Be – Do – Have

Last weekend, Chandra and I were having a discussion about changing our behavior.

Society (the flesh, or even possibly the enemy) thinks this way:  “If I DO this activity/task, then I will HAVE this thing/person/relationship, and I will BE happy/popular/successful.” Even most self-help books teach you to attack life from this angle: “Stop procrastinating. Think positive. Let it go. DO SOMETHING.”  DO – HAVE – BE

Here is what I have learned:  It is impossible for me to DO something that doesn’t match up with who I BE – pardon the bad grammar – I can’t be a good speaker if I’m terrified to get up in front of people; I can’t be a good husband if I believe my wife deserves better; I can’t be a good leader if I believe I have nothing worth offering to others. I might be able to fake it for awhile, but the change will not be lasting, or authentic.

The only way to truly and authentically change my behavior is to BE someone different – not just pretend – actually BE. The BE comes first!

When I was in college I read that most of us, as human beings, are not who we think we are, and we are not who others think we are – we are who we think others think we are.

I AM WHO I THINK OTHERS THINK I AM.

Think about that for a minute.  How many of us base our identity on who we think others want us to be. Whether I want to or not, I have always tried to mold myself into who I thought others thought I was supposed to be!!  And most days. . . I don’t even know who I am supposed to be; how am I supposed to know what others think I’m supposed to be?

That was true until a few years ago when I met a counselor who started teaching me about my identity in Christ.  He said, “The truest thing about you is what Christ says about you.”  And then he ran through all the truths in scripture about who I am now that Jesus has stepped between me and God, and offered me His identity IN THIS WORLD, if I would just accept it.  

Wow.  

How do I get that identity? The one and only method to change who I am BEING is to renew my mind. 

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” – Romans 12:2a (NASB)

When we become Christians we receive a new heart, but our minds were trained in the world.  We have to think differently if we want to change who we BE:

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Phillippians 4:8 (NASB)

And when we change our identity, our priorities change, too:

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33 (NASB)

So for the last 6 years I have gone to the Bible to find out what God says about me.  I have sought a relationship with Jesus and a place in His kingdom. And I have stopped focusing on the bad news in this world, and started focusing on the promises of God for my life.  And over the last 6 years I have begun (just barely) to believe in myself the way my wife and my family and my friends believe in me.  And I am starting to BE who I was meant to be, so I can DO what God has called me to do which is love others as I love myself. And now I HAVE a life and marriage I had only dreamed of having my entire life.  BE – DO – HAVE

This 224 day challenge has been a proving ground for who I am going to BE – Am I going to be selfish and demand my way? Or am I going to do what’s best for our marriage and lay myself down? Will I apologize when I am wrong; show compassion; pursue my wife when I am tired and the world has worn me down? 

Yes, some days I am going to be selfish.  And on those days my wife is the one who shows compassion and gives in.  And some days I get to be the hero who saves the day.  And it takes two people, committed to each other and to God, to make a marriage work.  Thank you, Jesus for putting Chandra and me together 25 years ago!

 

 

 

Integration

This has been a great day!  After a little intimate time this morning ūüėČ (day 91 for those that are wondering) I set off for a day alone with my God. Never before would I have had the courage to ask for a day alone when Chandra and I are on a vacation just the two of us.  But I have discovered that as a part of my healing I need this!  If I am constantly around the noise of people who need me and look to me for leadership, or even just the constant noise of society, I tend to ignore my own needs. And I, too, need time to meditate and grow and receive love from God, which only happens when I get alone with Him.  

And the enemy wants me to believe that if I take time for myself, I am being selfish, or, even worse, that the world will fall apart without me there to control it. 

Right now, my struggle is with INTEGRATION.  Everything I read, every conference I go to, all my conversations seem to be centered around integration – integration of my inner child, my poser and my TRUE self – who God wants me to be.

I have discovered in this challenge, in my healing, that I can’t be someone different than who I believe I am.  I have men that admire me, even my wife admires me (most days) – but living from my poser makes me present a different “Matt” to each one.  I am afraid of the rejection I will feel if I present my true self that God created me to be so I have built this elaborate facade of who I think they want me to be!  My wife is constantly saying how men in my life don’t really KNOW me. And she is probably right.  I have built this mask that makes me look really good, but functions as a wall so I don’t get hurt.  Now as a result, very few people really know me.  Heck I’ve been living behind that mask for so long that some days I don’t even know myself!

