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Posts tagged ‘letting go of the past’

What Do I Do With My Regrets?

SOURCE:  Jon Gauger/Family Life Today

Rather than letting go of our regrets, we often escalate the trauma by further indulging them.

I should be dead by now. Really.

Thankfully, as a boy of 15, I underwent surgery for scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. Had my parents not opted for such a treatment, statistics say I wouldn’t be alive today because of the crushing my internal organs would have received from the twisting of my own spine. If not dead, my torso would resemble something like the fictional Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The surgery was no minor deal. First, an incision was made from my waist to the top of my shoulders (about two feet long). After straightening the spine and fastening two metal rods (each rod about a foot long) into the vertebrae, the surgeon chipped tiny fragments off my hip and then carefully placed them along the vertebrae to create a bone fusion.

Recovery was slow. Every four hours I was rotated from my back to my stomach on a circular bed frame resembling equipment from a circus acrobatic act. After nearly two weeks of rotating bed confinement, I was informed that the next day would be “casting day,” when I would get a plaster cast covering most of my upper body, allowing for near normal mobility. I distinctly recall the nurse warning me the night before. “Your incision is healing, and you’ll likely feel an itching sensation tonight. Whatever you do, don’t scratch your scar.”

But what I felt that night was more than an itching sensation. It was an itching assault. An itching warfare. I scratched (bad decision). And the scars itched more. I scratched more. And the scars itched still more. At the height of this agony (I do not overstate the moment), it was all I could do to force myself to clench the tubular steel of the circular frame bed and quote every Bible verse I’d ever learned over and over. It remains the most awful night of my life.

Who knew a scar could cause so much pain?

Regrets are scars of the soul.

We carry them around with us, and every now and then they itch. So we scratch them. We replay that thoughtless deed, that hurtful conversation. But instead of relief, we sense only a greater discomfort. Rather than let these memories go, we often escalate the trauma by further indulging our regrets.

What should we do with our scars when they assault us at night or in moments of tired reflection?

Scars, medical experts tell us, require regular and proper care (mine still itch or get occasional scabs). But what kind of care is there for scars of the soul? It’s a question we put to our contributors. Just what should we do with our regrets?

Walter Wangerin

This is simple: Pray for forgiveness. Ask the Christ who fought the devil to come and speak to our regret. Invariably, the word the Lord brings us is, “Go and sin no more. I have forgiven you. Now go on. Get up. Go back to your life and be better than you were.”

George Verwer

I read a long time ago that regret is the most subtle form of self-love. The temptation to regret comes the same way as any other temptation. What we need to do is readily embrace the gift of God’s grace. A lot of people have had their lives filled with failure, yet they do really well at the end. We need to encourage one another with that. Regarding our specific regrets, God has forgiven us. He knows how to work things out for good, so we can’t dwell on regret. We have to somehow move forward because it’s a form of anxiety to dwell on our regrets, paying too much attention to ourselves. We need to claim God’s forgiveness and grace and press on.

Kay Arthur

What do we do with our regrets? Now that’s a question I can answer readily for two reasons. One, I messed up so much before I came to know genuine salvation at the age of 29, and it had great ramifications. Second, I am a perfectionist. I battle with, “I could have done it better, I should have, I wish I had, why didn’t I?” This is where I must run to the open arms of my Sovereign God and all His promises and bring them to bear on my regrets. Also, I would add that we need to remember Satan is the accuser of the children of God (Revelation 12:10-11), so I have to stay dressed in His armor, rejoicing that He will make me “stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy” (Jude 24).

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

The first thing we have to do is thank God for grace. Go back to the cross. Preach the gospel to ourselves and realize, “I am not the Christ. I am a sinner who needs a Savior—and thank God I have a Savior.” I thank God He has not dealt with me according to my sins or as I deserve. The sum total of my life will not be about how well I performed, how well I lived up to my goals, or how successfully I overcame my bad habits or sinful patterns. When it’s said and done, the sum total will be Christ my righteousness. He took my sin—He who had no sin—on Himself. He clothed me in His righteousness, and that is the only basis on which I will ever be able to stand before God and not be ashamed. Every day I have to preach that gospel back to myself and live in the constant conscious awareness that Christ is my life. He is my righteousness. He is my only hope in life and in death.

