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Bitterness is Contagious and Toxic!

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Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.   Hebrews 12:14-15

WHAT IS IT ABOUT ONE PERSON’S BITTERNESS THAT DEFILES MANY?

In this passage – there is a TON of spiritual meat!

  • it is impossible to live in peace with others and be bitter
  • it is impossible to be holy and be bitter
  • it is impossible to see God without holiness
  • it is impossible to grasp the grace of God and be bitter
  • bitterness grows to cause trouble (in the church, in families, in businesses, in neighborhoods, ANYWHERE)
  • bitterness yields a toxic harvest that contaminates many people

1. My bitterness may lead others to become bitter towards the same person/thing I am bitter about

When I am bitter – I am seething with unforgiveness and a sense of justifiable anger.  I am fueled primarily by PRIDE – pride that I don’t deserve this treatment and that I am better than the person with whom I am bitter, that I ought to be sovereign instead of God, that I know best for myself and for others, that I should decide and dole out what the punishment for sin against me should be… LOTS OF PRIDE.

I cherish my grudge more than my relationship with God.  My bitterness leads me to more sin.  As the bitterness tree grows – it takes over my heart, my life, my thoughts, my words and my actions.  The tree begins to develop fruit.  Fruit like – hatred, avoidance, lack of love, lack of faith in God, deceit, lying, being divisive, gossip, possibly even violence or adultery – depending on my situation.  And the fruit drops into my life and the lives of those around me, rotting and allowing the small seeds of bitterness to spread and germinate in other places.

When I am bitter, I WANT to gossip about the person with whom I am bitter.  I WANT to run them down.  I WANT to hurt their reputation and try to build myself up by stomping them into the ground.  Gossip defiles my listeners.  And the people listening to me may become convinced to become angry, unforgiving or bitter towards the target of my bitterness, too.  Or, at the very least, they will lose respect and regard for the target of my bitterness or for me!  This happens at work, in extended families, in the church and especially in the home.

Children who have a parent who sets out to turn them against the other parent often develop great bitterness and unforgiveness themselves towards that other parent – not realizing until they are adults how much they have been defrauded by the bitter parent.  They can literally be robbed of the love of one parent and a relationship with that parent by having a bitter parent try to turn them against the other parent.

2. Others may become bitter towards me because it is HARD to love a bitter person.  My bitterness is so obnoxious, foul and toxic.

When I am bitter, I become more and more consumed with my anger, my justification of my own sin, my pride, my rights, my desire for revenge, my needs, my purposes, my will, MYSELF – that I can hardly see anything or anyone else around me eventually.

There is certainly no room for Christ to co-exist in my heart with a tree of bitterness.  Even a tiny seed or root of it offends His holiness.  I have to choose – Christ or bitterness.

It is HARD to love someone engulfed in bitterness.  They are sharp and prickly.  They practically develop a force field around them that love bounces off of.  It is exhausting to be around them.  They are depressing and draining.  They are an endless pit of need and negativity.  It is EASY to begin to develop bitterness towards a bitter person.  Of course, Jesus can give us to power to continue to love them  – but if we start reacting in our own flesh, we can be very tempted to be bitter with one who is bitter.

3. Bitterness can become my idol.

I can become completely entangled if bitterness continues to grow unchecked.  My very identity becomes BITTERNESS toward a person, an event or even God.  The tree of bitterness, and many generations of offspring trees that grow from the seeds of the fruit of the first tree – produces a FOREST of sin in my life that is inescapable.

If I am a very bitter person, I only want to talk about one thing – my bitterness.  (Bitterness grows in stages and is progressive, so it may start out only consuming a portion of my attention, but if given plenty of fuel and a  nourishing environment of continued anger, pride, rebellion against God and unforgiveness – it will completely take over my soul.)

It can become my IDOL.  I want to wallow in it and luxuriate in the mire of it.  I want to run the other person down – or run God down.  I wants the world to know what a victim I am and how powerless and wonderful and innocent I am and what justice I have been denied.

Bitterness blocks my view of God’s sovereignty.  When I am bitter, I cannot accept God’s grace for myself or for my offender.  I cannot receive grace.  I cannot give grace.  I cannot forgive.  So God will not forgive me.  It is a dark, depressing, lonely, cold, miserable prison.

If I am bitter with a person – I am ultimately also bitter at God.

For anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen, CANNOT love God, whom he has not seen.  And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God MUST also love his brother.  I John 4:20b-21

We don’t understand that God counts the way we treat other people as if we are treating Him that way.  The person to whom I show the least amount of love is the way I love God – that is how He judges me.

Whew!  What a scary thought that is!

The whole book of I John is an incredible study on NOT living in bitterness and hatred, but living in the love of God.

Idolatry destroys my fellowship with God and destroys every facet of my life – my soul, my relationships, my finances (eventually), my health, my emotions, my family…  Idolatry has a steep price – it causes discontentment, an insatiable desire for more that cannot satisfy, frustration, anxiety, worry, lack of joy, lack of peace, misery and sometimes even death.

4. Others may become bitter with God because of my bitterness

If I am bitter – I won’t forgive.  I won’t accept God’s grace for myself and I won’t extend God’s grace to others.  God says I am wicked if I refuse to forgive as I have been forgiven (Matthew 18).  I am a slave to sin and the flesh, and I can’t have God’s power or His Spirit or the fruit of His Spirit in my life.  I don’t see the sovereignty of God to work through this situation for my good and His glory.

So – I cannot shine for Christ.

In fact, if I call myself a Christian but am holding on to bitterness, I convolute and distort the image of Christ that I am projecting and will REPEL others from the gospel and the truth of God.

Why would anyone want to come to Christ if living for Him looks like ME – living in bitterness?

Especially my spouse and children will be affected.  If they are not believers, my horrific “witness” will erect a massive stumbling block for them to come to Christ.  I am an awful billboard for Christianity and for Jesus when I live in disobedience to Him.  If they are believers, my poor example will influence them greatly towards ungodliness, too.

My sin will trip others and entangle them.  They may resent God and be bitter at Him, too.  Because my bitterness is contagious and because I can make it hard for them to see the sovereignty of God, the love of God, to accept the grace of God.  And, I make it REALLY hard to love me.  And if they don’t love me, they can’t love God.

THANK GOD HE HAS PROVIDED VICTORY FOR US IN JESUS!

If Jesus is not your Savior and Lord – you can pray and ask Him to be.  Check out the post on my home page about how to have a relationship with Christ!

For those of you who have accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord – here is what we can do when we are convicted of sin:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  I John 1:8-9

PRAISE GOD!

The blood of Jesus is strong enough and more than sufficient to cover any sin we might commit.  We can ask for forgiveness.  We can agree with Him that what we are doing is sin.  We can turn from our sin and decide we want to walk on God’s narrow path that leads to life.  And then we need HIS power to be able to obey Him.  So that means, we allow Him to remove all the sin in every corner of our hearts.  We abide in Him – we stay in His Word often.  We pray continually through the day.  We seek His will, His wisdom and His glory and we lay down our own selfish desires and our wisdom .  We long to obey Him in everything.  We ask Him to fill us with His Spirit.  We are still and listen for His voice and read His Word with a deep hunger.  We want HIM more than ANYTHING in life.

Precious sisters in Jesus,

The bitterness has to go!  I am looking at myself first.  We cannot afford to hold on to this destructive sin anymore.  How I pray that God might speak to each of our hearts and tear out every trace of bitterness -replacing it with His Spirit, the fruit of His Spirit and His abundant life!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

RELATED POSTS:

Exploring the Depths of Bitterness

Finding God’s Victory Over Bitterness

Be Still, My Bitter Heart

We Are Always Wretched Sinners on Our Own – We Never “Arrive”

A Peacefulwife VIDEO about nonverbal disrespect

Be Still, My Bitter Heart

Today’s post is a guest post by my dear sister in Christ, Selena, at www.joyfullysubmitted.com.  Thank you, Selena, for allowing me to share this post!  I pray that it will bless and edify many for the glory of God.

