I Forgave You Once

It’s 1978 and I have a newborn son. I’m so excited about being a dad! I’m only 21 and I barely have an idea what I’m doing. I don’t know what’s coming, but I’m working hard to be a good provider and now a good father whatever that looks like.

I have the example of Dad and how he illustrated the love of a good father. I can be that for my son who will need my love.

I have a job opportunity in a town a couple of hours away. My wife, reluctant to come, encourages me to go, offering to join me in a couple of weeks. You can imagine the surprise when I get divorce papers instead of her within those two weeks.

Seventy Times Seven

I learn to forgive in the coming years as she takes away my dream of happily ever after, including the dream of fathering my son. I will be assaulted with court papers over and over for many years, along with her demeaning phone calls, verbal assaults on me, my manhood, and my very existence. I don’t have the boundaries yet to stop her.

She has a different agenda she is working behind the scenes, one that will betray and break my unsuspecting heart. It feels like she only wanted a son from me, and getting that, she no longer had any use for me except to extract my money, emotion, and life force.

“I feel like I’m tied to the whipping post.” The Allman Brothers

I don’t feel like that anymore. Happiness began for me the day I married Linda 33 years ago.

Forgiveness & Boundaries

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you continue to live with abuse. Often, boundaries are necessary to create a healthy situation. This boundary could mean removing the tormenting influence of a destructive person from your life, unless or until they can behave. It can mean physical separation for safety in cases of physical abuse, substance, or sexual violation.

My boundaries were invaded for as long as I can remember. Growing up as a child, a sense of identity and personal power was not imparted. Performance for acceptance was the order of the day with affirmation and approval in short supply. This left me with a deficit of feeling approved of or affirmed in any way except performing and working harder to gain it.

I had no boundaries with my ex because I gave my personal power away to her to gain from her the approval I needed. This gave her the power to emasculate me, a distressing dynamic.

Even after marrying Linda, the phone calls continued from my ex, allowing her guilty poison into our relationship. When I sought counseling to help with the confusion this was creating, I learned that I needed boundaries. What she was doing was inappropriate, and I needed to do something about it.

I learned it was good and positive to feel indignant and offended when she trampled on me in disrespect, violating me and my sense of self worth. I learned the inappropriateness of what I’d been letting her do all these years.

I began to see that I had created the relational dynamics that were causing so much pain in my life. I opened the door to this by making my ex my “god,” by looking to her for what only God could give me.

Danny Silk, in his book Keep You Love On, pg.72,3 says;

“We have a deep God created need for intimacy, love, and comfort. But if we look to things that were not designed to meet these needs and elevate them above everything else–making them idols–then the result is always bondage and destruction. It’s only when we place God at the center that we can access comfort, peace, safety, joy, and pleasure that truly meets our deepest needs…

Think of a man who makes his wife his god. He makes her responsible for his joy, identity, and comfort–all things only God should satisfy. Inevitably his anxiety goes through the roof whenever he can’t control her. He has put her in charge of such deep needs in his life that he becomes scared of her. She is his addiction. And when he cant get his fix he’s a mess. His only hope is to turn to God. God must satisfy his needs. No one else can do that God job like God can.”

Out of the dark into the light

My experience was that I was doing this without realizing it. God never shamed or punished me in this process of self-awareness. He always leads me with love, joy, and tenderness, even though the process is painful, dealing with identity issues. I know it’s for freedom.

Not knowing about forming an identity, or what a healthy one looked like, I didn’t know where to reach for one. A lot of conditioning went on at home creating the only “normal” I knew which was not relationally healthy.

The first time I saw it, I was sitting in front of a counselor explaining my woes when he said to me;

“You need to remove her from the list of people you’re trying to get approval from.”

I saw it immediately, I needed her approval and was allowing awful abuse in because of it. I determined then that I could choose to repent of approval seeking and go to God for what I was going to a woman for in my brokenness. Chains were about to break.

By erasing her, I could take back what I was giving her in my idolatry. This was the beginning of learning about boundaries and regaining the personal power I was giving away as a victim.

We were divorced now, she no longer had inappropriate access to my emotions to manipulate me with guilt. The next barrage of questions to come from her were met with the words;

That’s none of your business, we’re divorced now, I’m not answering any more of your questions.”

She would use my answers to guilt and shame me and tell me what I should be doing with my life. It was her means of controlling me, and get me second-guessing myself.

I would no longer do this victim dance with her, it was over, though not instantly. She would still try to crank up the old music, I had to choose not to take her hand. 🙂

Old patterns die hard and take work, but once you can see where darkness had you, you can choose the light again and again. Different choices create different outcomes.

With me, the battle is mostly won once I come to an awareness of how deception is operating. Then it becomes a matter of doing the work and making the right choices, “dying” as it were to what another thinks or believes about you.

Freedom from people-pleasing comes when you lower the value you place on other’s opinions. When you care too much about what they think, you will forsake your own good for their approval. Jesus never did this. The fear of man brings a snare proverbs says.

Why Forgiveness is such a big deal

Have you ever wondered why God makes such a big deal about forgiveness in the bible?

We’re told not to take things into our own hands and work out the vigilante justice our heart is demanding. I think it all has to do with what’s happening inside our hearts, and the war between hate and love. God calls us to love, but hate has an agenda for our hearts.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God ; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 RSV

It’s almost like when we say: “I’ll get even, I’ll make them pay!”

We actually step in front of God usurping Him and His plan to even the scales and say;

“I’ll do it myself.”

David understood this. Remember when Saul was pursuing him to kill him and they found Saul sleeping in the cave? His men said;

God has delivered him into your hand, kill him here and now!

David wouldn’t do it, but cut off part of his robe. Later;

His heart smote him because he had “touched God’s anointed.”

David had many reasons he could have used to justify his own balancing of the scales. After all;

He had been anointed king in the midst of his brethren, the word of the Lord had been spoken over him, everyone had heard it. He had killed the lion and the bear, and even Goliath for God’s sake! David’s the one who delivered Israel, not Saul. Remember the song that infuriated Saul? “Saul has slain his thousands, David has slain his ten thousand.” Saul had tried to pin him to the wall more than once. Saul had disrupted all his relationships with David’s own family, and Jonathan. This stupidity had gone on long enough, Saul was crazy anyway!

But David forgave, he surrendered to God’s way of doing things, no matter how long it took and whatever came with it. He refused to take things into his own hands. This was a radical model of obedience to God and David passed the test. This one anyway.

The more serious part of taking things into our own hands is that;

We are seizing control in rebellion rather than submitting to the wisdom of God in obedience. When we try to control, we will obsess over “what they did to me,” and the venom of bitterness will be occupying our heart instead of love. Our emotions and mind will be hijacked to play the tape of their offense over and over hardening our hearts.

These are some of the tormentors spoken of by Jesus in His parable on forgiveness. Mt. 18:34

Bowing Down

Forgiveness requires transformation by submitting to the love of Christ and obeying. Un-forgiveness wants nothing to do with this transformation while pride rules. It requires extravagant humility to follow Jesus to the cross and forgive at the levels it takes to walk with a heart free to love.

Jesus didn’t say; “A new option I give unto you; that you love one another.”He said

“A new command I give you; love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

There is imperative in this command. A couple more thoughts and I’ll leave you with a short poem.

Not forgiving keeps you from loving again properly.

This means whatever part of your heart is locked in not forgiving will be unavailable to give to another. Simply stated, forgiving properly enables you to love anew the next time. Some are unable to move on into fruitful relationships because forgiveness hasn’t happened. There may be other reasons related to abuse or fear holding you back, but forgiveness is the key to your future. Whole hearts are able to move on, fractured bitter ones are not.

Think of bitterness as a piece of your heart being held ransom. You are unable to access this area or give it away because it’s dark territory being held hostage by hate. It’s a prison of hatred and the only key to the door is forgiveness. It doesn’t matter what they did or took from you, how much loss is involved, or how much it hurts.

I sat with my counselor. He had me write a letter to my ex describing all I had lost and all she had taken from me. I had to write out the pain of the loss, and all it represented in honest emotional language. All of it. He then had me “read it to her” in proxy, not “to her.”

After reading it all and agonizing through it, I then told her; I forgive you.

It didn’t mean all the pain and loss went away. It did mean that I chose to forgive her and give her to God. I built an altar of remembrance that “I had forgiven.” I got out of the way, released any and all control of the outcome, and forgave her because Jesus said to.

I chose to trust God’s greater plan and open my hands in surrender to whatever he has planned for my future. I can do this because I know that He is good and He never shortchanges those who obey Him and surrender to Him and His ways.

I can love better today because I forgave yesterday. I pray these words help you to let Jesus heal your broken heart to love again. Here’s that poem;

Made For Love

My Heart was made for love, but gets attacked by hate

I want to hang with tenderness, but bitterness wants a date

Her kiss is naught but venom, poisoning my love,

Killing heaven’s song, singing from above.

Forgiveness is the arrow, piercing hatred’s soul,

Bleeding out the darkness, my heart becoming whole.

Where is found the grace to have this point of view?

Father please forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Dismantling Depression

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad. Proverbs 12:25

It’s easier to face a thing head on when we can see where it’s coming from

It’s easier to fight my enemy when I can see him

What causes depression and where does it come from anyway?

I’ll begin by answering the second half of this question first, then we’ll get into the causes.

First off, God doesn’t cause our depression and is not the source. rather, He came to relieve our depression and give us lasting hope and fill us with joy.

Isaiah 61:3 tells us Jesus came;

To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

Verse one in the same chapter brings Jesus preaching good tidings to the poor, healing the brokenhearted, preaching deliverance to the captives, and the opening of prison doors to those who are bound. Depression is a dark prison Jesus came to free us from, not put us in.

No, we can’t saddle the responsibility for our depression on God, rather we need to turn to a darker source of responsibility. Satan, the devil himself, whom Jesus labeled a thief, murderer, and liar.

John 10:10

The thief does not come except to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.

Revelation 12:9,10 speaks of him, (the devil), as the accuser of the brethren.

He is the one responsible for the mental illness, emotional struggle, depression, and suicide the sons of men deal with. Guilt, shame, and condemnation are the fruits of sin the devil handed Adam and Eve in the garden in the Genesis story.

We need to know the source so we can treat it accordingly. We weren’t created for it, and Jesus has a redemptive plan to free us from it. Moving into that plan is our personal journey.

Okay, so it comes from the devil. What causes it then?

This one isn’t as easy to answer because depression is as complicated as personality. We are all one of a kind in one sense as far as personality, emotional wiring, and genetic makeup. Our needs are different as well as our interface with life.

We have unique histories, families of origin, and experiences of life. One person has a strong family tree and a more noble heritage than the next, who suffers an upbringing in a dysfunctional or abusive family environment.

Alcohol and substance abuse introduce dynamics that fracture the family unit and remove stability and healthy parental modeling. Divorce resulting in the single-parent raising of children emotionally handicaps the emerging adult.

Sexual identity and gender orientation becomes confused. This is all part of the devil’s strategy to destroy marriages, and individuals. It’s a personal strategy tailor made for the destruction of the individual. That’s why Jesus came; to seek and save the lost. They are the sheep that have lost their way. We are those sheep.

Three Categories of Depression

I’m going to borrow this brief overview from Gary Champan’s insightful marriage book entitled Loving Solutions, from the chapter entitled “The Depressed Spouse.” Gary is the author of “The Five Love Languages.”

One

Depression may be the by-product of a physical illness

For example, when you have a full-blown case of influenza, you don’t care what’s going on at the office. You want to lie still and sleep as much as possible. You lose all interest in the outside world.

