home meetglynnis books speakingtopics resources contact

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

There are two things in the Christian life that are 100 times easier to say than do:  loving and forgiving others. 

Even though God is all about love, and we are the recipients of that extravagant love, why is it so hard to love or forgive some people? 

I've got a devotion running on Proverbs 31 and Crosswalk.com today about loving well.  Any time I write about the importance of loving others, it seem God tests me on it.  In fact, this seems to be one of the most common tests of my life.  God doesn't want me writing from a place of ease, but from a place of battle experience,  And this thing of loving and forgiving others feels like a battle at times. 

Getting along with people isn't my issue.  I get along with most everyone.  But that doesn't seem to be enough for God.  In fact, He's always pushing me past superficiality.  Actually, God cares so much about how I love others, that He has put a very difficult person to love in the middle of my life: my daughter.

This isn't something I write about often, partly because I don't want her to know the depth of my struggle.  But the Lord is prompting me to be vulnerable here.  So, I will leave this post up for a little while, then delete it so she never accidentally reads it years from now.  And trust God with this one.  So here's what you don't see from reading my blog. 

Five years ago, we adopted two little girls from Africa.  My husband and I clearly heard God's call to bring these beautiful children out of war-torn Liberia and into our home.  Our three boys were fully on board, and we started this journey with high hopes.  It didn't take long for the "honeymoon" to end.  At ages 8 and 10, our daughters were already damaged by their early lives.

Our oldest one, Cathrine, has cognitive damage, and will never catch up to girls her age.  We don't know what her future holds. Our youngest has emotional damage, which is actually more difficult to deal with.  It's this daughter who presents the daily challenge for me.  You see, because of early abandonment, my daughter doesn't trust adults.  This leads her to constantly choose her way over an adult's way, which manifests itself in lying, sneaking and generally betraying trust - daily.  Her responses are irrational, and her thought processes unhealthy.

Mentally I understand and have compassion.  We are in therapy now, and are learning how to parent a child with what is called Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Emotionally, I struggle.  At times it feels like God plopped an enemy in the middle of my camp.  It's hard to sacrifice so much of your life for a child who offers back rejection and deception.  It's painful to see what it does to our entire family - and I balance feelings of protectiveness for everyone else   There have been many days when I've cried, "Why did you do this to me? Haven't I served you faithfully?  Why didn't I get an easier assignment???"

That's when I realize I've got things mixed up.  God didn't do anything to me.  Instead, God entrusted me with two broken children who need love and care.  And it wasn't a random selection - it was intentional.   My strong-willed little girl could have steam-rolled over lots of other women.  But she met a brick wall in her mama. 

Every day I stand with my feet firmly planted and choose to believe God's truth over my own emotional responses.  And I make a choice to love a little girl who is hard to love.  But I'll be honest ... my emotions don't always match my decision.  I don't feel "loving" at times.  But I will not let my negative emotions dictate my choices - especially when they would lead me into a life not blessed by God. 

I've got a long way to go in learning how to love those who are hard to love.  I'm in full battle mode.  Please don't think I've got this figured out.  There are days I go to bed berating myself for how I reacted to her.  That's when I confess it all to God, every ugly thought, and ask for forgiveness, and plead for His help to love one who is hard to love. 

So, now you know one of my biggest struggles.  Can you be just as vulnerable? Are you dealing with someone who is hard to love?  Or, have you learned some things that could help the rest of us?   I'd love to hear your thoughts.

In His Love,



Kendra Cameron-Jarvis said...


As I was reading your blog today, I felt so connect to what you were saying.

