Funday Friday: Cold Air Humor

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Here’s a little humor about the cold weather and its benefits for your Funday Friday:

Helping Older Adolescents Evaluate a Love Relationship

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Helping Older Adolescents Evaluate a Love Relationship

By Carl E. Pickhardt

(For the full article go to Psychology Today)

Actual love relationships become more frequent in older adolescence, during the high school and college age years.

Before that, “love” is more frequently confused with crushes. These are idealized projections on another person that result in a romantic attraction, mostly of the fantasy kind, which is why most crushes fail the test of reality and do not last.

It’s when loving feelings for and from another person motivate the desire to continue and deepen this attachment that it can become increasingly challenging and confusing to navigate.

The more caring the relationship grows, the more complicated to manage it becomes. Intimacy is demanding that way. And because love is such a dominant emotion, it is easy to lose perspective on what is happening  and to lose judgment about what to do.

It is when a young person is feeling frustrated, uncertain, confused, injured, or ambivalent in her or his attachment that parents of the empathetic and non-judgmental kind can be of supportive use. They can give the young person some frameworks for considering the nature and conduct of a healthy and loving relationship to help inform understanding and to guide decision-making.

To that end, what follows are several aspects of such relationships to which parents might want to speak: Treatment, Sharing, and Mutuality.

 

If you would like help with your older adolescent, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk to a coach or counselor.

Is My Spouse Good or Evil?

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Is My Spouse Good or Evil?

By Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Q: I have heard you refer to “good will” a lot. What does that really mean and how do I know if my spouse has good will or evil will toward me?

Dr. E says: Good question! The line between good and evil will can certainly get blurred when couples are spinning on the Crazy Cycle! Let me try to unpack this in less than 1,000 words.

Good intentions, poor delivery.

A simple definition of good will is “the intention to do good toward the other person.”

But there is much more to it than that. A spouse may intend to do good, but fail to deliver. Good intentions do not necessarily guarantee good results.

The apostle Paul captured the reality of good intentions but poor follow-through when he wrote about his own struggles with the flesh in Romans 7:19: “I don’t do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don’t want to do.”

We all know what Paul is talking about. You or your spouse may want to do the right thing, but you don’t; or you or your spouse may want to stop doing the wrong things, but you don’t.

Most of us don’t plot evil.

When your spouse fails to follow through on good intentions, your definition of good will must also include the idea that good willed people do not mean any harm; they do not intend real evil toward one another. Few of us get up in the morning plotting how we can hurt our spouse.

Your spouse may be neglectful, forgetful, or make a careless, even thoughtless remark. As a result, you may be hurt or angry and may lash out in some way to retaliate.

But despite all these failings, deep down you both care for each other. Beneath the turmoil on the surface of what is going on, your goodwill remains intact.

Some people choose the dark side.

But doesn’t Scripture also teach that “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked”? And aren’t some spouses truly evil-willed?

Even more to the point, Scripture clearly attests that we live in a fallen world in which some people choose the dark side. David describes the wicked person like this: “Even as he lies in bed he makes evil plans. He commits himself to a sinful way of life. He never says no to what is wrong.”

Evil can destroy a marriage.

Scripture also points to how evil can destroy a marriage. A husband can love his mate, but deep within her soul she turns her heart against what is good. She becomes an adulterous, wayward wife with seductive words “who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God” (Proverbs 2:16-17).

And in Malachi 2:13-14, the prophet tells wayward men that God no longer honors their offerings and instead is “acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth” because he has broken the marriage covenant.

I get a lot of mail from spouses who have been the victims of evil treatment by their partners. These partners made a decision to no longer act in good will.

As you read these lines, you may be a victim of your spouse’s evil will. I do not know your situation, so I have no way of knowing if you are totally accurate in your assessment and if your spouse does indeed have an evil will toward you.

What I do know, however, is that it is a serious thing to make the severe judgment that someone is completely evil willed.

A Severe Judgment

We must never label a Peter as a Judas, even though on a certain occasion Peter did act like Judas.

Judas betrayed Jesus into the hands of His enemies. Since that fateful act, Judas has been seen as one of most sinister traitors in all history.

