I am on my way to California – pray for safe travels. Hope to arrive on Friday afternoon.
Moving Beyond People Pleasing will be starting February 9th. If you are someone who has trouble setting boundaries, is easily manipulated into saying yes when you know you should say no, or keep paying the high price of being too nice, this class is for you. For more information click here.
This month I have been helping you “see” your shadow side. Robert Lewis Stevenson’s story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a great example of the split where the one side (Dr. Jekyll) is completely unaware of his shadow, Mr. Hyde.
Don’t get your shadow confused with another psychological term “disassociation”. Disassociation is something all of us do, like zone out when you’re driving over a long stretch of boring road and all of a sudden you “wake up” and wonder where you are. Disassociation is also a natural (and good) response to trauma – where you “zone” out during the trauma and later don’t remember what happened. However, some people who have been repeatedly traumatized in childhood, may develop something that is called Disassociation Identity Disorder where their personality has failed to develop in a whole way and instead is fragmented into various “selves” which feel very separate and unknown to one another.
Try to think of some biblical characters where we see “shadow” selves get the best of them. For example, David, who is described as a man after God’s own heart, also had a greedy, selfish side and sometimes that side got the best of him (2 Samuel 11). When Nathan the prophet confronted him on his “shadow” David saw it, owned it, and humbly repented. (Psalm 51). On the other hand, King Saul was envious of David’s popularity and sought to have David killed (1 Samuel 18). However, Saul continued to be “unaware” of his envious side. He wants to “blame David” instead, and because of his continued blindness, it continued to control his decisions, even when he made claims of repentance (1 Samuel 24).
Implementing The Emotionally Destructive Marriage:
Is It Worth Church Discipline? Pt. 4
In this series of blog posts, I’ve been explaining my response to a recurring situation that some women face in evangelical churches, that of formal disciplinary action taken when the woman begins to implement natural consequences as explained in Leslie’s book. These last two blog posts deal with self serving ways my husband used Scripture against me and my conclusion in this church discipline issue.
“The intentions of a person’s heart are deep waters, but a discerning person reveals them.” (Proverbs 20:5) Since the beginning of our marriage, my husband has used this verse to justify why he doesn’t have to be emotionally transparent with me. It excuses his tendency to “not tell everything” he knows and shifts the onus to me to be discerning enough to ask the right questions to “draw out” his heart and to “really know” him. It conceals the explanation for any questionable behavior behind a thin veil of, “You don’t know me very well because you don’t ask the right questions.” However, even when I did learn how to ask direct questions in a gentle way, I observed that he doesn’t really answer them. Instead, he changes the subject, answers with a question, or redirects the focus of the conversation back to me.
Taken in context, this isolated comment on human nature takes on a completely different meaning. Starting in Proverbs 10, Solomon presents pithy, descriptive sayings that illustrate “the way of wisdom,” which begins with the fear of the LORD. Among these are the following:
“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
He breaks out against all sound judgment.
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
But only in expressing his opinion.” (Proverbs 18:1-2)
From these verses we can reasonably conclude that just because it’s difficult to discern all of one’s motivations, this doesn’t mean that one is justified to obscure and follow his own thinking. God rightly calls this person a fool, not wise, when he isolates himself from revealing himself in a relationship and doesn’t seek to cooperate in understanding the deep waters of his own heart.
Throughout our marriage my husband has kept himself aloof from close relationships. We have lived in eight different cities in our twenty-six years of marriage, moving whenever his vocational desires metamorphosed. He does not maintain connections with previous friends or anyone in his family, except his parents, who reach out to him without probing into his life. Naturally, this constant shifting of community and loss of close friendships has caused me great emotional pain and created a persistent sense of isolation and loneliness.
Couple the proverb about a person’s intentions with 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” and my husband feels that he has a watertight case to assert, “You can’t know my heart, and the Bible requires you to be charitable when there is any possible way to interpret the data of the situation in a positive light.” However, Paul opens the chapter by pointing out that actions done in the name of love, such as communicating fluently in different languages, understanding all the mysteries and knowledge of the universe, and possessing faith to move mountains, but devoid of genuine love are meaningless. In other words, doing whatever you please and calling that love is entirely different from actually loving another person. The first kind of “love” will be characterized by the contraindications in verses 4-6, and 8-12, and true love will look like the rest of the chapter.
One of our previous pastors who is biblically grounded and passionate about his relationship with God explained to a close friend of mine who is also in a difficult marriage, “Generally women who are healthy know what love looks like.” This was in the context of her observing hurtful words and behaviors from her husband. Our pastor was saying that when a woman who follows Christ’s lead does not feel loved by her husband, the problem likely lies not in some flaw in the wife’s perception, but it has to do with the husband’s skewed view of what love really is (more on this topic in another blog post). Therefore, for my husband to require charitable judgment from me without demonstrating a loving life himself isn’t love at all. Rather it’s spiritual compulsion where an emotionally destructive person has license to treat me however he wants and to expect unreserved love in return.
When I found that our last church was not supporting my efforts to diagnose and heal our marriage and excluding me from fully using my gifts in ministry, I asked my husband if we could look for a different home church. I was not alone in my prompting to do this, as at least seven families who had been active in the church in the past had placed their membership at other local congregations over a period of five years.
My husband didn’t consider my opinions about the church’s lack of application of doctrine or my need for relationship as valid. Rather, he was mostly concerned about getting a strong character reference for his next full-time position and keeping the tuition reduction from attending a church in the seminary’s denomination. (tweet this)
He argued that this church was good for our children, and I was the only one who had a problem with it. Couldn’t I consider the needs of my family over my own? When I asked my husband if we could spend time with another family in leadership, my husband was far too busy supporting our family for that. When I requested that a new family with children our children’s ages be added to our small group, they were invited to join one of the other pastor’s groups. When I asked my husband why he didn’t consider my interests when talking to the pastor of member care about the makeup of our small group, he said, “I think you consider your spiritual desires and needs too highly.” Essentially, what I wanted or needed didn’t matter at all.
From the beginning of biblically recorded time, God pronounced curses on the serpent, Eve, and Adam in Genesis 3: Satan would always be at enmity with the children of man, Eve and Adam would have extreme toil in childbearing and providing for the family, respectively, and Eve and Adam would tend to be at enmity between themselves, left to themselves.
Nothing changed about the state of the fallen created order until Jesus Christ provided a solution in His life, death, and resurrection. Then Paul the Apostle describes a new created order for male-female relationships in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5. Both the husband and wife are called, not to “be nice” and “do better,” but to be transformed by their respective identities in Christ. Instead of the wife being “against” her husband from Genesis 3, she is to place herself in harmony with her husband’s authority, “as to the Lord,” or in anything that their LORD would ask of her. Equally important, the husband is required to love his wife as Christ loves her. He is no longer to “rule over her” (Gen. 3) as her god but to empty himself of himself for her, just like Paul in Philippians 2 describes that Jesus did for every believer.
My husband continually expects me to submit to his authority as suits him, while disregarding the commands he is required to follow and laughing derisively at me when I explain how I am experiencing a deeper identification with Christ’s character in me. I’ve found that Colossians 3:18 and Ephesians 5:24 don’t bind me to serve my husband’s preoccupation with self when he makes demands of me that Christ does not. Instead, the onus lies on me to calmly, but firmly, point out how my husband is attempting to “rule over” me instead of loving me.
Friends, what Scripture have you had used against you in your destructive relationships and what ways have you learned not to be bullied by the misuse of Scripture?