God has been showing me some crazy similarities between destructive patterns in relationships and the common themes in Religion. The Enemy isn’t very creative really, replaying the same tired old accusations in all areas of life. The most blatant being “You can’t really trust Love, can you?”.
Who can say, in our current generation, that they have never heard a woman complain about the things she hopes to change about her man?
Who can say they have never heard a man complain about being in trouble with their wife?
There is an epidemic of families being broken all over the globe and in our western culture this theme seems to be the most common.
Many women share with me their frustrations over the things about their men that they want to alter. I’m sure many of you ladies can understand, we are all sinners after all. Maybe these men are selfish. Maybe they are unreliable. Can you relate? Maybe they stay out too late while you are stuck at home with the children. Maybe they don’t help enough around the house or with the children. Maybe they aren’t romantic any more. Maybe they spend money irresponsibly. Maybe they drink too much or play Playstation too much. Maybe they don’t work hard. Maybe they go to strip clubs or look at pornography or stray physically. Maybe arguments are often and the connection is wearing thin.
In this recent social phase, Inner Enemies have heightened the emotional atmosphere, they empower us women with the accusation, “You can’t really trust Love, Can you?”, encouraging us to become nasty and emotional when our expectations are not met. We become controlling, manipulative, restrictive. We might lay down the law, use ultimatums, make threats, yell, belittle, cry, all in order to get them to alter their ways, to satisfy us.
Men in these situations too have frustrations, they feel penned in by an emotionally unstable relationship. They feel their manhood, their authority, is being challenged, being overpowered. They often hide their hearts away and continue to make their own decisions about how to spend their time and their money, without letting her reactions sway these decisions, in a way to feel like they are still in charge over themselves and not submitting to the control of someone dominating and often unreasonable. The emotional reaction of the women is often the very thing that pushes the men further into these ‘frustrating’ behaviours. In many cases these dynamics cause division in relationships, and at the very least can cause a lack of deep connection and contentment.
Making a choice and a commitment to love someone is not a decision to give up our freedom, even though many mistake this as the case. For without the freedom to decide every day if you want to be in the relationship there is only more pressure to create division. We think once someone says they love us, they commit to us then ‘CLICK’ the magical handcuffs are on. We own them, and the right to demand that they make us happy. This is toxic thinking. Any behavioural changes that are made in this scenario cannot be trusted completely, they haven’t been genuinely made out of love, they are made out of fear and control.
Conversely there are those whose Inner Angels help them to accept their loved ones imperfections. They try to be patient to wait for hearts to adjust and behaviours to settle into a united rhythm. They want their mate to be free to choose to love them, to be free to want to do right by them out of love not out of fear. They recognise that forced compliance has short term rewards, for lasting unity there needs to be alterations of the heart. This goes for both men and women.
As an example, these women give grace when their men are late. They give forgiveness when their men make mistakes. They use every opportunity to try to show love when they could show anger. They choose to give freedom rather than control. Kindness instead of attack. Consequently, very often the men in these relationships are eventually driven by their own motivation to want to do right by their woman. They would rather call and let her know they will be late, because they know she will worry, and they know they have the freedom to stay as long as they want. Suddenly they can’t wait to come home. They would rather resist the temptation to stray because they appreciate the constant approachable love their woman gives them. They choose to do right because they don’t want to hurt her, they want to love her back. Not because of the promise, not because of the words, not because of the certificate, because their heart has been altered by the love and grace and freedom and forgiveness they have received.
This is exactly how God’s Grace works as opposed to the Law. Picture the relationship responses I just explained, as metaphors for the Christian systems of Law and Grace.
Under the Law our freedom is taken captive. Religiosity points out our flaws, condemns us, threatens us. Through fear and guilt, religion expects us to change. You are given no freedom to choose God’s will, it is expected, demanded, forced. Any changes made in this scenario are made without the strength of love, and they often are only temporary changes at best. The changes aren’t written in hearts, only in works. The connection between us and God is then fragile and unstable. Any significant test and it will crumble, tempting us to hide and compare sins.
Under Grace freedom is given and love is abundant. Every day you get to choose if you want a relationship with God. Everyday God gives us our own free will to decide for ourselves if we want to grow in our commitment to Him. When we slip and fall and we turn to Him, we are not belittled or condemned. We are met with Forgiveness and Love, Strength and Help. He is always waiting for us to come to Him no matter how many times we fall. His spirit, which grows inside us, is what writes His laws on our hearts because we have chosen to soften our hearts every time we choose Him. This creates humility and self-awareness, altering our behaviour and our hearts, and builds a connection with God that nothing can break!
Inner Enemies have confused our twisted emotional version of Love with God’s version of Love. We know how we feel when our loved ones disappoint or hurt us, and so we assume God must feel that way about us when we sin.
However God is Love!
Most of us are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. Love is not proud. It does not dishonour others. Love is not Self-seeking. Love is not easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrongs.”
We expect this kind of love from others and yet we rarely are able to give it ourselves. We assume God must have this same flaw. But God IS Love, His spirit gives us the ability to love others in this way. So then let’s swap His name for ‘Love’ in that previous scripture.
God is PATIENT, God is KIND. He does not envy. He does not boast. God is not proud. He does not DISHONOUR others. God is not SELF-SEEKING. God is NOT EASILY ANGERED. God KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS. God does not delight in evil but rejoices in TRUTH. He always PROTECTS. Always TRUSTS, Always HOPES, Always PERSEVERES. God NEVER FAILS!
So it becomes clear that the Enemy has been using this accusation “You can’t really trust Love, can you?” in our relationships, but he has also been using it in Christianity. “You can’t really trust God, can you?” The Law, which was supposed to define love, has been used as a tool to condemn us, pushing us away from God’s love, from God’s Grace. We must realise the deception in this practice and accept the abounding Grace Christ came to share with us. Grace that makes us want to grow closer to Him, the closer we get, the more alterations He shines through in our behaviour.
Please don’t misunderstand here, no one is saying that it is okay to stray, to neglect, to be selfish in a relationship. However nor is it okay to condemn the faults of those we love, and expect them to change just to suit us. In this way the Law has its purpose, it is God’s way of communicating to us what sin looks like, as a violation of Love. In the same way we can communicate with our loved ones which behaviours cause us to pull away and protect our hearts. Keeping in mind all the principles of what LOVE IS, as stated above. Just as God stands firmly on the truth of the Law, we also stand firmly on the conviction of our Christ-centered expectations in our relationships. But Love, LOVE is the key!
Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
1 John 4:18-19 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Galatians 5:13 “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Simply put…..If freedom is given, mercy is abundant, then love becomes the powerful force that encourages our hearts to want to change!
As I drove to work yesterday I was listening to breakfast radio, and the female announcer brought up a complaint made by a wife who she had been in discussion with.
The wife was a stay at home mum and her husband worked 10 hours a day to provide for them. Her complaint was that he should help out more at home and not gripe when she gives him jobs. She was adamant that her husband should do more, such as cleaning the shower and toilet, help with cooking and take some responsibility for bathing, dressing and attending to the children etc when he was home.
The male announcer explained the husbands response, which was basically “I have just worked 10 hours and walk in the front door to hear these words or similar come from her mouth. “”Good you’re home, now you can help me with these kids. Can you run them a bath and take the baby for a while?”” I just walked in the door from a long hard day, I want to sit down for 5 minutes and relax with a beer. I don’t think that is too much to ask!”
The female announcer replied “She is obviously unhappy, if he can do more to help her be happier in their relationship, shouldn’t he just do it!”
I saw red! This is one of the most infuriating stances that many women let their inner enemies convince them to take. They may as well be saying “I am going to keep complaining about how unhappy I am until I make the whole house unhappy, so you will have no choice but to bow to my every request’.
Now let me clarify, this wife didn’t work, and her children were in childcare 3 days per week, and she claimed that she never stops, that she never gets a break. Even if they were at home all day every day, pouncing on her husband the second he walks in the door is selfish, ungrateful and unloving. I know because I used to be like this. I was all these things and worse.
One thing I learned some years ago is that miserable complaining only breeds more misery. I know plenty of husbands who have done their best to meet every ridiculous, demanding request of their wives, only to discover they could never reach the light at the end of the list, nor help her find peace and happiness.
“It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” Prov 21:9 (ASV)
These relationships fell apart leaving a trail of bitter destruction, and setting the worst kind of example for their children’s future relationships.
I grew up in a home with a single Mum who had to work 45-50 hour weeks to provide for us. She had the responsibility of raising three children, with no family close enough to help her. My younger sibling was only 18months old when Mum became single. Through sheer will and determination she did it all. I watched her struggle to cope, I heard constantly how stressful her life was. As a child I can remember the countless times she would pour tears over her finances, often sharing that burden with us children. She missed out on doing the school run and hearing about our day or our thoughts as we drove to and fro. She was unable to keep watch over us after school to make sure we stayed on track. She had no time to learn new recipes or practice creativity in the kitchen, she just fed us. She had no opportunity to load some of the weight onto someone else just because she was tired. She had no one to share some of the burden at the end of a long day. She just did it, all, on her own.
As a wife and mother I am so very, extremely grateful that I have a man who is willing to work long days to provide for us. I do my utmost to put aside my days complaints and greet him after work with a cold beer, a warm smile and a kiss. As a result he is more likely to: a) Come home! b) Help me, and c) Rush to my aid like the knight in shining armour I always dreamed of.
If we give compliments and praise in recognition of all the things, small or large, that they do for us, they will be more willing to help out when we are unwell or warn thin from a tough day, or if we come across a challenge we need their help with. We need to build them up, not tear them down! We need to recognise that our contentious attitude is causing more problems, and make attempts to change it. We need to call on our inner angels to help us see all the things we are grateful for, and refuse to let disappointment from unmet expectations breed bitterness and misery.
On a final note, (this is an area that I am currently trying to make more changes to myself), we take so much responsibility away from our men due to our controlling, often insecure natures. Even if they do try to help, often we are there pointing out how they ‘should’ be doing it, or criticising them afterward because it wasn’t done the way we do it. When we ask their opinion regarding a decision, we reply with our reasons to disagree. We say we want them to take some of our load, but when they try we yank it back out of their hands.
I wonder how many women would tolerate being told that everything we try to do is not done properly, or if every decision we made was overturned and debated?
Trusting our husbands to be capable, and giving their decisions a chance to succeed before we catastrophise them into oblivion, will help boost their self worth, and their sense of masculinity. That way they will have the opportunity to dazzle us with their skills and leadership, and we in turn can relax in grateful appreciation of how lucky we are to have them.
I wish every woman would read this post. The voice of our Inner Enemies has this scheme so worked out that it has no need to be creative or change a thing. It repeats the same lies to everyone of us! Blessings to you all!
Let me tell you a story about Wednesday night. I really debated writing about this, because my husband reads my blog, however, I’m going to ask him to skip this one because I think the women reading this blog, need to hear about Wednesday night.
I’ve already posted on this blog about discovering some major disrespect for my husband. The kind that doesn’t even appear like disrespect in the world we live in today, that seems completely justified, and is so intertwined in my every day life that it’ll be like lifting boulders100 times my own weight to remove these nasty habits. Yeah, that kind of disrespect.
Wednesday was just an ordinary day until my husband got home from work. We haven’t been sleeping very well, and he’s been tired. So he sat down in the chair and turned on the TV while I started fixing supper.
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So often I hear stories and see with my own eyes the damage brought about when parents separate. Children from split families often struggle with insecurity, and a string of psychological conditions. This is a subject extremely close to my heart, as I was estranged from my father from the age of 10 until I was an adult, and I still battle with the internal scars it caused me.
After doing some research I found some shocking statistics effecting children whose parents are no longer together. Not only are the children from split families prone to psychological distress, which lasts well into adulthood. These statistics also showed frightening increased levels in the following areas when compared to children from homes with both parents, these include; lower grades, poverty, poor health, suicidal tendencies, incarceration, teen drug and alcohol abuse, early sexual encounters, and the likelihood of being victims of child abuse and assault. 40% of children growing up in America today are being raised without their fathers; commonly the case in Australia also. Half of the children in America and Australia will witness the separation or divorce of their parents. A study of children six years after a parental marriage breakup revealed that even after all that time, these children tended to be “lonely, unhappy, anxious and insecure”.
It seems that many marriage vows are no longer taken as an actual ‘vow’, it is a promise too easily broken, same goes for people who chose to have children together without considering how the child may be effected if there is no family unit. For example when I learned of my teen pregnancy I knew I would manage on my own just as my Mum had, but I never considered how my child might be affected by who her father was. It seemed irrelevant to me, because I was a child who grew up without a father, and at that time I thought I had turned out ok. (Ha! I can tick off well over half of the points above!)
Due to the rampant popularity of sex before marriage, it has become more common to agree to have a child with someone before we have even decided if we would marry them. Having a child together should be acknowledged as an even stronger commitment than marriage, yet this often fails to be the case. Children from separated families raising their own children are sometimes unable to see the consequences from that separation, as they have not developed the self-awareness to see their true internal stability or instability yet. Therefore the cycle continues and increases throughout society.
So often in our relationships we allow too easily the bumps of life to divide us, we live in a throw away, walk away society which has destructive, devastating consequences to the development of our characters and the spiritual “footprints” we leave behind. Western culture allows us to choose our own life partners, we choose out of emotion, need and desire, and then quickly, easily, we doubt our choice. Perhaps we assume it was the wrong choice because our previous lessons came from one of our bad decisions. Perhaps its because we didn’t apply Godly principles of LOVE to our relationships. Perhaps it is just too hard and we give up in search of something easier, of course we forget that it was not meant to be easy. For children this destroys their ingrained belief in the capability of their parents. The very foundation of a child’s perspective of stability and security comes from the belief that their parents are the most capable people on earth, they look to them for reassurance. When parents fail to work on their relationship and it breaks down, so does the trust of their children in them.
The emotions behind the reasons we chose our life partners are fickle! Once powerful and thought-consuming, eventually will change, develop, or even disappear completely over time. We are humans with much baggage and sin, and we expect our life partners to miraculously fill our empty places and help us carry the baggage weighing us down, and that means they are hoping the same from us also. Love and sexual connections actually allow our baggage and sinful nature to rise to the surface, so that we can face it and deal with it together as a couple. However, the ‘Better or Worse’ promise only seems to apply when we see their ‘better’ side, and we stop loving them when faced with their ‘worst’, too often facing each others sinful baggage causes much heartache and leads to bitterness and separation.
Speaking from personal experience, this is something I spend most of my time in therapy dealing with. The essence of both parents is within a child; therefore any bitterness viewed by a child from one parent toward the other is identified in some way as bitterness towards a part of them. It sends confusing messages into the inner foundation of their self-love and security.
Due to this inner battle, where I turned this bitterness upon myself, I have suffered from an incredible amount of insecurity, unsure of how anyone can truly love me because it took years for me to learn to accept myself, like myself, let alone LOVE myself.
The enemy within knows our inner wounds and is out to destroy the foundation of all of God’s designs, especially the functional family unit.The inner enemy can exaggerate our emotions, pointing to the hurt or painful memories over and over, knowing the action that follows will be a destructive one. We owe it to our children to use our inner angels to war against these emotions, striving to make sure our actions are the result of a selfless, logical decision and not a selfish, emotional one. We need to call on our Heavenly Father, knowing that our obedience to Him allows His promise to protect our children to be fulfilled.
Didn’t we make a secret promise to our children when we became parents? We would do anything to keep them safe. Their inner security is vital when determining the ‘safer’ path they will walk in their lives and it is our duty to steady their feet for their journey ahead.