When anyone goes astray from "the faith"— especially when it's someone's son or daughter and without a doubt a spouse, the very first thing Christians are told to do by everyone is to use the flesh-feeder and widely accepted "tough love." Most everyone is familiar with the tough love approach, and chances are you have read about it in several of Erin's books and lessons. But for those of you who haven't let me explain briefly what tough love is.
Basically, it is giving the offender the ultimatum of either shaping up or shipping out: throwing someone out of your home or life (son, daughter, husband/wife) as a way of showing your disapproval and/or changing their behavior. Unfortunately, if it ever “works” it is always temporary; and when it goes badly it usually destroys the offender—pushing them deeper away from you and from God.
If that weren't enough to steer clear of this cancer, the family who administers this form of psychology-based rhetoric will be left with a giant hole in their heart. Worse, they're left with a testimony that is ruined. Why? Well to start it's because there is nowhere in the Bible that encourages us to handle the situation this way. Oh, wait, I take that back.
In the Old Testament the Israelites were told how to handle a son who was rebellious in this way; but as you read this, please keep in mind that this was before grace appeared after our Beloved took on our sins. This was the remedy back then, “Suppose a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or mother, even though they discipline him. In such a case, the father and mother must take the son to the elders as they hold court at the town gate. The parents must say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his town must stone him to death. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you, and all Israel will hear about it and be afraid." Deuteronomy 21:18-21.
So, for me to say that tough love is unbiblical would not be completely correct—however... to follow this Old Testament "before grace" you had better "follow the law" (that includes the blood sacrifice of an unblemished animal) and "following the law" to the letter you would have to stone the offender to death because as we read in other Old Testament examples, God was very clear about not sparing the evil person as we see what happened in many instances when their life was spared and how the sin spread through generations.
Well, now, that's interesting. While writing this God reminded me of Ishmael, you remember him, right? Abraham's son was conceived by Sarah's concubine (a widely used custom at the time, now its surrogates). Abraham's first son who was forced from his home, along with his mother, Hagar. So, for those who want to justify "tough love" could potentially refer to this example as a biblical principle for sending a rebellious child away.
No matter, we are able to see the consequences of, again, not destroying the evil behind it but instead, feeding the flesh of Sarah (who was reaping the consequences of her impatience) by sending her stepson away. To this day these two sons are still at war, wars that rage, to this day, with Israel (God's promised son for Abraham and Sarah) and the descendants of Ishmael.
So, there you go "tough love" has been around for centuries. But, can any of us deny that it comes with some pretty heft, undeniably heavy-duty consequences? Erin told me after what she experienced she personally began a campaign against this psychology-founded book when she was given it by her pastor, read it, applied the principles, and it instantly changed her back to the contentious woman (7 times worse she said) and instantly she began living through the nightmare when her husband abandoned her (and her four children). No wonder when I searched "tough love" on HopeAtLast.com that so many references showed up!
For me personally, when it was first discovered that my husband had been unfaithful to me (I caught them quite by accident in a hotel when my husband’s boss sent me there to look for him when he didn’t answer his page). Well, need I say that this chance "being set up by the devil himself" encounter broke me beyond belief?! I'll be honest, I was not angry (like you see women in movies or on social media) that go ballistic, but I was broken. I was devastated, and despondent. But by seeking the Lord, even to know how He could I forgive him (because as Erin said in “They Don’t Have It” and what I completely concur with) is when Erin says didn’t want to forgive, when Erin said she didn’t think he deserved it, and that Erin said she was sure could do it).
That's when grace kicked in and the Lord instantly changed her heart and my heart as well and it's only because she and I sought Him to do it. Basically saying "I give up" but also "I am giving this to You to deal with." Erin couldn't do it, I couldn't do it, and you couldn't "really" do it either. And even if it appeared that you had forgiven, it would have been "works" works of the fleshed disguised and all dressed up with the white robes of a soul who's nothing more than a white-washed tomb. I would never have been able to do it myself).
