Yielding Your Right Away

May 28, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

Once again, I find myself learning important lessons in this laboratory of life called the family. When I was a young mother, I knew children were God’s way of revealing my impurities and bringing me to my knees. But that was before adolescence. Those years were about running the race of endurance, perseverance, and prayer.

Now that my children are young adults, two married and one a parent, I think I imagined personal growth through my family was over for me. Well, I was wrong.

I just finished Beth Moore’s Bible Study on James. One of the lessons from that study was “ to yield your right away.” It’s all part of one of James’ major themes on proving to others that your faith matters, being a doer of the Word.

Picture the red and white yield sign on the frontage road helping to control traffic and prevent collisions. I’ve seen cars completely ignore those signs and I’ve been guilty of it too. If I think I can beat the other car, I’ll put my foot to the pedal and speed up.

That’s not Beth Moore’s idea of yielding the right away according to James. True to His way, God has given me several opportunities to learn this lesson. At 58, I still am not thrilled about growth opportunities. It’s just not natural. And I suspect that is the point.

My daughter and son-in-law came to town for a visit. It was suppose to be my Mother’s Day celebration with them. Prior to their arrival, my daughter and I had talked about plans for the weekend, both of us conferring together. Saturday the guys were going to play golf and the girls got to shop. We were having lunch at the club before that.

Lunch came and the plans shifted completely. After playing in a work golf tournament, my son-in-law was not sure he wanted to play golf, at least not eighteen holes. So after much discussion between the men, eighteen holes of golf changed to possibly nine later in the afternoon. Lunch was now at a local Mexican food place.

After lunch, we returned home and the guys are still discussing their plans. Suddenly golf was out and, consequently, so was shopping. My son-in-law wanted us all to hang out. I think he really wanted to be with his wife. Up popped that red and white yield sign.

I had a choice. By all rights, it was my Mother’s Day celebration. “Yield your right way,” the voice in my head said. When I saw that yield sign in my head and heard these words, “a sign of wisdom from God is to yield your right away,” I knew this was a God moment. I could choose to be a doer of the Word or just a reader of it. Praise God I did not put my pedal to the medal but yielded my rights away.

I’ve decided that’s what being an “in-law” is all about-yielding my right away. This is a new family member interrupting the “family system.” I can compete for control or yield, whether or not the yield sign is for me or not. In doing so, I prevent a collision, openly or behind closed doors. In doing that this time, we had a restful, relaxed afternoon watching a movie before going to dinner

It’s not natural for me this yielding. I take the lead in making plans. I look forward to experiencing what is planned. I learned though that those plans, being in the right, having it my way, means nothing in the light of being a doer of God’s Word.

“But the wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere” (James 3:17 NIV).

Cutting the Unbiblical Cord

By Diane Mayfield –

I never dreamed giving our daughter away in marriage would be so difficult for me emotionally. It has been. I’ve struggled with this reality for almost two years. The gap between my intellect and my emotions on this leg of life’s journey has been expansive.

My daughter is an intelligent, spunky, outgoing, lovely young woman who married a great guy that we all enjoy and love. They are creating their own life together as husband and wife. Hooray! This was always our dream for her, part of our equipping her for God’s plan. I rejoice in this and praise God for what He’s done in allowing my husband and me parent this delightful young woman.

So, what’s the problem?

The problem is that my heart isn’t where my mind is. After thirty years of being a big priority in this woman’s life, I am second fiddle and it hurts. I know, I know. This is what I parented her for. I’m trying, but until today, my efforts were not succeeding. I’m weary of the battle. I’ve struggled with feelings of betrayal, loneliness, rejection, disappointment and anger. I misinterpret many things because I’m reading them through eyes that are blinded in so many ways.

A few weekends ago, I was hurt once again. I was horribly hurt and tired of it. I made assumptions and started telling myself untruths. I created quite a story inside my head, leaving my stomach in one big knot. The chatter in my head went something like this. “Well, I failed. I attempted to build in family values but they are not there. I don’t matter. I’m nothing.” The assumptions and lies went on and on until I was sliding into a deep hole of darkness. After venting to God and my husband, maybe not in that order, I moved on with the day.

Then I saw a cord-like image in my mind floating in the air. It was an umbilical cord. An umbilical cord provides support and sustenance between the mother and the baby until the baby can sustain life on its own. What I had created in my imagination was an “unbiblical cord” between my daughter and me. It was time for surgery.

