I’ve been reading, again, a book that stirred, invigorated, and challenged me several years ago. Dr. Larry Crabb’s Shattered Dreams is a wise, hopeful, honest, and realistic examination of life’s difficulties and tragedies – our shattered dreams.
Dealing with a chronic illness marriage or any other loss in your life can be a genuine test of what really matters to you, what lurks in your soul and mind, the dreams you have or had. Dr. Crabb writes that “shattered dreams are never random. They are a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a larger story.”
From the narrative of Naomi in the Bible’s book of Ruth, Dr. Crabb has learned six lessons – hard ones, wonderful ones, lessons that must be learned if we are to fulfill our true destiny. Necessary lessons if we are to grow into people with peace and power and unspeakable joy no matter what our circumstances. I share them here for your consideration. I recommend you get the book for more insights on these lessons.
Lesson #1 – Shattered dreams are necessary for spiritual growth.
Lesson #2 – Something wonderful survives everything terrible, and it surfaces most clearly when we hurt.
Lesson #3 – Some dreams important to us will shatter, and the realization that God could have fulfilled that dream pushes us into a terrible battle with Him.
Lesson #4 – Only an experience of deep pain develops our capacity for recognizing and enjoying true life.
Lesson #5 – Not many Christians drink deeply from the well of living water. As a result, our worship, our community, and our witness are weak.
Lesson #6 – No matter what happens in life, a wonderful dream is available, always, that if pursued will generate an unfamiliar, radically new internal experience. That experience, strange at first, will eventually be recognized as joy.
As I re-read Shattered Dreams, my sense of what really matters, what I truly long for, my dreams for this life, are being upended. I’m being forced to honestly and radically trust God as He redirects my focus, my loves, and my dreams.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
The seemingly routine moments of your day can be more meaningful when you have a desire to communicate with your spouse.
For instance, what’s it like when you come home at the end of the day? Do you greet each other with warm words or with complaints?
Did you know that the first four minutes you are together will set the tone for the rest of the evening? It’s true! A loving greeting, a tender kiss, or a lingering embrace will help set the environment for love talk.
One busy husband found it helpful to use his long commute home to talk to his wife on his cell phone (using the hands-free attachment, of course). They discussed the day’s events and prepared to reconnect at home. It turned their previously frustrating re-entry time into a more pleasant experience.
Let’s talk: How do you use the “routine” moments of the day to communicate with your spouse? Please leave a comment below.
The way you relate to God shapes your motivation in building a healthy relationship with your spouse. Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Marriage, has greatly encouraged Cindy and me. We have read it separately, studied it together with other couples, passed it on to others, and continue to find it beneficial. In a devotional book based on Sacred Marriage, he writes about our spiritual motivation to build a great marriage:
It all comes down to this: Are you a God-centered spouse or a spouse-centered spouse? A spouse-centered spouse acts nicely toward her husband when he acts nicely toward her. She is accommodating, as long as her husband pays her attention. A spouse-centered husband will go out of his way for his wife, as long as she remains agreeable and affectionate. He’ll romance her, as long as he feels rewarded for doing so.
A God-centered spouse feels more motivated by his or her commitment to God than by whatever response a spouse may give.
God-centered spouses are more satisfied in their marriages. They consistently rate their marriages as stronger and more satisfying spiritually, emotionally, socially, and sexually. The source of that strength is seen in this verse, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). You, your spouse, and God form an unbreakable cord. As long as you hear and obey His words, your marriage will be all that He designed it to be.
Let’s talk: Do your spiritual values make a difference in your marriage? Please leave a comment below.
Couples let many things intrude on their marriage relationship – careers, hobbies, friends, and even children. So much energy is put into these other roles; there is nothing left for their relationship.
In time, they stop playing, laughing, touching, and communicating with each other. The sad thing is that these couples settle for a functional relationship, putting aside the romance, passion, and intimacy of marriage. They may live under the same roof and sleep in the same bed, but their marriage is lost in the myriad duties and demands of daily life.
To keep love alive in your marriage, you must give top priority to maintaining a loving relationship with your spouse.
If your work or even your children have become the primary focus of your life, you need to refocus on your spouse, rather than looking to another individual or group of people to meet your emotional needs.
Each area of your life must be put into proper perspective. Whatever is important to you in this life, other than your relationship with God, should be less important than your marriage.
There is much to enjoy and do in this life, but don’t forget to be married.
Let’s talk: How have you protected your marriage from becoming more than a functional relationship? (I appreciate your comments below.)
Cecil Osborne wrote in The Art of Understanding Your Mate, “There are many reasons for the breakup of marriages, but the most common one is never found in divorce complaints: both of the marriage partners are waiting for each other to meet their needs.”
A vital tool in building a great marriage is mutual servanthood, or becoming a host. It’s one of the fundamental things that makes a marriage work and last for a lifetime. When you are a guest, everything is done for you. You feel no sense of responsibility or initiative. It’s nice to be a guest, to be entertained and pampered, just to relax, indulge, and enjoy.
However, if each marriage partner is hoping to be a guest, expecting the other to exercise initiative for his or her benefit, there will be big trouble. Both will be disappointed. The marriage becomes stale, loses its attractiveness, and an affair becomes tempting.
In a great marriage, each spouse focuses on becoming a host, not a guest in the relationship.
Let’s talk: What are your thoughts about being a host in your marriage? (I appreciate your comments below.)
Adjusting to each other does not mean you have to understand your spouse fully. I will never understand how Cindy, my wife, can adoringly hold a mouse in her hands, but let out the most horrific scream when she sees a spider on the other side of the room. She will never understand why I don’t enjoy swimming as much as she does.
A spouse’s willingness to adjust comes from a heart that is grateful for the strengths that exist, rather than frustrated by what is missing. It can be difficult at times to accept your spouse with all of his or her unique and individual traits. When you think about it, those are probably the very attributes that first attracted you to each other. Making adjustments in your attitude about your spouse will result in respect and thanksgiving.
Let’s talk: What is your secret to marital adjustments? (I appreciate your comments below.)
Words are powerful. Your words can bring either life or death to your marriage. Before you speak, it is wise to ask, Will this be helpful or hurtful? I am not saying that we should avoid important issues that every married couple must face, but we are to be wise in how we navigate those minefields. The Bible says, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (Proverbs 17:28).
Let’s talk: How have words influenced your marriage? (I appreciate your comments below.)