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8 Practical Tips to Put the Brakes on Complaining

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8 Tips to Nip Complaining in the Bud

1. Replace negative thoughts with thankful ones. Think about good things.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil. 4:8

2. Focus on praising God in your thoughts and with songs. 

Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Ps. 115:1

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Ps. 100:1-2

3. Memorize and meditate on Scripture.

I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds. Ps. 77:12

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Ps. 119:11

I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. Ps. 119:99


4. Invite God to use the negative things in your life to help you grow in spiritual maturity, to bless others, and to bring glory to His Name.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Rom. 5:3-5

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

NOTE – If you are not safe. If you are in an abusive or dangerous situation, these verses don’t mean to just sit there and take abuse if you have the power to leave. We have a responsibility to get somewhere safe and to keep our children safe if there are actions we can take.


5. Avoid negative input from other people (when possible), from media, music, movies, books, etc… and replace the negative input with healthy, wholesome, Christ-honoring input that will feed my soul. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Rom. 12:2

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Col. 3:2


6. Journal about my journey or have an accountability partner. 

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Eccl. 4:12


7. Make it a group project at church, in the family, at work, in the neighborhood, with friends, or wherever.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, Heb. 10:24


8. As soon as I mess up, I need to repent and get right back up and invite God to continue to make me more like Jesus. 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

 

Added Bonuses When I Stop My Habit of Complaining about Every Little Thing:

  • There is more peace in my relationships.
  • I have more peace in my own heart and mind.
  • I can be closer to the Lord.
  • It’s easier for my husband to lead.
  • I have a much more powerful witness for Jesus.
  • I am more fun to be around for everyone.
  • I have more joy.
  • I am more attractive to my husband.
  • I don’t annoy myself as much.

SHARE

What tips do you have to share to help us all avoid complaining?

What bonuses have you noticed when you cut way back on a complaining spirit?

RELATED

Complaining VS Informing – We do need to be able to share important things. Thankfully, we can do that without complaining!

Other posts about complaining

If I Stop the Negative Talk – What on Earth Will I Talk about?

17 Tips to Ask for What You Desire Respectfully

I Can’t Ask for Things. I Can’t Have Needs, Desires or Emotions. – by Radiant

I Must Avoid Conflict at All Costs. That’s the Godly Thing to Do. – No! Sometimes we do need to engage in conflicts and disagreements. But, thankfully, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do that without sinning.

Some Conflict Is Inevitable 

I Don’t Want to Lose My Voice, My Power, or My Identity!  

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

Another Challenge – Let Your Yes Mean Yes and Your No Mean No – Sharing our desires vulnerably

 

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Jesus:

Of course the foundational thing – before I can do anything good – is I need to have Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I’d like to share the “ABC’s of Salvation.”

I need to:

1. ADMIT I am a sinner and there is nothing I can do to make myself in right relationship with the One true holy God of the universe.

  • “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23

2. BELIEVE that Jesus, God in the flesh, left the glory of heaven, came to this world to live the perfect life I couldn’t live and die the death I deserved for my sin in my place. He conquered sin, death, and the grave on my behalf and was raised on the 3rd day.

  • “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 6:23

3. CONFESS that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Lord and give my whole life and everything in my life to Him. He is now in charge not me and I will follow Him for the rest of my life.

  • “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Rom. 10:9
  • And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Cor. 5:15
  • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matt. 7:21

RELATED

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ

What Is Lordship Salvation? by www.gotquestions.org

What Is the Gospel? by www.gotquestions.org

 

Much love!

What Is the Difference Between Complaining and Informing?

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash
Avoiding complaining can get a bit fuzzy, at times. There are situations where we need to inform those around us about important things they need to know. How can we discern the difference between complaining vs. informing?
 
Let’s hash through this a bit together.

About Complaining – from www.gotquestions.org:

The Greek word translated “complainer” means literally “one who is discontented with his lot in life.” It is akin to the word grumbler. Complaining is certainly not a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and, in fact, is detrimental to the peace, joy, and patience that come from the Spirit. For the Christian, complaining is destructive and debilitating personally and only serves to make our witness to the world more difficult. Who, for instance, would be attracted to a religion whose adherents are dissatisfied with life and who continually grumble and complain?
Clearly, as believers we are challenged not to grumble or complain (Philippians 2:14-15; 1 Peter 4:9); rather, we are to love one another deeply so that we may become “blameless and pure” in God’s eyes. If we grumble and complain, it shows how worldly we still are (James 4:1-3). A complaining spirit leads to fighting and quarrelling because complaints come from unfulfilled desires, which lead to envy and strife.

How Can I Tell If What I Want to Say Is Complaining or Informing?

My thoughts:

Complaining is primarily about focusing on the negative about circumstances, people, or perceived negatives about God. It is about communicating a lack of gratitude and a lack of faith in the Lord. A complainer is not looking for solutions, but just wants to spread negativity and discontent. The information shared is not something that the hearers need – or want – to know. And, sadly, a complaining spirit is very contagious.

Informing is primarily about sharing important information that the other person needs to know. We may need to share our desires about certain things. We need to share if we are physically, emotionally, or spiritually so unwell that we need help from a specific person. And we need to share, with the right people, if someone else is not okay and he/she needs help.

From four of my wonderful readers (shared with their permission):

  • I think complaining assigns blame, seeks sympathy and usually doesn’t solve anything. The hearer may not need the information at all. Informing seeks solutions and is intended to benefit the hearer by giving them needed information.
  • I look at this way, “First, can it change?” If it can, “does it need to?” And then, “how can I say it in such a way that isnt received as competition?” A lot of concerns come out as “I’m better than you.” Or “At least I do the dishes” when in reality we just want to be appreciated and have our concerns heard.
  • I think it’s all wrapped in the words you use. Instead of saying, “Why do “you” always leave the toilet seat up after “you” go?”   The  better approach would be, “Honey, guess what almost happened to me last night, I almost sat right down into the toilet “…  then ask can we work together to think of a way we could possibly remember to put the seat back down? (This has actually happened to me long ago.) When I made “you” statements, it was complaining. When I made the “we” statements, it included us as a couple/team. Working together for our good. My husband didn’t want me to fall or get wet. It was just a habit he had.  Talking and agreeing on a problem brings resolve. Not pent up frustration that steams and brews until it becomes a screaming match.  Love isn’t like that. Moral of my story:  We agreed to put both the seat and the lid down after using the toilet. Happy endings prevail where love abounds!!😍
  • This scripture impacted me recently. Both complaining about OR withholding the truth of what is going on in our lives can be detrimental. If speaking the truth of our circumstances could lead others to eventually rejoice in God’s deliverance, then it is worth telling. Here, Paul is neither complaining nor withholding:

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:8-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/59/2co.1.8-11.esv

 

I think it is helpful to look at my heart, motives, and scripture as I try to decide if what I want to share is complaining or informing.

Complaining:

  • Am I saying negative things about God, assuming He has evil motives or speaking wrongly about His good character?
  • Am I condemning other people or highlighting their sins to people who aren’t involved and who don’t need to know?
  • Am I walking in a lack of gratitude?
  • How often do I talk about the problem? Is it a continual habit?
  • Am I gossipping? Meaning, am I sharing negative information about others in order to make others thing poorly of someone else or to try to make myself look better than someone else?
  • Do I tell lots of people, even those who can’t do anything to help the situation?
  • Is this simply an annoyance that I could/should overlook?
  • Am I focused on my own personal preferences/comfort more than biblical principals/God’s glory?
  • Am I trying to control something that is not in the realm of my responsibilities?
  • Is this something I need to accept and invite God to use it to change me? What if this trial is an answer to my prayers to help me grow spiritually? Or is it something I have a responsibility to change?
  • Am I encouraging others to complain, to be afraid, to not trust God, or to be upset?
  • Am I attacking or criticizing others?
  • Am I looking for genuine help and resolution of the problem, or do I just want attention and sympathy?
  • Are my motives wrong? Do my words spring from envy, sinful jealousy, selfishness, self-righteousness, gossip, pride, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, hatred, malice, idolatry of someone/something (codependency), fault-finding, a critical spirit perfectionism, people pleasing, playing the martyr, fear, a desire to control, assuming the worst motives of others or God, unbelief in God/lack of faith, etc…?
  • What is my goal? Am I trying to resolve something that is resolvable? Or do I just want to say negative things just to say them – and I am not really looking for a solution?

