Choices

Building Healthier RelationshipsPremium Content

Hang my locket around your neck; wear my ring on your finger. Love is invincible facing danger and death. Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. The fire of love stops at nothing - it sweeps everything before it. Song of Solomon 8:6 Msg

My journey into the mystery of love B.C. (Before Christ) was fraught with rejection, repeated failure, pain, nagging doubts, confusion, dashed hopes, withdrawal, shattered dreams and broken relationships. I even at times explored in my mind the so-called benefits of the life of a recluse; which my twin brother actually chose.

I made a multitude of mistakes while attempting to re-build significant and lasting relationships. At that point, enduring joy and peace were not on my relational radar! Dys-function and Dys-grace were a more common theme in my relational reality. Patient trial and error became non-negotiable in my journey toward hope-filled, healthier relationships.

But as the mystery of the love discovered in Christ has been unveiled within my inquisitive soul, I have taken the bait again and encountered myself risking and unmasking! Slowly and surely, the rewards of function and grace have provided impetus for timid, albeit safer forward motion relationally. Over the course of forty plus years I am experiencing more and more relational success.

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When Recovery from Homosexuality Does Not WorkPremium Content

Over the past decade, I have read many of your stories. Accounts of long and frustrating months, often years, in “gay recovery” groups accompanied by a severe and deep loneliness that grew steadily stronger instead of weaker. You close many of your testimonies with "I have learned to accept myself as gay, I know God loves me, and I am finally being true to myself."

I have not shared this before but, for a period of time, I very seriously considered joining your efforts. You had my attention and you had my respect. You see, your testimonies almost convinced me that I had chosen to run a doomed race. But there was one common claim in your media that just would not sit right with me; the statement it didn’t work. I needed to find out what it was and how it had failed you.

Was it the day in the park when you watched a young couple kissing and cuddling on a blanket and you could no longer rationalize the self-denial?

Perhaps you determined screw it the day your church made you feel more like a project than a Christian brother or sister.

Or could it have been that one evening, when you just needed someone to talk to and the only person who offered to come right over was Kirk, the guy you sometimes chatted with on gay.com and who is now your current partner?

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Life Doesn't Have a "Re-do" Button

All our steps are ordered by the Lord;
how then can we understand our own ways?
Proverbs 20:24 NRSV

Over Christmas break, the son of one of my fellow teachers was killed in an auto accident. Both of his parents work for our school district and are loving, wonderful people. Their younger daughter was in one of the plays I helped with. It was a devastating loss for our small community.

When it happened, I tried to get my head around it. Oh, not the fact that such a young person had died and the reason for it, but rather simply that it had happened at all. I began to think about games, in particular computer games, and the ability to "redo" a game when the outcome wasn't what I wanted (in effect, when I lost). I began to wonder if his parents wished that they could "redo" those few hours before he died, keeping him at their home rather than allowing him to drive several hours to his house and subsequently dying.

I think that all of us, at one time or another and for one reason or another, wished that life had a "redo" button, wished that we could relive a certain situation in order to change the outcome. When Proverbs speaks of the Lord ordering our ways, some in the Christian community would see this as confirmation that God has predetermined everything that happens to us and that we don't have free will. I personally don't agree with that view. But what I see this as is the Old Testament version of Romans 8:28:

And we know that God causes everything to work together" for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (NLT)

Matthew Henry writes:

Recovery: Practice, Practice, Practice

When I was in kindergarten, I took dance class, with emphasis on ballet and tap. At least once a week, I attended these classes, held in Mrs. Taylor's basement. My strongest memories were the gigantic black bow pinning the back of her bun hairstyle and the 45 records we were given to practice our routines. I especially remember "Alley Cat" and "Practice, Practice, Practice." I spent hours in my tap shoes, striving for improvement on a square piece of plywood. After a while, I grew to dislike that song immensely. "Practice," after all, was tedious, boring and frustrating.

Little did I know, however, so often, would life be as well.

According to the famous myth, the character of Sisyphus was condemned to an eternity of hard labor. For a crime against the gods, his assignment was to roll a great boulder to the top of a hill. Each time he completed this task, requiring tremendous effort, reaching the summit, the boulder rolled back downhill again.

Tedious, boring and frustrating...

I recently came across this famous Margaret Thatcher quote:

Do You Embrace Everything that is Permissible?

In the past two weeks, I've become aware of two pastors (same denomination, different churches) who are wallowing in self-pity and self-indulgence. Both claim depression and overwhelming personal pain. One used the term "burned out." A Christian who is "burned out?" Who cannot go on in ministry or service for the Lord? Oh . . . my . . . goodness!

