Do You Want to be Healed?

My last blog looked at four types of adult child of divorce. For those in the Deluded, Denied, and Determined camps the next question is: Do you want to be healed?

This seems like an odd thing to ask until you look at a situation a man faced when approached by Jesus. Jesus was walking through an area where many sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed people gathered. He approached this man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years and asked him, “Would you like to get well?”1 This seems like a no-brainer question, but is it?

Exercise by Oregon State University croppedEvery New Year’s Day people make a commitment to change—lose weight, be more organized, quit smoking, argue less, etc. But days or perhaps weeks after they start, defeat comes. They quit and reboot next year on January 1st. We’ve all experienced this, but why? As blunt as this sounds, we have no resolve.

When we show resolve, “a definite and serious decision [is made] to do something.”2 In our context, when asked, “Do you want to be healed?” the real question is, have you resolved to overcome the issues your parents’ divorce created or are you content to dabble in healing?

Jesus is asking you,Do you want to enjoy your holidays and other family occasions? Do you want to stop hating your Mom or Dad? Do you want to stop sabotaging your relationships and not knowing why?” What’s your answer?

Divorce nightmare adultchildrenofdivorce.netThe wrong response is, “I’m tired of the anger. I’m tired of hating holidays. I’m tired of sitting in a room and watching my parents fight. I’m tired of feeling insecure at work and at home. I’m tired of failing in my relationships. I’m tired of seeing the hurt look in my spouse’s eyes when I blow it. I’m tired of never getting better.”

The right response is, “Heavenly Father, I’m willing to humble myself, admit that I can’t do this on my own, and submit to Your authority, power, guidance, and wisdom.” God can bring healing to your heart and mind—when you resolve to be healed.

But are there hidden reasons we don’t want to be healed?

  • Too much work involved.
  • Don’t want to face the pain.
  • We like hating and holding unforgiveness because we think it gives us power over those who hurt us.
  • We enjoy being a martyr since it absolves us have taking the responsibility to change.

Christian Cross 11 by Waiting For The Word croppedI realize I’m being a bit harsh, but aren’t you tired of dreading holidays, weddings, parties or any event where your folks, ex-folks, and step-folks show up? Aren’t you sick of fretting over parents’ new boyfriends, girlfriends or hurtful antics? God can help.

Believe me. I know how hard it is to hope, but God is faithful. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”Pray that He will strengthen your resolve and guide you into the Determined and Delivered camps today!

 

1John 5:6, NLT.
2http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/resolve
3Proverbs 3:5, NLT

Photos:
Exercise by Oregon State University
Divorce Nightmare – Dreamstine
Christian Cross 11 by Waiting For The Word

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Four Types of Adult Children of Divorce

When people ask me what I do it goes like this: “I help adults with divorced parents overcome some of the lingering issues from the divorce, like anger and unforgiveness, so they can have healthy relationships and avoid divorce themselves.” After a polite “That sounds interesting” the conversation comes to a fork in the road.

Step out of yourself by Victoria Nevland croppedPeople from intact-families say the ministry is important and desperately needed. Many share stories of disastrous divorce situations they’ve seen. (It’s amazing how many people have these stories.)

However, individuals from broken homes often raise their defense shields and say very little. Or they’ll comment about how things are going well. Only a small percentage ask questions or touch on their struggles. I think this is due in large part to adults with divorced parents falling into four groups:

  • Delivered – those who really are doing well. Their parents’ break-up has been dealt with in a real, healthy, and ongoing way. They are standing on biblical truth and treating the lies they used to believe as pesky gnats rather than stumbling blocks.  This seems to be the smallest group of the four.
  • Deluded – those who believe they are doing well. A common expression from these folks is, “It was a long time ago and I’m over it.” This belief is fed by TV, movies, and popular internet sites. Unfortunately, they are blind (like I was) Talk to the hand by Matt Foster croppedto the various ways parental divorce can impact our thinking and negatively affect our relationships and marriages. I believe this is the largest group because, if most adult children of divorce really were ok, the divorce rate of those with divorced parents wouldn’t be as high. Also the fear of marriage wouldn’t drive so many to live together.
  • Denied – these know they’re not doing well. They have even connected their troubles to Mom and Dad’s split. But they lack information to overcome (for example) the trust and anger issues they struggle with.
  • Determined – these adult children of divorce are aware of their issues and are actively working to overcome them.

CCK - 'Gunks by G BNow take a moment and honestly assess which group you are in. Would your spouse, friends, or family agree with your answer? I pray you are moving toward the Determined or Delivered group. If the cycle of divorce is to be broken these two groups must grow. The good news is God seeks to help people who want to be delivered.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”1 I’m thankful God continues to work on me. (My wife is too!) However, God wants to work with you too. Will you let Him?

 

1Philippians 1:6, NLT

Photos:
Step out of yourself by Victoria Nevland
Talk to the hand by Matt Foster
CCK – ‘Gunks by G B

Overcoming Regret

Swallowed In The Sea by Kelly B croppedMy mother would say, “Idle time is the Devil’s workshop.” This basically means bored (and unsupervised) people do bad things. While this principle applies to many kids, children with divorced parents are particularly vulnerable because their anger with the divorce can fuel rebellious actions. As a result, many of us have decisions in our past that sting our memories years later:
     sex at a young age 
          drinking with embarrassing or tragic consequences
               lying
                   stealing
                       numbing our pain with drugs or cutting
                           an abortion…or two
                                or starting our pornography addiction.
 But what can we do when regrets race to the surface?

A man who knows regret
Peter the apostle had a major regret—he denied Jesus Christ. Worse, Peter denied he knew Jesus three times in quick succession. Worse yet, he denied Jesus after telling him “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.1 Still worse, after Peter denied him, Jesus turned and looked over at him (Luke 22:61). So after three quick decisions Peter was a broken man and wept bitterly.
 Can you imagine the shame, hurt, and despair from denying his close friend (and the Savior of the world)—after he’d seen countless miracles and walked on the water with him? In some ways, many of us can. Not the denying Jesus part, but doing something (or things) that cause us to wince in shame, hurt, and despair—even years later.

How do we overcome regrets?
Woman and Bible - Prayer a Powerful Weapon by abcdz2000After Peter’s dark hour, he does something Judas didn’t—let Jesus take away the pain of the regret. When Jesus rose from the grave, he told Mary Magdalene (the first witness of his resurrection) “go tell the disciples, and Peter” to meet the resurrected Jesus in Galilee (Mark 16:7). Later Jesus had a heart-to-heart restorative chat with Peter (John 21:15-19).

Jesus wants to have a heart-to-heart with you, too. He doesn’t want you weighed down by past regrets. Start your conversation with Jesus by confessing you messed up and you’re sorry. If an ongoing sin or addiction is involved, repent and earnestly seek God’s healing—pursuing whatever help is necessary. However, confession is key. “If we freely admit that we have sinned, Forgiveness by Tiffany Scantleburywe find God utterly reliable and straightforward—he forgives our sins and makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil.2    Once confessed to God, it’s done in his eyes. “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”3

Moving Forward
Peter was able to overcome his regrets by proclaiming the forgiveness and grace God offers to the world—forgiveness and grace he knew from personal experience. Sharing about God’s forgiveness and grace in our lives draws others to the Source of true healing and reinforces God’s goodness in our hearts and minds. This is a powerful and proven way to overcome regrets.

1Matthew 26:33, NLT
21 John 1:9, Phillips NT
3Psalm 103:12, ESV

Photos
Swallowed In The Sea by Kelly B
Peter’s Denial by Robert Leinweber
Woman and Bible – Prayer a Powerful Weapon by abcdz2000
Forgiveness by Tiffany Scantlebury
freedom…! by Kaylan Chakravarthy  50

Spring Blooms Anxiety for Adult Children of Divorce

May and June can produce anxiety spikes in children of divorce. Adult children of divorce are no different. Two annual rites are a major cause.

First, the bulk of 7 million high school and college students will toss their caps in May and June.1 Second, during this same period over 400,000 weddings will occur.2,3 For adults with divorced parents, graduations and weddings are minefields of potential problems and mental conflict.

Wedding Niels & Lisa by Archangel12 croppedWill mom and dad behave at the reception?
Will Dad’s girlfriend cause a scene at the grad party?
I wish we could turn back the clock so Mom and Dad could sit together at the ceremony. I hate separate pictures!
I can’t stand posing with Dad and Mom for the same picture.
Why can’t I have a normal event like everyone else?
Can’t wait for this graduation dinner to be over so I can get away from all the stress.

This list is the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, these heart cries are rarely given voice. Fiancees and spouses are unaware of the stress we’re under. We just grit our teeth, get through the event, and put it behind us as quickly as possible. But how sad it is to “just get through” a milestone event like our graduation or wedding!

Worse, we’re unaware this is happening. Jesus said, “I came that (you and me) may have life and have it abundantly.”4 But worry and fear can rob us of the joy graduations and weddings should bring. So if you have an event coming up and  you’re stressing over your divorced parents being there:Woman and Bible - Prayer a Powerful Weapon by abcdz2000
1. Write down what your specific concerns/fears/worries are. Don’t hedge or think a concern is silly or unimportant. (Christians, don’t spiritualize and clean them up.)
2. Pray to God about them. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”5
3. Learn more about the specific areas that are affecting you: i.e. fear. There are many resources on this site that can help.
4. Share your list with your spouse, a godly friend, or a pastor or counselor. It is very important to give voice to your concerns.
5. Develop a plan to overcome the problem issue. For example, applying boundaries with your parents/stepparents may be necessary. The book Boundaries by boundaries book Henry Cloud and John Townsend can help you understand this important step.

While your control over who attends events like weddings and graduations (and how they act) may be limited, there are ways you can reduce your anxiety at these functions. Use them and experience how God can clear the fears and give you joy!

 

1National Center for Education Statistics. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372, nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id…
2Number of marriages in the United States froim 1990 to 2014 (in millions) http://www.statista.com/statistics/195931/number-of-marriages-in-the-united-states-since-1990/
3Wedding Statistics in the United States. http://www.soundvision.com/article/wedding-statistics-in-the-united-states
4John 10:10, ESV
51 Peter 5:7, NLT

Photos
The hat toss by David Morris
Wedding Niels & Lisa by Archangel12
Woman and Bible – Prayer a Powerful Weapon by abcdz2000

Easter, Anger, and Adult Children of Divorce

Though the peeps and bunnies are gone, I keep thinking about a movie I saw Easter Sunday. Normally Charlton Heston in the Charlton Heston as MosesTen Commandments is tradition, but this year I watched “The Gospel of John.” This movie retells the Gospel of John and when Jesus’ trail was portrayed I noticed two things:

First, with the taunts, jeers, cheap shots, and cheap hits they took at Jesus, he must have been tempted to wipe them off the earth. He easily could have saying, Who do you twerps think you are? Don’t you realize I’m the true Son of God!? Then ‘ZAP!’  and suddenly, Jesus is there alone.Angry by Dee Teal

Second, it’s amazing to me that Jesus didn’t get angry at his mistreatment. We live in angry times. Republicans are angry. Democrats are angry. Sports radio people are angry. Rights Activists are angry. Even those who think the Bachelor chose the wrong girl are angry. But Jesus, who had every right to be angry, wasn’t. “Father forgive them1 he said, just before they crucified him.

So as an adult child of divorce whose dealt with my share of anger issues, it would behoove me to view the actions of my Savior more closely. Case and point:

Jesus before accusers cropped“Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent.”2

I wonder how different things would be if I’d remained silent instead of spouting off in anger. What about any of us? Would our past relationships lasted? Would our spouses be more open and loving toward us instead of guarded in fear? Would we have learned to let God’s peace direct our hearts instead of prideful words like “I deserve”?

To conquer anger we need to revisit Easter. Christ rose from the grave and anyone who confesses Him as Lord and Savior receives God’s Holy Spirit. It is the power of the Holy Spirit who enables us to remain silent when we want to lash out. And it is the Holy Spirit who guides us to scriptures that can help us with our anger.Anger, Handling A Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way

If you are struggling with anger (or your loved ones or friends say you are), don’t not to try to overcome it yourself. Your efforts haven’t worked so far and probably won’t. Instead, invite Jesus Christ into your life and receive true power to overcome your anger.

Still not convinced you’re angry? Take this Anger Assessment from Gary Chapman.

1Luke 23:34
2Matthew 26:57-63

Photo
Keyboard – “Angry” by Dee Teal

Did You Call the Attorney Today?

In early January attorneys receive a surge in inquires and requests for appointments that will begin the divorce process. Unfortunately, lawyers will not tell these hurting and desperate souls the truth: things can get better with the right help.

Did you know that most people who file for divorce didn’t seek counseling, didn’t attend any marriage seminars or workshops to help improve their marriage, and probably didn’t tell some of their closest friends they were ending the marriage?

“Psychologist Aaron Beck says that the single belief most toxic to a relationship is the belief that the other person cannot change.”1 However, when lawyers are the only people we talk to, we never hear that our belief is usually mistaken. But it is.

 If your parent’s are divorced, you’ve learned that the only way “things can get better” is to bail—to start over. However, even in cases of adultery marriages have recovered and grown stronger than before the devastating and selfish act. This may seem hard to believe right now, but it’s true.

Do you know what other truths the attorney won’t tell you?

  • A surprising number of divorces are’t due to unfaithfulness. The spouse has simply given up on being happy in the relationship.2
  • 94% of couples in one survey reported that they were glad they didn’t divorce when they were tempted to do so.3
  • If you make HALF the effort and sacrifice you will make for your new spouse, you can save your marriage.family praying together
    • AND spare you and your kids the hassles you still have from your parents’ divorce.
    • AND share the joy of your grandchildren with one person instead of a delegation of ex-spouses and unrelated family members.
    • AND show your kids that marriages can make it through the tough times.
    • AND prove that putting God’s will over your own desires is best in the long run. (Accepting that physical abuse and adultery are not in God’s will)

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.4 This sounds simply, but isn’t always easy to do. However, here are three links that can help. Please take a few minutes to read them before you call or reconnect with your lawyer. You’ll be glad you did!

1) Love and Respect
2) Marriage Missions International
3) The Smart Stepfamily
 

Notes
1The Life You’ve Always Wanted” by John Ortberg, Zondervan, 2002, p. 20.
2Survey Reveals The Real Reason Couples Get Divorced.” Stephanie Castillo. http://www.yourtango.com/201197812/survey-reveals-real-reason-couples-get-divorced
3Should I Divorce?” by Alan Hawkins & Tamara Fackrell. www.utahmarriage.org.
4Ephesians 5:33 [ESV]

Gifts of Hope this Christmas – War Room

At this “moooost wonderful tiiiiime of the yeeeeear” that can be so stressful on relationships, here is another gift of encouragement for you.War-Room2

The movie “War Room” is now available on DVD. The power of prayer is the theme. You will laugh, cry, and most important, you will have renewed hope in the power of God to heal and restore relationships. Definitely a movie men and women will enjoy, and a fantastic way to start the New Year!