I decided to write theart of letting go as I experienced some recent struggles while doing so. Things get more manageable when I can see what’s going on, then co-operate with it. It’s the self-awareness stuff we talked about last time. We cannot see what’s going on without looking in and observing with insight. A perspective we can only get from the “mirror.”
Letting Go Hurts
We struggle in letting go of things because there’s pain involved. The art of letting go is in understanding why it hurts to let that thing go, then processing the emotions involved. Sometimes it’s obvious and at other times it’s not because we tend to stuff our pain in denial or medicate it. (Why do I have to write about this stuff?)
I’ll Share First
A leadership principle in small group ministry is modeling vulnerability by honest sharing. It disarms others and they feel safe sharing, seeing you taking risks. What an honor to risk for love, discovery, and connected intimacy! You are my small group.
On the Course
A pastor friend occasionally invites me to golf with a foursome. I am honored that he pursues my company. I know it’s not because of my golf game. Some days are better than others, and hopefully there’s that one shot that brings you back for more. You’re a good golfer when all your shots are like that. Only golfers understand.
After our round, we sit around and chat over a beer after putting our clubs away in the parking lot. While throwing my clubs in the back of my truck, I noticed a father and his little boy getting their clubs together to go in for a round. I observed the boy with his miniature bag of clubs over his shoulder and back. He couldn’t have been four years old.
“I’ve never seen a golf bag that small before.”
I said to the father. We talked back and forth briefly as they turned to go in. He laughed as I said he may be the future Jordan Speith.
As they walked away and I watched the little boy, my heart began to ache deeply, and I thought
“What is this?“
I recognized the deep old pain, one I keep tucked away because it’s hard to live present to. This little boy represented the son I never had.
The one I actually had, but was required to “let go.” The pain is connected to loss. To what could have been but isn’t. This is the pain of
“When the healing doesn’t come, or when the restoration or answer doesn’t happen.”
It’s the disappointment with God piece. You believed and God didn’t do it.
“If He did, I would have it.”
Not Mine But Thine
It wasn’t until the next morning I was able to fully see what was going on with the image of that little boy with his tiny golf clubs. It had to do with letting go. It’s the transformation through surrender I write about. It’s the language of the heart where you hold yourself present to the pain there and surrender it to God. The answer to why is not answered in these moments. The question is not asked as He draws so near.
Part of the art of letting go is letting go of loss. We can’t forgive completely if we haven’t let go of our losses. We do this by accepting them. Yes, they happened. Yes it cost me dearly, no one will ever know how much. But God is sovereign, He is over all that, He is involved in all that. It’s not the devil, he’s on God’s chain. We need to say out loud,
“God, I accept what you have for me, and I accept what you don’t have for me. “
In one sense our words command our will and our emotions will follow. David said,
“I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise will continually be in my mouth.”
We will choose to “bless Him,” or we will burn out the energy of our life resisting life as it comes to us. All the time wishing it were something other than what it is. The art of letting go involves releasing our control and expectations of what life should be and surrendering into what it is.
Jesus was crucified between two thieves, the past and the future. What could have been and what should be. Both need crucified to live in the now. It doesn’t mean we can’t dream, but dreams live surrendered.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
I heard in a sermon, on the subject of suffering, that the desert,
Strengthens us to weather well.
Hard circumstances expose where we are entitled.
At the end of the day, many of the things we focus on just don’t matter.
God loves us so much He strips away all distractions.
Mystery & Healing
We won’t get our question answered in this life. We will get His love and abiding presence and peace. I can let go of anything in the presence of His power when I say yes to Him. To whatever He’s doing. And whatever He’s doing is good. It makes no sense to the mind of the flesh because it’s spiritual. That’s what Mystery is. Questions don’t get answered there only reality is experienced. I’ve decided God is very invested in emotional realities. These realities are keys to our healing if we will press into them, no matter how painful. We can trust the goodness of God.
One of the marriage mantras I teach is, “Deal with the real.” Gary Chapman who authored the Five Languages of Love, calls it Reality Living. In a nutshell it’s emotional honesty. It’s talking together about your emotional dynamics and realities as a couple. If the honesty doesn’t happen here, your dynamics will be fake and disconnected. You must face and connect over what’s really going on emotionally between the two of you. When you can honor these feelings, healing and intimacy begin.
Don’t have a target date yet but the book is getting closer. Ready to go to copy editing. Happily Ever After is getting closer to reality. Pray for this end as I pray for you all for the Grace to let go and trust yourself completely in the arms of the Father who always is looking for and embracing the prodigals. XO
When I was little, self awareness existed in the form of how much I wanted, how much I needed, and what I could do to get it. Manipulation is birthed here no doubt. This forms rather self-centered patterns that don’t serve us well as we grow and form relationships like marriage.
I was “aware” of what I was doing, even “sensing” it was wrong at times, but knew no other way. I began to experience guilt, along with shame and nowhere to bring it. I found no support in the tense home environment of emotional suppression. This creates a ticking time-bomb.
As we grow, hopefully emotionally as well as physically, we are called to grow into another kind of self-awareness. Let’s call it adult self-awareness. The inward focus in no longer selfish, but becomes the opposite.
I entered my first marriage relationship at nineteen with little or none of this adult self-awareness. With the lack of this or any relational skills, two years was a long time before an unsolicited divorce showed up. Even with Jesus on board. He stayed on board even though that ship went down. It was supposed to but I was in denial. Thats for another article.
It’s been said,
“God whispers through pleasure, but shouts through pain.“
I could hear his voice as the shout of emotional pain was deafening and the heartbreak unbearable. Thank God, He draws near to the broken-hearted, and gives us beauty for ashes, and the oil of Joy for mourning. No broken heart is alone that reaches out to God.
In the wilderness that followed, (my rite of passage,) God brought me to school. It was called adult self-awareness. A friend handed me a book by Gary Smalley; “If Only He Knew.” I would find that I didn’t know.
It was written from the woman’s perspective by Gary. It described what she experiences and what she needs. It tells what she feels in relationship with a man, what she needs, and often doesn’t receive.
Gary was in trouble, caught in his own lack of adult self-awareness. He was being called “to school” by God or he was going to lose his marriage. He was neglecting her needs, was self-focused, and clueless to what he was doing or what she needed.
As I digested this book, my heart was humbled and pierced at how narcissistic I was, and clueless in my own self how to honor, understand, or meet the needs of a woman. The whole concept of me existing to honor them wasn’t even a blip on my relational radar. I am not alone in this.
I used to think I was the exception to the rule. The older I am, the more I believe these things are universal. We all struggle with something we have to unpack to find our relational promised land. (Which I believe to be a satisfying marriage.) Thus hope for happily ever after.
The problem doesn’t lie in where we are, but in our unwillingness to accept the invitation from God to move to a different place.
God will not give us answers, breakthrough, or relief if we cling to our self-centered self awareness. The Father calls us to grow and learn to love others.
My assignment from God is the rocket fuel to write to this.
So, in which self-awareness do you move and how is it working in your marriage?
Things get “rocky” on purpose, so we will come to God for the growth into self-awareness we need. I think God arranges this so we will be pushed to get out of ourselves and over our selves.
The Gifts Self-Awareness Bring
Healthy need meeting
As I child, I figured out how to meet my needs on my own since no one else was going to do it. I developed coping skills, as we all do, to compensate for the pain of not receiving the unconditional love I needed. These have been called behavioral narcotics. We become addicted to these things that make us feel better, but also imprison our personalities.
So where does self-awareness play into this?
Self-awareness shows you the “constructs” you have built to meet your needs your own way. It shows you where you are “medicating yourself.” These self-medicating patterns create bad relational dynamics. Bummer.
We can run but can’t hide when it comes to these things. God, in His love exposes us so we can get free and have the intimacy these patterns are blocking. It does depend on you! More than you know.
Repentance–God’s Battereing Ram
Through the gift of self-awareness you can find repentance. You can “come clean” with God and your spouse. You can surrender to God as He remodels your constructs. You can breathe the fresh air of forgiveness, emotional honesty, and clean living.
I had to grow out pornography. Now I have your attention. I was introduced to that curse at a tender age with a teenage brother four years my senior. He was my sex education. I struggled with it for many years, even after I found Jesus at nineteen in the Jesus movement days in the seventies. Proverbs says it can “reduce a man to a crust of bread.”
Jesus wants to mentor us in sexual freedom and fulfilment. (Chapters in the approaching book.)
It’s not about the sex
I heard someone say “it is too.”
No it isn’t.
Years back, a pastor friend of ours, a happily married family man confided with Linda and I that he had “same sex attraction,” even though married. He said at one time,
“It’s not about the sex, it’s about the unmet need for validation & affirmation, it’s about the acceptance.”
I’ve heard this refrain repeatedly from those in the gay community who have found, with God’s help, and accepting others, the truth about their struggles, and their true identity needs.
Anyone can have sex without intimacy. That’s what sexual addition is, false intimacy. There’s a book on it, False Intimacy by Dr. Harry W. Schaumburg. Navpress, 1997. I have a marked up copy. It makes me nothing, but free.
As an older, wiser man once said in a class I attended,
“There are many sires, but few fathers.“
In other words, any man can make babies, get a woman pregnant. But few will take responsibility to Father that child and mentor them, calling them out to be the man or woman God intended them to be. Healthy, well-affirmed children, growing up in the framework of whole masculine and feminine role models. No confusion or questions about identity there.
While reading Healing the Masculine Soul, by Gordon Dalby, Word, 1988, I came across a story. Remember, this book was written in the late eighties.
He was in a church viewing of the anti-abortion film “The Silent Scream.”
He describes how after viewing the film, the pastor invited prayer from those attending. One prayed for the young pregnant women, another for the parents of the women, the abortion clinics, the doctors and nurses at the clinics, even the unborn babies themselves, and for the nations conscience. He says,
“As I sat, head bowed, my spirit agreed with all these prayers. And yet a restless uneasiness prodded me. Something was missing, overlooked. ‘Lord, I prayed, is there something else perhaps even more key to the issue not being prayed?”
“Almost at once the words burst forth into my mind,
“Pray for the men! No one is recognizing that without a man to impregnate the woman the abortion issue would not exist. The men are the problem, and no one even recognizes the need for my transforming hand upon them.
Even if a woman agrees or seeks sexual intercourse, she cannot force herself upon the man. It is he who has the ultimate responsibility to say no, and it is he whom I hold ultimately accountable.”
Dalby then asks the Lord, “How shall I pray for the men?”
“Inmy heart I sensed a clear answer.
The men are not submitted to Me. They have become passive in the face of responsibility, They are not living in response to me. . . Pray that the men surrender to Me, that they would receive My caring heart for women, that the spirit of passivity, (the silence of Adam,) would be bound over them and they would walk in responsibility.” Pg. 18,19 Par. mine
Self-aware men will not blame women for the problem, but will own the truth that they are the problem.
I know, I know, it takes two, however, the man is the initiator, the woman takes what he gives her. A real man will take responsibility before God for the seed he carries and what he does with it. Broken masculinity will use and abuse women for it’s selfish objectifying lusts.
You can blame the “loose daughters of Eve,” for the sickening multi-billion dollar porn industry, or the broken ones, (mostly men), who fuel the industry with their addiction and idolatry.
These need to grow out of their adolescent sexuality and become real men who can manage their sexuality with adult self-awareness and restraint that only comes through submission to Jesus and the cross. These are checked-in males who have authority and influence.
Adam can’t walk with integrity while still blame the woman for his brokenness. He must become aware of it, own it, and forsake it. God didn’t return to the fallen Garden calling out,
“Eve, where are you?”
No, He came after his man, the one He had a deal with. The one He trusted and risked everything with. The one to whom He gave headship, not to dominate, but to gain authority through submission and laying down his life.
“Adam, where are you?”
I’m telling you this to illustrate that self-awareness can reveal to you the reasons we can remain addicted or bound to certain patterns. But we must be willing to look deeper into God’s mirror to see it. This is the journey. As always, I pray for all who read these words to receive the impartation that rests upon them. XO Dan
Now, more than ever, we need peace as an anchor for our souls in a world with no answers or solutions for life’s anxiety.
Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. Mark 4:39
If you were honest with me, you would agree that “a great calm” is harder and harder to come by these days. Everything is speeding up, and not just the traffic on the highways. To me, all things feel accelerated and pushed with less and less margin. We need still waters, and they often have evaporated in the torrent of activity and demand that surrounds us. Our peace evaporates also with the still waters that our inner spirit man needs to survive.
Following are some quotes from Richard A. Swenson in his book Margin. A few random selections,
“The conditions of modern-day living devour margin.
Do you know families who feel drawn and quartered by overload?
Something is wrong. People are tired and frazzled. People are anxious and depressed. People don’t have the time to heal anymore.
There is a psychic instability in our day that prevents peace from implanting itself firmly in the human spirit.” (This was published in 1992 by the way, pre-Covid). Navpress
Swenson goes on to say that “marginless living causes pain.” He speaks of the focusing value of pain. When we hurt, it helps us focus on the problem and do something about it. Our society prevents this needed focus to gain our balance and create the margin we need.
“Modern-day living, however, opposes focusing. Surrounded by frenzy and interruptions, we have no time for anything but vertigo. So our pain, as it turns out, is actually an ally of sorts. In the hurt is a help. Pain gets our attention–as it does so well–and then moves us in the opposite direction of the danger. “
We are the ships at sea
Yes, we are the ships floating on the wind and the waves. We need Jesus to speak ” Peace be still! to our tempest.
I’m going to use an acrostic of the word peace to help organize a strategy to gain this peace we need and long for. Without peace, fear with its torment, and anxiety, will be our lot which is not God-given. Jesus said,
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.John 14:27
P–Personalize your walk with God.
Peace is available to us personally as we abide in Him. Jesus said He is the vine and we are the branches. He also said that apart from Him we would wither and can do nothing when separated. This illustrates the imperative of our connection to Him. P– also stands for prayer that takes away our anxious striving. Casting our cares onto Him, for He cares for us. Phill. 4:6,7 This prayer is a practical downloading of our burdens He wants to carry for us. The great exchange.
E–Enter Into His Rest
The fruit of peace comes as we enter the still waters and linger to abide with the “true vine,” the source of the oil and life our souls need.
“Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. . .” Matthew 11:28
Jesus often withdrew for the solitude He needed to recharge and keep a strong connection with the Father. Solitude is a necessary discipline for self-care and margin development. We owe it to ourselves and must create boundaries in our lifestyles to preserve it. In one place He said to his disciples, who were on ministry overload, “Come apart to a desert place to rest. . .” Margin must be maintained in ministry or disaster can loom. We have all observed that fruit.
Why would I choose the word ambition to find peace? Because ambition out of balance steals peace. There is a place for submitted ambition, but it must first pass through the cross and be cleansed. Unsubmitted, it will steal our peace, create selfish conflicts, and harm and divide relationships. James chapter four explains this, with humble submission being the resolve. Phill 2:3-8 illustrates this principle.
Think about it for a moment, how much of your peace is stolen through ambition? How many conflicts have selfish ambition at their root? The source of the power struggle in marriage lies here. You both want the steering wheel of control, unwilling to submit to the other for your reasons. Our motives are innocent and pure until tested. Your marriage will help you with this. Every man’s way is right in his own eyes but the Lord tries the hearts.
Remember, we don’t have “bad marriages,” but we have bad dynamics. Your marriage isn’t some abstract thing, it’s who and how the both of you are functioning together. Unpack your dynamics together in humility and honesty, owning your “stuff,” and transformation will surely happen if you refuse to abandon the process. God doesn’t save marriages, he saves people, and dynamics.
C–Correct your course occasionally
Back to marginless living. Life can’t be peaceful without occasional course corrections. The reason for this is we live with the choices we make. Think about it, each time I say yes to someone I create a new reality. This reality includes following through with what I said I would do.
Pain introduces itself when I realize I have said “yes,” too many times to too many people. This hurts because we all want to have integrity and do what we said we would do. But now it’s going to cost because there’s too much on our plate. We don’t want to be flakey, but it ends up happening because of the clock and physics. It just can’t be done, unless we correct our course.
You already know the answer. You simplify and downsize. Easier said than done, but necessary nonetheless. Two people in a couple of weeks recommended the same book to me. I felt an urgency to get it so I did. It’s called Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud. It’s all about the endings that need to happen in life that are normal and how we resist making them. I highly recommend the book. It’s helping me end 35 years of contracting so I can retire and do this.
Simply put, you have to get some margin and breathing room back into your own life and your marriage. This will require making some needed endings.
Just Say No!
It’s easier to endure guilt for a moment by saying no than suffer the consequences of saying yes at the wrong time. It’s harder for a pleaser to say no. The pleaser must go to the cross and the hero rescuer must die or you will live with the pain of overcommitment. I’m loved unconditionally, not based on how I perform for others or God.
Tell the Truth
We’re supposed to speak the truth in love. I have found most people to be reasonable and extend grace when I tell the truth about what I can or not do. I always feel better when I communicate the truth to others. God honors this and helps us when we do it. Make the phone call, beg off if you can. It has more integrity than not coming through and saying nothing. Make the call. You’ll feel better and peace will come.
We aren’t superhuman, and disappointing others is necessary for a needed course correction to gain back lost margin. We create our own storms and waves much of the time, and our peace may be found in some needed course corrections.
How could exercise have anything to do with peace? The answer lies in the Kingdom conflict all humanity is engaged in. If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, then satan is the prince of torment. 1 John 4;18 says, There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves torment.
This indicates there is a battle for our minds and the operation of fear that tries to involve our thoughts and emotions. We know of the temptations to lust, pornography, dependencies, and hate. These all seek to addict, imprison, and torment. Peace comes as we defeat these things.
Exercise your Faith
James 4;7 says, Therefore submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. To resist means you aren’t going to agree with the devil. You are going to disagree with him and tell him to get out of your mind and thoughts. You aren’t going to agree with his plan for your life, but God’s plan.
Engage in Spiritual Warfare
Ephesians 6:10 says Finally my brethren be strong in the Lord and in the powerof His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles (schemes,) of the devil.
This doesn’t mean we are thinking about the devil or shouting at him all the time. We use the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. We speak the word and raise the sword against the devil as Jesus modeled in his wilderness temptations. “It is written…” We focus on Jesus, but we are instructed to put on whole armor of God and use it to resist the devil. There are battles that must be fought and devils that must be resisted if we are to secure our peace.
Guard your heart
Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Prov. 4:23 Msg.
In summary, Peace will come as we,
Personalize our walk with God
Enter into His rest.
Ambition Submitted to the Cross
Correct your course occasionally
Exercise your faith, engage in spiritual warfare, and guard your heart.
May God bless you and keep you and make his face shine upon you. May the Lord be merciful to you and give you peace. My prayers go to all who read these words. Pray for me and the continuing “Hope for Happily Ever After” book project in progress. Thanks for reading. Dan XO
I’m going to ramble a bit about connection. We are created for connection, we long to be part of something, to belong, to be valued for who we are. We want to make a meaningful contribution, to make a difference. We are created to know others and be known ourselves. This is universal to humanity. Not only in the community but in our intimate relationships.
When God formed Adam from the dust of the ground in the garden of Eden, as time went on it was discovered that “It’s not good for man to be alone.” So God put Adam to sleep and created Eve from one of his ribs.
So now part of him is missing that only Eve possesses. This makes him want to connect with her. She has something he wants. Not just his “lost” rib. He wants a connection with her on many levels. She wants this too, but differently. She wants his strength, his presence, his engagement with her.
But alas, many obstacles seem to hinder this tender connection and it can easily evaporate and seem elusive to regain. When we can’t figure it out or don’t know what to do, hopelessness and despair can set in.
This brings us to the Art of Connecting, which indeed is an art requiring wisdom, humility, and yes sacrifice at times. Love can’t grow in selfish hearts. It starts with desire.
Connection starts with desire. You’ve got to want it, or you won’t engage in the struggle it takes to have it. Your desire is what creates the passion to fight for something worth having. Your desire will commit you to grow up and put away the “childish things” that break your connection. It means facing our immature patterns and the “way we roll” that disconnects us from others. We aren’t born unselfish lovers, we must grow up to become them.
Rejection breaks the connection. The question must be asked,
Am I accepting them? (Don’t try to trick them, they can tell.)
Connection is lost when we place conditions on our love and acceptance. Think about it. It’s all about relational dynamics. Cause and effect. Rejection repels and creates distance. Acceptance draws others towards us and fosters the intimacy we crave.
Do I accept that my spouse is radically different from me or does my energy go towards changing them into what I need or want them to be?
All attempts to manipulate or change them sends a relational message of rejection to their heart. Like the law of gravity pulls down, it will push them away, and disconnect you as a couple. People don’t fall out of love, they create bad relational dynamics, but don’t take responsibility for them. Wisdom can and will change them if you take ownership.
Acceptance comes out of a heart that is mature enough to respect another’s uniqueness and individuality. They have different likes and tastes than I do. I must accept their preferences in music, movies, and food without putting them down or resenting those differences. They have different needs than me and ways to meet them. What charges me up wears them out. It could be shopping, meetings, love-making, talking, or wasting time. Love embraces these needs and differences and meets them with joy and service. This brings a luscious connection.
This may seem like stating the obvious, but it isn’t. Many hurting couples talk, but sadly their communication styles break their connection rather than strengthen it. Life and death are in the power of the tongue and words are containers with delivery systems that pull others toward you or push them away. This happens every time our lips open and words come out. We don’t have bad marriages we have bad words. We do the disconnecting to ourselves. We must own this and get a grip on our tongues that are a “restless evil,” without God’s help. Wise connectors learn to think before speaking and do a lot of mental editing and weighing of their words. Pick your fights, with the motive of resolution or you’ll be at it all the time. Is saying this worth the disconnect? Usually no.
This could be the most powerful relational tool in our connection arsenal. Nothing feels better than validation. We all want to be listened to and heard. That feeling of being listened to and having our emotions honored by another. The undivided attention of another who is interested in hearing our heart and validating what’s there. A wonderful resource for this is called “Getting the love you want” by Hendrix and Hunt.
If validation connects, then invalidation disconnects. Validation accepts invalidation rejects. It doesn’t accept the reality of the individual and pressures it to be something else. Here are some disconnectors.
“You shouldn’t feel that way. “ The person saying this is uncomfortable with the emotional reality of another so it’s invalidated.
What is really being said is,
(We aren’t going to go there, because I can’t risk emotional honesty.) So I will try to convince you to change your feelings. A better response to building a connection is,
“Tell me more about why you feel that way.” and if you are courageous,
“What do Ithat plays into your feeling that way?” Then listen with the goal of taking responsibility instead of defending yourself. This is love and validation. They will feel it and you will reap the benefits of your willingness to grow. God blesses this. This is the way.
We have more power in our relationships than we realize. We can make them whatever we want them to be with the commitment and tools necessary. We create the negatives and the positives we experience with our words and our dynamics. I hope this helps. Love you all, Dan XO
I lose track of how fast it’s going by. It seems just the other day I was pressing a new colorful license sticker to the plate. They seem to come now like fanning book pages. Scraping away at the old as much as possible, then sticking it on, convincing myself it won’t stubbornly peel off before the next one comes. It’s too cold, I’m not about to find a razor blade, and apply alcohol to make sure the surface is pristine and ready to go. I’ve never lost one yet, but you never know. It’s hard for a “rules guy” to compromise. Grace is helping me let up on myself. “Just stick it on there, it’s not going anywhere!”
Back to the Future
It seems only a few short years ago I celebrated my 50th birthday at the Castle Rock Grange with many friends from the Rock Church and my family. We chose a ‘70s theme and everyone came dressed for the part. I had some righteous corduroy bell-bottoms and a silk striped shirt. I found some square-toed boots and grew my hair out a little. Linda was decked out, beautiful and looking real, with white platform boots. We were the bomb.
Princess Leia and Chewbacca came as a couple, hairy suit and all, and she had the buns stuck to the sides of her head. Only R-2 and C3PO were missing. My friend Mark volunteered to be the DJ for the party. The music was great. Disco, classic rock, and some old Bee Gees. He hauled in these huge speakers and kept the music rolling. There was a dance contest, under a disco ball. I didn’t participate so someone else could win. That was fifteen years ago. I still get goosebumps and feel tears when I recall it.
I don’t see much of Mark anymore. He fell in love and moved in with a beautiful lady whose husband died. She’s pretty, gentle, and speaks Spanish. I don’t blame him; it was a wonderful promotion after his divorce. He’s having more fun with her than playing pool with me and listening to the blues. It’s the time of his life. I have a hard time these days getting him to a pool table or a golf course. He’ll send me an emoji if I text him.
We need to let love have her way with people and let them go. It can be selfish to cling, hold on, and not let them move on to what they need. God will give us the relationships He has for us if we trust Him. They are not going to stay the same, they aren’t supposed to. If we’re true friends, we’ll let them have their happiness. This includes parenting I think. We keep our relationships, but let them redefine themselves, or damage them by refusing to do so.
Letting Dreams Die
Chewbacca divorced Princess Leia after he shamelessly left her and the kids for another woman. Moved out lock, stock, and barrel, without looking back seemingly with no regrets. I forgive him. She had to as well, paying a higher price to do so. She waited, has moved on, and is happy. I’m happy for her too. She married a man who shares her dreams, loves her, and respects her.
Time teaches the lessons of forgiving as you move on if you’ll learn from them. No small task when your heart is ripped out and all your dreams die. Most of us have run that gauntlet with differing levels of intensity. It takes a while and a lot of healing before you can risk dreaming new dreams. But dream we must, or remain alone as our love atrophies, and we stop growing, fearing to risk loving again. We just need to get over ourselves, accept reality and its pain, and forgive to take those loving risks and come back to life.
Time is on my side
Faith declares that “Time is not my enemy but my friend.”
“ How can you say that?” You may ask, feeling that time is chasing you towards death.
It depends on how you view death. Death is our doorway to eternity and our reward, nothing to fear since Jesus overcame it. We finally get freed from the illusion of “Plato’s Cave,” once and for all.
If we know Jesus, we’ll finally get to be with Him, and lay our burdens down. No more crying, but He will wipe away the tears from our eyes. The former things won’t come to mind. I’m not sure if that’s a memory wipe, or our “rapture” will be so intense, none of the former stuff will matter.
I like to think we can remember whatever we want, but the reality of redemption will be so intense, that regret, remorse, or shame can’t exist in the presence of the perfect love of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We’ll be experiencing the reality of the unity of God to the fullest. It will be as Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17:21,
“That they may all be one as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
I don’t recall any of Jesus’ prayers that didn’t get answered.
We don’t just get to “be with” Him, we will be “one with Him” in an unimaginable way. Now, it’s through a glass dimly, but then “face to face.” Wow.
I Can Only Imagine
We can only imagine the intensity and fulfillment of that kind of intimacy and connection. There will be no more loneliness or a sense of not belonging. His love without limits will make sure of that. There will no longer be holes in our hearts, as perfect restoration and redemption are realized at last.
None of it will matter anymore. Grace will be everywhere, and we will finally be released from the push of time as we relax into eternity, which includes our never-ending relationship with Him who will never get boring, and the romance will never fade. XO Dan
As this old year slides away, and another takes it's place,
Lord let my heart be comforted by the knowledge of your grace.
The grace that calls me from the past to live right here and now,
When I'm hurting and my heart can't love, grace comes and shows me how.
Your grace brings truth and mercy, when I'm struggling with my sin,
You bring your healing words of life, I find my way again.
Help me walk into this year renewed and fresh and clean,
When others look into my life, let only your grace be seen.
Grace that secures my weakness and the failures of the past,
A mercy that knows of your forgiveness and a love that lasts and last.
Dan Lillyblad First written 12-2004 Happy New Year.
It’s something we’re blind to. We can’t see it. We can’t see it because we don’t want to.
Why are blind spots painful?
Because our “blind spots” are masking painful areas of ourselves. (often family of origin areas, at times containing trauma and or abuse.)
We mask the pain with behavior that will make us feel better about who we are. We hide behind this.
These could be bullying, (so I never have to be accountable to you, so I intimidate and back you off.)
It could be my performance to gain your approval, fearing abandonment if I don’t. I don’t show you my weakness, fearing your judgment, instead of opening my heart for your love. Security heals this.
These “behaviors,” known as behavioral narcotics, relieve the suffering we avoid by not facing the truth about ourselves. Self-deception sustains us in a false bliss we call denial.
We can get away with believing, (It’s their problem if they would just change into who I need them to be, then the problem would go away.)