Informing:

  • Do I simply want to make my needs known to God and – in faith – ask for His help and provision?
  • Do I have a legitimate need or problem and am I looking to the person (or people) who can truly help me?
  • Am I seeking only to tell people who actually need to know about the situation?
  • Is my problem a significant one that I can’t handle on my own?
  • Am I asking for things or sharing my perspective or the information I want to share respectfully?
  • Is the problem something that can change and that is my responsibility to try to change?
  • How often am I talking about the problem? Just enough to tell the person who can help me?
  • Is this issue something that grieves God’s heart and something God instructs me to attempt to correct?
  • Are my motives right? Do I seek to get the problem fixed in a way that honors the Lord?
  • Am I acting in divine (1 Cor. 13:4-8 style) love for God and for others?
  • Am I pointing others and myself to trust God, to love others, and to have greater faith?
  • Will my sharing this information spur others on to greater faith in the Lord? Will it help them grow spiritually?
  • Am I reverencing the Lord, respecting other people (my husband, my children, and others), and respecting myself in the situation?

Our pastor said something interesting yesterday,

“Lack of gratitude is the first step toward idolatry.”

Obviously, if we don’t trust and thank the Lord, we are going to look to other things to trust. We must guard our hearts carefully against this tendency, my precious sisters!

Lord,

We need Your clear wisdom, guidance, Word, and Spirit to help us discern rightly in this – and every – area. Help us to see our motives clearly. Help us to long to honor You in our thoughts, attitudes, motives, words, and actions. Help us to receive Your Spirit’s power to walk in holiness because we can’t do this on our own. Change us, Lord! Make us more like Jesus.

Amen!

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What do you think? How do you believe we can discern between complaining and informing? We’d love to hear your thoughts and insights in the comments. Thanks for being on this amazing journey with me.
And let us know how your 21 day fast from negative words is going. It’s not to late to join if you would like to!
RELATED
Complaining rewires our brains, adversely impacts our health, damages the way others think of us, and hurts our relationships. No wonder the Lord doesn’t want us to live like this!
What Does the Bible Say about Complaining? – by www.gotquestions.org
Faith VS Fear – What Does the Bible Say? – by www.gotquestions.org

If a Friend Complains, Shouldn’t I Commiserate?

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
I received a great question from a wife about what to do when someone else complains. She said she normally would complain about her life, too, so the person would feel she could understand them and they wouldn’t feel alone. And she worried that if they said they were really tired and she didn’t tell them she was really tired, too, that they would maybe feel like she thought her life was better or that she would come across as being rude in some way.
This is a really important issue! I’m super excited it has been brought up.
 
We can empathize and sympathize with others if they are sick, tired, upset, etc… But we don’t have to complain about our lives, too.
 
If a friend/coworker/customer says she is really tired, I can say:
  • “I’m so sorry to hear that. It sounds tough.”
  • “Oh, no. I hate that you are so exhausted. That’s no fun.”
  • “Hey, is there anything I can do to help?”
 
I do think that one reason women tend to complain about our husbands together is this very thing. Many women want their friends to feel like they understand them and can relate. So if one wife complains about her husband, the others will join in. We don’t want other women to feel isolated or abandoned. We want them to know we all have similar struggles.
It’s a good thing to want to be a supportive friend.
 
But a negative, grumbling, complaining spirit about our husbands (and other things) hurts us. It hurts the way we think of our husbands. It hurts our marriages. It hurts our friendships. It hurts our relationship with other coworkers or our boss – if we complain about them. It hurts our ability to witness effectively for Jesus. It grieves the heart of God. And it stunts our ability to be thankful and to live by faith in God. So we need to be cautious about this, my precious sisters.
 

If a Friend Has Significant Issues Going on:

If a friend begins to complain about her husband, I can empathize that she is feeling upset. “I’m so sorry things have been frustrating. That sounds really discouraging.” And then I can pray and invite God to give me wisdom about how to be an encouragement to her. Depending on the situation and how close of a relationship we have, maybe I can:
  • Listen and hear her heart and pain. Try to understand the situation.
  • Validate her feelings.
  • Relate to her struggle. (Without complaining about or disrespecting anyone in my life.)
  • Pray with her about the situation and invite God into the situation to work for His glory.
  • Do a spiritual checkup with her to be sure she is receiving good things from God.
  • Possibly share some things I have learned that have helped me in similar situations.
  • Offer insights or possible helpful resources as the Lord leads.
  • Make sure she is safe – if she is facing abuse or something truly awful, she may need more help and resources for a very difficult situation.

It depends on the relationship – and how much time we have – how we would approach another woman in this situation. Ultimately, we will need the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit to give us exactly the right words to share in each scenario. We want women to feel validated and supported. And then we want to be able to point them to the hope that is available to them in Christ. We may even be able to witness and share the gospel with them if they don’t know the Lord. Or if they know the Lord already, but are struggling with faith, we may be able to encourage them to yield to His Lordship. God may help us see exactly what they need.

Some women may be open to some positive new suggestions from us. Especially those who are really close to us. Others would not be. Some may be offended if we try to encourage them to look for good things in their lives. We can’t force anyone to change her thinking. We can invite them to. But if they clearly don’t want to, we can respect their decision. That is their choice to make. We can back away.

If a Friend Has a Pretty Good Situation, but Just Has a Habit of Complaining

Some women in our lives may not have big problems in their lives or marriages, they may just be in a bad habit of thinking and talking about only negative things. In a situation like that, I may be able to gently mention some blessings she has in her life, or encourage her to think about the good things in her life. I may even invite her – in a sweet, friendly way – to join me on a fast from negative words. Who knows, she may be excited about it!

If Someone Is Very Emotionally/Spiritually Toxic

Sadly, there are some people who are so negative and toxic, we need to be careful about how much influence we allow them to have on our lives. They could easily drag us down. There are times when we may have to distance ourselves from those who insist on focusing on complaining, resentment, bitterness, hatred, negativity, insults, arguing, etc… If someone encourages me to resent my husband or to think and speak in negative ways about him, my life, other people, my job, or the Lord, that can be a problem. If someone tries to divide my marriage or other relationships, I want to be very cautious.
  • As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him. Titus 3:10
  • Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Cor. 15:33
  • Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Prov. 13:20
  • A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. Prov. 16:28
  • Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. Prov. 17:9
  • Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare. Prov. 22:24-25
 
Let’s seek to bring the God’s joy, peace, and a spirit of thanksgiving into our homes, workplaces, and relationships. This is part of how we can be salt and light!
 
How is the 3 week fast from negative words going for you so far? We’d love to hear about your experience.
 
Much love!

RELATED VERSES

  • Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph. 4:29
  • Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess. 5:18
  • And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Rom. 8:28
  • Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil. 4:8

RELATED POSTS

Other posts about complaining

If I Stop the Negative Talk – What on Earth Will I Talk about?

