Keep the Poles Set

This is most likely our last time of pastoring.   That’s quite sad.  Being invited into a congregation’s lives, especially during happy and sad times, gives a depth to relationship that is very meaningful and special to me.

My last word while here in Westfield…. :)     I believe I’ve mentioned Rev. Adcock before and the phrase he used but it’s on my mind again this morning.

7-27-2016

Our professor at God’s Bible School and College, Rev. J. Wesley Adcock, used to tell us, “Keep the poles set.”    As a student in my early 20’s, I didn’t grasp the depth of what he was saying, although I did pay attention.

Paraphrased in my own words, “Intentionally and consistently put yourself in a place where God can speak to you and give you help, regardless of whether you “feel” like it or not!!”

I’ve certainly not done as well as I wished I had done!  I gave in too often to feelings…but overall, I put people around me who had the same spiritual-relational goals in life and similar life style choices.  That positive peer pressure strengthened me to be more than I was!!

(First thought)   I’ve said it before, but in my early 30’s God spoke very calmly but definitely to me one morning about my devotional life, which, although I wanted it to be, was not in actuality a priority.  The thought that I could end up not being in a personal relationship with God got my attention so strongly that I got serious about devotions.

That confrontation by God was an act of love!  God knew I was going to desperately need Him in a few years and He helped me to get that pole of a consistent quiet time set now so that when emotional crisis hit, my first instinct was to turn toward God—because I’d been practicing that for 2-3 years by then.

(Second thought)  Keeping myself consistently in church has changed me.   Yes, I totally understand that many times it can be a routine that you don’t feel like doing all the time!!  I’ve felt that too.  But by keeping that particular pole set, I was there when during a revival  I heard an illustration given that ripped the blinders off my eyes to myself.   I can’t describe it…it wasn’t fun right then….but over time, accepting that truth has started me on a path from which I never want to get off!   It has been life-changing to me!    But I had to BE there!

(Third thought)  Accepting God’s invitations to interacting and connecting with other people is another pole that I’ve had to  “on purpose” keep set.  Shortly before I had surgery for breast cancer, Pastor Going invited any who would like, to come to the altar for prayer that evening.  I didn’t feel any especial pull…actually I’m a pretty private person and don’t like attention, but my head said that this would be a good thing.   When I did and my friends came up and prayed for me, I will never forget feeling so “surrounded” with their prayers and good-will.   But I had to put myself in a place where that could happen, even though by nature I tend to resist the openness.

The same can be said for involving a Christian counselor or reading good books that cross our paths .  We must do it…. read it…. talk it…  As we do, even if nothing positive immediately happens, we’re keeping a pole set so that God can use even one thought to start or continue the process of change in us and send us one more step up the spiral!!

Intentionally going to the altar or meeting in a prayer group where other people can support a burden or care that’s on our heart is also strengthening!  Even joining in with other people who are likewise praying…all separately, yet all together—is so bonding, and fulfilling!

These are all trust building exercises!!   God wants us to know the delight and pleasure of trusting Him, trusting other people, and even trusting ourselves.    But we have to do our part by putting ourselves in the place where God can speak and where we can learn by “obeying before we understand”!!

 

 

 

 

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Getting Through the Unsettledness of Change

 

It’s on my mind to publicly share some thoughts based on the book by Stephen Arterburn  in SAFE PLACES.   Everyone may not understand what I’m trying to say,  but my purpose is that  it will be an encouragement to all of us.

When we moved to Village Park, I went through a period of personally feeling “unsafe”!   It was absolutely not because of what anyone said or did or from any attitudes shown!!!    It was the fact of change and the uncertainty that was rooted in my own fears.    

My point is…that was only a stage!  But I had to move through it to get it behind me.

Quote from the book SAFE PLACES:

A safe place is where a person’s basic needs are met, where a person can give and receive love, where one can grow toward maturity, where a person trusts others, where one has the freedom to serve others, where a person is free to express emotions, where relationships can grow strong and be healthy.

(quote starting at p 192.) 

One of the safest things you can do in anticipation of entering into a committed relationship, whether marriage or business partnership (or church), is to avail yourself of advice and practice in problem solving and conflict resolution.

How a couple (church) handles conflict is one of the best measures for a marriage’s (church’s) success.  Good conflict resolution is a skill that every person can and should acquire.

All families (churches) have unsafe periods.  Anytime that a family (church)  undergoes a significant change in schedule or routine, location, procedure, or authority structure, anytime a person is added (babies, in-laws) or subtracted (death, divorce) from the family(church)  unit, anytime one member of the family (church) undergoes a life crisis, these changes tend to be internalized by one or more family members (church members) as unsettling, confusing, or threatening.   

Anxiety can set in, frustration can erupt, and communication can break down.  What has seemed to be a safe, settled, and steady environment becomes one that is unknown and alienating.

Since human beings tend to like control and to like knowing what is going on, changes—even ones that everybody may agree are for the best or hold great potential for good—are always to some degree unwelcome.

The conclusion is this:  all families (churches, schools, colleges, etc.) have unsafe periods.  The challenge of creating a safe place to build your life as a family (church) is a daily, ongoing challenge.  The same holds true for any relationship including those at work, at church, at school and in the community at large.

(words in parentheses are mine)

End quote.

So, for all of us affected by change in the next year or two….let’s not panic at the unsettledness of change!    I feel it too!!   I hate the feelings of change!   But I’m looking back at the largest crisis of my personal life at 35 which involved seeing and letting God heal my very damaged trust,  to many other smaller crises that involved much shorter periods of unsettledness and change…and God used every one of them to heal me in an area, to help me to mature in an area by making decisions based on the principles of God’s truth and not on my own feelings about the matter, or to experience some emotions so that I could understand other people with my heart!    Those learning times varied in length from a few hours to 3-5 years!

Never one time have I welcomed the “unsafe, unsettled” period!!    But afterward  I have experienced the joy that made the discipline worth it!!     God is a safe God!     He always has a good reason for allowing discomfort or pain…or change!!    It’s the only way we can grow and mature!     God wants to mature us!!   And we do that in community with other believers!

 

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The Fear of the Lord Is the Beginning of Wisdom

An excellent tool for serious Bible Study:    http://comeafterme.com/index.html, developed by Nathan Brown.

This is my personal take-away today, May 23, 2016.

Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments.”

I’m coming from the angle of action and consequence.

ACTION: Acting on God’s principles (which means we often must stretch ourselves to “trust and obey” beyond our emotions!!) starts us “up the spiral” in any situation, even in what might be called “messy” relationships or situations. Hannah Whitall Smith’s book “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life” was written from her “messy” life which came as a result of her husband’s choices, but God redeemed the “mess” in Hannah’s life by helping her learn what she probably could not have learned any other way. She shared it and it has blessed many!

CONSEQUENCE: There are good results to any baby steps of obedience we take out of a heart that is trusting God. Somehow we personally experience the positive consequence of going up the spiral (of maturity) a step at a time!

Psalm 112 reinforces to me the end result of having a “trust and obey” attitude toward God that is deeper than our “feelings”. Feelings are molded by our past experiences and training and may not be based on truth! It may take a serious exercise of trust to act on God’s principles beyond our personal feelings!

Obedience precedes understanding. (Obedience is not collapsed boundaries!) This is true for all faith/trust-based relationships. Our relationship with God is our first safe “trust-based” relationship, for God is “healthy!” He is not self-protective, does not have an agenda, is not self-centered!! God is love. We can only increase our ability to truly love as we learn from Him!

Out of our relationship with God flows our own “trust-based” relationships with people. Jesus is our example of how to have trust-based relationships with people. He knew what was in man’s heart, but He still acted with a “trusting” attitude. God does not control us; we have been given free will.   Jesus practiced healthy boundaries when relating to people.

However, we can choose, but we can’t choose the consequences. God will never lie to us. There IS a moral law already in place in our universe and God will not make us the exception. He will always be true to Himself….and to us!

WE have the choice…God’s Way or Our Way….up the spiral, or down the spiral….

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BOUNDARIES–How people with differing boundaries act and react

This article was one of those eye-opening bits of truth for me.   I had no clue about “personal boundaries”!!    However, “collapsed boundaries” described me very well at that particular time during mid-life.

We have to recognize our issues before we can work on them!    This article strongly challenged me to intently study and learn about healthy boundaries.   I wanted to understand!!!    I started with these books:   BOUNDARIES by John Townsend and Henry Cloud and also BOUNDARIES, WHERE YOU END AND I BEGIN by Anne Katherine.

