Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Transitions 2

Hot water and Taking a bath!
Well, you would never think that this would be a transition to be made, but it is rather a big one. When we first moved into the house we are in now, it only had a shower. The Landlords generously offered to install a bathtub to the kids delight and mine as well. I love a hot bath on those sick days when my body aches all over.

The bathtub was installed months ago and a long while after that the wall was created to enclose it on one side. 2 sides had walls and one side went off into our (empty) indoor pool. It was terrifiying to give my 3 year old a bath thinking she could easily go out the back of the tub to an 8 foot drop to ceramic tile. Of course she was never left alone to bath during that time:)

The wall was finally built a few months ago, but never finished so it is just drywall and thus we are still all sitting to take a bath with no shower curtain for privacy. And me continually stressing that we will ruin the drywall before they get around to finishing it. Garrett most certainly felt this one more than the rest of us! He is the only one that prefers showers to baths:)

The other "fun" transition is the hot water. We have a water heater that is half the size of the one in the States. If I fill the tub with hot water, that is it. It takes a little more than an hour for the hot water to reheat. This heater is for laundry, dishes and bathing. It is really fun when we have several people over to spend the night:) If I am feeling yucky and want to take a bath, I really have to consider all the things that are happening in the near future to see if I can afford to be so indulgent:)

The switch to the heater looks just like a light-switch and is located inside the bathroom so several times it has accidentally been switched off when Garrett cleans the bathrooms or one of our guests is trying to figure out which switch turns on the light in the bathroom:) This usually leaves us with very cold water when we finally realize what has happened and no hope for it to heat up for hours:) Several times we have heated water on the stove to make a bath. This really make us feel like missionaries............and of course the kids start saying things about little house on the prairie.

Part of transitioning to a new culture is just realizing that some people struggle with this same stuff in our country as well. It is not unique. Another thing we try to do often is just laugh and move on, otherwise it can really make you crazy with anger. Anger just makes life difficult!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Outside the "Christian" Circle

What do you do when you struggle with feelings that lay outside the "Christian" circle? You know, there are the "acceptable" struggles that Christians will allow and you can talk about these things openly, such as addictions to food, caffeine, TV, busy-ness, and shopping. For some reason these are more acceptable than smoking, drinking, bar hopping, porn, and sex outside of marriage. Did you feel the shift? What is really the difference here? They ALL keep us in bondage. ALL addictions keep us from experiencing the FULLNESS of God. ALL addictions are gods we serve and thus break one of the 10 commandments. Why is it we okay some and not others? Why do we choose to live with any? Don't get me wrong, I struggle here too.

What about "feelings" outside of God's will that are acceptable and not acceptable. Here again, we tend to accept being dissatisfied with what we have and wanting better and nicer things. We work hard to get better and nicer things when the "old" things are fine, we simply get "tired" of them. Have you ever remodeled your kitchen just because it was outdated? We justify our consumerism by saying,"I work hard, I deserve it." Our friends say,"Wow, it looks great, it was about time."

Let's take that to the family, especially the marriage relationship. What happens when you get "tired" of them? This principle no longer applies does it? Of course not, but what happens when it becomes a feeling you begin to really struggle with? When your feelings become "taboo" and you no longer feel you can share them with your friends because they are SO wrong. This is exactly when satan jumps at his opportunity to isolate us and attack like crazy. When we choose to struggle alone, satan gets his foothold and we will have an intense struggle that only escalates and gets stronger. It is amazing how he can get our mind to work against us.

The problem here is not the struggle with thoughts, feelings, and desires that are outside of God's will. The problem is not recognizing it for what it is: temptation! It comes in all forms and can last quite a while. It sneaks into our lives before we are even aware it is there. It often comes upon us as we sit back totally unaware it is happening because we are so tightly wrapped up in it emotionally. Plus ,the guilt can be overwhelming.

I was surprised with a tactic Satan used in my life quite recently to try and lure me away from contentment with my family.........

As a woman and someone who loves the Lord and wants to draw closer to him, I am not really allured by sexy looking men. Men are men and they seem to all want one thing and one thing But a Godly man, now that is a different thing entirely. There is just something about a man who has a passion for Christ. A man with single mindedness in obedience to him. You just can't help but be drawn into someone who is so Christ-like. Christ is alluring and seeing Christ in someone is alluring as well. I met someone like that here in Lithuania. Watching him speak and seeing his passion for God and for his family and his devotion to his wife made me admire him so much!

It wasn't long though before that admiration turned sour and it became jealousy of his wife and discontentment with my family...I even began to wonder if I had some crazy feelings for him. Wanting to be around him must mean something intimate right? Well, no! It doesn't, but Satan can twist anything like friendship into something aweful and outside of God's will and then try to lure you into it. I wrestled with these feeling alone becuase I could not recon with them. What was going on? The rational side of my brain reasoned and made sense, but the fantasy side seemed to be winning me over. I began to allow thoughts to taunt me. Things like, "If only I had that kind of husband....wouldn't everything be better." Reason told me that I had the very best husband and things were fine right now, but even then the fight inside continued.

I am educated enough to know about the "grass being green on the other side". It was just so nice to believe there was a perfect man out there somewhere. Someone who loved their wife and never looked at another woman or was unfaithful in anyway........ Part of it was fun to get lost in non-reality. Moving to another country and becoming missionaries had quite possibly been a strain too much to handle and getting lost in the fantasy world was a great escape, but was quickly becoming a dangerous one. I was really aware where these kind of thoughts could lead and I was not about to be another statistic of a marriage that collapses. It was time to fight this like the battle that it was and stop letting the "feel good" emotions rule my mind. Which was a very alluring thing to do, by the way. Take EVERY thought captive and turn it to God, force it into submission before the Lord. I had to remind myself daily that my ultimate goal is to please him! And I knew discontentment was not going to do it.

Now, when I began to think, "Why can't my husband be more like....." I would remind myself about all the good things my husband was doing currently. There were plenty of things to think about too. I also began to change my thinking when I saw my friend. He was more like a little brother that I was so proud of. When you think this way it is hard to go in the wrong direction from there.......

Even though my thinking never went into the direction of having an affair, my thoughts were still used in attempt to destroy me and my family. Discontentment was key for me and getting my eyes off of what I have and coveting what I didn't have was my struggle. It was the most bizarre experience to really really want to stay in that fantasy world even when I knew it was doing so much harm to me and, in turn, to the way I felt about and treated my family. I couldn't believe how strong the pull was to continue down that path. I never longed to stop the trot down the path to certain death. I even knew what laid at the end and it didn't seem to matter. I finally made the decision to choose to follow the truths that I had read in the Bible and had seen played out in so many lives before me. I have seen the outcome of following the emotional self and it has never been a good one. Why would it be any different for me now? It wouldn't. It was going to be a battle now of determination. Part of that was to reveal myself to another sister in Christ. Which is exactly where I started. It was amazing how that one act of confessing to my best girlfriend took the power out of Satan's grasp in my thought life.......he no longer had the "secret" power to toy with my thoughts. It was out in the open and I had some accountability. Ultimately, that was all I needed to get things going back in the right direction.

I feel so ridiculous for having had a battle like this, but hey, I suppose there is nothing new under the sun is there? I am happy to say that I am back on track and remembering to love my family, especially my husband, for who they are. I am remembering how special they are and how God selected them especially for me and me for them.