by Dick Duerksen
Dad wanted to go to Krispy Kreme, but we couldn’t find one in Key West. Or on No Name Key. Or even on Key Largo. So, we settled on a great-looking store that promised “outdoor gear,” and an opportunity to see Hemingway’s boat. Not quite donuts, but at least better than another hour going 42 mph behind that guy in the motor home.
The store’s advertising was nearly true. Hemingway’s boat turned out to be “almost exactly the same as the one Hemingway had made after fishing (probably) in this one.” OK. I can handle that, and it was fun to climb the stairs to the wheelhouse. Several signs caught my eye on the way up.
“Do not sit here.” “Do not touch.” “Do not go any further.”
Dad and I “did not,” and then walked down from the boat, back into the racks of shirts, shorts, rods, reels, and hats. We didn’t try any on, because a sign warned, “Do not try on without a clerk.” So, rather than stand, sit, try on, peer into, or otherwise disobey the signs, we gave up. It was just too hard keeping track of all the things we MUST NOT DO! As we walked back to the van, Dad said, “Guess we went to the
Do Not Shop after all!”
Some folks feel that God is like who ever owns that outdoor shop—heavy on the “Do not’s!” and strong on the “watching.” They skim through the Bible and get caught on the wording of the Ten Commandments. “Thou shalt not!,” they hear Him screaming. Funny, but even if they’re not stealing anything, they feel guilty when they read the stealing commandment. And covet? That commandment is enough to make you skip all the ads in Sports Illustrated.
People who get caught on the “don’ts” are always checking for signs, and watching to see who’s watching. Guilt (earned or imputed) becomes their first name, and misery their personality trait. How sad. And how unlike God’s will for us. His character is freedom, not restriction.
The Bible is filled with His voice calling for us to “DO!”
In Genesis, you’ll hear God commanding His kids to “care for, eat, tend, protect, and multiply.” In Isaiah, you’ll hear Him inviting you to “come, reason, and be changed.” In Psalms, He calls you to “sing!” In Colossians, He provides new clothes and asks us to put them on. In the Gospels, He challenges us to meekness, patience, compassion, generosity, and love—all the while calling to us to “eat.” And in Revelation, He shouts for us to “listen,” “open,” and “set another place at the table.”
No room for guilt and sign checking here. We’re far too busy eating, sharing, loving, and celebrating. We’re overwhelmed with, “loving being loved by Him!”
By the way, He’s watching. But He’s not looking for us to break a rule. He’s watching to be sure He’s right there when we need to be picked up.
Hmmmm. I wonder if He’d like to join me for my once-a-year trip to Krispy Kreme?
Do vs do not
Michele Weiner-Davis, a well-known marriage researcher and author, suggests five stages most marriages experience. In her book, The Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage, she not only describes common characteristics of marriage, but offers tips to help couples at any stage survive the challenges.
STAGE ONE OF MARRIAGE: Passion Prevails
At this stage of a relationship couples concentrate on what they have in common, and they are dominated by an intense physical desire for each other. It is at this stage that many couples decide to marry. Survival Tip: This stage will not last forever. However, when your ecstasy begins to fade, it doesn’t mean your marriage is dying. This is a common cycle.
STAGE TWO OF MARRIAGE: What Was I Thinking?
After the honeymoon period of euphoria, ecstasy, and elation, couples must get back to the mundane things of life like working, washing clothes, cooking, and paying bills. During this time each spouse notices the other isn’t all they expected. Morning breath rears its ugly head, somebody is spending too much time in the bathroom, and the dishes aren’t getting cleaned up promptly after meals. For those in second marriages, the harsh reality of coordinating a blended family sets in.
The feelings of being in a fantasy world—which is what takes place in stage one—are now gone, and the couple is at the place where they need to make decisions about the rest of their lives. During this stage, couples question their sanity at the time they decided to marry the person they now seem to be stuck with for life. Survival Tip: Be mindful of the fact that every marriage will experience conflicts and challenges, then you will be better prepared to accept what is happening to you. Stay connected by spending time together in various activities and by making a vigorous sex life a high priority.
STAGE THREE OF MARRIAGE: Everything would be great if you changed.
