Divorce is the Most Important Story You’ll Ever Tell Your Child

DIVORCE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STORY YOU’LL EVER TELL YOUR CHILD

Kerry Lusignan

Nothing quite prepares you for what it’s like to go through a divorce when you have children. 

While the statistics say somewhere between 40-50% of adults will have to navigate this terrain at some point in their lives, when you embark on it, when it finally happens, your divorce can feel excruciatingly unique. Painfully individual. 

And it is. 

Rituals, rhythm, and rules. Your family is a microculture. The unique fingerprint of you and your spouse. The weaving of bones. Divorce, in turn, is the dissolution of such. The severing of a limb to save the tree. A metamorphosis that is characterized more by coming undone than by becoming. For the first time, you and your partner will have to venture into something together that is, by definition, designed to be done alone. You will go through divorce alone, together. 

In my work as a couples therapist, if a couple with children decides to divorce, I caution them that this is a time when they must be careful. I remind them that most likely, their bodies have come to recognize the other as the enemy and that given this, their heart rates will increase to over 100 beats per minute whenever they are in close proximity to the other. For many, this physiological response to threat will occur even at the mere thought of the other. Like a bulimic, whose body learns to regurgitate food without even the slightest touch of a finger, so too do our nervous systems learn to expel the other. 

And while these biological alarms may very well prepare you for war, they also come at a cost. Diffuse physiological arousal (DPA) is the amalgam of bodily stress responses. In addition to an accelerated heart rate, DPA is characterized by an increase in stress hormones. The result is an inability to think, communicate, or hear clearly. 

Not surprisingly, divorce is a time when you will struggle with periods of psychological, physiological, and emotional impairment. All of this occurring, while you are simultaneously called on to make critical decisions, single-parent, generate income, sell or relocate your home, and navigate the grief and loss of dreams. Your life is coming undone faster than you can rebuild it, and the seeds of regeneration have yet to sprout their tendrils.

According to John Gottman, author of Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, if you want to know whether a kid is navigating parental crisis at home, there’s a litmus test. It turns out that children exposed to “great marital hostility” have markedly higher levels of stress hormones than children of parents with stable marriages. 

Remember this when you’re seething in anger at your ex-to-be, and it threatens to overtake you. Your kid will excrete toxins of distress that their body cannot possibly metabolize. By a familial nervous system, you are all still interconnected on a subterranean level, and their body is screaming “stop,” even if they never utter a word to you.

Though if you listen carefully, they will and do tell you. And how you respond (or not) to what your child shares is critical. Their tummy may hurt at bedtime, or they’ll have an amorphous list of upsets that seemingly have no immediate cause (and therefore no remedy readily at hand). 

You’ll want to make it better, cheer them up, play a game. If they’re older, they might ask questions and even insist that you confide in them as a way to ease their angst. It can be tricky to discern who is comforting whom. Divorce is lonely, and even the best of single parents can experience the understandable tug to derive comfort at times like these. 

Tempting as it may be, try to refrain from responding to your child’s feelings by offering a distraction or cheering up. Such gestures, though well-intended, often come from our discomfort when we see our kid is hurting. We want to make it better—to offer relief. It’s natural to want to put a band-aid on an “ouch.” Unfortunately, divorce is bigger than that.

Instead, aim for what Gottman calls Emotion Coaching. To emotion coach, you must first cultivate an awareness of your child’s feelings. Notice their body language, their tone of voice, and their eyes. What do you imagine they might be saying (or not saying) in their actions and gestures? 

Be curious and avoid projecting your feelings and thoughts. Expand on such moments, listening more than speaking, validating more than fixing. Let them know you see they are struggling and offer to help them to name their struggles—encouraging them to use their words. 

Emotion Coaching can turn the mysterious case of a tummy ache or just feeling blue into a teaching moment from which your child derives comfort from feeling seen and understood. It will also offer them increased insight into their inner workings, allowing them to connect the dots between their tummy ache and their heartache.

The heartache of divorce is essential as air. Cultivating the ability to breathe through it and mourn is both the last and first stage of ending one story (your life as the family you were) and starting the next (your life as the family you are becoming). 

You are closing a critical chapter of your life and simultaneously embarking on a new one. There is also compelling evidence to suggest that the narrative you write, speak, and live from will have a profound impact on the adult your child has yet to become. How you make sense of memories, your past and the ways it has shaped you in the present, the answers you give to the fundamental questions of such, have the potential to pass down (or not) the same painful legacy that marred your early days.

Daniel Siegel, author of The Whole Brained Child and Parenting from the Inside Out, states that the best predictor of a child’s security of attachment is not what happened to their parents as children, but instead how their parents made sense of those childhood experiences. I want to go out on a limb and assert that how we as parents make sense of any significant experience, whether we’re talking childhood or adulthood, has the potential to shape the adults our children have yet to become and, in turn, our grandchildren and so it goes.

The telling of how your marriage came to fracture will evolve, and as it does, and as you begin to understand the role you played in it, it’s important to see yourself as neither victim nor villain. Similarly (although it can be hard) aspire to view your ex from an equally generous and compassionate lens. After all, not many embark on marriage hoping love will end, and very few of us have a baby wishing our family will shatter.  

Breaking up a family when children are involved is akin to pulling bones out of your body while you are simultaneously growing them. Aspiring to narrate the story of your divorce from a place of empowerment will inform every interaction with your child, from the day-to-day to the essential rituals of transition, including bedtime, pickups, and drop-offs.

Here is where divorce presents its most significant opportunity—a window of time where the stars align in such a way that you have a chance to shift the future. 

Create a constellation that serves as a map of where you have been, how you have gotten here, and where you wish to go in the days and years to come. It’s an atlas that will serve not only as a touchstone for you, but as a beacon for your children. 

Your story will become their story, so write it well.

The Lies of Lust: Promises That Never Deliver

THE LIES OF LUST: PROMISES THAT NEVER DELIVER

Noah Filipiak

The “Lust Trap” can reel you in anytime, anywhere. Its strong pull brings you in like a sci-fi tractor beam. The graphic imagery of Proverbs 7 describes it like an ox going to slaughter, a deer walking into a noose, or a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.

