3 Quick Tips to Handle the Truth About Yourself

handle-truth-3-tipsSelf-improvement always sounds like a great thing until we actually dig in and get our hands dirty. We talk about the need for accountability, but the second we turn that scalpel inward, we flinch and fight and justify our way out.

It can be messy, awful work to hear the truth about yourself.
It’s never easy to hear criticism, most especially when it could be true.

The hard part is that getting better means we have to confront the ugliness inside.

This is harder than you think.

Recovery and improvement demands getting honest about all the crazy, neurotic, self-justified hang-ups that we’ve buried — and it’s extremely painful to expose how messed-up we really are. But that’s the truth about yourself.

Our addictions and destructive patterns didn’t happen overnight: it took so many steps of rationalization to get there until it became a part of us, and to undo those patterns can feel like death. It feels like giving up a part of ourselves, like an amputation of the only way we knew how to live.

Yet we need people outside us to show us our blind spots. We need people who will risk comfort and safety to say, “You’re better than this.” We need more than giggles-and-games and an idealized fantasy-friendship where everyone is simply a yes-man and only says what we want to hear.

We need a reality check when we’ve checked out of reality.

Even with our voice shaking: we must sometimes become the truth for each other, because friendship and accountability means we’re there to see the best in one another.

This doesn’t mean that we each become the morality police and start calling each other out on everything. It doesn’t mean that every criticism is valid and legitimate. It means that when I see you diving off a cliff, I’ll throw myself up against you, even if we both get hurt. It means that criticism from your friend hurts them more than it hurts you.

As Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” And eleven verses later, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

Here are three things to keep in mind when you hear the truth about yourself.

1) When you hear the truth about yourself, expect your brain to defend, rationalize, melt down, flip out, and push back. Be aware that your first response will often be the worst one, and work through it.

Because it hurts to hear the truth, our brains are automatically going to defend, even if those defenses are exactly what got us here. The second your friend tells you a hard thing, the limbic system (emotions and drives) perceives a threat and takes over and initiates a fight-or-flight response, while your frontal cortex (reason and judgment) literally shuts down.

It takes a huge self-awareness to understand the mental processes when we face criticism.

If you can actually push past your initial emotional responses, you can “reboot” and begin to hear the other person with a lot more comprehension. It even helps to say to them, “I really want to scream at you and run out of here, but I also want to hear you.” Of course, since we’re frail fragile humans, our first response is almost always going to be yelling or escape. That’s okay. With enough practice and awareness, we can take back control of our automatic responses and see our friend as a friend, and not a threat.

2) When you hear the truth about yourself, the person who tells you the truth isn’t perfect and probably won’t say it perfectly, but that’s no excuse not to consider their words.

The temptation when we hear criticism is to use the Mirror Defense, which is saying, “Well, what about you?

We want to discredit the source of the truth, so we drag up old history and the other person’s weaknesses for self-preservation. Or we say, “I don’t like your tone” and use their voice against them.

The problem is, two wrongs can never make a right. In other words, someone else’s bad thing doesn’t cancel my bad thing. Even if the other person is a hypocrite, it doesn’t magically erase my own hypocrisy. And no one in the history of accountability has ever used perfect intonation and the perfect wording to tell the hard truth. If you find yourself saying, “If only she had said it like this” or “If only he had not said this” — then chances are that you’re trying to wiggle your way out of truth by a technicality.

It takes a certain grace and patience to filter out your friend’s voice and methods and shortcomings. No one is ever going to get this truth-telling thing just right. No one has it locked down to a science. And while there are certainly people who have no say in our lives, there are plenty of people who want better for us, even as they wrestle their own demons. We can’t discount them on their own failings, because we’re in that same boat. Resist the urge to hold up a mirror at them, and instead hold it to yourself.

3) When you hear the truth about yourself, instead of fighting back or shutting down, ask specific questions about how to move forward.

No matter how well it goes when your friend tells the truth:

It’s going to be weird for a while. You might avoid each other for a week, whether out of embarrassment or resentment or both, and the friendship might hang precariously on a wire.

Settle back into your relationship by asking very specific questions. These are not questions to make the other person “the boss” or a “parole officer,” but so that you both find safety again:

 What are some things I can do differently now?

How should I approach you if I mess this up again?

Can you help me with this, even if I don’t do it perfectly?

Can we follow up on this after I’ve had time to reflect?

