Patti* sobbed into the phone. “I can’t go through another year like this one. Honestly, I don’t want to go through another day. We don’t talk. At all. I can’t look at him without seeing those images. I’m scared of what he’ll do if I confront him. I hate how I feel, and I just want to get back to where things felt comfortable.”
It’s a new year, but are you caught in the same patterns?
Have you lost hope anything will change this new year, and you’re only seven days into it?
As Patti said, normal cycles feel comfortable, but they don’t bring change. Nor do they deal with the problems we face in our relationships.
Recently, I recognized how I refused to deal with a negative relationship. I’d fallen back into old, negative, self-protective patterns. While the other person had wounded my heart, I carried the grudge. In God’s loving fashion, He reminded me how He forgives me of all my sin. I’m the one who broke the relationship with Him, yet He forgave me again.
Psalm 103 says
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
It was my responsibility to forgive the one who caused the pain.
In releasing that pain to Jesus and asking Him to help me forgive, I fix my thoughts on Jesus and experience personal freedom.
The relationship hasn’t mended, but I’m healing. And that’s my responsibility—forgiveness. I can’t change the other person. I can only control myself.
God encourages us to live life differently, to see life the way He sees it. That’s a huge challenge.
Hebrews 3 tells us to fix our thoughts on Jesus, who experienced every human struggle we face. But here’s the rub. Jesus faced what we face without sinning. In the first part of Hebrews 3, we’re told that Jesus remained faithful to the One who appointed Him—God the Father. Later in Hebrews, we’re told to fix our eyes on Jesus so we can persevere in life. Getting caught up in the pain of our woundedness or betrayal (understandably) makes it difficult to see other alternatives.
Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken.’
It’s easier to acknowledge a physical wound and receive sympathy and empathy for that wound than it is to voice the heartwound and mental anguish from sexual betrayal.
Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” We smile at this quip, but there’s a nugget of truth here. As one who has walked through the pain of recovery from porn addiction and suicidal depression, I know how vital it is not to get stuck. I’m so thankful for the people who told us we had hope. Finding safe people, Jesus-with-skin-on people eases the burden of carrying this pain alone. God provides these people when we ask Him to reveal them. He knows we need others to walk through the healing process and remind us there is hope.
Pain masks our hope. But hope remains.
To move beyond the pain into healing, you must fix your eyes and thoughts on Jesus to change your perspective.
God continually reminds me that people cause pain to others. Always have and always will. But Hebrews 12 encourages us to shift our perspective.
Only by looking at Jesus and following His example through the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives can we see more than the pain.
How do we fix our eyes on Jesus?
1. Study the Bible.
The only way to be focused on Jesus is to know who He is. How do you get to know Jesus? Read the Bible daily. I’ve discovered that missing one day of reading the Bible loosens my focus. But missing more than one day wounds my heart, mind, and soul. I find I’m impatient, discouraged, anxious, and have many other negative emotions and behaviors. I’ve lost touch with Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Diving back into the Bible helps reconnect me.
2. Guard your inputs.
If you’ve followed me for any time, you know I talk about inputs often. Where do you spend your most time? Who do you hang out with? What do you read? How much news do you watch every day? What television shows or movies do you gravitate towards? GIGO holds true: garbage-in-garbage-out. A dear friend’s son recently passed away. At his funeral, we heard story after story about how he encouraged others to look to Jesus no matter what. He chose to spend time with others who pointed him to Jesus so he could do the same for everyone he met. His life challenges were just like yours and mine, yet this was his legacy. It made me think.
3. Watch your words.
Every day you can speak life or death. It’s your choice. How often do you catch yourself speaking negative things about or to yourself or others? It’s so easy to do. But that’s not what Jesus did. If we choose to fix our eyes on Him, then with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can learn to speak life more than death. We do this through speaking encouragement, forgiveness, acceptance, love, and truth.
4. Invest in God-focused friendships.
Who speaks life and truth to you? Who points you to Jesus? Jeffrey Hall, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, has researched friendships for at least a decade. He asked several different groups how long it took to make a friend, and here’s what he found:
- It takes about 40-60 hours spent together in the first few weeks after meeting for people to form a casual friendship.
- To transition from a casual friend to friend takes about 80-100 hours of together time.
- For friends to become good or best friends, it takes about 200 or more hours spent together.
When I first heard these stats, my jaw dropped. But then I reflected on my friendships. Those I consider true friends (good or best) are the ones I spend the most time with. We’ve logged well over 200 hours through the years. And not all these friendships depend on proximity. Due to life circumstances, while the friendships started in the same location, we maintain contact via phone or video calls, letters, email, and text messaging. And, if we get to be in the same vicinity, we connect.
Fixing your eyes on Jesus helps you process the pain of your husband’s betrayal in healthy ways.
The only way I know to recover from betrayal in your heart and marriage is through a strong relationship with Jesus. My coaching clients and I work on this relationship at every step of the Aftershock Recovery Method. Once you get anchored in Jesus, then you begin healing. Without Jesus, I don’t believe there is any hope of true healing.
Dave and I often reflect on the miracle God brought to us and our marriage. We remind ourselves that God didn’t restore our marriage—He gave us a brand new one built on truth, trust, and authenticity. Our normal patterns destroyed us.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus brought a new way of life.
I know you have hope because of what God did in my life and marriage. It starts with fixing your eyes on Jesus and submitting to His way of doing life. Not sure about how to fix your eyes on Jesus? I’d love to show you this path. Let’s talk.