Tag Archives: Anger

Forgiveness

What should we do when people to whom we have given our trust betray that trust?

Should we be angry and refuse to trust those people again?

What if our car breaks down, causing us great frustration and inconvenience? Do we not take the proper steps to fix it so we can drive it again? If we can’t get it fixed…..do we never drive a car again because it might break down? Will our anger from that instance of failure  continue to cause us frustration by keeping us from wanting to have another car? Will that anger make us feel any better as we walk everywhere?

We may be justified in not trusting a car again, but does that really solve the issue at hand or just make us feel more justified in our anger?

Could it be possible that the person who let us down is really a good person, but made a mistake unintentionally? If so, wouldn’t we be hurting ourselves if we refused to trust that someone again? After all, we must have thought they were good people before they made a mistake, so isn’t there a chance that they are still a good person?

It would seem that the best way to solve an issue, would be to first let the anger and disappointment of that situation go….

We need to ask ourselves.……is the reason we are having a difficult time forgiving someone the result of not being able to come to terms with the issue at hand? It seems that if we are able to free ourselves of these negative emotions and first solve the situation, then it really wouldn’t be that hard to forgive the person or persons involved….

If we refuse to forgive and never trust a person again, are we possibly robbing ourselves of real growth? Could it be that the solution to solving a particular issue lies with the very person we refuse to forgive?

If you made a mistake, would you want your friends to give up on you?

Seems that is what forgiveness is all about….

God forgave you didn’t he?

 

Baggage

“Life is largely a matter of luggage.” -Frank Boreham, The Luggage of life

I’m always amazed at how much we are willing to carry with us that is completely unnecessary.

We are masters at gathering baggage.

The burden of the load slows our journey, distracts our minds and confuses our relationships.

John Bunyan wrote about baggage in his work Pilgrim’s Progress.

George Carlin talked about it in a comedy routine.

No matter who we are we find a way to carry our lives around with us. Often it’s emotional baggage we have accumulated over the years. Unforgiveness. Anger. Hurts. Old memories of wrongs done. Pain. And the list could continue for pages. But have you noticed that it’s always the negatives that become baggage? It’s all the hurts of life that weigh us down. The pain that handicaps us.

The good that God intended has no weight at all.  Joy is light as a feather. Happiness lifts us up rather than weighing us down. Peace carries its own load and helps us along the way. Kindness refreshes the weary traveler. Love makes the impossible possible once more. Mercy energizes. Grace empowers. The things God wants us to put in our backpacks help us on the way and have no weight to load us down. It’s only when we carry the results of sin that the weight and struggles begin.

That’s the invitation Jesus extended. “Come unto me….” It’s found in Matthew 11-12 if you want to read it. His invitation is to make the journey without all the baggage of the world in tow. When will we realize that this journey was meant to be a wonderful adventure with God instead of a grueling journey to be endured? When will we get rid of all that weighs us down and pick up the things that make the journey a joy?

I wonder sometimes about our fascination with baggage. It’s as if we have to hold onto something. I even see it in death. We are so reluctant to let go of this life. We want to hold onto all the junk we have accumulated, but find in the end that it’s just that….junk. I wonder if we will ever realize we have become a race of junk collectors….glad to carry the burdens of our trash instead of enjoying the blessings God provides.

How Love & Respect Impact our Marriage

Love & RespectThe tears slid silently down her cheeks, dampening the pillow.  Anger covering deep hurt dispersed sleep. The twenty-one years of her life dedicated to marriage and family seemed empty and wasted.  After all, what did she have to show for any of it?  Sure, her children loved her, but they were nearly on their own, and the dream of modeling a marriage that worked, was almost over.  Criticism met many of her comments and opinions. Gone were the days of open discussion, as arguments found their voice instigated by his harsh disagreement. She kept her thoughts more and more to herself. She had read all the books, gone to all the workshops, seen a therapist, done couples counseling, and her husband still remained distant.

