Category Archives: Restoration

Addictions in the Relationship (Part II): Filling the Emptiness

heart 

Alcohol is the noble addiction: “Who doesn’t drink?” “What’s wrong with a little drink now and then?” People make the claim that alcohol helps them to relax. “It makes me more comfortable around other people, and it helps me be who I am and removes my inhibitions. A drink now and then helps me to relieve my stress.”

“Drugs are not that big a deal.” Have you ever noticed that some people have no problem identifying certain sins as far worse than others? People naturally set boundaries on certain drugs, usually the ones they are not doing, but marijuana, for example, is “not a big deal.” “A little cocaine is not an issue for me. I know how to moderate.” I wish I had a nickel for every time the person sitting across from me has told me, “I can stop whenever I want to”—whether they were addicted to shopping or crack cocaine.

Shopaholics are a newer identified breed, those who love to go out and spend their money. The issue is not the importance or the desire for what they are buying, it’s all about the act of spending, spending, and more spending with little regard to whether they have money in their accounts.

These are but a few addictions, there are many, many more. The interesting thing about addictions is that they are all designed to fill an emptiness, a void in our soul. The root is always selfishness. For the addicted person, the addiction holds a place of importance above all else in their life.

In the marital relationship, addictions tear at the heart and foundation of your commitment. God, spouse, and children should have priority in a marriage. When you light up a joint in the garage when everyone else has gone out to the store, it means the joint is more important than the example you set to your family, especially the children. When you turn on the computer to browse the porn site you’ve visited so often, you intentionally put out of your mind the pain and insecurity you cause your spouse when they know exactly what you are doing. The damage is incredible.

Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself…   -Romans 15:2-3

When we come into marriage we make a commitment to the other person. We commit to be there in body and spirit. We vow to give each other to one another and sacrifice selfish ambition and desires of self-gratification. Our marriage vows do not state that the exception is when things are not going so well or when we simply don’t feel like it.

The true healing power of all addictions lies in our motivations to follow the addiction in the first place. We are choosing, selfishly, to meet our own needs, to deal with our pain by not dealing with it. Rather, we simply medicate in a variety of forms, all to the exclusion of our creator. We are choosing to fill that hole in our heart with anything and everything we can get ahold of, when the only thing that can make us complete and heal the pain in our heart is our Lord and Savior.

What fear prevents you from entering into a personal and transparent relationship with God?

In part three we will explore the other side of unhealthy addiction, the co-dependent.  We will also look at some resources for help.

Alcoholics Anonymous, http://www.aa.org

Alcoholics Anonymous Family Groups, http://www.alanon.org

Narcotics Anonymous, www.na.org

American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) for Christian individual and marital counseling in your area.  Contact: http://www.aacc.net

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Addiction, Behavior, Character, Idolatry, Restoration, Selfishness

Give Yourself to God, He’ll Clean Up the Mess!

clean up

For me, certainly one of my major battles involved harnessing what came out of my mouth.  In all honesty I have not yet arrived.  I am still a work in progress…but I’m in good company.  On more than one occasion I had attempted to stop on my own to no avail.  It was clearly evident that I need help greater than myself.  You see, people thought my insults, rudeness and sarcasm were funny.  If God healed me from this would people still like me?

Needless to say, since having asked God to temper my tongue, I no longer care about the acceptance of the world. What God thinks of us is far more important. In displaying God to our families, we should do our best to emulate Him. Men, as the spiritual leaders of our households, that is our obligation.

From the minute we wake up in the morning to the moment we close our eyes at the end of the day, plenty of people and circumstances have the potential to tear us down if given the opportunity.  Ask yourself: do I want to contribute to the “tearing down” process, or would I rather be a part of the edification process? Our marriages need to be the place where we build up and strengthen each other against the arrows of the world.

Are you assessing your behaviors as you interact with the world?  Are you learning to tame your tongue and gather yourself before you respond out of emotion?  Are you examining your motivations and responses aimed at your spouse, or are you simply taking everything personally? It is not just an issue of what words come out of our mouth; we also need to consider what we allow into our minds. External influences can have a great impact on what goes on in our minds, which in turn impacts the words that come pouring out of our mouths.

…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.-Philippians 4:8

Have you asked God to show you how to better tame the critical spirit and breed a heart of understanding and edification?  What is the potential of such a transformation in your marriage, in your life?

God allowed me to retained my sense of humor through the process yet has filtered my communication in such a way as to be more edifying to others.  But again, I am still a work in progress and try to be more intentional about my behaviors, He continues to clean up the mess.  Thank you, Lord!