This is where truth and grace meet hand in hand, so that neither person is over the other, but that we travel on the rugged winding road towards greater joy. It’s carved out of compromise, authenticity, and the real willingness to see your friend thrive.

But we can get there by speaking up and seeking our best selves in one another.

If you need someone in your life that will tell you the truth and then be there to walk you through the process think about getting an X3coach. Our coaches will be there when you need them and tell you what you need to hear so you can find lasting freedom from porn addiction. If you would like to learn more about the X3coach Program and how it can change the game for you check out this video. Find out why coaching may in fact be the relational resource you need. Then learn how you can get a FREE coaching session by one of our pro’s.

The post 3 Quick Tips to Handle the Truth About Yourself appeared first on XXXchurch.com.

Are You At War With Your Sex Drive? (Part 2)


[Editor’s note: this post is adapted from the book Feels Like Redemption – The Pilgrimage to Health and Healing, created by Seth Taylor and David Taylor. You can read Part 1 here. Learn more at MyPilgrimage.com]

I’m a Christian, so much of my new journey toward freedom has been spent on a quest for a deeper understanding of Jesus.

This was one of my first realizations when I started this process: if I was going to follow the way of Jesus, then there had to be more depth to that experience than simply believing he was the son of God and trying harder and harder to do what he said.

According to the Gospels, a very large portion of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth was spent healing the broken—really healing them.

He didn’t lay hands on the sick and declare them “mostly free.” Jesus seemed to do the opposite of that—he would meet people where they were, at their point of pain, removing shame and seemingly throwing it to the wind, and then often saying this interesting phrase: “Your faith has healed you.”


Did Jesus heal me or did I heal myself? Our perspective on this question seems to be incredibly important to our understanding of who God is and what it is to be spiritual beings designed by a loving Creator. Think about it for a second. We all feel this question in the deepest parts of us: Is there any real power? And if there is, then why don’t we experience it more?

Why haven’t I experienced it more?

We seem to be afraid of wrestling with these really huge questions because if we do, our identities might be stripped away, along with all the things we keep under such tight control.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to fight a war anymore—I want to experience a peace that transcends understanding.

I believe this struggle in our sexuality is the opposite of a battle.

It is the sacred journey—the pilgrimage—to reconnect to the Spirit who gave birth to this Universe. And in that experience, I think we reconnect to ourselves. Jesus said the Kingdom of God is this mystery where all things are as they were designed to be. And he said this Kingdom is all around us all of the time, if only we have the eyes to see it. Jesus was showing us a way home, back to God…back to ourselves. And this journey courses through every vein and lives in every heartbeat. It’s something you can feel inside.

 It feels like redemption.

So this is where we begin—all we who seek to be saved from whatever is inside of us that would drive us to self-hate and alienation, idolatry and darkness, or just plain unhappiness. This book is about something new. You might have no point of reference for my story, and you might find that unsettling or disorienting. That’s okay, because that’s how pilgrimage begins. You have to leave—you have to move. So lay down your sword, take a deep breath, and start walking…

 Welcome to the pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage-logo-zoomTired of feeling like freedom from pornography or sex addiction is impossible? That it’s an endless “battle?” Check out MyPilgrimage.com and get 3 FREE videos that will help you see that freedom from addiction is possible and something you can really experience.

Get Your 3 FREE Videos

The post Are You At War With Your Sex Drive? (Part 2) appeared first on XXXchurch.com.

Are You At War With Your Sex Drive? (Part 1)

war-sex-drive1[Editor’s note: this post is adapted from the book Feels Like Redemption – The Pilgrimage to Health and Healing, created by Seth Taylor and David Taylor. Learn more at MyPilgrimage.com]

The issue of porn addiction—both in and out of the Christian church—is a pressing one. The statistics on addiction are shocking, and spiritual leaders and pastors of either gender are in no way excluded from them. The presence of these addictions at the heart of our spiritual lives functions as a signal flare being sent out from the center of our religious systems, screaming out that there is something wrong with the way we understand our spirituality.

If belief in a God who loves and rescues and redeems hasn’t saved us from all our darkness, then what will?

In this book, we are pointing to a paradigm shift. This paradigm shift is meant not only for the way you understand sexuality, but for the way you do spirituality—your faith and understanding and experience of God. And this is for the believer and non-believer alike.

For far too long, we have been told that we are at war with the most sacred drives that exist inside of our bodies. 

Our minds have been held captive to control and belief while our spirits have been held underwater by some unseen force, powerless to do anything but push out one muffled scream after another in an attempt not to drown in a culture full of products, both religious and non-religious, that promise they will fill the hole in our core.

“One long muffled scream” is a great way to describe the state of my life after seven years of porn addiction and many more as a slave to depression and anxiety. When I had suffered enough and got tired of battling my sex drive, I laid down my sword, shed my armor, and began to seek another way—I call it “the third way.”

That “third way” has become for me a “pilgrimage”—a Sacred Journey. I rechristened my struggles with addiction as a grace-filled, holy quest. I stopped wasting my energies on feeling guilty and ashamed of myself and instead started asking, “Why do I feel so guilty and ashamed?

It turns out I needed this addiction to show me the door to freedom, not just from the addiction itself, but also from all the things that seemed set on keeping me from ever knowing true happiness.

The starting point was inside my body—deep within that horrible feeling of being frozen by fear, captive to worry and control; slave to my computer and the universe of medication that was available with the click of a button.

I felt it all in my body, so that seemed like a good place to begin—in my body. I was unable to move, desperately reaching up, hoping there was something real in the universe that could see my hand, grab it, and pull me out of the hole I had been living in.

This was where I was, so this was where I began my pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage-logo-zoomTired of feeling like freedom from pornography or sex addiction is impossible? That it’s an endless “battle?” Check out MyPilgrimage.com and get 3 FREE videos that will help you see that freedom from addiction is possible and something you can really experience.

Get Your 3 FREE Videos

The post Are You At War With Your Sex Drive? (Part 1) appeared first on XXXchurch.com.

What Does Freedom Really Look Like?

Here at XXXchurch, we’ve always tried to be on the leading edge of what we talk about. But we also know that we aren’t the only ones trying to get people to freedom! And we’re excited about that.

We know we don’t have all the answers. So when I come across something exciting and helpful, I like to share it with people.

That’s what’s happening with My Pilgrimage. This is an incredible way of looking at addiction that is going to change so many people’s entire perspective on their own struggles.

In fact, I liked it so much that I made this short video talking about it. Check it out:

Learn More at MyPilgrimage.com

My Pilgrimage is going to blow up so many people’s notions of what freedom looks like. And it’s coming at the topic from so many angles that you can really grasp what they’re talking about.

It’s a book.
It’s a guidebook.
It’s a video series.

In fact, right now they’re offering three free videos that you can check out, just to see what it’s like.

XXXchurch 100% believes in these guys and what they’re all about, and we’re excited to hear all the stories of freedom that come from My Pilgrimage.

Go to MyPilgrimage.com now and get those three free videos today!

Visit MyPilgrimage.com

The post What Does Freedom Really Look Like? appeared first on XXXchurch.com.

Companion from Wembley

When was the last time you enjoyed some sexy company in Wembley from prestigious http://cityofeve.com/wembley-escorts? Most guys come here to Wembley to watch football, but there is a lot more to Wembley than that. I thought I would introduce you to Wembley escorts services, and some of the hot Wembley escorts that date here.

Here in Wembley we have escorts from every corner of the world, but they all have one thing in common. They are steaming hot, and you can always rely on Wembley escorts if you want to have some different fun from watching football. I am sure these ladies can help you to score a goal or two.

Lynda – let me ask you if you like tall blonde Swedish girls who use love to thrill? Well, in that case Lynda is one of those girl and she is probably one of the most stunning ladies that you will find here in London. she is 5 ft 8 and just loves to take those longs and wrap them around you. As a former lady wrestler, she is strong as well and she would love nothing more than to show off her skills. Perhaps she would even like to teach you to wrestle.

However, there is more to Lynda than wrestling. When she is not busy dating or exercising, she runs her own online sex shops. She sells anything from the latest sex toys to lovely lingerie that she has designed herself. Lynda is passionate about lingerie designs but she will only launch a new line when she received the full approval of her dates. Every garment that she designs, she has personally modeled for her gents and only when they say yes will Lynda start production.

Sensuality is always on top of Lynda’s agenda, and unless she can come up with a sensual design that turns gents on, she will not even show it to her girlfriends. Mind you, some gents say that Lynda’s idea of lingerie design can be a bit challenging and that many of them just get to excited when they see it. But then again, I would have thought that sexy lingerie is all about getting excited.

