Posts tagged men stepping up

When does a boy become a man?



As part of the Stepping Up video series, we asked people passing by on the street different questions around the topic of manhood.  In this clip, we asked them, “When do you think a boy becomes a man?” There were some interesting responses; many had difficulty answering the question.

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So, when does a boy become a man?  The Apostle Paul gives us a hint:

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Corinthians 13:11, English Standard Version)

It’s interesting that this verse follows a very famous passage of Scripture, oft-quoted at weddings … the “love chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13.  I have been at many marriage ceremonies where this passage was read but never one where they read this verse (which follows directly after the “love is” verses).  Maybe if more marriage ceremonies included this verse there might be more attention drawn to becoming a man and turning away from childish things.

We don’t do “rite of passage” ceremonies very well in our culture.  Typically it’s assumed that by passing certain age milestones, or some of the major events in our lives, we “automagically” move into manhood.  Yet, as one woman said on the video (and correctly so), “There are some who are men at 15 and others who are still children at 40.”

Helping your boy become a man

If you are wanting to know how to help your son become a man, there are some good resources available to help you. FamilyLife has the Passport2Purity resource that allows you to have a discussion with your son about significant issues he’ll face as an adolescent that will move him to manhood.  Here are some other resources for you to check out:

If you are aware of any others that are biblically based and have made an impact on you or someone you know, share them here.

© 2015 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklist

You just read the post “When does a boy become a man?” on the Stepping Up men’s blog by FamilyLife

STEPThink - 10-point checklistSo when does a boy become a man? Is there a specific time when YOU consciously put away childish things?

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistMen help men grow up. Read Dave Boehi’s article, “Men Who Won’t Grow Up,” on FamilyLife.com. 

STEPPass - 10-point checklistSeriously consider organizing a Stepping Up 10-week study so together you can grow as men in godliness.

4 building blocks for raising children



GPS - 4 building block for raising children

 

For a number of years, I saved a single-frame cartoon drawing that showed a freckle-faced, scruffy, blond-haired boy (maybe five years old), who was barefoot, shirtless, and in cut-off jeans, walking down a dusty trail on a hot summer afternoon. That image alone captured for me what my boyhood was like. Innocent, for the most part. Easy going. A little guy kicking around in the backwoods of the Ozarks, never too far from home or from a fishing hole.

But what still brings a smile to my face is that the boy in the cartoon was carrying a pair of skinny old cats, whose tails he had tied together in a crude knot. The caption at the bottom of the cartoon read “And he was bound to acquire experience rapidly.”

Boyhood is meant to be like that. A discovery around every corner, abundant adventure, and rapid growth — embedded life lessons disguised as sharp-clawed cats!

All men start there. Some men never leave.

Boys will be boys

This was part of a previous blog post that you can read here…

Wanted: a GPS

Men don’t like being lost, and we hate asking for directions. But we love gadgets, and that’s why we love mobile devices that have a global positioning system (GPS).

A number of years ago, I was deer hunting. It was overcast, I was deep in a dense thicket in the woods, and there were no landmarks to help me get my bearings. As an avid hunter and outdoorsman, I was proud that I had never been lost. In fact, I couldn’t understand how any real man could get lost. But after a couple of hours of walking in circles, I came to three very humbling conclusions: (1) If I went in the wrong direction, there was nothing but forest for twenty miles; (2) the sun was going down, and it was going to get dark and cold; and (3) I really was lost!

Fortunately, I stopped going in circles, and another couple of hours later, just before dark, I stumbled out onto a road not far from my truck. But if I had carried a GPS device with me, I could have plotted a course and avoided a healthy dose of humiliation.

When Barbara and I started having children, I didn’t want to admit it, but I was lost in the thick woods of parenting. I discovered that raising children involved more than potty training, settling sibling squabbles, controlling temper tantrums, assigning chores, teaching manners, and playing in the yard. With six young children, I needed a reliable guidance system, and I found it in the Scriptures. I decided to dedicate a full year of studying the Bible, discovering the irreducible essence of what children need from parents.

I found that there are four building blocks for raising children: character, relationships, identity, and mission. Every child needs teaching, training, and modeling in each of these areas.

Building block no. 1: Character — “What Is wise and what Is foolish?”

I define true character as “response-ability” — the ability to respond rightly to authority and to the challenges we face in life.

A boy doesn’t know it yet, but life is hammered out on the anvil of his choices. The problem is that wisdom does not come naturally to boys. As the book of Proverbs tells us, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child” (22:15). If a boy is going to step up in life, he needs an older man who will model a lifestyle of wisdom and charge him with becoming a man of character, making right choices, and acting responsibly. A boy needs to know how to choose what is right (wisdom) and not what is wrong (foolishness).

Building block no. 2: Relationships — “How do I love others?”

When asked what the “greatest commandment” was, in essence, Jesus said, “Life is about relationships with God and others” (see Matthew 22:37–40). A boy needs to know how to build authentic relationships — how to communicate and speak respectfully, how to forgive and ask for forgiveness, and how to control his natural selfishness. He needs to be trained in how to love other imperfect human beings.

Many of these lessons will be learned in the laboratory of his home, as he gains understanding in how to relate to God, his parents, and his siblings. He needs to know that if he doesn’t have relationships, he misses life.

Building block no. 3: Identity — “Who am I?”

Every person is born with a unique identity that has its origins in God. Genesis 1:27 declares, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” A boy can never fully determine who he is unless he understands that he is made in the image of God — with a body, soul, and spirit.

A boy’s identity involves his “spiritual address” — his relationship with God. He needs to understand that there is a God who governs the world. As he grows up, he will be tempted to become self-focused and self-absorbed. He can begin to think that he is the very center of the universe and may be less likely to look outside of himself for meaning and purpose. A boy needs to realize that as God’s creation, he is accountable to God for his life and how he lives it.

Boys get their first glimpse of their heavenly Father by watching their earthly fathers. In essence, God has given fathers the assignment of saying, “Welcome, son. As imperfect as I may be, it is my desire to take the next couple of decades and introduce you to God.” If you are a father, this is your assignment. This is your privilege. No other man on the planet has the same responsibility for your son.

A boy also needs help as he grows up in this culture to answer questions such as: What is my sexual identity? What does it mean to be a boy and not a girl? He needs to have his budding masculinity affirmed and embraced as he grows up. In short, it’s not just “okay” to be a boy. It’s good. Very good.

A boy needs to understand that he also possesses emotions that are part of his identity. From the very start, at birth, his security — and ultimately his stability — depends on the love (or lack of love) he receives from his parents. The emotional support, affirmation, and affection he sees demonstrated between his dad and mom are as important as anything they teach him.

Building block no. 4: Mission — “Why am I here?”

Every boy, every person, needs a reason to live — a purpose that provides meaning and impact. The apostle Paul wrote, “For we are His [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Boys need to begin to grapple with their mission in life. And they will get the first glimpse of what having a mission looks like from their dads.

For many men, their primary mission in life is to build a successful career, provide for their families, and retire comfortably. That is what drives them, and that is the vision they pass on to their sons. But I think there is a much greater, nobler mission to pass on to boys. One of my favorite passages about children in the Scriptures is found in Psalm 127: “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (verses 4–5).

This is powerful imagery. Think about what an arrow is created to do. Was it designed to stay in the quiver, comfortable and protected? No, it was made to be aimed and shot by a warrior at a target, to deliver a blow in battle.

Can you see the connection? Boys need to understand that they are not here on earth just to achieve worldly success and comfort. They’re here to strike a blow against evil, to make a mark on their world. Just like you. After all, dads are arrows too.

Lost boys can become lost men

These four foundational elements represent the DNA of life. If a young boy misses just one, he can miss life as God intended it.

Think of the men you know who struggle and can’t quite put life together, and see if a big part of their problem can be traced to some misguided or missing perspective in one or more of these four areas. They don’t yet know who they are as men or who they want to be. They have no spiritual address and wander aimlessly. They don’t know how to love and sustain a meaningful relationship with a woman or with a male friend, and they are lonely. They don’t know how to make good value judgments or how to keep their promises, and they are foolish. And they just don’t have a real purpose for their lives. They never seem to “nail it.” They’re drifting, dreaming, shifting, hoping — they never experience what God wants to do through their lives. And that is a wasted life.

I’ve found that many of these men never had a father or an important male figure in their lives. We’re paying the price in our culture for this lost generation of boys. It’s time for us to deal with our own disappointments, lay aside our guilt and regrets, and reach down and help a boy “step up.”

This post was taken with permission from the book Stepping Up, by Dennis Rainey.  (2011-05-11). Stepping Up (Kindle Locations 757-765). FamilyLife Publishing®. Kindle Edition. No reproductions of this piece without the consent and permission of FamilyLife are permitted.

Tribute to ‘Hook’ Rainey — Dennis Rainey’s tribute to his father



In his book, The Forgotten Commandment, Dennis Rainey encourages readers to write a formal tribute to their parents and present it to them during a special occasion (birthday, anniversary, holiday, etc.).  Following is an example of a tribute — Dennis Rainey’s tribute to his father, “Hook” Rainey.  Click here for more information on honoring your parents and for more tribute examples.

Dennis Rainey | Men Stepping Up 

“Dad’s home,” I used to yell as the back door slammed shut. Our small, two-story frame house would shudder when the back door slammed shut.

The sound of the slamming door was especially loud when one man came through its threshold — my dad. I can recall, as a little boy, playing in my room and hearing that door send a series of quakes that rippled through the walls and rattled the windows. It was my dad’s signature and signal that a day of work was completed and a man was now home. I would yell, “Dad’s home!” and then dash through the hall and kitchen to greet him with a well-deserved hug. I would then follow him like a little puppy to the wash room where he washed his calloused, grimy hands like a “real man.”

Everything about him signaled he was a “real man” — from the gritty Lava soap to the Vitalis hair tonic and Old Spice after shave. My dad was a unique blend of no-nonsense and discipline with a subtle sense of humor. He was a quiet and private man. He was a man of few words who didn’t seem to need many words to get the job done. His countenance commanded respect. In fact, there were several boys who had a personality and discipline transformation when they graduated from the third grade Sunday school class to my dad’s fourth grade class. Miraculously, discipline problems dried up along with dozens of paper spit wads. In the 12 months that followed, paper airplanes were grounded and eight boys sat up straight in their chairs dutifully listening to the lesson.

They used to call him “Hook” Rainey.  The tall lefty got his nickname from his curve ball — a pitch so crooked it mystified batters. I got the feeling he was on his way to becoming a legend in his day. He even pitched a game against Dizzy Dean. Funny thing, but he never could remember the score of that memorable game! I used to accuse him of convenient amnesia!

I recall the easy chair that used to carry the shape of his exhausted form. It was while he was reading the evening paper that I usually planned my assault on him. I’m certain I nearly pestered him to death on more than one occasion by asking my weary dad to play catch. And play catch he did. Night after night, “Hook” taught me how to throw a curve, slider, and knuckle-ball. He used to claim you could count the stitches on his knuckle-ball. And when he threw that patented knuckler, the entire front yard was filled with laughter — his and mine.

I always loved to hear him laugh. Somehow it told me everything was secure. When I was three or so, he went to Colorado hunting and “bagged” a fierce teddy bear. He staged the “action” on film and brought the fierce beast back to me. My kids now play with that worn-out, 35-year-old black and white bear. I watched him look after the needs of his mother. He used to visit his mom three or four times a week. Dad modeled what it meant to “honor one’s parents.” From him I learned about integrity, trust, and how to be a man of my word. His example taught me the importance of perseverance, for he stuck with his job for nearly 45 years. He leaves me an indelible imprint of sinking roots down deep — and living alongside the same people with whom he did business. When I was in high school, I won the magazine sales contest because I introduced myself as Hook Rainey’s son. That was good enough for an instant sale for nearly 100 percent of my “customers.”

My dad had helped so many people that being his son gave me immeasurable credibility. (For a while I actually thought I was a great salesman!) His reputation was untarnished in the community. His funeral was attended by nearly a third of the small, southwest Missouri community. He lived and did his work all within five miles of where he was born. One man was even able to say about my father, “In all my years I never heard a negative word about Hook Rainey.”