Most of us can relate to these metaphors. One moment you are minding your own business, the next you are caught up in an insidious trap, too late to be able to do anything about it.

The Lust Trap is a web of lies. Lies that we believe. Lies that make promises that never deliver.

Lie: This man or woman will make me feel whole and valuable.

The biggest lie that men and women fall into with the Lust Trap is thinking they will find wholeness and a lasting feeling of value from their lust. We typically think of full-blown affairs as the end result of chasing this lie. You think this person will make you feel whole and valuable, so you leave everything else and make your dream a reality.

But upon closer inspection, the dream, the pornography, lustful gazes, and mental fantasies all spring from the same breeding ground.

Try to zoom out from yourself for a moment. Picture the last situation you were in when you got sucked in by lust and observe yourself from an out-of-body sort of perspective. What is going on in your soul? What is going on in your deepest desires?

Some will argue that there are no deeper desires. They just desire the body parts and the physical feeling that lust brings. But I can almost guarantee that your lust, whether it was pornography or just a mental thought, was related to seduction. He or she had a seductive look, a suggestive pose or manner about them. Or, that’s what you were wishing for or picturing when you gazed upon this person.

If body parts are the engine of lust, then seduction and suggestion are the gas and oil.

The driving desire behind almost all fantasies is the desire to be desired—the want to be wanted.

We have a gaping hole in our soul that spews out feelings of inadequacy, failure, rejection, and so on. This hole was put there by our dads, our moms, the guys and girls we liked who rejected us, abusers, ex-husbands or wives, and any litany of harsh words and messages throughout life.

Some of this hole is there as the automatic byproduct of living in a culture that constantly exposes us to the top .01% of “beautiful” people in advertisements, movies, music, and television, and then tells us that we are failures if we don’t look exactly like them (and of course, if you buy the product they’re advertising, you will become just like them).

The hole in every person’s soul is unique from the next, but we all have it. And we all seek to fill it up. There are many ways to try to fill up this hole that are not sexual, but they all share a common characteristic: we need to prove our value.

Money, your job, your reputation, your popularity, your accomplishments, your family, your possessions, your physiological feeling of comfort, and your latest three posts on Facebook all make excellent attempts to fill the value-void we carry around.

I am valuable!

I am important!

I matter!

None of it is ever enough.

Life becomes a constant sprint on the hamster wheel of trying to prove these things.

While drugs give a high feeling that numbs the pain, sex gives a high feeling that includes human embrace and acceptance, something no drug can offer. It’s no wonder we chase sex with such abandon. But we all know the harsh reality: the brief feeling of value and acceptance that sex gives us quickly fades away, just like the high from a drug.

There are two options at this point. You can either do more and stronger drugs, or you can reject the lie and embrace the truth. I beg you to choose the latter.

Truth: I am whole and valuable as God’s beloved son or daughter.

When you feel the Lust Trap pulling you in, identify what it is you are really after. It’s not the temporary hit of endorphins, it’s the deeper state of wholeness, acceptance, approval, value, comfort, etc. (add your own words that fit you best).

Saying “no” to lust isn’t enough; we have to say “yes” to something else. We can’t just stop the tractor beam. We have to turn and run into the arms of someone else.

That someone else is Jesus. And I don’t mean the Sunday school, pixie dust Jesus, or even the Jesus that merely gets you into heaven. Not that’s a small thing, but it really only scratches the surface of all we have in Jesus and the healing he longs to bring to our day-to-day aching, lonely, distracted souls.

If you have put your faith in Jesus, Romans 8:15-17 tells you that you are a child, a son or daughter, of God.  It also tells you that you are an heir of God and a co-heir with Christ. What Jesus gets from the Father, you get. Romans 8:4 and Colossians 1:22 tell you that when God sees you, he sees perfection, because of what Jesus accomplished on your behalf.

He doesn’t say, “You don’t measure up.” He says, “I love you so much, and I am so pleased with you.” The Father spoke to Jesus in Matthew 3:16-17 and said, “This is my son, whom I love, whom I am so pleased with.”

Because Jesus paid for your sins on the cross, making you a new creation, you are now a co-heir with Jesus. You get these same words from our same Father. You are my son. You are my daughter. Who I love. Who I am so pleased with.

This is what the Father thinks of you. Any other voices you hear are lies.

This is our healing truth. This is the embrace we run to when the Lust Trap comes knocking. This is real, compared to what the Lust Trap can only cheaply imitate.

Your healing wholeness is found in knowing these truths and reminding yourself of them over and over again. Write them down over and over again. Pray them over and over again. Read them in Scripture over and over again. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak them into your heart over and over again.

This wholeness is also found in being in community with others who affirm this truth about who you are.  People who accept you and love you as a beloved son or daughter, the way the Father sees you. Not as someone mired by shame who doesn’t measure up. God designed the Church to be his hands and feet, his very body on earth (1 Corinthians 12).

I’m not going to tell you that church small groups are perfect, but they are a starting point. Look at the brothers and sisters in Christ that God has put into your life and pray and ask God which ones you can go deeper with. Then take the risk and go deeper.

The Lust Trap is a never-ending spigot of lies, and thankfully our God is a never-ending fountain of truth. Reorient your whole life around running toward him and his truth.

His love never fails.

10 Phrases You Should Never Say to Someone Experiencing Betrayal Trauma

10 PHRASES YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY TO SOMEONE EXPERIENCING BETRAYAL TRAUMA

Beth Denison

Discovering the sexual betrayal of a spouse is one of the most traumatic experiences anyone can suffer. There are so few people with whom the wounded spouse can confide. Imagine this devastated individual mustering the courage to share the story with a close friend or family member only to receive comments or advice that inflict further damage. How tragic!

Knowing what to say to someone who has experienced a loss is difficult for most people. I believe there are many well-meaning, loving individuals who truly want to be helpful to a wounded spouse but are simply ill-equipped in that situation. What should be said at such a time?

The Bible tells the story of a man of God named Job. His life was filled with prestige and possessions, but God allowed him to be tested and he lost his ten children, all of his livestock, and even his health. In the midst of his misery and devastation, he had three friends who came to comfort him. The Bible says,

“When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. They sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:12-13).

