Getting from “Me Vs. Him” to “Us”

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

If you had asked me years ago the primary ingredients for a successful relationship/marriage, I would have immediately replied love and chemistry.

Fastforward a few months after I got married, and my response would have been forgiveness, kindness, and compromise.

Yesterday Jmathis challenged us to analyze some of our relationships to see how we responded during times of tension and conflict. My biggest challenge during times of tension is to check my ego and selfishness in at the door. When I’m angry or hurt, it’s all about what he did wrong. What he said to offend me or how he acted so selfishly. It’s all about my needs and how they are unmet.

 Often the way I respond to times of conflict has nothing to do with “us.” Because when I think of us, it’s no longer just about me…it’s about how we both need to change or improve. It’s not about me being right…it’s about what both of us need to do to make this partnership successful and meaningful.

There is a reason why God described marriage as “two becoming one.” But isn’t it ironic that while we vow to uphold that tenant in marriage, it’s often the first one we break when we are hurt or upset?

Challenge yourself to look at your conflict in terms of the partnership that it really is rather than a scene out of a spaghetti Western. Rather than addressing your conflict with guns blazing like you’re at the Okay Corral, look at it terms of the way God intended marriage to be:

The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Genesis 2:23-24


Delving Into Relationship

By JMathis

We live in a web of interconnected relationships.

Relationships with significant others. Relationships with co-workers. Relationships with friends. Relationships with family.

In the unavoidability of relationships, there is conflict.

Conflict with significant others. Conflict with co-workers. Conflict with friends. Conflict with family.

With conflict comes tension, and tension demands a response.

The problem is, our tendency is to either run from giving a response (“What’s the point of working this out with him? I’m just going to shut up–again–and bury it deep down inside.”), or run too quickly to respond (“I just can’t wait to give her a piece of my mind! She is such an idiot!”).

In both cases, we fall short.

In the world’s way of responding to tension and conflict in our relationships (defensiveness, passive-aggressiveness, self-righteousness, anger and blame), we inflict upon ourselves a slow death by a million paper-cuts.

Paper cuts from significant others. Paper cuts from co-workers. Paper cuts from friends. Paper cuts from family.

If all of this bleeding is inevitable, why even bother with relationships? After all, isn’t life too short? Too short to be jabbed time and again by a million paper-cuts?

Because in relationships, there is life.

Because in relationships, there is love.

Because in relationships, there is growth.

Because in relationships, there is God.

In God’s way of responding to tension and conflict in our relationships, you still have to confront and respond to tension and conflict. After all, tension and conflict are natural by-products of living in earthly relationships.

But in God’s way of responding to tension and conflict, you confront and respond:

• without condemning

• with love and respect

• through the eyes of faith

The eyes of faith can’t see the other’s faults and weaknesses. The eyes of faith can only see what God sees. And all God sees is a child of God, worthy of love and respect, brimming with all of God’s potential and righteousness.

Delve into relationships. Delve into the tension. Delve into the conflict.

But in all things, delve in with God.

For where there is God, there is life, love and growth. For where there is God, there is relationship.

Delve in. Paper cuts and all.


When you last confronted tension and conflict in your relationship, how did you respond? In anger and blame? Or, love and respect? When you last responded to tension and conflict, was it in sorrow and repentance, or defensiveness and passive-aggressiveness? Are too many of your relationships simmering in past regrets, rather than restoration and healing? What could you have done differently in your last experience with tension and conflict?

2 Corinthians 7: 2-16 (The Message):

…Don’t think I’m finding fault with you. I told you earlier that I’m with you all the way, no matter what. I have, in fact, the greatest confidence in you. If only you knew how proud I am of you! I am overwhelmed with joy despite all our troubles…

I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don’t feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out…Now I’m glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.

And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart. And that is what I was hoping for in the first place when I wrote the letter. My primary concern was not for the one who did the wrong or even the one wronged, but for you—that you would realize and act upon the deep, deep ties between us before God. That’s what happened—and we felt just great…

Titus saw for himself that everything I had said about you was true. He can’t quit talking about it, going over again and again the story of your prompt obedience, and the dignity and sensitivity of your hospitality. He was quite overwhelmed by it all! And I couldn’t be more pleased—I’m so confident and proud of you…

During Times of Uncertainty

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

So how many of you are worried about our economy? How many of you are worried about your personal economic situation? Do you worry about retirement?  If you have children, do you worry about how you’ll send them to college? Or how you’ll afford to pay for their wedding?

