What Would You Do?

I came across this article while opening a browser, “Why are we living in an age of anger – is it because of the 50-year rage cycle?” It is true—there seems to be a lot of angry people. A year ago while in Atlanta during “rush hour,” my husband tried to merge onto oncoming traffic. He basically had to force his way because no one would stop. One woman because so enraged that she lowered her window to shout profanity and other vulgarity at him. We were shocked, all I could say was, “Wow!” Her reaction was an “over-reaction.” We could have yelled back in return, but what good would that have done?  Maybe, several years ago, I might have leaned over my husband’s shoulder and respond negatively—honking the horn, shouting, etc., but I realized at that moment that I had changed.

I have heard the term, “being teachable”; to me this means that we are willing to change and improve–we don’t have to respond or behave a certain way, we can change. A Christian’s goal is to become more like Jesus. As we change our behavior, little by little, our personality (the essence of who we are) starts to change too. For instance, we start to love others rather than just loving ourselves, and we are more willing to forgive others.

If you are a Christian, how do you react in a stressful situation? What do you do when people yell profanities at you for no reason? 1 Peter 3:9 says, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing…” (NIV).  How do you fare?

Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti
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Conflict

I have seen how others handled conflict– sometimes they walk away to “clear their heads,” intending to discuss it later but they never do; while others ignore that the conflict exists.

Conflict can be difficult to handle and sometimes it might be better to not do anything about it, but if the conflict never goes away or if it gets bigger then it must be addressed and resolved. This is so true in marriages.

I think there are more opportunities for conflict in a marriage because it is a closer relationship. We also tend to see our spouses when we are tired, like after working all day, etc.

Going to the Bible and praying first is a great way to start the process of resolving the conflict. We must ask for God’s discernment to know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.

Unresolved conflict can cause a barrier that gets wider over time. Conflict doesn’t have to be resolved “overnight,” but it should be resolved– it cannot linger. Then there must be reconciliation– where the two can move forward together.

Colossians 3:13-15 says, “…as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love… Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace…” (NIV).

To truly resolve a conflict there must be forgiveness from both parties– to forgive and to forget. Forget it as if it never happened– that’s hard, but remember that all things are possible with God!

Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The Three Biggest Things I’ve Learned from Being Married for 33 Years

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. We’ve come so far considering we could have been a “statistic” based on the factors we had: only teenagers when we married, we only had a high school education, we had our first child within the first year of our marriage, my parents were divorced, we only knew each other for a few months before getting married, we had a long distance relationship (me in California, and he in Florida), and we had terrible conflict and communication skills.

We had our “ups” and “downs” over the years, and I was even on the verge of getting a divorce earlier in our marriage. Yes, we saw a counselor and took marriage enrichment classes/seminars, but the turning point of our marriage was when we turned everything over to God. I’ve learned so much these past 33 years, and these are the three biggest things that I learned:

  1. I learned that I had to stop trying to be “right,” and to realize that no one is perfect so I had to be more forgiving.

It seemed that I was in a competition with my husband all the time. I wanted to always prove that I was right to a point where I would get angry about it. I spent more time arguing my case that I never really listened. When my husband did something wrong, I would use it against him and bring it up when we had arguments.

No one is perfect (especially me). If I don’t want people to expect perfection from me, then I shouldn’t expect it from other people, most especially my husband. Since I make mistakes all the time, I know that my husband will make mistakes too so I have to forgive him, just as I would want him to forgive me. I’m not always right; I had to listen more and talk less, and I had to realize that just because he did things differently that it doesn’t mean that my way is “right.”

  1. I learned to “pick my battles,” to let the “little things” go, and to choose my words carefully when there is a real issue.

I remember arguing about how the toilet paper should be placed on the holder, and how that argument would expand into other issues from the past. Does it really matter how the toilet paper is put into the holder? No! I realized that there are more serious issues. When these issues arise then that’s when I have to say something, but I had to choose my words (and tone of voice) carefully so that my words can be received.

  1. I learned to truly love my husband, to appreciate him, and to build him up as often as I can.

It used to make me so jealous that my husband had a photographic memory. He breezed through the doctoral program and graduated with a large dissertation after four years, while I struggled and nearly dropped out. The two years that followed his graduation were extremely difficult for me, but he encouraged me when I felt like giving up, he proof read my work several times, and he picked up the slack at home. I graduated after six years of being in the program, and I could not have done it without him.

I’ve come to appreciate how much smarter he is compared to me; and even though he is smarter, he never rubs it in my face. He brings out the best in me, so I try to bring out the best in him. I encourage him by pointing out the positive things about him, or about the positive things he has done or is doing. I am there if he is having a bad day and he needs someone to listen to him. When he gets a migraine, I massage his head until it goes away. I also tell him that I love him every day (they say action speaks louder than words, but words are still important).

Thirty-three years seems like such a long time, but I still have a lot to learn. I don’t think we ever get to that point in our marriage where we can stop trying to love, to support, and to serve our spouse.

Most of all, I continually thank God for His intervention in my marriage, and thank Him for the wonderful man He has given to me to be my husband.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights… Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger… No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need… serve one another through love… And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ” (James 1:17, 19, Eph 4:28, Gal 5:16, Eph 4:32, CSB).

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The phone call

This evening I received a voice message from my brother who I haven’t heard from in over three years. I didn’t answer the call because I didn’t recognize the number and I thought it was a marketing company.

His voice was shaky. He mentioned, “Mom,” and that’s when I called him. I didn’t even bother listening to the rest of his message.