My husband and I started out on the same page. We met in college at the Baptist Student Union, taught Sunday School together in the Baptist Church and I thought that was what our life was to be...serving together. God had other plans. My husband met a gut at work who was Orthodox and my husband was drawn in immediately. For the past 8 years I have been in a battle to get my husband back and repeatedly he has chosen this ritual based religion over me and our family. This week we finally had a long talk. We were considering divorce and I knew in my heart it was wrong. I clearly felt God telling me to let go-that I couldn't fix this. I realized I had been kicking and screaming and clawing at my husband for the past 8 years to come back to me and to God because I was scared of losing him and you know what...I lost him. God told me to let go. I couldn't fix this...but He could. I told my husband to go to the Orthodox church if he wanted-knowing how I felt. Nothing had really changed but our perspective. We are going to a Christian counselor. That night I asked him to pray with me. He couldn't. He needed to read a written prayer and couldn't pray from his heart. So I prayed for him and for us and for our marriage. I feel hope for the first time in 8 years. I understand now that this is the "thing" God put me here for. My work is to love my husband back to God...and with God's help I believe all things are possible. The same power that God used to resurrect Lazarus from the dead, He will use to resurrect our dead marriage. I just have to walk in faith like you are doing and do it everyday.

God Bless You,

Karen said...

Wow! I woke this morning after reacting in my own home! I don"t know how I got here. I went straight to your devotional, which lead me here. Wow, I'm so lost between reaction and fear. So my prayer this day is that He will strengthen us and lead us through this journey.

I know I can also ask that He would preform miracles in both our homes and hope.

In Jesus name,

Anonymous said...

I have been praying and then worrying about work. I want God to be glorified, but then I also, have not taken action, and I want to do that this time - IF it is God's will. It keeps coming back to "loving". Like Kendra, I was in a dead marriage, and I prayed that God would ressurect it. I know that God can and will pray that God will for Kendra.

Mine ended in divorce. Am I lovingly non-confrontational, or am I full of fear and hanging on to some insecurities. He's been gone for two years and his clothes are still hanging in the closet - I have asked nicely for him to come and get them, but my "niceness" has resulted in them still being there.

My boss has dismissed me and other employees. It was not right. I feel a need to stand up and file a greivance, but then again, how do you do this lovingly.

So today I read your blog and feel more encouraged to speak less, love more, give it to God and have Him take the rest.

Thank you to everyone that has posted. The Christian life is not always so easy or clear cut, but this blog meant the world to me. I know God listens.

Anonymous said...

Your story touched a nerve in me. My daughter and soninlaw have converted to Orthodoxy. It has been very difficult foe me as my daughter and I were very close. It is as if her husband has brainwashed her! I an heartbroken and I have been interceding for 3years now.From those prayers the Lord has brought them home to Charlotte.It is a difficult road and I am not sure how to proceed as their children.my grandchildren ages 7,5,3,and 9 months are not "allowed to come to church with us. and their father told them that I,Mimi, do not worship God! Please talk to me as you are the first person that I have ever come across that has spoken about this. Everyone else that I have talked to really does not have a clue how this is such a legalistic man made religion that isolates and condems others who are not orthodox.

Anonymous said...

I normally do not go to my online devotionals first, but today I clicked on it and now I sit here in tears. I am a woman in ministry. My mother did not show me love at all, in fact, she is distanced from me now.
I went through the devotion, wrote the prayer in my journal and read I Cor. 13 as if I never have before. I wept and prayed for God to change my heart toward "my person".
Then, I clicked over to your blog. I was shocked when you said it was your daughter, because that is mine also.
She is 15 and I struggle with our relationship. I pray about it all the time. I have no idea how to change this. When I found out I was having a girl, I was scared, knowing that I had no idea how to relate to a daughter.
Do you have any suggestions for helping to break down a wall that I have in this area?
Thank you for being honest about your person.I have been convicted for months about this.

Shelia said...

Thank you for being so real and honest...it truly helps us to realize there is a real human being on the other side of this devotional who is just like us...in need of a Savior. I pray for you, your daughter and your family. I do not fully understand your struggles but can relate to a degree i suppose. My 7 yr old son is a very lovable boy but also very strong willed and at times can be on the evil side with his actions and words. We are to the point we are getting calls from the teacher at school. I'm not trying to 'duck' out of parenting but I truly have just given it to God and asking HIS wisdom on how to handle this situation. Parenting is the hardest thing I've ever done. My older two are just beginning the tween years and oh goodness i don't know if this mama's heart can handle it all. As a single mom it can be beyond overwhelming but I know God has a plan so daily I chose to trust Him and let Him guide. Thank You and God bless.

Debbie said...

Thank you for sharing Glynnis. If we are all honest with ourselves, we ALL have people in our lives that are difficult to love, especially those in our homes. I live in an ADHD world (my husbnd, son, and daughter). My personality likes calm, quiet,and an orderly home.I totally understand reaction. I often beat myself up for my responses. I also have told God he has the wrong gal for this job! Yet as you said Glynnis, God has made no mistakes. He doesn't ask us to do anything that He won't equip us for. I hang on to those promises, take one day at a time, and cling to the verse "His strength is made perfect in my weakness...."

Glynnis Whitwer said...

To the two women dealing with Orthodox religion. If you would like to connect via email, please send me an email with your name, and a note saying you allow me to share it with each other. You can reach me at editor@proverbs31.org.

I'll be reading and praying over all comments today. I know this isn't an easy topic to deal with. Thank you for posting comments.

Anonymous said...

Kendra your words have touched my heart...
I've been struggling with trying to love my husband unconditionally, but I'm failing, miserably. We have only been married for 2 years and have a 15 month old. While I am saved, he is not. He attends church on occasion with me, but honestly I have not been the best example of Christ's daughter. My husband has an addiction problem that has recently caused alot of strife in our marriage. I'm holding onto a lot of anger and resentment towards him and his choices. I know that I should turn it over to God, but I just can't seem to. I just want to give up and get out now before I'm emotionally damaged any more. We are not teaching our daugther the true value of a God-lead marriage. How do I love my husband to God?

Kelly Langston said...

Once again, you have perfectly touched a sensitive spot in your Encouragement for Today devotion. It's all about love, love, love and so often I forget! You've written about the heart of ministry and service. Thanks, Glynnis. Keep 'em coming.

Anonymous said...


Reading your blog this morning was like a message straight to me. I have been struggling to love my step-son, and it has caused a wedge with my husband. It is a daily battle to deal with the disrespect, lies and deceit from a nineteen year old who is also developmentally challenged. I will be praying for you as well.



kbcrzy said...

Oh boy do I identify with you! Sometimes it is so much easier to love others that aren't in your family. I have been struggling with my relationship with my mom lately. I moved away after graduating from High School and have not had but a phone relationship with my mom since then. That has been 20 years and after moving to be near her because she told me that she was terminally ill and had only years to live, well it's been 7 yrs. since then! I feel manipulated by her and am working through that resentment of giving everything up to do so plus trying to deal with her making me feel guilty because Im not always at her beck and call. I try my best but its never good enough. How does one have a relationship with someone who uses guilty, manipulation and is jealous of everything your husband does for you? I love my mom but it gets to the point that I don't even like picking the phone up when she calls because I don't know what to expect from her. Is it going to be a pleasant conversation or does she just need a ride somewhere, or to complain about her neighbors or the other kids? She is 69 going on 120 these days, not wanting to drive herself to the store or even make a trip 8 miles to come visit me. Everyone is expected to come to her without any kind of effort on her part to be a part of our lives. We are to come to her and do for her. Sometimes and I really hate to say it... it would be easier if she would just go home to be with the Lord. That in itself makes me feel guilty because I do love her and want to honor her like the Lord asks us to do but some days it's just way too hard. And I find myself leaning on Him for the strength to continue in the relationship. Love.... it is hard when you do all you can and get no good feedback or response but I will continue to show her my love the best I can and that is all we can do. The Lord knows whats true in our hearts and that is to be like Jesus! May it be so! Amen

Mamita J said...

Hi. I'm Julie. I found your blog through a facebook friend.

You are not alone with this struggle. We adopted a girl from the hard places 2.5 years ago. It is a REAL lesson in unconditional love.

We are making real progress, and it is so amazing to see the real girl blossom. But, on the hard days, it's so easy to lose sight of hope.

Anyway, I blog about our experience and I'm willing to share what I've learned. I have read all the books and have gained a wealth of knowledge on trauma and kids. My favorite resources are from Dr. Karyn Purvis over at empoweredtoconnect.org. If you haven't seen or read her stuff, you should definitely check it out.