HOW PEOPLE WITH DIFFERING BOUNDARIES ACT AND REACT

Source:  Marti Lisa, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Orlando, FL

The Greenville News,  c. winter 1996-1997

Appropriate boundaries are what enable people to say no without feeling guilty or fearful that the person they are dealing with will stop liking them or respecting them.  Here are breakdowns of people with different boundaries.

PEOPLE WITH HEALTHY BOUNDARIES:

  • You are willing to say no, to let others know when they’re stepping on your toes; you’re also willing to say yes.
  • You have the ability to make requests and to seek alternatives when others must say no to you.
  • You have a strong sense of identity and self-respect.
  • You make appropriate self-disclosure; you reveal information about yourself gradually and only as mutual sharing takes place and trust develops.
  • You expect shared responsibility for relationships.
  • You recognize when a problem is yours or another person’s; when it’s not your problem, you don’t jump in to rescue the other person.
  • You don’t tolerate disrespect or abuse.

PEOPLE WITH RIGID BOUNDARIES

  • You’re apt to say no if a request is going to involve close interaction.
  • You have strong defenses to protect yourself from getting close to people; you may pick fights, for instance, or stay so busy you leave no time for on-on-one relationships.
  • You avoid closeness because you fear either abandonment or engulfment.
  • You make little or no self-disclosure, perhaps preferring to draw the other person out but not sharing information yourself.
  • You have an inability to identify your own wants, needs, and feelings.
  • You have very few close relationships, though you may have many acquaintances.

PEOPLE WITH “COLLAPSED” OR NO BOUNDARIES

  • You can’t say no for fear of abandonment or rejection.
  • You share too much personal information too soon.
  • You take on other people’s feelings rather than just feeling empathy.
  • You have a high tolerance for abuse and for being treated with disrespect.
  • You believe “I must have deserved it” when treated badly.
  • You do anything to avoid conflict.
  • You have no ability to see flaws in others because you’re focused on being what you think other people want you to be.
  • You have no sense of self.

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Ten Simple But Powerful Ways To Build Your Marriage by Tami Myer

Taken from:   http://www.startmarriageright.com/2015/08/10-simple-but-powerful-ways-to-build-your-marriage/      by Tami Myer

The entire article is very good.    I’ll list all of them and you can go to her website for further reading for they are each excellent, but I’e like to give you number ten in full.  I had never thought of this, but looking back, this is so true!!

Quote:

  1. NO SARCASM.
  2. USE YOUR BEST MANNERS.
  3. BECOME FLUENT IN THE LOVE LANGUAGE OF YOUR SPOUSE.
  4. DO NOT ASSUME YOUR SPOUSE’S MOTIVATION.
  5. FAST AND PRAY ON A REGULAR BASIS FOR YOUR MARRIAGE.
  6. AVOID CORRECTING YOUR SPOUSE.
  7. PRAY TOGETHER AS A COUPLE.
  8. SPEAK THE “GENDER LANGUAGE” OF YOUR SPOUSE.
  9. KNOW THE PASSWORD TO YOUR SPOUSE’S HEART.
  10. MAKE AND ACCEPT BIDS.

Dr. John Gottman is known around the world for his forty years of extensive research on marriage and relationships. Twenty-five years ago, he began watching and recording the daily interactions and conversations of hundreds of couples.

He expected to see successful couples involved in countless small examples of self-disclosure and personal sharing.” What he discovered, though, was not what he expected.[ii]

Successful couples spent most of their time talking about ordinary things that seemed to make no difference to anyone, such as ‘breakfast cereals, mortgage rates or the baseball game.’ They rarely talked about their deep, inner feelings.”[iii]

Here is what was important: successful couples made “bids” and responded to them.

“Bids” are any type of invitation to connect, such as a comment or a touch or even just a look. After one person makes a bid, the spouse then accepts the bid by some type of positive response. Again, it can be a simple comment, gesture, or even facial expression.

