When Mama died in September 2015, my relationship with the Lord changed. I'd been a Christian since I was a kid but it wasn't until I was in a pit of depression and longing for my mother did I really come to realize why He died on the cross for me- for my sin, absolutely yes, but also for my pain. My hurt. My sorrow.
God reached right down from Heaven and lifted me up. He got me out of the bed on the days it seemed impossible. He gave me joy in mourning. Comfort in sadness. Purpose in pain. His Word and His promises spoke right to my heart. He gave me a peace that passeth all understanding.
What was I going to do with this joy? With this testimony of hope and restoration that can only be found through Him?
Well, I was going to tell others all about it. Podcasts. Blog posts. IG photos of sunsets inscribed with scriptures.
People are hurting. Lonely. Living in hell- going to hell. Bondage. Addiction. Affliction. Depression. They need to know the Way, the Truth, the Life. I was put here to tell them. I mourned a mama, a daddy, a step-daddy. I watched a positive pregnancy test turn negative. I knew heartache. Dysfunction. And it was all part of a greater plan- a testimony.
Because God was there every step of the way. Lifting. Sharpening. Comforting. Restoring. And people needed to know. They needed to know if I could get through it, they could get through it.
But one day I woke up, after being so on fire for the Lord and what He had done in my life- and nothing.
I skipped that morning in the prayer closet. I just wasn't in the mood to study that day. I skipped the next morning, too. And the next. I went for a walk down the country road with my Spaniel. I didn't talk aloud to God as I usually did. Instead, I just talked to the dog about every rock and weed he sniffed.
I went to church. I didn't take notes.
I fell asleep without praying.
The Bible stayed shut. The notepad empty from weeks before.
Oh, but great things still happened. Answered prayers. God-ordained opportunities. And I mumbled a, "Thank you, Lord." instead of lifting my hands and truly praising His name. I just didn't feel it anymore. God was still good, I knew it, but the honeymoon seemed to be over. The butterflies had flown.
Fizzle. It had all fizzled.
Why do we do this, sisters? How can we be so on fire for our God one minute and bored with it all the next? As if our spirituality is related to our feelings? Aren't we to love and praise and obey even when we don't feel like it? Action is what matters. Not feelings or emotions. Feelings and emotions are fickle.
We can't give Satan credit for everything. Lord knows I don't want to be one of those Christians casting the devil out of every doorknob- but are we too stupid to see this is what pleases him?
The fizzle tickles Satan. The fizzle and the smolder. And eventually- weak rings of smoke are all that is left of what once was a raging fire. And he loves it. He revels in it. He likes when we are indifferent. Apathetic. Stagnant. Lukewarm. Bored with the story of the greatest sacrifice of all time- the sacrifice that sets captives free.
He likes when we aren't in the mood to pull out the NIV. Or talk to our Maker. Or when we fall asleep or eat the food without praying. When we can't find the time to study, but we find the time for a Golden Girls marathon.
I don't know about you, but God has been too good to me. He deserves more than being kept in a Sunday morning box. He deserves the blog posts and the IG pictures of stars and Psalms and hands raised to Heaven and shouting His goodness from every keyboard and every stage. He deserves that and so much more.
I refuse the fizzle and the smolder and to become nothing but a pile of ashes.
Refuse it with me. Rebuke it.
Fan the flame again.
Susannah B. Lewis, follow her on Facebook here
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I heard my (quiet) man hollering for me from the other side of our property. My heart dropped as I picked up the pace to find him. When I rounded the corner, I was shocked to discover that our twigs and leaves fire from spring clean up had jumped its boundary and was rapidly burning a widening path toward our neighbor's house.
"Grab our hose! I'll get their's," he yelled as he ran to the neighbor's house. From opposite yards, we frantically hosed down the runaway flames until all that was left was the "Sssttt" of the last bit of fire dying under the onslaught of water.
Relief flooded our hearts as we looked at the scorched earth in one neighbor's yard, cognizant of how close the fire had tiptoed to another neighbor's fence. Together, we thwarted what could have been a significant disaster.
Fast forward to a few days ago when another fire threatened to wreak havoc, only this time instead of an errant spark from a literal fire, it was my tongue.
