Sin, whether perpetrated by you or against you, produces legitimate or illegitimate guilt. Guilt is designed to propel you toward God so he can cleanse, heal, and/or forgive you.
Guilt left to fester, apart from God’s grace, produces shame. Shame produces the feeling of exposure which motivates us to hide.
You WON’T experience confidence while hiding!
There is ONE Seed that produces the bloom of confidence. This seed was planted in you when you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.
Confidence comes from knowing the indisputable fact that God
- accepts and
- forgives you.
And that’s not all. He DEFINES you as His masterpiece in Ephesians 2:10.
And yet so few of you BELIEVE you are! WHY?
Unknowingly, you’re drinking from wells, tainted by shame.
Depending on the amount of shame you ingest, your confidence will either flourish or flounder.
At a young age, Satan begins to taint your understanding of God’s love for you. He inserts SHAME messages into the water of your thought-life which spill down into your heart and poison or distort the knowledge of God’s love, acceptance, and forgiveness. If you don’t believe you’re loved, accepted, and forgiven, you will not be a confident woman.
When does Satan INSERT THESE MESSAGES?
- When you sin (legitimate guilt)
- When others sin against you (illegitimate guilt)
A few moments of gripping shame can create a lifetime of toxic inner turmoil! (The Journey, ohmin.org)
As a child, I defined myself as
- “less-than” if I wasn’t able to afford certain luxuries others had obtained by way of fatter pocketbooks than mine
- “dirty and perverted” due to sexual abuse
- “unwanted” when a close friend ditched me for other classmates
- “contaminated” when these same girls called me “polluted”
As an adult, I defined myself as
- “Immoral” due to a pre-marriage pregnancy
- “Deficient” when my husband tried to control me
- “Unsuccessful” when my children made mistakes
- “Troubled and needy” when my life seemed filled with problems
When have you experienced shame?
- Affairs-yours or your husband
- Eating disorder
- Addictions (yours or your husband’s)
- Failure to successfully blend a family
Hiding from God only intensifies your shame and resulting lack of confidence as you run deeper into the cover of darkness.
Are you hiding your shame from God and others because you’ve agreed with evil that you won’t be loved, accepted, and forgiven?
The only way to experience an abundant, CONFIDENT life is to turn to Jesus with your shame so he can cleanse, heal, and restore you!
God wants to remove the shadow of shame from your face with the washing of the water of His Word (Ephesians 5:26)
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces (Psalm 34:5).
Only God DEFINES you accurately!
- You are dearly loved
- You’ve been ransomed with His blood
- You are His masterpiece
- He bought you with a price
- Your sins are forgiven!
What Must You Do to eradicate the shame-filled messages that rob you of confidence?
- Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal shame messages when they occur. TREAT SHAME AS A WARNING LIGHT!
- Turn to God with your shame—receive his love, acceptance, and forgiveness.
- Rebuke fear (or it will keep you from turning to God)
- Allow others to enter your shame (safe people).
Next Tuesday we’ll look at how shame negatively impacts relationships and what you can do about it.
Has shame robbed you of confidence?
Day 11: In faith, you’re believing God for greater things in your marriage. I am too. But what will you do when you don’t see the growth you were hoping for? Give up on believing in the power of prayer?
Giving up is the equivalent of digging up a seed you’ve planted before the seedling has had time to pop its head above the soil. Giving up is robbing yourself of the HARVEST!
Faith and patience go together!
Are you watching other people receive their blessing and wondering where yours is hiding? Or are you doubting the word God gave you in your time of prayer because it hasn’t yet been fulfilled?
Remember the mustard seed Jesus talked about in Matthew 17:20? The story of this little seed teaches us that we don’t need BIG faith to receive from God. We only need little faith. Don’t focus on the size or strength of your faith but rather the size and strength of your God. When you magnify God, problems or mountains shrink.
Peter had little faith and yet he was able to walk on water. The minute he took is eyes off God, he began sinking.
The point of this little message is this:
1. The seeds of prayer you’ve planted this Spring will produce sweet fruit in your life and marriage throughout the year. Be patient. Don’t give up and thereby rob yourself of your harvest!
2. Receiving your harvest is not predicated upon the strength of your faith, but rather the ability to keep your focus on God and His strength.
Prayer for WIVES: Lord, Help me to keep my eyes on You and Your greatness rather than on my circumstances so I can receive rather than rob myself of my harvest!
Prayer for HUSBANDS: Lord, help my husband to see the power of Your love flowing through me. May he see with fresh eyes the movement of your Spirit all around Him and respond with newfound devotion.
Prayer of MARRIAGE: May our marriage be filled with the fruits of righteousness which will bring much glory and praise to God!
Day 10:Would you like to know God’s perfect will for your life and marriage? Fasting helps you prove or DISCOVER His perfect will. Paul was fasting when God shared his assignment for his life. Peter was fasting when God called him to take the gospel to the Gentiles.
“Fasting prepares the way for God to give you fresh revelation, fresh vision, and clear purpose.” Jentezen Franklin
I’m already seen fresh revelation as a result of this fast. 2 areas of concentrated prayers for my marriage are sex and money. Reading a great book by Dr. Juli Slattery, No More Headaches, I discovered a workable solution for connecting sexually at least twice a week. Battling busy-ness and fatigue, our sex life was suffering. Because I know sex works like a glue to hold couples together, I committed this area of our marriage to prayer. Dr. Slattery shared a creative solution on page 36 that jumped off the page when I read it. It’s working already : )
Reading Proverbs 27 today, I was convicted, inspired, and given direction in verses 23 and 24 concerning my role regarding our finances. God gives fresh revelation when you seek Him through prayer and fasting!
When you seek God concerning your marriage, He will be found by you (Jeremiah 29:13,14). And when you find Him, you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is!
Prayer for WIVES: Lord, help me to discipline myself as I near the end of this fast to seek you in your Word and through prayer. Give me eyes and ears to see and hear what you would have me know concerning your perfect will for my marriage.
Day 9: II Chronicles 7:14 states God’s requirements during a fast.
1. Humble yourself
3. Seek His face
4. Turn from wicked ways
Upon these conditions, God promises to hear your prayers as well as heal America (our land).
Last week during the fast, I was challenged by one of my mentors to deal with dishonesty in my relationship with Tom. You see, I tend to promise to do things in order to smooth over a tense situation which I’ve caused. When it comes time to fulfill my promise…well, I don’t always follow through if it’s not convenient for uh, me. If you see a pattern of selfishness and dishonesty here, you’d be correct.
Ephesians 4:22 implores us to throw off our old evil nature which is rotten through and through (point #4 above) full of lust and deception. Deception causes BETRAYAL and DISTRUST between spouses. Did I have that result in mind when I quickly committed to something in order to avoid the consequences of my behavior? In a word, no!
Spending time praying and fasting heightens our ability to SEE the insidiousness of sinful, casual actions that produce BAD results. What is God showing you today?
Prayer for WIVES: Lord, show me where the lust for pleasure and deception have crept into my life. Purify me by the blood of Jesus! Give me eyes to see as well as the strength to turn away from wickedness and embrace the life-giving truth of your Word.
Prayer for HUSBANDS: Lord, give my husband eyes to see You and YOUR ways in a new light and may he desire them for himself, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer for MARRIAGE: Lord, may the beauty, delightfulness, and favor of the Lord our God shine on and through our marriage! AMEN!
Day 7: In Ezra 8: 21-23, we read of Ezra’s declaration to king Artaxerxes that those who worship the living God are protected by Him. That was a significant declaration coming from a bunch of exiled Jews about to travel through some very dangerous territory on the way to their homeland. Realizing he was in deep water, what did Ezra do? He called a fast.
Fasting acknowledges your total dependence on God.
Are you travelling through dangerous territory in your marriage? Are there threats lurking around the next corner? Are you fearful concerning an area of your marriage?
