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Integrating Compassion with the Wisdom of God’s Word

askauntdara@gmail.com


The purpose of Aunt Dara’s Christian Advice Column is to glorify God by addressing human needs with compassion and the wisdom of God’s word.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Is it Time to Give up on Love?


Dear Aunt Dara, 

I am 26 years old and I have never been in a relationship nor have I been on a real date or even been kissed.  Though I may not be the world's most beautiful woman, I am not ugly.  I have a good personality and many supportive friends and family.  I have many great qualities, and I thought being single wasn't such a bad thing.  All my life I have had great guy friends, but I have never been pursued by any.  On several occasions, these friends seemed to date everyone in my friend (and even family) circles, but never expressed an interest for me. 

I have had many sleepless nights and teary eyes trying to figure out my problem.  What is so wrong with me that no one could love me?  As I watch my siblings sustain their relationships and began to marry, I can feel the sting.  My parents and siblings tell me I am too picky and that my standards are too high, and that may be somewhat true.  I have never had a guy knocking at my door wanting to date me.  What is the problem?  What makes me so un-loveable?  At this point, is it time to give up on love? 

Single Gal

Dear Single Gal,

Please do not lower your standards just to get a boyfriend or husband.  You may get a boyfriend sooner by doing that, but not the one that God has intended for you.  A man who is worth having is one who is worth the wait.  Sometimes God brings the right man into our lives when we are very young, and sometimes He doesn't bring the right man into our lives until we are much older.  If you try to hurry things by lowering your standards, you will get a sub-standard man.  Is that the kind of man that you want to spend the rest of your life with?  Is that the kind of man that you want to be the father of your children?  Probably not.

Please do not blame yourself because God has not brought the right man into your life yet.  You are loved, very much, and God sees your tears.  Being loved by the right man has nothing to do with how pretty you are.  Every woman is precious and beautiful in the eyes of the man who loves her.  You are precious and beautiful in God's eyes, so let Him love you.  Then, if God wills, He will make you precious and beautiful in the eyes of the man who is right for you.

Don't rush it.  Don't compromise your standards.  Don't settle for a sub-standard man.   For more information, please refer to my posting on 8/16/2012 titled "Wondering when she will meet her Future Husband."

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Trying to Keep Peace in the Family by Keeping Secrets

Dear Aunt Dara, 

I'm praying about this and know things will work out but, I could really use some additional advice.  I'm 17 years old and have been dealing with my parents divorce since I was 5.  My parents have a really extreme divorce case where they have been in and out of court constantly for 12 years.  I'm sure in some lawyer’s office practically my whole childhood is documented.  Recently I was using my dad's computer and I accidentally saw that he had been looking at very vulgar pornography.  I quickly turned away but I saw some pretty mentally scaring things.  Since he is my dad and also a father to three daughters I felt disgusted, confused, upset, and angry that he could do such a thing.  It wasn't a one-time thing either.  There have been many times where he has forgotten to wipe the history and so it showed those websites when I opened a new tab.  Since this whole thing is highly upsetting and extremely awkward, I obviously didn't want to confront him about it.  So I tried to forget about it and I did a pretty good job, until it started happening more frequently and the images got more vulgar.  So one day when I was alone in the car with my mom, I told her about it.  It was really bothering me and I wanted to talk about it and try to make sense of it all.  I made her promise not to use it against him in court, and to not tell anyone about it.  

She didn't say anything to anyone until a few weeks later when my younger sister (15 years old) said something to my mom about it.  Then my mom was extremely concerned that my other younger sister (12 years old) would see it too by accident.  So without telling me she emailed my dad.  She was very vague in her email and told him that if he had anything inappropriate or unsettling on his computer that he should be careful about hiding it so that we didn’t see anything.  She told him she wouldn't use it in court and not to mention it to any of us.  However, the first thing he did upon receiving this email was call my 12-year-old sister and ask her about the email my mom sent him.  She had no idea what he was talking about so she answered honestly that she didn't know.  After that call my mom told my 15-year-old sister and me that she had sent an email to my dad and what it said.  We were upset because we felt our trust was betrayed, but as time wore on I was less upset about it.  

Part of me wants this to be fixed and for him to know that what he's doing is disgusting and wrong and devaluing other people's daughters.  However, that is not a conversation I want to have with him. Then a couple days later when I was on the phone with him he asked me if I found anything at his house that I was mad or upset about.  I had to respond quickly and I had no idea what to do, so I did something terrible and I lied.  I told him no.  He asked, "Are you sure?"  I replied, “Yes.”  I felt awful to have sinned and lied, but I still have no idea what the proper way to handle that situation would have been.  He also asked me not to tell my mom that he asked me that question.  I want to tell her, but I don't think it would be productive.  I just need advice.  I'm also torn about whether to do anything or not.  This is an issue that has always been close to my heart and I'm passionate about it.  So, it just bothers me to my core that my own father could do something like this and I am doing nothing to stand up against it.  How should I handle this the way God would want me to?  I really don't want this all to blow up in my face, but doing nothing is eating away at me.  Thank you for taking time out to read this it means a lot to me.

