Cornerstone Family Services > Resources > Blog > Christian marriage

Balancing Your Head and Heart: What to Do If You Are a Sympathizer

Share Button

Balancing Your Head and Heart: What to Do If You Are a Sympathizer

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Natural sympathizers tend to find themselves rushing to the aid of their others, whether it is asked for or not. After all, people with sympathetic personalities are more inclined to let their feelings guide them. Their hearts often take precedence over their heads.

However, when it comes to a relationship you need to be sure your sympathy is warranted so you don’t smother your partner. Today, we are discussing ways you can balance your head and your heart, and when it’s best to dive into action.

For the full article, go here.

If you would like help with your relationship or marriage, please contact one of our counselors or life coaches at 614-459-3003.

Hiding Naked: When Sex Replaces Commitment

Share Button

Hiding Naked: When Sex Replaces Commitment

For many, sex has become a hiding place—a behavior that presents the appearance of intimacy, but is really striving for self-protection.

By Ron L. Deal

Stacy’s dating career could be described as “casual.” She would meet a man and throw herself into getting to know him while, in her heart, simultaneously keeping her options open. The rush of meeting someone new and connecting through physical touch made her feel wanted and important, but the idea of being tied down to someone made her nervous. She often found herself caught between hope and doubt, between the accelerator and the brake, between sex and the hope that he would want to leave her apartment afterward. After a while, her relationships would fizzle; she would lose interest because the relationship “just wasn’t going anywhere” or the guy would tire of waiting for her to “make up her mind” about their future.

After being tossed aside by his wife and the mother of their two children, Caleb declared to friends in his divorce recovery group, “Never again will I be hurt like that. Never again will I fall in love.” Bitterness and fear built 20-foot walls of self-protection.

Fast-forward life a few years and, to his surprise, Caleb found himself attracted to someone. He wondered if he could love and trust again. As quickly as hope would say, “Yes, you can,” fear would shift his heart into neutral. Just imagining being vulnerable made his heart tremble. The combination of Caleb’s passion for his new girlfriend and simultaneous fear of being hurt again found expression in a stayover arrangement. A few nights a week he would stay at her apartment, and occasionally she would stay at his, but both kept their separate residences, separate rent responsibilities, and ultimately separate lives.

Stacy and Caleb are in a dilemma: They want to be in an intimate, committed relationship but don’t want to take on the risks of marriage. Their solution? Strive for independent togetherness.

Commitment is a tough sale these days. Americans prize our national and economic independence, but now that mentality has dramatically invaded our social psyche about marriage, and it’s confusing us. We want to be with someone, but don’t want to be really with someone.

For the full article, please go to the original site.

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

5 Ways to Support Your Spouse’s Dreams

Share Button

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.

Dating Your Spouse Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

Share Button

Dating Your Spouse Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

By Drs Les and Leslie Parrott

Many married couples–ourselves included–recommend regular date nights as a way to keep your marriage healthy and strong. Taking intentional time to connect with one another away from kids and other distractions is essential, but we often over-complicate it. Time is often the commodity that we have the most difficulty finding. Once that time is set aside, it’s important to plan how you will spend it.

If you already sense yourself buckling under the pressure of creating the perfect date, remember this: dating your spouse doesn’t have to be hard! Here are 7 tips to take the pressure off of your date nights and give you the freedom to just enjoy one another.

SCHEDULE AHEAD OF TIME

We make time for what is important in life, and if your marriage isn’t healthy, the rest of your world can easily crumble around you. If you don’t carve out time for each other in advance, dates either won’t happen, or they’ll be fewer and farther between. One date every three months isn’t going to cut it.

A natural drifting apart occurs in any relationship whose members don’t connect regularly. With friends, we can allow this to occur for a season, and effortlessly pick up right where we left off. With our marriages, we simply cannot let it happen.

Find a system that works for you and your spouse. You could schedule your dates a month ahead of time, or agree to set aside some time to be together each week. Whatever you decide, make this time a priority–whatever it takes.

BRAINSTORM IDEAS TOGETHER

It can be hard to think of activities or destination ideas under pressure, so relax and put your heads together. Take some time to think of fun and easy date ideas, writing them down as you come up with them. When you’re drained of creative suggestions, lean on your list! This will take the pressure off both of you, and can be especially handy if you’re in a very busy season, like the child-rearing years.

DON’T BE AFRAID OF TRADITION

Not every date has to be an original idea. If you and your spouse have hobbies that you like to do together, or restaurants or traditions that you enjoy, stick to those. Forming traditions can also spark a sense of anticipation around doing something you both truly enjoy. Planning dates is not a competition. It is honoring your marriage by setting aside some sacred time to spend together. If that happens to be at the same restaurant each week, or over the same meal or activity at home, then let it be!

TAKE TURNS PLANNING

When you’re the only one doing all of the planning for date nights, you can quickly become burdened. Taking turns planning with your spouse can alleviate this burden and keep things interesting. You will also have the chance to put some extra thought into what your spouse may like, and vice versa.

BRING TALKING POINTS

This might sound contrived, but it actually works. Conversation may flow easily between you most of the time, but there will be times when it isn’t so easy. It can be difficult to shut off a day’s worth of work and stress when it’s date time. Instead of intentional talk, you can end up filling your time with awkward silence, complaining, or small talk.

A great way to combat this is to bring some talking points or starter questions along to your date night. One simple question could lead to an entire conversation. Or perhaps you have been saving something that you would like to talk or dream about with your spouse during your time alone. Either way, coming prepared with something to talk about can be a way to take the pressure off of your date time.

DO SOMETHING FUN

Some dates should just be spent doing something fun–with no other agenda. Your spouse is your best friend, and that should leave room for you two to just let loose and have some fun! Different dates can serve different purposes. Sometimes, the best medicine is laughter…and not taking yourself too seriously.

STAY AT HOME

It’s not always practical or cost-effective to get out of the house, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create space for the two of you there. Pick out a dinner or activity, order take-out or make dinner, and do date night in. Just remember not to blur those lines too much at home.

You may be more tempted to give into distractions, but honor your time there as you would at any other place. A date night at home is often relaxing, and a time to reconnect with your spouse–and you don’t even have to leave the house!

If you tend to get overwhelmed at the thought of planning and keeping regular dates with your spouse, keep these tips in mind! Dating your spouse doesn’t have to be hard; it just requires commitment and follow-through. Protect the time you’ve set aside to be together, and your marriage will thrive!

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

Marriage Tip: Speak Directly and Kindly

Share Button

Ladies, Speak Directly and Kindly

By Rebecca Evans

ltqqk5i6slw-toa-heftibaAlright, girlfriends.  This one is a tough one.  In my experience as a woman, females often speak to one another rather vaguely.  Sometimes we make what seem like very direct compliments: “Oh, I like your shoes!” Awesome.  Pretty simple. Sometimes we make sideways comments which could be taken a myriad of ways: “Oh, you got a haircut!”  Well, yes, I did, but, like, I can’t tell what you think of it based on your comment.  Do you like it? Is it horrible? Or did you just want to let me know that you noticed but you have no opinion on the change at all?  Confusing. I don’t think I’m alone in this space. 🙂

The men in our lives don’t play this game.  They speak directly.  They say what they mean and mean what they say.  If a man says, “I need new shoes,” he usually means that he has a hole in the sole of his shoe and water is leaking in.  He’ll go buy new shoes.  Many women who say, “I need new shoes,” mean that they need another pair to match the newest styles or to match the new dress.  The word “need” has various meanings for many of us women in this situation.  Not usually the case for men.

Well, Rebecca, how does this play out in marriage and relationships?  I’m glad you asked.

During peace and conflict, it’s possible for us ladies to not even realize that we are making vague comments. I’m a dreamer, for instance.  I’ll make comments about things I’m going to do, like clean out the car.  In real life, I’m just thinking out loud.  I’m just thinking about cleaning out the car.  So, when I don’t get up and do it, The Hunk asks when I’m going to clean out the car and when I shrug it off, he’s confused.  But sometimes, ladies, we aren’t just thinking out loud.  We are speaking as clear as mud.  We’re speaking in circles.  Instead of saying, “The trash is stinky!” try being more direct: “Will you take the trash out on your way to the car, please?”  This will give him clear objectives that he can achieve with no questions asked.

But no matter what, it’s important that we don’t mistake the word “directly” for “rudely.”  It helps a man when we speak to him clearly and directly; it hurts any person when we are unkind. We should temper our words when making requests or sharing concerns with our beauxs.  I mean, if he’s the love of your life, you wouldn’t dare hurt him with your words, right?  So let’s forgo the complaining and rude comment about him neglecting to take out the trash.

Let’s use kindness when we have complaints or requests to share.

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

Some Good News About Marriage

Share Button

church-wedding-marrige

Have you ever heard, “Studies show that just like the overall population, half of all marriages in the church end in divorce”?

If you have heard and believed that “statistic” then you have bought into a myth.
Shaunti Feldhaun (a master of statistics and studies of statistics) beautifully debunks the myth – as well as many other depressing marriage myths – in The Good News About Marriage. 

Ready for some mythbusting?  Here’s the truth that has been lost about marriage and the church from her study of marriage studies:

  • In the infamous 2001 Barna study, it was stated that “professing Christians have the same divorce rate as non-Christians – roughly 33 to 34 percent”; not 50 percent as is so often stated in the myth (p 66).
  • In a 2008 Barna study that looked at both profession of Christian faith and church attendance in the “last seven days, the divorce rate dropped 27 percent compared to those who hadn’t” (p 70).
  •  The massive National Survey of Families and Households study “found that regular [church] attendance (several times a month) had a major impact on reducing divorce rates…[with] an average drop of roughly 50 percent” (p 72).
  • The aforementioned NSFH study did further analysis and “discovered that even after controlling for many other factors, such as income, age, gender, race, ethnicity, education, and geographic region, the matter of church attendance trumped them all.” It found that “church attendance alone dropped the divorce rate 35 percent” by those who attended church several times a month (p 72).

For more good news about marriage or to add some more health to your relationship, contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.

Date Night: 5 Ways to Make it Great

Share Button

date-nature-bench-treeDate Night: 5 Ways to Make it Great

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Dating your spouse is a great way to sustain and nurture the intimacy in your marriage. We highly recommend taking the time to have a regular date night with your husband or wife. Taking time away from your day-to-day life to focus on one another is a fantastic way to stay connected in spite of whatever else is going on in your life.

Today, we’re sharing a few ways you and your spouse can create awesome dates–and great memories along the way.

  1. TIE UP LOOSE ENDS AT HOME

This may sound like a strange way to create an amazing date, but especially if you have children, it’s essential to tie up as many loose ends as you can at home before you leave for your date. Identify any urgent or pressing tasks that need doing or issues that need to be resolved before you leave the house. (We don’t necessarily mean dishes and laundry–those can wait!)

Put in the effort before your date to remove as many potential distractions as possible, and reap the rewards. Your spouse will thank you!

  1. DITCH THE NEGATIVITY

Make it a point to only talk with one another about positive things that spark happiness and romance. No news, politics, complex home issues, relationship problems, or negativity allowed!

Allowing a conversation to take a bad turn, or venturing into negative territory, can easily and quickly kill the mood of your date–and it will be hard to recover from. So it’s your job to work together to keep your special time on track for good feelings and happy memories.  Nurture one another and feed your marriage by focusing only on good things for a little while.

  1. UNPLUG AND CONNECT

Meaningful face-to-face connection is valuable and hard to come by these days. We’re so busy and inundated with technology that it’s easy to get distracted by devices and notifications. Do your best to unplug when you’ve got some intentional one-on-one time together, and concentrate on one another.

Have a good conversation, hold hands, go dancing, play a game–if even just for a little while. Have fun doing things you can’t do with a phone in your hand! Resist the urge to check your email, text messages, or social media, and just be in the moment with your spouse. You can watch those funny cat videos at home later.

  1. REVISIT OLD HAUNTS

There’s no way to tap into that amazing romantic nostalgia quite like revisiting places you used to go–back when you were falling in love, or even when you were newlyweds. If you still live in the same place, you’ll have easy access to those old haunts. And if you’ve moved away, you could plan a weekend getaway to your old stomping grounds.

Reliving happy memories together will inspire and invigorate you. If you’ve been going through a difficult time in your marriage (or just in life), it will help you get back in touch with those feelings you may have been missing due to stress or other factors. Travel back in time together to recapture that spark!

  1. GET CREATIVE

Put your heads together and come up with some unique and adventurous ideas for your date nights. Make a list of experiences you’d love to have together, then share your lists with each other. Decide which ideas you’d like to act on first, and have fun! Creating new experiences and memories will help to increase the intimacy in your marriage.

 

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

It’s Not Always Necessary to Fix It

Share Button

tool-beltUpon hearing a problem – whether situational or emotional – there is an ingrained desire within many people (especially men) to jump into troubleshooting mode. We want to fix it. We want to solve the problem producing the pain.

If you have been in any kind of relationship for very long, you will discover that the loving attempt to “fix it” will often times result in frustration and further pain. A problem is presented, you move to fix the problem, they push back and seem to not like your “fix” or keep on talking about the problem, you feel frustrated because your advice isn’t being heeded, and they get further upset because now you are mad at them on top of their already existing painful problem. Now both parties are in pain after a well-intentioned effort to solve the problem of pain.

Here is where you will find a breakthrough and a solution to the problem of pain: don’t try to fix it.

Please understand that the problem-solving is not the problem. The problem is the timing of the problem-solving attempt.

If you want to demonstrate your love and get the felt benefit of being heard and appreciated, consider putting a pause on the problem-solving drive within you.  Hit the pause button until your loved one tells you they have felt heard and are ready to hear your “fix it” plan. When the one you care about tells you about their pain, they are looking for an partner to come alongside of them in the midst of their struggles. They are longing for someone who is fighting the proverbial dragon with them rather than someone who is abandoning them to fight the dragon alone while shouting “helpful advice” from a distance.

If you want to demonstrate your love and feel heard yourself, try this approach:

Listen without interruption. Reflect back with empathy what you have heard (without adding in advice or what you would do or feel). Listen some more. Empathize some more. Repeat until the one you love specifically asks for your insight on how to “fix it.” If it seems like they are not going to ask for your advice, ask them if they would like for you to come alongside of them and troubleshoot the problem or if they simply need you to listen.

Sometimes the best way to “fix it” is to not try to “fix it” but to listen with empathy.

Recently featured in the Rejoicing Rebecca newsletter as Relationship Commandment #8.

 

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

6 Tips for Supporting Your Spouse’s Job Search

Share Button

search-job

6 Tips for Supporting Your Spouse’s Job Search

By Drs Les and Leslie Parrott

A change in jobs can be a really stressful time for a couple. Not only are finances in consideration, but the fear of the unknown can take an emotional toll as well. Whether your spouse is looking for a new job because they’re searching for the career they’ve always dreamed about, or they’re hunting for the next thing because they were recently laid off, or they’re having a hard time deciding between the agency or inhouse account director job position, what ever it is your strength as a partnership will be put to the test.

HERE ARE 6 REMINDERS FOR SUPPORTING YOUR SPOUSE DURING THEIR JOB SEARCH:

  1. Remind them of their gifts, passions, and talents.

It’s easy to get quickly discouraged or overwhelmed with the job search process. Continue to remind your spouse of what they’re good at–what gets them fired up, what areas they are truly gifted in, what parts of their job they have liked most in the past. Be a source of encouragement while your spouse fills out applications and sets up meetings.

  1. Help with the hunting.

Search online, talk to people who may know of openings, and share with friends to keep their ears open for opportunities. Make sure you’re communicating with your spouse as you reach out to help. Consider yourself a support system for your spouse and not the sole leader of the search party.

  1. Suggest making a pro and con list.

Often times multiple job opportunities may come your way. Suggest that your spouse make a pro and con list–even sit down and help them. Write out all the reasons the job would be a great fit and all the reasons it wouldn’t. This process will allow you both to step back and look at the big picture as you make this big decision together.

  1. Remember that you process differently.

It will be easy to get frustrated with the way your spouse is going about the job search if you don’t understand how your spouse processes. Remember that you two are different and may process decisions in different ways. One of you may be a verbal processor. The other may need time alone to think and reflect. Allow your spouse the space (or listening ear) they need to work through the logistics and emotions of a job search.

  1. Consider yourself a team.

Be a cheerleader for your spouse. The biggest thing you can do is remind him or her of how much they’re loved, regardless of what they achieve. Their job will affect you and your family, but don’t put mental or emotional pressure on your spouse as they search–most likely they’re already experiencing pressure without it being spoken. Be their biggest advocate and source of support…no matter how long it takes.

  1. Pray together.

Approach each part of the job search process in prayer. Pray together and pray while your spouse is away at an interview. Ask God for wisdom and discernment as you search for the next right thing and trust that He will provide. Remember that whatever we do is for His glory, and remind your spouse that God has it all under control with the search gets long and hard.

Conflict is an Opportunity

Share Button

conflict-storm

Conflict is an Opportunity

By Erik Raymond

Most people don’t enjoy conflict. We tend to avoid it if we can. I suppose there is something healthy about this fact. We certainly don’t want to enjoy conflict.

However, there is something that is lost, particularly for Christians, when we avoid biblically handling necessary conflict. We could rightly say that in this case there is an unhealthy avoidance of conflict.

CONFLICT IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DENY INSTEAD OF COMFORT OURSELVES.

Let’s think about the basis of our fellowship and relationship with other Christians. We are united—before anything else—by and through Jesus Christ. The way that we come to share in fellowship together is by individually sharing in the fellowship with Christ. So whether we are talking about a marriage, other family dynamics, or other friendships within the church, the primary basis for our relationship is the gospel. And let’s not forget that the way in which we come to enjoy the benefits of the gospel is to admit that we are sinners who have come to realize our sin and our need for a Savior.

With this level of transparency why do we then proceed to live in such a way that we avoid conflict? Husbands and wives avoid necessary conversations because it makes them uncomfortable. Friends at church insist on not dealing with patterns of sin because it makes them uncomfortable. Do you see the painful irony here? The primary basis of our relationship is the fact that we admit that we are sinners and need a Savior, so then why do we live in such a way that says that we are neither sinners nor in need of a Savior? This type of living, even just a sliver of it, can make a marriage or a church unhealthy, because it mutes the gospel and masks pride. Jesus calls us to a life of self-denial not self-comfort.

CONFLICT IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO TURN UP THE GOSPEL VOLUME.

I have sat across the table from people who seem like godly men and women. In the course of our discussion it became clear that they had an issue with one or more people. In effort to try to get it worked out I remember appealing to them that whatever the issue was I can assure them that we have a gospel that is big enough to handle it. Whatever has happened we can get it worked out. Let’s put this big gospel to work.

Sadly, I’ve often been rebuffed by stoic glares and unwilling hearts. Content to nurse a grudge they sadly mute the gospel and ensure that nothing gets solved.

CONFLICT IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR INTIMACY.

When properly addressed within the context of the gospel, conflict is actually a surprising minister in the relationship. By addressing conflict and sin biblically it actually forges a deeper intimacy than personal comfort could ever do. I have seen husbands and wives work through big stuff and come out shining brighter than the couples that play prevent defense in their marriage. I’ve seen young people and older people become great friends after working out their issues together through gospel humility.

This is because the gospel is the great unifier. It brings all of us low. Jesus teaches us that the way down is the way up (Phil. 2:3-10). How could it be any different in our relationships?

CONFLICT IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO EMBRACE PROVIDENCE.

Failing to address conflict also says something about our view of providence. If God is truly upholding and governing all things, bringing everything to pass that comes to pass, then what are we to say about our conflict? Providence has permitted it at this time. We must apply the Word of God and this big gospel for the glory of God and the good of ourselves and others.

Too many times we in the church deploy the world’s methods and hope for heaven’s results. It simply won’t happen. We cannot mute the gospel and expect blessing. We cannot second-guess providence and hope for good. We cannot avoid any type of discomfort and expect genuine community. After all, in the church where the requirement for entry is admitting that you often break things, we should not pretend that we are perfect, nor should we expect that others will be.

Conflict can drive us apart or close, depending on whether or not we apply the gospel.