Morning Friend,

Thank you so much for your love for one another on this blog. I am so very grateful that you are such warriors on each other’s behalf. I know so many of you are very busy and the time you take to thoughtfully respond to one another deeply touches my heart. I so wish I could meet all of you.  

I am planning to do a women’s conference in 2018 called CONQUER 2018 – Be Brave, Grow Strong. I’m not clear on all the details yet, but my hope is to hold it in October. I would love for you all to consider being a part so that we can meet and you can meet one another.

This week's Question: I want to love unconditionally outside of a relationship. Long story short, I have chosen to drastically limit my time around my in-laws because of their (mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law) recurrent expressions of control, condemnation, and lack of respect for me (and my “no “) and the lack of repentance and ownership they express when they have been confronted on these behaviors.

I have heard you say that unconditional love does not mean unconditional relationship. I set up a goal to work towards reconciliation this year – foolishly thinking I was ready, but realizing God is still working on me to bring me to a healthier place. I don't know where my in-laws stand on desiring reconciliation.

This gets complicated when my husband is reluctantly limiting the time we spend with his family, but he still calls or spends time with them when he's at work. If he talks to them on the phone when we're together, he will leave the room so that I cannot hear their conversation. I feel guilty for not “getting along” with them when that is so important to him and I feel some betrayal when he spends time with them and that he doesn't allow me to hear his conversations with them.

What happens when the old habits continue on the offender’s part and my hurt continues as we work on a relationship? What if I am sometimes the offender/abuser? I cannot truly show love if I am “easily provoked” or if I am “taking into account a wrong suffered” according to 1 Corinthians 13. How do I live in a healthy way, showing love, if I am exposing myself to additional potential hurts?

Am I called to bear these new hurts in order to achieve reconciliation? I don't understand how we give people the ability to show us change if we are exercising boundaries that were set in place that remove us from those unhealthy situations. I am pretty sure this is a destructive relationship because the offenses show a pattern of behavior, although there are many times my husband causes me to question my sanity when he says I take things too personally and that I shouldn't feel the way that I do. Help!

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NASB).

Answer:  I think you bring up an important question and challenge that every one of us face when we are interacting with someone who has hurt us, has past patterns of abuse that we fear still creep into the present, or is unchanged.

First, I don’t think God requires us to have a close and personal relationship with everyone. It’s not even possible. Quality relationships take time and we are limited finite human beings both in our time and our energy resources. Even if we wanted to, we could not be close to our children, our grandchildren, our spouse, our in-laws, our neighbors, our church community, people we work with, etc.

Jesus had close personal friendships with Peter, John, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. He loved everyone, but we don’t hear him being in close fellowship with everyone. Loving someone doesn’t necessarily mean that you are always “close.” If that’s what loving people meant, then it would be confusing when Jesus taught us to love our enemies.  

However, at the end, you quoted 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter on the actions and attitudes that love displays. I think those are good attributes for all Christians to aspire to.  

God calls us to love one another and that as Christians we are to be known for our love for one another. Click To Tweet

I don’t believe that means that we have to be close friends with everyone. But as much as it depends on us, we treat others with patience and kindness, even when we have to speak hard words. We don’t brag as if we are better than someone else or behave in ways that are unbecoming to the person God calls us to be. I believe as mature believers, we should not be easily provoked, even when others try to push our buttons, and we don’t continually dwell on sins that someone else has done. We may not trust him or her because of serious and unrepentant sins but we can still be kind.  

When, at the end, 1 Corinthians 13 says that we should “believe all things and hope all things,” I don’t think it means that we put our trust and hope in people. Jesus didn’t. Nor does “endure all things” mean we allow people to hurt us without protest. That would be inconsistent, with other Biblical teachings such as Jesus taught in Matthew 18. But I do believe that we hope in God and always trust that even in a tough interaction with someone, God has something to teach us in that moment.  

We hope that God will mature us through our experience with a difficult person or situation. We bear all things with grace because we cling to the truth that nothing is wasted, even when things are bad or hard. God promises “all things work together for our good, to conform us to the image of Christ”(Romans 8:23,24).

When attempting reconciliation with someone who has engaged in destructive patterns, of course, you are going to have some bumps and uncertainties as to whether or not things have really changed. But to even consider that possibility, you will need to have some interaction with him or her, even if that interaction is superficial or at a distance.  

When you do have those small doses of interaction, however, is it respectful? Is it kind? Is it safe? If there is something that smacks of old history, does the person catch herself? For example, in last week’s blog conversation, someone gave an example of her mother grabbing the check for lunch without asking if that was okay with her and her husband. When she and her husband gave her mother feedback that they would like to be asked, her mother apologized and asked if it was okay with them that she takes care of the check. That was new history. Even in a small, casual lunch, this couple learned that their mother would hear them. New history is that their mother would ask about how they felt about something instead of just assuming. Will she always do it perfectly? Probably not. But they did learn that they could give her feedback and that she was willing to self-correct. Just that change is a huge help in repairing a broken relationship.

From your question you say you have become more aware that you are easily provoked and that your in-laws can still activate your buttons. Your husband’s continued contact with his family also triggers you. Perhaps it’s time for you to focus on your own triggers and what’s unhealed and insecure about you instead of focusing on them.

One thing that’s been helpful to me is whenever someone causes me pain, instead of staying focused on what he or she is doing wrong, I ask myself and God a couple of self-reflection questions. Here’s one: What area in my own life is unhealed or immature that is being poked at right now that I need to take a look at?

Here are some more questions I might ask myself when I feel upset when someone has been disrespectful or thoughtless. “In what ways am I disrespectful or thoughtless towards myself?” Wow, that opens up a whole new way of looking at things. Perhaps I was triggered because their thoughtlessness is pointing me to a bigger problem in my own stewardship of me. Or here’s another question, “In what ways am I disrespectful or thoughtless towards others?” You know the old phrase, “it takes one to know one.” Perhaps I’m so reactive to thoughtlessness in others because I’m guilty of the same at times.

By taking my focus off what the other person did TO me, and more on my own reaction to it, it often helps me see that I have my own stuff to work on. First, it helps me see that I am not often taking very good care of myself and that’s when I feel the most hurt when others don’t treat me the way I’d like them to. Second, it helps me see just how guilty we all are to not treating people with kindness and love at times. It’s that exercise Jesus told us to do by taking the log out of our own eye before trying to remove the speck out of someone else’s eye.

I find that once you care for your self and value yourself as God’s daughter, the small stuff other people do doesn’t bug you so much anymore. You aren’t as easily provoked because you are secure and do KNOW who you are (Psalm 139:14). You aren’t as easily threatened or intimidated or even hurt by someone’s different opinion or style of relating. You don't take it personally. It’s about that person, not about you.

When you are secure in God’s love and in his identity as well as in your own self-care and stewardship, you can meet a person (who you don't’ like or feel is difficult) in a social situation – like Christmas, or a dinner, and be kind and patient and gracious with your boundaries in place for your own self-care and well-being.

If someone’s behavior at that event crosses the line, you can graciously excuse your self from the interaction and take a break or leave. The difference is that you don’t expect or demand relationship – and therefore you don’t look for mutuality and reciprocity from him or her.  