How Does Bad Company Corrupt Good Character? www.gotquestions.org

Is It Good to Have Close Friendships with Unbelievers? www.gotquestions.org

A Wife Begins a 21 Day Fast from Negative Words

Join Me for a 21 Day Fast from Negative Words

When a Husband Is Negative, Critical, or Hurtful

Prayers for Wives with Critical, Harsh Husbands – by Radiant

11 Reasons We Can’t Afford to Skimp on Praising and Thanking God

For emotionally destructive friendships or extended family relationships, please check out Leslie Vernick’s resources here.

Join Me for a 3 Week Fast from Negative Words!

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. James 1:26
A wife inspired me with her story earlier this week. I’d love to invite us ALL to do a fast similar to the one she decided to do.

THE CHALLENGE

Let’s seek to avoid the following for the next 21 days:
  • Destructive criticism
  • Insults
    • including sarcastic or “joking” ones
  • Complaining
  • Arguing

A Critical, Judgmental Spirit Destroys Others and Ourselves

Our goal is to LIVE the Christian life, not just to have head knowledge of it.
So let’s invite the Lord, Himself, into our words to show us what His will is for us regarding how we use our mouths. First, let’s avoid hurtful, destructive criticism – the kind of negative words designed to tear others down. Those kinds of words don’t benefit anyone. They hurt our relationships. They hurt people. And they grieve God’s heart.
There is such a thing as constructive criticism and there is such a thing as a wise, godly rebuke. These are good things when used rightly and with right motives. We all need to receive loving feedback about our blind spots at times.
From www.gotquestions.org about a critical spirit:
Jesus is not saying that we should not be discerning or that we should ignore the fallen nature of the world. He is also not saying that we must never, under any circumstance, criticize anyone else. In fact, the Bible tells us that we are to judge rightly (John 7:24). However, we are not to criticize with malicious intent or out of pride, hypocrisy, or self-righteousness. We cannot assume that we are impartial or that we can fairly exact our standards on others. Humans have naturally deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9) that allow for blind spots and inappropriate comparisons. Only God can judge with perfect accuracy (Hebrews 4:12; James 4:11-12; 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Isaiah 11:4; Revelation 19:11). And our discernment is only valid when it is informed by a renewed nature in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14-16; John 16:13). Only when we are submitted to Christ and honest with ourselves will our judgment serve to edify rather than destroy.
Critical words spring from a critical heart. And a critical heart generally comes from a misunderstanding of God’s grace—either due to pride or a simple lack of information about God’s character and the meaning of salvation. Only when we understand our depravity apart from God and the depth of His grace will we be able to bestow grace to others (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Colossians 2:13-15; Ephesians 2:1-10).
  • You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matt. 7:5
  • Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:11-12

Insults Deeply Wound Others

Our words have “the power of life and death” according to scripture (Prov. 18:21). What we say matters. There are two primary commands Jesus gives us. The first is that we are to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. The second is that we are to love other people as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:36-40). Then Jesus connects the two. We learn that He counts the way we treat other people, even the least of them, as the way we treat Him (Matt. 25:31-46). And in 1 John, we learn that “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

So what we speak to people in our every day lives matters. A lot. Let’s invite God to help us stop using our words as weapons to cut others down and to stop speaking death to people – and even to ourselves.

  • Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Pet. 3:9
  • Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Prov. 11:12
  • A fool’s displeasure is known at once, but whoever ignores an insult is sensible. Prov. 12:16
  • There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Prov. 12:18

Complaining and Negativity Hurt Our Witness for Christ

When we complain and highlight all that is wrong with life and focus on bad things, we reveal a lack of trust in the Lord and unbelief in our hearts. God calls us to live lives of thanksgiving in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). He calls us to focus our minds on Him and on all of the good things and blessings we can find (Phil. 4:8).

One of the things that stirred God’s anger the most against the people of Israel in the wilderness was their tendency to complain and grumble. They complained to Moses, but ultimately, their real complaint was against God. They didn’t believe He would take good care of them. They didn’t believe He was able to provide well for them. They didn’t trust His heart toward them or His plan. They didn’t come to Him with their needs and ask for help humbly and respectfully by faith. They accused God of evil motives and said He must be too weak to help or save them. That was not remotely the case!

Even now for believers in Christ, if we choose to complain and grumble about our lot in life, we hurt our walk with the Lord and we destroy our witness for Him. How can anyone be drawn to Jesus if we are so dissatisfied with Him and we don’t trust Him, ourselves? God is not saying we can’t ask Him for help. We absolutely can! And we can ask others for help, too, when we need to, and it is appropriate. But for believers in Christ, there is no room in our lives for complaining. We are to live lives of faith. Faith doesn’t complain – it trust God and seeks Him, inviting Him into the situation to do something glorious.

We also need to remember that God intends to use our trials to help us grow in our faith and spiritual maturity. The thing I am complaining about may be the answer to my prayers that God has sent to help me grow. Not that we should try to find suffering or put ourselves in suffering. But as a believer, I should have a totally different outlook on annoying and difficult things. They may be spiritual tests. They may be discipline for me to grow in my faith. They may be opportunities for God to do something amazing. In Christ, I can learn to count even my trials as joy. I can keep an eternal perspective rather than get wrapped up in the moment.

  • Nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 1 Cor. 10:10
  • Do everything without grumbling and arguing,  so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation,among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life. Phil. 2:14-16
  • Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. James 5:9
  • Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Pet. 4:9

Arguing Is Ineffective, Detrimental, and  Unnecessary,  for a Believer

We can get our points across and have a voice, especially as we share things we know will honor and please the Lord. We can share the truth in love, using God’s wisdom and discernment. We can speak up against things that are wrong in God’s eyes. And we can do all of this without being argumentative, fighting, or involving sinful anger – IF we act in the power of the Spirit of God.

  • A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov. 15:1
  • Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 2 Tim. 2:23-24
  • But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17
  • Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Titus 3:1-2

The Ultimate Goal

We can’t do any of this in our own power. But if we belong to Jesus, we can invite Him to give us the power we need to control our words – and even to control our thoughts. That is the end goal. Total heart, mind, and life change by the power of Christ.
  • We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor. 10:5
  • Walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. Gal. 5:16
 

Pray with Me

Lord,
We love You and want to love You so much more. More than anything or anyone else. More than even ourselves. Jesus, if You are our Lord, it means we are to submit every part of our lives to Your authority and control. Our words are often our area of greatest weakness, Lord. Our words reveal the hidden motives of our hearts. They demonstrate whether our sinful nature is in control or Your Spirit is in control. We want You to be in firm control of our mouths, words, and even our thoughts! We repent of our sinful words. Our words of condemnation, judgment, destructive criticism, grumbling, arguing, complaining, negativity, and insults. These things wound Your heart. They grieve You. They break our fellowship with You. We repent of these sinful words – and the sinful thoughts that birthed them. We want to take up our cross today and follow You. We crucify our sinful nature and all of its thoughts and words on the cross with Jesus. We receive Your new life and new nature for us. Thank You that You will empower us to walk in Your ways and to offer our mouths and words to You to use as instruments of righteousness rather than offering them to the enemy and sin to use to destroy others, hurt you, and destroy ourselves.
Let us act in Your wisdom with our words and let us use our words to speak Your Life – not death!
Amen!

Share Your Experience!

 
Let us know how things are going and if you notice anything different in your own walk with the Lord and your relationships.  Also, check in with us if you need some encouragement!
 
 
Much love!

A Wife Begins a 21 Day Fast from Negative Words

I am so thankful to this precious sister in Christ who has allowed me to share some of what God has been doing in her life and heart. It’s a blessing to get to hear from wives in every stage of this journey. Perhaps you may want to join her with this amazing idea? In fact, this would be a WONDERFUL Valentine’s gift to your husband!
Remember – the goal is not to change to get your husband to change, but to allow God to transform you! Check out this wife’s journal and observations for the first 10 days or so of her journey:
———
I have been reading your blog posts and realizing some things. I actually have even started a corporate fast (for 21 days) with my church but instead of food…
I have decided to fast from the following:
It has been 3 days of doing none of this to my husband and it has been HARD but I told myself if I mess up the fast I do not get my morning coffee (which is my favorite and the first thing I thought to fast). None-the-less I actually already notice a change in him a bit. His demeanor has actually been quite different like even after just a few days of this. I do have to say I am shocked. I always realize probably 80% of the things I say to my husband involve the above. But I think I am on the right track?
DAY 4
Sometimes I feel so empowered and close to God and then other times I feel like so low and dumb like why do I have to change and he doesn’t but I understand fully that is not the right mindset. It’s just hard.
My husband is cuddling me a lot more lately though.
DAY 5
He is still sleeping now at noon (after staying out very late with friends – again). I am with my coffee and Bible and praying for God to get me through today. I know I can’t continue mothering him. I know he has to make his own choices. It just hurts. To him, it is no big deal at all. He works 50+ hours a week and provides well.
I can tell you this much. I am not even going to bring up the fact he came home late. I’ve done it a million times in the past and where did it get me? Nowhere!
Time to try something new.
This will be so hard and I will want to be sarcastic! In the past I’ve even taken stabs at his manhood bc he has chose staying out late with guys over his wife, what kinda man does that? I’d say… “a gay guy?” I’m sure that didn’t help. I really can be so mean to him but it’s because things hurt me.
Even though I am upset, I am determined to stick with this fast.
I want change in my heart and my husband’s, so I know something has to change. Maybe when he realizes I no longer bring it up and nag and complain he may actually be able to hear God say it’s wrong? Or hear his own thoughts on things? Like you were saying.
DAY 6
I began reading “The Surrendered Wife,” by Laura Doyle and gave the finances over to my husband as she instructed. (From Peaceful Wife – this book helped me in so many ways in my own journey, but there are some things that are not biblical that have to be filtered out.)
He didn’t take it well. I mean he didn’t say much but just, “Ok,” and ended up leaving without telling me bye. When I called him he just said he was a little confused and that he would talk to me about it later when he got home.
  1. I control everything.
  2. I monitor what he does and spends.
  3. It creates that mother/son type relationship I hate.
  4. I thought he’d be happy to give all that up but I’m thinking he probably just is looking at it like he now has more work.
Laura instructs to just simply say, “I know you’ll fine time, you’ll do much better than me,” and leave it at that but now I feel like I should explain to him since he seemed upset.
LATER THAT DAY
After he came home I continued to be my “new” self and he didn’t ask about it. He took me on a date and never brought it up. I just kept practicing receiving and being sweet. On the way home he did tell me a whole long story about why he spent so much money yesterday helping a friend. 😂 He probably thinks I was mad about that and decided to give him all the financial burden as a punishment. I do things like that. But I just said, “Oh, that was nice of you!”
Idk, I actually feel very far from my husband right now. It’s almost like he has a wall up. He may feel very confused or that I am very different but I thought it would draw him towards me but he seems very distant.
Some things I am praying for as I fast:
  • Radical change for me. Extreme peace in my heart, that come only from the Lord, relinquishing control and idolatry of my husband. Being peaceful and fun and not uptight, worried, mad, and stressed all the time.
  • Radical change in my husband. His walk with the Lord and how he hears him, radical change in how he sees and handles finances.
  • Passion and intimacy to be restored in our marriage.
I actually, right now, feel far from my husband but close with the Lord.
It’s interesting. I feel a peace from God since I haven’t been controlling. I thought it would be a lot harder, and maybe it will be at times,  but I am a goal setter and I set out to not complain, criticize, judge, or be sarcastic for 21 days and I’m sticking to it. Throw in releasing control and being feminine and I think my husband is very confused.
I wish I could just tell him what’s going on and ease his mind to try to draw him close to me. Because right now is almost seems I know something he doesn’t and we feel distant but I know that’s probably not the best.
I’ve been reading your posts and the 8  Powerful Keys to Peace have been amazing to learn. Will be reading more today as I spend my quiet time with God!
I know this will be a hard road. And won’t always be easy. I got to this point where I realized I was upset I even married my husband and was trying to almost justify a divorce. And I realized that was so wrong and unnecessary and I was willing to change if that’s what God wanted. I am ashamed I thought that way. Especially after being able to, for the first time in a long time, see glimpses of what a good man my husband is and can be. (And I do mean only mere glimpses) but still they are there. And I’m taking this as God opening my eyes. And changing what I see.
DAY 7
I am really desiring intimacy, and even though I’m changing and being much better, it’s just still not there. But I am trying to remember, like you said, it’s been years of disrespect so he may not come around (quickly).
Also, this is strange, but as I’ve been spending more time with God on this subject of me as a wife it’s almost as if all these past incidents are being brought my mind, times when, at the time I saw myself as completely justified and mistreated and now I’m seeing myself as an ugly beast. Ways I’ve treated my husband in the past, and hateful things I’ve said.
Gosh, this is so embarrassing and I feel deeply like I want to cry and repent to him but I’m afraid to do because I’m not even sure myself if I’ve changed 100% and I don’t want to risk saying sorry and then doing something so disrespectful and harming again.
I feel as if I’ve truly harmed my marriage. And destroyed intimacy.
I haven’t apologized yet! I am just sticking to my fast and trying to hear from the Lord.
My husband has been in our bedroom all night with the door closed playing video games. I do know he had a hard day at work. He works outside and was very cold today. I had a homemade dinner waiting for him.
Before he went up to play he:
  1. Hugged me and kissed me and squeezed me.
  2. Fixed up the TV for me so I could watch a show I wanted to watch.
  3. And smiled at me.
I was super thankful!
That’s great and I didn’t complain about him saying he was going to go play for a little but I feel myself feeling all that aggression toward him again for choosing things over me. For not pursuing me sexually or wanting to spend time with me instead of video games.
10 STEPS BACKWARDS
To be honest, I completely messed up last night. My husband came home and cuddled me for like 2 hours, while he watched a movie. He did cuddle me, but I didn’t go for it. The whole time all I was thinking was I just want to get up and do something. I’m so annoyed this is every night he just wants to sit here and watch TV.
Finally, I brought this all up. I told him he’s never romantic. It was like word vomit and after almost 2 weeks of being respectful, I caved. He seemed mortified and told me I don’t want real life. Real life is him coming home from a long day and cuddling me when I want. Candles and flowers – that’s just not real. I get it but every now and then? He said he was sick of always feeling like he’s doing something wrong.
A BIG SURPRISE A FEW DAYS LATER
I decided to not say anything about the night before! Though he slept in, I got up and cleaned, had some Bible time and to be honest really felt some anger brewing in my heart. He hasn’t been seeking God the way I wish he would be. And then seeing him stay up late once again for something silly like video games was getting to me. I didn’t feel like even being near him.
THEN I started a gratitude journal. I wrote down all the things recently he’s done that’s made me happy, proud or impressed me:
  • He asked me to pray for his desire to read his bible.
  • He fixed our car when it was broke down.
  • He recently bought a book about prayer.
  • He’s been working so hard at work.
  • He’s been taking over the finances better than I ever thought he would!
After this, I felt a desire to go lay with him in bed. His sleepy eyes saw me and the first thing I did was SMILE. He smiled back, and I was so shocked by this but he immediately started kissing me and making love to me.
It had been about 3 weeks.
I think he is attracted to my quietness, my not having an opinion about EVERYTHING. My smile.
I wasn’t even thinking about sex at all and he made it happen! I was taken back but thankful for my time of being thankful because it completely changed my mindset!
(From Peaceful Wife – Our husbands are much more attracted to us when we act soft, gentle, feminine, and peaceful than if we throw verbal knives at them!)

SHARE

If you would like to share some of your journey and things you have learned along the way, we’d love to hear about it!

Or, if this wife’s story has encouraged you to try something similar, we’d love to hear about your plans, as well.

Note – I will be responding to the comments (Peaceful Wife), not the author. Thanks! <3

RELATED

The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord (my book that outlines how to start this journey)

Stages of This Journey

Apologizing Stories – why some wives apologize immediately, and some wait until later

Why It May Be Wise to Keep This Journey Secret at First

Why Isn’t My Husband More Supportive of Me As I Try to Change?

Respect, Biblical Submission, and Intimacy  – Yes! There is a connection!
Let’s Talk about Sex! (a link to all my posts about sex)

Handling an Unwanted Divorce with Christlikeness

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Here is a question from one of my readers, followed by a response from a Christian brother who has been down this road and who has decided to entrust Himself and his children to Christ. I appreciate his willingness to share:

The Question:

My problem is an unrequited divorce. I know how God feels about divorce and I want to fight for my marriage. We have two young children. If there is any ounce of Christianity left in my husband, then he doesn’t seem to care that God hates divorce. 

He has moved on and is dating a non-Christian woman whom he allows to be with our children. We aren’t even divorced yet! I am afraid every time they go with them. 

I pray. I go to church. I pray. I talk to the members of my church. We pray. What else can I do? My children are court-ordered to see him and be exposed to their sinful, adulterous relationship. 

He and I have a terrible relationship and I don’t know how to get it back. We don’t communicate well, so we’ve stopped talking unless it has to do with the kids. Even talking then is strenuous. 

Should I be trying to tell both him and his girlfriend about divorce and its consequences? I’m trying my best law-wise to keep the case going so we don’t divorce, giving God a chance to reach him before that. And of course, I pray. 

Please help. 

 

The Response

Dear reader of April’s blog,

April has asked me if I was willing to share some of my experiences with unrequited divorce, and how God has led me to particular conclusions related to your questions. It is something that I have had to work out through my own unrequited divorce.

I am writing this three years after my own divorce. My divorce was unwanted by me, but my spouse was determined to leave. Communication before she left was awful, with threats about affairs being made and carried out multiple times. Before and after our separation, she entered a path of multiple one-night-stands and had a quick succession of short-term, live in boyfriends. Our children have seen and heard things that no child should ever have to see. Many men have come and gone from their lives in the three years since our separation. Currently she lives with a man who is not a believer and this appears to be a more long-term relationship heading towards a marriage. We have legally divorced, sold our family home, moved to different towns and have shared care of our children.

What I write comes from a place of deep hurt and personal experience with the situation that you are in. I have spent many, many hours in tearful, prayerful consideration as to how to deal with these situations as they arose for me. I have prayerfully considered all that I have written here, and I believe that the advice I am going to share is biblical advice.

(From Peaceful Wife – I encourage every wife in a situation like this to search scripture and to pray for God’s leading and wisdom for her. Ultimately, what you choose to do is between the Lord, your husband, and yourself. Reach out to trusted, mature believers/counselors for prayer and godly wisdom. And, of course, if your or your children are truly in danger, please contact the proper authorities.)

Fighting a divorce when a spouse is determined to leave

One of the things we may be most tempted to do when our spouse tells us they want a divorce, is to fight against it. This is a natural inclination! We don’t want a divorce, we don’t want our world shattered and we know that God hates divorce. Malachi 2:16 tells us this.

“For the Lord God of Israel says
That He hates divorce,
For it covers one’s garment with violence,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“Therefore take heed to your spirit,
That you do not deal treacherously.”

It is right and good to hate divorce, it is the sundering of a covenant that is supposed to be lifelong and holy, and all parties involved in a divorce suffer because of it.

When my ex-wife told me she wanted a divorce, I felt total, debilitating fear. Everything that I believed to be true was a lie. All my security was taken away. So initially I fought for the marriage tooth and nail, with fear as my primary motive.

But, in fact, me fighting it just strengthened her resolve to go through with it.

The biblical principle that became clear to me through these situations was this. We do not have the ability to control our spouse’s decisions, and we should not try. Trying to fight a divorce when your spouse is adamant that they want to divorce is a form of control, and if they are not wanting God’s design for lifelong marriage in their life, then they will only fight that control even more. They are already rebelling against His will in their life, why would increasing the ‘height’ of what they perceive as walls to limit their freedom do any good? It won’t!

I believe this is the principle that is laid out for us in 1st Corinthians 7:12-16

“To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?”

An Example from My Own Life

This experience is burned in my mind, it is one of the times that I knew God’s presence so, so strongly. I was working alone and all of a sudden the scripture, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” came into my heart. I felt strongly that God was reassuring me of His presence and lifelong care, warning me of something to come and to let it happen and trust Him.

Minutes later my ex-wife rang me. She threatened to have another affair and told me she was going to force me out of our home. I responded with these words, “I am not leaving you or the children, I love you and I am committed to you and our marriage. But you are free to leave if you want to, you have the freedom to choose.”

Even though my response was clearly giving her the freedom to leave and was not a response of control in any way, she still responded by telling me that I was being horrible, and she stepped up her efforts to force me to leave, including trying to manipulate me into an affair. Many years later, she told me that she did not want to be seen as the “bad one,” so she was trying to get me to cheat and leave, but in her heart she knew she was leaving no matter what. When a person is committed to the path that they are on, they are not willing to listen to advice contrary to it. If I had of said that I would try to stop her leaving, it would have escalated the issues even more.

Dear reader, I am not suggesting that this is easy to do! Every fibre in your body is (rightly) hurting and hating what you are going through. Your natural inclination is to fight, fight, fight to save the marriage you dreamed of having. I hurt with you and for you, but I am certain that the biblical principle is to let your husband make his own choices. What does this mean practically, when it comes to the legal side of the divorce?

I am not sure what the laws are in your country, but in my country a couple can apply for a ‘no fault divorce’. This can be applied for by the couple together, or by one member of the marriage. If it is applied for by one spouse only, the other spouse has the option to contest the application or accept it.

My ex-wife asked if we could apply for a joint divorce, and after much consideration and discussion with my counsellor, church leaders, and much prayer, I decided on the following approach. I told her that I would not apply for a joint divorce with her, because I had made my marriage vows and I intended to stand by them. I told her that if she chose to apply for a single applicant divorce that I would not fight her application for a divorce because she had the right of free choice, but nor would I support it. I believe this to be consistent with the biblical principles of honouring my marriage vows, of showing Christian love and giving freedom of choice. (Incidentally, the outcome was that she did apply for a single applicant divorce, I did not fight it and she was granted it). I do not believe that God would have you fight to avoid a divorce. I believe that God would have you graciously allow your husband the freedom of his choice, and leave the outcome in God’s hands.

Trying to tell the wayward spouse what to do and/or preach at or lecture him/her

One of the things that it is tempting to do, is to lecture our spouse as to why they are making the wrong decisions. Even if we have decided that we need to give them the freedom of choice, we are still naturally inclined to point out to them why their choices are wrong. I did this:

I pointed out to her that she had made wedding vows of fidelity for life.

  • Her response was “I didn’t mean them, I just decided that I was hot and you were hot and we had to be married to have sex”.

I pointed out to her that the Bible taught that God hated divorce.

  • Her response was “So what, I don’t think I believe in God anyway”.

I pointed out to her that the divorce would hurt our children so much.

  • Her response was “It’s too late for me to reconsider anything”.

I booked a counsellor to talk things through.

  • After a couple of sessions her response was “He’s an old man who doesn’t know anything”.

I told her that I was willing to forgive her affairs, sell our family home, move interstate so she did not have to deal with the shame of some of her more public actions, and start afresh.

  • Her response was “No, I just don’t want you. I want to hurt you”.

See the pattern here?

I don’t know your spouse, and I don’t know the dynamics of your relationship and communication. But what I do know is that if he is willing to leave the marriage and live with his girlfriend, then no amount of lecturing from you will change anything. You can tell him and his girlfriend that the divorce is wrong and the consequences of it until you are blue in the face, but it won’t change anything.

Only the Wise Listen to a Godly Rebuke

A warning is only of any value to someone who is on the same team and is listening out for it, willing to hear the voice of reason. Proverbs 9:7-8 says

“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
rebuke the wise and they will love you.”

Trying to tell a wayward spouse what to do is about as useful as cooling down a hot meal with a blowtorch. In the same way that a spouse who does not believe in the sanctity of marriage will only rebel against fights to save it, a spouse who is not willing to listen to reason will not listen to you lecturing them or telling them that any of their decisions are wrong.

Consider King David for a moment. He was fixated on Bathsheba, he lusted after her and was willing to kill to have her as his wife. If the prophet Nathaniel had lectured him about what he was doing, what do you think his response would have been? I suggest that if he was willing to commit murder and adultery to have Bathsheba, which he already knew was wrong, then someone telling him that he was doing the wrong thing whilst he wanted to do it would have had zero effect.

And yet, at the right time and with the right word from God he was convicted of his sin, and broke down in repentance.

It is not love to ignore the sin of our spouse, but our relationship with our spouse is different to our relationship with our children. With our children, we have a responsibility and a right to instruct them, to teach them, and to correct them. If this is done with love as the motivation it is a good and right thing. However, we do not have the same sort of parental authoritative relationship with a spouse, and certainly not with an ex-spouse. I think we need great discernment to know when and how it is a loving time and place to share with an ex-spouse what impacts their decisions have made. I believe, and have experienced, that God can and does open doors at the right time to share these things.

Dealing with your children being with the ex-spouse’s current boyfriend/girlfriend

This is one of the hardest things to deal with. Not only are you dealing with the betrayal of one who promised to love you for life leaving, not only are you dealing with the hurt of another partner (or partners), you are also dealing with the confusion and hurt of your children. The innocents.

The truth is, divorce hurts children very, very deeply.

Even though it has been three years since my divorce, my kids still hurt from it. I believe they always will. The tears they have shed, the questions they have asked, the memories of their little bodies clinging to mine as they tried to work out why mummy left, still hurt me too. I am a father who wishes to protect his children from hurt, and yet, here I am having to protect them in some ways from the one who is supposed to nurture and love them?! How do I do that? I too have been afraid for my children, (particularly for my daughter), who are growing up living with men who are not their father or brothers. How do I teach my children good values, when they are growing up surrounded by bad values? How do I set appropriate boundaries with them, when they have different or no boundaries with their mother?

These are Very. Hard. Questions.

I found inspiration in Mother Teresa. Someone shared with me an experience she wrote of, where someone asked her how she coped with all of the suffering of the children in India. They asked her “Don’t you wish you could save all of the children of India?” Her response was “Of course I do”. They then asked her “How do you keep going when you know you can’t save them all?” Her response was “I can save this one.”

What this experience showed me, is that I can only do what I have the actual capacity to do. I cannot make a difference with what goes on with my children’s mother. I cannot change the fact that she is likely to have many boyfriends, and the children will see this. I cannot change the fact that she smokes around them, swears around them, is happy to live in an unbiblical sexual relationship around them – because none of these things are considered by the laws of our country to be reason to remove a child from their mother (unless there is actual abuse going on, in which case I have every legal right to intervene). But what I CAN do, is provide an environment and sanctuary where they can experience and see a difference.

I can make a difference to them when they are with me.

I can live a life that is pleasing to God, with appropriate boundaries on my own relationships (incidentally I have not had any relationships since our separation). I can eat good food, teach responsible alcohol consumption, provide a smoke free environment. I can make a difference to them, with me.

I also believe it is absolutely appropriate and right to continue to teach your children about right or wrong values, even if their other parent is not living those values. It is not love to allow someone you have a responsibility to teach to believe that something bad is good. The primary consideration once your spouse has divorced you, in my view, is what is your responsibility towards your children.

Creating productive communication with the ex-spouse

As I was writing this for April, I had a conversation with my ex-spouse. It began with her letting me know that she had booked my son in for some dental work this week. It continued into a brief discussion where she said she had been proud of him for the way he played with a disabled child last week, and she said he had a kind heart. I responded by saying that he does have a kind heart, and I think he got it from her (because underneath all of the horrible things that have been done, she does have a kind heart). She melted, and apologised again and again for all the things she has done that has hurt me.

We talked some more about the kids, their future, and our future. We talked about ways that we try to build up each other in our children’s minds. I pointed out in the conversation that I could not support some of the things she is doing, such as her smoking, but that I have shared these things with the kids in a way that shows them that we all love her. She acknowledged again that she takes responsibility for all of the wrongs she did to me. This is not the first time she has apologised for what she has done. I have had many opportunities to talk about things that have hurt me, and she accepts hearing it now. She reiterates again and again her desire for me to have a happy life. She is changing.

What has brought about this change? How can we communicate about the children like that now, when we weren’t able to 3 years ago?

One of the fundamental principles that I believe should guide our responses in all communication with all people, is love. Whilst it is true that love speaks the truth, when we speak with love we also have discernment as to when we speak, who we speak to, and how we say it.

If the motivation for us saying something to our ex-spouse is fear, then that is a good sign that we are probably not speaking in love.

We will likely say something that is truth (such as the divorce is hurting the children), but it will likely be said in a way that achieves nothing. If we want to say something and it is marked with peace, love and joy, this is likely a fruit of the Holy Spirit in your heart. And it will bear fruit, which will be seen in your ex-spouse’s response. As I have slowly learned this principle, and have practised thanking her for the things that she DOES do for the children, things have slowly changed.

Reader, I am not going to pretend for a second that this was easy to begin with. When your spouse/ex-spouse is doing things that rip your heart to pieces, it feels almost impossible to see anything positive in them at all. But what I found, was that as I spent time in prayer and worship of the Lord, he enabled me to see her as a lost soul, and I began to hurt for her and for the decisions she was making. I began to see that we were both the same, both people who desperately needed God’s forgiveness and grace for our lives. I began to love her with a love that I hadn’t ever felt before. I understood how Christ could be on the cross hurting for the people who were killing Him.

And that is the key. Knowing Christ. The more I have surrendered my situation to the Lord and allowed Him to work, the more fruit I have seen in my life and hers. He has directly shared to my heart times when I just KNEW it was the right time to say something, and the responses to these conversations have been fantastic.

I ask you this, what can you actually do of your own strength that will change the mind of your spouse? The answer is nothing.

Any change that comes will come as a work of God in their heart, as they, themselves, are willing to listen to Him. Creating productive communication with your spouse is a matter of experiencing Christ yourself, practicing His principles of love and respect, and trusting Him with the outcome, even if you don’t see any changes for a long, long time.

I received a letter from my daughter two weeks ago. She is 6. It had her beautiful handwriting on the front of the envelope, where she had carefully written out my home address. It was a handmade card, with a picture on the front that she had drawn. Inside it had these four words “I love you Dad.” Do you know why I got that letter? Because it was the weekend that I did not have custody of my children, and their mother had organised this letter to be posted to me. She has photographs of me with each of the children next to their beds, so they can see me before they go to sleep at night. She will randomly text me, thanking me for things like teaching her how to drive a car. Things have changed. There won’t be a reconciliation of our marriage, but there has been such a softening of her heart over time, a reconciliation of friendship of sorts. We work together for the children now.

There is a scripture in 1stCorinthians 13 that says this, “Love never fails. Love may not restore your marriage, there are some things that have lifelong consequences and divorce is something that sometimes can’t be avoided. But I can promise you that love will produce fruit over time. It will first produce fruit in you, as you begin to understand the depth of the love of God in you. And it may well begin to soften the way for better communication with your husband also.

I am praying for you.

NOTE FROM PEACEFUL WIFE

Ultimately, each spouse in a situation like this will need to seek God wholeheartedly and seek to follow the Word of God and the Spirit’s leading. There aren’t super easy formulas and pat answers. This husband truly has sought the Lord with all of his heart, mind, soul, and strength. As he was willing to lay down his will and his life in absolute surrender to the Lord, God has given him wisdom each step of the way. He trusted God to work in his wife’s heart. Because it is only God who can open people’s blinded eyes and raise them to new life.

I believe that as we learn to depend on Christ and we determine to seek to follow and honor Him above all else, He can show us His path for each of us.

The greatest goals are eternal goals. Things like – our spouse’s and children’s salvation. We can continue to pray for these things and allow God to use us however He sees fit to pray and to set beautiful, Christlike examples for everyone around us to see.

If you are facing severe issues in your marriage, please reach out for godly, experienced, wise one-on-one counsel if you need to – with a counselor you trust. And please seek to be as close to the Lord yourself as possible.

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If you have been in a situation similar to this and you believe that God has given you wisdom you would like to share (that aligns with scripture), you are welcome to share some general insights and spiritual treasures you have received.

If you would like prayer for your situation, you are welcome to ask for prayer.

However, I’d like to stipulate that we (the author of this guest post, readers, and myself) not attempt to give specific advice to people in the comments about their particular situations. A public forum like this is not a great place to share all of the details of a spouse’s sin. That is better done in private with a trusted, experienced counselor who can get to know your specific situation in person. And sometimes, if a person gets a lot of conflicting advice, it can be more confusing than helpful.

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Contentment on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is coming up, ladies! With all the pressure and expectations that come along with it.
Sometimes, we may be tempted to judge our husband’s love for us or the strength of our marriage based on if we get just the right gift. Special, costly gifts and things our husbands give us can be fun. But let’s remember that our relationship, marriage, motives, and how we treat our husbands are far more important than exactly how we celebrate on one day.

Appreciating Our Own Husbands

Our husbands show love in many ways that advertisers never portray. Everyday kinds of ways. And sometimes, heroic kinds of ways. These gestures of love are important! Probably more important, in the light of eternity, than whether they pick just the right card that we would like or whether they give us a new diamond necklace.
I’m so glad our worth as women doesn’t have to all hang on this one day!
Our worth comes from Jesus and His incredible love and sacrifice for us. Anything else is icing on the cake! Each husband has his own strengths, talents, and ways of showing love.
Thankfully, we can learn to receive love in the ways they give love.
It is amazing how much more loved we feel when we learn to see and appreciate what our men do to try to show us love. Even if it is not our favorite way of receiving love. We might discover, their ways are pretty amazing, too. They do things for us all throughout the year. Think about the kind things your particular husband does for you – and write them down.
Consciously choose to be thankful for the man you have.
In Christ, we don’t have to measure our husband’s love by whether they meet all of the standards of advertisers on TV and billboards for this day. We can be free from worldly expectations and dictates. We can choose to love, appreciate, respect, and honor our men for the ways they show love to us every day of the year. We don’t have to compare them to anyone else – real or fictional.
We get to decide whether we will set the emotional thermostat in our marriages to warm and inviting or cold and resentful. We can also learn to give love to our men in the ways that are meaningful to them.

The Most Important Thing Is Our Attitude

We can approach this day with a grateful heart and contentment.

Instead of focusing on ourselves or on our culture’s very rigid expectations for this day, I’d love to see us take some pressure off of our husbands – and ourselves. Sure, we can sweetly ask for things we would enjoy. (With a pleasant tone of voice and a smile):
  • Babe, I would really love to do X.
  • Honey, I would like a box of X chocolates for Valentine’s Day.
Let’s also ask our husbands what would be special to them. If we choose to celebrate this day, let’s make it about appreciating our unique marriage in our own unique way as a couple. Why let some strangers we don’t even know – who will financially benefit if we do what they want us to do – put demands on us or our men? And why allow some marketing executives to get us to resent our guys if they find their marketing plan unpalatable? 
 
The Most Important Ability Is Flexibility
This is my Sunday School teacher’s favorite saying. And it is so true! So if someone gets sick with the flu or finances are tight and doing something elaborate is not possible, we can be flexible. This is life sometimes. We can roll with it. God can give us the power! We don’t have to freak out or get upset. We can enjoy:
  • A homemade meal or take out at home together on the couch.
  • Making our husband’s favorite dish or dessert. Just to bless him.
  • Snuggling on the couch together.
  • Thanking our men for all they do for us and our families.
  • Sharing a few reasons we admire them.
  • Doing something fun with the kids.
  • Making homemade decorations for the supper table with the kids.
  • Taking cookies to a single mom, a pregnancy crisis center, or an elderly widow/widower.
  • A walk through the neighborhood.
  • A relaxing bath together after the kids go to bed.
  • Some time together another day if schedules don’t work out on the 14th.

Contentment IS Possible!

Paul is such an incredible example of contentment for us to follow. He was able to be content in Christ in the midst of violent persecution for his faith, imprisonment, suffering, illness, injuries, and all kinds of trials (Phil. 4:11-12). Surely, because we have the same power of Jesus in us, we can be content no matter what may happen on Valentine’s Day.
Look at the standard of contentment God has for us:
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Tim. 6:6-8
God calls us to be content with godliness, food for the day, and clothing for the day. Wow. That is very different from the messages we receive in our culture. But it is extremely freeing!
We can respond graciously and with respect and self-control even if things don’t go the way we would really like on Valentine’s Day. We can bring joy and delight to our husbands by being understanding, patient, peaceful, joyful, considerate, and thankful for them.
With an attitude like this, we are bound to savor Valentine’s Day, and every day.
Much love!
 
SHARE
What secrets have you found to approaching Valentine’s Day in a way that is a blessing to your husband, your family, and yourself? We’d love to hear about it!
 
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Pray with Me for America

Lord,
The darkness grows thicker by the day in our nation. So many literally believe that evil is good and good is evil today. We have almost everything as backwards as it could possibly be. And yet, we foolishly think we are so very wise.
 
Has any generation in the history of the world been more confused, more deceived, or more delusional than ours – on just about every foundational moral issue? We are witnessing Romans 1:18-32 coming to fruition in our day. It is the Great Apostasy (2 Thess. 2:3). Time is very short before the rapture.
 
You have generously given us so much time to repent of our sins. Yet, we, as a nation, continue to proudly throw ourselves deeper into bloodshed, apostasy, immorality, violence, abuse, lies, stealing, mockery of You and Your Word, and every manner of evil.
 
We are destroying ourselves. We are bringing judgment on ourselves. We are rejecting all that is good and embracing all that will kill us. How vehemently we defend and protect our evil. How we spit in Your face and reject Your truth, racing to run off of the edge of the cliff into utter destruction.
 
You are good, kind, merciful, and loving. You have blessed America richly in the past. More than any other nation! For this, we are so thankful. But, in Your holiness and righteousness, You also must judge nations and individuals for their sin. 
 
