“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
One of the biggest obstacles to living the life God has planned for us is distorted thinking.
This can affect every aspect of our lives. It’s destructive to our relationships, especially our marriages.
I got some great insights on this from author Mitch Temple‘s book The Marriage Turnaround.
Mitch tackles myths and attitudes that destroy marriages, and ALL relationships, by affecting our thinking and gnawing away at intimacy and affection from the inside.
He talks about something he calls relationship nearsightedness, based on 2 Peter 1:5-9, and a great chapter called “I Shouldn’t Have To Ask,” both of which I’ll cover more deeply in a future post.
One of the things this book does a great job with is identifying, deconstructing and debunking some of the myths and lies we’ve somehow come to believe about ourselves and others.
In a hope filled chapter entitled, “Attitudes Don’t Really Count,” Mitch includes a list of common distorted thoughts, some of which may sound familiar:
• It’s easier to avoid the problem than to deal with the conflict
• What has happened in the past will determine the future
• Things always turn out this way
• I must be approved and loved by all people
• If things don’t go the way I expect them to, then it’s catastrophic
• If I make a mistake, it means I am incompetent and that I’m inferior to others
• You always act this way
• You never treat me the way I deserve to be treated
• You should always feel, or act, a certain way
• We should never have conflict
• You should meet all my needs
If any of these jump out at you, as thoughts you or someone you know struggles with, I strongly recommend reading this book.
The author explains how distorted thinking can lay “ruts” in our minds. We’re creatures of habit who tend to follow the same patterns of interactions and reactions, particularly under stress.
“When you and your spouse disagree. . .or get hurt. . .or become frustrated. . .or reach an impasse. . .the easiest thing to do is what you have always done.”
Temple shares some of his own failings and weaknesses, along with real life examples from friends and acquaintances, to help us overcome this distorted thinking that has such a detrimental effect on our relationships.
The chapter closes with the important reminder that, “Spending time with Jesus can have a huge effect on our thinking, attitudes and behavior.”
WISDOM KEY: Distorted thinking destroys! How and what we think really matters. Attitudes count. Identifying and overcoming these thoughts is absolutely vital to our emotional health and the well being of all our relationships.
Editor’s note: Over the past few years, I’ve read about a hundred books, many of them on the topic of marriage and family relationships. I am hoping to share with you some of the wisdom keys I’ve pulled from these books in a series I’m calling, Off The Shelf. The goal is to make these pieces powerful, insightful, and quickly digestible. I truly hope they’re helpful to you or someone you know.
One way grace.
There’s a lot of it in our world.
I’m talking about when we say, “I deserve a pass when I mess up,” then want to throw the book at everyone else.
Did you know that Jesus actually said that the standard we use with others, is the one that will be used on us?
“For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”
– Matthew 7:2
This has radically changed the way I live my life.
When I began to really listen to the Holy Spirit and acknowledge the shortcomings in my life, I had no time to worry about the speck in their eye. I was busy working on the 2×4 sticking out of mine.
It’s not hard to tell that there is a lot wrong with the world. Sometimes, that makes it tough to live with the joy that the Bible tells us to live with.
We can easily forget what God has done for us, is currently doing, and what God has in store for us in the future.
The other day I was listening to an album by hip-hop artist J. Cole. One of the tracks was a skit in which he described the day that he got signed. He got the news via text message while driving in the car with his friends. He was so excited that he was finally going to get paid and be famous; a reward for his hard work. Moments later he got pulled over for driving with a suspended license in an unregistered and uninsured car that he had been driving for months.
Perfect timing, right?
He described that night in prison as the easiest time anyone could ever do. All he could think about was the new life he was about to live.
Although, to my knowledge, J. Cole doesn’t profess a relationship with Jesus, we can learn spiritual truths from that story.
Whatever we’re going through right now, whatever pain or trouble we endure in this world, we can take heart because of the HOPE we have in Jesus.
A few people in the Bible come to mind. First I am reminded of Job, whose troubles were much greater than a night in prison. Still he was quoted in Job 2:10 for saying “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job was well aware of the goodness of God. And for good reason as he was given back twice as much as he had lost.
Another man that comes to mind is Paul. He too suffered greatly, and his attitude is greatly admired. In Philippians 3:8 he says “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”
He describes knowing Christ as having a surpassing worth. The definition of surpassing is incomparable or outstanding.
All the things that the world considers “gains” are described as garbage compared to Christ.
People who collect garbage are thought of as second class citizens, scraping the bottom of society’s barrel. When I see someone who is collecting cans, I see them as unfortunate, and feel bad for them.
But even the “gains” of this world are being compared to garbage! We put a much bigger value on them than they really have. Our expectations of earthly wealth and success to satisfy, only leads us to disappointment.
Instead, let’s look ahead to the greater glory that awaits us.
If we were truly focused on Christ, and the hope we have in Him, we would be living happier than J. Cole in prison the night he got signed.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:17
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How patient has God been with us?
How many times have we betrayed him with our words, our actions, our disobedience, our broken promises, our lack of trust.
If you read the book of Hosea, you’ll see the story of a man who loves his wife despite her unfaithfulness that broke his heart. In many ways it’s a picture of what what we do to God.
He considers our rejection to be spiritual adultery. It grieves God.
Yet, like Hosea, He continues to love us. With an unfailing love.
As Dr. Henry Blackaby puts it in his book, Being Still With God Every Day, “When we stray from Him, He lovingly and relentlessly pursues us. How marvelous to know that even though we may turn our back on God, He never gives up on us.”
Today’s SOTD by The Afters sings of a love like that. One that doesn’t give up. A love like that demonstrated by the father in Luke 15, who waits with open arms….