Criticism & Being a Stumbling Block

stumbling block

A couple of years ago, one of my mentors told me that you’re never more tempted to sin, than when you’ve been sinned against.

I think it makes a good quote deserving of all caps…

 

YOU’RE NEVER MORE TEMPTED TO SIN,

THAN WHEN YOU’VE BEEN SINNED AGAINST

 

I went to her after I had gone through a time when I was being criticized by a woman running a gossip/slander blog that has now since become private.  Every post I made, this woman found a way to turn it into something to mock… right down to attacking my husband and children.  Other women, even Christian ones I looked up to previously, jumped in on the mocking and gossip, and it was weird to see that even the supposedly Christian ones were doing this.  It lasted for a good half a year before I confronted her at her blog source, only to have the confrontation end in more pain and frustration.  Talking about it being sin with other people was labeled as “gossip.”  It was a very interesting time as I tried to figure out how to handle slander (being called a whore, slut and a bitch by a Christian man) as well as this being tailed for half the year by this Christian woman.  What was even stranger were the other Christian women who regularly commented on these posts mocking what I was writing, yet they couldn’t see they were doing anything wrong.

It’s really sad that we humans operate this way, myself totally and thoroughly included.  It’s part of our “normal” sin nature, but it’s so ugly and harmful, I surprise even myself with how easily I can give in to this temptation.  And rest assured, I’m talking about myself here, having a sin nature is not fun.  It is kind of shocking how bad we can be when we’re not actively guarding our mouths and minds and spirits.  It reminds me of Paul in Romans 7:18-22, where he wanted so badly to do good, but would sometimes find himself backsliding into the flesh behaviors that he hated in himself.

18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

21I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

I think it’s crucial to be honest that everyone has these feelings and temptations from time to time, even a man as godly as Paul.  I believe that, ultimately, it’s how we choose to deal with the temptations that matters in the long-run.  We have to strive to be like Paul and avoid and flee temptation, repent when we do give in to sin, and then allow for enough grace for ourselves and others when or if we backslide.

Last week I was wondering why someone would focus so much energy on giving in to sinful temptations… specifically, the temptation to engage in destructive criticism about another person (aka: Gossip & Slander).  I did an experiment to try to get someone engaging in it to see what they looked like, and to understand it within myself.  I succeeded in making them understand how bad it looked, the experiment definitely worked.  Overall, it was enlightening… and scary at how once you start (even if you think you’re only going so far) it can quickly go down hill.

I think I’ve found the answer… the root of why criticism can lead to being a stumbling block, and it comes from this quote at the beginning of the post that was told to me by my mentor:  “You’re never more tempted to sin than when you’re sinned against.”

 

Being a Stumbling Block through Criticism

stumbling man cartoon illustration

Romans 14 has always fascinated me.  I’ve written on it before, here , but I wanted to look at it again from a different perspective.

There used to be a pretty benign young woman who commented fairly frequently here.  I always had a feeling that she was trying to get me to change my views on each post I made – she was always so full of constructive criticism and gave it out freely.  Everything about me was up for criticism from this young woman – from the way I dressed to my diet and breastfeeding.  A lot of it was good, and I’d take it and make necessary changes, or try to see if I was getting it truly wrong, but overtime, it started to feel more like purposeful fault-finding or destructive criticism, and I felt myself changing inside toward her as well.

It got to the point where I would find myself starting to see flaws in her posts and arguments, whereas I’d never argued with her before over her writing.  And instead of minding my own business (something I’ve written about before!), I’d feel rightful in pointing them out to her publicly – in a “constructive” way like she did though 😉 .  I knew it was probably not the right thing to do, even if I couched it in “constructive criticism“… it’s a little much to be “correcting” someone all the time so why was she doing this?  I justified my fault-finding habit at her blog by telling myself that well, SHE was doing it to me, so why can’t I do it back to her?  Let’s just say being criticized by her nearly every week affected me lol.  I actually still try not to go to her blog because all I see are the flaws and faults in her biblical arguments.  It’s amazing how the way we act toward others has so much power over the way they in turn feel tempted to deal with us.

Why are humans like this?

I think Romans 14 holds the key to this.  Criticism, especially over issues that don’t really matter that much, make us become stumbling blocks.

“Therefore let us stop criticizing one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”  (vs 13)

Why does the Bible warn us that criticism can be a “stumbling block” to other believers?  I think the answer is that when it’s not done in love, or even when it’s done over and over again in a constructive way, it’s actually sinning against the person you’re criticizing or leading them to exasperation with you.  So when you SIN against that person, you’re TEMPTING them to sin back.  Or if you’re trying to just constantly correct someone on their convictions (which Romans 14 tells us blatantly not to), you’re going to make them tempted to view you negatively.  This is especially true if you’ve been overly harsh or engaged in sinful destructive criticism, you’ve just become a stumbling block for that person, making it harder for them in their spiritual walk.

stumbling block2

Wow, right?  Pretty scary how criticism, even when we think it should be “constructive,” can be so hurtful and harmful to our Christian brothers and sisters in damaging their walks with God.

Pretty serious stuff.  Now that I carried out my own psyche experiment on this topic, I think I understand even more so just how important this post was in the past.

Instead of being a stumbling block, why not become a stepping stone to helping build others up on their spiritual journies?  I’m talking to my own inclinations here 😉

stumbling block3

Good food for thought.

Stephanie

 

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Things I Want My Daughter to Know: Your Beauty is Worthless without Kindness

kindness1

Every woman wants to feel as though she has beauty to give to this world, you can see it in the way little girls play dress up, twirl and dance around, and long for their fathers to think they’re beautiful.  Even grown women enjoy getting dressed up for a formal with their husband, or for a night out to feel beautiful.  God created Eve with this deep desire in her heart to be the counterpart to Adam’s masculinity, and bestowed on her the power and ability of giving the world feminine beauty.

Feminine beauty is so powerful, that men often went to great lengths in the past to defend and preserve the nature of it in protecting their countries (and their women), from evil forces taking over.  Men going off to war even in modern times, often carry a picture of their sweetheart in their pocket.  Their girl’s picture gives them emotional strength to make it through the bombings and terrifying things they go through, and it does.  My husband just told me last week that he wanted to update the picture of me with our kids he always carries in his wallet.  Everywhere he goes, down dark dank alleys, confronting mischief and evil and often murders, he carries that picture with him.

Beauty and love are powerful things.  But a word of caution:

Your outer beauty is utterly worthless if you do not have kindness and the beauty of inner character.

Even the most gorgeous woman, without kindness toward others, might as well not be beautiful at all.  How you treat others is so important to who you are and who you become.  Always strive to be kind, you will fail of course at times, but try to get back on the path and repent of any unkindness in the past.

It’s not enough to be merely outwardly beautiful for a woman.  Sure it may “win” you special treatment from time to time, but without actual character and a love for treating others kindly, you will single-handedly ruin every relationship you have on this earth.  It is that important, daughter.  Especially in marriage!

Kindness is often painful

You will realize that being kind often brings pain.  For some reason, kindness is something many people seem to take advantage of, I wish it wasn’t that way.  And sometimes the kindest thing to do for a friend, may make them never want to speak to you again.

