Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Secrets to a Healthy Marriage

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Reflecting on what makes a marriage work, I was struck by how vital is the gift of forgiveness.  My wife, by the way, is very gifted at forgiving, probably because I have given her so much practice.  My wife is also very patient and persevering, as I have noticed that often in our marriage, it has taken me a while to really grow and change.  The fact that she never gives up on me, and that she keeps on believing the best for me, is a wonderful gift indeed.

I recently read a fascinating book entitled ‘Men & Women: Enjoying the Differences’ by the best-selling author Dr. Larry Crabb.  He commented that ‘self-centered living is the real culprit in marriages with problems.  Other-centered living is the answer.’  Many of us enter marriage thinking that our spouse will meet our deepest needs.  We then feel cheated when they don’t, and begin to close our hearts.  How many of us enter marriage with the view that we are there to serve our spouse?  How many of us see marriage as a way of serving God?  A marriage where both partners are committed to serving one another, to ‘washing one another’s feet’ is a marriage in which self-centeredness gets sidelined.  What will it take, says Dr. Crabb, to realize that our selfishness is without excuse and that our first job, in our friendships and marriages, is to recognize our selfishness and learn how we can change?

One thing that men and women have equally in common is that we are all equally self-centered and selfish.  Little growth in marriages take place, says Dr. Crabb, until we realize that the disease of self-centeredness is fatal to our souls and marriages.  Nothing exposes our self-centeredness more clearly than anger.  Because our hearts are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), we have an amazing ability to justify our own anger and bitterness towards our spouse, while simultaneously excusing our own bad attitudes.  Being angry at our spouses can be very attractive, because it makes us feel both powerful and self-righteous.  Having counseled dozens of couples over the years, I am continually amazed at the self-deception of many who convince themselves that the problem is their spouse, and that their personal faults are far more minor and merely reactive.  Self-centeredness is a cancer that blinds us from seeing that the problem is not merely our spouse; the problem is ourselves.

Our culture is saturated with excuses for everything.  It is not my fault.  It’s my spouse’s, my parent’s, my government’s, or my boss’ fault.  A.A. calls that ‘stinking thinking’.   Few of us are willing to do a thorough moral inventory of our own personal faults.  The bible uses a short, unpopular word for self-centeredness.  It calls it ‘sin’.  Sin doesn’t mean that we are axe-murderers or child molesters.  The heart of the word ‘sin’ is the ‘I’ at the middle.  The heart of most marriage problems is self-centered sin.

Dr. E. Stanley Jones, founder of the Christian Ashram, once said that ‘there can be no love between a husband and wife unless there is mutual self-surrender.  Love simply cannot spring up without that self-surrender to each other.  If either withholds the self, love cannot exist.’  A man and his wife were having painful marriage difficulties. The wife went away to a Christian Ashram, and surrendered her marriage to the Lord.  When she returned home, her husband said to her: ‘Well, Miss High and Mighty, what did you learn at the Ashram?’  She replied: ‘I’ve learned that I’ve been the cause of all our troubles.’  She got up from her chair, came around beside him and knelt, folded her hands and said: ‘Please forgive me. I’m the cause of all our troubles.’  At that moment, her husband nearly upset the kitchen table, while getting down on his knees beside her.  He blurted out, ‘You’re not the cause of all our troubles — I am.’  There they met each other — and God.  Each surrendered to Jesus, then they surrendered to each other and were free.  Now this couple, instead of continually criticizing each other, are one in love and forgiveness.

My prayer for those reading this article is that many may find victory through surrender.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


3 Comments

The ‘Dangers’ of Listening to Women

Ed_Jan2By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Most  men are ‘experts’ on women, until we marry one. Experience can be rather humbling to our most treasured pre-conceptions.

Flowers are, by far, the most popular gift that men like to give to women, followed by chocolates, candies, and other such delicacies. But perhaps the most valuable and most dangerous gift that we can give the women in our lives is the gift of listening.

confusedHeartfelt, non-critical listening is a rare phenomenon in our fast-paced, analytical culture. Listening takes time. Listening takes energy. Listening takes courage. To be honest, it often seems a lot easier just to give them chocolates. Most of us as men know that we need to grow in the area of listening.

