Category: Relationships

When the Road Darkens

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By Paula Marolewski, September 22, 2010 10:24 am

This morning I considered two quotes. One is from a movie version of the Agatha Christie novel Death on the Nile, where a self-centered and arrogant young woman comments, “Isn’t it awful when one’s friends fall on hard times? One simply has to drop them!”

The other is a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien. It says, “Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”

What kind of a friend are you? When your friends are crushed under life’s circumstances … when doubt and depression and grief overtake them … when the pain seems to go on without end … what will you do?

Will you immediately wash your hands of them? After all, they don’t have anything they can give to you. They can’t meet your needs in the middle of their own crisis.

Will you keep the relationship going for a little while, but with less and less energy and initiative on your part until it finally fritters away? Get on with your own life and leave them behind to succeed or fail on their own?

Or will you be faithful when the road darkens? Will you walk the entire length with them, the whole Via Dolorosa? Knowing it’s going to cost you. Knowing it’s going to hurt. Knowing it’s going to be a long, long tunnel before they come out the other side. 

What kind of a friend are you?


© 2010 Paula Marolewski,

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Salt Mines and Power Lines

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By Paula Marolewski, September 22, 2010 10:21 am

As a single person, I’ve asked a lot of people about marriage. Over time, I became exceedingly frustrated at the comment I heard most often – and usually first out of their mouths:

“Marriage is a lot of work.”

I finally sat down and analyzed my response to this #1 comment. Why did I resent it so much? Why did it make me so angry? After all, I reasoned, everything I’ve read and heard about marriage does state clearly that a lot of work is involved. So why did I feel so negative toward this comment? Did I have my head in the clouds? Did I not want to admit that work was involved in making a marriage?

Then I realized what I was responding to. It wasn’t the concept of work – it was the way people said it: “Marriage is a lot of work,” said with a sigh, a droop of the shoulders, and a hint of long years of suffering. No mention of the rewards. The benefits. The joys.

It was rather as if they were talking about slaving away in the salt mines.

Now that, I thought, isn’t right!

I broached the subject with yet another married friend – one who has a great marriage that I really look up to. She listened, then replied thoughtfully, “I wouldn’t describe marriage as a lot of work. It simply requires constant energy and attention – just like anything of value in life.”

What a difference in perspective! Energy and attention. Not work. Not slaving away. Not long-suffering. Her attitude seemed to connect her, not with the salt mines, but with high-voltage electrical power lines: infusing her and her marriage with vibrancy and vitality. When she would speak of her marriage in casual conversation, her comments were invariably filled with the joys, fulfillment, and contentment that her marriage brought her and her spouse.

As I thought this over, I found an analogy that made sense to me. I love gardening, and my little yard is full to the brim with flowers from early spring well into fall. Do I consider my garden “work”? No, I don’t. Even though every day requires some combination of watering, weeding, dead-heading, checking for pests or disease, cleaning up, etc.

My garden simply requires my constant energy and attention. Otherwise, it will look a mess in no-time flat. I don’t give that energy and attention grudgingly: I love to give it, even when I may not be thrilled with a particular activity (like weeding). It’s all part of having a garden. Giving energy and attention increases my satisfaction; it doesn’t diminish it. With a regular flow of care, there is plenty of time to relax and enjoy the beauty of my yard.

But, you know, it would be easy to consider all the tasks of gardening “work,” and resent them or sigh with resignation about them. The tasks wouldn’t have changed … just my attitude toward them.

So here’s my question: what difference would it make if couples stopped looking at marriage as requiring “a lot of work,” and started thinking in terms of giving “energy and attention”? That simple positive shift in understanding, attitude, and perspective might free them from the salt mines and connect them with the power lines!



© 2010 Paula Marolewski,

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An Open Letter to a Christian Considering Adultery

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By Paula Marolewski, August 13, 2010 5:49 pm

Dear Friend,

I don’t know who you are – man or woman, old or young. But here is where you stand today: you are considering committing adultery with another person. I know no details whatsoever of what has brought this to pass – I don’t know whether things happened between you and your spouse that hurt you deeply, whether there is another person involved who influenced your decision, whether you are experiencing what is commonly called a “mid-life crisis,” or whether you have suffered from deep depression or despair.

Regardless of the cause and source, I would encourage you most strongly: do not doubt God, and do not doubt his Word.

Consider God’s Word in Malachi 2:13-16:

“You flood the LORD’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, ‘Why?’ It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.

“Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.

“‘I hate divorce,’ says the LORD God of Israel, ‘and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,’ says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.”

The Lord hates divorce, yet that appears to be the path you are deliberately pursuing. Hear the warning: God will not accept your offerings if you continue on this path. He will not hear you. He warns here of judgment, and encourages you twice to guard yourself in your spirit, and not to act treacherously toward your spouse.

“Guard yourself in your spirit.” Where is your spirit now? What are you feeding on? Are you feeding on the Word? Are you seeking the Lord? Or have you allowed other influences, thoughts, and emotions to slip under your guard and infect your spirit? “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith!” (I Peter 5:8-9).

Resist the devil! Resist temptation and sin! “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:6).

“Sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Consider your sin, I urge you. Take a bald look at it, and awaken your soul again to its horror:

  • Your sin against your spouse.  Matthew 19:6 states clearly that “what God has joined together, let no one separate.” And again in I Corinthians 7:10-11: “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.”
  • Your sin against your children. Heed the warning in Matthew 18:6. “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were drowned in the depths of the sea.”
  • Your sin against unbelievers. Matthew 5:14-16 exhorts us that “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” People are watching you. What will they think of God and Christ if they see you choose a course of sin?
  • Your sin against the church. There are people who look up to you as a model and an example of a Christian spouse and parent. People who have been hurt through broken or damaging relationships and who are striving to overcome a natural bitterness. People who desperately need to see healthy Christian models so that they can learn to live in God’s grace and see with God’s eyes. If you fall into sin, Satan will take the opportunity to whisper in their ears, “See? People are untrustworthy. Nobody knows the meaning of the word ‘commitment.’ Everyone is self-centered and unfaithful.”

I warn you that God judges sin. Hebrews 4:12-13 reminds us, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

You will have to give an account to God of your actions today.

Remember that, as a Christian, you do not have the right to do as you want. You gave up that right at the Cross. You belong to Jesus now, and are called to obedience to him: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

But God is a God of hope:

  • Psalm 43:5 … “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”
  • Romans 5:3-5 … “We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
  • Romans 15:13 … “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Whatever has happened, God is a God of hope. If you have sinned, forgiveness is open to you (I John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”). If your spouse has sinned against you, grace is available to you to forgive him or her and be reconciled (Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”) If you are weighed down with anxiety and despair, God can lift you up (Psalm 139:23-24 – “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”)

I urge you to turn back from the path you are on. Return to grace. Return to forgiveness. Return to obedience. Return to the Word of the Lord and to the presence of God.

“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

“And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’

“And they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:20-24)


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Seedling: No Ivory Towers

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By Paula Marolewski, April 20, 2010 4:44 pm

“Now all the tax-gatherers and the sinners were coming near to [Jesus] to listen to him. And both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’” – Luke 15:1-2

A word of warning: it can be all too easy to immure yourself in the Christian community. To only have friendships with Christians, to engage in activities exclusively with Christians, and to focus all your attention on Christians.

When you do, it can be very easy to slip into another attitude: looking down on anyone who associates with non-Christians. Getting on your religious high-horse and throwing up your hands in horror at anyone who (heavens!) befriends a practicing homosexual, a drug addict, an adulterer, a convicted felon … or even just an unchurched neighbor. After all, we must avoid the corruption of the world, right?

Yes, we must. But not by hiding away in ivory towers. Jesus kept himself unstained by the world, but he ate every day with tax-gatherers, sinners, and prostitutes. He touched lepers, unclean women, and the demon-possessed. He associated with Samaritans, Syrophoenicians, and Romans. He was, simply, “the friend of sinners.”

We are called to follow his example. 

  • Have you ever looked down on someone because they had friends who were “questionable”?
  • Have you ever avoided befriending someone because of their sin, past or present?
  • Would you rather live in the safety of the church than be a light of the world? If so, why?


Copyright © 2010, Paula J. Marolewski. All rights reserved.

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The Negative Screams and the Good Whispers

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By Paula Marolewski, February 24, 2010 11:36 am

I have found it interesting …

  • People are always willing to kvetch about their spouse, but sometimes have to be actually prodded to praise him or her.
  • People will tell you about the difficulties their children are causing – like wreaking havoc with their schedules or their budget – much more readily than they will talk about the cute, beautiful, or loving stories of what their kids have done.
  • People will complain about the problems in their churches way more often than they will broadcast the church’s ministries and the work God is accomplishing in people’s lives.

Surprised at that last one? Christians … complaining? Being negative? Unfortunately – yes. The fact is, I have observed every one of the above examples all too often in the Christian environment. And, unfortunately, I have been guilty of such negativity all too often myself, as well.

In this fallen world, the negative screams and the good whispers. It’s very, very easy to fall into that complaining, gossiping, pessimistic mode. My friends, we need to turn that around. We need to start promoting the good wherever we see it – in our spouses, in our kids, in our jobs, in our families, in our churches. We need to shout it out when we see God at work.

After all, if we gripe and complain all the time, why would anyone believe us when we say we’ve got “Good News” for them?


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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“Just As I Am”?

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By Paula Marolewski, January 6, 2010 1:12 pm

“I’m not going to change – this is the way I am. Take it or leave it.”

You’ve heard that before? Perhaps you’ve said that before?

A few thoughts:

No, we cannot change another person. People are people – self-determining individuals – not projects.

And yes, God accepts us “just as I am, without one plea.”

But here’s the kicker: God doesn’t expect me to stay “just as I am.” He expects, demands, and requires change. It’s called “sanctification.”

And likewise, while those around us do not have the right to try to change us, they do have the right to expect that we will take action to change ourselves when we are living an unhealthy lifestyle, have a serious area of weakness, or are acting outside of God’s will.

Don’t change the words of the song: it’s “Just as I am, without one plea.” Not “Just as I am, now leave me be.”



© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Moving Toward Forgiveness

By Paula Marolewski, October 27, 2009 9:58 am

I’ve been considering forgiveness lately. Not forgiveness of the little slights and sins that come every day from rubbing shoulders with the rest of humanity. But forgiveness of the really egregious sins … forgiveness when real pain has been inflicted and real harm has been done, perhaps with malice aforethought.

The pain, the hurt, the grief that is caused by such acts as flagrant adultery, peddling drugs, physical abuse, etc. The list is a long one, highly individualized, and added to every day.

As I considered sin and our call to grant forgiveness, I was struck anew at how hard it is to forgive. And I believe that is, actually, appropriate.

After all, in order to offer true forgiveness, we have to come to grips with true evil. If we just flippantly say, “Yes, I forgive you!” but we have not truly understood either the corruption of the human heart or the pain such evil has caused another, our words are devoid of meaning. It is only after we have felt the horror of evil that our offer of forgiveness can be real.

Too often, however, we stop there. We are paralyzed by the evil, and so we cannot offer the balm of forgiveness.

It is vital to take the second step: to grasp the infinite love, grace, and forgiveness of God. Love that is greater than the horror of true evil. Grace that reaches to the unbelievable depths of corruption in the human heart. Forgiveness that calls the foulest sinner into perfect and intimate relationship with a holy God.

Only then – having truly comprehended both the nature of evil and the triumph of the Cross – can we then begin to extend fully the forgiveness of God to a needy world.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Training the Next Generation

By Paula Marolewski, October 1, 2009 8:12 am

Sometimes I wonder if we are failing to give the next generation – particularly our teens and young adults – all they need in order to accomplish God’s calling in their life. Here are some of the lessons I fear that we aren’t passing down:

  • How to recognize God’s purpose and calling.
  • How to hold even God-given dreams and aspirations and goals with an open hand, allowing those dreams and aspirations and goals to mature and change over time. 
  • How to distinguish between their identity (who they are) and their gift or purpose or calling (what they do).
  • How to trust God entirely, even if he calls them to “give up their Isaac.”
  • How to persevere when God seems silent and everything in life comes crashing down around them.
  • How to endure rejection, scorn, and persecution.
  • How to sacrifice for a greater good.
  • How to get up one more time than you fall down.

If we want to raise a generation of men and women who will stand firm in their faith and accomplish great things for the kingdom of God, these lessons aren’t optional – they’re essential.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Be Honest When You’ve Been Hurt

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By Paula Marolewski, September 22, 2009 9:09 am

Too often, I think we minimize or brush off our own hurt. Someone offends or wounds us, and even if they ask us about it we say dismissively, “It’s okay.” But it’s not okay. We’re bleeding inside, and our relationship with the other person has been damaged.

I believe we do both ourselves and the other person a disservice when we aren’t honest about the hurts we receive. Honesty is, in fact, a prerequisite to forgiveness – and forgiveness is the healing balm for both our wounded soul and the wounded relationship.

But being honest can be a tough proposition! So here are four guidelines to help practice healthy honesty:

  • First, don’t assume the other person realizes that they hurt you. The truth is, we sometimes mis-communicate or are ignorant of the effect of what we said or did.
  • Second, don’t point fingers. Honesty isn’t about lashing out and hurting or condemning the other person. Simply state what happened and how it made you feel.
  • Third, keep to the point. Don’t bring up past wounds or mask the present problem with specious arguments. Keep to the current issue and deal with it.
  • Fourth, don’t demand that the other person ask your forgiveness. Forgiveness must be freely asked for and freely given. Just do your part: be honest.

© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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You Just Might Be Wrong!

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By Paula Marolewski, September 1, 2009 10:02 am

Let me share one of the many items on my personal list of “things I have learned the hard way.” Ready? Here it is:

If everyone tells you that you’re wrong, you just might be wrong!

When I think of the trouble I could have avoided, the pain I could have been spared if only I had taken it to heart when people warned me I was making poor choices, it staggers me. So today, I simply want to pass on this hard-won bit of wisdom: if you are set on a certain course and people who know you and love you are concerned about the choices you are making, make absolutely certain to:

1. Listen carefully to them.

2. Examine in detail your reasons for making the decision(s) you are making. Be on the lookout for:

  • Intellectual errors. I.e., Did you make a logical misstep somewhere? Are you making an unwarranted assumption?
  • Emotional errors. I.e., Are you so emotionally wrapped-up in the decision that you refuse to consider that it might be wrong?
  • Spiritual errors. I.e., Is your relationship with God on the downward spiral? Do you want something that is clearly outside of God’s will?

3. Share those reasons with the people who were giving you the warnings.

4. Listen carefully to them again!  

Sure – sometimes people can think you’re making a mistake, and they themselves can be mistaken. But, that being said …

If everyone tells you that you’re wrong, you just might be wrong!


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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