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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Tearing Down the Strongholds of Hiding & Blaming

Watch Rev. Dr. Ed and Janice Hird teach from Genesis 3 on breaking the strongholds of hiding and blaming.

janice and ed back cover photo

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Removing the Log: an excerpt from our new book “For Better for Worse”

Excerpt from our new book “For Better for Worse”
Removing the Log from Our Eye
The more we nonjudgmentally observe, the less we cut off in our marriage. Most of us, as Jesus taught, have a log in our eye that blinds us from seeing the obvious. Jesus challenged us to remove the log from our own eye before we try to take the splinter out of another person’s eye. Such blindness is rooted in the difficulty of seeing things that do not fit one’s theoretical frame of reference. We underestimate how difficult it can be to perceive things that we do not want to see. One has to become an observer before it is possible to see. The less we see, the more we disconnect from each other. The more we see, the greater our neutrality. Conversely the greater the neutrality, the more we see in our marriage.
Ed and Janice lacked this neutrality for many years. Janice liked to spend money, buying pretty things and clothes. Ed didn’t want to spend money, wanting only to save it. Janice would get upset if Ed tried to slow down her spending. The things were on sale, just for that week. When the bills came in, there would be tension over how to juggle the finances. In more recent years, we have developed more neutrality around our spending and saving habits and are more able to objectively discuss finances without blaming or cutting off.
The ideal neutrality, said Daniel Papero, is like quietly watching the ripples of a mountain pond. Gilbert and Bowen likened such neutral observing to putting on a lab coat like a scientist or watching from a space craft. Bowen compared this to moving from a playing field to the top of a stadium to watch a football game. This observational discipline is like making use of a personal trainer at a gym. Many people turn up at the gym in January, hoping for the post-Christmas quick fix. By February, discouragement and dropout set in for many. It is too easy to lose heart and give up. Learning to become an observational scientist in one’s marriage is just as challenging. It takes time to retrain and develop the power of observation. This is, in fact, a lifetime project till death do us part. Through developing our observational biceps, we still have feelings but they don’t have us. They don’t control our life decisions or define our core self. This is not about being a 21st-century unfeeling Dr. Spock of Star Trek fame. As Richardson commented,
Being differentiated does not mean becoming unfeeling. Well-differentiated people never lose touch with their feelings, and they can experience and express feelings when necessary. They recognize feelings as one source of information about what is going on in their lives. They can also be passionate in their feelings if they choose. The critical element in a well-differentiated person is this choice. They can decide whether or not to act on feelings.
It was encouraging to see how many of the Strengthening Marriage Workshop participants embraced this new way of seeing. Thinking like a scientist, which reduces observational blindness, holds great promise for bridging marital cutoff. Reducing emotional cutoff through increasing one’s objectivity is very demanding. Are we willing to own our part? Owning our part is very challenging because we are often so remarkably blind and defensive. How willing are you to accept influence from your spouse? As Jeremiah 17:9 painfully reminds us, our hearts are deceitful above all things. Reducing cutoff requires a radically objective assessment of one’s self, not just one’s spouse. In the Strengthening Marriage Workshop, we taught several times over the four weeks on the concept of objectivity:
“Objectivity means for each of us in our marriage to become almost like a scientist or a space astronaut observing ourselves and our own marriage. We need that little bit of detachment, but that is hard because we tend to become swallowed in the intensity of our emotions. If we can become objective, it does something remarkable…. What if we didn’t blame ourselves either? What if we became an observer, a scientist, someone who is looking for understanding rather than blaming? … What if we said: “I’m going to watch this. I can feel my blaming coming on. I am going to slow down, have a coffee and watch what is happening”? … You have to, at some point, be neutral about the very marriage that you are committed to, not that you cease to be committed but that you have a degree of detachment. You begin to watch yourself and your marriage like a scientist.”
How objective is your thinking about your marriage?
Click to check out For Better For Worse on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapter for free to see if the book speaks to you.
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Revolutionary Love

By Rev Dr Ed & Janice Hird

We bring you greetings from the Solace Retreat House in Kigali, Rwanda. REVOLUTIONARY LOVE (John 3:16) was the theme of the five-day Healing for the Nations convention in Rwentobo, Uganda. 25,000 delegates attended from many African Nations and around the world. There were many speakers and music groups from Rwanda, Kenya, Congo, Zambia, South Africa, Uganda, and North America. Janice and I spoke daily about how revolutionary love can transform one’s present or future marriage. We taught from Ephesians 5 about mutual submission, love and respect through Jesus.  Our new book For Better, For Worse, drawn from Ed’s doctorate on marriage, was the basis of our marriage talks. We encouraged thousands of couples to strengthen their marriages through rediscovering each other’s hidden strengths, celebrating each other’s differences, valuing the gift of conflict, and balancing closeness & personal space. We shared that marriage is a dance of intimacy in which we need to regularly learn new ‘dance steps’. Marriage is not about settling down but rather about embracing a bold adventure walking together into the often unpredictable future. In a wedding, one makes a for Better, for Worse commitment to one’s partner, come what may. Janice and I shared many humorous and sometimes embarrassing stories about challenges we have faced in our 41 year marriage.

Many couples at the Convention came forward to renew their commitment to their marriage. Others made first-time commitments to finally tie the knot after many years of relationship. In many parts of Africa, paying a bride price to one’s future in laws may involve many cows, making marriage seem financially unreachable. I was reminded that we in Canada sometimes make a wedding , reception and honeymoon so expensive that some young people see marriage as out of reach. I have often married young couples in living rooms or in parks to make weddings more affordable.

After Uganda, we then taught a three day marriage workshop to key Christian leaders in the Northern Rwandan city of Byumba. Then we led marriage workshops in the Eastern Rwandan region of Kibungo, the Western Rwandan region of Ruhango, and the capital city of Kigali. You may remember that we previously taught about marriage seven years ago in Rwanda. The hospitality and receptivity by the Rwandan delegates was memorable. It is so encouraging to teach people who are hungry to learn and grow. Our future is about healing marriages.

Ed+ is praying for a successor after 31 years as the Rector of St Simon’s. This will enable Ed + and Janice to spend more time writings book and speaking at marriage & renewal conferences. Please join us in prayer for just the right successor.

As we write this article, we are preparing to teach other marriage seminars with Bishop Emmanuel of the Kibungo Diocese in Eastern Rwanda,

Hosted by the dynamic Anglican Bishop Nathan Gasatura, we are looking forward to seeing many more marriage transformed through revolutionary love. Rwanda, having suffered so deeply in the 1994 genocide, is very open to the message of Jesus’ love and forgiveness for all. Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts.

Rev Dr Ed & Janice Hird

Rector, St Simon’s North Vancouver

www.stsimonschurch.ca

Co-Authors of For Better, For Worse