I love going to the County Fair. It is the undeniable cultural experience of the summer, isn’t it?
The Fair is where you stuff your face with all manner of culinary confections that you’d never eat anywhere else. It was the Fair that gave us deep-fried Twinkies® and the world’s largest donut. And every time I go, I feel compelled to take it all in. But the sadistic thing about the Fair is that the food isn’t the only bad decision you’re going to make that day. You go straight from grease-eating to roller-coastering.
The rides at the Fair are kind of like Disneyland, only without all those pesky safety features. You pack your stomach with fried carbs and lard, spin it around on a Carnie Special and then top it all off with a gigantic turkey leg and funnel cake. Is it any wonder I’m half doubled over before I get back to the car? I usually feel less than fair by the time I’m leaving the Fair.
A few toxic decisions are enough to ruin what was supposed to be a great time. The same is true of our marriages. As we look at the keys to a marriage rehabilitation, we first must tackle the FIVE TOXIC TUMBLES THAT CRIPPLE RELATIONSHIP:
1. SELF-CENTEREDNESS (James 3:14)
Are you willing to admit you can be a little bit selfish at times? When I want my way, with little or no regard for the cost to others, I’m about to take a nosedive over the stumbling block of self-centeredness.
2. BITTERNESS (Hebrews 12:15)
Mark Twain once said that, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die.” Maybe you were hurt or wronged, and have a right to be angry. Maybe your woundedness isn’t your fault. But bitterness will cripple you if you carry it around. It will choke the life right out of you.
3. ARROGANCE (Proverbs 16:18)
This is pride that won’t admit when it’s wrong—that holds onto a grudge. I know people who would rather get a divorce, lose a job or a friendship than humble themselves. Proverbs 16 says that, “Pride comes before a fall.” Arrogance literally tumbles you.
4. SHAME (Genesis 4:1-6)
Shame is different than guilt. Guilt says, “I did something wrong.” Shame says, “I’m wrong AND defective—unredeemable.” Shame is destructive. It shuts us down. It’s crippling effect holds healing at bay. Shame is like camouflage to the real cancer in our lives, and it injects a powerful toxin into our relationships.
5. FEAR (I Timothy 1:7)
This is the worst of the toxins. Fear rushes over us like a black wave. Fear blows into our lives as a bitter wind. We do strange things when we are gripped by fear. And it is fear that is the enemy of faith.
Why do wives withhold affection from their husband? They’re afraid of being hurt.
Why do employees do less than their best? They’re afraid of being taken advantage of.
Why do dads disengage from their families? They’re afraid to look stupid or that life will be less fulfilling by investing at home.
Why do we avoid God and run from His love? We fear that God’s plan will not be as life-giving as the one we might come up with on our own. But like each of the previous toxins, this fear trips us up from really catching our stride in life. It tumbles our relationships.
What we need is a supernatural installment of peace in the midst of our distress. The truth is that God’s love is impervious to panic; His love always casts out fear. We need only recognize that:
…God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?
Hebrews 13:6 (MSG)