The most offensive thing about listening is how helpless it can make us feel. Very few of us as men either like to feel weak or admit our weaknesses. Despite the male consciousness-raising of the last thirty years, such radical vulnerability does not come easy.

I well remember the first year of our marriage as a great time. My wife however has somewhat different memories…‘little things’ like our living on a shoe-string budget so that we could go on vacation in Europe, and my spending all my time studying for my Master’s Degree.

Years later, she finally told me that the first year wasn’t a bed of roses. I said: “Why didn’twife of your youth you tell me?” “Well, Ed”, she said, “You weren’t listening”. Sadly, she was right. One of the dangers of listening to women is that we just might hear something that we don’t want to hear. Our equilibrium may be so unsettled that it will take us quite a while to recover.

The key women in our lives usually have a remarkable ability to impact our sense of inner calm, in a way that our male acquaintances rarely do. When a male upsets another man, we often just ‘write them off’ and carry on. But when a key woman ‘gets under our skin’, we have to deal with it, or our life begins to shrink.

One of the key signs of a man going through a marriage breakup is the radical energy loss, and the consequent impact on his work. As men, we are usually so ‘thick’ that when a marriage breakup hits us, we rarely see it coming. It’s like being hit by a Mac Truck. So many men say: “I had no idea”. Exactly. More than any other offense, the action that most drives our wives to the Courts (and I don’t mean ‘tennis’) is our unwillingness to listen.

laceheartAnother danger of listening to women is that we might have to change. None of us like being controlled. We certainly don’t like being treated like children by the key women in our lives. Sometimes we confuse our fear of change with our fear of being controlled. Without change, there is no growth. Without change, there is no future. I have found that if I am willing to change the things that I can change (which is me), then the rest of life begins to make more sense.

The famous A.A. Serenity prayer asks God for the serenity to accept the things that we cannot change ( which includes anyone else, especially the women in our lives). When we finally wake up and realize that women are ‘unfixable’ (that is, by us), then we can stop trying to change them, and start actually listening. Genuine listening to women can be unnerving, because to listen is to change.

Most of us as men have an amazing ability to Channel Changerblock out parts of conversations that make us feel uncomfortable. Ever wonder why women get so irritated with us, as so many men are forever flicking on the TV channel changer. This filtering ability can make men look like their memories are extremely selective. As the old saying goes, the problem with men is that they never remember, and the problem with women is that they never forget.

I remember when a former secretary in another city came up to me and courageously shared some concerns with me about our work environment. My ‘walls’ were down that day, and so I actually heard what she was saying. I said to her, “Why have you taken so long to tell me?” She said, “Because until now you would have never listened. You would have just explained it away.” I felt stunned and challenged. Here I was, a trained Social Worker and Priest, and I couldn’t even see my own ‘walls’.

The Good Book says that our hearts are deceitful, and that no one can really understand them. (Jeremiah 17:9) We have an amazing ability to fool ourselves. Have you noticed how often we judge our spouses by planktheir actions, and ourselves by our good intentions. That is why Jesus challenged each of us to first remove the log from our eyes, before we try to do surgery on the splinter in someone else’s eye.

Courageous listening  is choosing to remove that log of defensiveness, and actually give the women in our lives our full, uncompromised attention. I have found that my wife is virtually always right even when she is wrong. She, and most other women, have a God-given intuitive ability that functions like a radar system in discerning basic truth. Sometimes she can’t even tell me why she is feeling so uncomfortable about some area, but in hindsight, my listening to her has saved me a lot of grief. That doesn’t mean that she is always right on all the details, but she usually intuitively grasps the core of issues.

That is why the famous author Gary Smalley says that every woman has a built-in marriage manual, if we men would only have the courage to listen and not reject It has taken me a long time to fully benefit from this ‘dangerous’ gift of my wife.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus after his resurrection turned up to women first? Perhaps it’s because women are so spiritually open. No one in that 1st century culture listened to women, except Jesus. So Jesus, after rising again, broke all the rules and showed up to rejected, despised, ignored women. Did the male disciples initially believeempty_large the women when they shared about the risen Jesus? Not in your life. Like so many of us men today, they wrote off the women’s stories as “old wives’ tales”.