Forgiveness based on His grace, what He does, rather than what we "try" to do is so powerful. It will instantly begin the healing process in your own ♥ heart. My heart was tender and that's when we began a new chapter in our lives together—until the lie of "tough love" was passed onto me…
Like Erin, it was my pastor, who I trusted, who I know had to have meant well, said that he thought the book might help. He said he could see that things were on the mend, (I'd just read Erin's RYM I bought after hearing about it from a friend of a friend. When he handed it to me, after witnessing with his own eyes how much better I was, entirely at peace, then handed "tough love" to me saying, “just in case.” Just in case what? Just in case God's Word doesn't work?! So of course, the moment I read it, I know now, my flesh was all over it. Gobbling it up, every last morsel of it. Licking my fingers, licking the bowl (figuratively, of course, not licking anything). Oh, my it felt good to read those lies that gave my itching ear relief "wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and . . . will turn aside to myths.”
That's right, Mr. (oh, sorry I meant "Dr." (doctor death to relationships) the all-knowing world-renowned famous "Christian" famous author and expert in relationships. It doesn't take grace or any help to put your foot down and be tough with everyone who crosses you. Then you get to watch them, watch every step and with deep scrutiny so when (nope, not "if") they step out of line, with great self arrogance and superiority you can slam them. Slam 'em hard! It's what I did and what Erin (sort of) did too.
Then, the once-broken (and for the first time in my entire life) the person who exhibited the gentle and quiet spirit, turned into a monster. The contentious woman was back with a vengeance but she was turned up several (may I say 7) notches. "‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”
Oh reader, if only you could have witnessed just how hideous I was. And what's scary is that I really, truly, even then, sensed it, but what took over was stronger than I was. In just a single day the "tough loving" woman destroyed the relationship that God had recreated out of forgiveness. Not only did I feel the change in me, but my (once cheating husband who I had forgiven and who was doing his best to do the right thing, walk away from his involvement with the other woman, turned to me on Mother’s Day and told me "If I never see you again, Paula, that would be fine with me." Strong words, and not long after the shock wore off, I didn’t blame him a bit. Not one little bit.
The remainder of the consequences didn’t take long either. That's why I also had very strong opinions about that book and the accepted practice of tough love even before I began taking the free courses. Unfortunately, I'd missed that Erin warns us in the very first chapter of RYM, or I would have pulled my hand back (like touching something that's going to burn you) when my pastor handed me the book.
After I began working for RMI, I got to literally hear from hundreds of women who experienced the same devastating results from following this same book for their troubled marriage: things turned horrible, terrible, and it destroyed what little was left their marriage relationships (and any relationship you apply this principle to).
At one point, Erin told me that in her "very naïve mindset" she tried to contact the author personally believing that maybe he didn’t know how bad this book was. She told me, "I mean, he never tried it with his own wife who was unfaithful to him or his children who rebelled and became immoral—so how would he know? But unfortunately, no matter how many times and ways I tried, I never got even close (as far as I know) to getting word to this author." Don't you just love how passionate Erin is about doing what is right?!
Erin went on to say, very candidly, "Then I thought it was my duty to expose the author, but I quickly saw that my ministry should never be against anything or anyone, but instead, my heart was [is] to propagate the truth." Don't worry, like a lot of the words Erin uses I looked up propagate and it means "to make widely known; publicize" something.
So, what is the truth then you and I might ask?
The truth is that whenever someone chooses this failed and destructive method, neglecting grace and forgiveness, that our Beloved died for— someone is destroyed. And that destruction has a rippling effect!
Okay, let me say that I absolutely understand, and can sympathize with the questions that I know are bombarding your mind. "How can I possibly allow this behavior to go on under my roof?" And let's not forget the kids, "What happens to the innocent children in my home?"
Let me be honest and frank with you. This, dear reader, is something that I had to wrestle with over and over and over again with my children's father, and even more so, after my husband divorced me when one of my children who was one of the hardest hit by the divorce and their dad leaving, then living with his high school girlfriend, and living a lifestyle that he always preached against.