We love the other person unconditionally. Therefore she doesn’t have to like us or treat us a certain way in order for us to treat her kindly or patiently or with care. He doesn’t have to agree with our view of what happened for us to care about him, his health, his well-being, his point of view, without having to get sucked into an argument. I can let people be different than I am, I can let them disagree with me, or even think poorly of me without falling into anger or despair because I am secure in who God thinks I am and I am loving well. Does that make sense? That doesn’t mean I allow people to hurt me or chronically treat me poorly. It just means that their treatment of me is a reflection of them, not me. In the same way, my treatment of them is a reflection of me.  

Sometimes those who have been victims of other people’s mistreatment believe that their boundaries can only be effective when they act cold, angry, or hard-hearted, which is the opposite of love. But that’s not true. Did you know that you could have very good boundaries and still be kind and loving at the same time? Perhaps that is what God is teaching you to do so that you are a light and an imitator of God who lives a life of love (Ephesians 5:1).

Friend, how have you been able to show love to unlovely people or those who you have struggled to be in good relationship with?  

66 Comments

  1. Kathy on October 11, 2017 at 7:15 am

    How do we maintain loving and healthy boundaries after we have been mistreated ? I have a very sensitive relationship where I Am the recipient of swearing and blaming and vileness ….. how do I respond in love to a very angry man ?

    • JoAnn on October 11, 2017 at 11:57 pm

      Kathy, I don’t believe we have heard from you before….welcome! The way you respond to an angry, abusive man is to love yourself enough to protect your heart by setting boundaries. Also, to love him enough to not allow him to sin against you anymore. Have you read Leslie’s book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage? Very important information there. She tells you how to do it. You will also find much help and encouragement here on this blog. So many of us have been where you are. The decisions are hard, but the Lord will walk with you through it all. God bless you and carry you through.

    • Nancy on October 12, 2017 at 7:14 pm

      Hi Kathy,

      As Barbara pointed out further down the thread, the above question is about navigating difficult relationships. From what you describe, being the recipient of ‘ swearing, blaming and vileness’ sounds destructive. So it would not be right to compare the two. May God bless you as you learn to guard your heart.

    • Lyn on October 24, 2017 at 1:33 pm

      So sorry Kathy. That is a terrible way to be treated! It helped me to secretly record my husband’s outburst. Playing it back and hearing it from the third person perspective helped me see, after 36 years in a relationship with him, that nothing I did merited his treating me this way. I was not the cause of his abuse, he was. Enlightenment and Education has been key for change in my life and Home. The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Pat Evans was a game changer for me starting the night I recorded him. Praying for you to be free from abuse as I now am. Lyn

  2. Anewanon on October 11, 2017 at 8:12 am

    >Did you know that you could have very good boundaries and still be kind and loving at the same time? Perhaps that is what God is teaching you to do so that you are a light and an imitator of God who lives a life of love >
    This is a tough one because the enemy or perpetrator once given an ear or a chance to speak will rewrite history or speak lies and it simply hurts my heart and the hearts of my children. He is a slanderer and a hypocrite and I tend to want to cling to the Timothy Verde off having Nothing to do with them.

    • Aly on October 11, 2017 at 9:33 am

      Anewanon,

      I can relate~ I’ve been praying about ‘my response here’ because this post hits such core areas of my journey. While I agree with so much of what Leslie V. wrote, there are places here that are critical to be discussed and maybe a bit sorted through as we try to hold each other’s hands in community and tender care.

      I’m praying for some discernment and wisdom

  3. JoAnn on October 11, 2017 at 9:58 am

    Leslie’s answer was so very good, and there are a lot of points to take in. What helps me is to realize that other people are acting out of their woundedness, and, like Leslie said, this is about them, not me. Having that boundary in place helps a lot. A friend who I had helped a lot, at great sacrifice to myself, after I had poured out so much for her, turned on me angrily with rage. It was very hard to not rage back, and I prayed for grace to shield my own heart from her rage. We have not had a relationship since, but I still pray for her because the Lord in me loves her. Knowing that the other person is wounded, as we all are, inspires me to pray for that person, even though we can’t have a relationship. To pray for those who harm you is a godly way to change the way you feel about the other person. And it takes grace.

  4. Rebecca on October 11, 2017 at 11:07 am

    I think the best advice I can offer for this question is to ‘leave and cleave’ first and foremost. After that I think that honoring our elders doesn’t mean obey.

    • Aleea on October 17, 2017 at 10:19 am

      “leave and cleave” ☑ + “honoring our elders doesn’t mean obey” ☑

      Absolutely, leave and become one!

      . . .And elders don’t automatically need to be obeyed. . . .Respect and honor elders but that does not mean obey them, per se.

      . . . .The really, really tricky thing is determining *beforehand* the level of Christ and Christianity living in the person you choose to cleave to. . . .Orthodoxy as right belief will cost us little. It will allow us to sit back with our Pharisaic doctrines, guarding the “truth” with the purity of our interpretations. But orthodoxy, as believing in the right way, as bringing love to the world around us and within us . . .that will cost us everything. . . .Because to live by that sword, as we all know, is to die by it. —So, so hard. In truth, there was only one Christian —ever and He died on the cross.

  5. Aleea on October 11, 2017 at 11:23 am

    “Friend, how have you been able to show love to unlovely people or those who you have struggled to be in good relationship with?”

    . . .So, just to get this out of the way, I don’t even know what love really is and I have worked so hard to understand it. . . .Only “love” that continues to flow in the face of anger, blame, illness, and indifference can really be called N.T. love. All else is simply transactions. . . .I haven’t learned much, but I learned that directly from Jesus in the Gospels. When I enter those texts, go beneath the words, discover the experiences that made the words necessary, and seek the meaning to which the words point. . . . .that is what I see and I don’t see much of that type/style love in reality. I see transactions, one right after the next in the real world. I think people learn to use some kinds of doubletalk (some things make more sense in Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke) than in Greek (the language the N.T. is in) to cover commands from the Bible that may be completely unworkable in reality without truly redefining the words and message of Christ. . . . .Christ becomes what is simply projected onto Him. Re: “I Am Christ by Michael Sherlock” and “Authenticating the Words of Jesus by Bruce Chilton, Craig Evans, et.al.” . . .But eventually, the time arrives to put away childish things, remembering that all things work out for the good for those who love the Lord.

    . . .Okay, . . .so what Leslie says here, to me, seems really insightful and important: “Here are some more questions I might ask myself when I feel upset when someone has been disrespectful or thoughtless. “In what ways am I disrespectful or thoughtless towards myself?” Wow, that opens up a whole new way of looking at things. Perhaps I was triggered because their thoughtlessness is pointing me to a bigger problem in my own stewardship of me. Or here’s another question, “In what ways am I disrespectful or thoughtless towards others?” You know the old phrase, “it takes one to know one.” Perhaps I’m so reactive to thoughtlessness in others because I’m guilty of the same at times.” . . .Just Brilliant! I love that: Work inside. In the factory of yourself, in our COREs. . . .It can’t flow to the outside unless it was manufactured inside. Love is an inside job. If we are letting the Holy Spirit *daily* deeply clean our hearts so God’s love can get in there and if we are being kind and gentle and loving and caring *to ourselves*. . . .then, then the archetype of Christ in you flows to the outside world. Everything cycles to the outside world from the inside (Luke 6:45 “A good woman brings good things out of the good treasure of her heart. . .”). . . . For me, healing is about learning to love myself. I only accept your mistakes and flaws to the degree that I accept my own. I only love you to the degree I love myself.

    Leslie also says “One thing that’s been helpful to me is whenever someone causes me pain, instead of staying focused on what he or she is doing wrong, I ask myself and God a couple of self-reflection questions. Here’s one: What area in my own life is unhealed or immature that is being poked at right now that I need to take a look at?” . . . .Absolutely!!! Most probably, the battle is won by awareness. . . .Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a far deeper understanding of ourselves. Those things point to what is still wild and unhealed inside us and why (—secondary gains, ideals, transference, scapegoat mechanisms re: The Cross and Cross-Transference, et.al.) Most misunderstandings in the world could reduced if people would simply take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?”

    . . .We cannot be protected from the things that frighten and deeply hurt us, but if we can identify with the part of our being that is responsible for transformation (the Holy Spirit), then we are always the equal, or more than the equal of the things that confront us. But if we cannot change our minds, we cannot change anything because once we accept our limits, we can go beyond them. . . .Or more simply: when you see a “good person,” think of becoming like her/him. When you see someone not so good, reflect on your own weak points.

    That I forgive insults, love my enemy in the name of Christ, that must surely include myself. I am the enemy who must be loved too. (I) am the enemy that is in most need of long-suffering instead of calling myself “Raca,” and condemning and raging against myself. . . . I myself stand in most need of the alms of my own kindness. —Again, love is an inside job! A truly compassionate attitude towards ourselves (―internally, in our CORE) is the only way to have it for others. If we get it right internally, all that cycles out into our worlds, even if others behave negatively or hurt us. Only the development of compassion and understanding for ourselves (―really important, ourselves internally) can bring that to others❣♡ ۵ 😊 💕

  6. Nancy on October 11, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    There is a lot here to think about.

    My h and I came to exactly this conclusion after re-engaging with our mothers after many months ‘off’: The first is that to even consider wether reconciliation is possible, there has to be interaction.

    The question is ‘what is reconciliation?’

    For us, our boundaries and ‘time off’ are a time of healing and ( attempted and imperfect) forgiveness. We now have to re-engage in a loving way that allows us the option to graciously take a break, or walk away – when lines are crossed, and our feedback is not received. This means that we may only end up with a VERY superficial relationship with our mothers, but it will be peaceful because we took breaks or ended the outing when dis-respected.

    So is this a reconciled relationship? I’m guessing that, yes…a very superficial one.

    And yes…it means ( above all, for me at least), that I don’t deman or expect relationship.

    This last piece is grief filled.

    • Aly on October 11, 2017 at 7:59 pm

      Nancy, Leslie, and others

      Thanks for posting here. I’m struggling a bit with my understanding of this blog post and the response answer given from Leslie V.

      (I am forming some questions, I post later)

      For me, there still seems like so many unknowns of the family system and what’s been taking place. Maybe this is just my own junk here?

      It took a long time for my husband to even be willing to look at his ‘family of origin’ (his loyalty and identity issues that formed from it) and see what took place in the formative years are still taking place in our present lives and what was being manifested and modeled passed down for our children by sacred pivotal people we truly love.

      (My analogy might be thinking of a 3 yr old having a tantrum, then seeing behavior that still is the same tantrum.. it will look very different on a 8yr old, 12 yr old and 16 yr old~ it evolves is my point and grows 😝)

      I do think that who we give our most precious time to (which is really God’s anyway) is so important in relation to building of the kingdom.

      My relationships or interactions with those that are more functional/superficial ~ Do NOT get our precious places of time and energy~
      My family of origin didn’t like this boundary (more of our unavailability) that much or that they were unwilling to stop the peace-faking even though they were invited in to an authentic relationship with us. In fact as you know Nancy, they actually desired to be peacefakers ~ because that’s what they are most comfortable with.

      I even have a hard time with the word ‘superficial’, maybe I need to see it as operational. ??

      But it is my heart that I believe God models for us the invitation of an ‘authentic relationship’ with him that I want to model for those ‘closest’ in my reach and even for those I come into more contact with and over time develop more of a relationship with.
      So I guess for me there are expectations that individuals (let’s say ext. family here) wanting that level of time and availability from me would want to have a healthy respectful and authentic relationship.

      I no longer want to put myself or my own children through the thinking that we have an ‘ext. family unit’ where we can share holidays and special milestones with that loves and cares for us (as we do them) ….only to find out later on that it’s all a joke and good acting!

      For me, it’s been a long battle as my husband has come out of thinking ‘it’s normal and good’ to do superficial because it’s what most our families preferred. They really didn’t want to know us~ but we needed to be cardboard cutouts~ the more we participated it hindered our process and it hindered their own. Out of love and a lot of ‘many times’ trying to reconcile, we see the benefit of not contributing to the unhealth of the system.
      Our marriage i think reaps the benefit of not being in an environment (especially for my husband, since it’s any easy temptation for him to normalize and idealize as value).

      • Aly on October 11, 2017 at 8:44 pm

        To the writer of the post, and to Leslie V.

        I have questions about this post and the directives. I think you did a great job of bringing important places of growth for our own healing but I’m struggling with some areas that I feel were touched on but maybe addressed at a different level of criticalness.
        Maybe I’m way off and misunderstanding, I’ve been praying about my questions here and my take away.

        To the writer;
        You said;
        ” Long story short, I have chosen to drastically limit my time around my in-laws because of their (mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law) recurrent expressions of control, condemnation, and lack of respect for me (and my “no “) and the lack of repentance and ownership they express when they have been confronted on these behaviors.”

        Do you feel understood and validated by your husband for what is taking place and where you don’t feel respected? Does he have your back on valid issues that you are feeling important?

        Or does it feel like he is compromising because they are his family unit?

        Writer you wrote:
        “I set up a goal to work towards reconciliation this year – foolishly thinking I was ready, but realizing God is still working on me to bring me to a healthier place. I don’t know where my in-laws stand on desiring reconciliation.”

        Reconciliation is two ways, maybe God is working on you and maybe He is also working on your in-laws?

        You continued;
        “This gets complicated when my husband is reluctantly limiting the time we spend with his family, but he still calls or spends time with them when he’s at work. ”

        Why is he reluctant? I’m wondering about this because I think it becomes more of his place to express why he is reluctant to showing some union and preference toward his wife.

        You wrote;
        ” I feel guilty for not “getting along” with them when that is so important to him and I feel some betrayal when he spends time with them and that he doesn’t allow me to hear his conversations with them.”

        This is a bigger marital problem to me than an in law issue?

        I also am wondering about why you would feel guilty if you feel like you are continuing to be disrespected in their company and they know you don’t like it but continue with their behavior?
        Am I understanding this at all from your perspective?

        When a husband struggles standing for his wife (having her back) in front of his family of origin there are some serious loyalty things to uncover.
        I wonder if this behavior happens in other relationships with you and your husband where he isn’t as affected when his wife is feeling disrespected?

        Have you experienced other times or places where you feel your husband has your back on important things?

        My husband struggled terribly in seeing just how immature and
        Passive he was with this area of our marriage and how it created more of an insecure relationship overall.

        I guess to me this post seems to do a lot more with marital dynamics and the illness of the family system pulling them down rather than showing love to someone unloving?

        There is a lot more here to deal with given the nature of it being the husband’s parents and I do believe it’s the husband’s job to deal with his parent and siblings as a way to hedge a healthier boundary for his marital success. He just might not be seeing the forest over the trees.

        • Rebecca on October 11, 2017 at 9:51 pm

          I am reminded of the term emotional incest. This is when a parent uses a child (of any age) to fulfill their emotional needs. It is a violation of their child’s live and trust too great to endure. I find emotional and all other forms of incest deplorable and don’t believe such behavior needs accommodation but rather termination of the relationship.

      • Nancy on October 12, 2017 at 6:14 am

        Hi Aly,

        I hear what you are saying – about not wanting to spend time ‘pretending’ or peacefakng. What my h and I found – when we met my mother for a two hour lunch – was that we came together like never before, and those two hours were the most real we’d ever been, in her presence.

        Our counsellor had suggested that if either was feeling anxious we just ‘check in’ with one another- turn to one another for example, and have a private conversation. We did this every OFTEN: Held hands, put my hand on his knee, he’d ask me how I was doing, had private interactions that when asked about I’d said, “oh, I was just talking to him”. These things created a boundary around us and re-informed our ‘new way of being’ in her presence.

        Our kids felt free-Er too, to interact with grandma by showing her their art, have conversations about their activities.

        A big part of the problem when we dealt with his mother was that we didn’t even sit together. So we weren’t able to ‘cling to’ one another. Even though both the interactions were very draining, we learned A LOT about one another, and how not to be so easily divided. This is a SUPER important thing for us to practice.

        Will we practice this each week-end? No. But as The Lord leads, we will continue building.

        For us, re-building with our mothers is about learning how to love. First ourselves, then one another, and then, them.

        • JoAnn on October 12, 2017 at 8:38 am

          I feel happy just reading this, Nancy. Well done! Progress!!

          • Nancy on October 12, 2017 at 6:45 pm

            Thanks JoAnn. Continuing to Walk through the forgiveness material from Hope for the heart has helped to desensitize my internal triggers, quite a bit.

            One of the points that struck me was that forgiveness means to let go of my right to replay the offence in my mind. That involves a constant ‘taking thoughts captive to Christ’ type of commitment.

            Through this process my heart has warmed toward my mother. I recognize her limits and can respect them – she won’t be who I need, or want her to be. That does not mean that I can or should trust her with anything personal. Where she is does not allow her to be able to handle any type of intimacy well. She is not trustworthy.

            But I have come to recognize that to honour my mother means that I give.her dignity. I’ve thought a lot about this. At it’s foundation I think it means to respect her. And what is respect? To treat her as a separate person with her own values, opinions, beliefs etc… Wishing or expecting for her to be something that she is not, is perhaps at it’s core….disrespectful of me.

            And so I enter back into relationship with her ( with entirely new boundaries around my marriage) to the degree that her limits allow. And I respect them. I think that this is me giving her dignity.



          • JoAnn on October 12, 2017 at 8:14 pm

            Nancy, I love your new perspective. Really right on. I really appreciate June Hunt’s writings on forgiveness. I have used her brochure to help a lot of my clients. We all need to learn forgiveness, do we not? As I’ve posted before, forgiving my own mother changed our relationship entirely. It was so freeing, and enabled me to lovingly care for her in the last two years of her live without bitterness. She wasn’t abusive, but I did have to let go of a bunch of her stuff that she had dumped on me. Respecting her limitations and honoring her for coping with her own wounds in a way that served her well, even though as a counselor, I would have said it wasn’t a very good way. Denial and reframing, etc. Setting her free from falling short of God’s standard….don’t we all?
            So, I am congratulating you for the major steps you have taken since I have known you on this blog. I hope that when Leslie has her conference, I can meet you and others who I have learned so much from. Bless you!



          • Nancy on October 14, 2017 at 10:35 am

            I’ve watched a couple of videos of June Hunt. Thank you for the recommendation. The one on her personal testimony of forgiving her father, broke my heart.

            My perspective has been wrong 💔

            I thank our merciful God for loving me through this. I was holding bitterness- out of fear, I think. Fear of being hurt by her not living up to what I desperately…oh so desperately; needed from her.

            For so long JoAnn, I have wished she were dead out of sheer selfishness – because all of it was too damn painful.

            I am so grateful for my Lord who loves me despite knowing all my sin.

            What an awesome God we serve



          • JoAnn on October 14, 2017 at 1:40 pm

            AMEN! This blog has been so helpful in so many ways. Bless you, Leslie, for setting up. It’s like group therapy. So beneficial.



        • Aly on October 12, 2017 at 10:27 am

          Nancy,

          Thanks for your reply;) I’m so thrilled for you both and the experience and blessing you had with your mother-in-law. We can give praise to God and to His ways!💜🌈

          Our (in law situation) has different components with having fathers in laws too. It had and was always much easier to just have one of the parents verses both of them~ which is pretty rare and non existent for us as an option let alone the entire system.

          Our lunch experience would be like having 10 of your mother in laws and them being unwilling to do anything individually or without the tribe 😂

          • Nancy on October 12, 2017 at 4:15 pm

            Yes, Aly. Praise to God in His ways! ( this was my prayer request this week.At my Bible Study, we are studying Romans, and in chapter 3 verse 17 says His way of peace they do not know. My request was that I Would fully submit to Him in this re-building because I HAVE NO CLUE of His way of peace).

            I can see how their refusal to separate from the tribe puts you and your h in a very difficult position indeed!



    • JoAnn on October 17, 2017 at 11:58 pm

      I think that how you define relationship is key here. There are different levels of relationship, and while we may want a deeper level of relationship with another person, so much depends on the capacity that the other has for a deeper level. Our ties to our mothers are intrinsic, but depend so much on the quality of the bonding/attachment experience, so while we yearn for more connection, if the mother doesn’t have the capacity for it, we will always be frustrated. You might want to do some reading about Attachment Theory, which addresses this. Also, I just discovered a book called “Created for Connection” by Dr. Sue Johnson that addresses couple relationships according to AT. In the end, I believe, our attachment to God is the most safe and secure, and will satisfy this longing better than any human can. As we develop an intimate relationship with Him, we can become less dependent on others for that sense of connection that our hearts long for.

  7. DJ on October 11, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    I feel like you are possibly fighting condemnation that if you were just nicer, more kind, and patient that you wouldn’t be dealing with this and that their behaviors toward you would improve. Give yourself a break. You said they are controlling and disrespectful and don’t seem to be repentant when you bring it up. It sounds like you are trying to have boundaries in place for your own well being and your husband is worrying about what they think. It sounds like he is having a hard time acknowledging their behavior toward you by saying you take things too personal. If he would acknowledge your feelings and be willing to see what is going on, I’m sure that would make all this much easier for you. However, right now he is not. My advice is, continue with the boundaries as you are led of the Lord, pray before being around them, that the Lord would help you be gracious without enabling their behavior. And ask the Lord to provide you with a prayer partner that can pray for both you and your husband while you are with his family. I’m sure this has been very hurtful and disappointing to you. At times, you might have to be an example to them of what Christlikeness looks like. However, the Lord knows where you are and what you can handle. When you need to pull back, don’t feel bad about it and get into condemnation. No one can act like they are supposed to around mean spirited people without much help and grace from the Lord. He sees, he knows, and he cares. Rest in that!

    • Rebecca on October 11, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      I guess I struggle with our discussion of boundaries. They seen too much like action of accommodation, when some relationships need to be permanently severed. Yes, severed, even if they are family members. Don’t let the word family mean obligation. An abuser is an abuser no matter how we try to put lipstick on the pig.

      • Barbara on October 12, 2017 at 4:38 pm

        The question here is about how to maintain difficult relationships. Abuse is a different question. Leslie has presented some good guidelines on how to distinguish between disappointing, difficult, and destructive relationships and it seems the original writer had questions about a difficult relationship. Thank the Lord He gave us guidelines about boundaries in His word so we can see the path forward when the problems do not warrant severance (as in abuse) but do need strong boundaries due to immaturity or differing values. I’m so grateful for good teaching on boundaries because with this concept I learn to care for myself, think about my responsibilities, and focus on my behavior rather than futilely trying to change other people! The hard work of boundaries is, as Leslie pointed out, taking an honest look at myself to see my part in the dance and, as others have mentioned, working on releasing my expectations and any controlling ways I have practiced. Difficult relationships have a way of bringing these things to light!

        • JoAnn on October 12, 2017 at 5:06 pm

          Well said, Barbara. Thank you ..

        • Nancy on October 12, 2017 at 6:26 pm

          Barbara,

          I like what you said here, “…working on releasing my expectations and controlling ways I have practiced. Difficult relationships have a way of bringing these things to light!”

          So. True.

    • JoAnn on October 11, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      I think you explain this very well, DJ. I especially like that you said: “My advice is, continue with the boundaries as you are led of the Lord, pray before being around them, that the Lord would help you be gracious without enabling their behavior. And ask the Lord to provide you with a prayer partner that can pray for both you and your husband while you are with his family.” Good advice.

      • Nancy on October 12, 2017 at 6:24 am

        I agree with you JoAnn. DJ, this is excellent advice!

      • JoAnn on October 12, 2017 at 8:40 am

        To be gracious when with an “enemy” is to take the high road, the Christ road.

        • DJ on October 12, 2017 at 8:27 pm

          Thank you JoAnn and Nancy for your affirmation and kindness! Just sharing with the writer what came to mind. Blessings to you both!

    • Teena on October 24, 2017 at 9:49 am

      Excellent DJ!

      I had the same issue with my in laws and it WAS me feeling condemned for how I felt about them.

      I believe the person writing this question will benefit from your answer.

      I wish I knew this 30 yrs. ago. My Mother In-Law has passed and we no longer get together as much. I eventually realized that this dynamic is nothing more than being around people who are different than me. They are loud gossips that steal. I did not have great comfort with that. In fact, when my husband got around his family, he acted like them. In hind sight, he was just being himself and cleaning himself up for me.

      Like Paul, we receive different people to win them to Christ. We don’t judge them and don’t become them, but we certainly cannot avoid them.

      I would always pray before being around them and even have a conversation with the Lord afterward.

      Whatever you do, do it unto The Lord as serving Him. This makes it easier.

      • DJ on October 25, 2017 at 10:42 am

        Good morning Teena,

        Unfortunately for me, but it has proved to be helpful to others, I have walked through various difficult relationships on both my side and my husband’s side in my past. So much of what I share is from experience and the remaining is coming from the thoughts the Lord gives me to share. I have come to realize that the familiarity of family of origin behaviors can “rub off on” or pull a spouse back into those behavior patterns when that person is around their own family, unless they are aware and mindful of that happening and the tendency to pick up on those familiar behavior patterns and “act just like them.” That is not a cut and dry answer for every scenario, but it is the case in many situations.
        That is the reason prayer is so important before encountering those relationships. Also, there are times that the spouse decides to not interact with their own family or origin for a while, due to the above reasons and for their own healing and wholeness. Good to read your comments. Blessings to you!

        • Aly on October 25, 2017 at 11:01 am

          DJ,

          So well put! I have had a similar path and my husband as well.
          Unfortunately it was my own family of origin that proved themselves to not be healthy to interact with ‘at all’ at this point.

          The door is always open for them, but ‘on healthy terms’ where they can take responsibility… otherwise are at great risk for the foxes to destroy our vineyard~ what we should had done pre~ marriage now having to do after.

          • DJ on October 26, 2017 at 12:12 pm

            Isn’t is wonderful that our Heavenly Father understands each situation and is faithful to guide his children to respond or pull back according to what he knows is needed. There is no one like him! 💕💕



  8. Rebecca on October 11, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    Another difficult combination is when one must work with destructive family members in a family businesses. Those whom are isolated like in dairy farming or ranching have my heart on this. Imagine the hardship of being geographically isolated and financially bound to abusive family members. The ability to remove oneself from peril seems almost impossible. Manipulation can run deep and rampant with in family businesses.

  9. Sarah on October 12, 2017 at 5:45 am

    This post is so remarkably timely for me that I laughed out loud. Thank you so much to Leslie–I will be rereading this and praying about it. I wrote out a four paragraph post, but decided not to post it right now for privacy reasons. However, this is really helpful for me. Perhaps I will post my longer response later.

    Thanks again,

    S.

  10. Sophia on October 12, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    I too am grateful for this post. We recently found it necessary to sever an abusive family member. In therapy recently I was exposed to the idea that FAMILY members…attend to, validate, care for…others are only RELATIVES AND DO NOT HAVE AN EQUAL STANDING IN OUR LIVES. I realize this leaves much room for differences along the spectrum. But I do find it freeing not to be chained to destructive people merely because I am blood related and a believer.

    • Sophia on October 12, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Sever an abusive family member relationship that is!

  11. Barbara on October 12, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    To me, the original post and Leslie’s response highlight the importance of the teaching about Disappointing, Difficult, or Destructive relationships. As the original writer said, I think all of us here want to be loving no matter what but since love can look so different depending on the type of person being loved, I can struggle knowing exactly how to love appropriately. I’ve been thinking a lot today about how my emotions such as fear, anger, and grief might be the same in any one of those three levels of hard relationships with people. This emotional one-size-fits-all blanket might cause me to make a mistake about which kind of love to offer, whether it is lovingly overlooking things for Disappointment or lovingly severing ties with Destructive. Everything I’ve said up until now is a long way of saying an accurate diagnosis is really important and I will probably have the most confidence in the accuracy of my diagnosis if I base it on careful observation of myself and the other person in addition to my feelings about the situation. It’s good for me to be reminded that I need to start with myself first, probably taking a hard look at my expectations and emotions, before assessing the other person.

    • Nancy on October 13, 2017 at 9:55 am

      Your points are so helpful, Barabara.

      Learning to trust our own feelings, and being connected to ourselves is the first step in ushering us into reality. Without this step we cannot take the next one of guarding our heart.

      But you are right that I can feel intense feelings in different relationships and I have to then become a bit more discerning, than ONLY relying on my feelings ( I don’t stuff them, I just consider other factors, as well).

      “This emotional one-size-fits-all blanket might cause me to make a mistake about which kind of love to offer” This is KEY to moving to the next step in our emotional and spiritual journeys.

      For myself, I have gone through the process of identifying destructive relationships, and then setting boundaries in order to guard my heart. Now, some of those relationships have gone from destructive to difficult, and that’s -I think- is because I have become much better at guarding my heart and doing what is required to keep that as a priority, as I interact with these ridged people. If I need to leave, then I pray for God’s strength to be able to do so with His Peace (I recently had a big fail in not listening to my gut and leaving. But that’s mine ( and my h’s), not the other person that we were interacting with)).

      I guess what I want to add to your point of ‘accurate diagnosis is important’, is that also the diagnosis of a relationship may very well change as we practice walking in CORE ( as JoAnn pointed out, when one family member changes the whole family system changes – not necessarily out of a HEART change, but simply as a natural consequence of doing something different) If we are not willing to push ourselves then we can get stuck in our old definition and become trapped by fear.

      Forgiveness has been KEY for me in beginning to re-engage in a new way. Hey, Leslie. Do you think that F should be added to CORE. Hm….COREF sort of loses the whole point, eh? Well, anyways, Forgiveness ( not reconciliation) has been key for me as The Lord has used my h and I to move destructive relationships, into difficult ones.

      Who knows? Maybe the next step is they will become disappointing…..but I get ahead of myself and may be re-engaging in magical thinking…! Back to Truth: we are now dealing with difficult relationships. And as a result, we need to adjust what kind of love to offer.

      • Barbara on October 14, 2017 at 2:12 pm

        Nancy, what a great success story! How wonderful to see movement from Destructive to Difficult, which I know doesn’t always happen, but is an extra blessing for doing the hard work of boundaries. Leslie always points out that when we set boundaries it’s really best for the other person, too, because they get an opportunity to repent from their sinful behavior. Your story illustrates that point and it’s so encouraging to hear, so thanks for sharing.

  12. Maria on October 15, 2017 at 8:26 am

    I know many of us are dealing with narcissistic personalities. Here is an interesting article:

    https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/narcissism-and-the-dynamics-of-evil.html

  13. Jami on October 15, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    Someone just today pointed me to this blog, so newbie here! 🙂 this article hit me right off the bat. My husband has had a rough past with his parents, there was abuse with his father among other things and has left him scarred. As a teen he left for a few years and made his way back home and there was what seemed like healing for everyone.

    Several years later we marry, have children and move in next door (woops). The first few years went well and then my husband made a challenging life decision that made him withdraw from his family. That was the beginning. It all fell hard from there. They didn’t understand how hard it was for him and why some things needed time. So instead of being supportive they ripped him apart and confronted what they believed to be his wrongs and made his healing much harder.

    After two years, and a lot of pain, we moved and decided to sever our relationship with them mostly for our children’s sake, (there was an incident that crossed a line from discipline to borderline abusive in our minds, for them it was a necessary “correction”) but for our own health as well.

    I am a fixer at heart, it’s hard for me to have this separation, but any interaction shows no change. My husband is the most firm and it could be years before he is ready to even consider reconciling. My four year old misses his Grandma though, and it breaks my heart and I feel like in trying to protect him I am also hurting him. It’s such a hard balance.

    One of the frustrating parts is his parents are leaders in their church, devout Christians. Which makes it seem like we are just overreacting and causing an unnecessary and hurtful problem. I don’t know how to strengthen my resolve. Even if I become ready to reconcile my husband may not be and he is my priority, my primary allegiance. But i get these annoying doubts, and what-ifs and struggle with being at peace with the whole situation. After so much conflict how can I feel peaceful about it?

    • Rebecca on October 16, 2017 at 11:08 am

      Take peace in letting your husband lead. He is still the expert on his abuse. It always easier on the in law (you) because you are once removed. They are not your parents.

      As difficult as it sounds your son’s desire to see his grandma should not trump the important work of separation from abusers. Imagine the betrayal to your husband. Let him lead. He is right. God gives a good man the burden of protecting his family.

      In any way is your mother in law playing on your child’s emotions to get you all back in the fold? She has a role to set your family free. She had her children. Your son is yours. Maybe your mother in law needs other things to keep her busy and or identities her self value with grandparenting. Or, this is a rough question, did you let your mother in law do too much parenting of your son?
      Reclaim you child’s heart and. trust. Speak nicely of grandma, but move on as you step up your nurturing.

      Just my first impression here. Perfectly fine to disagree or clarify circumstances to me.

    • DJ on October 16, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      After so much conflict, how can you feel peaceful about it?

      Phil. 4:6-7 says be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving, present your requests (burdens) to God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.

      Based on that scripture and your tendency to want to “fix” things; the best way to help would be to give God the burden you feel about it all through prayer and ask him to take control of the entire situation. Also, rest (in your mind) and realize that your husband is much more familiar with his family and their dynamics than you are. Trust in that and that if he believes a separation is best for a time or a long season, then the Lord knows how to give your son what he needs through you (his parents) and/or other healthy relationships.

      Separating from parents feel so wrong and abnormal, but in many cases, it is what is needed to bring about healing to the victim(s) and to hopefully bring about conviction and enlightenment to those who have done the controlling, manipulating, and dominating. I hope this makes sense.
      Blessings to you!

      • Aly on October 16, 2017 at 2:00 pm

        DJ, & Jamie

        I so agree with your comments to Jamie!
        Parents (inlaws etc) definitely will bring their own unhealed issues into these dynamics…. especially if it’s never been exposed or addressed accordingly. Some are so ver veiled and your husband could be seeming things for what they ARE, rather than what ideally we might want to believe they are or could be.

        I’ve been in similar shoes of your husband and from the sounds of it he’s choosing to decide what’s best for the health of him and of his family (you and your children).

        • JoAnn on October 16, 2017 at 2:06 pm

          You’re right; many things aren’t ours to fix. Give that job to the Lord. We can sew on a button or glue a piece of china, but the Lord does the job of fixing broken hearts; we just need to give Him the pieces.

  14. Nancy on October 16, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Hi Jami,

    Welcome! A clear boundary around your marriage is so important, and I commend you and your h for prioritizing your marriage. ( this is something that for the past year, my h and I have been doing – with regards to our parents- and it has made such a difference in our marital relationship. We are experiencing the wisdom of the Biblical advice, to leave and cleave).

    My impression is that your h needs time to heal and I would imagine that whatever ‘borderline abusive’ incident that happened with your children, brought his own past crashing in on him. Also, your in-laws sound like ’emotional boundary busters’ as well, since instead of supporting his need for space after his ‘challenging life decision’, they ‘ ripped him apart’.

    The caution that I would offer, that comes to my mind, is that sometimes once we remove ourselves from the danger ( you have physically moved, and severed your relationship in order to keep from your h ( and kids) from being trespassed upon), there is a tendency to go into denial, instead of healing.

    If I were you I would strongly encourage your h to go into counselling to deal with his past.

    Also, you sound like a reasonable person to me. Is there no way that you could talk to your h about you taking your kids to see grandma for a supervised, short period of time? You could talk about the boundaries that he would need in place, in order to feel that you were respecting his limits (with parents like that, your h NEEDS to know that you will respect his limits, which it sounds as though you dong).

    Anyways, those are my thoughts.

    God Bless you as you draw near to Him, and your h, as try to discern God’s will for the relationship with his parents.

    • Nancy on October 16, 2017 at 10:42 am

      When I said, ‘talk about the boundaries he would need in place’.

      Maybe a better way to say this is, ‘ask him what boundaries he would need you to respect during a grandma visit, that would make him feel safe.’

    • Nancy on October 16, 2017 at 10:45 am

      correction, ” which sounds as though you are doing.”

      not ‘as though you dong’ lol.

    • Rebecca on October 16, 2017 at 11:15 am

      Excellent point about denial. I wonder if Leslie has done a post on it? What is it and why our brains do it would be good to review. You are right, moving on to healing should be the next step. I think of it as the scales falling off our eyes.

      • Nancy on October 16, 2017 at 11:47 am

        Thanks, Rebecca. I see it like this: Denial is such a temptation. When being abused, we just want the pain to stop. Once we are safe, there is such relief.

        The healing process also causes pain. Who wants to initiate a painful process? The difference is that healing pain leads to Life, instead of (destructive relational) pain that leads to death.

        But our emotional selves can’t distinguish between the two. Pain is pain. Maybe denial is simply avoidance of pain.

        So, it’s very important to be ‘iron sharpening iron’ where we encourage one another to enter into the healing process. This is where Jami can encourage her husband, and if he’s resistant (hopefully not), insist on it – for the sake of the health of the marriage and children.

        • JoAnn on October 16, 2017 at 12:31 pm

          This is really the difference between putting up with a toothache and going to the dentist to have it pulled. In the end, while the surgery is painful, it allows the body to heal, so ultimately there is no pain.

    • JoAnn on October 16, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      Hi, Jami, I welcome you, too. Nancy has given some very good advice, and I fully support what she said, especially about your husband getting counseling, from a Christian therapist, if possible. He will need help to learn how to forgive, and for some good scriptural help with that, I suggest you visit June Hunt’s web site, hopefortheheart.org. She has both a booklet and a brochure that are very helpful to understand forgiveness and why it is so important. Be assured, forgiveness does not require reconciliation. the former takes only one person, while the latter takes both parties.
      Also, if you visit the previous posts for this question, you will learn that many here have had issues with parents and how they are dealing with it.
      Grace to you, and peace.

  15. Jami on October 16, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Thanks for all the support!! This has been a difficult couple of years (we have a child in a wheel chair, 6 years old, and 3 younger! Yikes!!), and I didn’t imagine waking up this morning to all of this encouragement!

    To answer briefly, my husband sought counseling with an amazing Christian counselor and that is what actually brought us to this point. I should have specified better, he feels mostly through the healing (is it ever really over this side of Heaven?), and the separation is for protective purposes, to not continue to allow his immediate family to be hurt or enable his parents to continue to hurt us.

    Letting the Lord fight these battles, trusting my husband to lead, trusting the Lord to meet our needs, praying for all involved, all of these things I know, just hard to remember sometimes. I hesitated to comment, but did anyways and woke up to way more support than I had two days ago. I also reached out to someone this past weekend and through that had another need provided for in a way that could only be God. I am seeing how important it is to have people supporting you, for all of this life’s messes.

    Anyways, thanks so much! Looking forward to following this blog and others who follow it! 🙂

    • Nancy on October 16, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      Sounds like your husband and you have responded in an emotionally healthy way, with the guidance of his counsellor. I agree that it’s so important to have wise counsel and ‘right others’ to surround us as we learn to walk in a new way.

  16. JoAnn on October 17, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Yes, He died on the cross and in resurrection became a life-giving spirit (1 Cor. 15:45) so that now He can live in us to also walk in love and light. (Gal 2:20, Col. 1:27) We can only love by His life in us. The God of love is in our spirit, and we can live by His life within.

    • Aleea on October 17, 2017 at 8:36 pm

      “We can only love by His life in us.” . . . .His life in us. . . .His life, real life. We can’t give any kind of real love at all. Nobody is capable of true love. All of our “love” is just a transaction without His life. Only love that continues to flow in the face of anger, blame, illness, and indifference can really be called New Testament-style love. All else is simply transactions. Re: Falling in Love with Jesus: Abandoning Yourself to the Greatest Romance of Your Life.

      “We can only love by His life in us. The God of love is in our spirit, and we can live by His life within.” JoAnn, that is such a beautiful statement and I understand that. —And when I read the gospels, I fall in love with Christ, slowly, and then all at once. It is like a magnet that reaches to my heart and just pulls me. My heart, at times, can be as black as a coal-pit and twice as foul and in those times even my repentance needs to be repented of. . . . But, I also know I am hopelessly in love with Jesus Christ. I’m never going to get over Him.

      1 Cor. 15:45) + (Gal 2:20, Col. 1:27)
      Absolutely. . . .μια αγάπη τόσο δεξιά (My One love, —So right!)

      In the N.T., (μετάνοια -metánoia, metan’- oy-ah) the ongoing awareness that leads over and over and over to a death—rebirth sequence. Re: Personality and its Transformations. Transformative change by awareness of Christ in our minds and hearts -or- just simply we can live dying everyday: 1 Timothy 4:12; Ephesians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 15:31, et.al. Nothing to do with trying harder or even trying at all.

      “The God of love is in our spirit, and we can live by His life within.” . . .That’s way deeper than I think I really understand. . . . I walk into the mystery of Jesus. I can not define that mystery no matter how I try. It is entirely too deep. . . .My goal is GOD HIMSELF. Not joy, not peace, not even blessing but HIM. If we believe that God loves us without regard to whom we are or what we do, we will worship Him wholeheartedly. We will praise Him with thanksgiving❣♡ ⌘ ღ ツ

      Thank you JoAnn, I appreciate and value your comments, —always.

  17. JoAnn on October 17, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    Aleea, I love that hymn: My goal is GOD HIMSELF, Not joy, nor peace, nor even blessing but HIMSELF, my God. ‘Tis His to lead me there-not mine, but His–At any cost, dear Lord, by any road. No matter if the way be sometimes dark, No matter though the cost be oft-times great, He knoweth how I best shall reach the mark, The way that leads to Him must needs be strait.
    This tells us to stop striving, and to allow Him to take us through these trials and dark places, which are often very narrow, but the narrow paths force us to leave the encumbrances behind. Then: One thing I know, I cannot say Him nay; One thing I do, I press towards my Lord; My God my glory here, from day to day, And in the glory there my great reward.
    Yes, he Himself is our reward. Praise Him!!

