Will You Roll the Stone Away? – A Sunday Snippet

On that first Easter morning when the women found the stone rolled away, the tomb of Jesus was empty. He had risen as He said, and crushed the sin which separates us from God.

Many adult children of divorce have a stone in front of a tomb filled with unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, frustration, hopelessness and fears.

Parental divorce can produce all that and much more. One can easily add regret, sorrow, disillusionment, depression, anxiety, and more divorce to the list. The stone is lodged tightly so nothing can get in or out. Many of us like it that way. Keep all that ugly stuff behind the stone.

The smell of hurt
Why we do this was explained at another tomb. Earlier Jesus went to raise his friend Lazarus from the grave. Martha, the deceased’s sister, protested because it had been four days and “by this time he stinketh.1 Love the King James version here, but Martha was correct. Stuff buried for four days, four months, four years, or four decades stinks.

We know this because, occasionally we (or a loved one) get a waft of the stench when we react poorly to a stray comment a parent makes, or our spouse doesn’t meet a need, or a friend “betrays” us, or our fears are triggered by something and we lash out, or we’re anxious with no tangible reason to be so. Our tombs leak.

It’s time to roll away the stone
When Jesus rose from the grave He overcame man’s greatest enemy—death. But if He could beat death, isn’t it reasonable that Jesus can help us overcome our hurts and all the stuff behind our stone? The Bible encourages us to “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”2

But that’s a big step for many of us. God knows that, and He is not going to force you to do anything you’re not ready to do. But He does want you to know He loves you enough to want healing in your life—true healing, not Band-Aid healing.  He wants to take away your anger, hurt, and fear. The question is, will you let Him?

In our time
Maybe because I’m a guy it took years before I allowed God to help me. Guess it’s like asking for directions. But to my surprise, He didn’t move the stone all at once. He’d pull it back a little and we’d deal with whatever smell came out—maybe the smell of bitterness. Then back it went. Eventually, we moved it away from the tomb door, but it took quite a while.

To be honest, my tomb still has a pretty strong residual stink to it, but it is so much better than it used to be. Thank God!!! This Easter season, I encourage you to talk to God about cleaning up the stuff behind your stone. And remember that with God all things are possible

 

1John 11:39
21 Peter 5:7
3Matthew 19:26

Images
Thinkstock
Bible with Cross Shadow by David Campbell

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Who to Call Instead of the Lawyer

Tis the season…for divorce filings. Right after the holidays, people (roughly two-thirds women) will call a lawyer to “explore” how to free themselves from the misery of their marriage.

The first thing the “helpful and understanding” lawyer will do is give advice that is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what needs to happen: “don’t talk to your spouse about this.” Unfortunately,  divide-and-conquer pays their bills, not reconciliation.

Please understand I’m not minimizing:

  • your hurt
  • all you’ve done “to make this work”
  • how unloving or disrespectful your spouse is
  • how unappreciative and unsupportive they are
  • how many prayers have gone unanswered
  • or….fill in the blank.

However, terminating any chance for constructive communication is NOT the answer. “But all we do is argue! We can’t talk without name calling, blame, and hurt.” That may be true, but get real help.

1)   An organization called Focus on the Family‘s sole purpose is to strengthen families. For forty years they’ve had people you can talk to for free. Their number is 800-232-6459. They have a wealth of resources that can help marriages that are even tougher than yours, but more important, they provide a listening ear.

2)   Find a couple that has been married for at least 30 years, treat them to coffee, and spill your guts. An outside and long-term perspective is crucial at this time. Very often you’ll find these couples have weathered storms similar or worse than yours.

3)   Commit or recommit yourself to God. If you’ve never accepted Jesus as your Savior, listen to His words, ““Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”Jesus can help you.

If Jesus is your Savior, act on the words of Psalm 61 verse 2, “when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”2 That rock is Jesus Christ. With God all things are possible. That can include changing your heart and/or the heart of your spouse.

Lastly, if your parents are divorced, please look over the resources on our resource page. Learn how the collapse of your parents’ marriage is greatly affecting how you see yourself, your spouse, and your own marriage. Before you call the lawyer, commit that you will never do to your kids what your parents did to you!

This is the most important blog of the year to share, because the person who needs this information hasn’t told you. In fact they haven’t told anyone. So let’s work together to stop the next wave of divorces…and adult children of divorce.

1Matthew 11:28-30, The Message Bible
2King James Version

Images
Divorce by Tony Guyton

 

Important Help for Divorced Individuals

DivorceCareStarting in September, two important classes will be offered in areas around the US and Canada. DivorceCare and DivorceCare for Kids are 12 week programs that offer support for people either going through divorce or in the post divorce phase. Key benefits of DivorceCare groups include:

  • people who understand your hurts, emotions and painful experiences!
  • helpful, practical information from DivorceCare DVD videos that feature top experts on divorce and recovery subjects and case studies of people just like you, who have been through the divorce experience.
  • the chance to talk about your experiences.
  • becoming part of a “family.”

DivorceCare topics include anger, loneliness, loss, depression, forgiveness, new relationships, finances, children in divorce, reconciliation and “moving on.” Divorce Care for KidsDivorceCare for Kids addresses the same topics simultaneously, but in a small group of kids and at an age appropriate level. It also covers the issues from a child’s perspective.

Combined, these powerful classes give the parent and child common ground for conversations that can strengthen their relationship in a difficult time. I strongly encourage anyone who has experienced a divorce (even if it’s been a couple years) to check out a group by going to www.divorcecare.org.

 

 

 

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]

New Help for Remarried Spouses in Stepfamilies


The Smart Stepfamily Marriage bk
Millions of children were raised in stepfamilies. Today many of these kids have grown up and become parents or stepparents in their own stepfamilies. Remarriages can be very challenging, but help is available.

I rarely recommend books unless I’ve at least scanned it, but a recent entry warrants this exception. Ron Deal, author of The Smart Stepfamily, has released a new book titled, “The Smart Stepfamily Marriage.”This work, co-written by family therapist Dave Olsen, starts by calibrating the “CPS” or Couple Positioning System. “It provides a map for couples on the unique journey of remarriage.1 This is a critical first step because remarried couples bring so much past into the new union.

The Smart Stepfamily bkRon deal has a decades-long ministry focused on helping stepfamilies cope with the endless challenges that are unique to stepfamilies. His material is real, biblical, and each page has helpful nuggets; some of which may be hard to accept because of their where-we-live truthfulness. However it is this where-we-live truthfulness that is the strength of Deal’s books and his ministry. Smart stepfamilies can be found at www.smartstepfamilies.com

The Smart Stepfamily Marriage” and “The Smart Stepfamily” are invaluable tools for spouses and parents in stepfamilies or those planning to create one.

 

1The Smart Stepfamily Marriage, Bethany House Publishers, p. 17.

 

The Best Graduation Gift? Stop Your Plan to Divorce!

Graduation season is coming and all across this nation seniors, like yours, are looking ahead to new friends, sweatshirts with the school logo, and RamenThere Will Be No Divorce by Lis Ferla noodles. However, unbeknownst to them, and your child, you (and possibly your spouse too) are waiting for them to leave so you can divorce and move on to “the happiness you deserve.”

While you may be miserable and want out, please don’t think this is “the best” or good for your child. Why? Take this quick true/false quiz

T/F     Because they are older, the divorce won’t affect them as much.
False. Divorce at this age makes “trust” and “loyalty” a myth and destroys the strong family foundation they need to launch into life from.

T/F     Because they are older, things won’t change that much since they will be away anyway.
False. Think about the first two times your son or daughter will be home from college: Thanksgiving and Christmas. Things won’t change?

T/F      Because they are older, they’ll understand that you don’t deserve to live an unfulfilled and unhappy life.The Graduate [3] by Rik Ruff remixed
False. They will be confused, hurt, angry, and wear the burden of guilt that you stayed in a miserable relationship because of them.

T/F      Because they are older, there won’t be any significant impact on your son or daughter’s future relationships.
False. Your divorce increases the odds of your kids divorcing up to 200% compared to you staying together and working it out.1

So what should you do?
First, confess to God the anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, and hatred you have for your spouse. Jesus said to love your enemy and pray for those who spitefully use you, but He was not referring to staying in a home where physical abuse is occurring or you and the kids are in danger. But, let’s face facts, most divorces don’t involve abuse. They have one or two spouses who are tired and have given up trying anymore.

love_and_respect logoSecond, go to a marriage seminar or retreat. Did you know the majority of people that divorce don’t seek any help other than from their friends? Also did you know “Unhappily married adults who divorced or separated were no happier, on average, than unhappily married adults who stayed married.”2 And “Two out of three unhappily married adults who avoided divorce or separation ended up happily married five years later.”2

Family life weekend to remember revisedSo get help. Marriage retreats I recommend include “Love and Respect” and “A Weekend to Remember” by FamilyLife, but there are many other solid Christian weekends that can rekindle the lost flame. And if your spouse won’t go, go by yourself. Take the initiative to give the best graduation gift your child will ever receive – happy parents that stayed married.

Do you know of friends whose parents divorced after they left for college? Please comment below.

1 Wolfinger, N. H. (2005). Understanding the Divorce Cycle: The Children of Divorce in Their Own Marriages. New York: Cambridge University Press.
2Browning, Don, et al. Does divorce make people happy?: Findings from a study of unhappy marriages. New York: Institute for American Values, 2002.

Images
“There Will Be No Divorce” by Lis Ferla
“The Graduate [3]” by Rik Ruff

Should Unhappy “Valentines” Stay Together for the Kids?

Here is an article that is a must read for couples. For marriages that are in trouble, here is hope. For marriages that are just ok, here is hope. For those of you with great marriages, pass this hope on to others! Gwyneth Paltrow adultchildrenofdivorce.net

Click here for “Staying Together in a ‘Hopelessly Unhappy’ Marriage” by Harry Benson. This is the story of a couple who was there. Read this and make this Valentines Day a day of hope for you (and especially your kids!)

Please look at our Resource Page for additional marriage helps. A successful marriage is possible!