You cannot ignore 50 million plus babies being murdered by their own mothers and by doctors. The weight of our sin against unborn babies was already unfathomable. And now there is a new law in NY that will bring about even more innocent babies’ needless deaths. We are purposely killing babies who are completely viable outside of the womb!?! And our leaders celebrate and cheer!?!
Lord, we weep over these murders and senseless deaths. There is nothing more appalling than killing our own children for the sake of our convenience.
 
You cannot ignore all of the sexual immorality, idolatry (of self, happiness, greed, lies, convenience, and so many other vain things), hatred, addictions, and countless acts of rebellion against You. Our sins are so great, I don’t even have space to list them all here.
 
The problems of America are spiritual. We are being completely consumed by the cancer of sin. Only repentance can heal us.
 
America’s sins are becoming a “ripe basket of fruit” just like Israel in the days of Amos. How much longer before we reach the point of no return? If You did not spare Your beloved people, Israel, when they sinned terribly, You will not spare America, either.
Surely Your judgment is coming swiftly. I tremble to think what awaits us if we continue down this terrible road. 
 
I know You don’t want to see us destroyed. I know You are calling us all to turn back to You and to live!
 
“Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” Ezekiel 18:23
 
Have mercy on us, Lord! Let us repent quickly! Let us – individually, as the church, and as a nation – set aside our incredible arrogance and kneel in humility before You, acknowledging You alone are God and we are not. Perhaps it is not yet too late? 
 
Let us obey and honor Your Word. Let us receive and share the Gospel of Jesus boldly that everyone might hear and have a chance to experience Your great salvation and goodness. Let us celebrate life and protect the innocent. Let our children live in safety and Your blessing. Let us hate evil and love what You say is good.
Show us our part, as believers in Christ. What do You desire each of us to do to stand for Your truth and to protect and save innocent lives? What do You desire us to do to change the course of our nation and culture? Empower Your people to rise and stand firmly for truth and to lead many to Your kingdom. We are at war, Lord. This is spiritual war and the carnage is staggering. Where can we go from here but either to the rapture, a Great Awakening, or judgment?
Let us, as Your people, cry out to You on our faces for Your intervention!
 
Amen.
 
AMOS 8:1-2
This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. “What do you see, Amos?” he asked.
 
“A basket of ripe fruit,” I answered.
 
Then the Lord said to me, “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.”
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How Wrong Praying Destroyed My Faith in God – By Nikki

Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

Today’s post is a guest post by a precious sister in Christ, Nikki. She is from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. I’m so thankful for her willingness to share a bit of her story. I believe it may be a blessing to many other women:

I’m sharing with you an account of how I completely lost my faith in God by praying for my family. I was facing some severe family problems and began to pray in earnest.

Old Approach to Prayer

Below is list of the advice I followed during that period of my life:

  • I sprinkled my entire house and all of my possessions with holy water and blessed salt.
  • I said dozens of novenas (Note: a novena is a Catholic tradition of saying a prayer every day for 9 days). I bought a book of novena prayers and each one said at the bottom “This is a very powerful novena that has never been known to fail.” I said novena after novena expecting and hoping for some change and things only got worse and worse.
  • I was told to buy a particular type of cross and get it blessed by a particular monk and place it over the front door of my home.
  • I went to church more than once a week, expecting that God would be obligated to obey me because of that.

Bad Advice

Everyone I went to for advice suggested a different prayer or ritual. No one advised me to check my own heart and clear it of any pride, anger, unforgiveness, selfishness or idols. The more I prayed and performed these gimmicks, the worse things in my family got and I ended up completely heartbroken, bitter and angry at God. I hated God and wanted nothing to do with him for almost 10 years…until I had a stranger approach me on a beach and led me to pray and give my life to Christ.

When I started to rebuild my relationship with Christ, I prayed for my family very hesitantly and with a lot of fear. I was terrified of getting my heart broken again. I wanted more than anything to preserve my relationship with God first and foremost, regardless of how other aspects of my life were going.

Losing your faith in God through following gimmicks is not isolated among Catholics. I know many Protestants who lost their faith in God through gimmicks like sending “seed money” to particular TV-evangelists or pastor, by “naming and claiming” things that they want, or by writing down a list of the things that they want and putting it in the centre of their Bibles.

Red Flags for Prayer

Because of my horrific experience, I would like you all to be aware of these red flags that you may be praying in the wrong way:

  • Do you want your prayer request more than you want God? If you do, that is idolatry. Your idols will always destroy you spiritually, mentally, emotionally and even physically. So please work daily to identify any idols in your heart and tear them down. Don’t even allow your husband or children to be on the throne of your heart. Set Jesus alone on the throne of your heart.
  • Do you trust the words of the prayer itself or the rituals you are participating in more than you trust God? No prayer is powerful and fail-proof. Only God is powerful. No prayer should be trusted. Only God deserves your trust. Keep that in mind when you are praying. (From Peaceful Wife, we pray to have communication with the Lord and to present our needs and requests before Him. Prayers should not be looked upon as “spells.”)
  • Are you hanging on to any anger, unforgiveness, revenge or hatred? God is more concerned with the condition of your heart than whatever prayer you are saying. He will not answer our prayers if we are harbouring sinful anger and hatred in our hearts. (Ps. 66:18)
  • Are you ignoring your God-given role? Husbands are advised to fulfil their role to love their wives so that nothing will hinder their prayers (1 Peter 3:7). Similarly, children should fulfill their role to honour their parents and married women should fulfill their role to respect their husbands so that nothing can hinder their prayers.
  • Are you attempting to manipulate or force God to do what you are asking Him to do? God is not a genie in a bottle who submits to us. We are meant to submit to Him. If we treat God like some sort of cosmic Genie and think that if we do/say the “right words,” He will be forced to obey us and give us what we want, we are praying with very sinful motives.
  • Are you praying for others in an attempt to control them or force them to change their ways to suit you? God does not allow us to have ultimate control and authority over anyone. Only He is sovereign. (From Peaceful Wife – even He doesn’t force people to obey Him, but gives people free will.)

Green Flags for Prayer

I have learned a lot about prayer and God over the past few years and I would like to share with you some green flags that prove that you are praying in the right way:

If we pray in this way, we will be standing on the Solid Rock and we will have hope and joy even in the midst of great trials, whether God gives us what we want or not.

Trusting God in Trials

Right now, I am facing trials of many kinds, but rather than sinking into a pit of despair, hopelessness, and heartache, I am at peace and growing in my faith because I know that God loves me and is in charge of everything.

I actually focus 95% of my time with God on reading the Bible and discovering the truth and beauty of God’s Word and only about 5% of my time praying for specific outcomes for myself, my marriage and my family. My primary focus is on loving Jesus and building my relationship with Him, and not on my circumstances.

Habukkuk 3:17–19 sums up what our attitude should be:

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

 

I’m sure that Habukkuk would have wanted the fig trees to bud, the fields to produce ample food, and many strong, healthy animals in his land. He didn’t have any of those things, but his love for God lifted his spirits, gave him strength, and filled him with joy.

Praying with Humility:

And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.” Luke 7:6-7

I hope that you can all learn from my story of misplaced hope and my discovery of what prayer is really about. I really would love all of us to have great relationships with Christ and rejoice together in heaven, which will be the ultimate prayer-fest!

SHARE

Can you relate to Nikki’s story? What were some approaches you have used with prayer in the past that were unhealthy? What wisdom has God given you about prayer as you have grown in your faith in Christ?

Note – We will use the comments on this post to discuss praying to God rather than debating various theological differences between Christian denominations. Christ prayed in John 17:21 that all Christians will be one and that is what this blog strives to foster. Thanks for understanding!

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