There are many Wembley escorts like Lynda. The girls around here seem to be into all sort of things, and it does not matter if it is lingerie design or sex toys. I even have a friend who works as part of a team of Wembley escorts and she collects pornographic art. I don’t know anybody who can top of that. Her name is Sara and her boudoir is full of porno art from top to bottom. Her boyfriend keeps telling her to sell some but she insists on keeping everything.

Would you like to date a Wembley escort? I am sure that you would just love to date a Wembley escort, and the girls are a delight to be with once you get to know them. Many gents have dated in Wembley for ages and that seems to say that they are happy with their Wembley girls.


escort agency

I want my own girlfriend

I would dearly love to have my own girlfriend, but she had to be a very special girl. None of the girls that I have met out and about town recently, have been a patch on my Katja from http://cityofeve.com/ealing-escorts Ealing escorts. She truly is my dream girl in more ways than one. Not a day goes past when I don’t think about Katja, and admire her from a far. I often just bring up her image on my screen and sit there and look at. I dream about all of the things that we have done together, and the many fun things we could do if she was my girlfriend.

Katja is the perfect girl for me. She is a super hot sex kitten that you can play, and really get down to business. At the same time, she is the sweetest girl that I have ever met at Ealing escorts, and I always look forward to seeing her. When we close the door to her boudoir, we get up to all sort of fun things and she just loves to spend time with me, she says. The hottest and sexiest times in my life have been spent with my Katja.

This girl from Ealing escorts is certainly something really different. She dresses like a sex kitten, and just loves to role around on the floor. I have some amazing photos of her when she is laying there looking to pounce like little kittens do. She can be a bit scratchy at times, but that is only part and parcel of her sexy little kitten ways. As a matter of fact, this is part of her personality that really turns me on, and I love that little sensation of danger. Will she scratch me, or won’t she scratch me, with Katja you never know.

She is always dressed to please. I am sure that she would dress exactly as I would tell her to on certain occasions, but I don’t interfere. She is one of those girls at Ealing escorts with a special dress sense anyway, so I never need to remind her of what I like. Every date is perfect, and she meets me at the door all ready to start to play and have some fun. This is just one of the many things that I would like to have in my own personal girlfriend. If I could only find a girl like that…

I know that I am not the only man Katja sees, but I like to think that I am special. I have looked after all of the escorts that I have dated at Ealing escorts but I like to make special fuzz of Katja. The truth is that I spend a fortune on my little kitten, and from what I can tell, she really appreciates. She always wears one of the nice lotions that I have bought, and she is nice and smooth all over, just what I want on my dates with Katja.

Kensington escorts – the hottest girls

As a wine merchant I need to be on the move a lot. It is really difficult to try and form personal relationships when you travel so I have taken to dating escorts. It isn’t necessarily by choice, dating girls have become a necessity as this job can be very stressful. One on hand I have all of the producers and then I have the clients on the other. It isn’t a very easy job at all and can become difficult. Many of my UK based clients are in the Kensington area so when I am here I dated Kensington escorts – they are the hottest of them all.

It is funny but I have dated so many different escorts, but I keep coming back to my Kensington escorts http://cityofeve.com/kensington-escorts. A couple of weeks ago I was in San Fransisco to go into the Napa Valley to buy some wine, and I dated a couple of San Fransisco escorts. Both girls were suppose to be VIP escorts but I can’t say that there was anything VIP about them. To me, they only looked cheap and tarty. VIP or elite escorts are suppose to be classy girls, but one of the girls even turned up to the date in jeans. It was a real eye opener!

I cannot understand why the standards are so different across the world. A few days ago I popped into the local Kensington escorts agency to give a couple of good wine to the owner. He is a nice chap and we get on really well. I sat him down and told him about my experience, and he said that the Americans have a totally unique attitude to escorts. Most of the chaps who use the agency do date abroad sometimes, and they come back with some really odd stories. The owner, Alan, said that the Americans who use the agency are often surprised by the girls here. They often say that they are to sophisticated.

Personally, I would have thought that most gents would like to date sophisticated, sexy ladies. I can’t see the point of going out with girls who are slutty. Most American escorts seem to be sort off cheap, but all of the Kensington escorts who I date, are really classy. I am still mesmerized by the American attitude, and cannot help to wonder what would happen if a British guy run an escorts agency in the United States.