He gave me imperishable memories instead of just things: Memories of little league baseball (he was coach); fishing trips where he netted my fish, so small they went through the holes in the net; and a “clipped” collection of all the baseball and basketball scores from my games, of which he never missed one. There are memories of watching him through the frosted window of our old pick-up truck delivering hams at Christmas. Memories of the feel of his whiskers when he wrestled with me on the floor of the living room, and memories of him whispering to me, an extroverted, impetuous boy, not to bother people while they work. And finally, memories of snuggling close to him as we watched the game of the week with Dizzy Dean as the announcer.

As an impressionable young boy, my radar caught more of his life than he ever knew. He was the model and hero I needed during some perilous teenage years–and you know what, he still is. He taught me the importance of hard work and completing a task. I learned about lasting commitment from him–I never feared my parents would divorce. My dad was absolutely committed to my mom. I felt secure and protected. But most importantly he taught me about character. He did what was right, even when no one was looking. I never heard him talk about cheating on taxes — he paid them and didn’t grumble. His integrity was impeccable. I never heard him lie and his eyes always demanded the same truth in return.

The mental snapshot of his character still fuels and energizes my life today. “Dad’s home!” I can still hear the door slam and the house quake.

This morning as I write this, Dad truly is “home” — in heaven. I look forward to seeing him again someday and saying thanks for the legacy he gave me, and mostly for being “my dad.”

But right now, you’ll have to pardon me, I miss him.

Copyright © 2004 by Dennis Rainey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Courageous men and dads are warriors who protect



As a husband and father, you are the warrior who has been charged with the duty of pushing back against the evil that seeks to prey on your wife, daughters, and sons. If you don’t step up, who will?

Courageous Men Step Up

FatherProtectFromMontageIt began as a shopping date with my daughter, Laura, who was 13 at the time. I never dreamed it would end the way it did.

Laura decided that she wanted to go where her older brothers and sisters went to shop at the time—

In the store, Laura found a beautiful baby blue sweater, and she went to the dressing room to try it on. While I was waiting I noticed a life-sized poster of a young man completely nude, leaning up on a boat dock knee deep in water. The shot was from behind, but I had not asked to see that guy chilling in his birthday suit.

I stood there looking at that poster, thinking that this was a clothing store, and how inappropriate that poster was for my daughter and other girls to see. Finally, I asked if I could please talk with the manager. The young man, who couldn’t have been over 30, came over and I greeted him with a smile. I shared with him that I had six children and was a good customer; then I said very kindly, “This picture … I’m sorry, but it’s just indecent.”  I thought I’d get agreement. Abercrombie and Fitch.

Instead he quipped, “I beg to differ with you, sir. By whose standards?”

A little stunned by his response, I replied with measured firmness, “By any standard of real morality.”

By that time, Laura had wandered back with her sweater. I pointed to the picture of the chiseled, buff-buddy’s buns, looked the manager squarely in the eyes, and said, “Sir, if that picture is not indecent, then I’d like you to drop your pants and get in a similar pose to that guy in the picture.”

He looked at the picture, then my daughter, and back at me. He looked like a deer in the headlights. There was a moment of silence, full of anticipation. Then he shook his head and said, “Huh-uh.”

I probably shouldn’t have pressed the point, but I added, “Come on, you said that picture is not indecent. Come on, drop ’em.”

“Huh-uh.”

I smiled and said, “You know, it’s a good thing you didn’t drop your pants, because you could have been arrested for indecent exposure.”

Then he replied, “Well, if you think that’s bad, you should see our catalog.”

So I went over and opened the catalog. One photo showed four teenage girls in bed with a boy; I’m not sure what they were advertising — maybe bedsheets — because none of them had clothes on. I pushed the catalog back and said, “I’d like you to take my name and phone number. I’d like someone from your corporate office to give me a call.”

To which he politely said, “Sir, I can take your name and address but they’re not interested. They really don’t care what you think.”

My response was kind, but firm: “I just want you to know I’m just one customer. I’m just a daddy of six kids, but I’ve got a lot of friends. And I want you to know that wherever I go, I’m going to use this episode as an illustration of a company that doesn’t care about the future of our young people, their morality, or the future of our nation.”

I figure I’ve shared the story with about five million people on various radio broadcasts, speaking at conferences, and in writing.

Courageous men protect

One of my favorite quotes, attributed to British politician Edmund Burke, is

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” 

When evil invades a man’s life and marriage, his children’s lives, his work, and his community, the easiest thing for him to do is nothing.

As a husband and father, you are the warrior who has been charged with the duty of pushing back against the evil that seeks to prey on your wife, daughters, and sons. If you don’t step up, who will?

When you think of protecting your family, perhaps the first things that come to mind are keeping your house locked, or holding on to your child’s hand on a crowded sidewalk, investigating a strange sound downstairs in the middle of the night, or teaching your children about what to do if the house is on fire. But as I’ve looked at my responsibilities as protector at home, I’ve realized that they go further. For example:

  • I have established boundaries to protect my marriage. I’m doing battle for my marriage when I don’t meet with a woman by myself unless the door is open or there is a window so that others can observe. I do not have lunch with other women alone. I do not travel alone in a car with other women. I copy my wife, Barbara, on e-mails written to women, and I don’t have private conversations with women on social websites without her knowing. At the same time, I do battle for my marriage by helping Barbara with household chores, taking her on dates and getaways, and spoiling her with an occasional gift to her liking.
  • I protected my children by training them in the choices they would make. I organized weekend getaways with both sons in their early teens to discuss peer pressure, dating, sex, pornography, alcohol, and more stuff the culture was throwing at them. I continued these conversations with my sons through the years — we even talked about things like dealing with girls who pursue them sexually, and what to do if they see a fight breaking out at school. In addition, Barbara and I made a big effort to get to know our kids’ friends — especially once they reached junior high and peer pressure kicked into high gear. We wanted to be aware of the good influences and the potential bad ones.
  • I protected my daughters by dating them and, later, by interviewing their dates. On these dates I showed them how a young man was to take care of them, what they should expect from a guy, and how to deal with sexual overtures. I explained why it was important to dress modestly, and I did it at an early age before they experienced much peer pressure on the issue. I met with their dates and made it clear to each young man that I expected him to keep his hands off my daughter.
  • I protected my family by working with Barbara to set up boundaries about media. We set standards on the types of films and television programs we would watch. We made rules about when and where they could access the internet, and talked about how to protect their privacy and how to guard against sexual predators. If I was a father with children at home today, I’d also be setting boundaries on cell phones, texting, and video games, and I’d install porn filters on all computers.

A trained warrior also has battlefield vision that anticipates the future.  He scans the horizon and assesses dangers that are coming so that he can prepare for them. And he realizes he is never off duty.

Courageous men are warriors in the community and boardroom

Not only does America need warriors at home, but it also needs men willing to use their influence to protect their communities and even the nation.

Like my friend, Scott Ford, former CEO of a large wireless phone network, who told me of the pressure he felt from stockholders who wanted to increase the company’s profits by putting pornography on the mobile phones they sell. Scott stood firm and many times stood alone.

Robert Rowling, whose holding company owns Omni Hotels, is another corporate warrior. He pulled all the pornography out of his hotels at a cost of more than $6 million, reasoning that if he didn’t want his sons to view that stuff, why should he make it possible for other men or their sons to stumble?

The Scriptures contain a simple admonition that men of all ages need to take to heart today:

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Men, we are in the midst of a cosmic conflict of good versus evil. Wars are made up of battles, and battles demand a few good men who assume the responsibility of warriors and fight.

Many of you are not corporate leaders, but you may have the opportunity to step up in other ways. Perhaps it will be taking a stand against deceptive practices in the company where you work, or speaking out against sexual harassment, or talking with your child’s teacher if he or she shows an inappropriate film during class.

It takes courage for a man to step out and push back against evil. It will mean that you don’t go with the flow. You can’t fight every battle, but you can get involved when opportunities come your way.

When men don’t step up, the cost of doing nothing means that indecency, immorality, and other aberrant behaviors become the new norm in the culture. Our children and grandchildren will pay the ultimate price if we turn our heads. When men are not warriors, when men don’t push back against evil with good, the evil we were meant to conquer turns around and preys upon us and our descendants (see Isaiah 59:11-15).

In all these various engagements with the culture and others, real men are firm, but gracious. Having convictions does not give a man the license to be rude or pummel another person with his beliefs. Truth and love must be kept in proper tension with one another.

Courageous men step out and into the battle

Be ready!  You never know when you will come face-to-face with an issue that demands courage and stepping up.

A number of years ago a couple of our teens attended a junior high dance. Barbara and I decided we’d drop in unexpectedly and check it out. As we entered the darkened dance floor we saw about 30 kids off in the darkest corner, doing a dance called “freaking.” Now if you haven’t seen this, trust me, it’s an imitation of intercourse, but with clothes on.

A handful of parents were huddled near a light in a corner watching, grousing and complaining about what they saw, but generally doing nothing.

I walked past the parents and went over and stood near the swaying crowd. I watched as two boys drew a young lady in between them. As I stood there deciding what to do, my palms grew clammy, sweating with anticipation. I thought, Here I am, a 45-year-old man, and I’m afraid of what a couple of pimple faced, 14-year-old boys think about me? 

I finally concluded, What they’re doing is absolutely indecent. It’s ridiculous for me to cave in to fear!

So I stepped into the crowd of “freaking” dancers and tapped one of the young men on the shoulder. I smiled sternly and told him to knock it off. I challenged him to treat the young lady with dignity and respect.

He had a very blank look on his face. I could see him thinking, Whatever… 

His response didn’t matter, because one small step had brought victory. Feeling more courageous, I approached another trio of gyrating teens and busted them up. I looked over my shoulder and a bunch of dads were now joining me.

Here’s the point, guys: God made us to pierce the darkness. He didn’t make us to fight every battle, but He did make us to stand for truth, to embrace standards. And when men don’t embrace beliefs they are paralyzed and neutralized by the culture. They won’t step forward and can’t step up because they don’t have the mandate of truth resonating in their souls. In the absence of real men pushing back against evil, the culture continues its downward spiral and becomes increasingly shameless and vulgar.

Do not be overcome by evil. Step up and kindly overcome evil with good.

Share a time when you stepped up, out, or into a situation as a man of courage and it made a difference …

 

You can hear Dennis Rainey on our radio program, FamilyLife Today.

Adapted by permission from Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood, ©2011 Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife Publishing.

Leaving and cleaving: How to leave your parents well



During the first year of marriage and for long afterward, it’s not easy to leave your parents while also honoring them.

Leave your parents - Stepping Up | FamilyLife | Dennis Rainey

A few weeks after their wedding, a young man came home to find his wife in tears. She told him that his father had called her and said, “I cannot believe you forgot my wife’s birthday.”  In the father’s mind, it was her responsibility to keep up with occasions like these — even birthdays for her in-laws.

The young man knew what he had to do. First he got on the phone with his mother and said, “Mom, I want to apologize for not sending you a birthday card or present.  I’m really sorry about that.” Then he asked to talk with his father.

“Dad, this is the only time I want to have this conversation with you,” the young man said.  “I never want you to do that to my wife again.  My loyalty now is to her, and if you have a problem with something I have done, then you need to talk to me.”

I wonder how many young husbands would have stepped up with that type of courage in similar circumstances?   What impresses me is that he honored his mother through his apology, but he also did not hesitate to let his father know he had overstepped his boundaries. And in the process, he let his new bride know that she was the new priority in his life.

Honor … and forsake

When we marry, we face a difficult balancing act with our parents.  On one hand, the fifth of the Ten Commandments tells us to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).  No matter what your age, you should honor your parents by spending time with them, thanking them for what they’ve done well, caring for them as necessary … and, yes, remembering their birthdays!

But then we look at Genesis 2:24, part of the narrative where God creates the institution of marriage.  This verse tells us, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  The Hebrew word for “leave” means to forsake, to leave behind, to literally let go.  As difficult as it may be, when you marry, you declare to the world, “No other person on earth is more important to me than my spouse.”  Your spouse becomes a higher priority than your parents.

So how do you balance leaving your parents while also honoring them?  Here are a few suggestions:

1. When you marry, determine to set up your own home and family.

This means more than physically living apart from your parents; it also involves setting your own schedule, creating your own family traditions, and establishing your own values and priorities.