You temporarily check out; Your mind and emotions have moved into a depressed state. It’s nature’s way of protecting you from constant anxiety about what you are missing in the real world.

Fortunately, the influenza passes and your depressive mood lifts, though you may have noted that it tends to hang on for a day or two after your physical symptoms are gone. It often takes the mind a couple of days to get back to its normal state.

Two

Situational depression or reactive depression

It is the depression that grows out of a particular painful situation in life. Such depression is a reaction to those painful experiences. Most of these experiences involve a sense of loss.

For example, depression often follows the loss of a spouse by death or divorce, the loss of a job, the loss of a child to college, the loss of parents to death, the loss of a friendship, the loss of money.

Depression may also arise over the loss of a dream, such as a happy, fulfilling marriage, the loss of the love feelings that you once had for your spouse, or the loss of hope that your marriage will ever be as fulfilling as you once hoped.

Three

A third category is depression rooted in some biochemical disorder, which has put the mind and emotions in a state of disequilibrium. Sometimes this is referred to as endogenous depression.

The word endogenous means “from with the body,” and the biochemical change inside the body is it’s source. This is depression as a sort of physical disease.

There are various forms of biological depression. Some are related directly to the brain where something goes wrong with the electrical and neurochemical transmissions. Others are related to disorders of the endocrine system.

The glands of the endocrine system (thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, pancreas, pituitary, adrenal, ovaries, and gonads) produce hormones that are released into the bloodstream to perform various functions. Lowered or heightened levels can produce depression.

Also certain disorders of metabolism can produce depression. The body is constantly assimilating food, breaking it into substances that can be stored and used as energy. When things go wrong in the metabolic system, depression can sometimes result.

For example, abnormally low blood sugar levels can produce feelings of emotional instability and depression.

There may well be biological reasons why females are more prone to depression than males. The female reproductive organs are known to create mood swings. Premenstrual syndrome, commonly known as PMS, is the depression at the onset of menstruation; it is a common occurance.

Women in menopause often face bouts of depression. The variation in estrogen levels markedly influences the mood of women.

The good news about biologically caused depression is that it is readily treated with medication. The bad news is that only about one-third of all depressions are biological depressions. The far more common depression is situational depression.

Taken from Gary Chapman’s “Loving Solutions, The depressed spouse,” Pg. 196

My family of origin and depression

“You’re bipolar.”

Linda declared to me at a time I was struggling emotionally with the circumstances of life. Somehow it didn’t bring me much comfort, rather it made me feel angry, labeled, and defensive.

My family tree and the history Linda knows about gave her good reason to suspect that I am bipolar and a manic depressive, although I am not.

Suicide and mental illness run in the family line. My experience is your parents don’t tend to talk about these things. Unable to handle it themselves, or not knowing the broken history line of the past doesn’t bring continuity of the truth to light.

You only have what you see growing up and try to make sense of it.

My mother suffered from depression until the end. Explosive anger and severe discipline accompanied it in the early years.

One of my uncles, her brother, took his own life with a gun in my adult life. My sister, one of eight of us siblings took her life after a prolonged bout with a brain tumor four years ago. she underwent surgery to remove the tumor resulting in hearing loss and the tumor returned. She just couldn’t take it anymore.

I have a mentally ill brother who suffers from addiction, and all attempts to help him get on his feet and redeem his life have failed due to his choices and inability to take responsibility. I don’t bail him out of jail anymore.

Another had a tumor on his pituitary gland removed that almost took his life. He was suffering from extreme bipolar and his endocrine system was shot. He suffered from what is called Acromegaly, and extreme alcoholism.

The tumor was removed successfully. He is recovered alcoholic many years now, and at 61, is the oldest living person with his condition. He functions at a near-genius level, talks about quantum theory, waveform, and the like and has invented some incredible things. I prayed for him many years ago and he received the baptism of the holy spirit and raised his hands and sang in tongues praises to God. We still talk about it.

My depression

I had my doctor do some blood work at Linda’s request and he looked me in the eye and said;

“You are not bi-polar.”

I was glad to hear it because maybe I was in denial. You can be you know.

The depression I battle is what Gary calls situational or reactive depression. This depression is associated with trauma and loss.

It may not have to do with a chemical imbalance or something my body is doing to me but it did come from my family of origin and continued to stalk me throughout my adult life.

I will list the possible sources of my battle with depression.

  1. As a child, there was simply no grid to process the emotional horrors of life. I guess that’s enough to cause depression.
  2. Emotions were suppressed, and not allowed to be processed externally. Everything was stuffed, or else.
  3. Anger, parental conflict, and an unsafe environment were the order of the day.
  4. Conditional love and performance for acceptance was the environment.
  5. God was not involved, then when He was, religion and the performance culture took over.
  6. My emerging sexuality as a boy was abused by another man, distorting my view and bringing shame.
  7. I was introduced to pornography at a tender age, and Jesus helped me destroy that addiction. His beauty is better than any other. Diligence is required with most men to keep that door closed.
  8. My Grandmother, my nurture and shield from abuse died on the operating table undergoing open heart surgery when I was a young teen.
  9. Then the 70’s came.
  10. My Ex divorced me after I gave her a son, then kept him from me for nine years while I believed for the restoration of the marriage that didn’t happen.
  11. She has been deceased two years and my grown son doesn’t want a father. I wait for the prodigal to return, and it has to be okay if he never does, like she never did.

My pathway out of depression has been,

  1. Accepting what God has for me, and loving & accepting myself with my weaknesses.
  2. Surrendering control of my life and where it goes, knowing that I would try to chain it to what I think is best, not God’s best.
  3. Trusting in God’s goodness; declaring that He is good and His mercy endures forever.
  4. Yielding to the Father’s pruning, whether it be relationship, ministry, title, or identity. Depression comes when I don’t yield. It’s a symptom of my resistant will.
  5. Gratitude and thanksgiving for all he gives which is good and fulfilling when I say “yes.”

Prayer;

Lord, You alone hold the keys to our joy and freedom. Come into our hearts and make depression a distant memory. Help us see what we need to see to be free. We know you came to set our hearts free and heal them to wholeness. Help us stop performing for people. Help us get our validation from you and not seek it selfishly from others. Help us to love others and care about them. Free us from narcissism and self focus so we can love those who need our love and truth. Help us forgive our abusers and love those who’ve hurt us. Help us as husbands to stay clean and love our wives Lord as you loved the Church and gave yourself for her. Help us wives love and respect our husbands and honor them with our lives and how we live and speak. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Are We United?

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Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity! For there the Lord commanded the blessing—Life forevermore. Ps. 133:1-3

We’re approaching independence day 2020. What a year!

We don’t feel very “independent” in the middle of the COVID pandemic. Things are easing up a bit in Colorado, but there is still a real and present danger about. We aren’t out of the woods yet and need to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Informed but not obsessed. Life is going on.

We live in a country called “The United States of America.”

Somehow I don’t feel as united as a country as we were in my younger days. Yes, there were problems then too with Vietnam and Mr. Nixon, and the awful attitudes towards the veterans returning from the horrors of Saigon.

There are still a lot of hurting vets alive, some unable to recover from the trauma. Not just Vietnam. Trauma isn’t defined by one event or one war. Our country is undergoing trauma today.

I remember Kent State and the riots when I was in high school. I was in second grade when President Kennedy was shot. I still remember the announcement coming from the gold cloth-covered speaker on the wall as Mrs. Fleming our teacher burst into tears.

What’s happening today is nothing new. Our land needs healing.

I Pledge Allegiance

As I write this, my mind floats back to grade school where we stand from our tiny desks, turned towards the flag on its floor stand with the golden eagle on top, with that gold tassel hanging down.

With our hands on our hearts, we recite the “pledge of allegiance” together, the pledge feeling more like a holy prayer.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

That pledge is some good writing, concise and to the point, planting the first seeds of patriotism in a grade-schooler. I fear we’ve fallen from that pinnacle.

United in Marriage

Since I write on marriage and relationships, here we go.

In a real sense, our marriage covenant mirrors the intent of this pledge.

Liberty & Justice for all

“One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Liberty and Justice speak of freedom in the relationship. When we lose our freedom in our relationships, we become a slave to another person. Marriage isn’t about losing personal freedom, rather, freedom is something we are to retain and fight for. Freedom is about mutual honoring.

No one else owns your feelings, or your right to voice your opinion, married to them or not. Those things are God-given and belong to you.

“Justice for all” is about fairness in the relationship. It’s about equal representation and honor bestowed on the man and the woman.

Interestingly, the Spanish word for being fair is “Justo.” You can accurately say “with liberty and fairness for all.”

We are to affirm the personal power of one another with respect, not try to suppress or manipulate out of our insecurity, or fear of losing power. Unity is learning to respect and honor another, not suppress them.

The Commanded Blessing

God wants to “command the blessing” on our marriages, but we need to do the work to unite it to “dwell together in unity”, a seemingly rare commodity these days.

Your quality of life is determined by the unity your marriage has. If it’s bad or fake at home, it seems to be bad everywhere. There’s a core problem and you know it, it gnaws at you.

You’ll either develop “workarounds,” to survive a divided relationship without mutuality or you’ll fight for unity at all costs. This includes gaining the hard bought skills of communication and conflict resolution needed to become one in your marriage.

These workarounds involve manipulation, abuse of power, and hiding to avoid emotional truthfulness. We’ve not yet learned a better way.

The Party

We’re back home late and tired after attending a small party for a friend. It was tough as strife and stress were in the air from the rift between the married host and hostess.

I got pulled in unawares by the host into the emotions of the situation resulting in some tense moments. I tried to help by offering advice that wasn’t received well.

We ground through the evening, making the most of it.

Getting ready for bed, Linda says from the closet;

“I’m so thankful we have unity in our marriage!”

“Me too!”

I reply, feeling the same gratitude knowing that “It don’t come easy.”

I value the reality of the words “unity in our marriage,” realizing happiness does come down to whether you enjoy unity together. I ask myself;

How can anyone live that way?

Why no unity?

The reason for disunity at this party was made clear by the host; One wanted us there, the other didn’t. There wasn’t an agreement about having the party. An awkward environment to be invited into.

Better not to have the party until agreement and honoring can be established. If unity isn’t operating, something else is. See James 3:13-18

Where does unity come from?

Agreement

“Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” Amos 3:3 NLT

An agreement is found when the needs, values, and concerns of both parties are explored and honored. Both must get equal consideration, it can’t be one-sided. Without this, it’s a dictatorship, not a marriage.

Not only men can be dictators, but I’ve also known some lovely female ones as well.

Honoring

“Husbands likewise dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together to the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 peter 3:7 NKJV

“…She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so that your prayers will not be hindered. NLT

What does honoring look like?

Equality

Valuing and validating the opinions, needs, and desires of your spouse equally with yours, even if you disagree are necessary. Unity can’t happen without this.

This means forsaking false, growth limiting beliefs, such as;

“I’m the man and my opinions and desires carry more weight than hers.” or,

“Since I’m the man, I hold the trump card. She has to do what I say.”

These are bullying attitudes, once again, the nice lady can carry them also. (:

Validating means you listen respectfully without rebuttal, treating with respect the things your partner has to say. You listen without refuting it and affirm what you hear. If you can’t do this, you need to practice until you can.

Your unity will be blocked without the validation you both need. We must grow past our defensiveness.

