bear the thought of it happening again….especially with this woman.  She was the best…if I couldn’t make it with her, then I was doomed to be forever alone.  I didn’t know what to do so, I did nothing.  I just locked everything up inside and hoped no one would notice.  Instead of this feeling going away, it grew into a hideous beast of anger, distrust, anxiety, and frustration.  I was mad.  I was mad at her for not being able to read my mind and know how to fix this.  I was mad at me for not having the courage to stand up and make a change.  I was just mad at life.

Eventually the anger began to work its way out.  It started small with sarcasm and mumbling under my breath.  Eventually it became worse.  I started watching programs and movies full of violence, language, and yes, even nudity.  Somehow watching this junk allowed a little release of the pressure building inside my broken heart.  I justified my actions by reminding myself that these are just guy movies…as long as there isn’t an “X” in the rating box, it’s not a problem. I was terribly wrong.  Not only was it reeking  havoc in my heart, it made a huge impact on hers.  Let me say this to all the fellas out there.  My wife is gorgeous.  She is one of the most beautiful creations God has made.  What I was watching had nothing to do with her.  I have always, and will always find her extremely attractive but, when your wife sees you looking at another woman inappropriately; it sends the same shock as you telling her she is fat and ugly!!!!   There were other explosions of anger that occurred throughout this time.  Most I was able to let out away from my family but, not all.  I have never put my hands on my wife in anger.  But, in her mind, these eruptions were just as bad.

So we were able to walk through these situations through the grace of God.  But, I wasn’t able to get over any of this.  Not only was I still dealing with the lack of affection and connection…now I’m dealing with the guilt of hurting the person I care the most about.  Once again…I was a wreck.  My self-worth had bottomed out and I began to think that maybe, just maybe she would be better off with someone who didn’t have so many issues.  I didn’t know what else to do.  Because of the mistakes I had made, I felt that I had destroyed any chance of fixing this thing.  I felt she would never forgive me, even though she said she had.  We had moments of fun, moments of joy, moments of tenderness….but, there just was a connection that was missing.

Finally, after 7 years we were able to sit down and open up.  It was a God moment.  She told me what she had struggled with and I opened up about some of my struggles…we began talking again.  For far too long, we did not take the time to share who we were and what we wanted. I just assumed she knew me and knew how to make me happy.  If one of us would have made an attempt at any time, I believe this would be a much different story.  The truth is, neither one of us wanted to be that vulnerable.  As she stated in her last post, we BOTH lived in the state of reaction.

So what does all this mean? Here is my advice to all those reading.  We all want to be loved.  The kicker is that the expression of love takes on different forms for different people.  It is important to learn who your spouse is and express your love to them in ways they can see and understand as being love.  Be understanding of each other.  Even now, looking back at all these situations we have been through, I do not see every one of them in the same light that she does.  So who is right?  If I want to help her heal, then I need to look at it from her eyes.  If she wants to help me heal, she needs to understand my perspective.  Marriage is about loving in spite of and loving through.  We may never see things exactly the same.  “No big deal” to her, may be monumental to me or vice versa.  TALK to each other.  Don’t assume to know what your better half is thinking and, likewise, do not assume that they know what you are thinking. Life is difficult. Marriage is hard. Do not make it harder by walking separately.

My final thought is this.  The entire time that we have been married, we have been surrounded by some amazing and wonderful people who would have been happy to help us at any time.  I was too embarrassed to ask!!!  God has put people in each of our lives for this very reason.  We are supposed to call on our brothers and sisters in our times of need.  And believe me, we were in need.  Your relationship is far more precious than your pride.  This is the type of situation where you have to choose one or the other because you will not be able to keep both your pride and your spouse.

There is so much more to share but, I have given all I can for now.  I am so thankful for my wife.  And the relationship we have struggled to build.  Is it perfect? Nope. Do we have it all figured out? Not hardly.  But, we are here together.  My reason for sharing this story is for this one purpose:  I hope that it will speak to someone who is at their wits end in their marriage, and maybe give a little strength to hold on.  I think that in my marriage, somehow, at some point, a wall had been constructed between us.  I don’t know who built it, when it was built, or why…but, it was there.  My prayer is that if you find yourself sitting beside a pile of bricks with a mortar trowel in your hand, stop! Ask yourself, “ am I really ready to block this path?”  Once that wall is built, it is extremely difficult to tear down.  Not every relationship can be saved ,but, maybe, if you try again, yours can.  Right now, we are tearing down some walls…brick by brick, by brick.Good Marriage

 

~Soul Pep Talk~ May 20, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:53 am
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Does anyone besides me pay particular attention to people’s faces as you cross paths?  Whether it be driving past on the roads or brushing by in the grocery store, I am always drawn to people’s expressions…more specifically, their eyes.

It is quite true that the eyes are the window to one’s soul.  Someone may plaster on the most convincing smile but if you look beyond the pearly whites, you see something else entirely. I know personally that when I am attempting to “hide” my emotions, I won’t make eye contact for too long for fear that someone will see the truth.  Allowing people to see what’s behind that smile would mean having to deal with the junk that you are trying desperately to repress.

I often pass people in close proximity in our town because the roads are narrow and the traffic moves relatively slow.  This morning, as I neared an intersection, a lady coming from the opposite direction caught my attention.  I didn’t know her, didn’t recall seeing her before, but her face gripped my heart.  You could see the anguish in her expression.  I locked eyes with her as we passed and tossed her a smile.  She made a halfhearted effort to smile back but the truth was still in her eyes.  Immediately the words of Psalm 42 came to mind, “Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?”  This lady was hurting.  It is highly unlikely that I will ever know what was causing such distress in her life but how many times have I seen a similar look in the eyes of someone I can reach and chose to look the other way?  How many times have I been the one attempting to hide behind a phony grin?

The next verse from Psalm 42 speaks directly to the soul, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my savior and my God.”  How I wish I could have conveyed that message to the unknown woman at the intersection of 4th & Monroe.  But since I cannot, let me speak to your soul & mine.

Regardless of what is causing the sadness in your eyes, we have a hope that surpasses all understanding.  Let your soul find rest in the peace that comes from knowing that the God of angel armies is always working towards your best interest.  He will make a way in the wilderness.  He will provide when the resources have run dry.  He will bring clarity when your mind has you frustrated & confused.  He will take the shattered pieces of your heart and make it whole again.  He longs to see your soul restored and the glimmer return to your eyes, that’s how deep His love for you runs.

Be kind to yourself today and if the opportunity presents itself, share a soul pep talk with someone who may need it even more than you or they may realize.4037a947ef493dca6300b14eb9eb0fe7