“Bad” Advice that Might Save Your Marriage

"Bad Advice that might Save Your Marriage
I spotted an article earlier this week entitled “The Worst Marriage Advice of Every Decade Since the 1900s.” Curiosity compelled me to click through and read.

I’ll admit that the advice from the most recent decades truly was horrible. No wonder so many marriages end in divorce, if the guidelines couples are attempting to live by these days revolve around keeping secrets until their deathbed or saying one thing while doing another.

But the earlier advice from bygone eras? Not surprisingly, many of those recommendations were actually spot on. In fact, I suspect marriages would fare much better if more folks adopted such attitudes toward their mates as were so highly prized in past generations.

Once source referenced was particularly good, I thought. It was a piece written by Abigail van Buren in 1965 called The Ten Commandments for Wives.

She wrote a companion column devoted to the Ten Commandments for Husbands, then later combined the two, but as this is the one referenced in the above article, I’ve chosen to reprint it in its original form, along with some of my own thoughts about what Abby advised:

10 Commandments for Today’s Wives

  1. “Defile not thy body neither with excessive foods, tobacco, or alcohol, that thy days may be long in the house which thy husband provideth for thee.”
  2. Doctors, health gurus, and the Word of God all agree: overeating and excessive drinking are bad for us (as is smoking). Why then would encouraging wise choices in these areas constitute bad advice for married women? Shouldn’t it be easier to “live happily ever after” in good health than in poor?

    “Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with rags.” – Proverbs 23:20-21

  3. “Putteth thy husband before thy mother, thy father, thy daughter, and thy son, for he is thy lifelong companion.”
  4. If you want your marriage to succeed, you must make it your priority to nurture your relationship. That’s why most marriage vows include the promise to “forsake all others and cleave only unto thee.” You can’t just toss your spouse an occasional scrap of attention and expect love to flourish.

    “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24

  5. “Thou shalt not nag.”
  6. This advice is both sound and Biblical. Not only does the husband benefit when his wife refrains from nagging, but she will be much happier, as well, when she learns to identify and be grateful for all the blessings in her life rather than focusing her thoughts solely on the irritations.

    “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.” – Proverbs 21:19

    “…Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

  7. “Permit no one to tell thee that thou art having a hard time of it; neither thy mother, thy sister, nor thy neighbor, for the Judge will not hold her guiltless who letteth another disparage her husband.”
  8. Be faithful to your husband in word and deed. You would not want him to say disparaging things about you to his friends, so treat him as you’d want to be treated — even when he’s not around to hear what you’re saying.

    “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29

  9. “Thou shalt not withhold affection from thy husband, for every man loveth to be loved.”
  10. Be a generous lover. As I’ve said many times before, you are the only person on earth who can rightfully meet your husband’s need for intimacy. When you starve him sexually, you shoot yourself in the foot.

    “The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another” – 1 Corinthians 7:3-5

  11. “Forget not the virtue of cleanliness and modest attire.”
  12. This is good advice, whether you are married or not.

    “Your adornment must not be merely external — braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4

  13. “Forgive with grace, for who among us does not need forgiveness?”
  14. I know of nothing that will destroy a marriage faster than bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. Let all those things go, for your own sake as much as for his.

    “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32

  15. “Remember that the frank approval of thy husband is worth more to thee than the admiring glances of a hundred strangers.”
  16. Some people go to far greater lengths to bless and impress friends and coworkers than they do to please their own spouse. If you are going to concern yourself with gaining the admiration and approval of anybody, shouldn’t it be the man you married?

    “My beloved is dazzling and ruddy; he stands out in comparison to all other men. ” – Song of Solomon 5:10

  17. “Keep thy home in good order, for out of it cometh the joys of thy old age.”
  18. Keeping an orderly home goes far beyond making sure your house stays neat and tidy. It includes raising your children to be respectful and obedient and honoring the Lord in the way you relate to your husband and extended family members.

    “She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.” – Proverbs 31:27

  19. “Honor the Lord thy God all the days of thy life, and thy children will rise up and call thee blessed.”
  20. This, of course, is straight out of Scripture, as well. Glorifying God is what we were created to do in the first place. If we will honor Him in the way we love and serve our family, and they will love and praise and honor us, as well.

    “Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: ‘Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” – Proverbs 31:28-30

"Bad Advice that might Save Your Marriage

Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters Most

How Could a Mom Regret Having Children?


A friend of mine recently sent me a link to an article that I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around. The author was investigating “the growing movement of women who wish they’d never had kids.”

I read every word of the article, completely bewildered. The notion that enough mothers feel remorse over having had children to constitute “a movement” is tragic and heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking for the women themselves, who are missing out on the joys normally associated with motherhood. But it’s especially heartbreaking for their children, who are growing up with mothers who, given their druthers, would wish them out of existence — and are increasingly vocal about feeling that way.

As a mother of twelve who is delighted she had children (and would gladly have more), I admit I cannot relate to the emotions expressed by the women interviewed for this article. But after mulling it over, I’ve come up with a few reasons why, perhaps, some of them feel the way they do.

Of course, reasons will vary from woman to woman and may encompass causes far beyond anything mentioned here, but if “motherhood regret” is on the rise — if it has indeed become a social movement, as this article implies — then we should be able to look at current cultural trends to help explain it.

I can think of several cultural norms likely to color the way a woman views, accepts, and carries out the responsibilities of being a mother. These include the following:

  • Fragmented families
  • Parenting was meant to be a 2-person project, but with skyrocketing rates of divorce and single-parent households, the full responsibility for child training is often born by the mother alone.

    That’s a heavy task for one set of shoulders, and I can see how it might cause a woman to question some of her life choices.

    As tempting as it may be to feel sorry for ourselves in such a situation, a lifetime spent blaming innocent children for our own unhappiness is no kind of solution. Instead, we need to embrace the life we’ve been given, learn from past mistakes (many of which were undoubtedly made before children ever arrived on the scene), and do our best to make wiser decisions going forward.

  • Altered emotional states
  • The past few decades have been marked by an explosion of prescription drug use. Four out of five sexually-experienced women have used hormonal contraceptives. One in four are currently taking some form of antidepressant. Both of these drugs have been shown to lower libido and to adversely affect the feelings of love a woman has for her mate.

    Is it possible that these drugs might also interfere with mother-child bonding and have a negative effect on the love a mother feels for her child? Could the growing trend of “mother remorse” be more reflective of the drugs circulating in women’s bodies than of the secret desires of their hearts?

  • Desire for instant gratification
  • We live in a society that hates having to wait for anything. We want what we want, and we want it now: Instant rewards, with all the bells and whistles.

    But child rearing is an endeavor more akin to constructing cathedrals than to playing Candy Crush. It takes grit and determination and perseverance.

    Building a family is a multi-generational undertaking. Although we can take joy in watching the slow, steady progress made in our lifetime, we know from the beginning we won’t likely live to see it to completion. The work will continue long after we’re gone. Why not entrust it to God from the beginning?

  • Loss of faith in God
  • I don’t know how anybody can muster the level of devotion required by parenting without maintaining a vibrant faith in God. God grants wisdom and strength for living. He provides a beautiful example of the kind of self-sacrificing love a mother should have for her child.

    Belief in God gives life purpose and meaning. When we throw God out of the equation, we throw out hope and reason, as well. Is it any wonder that life seems pointless and despairing to creatures cut off from their Creator?

    Where there is no understanding of eternity and accountability, life devolves into a continual striving after fleeting temporal pleasures, then feeling cheated when we can neither grasp nor hold on to them.

  • Devaluation of life
  • Since 1980, over 1.4 billion babies have been aborted worldwide. Nearly 850,000 have been killed in the US this year (so far). As a society, we have decided that babies are more of a burden than a blessing and are therefore expendable.

    Unfortunately, that wrong-headed but pervasive attitude trickles down and affects how even the lucky children who are given a shot at life are treated. It has become fashionable for mothers to try and outdo one another with complaints about how much trouble they have with their kids. The “Mother Regret” described in the aforementioned article is just an extreme form of what many of us do every day — and all within earshot of our children. Think what messages we are sending them!

    Meanwhile, there are women who are single or struggling with infertility who would gladly lay down their life for the privilege of having a baby all their own. It hardly seems fair that someone who has children could so deeply regret ever giving birth, while another who so desperately longs to be a mother might never be given the opportunity at all.

  • Hectic schedules
  • Perhaps the “trapped” feeling some of these remorseful moms describe has something to do with the misguided brand of parenting they are attempting.

    If I were constantly having to run my children from one extracurricular activity to another to another to another, I think I’d feel trapped, too — but it would be in a prison of my own making. Constant activity is not a prerequisite to raising successful, well-rounded children. Kids need downtime, too: Time to think and wonder and dream and plan. Time for unstructured play. Time spent at home, totally unplugged from the digital devices that so permeate our lives these days.

