Peace Be Still

Peace be still!

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.

A–Ambition

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.

The Fix

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.

E–Exercise

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 power of 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

Operating Systems

Operating Systems

Relational Dynamics

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.

Broken 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. . .

The Powerhouse

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.

The Manipulator

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.

Kingdom Conflict

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


The Anatomy of Marriage Meltdowns

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

Oh, that’s what we’re doing!”

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

Cause and Effect

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

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

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

The Control Meltdown

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

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

Truth be Told

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

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

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

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

We Build the House we Live in

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

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

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

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

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

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

Differences in needs

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

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

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

Two Lovers Losing

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

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

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

The Strategy She Needs; Understand Your Man

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

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

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

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

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

The Strategy He Needs; Understand Your Woman

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Make a Deal

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

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

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

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

I feel connected when…

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