But God is in the process of breaking me (the old me – the false me) and integrating all those broken parts of me into the man he wants me to be in this world.  And everyone in my life will be a benefactor in the process.  I will be a better husband, a better father, a better chiropractor, and a better friend as a result of this painful season.  

Today, in my time alone, God came for me.  He sent Jesus to sit beside me on the shore of this small lake outside of town, and showed me where he has come to set me free from my old life so I could live a new life, dead to sin and alive to God! And it’s available to anyone who asks. My challenge to you is to ask for that healing so you can offer your true self to your wife, and see what he will do to your marriage in the process. 

We will post more about our weekend when we rejoin civilization next week!  For now I wish you a great holiday weekend.

“So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.”

Romans 6:11

What is wrong with YOU, MEN?

OK, first let me say this post is a little late coming.  The enemy has kept me distracted and in chaos for the last few weeks, but I have been meaning to ask you GUYS this question… What is wrong with you?  Don’t you enjoy having sex with your wives? Then why wouldn’t you want her to enjoy it so she would want more???

In my wife’s post a few weeks ago, Sexual Desire, she asked if I would speak to you MEN about this problem, which is apparently prevalent in our culture. In talking to some wives we have heard that their husbands play the Bible card and basically bully them into having sex with them, which lasts just a few minutes and leaves the husband fulfilled and her feeling, shall we say, underwhelmed and unfulfilled. Then there are other husbands who could care less about having sex at all!! (I still don’t fully understand this one.) 

Here are some tips I have gleaned over the years:

  • My wife is NOT a microwave.  It takes her WAY longer to become aroused than me.
  • My wife is NOT visual near as much as she is VERBAL.  I have to TALK to her if I want her to become aroused. That includes LISTENING WELL.
  • My wife likes it when I am CLEAN and SMELL GOOD.
  • My wife likes it when I DATE HER – often! (at least twice a month)
  • And finally, my wife ENJOYS SEX as much as I do – and when I say SEX, I mean ORGASM!!!  (and they can have MULTIPLE ORGASMS, if it’s done right!)

If she is not having an ORGASM, is it really sex?  Would you enjoy it if you didn’t have an orgasm?  Here is what another woman has to say about it:

(Borrowed from Meg Conley’s blog post “Five Reasons Your Wife Won’t Have Sex with You” at http://www.megconley.com found HERE)

It isn‚Äôt any blasted fun. Yikes. There it is. The elephant in the room. Women are more likely to want to have sex when an orgasm is involved and too often, it is not. For reasons unknown, the female orgasm has been shrouded in a cloak of mystery and unattainability. (In case you were wondering, the cloak is made of polyester and really doesn‚Äôt breathe well.) I have to lay the blame for the perpetuation of this myth at the feet of men. I believe the accepted reasoning goes something like this: ‚ÄúFemale sexuality is very different from male sexuality therefore the workings behind it must be impenetrable.‚ÄĚ (IMPENETRABLE! I am sorry. I couldn‚Äôt help myself.)

This, of course, is not true.

I had a professor that once gave the perfect description of the differences between the two sexes, ahem, “get up and go”. He said male sexual arousal and orgasm was like turning on a light. Locate the switch, turn it on, and let there be light. Mr. Professor then said female sexual arousal and orgasm was more like flying a plane. Once you get in the cock pit you have to flip switches and buttons in the right sequence in order to prepare for takeoff. The process is slightly more involved and yes, you have to get a feel for it. But once you do‚Ķ holy cow, the sky is the limit. (Oh my gosh, I hope my Dad stopped reading two paragraphs ago.)

Don‚Äôt be intimidated. At any given moment most men can explain the rules behind the BCS, know what is happening under the hood of their favorite car and quote stats from sports people only care about when the Olympics comes around. You guys are capable of processing information and applying it in life. That is the only skill needed here. No magic involved. Educate yourself. Read a few books. Ask her questions. Women have been having orgasms since, you know, there were women. The how to‚Äôs are not a secret. Don‚Äôt be embarrassed. There is nothing cringe inducing about making your wife and her needs a priority. You are learning together and my goodness, could you ask for a better lesson plan? Practice makes perfect. I hate to say it. But to get good at sex you need to have a lot of sex. I know, such a burden.  

Hello again, sir. How are you doing? Did I say orgasm too many times? I am so sorry.

Orgasm.

Alright, so maybe you haven’t been at the top of your game the past few hours, days, weeks, months or, ahem, years. One of the purest joys of life is our ability to change for the better. Start now. Leave the TV off, take a break from the video games and postpone that camping trip. You have work to do and what a great work it is.

And my goodness, isn‚Äôt she worth it? Hell, yes. 

Men, here is my challenge to you for this weekend:  Talk to your wife, take her on a date, then take her to bed and give her the gift of an ORGASM.  Or at least take the time try to get her there, and she will thank you for it! And practice, practice, practice. It’s fun!

from Song of Solomon 4 in The Message:

The Woman

16 Wake up, North Wind,
    get moving, South Wind!
Breathe on my garden,
    fill the air with spice fragrance.

Oh, let my lover enter his garden!
    Yes, let him eat the fine, ripe fruits.

She loves Jesus. . . but she cusses a little

cuss a little

The other day while I was on Facebook this shirt came up in a link, and I knew I had to buy one – for my wife!  There are people who do not like that truth, but I actually love that my wife is not perfect – sometimes she cusses a little.  And she is not ashamed to admit it – God, I love that woman!

Actually WE ALL sin and fall short of God’s glory. When we cannot admit that truth, we are just lying to ourselves – and everyone else!

Over the last few years I have learned that when I can admit my sin, and be transparent, I free myself from hiding behind my shame. By sharing my BROKENNESS with others I also FREE them to be transparent with ME and stop hiding behind THEIR SHAME.

I believe even Paul was ashamed of his sin when he admitted he kept doing what he didn’t want to do (Romans 7)  And even though he sinned, was he disqualified from sharing the gospel of Jesus?  I think not. And as he goes on to explain in Romans 8:1, there is now no condemnation for our sin, available through Christ Jesus, our Savior.

I challenge you to admit your sin to someone you can trust, and see if you don’t feel the freedom that comes with confession.  And you might even get a confession back – which brings intimacy to your relationship with that other person.  

Chandra says she loves me even more when I realize I am not perfect and can confess my shame to her, and I believe the same is true when she confesses to me.  When the truth of my shame is brought into the light, the evil one and the powers of darkness no longer have control over me, and I am free! (And that freedom brings intimacy, which is needed desperately, if we are to succeed in finishing our 224-day Challenge.)

 

21-23 It happens so regularly that it‚Äôs predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God‚Äôs commands, but it‚Äôs pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

24 I‚Äôve tried everything and nothing helps. I‚Äôm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn‚Äôt that the real question?

25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

1-2 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ‚Äôs being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

                                                                                            – Romans 7:21 – 8:2 (The Message)

Fig Leaves

images

“…they suddenly felt shame…so they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves… they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees…” Genesis 3:7-8 NLT

As we are going through this challenge I am starting to see that the elaborate¬†personality (fig leaf) that I created to hide from the world is becoming less and less efficient at surviving in this marriage. ¬†What is required of me now is to offer love that I am unable to offer if I hide. ¬†And this hiding also hinders me from¬†receiving Chandra’s love! ¬†

God created me in His image, which means I was intended to reflect His glory.  But something happened to me Рeach of us, actually Рwhich caused me to realize, true or not, that there is something wrong with me Рthe me that God created to reflect His image.  So I constructed the fig leaf.  

This season is about recognizing and disentangling myself from the elaborate fig leaf so I can restore the true self that God created me to be. And the first step for me, in this challenge specifically, is to practice courage by not being passive. Which means I have to begin seducing my wife early in the day Рtelling her how beautiful she is first thing in the morning; sending her little texts throughout the day; reminding her how much I adore her.  Being intentional with these little things shows her that I am committed to this process, which somehow works in her to draw her closer to me emotionally and physically.  

Why do I say this is practicing courage? ¬†Because my go to response is to hide behind my fig leaf and not offer myself out of fear of rejection. (Isn’t that one of our greatest¬†fears, guys? ¬†For women it’s fear of abandonment, for us it’s fear of rejection.) The enemy wants me to be afraid, and not offer my self – that part of me that gives and receives love. ¬†I can put on an act that makes it look¬†like we are in love, but the only way to get to where I want to be is to drop the act, and be vulnerable – risk rejection, hurt, whatever. The¬†days that I risk, with God’s help, usually turn out to be great, and still I can’t seem to do it every day. ¬†

The days I screw up and hide, the only thing I can do is repent – to God and to my wife – and vow to do better the next day. ¬†With God’s help I am growing and getting better – I know I am. ¬†I feel stronger when I am living out of my true self, and God is taking me there one step at a time.

 

I am willing

When we began talking about this challenge, and I thought about sharing my thoughts on this blog, I was hesitant. I have never really written ANYTHING! And I am very critical of myself, always worried about what people are thinking. ¬†And because of my fear of disappointing people, I tend to hide behind a false self I created that everyone will like. And when I hide, I kill the intimacy in my marriage. And during a 224-day sex challenge, that doesn’t work very well!

God and I are working on this, and He led me to a great book on developing intimacy written by Donald Miller, Scary Close: “The whole experience makes me wonder if the time we spend trying to become somebody people will love isn’t wasted because the most powerful, most attractive person we can be is who we already are...” ¬†Wow – I’ve spent most of my life trying to become somebody people will love instead of becoming the man God intended me to be when he knit me together in my mother’s womb.

All the arguments¬†we have had since this challenge began go back to that¬†–¬†I’m¬†scared to offer my true self¬†to my wife, who loves me more than anyone else in this world! So this week, after the Restoration Conference last weekend, many more hours of discussion of her needs, and an evening alone in prayer and meditation, I vowed to myself to be willing to be the most powerful, most attractive person I can be – by being ME.

I am willing to sound dumb.

I am willing to be wrong.

I am willing to be passionate about something that isn’t perceived as cool.

I am willing to express a theory.

I am willing to admit I’m afraid.

I’m willing to contradict something I’ve said before.

I’m willing to have a knee-jerk reaction, even a wrong one.

I’m willing to apologize.

I’m perfectly willing to be perfectly human. (From Scary Close, by Donald Miller)

We are on Day 15, and I AM WILLING to offer my true self to my wife for every day of this 224-day challenge, and for the rest of my life!

 

Day 8

Day 8 is finished!  

What a week we have had:¬†We were in Colorado Springs over the weekend¬†for “Restoration of the Heart” Conference¬†with¬†John Eldredge and Dan Allender. ¬†As an alumni of Wild at Heart Boot Camp and the Advanced Boot Camp, this message was exactly what God wanted me to hear this weekend. ¬†And it was the first time Chandra and I got to experience John live, together.

But the enemy was working, too. ¬†Satan¬†doesn’t want us healed. ¬†He doesn’t want us to have more intimacy in our marriage. ¬† So he was coming up hard against us this weekend, including this challenge. ¬†I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced such a barrage of attacks against our identity or against our intimacy. ¬†

After more than a few arguments and hurt feelings, with tons of prayer and much needed communication we survived the weekend, and came out on the other side stronger, closer, and much more cognizant of where the enemy is working against us!

(And the challenge is still going, and the streak is intact!)

Keep praying for us and for the life that is available if we remain faithful to God and to one another.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.    

– John 10:10

 

A Man’s Perspective…

Hi, this is Matt.  My posts will be in italics so you can quickly decipher who wrote each post!

When we first began to discuss this challenge I was excited to get back to the sex life we had just a little over a year ago before Chandra’s ordeal began. ¬†I mean, we had already done the 30 day challenge, and it was so rewarding, both physically and emotionally, for our marriage. ¬†We came out of that challenge with a new desire for each other and the desire to maintain the intimacy we found.

As the challenge approached, I began to have some fears: Would I be able to perform?  Would she be able to stay healthy through the whole process?  Even if we avoided bad arguments, could we work our disagreements out in time to finish the day and have sex for 224 days straight? I know these fears are not from God, so each time they come up I would just have to remind myself that I just have to take each day as it comes, give it to God, and most importantly PURSUE GOD and MY WIFE.  

During our first 30 day challenge, I learned that simply by pursuing my wife and showing her how much I adored, appreciated, and WANTED her (physically/emotionally/spiritually) made me want her even more, and seemed to be the key to her seduction/arousal.  My prayer is that as this Challenge continues I will have the strength to pursue her just as God pursues us, His bride, relentlessly!

I will continue to offer my insights, my successes and my failures as we continue this Challenge.   

and take pleasure in the wife of your youth. 
19A loving doe, a graceful fawn ‚ÄĒ
let her breasts always satisfy you;
be lost in her love forever.
-Proverbs 5:18-19