Successful couples make countless bids back and forth; each accepting the other’s bid. Their bids often look remarkably inconsequential. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that the bid is made and accepted.”[iv]

For example, perhaps your spouse remarks one morning that there is a beautiful red bird sitting on the back fence. If you take the time to look at the bird yourself, you are accepting the bid, and building your marriage. However, if you ignore the comment about the bird, or respond harshly, you are refusing the bid and damaging the marriage.

Day after day, as a couple creates many of these bids, offering and accepting, they are knitting together a very strong relationship. Each interaction may be small, but they are powerful when woven together. Likewise, a series of refused bids, however small, becomes a very destructive force in the marriage.

Responding to bids is so significant in a relationship that Dr. Gottman learned that he could predict with high accuracy the success or failure of a relationship by this factor alone.

Just as a bird builds its nest, bit by bit, so you can build your marriage, bid by bid.

End quote.

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An Example of the Healing of a Past Emotion

While talking to a friend this morning, something triggered this memory.  I think I’ll write it down and share it.

This is an example of the healing of past emotions—feelings that can pop up unexpectedly later in life.  Some memories are a simple one-time “recognize it, figure it out, say it out loud to the right person, and let it be healed” action.   Other memories have many different facets of emotions that must be walked through one at a time.   I’ve done both kinds.

I believe this occurred just before one of John’s first overseas trips.

A few days before he left I started feeling unusually depressed.  I couldn’t put words to it.  I just “felt”.   I felt depressed even when we went over to my SIL’s home one evening which was something we all loved to do.   Our kids were the same age and played well together.   I believe she even commented on my mood.  But I had no words, no understanding of the “why”.   I still could only “feel”.

The time came when John would be leaving very early the next morning and he finally just asked outright, “What is wrong with you?  What’s going on?”

I didn’t know, so I started thinking hard and praying, “Lord, what is going on?  Why am I feeling like this?”

God has always helped me to discover the answers when I’ve honestly asked Him, wanting to know the truth.     Many times I’ve asked Him the “why” questions about myself!   “Why am I reacting this way, Lord?   Why am I over-reacting?!!  Why am I feeling so bad?”   “What’s going on with me, Lord?”    When I was being honest and able to receive the truth, God helped me to understand.

A little later I came back to John and said, “I think I’m afraid that you’re going to leave and not come back.”   

Those are very simple words, but for me at that moment those words were loaded with emotion!  For you see, even though I was too young to remember it, my dad left early one morning and never came back….and the family lived with that reality the rest of our lives.    On a trip to Memphis TN from Indiana he was involved in a truck/train accident and was killed.   He left a 33 year old wife, a 14 year old boy, a 10 year girl and a 22 month old baby girl.

I’m not trying to garner sympathy.  I’m just stating the facts so you can understand where the strong feelings were coming from.     There was a deep fear that was surfacing in my consciousness…. “Was history going to repeat itself?

I’ve realized over the years by paying attention to my emotions and reactions that I believe I have what Gary Smalley calls a “core fear of emotional abandonment.”   I have a feeling that this event may have been one root cause of it.  The other root is that it seemed to me the husbands of my aunts did not seem very emotionally connected to their wives.    I was pretty sure they had probably been “in love” when they married… so in my young mind I came to the conclusion that love does not last…another form of emotional abandonment.

This is not a running sore now, it is a healed scar…but it is healed because I took the risk of identifying and revealing my feelings to the right person, the man who mattered more to me than anyone else in the world.   It felt very risky because he could have discounted my feelings by saying, “That’s so silly!   That happened 30 years ago!   Why in the world are you making a big deal out of it now!   It’s not even something you remember!!”

But he didn’t do that.   He was sympathetic, he paid attention to my feelings, he gave me time to do my personal grieving and processing without pressuring me in any way.    He didn’t have to do anything.   I just needed him to be a safe person and hear me when I needed to say something as I worked my way through my feelings.

That was a one-time occurrence.   At the time, he could also have thought, “Oh boy…is this going to happen every time I go on a trip?”    Well, if the feelings hadn’t been recognized and processed, it very well could have been that way, I suppose.   But because I “felt” the feelings and said them out loud to the person I needed to say them to, it was an emotion that was healed.   Even though the same thought may still pop up when he leaves for a trip now, I pray and say, “Lord, if the worst does happen, then please help me to trust you!”  And I let it go.   The ability to let go has to come after the processing!

Other people’s deep fears could come from many different sources…. a mom or dad who left  with divorce being the cause rather than death,  and possibly emotionally or physically abandoning the kids.  It could be broken trust in certain people or abuse in its many forms.

I don’t know the wounds of others, but I know it seems to be a natural reaction that if one person of a group breaks our trust, we tend to think that everyone of that group will do the same.   That is not necessarily true!!  Example:  Just because one man seriously broke my trust does not mean that all men are untrustworthy!    That fact could be something we may know in our head, and yet our emotions may start going crazy with fear when put in a similar situation…fear which could be masked by anger, depending on our personalities!!

We will not be able to grow beyond those fears without taking some emotional risks…of giving other people the chance to prove themselves trustworthy!    I can’t tell you the depths of fear I felt while taking some of those risks with John, but he’s proven himself a trustworthy man.    That doesn’t mean we don’t have conflicts and disagreements and maybe even deeply hurt each other….but we’re doing our best not to harm each other!  If we do, we try to correct it.  There is a big difference between hurting someone and harming them.

We are committed to growing in our relationship, with God’s help and leadership!

 

 

 

 

 

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Repairing Relationships

This comes from a series of emails I sent out in 2010.  

PART 1

Before I start I’d like to make a disclaimer.   I know these thoughts come from my perspective and my background.  There will be other temperament combinations in a relationship that are not as obvious—maybe both are introverts or perhaps both may have extrovert traits.   I think the principles are true, but it always takes listening to the Holy Spirit’s guidance to see your areas that need honesty and transparency.

This is my thinking and our experiences….but please remember I’m not God nor the Holy Spirit.    This is to consider!

When it comes to repairing relationships think details, not big picture!

I don’t think it’s an accident that the following verse is in the Song of Solomon Chapter 2, verse 15 says “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vine, for our vines have tender grapes.”  (emphasis mine)   The Wesley Study Bible note says, “Possibly a precautionary measure:  keep the things that could spoil budding love from destroying it.”

It’s the little things that undermine relationships.   “Oh, that’s not worth talking about.  It will just upset both of us.”  “I can handle this…it’s not worth the stress.”  “I’m embarrassed to even say that this bothers me, it’s such a little thing.”  “Surely I’m grown up enough to not let this bother me!”  etc.  etc.

However, that little thing becomes a “brick” in a wall between you and someone else.  And given time, even small bricks will develop into a huge wall.

To be continued…

PART 2 

These thoughts are something to seriously consider…

Verbal extroverts (Cholerics, Sanguines, Type A personalities, Lions, Otters, etc), as maturing adults, often need to go back and un-say or un-do what’s been said or done.   How wise for verbal people to open the door and invite one person at a time to share just one hurt they may still have in their heart from their relationships with them.  (Current issues of course, but especially past situations with spouse, children, friends, etc.)  It’s wiser still to continue that practice until nothing is left between them and the other person, no matter how far back into the past they have to reach!    

Quiet introverts (Phlegmatics, Melancholies, Type B personalities, Golden Retrievers, Beavers, etc.), as maturing adults, usually need to go back and say or do what’s been unsaid or undone!   It’s nice if someone else opens the door—but if they don’t, it’s your responsibility to bring up the subject.  Take the emotional risks.  Face your deepest fears.  Don’t let the emotions of fear paralyze you!  If you don’t take these risks, you’re robbing yourself—and your family and friends!!!

As an introvert, I was a “stuffer” of my feelings.   Looking back, I see now that the women in my life never felt emotionally safe enough to express their feelings, so as a young wife I didn’t either.  It wasn’t a choice; I didn’t know how to do otherwise.

After 10-15 years of marriage, I was like a pressure cooker ready to blow, for there is no way you can live together as two entirely different people and not have issues you need to work through.   I had stuffed feelings until there was no room left for another feeling.  But because of my personality, rather than exploding, I think I would have imploded—the danger being that I could have emotionally withdrawn from John permanently—which would have left both of us empty.  (I feared crossing a line with John, but I was the one who could draw my line (out of fear) and cut someone off.  Maybe that’s why I feared this with John so much….!

