Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

I Give Up

Today I feel like giving up. Oh, I’ve felt this way before but I confess at this moment, in the very moment that I type these words, I am at the most difficult time and place of my life. This is real. Honest. Transparent. Probably too transparent. Yet something tells me to write it and be honest because I know there are others who feel like giving up too. I know it. I pray that God brings those dear ones to this blog and encourages them.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:11

Why are you downcast, oh my soul?

I’ll tell you why I feel like giving up, though I know it won’t adequately capture what’s going on with me. It’d be the same if you were writing about your heartache. It’s difficult to convey the depth and width of the pain. As I write this, I’ve been battling what specialists believe is a persistent and chronic lyme disease. After two plus years of treatment, I’ve made no progress. I endure severe pain on a daily basis. I feel like a 37 year-old trapped in an 87 year-old’s body. I have a vast array of symptoms in addition to the pain, including insomnia (which is why I’m writing this at 1am), gastric issues, POTS symptoms affecting the heart, dizziness, chronic sinus and other infections, splitting headaches, intense fatigue and more. I struggle with depression and anxiety with full-blown panic attacks (which I have never experienced before). I also struggle with the results of multiple prescribed medications and having to withdraw from them. There’s a lot more but I won’t babble on. I can only say that it’s horrible having to live this way, and I have no reason to believe I’ll find remission any time soon.

In addition to the chronic illness, my life is riddled with what seems like problem after problem, trial after trial. It’s almost become comical. I won’t go into detail as much of it is private, but I can only say that I often, throughout the day, shake my head in disbelief at how badly everything goes. Relationships. Finances. Events. Treatment. Even day to day living…like with the household. Everything. Everything goes wrong. It’s shocking. It’s so disheartening. It’s so hard to push forward. That’s why I want to give up.

Now, when I say I want to give up, I’m not saying that I want to take my life. That is something I will never do. I would never do that to my daughter. I would never do that to my Lord. When I say “give up”, what I mean is “give in”. I feel like giving in to despair. I feel like giving in to full-blown grief. I feel like isolating. I don’t feel like going shopping, being social or even talking, really. I feel like spending my time with my kiddo and just letting it all fall apart, since it seems to be always falling apart around me anyways. That’s how I feel, but let me assert with confidence that giving up is not the answer.

Suffering is a part of life, and some suffer more than others. Some Christians suffer more than others. It’s life in a fallen world. Sickness, stress, pain, divorce, brokenness…it was never part of God’s perfect plan. Sin brought it in along with death and decay. We live in a world that groans because of the pain and sin and destruction. We await with hurting hearts the redemption of the returning Messiah. It’s a mess, friends. I know this is the truth and so I do not resent God for the pain I’m experiencing. I know He didn’t send it to me or inflict me with it. Now, He may be allowing it, but that’s not the same thing. He has promised to make beauty from ashes and to redeem our suffering. He is the Rescuer. Deliverer. Savior. Father. King of Glory. He is all and everything and perfection.

 

““The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” Deut. 32:4

“To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17

“For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.” Deut 4:31

““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”” Rev 21:4

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

 

I believe what God says in His Word. I believe it, but I’m weak. I’m broken. Brokenhearted. Broken in body. Broken Spiritually. So here’s the good news….God can and does work in our brokenness. If you’re broken and hurting like me, know that God isn’t finished. He is working and stronger than ever in our weakness and brokenness. We are not alone. We are not lost causes. God has not and will not ever forsake us…..even if we give up for a while.

 

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” Ex 15:2

“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” Isaiah 40:29

 

We may not know what God is doing…I don’t. I don’t understand it. I ask Him, “why? Why me Lord? How can You love me and allow this? Am I cursed? Have I done something wrong to have earned this constant pain?” I don’t know what He’s doing but I can trust in Him because He said I could and because He is good. He is God. He is love. I trust in His character and His promises. He never promised a perfect or pain-free life on earth. He promised salvation from the grave and everlasting life. He promised we would not drown when the waters overtook us. We would not burn when the fire burned all around. We would be pressed but not crushed. We would be broken but not destroyed.

 

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Cor 13:12

 

All we need to do is cling to Him and wait. Wait. One more day. One more hour if need be. We need to wait and not give up. Can we not wait for one hour? We can through the power of the Holy Spirit my friends. We can. I’m praying for you. Please pray for me too. And remember….

God is good and He loves you!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

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Love & Connection…Basic Human Needs

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God created us all with basic needs. We need oxygen to breath. We need nutrition and water to sustain life. We need shelter and clothing. These are all needs, but we shouldn’t forget that one of our basic human needs is for love and connection. God created us to NEED love and to feel connected to other people, both in friendship and also in romantic/intimate love.

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Genesis 2:18

It wasn’t good for man (or woman for that matter) to be alone. Alone. So many people are feeling alone at this very moment…their hearts aching to feel loved and connected. It’s such a strong longing that it can consume a person. It can steal his joy and leave him wondering how he will persevere through another day without it. God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. We were made for connection.