Wow! What great friends. Unfortunately, whatever comfort Job felt by their presence quickly ended when they opened their mouths and began to speak.

If you have an acquaintance, friend, or loved one who has experienced sexual betrayal, one of the greatest things you can do for him or her is just show up. Most people going through such trauma feel alone and isolated. Your presence, at that time, can be a gift. Silence is okay.

If you do speak, here are ten things best left unsaid.

1. “Things will get better.”

This person’s life has been shattered. How can you possibly know things will get better? Unfortunately, things may get a lot worse. Certainly, the wounded spouse can pursue and achieve healing, but that does not mean the circumstances will get better.

2. “You just need to forgive.”

Such a comment is callous to the pain this person is feeling. There are many things someone who has been betrayed may need, such as testing for STDs, counseling, self-care, safety, a support group, and healthy boundaries.

While forgiveness will eventually be in this individual’s best interest, to suggest this initially may imply that there should be no consequences for the offending party, regardless of current behavior. This, in turn, may pressure the wounded spouse into granting a false forgiveness before adequately processing the devastating emotions that naturally accompany betrayal. This can lead to confusion and delayed healing.

3. “It could be worse. At least he didn’t                  .”

Any comment that minimizes the behavior or the pain is hurtful. Betrayal is betrayal, regardless of the method. Period. To say such a thing is as insensitive as saying to someone who lost a child, “At least you didn’t lose both of your children,” or saying to an amputee, “At least you still have your hands.” The fact that someone else may have it worse does not lessen this person’s pain.

4. “If I were you, I would leave and get a divorce.”

You’re not. Job’s friend made the same mistake. Eliphaz said, “But if it were I, I would… (Job 5:8). The reality is that you cannot know what you would do if you were that person. You only have a perspective based on your own experiences.

5. “Have you been meeting his physical needs?”

Any comment or question that implies fault on the part of the wounded spouse is not helpful. Most are already feeling some sense of guilt and shame. Job’s friends also made that mistake. They assumed that he must somehow be responsible for the suffering he was experiencing. There are no perfect spouses because there are no perfect people. Nothing justifies a partner sexually acting outside of the marriage covenant. There is always a choice.

6. “You deserve better than this.”

This kind of statement usually comes as a result of strong feelings for the individual, which may cloud the judgment of what is actually best. In the Book of Acts, the apostle Paul was told by a prophet that he would suffer and be imprisoned if he went to Jerusalem. “When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem” (Acts 21:12). Paul went anyway because he knew God had a greater plan that would result in furthering the gospel.

It is unsettling to see someone you love suffering. But, it is important to remember that you may not be able to see the big picture and all that God can accomplish through the difficulties.

7. “Everything happens for a reason.”

Is this really true? Does God have a grand design that only allows for what he wills? If my husband repeatedly cheats on me, is that God’s will? No. It is not God’s will for us to sin. He knows how destructive that is for us. But he has created us with free will. We are not created as robots with no power to choose. When a person is overwhelmed with grief due to the sexual betrayal of a spouse, God grieves, too. We live in an imperfect, fallen world.

The good news is that what God allows, he redeems.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

8. “I know how you feel.”

Though you might have lived through a similar experience, you can never know exactly how someone else feels. No two situations are exactly alike. We all have our own unique experiences and perspectives.

9. “Just let it go.”

This is akin to “get over it,” or “just move on.” This is easily said by someone who is neither married to the individual nor emotionally attached to the situation. The reality is that the choice to stay or leave is incredibly difficult and not one that can be made quickly or lightly. There will be pain and complications either way. Seldom does anyone “get over” such trauma, though he or she will eventually get through it. Such flippant statements fail to acknowledge the depth of grief the wounded party is feeling.

10. “God wants you to                  .”

Be very, very careful about speaking for God. Job’s friends spent considerable time representing to him what they were convinced were God’s ways. In the end, the Lord spoke to Eliphaz and said, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right” (Job 42:7). Even if what you plan to say is biblically accurate, are you sure this is the right time to say it? Saying the right thing at the wrong time is still wrong.

What should we say?

With so many things we shouldn’t say, how can we know what we should say? “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). When someone you care about is suffering due to betrayal trauma, show up and focus more on listening than speaking. Will Rogers went straight to the point: “Never miss a good chance to shut up.”

Before you do speak, ask God for wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

Offer practical assistance. When Jesus was dying, he asked his closest friend, John, to take care of his mother. The Bible says, “From that time on, the disciple took her into his home” (John 19:27). You can help by bringing a meal, taking the kids for the afternoon, giving a gift card for a massage, or anything else that might relieve some of the pressure your friend may be experiencing. Jesus’ example of love was in deed, not word. We can’t go wrong when we follow his example.

Why Marriage Won’t Cure Your Porn Problem

WHY MARRIAGE WON’T CURE YOUR PORN PROBLEM

Bobby Angel

For many of us who have grown up with the presence of pornography from a young age—magazines, movies, or the Internet—marriage is sometimes viewed as the healthy “cure” to end a pornography habit.

I’ll stop when I’m married” or “I won’t bring this into my marriage” is usually the rationale. The problem is that there is no superpower in that wedding ring that will magically imbue you with the discipline (and the freedom) to renounce pornography; your ring is not forged in the fires of self-mastery. There’s no switch thrown on your wedding day that will make you impervious to temptations. Nor will your spouse magically satisfy all the illicit sexual fantasies that porn trains your brain to expect.

Marriage will not cure your porn problem; your porn problem will undermine your marriage.

You bring into your marriage who you are, and that includes your daily habits and behaviors. Good habits and bad habits alike take time to cultivate. I have to make a conscious effort to floss my teeth everyday for a few weeks before the habit can take root into an internalized behavior. I have to deliberately stop gossiping or disparaging my coworkers before the actions become habitual and improve my character. And I must take seriously my battle with pornography long before I am ever married; otherwise that habit will shoot down my marriage before it starts.

Thank God, that’s exactly what happened for me.