For the past week, some friends and I have been experiencing what it feels like to have our hearts turned inside out and upside down.  The Lord has used the isolated experience of one as an amazing tool to cleanse the hearts of us all, of some known, but mostly unknown and unrepented of bitterness and ghastly unforgiveness!  We have had the sinful contents of our bitter hearts, ever so gently shaken loose, so that we could choose to either acknowledge the presence of sin and repent of it, or continue to ignore its contents and go on growing more and more removed from God.  For some of us, the existence of bitterness was no shock! We had a moderate awareness on some level of its existence.  But for others, this revelation broke our hearts, and brought agony to our souls as these evils were revealed under the all illuminating light of God’s Word…

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For most of the week, I have remained silent…reading the emails that have gone back and forth as one thing after another was revealed or exposed…as one realization after another pierced the hearts of those of us impacted.  What God revealed to one, He revealed to another, and with each revelation of the depth of the darkness still lurking in our hearts, we prayed all the more…and with each prayer came another level of confession and repentance… and the more we confessed and repented, the more healing took place.

UNEARTHING BITTERNESS

The biggest hurt/most humbling thing for me was realizing that I had NOT forgiven as I thought I had.  Or rather, that I had not forgiven at all.  And that bitterness is just the tip of a very evil, ugly iceberg!  The root of bitterness is unforgiveness…and the root of unforgiveness is and has ALWAYS  BEEN PRIIIIIDE!!!!!! (That was me yelling at myself) Foolish pride. Evil pride. Ugly pride. God offending pride.  And after all of the years that I have known the Lord, it is still found in me… in my heart.  Some may ask why is this such a big deal, after all, we’re only human right. Wrong! We are women of faith! And not just a faith but THE faith. We have placed our faith in the One True and Living God and in His Son Jesus the Christ! We have been changed … trans-formed! (This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Cor.5:17)  Because we are His we no longer desire the things of this world!!! We no longer want to be like the world!!! And we no longer are ok with the world being in us!!! We want it out!! Out of our hearts!!! Out of our minds!!! Out of our families!!! When speaking of people of the same Faith that we profess, the Book of Hebrews said the following;

“How much more do I need to say? … They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.” Hebrews 11:32-40

This experience…this full recognition of the evil pride that repeatedly spawns bitterness in the hearts of Gods people everywhere, including in my own heart, has worked to revive the fight in me.  Hebrews has reminded me of the spiritual stock that we all come from…of the cloth that we’re cut from.  We are ‘more than conquerors’ (Romans 8:37), and that means that we can, by the power of the life-giving Spirit that now abides in us, conquer even bitterness…pride… envy…jealousy…and all of their ugly relatives!!!!

The healing that began in the hearts of our small prayer group is just the beginning!!! We are able to overcome bitterness, and through our testimonies, help others to overcome and experience healing too!!! God’s mercy has empowered us to not “just pretend to love others. [but to] Really love them. [to really]Hate what is wrong. [to truly]Hold tightly to what is good. [to] Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other… [to] Bless those who persecute [us]. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think [we] know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead,“If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:9-21)

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BITTERNESS YIELDS POISONED FRUIT

You see, pride says that I deserve better…in my case, that I deserved to be treated better than they treated me, 20 years ago as well as off and on throughout the years. Unforgiveness sets in because I want God to punish them and to do it quickly and visibly, where I can see that they got ‘in trouble’ for wronging wonderful me!! Bitterness sets in over time when the punishment never seems to come, and the wrong never seems to be made right.

Over time these evil emotions begin to feel normal, and comfortable, and we begin to feel justified, and pride begins to grow and gain strength.  And eventually, our refusal to forgive becomes justifiable, and bitterness becomes our friend. We don’t even realize that we are now living in a prison of our own making, and while pride has convinced us that we are right, its true evil is camouflaged…hidden from our view, and the absolute distortion of the image of Christ being perfected in us is now all that is visible. Bitterness makes us unattractive…it manipulates us, our responses or reactions.  Where we should be acting in the love of God and displaying His mercy, when bitterness takes our hearts captive, we become the puppets of the enemy of our souls.  And the name of our God is defamed….

“But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

CHRIST WON’T LEAVE US IN OUR SIN

I am going to wrap this up with one more thing that I was reminded of this week; Ephesians 5 tells us that Christ not only loved the church, but that he

“gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” 

This past week my beautiful prayer sisters and I experienced that ‘washing of water by the word’, and it was painfully glorious!!! Bitterness no longer reigns in the most holy place of our hearts! We now know what it looks like and smells like and sounds like…and how it feels!!! And we know most of all that it is an overwhelming offense to the presence of our merciful, forgiving and gracious God.  More than ANYTHING we want to honor Him!!!! More than ANYTHING we want our lives to bring Him glory!!! More than ANYTHING we want to hear Him say ‘Well done!’!!!!! We are choosing daily to forgive. we are choosing daily to love. We are FIGHTING MINUTE BY MINUTE to remain humble.  And by the power of His life-giving Spirit we will be VICTORIOUS!!! Won’t you join us??? Forgive today…resist the self-imposed prison of bitterness that the enemy is trying to sneak into your hearts under the guise of justifiable anger or wisdom…choose today to love with Gods love, and let it heal our hearts together….

Finding God’s Victory over Bitterness

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Yesterday, we looked at many of the causes, signs and consequences of bitterness – if you missed that post, you can find it here.

I have discovered that I have to dig down deeply and examine all of my angry thoughts, write down exactly why I am upset and then compare my thoughts to the truth of God’s Word and trash the things I am thinking and believing that aren’t true. (But I need to throw away the list of wrongs I have suffered after I have examined them!)  I also need to identify all of my sinful reactions and repent of each individual sin towards each individual person and memory that contains the smallest root of bitterness.  I realize now that even old memories from long ago need to be uprooted and inspected for hidden traces of bitterness to get all of that before God and remove even the smallest particles – or it will fester.  I lay still before God on the operating table as He opens up my heart and examines every dark crevice. I need God to renew my mind by the power of His truth and His Word.  I must take each thought captive for Christ and allow Him to examine my heart and mind and extract every offensive way in me.  I desperately need time in His Word daily and time in confession of my own myriads of sins daily and time praising and thanking Him. I pray we will be sensitive to God’s Spirit and able to hear His voice:

  • pride – “I am better than so and so.”  “I would NEVER do what he/she did.”  “I am so much more spiritually mature than him.”  I have to ALWAYS be on the lookout for pride.  God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.  James 4:6 Pride is a HUGE source of fuel for bitterness in my heart.  “I deserve better.”  “I know better than her what we should do.”  “I am not that sinful.”  “He doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.”  “I am above THAT sin.”  “He/she is SO spiritually weak to fall into THAT temptation.”  “That is unforgivable.  I will NOT forgive that!”
  • ungodly motives – I am VERY SINFUL and wicked on my own.  I am in desperate need of Jesus! I have to constantly check WHY I want to do things and allow God to expose sin, pride, desire for glory for myself, selfishness, and many other sins!  The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?  Jeremiah 17:9  I can easily be blind to my own sinful motives.  I need God to show me my sin, and other believers and other people to tell me the sin they see in me.
  • unforgiveness – Jesus commands us to forgive so that God will forgive us.  Matthew 6:14-15  Unforgiveness is HUGE sin in the  sight of our holy God.
  • gossip – usually born from my pride and wanting to prove how much better I am than someone.  MORE PRIDE!  Gossip is part of the fruit of the flesh, it is NEVER of God!  What are my motives when I am sharing stories about others?  Am I looking out for their best and for God’s glory?  Or am I trying to make them look bad and make myself look wise,  am I trying to hurt the person and ruin his/her reputation and turn others against them or using their sins/errors for entertainment?
  • fear – I need to think about God’s Word and that perfect love drives out all fear, and that the only One I truly need to fear is God – “what can man do to me?”  If I have God’s power in me and His Spirit filling me, He will give me the strength, courage and wisdom to handle another person’s sin in His way for His glory.  I don’t have to be afraid of another person’s attempts to control me, their disapproval, their unkind words, their anger.  If I am paralyzed by fear, I am not trusting God.  I have a lack of faith in His sovereignty and power to work in my life.  Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Hebrews 11:6  I don’t have to be swayed by sinful attempts of others to control me.  I don’t have to get upset or react sinfully myself.  I am no longer a slave to sin!  Now I am a slave to Christ!  I may calmly respond in the power of the Holy Spirit and refuse to cooperate with sin and ask God to give me His love for them. (If someone is violent towards you or threatening you physical harm, please do not trust your safety to them.  You may need to get away, may need to involve the police.  Please find godly, local, experienced counsel if you are in physical danger!)  I can forgive, but I don’t have to trust until the person earns my trust back.  But I need to desire to work towards reconciliation as far as it depends on me and God working in me.
  • idolatry – wanting people’s approval, wanting to please people, wanting people to think I am perfect, expecting other people to make me be happy, demanding things of others, insisting on MY will, MY way, MY desires, MY goals, MY needs, MY feelings of being loved…  If I am giving other people power over my emotions and feelings and believing evil things they say, but ignoring what God’s Word says – I have a big problem!   It is what GOD says that matters – not what others say!  If their opinions and statements and condemnation don’t line up with scripture – I don’t hang onto their words! Just because someone says something about me, does not mean it is true.  It is up to me to take that statement to God and His Word and examine it.  There is no reason to blindly swallow poison from other people. If that person could act in spiritual maturity, love and wisdom – he/she would!  But right now that person may be held captive by sin or by the enemy – and may not be able to be the person God desires them to  be.  God may want to use me and His Spirit in me to show His love, mercy, kindness and grace to that person who is acting hatefully to draw him/her to Himself.  When others mistreat me – God is watching carefully!  There are many tests of my faith each day.  I pray we will hear God’s voice and honor Him!  My reaction to others’ sin reveals my character.  Other people cannot MAKE me fly into a rage.  God’s  Spirit is to be in control of me – not my sin nature!   If I am not seeking God’s will, His dreams, His goals, His presence, His righteousness, His Word, His power and His pleasure – I may be dealing with idolatry.
  • undealt with sin – if someone sinned against me, but I didn’t go to them in love and truth and tell them that they hurt me, I was wrong.  It is my responsibility to tell someone (calmly) if they wrong me.

Martha Pearce in The Excellent Wife has a chart  of Bitter Thoughts and Kind, Tender-hearted, Forgiving thoughts to replace the bitter thought.    This same concept can be applied to ANY relationship.  What a fantastic place to start!

She lists many of  the bitter thoughts wives think, and replaces it with a truth from scripture and with a kind thought.  What a  GREAT way to counter bitterness and find victory in Christ!

Verses she used for the godly thoughts:

Matthew 18:32-33, Matthew 19:6

Romans 8:28-29

I Corinthians 4:4-8, I Corinthians 6:11, I Corinthians 10:13

Colossians 3:2, 14

Ephesians 4

Philippians 2:3-4

I Peter 3:9

James 1:5

I John 1:9

SOME INSIGHTS FROM A FRIEND THIS WEEK:

I realized several things:

1. I am SO quick to get angry
2. My anger and bitterness toward them is not just about this one incident-this is just one more incident that can be added to the long list of wrongs that I’ve been keeping 🙁
3. The beauty of Christ cannot be seen in me if I’m pouting and angry
4. I need to forgive these people and treat them kindly
5. I have absolutely no desire in my flesh to do that right now
6. I desperately need the Lord to bring me to that place!
April, I think your right in saying bitterness is progressive, and just recently learned that forgiveness can also be progressive. In Tim Keller’s Galatians study, there’s chapter on forgiveness. This has been very helpful to me, and I think it can be applied to bitterness as well since they seem to go hand in hand. He states:
  “When someone has wronged you, it means they owe you; they have a debt with you. Forgiveness is to absorb the cost of the debt yourself. You pay the price yourself, and you refuse to exact the price out of the person in any way. Forgiveness means you free the person from penalty for a sin by paying the price yourself.
  
   Realize that forgiveness is granted (often for a long time) before it is felt. Forgiveness is not primarily a feeling, but a set of actions and disciplines. Forgiveness is a promise NOT to exact the price of the sin from the person who wronged you. This promise means a repeated set of ‘payments’ in which you relinquish revenge. It is hard, and (for a while) constant. If this promise is kept actively, eventually the feeling of anger subsides.”
 
   He goes on to quote Dan Hamilton from his book Forgiveness: “Forgiveness is to deal with our emotions by sending them away- by denying ourselves the dark pleasures of venting them or fondling them in our minds.”  “Once upon a time I was engaged to a young woman who changed her mind. I forgave her…but only in small sums over a year…They were made whenever I spoke to her and refrained from rehearsing the past, whenever I renounced  jealousy and self-pity, whenever I saw her with another man, whenever I praised her to others when I wanted to slice away at her reputation. Those were the payments- but she never saw them. And her own payment was unseen by me…but I do know that she forgave me…Forgiveness is more than a matter of refusing to hate someone. It is also a matter of choosing to demonstrate love and acceptance to the offender…Pain is the consequence of sin; there is no easy way to deal with it. Wood, nails, and pain are the currency of forgiveness, the love that heals.”
 
WOW! How powerful is that??? Sisters, I just wonder how quickly the bitterness we’re harboring would fade away if we would begin absorbing the costs ourselves. To refuse to dwell on past hurts, to take every thought captive the moment they pop into our head, to release the offender from our high expectations, to not find our satisfaction in the approval of men, to choose to show love to those that hurt us, to remember Christ absorbed the costs of our debts… There are so many ways to make payments…and it’s so HARD! But freedom awaits us on the other side of it! I pray that the Lord will soften my heart and bring me to the place where I am delighted to make the payments, where I LOOK for ways to do it, because I know there’s no way I can do it in my own power!
FROM PEACEFULWIFE:
We will explore more about forgiveness and victory over bitterness tomorrow!  I am SO excited to share God’s wisdom and His path to freedom, joy, peace and abundant life!

Each Wife's Journey is a One-of-a-Kind

Dirt Road with Maple Trees in Winter SunriseOne reason I write this blog is because I had a HARD time finding resources to learn about respect, godly femininity and biblical submission when I began my own journey 4 years ago.  And when I did find resources, they often didn’t have many practical examples, or they had practical examples, but they weren’t from a Christian perspective.   I was SOOOOO clueless about all of this stuff, that I needed “Respect for Dummies” or “Being a Godly Wife 101.”  I didn’t have a mentor and I was unbelievably confused.

I would ask my husband constantly, “Is this respectful?”  “Is that disrespectful?”  I had NO idea.  And, sadly, he wasn’t sure those first few months what he thought was respectful or not.  I needed HELP!

I needed SOMEWHERE to start.  A place to plant my feet and then I might be able to see more clearly  where to go from there.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE ME!!!!!!   🙂

I give practical examples and suggestions because I needed something like that so desperately 4 years ago.  Does that mean that the exact words I say and the exact things I do are the only way to be a respectful and submissive wife?  NOPE!

I try to give many wives’ stories because I hope to expose wives to a variety of women and the different styles they have as they respect and submit to their unique husbands.

Submission and respect are not one-size-fits-all.  Not for husbands and not for wives!

That is one reason I love the post about what husbands find to be disrespectful so interesting.  It is a compilation from about 7 different men.  They each have their own unique take on what disrespect and respect is.  Some things are fairly universal, but then there are some idiosyncrasies that are wholly their own.   I think it is FASCINATING to learn what it is to look at life from a masculine perspective and then to discover all the tiny nuances that are particular to each husband – it is like examining each beautiful snowflake under a microscope and learning to admire each one.

THE DETAILS ARE YOUR OWN

My hope is that I will give you a place to start and point you towards Christ and His Word.  Then you can think about things, pray about the examples, tune in to God’s Spirit,  talk with your husband if it’s appropriate – and find your OWN brand of how to make this work.  God’s commands are the same for all of us, but we are each unique individuals and all of our husbands are different and have different preferences and needs and each wife has her own personality.  So the practical application of obeying God’s Word will look different in each marriage.  It will be up to you to hash out the details for your marriage!

If you don’t like the way I word things, do it in a way that you like better!    If you try something and your husband doesn’t like it – that is not a fit for him – and that’s ok.  It will give you a chance to talk with him and get to know what he would prefer and what would speak respect best to him.  That is the important thing!   This is ultimately about learning the broad concepts and then fitting them to your personality, your husband, your marriage and your life.

YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN BE YOU!

This journey will be a deeply personal one.  No two journeys will look exactly the same.  We each have unique personalities, perspectives, life histories,  husbands, backgrounds and mindsets that will impact us and stamp our own fingerprint on how we do this.

Each wife will need to work out her own salvation with fear and trembling – and by listening intently to God’s Spirit and His Word and her husband’s leadership.

God has YOU in THIS family, in THIS home, with THESE children in THIS town and THIS country with THESE friends and acquaintances for His divine purposes.  He has unique and wonderful  plans for you that will be different than His plans for me.  You have different gifts and talents than I do.  He has a very special ministry in mind for you in your family, to your husband and for others that will bring you incredible fulfillment.  I pray for you to abide in the center of God’s will for you – that He might accomplish His beautiful purposes in your life and might bring Himself the greatest glory through you, your faith, your marriage, your husband and your family!

YOU ARE WELCOME TO SHARE YOUR BRAND OF RESPECT AND SUBMISSION

If you would like to talk about what God has done in your life and your marriage – or how you and your husband work respect and submission, I would love to hear from you!  I especially love details – a specific situation, a certain beautiful ritual that you and your husband share that is meaningful to you, words you use to show respect, examples of how you cooperate with your husband’s leadership cheerfully and joyfully…  leave me a comment!

ANOTHER RESOURCE

You’ll definitely want to check out Nina Roesner’s book, “The Respect Dare” and her FB page.  She has worked with thousands of women in The Daughters of Sara program and her book has many stories of unique ways that women learn and apply respect in their situations.

How I Handle the Toilet Seat Being Left Up and Other Quandaries

There are some things that are universal struggles in almost every marriage.  Sometimes these tiny little insignificant things can turn into huge issues and fights, unfortunately.

So what is a wife to do when her husband constantly leaves the toilet seat up, and she ends up splashing in the nasty toilet water in the middle of the night?  Or what is a wife to do when her husband doesn’t help with the laundry, or leaves dirty clothes all over the bedroom, or leaves wet towels on the bed or tracks dirt and mud through the house after she just vacuumed and mopped – again?

SOME PERSPECTIVE

One thing that helps me A LOT is to talk with widows and read the stories of widows.  There was an article about some of the September 11th widows and they all talked about how hard it was to hear wives complaining about these little inconveniences that come with living with a husband.  They talked about how much they WISHED they could have those kinds of “problems” again and have their men back in their lives.

SOME SUGGESTIONS

Here is how I handle some of those little annoying things now that used to get under my skin and fill me with resentment.   Yes, you could ask very respectfully, and probably only once (or occasionally) – “Honey, would you please do X?  I would appreciate it so much!”  But if that doesn’t work…

  • the toilet seat – Now, I just assume that the seat is probably up.  So I feel in the dark and yep, it’s up.  So I put it down and then I don’t fall in the toilet.  I don’t expect the seat to be down.  I live with a husband, and that is part of living with a man sometimes.  And I think about how glad I am to have him in my life.  I don’t nag him.  I don’t make any deal out of it at all.  I just changed my expectations.  It’s not that big of a deal!  You know what IS a big deal to God?  My resentment, bitterness and un-forgiveness.  Those are ugly sins in God’s book.  Leaving the toilet seat up is not a sin. I happen to know my husband’s heart well enough to know that he doesn’t purposely leave the seat up to try to annoy me. And, I always leave the seat down, so he has to put it up. He doesn’t complain about that!
  • clothes strewn around the bathroom/bedroom/wet towels on the floor or bed – Most of the time, my husband puts his dirty clothes in the hamper. If he doesn’t,  I take 2 seconds and put them in the hamper.  I don’t complain about it.  I don’t even think hateful thoughts.  It doesn’t upset me anymore at all.  It doesn’t take much of my time.  I think “I am so glad to be able to serve my husband and serve Jesus by taking care of him this way.”  And I don’t get the least bit annoyed.  I know I will probably be a widow in the next 10-30 years and I will have a very neat house and won’t have to clean up after anyone then.  And I know I will MISS my husband so much.  I want to savor every moment of being with him.  Who knows how many days we have left to enjoy each other’s company?  I don’t want to have any regrets.
  • dishes put into the dishwasher “wrong” –  I thank my husband for taking care of the dishes and cleaning up.  I hug him and kiss him and smile at him and tell him what an awesome man I have that he would do all of that for me!  Then when I take the dishes out of the dishwasher, if there are some that have crud on them, I soak them and rewash them. (Sometimes that happens when I load the dishwasher, too!) I could ask him to put them in a different way – respectfully. Or I could say, “Honey, the dishes don’t seem to be getting clean in the dishwasher,” and give him the chance to evaluate the situation. I don’t get angry.  I’m thankful for Greg’s willingness to help me with chores now.  Life has not always been like this!  So any time he helps me in ANY way, I thank him and pile on the praise and encouragement.  I do NOT criticize his help.  I appreciate him.
  • tracking dirt through the clean house – This actually happens a good bit when my husband is working on renovation projects at our house.  Thankfully, we have hardwood floors almost everywhere, so that makes it a bit easier.  I focus on the beautiful work my husband is doing to create my dream home for me.  That is one of the biggest ways he likes to show his love for me.  So, I don’t get on him about it at all.  I just wait until the work is done for the day and cheerfully sweep the floor again and thank him for the incredible job he’s doing on the house.  I don’t resent him.  I don’t get angry.  I hum or sing a praise song to God and I sweep the floor.  Then I go cuddle with my man after he gets cleaned up and I hug and kiss him and listen to him talk about all of his amazing plans for his latest project and I smile and appreciate having such a talented husband who loves me SO much that he is willing to do all that hard work just to delight me.

MY HUSBAND DOES A LOT FOR ME

I used to silently, or not so silently, keep score and try to weigh what I was doing in the marriage each day compared to my husband.  And I would resent him if I felt I had to do more chores around the house.  It helps a lot that I am not working as much anymore, so I have more time to spend on chores and I’m not trying to work a full time job AND do the housekeeping and be a wife and mother.  That was just WAY too much for me to handle!  Now I only work about 11-20 hours/week.

