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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.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Must a Christian Help Everyone Who Asks for Assistance?

Dear Aunt Dara, 

This school year has been very trying for my husband and myself.  We've been helping friends and family with many favors lately, but now I feel as though I'm a wet rag being squeezed dry.  My mother's vehicle broke down some months ago so every weekend or day off, I have to take her to run errands, pay her bills, buy groceries, etc.  At first I felt happy to help, but now it has become a stressor for me because I have to squeeze in all her errands plus my own.  We have three children and my life was already busy enough with them as it was.  My mom's solution is, "Why do you take them to so many birthday parties?” and, "Why do you have them in sports?"  In other words, why do anything for anyone else in this world, as long as I'm helping her?  She thinks I'm stressing myself out by having them participate in organizations and such.  I'm a little bitter toward her because I know my mom would not help me or anyone else that needs help.  She never has.  She's very selfish.  I had to work the moment I turned 16 and have had to support myself since.  I'm only thankful that my forced-upon independence taught me responsibility. 

Additionally, ever since my father-in-law’s girlfriend passed away, we've been having to help him financially.  We were happy to help him at first, but now it has become an annoyance because any extra money that we once had is gone.  My father-in-law doesn't seem to care that we have our own bills, our kids' expenses, etc.  We can't take a vacation or buy groceries without him thinking we're loaded, when in actuality we live paycheck to paycheck.  What annoys my husband the most is that his father has never been a giving, caring, or compassionate person with him.  When my husband was young and his parents divorced, he chose to live with his dad.  It turned out that his dad sent him away to live with various friends and relatives, but his dad still kept all the child support checks that came in from his mom.  When the time came for back to school shopping and my husband needed new clothes, shoes, and books, his dad refused to buy him anything because he could "never afford it.”  So at a young age, my husband had to start finding ways to make his own money to support himself.  We met and married young but have been blessed that we have always been able to support ourselves, without our parents' help but with God's help.  Throughout our 20 years of marriage, we have always put all our faith in Him and recognize that without Him, we wouldn't be where we are today.  We give Him all the glory and praise. 

In addition to helping our parents out, I have a couple of friends who have been needing our help this year.  Again, we are happy to help people when we are able to do so.  However, lately I feel as if we are being taken advantage of.  One friend leaves her kids with me at 6:30am each morning so I can take them to school with my own kids.  She has to rush to work from there.  My other friend relies on me to pick up her daughter from school at the end of the day, because she gets out of her job too late.  She either picks her up from my house really late in the evenings or, if she picks her up in a timely manner, she stays at my house chit-chatting until close to 10pm!  I don't get to make dinner, do chores, spend time with husband or kids, etc.  

I feel I'm at my wits end with all these people.  I have already had some minor meltdowns at home and start yelling over the silliest things just because I'm so frustrated, tired, and stressed out.  As a Christian, I feel we should be more like Jesus and help others with a happy heart.  My dilemma is that I used to have a happy heart when helping others, but lately I feel so angry and used.  I just want us to run far, far away and never come back!  I don't have the heart to be honest with any of them to tell them how I feel because I'm the type of person that will do anything to spare hard feelings.  I hate confrontations.  I've heard the saying, "Be a blessing and you'll be blessed.”  However, I just don't feel like I deserve God's blessings because all I've come to do lately is just complain about these people.  Can you please give me some advice as to how I should be feeling toward everyone?  I feel wrong for having ill feelings toward these individuals but I can't help it. 

At Wits End 

Dear Wits End, 

Let me summarize:  Your mother is demanding of your time and dependent on you for transportation.  Your father-in-law is dependent on your money to meet his living expenses.  Your friends depend on you to provide free babysitting and they interfere with your ability to meet the needs of your own family.  You don’t have any time for yourself, your husband, or your children.  You feel as if you are being squeezed dry and would like to run far, far away.  You are at your wits end and feel stressed, tired, frustrated, and angry, and so you end up yelling over minor things.  Conclusion:  You feel as if you are being used because you are being used, and those negative feelings are the natural result of stress from being taken advantage of.   

While it is true that Christians are to follow Jesus’ example and do good to others (Acts 10:38, Galatians 6:10), it appears that you have taken this to the extreme and are wearing yourself out in trying to help others.  Jesus frequently took breaks from teaching the multitudes and healing the sick so that He could meet His own needs (Luke 5:15-16).  The Bible instructs us to be temperate in all things (1 Corinthians 9:25, 1 Timothy 3:11), which means to show moderation, to have self-restraint, and to do things within a reasonable limit.  That even includes doing good works within a reasonable limit, and the Bible warns us that we will destroy ourselves if we do not (Ecclesiastes 7:15-16).  The Lord never intended for us to allow ourselves to be used or to do so much for others that we totally wear ourselves out and neglect our own family and our own needs.  