He told me that my mother was in the hospital with pneumonia and that she had asked for him to see her. Apparently my stepfather died about four or five days ago. I’m not sure if her illness has anything to do with her grief.

My emotions are mixed.

My mother married my stepfather when I was 9 years old. Soon after, my stepfather started to molest us. I remember only bits and pieces. One of the strongest memories I had was when my mother said I couldn’t lock the door to my bedroom at night anymore because it “wasn’t safe.” I had a deep feeling of dread, fear, and panic.

For the longest time, I waited for my stepfather to die (he was about 20 years older than my mother). He never did, but then I moved on with my life. I got married and had a family of my own.

I had a literal distant relationship with my mother and stepfather—they lived in California and I lived in Florida. After a few years, they moved to the Philippines. Throughout my nearly 30 years of marriage I only saw my mother three times.

After I had become a Christian, I wanted my mother and even my stepfather to know Christ. I didn’t want revenge and I wasn’t waiting for him to die. In fact, I had hoped that I would hear him say that he had asked God for forgiveness and that he was a believer and a follower of Christ.

With Christmas cards and other mail, we would send them gospel tracts. About a year ago we sent them the “Jesus movie” and my mother said that my stepfather constantly watched it. I am hoping that it changed him.

My mother had always been resistant in hearing about Jesus. She told me several years ago on her last visit to Florida, that she didn’t need Jesus. I’m not sure if she still felt that way. As much as I could, I tried to tell her about Jesus’ love and how my life has changed because of Him.

I am not sure if my mother will recover from her illness. My father said that he will check on her today after the funeral of my stepmother’s mother. I am hoping that I will have one more opportunity to talk to her about God.

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

What is forgiveness?

When I first became a Christian I was perplexed by the Scripture verses in Matthew 18:21-22, ““Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”” (NLT).

I didn’t know for sure what was meant by “forgive someone”—does that mean we pretend that nothing ever happened? What if the person justified the actions and was not really sorry for what happened? Should I still forgive?

When I was 5-years-old, my older half-brother, age 15, started to molest me. He did this until I was about 7-years-old. My mother married my stepfather and he started to molest me when I was 9-years-old—this lasted until I was 13-years-old.

My half-brother and my stepfather never asked to be forgiven; in fact, my half-brother justified what he did—“brothers and sisters do these things.” How could I forgive that?

As I continued to read my Bible, I discovered another Scripture verse: “If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive” (Luke 17:3-4).

The words, “believer,” “repentance,” and “asks forgiveness” jumped out at me– these passages really didn’t apply to my situation.

Then I read Matthew 6:14-15, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Does this mean that if I don’t forgive these two that God will not forgive me? But how could I forgive someone who didn’t even ask for forgiveness?

Ephesians 4:31 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Even though there was no remorse from these two, I had to forgive them. To me, this meant I had to release the anger and hurt that I felt. If I held on to the anger then it would slowly kill me, and I wouldn’t be able to fully worship God because I would have this ugly thing between Him and me.

It wasn’t easy to forgive. It took many years of anguished prayers, but one day I realized that I no longer had anger or hurt. I knew then that God had healed me, and in my heart I had forgiven them. Maybe one day they will turn their lives over to God and He will forgive them too. God is good!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Marriage, forgiveness, and resources

I am teaching a “Marriage and Family” course online for a Christian college and I have discovered that there are so many people who are experiencing problems in their marriage. In my class of about 20 students, there are five who have experienced problems or are going through problems (half the class is not married).

I teach a “Marriage and Family” course in another Christian college.  Even in this class, people are saying that they are having problems in their marriage and the class helps them to see their marriage from a different perspective.  Some have even questioned whether they had rushed into getting a divorce.

The second college is planning on phasing out the course. It’s bad enough that it is only 3 weeks long (most courses are at least 5 weeks long), but now they are phasing it out.  This tells me that they really don’t care about marriages. If they really cared about the marriages of their students then they would have offered this course for a full five weeks, and expanded it to 6 weeks instead of phasing it out.

It is clear that Satan is attacking and destroying marriages. Marriage classes are badly needed—people need to understand that the majority of people experience communication problems, but that doesn’t mean the marriage is doomed to fail. People mess up—that doesn’t mean we walk away from the marriage.

Instead of getting mad and holding grudges, we need to forgive our spouse. The Bible has many Scripture verses about forgiveness.  For example, in Matthew 18:21-22, Jesus is asked this question: “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister [my spouse] who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus answers, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven” (The Message Bible). 

I don’t think we forgive people as much as God forgives us. I think this is especially true in marriages. Forgiveness is so important in a marriage. We are already aware that people aren’t perfect so why would we expect perfection from our spouse? The truth is, our spouse will disappoint us and our spouse may do something that makes us angry, but we need to forgive, especially when our spouse asks for forgiveness.

If you are having problems in your marriage then get some help. If you attend a church then get help from your pastor or clergy. There are organizations that can help too such as “Family Life” (http://www.familylife.com/find-help) — an “Event for Couples” is a great way to start the communication process. There are also counselors: http://www.aacc.net/resources/find-a-counselor/.

Don’t be deceived into thinking that getting a divorce will make things better.

I can’t do much about that one school that plans on phasing out their marriage class, but I can do my part by encouraging you to work on your marriage and then give you some resources that might help. Marriage is supposed to last a lifetime so try to make it work; and remember that all things are possible with God!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti