What Are You Interested In?

What are you most interested in? I am sure several things came to your mind. Things like gardening, good food, sports, cars, cats, dogs, Facebook, well you get the idea. Now, if you are in an intimate relationship with another person, do you know what they are interested in? Most likely you do.

Usually early in the relationship you are all about what they are interested in. If he likes NASCAR you sit with him and watch and even buy stuff with his favorite driver’s number. If she is into shopping you volunteer to take her to the mall and you wait for her as she tries on 10 outfits. When you are dating you are very interested in what the other person is interested in. At least in most cases this is true. It’s part of the courting process, trying to win them over.

Over time that tends to lessen. You start to get annoyed with those things that he is interested in. You don’t have the patience you once had. You simply don’t take the time to do things that you are not interested in.

Here is something that the Apostle Paul wrote about this topic. He is talking about how we should act if we are followers of Christ. If we have that relationship in our lives we should then demonstrate how to love other people in a healthy way, the way that Jesus demonstrated love for us.

So this is how we should show love and treat other people, especially our spouses.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than your selves. Each of you should also look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

What if that read this way – “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider Vikki better than yourself. Chad you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of Vikki.”

So what does that mean to you and I? One simple way is to listen well. When we take the time to really focus on the other person and listen patiently and ask questions to find out more about what they are interested in, that is what Paul is talking about. When we make a decision to learn more about something even though it does not interest us, it shows the other person that we care.

How many wives are deeply interested in what their husband does at work? He spends most of his waking hours working and sometimes the most important person in his life could care less what he is doing at work. Of course that goes both ways, how many husbands are truly interested in what their wives did all day at work or at home. Or maybe he is really into sports and you could care less. That sends a message to him. Or what if she is really into gardening and you could care less about that, that sends a message to her.

When we don’t make the effort to be interested in what interests our spouse we tend to drift apart. Now this doesn’t mean we need to become obsessed with what they are interested in, but it means we need to have a different mindset about relationships. In healthy relationships we are constantly learning about each other and adjusting. We are looking for ways we can connect and serve each other. We are looking for ways to have meaningful conversations so that we can understand each other better.

So think about how you can show more interest in what your spouse or significant other is interested in. Start by listening better, really paying attention when they are talking about something they value. Ask some questions, to help you better understand. When you do this it will express to the other person that they are important to you and that you value them. That simple change in your mindset can transform your relationship. Try it and see how surprised they are when you show interest!

Why We Do What We Do

Since we are starting a new series called the Marriage Experts this Sunday at NewPointe, I thought I would share a good article from Dr. Gary Chapman. Anyone that is in a marriage relationship or is hoping to be married someday needs to be aware of the relational things that keep us from having lasting healthy relationships. The more you understand about your spouse and why they do what they do the better you can respond and communicate.

Here is the Article:

In a really difficult marriage, you will never be able to address the real problems until you understand what motivates your spouse’s behavior. All of our behavior is motivated by inner needs.

One husband complained, “She thinks she is smarter than I am.” His wife’s perspective? “Any time I disagree with him, he thinks I’m trying to control him. I just want to be a part of the decision. Sure I call him names, but it’s because I want him to listen to me.” Both husband and wife are motivated by the need to be treated as a person. They want to feel that their ideas are important to the other.

If you can understand the motivation, you can address the need instead of arguing over the symptoms. It might start with, “I value your ideas, and I want us to work together as a team.”

The Need for Love
Do you understand that some of your spouse’s most negative behavior may be motivated by the need for love? Barb complains that her husband doesn’t have time for her. She often raises her voice and delivers angry lectures to him, accusing him of not caring for her. Sometimes these lectures work. Her husband Bob will sit down and talk with her.

Wouldn’t it be better if Bob understood that her primary love language is Quality Time and would make time regularly to talk with Barb. Addressing her need for love may well eliminate her negative behavior. Learning to identify the emotional need that is behind your spouse’s behavior is a major step in being a positive influence in an otherwise Desperate Marriage. Don’t curse the behavior. Address the need.

The Need for Freedom
One of our deepest emotional needs is the need for freedom. In a marriage, we want to be free to express our feelings, thoughts, and desires. We want the freedom to make choices. We often do things for each other, but we don’t want to be manipulated or forced to do things. If we feel like we are being controlled we get defensive and angry.