James MacDonald

Romans 8:1 says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I believe all of our sins—past, present, and future—are under the blood of Christ, that we’re forgiven. I think we need to live as forgiven people. Second Corinthians 7:10 says, “The sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” Genuine repentance is not thinking about what I should have done or what I could have done. It’s thinking about what Christ has done, and living in that. When your kids were little and they would act up, what you wanted was for them to forsake the bad behavior and go forward. That’s what I believe the Lord wants for us. Not to wallow in our failures, but to revel in His grace and to give it to others.

Joni Eareckson Tada

I love to read passages in Scripture that remind me that God has a poor memory when it comes to my sin. He remembers my sin no more (Isaiah 43:25). He separates me from my sin as far as the east is from the west, as high as the heavens are above the earth (Psalm 103:11-12). That is what makes the Good News so great! God will not remember our sins. You know what? We shouldn’t either.

Michael W. Smith

You use regrets for good. That’s one reason I started Rocketown, a club for kids in Nashville. I love speaking to youth. I’m able to say, “Hey, guys, let me tell you my story.” Based on my own experiences, I have a little bit of credibility talking to some kid who is smoking dope every day and getting high, struggling with drugs. I say, “I’ve been there.” He might respond, “Yeah, whatever.” Then I tell him my story, and all of a sudden he’s listening because I have been there. I get to say, “Guys, it’s a dead-end street. It’ll take you down. This is not what your destiny is.” Regret gives me an opportunity to speak into kids’ lives because of the fact that I’ve been there.

Forgive Because You’re Forgiven

SOURCE:  Rick Warren

“Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others”

(Colossians 3:13b NLT, second edition).

The Bible says there are three reasons you have to let go of your past and the people who’ve hurt you, and the reasons have nothing to do with whether that person deserves it or not.

You have to forgive those who’ve hurt you because God has forgiven you.  

Colossians 3:13 says, “Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (NLT, second edition). If you want to be a forgiving person, you need to first accept the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ. The Bible said that God came to Earth in human form in Jesus in order to forgive everything that’s ever been done wrong. He paid for it so we don’t have to. That’s Good News!

You have to forgive those who’ve hurt you because resentment controls you.

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:9, “Only fools get angry quickly and hold a grudge” (CEV). Resentment makes you miserable, and it keeps you stuck in the past. And when you’re stuck in the past, you are controlled by the past. Every time you resent something, it controls you. Some of you are allowing people who hurt you five, 10, or even 20 years ago to hurt you to this day. That’s stupid. Don’t let it happen. They can’t hurt you any more. Your past is past. You’ve got to let it go.

You have to forgive those who’ve hurt you because you’re going to need more forgiveness in the future.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:14, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (NIV). Forgiveness is a two-way street. You cannot receive what you are unwilling to give.

Forgive Because You’re Forgiven

SOURCE:  Rick Warren

“Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13 NLT, second edition).

The Bible says there are three reasons you have to let go of your past and the people who’ve hurt you, and the reasons have nothing to do with whether that person deserves it or not.

  1. You have to forgive those who’ve hurt you because God has forgiven you.  

    Colossians 3:13 says, “Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (NLT, second edition). If you want to be a forgiving person, you need to first accept the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ. The Bible said that God came to Earth in human form in Jesus in order to forgive everything that’s ever been done wrong. He paid for it so we don’t have to. That’s Good News.

  2. You have to forgive those who’ve hurt you because resentment controls you.

    The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:9, “Only fools get angry quickly and hold a grudge” (CEV). Resentment makes you miserable, and it keeps you stuck in the past. And when you’re stuck in the past, you are controlled by the past. Every time you resent something, it controls you. Some of you are allowing people who hurt you five, 10, or even 20 years ago to hurt you to this day. That’s stupid. Don’t let it happen. They can’t hurt you any more. Your past is past. You’ve got to let it go.

  3. You have to forgive those who’ve hurt you because you’re going to need more forgiveness in the future.

    Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (NIV). Forgiveness is a two way street. You cannot receive what you are unwilling to give.

Someone once told John Wesley, “I could never forgive that person!” Wesley replied, “Then I hope you never sin.”

You don’t want to burn the bridge that you’ve got to walk across to get into Heaven.

Five Steps that Will Help You Put the Past in the Past

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

There are times in our lives when we can’t let go of our past.

Every past mistake, sinful action, wrong word, and poor choice is rehearsed again and again.  Or, when our painful childhood or hurtful and/or abusive marriage is long over, we still continue to feel angry, hurt and stuck in the memories and negative emotions about what happened to us.  We don’t know how to move on.

 If that’s where you are today, take some time to walk through these five steps.  They will help you move the past into the past and keep it there.

1.     Acknowledge the truth of what happened.

You can never move beyond something until you first honestly face it. Whether it is your own past failures or the sins of someone else, you can’t fix or forgive something that “didn’t’ happen,” is “no big deal,” “not really a problem,” or “someone else’s fault.”

Sometimes we don’t want to face the truth about what others or we have done because we don’t want to face the strong emotions that accompany admitting that reality.  It feels easier to shut down and turn off or blame.

Write down the facts of what happened as best you can recall them.  Don’t whitewash it or make it pretty.  Commit to telling yourself the truth.

2.     Allow yourself to feel your feelings.

Some people are afraid to feel their feelings because they’re afraid of what will happen. Your feelings are powerful and important, but you do not have to act on them, you just need to respect them and acknowledge their presence.

Sometimes the wisest thing to do is to not to act on your feelings especially if they are destructive to yourself or to others.

Instead process your strong emotions in a journal, give yourself permission to feel your feelings, express them with paint or sculpture, share them with a counselor, coach or trusted friend.  Look at them and ask yourself what they are trying to tell you?

3.     Release the things you are not responsible for.

Sometimes we take responsibility for things that are not our fault.  For example, if you were abused as a child, you may have believed the lie that you deserved it. If only you were a better kid, your parents would have loved you more or taken better care of you.

But the truth is, there is no perfect kid and good parents love their children unconditionally. No child deserves abuse even when he or she misbehaves.  A parent loves, nurtures, instructs, and disciplines their child but not in cruel and abusive ways. When parents (spouse or others) abuse, there is something wrong with them, not you.

4.     Take responsibility for what you can change.

In our journey to break free from our past, we must learn to take responsibility for our present, our future, and ourselves.  Ask yourself if you use the excuse of your past to not grow up or handle yourselves now in a mature and/or godly way?

For example, we may continue to act helpless, refuse to try new things or avoid owning the problems we now create in our present relationships (such as being passive, being an enabler, allowing ourselves to be a repeat victim, or even justifying our own abusive behavior towards others).

You can’t alter what happened to you, and you can’t change other people into what you want (or wish) them to be. The only person you can change is yourself. Here are a few things you can work on changing:

You can change the way you see yourself:

The truest thing about you is what God says about you, not what you have been told, or even what you think.  Don’t give the past the power to determine your present worth.

You can change the way you think about your past and the meaning you give it.

Joseph is a man who had every reason to allow past events to destroy his present and future life.  (Read Genesis 37 to 50 for the story).

Joseph squarely faced the truth of what happened to him and vented his powerful emotions. He didn’t blame himself for what his brothers did to him, but he did take responsibility for his own thoughts about it.  He continuously submitted his life to God, and we hear him explain this to his brothers when he said, “don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good.”

Look for strengths that have developed in you inspite of, not because of what happened to you.  Don’t allow Satan to warp your thoughts about how to think about yourself or what’s happened to you.  Satan tried to ruin your life in the past.  Don’t give him ground in the present to rob you of your future.

You can change the way you respond to what happened in your past and what happens in the present.

It’s true that people provoke or hurt us, and this tempts us to sin, but how we respond to what they do or don’t do is our choice.  Choose wisely.

Our lifestyle patterns and interpersonal styles are influenced by what happens to us, but more than that, they are shaped by what we do with what happens to us.  Determine that you are going to grow and get healthy so that you are not disabled or destroyed by your past.

5.  Work toward forgiveness

Forgiveness is NOT excusing the offender or minimizing the offense.  Forgiveness is your decision to cancel the debt this person rightfully owes you.  Don’t’ stay stuck in your past because the other person refuses to make amends, say their sorry, or change their destructive ways.  Don’t give this person in your past one more ounce of control over you than he or she has already had thus far.

Understand that it is not the sin from your past that wields the fatal blow to you. It’s your unresolved anger, self-pity, bitterness, shame, and resentment that continue to poison your body and soul.

A person finds healing through the process of forgiveness, both receiving forgiveness and extending forgiveness.That is why God is so insistent that we forgive.  He doesn’t want past sin to ruin our present and future lives.

Forgiveness takes time, but it never starts with a feeling. It requires a decision.  Decide to forgive even when you don’t feel forgiving.

Faithfully walking through these five steps will help you live more fully and freely now.   God wants that for you my friend.

READY FOR THE “SECOND HALF” OF MARRIAGE?

SOURCE: Adapted from The Second Half of Marriage by David/Claudia Arp

Are you in the second half of marriage?  Check out these symptoms:

*You have teenagers who will soon leave the nest.

*Your own parents are aging.

*You were recently invited to a 25th high school reunion.

*You exercise more and burn fewer calories doing it.

*You just received an invitation to join AARP.

*By the time you get your spouse’s attention, you’ve forgotten what you were going to say.

If you identify with these symptoms, you are in or are approaching the second half of marriage. The first half of marriage involved launching your union and surviving the active parenting years.  For some, menopause and the adolescent years may hit simultaneously, making the challenge in the second half of marriage even greater.

The transition into the second half of marriage is a crisis time for many couples.  The current trend of long-term marriages breaking up in record numbers is alarming.   Why the jump in divorces for this age group?  Could it be that as people begin to realize they are going to live longer, they don’t want to spend the rest of their life in an unhappy and unfulfilled marriage?  While many long-term marriages avoid divorce, other second-half issues can produce much stress.  The children grow up and leave home; our parents age and die; we may add a few pounds and more bulges; we may have less energy and move slower; one’s career may be winding down (while the spouse’s career is taking off); we begin to realize how fast life goes by and that if we are going to make changes, we’d better hurry, because we don’t have a lot of time left.

Marital researchers have discovered that for couples who hang together through the midlife transition, marital satisfaction begins to rise again and stays that way – if couples risk growing in their relationship.  The second half of marriage gives you the opportunity to reinvent your marriage, to make mid-course adjustments, and to reconnect with one another in a more meaningful way.  Healthy long-term marriages have staying power, because they are held together from within.

The following eight challenges describe the areas that if worked on will enrich your marriage for the second half.

The Eight Challenges for the Second Half of Marriage:

1.  Let go of past marital disappointments, forgive each other, and commit to making the rest of your marriage the best.

2.  Create a marriage that is partner-focused rather than child/career-focused.

3.  Maintain an effective communication system that allows you to express your deepest feelings, joys, and concerns.

4.  Use anger and conflict in a creative way to build your relationship.

5.  Build a deeper friendship and enjoy your spouse.

6.  Renew romance and restore a pleasurable sexual relationship.

7.  Adjust to changing roles with aging parents and adult children.

8.  Evaluate where you are on your spiritual pilgrimage, grow closer to each other and to God, and together serve others.

Challenge 1Let go of past marital disappointments – forgive each other – commit to making the rest of your marriage the best.

A.  Identify grievances.  Actually make a list.  This list is personal – not necessarily to be shared with your spouse.

B.  Evaluate the grievances you listed.  Which ones can easily be forgiven?  Which need to be discussed?  Which do you need professional help with to overcome?

C. Decide to forgive.  Are you willing to forgive your spouse for the items you listed?  Forgiveness begins with a simple decision – an act of the will.

D.  Let go.  Ceremoniously let go of the little grievances you listed.  Perhaps you will want to burn them or bury them.

E.  Change your responses now that you’ve forgiven your spouse.  Try replacing any future negative response to a situation with a loving encouragement for your spouse.

F.  List the things you will do in the second half of marriage:

*We will release and let go of our missed dreams and disappointments with each other, with our children, with our parents, and with ourselves;

*We will accept each other as a package deal;

*We will forgive and ask forgiveness when needed;

*We will renew our commitment to each other and to growing together in the second half of our marriage.

Challenge 2. Create a marriage that is partner-focused rather than child/career-focused.

A. Recognize that we grow at different rates, roles may switch, and rules may change.

*Many wives may become more focused and assertive and are eager to try their professional wings – especially if the first half of marriage was dedicated to parenting children.  Many men may decide to slow down and enjoy life a little bit more.

B. Recognize the need to become closer companions.

*Many couples facing the second half of marriage have little shared privacy because lives have been consumed by children and careers. As important as children, parents, friends, jobs, and hobbies may be, strive to make the marriage more important.  Develop a concept of “we-ness” and look for ways to develop it.

C. Make a commitment to personal growth, to developing an effective communication system, and to learn how to make creative use of conflict.

Challenge 3Maintain an effective communication system that allows you to express your deepest feelings, joys, and concerns.

A. Avoid negative patterns of communicating – Consider doing what is positive and works.

*Negative pattern 1 – Avoider-Confronter Couple.  The avoider often retreats into his or her own world.  He/she prefers to ignore problems and let them slide.  For the most part, avoiders are uncomfortable talking about their feelings.  The confronter has no trouble expressing her or her feelings.

*Negative pattern 2 – Conflict-Avoiding Couple.  Conflict-avoiding couples may work well together in many areas, such as building careers or parenting.  However, they lack close personal relationship.  When it comes to deep, intimate conversation or dealing with personal issues, they are distant from one another.  Instead of dealing with negative feelings, they stuff them inside.

*Negative pattern 3 – Conflict-Confronting Couple.  The conflict-confronting couple has no lack of communication, however, much of it is negative and hurtful.  Instead of dealing with conflict, they vent frustrations to the point that effective communication is stifled.

*Positive pattern – Interpersonally Competent Couple.  This involves working on developing  new and better ways to communicate and learning to use conflict constructively. Avoid what doesn’t work, and seek out more of what works better through reading, counseling, workshops.

Challenge 4Use anger and conflict in a creative way to build your relationship.

A. Understand that conflict and anger are givens in any marriage, but if we learn the skills for dealing with them, we can build rather than destroy our relationship.

*Analyze your own anger.  Ask yourself, “What am I really angry about? What is the problem, and whose problem is it?  How can I sort out who is responsible for what? How can I learn to express my anger in a way that will not leave me feeling helpless and powerless?  How can I clearly communicate my position without becoming defensive or attacking?

*Together as a couple make an anger contract.  This is a protective way to confront anger as a couple. Make your anger contract at a time when you are not angry!

First, agree to tell each other when you first realize you are getting angry. Second, renounce the “right” to vent your anger on your spouse.  Third, ask for your spouse’s help in dealing with whatever is causing the anger.

B. Marriage turbulence can even be healthy.  A solid marriage relationship provides “a safe place to resolve honest conflict and process your anger. It can help your marriage grow.”

Challenge 5. Build a deeper friendship and enjoy your spouse.

A. Building a long-term friendship in the second half of marriage is influenced by many things including health issues.

*Take care of yourself.  Invest in your health.

*Pace yourself.  Is it realistic to try to maintain the same pace of ten years ago?

*Build relationships and maintain them.  Build friendships outside your extended family to maintain a good support system.

*Stretch your boundaries.  Try new things or a new approach to “old” things.

*Stay involved with life.  Actively search for your passion.  Continue to learn and grow.

*Hang in there.  Avoid making drastic decisions when you’re feeling down.

B.  Plan for fun and have fun.

*Picnic in the park date.

*“I’m too tired date.” Grab some takeout food and avoid the phone/answer

machine/email/texts.

*Photo date. Set the timer on the camera and take some couple pictures.

*Gourmet-cooking date.  Plan the menu, do the shopping, and cook dinner – together!

*Highway date. Go exploring within a fifty-mile radius of home.

*Workout date.  Take a walk together or exercise together.

*Home Depot date.  Go to a home improvement store and plan and scheme your next improvement project.

*Window-shopping date.  Go window-shopping…maybe when the stores are closed.

*Airport date. Sit in the air terminal and watch the people come and go.

*Proposal date.  Go to a public place and ask your mate to marry you again.

Challenge 6Renew romance and restore a pleasurable sexual relationship.

A.  According to researchers, the hardest part of maintaining love and closeness is learning how to keep intimacy alive through the years of a marriage – especially the second half.

B.  Marriages grow in stages.  In the first decade couples learn about each other.  Children come along and test the limits of our energy.  The second decade of marriage entails fighting off boredom.  But, it’s in the third decade that things can really change.  Sex is an important aspect of marriage, but it is an area many couples are hesitant to talk about.  It is important as we face the empty nest years that we reexamine our attitude and bravely talk with our partner about our love life.  Also, as we reach midlife and beyond, we need to understand how our bodies change as we age – physically, psychologically, and hormonally.

*Reset the pace.  A man’s response time slows down as he ages. Instead of worrying about it, relax and enjoy it.  Think of the sexual relationship in the second half as a delightful stroll, not a sprint.

*Take action.  While younger men are stimulated by what they see, by age forty or fifty, men may be more stimulated by touching and caressing.

*Balance the seesaw.  Stop boredom by having both partners be the initiator from time to time.

*Dare to experiment. Because response times may be different or longer, this is a great time to experiment remembering “getting there can be half the fun.”

*Achieve more from less.  Find whatever frequency works best for your.  Let your lovemaking be anticipated and savored, and make the quality of the sexual experience your focus.

C.  Rekindling romance doesn’t just happen.  It takes some effort.  Couples can read books and talk together about how to “spice up” their love life.

D.  If because of severe health or other issues, the sexual relationship is difficult, talk to a physician or counselor to bring in other resources and perspective.

Challenge 7. Adjust to changing roles with aging parents and adult children.

A.  Being caught between teenage or adult children and aging parents is a dilemma many second half couples face.  The challenge is, how can you keep your marriage the anchor relationship while relating to other family members on both ends of the “family seesaw”?  Whatever your situation, your relationship with your elderly parents affects your marriage.  Whether the effect is positive or negative depends more on you than on the situation.

B.  Typical problems that prevent a healthy relationship with aging parents:

*Lack of trust. If parents have little trust and respect for their adult children, it will be hard to have a close relationship.  Not all elderly parent-adult children relationships are close.  Accepting those things you cannot change will help you to change the things you can.

*Lack of adult status. Ever feel as if you’re still a kid in your parents’ eyes?  And whenever you’re around your elderly parents, you react much as you did when you were growing up in their home?  You may not be able to change your parents’ view of you, but you can make a choice to treat your adult children differently.

*Denial.  Lack of open communication with your aging parents will make helping them more difficult.  Also, should memory losses occur and physical changes take place, elderly parents may deny that they need any help.  This leaves the adult child in a frustrating place.

*Excessive demands and manipulation. Along with a demanding parent can be the one who is manipulative.  With outside resources such as reading and counsel, it is important that we learn how to deal with issues of false guilt, not feeling responsible for what we can’t control, and maintaining a healthy, balanced life of our own.

C.  As we honor and care for our parents, we should not put them above our spouse.  At the same time, whatever our situation with our parents, we should try to build positive bridges with them.

D.  Dealing with adult children.  The transition into adult relationships with our children and their spouses can be a difficult challenge and if not well-managed can greatly affect our own marriage.  We need to be willing to let go and respect our adult children’s boundaries.  An unwillingness to let go is closely related to lack of adult status and lack of trust.  The question is, are we willing to let go – to release our children into adulthood and let them lead their own lives?  Building healthy, trusting relationships with your adult children can enrich the second half of your marriage.  and when your children marry, develop a relationship with each couple.

Visit but don’t stay too long.  Let them parent their own children.  Try not to give advice. Build a relationship with each grandchild.  Whatever your family background and whatever relationship you have today with your own parents, remember that you can build a healthy bridge to your own children and grandchildren.

Challenge 8Evaluate where you are on your spiritual pilgrimage, grow closer to each other and God, and together serve others.

A.  Consider what are your basic beliefs about what elevates your own marriage.

*God brought us together in the first place.

*Our continuing life together is part of God’s divine purpose.

*We have a witness to bear together.

*A shared life must have a sacrificial quality.

*A Christian marriage must find spiritual expression.

B.  It is God who can give us new passion for our spouse.  He is the one who can enable us to have an open and honest relationship and to construct a quality marital relationship.

C.  As each spouse grows in his or her spiritual pilgrimage:

*Accept where both you and your spouse are on that journey.

*Don’t force or coerce your spouse to attend or do something with you that you know he or she won’t enjoy.

*Be teachable and willing to learn.

*Promote spiritual closeness and unity through simple couple devotions and/or praying together.  Start with just 10 minutes a day.

D.  Consider serving others.

*Reflect His image together to others in a hurting world.

*Be beacons that give light to others and create a thirst for healthy marriage relationships.

*Reflect on these questions –

-What is something about which we are both passionate?

-If we have adult children (or will have), how can we be role models for them?

-What are some ways in which we can serve others together?

The Eight Challenges for the Second Half of Marriage

1.  Let go of past marital disappointments, forgive each other, and commit to making the rest of your marriage the best.

2.  Create a marriage that is partner-focused rather than child/career-focused.

3.  Maintain an effective communication system that allows you to express your deepest feelings, joys, and concerns.

4.  Use anger and conflict in a creative way to build your relationship.

5.  Build a deeper friendship and enjoy your spouse.

6.  Renew romance and restore a pleasurable sexual relationship.

7.  Adjust to changing roles with aging parents and adult children.

8.  Evaluate where you are on your spiritual pilgrimage, grow closer to each other and to God, and together serve others.

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