 Sincerely,
Upset and clueless 

Dear Upset and Clueless,

Hopefully your parents will have worked this issue out between themselves.  However, you have asked for additional advice from me, and I do have some advice for you and your sisters. You and your sisters should never have become involved in your parents' divorce, their apparent on-going animosity toward each other, and their continuous court battles.  That your parents have placed you and your sisters in this situation is both harmful and wrong.  You and your sisters are NOT responsible for keeping peace between your parents.  You are not responsible for fixing this or any other situation with your parents with which you have become involved.  You should resolve from this day forward to refuse to be used as a go-between, an advocate, or a peacemaker between your parents.  You and your sisters should never be placed in a position where you are pitting one parent against the other or made to feel as if you are being disloyal to one parent or the other.  This means that you should never be made to testify in court against one of your parents, nor should you be placed in a position where you are managing the responsibility for any evidence that one of your parents could use against the other.

As a psychotherapist, I work with a treatment team that consists of myself, the psychiatrist, the nurse, and the case manager.  I tell my clients when they come in for therapy that what they tell me during sessions is confidential, but with limitations.  I am mandated to report some things, such as child abuse or neglect.  I tell them that if they are suicidal or homicidal, nothing they tell me is confidential at that point because I will reveal whatever is necessary to assure their safety or the safety others.  Then I let them know that I work on a treatment team and I say, "I do not keep secrets from the treatment team.  Anything that is important for other members of the treatment team to know, I will tell them, so don't even ask me not to."  I tell you this because there is a difference between keeping things confidential and keeping secrets.  The things that you and your family members are trying to keep from other family members are examples of keeping secrets.

Secrecy is very unhealthy and damaging to relationships, especially family relationships.  While reading your letter, it strikes me that this situation could have been nipped in the bud if you had been honest with your dad the very first time that you saw porn on his computer, if you had told him what you saw and how you felt about it, and if you had asked him to take measures to prevent this from happening again.  Hopefully, by now your father has been alerted that his secret sin is no longer secret, and he has repented, or at the very least is doing something to protect his daughters, such as not letting his daughters use his computer or getting a different computer for his daughters to use.  In any case, you should stop participating in family secrecy.  You should let both parents know that from this day forward you will no longer keep things secret from the other parent, and you need to stop asking them to keep secrets.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Thursday, March 13, 2014

She’s a Prisoner in a Foreign Country

Dear Aunt Dara,

I don’t know what to do.  I have been married for 4 years.  My husband moved us from Canada to Spain because he couldn’t get a job in Canada.  He is European and has lived in Italy and Spain before.  I moved with him and wanted to build a life together in Spain.  I am not Spanish.  I am Canadian.  I do not know the language, but am trying hard to learn it.  Also, the culture is very unfamiliar to me.  I am trying hard to adjust.  I even have to learn about the different coins and money.  I do not drive yet, but I want to get my license.  I do not have an NIE number either.  I have asked my husband several times to take me to the place where I can get this and he is not interested in helping me.  

I used to be a very independent person.  Now I depend on my husband for everything.  This is the problem.  He resents my dependency.  He does not like to translate Spanish to English for me all the time when I don’t understand.  He hates shopping and complains constantly and treats me badly when I ask him to take me in the car for running errands.  We live out in the countryside away from most people and stores.  All he wants me to do is his washing and cooking and to clean the house.  I feel horrible.  I am so sad.  If I try to talk to him about how difficult it is for me to adjust and that I need his help, he just yells at me and says that when he lived out here, he had to do it on his own, so I should be able to do the same.  I live in a house that he picked out and bought.  I do not like the house.  I am trying to decorate it so that I will like it and he gets very angry with me for changing things and spending his money.  I feel like a slave and a prisoner.  I keep trying to tell him that this is not a healthy marriage and he says that there is nothing wrong with our marriage.  I want to move back to Canada, but I have no job or money.  Please help me and give me some advice as to what to do.

Canadian Captive

Dear Captive,

Please be assured that God knows how you feel about leaving your home country.  However, focusing on your misery only makes you more miserable, and longing for your native home only makes it more difficult to adjust to your new home.  I hope that the things that I have to say to you will help to decrease your misery and ease the adjustment.

A Christian is never a slave or a prisoner in spirit because Christ has set us free.  Even though Silas and the apostle Paul were imprisoned (literally), they were free in spirit and sang in their jail cells.  Their attitude while in prison helped to soften their jailer’s heart and led to his salvation (Acts 16:19-34).  Your living in a foreign country will be what you make it—a prison, or an adventure and opportunity that few people ever get to experience.