Early in marriage, one of the most common points of conflict with in-laws is holidays.  Where will you spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or other occasions?  It is difficult for many to accept the fact that those holidays will never be the same as they were.  Talk with your parents well ahead of these occasions about possibilities.  Be creative and flexible, and urge your parents to do the same.  And in the future, when you have children of your own, there may come a time when you ask your parents to begin coming to your home for these holidays.

2. Pull away from dependence upon your parents.  

One of the most common problems you will face as a newly married couple will be the temptation to allow parents to bail you out of financial difficulty.  I know of one couple that kept turning to the wife’s parents to bail them out after poor financial choices.  As a result, the husband was not forced to step up to his responsibility to provide for his family and to live with the consequences of poor choices.  It undermined his self-respect as a man, and his wife was losing her respect for him as well.

It’s also important to pull away from emotional dependence.  Some couples are so accustomed to consulting their parents, for example, that they feel uncomfortable making decisions on their own.  There’s nothing wrong with getting advice — the problem comes when they doubt their ability to make good decisions independently.  This also means being willing for you or your spouse to make bad decisions and learning from your mistakes … just like your parents did when they were young.

3. Look for opportunities to spend time with your parents.

Remember how difficult it is for them to let you go.  And for single parents, the loss can be even more wrenching. Leaving does not mean withdrawing from them; that’s abandonment, not leaving.

If you live far away from your parents, you will need to make a special effort to visit them on a regular basis during weekends, vacations, etc.  This will involve flexibility and sometimes sacrifice, but that’s part of the commitment you make when you join another family.

4. Don’t allow them to manipulate you.

This is one of the most difficult issues to address.  Your parents know you well, and they know what buttons to push so you will do what they want.  And sometimes they don’t even realize how they are being manipulative.  At times you will need to lovingly confront them to establish your independence.

5.  Protect each other.

Don’t criticize your spouse to your parents, and defend your spouse when your parents are critical.  If you are having a conflict, don’t get advice from them.

I once made the mistake of making a negative comment about Barbara to my mother. It was not a major issue, and I soon forgot it — but she didn’t.  For years she brought up that comment occasionally, and I realized I had not protected Barbara as I should have.

For many of you, the act of leaving your parents will be one of the most difficult steps of your life.  But it’s a vital step in the process of growing up and establishing your own home.

Copyright ©2013 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

Men should be investors not consumers



Men were made to invest — to add value, to protect and make life better for others.

man smashing piggybank

Do you know any men who pout or whine when their wife’s idea of frequent sex is different than theirs?

Do you know any men who only go on dates when their wife sets one up?

What makes more than a few young men devote massive amounts of time to video games and social media?

How many husbands need stimulation from more and more porn while their physical intimacy with their wife dwindles away?

Why can many young guys hook up with girls, but not have the courage to ask them on a date or navigate a constructive relationship?

What’s causing so much perpetual adolescence among guys in their late 20s and late 50s?

God has answers to these questions which drive us to passionately reach and disciple men.

We’re facing a crisis in our culture. It’s urgent! When a boy stays a boy for life … when a man doesn’t know what it is to be a man … when he uses girls and women like property … when he fathers kids outside of marriage … when his marriage breaks up … the price paid is compounded for women, children, and society.

Men don’t need to be attacked, however. They need to be welcomed into a Christian fellowship of other men, where manhood can be bestowed. They need to see and learn the manhood model of Jesus, while in the company of friends and mentors.

Men have been tricked, and we need to help them break free from the lies and false vision of manhood. One key cause for the counterfeit versions of manhood and sorry state of marriages today is one we can beat only if we identify it. We need to understand our identity as consumers and rebuild a new identity as investors.

Think about it. Most of us Americans see over 500 advertisements a day. We are trained by Madison Avenue and Hollywood to be consumers and pleasure seekers. It makes us petty, selfish, and little.

Investors not consumers

But men were made to invest — to add value, to protect and make life better for others.  Doing that in marriage for your wife, whom you are to cherish, makes you and your children much happier over time.

In defining manhood and leading men, we need to square up and tackle the passive, selfish, small vision of manhood that shapes boys and men into the mold of “consumer.”  Men want a vision to create something significant, battle for something good, and love a woman and family heroically.

That won’t be possible with a small consumer identity.  We need to wake men up to the devil’s and society’s trick.  God made us to be investors.

Consider pro football.  In the quarterback meeting room and in drills they teach Joe Flacco, Colin Kaepernick, and Drew Brees to throw the ball to receivers in a target diameter of one foot, perfectly serving the receiver so he need not stretch, bend, jump or dive. And they teach wide receivers, “If you can touch it, you must catch it.” Make the quarterback and the team look good. Lay out. Sacrifice. Those are investor mentalities.

Let’s break the consumer mold, call men up to being relationship investors — guys who protect the weak, bring out the best in others, and love unconditionally. Galatians 5 tells us we were called to freedom, not so we could feed our fleshly desires but so we could serve one another — to love our neighbor. It warns that if we are selfish in our flesh and relationships, we’ll be consumed ourselves.  Philippians 2 tells us to be like Jesus and look out for the interests of others, not just self.

Men investing in other men will help us all rediscover the model of manhood: Jesus, the ultimate relationship investor.

 

Jeff Kemp quarterbacked for 11 years in the NFL.  He is a vice-president and “HomeBulder Catalyst” for FamilyLife, speaking to men and equipping men’s group discipleship with FamilyLife’s DVD men’s experience, Stepping Up™.   You can reach Jeff at jkemp@familylife.com.

 

Copyright 2013 by FamilyLife.  All rights reserved.

Jackie Robinson’s story: becoming a mentor (conclusion)



This is the third and final part in the Jackie Robinson Story as carried in the book, Stepping UpBe sure to read parts one and two if you missed them.

20/20 generational vision

photo from www.britannica.com

photo from www.britannica.com

Jackie Robinson wasn’t forced to become the man to integrate Major League Baseball. Branch Rickey could have found another player, and it certainly would have been more comfortable for Robinson to follow someone else’s lead. He had the ability, however, to look beyond himself. Someone needed to make the sacrifice. Someone needed to blaze the trail so that others in the future would have equal opportunities.