You may sincerely care about someone, admire someone, or respect them and show them kindness, but they may ignore it, reject it, or even return your kindness with rudeness or insult.  If you’re a tad too sensitive like your momma 😉 , there will be times when you will actually feel goosebumps from the coldness of someone’s response to your kindness.  It will be painful, and you will want to stop being kind ever again.  I’ll be so sad to see you feel that way.  But that’s normal and happens all the time because we live in a dark world.

That’s when you’ll learn that kindness is for kindness’ sake, not because other people appreciate it or not.  Kindness is who you are and part of your character.

You cannot be truly beautiful as a whole person, without being kind and having character.

 

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: Your Sensual Beauty is God-Given

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Something I want my daughter to be very aware of, is how Christians get confused about how God created men and women and their respective sensualities.  She’ll undoubtedly run into some Christians later in life who truly make her question whether or not it’s “ok” for women to be sexually attractive.  She’ll wonder is it ok for a single Christian woman to be sexually attractive to godly men or if it’s wiser to somehow hide her physical beauty?  Is it ok for a married Christian woman to be sexually attractive or should she ONLY be considered sexually attractive at home for her husband’s eyes?

I’m not talking about modesty issues here, they are important and do make it an easier or more difficult stumbling block for a godly man concerning the issue of lust… but this post is addressing the issue of sensuality and simply being an attractive woman.  I’m sorry sweet girl, but this is more than likely going to be an issue in your life.  You’re already uniquely gorgeous as a baby, and I can only imagine how stunning you’re going to look at age 16.

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Sexual Attractiveness… Feeling sexually attractive

I read a post a few weeks ago where a Christian mommy blogger literally said if something makes you feel sexy, you probably shouldn’t wear it outside of your home, but only wear it in privacy.  Your husband should be the only one you wear anything sexy around.  I do understand and agree if it’s only applied to things that are immodest or something meant to seduce (lingerie, low cut tops, very short skirts etc.), but many many things can make a woman sexually attractive, and it gets confusing when “anything” that makes her feel sexy (sexually attractive) should be forbidden outside the home.

Heels… dresses… her long flowing hair… perfume… mascara… red lipstick….  Are they wrong?  Are they somehow sinful because they reveal a woman’s sensuality and often make her feel more like a sensual woman (aka “sexy”)?  A few years ago I heard a Christian pastor preach from his pulpit that a woman’s sensuality is sinful.  He may have meant her sexuality or her ability to seduce, I’m not sure… but it just didn’t sound right to me.

This kind of thinking has never made sense to me and has always made me feel sorry for the people who live this way… almost as thought they aren’t wholly female but instead are cutting off a huge portion of who God made them to be.  I actually believe this kind of thinking stunts a woman’s personal growth and damages her sensuality… making her think it’s wrong or bad for her to ever appear sexually attractive outside her bedroom.  To believe she has to become an asexual woman and lose her sensuality just because it may tempt men who aren’t her husband is so against what God would want for His daughters I would think.  I hope to help my daughter understand that her sensuality, her enjoying feeling like a woman, is God-given because HE is the one who made her female and created beauty and thus, sexual attractiveness.

When God describes (allegorically) the way He saved Israel, He tells the story of Him saving an infant who was aborted and left for dead in the dirt covered in her mother’s uterine blood.  Nobody wanted her, but God had compassion on her.  The baby girl is taken in by Him.  She grows up under His loving watchful care.  She becomes sexually attractive, and He marries her, and then helps her revel in her feminine sensuality.

“You grew up and became a beautiful jewel. Your breasts became full, and your hair grew, but you were still naked.And when I passed by again, I saw that you were old enough for love. So I wrapped my cloak around you to cover your nakedness and declared my marriage vows. I made a covenant with you, says the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.

“Then I bathed you and washed off your blood, and I rubbed fragrant oils into your skin. 10 I gave you expensive clothing of fine linen and silk, beautifully embroidered, and sandals made of fine goatskin leather. 11 I gave you lovely jewelry, bracelets, beautiful necklaces, 12 a ring for your nose, earrings for your ears, and a lovely crown for your head. 13 And so you were adorned with gold and silver. Your clothes were made of fine linen and costly fabric and were beautifully embroidered. You ate the finest foods—choice flour, honey, and olive oil—and became more beautiful than ever.

You looked like a queen, and so you were! 14 Your fame soon spread throughout the world because of your beauty.

I dressed you in my splendor and perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign Lord.”

 

This passage is so interesting to me in the way the Lord describes how he lavishes His love on her with things that enhance her physical beauty.  Even a nose ring is something He gives her… just so different from the way Christians think these days.  Anyway, it is clear that her beauty is what made her sexually attractive, her growing breasts and hair, and then jewelry and fine clothing, etc.  Very interesting to me that God tells us all this.

But back to question or point of the post: is being sexually attractive wrong or something that should be hidden?  From the looks of Ezekiel 16, it doesn’t appear to be.

Things that typically make women sexually attractive to men that are visible even when they’re dressed modestly:

  • Youth or appearance of youthfulness in her face (good skin)
  • Slender body type
  • Proportional breasts and hips and waist ratios
  • Long legs
  • Long healthy hair flowing down her back
  • A positive or cheerful attitude
  • Perfume

All these things have nothing to do with showing too much skin, and yet from what I’ve read through polls and studies (and asking my husband if it’s all true in his opinion), men can be “turned on” by all these things even if the woman isn’t using her sensuality in a bad, seductive way toward others.  There’s a reason why Muslim men force their women to hide their shapes (that would reveal breast, hip, waist ratios) under large burkas, hide their faces in some cases (that show their youthfulness or female features), completely hide their hair from sight, many even don’t allow their women to wear makeup or perfume when out, those things are only to be worn for their husbands. Basically, in Islam, a woman is sinning if she reveals any part of her God-given sensuality (feminine body ratio Breasts:Waist:Hips, feminine hair, feminine facial structures, etc.).  Everything feminine about her, even her desire to wear makeup or perfume – her very sensuality, the very things that make her female, are looked upon as too tempting, sinful, and should be only kept for the eyes of her husband.  Being female is dangerous in their minds.  All signs of being female must be covered up.  Why is that?

It’s because being a beautiful female is equated in the male mind as also being sexually attractive, they are basically one and the same thing.  

When men watch porn for instance, they tend to look at the women’s faces much more than just their body parts (from studies tracking where they were looking most of the time).  Whereas we know when women watch porn, they actually don’t look at the faces as much as men do, but instead spend most of the time looking at the sexual body parts… mostly the genitals.  It’s fascinating to me that men actually look more at the **person** in porn or they at least notice it more and focus on it more, whereas women are the ones who are sexually objectifying the people in porn by only looking mostly at the bodies or body parts.  Society would tell us it’s the other way around.

A Dangerous Beauty

A woman’s sensuality or sexual attractiveness is extremely powerful, and since it’s powerful, it’s also extremely dangerous.  A sexually attractive woman, no matter what she’s wearing (think very modest clothing) is still going to be sexually attractive and draw sometimes unwanted attention to herself at times.  I used to believe that this unwanted attention was bad and even a curse of some kind.  In the Bible, we see a clear example where this scenario can be dangerous when Abraham believes his wife Sarah is so beautiful (sexually attractive to other men), that the rulers in the foreign lands they were traveling in would want her for themselves (to make their wife and have sex with) and kill Abraham.  She must have been extremely sexually attractive in order to garner the attention of men like that – men who could have had any woman (and did!) that they wanted.  I highly doubt that Sarah was dressed “slutty,” or improper in ANY way at all that caused these men to want her so badly.  And yet she was still sexually attractive enough to the highest value men during that time (rulers over whole kingdoms!) to draw unwanted attention to both her and her husband.

So yes, daughter, being sexually attractive can be dangerous, and as we see from reports in the news of couples being attacked when out on dates and the young woman being gang-raped while the boyfriend or husband is held down or beaten… being sexually attractive or desirable can *still* be dangerous no matter what you’re wearing.  However, if a woman dresses slutty, yes, it will draw more negative attention from BOTH men and women because it’s inappropriate or too revealing.  Yes, it can make her life far more dangerous and even make her more likely to be raped, even though modern day women don’t want to admit that.

Men, unless they’re gay or dead, will always notice a sexually attractive woman, even if she’s in a modest one piece bathing suit.  Sexual attractiveness does not automatically mean showing too much skin or dressing slutty.

Your sensuality is very complicated, but it is a gift from God meant to edify you, and bring pleasure both to you and your husband.  In Ezekiel 16, it was clear that His beautiful woman became “famous” for her beauty, yet it wasn’t in a sinful way.  Her sin comes later from pride (due to her beauty) and because of her pride, she becomes an adulteress and mistreats God’s love and care for her.

Eve, like the woman in the allegorical story, was one of God’s most beautiful creations, and her beauty – feminine beauty and attractiveness – reflects God’s taste and art.  Yes, they had to “hide their nakedness” once sin entered the picture, but when He gave her fig leaves to cover up, you notice He didn’t hand her a burka type outfit. 😉   Even the animals skins they used were probably not very long in length or full-body coverage.

There is a reason He created you the way He did, as a woman, meant to enjoy her femininity and not to hide it all under a burka and hijab.  Dress carefully and modestly, but don’t believe the Christians who preach that sensuality is sinful… which really translates to everything that makes you female, needing to be hidden.

 

Trusting God

The past couple of years have been hard emotionally.  I haven’t wanted to write about any of it really, because I usually want to try to learn something – or at least understand it – before writing about it.  I think it was Hemingway who said “Never write about something until you’re through it.”

Well, what if it doesn’t have a clear “end?”  What if you still haven’t learned anything profound from it?

What if you’re never really “through” it?

Losing my dad has been so horrible.  I don’t write about it, but I think about it often.  Sometimes I become extremely depressed when thinking too much on it.  Which is partly why I gained weight last year.  Remembering how much my dad wanted me to enjoy life in it’s fullest with a healthy body – and to be happy with my body, is why I started being healthy again right before we got pregnant with our 3rd.

He’s gotten much better, but the stroke (if that’s what it was) really changed his personality, and I miss him so much.

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And then on the blue line side of things, seeing so many innocent men and women die – seeing the public generally not understanding or thinking “this is what they signed up for” – that they literally signed up to be assassinated in a country that used to be free – has been hard to understand heads or tails of.  I didn’t want to write my thoughts on all the police deaths for many reasons: the anger, the depth of heartache, facing the truth that most of them are racially motivated, the ugliness of it all, and just plain not being able to understand it.

Something that HAS really helped, has been leaning on God, even when I was extremely depressed or terrified.  Trusting Him and trusting in His goodness even though knowing He allows the worst to happen has been healing.

The only thing I could find that’s close to explaining what I’ve been learning about God’s protection, even when He allows murder and death of good people, is this audio of Elisabeth Elliot.

She explains it well and it brings peace to me to know that no matter what happens in this life, our ultimate ends are safe and secure in Him.  Which is why it’s better to trust in God, even in times like these.

Pregnancy, Pain, & Frustration

This past couple of weeks have gotten increasingly hard around our house.  I’ve made it to 37 1/2 weeks, but wow!!!  I’ll just say it’s been a brutal couple of weeks and feel like I have a ways to go still.  We only need to make it until next Friday (10 days), but handling two – just two!!! – active and loud kids has become embarrassingly hard now.  We know several families who have many more (4, 5, 6, even one family with 9!!!).  And yet here I am, struggling with only 2!  I have the hardest time walking in the afternoon/evening, and had made plans in my head a few weeks earlier that once Summer started, we were going to go out everyday and have fun at a water park we’re close to, but I soon realized that all that walking, being in the heat, and not even being able to really handle well our toddler’s tantrums when I’m out, would have made those plans nearly impossible.  That or they’d have possibly made the baby come early.  So home it’s been for the most part, and the baby is so low I feel like she could just fall out. :O

With all this going on, I’ve been really struggling with whining and complaining to my husband about any and everything.  I hate hearing myself complain, as I’m sure most people do.  It makes you feel like a failure and feel worse than before (at least for me).  But in these last stages where there’s so much pain at the end of the night, mostly where her head is putting “lots” (doctor’s own words!) of pressure on my cervix, I feel bad that he’s had to hear about all the pain and stress and frustration with our kids, after he’s just dealt with annoying people and criminals for several hours and is exhausted, too.

I’m working on trying to find peace and really asking God to help me better endure this short time left of the pain, and the difficulty of managing the other two kids with less of an attitude that I shouldn’t have it “so hard.”  This article was great for dealing with toddlers when they’re “driving you nuts!”  Getting help from my mom has been a God-send for me during this time ❤ and knowing my husband will be taking a month off after she’s born is so comforting.  And tactic #9 was used today, as both kids had high fever viruses and the little one had an ear infection.  Taking him in to the dr. while having contractions off and on was ridiculous, but my mom came with me and we got through it somehow.

We also had a false alarm yesterday, contractions were coming every 3-5 minutes and I forgot to wait it out to see if they’d go away, and instead drove to the hospital with the kids (while contracting… probably not the smartest idea).  My labor with our toddler came that way when it was his time to be born, and he was coming so fast the Dr. on call had to come in immediately to do the c-section.  This time though, the nurses and my Dr. said I was definitely having contractions, but by an hour or two later, they had gotten much less frequent and it wasn’t really labor.  We’re supposed to wait for a c-section in 10 days anyway, but our babies just tend to come on their schedule!

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So all this being said, I’m really trying to find some sort of spiritual blessing or something I can cling to that will help me get through with a better attitude until she arrives.  Some things I’ve thought about:

  • It’s hard right now physically (and emotionally) to be so pregnant and have a toddler, but that also means she’s so close to coming
  • Perseverance is a good thing… right?  LOL  Paul did say about our sufferings (not that this would really count to most people as a true suffering, maybe I’m a wimp but… ) that perseverance leads to character, and character leads to having hope.
  • Patient enduring of trials is good, even if it’s hard and not pleasant
  • Trials don’t seem to last forever, usually they come and go, and this particular one is so temporary, and there’s such a blessing at the end – a new baby! – to look forward to.