Meanwhile, her husband sat at the computer in his home office. He noticed tonight when she went up to bed without saying a word to him again.  He noticed when she ignored his return from work.  He wondered about their upcoming anniversary date.  What was there to celebrate?  Sure, the marriage had survived, but their friendship was gone.  It had been months since they’d had sex.  He had tried, but she put him off. She seemed disinterested in the events he still loved and she used to enjoy.  His companions to art galleries and plays had become his children – who would go with him when they left the nest?  Weary of asking her to accompany him and face an eye roll and rejection again, he wondered about the anniversary date.  Feeling helpless, he sent her an email, suggesting she pick a restaurant.

Many relationships trudging down the path to divorce court and the others that somehow cling together still suffer a myriad of problems.  The marriages that do not terminate seem destined to trudge along with both people existing as roommates with separate lives, the hope of a deeply intimate relationship with their life partner all but gone.  Unfortunately, the downward spiral is inevitable to most couples.  Most relationships suffer conflict and stress, but with both spouses lacking in conflict-resolution skills, unresolved hurts are often left to fester, eventually erupting into damaging arguments, leaving scars upon both people.  Our culture handles conflict poorly, either by avoiding it, or engaging in it in unhealthy ways.  In our mission of helping wives facilitate relationship changes, we help couples reconnect and create healthier habits of interacting and working through conflict.  We also see women as uniquely gifted at relationships due to their biological composition. Brain research has long indicated that women are more wired for relationship creation and maintenance than men are (at least in general, due to the bonding hormone, oxytocin), so we help wives learn how to positively impact their marriages by tapping into these strengths.

We see marriages start to turn around when wives learn to speak love to their husband via the language of respect.  We see focusing on his very specific wants and needs through the vehicle of healthy communication begins positive change within marriage because one woman’s husband may be different from another’s.  After a wife worked to lay the ground work, we have found that most husbands are then in a place where they can more easily hear their own particular wife’s wants and needs for love and respect the way that she best experiences them and at the frequency she needs to hear them.  One of the major differences between the genders seems to be the frequency of reinforcement of the relationship – most women respond more positively to daily or near daily small demonstration of love from their husband, but many men seem to need reinforcement very infrequently. It appears that the old joke where the husband tells the wife, “I told you I loved you on our wedding day and if anything changes, I’ll let you know!” is based on truth – at least for a majority of men.  Unfortunately, that level of frequency often does not bode well from the wife’s perspective. But when a wife communicates love and respect in a way her husband can more readily experience it, he is also typically more motivated to be a better husband.  Many times, both spouses actually feel love and respect toward the other, but lack in their ability to communicate it the way their particular spouse hears it.  In a 2012 study, the University of Texas at Austin researched whether men and women show love differently in marriage.  What was interesting about their findings, is that in an effort to change the marriage, women reacted in a way consistent with how they typically like to receive affection.   The wives expressed love by communicating with fewer negative or antagonistic behaviors, and the husbands showed love by initiating sex, sharing leisure activities, and doing household work together with their wives.[1]

The simplest and most effective advice with regard to changing one’s own marriage is to once again, start doing the things you did early in your marriage with your husband.  The activities you did together at the beginning of the relationship do much in bringing couples back together.  Maybe you took a dance or dog-training class, or built a closet or a room addition, or put in a garden. The same principle applies to men, who need to refrain from negative and antagonistic behaviors, but if he does not naturally, which he probably won’t, a wife should ask for what she wants by specifically telling her husband what makes her feel loved.  Give him some time to figure things out while you keep speaking to him in the language he hears.  There’s also research by analyst Shaunti Feldhahn that points out that most men would rather feel unloved than disrespected. Know too, that when he is feeling disrespected, he is not going to naturally want to move towards you relationally.  In other words, get the respect piece right, then ask for what you want. It is a simple method that surprisingly enough, works for many marriages in turning things around to a more loving and respectful relationship.

older coupleWe encourage a few simple behaviors for wives who want to take their marriage up a notch or two, or want to turn their marriage around. These small behavior changes, when done in order, can dramatically impact the relationship:

  1. Remind yourself why you married him in the first place, creating a positive place in your own heart from which to start.
  2. Ask him what his favorite things are (that you did together) from the early days of your marriage – then set up a time to do those (or similar) things again, if he is interested in doing them.  If his interests have changed, do something new at his suggestion.
  3. Initiate sex every couple of days – and if he responds to you by saying or doing something loving, put your hand on his shoulder and tell him how much you appreciate what he said/did and then initiate sex or flirt for later if the kids are around.
  4. Ditch the negative behaviors that communicate disrespect like the eye roll, exasperated sigh, etc. An entire list is available here on The Respect Dare blog.
  5. Ask him specifically what makes him feel loved – then do that.
  6. Ask him for what you want (affection, dates, physical touch outside of sex, cleaning up after dinner, etc.), if he hasn’t started these things already.  When he does what speaks to you, initiate sex again. Most men will respond positively to the above six steps.  Just keep repeating through them.
  7. If your husband is extremely analytical, he may struggle more than most men in showing affection.  You may perceive this as his refusal to do things that you want, but understand that he might not know how and gently let him know it hurts you.  If your tears have an effect on him, cry.  If he cannot hear that, send him a brief text message. Do not initiate sex, and when he pursues you, say something like, “I’m really struggling with sharing this part of me with you when you hurt me like you did.  I just can’t get my head or heart into this until you treat me better.” Know that if you start here, however, without learning to lovingly communicate when you are confronting, and when he doesn’t feel respected by you in the first place, you’ll just add difficulty and potentially more damage to your relationship.
  8. If he still refuses to change, stop scheduling time with him to do leisure activities for a while, and make an appointment with an older couple he deeply respects who has a good marriage.  Share your frustrations with this man and his wife, and ask them to be part of a confrontation with your husband about his behavior.  If you attend church or his parents or your parents do, they or a counselor may be good choices for this discussion.  This should also be done with your heart in a place of love towards him, otherwise, he will view it as a personal attack and become defensive.  Often, if #7 has done in a truly loving way, this step will be unnecessary.  Prior to doing this, you should also let him know that this is what you are considering.  There is a difference between manipulation and a loving confrontation about someone else’s damaging behavior.  You can’t treat him like a child, either, or this will not have positive results.
  9. Be on the lookout for loving behavior by him – and initiate sex or physical contact when you see it.  Men often experience connection through physical intimacy, so positively reinforcing what you want more of in this way is not manipulative, but rather encouraging, unless your heart is in a place of trying to control him, instead of trying to improve both of your experiences of your marriage.

This is a long and difficult process and many books have been written on the subject.  Know that your husband is not your enemy, and that both of you can benefit from learning how to work through these difficulties.  Concerted effort is not enough to turn a marriage around, however, effort on the most impactful activities makes all the difference in the world.

 

 

Nina R

Nina Roesner is the author of The Respect Dare, recently released by Thomas Nelson. It is a book that is best described as an experience that connects women deeply to God and their husband through the application of respect.  She is the executive director of Greater Impact, a training organization which equips men and women of faith in relationship skills and public speaking abilities.

 

 



[1] Elizabeth Schoenfeld’s work, “Do Men and Women Show Love Differently in Marriage?” appeared in the November 2012 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Becoming Animals

It’s interesting living in the culture we do.

In this post-modern culture, or whatever it’s called now,  there is a wholesale abandonment  of belief in God.  At university level the statistics say that 70% or more of Christian kids will abandon their faith and become agnostic or atheist.

The culture at large is moving away from a belief in God as well.  Around us is a culture proud of its ability to function without God.  They even claim to be moral without God (but that discussion is for another day).

What’s the price for these choices? What does it cost a man to turn his back on God?  Or course you might expect me to say it costs him salvation, and that is true, but there is another price that most don’t realize they pay- they lose their role as image bearers.

The bible says we were made in the image of God, but when we deny him, refuse to believe in him, to follow him, we forsake the very thing we were designed to be- image bearers of God.

As a result we often choose to bear the image of the only thing left, the animal world around us.  I think this is why movies like the Twilight series are so popular.  Men and women becoming vampires and werewolves gives them an image to reflect, an identity….the image of animals.  