It appears as if you believe that to be like Jesus you must help everyone, so therefore you must not turn down a request for help.  Jesus recognized when people were trying to take advantage of Him and did not give them what they wanted (John 6:22-27).  He did not always respond to requests and He set conditions for the people He helped (Matthew 15:21-28).  Additionally, God does not always give us what we ask for in prayer and sets conditions for His blessings (John 9:31, James 1:5-8, James 4:3, 2 Corinthians 12:7-9).  Therefore, if God can deny requests and set limits and conditions for what He does for people, then we can do the same.  You have the right to set appropriate limits and conditions with others, and you have the right to turn down requests.  It is okay to tell your friend that she must pick up her child by a certain time.  It is okay to tell her that it’s time for her to leave because you need to cook dinner for your family.  It’s okay to set limits for your mother and father-in-law. 

Are you actually helping these people, or are you fostering dependency?  Helping means that you render assistance, and inherent in this definition is the understanding that such aid is temporary until the person no longer needs assistance (2 Corinthians 8:11-14).  If the person is not moving toward gaining independence, it ceases to be “receiving help” and becomes a reliance or dependency on the giver.  What effort has your mother made to repair her car or to obtain other means of transportation?  What effort has your father-in-law made to be able to manage his expenses on his own?  What would they do without you?  If you were no longer able to provide transportation for your mother or give money to your father-in-law, what would they do?  It appears that you are no longer helping your mother and father-in-law.  They have become dependent on you and you are supporting them.  If you continue to provide transportation and money to them, they will have no motivation to work toward becoming independent.  Your first responsibility is to your own family—to your husband, children, and home.  You and your husband need to have an honest discussion with each other to come to an understanding of what changes need to be made to set reasonable limits with them to reduce your burden and stress.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Is it Wrong to Hide a Bank Account from a Spouse?

Dear Aunt Dara,

My husband and I have both accepted Jesus as our Savior and try to live according to His word.  With that being said, I have been keeping a secret bank account from him because I am scared of the way he handles our finances.  We have been married for 4 and 1/2 years now and he has never held a steady job.  He has been fired and let go of employment more times than I can count.  We are a one income household, but he spends as if we have two incomes.  I made him start paying the bills because I thought it would make him more aware of the finances as well as take some pressure off of me.  However, he has made several late payments and we have accrued several late charges because of it.  When I ask him if he has been applying for jobs or ask him what he has done for the day, he gets extremely defensive and it starts a fight.  My husband has been spoiled and therefore does not cook or clean, so I have to make time for those things before or after my job.  On top of this, he likes to have nice things so if I receive a bonus, he believes he is entitled to spend that as well.  Last year, I wanted to use my bonus at the beginning of the year to pay off the last of our bills and have at least $1000 left over to have as a buffer so we are not living paycheck to paycheck as usual and sometime overdraft.  However, when I told him what I think we should do with my bonus, he said he "needed" a new 60 inch TV because it had been a while since he bought one.  Meanwhile, we have three nice televisions in the house that all work great.  He didn't speak to me for over a week until I gave in to his request.  For this reason, I have opened up an emergency savings account to hide money in case anything urgent comes up.  Is it wrong to hide this from my husband?  I think of the story of Abigail and Nabal and how her defiance of her husband was thought of as wisdom, but I don't want to be wrong.  I love my husband, but he is extremely unwise with our finances and it is causing me horrible panic attacks and anxiety.  He says he is saved, but I don't actually see any fruit of the Spirit in him.  Please help.  Thank you so much!

Sincerely,
Frustrated, Hurt and Anxious


Dear Frustrated, Hurt and Anxious, 

Is it wrong to hide a bank account from your husband?  Keeping secrets is not necessarily a sin.  Sometimes it is the wise thing to do.  Samson was wise to not tell Delilah the source of his strength, and he paid a high price when he did (Judges 16).  Rahab did the right thing when she kept the secret that she was hiding the Israelite spies (Joshua 2).  But is it wrong to keep a secret from a spouse?  You cited Abigail as an example.  While it is true that Abigail assisted David and his men without her husband’s knowledge, she told her husband what she had done the following morning after he had sobered up (1 Samuel 25:36-38).  Esther kept the fact that she was an Israelite secret from her husband until it became necessary to reveal this to him (Esther 2:10, 7:3-4).  Keeping secrets is rarely healthy in a marriage, and keeping financial secrets is especially harmful to a marriage because the other spouse will eventually find out the truth and that will undermine trust.  What will happen when your husband finds out that you have a secret bank account?   

In a marriage, the two are to become one (Matthew 19:5).  Therefore, the ideal situation for finances in a marriage is for both to be fully aware of all assets, obligations, and expenditures, and for purchases to be made by mutual decision.  Christians should pay all bills, debts and obligations when due (Romans 12:17).  Christians should work to provide for their family and necessities should be paid for before any nonessentials are purchased (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, 1 Timothy 5:8).  However, when one spouse is irresponsible with money, the one who is most responsible should be in charge of managing the finances.  Even though the husband is the head of the wife and the wife is to be submissive to her husband (Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18), there is nothing wrong with the wife being the primary financial manager if she is the one who is more responsible with money.  Furthermore, it is not wrong for a wife to make independent financial decisions.  The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 did not ask for her husband’s permission to buy real estate or to manage her business independently (Proverbs 31:16, 24), and a married woman was among the women who provided financial support for the needs of Jesus and His disciples (Luke 8:1-3).   

Since your husband has a proven record of being irresponsible and mismanaging money, you should be the one in charge of managing the finances for your home.  You are the sole wage earner in your family.  It is up to you to assure that bills are paid on time, and you are wise to develop a savings account.  Your husband spends more than you earn and insists on making unnecessary purchases, but he did not work to earn the money.  You did!  If he wants to have money to buy his toys, he should get a job and use his own money.  (Nothing teaches a person the value of money better than having to work to earn the money to buy the things one wants.)  Your husband has a problem with greed and covetousness, and you are supporting it.  If your husband had a problem with gambling, would you give him money to take to the casino?  If he had a problem with alcohol, would you give him money to buy beer?  If he tries to pressure you into giving him money so that he can spend it frivolously, remember that you must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29) and you cannot obey your husband if it means supporting or participating in his sin (Acts 5:1-11).   

Here are my suggestions on how to handle your situation: 
1.     Tell your husband about the savings account.  Apologize for not telling him sooner than you did.  Explain the reasons that you established the account.  Continue to deposit part of your income into this account on a regular basis.  Do not allow him to talk you into putting his name on the account too.  Reconsider the wisdom of having a joint bank account.
2.     Develop a budget with your husband and stick to it.
3.     You may need to consult a professional financial planner to assist you with the development of a workable budget and to help impress upon your husband the dangers of his irresponsible spending habits.
4.     Take over the responsibility of paying the household bills again.
5.     Ask your employer about withholding part of your earnings for savings, such as in a credit union account or a retirement savings account. 

None of those suggestions will be easy, so pray before you do anything.  Pray a lot.  You are in a very precarious position and your husband will be resistant to making any changes.  Financial issues are one of the top reasons that couples fight, enter marriage counseling, and end up divorced.  That is why it is beneficial to discuss financial issues prior to marriage and why premarital counseling should always address financial management.  Please keep me updated and I will be praying for you. 

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Monday, August 21, 2017

Man Wants to File a Restraining Order Against His Wife’s Mother

Dear Aunt Dara,

Recently my wife and I learned that she has a teenaged half-sister by her father.  Her parents are still married and have hidden this information from my wife.  She found this out after being contacted by her sister's grandmother.  Ever since my mother-in-law learned that we know about the new sister and that we are going to attempt to have a relationship with her, my mother-in-law has become verbally hostile toward us and has been very irrational about the situation.  Her behavior has come to the point that I have changed our locks.  I am now to the point that I am done with her harassment and I am also done with her.  However, this is causing a problem between myself and my wife.  She wants me to "play nice," but I have played nice for several years after other situations and now I am done.  I am tired of seeing my wife suffer these verbal attacks.  I want my mother-in-law out of our lives if she can't be civil, but my wife says I am being irrational.  All I want is for my wife to not have to deal with this.  My wife recently gave birth to our third child, so I am even more protective of her because she is post-partum.  I told my mother-in-law that she is no longer welcome at my home unless she can be civil and that she can only come if my father-in-law also comes with her because she acts differently when he is around.  However, she came to our house yesterday while I was at work and started verbally attacking my wife again.  I want to file a restraining order against her, but my wife does not want me to do that.  I want to protect my family, but in doing so it will cause conflict between myself and my wife.  I have turned the other cheek so many times.  I don't know what to do now.


Fed Up Husband 

Dear Husband,

You love your wife and you want to protect her from harm, including emotional and verbal abuse.  That is the normal and rational response for a husband, and you are not being irrational in wanting to protect your family.  “Playing nice” by turning the other cheek does not mean that you have to allow abuse to continue.  God never expects us to remain in a situation where abuse occurs and continues or in a situation where we may be in danger.  Jesus Himself took measures to avoid physical harm (John 8:59), and on numerous occasions He avoided getting involved in the Pharisee’s attempts to verbally trap Him. 

