Growing up I never had the choice of whether or not I was going to church. Each and every Sunday morning, my Mother woke us up by 8:00 am so we could all get in and out of the one bathroom we had and be ready on time. Even as we got older and went out on Saturday nights, it didn’t matter how late we stayed up the night before, my sisters and I knew what we were going to be doing on Sunday morning. To make it a little easier for us to get out of the bed, my Mother prepared waffles for us. She didn’t take the easy way out and pop some Eggo’s in the toaster, she made waffles from scratch, prepared in an ancient waffle iron. Waking up to the smell of waffles every Sunday morning will always be a fond memory for me.
As a believer, it was important to my Mother that the four of us went to church with her. Going to church was a tradition in my family. My mother often told us stories of how my grandmother made sure she went to church every Sunday. My grandmother was the church organist for many years before my brother took over for her. My mother’s grandfather was a pastor so my grandmother and her siblings also grew up attending church regularly. I did no less for my own children insisting that they attend church every Sunday morning especially while they lived under my roof.
When I went off the college, I couldn’t wait to stay home on Sunday mornings and sleep in. However, each and every time I did so, I felt guilty because I had been taught that going to church was the best thing for me. As soon as I had my own transportation, I made my way back to the church and joined a local fellowship. I enjoy being part of a church family and having a network of people who care about me and support me. Being a pastor’s wife you already know where to find me every Sunday morning. The only time I will miss Sunday morning service is if I am sick or traveling.
I know what going to church does for me, but did you know that people who regularly attend religious services tend to be healthier and live longer? Don’t believe me? There has been research to prove it. The California Public Health Foundation published a study in the American Journal of Public Health, and found a strong association between attendance at religious services and lower mortality. One study showed that if you have heart surgery and your church community is supporting and encouraging you and most likely praying for you, you’ll be three times more likely to be alive six months later.
The news gets even better for African Americans that attend church regularly. If you are an African American who attends church regularly you will live almost 14 years longer than those who never or rarely attend religious gatherings.
Here are five life changing reasons you should attend church regularly:
1. Lower blood pressure and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
Researchers have found that high levels of religious involvement were associated with lower rates of circulatory diseases, digestive diseases, respiratory diseases, and just about every other disease studied.
2. Lower rates of depression and suicide
Spiritual people are happier, have better mental health and have better coping skills when life’s problems arise. Faith in a higher power induces positive emotions which counteracts stress. Christians also tend to find meaning in the face of grief, loss and trauma.
3. Less risky behaviors
Religious people tend to behave better than nonreligious peers and are less likely to participate in risky behaviors such as alcoholism, drug abuse or sexual promiscuity.
4. Stronger immune systems
Some religious communities have noticed a protective effect on health. I ran across a study where Mormons in tight knit communities experience less cancer than the general population. Stress has been known to weaken the immune system. Religious people are also more likely to forgive, which prevents negative emotions such as anger and resentment from triggering stress responses.
5. Involvement in a spiritual community prevents social isolation
People who share religious beliefs tend to take care of one another. Attending church events gets you out of the house and around people. Being alone without a support system can actually be harmful to your health.
Hopefully, you can see the benefits of being part of a church family. So what are you waiting for? Let’s go to church! By the way, Happy Easter!
I remember in my first marriage stating our solemn wedding vows to love in sickness and in health until death do us part. I confessed my love for my first groom to God and all of humanity. I was so in love and there wasn’t anything I would not do for him. I even ignored his faults. He was the one for me. Seven years later, love was the last word coming out of my mouth. How did I go from love to hate in a matter of years? How does the person you loved beyond a shadow of a doubt suddenly become your number one archenemy?
Even ten years after divorce, some women are still angry and have resentment towards their ex. In an article entitled “Hating the One You Love,” author Ben-Zeen argues that the presence of love in a relationship can eventually be a fertile ground for the emergence of hate. He states, “When the intensity and intimacy of love turns sour, hate may be generated. Many crimes have been committed in the name of love.”
Interestingly enough we want exclusivity when we love someone; however, when love turns to hate, we want everyone else to hate them as well. We are quick to explain why we feel the way we do to defend our posture. How many times have you found yourself sharing the negative side of the story, leaving out all of the positive aspects? In fact, we can get so used to telling our story and placing the blame on the other person, our mind begins to embellish the story to justify our complaint.
Be careful about using the word hate. In other words, don’t go out and buy the “I hate my ex” t-shirt. Yes, believe it or not they sell them on the internet. Please don’t spend money to accentuate the hate! Instead get the aggression out of your system in a healthy way. Try writing a letter to your spouse expressing all of your feelings and get it all out. Write the letter by hand as fast as you can, seal it up, and then read it a week later. Do not mail the letter. Reading the letter at a later time will help you determine if you are moving forward or if you are still stuck in the same place.
Don’t use the word hate; instead, write down the number of things you love. Make a list entitled “The things I love.” Write down as many items as you can think of and incorporate the things you love into your daily life until you no longer have the word hate in your vocabulary.
I have met people who hate everything. They hate their job, they hate their neighbors, they hate certain foods, and they hate the weather. Deliver me from people who are so miserable that they hate everything. There is nothing worse than being around someone that detests everything about their life. I had a friend who found something wrong with everything. I finally had to distance myself from her because she could ruin your day just talking about what she ate for breakfast.
Think about when you have used the word hate in relation to another person. Was it a friend who betrayed you? Was it someone who did something to you that you find hard to forgive? When you used to love someone and now you hate them, you are really saying that you don’t care anymore.