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Character, Communication, Leadership, Male Leadership, Respect, Restoration, Submission

When Expectations Are Set In Stone

set in stone

Expectations can be a slippery slope.  The bottom line regarding expectations is to be wary.  In many cases if we rely on our expectations and they are unrealistic, or based on past events with no consideration toward the possibility for change, they can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, if you choose to believe that an outcome is likely, you can create the scenario for that very belief to come true.

Let’s assume that Harry has a dreaded fear of authority figures because his father was very critical of him. He comes into work that morning and sees a note from his boss on his desk: “My office—11:30 am.”  Immediately the anxiety begins to build. What could he possibly want? I don’t think he really likes me.  He never talks to me; why does he want to see me now? And so the internal conversation goes.

By 11:30 Harry has built up such a scenario of assumptions in his head that he is ready to defend everything from what he had for breakfast to why he voted the way he did in the last election!  Most likely he will walk into that office with a huge chip on his shoulder, ready to be defensive at the slightest provocation.  Just before Harry opens his mouth, his boss acknowledges his efforts and apologizes that he hasn’t mentioned it before and would like to show his appreciation by increasing Harry’s salary for a job well done.  If Harry had expressed what he had been feeling, his foot would have gone directly down his throat—and potentially a nice raise out the window.

The bigger problem with expectations is that it does not allow for growth.  In relationships where there is damage, we often set the script (or it’s been set) and refuse to change it.  Not so surprising, who wants to be hurt again when we’ve been hurt before.  However, when the mates make a decision to change and really work on the relationship we need to adapt our expectations and be flexible in order to make way for the possibility of change.  Otherwise we will continue to doubt the sincerity and potential in our spouse.  We will always assume the worst!  I’m not telling you to be naïve.  The decision to change should show behavioral results.  But, if the change is becoming evident, everyone will need to adjust their expectations to assure further growth.   The reality-we serve a God who specializes in transformation.

Do you need to learn to adjust your expectations in order to allow others to grow?  Have you inhibited growth in others by your concrete assumptions that “they will NEVER change?  Can you see where this philosophy may be damaging your spouse, children or friendships?  Remember, it’s never too late to change!

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Expectations, Restoration

Pornography (Part II): Exposing the Sin

secrets

You may think that you are good at concealing your indiscretions, but think about it. Is there a more common story than that of the child who comes across his father’s pornography collection while riffling through his dresser drawers? God has a way of exposing sin, one way or another. Children typically have high regard for their parents. If they believe that you think pornography is no big deal, rest assured they too will participate in your sin.  We will continue our journey through sexual sin as we shine the light of truth on three more consequences of pornography.

Fifth, pornography develops like any other addiction. You see it time and time again in counseling. When you participate in an activity that elicits excitement, a chemical called dopamine is released. Over time, in order to reach that same level of excitement, more and more stimuli is necessary because you develop a tolerance to it. This is true with all addictions. Now it becomes necessary to up the ante. As you become more dependent on outside stimuli for excitement, you become less dependent on, and derive less enjoyment from, your spouse.

 Sixth, the more you become dependent on pornography, the less attractive and more insecure your spouse will feel—and rightfully so. You will naturally compare your spouse to the people in the pornography. You may not do it verbally, but you will do it in your mind, and your mate will be very aware of your increasing lack of interest in them. The reality is that people don’t look in real life the way they do in pornography! They have been made-up, touched-up, airbrushed, and inflated beyond reality.

One more reason if you need it. Your ability to communicate with your spouse and others will steadily decrease. It’s easy to have a relationship with something that doesn’t require anything of you.  What do you think that does to a marriage over time? If you are involved in pornography you don’t need to be told.

In all of this we’ve said nothing of the secrecy and deceit often accompanied by the use of pornography, constantly looking over your shoulder hoping not to get caught.

If you need any more reasons why pornography is destructive to your marriage, put this book down immediately and go to your secret hiding place. Remove and destroy your pornography collection.  Get down on your knees, ask forgiveness, and repent of this behavior.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” -Philippians 4:8

Regardless what you may have done (or are doing) we serve a God of restoration.  Find accountability with someone you trust and plug into the helps available in your community and your church.  Ask God to change your heart and begin the road to sexual discipline.  Be blessed!

Website Filters and Accountability: Covenant Eyes: www.covenanteyes.com & X3watch: www.xxxchurch.org

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Accountability, Behavior, Character, Idolatry, Pornography, Respect, Restoration, Sexuality

Pornography (Part I): From Thought to Action

Shame

Pornography is a very dangerous practice to bring into your marriage for a variety of reasons.  I will spend this and the subsequent post dissecting the destruction created when you place your own sexual desires above God’s will.  It is important to remember that every decision we make has ramifications in our relationships, marriage and family.  We will focus on seven consequences of pornography, whether you introduce it into the marriage or partake in it as your “secret sin” (Remembering that there are NO secrets from God).  Let’s have a look at the first four, shall we.