Deeper Look into Envy & Social Media

This is a really interesting topic to me, and I considered titling this post “Women prone to the sin of envy need to stay off social media.”  It wasn’t meant to be a command or anything, just merely an observation which even female Christian leaders and teachers are coming to admit is becoming necessary.  You won’t hear them come out and say it so directly, they’ll usually just advise a woman to take a break from social media or not spend too much time on it, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that even modern women in church leadership are now recommending it for the mental health of the women who become dissatisfied with facebook or instagram (or blogs, etc.).  Even with staying off of social media however, women with this particular sin still have to do some major heart-work & self-evaluation to keep the envy from creeping into their real life interactions.

The sin of envy is a lot older than facebook, so staying away from blogs, facebook, instagram, etc. for them isn’t really a “cure,” for their sin.  It’s a heart issue that stems from not focusing on thankfulness, God’s perfect provision, and being content with what God’s already given you.  And it’s pretty tragic that it seems to take some women well into their late adulthood before they ever learn to really deal with it appropriately.

So even though it’s not a “cure-all,” staying off social media entirely for women who have the sin of envy, is a very good start to get them on the right path spiritually.

I love Proverbs 31 Ministries, it is extremely rare that I disagree with something those women post about – they are usually very on point, and the post linked above isn’t some exception here.  ❤

Karen Ehman wrote a post for Wednesday morning titled “Coming Apart at the Seems,” where she wrote the premise for a woman tempted to envy happy people on social media, is that it makes it “seem” like their life is so much better than the woman who’s envying.

There are so many points you could make on this that it’s hard to know where to start, but the main difference I’ve found between women who go to social media and come away feeling depressed, unhappy, and dissatisfied with their own life, and the women who can have social media and still be happy seeing other people’s happiness, is a heart issue.  One woman is sinning with social media use (envy) and another woman isn’t, at least not in that particular way.  Karen doesn’t cover in depth the women who are able to have social media and enjoy seeing their friends’ happiness because the post would probably be too long, but since I find myself always in that category, I can offer some perspective from the other side.

I’m weird.  I find myself even being happy for people I don’t really like if I see something good is going on in their life – it really makes me happy for them and even contemplate if I’ve misunderstood or misjudged them.  Unless I’ve determined they are an evil person (like terrorist-level evil), I really don’t want to see anyone come to harm.  But again, envy has never been a sin that I’ve wrestled much with.

Karen pointed out in her article that the women who feel depressed or dissatisfied after scrolling through facebook and seeing people doing positive things or being happy, compare their own life to the ones they’re viewing online.  This one word compare is so important here.  If you compare your life to someone who looks to be happier than you or has more material or physical blessings than you, you may feel more depressed.  If you compare yourself to someone who isn’t doing so great in life or failing at things – even making bad decisions, you may start to feel superior and prideful.  The correct response is humility and understanding blessings but also that life isn’t fair for everyone.  Some people really will have much worse life outcomes than others, and it’s not always their fault.  Karen doesn’t touch on those outcomes, but I think it’s important to know and understand that comparing either way can lead to deception and sin.

Her examples were interested to me when coupled with the word she chose “seems” though … keep in mind, this is from her perspective of “comparing UP:”

  1. “Wow.   Seems like she sure has academically brilliant children.   Student of the month awards for both her kids at once?”
  2. “Man.  Look at that fancy dinner with her smiling husband. They seem so in love and happy. And we could never afford a night out on the town at a restaurant like that. Nope. Our nights out are often spent in a spat while we split an entree at a chain eatery to keep the cost down.”
  3. “Oh lovely. A workout selfie at the gym. Look at how flat her stomach is. And those sculpted arms? Seems like she has oodles of time to devote to exercise and a body and appetite that cooperate. Maybe I’ll finally start my diet tomorrow. Or next Monday. Oh, who am I kidding? Seems I’ll never look like that.”

Ok, so since this is so interesting to me (nerd alert), I want to analyze #1… first, the opening word “Wow.” looks like she isn’t really that impressed in a positive way.  Usually, when I say “Wow” about something, there’s real enthusiasm there and it’s expressed more like “Wow!…”   Then we see her go on to say it “seems” like this other woman has academically brilliant children because they both have gotten Student of the Month awards.  Academically “brilliant” may not be an accurate description exactly, Student of the Month surely isn’t that hard to get at most schools, but more of an exaggeration in Karen’s mind.  People who think grandiosely about others tend to have problems idolizing them or feeling really bad when compared next to them – it’s like they don’t realize that they’re exaggerating this other person’s life and success at all.  Again, “Student of the Month” awards don’t necessarily mean her kids are “brilliant.”

From my point of view, when I see someone’s kids succeeding and doing really well, I’m really happy for them or even have a feeling of being over-joyed.  It’s weird… and I don’t know why I’m like that.  Granted our oldest has gotten all-A’s this year at a really hard science and math school, if he was doing very poorly seeing other people’s kids succeed may have affected me differently.  When you’re comparing from a point of view of lack (having a child that doesn’t succeed in school) it may be painful to see friends who have kids who easily excel.

Analyzing #2….  “Man.  Look at that fancy dinner with her smiling husband. They seem so in love and happy. And we could never afford a night out on the town at a restaurant like that. Nope. Our nights out are often spent in a spat while we split an entree at a chain eatery to keep the cost down.”   Again, with the opening word “Man.”, she just doesn’t sound that happy or really impressed with what she’s viewing.  She notices the dinner is “fancy,” that the husband is smiling, that they “seem” so in love and happy.  The “seem” word is what is so interesting to me in Karen’s post.  I get it that there are people who are really faking it on social media… who really may have horrible marriages but put up a front that they are really happy and post pictures to try to “prove it,” so maybe “seems” is the correct word to use just in case.  But I’m certain it’s impossible for those people to keep faking it 100% of the time, eventually an unhappy marriage will make it’s way to the light in one way or another.

I can think of 2 couples my husband and I know who are great examples of truly happy and fulfilled marriages – we know them from real life circumstances, and their facebook posts reflect accurately what is going on in their reality. It is so clear from us knowing them personally, they really DO have more joy and happiness in their marriage than the average person does.  A LOT more joy and happiness.  They are much older, too, so this happiness and joy over that many years is pretty rare to see.  When they post a picture of them out on a date and the husband is smiling, they really ARE having fun and loving being married to each other in that moment.  You aren’t seeing something that “seems” to be happiness, you’re getting a tiny glimpse into their reality.

After saying to herself that they “seem” so in love and “seem” so happy, she promptly compares her date nights to theirs.  We have never had a ton of money, so our date nights really are very cheap and I feel I can relate here at least in that way.  Want a look inside my mind?  For some reason, I just don’t feel envy when I see our friends or family out on expensive dates and enjoying themselves.  Those kinds of dates are rarely in our budget (maybe once or twice a year at most!), but even if they were, we just don’t spend money that way and probably wouldn’t enjoy it if we had enough to try.  If you are familiar with my family’s background I’ve written about before, you’d know that my parents acted like spending money lavishly was insane.  They had a “millionaire next door mentality” almost to the extreme, and thankfully, I married a man who thinks the same way.  So we actually really enjoy going out on frequent dates and spending practically nothing!  It’s like something we’re passionate about or find extra happiness in – in NOT spending money on fancy dinners, etc.  So I don’t relate to her being upset or feeling down that they can’t afford fancy dinners.  When I see those posts on my facebook, I still feel happy for the couple (we need more happy marriages in this world!), and move on with my life.

Our nights out are often spent in a spat while we split an entree at a chain eatery to keep the cost down.”  This is sad!  I have a ton of respect for Karen for being so honest so we can really get a look into what envious women are thinking, but this is tragic to me.  If a married couple can’t even enjoy date nights – nights that are usually carefully planned and away from kids where you can relax and enjoy each other – without fighting (“our nights out are often spent in a spat”) then it makes me wonder how often they fight when they’re doing just day to day struggles??  So from our point of view, when we have date nights, we’re out having fun and enjoying ourselves, and we try to do this to the max.  We laugh and tease each other, we play and flirt and make sexual innuendos – we REALLY enjoy our time alone together and it always ends in having sex when we come back.  No fighting, no little spats, just fun, massive flirtation, adventures together, and good sex.

Sometimes we do snap a picture and post it to facebook, but usually we’re too busy to remember.  But if another woman with Karen’s point of view sees our photo on her news feed and has her same line of thoughts, saying it “seems” like we’re so in love and so happy, she’s getting a peek into our reality.  She really may have a marriage where they fight often when they’re supposed to be out having fun and relaxing, but that’s not the case with us.  Seeing a glimpse into our reality makes her feel bad and feel tempted to envy, or tempted to feel superior by thinking that “well it’s only PART of their lives and who knows what’s REALLY going on.”  If she knew the whole story, how this is just how our marriage operates and how satisfied we are by the end of the date night, cuddled up together after a fun adventure and great sex, feeling both so loved and fulfilled emotionally inside that it feels like a real-life fairy-tale, she’d probably even feel worse about her own marriage knowing our reality was so much better than hers presently.  It’s sad 😦 her reality is the direct opposite from our reality – both in the way we view things (not desiring fancy dinners, being optimistic in hard times financially) and in what’s really going on (fighting every time they’re out on dates versus us hardly fighting ever).

One can see why staying off social media altogether for women prone to this sin would be a good thing, especially for their mental and spiritual health.

Analyzing #3…..   “Oh lovely. A workout selfie at the gym. Look at how flat her stomach is. And those sculpted arms? Seems like she has oodles of time to devote to exercise and a body and appetite that cooperate. Maybe I’ll finally start my diet tomorrow. Or next Monday. Oh, who am I kidding? Seems I’ll never look like that.

So again with the opening words of her facebook observations, this time it even sounds sarcastic.  Maybe it’s not, but it would make sense with the depressive attitude she has while scrolling.  Again, I really commend Karen for being so open and honest here.  So she looks over this woman’s selfie at her flat stomach and sculpted arms, and then makes a judgment that it “seems” like this other woman has “oodles of time to devote to exercise,” and has “a body and appetite that cooperate.”  I think I can relate here somewhat since I see those selfies all the time, too.  But being a part of a fitness group where even extremely overweight women lose ALL the weight overtime, I know for a fact it doesn’t take “oodles of time,” each day to get your body to feeling great, fit, and strong.  Realistically, all it takes is about 20-30 minutes a day… that’s it!  It may take a couple of years doing that though, and usually does for women who have over 100 pounds to lose, but when you’re not that far from your goal (50 pounds or less), it just doesn’t take that long if you’re consistent and committed to yourself succeeding.  So it’s sad from Karen’s viewpoint, she already shoots herself in the foot before she’s even begun by making it “seem” to out of reach.  Then we see her talk about “maybe” starting a diet soon, but there’s no real conviction or commitment in “maybe,” so it’s highly unlikely she’ll really try hard enough.  And finally she ends with a definitive sabotaging statement, giving up and claiming she’ll “never look like that,” anyway, so why try?

Just very tragic to see how these women think when scrolling through facebook or instagram (which is worse since it’s nothing BUT pictures).  The woman taking the selfie really IS probably much happier in her life – not just with her body, although that definitely adds a lot to a woman’s overall happiness, but also the fact that she’s getting up and going to the gym, meeting people there, making friends to support her in her fitness goals and filling her life with positivity.  It feels incredible to take care of yourself physically, and it’s kind to yourself to prioritize your health – the rewards bring so much joy and happiness to a woman’s life.  While Karen is sitting down in an already depressive mood, staring at this other woman’s picture who is out and about, having fun and making positive life choices to make her life happier, it’s only Karen who is the one hurting in this case.

You can read the rest of her post to find out how she brings it around in a lesson of finding contentment in your own life’s choices.  It is a great message and was fun to analyze for me.  So again, staying off social media doesn’t “cure” the sin of envy, that sin will still show up in real life when the woman is tempted to feel that way about coworkers or relatives or friends.  The only thing that seems to combat envy on social media is developing the habit of thankfulness or living every day with “Thanksgiving,” for the blessings in your own life.  Women prone to this sin also need to be wary of feeling prideful if they delete their facebook or social media – using the attitude that it’s “all nonsense anyway,” and looking down on the women who can still have it and not be tempted to envy.  Realizing with humility that it may be too much for them to keep a pure heart, or that they have a heart issue with contentment and gratitude so facebook isn’t “for them,” is a much better response than merely feeling superior because they don’t use it anymore.

 

Something to think about:

If a woman is going through a very rough period in her life, or has experienced many losses all at once, staying off social media altogether would be extremely beneficial to her until she fully heals emotionally and spiritually.  It would be extremely hard to be going through trauma or tragedy and still keep a grateful heart when seeing the happy and beautiful posts/pictures of her facebook acquaintances every day.  It’s almost cruel 😦 .  Same goes for a woman who is already in a depression.  Seeing happy posts or pictures will either tempt her to sin or tempt her to become bitter and more resentful at her own internal feelings.  It’s hard to be happy for other people when you’re depressed – and that’s normal, so giving herself grace and time away from a computer is taking care of herself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

 

 

Motherhood & Childbirth

dreams of mothering

Mother’s Day has come and gone again, and for some reason each year I just feel more and more content and happy with our life that we’re building.  I’m not sure exactly why I feel more content and happy with each year, but it may have a lot to do with the growing sense of gratitude of living this life getting to watch our children grow, love my amazing husband, and maybe just getting a little bit more mature.

I still have sin!  Definitely have to work on things at times, but in this area of mothering, even when it’s really especially hard with lots of tantrums or just stubborn behavior and lots to do, I can still see the end result in mind, especially at the end of the day (happy adults that know they were truly loved – no, adored!) and it somehow gets me through those tantrums.

Motherhood is hard at times.  Life in general has so many unexpected things come up and little struggles or trials, to me, mothering my kids just falls in line with normal everyday things to face.  There are many ups and downs with small children when they’re teething or in a tantrum phase, but I think it’s harder if you don’t really understand the fact that it is going to be hard to begin with.

There’s a new disturbing trend of moms on social media complaining about Mother’s Day, using it as an excuse to say how unfair it is that even on that day where they’re supposed to be honored, they still have to take care of their children (wipe noses or change diapers), or clean sometimes.  From reading several of these kinds of posts and videos for 2 years (posted the week before to prep women to feel jipped), it’s clear these moms don’t understand that life is just hard.  Mother’s Day doesn’t always go perfectly or smoothly, especially with small children – and it comes across as insanely immature of an adult woman who doesn’t understand this reality.  Or one who understands it, but still acts like it’s not fair and has an online virtual pity party about the duties of being a mom.

