1 Kings 13 – Trust the Director, Not the Plot

“Have you ever watched a movie and thought… “Wait a minute? That’s not supposed to happen!”

I feel that way after reading 1 Kings chapter 13. The chapter starts off well. There’s a clear good guy and bad guy. The good guy confronts the bad guy. And the bad guy seems to change his ways, while the good guy seems to win, staying true to his cause.

But then, everything changes. One good guy deceives the other good guy. A good guy walks away from his code of honor and gets killed. And the original bad guy continues to be just as evil as he ever was!

What kind of movie is this?!

Unfortunately, it’s not a movie. It’s real life. We want:

  • Things in life to be clear cut, with a predictable plot.
  • The good guy to always win.
  • The husband and wife to get back together.
  • Children to stay pure and innocent.
  • The cancer to be cured.
  • Hard workers to be rewarded.

And there are times when things work out the way we want. But there are other times when the plot changes and the outcomes just feel wrong.

But know this…the plot does not control the movie. The Writer/Director does. And in the end, it is what He wants that will prevail.

Throughout 1 Kings chapter 13, God is still writing and directing, no matter how twisted the plot may seem to be. (see 1 Kings 13:1,4-5,21-22,24,28,34.)

Even though the plot may appear twisted and unjust at times, the Director still controls the plot. And His plans for us are always good (Jeremiah 29:11). (Note: Jeremiah 29:11 was given to the Jews, even though they had been defeated, deported, and taken as slaves in a strange land for 70 years. How’s that for a twisted plot.)

There is a Writer/Director Who loves us unconditionally. He is in control of the plot, and He will ultimately make things right, in His time. (Proverbs. 3:5)

The One Thing No Spouse Wants To Deal With

No one wants them. We try to avoid them. But if you’re married, you can’t avoid them. So we skirt them and try to spend as little time as possible with them.

I am not talking about in-laws. I’m talking about hard conversations.

If you’re married, there are going to be some hard conversations. You can’t avoid them. In fact, the more you try to avoid them, the worse they become.

WHAT MAKES CONVERSATIONS HARD AND WHAT YOU CAN DO

Hard conversations are just that…they’re hard. And there are some good reasons for that. Here are a few things that can make conversations hard…

Topics.

There are some topics in marriage that are just hard to talk about. Some of the the more common hard topics are:

  • Money.
  • Children.
  • Sex.
  • In-laws.
  • Personal Habits.

These types of topics make for hard conversations because they feel personal and they highlight our differences and disagreements.

If a topic is uncomfortable for you, admit that to your spouse, upfront. Let them know why it’s uncomfortable for you, and ask them to be patient with you as you have the conversation.

Temperaments.

Our temperaments also make certain conversations hard. We tend to avoid hard conversations if we are:

  • Fearful.
  • Anxious.
  • Angry.
  • Insecure.
  • Depressed.
  • Have low self-esteem.
  • Feel insignificant.

These are traits that cause people to avoid, withdraw, or conceed; as well as to aggressively and angrily overpower the other person so as to silence the conversation.

If this is you, and a hard conversation is on the horizon, you need to:

  • Take a moment to calm yourself. Get comfortable and breathe deeply and slowly until you’re more relaxed.
  • Remind yourself you’re not adversaries. You’re just normal people who have different views and needs.
  • Think of all the difficult things you’ve successfully worked through in the past. Tell yourself that this will eventually be another one of those things.
  • Start the conversation by telling your spouse that you love them. Tell them you are committed to trying to meet their needs and having a marriage you both will enjoy.
  • Agree to take a break if needed. If the conversation gets bogged down or negative, agree to take a break from it and return to it at a set time.

These steps will help you take control of your temperament.

Timing.

Many conversations are made more difficult because of poor timing.

Sometimes we choose a poor time to have the conversation. Here are some examples of poor times to start a hard conversation:

  • At bedtime, or late at night.
  • When your spouse is busy or focused on something else.
  • If your spouse is already upset or angry.
  • When your spouse is exhausted.

You may feel these are the only times you have, but you would be able to find a good time to talk to your kids about something important, and you can do the same for your spouse.

Another problem with timing is that we procrastinate and wait too long to have the conversation.

We put off the conversation. We convince ourselves it’s too small of a thing to deal with. Or we hope it will get better on its own. But when we wait too long to have a hard conversation, two things happen:

  • First, the problem builds up within us over time and we are too emotional when we finally bring up the subject.
  • Second, so much time has passed between the incident that called for the conversation and the actual conversation that the other spouse feels blind-sided and wonders where it’s coming from.

Pick a time when things are relatively calm and good. Tell your spouse you would like to talk to them about something, and ask for a good time to do that. This might put them on high alert, but assure them it’s ok. Ask if you could go out for dinner or dessert to talk. If their curiosity can’t take the suspense, give them a very general idea of what you want to talk about, but don’t get into it right then and there.

Your spouse may try to keep putting you off, but stay lovingly persistent.

Talking.

Here, I’m referring to talking too much or too little.

If you’re someone who handles hard conversations by talking a lot, then you need to talk less and listen more. This will communicate to your spouse that you care about what they think and feel.

If you’re someone who handles hard conversations by withdrawing and not saying anything,  you need to open up more, so that your spouse knows what you’re thinking and feeling. When you open up, it keeps your spouse from feeling shut out.

Twisting.

Finally, conversations become hard when we twist what our spouse is trying to say. We do this when we get so defensive and caught up in our own emotions we don’t hear what our spouse is truly saying to us.

To keep from twisting what your spouse is saying, try the following…

  • Listen without interrupting.
  • If your spouse is going on and on, and you’re losing track of what they’re saying, then hold up your hand and tell them you really want to follow what they’re saying, but you’re starting to lose track.
  • Then, tell them what you think they’re trying to say to you at that point.
  • If your spouse agrees that you’ve heard them correctly, then take a moment to respond to that…and only that. Keep it short and don’t start adding other things to it. Stay on topic.

If the two of you will keep repeating this process, it will help to keep the two of you from twisting each other’s words. It will also make hard conversations less difficult and more productive.

A FINAL WORD

To sum it all up, you can’t avoid having hard conversations in marriage, but you can make those hard conversations a “TAD” easier by remembering the acronym T-A-D. Be careful with your Timing, your Attitude, and your Delivery.

So don’t be afraid of hard conversations, and don’t avoid them. You can do this. And when you do, you and your spouse will grow closer for it.

It’s Marriage Not Magic!

I love a good magic show. As a kid, I would practice for hours learning sleight of hand magic. And now that I’m an adult and know it’s just a series of tricks and illusions, there’s still something about the wonder and the mystery of a magic show that captivates me.

Marriage and Magic

Whether you like magic or not, there is a part of all of us that wants our marriage to be magical. And we tend to treat our marriage as if it were a magic show, in the following ways:

Making something disappear.

Magicians are known for making things disappear. From small coins to jet planes, magicians seem to be able to make things disappear right in front of our eyes.

Likewise, spouses tend to want problems in the marriage to disappear. We ignore issues, down-play conflicts, or distract from problems in hopes they will magically disappear. But marriage is not a magic show and problems don’t magically disappear. They must be faced, addressed, and worked through.

Making something appear.

This is the flip side of making something disappear. Here, the magician magically produces something…seemingly out of thin air.

Many couples hope a great marriage will just appear, without a lot of effort. It’s as if they hope for great communication, easy conflict resolution, good sex, and large bank accounts to be magically produced out of thin air. But those things don’t magically appear. They come from an abundance of long, hard work.

Sawing a person in half.

This is a classic piece of magic. An assistant climbs into a box, and the magician uses a saw or sharp blades to separate the assistant into pieces; only to reassemble the assistant moments later, without a scratch!

In marriage, spouses will cut one another, with words or actions, and expect them to bounce back as if no harm was done. But you cannot hurt your spouse without leaving some sort of scar that they will carry for a long time. And sometimes a spouse can be cut so badly they can’t be put back together. So be very careful with your words and actions.

Reading a person’s mind.

It’s amazing when a magician can tell a person what card they drew or what number they’re thinking of. A magician can call upon someone they claim to have never met, and yet tell them things about their life in amazing detail. It’s like the magician can read minds.