 First, it creates a fantasy problem.  We introduce other people into our mind, heart, soul, and relationship. Now there is plenty of fodder to fantasize about people other than your spouse.

 Second, there is the moral question of partaking in pornography.  The actors/models who perform in these videos or photos are damaged themselves.  Many struggle with insecurity and their own need for acceptance.  To an overwhelming degree, they come from painful pasts.  By supporting this industry, you encourage more of that behavior, as well as participate in the degradation of precious people who were created in the image of God—created for great things.

 Third, ask yourself the question, “How would I feel if I found out that my son or daughter were in a porno magazine or video?”  We can become so desensitized that we don’t even view these performers as human beings.  They all have parents too.

 Fourth, anything that you partake in has consequences.  These consequences can pass down and influence the behavior of your children.  Remember, if your children think you are okay with a certain behavior, odds are they will do it in excess.

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. -Exodus 20:5-6

In what ways do you feed your sexual sin?  What exactly are you feeding? (insecurities, fear of intimacy, difficulty in communication, etc.)   Are you already reaping the consequences of your behavior?  If this is a “secret sin”, have you considered what might happen if you were exposed?  In spite of the fear and consequences, how do you justify the behavior?

If this is a hindrance in your relationships I encourage you to take it to the Lord, from Him comes strength.  There are counselors and groups that deal specifically with issues of sexual addiction.  You don’t have to take the journey alone.

We will continue our exploration of sexual sin in my next post.  Be Blessed!

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Accountability, Behavior, Character, Idolatry, Pornography, Respect, Restoration, Sexuality

Why Forgiveness? (Part III): Beyond the Pain

pain

As I noted in my last post, forgiveness does not mean you will simply forget what has happened in the past. What it does mean is that you can decide how much control it will have on your future. Merriam-Webster defines the word forget as “to disregard intentionally.” Again we come back to intentionality. We must choose to leave the pain of the past at the foot of the cross or we will continue to be re-victimized over and over as we allow the bitterness back in.

We must also understand that our ability to forgive may have nothing to do with whether the situation is resolved or all wrongs are righted. If God tells us we should forgive, that means it is something we have the ability to do regardless of the actions of others. In some cases the other person may not believe (or choose not to accept responsibility) that they even committed the offense that hurt you so deeply. This is common in cases of molestation.

This brings up a good point. I have worked with people who were molested in their younger years and now as adults request help and healing so they can get on with their lives. In some instances the perpetrator is deceased. Forgiveness is a key element in our ability to move beyond our pain. But how on earth can we possibly forgive the perpetrator if we have no ability to get restitution?  The fact is God does not make restitution a condition of our ability to forgive. The choice to begin the forgiveness journey resides in the decision you make between God and yourself.

Ephesians 5:1 tells us to “be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us….” We are called to be imitators of God. We are called to extend ourselves beyond our own understanding, beyond our own emotional hurts, and behave in ways that will edify one another and grow our marriages.

Sometimes moving beyond the pain of the past is not directly related to your relationship with your spouse. The pain can come from much further back in your life experiences. The problem with unresolved forgiveness is that it creates a root of dysfunction that infiltrates the garden of your marital relationship. In such cases it would be beneficial to secure the services of a christian counselor in your area. A great resource is http://www.aacc.net (The American Association of Christian Counselors) Remember, your obligation is to bring your BEST self to your relationship. Be blessed!

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Emotions, Forgiveness, Misconceptions, Restitution, Restoration

Why Forgiveness? (Part II): The Misconceptions of Forgiveness

letting go

You have probably asked yourself, “How many times am I supposed to forgive that knothead? It seems like they just keep repeating the same things that cause me so much pain.” Granted, that statement may well define exactly how you feel right now. Your emotions may be stretched tight, and you might not care for the answer. I present it to you with no regrets since the answer is not really mine. Look up Matthew 18:21-22. What does it tell you about forgiveness? The message is pretty clear. Peter had a set number of times in his head before he would be justified in cutting off someone he considered his enemy. Jesus tells Peter that, unlike what the spiritual leaders of the day taught, our forgiveness should be infinite. This is not to say there aren’t times when we should set boundaries to eliminate repeated intentional hurts by another.

You see, in those days the people were taught by the spiritual leaders that those who offend should be forgiven only three times. Jesus tells Peter to have a heart of perpetual forgiveness. Part of the problem people have with forgiveness lies in the messages we are often taught growing up such as, “You need to forgive and forget,” or “Forgiveness is complete when things are made right.”

