Archive for March, 2008

Discontent Fuels Growth.

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

Discontent is what fuels growth — in marriage, in oneself, and in institutions.  It’s what propels you to come up with creative solutions and to seek novelty and change.  Merely accepting this represents a huge step in keeping a marriage alive and frees you to move onward, out of the dark side.

— Ellyn Bader and Peter T. Pearson, Tell Me No Lies:  How to Stop Lying to Your Partner — And Yourself — In the 4 Stages of Marriage, p. 81

Remembering the Good

Monday, March 24th, 2008

We continue to hold our grudges when we do not keep our lovers’ goodness front and center.  When we forgive our partners, we see more than just the harm they may have done.  Not that they are blameless or perfect.  But when we forgive them, we can see them fully enough to lose the need to punish them for their failures.  When we forgive them, we appreciate their goodness so much that we can have the necessary yet difficult conversations without bitterness.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Love, p. 134

God Giving Through Us

Monday, March 24th, 2008

It will not help much if we simply remind ourselves:  God gives to the ungrateful, and so should we.  But it will help if we remember that it’s God who gives when we give.  For then we need to deflect gratitude that comes to us anyway.  We are not its proper addressees.  God is.  And if we are convinced that gratitude doesn’t properly belong to us, then ingratitude doesn’t touch us.  We are not disrespected by ingratitude; our pride is not injured.  The ingratitude of recipients wrongs not us but the gift-giving God — the God whose goodness “gladly loses its good deed on the unthankful.”  And so we too continue to give, even to the ungrateful.

The self in whom Christ is active is modest.  It doesn’t give in order to aggrandize itself, prove its moral worth, or demonstrate its power.  It can forget itself in the act of giving and reach out to neighbors in love — it gives in order to delight in others and to help them in their needs.

— Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge, p. 115

Recognizing Your Hurt

Monday, March 24th, 2008

“I’m fine,” I said.  “It hasn’t affected me.  I’m going on with the call on my life.”

But my answer was nothing more than pride.  I was extremely hurt but denied it, even to myself.  I would spend hours trying to figure out how all this could happen to me.  I was in shock, numb, and amazed.  But I suppressed these thoughts and put on a strong front when in reality I was weak and deeply injured….

“God, please help me get out of this hurt and offense,” I pleaded.  “It is too much for me to handle.”

This was exactly where the Lord wanted me — at the end of myself.  Too often we try to do things in the strength of our souls.  This does not cause us to grow spiritually.  Instead, we become more susceptible to falling.

The first step to healing and freedom is to recognize you are hurt.  Often pride does not want us to admit we are hurt and offended.  Once I admitted my true condition, I sought the Lord and was open to His correction.

— John Bevere, The Bait of Satan, p. 146-147

God wants to bless us.

Monday, March 24th, 2008

There’s never a moment in all our lives, from the day we trusted Christ till the day we see Him, when God is not longing to bless us.  At every moment, in every circumstance, God is doing us good.  He never stops.  It gives Him too much pleasure.  God is not waiting to bless us after our troubles end.  He is blessing us right now, in and through those troubles.  At this exact moment, He is giving us what He thinks is good.

There, of course, is the rub.  He gives us what He thinks is good, what He knows is good.  We don’t always agree.

— Larry Crabb, Shattered Dreams, p. 1-2

Love Rests on Choice

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Real love can emerge only when there is choice.  If Sam is obliged to treat Carly exactly as she demands to be treated, then what is there for Sam to do but follow instructions?  If Carly gets to make all the decisions, then Sam is not really a full partner.  It is only real choice that allows romantic love to flourish.  Jack can tell Jill he will love her for the rest of his life, but he still has to wake up every day and do so.  If she hovers over him and rates his love for her by the hour, it will quickly be extinguished.  Jack will get tired of the judgments and the pressure to perform.  We cannot be forced to love.  As much as choice is a responsibility, it also provides the freedom to love and care and forgive.  The risks we take when we choose to love one particular person and the resulting uncertainty are the ground upon which true love emerges.

How remarkable is it that your lover continues to spend time with you, listen to you, and try to make your relationship work of his or her own free will?  How wonderful is it that you lover continues to have sex with you and to parent your children?  Your lover’s devotion and willingness to plug away day after day when there are sleeker and newer models to meet is a blessing.  We need to let our lovers know how amazing they are and how grateful we are.  We need to make offering gratitude a priority in our lives and in our marriages….

When you feel grateful for your lover, you are able to feel forgiving toward him or her.  Forgiveness is a positive emotion that can actually restore some of the damage done to your body by anger and stress.  When you are focused on your problems and grievances, your body is under stress.  Your stress chemicals are active, and you feel tired and beaten down.  You blame the offender for your distress and feel disempowered.  Feeling grateful and forgiving can wash away the stress and relax your body and mind.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Love, p. 132-133

The Librarianship of Love

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

A committed librarian is a person who loves humanity and seeks to help individuals and society; a person who loves learning and the achievements of humankind; and, above all, a person who loves truth.

— Michael Gorman, Our Singular Strengths:  Meditations for Librarians, p. 190

Why Christ Died

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Christ did not die to save us from suffering but from ourselves.  He did not die to save us from injustice, far less from justice, but from being unjust.

He died that we might live — but live as he lives, by dying as he died, who died to himself that he might live unto God.  If we do not die to ourselves, we cannot live to God.  And he that does not live to God is dead.

— George MacDonald, Your Life in Christ, p. 149-150

Vulnerable to Goodness

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

When our lovers offer us goodness or kindness, it is because they choose to do it.  They don’t have to be good or kind, and their gift is the fact that they made those choices when they did not have to.  Human nature is often selfish and insensitive, but we are all capable of also being remarkably generous and kind.  In most marriages, the spouses offer each other more good than bad, but too often we take the good for granted.

The hard truth is that at this very moment your lover could decide that you are not worth any further effort.  You have no power over the decisions your partner makes, and demanding something that he or she does not wish to give is an unenforceable rule.  Our vulnerability to our lovers’ whims makes forgiving them hard, and that is what makes relationships so difficult.  Once we have been hurt, we fear that they could hurt us again.  We worry that they might not change for the better and could even change for the worse.

The overlooked upside is that we are vulnerable to their goodness as well.  And once we start to look, we realize all the good our lovers do.  At the end of the day, the only thing we have power over is how much we ourselves do to help the marriage; we cannot control our lovers’ actions.  The best thing we can do is to use our power to appreciate our lovers so that we have many reasons to forgive them their trespasses and flaws.  You can dramatically improve your chances for success in your relationship if you simply give thanks for being loved numerous times each day.  Try to notice the little things your lover does every day to make the relationship work.  Be thankful for every day he or she tolerates you with all your quirks and wounds.  You want to see your partner’s goodness and forgiveness and honor the effort he or she makes to care for you.  Try to notice your lover’s strengths and good points and kind actions as often as possible.  Tell your lover how lucky you are that he or she chose you for a partner and continues to choose you every single day.

Your marriage will also be helped if you appreciate the gifts of your life together.  Be proud of your home and revel in the bounty of food and clothing and shelter you share.  Honor the achievements of your children and praise your partner for his input and effort.  It is important to realize the preciousness of life and never take it for granted.  Waking up next to a person who loves you is a blessing, so don’t just rush by it.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Love, p. 130-131

With Every Choice

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.  And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself.

— C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, quoted in A Year with C. S. Lewis, p. 85