"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Philospher's Stone of Relationships

18th century scientists, including the brilliant Isaac Newton, were persuaded that it was possible to turn base metals into precious metals. It's hard for people today to grasp how the man who gave us Newton's laws of physics could be so captivated by a search for the philosopher's stone,  that magical rock whose touch turns base metals into precious metals.

But the desire to turn what is common into into something valuable fascinates us all. Unlike alchemy, it does seem possible for a person to turn an ordinary relationship into an extra special one.

Here's how.

There is a principle in relationships that acts like the mythical philosopher's stone. It's very application has the ability to turn an ordinary relationship into a golden one. Here is the principle:
"Every external action is the direct result of an internal reaction; when Jesus calms the core, intimacy grows all the more."
Here's how it works. If your spouse becomes accusatory and you feel under attack, the person whose core is calm can delight that his or her spouse is actually feeling. That may sound strange, so reread the preceding sentence again. It is good that people feel. Only psychopaths don't feel. It's even better that people tell you how they feel. They're giving you a peak inside them. If your internal core is under the control of Christ, you can allow your spouse to feel without becoming defensive, even if those feelings come out in the form of an attack.

For example, there are some marriages where one or both spouses are in the habit of bringing up past failures. If your one of those marriages, but your core is calmed by Christ and you find yourself resting in His forgiveness, then it's easier to allow your spouse to feel hurt and wounded and not become defensive.

Likewise, if your spouse is accusatory of about the present, your response to the accusations may indicate whether or not Jesus is calming your core. When you are in a relationship where it is being pointed out that you are deficient in your performance (whatever that  may be), if your inner core is under the control of Christ you can acknowledge the deficiency (or perceived deficiency) and validate your spouse's feelings because your true and eternal acceptance is settled by the One who ultimately counts. God's acceptance of you is not based upon your performance, and that knowledge is the only thing that ultimately settles your internal core to allow your spouse to feel you are inadequate.

Accepted people accept people. Forgiven people forgive people. Loved people love people. Encouraged people encourage people.

You get the idea. The philosopher's stone of all relationships is the grace of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He can calm our internal cores. Once He does, every external actions springs from a healthy inner core.

If you are in a marriage where meltdowns are a common occurrence, reflect a while on the statement "every external action is the direct result of an internal reaction; when Jesus calms the core, intimacy grows all the more."

The definition of intimacy is 'into-me-you-see.' When you allow your spouse to feel; when you don't take personally the meltdown of the one you love; when you let God take care of your spouse's internal satisfaction and refuse to depend on anyone else's acceptance but God's; when you understand that the only person you can control is you, and God is at work in you completing what He began when Christ took up residence inside you by His Spirit; then you can let your spouse struggle, feel, be in internal turmoil and be okay with it and love your spouse 100% of the time.

It takes two people to fight, and the Bible says 'you get angry because you don't get what you desire." What do you desire internally? Acceptance? Forgiveness? Love? You have it from God in Christ. Now let your spouse feel and be okay with how he or she feels, because your love should not depend on the performance of your spouse. "By this will others know that we are His... when we love one another."

Too many people are not allowed to feel in relationships, because feelings are taken by the other person as their own reality. When it is said, "I feel disappointed with you because you didn't...." we too often respond with anger, withdrawal, frustration, or other negative reactions because we are desperately wanting to be calmed by the well-being of our spouse. If I'm healed by Christ in my core, then I can delight that my spouse is able to express her disappointment (even if her disappointment is with me) because she is truly feeling and sharing with me what she is feeling. She is letting me see inside her. That is 'in-to-me-you-see' (intimacy) at its very core.

It just takes one person to apply this principle in relationships. The other person will eventually understand that he or she is being loved regardless of his performance. That's a very rare kind of love.

So, my goal in my marital relationship is to validate my spouse's feelings, because I know those feelings are never an accurate reflection of my real worth. Feelings expressed only accurately reflect what my spouse is feeling, and I love my spouse for taking the risk of sharing with me what it is that is being felt inside. I'm not in control of my spouse's internal feelings (only God is), but I can sure listen, validate, love, and feel no need to defend myself.

That's golden.

I promise you....

When you begin to understand that every external action towards your spouse is the direct result of an internal reaction within you, you will begin to focus on what Jesus is doing in you in terms of calming your core.

You are not your spouse's problem, nor is your spouse your problem. We suffer meltdowns internally and externally because we either haven't come to know or accept -- or maybe we have temporarily forgotten -- who we are by the grace of God.

