Are We Letting Men of the Hook?

Hi there beautiful ladies

Happy New Year to you and your families! May 2017 be your year of joy, blessings, and freedom in Christ.

I’m shocked to see that I last wrote here to wish you all a Happy 2016. Believe me, I had all the intentions of writing at least one post a month this past year, but alas, it was not possible. The good news is that I am chipping away at my studies. Next year this time I will be getting ready to graduate and I can not wait to get back to blogging, webinars, talking to all of you on the forum, and of course, adding some one-on-one professional counseling for those who may need it.

Now back to the question: Are We Letting Men of the Hook?

Tony and I had been married for 24 years this past December, and a few days before our anniversary I had an interesting conversation with a groups of very intelligent and beautiful young women at my college. We were talking about marriage and dating and they all agreed that we (our society) are letting men who are emotionally unavailable off the hook too easily by stereotyping their behavior as “typical male” or “something women should simply accept”.

I definitely saw their point, especially for the men of my generation (Baby Boomers and GenXers). I think that the Millennials are doing a better job at this because guys are expected to be more in touch with their emotions and to work harder at understanding the women in their lives. Also, for the most part, it seems that they agree with this and are happy to do it (I asked my sons).

However, I felt a pang of shame as the truth hit me: I am totally letting my husband off the hook (translate forgive and let things go) all the time! Like so many men of my generation, my guy is pretty much emotionally unavailable. Nine out of ten times he does not know how to react to my emotions and claims to have no clue what it is that I want or need him to say.

This kept bothering me: Why do I do it? Do I have a dependent personality disorder? Am I willing to put up with everything just because I need a man in my life? Am I a doormat? Am I settling for less than I deserve? Do I put my own needs on the back burner to avoid conflict?

In order to process my own questions, and also to justify my 24 years of “letting things go”,  I made a list of the pros and cons of my marriage. Here is what I came up with:

Pros:

  • I can tell him anything without (for the most part) being judged or belittled
  • He never makes me wonder about his love for me by flirting with or commenting on other (prettier and younger) women
  • He has a dry sense of humor and we laugh a lot
  • He forgives swiftly and never digs up my past offenses (yes even the big ones)
  • He keeps me grounded when my head is in the clouds and I have difficulty making a decision or thinking rational
  • He has stood by me through really bad culture shock, three pregnancies, raising four children, emergencies, surgeries, sickness, depression, and years of struggling with food issues
  • He encourages my dreams and helps me make them a reality by giving me practical advice
  • He tells me I am beautiful often, and did so through the years whether I wore a size 6 or 16 dress.
  • He holds my hand in public, draws me close to him in church, and opens the door for me
  • He flirts with me in front of our friends
  • He brings me flowers often for no reason at all
  • He brings me coffee in bed
  • He fixes anything that needs fixing
  • He often lays next to me in bed and pray for our family
  • He supported me financially through years of studying and homeschooling our kids
  • And of course, last but not least, he speaks Afrikaans

Cons:
Believe me, there were also a bunch of cons that I would rather not list for the sake of confidentiality, but it basically comes down to the fact that he is not perfect. He is a born entrepreneur who regularly locks himself away emotionally (like Einstein did I’m sure) to tend to a new invention and only appear again once the mission is completed. He works way too much which makes me feel lonely and neglected, and many times he makes me cry because he just doesn’t get me.

However, the main discovery I made in looking at my list of pros and cons is this: I can make up some of the deficits in our relationships by spending time with girlfriends, actively pursuing my own career and dreams, getting some counseling, and turning to God (which incidentally are all healthy things that I need). Most importantly,  the pros in our relationships are things I simply do not want to live without, they are too important to me personally.

So I guess I will keep letting my man off the hook, even if it seems to others that I’m a fool. It’s a trade I’m willing to make, because who he is to me, without changing anything about him, is worth hanging onto.

Challenge: Why not make your own pros and cons list to see if the trades you are making are worth it to you personally? Let’s face it, marriage at its best is difficult, but maybe, like me, you need a reminder of all the beautiful things about marriage that we tend to take for granted.

