Monday, March 2, 2015

More Vision

More on "The Vision for Your Marriage"

I look back to my pre-marriage thoughts, well, at least what I can remember from so long ago, and realize I had many factors that distorted a healthy vision for my future marriage.  My father left my mother for the other woman when I was sixteen.  My brother stayed with my father, and they moved to another state.  I only saw them once or twice a year after that.  Any positive thoughts I had about marriage and family were crushed at this time.  In fact, I didn't think I wanted to ever get married.

And then I met Rick.  My Superman swept me off my feet and changed my thoughts about marriage, delusional though they may have been.  In looking back, I believe I had a huge desire for stability in a family since mine had been shattered.  Rick was the most stable, solid man I'd ever met, and he turned my fear of getting married into hope.  He was totally different from the men I'd dated in the past, and I believe God led me to Rick despite my lack of interest in His plan for my life.

My idea for marriage was the perfect family, like the kind you see on television or in the movies.  I can still envision that camera shot zooming into the Christmas light-trimmed window with snow softly falling.  The view inside consists of a loving family - a mother, father, grandparents, children.  All are smiling and talking with no conflict or anger in the air.  They look at each other adoringly as they sing Christmas carols at the piano or share a meal around the table.  That was what I thought marriage should be.

I only knew the dysfunction in marriage, though, learned through my parents, and I carried that corrupted vision into my own marriage.  I didn't know how to maintain the fairy-tale dream I longed for.  
Because my vision for my marriage was not based on anything real or in accordance with the Word of God, I almost destroyed the best thing that ever happened to me - my relationship with my husband. 

So what should our vision for marriage be?  If it's not the big house in the country, the white picket fence and the 2.5 children, then what is it?

I want to look at a few areas in the Bible that deal with marriage and compare them with some worldly ideas that contradict the word of God.  This is where we get disillusioned with how marriage should look and what our vision for it should be.  Because we are so inundated with the ways of the world, we need to know the Word of God to help keep our marriages strong and see a true vision for them. 

Men and women are very different from each other and have specific roles that God designed for each of us.  

First off, in the second chapter of Genesis, the Lord God says, "It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him."  Right away we see that God intended women to be a helper to their spouse.  The world has definite ideas these days about women being a helpmate.  I would say the message the world sends is "you take care of your stuff and let him take care of his stuff".  This contradicts God's words and our nature as women.

God made women to be nurturers and to take care of our husbands and family.  He didn't just command us to "do that"; He made us to WANT to do that.  It's how we show our love and respect.  It's not a sin or terrible thing to pick up after your husband or make lunch for him even though the world may look down at you.  If it is a personal struggle for you to do so, that desire to nurture your husband may be buried among abuse and dysfunction if you come from that environment.

I watch my daughter and daughter-in-law, both independent, self-sufficient, modern women.  They both love to wait on their significant other.  It comes naturally; it's what they want to do.  A worldly attitude can quickly sour that natural desire and turn it into conflict, though.

Have you noticed that regardless of how the world tells us men and women should be "the same", the women usually congregate in the kitchen and the men in front of the television 
during gatherings and parties?

Stay tuned as I dig even deeper into the roles we play that affect our marriages and vision for our marriages.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Disabling God

As I prepared to post this, I was reminded that I planned to continue with  The Vision for Your Marriage.  I will go back to that next week as I feel compelled to share this article with you.

Okay, I know I promised to stick with marriage talk, but I can’t ignore the affect that nutrition has on our lives and our relationships.  It’s become a great passion of mine, so bear with me – it can also affect your marriage relationship.    

I have mentioned before about the evil of sugar to my system.  It causes depression in me.  I usually stay away from it, but when I’m out of my routine, around company and friends, or away for a few days, I sometimes succumb to the lure of that sweet poison.  A little bit will not usually bother me, but it’s abstaining from that ‘just one more’ that I find difficult.  Sugar is a drug to me, and I am an addict.  One bite and I am hooked.

Last week I had a few days of my ‘funk’-- sugar induced from a week of family visiting.  I am not the best person to be around during those days, at least for my husband.  I can usually hide it very well from outsiders but can’t seem to function inside the confines of my home.  I lose all motivation and can’t get anything done.  I feel overwhelmed and unable to perform all the work I should be doing.  I don’t particularly want to be around people, and I find fault in everything Rick does.  I blame him, too, for any difficult circumstance that I struggle with.

After the fog lifted, I thought about all the people in the world who suffer from depression and are prescribed mind-altering drugs to help their moods.  All the while, it may likely be from the food they eat – sugar being the main culprit. (Too much of some other foods will do this to me, also.)  Meanwhile, all the people taking drugs for depression then have to deal with side effects and never get to the core of their problems.  They fall into a vicious cycle of dealing with depression that rarely ends.  If this could be you, please consider the role too much sugar or any other foods might be playing in your life.

I then pondered why God allows me to wallow in this pit of despair and loathing when I desperately cry out to Him for help.  More than anything, though, I felt disappointed, as I always do whenever I come out of one of these funks. Disappointed that I’m not faithful enough to stay strong and overcome it.