This comes out as well in a new TV series titled GRIMM.  In this series a police officer is chasing people who look completely normal, but are really animals under the skin.  When we deny our role as image bearers of God we usually imitate what we see around us.

Romans 1 talks of this, but not in exactly the same way I am here.  It’s clear we were designed to reflect God, to bear his image.  When we refuse our identity we will reflect something, what will that be?

Some wonder why the world around us is becoming so violent, why anger, killing, and war seems to be growing.  In part it’s because we have decided to abandon our calling as image bearers of God and the results are what we see in our world today…men acting like animals.

When you turn your back on God you lose much more than you would imagine.  You lose the God who made you, you lose the promise of life, you lose peace (that’s another post as well) and you lose sight of what you were designed to be, you lose your identity.

The price is much higher than we even know, but when we deny God we also deny being made in his image and choose a lower image. We choose to become men without souls, without a purpose, without a moral compass, without hope.  We become animals.

 

Visit Mike at FinishingWell.
 
 

Living On A Twisted Planet

One of my favorite books is a poorly written fiction by Harold Myra titled “Escape from the twisted planet.” It’s a fascinating picture of life on a twisted planet and what it might be like on planets where sin never happened. The reason I love the book is the visions it paints of what life might be like without sin’s pervasive influence and destroying impact. All around us, like fish in water, sin pervades all we know, all we experience. It would be difficult to imagine life without the destructive nature of sin in us and in the world around us.

If we eliminated all the jobs that deal with sin and its impact on the culture most of us would be out of work! We are used to it all, but just imagine what it would be like without all that sin has done- no prisons, no police, no hospitals, no doctors, no nurses, no congress to make laws, no courts to enforce them, no traffic signs, no fear, no anger, no jealousy, no hurts emotionally or physically, and on goes the list. If we were to make a complete list of what sin has done to us it would be much longer than you could possibly imagine! Living on a twisted planet is difficult, but it’s all we know.

Go with me for moment to a place where sin has not touched its inhabitants. It’s hard because we can’t imagine such a place, but let’s take a moment and travel to a planet that sin has not affected. The people there have no worries, no one is there to hurt them, steal from them, or reject them. There’s no fear, no pain, no jealousy, no peer pressure, none of the things that are woven into our very natures on this world. It’s hard to imagine because, like those fish, we can’t conceive of a place without water, or a world without sin’s pervasive influence.

Sin has been much more destructive to us as humans than we could possibly imagine. Even as a Christian the pull of sin in my life is still strong. I constantly battle with sin’s influence and invitation.

Paul tells us that we, as Christians, are citizens of another kingdom. A kingdom sin has not touched, a world as God designed it in the beginning…..perfect. When I use the word perfect what I mean is a place that has not been twisted by the work on sin. It’s a kingdom coming soon, a country on the horizon that promises and provides joy, peace, happiness, compassion, kindness, caring, community like you have never known. It’s a kingdom we all long for, a place apart from the twisted planet that has left us bankrupt because of sin’s work on our little broken world. It’s a kingdom I’m thrilled to be a citizen of and can’t wait to see. Soon we will escape from this twisted planet and discover what life was meant to be. I look forward to the day when this twisted planet is set right by God’s return to claim his people and his planet. As John writes at the end of the book of Revelation, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come!”

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Dealing With Me

My biggest problem is not my work, other people around me or even the struggles I face. My biggest problem is ME! I live in a world of people all struggling, for the most part, with themselves. It’s all these struggling people clashing together that creates the problems we see around us.

