How To Get Divorced In One Easy Step

{For those visiting from Start Marriage Right, welcome. I’m talking candidly about preventing divorce today – I know this is a painful and controversial topic, and I’m trying to be delicate here. Please do not hear me being trite or accusing or blaming people who have experienced divorce. I am speaking on the side of prevention for those who are walking the line in their relationships, or who are blissfully unaware of how easily the cracks form in the foundation of a marriage. Thanks for reading and please be sure to be respectful as we discuss this sensitive issue.} 

No one wants a tutorial on divorce. No one walks down the aisle planning for the marriage to end. At least not in a healthy relationship. Yet there is one particular thing any couple can do to significantly increase their chances of divorce. It’s simple: disconnect.

I’m not talking about disconnecting from each other. I think that’s obvious. I’m talking about couples who isolate themselves from community, from family, friends and church involvement. Especially when their marriage is in crisis.

As a pastor of a church alongside my husband, we consistently see marriages in trouble. We offer counsel with a goal of restoration, but always understanding both parties must be engaged in the process. And both partners must want the help.

Sadly, some marriages never make it through the crisis. But these relationships have something in common. A strong marriage depends vitally on the input and support of others, through mentorship and counseling, through transparent relationships where the dark and painful things can be aired out and healed. And the marriages who fail tend to have one or both partners outside of community, unwilling to correct their course and receive guidance.

My husband and I received two years of counseling when our relationship started. And we needed it. I had many misperceptions about men from previous relationships, along with a suitcase full of fear about how our marriage might end up. We were counseled while we dated, during engagement, and for the first year of marriage.

I didn’t know it then, but these mentors assisted us in laying a foundation for healthy communication and conflict we would need the rest of our marriage. Our marriage would be much weaker without their input.

Pastoring in a college town means counseling many young, idealistic couples through their early stages of marriage. There is often a blissful ignorance present during the dating period, a disbelief that their love could fade and problems could set in. As we attempted to challenge this view, we saw a few of them pull away from the very relationships that might provide stability and honest feedback.

Some couples waited until they nearly despised each other before they sought help. Some couples reviled any suggestions that their ways of relating to each other were harmful and pursued counselors who agreed with their unhealthy habits. Others lived under the pretense “nothing is wrong here”, ignoring conflict the best they could until it blew up.

This is always painful to watch because we wanted to help. But we could not get in. There was no door for us. These couples were on the outside by their own choosing. They did not want our help.

And no marriage can survive and thrive without authentic community.

Continue reading at Start Marriage Right.

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When it’s all up to you: the value of legacy

{If you found me through my article on Catalyst, welcome. And if you’re a regular or a visitor, please let me share my news: I had the privilege to be featured on Catalyst this week, talking about the church planting life and the value of raising up the legacy of the next generation of leaders. I’m hoping to have the opportunity to write more on church planting and leadership, something Josh and I are growing intimately familiar with. Thanks for reading. Please leave thoughts in the article comments section. Thanks. Now, without further ado…}

Church planting is like parenting. It’s exhausting, and in the beginning, you’re doing all the work. It’s a good thing you love your new, baby church.

But as it grows, it gains independence. It can tie its own shoes. And eventually, you get to go to the bathroom unaccompanied.

Yup, this is pretty much what it’s like in the beginning.

Okay, it’s not a direct analogy, but you’d be surprised by the similarities.

If you’re a church planter, you know: the policy writing, program development, volunteer training and recruiting, preaching and teaching, discipleship of new converts, janitorial duties, midnight counseling, Sunday bulletin design, weddings and funerals and hospital visits and baby dedications are simply all part of the job. Your job.

But this is only the infancy of the church, the stage of greatest need and dependence, and in many ways, the highest level of pastoral involvement. But it’s not supposed to stay this way.

After my son was born, we returned home from the hospital and tried to adjust to life without sleep. I remember hearing him cry one day and wondering when his mother was going to come and help him out. It was dreadful to realize I was the mother. Who gave someone with no parenting experience a new child who has no use of the English language?

Like parenting, church planting is a startling thrust into the fire. When we got the 2 AM call from a local hospital that the husband of one of our parishioners passed away suddenly, we searched about wildly. “Someone should call her pastor,” we muttered in our groggy stupor. And then we realized we were the pastors. We left our three week-old infant with my mom, who happened to be in town, and hurried to the hospital to comfort our friend.

Even if you’ve never comforted a new parent, cooked a casserole for a potluck, or provided the homily at a funeral service, suddenly, it’s up to you. You’re up.

Like parenting, it’s almost a given that whatever needs to be done will fall on you in the beginning. But that’s only the beginning.

Continue reading at CatalystConference.com.