A paradigm shift is a fundamental change in approach or assumptions about a certain subject. It is a change from one way of thinking to another, which can be applied to our marriages, jobs, relationships, home life, parenting, health, etc.
In many cases, the circumstances or factors involved in a difficult situation in our life are not going to change, but what can change, is how we look at those situations – our attitudes towards them – and how our attitude is shaping and possibly maintaining a situation.
When it comes to marriage, one of the main things that keeps us discouraged is the feeling that nothing is ever going to change. Relationship challenges and problems always seem to remain the same, with no hope of change in sight. We know we can’t change the past, and we may not believe that the future holds changes either. We don’t believe that our man will ever change in ways we feel are necessary for our happiness and the long term success of the marriage.
Maybe they will, and maybe they won’t. Only God knows the future. We cannot always control our circumstances, and we can never control other peoples behaviors, actions or choices. As much as we would love to have the power to change others, especially our husbands at times, we simply cannot! Continually trying to do so leads to feelings of frustration and defeat and hopelessness.
The good news is that although there are a lot of things we cannot control, we always have control over our own minds, our own thoughts, our own actions and reactions, and our own choices. We always have control over the attitudes that we carry in our hearts and minds every day. And we always have control over how we allow those attitudes to affect our life, and our marriages.
A paradigm shift refers to striving for a total transformation of the mind, like a metamorphosis of sorts. Metamorphosis is an even more powerful word regarding change than transformation is, because it means a radical change, from the inside out.
A great example of metamorphosis is the cycle of the butterfly – it starts out as a yucky larvae, then turns into a squirmy caterpillar, then a pupa in a cocoon, and ultimately into an adult butterfly. Once the butterfly emerges from the cocoon, there is no sign of the old ugly caterpillar anymore, just the beautiful butterfly spreading its colorful wings.
It completely changes, first inside, then out. The old has gone. The new has come.
In marriage, it is so easy to get stuck in a mindset. Whether that mindset is positive or negative, is up to us, but if we choose the negative, we may get stuck in the cocoon.
Positive attitudes don’t just happen, they are purposely created. And optimism always sees the beauty.
In the familiar verse found in Romans 12:2, we read “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
The “pattern” of this world, with respect to marriages, is not good. Divorce is at an all time high, even among Christian marriages. Pornography use in marriages is a huge epidemic. Infidelity plagues our TV screens as an accepted practice, in politics, reality shows, comedies, and movies and it serves to plague countless marriages every day. True love is equated to mushy romance scenes that are unrealistic in most relationships. Deception, lies, mistrust, revenge, bitterness, and so on. These are the patterns of our world.
That is exactly why God calls each of us to be set apart from the world. To live in the world, but not of the world. The only way to do that, is to experience a paradigm shift, a transformation, a metamorphosis in our own hearts and minds so that we can set patterns in our lives and marriages that are pleasing to God, and only God.
True transformation requires making the choice every day to live God-focused instead of world-focused. To stay focused on what God can do, instead of what it appears He is not doing. To transform not only our minds, but our hearts, our speech, our actions, our choices, our pursuits, our dreams, and hopefully, our marital relationships.
In The Message Bible, Romans 12:1-2 is written in such a way that it puts a great spin on this topic of transformation, when it says “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Wow! I loved that. Powerful stuff. So how do we transform our attitudes to stop focusing on what is not right in the marriage, and start focusing on what is? How can we shift our perceptions about our husbands from critical to complimentary; from resentful to forgiving; from frustrated to fulfilled; and from hopeless to expectant? How do we learn to allow God to change us from the inside out, and in turn, change our marriages?
Friends, there is no easy answer, but a great place to start is to realize that our husband will never meet all of our needs. That sounds disappointing, yet it is true, and having that expectation only sets us up for disappointment.
Philippians 4:19 says “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Do we see the word “husband” in this verse? Nope. God didn’t intend for our husbands, or any other person in our life, to be able to meet our needs and make us fulfilled, content and joyful. Although we can certainly enjoy some of those gifts from our hubby, only God can do that completely.
My husband once told me I was “too needy”. Have mercy. Not the finest moment for him and I can tell you he quickly regretted those words. Yet, in my heart, I knew it was true, because as women, sometimes we are needy. We all long for that physical touch, romance, friendship, honesty, intimacy, provision and closeness, from the men that we have committed our life to. But the reality is, that sometimes our husbands just cannot meet all of those needs, and when when they aren’t fulfilling our needs, our attitudes shift in the wrong direction and weeds begin to grow. And Satan smiles.
When I truly accepted that my husband could not meet all of my needs or expectations no matter how hard he did or did not try, my faith grew, my walk with God got more exciting, and my marriage gradually improved. Not overnight, but over time.
The day God helped my attitude experience a paradigm shift, was my first step towards a changed heart, and a better marriage.
