I don’t know about you, but there have been a few times my slightly-introverted husband would rather have his teeth pulled without Novocain than sit for hours engaging in small talk with strangers.  Now don’t get me wrong, most people would never know this about him because he is such a natural conversationalist. He’s the king of chitchat, always ready with an entertaining story to tell. He’s always the one person at the table of eight who can draw the entire group into an interesting conversation, never leaving anyone out.  He truly does enjoy it, but sometimes it seems to exhaust him.

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I’ve never been very good at long-distance relationships. I often cringe when my phone rings, no matter who is calling. I can take days, weeks, or even months to return a call or even a text from a friend I haven’t spoken to in a while. And often, when I finally bring myself to reach out, I feel angst throughout the conversation, even if it is a pleasant one.

Based on these reactions, you might think, “She must not enjoy interacting with people or think relational engagement is that important.

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“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” 
Acts 9:1-5

At times, counseling biblically will put us at odds with our counselees. Some will not want to hear the truths of Scripture. Ears that have been tuned to follow the melodies moving our culture will be set on edge by the counter song sung throughout Scripture. We should not be surprised when our counselees are offended by what we offer. It is, perhaps, one of the more salient evidences that we are being like Christ as He both comforted and confronted in His ministry and was ultimately put to death as a result.

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A chicken “ain’t no” eagle.

Chickens are always looking down, cackling, while pecking around on the ground eating whatever they can find. It always amazed me that chickens can cackle and stuff their beaks at the same time! When they’re out of chicken feed, they move on to dirt and bugs. They’ll even eat their own—well you get the picture.

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Proverbs 18:13 – He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.

While we may understand why speaking before listening—giving our opinion without first gathering the facts—is folly, it is interesting that the ancient writer would suggest that speaking before listening is shameful. Why is neglecting to listen shameful? Conversely, how does listening to a person bestow honor?

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Rejection—it’s so personal. It sticks to our souls. It does not respond to reason, and is not easily dislodged from our hearts. We can try to talk ourselves out of the indictment that comes with it, but the words we use are mostly ineffective, reinforcing our shame. I have experienced all sorts of rejection. I still feel the sting of certain family members not ever returning my phone calls and good friendships that are no more. I have heard things like, “you are not a good fit for our small group” or “since you homeschool, we didn’t think you’d fit in with us.” These words pierce. There is a finality about them. They do not leave room for further conversations.

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You’ve probably heard the saying, “Love makes the world go around.” But if that’s true, why is it so hard to find love? You may long to be loved, but you probably also struggle with knowing whether or not you are worth loving. You desire deep friendships but also struggle to love others who are different from you. Why is it so hard to love? Why is it so hard to be loved? Is the love we’re yearning for real, or is it merely a romantic notion that can only be found in movies or novels?

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Popular speaker and author Nicole Johnson highlights some of the challenges she’s faced – including being stressed out as a crazy-busy mom and losing her relationship with a long-time, dear friend – and describes how these experiences taught her to find inner calm and healing with God’s help.

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What I’ve come to understand is that for you to rejoice over some of the challenges you face in life, you need to maintain a banked fire of joy. That fire is up to the task of warming your heart at all times and perfectly capable of exploding in fireworks at others. In order to keep the fire going, you need to offer up all the experiences of your life for joy to consume — the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the understood and the inexplicable. Just as Pollyanna’s father taught her to play the “glad game,” God calls us to play the “joy game,” which is really no game at all. Rather, it is a way of intentionally responding to circumstances, regardless of the circumstances.

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John Baillie, in his book A Diary of Private Prayer, wrote this: “Grant that my part in this world’s life today might not be to obscure the splendor of your presence but rather to make it more plainly visible in the eyes of men.” I fear that we as the body of Christ today are doing much to obscure the splendor of the presence of God in our midst. I have been reading Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and been struck by their relevance to the present day church.

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