Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

teen girl upsetFor 7 years my husband and I experienced infertility. I was poked and prodded more times than I ever care to recall. All the testing came back with no known cause to our infertility. We were among the 4% of couples in the undefined category. At first, it was easy to trust God and believe for a miracle. But as months rolled by, the pain of childlessness grew more intense.

I knew 7 women who were also struggling with infertility. In about 2 years time, all of them conceived except me. The pain grew even greater. One day, I was doing great, the next on the verge of depression. It was a chronic, open ended loss that had no know ending. That made it difficult. And I did ask why.

Like in the story of Job, people were happy to explain the reasons to me. But the WHY took me no where. The question I did have to answer was, “Would I give in to the loss and become emotionally stuck or would I trust God no matter what the present looked like.” After all faith is what I didn’t see.

How I dealt with this loss was what mattered to God.

Did I believe HE could give me children when for years, nothing but a miscarriage happened.

Would I still serve Him if children were not in my future?

Would I give in to depression and negative thinking?

Would I give in to anger and become bitter?

Would I believe that His ways are higher than my ways

Loss often brings us to a crisis of faith. It puts what we truly believe on the line. Cliches and platitudes no longer work. It takes intention to put into action the words of the Gospel. Here is what helps:

1) Acknowledge your feelings. Don’t pretend that because you are a Christian you don’t feel the pain of emotional wounds and hurts.

2) Embrace the pain. It hurt and I acknowledged it. I didn’t walk around pretending I was fine. I wasn’t. Mother’s Day was horrible. Baby showers seemed cruel. I was in pain.

3) Allow  your pain to turn you towards God. God allowed biblical Job to cry out in pain and even blame him for a world His creation messed up. As Philip Yancey points out, God was not on trial in the book of Job, Job was on trial for his faith.

4) Become desperate for God and begin to move in His power. We overcome trials by the Holy Spirit living in us. As we develop deeper intimacy with Him, he matures us through the fire to be used for His glory. He wants to empower you and make you effective for His kingdom. Move in Him.

5) Have faith. Faith is what we don’t see. There was a critical time in the seven year process of infertility. I came to the place where I had to trust God. and believe by faith. God  said the plans I have for you are good. When I surrendered completely to God and gave up my will for His, He began to move powerfully in my life–He fulfilled my desires, not in the way and time I first saw fit, but in His perfect way and timing. I know I serve a God who takes my pain and transforms it for His glory.

 

 

bedWhen the cheating website, AshleyMadison, was recently hacked, names were released. Affairs were revealed. Couples, families and churches are dealing with the revelation of loved ones and leaders who used the site to secretively have an affair. The aftermath has left many wondering, can I repair the damage to my marriage and to the people who trusted me?

When couples are willing to repair the damage, it begins with admission of the affair. This is not an easy step but necessary. People react to the admission with anxiety, anger, grief-like symptoms, and more. The reality of an affair awakens a deep sense of loss for the betrayed spouse.

It is important to allow the betrayed spouse to feel whatever comes, and to work through those feelings over time. The intensity of the feelings will eventually diminish, but the reality of betrayal remains. Prayer helps. God knows your pain and is a source of comfort. He can bring peace to your mind when you trust him to help you work through feelings of loss.

The betrayer needs to be prepared to share remorse often and allow questions. They must give needed reassurance whenever requested and be empathetic to the pain caused through their actions. Patience is needed as the couple works through the root of the issue. The betrayed person needs time to process and question.

After the admission of an affair, the betrayer needs to make sure that every aspect of the affair has been stopped. I call this the “no more contact rule.” If a spouse can’t agree to this, it indicates a lack of remorse or ambivalence regarding reconciliation.

Next, acknowledge the feelings related to the crisis and, as painful as it is, tell the story in whatever level of depth the betrayed person wants. Then identify what made you vulnerable to this wrong action and work on rebuilding after forgiveness.

If you are the one who was betrayed, then part of that rebuilding means letting go of judgment. Too often, a partner forgives but continues to judge the person. Let God do that! Go back to the basics of working on friendship and building positivity in the relationship. Don’t ignore what happened, but once it has been dealt with, don’t use it as a club over the person’s head.

Reconciliation cannot happen without forgiveness. Forgiveness is your choice and critical to moving forward. It frees you from bitterness. It lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and relieves stress. Forgiveness jump-starts the process of reconciliation. Forgiveness is an individual act, but reconciliation requires a mutual restoration of trust.

Can the relationship be put back together? With God’s help, it can; I have witnessed this many times. In Joel 2:25, God promises to restore the years the locust have eaten. God can do miraculous things in the lives of people who repent and desire reconciliation.

Adapted from We Need to Talk  by Dr. Linda Mintle

GrandparentsHappy Grandparents Day!

I’m not a grandparent yet, but I have many happy memories of my grandparents around Sunday dinners, family get togethers and special occasions. My dad’s grandmother loved to stay with us when my parents vacationed. She would spoil us, cook our favorite meals and tell us how good we were. My mom’s mom came to live with us once my grandfather died. She spent many of her days baking up strudels and German baked goods. The warm kitchen on cold Michigan winter days was welcoming and inviting. Stories of the war, hardships and overcoming, encouraged us and made us grateful for the sacrifices family made to give us education and opportunity.

Most importantly, my grandparents passed down a rich spiritual history. Always integrating God into the conversations and daily life, we learned a set of beliefs and values we live by today.

Grandparents, do you know how important you are, especially to those teens in your extended families? If you have a close relationship with those teens, you are improving their emotional and relational health.

A study published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry online found that grandparents have a useful role when it comes to complementing good relationships between parents and teens. But the benefits are best when the grandparent has a close relationship with his or her own child as well. So if grandparents have a happy relationship with you as the parent, that filters down to your teen.

Today on Grandparents Day, give a hug, a shout out to the people who brought you into the world and where possible, strengthen those relationships. A good relationship with your parents will benefit your teens as well. It will help keep the teen out of trouble and emotionally healthy! And we could all use that support in today’s world.

IMG_3827On my visit to NYC this summer, I went to the 911 Memorial. This was a picture I took as I stood at the footprint of the two missing towers. I don’t know David Brady or any of the other names around the wall, but I feel the loss. They were average Americans, at work, doing life when suddenly everything changed.

I can’t imagine how scary it must have been, the panic, the confusion, the adrenalin pumping…for the friends and families, this memorial reminds us of a day in history we will never forget.

I saw it all unfold on television because I was having my car serviced at the Jeep dealership. The TV was on. No one in the waiting room was really watching. I looked up at the news report and thought the pilot of the plane must be having a heart attack or medical emergency. The room was quiet. All eyes were now on the TV as the reporters tried to make sense of it. We couldn’t. It was inconceivable. And then the second plane.

My children’s school dismissed. We lived in the largest naval base area in the country. News reports were speculating we could be a target as well. When the family arrived home together, we huddled and prayed. How much should I tell my young children? I didn’t want to frighten them and create nightmares. We shielded them from the footage but tried to explain the news. Like most families we did our best to be factual but protective.

For the families that lost loved ones on 911, their lives will never be the same. I know as I too lost a brother from a terror attack. He’s missing at graduations, weddings and family celebrations. I miss our relationship and at times, wonder how different it would be if he was still alive.

We heal, we hurt less, but the loss remains. We don’t forget. Revelation 21:4 reminds us that one day, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” And we will once again see those we love.