There is no way for me to describe how often I felt like applying tough love because I just wanted it all to stop! Yet, due to my relationship with my First Love, my Beloved, my Husband, before I do anything, I have learned to continually just ask Him. Let's face it, it was He, He alone, who kept me from doing what might have felt good at the time but would later have caused more heartache and destruction than what I inevitably lived (and often am living through). Instead of reacting, or ignoring, or talking about what was [is] going on, I chose [I choose], instead, to give it to the Lord—time, after time, after time, after time! It's honestly beyond what I can do, what you can do, what any person can do. It's a heart issue and a spiritual battle. Sure, I can fight it in the flesh but then what?
This means, I replaced the harshness, which was trying desperately to come out, with love, His love, that I bathe in several times a day. I follow PS123 because I want to prosper in all I do but also because His Word calms me and makes sense of my life and makes sense of the world.
Oh, but more than that, since the promises of love are so powerful and our Husband tells us that “love never fails” it's a promise that I often need. This means that each and every time I don’t know what to do, I apply love. No! Not tough love, but true love that is tough to do. It's the love that reacts with patience, kindness, goodness, and everything else that is wonderful. The results are always magical—supernatural in fact— that most of us miss.
When you are assailed [attacked verbally, as with ridicule or censure] with anything evil, the Lord told us plainly and specifically that we were not to resist it. This principle by the way was part of the Beatitudes (in other words, the Be-Attitudes, the way we are supposed to "Be" as His followers and without a doubt, as His bride). And going beyond non-resistance, we are told to go beyond this and He says we are supposed to bless the evil person.
That's exactly what the Bible, God's Word, tells us to do because something amazing happens when you do. You live in peace. On the inside and outside there is peace with no trace of pain, or bitterness (which is pain that goes into your spirit). It is like a healing balm that I have learned to run to when anyone hurts me. Quoting with permission A Wise Woman, Erin begins with God's Word, which says...
“Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?” There is a healing balm in the Word of God; there is a Physician, so why is the spiritual health of God’s people, the Christians, in such a devastating condition? Because we have turned to the philosophies of mankind, turned our focus to the mind of man, the psyche, rather than to his spirit. Though it is true that the psyche is the center of thought and behavior, and maybe even the soul of a man, it is the spirit that will remain. The spirit is the center of our existence and [our] need for God and His Word, which feeds and heals our spirit."
“It’s All My Fault”
These are the words that I said that brought out the goodness in my two oldest boys and what also opened my eyes to the power of taking the blame, and responsibility rather than forcing my boys to take it. The situation was this: I had found out that my two boys had read a book that was all the rage at the time. It was (once again) a Christian book, but the very first chapter hurt and offended me. It spoke lightly of a man; I believe he was a pastor (for sure he was a Christian), who imagined himself with a woman who was not his wife. Most mothers might not have had a problem with it. Remember, it was Christian fiction and most of the nation’s Christians were (at the time) reading it. But, reading the first chapter I knew it was not something that I felt my boys would ever read knowing the pain that adultery causes and what we were all living through.
When I found out what the book said in the very first chapter (I seem to remember it was how the book started!) and I asked them to come into my oldest son's bedroom. Their father was there as well, but I don’t remember him saying anything the entire time. I started by asking them about the book, and they looked embarrassed (a good sign they were able to understand what said wasn't right) and so they confessed to reading it. Then I told them that it was all my fault. They were more than startled, and in a way, so was I.
Honestly, once the words were out of my mouth— I could sense grace was taking over and filing that small room. Instantly I could feel grace lifting the burden of shame and condemnation and replacing it with forgiveness by taking the sin, just as He did for me (for us). Instantly both my sons broke into tears and gratefulness (they were in their early twenties at the time). We all embraced, all 3 of us, but my husband, their father just looked on.
This is what your Savior does for sinners—He takes our burden, giving us a heart of flesh and overflowing gratitude.