Several years before I was married, I decided that my chastity (and my future wife, and my soul) was indeed worth $10.99 a month for accountability software. So I installed Covenant Eyes and asked a close friend to be my Accountability Partner. I didn’t want pornography to come anywhere near my vocation (whether it was marriage or the priesthood), and so I took the necessary steps to purge it from my life. It wasn’t an overnight story of victory, but it was a huge first step and the necessary action to be free of porn years before I met the woman who would become my wife. But I had to first admit that I needed help and needed the motivation of protecting my prospective family before I could act.

We’re a culture with a widespread porn problem. That much has been well established by churches, psychologists, and a few honest media outlets. Deceitful magazines and talking heads will still tell you that bringing pornography into your marriage will help you, not hurt you, but this is an evil lie that is losing more and more of its steam.

Pornography, by its very nature, undercuts the commitments needed to love one’s spouse faithfully. It negatively influences behavior and leads to a perpetuation of brokenness, mistrust, and heartache. If the habit of viewing pornography has been well established for many years, the daily stresses of marriage and family life will only stir those temptations and can call for release. Many wives have been abused or even raped by their husbands because of the poisonous influence of pornography. And if the person conditioned by pornography finds no willing release from his or her spouse, then the person will look elsewhere to feed the disordered appetites. This is not authentic love.

In my church we teach, “Grace builds on nature.” Human and spiritual growth happens in tandem. The graces poured out upon a person on their wedding or ordination day are only effective insofar as the individual has been conforming to God’s will. If you haven’t cultivated a habit of prayer, nothing magical happens on the day you become a pastor. If you haven’t addressed why you’re running to pornography and subsequently rooting it out, you’ll return to it after a disagreement with your spouse or an evening where you’ll feeling lonely.

God desires to bless us with the strength we need, but we also have to put in the work.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). God does not hijack our natures, but His grace will pour down once we welcome it and make room for it. And it is often through our weaknesses—say, a habit of viewing pornography—that we are humbled and willing to accept God’s strength. He continually invites us to surrender control and not rely on ourselves for our own redemption.

Beyond merely building on, grace also perfects nature. We must first make the steps necessary to own our porn habit and increase in discipline, call for help when needed, and rely on God always. God’s grace will perfect us in our weakness; where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20).

We need to have cultivated discipline and mastery of self before we take our marital vows, not after. For love of your family and love of God, root out pornography now to save your marriage before it even starts.

The 4 Types of Premarital Couples & The Relationship Roller Coaster

THE 4 TYPES OF PREMARITAL COUPLES & THE RELATIONSHIP ROLLER COASTER

Kyle Benson

Have you ever fallen head over heels in love for someone?

When you first meet them you couldn’t stop thinking about them. Their smile, how they talked, their passions, the way they looked at you.

In the early stages of a relationship, reality goes out the window and the honeymoon effect influences you to feel that nothing could ever go wrong.

It’s almost like you’re the star of your own love movie. Kissing in the rain and all that jazz.

But then you have fights and breakup, shortly followed by passionately making up.

Believe it or not, these “Hollywood” romances are like a rollercoaster where you experience an emotional high of passionate love followed by a drop of emotional isolation.

Many of these toxic relationships can be prevented if we are more honest with the reality of who are partner is and who we are. Numerous research studies indicate that idealizing our partner in the bliss of love can lead us to ignore red flags. I know I’ve ignored red flags in past relationships.

During my interview with Mike, I talk more about how to prevent yourself from falling prey to this: How to Avoid Unavailable Partners and Have an Emotionally Connected Relationship

I’m not making this up. In fact, a researcher followed 168 couples from dating through 13-years of marriage.

He discovered that the happily married couples who were “very” in love and affectionate were 100% committed to each other, expressed less negative feelings and lots of positive feelings, and viewed their lovers as better than all alternatives. Their relationship was like calm waters.

Here are the four types of relationships Dr. Ted Houston discovered during his 13-year study:

  1. Rollercoaster Romances – these couples had emotionally draining breakups followed by passionate making up. Do you think these couples divorced? They did.
  2. Firework Romances – these couples fell madly in love with each other and like a firework, their passion lit up the sky but quickly disappeared when the reality of their ignored differences and unrealistic expectations darkened the sky of their relationship. Divorce was inevitable.
  3. Status Quo Partners – these couples stayed married but unhappily so. They didn’t have a blissful start (like the couples above) and there were some red flags that were clear in the dating portion of the relationship that got swept under the rug. These problems got worse the longer the marriage lasted.
  4. Stably Affectionate Investors – these couples did not have a dramatic dating period. Rather their relationship was like rowing a boat in a calm lake. They took their time investing in each other and intentionally built a warm and cooperative partnership. Almost all of these couples were very happily married at the end of 13-years. They had lasting and satisfying relationships because they fell in love and became experts on each other over time, not instantly. Both partners were 100% invested in each other. In the first two years of their relationship, they focused on creating healthy patterns of being with each other such as communicating, managing conflict, and intentionally building a culture of love, respect, and admiration. Essentially the quality of their relationship was built on a secure friendship.

Dramatic love may create passionate and blissful moments, but they also tend to come with hurtful and painful conflicts. Take your time falling in love and use the first few years of dating to build a strong culture of love, affection, and secure connection that will make your marriage last a lifetime.

Gottman Love and Sexuality Glossary

GOTTMAN LOVE AND SEXUALITY GLOSSARY

The Gottman Institute

“PC culture” is just the words we use now to talk about other people. It’s literally just updated terminology.

– Cameron Esposito

The world of love and its accompanying vocabulary is expanding. The days of “one-size fits all” or even “one-size fits most” orientation labels are a thing of the past. To help us look to the future, however, it is often helpful to draw from what we know. 

In this case, we’re looking to etymology and a linguistic element called the “combining form.” Here is our guide on combining forms used to express different types of love and relationships, and how you may see them used.

Gottman Love and Sexuality Glossary Prefixes
Gottman Love and Sexuality Glossary Suffixes


Click here to download the PDF

Terms you may be familiar with

Monogamous = one + marriage
Colloquially we understand “monogamy” to mean being in one committed relationship at a time, not necessarily marriage. But, as we’ll dig into later, our terminology could use some expanding, as not everyone is choosing to engage with the institution of marriage.

Homosexual = same + sexuality/sex partner
This is typically used to describe those who prefer same-sex partners. As we expand our definitions, we may come to find that this refers mainly to who a person is sexually attracted to, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate who that person is romantically attracted to.

Heterosexual = other + sexuality/sex partner
This is used to refer to people who are mostly (or strictly) attracted to people of the opposite sex.

Bisexual = two + sexuality/sex partner
If we hold our definition strictly to its Latin roots, bisexuality refers to one who is attracted to two, and only two, genders. With our ever-evolving understanding of gender expression, this term is potentially limiting and its definition adheres to a now-outmoded, binary construct of gender. Colloquially, bisexual refers to someone who is sexually attracted to both men and women, and the term pansexual or omnisexual offers a more broad perspective (men, women, and gender non-conforming/non-binary individuals).

A note about pansexuality and/or omnisexuality
It’s important to note here that when someone identifies as pansexual, it means they can be attracted to someone anywhere along the gender identity spectrum. It does not mean, however, that they are attracted to everyone and everything. Every person is unique and has their own proclivities, turn-ons, and traits that attract them to another person. Just as a heterosexual woman is not sexually attracted to ALL men, an omnisexual person is not sexually attracted to ALL people. 

Let’s explore other combinations!

Polyamory vs polygamy
Polyamory and polygamy are not the same thing. Polyamory means many or more than one love/emotional connection, usually simultaneously. Polygamy refers to plural marriage and is colloquially tied to certain factions of the Mormon faith. Just as many Mormons are not polygamous, to equate polyamory with polygamy would be a miscategorization. 

Often, polygamists we see represented on television (Big LoveSister WivesMy Five Wives) are practicing polygyny (-gyny from the Greek gynos or Ancient Greek gunḗ, meaning woman), the state or practice of having multiple wedded wives at the same time. A woman with multiple husbands at the same time would be practicing polyandry (-andry from the Greek andros, meaning man). To continue playing with combining forms, a person with just two wedded partners simultaneously is practicing bigamy. 

Equating the two is, however, understandable, as polyamory is usually referred to as “ethical non-monogamy” (unethical non-monogamy is cheating). We know from our combining forms that -gamy means marriage, so it would be logical to see the opposite of monogamy (one marriage) as polygamy (more than one marriage). But as the ways we look at marriage (and the reasons we get married) change, it makes sense to expand our definitions and terminology for love relationships, and move outside binary thinking. Polyamory is not actually in opposition to monogamy, just different.

This misconception may be due to the fact that culturally, our understanding of the terms monogamy and even polygamy precede our awareness/understanding/acknowledgment at large of polyamory.

Not-Necessarily-Straight A’s
A- is a fun combining form because it’s basically just saying “no thank you” to whatever follows it. For example, someone who identifies as Agamous is choosing not to have marriage, as a concept, in their lives. An individual can identify as heteroromantic (romantically attracted to or gets “crushes” on people of the opposite sex), but asexual (not interested in sexual activity with anyone, thank you). 

Everything on a spectrum
A note of caution: labels are most helpful in self-exploration, or to further your understanding of someone who already uses them. Labels are less helpful when they’re being used to define or confine someone without their permission. If the introductory combining forms featured here feel too limiting, specific, or two-dimensional for you, you may want to check out the “More Complicated Attraction Layer Cake.”

The best part about exploring an expanded world of love and relationship definitions (aside from being able to hold your own at a cocktail party) is the empowering feeling that can come from finding something that more accurately describes how you feel. 

In Anne of Green Gables, Anne hates when people point out her “red” hair, calling it her “lifelong sorrow.” But later, when a neighbor tells Anne her hair has become “a real handsome auburn,” her outlook changes. A more specific word makes all the difference.

Editor’s Note: We have decided to limit this introductory exploration to the areas that best speak to the work we do: love and relationships.

A Letter to My Younger Self on My Wedding Day

A LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF ON MY WEDDING DAY

Shantel Patu

Dear younger self, 

I’m writing to explain what marriage really means because I remember all too well your fairytale ideology that marriage is about a beautiful wedding, then fast forward to your happily ever after

With that said, I’m not writing as a warning. I’m writing more as an opportunity—merely think of me as your sponsor – because you’re definitely a hopeless romantic. 

Your dreams of a man riding in on a white horse, or a knight in shining armor, are figments of an animated imagination and I just want to take some time to talk to you about what’s real.

I want to let you in on a secret, if you will. A moment in time, to give you a gift, the gift of a second chance. 

You are still so young, at only 22 years old. And here you already have a small beautiful child, own your home, and you have a wonderful man who hasn’t quite discovered how great either of you are just yet. You should feel proud and accomplished. I know when I look back I’m definitely proud of you. 

Nevertheless, I specifically want to talk about fear. You see, although you survived a lot of abuse and neglect, you’re traumatized. Your traumas have caused significant damage and created a space for constant anxieties to thrive. Anxieties like your fear of being a victim, a fear of someone thinking they can take you away, and other fears, like your fear of intimacy, of getting in trouble or making mistakes, of not knowing enough information or being looked at as incompetent. And mainly, your fear of simply not being good enough to be loved.

I know you. Probably better than anyone really knows you. I know how hard you try to be perfect. I know how hard you work to be accepted. How much you feel you don’t and can’t possibly fit in anywhere, with anyone. And I know you think that if you achieve genuine happiness it means that you have reached the end of your life. But you don’t have to be afraid. I’ve begun to discover that you can be accepted and you are more than lovable. 

As I write this, I realize now that you are just starting out on the first path of many that will lead you on a journey into a life that brims with love and hardship, joy and sadness, peace and war, as well as abundance and strife. Your life will be wrought with moments of destitution and incredible successes. And I wouldn’t have you change any of it (except please buy Amazon stock and change your Sam’s Club membership to Costco, trust me, Sam’s Club will fail us). You will learn so much from the experiences that living this life will teach you. 