I am forgiven by His grace. I am loved by His grace. I am accepted by His grace. I am guided by His grace. I am perfect by His grace. I am His.

Jesus Christ is my Philosopher's Stone.

In His Grace,


P.S.  Those who are experiencing illegal, unethical or immoral behavior by someone in authority should calmly and boldly involve civil authorities (police and/or the courts), because God has ordained civil authorities to hold in check the wicked. By not calling civil authorities, the abuser's actions reveal the inner core is not being calmed by Jesus and His grace. Only Jesus can  give the assurance that life is possible without the abuser present.


goobergal said...

Thank you for posting this Wade. It is just what I nedded to hear this morning.

Christiane said...

you have a very strong sense of the ancient Christian meaning of 'the Peace of Christ'

, if you think about, among Christian people there is very little room for ‘being offended by others’ . . . not when we have sought forgiveness of our own sins made possible through the terrible sufferings of Christ for our sake.
‘Being offended by someone’ no longer has much meaning in our lives when we think on the grace we ourselves have received from Our Lord . . . He took the pain of the world upon Himself at the Cross and bore all the torment that our sins brought Him,
and yet, after His Resurrection, He returns to us with these words:

'Peace be with you'

Gordon said...

Thanks for your core values on how to cope should we find ourselves becoming punching bags for verbal attacks from sick people. Remember who you are in Christ and rise above their ingratitude and false accusations. Tell yourself that it is not they who are ranting and raving but rather some darker forces within themselves.
Try to defuse the immediate situation by keeping calm and by closely observing their behavior, but don't absorb their spirit. Remain as detached and cool in the situation as you possibly can, and don't allow yourself to be drawn into becoming part of the supply chain for their psychological dysfunctionality . Remember: Observe but don't Absorb !
Should the outbursts form a pattern of behavior, the situation could become dangerous and outside help is required for protection and restoration.

Wade Burleson said...

I love the 'observe but don't absorb' phraseology, Gordon! I'm borrowing that one!


Wade Burleson said...


Thanks for the kind words!

Gordon said...

I hope you will keep reminding us of the liberating force there is in holding on to our core identity being in Jesus Christ, above all others.

We live our lives within a circle of relationships with family, friends,work, church, etc . Sooner or later we may encounter a person who is a malignant narcissist who seeks to transfer his guilt and load of pain, inadequacy, failure and fear onto someone else. He projects this onto another and then attacks them in a quixotic manner for being the person of his own delusion.

This can be very unsettling for the recipient if he/she is not firmly grounded in those core beliefs and assurances in Christ that you so clearly set out.

Your message contains Good Hope for many struggling with some difficult relationship at present.

Alaskan in Texas said...

Excellent and field-tested truths, Brother Wade!
"I want you to want me." ...
"I can't live if livin' is without you." ...
"You complete me."
Pop culture is chock full of phrases that represent precisely the opposite of what your post is teaching. The practical truths you discuss here need to be shared over and over again among fellow believers because of the barrage of false standards that come to us from TV, music, movies, and even our closest friends and well-intended family members.
I have heard the saying, "Hurt people hurt people." It's true. But I hadn't thought it through until I read your extension the idea: "Loved people love people," and "forgiven people forgive people," etc. That's good stuff. I guess it's an easily understood outworking of the principle Jesus taught in the parable of the Unforgiving Servant.
Good stuff, Wade. Thank you.

Curious Thinker said...

Great post. This doesn't just apply to married couples it oculd apply to friends, relatives, etc. I understand even though it is natural for us to feel the need to defend ourselves when being attacked especially if he think we are being unfairly condemned. I don't think we should become anyone's dormats but I get would what your are saying about how to handle someone who is verbally lashing out. Sometimes it's good to just let them rant and try remain calm and collected and sometimes be patient and forgiving even if you think you were treated unfairly by the help from Christ. God Bless.

Victorious said...

I wasn't going to comment about this post because it hit too close to home in my current situation.

My 46 yr. old son sent me nearly 75 emails two days ago blaming me for just about everything bad that happened to him in his whole life. When I gently tried to correct his false perceptions of a number of incidents, he lashed out even harder. I let him vent and express his anger and then told him we could resume our conversation when it could be in a more civil tone. Then he proceeded to call me self-righteous, callous, insensitive, and used some pretty strong swear words.

I'm crushed. I believe his blaming me is an effort to avoid accepting responsibility for his own poor choices and decisions. I honestly examined my parenting and while I admitted I wasn't perfect, believe I didn't deserve the blame he was trying to impose on me and said as much. I tried to reply with some of his good, positive childhood accomplishments and how proud we were of him, but he ignored them and continued his tirade.

