Friday, 29 June 2012

Stepping on Toes

The following may sound a little harsh, if so, please don’t be offended and chalk up the comments to my sinful nature.  I realize that I have a bias, a block, a barrier when it comes to accepting how wounds from a person’s past continue to haunt that person some twenty, thirty years and more after the offenses have been committed.  More specifically I am talking about the number of people who come for counseling, who admittedly came from very dysfunctional family backgrounds, who want to “blame their woundedness for their current relational failures.  I told you this would sound harsh.

Now I fully understand that physical abuse is in a category all of its own.  I can’t even begin to imagine what scars that can leave.  But scars must be allowed to heal or the wound will remain infected.

When talking about woundedness, Tim Keller says, There are many reasons we can’t see our own self- centeredness.  A major contributing factor could be our own history of mistreatment from parents, lovers, former spouses, etc.  These experiences can make it difficult to trust others and at the same time filling you with doubts about your own judgment and character. Woundedness is compounded self-doubt and guilt, resentment and disillusionment…thus woundedness makes us self-absorbed…Self-centeredness is a natural condition and not the product of mistreatment.  No major religion in the world actually teaches that self-centeredness is a product of mistreatment.  (The Meaning of Marriage) 

Everyone wants to feel accepted and loved unconditionally.  We all want to be affirmed, encouraged, and supported. Unfortunately those who grew up in homes where there was a deficiency of love look to their spouse to provide what they so desperately wanted while growing up.  First of all that is not the role of a spouse, they are not your father or your mother.  Secondly, they too may have come from a home deficient in some life affirming behaviors.  Lastly most spouses are incapable of providing anywhere near enough love to fill the void left in you, only God can do that.

All too often our woundedness becomes our identity.   I’m not affectionate because I never received any affection growing up.  I’m a perfectionist because my parents only complemented me for my performance.  I crave touch because I never received any growing up.  Etc.  Today many people get married expecting the other person to complete them, make them happy, and allow them to achieve some form of self-actualization.  This is referred to as the “Me Marriage”. It is all about me – my needs, my desires and my expectations.

The basic problem is that the Creator of the institution of marriage said that we are to be other-centered, to reflect the relationship between Christ and His bride the church. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Different Interests?

David Powlison is on staff at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF), a premiere counseling center and part of Westminster seminary.  In a recent video he responded to a question posed by a concerned client.  The basic question went something like “how can my husband and I connect on a level that is meaningful to me?”   More specifically this woman’s husband had a somewhat stress filled job.  When he came home, on went the television and off went his brain.  He needed R & R (rest and relaxation).  She on the other hand was starved for adult conversation and attention.  She wanted to connect with her husband on an emotional level which meant no TV and some quality time to just talk.  She wanted TLC (tender loving care).

Powlison started out by stating the obvious. Most of us are attracted to our partner based on some level of compatibility, not clones mind you, but some common interests.  Once a couple is married they are forced to sort out those differences.  The differences might be due to gender, wiring and/or our past experiences.  Powlison was quick to make the point that we never intuitively revert to a wiring that is abnormal for us.  If one partner is an extrovert, who draws his energy from people and is highly desirous of being with people and his/her partner is an introvert, who is drained by social interactions and strongly prefers one-on-one time they will never naturally opt for doing what the other wants to do.

As part of God’s infinitely wise plan, He brings together two sinners, who are different by nature, saved by grace, and challenged by loving easily or well.

Ephesians 5:27 charges the husband with the responsibility of helping his wife to become holy and blameless, without stain, wrinkle or blemish.  The wife is to submit to her husband as the church (the bride of Christ) is to submit to Christ. This recognizes that the husband is not Christ and that the church, just like the wife is full of stains, wrinkles and blemishes.

We are each to become holy and blameless.  This cuts against the grain of who we are by nature.  The desire for rest and relaxation is a craving of the flesh.  It can be a good thing gone bad.  If the “fruit” is bad the desire is bad.  In other words rest in and of itself is a good thing but when my desire for rest trumps loving my wife it becomes bad.

To resolve such dilemma often calls for developing a practical plan.  By coming together with a desire to love one another and to seek God’s wisdom and mercy in the resolution of our differences we can most often find a compromise which honors both parties and God.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Boundaries for Technology

I recently saw a posting written by Dave Boehi having to do with setting boundaries for mobile devices and I want to share with you  some of the household rules that he and his family have established.

Dave suggests that technology is changing the way we relate to one another.  I would like to suggest that technology is keeping us from relating to one another.  I see couples in a restaurant or young people walking down the street together, each with their smart phone out, texting someone who is not present.  I particularly enjoy getting rammed by a shopping cart by the person behind me who is preoccupied with their phone conversation.

I subscribe that nothing has taken a greater hit by our advancements in technology than our marriages and families.  It is a reasonably well accepted fact that most husbands and wives spend little time talking each week about anything other than the administrative matters pertaining to running the house or handling the children. And since the advent of texting most parents haven’t seen their children’s eyes for months.

Here are Dave’s rules:

1.    No devices at the dinner table.(including having the television on)

2.    No phones at a restaurant.

3.    No texting someone when you’re both at home.

4.    No texting or talking about really important issues over the phone.

5.    Regulate use of devices on vacation.
Some additional thoughts from Dave’s posting:

1.    Anything that becomes a necessity has the ability to become an idol.

2.    If you can’t live without a gadget – throw it away.  If a gadget is absorbing most of your leisure time – throw it away.

3.    When you are with someone that relationship needs to be your priority.

Some experts in the field of communication have quoted the 55/38/7 “rule” that states, “research has shown that people derive only about 7% of the meaning of a communication from the words themselves which the speaker uses (verbalized emotion), about 38% is based on tone of voice, and a whopping 55% from the speaker’s body language.”

If this is even half true we need to take back our relations from those devices that have taken them captive.