Sex and Intimacy

Love is a Challenge

Is love described as a feeling in the Bible?

I ask this question because more often than not, people opt out of intimate relationships because of reasons such as "I don't like you any more", "our marriage was a mistake" or "I deserve to be happy". 

Few people understand what love is, particularly when it pertains to marriage. Most think of it in terms of romance, desire and pleasant feelings. When the term, "I love you" is spoken, it mostly means "I love me and I want you. Therefore I want to keep you because you make me happy."

If we think about this, it's a selfish way of living.

The love potion that often accompanies new romantic relationships does not last but should mature into a deep and trusting relationship. A relationship where one can trust the other with their deepest fears and desires. There is a level of vulnerability in which hope and hurt are shared and worked through.

Probably the greatest example of love is God giving His only Son due to His deep love for mankind, a love so filled with sacrifice for the sake of others.

This love is not a feeling, but an act of the will. And so should we, determine to keep this great act going.

Alignment and the Bible

The Bible could be compared to a navigation system.

To simply look at a map for a potential road trip doesn't take us anywhere. To own a Bible does not make one a Christian nor does it do anything in one's life.

Nor is the Bible, God. It is however written about the lives and experiences of many people who truly knew God.

Therefore to get anywhere, we should align our lives with the instructions of the Bible. Similar to following the navigation's directions, if we do, we arrive at the desired location.

To obey, sometimes, is going to go against the deepest of our heart's desires and will make no sense at all. Some times we'll see those we love, reject us for our adherence to these principles. Some times it will mean ridicule and we'll want to give up.

If some Scriptures make no sense, this is an opportunity to just trust God. That at some point, understanding will come. 

This is the nature of Christian growth.

Believe in Me

One of my greatest discoveries recently is understanding that my source of affirmation has shifted.

Our desire to be valued is great and one of the ways in which this is maintained is through affirmation.

Our need for affirmation is greater when we feel that we have failed.

We can though make the mistake of trying to get affirmation from a source that is not appropriate. That source may not have the capacity, the capability, the time or understanding. 

Rather than attempting to repeatedly draw affirmation from that from which there is no result, we should look around and realize that God's provision will come from elsewhere.

New seasons bring new meaning and new people into our lives. We cannot change the season or other people. We should not depend upon our own understanding but know that our troubles are all a part of God's master plan.

What Do I Need?

In times of want and need we tend to focus on that particular desire. It becomes our primary focus and occupies our thoughts.

For myself, I found myself reestablishing myself as a single woman, selling and moving homes and finding a new career.

Do I leave my home church or stay? Do I move back to Australia or to a location close to my children?

Such concerns are a normal part of life but the stress of these things can find us pushing God to the periphery.

At such times we can neglect to seek God for help and become obsessed with our dilemma.

What do we do?

I believe that we start with repentance. Do what we usually do when we've neglected some one that we love.

After repentance, let the conversation with God flow.

The more we focus on God, the more access to His unfailing love.

His never ending love is empowering and fuels us as does nothing else. 

I Get It

I understand praying prayers that are not answered in the way we wish.

I understand fixing a marriage but I also understand losing a marriage despite all effort.

I understand life when it starts to unravel and when failure is discovered by others.

I understand telling one's children that their parents can't hold it together.

I know the fear of not knowing what's coming, of making wrong decisions and not knowing what to do.

I understand loneliness and the fear of being alone. Lord, will it always be like this?

But I'm seeing that God is a God of new things. I've made new friends. I have a new career and home and both are wonderful.

I've visited places and seen people for which there was no time in the past.

Dare I say, there's some fun in again being single.

God doesn't just create new things but He can make all things new.

In other words, He's not tossing us out and starting anew with someone else.

He looks at us and dreams of whom we are going to be when we get to the other side of our drama and pain.

 

Starting Over

We grow up in church  and the recommendations are to pray, read your Bible, attend regularly, get involved and to share our faith with others.

