Zach and Melody sat down with a look of desperation in their eyes. After prayer, I asked them to tell me what had brought them to GLI. They took about 20 minutes each, describing how their marriage was full of arguing, withdrawing, ignoring each other, and times that were calm. She was hurt and he was angry. Yet, they were hoping Jesus had an answer for them as they both really loved Him.
After hearing them out, I asked if what they described was a cycle that was repeated over and over. They both nodded their heads, yes. They went on to tell me they had been to five other Christian counselors. I asked them what those counselors told them. They replied, “We worked a lot on communication with each of them. One told us it would be good if we read the book, Love and Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs and we did. Another said we should read, Ephesians 5:21-33 to each other daily. And there was other advice which seemed to be great.”
I responded by saying, “All that you mentioned has its place and can be helpful in the correct context but let me ask you a question. Did any of those help your marriage?” They answered, “Each counselor seemed to really care, and their advice was very hopeful, but we saw a pattern with each. We couldn’t do what they suggested for very long before we fell back into our same relationship cycle. Then we would finally just give up.”
“I understand what you are saying because though your problems are certainly painful; what you’ve just shared is very common. Here’s why. What if your marriage problems are not your problem? Here’s what I mean. What if they are symptoms of an underlying problem? When we come into this world, we have God-given needs from day one. The acronym, SCALE, expresses these. They are the God-given needs for Security, Competence, Acceptance, Love, and Esteem. Because we didn’t know that only God could meet those needs, we’ve spent our entire lives attempting to meet those needs on our own. As a result, patterns of our attempts to meet these needs have become a part of how we live. You have each brought those patterns into your marriage and as a result, you have experienced conflict and frustration. These patterns are your underlying problem. It’s like an iceberg. On top of the water, it looks really big but underneath, it’s much larger and much more destructive for anything in its path. That’s what is happening with you. The symptoms you shared are real and very painful, but those patterns are the bottom of the iceberg. Those patterns are the problem. The Bible has a word for your actual problem. It’s the flesh. We often look only at the flesh as bad sins such as getting drunk, stealing or adultery. Those are flesh patterns. Yet, we can have positive, self righteous patterns that are also flesh. If you’d like help in discovering your unique version of the flesh, we can help you discover these and then God’s answer for replacing these patterns with ones that are from Jesus.
Whether your problem is marital conflict, habitual sin, boredom, anger, depression (non-biological), inability to let someone get close, trauma, grief, loneliness, etc., what if your problem is not your problem? What if it’s actually the flesh? This Scripture might shine some light on this.
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6
When our mind is operating from the lies the flesh is made of, especially when we don’t know what most of them are, we can only experience death. Death in this case means living miserably, personally and in relationships. Yet, the mind set on the Spirit, which is one set on truth, leads us to depend on Christ in us to meet our God given needs, and to express Himself through us. The fruit of this is abundant life which includes great peace.
If you are wondering if your problems are your problem, we provide counseling, coaching, events and resources that can help. Click here for our website.
Live Free in Christ,
President and Founder