I want to remind you that you cannot read your spouse’s mind. So don’t make assumptions about what they’re thinking, what they’re going to say, or what they desire. To do so is disrespectful and a sure way to get yourself in trouble.  Yes, you should get to know your spouse so well, you have a pretty good guess of what they’re thinking. But you should never assume you can read their mind. Ask questions and clarify responses. You’ll be better off for it.

Escaping the impossible.

One of my favorite magicians was Harry Houdini. He became famous as an escape artist, who bragged that he could escape from any shackle, restraint, or container. And whether through trickery or physical prowess, it seemed he could escape from anything.

Too often, we tend to believe we should be able to escape problems and hardships in marriage. We will try to ignore them, avoid them, and run from them. And when those escape tactics don’t work, we will blame things on our spouse or assume we’ve married the wrong person. But unlike a magician, you cannot escape from problems and hardships in marriage. You must go through them and learn from them.

A Final Thought…

Magicians make what they do look amazing and magical. But what you don’t see is all the years of hard work and practice that went into making it look like magic.

Marriage is not a magic show. If you put in the years of hard work and practice, your marriage will look like magic to others, but you’ll know how the trick is done. You’ll know it’s not magic, but rather years of trial and error, loving and learning, serving and sacrifice.

But if you stick with it long enough, you will eventually come to the end of your life and think…TADA!

If You Want A Fairytale Marriage…

I raised two daughters, and I have four grandchildren. So I’ve read my fair share of fairytales.

You would think that people would eventually outgrow fairytales, but there’s one fairytale no one seems to outgrow.

Perhaps it’s our early diet of princess and shining knight stories (thank you Disney,) but we still tend to believe that marriage should be like a fairytale.

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Do You Really Want a Better Marriage?

Do you really want a better marriage? Sounds like a stupid question, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want a better marriage?

No one wants their marriage to be bad, yet so many marriages continue to languish in various states of dissatisfaction, irritability, and outright hostility. What is it that keeps so many spouses wishing they had a better marriage, but never getting one? Often, people blame it on their spouse or their circumstances, but that approach leaves them feeling stuck and powerless.

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How to Waste Your Marriage…and Your Life

It’s so easy to waste your marriage on things that don’t benefit you or your spouse. The problem is, you often don’t realize it until it’s too late. So below are 5 contributors to a wasted marriage that you need to watch for. (To help you remember them, they’re form the acronym W.A.S.T.E.)

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How to Embrace Change

People who know me know I am not a handyman. I’m someone who can turn a simple fifteen minute fix-it job into an all day nightmare. I am the guy from whom repair people make their money.

So with that in mind, here’s the story…

It was around eight in the evening and my wife was in the laundry room when I heard these words. “Oh no! That’s just great!” Though I didn’t want to, I asked, “What’s wrong?”

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How to Fight the Good Fight

Some of my favorite movies (much to my wife’s dismay) are “The Matrix” trilogy of movies. They never get old to me. I can watch them over and over and still find new thing in them that I didn’t see before.

This happened a while back when I was watching “The Matrix Reloaded (2003). In this movie, the hero (Neo) has been summoned by someone who is supposedly on Neo’s side…Seraph. But when Neo gets there, Seraph begins to fight with him. When the fight is over, Neo asks Seraph why, and Seraph replies, “You do not truly know someone until you fight them.”

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Looking for Buried Treasure

One day, I was out walking and noticed a man with a metal detector methodically covering a patch of ground. Slowly and diligently, he combed first one patch of ground and then another, occasionally stooping to dig up a coin or small trinket. After an hour, he finally packed up his gear and left.

As I walked, I found myself wondering, “Why would someone put so much time, effort, and resources into looking for what seems to be such a small pay off?” Still, he seemed content and generally happy…as if the act of looking for treasure produced its own value.

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This is Not What I Expected

 

Expectations. We all have expectations before we get married. We have expectations about what marriage will be like. We have expectations about how our spouse will act. We have expectations that tend to become the standard by which we measure and evaluate the quality of our marriage. We expect things like…

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