On the one hand, I'm angry at these brothers. How dare they, as servants of the Lord and leaders within the Church, be so self-centered as to put their own desires ahead of the desires of the Lord? And, on the other hand, I'm filled with pity for these men who are so deluded in their beliefs that they can justify "crises of faith," doubt as it were, without feeling the least tinge of remorse or fear of God's judgment. (And if they are fearful, not fearful enough to turn back to the narrow path.)

"Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything. "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"--but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13

At the Pleasure of the Savior (A Big Recovery Key)

One of my favorite series I catch on Netflix is "The West Wing." While watching it, I became aware of a standard response regarding the president's staff: "I serve at the pleasure of the President." I don't know if this response really exists or if it was just for dramatic purposes. But I started thinking about the service issue.

When I was thirteen, I served as a waitress for my cousin's wedding. Thank you. Yes, I'm still recovering. Let's just say I was not skilled. I tried not to spill food, break plates and grumble. It was not an easy feat. So, I had a negative view of serving.

But, alas, it's all over the place in Christianity, isn't it?

Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name." Deuteronomy 6:13

"...what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul," Deuteronomy 10:12

"If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour." John 12:26

How To Stay Faithful In Your MarriagePremium Content

Did you know that our thoughts and beliefs become actions over time? The more we think about being with other people outside of our marriage, the more these thoughts will become our actions. Knowing this then, the first step to conquer infidelity is not to have the desires within our mind in the first place. Easier said than done? Not really.

We desire others sexually because we have been conditioned into believing its ok to do so – it's a mindset. We have been trained to desire others sexually at a young age, and we have been conditioned into believing it's ok to look at scantily dressed women and men. Our conscience may even tell us that it's wrong to actually commit the act of sex outside of marriage, but does our conscience tell us that the desire is wrong?

The bible definitely lets us know that desiring others sexually is wrong because it leads to sin, so then what is the problem? The problem is we aren't going to the root of the problem. The root of sexual lust is in how we think towards human beings. So then to stop the desire we only have to change the way we think about others. Are we really respecting others in the way that Christ has taught us to? If we truly respect another person then we should have the attitude to not think about desiring them lustfully and disrespecting them in any way.

You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love you neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:13-14

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"Fat" or "Beautiful" ?

I recently caught a documentary on sex symbol Bettie Page. In it, the withdrawn, elderly phenomenon recounted her entire life, including her racy photographs and films which catered to bondage, nudity and fetish culture.

According to Ms. Page's commentary, she initially tried the conventional methods first. However, the well- known Ford modeling agency rejected her. Founder Eileen Ford, herself, flat out told Bette she was too short and "too hippy."

So, Bettie turned to the more controversial avenue, which subsequently launched her into being the pop culture icon she is today.

And, due to her influence, there are numerous photos flooding the internet, with captions including, "Today, we'd call her fat."

It's makes for a strong body image message. Indeed, looking at her image, what is our response? Do we think she's fat?

Likewise, there's the legendary sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe. She was reportedly a size 12 or 14. Some even speculate she was a size 16!

Again, when we see her, when we are faced with her numbers, what's our first reaction?

She's beautiful?

Distortion: What is the Size of the Scale?

Distortion. It's a major factor which drives disorder, compulsion and addiction.

And, for those of us recovering from disordered eating and negative body image issues, a crucial centerpiece of our distortion is the scale.
We are ruled by it. We step on it daily, sometimes even several times a day. I know I did, at my worst. We feel defeat or victory, depends upon what the numbers say.

And likewise, in response to this scale obsession, we've also heard many a platitude about how "Your weight is not your worth" and "You're more than a number."

It is easier heard than believed or lived.

Nevertheless, our thoughts determine the quality of our lives.

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he... Proverbs 23:7

Put simply, it's how you and I see things. And for most of us who struggle, the scale has loomed too large in our lives. We have completely lost perspective. We determine everything solely by what it says.

Recently, I acquired a dollhouse miniature scale; it's about an inch big. And looking at it, I see how insignificant it truly is. I can hold it on my index finger. But it has no power to decide my worth, my success or destiny. I could flick it into oblivion with my finger if I so choose.

When Valentine’s Day Is Difficult

“I hate Valentine’s Day. I’m divorced, and I don’t have a boyfriend.” Jenny had stopped me in the parking lot of the gym to lament her situation.

“At one time, I also dreaded Valentine’s Day but not anymore.”

Jenny raised her brows and said, “What changed?”

“Let me share with you what my mentors taught me. If I want flowers and candy, I buy them.”

She raised her brows again but said nothing.

“I don’t want to be in a restaurant at dinnertime on Valentine’s Day, but I can go out to breakfast and lunch or order dinner to go.

That made Jenny smile. I told her about the times I scheduled a massage or bought a new outfit on sale. She nodded.

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