We give honor to our spouses with an attitude that says;

“I hear what you’re saying, and I hear how you feel about it, what can we do to get you what you want and need?” This attitude will bring you into the promised land.

Honoring is;

Working out differences with respect without bullying, judging, or intimidating to get your way. You have to break these patterns to do this or nothing will change. I promise.

Think about it. If one doesn’t stop what is pushing the other person away, how will it ever change? If you’re the one being bullied, stand your ground, set a boundary, and state that you will no longer put up with it.

If you aren’t being treated with respect, leave them in an empty room while you remove yourself from destructive words or attitude.

Honoring is humbly negotiating to find common ground, giving and taking to get what you need.

Exploring alternative solutions to satisfy both parties. XO

Engagement Q’s

Pray with your spouse, inviting God in for a safe, honoring atmosphere. Thoughtfully work through these questions to grow in unity.

1. Can you see any workarounds you have developed as a couple that are blocking your unity? Talk about this together, bringing it into the open. Work a strategy and set goals together to change the dynamic.

2. Do you feel validated in the marriage? Do you both feel your opinions, needs, or ideas are respected equally? If not, say where, why, and give examples.

3. Do you feel freedom in your marriage, or do you feel controlled? Tell why, be specific. Talk together about what you can do about it.

What would it look like if you were free? Give an example. Agree to work together towards this. XO 

 

 

The Anatomy of Marriage Meltdowns

Nothing hurts like a disconnected marriage. We can find the disconnects, and heal them. We can develop a strategy that brings hope. Awareness of what’s going on brings immediate hope. I can choose to change what I can see.

Oh, that’s what we’re doing!”

So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul; If you have found it, there is a prospect, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 24:14

Cause and Effect

Newton’s third law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Without doing the research, I think he must have been married.

Perhaps many of us have been victimized by Newton’s law unawares. Simply stated, how we treat others will affect how they treat us. Big time.

There is also a sowing and reaping principal that governs life. Seeds and growing what we plant and such.

The Control Meltdown

Control or manipulation begins a marriage meltdown that won’t stop until you forsake the behavior and focus on what you are bringing to bear upon the marriage. I may think it’s them when I’m the one causing it.

Control is the action, him or her withdrawing from the control is the reaction. I won’t move toward you if you are invalidating who I am by trying to control, pressure, or change me. I respond to acceptance and affirmation creating a willingness to negotiate almost anything.

Truth be Told

It’s a hopeless feeling when we’re stuck and don’t know the way out, or lack the tools to change any of our dynamics.

In our brokenness, unable to communicate with emotional honesty, we will manipulate and apply pressure instead of risking the vulnerability to get honest about what we need. We need to get in touch with those needs first.

We need honest words that are respected, then move us into the truth of where we are as a couple. With commitment, we can then strategize together and do something about it.

There’s hope in this because I can choose not to manipulate. I can learn to be a safe talker and listener. So can my partner. We can practice communication skills together, and learn to take emotional risks as we build security into our marriage. We can choose to not be victims, living with distance in our marriage.

We Build the House we Live in

Our actions cultivate the environment we live in, like the air we breathe. I miss the boat if I focus on her and start demanding change, which seems to be the normal relational default;

If I can only change the thing in her or him that’s bothering me, then I’ll feel relief, the discomfort will go away and things will be better.

This belief or thinking actually creates a distance dynamic affecting our intimacy. The controller always pushes the controlee away from them.

The meltdown will stop and my partner will move towards me when I embrace the new belief that says;

I will accept them and validate them for who they are instead of trying to change them.

I will leave the dark territory of manipulation, and start communicating and negotiating for how I can meet my needs.

Differences in needs

It’s business as usual after the honeymoon for the typical male. It seems like for him the adventure is over because he has her now.

For her, the adventure’s just beginning, but instead of pursuing her heart and drawing her into the adventure, unaware of what her heart needs, he clams up and leaves her at home. Living in the absence of a connection with his heart and feelings, she emotionally withers.

He gets most of his needs met out there, as she waits for him to come home and hopefully meet hers there. Instead of tuning into her at home, he plops down and turns on the tube or checks out some other way.

Two Lovers Losing

His inability or unwillingness to meet her needs in the way she wants him to,(her love language), creates a reluctance for her to give herself to him in the way he needs and wants. The cause and effect of this dynamic accumulates and creates conflict and negative emotion in the marriage.

As time goes on, her default is to nag him or apply pressure to change him in order to meet her needs. Her needs are legitimate, but lacking sensitivity he is unaware of them and doesn’t know how to meet them even if he sees them there.

It helps her to have compassion and warmth if she can see him in the light of not understanding her needs. Seeing him as needing her help, not knowing what to do, rather than stubborn or unwilling to meet her needs helps.

The Strategy She Needs; Understand Your Man

Her way out is to hook up with Newton’s Law and change the cause and effect. She needs to stop applying pressure and come up with some creative ways to get his attention, (one thing I know works pretty well).

He needs words of affirmation and meaningful touch. If his needs aren’t met, he will withdraw further. If you nag, complain, criticize, or cut him off, he will withdraw feeling inadequate, criticized, and devalued. He’ll check out, and just work harder out there keeping away from you to avoid pain. There are ways in, you have to find them.

If you change your strategy and reel him in, he’ll be more receptive to what you want and need. Remember your goal in accepting and loving him also includes connecting him to your heart that wants to know and be known. It takes time and persistence to change the old dynamics but very doable.

You then need to teach him about your needs being specific about what it looks like to have them met. You have to get in touch with them yourself to articulate them to him. Believe me, he doesn’t know how to do it, you have to show him. He needs a sensitivity education from you.

Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respect her husband Eph. 5:33

The Strategy He Needs; Understand Your Woman

The best thing a man can do for himself is to understand his wife’s needs are different than his. He then needs to do everything he can to learn about and meet them. (her love language.)

She needs validation, security, and reassurance. Ignore her and she gets none of that. Her emotions need your attention and understanding, she thrives on this, not your neglect. That’s the nourishing and cherishing part the man struggles with.

Men, the worst thing we can do is criticize or demean her sensitivity or emotions. This is where the tenderness we need comes from, and if we crush her there, she won’t give her heart or anything else to us. we can end up cooking our own goose and losing the promised land.

So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.

For no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. Ephesians 5:28,29

Let’s Make a Deal

I’m a reasonable businessman. My language is negotiation, honestly in the open without pressure or manipulation. Anything is negotiable if it’s done with respect and good communication. Both parties win and get what they need.

Marriage meltdowns occur when two people are trying to change each other without negotiation or respectful communication. I think we all do this at first until we learn a better way. The meltdown only stops when each takes responsibility for themselves and what they are doing.

Your assignment as a couple is to read this together and talk about where control might be present and decide what to do about it. Also, talk about your two biggest needs and whether they are met or not and what you can do about it. Take time and honor feelings.

Prayer; Lord, thank you for being the God of Hope who takes away our hopelessness and despair. Thank you for the grace to relax our white knuckles of control and to trust you with our spouses, and our needs. You are the God of transformation, help us put our trust in you. Give us courage to be honest with our needs and feelings and communicate them well to our spouses. Thank you for some fresh strategies. We love you, In Jesus name. Amen. XO

Quarantine Romance

Where are you my love?

Where’s the one I knew and married on our wedding day?

What happened to the spark we shared and love that lit our way?

We used to share each happy thought & catch each other’s tears.

Now it seems our love’s used up on bills, demands, and fears.

I want to reach and touch your heart, but can’t seem to get in.

Don’t know if we just don’t care, it’s busyness, stress, or sin.

My hope says there’s a doorway to reach inside of you.

I pray that you will answer me, and say again I do.

My heart wants to recapture the love that we once knew,

To share the kind of oneness known only by a few.

God help love burn again in us, alive with holy flame,

That burns so unconditionally in those who know your name.

Teach us how to love again, giving our hearts away,

To see how two can become one, renew our wedding day.

Dan Lillyblad

Hi everyone, I hope you all are surviving well and keeping your love alive. I’m including some connection tips for Quarantine romance.

First I want to announce my upcoming book I hope to have out this year; Hope for Happily Ever After. There will be sample chapters on my website soon for those who sign up, as well as access to other articles and poems.

Quarantine Connection Tips

Don’t be discouraged that it’s gotten harder. Quarantine is hard. It’s the cross. We can’t even go to church. Virtual isn’t the same. Thank God we aren’t being required to have a virtual marriage! Virtual hugs just don’t work for me.

It’s only normal for things to heat up relationally, being thrown together with all we’re used to being turned upside down or removed.

Linda & I have had more spirited conversations lately than we’ve had in a long time in our almost 33 years of marriage. Add writing a marriage book to the mix, and all sorts of things have come up for discussion.

Growing together in love never goes away in marriage, you don’t want it to. God is love, the greatest commandment is Love. God and others, including, especially, our spouses.

Growing in love is always on God’s agenda.

I’ve found the little irritations I feel will usually reveal my selfishness and intolerance. Love is patient and kind, not selfish. I need to be more flexible, lighten up, and make space. I take myself too seriously and start demanding too much out of myself, Linda, and our marriage.

Recovering Romance

Romance isn’t fairy dust or magic. It’s cultivated. Seeds are planted, watered, nurtured, and grown. It grows out of unselfish love.

Growing out of the new love or honeymoon stage is normal and part of the growth cycle of marriage. This brings hope when we realize nothing is wrong with us or our marriage.

Our fairy tale thinking gets exposed as we enter the disenchantment stage of marriage. The super high becomes a super low, but we can do it.

This is when we start growing, exploring, and healing together. Our differences start surfacing, and we start our fruitless campaigns to change each other. We learn to communicate, fight fair, or die as all our buttons we didn’t even know we had get pushed.

Being in quarantine is pushing our buttons. It’s thrown us into a new growing season. This can be good for us if we can see what God is doing, release control, and surrender to it. I will finish with some connecting points and some application

The caring connection

Biblical Self Love; Do yourself a favor

So husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies; He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes, cherishes, and protects it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. Ephesians 5:28-30

Nourishes; What nourishes a woman’s soul?

Linda; I feel nourished when you tune into me, talk to me, resolve conflict with me, spend time with me. This is the love language of Quality Time

I believe a woman is nourished when she has access to her man’s heart. He treats her like she’s number one on his priority list.

Cherishes;

A woman feels cherished when she is reassured by her man, as often as she needs it, which is more often than he needs it himself. Reassured that he loves her, that she is worth loving, and he couldn’t live without her.

Things like; I love my life with you. I love our life together, being married to you. You’re the best.

Come up with originals of your own.

This has to be sincere from the heart without manipulation. They can tell.

Protects:

Linda; You respect my limitations, not pushing me beyond what I can do. Sensitive to me. Not expecting too much out of me.

A man protects his wife when he covers her, offering her his strength when she needs it, not lecturing her.

A man needs to be a big enough beach for the waves of his wife to crash upon. He doesn’t try to fix her or require anything of her. He is man enough to hold her and listen to her, loving her till the tide recedes.

The servant connection

Linda’s love language is Acts of Service. I need to be careful that my propensity for performance orientation doesn’t make me her love slave.

At the same time, knowing what makes her feel loved, I can speak her language by not neglecting her or her needs.

I serve her when I offer my support to her by talking out her fears, anxieties, and struggles, not to solve or fix.

Just being there with her loving her, listening, makes her feel protected.

For the ladies;

Remember ladies, the guys are less complicated. They need your respect and some words of affirmation. Remember that he is trying. Beyond that,

Show up naked, bring food. XO

Conquering COVID-19

It’s the end of the world as we know it, but I feel fine… REM

Out in the zone

Fear and distrust were written on the faces we passed as Linda and I rolled through the ravaged shelves of the store grabbing the essential items we could find. No-one spoke or smiled for fear of inhaling the virus from the ticking time bomb pushing the other cart.

I spent the morning digging out of the blizzard we’d had the day before. We got slammed being at elevation and farther east where the wind winds up hard. We wanted to get down there to beat the crowd, but we became part of the crowd. A tired employee was pushing a string of shopping carts into the empty cart area just as we walked up. The hand sanitizers were all gone, and you felt like you wanted to hold your breath as you entered.

Everyone was on good behavior not too pushy or rude, and you could feel a sense of resigned determination. The checkout lines were longer than I’d ever seen them, backing way back in between the aisles, and all carts packed full. It felt like people behave when they’re leaving a concert or event. Everyone knows they’ll get out, so let’s just be nice and flow out together, even though it’s slow.

Checking out

I felt sorry for the checkout lady who was tirelessly unloading cart after cart of groceries checking them through. When it was our turn I asked her how she was holding up. She said she was exhausted and her back hurt.

Do you have one of those cushions to stand on? she said no. I bagged the groceries, resisting the co-dependant pressure I felt from the long line waiting on us. I thanked her for being there and for all her hard work serving us.

Reality check

Things are happening fast. The restaurants are all closed, drive-through or carry out only. Forget about the pub or the movies. Schools out forever, with all those implications. No concerts, or any entertainment involving gatherings of people. Church is virtual only now. Everything’s grinding to a halt. California just went on lockdown, will we be next?

Covid acrostic

I’ve come up with an acrostic for the Covid 19 virus that describes the character and assignment of this particular enemy. Along with each letter I’m including some practical tips to conquer the assignment each letter brings.

The C stands for Crash Chaos, Crisis, and Catastrophe.

It’s all of the above. The fear-driven stock market has crashed again, sweeping away a lot of our money that is easy to put confidence in. Many people are suddenly out of work with valid concerns about paying for life without an income stream. There is a chaotic cascade effect that hasn’t been felt yet along with the uncertainty of the entire world economy.

Questions are raised about the survival of many institutions as we know them. If they do survive, they may exist in a different form in the future. No-one knows for sure as there is incredible uncertainty about the future. All this is painful. I offer these scriptures for comfort and courage.

Hold steady!

He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established; He will not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies. Psalm 119:7,8

For He will deliver the needy when he cries, the poor also, and him who has no helper. Psalm 72:12

The O stands for overreacting.

Remember the enemy’s operating system is fear. He loves panic and confusion, it’s getting everyone where he wants them. A society in fear is not able to love and care.

It’s fear accompanied by selfishness that caused all the toilet paper and sanitizer to disappear from the grocery shelves. Along with all the bread and meat so everyone can freeze it for themselves. My first outing shocked me as all the fresh bread was gone! My favorite was sold out, but I found a comparable one left. I felt spoiled. Linda read online about an all-time spike in freezer sales. C’mon man!

Overreacting will have everyone out in fear, storing up tribulation food. I might grow some tomatoes this year. It is springtime and growing seasons ahead. Jesus said to live one day at a time, and our Father who feeds the sparrows and numbers the hair on our heads will take care of us. Yes it’s scary, but an opportunity to believe these verses that many of us know.

Overreacting in crisis will push you into hasty decisions that aren’t wise. Pulling all your investments out of the market out of fear is not the right choice. Other storms have come and gone and life continues. The world and the stockmarket are uncertain and always will be. It’s where we put our trust that is key. Fear is not a wise motivator or chooser. Peace is.

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share. 1 Timothy 6:17,18

Historic examples

Although this current virus is unique and different, there are biblical examples of extreme things happening in the world to God’s people and how God was there for them.

Sovereignty & provision

In the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis, we find Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery where he’s carried off a prisoner to Egypt. The purpose of his imprisonment is revealed in God’s plan to provide provision for future Israel , Jacob and his family.

In this incredible story, a seven-year impending famine is revealed through Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams. Following is a strategy revealed to Joseph to get them through the famine without perishing.

Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of the government that will get this done, rescuing Jacob and the rest of his family to eat and dwell in peace in the land of Goshen. Joseph wins out in the end, second in charge of all Egypt. He is restored to his family marrying a princess, and fathering two children, Ephraim and Manassah, who would be two of the tribes of Israel.

Faith says; God will provide our Goshen for us, no matter what happens or how bad it gets. There will be provision for us.

They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. Psalm 37:19

A wilderness of sorts

We are pushed into an unsolicited wilderness. We didn’t ask for it, it’s completely out of our control, we don’t know the way or when it’s going to end. We’re not sure where provision is going to come from. How could God possibly want us there? What’s that going to accomplish? This is the stuff of spiritual growth where faith is germinated and grows.

God rarely reveals the end at the start

Israel’s wilderness

Israel’s Exodus wilderness journey is our example of how to behave when we find ourselves in one.

Hoarding is as ancient as Israel in the wilderness. God sent down the manna from heaven and told them to go out and gather it each day, enough for their families. Whatever each family gathered was enough, they didn’t lack.

They were not to gather more than they needed. There were some who hoarded and gathered extra, in case God didn’t come through, and it bred worms and stank.

The day before the sabbath, God told them to gather enough for the sabbath day as well as the weekday, so they could rest on that day, and devote it to Him. There was extra that didn’t get used to last through the sabbath and it didn’t get worms or spoil. There were some who went out on the sabbath to gather the manna and there was none.

The lesson in all this is that we can’t control provision, apparently especially now. We can only trust God, surrender our control, or we’re going to be tormented with fear and anxiety.

The V stands for Victim

The victim message tells us that, we are in for it! Nothing but doom and gloom awaits us in our future.

The truth is that we are a people of faith who serve a mighty God who is in covenant with us to take care of us. We are empowered people.

Remember; Victims blame and are critical, unable to take responsibility. The government can’t save us, only God can. We aren’t victims, we are children of God, with a loving heavenly Father who knows what we have need of even before we ask.

The I stands for interruption and isolation.

To say our lives have been interrupted is an understatement. We are all going through withdrawal, having been yanked immediately out of our normal routines. We are a culture addicted to busy, and have been sidelined from the occupation of doing what we’re so accustomed to.

This can’t be downplayed. Withdrawal is painful and stressful as you have been habituated by what you are used to doing. Real adjustments have to be made as we find our balance with the new norm that keeps changing.

Communication & strategy

There are no more external diversions available that we are used to. They are all shut down. You can’t get away from each other as easily, especially in a blizzard, then there’s all that snow to shovel. And stay out of my kitchen!

Even the golf channel is affected as all the tournaments are canceled. As much as I like Tiger, you can only do so many reruns of the glory days. The glow of the Super Bowl has faded and now it’s Too much time on my hands…

And what about the anxiety? It’s like an underground form of grieving you can’t put your finger on. It’s like, oh yeah, that part of my life is dead now because I can’t do that anymore. And the next day something else disappears. And what about the money? $$$

Let’s Talk

Talk together about what’s going on and how you feel about it. Engage. Talk about it. Validate each other’s struggle, care. Stick together. Strategize together, support each other emotionally.

Don’t isolate as a family. Social media alone can’t fill the void for connection, though you’ll believe it’s all you have left. We know too well it can be a powerful addiction in itself. Don’t give in to depression.

Talk about how you can create space for each other and meet each other’s needs. You are not victims who complain and criticize. Grow together. Who knows if God isn’t re-calibrating the family? It seems a good time for it with everyone home with all your needs, nowhere to go, stuck with each other.

The D stands for death.

We had to get to the D. The elephant in the room fueling all this. The pandemic, which is a worldwide plague there is no cure for. Death to the old people who can’t fight it off, or who’s chances are slimmer to be able to survive it. The reason for the isolation that is being enforced more and more.

I’ve spoken at a few funerals and memorial services. Weddings are more fun and the receptions tend to be better. But dying is a part of living.

I always go right to the resurrection which is our hope. Most of us aren’t going to get Covid 19, less of us are going to die from it. But even if some of us did, I love the words of Paul who knew he would die soon a martyr’s death,

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

No fear

Inasmuch as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Hebrews 2:14,15

No, we are not to be afraid of dying, knowing we will be with the One we love. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8 paraphrase.

However, there’s no reason to rush things, especially if we haven’t completed our mission in life we’ve been assigned. My wife Linda survived breast cancer twice and is cancer-free today, not because of our great faith, but because God sustained her life because He is good and that’s what He wanted to do.

Following are some promises we can rest our faith in, that we won’t be taken out early by COVID or any other future mutation there may be.

With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation. Psalm 91:16

Surely He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. (Covid 19) Psalm 91:3

You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand shall fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand but it (Covid 19), shall not come near you.

Remember the Passover in Israel where they had to put blood on the lintel and the doorpost of the house so the destroyer would pass over? There was a lamb for a house, sacrificed, that typified the Lamb who would come later, Jesus.

We know Jesus gave His life and blood to redeem us, save, and heal us. We have reason to put our faith in Him to protect us from this.

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes, we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

We will prevail as we live one day at a time and do the next right thing. As we abide in the vine we will bear much fruit and be beacons of hope.

Prayer

Lord, steady us in these perilous times. Draw close to us as we confess our dependence upon you. Don’t let us be conformed to the world and give in to fear and selfishness. Draw us together as families and give us new grace to connect with one another. Keep us informed but not carried away with the hysteria of the media or focusing too much on the problem. Our times are in your hands and length of days is in the hands of wisdom. Keep us finding refuge in the shadow of Your wings. Amen

Wind In My Sails

wind in my sails

My Dad was an electrician on a ship in the Navy and he told me stories of being on the ship.

I didn’t inherit the ship anointing. I did do a little sailing on what’s called a sailfin, a tiny sailing craft just larger than a wind surfboard. Two people can squeeze on with co-operation.

I practiced tacking back and forth a while in this quiet marina until I had enough confidence to bring Linda on board to show off my Captain’s skills.

Things went downhill badly while her fear and control took my confidence away. We ended up running aground in shallow water among the rocks as she abandoned ship.

It didn’t help that others on shore were watching and laughing at my humiliation and lack of control of my crew. At least I imagined them so.

If she would only trust me. Or maybe I just needed a little more training time with my crew and the rigging of the ship.

Although it was painful and my ego was bruised, my identity was intact because I had already proven to myself that I could do it alone.

Sailing alone is easier without the fear, power, and control another can bring on board. It’s how you do the navigating together that’s tricky. Are you Captain Ron, or the Co-dependant captain?

She was in the way of how I moved the sail. There were too many dynamics to navigate successfully! We were not an effective team.

Yes, alone is easier but lonely. Together may cost you more as you explore and resolve, but you will grow in love, and that will make you happier.

I would rather fail at sailing together, enduring a little humiliation but growing in love, than sail the seven seas alone and lonely, unchallenged and not growing.

The winds of the past

I am today what the wind in my sails has made me. The wind that’s blowing on me is made up of the influences that have shaped me into who I am.

They determine how I react, handle my emotions, use power, and get my needs met. They are the fabric of my relational dynamics and control how I behave in relationships.

These influences have come from my family of origin, the culture I live in, life’s experiences, beliefs I’ve developed and agreements I’ve made along the way.

As long as the winds of the past are blowing in my sails, I will keep reacting the same old way when my buttons get pushed. It doesn’t matter who pushes them. I can blame multiple others, but it’s my buttons that are the problem.