I surrendered that day to God, the Master Surgeon. He cut away the emotional “unbiblical cord” that I wanted to maintain. I might have moments when I try to reattach it out of my fear and loneliness but I am certain the Holy Spirit will remind me of the surgery performed this day. The only umbilical cord I need now is the biblical one. It’s the one that connects me to God through Jesus.

Then came new vision. While rocking my six-month-old grandson, God opened my eyes to the woman my daughter had become. In my mind’s eye I saw my darling daughter delighting in her nephew as she played with him. She bent down to soothe his tears when he cried. No longer did I see my daughter, but a young woman, truly separate from me. In that dark room, rocking that precious child, light came to my blinded eyes.

With the “unbiblical cord” gone, I can now enjoy a different connection with a beautiful young woman who just happens to be my daughter. A different bond is forged between two separate children of God.

I hesitated to share this story with you. I do so because I suspect someone else might be going through the same thing but feeling too embarrassed to admit it. I never dreamed I would find the reverse “leaving and cleaving” so hard. One of you might be in that place too. If so, my hope for you is through the gentle work of the Master surgeon and healer you too will have the “unbiblical cord” cut. Then you and your family member or friend can start a new journey, separate, but joined together in a new relationship.

Unbridled Joy in Community

March 9, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

I am filled with joy today, filled to overflowing.

I asked God what to write about this month. I presented Him with several options, such as sitting in the hospital waiting room with my dear friend and sister in Christ while her forty-two-year-old daughter underwent breast cancer surgery.

Other options flooded my thoughts as I talked with God. I could write about my girls’ trip to the beach. Six Christ followers talking, laughing, praying and crying with each other over a four day trip. We were brought together by our love for movies and the Savior—not in that order I hope.

A third option was to write about standing with my sister as she goes through the process of ending a twenty-four- year marriage.

One other choice is the joy of planning a wedding shower for a friend I’ve known for thirty-three years. At times she questioned whether she would ever know the joy of her daughter finding a life companion. What an answer to prayer!

Which one of these, Lord, do I write about? Pondering as I often do, I was aware of the feeling of abundant joy and peace in the midst of my quandary. Why? What about all of these options produced such a response?

It’s the joy of Christian community. For years I’ve prayed for a real sense of Christian community, a sense of Christian family. I wanted the real, authentic kind where you are so different, but you love each other anyway. It’s sharing the nitty gritty of daily living life together, not just saying hello or shaking hands on Sunday morning.

What God has given to me now is not because of my children’s activities, though when I was raising my children, I deeply valued those friendships, or my husband’s work or even my work. These are relationships based solely on Jesus. He is the starting point.

What’s so overwhelming is that I never dreamed at this stage of life, an empty nester and grandmother, I’d have the joy of new relationships in Jesus as well as the treasured friendships of years past. I am richly blessed by His gift of this Christian community.

So, whether it’s praying with a small group family enduring a life-altering accident with their grandson or the joy of a much prayed for and highly anticipated wedding, Christian community provides an abundance of joy. It’s a blessing and a privilege to be involved in others’ lives at each turn of the journey.

As I sat in the hospital waiting room at MD Anderson Cancer Center with my dear friend, we ate, we talked, we laughed, we walked and most of all, we just waited. The waiting seemed to last forever. When it was unbearable, we prayed. Then the surgeon came out and said the words we longed to hear. “All went very well. There is no cancer in the lymph nodes.” Then we cried and hugged and rejoiced.

So, today, when I think through all these events, and these are just a few, I am filled with joy. My life is abundant because of the Christian family God has given me. For me it is the richest of blessings

“Thank you, my Lord, for the incomparable gifts of your riches that I experience in this dear Christian family.”

Lessons Learned from Downton Abbey

February 23, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

Diane Mayfield –

I’m obsessed with Downton Abbey. I cannot get my mind off it. While I was sick, I watched Seasons I, II, and even III, non-stop. I love the clothes, the glamour, and the big house. I love the downstairs drama and the upstairs drama. I think about the characters constantly. I’m even having conversations with them in my dreams.

For those who are not familiar with the English drama presented by Masterpiece theatre, here’s a short summary. Downton Abbey, located just outside London, is the inherited estate of Lord and Lady Grantham and their three adult daughters. It has been in the family for generations. The story revolves around the lives of the upstairs aristocratic Grantham’s and the downstairs family of servants that care for them and the home. I hate to admit it, but I long to be part of the aristocracy.