I would appreciate your prayers. This man is a Christian who has walked away from the Lord and is attending some groups that have asked him to investigate some of the dynamics in his family of origin. That would be me... lol

Victorious said...

Just want to add...

I don't expect the problem I posted to be easily resolved, but I am curious about the line that's crossed when an adult child continues to blame a parent.

Wade's post just hit home after these things transpired.

Thank you, Wade. As I've said before, I so appreciate your insights as well as those of the commenters here.

Gordon said...

To Victorious,

Your friends will uphold you in prayer , and all those who suffer rejection for Christ sake. Great is your reward in Heaven. ( Matt 5: 10-12)

Here is our prayer for your son ;
" The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace".(Numbers 6: 24-26)

Victorious said...

Thank you so much, Gordon.

Wade Burleson said...


I think, in God's providence, you read this post.

My prayer for you is that God will heal the crushing effects of the attack and strengthen you from further crushing.

Obviously, your son is empty and 'tapped out' on the inside - that's not your issue, it is his.

Nevertheless, I know you love your son and will be praying for him (as I have already done today).

Thanks, always, for your comments.

You are correct - no easy solutions, but just knowing a possible answer to why you feel so devastated might help a little.


Victorious said...

Thank you, Wade.

As much as I love my son, I know our Heavenly Father loves him more. I'm resting in that.

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Matt. 11:28

Christiane said...

sometimes people lash out against those that they know love them most for reasons even they cannot understand . . . when the storm is calmed, it may be because the person against whom the anger was sent did not return it in kind, but absorbed the pain and returned love instead

Our Lord came to calm many storms, some over the waters, some in the hearts of men . . .

and His followers are able to bring peace to troubled hearts when anger is not returned in kind,
and not met with rejection

there is a strength in Christianity that has to do with bearing within us the 'peace of Christ' for the sake of those who need Him and are troubled . . . this is a part of a Christian's mission in this world: to meet its pain and bring Christ's love to that encounter

Victorious said...

Wise, words, Christiane.

Anonymous said...

Good post, Wade. I will read it to the family.

Victorious, I'm sorry to hear of your pain. I will pray that God will grace your son (he happens to be my age) with the truth and would free him from being deceived so that your relationship in Christ would be progress to be abundantly full.

Having always respected the wealth of knowledge you have shown in your comments (here and abroad), your son has one heck of a mom. :)


Victorious said...

Thank you, Ken. Both your prayers and the kind compliment are appreciated.

Victorious said...

Just a note to say I got an email this a.m. from my son and while it wasn't apologetic, it wasn't accusatory either. At least he's willing to resume our communication. I'm replying with carefully chosen words and of course, with prayer.

Thank you for your prayers!

RRR said...


Thank you for being so transparent in sharing something that is very personal and painful for you. Our family has experienced similar circumstances and we learned a lot from having gone through the process that you're going through now.

I found that the description of your situation is VERY typical of what occurs to many of us parents when our grown children experience the painful circumstances of their own unwise decisions. In our case it was circumstances brought about by our grown child's addiction to illegal substances. I do not know whether your case involves a son addicted to "substances" but it describes the mindset of someone who is dependent upon some sort of destructive substances/behavior that consumes their lives. We found through our involvement in support groups for family members of addicts that your description is exactly what all of us in the support groups experienced. We were relieved to discover that it has NOTHING to do with our parenting but it is a common tactic of addicts to shift the blame of their poor circumstances upon those they know love them. We then suffer from misplaced feelings of guilt and regret about circumstances beyond our control and brought about by "their" poor decisions.

They do this to control we "co-dependents" and manipulate us to accommodate their continued destructive behavior. My wife and I experienced tremendous relief and freedom from this revelation recognizing it was a very common tactic used by those seeking to make us "co-dependents" upon their misery.

In our case, a miracle occurred 7 years ago and through the power of Christ we have a new son who is devoted to his new Lord! We pray, and I believe, due to your long-term, close relationship with God, that it will not be long before your son surrenders to the controlling power of The One who really cares about him and who can remedy all of the pain he is carrying around.

Sorry if this seems to be unsolicited advice. It's not intended to be that. Your message just brought our own experiences to mind.

Victorious said...

Sorry if this seems to be unsolicited advice

Hello RRR,

On the contrary! When I posted my sorrow, it was with the hope of both prayer and advice.

