RSS Feed

Category Archives: Marriage & Relationships

Letting Go of Regret

We all have regrets. Situations where we’d like a do-over. Maybe it’s a failed relationship, a career path you didn’t pursue, words that shouldn’t have been spoken….or words you wish you’d said. One of my biggest regrets came about 10 years ago.

Her name was Tessa.

She was my favorite professor in college and I took a number of her world religion classes. She was intelligent, stylish, seemed dismissive toward Christianity and loved to talk about her specialized topic of study…Buddhist nuns in Sri Lanka. She must have respected me as a student because right after mentioning that she no longer took students on overseas trips, she invited me to attend a conference with her in India where she would be presenting a paper, with the Dalai Lama in attendance. Unfortunately I never followed through. The semester ended and that was that.

Many months later I was praying one day and felt this overwhelming sense that I should contact Tessa. That’s all I knew…just get back in touch. I assumed at the time that God was nudging me to invite her to attend a large Christian event that was coming up in the city—which I thought she would hate—so I decided I just wasn’t going to contact her.

Not long after that, I found out that Tessa had died of cancer and had been in the hospital during the period of time I felt that urgency to contact her.

In retrospect I doubt God was trying to get me to invite her to that event. More likely He probably wanted me to contact her because He knew what she was facing and that it would be meaningful to me to see her before she died, and perhaps vice versa. Maybe He wanted to use me to communicate hope and love to her.

Does my regret sound similar to yours? Or do you have others?

Use Regret as a Catalyst
As I read through the Bible I find that even God expressed regret (see Genesis 6 & 1 Samuel 15). If God, who created us, is “allowed” to feel regret, so are we. But here’s the key…instead of wallowing in regret in the present or allowing it to paralyze our future, we can use our regrets as a catalyst to something better. How do we do that? By choosing to move forward with our life.

Paul talks of this moving forward when he says, “Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (Philippians 3:13) When we are looking ahead to the goal, to the good things to come, and when we are actively working toward that good, there isn’t much time left over to dwell on “should haves”.

Practical Suggestions For Dealing with Regret
If you find yourself dwelling on your regrets here are a few suggestions to help you move forward. Surrender your regret to God and ask Him to transform it into something good. If your regret is a result of a specific sin, turn from that sin and receive God’s forgiveness and grace. If it involves something you have done against another person, make amends as you are able. And then…just keep going. As you keep your eye on the end goal, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34)

So…
Where are you in your life right now? And what regrets have you been holding onto? Even if you are on your death bed you can choose to let go of regret and look with hope toward Jesus. I used to think often about my regret of not contacting Tessa. But one day I decided to just hand it over to God. While I would do things differently if I could go back, today I am no longer weighed down or depressed over that regret. I have moved on.

I encourage you to set aside some time this week to take inventory and make a decision to let go of the regrets that are weighing you down. Make some new goals that make your heart sing and then move forward. Life is now.

Offering True Hospitality

It is a special experience to be welcomed into a friend’s home; to be the recipient of generous hospitality. There is a difference between entertaining and hospitality. StartMarriageRight.com recently featured a series on hospitality and I loved a quote I read there. Karen Ehman wrote in her book, A Life That Says Welcome, “Entertaining puts the emphasis on you and how you can impress others. Offering hospitality puts the emphasis on others and strives to meet their physical and spiritual needs so that they feel refreshed, not impressed, when they leave your home.”

Recently my husband and I received that kind of refreshing hospitality when we stayed in France with my dear friend Heather. We arrived worn out. We had been traveling for ten days on planes, trains, by foot and through various time zones. We were weary of staying in hotels and were looking forward to going home soon. The last stop on the trip was a few days with Heather and her family. Let me tell you how we were welcomed.

We walked into her lovely home and were greeted by a warm welcome and lovely surroundings. We were given her and her husband’s room to sleep in. They insisted. As I put my luggage in “our” room I was greeted by fresh flowers, a bottle of champagne, and a box of special chocolates from the local chocolatier. A welcome present just for us to enjoy! Heather and her family were glad we were there and we could feel it.