As I read your letter, I am reminded of Sarah who, through no choice of her own, left her home country with her husband Abraham to live in a foreign land.  She must have had some of the same feelings as you do, yet the Bible says that she obeyed Abraham and called him lord (1 Peter 3:1-6).  I realize that you are upset because your husband is not supportive of you and resents having to help you, but he may be reacting to the way that you are communicating with him (Philippians 2:14-15, Proverbs 21:19).

I suggest the following:

1.      Pray that God will bless you and your husband in your new country.
2.      Pray that God will help you to adjust to your new home and appreciate it.
3.      Focus on your love for your husband and the good things about him that you appreciate, and then praise him for those things.
4.      Study the culture of your new country and learn to appreciate Spain and its people.
5.      Make friends with some of the local people.  (Are you attending a church somewhere?  If so, start there.)
6.      Identify some of the available resources to help you to learn the language.  Spanish is a beautiful language, and you will never regret having learned a second language.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Her Family Doesn’t Like Her Church

Dear Aunt Dara,

For the past few months, I have been attending a new church.  The problem is that my husband is not a church-goer.  He says he doesn't like my church for various reasons, and he complains that "it’s too loud.”  Additionally, I have a 9-year-old little girl who gives me problems about attending church with me.  At times I have dragged her, unwillingly and in tears, to church with me.  On several occasions my husband has tried to intervene by telling me that she doesn’t have to go.  Isn’t it my job as a Christian and as a parent to try to raise my child in the church, or do you think she will come around on her own?

Frustrated Mom

Dear Frustrated Mom, 

Actually, it is both your job and your husband's job to raise your child in the church.   However, if this situation remains unchanged, you will succeed in turning your daughter against attending any church and you will have never won your husband.

As I read your letter, I question a few things.  First of all, what is your daughter's objection to attending church?  Is it just your new church that she doesn't want to go to?  If so, what is it that makes her so unhappy that she is in tears as she is being dragged there?  Secondly, is your new church the only church that your husband objects to?  Would he be more willing to attend a different church where it isn't as loud and he would have fewer objections to?  And lastly, since this is a new church for you, why do you continue to attend there when your husband obviously doesn't approve of that church and your daughter so desperately doesn't want to go there?

In the best interest of your family, talk to your husband and get his input into the church that he would be wiling to attend.  Then both of you can be united in being a good example to your daughter by taking her to church together.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Boyfriend Revealed He is Addicted to Pornography

Dear Aunt Dara,

After my boyfriend and I began talking about marriage, he confessed to me that he has struggled with an addiction to pornography for the past couple of years.  I feel very hurt and betrayed.  Not only was he involved in this sinful act, but he started a relationship with me while it was a problem and he hid it from me and lied about it to me for this long.  

I feel lost and I don't know what to do or how to handle the situation.  My boyfriend and I have had our challenges before, and I'm struggling with trying to identify whether God is trying to tell me that this is not the man for me, or if He is ensuring that we are a strong couple and through His work we can make it through anything together.  We currently are broken up while he works on his recovery, and I now am faced with the decision (once he's recovered) to forgive him and pick up where we left off or to leave him and move on.

My boyfriend truly wants to become a better man for himself, for God, and for me.  He has tried to fix his addiction multiple times before, but they all have failed.  He realized that the only way to really overcome his problem is to have lost the one most important thing in his life because of it - that being me - and the only way to gain me back is if his addiction is no longer existent.  That all is flattering and I very much appreciate that he is trying so hard to eliminate the issue, but I don't know what's more important - the fact that he is truly committed to changing to become a better man, or the fact that he has been observing sinful material for TWO YEARS and hid it from the woman he plans to marry.

I would very much appreciate any insight and advice you have about this situation.  At the least, prayer to allow my (ex) boyfriend to quickly and effectively find healing and recovery and for me to find clarity as to what to do about the situation would mean a lot to me.

Thank you so much,
Loved and Betrayed

Dear Loved and Betrayed,

I strongly suspect that any change that your (ex) boyfriend makes will only be temporary based on his long-term history of this behavior, his multiple failed attempts to change on his own, his apparent lack of remorse for having sinned against God, and his current reasons to want to change.  Let me explain.