But Peter was also a traitor, denying his Lord three times, just as Jesus said he would. Everyone knows, however, there is a 180 degree difference between the spirit of Peter and the spirit of Judas. Full of remorse, but not repentance, Judas committed suicide. Peter matched his remorse with repentance and was restored in fellowship with his Lord and went on to serve Him.

To repeat, when a spouse fails to do good and does bad, this does not automatically mean a spouse lacks good will. When a spouse gets mean or nasty it is easy to label them evil willed. Granted, you may not use the term “evil will” but at the moment you are certainly not experiencing good will and your natural inclination is to react unlovingly or disrespectfully.

Distinguish good character from evil.

But if you are trying to live out Love and Respect, your spouse’s temporary feistiness, nastiness, or selfishness must be distinguished from evil character.

Why do I caution people to withhold judgment of another as evil willed?

Once you profile another as evil willed, there is little hope of reconciliation. Once impugning the motives of another, intimacy with that person will disappear. You will no longer be allies, but enemies. For all practical purposes the relationship is over.

However, this is not to minimize evil! I am not seeking to call evil good, but as in all things, we must be careful to look at the facts and not rush to judgment.

 

If you would like help in your relationship or marriage, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

My Response is My Responsibility

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My Response is My Responsibility

By Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

There is a story that has been told of a Christian Frenchman during World War II who had been harboring Jews before the Nazis eventually captured him. German soldiers brought him before an S.S. officer known as “The Torturer.”

At that moment, the peace of Christ came upon this Frenchman who manifested on his face the serenity of the Lord. However, the S.S. officer interpreted that tranquility as a snide look and screamed, “Get that smirk off your face. Don’t you know who I am?” The Frenchman said, “Yes sir, I know who you are. You are known as ‘The Torturer.’ I know you have the power to torture me. You have the power to kill me. But sir, you do not have the power to get me to hate you.”

Inner Freedom

This Frenchman reveals a weighty truth: other people cannot control my inner world.

Yes, they can physically torture me and kill me, so in that sense they can control me physically; however, they cannot dictate what I think, believe, and feel. I am free within. They cannot control my spirit. They cannot control me spiritually.

I possess a God-given right to rule my own inner responses. No one can make me hate them. No one can force me to have contempt for them. That’s my choice for myself. They cannot make that decision for me.

The Nazi did not have the right to rule over the Frenchman’s inner world. In the spiritual realm, the area of the human spirit, even the Gestapo had limitations.

But what brings a person to this place of freedom? How does a person discover their right to rule their inner response?

It begins with subscribing to this axiom: my response is my responsibility.

I am certain that years earlier the Frenchman had accepted the axiom that his response was his responsibility. He did not mope and pout, “My response is your responsibility.” He did not hold others responsible for his reactions. Instead, he discovered how to become free in his spirit even though others failed him and mistreated him.

But Isn’t My Response Other People’s Responsibility?

The Frenchman knew if he believed that others were responsible for his responses, then all of his emotions would be controlled by those around him. In effect, they’d be the master of his emotions. If they were mean and unjust, he’d be unhappy. If they were anything less than good toward him, he’d be unhappy. To give all power to other people to be responsible for his responses meant he was a hopeless and helpless emotional victim around those who were uncaring and mean-spirited. If others failed to love and respect him then he was destined to be miserable.

A woman wrote, “I have been incredibly frustrated in my relationship with my husband and truth be known I blamed most of it on him. Not because I think I am a saint but because I did believe that if he loved me properly then everything would be ‘as it should.’” She made her husband lord of her emotions and happiness.

Of course, when we assign that kind of power to others, we make them our gods. Thus, when we are unhappy we have only one recourse: blame and blaspheme this person who has become our god. Eventually, we are unhappy over how unhappy they have made us! We doubly resent them.

When our response is others’ responsibility, we have no choice but to be depressed since our god did not come through for us.

But Are We Robots Without Feeling?

A doctor can strike a certain place on our knee cap and our leg jerks up involuntarily in what we refer to as a knee-jerk-reaction.

That raises the question on an emotional front: When a man is cut off on the road, is his road rage a knee-jerk-reaction that he cannot control? Should he blame his raging reaction on an involuntary emotional explosion? Can he claim that he can only stand by as a helpless witness to his own madness?

