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.

 

Momma Can’t Be In Your Marriage!

cristian-newman-141875-unsplash“Wait a minute!!! Momma can’t be in my marriage?  What are you talking about? I love my momma! Momma knows best, right?”

 

It’s true that momma can be wise; but, in marriage, we are instructed to leave momma and daddy and cleave to our spouse. (Paraphrased. See Gen. 2:24) Yet, so often, couples do not recognize the powerful wisdom inherent in keeping momma out of the marriage.  Momma, by the way, is any outside voice that is trying to tell you how you should run your marriage, your household. Therefore, “momma” can be your friends, co-workers, and yes, your actual momma.

We can see this easily in some families where momma has gotten intricately involved in the goings on of their son or daughter’s marriage.  The results can sometimes be catastrophic, with bickering and tension between in-laws as momma has practically moved in and taken over the decision making.  This sounds drastic but I’ve seen it in action.

How does “momma” get in your marriage?  Sometimes, “momma” gets in your marriage at a vulnerable moment when you are really just venting your frustration with something your spouse has done.  You’re letting it out and looking for answers. Yet, you don’t realize that though you thought you were just sharing an irritation with someone else, that person may not have godly wisdom to get you back on track.  In fact, many times that person is slowly building an offense against your spouse. They’re making a judgement about your spouse that may later become a stumbling block for them and you.

So what is the recipe for getting momma out of your marriage?

Marriage Ingredient #1 – Take your problems to the Lord.

Your prayers are effective and bring change.  (James 5:16) Take your problems to the Lord first and allow Him to bring the change that’s needed.  Pray for your spouse and pray for your situation. Find a scripture that speaks to your situation and allow that passage to position your heart for the change that’s needed.  

You may need to talk to your spouse directly about the “momma” that has entered your marriage.  You should be able to talk to your spouse about any and everything. Do so with wisdom and compassion.  You’re not trying to start an argument, you’re trying to get “momma” out of your marriage together and it’s important that you’re on the same page.

Marriage Ingredient #2 – Seek wise counsel.

Wise counsel is a blessing when it’s coming from a pure, seasoned source. Your wise counsel sources may be people that have been married long term, a ministry leader, your pastor.  These are folks that exhibit maturity and have good fruit to back it up. They are not gossipers. They are not quick to take sides when you share personal information, but rather, they give unbiased counsel that’s solid and allows you to grow.  These folks will point you back to God and stand with you in prayer.

I feel it is vital to share another valid reason for seeking counsel that should not be overlooked:situations involving abuse or violence. These types of behaviors should never be kept to yourself. You owe it to yourself to seek counsel and support to remedy the problem.

Marriage Ingredient #3 – Limit the amount of information you share with family members and friends.

Family and friends are great, but you are setting yourself up for disappointment when you share too much with them sometimes.  It is natural for friends and family to take sides; and, yet, they have only heard one side…yours. This can create an issue for your spouse as family and friends begin to build a case against them.

You remember the old saying, “Loose lips sink ships?”  We must remember that the words we release are either working for our good or against us.  When we share too much negative information about our spouse, we are slowly destroying our spouse’s image and giving the enemy something to work with.  Speak encouraging, positive words over your spouse. Pray for your spouse. Learn how to build him/her up even as you speak with your family/friends.

Prayer:  Father, I lift my marriage to you today and I thank you for protecting and maturing us.  Forgive me for negative words that I may have shared about my spouse. Surround me with healthy married couples that will encourage me and my spouse. Lord, let our marriage be a reflection of your love for us, 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.

 

magnifying_glass_small_hr88It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search out a thing.  -Proverbs 25:2 AMP

Have you noticed that God will place things on your heart that are bigger than you?  You feel overwhelmed because you’re not sure how to accomplish the task.  The tendency is to procrastinate because doing something new is scary.  –But, if you never step forward in it, you’ll never realize how strong you really are.  If you run in the opposite direction, you will truly fail to discover the treasure of possibilities that were destined for your life.

You see, you were designed to overcome obstacles, not play in the safe zone forever.  “Safe zone thinking” leaves us with a boring, unfulfilled life that subsequently causes limited growth.  Safe zone thinking prevents us from discovering and developing new areas of strength.  When we can make steps towards doing the “hard” task, we will make way to grow in a whole new area, creating fresh confidence and bolstering our capacity.

One of my biggest fears was having to speak in front of people.  I was the person that kept to myself.  I was fine in one-on-one settings and even small groups, but speaking in front of a crowd was like climbing Mount Everest.  Too hard… Frightening…  Scary…  I didn’t want the extra attention or spotlight.  How did I overcome my fear?  Bottom line was I had to “just do it”.  But also, I had to assess a few thoughts.

Why does this make me afraid?

What will happen if I confront my fear?

Will this be the end of me or is this an opportunity to be stretched?

Am I willing to let go of my fear?

Since it wasn’t going to kill me, I made steps towards preparation.  I made sure I had my notes in front of me and just went for it.  I also took a public speaking class.  What is it that you can do to help you reach your objective?

It was vital that I overcome my fear and by the grace of God, I did just that.  The more I stood to speak the better I got.  The more I did what I feared, the more confidence was built within me.  It provided new building blocks by which I could grow.  That’s really how we can make steps towards conquering our fears…  Face them and don’t allow excuses to hold us back.

Embrace opportunities for growth.  It’s a part of our experiencing life.  After all, you are powerful!  You were made for this!  You have skills and giftings that are meant to be shared and expressed.  You have dreams that were deposited in you because you have the potential to accomplish it.

Though it would be great if everything could be laid out for us, usually that’s not how it works.  A good portion of our growth and development is searching it out.  –Just doing it!!!  It gives you the opportunity to learn and investigate as you’re sorting through it.  You don’t have to let fear petrify you any longer.  Make the effort to do what God is telling you and know that He’s right there with you.  He will highlight the details for you and send the connections, but you have to be willing to step forward to take the brave steps He shows you.

Just Do It…