We’ve all been betrayed and we’ve all betrayed others. I can almost guarantee this is true for all of us, although we only seem to remember the times when we’ve been betrayed. We conveniently “forget” the times we’ve betrayed others, in big and small ways.
Here’s the thing. When we allow our focus to remain on the deeply hurtful things people have done to us, it’s as if we tie a heavy chain around our ankles and toss ourselves into a deep, dark lake. We slowly sink deeper and deeper into murky darkness. We’re starved for life-giving oxygen. We slowly drown in self-pity. We become enveloped by resentment and that resentment becomes a poison to us and everyone around us!
Cut the chains of bitterness and resentment! Come up for air. Drop the “victim” attitude. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:15 to “see to it that no bitter root grows up among you to cause trouble and defile many”. Your choice to embrace and coddle your bitterness will surely be the death of your joy and the joy of those around you.
How can you get rid of this super destructive attitude of resentment? Here are some insights. Stop hitting the replay button on past hurts! Choose this day to be thankful for what you do have. Make a choice to have compassion on your offender, realizing that you’re not perfect either! If the resentment stems from current behavior, then seek godly counsel on establishing boundaries in that relationship. Finally, ask God to redeem your painful experience in some kind of way. He loves to do that! Romans 8:28 promises us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose.”
I will always remember the time I was talking with a wife who has endured physical abuse from her husband for years. It began so slowly that she didn’t actually realize she was the victim of domestic violence until her injuries had become pretty serious. I was reminded that wives, especially Christian wives, need to be alerted to what constitutes physical abuse.
These things are definitely physical abuse: Punching, slapping, shoving aggressively, kicking, trapping physically (as against a wall), twisting arm painfully, throwing objects at you aggressively, biting, pulling your hair painfully, a pattern of refusing to allow you to sleep, regularly requiring you to work until exhaustion or while sick, tying you up against your will, forcing you to perform sex acts against your will, forcing himself on you sexually against your will, forcing you to use alcohol or drugs, denying you medical care.
If your husband or boyfriend is currently doing any of those above things, call 911 and seek immediate protection at your local domestic violence shelter. If these behaviors are not currently occurring but have occurred fairly recently, you still need help. I strongly urge you to call your local, confidential domestic violence hotline. It’s time for Christian wives to stand up against abuse! The Bible makes it clear that husbands are to treat their wives kindly. 1 Peter 3:7 instructs husbands to be considerate of their wives and to treat them with honor as the weaker vessel. Furthermore, Ephesians 5:11 says “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them”. So, don’t cover up your husband’s or boyfriend’s abuse. He is not your enemy, but he needs to be stopped, both for his own good and for your welfare.
Unforgiveness. It kills relationships every time. It’s so sad to watch relationships splinter and die because of an unwillingness to forgive, and what’s even more heartbreaking is to see followers of Christ practice unforgiveness! God tells us in His Word over and over again that we must forgive others, especially if they have repented (meaning that they have apologized and have turned away from that particular sin).
Forgiving others who have sinned against us is a major theme of the New Testament, and God doesn’t just make forgiveness a “suggestion”. It’s a command! Here are some examples:
Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
I think one of the reasons God is so adamant that we forgive others is because he knows it destroys relationships. However, another big reason he commands forgiveness is because unforgiveness is really rooted in pride and self-righteousness, and God hates those two things! Proverbs 16:5 “The LORD detests all the proud of heart.”
Maybe it’s time for all of us to check our heart toward others who have offended us or sinned against us. Are we acting like we are way better than that other person? Are we refusing to accept their apology because they “don’t deserve our forgiveness”? Are we unintentionally aligning with Satan’s plan to destroy relationships by harboring pride and unforgiveness in our hearts? Just something to ponder with the help of the Holy Spirit.
When you think of the curses placed on Adam and Eve after they ate the forbidden apple, you probably think of Adam having to toil to bring food to the table and you likely think of Eve having to endure pain in childbirth. However, there is another curse placed on Eve that may have escaped your notice. It’s found in Genesis 3:16 where God says “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you“. That word “desire” in the original Hebrew means “to run to, to stretch out after, to have a vehement desire for”. Oh my. This explains a lot!
Almost all women struggle with almost an insane, overwhelming desire to secure a man. And this starts early! In fact, over the years, as I’ve observed my granddaughters at toddler age, they have tended to gravitate to their grandpas, dads, and boy cousins. Hmmm.
My point is this. If we recognize this curse, we will be more able to deal with it. The curse may explain why it’s so difficult for most women to establish and enforce boundaries with their husbands when their men are sinning against them by using pornography, drinking excessively, gambling large sums of money, spending time with other women, etc. If we do indeed have a deep instinctive desire (curse) to desperately hang onto our guy, we believe we can’t do anything to threaten our grip! This explains a lot, doesn’t it? Knowledge is the beginning of understanding. Ask Jesus to give you clarity about how your thoughts and actions are being affected by the curse. Then ask Him to give you courage and strength to make wise decisions. Tip: When you stop making a man the most important thing in your life and make Jesus your main relationship, then you will have the courage and confidence to set wise boundaries in your marriage (or dating relationships)!
I don’t know about you, but I am often reactionary in my relationships. I get upset or frustrated or worried, and I react emotionally. Sometimes, this doesn’t cause any damage, but other times, it’s not exactly helpful or beneficial!
I’m trying to operate under a new and improved system, and I’m finding it works far better, probably because it’s God’s plan for his people. Hah! I’m earnestly seeking to submit myself to God moment by moment and I’m asking his Holy Spirit to nudge me and instruct me during every single interaction with others. In other words, I’m inclining my heart and spirit to listen intently for the gentle whispers and nudges of the Holy Spirit every time I interact with family members, neighbors, friends, coworkers, church members, and even the grocery store clerk and the UPS delivery guy!
God designed us to operate this way. Psalm 123:2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God. This is such an inspiring word picture! We are designed to be so watchful and intent to notice the Lord’s slightest instruction to us that we immediately obey.
Let’s commit to seeking the Lord’s guidance through his Holy Spirit, moment by moment, especially in marriage and family relationships. This will likely be life-changing, and in a good way! God alone knows how to improve every relationship, how to truly help others, and how to advance his kingdom here on earth. We need his guidance.
For over a dozen years, I tended to constantly pick at a dysfunctional relationship in my life. It drove me a little crazy that I was estranged from some relatives. I kept on feeling like I needed to “fix it”. This went on for so many years! And I think Satan had my number on this. Just when I thought I had sorted through my responsibility in the situation and had come to the conclusion that I had done everything I should, Satan whispered into my ear once again “this is your fault”…”you aren’t handling this correctly as a Christian”…blah, blah, blah. And the cycle repeated itself every few months…for years!
I was feeling that way again a couple of years ago, and I rehashed that fractured relationship once again with my husband. Bless his heart! I’m so thankful that he was actually be patient with me as I talked through that situation over and over again every few months. Anyway, he quickly reminded me that I had done everything I could. He helped me to see the situation objectively. Where I was consumed with emotions and doubt, he could see more clearly and objectively. As Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
Sometimes, you and I really do need our husband’s counsel. Often, they are less emotional than we are. Many times, they can see the situation much more objectively and correctly assess how it should be handled. Plus, our husbands love it when we come to them for advice, because it signifies that we actually respect their opinion. Is it time to seek your husband’s counsel on a situation in your life? Two are often better than one!
I have seen so many women wither and die emotionally in their marriages because their husband is engaged in disrespectful or sinful behavior and the wife gives up too easily in terms of confrontation. (I should know because I was one of those women in my first marriage!) So why would a wife give up? I believe it boils down to one main fear.
The wife fears that if she continues to confront the issue, or heaven forbid, draws a serious boundary, her husband may decide to leave her…and in her mind, she will lose what’s supposed to make her happy and secure. But this is faulty thinking! Your husband is not a reliable source of happiness. God is the only one we can depend on for unconditional love, compassion, and security. If your husband were to leave after you draw a line in the sand, I believe God is big enough to take care of you financially. I know He is. Do you trust Him? Do you believe what He says in Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”?
Trust in the One who will never leave your side. Trust in the One who can provide innovative ways to take care of your financial needs. Trust in the One who can bring supportive people into your life to stand by you as you draw boundaries. That One is Jesus.
I get asked quite often about boundaries in relationships. The subject of boundaries is a topic tossed around a lot, and women sort of instinctively know they need boundaries in relationships, but they don’t exactly know the how, what, when and whys of healthy boundaries!
First let me explain that there is a difference between asking your boyfriend or husband to change and setting a boundary. A boundary is not a request for the other person to change. A boundary is deciding what YOU will do to protect yourself physically, emotionally or mentally from the other person’s harmful or destructive behavior. A boundary basically says to that other person, “I can’t control your choices, but there are some things I CAN do to control how your choices affect me”.
Let me give some examples:
A husband refuses to stop looking at pornography and that choice wounds his wife’s heart. She makes a request for him to stop (and most likely to seek serious help for that addiction), but she can’t MAKE him stop. So, she establishes a boundary. She tells him if she continues to catch him looking at porn, she will move to a separate bedroom or even separate from him entirely until he gets serious help for his problem. That’s setting a boundary.
A husband is emotionally abusive and that wounds his wife. She makes a request for him to stop, but she can’t MAKE him stop. So, she establishes a boundary. She tells him if he screams obscenities at her or degrades her even one more time, she will immediately leave the room (or the house) because she won’t tolerate that kind of behavior. If the emotional abuse continues, she might set an even larger boundary and tell him she will need to separate until he seeks serious help. That’s setting a boundary.
By the way, boundaries are Biblical. Here’s an example from Titus 3:10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. And 1 Corinthians 5:11 I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, you can expect that God is constantly transforming you to be more like his son Jesus. His Holy Spirit is gently but consistently convicting us of both known sins and subtle sin patterns in our lives, and he’s urging us to turn from those patterns. He’s urging us to choose to be more Christ-like. 2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory For me, he’s been slowly and gently convicting me and transforming me in the area of subtle self-focus. And I know I’m not alone in this pattern!!
We ALL tend to be subtly self-centered in our relationships. We want and expect others to make us happy, do things our way, commend our wonderful deeds, make us feel valuable, always treat us fairly, make us feel loved, and on and on. However, as we become more mature Christ-followers, God is urging us to be Christ-like in our relationships. He’s asking us to do what’s best for others instead of focusing on how others should treat us better! Take a moment to really absorb what God is saying to us in Philippians 2:3-7 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…
What does this look like in your relationships? How is God asking you to course-correct? It might mean actually confronting a loved one caught in sin and discontinuing a conflict-avoider pattern where you’ve made it easy for that person to stay stuck in a destructive sin. It may mean choosing to reflect Christ around your rude boss by being kind and humble no matter how he treats you. It may mean using a respectful tone with your husband even when he has disappointed you.
Reflecting Christ in every relationship is challenging for sure, but the eternal rewards are worth it, AND, you may very well find when you get to heaven one day that your Christ-like interactions with others impacted people so much that they became true followers of Jesus as well!
Can a Christian woman be too helpful? Can she be too nice? I believe the answer is yes. When we are so “nice” that we enable our husband or adult children to act irresponsibly or to stay immature, we are being too nice. And many of us fit this description. We are too helpful. We are codependent. We train our loved ones to be dependent on us, instead of God. We train them to rely on us to do things for them that they should really do themselves as responsible adults. Often, we also train them to expect us to bail them out of the natural consequences of their foolish or sinful decisions.
Why are many women codependent? We become codependent when we subconsciously depend on others to meet a deep emotional need of our own, such as feeling loved, secure, or important. Instead of looking to the Lord for love, security and significance, we exhaust ourselves trying to get people to meet those needs. Then, because we pin all our hopes on these people, we MUST cater to them in order to keep them in the relationship with us. We fear that our “source” of love and security will leave us or withdraw their love if we don’t cater to them. We start walking on eggshells. We bend over backwards to keep them happy because we fear losing them. However, the Bible says in Proverbs 29:25 “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”
Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be loving and kind. Of course, we should. However, we go too far when our “kindness” enables immature and irresponsible and even sinful behavior in others. We go too far when we try to spare our loved ones from consequences and when we carry their responsibilities. We go too far when we become neurotic people-pleasers in the relationship just so the other person is more likely to make us feel better about ourselves!
Here are 2 questions you can ask yourself today:
1) Are my actions preventing my husband or children from becoming mature and responsible?
2) Am I expecting my husband or child to meet my deepest emotional needs or am I seeking a deeper relationship with the Lord to meet those needs?