Growthtrac co-founder Jim Mueller chats with Harold Myra, co-author with Gary Chapman of Married and Still Loving It (Moody Publishers),
I love that God gives us earthly relationships to bring us joy, comfort, and companionship. I could not be more thankful that we have this gift here and now as we wait for our eternal home. Yet sometimes these relationships don’t go as planned. Trust is often broken, and when we lose trust in someone, it rocks us. We literally feel like we’ve lost our footing and have no idea where the next step is. Especially when it’s someone close to us.
Trust is often broken, and when we lose trust in someone, it rocks us.
I’m sure you agree it would be so nice if we didn’t have to ever worry about our trust being broken. But since we are all far from perfect, we will all have to deal with this issue. Yes, I mean all of us. At some point in our lives, we will break the trust of someone we love, and someone will break our trust in them. It could be done in a huge way, like betraying one’s marriage vows. It could also unfold in frequent, small ways.
For example, the friend who says she will do something for you and then doesn’t come through. She contacts you with a sincere apology and even has a legitimate excuse. Because you want that same grace extended to you when you make a mistake, you forgive her without hesitation. But then you see it becomes a cycle for her, a way of life. In fact, you really can’t count on her to do what she says. Has she betrayed you in a devastating way? Not really. But her continued, regular, relational hiccups have chipped away at your trust in her word. You know she loves you and cares for you, but you don’t trust her to be there for you when you need her.
Regardless, if losing trust is due to a huge mishap or numerous small ones, it is difficult to endure and restore—but not impossible. I know this well. I’ve been living it for 14 years.
I have discovered that trust is restored with humility, honor, and consistent assurance. But I also know this: providing that assurance often feels inconvenient, embarrassing, uncomfortable, annoying, and difficult.
One of the most common things I see in couples who have experienced some type of betrayal is a lack of humility. This comes into play when the offender gets frustrated that his spouse still questions, still doubts, still fears that his word isn’t true. I can’t tell you how many spouses I’ve talked to, mostly women, who have said, “He told me he is sorry and he never wants to talk about this again. He said he has changed, and I need to just believe him.” In this case, the husband’s attitude is the extreme opposite of what it takes to restore trust.
It is incredibly humbling and definitely awkward for Chris to have someone call me when he’s out late at night. It almost seems a little absurd that I would even need that type of reassurance. And most days, I don’t. But some days, I do. Chances are strong that I’m not the only spouse who needs reassurance. Yes, our reassurance must come from God, but it is vital that we also do our part to help restore what our choices may have destroyed.
Our senses are a blessing from God. They allow us to experience our world with the people we love in a plethora of ways. Our sense of touch allows us to feel how smooth our little boy’s cheeks are just before he enters puberty. We have ears to hear sounds in nature and favorite harmonious chords in music. Having the ability to taste sweet, salty, and sour sends our taste buds into overdrive on any given day. We have a nose, albeit often one bigger than we’d like, that makes the world come alive by bringing in smells that jar our memories and cause our stomachs to rumble. Our eyes take in beauty that can’t be explained, whether it’s waves crashing on a shore or the sight of a bride on her wedding day.
While it is terrific having all these senses, we often put our confidence in the things they allow us to experience instead of in God.
We lean on our spouses. Understandably so. But we go too far when we place our full trust in them. And while it is important to be trusting and to have people in our lives whom we can trust, people are not a replacement for God.
People are not a replacement for God.
I recognize this is a difficult line to draw, the line between knowing you can trust people and placing our full confidence in them. We so want to be able to say, “I have complete trust in my husband” or “I know my mother will never let me down.” But those statements are setting us up to be disappointed. (I will discuss this issue later in the chapter.)
God’s Word is chock-full of verses that talk about trusting God and putting our complete confidence in Him. Here are some of my favorites:
In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. (Psalm 25:1)
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. (Psalm 56:3)
Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8)
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. (Psalm 118:8)
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. (Psalm 145:13)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:7-9)
One of my favorite parts of the Bible where a person trusted God wholeheartedly is the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Imagine the scene with me from Luke, chapter 1. Mary is pledged to be married to a great guy named Joseph. The Bible refers to Mary as a virgin, which was absolutely essential in the Hebrew culture, especially when a girl was pledged to be married to a descendant of King David.
The angel Gabriel came to see Mary in Nazareth. Scripture says that Mary was troubled at what Gabriel told her and she wondered why he came to visit. And rightly so. He told her she was highly favored and that God was with her. He knew she was nervous about his presence and what he’d said, so he spoke again to her: “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:30-33).
Upon hearing this, Mary asked, “How will this be… since I am a virgin?” (verse 34). Now Mary had just heard the most shocking and alarming news of her young life, and she asked only one question. I’m pretty sure my jaw would have been on the floor when he said I would conceive and give birth to a son while I’m still a virgin. But to hear that the Holy Spirit would come on me and that my child would be the Son of God? The Messiah? The promised Savior of the world? I would have surely passed out or at least have come up with a long list of questions and requests that demanded explanation. But Mary humbly asked that one question, to which the angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (verse 35).
Mary did not use that moment either to break out her list of questions. She simply said, “I am the Lord’s servant… May your word to me be fulfilled” (verse 38).
Wow. Such trust this young girl had in her Lord. And she had to have known the ridicule she would receive from everyone who knew her. She had to be anxious about what Joseph would say and do when he found out she was expecting a child that wasn’t his. He would be heartbroken, humiliated, and everything in his human nature would compel him to dump her on the spot. Thankfully, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him not to be afraid and to take Mary as his wife, because the son she would birth would save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:20-21).
Taken from Rebuilding a Marriage Better Than New. Copyright © 2016 by Cindy Beall. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402. harvesthousepublishers.com
If you’re anything like me, you probably feel overwhelmed by all the changes you’d like to see in your life—especially around the New Year, when resolutions are the “thing” to do.
My husband and I already know what we need to do to improve—our fitness level, availability to each other and friends, amount of quality time with God. But sometimes, the more we resolve to change, our list of goals ends up abandoned a few weeks after January 1.
That’s why I’ve decided to take an opposite approach to making positive changes to my mental, spiritual, and physical health. No 52-weeks-a-year-or-bust self-improvement plan for me! Instead of adding more to my life, I’m seeing what I can delete for a manageable, unintimidating span of time—a week. I suspect what I gain from these quick “fasts” will benefit both me and my marriage.
My husband’s always hopping on an airplane, traveling cross-country for business. I worry about his safety all the time.
Our eldest daughter and son-in-law are missionaries who regularly lead short-term missions trips overseas. I recently learned they’re discussing a trip next spring to a Christian-unfriendly part of the world with our two grandchildren (the youngest is now six months) Does this doting grandma worry? You bet.
The truth is, I can find myself worrying about my family’s health, safety, and well-being all the time. But worry doesn’t please God and wreaks havoc on my emotional state. And its impact on my mood spills over into my marriage. So I hit on the idea of “fasting” from worry—no easy feat when you’re a self-proclaimed “worry wart.” What even one week of worry-free living could feel like? I decided to give it a try.
Each time worries started swallowing up my thought life, I forced myself to focus on something concrete and pleasant—cardinals perched on the feeder, the winter sunset tinting the sky a frigid crimson—to blot out my preoccupation with “what ifs.” Or I repeated a favorite Scripture such as Psalm 94:19 (TLB): “Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.” I “take captive” every negative thought “to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
If someone told me to “just stop worrying,” I’d say impossible. But then I tried it for a week—with the help of God’s Spirit and his Word—and while I didn’t become perfectly peaceful, for those seven days I felt more optimistic than usual. And I found it took stress off my husband, who is too frequently on the listening end of my litany of concerns.
This is one fast I’ve repeated when my fretful nature kicks into overdrive. So try fasting from worry for a week–it may transform your life!
My husband and I have lived in our home for 27 years, so we’ve reached that point where our house could use a few “updates,” to put it kindly. A sleeker, more modern bathroom. New kitchen cabinets to replace the old oak ones. Granite in the powder room. You know, that kind of thing.
Home decor is both my hobby and my weakness. I can pore over Pinterest for the latest ideas for decorating, check out the DYI posts on Young.House.Love, watch endless episodes of Love It or List It, or immerse myself for hours on the website Houzz, looking for just the right tile or countertop for my bathroom remodel.
But there’s a little problem with these fun and visually stimulating resources. When I steep myself in them, I discover they don’t feed my soul even when they fire up my mind. I become so focused on what I want (the newest, the shiniest, the most stylish!), I become discontent with what I already have. Too much eyeballing designer-price-tagged room redos, and my grateful heart turns into a greedy one.
I’ve learned I’m happier when I stop consuming a steady diet of home improvement programming and surfing. Taking even a one-week break from the things that can preoccupy me helps me break free from their hold.
Perhaps it’s The Food Network for you, or ESPN or motorcycle magazines for your husband (like mine). Good things, fun things, can easily become idols before we even realize it. So whatever it may be, begin the process of loosening the grip this one thing may have on you.
No, I’m not talking about abstaining from all television, newspapers, blogs, or web-based news sources entirely for a week—or from streaming a Netflix video that lifts your spirits and brings your family together, especially during the holidays.
What I am suggesting is a fast from all the depressing news floating out there. Bad news fairly shouts at us all the time: Grim financial outlooks, dropped healthcare coverage, children killing children, corruption and crime on every level. In today’s world, it feels as though nobody’s honest, nobody’s trustworthy, and nobody’s sure we’re going to survive into the next century!
Real life can be hard, scary, tragic. But it’s also filled with God’s presence and grace, and peopled with many kind and self-sacrificing folk. Life isn’t all dangerous, dire, bleak, or brimming with imminent disaster. Yet when on a steady diet of the news media, you can often feel as though it is.
My husband and I used to turn on the cable news shows after dinner and watch the political pundits in their screaming matches over the state of the nation (and it was never good). What a depressing way to cap off an already-stressful work day! Jangled nerves didn’t allow us to unwind and relax.
Now we’ve replaced that habit with watching one or two episodes of DVR’d Seinfeld reruns most weekday nights. Sure, we’ve watched this show a thousand times and know all the punch lines, but the sitcom silliness still makes us laugh.
The benefits of fasting even one week from the news media overconsumption are twofold. You can spend time bonding with each other by doing something else you both enjoy, and you can end the day with happy thoughts instead of divisive political rhetoric.
So this year, take a break from doom-and-gloom for just seven days—you’ll start looking up!
I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Do I really need to check the latest post from one of my 500 closest friends? Do I really need to update my status by talking about my latest mood or “deep” thought? I mean, who really cares?
I often wonder what a truly ‘unplugged life” would be like. I love my iPad, iPhone, and Kindle—and spend a lot of time tethered to them. But how does all the technology we invite into our lives truly affect us? I pointed out to my husband the following irony: For years, we’ve resisted the temptation to bring a television into our bedroom, yet now we often lie in bed watching Netflix or YouTube videos on our respective devices before we zone out for the night. We check our personal email on our phones first thing in the morning (not that there’s anything so important it can’t wait an hour . . . or two . . . or five), and then so many times after that, I lose count.
I’ve taken intermittent fasts from Facebook and have discovered—to my surprise–once I’m off it, I don’t miss it. I instead spend my time living my true, real life—not the one created from random posts and self-indulgent updates and carefully selected “selfies.”
Could the same be true if I unplugged myself from my multiple devices? I’m going to find out. I’ve decided to fast for a week from surfing on my iPad at night in bed, opting instead to concentrate on reading a genuine print book or cuddling with my husband.
Technology, for all its simulated “connectivity,” often keeps us from truly connecting face-to-face in real time. Dare to fast from Facebook and from constantly checking email or surfing the web for one week, and you may discover you like it! Powering off can provide you with more time to cultivate the relationships that matter most.
When I was newly married, I remember being upset that my husband didn’t hold my hand in public like the husband of one of our couple friends with whom we’d gone out to dinner. Boy, Ted must really love Janet. He’s not shy about showing it either, I stewed.
To my shock, about three weeks after our outing with this PDA couple, we learned they’d filed for divorce. I couldn’t believe it! They’d seemed so outwardly affectionate with each other!
This was a big lesson is the danger of comparing my marriage to someone else’s. My husband and I have been married now for almost 37 years—lack of hand holding not withstanding. I’ve learned that as tempting as it is to compare how your husband (or your children, or your job, or your ministry opportunities, or your house—you get the idea) “measures up” to someone else, comparison never leads to positive change; it ends up tearing down rather than building up.
When I feel that little nudge to compare a perceived shortcoming in my spouse with what seems like a strength in another, I nip it in the bud. I purposefully abstain from “going there,” and instead intentionally focus on the strengths, gifts, and committed love my husband brings to our marriage.
So there you have it—five short-term fasts that just may jumpstart change in your life. Eliminating something for a week is less intimidating than vowing a year-long program of “will dos” that too often end up as “never dids.” Try my approach of deleting and you’ll discover what you can be gaining for a healthier, more positive you.
Copyright 2013 by Jane Johnson Struck. Portions of this article first appeared in Christianity Today International/Today’s Christian Woman magazine.
A friend recently sent me a clip from a show that ran from the 1950s through the 1970s called The Honeymooners. It starred Jackie Gleason and Sheila MacRae, who played Ralph and Alice Kramden, a couple living in Brooklyn in a small apartment, trying to make ends meet.
I watched an episode on YouTube the other night and laughed out loud. Whenever Ralph became frustrated with Alice, he would say, “To the moon, Alice, to the moon!” While this is classic comedy, it presents a very interesting and true picture of what marriage can be like at times.
I’ve had moments in my marriage where I wished I could send my husband straight to the moon with a one-way ticket. I would wave at him on very clear nights through a telescope in my backyard. When I reflected on my desire to send him on a moonwalk, often it was when he wasn’t seeing things my way, or when I refused to look at things from his perspective.
One of the silliest disagreements we ever had was over the correct way to clean a toilet. My husband calls it “the bucket method.” One simply gets a small bucket filled with water, dumps it in the toilet, and the water miraculously disappears. By using this cleaning method, the toilet is completely cleaned below the water line. I looked at my husband and said, “Are you serious?” He said, “Of course, this is the ONLY way to clean a toilet.” I replied, “Since you do such a wonderful job, honey, I’m sure you would be happy to make this your weekly chore.” He hired a housekeeper two months later.
To-the-moon marriage moments usually are the result of a spouse who doesn’t agree with your way of doing things. After all, your way is the right way. How can you possibly be wrong? There might be alternative solutions to completing a household task or making a major decision. However, we become focused on only one possible outcome–ours.
Before you decide to build a lunar landing module in the backyard for your spouse, you might benefit from a few moments of self-reflection. Your spouse may have some great ideas, if you’re willing to listen.
Copyright © 2017 Sheri Mueller, Growthtrac Ministries