You are spot-on in your analysis of the situation! His addictions are pot and porn for nearly 25 yrs. He gets the victory for awhile and then relapses. His wife gives him (another) ultimatum; they go for more counseling; are told it might be a problem from his early childhood; and enter mom (again).

I'm well aware of the tactic but when I don't respond as he wants and won't accept the guilt, he blasts me with both barrels. It's cyclical...but the pain isn't any less just because of the number of times.

He came to visit me in Jan. and spent the weekend together - even got to go to a hockey game together and then the cycle began again it seems.

Thank you for sharing your experience, RRR, it really confirms for me the dynamics involved are not my imagination.

I'm praying He will turn again to Jesus and find relief from his pain and victory over his addiction. Either way, he can be assured of my love.

Victorious said...


How thoughtless of me....

I'm so happy for the miracle your son has experienced in his life as well the peace you and your wife have found since. I'm praying the same for my son so thank you for giving me hope.

A. Amos Love said...


You are one of my favoritous people in the kingdom of blogdom. ;-)

I pray you experience His Joy in the midst of this challenge.

Because - The Joy of the Lord is your strength...

And - weeping may endure for a night,
but joy comes in the morning.

And They that sow in tears shall reap in joy

So, I pray 10 happy faces upon Victorious’s heart...

:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

Because, ALL things are possible only believe…105

A. Amos Love said...


Psalm 23:1-6
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures:
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul:
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies:
You anoint my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 23:1-6.
The LORD Jesus is *Victorious’s* Shepherd;
And, * Victorious* shall not want or lack - For anything...
The Lord God Almighty offers to * Victorious* peace and rest.
To lie down in green pastures, rest in Him and cease from her own works.
Jesus, the Prince of Peace desires is leading * Victorious*...
Beside the still waters. Filled with His Joy and His Peace and His Love.
The Lord our Healer desires to restore * Victorious’s* soul:
From those words which have torn it apart, and tampled on it...
The Lord desires to heal * Victorious’s* heart...
From ALL the hurts, pains, rejections, abandonments and hurtful words...

The Holy Spirit leads * Victorious* in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
Yea, though * Victorious* walks through the valley of the shadow of death,
The Valley of Abuse, The Valley of hurtful words...
* Victorious* will fear NO evil:
Because, You, the God of all comfort, Is with * Victorious*, Always...
Your rod and Your staff they comfort * Victorious*.
With your LOVE. Your acceptance, appreciation, respect, for * Victorious*.

You prepare a table before * Victorious* in the presence of her enemies:
Your enemies. Enemies of Love.
You anoint * Victorious’s* head with oil;
And * Victorious* is a King and a Priest unto you Lord,
An Ambassador of Love. Your Bride and Your Friend.
* Victorious’s* cup is truly overflowing. With your Love.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow * Victorious*
All the days of her life:
And * Victorious* will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

“He restores my soul…”

Victorious said...

Wow, A. Amos Love! What a beautiful comment! I felt your love all the way down here in Florida...so much so that your personalization of that scripture just for me brought tears to my eyes.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

God's people are so wonderful....

Janet said...

Hi Wade,

I searched your site for your theology of forgiveness and found some good applications but no clear definitions. I respect your allegiance to the truth of scripture vs the doctrines of any faith system. With that, I am troubled by current teaching of forgiveness by those in the reformed stream. I have shared with you and others like Dee and Deb and Julianne that I was excommunicated from a reformed church for "slandering the elders" in an email to the EFCA. No lie nor gossip was ever shared, only a truth which apparently represented disrespect of the positions of church leaders.

Like Julianne, I occasionally listen to online sermons of my former church, especially when they are given by young men who are being groomed for leadership. This church recently became accredited by the Biblical Counseling Coalition. I listened to a young "deacon" preach and he cited the BCC as his source of information. The most disturbing piece of information I heard was that "true biblical forgiveness" is not simply extending forgiveness, but is incumbent upon the sinner requesting forgiveness.

I went to The Gospel Coalition site (the ultimate source of wisdom for the reformed) and searched for their thoughts on forgiveness. I found his thought confirmed repeatedly, by Ray Ortlund (“Real Forgiveness” 3/18/14), and Kevin DeYoung (“What is Forgiveness?” 9/1/12). The claim is that unilateral forgiveness is cheap grace. I believe this is untrue, dangerous, and incredibly divisive. I really think it deserves addressing. I do not have a voice, but you do. If you think it merits addressing, then go for it. I’m also going to forward this to TWW, SSB and Tim Fall’s blog.

Thanks for your brave voice. I have learned much from your teaching.

-Janet Varin