I think that many of us men face a similar choice as we reach our thirties, forties, and fifties. We may never face the intense opposition that confronted Robinson, but I believe we are called to look beyond ourselves to the impact we can have on the next generation.

Becoming a mentor

Becoming a mentor is the fourth of the five steps of manhood. Some guys can see clearly where they are in life, but they haven’t developed the ability, like Robinson did, to look past themselves. A mentor, on the other hand, exhibits “20/20 generational vision.” He sees the need to pass on his faith and his experience to “faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

A mentor makes decisions and orders his life to intentionally invest in the next generation. A mentor must pass on his values — lessons learned from his mistakes, successes, and defeats — the essence of his life. He intentionally passes on wisdom to the next generation and casts a vision for how they can do the same.

It’s possible to step up and become a mentor when you are a young man, especially if you are put in a position of authority or influence over others. But in this section, I’m going to speak primarily to those of you who are entering what I call the “prime time” years.

Most younger men pour their physical and emotional energy into building their careers, raising their families, and being involved in church or community. Once their children leave home, I’ve often seen men head in one of three directions:

  1. They pour their energy into a renewed effort to capitalize on their position and experience and seek further success and influence in the working world.
  2. Perhaps fearing the onset of older age, they regress and try to recapture their youth by seeking adventure and sensual pleasure.
  3. Realizing that they won’t achieve the wealth and success they had dreamed about in their careers, they gradually become depressed and passive and end up squandering the assets God has given them.

But there is a better path — a path of wisdom. Many men in the prime time years recognize that they now have the time and energy to broaden their influence and impact for Christ by mentoring younger men.

If you are at this stage in life, my challenge to you is to step up and become a mentor. You’ll find the “view” from this step to be quite exhilarating.

Excerpted with permission from Stepping Up, by Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife Publishing.

Major League trailblazer — Jackie Robinson story (part two)



Yesterday, we started the courageous story of Jackie Robinson as shared in Stepping Up.  Today, we continue the story in part two …

Stepping Up FamilyLife Jackie Robinson sliding-2

photo from http://www.myhero.com/

Handling the pressure

Rickey turned out to be an accurate prophet. After a successful year in the minor leagues, Robinson made his major-league debut as the Dodgers’ first baseman in April of 1947. The first resentment he faced was from his own teammates. They didn’t like the idea of a black player taking a white man’s spot on the roster. Many were from the south and weren’t accustomed to equal treatment for blacks.

Dixie Walker, one of the top Brooklyn players, worried about the reaction back home in Hueytown, Alabama, if he played with blacks. He feared how it would affect business at his hardware and sporting-goods store. “I grew up in the South, and in those days you grew up in a different manner,” Walker said years later. “We thought that blacks didn’t have ice water in their veins and so [they] couldn’t take the pressure of playing big league baseball.”

On opening day, most of the players ignored Robinson. He arrived in the locker room to discover that he hadn’t been assigned a locker; his uniform was hanging on a hook on the wall.

Robinson’s first real test occurred in a three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies. A flood of insults poured out of the Philadelphia dugout during the game. The Phillies insulted his appearance and yelled about the diseases he would pass on to the Dodger players and their wives.

Robinson took insults like these personally. “For one wild and rage-crazed minute,” he wrote later, “I thought, ‘To hell with Mr. Rickey’s noble experiment.’ I thought what a glorious, cleansing thing it would be to let go. To hell with the image of the patient black freak I was supposed to create. I would throw down my bat, stride over to the Phillies dugout, grab one of those white sons of bitches and smash his teeth in with my despised black fist. Then I could walk away from it all.”

But Robinson withstood the temptation that day . . . and for the entire season. Instead, he let his playing speak for him. It was more than his hitting and fielding, which improved throughout the season. He also disrupted the opposing team with his daring base running. He would take impossibly big leads off base, throwing pitchers out of their rhythm and shaking their confidence. This led to more walks and better pitches for his teammates to hit. He could take over a game even if he never got a hit.

Still, he paid a price for holding back his emotions. At home he became withdrawn from his wife, Rachel, and found it difficult to sleep. At one point he called his sister and said, “I can’t take it anymore. I’m quitting.”

He received almost no support from his teammates, who excluded him from social outings and hardly spoke to him on road trips. The players’ wives met regularly for shopping, knitting, and impromptu sleepovers, but Rachel was never invited.

Rooting for Jackie Robinson

But as the season progressed, things began to change. His teammates began yelling in his defense at opposing teams, threatening retaliation if the insults continued. He was greeted by well-wishers and autograph seekers wherever he went. White kids began selling, “I’m rooting for Jackie Robinson” buttons at Ebbets Field.

Most of the letters the Dodgers received were encouraging. One fan wrote, “You’ve got a lot more friends in this country of ours than enemies. The main thing to remember is that it’s the unthinking few who generally make the biggest noise.” Another said, “If your batting average never gets any higher than .100 and if you make an error every inning, [and] if I can raise my boy to be half the man that you are, I’ll be a happy father.”

Robinson also began to see the impact he was having on the culture. An owner of an electronics factory in New Jersey, for example, was inspired by Robinson’s example and decided to integrate his factory.

Late in the season, Brooklyn fans were angered when Enos Slaughter of the St. Louis Cardinals appeared to deliberately step on Robinson’s foot at first base. One fan, Doug Wilder, was at the game that day, and he felt this may have been Robinson’s greatest moment “in showing how he would rise over and over to be the person he was. . . . It was a tremendous lesson.”  Later in life, Wilder went into politics in Virginia and became the first African American in the United States to become a governor.

Robinson was named the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 1947, and he helped lead the Dodgers to the World Series, where they lost to the New York Yankees. After the final game of the series, each of his teammates came by his locker to congratulate him for the season.

He had succeeded in integrating the major leagues; in fact, by the end of the 1947 season, there were other black players in baseball. But his greatest impact may have been in the broader American culture. As Arnold Rampersad wrote in his biography of Robinson,

Over a period of six months, from the first stumbling steps to the victories that closed the season, he had revolutionized the image of black Americans in the eyes of many whites. Starting out as a token, he had utterly complicated their sense of the nature of black people, how they thought and felt, their dignity and their courage in the face of adversity. No black American man had ever shone so brightly for so long as the epitome not only of stoic endurance but also of intelligence, bravery, physical power, and grit. Because baseball was lodged so deeply in the average white man’s psyche, Robinson’s protracted victory had left an intimate mark there.

