Leslie Vernick
March 1st, 2016                                                                                
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Are You The Person Who Is Always Right?

By Leslie Vernick
 

My husband and I were excited to start our much-needed vacation. After we dragged ourselves through airport security we sat down to reassemble ourselves. Glancing up we observed an odd and troubling scene behind the information desk.

 

“Inappropriate!” I said.

 

 “Weird” was the word my husband muttered as we watched a uniformed male employee repeatedly stroke a female employee’s face sitting in front of him.

 

“Is he giving her a facial massage?” My husband queried.

 

“No. I think he’s putting some sort of cream on her face.” I said.

 

We shamelessly stared. “There must be some rules against employees publically touching one another like that. Snap a picture with your cell phone,” I said.

 

We stood up to take a picture but as we did we immediately saw things from a different perspective. The woman sat on a wheelchair. Her arms and hands useless, curled tightly at her sides. Her fellow employee was tenderly rubbing moisturizer or makeup into her parched skin.

 

My heart sank. How quick I jumped to conclusions and judged his actions as wrong. How naturally and automatically I made up a story about what I saw when in fact, I did not see clearly at all.  

 

At first glance this man’s behavior appeared unquestionably inappropriate. It was only when I saw things from a different vantage point did I see anew that his actions were actually the opposite. They were kind, generous, and gracious.

 

In the same way, Jesus repeatedly attempted to show the religious leaders of his day that they were not seeing things correctly. Not everything could be so easily explained in terms of what they thought was lawful, or right and wrong.

 

For example, Joshua spared Rahab, the prostitute because she protected the spies from being captured by lying about which way they went even though one of the Ten Commandments forbids us to bear false witness (see Joshua 6:25). Jesus did not follow the Jewish law when the woman was caught in adultery as the crowd expected. Instead of sentencing her to death by stoning, he said “Whoever is without sin cast the first stone” (Luke 14:3-6).

 

The Pharisees condemned Jesus as a lawbreaker when he healed on the Sabbath yet he challenged their deeply held beliefs by asking them, “Which one of you wouldn’t rescue a son or an ox on the Sabbath if they had fallen into a deep well?” (Luke 14:3-6). Jesus taught that doing good, helping others, and loving well was more important to God than legalistic adherence to biblical law.

 

What does that mean to you and to me? Every day we peer into a small section of someone’s life-story like I did with the two airport employees. We make judgments and create stories (often untrue) of what we think we see. Other times people may invite us to look into their lives to give them advice or biblical wisdom about what they’re doing, thinking or feeling. We then judge it as right or wrong, biblical or sinful, godly or worldly. 

 

At times I’ve used the Bible as a rulebook to tell people what God says is permissible or unacceptable. But even Jesus had exceptions to his laws; and his laws of love, mercy, justice, and faithfulness always triumphed. Now as I listen to people’s stories I ask myself am I seeing this correctly? Is there only one right biblical answer for every situation?

 

I’ve learned to ask myself three crucial questions when facing this kind of dilemmas.  

 

1. What is the whole counsel of God on this matter? I can’t just take one or two verses to prove my point.  

 

2. What is the context? Not just the biblical context but also the person’s life story context. We can’t just take a single observation and make a judgment upon it. Just as I was very wrong in my initial assessment at the airport about what was truly happening, sometimes we can’t always discern what’s right and what’s wrong through a quick observation. Changing our vantage point might open our eyes to an entirely different perspective.

 

3. What are the biblical exceptions? For example, when the woman poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ head, the disciples judged it to be a waste of a valuable resource. Jesus thought otherwise and through this example, taught us that what seems right or even logical isn’t the only biblical way to make a good decision. Although what she did was extravagant Jesus said she’d always be remembered for her great love (Matthew 26:6-13).

 

In striving to be Christ-centered I am learning more and more that there is often more than one biblical answer. Our job isn’t to judge or decide for another person what’s biblical or not. 

 

Perhaps the best thing we can do is help someone view his or her situation from different vantage points, (e.g. temporal, eternal, short term, long term), talk about what God might be up to in her particular situation and how to listen to the Holy Spirit so that she can learn to walk by faith and not by sight.