I was extremely tired that evening so Heather offered to cancel our dinner reservations at a special restaurant and throw something together last minute for dinner instead. We ended up going to the restaurant but I was touched by Heather’s thoughtfulness and attentiveness to my needs. When I climbed into “my” lovely bed that night I was met with soft, clean smelling sheets, a warm down comforter that enveloped me, and a pillow that was so inviting it seemed perfectly made for my head. It was a great night’s sleep and I felt like we were home.

In the morning we slept in and when we awoke we were greeted with a delicious spread of freshly baked croissants and other French goodies that Heather had gone out for that morning…just so the food would be extra fresh for us. Heather washed our clothes, made us delicious home cooked meals, showed us around town, and was attentive in little and big ways. Not only was it wonderful to spend time with a dear friend, she and her family made us feel so welcome and refreshed.

1 Peter 4:9 says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” You know he wouldn’t have felt the need to write that phrase unless he knew how prone we human beings are to grumbling. Offering hospitality does take effort. In other words it costs us something. However the rewards are great, not only for us but for those we are being hospitable toward. Even giving a single cup of water to someone who is thirsty is an act of hospitality.

This week I encourage you to think about how you can offer genuine, refreshing hospitality to someone who needs it, just like my beautiful friend did for me.

With this blog post I’m participating in the Great Big Friendship Blog. It’s a simple way to express your thankfulness for a friend. To read other posts on thankfulness, or to write your own, visit www.SarahCunningham.Org.

 

Your Faith Gives Me Strength

God is the source of our strength. He has limitless strength and is strong at all times; His strength is especially showcased in our weakness. We find strength when we seek Him. But there is another important way that God brings us strength.

Through our relationships.

God created us for relationship with Himself and with others. We need to be in healthy community to thrive. When we are in godly relationship with others we strengthen one another’s faith and encourage each other to keep going.

Your Faith Encourages Me
I have a friend who has been through many intense trials and yet in the midst of illness, stress and intense relational drama she clings to God with a faith that won’t budge. Even when the situation seems insurmountable and her questions remain unanswered, she keeps running forward in faith. She keeps seeking God, keeps worshiping Him, keeps following Him. She won’t give up. Her faith strengthens my faith and it gives me more strength to keep going when I am discouraged, because I think of how she keeps going.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

Jesus paved the way and set the example for us with His persevering faith; and we encourage others as we follow His example.

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Hebrews 12:2

This Week…
+Take time to refresh a friend and spur them forward in faith!

+Even when you feel weak make a decision to keep going. God will use your faith to strengthen and encourage others.

+Be intentional about keeping your eyes on Jesus. Follow His example of joyful perseverance.

Overcoming Fear of Commitment

I am a monthly contributor for Start Marriage Right. They have lots of helpful articles addressing all facets and stages of relationships. Today my new article, Overcoming Fear of Commitment, has been posted.

Here is an Excerpt:

Two months before walking down the aisle the fear hit. What if I’m making the wrong decision? What if God has someone else for me to marry and I misunderstood? What if I wake up the day after the wedding and think I’ve made a big mistake? Have you ever played the “what if” game? If so, you know it’s a losing battle. Many of us have wrestled with fear of commitment; especially when it comes to a serious life-long commitment like marriage. So, what do we do with that fear?

To keep reading click here. Or take a look at my other articles for Start Marriage Right:

Five Marriage Lessons From A Newlywed

How To Make Your Relationship Better

Learning to Forgive When We Feel Hurt

Growing in Grace As a Mom

Posted on

Recently I had the opportunity to interview my friend Katrin about what God has been teaching her lately in life, marriage and motherhood; specifically how she is bringing her family with her on her journey with God. Below are a couple of excerpts from our time together. You can read the full article here.

Katrin speaks about learning to trust God…
Submission wasn’t easy at first, especially for someone who liked to be in control. “It was hard at first because I was so used to allowing my fear to be the source for many of my decisions. After many experiences of choosing to trust God by saying no to the fear it became easier. Then I began to ask the Holy Spirit for other areas in my life that I was allowing fear to keep me from trusting God. It’s a process of obedience and trust in who He is for me.”

And about growing in grace as a mother….
Katrin shares, “When you are in the place of saying, ‘God, use whatever You want to in my life in order to teach me’, He will do that. And for me He used my children to teach me, and He’s still using them to teach me.” A lot of what she learns from God about relationships comes through her kids. “I’m with my kids all the time, so He can be teaching me all the time. There’s benefit for them and there’s benefit for me. It goes beyond what my understanding of being a mom is. God is blossoming it into something I never knew parenting could be.”

Five Marriage Lessons From A Newlywed

I’ve been married just shy of two years and I’m about to offer you some marriage advice. I can almost guess what you might be thinking….Well, that’s sweet but what does a newlywed who is supposed to be perpetually lost on a puffy white cloud of wedded bliss truly know about being married anyway? While I will surely learn much more, a few things have clarified in my short time as a wife. Whether you have been married for two weeks or 40 years, these lessons relate to every relationship. So, please indulge this silly newlywed for a moment while I share five important lessons I have learned so far from marriage.

Lesson One: Be Willing To Get Counsel
Marriage counseling can be so important to the health of a marriage. Whether you had pre-marriage counseling or not it’s essential for both spouses to willingly acknowledge problems as they arise and to learn to work through them in a healthy way. Sometimes that means taking time to meet with a godly and trusted counselor to help you work it through. It does not mean “complain about your marriage to all your girlfriends and get their two cents.” Godly counsel will help you grow to be more like Jesus and will help you apply and live out biblical wisdom in your marriage.

Lesson Two: Learn to Communicate Well
Men are often given a hard time about being poor communicators. But the same can be true of women. We may talk more but it’s not always in a constructive manner! I am blessed that my husband is open to communicating and working through issues in a mature way. When we have a disagreement we don’t scream at each other and throw things. Rather, we talk about it and work through it together as a team. I’m open to him speaking into my life, and the same is true of him. Even if you or your spouse aren’t the best communicators, you can learn to communicate well. The first steps to learning are humbling yourself and admitting that there is room to grow in this area.

Lesson Three: Choose Respect
Because of God’s grace in helping me to become more emotionally healthy before I got married, I am able to show genuine respect to my husband. He also shows respect to me by listening to and valuing my opinions. When we are mad at each other or feeling emotionally hurt, we give the other some space and then talk it through. Many years ago my normal anger default would be to yell and say something mean-spirited. But even when I am tempted to do that now, I hold my tongue. Why? Because my husband never yells or says mean things to me so I want to show him at least the same amount of respect that he shows me. If you want to show respect for your spouse, you have to grow up. Take name-calling and spiteful behavior out of the equation. Remember, respect is a choice.

Lesson Four: Serve Your Spouse
When both people in a marriage regularly look for ways to serve the other then each person’s needs are regularly met. You and your spouse both have genuine needs. Some of those needs only God can meet. Other needs are meant to be met by your spouse. If one person is consistently giving while all the other does is constantly take, making it a one-sided experience, trouble will arise. But if both of you are regularly giving and receiving, each will have what they need from the other to be content in the marriage.

Lesson Five: Always Put Your Spouse’s Best Foot Forward in Public (and in Private!)
It’s universally awkward to hear someone say something mean or embarrassing about their spouse in public, even if they are “joking”. Often their spouse is not present but sometimes they are standing right next to them. This can only bring harm to a marriage. Make it a point to be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader…to everyone! This extends to family life as well. Compliment your spouse in front of your kids, to your extended family, to your friends. When you are alone together regularly tell your spouse how special they are. This goes a long way in showing love and respect and in bolstering your relationship to withstand difficult times.

One Size Does Not Fit All
Everyone has their own marriage experience…mine may be quite different from yours. Before I was married a friend told me, “Marriage is hard. It’s mostly working through difficult issues and every now and then you get a moment of enjoyment, but most of the time it’s hard.” Contrast that with another friend who told me, “If you feel like you have to work at marriage then you’ve married the wrong person.”

Hmm….talk about conflicting advice! While each marriage is different, I believe putting into practice the five lessons I shared with you can make every marriage happier and healthier. If you are married and haven’t already been practicing these suggestions, make a decision to begin. Even if your spouse isn’t on board yet you can start by being intentional about doing your part in making your marriage a better environment.