Though there are amoral and involuntary emotions like sadness, grief, confusion, wonderment, amazement, and even anger, we are referring to those emotions that step over the line. For example, our anger is not righteous indignation (a proper form of anger) but unrighteous anger that surges from within us because of a lifetime of choosing to get angry when things don’t go our way.

As an employee, my bitterness permeates the e-mail reply to a demotion from the boss.

As an employer, my harshness pervades the luncheon meeting with a worker who continues to neglect their duties yet draws a paycheck.

As an adult son, my contempt peppers the conversation with my father who refuses to pay for the college tuition.

Each blames the bitterness, harshness, and contempt on the other person. Each believes their reaction is mostly involuntary. The other person caused the anger.

A Profound Truth

Please hear a simple yet profound truth: People do not cause us to be the way we are; they reveal the way we are.

They are not responsible for our responses but reveal our responses.

The Nazi officer did not cause the Frenchman to refrain from hate but revealed the Frenchman’s decision to refrain from hate.

As for the fellow with road rage, the other driver who cut him off did not cause his rage but revealed his rage.

Had it not been the bad driver, it would have been the fast-food server who got his order wrong and overcharged him. Slamming the steering wheel, he would have floored it as he did a screeching U-turn back to the restaurant. And, if it had not been the fast-food place that got his order wrong, it would have been his dog at home who knocked down the gate between the kitchen and living room and who proceeded to chew the wooden leg on the couch. He kicked the dog into the other room.

This man is an accident waiting to happen.

Sadly, in each instance, as an enraged person, he blames the driver, server, and dog. Red in the face, he screams, “I would never blow my stack if drivers drove well, servers served well, and dogs behaved. Life sucks.”

Why this belief? He has chosen to live his life spiritually under the belief system that bad circumstances cause him to be bad. Though he’d never agree that he is a poor little victim, this is exactly what he believes.

He would change the famous nursery rhyme. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. Humpty Dumpty was pushed.

As for the road rage, the truth is the situation simply revealed his character flaw. He possesses a self-righteous mindset and out-of-control anger. This is not righteous indignation but an unrealistic expectation that everyone around him needs to be perfect (like he is) when it comes to doing what is important to him at that moment in time. If they are not perfect in this situation, he goes ballistic in a conniption.

 

If you would like help with your responsibility for your responses, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.

Are You Irritated, Under Pressure, and Feeling the Heat?

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Are You Irritated, Under Pressure, and Feeling the Heat? 

(Excerpt from My Response is My Responsibility – Part 2 by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs)

A woman who watched the Love and Respect conference wrote a blog saying, “No matter what is done or said to you or about you and yours . . . to your face . . . behind your back . . . expected or unexpected—it’s not the person or the words that cause us to react in a negative way . . . the person or the words don’t cause us to be shocked, angry, hurt, bitter, etc. . . . Those are choices we make! The person or the incident does not CAUSE us to act the way we do . . . it REVEALS the way that we are. So ask yourself . . . what is it that will spill out?”

Let me provide an analogy that shows this to be true.

A grain of sand in the human eye first irritates, and if ignored leads to an infection. Were a person never to deal with the infection in the eye, there could be loss of vision. One could go blind. That same grain of sand in an oyster first irritates, then leads to concretion and morphs into a beautiful pearl. This raises the question: Did the speck of sand cause the results in the human eye and cause the results in the oyster? Or did the grain of sand reveal the inner properties of the eye and the inner properties of the oyster? In both instances the grain of sand is an irritant that reveals the inner properties of each. The sand did not cause the outcome, otherwise we would have to be concerned whether a pearl would pop out of our eye the next time sand got in it.

Just like the sand, a large percentage of the people with whom we live, work, and play become irritants. But also like the sand, these irritants simply reveal who we are. They do not cause us to be the way we are.

Similar to the sand analogy is one I like to share about a rose and a skunk. When a rose is crushed under one’s foot, it gives off a sweet aroma. But when the same kind of pressure is applied to a skunk, a much different odor can result. As I like to say, when the pressure is on, do you smell like a rose or a skunk?