You see, someone in my life had handled a situation in a way I deemed wrong. For some reason, the wrongness of it all flew all over me. As I replayed the event over and over again in my head, the fire of my anger increased. I orchestrated a whole litany of words I was going to unleash on them to shame them to right the wrong.
As soon as my man entered the room, I verbally pounced on him reciting what had happened and all the reasons why it was wrong. When I finished, I waited expectantly for his agreement of their wrong. He concurred they had mishandled it and declared he too was disappointed.
However, he then kindly quoted, “forgive other people when they sin against you." (Matthew 6:14.)
Like the water hose on our runaway spring fire, that verse snuffed out my internal fire. Chaos and angst fled in the presence of Scripture. Calm and love filled the holes they left. As I sat there quietly reflecting on what had just transpired, I was amazed.
The fire of anger I stoked against the transgressors was instantly snuffed out when I chose to do as Scripture commands: forgive them.
Before I proceed, I must confess that a little over a decade ago, I would have careened down a destructively different path. Back then, I would have clung to resentment. Resentment would have caused me to lash out and/or sever the relationship. The severed relationship would have ushered in depression. Depression would have rendered me useless for weeks on end.
The dazzling difference between the old me and the new me reminds me of this gem found in Romans 8:6:
So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.
But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
Choosing to allow the Spirit to direct my thoughts has placed me on the path of life and peace. You may ask how I got to where I am today. I think James 1:19-25 best sums up my journey from being controlled by my sinful nature to being Spirit-controlled in my actions.
1. Slow to get angry.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters:
You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
I knew this verse but lived opposite of what it said. The new me chose to discipline my mind and heart to reject my sinful tendencies and submit to godly wisdom and instruction.
1. Be quick to listen.
2. Be slow to speak.
3. Be slow to get angry.
2. Seek God’s Righteousness (right way of living.)
Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
Unfortunately, my anger was rarely over anything holy. Therefore, the new me chose to train myself to stop taking offense at any wrongdoing, and turn the situation over to the Lord. My flesh kicked and rebelled, but I held fast and pushed thru the hard.
1. I scoured Scripture in search of verses on controlling one's anger.
2. I wrote these verses on 3x5 cards, sticky notes, and scrap pieces of paper, and put them everywhere.
3. I recited these verses repeatedly to knit them into the fiber of my being.
3. Subscribe God’s Label to My Anger.
So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives,
and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts,
for it has the power to save your souls.
My unrighteous anger was a sin, filthy and evil wreaking havoc everywhere. The new me started to confess the sin of my anger, asking for forgiveness from God as well as those affected.
4. Stay in control.
But don’t just listen to God’s word.
You must do what it says.
Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
When I could feel my anger rising, the new me would bite my tongue and pray. I willed myself to want to be found wise in God's eyes; so instead of spouting off folly, I mentally quoted Scripture allowing His Word to lead me rather than my flesh.
5. Set free!
But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free,
and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard,
then God will bless you for doing it.
Disciplining myself thru the Holy Spirit with God's Word has brought about true transformation! Anger rarely has a stronghold on me anymore. Well, except for times like the other night. One word said in unrighteous anger could have started a fire that would have marred a few key relationships.
Instead, just ONE verse from God’s living Word doused the fire inside of me!
Praise the Lord!
I share this "Achilles Heel" of mine to direct the spotlight onto the power of God’s living Word. It IS alive and powerful.
Powerful enough to change a hothead like me long-term.
Powerful enough to snuff out the fire of anger in me.
Powerful enough to bring about the righteousness of God in me.
To God alone be all praise!
How about you, my friend? Do you struggle with the noose of anger? Does it threaten to start a fire at the least bit of prodding? Gathering a group of verses on anger management and applying them is life-giving. God's Word does set you free if you do what it says. That is when God blesses us and gives us joy and peace. That, my friend, is not only fire insurance, but it is also priceless!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
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Untruths Which Can Unhinge Your Faith Series - Part 1
The conversation began hesitantly as one of the women asked, “How do you minister to a mom whose child has chosen to take his/her own life.” A collective moan arose from the circle of women as each of us wrestled with the weightiness of this topic.
