Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Oct 04

Hello Friends! I hope everyone is well! The last post I explained the importance of meditating on what was said in order to gain a greater understanding and perspective. It is vitally important to meditate if we want to deepen our intimacy with our spouse and especially with God, because it allows us to know them better.

The biggest difference between a marriage and any other relationship is trust. A marriage was set up by God to give you a safe place to be intimate and exposed. Like the garden in the beginning, God created man to have an intimate relationship with Him, without even the slightest mistrust or fear. Adam and Eve were naked and didn’t even know it. They had complete access to God and all God had created was given into their care. The trust went both ways and was unhindered by lies, deceptions, darkness, and adulteries. There was open and honest communication in the garden. It wasn’t until lies, disobedience, mistrust, and deception creeped in that the relationship began to deteriorate.

He created marriage (in the garden before the fall) to give us a safe place to be our truest selves. We should be able to expose our hearts, our secrets, our insecurities, and our regrets to our spouse without fear of judgement. Notice I say should…..but it is not always that way, is it? I know for me, my husband and I messed it up so many times. My husband would try to explain something to me so I could really understand how he felt, and I would jump all over him. I would tell him he shouldn’t feel that way or I would somehow make him feel stupid for it. I was not a very compassionate person. He was the one who taught me how to listen with compassion. He explained to me that it was not his job to judge me but to love me through it and allow God to work on me as I brought what was hidden in the darkness out into the light. He gave me a platform to verbalize my insecurities, confess my sins, and get to the heart of the matter.

What does it mean to get to the heart of the matter? Let me give an example. I used to smoke cigarettes regularly. I started when I was very young, right around the time that life began to get hard and I had to grow up. It quickly became my coping mechanism. For years, everything that was bad that happened in the day to day was stuffed down into my lungs. So….on July 1 2007 I decided to quit. I had a renewed passion for the Lord and I felt God pressing me to do it. Boy oh boy how the anxiety grew with each passing day of not smoking. Of course, on the surface I thought it was just from the cigarettes, and I believed that when it was all out of my system I would not feel the anxiety anymore. That was not the case, however, and there were many things that triggered my anxiety until finally on day I just picked up the bad habit all over again. I would tell myself, “I need them. I’m addicted” What a lie that was! The truth is I needed to go back and deal with my past. I had to face some things that had happened and get healing from God. The smoking was surface level. The real problem was much deeper, in the darkness, in hidden places. I didn’t even know how to handle it.

So….I laid them down again (the cigarettes) and started on a journey that forever changed my life. I decided in my heart that I was going to fully expose my heart and my past to God, ugly as it was, and let Him have His way. If you have ever done a spring cleaning you know, it is always messier before it is cleaner. I spent many months crying myself to sleep and not even knowing why. I asked forgiveness for many things. I felt the deepest despair I will ever know. I was lost….or so I thought. The whole time my husband helped me process what I was going through. It was certainly not always convenient (at 3am) and not easy for him to remain positive with me spewing out negativity, but then something began to change without me even being fully aware of it. My burden was lighter and lighter. The pit in my stomach that had been there forever was suddenly gone. Hope began to rise up as the Lord was healing the deepest parts of me.

My husband and I did this for each other for over two years. It was not an overnight thing, and it was not pretty, but God brought beauty from ashes. He taught me that the biggest blessing in marriage is that you have someone who will stick by you and love you no matter what, and that kind of love conquers all fear. The hardest thing in communicating with your spouse is to get to the heart of the matter because our inner voice tells us that it will not go well for us if we do that. I am here to say, that voice is lying to you to keep your secrets hidden. As long as they are hidden you can not get the healing you most desire. Satan works in dark places where there is no hope and no love, no compassion and no healing. Our God is a loving, compassionate God and He alone can heal.

It is not the job of our spouse to heal us. It is not their job to judge us. We are responsible to love each other as Christ loved the church. This relationship was designed by God to give us a companion to walk out this journey with us. A great way to look at it is to realize that since God brings us together and makes us “one” then each of our deepest hurts, desires, regrets, secrets, insecurities, hopes, fears, and the like affect both people. To the extent that we can deal with those things is the extent that we can both experience healing and the fullest measure of joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self control. It is just as much to your benefit as it is to theirs to give your spouse a platform whereby they can be vulnerable with you (and vice versa).

I know this is deep, but this is getting to the heart of the matter. Nothing can be fixed if we are unable or unwilling to look at the real problems. Many times, what we think is the problem is just the beginning. Let God go deeper, and trust Him, because it may look ugly, but it won’t stay ugly. “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” (John 8:12 NIV) And later He goes on to say “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36 NIV) God Bless!

Sep 30

Hello friends! In my last post I discussed the importance of listening to our spouse in a way that gives us the ability to understand their perspective. When we are listening we only have the ability to make a quick analysis before the other person continues to talk. We cannot really consider what is being said in the moment, so we need to go back and really think about it. Typically, men are better at this than women. It is lovingly referred to as them being in their man cave. This involves a period of time where the couple does not talk, but reflects on what has been said in order to gain perspective, understanding, and a broader context than our own narrow viewpoint.

So, what does meditation have to do with communication? Well, everything really! Without going back and reflecting on what’s been said we become stuck in a cycle in our minds, replaying the same arguments or our same reasoning, but getting nowhere on resolving the problem.

God gives us great insight in how meditation is significant in our relationship with Him. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Joshua 1:8 says, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Psalm 1:1-3 says, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked, or stand in the way that sinners take, or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not whither-whatever he does prospers.”

If you notice, every verse here on meditation comes with a promise. If you are transformed by the renewing of your mind you will know God’s will for your life. If you meditate on God’s word you will be prosperous and successful. If you delight and meditate on God’s law, whatever you do will prosper. These promises are true always!!! We then know that if we go back and really think about what God is saying in His word after we have read it, He will be faithful to renew our minds and give us insight into His desires, His commands, His heart. Because marriage is a reflection of this amazing relationship we can have with God, the same concept remains true of our marital communication. If we go back and think about what has been said, God will be faithful to renew our minds, give us fresh insight and perspective on the situation, and help us to move past our own shortcomings and limited knowledge so we can resolve the deeper issues and so our marriages can prosper!! The principle of meditation is this: if you take the time to really understand what is being said, then you will prosper. Simple right?

We complicate this simple truth by the pride of our own hearts in believing that we are always right. If I am right, then the other person must be wrong….or so we think. However, what I have learned is that my husband and I are almost always both right……

How can that be? Because we both have different perspectives of the same thing. For example, If you and your spouse sit at a table across from one another and you place a Cheerios box on the table in between you, each of you would describe the cheerios box differently. One person would say, ” This is Cheerios, it is good for your heart, the picture shows a big bowl with little ring shapes in white stuff.” The other could easily conclude they are totally wrong. Why? Because they can’t see that side of the box. They see the more technical side like a process describing how cheerios are made. They both agree the box contains cheerios, but disagree on the facts. They are both right, they are just seeing it from two different angles. When they go back and think about what has been said, the second person can say…”oh, actually, the way they are made and the ingredients that are in cheerios actually supports the notion that they are heart healthy, and that they are shaped like rings. Hmmmm” Different perspectives on the same thing.

To conclude, God made us man and woman so that when you put us together we gain a better perspective on things. We think differently on purpose. It’s the way we were created. By listening to our spouse and meditating on what they have said, we actually grow and prosper in our marriage and beyond. The purpose of God putting a man and a woman together is to help each other reach both of our God-given potentials. He gives me insights for my husband that help him grow and vice versa. What results is a deeper intimacy and love between us as well as everything we do prospers! What a loving God! God Bless You!

Sep 26

Hello my friends! I am excited to share with you some important lessons God has shown me in His word on the importance of communication within our marriages and how He designed it to work properly. This is going to be the first of several postings on communication so stay tuned!

My husband and I have done our fair share of fighting, let me tell you! I have noticed that when we get into it and go round for round, we tend to keep saying the same things over and over, sometimes in different ways, but nothing gets resolved. Why is that? We are just like a broken record, and an annoying one at that. As we prayed for help from the Lord, we began to realize that we were so much more interested in being heard than in hearing the other person. It was very important to me that my husband listened, understood, and validated my position or I would remain miserable and defensive. And, as long as I was defensive my walls were up and my ears were shut.

The Lord began to show me that communicating with my husband was a reflection of my prayer life with Him. I did a lot of talking, asking God for things, looking to God for help, and wanting to see answers to prayers. I wanted to do all the talking and I wanted Him to do all the changing that needed to be done in my world. Notice I said my world? And when it didn’t happen, communication would stop….I mean what is the use of praying if we are not going to see answers to those prayers right? My prayer life was totally one sided…what kind of relationship is that???

You see, communicating with God and communicating with our spouse go hand in hand. To communicate effectively, we must close our mouths…yes I said it…keep them shut…and begin to listen. Listen intently and open our hearts to understanding and validating what is being said, not just verbally, but the feelings behind the words. How can we say we have a relationship with God if we can’t hear Him speak to us? How do we know His love for us without hearing the tone of his Word? How do we understand His heart for our situation without giving Him input?

The same principle can be applied to our communication with our spouse. How can we expect them to listen to us and validate our feelings when we do not listen to them and validate their feelings? I have learned something in all the times my husband and I have really fought. I know I’m right…and so does he. But sometimes it is better to be happy than it is to be right. Many times I thought I knew what he was saying, and my perspective on it would be very negative. But once I stopped and really listened and tried to put myself in his shoes to fully understand where he was coming from, I realized my perspective was far off. Once my perspective changed we were able to move forward. Once my views on it changed then my husband began to soften his views and we were able to come to compromises and change together the things that needed to change in order for our marriage to be something we both wanted. BTW…this went both ways. Sometimes it was his perspective that changed first, but God always worked it out. It is the Lord that changes hearts.

So…if you are struggling either in communication with your spouse or with your Bridegroom Christ, take a step back and change how you are going about it. It is the first step in breaking a bad cycle. It doesn’t matter who initiates the change in the marriage, just that someone does it. Stop arguing and listen.

On a very practical note, here are a couple of things to try.

  1. Ask Questions: seek to understand a point more deeply by asking them clarifying questions.
  2. Watch your tone: if you want them to open up you need to welcome them to do so without judgement or anger
  3. Repeat back to them what you think the are saying: sometimes things will be said and the other person will imply something unsaid.
  4. Do not interrupt: let them finish their thought.
  5. When the conversation is over, think about what they said: Meditating on it will help you to better understand their perspective.

Listening is the best way to begin to communicate differently. My husband and I have something we always try to do. We spend one day intentionally putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes so when we come back to discuss the matter we can do so with fresh perspective.

Next time I’m going to talk about the importance of meditation in communication, but for now I’ll leave you with this, in John 10:27 Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” James 1:19-21 says, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” This principle of listening first is universal, and will work. Try it and see the hand of the Almighty begin to move on your behalf. God Bless you!!