Sofia Tolstoy’s Destruction of Her Marital Happiness (A First Look)

I noticed a few weeks ago I received more interest in a post I did last year, detailing how a wife could possibly ruin her husband’s love for her.  The post mentioned the marriage of Leo Tolstoi and Sofia, and how through decades, her attitude turned him into a man who could not even tolerate her presence when he was old.

I’ve only read accounts based on his own troubles with her – mostly the variety of ways she would seek to control him, berate him, endlessly try to kill herself or threaten suicide.  However, I recently came across her literal thoughts and words in her diaries, and have had some time to get an insight into how this woman thought and dealt with the life God gave her.

I have to say, reading some of her diary entries only confirm what an extremely psychologically messed up woman she was from day one.  I know that sounds so harsh, but it is remarkable how she viewed her life through a lens of martyrdom and suffering.  After reading several pages (and I will read more to be sure) of her personal and constant complaining, I’m amazed Leo Tolstoy was able to create any masterpieces of literature at all with a wife who intellectually numbed and destroyed his senses.  And the temperament of an artist’s wife (especially a writer) is crucial to his ability to work!

To her credit, she was a hard worker and helped him immensely in copying and writing out his vast manuscripts.  She did, very painfully and resentfully, dedicate her entire life to his work.  But it was at such a high cost he had to pay, with even her own son admitting she never was able to just be happy, to endure her constant complaining and resentful attitude.  That her husband didn’t fully appreciate it, even though she did so much for him, was because her attitude and resentfulness cancelled her, “selfless acts,” out.

In other words, what she viewed as, “selfless acts of dedicating her entire life to him,” which she spoke endlessly about in her diary, were in reality, feeding her neurotic sense of self-righteousness and playing the ever-constant victim.

Her husband could do nothing right in her eyes, except write, and every little thing he did by his own accord, she says she, “rebuked,” him for, and made herself sick (literally ill) constantly worrying about him when he’d go out to do even the most normal of male activities such as hunting.

Here are some first thoughts on the few things I’ve read.  I’m sure I’ll have more to work with later on, but her terrible example is something I’ll teach my own daughter what to avoid in becoming.

It could be said that Sofia, for all her self-righteous assuring us she was serving him selflessly, never allowed herself to be happy… because if she allowed herself that joy, she would have failed in being the perpetual victim she wanted to see herself as.