It sounds as if your mother-in-law is angry because the family secret has been discovered and exposed.  It’s apparent from what you said that this girl was born as the result of your father-in-law’s infidelity while married to your mother-in-law.  This would have been a very difficult thing for your mother-in-law to have experienced and likely would have resulted in a marital crisis for them at the time.  While you and your wife view this younger half-sister as an addition to your family, your mother-in-law sees her as a threat to the family and a reminder of things she’d rather forget.  Your mother-in-law feels threatened, and the natural tendency when threatened is to defend oneself by attacking back.  Unfortunately, she has chosen to attack you and your wife.  It also sounds as if this is just the current side issue of a much wider problem involving your mother-in-law’s behavior.  Does your father-in-law know that your mother-in-law is harassing you and your wife?  If not, he needs to be told.  It’s not healthy for your children to witness their grandmother verbally abusing their mother, and this needs to stop. 

You are within your right to set limits, rules and boundaries with your mother-in-law, and your wife needs to be on board with enforcing them.  Nobody should be subjected to verbal abuse, especially in one's own home.  As a family, you should set clear limits that your mother-in-law’s visits will be restricted if she cannot be civil.  The family needs to understand that your mother-in-law will be required to leave your home if she begins to verbally abuse you or your wife.  This includes phone calls!  Your wife should be instructed to end a visit or phone call if her mother becomes verbally abusive.  I would NOT recommend taking out a restraining order against your mother-in-law.  That would only give fuel to the fire and make the situation worse.  Do not take revenge!  Continue to pray for your mother-in-law and treat her kindly (Romans 12:17-21, 1 Peter 2:19-23, Matthew 5:43-48).

You should affirm your mother-in-law’s fear and assure her that the girl does not have to be a part of her life and she will not have to see or talk to the girl.  When she brings up the subject in the future, remind her that she does not need to see or talk to the girl, but you and your wife do plan to have her in your lives whether she approves or not.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Is it Ever Acceptable to Hold Back Help?

Dear Aunt Dara,

I am writing because my husband and I have been helping out our son and his wife since before they married nearly 10 years ago.  My son is a very hard worker, but he is overwhelmed at home.  His wife worked full time when they were dating, but almost right away after marriage she dropped to part time work.  She could not keep up with housework.  She does not cook.  My son does the grocery shopping and cooking.  She then stopped working completely, but still could not keep up with the house and it is very, very dirty.  My son did not want any more children but she has just given birth to a fourth child.  When she was only 3 months into her pregnancy, she stopped loading the dishwasher because she said she was in too much pain.  She doesn't even unload it when the dishes are clean.  There are always tons of dirty dishes, overflowing trash, food all over the kitchen and dining room floors, piles of clean and dirty laundry all over, but the worst is the dozens of dirty diapers on the floors of the children’s rooms.  They purchased a new van and a beautiful home two years ago with gorgeous landscaping and a beautiful patio.  The home had beautiful wall-to-wall carpeting.  It was just immaculate, but within three months it was a pit.  It’s so heartbreaking to see what has become of both the home and their vehicle.  All she ever does is complain about how much pain she is in.  She does her hair and her nails, but just constantly wants my son to help her with the house and kids.  She ruined their credit by not paying the bills on time.  We have babysat so she wouldn't have to take her children to all kinds of appointments.  I do her dishes, wash her floors, clean her nasty stovetop, etc.  We pick up our grandson on Friday nights so my son can get some sleep because he works midnight shift on the weekends.  (We have to drive to pick up our grandson because she can't handle the drive.)  My daughters babysit and buy them all kinds of diapers and clothes for her and the kids.  She only takes, never gives.  We had a Bible study when they first got married, and after the study she had a meeting at her house to bad mouth me because I shared how the Lord had healed me.  (She assumed I was criticizing her for using medicine.  I wasn't.  I use medicine, too.)  Our family used to be very close but we have not had any family fellowship since.  There are some things that I appreciate about her, however.  I love how she is funny and creative, and she seems to love my grandchildren.  

My question is my son asked my husband, who is 60 years old and works midnights also, if he could pick up our grandson on Friday.  We have done this tons of times.  The thing is, my son is off work for a month on family leave for the baby.  He could easily bring the boy to us, but that would mean his wife would have to be alone with a 3-year-old, an 18-month-old, and a week-old baby.  All healthy.  I had 4 children, and took my babies everywhere!  My mom had 8 children, no car, and my dad left when I was two.  Her mom had 10, and her mom 12 children.  I don't think it is fair for our son to ask his elderly father, who is in very poor health, to give up his weekend time so his wife doesn't have to take care of her own responsibilities.  There is so much we have done for them already.  We even catered their wedding reception because her family didn't have the money, even though we don't have much either.  We drove 90 minutes each way to set up, and we shopped, cooked, cleaned, and packed up.  We were happy to do it.  We love the Lord and our family, but we are wondering if we can keep this up.  We think it is time for our daughter-in-law to handle her own responsibilities.  My son is so worn out and depressed.  He told his Dad he feels like she baited and switched him.  I feel he is at fault too, for not making her do more of her job as a housewife.  He gives her everything she wants.  (As a side note, we are not allowed to kiss our grandkids or post pictures of them.  I made the mistake of announcing to my friends on Facebook that I was going to be a grandmother, and they publicly chastised me.)  I say all this to ask what we should do.  What would the Lord want us to do?

