When you lose it

This past week I joined the Ultimate Blog Challenge and life happened, so I missed Days 2 and 3. Today is Day 4. They offered topics on “fours,” but I didn’t like any of them, so I’m choosing instead to blog about losing it.

Image resource: Pinterest
Image resource: Pinterest

Last night I lost it with my husband Ray. Yelled and said things I shouldn’t have. Yes, me, a Christian speaker and author.

My family and friends IRL (in real life) know all too well that I’m not anywhere near perfect. Those who have heard me speak and read my books and my blog know it, too, because I’m very open about my sins and mistakes, much of which I share in my new book, Promises In The Dark. You may not know this about me and may be shocked and surprised.

Beth & Ray Jones
Beth & Ray Jones

My entire life, I’ve struggled with a temper. I hate it. I’ve prayed and prayed, begged God to take it from me, asked God to kill me so I wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore (or my family), fasted, renounced it, received deliverance and inner healing, had counseling, taken a variety of medications prescribed by doctors, walked, exercised, changed my diet….and still struggle with anger at times. 

To make things worse, Ray has a temper too. So we often butt heads. And we have children with tempers, too. It often runs in families. (Exodus 20:5, Exodus 34:6-7)

I’m not alone in this. Others who have battled a temper are Moses, Naomi, Job, Elijah, Jeremiah, Joyce Meyers, Lisa Bevere, Russell Crow, Justin Bieber, Nicolas Cage, and many women I know (yes, Christian women. Yes, we love Jesus passionately but we aren’t immune to losing it.)

Penelope Trunk, who has founded 4 startups, lives on a farm, homeschools her 2 sons, and who blogs a lot about careers, college and Generations Y and Z writes about yelling at her kids in the morning using the “F” word.

Unhappy couple
Unhappy couple

I usually lose my temper with Ray, not my kids. (And vice versa. Ray says I can push his buttons faster than anyone he’s ever met.) But I don’t want to get mad at him – or anyone. I don’t want to be known as an angry woman, or for “greasy grace”, but this is my desire:

God wants to use our mouths as channels of His life and blessing, but we will never be His prophets if we talk like the world. Let God clean up your conversation.” (J. Lee Grady, Why I Don’t Use the F-Word, www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/18379-why-i-don-t-use-the-f-word

Here’s some other things that tend to set off my temper. Do you relate?

  • people who drive slow or who drive on  my car tail
  • slow bank or grocery lines (which I always seem to get in)
  • computer problems, like my printer eating paper yesterday
  • techy issues on webinars and teleseminars (this actually happens frequently to people, because technology isn’t perfect)
  • loud noises in the morning (often Ray)
  • burned food or other strong smells (again Ray)
  • women or children being controlled, manipulated, abused, neglected, or mistreated
  • when I’m hot, hungry or tired.

Anger, by definition, is “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure or hostility; belligerance provoked by a wrong; pain; grief; trouble.” 

The Greek surgeon and philosopher Galen and Greek statesman and philosopher Seneca regarded anger as a kind of madness. (Source: Wikipedia) I can relate to this. Billy Graham’s wife said it well when asked if she’d ever thought about divorcing Billy. “Divorce? No. Murder, yes.”

Buddhism teaches that anger brings misery and confusion rather than peace, happiness, and fulfillment. (Source: Wikipedia) 

In Hinduism, anger is believed to be packed with more evil power than desires. (Source: Wikipedia)

In Islam, anger is considered to be instigated by Satan, stemming from selfishness, arrogance, and excessive ambition. (Source: Wikipedia)

I think anger is often provoked by the enemy Satan. He knows it will steal our peace and joy, and render Christians ineffective for the Kingdom of God. The Bible tells us that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities. (Ephesians 6:12) However, we can’t go around always blaming the devil when we get mad. Many times it’s just the flesh! Sometimes there are other factors involved, too: fatigue, lack of sleep, illness, stress, hormonal problems, worry, etc.