The tragic death of a child is one thing, but when one’s child chooses to take his/her own life and commit suicide? Unfathomable. We quietly leaned in as she shared the mom’s sorrow. The “What ifs?” The “Whys?” We all grappled with what we’d say if we were in the same situation ministering to a mom with a shattered heart. Providentially, two untruths (lies) sifted to the surface and became the focal points of our discussion.
Lie #1 - Suicide is an unpardonable (unforgivable) sin.
This lie about "those who commit suicide are damned to hell forever" has pretty much planted itself as truth in the mind of many Bible believers. The evil one does not want us to know the truth, especially when grappling with life’s tough questions. How slimy of him to plant the lie that suicide is unforgivable.
- It empties the grieving of any hope of a glorious resurrection of the lost loved one.
- It causes us to question God and His goodness if there is no hope of seeing a loved one again because they chose to commit suicide.
- It creates a chasm between God and us in our thoughts and beliefs when we need to be leaning into Him most.
1. Truth exposes the lie.
Scripture states in Matthew 12:3, "Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven."
To the point, the only sin committed by humanity which will not be forgiven is to reject Christ as Lord and Savior. Henry Morris states, “The unforgivable sin of speaking against the Holy Spirit has been interpreted in various ways, but the true meaning cannot contradict other Scripture. It is unequivocally clear that the one unforgivable sin is permanently rejecting Christ.”
Yes, I believe suicide breaks the heart of God just like lust and envy and pride and gluttony does. But the act of taking one’s life does not permanently separate us from Him, only rejecting Christ as Lord does.
When Jesus was dying on the cross, He stated one of my favorite, full of hope sayings, “It is finished!” John 19:30 Because of that statement, God forgives my sins and your sins if we call Him Lord even if we choose to commit suicide.
By faith, I believe Christ’s death on the cross paid for all our sins including suicide.
2. Hope replaces the lie.
Renowned pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay lost their son, Matthew, to suicide in 2013. Kay said, “Matthew’s body was buried in brokenness, but will be raised in strength.” That’s hope, my friend. That’s truth found in 1 Corinthians 15:43:
Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength.
By faith, I believe Christ rising from the dead on the third day promises a glorious resurrection for those of us who call Christ Lord, despite our sin, because of the cross.
3. Jesus defeated the lie!
I want to show you a nugget from my morning reading of Christ's death in Matthew 27:52. After Christ gave up His spirit in verse 50, look at the cool events God orchestrated to show He kicked death in the teeth:
- The veil in the temple separating man from God was torn from top to bottom.
- The earth shook and the rocks split.
- The tombs were opened.
Yes, you read that correctly! The graves were opened. You know which ones: The ones of the saints, those who believed but died. Not all of them, but just enough to show God’s power over death!
I bet those raised again were sinners just like you and me with a myriad of physical and emotional issues. I don’t know nor do I claim that one might have committed suicide. All I’m pointing out here is God’s love for all of mankind and His power over death. The day Jesus died, God raised a group of believers to live again, just like Lazarus.
Remember my post about the demon-possessed man? Jesus crossed a sea to rescue one deranged, out of his mind, senseless man. That shows the heart of our Savior. Even those whose minds are sick are precious in His sight, including those who choose to end their life with suicide.
He is the God of hope who does not change nor does He lie Hebrews 6:17-19.
The only unforgivable sin is denying Jesus as Lord. The tragic choice of suicide has not nor will it ever separate us from the love of God. Remember 1 Corinthians 15:43. That is hope you can bank on, my friend. How kind He truly is.
Next week, I’ll uncover the other lie we discussed that day, Lie #2 - God never gives you more than you can handle.
How about you? What has been your thinking on suicide and eternal life? Do you know the only one who can give your life meaning and hope? Oh, friend, Jesus loves you and longs to have a relationship with you. If you don’t know Him personally or if you have questions, we would love to talk with you. Please send us a private Facebook message or feel free to comment here.
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, deep talks, lively laughter, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
I sat in the waiting room, at moments shaking, at other moments thinking I was going to be sick at my stomach...waiting. I had to wait over an hour. I was in a room full of women, all of us waiting for the results. Silence. I read Psalm 121 over and over and over until I thought, “Ok, just memorize it.” So I began to just memorize it.