I pray that we men may have the courage to listen to the stories of women, especially their stories of Jesus’ love.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-author of the award-winning Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


11 Comments

Don Quixote: Chasing After Marriage’s Windmills

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hirdman of la mancha

As a child, I read a comic book version of Don Quixote, and concluded that he was a total fool to go chasing after windmills.  Years later, I’ve observed that many of us as adults end up chasing after windmills in business, politics, relationships, or sports.

 

One of those windmills is twisting ourselves into a knot, trying to have the perfect marriage relationship.  Anne Wilson Shaef, a well-known 12-Step writer, comments that relationships are always better in the abstract, and that reality is the stuff that ruins what dreams are made of.  Her counsel is that when we let go of what marriage should be and let marriage be what it is, we can have a chance for marriage to be what it can be.

don-quixoteIf you’ve never seen the award-winning Broadway musical and Hollywood movie Man of La Mancha, I recommend that you and your spouse rent or borrow it in the near future.  There is something about those songs that stir me every time I hear them, especially To Dream the Impossible Dream, Dulcinea, and Aldonza.

Peter O’toole does a brilliant performance as Don Quixote, a skinny old gentleman with wispy white hair and a care-worn face, a seeming mad-man who dreams the impossible dream of restoring love and gallantry to everyday relationships.  Sophia Loren memorably lives out the character of Aldonza, a sullen and abused kitchen-wench, who is transformed into Dulcinea by Quixote’s unfailing respect.

The so-called sexual revolution of the 1960’s was supposed to remove barriers that kept people from reaching their full potential.  Instead it slowly eroded an appreciation for the sanctity of the marriage relationship, and often left women more vulnerable to abuse and abandonment.

Don Quixote symbolizes a recovery of chivalryman_of_la_mancha2 and mutual respect in the male-female relationship.  Upon encountering Aldonza, Don Quixote sings: “I have dreamed thee too long, never seen thee or touched thee but know thee with all of my heart.  Half a prayer, half a song, thou has always been with me, though we have always been apart, Dulcinea…Dulcinea”.  Don Quixote repeatedly speaks blessing into Aldonza’s life, calling her Dulcinea (meaning sweetness).

Despite her rejection of his love, Don Quixote still keeps speaking into her life with patience and gentleness.  Again and again Quixote reaffirms that the male-female marriage relationship is far more than just physical: it is a spiritual reality, an experience of one flesh intimacy.

That is why Quixote, the Man of La Mancha, sings: “I see heaven when I see thee, and thy name is like a prayer an angel whispers, Dulcinea…I have sought thee, sung thee, dreamed thee, Dulcinea”.  Because of how deeply Aldonza has been hurt by other men, it seems almost impossible that she could ever learn to trust again.  She struggles between the fear that Don Quixote is just an old fool and the faint hope that he might indeed be her knight in shining armour.

windmillAt one point in the movie, Quixote’s relatives try to take him away from Aldonza, claiming that he is mad.  The priest pauses and says: “One might say that Jesus was mad, or St. Francis.”  In one sense, Don Quixote functions as a Christ-figure, one who gives his life for others, even though dismissed as insane by his own family (Mark 3:21).  In another sense, Don Quixote symbolizes the faithful pilgrim, like Francis of Assisi, who saw so clearly through the hypocrisy of his age that he was rejected as a “fool for Christ”(1 Corinthians 4:10).  Either way, Don Quixote reminds us as men that sometimes we have to humble ourselves and look foolish, if we really want our marriages to blossom.

Don Quixote was shameless in his affirming of Dulcinea.  In response, she cynically said: “Your heart doesn’t know much about women”.  Instead of giving up, Quixote gently responded: “Woman is the soul of man, the radiance that lights his way. Woman is glory”.  Dulcinea was deeply afraid that he would just use her and discard her, like all the rest.  She said to him: “What do you want of me?”

As a true errant knight, Quixote said: “I ask of my lady that I may be allowed to serve her, that I may hold her in my heart, that to her I may dedicate each victory and call upon her in defeat, and if at last I give my life, I give it in the sacred name of Dulcinea.”

Gradually Dulcinea melts in the face of Don DulcinaQuixote’s gentleness and patience.  She sings: “Can’t you see what your gentle insanities do to me? Rob me of anger and give me despair.  Blows and abuse I can take and give back again, Tenderness I cannot bear.”

