Droughts will happen, but you can take these few simple steps to becoming a marriage that withstands the drought. It will rain again… sometime. But until it does, AVOID ISOLATION, CHECK YOUR SOIL (HEART), FERTILIZE, and WATER DEEPLY.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 Youused to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.Or Galatians 5…19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Why are people so mean to each other, especially their spouses?
I think we forget who we really are… in Christ. We return to our old way of feeling, thinking and behaving that might have had some kind of success in the past but it now is destroying what we want most. As Christians, it is not who we are or called to be. This identity is not dependent on whether my spouse does the right thing or not. I am this person and behave according regardless of what my spouse does. When we forget this, we do mean things.
Raising children is probably one of the most challenging jobs I have ever had. I have backpacked over mountains, survived three-a-day football practices in scorching heat, and I have swum out of frigid rushing waters to safety. All of these experiences pale to the amount of energy and time that I have expended as a parent.
However, that was what I signed up for when I decided to be a parent. I might not have realized all that parenting entailed, but once I held my first child in my arms, those responsibilities began. If I did not feed, clothe, hold, protect and play with this child, it would not thrive and he may even die. It never crossed my mind to deny what both of my boys needed to become mature and fit. As parents, Janice and I made decisions on what was best for the boys; not what I wanted or what she wanted; what was going to help them grow.
The same is true for my marriage. When Janice and I married, before we had children, a new entity was born. This entity was “us”. We began to make decisions on what was best for the “us” which meant that our own selfish desires were set aside. It was no longer about me or about her. It was about growing and maturing the “us”.
The same amount of energy and time that we naturally expected to spend on our children was just as needed on the “us”. We needed to play, spend time with each other, nurture, learn to make decisions together and much more. My selfish desires had to be bridled and redirected.
I never lost my own identity nor did Janice lose herself. We found another identity that was greater and more powerful than either one of us was separately. A friend of mine tells a story of him sitting across the table with one of his mentors. This mentor’s wife had just passed away. This man said, “I will miss her deeply, but I will miss even more what we were together.” He missed the uniqueness of their “us”.
I am amazed at how many couples when asked how much time they spend nurturing their relationship, shake their head in shame and disbelief. When you decided to get married, you signed up for a journey in developing a brand new entity. It takes a lot of time and energy. If your marriage was a child, would it be on life support right now? It may be time to reevaluate where your efforts are going.
Please don’t end up like many couples who spend so much of their focus on their children that they ignore their marital relationship. One of the highest divorce rates is among couples married 25 years or more for this very reason. Remember, you signed up for it. It might have been more than you had expected. But just as you wouldn’t discard your child because he/she was too much trouble, you must not discard your marriage either. It is just as valuable.
A pump shotgun has a distinctive sound when it loads a shell into the chamber. There is one chatter or rattling sound that clears the chamber, followed by another similar sound that pushes the next shell ready to fire. When you are a hunter, that sound is invigorating. Not so much if you feel like that gun could be pointed at you.
James and I escaped early from our jobs and left for a frequent
We drove by this shack of a house and decided this was the one from which we needed help. We drove into the very rocky and uneven dirt driveway and parked the Bronco about 30 yards from the house. We turned off the truck, stepped out and started walking toward the house.
Now, it would be helpful for you to realize that if you know how large of guy I am, James was about 70 lbs heavier and 3 inches taller. I am sure that for some people, we might present ourselves as imposing figures.
Walking toward the house is when we heard that distinctive, pump action of the shot gun. It was in front of us and coming from the open door. We froze. We began to second guess our decision to walk up to a house, in the middle of backwoods Arkansas.
Do you ever wish that God would implant in you this kind of distinctive, attention getting, rattling sound that would go off each time you were about to make a very unwise move. It would be nice if the 16 year old, who was about to go against the parents request and go out with his questionable friends, could hear that sound. Or if just before you threw all your hard earned money down on that risky investment you could hear it. Or when you felt you had taken enough from your boss and it was time you gave him a piece of your mind, somewhere close by you could hear the rattle of the pump action shotgun would go off. Or just before you agree to marry that person, you might hear that distinctive shot gun sound.
It is the season when we are reminded of a wonderful verse, Isaiah 9:6, “A child has been born to us; God has given a son to us. He will be responsible for leading the people. His name will be Wonderful Counselor, Powerful God, Father Who Lives Forever, Prince of Peace.” We have been given the greatest Counselor and if we listen closely to His Word and His leading, we would make much wiser decisions. James 1:5 tells us that if we pray for wisdom, God will give it to us. There might not be the distinctive sound of a shot gun ready to fire on me if I choose the wrong action, but it can have a very powerful influence… if I listen.