 

How about you? Do you tend to be “the biblical answer person” instead of helping your friend learn to listen for God’s voice for herself? 

 
 
 
He Was Abused, But Now
He Abuses Me
 
 
Question: I have been married for 22 years to a man who was abused by a family friend for most of his formative years. My husband was unfaithful in our second year of marriage, and that lasted for 2 years. Our relationship never healed. We sought counseling and I was basically told to endure. There were incidents of aggressive behavior and physical aggression. He was extremely angry for many years, but has since entered counseling and is now despondent.

 

He has apologized for many things, but he blames me for the condition of our marriage, and while I admit I had difficulty standing up to him and speaking up for myself, I am taking steps to change that.

 

He has become suicidal at times, and I am not sure what to do. We have 5 children and 2 of them have disabilities. I have not worked in about 18 years. I do not know how to feel.

 

I understand that he is in pain from his past and not having dealt with any of it (though he told me he had), but I am angry that I am being blamed for things I have never done.

 

Am I doing the right thing by staying? He continues to ask me whether I love him, will I stay, how do I feel about him. I feel trapped and have difficulty being honest in my answers.

 

Answer: Dear one, you are in quite a dilemma. Your husband is leaning hard on you for his sense of well-being and security. He wants to know that you are there for him regardless of how he behaves, what he does, or what he’s been through. You have been there – at least physically for 22 years but I hear you when you say you are hurting and are tired. It is not always all about him and his needs and feelings. You also are a human in pain and in need of care.

 

Although he is going for help now, sometimes the help phase feels very painful for a season and right now he’s stuck in his own pain and doesn’t have much to give you. As long as he threatens suicide or is suicidal, it’s very tough for you to be honest with him about how you feel.

 

You said you don’t know how to feel. Instead of thinking about what you should or should not feel, why don’t you get curious about how you do feel? Are you tired? Resentful? Afraid? Insecure? Angry? Defensive? Ashamed?

 

 
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IN THIS ISSUE
 
ARTICLE

Are You The Person Who Is

Always Right?

 

COACHING 
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WHAT'S NEW? 
Take a look at the upcoming events to watch for from Leslie
 
GIVEAWAY
Deeper 
 
LESLIE ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS
He Was Abused, But Now He Is Abusing Me
 
 
COACHING INFORMATION
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Coaching Programs

 
 
GIVEAWAY
Deeper
by

Debbie Alsdorf

 

It's time to get honest with God and live like his love for you is real--because it is! Deeper shows you how to live four core truths from Psalm 139: God knows me, he protects me, he made me, and he values me. Though you may "know" these truths in your head, this book guides you to make them a reality in your heart. If you're ready to stop striving for perfection and start living for real, it's time to go Deeper.

 

"Deeper helps women understand God's love and involvement in every detail of life. Debbie beautifully teaches truth that changes a woman forever." --Jennifer Rothschild, 

 

If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide your name and email address

.

Winners of Is That You God by Virelle Kidder are Judith C. and Cindy K.

 
 
 
UPCOMING EVENTS
 

April 8th, 2016

Faith Church, Trexlertown.

Foundations Family Conference - Conference Open to the public. CLICK HERE to register

 

April 28th - 29th, 2016

Faith United Methodist Church

CLICK HERE to register

 

 
 
HERE'S WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT LESLIE'S COACHING 
 

 

"I always knew my marriage was difficult, but since my husband was a public figure I trusted no one. I could not find a way to go to counseling without being “found out”. 

 

But then through a series of e-books I read, I finally stumbled upon Leslie Vernick’s book – the Emotionally Destructive Marriage. It read like an autobiography. I knew I could not continue thinking I could pray my way to a better relationship with my husband.

 

When I saw she offered coaching over the phone, I realized this was an opportunity I could not pass up.

 

She helped me to see what are things I can change (me) and the things I cannot change. Leslie always listens well and asked questions to help me see where I am off track.

 

- Wife in Texas

 
 
LESLIE WELCOMES YOUR QUESTIONS
 

Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Please submit your questions by clicking here.


Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.


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Leslie Vernick PO Box 5312 Sun City West, Arizona 85376 United States