Posts tagged: Relationships

“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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How Should the Church Respond to Mental and Emotional Problems?

By Paula Marolewski, November 2, 2009 5:51 pm

As the Church, it is imperative that we do not take a simple view toward mental and emotional illness. We cannot label it an exclusively spiritual problem (“You must have sin in your life or you wouldn’t be having this problem.”) and expect that confession and repentance will take care of the issue. Neither can we take an exclusively clinical approach and say that all mental or emotional illness is the result of a physiological imbalance in the brain. Instead, hard as it is, it is vital to understand that we are integrated as people: mind, emotions, spirit, body, etc. and that mental and emotional issues are frequently the result of some combination of those elements, and very often touch every aspect of our lives.

For instance, take the case of severe anxiety, which I discuss in my book Fire in My Mind: Personal Insights and Practical Help for Severe Anxiety. My own anxiety was triggered by a long-term high-stress situation. No sin involved. Just the stress of starting my own business. It was then exacerbated by the fact that, over time, my body and brain chemistry shifted due to the overload of adrenaline, resulting in anxious feelings regardless of the circumstances I found myself in. (I recommend Dr. Archibald Hart’s book The Anxiety Cure for a very complete discussion of the physiology of anxiety.) This then led very naturally to emotional depression and to spiritual doubt, as I was fighting constantly against something I didn’t understand and therefore couldn’t overcome.

It was only through qualified cognitive behavioral counseling that I was able to unravel all these various threads and address the behavioral, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual issues that by then were all involved.

From my personal experience and talking extensively with others, I would therefore sum up the approach that the Church needs to take as follows: Love with knowledge.

Love itself isn’t enough … I have had people who love me very much say some very damaging things to me because they simply didn’t understand severe anxiety and didn’t know any better. They were trying to help, but they harmed instead.

Likewise, knowledge alone isn’t enough. Clinical knowledge keeps people at arm’s length and studies them like a bug under a microscope. Knowledge needs to be tempered by the warmth, caring, support, and encouragement of God’s love.

Love with knowledge is an irresistible combination that will draw many hurting people into the arms of the Church and the Kingdom of God.


© 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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Be Careful What You Ask!

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By Paula Marolewski, August 30, 2009 6:14 pm

Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” And that’s true even about the questions we ask.

Too many times, people ask questions thoughtlessly – unaware of the damage the very question they are asking can cause to the listener. Questions like:

  • “So, when are we going to throw a baby shower for you?”
  • “You’re such a nice person – why haven’t you married?”
  • “Your boss is really unfair. Why don’t you get a new job?”

Questions like these are hurtful for two reasons. First, the questioner is making an assumption about the other person’s desires. In the above examples, the questioner is making the assumption that the other person wants children, wants to be married, or wants to get a new job. It is entirely possible that the person doesn’t want children, or doesn’t want children now; that they are perfectly happy being single; or that despite their boss, they really enjoy what they do. In that case, questions like the above put the person on the defensive – they feel that they have to explain or justify their current position to the questioner.

Second, the questioner is making an assumption about the other person’s actions. For instance, the person may have tried every infertility process available and still can’t conceive, or they might have longed for marriage all their life and feel horribly lonely because the right person has never come their way; or they may be sending out dozens of resumes every month but haven’t had so much as a nibble in the way of a job interview. In that case, these kind of questions make the person feel depressed at best and inferior at worst – depressed, because the questions are like pouring salt in an open wound, and inferior because they may feel that their best hasn’t been good enough, so maybe they themselves aren’t good enough, either.

If your relationship with someone gives you the right to ask a question of a personal nature such as those above, then be sure to ask that question in a gentle and respectful fashion. For instance, you may first want to verify what the other person’s desires are on the topic, i.e., “You seem very happy being single, but I’ve always wondered – do you or did you ever wish to get married?”

Based upon the person’s answer, it may then be appropriate to ask a question about their actions with regard to the issue, i.e., “I’m sorry that your boss is so unpleasant that you want to move on. Have you taken any steps toward that end yet? Is there anything I can do to help you search for a new position?”

Remember, “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Be careful what you ask. The smallest question can harm or heal.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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