“Addiction” to pornography is not an illness from which one needs to recover.  (I speak as a Christian and a licensed mental health professional.)  Your boyfriend has been habitually engaging in a willful, sinful behavior, and he needs to repent.  It appears that you may have fallen for his excuse that he has an “addiction” from which he needs to “recover,” and he seems to be offering an excuse for future failure by telling you that he has “tried to fix his addiction multiple times before but they have all failed.”  The reason that his past attempts to stop his sinful habit have failed is because he was trying to “fix” it on his own—without God and without the power of the Holy Spirit.  True repentance is based on godly sorrow for having sinned against God (2 Corinthians 7:10).  Where was the godly sorrow?  Where was the confession of sin against God (I John 1:9)?  Where was repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22)?  Where was the reliance on Christ for strength (Philippians 4:13, John 15:5)?  Only by doing these things can he overcome his problem, regardless of his assertion that the only way to overcome his problem is realizing that he has lost the most important thing in his life (you) because of it.  Furthermore, the most important thing in anyone’s life should be God!

If he truly believes that the only way to get you back is “if his addiction is no longer existent,” he will lie and tell you what you want to hear.  Repentance based on sorrow for having hurt or disappointed another human being will only last as long as the relationship lasts, or until the person is able to resume his sinful behavior in secret.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I am not saying that he can’t change, or that he can’t be forgiven, or that he can’t live a pure life in the future.  What I am saying is that he needs to take personal responsibility for his behavior and acknowledge that it is sin, not an “addiction” or illness from which he needs “recovery.”  He needs to genuinely repent for the right reasons and pray to God for forgiveness.  Above all, he needs to put God first in his life—not you.

God bless,

Aunt Dara

Monday, November 11, 2013

Is Her Marriage Built on Lies?

Dear Aunt Dara, 

I've been married about two months.  I am 19 soon to be 20 and my husband is 22.  We are expecting a baby in a few months and I love my husband very much.  We got married because we knew we were right for each other and the baby just sped up our marriage date.

Here's the problem.  Ever since we've gotten married, my husband has been acting more and more like a child than a grown man!  And today he got tired of me and just left the house in my car.  I've called him 5 times today and texted once and he ignored me!  To top it off, he left his i-pod at home today and I looked through his messages (which I know was wrong).  He has been messaging his child's mother (who doesn't know he's married) very often and there are messages with lots of hearts and smiley faces.  They even say they love each other or they miss each other!  One said that they wished the relationship could have worked out!  These messages were sent a couple of months to a month before we were to get married.  What should I do?  I've been praying and asking God for spiritual growth for the both of us and protection of our marriage, but I feel that my husband's faith is stagnant.  The messages make me feel that our marriage is built on lies. 

Sincerely, 
Feeling Deceived and Defeated 

Dear Deceived and Defeated,

As I read your letter, I have to wonder just how committed your husband is to you and your marriage.  It seems a little strange that he was sending these types of messages to another woman so shortly before your marriage.  I also wonder how committed you are to making your marriage work, since you seem to be harboring some resentment and negative thoughts about your husband.  Negative thoughts produce negative attitudes, which produce negative behaviors, and ultimately lead to negative outcomes.  Many, many couples divorce because one or both of them begin entertaining negative thoughts about their spouse, focusing on their spouse’s faults, and dwelling on how miserable they feel because their spouse isn’t making them happy. 

However, marriage isn’t about what you get from the other person—it’s about what you give.  Successful marriages are built on honesty, trust, respect, faithfulness, intimacy, kindness, consideration, and affection.  You can’t make your husband give you these things, but you can make a commitment to give these things to your husband.  Furthermore, there is no place for secrecy in marriage, because the Bible says that husband and wife are to become as one (Gen. 2:24, Matthew 19:5).  Ephesians 5:22-33 instructs us in how husbands and wives are to treat each another.  You and your husband need to have a heart-to-heart talk, being totally honest with each other, confessing your faults to each other and forgiving each other.  The two of you need to pray together regularly for spiritual growth and for your marriage.  That child that you will soon be bringing into the world deserves to have two parents who love God and love each other.

Unfortunately, the other woman will always be a part of your lives because she and your husband share a child.  However, your husband must not place himself in a position where he will be tempted into sin, and he should immediately stop communicating with her in secret.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Monday, September 30, 2013

Is God Punishing Him?

Dear Aunt Dara, 

Recently I was tricked by my friend into going to a heavy metal concert.  The music this band played went against all good Christian ideals, and many of the fans were encouraging this and even shouting things such as, "Hail Satan", etc.  Then as I was driving home my car was starting to make strange sounds, and the engine eventually stopped working and started smoking.  We had to call a tow-truck, and now the car is ruined.  I am very worried.  Is God punishing me for going to this heavy metal concert and being with such an unsavory crowd?  Please help!

Sincerely,
Punished by God

Dear Punished,


I don't know if God was punishing you or not, but I think that the important question to ask is, "What is the lesson to be learned from this?"  If this experience makes you more careful about the friends you choose, the places you go and the types of entertainment that you participate in, and brings you closer to God, then the loss of your car was worth it.

God bless,
Aunt Dara