We’ve Gone an Extra Thousand Miles

Dear Extra Thousand Miles,

My heart goes out to you and your husband for the years that you have been taking responsibility for your son's family.  It's evident that your daughter-in-law's laziness will continue as long as the family continues to take up the slack by doing things that are her responsibility.  You and your husband are of the age when your children should be taking care of you, not the other way around (Matthew 15:1-9; 2 Corinthians 12:14).  Furthermore, parents are not responsible for taking care of their adult children (Mark 10:6-8).  Your son and his wife are a separate family unit.  They are the ones who are responsible for taking care of their home and their children—not you.  You may think that you are helping them, but you are actually hurting them.  You should immediately stop doing their housework.  This means NO washing their dishes, mopping their floors, doing their laundry, taking out their trash, etc.  When you stop "helping," your son and his wife will have to work out their household duties together, as they should have been doing for themselves from the beginning.

Occasional babysitting is okay.  It's called visiting with your grandchildren.  However, it is not your responsibility to take care of your grandchildren.  Parents are responsible for taking care of their own minor children.  As you pointed out, generations of parents have been taking care of their children, no matter how many children they have.  If you want to have the grandchildren in your home or babysit when their parents have appointments, then fine.  However, you have the right to set limits on how often or how long their visits are.  Don't be afraid to say no.  Furthermore, it’s their responsibility to bring the children to you and pick them up after their visit.  As you pointed out, they really have no reasonable excuse for not bringing your grandson to you.  After all, when your son is at work your daughter-in-law is alone with the children and she finds a way to manage it.

Your daughter-in-law (and possibly your son, too) will vehemently fight against any changes that you make and will likely say some very hurtful things to you and about you.  Stay strong and don't back down.  If you give in and resume doing things for them, your daughter-in-law will have won and she will never change her behavior.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

All Sin Leads to Pain

Note from Aunt Dara:  I am publishing this long letter with minimal editing because the writer said she wanted to share her story so that others will know that all sin will lead to pain.  

