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  • Writer's pictureFilip

I wasn't the problem

For several years I had been battling with depression, anxiety, anger, irritability, selfishness, and even isolation which all caused quite a bit of damage and unhappiness in my marriage on both sides. Just to be clear, I have never been physically abusive, but I will admit that my words have often been harsh, demeaning, and often even degrading. Throughout all of these battles, I had constantly felt like I was not the problem and that if other people, in particular my wife, would just change or do this or that, I would be happy and joy-filled. It would take an extremely harsh and emotional conversation with my wife to finally help me to realize that way of thinking is heavily flawed and obviously the wrong approach.

We had been through several different marriage seminars and counseling as a couple over the years, but throughout all of those I was expecting most of the change to occur from my wife and that I would be happy if she just changed this or did that. Throughout all of this, I made some minor changes here and there but never really anything that addressed my internal struggles and battles. Basically, I just wasn't ready for any of it at those times as my focus for my own happiness and joy was on a flawed, worldly way of understanding.

The world will tell us that we should only have people in our lives that MAKE us happy. That we should surround ourselves with only perfect people and circumstances. That we should only focus on all the joys and happiness that others BRING to our lives. I'm sure you've heard the saying that goes something to the effect of "you are who you surround yourself with." Every last bit of these statements keeps our identity, our happiness, our joy, and quite simply everything about us in full control of the world.

This way of thinking is so very flawed because it puts the privilege and responsibility of defining who we are, what our identity is, and what makes us happy on other flawed and sinful people. We must remember that the people of this world are just as flawed as we are, so why would we even consider giving them that much power over us? I was stuck in this mentality where I could not even fathom being happy unless those people I surrounded myself "MADE" me happy. If they didn't MAKE me happy, then they weren't going to be in my life very long or I was just going to complain to them until they did better at making me happy.

This unfortunate mentality ended up being a dividing force in my marriage, sadly. I expected my wife to do everything that I thought would make me happy and kept pointing the finger at her in my brain for justification as to why I wasn't happy. This ultimately led to the downward spiral in my own mind and outward negative actions that caused depression, anxiety, anger, and irritability in me as my default emotions. Additionally, it caused me to isolate myself from pretty much EVERYONE, because if I couldn't be happy with my own wife then nobody could ever make me happy. If I try and bring other people into my life, they're just going to disappoint and hurt me, so why even bother?

I was so broken in this way of thinking until I finally got fed up with it after a deep and hurtful conversation with my wife over a fourth of July weekend. It was as a result of this conversation that I found several podcasts to listen to, but the main one that helped me drive change and correct my focus was the Real Men Connect podcast by Dr. Joe Martin. As a result of his podcasts, I joined the Real Men 300 and began to find my identity in Christ, my happiness from Jesus, my joy from God, accountability from Godly men, and the things I needed to fix/change in myself and my own habits to build all of these up fully.

Here are some of the changes I made early on in my 300 journey that I feel made the biggest impact on my life as a whole:

  1. Quiet time in God's word every day: Ever since I joined the 300 and learned how to do a quiet time, I have been consistent with doing my quiet time daily with the journaling process. I never learned how to do a quiet time with God, so the 300 opened my eyes to this. I decided to wake myself up a little earlier everyday so I could start my day off with quiet time and I wanted to make sure I did it every day, because I know myself well enough to know that if I don't do it one day then I will likely fall into the trap of if 1 day is okay, then what's another day off and so on. At first it was a little rough because I was still learning and still changing as well as adjusting to the new sleep schedule, but after a couple of weeks, WOW! This has been an amazing thing for me and now I yearn for it daily. Ever since I started with the 300, I have had 7 days of quiet time accompanied with 7 days of journaling every single week and it has truly been the biggest blessing to me to be able to live in this relationship and conversation with my Father on a daily basis.

  2. How I view my wife: I now view my wife as one of God's children built in His image. I think about the things I do for and say to her as doing and saying them directly to Jesus. I'm still not perfect at this, but I have gotten better. The biggest change this has helped me make is not expecting a return on my "investment" for the things I do and simply doing things because God wants me to do them. I've taken over laundry duties, I'm doing the dishes almost daily. I vacuum and cleanup things pretty much daily or as needed. I've been doing more for my wife without an expectation of receiving anything in return. The reason is because I view those things as me doing them for Jesus and He gave his life as a sacrifice for ALL of my sins (and there's a lot of them), so how can I ever expect to invest enough to get a return on investment for that amazing cost he paid for me?! I will gladly do whatever I need to do for my wife if that's what God wants me to do.

  3. Consistency through Accountability: My biggest issue in the past has been sticking to things--consistency. At the same time, I've never been one to truly surround myself with Godly men for accountability purposes. For the last 10 years, I've really just isolated myself for the most-part, not really doing too much outside of the family, so there really has been no Godly men influencing me nor holding me accountable. This changed when I joined the 300, because now I have nothing but Godly men holding me accountable pretty much on a daily basis. This has been HUGE for me and has pushed me further in my faith walk than I could have ever imagined.

  4. Forgiveness: I listened to a Forgiving Forward podcast and watched an instructional video on the Forgiving Forward process. I felt the urge from the Holy Spirit to take it on, so I decided to buy the book on it so I could understand it better. I went through the forgiveness prayers and process of however I felt God leading me in it over the course of almost an entire day. I must say, I was hesitant at first about it because I didn't think it would do much, but WOW! Harboring all of that unforgiveness inside of me and forcing myself into a self-inflicted prison for the majority of my life and then all of a sudden releasing myself from that self-inflicted prison with God's grace and God's forgiveness was just an absolutely life-changing experience.

All of this is just me speaking from the heart on the changes I've made through God's counsel that I feel helped me the most recently as well as many of the struggles I faced as a result of pointing the finger at others instead of at myself. Now, when I try to point the finger at someone else, God slips a mirror in front of my finger and points it right back at me. This reminds me that I am only in control of myself and that no person on this earth has power over me. God is my Lord and Savior and it is through His grace that I am as far in this life that I am today. I could very well be in jail or dead at this point with some of the mistakes I made as a youth, but it's because of His grace and protection that I am where I'm at today.

Thank You, Father, for all that You have blessed me with in my life. Even when I didn't accept Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior, You were there for me. Even after I accepted Jesus and wasn't a consistent follower, You were there for me. Even through all my sin that I've committed throughout my life and even to this day, You have always been there for me, Father. Thank You for never giving up on me and for always being there when I call for You and even when I don't. I love you, Father.

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