Whether it’s an identity button or some unhealed past wound or trauma when I feel the pain, my sails will fill and blow my ship in a predictable direction and pattern.

This leaves me having run aground hurting, confused and frustrated. I want to blame and go, the victim.

The only way for me to change the wind is to recognize where it’s coming from, track it back to its source, and do something about it.

This is growing in love, something God wants us to do.

New winds

The new wind is the truth that I am not a victim of who I’ve become from past influences or experiences.

I can challenge past influences as I become aware of the truth, then change my choices.

I can break bad agreements I’ve made that try to control me. My choices can then change the wind blowing in my sails. My destination can be made different.

The truth is, I’m not a victim. I don’t have to react that way, I can choose how I respond in any situation.

It’s gentle warfare that says; I can choose love. I can forgive. I can let go of past hurts and move on. I can heal and open my heart to love.

Awake O north wind, and come O south! Blow upon my garden, that its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its pleasant fruits. Song of Solomon 4:16 XO

I feel connected when…

I feel connected when…
  • We spend quality time together.
  • We slow things down enough to spontaneously do something fun together.
  • We determine to find enough reserve in our lives together to do that.
  • We’re present to each other without any screens to distract us.
  • We talk together about the season of life we’re in & how we feel about it.
  • We do a state of the union together, talking about how we feel we are doing in our marriage.
  • We talk about our needs. The ones that are being met & the ones that aren’t.
  • We can validate each other’s feelings without judgment or trying to fix each other.
  • We verbalize the stress and anxiety we feel and strategize how to alleviate it.
  • We invite each other into our fears and struggles and have the courage to go there.
  • We resolve our conflicts by fighting fair, discovering needs, and honoring feelings.
  • We aren’t being selfish & are saying kind things to each other.
  • We treat each other like lifelong partners & not inconveniences to what we want. XO

C’mon, Man!

If you watch the NFL, You’re familiar with the clip C’mon man! It’s a commentary of outtakes on different players in the league that do unconventional, uncool, or downright brainless things. These things violate the code of normal or proper conduct expected from professionals that are being paid the money they are to entertain us.

Unsportsman or non-professional conduct could get you on C ‘mon, man. You don’t want to be on C’mon man. One of my favorites, seen recently, was a fumble. Out of the scrum, a player darts back down towards the goal line with the recovered ball, his teammates following screaming after him.

The only problem is, he got turned around during the fumble recovery and he is running towards the wrong goal line, about to score a touchdown for the opposing team, or safety, however that works.

His screaming teammates are trying to stop him, not cheering him on. He isn’t listening however and one of his teammates has to tackle him scant feet before the goal line! C’mon man!

Bible C’mon, Man

In order to bring some humor to some sober subjects, I ‘m going to do some bible C’mon, Man! Perhaps some Christian C’mon Man! I could write a book on business C’mon Man’s! I’ve experienced. Christian ethics C’mon Man! I’ll start with;

Leadership and taking responsibility

The setting is in Exodus 32. Moses is up on the mount with God receiving the ten commandments. He’s taking too long, and the people are getting antsy.

The turn to idolatry

Exodus 32:1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron and said to him,

“Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

Israel was turning to idolatry, and Aaron ended up facilitating it. The high priest who represented God to the people, the priest who represented intercession for the sins of the people. Not the one offering the strategy to help them sin along with himself! C’mon, Man!

V. 2 And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”

V. 3 So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron.

All in, sin

V. 4 And He received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said,

“This is your God, O Israel, that brought you out of Egypt.”

V. 5 So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” (His proclamation of the idolatry they would commit on the altar he built before the calf.)

V. 6 Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

Intercession

God is angry and ready to wipe them all out but relents after Mose’s intercession for them.

V. 14 So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.

Confrontation & lies

Moses comes down, sees the idolatry taking place, and becomes angry. He burns the calf in the fire and makes Israel drink the ashes that he sprinkles in water. He then confronts Aaron with the situation;

V. 21 And Moses said to Aaron “what did these people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?”

V. 22 So Aaron said, “Do not the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil.” (Blame: it was the people…)

V. 23 “For they said to me, make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him. (You took too long, it’s your fault.)

V. 24 And I said to them, “Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.” So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out. C’mon, Man!!

Aaron didn’t come clean with his sin, and it cost Israel greatly. 3,000 would be slain that day by the Levites, and the plague would come. V.28

Moses intercedes again for the people, even offering his own eternal life for them V.32

V. 35 So the Lord plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.

We don’t know this, but the outcome could have been different, at least less severe, if Aaron had come clean and taken responsibility for his own sin, instead of offering broken leadership by sinning, and not interceding. By fearing the people rather than obeying and functioning in his role as priest, He threw Israel under the bus as it were, instead of confessing and forsaking his own sin, along with theirs.

Stay tuned for more C’mon, Man.

Prayer; Lord, help us to flee from Idolatry and take responsibility for our sin instead of blaming those around us. Deliver us from going with the flow of ungodliness whether it’s in the world or within the church. Empower us with your grace to live clean lives, and wait on you. Give us the courage to be salt and light and not be ashamed of the gospel that calls sin for what it is. May we not become Israel that lost the ability to blush, like the world around us. . Keep us pure in your love. In Jesus’ name. XO

Five ways to disarm depression

“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” Proverbs 12:25

1. Get in touch; “Why am I feeling anxious?”

The answer to this usually isn’t self-evident, so I can’t see what I’m choosing. I can’t change my choices until I’m aware of how I’m choosing. I can’t break an agreement I’m making If I can’t see it.

Depression and anxiety lurk beneath the surface of our awareness, and must be brought out into the light in order to be discerned. Then a “God given” strategy needs to be found, securing relief, restoring hope and joy.

Why are you cast down, O my soul ? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance Ps. 42:5

2. Accept your feelings, without judging yourself.

Feelings aren’t good or bad, they’re just there. I’ve noticed how anxiety is linked to my own invalidation of my feelings. I deny them, judging them as “bad, unacceptable, or not spiritual,” leaving me an unresolved emotional pool that produces anxiety.

I find relief when I give myself permission to feel, then process those feelings in the light of God’s acceptance and mercy, without incriminating myself. God can’t heal what we don’t accept about ourselves. My own self judgement may be feeding my depression.

3. Lower the bar

The first time I sat in front of a counselor, years ago, Donna said, after listening to me for a while, “Dan, you need to lower the bar.” I didn’t know there was a bar, let alone that I could actually lower it. This began a long journey for me, out of perfectionism and performance.

You live anxiously when you’re trying to meet up to a bar that’s unrealistically high. When it’s too high, you don’t breathe in the grace available from God, and it’s all work, with a sense of never “arriving.”

This can come from our family of origin, depressing, and stifling the joy and hope, that could be ours. It’s not as hard as we may be making it, and who wouldn’t be anxious and depressed living under a bar set so ungodly high?

Jesus said “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28 False yokes can make us anxious, prideful, and legalistic.

What we’re imposing on ourselves, we tend to project onto others.

4. Check your expectations

Most agree that unrealized expectations can feed into anxiety leading to depression.

Who hasn’t met with disappointment in life, from unrealized hopes and dreams about our destiny, status, occupation, or marriage? Who can say “life has worked out the way I expected?” This is a large battleground for depression.

I will live a depressed life, until I can reconcile, and accept reality, as opposed to what I expected, from God, others, and myself. I will experience anxiety when I fight against the “way it is,” as opposed to the “way it should be, or should have been.” I will be ungrateful, withholding from God, demanding a different path, offering psychic resistance, not surrendering.

I may be sitting down on the outside, but standing up on the inside. We could be cursing our inheritance, demanding something dead or idolatrous, thinking we know better than God, instead of enjoying the path He Himself has laid out, being grateful for it. This can be depressing. David said;

O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines are fallen in pleasant places; yes I have a good inheritance.” Psalm 16:5,6

5. Release control

Surrendering control to a good God, who knows best, is our journey of faith, spiritual growth, and freedom from our control issues. Identity and self image are part of this, and God is relentless in His pursuit of our hearts. He wants hearts alive to love and mercy, not chained to our own self-enslavement, be it expectations, demands for answers, or attempts at self mastery.

I will be anxious and battle depression if I am “white knuckling it,” trying to maintain control of my life, circumstances, identity, and destiny.

I must surrender to be free from anxiety, trusting the one who feeds the sparrows, and asks “why are you fearful and anxious?” The One who says, “Come unto Me to find rest for your souls.”

I recommend Philip Yancey’s book “Disappointment with God.” A good read. Check out my resource page on this site. My “out of control living series” is born out of our need to surrender control to find peace. Our fear keeps us chained to control and self-protection, afraid to risk faith or love. Our natural mind demands answers and must know “why.” We cannot engineer a risk free deal. “The just shall live by faith.”

I hope this helps, and pray for every reader to find, wisdom, truth, and self awareness, through these words that I hope will bring God close to you. I pray for breakthrough and light bulb moments for every bondage. In Jesus Name, our Redeemer who is mighty!

Leave me some comments. Dan XO

Five things to know before you say “I do.”

The more you know going in, the better the chances of your marriage succeeding.

One half of all marriages don’t make it, Christian or not.

Confessing God doesn’t give you relational skills, they must be learned, and fought for.

Knowing God, without self discovery does not insure success.

You can confess God, and live in denial, not taking responsibility for who you are.

There’s nothing like getting married to find this out.

Linda and I have been married 32 years. This is neither of our first marriages.

1. Know who you are

Know yourself, before saying yes. They won’t complete you, only God can. They can enhance you, not complete you. We grow in identity our entire life, but an insecure, or undefined one, brings in unrealistic expectations about completion.

2. Know who they are

Get to know the real them. Not just the romantic them. Know them through the fire, or you don’t know them. The responsible, reliable, trustworthy, respectful, them. If they don’t honor your feelings and needs before “I do,” they won’t honor you after. What you see is what you get. You can grow together, but you will be unable to change each other.

3. Know your expectations

We all carry expectations into relationships. Unfortunately we don’t discover them until we experience the pain and conflict of them not being met. We increase our chances of success, when we develop patterns of honest, open communication about what we expect. We talk about how we feel, and what it would look like, if what we expect, was being met. Learn to negotiate in the relationship, developing give & take dynamics. You will use this over and over.

4. Know your needs, and how you will meet them

Discover your three biggest needs, and discuss how you will meet them in each other. Our needs are tied to our “love languages.” If my need is “words of affirmation,” I will feel loved by expressions of appreciation, validation, and honor. Don’t think ego, think, not taken for granted. Think, affirmation vs. invalidation, or denigration. A woman can build her man up or tear him down. A man can do the same to her. Her need could be security, or feeling protected. Her feelings around this need could involve understanding, and validation of what that looks like. Discovering and meeting needs is the life blood of intimacy. Exploring and validating keep things cooking.

5. Learn to fight fair

Learning to communicate and fight fair are the most important tools to succeed in relationship. Being secure in yourself, also helps in not being defensive, or threatened by the differing opinion of another. Compatibility is over rated in relationship. Immaturity, insecurity, and inability to communicate and handle differences, is more the problem. Take some classes, read books, and process them together. Your chances at success will skyrocket. “Happily ever after,” is not a Disney swirl, it’s the result of hard work, and learning to truly love. XO

For associated resource books, visit the resource page on this website.

Ghosts in time

We are eternal ghosts in a temporal timeline.
Shimmering like a mirage, there but not, we live out our days.
Like mirrors, reflecting either glory or death, our choice given.
Spirits eternally young, in wonder watching, time tolling on our bodies.
Tethered to an eternal God, in His image, time passes.
Waiting, we watch with hope for the door to open.
Older we become, more accepting, anticipating the inevitable.
No need to control the path, surrendering to its mystery.
Price paid, grace supplied, all is rest, embraced in wisdom.
Hope transcends fear, death is swallowed up in victory.
No longer strangers and pilgrims, the ghosts come home.
So, teach us to number our days, hearts applied to Wisdom.

Barrel of monkeys; Balance in an over committed world

They’re in the trees, waiting to jump

When they jump

It’s Friday evening, following a hectic, full, fast paced week, running the business. I need a letdown, to unwind and recharge, catch my breath and find my balance.

As I pull into the driveway, the phone rings. It’s this new builder I’m building a relationship with. I better take this.

“Hi Dan, I’m sorry to be calling this late, but I’ve got this emergency job I need a favor on. It’s a small little thing, but I need you to take a look at it as soon as you can…”

I kick the can down the road til Monday morning, but I already know that Monday is committed and gone, as well as the rest of the week, and most of the next. A holiday will take one of the Mondays, and what about the ones I’ve committed to that are hanging, waiting for me to get to them?

What the monkeys bring

This is the barrel of monkeys, another one always in the trees waiting to jump. You can’t see them, but next thing you know they’re on your back, wanting a piece of the pie, screaming and pulling your hair. They don’t care if you’re burned out, or your needs are met or not. They’re always needy, and carry the responsibility of you solving their problem.

How do they get there?

I co-dependently let them in. My need for approval and acceptance awakens the rescuer within, I put on my superman outfit, or captain america, depending on the role, and add another monkey to the group on my back. You may be Captain Marvel, or Zena or something. The roles remain the same, one carries more bling.

If we are broken, we let everyone put the monkey on our back. With the reputation of being loyal and dependable, we are there to answer the call of too many monkeys. People with needs can tell if you have a monkey shaped saddle on your back, and they are happy to fill it with their monkeys. It’s incredible how many can fit on. I guess as many as our performance & perfectionism will allow.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms give themselves away through our emotions. What I’m feeling, is the giveaway to what’s going on. The feeling is the trigger button that pushes me over the edge. I will feel constrained or compelled, to act a certain way, to cave in and say yes when it should be a no.

I get pushed into an unrealistic estimation of what I can reasonably do, and kick into a performance superman mode. A form of denial is entered into.

“I can handle this. I can make it work.”

Stress & Anxiety

Predictably, stress increases as the monkeys clamor for more and more of my energy, time, and resources. This is magnified if your spouse has taken on too many monkeys. She needs help with hers too. “Husband love your wives even as…” what about serving? The “helpmate thing” whatever that looks like, depending on your beliefs. Come on.

Guilt from expectations & beliefs

Guilt that you “can’t do more, or should be able to…” can keep us tethered to overperforming.

Fear

Fear is involved, and needs exposed for us to see it operating. I have found the Holy Spirit more than willing to show me these dynamics when I’m interested in owning them. Fear of abandonment.

What if they abandon me if I say no, and find someone else?

What if I lose the work, and money for security if I offend them?

What if they stop liking me, if I don’t perform?

What can I do to unload these monkeys?

  • Own your problem, rather than blame the monkey, or the one who put it there.
  • Take responsibility for your own brokenness that can’t or won’t say no.
  • Own your fear of man, of disappointing, or letting him or her down by refusing them.
  • Start putting yourself first, when appropriate, instead of others, to gain their approval, or worship.
  • Course adjustments are normal and needed. Restate your core values, and make decisions that reflect those values, even if others disapprove, or don’t like it.
  • Take responsibility to get in touch with your own needs, and meet them in healthy ways, that won’t hurt your life, or your relationships with God and others.
  • Back off your inner tyrant, and extend grace to yourself. Be kind, and let Jesus put His yoke upon you that is easy and light.
  • Be direct, honest, and clear with others about what you can and cannot do.
  • Remember others don’t know how many monkeys you have on your back, unless you tell them.
  • Represent yourself with respect, courage, and love towards others. Sometimes a little clear communication can change everything in a lot of our relationships.
  • Silence the lying tapes of the enemy about yourself and others, remembering people aren’t the enemy, but we are in a warfare. Love wins the battle.
  • If you do these things, you will increase and abound, and you might even survive the journey, salvage some relationships, and even save your marriage. XO

What I Really Need

May I practice your presence Lord, instead of that of another. May I seek the comfort of your love when I feel the need for cover.

The empty need I feel inside, I can never meet, it’s only through surrender, and sitting at your feet.

We think we’ll find the things we need in many different faces, when really we’re just seeking love in mostly the wrong places.

Loving Spirit come and be the compass of my soul. Draw me from false substitutes, and love me till I’m whole.

I choose to leave the desert of deceptive idolatry, and practice the presence of the One who sets my spirit free.

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One is the loneliest number

Many of you will remember the Three Dog Night song, with the single piano chord repeating… “One is the loneliest number, that you’ll ever do… Two can be as bad as one, it’s the loneliest number since the number one…

I talked with a divorced woman at the fairgrounds the other evening at an event Linda and I were attending for the Aurora Chamber of Commerce. The topic of writing came up and I gave her one of my cards. She was about my age, and I told her I was writing on loneliness, even in marriage.

She remembered the song, agreeing how painful it can be to be married to someone, yet unable to connect, and experience loneliness. “Two can be as bad as one..” She then shared as much of her story as time permitted, before we all went to feed the goats in the petting zoo.

This is for all the lonely people,

No stranger to loneliness, I spent nine years in a “faith” wilderness of legalism, waiting for the restoration of my first marriage, that wouldn’t come. It was a wilderness devoid of grace, and I had yet to meet the “God of the second chance.”

“Having faith,” pursuing God, and holiness with everything I had, only reinforced legalism, and a distorted image of a perfect Father from whom I was trying to earn love. I was also trying to convince Him how much I loved Him, by “proving my love.”

Inner healing hadn’t arrived on the scene yet, and counseling wasn’t an option since it would be “trusting in man, rather than God.” The healing I’m talking about is where lies are broken over you concerning false beliefs and distorted images of who God is. These images keep you from receiving the unconditional love grace offers.

I remember the first time, in a Vineyard church, hearing of the Father heart of God, being introduced to grace, and the tenderness of the Father. I’d not known that before, and it seemed too good to be true.

I stood up front with many others during “ministry time,” tears streaming down my face, as the love of God was proclaimed over us, and the embrace of the father. He was beginning to heal my Father’s image and this healing continues.

I ‘d lost so much, and the only model I knew looked like works and striving for self-redemption. The family model at home was “them that does gets.” Works will get you rewarded. It’s an easy thing to bring that model into religion, where performance gets reinforced.

The thing about performance, and working for God’s love, is that it’s never enough. It also creates distance. The harder we work for God, the farther we feel from Him. He doesn’t want our work, He wants our heart. Matthew 11:28

The same thing happens in relationships. If I ‘m performing for Linda’s love, or she for mine, it creates distance, and we can’t feel each other’s love. Trying to gain love or approval through works or striving is false love, coming from our perfectionism, and people-pleasing validation needs. It makes us fake, blocking our deep heart.

We still have to battle those patterns 33 years married later. I think it’s a “works DNA” that came from the fall. We feel like we need to do penance and work off our shame an impossible task.

Performance creates striving, and anxiety as we try to work off feelings of distance, instead of talking honestly about them and why they’re there,

We’re able to discover these dynamics when there’s safety, and we make a covenant not to judge or invalidate each other. I can risk vulnerability if I have a safe partner. We tell each other what safe looks like.

We may feel threatened by emotional honesty. It’s a learned skill taking time and practice. You can’t connect without it, and you’ll remain feeling lonely until you take some courageous risks to open up.

One of my marriage mantras is “Deal with the real.” You have to stop fighting for power and control, and game-playing, and talk about what’s really going on, and how you feel about what’s going on.

The late Dennis Leonard used to say; “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.”

I take people through a “state of the union” evaluation. As each part of the “couple,” you rate how you think it’s going, by answering a battery of questions.

Then you can start from where you really are, rather than from where you think you are. It’s very eye-opening, and helpful. You talk about how you feel about the “state,” then talk about what could help.

Another mantra is “represent yourself with integrity.” This means you dare to tell the truth to your partner about how you feel in the relationship. Truth, honesty, and validation. # Validate. Stand up for yourself, it can’t always be about them, or you.

If you feel dishonored, not cared for, neglected, your needs not being met, and so forth, say so. Then offer what it would look like to meet that need. Be clear and specific, get in touch. Can they do that? Negotiate.

Stand up for what you need, and negotiate ways for those needs to be met. Otherwise, you may remain a passive victim of a bad relationship.

A word about victim dynamics before I finish this. We aren’t bad people because we’ve failed at relationship, or because of abuse, or sexual brokenness. This is the human condition Jesus died for. He didn’t come to condemn, but to save.

Jesus told the woman at the well, who had been with five husbands, and was presently living with someone, to “Go get your husband.” He went straight to her sexual brokenness as a starting point for relationship with her. It’s as if He was saying; “let’s start there.” Remember Mary Magdalene, check out her story.

I’m trying to bring hope by saying; “God wants to heal us up, set us free, and give us intimacy.” But it’s only going to work as we surrender our hearts to Him, and become a safe place for another person to connect to us.

Otherwise it’s another heartbreak, and we don’t want that. That’s the way of the world, and the highway is littered with those casualties.

We all carry baggage, and His love calls us to throw that backpack on the table, and unpack it with those who love us and can pray us through. We need to be honest, and own our stuff. We all have it.

I was nine years divorced, before I married Linda. My healing didn’t really begin until I married her, then I was in for the ride of my life which still continues today. It’s better than ever, and the best is yet to come.

We refuse to live an unresolved relationship, or a disconnected one. I want and need more connection than she does. I don’t complain, or attack her because I’m not getting what I need.

I take responsibility for what I need, then communicate. I initiate, she responds. I can’t blame her for what I’m not getting. It’s my responsibility. I must press in. Not complain, blame, or punish. Communicate.

She’s not my slave, though in my brokenness I might make her one. She’s her own person, with her own identity, goals, likes, dislikes, ambitions, habits, just like me, which is healthy.

In my own insecurity, I’ve had to let go of, and die to, a lot of stereotypes and ideals that are imprisoning rather than freeing. It’s been hard, but liberating.

We all can bring things to our relationships that don’t promote freedom. God in His love exposes them to us. They could be idols, these things that try to control our personalities, and steal joy from our lives.

God is jealous and will pursue our hearts and show us these things because He loves us.

We have to get “out of control,” and surrender to His lordship. I heard a young man in a sermon today about God’s love say; “He holds the keys, we don’t.”

When he holds the keys, he unlocks our freedom, when we try to hold the keys and control, it leads to addiction. XO Dan.

I welcome your story, comments, and feedback. You can e-mail me at outofcontrolliving@gmail.com

Interpreting offenses; Accessing Grace

When something happens that hurts me, I tend to feel betrayed, used, or taken advantage of. I internalize things, and can get stuck in a “paralysis of analysis,” where I try to make sense of things and figure it all out. My perfectionism and “need to please,” personality tries to trap me in consternation. Of course, control is always around, involving my need to surrender my will to God and what He wills.

I’m only able to find my way out by relaxing my demands on myself, and the dynamic, and limiting the value I place on the whole thing. Easier said than done, but possible by extending grace to myself, and choosing not to make it a catastrophe.

