- Happy new year: I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. I am praying that 2022 will be a year of healing and growth for all of us. We have some exciting things coming and I can’t wait to share them with you.
- Podcast Interview: I was honored to be part of the Faithful & True Podcast. I spoke about Healing from Emotionally Destructive Relationships. You can see the interview here.
I’m Changing My Ways
Imagine an overweight person declaring in the New Year he is going to change his ways and lose the extra weight. Now he’s going to get healthy. He’s tired of feeling lethargic, tired of struggling to climb the stairs up to his bedroom, tired of too tight clothes.
Now let’s say the very next day, he tells you “I did it! I’m skinny!” Yet, the “evidence” of change isn’t there. No weight has been lost yet. He still struggles getting to the top of a flight of stairs and his clothes are still too tight.
If someone makes a commitment to lose weight and be healthy, over time we ought to see some “evidence” of that change. New eating patterns established, baggy jeans, going to the gym or taking walks. We know that, if a person wants to get healthy and lose weight, it’s going to take time and a commitment to establish new habit patterns.
It’s crazy to think a person could reach a weight goal in a day, a week, or even a month after setting it. So why do women believe their husbands have changed their destructive ways after a simple announcement of “I’m changed now.” Maybe he gives you a sweet card, a bouquet of flowers and - see, that’s proof. He’s a different person. Friend, believing that is as unrealistic as becoming skinny overnight.
Just like losing weight, there are very practical things that must happen for you to know a change is truly taking place.
A Change of Heart
It’s pretty common for someone to “see the light” after experiencing a firm boundary. Your husband has to move out because of abusive behavior and suddenly he’s acknowledging his sin ... and asking to move back in.
Understand this: admission of guilt often has nothing to do with feeling the pain he caused you. It has everything to do with wanting to stop his own pain...the pain caused by your boundary and consequences.
1. Truly accepting responsibility for the pain he has caused you is the first step in a true change of heart. Does your husband see what he’s done and take full responsibility for it? Or does he minimize his sin, blame you, the kids, stress at work, etc?
2. Making amends is the next step in showing a change of heart. The word “sorry” is pretty useless if there isn’t real action to go with it. (Read the story of Zaccheus in Luke 19:1-10 for an example of this.) Or does your spouse expect forgiveness means total amnesty after an apology? Are you not allowed to feel afraid when he’s angry because “that’s in the past?” Or instead, does he now understand that his sin created that fear in you and he needs to be gentle and patient until he builds a new history of safety and trust?
3. Finally, you need to see over time his willingness to do whatever it takes to change. Does your husband believe he can do this alone or does he acknowledge the need for accountability? Does he have the humility to hear feedback and learn new ways of handling life?
A Change of Habit
For anyone, changing longstanding habits doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lifetime. (That’s why a real change of heart needs to happen first.) Here are some very practical things your husband (and you, for that matter) can do to begin a new way of life.
1. Keep a journal
This is important to grow in self awareness. You can’t change what you can’t see. Every day, ask and answer these questions:
a. How did my body feel today? Was I tense, hungry, anxious? Did I have a headache, was I clenching my fists? These are important physical clues to what’s happening internally.
b. How did I treat people today? Was I respectful? Detached? Engaged? Deceitful? Rude? Sarcastic? Loving?
c. Were my actions today in line with the person I want to be?
d. In what nonsexual ways did I show my spouse she (or he) is important to me?
2. Receive feedback
Are you allowed to give your husband feedback on his progress or is that a taboo subject? If he’s truly committed to changing habits he’ll need to be open to hearing how his behaviors are impacting you.
3. Invite accountability
Alcoholics Anonymous, Weight Watchers, and similar programs are successful because they invite accountability. Joining a small group or asking a group of carefully selected people to regularly (weekly is good) provide accountability is crucial to the habit-changing process.
4. Recognize that growth is a life-long journey.
There is no “I’ve arrived” for anyone when it comes to spiritual or emotional maturity. Understanding this and being committed to always moving forward is crucial in order to keep old habits from coming back.
If your husband admits he needs to change you can invite him to watch this video I made just for him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwQLHcX_olw&feature=youtu.be
But, remember. You cannot do his work. Only he can do his work. But don’t forget, these steps can also help you do your work of getting stronger.
How To Live Right When Your Life Goes Wrong
by Leslie Vernick
Despite the abundant availability of both self-help books and Bible study materials, many of us find it difficult to apply what we learn, to make that long head-to-heart journey of change. When we are faced with life’s daily trials, our responses often lack the Christian maturity we desire—showing us clearly just how far we have to go. Is it possible to achieve a deeper, more permanent change of heart? Author and counselor Leslie Vernick says yes. Now, through one practical, simple-to-understand and easy-to-remember model, you can:
- Gain a new perspective on the troubles God allows in your life.
- Come to better understand your response to those trials.
- Discover the underlying idols that hamper your efforts to change.
- Learn how to discern the truth of God’s Word.
- Develop the heart response that will draw you closer to God.
Two winners will be selected in our next newsletter! (Giveaway only available to U.S. residents)
If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide name and email address.
The winners of "How To Live Right When Your Life Goes Wrong" by Leslie Vernick are Beverly Y. and Garie C.
Want to have Leslie speak at your event? Click here to find out more information.
Center for Christian Counseling
What Do I Do When Someone Keeps Bringing Up My Sins?
By Leslie Vernick
Question: What if the person you sinned against continues to bring up your sins against you even though you’ve apologized, tried to make amends, and done all you know to do?
Answer: Thank you for this question because sometimes we’re taught that repentance and making amends fixes every broken relationship. But your experience shows otherwise. You say you’ve done that, and yet, the other person won’t let it go. He or she continues to bring your sins up to you.
Without knowing any more details, my first thought is that what you think you’ve done to demonstrate repentance and make amends isn’t helping the other person get past the hurt and broken trust over what you’ve done.
May I ask you a few questions?
What People Are Saying About Leslie’s Walking In CORE Strength Group
"I am so very thankful that I took Walking in CORE Strength. I have learned how to take things my head has known and apply them to me in a very real and personable way. My head knows I am loved by God, my heart even knew that as it comforted me through many a hard time but now I am able to carry that through to its intended end...that I roll my shoulders back, hold my head up and stand before others as someone who knows how deeply loved she is. Being loved means that I can love and being loved means I can love for the good of the other not for keeping myself safe and protected.
I have learned to stop pretending. I still do at times but that is growing less and less as I grow stronger and stronger. I don't pretend I can do everything and I ask for help. I don't pretend to have feelings I do not have. I don't pretend I want what my husband wants. I am learning to stop lying to myself and I can do that because in these groups I have found a safe emotional place where I can be genuine without fear of being shamed. Thank you so much!"
~ Roby T.
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.
Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.