Friday, 4 May 2012

The Best Medicine - Laughter

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22
Humor is infectious. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress.

As if these aren’t reasons enough to yuk it up humor can strengthen relationships, help defuse conflict and it promotes bonding.

There are numerous references to humor in Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and even Job.  What do these books of the Bible have in common?  They are four out of the five books of the Bible referred to as the Wisdom Literature, and for the most part written by Solomon who was known for his wisdom.

Obviously we are not talking about humor that is at someone else’s expense.  Usually sarcastic humor should be avoided unless both partners specialize in such wit.  Usually situational humor is the funniest, i.e. when I find my missing keys in the refrigerator.  Learning to laugh at ourselves can almost be a full time job for some of us.  Taking ourselves and our circumstances too seriously can lead to great stress and anxiety.

There are humorous expressions such as “Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don't have film.”  When I do something that would be deemed less than intelligent I’ll say to my wife, “The wheel is still spinning, but clearly the gerbil has left the cage.”  I have another friend, and I use that term advisedly who says to me, “I’d agree with you but then we would both be wrong.”

Occasionally as we are driving along my wife will say, “what are you thinking about?”  Now for a guy this is a dangerous question. There is a very well known comedian who has made big bucks acknowledging that men have a “nothing box” which they frequent often.  So I can either tell my wife that I am in my nothing box or that I was lost in thought which for me could be considered unfamiliar territory.

I have never seen a marriage that wasn’t greatly enhanced by a huge dose of humor.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

When Srtorms Descend - Part II

As mentioned on my previous blog I am sharing my reflections on a chapter from Love & War co-authored by John and Stasi Eldredge.

          Sometimes the craziness in our marriage comes from deep brokenness in us or in our spouse.  But we’re so embarrassed by it we try to hide it as long as we can.  So God uses troubles to flush us out of hiding.

Deep brokenness is always a problem at the heart level.  Not to over simplify the complexity that is involved in my diagnosis but ultimately anger, addictive behaviors, thoughtlessness, etc. are manifestations of making someone or something more important than God.

I’m angry because I’m afraid.  I’m afraid because I am insecure, or I’m afraid my spouse will leave me, or I’m afraid we are in serious financial trouble caused by making poor choices, etc.  In each case the assumption is that what I am afraid of is bigger than God.  My fear has convinced me that there is no way out of this hopeless mess.

God has either brought this mess upon you or at the very least allowed this mess in an effort to get your attention.  He wants you to learn something about Him, about your life and about your relationship with Him.  Romans 8:28 takes on new meaning when you come to the realization that when Scripture says “And we know that in all things God works for the good…” it means exactly what it says.

“But,” you say “you don’t know what we as a couple are going through.”  I would say you are right.  Then I would ask the question that a friend of mine asks “How big is your God?” and before you have a chance to answer he responds, “He’s bigger than that.”  If the God who sustains our life moment by moment, the one who created the universe and parted the Red Sea, doesn’t have the power to help you with your problems then as the apostle Paul said, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”  1 Corinthians 15:18-20   Basically, if God is not who He claims to be in Scripture we Christians are a sorry bunch of  losers, because we have been manipulated, deceived, duped and conned.

Here’s the bottom line.  Like gold is purified through heat, God uses difficult circumstances, tough situations, and disagreeable people as a demonstration of his love, to purify us, to make us more like His Son.  1Peter 5:7 says that we are to cast our anxieties on Him because He cares for us.  He wants to be your rock, your refuge and your comfort. 

Monday, 30 April 2012

When Storms Descend - Part I

John and Stasi Eldredge co-authored Love & War.  One of the chapters is entitled “When Storms Descend”. They write:

 When crisis hits and something shakes us to our foundation, we all start grasping, clutching, and looking for someone to blame or someplace to hold on, like people do when they’re drowning.  Panic overcomes us; we rush to blame or to speculation or to a box of doughnuts.

Before you make another move, you need ask yourself: Why is it hard right now?

 Don’t jump to conclusions.  Don’t start making unexamined agreements.  “We’re going down.  He doesn’t love me.  It’s my fault.  We should have never gotten married.”  Slow down for a second. Your interpretation of what is going on will shape everything that follows – your emotions, your perspective, and your decisions.  If you are mistaken, you will wander way off course and pay a great price.  Take a deep breath.  Put down the gun.  Ask yourself, “Why is it hard?  What is this about?”

Personally I prefer chocolate over doughnuts but I digress.  Self talk is one of the most powerful offensive weapons that can be used by Satan but it can also be one of the strongest deterrents to such an attack.  By repeating to yourself what you know to be true about God and asking God what He is exposing here and what He is after are the first steps to combat Satan’s assault.

 As the Eldredges point out a good place to start is with yourself.  God uses your marriage to forge your character, hence the “what is He after question?”  Is He exposing something about you that you need to consider?  Examine your reactions, emotions and inner thought life as they pertain to the situation(s) that has you so distraught.

(We) live in a world at war.  Spiritual attack must be a category (we) think in, or (we) will misunderstand more than half of what happens in (our) marriage.

 Think of it as gas on the fire.  There may be a real issue between the two of you – unresolved anger, a hidden addiction, misunderstanding, etc.  That is the “fire.”  But it gets blown out of proportion, or it becomes irresolvable because the enemy has leapt on the issue prodding, provoking, and distorting.  That is the “gasoline”.

 Instead of focusing on the fire and the damage that it is doing it is wiser to reach for the fire extinguisher and put out the fire.  Healing can be found if we are willing to consider that underneath what we are seeing on the surface are underlying issues within the heart.  Part II to follow.