Depend on God as Ezra did. The result of dependence? Ezra and tribe enjoyed God’s complete protection, safety, and peace. Victory in the spiritual realm must be won before experiencing victory in the natural.
The victory can only be won using spiritual weapons…one of which is fasting.
Prayer for wives: Lord, help me to be direct with my husband when I address sinful issues in his life, remembering first to determine whether it’s actually sin or an annoyance which I’m observing, and secondly to apply love to the direct words I use. (Ephesians 4:15, explained in Chapter 8, The Beautiful Wife).
Prayer for husband: Lord, give my husband ears to hear what the Spirit is speaking through me when I speak the truth in Love. When my husband speaks to me about an issue, help me to lower my defenses and LISTEN to the truth he’s conveying.
Prayer for marriage: Lord, as my husband and I each do our own special work, help our marriage to become healthy, growing and full of love.
Day 6: Some of God’s choicest blessings can only be obtained through prayer AND fasting. My pastor frequently reminds our church of this fact.
The Bible reminds us that God has good plans (or good and perfect will) for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). In Colossians 4:12, Epaphras reminds the Colossians that he is praying that they stand perfect and entire in ALL the will of God. This is a high standard!
One spiritual means of attaining the ENTIRE will of God is through fasting.
Think of a triangle right now. The full triangle represents God’s will for your life. Through prayer, you enjoy much of God’s will or the bottom two thirds of the triangle. But when you pray AND fast, you begin to move up and experience the choicest blessings of God’s will for your life represented by the upper third of the triangle.
As you fast, keep your eyes on the prize—the FULLNESS of God’s good and perfect will for your life.
Prayer for you: Lord, help me to apply your love to my words when I must address a sinful issue in my husband’s life (Ephesians 4:15 explained in chapter 8 The Beautiful Wife).
Prayer of husband: Lord, soften my husband’s heart to receive the truth spoken in love concerning sin in his life.
Prayer for marriage: Lord, I claim spiritual health, provided by Jesus’ finished work on the cross, over my marriage.
That’s Tom and me on December 12, 1980 (yes, that’s me under all that blonde-from-a-bottle hair)! All smiles, we did not foresee the rocky years of marriage that lay ahead.
About 3 years in, it was clear I needed help to navigate the terrain. Unable to figure out how to walk in unity with Tom, I was living a life of defeat.
Enter Deb, Suzann, and Nancy. One by one God ushered these women into the drama that was my marriage. They modeled Jesus as they loved, listened, and were loyal to me as I poured out my struggles. The answers I sought for specific problems weren’t always available to them, but God is always available and they repeatedly pointed me in His direction.
Over time, as God worked in me to smooth out the stubborn kinks in my thinking and actions, I began to align myself more closely with scriptural principles. This action produced a chain-reaction that ultimately brought about great change in Tom.
Aligning yourself with biblical principles is the secret power that can turn your marriage around.
When the apostle Paul (unmarried) and Peter (married) spoke to husbands and wives, they addressed wives first. Why? The path to a healthy marriage often pivots on the wife’s role and her willingness to align herself with biblical principles.
Alone, this path is difficult to find. Without others cheering you on, it’s easy to lose courage when the crush of disappointment overwhelms.
It’s safe to say that without godly mentors in my life, I’d either be stuck in a very unhealthy marriage or divorced. Because of women who loved God and cared about me, I’m a happily married brunette celebrating her 32nd wedding anniversary today! (After renewing our vows, Tom remarked that his first wife was a blonde, his second a brunette).
Mentoring hasn’t only altered the landscape of my marriage, it’s shaped me for work in God’s kingdom. In 2003,I began the ministry of Beautiful Womanhood so others could benefit from the same.
Beautiful Womanhood helps promote mentoring relationships by
- Training Mentors
- Encouraging Wives
- Helping women build community with other wives
We are devoted to providing services that will enable you to experience godly mentoring for yourself. Check out the NEW one-on-one mentoring service Beautiful Womanhood now offers. This is only the first of many mentoring services we’ll offer in 2013.
Statistics prove that mentoring strengthens marriage.
- 9 out of 10 women surveyed said their marriage improved as a result of attending a mentor-led Beautiful Womanhood small group.
- 4 out of 5 crisis marriages were saved as a result of mentoring (Retrouvaille.org).
- When city-wide religious leaders train mentors to provide ongoing mentoring for others, divorce rates fall at nearly twice that of other cities (MarriageSavers.org)
Listen to what Rachel said about her mentoring experience:
“Through my Beautiful Womanhood small group and the guidance of strong mentors, I’ve strengthened my marriage. The Beautiful Wife study continually reminded me how to cherish and grow my relationship with my husband rather than merely focusing on our challenges as a couple. I can’t recommend it highly enough!”
Whether you want to grow or save your marriage, mentoring will help you get there.
What could mentoring do for you or your marriage?
Add blurb about one-on-one mentoring.
All marriages have ups and downs. It’s a natural occurrence when two people’s rough edges grate on one another.
But what if you’re married to or are in relationship with someone whose emotional instability keeps you stuck on a roller coaster of painful emotions?
I’ve got news for you. You needn’t go along for the ride. It’s up to YOU whether or not you keep going round and round!
At times, I’ve been in relationships where I felt it was my God-given duty to get on board the coaster and enter the emotional chaos of another in order to offer much needed support and encouragement. But is that a wise choice?
Let’s look at the results I experienced:
- The object of my help suffered irritation over my involvement
- Those I was called to influence suffered inattention because of my involvement
- I suffered a lack of peace
That’s a whole lot of suffering for my good intentions!
What results are you experiencing when going along for the ride with an emotionally unstable person? Have your efforts been successful, yielding good fruit? If not, it may be time for a change in strategy. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.
You will be of greater service to your husband, child, friend, or co-worker if you exit the coaster immediately and offer what support they’ll accept with your feet planted firmly on the ground.
Notice I said “support they’ll accept”. Most coaster riders are addicts to emotional highs and lows and don’t want your help!
Please don’t think I’m suggesting you walk away from your thrill seeker. People in emotional pain need your presence in their life. The trick is to offer love without getting sucked into the vacuum of their pain.
You may be tempted to think that creating a safe distance is an abdication of responsibility. I know I did, but those thoughts were only a reflection of my own emotional weakness. Taking a step back, I was able to gain a healthier perspective.
What helped strengthen my emotions and shift my thinking?
- Realizing God (not Sandy) is the Healer
- Remembering what I PRAY not what I say holds GREAT POWER (James 5:16)
- Realizing God offers me peace that I WASN’T experiencing on the ride (John 16:33)
- Recognizing my efforts hadn’t produced the truest small reform
- Receiving wise counsel from a Christian counselor
Once you’re in a healthier place, it will be easier to keep your spiritual balance.
Other tips for dealing with an emotionally unstable person include
- Setting healthy boundaries. I HIGHLY recommend the book Boundaries: When to say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life
- Find a support person or group for the issues you face
- Regular self-care (Chapter 2 The Beautiful Wife)
Taking these steps, you’ll gain much-needed wisdom and strength for what could be a long haul with someone in emotional distress.
Are you on an emotional roller-coaster with someone you care about?
How does energy, or a lack of it, affect you and your marriage?
- Affect your desire to enjoy or pursue sex with your husband?
- Preclude you from engaging in evening or week-end activities with him?
- Cause you to be grumpy and difficult to live with?
Sleep-deprived, nutrient-poor, movement-deficient women all find themselves in the same boat: TIRED! Many Americans automatically reach for a cup or can of cure to medicate symptoms and delay dealing with health-zapping issues. But these false-cures mask rather than heal our problems and many times create larger issues–sometimes fatal. There are now news stories linking energy drinks to 5 deaths.
Taking CARE of your physical body is a God-idea. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? (I Cor. 6:19)
Your body is a GIFT from God that He’s entrusted YOU to care for. But where do you begin if you’ve neglected your body for longer than you care to admit? Start here:
- Baby Steps
I spoke of baby steps, a phrase coined from the hilarious movie, What About Bob?, in last weeks blog and it applies here too. How do you take baby steps regarding the health of your physical body?