God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Your honesty is such a blessing. When I read your words I kept visualizing a farmer plowing a field with beautiful, uniform straight rows behind his tractor. He keeps them straight by looking at the horizon, not by looking down at the ground as he goes. Obviously you are a woman of God and you know all the scriptures about keeping you eye on the prize.... so as a mother of grown adult children, one of which is a daughter, I will offer this encouragement to you. Keep looking to God for your strength and direction. Stay obedient to his word and he will make the rows straight even though you cannot look down and see them that way. Your daughter will be an adult one day and your relationship with her will change. When this happened with me my daughter became a beautiful woman of God and a close friend. During her childhood years I did however, wonder if I would ever be able to say that. Now I long for just a quick moment to go back in time and hold her like I did when she was a child. The time goes by so quickly.
I will be praying for you and your blessed daughter. Her blessings began when God placed her in just the right home at just the right time, with just the right Mother.

Deb Clark said...


Reading this post I was struck by your statement "Every day I stand with my feet firmly planted and choose to believe God's truth over my own emotional responses." God immediately brought to mind Dylan and his painful wrestling match. It seems to me he has learned from his mama how to stand strong (literally). =D

Yes, you may fight the desire to protect your family/others from the difficulties caused by your daughter, but it seems that they are also learning much. God has brought this child into your family not only for her benefit, but for that of everyone in your family. He knew what was ahead when He set you ALL on this path and He prepared the way. He will lead.

The Lord redeems our difficulties to His glory. He promises to cause all things --ALL things-- to work together for good. It is to that promise I cling when I am battling my own difficult-to-love people, choosing, as you you say, to stand firm on God's promises rather than to act on my emotions.

My word for 2011 is "intention." At times I must intentionally choose to believe God's promises --to be answered in His timing and in His way-- and to ask Him for the strength to endure, knowing that He is working for His glory. This is the stuff that strengthens faith -- walking a dark path, unsure of the future, but trusting the One we follow. And it is also the stuff that He uses to make us more like Himself.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post and vulnerability in sharing.

With prayers for your daughter and family,

Anonymous said...


I am sending you a huge cyber hug today and praying GOD's grace and mercy all over your life and may HE give you the ability to stand firmly rooted and grounded in HIS deeply divine purpose for your life! May HE grant you the ability to see life through HIS eyes and experience the depth of HIS ability to love all even the unlovely?

I can relate much of what you have expressed in today's blog post.

I have two sons’ that are on the Autism spectrum. Things are well now in our home but there was a time that it was a struggle on an hourly basis with my younger son.

At this time in my life, I was far away from GOD and had been out of fellowship with HIM for a LONG time. This condition is a topic in and of itself but one better saved for some other time.

See, my younger son was the one with the behavior issues. On the ASD spectrum behaviors can be very intense.

Banging his head and putting it through walls, tearing up bedroom furniture, hitting and biting and my favorite poop smearing :-(

The poop smearing would occur up to 4 times a day! Do you know what my house smelled like?

Can you imagine how angry I was to have to clean the child, the area that this had occurred in over and over and over again?

This child during this period of time also did NOT sleep more than 2-3 hours each night.

So, I was not only worn-out emotionally, and mentally but also physically as well.

To boot, I was a single mom working long hours with two boys on the spectrum and honestly the heat and pressure of my home environment was so intense I actually went to the local mental health department and told them I needed therapy because I needed to be accountable for my feelings and to make sure I was still responding within the realm of what was acceptable.

Being that my son was not capable of entering into a conversation with me or anyone else that was meaningful. All of these emotions I had could not be worked-out with him directly.

Because I was the stronger in the relationship, the entire burden of dealing with my issues and his fell on me! This is tough!!!

GOD even hears the prayers of a sinner in cases like this one. I prayed daily for the ability to really love this child and I knew that unless I could really love this child nothing good would ever happen and as a matter of fact bad things would happen, minus really agape love.

I learned to forgive on a moment by moment basis so that I would not hold what he had done just minutes or hours before over his head and possibly hurt him due to my anger and rage.