In Judaism, anger is seen as a negative trait “denying the hand of God in one’s life.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Psychologists view anger as a primary, natural, mature emotion experienced by almost all humans at times, and something that has functional value for survival. But psychologists say that excessive anger can increase your blood pressure, and other physical changes associated with anger make it difficult to think straight and harm your physical and mental health. It can cause problems at home and work. (Source: American Psychological Association)

Overall, anger isn’t generally viewed as a good thing. 

frustrated woman
frustrated woman

Unless anger is a holy, righteous anger – like Jesus displayed driving out the money-changers in the temple and with the Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ lack of love and religious hypocrisy (which most of us rarely experience) – anger is destructive.

What does the Bible say about anger? The Bible most often warns us about anger.

“Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry – but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry.” – Ephesians 4:26, The Message

“Remember this, my dear friends! Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry.” – James 1:19, Good News Translation

“A foolish person lets his anger run wild. But a wise person keeps himself under control.” – Proverbs 29:11, New International Reader’s Version

“But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” – Matthew 5:22, NKJV

“Also get rid of your anger, hot tempers, hatred, cursing, obscene language, and all similar sins.” – Colossians 3:8, God’s Word Translation

“Human anger does not achieve God’s righteous purpose.” – James 1:20, Good News Translation

If you have a problem with unrighteous anger, what can you do to overcome it?

Joyce Meyers
http://media.photobucket.com/user/harobed216/media/People/joyce-meyer-02929.jpg.html

 Joyce Meyer says to get to the root of it and deal with it. One of the primary roots of anger is the family. Angry people often have angry children. Children learn and mimic what is taught and modeled.

Joyce says to confess to God that you’re not able to conquer your temper by yourself and that you need His help.

God created us with emotions. He allows us to feel anger when we are being mistreated. But even when we’re being treated wrongly, it isn’t right to vent our anger improperly.

Joyce’s suggestions are:

  • Anger often stems from unmet needs. Go to God with your needs and desires. No one, not even your spouse, can fill you up. Let God satisfy you and fill that black hole inside of you. Spend time in God’s presence and let His love wash over you.
  • Talk (when you’ve calmed down) to whoever you’re angry with so the conflict can be resolved. It helps to pray for yourself and the person before talking so clear, positive communication can be achieved and some type of peaceful resolution. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree for the sake of peace. At times you may even need to fast and pray before talking with someone about the conflict.
  • Forgive. Unresolved anger and unforgiveness results in bitterness. Unforgiveness makes you the prisoner. Set yourself free by making a decision to forgive. That doesn’t mean you won’t have the feelings…the feelings often come after you choose to forgive.
  • Deal with abuse. God doesn’t want you abused and treated like a doormat. Abuse of any kind, whether it’s sexual, physical, verbal, or mental, leads to anger. Deal with it to be free of it. No one should ever be abused. Set firm boundaries and leave if necessary. Seek counseling if needed.
  • Stop strife. The Bible says that strife opens a door to disorder and every evil thing. (James 3:16) Strife results in arguments, bickering, resentment, and angry undercurrents. At the Branson, MO, marriage retreat Ray and I recently attended, the Trevors taught whenever strife raises its head, for a couple to stop and pray. Great words of wisdom. Also if you pray for your spouse, it’s hard to stay mad at him or her! (Frequent, passionate sex helps, too!)
  • Confess jealousy and envy as sin. Cain killed his brother Abel out of jealousy. Jealousy is just plain ugly and it destroys relationships. God has a specific plan and purpose for your life. There’s no need to compete or compare, or feel “less than” others. Ask God to forgive you of your jealousy and/or envy and help you to see yourself through His eyes…and to discover and walk in your own, unique calling, using your gifts for His glory. He has a plan for you that you can’t even begin to imagine! 

If you struggle with anger, keep going to God, crucify it daily, when you fall, get right back up and repent, and ask God daily to help you with “keeping a watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3 – The mouth is usually where anger shows up!). 

What about you? Do you struggle with a temper? What makes you mad? Leave your comments below.

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Our Branson MO Marriage Retreat

 

Me & Ray Branson, MO
Me & Ray
Branson, MO

Ray and I have been married for 22 years…and it’s been hell for both of us. If that offends you, I’m sorry, but that is the only accurate description of what we’ve gone through.