From one of my favorite books that my parents had loved when I was growing up (and got me reading before I was a teenager:

“Life is difficult.

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.  It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.  Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult.  Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult.  Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy.

They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them….  I know about this moaning because I have done my fair share.

Life is a series of problems.  Do we want to moan about them or solve them?  Do we want to teach our children to solve them?”

                  -The Road Less Traveled

So back to motherhood… yes, it’s hard, but it’s also so beautiful and I think, really grows us as women to have to go through the struggles of mothering.  Anything hard generally (in my opinion) helps us to grow and mature.  At least it can, if we accept the struggle and go through it trying to learn from it and become better.  Unfortunately, as The Road Less Traveled points out, many people don’t allow problems and trials in their life to grow and mature them.  It’s easier to complain and have self-pity for our own struggles.

I love this quote from the 1800’s by Anne Pratt about the virtue of seeing life optimistically as a wife and mother:

“Every one must have remarked how pleasant is that household in which a cheerful spirit of energy is cultivated by the mistress and mother.

It is a pleasant thing to dwell with one who is not troubled by trifling annoyances,

who is skilled in looking at the bright side of things, and hoping for the best;

with one who believes that all the ways of the Lord are right,

and who attaches a deep importance to duty.

Such a one will work willingly, in the belief that God has appointed both her lot and her duties,

and it is surprising how many obstacles are met and overcome by such a spirit.”

~ Anne Pratt

In my life, it IS surprising how many obstacles we’ve overcome together, my husband and I, due to having such a spirit of adventure, optimism and gratitude.  In really hard times, it’d be easier to complain or fight or even blame each other, but instead we work together as a team to solve the problem and learn from it.  It really makes all the difference!

CHILDBIRTH

This is just an update on the pregnancy, but since it’s a “motherhood” post, I thought I’d squeeze it in here.

So because our first child was an emergency c-section, and afterwards we decided to not try a V-BAC, this will be my 3rd c-section.  We’re so lucky these days, even to be able to have c-sections!  I recently heard that death during childbirth affected 65% of women during the 19th century.  Obviously the risk is far less for us now, but still, having had repeated c-sections, medically we know each time the risk increases.  Then there’s always uterine rupture or tears where the scar has been cut and re-cut – these also increase with repeated pregnancies unfortunately.

Last time around I remember trying to prepare Patrick for if I was to die in childbirth during the c-section – I know it’s a slight chance, but you never know what’s going to happen and since there was that possibility, why not mentally prepare for it?  I wanted him to know that I wanted him to be happy and to remarry.  It’s been the same this time, except I’ve been having very strong pains where the old c-section scars are, which my doctor thinks is scar tissue stretching (little tears), and probably not “windows” which are where the uterus is so thin that you’re actually able to see things like the baby’s hair.  Windows are supposed to be painless, so the pain I feel at times is probably just stretching (hopefully!).  The risk of uterine rupture is still there though, even though it’s still likely very small.

Anyway, we really want at least to be able to have one more child after this, but unfortunately it depends on the state of my uterus – sometimes they can apparently become “paper thin,” or if they see windows when they open me up, or little tears, etc.  They’ll likely then advise me that I shouldn’t attempt another pregnancy.  😥  We’ll see, many women are able to have up to 5 or 6 c-sections… but it all depends on that particular woman’s genetics and her unique uterus thickness, strength, and elasticity.

Again, we’ll see.

 

This is the True Joy in Life…

This is the true joy in life,

the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.

The being thoroughly worn out before you’re thrown on the scrap heap,

The being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community

and as I live it is my privilege – my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die,

for the harder I work the more I love.

I rejoice in life for its own sake.

Life is no brief candle to me;

it is a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got a hold of for the moment

and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible

before handing it on to future generations.

-George Bernard Shaw

I watched another Freedomain video recently, and he ended it with this quote, along with the latter below from his own mind:

“Wear yourself out in the pursuit of virtue, and leave only the barest husk to be thrown in the grave.

Just be used up completely.

Be emptied of words, be emptied of power, be emptied of dedication, be emptied of challenge, be emptied of courage – SPEND IT ALL.

Let only your skeleton be what the worms get – nothing else.

Have everything else spent to the last penny, and let that last penny of spending be that which kills you, because you have nothing left to give.

And that I think is the satisfying life.”

Stefan Molyneux

***

When watching this video over the course of a few days, the ending quote hit home with why I started blogging in the first place almost 4 years ago.  It really was mostly a creative outlet, but every Wednesday, I’d try to post something on marriage.  We’ve seen and known so many horrible or even “just limping along” marriages, that I wanted to impart some basic knowledge to people who didn’t know these things, and yet were searching for it.  I think this is normal for people who find out great truths to want to impart that knowledge to someone else.  Why on earth would you hide something that can help people with building better marriages, which in turn, creates healthier, happier children, and less divorce, better societies and more productive, good people in this world?!?!

Seriously, if you have that information and are not sharing it somehow, you may want to really ask yourself why you are keeping that valuable help from other people?  This isn’t meant as some kind of condemning judgment, and obviously sharing it can be done in a million different ways, I’m not saying everyone has to go start a blog or youtube channel and try to make a difference in those venues – but it’s just pure fact that by not sharing that information (which is like a treasure really) with people in dire need of it, is morally wrong.

It’s easier to see this fact when you apply it to being wealthy and not generous in your giving.  If a wealthy person isn’t giving in some way to society – to purely good, helpful causes, not the kind that perpetuate problems in society – then it is just like the rich man in the Bible who stores up grain all for himself:

Luke 12:13-21

[13] Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

[14] Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” [15] Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

[16] And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. [17] He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

[18] “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. [19] And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘

[20] “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

[21] “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.

Being “rich toward God,” is sharing the gospel and biblical truths about how life is meant to be lived.  Sharing that often comes in form of writing, books, blogs, but doesn’t have to only be in those ways.

“The lips of the wise broadcast knowledge, but not so the heart of fools.”

Proverbs 15:7

The best sharing is face-to-face with people in your real life, but writing and blogs is also extremely beneficial to many people – and is a better way to “broadcast” that knowledge and wisdom.  I know this personally because I’ve had the amazing opportunity of being told by those I’ve been blessed to touch!

Looking back, it’s been awe-inspiring to affect so many women’s and men’s lives through simply writing about marriage and sex or parenting.  Giving other people Truth so that they can better live their lives the way God would want them to, has been a privilege that I didn’t foresee when starting out writing as a mere creative outlet!

Our own marriage is in large part as good as it is because of other people who took their own time, energy and heart and passion to write great marriage books that I read during our first year when I worked at a Christian bookstore!  If they had thought what they had to say wasn’t important, didn’t need to be shared, or were neurotically worried that men reading their books would “compare their wives to the women writing these valuable books,” we would probably not have the marriage we have today.  The Truths we learned from these godly authors were SO valuable and important – their books were their ministry.  Many people who benefited from their writing would have missed out on those blessings if the authors had decided sharing these Truths were wrong – including the authors themselves!  Because sharing with others Truths that are life-giving is a blessing in and of itself!

While studying what these authors had to say on a wife’s role in a marriage during our first year, I was amazed it is so easy to get married when one has literally NO IDEA how to maintain that marriage or live together in a compatible way.  Even driving a car takes more time and effort in studying the laws of what is right and wrong to do while in it and out on the road.  I mean seriously, you get more instruction and valuable information when getting a driver’s license than you do before you get married – no wonder there are so many divorces or miserable marriages!

Most of it is likely due to lack of knowledge of how or what a good marriage actually looks like from day to day.

So make your life count!  Don’t live an “unlived life” full of complaining, slander, and wasting your time doing things that harm you!  You are meant for so much more than that ❤

Here is Stefan’s video, and again, it look me days to get through it little bits at a time.  And it’s not for children’s ears!!  He’s an atheist, so he cusses sometimes, but the overall messages he does are full of wisdom.

Unhappily Married Women Claiming Happy Couples are “Fake” on Social Media

Around our last anniversary in August, I saw a viral blog post going around that blatantly told happy married couples (those on facebook) that their happy photos and positive notes they post to each other makes certain married couples feel bad about their own marriages.  Here is the specific post, “I Cannot, In Good Conscience, Participate in the Love Your Spouse Challenge,” where one woman took the self-righteous approach of declaring that the challenge participants were so fake, that she just couldn’t participate by honoring her husband for 7 days posting positive things about him and their marriage because it wouldn’t be “real” enough.

There are enough articles and comments out there that explain the same general feelings of married women on FB:

“You happily married couples can’t really be that happy (we realistic ones know you’re lying to us), plus you make me feel bad because my marriage isn’t like that. You’re faking it in your photos and not being “real,” let me show you what IS real by posting negative shit about my husband and I publicly.”

And boy these women really meant it!  The blog post that went viral has actual photos of the writer and her husband angry at each other, fighting and arguing in the kitchen, her denying him sex because she was “too tired,” and on and on.  Obviously they were all staged (nevermind the irony of having to fake “realistic” negative pictures at the same time you’re criticizing posed wedding photos!!), but the message was clear: REAL COUPLES POST NEGATIVE THINGS ABOUT THEIR MARRIAGE ON FACEBOOK.  Fake couples only post the positive things and therefore aren’t “real” enough for these hypercritical women.

Just imagine if it were turned around on the wives!  What if husbands suddenly thought it was great to start complaining on facebook about how their wife doesn’t look the same anymore or turn them on as much as she did 10 years ago?  What he posted about how annoying she’s been to live with or how she doesn’t always do certain chores in a timely manner and this drives him crazy?  These are all things women complain fairly open about in one way or another, and it’s accepted easily in our society.  But wow!  Imagine if a husband decided to write an article posting the worst parts of their marriage (in pictures!!) so that other men could commiserate with him?  It just wouldn’t happen, and if it did, it would be shamed by men and women alike.  It’s not acceptable for a married man to complain publicly about how annoying his wife is, or share pictures of her without makeup on his FB to be “real.”

Sharing your grievances about your spouse publicly in any venue, should never be considered appropriate.

It’s disrespectful and a violation of his trust and privacy.

Our spouses know our most intimate flaws and failings.  In a good, healthy marriage, there’s usually a boundary there that the spouses protect each other from – it used to be called “not airing your dirty laundry.”

And then we get to the chosen method for this sharing of “real life.”  These women choose facebook (or blogs) to “vent” about how difficult their marriage has been.  Their husband is more than likely “tagged” into the post, meaning ALL – and I mean ALL of his friends – past and present, coworkers, boss or Supervisors, even acquaintances or possibly worse, people who don’t like him or are competing with him in the workplace, will be exposed to his wife humiliating him and divulging the private (negative) aspects of their marriage and for what?

To be more “real” with her facebook friends.  It looks more like betrayal to me when I see women engaging in this kind of public behavior.

His honor, respect and privacy must be sacrificed so she can compete with the other women by being “more real,” than the ones who post only happy and positive things about their spouses.

It kind of boggled my mind for awhile, wondering why other married couples would be that angry at seeing happy ones?  Why would they care?  Why would posting about fighting, or how they’re usually too tired to have sex with their husbands make them somehow more “real?”

Anyone reading this probably already understood this was what was really going on, but apparently I’m not that smart.  I thought these couples really did believe that the happy ones were lying.  They may actually believe that, but there’s something else there that I finally caught on to:

They really ARE that unhappy seeing the happy couples, because their marriage IS less fulfilling, less passionate, and less enjoyable.  😦

This is probably obvious to everyone else (especially the red pill readers who come here), but somehow it took me months to figure out (lol sad).  I had completely forgotten about this viral post, and only recently caught on to what was really happening after seeing a few more couples we knew divorce in that time, and reading what the wives said afterward.  Their marriages really WERE miserable, and mostly due to miscommunication and lack of meeting needs for the spouses that spiraled into ugly fights and damage beyond repair to their relationship.  Of course when you’re fighting bitterly with your spouses day in and day out, it’s hard to be happy for the happy, successful couples.  I think they truly believe the happy couples live that way as well, and are “hiding” their misery behind a charade of happiness.

It also became obvious when reading these new-trending posts on a couples’ anniversary where the wife feels like it’s necessary to quantify her happiness by explaining that they’ve also had a miserable marriage as well (or have almost divorced), that this is the “new norm.”  Being positive and genuinely happy isn’t looked at as “real” anymore… in fact, it’s looked down upon.  Happy couples are not “real,” unless they were genuinely miserable in their marriage at some point, too.

One woman told me “Well, you want to be relate-able.”

I just don’t know about that.  Relate-able sounds like “average.”  Relate-able falls in line with the status quo, and with so many married couples getting divorced, I really don’t want to be relate-able in that way.  I don’t want to have to complain about my marriage to somehow be “relate-able” with other women.  If our happiness makes others think we’re fake or makes them feel bad about their own marriage, we don’t have control over that.  So it’s not our concern 🙂  Plus, they are only harming themselves mentally when they dwell on how fake the happy marriages are – what does it do to us? We’ll just continue being happy, while the miserable couples will continue dwelling on their misery.

It’s a little hard to want to be relate-able in our present day culture to be honest.

Relate-able means being overweight since so many women now are overweight, and it’s rare to see a fit mom that’s had multiple children.  Relate-able means complaining constantly about housework, or taking for granted the gift of being a mom – things that science has proven actually make us LESS happy when we vent our frustrations.  Relate-able means valuing the secular things of this world more than the spiritual maturity that comes from a steady walk with God.  Relate-able is having had sex before marriage – so you’re not relate-able if you married as a virgin and saved that gift for your husband.  Relate-able is having had an abortion or a devastating past full of bad decisions and multiple sexual partners.  I’ve never really been that “relate-able” in these ways, and you know?  I don’t want to be.

Relate-able seems to be a lot of **negative.**

Even just being Christians, I believe we’re called to acknowledge we’re all sinners, none of us are perfect, however we called to a higher standard than just trying to come across as “relate-able.”

Maybe we’re supposed to be different for a purpose.  Maybe complaining about our marriage or sharing how miserable it’s been on FB isn’t what Christian women are supposed to do.

 

“For it is GOD who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose.  Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.  Hold firmly to the message of life.  Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run in vain or labor for nothing.”