Dear Aunt Dara,

I'm 18 years old, and met my recently 23-year-old ex-boyfriend last year.  We became friends after I saw him at a friends’ church and told them I thought he was cute.  They told him to add me on Facebook.  So we began talking, and instantly hit it off.  At the time I had met him, I was extremely rooted in Christ and lead worship at my youth group on Wednesday nights.  A couple weeks after talking to him, we met at a church bonfire.  He then invited me to hang out at his house, though he told me to bring along my friend.  He told me he thought my friend was cute, even though he knew I had feelings for him.  Things like this continued.  He said that my friends were attractive, and when we were with them he would compliment them, pretend to forget my name, etc.  A few months later, I stupidly lost my virginity to him.  Even typing this I want to cry.  I should have waited for the man God wants to be my husband.  I sinned against God and His will for my life.  Afterward I started struggling with other sinful acts.  I started stealing.  I am so ashamed and embarrassed, but I feel like I must tell my story.  I also started talking to another man, who eventually I slept with once.  This is all while I still was with my ex-boyfriend.  During all of this, my ex never knew what was happening, and yet he refused to date me, which was part of the reason I was searching for love, rather than going to God.  I desired the love that my ex would not give me.  So I made even more mistakes.  In January after I confessed all that I had done, he finally decided to commit to me.  He said he felt guilty for causing me to sin.  A while later, I found out he had an addiction to porn.  This devastated me.  He was sleeping with me, and I felt ugly and extremely hurt.  He promised not to do it again.  He himself has a past, which I struggled with.  I forgave him completely, but a lot of times I didn't feel good enough, and wondered if the other six girls he had been with and slept with were better than me.  But I tried to forgive and forget.  I brought it up a lot, because I felt that I needed to get my emotions out to him, rather than keep them in.  That's what I thought couples were supposed to do.  A while later, he broke up with me.  He told me he never truly loved me, and his love for me was built out of hurt, yet he had continued to use me and have sex with me.  A few days later, when I was starting to get over of the pain of losing him, he asked me how I was doing.  I told him I was doing fine, and because of this he wanted me back.  He didn't like it that I was moving on.  I accepted him back, stupidly too soon.  I was (or thought I was) in love with him.  We made a lot of rules, and I asked him to refrain from watching shows with inappropriate things in it because his addiction to porn had wounded me so badly.  We then wanted to begin talking to God together and praying together, though this did not last long.  I then discovered he had been watching porn yet again, and I wanted to break up with him.  I had tried helping him through his addiction because he had been using a Christian accountability app for the internet, but he found a way around it.  He had even watched stuff while at my house.  This damaged me even more, which caused me to discuss even more things that hurt me.  I forgave him again, because I myself sin.  Fast forward to now, he broke up with me yet again because "it wasn't working,” which I know it wasn't.  I just believe that couples should work things out together, and go to God together.  It hurts a lot, but writing like this helps me.  I had given everything to him, including my body, which I regret wholeheartedly.  Yet, I feel as though in a few days he'll come crawling back and I'm afraid I'll let him immediately back into my heart.  He's hurt me so many times, even before we were ever dating.  I was sending him Bible verses every night.  I guess I can blame myself for bringing things up constantly.  I struggle with depression.  I know that this is hard to deal with in a relationship, but he has his own problems.  He's 23, living at home, and has no ambition to move forward.  I tried getting him to go back to college with me so we could work on starting our lives together.  There are other things that bother me, such as him being disrespectful to his parents, telling them to shut up, yet relying on his mother too much.  Sometimes I feel like she’s the girlfriend, and I'm not.  I'm hurt, and want to heal.  I want a godly man who thinks twice before doing something to hurt me.  I just wish he could be that godly man.  I know this is because I've been connected to him in a way I should not have been connected to him.  I had been sleeping with him for about 8 months.  My friends have told me I would be an idiot to let him back into my life unless he truly changes.  My father is extremely upset about how hurt I am.  He told me he didn't want me to let him back in my life, as he doesn't want him to hurt me again.  But I love him, so it's hard to let go and move on.  I've been praying and reading my Bible, which helps as well. And this break up, I've been better about leaving him alone.  I struggle with sleeping at night though and now it's even worse.  Since I've known him, I’ve had nightmares every night.  It's taking a huge toll on me, and my body.  I want to grow closer to God, and become the person I'm supposed to be.  I was so close to God before I knew him.  I had a friend who discovered what I had been doing tell me, "I used to look up to you for spiritual advice, now I can't and it hurts.”  I've hurt so many people in my life.  I've hurt my family, though they do not know what I have done.  I need to heal before I tell them, especially my older sister.  She's my best friend, and I can't believe what I've done.  I've let her down.  I know she'll love me regardless of my sin, but it still hurts.  I want to share this story, because I want people to know that all sin will lead to pain.  No one can love us like God can, and people will constantly let us down.  I know I'll continue to struggle with my sin and the pain I'm feeling, yet I want to give it all to Jesus.  I want to encourage others to not live like you're married, until you're married.  It hard to sleep next to someone at night, and then be left in the morning.  I just want encouragement to not go back to this destructive relationship unless God can heal it.  Though that would take a long time.  And at this point, I feel as though God's telling me it's not His plan.  It hurts, but I know His plan for me is far greater than any I'll ever have for myself.  I also want to encourage others to not put their life on hold for someone such as this.  I decided not to go to my dream college because of this man—this man who hurt me repeatedly.  But now, I've decided to go to college where my sister is working on her master's degree and hope to soon get an apartment with her.  It's a Christian college, and I can't wait to be surrounded by godly people.  My sister is deeply rooted in Christ as well.  If you've read this all, I thank you for taking the time to do so.  I'm sure there are countless errors throughout this, as I typed quickly, but it's my story.  It's not perfect, so it doesn't have to be written perfectly, because God is perfect for us. 

Regretting My Sins

Dear Regretful,

First of all, you are to be commended for having an honest and tender heart.  You know right from wrong, feel genuine remorse for your sins and have insight into the thoughts and motives that have led to your sins.  Please be assured that God is pleased with your broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51).  Your story is a perfect example of how one sin can lead to another and then another, and when you are healed you will be able to help others through your witness of God's grace.

Conversely, your ex-boyfriend’s behavior does not demonstrate a heart that is sincere and humble before God.  From what you have written, he does not demonstrate any remorse for his sins and his motives are selfish.  His behavior toward you does not demonstrate love.  He has been using you for sex.  He has demonstrated a pattern of sinful behaviors and broken promises and he will only continue to hurt you.  He said himself that he never loved you.  It's not because you are unlovable or that there is something wrong with you.  He is not rejecting you because you are an awful person.  He is rejecting you because he has poor character and lacks moral integrity.  You deserve better.  I understand that you think you love him and you hope that you and God together can change him, but trust me in this:  Many broken hearts and damaged lives use the same rationalization, "But I love him," coupled with the hope that he will change.  Your love cannot change him.  If you stay with him, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of heartache and regret.  If you are pregnant, he may stay with you for a while, but this relationship cannot and will not last and a baby cannot hold him.