On the other hand, you may discover that the knawing feeling you have is actually not your imagination and that its time to seek help for your marriage. Please don’t wait, call someone today. Tony and I went for counseling many times through our 24 years together, and it never failed to bring a new perspective.

IMPORTANT: 
It is NEVER okay for any man to abuse you verbally, sexually, or physically. If you are in a marriage where you are often being belittled, humiliated, neglected, and hurt, then the pros CAN NOT outweigh the cons.

Please seek help if this is you. You can not do this alone! It is impossible to just pull yourself up after years of neglect and abuse. There are people who know exactly how you feel and how difficult it is to get out of an abusive situation, and they want to help you. Please get in contact with a counselor, a social worker, or a close friend who can get you to a safe place and help you take the next step out of this pain you are living under.

There are shelters and hotlines for women and children who are abused. Please search for those on the internet, even if you are in a different country than the USA, you will find similar hotlines and shelters in your area.

Books to Read:

  • Christian Men Who Hate Women: Healing Hurting Relationships by Margaret J. Rinck
  • Women Who Love Too Much: When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change by Robin Norwood

Great Resources and Articles:
http://armsonline.org/getting-help/resources

My dear friend, may God lead you and guide you, may His light shine upon you and give you peace in 2017. I pray for your marriage and relationships, but also for your safety and health. You are so precious to our Heavenly Father. You are his little girl, always.

Love,
Heleen

Surrender 2016 to Jesus!

Happy New Year!

HiRes
Here at the beginning of 2016 I would very much like to share a piece from my online program that focuses specifically on SURRENDER with you.

“Breaking away from my idols was very difficult for me simply because Satan wouldn’t just let me take back my heart without a fight. What helped me tremendously was to take 40 days out of my life and commit it to God. During these 40 days, my main focus was to surrender  to God, because without Him I knew that I honestly couldn’t even do one day (I’ve tried this in my own strength countless times before without success). During this time the enemy’s number one strategy was to keep me from God’s presence, because he knew, probably better than I did, that in the presence of the Almighty God I would finally find healing and permanent change.

I  wanted to really see if it would make a difference to have my main motivation be: Surrender to God. I wanted to set aside a block of time to untangle my heart from the idol of food (the love affair) and surrender all of my heart to Jesus(James 4:7) and  at the same time get rid of the shame and guilt in my mind (“…resist the enemy and he will flee from you” James 4:7 NIV).

I never realized how my past efforts have been thwarted by the enemy. Each time I committed in the past, the enemy attacks would increase to stop me, and I would become discouraged and fall back; defeated and stripped from all faith that I would ever be free. This time I was ready and armed and I realized, maybe for the first time, that I didn’t have to fight so hard but rather get in behind my strong and powerful God and let Him fight for me.

I finally stretched out my hand to God and said; ” Please take it, I don’t want to love food anymore. I am ready. I’m giving you full control of my time and my mind.”

Don’t stay in denial. Don’t let the enemy trick you like he tricked me to keep looking for some other explanation of why you have a food struggle. I remember looking for answers in all the wrong places, always saying “There must be something I’ve missed. There must be some reason why I am like this. There must be some cure that I just didn’t hear of yet”. This went on for years. The truth: I really knew all along that my heart was held captive by food and that nothing would change if I still loved it more than God. We can not serve two masters at the same time…