It’s much easier to live in denial and sustain a false self than to forsake a broken part of ourselves.
We hurt when our blind spots are touched because now that I’m aware of it, I’m challenged to own it. (take responsibility and do something about it.) I must make choices to grow to follow through with this. I must forsake denial, face my inadequate, painful, self and follow through. It means hanging out with and facing who I truly am, rather than a fake self.
Marriage so helps with this.
You can’t deny or get away with who he or she exposes, sees, and reflects. This is intimacy as much, or more than sex is.
Blind spots, in essence, are broken places in our character that get exposed in the context of marriage, and other relationships. This exposure comes in the form of conflict, something we would rather avoid, if possible. I want to examine some reasons for this avoidance.
Why Conflicts Don’t Resolve
I like to view conflict as the road to the castle, where they lived happily ever after.
Simply stated, if you don’t go down the road, you won’t get there.
Obstacles on the road keep us from going down it, like downed trees or power lines needing removing so we can proceed. These can be myths or false beliefs.
“We never fight.” (We believe we have a good marriage because we’ve learned to avoid conflict.)
It’s hard for a conflict to resolve if you determine never to have one.
This marriage may never “rock the boat,” but the boat never goes anywhere. It becomes the “Black Pearl,” looking pretty dead, with prisoners, sporting lots of slime and barnacles.
If the boat never feels like it’s sinking, the marriage isn’t growing.
Reconstruction and dismantling often feels like,
“We’re going down.”
In a sense the “old us” is going down, so we can rise in “newness of life” with new, more honest relating patterns emerging.
The “we never fight marriage” safely stays out of troublesome areas, to keep the peace. Without the troublesome soil being turned over, (Conflict), the “ground” of the relationship turns “fallow.” This means nothing is growing in it, other than an uneasy peace sustained by a life-sucking truce that avoids “taboo” areas.
This relationship can’t experience intimacy or emotional honesty because the partners,
“Can’t handle the truth,” and are unwilling to engage in the blind spots and painful buttons that are carefully avoided. They sell out to each other, by fake relating that removes the threat of honest relating.
A happy marriage can’t exist without the lack of penetration of soul that honesty and conflict resolution demands. You can’t find a painless way in, it doesn’t exist. Your avoidance will bar the way.
I’ve often used a simple analogy about what forms the DNA of a relationship. A+B=C
A and B are the man and the woman. C is the marriage. C will never go any further than A and B are willing to go together in the process. I’ve stated before, you don’t have a bad marriage, you have bad dynamics between A and B.
Change these dynamics and the marriage will change. Solve the variable, the equation resolves.
It is cause and effect more than most know.
This is why marriages fail, Christian or not.
Change what you’re doing to each other!
Engage in the conflict.
Forsake denial, stop self-protecting
Develop the discipline to face the problems and solve them.
Problems don’t go away, they need engagement, strategy, and resolution.
If you don’t explore what’s going on in the heart of A and B, addressing blind spots, or destructive, self-protecting patterns, nothing will change. It can’t. It’s cause and effect that needs transformation.
People must change their selfish orbits and learn to love and relate honestly to be happy. It’s the only way to get what you both need. Connection, agreement, security, fulfillment.
Yes, I believe happiness and joy are by-products of healthy relating and are an inheritance to be expected. It’s the fruit of obedience to God. (This is my commandment that you love one another that your joy may be full.) In one sense, I don’t agree with the statement that “there are no guarantees in marriage.” It depends on us.
I know what it is to fail the first time. I also know the grace, success, and blessing of marriage to Linda. 34 years. I write out of the experience and lessons learned during this time and the wilderness years before that.
Compatibility is overrated for success in marriage. I know of the most declared “incompatible” couples who have wonderful enriched marriages and go on to help and enrich others, mine included. We all feel incompatible when the fairy dust wears off after the honeymoon, and we see what we’re up against.
Nothing is impossible with God, but He requires our commitment, engagement, and participation. It’s such a relief to just jump in and get real and heal and start experiencing the promised land.
Our marriages hurt when our needs aren’t being met, and we don’t understand the way we are reacting to one another. Tension builds as we reach towards our partners grasping for something they can’t or won’t give us.
Facing the truth that we are needy
My wife Linda and I were teaching a room full of people in a marriage class we were conducting. I had written a marriage manual, and it was time to talk about needs. (My favorite subject, since I have so many.)
I was explaining to the eager listeners that we all had needs, and that was normal and okay. One lady spoke up and said,
“I didn’t think Christians were supposed to have needs.”
As I ponder her comment now, I see that if she believed that way, her needs were probably largely undiscovered and were not being met in her marriage. She was disallowing them for herself.
If your belief system disallows needs, you will never discover them and meet them in healthy ways. You are cutting yourself off from the honest part of you that hurts. If you accept needs as part of who you are, you can talk about them and respect and meet them in each other. This is healing, not sinning.
It’s good, and essential for a marriage to unpack your needs and talk about them. Strategize together how you can meet them. So many marriages hurt because this doesn’t happen. It either isn’t safe to talk, or fear keeps you from risking the vulnerability needed to love deeply. If we let God love us deeply, and heal our broken hearts, we will risk it all!
Why did Jesus Die?
Jesus didn’t die on a cross to crucify our needs there. He died to crucify the old man, the false self that feeds the roots of sin.
“Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”
Our needs remain, to be discovered and processed in a redemptive manner. I believe marriage is a large part of this process. Denying yourself isn’t denying your needs that are to be met in healthy ways. That’s living in denial, rather than accepting your true needy self; The empty self only God can fill. Your spouse can also fill some of the needs in healing ways.
“For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”
“Draw me and I will run after you.” Song of Solomon 1:4
We need love, acceptance, and belonging. I bring those needs with me into my relationship with Jesus. They don’t suddenly go away now that I identify with “Christianity.” Rather, the opposite happens as the Spirit of God reveals to me how broken I am, and how much of my relational operating systems run on selfish “underground energy” and falseness, rather than in the light of truth and emotional honesty.
The previous blog on “Operating Systems” unpacks this.
God doesn’t forbid our needs, he forbids idolatry, which is our self-seeking desire to control life and how we think we will get our needs met. This idolatry encompasses addiction. The world’s philosophy of mastery and self-determination stands in opposition to the Kingdom mandate of Jesus to lose our lives that we may gain them in Him.
Surrender and relinquishment are the pathways of spiritual growth, not mastery, control, or self-determination. This is what needs to go to the cross, that we may live anew in Him.
We bring our needs to the one we marry, along with the fairy tale thinking that believes they are the ones given us by God to finally meet them all once and for all.
“They will complete me.”
No, they won’t. They can’t, only God can. They may ease your aloneness, provide you companionship, comfort, and camaraderie. But they can’t complete you, they aren’t supposed to.
If you’re a princess, he may be able to get you out of the tower. He might slay some dragons for you, and fight for your heart, and love you. But completion only comes in the living out of the adventure together. Discovering and meeting each other’s needs is the stuff of marriage. He needs to know who you are to be intimate with you. You need to know what you need and be able to articulate it. You need to know what he needs as well.
If you’re the prince, it’s easy to believe that once you’ve closed the deal that she’s yours to keep and will follow you wherever you go. Not necessarily. You must pursue her heart and care for her. Wash her with the water of the word. Fight for her, protect her, take some heat for her, engage her. Enter into her struggles with her, know her battles and weaknesses. Don’t get religious and preach at her. Listen to her, take her words. Give her to God and love her. You are called to this. This is the way.
Respect and Recharging
I enjoy people and social settings, but I recharge by withdrawing. Linda, my wife recharges when I’m doing things with her, and she does a lot of things all the time. If there is too much “with her,” my batteries deplete, and I need to withdraw. This is okay, I’m not abandoning her. I will be back. I couldn’t be giving you these words if I was “with her.” I need to be with you at times.
I’m sure this tension exists in many marriages because we all recharge differently. So, to avoid conflict and misunderstanding, we talk about replenishers and depleters; The things that recharge us and the things that tend to drain us, and then we respect our differences and adapt in love so we can stay balanced and charged up. Our needs get met.
I have to choose not to be resentful when she “needs a little Christmas right this very minute.” I have to balance what I need and give her what she needs healthily without feeling guilty. Together is good. Apart at times is good too. This is healthy. We need boundaries and the ability to be assertive and speak the truth in love.
How we navigate our operating systems in marriage determines the level of our marital satisfaction or misery respectively.
Our operating systems and how we roll with them create all the dynamics we experience in our relationships. Ignorance of our operating systems sets us up for conflict, distance, and misunderstanding.
A healthy self-awareness of how we roll, (interact,) can deliver us from a lot of pain and confusion, and increase our connection with others. We must reformat our operating systems.
I will typically approach a relational subject with the premise that mostly, we lack the skills to relate honesty, openly, and truthfully. If we possessed these skills we wouldn’t fail as badly as we do in marriage, Christian or not. We aren’t “bad,” we are broken.
This is because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. ”
This is a bible verse declaring the truth that we are all sinners and need a savior. We need redemption because we are broken with broken operating systems, and don’t know how to obtain what we want in honest straightforward ways.
We will tend toward a complaining victim attitude rather than become whole and empowered, learning to assert ourselves in healthy ways. This hinders our ability to connect to another relationally and constructively. We come crashing in as we are used to and wonder why others pull away. Our relationships bear the fruit of who we both are.
How We Get What We Want
We must return home to understand our operating systems. I will enter relationships using power the way I saw mom and dad do it. Our parents love(d) us and tried to raise us up into whole individuals who could love well. Or maybe they didn’t know how because their parents didn’t know how. Or maybe their parents were absent, physically or emotionally.
Our emotional expression; Anger or passivity will tend to be what our parents sowed into us. The sooner we get in touch with how we do it, and become self-aware, the sooner we can develop honest, straightforward, relating patterns that will draw others to us in intimacy. Following are some operating systems with their accompanying fruit. . .
This is the person who achieves their goals because they can and they have the power to do so. They will roll over others with the sheer force of their personality. We call them bullies. These are the ones who usually get what they want by using power without considering the needs and feelings of the ones they dominate. These are women as well as men.
The playing field needs levelled when there is a powerhouse involved. The “victim” in the relationship needs to establish boundaries, and not allow the powerhouse to degrade, dishonor, or shame them. I was this victim in my marriage when I married Linda. Dad was passive and mom dominated the marriage with angry power. I grew up and married “mom.”
I had to learn to stand up to her and required her to take responsibility for her use of power, and to learn to honor and respect me as her equal. I had to surrender to God, and receive my empowering, approval, and identity as a man from Him, instead of looking to woman for it, and becoming an “Ahab.” (One who abdicates their masculine authority for the approval of a woman.) I use the term metaphorically, I’m not calling you fine ladies Jezebel’s.
This is the rite of passage for a man, to stand upright before the woman, and speak the truth in love and become empowered to walk in the authority God gives to the man to run his household. “Adam, where are you?” God calls us out of “hiding among the trees in the garden with our fig leaves.” He establishes us with an identity that is truthful and powerful in a Godly way through service and sacrifice for the heart of his woman. Eph. 5
The “powerhouse” has the power and gets his (her) way in the relationship but creates distance through the use of a broken operating system that is devoid of love. The powerhouse is lonely because he operates without love. He hasn’t learned submission and honoring that is needed for mutuality and a connection of hearts. You will have no access to the heart you abuse. This is a law of life, and a kingdom principal; A kingdom that runs on love and honoring, serving and respect. The powerhouse can learn this through reformatting that requires humility, submission, repentance, and a transformed attitude.
Our manipulating skills were developed and polished at home growing up. We don’t think twice about carrying these skills into marriage and employing them to get what we want. After all, “that’s how you do it.” So we automatically begin manipulating for what we want rather than be truthful and negotiate for it. Manipulating is easier than bargaining for it.
What manipulation does
It creates distance because it is hidden and not in the open. It’s a dark operating system that dishonors the one you are manipulating. You are bypassing their free will by not engaging them but applying pressure for a desired outcome. God doesn’t do that with us. He lets us choose life or death blessing or curse. He doesn’t rescue us from our choices or their fruit. This is what love does. God doesn’t rescue or enable victims.
We run into our relational conflict because manipulation is not a kingdom principal. Truth is. God won’t bless us when we use hidden underground forms of operating. He will call us out on our manipulation to forsake it. Love doesn’t manipulate or control to get it’s way. We are to grow in love and put away childish things. We are called to risk love by being vulnerable and honest. We risk disappointment, refusal, even rejection if God arranges that. His heart can take it. We follow Jesus to the cross and risk all for love.
Releasing control through surrender
It’s important to remember that we will squeeze the life out of whatever we try to control. That’s because control is essentially idolatry. I will be “god” and control the outcome. As controllers we are really tiny, fearful, people who can’t trust a good, powerful, reliable God.
Anne Wilson Schaeff said;
“I will remember that my illusion of control is just that, an illusion.”
Jesus didn’t bully people, He said “follow me,” then led by example.
Hope For Happily Ever After
The book is nearing completion. Hopeful for Happily Ever After—DanXO
What words do you think of when you hear the word escalation?
I go first to anger because anger is the fuel of escalation. What you are doing or saying is making me mad and you’re going to hear about it.
I then go to the word destructive because escalation destroys the conflict resolution process. It blows up the communication bridge as bad words are released in angry tones.
Then comes the word avoidance. This is because escalation and its angry fruit avoid real intimacy and disclosure. If I can sabotage the process with my pride and anger, then I don’t have to expose my fearful, insecure, vulnerable heart to you.
We could stop now, but I’m just getting started, and it’s getting good.
Immature lovers escalate and are blocked from intimacy and shared growth. As they grow, more mature lovers learn how to fight fair, and navigate the land mines that produce escalation. They learn to identify the hot buttons that arm escalation and walk in the love and understanding that disarm them. This is the way.
Why Anger is a Poor Manager
You’ve probably heard the saying,
“Anger is a poor manager.”
This is because anger doesn’t manage anything at all. Instead, it gets out of control and creates destructive dynamics that short-circuit constructive communication. We will always want to withdraw from anger and it will create distance. We won’t want to give the angry person what they want because of the hostile attitude.
