Overcoming Family

I love my family.  I have two loving, supportive parents who have been married for over 40 years.  I have two older siblings, two older sibling-in-laws, a beautiful niece, and four rambunctious nephews (five, when you include my step-nephew).  We’re blessed enough to live within 20 minutes of each other - and even though we don’t see each other nearly as much as we should (given our proximity!), our family gatherings are fun, rowdy, stressful, and entertaining.  (This is where I should mention that my niece is 9, two of my nephews are 8, and the other two are 5ish.  That’s a LOT of kid energy!).

Growing up, our family dynamic was slightly different than most - I’m the youngest kid by nearly 9 years. My experience of growing up was a hybrid of being the “baby” in the family, while also feeling like the only child - since my older siblings were grown up and in college by the time I was entering 4th grade.  The glue holding us together though, were my folks.  Married young, my parents had a couple decades of marriage under the belt when I came on to the scene.  Though they certainly had their ups and downs, they stuck things out (and still do!) and I’ve witnessed their marriage grow and flourish because of it.

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How To Survive My* Divorce

Step 1:  Trust God.

 

Immediately, I fell on my knees, sought Him, and went back to church.  My sense of failure sent me there -- love, forgiveness, and restoration kept me there.

 

Step 2:  Find community.

 

Family support was key, as was friend support.  Stepping into community with fierce protectors, of me and my marriage, kept me strong.  And fighting.

 

Step 3:  Remain hopeful.  

 

I remained hopeful, first for our reconciliation.  Then, for my own restoration.

 

Step 4:  Be honest.

 

There was a period of time early on where I couldn’t share what was going on at home.  But hiding that anguish never felt healthy.  I needed to discuss how I felt to get to a new level of honesty about me, about us.

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Love Is For Losers

Love is for losers.

 

Losers fail to recognize the needs of their significant other.

Losers avoid confrontation and bury the problem.

Losers have high expectations that do not match reality.

Losers cut themselves off and figure the relationship out alone.

 

Love is for losers.

 

Losers sacrifice their needs for their significant other, placing their needs above their own.

Losers willingly tackle confrontation, even if they may be wrong.

Losers are willing to let go of their expectations, settling instead for the beauty of reality.

Losers are humble enough to seek wise council from the community around them.

 

Everyone is a loser when it comes to love.  You are either losing the relationship or losing yourself in the relationship.  I don’t know about you, but I identify with both sets of losers.  The first set of losers explains how my marriage died.  The second set of losers paints a picture of what my next relationship will be.  Either I’m seeing my wife through my own personal needs, or I am setting those needs aside to humbly meet her needs authentically.  

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Hallway Good

Marriages that fall apart seem to end in different ways. Witness the couple that argues constantly, always one upping each other with threats to leave, daring each other to end the marriage. Maybe you know a couple that deliberatly spends more time apart than together, slowly realizing that going through a divorce is an inevitable formality they will have to deal with. Or perhaps you've seen the marriage that never ends - they are honoring their vows, sure, but without a relationship or friendship they are missing the purpose behind marriage in the first place.

My marriage was more like a sucker punch to the gut. In hindsight I could see it coming but at the time of impact, it took me by surprise. It was at about the three year mark when our tension boiled over. We were the couple with the friendly facade to the world around us. Everything in our marriage was "hallway good". (You know what I mean - the typical "hallway" response when people ask how things are going). The truth is, I was assuming things were fine with our marriage, ignoring some distinct warning signs. I was doing what I do best - ignoring the problem. Things were happening that were triggering emotions in me - anger, fear, and jealousy to name a few. But my desire to maintain peace allowed me to ignore the red flags in our relationship. This denial allowed us to ignore the root of our problem. We were no longer connecting emotionally and authentically.
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Dads

There’s something about a father’s love that is pretty special.  I was reminded of it today as I spent Father’s Day Eve with my own dad hitting golf balls.  I was reminded again this evening at Church when my pastor preached on our Heavenly Father’s love for all of us.  And I was so very grateful of my earthly father’s and Heavenly Father’s love for me as I witnessed members of my church family seek out the blessings their Heavenly Father gives, that their earthly fathers were unable (or unwilling) to articulate.  

 

Our Pastor, Mike Erre (also a Conversant blogger, by the way), painted this picture from another pastor at our church:  imagine a father, sitting alongside his son or daughter, looking them in the eye and saying, “Out of all the little girls in the world, the blond ones, the brunette ones, the short ones, the tall ones, the ones that can run fast and jump high, or the ones that can’t, the ones that are serious, or silly, out of all those little girls, I would choose you.  If I had to do it over and over again, I would choose you again and again.”

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Why I Hate Statistics

Hi.  My name is Jim and I’m a statistic. 

In college, I was a good student.  I was a business major and I received mostly A's or B's in my courses.  Except in Statistics.  In Statistics, I struggled to get a C.  And that C has haunted my college GPA ever since (Ok, not really - I don't even remember my college GPA anymore!  Guess it wasn't so important after all!).  Needless to say, I hate statistics.  Besides the theoretical equations that LOOKED like math equations but WEREN'T, I learned that relying solely on statistics rarely gives you the whole picture.  People use statistics to justify horrible business decisions (see:  New Coke, Crystal Pepsi, anything Windows/PC related) or to find comfort in the safety of numbers (see:  69% of Americans have smoked weed, I should try it too!).  Rarely do statistics tell the story behind those numbers.

Well, I have become a statistic.  But I refuse to become a number.  There is a story behind my statistic and I hope to share it here.  
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Honest talk about homosexuality

Well, if there's a subject that's not dealt with very well in the church today, it's homosexuality.  But the fact is we ought to be paying much more attention to this.  In fact, many of you reading this right now are struggling with this.  This is why I'm writing specifically to you.

No doubt you're a bit confused about what to do with this, frustrated with every aspect of this issue, frightened of being rejected by those you love and maybe even angry with God because of all this.  There are times in which you wonder if it would just be easier to give in to the struggle.  Maybe you've dabbled in a relationship, maybe you've fully engaged in the lifestyle...or maybe you're seriously considering doing either.  Or, maybe you haven't engaged in a physical way with another person, but you consistently engage online with conversation and even porn sites.

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