I’ll admit that those are concerns of mine. Heck, I’m even bothered by the prediction that China is going to overtake the U.S. as the #1 economic power in the coming years. Why? Well, there’s the obvious…we’re the U.S. and haven’t we been #1 since…like…forever? Or for at least for my entire life. And then there’s the question as to how China will choose to wield its power and influence.

 Yes, we are undoubtedly in uncertain economic times.

 In Bible times, they didn’t call it “uncertain economic” times, nor did they call it a “depression.” They called it a famine. If the weather was bad or they had no rain or too much rain, it ruined the crops, which meant they didn’t have food to eat or food to give to their animals. Famine.

 But to them and to us, God reminds us in Jeremiah 17: 7-8 that despite our worries or our current economic climate, He can and will provide for us.

 7“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.

8He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Bear fruit in times of famine and drought? Does God not know the unemployment rate right now?  Yes, but God is still promising us that those who trust in Him will continue to be able to provide for their families.  The economy may affect us, but it doesn’t affect God. He is able to bless us despite…and in some cases…because of the economy. Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Well, that is the God we serve. Jehovah Jireh. God Our Provider.




Love Never Fails

By AbbyA

Think back to a time when you were really struggling with a particular issue.  Was it trying to lay off the hot and heavy when you were a single twenty-something?  Gosh, maybe you were getting off the partying band wagon and trying to move on to something better.  Maybe you had to leave a relationship or grow up an immature part of yourself.  Just think back to that.   Do you remember thinking to yourself and God, “Lord, when I get through this, what are we going to have to talk about?”  I do.

In reading Bindu’s post, the words Love is not rude stuck out for me.  I was thinking about how I treat my husband sometimes.  In a snappy way, telling him the truth about how I feel without any love packed around it.  Of course, I can make some excuses such as it really only happens when I am tired or sick or whatever.  But Love is not rude.  When I read Bindu’s reminder of what God is made of, I felt quieted by His spirit that reveals truth.  I can be so self-righteous about my feelings.  So snappy, so rude.

Having lost my dad about two years ago, I had the very uncomfortable opportunity to relive in my mind my entire relationship with dad.  There is this one instance when I was frustrated sort of sandwiched between the foyer closet and the front door.  My dad tried to come in the front door holding stuff and I whaled out something very rude that I am too embarrassed to write down.  Do you know how long after my dad died that I pondered in regret over that fat, ugly comment?

Love is not rude.  So, Lord, when we get past the big stuff, there is still more to talk about.  You are always making us holy.  Always showing us through your Word parts of ourself that you want to fill up with your holiness.  Lord, help me to not be rude.  Thank you for forgiving me for my rudeness in the past.  Thank you for accepting my I am sorries, and passing them onto my dad.   Thanks Lord for who you are and for who you believe I can be.  Thank you that Love Never Fails.


The Notebook

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

One of my favorite love stories is The Notebook. Okay, all you anti-chick flick chicks can now cringe, but even you must admit, rare is it that you read and/or see a book or movie where love is deeper than that initial romantic love/chemistry connection level. Most love stories these days are solely about that initial passion, chemistry, and I, a former fan of romance novels, am all for passion and chemistry…but what about love when the skin ages and age spots set in? What about love when you aren’t so love-able by the world’s standards?

 As I watched The Notebook years ago, I was reminded of what true love is. I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 13.

 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 We’ve all heard this passage recited at weddings. We may have even memorized it for Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. Or maybe it resides on a plaque in your home. But today, as you get annoyed or angry with a family member, a close friend, your spouse or significant other, meditate on that passage.

 Love is patient.

Love does not envy.

Love is not proud.

Love is not rude.

Love is not self-seeking.

Love is not easily angered. (gulp!)

Love keeps no record of wrongs. (double gulp!)

Love rejoices in truth.

Love always protects…always trusts…always perseveres.

 While this standard of love may be hard to live up to, remember that is exactly how God loves us.

Rahab is My Homegirl

By JMathis

Rahab is my homegirl.

For real.

You ask me what my favorite love story is, and I’ll give you Rahab everytime.

I know, I know. She’s not your traditional love story heroine…no glass slippers, no kiss from Prince Charming to wake her up.

Heck, even though the Bible goes out of its way to remind you each time that she’s the town whore, her story is definitely not from Pretty Woman.

And, that’s why she’s my favorite love story.

She’s a slut.

She’s a foreigner.

No Israelite was supposed to even touch her with a ten-foot pole.

After all, no one wanted to admit that they broke God’s rules to sleep with a prostitute of another race who was probably teeming with STDs.

But clearly someone did.

The Bible never even suggests that she gave up a life of whoring, or that she was ever embraced or accepted into the Israelite community.

Once an outcast, always an outcast.

No one loved her in the traditional Cinderella-sense. She never became someone’s Sleeping Beauty.

But God loved her. He truly did.

She’s mentioned by Joshua, Paul and James as the savior of the Israelite race, and Matthew specifically references her as being part of the kingly, priestly lineage that led to the birth of God’s pure, sinless, only Son–the Savior of all humankind.

God loved her. He truly did.

He wasn’t ashamed of her. He wasn’t embarrassed by her. He didn’t revise history to cut her story out of the Good Book.

God loved her. He truly did.

He loved that she didn’t know a lick about Him, but that she trusted Him anyway.

She heard one rumor about how He parted the Red Sea, and she immediately believed in Him–no questions asked. She commits treason, risks her life and acts as a spy for Him–sight unseen.

God loved her. He truly did.

In fact, I think He just melts every time He thinks of her. If He could pepper the Bible with more stories, poems and songs about her, I think He would.

We hear all the time that faith touches the heart of God. Well, I think Rahab’s faith floored Him. Made Him do a double-take. Made Him determined that all of humanity deserves a Savior–not just the Israelites.

God loved her. He truly did.

And, that’s why she’s my favorite love story.

Rahab is my homegirl.

For real.

Love Stories

By AbbyA

Mom, who is Ruth?  I realize that I have been waiting for this my entire life; that is, since the day I met Ruth in the Word.  My heart literally has been waiting for someone to ask me about my favorite book in the world.  Let alone my own little boy!  Ah, I love it.  This is my favorite love story.  I love Boaz.  I love Ruth’s proposal on the farmhouse floor in the dark at Boaz’s feet.  I love that Ruth is King David’s great-grandmother – – who I also love.  I love the gleaning – – symbolic of Ruth’s reliance on the sufficiency of God.   I love that Boaz is surprised, humbled and honored by Ruth’s love.  I love that Boaz didn’t sleep until he redeemed Ruth.  I love the seven months that it took Ruth and Boaz to fall in love.  (That’s my calculation – Ruth 2:23).  I love that seven is God’s perfect number and it is hidden in this love story.  Yes, I love this book and I will say it again that I love this book.

Why do I share my madness over this book with you?  There are so many reasons.  First, it’s His Word. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1.  He took His invisible self and, through His people, He crafted a book of evidence of Himself.  He described Himself and revealed His heart through every word, story and life put in His ink.  He is able to expose His own death and life without any regrets or rewrites or edits.  Because there is no shame in His revealing.  No mistakes to explain.  No forgiveness to ask for.  Every word He has written was meant to express His love for you and His worthiness to receive our love.  God is love.  1  John 4: 8. The Word is His love letter to you.  And, it is written in Perfection.

Why do I share my madness over the book of Ruth with you?  His word reveals to me who I am.  In the emptiness of my bitterness and depression, I remembered Ruth.  I remembered that I love her because she laid down on the floor in the dark to wait for her beloved to wake so she could profess her love to him.  She took a very big step in faith for her earthly husband because she first believed that she had a fully trustworthy partner in Christ.  At that time, I already had lost sight of who I was in my sadness, but through the Word, I remembered that I once rejoiced over Ruth’s story and really believed in love.  I eventually found myself making very big steps of faith to change my marriage.  Ruth is my Cinderella.  God used her to keep me humble and give me new hope at a time where I decided to lose my hope.

Why do I share my madness over the book of Ruth with you?  It’s His Word.  It is His love letter to you.  It is the map that leads you home.  It is the story of your life.  What do you love about it?   I also love Jeremiah because he tells the truth no matter what.  I love Matthew because it connects me to my Jewish heritage.  I love Revelation because I want to know the future and want to know how to judge myself.  I love Samuel because no one can deny a true “dramatic historical nonfiction.”  I love Proverbs because it makes me wise.  I love Psalms because it is the cry of my heart.  I love Paul and his New Testament letters because he claims to be nothing and is admirable in the sight of God.  I love His Word.

What do you love about it?  I love that, when my boy looks across the bed with bible in hand, and asks me who Ruth is, my heart leaps.  It leaps because I can look back at my boy with genuine excitement and tell him about my very, extremely, most favorite love story of all time.  And in my eyes, I know he can see that Christ’s love for him also is the greatest love story that was ever told.

Questions: What is your favorite love story?  Is it real, in a book or have you lived it?  Have you ever read His Word?  Do you have a favorite book of the bible?  What does it tell you about yourself?  Do you have guts to share something about yourself?  Do you have the guts to share the Word with someone close to you?

Challenge:  Jot down a verse or book of the bible every day this week.  Write a few lines about what it means to you or what it reveals about you.  Just once this week, share your truth with someone.  Love stories are worth passing.