Finally, I had to confess to Jesus my obsession. It was actually interfering with my conversations with Him. I just had to get it all out on the table. It seems so wrong to be focused on such worldly, temporary concerns, and to want a life of elitism. This is what He showed me.

After my confession, in His forever-gentle way, He helped me to see what eternal value I could glean from my obsession with this show.

In Jesus, I am an aristocrat. I am the daughter of a king and not just any king, the King of Kings. He has built a place for me, a mansion, just like Downton Abbey is a mansion. Lord Grantham didn’t gain Downton Abbey by his own hard work. He was born into it and inherited it. I too will inherit my eternal home not by works but by faith in the blood of my Lord.

My pastor even drove this home yesterday when speaking about who we were created to be in the beginning. According to him, we were created “kings of the earth, to rule over all God’s creation” until Adam made a wrong choice, ate from the apple and sin entered the world. Now we live on this earth as tillers of the soil and not kings and queens, not yet anyway.

At one point in the show, Lord Grantham says how he views his responsibilities as the Lord of the Manor. He is the custodian of Downton Abbey. His job is to care for it and provide for those who depend upon it for their livelihood. I too am a custodian of all I have been given, which includes spiritual gifts and talents as well as material blessings. Most importantly, I am a vessel of God’s love and grace, a reflection of His image on earth. I have a responsibility to pass all this on to those God has entrusted to my care and whomever He brings into my life.

So, there’s no need for lusting or obsessing about this show. Instead, it is a vision of who I am in Jesus and a picture of where I will be for all eternity, serving my King in the place He prepares for me.

There is one aspect of the show that I am ashamed I don’t long for. I’m not lusting for the downstairs life of the servants. Their clothes are simple, their rooms are sparse, and their lives are not their own. They live to serve the upstairs family. They show deep respect for the aristocracy and acceptance of their position in life. I can certainly learn from such devotion.

The next time I sit down to watch this masterful production, hopefully my focus won’t just be on the promise of the Downton Abbey to come, but also on the servant’s heart demonstrated by the downstairs people. After all, my Lord did come to serve and not be served.

God, help me to be as you are, to focus on serving others while hoping for the promise of what’s to come.

Real Love Found Me

January 24, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

I was a lonely, shy little girl longing to feel loved and wanted by someone. I often fantasized about belonging to a large family where I was the only girl. In that fantasy, all my brothers adored me. Of course, the fantasy didn’t last, so I was left in loneliness when it ended.

In my early elementary school years, I discovered that making really good grades won me a special place as Teacher’s Pet. So that became my goal. I set out at the beginning of the school year to win that place in each teacher’s heart. In that I could feel loved.

In junior high, I found there was an “in” group and worked hard to belong to the group, thinking that would give me the sense of being loved. At the same time, boys started paying attention to me. My world came alive with the thrill of boyfriends and popularity. It didn’t seem to bother me that I had to work hard to keep up these positions. I had no idea there was an unconditional love freely given if I just opened my eyes and believed.

As one might expect, looking for love in relationships with boys often led to self-destructive and abusive relationships. What I thought was love was not love at all. God in His goodness would use that path to later introduce me to true love.

At that time in my life, I made unwise choices. One choice in particular brought me to the end of myself. I needed forgiveness but I wasn’t really sure how to find it. Growing up Catholic, I was taught the way to forgiveness was by confessing to a priest. So, in my senior year in college, I went to a priest. I told him my story and my need for forgiveness.

He told me, and rightly so, that I didn’t really understand my faith and suggested that I take a class being offered to learn about it. I did.

One evening a laywoman came to the class and lead us in how to get alone with God. She took us through what I later understood to be a visualization exercise. It went like this. Imagine that you are in some quiet place. I imagined myself on a grassy green hillside overlooking water. Then she suggested that you see Jesus coming to you. What would you say to Him? I did just that. I saw in my mind Jesus walking to me with His hand outstretched to me. I took His hand and asked Him, “Why did you die for me?” His answer was, “Because I love you.”

I walked out that night and knew Jesus was real, living, and my friend. More importantly, I knew I was loved and I found a place I belonged, right in Jesus’ arms.

Later in my new life, I learned it was not by my efforts that I found Jesus. He was wooing me all that time that I was going the wrong way. He never let go. Now that is true love. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NIV).

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