Fear. Worry. Gripped by its icy, bony fingers.
What is your deepest fear?
“Fear, you say? Christians aren’t gripped by worry or fear.” We read verses such as Isaiah 41:10 “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness,” and we march boldly into tomorrow with no worries.
Or we could be honest.
We worry about money, death, our children, fear something happening to our children, our marriage, our job security, our aging parents...or health issues as we sit in a waiting room, gripped by fear, powerless to do anything about the impending outcome.
When the inevitable worries and fears come, and our world is shaken to the core, what do we do?
Jesus calls us to an unbelievable faith. If we are a Christ follower, then we must follow the ways of Christ. I know this sounds like a statement that would get a “Well, duh!” reaction from my middle school students, but think about it. Christ calls us to a simple life: we want to complicate it.
So here goes:
● First, I must be ok with the unknown.
As a Christ follower, I must admit and live by faith in Christ. This means that some days, most days, every day, I have no idea what will happen next. I must be ok with that.
This requires lots of prayer. “Lord, I cannot do this. Help me with my unbelief (Mark 9:24). You are a Sovereign God, and your ways are not my ways. Teach me to have faith that starts childlike but will grow as you lead me and I continue to trust in you and you alone. God, when I start to lean towards my understanding of things and trust in myself and my own power, please jerk me back to you. That jerking may hurt, but help me, God. I am desperate.”
● Second, I must accept that I am part of a large master plan.
“Father, I am a glorious piece of a larger plan that is beautiful. Help my issue with pride, that makes everything about me. Nothing is about me. It’s all about you. Help me to be find contentment in that.”
● Third, I must be grateful.
That’s where my waiting room story picks back up.
Ladies came and went from the waiting room, all of us waiting for our name to be called, like some ominous lottery. And then someone spoke.
Light, casual conversation began. “I am so nervous that I can’t even speak,” I thought.
But as I was reading Psalm 121 over and over, the obvious began to kick in. “Why do I even continue to read this yet not trust in it as truth? God, help me. Free me, Lord for I am in bondage.”
“It’s not about you. Speak. Open your mouth. Are these ladies believers? Do they know the hope in Christ?”
So I began to speak. Weather, flu, schools, “I am a teacher”, and then God “lobbed me a softball”, an accurate reference to this moment as stated by my pastor Rodney Alexander.
The conversation turned to deeper matters. God allowed me opportunities to speak of His goodness, that attitude of gratitude that I am compelled to have, God’s ability to heal physically at any moment, all sorts of small tidbits of peace. I always walk away from these moments feeling that I never said enough, but remember, piece of a beautiful puzzle.
Something wonderful happened in that moment, besides the obvious golden opportunity to speak life and peace: I was no longer nervous. I realized that there was no way I could control the results that were coming any minute, but I could control what I did right now.
God is calling us to follow Him in every moment, every second. Those moments add up to a lifetime of following, blindly, obediently, trusting in a Sovereign, good God. The focus is off of me and on my King. Therein is peace.
The rest of the story: I was clear. The patient right before me was not.
I am grateful, trusting in the good and the bad to an Omnipotent God Who loves me.
“What time I am afraid, I will (by His will over mine, moment by moment, second by second) trust in thee.” Psalm 56:3
Kathy McBroom is a middle school English teacher who resides in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, ten minutes south of Louisville. Her husband Robert is the Missions’ and Assimilation Pastor at Little Flock Baptist Church. She is an author, blogger, bible teacher and has recently begun “Manic Monday” a group which can be found on Facebook. She and Robert have two daughters, Rachel and Hannah, who are also teachers. You can check out more of Kathy's great writing on her blog.
Six Ways to Diffuse Depression
The Glad Game. Have you ever heard of it? It took place in a cranky aunt's home located in a town of hard-hearted people. Seems almost impossible, doesn't it? But a very determined little orphan girl wasn't deterred. She introduced the game to any who would listen by saying, "No matter how bleak the situation, you can always find something to be glad about."
Everyone, from the town recluse to the orphan's aunt, was eventually affected by "The Glad Game." All because of one little orphan named Pollyanna. "The Glad Game" changed the fictitious town, yet more importantly, it changed the author, Eleanor H. Porter, who penned the story. She was quoted, “Oh yes, my relationship with Pollyanna is personal. She got me thru my childhood.”
When the dark blanket of depression descends, a Pollyanna approach to life is the farthest thing from our mind. But should it be? Should we find something positive even in the bleakest of circumstances?
Like we discussed in part 1, bouts of depression can swoop down upon us unaware! But we who suffer from depression are not without hope! We don’t always have to resort to the pill bottle or the counselor’s couch to see the light of day. While there are benefits to those, we can choose to play Pollyanna’s “The Glad Game” but rename it as “The Thankfulness Game.”
My friend, it is healthy and good to be actively engaged In overcoming depression.
Thankfulness. What's so powerful about being thankful? Dr. Daniel Amen, a clinical psychiatrist, scanned a woman’s brain two times, first when she was thankful, then when she was fearful. For the first scan, she dwelt on everything for which she was thankful. For the second scan, she meditated on all her fears of things which could go wrong.
The difference between the thankful brain and the non-thankful brain scans was stunning.
Her thankful brain lit up the areas of motor skill and thought coordination. This result makes sense. When we’re thankful, it adds a spring to our step and infuses hope into any situation and gives us the drive to push thru the hard things in life.
Proverbs 17:22 declares: "A joyful heart is good medicine!"
Her non-thankful brain showed a decrease in the areas of motor skill and thought coordination. Think about it, when we are fearful or down, our thoughts and actions become jumbled as if we’re walking through sludge. We're stunted from thriving.
Like Proverbs 17:22 warns: "A broken spirit dries up the bones."
Science proves the Bible!
Dr. Amen's brain scans prove Proverbs 17:22! Positive thoughts/thankful thoughts release endorphins - happy chemicals - which are stronger than morphine! "Being grateful for the wonderful things in your life literally helps you. . . “ (Dr. Daniel G. Amen, Making a Good Brain Great, p. 151) Read more about this in part one.
My friend, this is good news! Thankfulness can help heal a bout of depression!
Here are 6 ways we can play “The Thankfulness Game”?
1. Three things
When I'm in "the pit of despair," I make myself think of three things I'm thankful for. Why? Thankfulness is good medicine. I might be in my car or in my bed with the covers pulled over my head. No matter where I am, I can always mentally choose thankful thoughts of glee to sweep away the dark thoughts of "woe is me."
2. Thankfulness Journal
I have notebooks here, there, and everywhere to remind me to write thankful thoughts. It's not only fun, it’s life-giving to look back over the lists and see the faithful hand of God. Research shows the benefit of keeping a running list of thankful things:
“10 weeks later…participants in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole and were a full 25 percent happier than the hassled group.” (Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. Huffington Post)
3. Thankfulness Pinterest Board
Growing up, the sweet lady across the street kept a scrapbook full of her favorite pictures and quotes. I used to spend hours during the dark days of winter looking thru them next to a crackling fire with a warm mug of cocoa at my side.
Pinterest is a modern day version of her scrapbook. Start a thankfulness board on Pinterest and pin thankfulness thoughts and verses which inspire you. Simply type in "thankfulness quotes" or "Thankful verses" in your search engine search bar and then click images. Pin one or two a day. Check it regularly.
4. Thankfulness Screensavers
Speaking of thankfulness quotes or verses images, save a pretty one as your screensaver. Each time you pick up your phone or power on your computer, it will remind you to be thankful.
5. Thankfulness Sharing
Social media has enough negativity. There are others out there who need the thankfulness treasures you are unearthing. Like a flower girl casting pedals, share a thankfulness quote or verse on your social media page regularly.
6. Thankfulness Accountability Partner
I have a couple of precious friends I make (yes, I have learned I need to bully my flesh.) myself tell when I'm under a cloud of depression. They know when I tell them I am down-hearted, they are to point me to what is true and good and beautiful. They even sometimes make me tell them three things I'm thankful for and check in during the day to be sure I'm not wallowing in my pit of despair.
Life is hard. Dark days descend without notice. But God is good. He's given us a remedy for depression: a thankful heart. A cheerful heart. A glad heart. Pollyanna was right, “there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.”
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
How about you, my friend? What are some tricks of the trade you use to help fight the dark thoughts? Perhaps you're in the throes of a dark period. I'm sorry. That's hard. Let me know as I'd love to pray with you. But also, I challenge you to pick one of the 6 remedies listed above and faithfully implement them into your day. You can do this! I'm cheering you on!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
“I am done babying him,” she exclaimed! "Whoa! What?" was my shocked response. You see, my friend had just been sharing about a time sensitive matter pressing on her and her mate. As the deadline approached, her man had called and texted throughout the day asking her different questions regarding the location of places and materials. She could feel her resentment growing with each of his requests for help. She concluded her narrative by stating that she was done babying him…he was a grown man…he had a smartphone and could find this information himself. Hmmph!
As she was fuming, I started thinking: How does a bride go from wanting to do everything for her groom to:
- despising his asking for help?
- considering his requests a burden?
- reducing him to a little boy in her mind?
My answer: It’s the slow fade, my friend, the mundane of everyday life dulling the glow of “happily ever after.”
In the thick of the day in and day out of everyday married life, "for better or for worse" fades into the background as annoyance, impatience, and complacency push to the forefront. Yet, our husband asking us for help is exactly the role we signed up for when we said, "I do." Look at Genesis 2:18,
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”
The word helper means "to aid or help or succor." Wait. What? Succor? What in the world does succor mean? It means: “assistance and support in times of hardship and distress.”
To be our man’s succor during hardship and distress is much like a three-legged race. Depending on how athletic you are, walking together successfully is quite the challenge. There can be much stumble tripping, perhaps falling in a heap of laughter with the finish line oh so far away. But choosing to throw our arm around the other person’s shoulder and finding a walking rhythm to move forward productively is a step in the right direction to winning. A team effort!
And I think this is the key: to be our man’s succor victoriously, we need to adopt the mindset that we’re on the same team! Just like I’d help my 3-legged race partner up if they’d fallen or throw my arm around them so we could walk in sync, it’s the same for marriage. If my man is in need of my help, as his helpmate or succor, it benefits me and us if I joyfully give him the aid he needs to thrive!
To thrive at being our man's succor is choosing to live out the beauty of Proverbs 31:10-12:
"Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."
When I'm my man's succor, he can trust me... I greatly enrich his life... I bring him good, not harm... ALL the days of my life. That, my friend, is winning! Replacing the "me" attitude with a "we" attitude is the best way to win at marriage.
This post has caused me to take a hard look at myself. How often do I default to a "me" attitude instead of choosing a "we" attitude in my own marriage? Does my man trust me? Do I greatly enrich his life? Do I bring him good and not harm? These are good questions to check the barometer of my heart toward my man and adjust as needed.
We humans are drawn to the strong and despise the weak. But our husbands are just like us, fallen creatures in need of a Savior, in need of mercy, in need of a succor. By faith, I will choose to throw my arm around my handsome 3-legged partner and be his succor for the glory of God and for the win at this thing called marriage.
"Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you MUST clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." Colossians 3:12
I'd love to hear from you! What do you think of this idea of being your man's succor? How do you push thru wanting to give up and press in for the win? Maybe you feel done. I'm sorry. That's a hard place. We can't change our spouses, only ourselves. Therefore, ask the Lord to show you what areas of Genesis 2:18 and Proverbs 31:10-12 He would like you to work on. Then do it for His glory and blessing. My friend, He blesses our obedience even in our hard places. I'm cheering you on!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, deep talks, lively laughter, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
I don’t know about you, but I often find my mind wandering into enemy territory. Just to list a few examples:
I’m sure you have your own list of nasty places you can “lose your mind” to if you aren’t careful. Maybe you struggle with sexually sinful thoughts. Or maybe thoughts of bitterness or unforgiveness plague you. It could be things so bad that you would never tell another person, or seemingly innocent day dreams that really don’t seem to matter.
2 Corinthians 10:5b tells us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Since I am a practical kind of girl, I need examples. I need steps to take. So, in case you are like me, below are a few tips for taking your thoughts captive.
1. Start by identifying the culprit who lured your mind to that nasty place in the beginning. Satan does not have control of your mind, but he can whisper lies and suggest thought paths that will lead you to destruction. He is our enemy!
John 8:44 Jesus is speaking about Satan “for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
John 10:10: The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.
Matthew 4:1-11: Satan even tempted Jesus.
Ephesians 6:12: We are at battle!
2. Call Satan out in Jesus name. It has power! Throughout the New Testament, we see demons being cast out in the name of Jesus. Sick people being healed in the name of Jesus! The dead being raised to life, in the name of Jesus! But, unlike God, Satan is not “All Knowing”. Satan cannot hear your thoughts. So you'll need to tell him out loud, that you are a Child of God, saved in Jesus' name, covered in Jesus' blood, and that he has no control over you or your mind! Quote scripture at him and tell him to flee!
Mark 5:2-13: Check out how demons respond when they see Jesus.
Luke 10:17-20: Read about the power in Jesus name.
3. Immediately, in that moment, pray! Ask God to help you focus your thoughts on things that are pleasing to Him. Pray scripture over your mind.
Matthew 6:13: The Lord’s Prayer
2 Thessalonians 3:3: Protection from the evil one.
1 Corinthians 10:13: The Lord will always give you a way out.
Philippians 4:7: Peace for your mind.
4. Decide what you’re going to turn your thoughts to. Don’t just leave it up to whatever the next thing is that comes to your mind because we all know where that will lead. Tell yourself, “I am going to think about_________.” The Bible gives us a very clear list of what kinds of things we are supposed to be thinking about. Philippians 4:8 says:
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things!”
I could be thinking about how upset I am with my husband because he came home late from work, and now dinner is cold, and he hasn’t even taken out the trash today, (which everyone knows is his job). He didn’t ask me about my day when he came in, and on and on, and further and further I get into giving my mind over to sinfully bashing my husband.
Or, instead, when I sense that resentment or bitterness rising, I could choose to focus my mind on why I am thankful for him. I can list some of his good qualities and traits in my mind that will help redirect my thoughts to pure and lovely things about him, which are both in the list that the Lord provides us.
Here are some ideas to help you prepare BEFORE you lose your mind again. Because let’s all be real...its going to happen. Satan will be back and we must be ready for battle!
Don’t allow your mind to be lost to the enemy anymore! Make an action plan and fight back!
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.
My heart skipped a beat as he walked into the room. As usual, he engaged me in conversation by asking about my day and sharing about his. We could talk about anything, from light topics to in-depth questions. I enjoyed our conversations and realized I looked forward to them more than I should. Why? Because I was a married woman and this man was not my husband.
Emotional affair. I would never have guessed myself susceptible to fall into one. After all, I’m a believer married to a believer.
- That should be a recipe for success, right? Wrong.
- A safeguard against an affair, right? Wrong.
You see, even though I’m a Jesus girl through and through, my heart is still desperately wicked and prone to wander if I don’t keep a tight rein on it. Let’s put the spotlight on this sneaky enemy lurking in the shadows of one too many hearts.
The Making of an Emotional Affair
1. Emotional energy - Let’s start with a working definition:
“An emotional affair is when a person not only invests more of their emotional energy outside their marriage but also receives emotional support and companionship from the new relationship.”1
Blah. It hurts to read the above description and brings me to tears, but it was my reality. I was emotionally pouring more energy into & choosing to receive emotional support and companionship from this other man who was not my husband, whom I had promised to be faithful to mind, heart, and body as long as we both shall live. My emotions had strayed into forbidden territory. God, forgive me.
2. Subtle beginning. My emotional affair started so innocently. He’d sit down and look at me and engage me in conversation. He took an interest in me, and I allowed that interest to begin to woo my heart. My emotional tank began to be filled with this other man’s time, his attention, and his words rather than my husband’s. My heart was on a slippery slope sliding toward him rather than my man. Ugh! God, forgive me.