Philippians 2:13-16

 

 

This is one of my most favorite verses in the Bible… Philippians itself is probably my favorite book because it explains so much about gratitude and joy in life.  But if you’re a married woman reading this, re-read this verse and really allow it to sink in.  Apply it to your marriage.  To your children.  To your housework or anything that tends to annoy you daily.

You’re not called to be relate-able ❤ .  Your purpose is higher than that.

Jesus was so unrelate-able the Pharisees killed Him!  He’s the perfect example of someone pure and faultless getting falsely accused and hated because of His purity and Truthfulness that shamed those who weren’t like Him.  You don’t have to fit in by doing what the masses are doing – whether that’s having sex before marriage, or complaining online about your husband or sharing how miserable your marriage has been so others can relate to you.

You’re called to shine like the stars with your purity as children of God.  It feels wrong to type that phrase because it is so not politically correct and many Christians even take it the wrong way, accusing women who aim for this as being prideful and arrogant.  Even from a Christian woman I’ve gotten the message, “There’s nothing special about you!  How dare you think you could ‘shine like a star’ with being pure and following God!  How dare you have something to say or correct someone like me who knows so much more than you! You’re just full of pride and don’t know anything or have the experience yet.

We have a much stronger testimony when we aren’t striving to fit in with the status quo, when we’re living out our faith and convictions day by day.  Our testimonies actually mean something when we’ve walked that road of doing the exceptional for Christ, and have experienced the trials of living “unrelate-able” when it’s going directly against the grain of our culture.  Anyone who’s lived by their convictions knows this truth that it’s often isolating, painful, and full of self-sacrifice.

Instead of merely aiming for average, we can choose to be inspiring and encouraging, focusing on what Philippians 4:8 tells us to:

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.

Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

 

Go out and shine like stars in purity as children of God,

Stephanie

 

Related Reading:

I Cannot in Good Conscience Participate in the Love Your Spouse Challenge

Dear Happy Couples: I Hate You

The Truth About Venting (Shaunti Feldhan)

This blog is kind of on standby, it always seems to get that way when I’m pregnant 🙂 but I still like to post updates or fun posts just to have them here.  Enjoying the pregnancy of our little girl, playing with my kids and doing life as well as writing, has kind of taken priority for now.  Life is hard at times, but then again it is so beautiful!

This article on venting being BAD for you made a lot of sense to me in thinking about how we handle emotions or reactions to people who annoy or offend us.

I rarely complain about things to just anyone – there truly are just 2 people who hear my innermost thoughts and complaints in my life, and I like it that way!  You’re supposed to complain and talk to God about problems anyway, but it’s nice to have one or two very very close friends to divulge in or ask advice from.

I’ve seen what can happen when a person lets their entire existence be taken over with complaining or venting.  It’s very easy to do this with blogs since they can become like one’s personal diary of sorts – but it’s still not a good idea for a person’s mental and spiritual health/maturity.  It stunts your spiritual growth and I even believe it can cause mental health problems for the person engaging in that kind of constant negativity or “venting.”

When someone gets upset or annoyed enough to run off to type out a blog post as soon as their little fingers can, that’s them “venting,” and 99% of the time, it’s done in immaturity and not handling their emotions in the best way possible.

But until seeing this article below, I didn’t know for sure just how “bad” venting is – or rather, WHY it’s bad to do it!  I knew it looked immature and ridiculous… not to mention so sad when people in their forties and fifties still do it, but wow!

Here it is, from Shaunti Feldhan ❤

“Your co-worker just made you so mad. Or maybe it was your husband who said something insensitive this morning. Or your teenager who rolled her eyes when you asked her to empty the dishwasher. Again.

You feel like a pot ready to explode, so you just need to let off a little steam. A few minutes of “can you believe he just said…” or “she’s so obnoxious when…” will make you feel so much better. Right? Right?

Wrong.

What is commonly viewed as “letting off steam” or “venting” is actually a myth. It can feel very satisfying, in the moment. But it ultimately changes us. And not in a good way. I’ve seen this truth for years in my own research and in other studies. That’s why the first assignment in my newest book, The Kindness Challenge, is to say nothing negative about the person with whom you want a better relationship.  This includes saying something negative to them as well as about them to someone else.

I do quite a bit of work helping companies develop women’s leadership programs, and one high-level corporate client, Nadia, told me that she could trace her rise in corporate America to this one change.  Years ago, with a harsh boss, she would regularly gripe to a female co-worker.  But even though the co-worker was equally mistreated, she refused to join in.  Finally, she asked Nadia, “If you complain, does it change anything?”  When Nadia admitted that it wouldn’t actually change anything, her colleague shook her head.  “You’re wrong,” she said.  “It does change something.  It changes you.

Brain science researchers like Dr. Brad Bushman at Ohio State University have discovered that our idea of “letting off steam” as a way of dealing with negative feelings is completely wrong neurologically!  Instead, it actually further activates an interconnected anger system in the brain. So when we vent with our friends or co-workers, we’re building up steam rather than releasing it.

A better analogy: expressing our frustrations turns up the heat under the pot – and stopping our negative talk is like putting a lid on the pot and removing it from the heat.  That choice actually changes the way ours brain process the negative situation.   We’re just not as angry anymore!  Even better, if we can actually look for something that is worthy of praise in this person or situation, positive feelings often replace the negative ones – which can help improve even the most difficult relationships.

This doesn’t mean you should repress negative feelings, or that you can’t share something important with a supportive friend.  It does mean to be careful about why you are sharing and how.

A friend recently decided to do the 30-Day Kindness Challenge for her 7 year-old adopted son. As a child from a hard place, he had spent years fighting attachment and exhibiting difficult and unpleasant behavior, mostly directed at his new mom. When she first started the challenge, my friend was honestly stumped about how she was going to participate in her regular support group for adoptive moms since she couldn’t say anything negative!

What occurred was fascinating.  She was still able to share concerns and seek advice, but because she wasn’t sharing those “can you believe it?!” comments, she found she was much less angry with him.  As she sought support, her words were less heated – almost like reporting facts in a news story rather than fueling the fire of her frustration and anger.  In the end she felt more positive about her relationship with her son and she still felt heard and understood by her support system. Win-win!

So the next time you find yourself picking up the phone to call a friend to complain, or start venting around the water cooler, stop yourself.  Remember that it will not make you feel better.    Try it; you will see the difference it makes.   And it will help you want to go the next step, which is to live a life evidenced by graciousness even when others are harsh.  To be kind even when it isn’t warranted.  To notice the things that are worthy of praise, not just those that are worthy of driving you crazy.  And to be the one who reaches out to others, to share the truth that living life this way is a lot more fun.


Visit www.shaunti.com for more.

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I can definitely attest to being amazed how little I care about minor things anymore.  Something seemed to happen when I turned 30 this past birthday – I completely stopped caring about things that didn’t matter, and found true beauty and freedom in depending wholly on Christ for my self-worth and assurance.  Something weird also happened with turning 30… along with not caring about things that didn’t matter, I seemed to find people’s over-reactions or ridiculous anger hilarious or entertaining.  I’m still not entirely sure why… but it’s a nice change of freedom and joy, embracing the beauty of life and freedom of Christ.

Besides… it’s better to live as a happy woman (wife and mother especially!) than an old sourpuss.  Perhaps this is what Christ meant when He talked about living life in abundance?