***

Some first notes…

  1. She frequently speaks in her diaries in classic, “victim mentality,” reference.  It is always bad things happening to her, and many times Sofia seeking out opportunities to feel wounded and offended by her husband’s normal behavior.
  2. She denies him sex throughout their marriage, only having enough to produce children, but then resents him for not having sex while she was pregnant.  She describes wanting more of a “spiritual marriage,” which in those days, often meant to be abstinent in marriage.  She mentions frequently that he has too much passion for her, but that she only desires a, “pure,” and, “spiritual union.”  As an aside note to historical references, there were often marriages like this where the woman would truly want to remain a virgin, or mostly sexless, to create this spiritual union, leaving the husband to have to find whores to have sex with.  Those marriages were almost always very unhappy marriages, even in those days, men still needed sex from their wives.
  3. She frames everything he does as being done to “hurt,” her… and then she goes on and on, “rebuking,” him for his (in her mind) bad decisions.  This from her diary is a direct example where she wouldn’t even let him decide when to go hunting without her permission… and her attitude when he came back is what destroys a man’s love and affection (the chastising and, “rebuking,” she felt she had a right to do to him).
  4. Before their marriage, Tolstoy had a romantic notion that his new wife should know everything he ever did that was horrible and wrong.  Instead of hiding his sins, he wanted to, “bear all,” to her, confess everything, and know that she would still love him and accept him as he was – faults and past sins in total.  He felt very ashamed of everything he’d done before finding a, “pure,” and proper wife, and her reading this and still accepting him, in a large way, would help him heal from his past promiscuity.  I actually understand this very well, because my own husband did something very similar.  We both told each other everything (his past being much more sordid and sinful than mine sexually), and I understand from my husband’s heart how much he needed to know that I *knew* how bad he had been, and yet would *still* choose to love him and receive him.  Yes, I was sheltered and virginal like Sofia, but it still didn’t harm me to know his past sexual sins.  If anything, it made me even more sympathetic to him because I could feel the shame he felt for having failed in that area.  Men seem to understand that this kind of acceptance in marriage is a kind of redemption God uses to help ease the pain of past sins.  It does for women, too, if they first acknowledge how sinful they were and are humbled enough to know their husband is doing them a great act of love in accepting them even though they come to him soiled and impure.
  5. Unfortunately for Tolstoy, his wife was horrifically repulsed by his past, and used it for the rest of their marriage to throw in his face and punish him for.  She did not, at all, accept him as the man he was, and she ensured her own unhappiness by perpetually reminding herself in her diaries of how horrible his past was… how she could NEVER get over his former relationships.
  6. I do believe that even with this single, but monumental, rejection of him when he was so honest and open with her, that she may have ruined a lot of his love in those first years when she kept throwing it in his face.  I think when he realized she could not, and would not, ever make peace with his past or love him beyond his past (without holding it against him constantly), that he fell into a depressive state that caused him to bristle at even her voice or presence (which is talked about both in his and her diaries).  How different their marriage might have been if Sofia had been wise enough to realize the power she had when he was so romantically open with her about his past, in helping him heal and redeem his value before God and society.
  7. I’ve heard callers complain about things like this to Dr. Laura, where one spouse – it’s almost always the woman – can’t get over a husband’s past or long-gone sexual relationship, and her response is always that they are simply looking for (literally digging around in their spouse’s past) something to beat the other spouse with.  This is a classic way a wife with a real psychological disorder seeks to continually, “punish,” her husband over his past sins.
  8. Continually using his past, especially his past relationship where he fathered a son who still lived on their land, to berate him for, was abusive.  Sofia, again for all her endless self-proclamations of serving him selflessly and lovingly, was an abusive and toxic wife.  Again, I am amazed he was able to create the masterpieces he did with the ever-present berating, punishing and abusive things she’d say to him.  I should say here that I’m aware that our modern society views his treatment of her as, “abusive,” because she had to, in some authors’ words, endure his “slights and insults.”  I wonder if he felt he almost had to be that way, in order to survive the war-like atmosphere she made sure she created at times (it’s notable that not all of their life was lived this way… they had short periods of happiness, again making me wonder from a psychological-standpoint, if she wasn’t bi-polar).
  9. Consider families where the wife really did sleep around for years before a husband married her, even producing offspring with a man she never even married.  What if the husband acts like Sofia decided to do, and holds a huge grudge against his wife for those things done in her past, and never lets himself, “get over,” her past sexual experiences with other men, continually bringing them in to their current arguments and never allowing his wife to fully, “pay,” for the sins she’d committed?  We’d then be able to see it clearly as the husband’s own psychological disturbance, and not attribute any further fault to his wife.  With Leo Tolstoy, many people, including Nobel Laureates, side with Sofia in this being an excusable and logical offense she held against him for the length of their entire marriage, when obviously, it’s anything but excusable and logical.
  10. She, several times in her diary, expresses murderous intent toward his former lovers and the one son he had who still lived on their land!  She obsesses over his sexual past to the extent of wanting to commit murder several times.  Again, as much as I feel sorry for her, I am amazed at the extent of her insanity and what Tolstoy had to put up with for a lifetime of marriage.  A healthy woman would have accepted him as he was, but Sofia still used his son’s mother against him in arguments even into their old age!  I feel so sorry for him, and amazed he was still able to create the works he did.
  11. Side note – the more I read her words and the conclusions she comes to, the more I believe she probably had a severe psychological disorder.  Her family described her as not having an easy time being happy in general… even as a child, it is noted she was never able to really be happy.  I believe people are able to *choose* happiness, and I don’t excuse Sofia for literally ruining her life over the most mundane reasons to be unhappy.  Her entire diary seems to be one of constant finding fault, constant taking offense (oftentimes where it’s unclear if she even understands it was intended!).  She is a very sad and pathetic woman, what an eye-opening experience reading her mind’s workings.
  12. So back to this issue of holding a spouse’s past against them.  My own husband has a past sexual history before he met me, and it’s something I’ve never held against him because when he married me, he committed to me wholly, just like Tolstoy did to Sofia.  It would be incredibly foolish and perverted to continue to, “punish,” him for things he did in his past before he even knew me, or had taken vows to me.  Like Tolstoy, my husband wasn’t even a real Christian back then, so to hold his sins against him would be wrong.  Sofia’s immaturity and psychologically disturbed thinking gives me an even more sympathetic perspective to how Leo managed to live with her successfully all those years at all.  The fact that he was able to produce such magnificent and powerful novels, even while being relentlessly torn down by such a mentally disturbed woman, shows remarkable strength and resilience.  It’s sad that I although I do feel sorry for her, I also feel even more correct in my first assessment that she was one of the women who make sure they are chronically unhappy no matter what the circumstances may be.  She constantly pities herself, and hates her life.  She resents the life she could have had if she were a single woman.
  13. She absolutely hated him spending time with the peasants, teaching them and mentoring them. She hated having them around their house, taking care of them, and despised her husband for loving this service he desired to provide to the poor.  My own great great grandparents also had peasants and homeless people living around on their estate property (which was not large… so they literally had homeless people living in their backyard)!  Their adult children talked about this a lot in the document they left, which is the only reason why we know about it.  My great-great grandfather was a doctor, one of the only ones in that entire area, so it made sense these people would flock to this strong Christian family, who were both husband and wife, very loving and kind people who would physically and spiritually care for them for free.  They were probably like a beacon of hope to destitute people, and this is what Jesus said we should be like.  I know they viewed this service as a beautiful charity, and I’m amazed in contrast, at Sofia’s selfishness and greed and disdain toward the poor.  For all her admonitions and self-proclamations of thinking she was super religious and selfless, we see she was anything but!  But that is how self-righteous people operate.  They see themselves as put-upon, as an ever-perpetual victim, but in reality, their lives are much more complex with their causing their own problems.  She hated the poor, hated serving them, and hated her own husband for loving them and having them on their property.  I am so grateful my great-great grandmother did not feel this way, how awful it would have been for their marriage if she’d behaved like Sofia Tolstoy.
  14. Sofia would frequently use threats or actual attempts of suicide in order to manipulate him further in order to control her husband.  This is classic psychological disorder-type actions.  I believe she was probably bi-polar, or Cluster B-type, but it would take a very skilled psychologist to go through everything she did (and especially the disturbed way she thought) to untangle what she had.  But it’s clear she was not mentally healthy, and probably wasn’t from a young age.
  15. Tolstoy went on to become a fervent and very strange, type of Christian (note that he wasn’t when we was whoring around in his young years).  In his later years, he came to the strong convictions that it was morally wrong and horrible for young men to do what he had done, to sleep around so much before marriage, and praised and promoted abstinence before marriage for both sexes.  I do admit he took his views a little too far in his old age, but after decades of living with a wife who tortured him mentally and emotionally, I think his views that people shouldn’t get married at all (or have sex – he became asexual in ideology) probably are the reason for his extreme views.

I’m sure I’ll write more when I have time.  It’s interesting to read someone else’s diary… very eye-opening to see how someone else’s mind works.

I myself, am an avid diary-writer ever since I was 6 years old.  My husband has read all my diaries LOL, so reading about Sofia and Leo reading each other’s diaries, and such, leads me to compare and contrast the differences between their relationship and ours.  It’s so sad that she chooses to constantly write herself as the victim to her own life’s story… never taking ownership of her glaringly obvious faults, and everything always being other people’s fault… her always the perfect, selfless martyr who resentfully dedicates her life to others in a way that makes them feel they’re taking advantage of her.  It just doesn’t have to be that way.

We’ve been through many trials in our marriage of different kinds, but we’ve remained remarkably happy and are closer together in every way through having gone through those trials.  It’s strange how some of the very same things that caused so much hostility in the Tolstoy marriage, have only caused us to grow closer together and more strongly bonded.  I do believe a lot of that has to do with how I chose to respond to our trials in ways that encouraged my husband, and didn’t tear him down or berate him for, “failing.”

Major outside stresses that could have broken us, didn’t, and when I read the old diaries, they’re filled with this stuff (getting kicked out for wanting to marry him, living in poverty for a few years, having a baby before we were financially ready, doing too much at one time like school, work, and child-rearing, extreme in-law problems, losing jobs early on that made it more financially stressful, miscarriage, parental health decline, caring for dying grand-parents, etc.)… the diaries hit on all those events, but at the same time they’re also filled with so much joy, optimism, and hope and ways/ideas to be better in the future.  They read in stark contrast to the way Sofia wrote and thought about life.  It’s been a very important spiritual lesson to see the way she saw things, how she couldn’t get past them, and then how those, “hang-ups,” caused her to destroy her own happiness or future chance at happiness.

When I went to a counselor a few years ago because my husband wanted me to after my dad had his stroke, he was amazed how good our marriage was even with going through as many difficulties we’d already been through.  He had some kind of checklist for “major,” trials a couple may have experienced in marriage, and our marriage checked almost every one!  By all accounts, we should have been in a horrible marriage where I resented and hated him for, “failing,” me as a husband.  The counselor was very proud of how in love we still were, how strong our marriage was, and how even after everything we’d been through, we still had a joyful and cheerful outlook on life and the future.

It really makes me wonder how different Sofia’s marriage may have been, if she’d just been aware enough to understand how much she contributed to her own unhappiness?  Do people like this ever know how off they are in their reasoning, or are they truly mentally disturbed?

 

 

 

Quick Link reference for those who don’t have a copy of her diary:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/jun/02/sofia-tolstoy-diaries

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Letters from Mentors: Will the Light in My Eyes Go Out from Not ‘Achieving All I Could Be?’

A few months ago, I had a discussion with RichardP at another blog about going back to school to get a simple training degree (2 years or shorter!) eventually when the kids were older.

RP said:

“I’d hate to see the light go out of your eyes because you one day conclude that you never got the chance to be all that you could be.”

I really don’t think he meant ill-will toward me at all, but something about his comment sounded odd to me, as if the only way the light in my eyes wouldn’t go out, would be pursuing more education and getting back into the working world (which realistically, this may not happen now that we’re homeschooling).  When something bothers me, I tend to ask women I consider friends and mentors what they think.  So I asked a few women who were older (decades older) to see what they thought of his comment, especially in light of our family situation of me needing to be home with our kids right now.

Stingray gave me just an incredible reply with lots of wisdom and encouragement; it gave me much to think about.

The whole point of having these “Letters from Mentors,” is to help other women out there who may feel the way I do, have the same questions or are looking for answers that aren’t readily available anymore in our sinful culture.  I hope her words blesses any women out there who come across this same sentiment like her words blessed me.

***

From Stingray:

Hey Stephanie,

I’ve  been thinking about your email a lot over the past months and I can tell you, this man’s statement is incredibly irritating to me, as well.  I have to say, you need to go with your gut on this one.  The light in your eyes is there because of the joy in your life.  You get to decide what brings you joy.  Not some random man who only knows you from the internet.  It sounds to me like your family brings you joy.
What kind of light would you really have in your eyes if you went back to school, presumably went into a good amount of debt, and missed all of that time with your family?  And while much of the world these days tends to equate the piece of paper you would get for your degree as an education, is that really what it constitutes?
Many would say that since I’m a homeschooling stay at home mom I am wasting my life, but I can certainly tell you that I am FAR more educated now than I was when I got my degree (which was useful in finding me a husband and that was the very best thing that came from it).
Education is not a piece of paper.  It is a compilation of what you have learned.  What better age to live in than the internet age to get a true education. If it is knowledge you desire, you have it nearly free at your finger tips.  If it is status you desire, which is what most women want when the speak of career, then yes, school is the way to go.  But as you said, at what price and will it bring you joy?
You asked if I have run into this.  Not personally, no.  I mean, I’ve seen people who really resent stay at home mom’s and whatnot, but it’s never been said to my face.  (Well, when I was pregnant with my first a woman asked me what I was going to do after the baby came and I told her I was going to be a SAHM and homeschool.  The look she gave me suggested I had a foul stench, but I just thought that was funny).
But being a SAHM has always been my dream since I was a little girl.  I never had any career aspirations. I did go to college, because that is what you did at 18 those days.  I didn’t enjoy it and I didn’t enjoy working for the 5 years I did. 
I get that some women are happy working, but I do not believe that it is true of most of the women who make that claim.  I think they say it because they think they have to.  They believe it, because the alternative is unthinkable.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not unthinkable.

The alternative can really be what maintains that light.

Yeah,  I know that in the midst of diapers and sleepless nights that it might not seem like it, but really envision that dream you mentioned.

Having those Godly children and watching their effect on the world.  In 50 years, in 100 years, what do you think will have a bigger impact in this world?

This is all to say, that man doesn’t know what he is talking about.  He’s mimicking back to you the standard knowledge so many of us were taught growing up.  But were most of us ever taught an alternative choice to this?  Were we ever taught that something else that might bring us great happiness is out there?  Why were we never given a choice to make on our own?  The very fact that you believe you do have a choice says a whole lot.  Don’t let him doubt yourself.  This is your choice to make and you have given it way more thought and have more experience to make the decision than vast numbers of people out there.  It is yours to make.  You know what brings you joy.
Block the rest of the world out and listen only to that still small voice and your husband in this matter.  You will figure it out that way.  The world is not in your home.  Your home is where this decision needs to come from.
All my best to you, Stephanie.  Make this choice in a place of confidence.  Follow your gut.  You know far more about this than most.  Trust that.
Stingray

Books for Young Minds

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One of the gifts we thought to give our oldest (8) this year for Christmas, was the gift of some really good classic books.  We both have an intense love of books and reading, one of our favorite pastimes before we had children was to take turns reading to each other at night after the work day from our favorite books.

We want our children to hopefully share this love of books, and we think the best way to help them achieve that, is to read to them, and to read to them often.

Starting our homeschooling journey recently, I’d been trying to figure out what kinds of books to read that were fitting for him.  The coursework I’d chosen was great in all other categories, except the literature suggestions unfortunately.  I mean… this boy has been reading Harry Potter since age 5 in kindergarten.  He went through all the books of Narnia with my husband two years ago – so suggestions like Winnie the Pooh or Pippi Longstocking, although we read through them and laughed… they’re more in line with what I’m reading to our 4 year old.  I could tell he really needed more.

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The first one he was super excited to dive into was The Pilgrim’s Progress.  I told him about this book as it was one I remember reading when I was about his age at the Christian school I went to.  This book was so good, and so helpful in one’s Christian journey, that even 20-something years later, I still think about it and remember parts that reflect what I’m going through in my journey as a Christian.  Even now as we’ve started reading it together (he was so excited he couldn’t wait for the break to be over 😀 ), I’m given the chance to find new treasures and meanings in it that I of course missed at such a young age.  I told him this, too, that this would be a book he’d probably love to reread over the course of his life, just to understand the journey better as he gains more life experience.  I still think it’s good for children this young to read it.  I remember reading it and of course realizing I didn’t have those kinds of life experiences yet, but still understanding the wisdom it imparted and instruction on how to navigate different things like despair and discouragement, the hills of difficulty, etc.  And I can see that even though he’s only 8, he already comprehends those things, too.