What a relief it was for me to embrace the truth that Jesus was the only Person who could fill every empty space in my heart. What a gift to my husband, to release him from the expectation that it was his responsibility and obligation to try to make me happy every second of every day. Of course, I still have those days when I backslide, when doubts and discouragement fill my mind or fears enter my heart; when my husband and I argue; or when I’m tempted to think once again that ‘things will never change’. But those are the days when I get back on my knees, and once again, pray for a paradigm shift to occur.
Our lives are by-products of our choices, not our circumstances. How we “see” things in our life, will determine what we are able to “see”. We can choose to be positive and God focused, always hoping for God’s best to be just around the corner – or we can choose to be negative and world focused, expecting that God’s victory will never be ours.
The choice we choose will determine the level of joy we can expect to have in life, in faith and in marriage. I’ve read that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. If we truly want different results in our marriage, a paradigm shift in attitude and heart might be necessary. If we continue to reap the same things, we’ll reap the same results. A paradigm shift is much like having an “aha!” moment, suddenly seeing things in such a new and fresh perspective that one can never go back to the old ways again.
A paradigm shift moves us from one line of thinking that we must discard to a new line of thinking that we must embrace. That new thinking could be exactly what God is calling us to do to not only change our own marriages, but to begin changing the broken patterns of this world.
DAY 14 FINAL CHALLENGE: EMBRACE A PARADIGM SHIFT
Your last and final challenge is this:
1) Consider whether or not you might need to embrace a paradigm shift in your way of thinking about your marriage and/or your husband. Consider whether or not you have been expecting your husband to meet all of your expectations, and if you could benefit from asking God to fill those empty spaces in your heart that it seems your husband can never fill.
2) Make a list of the things you “expect” of your husband. Make a list of the needs that you “expected” your husband to fill when you got married. Then ask God to begin helping you see what expectations you have placed on your husband, that in fact, only God can really meet. Pray for your husband to be attentive to the needs that only he can fill.
This is a tough challenge, because our thoughts are pulled into thinking “why should I change? He is the one who needs to change? He is the one who did this/that/and the other. What good does it do for me to change, if he refuses to change, or acknowledge the changes in me?”
I’m with you sister. I get it. Just remember that we only have control over our own thoughts and actions, but when we change our mindset, we might not only see things in a different light, but we also might become a role model that will inspire our husbands to embrace a personal metamorphosis as well.
The pattern of this world would be to point fingers, but the pattern of God would be to point to Him for guidance. With His help, our life and our marriages can emerge from the cocoons, and become beautiful butterflies. The old will be gone, and the new will take its place.
God is the King of transformation. The Master of metamorphosis.
And even if the circumstances of your marriage don’t change right way – you will.
As we close out this challenge, below is my prayer for you. To help you prepare your heart for this paradigm shift through the power of Christ as you continue in your journey to have the happy and fulfilling marriage that God longs for you to have:
Dear Jesus, please melt my heart towards my husband. Help me release him from the obligation of meeting all of my needs. But Lord, would you soften his heart so that he will understand my needs, and desire to meet the ones that only he can meet? You have brought us together for a reason, and I trust that You can get us through hard times, heal addictions, restore our relationship, and rekindle our love. Fill my heart with so much of You, that I do not need anything else, however You know and understand that the blessing of a happy and wonderful marriage is my heart’s desire.
Help me to experience personal victory in You, no matter my circumstances, so that I can truly change my mindset and transform my way of thinking. Help me to be set apart and not to get brainwashed or blinded by the patterns of this world. Guide my thoughts to good things about my husband, and not just the bad. Help me to forgive, and if needed, help me to forget. Give me the strength to love my husband unconditionally, just as You love me. Fill my mind and mouth with words that will help me achieve a metamorphosis in my soul, from the inside out. Help me to get rid of old thoughts and patterns, and embrace the opportunity to become a more positive person about my marriage.
Most of all Lord, please make your Presence known to me. Let me see a glimpse of You at work in my marriage so that I can continue to be hopeful and excited about the changes that are to come. I trust in You Lord, forgive me for doubting that you are bigger than all my problems. Help me to always remember that it is Your desire for me to be happy and fulfilled in all things. Thank you for my husband, and for the grace and mercy that you bestow on us both. In Your name, Jesus Christ, King of all Kings, Amen.”
NEXT WEEK: I will post a couple special follow up posts to the marriage challenge, so be on the lookout for them!
The two winners of autographed copies of Stressed-Less Living from Tuesday’s giveaway are noted below. If this is you, then congrats! Please click here to email your mailing address to me. Please reference this book in your contact email.
1) Charity who posted at March 26, 2013 at 10:29 pm
2) Lucretia who posted at March 26, 2013 at 11:06 am