Gerry & Julie Gutierrez' Update
Can Life Amongst Disciples Get Any Better Than This?
My son, Nathaniel, and a young friend have become my marriage mentors.
A beloved and trusted and much respected friend of mine once told me, “I have a PHD in counseling but I had to go for counseling to save my own marriage.
I said to my wife Julie and to myself, “He is so smart but he does not know what you and I know”.
In marriage all is a matter of dying to self and adopting the will of God for our lives and not to have a will of our own. Dead people do not have their own will and dead people do not get hurt, because they do not have feelings of their own.
Besides, we did not choose each other, but God put us together and he will keep us together. And I quote the famous saying, “Where the will of God leads us, the grace of God will keep on leading us”.
Isn’t that right, Julie? “That’s right”, she answered.
But as full of truth as this statement of faith in our relationships may have been, the crude reality sunk like a sword in our hearts as we discover that adjustment among mature couples to married life can be actually more difficult than that of young couples, whose lives as well as their bodies are still “elastic” or moldable enough to adjust to each other.
The experience of older couples and the combined knowledge of almost a century could be a handicap instead of an asset. Older couples are set in their ways. They are like well established churches that are afraid of change, as attractive as change may sound.
The church as well as the individual seems to be saying, “We have been doing this this way for many years and we are not about to change”.
There seems to be an underlying conviction that the “newcomer” to a church is seeking to change the church with his new ideas. At the same time, the church is expecting the newcomer to adjust to the way the church has been doing things.
In the same way, a man expects his wife to come and adjust to his way of doing things. However, the wife has the same desire to bring her husband to her way of doing things.
In relationships no one is a “potted plant”. Everyone is an individual in a fallen world in need of redemption, grace, love and acceptance, so he can be willing to surrender in his own time his or her life for the sake of the Lord. An example of this would be Abraham, who by love persuaded himself to surrender the life of his only beloved son to the Lord.
The Phone Call:
When the ever-increasing conviction that our marriage was about to collapse on our face, I made a phone call to a young man (age 46) whom I have been mentoring for some 30 years and who now lives thousands of miles away from me.
I thought if I get busy advising others I may find my own words helpful and as someone once said, “We teach best what we most need to learn”. I find it useful listening to my sermons because I believe in my messages. You have to believe in yourself or you are abiding in the fragile tent of false humility.
My friend was not available to answer my call but the robotic faithful operator answered to remind me what number I have just dialed and told me my bill of rights as a caller. So I made the call count by leaving a greeting and a message of identification in the hope to be called back and thus I did not waste a call.
While I was making this call my Julie who is a regular Meryl Streep Oscar winner actor of our family was packing furiously her luggage to go back to her mama in Lancaster. Later she would confess to me with a big smile of satisfaction, “I was just putting away the winter clothing and making room for summer clothes”.
Isn’t she great?
Then The Telephone Rang:
My friend said, “Hi, Gerry, how are you?” And I repeated his question by asking, “How am I?” You tell me how you are with your second wife and what you can share with me and how you have managed to survive the last years.
As a seasoned counselor, with many thousands of hours listening to people, he seems to guess that I was in need to hear some advice. He plunged in with unstoppable comments; it is my wish to share with you and I hope you find as wise and edifying as I have found it. He said this…
Gerry, you have to remember that Ruthie was an American but only by birth. Though she was an American citizen she was more Peruvian than American.
Julie is an American, of Amish-Irish descent. She is different and different from Ruthie.
Both are godly women.
In America the role of a man is different today. The traditional husband figure is over and the role of the woman in the absence of the leadership of man has changed the roles due to the absence of man either to war, business trips, or professional duties are not the same.
Woman is seeking for stability emotionally and financially and everyone knows everything about everybody in the world today, yet as in a company there cannot be two CEO’s. You have to kill one. And fighting is the order of the day in the homes.
Couples engage in fighting and forgot who the real enemy is. We do not fight against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers of the dark world and Satan.
I have observed many successful women from the business world targeting young Marines. Relationships are vastly different today from the world of yesterday. If there is no biblical foundation it will be difficult or even impossible to survive.
You will find that you have muscles that you never used and you will be challenged to use them and you will be hurting in areas where you never before experienced pain.
Julie is different from Ruthie and from any other woman. In your relationship to her you will learn more from God, new things that you did not yet know.
Girls are not out to get us - they have just been affected by our society.
You have to learn to fight an emotional Judo. You are going to pray, “Lord, I have desires and I need something from my partner. I know I cannot change her, so I am going to trust the Holy Spirit. Remember, Satan’s strategy is the following: One will point out the wrongs in the other and the other will assume a defensive position and by so doing, people wind up in their own cobweb.
In the emotional Judo strategy you stop the fight by not responding and the other person will have no one to fight.
Not fueling up the other person and the lack of fighting back will diffuse the confrontation. As the Scriptures said, “ Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down”(Proverbs 26: 20).
Whenever under insults, you need to remember that only Jesus knows you as you are; and His understanding is the only thing that counts the most.
I say these things very well, Gerry, but I don’t do it very well myself.
When in heaven there will be no marriage, and that is the beauty of heaven. As a few of my Latin friends have said, “Now I know why there is no marriage in heaven, for marriage on earth is only good for fighting”.
In regard to temper, remember the Judo principal, where the force of the attacker works against self.
You will find house-church or a small core of friends and brothers very helpful for both of you and makes easy to live and practice integrity.
Try to find a trusted little older couple than yourselves so as to relate to them as mentors. Older women find easy to teach and share with younger women.
Even though the modern relationships in America have become more difficult than what it used to be, Solomon says, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
Whatever you are going through, somebody has gone through 3000 years ago. Take courage in the biblical guidance because it is timeless and it is the only thing that is working in inter-personal relationships.
Your marriage IS your ministry, Gerry. It will teach you so much about yourself. You are under orders to stay, don’t leave.
I caution you against secular psychologist counseling, for they pursue instant problem solving apart from God. They do not know the word of God and they are the reverse of the Scriptures. We call them “upside down gods”.
You and I like to cook our food in ovens but our other friends like to cook with microwaves. We Latinos like to take time to cook as well as time to solve problems. But many others are for fast food and instant solutions.
You and I are like the kid in the back of the classroom and somewhat unruly, but smart, but always and only gets B’s.
You will find out that some pastors run counseling as a business and their business is to solve problems. But in counseling, and after thousands of hours of listening, you solve more problems and learn more by listening and discover that the problems are the same basically in every couple and one thing you do not need to know is the details of the sins of others.
At the end of the day we always find ourselves in a fallen world. I don’t want to know of the shame under the fig leaf of others.
Having failed and learned, my advice is that you focus on timeless, biblical principals and leave to the Holy Spirit the work of conviction for a long time solution.
I would love to come to see you just to hang out. You and I are not friends from yesterday but over 30 years.
My Feeble Reply:
You are not supposed to know more than I. I have been mentoring you for more than 30 years and you have paid me a lot of money, sending to my support account. But you have just saved me a lot of money today.
You have made my day by just hearing me. This has been a pay back day for me. Thank you for having invested so much time in my life.
PS – These are my notes taken as fast as I could during our phone conversation. I have submitted to my friend for his approval to share.
I do not mention the name of the saint, but only the “miracle”.
PSS – I used Julie’s name with her approval
My friend has approved this letter to be made public. Blessings!!