I would also encourage you, as your sponsor, to ditch your unhealthy addictions earlier.  You should see life through the eyes of someone who chooses to actually live. Find life in every breath. Leave behind the acts of fear that cause you to bury yourself and hide away all that is great in you. 

Now, about the young man you have chosen. He is going to be amazing. You were right to be attracted to his high levels of intelligence, and his cautious, careful approach to tasks. And that great sense of humor. You will laugh every day of your life. He will hold you close when you feel lost and afraid. He will trust your guidance and seek your counsel. He will treasure you. 

But it will take some time. You will both have to learn to grow up and embrace the art of communication. You will find an amazing woman, Julie Gottman, who will introduce you to techniques that will enable you to overcome so many marital obstacles. You’ll learn principles about communicating and methods for dealing with conflict that you’ll even align with your body of work. Trust me, these tools will prove invaluable. 

Your marriage will become a beacon of hope for couples around the world. But it will take time. Time that can be shortened if you heed many words and remember this letter, starting today, your wedding day. You can be so much more if you start by shedding the heavy, unsightly cloak of fear. 

Your story needs to be heard through the ears of faith and not through fear. Fear prematurely ends stories. It changes the narrative and demands surrender. It turns heroes into cowards and strength into weakness. It both clouds and casts judgment. It slowly takes away the essence of who you really are. It highlights scarcity and inflates the balloon of false pride. You are not what you’ve been through. Your truth and destiny lie in the places you will go and the people whose lives you will touch. So continue to go far and shine bright. Dream often. And fear not.

In this letter, I want you to recognize that you are going to have a beautiful family, a legacy of serving others, and a connection to your husband that’s absolutely unbreakable. But your life will really begin when you can begin to see yourself as a whole. Know that life is not just about what you know or have learned, it’s about how well you learn how to live. Do it fearlessly, for there is life in every breath.

So with that said, here are a few things I’ve learned about love and life over the last 23 years of marriage. 

Never stop dreaming together
Talk openly about your goals for the future, and always support your husband’s dreams. Be curious, creative, and explore your entrepreneurial spirit. 

Take better care of your health
Eat better and get into a fitness program or routine. Stop complaining and taking your amazing body for granted. Spend less time worrying about how you wish you looked and spend more time loving yourself. 

Spend less time yelling
You can be heard the loudest in moments of silence.

Enjoy spending time with yourself
I didn’t discover this until I was in my forties. I missed all that time just enjoying who I was and dreaming about who I’d be.

Keep your childlike twinkle in your eye
It will serve you well and keep you and others laughing. You are funny—stay that way. 

Spend more time in the moment with your children
They really do grow up fast. Parenting isn’t a race, it’s a journey. It doesn’t end when they’re 18. It will challenge you in different ways, but you’ll never get their little inquisitive minds back, so enjoy it while you can. 

Always spend time talking to your husband
It gives you both so much life. Have patience for teachable moments and keep laughing, it really is medicine for the heart.

Keep making space for passion and intimacy
Keep being intriguing and spontaneous. These moments keep you both connected.

Challenge yourself often
Don’t sit in the same place, be different, choose different. Regular is your enemy. 

Trust the process
Everything good and bad happens for a reason, even when you don’t understand why. Keep believing and trusting in the process. There’s always another side and a way to go through. 

Please take these words with you, always. And, I love you. 

Revealed! Big Reasons Nigerian Men Cheat, Many Women Are Guilty Of No. 4

REVEALED! BIG REASONS NIGERIAN MEN CHEAT, MANY WOMEN ARE GUILTY OF NO. 4

Victoria Chukwuani

A lot of women usually wonder why men cheat in spite of the effort they put into the relationship to make it work. Truth is, there’s no better way to keep a man than having to build a good relationship with him. The question is, how does one go about building the right relationship with her partner? The best way to go about it, is to first,  look at reasons why a man would contemplate infidelity in the first place. Having a clue, for this reason, would give a better perspective on possible solutions to apply.

1. Never let him forget you exist

We all know adulthood can be exhausting, most times with so many responsibilities and bills to take care of. Most women get so busy they don’t make time for their men and family. In spite of how busy both of you get, a quick text to him saying “I love you,” or “I miss you” or “I have a special surprise for you when you get home!” won’t be a bad idea. You get to rekindle the spark in your relationship with these little pins of love. Using your love for him to push out guilty thoughts out of his mind, just in case he thinks about flirting.

2. Spark up your sex life

Image result for Playful black lovers

If you are feeling a little jaded with your intimate routine (even if you blame him), then he is most likely tired as well. Spark up the bond by being the person to initiate copulation more often, and then take control of the play. There are numerous things you can do to spark things up that would leave no room for some other woman. Try any of the stuff he liked when both of you were first dating.

3. Do things with him, and for him

Image result for Do things with him, and for him.

I know this is no news but some guys live for their lovers, and some guys just put up with them. Be the type of lady men would live for. It won’t make you “unliberated.” It will seemingly make him your willing ”cabana” boy, doing everything he can to satisfy you. Cook sumptuous meals he enjoys. I know this is particularly hard for most female folks but if you can, try watch the football match with him. This would rekindle the bond both of you feel for each other and won’t give other women the chance to wreck your relationship.

4.  Nagging

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When you nag, you inadvertently chase your man to another woman. To prevent any loopholes do not nag or argue provocatively. Verbally assaulting a man can throw the man into a messy emotional turmoil with nowhere to fall back to. Unlike women who have alternative options during their lows, like girlfriends and moms, your man is likely to fall into the hands of another woman who might just smooth things up and make him feel good.

What are your thoughts on this? Kindly leave a comment and don’t forget to share.

Are Particular Sexual Activities Wrong in Marriage?

ARE PARTICULAR SEXUAL ACTIVITIES WRONG IN MARRIAGE?

April Cassidy

ABOUT MY APPROACH TO THIS POST:

I haven’t stated my personal convictions about specific sexual activities in marriage for a variety of reasons. One reason is that last year, God convicted me that Romans 14 admonishes believers to keep our personal convictions about “disputable matters” private.

The sharing of personal convictions tends to cause a lot of division in the body of Christ.

  • Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. Romans 14:1

So I took down any posts that were about my own convictions on a number of topics. I want to build the unity in the body, not create division over trivial matters.

  • So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. Romans 14:22
🙂

I decided to write about this topic after several requests. However, I am not going to be sharing my own convictions or details about my marriage in this area out of respect for God, for Greg, for myself, and for the body of Christ. I appreciate everyone respecting my approach. 

I have decided not to have comments available on this particular post.

  • This topic lends itself toward becoming a debate that would probably not be productive.
  • I also don’t want to have any unwholesome or inappropriate conversations in mixed company.
🙂

There are some resources at the bottom of the post. I invite you to check them out and prayerfully consider each issue for yourself with your own husband. 

A FEW FOUNDATIONAL THOUGHTS:

First, I want to remember that my greatest goal as a believer is to bring glory to God in all I do.

Second, I want to remember that anything that God calls sin is something that is ultimately destructive for me or for someone else. I want to focus on God’s incredible love for His children and the fact that His motives toward us are always good and never evil. Any parameters God gives, I want to embrace with total faith and trust.

Third, I want to remember that God created sex for marriage and that it is very good.

Fourth, I want to remember that Satan wants to make sex outside of marriage and sex before marriage as enticing as possible and he wants to make sex in marriage as difficult, painful, and frustrating as possible. He wants to create division and dissension and do all he can to prevent us from having unity in every area of our marriages, including the area of physical intimacy.

Warning, dear sisters:

Be aware of Satan’s strategies and tactics and resist him, yielding your heart completely to the Lord. He wants you to think accusing, negative, terrible thoughts toward your husband. He wants you bound up in guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, pride, and self-righteousness.

It is so critical that we take our thoughts captive for Christ so that we allow God’s Spirit to control our thoughts, motives, and all that we do, not the flesh.

Jesus set us free from sin, death, shame, guilt, bondage, oppression, fear, and every toxic way of thinking! He guides us in all truth by His Spirit and His Word. He can purify our hearts and minds and empower us to be the women He calls us to be. There is so much freedom in Christ. It is not about rules. It is about abiding in Him and being filled to overflowing with His goodness and then He gives us His wisdom and healing so graciously.

  • Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace… Romans 8:5-6

Let the fruit of the Spirit be very evident in the way we treat our husbands sexually, and in every other way. May God’s supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control abound in our hearts and in our interactions with our husbands. May the way we relate to them bring great joy to God’s heart and glory to His Name!

HOW TO DECIDE IF A PARTICULAR SEXUAL ACTIVITY IS A SIN IN MARRIAGE:

I need to prayerfully ask myself some questions as I seek to allow God’s Spirit to show me His truth and goodness from the Bible – with a heart that longs to obey God no matter what He may ask of me:

1. Does the Bible list this thing as a sin? If the Bible lists it as sin, it’s out of the question. I can’t participate in that.

2. Does the activity I want to do violate a general principle of God’s Word? Is it selfish, hurtful, involving sex outside of marriage, involving lust for someone to whom I am not married? Is it an addiction? Does it involve idolatry, greed, lying, envy of others, etc…?

3. Could what I want to do cause harm/pain emotionally or physically to my spouse? I must remember that “love does no harm to a neighbor” (Rom. 13:10). Could the activity cause harm to myself or anyone else in some way?

4. If the Bible is silent about it, the activity doesn’t go against a general principle of God’s Word, and it does not cause harm to someone then it really isn’t my place to label something as sin that God doesn’t label as sin. I don’t want to put myself in the position of deciding what is sinful. And I don’t want to make up my own “sins” and put myself in bondage unnecessarily to manmade rules. I can have personal convictions that are based on my own thinking. But I don’t get to label things as “sin.” That is God’s job.

5. If an activity violates a particular believer’s conscience, then for that person, he/she is not acting in faith and that is sin for that person even if this is an area where there is Christian liberty and freedom. I don’t want to force my spouse to do something that would violate his conscience. I would seek to “bear with him in love” and patience and put my desire for a particular thing on the back burner.

6. In areas of Christian liberty, I am free in Christ to enjoy something that is not labeled as sin by God and that does not violate biblical principles.

7. My primary purpose in the sexual aspect of my life must be to glorify and love God and love my husband. Sex is not “all about me.” Yes, I can enjoy it, and that is awesome. But, as a believer, I want my mindset to be, “How might I bless my husband in this area?”

Note:

In my book, I share a number of ways that we can be disrespectful to our husbands about sex and ways we can respect our husbands about sex. The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord

Much love to each of you in Christ!

Being a Woman of Grace

BEING A WOMAN OF GRACE

I’ve been growing intently for years now in trying to become what I would call a ‘woman of grace.’  It’s probably been the most difficult journey for me personally, even though I’m naturally kind and loving, being a true woman of grace means exhibiting maturity even during the hardest of circumstances.

Maturity.  I love this word and it’s meaning.  I love that this is what Jesus meant when He said that He desired for us to be “perfect” (Greek meaning = mature, complete in growth), like He was.

Complete in growth.  Stable, mature, peaceful… uneasily shaken by others and what they may say about you or do to you.

When people are being human, with their flaws, or even sometimes difficult personalities, I’m able to exhibit grace fairly easily.  I’m blessed to be easy going and optimistic in nature, but when I’m confronted with extremely rude or even evil people, I tend to throw grace out the window and can become like a mamma bear in all her anger in setting my boundaries or telling them off.

While I’ve come a long way in spiritual growth in this area, I still want to work to become more mature, more able to understand a difficult situation so that I’m no longer sucked into sinful drama.  Its critical to understand the motive behind our own behavior that can end up leading us to being ungraceful in how we deal with others.

A few years ago now, I read one of the most interesting books on anger and dealing with people or situations that bring out bad characteristics in us.  The book is called Overcoming Emotions that Destroy, written by Chip Ingram, and helps one to identify what kind of person they are (a Stuffer or Exploder… I’m a Stuffer that can endure for years before I finally Explode), what kinds of things hurt or anger them, and how they spiritually need to go about dealing with toxic emotions (or people) in order to have joy and peace in their life.