I prayed while I was tired, I prayed while in the mist of deep anger, I prayed while tears flowed from my eyes like a stream of salty water.

When I wanted to hit him, instead I would hold him and cry saying you're my son, I love you and you are much too young for me to give up on you.

I know that GOD gave me a supernatural impartation to forgive and love this child.

I am happy to report that I of course am no longer out of fellowship with GOD and that in 2001, GOD came into my home and began a "clean" up and healing process.

To shorten the story and be mindful of the fact that this is a blog post and not a person to person conversation I will just say that today, my son and I no longer relate the way that I described above and have not for than 10 years. He's a teen now and still has Autism but with none of the aggressive and oppositional behaviors described above.

It is actually easy to love this child now and you're right Glynnis sometimes love can hurt but my greatest reward was GOD's very presence there with me and HE left an imprint of HIS glory and dug a deeper well in my soul. My love reserves go much deeper than I knew was possible and as a result my joy runs deeper!

This is the kind of power as believers that we all want to experience but it comes at a price but the rewards and benefits on the other end makes the journey worth traveling:-)

Jennifer Boddie

Toni said...

So after praying for 14 years for God to melt my husbands heart and no real changes...my husband doesn't want to change. His words are "this is who I am". Ok...but I didn't marry an emotionally abusive and hateful person. I don't think I'd marry him had this been the case. How do you love someone who could care less. He'll by a nice card once a year, but it doesn't mean anything because his actions don't even come close to matching the words. Do you think God's answer could be that this is over....after years of beating a dead horse...I think the horse isn't Lazuraus.

Kelly W said...

Glynnis, Wow, thank you so much for your honesty and sharing your life story with these 2 children of God. I can not imagine wanting to give love so bad and the children (no fault of their own) not being receptive. Will be praying for you as well as all the others that have posted a comment. Love to you all.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for being so open and for sharing your struggles with us.

Please know that you and your family are being prayed for!

May the Lord wrap you in His comfort, peace, and hope as you confidently continue on in the role He has laid out before you.

Ephesians 4:1-16

Subrina said...

WOW!This is the first time I have ever been to this blog page and what a blessing it is! Like so many of the others have said, I too struggle with showing my children unconditional love. I had always thought that something must be wrong with me. It's one thing to struggle with loving people unconditionally but to struggle with loving MY CHILDREN unconditionally just seems wrong!
God has been showing me the ways in which he has to deal with my failures and inappropriate behavior day after day. He reminds me that His mercies are new every day and that He gives me undeserved favor and forgivness. He prompts me to follow His example. Love is a choice that I have to make at moments when I'd rather live in the flesh. Thank you to all of the women who are offering such wisdom today.
One last thing, to the lady who has only been married 2 yrs and wants to give up: I have been married to an unbeliever for 18-rollercoaster-years. I guess I should say 17 years; he and my 15 year old daughter are being baptized together this Sunday!! God is faithful. It's not about our lives being comfortable and easy. Infact, from my experience, God teaches us much more in the storm than He does on the sunny beach that we would all prefer to live on. I'd love to share more with you if you want to e-mail me...not sure if I'm suppose to do that or not (?)but would love to share my testimony to encourage you. pshj.miller.4@comcast.net

Joy Jackson said...


Thank for your blog. You have a such a heart for God and what you write touches me deeply. I really don't how to say just how much you are impacting my life and my husband's with the wisdom you have received from the Lord. Thank you for your faithfulness. I have added your blog to my list of those I read every day. God's greatest blessings on you and your house.


Vt mama said...

Thanks for your honesty. I've done some respite care for RAD
kids and have cried with the mammas
so I know it's tought. It's Christ in you that can love when
there's nothing left in yourself. God be with you and bring healing both to your daughter and your entire family!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Glynnis. You have shared about your daughter before, and I love getting your blog, but from the comments, you have touched lives and nerves. I went to bible study this morning and came home and had a total meltdown with my husband. Sometimes, I feel as though he is the most difficult person in my life to love and should be the easiest. I blame me and my words and constantly question myself but go to God and ask forgiveness and it seems to keep happening with only him. I'm thinking it's not me alone. He seems to be my "sandpaper person" (There's a book by that name--people that rub you the wrong way, people hard to love. I don't want it to be my husband!) It's so very, very hard to daily, moment by moment go to God over silly arguments choosing to defeat my flesh with his truths when I see no improvements. But, I see improvements in me: more peace, more calm, more response instead of reaction. The discouragement is living with a person that is argumentative, angry and chooses to fight. But, satan is the destroyer of homes and marriages and I choose to cling to God's truths and know that growth comes in the valley time and the mountaintop view will be glorious in God's timing.

God has given these lovely daughters the best mother in the entire world, hand-picked, hand-chosen, selected by Him, ordained by Him to grow the character of each family member in His likeness and that is an awesome gift to be cherished and treasured even though it is a hard path at this time to walk. He is walking it with you and in His timing, they will magnify Him. Thanks for continuing to be transparent with your life as we can take your struggles boldly to the throne of grace knowing our Heavenly Father hears and answers our every prayer.

Sweet Blessings to you,

All 8 of Us said...

Dear Glynnis,
A friend sent me your devotional today b/c we also have adopted a son and daughter from Liberia. We also have been blessed with 4 biological children. I will admit that my daughter, especially stretches my capacity on a daily(sometimes moment by moment) basis. She also struggles with similar issues that you mentioned. Currently our small gp at church is reading a book called Equipped to Love by Norm Wakefield. It has been insightful and a help as I sort out what is going on in my heart. Another resource which I am in the process of praying through is a devotional by Marcia Sommerville...her first post was entitled "Love is Patient". I am so encouraged that the Lord puts biblically based counsel in my path just when I need it. One huge comfort is just as you have noted, I KNOW that these 2 children were handpicked by God before the foundations of the earth to be a part of our family. They are precious and the Lord knew all about the challenges we face due to the given ages being 'off' and these 2 are much closer in age to our youngest bio kiddos than we ever anticipated...God knew-had we known, i do not know that we would have chosen this path. Thanks for candidly sharing your heart...I can certainly relate-I remind myself regularly that His will never takes us where His grace will not keep us~ I pray that He will conform me more and more to His image as I choose to love every day.
Many Blessings to you!

Ellen said...

I don't know if you've ever found Christine Moers' blog, "Welcome To My Brain", but she is an awesome RADical mom. She brings a great online community to mothers who are also dealing with attachment problems.


Cheri Bunch said...

Dear Glynnis,
I cannot begin to express how I admire your courage for posting this. The respect that I have always had for you has just deepened, it is on a totally new level.
Of course I have had stuff . . . of the hardest of kinds . . . stuff like this. Ugly kinds of things.

I am confident that the Lord is going to abundantly bless you for your faithfulness to your child. He is able to fill our loves tanks that can go bone dry at times when we are just worn out. I know because I have had to plead with Him to fill mine . . . more than once.

The next three days I am going to be praying for you and your family and this situation. I am going to pray that He will do things that only He can do. I am going to ask Him for miracles, too. I believe that He loves to bless with miracles . . . especially for children.

Praying that you will have many reasons to celebrate!

Psalm 5:3 NIV and Amplified

Karen said...

I'm writing out of a deep well of concern for your daughters.

Anything that is put on the Internet is never truly gone. You may delete it from your blog, but that doesn't mean it will cease to exist.

Did you know that those of us that use Google Reader as our blog aggregator will forever have this post available?

As a young adult that has had dealings with what my parents have written (thinking I would never find out), I urge you to think of your daughters first before the readers of your blog.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a hard one to address and even confess. It seems that the Lord has seen fit to trust you with this precious one of His. My daughter is 40 yrs old and came out as a lesbian 4 yrs ago and to say it has been a wild ride is an understatement. How do I love this child and yet stay true to the Word of God. All I can say is that it has to be a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit! I don't have it in my in the natural, and neither do you yet when I give this over to Him, it's amazing how His love just floods over me for her.
Do what He has called you to do and commit the rest into His tender loving care. The outcome is up to Him.