Final post tomorrow…

Excerpted with permission from Stepping Up, by Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife Publishing.

My cure for Easter apathy



Remembering what God has done in my life helped me to recapture my awe of the meaning of Easter.

This is Easter week, a time for celebrating the glory of God and the fulfillment of His plan for salvation. The ultimate sacrifice of His Son to pay the penalty for our sins.

I know my heart should soar as I contemplate the death of Christ and His resurrection. But sometimes I feel strangely apathetic.

familylife stepping up dennis rainey - easter apathy

I find myself at a curious stage in life. I’ve walked with Christ for many years, and the sameness of weekly and yearly routines can lead to a creeping indifference. Sometimes every sermon, every prayer, every song seems like a rehash of what I’ve heard before. Been there, done that.

Last week I was in the midst of one of these moods when an odd thought came to me:

Where would you be today if Christ had not come into your life?

And immediately I knew the answer.

I would be lost.

Remembering who I am

For the first time in many years, I opened up the journal I kept in college. I started it during my freshman year to practice writing and to record my thoughts about my experiences as a student at the University of Missouri.  Reading the journal today is like going back in time; I see a portrait of young man who enjoyed his college years yet also struggled with choices and relationships and setbacks.

In the spring of my freshman year I wrote:

The last few days I’ve been coming to some realizations about myself, especially about myself and religion. … I’ve gained a basic belief in God, but it doesn’t mean that much to me. And I want it to. It seems like I’ve been getting farther and farther away from God.

I had grown up going to church, but little had sunk in. I didn’t doubt the existence of God, but I had no idea of how to relate to Him. To me, the Bible was merely a collection of interesting stories, and I had no idea whether Jesus really was the Son of God.

The young man I see in these journal entries had no real beliefs or convictions, no anchor, no direction or sense of purpose.  A year later I went through a brief time of depression, and my only remedy was to increase my training for an intramural half-mile race. In the middle of that period, however, I heard a speaker named Josh McDowell present a message on campus about evidence for the truth of the Scriptures. That sparked some reading of my own, and I acknowledged that the Bible was not only a trustworthy historical document but also the revealed Word of God.

I once was lost but now I’m found

Then the scales fell from my eyes, and I understood the gospel for the first time. I recognized my sin and rebellion against God, and I realized why Christ died for those sins.  In my journal I wrote:

I finally asked Jesus Christ to enter into my heart and guide my life, and I thanked Him for forgiving my sins. There was no bright light flashing, no loud voice proclaiming that I was saved, or anything like that. No great changes have been made in the last two days. But changes will be made …

It is probably the most important decision I will ever make.

At the time I thought I had found God. The truth is He found me.  I suppose that’s why my favorite line in the hymn “Amazing Grace” is, “I once was lost, but now I’m found.”

The cure

So where would I be without Christ in my life?  I’d be on a different road. My heart tells me that, no matter what happened in my professional life, I would have grown into a very unhappy man, drifting with the currents of our culture with no anchor for my soul.

I can’t imagine how I would have maintained a solid marriage. I’m not saying it would have been impossible; I just know my heart, and I know I would have made some destructive choices.

For me, the cure for the sickness of Easter Apathy is remembering what He has done in my life. God knew I once was lost and unable to find Him by my own effort, and He took the initiative to send His Son to pay the penalty for my sin. He made me a new creature, and gave me a new life. Everything I enjoy today — my ministry, my marriage, my children — is a gift from Him.

That’s the miracle of Easter.

 

This article originally appeared in the March 29, 2010 issue of Marriage Memo, a weekly e-newsletter.  To subscribe free to Marriage Memo and other FamilyLife e-newsletters, click here.  For the Marriage Memo archives, click here.

6 gifts you can give your spouse to help overcome fear



At our house, we have experienced plenty of failures, both great and small. For years, a meal without a spill was nothing short of miraculous. The milk may have gone shooting across the supper table or formed a lazy river that cascaded over the edge, splattering onto the floor. We’ve seen some classic spills: two simultaneously, four at one sitting, and one glass of chilled apple juice that spilled perfectly into Dennis’s shoe (while he was wearing it). Our favorite phrase for the children became, “It’s okay. Everybody makes mistakes.”

One evening, I (Dennis) spilled my drink during dinner. A little hand patted my arm, and Rebecca (then a five-year-old) reassuringly said, “It’s okay, Dad. Everybody makes mistakes.”

It’s comforting to know that we are not alone in our failures. Others, too, have needed and claimed God’s forgiveness when they failed. King David failed through his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. Peter failed by denying Christ. Thomas doubted. Saul (Paul) assisted in the murder of Stephen.

Yet none of these lives represented total failure. Each of these men sought forgiveness. They didn’t give up. They kept on. They left a track record of faithfulness in spite of personal foul-ups.

Giving your spouse the freedom from fear of failure

Men Stepping Up blog -http://www.flickr.com/photos/josefgrunig/ Freedom

What is the solution for the fear of failure? How do you encourage a partner whose feelings of failure are triggered by the most insignificant of circumstances? We have found that one of the most powerful principles in building one another’s self-esteem is: Give your mate the freedom to fail.

When you give your mate the freedom to fail, you begin to remove the pressure to perform for acceptance. You free your mate to overcome fear and to take risks and try again. You free her to excel. Failure then becomes a tutor, not a judge. In the presence of freedom, we learn from failures instead of being intimidated by them. In the absence of condemnation, confidence in how God can use you mounts.

If you would like to give your mate the freedom to fail, we recommend six gifts you can give that will begin to release her and help her in overcoming fear. Keep in mind that you, too, will possibly fail by taking back some of these gifts. That’s okay. Failure is a part of learning for both of you.

1. The Gift of Compassion

Every person’s life has a context. During her childhood, your mate may not have experienced a relationship in which she had freedom to fail. Perhaps her “failures” taught her to expect rejection, disapproval, and anger from those in authority. She may have learned to feel that rejection is the natural consequence of failure.

Parents, coaches, teachers, peers, boyfriends, girlfriends, siblings, and other significant people gave her a personal heritage of either success or failure. The more you fully grasp the context of your mate’s journey to adulthood and express compassion for where your mate has been, the more freedom your mate will feel to admit failures to you.

Whatever her background, your mate needs your compassionate, consistent, and tireless belief in her. Talk about the context of her life and together gain understanding of past mistakes as well as present ones. Don’t leave your mate alone to deal with her failures. Tell her that you are unlike those who have rejected her; your commitment is unwavering and your love is consistent, despite her imperfections. In this climate of compassion and patience, she will begin to feel free to take risks and to fail without fear of rejection.

2. The Gift of Continual Affirmation

Years ago, I (Barbara) drove to the grocery store and accidentally backed our van into a couple’s newly painted Camaro, denting it slightly. I felt so foolish, and my apologies didn’t make the dent go away. Understandably, the car’s owners were not happy and insisted on calling the county sheriff’s office.

I called Dennis, and as I waited for him to arrive, I wondered what he would think and say. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t be upset with me, but I speculated for a while.

When he joined me at the store, he assured me that everything would be fine — that in the end it didn’t really matter. We both knew I had made a mistake, and it would have accomplished nothing for him to drive home a moral lesson or give me some driving tips. I needed to experience his approval, and I needed to know he wasn’t angry with me. He affirmed me, and I felt like pieces of a puzzle coming together.

Henry Ward Beecher wrote, “Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation.” One of our favorite verses, 1 Peter 4:8, says it best: “Love covers a multitude of sins.” Continuous, ongoing, unbroken approval in the face of many mistakes and failures of life will build your mate’s self-esteem to overcome fear and failure.

3. The Gift of Perspective

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” As partners in the pilgrimage of life, we are responsible to speak the truth to one another in order to help balance our perspective of failure.

Understanding the truth of God’s sovereign rule — that He is in control — brings an eternal view to your mate’s mistakes. The promise of Romans 8:28 — “God causes all things to work together for good” — beautifully illustrates His absolute supremacy. These words offer comfort, reminding us that nothing is wasted in His economy. God can use even our mistakes and failures. Encourage your mate to believe God and, as a couple, ask Him to use your failures for good.

4. The Gift of Disassociation

Most people don’t realize they can fail and not be a failure. They have not learned to separate their worth as persons from their performance. Many find it difficult to have their ideas, work, or accomplishments criticized. They feel that others are criticizing and rejecting who they are, not just what they have done.

A teacher told one mother that her son was not a good student. “He can’t learn,” said the teacher. “He’ll never amount to much.” But the mother chose to believe in her son rather than listening to the voice of this “authority.” As a result, that young man grew up in a home of loving acceptance, secure in the knowledge that he was a person of value.

In spite of all this, he continued to fail. In fact, he failed ten thousand times on one project before he, Thomas Alva Edison, perfected the electric light bulb. His close association with failure caused Edison to comment, “I failed my way to success.” His mother’s belief in him was the human fuel for his inventive spirit.

How can you help your mate learn to fail without feeling like a failure? Try not to discuss a problem in your marriage or family with accusing words such as, “You never …” or, “Your ideas are always …” Those kinds of extreme statements verbally link your mate with her performance, insinuating that she is a failure. Instead, use your words with discernment to help her see the distinction between her person-hood and her performance.

When you discuss issues with your mate, begin by expressing your commitment and loyalty to her as a person. Then give your mate the benefit of the doubt. Remove the accusing edge by saying, “I may be wrong, but did you …” or “I feel that …” or “It would help me a lot if you would … (fill the car with gas, balance the checkbook, pick up your socks, etc.).”

Tell her the truth: She is loved by you, esteemed and valued by God, gifted, and yet limited. Call to mind her past accomplishments. Most importantly, help your mate separate herself from her failures. Focus on her as a person, too, not just on her performance. When your mate knows how to handle failure without being a failure, she truly has the freedom to fail.

5. The Gift of Encouraging Decisive Living

Many times in life, we fail not because we make the wrong decision but because we make no decision at all. Seeking safety and security, we escape to the seemingly trouble-free world of procrastination and indecision. Never venturing out of our protective covering of indecision, we avoid risking a wrong decision that might end in failure. We decide not to decide.

You can strengthen your mate by helping her understand that a risk-free life is also a potentially boring and selfish life. By eliminating risk, we eliminate many pleasures, too. Security and safety are not found in hiding from reality and responsibility. In fact, the opposite is true. Failure ultimately looms on the horizon for the person who avoids the decision-making process. She is riding a fence with both feet firmly planted in midair — there is little stability.

6. The Gift of Forgiveness

The effects of failure can be disarmed through the miracle of forgiveness. Pure and free, forgiveness gives us something we often don’t deserve. This is how God relates to us as His children. He gives us love when we deserve punishment. Forgiveness says, “I choose to accept you fully, just as you are, and I will neither reject you nor remind you of your failures.”

Forgive your mate when her error has affected you. Urge her to receive God’s forgiveness and to forgive herself, if necessary. The act of forgiveness opens the door to healing.

Paul has some good advice: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” He also writes, “Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against any one, just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”

Whatever the situation, mistakes carry a price tag. The price can be extra work, suffering, financial expense — or all three. Perhaps your mate’s failure caused you to be late, which you hate. Maybe her failure cost her a bonus, which you were counting on to buy a new loveseat. Because of your partnership in marriage, your mate’s mistakes and failures will affect you to some degree. When you forgive your mate’s failures, you give up your right to punish. Forgiveness is an act of the will — a deliberate choice that means you will not retaliate when you feel the other person has wronged you. True forgiveness doesn’t throw your mate’s failures up to her or use them to hurt her.

The gift of forgiveness is not just in giving forgiveness, but in asking for it when you’re wrong. Whether you’re 90 percent in the wrong or only 10 percent, asking for forgiveness takes the logs out of the fire. Verbalize it. Be specific. And don’t fudge. Some people try to weasel out of their responsibility so they won’t have to admit they were wrong. But in doing so, they miss the benefits of forgiveness.

Forgiveness stands with the open arms of a loving relationship ready to embrace. It is illogical for your mate to resist such an aggressive love. By removing the fear of rejection, you give your mate renewed hope to keep trying without fear of failure.

Excerpted from Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. ©1995 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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