Day 28 Love Makes Sacrifices

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I would like to hear from someone who is working The Love Dare while they are actively married or in a committed relationship.  I would like to hear how they feel when they come across all the areas they need to improve on.  I don’t think that the people who have successful marriages would use this book or would be failing in so many areas.  I for one, feel terrible that I have failed so miserably on so many levels.

I received a timely message from someone I respect a great deal.  Their life journey is familiar to me, their hardships, their beliefs and pain.  What I really want to be able to share is their victory.  I am reminded to let go completely, that my best efforts got me where I am.  God wants to carry the load; He is the source of all solution, comfort and love.  It’s hard for me to admit, “It’s over”, period!  I am to clean my house and “get out of the basement” of my dysfunctional thoughts.  This person found “True Love” and is enjoying the life God promises to His followers.  I am very happy for them; it does the heart good to hear of God’s healing and restoration!

We are by nature and maturity level, selfish and self-centered, at least I am.  The less emotionally mature we are the more we are like the kid who doesn’t get his way and let’s everyone know how unhappy he is.  We are the first to think how hard life is, how difficult we have it and usually the last to know when those closest to us are having difficulty.  When my wife complained, I knew something was wrong but I usually categorized it as “her way of seeing things”.  Whatever, how lazy is that?  I wanted her to know when I was having it tough, and when she wouldn’t respond, I’d feel sorry for myself.

Some self-help or support groups caution against being too “other” oriented.  I really think that is impossible, given the basic self-interest that is ingrained in all of us.  The most selfless person ever to walk the earth was Jesus.  His example is to be a model for our life.  We are to sacrifice our life for others, put them first, especially our spouse.  He taught us that the evidence of love is found in seeing a need in others, then doing all we can to satisfy it.

What is amazing is the following statements Jesus made to His disciples, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me”  Matthew 25:35-36  The disciples were confused by these statements and Jesus explained that when you did these thing to the least of these, my brothers, you did them to Me.  Still applies today, The Love Dare uses these examples of needs and applies them to marriage.  See page 137 for the examples.

What amazes me about this whole process is the simplicity of it, but it requires the stripping of our pride and egos and making way for God in our hearts.  It is His love that is put in our hearts for others; it is His grace that gives us the strength to do His will.  His will is to love others as He loves us and to tell them the Good News, that God has made it possible to be right with Him and enjoy eternal life and happiness.  He paid the price; all we have to do is accept what He has provided for us.  It is all God given, God driven, God forgiven, and we just need to get out of our own way to have abundant life!

I have reviewed the notes from my two other times through this book.  What is I see is that I have gained insight into my “stuff”.  I’m embarrassed by my own notes; sometimes, they are filled with pride and false conclusions and plain BS.  I would greatly rejoice, if someday I went through this book and was able to proclaim, “Yes, I’m doing this, yes I did that and yes it is great!”

 

 

 

Day 27 Love Encourages

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Time and time again, The Love Dare book addresses unrealistic expectations.  Do you remember what you expected from your future mate in the beginning of your relationship?  What do you expect now?  The higher our expectations are, the more likely it is that your spouse will fail you and you’ll get frustrated.  “If a wife expects her husband to ….understand all her needs, she will likely live most of her married life in constant disappointment.”  (All quotes are from The Love Dare except where noted)

“Divorce is nearly inevitable when people refuse to allow their spouses to be human. So there needs to be a transition in your thinking.  You must choose to live by encouragement rather than by expectations.  The way your spouse has been for the last ten years is likely what he or she will be in the future apart from your loving encouragement and an intervention from God.  Love puts the focus on personal responsibility and improving yourself rather than on demanding more from others.”

Sounds discouraging, unless I focus on the line where change is possible with loving encouragement and God’s intervention.  If I didn’t believe this I wouldn’t be writing this blog and I would have no hope that my situation will change with my wife.  God’s intervention has saved my life repeatedly and He has presented people to me, who are willing to do His will, who pray and encourage me.  He has brought to mind people for me to reach out to and help me through very difficult times.  I believe in God’s intervention.

I have been very critical.  I rationalized my criticism by saying, “look, I am hard on myself and am examining ways to improve myself, why shouldn’t you do the same?”  Well for one thing it is not my place to tell anyone how they should be, or what they should, or should not do.

“Perhaps you’d respond by saying that the problem is not with you but with them.  If they really do come up short in a lot of areas, why is that your fault?  As far as you’re concerned, it takes both of you doing everything you can to make a marriage work.  If your mate doesn’t want you to be so critical, they need to realize that the issues you bring up are legitimate.  You’re not saying you’re perfect, by any means, but it does seem that you should be able to say what you think. Right?”

“The problem with this kind of attitude is that few people are able to respond to criticism with total objectivity.  When it seems clear that someone is unhappy with you—whether by direct confrontation or the silent treatment—it’s hard not to take their displeasure personally.  Especially in marriage. …. You must realize that marriage is a relationship to be enjoyed and savored along the way.  It’s a unique friendship designed by God Himself where two people live together in flawed imperfection but deal with it by encouraging each other, not discouraging them.”

I know I have one reader out there.  She has encouraged me to continue writing this blog, in fact every time I was going to stop, I’d hear from her saying that she is getting something out of it and to continue.  So here it is Katie, thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

I am glad, yet hesitant to announce that I am finally getting out of that ugly emotional pain I was feeling (for six eternal weeks!), and the dark thoughts that came with them.  I owe this to the goodness of God, AA meetings, my sponsor, my sons from different fathers, my other children, relatives, old friends, new friends, prayer, studying the Word, pastoral counseling, therapeutic counseling and a very good psychiatrist.  It is humbling to have so much to be grateful for, and so good to know I am not alone!

I am still hoping and praying for a breakthrough in my marriage, but if this does not happen I continue to pray for healing and blessings to all concerned.

Day 24 Love vs. Lust

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I like to think about Adam and Eve.  Here we have the perfect man and the perfect woman, made from Gods’ own hands.  No sin, no pain, no hardships and they walked and fellowshipped with God in the cool of the day, in the perfect place!  But this was not good enough for them!

It is said, that Lucifer was actually one of Gods’ most beautiful creations, until pride and wanting Gods’ job got him and his followers kicked out of heaven.  He can disguise himself as an angel of light and it is this beguiling creature that deceived Eve.  She saw the fruit was good, Satan got her heart involved and she acted on her desire for the forbidden fruit.  Adam came along and not wanting to lose his wife, he chose her over God.  To me it is Adams fault that mankind fell from Gods’ grace and sin entered the world.

From the eyes, to the heart, to action is the fulfillment of lust.  Most think of lust as having to do with sex, but it includes things, power and renown.  Being an addictive personality, I have struggled with sexual addiction.  This area of my personality defects is the hardest for me to own up to.  As I have aged, sexual addiction has not been the problem it was as I was growing up.

I am alone now and I look at women and have had occasion to lust, but mostly it is because I am lonely and miss the comfort of being married (see, that is a lie I’ve told myself, I lust because I sin)! My mind, when I am in my more lucid states, quickly dismisses my lusting after another woman.  Like any problem areas, if I drank or used drugs I would multiply my problems tenfold.  My first marriage was dealt a severe blow when I in my drunken mind set, stated I needed another woman.  I pursued another woman and found a woman willing to partake in a relationship with me, knowing I was married.  This makes me a recovering adulterer.

When I discovered pornography on the internet, I spent too much time exploring it.  How much is too much time?  For me, any time at all.  It was disturbing to see a beautiful act objectified and looking not much different than barnyard scenes.  It affected how I viewed women and most damaging, how I viewed my wife.

I have known my wife for 17 plus years.  Part of what enables me to quickly address my lust is my desire for my wife.  I had no idea that I would grow to appreciate what we have shared together more and more, as the years went on.  As an added bonus, when I started looking at the principles in the Love Dare book, that intimacy grew.

This subject matter is very embarrassing for me and I have had great shame over this part of my life.  I know there are men and women who have struggled in this area, and though we have asked and received forgiveness, we continue to live in shame from our past violations in the sex realm.  I witnessed a young woman get up in front of her family, peers, and a room full of strangers and admit to sexual promiscuity and prostitution to pay for drugs.  She grew up in “a good” home of Christians and went to church for much of her life.  She was on the mission field when she started her decline.  When she sang with the choir, she smiled constantly and she seemed so sweet, then she testified of what got her in to the program she is currently in.  That program is Minnesota Teen Challenge

“Lust is in opposition to love, it means to set your heart and passions on something forbidden.  And for a believer it is the first step out of fellowship with the Lord and with others…  Lust always breeds more lust…Lust will make you dissatisfied with your husband or wife.  It breeds anger, numbs hearts, and destroys marriages.  Rather than fullness, it leads to emptiness.”   It’s time to expose lust for what it really is—-a misguided thirst for satisfaction that only God can fulfill….When your eyes and heart are on Him, your actions will lead you to lasting joy, not endless cycles of regret and condemnation.”  From The Love Dare

Today’s Dare instructs us to END IT NOW.  Identify every object of lust in our life and remove it.  And replace it with the sure promises of God and a heart filled with His perfect love.

Although I am separated from my wife, this book has been very helpful exposing the lies I have told myself and I have learned much.  I know I love my wife and I know without a doubt it is her I desire and am lonely for.  I pray for restoration and healing, not just for my marriage but yours also.  If you are not married I pray for your success in relationships and that you would experience all God has in store for you.  If you suffer from addictions, you are not alone there are many people out here to help.