Now when I do work, my husband helps me.  I don’t usually ask him to do anything.  He feels so respected now, he just does it all on his own.  He’ll do laundry now, and even fold it and put it away!??!?  He’ll do the dishes now, especially days that I am working.  He’ll cook supper for me.  A man who feels greatly respected is wired by God to want to serve those who honor him. I don’t respect and honor him so that he will do things for me. But, he often does wonderful things these days just because he loves me and likes to see me smile.

Even before my husband was feeling a lot more respected and started helping me so much more, I began to change and see all the ways he contributes to our marriage, household and family and how he NEVER complains.  He takes care of all the outside chores and yard work.  He does the renovation projects.  He goes under the house and works on the ducts or the plumbing if needed.  Plumbing can get particularly nasty.  He doesn’t complain when he has to work on the sewage pipe and gets filthy.  He is MY HERO for being willing to do all that stuff for me.  He amazes me with his determination and perseverance and the way he seriously never complains no matter how hot it is in the attic when he’s putting insulation up there or how smelly and nasty it is under the house.  I can definitely find plenty of things to appreciate and thank him for and things to respect him for.  He contributes so much to making our house beautiful and safe and well-functioning.  How can I really measure what I do against all those things he does that I would NEVER be willing or able to do?

So, I don’t keep score anymore.  I just serve my husband and my Jesus with all my heart.  I sing songs to God all throughout the day.  I think about the things I respect and admire about my husband and all of his strengths.  And I am the happiest, most joyful and peaceful wife in the world.

SHARE:

How has God inspired you to handle the little things that your husband does that used to annoy you? Maybe your story might inspire another wife!

A Wife Finds Joy Again after Years of Grief

Today’s post is an email I received from a wife I talked with a few months ago. She was still deeply hurting and grieving over the  sudden loss of her teenage son 4 years ago. She had learned about respect before – but “lost ground” during her grief – very understandably!

This precious wife was STUCK.  She was angry with God.  She was bitter towards her husband.  The question that really began to turn the lights on spiritually for her was, “Is it possible that you may have grieved the Holy Spirit?”

I could hear the self-pity and bitterness in her heart and knew that she had grieved God’s Spirit.  And – in that moment, she began to see the problem.  She was dry and without God’s peace, joy and the fruit of the Spirit because she was hanging onto bitterness and unforgiveness.  When she repented – His power began to flood her soul again.  Nothing brings me greater joy than to get to witness one of my sisters reach that critical point of brokenness and humility and then see the Niagra Falls of heaven pour into her soul!  I just never get tired of that!  It’s pretty addictive – watching God work miracles like that.

HER DESCRIPTION OF WHERE SHE WAS SPIRITUALLY THE PAST 4 YEARS:

I had let my brokenness morph into something so unhealthy that I had just gotten shackled up tight in a stronghold of self-pity and bitterness. When I felt like I was further spiritually than my husband, even that had a root of “poor me, my son died and I can’t even be married to a man who loves me and leads me like Christ. Poor me, my life is so hard. Guess God just uses me as some kind of martyr type… etc. You get it… on and on with self-pity and bitterness. And God has showed me what a deep, ugly sin self-pity is. And bitterness too, but the self-pity thing was a surprise to me how ugly it can be in God’s sight.

THE EMAIL SHE SENT ME AFTER WE HAD SPOKEN:

Hey! I thought I would share my latest blog with you. It is a start at processing all God is showing me since we talked yesterday. I know that I have grieved the Holy Spirit in the context of my relationship, too, I just know that between me and God is the beginning. I am finally ready to truly apologize to my husband and ask for forgiveness (for being disrespectful, unforgiving and controlling). I plan to get specific with my sin with no explanation so he won’t misinterpret it as justification. I can’t believe it! Yesterday, I still wasn’t ready. I knew if I said it, I still wouldn’t mean it. But, today… FREEDOM!!

I am feeling wonderful!! It’s like a floodgate of JOY has been released in my spirit!! I am so NEW!!  I know it! I had almost given up on feeling LIFE like this again since my son died. It is unbelievable!   After 4 years, the last 2 of those with me begging God to heal me yet rebelling somehow all at the same time… I am FREE! I know it. I don’t expect it to be perfect from here… I will still have PMS days, and days where I have to take lies captive… but something is most definitely new!!

Oh my! This Scripture just popped in my mind….

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

Oh the joys of hiding Scripture in your heart for God to pull out just when He wants to speak to you!! He just absolutely confirmed that He is doing a new thing… right here, right now, again! I am in an oasis! And oh how good it feels after years of my spirit being so dry!

As far as the fumble… I just flat out owned it and apologized. Hmmm… imagine that?! 🙂 It wasn’t horrible, but I want him to know and SEE the changes in me. He is already noticing that something is up! 😉

All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you, April!! For being obedient to His call to change your own marriage and then letting the Lord use you the way you do to help Him change others!

It almost seems too simple that the first time we talked that the Lord worked such a breakthrough in me, but oh you just have no idea how long I have begged, and wrestled, and fought, and well… you get the idea. I am just so blessed!! And our precious God is just so WILD and GOOD!!!

If You Are Getting Stuck

The times I have gotten stuck on my journey to obey God’s Word as a wife and to totally submit to Him in my entire life, including my marriage and to learn His design for me to respect and submit to my husband – there is usually one or more of the following going on:

  • bitterness – I am hanging on to resentment and unforgiveness.  When I do this, I forfeit God’s Holy Spirit abiding in me and empowering me.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to be a godly wife and to live in constant fellowship with Christ if I am cherishing ANY sin in my heart.  I MUST sincerely, humbly and deeply repent.
  • pride – I start thinking I know best.  I know better than God.  I know better than God’s Word.  I know better than my husband.  I should be the one in control.  I’d do a much better job than my husband at leading.  He’s messing everything up.
  • lack of faith in God or my husband – without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  And without faith in my husband, it is impossible for me to show respect to him in a way that will mean anything to him.
  • idolatry – I started looking to other things besides Christ for my fulfillment, contentment and happiness.  THIS IS VERY EASY TO DO!  I have to CONSTANTLY check my motives.  WHY am I doing what I am doing?  Am I really doing this to honor God?  Or am I doing it to try to control my husband and make him love me more?  Am I doing this to try to force my husband to make me feel loved?  Am I doing this because I love God with all my heart, want to know Him more and want to obey Him?  Or am I doing the respect thing because I want to try to CONTROL God?  Motive matter GREATLY to our husbands and to God.
  • self-righteousness – I start thinking I am better than my husband.  This is sin!

BROKENNESS

If I do not start from a place of total humility and brokenness – weeping over the magnitude of my own sin in God’s sight – I still have a lot more repenting to do.

It is only when I am utterly humble and contrite before God and tear down all my idols and all my false understanding of him and of myself that I can please Him.  I have to see how utterly spiritually poor, impoverished and critically ill I am to be in the right place.

I must be willing to lay everything down on the altar and sacrifice it to Jesus.  I have to die to myself – willingly.

If there is something that I am holding back from Him and afraid to trust Him about – I have an idol – and I have a lot more work to do.

His perfect love drives out all fear.  The one who fears has not been made perfect in love.

THEN…

The power of God will begin to move in my own heart in extremely powerful ways.

God’s power is fiercely strong in me when I look to Him to be the only source of my identity, the only source of my joy, the only source of my strength and the only purpose in my life.  I must want His will much more than my own – even if I don’t know exactly what His will might involve.  I trust Him.

My highest goal is to bring honor and glory to my Lord.

This is the secret of contentment, joy, peace and abundant life!

THE LITMUS TEST

If I am acting in my own strength and have sin in my heart, I will see multiple characteristics of the flesh predominantly in my heart on a daily basis – and in increasing measure (Galatians 5:19-21):

  • sexual immorality
  • impurity
  • debauchery (excessive use of alcohol/drugs/sex)
  • idolatry
  • witchcraft
  • hatred
  • discord
  • jealousy
  • fits of rage
  • selfish ambition
  • dissensions
  • factions
  • envy
  • drunkenness
  • orgies
  • and the like

If I have things in my heart from the above list, I have either not accepted the gift of Jesus Christ to pay for my sins and asked Him to be my Savior and Lord – or I am not living with Him as Lord.  I have grieved His Spirit and am clinging to sin more than to Jesus.

If His Spirit is in charge – I will see ALL of the fruit of the Spirit in my life daily and in increasing measure (Galatians 5:22):

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • gentleness
  • self-control
  • no envy
  • no boasting
  • no rudeness
  • no pride
  • no self-seeking
  • not easily angered
  • keep no record of wrongs suffered
  • forgiveness  (unforgiveness = wickedness, the parable of the servant whose master forgave him a great debt, and then the servant wouldn’t forgive his fellow servant a small debt – the master called him, “You wicked servant!”)
  • no delight in evil  (ie: unforgiveness, idolatry, control, pride, selfishness, lust and gossip)
  • rejoice with the truth
  • I protect my husband
  • I trust my husband (or want to move towards being able to rebuild trust) and even more, I trust my Lord
  • I hope in my husband and my Lord
  • I always persevere in my marriage by God’s strength

When I am living in the power of God’s Spirit – these things on this list will be a daily reality and become normal.  God does this.  I cannot do these things AT ALL on my own.  I just have to be plugged in to His power source, spending time in His Word, surrendering my heart, yielding my life completely and without reservation, praying constantly, praising Him constantly, meditation on His Word all throughout the day.

This is what a “normal” Christian life is supposed to look like!

Fighting Fair

Fighting Fair - Couple fighting
When your blood starts boiling and the steam starts escaping, resort to FIGHT.

Getting into the ring

Today’s guest post is from www.cuppa.wordpress.com

We have all been there I am sure. Fighting. Despite your best intentions or highest commitment to maintain a healthy happy relationship, it inevitably happens that we end up disagreeing with our other half. Why? I suspect because we were created as unique individuals who each bring their own history, experiences and expectations to the marriage relationship.

I used to leave our arguments feeling blue. I hated knowing that we wasted valuable time by disagreeing but I reckon I failed to see the bigger picture. Yes, arguments are a waste of time when:

  • It is all about me and getting my way
  • Proving a point
  • Winning

But there is hope. Fighting and arguments can really be a valuable opportunity for each of us to:

  • Learn more about our partners
  • See our husband’s leadership in action and to show respect for it
  • Resolving our concerns in a way that leaves both of us feeling more connected because of our shared victory.

Fighting fair

“The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances.” Martha Washington

My heart is for happy, healthy marriages that honour God while creating an environment for both spouses to become ALL that God has called them to be. Having said that, I honestly don’t see how we can hope to go through life and into marriage without ever experiencing friction or conflict. I do believe that the difference for us (women called to be wives and mothers of character) lies in the how…

A formula that works for us is to FIGHT.

  • Face each other and make eye contact. Address your issues and each other directly with courtesy and respect. I have found that it is much easier to run my mouth or speak without thinking when the ceiling is my only witness or when I find myself speaking to the bedside table. Looking at my SAMM reminds me both of the reward (our relationship) and the person (his feelings, thoughts and perspectives) during the conversation.
  • Ignore distractions. No phones, TV or children. If there are “distractions” around (feeding the children etc) it may not be the best time to have the conversation. Agree to discuss at a later stage and agree on a specific time (“Let’s talk about this after I put the SuperStar in bed”) I realise that not all disagreements are as easily postponed BUT it is a worthy challenge to accept.
  • Guard your tongue. Don’t resort to unkind, unflattering words in the heat of the battle. Once said it is impossible to take back so be very sure about what you want to say. Name-calling isn’t acceptable and neither is labeling or stereotyping. I am a quick thinker with a feisty personality and a heavy tongue so I understand if you think that this is a unachievable benchmark. I have also said things that should have been left unsaid and I have seen the hurt that words create. When you are tempted to name-call ask yourself “why”? I have found that when it is time to accept responsibility, it is easier for me to ‘deflect’ than to accept. Knowing what triggers your responses will help you to avoid the traps in future.
  • Halt the history.Avoid the “you always…” or “You never” statements. Look at what (SPECIFICALLY) you are disagreeing about and focus on discussing that one thing. Don’t allow the rabbit-holes to tempt you. Accept your part in the argument, take responsibility for your actions and own up when necessary. It is never easy but the alternative creates a messy, selfish marriage built on destructive arguments and unkind words.
  • Touch. I know… you think I am mad and delusional. Who wants to touch when you are fighting?? That is exactly the point. Reach out and break through the barriers of resistance and anger. It is far easier to remain in the moment without losing yourself or the objective when you are anchored by your partner.
  • Stay in it to win it!Don’t give up or bail out. stick with it. Neither of you will have real peace until your issue has been resolved.

“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Eph 4:26 NIV

My final say…

“Do everything in love.” 1 Cor 16:14 NIV

Yes. Fight with love. That means we should STOP looking at how WE are wronged or how WE should be accommodated. Love looks at the needs of the other person. Love looks at how to accommodate the other party. Love speaks with respect, it uses kind words even when it offers an honest perspective and love offers forgiveness. Love will help us to see opportunities to recognise our husband’s leadership and wisdom.

Love will help us to remove our selfish needs from the conversation as we build a strong, healthy, beautiful relationship that honours God.

Thanks for sharing my Cuppa.

FIGHTS formula from Laurie Kehler, notes and explanations by yours truly.
 
 
Related posts by Peacefulwife:
We Don’t Fight or Argue Anymore
 
An Anger Management Tip
 
Responding to Our Husbands’ Constructive Criticisms – VIDEO
 
Avoiding Pride and Self-righteousness as a Wife
 
If I am RIGHT, but Don’t Have Love and Respect, I am Wrong
 
Our Words Can Cause Catastrophic Damage
 
Husbands Share What Is Disrespectful to Them
 
Things that Fuel a Spirit of Discontentment in Me
 
Instead of Going on a Big, Emotional, Verbal Tirade
 

What Does God Say about Me?

Let’s just look at Romans through chapter 8.  There are obviously thousands of other promises and things that God says about us in the Bible.  But here are some of the most basic and foundational tenets of Scripture upon which we may build our lives, hope and faith with confidence.  It is time to tear out all that is ungodly in our thinking and build on the foundation of Christ and His Word alone.  HERE is my hope!  THIS is my identity!  THIS is my strength!  HERE is my power and purpose in life!

  • I am a sinner in desperate need of the gift of Christ.  I cannot earn favor with God.  I can’t be good enough.  My efforts at being good are THOUSANDS OF MILES off target.  There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.  Romans 3:11-12  For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  Romans 3:23
  • God is interested in my FAITH in what Jesus did for me.  His work on the cross for me and His resurrection (and my receiving His gift) is the only thing that makes me right with Him.  When a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.  However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.  Romans 4:4-5
  • Jesus paid my sin debt in full.  I owed Him infinitely more than I could never pay.  The words, “it was credited to him (Abraham)” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness – for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.  He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.  Romans 4:23-25
  • I have peace with God!  I have access to grace!  ME!?!?!?!?!  Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  Romans 5:1-2
  • When I hated God, Jesus died for me.  How much more will He do for me now that I love and serve Him as Lord!?!?   For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life?  Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received reconciliation (with God).  Romans 5:10-11
  • Jesus alone has the power to make me right with God.  I can trust Him.  He is God, He is not a man that He should lie.  When God is satisfied with what Jesus did on my behalf, who on earth am I to question if Jesus’ blood was adequate to cover my sin?  Am I above God?  For just as through the disobedience of the one man (Adam) the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man (Jesus) the many will  be made righteous.  Romans 5:19
  • I am dead to sin when I am living for Christ and trusting Him for my salvation.  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Romans 6:2-3  Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Romans 6:11
  • I am not a slave to sin anymore.  I am a slave to righteousness!  I am FREE from the power of sin and death!  He is my Master.   Our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.  Romans 6:6-7   Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.  Romans 6:14   You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.  Romans 6:18
  • God desires me to live for Him and bear fruit for Him, fruit that will last.  God has beautiful purposes for me – to bring Him great glory and praise!  So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to Another, to Him Who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.
  • I am not condemned by God!  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law (salvation by my own efforts) was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so He condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.  Romans 8:1-4
  • I can have supernatural life and peace!  Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.  Romans 8:5-9
  • I am a daughter of the King of kings and Lord of lords!  I have no reason to fear! I am a co-heir with Christ!  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by Him we cry, “Abba, (Daddy).” … Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.  Romans 8:15-17
  • There are great rewards coming in heaven for me that will make the suffering of this life look like nothing!  I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  Romans 8:18
  • I am not in this alone, I have a strong Helper.    The Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express…. the Spirit intercedes for the saints (those who love Christ) in accordance with God’s will.  Romans 8:26-27
  • I cannot lose!  I will be victorious regardless of past, current or future circumstances or suffering!  God purposes to make me be more and more like Christ.  God knew me from the beginning of time.  He called me by name.  He made me right with Himself through Jesus.  He will glorify me one day in heaven.  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son… and those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.  What, then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He Who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?  Romans 8:28-32
  • I am accepted.  I will never be abandoned.  I am safe and secure in my Lord’s love!  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:35,37-39

The Snare of People-Pleasing

We are continuing our series about ways that controlling people try to control others.  You can check out the posts about control and boundaries, the trying to manipulate others with guilt, and playing the martyr from earlier in the week.  Today’s topic is how we sometimes try to manipulate others and maintain control by being  people-pleasers.

Is “peace” at any cost a good thing?  Is it really peace?

PEOPLE PLEASING

Being a “People-Pleaser” SOUNDS like a virtue, right?    I mean, isn’t it great to try to make everyone be happy with you and not have people angry at you?  The Bible says we are supposed to live in peace as far as it depends on us, after all.  It is easy for people-pleasers to take certain scriptures and believe that what we are doing is godly. But often, we have a very warped definition of love and we trust self more than God and feel we have to be “in charge,” not understanding God’s sovereignty and not submitting fully to Christ as Master.

Here is a list (from Vickie Champion – a psychologist/life coach) of attributes of people pleasers. I have not researched her methods and approach.  So I am not endorsing her counseling techniques, but this list may be helpful.

Here are 52 Ways to Recognize the Chronic, Ingrained People Pleaser…

The perpetual people pleaser…

1   Always avoid conflicts or even disagreements.

2   Makes it a habit to say yes when he or she wants to say no.

3   Constantly worries about hurting others’ feelings.

4   Has no idea what their dreams or goals are.

5   Feels they are never “good” enough.

6   Would rather be nice and perfect than happy.

7   Functions totally from “shoulds.”

8   Assures they always do more than their share.

9   Rarely makes decisions, putting it off on anyone else to do it.

10  Is baffled by the concept, take it easy and relax.

11  Confuses being “needed” with being “loved.”

12  Has a never-ending time management problem.

13  Avoids giving themselves credit for anything.

14  Makes it a practice to please strangers and neglect loved ones.

15  Easily attracts people who need to be rescued and consoled.

16  Strongly believes they need to “do” something to be “loved” or even “accepted.”

17  Is very insecure about their abilities, knowledge or just about anything they do.

18  Routinely operates on auto pilot.

19  Jumps to volunteer, especially for jobs that no one else will do.

20  Feels exhausted from always trying to be “perfect.”

21  Has a huge fear of letting their friends, family and even strangers down.

22  Almost always feel undeserving.

23  Thinks nothing of telling lies to not rock the boat.

24  Overpromises.

25  Constantly seeks approval from others, but could care less about their own opinions.

26  Overapologizes.

27  Wastes time with people who really don’t care or consider their needs.

28  Think they are solely responsible for others’ happiness.

29  Are scared to death of being called selfish, even for an instant.

30  Rarely, if ever, asks for help or accepts help.

31  Constantly suppresses anger, fearing rejection.

32  Would much rather be nice than be real.

33  Has no desire to listen and follow their intuition.

34  Continuously holds back from saying what they really think and feel.

35  Often feels trapped.

36  Are scared to death of being wrong or taking any kind of risk.

37  Reduces their own anxiety by focusing on others’ needs.

38  Comes unglued easily when under pressure.

39  Has plenty of regrets.

40  Tries to provide and control everything in the relationship without considering their own feelings and needs.

41 Are willing to bend over backwards to make unhappy, self-centered, controlling people feel better about themselves.

42  Becomes paralyzed with little nightmares we make up about “if we said and did this, they will say and do that.”

43  Is extremely critical of themselves.

44  Has a really hard time accepting kindness from others.

45  Has poor problem-solving skills.

46  Is unable to direct or supervise others.

47  Feels guilty about not accomplishing enough or not being able to make everyone happy.

48  Runs on the praise and appreciation of other people.

49  Seldom, if ever, expresses an opinion of their own.

50  Is secretly terrified of being “found out” that they are not as good as they appear to others.

51  Displays a bland personality. They don’t want to appear interesting, unique, or challenging. Nope, too risky.

52  Wonders why everyone seems to take advantage of them and why they get little respect?

WAS I EVER A PEOPLE-PLEASER?

YEP!!!!!!!!!!  I sure was.  This mindset was another core part of my sinful heart and a big part of why I was controlling and disrespectful.  That probably seems contradictory that a people-pleaser would be a controlling and disrespectful wife.  But I was more concerned about pleasing strangers and people outside of my family than my husband.  I didn’t want my husband to be mad at me – EVER.  But I also didn’t realize that he actually was upset with me a lot because he didn’t say how he felt – he was so distant.

I was ALWAYS worried about what other people thought and would play conflicts over and over every waking moment for weeks and months trying to decide what I could have/should have said.

I thought if I was NICE enough and kind enough that I could keep people from being mad at me.  (Have you ever worked in a retail pharmacy?  Yeah.  This strategy got me some customer service awards, but it doesn’t work on everyone!  Some people are going to be angry at me.  It won’t matter what I do.  Well, if I gave them drugs illegally, they might be happy with me, but then I will have other problems!)

I was terrified of conflict. Lots, but not all, of the things on this list applied to me.

PEOPLE-PLEASING = IDOLATRY!!!!!

People pleasing is an insidious form of idolatry, unfortunately – and it brings a whole host of other sins along with it – as idolatry always does!  I white wash it and try to believe that my motives are pure – and that it is good not to ever have someone be upset with me.  But my true motives are not pure at all.  What I am really doing is:

  • putting the approval of others above the approval of God (and often above the approval of my husband).  This is idolatry!
  • fearing men (people) rather than fearing God in a proper, respectful, healthy way. I am allowing others to control me instead of making Christ truly Lord and Master.
  • attempting to have peace on a false premise (doing anything to prevent others from being upset) instead of on the truth of God’s Word (love God, love others).
  • I fear the anger of other people and base my behavior on avoiding the possibility of some person’s anger instead of living to honor God.
  • BEING DISHONEST.  I am not saying how I feel.  I am not saying what I want. I   am not saying what I don’t want and then I am resentful of other people for “making” me do what I don’t want to do.  Then I can’t forgive them for my feeling obligated to do things for them and am tied up with the sin of unforgiveness, too!  WHEW!
  • Unforgiveness may seem small – but it is a huge sin!  The Bible teaches that even allowing anger/resentment to continue over one night gives the enemy a foothold.  Imagine what happens when unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment take deep root and grow unchecked for YEARS!
  • avoiding saying “no” because I am not strong enough to say no to things I don’t want to do.  I am allowing others to be responsible for me instead of being responsible for myself before God.  That is poor stewardship and it won’t wash before our holy God!  He will hold me accountable for my own behavior, sins and actions.  He will hold others accountable for theirs.
  • instead of being arrogantly prideful – I am prideful in a false-humility kind of way.  I put myself down and feel unworthy and speak terrible things about myself in my mind and to others.  I do not believe God’s Word about who I am in Christ.  I do not acknowledge  that I am made in the image of God and am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I do not acknowledge that my purpose in life is to glorify God.  I do not allow God’s power to flood my soul and fill me to empower me to be the godly woman God has designed me to be.  I stay in a prison of my own making, feeling sorry for myself, wallowing in my unworthiness, wasting my true potential, burying my talents in the dirt.  I don’t really believe I am a daughter of the King,  and I go voluntarily sit in the dungeon instead of at the King’s table.
  •  I have not fully yielded my heart to Christ as LORD.
  • REFUSING TO HAVE FAITH IN GOD.
  • giving up my influence authority in my marriage by refusing to speak up about my desires, my needs, my wants and my perspective.  My marriage and family suffer when I don’t know my mind, don’t know my feelings, don’t know my desires and don’t share my important perspective.  How can my husband lead properly if I am not fulfilling my responsibilities and providing important information for him to make the best decisions?
  • refusing to have any dreams.   I do need to die to myself and live for Christ.  But when I am living for Christ, He will give me dreams, desires, goals and His will.  I will be full of life, zeal, purpose, joy, peace, love and all the fruit of the Spirit.
  • setting a very negative emotional/spiritual temperature for the family.  Everyone is affected by my depressed mood, my negativity, my hopelessness, my anxiety, my fear, my worry and my lack of God’s presence.
  • setting an ungodly example of femininity and marriage for my children.
  • idolizing “being nice” instead of loving God and loving people.
  • my motives are fear based, not love based.
  • avoiding obeying God’s Word about how to handle conflict  when I am sinned against. Matthew 7:1-5 and Matthew 18:16-18. I am to go to the person who sinned against me (NOT to other people in gossip!) and tell them their sin (gently, humbly, respectfully, lovingly and only after I have repented of any sin in my life).  If they do not listen, I am to take another believer with me as a witness and confront them gently, respectfully and lovingly – and if they will not listen to two people, the Bible says they are to go before the church and if they will not repent, they are to be shunned.  I don’t know many churches that actually practice church discipline anymore.  But, we can do the first few steps.  Unfortunately, most believers today think it isn’t “nice” or isn’t “Christlike” to confront people about sin.  NOT SO!  Love DOES confront sin.  Love does not allow sin to go on and on wounding everyone.  Yes, it is hard!  Yes, it is uncomfortable.  But it is our responsibility to confront sin AFTER we have confronted and repented of ALL sin in our own life first!

WASN’T JESUS “NICE”?

We tend to think that Jesus was a “nice” pushover and a wimp.  We do that because He allowed Himself to be tortured and crucified for us – which actually was an act of great strength, sacrifice and submission to God and not at all the act of a coward, pushover or wimp.  But look at the way He handled Himself with those who opposed God.  He was not “nice.”  He was to the point.  He was strong.  He was love.  He had endless courage.  He stood up for holiness.  He threw tables over in the temple to defend His Father’s house as a house of prayer.  He rebuked people when they were sinning and arrogant about it.  He rebuked self-righteousness and hypocrisy.  He was not “nice” and trying to make everyone like Him at all costs.  He didn’t shrink back from speaking the truth.  He wasn’t afraid to say what He believed and He didn’t say “yes” when he wanted to say “no.”  He never sinned in His anger.  But He did have anger.  He did confront when necessary.  He did not cower from standing for the truth and what was right.

And look at how He will come in the clouds when He returns as the triumphant King of kings and Lord of lords.  He will be on a white horse with a sword coming from His mouth and He will kill all of His enemies with one Word from His mouth.

He is a holy God.  He is just.  He is righteous.  He is ALL-POWERFUL.  He is sovereign.  He does not tolerate sin.  And at the same time, He is love.  He is mercy and grace.  What an incredible combination of strength, power and love.

Being “nice” is really not part of being Christlike.  It is culturally acceptable.  But you can be “nice” to someone as you seethe with resentment.  You can be “nice” as you stew about how much you hate them or hate what you are doing for them.  Being nice does not = being godly.  And I don’t believe that being “nice” has anything to do with what Christ has commanded us to do. The two greatest commandments are to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength and we are to love others with God’s love. I John 4 says we cannot hate people and love God. And Jesus says in John 14:22-24 that anyone who loves Him will obey Him – in everything.

HOW TO SAY “NO.”

If someone is using guilt on you, THE WORST thing you can do is give the REASONS WHY you can’t do something.  They will almost always shoot down any reason and explain why that is not valid.  If you truly don’t want to do something, simply say, “I’m so sorry, I can’t.” And when they ask why, you just continue to say, “I can’t.”  Eventually, they will relent!

But it is also ok to just say

  • No, thanks!
  • I am not going to be able to do that.
  • Let me check with my husband first (if it is someone else asking for your time, money or efforts).

Remember – don’t get into a long drawn out debate or discussion with a controlling, emotional manipulator!  A brief answer of “no” that is pleasant and polite will suffice.  Then the other person is responsible for his/her reaction and emotions.

You cannot MAKE them be angry.  They choose to be angry or to hang on to anger.  That is their choice.  You do what is right in God’s eyes, and let other people handle their emotions.  Apologize if/when you sin against others, and try to live in peace.  But you are not responsible to make other people not angry or make them happy.  That is their own responsibility!

FREEDOM FROM PEOPLE-PLEASING

To be free from this idol.  I have to rip the idol out by the roots and be sure I am building only on the foundation of Christ and His Word.  I must build my life on His truth alone.  I completely repent of every sin.  I must face every fear and combat it with God’s truth, discarding all the lies.  I have to study God’s BIGNESS and sovereignty.  I must study how small I truly am.  I must see His power and my weakness.  He must become MORE and I must become less.  I totally yield my heart to His.  I give up my will for His.  I die to myself.  I live for Him as a living sacrifice every day.  I decide to fear God much, much more than I fear any person.  I decide to desire God’s approval WAY above any human’s approval.  And I decide to obey God’s Word and to abide in Him daily and feast on His Word and ask Him to fill me with His power to be the woman, wife and mother He desires me to be.

 

There is so much reason for HOPE!  Jesus is able to deliver us from the prison of being a people pleaser, or from being a martyr, or from being filled with worldly sorrow and guilt – from any sin.  And He is able to give us a life of joy, love, peace, patience and all the abundant spiritual riches of heaven!

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