We’ve been to numerous marriage counselors and pastors throughout the years, to no avail. We’ve had years of betrayal, patterns of strife, unforgiveness, deep hurt, and hopelessness that things could ever change between us.

We’ve both wanted to divorce many times because it’s been so hard. Luke 1:37 says, “With God nothing is impossible,” but I think maybe Ray and I are a pretty good challenge for God!

From day one, Satan has tried to destroy our marriage because of the ministry and missions calling that is on our lives. I share about some of the problems we’ve had in my newest book, Promises In The Dark: One Woman’s Search for Authentic Love

We attend a home church (a small group at our friends’ home) on Sundays, and our friends there recently blessed us financially to attend a marriage retreat they had been to last year, I think out of sheer desperation for our marriage to be healed. It is time.

The retreat was taught by Roger and Laureen Traver with Mountain Top Marriage Ministry, and it was amazing! There were 7 couples attending this retreat.

The Traver’s marriage years ago was just like ours has been presently. They shared openly and honestly about their story. They are lovely, humble, powerfully-anointed people. 

Roger and Laureen were married in 1966. They were advised by a Christian counselor to get a divorce after Laureen became emotionally dependent on a man and committed adultery, and Roger was addicted to pornography and an alcoholic.

Roger and Laureen Traver
Roger and Laureen Traver

Laureen thought spending hours talking with this other Christian man would help her learn more about how a man thinks and figure out why her husband wasn’t meeting her spiritual, emotional, and sexual needs. The other man was always there, being polite, gentle, kind, and even praying for her.

In her book Overcoming Mountains of Fear, Laureen writes, “I enjoyed the friendship, the attention and eventually the sexual arousal I felt when I was around him. The deceptive trap was set. I took the bait and fell into an adulterous relationship with that Christian man. Satan used my own lust to lead me into deception.

They were advised by medical doctors to get a divorce after discovering Roger’s physical disability that caused them to be unable to have sex.

Through commitment, emotional and physical healing, obedience to God’s word, and a brokenness of self and pride, Jesus and the Holy Spirit turned their marriage into a victorious mountain top experience. They’ve brought healing and hope to troubled marriages, saving them from divorce, by teaching couples how to use God’s Word to have victorious marriages.

They began teaching a marriage group in their home in 1984, and now minister throughout the U.S. and in countries all over the world, teaching marriage seminars and using their own books, tapes, and teaching materials.

 

The marriage retreat

Before we left for the retreat, I had journaled and prayed the scripture Galatians 5:16-25, “But I say walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

In the first session, Roger shared this verse and he and Laureen repeated it throughout the seminar. For me, it was confirmation that we were there by God’s divine appointment.  Ray had actually met the Traver’s years ago, and they knew mutual friends of his from Gardner, Kansas. Another precious couple attending the retreat, Bill and Joanie, who are close friends with the Traver’s, also knew these friends of Ray’s well. Small world. Joanie and I instantly connected. I just loved her! My friends Vickie and Jane were there, to my surprise and delight. 

As the Traver’s shared their powerful marriage testimony which so closely mirrored our marriage, I knew in my heart that we were in the right place at the right time. This was God!

 

You have to do the work

After each teaching session, we had homework that we worked on together in our rooms. Exercises of repentance to God, forgiving each other, renouncing spiritual strongholds, tests on our love languages and spiritual gifts, keys to communicating effectively, and more.  

The truth is that marriage is hard work…especially Christian marriages! Christian marriages now have the same divorce rate as secular ones, which is a sad testimony to the world! 

Laureen & Roger teaching
Laureen & Roger teaching

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” – Matthew 5:13, NIV

Time is short before Jesus returns. Satan is actively trying to destroy Christian marriages and families.

 

The fruit

By Saturday night and Sunday morning, I was beginning to feel drained emotionally. Ray is an introvert-converted-to-extrovert, and loves socializing and talking with people. I love people, too, but I’m an introvert. Being around crowds of people for long periods of time drains me. I needed some quiet time alone praying to God, reading, and writing.  

Strife was also raising its head again between Ray and me. But through prayer, choosing the Spirit over the flesh, and the Traver’s help, we put strife down and finished the weekend strong.

The key is for us to continue to daily apply the Biblical and practical principles we learned to have a happy, fulfilled, strong marriage. Ray and I decided that we will attend their marriage retreat again, at least once a year. We have to stay alert and look out for the enemy’s evil devices. 

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8

Ray, looking glass at Branson mountains
Ray, looking glass at Branson mountains

The Traver’s also offered a parenting class Sunday afternoon, taught at the gazebo outside by their great worship leaders Mike and Dawn, and Roger and Laureen met personally with Ray and me an hour in their room for counseling and prayer. They are both extremely prophetic and discerning, listening carefully to the Holy Spirit and hearing His voice. They spoke the truth to us in love.

One of the things Roger said to Ray which deeply impacted him was that he is a warrior. Warriors don’t give up, even to the death! Ray repented to me in front of everyone in the room for giving up on our marriage and on me. Another thing Roger said which really impacted him is that Jesus didn’t go around praying for people; He went around HEALING people. He listened to what God said and then He did it. 

Mike and Dawn, Retreat Worship Leaders
Mike and Dawn
Retreat worship leaders

Mike and Dawn said this group of couples had made worship easier. They thanked us for being worshippers of God. They were humble servants and led beautiful worship during the weekend. There was a sweet presence of the Lord there.

worship
worship

 On Monday morning, Roger and Laureen and everyone in the room prayed for each couple, giving them encouraging prophetic words. The Holy Spirit’s presence was there, working powerfully among us. 

Ray and I left the marriage retreat with softer hearts that had been touched by God’s love and forgiveness, greater intimacy, and rekindled hope. It was a much needed break and time away from the daily routine. We had such a fun, and relaxing time. 

 

Pictures from the retreat

The mountains and lakes in Branson are beautiful. 

Branson, MO
Branson, Missouri

 On the way driving to Branson, you see mountain cliffs beside the highway. This reminded me of childhood summer trips to my grandparents’ house. When I was growing up, in the summertime for about 1-2 weeks, I’d go to my grandparents Gentry’s country home in Forsythe, Georgia (near Macon). I knew we were getting close to their beautiful Victorian house when I saw the red clay cliffs along the highway. 

Cliffs, Branson, MO
Cliffs
Branson, MO

 We ate supper at a cafe in Branson, where they had a Friday night special on ribs that had been smoking all day. My husband loves to eat. He is a meat man, so this made him happy. 

smoked ribs
smoked ribs

We stayed at the Bradford Inn in Branson, MO. It has 34 rooms, each with a different design and decor. Ours was called The French Room. “Very pink,” Ray said as we first walked into it, LOL. The room is painted pink with Victorian furniture.

Bradford Inn
Bradford Inn, Branson
The French Room

 It was wonderful. The bathroom has a jacuzzi tub for two. This was one of Ray’s and my favorite parts. So relaxing. We felt spoiled, and are so thankful to our friends for making this happen! We dream of having a jacuzzi in our own home one day.

jacuzzi
jacuzzi

There’s a little patio outside the room with 2 chairs, where Ray and I drank our coffee in the morning, admiring the beautiful view of the mountains. This was one of my favorite things that we did together. This made me happy!

patio
patio

Here is a view of the Branson mountains from the top level of the inn. 

view of mountains
view of mountains

I’ve been craving the beach lately, wanting to take a pic of my painted toenails in the sand...so I improvised, taking a pic of my toes as I relaxed in the big, comfy chair in our room. Yes, I am easily amused. 

my painted toenails, relaxing in the chair
my painted toenails, relaxing in the chair

Ray and I ate in the public dining area the first morning, and in our room at the little antique table and chairs the next 2 mornings. Included in the price of the Bradford Inn’s stay is a delicious breakfast each morning.