I try to consider it more as a “realignment” that God is making, in me and my relationships, and look to Him for the understanding and clarity He wishes to extend for the moment. It’s usually less than I want, but enough to find relief for the next step.

I have found in life that clear, situation resolving answers are not often provided by Him. Those answers are grown into as I co-operate with Him, surrender, and obey what He’s showing me the best I can.

Some of those answers are never provided. Look at God’s response to Job. He was given no explanations or answers to “why did this happen?” What he got was enough though.

I’ve found that there’s more grace available to me than I give myself permission to take.

The result is that I’m harder on myself than God is. He doesn’t create the legalistic prisons for me to languish in, I see to that myself, even if it kills me. Then Jesus shows up smiling, rattles the keys at me, opens the door and we laugh together.

By grace are you saved through faith…

The need for grace; how to receive it.

In order to enjoy the grace that’s ours, we must first break the lies that are blocking grace. The first lie being that there’s none available to you. The truth is that it is available to me, but my belief tries to keep me from accessing it.

Grace blocking lies, all based on performance & perfectionism, creating hopelessness & anxiety.

  • Lie: You caused this, now it’s up to you to fix it. IE self redemption, mastery.

All these beliefs come out of a performance based belief system, having it’s roots in our family of origin, and the performance culture of the world and religious system we “live and move and have our being in.” This false belief feeds the world’s culture of self mastery and willfulness that does not evidence the fruits of surrender to God, nor humility, and is humanistic at it’s core.

This belief, transferred to the church, feeds legalism and the religious spirit, and can grow to persecute those who don’t “keep the rules,” and perform for the acceptance of the “culture.”

We can do nothing to redeem ourselves, we can surrender to His redemption. . “For when we were still without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly.” Rom. 5:6

  • Lie; If you had only been more discerning, able to hear God, you could have made different choices, and you wouldn’t be in this mess now. In other words, it’s your fault, and now you have to pay for it, or fix it.

You can always discern whether the wisdom you are listening to is God or not, by the sound of the whip cracking, and the feel of the lash across your back. The devil uses condemnation, shame, and performance pressure to get us working on futility.

Grace says even if you “missed God,” (and there may be no evidence you did,) God will redeem it. There is grace for our mistakes, and even at times our rebellion. Consider Jonah, who ran from the call of God. He went through some hard times, but grace was there, in the belly of the whale, then at Nineveh.

Later in Jonah’s story, grace was again demonstrated when Nineveh repented and God spared the city, exposing Jonah’s religious heart of “the sons of thunder” whom Jesus said “You know not what spirit you are of” when the disciples wanted fire and brimstone rained down on those resisting His ministry. Jonah wanted His “prophetic word” validated, rather than see a city spared by the mercy of God.

“Perfectionism is self abuse of the highest order.” Anne Wilson Schaeff

Here is the false belief behind the discernment lie;

“If I have enough discernment, obey God enough, and seek Him with all my heart, then I will not get into situations that cost me, hurt me, or create stress.” “I can discern my way out of all badness.”

The bible doesn’t teach that. Godly characters were getting into trouble all the time, and it had nothing to do with “lack of discernment,” or “missing God.” In fact, being in the middle of God’s will, close to His heart can put you right in the middle of a trial.

Look at Daniel in the lion’s den, his three friends in the fiery furnace. Surrender to God in itself brings trials. Consider Paul, who was beaten and imprisoned for casting out the spirit of divination from the witch following them around. Read Hebrews 11 again, they were all “having faith.”

Then there’s Jesus in Matthew 13 telling the parable of the sower and the seed. The seed that fell in the “stony places this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; Yet he has no root in himself but endures only for awhile. For when tribulation & persecution come because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”

He stumbles for the false belief held, saying, “if I serve God and obey Him, life won’t hurt”. He doesn’t see pressure and trial as God’s instrument for growth & character, rather as something to be engineered around willfully. It doesn’t work, and only bears the fruit of stress and anxiety. There can be no endurance and fruit without surrender. We can’t be saved only by the “loaves & fishes.,” avoiding the trial of faith, or the cross.

It is a deception if we interpret trial and difficulty as God’s displeasure in us, or “lack of blessing” when we suffer in relationship, business, or just the difficulties of life. This is how God grows our faith. James 1:2-4 Psalm 105:19

What if it’s our pride and control that’s lying to us, telling us that we are responsible to engineer a trial free life? A “life without struggle, and love without pain?” What if the pride and control is saying, if it’s broke then by gosh you better get on to fix it!

We have access by faith into this grace in which we now stand… Rom. 5:2 XO

Forsaking Fear

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. Proverbs 29:25

Those of you on the journey with me know that this transformation mountain is one you climb a step at a time. Revealed truth is grown into through process. From glory to glory, faith to faith. That is the journey.

As I look at the title at the top, I feel it mocking me, as if I can just make the choice, and forsake fear once and for all, forever free from it’s tyranny. It doesn’t work that way. Fear is loosened little by little, as I surrender the hooks that the fear grabs onto, when God shows them to me. Unfortunately it takes fire and pressure for them to be revealed.

My biggest anxiety makers seem to develop in the marketplace, where most of my time is spent these days. I chose the above scripture since most of the fear in my life involves the relationships I’m in.

We must acknowledge the truth of who we are, and own our patterns in order to possess the promised land of spiritual growth.

Here’s what I’ve been seeing as I’ve been put in situations out of my control, with a lot of pressure on them.

It could be impossible deadlines involving schedule and timing, that I kill myself to achieve. This is my unconscious attempt at meeting my need for validation in an unhealthy way. I may need to say “that won’t work for me, or I can’t do that.” Standing up for myself, meeting my need, regardless of their response or attitude. (Since their response no longer defines me.)

He’s exposing me in my role with other people. I want to resent them for “putting so much pressure on me,” when I am the one imposing the pressure on myself, with my performance, and need to be “approved of.” In other words, I want people to like me, so the more I do for them, the more they will like me, and be pleased with me. I’m not aware of this going on, it’s built into who I am.

God sets me up like this: He puts me in a situation where it is impossible for me to “come through” for someone. Recognize the feeling? Circumstances will fly completely out of my control into the realm of the impossible. I am exposed by the intense anxiety and fear I feel because I am going to “let them down.”

There is a snare in it because it causes me to fear man to gain approval. I will sell myself out, even forsaking healthy boundaries, to avoid disapproval. This is God working on identity.

The anxiety drives me in desperation to God, who shows me what’s going on. The Holy Spirit unpacks the whole thing for me, and I surrender it for surgery. It has to be a complete surrender involving my will and attempts at control. I can do nothing about the circumstances, except cry out for His help.

I am seeing over and over again, as I trust Him with the outcome, that it doesn’t matter what the other person is expecting or thinking. The thing that matters is what God is doing. As I step aside in humble surrender, through grace, He always handles the other side in a remarkable way evoking worship, and thanksgiving. The process is repeated in the next lesson, on His timetable, requiring fresh faith, and renewed surrender.

It’s not the enemy, it’s not the other person, it’s God! He’s teaching me to recognize this process, and yield to Him through it. As I do that, the journey through is shorter each time. I have come to believe that our surrender has a lot to do with the length of our trials. When “endurance has had her perfect work,” what God is after has been accomplished, and things will change. James 1:4

Whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe…

When I do make the choice to trust in Him, I have found that I am safe from;

1 The expectations of others

Expectations can be awful, and the enemy can do a number on us when we feel we aren’t meeting up to those of others. The devil can and will distort reality here through fear. Some expectations are distorted through our own performance and perfectionism.

Remember transformation comes through surrender. I will miss it completely if I focus on the “other” and blame them for the pressure, or try to bind it away. There’s a time for that but not here. There’s more authority in surrender than shouting anyway.

2. What others are thinking

Talk about the fear of man being a snare! You know the mind battles that insecurity brings. I must not “over-perform,” to control how others think about me. Fear is the engine of control. Identify the fear, own it, renounce it, and you will find the door to surrender.

“God has not given me the spirit of fear, but power, love, and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Anxiety will always betray it’s operation if you are aware. You will be tempted & pressured to leave the place of rest and take over.

Whenever I am worrying about what “they might be thinking,” there will be torment and bondage, and more striving and anxiety will come.

Talk with the Lord about it, get a dialogue going, tell Him how you feel, hold nothing back.

I will surrender to the pressure cooker of God, which will help me to lower the bar of my performance and perfectionism, to say yes to Him as He frees me. I need to run to Him as my Refuge and my Fortress, my Rock and my High Tower. Time and again, yielding brings the miracle as I surrender to the perfect love that casts out all fear. All He wants is that yes. Pray for me and I will pray for you. XO I welcome your comments and stories!

The Lord is on my side, I will not fear, what can man do to me? Psalm 118:6

Security, Trust, & Healing

Intimacy in marriage is one of my core values. A marriage hurts when intimacy is not present. Intimacy is not just sex, although it’s an important component. It’s agonizing to hear of sexless marriages; they are out there, some anorexic at best. When someone asks “how often should you have sex in marriage?” My answer is “as often as possible.” I have scripture for that. Check out proverbs 5:15-23 How’s that for a hook? The message is clear, when things are cooking at home… I think the words “always,” and “at all times,” are used in v. 19 ( at least in my NKJV)

We are created as sexual beings without shame, for God’s purposes; through His power, we steward our sexuality to bring Him glory through our marriage, and avoid shame, by not taking sex, in any form, out of the context of covenant. Can she trust you? Can you trust her? Do your actions warrant trustworthiness? We are what we do and think about.

Someone said intimacy is “into-me-see.” Kind of like in Avatar; “I See You…”

This is not a married singles model, where you are both doing your own thing, meeting your needs outside the relationship. That’s a recipe for eventual disaster, with a nuclear meltdown in the relationship, usually not salvageable. Emotional honesty, and willingness to press into truth together, as a couple, produces intimacy. You push past pretense, ego and power games, involving manipulation and control, and “deal with the real.”

Where do you sabotage, because you can’t trust? Get honest, and talk about your styles, and what you do to each other. Own It. Try to avoid dead ends in your communication. Learn to press beyond where you normally get, by discarding hurtful patterns that are immature. Paul said “When I became a man, I put away childish things.” “C’mon man!”

You learn how to resolve conflict, and deal with the baggage of your past that wants to hang on. You don’t make your partner pay your emotional bills, because you aren’t willing to face the truth about yourself and grow. You stop the blame game, leave the victim role, and learn to take responsibility. That’s what becoming one is, it isn’t a game. It’s two people growing together, with a mutual commitment to deal with the weeds that are choking out intimacy. You tend the garden together, for fruitfulness.

Linda and I had a little blow up yesterday morning.  Omg. I liken it to stepping on a mine in a minefield; you don’t know it’s there, and boom, without warning, and you’re left checking for all your body parts. You have to find a way to stop the bleeding. Tourniquets and such.

We haven’t unpacked it yet, but we will. We have the security in the relationship, that we don’t have to be 100% resolved, 24/7. That’s perfectionism, and setting the bar too high. We won’t punish each other emotionally, or manipulate to get our way though. That’s dishonoring, and breaks intimacy, creating distance. No sulking and pouting!

We refuse to curse each other with our words, or use sarcasm. (unless we are depleted, and the flesh takes over), then we have the security, and permission to call each other out on it. We hold each other accountable, and refuse to let things deteriorate, and become destructive. We’re better than that.