Unless I can deal with the me I see in the mirror I can never work though my issues with you. Paul the apostle knew this struggle himself, we all understand the struggle, but he actually articulated his own battle. Here are a few of his thoughts,

“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”

My biggest problem is ME! I hate that. I want to please God, I want to be who he designed me to be. I want to live as he designed me, but something keeps pulling me down to the base person I was when I first met him. That “me” that causes all my problems, all my anger, my sinful thoughts, my frustrations, irritations, my resentments. All the things that come from that “me”…..is not the me God wants me to be. He has created in me a new man, and yet I so easily fall back to that old man. It’s so frustrating. I hate it! I so understand Paul’s words and struggles. So do you, don’t you? We all live with this tug of sin pulling at our hearts, minds and affections, but it’s not the end of the story. There is a solution that Paul mentions at the end of his thoughts in this passage. Here’s his conclusion,

“Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

The truth is that my sinful nature will never improve. I have to deal with that and “walk in the Spirit,” the new man God created when I trusted him. My old man, the old me, always wants its way…that won’t change…it’s my reality. It’s yours too. My challenge is to choose to walk in his Spirit and not as the “me” who wants his way. Today I’m struggling with me. Frustrated by the man in my mirror, but I know God has provided a better way.

My next step today is to walk in that new way and thank God for his forgiveness and grace.

This struggle will be ours until we finish this life. It’s part of the curse, but the hope we have is the Spirit of God in us that gives us the opportunity to live in a new “me” that pleases God. I remember the story of a young man asking his grandfather when the passions of life ebb. The old saint paused for a moment and then, with 85 years of wisdom, responded, “I don’t know, but if they ever do I’ll let you know.”

Dealing with “me” is my struggle for the day. Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Suicide Bombers

You read about them daily in the news. They cause fear and devastation when they strike. Their tactics change lives forever, including their own. They are called suicide bombers.

It’s a recent term to describe a growing trend…people willing to destroy themselves to hurt others. Their beliefs are so strong that they are willing to give their own lives for their cause. They are called suicide bombers.

All around me are people I call by the same name. They are people who would never see themselves in this way, but they are…like the suicide bomber….willing to destroy themselves in their attempt to hurt and destroy their marriage, their mate and others. I call them suicide bombers.

They would tell me “I just want to be happy” and so they justify the decisions they make. In the process they destroy their home, their family and unknown to them they destroy themselves. I call them suicide bombers.

They look normal enough to those around them. They don’t have bombs strapped to their waist, but they are on a mission to destroy and they do. What they don’t realize is they will be part of the destruction that results. I call them suicide bombers.

In their attempt to control, cause fear, change their situation, rule another person they actually destroy their own life.

I got a call this morning about a suicide bomber in our midst. The story I heard would be funny if it weren’t so sad. In a rage a wife made a horrible choice and drove her car over her husband’s motorcycle….THREE TIMES! I call her a suicide bomber.

In her anger and rage at her husband, she destroyed her marriage, his motorcycle, and her own life as well. She may not realize it yet, but the one that was hurt the most was her.

She wouldn’t trust God to work, she wouldn’t wait for his timing, so she dealt with thisherself! Whatever her thoughts or motives she blew up her own life and destroyed everything around her.

How different is this from those with the real bombs around their waist? Their goal is to hurt, destroy and cause fear at the price of their own life.

The result? Chaos, destruction, hurt, death of marriages, homes demolished, lives in shambles. Who would be willing to do such things?

There is a certain insanity that comes with being a suicide bomber….whether you use explosives or your car, a car bomb or a divorce attorney, bullets or an affair the results are the same, lives are destroyed, homes are demolished, families blown up, lives forever changed. Most of all yours.

Suicide bombers don’t always need explosives to accomplish their task. Sometimes it’s as simple as sin having its way in a life. Always, in every case, destruction will follow. And the one hurt the worst? The suicide bomber himself.

Romans 6:21What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Public vs. Private

This morning I read an article by an atheist writer. I like to read his thoughts because he makes me think. Of course I have to sort through the anger, harsh words and bitterness that comes from his past, but he has a lot to say. This morning his topic was public prayer. His arguments were compelling to argue that we should not be busy about public prayer, but pray privately. So, I began to think about the broader picture. What about me should be public? What should be private? Should all of my life be lived for the public square or should some of my life of faith be private for only God to see?

Those questions began to rumble about in me this morning after a time of rest from the long trip to Kenya and back. We all live in cultures where we become numb to the cultural nuances of our faith lived in a society. Not everything we believe is correct. Not everything we do is right, so how should I live? What about me should be private? What should the world see? Continue reading Public vs. Private