Here are my suggestions, and I pray that you will follow through with them.

1.  Stop having sex with him immediately.  Repent.  Go and sin no more.  (John 8:11)
2.  Confess your sin to God and pray for His forgiveness.  (Psalm 51)
3.  Forgive yourself.  As long as you hang onto guilt, you are giving Satan an advantage over you and he will use your guilt to convince you that you are not worthy of God's love, mercy, and blessings.  (1 John 1:9 and Psalm 103:8-14)
4.  Develop a more intimate relationship with God and allow Him to fill your emotional void.  Do not seek a man to fill that which only God can.  (Psalm 139)
5.  Get professional help for your depression from a Christian counselor (or a counselor who is a Christian) and ask that person to pray for you.  (James 5:16)
6.  Concentrate on doing well in college.
7.  Pray that you aren't pregnant.

You have been in my prayers and I will continue to pray for you.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Can a Couple with Religious Differences have a Successful Relationship or Marriage?

Dear Aunt Dara,
 
A good friend of mine told me about her dilemma with her current boyfriend who she has been dating for a year.  They are both in their 20s.  From what she says he is a great guy but the only problem is that his mother really does not like her.  She is a catholic and he is part of a protestant church that is very strict (women can't wear pants, fake nails and hair, makeup, jewelry, men and women can't sit next to each other at church, etc.)  She and her boyfriend decided to go on a vacation together alone, and his mother was very upset about it to the point that she told all the church members that she was ruining her son.  I too was shocked when she told me this because I would never go to another state or country with a young man by myself who is not my husband.  However, from what I see his mother doesn't like her because she is not the simple and humble type of girl she wants for her son.  She is my friend but I have to be honest—she doesn't dress or act like a modest Christian woman.  Also, it seems as if the relationship is causing the young man to rebel against his mother and the church, because he even told her that if they decided to get married he wouldn't mind getting married in the catholic church.  As a born again believer, I was always taught that marriage is a union between two people recognized by God.  This union is supposed to put both families together on a common ground.  Your religion really plays an important role in your morals and character.  This is what will shape the relationship between you and the other person.  If their morals don't mesh together, there will be problems down the road and that's what I think will happen between my friend and her boyfriend.  Do you think two people of completely different religions can have a successful relationship or marriage, and do you think it is a good idea for these two to stay together?  I feel like telling her to move on.  I just feel like she is with him because it is making her interesting for the moment.  I feel like she is setting herself up for failure.  What do you think?

Sincerely,
Her Friend

 
Dear Friend,

If your friend and her boyfriend are still together, I suggest that you completely stay out of it and let the two of them work this thing out together.  Nobody appreciates a friend trying to give helpful advice about their romantic relationship.  You may see disaster ahead for your friend and her relationship as you described it, but you should NOT tell her that she should move on.  This doesn't involve you and you don't know all the facts.  (For additional information on giving relationship advice to a friend, please refer to “Giving Marital or Relationship Advice to a Friend” that I posted on 7-31-2012 at http://askauntdara.blogspot.com/.)  You could, however, express your concerns about your friend's behavior, such as how she chooses to dress or act in an unchristian way.

Do I think that two people of completely different religions can have a successful relationship and marriage?  No, I do not.  I have never seen it work out well, and I have seen a lot of marriages.  Sometimes one partner is successful in converting the other, and in those situations the relationship/marriage has a chance of being successful and happy.  However, one should never enter a marriage hoping to be able to convert their spouse.  It rarely works out that way.

God Bless,
Aunt Dara

Thursday, May 4, 2017

She Finds it Difficult to Stop Kissing

Dear Aunt Dara,

I once thought that my first kiss would be on my wedding day, when the priest will officially announce us as husband and wife and say, "Now you may kiss the bride."  I always thought that a kiss is a very beautiful and intimate thing, but people around me think that a kiss is just a kiss, and a lot of them have had their first kiss.  I do not want to put a kiss onto a pedestal, but I thought that sharing something so intimate will easily lead into something further than that, and it is good not to have it so casually...

I am now in a relationship with a very nice man.  When we started the relationship, he said that we need to set clear boundaries, have accountable friends aside of each other, and most importantly, focus on God in our relationship.  I think we did start it right.  He is very respectful and we have a loving relationship.

