From Cheers to Tears

Funny how quickly we can go from cheers to tears.

This afternoon, some girl friends and I embarked on a teaching series by Mark Gungor, called Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage. I’ve written on that here before, but if you missed it, just click on the tags related to this post.

We picked this teaching series because there’s no homework and life is crazy at the start of the school year; and because no matter what we’re discussing, we always gravitate back to marriage issues. I don’t suppose that’s surprising. Our husbands are the single most influential persons in each of our lives – for better or worse. Right?

Mark Gungor is hilarious. His accurate and exaggerated portrayals of his and her’s brains kept all of us in stitches. However, within 15 minutes of ending the video, one of my closest friends was nearing tears. The beauty of it, is that she’s one of those super-women who leads and coaches and strengthens and mentors, but never needs.

She whispered, “I haven’t been able to cry for weeks.”

I think it’s easier to hurt than to watch a loved one hurt. When I see someone I cherish whimper in pain, I see no privilege in it. There’s rarely beauty in the creases of their eyes or the way their chin tugs when they cry. But then she said something else.

“I have never had someone else to reach out to in order to get my needs met. I’ve always been the coach, the mentor.”

She’s also been the mom, the wife, the professional coach, the teacher. And it’s here where I think our roads cross. I think this loved one is walking a similar path to my own. (Hmmm, we’ve done that before.) 🙂

You see, I’m the oldest. I’ve also been the FRG leader, the team captain, the manager, the Bible study leader, the financial manager, “household six” in Army lingo. For most of my life, someone has looked up to me. For most of my life, I’ve been praised for my leadership skills and my charisma. Believe me, I’m not tooting my own horn. These generous accolades have not always benefited me.

I only recently discovered what I believe lay at the root of my eating disorder. Needlessness. Does that sound crazy? Is anyone really needless? Anyway, what do the privilege of pain and needlessness have to do with each other?

Ruth Graham wrote a book called In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart. I recently read an interview with her.

This is a long excerpt from the interview, but worth the read:

RUTH GRAHAM: Sometimes I think we miss the most obvious example of suffering – the crucifixion. I believe that suffering strips us of self-sufficiency and we learn that we can’t go it alone. And it makes us rely on God. Of course, the more we rely on God, the more we find that He is trustworthy. And the more we find that He is trustworthy, the more we trust Him. And I know that God doesn’t delight in pain, but I know that pain is where growth takes place. And if we are to know the deep things of God, I think very often it is taught in suffering.

ELLIOTT: This idea of self-sufficiency that you mention is interesting. It is often our tendency as humans to try to cover up our problems because we don’t want people to know what we are dealing with. Why is that the wrong thing to do?

GRAHAM: Well covering up our pains, our faults, and our mistakes only isolates us more. I have found that as I have shared my faults and failures it’s as if I’m giving permission to others to share theirs with me. And I believe that’s where real ministry takes place, when there’s a real communication on the deeper level. And I think when we take our masks off, we enable each other to communicate on a deeper level.

I can’t speak for my friend, but I surmise we’re learning the same thing. I’m not needless. And the beauty of being needy is that it makes me more aware of my Jesus’ nearness.

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Just Do It, Laugh

This morning, I was reading through my Bible in a Year plan.  I try to read with an attentive heart, listening for God’s application for me in each passage.

James 1:22-25  “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”

Reading the Bible in rote commitment and then walking away in ignorance and oblivion makes God’s powerful word useless to me. It is forgetting who I am; forgetting what I am dressed for; forgetting whose I am. I remember growing up, my dad telling me to put on a smile and to pay attention to my composure in public because I was a representation of him. I can study and read God’s word and present an air of godliness, but without obedience, I can never be a positive ambassador for my heavenly Father.

OK, that was a long introduction to the verses I found in Proverbs that support the message of Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage. 

Proverbs 16:26 “A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.”  A worker’s appetite is his motivation. A husband or wife will be better able to motivate the spouse, to draw them toward their persuasion, if they understand the other’s “appetite”.

Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Once I understood my motivation, that it’s OK and a good thing that I desire to please, inspire and bring joy to others, then I am even more energized to do it. God made us each uniquely and when we can use our drive for joy to enable us to be effective in our families and marriages – we will be pleasing to the Lord.

Patrick and I have been abundantly blessed in our own marriage both through the DVD series we did in Sunday school and the Flag Page Test we took at home. I have enjoyed the few episodes of Gungor’s radio show that I have listened to as well. I plan to buy Flag Page codes for my sister and her fiance for their wedding. It’s a fun way to improve your  marriage long-term. What could be better than that?

Fly Your Flag Proudly

The Flag Page is your chance to see how you succeed in life, what motivates you and what makes you different from the people close to you.

It’s not a personality test, an aptitude test or an evaluation of your love language. It’s about what motivates you, what makes you tick. The final DVD in the Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage seminar is an introduction to the Flag Page. Think of it as the banner that flies over your life. Historically, in battle, the colors are the motivation and the rallying point for soldiers. Your “flag” is that for your own life. In the “battles” of marriage, the conundrums of work, the daily complexities of life, what keeps you plugging on? What are you ultimately striving for? What, when you see this accomplished, allows you to sit back and sigh with satisfaction?

Prepare to hardly recognize yourself. When I clicked the last little box and my flag appeared on the computer screen, I felt like a foreigner to learn that I am from the “Fun Country.” I’m not especially humorous, I’m certainly not witty, comedy is not my forte. But, when I think about what motivates me, what my end game is – I want to make people happy. I love, love to please people. At the end of the day, if those around me have had fun, felt love, found joy, then I am deeply satisfied.

Patrick, as it turns out is from the “Peace Country.” That surprised me too. His talents are leadership, he’s hard as nails, his very career thrives on conflict, for crying out loud. But, when I look at what motivates him – truly, his greatest joy is to keep the peace. He is overwhelmed by chaos. What motivates him through a tough day is the promise of his comfy chair at home, escape from conflict, simplicity.

Yes, love languages are important and doubtless it is interesting to understand your spouse’s personality. But, I now realize how important it is to understand what motivates my husband. Obviously, a marriage is give and take. It’s leaning toward your spouse, working to please them, expressing your needs and sacrificing to meet the needs of your spouse. If you know what motivates your mate, then you can more easily to persuade them to come toward you and you can more willingly meet their needs.

I also found great joy in learning my own country. I was surprised to discover my native country, but thrilled to see more clearly why I do the things I do. I suddenly have an ever deeper craving to bring joy to others. I have a renewed energy to do what I was made to do, which in turn brings me even more fulfillment.

Go figure. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. What’s good for the spouse is good for the marriage.

Hysterical Marital Issues?

Two weeks ago, Patrick and I wrapped up our Sunday school class called, Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage. It’s a video series produced by Mark Gungor, head pastor of Celebration Church in Wisconsin. Patrick and I missed the first week, but had no problem jumping into the second video. We had a small class, probably the few bold couples who could endure Gungor’s humor. 

Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage is exactly what it says. Every problem you ever faced, argument you ever had, moment you nearly left – is fodder for mocking by the merciless pastor. Don’t get me wrong, Gungor is tasteful – moderately. Everything he says is entirely supported Biblically and the gospel message is threaded through every concept. However, as in his daily radio show, Gungor makes no effort to secure his audience’s comfort. Sex is wonderful. Pornography is a marriage destroying sin. Submission is badly misconstrued by the church as a whole. Women need to get over themselves and their expectations that men should behave like their girlfriends.

“I love to inspire people’s lives with truth and humor. There are a lot of performers that make people laugh, and there are a lot of speakers who give solid principles for living. I want to do both,” Mark says.  “Our secular culture over-romanticizes marriage and our Christian culture over-spiritualizes it. The reality is that relationships between men and women are very down to earth.”

Do you believe that? That relationships between men and women are really down to earth? In our marriage, absorbing that little nugget of truth, which dawned slowly on me like an LED bulb warming to full exposure, was life changing. Suddenly, we are more free to enjoy each other. Funny, my husband’s been telling me for years that I am too concerned about the state of our marriage. I have been constantly re-evaluating it’s health, worried if we are stronger than we were before, if we’re ignoring any warning signs, instead of simply enjoying the fact that we’re still together and applauding the nearly 10 years that we have loved each other.

For the rest of this week, I will introduce you to a few elements of Gungor’s ministry. It is multi-faceted, so you would do well to explore the site on your own, listen to his radio show and read some of his articles. Laugh hard, come back here and share your joy and relief with me.

June – Here We Come!

Confessions first: the first two weeks of this month are going to be hard for me to be present. MY BABY SISTER IS GETTING MARRIED!! I already told you that – and I am spending the first 2 weeks of June between Texas and Kansas with all three of my sisters, my parents and close friends. My gracious hubby is releasing me from my wifely duties to play big-sister again for a little while. Honestly, he’s probably glad he’s not coming along until the wedding day because I will be a giddy, girly, sobby mess the whole time.

To hold myself accountable, I’m submitting to you a rough draft of our June plans here at Predatory Lies.

Your’s truly has been the victim of many lies.

John 8:31-32 … So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

BUT

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I could write this whole post in Bible verses, but that’s cheating (: I promise you that I have submitted these hands and this keyboard to the work and glory of Jesus- who is the truth.

This month I will share several sources of truth that God has used to save my life, encourage my growth in righteousness and keep me in the truth. Lucky for you, each of these resources has an online presence, so I will provide links and details about what aspects of each resource ministered to me the most. I will spend one week on each source. To be fair, I am constantly learning more from these ever-growing resources. I will do my best to highlight all they have to offer, how you can take advantage of them and how you can give back.

For the first week of June, we will take a close look at an online, Christ-centered, freedom ministry called: Setting Captives Free.

Week two, we will look at Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, and the Flag Page, ministries by Pastor Mark Gungor.

June 21-24 boasts the annual Hungry For Hope conference, hosted by Finding Balance. I’ve spoken much about this ministry before, but I’ve barely scratched the surface.

And for the final week of June, I will try to select only three days worth of valuable, truth-filled resources available at Lifechurch.tv.  Wish me luck. There is a fairly recent book and online experience called Chazown, by Craig Groschel. Maybe if I focus on that resource I can limit myself (:

I’m so excited, Friends. As I re-explore some of these ministries, I know I will be blessed as much as you. I do plan to offer some of the books and CDs that these ministries produce as giveaways throughout the month. So make sure you’re chattering here in the “comments” section!

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified youd to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption,e the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1:10-14