Plus it is wonderful to read it with him, stop and then explain things about life and faith.  The characters in Pilgrim’s Progess are just so necessary for children to understand!  People who are “Obstinate,” or “Pliable,” or the “Wordly Wiseman,” or the man named, “Legality.”  Each one proposes an amazing discussion we then have about who these people are, why they are the way they are, and how they derail one’s life or miss what Christianity is about.

Rereading this book also prompted us to look into the life of the author, John Bunyan, who was such an admirable man in his own right.  Learning together about his own life journey, and that he wrote this book while in prison (!) was a huge lesson in and of itself for us to talk about.  We even read through Bunyan’s “Apology,” for his book, or rather struggled through it LOL…  Because of his use of old English and speaking in riddles, every line I had to stop and explain what he was talking about.  It provided new ideas our son has never thought about deeply enough, but also great humor as every sentence rhymed and sounded so strange!  Overall it was a great lesson in not only the history behind him being imprisoned for just preaching and living out his faith, but also his steadfastness in the face of persecution (writing a book he knew would probably not be accepted – hence the lonnng apology and defense of it).  It was also interesting to learn that some of Bunyan’s harshest critics and naysayers, were of course the fellow Christians themselves.  It’s always been that way, from the Prophets of old, to the Wesley’s, to Spurgeon, etc. and that itself is another great lesson.

*

The other books we got him are as in the first picture, Gulliver’s Travels, The Swiss Family Robinson, and Treasure Island.  He already knows of The Swiss Family Robinson, as it’s one of the my husband’s favorite stories, and it has A LOT of strong Christian lessons in it, more than what the popular movies would make it seem like.  We love it because it portrays the almost insurmountable trials of a very traditional Christian family, and shows them constantly looking to their faith and the Bible, and guidance from God to understand how to overcome their barrage of struggles.  Just a wonderful book for growing and influencing a young person’s faith, in our opinion.

And of course Gulliver’s Travels and Treasure Island are more just for pure boyish fun!  Not that girls can’t enjoy these books, too, although I admit I was never interested in reading these two.  Apparently, when men read these as boys they tend to stay with them long into adulthood, which to me is a mark of a very good book worth reading!

 

More books I can’t wait to read with him:

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Oliver Twist

 

If any readers have suggestions for what else would be good for children his age, please let know!  I don’t think you can ever have too many good books 😀

Stephanie

Gardening: Just a Little Bit Goes a Long Way

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Our garden has been flourishing since we’ve started again!  It’s reminded me of so many passages in Scripture that talk about God and gardens, His pruning us and tending to us.  Everyday it is such a joy to go out and tend it.  Even just looking out our window to see it, along with the butterflies and moths that flit around in it, brings me so much joy each day.

My husband bought me a dragonfly light that changes beautiful colors at night to light the garden.  So we’ve nicknamed it Dragonfly Garden ❤  It is so sweet.

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I’ve seen a ladybug on our giant spinach leaves every time I’ve gone out this week, eating away the pests that would harm the plants.  And to my surprise, I saw a blue dragonfly on one of jalapeno plant leaves!!  It sat there for awhile and let me look at it 😀  It was so awesome and gave new meaning to our naming it Dragonfly Garden.

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We have such an abundance of cabbages, Swiss chard, and spinach it is finally helping our grocery bill since we no longer have to buy our salad greens (something we bought weekly) for our sandwiches and salads.  It is such a wonderful feeling to be able to go out to this garden that I and my son have planted together, and pick food for our table and know that it’s bringing in an abundance of nourishing vitamins and minerals to our family!

I always wanted to be a woman who had a sustainable garden – a woman who genuinely loved and enjoyed gardening.

***

It’s kind of strange to see that I’ve achieved this goal now.  Last year our tomato plants did so amazing we had a production each week to eat off of, so hopefully we can get back up to that again… but I’m particularly happy about our spinach leaves 😀  they cost a lot at our grocery store, and it’s just so fulfilling to be growing an abundance of them right in our backyard!

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For the Lord will comfort Zion [in her captivity];

He will comfort all her ruins.

And He will make her wilderness like Eden (the most beautiful garden),

And her desert like the garden of the Lord;

Joy and gladness will be found in her,

Thanksgiving and the voice of a melody.

Isaiah 51:3

 

And the Lord will continually guide you,

And satisfy your soul in scorched and dry places,

And give strength to your bones;

And you will be like a watered garden,

And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

Isaiah 58:11

 

***

God is the Gardener…

For we are  God’s fellow workers [His servants working together];

you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building.”

1 Corinthians 3:9

Staying Focus: Video Lesson

Back in the beginning of October, I wrote a post about what God had been convicting me of in August and September of this year.  I was encouraged to try to do a video series about what God’s been teaching me, there is something great about getting to hear tone of voice and see a person’s disposition that I believe was missing from my writing.  Writing and words can seem so harsh, and that’s not what I desire to convey here – a harsh message of truth without the love and encouragement of Christ.

 

Bible verses mentioned in video:

“Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above (the heavenly things), not things that are on the earth (which have only temporal value).”  Colossians 3:2 (AMP)

“Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],

Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of [b]scoffers (ridiculers).

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.
 
And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].

 
The wicked [those who live in disobedience to God’s law] are not so,
But they are like the chaff [worthless and without substance] which the wind blows away.
 
Therefore the wicked will not stand [unpunished] in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
 
For the Lord knows and fully approves the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked shall perish.”  Psalm 1:1-5 (AMP)

Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage]
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity].”  Proverbs 4:25 (AMP)

“For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose].”  Romans 8:5 (AMP)

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable andworthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely andbrings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, thinkcontinually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”  Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],

Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].”  Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you.”  Psalm 32:8 (AMP)

The [intrinsically] good woman ( text says man) produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure[stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil woman (man)produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for her mouth speaks from the overflow of her heart.”  Luke 6:45 (AMP)

How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless],
Who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord.”  Psalm 119:1 (AMP)

When You Doubt that God Can Use You

Like I’ve written before, this past few months and year has been quite a spiritual journey for me.  I’ve been faced with many lessons, many of my own faults and shortcomings, and with concrete truths that I had started doubting about God and what He can do.

One of things that was brought up was whether or not God could use a person.  Up until the past few months, having grown up in a Christian church and Christian school for many years, I firmly believed that God could and did use whoever He desired to use.  We were taught that anyone could be used from a young age, and taught that if we let Him, and were open to His will, that is was almost impossible for Him to not use us and our life in some way.

When we became pre-teens and teenagers, we heard the message to not let anyone look down on us because of how young we were, not to be discouraged by people who would discount the gift God’s given us, but to know that God often uses the weak to shame the strong, the “foolish” in the world’s eyes to shame the “wise” and learned.  Our faithful and godly teachers and ministers instilled a confidence in us that was beautiful, because it was confidence and faith in God’s power to use whoever He deemed fit for His purposes, no matter what anyone else thought about it.

But recently, I had been doubting these old truths that I grew up understanding.  I had seen older women discourage younger women from ministering to others, and their reasons seemed right at first because they seemed to make logical sense.  The problem is that, God’s ways often don’t make sense to us.  His ways are higher than our ways, He can see things we can’t as He sees the whole picture and into the hearts of people.

Older women were discouraging younger women from fulfilling a calling to encourage others with their words.  Their excuses ranged from telling the women they were just too young, that they didn’t have enough knowledge or wisdom yet in life, that they haven’t lived through enough years and trials to be able to speak to people with God’s wisdom.

They may not have directly said it, but the message was loud and clear:

God probably won’t use you to encourage other women, in fact, because you aren’t in your 50’s, it’s almost certain He won’t.

This is a lie, and a lie that the Enemy wants us to believe so that we don’t even try to live lives that are bold, that are lived by faith for God in helping and encouraging others.

Why bother encouraging other women if you don’t even think you’re old enough to be doing so?  

Why dare to believe God can use you when you believe that you don’t have the necessary qualifications to even be considered?

The Bible is full of people who God chose to use because they were not well equipped, because they didn’t have the necessary qualifications according to other people.  

***

Why did God choose to use people no one else would have picked for the job?  To shame those who think otherwise, to shame those who arrogantly think they know who and how God works, or who He chooses to use for His work.

Abraham and Sarah were too old to have children and produce a people for God, Jacob was a known liar and the younger brother who technically shouldn’t have received the blessing.  Joseph was the younger son and sold into slavery, thrown into prison, and yet became second to Pharaoh.  Moses was a murderer who didn’t speak well or have the gift of speaking, and Joshua was younger than many of the Israelites he led to the Promised land.  Rahab was a prostitute.  Ruth was from a pagan group of people the Hebrews shunned and wouldn’t even let into their households.  David was the youngest son, and not who the people would have agreed would have made a great king at the time He was called.  Esther dealt with fear, inhibition in her spirit, and doubt that God could use her.  And there are MANY more examples in the Bible of people who were normal sinners, just like you and I, people who didn’t meet the “requirements” of others, and yet were used to do great things because they trusted in God and leaned on Him in their faith.

If you ever want to read a Hall of Fame of faith, just read Hebrews chapter 11.

He chose people who were not what other people would have chosen, to show His glory through the weak, smaller, younger, less accomplished people He so frequently picked to use.  He looked at people’s hearts, and even when everyone else thought God had a strange and flat out wrong pick, His will prevailed and His purposes came to pass.

It was amazing the amount of discouragement I’ve witnessed towards younger women to fulfill their calling in encouraging other single or married women.  I want to do the opposite here, I want to remind you that God can use anyone He wants.

When we discourage others in this way, we are telling them untruths, and therefore not doing the work of God.  When we discourage young women from growing in their calling of encouraging other women, we are discouraging the work of God to continue in their hearts, doesn’t that sound like something the Enemy himself would want?  Are we letting ourselves do HIS work then, instead, when we discourage others from their calling?

As a result, the person that is discouraged by usually someone older, may end up harboring doubts in her heart that God can or would use her.  She may fall into bitterness, anger, or resentment as she sees God using other people instead of her.  She may become spiritually wounded as a result of someone she believes is godly, discouraging her calling, and rendered ineffective for God to use any longer.  Her heart may become so spiritually wounded and discouraged to where she even mocks the fact that God can and often does use other women like her to do a ministry!  She may even believe that what they are doing, is not a ministry.  Planting those seeds of doubt that God can or would ever use her, doubt that she can be used while not in her 50’s to encourage other women, is evil and not godly.  It is the most horrible thing that I’ve actually witnessed here online that I’ve never witnessed anywhere else, that older women actively discouraging younger women to allow themselves to be used by God to encourage others.

***

We are actually all called to encourage one another, and biblically speaking, every believer becomes a type of minister by how they live their life as a witness to others, and in sharing their life experiences.

I’ll never forget when I was 10, I felt a strong, deep calling to be a missionary of some kind.  I had heard a missionary from India speak at our school, and the love for ministering and helping others was planted deeply in my heart.  I wanted God to use me, and my heart was fertile ground for Him to do so.  When I was 12 or 13, I publicly promised myself to be used by God in whatever way He would do so.  At 17, in my junior year, I felt called to be in the ministry (not as a pastor, I don’t believe women should hold that ministry position, but someone working for a ministry or missionary team), and talked with our family pastor about whether or not I could know for sure if this was right and from God.  He assured me that we were all called to be a minister to others the day we became Christian, He assured me that wherever God wanted me, He would use me to minister to other people, that the most important thing for me to do was to be open to His will in my life, and go where He leads me.  This was so encouraging to me and prompted me to read and study everything harder, and be open and very attentive to God’s leading.

I cannot imagine what would have happened to my faith if my pastor had actively discouraged me, telling me that I was too young to minister to others with my life, or that I didn’t have enough experience, or that I had to wait until I was in my fifties and not ovulating anymore to be used by God to encourage other women to love their husbands and children.

You do not have to be a certain age for God to use you.

You do not have to be older, post-menopausal (which can occur in someone’s late-30’s or early 60’s), or a blood-relative to be able to encourage and minister to women if God wants to use you to do this.

There are examples all over our world of women who do not fit these narrow-minded, specific and false “qualifications” for ministering to other women.

You do not have to have experienced every kind of trial for God to use you.

Just recently, I received an email from an amazing woman that has been used to reach 1,000’s of other women through her online ministry.  She assured me that all of our experiences are different, but that sharing them is beneficial and important because it might speak to where a certain woman is in her life at that moment.  Her encouragement was so beautiful, and brought tears to my eyes after what has seemed like months of receiving insults, mocking, and criticism leading me to feel discouraged in being used for God.

Having gone through trials is important and very helpful for producing more empathy, but it’s not something that disqualifies a person from God using them to encourage others who are going through trials.

As I walk and continue to grow spiritually, clinging to God, there will be trials in my life that God will continue to use if I stay open to Him using me, don’t become discouraged, and don’t doubt His power in my or other people’s lives.

And there will be trials in YOUR life, but as you work through those trials, clinging to God, He will be able to use them, sometimes even when you’re going through them, to minister to others, helping them want to draw nearer to God.

Be bold in your faith, stand firm, and don’t let ANYONE tell you that God can or will not use you to encourage others.

Don’t let ANYONE, even if you think they appear godly and wise, to discourage God’s pull on your life to encourage others by placing unbiblical requirements like human boundaries around what they think God uses or does.

Stand firm, cling to God, deal with others (especially your opposition or critics) with kindness and humility, understanding that they are blind or walking in spiritual darkness.

God loves you, and He can use your experiences!

 

Teaching My Son to Be Thankful When He’s Sad

The day before Thanksgiving, my husband had to work late.  He was set to get off early, but plans change fast for a Police Officer… he never knows what he’ll face, but he always does it bravely, and his faith and courage is like a light to us.

But my son was waiting for him to come home… he expected that his daddy would get off early so that the fun could begin.  Whenever daddy is home, he and our oldest son have the greatest time playing, wrestling, and just plain being silly-heads!

But the time came, and went, and after eating another dinner by ourselves, another bath and bedtime routine by ourselves, another tucking in and praying blessing over my son, while I was praying the blessing over him, he started to cry.  He told me through his tears how much he missed his daddy, and this has become something that happens more often than I want to admit.  My son LOVES his dad… like REALLY loves his dad, and he MISSES him at night to point of going to bed crying!

Being married to my Officer, I have to be prepared to be flexible, because he often has little control over what will dictate when he works or how late he’ll have to stay.  I don’t give him a hard time because I understand the greater purpose and reason behind him staying later than normal.  He’s usually helping someone in dire need, or catching a thief, or tracking down a stolen car, or intervening in a child sexual abuse situation and waiting for CPS to come.  His staying late means he’s being someone else’s hero, but that’s extremely hard for a 5 year old boy who just misses his daddy to understand.

Usually I comfort him and tell him to be strong and that his dad will come home and pray his blessing over him as he sleeps, I promise him he’ll see his dad in the morning.  But this time I had an idea… it was the night before Thanksgiving, and we were focusing on being thankful for everything in our life, so I decided I could help him use this opportunity to thank God for the gifts he DOES have, even wen daddy isn’t there.

He bowed his little head, and we started to pray, him repeating every word I said, together, we spoke thankfulness into his heartbreaking situation:

“Thank you God, that I have a wonderful dad.

Thank you that he loves me so much!

Thank you that he works so hard for us.

Thank you that he helps people who are in need, and deals rightly with evil people in our city.

Thank you that he prays a blessing over me each night as I sleep.

Thank you that he’s off for Thanksgiving this year, and that we’ll have him all day tomorrow all to ourselves!

Amen!”

 

A strange thing happened when we started praying, as he repeated back each sentence in his own prayer with me, I noticed that his tears stopped!  His voice tone changed.  He went from being legitimately heartbroken over missing his dad, to being filled with true, unabashed thankfulness for having such an amazing, wonderful dad!

It was a light bulb moment for me as well.  Oh how our world changes when we move from complaining about our circumstances to being thankful and joyful despite them!

And for you dear reader, I’m not sure what you’re going through right now, what trials you may be facing… but I do know this, praying that prayer with my son was a miracle.  The way it changed his entire outlook, and helped him to not go to bed with tears yet again, was such a blessing to this mommy.

I challenge you, sweet reader, to try to thank God in your tough times, to try to remember the things He’s blessed you with and take back the joy that Satan has stolen from you.

Much love and blessings!

Who You Are When You Are Alone Online… That Is Who You Really Are

Its been an increasing fascination for me, the difference between how people will act in person compared to how they act online when believing they are anonymous (not linked to their real name or identity).  This is the reason why we need mentors – why I need several mentors – as I’ve written about before recently, so that we feel accountable for our “secret” or “private” online interactions.  Its the only healthy and honest way to live.  And the only way to live it, is to be an open book, to live your life with real accountability, and to not think of yourself as “anonymous.”

You are not anonymous.

You represent your faith, your family, the people who think they know you in real life.

Who you are when you are alone online… THAT is who you really are.

I stumbled upon an article this morning dealing with this very topic, from Christian Canadian author, Tim Challies.  He brings up Josh Duggar, the Christian man and political leader who was found to not only have a sordid past of sexually molesting several girls, including his own sisters, but to be living a double life as an upstanding Christian man who had not one, but two adultery accounts for the past two years.

While Josh’s double life is an extreme example, and something I don’t think occurs very often, sometimes even normal sinners fall into a situation where they are seriously tempted to lash out at someone online when they think they will remain anonymous.

The sad thing is that people who are tempted to do this, usually are not truly growing spiritually or relationally, because when you feel responsible to God (and others) for your actions, you don’t act differently online.  If someone is pretending to be a certain way – pretending to actually be kind, patient, loving, self-controlled etc, but are actually acting the opposite online, they split their personality to be one way in public, and another in private.  They may work at your church, be nice and appear totally normal, be able to hold a nice conversation with you face to face, but in their private times alone on their computer, they send horrible emails trying to control family members or coworkers, use their free time to stalk people they don’t like who are no longer talking to them, look at their social media accounts or read their blogs, searching for an opportunity to vent their hidden hatred or anger.  Its sad to me because people who do this will never grow this way, without being confronted that what they did was wrong, that they aren’t anonymous, they will never feel the necessary conviction from the Holy Spirit to do the painful work of changing their hearts on the inside.

We are all hypocrites to some degree or another, but living with two personas – an online versus a real life persona – destroys a person’s chance of developing real, tangible character – character that doesn’t change depending on the circumstance.  Allowing it to continue destroys the chance of them being convicted and doing the painful work of confronting the things they don’t like about themselves.  I spoke in my recent post Discipleship & Mentors about a time when I allowed myself to do something I knew was wrong, lashing out at family members who even though they were acting evil, provoking me for 5 years, my behaving evil right back was not justified behavior.  Two wrongs don’t make a right.  No one caught me, but I did get myself into trouble as sin always does (destroyed relationships, immense guilt for behaving badly, in trouble with God, etc.).  Not to mention I completely ruined whatever witness I had to those individual family members – I knew giving in to my anger was extremely wrong and harmful (to them and to myself).  Although my actions were always linked to my real self, the fact that I allowed myself to lash out online showed me how easy it was to give in to sinful behavior using social media.  Going to mentors right after the fact (that I had been shutting out of my life or outright avoiding), and being honest about the situation, honest of how I let myself lash out, helped me reject that behavior, and pursue becoming a woman of integrity.  A woman who was responsible, all the time, to God and to others for her actions.

Challies’ article  describes how even our internet searches can be recovered or traced online, showing what a person has been searching for on the internet, what they were truly thinking.

Would you be ok with your internet searches open to the public?  Would it reveal what you really do in your alone time is drastically different from what you project in person, or who you try to be?

“You have heard by now that the site AshleyMadison.com was hacked and that millions of users had their information made public. Ashley Madison is a company that exists to facilitate (and even guarantee) adulterous relationships, and now those people who wanted to be quietly unfaithful to their spouses have been suddenly outed. As I read the headlines and heard of some of those caught up in the scandal (including, sadly, Josh Duggar), I thought back to one of the first times in Internet history that we had to grapple with the power of the data we leave behind us every time we use the Web. For that we will need to go back to 2006.

Who you are when you are alone and online, that is who you really are—no more, and no less.

In 2006, America Online made an epic misjudgment which taught us a valuable lesson: Who you are when you are alone and online, that is who you really are—no more, and no less. As part of a research project headed Dr. Abdur Chowdhury, AOLmade available to the public a massive amount of data culled from their search engine — the search history of 650,000 users over a three-month period. This totaled some 21 million searches. Before releasing the data, they anonymized it, stripping away user names and replacing names with numbers, so that a user with a name like timc2000 simply became User #75636534. Yet because of the often-personal nature of the data, it did not take long before many of those abstract numbers were linked to real names, an obvious and serious violation of privacy and confidentiality. Within days, AOL realized its mistake and withdrew the data, but already it had been copied and uploaded elsewhere on the Internet, where today it lives on in infamy.

Some of the search histories were dark and disturbing, others unremarkable in every way. Still others were strangely amusing. It was often possible to reconstruct a person’s life, at least in part, from what they searched for over a period of time. Consider this user:

  • shipping pets 2006-03-01 16:36:48
  • does ata ship pets 2006-03-01 17:10:35
  • continental.com 2006-03-01 21:34:53
  • pet shipping 2006-03-01 21:35:11
  • broken bones in cat 2006-03-04 03:31:53
  • cat has broken bones above base of tail vet said it will heal on its own
    2006-03-04 03:32:53
  • cat broken bones and diarreah 2006-03-04 03:58:24
  • cat health 2006-03-04 14:10:22
  • cat has broken bones wasn’t bleeding before but now is and now she
    can’t defecate too 2006-03-04 14:16:35
  • mucous blood diarreah in cat 2006-03-04 14:22:47

It is not too difficult to understand what transpired through this three-day history of searches. The search engine data tells a sad story about a person and his or her cat.

This glut of user data raised a nearly endless number of questions and concerns. Primarily, it brought awareness to the fact that search engines know you better than you may like. Actually, they probably know you better than you know yourself in some ways. You tend to forget what you have searched for in the past; they don’t. We may like to think that our searches are just quick queries, harmless and pointless inquiries known only to us.

Here is an AOL user whose searches tell a sad story (for sake of space, I have stripped out a large number of searches):

  • body fat calliper 2006-03-01 18:54:10
  • curb morning sickness 2006-03-05 08:53:23
  • get fit while pregnant 2006-03-09 18:49:37
  • he doesn’t want the baby 2006-03-11 03:52:01
  • you’re pregnant he doesn’t want the baby 2006-03-11 03:52:49
  • online degrees theology 2006-03-11 04:05:24
  • online christian colleges 2006-03-11 04:13:33
  • foods to eat when pregnant 2006-03-12 09:38:02
  • baby names 2006-03-14 19:11:10
  • baby names and meanings 2006-03-14 20:01:27
  • physician search 2006-03-23 10:20:04
  • best spa vacation deals 2006-03-27 20:04:09
  • maternity clothes 2006-03-28 09:28:25
  • pregnancy workout videos 2006-03-29 10:01:39
  • buns of steel video 2006-03-29 10:12:38
  • what is yoga 2006-03-29 12:17:31
  • what is theism 2006-03-29 12:18:30
  • hindu religion 2006-03-29 12:18:56
  • yoga and hindu 2006-03-29 12:32:05
  • is yoga alligned with christianity 2006-03-29 12:33:18
  • yoga and christianity 2006-03-29 12:33:42
  • abortion clinics charlotte nc 2006-04-17 11:00:02
  • greater carolinas womens center 2006-04-17 11:40:22
  • can christians be forgiven for abortion 2006-04-17 21:14:19
  • can christians be forgiven for abortion 2006-04-17 21:14:19
  • roe vs. wade 2006-04-17 22:22:07
  • effects of abortion on fibroids 2006-04-18 06:50:34
  • abortion clinic charlotte 2006-04-18 15:14:03
  • symptoms of miscarriage 2006-04-18 16:14:07
  • water aerobics charlotte nc 2006-04-18 19:41:27
  • abortion clinic chsrlotte nc 2006-04-18 21:45:39
  • total woman vitamins 2006-04-20 16:38:16
  • engagement rings 2006-04-20 16:58:37
  • high risk abortions 2006-04-20 17:53:49
  • abortion fibroid 2006-04-20 17:55:18
  • benefits of water aerobics 2006-04-20 23:25:50
  • wedding gown styles 2006-04-26 19:37:34
  • recover after miscarriage 2006-05-22 18:17:53
  • marry your live-in 2006-05-27 07:25:45

This woman goes from searching about pregnancy, to realizing that the father does not want to keep the baby, to researching abortion clinics, to researching whether she can, according to her faith, choose abortion, to dealing with a miscarriage. And at the end of it all, life goes on and she seems ready to be married.

What is so amazing about these searches is the way people transition seamlessly from the normal and mundane to the outrageous and perverse.

What is so amazing about these searches is the way people transition seamlessly from the normal and mundane to the outrageous and perverse. They are, thus, an apt reflection of real life. The user who is in one moment searching for information about a computer game may in the next be looking for the most violent pornography he can imagine. Back and forth it goes, from information about becoming a foster parent to the search for incestual pornography. One user went from searching for preteen pornography to searching for games appropriate for a youth group. Others, spurned lovers, sought out ways of exacting revenge while still others grappled with the moral implications of cheating on their spouses. These searches are a glimpse into the hearts of the people who made them.

And now millions of Ashley Madison users have been outed in much the same way, except this time their actual names and personal information are sitting right there alongside their data. They have been exposed as people who went looking for adultery. And the whole world is sitting by, looking on with an amused eye. Spouses are searching through the data wondering if even their husband, their wife, may have been involved. Gossip blogs are combing the data looking for headlines.

One of the great deceptions of the Internet is that it allows us to think there are two parts to us, the part who exists in real time and space, and the part who exists in cyberspace.

But events like this ought to make us realize that when you go online you display and expose who and what you really are.

And who you really are will eventually find you out. God will not be mocked.”

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

Single Men: Your Girlfriend Should Not Want to Change You

conflictlove

This should be common knowledge, but apparently, many single guys (and girls) get involved with people that are not quite all that they would want their future spouse to be.  And so they embark on some strange journey of trying to “help” them, or change them into their fantasy person.

I’ve seen girls accept guys for boyfriends they aren’t truly attracted to, at a very base sexual level.  Women are definitely more attracted to qualities other than simply a man’s physical appearance, that is undeniably true.  A husky man that has confidence and humor can attract a woman perceived as “out of his league” with a sexiness that exudes from his behavior and general confidence with women.  But even most women have a physical standard for men that is more stringent than they ever usually feel comfortable admitting.  It’s why you find so many women who are overweight themselves, pining after hot firefighters, or celebrities… meanwhile their husbands (who aren’t as attractive as these hot men) are lucky if they are having a sex life of once a month!

In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a woman in the real world who would ever have the guts to admit that she is more turned on by a hot, handsome guy, than a nice guy that still looks like the nerds she knew in high school.  It might not be a body builder type, but it’s not exactly the new “Dad Bod” either.

Guys, your physical appearance matters, and if you are interested in being more than Just Friends, you’d be smart to capitalize on your youth, health, and fitness in order to attract the kind of high quality girl you want.

But that would be a whole other topic, this post is explicitly for single men, who somehow find themselves in the very awkward position of dating or being with a girl (or woman) who is just not happy with who they are at that moment in time.  This is the kind of girl who tries to get you to join a gym membership – you know… “for your health,” (snark) not because she’s trying to force you into some kind of role to be her perfect person.  The point is, a woman who is doing this to you, usually does not care (or have any conscious knowledge sometimes) how critical or cruel she is being, she is not worried about your feelings of self-worth or self-confidence because she’s so focused on how you should be.

She often doesn’t realize that criticizing your weight, job, clothes, or any of that IS undermining your self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.  She’d rather you go through the painful process of accepting her criticisms and changing yourself (for her comfort level), than her do the difficult work of finding (or catching) someone that already meets her physical, educational, or financial standards for a good relationship.

Physical

Educational

Financial

These are probably the three biggest areas I’ve seen where women try to provoke through constant bitching change men.  There are other areas as well, like his friendships, but generally, these are the areas where women seem to give men the most grief in a relationship.

Does it come from Low Self Esteem?

Yes.  Yes, I believe it does.  The fact that she would pick someone who was not enough in her estimation to begin with is very telling here.  Why else would any woman settle on a man that is less than she thinks she (at least at some level) deserves?  Here me out single guys!  If a woman is putting you through this kind of unnecessary drama, you will be better off doing one of these three things:

1) Change, but make these improvements only for yourself. There is nothing wrong with getting a better degree, going after a better job or career, losing some weight or getting a gym membership to bulk up a little – all these things are positive, but they are only positive if they are done for the right reasons.

2) Leave her critical spirit in the dust, and then change (follow number 1).  This is hands down your best option here.  As a single, young guy, with more than likely your good health on your side… why put yourself into a relationship (or God-forbid future marriage) with someone who is more than happy to criticize you in any perceived short-coming of yours, to make herself feel better?

3) Don’t change, maybe you are genuinely happy with life as it is – maybe she was pressuring you to go after loftier goals than you desire for yourself, or to work yourself to the bone so that she can have a future of mass credit card bills or a mountain of debt to sate her happiness.  I knew a man that married young to a beautiful sorority girl, his college sweetheart.  He was pre-med at the time, but after their marriage found out that no matter how hard he seemed to try, he just couldn’t make the test scores to actually get in to medical school.  His wife then started to treat him like dirt, criticizing everything about him, his job (where he actually made pretty good), her inability to quit her job to be home with their new baby (she thought he’d be a doctor remember?), made fun of his research achievements (meanwhile he was receiving actual awards for his research), and denying him sexual access.  All because she married someone she didn’t really accept for who he was, but who she imagined he could be in their future together.  She’d rather ruin their marriage, than accept and make the best of the man he has become (a good man who works extremely hard to provide for their family, loves her and his baby, and puts up with her condemning and soul-crushing spirit).  The major drawback of choosing this option is that you will most likely lose the relationship if you don’t change.  For a single man, this is great in my opinion, you have very little to lose as you aren’t invested in her beyond maybe the physical or emotional.  If you do find it hard to move on, perhaps you need to remind yourself that she does not accept you (or possibly even feel sexually attracted to you) at a very very deep level for her.  To stay in that kind of relationship suggests you don’t value yourself enough in the first place, this is something you’d want to explore for yourself… why would you glue yourself to a woman who at her deepest level, isn’t crazy about you?

For a married man, you have my sympathy & a lot more to lose, but keep in mind that bending to her control will only make you even more repulsive in her eyes for your future.  Your best route is to go with number 1, but have the emotional attitude of number 2 in protecting or insulation yourself from her destructive spirit.  You don’t have to divorce her, but keeping a safe emotional distance so that she isn’t constantly cutting you down, while you work on yourself, for yourself, is wise in this kind of situation.

Your Future with a Critical Girlfriend

You have to understand, single guys reading this, the psychological aspect of a woman desiring control over you is bad enough, but to allow her to control you can lead to a future battle of wills when it comes to decisions later on down the road.  A future marriage with this kind of woman is going to be rife with unhappy conflict, why picture having children in this kind of environment?  A critical spirit is very hard for a woman (or a man) to overcome without significant amounts of therapy, and you will be playing into her hand from the beginning by 1) agreeing with her that you aren’t enough as is, and 2) that she is right to control or impose her will of what’s best for you.

Life is already hard guys, why make it harder by picking, or staying with someone who is merely settling on you?