Morning friends,

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I’m in California visiting my sweet granddaughters. Two of them have birthdays this month so we are celebrating at Disney, a child’s favorite place to be.

Instead of answering a question this week I want to talk a little bit about how important it is that we learn to live from our CORE instead of our emotions. No one naturally lives out of CORE strength.

Yesterday while at Disney I found myself getting irritated at the long lines, frustrated with the time it took to get a simple ticket or to open a tamper proof package of Mickey Mouse lollipops I bought for the kids. In these minor moments, I did not practice CORE strength very well. Inside I felt irritable and judgmental.

It gave me so much compassion for you as you struggle to practice living from you CORE every day with not only minor irritants but major abuse, indifference, pornography and deceit.

Remember, CORE strength is something we must practice if we want to be emotionally healthy, spiritually mature and have good relationships with other people.

The Bible tells us to put off anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from our lips. We’re not to lie to each other. Instead we are to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We’re to bear with each other and forgive one another and over all just love (Colossians 3:8-15). These are not just words, but practices we embrace as we seek to know God and become more and more like him.

If CORE strength is a new concept for you, let me review the four points I teach in my book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.

C – I am COMMITTED to honesty – no more pretending.
O – I will be OPEN to the Holy Spirit, and wise others to teach me new ways of thinking, feeling and responding.
R – I will be RESPONSIBLE for myself and RESPECTFUL towards others without dishonoring myself.
E – I will be EMPATHIC and compassionate towards others without ENABLING abusive behavior to continue.

Just like we need to strengthen our physical core (the area from your ribs to your hips including your spine and pelvic region) so that we maintain good posture and have the ability to keep our balance, we need to build and strengthen our internal CORE muscles. We don’t want to lose our balance or find our emotional spine curling inward when life’s hardships or difficult people tempt us to become just like them.

It is also important to note that when we live with people who are abusive, it’s almost impossible to not be personally affected and infected. Proverbs reminds us that bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33). When we live with an argumentative, judgmental, harsh or abusive person, it’s very likely that we will also start lobbing some verbal bombs of our own. Over time we may find ourselves turning into a person we don’t like very much. We’ve lost our balance and our internal posture is no longer attractive – especially to ourselves.

We are all imperfect, immature, and sinful individuals. People will let us down, irritate us, and don’t always do what we wished he or she would do or even what God says he or she should do, like be honest or faithful. When this happens, what happens to us inside? Naturally we react with negative emotions and thoughts of anger, irritation, fear, contempt, insecurity, disgust, hurt, sadness, or confusion. We will have negative emotions, but learning to live from CORE means that our emotions don’t have us.

Responding from our CORE instead of our negative emotions takes intentionality, hard work, and repeated practice (tweet that).

It means we are honest with what we feel, but responsible for how we process our emotions and express them towards others.

We don’t do it in a disrespectful way because that’s not who we are, or who we want to be. When we slip and act selfish, mean-spirited, or harsh or judgmental, we own it, apologize where needed, and self-correct like I had to do yesterday at Disney.

On this blog, we receive a variety of comments. I welcome people who think differently or challenge what I say or write things I may not understand.

When reading some people’s remarks (including mine) you too may feel some negative emotions and experience some judgmental thoughts. This is normal. We all do it. But before you react, take a moment to process why you are feeling and thinking this way. If you choose to respond in writing, I’d love for you practice expressing yourself from your CORE instead of just reacting out of your emotions.

Before you press send take a moment to reread your response. Ask yourself these questions. “How would I feel if someone said this to me? Is this the best way I know how to express what I am feeling? Is it coming from the person I want to be or out of my initial negative emotions?”

Remember, The Bible tells us “Life and death is in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) and “Reckless words pierce like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18). Many of you have been deeply wounded from the reckless words of people in your life, please let’s be careful not to wield the sword ourselves towards one another.

If you don’t know how to express yourself from your CORE, you may find it helpful to be a part of one of my coaching groups to learn healthier communication strategies. But below is a simple way you can practice.

Speak for yourself – for example, “I feel (name a feeling) when you say or do (specific action or word or behavior). Then ask for the specific change you’d like if needed.

Here are a few examples: I feel angry (or hurt) when you call me stupid or oversensitive. Please stop calling me names (CORE).

I get lost when your conversations or responses are so long. It’s much easier for me to follow when there are shorter responses. Could you please try to be more concise? (CORE).

I feel irritated when you judge other people on this blog as non-Christians or unloving, or ungodly. I don’t think that is helpful here. Please stop (CORE).

In each of these examples, you are being truthful about your own feelings or perspective and saying some hard things, but you are not doing it harshly by putting someone down or judging their motives or character.

Here’s an example of what is not CORE talk, but rather attack talk. “I feel you are insensitive and insecure and don’t know how to communicate.”

Instead of saying how you feel, you are actually judging (insensitive and insecure) and instead of describing a behavior you don’t like or would like to see changed, you are diagnosing someone’s problem. This only creates defensiveness in the other person and immediately halts constructive communication.

I love the virtuous women description in Proverbs 31:25 where it says, “strength and dignity are her clothing and she smiles at the future.”

Ladies I want that for me. I want that for you. Let’s develop good strength – CORE strength – that will help us respond with dignity when we are provoked, irritated, hurt, angry or disappointed.

Remember, we may not always live with an abusive person, but we always will live with ourselves. Let’s become the person God calls us to be.

Friends, how do you remember to practice CORE strength, especially when you are tired, or crabby or not in such a good space?

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70 Comments

  1. Survivor on October 7, 2015 at 8:06 am

    This is timely for me. This week, my husband is at a week-long intensive Christian counseling center in NC. I am a mixture of excited and afraid. I REALLY want to see real and lasting change begin. On the other hand, I have been hopeful before only to have my hopes dashed and I am so afraid of that happening again. And, he has professed change so many times when it wasn’t that I am sure I will feel skeptical if he comes home with glowing stories!!! Currently trying to sort out feelings and determine what would be an appropriate response for the situation!!!!!! ~feeling overwhelmed~

    • Leslie Vernick on October 7, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      Survivor, next week’s newsletter article will be on How do You know When Someone is Truly Sorry. I think it will give you some clues to gauge your husband’s change.

      • Survivor on October 7, 2015 at 9:38 pm

        I am eager to read it!!!! I have seen some lists of things to look for, and he has even learned–through years of counseling–to demonstrate some of those things and still not be truly sorry. It gets really confusing. But I do see where his actions totally do not match up to his words and I have told him that I hear what he is saying but I am having a really hard time believing his words because actions are indicating otherwise. He becomes very angry and acts like I am persecuting him when I say these things. And yet, he can flip around the other way and actually DO some of the things that could indicate a repentant heart……for awhile anyway……and then it always seems that the cycle comes back around again. Those are the discouraging times and I wonder if I am crazy for ever believing him, or if he really is trying and failing…….