Some of us believe it is necessary to forget the damage done to us once we have forgiven. We think that otherwise true forgiveness is not possible. Think of forgiveness as a journey that begins with the decision to take the trip. We must decide to move along the path of holiness toward emotional healing from the pain inflicted. Once we decide to forgive it does not mean the emotional damage will simply disappear. At times you may remember the incident that caused the pain, but that does not mean you haven’t forgiven. The remembrance just means the pain has not yet gone away. It may be necessary to give it back to God so that you do not dwell on that pain. It may take some time for your emotional healing to catch up to your spiritual decision, depending on the degree of the damage, but remind yourself that you have decided to forgive and that God will give you the strength to move forward.

In my last post I asked you to consider who you might need to forgive. What prevents you from laying it at the foot of the cross? God calls us to forgive, not because he condones or takes lightly the wrong that has been perpetrated against you, but because He knows the pain and the anguish unforgiveness creates in a person. It prevents you from being the person that God created you to be. I encourage you, take the first step; decide to forgive. Then let God walk alongside you in your journey of healing. You don’t have to do it alone.

I will conclude my posts in this series on forgiveness by focusing on moving beyond the pain…

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Beliefs, Emotions, Forgiveness, Misconceptions, Restoration

Why Forgiveness? (Part I): The Command to Forgive

forgiveness 3

My next series, “Why Forgiveness?,  is a difficult topic for many, primarily because it’s a topic we don’t often understand.  I will spend my next three posts shedding some light on this subject that cuts deep to our soul and well-being.

In the Lord’s Prayer, a model for praying given to the disciples by Jesus, we read,

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…  Matthew 6:12

This is a command to forgive those who have wronged us as we have been forgiven by God for our own transgressions.  As we go further in that same chapter, we read,

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins.  Matthew 6:14-15

Why does Jesus make such a definitive statement?  The primary reason lies in the fact that for us to deny forgiveness to another is arrogance on our part.  It’s as if we are denying that we too are sinners and in need of God’s forgiveness every bit as much as that other person.  How much more when you withhold forgiveness from your spouse.  God views forgiveness as a necessary element within our relationships.

We can all agree about the power anger can have over an individual.  If left unchecked it resides in us like a cancer, and some in the medical professions believe it could even be a cause of cancer, but many other issues are related to unresolved anger.

We spend much of our time despising what someone has done to us.  We spend much of the day looking for other things to add fuel to that fire in order to justify the pain caused by that anger.  Anger takes a firm root and grows. It seeps into other areas of our lives as well, affecting our general disposition.  We can become a bear to be around. You see, the problem is that anger envelops our heart and we become a bitter person. It is imperative to forgive because if not we become stuck and unable to move forward in our lives. Essentially we give control to the offending person for our behavior. Do you really want to give that much control to someone who has already hurt you so deeply? Certainly not!

 Forgiveness is a way for you to acknowledge what has happened, relinquish the power of the anger and hurt, and move forward.

As you read through this brief post who came to your mind?  Who do you need to forgive?  More in my next post as we examine some of the misconceptions about forgiveness…

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. 

 

 

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Filed under Emotions, Forgiveness, Misconceptions, Restoration, Self-Talk

A Valentine of Hope – The Power of Restoration

relationship repair

Whenever someone experiences car trouble, one of two things must occur. First, if you have been blessed with a mechanical aptitude, you will pop the hood and do a step-by-step analysis to determine the problem, then repair accordingly. Second, if you fall into the category of people of which I am a member, you will call your mechanic to have them take a look at the situation.  The experts will evaluate and diagnose the problem and make any repairs necessary to your car, hopefully putting it back into the state prior to the breakdown. Marriage is very much the same way. When things start to break down it becomes necessary to evaluate and repair the relationship. The great thing is that if both spouses are willing to put forth the effort, complete reparation is possible. We need to remind ourselves of what kind of God we serve. He is the God of miracles. He is also a healing God, and a God of restoration.

In the book of Amos, Israel is being punished for falling into sin, and the house of David has fallen. God had made a covenant with David, stating that one of his descendants would always sit on the throne. In Amos 9:11, God declares, “I will restore David’s fallen tent, I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and will rebuild it as it used to be….” You and your spouse have also made a covenant with that same God. If you will allow him to lead, he will take your marriage on a journey of restoration like you never thought possible. But remember, it will be necessary for you to slide over and let God take the wheel.

Depending on the state of your current relationship, what will be necessary for you to put forth the effort required to enhance your marriage? Have you communicated those needs? It may be necessary to bring in a third professional party. Would you be willing to allow a mediator to input some suggestions to move your relationship forward? What are you willing to do? Do you trust that God can restore your marriage? Why/Why not?

Valentine’s Day is about stepping outside of yourself and honoring the other.  Don’t just say it with flowers, that’s a cheap effort when we are experiencing marital problems.  Invest in your relationship and the flowers next year will smell sweeter and have far more meaning.  Be blessed!

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted

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Filed under Communication, Restoration