And then God started showing me the truth of the matter.  It has nothing to do with faith or lack of it.  I know what sugar does to me, but yet, I made the CHOICE to indulge in its temptation.  The desires of my flesh overtook the reality of what it does to me.  I am no different than an alcoholic, or drug addict, or gambler, or anyone with an issue that rules their flesh.

When we make the choice to indulge in things that we know are not good for us, we are disabling God from helping us through the consequences.  Why would He pull me out of the depths of self-pity when I let go of His hand and jumped in the miry pit -- by choice?

Why would God heal a drug addict or alcoholic from the hangovers or relationship destroying behavior when they continue to coddle the bottle or the pills?

I think about obese people going to the altar and crying out to God to heal them of their diabetes, or cancer, or heart issues.  They have disabled His help.  They have made the choice to indulge in the fleshly desire of eating to the point of gluttony. 

God won’t help us as long as we continue to turn to our fleshly desires instead of Him.  He will help us overcome those desires, but we cross the line when we expect Him to heal us of the consequences of our disobedience.

How many of our struggles are caused by consequences of our disobedience?

We certainly carry this attitude into our marriages.  We may be asking God to change our spouse, help them to act more loving, or show them how to control their tongue.  But what are we doing that may be causing these consequences of our own actions and words?  We may be disabling God to help us in our marriage because we are indulging in the fleshly desire of self.  

When our marriage is all about “me, me, me” and not about putting our spouses needs ahead of our own, we are choosing to not follow the will of God for our marriage.  We are choosing to indulge in our selfish desires.  God will not help us until we make the choice to follow His plan for our lives and become obedient to Him and His Word.

Have you been stuck in a situation where you feel like God is not there for you?  Is your marriage in a rut you can’t seem to get out of?  Take time to look at the cause of your issues.  Is there sin involved or disobedience to God?  If so, it may be time to change your behavior or your thinking and let go of that which pulls you away from the God who created you.  In His eyes – that is the ultimate sin, and He rarely brings consequential healing to it.

Proverbs 3:1-3 “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.  Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name…vs. 7-8 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.  This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Vision for Your Marriage

My new book, GPS to a Joyful Marriage is finally out.  You can purchase it from this site or get one personally from me.  This is a small, easy reading book that shares biblical truths about what marriage should be.  It comes from the information Rick and I have identified, in over twenty years of marriage ministry, as the common causes of marital conflict.  We then applied the Biblical principles that help couples navigate down the road to a Joyful Marriage.

Most women, as little girls and teenagers, even adults, visualized about the biggest day of our lives – our wedding day.  We tried to imagine what that day would be like and dreamed about it for years.  My friends and I continuously held pretend weddings in my backyard when I was a child.  Usually, I wrapped myself in a soggy beach towel to symbolize my make-believe wedding dress (we had a swimming pool and lived in bathing suits all summer.)  There was always a handsome prince waiting at the end of the aisle to sweep me off into happily-ever-after.  The end.  And that’s where the vision usually ends.

Most couples do not think past the point of the wedding day; they are so busy preparing for the greatest event of their lifetime – and then afterwards, the shock of reality sets in.  No wonder there is so much divorce in our world.  We have a naive expectation that we will always live in this pre-marriage state of euphoria, when that stage is just a hook to get us into the substance of marriage.
These days, fifty percent of couples will bail out before they even experience the true joy that marriage can bring.

I was just as guilty, maybe worse.  When my husband and I met, he was dressed as Super Man and my nickname was Wonder Woman.  We really thought we were invincible and would never have any problems and certainly didn’t need God.  Seven years and two children later, we almost divorced.

When entering into holy matrimony, most couples don’t see past the “I- just- want- to- spend- my- life- with- you” romantic stage.  They don’t realize the sacrifices and adjustments and changes necessary to achieve a healthy marriage that will last the rest of their lives. 

What is it all about, this marriage thing?  That’s what you have to figure out.  What do you want out of marriage? What do you expect? What is your vision for your own marriage?  How do you even figure that out? 

First of all, you must decide if you want a worldly marriage or a Godly marriage.  The world tells us something completely opposite of what the Bible tells us about marriage, and we are inundated with ideas, many not so virtuous, about what marriage should be.  Not to mention, we’ve become very selfish in our society and especially in our marriages, even Christian marriages.  The minute one person is not feeling the love, they are ready to call it quits and give up on their marriage. Many gauge their marriage success on what makes them happy.

What we know most about marriage we learn from our parents, our main role models, and most of us come from either broken or dysfunctional families.  How do we know what marriage should be like if we’ve never experienced a healthy marriage relationship in our own families?

How do we figure it out?  For a Godly marriage, we go to God’s word.  A healthy, Godly marriage, as God intended for us, is clearly defined in the Bible.  Stay tuned for my next posting as I begin to compare what the world says about marriage to what the Bible tells us.

This week, think about what the vision for your marriage might be.