    They also need the stability that comes from Mom reserving a good portion of her energy to build up her husband and invest in her marriage — for that should be the central relationship of the home. Things get thrown off kilter fast when we try to make everything revolve around the children, instead. That endless state of go-go-go and more-more-more that has become characteristic of so many households tends to separate the family in unhealthy ways and ultimately does more damage than good.

  • Lack of knowledge and experience
  • Most women in our society — myself included — are woefully unprepared for the responsibilities of marriage and motherhood when we first take them on. The home economics and child development classes of yesteryear have been replaced by women’s studies requirements that do nothing to help us become better wives and mothers (in fact, they actively work against it).

    The good news is, on-the-job-training is still quite effective for motivated students, even though the learning curve may be pretty steep. Look for a good mentor — an older woman who is further down life’s road than you and has a good track record in the marriage and motherhood department (Titus 2:3-5). Read books and blogs by authors who love husband and children and embrace their roles with joy and grace.

  • Differing notions of success
  • How do the women’s studies courses we find on university campuses today “actively work against” our becoming better wives and mothers? They do it by pushing a social agenda that turns traditional family structure on its head.

    Women are taught they must enter the workforce to realize their full potential. Those who would opt to stay home baking cookies for their kids instead of climbing the corporate ladder are cast as brainwashed dummies with no drive or vision.

    Society at large echoes these sentiments, and many women have bought into the lies without question. Is it any wonder that a mother who has been conditioned to think in such a vein would feel trapped and miserable in the role of stay-at-home-mom?

    I’m not arguing that career women can’t do meaningful, fulfilling, and important work. Many of them obviously do, and I’m grateful for all the dedicated women whose work has both directly and indirectly impacted my own life.

    What I am saying is that there is a much broader scope for industry, influence, and meaningful work in the home than our current culture seems willing to recognize, and that — for mothers of young children especially, the potential that exists in the home for shaping the next generation should not be minimized, ignored, or surrendered to others without careful consideration.

  • Unbridled selfishness
  • It would be oversimplifying to blame the “mommy regret movement” solely on selfishness, but selfishness definitely plays a part.

    As a society, we have become so self-absorbed and me-focused that we often lose sight of the needs of others. In doing so, we’ve neglected our God-given responsibility to take at least a portion of the gifts and resources He’s given us and use them to invest in the lives of others.

    One of the many benefits of becoming a mother is that raising children helps root such ugly selfishness out of our hearts.

    Or, at least, it will… if we let it.

When mothers regret having children. So sad!

Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters Most

A Back-to-School Prayer

Summer break is over. School is once again in session. All across the country, students are heading back to class.

Free printable Back-to-School prayer from lovinglifeathome.com

[photo source]

As our children embark upon this new academic year, in addition to making sure they are stocked up on new socks and fresh school supplies, we should also keep them well covered in prayer.

The following C-L-A-S-S acrostic can help. It provides a different prayer emphasis for every day of the school week:


Pray for your children’s classmates. The friends they choose will make a lasting impact on their lives and education. Pray they pick their companions wisely.

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” – Proverbs 13:20


Ask God to instill in your children a true love for learning. Pray that they will value their education and strive to do well in their studies.

“Apply your heart to discipline and your ears to words of knowledge…. Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding.”
– Proverbs 23:12, 23


Remember your children’s teachers, coaches, counselors, and school administrators. Pray that the students would honor those in authority with attentiveness and respect, and that the overseers would show themselves worthy of the trust we’ve placed in them.

“I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered on behalf of all …those in authority, so that we may lead quiet and tranquil lives….” – 1 Timothy 2:1-2

S is for SAFTEY

Pray that the Lord would protect your children and keep them safe from anyone or anything that would seek to do them harm.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” – Matthew 6:13


Ask God to give your children an accurate understanding of their infinite value to Him. Pray that they would be strong in character, would walk in integrity, and would not compromise core principles to gain the acceptance of peers.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

I believe in the power of prayer. Don’t you?

If so, you’ll want to tuck this one inside your Bible and refer to it again:

Free printable prayer guides: Back-to-School,  Marriage Prayers, Head-to-Toe Prayers for Husbands, Wives, and Children, much more , from lovinglifeathome.com

Our students need prayer — not just for the opening week of school, but all year long.

This prayer was first published in a weekly column that I write for the Tyler Morning Telegraph called Family Matters.”

Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters Most

For the Mother of a Child in the Military

Our son David just finished a six-week officer training program at Fort Sam Houston, and we drove down to San Antonio last weekend for his graduation.

David's BOLC Graduation

My husband was stationed on this same base the year Isaac (far left) was born.

Seeing all those young men and women in uniform, reciting the Soldier’s Creed and singing the Army Anthem, really stirred this mother’s heart.

David's Platoon

David’s platoon at Fort Sam Houston — our boy is the one on the steps by the driver’s seat.

It also called to mind the following poem by Edgar Albert Guest. If you have a child in any branch of the military, I imagine these words will resonate with you, as well:

The Boy Enlists

by Edgar Albert Guest

His mother’s eyes are saddened, and her cheeks are stained with tears,
And I’m facing now the struggle that I’ve dreaded through the years;
For the boy that was our baby has been changed into a man.
He’s enlisted in the army as a true American.

He held her for a moment in his arms before he spoke,
And I watched him as he kissed her, and it seemed to me I’d choke,
For I knew just what was coming, and I knew just what he’d done!
‘Another little mother had a soldier for a son.

When we’d pulled ourselves together, and the first quick tears had dried,
We could see his eyes were blazing with the fire of manly pride;
We could see his head was higher than it ever was before,
For we had a man to cherish, and our baby was no more.

Oh, I don’t know how to say it! With the sorrow comes the joy
That there isn’t any coward in the make-up of our boy.
And with pride our hearts are swelling, though with grief they’re also hit,
For the boy that was our baby has stepped forth to do his bit.

EMT MD was just the role he was assigned for training exercises. David's really a dentist.

EMT MD was just the role he was assigned for training exercises. David’s really a dentist.

Isn’t that a terrific poem? To download a printable copy of “The Boy Enlists” (taken from God Bless America, my newest devotional journal), just click on the image below:

Free Printable Version of Edgar Albert Guest's wonderful poem, "The Boy Enlists"

Click on image to print.

Our soldiers need our support. If you know one — and especially if you are the parent of one — remember to thank them for their service!

Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters Most

Prayer for a Happy Marriage {free printable}

Wedding season is definitely upon us. Last weekend, we hosted our fifth wedding shower since March. It seems that every week, another of my friends’ children are announcing an engagement.

Counting Down the Days

With all those nuptials going on, I thought it would be fitting to publish a special prayer for marriage.  

Prayer has played a huge part in keeping our relationship happy and secure, and we know it can do the same for yours. 

Whether you are newly married or have been with your spouse for decades, we pray your marriage will likewise be long and joyous. 

Prayer for a Happy Marriage:

Lord, we ask You to bless this couple & make them…

Beautiful—inside & out (1 Pet. 3:4)
Respectful & loving toward one another (Eph. 5:33)
Industrious & hardworking (1 Cor. 15:58)
Devoted to one another fully (Rom. 12:10)
Encouraging both in word & in deed (1 Thess. 5:11)

& we pray, O God, that You would help them to be…

Gentle & patient toward one another (Eph. 4:2)
Righteous & steadfast in their integrity (Prov. 20:7)
One—physically, spiritually, & emotionally (Matt. 19:6)
Obedient to Your Word (Ecc. 12:13)
Mature in their understanding (1 Cor. 14:20)

If praying for another’s marriage is powerful, then praying for your own is more powerful still. And to enjoy the greatest benefits of prayer with regard to your marriage, carve out time daily to pray together with your spouse. There is no surer way to build a love that lasts than to enlist the help of the King of kings and Lord of lords whose lovingkindness endures forever. 

Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters Most

How to Date a Husband Who’d Rather Stay Home

Tips for Dating a Husband who'd Rather Just Stay Home

Below is a follow-up question I received in reference to the Date Night post I published a few months back. This writer raises a good point! Here’s the whole scoop, along with my response:


I really love this [Date Night] post! I’ve been reading your blog for a few days now and using your “praying from head to toe” printables daily. They’re really helping change my attitude towards my husband in a good way!

I do have a question about the planning it yourself aspect — my husband REALLY doesn’t want to go out and has told me so. So what if I take the initiative [to plan a nice date], and then he gets upset at me for “forcing the issue”? I could see it going either way.


I understand your concerns and agree: There is a big difference between planning a date for a husband who is willing but busy, and forcing the matter with a husband who has made it clear he prefers not to go out under any circumstances.

Some husbands are extremely introverted and do not enjoy being in a crowd. Others are stressed by financial burdens, and don’t see how they can find money for expensive dates on a regular basis. Still others are just tired after their long day at work and would rather relax at home.

If something like that is at work in your marriage, I suggest you discuss with your husband some acceptable alternatives.

  • If he doesn’t like crowds, pick something isolated.
  • If he’s concerned about spending money, pick something cheap.
  • If he’d rather stay at home, find something you can do together there that will draw you closer together.

Dates do not have to mean candlelit dinners or blockbuster movies. Consider his interests. Would he like to go fishing, just the two of you? Does he like cars? Maybe you could go to a local showroom and take a test drive. Gardening? Pull weeds together and visit while you do. Monday night football? Learn the rules of the game, make a big bucket of popcorn, and sit on the couch beside him cheering on his favorite team. You get the idea. Adapt yourself to him, and learn to take enjoyment in the things that interest him.

Want more ideas for date night at home? Here are a fifteen of our favorites:

  1. Cook a meal together.
  2. Throw something on the grill for a casual picnic on your patio or go gourmet and serve it on fine china with fresh flowers and crystal stemware.

  3. Read a book together.
  4. Take turns reading aloud from the same book or sit side-by-side reading different books and discussing the best parts.

  5. Take a walk together.
  6. Amble around the block, through the gardens, or just to the mailbox and back. Hold hands and enjoy each other’s company.

  7. Play a game together.
  8. Bananagrams, Chess, Scrabble, and Stratego are a few of our favorites and none of them need more than two players.

  9. Watch a documentary together.
  10. Pick a topic that interests you both and learn more about it. Or if documentaries aren’t your thing, try a foreign film with subtitles.

  11. Set some goals together.
  12. Where would you like to find yourself in twelve months? Five years? Ten years? What should you do now to make those dreams a reality?

  13. Do a project together.
  14. Whether it’s changing the oil in your car, cleaning out the garage, or taping off a room and giving the walls a fresh coat of paint, find a task that needs to be done and tackle it as a team.

  15. Get some exercise together.
  16. Try a new workout video or see how many jumping jacks and sit-ups you can do. You can hold his feet and count for him, then trade places and let him do the same for you.

  17. Reminisce over old times together.
  18. Break out the photos albums, scrapbooks, or family movies and go through them page by page and frame by frame. Which memories are your favorites? Which do you hope to never go through again?

  19. Take a bath together.
  20. A long soak in a tub of warm water (bubbles optional) is very relaxing and provides a great opportunity for talking about your day. If you don’t have a bathtub big enough for two, try taking a hot shower together.

  21. Gaze at the stars together.
  22. Head outdoors once the sun goes down and admire the full moon or watch for shooting stars. Sit on the porch steps, break out the lawn chairs, or relax in a hammock and soak in the sights and sounds of the evening. If you have access to a good telescope, so much the better.

  23. Plan a vacation together.
  24. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Get out a map and chart a course. Google your destination and discuss what kind of activities you’d do once you got there. Planning a trip is half the fun of going, so enjoy this process, even if it’s unlikely you’ll actually take it anytime soon.

  25. Say your prayers together.
  26. Did you know that couples who pray regularly together have less than a 1% incidence of divorce? If you and your spouse have not already made it a habit to pray together, start now — date night or no.

  27. Do something creative together.
  28. Paint some pictures. Sculpt with clay. Compose a song. Take up whittling. Write something from the heart, then trade what you’ve written and edit each other’s work. Sign up for an online class and learn a new craft together.

  29. Get naked together.
  30. Throw the lock on the bedroom door and do what married couples should do — enjoy that one-flesh union God so marvelously designed, every chance you get!

As you read through this list of suggestions, you will see that together is the optimal word in all of them. Our lives are full of mundane activities that can be magically transformed into memorable dates when we do them alongside the one we love. The trick is to keep your eyes open and look for opportunities to cultivate that sense of togetherness and belonging.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but is designed to get you thinking in the right direction. What activities would you add for spending time with a husband who doesn’t like to “go out”?

Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters Most

Griefs and Sorrows

Today is Father’s Day. Normally, I would mark the occasion with a post about my father or my husband and what a wonderful job they’ve both done in the fatherhood department, or perhaps a piece about the vital role fathers in general play in the lives of their children.

In light of all the horrific news stories we’ve seen played out in the past week, however, I decided to take a different tack this year and share an essay my daughter wrote, instead. I love her thoughts on these matters, and (especially) her gentle reminder of our Father’s immeasurable love for us.

Griefs and Sorrows -- a Christian's perspective on current tragic events

Death and Freedom

A week ago we got news of the horrific tragedy in Orlando, and my heart wept for the 49 souls lost that day, for the family and friends they left behind, for all my loved ones in the Muslim and LGBTQ communities, and for humanity in general.

And then news of another tragedy in Orlando came, and it felt a little closer to home this time, because the boy who died was just a kid — not much older than my little nephew, not much younger than my baby sister. And my heart wept for him and the fear he must have felt in those last moments, and my heart wept for his parents whose grief is unspeakable. God, I pray peace over them: bring them relief from this living nightmare.

And then another death, this time a friend’s brother. I never had the chance to meet him, but his sister is a kindred spirit and constant source of encouragement and inspiration for me. I know she loved him and looked up to him, just like I love and look up to my older brother, imperfect as he may be. My heart breaks for my friend and for her family and for all who knew and loved her brother. I pray that he, too, has peace.

And then just tonight I received word that one of my former faculty members from dental school passed away suddenly. Dr. Hill. This man was well-loved by everyone who worked with him. He was known for treating the students in his group to an occasional dinner out, and I still remember being invited to one of those dinners. I was new in clinic and wasn’t even in his group, but was still included because that’s the kind of person he was: approachable and generous, with a great sense of humor. I saw him just last month, and he was fine. Now he is gone.

I’m sick of it. Can I say that? I’m just so sick and tired of it. Of all this death and tragedy. I’m sick of it striking senselessly and indiscriminately. And I’m sick of people saying that it’s God doing this. As if God delights in the mass murder of human beings by a lunatic with an assault rifle. As if a baby being dragged off by an alligator is part of His great plan. As if He is the mastermind behind every suicide or car crash or cancer diagnosis.

I am no theologian, but I am certain that God does not delight in these things.

The night that the shooting took place, one of the victims, Eddie Justice, texted his mother from the club, telling her he loved her, telling her he knew he was about to die.

I want you to think on this. I want you, my conservative Christian readers, to think on this.
I want you to consider the frantic powerlessness Eddie’s mother felt as she texted her son over and over, begging him to reply, to tell her that he was okay. I want you to consider the overwhelming grief she felt when she realized her son was dead.

Do you think for a second that the fear and desperation and pain she felt was any less than what Melissa & Matt Graves felt as they watched their 2-year-old baby boy being dragged away by an alligator?

I can promise you it was not.

Because for a parent who loves their child with all their heart, it does not matter if that child is 2 years old or 30 years old — they are still your baby. And it doesn’t matter if they are attacked and killed by a deranged psychopath in the bathroom of a gay dance club or attacked and killed by a rogue alligator at a family theme park — their death is going to tear your heart out.

And to take this a step further, I need you to realize something about God that we tend to forget in times like this: it is not possible for us to out-love or out-grieve God.

Even the immense depth of love that a parent has for their child is just a dim reflection of the love God has for us.

And even the immense depth of grief that a parent has over their child’s death is a dim reflection of the grief God experiences over a soul that is lost.

He knew us by heart before we existed in the world, and our names are written in the scars on His hands.

So at times like this when evil rises and tragedy falls, remember that God does not delight in evil or in tragedy. He desires for these things to be done away with forever, and one day they will be. But in the meantime, He waits patiently for us to turn from our sin and back to Him.

We as humans have the freedom to make choices; some choose to exercise that freedom by descending further and further into darkness and chaos until the lines between right and wrong are so blurred that walking into a club and murdering 49 people seems “right” to them just as much as walking into an abortion clinic to terminate a pregnancy seems “right” to a teenage girl who isn’t ready to be responsible for another human being.

This world is broken, but we cannot ascribe its brokenness to God. All He did was permit us to govern ourselves, just as we wanted. We wanted autonomy, we wanted freedom, and He gave it to us.

And freedom has a price, right? A price set by some humans and paid by others.

One day we may experience a greater, truer freedom — a freedom not just from external sources of suffering and pain, but from our own selfishness and stubbornness and stupidity, from our own longing for darkness and our own tendency to self-destruct.

But that freedom comes at a much greater price.

And yet, to us, it is free.

The above post was written by my daughter Bethany and first appeared on her blog, Broken Mosaics, on June 19, 2016.

Balance: The Art of Minding What Matters Most