Monday, October 20, 2014

Who's in Control - Part 2 of 3

Image by Christina Morley
I refused to be controlled, but my desire for self-preservation was so strong that at times my husband felt that I was behaving in a controlling manner. He certainly had a tough time with me. When I wouldn’t back down, he’d often argue harder and raise his voice. On at least two occasions, he dominated the argument to the point where I needed to leave the house to get my space. It was only when we allowed God into our communication that He was able to resolve even the worst deadlocks that we were facing.

We were no experts at conflict resolution. I felt caught in the middle of a tug-of-war. Or maybe it was more like a three-way tug-of-war with my husband, God, and me. Fortunately, God won the war, but He had to first teach us how submission works in a marriage. It’s not as simple as some would have us believe. I had come from a highly conservative Christian background where godly women were meant to “know their place.”

I tried the submission route only out of desperation. Did it fix our problems? No, it fell short of expectations and it sometimes flew right back in my face.

I don’t think compromising convictions ever works. The Bible says that whatever is not of faith is sin. I desperately wanted to be controlled by the Spirit, but at times my husband wanted control. He couldn’t always tell when my feelings were just my feelings and when they were really prompted by the Holy Spirit. The fact that his reactions tended to be based on cognitive processes whereas mine were based more on feelings meant that we often struggled in our communication.

I can clearly remember one incident where our idea of submission showed its flaws. At the time, we were staying at my in-laws’ luxury country inn. My husband and I were sitting outside one of their suites while the children were down at their grandma’s house. It had been a lovely day, and the kids had been running around barefoot.

Later that afternoon, as the air began to cool, my husband became concerned that the children could catch a cold. He thought that I was being negligent and told me that I must go down immediately to put socks and shoes on them. I didn’t feel that going right then was a good idea because my mother-in-law had said that she was resting and I didn’t want to disturb her. Also, the kids were indoors so I didn’t think the cold air would bother them for another half-hour or so.

Well, my husband became annoyed. He wanted me to respond to the situation as he thought I should. To keep the peace, I went down, despite my reservations. I tried to be as quiet as possible, but my in-laws’ house was small and their room was right next to the living room where the kids were watching TV. I didn’t stay long, but long enough to have disturbed her rest. I had become trapped between my husband’s expectations and my own conscience. Clearly, submitting in every situation did not always have a favorable outcome.

Related Post: Who's in Control - Part 1

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Who's in Control - Part 1 of 3

Image by Christina Morley
At the age of eighteen, I left home to become a missionary. With my new-found independence, I took the time to do some soul searching regarding my relationship with God. I wanted to know Him better. My conversion experience was real and I never questioned that, but there was still something missing. I realized that I knew a lot about God, but I didn’t know Him all that intimately. Up until then, I had lived my Christian life according to my own understanding.

I distinctly remember a conversation that I had with God one evening. I sensed that God was asking me, “How is the Holy Spirit important to Christianity?” It’s then that I began my journey of learning about a part of the Trinity to which I had never properly been introduced. In the churches that I had attended, I had heard lots about Father God and His Son Jesus, but there was little taught about the Holy Spirit.

Through books, testimonies, and searching the Scriptures, I began learning and experiencing more of the Spirit. I became more attuned to His leading. For me, it became a surrendered life. I no longer wanted to be the one in control, because God knew how to do things better.

Then I got married. My husband and I didn’t live the Christian life as well as we thought we did. We thought we were more Christ-like than we really were. Marriage brought out all our imperfections. When we couldn’t agree on something, the issue of submission would sometimes follow. Neither of us knew exactly how submission was meant to function in the marriage. I, especially, had doubts.

My ability to stand up for myself was also my weakness. I didn’t know how to let God fight on my behalf. My strength was merely adding fuel to the fire. You see, growing up as a military kid, I had acquired some survival skills. During the eighteen years I lived with my parents, we moved eight times. I had experienced very few constants. Change was a part of life. No one stood up for me either, not even at home, so I had to learn to stand up for myself. I became a confident individualist, a nonconformist, one who stuck by her convictions.

Now, I had no fear in submitting to the Lord, but I did have a few misgivings about submitting to my husband in every situation. How could I let him take the place of God? Was it biblical that I should be controlled by him? Was it my duty just to submit? Well, through it all, the Lord was teaching us both a hard lesson. At the end of the day, the Lord wanted to be the One in control of both of us.
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Poem: With Our God

With our God are all provisions
And the courage to make decisions;
To fulfill our purposes in life
And understanding to handle strife.

May we never cling to a victim’s view,
But being over-comers just as You.
Seeing the flower and not the thorn.
Having Christ’s glory us adorn.

We lay our inadequacies at Your feet.
Putting on Your armor we can defeat
Ghosts of the past, demons of the future
With love and compassion our world to nurture.

by Christina Morley
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Friday, November 8, 2013

Our Thoughts and Emotions - Part 3 of 3

Image by Christina Morley
The fact is that whatever is going on inside of us overflows into how we behave toward others. If our thoughts are stirring up negative emotions, then we need to consider what we are thinking about. We decide what to think. The Bible tells us that whatsoever things are pure and whatsoever things are lovely, we should think on these things (Phil. 4:8).

Usually, what happens is that we waste lots of time reviewing in our minds a particularly negative situation over and over again. If we notice that our thoughts are spiraling downwards, then we need to grab hold of them and make a focus shift by redirecting our thoughts towards God’s view on the situation. Unhealthy thoughts bring unhealthy emotions.

When my eldest daughter was just four years old, she began battling with her thoughts. She would ask questions like how do we know when our thoughts are from God and when they are from the devil? Deciphering truth from a lie was especially perplexing for her as she struggled with lots of negative thoughts toward herself.

I had a few conversations with her about it, but I didn’t seem to be getting through to her. Then one day my son decided to try and help her with her dilemma. He was only eighteen months older, but his advice took. He told her that the devil speaks to her mind, and God speaks to her heart. The way he put it was simple enough for her to grasp. Once she recognized that her thoughts were not always telling the truth, and that she could listen to her heart, she began having more peace of mind.

It’s also important to note that the way we treat ourselves is the same way we’ll treat others. This means that we cannot respond toward others lovingly if we don’t love ourselves. The way we treat ourselves has everything to do with the way we think about ourselves. Our minds hold a lot of power.

We need to train our thoughts to be in line with God’s thoughts. We are not victims, and we are not powerless. We can change what is troubling us. Through Christ Jesus, our old thought patterns no longer need to have center stage. In fact, they can be totally replaced with God’s truth by reading the Bible and by receiving His thoughts about life. Through the Word of God, we can positively impact our lives and the lives of others around us. In Christ, we can have peace beyond understanding.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Our Thoughts and Emotions - Part 2 of 3

Art and Text by Christina A. Morley
Nothing heals a wound like forgiveness. God says that we should forgive others as the Lord has forgiven us. All of us have done wrong and have hurt others in the process, so we all need forgiveness. When we remember that God freely forgives us, we can obey Him by doing the same.

Sometimes the wounds inflicted go so deep that we might not feel the people who hurt us deserve forgiveness. We harbor negativity toward them because we want them to pay for what they’ve done. This negativity seeps into our being like a toxin, but we only end up hurting ourselves. The more we suffer emotionally, the more we suffer physically.

Whenever we think the other person doesn’t deserve forgiveness, we ought to look back at the cross. Jesus endured a brutal crucifixion in order to accept punishment for mankind’s sins. He took the penalty of every injustice that we ever felt with each blow. That horrible event was God’s just punishment for all sin, so there could be forgiveness for everyone.

He knows how we feel. He fully understands our weaknesses, our struggles, our hurts, and our pains. He doesn’t take the wounding we’ve received lightly. Yet, He also knows that the answer to any wounding comes through forgiveness. Sometimes, we need to forgive ourselves too. When we don’t, we are declaring that God’s judgment on Jesus was not sufficient suffering to pay for our mistakes. Forgiveness helps the hurting heart to heal and the hardened heart to feel.

Sometimes it helps to remember that hurting people hurt others. This doesn’t excuse their behavior, but does explain it. Something went wrong in their lives, and then, they acted out of their own emotional mess. We have the opportunity, on the other hand, to make the right decision regarding forgiveness so that this messed-up cycle stops with us.
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