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Posts tagged ‘work’

The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

– Why the Problem Isn’t Yours—But the Solution Is
– When to Fight for Your Marriage and When to Let Go
– How to Make Necessary Changes and Move Toward Healing

Many of you reading this blog are in destructive marriages. You’re tired. You’re confused. You’re afraid. You have no idea what to do to change your marriage, but you notice that you are changing. You are not the person you used to be, and perhaps not the person you want to be. You don’t like what’s happening to you. I want to give you four steps that you can practice that will help you gain CORE strength.

My friend Barb’s beach house is a little slice of heaven on earth. Her home away from home is built right on the boardwalk, and I can sit on her balcony and watch the dolphins play. I love the salty air, the ocean breezes and all the foods I don’t normally eat, like extra cheesy Manco and Manco pizza and lemon Polish water ice. Barb and I get up early in the morning before it gets too hot and take our five mile power walk up one end of the boardwalk and down the other. The last morning of one of our mini vacations was exceptionally hot, and ten minutes into our walk I was already drenched in salty sticky sweat, my hair matted close to my head. When we completed our five mile trek, Barb turned toward me, her hair still fluffy with her skin only slightly glistening, and said, “Leslie, I’ve noticed you’ve been slouching.”

Slouching? Really? In this heat, what do you expect? I thought to myself. Barb’s words stung hard, but I knew she was right. I had exercised most of my adult life, but over the past few years admittedly I had gotten lazy. I guess it showed more than I noticed, not only in my waist line but in my posture. When I returned home, I called a gym and made an appointment with someone who could help me.

The following week I reluctantly met with Chris, a young, burly fitness trainer who pushed me through a battery of tests and finished our evaluation by whipping out a camera. Already I felt old, frumpy, and fat, but it got worse. You know the saying a picture doesn’t lie. The truth was right in front of me. My shoulders slumped, my belly pouched out, my back swayed and my neck and chin somehow jutted out from my shoulders in a most unflattering way—and I worked hard to stand up straight when he took the picture. Chris turned to me eyebrows raised and said, “You need to build your core.”

“What’s that?” I asked, dreading his response.

“Your core muscles wrap around your abdomen and back and they support your spine and keep you balanced and stable,” Chris said. “Bottom line, a strong core keeps you from slouching and looking old.” Then he asked, “Are you ready to get to work?”

“Ummm, let me think about this for a few days,” I stammered, anxious to bolt out of there as soon as possible.

After a good cry, I realized I was faced with a tough choice. I was either going to work hard to strengthen my core muscles or I could continue to do nothing and become fatter and more slouched. I didn’t like those two alternatives. I wanted Chris to tell me that there was a third choice, a pill I could take or a massage I could get, something that didn’t hurt and was easier than working out with weights three times a week. But that wasn’t one of my options if I wanted to improve my core and my weight, as well as my overall body alignment.

If you’re in a destructive marriage, you know that you have some difficult choices in front of you. Believe me. I know change is hard, and sometimes we’re only motivated to change when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than our fear or pain of making the change. You can choose to grow stronger through this destructive marriage or not, but if you choose to do nothing, understand what it will cost you.

Your emotional, mental, and spiritual core will get weaker and weaker, curving inward until your entire person-hood is out of alignment. Sacrificing yourself by allowing someone to sin against you to keep peace in your marriage is never a wise choice, not for you, not for your husband, not for your marriage. God calls us to be biblical peacemakers, not peacekeepers or peace fakers.

Whether you’re in a destructive marriage or not, these four core strengths are essential to build and maintain good mental, emotional, spiritual and relational health. I will use the acronym CORE to help you remember what they are. With God at our center and with his help we will choose to be:

C         I will be committed to truth, both internally in my own heart and mind and externally. I refuse to pretend.

O         I will be open to the Holy Spirit and wise others, teaching me, maturing me, and guiding me into his way of living my life.

R         I will be responsible for my own responses to destructive behavior and commit to being respectful without dishonoring myself.

