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Cops and Robbers

We all get templates in childhood that we spend the next two decades refining, and we all end up pretty much in a game of cops and robbers. Opposites attract because you are looking for balance (unconsciously), so there is usually one of each in every relationship.

I’m a cop. I admit it. I think everyone ought to live according to the laws of their beings. My husband, on the other hand, is more of a robber–seeing what he can get away with–it started young in a rousing game of stealing grandpa’s hidden candy, who would then chase him swearing in Arabic. (One way to make diabetics–Grandpa was and Richard is now.) They were close, so getting away with something is accompanied by warm, fun feelings.

Good and evil all twisted up together is one of the things that makes living on this planet so difficult. When I was growing up things were very black and white, good and bad, or so I thought. Then everything  began to gray out.

My cop affinity came from not enough boundaries, which leaves a child insecure, and not feeling truly loved. My father had been the favored of nine kids in his family and had never been wrong, so he was lenient and insecure. My mother was a lenient parent because she’d had a rough, angry, non-involved father, so she was going to be different. But she was the cop for their marriage, and my dad kept thinking he could do whatever he wanted.

It takes years to see and admit which one you are, but once you do, it is easier to modify, with God helping you choose. However, the clearer you see things the more discouraging it can be. You often want to fall in a heap and weep, because the more clearly you see God, the more clearly you realize you aren’t even close to being like Him.

Nevertheless, redemption is possible. I can say that from experience. Thinking where we were this time last year (him wanting a divorce), and where we are today–there is no comparison. We are more in love with each other than ever.

Yes, there was work involved, but it was mostly just being willing to look at yourself and admit how you are. God did the work. We only had to give permission and cooperate.

My book on Exodus will come out next month; and writing that, as well as the last year of my own life, have helped me see what a great advantage it is to be aware of and admit your own weakness! I’m thinking of making the subtitle, The Advantage of Weakness. What do you think?

 

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On Making a Marriage Good

Today is our 27th anniversary. We have almost twice as many good years as bad ones! So to those of you struggling in your marriage: It can get better–even good. It depends on these two things: you have to be willing to look at yourself honestly and be willing to change. Plus, you have to be willing to see what isn’t yours and not take all the blame, just your part.

Or said another way, you both have to want to make things better– a win-win for both of you. If you are connected to someone who doesn’t want to make things better, or won’t look at him/herself, set a certain amount of time to step back and pray that they will  see the light and themselves. If it doesn’t happen, get out. You can’t change someone else, only God can. And He has to have permission. If God can’t get permission to work, then only stay as long as you clearly hear Him telling you to. If He can’t change your mate, you aren’t going to!

Do not stay in a toxic environment, it will make you toxic unless you live in close relationship to God.

Having said that, when I told God I wanted to leave a few years after we were married, He told me, “Stay put. You’ve got things to learn.” I was obedient. And now I’m glad. I’m glad for the stability it gave my kids, and for what God did in me and in our relationship. I learned to depend on God, and to look to him to get my needs met. A year later my husband decided to leave and God took him in hand and completely changed our relationship. I’ve written that story here before.

Before that it seemed like an impossible situation, causing more stress than I could handle. But I was contributing. I was very defensive, and very good at blaming, and very good at hiding from seeing it. (And I thought I had learned how to step back and let him be him and do his own thing and experience his own consequences before I married him!)

What I didn’t know, even though he regularly told me, was that I didn’t know how to love. I have made some progress, but truly, I feel like I’m just learning to see myself now, over 20 years later! When what you feel inside is different than how you act outside, you often miss it. And it takes the grace of God to see that.

It takes being loved to see that you have had no idea how to love. And nobody can love you like God. He is so gentle and so kind  and so funny it is amazing. He will never shame you, never leave you. He is always there, always listens, always cares, but He is honest. When He confronts, it heals, and even though it hurts like you’ve never experienced, it’s a good hurt that brings change, and doesn’t last long. He’s completely for you, completely trustworthy, completely good. He’s wild about you, and He’s totally worth the risk of whatever you think you might lose. Nothing compares to being loved by Him (and there is three of Them who love you like that for goodness sake!)

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Interference–Bad and Good

So the day after my post on anger, my little sister texted to ask if her sisters wanted to do a seven-day fast with her for our kids. We said yes; I was thinking maybe I’d fast from sugar, which isn’t a big deal since I don’t usually eat it, and then thought I should ask God. I did and He said immediately, “Fast negativity and blame towards your husband.” So I agreed thinking it would be good after our week.

No sooner had I agreed, than I got hit with little sleep and a load of resentment and blame like you would not believe! It was so intense, I knew it wasn’t just me, and choosing wasn’t cutting it! So I called for back up and got it, but that evening got slammed again and had to shout out to God again.

It wasn’t too rough after that, except I had trouble sleeping which always makes it harder. And at the end I got slammed again, but got through it. I thought I’d done pretty well. Not perfect but well.

The very next day my husband nicely confronted me that I seemed to have gotten more negative and he couldn’t take it. I recognized this was engineered by the dark side, so noticed, but didn’t hook in–didn’t even comment.

But five minutes later he was getting popcorn and I remarked that he couldn’t be hungry–we had eaten lunch not that long before. He exploded that I was like a warden, and I exploded back that he should shut up because NOW I was hurt and angry. I went into the other room and lay down on the bed and talked to God. Emotions are so crazy! So strong, so irrational, so quick!

I had somewhere to go in an hour, and had planned to do something or other and all I got done was processing. I felt so bad, so stupid, and knew that our date night, and the next two or three days were ruined. So God gave me a picture of what I could do–kneel by his chair and say, “I’m sorry. I don’t want to be negative.” But I said, “I can’t. I can see it would work, but I can’t do it.”

So He asked if this was worth it, and I thought about how the evening would go down and the next few days, and said, “No, it’s not, but I can’t do that. So if YOU can do it (get me to) go ahead, but I know I can’t.”

I was watching the clock–I had ten minutes, then five, then three, but it took less than one–on my way out I didn’t kneel, but I laid my hand on his arm and said, “I don’t want to be negative, I’m sorry,” and I left–amazed. I was free! My whole attitude changed, and it was the truth–I don’t want to be negative!

When I went home everything was normal. No pain. No lost time.

You don’t have to feel it, you just have to choose. God can do it for you.

 

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People with Edges and Corners

I think this describes me. I grew up thinking self-protection was a good thing. It’s not. I know a lot of you reading this are surprised. Just like I was when I read it in Matthew. I was over 40–that’s a real late bloomer.

My husband and I were laying in bed the other morning, snuggled up after reading our two chapters. He said, “This is precious time.” And I agreed. “It takes off the rough edges and corners,” I said. He agreed. We are both those kind of people. Have both admitted that we deserve each other. We’ve been forced to look at ourselves and admit who we are.

People who grew up afraid to get close. Maybe not to the extent of Narcissists, but still afraid enough to duck into corners of hiding. Shame causes that. And it’s mostly tone of voice that causes shame. If you were parented with it, you know what I’m saying. It leaves the feeling that you didn’t do it right–can’t be good enough. (Now I turn inside out when I hear shame tones used on my grandchildren. I can hardly keep my mouth shut.)

Or we put edges in our conversation. Maybe because we weren’t encouraged to build others up, or feel safe enough to risk kindness. Edges tinged with sarcasm, jokes that are hurtful, a shaming tone of voice. It’s not that we mean to, it’s just natural to communicate that way. And our sense of humor was built around put downs. We can be very funny at each other’s expense. But lately we can receive the other’s confrontation and apologize. We’ve had a lot of unlearning to do. I think everybody does. Except maybe people who were always taught to be nice. That’s another issue if you were made to be nice and couldn’t be honest. We were skilled at keeping people at arms length.