Anger accuses and uses words that are hurtful and abusive. Anger takes no responsibility for itself as it lashes out. Notice the body language in the picture above; They are in aggressive postures and both point fingers at the other. Neither is listening to the other. She looks like she is winning. He’s fighting for his life. 🙂
Either way, with this communication style employed, they will be sleeping with backs turned toward each other if they even make it into the same bed. There is a better way.
Talk About Where You Are
I was on a job today and a person asked me,
“What do you do when you’ve blown the bridge of communication up with your words?”
“You rebuild them with your words, life and death are in the power of the tongue.”
If we’ve blown out the bridge with our words, we need to rebuild it with life-giving words. We need humble words, perhaps repentant and confessing ones.
“I’m sorry for those hurtful things I said, will you forgive me?“
“I was being selfish, and self-centered, I don’t want that, I want to grow in love.”
“I see where I have been careless and have neglected your heart, I want to change that.”
“What can we do in our marriage to be more available to each other? It feels like something is always going on or in the way of our connecting meaningfully.”
Another question is,
“What if the other person won’t talk and engage in the process?“
You need to use invitational styles of communication.
“Can we set a time to talk together about our relationship?“
“I value our marriage, and I’m concerned about us. Will you talk with me about where we are and what we can do?”
Explore to find the reason for distance in the marriage and determine to remove it. Refuse to let the hecticness of life squash all romantic feelings from the relationship.
Words Can Hurt
We remember the old saying,
“Sticks and stone can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
It just isn’t true. We know that words can slice and dice. We all have been hurt by them. In marriage, we learn just how to use them to hurt most the one we love.
Careless or reckless words can tear a marriage to shreds.
“I felt really hurt by what you said, and don’t feel like I can trust you anymore.”
“You really hurt me, and don’t seem to care about it at all. . . and you expect me to be intimate with you?“
We must choose to stop tearing down and use our words to heal, love, and encourage. Use tender caring words.
“How are you feeling today?”
“What was your day like today? Did you face any struggles? I want into your world.”
I’m reminded that every time I have encountered a hurting relationship, communication problems or difficulties are always present. The couple is dismantling their union instead of building it up and strengthening it. This is why there is distance. Over and over I hear,
“Our biggest problem is communication.”
Anger doesn’t listen.
So then my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. James 1:19
Have you noticed in escalation, that neither of you is listening to what the other is saying?
Until we can learn to lay down our swords and listen to and honor what each is saying, we will stay in the merry-go-round of escalation.
Using Structure to Corral Emotions
We need structure to “call us out” on our emotional lack of control. We need accountability in our marriages to deal with our anger and emotional immaturity.
Anger is a God-given emotion, but it becomes sinful when we don’t harness it.
For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:20
Be angry and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your wrath. Ephesians 4:26
We all know what anger does to our hearts, it hardens it and takes softness and tenderness away. We don’t care what the other person is feeling, we just simmer in our anger. We know that anger will punish, and seek revenge. We’ve seen and heard the domestic violence stories.
So, we escalate, what can we do?
Determine that you’re going to change how you do conflict and refuse to be victims of escalation.
If things heat up, agree that you will take a time out to cool down before things blow up.
Set a time to revisit the conflict if you do call a time out. Don’t sweep it under the rug or avoid it. It’s important.
Observe your tone of voice and body language. Remember much of conversation is non-verbal.
Set down in chairs and face each other. Verbalize your comittment to each other to fight fair.
Refuse to use bullying. Call each other out on it if you observe it.
Use your power respectfully, and in an honoring way.
Ask questions instead of accusing, or assuming you know what your partner is thinking or feeling. “what are you feeling? How do you feel about what I just said? You seem detached, are you with me?”
Use the speaker-listener tool to make sure you are hearing and understanding what each other are saying.
Do all things in love. Speak the truth in love. Forgive and grow together. XO
I find the courage needed to write this article when I think about all the hurting, lonely marriages that don’t understand submission.
There can be no happily ever after in a marriage of two people who are not mutually submitted to one another.
People don’t have marriage problems; they have submission problems.
I’m going to explain what that means, who we are submitting to, and why we’re so afraid of it.
What does it mean to submit to another?
While doing a word search on submit, interestingly, I found it associated with the category of softness.
The synonyms I found indicated the state or condition of heart rather than demands of obedience.
I found softness, pliability, flexibility, nonrigidity. The verb, to yield is used.
When we submit, we yield to another. In traffic, a yield sign means I stop and let them go. I give them “the right of way.” I don’t push my way. Not a lot of that around these days.
Unyielding hearts are the ones that struggle with submission; Softness is lacking. There is no negotiating room for mutuality and flexibility. There is also no love to grow the relationship, and the marriage can’t move forward.
Love cannot exist without sacrifice, serving, and dying to self. We need resurrection for divine love that comes through the cross. You can’t resurrect unless you die.
If you avoid sacrifice you will avoid mutual love. One cannot exist without the other. Love will always involve the risk of betrayal and being take advantage of.
Love exists when the risks of submission are taken. If I am wounded in this process, I forgive so I can love again. Love knows that it will cost you everything, and cannot be controlled or managed. It is spontaneous and unpredictable. How fun! Help us God.
Why I Submit
I submit to my wife Linda on a regular basis because I love her. I also submit because God tells me to and I want to do what honors Him, even if it’s hard. I follow Jesus into submission as He provides a clear example. He’s the perfect model for it.
“Husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.” Ephesians 5:25
“. . . submittingto one another in the fear of God.Ephesians 5:21
I can’t expect mutuality in my marriage, or God to bless it, if I resist or selfishly refuse the concept of submission. Mutual submission goes in both directions and is not gender specific. It’s not about power, getting my way, or being right, it’s about yielding, giving way, and honoring.
I also submit in order to be freed from my selfishness. We can be self-centered and narcissistic without the challenges another can bring to us with their desires and needs.
We need to get out of ourselves and care for others. Not only in marriage, but in society where so many are hurting.
Don’t Tell Me What to Do
“No one is going to tell me what to do, or how to live my life.”
“No one is going to control me. I don’t need that.”
“I won’t submit to any man, or woman.”
These people carry strong opinions, that you hear about, and live lonely lives since they need to be in control and dominate their relationships. Even if they can manage a relationship, it’s not mutual and will consist of someone they can suppress.
Easy to be Hard; Three Dog Night
We are living in an unsubmitted culture. The reason our society feels so hard and loveless today is that so few are submitting to one another. Each is on a campaign to convince another to polarize them, whether political or medical.
The relational message being sent, and fueled by fear driven media is,
“You will agree with me and conform to my position or you are the enemy.“
What happened to respecting another’s opinion and valuing them without feeling threatened by what they believe? Are we that fearful and insecure that we need to battle over these differences and issues?
Are we two or one?
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and motherand be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” Gen. 2:24
I am resisting submission if I insist on preserving my own selfish autonomous kingdom in marriage. I am not submitting when I try to control or change her into what I want.
“You do your thing, I’ll do mine. We’ll check in from time to time, make sure the bills are paid, but there will be no mutual submitting going on here.”
That is so empty and such a sham of what marriage is to be. Instead of mutually submitted oneness, you have independent twoness. This is a recipe for loneliness.
No, it doesn’t mean you “lose yourself,” and become a doormat. That’s more of a threat to me than Linda in this relationship, but I’m not afraid because I’ve learned to stand up for myself and level the playing field. Our respect is mutual, no fighting over power.
We are supposed to be “assertive” and speak the truth in love and expect respect from our partners. It’s not about power, it’s about serving and honoring each other. It may be inconvenient and involve a choice to co-operate, but Isn’t this marriage?
Linda; “Can you help me with something?” (this never happens.)
Dan; (feeling inconvenienced and put upon,) “What do you need?” or, “give me a minute and let me finish this.” Or, “can we set a time to do that later?”
Immediate demands are not always fair, sometimes she needs to wait and respect what I’m doing. She needs to submit and be patient until I can get to her. Honoring must be a mutual thing. At times I need to submit, stop what I’m doing, and help her with what she needs.
This is for all the lonely people
Mutual submission is the pathway for our loneliness to be eased in marriage.
Loneliness is awful. We all want to remove it but often don’t know how, even in marriage.
The common denominator in a lonely marriage is a lack of mutual submission. You just can’t seem to access each other’s heart the way you know intuitively that it can be.
This means two souls making repeated choices that will include sacrifice and submission to one another.
And the Lord God said,
“It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Genesis 2:18
Those who enter marriage bring this need for companionship with them, this longing for intimate connection with another soul. We ache for it, man, and woman alike.
As we know, just being physically present with another doesn’t mean you are intimate with them, or that your loneliness is being eased. Roommates are not lovers.
Fear & Submission
I wasn’t willing to yield much ground at first when Linda and I married. The first thing God did was start exposing me in my insecure defensiveness and deflating my ego. Imagine that.
There’s nothing like marriage for God to get us where He wants us. I thought I knew God before I married Linda, but I would learn how deep he was asking me to risk in love.
To be honest, submission is terrifying at first and anything but courageous. You don’t know yet how they’re going to treat you in a new marriage. You haven’t developed any safe history yet.
It seems madness to immediately turn over all control to an unpredictable spouse you have no history with, especially with the unhealed wounds the last relationship left you bleeding with.
Yes, you need healing from the past, but my experience was the real healing didn’t begin until I risked loving again and followed Jesus into “I Do” with Linda.
It was scary submission, not very courageous, but at least I was following. You can’t control the healing process anyway; God is the manager of that.
I’m going to leave you with some thoughts about creating a safe history. Invite your spouse to read this blog with you, then talk about the bullet points listed below. See if you can create a safe environment to talk about your feelings and how the two of you “do” marriage together. Talk about loneliness, connection, and emotional honesty.
Creating Safe History
Open a dialogue. Start talking about your two steering wheels and how you’re using them.
Yes, talk about power and control. Why not? Something as important as “who’s got the power?” shouldn’t be swept under the rug.
Negotiate mutuality, challenge the status quo if the playing field needs levelling.
How are decisions made? Are they mutual, submitted to one another?
Do you have a say in the decision-making process? You should. Do they? They should.
Mutuality is not a dominating autocrat suppressing another. (It can be man or woman.)
Submission is learning to give up trying to control your marriage or spouse.
We all have control issues and don’t want to feel dominated or controlled by another.
Talk about submission, how you feel about it and what it does or doesn’t look like.
Talk about when you feel you are losing your freedom by their words, demands, attitudes, or actions.
Discuss how the attitudes of your partner make you feel in relationship to them.
Don’t be passive when you are dishonored. You are not a doormat, you deserve respect. Get in their face about it.
Never co-operate with abusive attitudes or behavior.
Marriage is to feel like a free place, not a prison.
My prayers and support go out to all who read these words. I can be reached at email@example.com Reference this website. XO Dan
Our hearts have lost their way, like sheep that have gone astray. A good shepherd named Jesus comes after our hearts to free them and to love them back to life. He never gives up and pursues us no matter how far we run from Him.
Like the prodigal son who went to a distant country and squandered everything, our Father scans the horizon anticipating our return so he can run to us and restore us as sons and daughters, welcomed back into the family. But we have to take the road home, stop running, and using and return to the Father’s house.
God doesn’t run an orphanage. He runs a Kingdom based on redemption, adoption, and sonship. He did everything needing to be done, including sending His own Son, Jesus, who died on a cross to pay the price for every broken thing that could ever happen to us. This includes any sin, neglect, trauma, or abuse you could name.
Jesus Himself said He came to seek and save the lost. He sent the Holy Spirit to pursue the hearts of these lost ones, and call them back to the Father’s Kingdom. Jesus is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
Marriage Will Bring Me Home
This is the belief or expectation that,
“they will complete me,” or “they will meet my needs.”
We probably wouldn’t say that out loud, but subconsciously we carry a lot of expectations into the marriage that says,
“They will bring me home, I will finally find happiness and fulfillment for my loneliness.”
“The ache in my heart will go away because they will always be there for me.”
Marriage will bring you home in the sense of starting a home, perhaps a family, but it won’t bring your heart “home” in the sense of your heart finding its resting place.
Our hearts will always be restless until they find their rest in Him. St. Augustine.
Only God can love our hearts the way they need to be loved for us to be “complete in Him.”
Coming Down is the Hardest Thing
Marriage can ease your aloneness, but won’t fill your soul the way only God can. Even after the closest intimacy with another, even blissful communion and oneness fall short of the filling that only intimacy and union with God can bring. This is what we were created for. We will always come “down,” and there will be an empty place, a hunger only God can fill.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Mt. 5:6
Psalm 107:9 declares a wonderful promise,
“For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with goodness.”
Other people just aren’t designed to do that, it’s His job. When we look to people for what only God can give us, we make them our idols, then we try to control them, and we give them way too much power over us.
We are giving them God’s job description, one they can never fulfill. I think in our immaturity a lot of us can do that until God shows us what we are doing and why. Then He draws us back to Himself and heals our hearts with His love, adjusting our expectations to reality and puts our focus back on Him, the true fountain of life.
The Honeymoon Marriage
Let’s imagine for a moment you’re in the honeymoon stage of marriage. God bless you, may it last as long as possible. Things are going great, you are connecting in every way and feel very much in love. No real issues or problems have presented themselves to spoil things. It’s intoxicating and blissful.
Imagine again that the honeymoon never ends, there is no disenchantment stage, or need to press into a committed love stage of marriage.
What would happen to our hearts? What would happen to our relationship with God?
We wouldn’t need Him because we would have Eden, we would be back in the garden, and we know this isn’t real life. It is a fairy-tale because we have fallen, there is sin, and our marriage is set on the stage of powerful spiritual warfare between good and evil and light and darkness.
The honeymoon has to end so that redemption can begin. Marriage is for the redemption of our hearts and souls as we get exposed to one another. Again, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is by design. God orchestrates our exposure in marriage so we can be freed from ourselves.
Love is our rescue but we will find and face some hard things about ourselves first. These things are barriers to intimacy in our marriages.
Homesick For Eden
Gary Moon in his book Homesick For Eden 1. talks about,
“A defense mechanism is. . .a means by which an individual protects himself or herself from unwanted emotions or impulses. A common but effective defense mechanism is denial. With denial, an individual actively, (albeit subconsciously) refuses to admit the reality of an unwanted emotion or impulse.”
I, Dan, was very much in denial about a lot of things when I married Linda 34 years ago. You don’t know you’re in denial because you’re in denial. That’s like you don’t know when you’re deceived because you’re deceived. Someone has to knock on your door to show you. That someone happens to be God in the form of your spouse and you can’t get away from them.