Fast forward, just a few weeks ago, we were having lunch together.  He would be going home soon, so he hugged me close.  Then, he started to try to kiss me, and at first I avoided them.  However, I could not deny that I also really want to kiss him.  I have the urge too.  After some time, I allowed him to kiss me on my lips.  It was not long that we started to make out.  After he went home, I was still floating and did not believe I really did that.  My first kiss!  Not on my wedding day!  And I consented!

When he visited me afterwards, he said we should not make this a norm, and said he honestly felt very aroused because of it.  If we continued, it would be hard for us to be satisfied and would just want to go further, sliding on the slippery slope of sin.  So we repented and prayed together.  However, a few days after that we did it again.  I felt guilty, and admittedly it did not feel bad, and I felt guiltier because of it.  A few days afterwards, when he tried to make out with me again, I tried to stop him by telling him no.  However, he continued to kiss while hugging me close.  After some time, I gave up because again, I also have the urge and it did not feel bad.  After that time, he said that he realized I did not want to do it at first but he already felt too lustful to stop.  He said that next time if he started, slap him or hit him to stop it.

Just a few days ago, I was very tired after an important deadline, and we had dinner together.  We talked for some time then he hugged me, then after some time he started to kiss me again.  I tried to tell him no, and I tried to pull back, but he held my head and body close to him.  I hit him lightly on his back, as I did not really have the energy.  He then continued to plead to me, please, just for a few moments.  I said no, we have promised not to do it again.  He continued to plead and said how much he wanted it.  It was heart-breaking for me to hear him pleading like that, and it's not like I did not want to do it, but I did not want to compromise anymore, as it would be just a vicious cycle if I gave up again.  As I could not really do anything, I could not tell him off, I could not move much, and I could not back away from him, with all the emotional conflict I had in my mind, I started to cry.  It was really hard to do anything with having someone keep kissing you like that.  Having realized that I cried, he then stopped immediately.  He still said how much he wanted to make out with me, but he did not do anything anymore.  He said that deep down he also knew that it was wrong, and we have talked about this several times, but it was really difficult to resist the temptation.  It's like the Pandora's Box has been opened, so it was really hard not to do it anymore.

How do I deal with this situation?  Am I just making too big a deal out of this?  Is it really just a kiss and just a make-out session?  He is nice and respectful, and I do really like him a lot.  He knows that he is wrong, but I think it is very hard to resist the physical temptation, especially for him.

Sincerely,
A very confused girl

Dear Confused Girl,

Of course you have the urge to participate in the hugging and kissing, and it doesn’t feel bad to you.  That’s normal.  That’s the way God created our bodies.  You summed up the concerns when you said that if it continues it will become hard for you both to be satisfied and you will want to go further, sliding down the slippery slope of sin.  When this kissing activity first started, you indicated that you both repented and prayed.  Where was the repentance?  Since he keeps pressuring you into these make-out sessions, it seems that his “repentance” and prayer may have been an attempt on his part to say the things that he thought you wanted to hear.  Even though the two of you have discussed this several times and he knows the danger, he is still initiating these make-out sessions and pressuring you to continue.  You are already at the point of sin.  You are participating in an activity that is causing him to sin and he acknowledges that he feels aroused by the hugging and kissing and admits he feels too lustful to stop.  He is demonstrating that he lacks self-control.  To make matters worse, he is trying to put the responsibility for his behavior on you by telling you to slap him, yet he prevents you from taking control by holding you so close that you cannot move.  I suspect that he is trying to wear you down because he wants more.  He hopes if he keeps hugging and kissing you will reach a point where you will want him to go further. 

So, how are you and your boyfriend focusing on God in your relationship????? 

Twice you said that your boyfriend is respectful, but his actions demonstrate the opposite. He doesn’t respect your “no.”  A gentleman who respects women takes cues from the woman.  He understands that “No” means “NO.”  He stops when she says, “Stop.”  He lets go of her when he feels her pull away.  He does not kiss her if she is resistant, and he does not beg or pressure her for more than what she freely wants to give.  You said that the two of you have a loving relationship, but he is not demonstrating love for you.  He is demonstrating lust.  The kissing always seems to start “after some time” of “close” hugging.  This tells me that the hugs are not brief and his thoughts and motives are not pure.  Therefore, I urge you to do the following: 
1.     Sincerely repent and pray for forgiveness.  Repentance means changing your behavior.  Therefore………
2.     Stop participating in make-out sessions!  They are not safe and they cause him to sin through lust and place you in jeopardy of doing something you will later regret (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7).
3.     Stop placing yourself in situations with him that could lead to sin. 
4.     Avoid hugging.
5.     Avoid being alone with him.
6.     Find yourself a Christian woman that you trust and become accountable to her (James 5:16).
If this man truly loves you, he will respect your wishes and follow these guidelines.  If he resists following these guidelines, you would do best to end the relationship.

God bless,
Aunt Dara