To be continued…

PART 3     

If an extrovert is wise and decides to take the risks of asking someone else to share a painful memory, don’t be surprised if at first the other person starts out by saying “Everything’s fine.”   But don’t stop there.  Probe a little bit.  Give them permission to bring up the past.  “If you were to answer, what might be the first thing that comes to your mind…even if it’s from years ago….”

The following suggestion is especially important.  Invite introverts to write their memory and their feelings about it.  Introverts are not always verbal people.  Tell them you will listen and will think and pray about it before responding.   Then consider responding in writing, especially if you’re feeling defensive and emotional!  However a written answer is not always key to communicating with introverts.  It’s most important that they feel free to use writing.  Somehow when writing/email/texting, etc. are used, you can avoid much of the negative reactive emotion…and body language….that goes with being open, honest and transparent with each other about hurtful actions or attitudes.

Why would introverts hesitate before being honest with an extrovert?  For one thing introverts are testing your reactions.  Do you really mean this?   How safe are you really going to be?   Are you really going to listen to me?    Or am I just setting myself up to be hurt or disrespected again?  Introverts open up slowly.

The second reason is most of us usually move from the least painful to the most painful when working through memories.  Maybe we get stronger as we go… I’m not sure.  I just think it’s true that we work back to the most painful memories.  So it’s important not to stop too soon.

It’s also important to do one memory at a time.  Both sides need time to test God’s leadership out.  As we obey, we find out that each obedience has a positive result and that gives you courage to try again.

However, be aware that memories and/or crazy cycles never get easier to tackle.  The same depth of emotion is there each time. The same feeling of risk is there.   However, your head remembers that good has resulted from the other risks you’ve taken in obedience to God.    So hopefully you will ask for courage and pray, “Lord, please help me again!!” 

To be continued

PART 4

Why should we deliberately bring up the past?   Introverts need to understand that when extroverts are stressed or bothered, they say what they’re thinking and it’s over for them.  They likely will never think of it again.   But the bricks are left in the relationship, although an extrovert may have no clue they are there.   The person who knows the brick is there needs to bring up the subject.  Even the smallest brick!!   Start with what’s current and work your way back.  You don’t have to worry about “picking out” what needs to be worked on.  A hurt or an issue will naturally float to the surface when it’s time to be healed.  God, the Holy Spirit, will lead you step by step as you ask for grace!!!

Extroverts need to understand that introverts will get more and more depressed if they stuff feelings and avoid truth in their relationship.   The more disconnection they feel, the less motivation there is to try and the greater the threat of separation—of setting their one and only boundary of separation and divorce—rather than risk taking care of details!

Why do all this painful work?  Because when the details are taken care of, the big picture will take care of itself.    Every memory you work through and resolve sends you UP the emotional spiral one more step.  It releases the internal pressure just a little more!  The day will come when you know in your heart there is nothing left between you and that is such a wonderful feeling you don’t want anything to ever be between you again!

It took serious pain for me to be motivated to tackle my relationship habits.   This is a prayer I wrote down and have read over many times that came out of a time of deep painful feelings.  “Lord, if this is the only way to change me, please let the pain become greater than my fears.  Help me to care!   I want you to make my stony heart flesh!”  (Referring to Ezekiel 36:26)

To be continued…

PART 5

I’m saying all this because it has worked.  Yet also remember that decisions have to be made daily.   It will always be my temptation, my nature to hide feelings.    If I give into what comes naturally to me and withdraw, then I start down the spiral in my relationships again.   If, by asking for God’s grace and by trusting and obeying, I decide to be open and honest, I reverse that, and start back UP the spiral.

When I have revealed a wound or a boundary violation to John, I have deeply hurt him every time because hurting me was never his intention.  The behavior was a natural emotional reaction, either inborn and/or from training by role models.  Neither have I ever meant to hurt him with my actions or attitude of disrespect or distrust.  The behavior was natural emotional reactions.

I would see the pain I was putting him in and I’d think, “This is it.  I’ve crossed the line.  He’s going to cut me off!  He’s going to say, “That’s so stupid!”  What you’re saying is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard of!”  “ I don’t believe that!”  “Big deal!  Get over it!”

But he never did.  And we would painfully work our way through whatever issue had come up.