Sometimes I think that I am better if waiting to date escorts until I get back to the UK. At least I can rely on the quality of service from agencies such as Kensington escorts services. You know that you are not going to end up with some silly little tart in a mini skirt who is going to show you up in a restaurant. I do prefer my classy ladies of Kensington. They are never out of place and you can trust that they will know how to act and behave in any situation. It doesn’t matter if we are out or behind closed doors.

5 Characteristics Successful Marriages Have

successful-marriagesPerhaps one of the greatest–and most baffling–questions of all time is, “How can I have a successful marriage?

After sitting down with so many different married couples and listening to their individual journeys (because truly, no two marriages anywhere on the planet are ever the same!), I’ve discovered that, before any marriage can be healthy, happy, and fulfilling, both spouses must understand what a biblically-based marriage is.

Scripture compels believers to enter into marital covenant. And although that should be synonymous, with marriage, unfortunately, for many, it’s not.

So the short answer to the question is “The way to have a successful marriage is to know that God desires husbands and wives to honor marital covenant.” One author on marital covenant explains what that is this way: “A covenant is intended by God to be a lifelong fruitful relationship between a man and a woman. Marriage is a vow to God, to each other, our families and our community to remain steadfast in unconditional love, reconciliation, and sexual purity, while purposefully growing in our covenant marriage relationship.”

Yep. Now let’s look a bit deeper. Here are 5 characteristics successful marriages have:

1) A true understanding of what marital covenant is. When I sit in premarital counseling sessions, there are two things I bring up before anything else: what the Bible says about divorce and what the Bible says about sex. Marital covenant does not consist of a boyfriend and a girlfriend who stay together until they are irritated, bored, or simply ready to move on to someone else–it consists of two people coming together as one (Genesis 2:24-25). Who cuts off their arm when it hurts them? Who doesn’t take care of their leg when it’s sore? Your partner is a part of you. People who view marriage as a covenant see their husband or wife as basically a limb.

Marital covenant is not just a relationship–it is the true essence of oneness. (Tweet This!)

2) A true understanding that God is the most important part of marriage. One of my favorite scriptures about marriage is, “Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.” (Matthew 19:6, MSG) Marriage is truly a work of art, and God is the Artist. The Inventor. The Creator. It’s the only relationship that speaks directly to God being all up in it!

Unfortunately, sometimes when marriage gets hard, couples look too much to one another rather than to the Creator. Two flawed people can’t make a marriage work. (Tweet This!) But two people who put God and what he desires for them and their marriage, two people who know they can’t stay married doing it on their own but they can with God at the helm? They are well on their way to being more than just “successful,” but a mind-blowing example of God’s miraculous love and power!

3) A solid friendship. Whenever couples come to me in serious trouble, I don’t ask them, “So, are you still in love?” No, what I want to know is, “Do you still like one another?” Ecclesiastes 4 speaks of the value of friendship; that both people can help one another, yes, even when they fall. When your spouse is your absolute best friend, when you’re being ever-conscious about that being the foundation of your marriage, then how can you just…end things with the person who is closest to you? The one you tell your secrets to? The one who knows all about you? The one who is there for the roller coaster ride? If more couples worked on their friendship, I truly believe the marriage would take care of itself.

4) A consistent sex life. Did you know that 15-20% of couples are considered to be sexless (having sex less than 10 times per year)? Sex is a gift for married people, but you know what? It’s also a responsibility. It’s not a “perk.” It’s a staple. And let’s not forget what I Corinthians 7:5 (NLT) says that going without sex can do to a relationship: “…you should come together…so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” In fact, let’s jump up a couple of verses: “But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.” (I Corinthians 7:2-NLT)

Sex is fun and pleasurable but more than anything, it is purposeful. (Tweet This!) It is a physical act that represents spiritual oneness. And, it’s also a form of spiritual protection from the Enemy too. A successful marriage doesn’t “fit sex in”–it makes sex a top priority.

5) A counselor on call. Proverbs 12:15 says that “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise” and Proverbs 24:6 says that in counsel, there is safety. These two verses alone speak to the importance of marriage counseling.

But here’s the thing: Don’t wait until you are ready to move out or sign divorce papers before seeing one!

A car needs an oil change every three months. Married couples could benefit from “getting their temperature taken” (or as I call it “checking for mouse holes”), at least a couple of times a year, too. It helps to improve communication. It helps to understand mutual needs. It helps for both people to see how far they’ve come–and where they want to go. A successful marriage is about being proactive rather than reactive. Marriage counseling is a big part of that!

I’m praying for each and every spouse reading this.

A healthy marriage is possible.

With God, all things are!


Logo-Married-Event-new-size-Kajabi-v2If you are married and looking for ways to salvage, improve, or supercharge your marriage and marital satisfaction then check out Married. This online experience is just for married couples and features a ton of great teaching and insight from experts like Dave and Ashely Willis, Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn, and Craig and Jeanette Gross.

Check out married now!

The post 5 Characteristics Successful Marriages Have appeared first on XXXchurch.com.

Paradise With My Man

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could spend more time on the beach? I love the beach, and I get severe withdrawal symptoms when I am away from the beach. Of course, there are no beaches in London, and so called Lidos where you can go swimming. Needless to say they don’t come close to a tropical beach. Ever couple of months I try to get some time off from my cheap escorts agency, and disappear of to the beach. I like to work for this amazing cheap escorts company, but I do need to spend some time with the man of my dreams as well.

You may be wondering who is the man of my dreams? The truth is that the man of my dreams is a 5 year old boy called Tony. My ex boyfriend and I managed to produce this lovely little boy before we split up. Tony loves tropical beaches as much as I do, and we spend hours playing in the surf together. For me, it is serious down time with Tony. During the week when I work for London escorts, I don’t always get as much time as I like with Tony. This is why it is so important for me to escape from London escorts to an exotic beach.

Without cheap escorts services I would not be able to afford to escape to the beach with Tony. Most jobs in London would not pay as well, and I just love to be able to take us away. When I am away from London escorts services with Tony, I am a totally different person. We stay in a luxury cottage on the beach, and I spend my day in shorts or a bikini. We play games on the beach, or just go snorkeling. Tony is already a fantastic swimmer, and would be on the beach every day if he could.

The fact is that I would love to have enough money to leave London escorts, and go and live on the beach. This would just be paradise to me, but I don’t know where. The problem is that Tony and I love all sorts of beaches. Paradise to us can be in Cornwall, the Maldives or Thailand. Our most recent holiday was to Cornwall, and we loved it. There were so many things to do, and we rented the cutest cottage. I would love to live in Cornwall when I retire from London escorts.

Moving to Cornwall would be the perfect new start for me and Tony. I am not so sure what I would do after leaving London escorts, but I am sure that I can find some little home based business to run. Who knows, I might even be able to set up my own company online. That would give me a chance to look after Tony, and to spend time on the beach as well. Cornwall is an amazing place, and I love things like the local wild life. It is not as warm as the Maldives, but there are so many exciting places to explore.

3 Lessons I Learned Instantly In My First Week of Marriage

lessons-for-marriageThey say everyone gets a honeymoon period at the start of your marriage, but whoever brandished that idea: I want a refund.

Marriage is hard work right out of the gate. Our sentimental ideas about romance get tossed out very, very quickly — and I want you to be ready. Everyone told me what to expect, but no matter how much you prepare, it’s still a jump into the deep end. The more you know about what’s coming, the more quickly you can stand on your two feet.

I know that marriage isn’t for everyone (contrary to our culture, singleness is not an illness), but whether you’re not in the dating scene or you’ve been married for years, here are three things I learned instantly in the first week of marriage. These lessons could be valuable and necessary for our entire journey.

1) Marriage pulls down the hologram and brings about the gritty reality of your spouse (and yourself too).

My wife and I dated for six years before we were married, and in those six years, I had never heard her pass gas once. I would constantly tell her that it was okay, but my wife was dead-set on maintaining an air of elegance. No pun intended.

About four days into the marriage, on a wonderful crisp morning in Florida, I asked my wife, “Are you boiling eggs?

She said, “No. I’m not boiling eggs.”

Are the sprinklers on outside?

No. The sprinklers are not on.”

But then what’s that sme—

And it hit me. Pun intended.

(By the way, I have my wife’s permission to share this story. I’m proud to say that she now regularly passes gas around me with the most exuberant freedom.)

In dating, we’re often on our best behavior. It’s like a job interview, where both sides show off their impressive benefits and credentials. In marriage, you see the rough, raw edges of the entire person. Marriage creates perhaps the closest proximity you will ever have with another human being. You’ll see every insecurity and neurotic tendency. There will be friction.