We were made for romance too…

“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” Proverbs 5:18-19

Sounds a little racy for the Bible right? God created romance. He created sexual intimacy. He created us to desire that connection. This is a such a strong need that it often leads people to be tempted to sin because of the lack of fulfillment. A husband or wife who is cold to his or her spouse is tempting them to sin. Is that an excuse to sin? Of course not! There’s never an excuse to give in to sin, but there is responsibility there.

“The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Corinthians 7:3-5

“So they are no longer two but one flesh.” Matthew 19:6

One flesh…in both spirit and body. They are one. God made us to need to be one with someone. He designed us to need to be one in a spiritual and emotional connection. A deep connection…one that is exclusive and evident in their lives. Couples who have this connection and oneness are so in sync with one another that they finish each other’s sentences and anticipate their beloved’s next move. They know each other’s interests, goals, dreams, likes and dislikes. They understand their spouse’s fears, struggles, joys and needs. As they grow and change, they change together and continue to learn about each other.

God also made us to need physical oneness. I mentioned it a few paragraphs ago. Sex. Intimacy. Connecting in a way that, again, is exclusive and vulnerable and a primal part of the human experience. Do you know how difficult it is for most people to live without sexual intimacy? Singles usually struggle immensely in this area, as do married people in lonely and cold marriages. Why struggle? Because humans were designed to need sexual intimacy and oneness, and we ache for it when we don’t have it.

So many marriages are made up of people who are still two separate beings. There are many reasons this happens. Some reasons are due to sin, ignorance of God’s plan, interference from outsiders and a general fading away of love. In these cases, there is every reason to hope for and work towards fixing the problem and connecting with your spouse.

Others have a much more difficult problem. There are many, many couples who married for all the wrong reasons. There are couples who married before they were believers only to find out that they shared none of the same values, passions and goals. There are marriages consisting of one believer and one non-believer.

These problems are not so easy, folks. I think sometimes The Church as whole looks on these issues as being minor or of little consequence. People are told just to “keep their vows” and not worry about the rest. Well, I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t keep vows or that marriages with issues should just be abandoned. I’m not advocating for divorce…not at all. I do think that Christians need to be very careful not to dismiss the heartache, pain and loneliness that people are feeling in their broken marriages. We need to have empathy and compassion. We need to understand that what we are advising is not easy at all…it’s literally denying one’s basic needs in service and obedience to God.

There are few things as destructive and hurtful as a marriage that has no love and connection. It’s devastating for the children. It’s a daily emotional and spiritual and even physical beating for the unhappy and unfulfilled husband and wife. Is there hope? In Christ there’s always hope, but that doesn’t mean the day to day life is any easier. It doesn’t mean the tears shed every night aren’t real. The pain is real. The loneliness is like your heart being trampled and abandoned day by day, and oftentimes no one even knows it’s going on behind closed doors. They suffer alone.

Connection. How can people feel connected if their core values are different? How can they feel loved if sexual intimacy is always withheld? How can marriage be successful if the two people in it are complete opposites and have no understanding of each other? Sometimes they fail. Sometimes there’s divorce. Sometimes bad marriages are so painful that people become physically sick. Sometimes sexual immorality enters in. Sometimes there’s depression and suicide….

…but sometimes there are miracles. Sometimes people find God and change. Sometimes wives read the Word and start to follow the leadership of their husbands. Sometimes husbands learn to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. Sometimes love and connection is rekindled, or formed for the first time. Sometimes people changed profoundly by the hand of God and the movement of the Holy Spirit. It does happen.

I very strongly want to encourage my fellow believers to lift up in prayer people in lonely, broken, loveless marriages. We were designed to need love and connection. If we don’t have that connection, there is suffering and pain. It’s not a minor issue. It’s like living without air. Like drowning. It’s a BIG issue.

So stop downplaying it. Stop giving easy answers. Give scripture, yes, but acknowledge that it’s not an easy road. Most of the time one spouse is willing to try but the other isn’t. Many times one won’t even admit there’s a problem. No one is guaranteed a good outcome. There are couples who never had love for one another and maybe never will. Acknowledge that their pain is real before you tell them just to choose to love. Have some compassion.

If you’re reading this and you’re longing for love and connection, just know that you’re not alone and your feelings are valid. You were made to need love and connection. It is a deep and basic need. My prayer for you is that you will be able to withstand the temptation to sin, even in your pain. I pray you are able to find love and connection to the right person, your spouse if you are married, or in a future spouse if single. Praying for all of my lonely and hurting friends tonight that you would feel the comfort of a God who loves you, that you will not fall into despair and that you would remember that your life is important to God and to your loved ones.

Photo credit: Nick-K (Nikos Koutoulas) First dance! via photopin (license)

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When Christians Make Light of Divorce

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I’m often surprised by the comments and actions of men and women who proclaim themselves to be followers of Christ but then misrepresent Him and the Word in most, if not all, areas of their lives. It surprises me when “Christians” admit to being pro-choice or when they try to justify supporting sexual immorality (sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, etc.). It disturbs me to see “Christians” at bars getting wasted or to hear them brag about how they deceived the government into getting more welfare by misrepresenting their income. What breaks my heart even more is to hear “Christians” talk about divorce with a flippant attitude as if it’s some sort of joke. It’s no joke and it’s no laughing  matter.

God hates divorce. Divorce breaks the heart of the Father. You see, when He designed marriage, it was to be for a lifetime. It was to be a heavenly gift to His people that would train them up into maturity in ways only marriage can. We see that as the Lord compares earthly marriage to the spiritual marriage between Christ and the church (Eph 5). Divorce wasn’t God’s plan, though He does allow it in cases of adultery because of the hardness of hearts. It’s no joking matter.

“He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” Matthew 19:8 ESV

“And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”” Malachi 2:13-16 ESV

This passage in Malachi really shows us the heart of the Father and how He regards divorce. Does it look like He finds it funny? Takes it lightly? Is totally fine with it? No. God takes marriage and divorce very seriously. He never wanted His children to experience the pain of divorce. He made them one flesh…if one flesh is torn in half, will that not cause pain and terrible scarring? Of course it does. It hurts the man and the woman. It breaks the heart of the children. Divorce is ugly and painful and violent and brokenness.

Understand that God does sometimes release people into divorce. For a man or woman who has experiences the horrific pain of having a spouse commit adultery, you do have the freedom Biblically to file for divorce. For people who are being abused, leaving for your own safety and the safety of your children is of course the right thing to do (though that might not include divorce). Yes, sometimes divorce is unavoidable, and we do not want our brothers and sisters walking around with their heads hanging low in shame because they could not save their marriage. There are some things that are out of our control. There is also grace and forgiveness. Still divorce is never something to be celebrated. So why do so many Christians approach it with such flippancy?

Here’s the thing…we live in a fallen world where people are exceedingly sinful and selfish. We all struggle with our sin nature. Sin is built upon notions of self-love, selfishness and self-pleasing. We build our dreams on the concept of entitlement. So we see record number of divorces happening all the time for reasons that do not match with God’s Word. Most of the time these are not people who are being abused or cheated on. They are simply unhappy. They have lost affection for their spouse. They argue and refuse give. They don’t feel their needs are being met. Christians who choose divorce without Biblical cause will often make light of it to make themselves feel better. We hear comments like:

I’m finally free to follow my own dreams.”

“Let’s throw a divorce party!”

“Yeah we both decided we would be happier as friends.”

“I deserve to be happy.”

“Me being happy will make my kids happy.”

“It all turned out for the best.”

“I just know God is cool with my divorce.”

This is the world talking. This is not the attitude of a person in sync with the heart of the Author of marriage. Marriage isn’t all about your happiness. It isn’t about what you deserve. Happiness doesn’t come from chasing dreams, but rather from chasing after God. No, the kids will not be happy if they are pulled away from a good and loving parent just because you will feel better. No, God is not happy with your divorce. He’s NEVER happy with divorce. He allows it for adultery, and He frees believers from marriage if their unbelieving spouse walks away, but He never rejoices in divorce. He’s never “ok” with it. It breaks His heart.

Christians need to stop making light of divorce. We need to stop making jokes about it. We need to be fighting for marriage and speaking the truth in love. We need to be encouraging people to try harder and praying for them. We need to disciple husbands and wives. When we have friends who are divorcing, we need to offer them support and love and take it seriously. There is grace. There is forgiveness. We need to love and care for those who had no choice but to divorce, and we need to do it with the seriousness that it deserves. It’s not a joke.

Divorce is a sad part of living in this fallen world. God doesn’t find it funny, and neither should we.

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An Emotional Affair to Remember….or Forget

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“We didn’t do anything so it’s no big deal.”

“It was never physical.”

“It’s not cheating if it’s just a crush.”

“There’s nothing wrong with looking if there’s no touching.”

.…..lies…lies…more lies.

Christians and non-Christians alike will almost always universally agree that committing a physical act of adultery is wrong. Cheating on one’s spouse is not acceptable in most social circles, and yet there seems to be this false line of thinking that deems it okay to have an emotional “fling” with someone other than one’s spouse. As Christians we know this isn’t right. Jesus set the boundaries in place when He said this:

“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

No, it’s not okay to have a crush. It’s not okay to fantasize about someone other than your husband (or wife). It’s not okay to look. Jesus said those who follow Him will not look with lustful eyes. It may be in the heart but the consequences usually leave the heart and become much more “real”. We see it in the world. We sense it in the church. Oftentimes the internal, invisible evidences of an emotional affair allow it to go unnoticed for a long time, but not forever. A person can keep an emotional affair well-hidden from their brothers and sisters in the Lord, and even from their spouse for a long while. Then, in what seems like a sudden tragedy, the dam bursts open and sin floods into families, homes and the church.

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” James 1:14-15

Sin begins in the heart folks. It begins in the deep, recesses of the heart where desire and longing simmer until they start to boil over. It becomes a stronghold for the enemy. It is adultery of the heart and it is sin. Make no mistake about it.

While statistics show men are usually more likely to commit physical adultery, women tend to be more prone to affairs of the heart. Call it what you will: a crush, attraction, a connection, a very close friendship taken too far, a fantasy….women who may feel less than fulfilled or satisfied at home may find their hearts straying, even if they are physically faithful to their husbands. It can start with a few flirting smiles, confiding in someone who seems more attentive and interested than the husband, or even just a strong attraction that leads you to fantasizing about being intimately acquainted with that person. It can start out so innocently and end up so tragically.

Guilty as Charged

It may sound like I’m being harsh. Well, there’s a reason. You see, I had an emotional affair once. Yes, I committed adultery of the heart, and it led me through a time of greater pain than I can even express. I can tell you that this sinful desire of the heart and strong emotions for a man that was not my husband brought me to a place of devastation as a Christian, a wife, a mother and in my calling in ministry. No, it never was physical. Yes, it was sin. Wicked, depraved, selfish, disgusting sin. As I look back, I see that the sin started in my heart but it seemed to build and build until I began to manifest it in other sinful actions. I began to become the “old” me…the person who had been freed from the chains of sin when I accepted Christ. While I loved my husband and my family, I found myself pushing them away. I saw myself changing into someone I barely knew. My desires overtook me and I fell back into the miry pit I had escaped by the grace of God so long ago.

No, it never was physical. It was adultery of the heart and it broke me and my husband. Praise be to God that He pulled me out again. He brought me to forgiveness. He empowered my husband to forgive me fully. I repented and was granted grace and mercy unspeakable! I am SO grateful! So thankful for this amazing grace. I praise my God with all that is in me that my family was not destroyed. God restored us to fullness and we are stronger now in Him than ever before. He has done amazing work here and has overcome in our hearts, our lives and our marriage. Hallelujah!

I want to make it clear, since this is a sensitive and personal issue, that my husband is a wonderful man whom I love dearly. I want to honor him, because he stuck by my side and forgave me for my offense against him. It killed me to see how much I had hurt him. I never wanted to hurt him, but sin hurts people. It hurts us and those around us. My husband is an amazing man and I just want to say here that I will never, ever stop thanking God for him and how he has forgiven and loved me!

A Warning

When I think of all I could have lost, it leaves me breathless. My husband could have chosen not to forgive me. My daughter could have experienced the pain of divorce that so many children go through. We could have destroyed our testimony forever and been unfit to minister. Oh, I shudder to think what might have happened because my heart allowed sin to enter in. God has been so good to us and so now I warn my sisters in the Lord not to allow emotional adultery into your heart. Flee from it with every fiber of strength! It is not innocent! It is not okay! It will destroy you like sin does!

I want to warn and admonish you, my sisters, to use caution and boundaries in your relationships outside of marriage. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Be cautious about building close friendships with men who are not your husband. You may think there’s nothing wrong with men and women being “best friends”, but the truth is that best friends share confidences and intimate details about their lives, and this can build feelings that you didn’t anticipate. Don’t confide in other men. Confide in your husband, your God and in Christian women you respect.
  2. Take sinful thoughts captive. When a thought enters your mind and heart that causes you to feel lustful or feelings of a romantic sort, immediately go to God for help. Cry out and ask God to help you capture and remove those thoughts and feelings. Read scripture. Sing worship. Talk to the Father. He will help you. If you need to, call a friend. Don’t allow those thoughts to simmer.
  3. Sometimes we need to break off unhealthy relationships. If you have a friend in your life that you find yourself attracted to, physically, emotionally or spiritually, it is sometimes necessary to stop seeing that person. You don’t have to be cruel about it. You don’t even have to tell them why. Your marriage and your walk with the Lord are more important. Be wise and be committed.
  4. Set up good boundaries. Make your own rules about what you should or shouldn’t do. For example, make a rule about not being alone in a private place with a man. Don’t confide your private feelings or emotions with a man other than your husband. Pray about it and make your own set of boundaries, and discuss them with your husband. It’d be wise for him to do the same.
  5. Don’t justify your sin. If you are having an emotional affair, a crush, or whatever you want to call it, don’t justify it. It’s sin. The Bible says it’s sin. Stop putting the words “innocent” and “crush” together. There’s no such thing for a married woman. You are cheating on your husband and it is sin in the eyes of the Lord. You need to repent and turn.
  6. Seek discipleship if this is an ongoing problem for you. If you are finding your heart straying often and you feel out of control, seek the counsel of a mature woman in the Lord who can disciple you in marriage and in what the Word says about matters of the heart. As you grow in the Lord, you will be more able to withstand and flee from these temptations.
  7. Work on your marriage. Let’s face it, if you’re having an emotional affair it’s likely that your marriage isn’t going well. Marriage is hard. It takes work and commitment. I’m married to the most wonderful, God-fearing man and yet we had problems. Thanks to God we were able to work through our issues and have grown tremendously in love and respect for one another. God has worked mightily in our marriage and we are happy. If you are struggling with an emotional longing for something else, what you really need to do is focus your heart on strengthening your marriage. Get help through your church if need be.
  8. If you are in a very bad marriage, where you are being mistreated and unloved, I understand complete why your heart would wander. My husband treats me wonderfully, but my parents had an awful marriage that ended in divorce. I’ve seen how hard marriage to an unloving and even abusive man can be. I want to encourage you that just because your husband is not treating you like he ought to or loving you the way you deserve doesn’t give you the right to have an emotional affair with someone else. I’m not saying this flippantly. I know it’s hard, but as long as you are married, having thoughts of intimacy or romantic love for another man is adultery of the heart, and God sees it as sin. It’s not ok. Seek help dear sister and be encouraged that God can work miracles.

I had an emotional affair. It was painful and horrific. It was sin that I have since repented of and been forgiven for. My incredible husband has shown me grace and love that is beyond what I could have hoped for and I am committed to never again betraying him or my Lord Jesus in this manner. I learned my lesson the hard way. I saw first hand the destruction that sins of the heart can bring. So now I have boundaries. Now I take my thoughts captive. Now I am willing not to have close relationships with people who may tempt me to stumble. What about you? How committed are you to your marriage? Your God? Your children?

Emotional adultery is sin. Repent. Flee.

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Too Much Self-Love Going On

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Ignacio Conejo via photopin cc

Self-love is a modern-day cover up. It’s a scam. It’s a cheap imitation for the love that is supposed to be filling our hearts. You see, self-love isn’t all it’s hyped up to be. Sure, you’ll hear the talk show hosts and the psychologists and the self-help gurus go on and on about it, claiming that self-love is all one needs to have peace in this life. They will tell you that loving yourself is the first priority…

“You need to take care of yourself….”

 

“All that matters is that you like yourself….”

 

“At the end of the day, you only answer to yourself….”
“Do what’s best for you…”

 

“You deserve to be happy…”

 

“You can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself….”

I’ve heard it all my life, and I’m sure you have too. In fact, maybe you’ve said these catchphrases to others at times. Maybe you believe them sincerely. I mean no disrespect or offense when I say that you’ve been greatly misled. Here are some of the reasons why self-love is not our friend, but actually oftentimes our enemy…

  1. Self-love is self-focus and leads to self-centeredness and selfishness. Now that’s a tongue-twister! Self-love is basically a means of shifting all of the focus to yourself. Your focus is on loving yourself so you think about yourself excessively. Since when is your life all about you? I tell you what, the people I’ve known in my life who are the most well-rounded, joyful and peaceful people are those who think very little about themselves. They are too busy being a blessing to others to spend hours and hours, day after day meditating on themselves. In shifting their focus to serving others and seeking the Lord, they find peace and contentment. Self-love makes people believe that it’s all about them. That’s not healthy and not pretty. It can definitely lead to a selfish kind of heart.
  2. Self-love ruins relationships and marriages. That’s right. People who say that you have to love yourself before you can love others are wrong. The ONLY way to truly love others is to lay down your life. The ONLY way to love your husband in the way that God commanded is to be willing to put his needs ahead of your own. The ONLY way to be a good mother is to love those children more than you love yourself. When people focus on self-love, they will eventually come to the conclusion that they are not being treated good enough in their marriage or that they are not being appreciated enough by their kids. We see people committing adultery. We see mothers abandoning their children and running off with a lover. We see men and women filing for divorce like it’s the same as trading in an old car. These are the acts of selfish, self-centered, and self-loving people. They love themselves more than the people they should be giving their lives for, and the result is pain and suffering. In friendship, it gets real old when one friend is constantly talking about herself and never has time to listen, doesn’t it? Self-love destroys relationships and families.
  3. Self-love focus is anti-Biblical.

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” 1 Timothy 3:1-5

 

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” Matthew 16:24-25

 

Over and over throughout scripture we are told to love God, love others and serve. We are never told to love ourselves….not once! The truth of the matter is there is no need. It is assumed that we love ourselves because loving ourselves is part of our nature. When God commands us to love others as ourselves, He is assuming (and God’s never wrong) that we do love ourselves. So, you and I already love ourselves plenty. Why do I sometimes hate the person that I am, you may ask? Well, sometimes we hate the sin in ourselves, especially when we have received the Holy Spirit and are filled with conviction.

Sometimes we hate the circumstances of our lives…things that have been done to us or the situation we find ourselves in regarding health, finances, etc. We hate our lives but we don’t hate ourselves. Sometime we really honestly do feel hatred toward ourselves, but the truth is, if we didn’t care about ourselves we wouldn’t feel such strong feelings. We would be indifferent. See, hatred isn’t the opposite of love. Indifference is the opposite of love. The truth is that we love ourselves, and therefore when we hated the circumstances we are in or the person we have become, we feel it strongly.

Friends, there is enough self-love going on. It is leading to divorce. It is leading to worldly pleasures. It leads to people living lives of self-contemplation and missing out on the joy of taking up God’s great commission. We have so much work to do, sisters. We have a world full of lost souls who need Jesus. We have people to minister to. We need to stop looking in the mirror all the time and start looking around us. I guarantee you, when you start looking at others instead of yourself, you’ll be a happier person. In fact, when you let go of your need for self-love, and you focus on God-love and loving your neighbors, you are going to end up liking the person that you are in a true way. That’s the key.

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How Does Divorce Affect the Kids?

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There’s no one answer that will cover all situations and circumstances when it comes to how divorce affects children. There are certainly circumstances in cases of various forms of abuse when children are better off living with one single parent than in a dangerous environment with both. Having said that, I’ve spent many years studying piles of statistics and reports showing with an overwhelming certainty that children of divorce suffer. Since around half of all children will at some point in their lives see the divorce of their parents (and half of those experience multiple divorces with parents), we are literally raising a generation of young people who have far more challenges, setbacks and long-lasting emotional baggage than our grandparents did. Just think of that for a moment. Half of the children today will be suffer from the affects of divorce, which often includes relationship problems themselves. The covenant of marriage may literally be going extinct.

Before going on, I want to make it perfectly clear that I am in no way trying to bring hurt and lay guilt upon those parents who have gone through divorce. Not at all. If you are reading this and feeling judged, please understand that this is not my intention and I am not judging you. Believe me, I understand very well the horrible kinds of situations you may be living in. I understand the hurt of unloving marriages. I understand what neglect looks like. I know how hard it is when two people are unequally yoked in their faith and unevenly matched in their personalities.

To prove that I’m not judging you, I’ll confess here that my own marriage has been difficult. My husband and I got married quickly without taking time to get to know each other. While my husband is a great man, a wonderful and loving father and an attentive, affectionate husband, we have faced many challenges. We don’t match up like some couples do. We don’t think the same way. What has kept us together these years, and kept our home a place of peace, love and encouragement for our daughter, is that we love Jesus Christ, believe that He desires marriage to be for life, trust Him that He will honor our obedience and we lay aside our own issues to walk in love and unity. We may not have started out with a fiery love, but we have grown in a deep love and commitment for one another. Sure, we could have just gotten divorced when we realized we were not so well-matched, but when I look at my daughter and how she smiles at us when Mommy and Daddy cuddle on the couch, I know it’s worth it. We have been blessed and we love each other, but it’s been hard work and it has required sacrifice of what we think we deserve in marriage sometimes. God is faithful.

That being said, let’s talk about the kids of divorce. The statistics show with no uncertainty that the majority of kids coming from homes of divorce suffer emotionally, academically, financially and even physically. I won’t get into a bunch of statistics here, but if you have the time and are interested, take a look at some of the links below. The information is both alarming and disappointing. You can argue about individual circumstances, but the truth is the children suffer.

Most kids from homes of divorce suffer immediate and long-term affects. They struggle in school keeping grades up. They often drop out of sports and extra curricular activities. They tend to experience emotional problems such as with depression, guilt, confusion and instability. They often cannot comprehend why it is happening. Many times they lose a relationship with one of the parents altogether. When parents start to date other people, they suffer with bitterness, jealousy and anger. They feel replaced or rejected.

Teens of divorce tend to get into more trouble. They are more likely to experiment with drugs, alcohol and sex early on. They may look to fill that sense of emptiness within them with unhealthy and unsatisfying substitutes. Some run away from home. Teen pregnancy is more common. Some end up in juvenile detention.

Children of divorce often grow up to be people who are insecure and anxious. They are unhappy in relationships and don’t have a sense of what family should look like. They tend to need counseling and therapy well into their adult years. They are more likely to experience divorce themselves or to never want to marry. They have essentially lost faith in the institute of marriage. Some continue the unhealthy lifestyles they may have flirted with in the teen years. The prisons are full of men and women who grew up without a father in the home. The statistics and numbers prove this.

At the end of the day, one can’t ignore the facts. In the majority of cases, divorce is not the best solution for the kids involved. In the majority of cases, parents are choosing to serve their own interests rather than those of their kids. In pursuit of their own happiness, they are failing to see what it is doing to the little ones in their care. Children need both parents. They need stability. They need to see how God’s model of family should look. Children are better when parents make it work. There used to be a saying that kids are happy when parents are happy. That’s just not the case. Kids are happy when parents love each other. They are happy when parents respect each other. They are blessed when parents follow the Word of God and what it says about marriage and family.

Today, and always, I’m praying for marriage. Praying for people to not give up so easily. Praying for people to work hard at it and to lay aside their own feelings if need be. I’m praying for Jesus to be the focus of the home and the Bible to direct the household. I’m praying for kids of divorce to be sheltered from the pain and aftermath. Praying for them to experience healing. Praying for them to break the cycles of divorce in their own lives.

This generation is different than any other. It is filled with young people who have experienced the pain of divorce. If the cycles continue, the years to come will bring even more of a breakdown in marriage and family. Yes, we are seeing the dawn of the extinction of marriage. We need to fight back. If you are reading this and you are considering divorce, please pray. Please get wise counsel from someone who believes the whole Bible. Please know that there is hope for reconciliation in Jesus. If you’d like to speak to me, feel free to contact me at chelsea_mccafferty @ yahoo.com (without spaces). God bless you!

Statistics

18 Shocking Children and Divorce Statistics

Focus on the Family – How Could Divorce Affect My Kids?

Divorce Statistics

Josh McDowell’s Blog – Broken Home, Broken Kids

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A Keeper of Your Vows

The Word of God has a lot to say about the importance of a person keeping his or her word and living up to their commitments:

   “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37

            “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.” Proverbs 12:22

            “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds…” Colossians 3:9

            “If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” Numbers 30:2

A vow is a promise. When a woman breaks her wedding vows, she is breaking the promises she has made to her husband, the witnesses and her God. There is no sugar-coating this fact. A vow is a serious matter. Let your “yes” be “yes”. Lying lips are an abomination. Do not lie to one another. If a man (or woman) makes a vow to the LORD….he (she) shall do according to all that proceeds out of his (her) mouth. This is what God’s Word says on the matter.

In case there is anyone who is misled into thinking that the vows she pledged at her wedding were to her husband alone, I encourage you sister to bring to remembrance that a wedding vow is always made in the presence of God, whether it be in a church or a courthouse. The moment you spoke those wedding vows to your husband, you were married in the eyes of the Lord. He took every word you uttered seriously that day. The question is, did you?

That’s a question we wives have to ask ourselves when we are tempted to break our vows in any way. I know I have had to ask myself this question from time to time. I have had to meditate on the importance of my vows and remember that I was speaking those vows to God and my husband alike. The truth is, keeping those vows for a lifetime is no easy undertaking. We see that every time there’s a news article reporting the upsetting divorce rate. That’s why we have to be reminded of the value of a vow and to whom we have made those vows. When the storms come and the home is being rattled and shaken, will be keep our vows to the Lord? When our husbands are not living up to their part of the deal, will we keep our vows to the Lord? When we face a life that is not what we anticipated, will we keep our vows to the Lord? That’s the question that matters most.

If a vow is a promise, and one that is made to spouse, witnesses and God Himself, then what is the penalty for breaking that promise? What can we expect to be the consequences of breaking our vow to the Lord? Just like with any other sin that we allow to enter into our lives, one who breaks her marriage vows will no doubt feel a great hindrance in her relationship with the Lord. Sin hinders our prayer life and quenches the Spirit.

Not only are their spiritual consequences to sin, but history and statistics have shown us that those who break their wedding vows and divorce their spouse oftentimes suffer from hardships, depression, loss of other familial relationships and more. Children of divorced parents usually have a hard time in school, struggle with thoughts of guilt and depression, sometimes lose contact with at least one parent and often have trouble maintaining healthy relationships themselves later in life.

Am I proclaiming that these trials will come to all those who divorce their spouses for reasons that are not permitted in the Word of God? Of course not. I pray these hardships do not come to pass, but they do nonetheless. One thing I find to be particularly troubling is that Christians who divorce seem to suffer a great deal more than unbelievers who divorce, generally-speaking. Perhaps this is because Christians are held to a higher accountability, as Jesus often spoke of in the Word.

“When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.” Deuteronomy 23:21-23

“When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.” Ecclesiastes 5:4-5

It’s quite clear throughout scripture that making a vow, oath or promise before the Lord and failing to live up to it is sin. A wedding vow is no different. While a wedding vow may seem to some to be nothing more than a sweet declaration of love for another, it is far more. It is a spoken contract that should be entered into when a person is thoroughly dedicated and committed to fulfilling those vows.  We come back to that ever-lingering question: will we keep our vows to the Lord?

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Do Christians Focus Too Much on Marriage?

I have heard more than a couple times people criticizing some Christians and churches for focusing too much on the God-given and God-designed union of marriage. I’ve heard people make statements like, “oh it’s all about marriage at that church” or “they elevate marriage too much.” I wanted to address the issue of why marriage is an important topic to discuss, but first I’d like to talk about why there are people who seem to be offended by too much marriage talk.

People like myself, who feel called to the ministry of marriage, may sometimes struggle with being understanding of a person who seems almost anti-marriage. The truth in most cases is those who have a hard time with a church or a group focusing a lot on marriage  are usually people who are single, widowed or in a lonely, struggling marriage. It’s important that instead of getting frustrated, we understand that these ladies are going through pain. Perhaps hearing about marriage all of the time and seeing married couples always clinging to each other causes them to long even more for that relationship. Perhaps it makes them mourn for a lost love. Even worse, it reminds them that they feel trapped in an unloving marriage. Sometimes there is a problem with the church not meeting the needs of ALL the members. The singles and widows need focus too. They need ministry and opportunities to serve too.

I think I understand their perspective more so being a woman who has struggled with infertility. While children are such a blessing, and I was always happy for a sister in the Lord who had a baby, there was also such hurt and longing in me that it was sometimes difficult to be around pregnant women or people with babies. It was hard to see the children being such a focus when I couldn’t have any. I’m so grateful now for my precious little girl –  a gift straight from God! I do, however, see how a single person or widow would feel neglected and hurt by a church family that focused all its attention on marriage.

That being said, while I feel we should not neglect or ignore anyone, there is an important place for marriage. Here are some reasons why marriage is an extremely important issue to focus on:

1. Marriage is Gift from God: God focuses a lot on relationships in the Bible, and He speaks a great deal on the topic of marriage. He created marriage in the book of Genesis and He make it sacred. He made it to be a lifelong covenant, and in Malachi 2 we see that God hates the act of divorcing. When Jesus is asked about divorce in Matthew 19:8, He said that divorce was allowed because of the hardening of hearts, but from the beginning it was not so. God never wanted divorce. That’s why marriage vows typically say “til death do we part”, and yet to some 41-44% of couples who marry today, those are just empty words.