The next ten years usually involve husband and wife trying to change one another. When the preferred change doesn’t take place, couples often face a fork in the road and some choose divorce or have affairs. Others decide to stick it out because of religious beliefs, financial considerations, or concern for their children. Among those who stay, some resign themselves to living in unhappy marriages, while others begin looking for better ways to communicate and manage conflict. Couples who choose the latter option are the ones who are blessed, because the best of marriage is yet to be. Survival Tip: Keep in mind that every marriage has stormy periods. Engaging the help of a professional Christian counselor may be necessary at this time, as well as participating in a reputable marriage retreat. In the book The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially, research suggests that 86 percent of unhappy couples that stay together despite conflicts say they are much happier five years later (Waite and Gallagher 2000).
STAGE FOUR OF MARRIAGE: That’s just the way she or he is! This is the stage at which couples accept that they will never be on the same page about everything with their respective spouses, and will need to find ways to live in peace despite their differences. Spouses realize they must learn to forgive one another, and accept they are not easy to live with, either. Some mature to the point where they recognize marriage is like everything else in life—there is always some bad with the good or some good with the bad, and one needs to emphasize the positive. Survival Tip: Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking you have “arrived” in your relationship. Continue to nurture your marriage every day by spending time together, talking, and touching.
STAGE FIVE OF MARRIAGE: Together, at last. By the time couples get to this stage of their respective marriages they have spent quite a bit of time together making history. They have come to the place where they agree that marriage is difficult and have a sense of accomplishment because they have faced trials together and have overcome. They have a greater appreciation for the strengths of their spouse and are no longer as easily threatened by their differences. Because their children are now older and more independent, couples find more time to focus on each other and enjoy more quality time together. There is a sense they have come full circle and have learned the dance of marriage. Survival Tip: Keep yourself healthy and active so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. Remember marriage is worth fighting for each and every day.
From THE DIVORCE REMEDY by Michele Weiner Davis.
Copyright (c) 2001 by Michele Weiner Davis
Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., NY
Out of the mouth of your child you may have heard statements like these: “You dirty dog!” or “Jacob is a crybaby!”
Has your child has even used words never spoken in your house or within your hearing. You might be wondering, What is going on here?
Children learn swear words and name-calling in the same way they learn other aspects of language—by hearing it used around them. For the most part, young children don’t understand the literal meanings of swear words, but they do quickly realize from adult reactions that they have power. When trying to stop this behavior, parents and teachers often unwittingly reinforce a child’s behavior.
If your child uses swear words or is name-calling, I invite you to consider the following:
Experimenting with new words is normal.
Children are generally good recorders but are often poor interpreters, repeating words or phrases they hear without knowing the meaning. Also, some slang words are derivatives of swear words. As adults, we understand where these words originate, but a child hasn’t learned the connections yet.
For example, a child-care provider noticed a child who used swear words only when role-playing at the preschool gas station. She discovered that a gas station attendant the child knew swore all the time, and so she evidently generalized this experience and believed that all gas station attendants swear.
Ask yourself if your child is bored or frustrated. Consider that he or she may be unchallenged by an activity and is choosing to create his or her own diversions. Or is this the best way he or she knows how to get your attention?
Remember that the goal is to eliminate the offensive language, not label your child as “bad” or “sinful.”
At a time when your child is not using “naughty language,” take him or her aside and in simple terms talk about it. Tell your child why you believe the words are not acceptable. Explore and practice with him or her what can be done or said differently.
Notice when your child tends to talk this way. Is it after being with older children, or upon coming home from school, a day-care setting or someone else’s home? Talk about your concerns to other adults who interact with your child. If necessary, consider altering your child’s environment if you can.
If more than one child is involved, first focus on caring for the needs of the child who has been called a name or has been sworn at. Ignore the negative behavior of the name caller initially. It will not be helpful to shame the offensive child, especially in front of others.
Resist making a direct connection between your child’s choice of words and his or her love for Jesus, or Jesus’ love for your child.
Remember, a major goal in parenting is to help your child become responsible for his or her behavior and to respect others. This is a long journey. God sets standards before you, and then lovingly and patiently He works with you as you learn. Surely we can offer the same patience to our child.
Susan E. Murray is an associate professor of family studies who teaches behavioral science and social work at Andrews University. She is a certified family life educator and a licensed marriage and child family therapist.