spiritual gifts

Without Love

When I first ran up against the spiritual gift of prophecy I had this image in my mind of the prophets of the bible. Or my Americanized version of grizzled men who were at turns angry and depressed. Men who beat their chests and ranted at the people, spouting words of judgement. Who wants that? Not I.

This is part of what I was running from when I ran from myself. I was already a melancholy soul. I didn’t need visions  of destruction and despair driving me deeper toward depression. Never mind that when I “saw” people, while I might not always see their best sides, I always saw them with a layer of grace. I can only attribute that to God because my nature was to judge and to use what I saw to build up my own self esteem. Looking back, I wasn’t secure enough in myself and my relationship with God to truly embrace the prophetic. I didn’t love myself. I couldn’t fully love others. And without love, all the other spiritual gifts are just noise. That’s what I Corinthian’s 13 taught me.

One of the first lessons I learned from Claire was that a seer must love people. It took a while for that to sink in and wasn’t really put to the test until I had to apply what I was learning to my mother-in-law. Isn’t it funny how it’s usually from our relationships with family that we truly start to see our own growth points?

I don’t have an easy relationship with my MIL. I wish I did. I do love her and she has her strengths. I have learned about dreaming big and a strong work ethic from my MIL. But there has been something that has never been quite right between us. She is different around me then she is around my husband. Passive aggressive. Laying claim on my husband and all that she perceives belongs to him in subtle and not so subtle ways. I’m never restful around her. And yet she presents a very different face to my husband and his siblings. To everyone else.

For the longest time I thought it was me. That I was the one who was off in our relationship so I tried harder to love her and to see only the good in her. I made excuses for her behavior. She was lonely. She had been hurt, likely victimized growing up. She had low self-esteem. I compensated. Some of this compensation was to allow my husband to stay stuck in unhealthy patterns and to put pieces of my marriage on the line.

What I didn’t realize was that the nudges and the unease was part of my gift. I was seeing her true self and God was telling me there was something wrong. He was urging me to pray, but I had numbed myself to the prophetic so that all I knew was that I saw someone very different than everyone else did. This is a risk I’m learning about this particular spiritual gift. I see the world through a different lens.

When there was a death in the family I was filled with an unease that bordered on panic. I did what I usually do. I prayed. And I called Claire. I prayed for love and to see clearly. God spoke to Claire and gave her a vision of a hen trying to be a peacock. A woman who wanted to be the center of attention, to be the epicenter of her family. We both got the sense that there would be bad behavior from my MIL the weekend of the funeral and we both felt strongly that the most loving thing to do was for me to pray for eyes to be opened so her children could start to see her true self. See the bad behavior that has always existed in a way that they could no longer ignore it or overcompensate for it.

This doesn’t sound loving, but it is. I’ll tell you why. My MIL has borderline personality disorder. She has not allowed her children to differentiate from her. She has in a sense brainwashed them that certain behaviors are acceptable in her relationship with them. For her children to heal, they needed to see so they could ask questions, see her behavior superimposed against normal, positive behavior. For her to heal, she needs boundaries set by her children. They love her. They want relationship with her. But they won’t be able to grow to their full potential in their marriages, in themselves, if they do not address their mother’s mental illness.

So I prayed. I asked for grace and mercy. For eyes to be opened. For my mouth to be kept closed and my inclination to protect my husband to be numbed. I prayed for my MIL, that she would allow herself to be truly known by her children. That she would see God’s love in a new way. I prayed for God’s vision of her to replace my experience.

And in the end there was a breakthrough. There was bad behavior. There was questioning. There was a turning in my relationship with my husband.

What does this story have to do with the prophetic? It was time for a family to start down the road to acknowledgment healing and God needed me to hear this so I would take the information He gave me and hold my family in prayer. A prophet doesn’t always speak, but a prophet needs to have a relationship with God so she can discern a clear interpretation of the information God is sharing with her. And she needs to feel God’s love for people. If I hadn’t had that, I would have been so smug when my MIL starting behaving in such an outward manner no one could miss it. I would have felt self righteous. I may have even held this over my husband.

I was tempted. Oh, the times I was tempted. Instead, I prayed for a vision of love for her and her family so I could see what God sees. Without love, I wouldn’t care about the relationships or the pain. I certainly wouldn’t care about anyone’s journey of healing.

There may have been easier ways to learn this lesson, but as usual I’m pretty sure I was deaf to the more subtle messages God was giving me. So, instead of waiting any longer, God threw me into the deep end of the pool. Thankfully, I had a good friend and the Holy Spirit to help me swim.

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