Dear friend, if your son, or daughter, or husband is in sin, you have the ability to take the blame, lifting the burden of shame, condemnation, and undo guilt that is weighing them down. Because when you live like the world and you are the one throwing the blame, shame, and condemning at your loved one, you are simply the spokesperson for the enemy whose nature it is to accuse. Accusing is ugly and damaging, and what is often at the root of your relationship’s destruction.
Why are you waiting for someone else to do what is right when it is YOU who has the power to break the chains that have your son, daughter, or husband bound? How long will you refuse to use the power that broke the chains of death for us all!?
Once I learned this powerful secret, I have found that using it is life-changing, and what is more, it brings me to the awesome and mind-blowing power of forgiveness. Each time I use it, in huge and small situations, I feel this sense of wonder at the God who sent His Son so that we could be forgiven. Oh my, my, my it's simply so powerful, so incredibly beyond what we can fathom, that it can pass us by without our even realizing the magnitude of such an enormous free gift.
This gift is what I choose to give to all my offenders. It is not something that I reserve for my family only—but I am more than willing to bestow it on anyone who does me wrong. This gift is limitless and only increases the more we use it. Sadly, because of PRIDE, few Christians will stoop that low, and therefore, most miss one of the greatest powers and kindest gifts that exist.
Personal Surrender: To take the blame. “Based on what I have learned from God’s Word, I surrender my will and give this change, and all others, to the One who can do it in me and through me. I'd like to take the blame, but I am weak while He is strong. So I am asking Him to carry the burden for the sin committed towards me while I will focus my attention on wrapping myself in His love, keeping my heart tender and overflowing gratitude to the One I love.”
Testimony: Repented and Wrapped in Love!
I am a member of your Restoration Fellowship and have been for quite some time. A friend recently reminded me of my neglect in praising God for my blessings.
At Christmas, this same friend let her own mouth become the cause of some "destruction" in her restoration path - and she was looking for some encouragement. I told her the story of my own husband, who left me on Christmas Eve. (I had always loved Christmas and now the sight of colored lights makes me want to throw up; however, I am being healed from this as years go by).
Through RMI's teaching of God's word, I quickly learned that this was to be the most important Christmas present of my life! The world saw a husband abandon his wife, but they did not see the contentious horror of a wife he was running from. Thank you RMI and Praise Jesus for showing me that log in my eye.
Even though my husband and I are now wonderfully restored, the devil tries to remind me of that awful night, starting when the decorations go up in the stores. He reminds me that my husband has never said he was sorry for the hurt – blah, blah, blah.
The first Christmas after he had been gone for one year, it took all I had to put up the lights for the kids. I had to buy new ones because I threw the prior year’s tree into the woods with the lights still on it! The next year, I foolishly wanted him to know how badly he had hurt me—he didn't even remember that he left on Christmas Eve, but that was because I had been praying Psalm 9:6 that he would forget that night! He was already spending more time with us than he was away from us. And as far as I knew, he had not had contact with the OW for months. He was almost home and we had a wonderful Christmas.
Unfortunately, I let my flesh take over as I mention/remind him of what he had done—oh, how our mouth can kill and destroy! My words drove him right back into the arms of the OW and into a spiritual battle— the likes of which I never want to see again. I repented and wrapped myself in the arms of Jesus.
In the midst of my nightmare, I dove back into His Word and learned to step out and just "believe" that our marriage was going to be restored. Whatever happened along the way did not matter!! Two months later, he was home for good, and four months later, we were restored!
I am nothing special and I messed up a lot more than this. I will not share all the other details for fear it may plant seeds of destruction in my life and/or yours. I will just say that God did for me, He wants to do for you!!!
This Christmas, my husband surprised me with a very big, "real" diamond wedding ring. He said, "Leaving you was the biggest mistake of my life and this ring is a symbol of our new life together!"
I never had a real ring before, and it pleased him so much to please me! God is so merciful and full of grace!
My husband went on to say that he planned to become a better servant of God, and a better husband and father. These are the exact prayers I have prayed and believed God for—for years.
Ladies, He is just waiting for you to let Him be God, OBEY and BELIEVE!