Some say the opposite of love is not hate. Blogger Brigid Bishop says, “Hate is not the opposite of love, hate is love in its angriest, ugliest form.” (Bishop, 2013) After I read her blog, I understood feelings of hatred a little better. If you really think about it, only those we truly love can cause us to be angry enough to invoke feelings we feel are hatred. However, the Bible teaches us to love and not to hate. 1 John 3:15 (TLB) says “Anyone who hates his Christian brother is really a murderer at heart; and you know that no one wanting to murder has eternal life within.” Hatred will cause you to focus on what another has done wrong to you and may ultimately lead you to sin. Do the right thing and hate no one, even those who have persecuted you. Look at Jesus’ example. He loved the world even when they hated him enough to want him dead.
During a divorce, most assets get divided in half. A couple may decide who gets the property and other belongings, but who gets custody of your friends? Should friends be divided in half? Couple friends are often placed in a delicate position. They care about both of you, but can no longer invite both of you to their house at the same time. Many times women and men want to maintain the friendship separately. What happens the next time they have a party? Should they invite one and not the other? Who decides?
The outcome really depends on who was a friend before your marriage or other conditions surrounding the friendship such as working together or going to church together. The friends I worked with continued to be my friends and if I knew them first or outside of my marriage, they remained friends. Whatever you do, it’s not a good idea to try to make people choose. Don’t try to influence anyone by bad mouthing your spouse in order to win conflicted friends over to your side.
Your friends should be allowed to decide who they want to maintain as a friend after the divorce. If they suddenly stop returning your calls, don’t take it personally. Most of all don’t harass them trying to convince them that you are the victim. Don’t try to steal friends by confronting them and trying to make them feel sorry for you or guilty for maintaining a relationship with your former spouse.
Some couples can’t choose and will continue to invite both of you over which can be extremely awkward. You may have to turn down a few invitations here or there as to not run into your spouse. It gets even more awkward when one or both of you start dating or remarry. Don’t be surprised when suddenly the invitations to family and friends’ gatherings come to a screeching halt. I remember the first time I didn’t get invited to a birthday party for one of my former friends. I had just seen them at the mall and they didn’t mention anything. I was really disappointed when I found out the party had already occurred. What was even more disheartening years later was not being invited and finding out my ex-spouse was invited and brought a guest along with him.
Friends often feel like they have to choose between you and your ex-spouse, and they don’t know how to continue being friends with both of you during the divorce period. Again, don’t take it personally because their choice may have nothing to do with you. Your status my expose their vulnerabilities. Just like they may not have had a clue what was going on in your home, you may not be aware of their marital struggles. Sadly some of my friends sought my advice later when their marriages were failing or they were going through a divorce themselves.
If you lost friends in the divorce process, you may find yourself mourning over your loss. You may feel like Job did in his time of trouble. “My best friends and loved ones have turned from me.” (Job 19:19 CEV). Use Godly discernment when seeking new friends. Pray for guidance and God will send the right people your way. Be careful of those who just want to get the real story. Be careful of finding pity party buddies. Seek out friends who are like-minded who also share your values. The quickest way to ruin your testimony is to choose the wrong friends, those with the wrong reputation. Choose your friends wisely.
Finally, it’s too bad you can’t keep all of your friends after a divorce, but it is reality. There’s a time for everything and friends were meant to be in your life for a season. Now that you are in a new season, it is time for new friends. Friends can be helpful in this difficult season in your life and they can be found in many places even if you have known them for a long time. There are some old friends who will stick by you and support you and you can always count on them through thick and thin. They have been there for you perhaps before you married and will continue to be your friend. Take an inventory of your friends and decide which ones you want keep. Then ask God to send you some new friends. In 2nd Corinthians 4:8-9 (GNT) Paul reminds us: We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.”
Remember your first day at school? You were nervous about making new friends, but by end of the week you had at least two best friends.
In today’s stepfamilies, most husbands are not the custodial parent of their biological children. In fact data shows that only 7% of divorced fathers have primary custody of their children. Once divorced and remarried, many men find themselves being in a situation where they live with their stepchildren and are visited by their biological children every other weekend. There is a small percentage of men who have joint custody of their children and parent more than two weekends a month.
Divorced fathers who were used to full time parenting often find it difficult to be separated from their children. Noncustodial fathers miss the day to day interaction of seeing children off to school, seeing them when they come home from school, being greeted by his children when he arrives home and tucking them in bed at night. These remarried fathers often watch their wives with envy because the wife has custody of her children and get to spend quality time with them most of the time.
When you marry someone with children, you must always keep in the back of your mind that he could end up having custody of his children. The very thought may frighten any woman especially is she has struggled in the past to build a positive and loving relationship with his children. However, it can happen. You have gotten used to the every other weekend routine, but the thought of having permanent custody scares you to death. Perhaps you have been married for only a short while or married for some time and your husband declares that he wants full custody of his children or wants them to come and live with him. What do you do when your husband decides he wants to get custody of his children?
Here are some clear suggestions on what to do or say when your husband indicates he wants custody.
Even though you want to panic, don’t. Try to stay positive. Think about the benefits of your husband being able to parent his children full time. Have the crucial conversations on how everyone in the household will have to prepare. Have a conversation with your stepchild(ren). A child can tell when he or she is not wanted. Let them know it will be an adjustment for you but you are willing to work with them to make theirs and your transition easier.
Lastly, if you have any resentment about the changes in your life and your marriage don’t feel guilty about your feelings. Your life could change significantly, but remember you married for better or worse, right? Find someone to talk to so you can get it all out. A listening ear from another stepmom will go a long way. Lastly, meditate on these two scriptures:
Philippians 4:11 - "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
I Peter 4:9 - "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach