Limiters and Ablers

Some guys¹ look at their wife and their kids and see their jailers. They see the family they have created for themselves as limiters; people who keep them from doing what they want and being who they want to be.

It’s one of the saddest things I see in men in my city, and pretty much anywhere.²

These men see their wife, and even their kids, like weights that keep them from going as fast as they want to. For many of these men, they need these weights to protect themselves from themselves. Some of these men want to be and do things that would hurt themselves, and their families keep them from the pain. For these men, it is a misplaced anger. They should be mad at themselves for not being responsible enough to take care of themselves in a healthy way. Their anger should be self-focused because they are the problem, not their families.

Sometimes these men exist in marriages and families where the spouse and/or the kids, actually enjoy having the role of jailer. They feel an unhealthy sense of worth and authority by being an actual pain to their husband/father. They enjoy being a limiter.

I once had a friend who couldn’t go out and play basketball with his friends until he had a chore list at home done to his wife’s satisfaction. It revealed a lack of trust that he would get work done. Maybe he wouldn’t! I have no idea what was going on in my friends’ marriage, but I knew right away I never wanted to be in that kind of a relationship – I didn’t want to be that guy. I didn’t want to marry someone who would be responsible for limiting and controlling my life. It was a weird trade-off relationship, not a self-sacrificing love relationship, where the wife wanted her husband to have male friends and even be a leader among men.

The good news in all of this is that it doesn’t have to be this way. While some men look at their spouse and their kids and see their jailers – keeping them from their dreams – other men look at their spouse and their kids and see the people who make them able to live out their dreams.

Instead of being limiters, you can be an abler.

What if, instead of limiting each other in a marriage relationship, you make each other even more together than you could be apart.

The reason why this isn’t the case in so many marriages is because it’s difficult. It’s freaking easy to find a limiter to live with and then complain your way through life. It’s amazingly difficult to find someone who is so committed to you (and to be committed to them) that you actually become a better person.

The primary way to find a wife that will enable awesomeness is to look for it while you are single. I tell this to single people who are dating all the time; if you’re dating a loser, you’re going to be married to a loser, and you don’t want to be married to a loser. I say it that bluntly too, because so often single people will marry limiters just to have someone because they are so weak and scared that they marry the first loser that will say ‘I do’. They give away their dreams, in order to be happy, because the joy that fulfilled (and even only chased) dreams brings is just to difficult.

For married people, the best solution is not divorce. For married people, the best solution is not divorce. For married people, the best solution is not divorce. Are you catching this?

For married people, the solution is communication and serving. These work together because, when you are married, your primary dream is the fulfillment of the life of your spouse (this means, for example, my primary goal in life is to glorify God through the experience of life my wife enjoys). If your primary dream is something else, you lied when you got married. So quit being a liar and serve your wife because she is the only human being on earth who is willing to live with you!

Someone who is in a limiting marriage, communication and service means finding out the dreams your spouse has and then making those happen. It is not telling your spouse what you want – you want to serve your spouse. Communicate by asking questions.

This is simple. Sit down and ask, “What is the most awesome thing you want in your life?” And then listen and mentally begin to live in a way that you can help serve that dream.

Finally, if you are the limiter in a marriage, if your spouse really is limited by your sinful action and your broken need to have authority to the point that you intentionally sabotage your marriage is real. The solution is as easy as communication and serving also – but you need to repent as well. You didn’t marry your spouse because they were a loser, you married them because you saw a potential in them. So stop limiting and start serving. You’ll be amazed at what you see.

Footnotes:

¹This is happening with women also. It’s not as frequent, but I see it happening with women, yet not as often. So this isn’t a man-bashing blog. It’s about the relationships, not the genders. I could have written about people instead of men, but it’s mostly men that I see in these situations. If you need to, reverse the examples, it makes just as much sense. 

²This is a preachy post, and you can feel free to call me out on that, I’m ok with it. It’s not a rant though, because rants are angry, this is sad. It’s rant-ish, but not a good and pure and useless rant.

Besides The Bible

Besides The Bible is a book about books! It contains short reviews of 100 books that “have, should, or will create Christian culture.” Compiled by Dan Gibson, Jordan Green and John Pattison, it is a great effort at a list of 100 books that carry great influence on western evangelical Christianity. The authors have connections to the Burnside Writer’s Collective, which also gives this list a bit of a northwest-postmodern-emerging-hipster-christian feel.

It’s not a list of only Christian books. For evangelicals have lately defined themselves as much as for what they are against as what they are for. So books on atheism and evolution make the list, as they have been shapers of western evangelical culture – perhaps unintentionally!

I think one of the roles pastors have for their churches is that of being the designated reader. It is important for a pastor to be well read and to have deep understanding in order to better shepherd God’s people. If a pastor is well read, they are more able to recommend texts that will help people grow in specific areas. In  my copy I put all sorts of notations in the table of contents, for easy reference on subject matters and themes of the books.

Not everyone has an inclination to reading, and this is a great tool in that direction, so this book could help you read, without all that pesky reading. Also, it helps you sound smart at parties when you can carry on a conversation about The Shack, because who on earth is really going to read that anyways?

Here’s some notes of interest:

  • p. 5, on the Apocrypha, “…in 1534 Martin Luther was the first to place the intertestamental books into their own section between the Old and New Testaments, that he omitted two of those books (1 and 2 Esdras), or that he expressed doubt over the authenticity of Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation.”
  • p.12, on Augustine’s City of God, “…if someone made a ‘READ AUGUSTINE’S CITY OF GOD & CONFESSIONS” T-shirt, I’d be the first in line to buy one. I’d wear it while standing next to a stack of joel Osteen books if I didn’t have a family to provide for.”
  • p.18, on Datne’s The Divine Comedy, “Everyone loves a 14,000-line epic poem from the 1300s, right? …Dante discovers at the end of a long journey that he’d confused the beauty of earthly Beatrice for the greater love of God.”
  • p.24, on The Little Flowers of St. Francis, “I think it was C.S. Lewis who said that every word will end up as a synonym for either ‘better’ or ‘worse.'”
  • p.27, on Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, “Or to paraphrase G.K. Chesterson…it’s not that Calvin has been read and found wanting, but that he has been found difficult and not read.”
  • p.43, on Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, “Kierkegaard (and Fear and Trembling specifically) is worth reading as he discussed why the absurdity of faith is actually a good thing.”
  • p.156, on Coupland’s Life After God, “The final two pages of Life After God were hymns to my early-twenties ears, and the passage remains one of the most wonderful pieces of literature on faith I’ve ever read…”
  • p.180, on McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian, “What made the book stand out in a Christian publishing world filled with absolutes, rules for living, and five steps to a better prayer life, was ambiguity.”
  • p.186, on Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, “And I’ve always thought Jesus hung out with widows and tax collectors because he was showing us this is something we’re supposed to do. but Christopher Moore has challenged me on this. He’s made me think maybe Jesus hung out with these people not simply because it was a charitable thing to do, but maybe because he enjoyed their company. Maybe he spent so much time with them because they were a lot more fun.”

Furtick, Sun Stand Still

Steven Furtick is the planting pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte. It’s a fast growing charismatic styled church on the fringe of the Bible belt, most noted for it’s romping enthusiasm. The church, and Furtick’s style is elementary and simple, and frankly, not exactly deep. I know that’s an easy criticism and has an easy response – but I am tending to have a love-frustration relationship with Furtick and Elevation. I love how so many people are responding to Jesus through their ministry, and then I hear the preaching, the songs and read the books and I get frustrated because I keep saying,  “True, but not really fully true…what about this over here…”

So I read the book he wrote, Sun Stand Still: What happens when you dare to ask God for the impossible, to encourage my prayer life and to help me put words to some prayers that God and I have been having (specifically, with some incredible prayers that God is opening up for The Grove, things that I have been praying and speaking of prophetically for almost 4 years) and because it’s actually good for me. I first responded to Jesus in a pentecostal church while the preacher was railing off in tongues – so in my core, at my roots, I’m charismatic. It’s a part of me, so I need to keep going back there and remembering what I really believe about Jesus deep inside my soul.

Furtick’s book is incredibly simple and practically encouraging. He actually proposes a 2 sentence systematic theology and says it’s suffice (insert frustration here), yet demands action on the part of the reader – not degrading name it and claim it that you see so often from popular charismatics. The Sun Stands Still metaphor is based on the story of Joshua when, in battle, he asks God to extend the daylight hours so Israel and completely annihilate their enemies. You can read Joshua 10 to get the details of the story.Furtick goes allegorical with it and leads the reader to ask God for the impossible and then move into their answered prayers. It’s allegorical though, because the book does not instruct the reader to kill all their enemies 🙂

If you want to have a more vibrant faith and want help in your prayer life, this is a great book. I do have some really significant theological disagreements with some of the content, but I mean, that’s a no brainer.

Here’s some solid quotes for your encouragement:

  • p.8, “Let me ask you: does the brand of faith you live by produce the kinds of results in your life that you read about in the biblical stories of men and women of faith?”
  • p.12, “I feel for Joshua. To my mind, forty years of enduring the consequences of other people’s bad decision would be enough to derail anybody’s faith.”
  • p.30, “When you examine the lives of people who are called to do great things for God, regardless of their age, you’ll usually notice three things” *They offer God a long list of excuses. *God doesn’t seem surprised. *God doesn’t change his mind.”
  • p.33, “In a nutshell, this is the progression of Sun Stand Still faith: Seize God’s vision. Activate your faith. Make your move.”
  • p.33, “Imagine with me: How radically different would modern American youth culture be if we stopped raising our kids to survive their world and started empowering them with a vision to change it?”
  • p.54, “God likes to wet the wood before he sets it on fire. That way, everybody knows who made it burn (1 Kings 18:33-38).”
  • p.70, “Hearing from God is exhilarating…Hearing from God is terrifying…We’d all like to live in a world where God lets us do big things that require minimal risk.”
  • p.80, “The more worthwhile the reward, the more nerve-racking the risks. And before God can do an impossible work in your world, you need to let him do a deep work in your heart.”