START your 40 days TODAY

  1. START TODAY
    Don’t put it off. NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT OR MORE LIFE CHANGING THAN THIS. So the enemy would want you to procrastinate yourself out of this LIFE CHANGING event by distracting you. Resists worries about a specific format, a specific book, or a special date to start. There is no perfect time or way to do this. Start surrendering to God today.It’s easy, don’t make it more complicated than it should be.
  2. IT’S ALL ABOUT SURRENDER
    This journey is all about you and God. When I first started this journey with other ladies, I had them draw up a checklist of certain things “to do” during their 40 days, however through the years I recognized that it just put more pressure on women to “perform”. I don’t want you to perform at all during these 40 days, but I want to ask you to STOP, WAIT, and LISTEN in God’s presence. The crucial element of OBEDIENCE will follow as you start to know and trust God more. Spending time with God to hear Him talk to you about what’s going on in your heart is the MOST IMPORTANT thing to do during these 40 days. If you only fall in love with Jesus during this time, then you are on the road to victory.
    Meet with God as early as you can every day. Use worship music to soften your heart before God, and have your journal and Bible ready. You can also use a Bible study or a book that is already geared towards a 40 day journey or that can give you daily guidance (see list below). Read week 2 of my program again if you’re unsure what I mean when I refer to surrender.
    Remember, the material is not the most important thing. Meeting with God TODAY for the next 40 days, regardless of the format, is the most important issue here. IN HIS PRESENCE WE ARE CHANGED! Don’t try to do it perfectly, don’t get discouraged if you skip a day, remember MEETING WITH GOD is the objective, not doing anything perfectly.
  3. GET BACK-UP PRAYER
    Phone a few friends whom you know will truly pray with you and for you, and ask them to pray for you as you embark on 40 days of surrendering your life to God. Tell them that TIME WITH GOD EVERY DAY is your main objective.
  4. JOURNAL
    It makes the world of a difference to keep a journal of your journey. Putting your thoughts on paper actually exposes the lies of the enemy, and just seeing your own progress is a huge encouragement. You will be amazed to see, even after one week, how far you have come. Just let it flow, open your heart wide to the Lover of your soul, the One who knows everything about you, your Abba Father. Give Him access to your life so He can bring healing.”

Click here for books and Bible studies that can help, but don’t let it be your main focus, rather read one verse from the Bible and spend 10 minutes in God’s presence than procrastinating over the right study.

I plan on taking up the challenge once again. I am going to use one of my old devotionals and make time to sit down with Jesus for a few minutes every morning before my family wakes up.

How about you?

Your sister in Christ
Heleen

About runaway trains and rescue boats

Does your life sometimes feel like a runaway train? The feeling that you desperately need to get off, but it’s impossible because the train is not stopping for anything? Modern high speed train

I was on a runaway train for quite some time, in fact only now, here at the end of 2015, do I feel that I can simply breathe again.

Almost two years ago I started the tedious process of getting licensed as a counselor in my state, and almost immediately as I set foot on campus the drama in my life started. Not so much because of college, even though the work is time consuming and stress producing, but other things that I had no control over were happening all around me.

I wrote here on my blog about my Dad’s sudden passing which shook me so much harder than I could ever imagine. Around the same time some issues surfaced in my family that made me seriously question the depth of my faith and my love for others. When I also experienced a health scare and found myself bursting into tears at the drop of a hat I knew it was time to get help.

I told my counselor about the runaway train that is impossible to stop and he said something that I want to share with you: “Somewhere on that train, there is a cart, a dining room with soft lighting, good food, and classical music. A space  where you could just sit, rest, and dine in peace. You don’t have to get off the train, or wait for it to stop, you just need to find that space…”

I needed some godly counsel and medication, but I especially needed the reminder that Jesus was and always will be my Prince of Peace, my place of quiet in the midst of the storm. I needed a reminder that GOD IS ALWAYS WITH ME, through the water and the fire. When I had nothing to give and all my spiritual disciplines flew out the window, when I had trouble getting through any given day let alone do the things I “should have been doing”… He was with me anyway.

Another amazing thing I found in the midst of the darkness was a lifeboat! I have once heard someone make the analogy of  “the lifeboat of thankfulness” and this thought came back to me in some of my darkest moments. When I felt the waves crashing all around me alone in the doctor’s waiting room, hearing about my Dad in the middle of the night, or laying in bed overwhelmed by thoughts of doubt and fear, I took the jump! I leaped into that lifeboat and started thanking God for the breath in my lungs, the people around me who loved me, the gas in my car, the good talks I had with my Dad, and all the things I took for granted… and almost without fail I would feel the peace of God spill over into my heart and mind.

Maybe you need a quiet dining cart today, or maybe you are in need of a lifeboat right this minute because you find yourself in the eye of the storm. I want to urge you that while this storm is raging  you don’t need to be brave and strong, but instead you can take the hands of others around you and most importantly cling to HIS hand.  God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is right there with you. He is your rock and your hiding place my dear friend.

I believe Mandisa said it best…

 

The passing of a hero

Last year my Dad passed away at the age of 69. It was a very sudden death and words can not express the shock or pain that this brought to our family.

I am still grieving, but I wanted to write my tribute here on my blog to salute the passing of a hero of faith. I grew up under my Dad’s teaching of the Word, and experienced many evangelistic outreaches and church plants that he undertook during my formative years. For most of those years my mom, brother, and I played in the church band, and were actively involved in all of my Dad’s endevours.

As  a child you don’t think much about any of these things, but today I recognize that all of those experiences shaped me and prepared me for the life I was to lead.

If I can pin point the single thing about my Dad that impacted me most, was that HE CLUNG TO JESUS. I saw my Dad struggle with his own personal issues all of his life, and go through seasons of deep pain, rejection, and sorrow, and through all of this he never once took His eyes off his Deliverer. I’ve also seen God bringing Him through the water and the fire, and never leaving Him stranded. He once told me that I should love God for who He is, and not for what He could do for me. He based this on that familiar passage in Habakkuk 3:16-19 ”

“Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
 I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.”

This turned out to be the single most important thing in my life. There are so many things that I never thought would happen to me, that I had no idea how to handle, that I have absolutely no control over, and that I am still not sure why God would allow it in my life… but that is not the point…

The point is that he is good

Don’t Wimp Out – Eyes on Jesus!

I have a love/hate thing going on with this quote from Beth Moore: “Have the courage to live under the strain and pain to be part of a better story. A larger story. Don’t wimp out. Only pain can bring change”

I love it because it’s so true, but I also don’t like it, for the same reason. Why does only pain bring change? Why do we only “get it” down in the pit of despair,  never on the mountaintop? I guess it’s one of those”wait till heaven to find out” kind of questions, but I want to talk some more with you about the “wimping out” part…

What is going on in your life today that makes you just want to WIMP OUT?

Are you in terrible financial trouble? Is your marriage a source of great pain an turmoil? What about those teenage children, are they breaking your heart? How are you doing with your food struggles these days? Are you maybe hiding out, avoiding people, and crying yourself to sleep again every night because of the terrible grip this thing has on your life? How are your relationships with your family, friends, or colleagues at work?

Let me stop for a minute here, take a deep breath with you, and say… I’m so sorry about the strain and pain of your story…

We can many times see the benefit of a trial in retrospect. That wonderful clear headed time when we can look back and reflect that “yes indeed God did use this to change me” or  “I can now see how God works everything for good for those who love Him”. The problem is when we are right there smack in the middle of the arena with the devil, the people who hurt us, the addictions we’re fighting, or sometimes the whole caboodle. In that place where there is only sweat, tears, and blood we just want to WIMP OUT, and honestly, who can blame us?

Remember the disciples out on the boat? They had the Lord of lords right there in the boat with them, but their eyes were on the storm, and they were freaking out! Peter had the same experience while walking on the water, only one thing could help him and save Him in that place of fear and terror, HE HAD TO FIX HIS EYES ON JESUS!

Let me encourage you today to fix your eyes on Jesus again. I know everything in you just wants to quit, run, hide, or give up… but there is another way. It’s in your room, with the door locked, on your face at the feet of the ONLY ONE WHO CAN SAVE YOU!

Pushing through this terrible pain, anger, or loneliness WITH YOUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS, will indeed bring you into a bigger story: HIS STORY for your life. In fact, many times our trials result in the very thing we’ve been asking God for years: A surrendered heart so that we can run free from the chains that bind us. A heart that truly loves Jesus above all else and that WANTS TO seek first the Kingdom of God.

I’m inviting you to fix your eyes again on Jesus as the Bible commands in Hebrews 12:2. Let Him into your moments, especially those weak moments, so that the PRINCE OF PEACE can reign over your life once again. 

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15; 5-10

Your sister in Jesus
Heleen