Freedom is never to be absolute; to be totally free is to live a life without love. Love chooses to look out for the interest of the other person. However, if we realize this need for freedom we will allow our spouse freedom to make choices. We will make requests but not demands. We will express our opinions, but give them the freedom to disagree. Love and freedom are two key elements in a healthy marriage.

The Need for Significance
If you are married to a workaholic, do you understand that one of the emotional needs that pushes the workaholic is the need for significance. Many do not realize that our real significance comes from being children of God and living out His plans for us. Thus they put all their marbles in excelling in the market place, and often neglect the home.

Perhaps his father said, “You will never amount to anything.” So, he spends a lifetime trying to prove his father wrong. If you are married to a workaholic, don’t curse his work. Praise him for his accomplishments. Tell him how proud you are of him. With more praise coming from you he will likely choose to spend more time with you. On the other hand, your condemnation pushes him to spend more time at work.

The Conflict of Recreation vs Relaxation
Many of our conflicts in marriage focus on recreation or relaxation. She complains that he spends too much time watching TV. He sees her as a nervous cat who never relaxes. She says there is too much work to be done. She does not have time to watch TV. However, if you examine her schedule, you’ll likely find her relaxing in other ways.

One of our basic physical and emotional needs is the need for recreation or relaxation. The need for rhythm, of movement between work and play was ordained by God. The old saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” reflects this fundamental need. In a healthy marriage we don’t try to force our spouse to relax the way we do. Instead, we try to help each other find a balance between work and play.

What Love Really Means

I have been thinking a lot about marriage lately. I have had individuals and couples coming to me asking for help. Many are broken, hurting, confused and angry. As I listen to the different stories of heartache and struggle, my advice is usually similar to anyone I talk with.

  • Focus on yourself and making changes that will make you a better person
  • Re-Focus on your relationship with God and growing more intimate with Him
  • Listen carefully to what Jesus says

Today I was reading in the book of John and came across this amazing command that Jesus gave us. It is very simple yet profound and if put into practice can dramatically change us and our relationships. It’s found in John Chapter 13 verse 34 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. That’s the first part of the verse, and you might be saying to yourself OK but how do I do that? I know I should love her, but I don’t have any feelings for her anymore. I know I should love him but I just don’t.

Jesus is using the word love here as an action, a verb, not a noun. Some people would define love as the feeling you feel when you feel a feeling like you’ve never felt before. That is not what Jesus is talking about here. Love is not a feeling or a thing, it is an action. Jesus is telling us to love one another through how we treat each other, how we talk to each other, how we think about each other.

Later in the book of Ephesians Paul talks about Submitting to each other, which is another way of saying love each other through the action of submitting.

The rest of verse 34 says this – “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” So here is the marriage saving, relationship changing question – How do I love other people like Jesus loves me?

Jesus is commanding us to love one another at the same level as he loved us. His love was sacrificial. Jesus says that when we love like he loves it shows we are his disciples. If you are a follower of Christ, you represent his church. So do people see bickering, jealousy, disunity, gossip, anger, bitterness, pride and ego instead of unconditional love.

Love is more than warm fuzzy feelings, those feelings come and go; its an attitude that reveals itself in action. Love is something that must be learned and improved over time. This type of love does not come naturally, but supernaturally from God. So, how can we love others, including our spouse, as Jesus loves us?

  • By helping when it’s inconvenient
  • By serving when we would rather be served
  • By giving when it hurts
  • By showing kindness and gentleness
  • By listening
  • By believing the best instead of the worst
  • By persevering through the tough times
  • By making time in our busy schedules (not just time but quality time)
  • By slowing down to notice when someone is hurting and do something to help
  • By asking for forgiveness and forgiving others
  • By resolving conflict, instead of burying it

Now go read what Paul has to say in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 about this kind of love.

Panic & Desperation

I read this great quote from Jim Collins the other day:

“When we find ourselves in trouble, when we find ourselves on the cusp of falling, our survival instinct-and our fear-can evoke lurching, reactive behavior absolutely contrary to survival. The very moment when we need to take calm, deliberate action, we run the risk of doing the exact opposite and bringing about the very outcomes we most fear.”

When I read that I said wow. How true that often is. Desperate people tend to do desperate things. When you panic you tend to do things that do even more damage.

Maybe your marriage is slipping away and you begin to panic. You start grasping for anything out there that can “save” your marriage. You run the risk here of pushing the other person further away by trying to control the situation and outcome. The tighter your grip the worse it gets.

This is when you need to loosen your grip and focus on yourself. Face the fears that are causing you to respond and react in unhealthy ways. Get help for yourself, not the other person. If they make that choice as well, great. If not you need to keep working on your rough edges and blind spots. You need to work on becoming the best version of you possible. That means learning to speak the love language of your spouse. Communicating in ways that connect with your spouse. Looking for ways you can serve, respect and love your spouse.

This quote applies in almost all areas of life, whether business or personal. When you are going down, try not to panic and make a quick decision. Get wise counsel, read God’s word, be patient and listen more than you talk. Examine yourself and your motives. Ask yourself tough questions and work on developing a plan of action with specific clear things you can do to improve your situation. If it’s your finances then talk with someone that knows about finances and set some clear achievable goals to start working on.

Don’t allow your fears to paralyze you or cause you to panic. When you face them, with God, you can overcome nearly all obstacles. You will also emerge a stronger healthier person.

Forgiveness

This week I worked through something called “Steps to Freedom in Christ”. Actually our entire staff walked through it. I have used this with many people over the years, but it had been a while since I did it. It is kind of like a good house cleaning, sweeping out all the junk that has been accumulating over the years.

The one area that surprised me was the section on forgiveness. I did not think I had anyone to forgive, but as I prayed and asked God to bring people to my mind that I needed to forgive, a bunch of people came to my mind. Most of them were small seemingly insignificant things that happened in the past. I was able to write their names down and then forgive each person by name and specifically what they did and how it made me feel. I let go of any ill feelings I had held and it felt good.

So what is forgiveness? I believe it is an act of compassion or love expressed when you are sinned against.

  • Forgiveness Cancels a debt – When there is a debt, someone must pay. Either the one who owes must pay it back, or the one owed must take a loss. Forgiveness requires that the person who has sinned make amends or the one who has been sinned against must bear the pain and loss himself. Let’s say you borrow my chainsaw. When you return it the chain is broken. I can either make you pay for the repair or I can pay for it myself. Either way, someone has to absorb the cost. We can’t pretend the chain is not broken. If I choose to pay for the repair, then I have forgiven you your debt; it’s canceled. When you forgive the debt, you no longer expect to be paid back.
  • Forgiveness is a three fold promise –
  1. I will not bring up this offense again or use it against you.
  2. I will not bring it up to others in gossip, or malign you because of it.
  3. I will not bring it up to myself and dwell on the offense.

For more on this idea of forgiveness, go read Matthew Chapter 18:21-35 – The parable of the unmerciful servant.

  • Forgiveness is an event and a process – What I mean by that is that forgiveness is a choice, an event where I decide to forgive a person. However it is a process, because every time I think about the offense I need to continue to forgive, to not bring it back up and dwell on it.
  • Forgiveness is not forgetting – When I forgive someone, I can’t erase my memory. I don’t have a reset button. In Isaiah 43:25 God says that He will “not remember our sins”, He is saying that he will not use our past sins against us. Forgetting can be a long-term result of forgiving.
  • Forgiveness is not Peace at all Costs – Sometimes we think that if we forgive someone we become a doormat, and people will walk all over us. Scripture does not tell us to make it easy for people to sin against us. It calls us to love them well by challenging their actions. Godly confrontation is a healthy thing and so are healthy boundaries. Forgiveness and trust are not the same. Trust must be rebuilt through changed behavior and actions.

If there is someone you need to forgive, don’t wait until you feel like it, because that is unlikely to ever happen. Make that choice to forgive, even if they don’t deserve it. Unforgiveness is one of the biggest causes of emotional damage that people carry. It damages our relationships and keeps us in bondage. It can cause depression and anxiety and even physical illness. Unforgiveness hurts you not the other person. Make the wise choice today and forgive from your heart and cancel any debts that are hanging out there.

Here is the prayer I prayed:
Lord Jesus, I choose to forgive (name the person) for (what he or she did or failed to do) because it made me feel (share the painful feelings; i.e rejected, worthless, inferior).
Lord, I choose not to hold on to my resentment. I relinquish my right to seek revenge and ask You to heal my damaged emotions. Thank You for setting me free from the bondage of bitterness. I now ask you to bless those who have hurt me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.