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“I Thought God Was Like My Abusive Dad” – a Guest Post

A guest post by a sister in Christ who has had a very, very difficult life. I’m excited about what the Lord is doing in her life! Please pray with me for His continued total spiritual healing for her heart, mind, and soul:

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This is a good article (How Praying in Wrong Ways Destroyed My Faith in God – by Nikki) and it reminds me of something. I often prayed to God unbiblically and when I slip back into old mindsets, still can. What do I mean by this?

Without me realizing it, I prayed out of a lot of unbelief and distrust – unwittingly attributing characteristics to God that were that of my father and other authority figures who had been unjust or untrustworthy. There were many such figures in my life which made it hard to think from any other basis.

Additionally, because I had cried out to God during an abuse incident and did not hear any response from God nor witness any rescue come to pass soon after, I really didn’t trust God or think He could be relied upon to do anything about things that were of great concern to me. So I would pray from a place of doubt and mistrust with my feelings as the indicator as to what was, or was not God’s response.

I did not base my understanding of God on scripture but on my feelings which I trusted more. I regarded Christians who would insist on putting aside my feelings in favor of scripture as nuts, self-righteous Pharisees, and totally insensitive. And some of them did, indeed, fit that bill. They were in such a rush to offer the solution that they acted as if my wounds were inconsequential. And from my end, I was so hurt and felt so sorry for myself in the face of abuse and injustice that I was just not ready to value truth more than feelings or seek for anything beyond healing.

Consequently my relationship with God was often an arm wrestling match, with me trying to persuade an unwilling God to do what I needed or hoped He would or ought to do.

I saw God through the lens of my father who was very unwilling to do anything for me or to meet my needs, and whose stance towards me was one of devaluation and contempt. Dad despised women and had a very idolatrous relationship towards them; he saw women as withholding, manipulative, and whiny users and entrappers, which affected his attitude towards me. He was also a sex addict and so our home included some violation and being aware of things we ought not to have been exposed to.

As a result, my needs and feelings were invalidated and I often had to “prove” that what I wanted, needed, or felt was valid by arguing for it convincingly like some trial lawyer. I won mercy by extreme submissiveness and even prostrating myself, as if before a king with the power of life and death.

That our lives were full of drama is an understatement.

His judgements of me were always negative and tainted by his own deep bitterness, hatred, and unforgiveness of his mother. The result of all of this was a sort of idolatrous interpretative bias in my own heart as I struggled to come out from under all the nasty stuff my father had transferred onto me from his undealt with issues. And I had my own hurt and reaction to it and to feeling unloved and unwanted. I think that our reactions to such things are a combination of being sinned against and sinful responses which would of course include a sort of idolatry as our lives become about seeking what was denied us.

This can also result in anger at God who surely must have been a party to the whole thing, insofar as we might see things at the time they occurred and without any understanding of what God has already done in response to evil. Our focus in this head space is usually life in this world in the here and now and wanting to be happy. We are often unaware of God’s perspective being eternal and about right relationship with Him as the source of all life and joy. This makes it hard to grasp a larger picture.

So my prayer life and the lens of my heart was tainted by these things so that I was, in effect, praying to a version of God mixed with my father.

The idea that God was a loving and just Father did not compute for me and I found the idea revolting. One day, I decided to disregard my feelings and stand on what scripture said as a higher authority. I always felt filthy and unforgiven so I decided to stand on 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness – and believe that.

That little decision turned out to make a huge difference, and suddenly it seemed that the universe swung around and snapped into precise order and I was able to see clearly.

I realized at that moment that God was not obligated to respond to me if I continued to pray to Him as something He was not, rather than praying to Him according to the truth of who He was.

Hebrews 11:6 New King James Version (NKJV) says:

  • But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

And James 1:5-7 says

  • If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

I definitely needed my prayer life corrected and redirected by scripture and still do; praying by our emotions which tend to reinforce themselves, usually leads to a wilderness and brings despair and hopelessness as it tends to go in an ever tightening and defeating downward spiral.

Note from Peaceful Wife –

This dynamic with this dear sister’s dysfunctional relationship with her dad impacting her understanding of God is very common. We tend to assume that God is just like our earthly fathers and we have to be sure we separate the failings of our earthly fathers from our understanding of who God really is. We all need healing to some degree in this area, because none of us had perfect fathers. 

We can’t trust God if we have a warped, jaded picture of who He is, if we think He is evil and out to get us. So often, we end up getting Satan and God switched up in our minds. Not purposely, but we tend to attribute the evil attributes of Satan to God. It would be terrible to trust such a one.

We need to know who God really is and His genuine real character to be able to truly put our faith in Him. So it is important that we recognize any lies we may have embraced and that we learn to go to Scripture to find out the truth about who God is.

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If you would like to share your own skewed views of God and how that hurt your faith, you are welcome to. And if you want to share how you learned to reject the lies and receive God’s truth, we would love to hear that, as well. Or if you need prayer, you are welcome to share that here.

I, (Peaceful Wife), will be handling the comments, not the author of the post.

Much love!

RELATED

Trusting God to Heal the Scars of Sexual Abuse by Dawn Wilson

More posts on childhood abuse by Revive Our Hearts

Posts about abuse by www.gotquestions.org

Healing for Hopelessness about dealing with childhood wounds from my site www.peacefulsinglegirl.com.

What Are the Attributes of God? by www.gotquestions.org

Who Is God? video series by David Platt

** If you experienced severe trauma or abuse from your father, parents, an authority figure, someone in the church, or anyone else, please reach out for experienced, trustworthy, godly counsel – and to the Lord – to help you heal. And if you are not safe now, please reach out to the authorities if you can safely do so.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline Call 800-799-SAFE (7233). Staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Get information in more than 170 languages. You will hear a recording and may have to wait for a short time. Hotline staff offer safety planning and crisis help.

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

Handling an Unwanted Divorce with Christlikeness

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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.

SHARE

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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Should You Try to Please or Keep Your Husband at Any Cost?

Influencing an Unbelieving Husband for Christ

Should a Christian Wife Consider Separation?

FreeinChrist Fights Divorce with Heavenly Weapons

FreeinChrist Stands for Something Way Bigger Than Her Marriage

A Peaceful Divorced Wife – Kristen’s Story

A Divorce and Reconciliation Story – by The Restored Wife

Finding Contentment in Christ Alone in Painful Trials

How Can I Seriously Count Painful Times As Joy?

When Would I Not Submit to My Husband?

A Prayer to Change the Spiritual Atmosphere in the Home – by Radiant

Praying for Your Husband and Children

Finding Contentment in Christ Alone in Painful Trials

11 Reasons We Can’t Afford to Skimp on Thanksgiving and Praise to God

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

 

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Ps. 69:30

The more I know the Lord and the more I see of His goodness, character, and love, the more I spontaneously desire to praise and thank Him. It is a natural outpouring that results from understanding who God is and acknowledging all of the innumerable blessings He has given me. Truly, it is the only appropriate response for me as a believer in Christ to my kind, loving, generous, gracious Creator, Savior, and Lord.

Of course, some days praise and thanksgiving comes more easily than others. But whether I feel like giving praise and thanking God or not, there are many good reasons that I want to live a continual lifestyle of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. Thankfully, this is a choice of the will that I can make no matter how I may feel in the moment.

11 reasons I want to enthusiastically embrace praise and thanksgiving every single day:

  1. God alone is worthy of all of my praise and thanksgiving.
  2. God calls me, and all believers in Christ, to praise as a vocation – here on earth and in heaven.
    • God created people to praise and worship Him. (Isa. 43:21, Eph. 5:19, Heb. 13:15)
    • I am most joyous, fulfilled, and satisfied when I choose to live out my divine calling and purpose from God.
  3. It is God’s will for me to live in continual thanksgiving and praise. 
    • An attitude like this puts God and my problems in proper perspective and grows my faith.
    • God commands me, as a believer in Christ, to live in thanksgiving and praise because it greatly blesses me, it is an appropriate response to Him, and it honors Him. (Ps. 50:14, Ps. 99:5, Isa. 42:10, 1 Thess. 5:18)
  4. My praise for and thanksgiving to God align me with His good purposes and His will for my life and His kingdom.
    • I agree with God about His goodness and His wisdom when I praise and thank Him. (Col. 3:17)
    • This attitude paves the way for me to walk in joyful obedience to the Lord.
    • My praise and thanksgiving allow God to shift my desires to match His own and to soften my heart to His will.
  5. My praise and thanksgiving to the Lord help to transform wrong, sinful thinking.
    • It is part of allowing God to renew my mind. (Rom. 12:2)
    • When I am boasting in God, I am not boasting in myself. God opposes my human pride but gives grace to me when I am humble. (James 4:6)
    • I acknowledge that He is God and He has all the rights of being Lord and I do not. I learn to lean on His wisdom rather than my own human wisdom. (Prov. 3:5-6)
    • I learn to develop an eternal perspective rather than a temporal one – to see how God will use all things for my ultimate good and His ultimate glory. (Rom. 8:28-29)
    • Praise and thanksgiving are a huge part of how we take our thoughts captive for Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)
  6. God inhabits the praises of His people. 
    • My praise attracts God, makes Him feel welcome, and draws me closer to Him and Him closer to me. (Ps. 22:3, 1 Pet. 2:9)
  7. My praise and gratitude to God create a spirit of faith and trust in me. (Prov. 3:5-6, Heb. 11:6)
    • As I see God for who He really is and all that He has done, I realize I have no reason to fear, unbelief, doubt. My fears melt away as I grasp His greatness and as I taste His goodness. (1 John 4:18)
    • When I remind myself of God’s faithfulness in the past, I see that He will also be faithful in my current and future circumstances. (Ps. 42:6)
  8. Thanksgiving is how God instructs us to approach Him in prayer. 
    • God hates my grumbling/complaining/arguing because it is a clear sign of unbelief and lack of faith.  (Num. 14:27)
    • God responds graciously to my gratitude, trust, and faith. (Phil. 4:6)
  9. Demons feel very unwelcome when there is praise and thanksgiving to God going on. 
    • My praise and thanksgiving to the Lord is a spiritual weapon. As I sing praises to the Lord, evil spirits flee. (1 Sam. 16:23)
    • Sometimes trials come from the enemy to test my faith – just like with Job – to prove that I will turn against the Lord and stop praising Him if I suffer temporarily in this life. (Job 1:9-12)
    • May I never give the enemy of my soul any occasion to mock the Lord! But may I continue to praise God and trust Him no matter what may happen here on earth, knowing He is with me and He is for me and that no weapon formed against me shall prosper! (Isa. 54:17)
    • When I stand on God’s Word and proclaim His truth and praise out loud in faith in Jesus, demonic opposition cannot stand against me. I don’t have power against demons/Satan in my own strength, but in the Name and power of Jesus, I can resist the enemy with the truth about God and the truth of God’s Word. (James 4:7)
  10. Praise and thanksgiving are powerful spiritual prescriptions for depression, discouragement, anxiety, and fear.
    • When David wrote the Psalms, he poured out his heart, burdens, trials, and heavy emotions. Then he always reminded himself to praise God, even when he faced humanly impossible circumstances and his very life was in jeopardy. (Ps. 42:5)
    • It is impossible to continue to feel depressed, defeated, lonely, or discouraged when I set my eyes firmly on the Lord in all His glory and I see His goodness, love, and provision for me! God is infinitely greater than my circumstances and other people.
  11. My sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord open the floodgates of heaven to countless blessings:

NOTE – Trials are a signal to me that I need to greatly increase my praise and thanksgiving to the Lord to allow much more of His Spirit, wisdom, and power to flow into my life and circumstances. My response when under any kind of spiritual attack or warfare must include much praise and thanksgiving to the Lord!

 

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness!

Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

 

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How has God revealed these truths to you in your own walk with Him?

RELATED

Bible Study Tools definition of Praise

Why Is Praising God Important? by www.gotquestions.org

What Does It Mean to Praise God? by www.gotquestions.org

What Does the Bible Say about Thankfulness/Gratitude? by www.gotquestions.org

What Does the Bible Say about Ingratitude/Unthankfulness? by www.gotquestions.org

 

Killing Bitterness

Photo by Wang Xi on Unsplash

I have quite a few posts on bitterness – but it has been awhile since I talked about this critical topic. So let’s do a refresher together! We can’t possibly have God’s supernatural peace if we cling to bitterness. It is God’s will that all of His children be completely free from this snare.

Bitterness is one of the most toxic of all spiritual poisons.

Definition of Bitterness – from www.gotquestions.org:

Bitterness is resentful cynicism that results in an intense antagonism or hostility toward others… Bitterness refers to a mental or emotional state that corrodes or “eats away at.” Bitterness can affect one experiencing profound grief or anything that acts on the mind in the way poison acts on the body. Bitterness is that state of mind that willfully holds on to angry feelings, ready to take offense, able to break out in anger at any moment.

Bitterness can be held against anyone – other people, God, or ourselves. All of it is toxic.

What Does Bitterness Do?

Bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, and hatred open the door of our hearts to the enemy. They give him a “foothold.” Once I leave the door cracked for him long enough, he can eventually get into my heart and mind and set up a spiritual base camp. Then he can attack me and those around me through my thoughts, my words, and my actions as I succumb to the temptation of hatred.

One person’s bitterness can end up becoming contagious and may “defile many.” Bitterness spreads like gangrene in a family, a church, a community, or even across an entire nation.

Bitterness leads to greater and greater sin. When it goes unchecked, it eventually leads to hatred, malice, threats, violence, and even suicide/murder.

Bitterness destroys our fellowship with God, our fellowship with other people, and our witness for Christ. Our bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit and repels other people. It is prickly and unpleasant to be around.

Our bitterness teaches our children to be bitter, as well. Our children learn from our example and our own root of bitterness begins to grow in their hearts. They learn very unhealthy and dysfunctional ways of relating to people and will learn our destructive approach.

  • “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Eph. 4:26-27
  • See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; Heb. 12:15
  • For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:20

Killing Bitterness:

Let’s talk about how to tear out every “root of bitterness” in our hearts so that it does not destroy us.

  1. We must identify every bitter thought we have in our minds and hearts. I suggest writing them all down whenever you notice you are feeling resentful. Try to take a block of time and come up with every single angry, bitter, resentful, unforgiving thought you can find in your thinking. We can’t tear things out until we know what all of the bitter roots are. I would love to try to get through this part of the process fairly quickly. Dwelling on bitter thoughts for very long is not going to be healthy.
  2. We must test our thoughts. I can’t just accept every thought I have. Sometimes my anger has a correct basis and other times the basis of my anger is faulty.
    • Has there simply been a misunderstanding?
    • Could my thinking be skewed, sinful, and/or unbiblical?
      • Is it possible that the reason for my bitterness and resentment stems from unbiblical thinking on my part? Am I upset with someone because I feel they expect something of me that they shouldn’t, but it actually is a biblical expectation they have of me?
        • Am I idolizing this person? Is it possible that I am expecting him/her to meet needs in my life that truly only Jesus can meet?
        • Do I expect my husband to be responsible for my happiness?
        • Am I idolizing my happiness?
        • Am I justifying sin in my own heart because I am in pain?
        • Have I been deceived by ungodly thinking from my culture?
          • Maybe I feel really angry with my husband simply because he is a man and many women hate all men today. Is that a reasonable cause for me to be bitter?
          • Maybe I believe subconsciously that women are superior to men and that is why I feel resentful toward my husband?
          • Maybe I have been wrongly taught that the Bible teaches that women are inferior to men and that is why I feel bitter toward God or toward my husband.
          • Maybe I don’t think God’s promises are for me or I don’t feel like God is close to me, and I feel bitter because I don’t know who God really is and what is true, sound doctrine?
        • Am I taking responsibility for my own emotions and my own spiritual wellbeing?
        • Am I in right standing with the Lord, myself? Have I allowed God to help me examine my own spiritual eyes to see if there is a beam there (Matt. 7:1-5)?
      • If something like this is the real issue, then I need to take the time to correct my skewed thinking or address my own sinful thoughts (There is an entire chapter on this subject in “The Peaceful Mom – Building a Healthy Foundation on Christ As Lord” that is available on Amazon, Christian Book, and Barnes and Noble online. The whole first half of the book would be helpful for any believing woman in Christ, even those who are not moms.)
    • Do I have righteous or unrighteous anger?
      • Was I genuinely sinned against by someone?
      • Where are my motives now? Are they righteous or unrighteous?
      • If my anger is righteous, what does God desire me to do with it? How can I honor Him?
      • If my anger is unrighteous, am I willing to repent to the Lord, and possibly to the other person if appropriate?
      • I can remember that I don’t have to trust someone if they are not trustworthy. Forgiveness is not the same thing as trust. Forgiveness is an unconditional command the Lord gives all believers but trust of another person is conditional and broken trust must be rebuilt.
  3. Wherever we have sinned, we repent to the Lord and to others.
  4. If we have been sinned against, we decide to give the situation to the Lord and seek to honor His wisdom and His way of handling things.
    • If someone has truly sinned against me, I can acknowledge that what the person did was wrong and was not okay. I can acknowledge my pain and God’s pain. I can agree with God that what that person did was sin and that it needs to be paid for. I can understand that there will be justice in the end – either Jesus’ blood will adequately cover that sin when that person repents or that person will pay for that sin forever in hell, according to God’s Word. And I can desire to see that person repent and be in right relationship with God and with me.
    • God says that vengeance belongs to Him. He will repay. I can acknowledge that ultimately, all sin is against God. And I can accept that it is God’s place to take vengeance and to exact justice on other people.  (Rom. 12:19)
    • If someone has committed a crime against me, I need to report it to the proper authorities. We have God-given authorities in the government, the police, at church, at work, etc… to help protect people from being mistreated and abused. I can let go of bitterness and forgive someone for rape, murder, stealing, etc… in the power of the Holy Spirit, but the police still need to know about it and that person needs to face appropriate earthly consequences.
    • God gives us a specific framework for handling conflict within the Body of Christ. We should approach someone else’s sin/hurtful actions against us in the way that God prescribes.
    • I ask the Holy Spirit to empower me to forgive this person who hurt me. Not because they deserve forgiveness. None of us deserve forgiveness. But I forgive because I want to obey God and continue to be in right relationship with Him.
    • I can respectfully ask for what I need and for the person to stop sinning against me. I can respect myself properly in God’s eyes – but I can do this without sinning against the person who hurt me.
    • I may have to put up appropriate boundaries if a person refuses to stop sinning against me, in accordance with God’s Word and as I follow the leading of the Spirit. But I can be free from any grudges, bitterness, or resentment as I choose to live in the Spirit.
  5. We replace the bitter thoughts with God’s love, God’s perspective, kindness, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and God’s wisdom.
    • I can ask God to cleanse me of every sin in my own life and then invite His Spirit to fill me completely and to empower me to approach this difficult person and situation in His ability not in my sinful flesh.
    • I can pray and invite God to do something amazing in that person’s life for God’s glory.
    • I can pray for God’s healing in me and for God to use this painful trial to help me grow spiritually and to bring honor to the Lord in my life.
    • I can take my thoughts captive for Christ and refuse to think bitter, evil thoughts.
    • I can focus on Philippians 4:8 kinds of good things in my life.
    • I can count my trial as joy.
    • I can seek to have God’s eternal perspective.
    • I can write down kind thoughts and prayers of blessing over the person who sinned against me and plead for God to reach their souls and to rescue them from the enemy and to heal them. (Isa. 61:1Luke 6:28, Rom. 12:17-21)
    • I can ask God what good things He may desire me to do in response to the evil so that I can overcome evil with good. (Rom. 12:21)
    • I can remember that people are not my real enemies. My real enemies are spiritual enemies and this is ultimately a spiritual battle for which I must use the spiritual weapons God gives me.(Eph. 6:10-17)
    • Dealing with a Broken Relationship (YouTube video about how to think and pray for someone who has broken fellowship with you and you want to see reconciliation.)

NOTE – If you are dealing with an abusive relationship and you or your children are not safe, please seek appropriate, experienced, godly help in person ASAP.

Lord,

We need Your help to get rid of our bitterness. It is Your will that we be completely free from all sin, including this one. Shine Your Light on our hearts, help us to open up the darkest parts to You. Help us to identify and tear out every thought that is lifting itself up against the knowledge of Christ in our hearts! Help us to use the spiritual weapons and truth You give us to be set free from all bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness so that we can grow like crazy in our faith and love for You. Fill us with Your Spirit. Help us to allow Jesus to live in and through us and to be glorified in our thinking, our motives, our words, and our actions.

Amen!

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How has God helped you to get rid of bitterness? You are welcome to send me a response on my Contact Page if you have something you think might be helpful in a post for our sisters.

 

Verses about Getting Rid of Bitterness

  • Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Prov. 10:12
  • Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Rom. 12:2
  • Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Eph. 4:31-32
  • But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Col. 3:8
  • Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Col. 3:13
  • If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:20
  • Verses about bitterness
  • Verses about anger
  • Verses about forgiveness

What Does the Bible Say about Bitterness? by www.gotquestions.org

What Does the Bible Say about Revenge? by www.gotquestions.org

Righteous VS Unrighteous Anger

Posts about Forgiveness  from my blog

Respect, Submission, Forgiveness, and Trust – a Peaceful Wife Youtube video to clarify each of these concepts and to clarify confusion

To Trust or Not to Trust – a Peaceful Wife Youtube video

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

How Satan Would Love to Destroy Your Marriage through Your Thought Life

Posts about Dealing with Conflict – from my blog

Becoming Fearless

Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

 

Today, let’s talk about the beauty of a godly woman who doesn’t yield to fear (1 Pet. 3:4-6) This is something the Lord has been teaching me, personally, this year through quite a few trials. I am still learning, but He has brought me a long way! I just had to share these treasures with my precious sisters.

My natural temptation is to look at difficult circumstances, frustrating actions/words from other people, or the news and to completely freak out when bad things happen. My temptation is to react in fear and to run and hide or to try to protect myself in my own wisdom. But when fear is my motive, I will make destructive choices every time.

To be fearless, I can’t:

  • Center my life on the details of the storm of my current circumstances.
  • Obsess about what terrible things might happen.
  • Try to figure everything out myself.
  • Depend on my feelings or past experiences as sources of absolute truth.
  • Try to control things, people, or God to get them to do what I think is best at the time.
  • Become consumed by what other people are doing or saying – or not doing and saying.
  • Resort to human wisdom or human solutions.
  • Listen to the lying voice of the enemy who wants me to give in to hopelessness, discouragement, distraction, depression, and the flesh.

To be fearless, I must keep my focus fully on Jesus and depend on Him to lead me and to do the heavy lifting!

To be fearless, I need to know who Jesus is and know who I am in Him. My security has to be in Him alone.

I don’t have to be shaken. I don’t have to crumble into worry, fear, and anxiety.

Even when things do not go the way I had planned, and I don’t understand what is happening, and even when my heart is hurting and broken, I can stand on the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ. He alone will never leave me and never fail me. He will sustain me in supernatural ways – even in the midst of my greatest fears. He is my Good Shepherd. He has provisions for me that I can’t know specifically ahead of time. But I can know that He has them and He knows what to do! He has ways of handling circumstances, people, and my own heart and mind that are vastly superior to any scheme I could concoct.

I am in the palm of God’s loving hand! My husband and my children are in the palm of His loving hand!

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Tim. 1:7 ESV

Fear is not the abundant life Jesus died to provide for us. His victory over sin, death, and the grave provides a victorious life. He gives us His own Spirit. He gives us His presence. He gives us access to the very Holy of Holies in heaven – 24/7!?! He gives us the death, burial, resurrection, power, and authority of Christ. He gives us thousands of great and precious promises! Why should I be afraid?

If we could only grasp even just the following promises God gives us in Romans chapter 8 alone, what spiritual strength we would have!

  • There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Rom. 8:1
  • For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Rom. 8:6 
  • For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons. Rom. 8:15
  • (We are)…heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Rom. 8:17
  • The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Rom. 8:26
  • The Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Rom. 8:27
  • 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
  • For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, Rom. 8:29
  • 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 with him graciously give us all things? Rom. 8:31-32
  • No, in all these things (various hardships) we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Rom. 8:37 
  • For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 8:38-39

If I am willing, each new scary thing that happens is an opportunity for me to learn to stand more firmly on God’s Word, His love, and His truth. It is a faith-stretching moment. It is a chance to lay my specific fears down before God and to entrust them to Him. It is also a chance to lay my life down as a living sacrifice to Him (Rom. 12:1-2). It is an opportunity for me to invite God to work supernaturally in my heart, in other people’s lives, and in circumstances for His glory. It is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me to shine for Christ in the darkness and to experience the miraculous provision of God in that exact situation.

I have an incredible Savior and Lord who is going to accomplish His good purposes in my life and in this world as I trust Him!

Lord,

Transform us. Melt away our fear with Your supernatural, amazing love. Lift up our heads. Let us see that You are coming soon! Help us use our time wisely and let each of us be prepared to stand before You without regrets. Empower us to be the godly women You call us to be. Let us love, honor, and respect our husbands. Let us bless them. Let us love, bless, and nurture our children, teaching them Your truth and Your ways. Let us share the Gospel and love and life of Christ with those around us.

Let us be faithful to all that You desire us to do. Empower us to be good stewards of all of the resources, talents, and gifts You have given us. Help us become women of fervent prayer, women who know the Word and handle it rightly.  Use us to stand in the gap for our husbands, children, churches, communities, nations, and the world. Use us – in the power of the Holy Spirit – to help storm the gates of hell to reach those who are perishing. Use us to be salt and light in a decaying, dark world.

We praise and thank You for all You have done, all You are doing and all You will do in our lives! We rejoice and sing songs of adoration to You!

Make each of us fearless in Christ by Your power and for Your glory!

Amen!

RELATED SONG

Francesca Battistelli’s –The Breakup Song (breaking up with fear)

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What are some ways God has shown you to be fearless? We’d love to hear about it!

RELATED POSTS

How to Have a Relationship with Christ

How to Stay Filled with the Spirit

Fear Fuels Our Need to Control

Fully Laying Down My Fears about My Husband 

God Leads a Wife from MAJOR Fear to Strong Faith

 

A Wife Shares about God’s Blessings from the Flooding after Hurricane Harvey

Photo Credit wikimedia.org

Note – right now, it looks like the path of Florence may come directly over the Columbia, SC area where we live. I’m not sure how significant the impacts will be, but I appreciate your prayers for those in harm’s way (especially along the coast) and also for our linemen, first responders, meteorologists, and government leaders. I also appreciate your patience if I happen to not have internet access or electricity for a bit. 

I’m so thankful for Nina’s willingness to share her story in response to my prayer for those who are facing hurricane Florence and other major storms, earthquakes, and trials this week. :

My husband and I experienced flooding in our home during Harvey last year. The frame of our house is now covered with His Word written by the hands of those who helped us through. I wouldn’t change a thing as we saw God’s providence and provision throughout the whole ordeal. He is a good, good, Father.

It was not the rain that flooded us, but the release of tremendous amounts of water from a nearby lake (the capacity of an Olympic swimming pool per second!!) that flooded us. We only had a moment’s notice to get out.

We had no idea how high the water would get. We were able to take essential paperwork with us (passports, social security cards, etc.) and our dogs, but everything else we put up on counters and just counted all the furniture as lost. We had no time to load up a U-haul!

That night as the waters rose, I lay in bed at our friend’s house remembering all the treasured pictures of my son and family and just prayed that they were up high enough. I knew I there were things I had forgotten to put up high.  After the water receded and we went back into our home, I didn’t care about anything in there that was lost, except one thing that had fallen from a table into the water…..a memory book from my son’s high school baseball team his senior year. In it was a beautiful letter he had written to me.

I held that book and looked at all the ruined pages of pictures and priceless words he had written to me and I just wept.  But God, in His perfect sweetness, reminded me that those words and pictures were still in my heart and one day, even those treasures were incomparable to the priceless gift He had given me in His Son. Yet, through a series of events, even that book was replaced by a friend (whom I hadn’t even seen or spoken to for about 7 years).  She had seen my tearful post about losing it, contacted the photo company that printed it, purchased a new one and mailed it to me!  There are so many stories I could share about how God comforted, provided, and blessed us throughout the ordeal.  He blew us away over and over. He truly was with us when we passed through the waters!

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isa. 43:2

Going through Harvey was also especially powerful for my husband. He watched God provide for us from the simplest things like needing a bag of ice (and a golf cart with literally drove up as we were discussing needing ice for our cooler!) to huge things like a restaurant owner (where we eat on Sundays after church) offer us one of his rental houses free for as long as we needed it. God provided for us every single step of the way! There is too much to recount! It was amazing and humbling.

This picture with Psalm 46:10 spoke to me greatly…..in the heap of our big mess, He was letting us know not to worry because He’s got us. :).

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.” Ps. 46:10

And this picture below is super special because the scripture was written by our good friend, Ephesien, who works for some missionaries we visit each year in Haiti.  He just happened to be in Texas visiting during the hurricane.  My husband still tears up when he thinks about our Haitian brother’s handwriting of God’s Word on our walls.

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Our church actually became a shelter and quickly organized teams to help those in need. We had about 40 people from our church to muck out the house as soon as the water receded. It was a beautiful sight to see the body of Christ come together! Many affected people in our community have come to Christ as a result. Praise God!

For those of you facing this hurricane, know that your God is stronger and He will be with you through it, bringing beauty out of havoc it tries to wreak.

God sees you, hears you, and He won’t let you go.

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If you have been through a big trial or storm and would like to share how God used it to bless you, we’d love to hear about it! Your story might be exactly what another sister in Christ needs to hear to help encourage them to trust the Lord in their own difficult situation.

RELATED
Finding Real Joy in the Midst of a Painful Trial

Rethinking How We Pray about Hurricanes

Rethinking How to Pray in the Face of a Major Hurricane or Natural Disaster

Photo by Victor Rodriguez on Unsplash

 

It is very tempting for us to just want to pray a hurricane away.

It is certainly fine to ask God to spare us from a hurricane or from other kinds of disasters. Many times, He has diverted a storm so that it didn’t cause all of the destruction it could have caused. And we rejoice in His power to calm the storm!

But I would love for us to ask God for much more than that.

Let’s ask Him for His greatest possible glory in the midst of this storm. And let’s ask Him what He wants to do and how He wants us to pray.

If that means for the storm to turn, that would be amazing. But what if God intends to use this storm as a wake up call for many people? What if He wants to use it to heal marriages and families? What if He wants to use it to heal the division in our communities? What if He wants to use it to get people to stop and really evaluate what is important in life? What if He wants to use it to bring many people into the Kingdom of Christ?

What if a great storm is actually merciful?

What if the storm is an answer to our prayers for our country to turn back to the Lord?

There have been revivals that take place in areas that have been hit by hurricanes and disasters in the past. There have been communities that have come together. There have been Christians who have been able to reach people they couldn’t have reached otherwise because they meet the needs of those impacted by a disaster.

God often used storms and disasters in the Bible to accomplish His will. To lead people to the place He wanted them to go. To prepare their hearts to listen to His voice. Or to get their attention. A great storm can also be a reminder that our security is truly in Christ alone, not in anything else.

Lord,

Use the trials we are facing now to do the most eternal good possible. We tend to look only at the physical and the here and now. Help us to see with Your eyes. Help us to hear anything You want to speak to us in the storm.

Florence and Olivia (and many other hurricanes in recent weeks and in coming weeks) are huge and powerful. We want to see people spared from harm. We don’t want to see property damaged or people hurt or killed. We ask for Your mercy over those who are in harm’s way with hurricanes and with so many earthquakes around the world. And then there are many people in harm’s way because of wars and violence. The trials going on right now are too many to even count. So much human suffering is happening around the globe.

But what we desire most is Your greatest possible glory and the greatest possible harvest for Your kingdom!

We invite You to use all of these disasters and trials for Your good purposes in our individual families, our churches, our communities, our states, and our nations.

Show us what You want us to do. Show us how to be cooperative with our husbands if we are in the path of a major trial and how to become a stronger, more united team than ever. Let us walk in Your supernatural peace as we lay our anxieties before You. Help us set a godly example for our children of what it looks like to respond in faith in You, rather than in fear. Use this experience to help our children’s faith grow like crazy and to help them grow in spiritual maturity as we show them the way of faith. Empower us to extend the love of Jesus and hospitality to our family, friends, and strangers.

We invite Your Spirit to work powerfully in our families and in our communities and in the areas that are being hit and devastated by these heavy blows. Mobilize Your people to help those who are hurting.

Let Your Kingdom come in these areas! Let people be sensitive to Your leading and Your Spirit and Your gospel. Thank You that You graciously give us wake up calls so that we don’t continue on and on in our ignorance or in our own way.

Thank You that You are there with us in the storms. Thank You for Your provision. Thank You for Your promises in Your Word that hold firm in every calamity.

Help us to count even these extremely difficult trials as joy (James 1:2-4). Use them to help us grow in our faith. Use them to help us reach out to those in need. Make us a supernatural blessing to everyone around us. Use the storms and disasters to reach the lost and to wake them up to new life in Jesus. Empower us to respond in Your Spirit in our families, our communities, and our churches. Use them to spur us on to do Your will in our circles of influence.

Please give our government leaders wisdom to direct people to safety. Please give church leaders and community leaders wisdom, as well.

We invite Your Spirit to do miracles in many lives and to broadcast them on weather and news channels around the world. We invite You to use these storms and disasters to proclaim Your gospel message around the world in powerful ways!

Be greatly glorified in these storms and trials. Show Yourself mighty! Help us all to see our desperate need for You and our dependence on You. We are not in charge! You alone are sovereign. Let us come together in unity and cooperation as families, communities, and the body of Christ.

Open our eyes to all of the blessings You have for us along the way, the spiritual treasures, the opportunities to share Your love with others, the provision for our needs, and all of the good things even in these difficult times. Empower us to have thankful hearts. Empower us to sing Your praises in the storm!

Pour out Your Life-giving gospel, Your love, and Your truth over all the people who are experiencing suffering and trials. Let millions turn to You in a great harvest while there is still time in this era of grace before the door closes.

Amen!

  • The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. Nahum 1:7
  • And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matt. 8:26
  • For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 2 Cor. 4:17
  • 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
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7

 

RESOURCES

Is Real Joy Possible for Me?

How to Seriously Find Joy in the Midst of a Painful Trial

How Can I Seriously Count Painful Times As Joy?

I was planning to write this post a few hours before my father-in-law suddenly died August 4th. It is the sequel to my post from last week about Is Real Joy Possible for Me?  I am honored to share these precious spiritual treasures with you – as it so happens – from the midst of a significant trial in my own life.

We live in a fallen world and we all face many kinds of trials in our lives. None of us are exempt. I may not have much control over what trials come my way. But I do have control over my response and attitude.

I am so excited to share some amazing truths with you – truths that will radically change your life and perspective if you are willing to embrace them.

JOY IS MY CHOICE IN TIMES OF TRIAL

I can choose to depend on God’s wisdom, His strength, His sovereignty, His power, His goodness, His love, and His vision. I can choose to trust Him and His Word. I can willingly yield to His Lordship and let Him lead me.

This takes the power of the Holy Spirit. It takes close fellowship with God. It takes practice. It is a discipline we can learn as believers with God’s help. I can begin to see hard times as spiritual tests and opportunities for growth.

When I face difficulties, the Holy Spirit empowers me (if I belong to Christ) to choose to respond in:

  • Faith
    • I don’t know the answers, but I trust that God knows what to do and that He will lead me through this. (Isa. 30:21, Ps. 23)
    • I don’t have the wisdom to solve this dilemma, but I trust that God has wisdom and power in this situation. (Isa. 40:28)
    • I know God is sovereign, good, and loving even now and even over this. (Jer. 29:11-13)
  • Joy
    • I know that God promises to use this specific trial to help me grow in my faith and in spiritual maturity, and that brings me great joy. (James 1:2-4)
    • Jesus invites me to ask for things I genuinely need – according to His will – and to receive from God, that my joy might be full. (John 16:24)
    • A joyful heart is good medicine. (Prov. 17:22)
    • God calls me to rejoice in Him at all times. (Phil. 4:4)
    • I have so many reasons for joy in Christ, even in the midst of my trials (the following is excerpted from www.gotquestions.org).
      • The joy of my salvation.
      • The joy of anticipating God’s deliverance.
      • The joy of God’s presence.
      • The joy of spiritual maturity.
  • Anticipation
    • I can’t wait to see how God will use this awful situation to create something beautiful and good in my life and bring glory to Himself!
    • I want to go much deeper with the Lord! (Eph. 1:15-23)
    • God wants to use hardships to help conform me to the image of Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:29)
  • An Open Heart
    • What does God want me to learn and how does He want to help me to grow in this painful trial?
  • Spiritual Treasure Seeking
    • It is only in the dark caves where people can find diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and gems physically, it is similar spiritually. The greatest treasures are found in the darkest times, if we are willing to look.
    • I don’t want to miss any of the gifts He has for me here.
  • Prayer
    • Lord, I give this situation to You. You see all that I am going through and my suffering. I trust You are with me. I trust You are sovereign and good.
    • I invite Your provision!
    • How should I pray about this situation?
    • Not my will but Yours be done! (Luke 22:42)
    • Is there anyone I should ask to pray with me/for me about this?
    • What step do you want me to take next?
    • I only want to see Your greatest glory!
    • I want Your perfect will.
    • What miracles do You want to do here?
  • Peace
    • In the world, I will have tribulation. But Jesus promises to give me His peace. (John 16:33)
    • God will keep me in His perfect peace when I trust Him and my mind is focused on Him. (Isaiah 26:3)
    • I can lay all of my concerns, worries, and fears before God because He cares for me. (Phil. 4:6)
  • Assurance 
    • He is going to make a way for me to make it through this. (Isa. 43:16-19)
    • He is with me and He will never leave or forsake me. (Deut. 31:8)
  • Rest
    • Jesus invites me to come to Him when I am weary and He will give me rest for my soul. (Matt. 11:28-30)
  • Strength 
    • His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)
    • God promises I can do all that He calls me to do through the power of Christ in me. (Phil. 4:12-13)
    • The Lord is my strength and my song. (Ex. 15:2)
  • Thanksgiving
    • I can look for the blessings and provision of God in the midst of my trial. (1 Thess. 5:18)
    • I can give thanks to the Lord for He is good! (Ps. 107:1)
  • Focusing on Positive Things 
    • I can focus on the good things, the Philippians 4:8 things, because whatever I focus on tends to grow in my field of spiritual vision.
  • Receptivity to His promises
    • I learn about God’s promises theoretically as I read His Word. But it is during a crisis that I actually get to rest the weight of my life on God’s promises and experience them in reality.
    • I want to keep all of God’s promises in my heart and stand firmly on them and His Word.
  • Ministry
    • How does God want me to shine for Christ in the midst of this yucky situation? (Phil. 2:14-16, Matt. 5:13-16)
    • How might He want me to be an example, blessing, and witness to others? (1 Cor. 7:16, Acts 1:8)
    • How does God desire me to overcome evil with good here? (Rom. 12:17-21)
    • I can rest assured that God will use my pain – and the comfort He brings to me – to bring comfort, healing, salvation, and to strengthen the faith to others in the future when they hear about what He did for me and how I responded. (2 Cor. 1:6)

This doesn’t mean I won’t have feelings of sadness. I will! I am human, after all. I will have sadness and grief, at times. I will feel frustration and anger, at times. I will hurt. I will have emotions. It is important to feel my emotions and to identify them. But I don’t have to be a slave to my emotions. And I don’t have to be a slave to my circumstances.

Things may look hopeless from a human perspective…

Thankfully, I don’t have to see from a mere human perspective if I know Jesus!

THE BLESSINGS OF TRIALS

Scripture is full of encouragement about the spiritual benefits of our trials as followers of Christ. Here are a few of the blessings my trials can produce in my life as I trust God:

  • Lamentations 1
    • Suffering for sin may help me repent of sin and return to God if I have strayed.
    • God disciplines those who belong to Him for our good, so that we will turn from death and embrace His Life.
  • Matthew 5:10-11 and Acts 5:41
    • Suffering for my faith in Christ means I have been counted worthy to suffer in Jesus’ name.
    • I am blessed if I am insulted, punished, and/or persecuted for my faith in Jesus.
  • Romans 5:3-5
    • I can glory in my sufferings because of the good they will produce
      • perseverance
      • character
      • hope
  • James 1:2-4
    • As I trust God during suffering, He will use my trials to produce good things in me:
      • endurance
      • greater faith
      • greater spiritual maturity
      • spiritual completeness
      • I will lack nothing
  • Hebrews 12:4-12
    • I am to count hardships as discipline from God that will help me learn and grow. His discipline:
      • is verification of my adoption as a child of God
      • brings greater respect for God
      • yields peaceful fruit
      • brings about righteousness
      • is guaranteed to be for my benefit
      • allows me to share in God’s holiness

NOTE – “Counting trials as joy” does not mean that I need to try to create trials for myself, that I should be purposely combative or argumentative, or that I should try to prolong trials. It also doesn’t mean I must stay in a dangerous, abusive situation where I am being severely sinned against if I am able to get somewhere safe.  

SHARE

If you have experienced God’s supernatural joy and/or blessings in the midst of a difficult trial, or you have learned something helpful about how to “count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds,” we’d love to hear about it! I’m so thankful we can walk this road together and encourage one another.

RESOURCES

Verses about trials – Open Bible

Verses about God’s wisdom – Open Bible

A list of all of God’s promises – Bible Gateway

Verses about peace – Open Bible

Verses about suffering as a believer – Open Bible

Verses about being persecuted and hated for faith in Christ – Open Bible

Verses about God’s Sovereignty – Open Bible

Verses about finding God’s direction – Open Bible

Verses about strength – Open Bible

“The Peaceful Mom – Building a Healthy Foundation with Christ As Lord” has one chapter on counting trials as joy and one chapter on having an eternal perspective. Most of the chapters in the book would be a blessing to all women, not just moms.

An Amazing Resource – Nina Roesner’s eCourse “Strength and Dignity”

“The Respect Dare,” by Nina Roesner, was a transformative book for me. In fact, it was one of the best books that God used in my life fairly early into my journey. I was actually so sad when the 40 days of assignments were over. I loved the structure and the daily bite-sized approach to growing and learning. Many women, especially women in situations like mine, saw great improvement in their marriages when they did “The Respect Dare.”

But some women found that as they tried to show their husbands more respect, their husbands became more harsh, critical, and demeaning. They began to feel even more like “doormats” than ever. I have seen the same thing with some wives here. What is going on?

Nina realized something important:

anderlust-2

Women need a firm spiritual foundation before they can properly apply respect in marriage.

They need to know who they are in Christ. They need to understand healthy boundaries in a godly way, not a selfish way. They need to be able to act with dignity and godly strength (as Proverbs 31 describes) and be spiritually more whole and healed. Then they can use the incredibly powerful position of  “wife” and “influential authority” in beautiful, healthy, healing ways in their marriages. They need to have tools to handle things rightly when they are sinned against in marriage.

Then God led Nina to develop a new approach in the BECOMING A WOMAN OF STRENGTH AND DIGNITY eCourse.

I am so excited about what God has been doing in Nina’s online classes to transform wives and marriages. It is not about Nina. It is not about the forum facilitators. Her goal is to disciple women so they have a strong spiritual foundation and so that they look to the Bible and the Holy Spirit for wisdom and power to accomplish God’s will and His glory in their lives. That is definitely my goal, too, for all of us!

She walks women through the baby steps so many of us need, regardless of our personalities or marital dynamics (and it is even a huge blessing for our single sisters, too), to develop a healthy relationship with Christ first and a healthy relationship with self. Then she gives the tools that can help women develop healthier relationships in their marriages.

A bit from Nina about this eCourse:

The truth is, if the words ‘respect’ and ‘submission’ scare you, even anger you, you’re in the right place. We want to help you understand them in a new way that takes your fear, which is never from the Lord, and replaces it with quiet confidence in HIM.

  • A unique and proven discipleship method that leaves over 95% of our class members with a deeper connection with God
  • Biblical truth to build your relationship with yourself & others in a way that gives you a gentle, but strong & dignified (not prideful) sense of who you are
  • Proven tools of interaction with yourself and others that create mutual respect and the potential for great love & joy

The eCourse does have a nominal cost per month. I would consider it to be a very worthwhile investment. Especially if you are really struggling and need a bit more personalized, structured, spiritual and marriage mentoring. It is an 11 week online class. After you go through these sessions, you are invited to join the private forum with trained facilitating wives who help guide discussions.

WHY AM I PROMOTING THIS eCOURSE?

Nina did not ask me to do this. I am not making any kind of monetary profit from promoting her materials. I know that when some wives read about respect, sometimes they mishear things in dangerous ways. Some think they have to disrespect themselves in order to respect their husbands. Or they have to idolize their husbands and bow to them as if they are perfect gods and women need to act like slaves. That is not true at all!

I believe that this eCourse may be a huge blessing if:

  • You have read my posts, my book, or The Respect Dare, and things are getting worse or you feel really confused about how to move forward with the Lord or in your marriage, this course may be perfect for you.
  • You struggle with what it means to respect yourself – or to think rightly and biblically about yourself.
  • You get confused about healthy boundaries and how to implement them with love and respect, this course is a fantastic tool.
  • You are dealing with a particularly difficult husband.
  • You are interested in a private forum that offers support to women. Nina has a wonderful team of trained women who are helping with this. That is something I just can’t offer myself.

I want all women to have all of the resources they need to thrive spiritually and to heal in Christ. Then when they are hearing Him clearly and filled with His Spirit, I know He will give them the wisdom they need to handle some really tough situations.

TESTIMONIALS

WIFE 1:

This is a hard journey for me as I sometimes lose site of my goal, but God is not finished with me yet.

Five years ago this January I found myself in tears over the condition of my marriage. I was a believer who thought God owed her a perfect marriage and Christian family because she was obedient to his commands. He did not give me that, thankfully. In frustration and some anger I asked God to send me someone who understood my loneliness.

I did  “The Respect Dare”  by phone. I learned some things, but any changes my husband noticed only made him more suspicious of what I was trying to get from him. Nina suggested the “Strength and Dignity” course because of his resistance.
Before joining this class and doing the “Daughter’s of Sarah” course, I blamed my husband for everything. In my studies, God made some direct blows to show my part in this messy equation. That was humbling but the beginning of breaking my pride and misunderstanding of what marriage really is. Now, in humility, I can accept God’s correction and find myself enabled more often to love and accept my husband as God made him.

Sometimes I respond with grace, sometimes I kick and scream my way to surrender and sometimes I just can’t figure out what I am suppose to do, so I reach out to other women on the course site and return to His Word. My desire to love my husband like God does allows me to rely on the Holy Spirit’s enablement to do what God says to show respect. It is hard to do right and it seems I am meeting stronger resistance, but through prayer, study, support and sometimes tears, God is changing my motives, my heart, and my love for my husband.

It is also teaching me that the goal of my journey is to find God as my sole source for all my needs and release my husband from wrong expectations. I no longer want a perfect marriage and accolades from people. I am on a learning curve to find that Christ fulfills my every need and I am the healthy helper God intended for the man he created. I am pressing on, but I have not arrived.

WIFE 2:

I started this journey very discouraged and with the mindset that my husband is never going to change and our marriage will always be this way. BUT that I need to learn to survive this and survive it well… with strength of character and with my dignity. I went to a 4 day retreat, Deflating Defensiveness (led by Nina).

These are the changes I’ve incorporated in my marriage from the retreat:

  • I don’t get pulled into arguing, defending myself, or reasoning with him (That stuff doesn’t work, plus it leaves me frustrated).
  • He still goads me to but I go silent rather than get pulled into this crazy cycle.
  • I’m picking my battles so to speak
    • I give in to him on small things. Because he gets his way on those things, I’m seeing he is more apt to listen to me on the bigger stuff.
  • I am not a doormat, in fact, just the opposite. I feel more empowered and dignified.
  • I speak my point of view concisely, slowly, and gently, then I STOP.
    • When he comes back with arguments, I don’t respond, neither do I justify myself nor do I own his insults.
    • As a result of my “sanctified indifference” I’m seeing more respect from him; he seems then to want to please me.

This is not perfect every time but I have my sanity and my dignity. I feel strong. I am no longer striving but am at peace. He hasn’t changed, but I have, and as a result, our marriage is changing.

Since I joined the Strength and Dignity eCourse:

I am now starting to see more change in his behavior toward me. I think that as he is getting the respect he needs and sees I’m becoming a “safe place,” he is becoming more respectful, caring, and wants to please me. Of course, we have hiccups now and then, but I continue to trust God to give me the self-control to remain gentle and respectful with him. The unconditional respect is the toughest when he is not being kind. This is definitely a refining process and a spiritual one that at times does not seem to even be about marriage, but about the woman God desires me to become.

Here’s the link to find out more about Nina’s Strength and Dignity eCourse.

If you decide to take it, I’d love to hear what you think!

** This class is not designed for those who are being battered. If you are in danger, please contact your local domestic violence resources.

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