Still another analogy. How does the sun melt the butter and harden the clay? Why does the sun not harden the butter and melt the clay? Because the sun is not the cause of the results. The sun reveals the inner properties of the butter and clay.

How do we respond when irritated, under pressure, and feeling the heat? Do we blame others? Do we scream, “I wouldn’t lose perspective, stink at everything I do, and have these meltdowns and become so hardened if you treated me with love and respect! You cause me to have a miserable life. After all, when you love and respect me, I am happy. When you treat me with hostility and contempt, I am unhappy. Therefore, you are to blame”?

Or do we produce an oyster or release a pleasing aroma? When irritated, do we allow the grace of the Holy Spirit inside of us, along with the love, patience, and forgiveness given to us through Jesus, to ooze its way to the top and overflow like an erupting volcano?

My response is my responsibility.

 

If you would like help with your emotions, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.

Funday Friday: Too Soon?

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5 Ways to Support Your Spouse’s Dreams

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5 Ways to Support Your Spouse’s Dreams

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

The Bible says when two marry, they become one flesh (Mark 10:8). Though that reference is often interpreted to be speaking of sex, it is talking about so much more. Marriage is the joining of two lives, of soul and of flesh. It is committing “until death do us part” to each other’s thoughts and dreams, joys and sufferings, hopes and fears. It is a forever support system, and if you commit to staying married, an ever-evolving life.

One of the greatest gifts that God can give us is the opportunity to chase our dreams. If you’re married to a dreamer–and even more so, a doer–you may know full well what it looks like to manage and support the dreams of your spouse. Or perhaps both of you are dreamers and doers. Regardless, there is something special about seeing a couple support each other in their dreams. You may be in this place now, and wondering how to do that yourself.

Here are 5 ways you can support your spouse’s dreams.

1. PRAY

This one should almost go without saying; yet, though we know in our minds the importance of prayer, it is one of the things we ignore in the midst of life. Prayer is an essential lifeline for our marriages. It take the focus off of our striving, wisdom and strength and casts our cares upon the Lord. It can soften our hearts and give us a vision for God’s purpose in our lives.

When it comes to supporting your spouse’s dreams, prayer is essential. It can be difficult in the flesh to get on the same page. Hours may be long. Sacrifices may have to be made. When your spouse has a dream that is being fulfilled, you may not be on the same page or even in full support of their dream. Pray. Pray early and often. It will be the difference maker and will set a solid foundation for the days ahead.

2. SPEAK POSITIVE AND REINFORCING WORDS

If you are familiar with the book “The 5 Love Languages,” you will know that one of the five love languages is words of affirmation. For many, this is their top hit. Simply speaking words that are positive and encouraging can set the tone for a day, week, or even month for your spouse.

This is especially true in vulnerable times, and when you or your spouse are taking big risks to follow your dreams. There is so much power in phrases like, “I believe in you,” “You can do this,” “This is what you were made for,” or, “I love you.” It can be so easy to forget the power of words. Life and death are on the tip of our tongues.

Fight the urge to be negative. Your spouse needs to know you believe in them. What may seem insignificant to you could make a world of difference to them. Not good with verbal expression? Leave notes, write cards, and send texts or emails instead. Unity is a beautiful thing in marriage. Your words matter.

3. ASK HOW YOU CAN HELP

The longer you are married, the more likely your roles are to shift throughout your marriage. There may be times when you take the lead in certain areas, and yet others where you play a more behind-the-scenes role. In a perfect world, you and your spouse will compliment each other in your gifts, as it often happens.

Though some giftings may be more easily noticeable, all are important. Very few significant things have ever been accomplished without the work of a team, and there is no more powerful team than a husband and wife on a mission.

If you find yourself in a behind-the-scenes, supportive role, don’t diminish the importance of your position. Ask your spouse how you can help. It could be by stepping up in an area you haven’t before, or maybe taking specific tasks off of their plate for a period of time. It could be scheduling activities differently. To offer help is to strengthen the team, and that’s ultimately better for your marriage and your family. Two is always better than one!

4. BE WILLING TO SACRIFICE

This one is key. More than likely, you and your spouse both carry different dreams and passions. Your marriage will go through seasons. Depending on the season, your level of sacrifice for your spouse will vary.

One of you may be pursuing the dream of a new business. Perhaps going back to school and earning a degree is something  one (or both) of you dreams of doing. Maybe your are facing relocation to follow a dream. All of these scenarios involve sacrifice. Marriage is a daily dying to your own desires for the betterment of the two of you. It may not always be easy or natural, but make no mistake–it will be required in some form or fashion as you move through marriage.

Being willing to sacrifice for your spouse sets a tone in your marriage that will strengthen you. If it’s your turn to lay down your own desires for a period of time, do so with joy. Sacrificial love is often the difference between a good marriage and a great one.

5. PURSUE YOUR OWN PASSION

It can be easy to completely lose yourself in your spouse. Even during times of major sacrifice, hold fast to the things that make you come alive. It may be a hobby, a craft, or treating yourself to something you enjoy.

You don’t have to completely lose your identity when it is your turn to sacrifice or take on a different role in marriage. Be honest with your spouse when you are feeling unseen. Stay true to your passions, and know that though they may not be given the time you may like, they are allowing room for you to grow as an individual. Don’t be afraid pursue your own passions in the midst of supporting your spouse’s dreams!

Whatever role you find yourself in currently, take a step back and consider what you can do to support your spouse better. Seeing two operate as one in the context of marriage sets a beautiful example in a world where marriages too easily crumble. Remember, everything is for a season. Consider it a joy to support one another. Your marriage will flourish as you see dreams come to pass alongside each other.

5 Lessons Learned in Reclaiming Rest

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5 Lessons Learned in Reclaiming Rest

It has been harder than I expected. In the fall, I announced to our staff and leadership that January would be a dead month. We would plan nothing extracurricular for our church family. No extra meetings, no fellowships, nothing.

We are on the backside of a busy and challenging season within our church. Over the last twelve months our campus has been dismantled and put back together through a building project that expanded and remodeled our sanctuary, added an addition to our children’s building, and overhauled our landscaping and parking area.

Throughout the last year nothing has been normal and everything we have done has been trickier than usual. As a result, we are tired. The staff is tired and our people are tired. We need rest. We don’t need rest only because we feel like it, we need rest because God said so. God built times of mandated rest into the ancient Jewish calendar. In addition to weekly Sabbaths, the feasts provided regular times of rest for people to re-focus their attention on God and his works of salvation.

Making time to rest and re-focus takes work and commitment. Here are some lessons that I’ve learned along this process:

Say no to good things.

Rest requires trust. Trust that the world will go on just fine without us and that God will remain in control. When I decided that we would not have a fellowship luncheon for guests and potential new members in January I did so trusting that God could and would care for those people and that he would help us to minister to their needs.

Make “no” your go to answer.

Yes, this seems negative, but saying no to one thing means saying yes to another. When I said “yes” to rest I could no longer say yes to everything else. Over the past few months when January has been mentioned in meetings or conversations, my responses have begun with no and then an explanation of why the answer had to be no.

Make no exceptions.

When the door gets cracked for that one thing, it will remain cracked for other things. Either rest matters or it doesn’t.

Don’t be a jerk.

Be firm and be committed, but don’t be a jerk. Remember that people who want to plan things in your church have the best intentions. As pastor, you have a responsibility to diagnose the needs of your church that it may not even know exist. If you have diagnosed the need for focused rest, then explain that carefully and often. Stick to your guns, but do not be a jerk.

Model rest before your people.

If rest matters, then make sure your people see rest as a priority in your life. Jesus rested. Sabbath is a command of God in the Old Testament, not for God, but for man. Take time off. Turn your phone off. Don’t be a hypocrite.

It is ironic that resting would be so difficult. Resting is not prized in our society or in our churches. I have had to work hard to carve out time for our church to rest. But if the church is to be a counter-cultural refuge then it must eschew the constant connectedness of culture and occasionally disconnect from busyness to reconnect with the God who created us.

Choosing to Love Day after Day

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If you would you would like help with your choices to love, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Time to Listen

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If you would like someone to listen and care for you, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.