E         I will be empathetic and compassionate towards others without enabling people to continue to abuse and disrespect me. empathetic

Marital adversity not only reveals character, it shapes it. You have a choice about how that shaping is taking place right now. When you know and believe that you are a loved, valuable, worthwhile human being and live from that core place, toxic people lose their power to manipulate you. They can’t control and intimidate you as they once did when you felt worthless, dependent and needy.

If you don’t strengthen your core, you will always live from your circumstances and your emotions. On the other hand, when you live from your core, your abusive/destructive husband might permanently damage your marriage, but he cannot destroy you.

Don’t forget, your CORE reflects who you are or who you want to be, not just what you do.

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A Theology of Leisure: Doing Absolutely Nothing!

SOURCE:  Jan Johnson

Leisure:  Why God Likes It

For years I have thought this quotation was insightful:  “We worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship” (Gordon Dahl).

Working hard is a good thing but we worship work when we overdo it, use it to feel good about ourselves or make it more important than relationships, health, and the good of others. Playing at our worship is about engaging in worship in a way that resembles entertainment more than devotion.

But work at our play?

We do this when we try too hard to have a good time. This is so common that many people find that they’re just as tired when they return from a vacation as when they left, or more tired after a lunch hour in which they tried to do too many things.

Working at play creates an empty feeling, hence the whimsical question:  Are we having fun yet?  Leisure now has to be elaborately planned or expensive or out of the ordinary.  It is no longer about being renewed or even satisfied with simple pleasures:  watching a sunset, sitting on the porch, reading even something short.

That’s why I decided to include a chapter on simplicity of leisure in Abundant Simplicity.

True leisure is, I think, breathing space in life when we are free from tasks and agendas to do what restores, soothes or even animates and excites us. To some people, an open space of time is not to be enjoyed but to be filled up. If someone asked, “What are you doing this weekend?” how would it feel to say, “Absolutely nothing!” How do you feel about having a morning or a day with nothing you have to do?  Threatened (I’m not busy – that’s bad!) or excited (I wonder what will happen!)?

To those who worship productivity, leisure is a useful way to get recharged for a driven existence or to find relief from a hurried, stress-filled life (as many Americans reported in a recent survey).  But leisure is good and holy in itself. In fact, God thought open spaces were such a good idea that Sabbath (weekly open space) is built into creation. 

This divine rhythm became one of the Ten Commandments, and like all the commandments, it’s life-giving. We return to our normal routine with a fresh perspective, enabling us to love others better and even our own life with more joy. It sets us up to naturally take small Sabbath-intermissions in our day.  These pauses create mental space to enjoy God and enjoy others, which might be called a “theology of leisure” (what God thinks it’s about, why God wants us to have it).  It applies the Great Commandment  (22:37-39) to leisure and invites us to enjoy God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to enjoy others as God enjoys us.

Jesus understood leisure and so enjoyed times of celebration and was quite a party goer.  He attended dinner gatherings in people’s homes and at least one wedding and participated in feast days in Jerusalem. (These celebration feasts were invented by God for the Israelites. Does it surprise us that the so-called “Old Testament God” is a party planner?)

Jesus also enjoyed beauty, considering a field lily more charming than the best efforts humans (including the great King and cultural rock star Solomon, Matthew 6:28-29). You get the impression that Jesus enjoyed being alive.

Leisure is so important in life that C. S. Lewis said: “leisure, even our play, is a matter of serious concern. We can play, as we can eat, to the glory of God.” (“Christianity and Culture” Christian Reflections)

In order to practice leisure to the glory of God, we need to be intentional about it.  We can’t ignore it or just hope it happens. Please consider asking God about leisure in your life, maybe with these questions:

What, O God, truly renews me?  What restores me?  What helps me enjoy You and your creation more?  What makes me grin to the glory of God?

The above is excerpted and adapted from chapter 8 of Abundant Simplicity.

Abundant Simplicity

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