Now I’m not implying that during that time our relationship was “peace like a river”!  It was more like entering wild “rapids”.  Emotionally you are afraid you’re going to go under, maybe for the last time!   You come up, catch your breath, and then you may be hit again with some of those stuffed feelings from years ago!  J

But as we kept on plowing thru the rapids, we always came back out into the calm.   And with the calm came the rewards—closer connectedness, emotional intimacy, a deeper trust in one another and the sure knowledge that “this issue” was forever behind us.  We’d talked it out until there was nothing left to discuss or feel.  You know when there is nothing between you any more.

I’m not going to lie to you.  God didn’t lie to me.  Be aware that this is not a one-time event.  Depending on your past, it could be a longer process—it was a five year process for me.  Good counseling and intentional reading and learning can cut down that time quite a bit!!  But it does take time to process emotion.    It takes time to take care of the details.

Neither can you do this on your own.  You need God’s help and leadership.  You need your Christian friends’ involvement.   You need good instruction from counselors.   If you are an adult child of alcohol/drug-using parents or an adult survivor of abuse, you almost always need professional Christian counseling by someone who specializes in that area.   But it starts with you!   Good things are waiting for you!!!

I’m telling you a truth.   God’s ways work.  And God’s ways satisfy our deepest needs!   But it takes faith to believe His leadership before the fact!!   Obedience precedes understanding!  It takes faith and trust to let go of our control and to risk jumping out into the unknown!   But even if our faith is as small as a grain of mustard seed, good things start happening.

To be continued

PART 6

I believe these principles are true for our relationship with God als

If we have a wall of disconnection between us and God, in this case it’s all on our side.  God has already made the decision to be in relationship with us.  God is completely healthy, unselfish and trustworthy.  There is nothing “fallen” about Him.  We are the ones who need to correct ourselves and to choose to be in relationship with God!   WE are the ones to figure out the lies we have believed about God.

Start with the “detail” that comes to your mind.  Work thru it by obeying.  This will probably involve practicing unselfishness or it will likely involve putting trust into practice and letting go of control.   The problem is it’s not easy for us to see ourselves.  Our pride is always there to interfere!  It takes obeying God first, then the understanding comes!   That’s why the Christian life is called a life of faith!!!

This is also why it’s important to confess details when we want to have a personal relationship with God, and not give in to a blanket big picture confession.   We are clearing up relationship offenses one by one.  This works.

When we know there is nothing left between us and God, that open and transparent relationship is so wonderful we don’t want anything to ever come between us and God again.    That’s what gave me strength to face my own pain and failures.   It was a matter of obedience to God.  God would speak to my heart, “You have to be honest with John about your hurt feelings before you go to bed.”   Change happened because I wanted to be in relationship with God more than I wanted to protect my emotions!  My procrastination would put it off and put it off until the last minute.  There were a couple of times I even woke John up.  “Do you remember…..?  That really hurt my feelings…”   “What?!  What are you talking about?!”   But God helped us.  I talked and he listened.  Neither of those reactions came naturally to us—that was the grace of God working in us!!!   God’s grace is there waiting for every one of us!

Obeying God one step at a time even though it meant feeling a lot of negative feelings brought me to the sure knowledge that God my Father cares about my feelings, unlike some of my male role models from childhood.    God never tired of me.  He never told me I was foolish for feeling the way I did.  None of my unbearably painful emotions ever overwhelmed Him!   God didn’t stop my pain…but He walked with me through it!

A clear conscience is a gift from God!!   It leads to closeness with people and with God.

It’s true I’ve been thinking primarily of marriage relationships, but I believe these principles are also true for parent/older child relationships, adult siblings, friendships, church relationships, office relationships, etc.     For those behind me…start out now practicing honesty and openness in your relationships.  Intentionally and consistently learn what is true about relationships!!  Keep the little foxes out of your vineyard!   The more both of you practice this, the easier it is to recognize the bricks for what they are and to do what it takes to remove them.

Remember: 

Verbal extroverts, as maturing adults, often need to go back and un-say or un-do what’s been said or done.  

Quiet introverts, as maturing adults, usually need to go back and say or do what’s been unsaid or undone!  

Take care of the details…. “Don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath” from hurt feelings on either side that come from offenses, disrespect, boundary violations, etc. …. and the big picture will take care of itself!

 

 

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Filed under A redeeming God, Growing up, Handling conflict, Maturity, Relationship principles, Ways to bond