The B&B’s owner cooks the breakfast himself. You tell him how you want your eggs cooked and what you want with it: cereal, oatmeal, waffles, sausage, cinammon rolls, coffee cake, biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit. This was definitely Ray’s favorite part. 

Ray loved the breakfast!
Ray loved the breakfast!

The biscuits and gravy and sausage were SO good!

biscuits, gravy,  & sausage
biscuits, gravy, & sausage

On Saturday afternoon, we had “free time,” where we were supposed to do a homework assignment and then go on a date alone…no double dates.

Ray and I were on a strict budget for this trip, so our date was at Steak and Shake, LOL.  They had a special double cheeseburger with fries for $4.99. We are planning to go out for a steak dinner this coming payday. But Steak and Shake’s cheeseburgers and fries were good, and we had fun.

Steak & Shake cheeseburger and fries
Steak & Shake cheeseburger and fries

 There’s lots to do in Branson, including the zipline which looks really fun and the National Tiger Sanctuary.  As I said, we were on a very tight budget, but we did amuse ourselves taking pics by this elephant. Some other people were there, and took the pic for us and we returned the favor for them. 

me & Ray by elephant Branson, MO
me & Ray by elephant
Branson, MO

The healing power of prayer

One of the most powerful times during the retreat was Monday morning, when the Traver’s and everyone prayed for each other. I knew we were going to pray for each other at this retreat (our friends had told us this ahead of time, since they went last year), but I didn’t know it would be this powerful! God is so good!

Below from left to right are the senior pastors of the non-denominational fellowship The Barn in Kansas City, MO, Todd and Vickie Bennett, Jane and Jim, and Charlie and Veronica. Charlie and Veronica have 7 children and were extremely entertaining the whole weekend, laughing and sharing transparently about their sex life and their marriage. Their openness brought great freedom to this retreat. 

prayer time for couples
prayer time for couples

The Traver’s are Spirit-filled Christians and teach on the spiritual gifts, and encourage others to use theirs so there is an atmosphere in their meetings for doing that.

Todd, Vickie, Charlie & Veronica praying for Jane & Jim
Todd, Vickie, Charlie & Veronica praying for Jane & Jim

This awesome couple praying below, Mark and Kim, have been in ministry for over 20 years and are in transition, about to move to do missions work in East Africa. 

prayer
Kim and Mark praying for Dawn & Mike

Praise God! Ray and I were able to pray not only for each other this weekend, but also for other couples, using our gifts and giving them encouraging, prophetic words. If you don’t know what your spiritual gifts are, you can take online tests here.

If you’d like to learn more about the spiritual gifts, two resources I highly recommend are The Gifts and Ministries of the Holy Spirit by Lester Sumrall and Step Out and Take Your Place by Krista Dunk

Not everyone at this retreat had been taught about the spiritual gifts and were a little uncomfortable. Sometimes God will take you out of your comfort zone to lead you into a more mature, deeper relationship with Him.

This marriage retreat was such a blessing and I’m so thankful that Ray and I were able to go and renew our marriage. Please pray for us as we work on applying the Biblical, practical principles and tools we learned about at this retreat.

We know that Satan doesn’t want our marriage restored and that he’ll be up to his old tricks, so we have to stay alert, pray and read the Word together, and fight Satan together. He is our enemy, not each other.

Ray and I have a calling from God together to the nations and need to fulfill the purpose God has for our lives. We also want to leave a godly legacy for our children and grandchildren and be an example to others of God’s love, forgiveness, and power. 

me and Ray, Branson marriage retreat
me and Ray, Branson marriage retreat

I highly recommend attending the Traver’s marriage retreats, whether you are a newly married couple, have been married for several years and just want a tune-up, or your marriage is on the verge of divorce and you need a Divine intervention.

Ultimately only God and you and your spouse can heal your marriage. Marriage is really about your relationship with God – obeying Him.

Are you willing to obey? (Am I?) Are you willing to do what it takes and die to self, so that your marriage can be a beautiful picture of Christ and the Church? (Am I?)

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” – Psalm 121:1-2, NKJV

hills/mountains in Branson, MO
hills/mountains in Branson, MO

 

 

 

 

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