Tenderness is what we most need in our marriages today.  Tenderness is what will heal the deepest wounds.  Tenderness is a gift of love from the heart of Jesus himself. May Don Quixote’s gentle insanities give each of us hope for our marriages in the days and years ahead.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


11 Comments

Romancing the Heart of Stone

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

shakespeare9

What is Love, said one anonymous blogger? “It is a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker.”

Shakespeare wrote: “Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs. Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes. Being vexed, a sea nourished with lovers tears. What is it else? A madness most discreet, a choking gall and a preserving sweet.”

The famous Pirate Captain Blackbeard was a firm believer in marriage. Some say that he had fourteen wives in different ports.  Howard Hughes as a modern-day pirate Howard Hughes picturereportedly had over 250 partners/girlfriends stashed in different locations, many which falsely believed that they were married to Hughes. Perhaps this is why Marilyn Monroe sadly commented: “A wise girl kisses but doesn’t love, listens but doesn’t believe, and leaves before she is left.”

Despite all the cynicism and marital meltdown, North Americans still spend $13 billion on Valentines Day gifts, including 200 million roses, 40 million heart-shaped candy boxes, and $3 billion on jewelry.

We live in an age when many couples wake up with each other, and then try to figure out whether or not they want a commitment.  Given the ambivalent procrastination of our post-modern culture, it is not surprising that some couples are still stuck on the way to the altar even after their second child.  Some want to be completely financially secure first, even to the point of having all the money for their dream Hawaii honeymoon. Without that, they say, marital commitment is just unthinkable.

The biblical position is that ‘true love waits’.  The confusion of our culture does make true love wait, not for sex, but for marriage.  When God’s standards for intimacy are disregarded, the look-alike solutions become more and more ambivalent. Even living together is now seen as too committed by some young couples.  All this leaves many young people jaded and detached, with ever higher standards of who might ever qualify as their future marital partner.

In the movieRomancing the Stone Poster Romancing the Stone, Joan Wilder a romance writer meets Jack Colton who violates every one of her imaginary ideas of what a real man will act like.  Romancing the Stone reminds us that real romance involves the messiness and disappointments of everyday life.  Dr Karl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist, said: “Love cures people, both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.”

Eighteen years ago, I wrote a Deep Cove Crier article about Marriage Encounter in which I wrote the following words: “Inside the heart of each and every one of us there is a longing to be understood by someone who really cares. When a person is understood, he or she can put up with almost anything in the world.”  Recently I discovered that those words have now been posted on hundreds of Romance websites  http://bit.ly/35E4or  Why would so many Romance websites be posting my words?

My hunch, as Dr Gil Stieglitz puts it, is that one of the deepest needs of wives is to be truly understood by their husbands.  Many men mistakenly think that this is impossible.  It is our job as husbands to carefully study our wives that we know them even better than they may know themselves.

Dr Gil Stieglitz 2Dr Gil Stieglitz tells us in his video series ‘The Five Problems of Marriage’ that one of the top needs of wives is for romance, to be nurtured and pursued.  Some husbands don’t realize that they still need to date their wives, even after they are finally married to them.  To some men, dating their wives is unthinkable. It would be like trying to get on a bus that they are already on.

Alfred Lord Tennyson romantically wrote: “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever.”  Romance is not an option. It is fundamental in any healthy marriage. If we have not been romancing our wife lately, she may be suspicious of our initial efforts. It may feel like we are romancing a stone, a stony heart. That is where perseverance and gentleness are so vital in the pursuit.

My wife finds it very romantic when I take out the garbage and do the dishes. Your wife needs to know that she is the most beautiful woman on earth, that she is a precious gift of God to you.  Romance is saying, like Robert Browning, to your wife: “Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be.”

The Great Physician of our souls said: “This is my commandment that you love one another. No greater love has anyone than to lay your life down for your friends. jesus2 The Good Book says that he that does not love doesn’t know God, because God is love.  Pearl Buck the famous novelist wrote: “Love alone could waken love.”

Why are women spending so many billions of dollars each year on romance novels? Largely because there is an unmet need in their life that only you as their husband can fully meet. Your wife is waiting for you to romance her, to win her, to woo her. What are you waiting for?

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide