Giving in to Anger, is Gambling with Your Mental Health

“Anger is a distraction,” my mom said, “it’s a person’s way of distracting themselves from the real problems (or pain) in their lives instead of dealing with them.  And you pay a price for it.”

Yesterday, I had a conversation with my mom about why people, especially women (myself included), will often fly into irrational anger – even if they seem responsible, calm, and kind in everyday interactions.  Yes, it’s irrational anger.  To be furious at something that is true, and then to feel the superior prerogative to attack someone out of anger, is irrational behavior.  It is one thing to be angry, it is quite another to lash out at others in your anger.

“And you pay a price for it.”

This is what ultimately is the key to avoiding giving in to unhealthy actions that come from feeling angry.  When my mom was in her 20’s-30’s, she had to learn to deal with her anger, and she admitted to me that she had a lot of it back then.  It was easy to fly into it, to express her anger, and she gave little thought to what expressing it cost her.  In the 1970’s, it was popular psychology to feel confident in expressing your anger or rage.  Now, from recent science on this subject, we actually know that when you express it, your anger doesn’t get better, in fact, it actually gets worse and grows into more and more… anger.  In extreme cases, giving in to your anger can cause abuse or even murder.  Indeed, even Jesus described an angry tongue as being capable of “murdering” someone, how much more so when one is giving in to their feelings of anger in a truly violent way.

It wasn’t until my mom came across a book by Abraham Low, Mental Health Through Will-Training, first published in 1950, that she learned that giving in to anger, is “gambling with your mental health.”

When you feel those feelings of anger or “temper” as Low describes it, your peace and inner solitude are disrupted… you’re rendered ineffective and distracted from accomplishing the tasks of your daily life well.

“You can pay the price of that for days,” said my mom.  It tangles you up, wastes your precious energy, and robs you of your mental strength and health.

***

A large part of being mentally healthy, is to understand how to remain calm, responsible, and how to deal with your own anger.

Dealing with your anger means simply not acting out in it.  It means having self-control.  Humility instead of “intellectual snobbishness” (the desire to show superiority).  To have enough character to behave courteously, friendly… in order to create good will with people you are required to do everyday life with, and strangers you may not know.  Being a mentally healthy person means you take all these things into account, and ACT accordingly.

Yes, being mentally healthy means having wisdom and discernment to know you are obligated to control your actions and behavior.

Being mentally healthy means you do not give yourself permission to lose your temper and lash out in anger against others.  To lose your self-control and pay the price of your peace, the embarrassment, the destructive temper feelings, and the shame that comes when you’re finished giving in to your emotions and realize the damage you caused.

I talk about my mom often on my blog, she was instrumental to a lot of the knowledge I have, and who I’ve become as a woman, wife, and mother to my children.  She really was amazing growing up, always giving advice and beautiful instruction on life.  It is wonderful to still have her here, and yes, she does know about & read my blog.  One of the things she did when we were young was to read a Proverbs chapter a day, based on the days of the month.  I’ll never forget the way she’d read the Bible to my brother and I as we were curled up next to her, and I’ll never forget hearing those words of wisdom as they are still with me.

Here are some of the great verses to remind us what God says about anger and losing our temper:

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.  Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.

Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of the one who lacks sense.”  Proverbs 10:11-13

***

The lips of the righteous feed many with their instructions….  The mouth of the righteous produces wisdom…. The lips of the righteous know what is appropriate….” Proverbs 10:21a, 30a, 32a

“An evil person is trapped by their rebellious speech, but the righteous escapes from trouble.

A man will be satisfied with good because of the words he chooses to speak....”  Proverbs 12:13-14a

***

“With the words of their mouth, the ungodly destroys their neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous are rescued.

Whoever shows contempt for their neighbor lacks good sense, but a person with understanding keeps silent.

“A gracious woman gains honor….  A kind person benefits their own self, but a cruel person brings disaster on themselves.”  Proverbs 11:9, 12, 16a, 17

***

“The thoughts of the righteous are just, but guidance from the wicked leads to deceit.

The words of the wicked are a deadly ambush, but the speech of the upright rescues them.

A fool’s displeasure is known at once, but whoever ignores an insult is sensible.  

Whoever speaks the truth declares what is right….

There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Truthful lips endure forever….

Those who promote peace have joy.

A righteous person is careful in how they deal with their neighbor….”

Proverbs 12:5-6, 16, 17a, 18, 19a, 20b

***

A patient person shows great understanding, but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness.

A tranquil heart is life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones. ” Proverbs 14:29-30

***

A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive, but the mouth of fools blurts out (without self-control) folly.

The tongue that heals is a tree of life, but a devious tongue breaks the spirit.

The lips of the wise broadcast knowledge….

A hot-tempered man stirs up conflict, but a man slow to anger calms strife.

The mind of the righteous thinks before answering, but the mouth of the wicked blurts out evil things.”

Proverbs 15:1-2,4, 7a, 18

***

When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Patience is better than power,

and controlling one’s temper, than capturing an entire city.”

Proverbs 16:7, 32

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Some beautiful music for you!

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I’ve been thinking much on attitude and what we allow ourselves to dwell on… either beauty… or ugliness.

Its so tempting to dwell on what’s ugly – be it a woman who chooses to criticize others, or spectating as women fight with each other and go to gossip sites to find what’s new and ugly so they can dwell on the ugliness.  Perhaps that’s why we are commanded to dwell on what is noble, pure, honorable, just, beautiful and lovely, anything praiseworthy, because God understood that it would be a sinful indulgence.

To fill our hearts with a beautiful attitude that reflects what we’ve been dwelling on is beautiful.

To share the beauty of our lives is an art and divine.

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There’s nothing more beautiful than a happy baby in my opinion.  Happy and full of joy – reflecting God’s beauty in his face, his bright eyes.  Caring for him, in the words of a friend, is my “resume.”  I’m getting to spend my energy instead of in an office cubicle, actually making children into confident, happy, and successful adults – I should be dwelling more on this for myself. 🙂

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Our garden is growing!  With all the flooding that happened in May and June, our tomato plants have turned into monsters!  The beautiful work of planting, weeding, pruning and harvesting the fruit or veggies is worth dwelling on and relishing!  Being in our garden is just such a wonderful, peaceful feeling.

I understand why God put Adam and Eve in a paradise garden existence… it was to give them beauty.  Beauty that was untouched by sin.

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Lavender has been a great plant for me… I’ve been crushing it into a fragrant kind of potpourri for baths and teas!

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The afternoon sun shining down into our cute little garden.

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Sweet Christian, You Do Not Have to Embrace Everyone

I had to be up early this morning to make an appointment, and was able to listen to my favorite pastors’ and their teachings while driving into the heart of our city during rush hour traffic.  It’s been almost 2 years since I did this every day while working, and hearing their voices was like being embraced by old friends.  Hearing God’s truths, the encouragement from Scripture,being reminded of the love God has for His children, and hearing practical ways to deal with tricky situations are things that I miss from these daily doses of Truth.

This morning, Chuck Swindoll spoke on 2 Timothy, a book where Paul is writing from prison and giving advice and admonishment to his understudy, Timothy.  Paul talks about Timothy’s childhood, his faith development, and Chuck pointed out an interesting passage that takes most Christians by surprise.

Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.  (2 Timothy 4:14-15)

Paul is talking here about a man that he met on his spiritual and physical journey while doing God’s work that did him great harm.  We don’t know exactly what the harm was, but it is clear it is much more than mere physical violence as Paul endured so much of that from the hands of so many others that by this point, you can almost be sure that Paul is talking about a wound of the spirit, an emotional harm.

He warns Timothy about this man, possibly this man would seek Timothy out, either to verbally assail him or by quietly pretending to be a friend (as people often do) in order to get close to him.  For some reason, Paul decided it was very necessary to warn Timothy about this man.  Not only did Paul tell Timothy to watch out for him, he then goes on to tell him to “guard against him.”  It is very common that the man and women like this are involved somehow in spreading God’s word, a fellow Christian even that will engage in spiritual abuse in harming you.  Chuck talked extensively about men and women in the church who use their power and influence to manipulate, shame, or control their members to get them to comply out of condemnation.  For whatever reason, Paul is very adamant that Timothy should be wary of ever trusting this person.  This implies that the man would try to get close to Timothy -close enough to harm him, to allow him to enter his life… Paul loves Timothy, desires his ultimate good and spiritual growth, and does not want him to endure the pain and “great harm” that he endured at this man’s pursuit of him.

Guard against him.

I love that Paul doesn’t say something moderate like, “Well, he did me great harm, but you know… people are entitled to their own opinions and convictions, and we should all just accept him even though he attacked me ruthlessly.”

He doesn’t say, “Well, he did do me great harm, but you know, Timothy, if I had only been stronger, I would have responded better and could have made a relationship work with this kind of person.”

He doesn’t say, “Well, he is a fellow Christian, and even though he did do me great harm, we should keep him in the fellowship and try to view him as a good neighbor.”

No.  He doesn’t say any of that.  Paul does not excuse someone who does “great harm” to another, especially if that person claims to be a brother or sister in Christ.

It is extremely important to note people who are supposedly “in Christ” with you, who feel right and justified in doing others (or you) “great harm.”  We should allow ourselves to “be wary” of them.

If you are like me, you’ve failed at this in the past and because of being sweet or kind – thinking you were being a good Christian, and have allowed the malicious gossip, the envious shrew, or the backstabbing brother to stay in your life to your own detriment.

Sweet Christian, you do not have to just embrace everyone who comes to you disguised as a friend or brother or sister in Christ. There are many that watch you, haunt your footsteps, or purposefully seek you out for motivations other than building you up or encouraging you in your journey of growth.  It was clear that Paul must have been worried that Timothy would somehow come in contact with this man, otherwise the warning would not be included in the Bible.  Perhaps the man, knowing Paul was passing on the baton of spiritual advancement of the gospel, knew that Timothy would be next, and would be inclined to pursue Timothy to distract and spiritually attack him (like he did to Paul).

The Lord will repay him for his deeds

I love how Paul is so confident that it is out of his hands, that he does not have to worry at all if this man will ever get his due punishment for harming him spiritually or emotionally.  God takes care of it. He is the ultimate “avenger” talked about in Isaiah.  And He is a righteous judge who looks not on the outside, but on the inside to see the heart of a person.  He can tell the difference between someone with a pure or ugly diseased heart, and He will punish accordingly, and according to their deeds.  You don’t have to worry about them at all.

In another sermon I once heard Chuck do, he talked about this passage again, and claimed that the ONLY way to live your life after being harmed by someone like this is to try to live your life as if they don’t exist.  I was shocked to hear him say this, he is so wise and mature, I thought that Christians just had to “suck it up” and endure whatever abuse others felt like they were allowed to pour out on us.

No, sweet Christian, you don’t have allow someone to harm you.  God will take care of them, and you can go on living a beautiful life, carrying the torch in your sphere of influence without any fear or hindrance from the evil one who seeks to emotionally and spiritually destroy you.

Advice

1) Guard your heart and your treasure.  Guard against people like this.  They will try to shame or guilt you into accepting them – because you are a sweet Christian, they will undoubtedly try to take advantage of your good character.  Just like Satan, they will try to use your good-heartedness against you so that you allow them into your circle or life.  Guard your heart carefully, if you know someone is a malicious gossip, a two-faced Christian, do not embrace them regardless of how they may try to ruin your reputation for rejecting them.

2) Understand there will be hardship to endure.  Sometimes a person like this will go to a higher authority in order to try to force you to allow them to be in your life.  Disregarding your personal boundaries, they will try to find loop holes, or ways to further ruin your reputation to get revenge because of your wise decision not to engage with them.  Understand that when Satan brings someone like this into your life, there will be hardship in dealing with them, either emotionally or spiritually.

3) Endure it Patiently.  It will pass, be patient and eventually they will leave you alone.  People like this are never happy, are not fulfilling their God given tasks and duties, are bored or looking for strife and conflict, and eventually, they will fade away from your life like the grass.  You will look for them and won’t be able to find them someday, as God will snuff them out and cause them to be ineffective (because they pursue things He doesn’t want them to pursue).  Its merely a contention of keeping the big picture (a greater perspective) in mind, visualizing how you will respond to someone like this: with firm clear and honest boundaries.  You can tell them exactly what you think of them, what they have done wrong (to others or to you in the past), in order to help them understand why you are rejecting them.  Telling them clearly and firmly is a last ditch effort to help them stop continuing in a direction that is bad for them, for others, and for their future.

4) Stand firm in your journey.  Stand firm in setting boundaries with these kinds of two-faced people.  Do not allow them to trample on your soul or make a mess in the place that God’s given you to witness to others in.  There is hope in enduring these kinds of trials, it makes us stronger and more effective Christians.  We are more compassionate when we’ve faced suffering and harsh treatment, less likely to shame or try to punish others (glorifying ourselves in the process).  Use it to find the strength God’s given you.

5) Take the torch and pass it on.  There is still Truth to proclaim.  Keep doing God’s work, helping others who want to be helped.  Chuck talked about how we as Christians have become so soft.  At the first sign of dealing with someone evil or spiritually attacking us, we fold up and cower under them.

There is still truth to proclaim in your own unique sphere of influence.  You cannot allow one person to harm you so that you are rendered too emotional or ineffective in proclaiming God’s truths anymore.  We must be emotionally and spiritually stronger than that!  Have iron in our bones.  And stand firm.

“God wants us to be on our feet, engaged in the battle, standing firm and guarding against any kind of wolf in sheep’s clothing that would do us great harm in our spiritual tasks and journey.  Run hard, run well.  May we be found faithful and passionate in our service to Him.” Chuck Swindoll

If You Feel Detached This Memorial Day… Read This

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Memorial Day poppies, Symbolized in 1915

If you feel detached this Memorial day, unable to really connect with the kind of sacrifice that is given by the men and women who have died for our country, I have some movies to suggest to you.  Movies that my husband has forced me to watch (:) ) the past few months with him, and it’s been riveting.

It’s hard to connect sometimes with things we haven’t experienced or don’t fully understand.  We see the other side of war, the beauty that comes from when it succeeds or ends.  There is an old story of the Memorial Day poppy, the symbolic flower of remembrance, began with in the Spring of 1915, when the fields of Belgium, France, and Gallipoli were covered with the tiny red blossoms.  It was after a long, cold winter of war, the ground and soil were broken up and torn enough to initiate the poppy seeds into germination.

Desolate battlefields of red flowers became fraught with clusters of delicate, bright poppies.  Death, horror, and loss of brave soldiers fighting in war, were then remembered, marked, with the poppies that came from their fight.  Beauty from pain.  Beauty from ashes.  Beauty from hopelessness.

Sacrifice.

It’s hard to understand the depth of their sacrifice unless you’ve been in the situation yourself, have seen your friends die in combat, or have lost one of your loved ones.

My husband and I watched these movies with the same theme of war, love, and sacrifice.  I’m not the kind of woman who actively seeks out dramatic, fight scene kind of movies, but let me tell you… these movies, are AMAZING.  You will come away feeling at least a little more appreciation for the men and women who have died for our country, and the families that supported them.

Act of Valor

In Act of Valor, there are frequent disturbing, but necessary, scenes of a woman being brutally tortured – she is the package they must receive and rescue.  It is a movie that transports you into a place you likely have never been, and never want to be.  The life of a Navy Seal.  You are the woman the terrorists have captured and who are drilling holes through her hands, dragging across the floor while she’s covered in blood and in chains, you are the men who know exactly what she is enduring, and are on a race against the clock to try to recover her before she gives up the will to live, or is killed.  You hear her screams echoing through the rain forest, as you’re going through the necessary tactical commands and movements in order to complete your operation.  This movie showed me the horror that goes on without us even knowing as we live our cushy lives filled with blatant ignorance of all the terrorists in the world craving to do us evil.  It was amazing, intense, and horrifying.  It showed the bravery of the men and women by putting you in their place, in their thoughts, in their very emotions.

Zero Dark Thirty

This is the movie about the inspiring dedication and perseverance it took to catch Osama Bin Laden.  It is produced by the interesting and elusive Gen-Y rebel and heiress, Megan Ellison (29).  It follows the true story, with its real life heroine and characters, however, it has the disclaimer that it is only a movie, not a documentary.  I found it riveting and fascinating… brutally hard to watch, and yet, I was filled with desire to know what would happen next, sitting on the edge of my seat, muscles completely and utterly tense.

No matter one’s beliefs on the political overtones of the CIA using torture methods on terrorists, and this film deliberately showing that they worked, it is an intriguing movie that will make you all the more thankful to be protected by people who dedicate their entire lives, looking every waking second for the evil that hunts us.

 

 End of Watch

A movie about police sacrifice, although they are not Veterans coming back from, or giving their lives in war, these men and women serve in a different kind of way.  I talked with a Marine who has been on 3 tours, and he assured me that the Police Officer has to constantly be on watch, he will never get to be a “Veteran” until he hangs up his vest and puts away his gun.  He is always “deployed,” even though he gets to come home at night.  This movie was a humorous, beautiful, tear-jerking look inside what a real police life feels like.  The main character and his humor reminded me so much of my husband it made it very hard to watch in some respect.  Even as I write this post, one of my husband’s friends just had to deal with a violent drunk, in a thunderstorm of our flooding city, and then drive him to jail as he took a shit in his car.

But they would take that over a boring desk job any day.

 

 

Thank you to all who sacrifice.

May we always remember.

Submission… Is it really a dirty word?

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When my husband and I were first married, we had a major problem… we had one car (his truck), and I couldn’t drive it.  It was a manual – a stickshift – something both my parents knew how to drive, but I hadn’t a clue.  My car that I drove while living with my parents and in college had been an automatic, they saw no value in my going out of my way to learn how to drive a stick.  So that first year, my husband took it upon himself to try to teach me how to drive his truck, there was much laughter, some choice words, lots of screaming as the truck seemed to take on a life of it’s own, bucking like a bronco, lunging forward or peeling out only to come to a bracing stop!  It was so wild.

We would practice my driving in the parking lot of a nearby mall where my husband worked security late at night after it had closed.  His security guys would sit and watch the show, laughing at the tragedy.  It took months for me to really understand how to drive his truck, but it was months of flirting, teasing, and moments of near-death experiences (ok… kidding… well, almost) that bonded us through the whole experience.  It was horrible, and yet so fun!  His teaching me how to drive his truck really cemented that we were in this together… for the long haul!

After only a couple of weeks of marriage, I started working down the street from the mall at a bookstore.  There was a man there about my husband’s age that was newly married as well, and had just celebrated his first year anniversary.  They also had a standard car, but his wife refused to let him teach her drive it.  I was surprised and asked him if he wanted me to talk her into it, the whole experience had been difficult, and I still didn’t have it down yet, but I was confident my husband would be able to teach me eventually.  We really had no other choice.  It was either I learn how to drive his truck, or I wouldn’t be able to get groceries on my own, run errands, or take over driving in case of an emergency.

I was confident that he would also be able to teach his wife how to drive their car, and tried to encourage him to get it done like we were doing, but he explained that she wanted nothing to do with it, and that it was no use.  When I met her a few months later, I was dismayed at the way she treated her husband in front of all of us at work.  Emasculated, disrespected, or disregarded are words that don’t even begin to cover what I saw her do to him in less than 5 minutes of watching them interact.  She was flat-out insulting towards him, there was no pretense of sweetness or kindness, even in public in front of his colleagues.  She humiliated him.  For just celebrating their one year anniversary, I couldn’t imagine what the future held for this couple.

This is a dramatic example, I don’t think most wives treat their husbands with such obvious contempt, but I do think that, in the privacy of our homes, women are much more apt to “refuse” to honor our husbands, to submit to them and what they desire for us and our marriage.  Is submission really that big of a deal?  Do wives that are Christian really have to submit to their husbands’ leadership?  Yes, and yes.

Submission is that big of a deal.  Even in the little things.  With every time that we don’t submit or take into account what our husbands want, we insult him.  Yes, insult.  We send him the message that we don’t think he should be our leader, that we don’t think he is mature enough, that we don’t believe in him, he isn’t intelligent enough, trustworthy enough.  Even if we say we believe he is all of these things, when we don’t honor him or try to correct him, we send the subliminal message that we know better – that we should be the leader over him, that he isn’t capable, we undermine his God-given ability to lead.  As long as our husbands aren’t using drugs or alcohol, have untreated mental disorders, or are abusive, submission is crucial to maintaining the fabric of a beautifully woven tapestry that is marriage.  He is the leader God’s given you, and you are the helper God’s given to him, both roles cannot be done without the other, they are equally as valuable, but equally distinctive from one another.

There cannot be two followers, two helpers, there has to naturally be one leader.  And likewise, there cannot be two leaders, that has to naturally be at least one follower, or there will be constant contention and strife as they argue or fight about who has the right to lead and to where.  Just like how we serve God, He alone is our Master, we cannot follow two Masters because they would have different goals, different ideologies or paths.  We would end up following one a little more than the other, so that following them equally would be impossible.  God’s design for one leader, the husband, in marriage is for the purpose of a marriage working smoothly, beautifully, the way He intended it should.

So what does submission really look like?

Submission is letting your husband know that you love him, that you trust his guidance, that you believe in his capability in leading you both in the right direction.  Submission is allowing him to have the final word, even if you disagree, think it could be a bad decision, or dislike his idea.  This does not mean that a wife must stand idly by and let him make, in her opinion, a bad decision without interjecting any of her thoughts; it simply means that she gives the ultimate answer, the final word to him.  Wives are important in helping their husbands in decision-making, their opinions are usually of great value to the men they’re married to, but wives have the responsibility to be led, and to do so in a way that honors her husband, because she honors God.  Making it hard for him to lead her is dishonoring not only him, but God who has set him before her.

Wives really are called to submit to their husbands, it is God’s plan and design for marriage.  When we aren’t trusting our husbands enough to lead us, to submit to their decisions or plans, we are ultimately not trusting God and His leadership.  If we want to obey God, we will make every effort to treat our husbands with respect, and shift our attitudes to that which God wants us to be.

If your husband desires that you learn how to drive standard because that is your only option for driving, and he cannot afford to buy you another car at that moment, honoring him is obeying him, and making every effort to learn how to drive that car.  If your husband desires that you help him get ready for work, make him his lunch so that getting out the door is easier, submission looks like the wife willingly packing his lunch, filling up his water bottle, and ensuring she gets everything ready before he needs to head out the door.  Honoring him cheerfully, giving lovingly.  Letting him know that he is worth it to her, that she looks up to him, even when she would rather not.  If she really wants to let him know how much she loves him, she’ll do a little extra – pack in a couple of his favorite sweets for a surprise, add in a handwritten love note for him to find at work.  Submitting to her husband is doing all of this, even when she’d rather focus on the kids eating their lunches, or take a nap, or “let him make his own sandwich. Submission is having an attitude of love shown in action, through making him his lunch, not because he isn’t capable of doing it himself, but because you think highly enough of him to make his life easier.  

Honoring him means showing him through tangible, everyday actions of sacrifice, the same that he does when he gives up being single, taking on a wife that he will work to support for the rest of his life.  He sacrifices everyday, every year, when uses almost the totality of his paycheck to support his wife and children, gives up his old hobbies and pleasures so that he can work extra hours for that vacation, or be a great dad in the evenings or on the weekends attending soccer games and family functions that are meaningful to his children and his wife.  Marriage is fulfilling, but only when it’s done the way God designed it.

To finish the story of our truck driving escapades, I ended up falling in love with driving stick… the feel of the road, the feel of the car – it was so much better than driving automatic, and I couldn’t imagine going back.  Because I was willing to learn even though it took a few months, we were able to wait on buying another car for the next 3 years of our marriage when we absolutely had to because we had our first son and needed space for a carseat.  I ended up choosing a stick, and we found that for cars, it was actually a couple thousand cheaper.

Trusting him to teach me to drive was a good decision, and one that still brings us joy when we look back on those wild, exhilarating rides in that abandoned parking lot late at night.  My husband often would tell me he thought it was sexy that I could drive his truck… and you know… it kind of is!  🙂

Single Man Gets Berated For Daring to Have Standards for Women’s Behavior

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I witnessed today on my FB newsfeed, a single man get berated by a female “friend” for daring to have standards for how he expects to be treated by a woman (his potential future wife) in the singles’ dating market.  For the sake of the post, I call him Matt and the shaming, criticizing woman will be called Megan.

Matt had used Match.com’s online connection to chat with a 40 year-old single mom, who was very upfront about not wanting anymore children, and very demanding on finding out if he wanted children or not.  He answered candidly & honestly, that he was just seeing where things would go and wasn’t ready to take things that fast yet.  He thought nothing of his reply, however, she abruptly ended their conversation in a rude, harsh manner that left him wondering why she thought she was so entitled to treat another person so callously.

He couldn’t understand why the 40 yr old was so harsh, and why she would shut him down immediately.  Single moms in their 40’s don’t have a lot of options, they’ve wasted their youth and the majority of their beauty either sleeping with many men, hopping from relationship to relationship, or in a marriage that ended in divorce.  He wondered in his comments, why she (and women he’s encountered while dating online in general) aren’t more open-minded, more willing to bend, why they have a long list of must haves (even at that advanced an age in the dating market), and will next a guy at the slightest hint of missing her mark.

I replied to him what I’ve learned about older women.  They really are less willing to bend, more close-minded when it comes to looking at men.   They “know what they want,” are extremely (and often arrogantly) opinionated, and they feel as though they deserve to have their way.  He mentioned that she acted like it was “her way or the highway,” and it is, exactly that for a lot of women in this age-range.  Their entitlement is felt through the way they treat men like my single guy friend, if he isn’t of use to them, they’ll callously cast him aside into a pile of trash – they don’t bother to be courteous or kind to a man that will not suit their draft horse desires.  If he isn’t exactly what they want, they won’t stay long to see if he has any “redeeming qualities” because in their mind, they deserve the perfect man.  It might not have been completely this case with this particular woman, but this is something I’ve read is very common in the online dating market.

Women at her stage of life, are either in tune with their real-life options, and therefore go about trying to catch someone who “fits” what they want, or they are out of tune, and falsely believe they will have an easier time finding a man than what the reality is that they face.  She is on the hunt, and is on the losing side of time when it comes to finding a desirable man as every year she ages, more and more men will be turned on by younger women.

A woman in this position would do well to maximize her marriage value – embrace her femininity, kindness, caring qualities.  Take the time to work on her outward appearance to make sure she is the most beautiful she can possibly be at her age.  The 40 yr old single mom did not exhibit kindness, or even courteous behavior towards Matt, and he remarked on how unnecessary it was.  He said that showing kindness when turning someone down is rare, but still very desirable and attractive – how would she know that he didn’t happen to know a man who would fit her desires?

I was drawn in to his post on FB when I saw Megan, a friend of his, start to shame him for “judging” the 40 yr old single mom who treated him harshly.  Megan said she was trying to “Call him out,” for his behavior in judging her, and to think upon what would Jesus do?  Would Jesus have posted about his experience with her?  She accused him of detailing his whole life on facebook, which he doesn’t, of “gossiping”… never-mind he never once let any personal details or the name of this woman come to light in his post.  She instructed him that he should “love” all women, and not judge them at all… because you know, he’s a Christian and a Christian wouldn’t/shouldn’t judge others or use their godly discernment in deciding on a future marriage partner.  I was appalled to see a woman had instructed my single friend to turn a blind eye to how women treat him, to give them a pass because they have a vagina, so I jumped in and set her straight.  She became so flustered and righteously angry with me when she couldn’t argue with any of my valid points that she deleted all her shaming/bullying comments, and left him alone.

Her reaction was typical of women when they see a single man complain at all about his struggles in the dating realm – they either passively sympathize with him, or outright shame him for not bucking up and taking the mistreatment, but virtually no woman is brave enough to give him any real advice or send him to where he can get it.

Matt was merely relating a life experience he had in the dating market with an anonymous woman, an uncomfortable experience because he felt mistreated, and felt that he could trust his fellow female friends to give him their take on why women behave this way.

But he’s a man… he should just take what he gets right?

 

I mean, how dare he have standards?

 

Frenemies

I was thinking this week on the topic of friendships, what constitutes a good friendship, and what the balance really is between telling a friend how it is (for their good) and putting them down.  Where is the line between healthy competition between genuine friends and then competition where one seeks to sabatoge the other’s success?

What is a frenemy?  It is a difficult definition for sure… and I’ve honestly never wanted to keep such an oxymoron in my life.  Some may say, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” but I’ve found that philosophy to be a set up for back-stabbing and major disappointment.  A person who desires, or who constantly plays the role, of being your “enemy,” really has no valid place in your life right now, and certainly not in your future.  I’ve always held the position that “frenemies” should also see the door as soon as possible in one’s life.

What is a friend?

Someone who supports you in life, who is there for you.  Someone who is joyful when they see you celebrating a real success in your life.  I recently had a close friend try to shame me for posting on social media (and here on my personal blog) about my journey in weight loss after the baby, trying to teach other women how it can be done, to encourage them to not gain over the recommended weight from the doctors, and to provide my personal workout routine and advice for how I was able to lose the weight… twice!  Instead of being happy for me like most of my other friends, this girl felt upset when she saw my post… instead of sharing in my joy, she felt negative feelings inside that were her own.  “It doesn’t help” to see someone lose it fast,” she said, and insinuated that I’m shaming the women who can’t lose the baby weight for whatever reason.  We talked about it for about an hour, and eventually I learned her insecurity over my success was coming from her mother telling her growing up that she and her sister were the reasons she had excess weight – that having children ruined her body forever.  She was viewing my success through a lens of fear & scarcity mentality, a false premise that people can’t control what happens to their bodies regarding pregnancy weight gain/loss.  The truth is that we can control the majority of what happens to our bodies, pregnancy or otherwise.  We control what we eat, if we are eating the correct foods that our bodies react well to, how much we gain, and even our hormones can be controlled when they are out of whack.  We control how much weight we gain in pregnancy, and we control if we decide to exercise during it or not.  We control how fast we lose the weight afterwards, and in no small part, that is directly related to how we treated our bodies during the pregnancy as well.

There does need to be caution that we aren’t causing people to stumble, but losing baby weight after a pregnancy is something most people are proud of, and rightfully so!  It is hard work, and takes dedication through either having a very healthy-minded pregnancy, making sure your body is staying strong, or doing the hard work of getting back in shape afterwards.  I already know what I’m going to do for my next pregnancy in regards to controlling my weight and strength and health in general.  With each pregnancy it gets easier because I have more knowledge of what works for my body, and how my body responds.  I’m able to draw up a plan in my mind of how I’m going to better deal with the difficulties next time, because each time I learn something new.

A big part of my success in things like losing the baby weight, or parenting kindly or gently, is making sure I surround myself with friends who are supportive of my goals, and with me in my journey of life.  I learn from other mommy friends what worked for them, or we share how hard pregnancy is – how hard it is to just get yourself off the couch, let alone try to go for a walk or a run!  One mommy friend I have was running regularly up until the very day that she went into labor – and hearing her share that success, filled me with awe and joy for her!  Her success motivated and inspired my own success.  That is a good friendship.

When it comes down to it, we all have to make critical decisions of who we really want to hold close in our lives.  Do you want that person to be close, who cannot share joy when you lose your baby weight fast?  Or who makes rude comments about your furniture mismatching in your house, and then turns around and pretends that she is Miss Etiquette and tries to teach you how to behave when you’re her guest?  Do you really want someone that two-faced close to your heart, where they can conveniently stab it?

My answer is always no.

Friends are not your enemies, and they never should be.

Kids & Bad Attitudes

This morning, we were getting back into the swing of things of doing school in the morning for my 4 year old son.  I’d made bean and cheese tacos for breakfast, beautiful music was playing softly in the background, that sweet coffee aroma filled the house, and the sunlight was shining through the gray clouds, gently lighting up our sun room/classroom area.  It felt like the perfect Spring morning.

We love Spring.  We love celebrating the Jewish holiday, Purim, where it is remembered how one brave woman, a Jewish girl who became the Persian Queen Esther, saved all the Jews in Persia.  We love how our crazy city celebrates St. Patrick’s day by dumping gallons of green dye into our river…

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But this morning, my son was not ready to come back from break.  He didn’t want to practice writing, and he became frustrated with himself when he would try to write with a dry erase marker and mess up because it was writing “too fat.”  He eventually stopped, folded his arms, made the cutest face of disgust and anger & decided to sulk.  Ironically, he’d stopped in frustration when he only had one last letter to write as part of his practice words.

Aren’t we all a little (or a lot) just like that?

We give up in frustration, or become easily angry when something minor goes wrong and decide to sulk for the rest of the time.  Even while enjoying a perfect serene morning, one little frustration can pollute our entire outlook and attitude in life.

After I motivated him to finish that one last letter, I decided to impose a break so that we could learn about Joseph.

Dear Joseph.  That sweet boy who bragged too much, he was the 2nd youngest child, with 10 older brothers – all of whom had a mother whom their father loved less than his own.  He was the special & favored child, along with his younger sibling, because they were born from the wife Jacob really desired and loved.  To make matters worse, his father decided to give him a special coat – a brightly colored symbol of how much more he loved Joseph than the rest of his children.

His brothers despised him because of this, and hearing him brag about the dreams God was giving him sent them over the edge – they plotted to kill him and make it look like an accident.  They threw him into a well, decided to say an animal had killed him, and ended up selling their brother into Egyptian slavery.

While I was relaying these events to my son I asked him if he thought Joseph had a bad attitude at what God had allowed to happen to him, and he said yes.  How could Joseph not?  This young, coddled boy, never used to being without, the favored child of his father, suddenly betrayed so abruptly that he found himself at the bottom of the totem pole in the slave trade.  He’d more than likely never worked a day of hard labor in his life, and now he would be solely valued based on his ability to work & labor for the rest of his life.

But Joseph… that sweet young man, didn’t.  He didn’t let his circumstances dictate his choice of how he would respond.  He decided to become the best slave.  He was so faithful, so trustworthy, and such a dedicated worker, that his owner, Captain of the guard Potiphar, decided to make him preside over everything he owned!

Then enter Potiphar’s wife.  It was the classic set-up of the bored housewife and the hired hand.  Joseph had grown up to be “handsome & built,” he was not only intelligent and good-looking, he was now rough and masculine.  She wanted him to be with her – but he would never be with a married woman, let alone the wife of the very man who trusted him with everything he had.  I admire Joseph so much, he could have easily rationalized that having his master’s wife on the side would’ve made up for the injustice of what had happened to him in life.

But he didn’t.

He chose to have integrity, and he paid dearly for it.  She accused him of harming her (child’s version – you know she accused him of false-rape), and Joseph lost everything he had built for himself – his reputation, work ethic, the trust of Potiphar, and he was thrown into jail as a prisoner who had raped an official’s wife.

He went from being a treasured & pampered son, to a slave whose only value was based on what he could do, to a prisoner and forever remembered sex offender.  I explained to my son how even when we do the right thing, we can still be punished and have to suffer because of it.  But did being a prisoner and convicted rapist let Joseph give in to having a bad attitude?

No.  Joseph rose up the ranks within the prison to become the Prison Guard.  He went from being held behind the bars to being the man who held the keys to the others’ freedom.  His attitude, his integrity and trust in God gave him power to rise above his circumstances. Joseph still chose to keep a good attitude, and it showed in the way people reacted to him.

I didn’t go on, even though Joseph’s whole story is truly inspiring, this 5 minute break was enough to shift my son’s thinking – he was genuinely in awe of Joseph and his attitude.  My son’s entire outlook changed, we prayed and he went over to his little brother and hugged him.  And I read him this last verse:

“Even if you should suffer for what is right,

you are blessed.

‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.'”

1 Peter 3:14

Praying for Your Husband in His Work

seattlefreepress

I’m not sure about you, but my husband definitely needs my support and love in the power that comes in praying over him in his work.  He, like most people working full time, deals with a variety of complicated situations ranging from minor every day frustrations to managing several difficult or negative interactions sometimes in a succession right after each other.  He especially encounters negativity daily in a way that can wear a person down to a pulp overtime.  Men (and women too) need someone on their side, praying daily for their heart to remain strong (not hard or cold) in the face of conflict, and still soft (but not weak) when dealing with the broken, young, or old.

He needs to know I’m in his corner praying for him to have wisdom and courage to fight the good fight.

Work is difficult sometimes.  Because of the fall and the curse that fell on us, work has become something difficult… frustrating… and yet, it is also immensely fulfilling in that it gives us purpose.  Our sweet church just did a series on work, and how one’s faith should drastically impact their entire approach to it.

Christians should work with passion, have strong work ethics, have the upmost integrity in their dealings with employers, coworkers, or clients.  They should be exemplary employees, but since we are all human, many get tired of the surrounding atmosphere of a lack of team work, or frustrated with coworkers who don’t pull their own weight.  It can be hard to keep a positive attitude when daily we are reminded of the negative – but as a wife, I want to cover my husband in a blanket of prayer to safeguard his positivity, his serenity, and his purpose in fulfilling his calling at his workplace.

Here are some things to consider when praying over your husband:

  • His role as a provider or co-provider with you – sometimes that task can be especially daunting if your husband doesn’t find purpose or fulfillment in his work.  Pray for his heart and his spirit to be encouraged in knowing the good he is doing
  • His heart to remain close to God – pray for him to keep God at the center of his decisions.  Many men and women simply make God or Christianity something they only partake of on Sundays, instead of allowing it to overflow into every aspect of their life.  Pray he develops closeness to God or continues in his walk with the Lord.
  • Pray for him to be empowered with strength to face his daily grind – pray that he’s safe-guarded from falling into a pit of discouragement, every job gets familiar and starts to lose its sparkle over time, but prolonged discouragement is dangerous to his spirit.
  • Pray for him to have wisdom in every encounter
  • Pray for him to be filled with Joy (the counter-serum to Depression) and to view the world through a lens of gratitude – make your family the safe haven he can retreat to every night in order to refill his cup with warm Joy, and make gratitude a focal point for your family.  Joy + Gratitude makes for the BEST atmosphere and environment for staying positive in life, and will greatly affect your children as they look to you to learn what happiness in life is.

(above image from seattlefreepress.org)