We usually struggle and feel guilty regarding our lack of competence in at least one of these areas. And therefore think of ourselves as being a little less than others. We carry a sense of failing God too.

But then great catastrophe can strike us such as relationship or financial disaster. In so many ways we no longer measure up to our former image.

And so we have to start again. It's actually a journey of rediscovery regarding one self. Who is God and what does He desire of me. I'm no longer what I was

The result is that God loved me as I was and loves me even now. I don't have to behave or perform in any certain way.

Hardship is a prime opportunity to move beyond immature ideas into greater faith and character. Some disasters, are a catalyst for learning perseverance, steadiness and hope.

Who among us wouldn't prefer an easier life but through hardship we discover the reality of God.

Where is Happiness in the Tough Times?

 

I am a melancholy personality. I enjoy the thought of sleeping in or going for a walk with my dogs in the sunshine. I love the thought of curling up by the fire and reading a good book with a lit candle alongside me.

I can be intense as many know. I try to find the reason for the occurrence of things and love having a goal. When life changes drastically, it's difficult to find joy. My sense of justice is upset and emotions rage.

Joy though doesn't have to be put on hold until circumstances change. It can be found in the simplest of things.

It can be having coffee with an understanding friend who doesn't have to deflect the conversation to discuss "the bright side of things." It's taking up an old hobby that was not possible in former times. It's rearranging a room and giving it a fresh look and this does not have to cost money. It's sitting in a coffee shop and while you may be alone, you can be surrounded by the chatter of others. Perhaps joy is watching the sun go down, listening to the wildlife.

Life can be tough and many of us would confess that we are not fans of what we face. We still though need joy.

We need to remember that God is bigger and that life is not just about us.

There is beauty around us at all times and we can be thankful even when things are painful.

 

Am I Now Broken?

There are all types of broken.

We can appear to have it all together but we are still broken.

We may be broken by our own sin.

Perhaps we have been rejected and hurt by another.

It may have been circumstances that broke us or we may be just plain messed up, like every body else.

We all come into the world with the sins of our fathers passed down to us. We are also torn up by original sin.

Thank goodness that we bear the image of God.

As an individual, you may look around and believe that you are the only broken person. This probably means that you are the most authentic.

If another seems unbroken, then they are likely just good at covering up the truth.

Forgiveness: Do I Have To?

 

As we practice the art of forgiveness, it becomes a skill that builds our lives. 

Perhaps one has wronged us and has apologized or perhaps no 'sorry" was offered.

 Perhaps in our estimation, another does not deserve forgiveness. We therefore hang onto our opinion and thoughts of revenge because we think that the offering of forgiveness makes another's wrong okay.

Our action of forgiveness however places healing and judgment into greater and more capable hands. Our retaliation accomplishes nothing to our benefit whereas God's actions are absolute.

To truly carry so much emotional pain and hurt around is exhausting. To continually let it go, though difficult, frees us for betterment.

If we are honest with ourselves, none of us are blameless. We all owe an apology somewhere and to some one at some time.

It's not easy to own our part, but an apology means that we are willing to learn and it frees us in unpredictable ways. It also brings honor to God.

 

Email, Phone or Face to Face?

Most of us know that we live in a world of social media.

People post both their successes and pain on Facebook for all to see. We crave affirmation and value or we ask for prayer. 

We oldies can be overwhelmed by this. We cheer ourselves by knowing that at some time, the young will become old and will face the same dilemma.

Nothing though is more important than face to face communication.

We tell ourselves that we have no time but to say this, is to say that another is unimportant.

Because we live in this world, we fail to develop needed skills. Email and texting allow us an alternative to face to face conversation but these methods can leave a recipient hurt and feeling betrayed.

Sometimes texting and email are convenient. They are a quick message or they may be an update for a business arrangement.

When used however to avoid confrontation or because we fear the words or thoughts of the other, we are using a wrong method.

Communication is a gift that enables us to strengthen relationships, particularly when we have a conversation face to face.

Relationships are the most valuable thing that we have on this earth.

To value a relationship beyond our fears is likely to produce long lasting relationship.

 

Overcoming Shame

Shame can haunt us due to a variety of reasons. Perhaps our family upbringing involved us wearing worn out hand me downs and it was embarrassing. Perhaps our family had few social skills and that was embarrassing.

These things can mean that there are times in later life when we still feel ashamed. 

There is healing in sharing our shame with others. A person who lessens our shame will:

See beyond the shameful circumstance to our inner person,

Understand the humiliation and pain associated with our shame,

Take steps to alleviate the pain and protect us from humiliation,

Be available and be in a position to help cover or replace some of the things that cause shame or the fear of exposure.

This person will love us enough to help you see yourself in a new light.

Shame

Shame dictates the lives of many. Setting goals therefore seem impossible.

Shame speaks to us and says that setting a goal will only show our deficiency. We will fail again. Therefore to not try seems a safer option.

In shame, we tend to hide ourselves away and rarely are we honest with others. We fear others' rejection and the exposure of our inadequacies.

We can set goals in one area of life but neglect to do so in another where shame is present. We can regularly set goals regarding a career but avoid goal setting for our damaged marriage. One area of our life is rewarding and so we focus upon that but we avoid the other incessantly. We fear failure and so turn our attention elsewhere.

Shame envelopes us for various reasons whether it has been birthed out of hurt, neglect, abuse or past failure. There are many reasons but none have to prevent us from going forward.

No matter the reasons for shame, non investment of effort in this area is not a solution. The very first goal is to admit the presence of shame. And therefore question its place in one's life.

To ignore the presence of shame in our lives is a sad occurrence as it stands as the road block to a more fulfilling life. It robs others of truly knowing us and sharing in the benefits of our talents.

Shame should not be embraced as a part of who we are but rather exposed as the lie that it is.

Truth or Compromise

Trusting God can be difficult. In a world of good and bad, it's a struggle to believe that God has good for us.

We should, despite problems, cling to the thought. God is the source of our freedom.

The closer that we live to Him, the freer we will be. Healing is in intimacy with God.

In this place we see life from a new perspective.

To lay down the past brings freedom.

There are days when our minds attempt to be free from the confines of God.  Thoughts race through our minds that lead us further from true freedom. Reasons to break relationships, justification for our actions, overspending, the list goes on.

We should remember though, that God has called and equipped us to live a life of the supernatural rather than the natural.

Quick solutions rarely work. They are a temporary cover for deeper wounds.

God makes us free through His truth and not our compromise. When we keep focus on God, we see truth and have more confidence and clarity regarding our life. (John 8:32)

All About Secrets

Most of us have had a secret at some time in life, whether it concerns oneself or another person.

Secrets can be fun but can also be detrimental.

Secrets carried into adulthood can consume, cripple and destroy. Often I talk to those whom have carried a secret for years. In adulthood, it becomes an unbearable sorrow.

We fool ourselves that we are unlovable due to our secret and therefore could only be rejected and beyond forgiveness.

Why is this so? When we keep secrets to ourselves, we are the only one who is processing the event. Therefore we imagine and fantasize about potential outcomes, that often are negative. Our negative thought patterns then lead to fear. Fear is a false imagination for our future. We picture rejection, ridicule and false endings. These become our truth. We therefore continue to resist sharing our secret and shut a part of our life away from others.

The sharing of our thoughts and secrets with another, bring another perspective and often a perspective that we have not considered. God is not a God of fear or doom but of grace and a future. Rarely is our secret so shocking that it is beyond forgiveness and redemption.

A life shared with others is humbling but safe. A life shared with others dissolves our fears and keeps us connected to the God of life. (1 John 1;7)

You're a Good Person But...

You're a good person but...."

Many people have been on the receiving end of such a statement. 

How does one feel when hearing such words, particularly in the breakdown of a long term relationship.

The one speaking these words may be attempting to soften a blow but the words are mostly spoken out of guilt, particularly if a marriage covenant is being broken.