Arms length doesn’t make for good relationships. Scared to get close. What are we afraid of? For me, it’s being made fun of. Ridicule will cork me. For him, it’s being left. That’s a common one. For you, it might be not good enough, that’s another common one.

Learning how to be people who can live in love is critical to liking your life.

It’s God’s way, and They worked it out so we can unlearn our programming and choose Their better way. I say They because I believe God is relational above everything. One being doesn’t make sense to me. One position filled by three, who learned to live in love and chose it as the basis of Their government, makes sense. Some of you are offended that I said They learned to live in love. One thing we do know about God is that before we knew evil, They did. So at some point They chose. Now we are learning to choose. It’s not easy. It’s painful to look at yourself and admit that you fail, or that your good intentions cause pain. But people get divorced because they don’t look at themselves. They are afraid to.

So it is very good news that we can choose and change. That admitting fault is not fatal, and failure is not final. Forgiveness is God’s state of being, and They give it to us for asking for other people. It isn’t natural to us but it is to Them and They love to share. Love will be the norm again. It will even be the only attitude we have. Our sorry state of being will be renovated. Thank God!

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Is a Soft Heart Worth It?

I hate to admit how easy it is to lose a soft heart. They can harden so quickly! Just by neglect or falling back into routine patterns of life or thinking! You don’t even need to have anything bad happen, or anger stir. All it takes is a critical or negative thought that it isn’t challenged or replaced by a balancing good thought.

This is so disturbing for relationships, it can discourage you. Especially if you don’t know how effective a good choice can be, or how good it feels to have a soft heart towards someone, especially your spouse, or that difficult child. (The one that is so not like you–but in reality is probably most like you and that is why you clash. That is hard to face as well.)

So today I’ve been thinking about how to keep my soft heart. I’m looking for things I can share with you that may be simple but make a huge difference. One is to remember how good it felt to have that softness toward said person (in my case my husband). If you haven’t felt that in a long time, you may have to reach way back.

And if that doesn’t work, allow me to describe it. It’s a feeling of harmony, of receiving and giving support, of no threat, of not needing to protect yourself, or your opinion. It’s feeling loved, valued, heard, SAFE.

It’s GOOD, and it is worth it.

Last night I was getting irritated because he was so blah from not taking care of himself (blood sugar, I’m guessing). This has always been a necessary place to stay out of. So instead of twenty questions, which he hates, I decided it was a good night to watch our Netflix movie. He wasn’t sure he even wanted to watch it, but it’s a favorite of mine, so I asked, he agreed, and it saved the evening. (Since I’ve retired, I’m not working as many evenings, and I like it, but it takes some getting used to.)

Today he came in from the store and asked if I wanted to get coffee with our friends, and I was writing. I was torn, and he could see it would take me a while to get ready, so he said, “I’ll just go.” In the past I would have gotten my feelings hurt, and there was a split second of choice, but I realized I wanted to finish this, and I felt very free and respected–that he had honored me.

If I find his shoes in the kitchen or the living room again, I just move them and remind myself that a day could come when I will wish he was here to leave them out. Or I remind myself of the things I forget to do–preplacing the toilet paper–I always forget on the way to the other bathroom!

Gratitude is so helpful. Reminding myself to thank him for getting me the new doormat for my office. I didn’t even ask! And it is so easy to forget to thank him.

I’ve also had a problem with wanting everything my way. It’s much easier to let him have his way or appreciate his taste, than it was, but if I start to feel it again, I say to myself, “Will this really matter 5 years from now?” Or better “…1000 years from now?” Now, I’d rather be happy than fight for my way.

I am so relieved to be rid of the need to fight for everything or over everything! If you know what I’m talking about, it probably goes back to some belief you took on as a child. Something like, if anything is going to happen for me, it will be because I made it happen. Put that with my other one, If I don’t fight I won’t get what I want, and you’ve got a mess. Add, everyone will hurt me, and you are definitely set up for relationship problems.

Don’t forget, all you have to do is own it, want it healed, and ask God to tell you the truth. He is faithful. He wants you to be healed more than you do!

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Happy Beginnings

Yes! I showed it to myself again! Waiting on God does work. It isn’t easy, but it does work! And I am so grateful that They didn’t make me wait more than a month.

Yesterday morning my husband said, “What do you want me to do?”

I didn’t know if he was talking about us, but I was so primed, it just jumped out, “I want you to make a commitment to me to love me.”

I don’t remember all the words that came out after that. But I do remember getting to the same place, he couldn’t see a future for us.

So I asked, “You’re still stuck there? What kind of a future do you think you’d have without me?” And I was surprised at his answer–he hadn’t thought that far. That’s unusual because people mostly jump there when leaving or being left. So we left it again for awhile–hopefully with him thinking.

We had started a house project together–guaranteed to bring up our issues because we are so different, and it did. By afternoon we were in a fight. But it turned out good because everything came pouring out. And we started talking again. Our New Years Eve plans had canceled so we just sat and talked for two hours. Mostly what we didn’t like–but then suddenly, he asked what three things I needed or wanted to be different. (He was an excellent addictions counselor.)

Praying and thinking quickly I told him, and after finally agreeing on three, I asked him what three things he wanted. By the end of that we were agreed to be together again, and had a pretty good idea of what we each needed and what would work.

Oh and by the way I got another lie healed this week, “He’s incapable of a relationship,” had been there a long time–think it started with my father and certainly applied to my ex when he left. And he found one “She’s incapable of loving” that needs healing! Gotta go, he’s waiting for me now.

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Kindness Brings Change

I was thinking I would have nothing good to share about my current state of affairs. In fact, it seemed things were getting worse, until Wednesday morning.

It’s hard to admit, but I think this is one of those times that seems  bad and hard, but God allows because it is so badly needed for my learning. Sort of like overeating two nights in a row, sleeping terribly, waking up groggy and finally making the connection! Now you have a choice!

Or even an unexpected divorce so you can look at your own craziness or pain.
I don’t think it will come to divorce because that morning I was exercising, and saw myself clearly–a kindness from God.

My husband told me he was going to the gym–an unexpected kindness that caught me by surprise because he usually doesn’t tell me when he’s leaving or where he’s going.

I said thank you. And suddenly wondered why I find it difficult to be kind. Something about the way I felt saying thank you while standing on my head? or wondering what I could have said? Maybe it came up because I was thinking about God’s kindness that morning while sitting with Him.

The night before we had watched a movie about a father searching for the bodies of his three sons killed in the Turkish-English war. He finally finds one of them alive, who painfully tells his father he’d had to shoot his two brothers because they were so badly wounded and in such pain (this was in 1915). Then, of course, it switches to the awful flashback so we get to experience it.

So next morning I connected the movie with God’s pain over death. The brother who ended the life of the other two had incredible pain in putting them out of their pain, yet it was the kindest thing he could do. He said “I love you” and shot them.

Here is the parallel: there was no pleasure at all, in fact intense pain, in causing death. And I saw, God takes no pleasure in our pain–none. God hates death and pain and suffering, but sometimes He (or They) say, “I love you” and allow it to happen. (I truly believe God doesn’t kill us and goes to great lengths–our whole history–to show that They are not the designers of death or destruction. That is not to say that the Presence of Pure Love energy wouldn’t make our flimsy unstable atoms disintegrate instantly.)

In the same way, Wednesday morning Ruach (Holy Spirit) showed me my own craziness which turned out to be the belief “kindness is weakness.” Huh? I didn’t even know I believed that! What a dumb belief! Probably a spin-off fear of being taken advantage of–have had huge issues there.

But I have been noticing “Their” kindness to me. Ruach’s love is so sweet, so tender, so kind, so pervasive, I am amazed by it daily.

“God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance.” (Romans 2:5) Repentance is truly seeing yourself and wanting to change–giving Him permission to do it.

I have no idea how Their kindness will happen in me, but after getting Their truth, I know it will happen, and I am excited to see it–my Christmas miracle. Ask for your own miracle! God loves to give you what you need.

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When Love Grows Cold Pt 2

How does a stroke heal a marriage? It completely changed his attitude. Suddenly he needed me! He couldn’t drive or read or write for a month. He was so happy to see me when I came home, he was soft toward me, and was ready to do whatever I suggested! Before that everything had to be his idea.

And he didn’t remember that he wanted a divorce! As he healed he had to make a choice whether or not to go back to his old ways, and God confronted him when I asked. I saw it coming and knew I couldn’t go back to the way we were.

So 16 years later…

We had agreed to take some time to think and talk again. So after a week of no more discussion, I was ready to make something happen, but God said “No, wait for him to start.”

Then it really got hard. One day everything irritated me or made me angry or negative! I was appalled at my feelings, desperately praying for control. I couldn’t understand myself, until there was a small confrontation Saturday night when I asked, “Do you just want to be alone and do your own thing?” to which he reacted, and I went into another room.

Suddenly, I realized that this delay was for my healing, and I knew exactly where these feelings were coming from. I had dealt with it in Family Systems class 30 years ago, and written it in my first book, The Worst Evil–Losing Yourself. My mother loved men, but she was disappointed in her father who didn’t know how to be tender or show affection. Only one time, after he had witnessed a mother die in childbirth, had  he spoken tenderly to her and her sister, “You poor girls.” She admired his strength but hated his weakness.

She got involved with my father and knew he wasn’t strong enough for her. So she tried to break off their engagement, but he threatened suicide. She gave in and married him. However, she never admired him. He had been the favored of nine and deferred to her in everything.  She was good, smart, and strong, and he knew it. He gave her the lead, but she resented it.

Her daughters married strong men with big weaknesses, three divorced and married the same again. Good old family systems theory!

So, of course, my programming has covert hostility, resentment, and distrust of men. (At one point I moved home again, and I came to hate the way she treated my dad, which was interesting because for years I had reflected her, and disdained him for being weak and uninvolved. He died quite suddenly after I’d been home for two years, and I was so thankful for that healing time with him.)

So I knew I would be getting up early for a “come-to-Jesus” meeting the next morning and I was not resistant, but the tiniest bit afraid of what I had to face.

The truth is, it was wonderful. I had looked at all of it before anyway, here and there over the years, aghast at some of my reactions and feelings. It felt good to own it and let it all go in a modified version of HUM (Healing the Unconscious Mind–also in chapter three of the above book.) And afterwards, I felt clean and free. We healed all the generational patterns.

Now I was sure he would open a discussion that could change things. But no. And I was stretched to trust and not take the lead and force the issue!

Finally five days later he is warming a little. I guess the good news will have to wait till next week. Hopefully there will be good news by Christmas!

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When Love Grows Cold

This week I’ve been asked to look at my love again. And it sequels well to last week’s blog. After being across country for three weeks, I came home to a husband who wasn’t sure he wanted our marriage anymore.

I know him after 26 years of marriage, so I wasn’t devastated, but a bit surprised at some of the things he said, like, “There’s nothing to work on.”

“After 26 years? are you crazy?” was my maybe-not-so-loving response. I knew he had fallen into his black hole where everything is dark and fed by CRH and ACTH (the hormones that physically make everything hopeless if we entertain negative thoughts). And he had obviously been entertaining them.

It’s been good, though, we needed some course correction. It’s not resolved yet, but I’m hopeful. I do take him for granted. Not really, because I think about it all the time. But I don’t do much about it. I love being taken care of. This has been one of the best, if not the best, time of my life. However, though it has allowed me to flourish, he is closing in–by choice.

He has always thought he was an extrovert, and has been in positions that required extroversion, but now has come to the truth that he was always forcing it, and wants to be who he truly is. I applaud that. I have an introverted side, but please don’t become a recluse. You can still have fulfilling relationships.

So now I have to look at me. He doesn’t think I will change. Will I? Can I? That does frighten me a little. Do I know how? What does he want? Who is he really? He says I haven’t tried to know. I say he doesn’t share, doesn’t talk. He says I don’t listen or remember. I’m sure it’s both and…

Risking vulnerable loving is scary. Fear of that is, no doubt, how we got together: as my friend used to say, “The rocks in my head fit the holes in his.” It’s one of my favorite definitions of chemistry. And chemistry is the attraction that makes us fall in love. We had tons of that. But we also had the hard road of a blended family, and probably wouldn’t have survived except for his stroke ten years later.

I was ready to leave when God told me to sit tight, I had things to learn. So I did. And a year later he wanted a divorce. He had often said that, but this time he got the papers. I said to God, “I wanted to leave and You said no, and now You’re going to let him leave?”

God said, “Go on vacation, this is going to take a while.” Which I knew meant Don’t worry, and have fun, I’ve got this.

So I did. I didn’t leave, but lots of invitations came to me. It was a good month.

A month later we found out he’d had a stroke. No, God didn’t cause it; He just let him have his way, by eating lots and lots of bacon every morning when I was in class, on our “working” vacation in Cape Cod two months before. And then probably lots of sugar while we weren’t talking for a month. His diabetes caused the stroke. But God is so good He had it happen in just the right place, just the right amount that it turned him and our marriage around.

(to be continued next week)

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A Love Loan

This isn’t a financial loan from someone who loves you. This is for those times when you are running on a deficit, have nothing to give, or like I was last week–sleep-deprived, had two hours, and a busy day with the kids and grandkids coming.

So I curled up in God’s lap and asked Him for a love loan. I had never even thought of it before, but when I’m tired…love can get thin. It turned out to be a really good day.

And that night I slept only 3 hours, before I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep! Good new is, I didn’t panic. I asked again and had a good day, even the evening was good at a wedding party!

Only God can give a love loan like that!

It makes me think of what I missed last weekend with my other grandkids. The middle one–the wild card–got baptized. He’s only 7, but he wanted to get baptized last year when his older brother did. My daughter thought he was too young and told him to wait.

When she told me about it I just said I’d wanted to get baptized at 8, and they made me wait until I was 9. When their pastor  announced they would be having another, she decided to let him.

He’s gotten himself in some crazy situations since he first asked to be baptized, and I’m wondering if she wasn’t thinking better get the Holy Spirit inside to help him out. I was thinking that, but we hadn’t talked about it. Not that God isn’t always trying to help, but if you have given yourself to Him (Them). They take it seriously. You now belong to Them. Some personalities need it earlier in life than others.

When I saw the pictures and thought about it, I thought baptism is kind of a love loan too. We make a choice and then God takes up residence by breathing Their life, Their energy, Their attitudes, Their love inside us–Father, Son, and Spirit. Of course the Spirit is the one doing the work, but we receive from all three of Them. It’s a loan of Their love until we can grow into our own.

Some of us are just naturally more loving than others. Some of us have more loving temperaments–loving comes easier to these people. Some of us had better models–parental modeling is the strongest influence next to God. And some of us were more open to those around us–we received more love from parents and others.

And some of our parents made better choices and we had better environments. However, evil gets to us here, even if we don’t have as much outside of us, we find it’s inside us. So everyone needs a love loan, and God is always happy to help. Their supply is inexhaustible. But it’s never forced on us. We have to ask.

To learn more about God visit my website http://Godhelps.net–especially the God-in-a-Box Blog. It walks you through Jesus life from a cosmic perspective in one year–from Easter to Easter.

http://Godhelps.net

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