Whenever I counsel couples considering divorce, I always start by asking them this question: What kind of relationship did your parents have? Children whose parents divorce are far more likely to do so themselves—in fact, men whose parents are no longer married are 35 percent more likely to divorce, and for women the likelihood is a startling 60 percent. Sometimes in order to heal our broken relationships, we have to look back at the relationships in our past.
After months of intense stress at my job, as well as a busy season with family and ministry, I was exhausted—and more than just physically. Reflecting on the prior six months, I realized that, although I had tried to be consistent in my work ethic, I didn’t consistently take time to rest. Responsibility is an important part of life, but disorder sets in when responsibilities become the chain holding us captive to self-reliance.
Near the epic conclusion of Tolkien’s Return of the King, Frodo stands on the threshold of destroying the “One Ring of Power.” All he has to do is throw it into the consuming fires of Mount Doom. But the hobbit can’t do it. He holds on to the ring, powerless to let go despite the ring’s destructive power.
Poet Carl Sandburg has said, “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” This thought rings true for many of us. Despite the diapers, frequent feedings, and sleepless nights, infants give renewed hope for the future.
The Netflix documentary David and Me tells the story of David McCallum, who in 1986, at only age sixteen, was convicted of murder. But McCallum claimed he was pressured to confess to the crime. And in 2014, DNA tests and forensic analysis on the stolen car revealed that McCallum was innocent. David had spent nearly thirty years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Although God’s unconditional love is the foundation of faith in Jesus, really believing in unearned love isn’t easy. As Dale Ryan, CEO of Christian Recovery International, points out, even jokes depicting St. Peter’s questions at the “pearly gates” reveal an assumption that God’s love is extended based on our beliefs.
After a failure, shame can cling to us like the smell of rancid garbage. Perhaps at the end of the day we look back at what happened and hang our heads with regret. That conversation with a friend when we talked too much about ourselves. That underhanded dig. That time we lost our temper with someone we were supposed to be caring for. We’ve done wrong, and we’re ashamed.
I felt like quitting. I’d given all I had, and it wasn’t enough. I’d failed, and I didn’t feel like trying again. I wanted to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and sleep until forever. How could I possibly keep going?
When the school year ended in 2016, I stayed in town (three hours from home) for an internship, while my college friends left for the summer. I loved the internship, but because it was part-time, I found myself spending long hours alone in my apartment. Throughout the summer, I faced intense feelings of loneliness. One day I finally dropped to the floor in tears, asking God why He was allowing me to feel so despondent.
It’s easy to downplay how traumatic a broken heart can be. But the reality is that being rejected by another person can have a profoundly negative impact on the well-being of a person. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology states that in the two months following a breakup, 40 percent of those affected are clinically depressed, and 12 percent moderately or severely so. When we’re rejected, it’s hard not to feel unimportant and unloved.
When the radio station I worked for relocated, I was suddenly out of a job. Although qualified as a teacher, hosting radio shows had felt like a better fit and it was all I’d done since graduating. When I couldn’t find employment back on-air, however, I returned to the classroom. It was difficult. I felt out of my depth, and the experience humbled me. But although the adjustment was challenging, I’m convinced the skills I gained in the classroom prepared me for my next job—back in radio with a national broadcaster.
Every religion has its places of worship—places that are considered sacred. In the Old Testament, we read of three festivals for worshiping God at the temple in Jerusalem each year (Deuteronomy 16:16).
In the book You and Me Together, Francis Chan writes, “The problem many couples [have] is that they spend a lot of time looking at themselves and each other, but very little time staring at God.” These words point us to the importance of placing our focus on Him.
There I was, shaking hands with the president of the Republic of Iceland! As my boss introduced me to him at a private dinner I had the privilege to attend, my mind went blank as I tried to remember the few words I’d memorized in Icelandic. It made me incredibly nervous to be in the presence of the leader of a country.
When our pastor was a young man, he accidentally defaced a much-loved dining room table. Beautifully crafted, it had been in the family for generations, but it was left with an ugly mark when he accidentally placed a piping-hot dish directly on it. Although his parents forgave him, he was overcome with shame. Years later when he saw an ad for a furniture repair specialist, he got the table fixed. Although he’d been forgiven, the sting of shame only faded once the mark on the table had been removed by the skillful hand of a master.