Friday, June 15, 2012

Do Childhood Hurts Affect Our Love?

Most of us carry in our hearts some hurts from our childhood. As children we find ways to protect ourselves overwhelming hurt. We hide our hurt; we pretend that we are happy or confident or brave when we really feel fearful, depressed or inadequate. Some of us even learn to detach from our emotions so we feel nothing. 
Our heart is the hiding place for all our painful feelings. By the time we reach adulthood many of us have hearts full of pain. When our hearts are full of pain we can’t take in the love that is offered to us. Our hearts are hardened. Hurts that are buried from childhood and adolescence are very difficult and painful to face. In order to do so, we may need to be in therapy with someone we trust. Then we must make the decision to reveal the secret of our pain and share it. Doing this can feel very unsettling, risky and even painful. Yet it is the only way to free our heart of its pain so there is room for love.
Some will experience very painful emotions during this. Many of these feelings were frozen in our hearts from childhood. We must re-experience some of these emotions in order to be able to open our hearts to love. Another way to think of it is to think of a protective shell around our heart. This shell protects us from pain but it also prevents love from reaching us. Often the shell is a defensive layer of false pride. For example we may act as though we know all the answers when we actually feel very unsure of ourselves. 

There are four ways in which this shell of pride blocks us from receiving and giving love. 
      1.  Judging others. When we judge others we are, on some level, feeling superior to them. We think when someone is different they are “wrong.” We bolster our own self-esteem by thinking less of someone else.

      2.  Fear. We fear rejection so we don’t reach out to others. We fear criticism so we don’t let others know us. Fear prevents us from taking the risks that are a part of loving relationships.

      3. Selfishness. Most of us must fight our own self-centeredness. We are tuned into what we want, what we feel, what we need and we have little awareness or even regard for the needs, feelings and wants of others. Loving and being loved requires effort on our part. We must let love in and receive it and we must respond with love to complete the connection.

      4. Viewing ourselves as unlovable. If we can’t love ourselves it is very difficult to let the love offered us into our hearts and it is very difficult to believe we have anything to give another person. We must learn to love the child we were and the person we are becoming. We must learn to be humble and open like a child – letting go of pride.

“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:16 NLT

Blessings, Dottie

Monday, June 11, 2012


Matt. 5:38-42 If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Luke 6:29-31 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Matt. 7:12  Do to others what you would like them to do to you.

Father, It seems to me that this scripture describes a peace maker and a very generous person. This is someone who cares about others, listens to others view points, gives to others in need and is openly vulnerable, not defensive, in relationships, that is, turns the other cheek. The loving way is to cooperate and do more than is asked. This is a very high standard and contrary to the ways of our culture.

I am generally a peace maker and I thank you for giving me this disposition. Even so, the inclination to retaliate is strong in most of us, including me. When someone hurts me, I want to hurt them back, though most of the time I stuff it or journal about it or try to talk with the person.

I have learned in my journey with You to be more open and transparent with others, rather than hiding my weaknesses and flaws. Help me continue to grow along these lines of love. I also have overcome much defensiveness though this occasionally raises its head in close relationships. I am giving and caring in many ways, but I need to be more responsive to the needs of others and less self focused. 

Your words command extreme humility and generosity. Help me obey. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What is A Power Struggle?

A power struggle is, just as it says, a struggle for power or control.  In most marriages a power struggle begins after the honeymoon phase, as the differences between partners become more evident. Partners then attempt to influence each other and gain control. Often the subject you argue about doesn’t matter. It takes two to maintain a power struggle and this interaction becomes extreme when two very competitive people are married to each other.
If the primary goal of both partners is to win the argument then the battle may escalate to name calling, increased anger and even violence. Certainly, in the heat of competition, respect for each other lessens or vanishes. What occurs is a see-saw back and forth of attack and counter attack. “You did such and such….”  “I did that because you did....” Neither partner hears the other as they continue to argue — “I’m right.” “No, I’m right.” 
No one wins a power struggle. In fact, in a marriage, either both partners win or both lose. You are on the same side; you are teammates in the battle of life. The outcome of conflicts affects you both. If you win a battle with your partner what have you actually won? If he or she feels defeated, put down or controlled, where is your victory?
Couples in a power struggle have never learned how to negotiate differences or how to compromise. Compromise does not mean giving in. The literal meaning of the word compromise is “to promise together.” To change your marriage you must first listen carefully to your partner. One listening technique that will improve communication is the use of mirroring. This is simply, mirroring back what you hear your husband or wife say. Give your partner a brief summary of his or her position.
For example, if your partner says, “The sky is green,” you would mirror back, “You’re saying the sky is green.” Mirroring this back to your partner does not mean you agree with it. But it shows your partner that you have heard and it will encourage your partner to tell you more about his or her thoughts. 
Use this kind of response especially when your partner’s words feel like an attack on you. This will be hard to do as it involves letting go of the initial defensive response you feel and using your reason to find out more about what the other person means.
There is much to learn in order to stop power struggles. You both need to learn to respect and understand your differences. You both need to learn to listen to the feelings behind the words said and respond to these with caring. You both need to learn to say you’re sorry and to not see this as giving in. You both need to learn not to fight over minor issues and you both need to learn that most issues are minor.

It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” Proverbs 16:32 NLT

Blessings, Dottie

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Red Words in Scripture - Keeping Promises

Matt. 5:33-37 "You have heard it said, ‘Do not break an oath or a promise. Keep oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

Father, When I didn’t understand this commandment you led me to do some research. Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy shed some light.  He says Jesus knew the swearing of oaths was done “to impress others with their sincerity and reliability” in order to convince or manipulate others, a kind of “song and dance.”  “Anything more than this ‘comes from evil’ - the evil intent to get one’s way by manipulation of the thoughts and choices of others.”

Father, Our culture is certainly full of this kind of falseness. Help me be true to what I say, to always do what I promise to do. Show me any time I’m guilty of coercing or manipulating others and help me just say things simply and clearly and let others make their own decisions. I’m some times guilty of attempting to manipulate  those I love the most, family members. I'm some times guilty of trying to impress those I don't know well. Help me learn to be transparent in all I say and do. Teach me, change me.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Why is Marriage Difficult?

Marriage is a learning process. In a successful marriage we gradually learn who the other person is and they learn who we are. As with all learning, this is a painful process at times; at times it is a delight. William James said that there are six personalities involved in every relationship: What he thinks he is, what she thinks he is and what he really is; and vice versa, what she thinks she is, what he thinks she is and what she really is. Couples need to sort out all of these personalities, real and imagined. This takes time and patience.
Marriage can be the most difficult and frustrating relationship we’ve ever experienced as well as the most intimate, loving and secure relationship possible. Marriages typically go through several stages of development. In the initial stage, often called the honeymoon phase, we expect our mate to meet our every need and we expect him or her to be like we are. This is a self-centered stage; we are mainly concerned about our own wishes and we have little understanding of our mate and his needs or wishes.
Since both partners are largely concerned about themselves, a power struggle emerges. This is settled, after some struggle and negotiation, by bargaining agreements —“You do this for me and I’ll do that for you.” The power struggle/negotiation stage is often where couples are stuck.
In the third stage of marital development couples learn to appreciate each other’s individuality and they learn to give. They value their differences and encourage each other’s growth. They have changed. They have not changed who they are or their temperament, but they have changed their habits, their attitudes, their reactions and their responses to each other. They may even show their love by giving what the other wants or needs without thought of being repaid and even with some inconvenience to themselves.
Couples often remain stuck in the second stage. The key to a successful marriage is to be willing to learn from every problem or conflict without trying to make your partner also learn. If you change, your partner will come along. Marriages become stuck when both partners avoid change. We need to let go of old habits and learn to see things from a different perspective.
If you are stuck in stage two it may help to approach each other in a different way than you usually do. Begin with positive things you feel about each other. Ask for your partner’s opinion before you give your own. Listen carefully to what he or she says and try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Listen to your partner’s thoughts without jumping to defend yourself.

“Change your ways. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace.  2 Corinthians 13:11 NLT

Blessings, Dottie