  18. Aleea on October 18, 2017 at 3:41 am

    JoAnn,

    I had no idea that was a hymn, a song, —no idea at all. . . . Oh my, and whatever else is going on in the river of God, the water of life, the history of Christian origins, one thing is clear: —It is a VAST, mind-boggling in-love experience. . . .

    Jesus we love you
    Oh how we love you
    You are the one our hearts adore

    (Last time end on)
    Our hearts adore

    . . .No woman is greater than her prayer life. Anyone may study because they are hungry for knowledge, even Bible knowledge. But I pray because my soul is so hungry for God.

    Our affection, our devotion
    poured out on the feet of Jesus (x three)

    Jesus we love you
    Oh how we love you
    You are the one our hearts a-d-o-r-e

    . . . .There are three persons living in each of us: the one we think we are, the one other people think we are, and the one God *knows* we are. . . .Woo Hoo!!! —the one God *knows* we are. —LORD, strengthen me where I am too weak and weaken me where I am too strong! Lord take all my self-pity, self-seeking, self-righteousness, self-interest, self-importance, self-satisfaction—and whatsoever else there be of myself —let me die in You.

    When logic, reason, evidence and the fire of human love fail to open the stony heart, the Holy Spirit will succeed. . . .Who or what takes priority over Christ in our lives?

    “This tells us to stop striving, and to allow Him to take us through these trials and dark places, which are often very narrow, but the narrow paths force us to leave the encumbrances behind.” . . .The narrow paths force us to leave the encumbrances behind. . . .because we have to let go of what we are carrying to squeeze through rocks on a path that tight. . . . .Psalm 84:5-7 . . .There is a way that leads to life. . . .The few that find it never die.

    Cease striving. Then there will be transformation. ☑ . . . —Absolutely, Lord help me! To be a servant of Jesus. . . He means more than the world to me.

  19. Aly on October 18, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Aleea,

    This is true;)
    You wrote;
    “If we believe that God loves us without regard to whom we are or what we do, we will worship Him wholeheartedly. We will praise Him with thanksgiving”

    I love this and by wholeheartedly, it can’t be denied. It can be challenged, it can be debated, but the belief is the beginning of transformation and He loves His own more than I could ever understand or express ~ a mystery of the greatest love to be shared.

    You wrote;
    “God loves us without regard to whom we are or what we do…”
    It’s very hard for many who were not raised in a home where they were mirrored that they were ‘lovable, likable and worthwhile of love, so to grasp a Jesus that loves us is a blessing & journey as it is a mystery of How He keeps His promises. 🌈💜

  20. Aleea on October 19, 2017 at 4:43 am

    That is so, so beautiful Aly!

    “. . . .the belief is the beginning of transformation and He loves His own more than I could ever understand or express ~ a mystery of the greatest love to be shared.”

    It is a t-o-t-a-l mystery. . . .And as I say, I walk into the mystery of Jesus. I can not define that mystery no matter how I try. It is entirely too deep❣♡ . . . .For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. . . . .Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding (ὑπερέχουσα surpassing πάντα all) understanding. . . .will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    “It’s very hard for many who were not raised in a home where they were mirrored that they were ‘lovable, likable and worthwhile of love, so to grasp a Jesus that loves us is a blessing & journey as it is a mystery of How He keeps His promises.”

    —very hard?!?! —very hard?!?! I beg your pardon, young lady, it is a-l-m-o-s-t impossible!!!***** (—I love you Aly💖💜 💟 ღ ツ, I just don’t know how to get across how h-a-r-d it is. —I know, you know but I try below in the footnote*****) . . .I work a lot in counseling on shame, everything growing up was shame-based. . . .☠Shame, ☠ blame, ☣ betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the very roots from which love grows. Shame ☠ corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change. Shame is such a total soul eating emotion☣. . . . Perfectionism is also self destructive and addictive belief system because it fuels the “If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”

    *****That’s the Truth: Reality, —reality is one hard, harsh road. . . . .I think you can easily tell the truth because it is so rarely going to be positive. . . .This is a spiritual battle and no one will succeed without the Holy Spirit. There is NO route out of this maze on our own because our fears and our enemy are living things. They are alive and the maze is constantly restrategizing against us. The maze shifts as I move through it just swallowing me up. I can walk hand-and-hand with Jesus in the freedom of really surrendering to real Love, real Life (Christ) —and it is almost impossible to consistently do (—I’m being honest!), maybe actually impossible (i.e. our models of reality may be inadequate) —And it sure looks like the foolish path so many times. . . .so many times it makes me wonder (—I’m being honest!) —Or, I can stay on those shadowy Elm streets where I let my insecurities cut me to gummy ribbons. There’s a deeper place to go (re: Hebrews, Romans, Philippians) but it is straight up and the slope is a sheer rock wall. . . .At the same time, no one will “white knuckle” themselves to any lasting change. It has to come from a totally new understanding/ realization (A new revelation from the King♚-of-Kings♛ “metanoia” after the transformational experience talked about everywhere in the New Testament. Re: The Great Meaning of Metanoia: The Life and Love of Jesus Christ.) We succeed to the extent our life models map to primary source evidence-based reality. Reality is not the way I wish things would be, hope things would be, pray for things to be, have been led to believe that they are. . . .et.al❣⌘ ⌛ ✈ ⌚

    . . .and thank you so much Aly and thank you for the Rainbow too! ✔ ღ ツ☼ ☁❅

  21. Nancy on October 24, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Today we got an insight into my mother-law’s behaviour. Our counsellor suggested that she may be on the autism spectrum – aspergers. This explains A LOT.

    My husband has always dealt extremely directly with her- to the point of rudeness. That always made me SO UNCOMFORTABLE. And he’d say to me, “that’s the only way she will hear”. It turns out that he’s right. Today, when our counsellor was describing asperger’s I immediately thought of the way an integration aid has to deal with an autistic boy at our daughter’s school. Direct. Clear. Consistent. Almost rude.

    To my ultra-sensitive personality type, my h and his mother’s interactions always shook me up. I’d think, “why is he so abrasive?” It’s as if he’d change when interacting with her. Now I know why. He had to. This is the way I will have to deal with her if we re-initiate contact.

    I suppose I’d try my best to survive the situation, hoping that she’d change, and if she wasn’t that bad, it’d re-inforce my denial. Then something would happen where my h had to go ‘toe-to-toe” with her and it would make me so uncomfortable. Instead of me adapting ( by developing stronger boundaries and stronger verbal ‘no’), I’d enter back into denial hoping she’d change.

    It will be freeing, though, to have a discussion with our daughters about why it can get so darn awkward with their grandma- zero social skills, coupled with her “I want what I want” attitude, along with her zeroing in on anyone who is at all uncomfortable and embarrassing them.

    The rest of her children have moved away. We are the only ones here, tied to her by guilt (she’s severely disabled), just doing our best to survive her.

    It baffles me that I did not see this before now. I have a degree in psychology and am very psychologically minded ( always reading that kind of stuff). How didn’t I see this?

    Anyways, the relief ( in both of us – for different reasons) is palpable!

    Praise God!

    • JoAnn on October 24, 2017 at 6:47 pm

      Nancy, I’m so glad for the insight you got into your mil’s behavior. Don’t beat yourself up about not recognizing it sooner. God reveals things in His time and His way.

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