- Include an extra serving of vegetables at lunch and dinner
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator
- Prepare for bed a half hour earlier than normal
Your baby steps might look different than mine, but the point is to take one at a time in order to reach a better destination. I’ve included more ideas for taking small steps in Chapter 2 of The Beautiful Wife
–Self Care. I also recommend Dr. Don Colbert’s best-selling book, The Seven Pillars of Health
for a comprehensive approach to your health.
Focus as you care for yourself. Distractions keep you from experiencing the joy of self-care. Don’t allow your mind to wander when
- preparing for bed
BE in the moment.
Rituals help you ENJOY the moment you’re in!
- When I’m preparing a healthy dinner (which takes time), I listen to a favorite CD and drink a delicious beverage.
- When walking I take in the beauty of God’s creation; while strength-training I’m aware of my muscles and bones getting stronger.
- Before bed, I spritz linen water on my sheets.
These are inexpensive gifts you give yourself. Enjoy them!
Self-Kindness. I’ve frequently been unkind to myself after/when
- eating popcorn at the movie theater
- pinching an inch (or so!)
- forsaking sleep for an extra hour for more time on the couch with hubby
It’s not productive to be unkind to yourself and can be the stumbling block keeping you from forward movement. It will only further your discouragement which is NEVER a good motivator.
Be nice to yourself. And get back up on that horse!
You don’t need to live the second-rate life of the exhausted! Choose to take small steps in a new direction and help PREVENT energy loss.
How would your marriage benefit from a little more energy?
Last week, I encountered a specific situation that, in the past, would have caused me great disappointment and self-doubt. My thoughts were just beginning to slip into a downward spiral, when the Holy Spirit spoke the following words:
“Sandy, why don’t you thank me for the situation as it is–not what you want it to be?”
It was a question and I had a choice to make. I chose thankfulness.
I thanked God for
- the disappointing aspects of the situation
- the positives I still saw
- His love in revealing to me a new way of thinking
and my joy returned in FULL. Praise created a positive, powerful force in me.
The final result of what I originally saw as disappointing turned out to be a great blessing in my life!
Reminds me of Romans 8:28.
“All things work together and are fitting into a plan for good to and for those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose.”
Part of our purpose and the reason we were designed was to enJOY relationship with our Creator. If your relationship with God is strained or broken because you frequently doubt Him and His goodness toward you, you won’t experience joy, strength, and the faith to believe that God is behind the scenes orchestrating every detail of your life for good.
Instead, you’ll suffer
If you say you believe God’s word, MEMORIZE this:
Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10
God desires an intimate relationship with you that gives you access to His strength and thus His JOY. Let these words slip off the screen and root in your heart. Meditate on them and be motivated in a new direction: PRAISE TO THE ONE WHO GIVES YOU STRENGTH!
Thank Him that He–not your circumstances is your strength. Isn’t that a relief? Isn’t that cause for thanksgiving?
Are you beginning each new day praising God? I have exchanged worry and doubt for PEACE and JOY because I’ve chosen to begin each day thanking God for the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I praise Him
- in the first moments of my day
- when I’m happy
- when I’m scared
- when I’m perplexed
- when I’m lonely
- when I’m sad
- when I’m devastated (I’ve experienced all these emotions this week alone!)
This THANKSGIVING MARRIAGE CHALLENGE is designed to develop a new habit in your life that YOU apply to the challenges you face in marriage. Instead of reacting in the usual way to difficulties…thank God for them and watch Him do amazing things in YOU.
Continue to enter into THANKSGIVING on Facebook each day as every three days we
- Praise God for Who He is
- Praise God for what He’s done
- Make our petitions known (with praise)
Tell God how wonderful He is and tell someone you know about the THANKSGIVING MARRIAGE CHALLENGE. You’ll both be transformed as you enter into thanksgiving!
Are you beginning each day praising God?