In marriage all our defense mechanisms get exposed, and things we’ve gotten away with for a long time are exposed in public. It’s scary and disconcerting as our broken operating systems and things we’ve hidden behind come into the light to be reckoned with.
This doesn’t make us bad, it makes us exposed, hurting, and needing healing, acceptance, understanding, and love. We are called to walk out of hiding into the light of God’s love as He begins lovingly dismantling our broken operating systems.
This transformation is for our freedom to enable us to love from a pure heart this one we’ve said “Yes” to for the rest of our lives. It’s also designed to free us from the bondage of narcissism, self-protection, control, and hiding.
We will look at some more of Gary’s insights next time as we examine “Compassion deficits” and the “behavioral narcotics” we use to ease our pain of “the love we never got.”
May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you and be merciful unto you and bring you peace. Till next time. . . Dan XO
Gary Moon. Homesick for Eden. P. 75 Life Springs-Vine Books 1997
We’ve all heard of mission statements. Has anyone ever asked you as you’ve embarked on an enterprise?
“What’s your mission statement?”
They want you to be able to tell them why you’re doing something. Maybe it’s starting a business or a ministry of some kind. Can you put into words why you’re doing it?
Perhaps you think desire is enough, believing,
“My wanting to do it will get me where I want to go.”
Certainly desire and passion fuel the journey, but I think more structure is needed.
Going With the Flow
I struggle with structure, unstructured is easier for my personality. (Go with the flow.)The problem is that life demands structure to make it work. Spiritual growth and morality require structure, discipline, and boundaries. The world’s flow is going in the wrong direction; A Godly structure will withstand the push, grow, and push back.
There’s a parable of the wise man who builds his house on the rock rather than sand, to withstand the storms that life is sure to bring. I remember the story of the three little pigs. It’s been a while but someone was going to huff and puff and blow the house down. I think one of them used stones, (structure,) and won out. I’m not going to research it.
The marriage built on the rock will have a mission. Below are essential mission objectives for a marriage that will share love, meet needs, and combat loneliness. Our mission is;
To Be Mutual
Two souls cannot love and explore one another without being mutual. This is oneness. This means we are on the journey together. We are sojourning together, hoping, dreaming, planning, deciding, together. You are eating the pie as one, mutually sharing it, not fighting over who has power over it.
This is submission to one another, a word some would rather not deal with. They will submit to no other soul, thus remaining alone, and will forfeit the delicious fruit of this subject. No greater love can be shown than when one lays down his life for his friend, (spouse.) Sacrifice frees the soul from selfishness and narcissism. It also makes for better sex. Selfishness constricts the kingdom, sacrifice expands it.
To be in Agreement
“Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” Amos 3:3
An agreement must be sought above all things as an important part of the mission statement or you will endlessly fight over power. An all-in commitment to an agreement is vital for positive emotion to rule over the negative ones that come from the lack of this.
Fight for agreement, not each other. Seek out the roots of your disagreements, and negotiate them. Don’t make important decisions without agreement or resentment and chaos will be sown into your marriage garden. How can respect grow here?
We aren’t going to agree about everything, but we can still walk in agreement by,
To honor means to place a high value on something or someone. It means I respect her desires, needs, and opinions even if I don’t agree with them. It doesn’t mean I ignore my own, but I don’t selfishly push for them at her expense. We explore them together and unpack them in the tension of who’s going to get their way?” We honor and love and work it out respectfully. It’s give and take. It’s wonderful when it’s not about power, but honoring.
It means I listen to and accept what you are saying without judging, criticizing, or correcting you. I affirm your desires and feelings without trying to change you or pressure you, even if I don’t agree. I don’t bully, intimidate, threaten, or manipulate. Love is patient and kind. If I validate her, I will reap validation when I need it, which is a bit more than occasionally. This feeds the emotional pool of the marriage. There is nothing we wouldn’t do for each other.
Talking is the lifeblood of a marriage. If you or your partner clams up, the marriage is in distress as your connection remains broken. This puts the marriage at risk from outside attack and temptation. I’m going to finish this up with the clamshell analogy. What to do when your spouse or you becomes a clam. Love dies in the vacuum of communication.
Clams are found underwater on the ocean floor. The analogy is simple, you’re going to have to swim for it to reach them. The next step is that you have to pry them open, not always an easy task. The reward, (the pearl,) is worth the effort.
A clam is closed, that’s where the saying, “They’ve clammed up” comes from.
You can open the clam by answering the question (s), Why are they closed?
They will open when the right questions are asked, in a safe, caring, responsive environment. You may have to cultivate this environment if you have a harsh history with them. You may have to take responsibility for neglect, abuse, harsh words, or others. You may need to humble yourself to swim as deep as you know you need to go to repair.
You both may need to repent to each other for words spoken and actions taken that have hurt you both. Confess and release forgiveness, and let God’s mercy flow over you.
You’ve got to want it enough to do whatever it takes. I’ve found when I own my part, she will own hers. Pride keeps me in the desert only long enough to see what I need to see, then I always choose to walk out, cross the river (Jordan, which means death,) and enter the promised land.
I reference the promised land a lot because that’s what marriage is. We only need to follow God and do it His way to enter into the fulness of it and possess our inheritance. He always gives the strategies to take down the giants in the land whatever they are if we submit to Him. He is for us and wants to bless us deeply where we need it most.
So ask yourself if these marriage building blocks are part of your marriage mission statement. Talk about them together, and see if you can agree where you are on them. Risk honesty and possess your land. Dare to look at what’s in the way and how you can remove it. You can do it. XO
When we marry, we drag a lot of needs and expectations into the relationship. There’s no way around it, it’s human nature. This doesn’t make us “bad,” it makes us “needy,” and “expecting” a lot. Alas, it’s the law of relationship, one of many. The more we learn about these “laws,” the better our relationships become, as we get in touch with how much we need, and how we are projecting those needs onto our partner, “expecting” them to meet them. We will punish them for not “meeting up,” whether consciously or subconsciously.
Our fairy tale beliefs and thinking convince us that a “happy marriage” will be conflict-free. This is a deception because conflict exposes our needs and expectations if we will be honest with ourselves and own up to them. Conflict pushes us into this process if we will open our eyes to it and become self-aware. This is the way.
Talk or Punish
Denial creates our self-made prison of misery. When I’m in denial, I’m unaware of what I am doing and focusing on what my partner should be doing. I may naively think,
She should know what I need, why is she withholding?
Without telling them our needs, we will project them onto our intimate other. When I try to get something from Linda without words, I can push her away creating distance, believing she is the problem. In truth, I have the problem, (my unmet need.) There is no bridge to cross to figure out what is going on. Words, questions, and answers provide one. Both partners need to use the bridge. This is how you resolve the issue at hand.
Neediness without communication punishes. It’s unfair to punish her for what I can’t communicate. I get free when I can see what I’m doing and stop. How can she meet my needs if I myself cannot articulate them? Self-discovery makes this possible.
Communicating and negotiating is the pathway to truthful emotional relating. Intimacy cannot exist without risk and trust. Without this, you will remain on a game-playing level of relating. We need to leave the dating- game and learn to love, going deeper than just getting what I need, apart from caring about the feelings, needs, and desires of another. This is selfish loving at best. We have a much greater potential than this.
I Need, I Need
This is a line from “What About Bob.” If you haven’t seen it, it’s a hilarious movie illustrating a boundary-less relationship between a counselor, Richard Dreyfus, and his “patient,” Bill Murray. Bill’s neediness defines the relationship, and Richard’s lack of boundaries enables an awful tailspin resulting in unbelievable chaos. This is something neediness and enabling will create. Chaos, not intimacy.
We all need. Some more than others. Like me. I tell in my upcoming book, Hope for Happily Ever After, of when Linda and I were returning home after our honeymoon. We’d been driving for hours and I had been jabbering nonstop for miles and miles. She finally said to me,
“Do you always talk this much?“
I was horrified as my life-sucking need to be heard and affirmed was exposed, along with other relational patterns, (retreat, pout, sulk, avenge, etc.) You have to get the book for the rest of the story. 🙂
The point is, I didn’t know how needy I was until I married her and tried to get her to meet all of the needs. Immediately. This is what causes the conflict. We start projecting needs without knowing they are there. We all have self-focused, needy operating systems, and conflict in marriage is simply these two selfish systems colliding and working themselves out as we learn to grow out of our narcissism and into selfless lovers.
Happily Ever After is in the compiling, editing process. Thanks for being patient as we don’t want to rush. A good meal has to cook. My love and prayers to all who read these words.
“Love suffers long and is kind. . .” 1Corinthians 13:6
I would be an unfaithful writer if I didn’t write this piece. By now, I think my readers understand that a lot of “happily ever after” is not lived on the mountaintop of marital bliss, but rather in the trenches of resolving conflict. This place can feel more like death and distance than life and connection.
“Unpacking” our bags isn’t easy or fun, nor entering the wounds of our bleeding hearts. But. . .
This is essential relational ground to be covered in our “growing together” process. To avoid this ground is to remain stuck in the wilderness of “immature relating.” This is not a fun place and we want to move through as quickly as possible. The pace depends on our choices and attitudes. Surprise!
Bringing it Home
My wife, Linda, (who may or may not have read this book by the time it’s published,) told me this morning,
“It’s important to write about our failures as well as tell how it’s supposed to be,” I answered, (trying to send a non-defensive tone,)
“You haven’t read what I’ve written, I’ve illustrated a lot of our failures.”
This permits me to tell you more; I’m not “ratting anyone out,” she wants you to have it.
The Fire of Remodel
Your marriage hasn’t been through the fire until you do a remodel together. I’ve decided it’s worse than shopping for dresses with her. When you stop laughing, there’s more.
70 Times 70
No, this isn’t about forgiveness, it’s about how many times a woman is allowed to change her mind. It must be an unlimited amount for me to maintain emotional equilibrium and stay “appropriately” connected throughout the process. The verse of scripture at the top is ever before me.
I’ve modified my belief about Linda and her feelings. I’ve never seen more feelings, or time use demonstrated over the choice of tile, vanities, fixtures, or wallpaper and paint styles and colors. I’ve told her,
“Whatever you like honey, I’m fine with it.”
For some reason, that message hasn’t been enough; She wants. . .more. . .involvement. For unexplained reasons, this produces suffering in me. I want to detach and disconnect until she “figures it out,” then re-engage for the installation process, then rejoice over the results.
This hasn’t worked. Back to shopping;
Say “Yes” to the dress
Shopping with Linda for dresses in itself isn’t bad; It’s kind of romantic and fun, for the first few dresses. Then something happens to me. My blood sugar starts dropping, and I start feeling depleted, and emotionally drained. You know, that feeling where you want to take a nap? You mothers with children will relate.
A guy can only emotionally enter into the purchase of so many dresses that get put back on the rack until he starts shutting down. She can only look “beautiful” in so many of them until they all start looking the same. “Can you just pick one?”
It was bad enough before, now worse, since COVID, when they took all the chairs away. At least with a chair, you could sit down to recover. Now you’re leaning on a wall or hanging off a display rack so your knees won’t buckle.
The Internet’s Out!
You want to talk about “deeper life” in the Spirit; Unplug the internet. This is one addiction that causes immediate withdrawal when the “drug” is removed.
I am involved in a large construction project in my electrical business at the time of this writing. The customer and their family decided to continue “living” there during the remodeling process.
They have three young girls, the youngest is ten, the oldest probably thirteen. Their only salvation, crammed into this temporary “bedroom,” has been the internet. My job is to keep it connected and working throughout the process.
The other day, we cut the power to that circuit and forgot to hook it directly back up. The message came through from Mom;
“The girls said their internet has been cut.”
We went into emergency mode and restored it.
The internet went out at home yesterday. It wasn’t a good day. I should be able to fix it,
“I’m an electrician.”
I want to say;
“ *# Jim, I’m a doctor, not a magician!”
Not wanting it to be my problem, but feeling the necessity to at least put forth an effort; I put on my boots and tromp through the leftover two feet of snow not yet melted from our epic blizzard.
The dish is still up there, and I can see the wire coming down from it. I follow it around the house to where it enters through the wall to the modem. That’s as far as I can take it. Once it goes digital, I’m out.
Frustrated, Linda gets on the phone with the provider. They talk her through different “troubleshooting” steps. I hate those; They rarely work. Sure enough, no resolution. They end the call with the promise to “have it up and running” within forty-eight hours. Frustration and withdrawal increase.
Into the Marketplace
We decide to take a break, get some lunch, and run to Costco. I offer to run the car through the wash for her. The car was greasy and the back window was nearly opaque from the mag chloride they pour on the roads for the ice and snow.
Traffic was oppressive and pushy, everyone and their dog were on the road. Linda says,
“I want to drive through the one by Costco.”
It’s hard to describe the feeling in the air between us. It’s not a good feeling. It feels “ouchy,” and potentially explosive. We are both feeling “owly,” like we need a snickers bar. You want to say something, but don’t want to start a fire.
We wisely go to Chipotle and eat first. We order our food and decide to eat outside. The ice machine is broken and they have to take our cups into the back to get ice. I bring the food out to the table with the napkins, while Linda goes back to fill her drink glass.
The wind begins gusting and I watch in unbelief and dismay as the napkins systematically lift off the table and blow across the street. Time stands still as I watch them helplessly leave one by one as in slow motion betraying my reaction time.
I had made those her responsibility, she left them unsecured to blow away. Grabbing the last one before liftoff, I put my burrito on it and go back in for more. (here to serve.) It was either that or tear off half of mine. It’s mine because it’s the last one and I rescued it. I’m aware it’s taking more and more energy to stay positive and I have to try. (Love is patient and kind.) I don’t make a big deal about it.
Through the Fiery Carwash
We finish eating and return to the car. Linda drives us over to the carwash; It has gates that stay closed until you select your level of wash, then pay. Linda’s having trouble convincing it to co-operate, becoming more impatient.
I’m feeling an emotional co-dependent reaction to her impatience and immaturity. My undercurrent of judgment and requirement began back at the house and builds along with her frustration.
Several attempts at activating the wash fail, leaving the gate clamped shut before us. It feels helpless and desperate as the heat is turned up. Linda states in exasperation;
“I’ve been here dozens of times and this has never happened.”
I didn’t even try to interfere, letting her work it out. It’s hard to know when to stay silent, when to help, or when to take over. I ask a few questions but am the passenger in this case. I suggest that she push the help button. An electronic (female) voice comes on that help is on the way. We don’t believe her.
It feels like we’re stuck in that elevator when the power goes out, and you use that emergency phone, but no one’s going to come, and the building is burning down. She keeps trying., her anger building along with my judgment.
A young man shows up to help. Linda isn’t as kind to him as she should be. He graciously shows her the process of “getting in” and a receipt popped out and the gate lifted. I don’t remember any expressions of gratitude as we lurched forward. I resist control and try to relax, telling myself,
“You’re not the Holy Spirit.”
My part is to be “long-suffering and kind” towards Linda when she is being tested. (I’m being tested too.) She doesn’t need pressure from me to “grow up.” It’s easy to be codependent, then resent our partner for not acting “mature,” and get dialed-up with their impatience.
It’s harder to give them to God and extend grace towards them, staying loving and accepting throughout the process, dealing with our own attitudes of pride.
Back on Line at home
The internet started working again, so they were able to fix it remotely. It’s still a mystery what the problem was.
It’s not until the next morning, this morning, that we start unpacking the dynamic of what’s going on. We share a devotional which segues into an honest conversation and objective analysis of where we are, the dynamic we’re experiencing, and our feelings about it. We reconnect and resolve, learning our lessons the best we can, extracting the available wisdom from the experience.
The moral of the story is;
we are God’s gift to each other for support and strength in fiery times.
We need to own and accept our limitations to love and surrender together to the process to grow in love.
I need to confess my impatience with Linda’s “growth curve,” accept her with love and grace, allowing her time to struggle through without condemning or pressuring her.
She wants to do the same for me.
These “pressure cooker” times expose our immaturity and provide opportunities for both to see our pride, weaknesses, and limitations, so we can walk through them together.
Applying pressure or manipulating, are broken patterns that need forsaking.
They never motivate change or attitude adjustment. That has to come from God, no matter how uncomfortable we may feel with their attitudes.
We can express our discomfort, but not apply pressure, demanding change, or quicker growth. Abuse is another story with other rules applying.
I have to acknowledge the “beam in my own eye before I can see clearly enough to deal with the speck in hers.” Luke 6:42
The upcoming book; Hope for Happily Ever After is in the compiling-editing stage and in progress.
If you want to comment or reach me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and reference this site. I’d love to hear from you! I also have a Facebook page at facebook@Dan2b1
It’s February, almost Valentine’s day and it’s freezing! The temperature has hovered between zero and eleven degrees all day. The weather is what got me started on this topic of “attitude.”
The reason being, I have chosen not to fight winter. I need to accept it instead of wasting my emotion and energy trying to fight it. The weather is never going to be perfect. It’s always going to be too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry, too windy, or not enough air moving. I can be angry at the weather, wanting something else.
People living on the coast get the sea breezes, but then come problems with the humidity and salty air that eats and corrodes and grows mildew and mold. Then there are the hurricanes. Do we hunker down and ride it out? Or do we evacuate? Where will we go and for how long?
In the desert-like Phoenix, my childhood home, it’s nice in the winter but look out come June, July, and August where triple-digit heat is the norm. The monsoon doesn’t always show up. It’s sweltering hot with relief found only in a swimming pool or an air-conditioned car, or room.
Then there’s colorful Colorado, where I live. Spring and Summer are great, but the winters can be snowy, and periods of deep freeze can come. Like now with the temp at zero with snow at three p.m. It’s temperate here compared to Minnesota, Chicago, or Michigan, where they can drive out on the lakes, set up huts, and icefish. Brr.
At least here, after a period of cold and snow, the wind direction returns to the southwest, where the deserts are, and it warms back up melting the snow. The sun always returns after a few frosty days and temperatures moderate some and the snow starts melting.
Why am I talking about all this?
You can’t change the weather; you have to accept it! You take the benefits of your situation, then learn to live with the rest. You endure it at times without complaining and choosing depression just because it’s not the “way you want it to be.” The beauty offsets the price of shoveling snow.
The same holds true in relationships, where’s the shovel?
Attitudes and Marriage
People have “bad” marriages because they have bad attitudes.
Think about it for a moment; A marriage is made up of the attitudes each spouse has towards the other. Your reactions to each other create the “dynamics” you live and breathe daily. “You,” and “they” create your dynamics and the marriage it produces, whether stressful or enjoyable, intimate and connected, or distant and withdrawn.
Taking responsibility for your attitudes and dynamics and changing them is the key to happily ever after.
This book is written for that goal; To change your bad patterns to good ones through God’s transforming grace. This happens when you honestly unpack it together by talking it out.
I remember a handout at a church youth camp fifty years ago. How’s that for memory? It can work against you as well. A good memory means you can have a hard time forgetting things you want to forget. I remember the guy’s name who wrote it. It said;
“Your attitude determines your altitude.”
I’ve never forgotten it. Even though I know it, and reminded of it when I’m tempted to “lose my attitude,” I don’t choose a good attitude 100% of the time. None of us do because we aren’t perfect. Perhaps at times we get pushed to our “limit” for the very purpose of growing.
It’s only when we “hit the wall” and come to the limits of our character we grow more. It’s when I’m frustrated and disappointed, I can choose to love and grow. I can grow out of my selfish “neediness” and demands.
Welcome to marriage.
Let’s get right to it.
What shapes our attitudes?
What happens when I don’t “get what I was expecting?”
I can dump negative emotion into the marriage, or I can adjust my expectation. It’s my choice, I’m not a victim, powerless to choose. (For whatever reason.)
This isn’t easy, as expectations can run deep, outside our awareness. We don’t know how strong they are, or their influence on our emotions. Conflict exposes them if we let it.
Expectations can push us to control the relationship or our partner to conform to them.
It may be fairy tale thinking or powerful beliefs we’ve formed about “how it should be.”
Expectations and how they affect the “emotions of marriage” cannot be overstated.
Without identifying and unpacking your expectation with your spouse, they will tend to perform more, trying harder to “please you” or “make you happy.” Their efforts are doomed to failure because “them trying harder” isn’t the issue. The issue perhaps is the unmet expectation you have that hasn’t been communicated or negotiated with them.
He won’t be able to get his need for affirmation met because you are withholding it until he “meets up” to the expectation you have. More distance is then created as you “withhold” because they aren’t “doing what you expect.” They might not even know what it is.
Maybe, just maybe, your “unmet expectations,” and your response and attitude towards that, is giving you the “bad marriage” you are blaming them for, then demanding they change.
What if he can’t “engage you and initiate” the way you want because of the negative emotion your unmet expectation is creating? What if the “distance” and accompanying loneliness is “self-perpetuated” from your attitude towards them? We may think they are withdrawing when in reality we could be pushing them away.
It works both ways; It could as easily be him having them (expectations,) about you, applying the same pressure, creating the same dynamic. It’s worth considering and exploring. It may be your key to breakthrough.
Either way, distance is created in the relationship through unmet expectation and the accompanying emotional reluctance, withholding of affirmation, and “punishing dynamics.”
We are deceiving ourselves if we think our pressure to change them will cause change. It won’t. It only creates anxiety for you, and distance and pain in your spouse. Our control will fuel negative emotion, energy, and dynamics in the marriage. They won’t feel loved because punishment does not feel like love.
What Can I Do?
Be honest with yourself and take a prayerful inventory of “what you expect.” You will find God more than willing to show you what you are doing. If you persist in blaming you will not be able to see “yourself.”
Acknowledge the pain you’re feeling about this unmet expectation. Let it surface. (It’s often connected to the family of origin and how we were treated and “conditioned.”) It may have to do with past trauma, abuse, or wounding. We tend to project our brokenness on those closest to us (spouse,) blaming them for how we feel.
Be willing to examine and challenge the belief behind the expectation. There is one. Why should it be the “way you expect?” You may discover it’s irrational, or unreasonable. (Like me expecting desert summertime temperatures at 6400 feet in February at this latitude. It just isn’t going to happen. The sooner I accept it the better.)
Try to see the need connected to the expectation and the fear behind this need not being met. What are you afraid of? Why can’t you risk? What’s keeping you from truthfulness? Rejection and abandonment fears often lurk here. God wants to heal these.
Unpack it with your spouse. They likely have no idea you have it, feel punished by you, and don’t know why. They just know they “aren’t feeling the love.”
Try to get honest about your expectation and get real with them about it. You will be amazed at what you discover. They can’t love you the way you want to be loved if you don’t tell them. They may be confused feeling as lonely as you, not knowing “what your problem is.” You may not know what it is, you just “feel unhappy,” with unmet longings.
Change the status quo; lower the bar of your expectation, requiring them to meet it before you will love them. Declare to yourself and your union; “I’m not doing this anymore.” I choose unconditional love and acceptance. Say it out loud to each other. Craft a declaration.
Life is full of disappointments. I get disappointed. What happens when I get disappointed? It depends on my maturity level. In my “immature stage,” I would pout, withdraw, or possibly punish when my “expectation” is unmet. I could fall into that anytime if I let myself.
The spiritual journey is about growing to handle disappointment in more mature ways.
We must grow out of the “throw a tantrum or withdraw and punish” attitudes to be happy in the relationship.
How we handle disappointment is huge when it comes to the “emotions of marriage.”
Marriage is “bad” when spouses don’t healthily handle these emotions. It may not be because you married the wrong person. It could be because your attitudes are generating negative emotions and feelings you are forced to breathe in and out every day.
There’s a lot of hope in this if you receive the truth that your attitudes are creating the emotional reality in your marriage. This is great! It means that all you have to do is change your attitude. I believe it can be that simple. Getting there is the growth process.
How do I do that?
Become aware of how you react to disappointment; you need discernment.
Ask God to show you what you do, how you respond emotionally.
Take responsibility for any withdrawing or punishing you do. (We all do some.)
Become emotionally honest with yourself and God.
Invite your spouse into this process with you.
Allow them, without defending, to show you how your negative responses affect them. This reflects to you the damage you are doing without realizing it. It goes both ways. Him & her.
Make choices in your heart about how you will change and grow.
Tell them your commitment to connect with them and share your resolve to grow.
Enjoy the fruit of taking responsibility for yourself; new intimacy and connection with your partner as you risk vulnerability with them. When you change, the marriage changes. “Woo-Hoo!” It will feel so much better clearing the air and gaining understanding of the “disconnects.” They aren’t hard to fix. An adjusted attitude works miracles in a marriage. I promise.
Passive-aggressive behavior; What does this mean to you?
I’m not even going to look it up. This is my definition; I think it’s close.
Passive-aggressive behavior is displayed when you say something is “alright or okay,” when it’s not. You comply with the wants of another, instead of voicing what you want. (Passive), then you punish them for it. (Aggressive.) It’s the fallout of “lying” communication.
It’s “going along” with something, saying you’re in agreement, but really not, then punishing them for it. They say they’re along for the ride, but in truth they are “sitting down on the outside, but standing up on the inside,” and you will pay for it later. There is a price tag with passive aggressive people. It’s not a free ride though they say it is. It’s not agreement.
My experience is you don’t know you’re passive-aggressive until God reveals it to you in a relationship. We can get away with things living alone that marriage will expose.
An easy example is I love Mexican food and she loves Tokyo Joes, or I like science-fiction movies and she prefers Hallmark. If I fear conflict, preferring to avoid it, I won’t represent myself honestly and say what I want. So, I die at Tokyo Joes eating rabbit food and get depressed over too many “chick-flicks.” All because I won’t stand up and be honest.
Even if I don’t punish her for the dynamic, it is still unhealthy because I am abdicating my wants, needs, and desires, (to be liked,) instead of “representing myself with integrity,” by being truthful. I’m making her “approval” an idol which is idolatry. It takes time and practice to be honest and truthful with yourself to be free from doing this. It is the masculine journey for a man. The feminine journey for a woman.
I am hurting “us” when I do this because I withdraw emotionally when I “shortchange” myself allowing fear to keep me from speaking the truth and stating what I want. I “blame” her when I’m the one creating this painful merry-go-round, by being pusillanimous, (weak,) and non-assertive.
She gets no chance to “give me what I want” because I’m not “assertive.” The opposite of passive-aggressive. Power is not the issue here, rather weakness. The issue is not being assertive and courageous enough to negotiate in love to balance things out. Also, how can she please me or give me what I want if I hide in this manner and don’t tell her?
I believe this is a devilish pattern to keep us out of our promised land. God gladly meets us here to heal our hearts so we are enabled to give and receive love in a greater capacity.
Why do we do this?
We fear disagreement, disapproval, or even abandonment so we don’t “rock the boat,” by saying the truth of what we want or need. It is self-sabotage, learned dysfunction that needs healing.
We’re afraid of emotional honesty with our spouse; we fear vulnerability and the risk involved. We can’t feel love in this state, only fear and self-protection that sabotages honesty.
We don’t have a track record or experience where being truthful or emotionally honest worked for us. We lack security.
We weren’t allowed to “express ourselves,” and discuss feelings at home.
We survived by “stuffing everything,” and not knowing any other way, we repeat what we learned at home.
What Can I Do?
The list is always the same for any disconnect or conflict.
Engage your heart, your emotions, and God.
Bring your pain to God, and ask him to reveal your relating patterns to you. So many times over the years He has been faithful to show me my brokenness along with the wrong ways I’ve tried to get my needs met out of fear, or apart from Him.
I’ve taken many time outs with Linda, and gone to God in my confusion. He never shames me and is never harsh. I know no lover more tender and compassionate than our comforter the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t demand repentance, His lovingkindness leads us to repentance.
The sooner I can get honest, and “get in touch” with my feelings and what I’m doing, the sooner the strategy for love and freedom comes from the heart of God.
Hear me, God isn’t hiding this stuff from us. He longs to reveal strategy and heal our hearts and marriages, if we’ll only humble ourselves before him in honesty and surrender.
Then engage your spouse with what God is showing you about yourself and confess it to them. James 5:16; confession brings healing. Talk openly and honestly about the dynamic and breakthroughs will come.
My prayer is that He will join each of you who read these words and pour out grace, strategy, love, connection, and power. In Jesus’ Name. . .XO
“what was it, Adelle? What was ityou liked about us?”
“I liked the way we danced.” BaggerVance.
The Dance of Differences
We all grow up learning our own steps to the dance.
At first, the dance seems so elegant as we move and sway through the initial romantic fireworks. We can anticipate each other’s moves and can almost finish their sentences for them. We,
“know them so well, and we’re so much in love.”
It isn’t long though before we start seeing fireworks of another kind. Differences start showing up we couldn’t see before, while still under the influence of the romantic “fairy-dust” of new love.
The dance we knew the steps to before starts fading, and instead of an “elegant swirl,” the dance is feeling awkward as we work hard not to “step on each other’s toes,” or trip over our feet.
When the Music Fades . . .
How could anything that felt so good, with no friction, start feeling like this?
Dennis Rainey in Rekindling the Romance, states,
“New love is 90 percent unsustainable. Why? We tend to date and mate based upon an illusion. It’s only after we are married that life has a chance to peel back the layers that mask the tarnished reality.
Love may be blind— for a while—but marriage quickly produces 20-20 vision.”
This was the case for Linda and me. It’s incredible how many differences show up. You know so little about each other’s personality, let alone preferences, like, and dislikes, or needs. You feel more and more alien, and uneasy as time goes on. You feel pressured to “do something” about it.
The natural tendency when we’re in disillusioned love is to create a new song. We engineer a plan that will make it better. It goes like this,
“To be like me Lord, to be like me. . .
“All I ask, make them like me. . .”
Why do we do this?
Because we don’t understand yet what’s going on, and are believing the wrong things, bringing conflict and bad outcomes.
We’re trying to “make it feel better,” and our efforts are only feeling worse, leaving us more anxious as our partner withdraws when they feel our control.
Yes, we push each other away, then blame our partner for “how they’re acting.” We are believing the wrong things about “the steps to the dance.”
The Wrong Belief
“If I can only change that difference bugging me, then we’ll be the same, have peace, and it will feel better.”
This lie will fuel the marriage with rejection, manipulation, and control. As soon as we start “engineering the dynamics,” by applying pressure to change them, say goodbye to romance and freedom. We start releasing toxins into our dynamics. We feel each other’s disapproval.
The Right Belief
“These differences are here on purpose. They are designed by God to make our love relationship better. I need to accept them and press into them.”
Love doesn’t demand its own way, or “sameness.” 
Throw Another Log on the Fire
I know it’s hard, but if you can view “a difference” as a new log to throw on the fire of intimacy, the better you’ll stay engaged in the process. You will have hope, and faith, knowing what’s going on. You can say to yourself,
I’m Just learning “new steps” to the dance that will dance me into “Happily Ever After.” This is no big deal, I’m not going to take myself, or us too seriously.”
Marriages fail because couples fail to learn the “new steps” to sustain their marriage through the adversity and conflict that awaits all marriages. These conflicts often surround differences, and the pressures applied to change them.
“Why can’t you just accept me for who I am?”
Reasons for failure are common, predictable, and can be mitigated with understanding. We don’t have to dance into potholes, but around them. You only need to learn the steps.
I think anyone who’s been married a few years can attest to this.
Again, Dennis, in Rekindling the Romance, says,
“For the first ten to twelve years, most couples, including Barbara and me, are primarily working through the relational baggage they lugged with them to the altar.”
In the upcoming book Hope for Happily Ever After, (under construction,) we will talk about “The Art of Unpacking, and “When bags don’t fly free.” This “unpacking” is part of learning the new steps to our dance.
This dance is our healing journey together.
Open the Eyes of My Heart
Try to see the differences between you as potential “pools of intimacy,” and you’re invited to swim into them. Can you swim? Not at first, for sure, but anyone can learn.
It’s important to understand your core beliefs will drive your behavior.
Beliefs are the engines behind what you do and why. If wrong or faulty, they “fuel” you in wrong directions, creating distance, not intimacy.
You “do” what you believe will make the marriage better. Everybody does at first. These early beliefs are unrenewed and “wrong” when it comes to healthy relating and becoming one with another. If they don’t work, we must identify them and name them as wrong, lies, untrue.
Help me to Grow
Left to ourselves, at first, we are infants when it comes to oneness and emotional intimacy. We are “children,” in our thinking, and must “grow up,” into maturity.
All our broken beliefs and issues ensure the train wreck we feel the marriage is having.
This is by design, and nothing is wrong. It takes faith to believe this, it feels so bad.
It’s not a train wreck, the cars are just being moved around. Reconstruction and growth often feel like a wreck, but it’s not.
Think of it as God doing some remodeling and taking down some walls. He’s hauling some stuff out to the dumpster that’s not needed anymore. What He’s creating will be beautiful and life giving.
If intimacy and connection are your goals, you’ll see things less selfishly, and go deeper with each other to know their heart, and the new steps to the dance, instead of manipulating them. We can agree to grow and hold these values in unity.
It’s good to check motives. Questions help;
“What’s motivating me, or them?
“Why am I pressuring them to change? Or they me?
“Is this about them, or me?”
“What need do I, you, have that’s not getting met?
“What would love do here?”
“What could my marriage be like if I made conscious choices to accept them the way they are?”
Pray together before working through these. Determine you are going to be safe and not defensive with each other. Give permission to be honest, so you can explore together. Give the truth, not what feels safe. Put on your swimsuits and jump in.
Ask if your spouse feels accepted by you or manipulated. If they say “manipulated,” ask them to,
“Tell me more about that.”
Ask as many questions as needed to get down to the dynamics. Swim deeper.
2. Before going to the other spouse, ask them, “What do you feel when I manipulate you?” Get down to the feeling.
3. What does that feeling make you do in relation to me? (want to change, or withdraw?) Why?
4. How can we repair that? What can I do? What would it look like for it to be different between us? How can you feel accepted and loved by me?
5. Repeat the above questions with the other spouse initiating.
Lord, Join us at the point of our differences. Help us accept the invitation to explore these together to find the pools of intimacy that await us. Help us surrender our need to control and follow you Jesus into the promised land of love and acceptance. Take the fear of honesty and vulnerability from our hearts as we’re made safe in your perfect love that casts out all fear. Let your wisdom lead us. Heal us, meet our needs in healthy ways. Give us a strategy. Amen XO
 Rekindling the Romance, Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Pg. 184
There’s no such thing as a conflict-free marriage. Happily, Ever After doesn’t mean you don’t fight, it means you learn to fight fair. We didn’t learn “fair” at home and have to learn, then practice what fair is, and what it looks like.
Myth; In a good marriage, there will never be conflict
Truth; Conflict is the rite of passage to obtain the “holy grail” of unity
Myth; Conflict drives a couple apart
Truth; Conflict fuels intimacy when we navigate it fairly and successfully
Myth; Conflict is bad and to be avoided
Truth; Conflict is good, and helps us discover our hearts when yielded to. It brings us to a place of unity inaccessible without it. It’s only bad when we handle it badly.
Myth; One of us must win the fight
Truth; Both win when you learn to fight fair. It becomes about unity, and honoring, not “winning.” When one wins and the other feels dishonored, you both lose. One uses power to win and not to honor.
The Last Fight
At 33 years in, Linda and I rarely fight about stuff, except for small skirmishes, easily resolved. The last, painful one I remember was March of this year, 2020.
It’s a social setting, and we’re cooking dinner for guests. It’s Easter Sunday and we decide to cook a standing rib roast.
Up, on the Stage
Notice the “stage” for this conflict. A social setting, which usually cranks the performance level to the max.
“What will they think? Who do we need to be?“
You wouldn’t think that would be there, but on some levels it is. Your need to impress or look good. “Who cares?” Apparently, everybody.
Easter. Holidays introduce more of the traditional demons, and family dynamics, along with a dose of “holiday depression.” (It’s real.)
Our conflict seems to be about how the roast is cooked, the timing of everything, and roles of responsibility. It seems stupid but is really a big deal, involving strong emotion.
It’s not about the external circumstances, those are just props on the stage. There are deeper rivers flowing, about to make the water turbulent.
My energy level is low, and I’m feeling depleted and down. (You know that feeling?) Linda, on the other hand is in high gear. I feel I’m being run over by a steamroller, and she doesn’t care about my feelings. It feels like it’s all about performance, and getting the job done.
It’s one of those times you have to push through, and nothing you do is right. I’m sure the enemy’s involved as well, trying to drive a wedge between us. He doesn’t succeed, and eventually, we talk it through and honor all the feelings and needs involved.
Not Always the Devil
The enemy always looks to introduce confusion, judgment, and his accusing mind traffic. We need to discern this, not siding with the accuser against our covenant lover, but resist his lies.
However, conflict is not always the devil. It is often God’s tool to cleanse our marriage of destructive, immature, and entrenched patterns. It’s also his tool to grow us closer together as we take the “promised land” of oneness and intimate connection.
Houston, we have a problem
What’s the Issue? Who has the problem?
Until you answer these two questions, you will fight in circles, and stay on the merry-go-round, unable to resolve the conflict. It’s necessary to push past the “smoke and mirrors,” to get to the real issue and problem.
Where’s the heat?
I have the most heat in this conflict. Historically with Linda, this is the case, because I’m “laid back,” and she doesn’t let up. There always seems to be the next task to be done. You know, “the list.” There is no later, only right now. Since I’m a pleaser, I die without boundaries.
When I refuse and resist without complying and “snapping to,” (like my mother expected,) the negative emotions “present,” and conflict begins.
My issue, in this case, is unmet needs. This is a relational dynamic we face in our marriage over and over. It’s better but remains potentially there because “who we are” never goes away. There’s no such thing as “perfect resolution,” that’s idealism. It doesn’t exist where equal power does. There is tension, and risk, where freedom is.
Victory and unity are found through loving through our differences, not necessarily changing them. We know we can’t change each other.
It resolves when there is communication, validation, and honoring of feelings. Say those words out loud to each other, and feel the power of the words, and the emotions accompanying them.
In our marriage, the dynamic is connected to our differences in personality, and how we operate.
I Need, I Need
Task without connection depletes me. If she’s unwilling to connect with my heart, I deplete and run out of oil. In marriage, it’s give and take. Respecting and meeting each other’s needs is what makes it work.
Task without connection is taking from me. Honoring my feelings is giving to me, then I can “work.”
Work without connection sends the message to my heart,
“What you do is more valuable than who you are, you’re more machine than man.”
This is a painful message that takes “resolution,” to work through.
“Do you love me for who I am, or for what I do for you?”
Any time either feels degraded in the marriage, we need to stop, find out why, and resolve it.
She may not understand this is going on. It is my job to communicate it. She won’t want to hear it, and get,
“bogged down with all these feeling, especially at a time like this!”
This is where I dig in, refusing to co-operate until I get more engagement. She finds herself “pulling the cart” by herself, which she resents, so she applies more pressure or punishes.
This “digging in,” is good for us, levels the playing field, and enables us to establish healthy relating. This takes strength for me to do this as I take permission to “represent myself with integrity.”
My feelings and needs matter, and I have a right to express them, using my personal power.
It doesn’t mean I’m an @#* about it, but it does mean I show up with emotional honesty.
“I feel . . .”
If I don’t do this, I move into a victim role, trying to gain her approval and end up on the “rockpile of performance.” I “throw myself under the bus,” for her acceptance, then resent her for the co-dependent choices I’ve made.
Standing up is healthy, complying like a victim is not.
If I don’t stand up for myself, I may then seek to “balance the emotional scales” through pouting or other passive-aggressive behavior. This is how it works. Welcome to my world.
The Fruit of Conflict
The fruit of conflict will be destructive and bad until we can see how we’re hurting each other and decide to change it.
The pain in marriage only goes away when we find the cause and remove it.This happens with good, soft, engaging words spoken.
We must stop being observers of our bad patterns, take responsibility together, and do something about it. We can then download the negative emotions.
I don’t invalidate by saying,
“How could that be hurting you?”
I validate by saying,
“I see where that’s causing you pain, let’s work together to change that.”
Mike Murdock states in his 101 Wisdom Keys, key number one,
“Never complain about what you allow.”
Lord, help us to fight fair.Use this time to build our marriages instead of letting us drift apart. Give us the courage to speak the truth in love with each other. Don’t let us settle for the “cold war.” Lead us into emotional honesty, risking vulnerability, and truth together. Deliver us from our control, and wasted energy trying to change each other. Help us to embrace and accept our differences, and experience the intimacy that comes with doing that. Help us put away childish things, and grow us into mature, honoring communicators, in Jesus’ name, Amen. XO Dan
L inda and I are just married. We’re off on our first shopping trip together, I think it’s Walmart. We’re just through the door, and I’m distracted with an article of interest to consider, probably a valuable food item.
The next thing I know, Linda has vanished. It’s as if she was beamed up to the alien mothership, nowhere to be seen.
I feel panic as I’m transported back to the little boy who is lost at the circus with his parents nowhere to be found. We haven’t picked out a rendezvous place to meet in case this kind of distressing event happens.
To make matters worse, Linda is just short enough to hide behind all the racks in the store. I feel stressed out, and then angry that,
“she would abandon me like that! How inconsiderate.”
I wasn’t crying yet but felt those abandoned, scary, stressful emotions. “ Where is she?”
I start calling her name, not loudly, but enough for her to hear me if she’s at least on this side of the store. (I know it’s immature and ridiculous, but we haven’t worked out shopping mutuality yet.)
She eventually hears me, returning with this puzzled look on her face that says;
“What’s your problem anyway? I’m trying to shop!”
These were our first “shopping dynamics.” Our first test at “becoming mutual.”
It says “and the two shall become one..” This “becoming” part is the stuff of marriage, the adventure, the journey.
Like it is in the new marriage, you start experiencing dynamics you’ve not been through before. You have to learn something you’ve never had before; Mutuality.
This is how mutuality grows; You unpack the dynamic you’re experiencing together and navigate it with integrity. You use your words and honor and validate each other’s feelings.
This means you take responsibility for your own emotions and feelings, and invite your spouse into them to work them out together with you. They may not want to come in at first. There is often defensiveness involved. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Show and tell
I choose a word picture to illustrate to her how I feel, and how her actions precipitated my feelings.
We are two jets, flying in formation together, wings almost touching. Suddenly without warning, one of the jets peels off and starts flying to another destination without communicating its intentions.
The feeling of “doing this together,” evaporates as the jet flies out of sight with a resounding sonic boom punctuating my abandoned feelings.
“I thought we were going to shop together.” Instead, the joy of us has reduced to me alone.
“Shopping together,” wasn’t in her grid of thinking. You just shop. Slowing down to “drag me along,” never entered her mind. I explained that it needed to be, or at a minimum, I needed more information on what to expect.
Don’t think in terms of blame, Think of this as the way of love
It’s not a matter of “whose fault it is,” rather a matter of “who has the need that’s not being met, and how can we meet it?” Most conflicts start and will end here.
Answer this and you have the resolution to the conflict as you explore. This is the call. Unanswered, the door to mutuality remains closed. Find the reasons, the door opens.
She had no way of knowing what I needed. The dynamic itself exposed my need. I was then able to show her what it would look like for her to meet that need. Her response to love is to change her way of doing things to our way of doing things.
Mutuality is gained through a need meeting.
One of you has a need
The need creates conflict and elicits an invitation to explore it
You explore the need and discover it, in this case, my need for reassurance.
You honor the need by validating it. “Yes I see that and I care about the feelings involved.”
You resolve the need by loving enough to strategize and meet that need by changing how you “roll.” Linda says,
“It’s not just me anymore but us, I’m not abandoning you. I’m finding out about you, and don’t want you to feel that way, I love you!”
My heart experiences healing as “I experience love and acceptance in an abandoned place.” My fear recedes as my heart feels this love and security grows.
Mutual Operating Systems
We developed a “new operating system,” that incorporated mutuality.
If we split up, we communicated what section we would be in, so we could find each other. (I needed this.)
We would occasionally “check-in” with each other to ensure mutuality was intact. This meant we were both enjoying the experience, feeling connected, while free to roam. The more security I felt, the more freedom we gained together.
“I’ll be in the jewelry department.” Or “You can find me in menswear.” Or “Let’s meet back here in fifteen minutes.” Or, whatever works for you.
I was insecure and needed reassurance. Linda loves me so she co-operated with me to meet that need. It’s not that I wanted to control her, keep tabs on her, or keep her from having her freedom. I just wanted mutuality, a sense of “togetherness.”
We can achieve togetherness through communication; Exploring, discovering, honoring, and resolving. This is the mutuality success cycle.
Today when we go into a store, 33 years later, the dance is total freedom. We rarely say anything because we are so used to each other, we can anticipate where each will be. We are tethered, not in a bondage way, but mutually, wanting the same thing; The joy of oneness.
She might even pick out a cool shirt for me, I may discover some unique earrings for her. It may be “shop till I drop,” or it may be I, “say yes to the dress, or go ahead and get them both.”
We know our corporate goals, and each other well enough to know our energy is working together. Our energy is shared to achieve those goals, without competition, fear, or waste from pulling in two different directions. This applies across the board to all our life goals.
I’m under contract for my book “Happily Ever After,” with Illumify Media, and am in the manuscript- editing process. Thank you for continued prayers and support as we complete the book. Praying for all your marriages and all who read this needing hope, and am excited about the future as God unfolds it for us. Mutually yours, Dan XO
Hi everyone! My book “Hope For Happily Ever After” is coming together and getting closer. I’m under contract with Illumify Media and we’re getting it written, organized and ready to go. The book focuses on “Finding connection in marriage,” and “developing the art of true love.” I’m praying it will bring hope and closeness to many, helping them identify disconnects, and remove the distance in their relationship. If you read this blog, (thank You,) and pray for me during this process. XO
Suffocatingfires; Polluted air
I can see the mountains today from my house in Parker, Colorado, as a cold front blows through our state, that’s been burning for months. The smoke isn’t just from our state but from fires from California, Oregon, Wyoming, and probably every other state west and upstream from us.
Many years ago I lived in Casper, Wyoming. I was there when Mount Saint Helens blew. The smoke and ash drifted over the area. One morning I went out to my car and it was covered with volcanic ash. They said to wash it off with a hose because it would scratch the paint. Reports were that when St. Helens erupted that the water level in Yellowstone fluctuated by a third. It’s fascinating that it’s all interconnected.
The drought is severe, California seems to have suffered the greatest losses with whole subdivisions burning up. We’ve had the nuisance of the smoke, so many others have been displaced and have lost everything. I’ve been praying for rain, but it’s not coming. The drought is prolonged. Most of the state is under severe to moderate drought. It’s going to break one of these days. I want to be in a rain forest, but it’s an arid desert here.
I picked the picture above because you can almost taste the salty, fresh air from the ocean, and hear the gulls calling as they fly by. You can feel the cool wet sand squish under your feet, and hear the rush of the water as the waves relax onto the shore.
The fires are going to go out eventually, but it’s been hard to endure the smoke and has made breathing difficult. After breathing it all day, I feel a dull headache, and my throat is sore. Notice suffocation has to do with not getting enough air.
Have you noticed it’s not going away? Once again I cry out to God, “How long oh Lord?” So what’s going on with 2020? It seems unrelenting. I was going to watch the Denver Bronco’s play a football game today but the game is cancelled because the New England Patriots got Covid. It will be played Monday night instead. Isn’t it bizzare seeing NFL games playing in empty or near empty stadiums? At least they’re playing and we’re getting some form of entertainment for which I’m thankful.
I recently took a week in Sedona, Arizona with some longtime friends. We decided to drive, spending a night in Moab, Utah visiting “The Arches” national monument. It was exhilarating to get away from the choking local smoke In Denver, and the views were magnificent.
As we drove south towards Arizona, we noticed more and more stores, stations, and restaurants closed. We ended up driving six hours, finding all the normal hangouts shut tightly down. The worst of the drive was through northern Arizona across the Navajo Indian reservation. Everything was closed. No food, no gas, no restrooms. It was like a ghost town. Apparently, the Indian population is hit hard with many deaths. We were sad for them and prayed for their communities. We were inconvenienced, many of them were dead.
COVID 19, as I understand it, is a respiratory disease attacking the ability to breathe, making breathing difficult. Notice it has to do with “breath.” From what I read, Black, Latino, and American Indians are more susceptible to the virus. For some it can manifest as a common cold with flu-like symptoms, with others it can be much more serious, involving the need for ventilators for one to make it through.
Common Sense; A breath of fresh air
Linda and I believe in using common sense as well as “faith,” so as not to be infected by COVID 19. We don’t attend indoor public gatherings, especially if masks are not being worn. We go out to eat, but wear a mask until we get to our table, then take it off. We prefer outside seating if it’s available. We observe social distancing, with most places open making it mandatory anyway, whether shopping or eating.
We’ve adopted this philosophy from observing the behavior of the populace and watching the numbers fluctuate accordingly. As soon as the “protests” started downtown the numbers spiked. Why? Large gatherings of people not wearing masks or observing distancing. The same thing in Boulder, parties, indoor and outdoor gatherings, no masks, no distancing, outbreaks. It’s like some are in denial that the virus is among us, or don’t care.
I don’t understand the foolishness of making mask-wearing some kind of political statement. It hacks me. Everyone has to make some kind of a statement these days. That’ll be the next paragraph as my rant gets going.
Breathing in a suffocating political environment
I know government, politics, and elections are necessary, but I hate what it does to people. I feel like I’m suffocating in the sickening time we live in politically. I feel I can hardly breathe at times, and I have to work harder at “breathing,” to get any air at all. I groan in my spirit, “How long oh Lord?” I ask “Where are you Lord in all of this?”
Last night a man was shot and killed in downtown Denver after a rally. I barely know who the opposing sides were, but this anger rises up inside of me saying, “why is this stupidity even going on?” It’s creating an escalated suffocating environment that is bearing the fruit of people getting killed. It seems to me the Devil is having his way, creating these environments that set the stage for mayhem.
I have a hard time finding God in it at all. All of society is being dragged through it. The crap slinging, demoralizing political adds are suffocating to me. I so wish things were being done with the Kingdom of God feel.
If your position is better and more powerful, state your position and stop trying to gain power by demoralizing and attacking your opponent. Sell your product, if it’s worth it, people will buy it or vote for it. Leave your competitors alone. I know politics don’t work that way, but I like the philosophy anyway, it feels softer and more fruitful. If God wants you in, you’ll be in, if he doesn’t don’t be a crybaby about it. What happened to good sportsmanship? Give that expectation up.
Discernment to keep breathing
As I was sweeping up red Acer Maple leaves from the front yard tree, I thought of the song by Buffalo Springfield, “For what it’s worth.” Today is a repeat from the late ’60s and ’70s.
“There’s battle line’s being drawn, and nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”
“What a field day for the heat, a thousand people in the street, singing songs and a carrying signs, mostly say hooray for our side.”
“Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
I believe there are spirits of the world that are operating in our culture today that if Christians aren’t discerning, they will be caught up in those spirits and will be acting like the world and hating along with the rest of the world.
I look at it this way. We are all swimming in the same cultural sea as it were like fish. We are breathing the same air through our gills as the rest of the world. There is poison in the water in case anyone hasn’t noticed. We will be infected by the social virus that is in the very air we breathe unless we are discerning.
There are tormenting spirits involved with what is going on in our society today. To “go with the flow” of what’s going on is to be deceived, have you taking sides, and enter into a contest that God doesn’t call us to. The devil would love us to get out on his playing field to destroy us. Remember he’s the god of this world, and loves what’s going on now.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Think of this verse in the context of the present chaos and mayhem in our country and in our cities. I live in Denver and it’s awful here, what’s going on the attitudes of people.
Reports have it that ten per cent of the City of Aurora police force have resigned because of legislation defunding the police force. They are unwilling to continue having their authority taken away to do their job.
There is a political spirit, and it’s the one that says, demands, in your face, “You have to take sides!” “You have to have an opinion.” Battle lines being drawn. I can’t remember as much political and social unrest as there has been since the last election. The one elected hasn’t been the issue in my opinion, rather the extreme responses of the ones opposing him.
We’re called to pray for those who have authority over us, that we might live peacable lives. That’s the only thing I find we’re called to do. Voting is a good idea. It’s an awful time emotionally and spiritually in our political environment.
The defunding and stripping of authority of local police departments is what I believe to be an unravelling of the structure of our society. This will be replaced by lawlessness and anarchy as authority is stripped from the police force and hands of officers are tied so they are unable to protect themselves.
In a recent Fox 31 news story about the retirement of police officer Lt. Dave Cernich, and a letter he sent to City Council. the article reads; Quoting the letter directly,
“It is with great sadness that I inform you of my retirement after 25 years in law enforcement. I spent the last 20 years in aurora and it was a pleasure to do so, until this year.
I can honestly say that my retirement is a result of you, I am disheartened by your lack of respect for the occupation I’ve revered for so long”
“I’m leaving premature as a result of what’s going on in the community. What’s going on in the community is fostered by city council and the city manager…Ninety percent of my department wants to leave. They want to leave for the same reasons…They don’t feel appreciated by the community anymore. They don’t feel appreciated by city council anymore, there’s protests every single week-end, there’s people spitting on us, calling us all kinds of bad names.”
“The city thinks their First Amendment right is more important than my life. I can’t protect my cops anymore. City council is dictating what the cops do. I can’t protect my troops anymore; as a lieutenant, if I can’t protect my troops, I don’t need to be there,” he said.
“This is an agenda being politicized and it needs to stop. You’re going to lose a lot of good people who aren’t going to be there when you need help”
I interviewed a lady married to an Aurora police officer to get my facts straight. She said that many Aurora police officers have retired from the force to take up other trades and careers in the face of the increased risk and stripping of protections.
Also law suits can now be filed against officers with any complaints of “impropriety” entangling “offending officers” in court and potentially costly lawsuits up to 25,000,00. Many will “settle” out of court, not wanting to spend the time and money to drag through a lengthy trial. Cops have now become the criminals and the criminals are suing them.
” I don’t like the way he frisked me, it was sexual, or an “assault.”
Many feel the risk isn’t worth it with the protections that are being removed, and are leaving.
We know that there are offending officers, and bad, wrong things have been done by some, who should be brought to justice. We’ve seen the videos, over and over. Black lives do matter, as any other color does, but to dismantle the police force, and throw those who risk their lives for the public under the bus for the sake of First Amendment rights is not the answer. Look what happened to downtown Denver. It was disgraceful to all involved.
Government should protect us all, not put us at risk, taking away our protection. Will we repeat the mistakes of the sixties and seventies with this new “cultural revolution?” I think we already have that answer. We need to pray for America for God to heal our land.
God help us not to suffocate in these difficult times. Give us air to breathe in our “oxygen starved” environment. Bring the rains that our land needs, put out the fires. You are good. Protect us from covid, help us make wise choices. Bring us a cure. Have mercy on us and our country, and heal our land. Bring humility and repentance. Heal the division in our country, and quench the incendiary, hateful party spirit that has been loosed over us. Grant us discernment to see when wrong attitudes and spirits are operating. Free us from hate and bitter hearts. Break negative agreement and death dealing words over our nation. Where there is hatred bring love, where there is strife, bring unity. In Jesus’ name, Amen
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 thingsthat 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 lifethat he becomes scared of her. She is his addiction. And when he can‘t 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
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.”
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.
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 Categoriesof 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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
As a child, there was simply no grid to process the emotional horrors of life. I guess that’s enough to cause depression.
Emotions were suppressed, and not allowed to be processed externally. Everything was stuffed, or else.
Anger, parental conflict, and an unsafe environment were the order of the day.
Conditional love and performance for acceptance was the environment.
God was not involved, then when He was, religion and the performance culture took over.
My emerging sexuality as a boy was abused by another man, distorting my view and bringing shame.
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.
My Grandmother, my nurture and shield from abuse died on the operating table undergoing open heart surgery when I was a young teen.
Then the 70’s came.
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.
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,
Accepting what God has for me, and loving & accepting myself with my weaknesses.
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.
Trusting in God’s goodness; declaring that He is good and His mercy endures forever.
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.
Gratitude and thanksgiving for all he gives which is good and fulfilling when I say “yes.”
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.
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.
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!”
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?
“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.
“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?
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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 standon? 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.
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?
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.
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 presentage 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
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 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? $$$
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 todie is gain. Philippians 1:21
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. Hebrews2:14,15
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 thousandat 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 ouriniquities, 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.
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
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 runaground 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.
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
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 listeninghowever 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.
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.
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
“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 howI’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 broughtout 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, youneed 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 easyand 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!
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 meetthem
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, nottakenforgranted. 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.
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.
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 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
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 email@example.com
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
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
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
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?”
“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.
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
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 isfamily, 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
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.