2. Christian marriage produces godly offspring: In talking about marriage Malachi said, “But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring.” Malachi 2:15a. Christian marriage is important to the youth of this generation. According to the US Census Bureau, grown children of happily married parents are about 14% less likely to divorce their own spouse. Of all children, close to half will witness the end of their parents’ marriage and, of those kids, half of them will witness the end of a parent’s second marriage as well. According to an article by the Huffington post, children of divorce are seven times more likely to suffer from depression. Also, of all the adolescents in substance rehabilitation clinics, some 75% are from single-parent homes. Similar statistics are true for prison. Marriage is important because a godly marriage is good for children.

3. Marriage is a reflection of our relationship with God: Ephesians 5 and other parts of scripture show us that earthly marriage is a reflection of the relationship of Christ and the church. We are the bride and He is the Bridegroom. “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” Revelation 21:9

4. A godly marriage is a requirement for church leadership, elders/pastors and deacons. (Titus 1:6, 1 Tim 3:2, 1 Tim 3:12). A man whose home in not in order should not be serving in church leadership until he puts things right. That means a wife who is not living her life according to God’s statutes can disqualify her husband from leadership by her conduct. Does this mean that a man has to be married to serve? We don’t know if the emphasis of the verses in on the “one” wife or “husband”. In other words, is it important that he’s married, or just that he only has one as opposed to many? Well, God said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone and he needed a helper. On the other hand, Paul said that some are called to singleness. So, the answer is: I don’t know. What we do know for certain is that if a man is married, and he wants to serve in ministry, he should have his home in order.

5. Sex: That’s right! “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:2 According to God’s Word, sexual intimacy is only good and right inside the union of marriage. Today more and more couples choose to live together and put off getting married. They are living in sexual sin because marriage has lost its place of importance to much of the younger generation. Today people are shocked when two virgins in their twenties get married. It’s rare for people to hold onto their purity. So it’s important to focus on marriage and to teach the young people that sex is only okay inside marriage.

There are many more reasons that marriage is an important topic, but this is quite a long blog already. While we need to be careful not to exclude singles and our widows, we also need to focus even more on the union of marriage. We know that it’s important to God, so it should be important to us too.

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The Violent Nature of Divorce

“So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:6

There’s no doubt that divorce is a painful event in a person’s life. It can cause trauma, suffering, stress and oftentimes depression. It is even worse when there are children caught in the middle. Parents aren’t only mourning the loss of their marriage, but also worrying about the emotional affects on their children. There is sometimes guilt and regret. There is always pain. Why? Why is divorce so painful? Why does it cause long-lasting scars?

Before I answer that question, I first want to say to those who have been through a divorce that I’m so sorry for the pain you’ve experienced. As I write this, I’m keenly aware that there are many people who tried to save their marriages but couldn’t. There are women whose husbands walked out on them. There are men whose wives left them, like Hosea’s did. There are women who have had to flee for their very lives and the protection of their children. I know all too well that there are situations that are very complex. I say this because I never want my posts to feel like an attack on people who have lost their marriage. I feel for you and pray for you, even as I write this. The Lord is near the brokenhearted. He brings comfort and restoration and peace, so cling to Him!

Now, back to the question at hand. Why is divorce so ugly? Why is it so painful? The truth is, at the very root and concept of divorce, is violence. The act of divorce is a violent one, according to God’s Word. In other words, the destruction of a marriage is a lot like a violent attack on a person. Review the verse above from Matthew 19. God made them one flesh. One flesh. No longer two individual people but one unit. He meant it to be a beautiful union, and praise the Lord that for many couples it is! One flesh. What does divorce do to that one flesh? It rips it apart. It’s violent. It’s so sad.

“”For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.”” Malachi 2:16

In Malachi God says that He hates divorce because it covers one’s clothing with violence. The Hebrew word for “violence” can translate into: “violence, wrong, cruelty and injustice”.   Some people will read this and feel offended. They will say that they know God blessed their divorce and that He gave them peace about getting divorced. Well, I can see how God, the Father of all grace and mercy would bring peace and comfort to someone hurting from the pain of divorce. Yes, He is so merciful! He is so graceful! He is so good to us. However, the God of the Bible is not only a God of love…He is also a God of justice. He is holy. He is righteous. The God of the Bible would never guide His children into divorce. If divorce makes a person’s garments stained with violence and injustice, then the God of the Bible wouldn’t approve of that, would He? It goes against His very character. He will, however, clean the stains off a repented person later by blood of the Lamb. He will forgive. He will cleanse. He’s so good.

We have to stop softening divorce. It’s not pretty. It’s not amiable. It’s not a “friendly” divorce. Divorce, by it’s very nature, rips one flesh to pieces. That’s violent, wrong and unjust. Thank the Lord that those who have been through divorce can run to Him for His healing touch. For those who do have a chance to save your marriage, don’t stop trying. Don’t give up. The God who created the universe has the ability to work a miracle in your marriage. Just seek Him with everything that’s inside you and follow His Word.

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