        • Leonie on October 8, 2015 at 10:30 am

          They are so quick to claim they have changed but you need to plug your ears to his words and just observe his actions. Don’t let him tell you, it should be you telling him – if you sense a change in him. I recall those glowing stories, and then within a short time my husband was blaming me – I changed but you ruined it??? I was fine until you came home …
          It is easy to romance a new young girlfriend but can he treat his family, his wife and the mother of his children and the woman he has spent the years with, can he treat her well? Only you can say if that is happening over the long term. He will probably be on a high when he gets back but he doesn’t get to boast about changing until he has put in the work and consistently shown the results. I am praying for you, you have been through so much already, may God be your strength!

          • Survivor on October 8, 2015 at 3:20 pm

            Yes, Leonie! That is so true!!! My dad keeps telling me that the first indicator of TRUE change in him will be when he learns to ‘shut up’, as he so aptly puts it, and let his change speak for itself instead of trying to force everyone to see it!!!



        • Elizabeth on October 8, 2015 at 3:45 pm

          Hi Survivor, Leonie is right that only you get to say if he has really changed. I agree with her that it must over a long, long period of time. Again only you get to say how long. It is this long term change that comes from a heart change. A heart that is no longer focused on him and his comfort but on loving and pleasing God, alone. It is really not about you or any other family member either. If his heart is changed with God, He will produce the fruit that is lasting and glorifying to God not him. Please do not be in a hurry. Take your time, waiting on God to show you. And do not be afraid to kindly speak the truth about what you are seeing. His response to your push back will tell you volumes about his heart and if there is real change. Praying for you Survivor. You will make it…..

  2. Mary2 on October 7, 2015 at 8:11 am

    I try to bear in mind ‘WWJD” 🙂 TRY, (should be underlined) – and the learning that, no matter what – we can actually choose our response, even if it’s just to walk away

    • Leslie Vernick on October 7, 2015 at 6:57 pm

      The ability to choose our own way in any given circumstance is crucial to our own emotional and mental health. It doesn’t mean all options are available to us – such as those who are prisioners. But it does mean we can always choose our attitude in any given circumstance OR be ruled and controlled by our immediate emotional reaction. The more we exercise choice, the stronger we are.

      • Maria on October 7, 2015 at 7:42 pm

        The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.” Chuck Swindoll

  3. Carrie on October 7, 2015 at 8:50 am

    Hi Leslie,

    I enjoy reading your emails. I have a concern about my own Core response to some situations. I am very sensitive to all the ways our society uses and exposes women in sexual ways. I notice how women are used to entice men in almost every tv show and advertisement. It makes me angry. My husband and I cannot watch anything that doesn’t have a women in revealing clothes or underwear. I get so angry about this and if my husband doesn’t look away, out of respect for God, our marriage, and myself, I get upset. My thoughts turn to,wishing it was the other way around so my husband and other men would get a clue of how this makes us women feel.Sometimes I wish that tv shows and advertisements portrayed men like they do women. I use to say, for every exposed women, there should be an exposed man. I know this is wrong, but I just want men, or my husband to understand how this degrading of women makes us feel. I wonder how men would react or feel if the tables were turned. How do I handle this in a godly way….for the record, we don’t watch movies with nudity and we try to be careful with what we do see. We only have netflix (set to PG 13) but that doesn’t say much these days. The current show we are watching is Arrow and I had to not watch some episodes because of the women in it.

    • Leslie Vernick on October 7, 2015 at 6:55 pm

      Carrie, you are so right. The world and media portray women as sex objects. I recently watched a YouTube video of Hollywoods portrayal of women over the last 50 years and they were either being slapped, or raped. It was disgusting. So horrible I couldn’t even use it in some teaching because it was so sinful. God knows your heart. He knows how much he values women and how precious they are to him. You have every reason to be angry at the portrayal of women as objects to be used and abused, but allow the Holy Spirit to convict your husband. You cannot be his conscience or his Holy Spirit. But as a wise wife, you will watch and see what he is convicted by – or not. You will watch and see what his heart is drawn to or not. That will help you know how to interact with your spouse.

  4. Shari on October 7, 2015 at 9:05 am

    When speaking about hard things to someone else, I want to put it in a frame so that the other person can receive it. I really like here how she sticks to I statements. It’s hard to argue with I statements (although they often try.) But I also think it’s important to start the conversation by affirming the relationship. Instead of launching into what’s bugging you, say, “I really appreciate you and I’d like to talk to you about something hard because I want to make sure we stay in a good place.” This doesn’t always keep the peace, but at least I have framed it in a way that could be received well, even if they choose not to.

    • Leslie Vernick on October 7, 2015 at 6:52 pm

      Absolutely. When you can start with positives, do so. It always makes it more likely that they then can hear what you are unhappy about.

      • Valerie on October 10, 2015 at 8:50 pm

        How about the positives of why you are wanting the conversation? In confrontations that are really about negative behavior, its when I’ve tried to speak to the positive reason I am bringing this issue to light. Something like “Because I value our friendship I want to talk about something that has hurt me because I want our friendship to continue to grow.” or “Because I am concerned about what I am seeing in your spiritual life I want to bring this to your attention because I know that your relationship with Christ is important.” (I maybe didn’t word that the best but you get the idea).
        With an abusive person, however, I think the reasons for declaring a negative are more about stating boundaries than they are for strengthening the relationship or hoping for positive change.
        As Leslie stated, by speaking positives people are more likely to hear which is absolutely true. Not to mention it also is a safe guard for our own heart so that we do not speak out of maliciousness; we are also reminded of the positives of the person or the relationship as we speak them. However, an abusive person doesn’t listen with “open ears” but “controlling ears”, which is why I see that kind of interaction differently.

        • Leslie Vernick on October 13, 2015 at 6:14 pm

          GOod points Valerie

  5. Elizabeth on October 7, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Very timely, Leslie, for me also. I have been working on honesty and no pretending. In doing so I am struggling with being empathetic and compassionate without enabling. I am so afraid of enabling again and being caught in the emotional manipulation that I tend to self-protect which can come across as anger and or fear. I know I need to quiet my heart and consciously chose kind words and from a compassionate heart. That comes when I remember that he is created by God and I am responding to God not his behavior. Thank you, Leslie for this reminder.

    • Leslie Vernick on October 7, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      Your welcome. Yes it is a difficult road to learn to be strong and compassionate. We can express empathy for the pain someone is in without feeling the need to rescue or fix it for them. It’s important to know our own place and we are not god for them. Letting go of the outcome is part of that process and just being responsible for our own responses is crucial here.

      • Elizabeth on October 7, 2015 at 7:09 pm

        thank you, Leslie for your encouragement.

    • Lisa on October 9, 2015 at 1:42 am

      Thank you for this Elizabeth: “when I remember that he is created by God and I am responding to God not his behavior.” Really good!

    • Lisa on October 9, 2015 at 1:45 am

      Thank you for this Elizabeth: “when I remember that he is created by God and I am responding to God not his behavior.” Really good!????

  6. Aleea on October 7, 2015 at 11:28 am

    “Friends, how do you remember to practice CORE strength, especially when you are tired, or crabby or not in such a good space?”
     
    . . . .First, as always, I want to thank you so much for all the time and resources you consistently put into your blog posts and how grounded and positive you stay.  . . . . .How do I remember to practice CORE strength?  So, I pray and pray every day . . . and pray more during each day trying to get direction about what to say and do in all areas of life.  I try to stay focused on family members or other person’s ideas (-people always have so many wonderful ideas) and what they can teach me.  If they are furious, I try to see past their attitude.  It seems easy to me, my mother always hated me and abused me, why shouldn’t others? (-Obviously, we work on why that is not right in counseling.)  It feels easy to see past other’s anger and pain, however that manifests, because I have so much of my own.  . . . Now, you would be amazed at what never gets said or sent because the Holy Spirit says “no, -just NO.”  I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me.  Now, honestly, -honestly I don’t really know that it is the Holy Spirit and not just a voice in my head (or worse) but when it agrees with Scripture and it seems really hard and humbling, I assume it is from God but I don’t know that.  I guess if I was practicing some CORE talk it would sound like this:  I feel hurt when you make knowledge claims that you can’t possibly know.  Please stop pretending to know things you don’t really, really know (I’ll do my level best to do the same!)  Knowledge claims are very different than saying “I hope.”  But if you have a way of knowing that isn’t real just for you individually, teach me, help me learn or let’s learn together.  I assume everyone wants the real truth no matter how hard that truth may be.  I think to find the truth you have to be willing to lose all.  I hope I am for as Scripture (Proverbs) says: “Buy the truth and sell it not.”

  7. Maria on October 7, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Leslie, thank you for this convicting article. I am going to intentionally focus on using “I” statements instead of saying what I feel and being judgemental. I also need to be careful that I do not become critical and harsh while living with someone who is very critical and harsh. I like how you say that we are to be honest with how we feel and be responsible for how we process our emotions and how we react to theirs.

    • Leslie Vernick on October 7, 2015 at 6:46 pm

      Thanks Maria. I wrote it but it was convicting to me as well.

  8. Laura Di on October 7, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    There is a acronym ANT….for Automatic Negative Thoughts…..the subject of,” Change Your Brain, Change Your Body “, from a book written by psychiatrist Dr Daniel Amen. I apply his technique after researching biblical scriptures for my use that counter my ant statements.The biblical statements I compile are applied in a prayful way to my individual circumstance to build CORE strength.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1341787/How-tame-monsters-mind-Experts-ANTS–Automatic-Negative-Thoughts-unless-learn-stop-theyll-ruin-life.html#ixzz3nurecSZG

    • Leslie Vernick on October 7, 2015 at 6:46 pm

      Laura thanks for sharing that link. I know Dr. Amen and use ANTS in my more advanced teaching as well. Very important to recognize that sometimes we create our own misery by our own negative thoughts.

      • Laura Di on October 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm

        🙂 GOD is GOod!! And THANK YOU, Leslie! I appreciate your support and guidance. This blog is a GODsend and His blessing shows in your dedication to the work you do. I praise the day God worked through my pastoral counselor who mentioned this resource you facilitate as a helping hand toward recovery. I have witnessed tremendous changes since then and from the lessons learned from the O of the CORE,…….. “strength and dignity are her clothing and she smiles at the future.” Proverbs 31:25. I have been blessed!

  9. Leslie Vernick on October 7, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Aleea, I want you to focus on the phrase you said, “My mother always hated me and abused me, why shouldn’t others?” Why shouldn’t others? Because abuse is wrong. It is ungodly. Unbiblical. UnChristlike. And you are not wrong for standing up for yourself against it, especially from other people who call themselves Christians. Yes we may suffer abuse for our faith, but when people assault our character, it’s important that you realize that they may not be right. We give people too much power to define who we are and only God has that right. You are precious and fearfully and wonderfully made. Don’t forget that, even if your mother didn’t appreciate you, as mine did not either.

    • susen on October 7, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      Yes! We are fearfully and wonderfully made!

      I have a very frustrated mother at this point. This week she called for the first time since last December when I had to ask her not to call me until she was off hydrocodone, a drug that makes her completely irrational.

      With lots of God’s help, I was able to set a boundary with her–it took repeating myself many times. But I told her she had awakened me from a dead sleep at 7:00 and that I would call her back in ten minutes after I’d had a cup of coffee. She called back two minutes later and told me she’d been up all night worry about a particular issue and I could just talk and have my coffee. She asked me if I was trying to get my story straight. I didn’t engage but politely held my ground. Called her ten minutes later. Just that one boundary set the tone for the next hour, empowered me to correct her (politely) each time she told me how I felt–“No, Mom, please do not tell me how I feel” maybe fifty times. But at the conversation’s end, she ended with, “It seems to me that you feel . . . .” My reply, “I appreciate that you didn’t tell me how I feel.” I count that as progress! So old dogs can learn new tricks!

      Thank you for getting me started on the way to respond as a godly daughter without being paralyzed by the “Honor thy parents” commandment. I have come to understand that the commandment is not “make your mother feel honored.” That’s impossible with an abusive mother. God is the judge of my intentions and actions. I communicate with love, respect, and godly intention–but no more self-sacrifice. After much study and prayer, I have come to understand that we are called to sacrifice for nothing less than God’s Glory. There is so much empowerment in that understanding! And best of all, I realize that I do love her–just not what she says and does. That really feels good.

      Just wanted to share our progress and thank you again for your wise counsel. susen

      • Leonie on October 8, 2015 at 12:50 am

        Thanks for sharing Susen, I recognize that from a book I read lately about not allowing others to define us. I love how clearly you describe enacting that boundary.
        My husband came into the home this past Sunday on a police escorted visit to collect some of his belongings. He made several statements about me declaring what I think and feel, even stating several lies about what I think and feel to police. They shut him down completely, treating him almost the way prison guards treat a prisoner.
        “keep it to yourself” ” be quiet, J, no one wants to hear it” he raged through the home with anger and fury as he filled boxes. They were 2 women officers and the treated him like the irrational person he has proven to be. I felt safe and protected and after it was over, I was so relieved, kind of like someone had given me permission to move on and glad that truth and reality is being recognized. His abuse of me is no longer this private thing that no one else has witnessed or that no one believes or recognizes. It is empowering!

        • susen on October 9, 2015 at 10:30 am

          Dear Leoni~

          Thank you for the blessing of validation!

          I am joyful over the fact that you no longer need that can of emotional Lysol now that he AND his STUFF are out of your home.

          I had to laugh at the image of three righteous females–you and the officers–not giving him an inch as he grabbed the pitiful leftovers of a disaster he caused. What he must have felt as he unpacked!

          Please continue to be vigilant. I know you will.

          I pray for the blessings of the fruit of peace and the fruit of joy as you continue on your journey with your children.

          God bless,
          susen

      • Lisa on October 9, 2015 at 1:33 am

        That was well done Susen. You’re a good daughter.

        • susen on October 9, 2015 at 9:43 am

          Thank you, Lisa, for that blessing! susen

    • Aleea on October 9, 2015 at 8:20 am

      Leslie,
      I sincerely appreciate that.  Those are such kind, thoughtful words of hope.  My mother wasn’t just an abuser, she was an ardent atheist and unfortunately, I absorbed and internalized her logic and all her reasons why God wasn’t there, wasn’t good, wasn’t to be trusted, etc.  I try to escape but. . .so, here is the question: Can I just believe in God’s view of me even if 2/3rd’s of the time I am agnosticism?  —I so want it to be true.  Anyway, before I started with my current counselor, I wrote to her:
       
      Dr. Meier, Can you help me find my way back to God’s heart?  Do you think we can do this type of counseling?  Because of my background, I cycle through:  Christianity (I KNOW for SURE and I love that place best), but when I am fair and balanced it moves me to Agnosticism (We just can’t know –WAY too many unknowns) and I have thoughts like: What does it matter anyway, we are forced to live as if God does not exist.  I don’t like that much but it is far better than what happens on really bad days.  On bad days, I am moved to disbelief and I have thoughts like: . . . . .I am not going to put all the rest here, you get the idea, and that letter goes longer than long (See: The Bible Unearthed: What Archaeologists Know About Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts) Paperback  – June 11, 2002 –and– The Bible with Sources Revealed Paperback  – August 16, 2005.)
       
      . . . So we work on that but progress is really tough, especially because she will ask me: ”I agree with my mother’s way of thinking because. . .”  . . .because, unfortunately, the weight of the evidence is clearly in her favor.  She says I am trying to protect my mother, my parents (Stockholm syndrome, capture-bonding) but I think I know how to evaluate evidence and it doesn’t seem that way. 
       
      You say: “We give people too much power to define who we are and only God has that right.”  . . . .That feels so right and warm and true as does “You are precious and fearfully and wonderfully made.”  —Again, so beautiful and I so very much appreciate that.  Those are such kind words of hope and encouragement.  —Again, can I just believe in God’s view of me even often I don’t believe it?  I so want it to be true. 
       
      My mother always had examples: Typical example is say. . .  Dr. Charles Templeton.  Templeton was Billy Graham’s best friend and original preaching partner when Graham was just starting in the revivalism circuit, he was half of the team.  Chuck Templeton and Billy Graham were fondly called the “Twins” back then and they obviously quickly grew famous for their deep faith and charismatic preaching.  But Templeton, unlike Graham, was very curious; he wanted to explore the foundations of Christianity, the historical evidence for it —”to get some buttressing,” he said.  So he applied for seminarian studies.  That was in the early 1940’s.  By 1949, after a Doctorate, Dr. Templeton had become an agnostic. . . . As my mother would say: Thousands of these similar fact patterns exist.  For every case of a Jesus encounter conversion, waiting quietly offstage is a case of a de-conversion, someone who had a moment of crystal insight, a spiritual “aha,” which showed them the issues with Christianity. 
       
      I will tell you Leslie that when you say things like (—this is back from your June blog post): “What if I told you that I know for sure that although you are not perfect, you are beautiful, precious, valuable, worthwhile, important, and special?  How do I know that?  Because God says it. He’s the final authority on who you are and who you were meant to be, not your husband, not your mother, not your father, not even you.  Therefore what God calls good we must value and take good care of.”  And this:  “I have value and worth to God.  I am deeply and fully loved by Him.  God desires to give me a clean slate by forgiving me and bringing me into a close relationship with him.  I belong to him, he adopts me into His family.   My life has meaning and purpose.  I am not an accident.”  And this:  “If you want to heal, make me a promise.  From today forward the words you choose to use with yourself and the words you choose to listen to and believe are going to be life giving words of God’s truth.”  —I just so, so, so want to believe those absolutely beautiful, wonderful words.  I have them on my tablet and read them every morning.  —But by mid-morning, I hear my mother’s voice inside: “Aleea, those are stories in a book and we have not heard from “God” that way in thousands of years.  We are on our own.  Aleea, what has “God” done for you that you have honestly, honestly have not done for yourself.  You are simply just scrolling to the bottom on a vast set of assertions and hitting “I AGREE” without really weighing the evidence.”   . . . So, can I just believe in God’s view of me even with massive doubts?  I pray, Lord I believe, help my unbelief but the minute I study the Bible, read any book on early Christianity, I see serious issues everywhere, even as I so love the good parts and so want to believe God really sees me that way.
       
      It seems to work just like love, it can’t be forced.  —Anyway, I never stop inviting the Holy Spirit to deep clean and guard my heart!  More than that, to me, it really seems that there’s not one thing in life worth having outside Jesus Christ, it seems that way.  —And I am so willing with my mother to let the dead bury the dead but I have internalized her.  The doubts seem to never be far away unless I am just willfully blocking evidence and facts (—Like, willfully blind.  See: Gospel Fictions Paperback  – January 1, 1988. . . .That book, like thousands of others will disturb those who assume that the Gospels are substantially historical, with minor differences of fact and emphasis.  So many who devoted entire lives to understanding those texts, paint a compelling picture of the exact opposite: almost none of the parables happened in fact, most of the stories are clearly re-writes borrowed from the Old Testament, and the authors had little interest in leaving any record of facts.  The only way to grasp the scope, force and magnitude of that issue is to read a book like that.  It will leave you a more informed person, but a somewhat disillusioned one.)
       
      . . . External boundaries seem relatively easy.  I think Cloud and Townsend —as the Meier’s’ say— miss just how hard setting up internal boundaries really is.  All the really serious problems (—unless you live with an axe murder, etc.) seem to be coming from inside us.  I think we give others permission to act, to treat us that way.  In my situation, I am abused because I am abusing myself first.  If I, somehow, can set up internal boundaries, the external boundaries would become so much easier.  . . . . Anyways, I see no way to keep our heart’s clean, to keep forgiveness and kindness in our families, to keep hope alive without Christ (—just like your book, How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong— I love that book and so much of it works even if There was no Jesus, There is no God: A Scholarly Examination of the Scientific, Historical, and Philosophical Evidence & Arguments for Monotheism Paperback  – September 2, 2013)  —But the Bible actually says the opposite.  It says in Corinthians, “If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.”  The Bible says it is either true or it is not useful at any level.  I don’t even believe that.  I believe it is useful, even if it is not true.  —And it so feels right, warm and true but then you look at the actual evidence, the facts. . . . Wow, the disconnect. . . . . In the U-tube Dr. Richard Carrier vs. Dr. David Marshall (a Christian apologist) – “Is the Christian Faith Reasonable?”  —It is absolutely painful to listen to how hard Dr. Marshall tries and how easy it is for Carrier to just point to facts, evidence, logic.  —Is there a way to believe in God’s view of me, even if I am honest and a lot of the time I am a Christian Agnosticism (RE: We just can’t know –WAY too many unknowns and evidence in the opposite direction) . . . .but still pray, still read the Bible, still agree with all kinds of unsubstantiated things said at church, just let that part be independent of archaeology. . . .  .Let me tell you, there are days when I know and I know that I know and whatever is going on with prayer it is completely other because nothing is as affirming as prayer.

  10. Mary2 on October 8, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    This is just a general comment (not for anyone personally), from my own experience and for God’s glory as He healed our marriage – the way He showed me through from my woman’s heart’s perspective…..When I thought my situation would never heal, could never heal because of the obstacles I thought were impenetrable – the bottom line has been always, always, and forever to keep our hearts as purely in line with what we know of Him, casting the care of it onto Him as He invites in 1 Pet 5 v.7. I had to understand God only required my willingness to submit to Him in everything and remind Him daily that He is in charge of my husband’s heart and mind, and if hubby makes that hard going for God, then God had my permission at least to ring the changes however He thought best — (after all, He says we are ‘one flesh’ not 2, so this gives us the authority!) Then I discovered to my surprise and joy that my heart was being changed and strengthened by grace, and I realised that, in realms unseen, hubby’s heart was waking up to the fact of how much it would actually cost him (in all respects) to risk losing my heart. From there, I intuited he was freed up to own the changes for himself – …..totally amazing, all honour to God! 🙂

  11. Hope on October 8, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    I’m working on all of this and learning my expectations have to be in line with God and the person I’m dealing with. I’ve noticed a fall in my family relationships since I guess I’ve opened up to the truth and will not allow myself to live lies. How do you have relationships with family members who continually disregard your emotional well being and live oblivious to your circumstances. It’s quite a challenge, I found myself sleeplessly in prayer the other night for the shock of the truth in dealing with an uncompassionate, self focused loved one, they seem to be all around me…ughh. I was always making an excuse or another and thinking God would have me just love them despite. Now I’ve made attempts to have truth and safety in my relationships and have seen good outcomes. I think my problem is I expect this to continue and I’m greatly disappointed when I’ve been hurt after moving forward and trusting again. I need to be weary because people usually don’t change, and can find a way to respond in their usual matter even when change is necessary to continue the relationship. Then I wonder how Christ like it is to just say no more to a relative, and no contact.

    • Lisa on October 9, 2015 at 1:27 am

      Hope I have experienced the exact same thing with my relatives. Been told it’s up to me to deal with my abusive-h & getting a divorce. Zero help. Not even so much as a phone call to see if I’m ok. One is abusive and another manipulative. Another is only interested in talking about their life. I get support from groups like Leslie’s. It’s painful to learn how selfish my relatives are; in my case they are family that I gave a lot of myself to over the years.
      One I actually had to go no contact with; it makes me sad.

    • susen on October 9, 2015 at 9:35 am

      Hope, my family of origin embraces the culture of ignoring the pink elephant in the middle of the room . . . even when it is squishing all the air out of my lungs, I am expected to sit, politely smile and agree. I have come to understand that my acquiescence–which amounts to self-sacrifice to a most ungodly cause–has been a sin: Romans 14:23b: “Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” I cannot change that culture, but I can–with God’s help–choose not to participate in such an ungodly setting. This conviction translates to action when I visit my mother. I show her love and compassion, which I genuinely feel, but I politely leave when she gets nasty. Then I say, “I’ll see you next week and I hope you will be feeling better.”

      I have been blessed by so many other mother-figures in my life–women who have shown me what caring means.

      As much as I’d like to say that it doesn’t hurt anymore, I cannot. But it hurts a lot less to live in truth and not participate.

      I do not know if sharing my experience will help you with your disappointments with your family, but I share with love. susen

      • susen on October 9, 2015 at 10:46 am

        Hope and others~

        Despite rereading and much consideration in my post prior to hitting send, I think I need to clarify about the sin part of my post. I am only speaking in terms of my own interpretations of Scripture for myself. For me, it is a sin to participate because when I do, my actions perpetuate the lie, I resort to self-recrimination, and I no longer can love clearly. When I allow anything to distances me from God, I view that as my sin.

        I’m far too busy figuring all of this out for myself to be judging anyone else’s choices. I was in no way preaching . . . just sharing a part of my journey. susen

      • Leonie on October 9, 2015 at 12:03 pm

        Susen, my family is like yours. You are right to live in and speak truth. I could have used help and support all along the way and I remind my self that my God sees and knows and loves and cares for me – and he has brought me this far and in his strength I will walk through the rest and make sure to teach my kids and live in truth so they have a constructive role model instead of a blind fold to use when the weak and powerless need someone to speak up for them.

        • susen on October 9, 2015 at 1:24 pm

          Leonie~

          Wise words, m’lady.

          When I was writing to you earlier, I thought of the wonderful example that you are giving your children–the older ones and the little one. My computer kept erasing my post, so I didn’t get to put that in before. susen

  12. Leonie on October 9, 2015 at 9:09 am

    Aleea, if we believe in Jesus, God puts his Holy Spirit with in us. Ask him to open your eyes and reveal his truth to you. He will, he loves to be found by those who seek him. When you write about the words of Leslie that “feel right” that is the Holy Spirit affirming in your spirit that she has spoken truth.
    Can you look back and attest to God’s faithfulness and care in your life at difficult times? Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you! God is there, he is revealing him self in a myriad of ways, you have so many photos of his beauty in some of your gravatar photos – breathtaking photos of God’s created beauty! He has put the sun, moon and stars in place but he also created and longs to walk in fellowship with us, his chosen ones.
    His voice is heard in a still small whisper inside of us if we stop and listen! If we pray for him to show us his glory, he will, in surprising ways!! I am praying for you!

  13. Leonie on October 9, 2015 at 11:34 am

    Sorry Aleea, I hope you didn’t think I was condescending, I know you love the Lord. I am just praying that the Holy Spirit will be louder than your mom’s voice and give you & keep you in His peace. I learn amazing things from your posts and feel your passion. Truth as God has revealed it on his word is the way to eternal life – I know we each have our own struggles though. With love, Leonie

    • Survivor on October 9, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      Leonie, you express yourself so well!!! I hear your heart and the kindness that you feel toward what Aleea is dealing with!! We are all handicapped by having only written words to express what we are saying–no tone of voice, facial expression or body language–and yet you convey your thoughts so well!!!!

      Aleea, I was thinking down the same lines when I read that you were so steeped in atheism and that agnosticism is a big struggle now….

      I grew up in a very conservative/legalistic setting and that made it difficult to experience God on a personal level. I fully believed in Him, but I just didn’t believe that the wonderful things that He was capable of were for me–they were for somebody else who was ‘more important’…… The last year or so has been an incredible journey of Him breaking down those false beliefs and showing me just how special I am to Him!!!!!!! I pray that you, too, will be able to experience this as it brings so much peace and security in the middle of our otherwise chaotic lives!!!! Love and prayers!!!!!!

    • Aleea on October 9, 2015 at 5:49 pm

      Leonie,
      —Of course you are not condescending, not in the least.  You are wonderful.  Thank you so, so much for your kind words too.  . . . . Can I look back and attest to God’s faithfulness and care in my life at difficult times?  Leonie, I really think so at times but I give money to a children’s fund and attend their presentations.  They say 9,000,000 children under 5 years of age die each year, mostly from starvation ―every year.  Equivalent to a tsunami of the 2004 Thailand proportions happening every 10 days and killing only children under 5 years old.  This despite their parents’ pleas, prayers and begging!  . . . . I do agree God created places on this earth that are breathtaking and humming birds, butterflies, wonderful things . . . .but God also created the little boy sitting on a river bank, in West Africa, that’s got a parasite worm, a living organism, in his eye and boring through the eyeball and is slowly turning him blind.  That happens to countless children.  God created all that nasty stuff too (I can’t reconcile, I get home safely, the hand of God.  Genocide in Rwanda, well that is mysterious.)   
       
      Thank you so very much for praying for me.  I so appreciate and value that.  I so need people’s prayers. . . . .Lord God, —I have nothing to offer you but I beg you, please, may my darkness be broken into by inescapable light from You.  Lord, flow through my life.  Thank you Leonie. 
       
       
       
      Survivor,
      Thank you so much also for your love and prayers.  I so love how God is showing you how special you are to Him.  . . . Praying, caring, loving, sharing. . . . Those really are the marks of the cross, as I understand it. . . .And daring to lay down our life on the line, forgetting what we leave behind.  I keep seeking Christ but I know it is more than just trying because real love is not forced.  It is about giving Him my will —joining my will (somehow) with God’s will and finding ALL my identity there.  . . . .Even on the worst days when I seriously doubt God, —I sure do miss Him.  And Survivor, again, thank you for taking the time to bless me with your kind words.

  14. susen on October 9, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Dear Leslie~

    I thank you for your wise counsel. Don’t know how you are able to give us so much of yourself. You are prayed for regularly! And I know that grandbabies are amazing in their abilities to help us be joyful.

    Seems “mother issues” have come up a lot this week . . . and I thought I was the only one! Since I got into my abusive marriage because it felt so right to be abused, and maybe I’m not alone in that, perhaps you could extend your blog one of these weeks to growing from instead of atrophying from close encounters of the maternal kind?

    Thanks again for being you–the gift that you are to all of us.
    susen

    • Leslie Vernick on October 10, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      Thanks Susan, it means so much to me that you are praying for me. Sometimes I do get weary and the prayers of the saints hold my hands up in teh battle. You are loved.

      • susen on October 12, 2015 at 9:21 am

        Thank you, Ma’am. Right back at ya. susen

  15. Elizabeth on October 9, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    Thank you, dear Aleea, for continuing to share the struggles of your soul. I am praying with you…”Lord God, —I have nothing to offer you but I beg you, please, may my darkness be broken into by inescapable light from You. Lord, flow through my life. ” Jesus is that Light who came to die for all the evil in this world. God is not the problem nor is He in the problem. However He is the solution for the sinfulness of man’s heart. His solution is the cross of His Son and the empty tomb. No man has to sin against another. It is each of our choices as God is not the author of evil.

    I am praying for you in your journey and God hears your heart that wants Him. Only His Spirit can shine into our hearts when we do not understand. Keep seeking Him, drawing near to Him and He will draw near to you… He loves you so much…. and so do we!

    • Aleea on October 10, 2015 at 7:27 am

      Elizabeth,
       
      I so appreciate your kind words and especially your prayers.  . . . Especially I so thank you for your prayers!!!  In counseling, I really believe that prayer is the most important thing we do.  Counseling is such a safe, judgement-free zone that everything just comes to the surface, everything.  One thing I really love is that we don’t go for happiness, but holiness, in our discussions.  That makes sense to me because I think the antidote for the fear of parents, men, etc. is not to think more highly of ourselves, but to think more rightly, and therefore more highly of God.  Then, we will not think so much about what other people think of us and more about how we can really love them.  —Oh, I so want that. 

  16. Lisa on October 9, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Hi Aleea,

    I was thinking about this statement your mom made:
    “Aleea, what has “God” done for you that you have honestly, honestly have not done for yourself.”

    To me that would be our very existence. God choose to design and make us. He gave us breath. We had no control, no input, no facilitating those things. We can’t control the taking away of our breath either.
    For all of us that would be our very breathe.

    • Lisa on October 9, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      Please disregard that last sentence. I was trying to erase it and I somehow posted it.

      **********
      Aleea, would it help to recall God’s faithfulness to you in times past? I have found that very comforting lately as I too find myself with some intrusive thoughts causing doubts.

    • Aleea on October 10, 2015 at 7:23 am

      Lisa,
      That’s a very good point: God gave us our very existence.  “God choose to design and make us.  He gave us breath.  We had no control, no input, no facilitating those things.  We can’t control the taking away of our breath either.”  That is so true.  In Acts, God says “For in Him we live and move and have our being.”  It’s all God.  There is only God.  God is not some distant figure somewhere in the sky.  God is my own deepest nature and yours too.  It is something extraordinary and exquisite.  . . . . My mother would say it is the cosmos that gave us life.  “Aleea, we are all stardust.  All the chemicals and ingredients in your body were cooked deep in chemical processes in the stars.  The chemical elements of life, which are cooked in the interiors of those stars were released in supernova explosions into interstellar space where they condensed into solar systems with planets, some of which have life that is composed of this star stuff.  . . . . Aleea, what if the earth had to get here in a non-God way.  What would that have to look like?  You would need trillions of star systems mixing chemicals for billions and billions of years to win that lottery of random combinations that create a replicating cell.  We look out into the Universe and what do we see: Trillions of star systems mixing chemicals for billions and billions of years.  We have exactly the Universe you would predict if there was no God.”  I would say . . . .How does that help us feed the poor?  How does that help us forgive others?  She would say it doesn’t; it absolutely doesn’t but “is it true” is a very different question than is it helpful.  Aleea, we are going to die, but that makes us the lucky ones.  Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born.  The potential people who could have been here in my or your place, but who will in fact never see the light of day, outnumber the sand grains of Arabia.  Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Einstein.  We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people.  In the teeth of these stupefying odds, it is you and I, Aleea, in our ordinariness, that are here.  We are massively privileged, we won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”  —Unlimited energy my mother, unlimited.  During those times I would think –maybe- we are BOTH wrong; Answer mystery with an even greater mystery? . . . .
       
      —Lisa you say: “Aleea, would it help to recall God’s faithfulness to you in times past?  I have found that very comforting lately as I too find myself with some intrusive thoughts causing doubts.”  Oh it does and I keep a running list of things to remember.  I’ll give you a recent one:  I was in Budapest in August taking depositions for two Corp. cases The Office of the Chief Counsel of the IRS has there. (The companies are U.S. firms but they have operating subsidiaries there.). . . . Anyway, I got to the Enterprise car rental in August and I had verified many times that I needed an automatic.  When I got there all they had were standard 6 speed shifts.  That is all they had for the next three days, the only rentals in town.  My father had showed me how to drive a stick shift in my teens but it was a totally terrifying experience there on all those hilly roads with a clutch.  Lisa, I was terrified because the traffic is so thick and very few obey the traffic laws.  I just prayed my way through it all and everything got done, but not fun. . . . But it gave me lots of time to pray. . . . I want a clean heart that God promises.  I love when my heart is filled with clean thoughts and right desires.  I don’t want to be a chemical self-interest machine.  To me, real love, God-style-love is the only thing worth living for . . . .but I am open to learning too.

    • Aleea on October 10, 2015 at 7:37 am

      -And thank you Lisa, I so appreciate your thoughts and you.

    • Lisa on October 10, 2015 at 11:35 am

      Wow Aleea!, your mom is very observant about the incredible expansive of the universe and the preciousness of life. She may very well come to know the One who did it all.

      My Dad also was the one to teach me stick shift! Even a well seasoned driver of that kind would find it unnerving driving through the chaos of a place like you were in! God brought you through. We just know deep in our hearts it was Him when we are these situations and He enters it with us. It happened for me when I went to see my Dad; he was in a nursing home. I hadn’t seen him in 2 years,; because I had been very ill. I had to drive a super long distance to see him and I was still battling health problems so I was in a weakened condition. Once in the building I had to walk up a long ramp. My body was shaking and it seemed all the strength had drained from my it. At one point I felt close to collapsing. I started to cry inwardly and was torn between still wanting to see my Dad and wanting to leave. Just then I noticed a man walking down the ramp, his head down with his hat brim tipped forward so I could not see his eyes. At the moment he passed me, without picking up his head, he said, “The peace of God be with you.” My heart stopped pounding out of my chest, I could feel the blood going back in my face, and I had the strength to climb the rest of ramp and see my Dad. God was there for me, He had gone before me and gave me what I needed at the exact time I needed it! We might not have a sophisticated explanation, but we just know.

    • Aleea on October 11, 2015 at 5:22 am

      “. . . . At the moment he passed me, without picking up his head, he said, “The peace of God be with you.”  My heart stopped pounding out of my chest, I could feel the blood going back in my face, and I had the strength to climb the rest of ramp and see my Dad.  God was there for me, He had gone before me and gave me what I needed at the exact time I needed it!  We might not have a sophisticated explanation, but we just know.”
       
      Lisa,
      I feel you are so right.  All I know is that I r-e-a-l-l-y need Christ.  I need Him and I want Him.  He, to me, has always seemed like the key to everything I value in this life: real love, kindnesses, real forgiveness, being gentle and appropriate humility.  For anyone who has massively struggled with faith issues and for so many teens I see, I would just say: At this moment God might not necessarily be a necessity, but know that His absence will of a certainty, eventually result in His necessity.
       
      In some way, I think that wanting to be even mildly in control and even a small amount of pride can blind us.  It is good for people to be proud of themselves, achievements, etc. but too much of anything is not healthy and even humility can be pride exhibited through humility, you know, being prideful about being humble. . . . No Christ-knowledge (theology) can ever be made out of science.  Christ is like the glimpse of a divine life in those that really believe.  Nothing can give you a clean heart with right desires but Christ, —nothing I know. 
       
      I so ask for prayers for my mother and especially my father.  I talk a lot about my mother but my father abused me too.  I always had to be perfect with him or I was an embarrassment.

  17. Maria on October 10, 2015 at 6:47 am

    Aleea, I have been praying for you as you work through these questions. If we focus on how a powerful and mighty God would love even one human being even after sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, it changes our perspective on things.

    • Aleea on October 10, 2015 at 7:31 am

      Thank you Maria, I so appreciate your thoughts, prayers and you. 🙂

  18. Valerie on October 10, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    Aleea,
    Two thoughts hit me as I read your post. The first was when you described your mother’s thoughts creeping into your mind about the validity of God. What immediately struck me was that there is one who still continues that agenda- the devil himself. The root of the dark forces’ agenda is to keep God from being glorified. One obvious way of doing this is to keep people from the Truth. The more you come to accept the truth, the more he will implant thoughts that cause you to doubt. God is not a God of confusion. But the devil is the ultimate abuser who twist, distorts, and creates chaos to the point that it is difficult to think clearly. (Not implying you aren’t thinking clearly but just that the devil wants us confused.)

    The second thing that struck me was this verse coming to mind, “….and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 18:3 The beauty of the gospel is the simplicity of it. We can’t rationalize it or prove it. We are asked instead to become like children. To actually change and go back to being like children. If you didn’t have a good childhood (I didn’t) then this might be a difficult task. One might equate being like a child to being vulnerable and those with an abuse history do what they can to not be vulnerable. The things adults value such as our intellect, financial means or physical strength is of no use to God though. What I mean is that He does not require or desire these things from us. Instead He wants us to come to Him in our vulnerability. Looking to Him like a (good, perfect and loving) Father. A pastor I often listen to has used this example. When his kids get in the car with him they don’t ask if they have enough gas or if the insurance is paid up. They just hop in the car and allow dad to drive- at times not knowing the destination. If dad’s there, they are there. In the same way we come to God with nothing to offer Him. We don’t come to Him because He makes sense, we come to Him because of simple faith….which may end up to be the hardest thing for some to exercise.
    It is quite a testimony that you are seeking God considering the atheistic background you came from. As I see it, that seems to be one of the most powerful testimonies of the veracity of God’s existence! You would have no reason to be drawn to God other than the Creator Himself drawing you to Him. 🙂 Saying a prayer for you now, Aleea.

    • Aleea on October 11, 2015 at 5:27 am

      “. . . God is not a God of confusion. But the devil is the ultimate abuser who twist, distorts, and creates chaos to the point that it is difficult to think clearly. (Not implying you aren’t thinking clearly but just that the devil wants us confused.)”
       
