How Can I Get My (Blank) To…

That blank is usually filled in with “husband” or “wife”, but it is sometimes used with “congregation” or “house church.”

I understand their concern. They are excited about the fresh relational journey they are on, discovering how to live loved and are finding the institutional approach they are involved in to be counterproductive to the community they desire. Our first thought is how do we get others to embrace our journey and help us accomplish what we want. As noble as it may be, this approach never ends well. The moment we are trying to get someone else to see what we see, we become a manipulator of their journey, rather than a friend alongside them.

Trying to convince others that they should want what you want will destroy your relationships, not build them as this recent email exchange demonstrates. The writer was concerned about getting his wife, his neighbors and his faith community to embrace the journey he was on. Concerned that their own approaches would fail them he wanted to know what secrets I had to getting other people to see these things.

Here’s how I responded:
Not knowing you or the others involved in this circumstance make it nearly impossible for me to know how to advise you here. It does seem like you’re a bit more anti-institutional that God needs you to be. Why wouldn’t you rejoice that your neighbor and his wife are opening the door to Jesus again? Don’t you think he is bigger than whatever weaknesses are part of the religious club they are now going to?

It is an impossible task to get someone else to come on this journey. That isn’t your job and others will only resent you when you try. All you need to do is go on this journey and in the going let God make you a better lover of your wife right where she’s at. This podcast may help you. Read Romans 14 and the first part of 15 in the Message about enjoying your journey but not imposing it on others. If she sees the journey you’re on as an added pressure for her to conform, it won’t be helpful. Even asking for her opinion on Transitions, she might well be recognizing as a pressure to listen to something she really isn’t ready to listen to yet. These are some things that have helped Sara and me on this journey. I hope they help you too.

He wrote back:

Thanks for your straight answer. Though I am not ‘militantly anti-institutional’, I am into life with Jesus being more than the 1/7 of the week in which we participate in dysfunction. Interestingly enough, our ‘church’ is having an intervention and we were given two suggestions to turn things around and I am willing to work as God requires of me to drive our community into more loving relationships with each other.

I read Romans 14-15 in NIV, and I believe I got it. It is not about getting others to believe what I believe we are free to do. I am currently listening to your unequally yoked podcast. I’ll have to listen to it a couple times. It is good. Thanks for sharing your journey via podcasts! I was approaching this situation with the wrong heart. Thanks for shooting straight.

To which I responded: But just so you know, you cannot “work as God requires of me to drive our community into more loving relationships with each other.” You can’t drive people into love, you can only invite them. And you can live with Jesus all seven days of the week whether they desire to or not. Changing them is not the goal. Living free will have far more impact on you and them!

And then he wrote back:

Oh man, so much to learn! It sounds like a simple thing, ‘living loved’. I guess, I can drive them if I invite them into my car :). I’ve definitely started the journey. I don’t know if there is a lot to learn so much as ‘unlearn’. Man, isn’t it amazing how much has to unlearn over the course of time? I was saved 11 years ago, and things were so fresh and new and then I went to Bible College, and only a couple years ago have shed the bulk of Phariseeism, only to find, I still am a creature of habits that need letting go. Not saying that one has a final revelation of God’s love when they first come into that relationship, but it is so much more pure than what happens over the course of time when you get stuck in playing the religious games.

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6 Comments
  1. pam March 10, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Unchurch or outside the box can become a religious thing. It has to be about living loved no matter how God leads your journey. It’s not a way of doing things; it’s a person.

    Pam

  2. pam March 10, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Unchurch or outside the box can become a religious thing. It has to be about living loved no matter how God leads your journey. It’s not a way of doing things; it’s a person.

    Pam

  3. Tom March 26, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Wayne (or anyone, really):

    What do you do when you change – and generally abide by the motto of not imposing your new path on others – but your spouse is seeking to impose her path [the original one you set about when you believed in organized/traditional religion] on you?

    I have changed a LOT in the past year or two, to a point now where I recognized many inconsistencies in my former religious life and where Christ really wants me. As such, many of my beliefs and ideas and morphing, changing and quite unlike what I originally believed when I got married to my wife nearly 10 years ago.

    My wife sees this change, is appalled by it and is drawn even closer to our organized religious life. As she repels from me, and is drawn closer to organized life – to the point where she’s scheduling meetings for me to meet with our pastor in hopes that he will correct my “weird beliefs” – and is seeking to conform my behavior to what she wants it to be. I totally understand and am on board with what you say when you write:

    “Read Romans 14 and the first part of 15 in the Message about enjoying your journey but not imposing it on others. If she sees the journey you’re on as an added pressure for her to conform, it won’t be helpful.”

    I’m not anti-institution or anti-religion, at all. In fact, I’ve attended our Sunday services every week during my journey but for occasional bouts with sickness or travel, all in hopes of supporting my wife and our children even though I’m changing. I’m totally OK with my wife maintaining what works for her, but she’s not OK with me changing… to the point where she’s threatened to move out with the kids in order to “protect them” from my views. And, to be fair to this conversation, I sometimes go out of my way not to say anything to provoke her. I know where we disagree, and frequently I avoid those conversations or provocations when she tries to say something that she knows will bother me.

    I just listened to your “Control Freaks” podcast and loved it… but wish you would have said something to those of us who are suffering at the hand of some control freaks who want to control us, especially when it’s a spouse. You mentioned that sometimes you just have to say, “I love you, but I don’t have the freedom to do that,” but I’m not sure how that would work in a marriage where you’re living under the same roof and spiritual beliefs are going two entirely opposite directions.

    Any advice would be greatly, greatly appreciated!

  4. Tom March 26, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Wayne (or anyone, really):

    What do you do when you change – and generally abide by the motto of not imposing your new path on others – but your spouse is seeking to impose her path [the original one you set about when you believed in organized/traditional religion] on you?

    I have changed a LOT in the past year or two, to a point now where I recognized many inconsistencies in my former religious life and where Christ really wants me. As such, many of my beliefs and ideas and morphing, changing and quite unlike what I originally believed when I got married to my wife nearly 10 years ago.

    My wife sees this change, is appalled by it and is drawn even closer to our organized religious life. As she repels from me, and is drawn closer to organized life – to the point where she’s scheduling meetings for me to meet with our pastor in hopes that he will correct my “weird beliefs” – and is seeking to conform my behavior to what she wants it to be. I totally understand and am on board with what you say when you write:

    “Read Romans 14 and the first part of 15 in the Message about enjoying your journey but not imposing it on others. If she sees the journey you’re on as an added pressure for her to conform, it won’t be helpful.”

    I’m not anti-institution or anti-religion, at all. In fact, I’ve attended our Sunday services every week during my journey but for occasional bouts with sickness or travel, all in hopes of supporting my wife and our children even though I’m changing. I’m totally OK with my wife maintaining what works for her, but she’s not OK with me changing… to the point where she’s threatened to move out with the kids in order to “protect them” from my views. And, to be fair to this conversation, I sometimes go out of my way not to say anything to provoke her. I know where we disagree, and frequently I avoid those conversations or provocations when she tries to say something that she knows will bother me.

    I just listened to your “Control Freaks” podcast and loved it… but wish you would have said something to those of us who are suffering at the hand of some control freaks who want to control us, especially when it’s a spouse. You mentioned that sometimes you just have to say, “I love you, but I don’t have the freedom to do that,” but I’m not sure how that would work in a marriage where you’re living under the same roof and spiritual beliefs are going two entirely opposite directions.

    Any advice would be greatly, greatly appreciated!

  5. Wayne March 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Tough place to be in, Tom. Sorry you’re there. It is always difficult when someone experiences a change that the other one hasn’t yet, especially in such things as this, which defines so much of our lives. I always encourage the one changing to have great patience with the one whose still where I used to be. They didn’t sign up for the change, so it is certainly difficult for them to know what to do. At the same time, they don’t get to have free-run on bashing you either. I really don’t know what kind of situation you have here, but I know of such small-minded groups that any change is perceived as a threat and wives have run off with kids to keep them from the “rebellious spirit” of the father. That’s really brutal stuff and there are no easy answers. But there is a Father who loves you more than anyone else does and has wisdom and grace for you to walk through that season as horrible as it might be. Hopefully your wife won’t do anything drastic and you can find a way to reconnect again even beyond the differences in perspective. But that isn’t always what others want and we can only be at peace as much as it lies within us! You have my prayers, Bro! Wayne

  6. Wayne March 28, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Tough place to be in, Tom. Sorry you’re there. It is always difficult when someone experiences a change that the other one hasn’t yet, especially in such things as this, which defines so much of our lives. I always encourage the one changing to have great patience with the one whose still where I used to be. They didn’t sign up for the change, so it is certainly difficult for them to know what to do. At the same time, they don’t get to have free-run on bashing you either. I really don’t know what kind of situation you have here, but I know of such small-minded groups that any change is perceived as a threat and wives have run off with kids to keep them from the “rebellious spirit” of the father. That’s really brutal stuff and there are no easy answers. But there is a Father who loves you more than anyone else does and has wisdom and grace for you to walk through that season as horrible as it might be. Hopefully your wife won’t do anything drastic and you can find a way to reconnect again even beyond the differences in perspective. But that isn’t always what others want and we can only be at peace as much as it lies within us! You have my prayers, Bro! Wayne

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