Monday, April 27, 2015

Wifi War

I am deeply concerned about the effects of electronic devices on this generation.  Although even baby boomers have been sucked into the spell of smartphones, tablets, Ipads and laptops, it’s the millennials that seem to have permanently attached themselves to these gadgets - much as they did as babies with their pacifiers.  A temporary separation causes panic and stress.  This epidemic, I’m afraid, is destroying relationships, particularly marriages.

It saddens me to go out to dinner and notice all the people engrossed in their phones while missing out on needed conversation with whoever sits across from them.  Isn't that why we go out to dinner?  To have time to talk without interruption?  Conversation is the key to any successful relationship.  Without it, that relationship will die.  Rick and I went to Red Lobster in the middle of the afternoon last week and noticed that nobody was rudely playing with their phone.  Then we quickly realized that we were probably the youngest people there (Rick is 62 – I am 57).  What will happen in 30 something years when most of the baby boomers and older are gone?  Will we even know how to converse with one another?

As I talk to young wives and mothers, I hear the same complaint over and over.  “My husband comes home and is glued to his phone/Ipad/computer all evening.  He gets angry when I suggest that he turn it off and spend some time with the kids and me.  He does little to help.”

This is a huge bone of contention between couples.  It almost destroyed my marriage when my children were very young, and that was over 25 years ago when we only had computers to deal with.  Rick was in an unsatisfying job and needed an outlet when he got home.  Since he could only focus on one thing at a time, he poured himself either into computer games or television.  An atomic bomb would not have broken his focus.  If I tried to talk to him, it was like pulling the needle out of the arm of a junkie before he got his fix.  He responded with anger.

After a couple years of feeling completely neglected and then the sudden death of my father, I turned to another man for comfort.  God got my attention, though, when I contemplated leaving Rick.  Thanks to the grace of God, we stayed together and worked it out.

Now I have to be honest, there are still times that Rick is seduced by the idea of winning victories over other warriors and gets stuck in a war game on his Ipad.  After all, that’s what he did as a fighter pilot in the Air Force all those years.  I get it.  I have moments that I long to perform on stage again and might resort to neglecting my family for that high.  

The problem is that most men don’t know when to quit.   Because they can usually only focus on one thing at a time, they become lost in whatever they are doing and have difficulty pulling away.   Women, on the other hand, are so busy doing everything with their multi-tasking skills.  We are aware of all that goes on around us.  We have to be, or the kids and animals would destroy the house.

So what do we do?  We women need to learn how to approach our husbands, while they are playing  in cyberspace, and get their attention without stirring the junkie who only wants more.  Men, on the other hand, need to understand how harmful this can be to their marriage relationship and make the effort to implement change.  We all have to learn to compromise.  Stay tuned as I discuss how to do this.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Staying Convicted

I’m still touched about the story of the silversmith (my last blog post). In hindsight, when you look back at a difficult situation you’ve been through (a fire experience), it all makes sense. You clearly see the goal God intended for you. But going through it - that’s another story!

When I think of living in the midst of a “fire“, it occurs to me how difficult it really is to see the hand of God in the situation. Yes, we know He’s watching us, He’s helping us, but it doesn’t always FEEL that way. I know He’s always perfecting us, but sometimes I just don’t FEEL like any more perfection! That’s where we get in trouble. We allow our feelings to be our guide. They often cloud our focus on God.

It’s hard not to, especially for us women who are emotionally driven. Those darn emotions tend to get in the way of everything! I sometimes envy my husband. Life seems so simple and uncomplicated to him. He makes a decision and that’s it. Not me. I’m going to think about it and pray about it and think about it some more, then probably think about it again a month later, wondering if I’d made the right decision. 

It’s the emotions that complicate the decision making process for me. On top of that are these hormones that are constantly tap-dancing on my brain.  So how do we control these emotions when we are in the midst of a fire and feel like God is thousands of miles away?

We go to God’s word. It is chocked full of stories of people like you and me trying to live life like you and me. (I sometimes think their lives were much easier. Have you ever noticed how we have all these amazing time-saving devices, but yet we seem to have less time?)

I think about Peter getting out of the boat during the storm to walk to Jesus. There was Jesus standing right before him with outstretched arms. I would like to think I’d have run to his open arms with no thought about the water. But what does Peter do? He focuses on the stormy waters and begins to sink. Jesus has to pull him up and remind Peter that He is there and everything will be okay.

That’s what we need to do when we are going through the fire or storms in our life - stay focused on Jesus. Don’t look at the storm. Spend more time in His word. Spend more time in prayer. Spend more time with Him. Stop thinking about your feelings.

We need to be convicted of our relationship with God, regardless of the circumstances we may experience. Unfortunately, we often get stuck in the storm or fire because we haven’t spent enough time with Him, causing our lives to become chaotic as we live in our feelings, often lengthening the process.

It’s the same with our marriage relationship. No matter what, we need to stay convicted. Feelings may come and feelings may go, but we can’t base our choices on a fleeting emotion that often leads us astray. Make the decision that you will stand your ground, stay in the fire, walk in the storm for the sake of your marriage. No matter what you may feel, you will not abandon the person you married. (If there is abuse involved, though, staying is not always the best option.)

You need to make that decision BEFORE the fire gets hot so you won’t second guess yourself in the middle of it. That is God’s desire for your marriage and He WILL bless you for persevering. He has some amazing plans for your marriage that involve purifying your soul to make you the person He needs to fulfill those plans. Don’t take the chance of missing out on the best thing God might ever do for you!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Conviction Through the Fire

Honoring our marriage vows and convictions made to God will ultimately bring blessings from Him.  At some point though, we all experience “the fires of refinement”. Those are the difficult times in marriage. Many precious metals and silvers are refined in fire to remove the bad stuff in order to be made perfect.  Every couple goes through “the
fire” or a “make or break” time in their marriage - to get rid of the bad stuff to bring refinement. How you handle the fire determines the future of your marriage.

Sadly, in these days of rampant divorce, over half of married couples jump out of the fire without resolving their problems, unwilling to bear the heat. As people who choose divorce quickly discover, the fire only heats up when divorce procedures begin and rarely goes completely out, especially when children are involved, leaving little chance for resolve or resurrection.

Withstanding the fire leads to a new understanding and a better relationship with greater love for your spouse. It builds character and turns us into the people God intends us to be.

Only then do we appreciate the true meaning of “til death do us part.” Only then will we understand the meaning of conviction to our marriage. Only then will we understand how we can spend the rest of our lives with someone who may have imperfections or habits that sometimes drive us crazy. When you love your spouse as God intended and are convicted to your marriage, those little things don’t matter. They may actually endear you to your spouse at some point.

I look at my husband sleeping at his chair in front of his computer screen. Sure, he does things that aggravate me but only for a moment. A second glance reminds me of his commitment to me, his conviction to our marriage. I know he would fight a group of terrorists for me. He would save my honor at the expense of his own life. He would do anything for me.  He will always be there for me. He is the ultimate Godly husband. That is what I focus on.

I urge you to stand firm on your conviction to your marriage, especially as you experience the fire…together. Hold hands and don’t let go.

Below is a beautiful story of a silversmith:

A group of women in a Bible Study struggled with the verse, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” (Malachi 3:3.) One of the women sought the expertise of a silversmith to discover its true meaning.

She watched him carefully heat up the silver. It needed to burn in the hottest part of the flames to be purified. During the entire procedure of refining, the eyes of the refiner never left the silver. He said that if you kept the silver in the flame a second too long, it would destroy it, that’s why he had to watch it so carefully. When asked how he knew when it was completed he replied, “That’s easy. When I see my reflection in the silver I know it’s done.”

So you see, God has His eyes on us constantly through the purifying fires we go through in our lives. He never takes them off us. He’s always there. Only when He sees His reflection in us is the refining completed.  Don't jump out of the fire before He has finished His good work in you and in your marriage!