Learning To Trust Again…After Broken Relationships – Pt. 1

When you’ve been hurt, it’s petrifying to even consider being in a relationship again and trusting another person. Yet, there is hope! You can learn to trust again. I immediately think of when I went through a divorce in 2005.  I felt as if I could never trust a man again. I had so much pain…so much fear due to the abuse that my children and I had experienced in the marriage. I knew things needed to change in the way I viewed myself and how I perceived men.  It was one of the toughest seasons that I had ever gone through in my life.

The first thing I knew I had to do, though, was to forgive my ex-husband and that felt really tough. It was tough because he had not only emotionally and verbally abused me, but things had gotten physical, affecting my children.  It’s one thing when a man is abusive to you, but it becomes a whole other matter when he touches your kids. Ultimately, I had to get a restraining order because my kids and I felt unsafe. The harassment continued. He would drive down our street and call to say hurtful things to us, in spite of the restraining order. We didn’t feel safe in our home. He showed up at church on one occasion and had to be escorted out. It was not good at all.

During that time, as we were going through the divorce proceedings, he made things extremely difficult for me. When I heard his name, or saw someone that looked like him, my stomach cringed. No one should have that much power over you. I realized I still needed to forgive him, but how? I thought I had already forgiven him. I knew I couldn’t afford to walk around with the baggage of unforgiveness.

You see, forgiving someone that has deeply wounded you can feel impossible because of the pain.  We can think they need to pay for what they have done. Forgiving them doesn’t make what they did to you okay. It doesn’t excuse their behavior. Forgiveness releases your heart from the prison of pain. Forgiving them frees you!!!

Another big deal about forgiveness is that you MUST forgive from your heart, not your head. For the longest with that situation, as a “good” little Christian, I knew I was supposed to forgive and so that’s what I thought I did. After all, forgiveness is a commandment. The thing was, I was only mouthing the words, “I forgive you, _______ for hurting me and my kids…”  I was going through the motions. I wasn’t letting it go. I was assenting to the fact that I’m supposed to forgive. There is no release with forgiving out of obligation or “from your head”. Forgiveness truly happened, when I forgave from my heart. (See Matthew 18:35)

My next move in moving past the devastation of this divorce, was to ask the Lord to help me trust again.  How in the world do you trust another man, when you have had a history of bad relationships? I couldn’t see past my pain and brokenness.  All I knew is that I kept attracting deadbeats. As I began to think about all of those messed up relationships, considering my part in the equation, I did not see how I could ever be in another relationship, let alone marriage. All I could think was “something must have been wrong with me.”  This led me to have a conversation with the Lord. For those that may be leery of someone having a “conversation with God”, it just means I was praying.

A little backstory – Not long after my divorce, a well-respected prophet gave me a word about the husband that God was sending me.  I politely flushed that word because I had determined I would not marry again until my children were grown. This was part of my conversation with God: How can I be married again, if I don’t trust men? I can’t even establish friendship if I can’t trust them enough to talk to them.

In my time with the Lord, He assured me He would teach me to trust again. He would show me their heart. He told me that I could trust Him and as I trust Him, He would show me when it was safe. He also impressed upon me that He would teach me what a healthy relationship looked like.

It can be extremely difficult to receive a blessing, when you have become so accustomed to receiving the counterfeits that look like the blessing, but are not the blessing. The Lord was beginning to take me through a process of healing my heart from the toxic relationships I had been in. I didn’t know how to be loved because I had not learned to love myself yet. I loved God. I loved people, but I didn’t have much value for myself. (This is a topic we will have to cover later.)

Learning to trust again was approximately a year long process for me. It involved the Lord sending a man to my job, where a real relationship developed. This was the friendship that God used to restore my confidence, allow me to really see what a healthy relationship looked like and we married about a year later. I am grateful to share that we have been married 11 years. I will share our full testimony in the next blog as there are a lot of details in that process.

Once again, there is hope for you. You, too, can learn to trust again! Forgive!!! Commit to not let past hurts rob you of the blessing of future relationships. And don’t rush the process!!!

“Father, I admit that I have carried many wounds from past relationships that I have not been able to overcome. I have tried to suppress the pain, and move forward, but I have not been able to trust men/women. I have not been able to be vulnerable and authentic in these relationships. Today, I forgive those that hurt my heart and I forgive myself for the mistakes I made in these relationships. Heal my heart. I give it to you freely. Teach me how to trust again. I break agreement with fear of being hurt again and choose to partner with You as You saturate me in Your Love.”

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Confront to Heal, Not to Hurt (How to Lovingly Confront)

When most people hear the word “confrontation” they automatically feel it means a fight;  but, confronting an issue is simply addressing the elephant in the room so that you can get it out of the room.  It is both the husband and the wife contributing thoughts to bring resolution to a challenge. It brings you both to the same page as you connect and work together to solve the issue. Confrontation, therefore, means maintaining connection to each other’s hearts while solving a difficult problem.

Do you know what happens when spouses “violently” confront?  Torpedos are hurled at one another’s hearts as feelings are hurt by damaging words.  In most cases, one or both spouses begin to shutdown and disconnect their heart from the other person.  As long as the two are disconnected, they cannot effectively move forward together. Overtime, this can cause what some people term as “I don’t love you anymore.”  In this type of confrontation, you are tearing down the internal fabric of each person involved.

Too many times, we forget that when we got married, the two became one.  We shouldn’t want to hurt our spouses because in so doing, we are hurting ourselves.  If we can focus our attention on seeing ourselves as one with our spouse then we’ll realize the battle is not against each other, but it should be on addressing the problem.

So, how do you learn to lovingly confront your spouse?

First of all, realize that you cannot control your spouse with hurtful words. “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24) Hurtful words tear down and bring disconnect and discontent.  The only person you can control is yourself. The quicker you learn this truth, the better things will be for all involved. You have power over “you”. You can control your attitude.  You can deal with your temperament. You just have to choose. This may take a little time to actually catch yourself in action, but it will come.

Second, say what needs to be said without attacking.  Put yourself in their shoes. Would you want to be talked to in a demeaning, critical manner?  No. Use words that are gentle and tender. If your topic is really tough, let your spouse know you love them and you have something that’s a little tough to say, but you’re not trying to hurt them. Remember, you will affect your spouse more positively with words that encourage and lift them up.  Encourage him/her in the things they do well and be patient with them on the areas they need improvement in.

Lastly, commit to be an honest and a safe place.  Listen to your spouse.  Respect what they have to say.  Listening means, don’t butt in while they are talking.  Allow them to have the floor and fully express what they are saying.  It will allow them to feel heard and it will build confidence within them for the future.

Prayer:

Father, I give you charge of my conversation.  Teach me how to be a safe place for my spouse. Let my words and my behavior build up and encourage my spouse. I trust you, Lord, to bring the change that I cannot. When conflicts arise, give me grace and peace and help me to state the facts without attacking my spouse.  Help me to balance my emotions and not allow angry words to come out of my mouth. Thank you for change taking place now, in Jesus Name. Amen.

 

Buy Little Christmas: Getting the Most Out of Christmas When You’re on a Tight Budget

With the onset of the holiday season, the age-old tradition of Christmas gift-giving is once again upon us. Originally started as a gesture to remind us of the gifts given to Jesus on his day of birth, the annual practice has exploded into a very stressful, not to mention expensive experience for all who observe the yearly gesture. Let’s be honest, we all want to buy our loved ones the best gifts possible. The reality of the situation however, doesn’t always match with our desires. So, if you’re like me and many others, your wallet is the driving force behind your gift giving. But living on a budget doesn’t have to stifle your ability to give wonderful and meaningful gifts to your loved ones.

After some research, I’ve found a series of creative, cost friendly alternatives to traditional gift-giving.

 Stranded Christmas

When your family lives in one state, and you live in another, the possibility of being stuck at home with nothing to do becomes an unwanted reality. Hosting an orphaned party is the perfect way to remedy this while checking off a large number of people on your holiday list. Play games, watch movies, or just sit around and talk. Make it a potluck and it becomes an even more cost-efficient gift!

 

Giving Tree

A giving tree is a wonderful way to surpass the traditional gift giving custom with a philanthropic twist. Instead of exchanging gifts, research a series of local and nationalangel tree charities, put them on pieces of paper or envelopes and hang them on a Christmas tree. Each one of your coworkers can choose one blindly and donate an amount of their choice to the organization listed!

Memory Lane in a Frame

Got an old group shot from a cruise from a while back? Maybe one of a relative that passed recently? Put it in a frame and give it as a gift. Sharing a photo from a forgotten time in the past is a great way to bond with family members and provide them with a wonderful gift at the same time.

lonely Christmas

Pay It Backwards

A cute and simple way to give, albeit to a total stranger, is the pay it backwards method. Pay the toll of the person behind you at the toll booth, or the change from your cash purchase towards the person standing in line behind you. It’s a great way to make a stranger’s day. Even better, you might start a chain reaction of giving, or at least make one person’s day unexpectedly better.

Act of Random Kindness

ARK 2Like “Pay it Backwards”, but with a little more effort. Simply doing something to help a neighbor, be it collecting their mail while they spend their Christmas out of town or shoveling the driveway of a disabled or elderly person can be a great way to give beyond that traditional holiday gift. Plus, you may make a friend in the process.

 

 

Adopt a Soldier

Patriotism meets the holiday season with this idea. Present to SoldierInstead of giving to each other, coworkers or friends could chip in on a care package for a deployed soldier or hospitalized veteran. Each person can buy one object to be put in a joint box and mailed to the soldier just in time for Christmas.

 

Joint Experience

joint experienceHave guests pitch in money toward a shared experience to make that holiday gathering that much more memorable. Whether it’s a private chef to cook a meal for the group, an at-home canvas painting experience or a local band playing at your event.

These are just some of the amazing cost effective, out of the box ideas I’ve discovered during my research. Like what you see? Give it a try! Have a better idea? Let me know in the comments! I’m always open to creative ways to give.

 

My Dream…

dream3He will have compassion on the poor and needy, And the lives of the needy he will save.  (Psalm 72:13 NASB)

So, it’s been quite some time since I’ve blogged.  You could say, I was working hard at implementing a dream.  I really was…  But, no excuse not to drop a line, right?  I finally am taking time to let you in on my journey and commit to keep you in the loop.

I’m all about change and growth.  For years, I’ve worked to improve my communication, various skills, you name it.  One subject that’s been very dear to my heart has been minimizing the effects of homelessness on family.

17 years ago, I found myself facing homelessness with my two children.  My stint lasted for three months and I was fortunate enough to be able to live with someone until I could regain my footing.  How did this even happen?  For me, it was due to a pretty horrible marriage.  You see, I had relocated from Charlotte, NC and gotten married, but this guy wasn’t who I thought he was at all.  (That’s a story for another day.)

According to the National Coalition of the Homeless, “…approximately half of all women and children experiencing homelessness are fleeing domestic violence.”  These situations happen a lot more than you think.  Did you know that some of these same women can even end up in commercial sex trafficking?

Back to my dream…  I’m working on opening up homes that will serve as transitional housing to help bring hope to these families.  These homes would serve as a support mechanism, providing counseling, life skills and education.

The first house we’re working with needs renovation work which I’m raising money to get the repairs completed.  The house needs re-wiring, roofing repairs, and plumbing, etc.  I’m also actively seeking other opportunities to fund this cause through partnerships, grants, etc.

I already realize that this dream can’t come into fruition by itself or relying on any one source.  I believe it takes all of us, working together, to add value by tapping into what we do best.  So, I welcome your help, whether you’re local or in another state.  Homelessness affects us nationally and it’s up to us to do something about it!