On the receiving end, there are often feelings of bewilderment and inadequacy. One is good but not good enough. What is good enough? If I try a little harder would that make a difference in the relationship?

And then sadness and hurt can turn to anger. Who has permission to set such a standard?

Even God does not hold such standards over our heads. And so we should let such accusatory statements go so that they no longer wound our hearts and minds.

God's grace is always sufficient and never ends.

Who's in the Driver's Seat?

So often we hear that it is communication that determines the future of a marriage. I don't think that this is true. Other skills are needed.

For a marriage to survive, the sharing of power is important. 

Some find this hard for various reasons whether it is a lack of trust or a threat to one's ego.

As married couples, as in any relationship, we should take other's opinions and feelings into account. We should allow their thoughts to influence ours, particularly in a marriage. When we neglect to validate others, their sense of value is minimized.

These thoughts do not mean that one gives up the driver's seat but rather that each person is validated in the relationship. We also learn and achieve more as we are willing to share the power and our lives.

To be Good Enough

Many of us have a works mentality regarding God's love. Perhaps we could consider it more of an obedience mentality.

Some times this comes out of our past, perhaps from a parent. Typically as parents, we reward our children for their obedience and performance.

Too harsh or demanding authority though can cause us to view God's love as conditional. Obedience becomes our measure of God's acceptance. And then, because we cannot meet these standards, we walk through life feeling hopeless and defeated, believing a little voice in our head - "I am not good enough." We may form unhealthy behaviors to cope with these feelings.

In Romans 12:2, the author informs us differently. With a little effort and support from friends, we can retrain our minds. We can fill our minds with the truth of God's unconditional love. Our beliefs begin to change.

You may have opinions and perceptions of yourself but they are not truth. God's Words are the truth and we need to regularly feed His Words into our heart and mind.

Parent or Partner? (Intimacy)

After having children, women tend to view themselves as primarily a parent and less as a wife or intimate partner.

Men still though view themselves as a lover or partner.

Maintaining intimacy must be maintained and it takes work.

A partner takes precedence over the children. The greatest gift that a parent can give a child is their great marriage.

Maintaining physical intimacy is a conscious and intentional choice. It rarely "just happens", particularly once children arrive.

Children feel safe in a thriving marriage and to see non-sexual affection is great for them.

God, Is It Ok To Be Angry?

How many times have we suppressed anger because we've been told that it's inappropriate. As a parent we tell a child not to show anger because it's embarrassing or wrong. We then dismiss the situation and send an inadequate message.

In later years, this child can then find it difficult to identify how he truly feels or he demonstrates explosive outbursts.

His honesty is prevented by a fear of rejection. "Niceness" and "suitable behavior" has been prized over honesty. Genuine feelings were punished.

Many have been taught that real Christians don't get angry. King David and the Apostle Paul though, often spoke in ways that revealed deep hurt and anger. God Himself reveals anger.

God knows that we will be angry at times and He can handle it. It's we as believers that are unsure of a response. And so we instruct ourselves and others to hide this legitimate emotion.

In Ephesians 4:25-26, Paul instructs believers to stop lying to each other and be honest about our anger.

When we allow anger to be expressed in an appropriate setting, time and way, we allow honesty, we are encouraging godliness and prevent future problems.

Following Our Father

Being willing to follow God, wherever He leads, can be difficult.

Change is an easy yes when life is not challenging. How many times have we stood in church and mouthed a cheerful yes in the good times? It's very different though when a season is difficult.

We may not know what lies ahead but God does. His greatest blessings may be just around the corner, out of sight. To be a recipient of these blessings, we must walk by faith and not sight.

Walking by faith does not mean that we close our eyes to all of the present problems that we are facing but that we press into the ever-present God within us.

Yes the problems are still a part of life but we daily have a choice as to whether we take hold of the Father's hand that can lift us to a place higher than difficulties. We choose to not focus on the surrounding turmoil and we look for our comforting Father that is within us.

To allow this presents us with a different view.