      Valerie,
      I am often confused.  I think devilish pride possibly in the form of “humility,”  maybe wanting to be even somewhat in control and possibly (somehow) not doing the good that I know to do (asking for forgiveness?) can cause that confusion.  
       
      “. . . One might equate being like a child to being vulnerable and those with an abuse history do what they can to not be vulnerable.  The things adults value such as our intellect, financial means or physical strength is of no use to God though.  What I mean is that He does not require or desire these things from us.  Instead He wants us to come to Him in our vulnerability.  Looking to Him like a (good, perfect and loving) Father.  A pastor I often listen to has used this example.  When his kids get in the car with him they don’t ask if they have enough gas or if the insurance is paid up.  They just hop in the car and allow dad to drive- at times not knowing the destination. If dad’s there, they are there.  In the same way we come to God with nothing to offer Him. We don’t come to Him because He makes sense, we come to Him because of simple faith….which may end up to be the hardest thing for some to exercise.”
       
      Wow, Valerie, that is an outrageous insight.  I so love the “Kid’s Table” where Christ is but maybe I am really afraid of the vulnerability of being that dependent (—even though I fully admit that I am so very dependent.)  But saying I am dependent is not the same as acting in dependence on Christ.  Please pray that I will do just that and thank you for your prayers.

      —And again, I so ask for prayers for my mother and especially my father.  I talk a lot about my mother but my father abused me too.  I always had to be perfect with him or I was an embarrassment.  The thing I love about Christ is that He will take us in the utter train-wreck state that we find ourselves in and more than that He is out looking for us even when we act like we are independent.

  19. Aleea on November 7, 2015 at 6:55 am

    Maria,
    —Frankly, so many folks posting, including you, on these blog threads are experts in staying positive. It is amazing to me. How is that even possible? —From, Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy by Leslie (page 163): “. . . Thanksgiving is a Command. . . . Biblically speaking, gratitude is not an option. God commands it and as believers, it is to permeate our lives. However, early on in my Christian life I found it diflicult to give thanks in all circumstances. As a counselor, at times I thought it bordered on craziness. I would ask myself how it was possible to be thankful for losing a job or a loved one. How could a person be thankful for a rotten childhood [or a rotten husband]? Yet as I have grown in my journey of experiencing more happiness, gratitude is an important positive emotion we must cultivate.” . . . I am glad that no matter what happens, gratitude is not an option because frankly it is clear that negative thinking wrecks our lives and is a debilitating illness in and of itself slowly killing our spirit.

  20. Leonie on November 7, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Aleea, You bring up something really important that we don’t realize as Christians until we experience it. It is quite shocking actually but also transformative!
    When we are thankful it leads us to praise God, when we praise Him it takes us into God’s presence. When we praise him and worship him with scripture and song and relish who he is, and spend time in his presence and reflect on what he has done for us and how miraculous and amazing it is to live in His reality, it transforms our life and brings us to a place where we are thankful for all that we have experienced because it brings us to God – it leads us to him and he heals us and shows us his glorious self. Although it is backward thinking or foolishness to those who don’t know, it is really us glory for us who are being saved!

    • susen on November 7, 2015 at 9:47 am

      A wonderful thread–Aleea and Leonie: thanksgiving in the tough times as Christians.

      This is a recount of my journey to thanksgiving: I found it easy to praise God in good times, even before I began Bible study in earnest–where I learned of the magnificence of His Plan. Recounting the history from “. . . in the beginning . . .” through the selection of Abraham to the granting of the Promised Land, from the building of the temple to the destruction of the temple and the diaspora and the gift of His Son to redeem our sinful selves–each is a step of His Plan to turn we “stiff necked people” to subjects worthy of His Kingdom. Who could have conceived such a plan? Who could have had the patience and love to see it through? Only God.

      So when the tough stuff happens on my journey, it reminds me that I, too, am part of His Plan. I do not think for one second that God is the creator of the tough stuff–but, as I look back to my stumbles and failures, I can rejoice in the growth of my dependence upon Him as He carried me through.

      Now, instead of stewing for days trying to fix whatever life has dumped on my head and then, finally, exhausted with the frustration of my own efforts, I have to turn to God, I only need a couple of hours to get there. I shake my head at my self–there is such peace waiting when I turn it all over to God! I am growing, God!

      So, I have learned to rejoice that I am a part of God’s Plan–and that He never gives up on me. That’s what the tough stuff has taught me.

      And, yes, Leonie, it is shocking and transformative . . . and full of awe and glorious and redemptive and peace-filling and magnificent and . . . all things wonderful to begin to discover the treasures of being a child of God.

  21. Leonie on November 7, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Yes, Susen, and for me it has made – huge difference between being under a heavy cloud of oppression or moving on in joy and trust and dependence. God is walking with me and only in my weakness is his strength is made perfect. I have so far to go and only in his strength can I be an overcomer!

    • susen on November 7, 2015 at 11:44 am

      And, Leonie, what an example for our children! They watch us even as God keeps watch over all of us. Blessings, susen

  22. Hope on November 12, 2015 at 2:54 am

    Thank you for sharing. I used to have a much stronger CORE. When things didn’t really improve or change at a significant level, I got confused about where and how to draw boundaries, thinking that it would be sinful or destructive for me to separate from my husband. Three years of trying to pretend things are okay when they aren’t has nearly destroyed me and my children.
    I’m repentant and very ready to return to CORE principles, aware that this will likely require at least a temporary separation, depending on how much he will respect the boundaries, and the needs of his family.
    Your writing strengthens my spirit in what is true; it’s invaluable when I live in a place full of false realities.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 12, 2015 at 6:42 am

      Thanks Hope. Build your CORE now. THen you will be wiser to know how to handle the issues in your marriage.

      • Hope on November 13, 2015 at 2:31 pm

        Thank you. Reading your blog is helping me remember truth vs the false reality I’ve been propping up for my husband. I’m one of those women holding onto a thread of sanity.
        I’m especially blessed to refer to your books those who have tried to help us but had it all backwards. I hope it helps them to know better how to counsel any who follow. Wow, I thought I was crazy or just a real wimp not to be able to “bear in love” his abuse. What a relief to know God isn’t expecting that from me. Thanks for sharing the truth.

  23. Midday Round Up - 98.5 KTIS on January 8, 2016 at 11:40 am

    […] Finding CORE strength (spoiler alert: it has nothing to do with your body) […]

  24. Angela on March 30, 2020 at 1:13 pm

    I have really valued your words of wisdom. My CORE strength is still shaky, and I still don’t know how I am supposed to react to my husband’s words. He makes me feel so very non-human. I am listening to your words of wisdom, and they are quite helpful. Thank you for giving us all a fresh biblical way to look at our(my)situations. You are a GODsend.

    • court on September 17, 2020 at 10:48 am

      I am with you on this. The feeling non human when husband says things to me at times. ❤ Hugs to you.

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