You see, this subtle beginning takes our feet from the stable path onto the slippery slope of being convinced:
- This other man understands me better than my spouse.
- This other man loves me more than my spouse does.
- This other man is my true soul mate, unlike my spouse.
These thoughts lead us into the danger zone because they are all lies from the father of lies, Satan, whose sole goal is to steal, kill, and destroy our marriages. Just like he whispered to Eve in the garden, he slithers discontentment into our hearts making us think the grass is greener on the other side. My sister, it isn’t. The “green grass on the other side” is filled with weeds, and moles, and bare spots just like your current relationship.
3. Danger Zone: By the grace of God, I heeded the waving red flag early on when God brought the issue to my mind, but that isn't always the case. We can become so connected with this other person emotionally that before we know it, we’ve entered the danger zone! We think about what it would be like to be in his embrace, to be kissed by him, and for scenes to unfold in our minds which should be reserved for our husbands. Too soon these thoughts lead to actions, and we are having sex with someone other than our spouse. God, forgive us! My friend, an emotional affair can be a gateway to a sexual affair. James 1:14-16 says it best:
14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.
15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.
So, how do we slam shut the gate before we slide down the slippery slope?
The Unraveling of an Emotional Affair
1. Name it - When I realized what was happening, it caught my breath. I wrestled with the thought and denied it. After all, I wasn’t physically attracted to this other man…yet. But, the Spirit was gentle and kept bringing it to my mind. My heartstrings were starting to connect with this other man. I was in the beginning stages of an emotional affair. Psalm 51:6. Blah.
2. Confess it - My heart's cry is, “Break my heart for what breaks Yours, Lord!” I had to confess the ugliness of my reality. I was becoming emotionally drawn to a man other than my husband. This was a sin. It broke God's heart, and therefore needed to break my heart, also. I had to confess my wayward thoughts to the Lord and ask for His forgiveness. Psalm 32:5. The Lord, in all His kindness, forgave me.
3. Cripple it - Once I realized what was happening, I knew I had to ask for help before it went any further. I talked to my man, told him what was going on, and how he could help. If however, I wasn’t comfortable telling him, I would have found a trustworthy person to confide in and ask me questions regularly. Questions like: How’s your heart? How’s your thought life? How are you taking your thoughts captive and making them obedient to the Lord Jesus? 2 Corinthians 10:5 & James 5:16.
I love the saying, “The grass is greenest where you water it.” So true! So how do I water my own grass? I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade to keep my heart tethered to my Lord and to my man.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23
The Safeguards against an Emotional Affair
1. Label - All men who are not my husband I now give the label “my brother”. If I feel the slightest twinge in my wayward heart, I mentally say the phrase “He’s my brother” over and over again to get my heart and mind back into focus.
2. Leave - If I can’t keep my heart obedient, I leave the conversation, the room, even the area if need be. Like Joseph left Potiphar's house in a rush, I leave the scene with or without my jacket.
3. Learn - I have learned that I have to be very careful with what I watch and read. My romantic heart has a fondness for a good love story, but that sweet love story can turn my “real life” love story sour. Just like I can’t measure up to an airbrushed model on a magazine cover or a real life beauty, my man can’t measure up to the make-believe man on the screen or in the book or in the figments of my imagination. I’ve learned my triggers and turn off the TV or close the book if it causes discontentment in my heart toward my marriage.
4. Love - This one is huge, and I saved it for last. When I truly love the Lord with all my heart, mind, and strength, other areas of my life line up, including my contentment with my man just the way he is.
God's will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. 1 Thessalonians 4:3
So, how about you? If you’re married, are you taking your thoughts about other men who are not your husband captive? What tricks of the trade do you practice to guard your heart? If however, any of my story raises a red flag for you and you are caught in an emotional affair, I beg you to unravel the strings that have tied your heart to someone who is not your spouse. It is the right thing to do, to honor your Lord, to honor your vows, and to honor your integrity.
If you’re a precious single woman, the same slippery slope is ever before you. Do you have an accountability partner to ask you the hard questions and help keep your heart and mind pure? If not, pray for one. God, in His kindness, will provide one.
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of dark chocolate, milky coffee, deep talks, lively laughter, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.