This is more than just about keeping up a pretty image. It’s also a way of learning how to love an entire person and not just the parts that you like.

In Timothy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage, he discusses how we each have fault lines in our hearts, like the cracks of a great bridge. These fault lines get exposed when we collide with another person, so that we spill anger or jealousy or anxiety. A married couple, because they’re so close in space, will inevitably drive a truck through each other’s hearts: which exposes all the fault lines. Deep-seated flaws will shake out of us like shaking a tree in the autumn. It’s in this exposure that we can choose to face our flaws, so that they would be re-shaped by the love we share. The sooner, the better.

You’ll also see every dream, hope, talent, passion, and ambition in your spouse. You’ll see what lights them up and gets them excited. This means that marriage is often about showing grace for your spouse’s worst and promoting their very best. Love sees a greatness in someone who cannot see it in themselves. (Tweet This!) And if marriage is one of the most intimate unions in the universe, then it has the power to encourage a person beyond their self-imposed limits. Though this can happen in many types of relationships, marriage offers a profound intensity to spiritual growth. Finally, we can switch off our holograms of who pretend to be, and actually become the people we were meant to be.

2) Marriage means your stuff isn’t your stuff anymore.

In our first week, we didn’t fly off to the honeymoon, which was another two weeks away. We spent time unpacking, opening wedding gifts, frolicking in our new home, and merging our lives together. About five days in, I wanted to meet up a friend to hang out, one of the groomsmen in the wedding.

I neglected to tell this to my wife. This is one of those very obvious things that I should’ve knew from the get-go, but in my defense, I’m an idiot.

Marriage is about Two-As-One, as We instead of Me. My time was no longer my own. It was our time. Our things. Our bank account. Our bed. Again, this sounds obvious, but I’ve spoken with so many singles and unmarried couples who were dismayed at the idea of splitting a life in half. No one is quite prepared to completely surrender unilateral decisions. We quickly learn why Apostle Paul compared our relationship with God to the marriage union — because we are entrusting our will with another.

The wonderful advantage is that rather than “splitting in half,” it actually feels more like a merging of strength. Our individual abilities can make up for each other’s weaknesses. Our knowledge and our view on life is suddenly augmented with an entirely new angle. By the end of the week, I was figuring out what she would want and why, which helped my tiny brain to open to new avenues I had never considered.

While both dating and engagement can offer the benefit of unified minds, the promise of marriage solidifies an active undercurrent of cooperation. There’s now a lifelong goal: for the health of the couple, and not what works for “me,” but for We. What works for you as an individual might be good, but what works for the couple turns out to be great. It’s not half plus half, nor is it one plus one; instead, the grace and synergy of marriage equate to an exponential growth of each other’s hearts.

3) Marriage means there’s nowhere to run except towards each other.

Our first argument in the first week was different from any argument we’d ever had.

When we were dating, our conflicts were always able to be delayed. A few days of separation could cool us off. The problems might come back, but a little bit of distance smoothed things over. We could just bury it and move on.

Now we have no such apparatus.

No buffer, no denial, no escape.

We could either go to bed angry or we could wrestle our exposed demons all the way to resolution.

For those who are more likely to avoid confrontation, this proves extremely troubling. If you’re like me and you absolutely need to resolve things on the spot, it can still prove difficult, because you’ll end up defending yourself in the most tone-deaf ways possible. It’s all rather very embarrassing when we realize how bad we are at the Rules of Engagement.

We had to figure out a system. We had to know what words we would never, ever use. If we were going to fight, we would have to fight fair, with no low blows and no dragging up the past against each other. None of this is a perfect process. The initial start of a conflict will never be smooth; our first reactions are always emotional because it feels like your own value is at stake.

It’s in these moments that my wife and I had to learn to seek an end-point to our arguments. The beginning would always be rough, but with enough humility and self-awareness, we could run toward intimacy instead of toward an exit. (Tweet This!) This kind of spousal love is not only a means to an end, but the end itself.

We’ve discovered that when confrontation has a direction, it’s always an opportunity to grow.

And if a guy like me can learn these things, then I guarantee you: we all can.

The post 3 Lessons I Learned Instantly In My First Week of Marriage appeared first on XXXchurch.com.