James and I cautiously walked back to our truck and the man yelled directions to us. We never really saw his face, but we remember the sound. It wasn’t the wisest move we could have made. I’ll never forget that sound. When I really listen and am about to take a step in the wrong direction, I think I can still hear it. Sometimes God has to do that just to get my attention.
During my morning commute today, I found myself stuck behind an older lady driving about 10 mph slower than the surrounding traffic; the brake lights of her Cadillac remained lit. Now, I realize that this lady (who had to be in her 70’s) is probably at the age where she is less comfortable with her driving skills. The other possibility for her overly cautious behavior might have been that she simply didn’t want to wreck the car and suffer the consequences of her mother finding out. Regardless, she reminded me of what I observe many people doing in life: cautiously inching through life with their foot constantly on the brake.
I am not suggesting that one should cast caution aside and recklessly make whatever decision they feel is right at the spur of the moment. After all, wisdom and discernment are wonderful virtues that I pray for every day. Rather, I am referring to the person who consistently avoids anything that challenges their comfort zone. They look for the path of least resistance or the one that will please the masses.
How do I see people living with their brakes on? How about the person who avoids commitment in a relationship in an effort to keep their heart guarded, even in marriage? I see parents who would rather be friends with their children than make the difficult decisions that might cause their child to be unhappy with them. I see church leaders who make decisions based on what the vocal minority in the congregation says they should do. With that kind of leadership, the church will never grow.
I believe most people don’t take their foot off the brake because they don’t have a clear dream or vision of where they are going. To enjoy a relationship with intimacy, one must be open and vulnerable. To have children who respect authority and will not grow up feeling entitled, a parent must learn to say “no” regardless of the children’s feelings. If I am tired of working for someone else, I must be willing to step out and take a few calculated risks.
Fear also keeps our foot on the brake. We might find ourselves playing the “what if” game to a point where we suffer analysis paralysis. Some people are energized by a little risk while some are frightened by any risk. If you know me well now, you might be surprised to know that when I was younger I used to think way too much and was afraid of making a wrong decision. My Dad used to tell me, “Wib, don’t just stand there, do something. Even if it is wrong, do something.” I think sometimes he regrets releasing me from my overthinking and fear and wishes I would reconsider some of my decisions. He knew I would learn from my mistakes. Even if we decide that a direction we take was a poor one, hopefully we learn from that decision. If we don’t learn something, it is a total waste of physical and emotional energy.
I don’t want to live with my foot on the brake, especially the older I get. I see too many people who get to my age and are already looking to slow down, sit down, and rot. I, on the other hand, am looking to build that homestead Janice and I have always dreamed of while keeping up my coaching business. I am not promised tomorrow, I realize that. For this reason, I want to leave this world exhausted, not well rested. For this to happen, the foot must come off the brake.
If you are interested in taking your foot off the brake and want some help doing it, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you.
My wife, Janice and our small family celebrated the birthday of her 91 year old mother this past Saturday. Janice, my two boys, my daughter-in-law, and me sat around the dinner table, she was asked, “If you could take anything from this time back with you to when you were a child, what would it be?”
I jokingly suggested that it would be her cell phone because I knew how much she hated hers (it never works right and it is never due to human error of course). Or maybe even television where she could have total access to her news channel she listens to constantly. Instead, she began to talk about how, as a child, she would have access to some magazines (“Secret Lives”) in the privy (outhouse) that she would not otherwise have. She fondly remembered how her mom would reach down into the flour drawer and with some kind of special magic, bring out just the right dough for mouth watering biscuits. A special smile came to her face when she remembered her dad playing the fiddle on the porch at night. She “reportedly” had to walk five miles to school each day and had to stop for a while after her sister graduated until she was old enough to walk by herself.
Her memories were filled with feelings of joy as she remembered a more innocent time in her life and in our country. As I listened to her, I began to realize that there was little that she would take back with her and a bunch that she had brought with her to today.
The older I get, them more hurried my day, the more cynical I become with the governments of this world, I am glad I have memories of a more innocent and joyful time. I remember a neighborhood filled with kids my age, a mother who always had a meal on the table and my clothes clean, a father I knew worked very hard for the family and always seemed to make it to all my sports events. I am so glad for such memories also. I don’t think I would take anything back with me either.
As my mother-in-law experiences the twilight years of her life, the only regret I hear from her is that she does not have the love of her life still with her. Every once in a while, I will see her eyes fill with tears and I know where she is. She is back in his arms enjoying the unique love the two had for each other. Another sign that she would take very little back with her, but she had packed her bag full of great memories to carry with her to the future. Hopefully, my bags will be just as full.