Refuse to escalate. Break it off if you have to, but set a time to come back to it later, and unpack it without electronic, or other distractions. Give yourselves time to process it, and let God show you what’s going on in your heart, then disclose it in humility to each other, during quality time together. It hurts, but that’s how we grow, and the rewards meet our deepest needs.

And we know we’re in a warfare, the enemy smells blood in the water, and seeks to devour us. We have to resist him together with his lies and offenses. I like the image of us back to back in our armor facing out to fight the enemy and not each other. We have each other’s back, and forgive and resolve as much as possible.

You can’t have the intimacy I’m talking about unless you have security. That means you are safe enough, to handle the truth in yourself and your spouse, without invalidating, and dishonoring each others hearts, and feelings.

The key to intimacy is developing the communication skills to honor and validate each others hearts, desires, and feelings.

It’s hard work, requiring surrender of your insecurities, inadequacies, and identity needs to Jesus, letting him nail those to the cross. Then you aren’t defending yourself, being right, trying to get your needs met from your spouse. If you don’t do this, you will default and make it about you, remaining unable to see their heart that needs your love to heal, as much as you need theirs. Narcissism blinds you to everyone except yourself.

These words are strong because they need to be, and the truth sets us free. I’m sure you’ve noticed how sick and twisted the world is we live in. We owe it to God and ourselves, to deal with our stuff, and honor Him with Godly marriages. We ourselves will benefit by going into the promised land of intimacy, by learning to love unselfishly and unconditionally, becoming one, as safe places for one another to grow and heal.

I leave you with a trust poem I wrote;

Can I Trust You?

Can I trust you with my heart, and the things that are inside?

Will I be accepted for who I am , or will I run and hide?

There are things about myself, I’m not sure it’s safe to share.

It hurts when I’m mishandled, I need love and tender care.

Can I trust you with my heart, to tell you how I feel?

Can you handle what I tell you, and love me so I can heal?

I really want to trust you, and make you my safe place,

To know that you won’t judge me, and you will give me grace.

I really want to trust you, and run to you at last,

I need to overcome my hurts, and betrayals from the past.

I opened up my heart to them, risking all to love,

But only got a broken heart, rejection, and a shove.

I really want to trust you, with all that’s in my soul,

You can help me do that, and offer love to make me whole.

A love that’s unconditional, without it’s harsh demands,

A love that’s understanding, with kind and gentle hands.

A love that can listen well, accepting every part,

A love that has the mercy to heal my broken heart. Dan XO

Working or Resting?

For the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. Hebrews 7:19

I’ve decided the devil has a pretty good memory, and he seems very diligent about keeping my memory intact concerning past sins. He also likes to amplify my present weakness, and vulnerability.

Shame is associated with this mental traffic my enemy likes to run on the freeways of my mind.

I was driving into town for my workday, and became aware of what I was feeling. When I’m not feeling hopeful, with depression lurking around the edges of my consciousness, the enemy is afoot. It’s hard to see what we live with, till God shines His light on it. Ps. 119:30

I’ve come to believe this striving associated with shame, is connected to my own efforts to redeem myself, trying to work off the disconnect I feel within, rather than coming to Jesus, my High Priest, who has dealt with all things connected to my humanity, sinfulness or struggle. Hebrews 8:1

The key to freedom lies in our choice at the point of battle in our minds. What we choose to do, and what we choose to believe will win or lose the battle for us.

When shame shows up

When the devil reminds me of some sin of my past, accusing me, telling me;
“That’s who you are.” It’s time for me to resist him.

It started in the Garden. Adam’s first response to God when He came after His man was;

he (Adam), said, “I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

And He, (God), said, “who told you that you were naked?” Gen; 3:10,11

Of course, we know it was the devil who told Adam that he was naked, and began shaming him, causing him to withdraw from God, and try to figure out what he could do to fix things. A futile endeavor. “Maybe these fig leaves can repair what I’ve done…”

Jesus loves us, desiring to free us from our prisons, wherever we are enslaved, in our bodies, emotions, and our minds. Jn. 8:36

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds. Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

The Devil’s Ground

Jesus called the devil a thief in John 10:10 who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The devil has warred with God over the identity of man since the garden. He seeks to orphan the sons of men, shaming their identity, imprisoning them in sin and chains, not belonging, or knowing their true identity. The warfare is real, and the only way to win this battle is with spiritual weapons.

The devil’s strategy is to seduce us onto his turf to do battle, with carnal weapons, our own efforts, under the law. He does this because he knows we can never beat him on his terms. His terms are getting us to work, trying to achieve the goal of self redemption, rather than trusting in Jesus, and the power of His blood that finished the work, “once for all.” Hebrews 7:27

For me, it plays out like this; The devil will remind me of something from years past, seeking my agreement with him about my identity. I marvel at the clarity of memory. He will then say,

“look at this, what are you going to do about it? You’re naked, there’s shame connected to that reality, what are you going to do?”

My Reply

“I’ll tell you what I’m going to do devil, I’m bringing you, and your lying accusations to Jesus, and the blood, and I’m going to let the blood speak for me. You are going to have to deal with Him, my high priest, and intercessor, I’m out.”

“And they overcame him, (the devil,) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Rev. 12:9

Letting The Blood Speak

It’s either working, or resting, when it comes to our righteousness. The devil wants us working to obtain it, God wants us receiving it as a gift of grace through faith. I refuse to measure myself, evaluating my “works” standing. when the enemy shows up to shame. The blood is my only appeal, and is quite effective, and more than enough.

Romans 4:4,5 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but of debt. But to him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.

Romans 5:9
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

Heb. 12:24 …We come to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

This is taken from the story in Genesis 4 where Cain kills his brother Abel.

Genesis 4:10 And He, (God), said;

“What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.”

When the devil tries to shame me, and lure me onto His ground of law, works, and earning my own righteousness, I bring Him to the cross, hear Jesus shout “it is finished!” and let the blood speak for me. It’s all I need, and the battle is won, as the sound of the blood, speaking for me drowns out any accusation that could come from the serpents mouth.

This voice, from Abel’s blood, cried for revenge, justice, retribution, a penalty to be paid. The blood of Jesus speaks “better things,” than that of Abel’s blood. These better things are mercy, holiness,forgiveness, righteousness, justification.

Hebrews 10:19-23 Therefore brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest of all by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

Prayer;

Lord Jesus; thank you for the blood that tore the veil and gives me access into the holiest of all. Show me how to draw near with confidence and full assurance of faith. I let the blood speak for me declaring me holy, righteous, and forgiven. Thank you that the accuser of the brethren is cast down, and I don’t even have to deal with him. I overcome him by the blood of the lamb, and my testimony. Thank you for wisdom to defeat the devil, as you secure my identity in you. Shame and fear have no place in me. In your precious name. Amen! XO

Out of control choices

Which one is the rescuer, or the victim?

Intruder alert!

Looking at my ringing cellphone, instant anxiety, reading the caller ID, warning me it’s my brother, a year older than I. The drug addicted homeless one, who never calls to give me anything, except another hard luck down and out story, with the appeal for another rescue for him, and his plight.

My heart always hurts after his calls, leaving me feeling hopeless, anxious, guilty, and a little desperate. This is because I still have codependent, victim buttons, he is able to access and push. God is healing and strengthening me in this process, supplying me with the grace and hope I need to gain a healthy perspective, establishing appropriate boundaries. Only these limits can protect me from the fallout and consequences if I make unhealthy choices regarding him, involving my emotions and needs. (I’m helping him, but what am I after?)

Acting like my best friend and loving brother, he’s really an intruder, who’s only agenda is to take advantage, and use me. A painful, costly, relating history bears this out. His selfish choices to remain addicted, and not take responsibility for anything, sabotages any normal healthy relating. The relationship improves, and is safer with distance and limits.

I keep believing, hoping there’s something in the relationship for me, other than pain, disappointment, and a feeling of being used again.

I enter into an unhealthy victim role of rescuer and enabler, when I try to save another from their own bad choices and outcomes. The child cannot learn responsibility if the parent rescues them from their poor choices. The adult child will be looking for a handout or rescuer, instead of learning responsibility and maturity, and owning their choices, living with them.

Truth statement; I am not responsible for the choices of another, or the resulting consequences.

Loving from a distance

We can’t control the choices of others. Their choices are “out of control”. Some of the most stressful situations we get into, involve the choices of others we are powerless to control. The spouse, or wayward child, mom or dad.

Anxiety and stress accompany these dynamics, because we can’t control the outcomes of the choices of others. However, we are not victims of other’s or their choices, if we let God show us where we’re in unhealthy roles in relationship to these people, and stop enabling and rescuing them.

It doesn’t mean we don’t love them, and help when God leads, but we don’t give our hearts in unhealthy ways to feel powerful, or garner their approval or acceptance, seeking validation in distorted ways.

It’s harder with family, and it usually is family, because we all have one, and are enmeshed in sibling, parent/child relationships. And many of us have a spouse, to get healthy with, in order to have an intimate, lasting marriage.

Spouses are not the enemy, or some curse, but God’s assignment to us, for our love to mature, and grow us out of our own selfishness and denial. You will either grow or bail. The next one, if you can keep them, will be the same or worse until you surrender your heart to what God is after. Don’t blame the devil, or your spouse, for what God is up to. You will find that in the mirror. Check out the resource page under books! XO

Thoughts about control

Thoughts about control

  • God won’t compete with our control.
  • When control enters the equation, God leaves it.
  • Wherever control enters our life, addiction accompanies it.
  • Whatever we try to control in life imprisons us, be it substance, power, sex, money, or relationship.
  • Surrender is the eventual release from all forms of control.
  • Surrender is the doorway to the grace that frees us.

Out of control living

This is the beginning.

Welcome to the out of control living blog. I am excited to get the page up, and find new friends to connect with! This has been a long time coming who’s time is now.

3.1.19 My goal is to post to this blog as often as possible, time permitting between running my contracting business, writing, and maintaining a vibrant marriage. If not always vibrant, at least life giving to both of us. We’re into our 32nd year XO

Notice I used the word maintaining. Better to maintain it now than pay spousal maintenance later, a condition that is in my history. Honesty is one of the core values I carry in life, and I want to carry that into my writing.

I want to be authentic, take off the masks, and share vulnerably to illustrate truth. I have to overcome fear of man, judgement by others, having acceptance and validation needs, like most of you do.

But I want to deal in the truth, and what’s real, otherwise it’s fake or religious, so why bother? As Brennan Manning states in Abba’s Child, I want to come out of hiding. Be my real self, instead of an imposter, trying to impress, or get my needs met though performance for acceptance.

Because of my story, history, and background, I will write a lot about relationships, spiritual growth, and taking responsibility. I will write about marriage, it’s presenting problems and solutions.. I have a marriage ministry background and am a relationship troubleshooting specialist, as I am in the electrical field. It’s how I’m wired, and I can see things that others can’t or don’t. It doesn’t make me anything, except able to help.

I Love Jesus, and serve Him with my life and my choices as much as I can. I will write about my relationship with Him, and the tension between Law and Grace that exists in the church, or religious circles. Legalism, and recovery from extremism is in my story.

I want to write to, and for others, to experience healing and comfort. I write for my own healing also, but out of that healing, and discovered grace, I can bring a more present, real, loving self to the page and to others.

By sharing story and truth, others can be liberated, and hopefully transformed by same wonderful Jesus, Heavenly Father, and Holy Spirit, who walk with me and hold my hand through the hardest places. Comfort, Hope, and Faith, are here for us all the time. My goal is to live in that reality. I hope to have a lot of followers.