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Being a woman of grace means having composure, finding and being grounded.  It carries over into the realm of crisis situations, and into confrontations with catty or gossipy females.

Carrying oneself with grace means having patience when a difficult person needs time to mature, but grace also means having the wisdom to know when to move on away from a person who refuses God’s assistance to grow beyond their immaturity.

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Being a graceful woman is finding maturity through allowing God to develop in you the traits of the Fruit of the Spirit (more below), but let’s take a look at why it is so important to cultivate Grace. Let’s take a look at the ungraceful woman.

The Ungraceful Woman

To be an ungraceful woman (not disgraceful as that implies shameful), but merely a woman who lacks real grace in dealing with others, is a very painful existence for that woman, and is why I truly feel sorry for people who live their lives in such a unhealthy manner.  She constantly feels the need to control others, to criticize or “punish” them, without trusting that God sees everything and has taken vengeance into His own hands, and commanded her not to herself!

Meddling in others’ lives, watching them in order to jump on their mistakes, gossiping to her audience of relatives or friends about their mistakes or perceived lack of character… all these things are actions that prevent these women from growing in true maturity, and it always makes me very sad when I come across someone with this defect.  A woman like this is shirking her calling, ignoring her God-given talents, and being consumed with the faults of others while her own creativity withers away.  Once you understand the depravity of her actions, you no longer feel any other emotion toward her except for deep sadness at the life she’s chosen for herself.  She knows deep down that she’s wrong, that she’s behaving immaturely, that she’s deliberately confronting someone (or going behind their back to gossip) in something that is not her place and not bringing glory to God, however, she believes she is doing what is right, even beneficial to her target.  She is driven by this feeling, even though she has a nagging horrible anxiety about it.

The Ungraceful Woman Is Addicted to Attacking Others (you know… like a hobby)

Why do people attack others?  Why would someone focus so much on another’s life, devoting their words or actions to criticizing their every move?  Why would someone go into a church, sit there for an hour listening to a Bible study, and then carry out their plans to murder the people in that church because they hated members of a different race so intensely?

Even though these are situations where a person gives in to evil in lesser or greater degrees, I want people to understand that these all have one major motive in common: 

The desire to shame or punish others

When Dylann Roof, the recent aggressor in a mass shooting in an African American church in South Carolina, carried out his actions they were based on the desire to punish the blacks in that church for perceived crimes others of their race had done (or even not done) in our country.  He felt like he was carrying out a righteous duty in harming them, in exterminating them.  His words were that he had to do it because he would be benefiting society.  This is the basis of all racial crimes and genocide that has been prevalent all over the world, but it is always motivated by more than mere hatred, but by the desire to punish, shame or exterminate someone (or people)…

because they “deserve it.”

To a lesser degree, this is the same motive that takes place when a woman (or man) decides that harming someone through gossip (ruining their reputation or hurting their feelings), or punishing them by using harsh language, dismissing them or ignoring, or shaming them, is beneficial to that person or even a “righteous act.”  The can even justify that harming them is beneficial to others or a certain group.

Be it someone like Dylann Roof or a woman who punishes and shames others, the evil is shown when the aggressor thinks they are justified to treat another human being this way.  In Patricia Evans book, Controlling People, she discusses the scenarios of a person spanking a baby to get it to stop crying, and the event of a terrorist act,

While I am not in any way equating hitting a child with the quite different act of terrorism, I am pointing to the fact that they both arise from a terrifying unawareness on the part of the aggressor.  And that in most cases, when people act against other people, they feel justified.  They feel sensible.

If you have ever encountered a person who acted against you by harassing you, defining you, discriminating against you, or physically assaulting you, you may have noticed that the act was perpetrated against you as if you were deserving of it.

Whether they are experienced as horrifying, hurtful, or simply nonsensical, acts against others have certain commonalities:

1) Perpetrators usually believe that their oppressive actions are necessary, even right.  Their behavior is actually the opposite: unnecessary and wrong

2) Generally acts against others, that is, attempts to control others, eventually bring the perpetrators just the opposite of what they want.

3) Acts against others originate with a distortion or lack of awareness.  Perpetrators almost universally believe that they see clearly and are aware: the opposite of reality.

Instead of growing in maturity, an ungraceful woman develops a toxic character of constantly feeling like it is her “duty” to “call out” the sins, failures, and shortcomings of others.  She feels like her oppressive and ungraceful behavior is necessary to bring about some kind of desired change.  She attempts to control another to try to get what she wants from them (compliance), but ends up getting the opposite (a broken relationship, or being ignored, or facing the other’s indifference).

In acting in an ungraceful manner of attacking, shaming, or gossiping about another person, she is pursuing the opposite of growing in maturity.  Maturity in our actions with others is found in the Fruits of the Spirit,

Maturity through the Fruits of the Spirit:

Love

Joy

Peace

Patience

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

Self-Control

An aggressor or ungraceful woman at times, will break every single one of these beautiful tenants of the Fruit of the Spirit, characteristics that should be growing in someone that is becoming more and more mature or Christ like, in order to criticize or punish another.

Being a woman of grace means actively pursuing each of these characteristics whole-heartedly, allowing God to change her more and more into a complete woman  – a woman who is mature.

Hope for a Future of Grace, Even in Our Failings

If you’ve failed in this way, if you’ve been the ungraceful woman, let me just tell you that I’ve been there… I’ve hit rock bottom.  Don’t let shame that you’ve failed in this area prevent you from embracing the hope and joy that God can change and heal everything, giving you that maturity and peace to help you understand how to better deal with others.

Here are some scriptures that are for those who feel like they’ve failed being a woman of grace:

“I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.  I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion (maturity) until the day of Christ Jesus.  It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace….”  Philippians 1:3-7

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“For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose.  Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.  Hold firmly the message of life.”  Philippians 2:13-14

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“Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.  Therefore all who are mature should think this way.  And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this to you also.  In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.”  Philippians 3:12-16

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“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another.  Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive.  Above all, put on love – the perfect bond of unity.  And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts.  Be thankful.  Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  Colossians 3:12-17

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